Sunday, February 18, 2007

IOZ on American Exceptionalism

America is a land fond of its own myths, certainly, and we hold a uniquely childish view of ourselves as constitutionally (and Constitutionally) incapable of the violence and depradations of "statecraft" as practiced everywhere else, by every other people, in ever other era in the whole sordid history of humankind. Because of this, our democratic experiment is a sputtering failure. Without candid self-assessment, there can be no improvement. (In this regard, too, we prove ourselves no better or worse than the international norm.) Of course we do commit the same crimes, suborn the same criminalities, and utilize the same violence as other countries. If we are unique, we are so in that our immense economy and vast military can affect destruction on a significantly larger geographic scale than other countries can plan and/or afford. It remains, nevertheless, a matter of degree. What the US has done/is doing in Iraq, Russia did in Chechnya, and Colombia does to itself. There is a certain fractal quality to our human horrors--in their basic structure, they are the same at every scale.

Otherwise, we're extraordinary only in our capacity for self-deception. As Justin points out in his post, an unusually intelligent adult American like Glenn Greenwald, an educated, well-read, reasonably thoughtful man with a lawyer's capacity to gather and marshall evidence to an argument, a man quite clearly well above the American norm in his capacity to synthesize disparate data into a cogent whole, remains nevertheless able to deny the plain history of action by his own country because it doesn't accord with some a priori convictions about what actions the United States would or would not conditionally engage in.
Nerdified link, which riffs on a theme laid out here. Like I will repeat for as long as needed, Bu$hCo is a symptom of a disease that runs far deeper. Yeah, that collection of savage thugs will be a symptom worth removing, but the underlying Zeitgeist that would create a Bu$hCo will merely continue to metastasize.

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