It is fitting that the initial phase of the U.S. attack on Libya was overshadowed in the media by college basketball finals, popularly and quite appropriately known as March Madness. Wars, akin to dated sitcom reruns, have no hope for ratings share considering the competition. And a company like Sony won’t pay to advertise its new Playstation game Kill Zone 3 during scripted and predictable news of another desert intervention. Perhaps the press should have just phoned in coverage of the action by playing clips from the films G.I. Jane and The American President, both depicting a conflict with Tripoli. The public would doubtless be comforted that Commander-in-Chief Michael Douglas has sent Demi Moore and her fellow-SEALs to teach the Libyans a lesson in democracy.
Our absurd fantasy state reflects the approach of a monstrous reality- a world empire, declaring itself the embodiment of universal good, moves to subjugate any points of opposition to its rule. From this chaos emerges a counterfeit order, and before us appears a premonition of Yeats’ rough beast, “with a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun”.
The NATO air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is so far a variant of the Kosovo template, a range of measures used to destroy Serbian sovereignty in 1999. While a no-fly zone to protect civilians in rebel-held
Colonel Gaddafi, the eccentric and flamboyant lion of
Paranoids and megalomaniacs furnish history with its color and cruelty. Whatever his delusions of grandeur may be, Gaddafi is but one minor tyrant with limited means; more disquieting is the power of a planetary despotism enforcing its vision of a liberated humanity.
The future belongs to the “free”, or so the refrain goes. Color-coded revolutions and antiseptic humanitarian bombing advance “universal rights”, showing the way to democracy and consumer opportunities for every nation and tribe. Muslims, we are told, will soon enough forget the words of Mahomet and embrace Mammon. This Coca-Cola commercial of manufactured bliss is ordained our destiny, and every cruise missile fired is yet another step toward its realization.
Herein lies true madness, the tyranny of desire. Conceived without sin, modern man proclaims his will to transgression divine and embarks upon the total organization of an earthly kingdom. Eternal progress, the ascent to god-like power, permits the exploitation of the entire Cosmos. Everything- not only natural resources, but sex, cultural identity, religion and human life itself- is subject to the overriding ethic of consumption. Video-game wars for democracy, the latest of which happens to be above the oil-rich sands of the
After the European upheaval of 1848, the great Spanish counter-revolutionary Juan Donoso Cortes would chart the course of “people power” coupled with technical advances to its logical end:
In antiquity there could be only one tyranny on the grand scale, that of
. But now, Gentlemen, how changed are things! The way is prepared for a gigantic tyrant: colossal, universal, immense. Everything is preparing the way…There is no longer any defense, either physical or moral. There are no physical defenses, because with steamships and railways there are no frontiers; because with the electric telegraph, there are no distances; and there are no moral defenses, because spirits are divided and patriotism is dead. Rome
Unlike the bourgeois constitutionalists of his day, Donoso well understood how the Enlightenment ideal of progress amounted to perpetual revolution in practice. Under the guidance of such a principle a society cannot simply stop upon one desired point of transformation; new and ever more virulent phases await it. There is scant recognition in the popular Western mind that
Nowhere is liberalism’s totalitarian nature more apparent than in today’s
The ancient peoples of Christendom have been marked for liquidation, and all
Even in the shadow of Leviathan, the love and memory that justify the existence of nations must not perish. We, the living images of our ancestors, are called to survive time’s cataclysms and share in their resurrection, a freedom in spirit and in truth.