The Bartender Speaks

Billmon responds to some comments at his Whiskey Bar.  The comments from those readers/commenters to which he is responding are outlined in bold font.

otherwise, just wipe out your army once the war is over, so that you’re left with only law-abiding peaceful civilians.

Well, that’s essentially what we used to do – up until World War II. It was called demobilization.

 But we’ve been a permanent war footing more or less for the past 60 years. After each war – Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War – there’s usually been a modest attempt to cut back on the military, but those efforts have gotten progressively weaker as the M-I complex has gotten progressively stronger.

the old loyalty – to the constitution of a sovereign republic – may also be untenable in the new world order” What most people don’t realise is that means an extreme loyalty to the state, and with the crappy anti-government stuff from Repubs and loony Libertarians, this has basically disappeared in the US”

That’s an interesting point, and probably helps explain the increasingly fascist tendencies within the conservative movement, and the Christian fundamentalist wing of that movement in particular.

The movement has invested an enormous amount of political capital in demonizing the non-military side of the federal government – which the Christian right now basically regards as the devil’s service bureau. So loyalty to the government – and to the constitution as conventionally interpreted by “mainstream” judges – has become problematic. It conflicts too much with the prevailing ideology within the movement.

As a result, that loyalty – or what conservatives perceive as patriotism – is migrating to more hospitable destinations, such as the person of the leader (who is, after all, a “good Christian man”), to the military establishment (the “good” federal goverment) and to abstract symbols like the flag and the concept of the “homeland,” which can defined as a kind of reactionary ideal of America, cleansed of gays, atheists, liberals, etc.

The final step in the process, I think, is the creation of a legal doctrine that negates traditional constitutional doctrines – the separation of church and state, checks on executive power, congressional power of the purse, etc. In effect, this doctrine (which is more propagandistic than legal)becomes the basis for a new authoritarian pseudo-constitution, which can be held up to the movement faithful as the real one.

 It’s easy to imagine where this might lead: If you can convince enough military people that the real Constitution is whatever the party says it is, then you’ve converted their solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution into an oath of loyalty to the party. And if you can convince them that the party is whatever the leader says it is, then you’ve turned it into a personal oath of loyalty to the leader.

 That’s why the legal memos now floating up out of the Justice Department and the Pentagon are so appalling.

They’re further steps along the road that eventually replaces the Constitution with the leader’s will.


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