Tragedy is no excuse for stupid actions
By Stan Goff
Since the savage attacks of September 11, we have seen the unfolding of a national ritual denunciation of this crime that is much more than an expression of outrage and sadness. If the ritual is performed incompletely or incorrectly, one risks the charge of heresy.

It's the new McCarthyism. And this is the new loyalty oath. A disciplined military-financial-industrial press is harmonizing us, and the orchestra director is our de facto executive branch.

Heresies include the failure to call for war or support our leaders when they call for war; the denial that this can be reduced to a test between good and evil; the refusal to accept official explanations; the temerity to suggest that our own rulers have committed equally offensive actions; and finally, that our own financial, political, military, and intelligence establishments bear a portion of the blame.

I retired from the U.S. Army in February 1996 after some 24 years of service. "Special Operations" was my field. That gives me a perspective on this military-macho posturing that seems to have seized the whole country.

The military, industrial and political establishment is cashing in on this tragedy, and it shouldn't serve as an excuse to be stupid.

This cannot be allowed to provoke a retreat by progressives. The admirable and poignant solidarity of New Yorkers, and many across the nation, is being contaminated by a military fetish, a mindless phallic nationalism; and instead of seeking solutions, we are seeking enemies.

And we'll find them.

History sent us a warning, but we're not listening. We ought to pay attention. We've got to interrupt this war talk and we've got to do it aggressively and on a mass scale because MUCH is at stake.

We've got to interrupt it with more than an appeal against xenophobia and the abrogation of civil liberties. We are responsible to shift attention from the motives of "Usama bin Laden and his legions of demonic followers" to the motives of the Bush administration and the capitalist governments of Europe.

I've come to assume, from my own experience, that anything I hear from the State Department or the FBI is apt to be... less than truthful. Officialdom doesn't make statements to represent reality. It constructs stories to pursue interests. Whether those stories conform to reality is incidental.

This attack will benefit the militarists in this country far more than it will benefit anyone else, and I remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Progressives in the U.S. have reason to be afraid. This unforgivable act of inhumanity will be used as an excuse to crack down on dissent here, to engage in military aggression against other peoples, and to whip up an already more-than-latent anti-Muslim xenophobia.

But the key thing to understand here is that this is pulling a lot of political and economic cookies out of the fire -- or so people like Bush believe -- and is leading us to disaster.

There is simply no security system in the world that cannot be bypassed, and there is no way to protect absolutely against these kinds of attacks.

When we accept this premise, we have to conclude that overwhelming violence in retaliation for these kinds of acts will not bring such acts to an end, but escalate the levels of overall violence. In a very short step, we can tumble from chauvinism into the abyss of repression and tribalism.

U.S. military might is not only not the solution, it's a powerful contributing factor to terrorism when it is combined with the arrogance and impunity of our foreign policies. We have the capability to overwhelm any conventional military force in the world, so no one in the world has the option to oppose those forces in a conventional way.

When those forces, or allied forces, are the ultimate guarantors of intolerable situations, or when the sovereignty of nations is swept aside, unconventional means will inevitably be employed.

If I would rather die fighting than go on living as I am, and I can't build a Tomahawk Cruise missile, then I can learn to fly a Boeing 767.

Progressives can't withdraw from the scene.

In writing on the world energy system, Mark Jones said, "The extremely finite nature of petroleum reserves was always the Achilles heel of industrial capitalism, and even now it is the great blind spot, the great point of denial at the heart of the priesthood's theology of growth and accumulation. World oil is already in sharp and irreversible decline. We remain more than ever dependent on Saudi and Iraqi oil reserves. Everything else is being or has been used up. Yet it is precisely here in this volatile geopolitical tinderbox that America and its allies are now planning to wage new, intensified war. It is hard to imagine a more suicidal course of action. As often before in history, the hubris of ruling classes conceals some real stupidity. War in the Middle East and South Asia and Afghanistan is ultimately going to be a war for control over oil. What seems to be in prospect is a military occupation of the oil fields by the major capitalist states [my emphasis], against the will of the masses there and in the teeth of furious resistance. This does not look like a promising way to guarantee long-term and vital energy supplies. Without Persian Gulf oil, world capitalism will be snuffed out quicker than the Mayan empire was. Waging war against the local population seems to be the one surefire way to lose Arab oil forever."

That's why action, even action with risks, is so critical.

Mark further pointed out that events are out of the control of the global bosses, who are now blundering from one reaction to the next in a system that was already incredibly unstable. We were already, before this catalytic event, somnambulating into the hell-hole of this global ecological, economic and political crisis.

I think it's absolutely certain, with the course we're now on, that there will be massive dislocation, suffering and degradation and we shall not be spared this time.

This attack on September 11 did not happen in a social or historical vacuum.

If the conceit of our rulers is contributing directly to the bewilderment of the people, this implies that, for clarity among the masses, the solution is not support for this priesthood of the market, and not acquiescence to this de facto political leadership, but on the contrary, its replacement.

The struggle is not for justice, but for survival.

Talking about World War III, Bush and company, in their undying hubris, really believe they can win it -- because they think it will bolster the economy and because they see what looks like an opportunity.

This insanity is not going to blow over. Tactically, we must fight this now, not after this madness develops further. Denial of this dilemma only contributes to the problem. Right now is the time for progressives to show up and grow up. Audre Lorde summed up the situation about as nicely as anyone I could imagine. "Your silence will not protect you," she said.