In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Lost, violent souls

Posted by seumasach on June 20, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

20th June, 2011

Those who have crossed

With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom

Remember us – if at all – not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.

The Hollow Men, T.S.Elliot

I remember in my school days going around with those words resonating in my mind, fascinated by them without knowing quite to what they might apply. I know now. What was Elliot’s poetic intuition, fruit of the poet’s gift as a seer, now appears to us simply as hard fact.

Who can dispute that we are “lost, violent souls”, casually going about our business as our elected government carries out war crimes on our behalf. The latest paroxysm of violence and terror, the bombing of Libya, would, you might think have been the last straw, but we appear to be unmoved despite God knows how many thousand sorties in search of targets, the wiping out of Libyan conscripts and civilians with the frenzy of a kid on playstation, on the claim that that is what they are doing. But, seemingly, it’s our job and there is no doubt that we do it better than anyone.

We are lost, violent souls but we are also hollow men. If the poetic gift is one of seeing we must be the ultimate anti-poetic culture. For all our cliches about “vision” we are above all blind to our own plight and therefore unable to formulate any meaningful strategy to deal with our problems. That we simply don’t know what we are doing is the best defence we could possibly offer at the International Criminal Court. We should plead insanity, or blindness, which amounts to the same thing.

So the violence and the bombing goes on and yet within the relevant context, the context of the creation of a global empire nothing is being achieved. Enemies assail us on all sides. It is said that we always need to create an enemy. We’ve definitely achieved that: the whole world is our enemy, the only question now being in which order to list them. Top of the list is Syria which is allied to Russia and has a Russian naval base. Then come Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan and Russia itself , of course, the ultimate enemy since it has an effective nuclear deterrent which we are desperately working to neutralise with a missile shield. Then we have China, an ally of Pakistan, and a leading force in the increasingly influential SCO. It is also a leading player in the BRICS alliance which straddles Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. China also provides the US with most of its consumer goods and holds a large proportion of the US debt, as it does also of Britain, I suspect. Even new found friends like Libya are enemies as, of course, is Libya’s friend Venezuela to say nothing of the whole of South America. Oh, and what about Zimbabwe- we haven’t heard much about her of late: how we neglect  even our greatest enemies such is the competition to join the ranks of the despised. For all we know Mugabe could be killing his own people again, like Bashir in Sudan and we’ve just taken our eye of the ball since Gaddafi started killing his own people in a simultaneous display alongside Assad in Syria. If we need an enemy we are truly fortunate not only in the number of them but in their malevolence.

But the endless war against our endless stream of enemies is not going well and with reverses on all fronts it would be well to rethink. This is especially true as our reverses are now on the propaganda as well as the military front. We always used to pride ourselves on always winning the propaganda war but now our motives are being increasingly questioned and our version of events once universally accepted as fact, is being brought into question not only by both foreign media outlets, like Press TV, RT, Telesur but by impertinent interventions by foreign leaders like Putin, Chavez, Zuma, Kirchner and countless others. But they would say those things, wouldn’t they? Yes, they would because they also occupy the same planet and seek their place in it and have their own interests, cultures and peoples to defend.

But we are blind to all that. We will fight and we will be right. This is where the hollowness comes in, the lack of any real substance, any real grasp of reality. We live life as a dream where we are the only players or the only ones who count. We’re basically a bunch of hippies minus the “Peace, man”mantra. We just won’t give peace a chance- that would be weakness and we mustn’t be seen to be weak. All is not lost- we still have an awful lot of military hardware and small pockets of consumption are still to seen in the largely bombed out imperial  heartlands. But we’re in for a very rude awakening and it’s still the blind leading the blind into the abyss with no De Gaulle or Gorbachev in sight to lead us to the elementary realization that we share this world with others.

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