Thursday, July 28, 2011
The Cult of Violence
The Strawberry Statement - Give Peace a Chance... by Tushratta
Scene above is from "The Strawberry Statement" (1970), which I was in, not the first movie I was in, but the story and the process of making this picture made a significant impression on me. Actually, if I remember correctly, the movie was made in the fall of 1969, it was released in 1970, for those who are keeping track. It's loosely based on the Columbia Riots of 1968 -- that seminal year, the year that "Andrew Berwick"/Anders Breivik claims "Teh Marxist Revolution" won in Europe, and according to him, it's been downhill ever since.
Yes, well. He's wrong in that, but he wasn't there, so it's not like he could understand what went on or why or anything. 1968 is not just another time, it's another world completely as far as so many of the young are concerned.
The point, though, is that the Cult of Violence that seems so prominent now, as with our nation's many wars, commonplace police brutality, armed protest and implicit threats of violence, terror-terror-terrorist attacks, all kinds of video games, mainstream movies, television, on and on and on, this Cult of Violence was common then, too, perhaps worse in some ways than it is now. There was, for example, a war going on in Indochina that was, for all intents and purposes, a war of extermination of the Gooks, millions of whom died in the struggle, and many millions of whose descendents live with the consequences of what happened and how.
The attacks in Norway are just one more example of today's Cult of Violence, but it's one that may have more import down the road as so many of the Whitest Rightists are scrambling to defend the killer without openly condoning his actions. It's a tricky balancing act, and they haven't quite got the party propaganda line down, but one of the excuses they've made for him is that he killed other white people, not Muslims, so he wasn't actually an "anti-Muslim terrorist." Except that, of course, among the dead and wounded were a number of Muslim youth, but I guess they don't count because, well, they were at a Hitler Youth Rally and had obviously been "assimilated."
Militant white folk are a problem in the world. They have been for quite a long time when you think about it, and the Norse (Norwegians, Normans, "Vikings") were prominent trouble makers for many hundreds of years. All over Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa. Let's not be coy here. To go a-Viking is to travel around to fuck other people up, take their stuff, and slaughter their ass. Not pretty. "Berserk."
I've had a few dealings with militant white folk in my time, worked for a while in a Danish community down the California coast, even managed to shake the hand of the Queen of Denmark when she came to call one sunny day ("Eh, those Scandinavian royals, they're so down to earth! Eh!"), learned to say "Uff Da!" among the militant Norwegians around here, had close Belgian and Dutch friends back in the day, and counted a Swedish actress among my closest friends when time was.
All of them, I think, had a very strong tendency to celebrate their Whiteness, and some, truth to tell, were quite militant -- the word might be "racist" -- in their defense of White Folk and their Kultur. Yes, yes, yes. Boring. Boring.
So far as I know, none of them ever used violence to protect their White Women and Kultur, but I have no doubt that some were quite prepared to do so... "if necessary."
What does that mean? If the Brownies and the Svartzies got too full of themselves, you know, "uppity" as it were, one would have to do what one would have to do. That's just "common sense."
Which is often how members of the Cult of Violence -- whether they are militant White Folk or not -- see their mission. It's just "common sense." Right.
Ironically -- at least to me -- I've often been accused of being a promoter of violence because of my (qualified) admiration for certain Revolutionaries (such as Che himself, ahem) and my extensive use of Revolutionary imagery, cant and rhetoric throughout my written works.
Revolution is by its nature "violent" right? Bluntly, it depends on which end you're on. Many peoples have committed acts of peaceful revolution, in other words, only to be met with surpassing violence by Authority. That's what the clip above was dramatizing.
One of the things I've long pointed out, though, is that Revolutionary Fervor today is almost exclusively found among the Rightists -- who are typically, though not exclusively, the Whitest. And they are quite prone to violence of all kinds.
In many ways, the Muslim Terrorists With Whom We Are In Forever War, are reacting to the violence that have been imposed upon them by the European (White, hello?) Powers for hundreds of years. And yet, I wonder. Would they be reacting violently if it were not for their Muslim Rightist fundamentalism? It's hard to say, I don't know, but there is no doubt that Rightist ideology is one of the common threads throughout the Cult of Violence, no matter who the perpetrators are.
They all believe in essentially the same thing: their own superiority, their own fundamentalist beliefs (which they often confuse with "Principle"), and the disrespect of -- and most especially de-humanization of -- the Other, who, ultimately, is any and all opposition to Their Chosen Way.
Violence is systemic in this world view. The only way Rightists know to beat their opponents is through physical or psychological or emotional violence. Anyone who does not believe as they do is by definition their "opponent," but more importantly, the very existence of opposition is an existential threat to Rightists who, as "Berwick"/Breivik does, despise the very idea of "multi-culture," multi-beliefs, multi-ethnicities, multi-points of view. All has to be subsumed under one way, their way, or there is no way at all.
The official violence against Peace Activists in the movie clip is mirrored, for example, in the violence against Peace Activists at the 2008 political conventions, violence that is still being pursued, years afterwards, by US Attorneys (FITZ!!!) determined to stamp out the subversive leftist existential threats to the nation who publicly conspire to advocate for Peace. Any rational society would consider this to be insane, but in America, "leftist activism" is by definition a threat that must be suppressed. With violence if necessary.
Or you can look at the Israeli response to the Gaza Flotilla last year. (This year's response is a bit different, but the point is still to dehumanize the Other and deal with it violently "if necessary.")
The Cult of Violence and Rightist Revolution can be a good deal more subtle of course, as we've seen throughout the country in the extraordinary efforts of Republican governors and legislators to overthrow decades of common interest and practice and replace it with a repressive and restrictive New Order. Meanwhile in Washington, DC, another version of what's been going on in the States has been playing out with the deadlock over raising the debt limit (oh, and changing everything to more strictly follow the Rightist tenets of Suffering for the Masses, Liberation for the Masters.)
It's all of a piece.
Of course the Norway handling (Norwegian for "action") was spectacular and horrifying in the extreme. That was the point of it. There have been endless calls for Norway now to "change" its ways, for its government now to become more intrusive and oppressive, not so much toward the Rightist Revolutionaries that have apparently found a welcome home among the white militants there, but toward the Muslim Horde that is overwhelming "Peaceful Norway." Which is of course what Revolutionary Crusader/Rightist "Berwick/Breivik was advocating all along.
You see how this works?
The Cult of Violence is believed in so sincerely in part because it has been, and is still, so successful in shifting the beliefs of others its way. It does not take many Believers in the Cult to have a disastrous effect on far more Others. As we've seen, over and over again, a single individual, motivated, suffused with Belief, and (as in the case of "Berwick"/Breivik) hopped up on steroids and other drugs, is quite capable of shifting the parameters that Others rely on all on his own.
I wish it were a lesson...