Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What to Remember

Today, I'm going to be an asshole. I'm going to piss on a parade that a whole lot of people can't even bring themselves to think bad things about, let alone say. No, I'm not talking about Obama (I'm Canadian, see. About Obama I could give two tugs of a dead rat's tail.)

Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in the Great White North. And I'm going to talk dirt about it.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's not the dead I think ill of, though I will say they were sad, deluded fools to 'give' their lives the way they did. Give? Hell, the Thought for the Day at WRH says it quite nicely:

I hate it when they say, "He gave his life for his country." Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them."-- Admiral Gene LaRocque

Sort of sums it up, yeah? Same for the soldiers who managed to survive the wars more or less intact (less a limb here, more an acquired psychosis there.)

There's a school of thought, a science really, called ponerology. No, I didn't think you'd ever heard of it; that's for a reason, believe me. Ponerology is the study of evil, or more specifically, the study of the social effects of psychopathic influence. Between 2% and 6% of the population in any given society is psychopathic, by which I mean, they lack the neural circuitry that gives normal people a conscience, the ability to feel empathy, the feeling of guilt when they do something wrong. You might well say they lack a soul. Now, the number fluctuates; some societies do a very good job of keeping their psychopaths under control. Such societies have talented human beings in positions of power and influence, and generally, they prosper. In other societies, it's the pathological few who sit in the halls of power, and they set things up to keep the normals down; such societies are marked by the penury in which the common people exist, and the arbitrary privelage the pathocrats excercise over them. There's usually more pathological types in those benighted lands: people who would be normal otherwise acquire psychopathy from the social environment (like a disease.) Of course neither condition is permanent: ponerogenesis is the process whereby the former degenerates into the latter; when the latter ruins itself, as it inevitably must, a new (and healthy) society grows from its ashes.

You get three guesses as to which kind of society we're living in now (and no, the first two don't count.)

Why am I talking about all this? Quite simple, really. Pathocrats are desperately afraid of being found out by the normals; they know they're outnumbered to such a degree that should the normals ever unite against them, they're screwed six ways from Sunday. So they have a number of methods they use to keep the normals from uniting against them, and of those methods one of their favorites is war. Psychopaths are masters of manipulation, you see, and in full flower as pathocrats - with the power of the media to mold the thoughts of the masses - they're able to induce a pervasive fear of some outer enemy. From fear, hate is always sure to follow, and then it's only a hop, skip and a jump until your sons and husbands and brothers are dressed in fine uniforms and lining up for slaughter in the charnel house that is modern combat.

Those who die, are made heroes, beatified in poem and song, their deaths held up as an example for others to follow. There's a poem like this that every Canadian knows:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Written by Lt. Col. John McCrae as he stared out over the vast graveyards of WWI, this poem is recited across the country on every Remembrance Day, the day when we remember those sacrified in war, give their souls our thanks for the freedoms they've protected, and vow 'never again'. Well, ostensibly; if you read the verses objectively, it doesn't really align with those aims. We all know there's more to poppies than remembrance, and I wonder if the invocation of this imagery isn't meant to have a narcotic effect on the reader's powers of critical thinking? Following this we're introduced to the Dead, whom the poem ostensibly speaks for, who urge us to 'take up [their] quarrel with the foe' ... which to me, looks like an effort to stimulate us into combat, not an urging towards peace.

Of course, it's not just the dead the pathocracy profit from. The survivors are useful too. War heroes to a man, of course, and they cling desperately to the myth of their own heroism, for to imagine that they marched through to the ninth circle of hell for no good reason at all is too much. Every survivor who comes back has been thoroughly broken, broken inside or outside or broken to the harness or all three at once. Having passed through the fires of hell for their flag, they'll never for the rest of their lives question the rectitude of what they did ... and what was done to them. And who will look a war hero in the eye, and tell him his friends died for nothing?

No, not even I. I'm not that cruel. Sometimes, it's better to just nod your head, and move along.

So what should we remember, this Remembrance Day? We're supposed to focus on the dead soldiers, of course, and think nothing of why they died save for a vague impression that they died for a noble cause. If you point out that they deaths were nothing but an atrocity, carried out for the enrichment of the rich and the accumulation of more power by the powerful ... well, no one wants to hear that, do they? No one wants to imagine that they were duped, as were their parents and their grandparents and their great-grandparents and every generation back to Caeser's when he dragooned half of Roman manhood into ten long years of foreign campaigning ... and quite a bit further back than that. The cognitive dissonance induced by suggesting, even obliquely, that we've all been fools, is just too painful for most to endure. It's easier to voice fine words like honor and patriotism and loyalty and brotherhood; to believe that the fight was one of good against evil and not one orchestrated by the same evil controlling both sides; to imagine that we were bringing the benefits of civilization to the savages, and not enslaving them and looting their lands for no better motive than base greed.

If you want to remember something, remember how every single time we were tricked into war. Remember the tricksters' true motives. Remember that the soldiers on either side were just ordinary men, tricked into mutual slaughter. Remember that every time, we all say 'never again' ... and it always happens again, because we never remember why it happened.


Randall said...

So, that's the Canadian version of Veterns Day here?
People hangs flags. No one questions.
Probably the same everywhere else too.

Matthew Shultz said...

Pretty much, yeah. My understanding of veterans day is that it's a bit more of the jingoistic flag waving, a bit less of the quiet reflection ... but the basic point is the same.

Penny said...

hey matthew:
canadian eh?

back bacon, toques, beer

and every other cheezy icon associated with us folk?

I have been checking out your blogs since you posted on nobody's blog.

Seeing what you are all about.
I thought about doing a post on rememberance day myself, but , didn't bother.

Did you don the poppy this year?
I didn't.
Haven't for several years now.
I hate that they have all the vets standing outside of the doors of stores and malls , with there metals. holding the box of poppies.
hate it!
It's like guilt me into a donation and taking a poppy.
It like massive nation scale brainwashing,
I hate it.

and your right no one questions.
they just salute.
my other beef is the 'we support the trooops' stickers and lawn signs, my ass.
If you support the troops in Afghanistan, you would demand they come home.
anyway, good stuff, I will keep on checkin in.

I am debating which blog to link to of yours? Can you get both blogs from this one?
I'll check back in later, thanks mathew

Matthew Shultz said...

A lot of those 'veterans' aren't. They didn't fight, at any rate; WWII's far enough in the past now that those men are mostly dead.

And that's why it's easier to say such things.

As to which blog to link to, well ... it depends on what you want to read. Moon-Food is where I sound off on things that anger me; Psychegram is where I speculate about the world, and how things work. They're separate for a reason.

Penny said...

I like spouting off and speculating about the world,
choices, choices???
I'll keep checking in and figure out which one tickles me fancy the most
good day to ya