Wednesday, July 07, 2004

 

Herbert Marcuse, "Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society"

Recently I was recommended this article by Herbert Marcuse. The more theoretical aspects of it are very interesting, so I recommend reading the article in its entirety. However, reading it, I was struck by the relevence of the article, written in 1967, to the present-day United States and the current war in Iraq. Excerpted below an especially apt passage, which could easily be manipulated to reflect the situation in Iraq (replace "jungle" with "desert", etc.):

The (anonymous) lead article in Les Temps Modernes (January 1966) links the war in Vietnam with the puritan tradition in the United States. The image of the enemy is that of dirt in its most repulsive forms; the unclean jungle is his natural habitat, disembowelment and beheading are his natural ways of action. Consequently, the burning of his refuge, defoliation, and the poisoning of his foodstuff are not only strategic but also moral operations: removing of contagious dirt, clearing the way for the order of political hygiene and righteousness. And the mass purging of the good conscience from all rational inhibitions leads to the atrophy of the last rebellion of sanity against the madhouse: no satire, no ridicule attends the moralists who organize and defend the crime. Thus one of them can, without becoming a laughingstock, publicly praise as the “greatest performance in our nation’s history,” the indeed historical achievement of the richest, most powerful, and most advanced country of the world unleashing the destructive force of its technical superiority on one of the poorest, weakest, and most helpless countries of the world.

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