Recently by Justin Raimondo: Adelson, Gingrich, and the Selling of America
There’s always a Looming Danger, an Ominous Threat lurking somewhere — that’s the War Party’s bread-and-butter. Back in the day, it was the Germans, who were going to cross the Atlantic and meet their Japanese allies somewhere near the Mississippi. Then it was the Commies, who were not only in the process of swallowing Asia but supposedly had their Fifth Column right here in the US, ready willing and able to take the Capitol at a signal from the Kremlin. After that there was some hesitation in deciding just who or what would take the place of the Red Threat, but that was decided on September 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden’s Global Caliphate emerged as the Bogeyman of the moment. It turned into quite a long moment, as we have seen, one that still lingers to this day, even after bin Laden’s death and the crushing of al-Qaeda: Americans, being sentimentalists, hang on to their villains long after their shelf life has expired.
That’s because these dark eminences are alluring, in their way: the narratives we construct tell us a story we can be proud of, a tale of derring-do in which the American people are made of Heroic Stuff, holding aloft the Torch of Freedom lest it be extinguished by rampaging hordes of Orcs, sacrificing their pelf, their liberty — and, often, their lives — in the name of Saving the World.
The Threat has great value to our rulers: they cling to this narrative because it justifies their power, and their insatiable desire for more. President Barack Obama started out his recent state of the union address by invoking the Threat and holding up the military’s response to it as a shining example:
u201CThese achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.u201D
Yes, just imagine if civil society was organized along military lines, with all of us taking orders from our commander-in-chief — what a glorious time it would be!
Our rulers invoke these militaristic metaphors as exhortations to get us in line: we hear much about u201Cunity,u201D u201Cunselfishness,u201D glorification of u201Cthe missionu201D (whose mission?). These are the bromides uttered by tyrants and would-be tyrants, who would love to turn society into a civilian army. Their vision of the future is of a collective marching in lockstep down the road to whatever hellish fate they have in store for us.
These days, however, they are having a harder time convincing us of the reality of the Threat. This is true for a number of reasons, but the main source of our skepticism is the overwhelming certainty that the Threat is coming not from without but from within. No, not in the presence of those Mooslims, in spite of the Israel Lobby‘s best efforts: no, not from the long-gone Commie Conspiracy or the u201Cmilitiasu201D that were the favored bogeyman of the Clinton era. Instead, the Threat springs from something deeper, a force connected to the way our society works and has been working since the inauguration of the modern era: it is the looming threat of national bankruptcy.
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.