Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
John Stuart Mill
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
All generalizations are false, including this one.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
Otto Von Bismarck
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.
A witty saying proves nothing.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
All I know is I'm not a Marxist.
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
'Whoever is the most committed, wins....'
That line, from the uncomfortably prophetic film The Siege, in some ways may say everything that needs to be said about the situation in Iraq as it is evolving, just as it would have summed up Viet Nam forty years earlier. Car bombs, suicide attacks, poorly armed militias holding off the might of the biggest, best, and most powerful military force in the world--it's time to say it out loud: Holbrooke is right. Iraq is Viet Nam all over again, only worse.
Ever since Bush announced his intention to follow the PNAC 'plan' from 1989 and invade Iraq on the strength of innuendo, misinformation, and bald-faced lies, critics like me have been saying it would be Nam all over again, and from the start of the invasion the parallels have been downright spooky. Yes, the physical terrain is different--desert instead of jungle; yes, the people are different, Arabs instead of Asians; yes, there is more at stake in the Gulf than there ever was in Nam--real oil instead of imaginary dominoes; and yes, Nam was not a response to a direct attack on US soil. But the mistakes are the same: arrogance fueled by fear, lies fueled by ideology, disastrous military decisions being made by civilians for political reasons against the advice of military leaders, a steady stream of HappyTalk from the Administration and its loyalists about how much better everything is than it looks, and, most importantly, a native insurgency arising from a desire to expel a foreign occupier being defined by a blind Admin as the rumpus made by a few 'outside agitators'.
The neocon naifs in the Bush Admin are patently still in thrall to Laurie Mylroie's paranoid fantasies and Ahmad Chalabi's self-serving lies. Wolfowitz and Perle are still insisting no more troops are needed and that everything is just ducky even as we have reached and passed the 1000-death mark in a war that was supposed to be over--shades of McNamara grousing about 'negativity'; Bush is running around the country campaigning on his 'Don't listen to them' platform, pleading with people to pay no attention to the reports of chaos and confusion, incompetence and outright theft, a massively botched reconstruction, and instead trust his glowing, optimistic assessment based on--what? He doesn't say. His optimism, one imagines.
It didn't have to be this way. As Jay Bookman points out in a brilliant essay, Tikrit is as quiet as Fallujah is an uproar.
The Army's 1st Infantry Division is headquartered in Tikrit, and its footprint has been heavy and it has been felt. U.S. troops patrol the streets in relative safety, because here, if nowhere else in Iraq, they have been given the numbers to squelch opposition. "I can sit on that corner, on 'RPG Alley,' and eat an ice cream cone now," Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sinclair recently told the Associated Press, pointing on a map to the infamous city's most infamous street.
Before the invasion, the haughty amateurs who planned this brave adventure were warned that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to pacify Iraq. Rather than listen and learn, they scoffed at the four-star generals who spouted such nonsense. These men knew better, for in the Washington think tanks that had nurtured them like fragile hothouse orchids, eager Iraqi exiles had assured them that if we invaded, we would be greeted as liberators, that our path would be strewn with roses, that our leaders would be honored with statues on Baghdad squares.
Tikrit, by its silence, condemns those men for their arrogance. Here, at the very core of Saddam's strength, the difficult has been achieved. The calm may be a sullen calm, an enforced calm, but it is a calm nonetheless. This is what might have been elsewhere in Iraq if competence had been valued over blind allegiance, if we had been led into this war by serious people who understood that when you bet high stakes, you play to win and you assume nothing.
But we weren't. We were led into this war by corporate-style leaders watching the bottom line, ex-corporate executives who believe that the truth is what they say it is and that how it looks is more important than what it is, and corporate consultants who specialize in marketing attractive ideas in order to sell shoddy, defective, and useless products to people who don't need or want them. Corporate executives are valued largely on their ability to convince themselves and others that the impossible is doable, that illusions are what matter, and that products can be forced on unwilling consumers if you tell them the right lies in the right way.
Well, we elected a pile of corporate-trained, corporate-educated, corporate-indulged executives who, like all their class, were so completely cut off from reality, so thoroughly enmeshed in their own private fantasy world of success, so convinced that the lofty heights of business to which they had climbed--largely through political contacts and the Old Boy network--were the direct result of their own genius, that they virtually live in an alternate universe, a universe where their stubbornness is heroism, their incompetence is superior vision, and their blindness is loyalty. So what did we expect them to do? Suddenly become realists after spending their lives investing their energy and resources committing to an illusion? It don't work that way, people.
If we ever get out of this I hope the one lesson we take away with us, indelibly printed in the core of our brainpans, is to never never NEVER again allow corporate managers to grab the reins of government. Because while it matter who is the most committed, it matters just as much what they're committed to.
"Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik
PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.