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Stan Goff Headshot

Civilization & War Rant

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Bush is not responsible for the war in Iraq. Al Gore said during his campaign against Bush II that Bush I should have finished the job; and we never tire of pretending these days that the Clinton-Gore government was not attacking Iraq.... they were, regularly and lethally. War is inherent to civilization; and that is why we'll have more and more of it, and why it will eventually percolate from the peripheries populated by Dark Others into our suburbs.

Everything we have that we list in our catalogue of civilization is forged out of fraud, theft, and murder. The cities of the world are built up on fraud, theft, and murder. Show me the exception, and I'll take it back.

The fine woods and metals and animal guts that make the orchestras, the stones and steel and trees for our libraries, the fabric and workmanship of our clothing, and the food displayed strategically along our supermarket shelves... they all require war. They are taken from cultures who first refuse to cooperate, then who are forced to cooperate or be depopulated.

The expansive and expanding heaps of technomass -- of asphalt and glass and plastic and paint and shiny right-angles -- are scraped out of hillsides and coastlines, with the corpses of biomes and simpler cultures left behind as the mizzens of this wretched thing called civilization. The more this disease has spread, the more it has manifested and magnified its most acute symptom: war.

Technology is driven by scarcity, and scarcity by pillage, and new technology to correct for the iatrogenesis of the last technology. This is not a mark of superiority, but the cascading catastrophe of power seeking the enslavement of first women, then slaves and colonies and nature...

Conquest is a necessity to continue civilization. How long would this country last as it is without the oil from abroad? What if those abroad said, No? Be real, be realistic before you answer this question with pious abstractions. How long would things stay "stable" hereabouts if the supermarket shelves were suddenly bare? If the shutters went up on WalMart's windows? How much of what we take for granted each and every day comes from someplace else, where the cop with the truncheon stands near the worker, and the sea lane is kept open by a Naval battle group?

Every "advanced" society exists as a parasite on those less "advanced," and that can be proven empirically and decisively. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of war, because civilization is itself inherently exploitative. Los Angeles cannot exist without the water from Colorado. New York cannot exist without the "inputs" from abroad. We know damn well this is true, so we conceal it under pretty abstractions like "free market," and pretend that the wars required to maintain the power of the powerful are moral failures, anomalies within civilization instead of something as intrinsic as long ears on a rabbit.

Bring us to the point where we will at least admit of this truth; and there is a remote chance that we can figure out some tentative first steps how to stop the runaway train... that is, in the end, to change everything.

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