Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, there is a narrative of sacrifice of honor; we remember veterans. We extol those who are living and remember the dead. This takes place in a larger narrative that accepts the fact that the United States has gone to war, attempted -- if not succeeded -- in achieving its ends, and internalized the cost of that war for ourselves. Memorial Day never measures the cost of war to those we fought, the civilian populations we have killed and the fact that by fighting wars we are made more unsafe. 

We are more free. This is the constant adage to which our whole society accepts, like a doctor prescribing what we really need and we are not in any place to question the doctor, let alone the narrative. This narrative takes hold because so many of our relatives, friends and family have lost someone in those past conflicts. To question the immorality of war, its happening, undermines the individual who fights in that war since the individual narrative is a product of the larger narrative. This narrative pacifies the acceptance  of loss; makes it memorable. We toss flowers around, parade and have barbecues in solidarity. We transform loss into the continuation of the necessity that those deaths paid for my freedom may come again in a later generation. 

I am somehow more free than I would have been if a war did not happen. Perhaps, this is slightly true. With the United States asserting its geopolitical influence through the threat of force, we cause others to back down, and create and foster an illusion of our dominance. This is only a partial freedom. It is an assertive will-to-power. It must continually feed itself to sustain that dominance, and that's where we are partially unfree. We cannot accept losing that position in the world and feed it. In this way, we suffer at the hands of our own delusion. America the delusion. 

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