Redefining “The Bad Guys”

Just brief thought on the day after Thanksgiving.

Now that Bush is gone and we can begin to take an intelligent law and order approach to terrorism, which as horrible as we all agree it is, will always be with us to some extent, we will ‘need’ a new enemy.

Human nature demands it. It demands that we have someone or some thing on which to focus our ire. Sad but true. Sure, terrorist blow people up and we should do all we can to prevent that from happening….without giving them exactly what they want, which is for us all to live our lives in fear and to change our society for the worse because of that fear. We cannot let them turn our world into a police state to prevent the relatively few deaths they cause.

Of course the ideal would be to transform ourselves into a totally just and equitable world so that terrorists have nothing to blow people up for. While we are waiting for that to happen, or perhaps as part of that effort, we can redefine who the bad guys are.

We are facing a financial crisis, and we are facing a climate crisis, and of course we are facing the seemingly eternal ‘injustice’ of the rich living high on the hog while children starve. Perhaps we need a Global War On Robber Barons? A Global War on Polluters? A Global War on Poverty? A Global War on Greed?

Somewhere around 4 million people actually starve to death a year. Compared to perhaps 20, 000 deaths from terrorism. Yes, that IS comparing apples to oranges, but…..When you are watching your people starve to death it is very easy to become a terrorist. Especially if you are also watching, say American teevee shows that portray, shall we say, an alternate lifestyle to the one you see around you. And as Climate Crisis accelerates more and more people will face both these fates. Starvation and the desperation and helplessness that leads people to blow other people up. Not all terrorism stems from starvation of course, just as not all crime stems from poverty. Some folks are just ….bad. But most terrorism is not born in a vacuum.

How about addressing the causes of terrorism, not just the symptoms? Yes it is a simplistic thought, nearly as simplistic as the thought of invading Iraq to end terrorism. But in my opinion, it is at least a thought moving in the right direction. And moving in the right direction is about all that we can hope for, in this complex world where there are no quick and easy solutions to the problems we face.


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  1. Photobucket

    But just the face

    • kj on November 28, 2008 at 19:44

    i sent you a message.  😀

    and in all seriousness, yes, let’s now take a good look at the “root causes,” which so many were attempting to do after 9/11, and were derided for their efforts.  

    those days are gone, even if they’re (BushInc) still here.

    there’s a boat-load of work the netroots can be doing.

    • kj on November 28, 2008 at 19:49

    during the last move a year ago, i packed up all my ‘political’ books and left them stacked in the basement of the old house.  i had some by Alice Walker and good old Norm Chomsky (and no, i’m not going to argue about whether he’s right or wrong or crazy or sane) and the whole What’s the Matter With Kansas stuff (which i didn’t need to read about, i was living a half-hour away from Kansas, i knew what the fuck was the matter with Kansas) and anyway, lots of books packed away.

    i’m thinking along the lines of what many here have written about, you and NL and Jim Staro and Xofferson, the whole grassroots community organizing models, and just welcome the shift from needing to ‘fight’ Bush to ‘creating’ a new reality.

    so, anyway, yeah, i’m in for this ride.

    • kj on November 28, 2008 at 19:58

    Fourth Generation Warfare.

    now, i’m not smart enough to argue for or against its merits, but a guy i respected, who went by the handle of ‘battlebob,’ used to post links and talk with coherence about the subject.  it fascinated me, but i never went much beyond skimming the surface.  it seemed to me, and i could be dead wrong, that it also used ‘community organizing’ as a model for interaction between soldiers and whatever ground/land/nation they found themselves on.

    here’s a link to some of the writings of William S. Lind.

    • Edger on November 28, 2008 at 20:04

    With no preconditions?

    Can we sell that?

    The Department of Defence defines Al Qaeda as “a radical Sunni Muslim umbrella organization established to recruit young Muslims into the Afghani Mujahideen and is aimed to establish Islamist states throughout the world, overthrow ‘un-Islamic regimes’, expel US soldiers and Western influence from the Gulf, and capture Jerusalem as a Muslim city.”

    They’re probably right. I think that’s a good assessment. But, it’s pretty much on a par with defining the objectives of groups like Fred Phelps and his band of christian(?) nutbars, or Aryan Nation, or Ann Coulters or Pat Robertsons followers, and bears no relation to these groups status or non-status as representative of the thinking and intentions of all people in their respective societies – Al Qaeda in Islamic countries, and the groups I mentioned in western Christian societies.

    There are crazy fringe fanatics in every society. Al Qaeda is probably a little bigger that the three I just mentioned, but is probably not anywhere the size of the group that supports bush’s hegemonic fanaticism.

    Or is the face of destructive greed still out there in all those McCain voters?

  2. …though others on here are doing a better job by far than I could about imagining “what next?”.  And, eh, I don’t think one need apologize for the simplicity of modeling human kindness, in hope of some in return :}

    Do we advocate for a kinder, gentler empire, point by point?  And/or rail against the whole wretched idea?  

    I’m having real problems with the crashing the gate model, because almost all the people and causes I care about were never let out in front of the gate, anyway.  I was far enough in front of it to pretend, but that seems mighty thin now.   Kinder and gentler was worth doing and is worth fighting for!  And when we all had the same badass face of things to yell about, I was so on board!  Now it’s like…eh…my differences with the centrist lefties are too sharp, and my hope for genuine change too distant…

    That’s my conundrum.  I very much suspect I’m not alone in this.    

    • Valtin on November 28, 2008 at 22:31

    and he is us!

    Human beings have battled nature for eons. Unwisely, it was thought we could subdue it. Now we know that we need to learn to live in harmony with nature.

    But what to do with that last redoubt of uncontrollable nature — human nature?

    Greed, envy, lust for power, fear of “weakness”, fear of the unknown, and of death… what will we do to subdue these? How can we live in harmony with the negative aspects of human nature, except through a long process of cultural assimilation of these instincts and fears, and the sometimes destructive defenses against them?

    One such defense is to pretend to ourselves that all evil lies without us in the person of a dangerous “Other.” This Other can be a people, a religious group, the opposite sex, or another nation. Or it can be a vague idea or concept, like “terrorism” or “communism.”

    Mankind stands at a tremulous cross-roads. It has stood at same for the last 63 years (since Hiroshima), a mere blink in the eye of historical time.

    We must transcend our current way of thinking and living. I wish I knew how to speed such a transformation. But I will live and breathe such a need for as long as I have left to live. I know this. It is not enough. But it’s all I can do.

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