War has indeed become perpetual and peace no longer even a fleeting wish nor a distant memory. We have become habituated to the rumblings of war and the steady drum beat of propaganda about war’s necessity and the noble motives that inspire it. We will close hospitals. We will close schools. We will close libraries and museums. We will sell off our parklands and water supply. People will sleep on the streets and go hungry. The war machine will go on.
What are we to do? The following text is Part III of a broader analysis entitled War and the State: Business as Usual.
Link to War and the State: Part 1
Link to War and the State: Part 2
The State is a modern invention. It was conceived in violence and has been true to its origins ever since. Rome was in its decline. The barbarians were at the gates. Beginning in the 5th century, Germanic tribes descended from the North, via Scandinavia. Germanic tribes with names like Franks, Angles, Saxons, Lombards, Burgundians, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals plundered their way across Europe, destroying and killing at will, lending their names to the plots where they settled. “From these raw, belligerent kingdoms rose the first modern nation-states…”(Simons, 13). Their society was a simple one, “explicitly organized for one activity, the making of war.” (Simons, 16)
These are our ancestors, wantonly laying waste the land, giddy with rapine and the glory of conquest, whooping it up with yelps and war cries, the wandering herds tearing into each other with gusto, as do their modern counterparts. These are our ancestors and it is on their bones that our modern civilization (sic) has been erected. War is not incidental to modern society. It is at its core, inscribed in its DNA.
The Franks were one of the more civilized tribes, showing signs of Roman influence. However, they were persistent in asserting their power and establishing dominion. To them we owe the birth of the State. In 481, Clovis (of Merovingian lineage) became King of the Franks. “Brutal, ignorant and totally amoral, he stole treasure, split skulls and collected concubines with alarming gusto.” (Simons, 59) Shrewd, nonetheless, he took a Catholic bride and had himself baptized. Joining violence and faith, perhaps for the first time, Clovis succeeded in subduing the Visigoths, guilty of the Arian heresy, 1 driving them out of Gaul (latter day France) and thus endearing himself to the Catholic Church.
The Merovingians slipped into decline, “a dismal catalogue of treachery, murder and mutiliation” (Simons, 60) and were replaced by the Carolingians whose mighty leader, “big, bull-necked and pot-bellied,” (Simons, 101) inherited the throne in 768, expanded the Frankish realm to include much of Western Europe and ruled for forty-six years as Charlemagne (Charles the Great).
Next came the Vikings “who descended upon the continent in a wild orgy of plunder and mayhem” (Simons, 125). The Danes, Swedes and Norwegians were even scarier and more ferocious than the Germanic tribes whom they repeatedly crushed. With leaders like Eric Bloodax, Harald Bluetooth, Ivar the Boneless, the Norsemen terrorized the population who found no escape and no reprieve. Carolingian rulers proved unequal to the task. In 987, Hugh Capet ascended to the throne. The House of Capet held power until 1328, to be replaced by the House of Valois (1328-1589).
In September of 1494 the French barbarian known to history as Charles VIII got it into his head to invade Italy. Ostensibly this adventure had as its purpose Charles’ wish to lay claim to a throne that he believed was legitimately his. In simpler terms Charles had time on his hands and was looking for some excitement, which, as is often the case, entailed killing off anyone who got in his way. He decimated the countryside and destabilized governments as he went. This is personal whim. It is sport, like hunting fox.
Over the next six decades, under three different kings, France invaded Italy six times. “The violence wreaked on Italy devastated its countryside and destabilized its city-states, which became hapless pawns in a vast chess game beyond their playing abilities (Porter, 41), with major consequences for Italian political development over the following four hundred years.
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain were incensed about what was going on in Italy and so put their iron in the fire. Eventually England joined the fray. So, in essence, we had our first World War, which is why 1494 is considered to be the birth date of the modern era, the era of incessant warfare.
The modern era of warfare meant longer wars, wars waged at a distance, entailing the mobilization of men and equipment far from home and the killing of a lot of people in a short period of time. At Ravenna in 1512, a single cannon ball felled thirty-three men. In Novara in 1513, cannon fire killed seven hundred men in three minutes (Porter, 41).
The French extended their Statist reach via The House of Bourbon (1589-1792), which found its most thorough going Statist in the person of Louis XIV (1643-1715). Under Louis XIV power was consolidated and centralized in a way that had never been done before in the Western world. When Louis, “the Sun King” said “l’État, c’est moi,” [“I am the State”] he wasn’t kidding. He ruled for seventy-two years and 110 days, the longest of any major monarch in European history. Single handedly he created the modern State with its standing army, taxation and bureaucracy, its unrelenting quest for dominion and fealty.
THE ANGLES AND THE SAXONS
England —initially settled by Britons sometime in the Iron Age — has a similar barbaric ancestry. The Saxon tribe — renowned for their vicious cruelty —began their invasion in the 5th century. They met up with some stiff resistance, resulting in a piecemeal conquest and the formation of “a number of petty, contentious kingdoms rather than a single realm.” (Simons, 35)
The German tribes were followed by the Vikings — principally Danes — who at first confined themselves to pillaging and then fleeing with their booty. Around the middle of the 9th century they began to settle down in central and eastern England in a territory that came to be known as “Danelaw,” putting themselves in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to the south and west. The outcome was ongoing warfare that lasted for more than century.
“Edward the Confessor” ascended to the throne in 1043 and established “a political unity which could not be matched elsewhere in Europe.” (Barlow, 3) As in France there was a string of Houses — family lines — one replacing the other without substantially betraying their barbaric roots. Up to 1707, there were ten Houses in Britain, starting with the House of Wessex under Alfred the Great in 871, to be followed by Denmark, Normandy, Blois, Anjou, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor and Stuart. And there was a gaggle of Edwards, Henrys and Richards to occupy the throne, often one replacing the other by means of treachery and bloodshed. (See Wikipedia, “List of monarchs of the British Isles by cause of death.”)
In 1296, Edward I invaded Scotland, a civilization that predated England’s and exceeded it in intellectual distinction. When the town of Berwick resisted, the town was sacked and its 8000 inhabitants slaughtered.
In 1327 Edward II was supposedly murdered in Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire after a metal tube and a red-hot poker were inserted into his anus. Allegedly by Sir John Maltravers of Dorset.
On December 10, 1394 James I was assassinated by a group of Scots led by Sir Robert Graham.
Henry VI was imprisoned in the Tower of London on December 6, 1421 and there was murdered.
In 1537, Jane was beheaded.
Mary I was executed on December 8, 1542.
Charles I followed a similar fate on November 19, 1600
Richard II died in captivity in 1400 at Pontefract Castle where he was either murdered or starved to death.
In November 1470, Edward V was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died from unknown causes.
June 3 1865, George V was expedited by lethal injection administered by his doctor.
I don’t know about you but for me this all has a whiff of barbarism about it. But of course this is not even the tip of the proverbial iceberg if barbarism is what we are looking for.
The mentality of entitlement and empire building that characterize the British ruling class can be traced to their barbarian ancestors, of whom they are so proud, competing with each other for whose roots go deeper.
It was the barbarians who began the practice of invading other lands at will, ravaging the countryside and villages, making their own what belonged to someone else. The only justification for such actions was the wish to so behave, the blood lust of the barbaric nomad.
The blood lust of the barbaric nomad became the founding ethos of the British ruling class. After all, the British Empire was not a natural occurrence. Scotland, Ireland, India had to be occupied, resistance crushed, economies transformed to satisfy the wishes of the invading host. “What is yours is mine” is the barbarian mantra as it is of the British ruling class.
THE UNITED STATES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Not to be outdone by its European ancestors, the United States of America has donned its barbaric mantel with great pride and has become the apotheosis of Statism. The sack of Rome by the Vandals in 410 was civilized when compared with the sack of Baghdad in 2003. (See GPF below) Americans oversaw the destruction and looting of libraries, museums and archaeological sites. About a quarter of the total book collection of the National Library of Baghdad was looted or burned, including rare books and newspapers. The Central Library of the University of Basra went up in flames, with a loss of at least 70% of its collections.
Thieves looted the National Museum and took 14-15,000 objects altogether, including coins, sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, architectural fragments, cuneiform tablets and most of the Museum’s collection of valuable Sumerian cylindrical seals. Outside Baghdad, looters and thieves attacked the Mosul Museum. They stole hundreds of objects, including sixteen bronze Assyrian door panels from the city gates of Balawat dating back to the 9th century BC. Archaeological sites were destroyed and their contents sold to international dealers who were waiting, prepared for the organized looting that occurred. Some of the greatest Sumerian archaeological sites have disappeared.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq have resulted in the deaths of close to a million and the displacement of as many as four million. Most certainly this would have made Alaric, King of the Vandals quite proud. It is barbarism pure and simple, gratuitous killing, gratuitous destruction of a civilization.
As Patrick Martin observes, “Bush, Rumsfeld and company personify the new barbarians: a ‘leader’ who is himself only semi-literate and wallows in religious backwardness; an administration populated by former corporate CEOs for whom an artifact of ancient Sumer is of more interest as a tax shelter than as a key to the historical and cultural development of mankind.”
Here is another, more recent example of barbarism. In 2011, Presidential aspirant and then Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton unleashed the savage bombing of Libya destroying the country and leading to the ethnic cleansing of a million and a half of Sub-Sahara workers and Black Libyans of sub-Saharan descent.
Libya, once boasting one of the highest standards of living among Middle East and North African countries, has been reduced to a state of lawlessness and violence where terrorists and warlords compete with each other for local power. Ms. Clinton celebrated the death by anal impalement of popularly elected Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi and the assassination of five of his grandchildren. (Petras, May 17) Now that is barbarism for ya, the good old fashioned kind.
We have progressed not one micron in the intervening centuries since our barbarian ancestors roamed the planet at will. We are as gratuitously violent and as greedy for booty. And as proud of our weapons as were the barbarians. And yet we are worse, much worse. We lack the courage and daring of our barbarian ancestors. In our pinstriped suits, we strategize from the comfort of our wooden paneled, air conditioned offices. We are armchair warriors. Self-righteous armchair warriors. And so proud of the lives we have taken by the millions and the civilizations we have laid low.
DESCENT INTO HELL
War is about power, personal power. It is made by men with little self-respect and even less in intellectual integrity, with no sense of the meaning or value of a human life. All the rest is propaganda, the most harmful non-mortal effect of war on society. “We have been kneaded so successfully,” says Bourne, “that we approve of what our society approves, desire what our society desires, and add to the group our own passional inertia against change, against the effort of reason, and the adventure of beauty.” (Bourne, 90)
Speaking of WWI, Bourne observes, “The kind of war we are conducting is an enterprise which the American government does not have to carry on with the hearty cooperation of the American people but only with their acquiescence. And that acquiescence seems sufficient to float an indefinitely protracted war for vague or even largely uncomprehended and unaccepted purposes.” (Bourne, 36)
Personal lust for power has taken the lives of hundreds of millions, has decimated the countryside and obliterated civilizations. In the 20th century alone over 100 million have been lost to war and state genocide. 2
Of course, this does not account for the wounded and maimed, whose number is easily twice as large, nor the destructive impact on the economy, civic life, and psychic existence of those who survive “intact.”
In the United States today, we are ruled by power addicts. They will not be sated. They lie relentlessly. They are criminally inclined. They promote war without end. These warriors have been and will be defeated on the battlefield. It changes nothing.
Bertolt Brecht wrote a play entitled, Mother Courage and her Children (1939). It is the story of a woman who tries to support herself and three children by selling sundries and sweets to soldiers in time of war. She moves from one battle scene to the next with her traveling canteen. She befriends a chaplain who has this to say about war:
Well, there’ve always been people going around saying some day the war will end. I say, you can’t be sure the war will ever end. Of course it may have to pause occasionally — for breath, as it were — it can even meet with an accident —nothing on this earth is perfect — a year of which we could say it left nothing to be desired will probably never exist. A war can come to a sudden halt — from unforeseen causes —you can’t think of everything —a little oversight, and the war’s in the hole and someone’s got to pull it out again! The someone is the Emperor or the King or the Pope. They’re such in need, the war has really nothing to worry about, it can look forward to a prosperous future.
One could argue that history is nothing but a vast battlefield after the battle is over—a mountain of the corpses of men, women, and children from around the world and across time who have been slaughtered to satisfy the warriors in their quest for blood and glory.
Finding the true meaning of war beneath the rubble is a difficult challenge, because that meaning is too often obscured by those who write about it. Instead, we are offered endless volumes extolling the “heroes” who did the killing. We are taught to look up to these “great men” and to embrace a history drenched in blood. Very little is written about the dead or about the connection between the “glory” of conquest and its consequences for those who did survive—about its effects on civil society. That is, very little is written about the battlefield after the battle is over.
5TH CENTURY B.C.: THE GREEKS
We are indebted to the playwright Aeschylus, who, in The Persians, described the aftermath of the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.:
The hulls of our ships rolled over, and it was no longer possible to glimpse the sea, strewn as it was with the wrecks of warships and the debris of what had been men. The shores and the reefs were full of our dead, and every ship that had once been part of the fleet now tried to row its way to safety through flight. But just as if our men were tunny-fish or some sort of netted catch, the enemy kept pounding them and hacking them with broken oars and the flotsam from the wrecked ships. And so shrieks together with sobbing echoed over the open sea until the face of black night ended the scene. (Hanson, 30-31).
Here is another example, in which Thucydides, writing in the fifth century B.C., portrays the physical suffering and the pathos of war. He is describing the decimation of the Athenians during the course of their invasion of Sicily:
The dead lay unburied, and each man as he recognized a friend among them shuddered with grief and horror; while the living whom they were leaving behind, wounded or sick, were to the living far more shocking than the dead, and more to be pitied than those who had perished. These fell to entreating and bewailing until their friends knew not what to do, begging them to take them and loudly calling to each individual comrade or relative whom they could see, hanging upon the neck of their tent-fellows in the act of departure, and following as far as they could, and when their bodily strength failed them, calling again and again upon heaven and shrieking aloud as they were left behind. (Finley, 371).
Crowded in a narrow hole, without any roof to cover them, the heat of the sun and the stifling closeness of the air tormented them during the day, and then the nights, which came on autumnal and chilly, made them ill by the violence of the change; besides, as they had to do everything in the same place for want of room, and the bodies of those who died of their wounds or from the variation in the temperature, or from similar causes, were left heaped together one upon the other, intolerable stenches arose; while hunger and thirst never cease to afflict them, each man during eight months having only half a pint of water and a pint of grain given him daily. In short, no single suffering to be apprehended by men thrust into such a place was spared them. (Finley, 379).
16TH CENTURY: THE SPANISH
Early in the sixteenth century, Spanish conquistadores, led by Hernán Cortés, decided they wanted gold that wasn’t theirs. To get it, they proceeded to destroy the Aztec culture and annihilate the native population. The capital of Mexico at that time was Tenochtitlan, and therein lay the Aztec treasure and Montezuma, the emperor of the Aztecs. Pedro de Alvarado, second in command, in Cortés’ absence massacred 8,000 unarmed Aztec nobility and was about to get to work on the women and children when Cortés appeared. Here is how a witness described the event:
They attacked all the celebrants, stabbing them, spearing them from behind, and these fell instantly to the ground with their entrails hanging out. Others they beheaded: they cut off their heads, or split their head to pieces. They struck others in the shoulders, and their arms were torn from the bodies. They wounded some in the thigh and some in the calf. They slashed others in the abdomen, and their entrails all spilled to the ground. Some attempted to run away, but their intestines dragged as they ran; they seemed to tangle their feet in their own entrails. [Ref].
Tenochtitlan was under siege from May through August 1521. Cortés described the carnage in a letter to his king, Charles V:
The people of the city had to walk upon their dead while others swam or drowned in the waters of that wide lake where they had their canoes; indeed, so great was their suffering that it was beyond our understanding how they could endure it. Countless numbers of men, women and children came toward us, and in their eagerness to escape many were pushed into the water where they drowned amid the multitude of corpses; and it seemed that more than fifty thousand had perished from the salt water they had drunk, their hunger and the vile stench. (Hanson, 192).
About 100,000 Aztecs perished in the fighting. The tally from the two-year struggle for Tenochtitlan was close to a million. Fifty years later, as a consequence of war and disease—the Europeans had brought with them measles, bubonic plague, flu, whooping cough, and mumps— the population of central Mexico had been reduced from 8 million to less than 1 million. The riches seized by the Spaniards were considerable. Between 1500 and 1650, 150 tons of gold and 16,000 tons of silver were shipped from Mexico and Peru to Spain.
19TH CENTURY: THE FRENCH
As the centuries pass, the carnage continues unabated. In 1809, Napoleon bombarded the city of Vienna. On May 21, he entered the city. A vicious battle with the Austrians ensued, just across the Danube. Napoleon got away with 19,000 in casualties, the Austrians with 24,000. In a subsequent battle on July 6, the Austrians lost 40,000, against 34,000 for the French. Thus, within a period of just six weeks, well over 100,000 men had been killed or wounded. Napoleon’s disastrous Russian adventure of 1812 resulted in almost a million casualties. The battle of Borodino, alone, cost some 30,000 Frenchmen killed or wounded, some 45,000 Russians killed or wounded.
Inspecting the battlefield at Eylau, after what Napoleon counted as a victory, he wrote:
To visualize the scene one must imagine, within the space of three square miles, nine or ten thousand corpses; four of five thousand dead horses; rows upon rows of Russian field packs; the remnants of muskets and swords; the ground covered with cannon balls, shells, and other ammunition; and twenty-four artillery pieces, near which could be seen the corpses of the drivers who were killed while trying to move them—all this sharply outlined against a background of snow. (Herold, 182).
And here is the battlefield at Borodino, six weeks after the battle, as described by Count Phillipe-Paul de Ségur:
We all stared around us and saw a field, trampled, devastated, with every tree shorn off a few feet above the earth.… Everywhere the earth was littered with battered helmets and breastplates, broken drums, fragments of weapons, shreds of uniforms, and blood-stained flags. Lying amid this desolation were thirty thousand half-devoured corpses. The scene was dominated by a number of skeletons lying on the crumbled slope of one of the hills; death seemed to have established its throne up there. (Herold, 352).
The same Ségur described the French troops in retreat across a frozen Russian landscape, during the first heavy snowfall:
Everything in sight became vague, unrecognizable. Objects changed their shape; we walked without knowing where we were or what lay ahead, and anything became an obstacle.… Yet the poor wretches [the soldiers] dragged themselves along, shivering, with chattering teeth, until the snow packed under the soles of their boots, a bit of debris, a branch, or the body of a fallen comrade tripped them and threw them down. Then their moans for help went unheeded. The snow soon covered them up and only low white mounds showed where they lay. Our road was strewn with these hummocks, like a cemetery. (Herold, 352-352).
To warm themselves, the troops would set a whole house afire. Ségur’s description continues:
The light of these conflagrations attracted some poor wretches whom the intensity of the cold and suffering had made delirious. They dashed forward in a fury, and with gnashing teeth and demoniacal laughter threw themselves into those raging furnaces, where they perished in dreadful convulsions. Their starving companions watched them die without apparent horror. There were even some who laid hold of the bodies disfigured and roasted by the flames, and—incredible as it may seem—ventured to carry this loathsome food to their mouths. (Herold, 356).
19TH CENTURY: THE AMERICANS
The American War of Secession in 1860, in which Northerners — under the command of the much revered Abraham Lincoln — invaded the South and obliterated its culture, destroying farms, lives and homesteads, creating mass migration and starvation, is as a good measure of what the warrior State is capable doing to its own people.
Here is a description by poet William Gilmore Simms of how things came to pass in Columbia, South Carolina.
Daily did long trains of fugitives line the roads, with wives and children, and horses and stock and cattle, seeking refuge from the pursuers . . . Half naked people cowered from the winter under bush-tents in the thickets, under the eaves of houses, under the railroad sheds, and in old cars left them along the route. . . . Habitation after habitation, village after village—one sending up its signal flames to the other, presaging for it the same fate—lighted the winter and midnight sky with crimson horrors. (Masters, 458).
20TH CENTURY: THE GERMANS
Thanks to modern technology, its advanced weaponry and the advent of two world wars, the 20th century has committed unrivaled barbarie on a grand scale. Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) has written a most compelling novel entitled, All Quiet on the Western Front (1928). Remarque takes the reader behind German lines during the First World War. We live out the terror of war and its gruesome horrors. We come to understand how men can be reduced to bestial savagery. Here are some excerpts from Chapter 6.
Night again. We are deadened by the strain–a deadly tension that scrapes along one’s spine like a gapped knife. Our legs refuse to move, our hands tremble, our bodies are a thin skin stretched painfully over repressed madness, over an almost irresistible, bursting roar. We have neither flesh nor muscles any longer, we dare not look at one another for fear of some incalculable thing. So we shut our teeth–it will end–it will end–perhaps we will come through.
We recognize the smooth distorted faces, the helmets: they are French. They have already suffered heavily when they reach the remnants of the barbed wire entanglements. A whole line has gone down before our machine-guns; then we have a lot of stoppages and they come nearer.
I see one of them, his face upturned, fall into a wire cradle. His body collapses, his hands remain suspended as though he were praying. Then his body drops clean away and only his hands with the stumps of his arms, shot off, now hang in the wire.
The moment we are about to retreat three faces rise up from the ground in front of us. Under one of the helmets a dark pointed beard and two eyes that are fastened on me. I raise my hand, but I cannot throw into those strange eyes; for one moment the whole slaughter whirls like a circus round me, and these two eyes alone are motionless; then the head rises up, a hand, a movement, and my hand-grenade flies through the air and into him.
We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down–now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger. No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged.
We crouch behind every corner, behind every barrier of barbed wire, and hurl heaps of explosives at the feet of the advancing enemy before we run. The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him.
The lines behind us stop. They can advance no farther. The attack is crushed by our artillery. We watch. The fire lifts a hundred yards and we break forward. Beside me a lance-corporal has his head torn off. He runs a few steps more while the blood spouts from his neck like a fountain.
We have lost all feeling for one another. We can hardly control ourselves when our glance lights on the form of some other man. We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill.
A young Frenchman lags behind, he is overtaken, he puts up his hands, in one hand he still holds his revolver–does he mean to shoot or to give himself up!–a blow from a spade cleaves through his face. A second sees it and tries to run farther; a bayonet jabs into his back. He leaps in the air, his arms thrown wide, his mouth wide open, yelling; he staggers, in his back the bayonet quivers.
This is the reality of war, not the headlines, or news blurbs, or the propaganda pitches. This is what war is about. Bestiality and slaughter. Men gone mad and insensate. Death and survival reign. There is no purpose or meaning behind the mutilation. We can changes the names and places and the dates, war remains what it always been, senseless killing, i.e. barbarism.
VISIT WITH A FRIEND
While we are down here — i.e. in Hell — I thought I might pay visit to a friend of mine, Madeleine Albright. As Secretary of State, Maddy presided over the siege of Baghdad that began shortly after the United States invaded Iraq in August of 1990. The trade embargo denied foodstuffs and medicine to the people of Iraq, men, women and children. The conservative estimate is that 500,000 children under the age of five died of starvation and disease, as a consequence of the embargo.
For a moment, visualize, if you will, just one small child dying of starvation. Iraqi children — like children everywhere — are sweet, adorable creatures filled with a joy for living. Now imagine what it is like for an Iraqi mother — who has a soul and suffers, just like mothers everywhere — to watch her child wither before her eyes and then die. Now multiply this by 500,000, and this not an accident of nature, but the result of deliberate policy by American policy makers. When asked in an interview whether the death of half a million Iraqi children was worth it, Ms. Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”
Dante Alighieri is responsible for the design of Hell as we know it. There are nine circles. If I had my way I would add a tenth circle and give Madeleine the privacy she deserves. But Dante gets the last word. It is the seventh circle that is home to Maddy, where she will remain into eternity, immersed in a river of boiling blood and fire.
It is reasonable to ask just what kind of person is Madeleine Albright and her cohorts in the warrior class. We can say with confidence that they are different from us, i.e., those with empathy for human suffering. The word psychopath comes to mind. The psychopath lacks empathy, loves to lie, and is skillful in impersonating what we consider to be a normal human being.
Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars, glib, con artists, lacking in remorse and shallow.
Charismatic politicians, like criminal psychopaths, exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions, have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyle, need constant stimulation, have parasitic lifestyles and possess unrealistic goals….
Political psychopaths are all largely cut from the same pathological cloth, brimming with seemingly easy charm and boasting, calculating minds. Such leaders eventually create pathocracies—totalitarian societies bent on power, control, and destruction of both freedom in general and those who exercise their freedoms. (Whitehead)
In 1835, the English physician, James Pritchard, wrote a treatise on mental illness in which he used the term “moral insanity,” which he defined as, “madness consisting in a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the interest or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucinations.”(McPherson,300)
In other words those who suffer from moral insanity appear to be exactly like us. They are charming, likeable and coherent, which is what makes them so dangerous. What is rarely discussed, though obvious, is that those who suffer from moral insanity are filled with rage. And it is the rage that drives them to kill wherever and whenever they are given the opportunity.
“Well,” you say, “this can’t go on forever. There has to be an end in sight.” In Part 4, we consider what the end game possibilities might be.
Above text is part III of a six part essay.
1. War and the health of the State: What causes war
2. Federated governments: The Nation vs. the State
3. Origin of the State: Barbarians at the gate
4. End Game: War goes on
5. Critical Thinking: A bridge to the future
6. Deconstructing the State: Getting small
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