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Archive for June, 2014

I am linking to Brian Leiter’s leiterreports here, where I posted a fairly long comment.

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2014/06/philosophy-is-garbage-peter-unger-edition.html#comments

 

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Security, surveillance, and clandestine services are part of the immune system of nation states. A lot of what they do has been left in the dark, left unquestioned by the larger public, and only when their work had openly stepped over a line, i.e. not just crossed that line but also been made public, was their a reaction of the body politic to restrain them. Journalists and certain officials had the job of ‘opening’ those black boxes. Perhaps, we have lived in the 20th century and will continue to live for many decades and more in times, when such services are needed and needed to do ‘exceptional’ things; things that cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.  However, even if there is a need for these services to exist and a need for them to cross lines in secret, that does not mean that we need to redraw those lines. Precisely, because the task of these services is to ensure that the society they serve, which installed them in this place, can exist within those lines, which are the very lines that allow for their social order to attain a minimally necessary level of stability, i.e. that it can function as Republic wherein the rule of law is guaranteed, etc.. That includes that members of these services know that if they feel compelled to cross a line, they will do so illegally and will be prosecuted and punished if found out. So, they better be sure when they cross it. Secondly, that there are journalists and political officials constantly investigating them is necessary to uphold the line….this Realist picture  that I have just drawn is certainly almost unacceptable for both  the Left and the Right (of course, I am glossing over differences within the camps a bit, here): For Leftists (past and present), because the mere idea that these lines exist, that they are factually being crossed, that the crossing of lines may at times be necessary, is anathema to them, and  mere mention of any of that is to them criminally offensive; the Right will find it unacceptable that there must be investigation and punishment, although there will be types of Right-wingers who’d like to make sure that these services are only used as agents of US interests abroad and against terrorists that are considered un-American, and not used for anything they consider part of ‘the’ government and its agenda, specifically when somebody is in power, who they do not like politically, ethnically, etc. (Let’s be blunt here: The problem that many extreme right wingers have with the current drone program in the US is not the drone program itself, but the fact that the ‘man on the trigger’, i.e. the current US president, is a Democrat and above all that he is not white.)…. In the wake of 9/11, the line, however, has been redrawn. And this is a major problem, but a problem that was in the making before 9/11: For starters, US interests in a  globalizing  have become a very complex issue. The US, via their globalist imperative and digitalization,  have been and continue to be a colonial force. However, US interests are (and have been for decades) only partly national, since transnational corporations have since at least the Reagan administration aggressively infiltrated (like a parasitic virus, changing the cellular lines of production. In this case, they are perhaps more like lyme disease, malaria or a retro-virus than the often used analogy of cancer) governmental services, including important areas like the FDA, clandestine services, and active military services (the military-industrial complex has become transformed through interiorization/privatization of army functions not just gear production). This means also that genuine globalization was never really in-play, it was a kind globalism in the way that Ulrich Beck has critized in his book Power in the Global Age. In the wale of 9/11, famously, the state of exception became installed as ‘the new normal’, thereby making public the ‘crossing of the lines’ while installing the crossing as something that is considered normal, thereby, redrawing the lines….. If we consider that intelligence and clandestine services are part of the immune system of a (national) body politic, what does the immune system contracting the corporate virus and being put into a position where aggressive immune reaction is a constant then leave us with? We can liken this to having an allergy. Allergies are very often an immune system reacting to matters that are a normal part of our environment (pollen, animal hair, etc.). In case of auto-immune diseases, they turn on their own body. This little hyperbole and exercise in associative abstraction has led us to the point, where we should say that the current state of society, its high level of irritability, its culture of anxiety and fear, as well as the phenomena of ‘fatigue’, ‘burn-out’,  rise of disruptive behavior disorders, and decline of mental health are perhaps the sign of a body politic with an overactive immune system that has crossed the lines and been allowed to cross them openly without consequences. Society is experiencing severe allergy, and is – repeatedly – entering into allergic shocks, which may pave the way for an even more severe and deadly auto-immune disease (signalled by current American gun-culture and the open and unrestricited efforts to buy political power with money).  The West, and above all the US, today are societies that are suffering from severe allergic shock in their body politic.

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