I've been reading a bit on Reagan's ruinous policy or rather attitude towards mental health infrastructure. The way he gutted funding as both CA governor and president; leaving those who were medically known as unable to bootstrap themselves out on the streets to fucking ay try to anyhow. Reagan was fixed on the idea that there was no true mental illness as such but only disobedience. It stands to reason that a conservative mind, one with an especially deep need for predictability and control, would be loathe to accept the existence of illusions from within that can't be controlled. And anyhow Marx did say something about false consciousness once. There's the fire escape. It is wrong to suggest such a thing as one's brain unchoosingly misfiring because Marx.
Javert, the narc from Les Miserables for whom 'all crime was in the foremost rebellion.' (quoted from imprecise memory) The guy who killed himself rather than accept the unavoidable need for gray morals. Real-life authoritarians do not generally do that and it was too much. Too Much is just what Les Mis is as a story. It is all-caps 19th century ROMANTIC. Everybody is just more more and suicide is the go-to option for anyone who feels any degree of bad at all. A dude on the barricades giving an impromptu six-page speech on the glories of martyrdom. Still it does have its points. If crime is primarily disobedience, if the very existence of murder rape or general mayhem serve as proof that these crimes are over-lightly punished then in theory at least there is a clean formula and structure for placing all fires of the human heart under control. That is the authoritarian appeal which poisons our real-world politics. It is the appeal of 'toughness' for the sake of toughness. The convenient notion that the pleasurable rush of having just won a fight is in itself of vital social benefit.
Political correctness is no more than the utterly practical knowledge that if I were a singer who put out an album called "Control" and the cover was me in a militarish costume staring you down the message conveyed would be very different from Janet Jackson's.
My stepdad is in Vietnam. That much is established fact. He says that the reds shot his plane down and captured him three different times and that he escaped three different times or was it four? I don't think so. He says that on his return to the Seattle airport he was accosted by a hippie who called him a baby killer until a fatherly wise sheriff intervened. Bull Fucking Shit Dad. The John Wayneish tone that he gave the sheriff was I don't know pathetic and awesome at the same time right? He says that after the war he worked as a sheriff's deputy in interior Oregon and personally killed a pair of infamous murderers and thieves. I don't think so again but hell maybe. He says that on 9/11 he was across the river in Jersey when 'hell came'. Nope. I happened to be home in North Platte on that day and he was the one who woke me up to tell me. I recall him trying to make talk with me in banal slogans while I ignored him trying to gather this thing that I had slept through. He said something about "America having learned a lesson" meaning, so far as I can guess, that the very fact this thing happened was proof that we had been softhearted and blind.
Conservatives take it on faith that of course they are stronger more vigilant and in all ways Just Better on national security than the left. But I remember 1999. I remember that right-wingers, my stepdad included, were no more concerned with Al-Qaeda than anyone else. In their eyes the threat we were foolishly ignoring was Russia or China. Even so it is a crucial plank of Dad's self-esteem to view himself as manfully protective where others are naive. I would even say that he would rather die and get it over with than accept that there is an inherent mortal vulnerability that cannot be escaped with any level of power strength or courage. The man Needs to believe that the possibility of the US being harmed is not a given but only ever explained by our own failure of courage. He Needs to he is perpetually wise to a dire and immediate threat that the nation is perpetually ignorant of, and gives no thought to the simple impossibility of national survival if this were so. He is of course a thoroughgoing member of the 'guns for everyone everywhere' crowd. He spoke in disapproval of my grandpa 'giving up' and becoming fatalistic just because he was an 83-year old with stage IV cancer. Only Russian poets would ever die if we had the degree of willpower over death that this man 'believes' we do.
The US is not more intrinsically chauvinistic than other countries. We just haven't been well and truly kicked in the ass for it yet. (Unless you count our civil war, which I definitely should come to think of it. Call it 'not enough yet' then.) Our jingoistic mania after 9/11 has been compared to that of Europe at the start of World War I; which some people alive at the time have described as 'like being in love'. In Paris during August of 1914 a man in a cafe was beaten to death for not joining in a spontaneous signing of "La Marseillaise". He may have approved of the war for all anyone will ever know but he didn't join in the song because it was a coffee shop and who the fuck does that? The man died for failing to realize that he had woken up to a world now operating by Monty Python rules. If national survival magically depends on our personal approval of a conflict then suddenly we are Very Important. There is no longer a 'lightness of being' but a fucking epic gravity to everything about us and all that we do. If one buys into the idea that "we" are characters in history's climactic chapter than we are never alone. We can be constantly larger-than-life emotional with everyone around us; as if everyone were everyone else's mother child or lover. Accepting all of this as nonsense is theoretically easy. One only needs to go back to seeing oneself as a small person aging to death quietly with no masterpiece opera soundtrack behind them.
Our response to 9/11 and defeat in Vietnam has also been compared to Germany's "stabbed in the back myth" used to convince themselves that their loss in World War I was a matter of their own controlling. We and Germany are both rich countries whose people are accustomed to having our way. Getting what we want is How The World Works to our own eyes. Beyond final illness many white Americans need never face any more jarring reminder that this isn't so than a Democrat in the White House. Even this is too jarring to handle for some. We could do worse so far as empires go. We don't stack every head of a conquered city into a pyramid or crucify people. Still being rich and strong without being dicks about may simply be beyond what the human spirit can do. A rich man's dog doesn't care if it deserves its feather bed or not. Humans are obsessed with justice. We cannot stand to view the good things in our life as plain luck, let alone as gained by foul means on our behalf however far personally removed from ourselves. If white Americans are not the light of the world than what are we? Tyrants? Decadents? If we are not the eternal standard for what Americans are and should be than what? Country songs about how country the singer is and how being country is by far the greatest of all human glories. One Goodoldboysploitation reality show after another. From the nineties through today we have grown first obsessed and then outright manic about having our identities affirmed. We demand it from everyone and everything.
We greatly overestimate the level of control required for survival and basic comfort. We are liver-poisoned by our privilege. Most people of the world recognize, however grudgingly, the need to assess where they are and take whatever step they think fitting with no promise of success. Not because they are closer-to-the-earth wiser but because they just have to. This crucial survival skill has atrophied within ourselves. There was once a crash-test driver who needed years to truly learn in his muscles that gripping the wheel on impact would only hurt him worse.