Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Paul Grenier — America’s Men Without Chests

America’s way of acting in the world, the violence it often does to the truth while asserting its will, cannot be explained simply through its alleged “interests.” The U.S. acts the way it does because of the peculiar American way of understanding what gives life and action meaning.
At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. The distinguishing characteristic of voluntarism is that it gives pride of place to the will as such, to the will as power, the will abstracted from everything else, but especially abstracted from the good. The notion of the good is necessarily inclusive of the whole, of all sides. Concern exclusively for oneself goes by a different name.
The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine on October 17, 2004:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This oft-quoted statement is naively assumed to have been the expression of a single moment in American politics, rather than a summation of its ethos by one of its shrewder and more self-aware practitioners. The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one’s will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one’s own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one’s will....
The American Conservative
Paul Grenier, founder of the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy


Konrad said...

This is nit-picking, and it does not address the article’s main thesis. However but I wish to repeat a point I made before regarding propaganda.

Quote from the article above…

“The suffering of innocents should always concern us. But in Syria, the facts regarding who is the guilty party, including in this latest case of a gas attack in Douma, are very far from having been established.”

As I have said before, government propaganda works by planting premises. In this case the premise is that there was a “gas attack in Douma.”

Once people believe this premise, they argue with each other over who was “guilty” for the alleged “gas attack.” In bickering, people neutralize each other, and thereby remain submissive to government evil.

For the U.S. government, it does not matter if people don’t believe that Assad was the person who ordered a “gas attack.” It does not matter if people do not believe that Russia was behind the “poisoning” of mysterious Skripals. What matters is that people believe that there was a “gas attack” and a “poisoning” in the first place. This belief is what keeps people bickering, divided, and helpless.

The article above echoes the bullshit premise, and repeats the “gas attack” claim.

Another classic example is when corporate media outlets refer to someone as a “dictator.” Once people believe the premise that the target is a “dictator,” people bicker about how “evil” the “dictator” is. In bickering, people neutralize each other.

Today, government propaganda is not so much about controlling mass opinion, as about sewing division and confusion. False premises cause the masses to bicker with each other, while the government and the oligarchs do whatever they like. The latter are on Olympus, and when they flush their toilets, their excrement coats the chattering monkeys far below in the sewer.

Tom Hickey said...

Anchoring bias followed by confirmation bias. Standard propaganda technique.

Konrad said...

Tom, I had not heard of "anchoring bias," so I looked it up.

You are exactly correct. Many thanks.