Saturday, August 06, 2005

War on Terror as Internal Power Struggle

In the War on Terror, sub-text is far more important than text. The "text" is the struggle between extremist Muslims and the Western world they want to take down a notch. This struggle over global terrorism has little to do with the ability of American and European multinationals to dictate the terms of globalization. Globalization goes back to the 15th and 16th centuries, but the most recent wave of globalization has been more about the efforts of Western corporate interest to impose terms on their "home" populations than on Arab, Southeast Asian, African, or Latin American nations. The outsourcing of labor by American corporations has been especially successful at leveraging far-ranging concessions from the American work force, but European participation in globalization should be seen in these terms as well. Neither the attacks of global terrorists on Western targets nor the ham-handed response of the American government is doing a great deal to affect this dynamic.In fact, I don't view the bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and other global terrorists--shocking and offensive as their attacks are--as major players in the War on Terror. Terrorists organizations just don't have the military or military muscle to have a major impact on the major dynamics of our time. However, the War on Terrorism is having a big impact on Western societies. This is because the War on Terrorism has stimulated a ferocious power struggle among the major social and political forces in the West, especially here in the United States.To make a long story short, the 9/11 terror attacks provided a pretext for what G. William Domhoff calls "ultra-conservatives" to wage non-violent civil war against the urban populations, mainstream media, and university centers. "War" by the way is the favorite right-wing image for their struggles against their domestic enemies and European social democracy. There's the "war against liberalism," "war for the judiciary," war against the "mainstream media," war for this, war for that. Since the end of McCarthism and advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950's, ultra-conservatives in the entrepreneurial sector, white Southern population, declining rural areas, and the out-reaches of suburbia have become increasingly dissatisfied with cultural modernization in the U.S. Because the current administration had strong ultra-conservative sympathies, the War on Terror served as a pretext for ultra-conservative social forces to intensify their struggles against the rest of American society.One of the many ironies of the right-wing struggle against modern America is that the right-wingers have so little attachment to the "Western" values they espouse in relation to global terrorists. Referring to "GimmeCoffee's" post above, the American right has struggled against the equal application of the law in relation to working people, blacks, women, the disabled, and accused criminals ever since the 19th century. Like a lot of less "advanced" cultures, American conservatives much prefer a social authority that's unbound by legal limitations. This is attested to be the whole ugly history of lynching, arbitrary arrest, and police violence in the United States. American ultra-conservatives have fought all efforts to apply the law to police forces and those efforts have had a big impact on American popular culture (Dirty Harry, NYPD Blue, etc.). American ultra-conservatives also object to most other elements of modernization--modern science, equal opportunities for women, campaigns against sexual violence, etc. Part of the linguistic confusion of the "War on Terror" is that the main front of the conflict features the anti-Western elements of American society waging war against the more "Westernized" part of society in the name of "Western values."


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