Monday, January 29, 2007

American Idolatry

The art of government is the organization of idolatry. The bureaucracy consists of functionaries; the aristocracy, of idols; the democracy, of idolaters.

The populace cannot understand the bureaucracy: it can only worship the national idols.

The savage bows down to idols of wood and stone: the civilized man to idols of flesh and blood.

A limited monarchy is a device for combining the inertia of a wooden idol with the credibility of a flesh and blood one. When the wooden idol does not answer the peasant’s prayer, he beats it: when the flesh and blood idol does not satisfy the civilized man, he cuts its head off.

He who slays a king and he who dies for him are alike idolaters.

George Bernard Shaw, “Maxims for Revolutionists,” from Man and Superman

Joseph Farah has grown disenchanted with the incumbent presidential idol, whose brutality and bloodlust have proven inadequate.

He had such a promising start, too – hurling 10,000-pound bombs into some residential neighborhoods in Baghdad, authorizing the use of chemical weapons in others, summarily imprisoning countless people, authorizing both physical and psychological torture of detainees, including U.S. Citizens.... Now, there was an Idol that made Joe go weak in the knees with girlish ardor.

But somewhere, somehow, the Idol-in-Chief lost his murderous mojo, and Joe's wandering eye has caught sight of a worthier figure, one even less inhibited by legal or moral restraints than the incumbent. Like many others of his ilk, Joe pines after Jack Bauer, the cartoonish caricature of Nietzche's uber-man, the central character in “24.”

In the world depicted on "24," Bauer is the literal savior of mankind. Without him, “all is lost,” writes Farah. “Presidents come and go. Jack Bauer remains – and, as long as he remains, there is hope the bad guys will continue to be foiled in their efforts to kill Americans and destroy their country.”

Bauer's methods, which include torture of various kinds and even the conscious, deliberate murder of innocent people, “would be illegal in the real America,” and even on the battlefield, Farah admits. Be that as it may, insists Farah (a self-described Christian journalist), “America needs Jack Bauers. We will lose Iraq if we fail to recognize war is a dirty business that must be waged with the understanding that anything short of victory is unacceptable. There will be a presidential election in 2008, God willing. I hope there will be a Jack Bauer among the candidates.”

Before dealing in depth with the depravity Jack Bauer symbolizes, this must be said:

America is not fighting a war in Iraq. That war was not declared by the people of the “united States in Congress assembled.” It was ordered by the Grand and Glorious Decider, with the connivance of corrupted and cowardly elected representatives who yielded to his demands. It is the State served by those people that is fighting in Iraq, not America. And it is a moral imperative for those people to lose – not only in Iraq, but everywhere their malign ambition takes tangible form at the expense of freedom, decency, and happiness.

A huge, drab bureaucracy is necessary in order to translate such evil ambition into death and misery. As Shaw noted, bureaucracies don't inspire reverence among the masses, so it's necessary to provide them with suitable idols – figureheads, like presidents or chancellors; idealized, action-figure versions of State operatives, such as soldiers; or, in the case of Joe Farah and his ilk, fictional characters like Jack Bauer.

This is why 24 should be considered a “public-private partnership” between the Department of Homeland Security and Hollywood. This was made obvious by last Summer's nauseating Heritage Foundation symposium on the program, during which its producers and cast examined its relevance to the ongoing “war on terror.” The keynote address was delivered by DHS Commissar Chertoff, who – like many others who serve the Leviathan – described himself as a fan of the program.

Rush Limbaugh, MC of the Heritage Foundation's symposium on the TV show "24," forces himself on an unwilling Mary Lynn Rajskub, one of the stars of the program -- thereby making vivid in one repulsive gesture what the term "conservatism" has come to mean in the era of George W. Bush.

From their perspective, what's not to like? In Jack Bauer the world is presented with a sleek, idealistic figure who conducts the essential work of the State – murder, kidnapping, torture, and sundry other forms of lawlessness – in contrived circumstances that make those acts seem not only justifiable, but heroic.

In Jack Bauer, the "coldest of all cold monsters" is anthropomorphized into a warm and charismatic figure -- or at least a two-dimensional simulacrum of the same. “24” could be considered pornography appealing to the libido dominandi (lust for power), and Bauer's adventures a weekly sermon about the supposed virtues of situational ethics. And the scenarios concocted by those who script the program are intended to short-circuit the higher reasoning functions of the audience, encouraging them to surrender themselves unconditionally to the Amygdala.

“24” is perhaps the most sophisticated example of Gramscian cultural subversion – the manipulation of cultural symbols to construct the Total State. This is because it is designed to enlist the support of people who supposedly cherish and defend the values and institutions that would have to be destroyed in order to build the Total State.

The ultimate intention of those who created that program is nothing less than to seduce its viewers into a worldview built on a conscious, deliberate rebellion against God and His law.

Few have captured the essence of "24" better than the author of a favorable review of the program published by The New American magazine shortly before I was fired from the publication. In its original draft, the review offered this bouquet to the program's central character: "Jack's strength is that he always faces down his fears of oblivion and damnation and makes the right choice, for country and mankind, if not necessarily for God."

What this means (as I have pointed out elsewhere, including in a letter to TNA's editor protesting that review) is that it is possible to make "right" choices in defiance of God and His law. Among the "right" choices of that sort made by Jack Bauer was to murder his innocent friend Ryan in order to appease a terrorist's demand. Others have involved various acts violating the Constitution Bauer would have sworn an oath in God's name to defend.

The worldview promoted by “24" (as, once again, I pointed out in my critique) is unalloyed evolutionary humanism. It assumes that moral restraints are man-made, and thus subject to revision when necessary, and while that can lead to ugly consequences, we simply have to muddle through, re-calibrating our moral compass when necessary. And this task requires brave, dauntless men like Jack Bauer -- a Nietzschean uber-man, operating beyond good and evil, who will defy God's law when necessary to serve the "greater good" of humanity.

The Bush Regime, which is built squarely on a foundation of fuhrerprinzip, has eagerly abetted the subsidiary cult of Jack Bauer. This has been done in the hope that those who, like Joe Farah, spend a lot of time holding up a picture of Bauer with one hand will react to every presidential appearance by closing their eyes and imagining that it's Jack Bauer who's actually speaking.

In his 1922 book Public Opinion, Walter Lippmann explained how this kind of thing works:

"Because of their transcendent practical importance, no successful leader has ever been too busy to cultivate the symbols which organize his following. They conserve unity. From the totem pole to the national flag, from the wooden idol to God the Invisible King, from the magic word to some diluted version of Adam Smith or Bentham, symbols have been cherished by leaders, many of whom were themselves unbelievers, because they were the focal points where differences merged.... [t]he leader knows by experience that only when the symbols have done their work is there a handle he can use to move a crowd."

"24" has given the Bushling a great deal of leverage in his efforts to build a Leader-State. Chances are his successor -- whoever he or she might be -- will pick up seamlessly from where the incumbent Idol leaves off, with only minor and inconsequential changes in liturgy.

Please visit The Right Source, our daily page of news and commentary. And stay tuned for the debut of Pro Libertate -- the e-zine.


KoWT said...

Where we stand now:

"No free people can lose their liberties while they are jealous of liberty. But the liberties of the freest people are in danger when they set up symbols of liberty as fetishes, worshipping the symbol instead of the principle it represents."
~Wendell Phillips

FBC3 said...

It's interesting that, out of all the back-stories the writers could have created to explain Curtis's personal enmity towards the terrorist Hamir, they chose to use Iraq (1st Gulf War) as the stage. Now they wouldn't be trying to imply that Iraq was producing international terrorists 15 years ago in an effort to reinforce the fiction that "Iraq sponsors international terrorism and must be invaded again," would they? Nah.

dixiedog said...

Will, I read that piece by Farah early yesterday (Monday) morning and I was tempted to ask you about it over here, quoting a few nibbles for your perusal, but I should've known you'd of caught sight of that piece at some point, but I didn't think you would comment on it so soon, much less belabor an entire post on it. But I'm glad you did as you know how to reveal this mindset for what it really is.

And I thought much the same about his piece, as well, since I agree totally with your take on it. Although I haven't seen the show "24" because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I loathe Hollyweird and virtually all its productions because most of the dramas produced therefrom are fully greased and lubricated with Gramscian cultural messages, not to mention the gobs of hedonism, for the purpose of imbibing the commoner mind.

I gathered from Farah's piece, along with your dissection of the show and idols in general, of just how easy it is for even Christians, or anyone else for that matter, with otherwise innocent motives, to be so deceived. I admit I have had that kind of mindset myself in the past.

In their warped view that we really are "at war" we should be "acting like it." But for some reason that "acting like it" only seems to apply to the Soldaten. No, no. The problem with that view is manifold. IF we were really...really "at war," for the defense of our country and its citizens, life wouldn't be a damn party for the populace at large and folk like Farah and others who are livin' large would be much more subdued. It's not like that, though, yet he keeps carping that tired "we're at war" clarion call.

Yes, it does get tiring. It's amusing in that Farah frequently makes a lot of sense and makes some potent arguments about issues in many of his pieces, but then jumps off the cliff blindly right into the state's corral when it comes to anything concerning the Iraq War.

A very good rebuttal argument and detailed examination of Farah's piece and the larger than life Jack Bauer character of the "24" show. A hat tip to ya, Will ;).

You should send your piece to Joe Farah and see what his response would be, if any. And if he did respond, I'd be very interested to see how he counters your arguments. I'd hope you could post it verbatim and respond to it here.

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts mirror mine on this! We must be related somewhere (Grigg and Gregg were interchangeable at one time). Keep up the good work!
Kenneth R. Gregg

The Owner said...

Jack Bauer is a person of questionable morality and integrity in most regards, but there is one aspect of his character that rises above all others and is worthy of some acclaim: he is a family man.

He might not be YOUR family man (as evidenced by his willingness to kill innocents and others), but he is HIS family man, and that quality deserves some amount of respect I think.

He often exhibits a blind faith in his "nation," as represented by the Commander-in-Chief which he has an almost phone-call-to-God-in-heaven type relationship with, but at the end of the day, he's just trying to get home and see his family and ensure their safety.

That's the sense I get, anyway. Maybe no one else sees that and maybe no one else sees it as redeeming, after all his other unsavory aspects, but I personally have a lot of respect for a man who works as hard as Jack does to protect his family from harm.

The Owner said...

Mr. Grigg,

I forgot to mention that I wrote this post at a blog I was invited to write at which was inspired by "24." I think you might find it interesting, particularly as you have spent some time on the theme yourself (shredding the Constitution in the name of freedom).

I hope you check it out and enjoy it.

Looking forward to your upcoming book. Is it going to be available on Amazon or only at a special location?