|(Photo composite by William Wallace Grigg.)
Hello, Tea Partiers. Look at your president. Now back to me. Now back at your president. Now – back to me. Sadly, your president isn’t me…. Look down. Back up -- where are you? You’re in a torchlight parade led by the man who could be your president! What’s in your hand? – back at me. I have it – it’s that Constitution that you say you love. Look again – your Constitution has been replaced by a military junta! Anything is possible when your man smells like white phosphorous. I’m on a white horse.
"I want to start a draft Allen West movement!" exclaimed Glen Beck during his April 21st radio program. The radio personality has been cooing and burbling about West for months. He's convinced that the retired Army Lt. Colonel -- who was cashiered in disgrace for abusing a prisoner in a fashion that merited prosecution under Article 93 of the UCMJ -- is the "man of honor" our troubled country needs.
Of course, Beck isn't the only one infatuated with West: the freshman congressman from Florida is emerging as something of an Old Spice Guy for the punitive populist Right.
"The next president will be either the end or the beginning of our country," Beck intoned, taking note of the potentially apocalyptic consequences of the metastasizing debt and our continued descent into an economic abyss. West has displayed no measurable interest in reducing the size and expense of the Leviathan State. In fact, the contrary is true: Before being elected to represent a Florida congressional district, West was an employee of the wealth-devouring, debt-propelled imperial military. His career as a hireling killer is what Beck describes as his most alluring trait.
"He has a strong military background," Beck gushed. "The guy was led through war, and he's not afraid to pull the trigger."
With Washington's legions engaged in three open wars and at least five covert conflicts, it's clear that the incumbent warlord is not hindered by a disinclination to "pull the trigger." In fact, under the reign of the Nobel Peace Laureate, Washington's military entanglements have expanded considerably and deepened dramatically, particularly through the use of death-dispensing drone aircraft.
In terms of bellicosity overseas, a President Allen West would most likely take up seamlessly from his predecessor. The substantive difference between the two would become apparent in domestic affairs: West's model of an ideal society is the proto-fascist totalitarian state that ruled ancient Sparta.
In a recent address to a meeting of the Evangelical group "Women Impacting the Nation," West extolled the supposed virtues of the Spartan system, in which children (at least those who made the initial cut as newborns and weren't selected as genetic culls to be hurled from a cliff) were stolen from their parents and raised as the property of the State.
"Spartan women at the age of nine gave up their male sons," West recounted to the gathering. "And their male sons went into a training that was called the Agoge and they stayed in that training for the next eleven to twelve years. And when they were finally qualified, when they were finally ready to join the ranks for the Spartan army, it was not their father who gave them their cloak and shield. It was their mother who gave them their shield" -- while uttering the famous admonition to return either carrying the shield in triumph, or as a lifeless corpse being carried upon it.
The ironies are thick enough here to blot out the sun, but it's sufficient to focus on three of them. First, the Evangelical women in the audience can be heard swooning with approval as West hymns the purported merits of a thoroughly pagan society that embodied the antithesis of every Christian virtue. Second, West -- who insists that we must either subjugate or annihilate Muslims because they "have no respect for human life" -- apparently believes that America should re-model itself after a garrison state built on a foundation of institutionalized child sacrifice on behalf of the State.
Even more remarkably, the same Allen West who recently sent a thrill down the leg of many Right-collectivist warbots by denouncing the integration of homosexuals into the imperial military heaped extravagant praise on a military indoctrination system built on what Dr. Paul Cartledge of Cambridge University calls "ritualized pederasty." Enforced homosexuality was part of the process whereby Spartan boys became "qualified" (as West so daintily put it) for service in the city-state's army.
In his book The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse, Dr. Cartledge observes that after a Spartan boy's seventh birthday "he was removed from the home environment, for good, to embark on the compulsory and communal educational system know as the Agoge or Raising/Upbrining. Between the ages of seven and eighteen the boys and youths were organized in `packs' and `herds' and placed under the supervision of young adult Spartans. They were encouraged to break the exclusive ties with their own natal families and to consider all Spartans of their father's age to be in loco parentis."
At the age of twelve, the Spartan male "was expected to receive a young adult warrior as his lover -- the technical Spartan term for the active senior partner was `inspirer,' while the junior partner was known as the `hearer,'" relates Dr. Cartledge. When the Spartan boy reached age eighteen he was evaluated for membership in the Crypteia, a police force assigned "to control the Helots" -- a population of civilian slaves who lived under a form of martial law and could be killed, with impunity, by the Spartan police.
If Barack Obama -- or even some tertiary bureaucratic appointee in his administration --were to invoke totalitarian Sparta as a model for an American social renaissance, Glenn Beck most likely would suffer a seizure at his chalkboard, and the entire warbot Right would go into convulsions. Allen West's candid endorsement of that vile totalitarian system, however, is seen as "courageous" and "principled" by that same social cohort.
"When was the last time you heard a politician speak like this?" squealed an enraptured conservative commentator regarding West's paean to Sparta's child-snatching militarist overlords.
Well, let's see:
There was that curious little fellow -- a bit eccentric, but a decorated combat veteran nonetheless -- who about eighty years ago explained: "When an opponent says, `I will not come over to your side,' I calmly say, `Your child belongs to us already.... You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community."
Fleshing out the Dear Leader's vision, his Interior Minister, Wilhelm Frick, insisted that the "primary obligation" of parents, schools, and other institutions was "to raise youth for service to the Volk and state...."
Another version of that same sentiment was expressed at a Soviet Communist Party Education Workers' Conference in 1918: "We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children's nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists."
A few years ago, the militarist Right worked itself into a spittle-flinging frenzy over a video depicting what was described as Obama's "paramilitary youth corps." The black teenagers in that video -- whose choreographed presentation did have the flavor of a ritual worshipping the Dear Leader of a third world nation -- were enrolled in a Kansas City program for troubled youngsters. This disagreeable episode was an entirely isolated incident.
Allen West, on the other hand, has candidly endorsed the idea that virtuous American mothers should "[give] up their male sons" to be raised by the State, for the State; that they should teach their sons that there is no vocation holier than killing on behalf of the State; and that there is no act nobler than sacrificing one's life in the State's service.
Many of the same people who saw the odd little performance in Kansas City as evidence of a plot to create a monolithic, nation-wide Paramilitary Youth Corps of fearsome size and iron discipline apparently think this arrangement would be just fine, as long as Allen West were the one in charge.
Perhaps he's being coy, but Colonel West insists that he's not interested in a presidential run in 2012. If he's sincere in that refusal, he might find himself gravitating toward a different venture promoted by Beck -- what one of his publicists describes as a coterie of "former CEOs, CIA agents, and military personnel who share his vision to restore the republic."
On the basis of prior performance, it's pretty clear that Beck's "vision" doesn't include a repudiation of the Warfare State. The thumbnail sketch of his proposed brain trust suggests that he would be communing with people who have been instrumental in building that vertically integrated enterprise of plunder, bloodshed, and misery, and have profited from it.
I find myself wondering if Beck and his clique will gather in some sheltered Rocky Mountain redoubt to prepare for the final economic and social collapse -- and then emerge in the aftermath to offer the kind of leadership only seasoned militarists can provide. If this is the case, I'd suggest naming their sanctuary Galtieri Gulch, in memory of a CIA-supported figure whose junta field-tested many of the techniques -- military tribunals, kidnappings, torture, summary execution -- that are now routinely employed by Washington.
Allen West would make a suitable figurehead for a post-collapse American military junta, and I suspect that among his admirers can be found many people who quietly long for the advent of an American Galtieri or Pinochet. I suppose it would be progress, of a sort, to see a black man considered for the role of the Man on the White Horse.
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Dum spiro, pugno!