“There is No Such Thing as the State: We Must Love One Another or Die”

By Kenneth Lipp

Bradley Manning does not look any older in a uniform with a beret than he does in shorts and a T-shirt. You can look at him in any photo, even photos where dark abuse’s record appears in hematomas and lost elasticity of flesh—even there, you see a kind of melted youth, a human who had just begun to truly form and know himself and so had that sort of softness, which is easily deformed when subject to the warping power of intense cruelty. Bradley is a boy, he retains his cherubic countenance despite the Torquemada apparatus he’s being detained within, which masquerades as a system of US MILITARY JUSTICETM— a term that many, even conservative, members of the mainstream public consider obviously euphemistic.

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police

We must love one another or die.

-W.H. Auden


It’s not far-fetched to aver that the majority of America would consider itself patriotic, proud of country and confident that it acts with honor (perhaps qualifying as relative to other countries which we might hypothetically have been born in, or even more non-sequitur, and enough so to elicit an uncomfortable laugh of embarrassment—“Well at least it isn’t the Nazi’s or CHINA in charge”). China commits atrocious human rights violations, but they have their shit together. (See “Oriental Despotism”)

But there are far fewer who consider the US Armed Forces an example of fair, rational, or expedient human management which should be parroted in forming our political ethics.

There are also many, including myself, who believe that the United States military has enjoyed a far-too long-lived indemnity from scrutiny or reciprocity; that they have conducted international and domestic  relations  with willful blindness to the independent will of their own people and those of other nations, and their right  to have an executive say in how they are governed.

Irrespective of the depravity of the deposed, the US and allies brought conditions of intractable violence which is now deeply entrenched in Iraqi daily life. Saddam Hussein was an unjust ruler and a dangerous man to his neighbors. But look: this was  the martial deposition of a sitting head of state—almost unilaterally—based on blind credulity at intel of “weapons of mass destruction”-which turned out to be false—which resulted in decade-long conditions of  deteriorating safety from fatal violence—this requires far more than a hung old man and a few terrorist inmates to support. This  needs to be called the dismal failure that it is. The US needs to be asking Iraq’s neighbors what they should do—shit, asking anyone, they’re clueless, gas is not even cheaper.

The US has lied, and signed itself to lies, all while insisting on deference to its domestic imperatives under the rhetoric of “manifest,” ethical, superiority.  The ethics are, of course, and always have been, found at the end of a barrel. Or under the wings of an F-22, or aboard the deck of a Ford class USN aircraft carrier.

We are at a tipping point. I am not alone by far in this opinion, though I differ widely from many in my description of the conflict, and the means by which we affect it.

First let’s see if we can find out what went wrong—America has never been a chaste, transcendent ideology-made-land, but have we always thought ourselves the singular exception of Nation-state ethics?

I am not an expert in military history. I am, however, a practiced investigator of the evolving process behind what I observe, as well as being a bit of a general history buff. I’m confident in the narrative I am about to share, in that it describes in a functional way the US’s history of influence and esteem… over say the last half-century, since World War II.  For the sake of brevity in this article, chronology and marginal details may be treated with a broad brush-stroke, but I’ll have it right sufficient for my point.

The Nazis were a plague, a compound of the worst of human sociality, ossified into a pre-packaged and deified ethnic identity. Germany had the offensive advantage of a fighting civilian population that had been given a story they could get behind, a history and a purpose which they were eager to believe and own. The Gospel of Aryan Supremacy worked just as well as Urban’s call to crusade, it gave people a picture of reality that was ideal for their prosperity, appealed to their psychological ideals, and better, made their prosperity itself a virtue guaranteed carte blanche, and therefore morally upright to acquire through any means desired. This incredibly structured and instinctually appealing tribal behavior is a display of our basest religious tendencies. Here, the Deity is the State as opposed to an anthropic God like YHWH. But the State holds the same infallible moral dominion, and its decrees, like the moral commandments of Abrahamic traditions, cannot have their truth or goodness undermined by rational scrutiny, because they are, before all, true and good because they are the state’s decrees.

Like with Christendom, et al., there is no supernatural authority which backed the Nazi’s claims—though it wasn’t wholesale fabrication, loosely based on Norse mythology, the entirety of the Nazi’s moral charter was based in both  historical and biological fiction (there are no ethnic Germans, or ethnic French. Ethnicity is an affinal trait more often than a consanguine determination– mostly a function of cultural ecology)

No, No One-eyed Odin, no deus ex machina of the North for the Nazi perpetrators of genocide–the horror of the Auschwitz gas  chambers would have to be owned by the men who ordered and executed the slaughter, and those who stood by and  let it happen—because it did not happen to suit God or because Jews in any way deserved to be exterminated.

The German nation had demonstrated to most nations  of the world that they had no choice but to unite to fight against it. In Europe, there could be no abstention. The Germans crowded east to Stalingrad. They blustered their way without a mortar to  colonize the Iberian by depositing the Vichy. Stones fell from the dome of St. Paul’s, and parents were sending their children out of London to the country, to save them from the V2 blitzkrieg.

The US got involved after Pearl Harbour, although an element had always wanted to join the combat (here, I think I might note, their earlier involvement may have saved millions of lives).  To defend themselves and Europe, and disarm Germany (and Italy, I guess), the task was left to just the UK and the USSR.

Under direct assault, England’s role as anointed conscientious protector of virtuous civilization was forged by Churchill into a national sense of responsibility, to stop the Nazi’s for the good of the world.  This  sense of responsibility he repeatedly attempted to awaken in the American government.

The rest of Western Europe was a sounding board, a battlefield. In France, a few brave geniuses took up the relay of publishing the truth—Camus and others kept burned a light amid the dampest, most pernicious climate of civil  treachery since Isabella’s Inquisition; but the bureaucrats of Paris cared not who kept them employed–a weak republic did the only thing it could, which was parley for relief and accept terms which required the  betrayal  their own humanity.

It took all the Allies, in fact, to diffuse the German dynamo—Stalingrad might easily had fallen if the Western Front was neutralized, allowing Germany to send its full might across the Volga.

The Allies, it’s true, would never have invaded from the Channel without the United States. Operation Overlord (“D-Day” is a generic military term for the designated day for a particular event) required massive planning and numbers, and I can imagine that the fresh American soldiers were tenacious and forwardly mobile in comparison with the war weary Europeans.

WW II was a terribly tragic conflict; 50 million civilians in Russian died.

Sharp toothed diplomacy might have made a difference early for Britain’s Chamberlain, but instead it was decided that Adolf was really just the cutest thing, and sure was whipping things in the Rhineland into shape.  There was once talk of a roasting, where the UK delegation would wear fake bushy mustaches and razz Hitler goodnaturedly.

I think Chamberlain believed that Hitler was one of the old guard of the Continent, and could manage his people industriously, and wanted to make money from his power. Tragically, I suppose one might be slow in admitting to that error, even once a sovereign nation is invaded and annexed with barely a nod to let Europe know “This is ours, trust us, we left it here.”

The insanity of Hitler, and the Third Reich’s utter disregard for international inter-adjudication,  in particular, allowed for an almost worldwide consensus about the Axis’ danger and the necessity to subdue it.

Ok, so let’s leave that at “Allies Win,” and rewind to Pearl Harbour for just a second.

Although in no state of war with any Axis power, the US blockaded a wide swath of the Pacific. This hamstrung Japan. I don’t know how much you know about farmland on the islands of the rising sun, but in short: There’s shit on the island of Japan. The attack of the Japanese on the US was a desperate act, not a calculated maneuver of conquest. They were being starved as in a siege, and the only defense they saw was to strike at the US Navy to open a window for supplies shipments in the Pacific. Of course they expected war,  and hoped to improve their odds by striking at the USN Fleet and  crippling their ability to conduct a Pacific campaign.

I will agree with anyone who says that the Japanese were not justified in killing so many sailors, and soldiers, and civilians that day in 1941; But let’s not weld the halo on permanently, not just yet. We did kinda start it. And, about four years later, the United States army will fly two planes over the nation of Japan and drop pure death from the sky on innocent women, children, non-combatant peaceful citizens in a target without strong military interest. Two cities of working, loving, people in families, and in couples, being born, and learning songs, and making love, and dying alone—both cities bathed in modern man’s flash-pan Hell. Over 200,000 people, like me, were incinerated in a blink.

For the generals, like McArthur, there was no break between the armistice and Korea. The “forgotten war” was a mission to conduct what Truman called (and which has now taken on derisive subtext) a “police action.”  It was a war fought without spine; and willfully ignorant of wise resolution. It ended in a stalemate—the Korean War has not ended.  A ceasefire which established the Demilitarized Zone sent US troops back home (or elsewhere to do good deeds), and left the peninsula in near-rending bipolar tension.

Vietnam is overdone. I will skip that one, except to say how tragically useless it was from the start.  How conflicting it was for the young men conscripted—and that it might be the first clearly complete example, in an almost unbroken series since, of the mechanically discompassionate manner in which the US is willing to approach the world. Not only would America resort to any means to protect its demonstrable interest, it was willing to Napalm the jungles of Southeast Asia like human exterminators—for no more than to earn a political advantage in defending ideology.

The wars of my life have all been of high production value. I can remember the night I waited with my family to hear the first George Bush announce military action against Iraq. No one could explain the reason for the conflict to me well, but I was largely made to understand that Saddam Hussein (who could be called “Sodamn-Insane,” which had to mean something..) was unquestionably a villain. Within the following weeks, the invasion of Kuwait was explained to me—but it was honestly harder for me to understand taking sides between the two countries, than doing battle with a bad guy.

The bad guy impression is really what was sold to the American people in 2003. The administration’s line included evidence (as previously mentioned, false), but was more than anything a boogyman story, a tale about a man who hates us, and not really for any slight or economic friction—No, the International Rogue Head of State HATES such obvious virtues as truth and freedom. The CIA has Amadinijead on tape saying that McDonald’s Big Mac tastes like scotch tape, and although unreleased to the press the FBI recently thwarted a joint Al Quaeda-North Korea-Taliban-Ralph Nader operation which almost succeeded in just barely popping the pop-tops of hundreds of thousands of Coke product cans. Terrorists/Communists also hate carbonation. We must be ever vigilant.

The truth is that no one “hates freedom and truth,” certainly not any more than Americans do. Al Quaeda spokespeople certainly seem to hate our attitude of superiority about our truth, and they rightfully consider us hypocrites for singing the praises of liberty, but making all sacrifices for commerce.

In fact, as an idea, we all value some form of honorable conduct, and reverence fearless honesty. Virtues rarely contrast between ideologically defined groups. Even between a Green Party booster and a rationally-divergent Tea Partier, the same document, the Constitution, and in the particular the Bill of Rights, is claimed and touted by both, and as both final legitimate authority for the form and function of government as well  explicitly supporting their respective platforms.

Although one is more wrong than the other, all groups which tout the Constitution as the final word are finally mistaken about empirical ethics. We can amend the constitution, and, therefore, we acknowledge that principles exist which supercede the statutory prescriptions. We value truth and honor, and where we find it lacking in our law we undertake to make correction. For a democracy to function, there must exist the absolute right of the people to contest the practical and/or ethical validity of governmental action—not against the written code by comparison with the fundamental human rights and obligations we accept on nigh a global level.

And again there’s Bradley Manning. His mother cannot touch him, and the US government will soon try him for his life.

Now, these ethics we agree on—truth and honor and fearless truth-telling—who possesses these things?

I have heard Bradley referred to as a “disgrace,” as having dishonored his duty to his nation, and even heard “he should have known.”

If we value what we claim, Manning ought to be our hero. Yes, although no one should ever expect the treatment he has received, he should have known that if caught, he would face consequences. He violated military regulations. But it is his transgression against the institution which should earn him our admiration. Manning uncovered some ugly truths kept secret. The information he exposed betrays the US Government and military for the heartless, unprincipled aggressors that they are; he did his duty, a duty which we all share if we are to bond and grow successfully as organized communities—the duty to inform a people that the powers which claim them as their backing are committing injustice in their name. The duty to expose malignant, undue influence in the lives of a nation’s citizens; an influence which maneuvers people into roles which make their lives a function of the state’s prosperity. With knowledge that he could be punished, Manning insisted on acting upon principles of honesty and transparency, he served his nation like no shooting soldier—he provided knowledge, therefore power, to a populace increasingly kept in the dark.

So, the tipping point:

I do not anticipate the US government’s overthrowing, nor an impending foreign invasion that will blot out the “American Way of Life.” The point at which we find ourselves is bullet-biting time.

It is urgent that we abandon divisive attitudes within nations, fueled by notions of distinctness and exceptionality.  We must spread the truth that we are all in fact no different, that we  share an interest in contributing constructively to a new global society. It is time to see all humans as our family, and allies, and work to erase the mythologies which bind us in violent regression, blood for blood, lie for lie.

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Lipp is a researcher in both primate and human genetics, and writes regularly on issues of public health and international health care policy. He has published research on telomere attrition and cellular aging in various peer-reviewed publications, and is an avid advocate of human rights.


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