Friday, February 14, 2014

I learned with some surprise several years ago that some people miss the Cold War. It gave meaning to political reality. We were the Good Guys and they were the Bad Guys. An ancient story.

It also had religious grandeur. Nuclear Armageddon. Nuclear winter. Lingering radioactive death and the dry sands of reproductive sterility and mutant babies. A holy terror that was Biblical in scope. It revitalized Xtian apocalypsism, gave a scientific means for ending the world, and no holocaust has ever loomed so large as the images of atomic bomb explosions that  ironically always failed to stop the alien invasions in vintage sci-fi films. (Heaven, perhaps, is only a force field away?)

When the USSR collapsed, the shock, the sense of loss, it inflicted on us inspired lunacies like The End of History:

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." Francis Fukuyama

When 911 happened, the eagerness with which we threw our collective idealism and aggregate ignorance into the War on Terror showed how dearly we love our sacred enemies, how much we need some loathsome nation or race or ideology or religion to despise and grind under our bomb heels like insectile vermin. (What about that Shock'n'Awe, eh? Helluva good show although the Fall of the Towers was and still is the best martial spectacle since Hiroshima footage. Downright Tolkienesque.)

Already, we weary of conquering Terror, that beastly foe. Islamofascism has curdled, Russia's biggest sin currently is trashing gays, China makes everything we consume from chickens to Xmas, and America has hands down both the biggest prison population (4 million, last I heard) and military arsenal and budget by an order of magnitude.

We're running out of people to hate except ourselves.

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