Saturday, August 30, 2003

Totalitarian Politics


And first things first.

Recently I got into a bit of an exchange with some lefty folks online about the U.N. bombing. Lots of 'em thought it was just fine.

I didn't. I still don't.

The idea seemed to be that the U.N. had been complicit in U.S. imperialism, and as result, even the people doing humanitarian work became legitimate targets.

I called that an example of totalitarian thinking; of course, someone disagreed and demanded that I consult a dictionary before writing. Like that ever stopped anybody.

But seriously. Listen to the logic. Because the U.N. is not perfect, it then becomes a legitimate target for death. It's an old, old way of thinking about politics:

"Fellow partisans," he said - and Peter percieved two flames, like horns, suddenly fly out from his forehead - "I went to the desert, as you know, to meet God. I was hungry, thirsty, broiling hot. I sat up on a rock and called God to appear.

Wave after wave of devils pounded over me, broke, frothed, and then turned around and flowed back. First were the devils of the body, then the devils of the mind and lastly the all powerful devils of the heart.

But I held God before me as a shield of bronze, and the sand around me filled with fragments of claws and teeth and horns. And then I heard a great voice above me: 'Rise, take the axe brought to you by [John the Baptist], strike!"

"Will no one be saved?" Peter cried. But Jesus did not hear.

"All at once my arm grew heavy as if someone had wedged an axe in my grasp. I started to get up, but as I did so I heard the voice once more: 'Son of the Carpenter, a new flood is lashing out, not of water this time, but of fire. Build a new ark, select the saintly, and place them inside!'

"The selection has begun, friends."

N. Kazanzatkis The Last Temptation