31 December 2002
Attacking the Shadow through Iraq
Using the I-Rack to Put Western Civilization to the Question
- / -
As discussed elsewhere with respect to the unrecognized logic of America's 'War on Terra',
a problem of pronunciation signals a problem of comprehension. In the case of
'terror', this confusion is signalled by the title of the UN Environment
Programmes's INFOTERRA information system. Indeed, in most English and American
dialects there is no distinction in the pronunciation between "Terror" and "Terra".
Similarly, in most American dialects, in the pronunciation of 'Iraq',
there is no distinction between "raq" and "rack". The unconscious
implications of this are explored below.
Two linked approaches are used here. One approach is to consider
the possibility that America is effectively undertaking a massive attack on
its own shadow -- through Iraq. The second is to consider the way in which the
identity of western civilization is being put on a form of 'rack'
-- the 'I-rack'.
Attacking the Shadow
Shadow: Psychoanalysts and psychotherapists have extensively
explored the 'shadow' and the pathology associated with the tendency
of people to attack their own shadow. The archetypal scapegoat or shadow, present
in everyone, is that part of the psyche normally the focus of blame or attack
when the individual feels it necessary to vindicate himself or justify his own
behaviour. It is not normally recognized as part of the self and thus the blame
or attack is usually received by someone else who has sparked off the disquieting
view of the shadow.
The shadow has its collective dimension, as noted by Michael Daniels
(The Shadow in Transpersonal Psychology, 2000):
According to Jung, there is another important dimension to the shadow - its
collective manifestations. Jung is referring here to the darkness that may
be found as an undercurrent in all human groups, whether families, tribes,
organisations, movements or large civilisations, as well as in human nature
generally. For example, in the same way that the personal shadow is the dark
complement of an individual's persona, a culture's dominant zeitgeist will
cast its own dark, antithetical, collective shadow. At the universal level,
the shining light of our self-professed and sometimes expressed humanity is
complemented and counterbalanced by a very dark side to human nature. We rightly
react in horror and disgust at the brutality and inhumanity of the Holocaust,
or of Rwanda and Kosovo. But the real horror is that we are all capable of
such atrocities - especially, it seems, if we are male. It is very much a
case of "There, but for the grace of God, go I". Or, as Jung (1958) puts it:
"we are always, thanks to our human nature, potential criminals ... None of
us stands outside humanity's ... collective shadow." (p. 96) [more]
Psychosynthesis, for example, aims, by psychoanalysis, to assist
in acknowledgement of this lower aspect of man's nature and thus create inner
harmony. Such acknowledgement takes courage but results in integrating the shadow
in a constructive manner, leading first to humility and humanness and eventually
to new insight and expanded horizons. It is postulated that the inability to
accept that the "enemy" is in fact one's own lower nature is the cause of all
bias, discrimination and conflict. Acknowledgement of the collective shadow
might well prevent nationalistic or racialistic over-reactions to atrocities
and barbarism which effectively are merely responding in kind. By accepting
that everyone, as a human being, holds in himself collective responsibility
for every development may well be the key to the next stage in human evolution.
From the perspective of Neuro-Linguistic Programming: 'Change
comes from 'widening the aperture' of the person's map of the world or by finding
and transforming the obstacles to the light -- not by attacking the shadow'
[more]. But curiously
it is in fantasy gaming and role playing that the phrase 'attacking the
shadow' is now most widely recognized in modern culture -- thanks in part
to works such as The Lord of the Rings and the challenge of its 'Dark
"Dark Riders" of Social Change, 2002].
Estranged fatherhood: The American poet, Robert Bly, for
example, has written on how many men have fought their fathers -- a dark "shadowy"
father -- to overcome them. He also writes of men who have tried to rise above
their fathers, flying high, transcending, leaving them below. Bly said, with
respect to US involvement in the Vietnam war (Iron John, 1990, p. 95),
"The older men in the American military establishment and government did
betray the younger men in Vietnam, lying about the nature of the war, remaining
in safe places themselves, after having asked the young men to be warriors
and then in effect sending them out to be ordinary murderers." (at p.95)
The pattern of folly sustaining this has been explored by Barbara
Tuchman (The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, 1984), In his book,
People of the Lie (1983), M Scott Peck notes with respect to Vietnam,
where he served in the Army Medical Corps:
I used to ask the troops on their way to battle in Vietnam what they knew
about the war and its relationship to Vietnamese history. The enlisted men
knew nothing. Ninety percent of the junior officers knew nothing. What little
the senior officers did know was generally solely what they had been taught
in the highly biased programs of their military schools. It was astounding.
At least 95 percent of the men going off to risk their very lives did not
even have the slightest knowledge of what the war was about...The fact of
the matter is that as a nation we did not even know why we were waging the
As Bly develops his argument, U.S. fathers fail to give their
sons what they need to be men. Young men need initiation into adulthood, to
be welcomed among the fathers of the world, or they rage and sulk alone through
life. In the special mythology of the U.S., says Bly, all you need to do to
become an American man is reject your father. In situation comedies, in popular
media, fathers are portrayed as weak and ridiculous. In this atmosphere it is
little wonder that older men lack the confidence, or even the knowledge needed,
to be more generous. Over past decades it has been the phenomenon of the counter-culture
(whether through long hair, alternative philosophies and states of consciousness),
its male adherents acted out their rejection of the Fathers and everything they
stood for. But driving that rejection was the grief of shattered illusions.
Bly has spent the last few years talking about this problem to
groups of men. He offers them traditional initiatory solutions. The meetings
are part poetry reading, part spiritual retreat, part group therapy. That his
book has become a number-one best seller in the United States suggests he has
indeed tapped a deep well of unspoken pain. Since 1974, Bly has organized an
annual Conference on the Great
Mother and the New Father to consider a wide variety of mythological, poetic
and other traditions. The aim is to create an environment in which participants
are able to move toward an understanding between men and women, young and old,
and people of diverse cultures, ethnic backgrounds, mythological and ritual
The question is whether the frustration at the 'deep well
of unspoken pain' he addresses has now been collectively projected by American
culture onto Iraq as a concrete focus for the shadowy attributes of 'terror'.
Has the Iraq crisis, focused on Saddam Hussein, been evoked and set up by a
complex cultural dynamic as a kind of 'father' who has to be rejected
and overcome for American culture to be able to be able to come into some new
form of maturity. Certainly the relationship of George Bush Sr to Saddam Hussein
has created a pattern on which many have commented as a motivating factor for
George W Bush.
Tilting at windmills: It is useful to look at a famous
contemporary commentary on the Spanish Conquistadores invasion of the
'New World', as developed by Miguel de Cervantes [1547-1616]. His
political allegories were readily understood by Spaniards notably through the
actions of Don Quixote against windmills -- that gave rise to the much-used
phrase "tilting at windmills". The phrase originates with an incident when Don
Quixote sees windmills and tries to convince his companion Sancho Panza that
they are evil giants and that he must do battle with them. Don Quixote battles
enemy knights and soldiers, sorcerers, and giants. His only problem is that
he often gets things wrong, mistaking strangers for enemies, falling off his
horse, and being beaten senseless by mule-drivers. He blames every setback on
the magic of an evil enchanter he believes to be his nemesis. Everywhere he
goes, Don Quixote sees the everyday as the legendary: he confuses inns for castles,
windmills for giants, and prostitutes for princesses:
Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our
desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more
monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle
and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this
is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed
from off the face of the earth. (Don Quixote, Chapter VIII: Of
the good fortune which the valiant Don Quixote had in the terrible and undreamt-of
adventure of the windmills)
Confused by modern media, there is every possibility that Iraq
has become a focus for the modern military-industrial complex -- in their desperate
search for oil, rather than for the gold of the Conquistadores. Might
Iraqi oil rigs have unconscious resonances to Spanish windmills? Don Quixote,
of course, did not lack courage but was bested by forces which he did not understand
and he was completely powerless to defeat. A Castilian Spaniard of that day
would have identified with Don Quixote, because in spite of his own efforts,
his life was getting worse for reasons he did not understand. He was simply
too far removed from the economic and political centers of power in Spain.
Believing that outside forces are capriciously controlling one's
experience can indeed lead to a desire for revenge, to the constant need to
'avenge' the arbitrary and fickle vicissitudes of life. Research (Stuckless,
1998) has found that the stronger the vengeful feelings people have, the less
comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful their experience of life. McCullough
et al (2001) corroborate these findings, noting that vengefulness is
positively correlated with: being less forgiving; greater rumination about the
offense; higher negative affectivity; and lower life satisfaction.
Robert Johnson (Transformation: understanding the Three Levels
of Masculine Consciousness, 1993), uses Don Quixote to illustrate the first
of three stages of personal growth to achieve maturity and wholeness. Using
three quintessential figures from classical literature -- Don Quixote, Hamlet,
and Faust -- he presents three levels of development that are to be achieved
to experience the self-realized state of completion and harmony. Each is Don
Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust at various stages of a life. They represent levels
of consciousness that live inside us, vying for dominance, one winning one moment,
another the next.
- Don Quixote is the innocent child in us all, unaware of life's pain -- a
poignant reference to US governments indifference to developing countries
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002).
- Shakespeare's Hamlet represents conscious imperfection, a man divided between
the opposing forces within himself and full of despair in the face of the
tragic nature of life. This is the state of the modern Western person -- aware
of shortcomings, anxious over what to do, neurotic and incomplete. As a result,
modern Western culture has historically dismantled the more natural societies
it has encountered, leaving entire populations stranded in the purgatory of
this second level of consciousness.
- The third state, conscious perfection -- the state of the fully integrated
person -- is represented by Goethe's Faust. His is an awareness that has been
gained by struggling with and working through the second level of consciousness
-- a journey that is both painful and dangerous and of particular pertinence
to our contemporary culture. It is Faust who, through his own inner work,
restores to wholeness the life he had torn apart to achieve the ecstatic,
visionary, enlightened consciousness of which we are all capable. [more]
Sa'id Asgharzadeh (Tose'eh, Iran, 6 October 2001) compares
the WTC twin towers to the windmills attacked by Don Quixote, of which he notes
two variants in literature -- that of Cervantes he compares to bin Laden seeking
to stop the Renaissance and restore medieval chivalry, with Sancho (his companion)
on a donkey like Mullah Omar encouraging Don Quixote to pursue his dreams and
illusions. He argues that Graham Greene's modern Don Quixote, like George Bush,
is to be addressed as his excellency, pursues the path to absolute good and
is in a constant struggle against evil, but is thwarted in his aims by his fantasies
and illusions. His Sancho is a bankrupt capitalist -- in this case Tony Blair.
For the commentator:
"Both are examples of the tragedy of human life. Both are prepared to sacrifice
themselves for humanity, have companions, and insist on pursuing their chosen
paths though they realize they are the object of universal ridicule....We
should wait and see if the countries of the region and the world face a fate
shaped by emotions or thought. If a choice is inevitable, do people prefer
a tragic or a comical ending?"
External vs Internal terrorism: In a relatively rare analysis
of the New York terrorist attacks, a Brazilian psychoanalyst, Norberto Keppe
(founder of the personal development methodology Analytical
Trilogy) states [in an interview
with Richard Jones]:
Well, when we notice terrorism outside ourselves, we need to see that in
a certain way, that terrorism also exists inside as well, in this case, inside
the nation that sees the terrorism only outside itself. So we cannot say that
certain nations are dangerous and others not. Because the question of terrorism
is not a question of this or that nation. It's a universal question. So if
a nation sees terrorism coming only from outside, and not from inside as well,
it is actually in more danger than the one who is willing to look at its own
internal terrorism and take care of it in a more careful way. So it is very
dangerous to see the problem only on the outside. This brings up the question
of psychological projection, which is a process where the person sees the
problems that he has, in the other person. So a nation that sees the problem
outside, becomes a very dangerous nation to itself, because it doesn't see
that the problems are actually inside itself.
For Andrew Samuels (Machiavelli and Shadow Politics, 1994):
A more evolved attitude toward politics (one that goes with shadow energies
and not against them) is something to work on in the office or consulting
room, just as we work on more evolved attitudes to spirituality, sexuality
and aggression. Analysts (and patients, too?) might begin to work out models
that enable us to refer to a person's level of political development, to a
political drive, to a political level of the psyche. In clinical practice,
such models would enable us to generate new readings of personal and collective
political imagery. We may even find that there is a politics of imagery. [more]
John Schlapobersky (1993) comments on how Andrew Samuels' book
Political Psyche (1994) brings political questions to bear on depth psychology;
and psychological questions to bear on the political world. As the two areas
of discourse engage one another through the book, he acknowledges "the discovery
of a two-way process ... as the original intent to illumine the political turned
into a searching exploration of the clinical." [more]
Attacking others: As a strategy such attack is envisaged
when the feeling of being overpowered or ashamed is converted into destructive
aggression or attempts to make others feel humiliated or shamed. This is the
person who tries to avoid their own sense of inadequacy by shifting that feeling
to the other person -- trying to invoke in another the shame they can't bear
to feel about themselves. It is the essence of scapegoating [more;
more] -- a dimension
neglected with respect to Iraq.
On 'internal terrorism' Norberto Keppe (see above) states:
Well, this question of terrorism, this terror of terrorism, shows to the
people the terror they have of their own internal terrorism. And explaining
this in the pathological sense ... the individual has inside himself ideas of
destruction, ideas of self-destruction, and it becomes very dangerous for
him because by thinking that he is a victim of external terrorism, of external
destruction, he forgets to see that he also has this not exactly tendency,
but that he has this attitude of destroying himself.... So what I'm saying
is that absolutely no individual who has maturity will try to solve a problem
through a fight, or through a war. There is a Chinese saying, that says when
you see two people talking, two people discussing, watch for the one who loses
his cool and physically attacks. That is the one who has lost his reason.
So if a country declares war on another because of terrorism, it is because
it puts itself on the same plane, on the same level as the other one. An inferior
level. A level with no reason. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason that
justifies a war. [more]
In exploring shame, psychoanalyst James M. Shultz (Shame,
Is it surprising that there are many defenses against shame? Donald Nathanson,
the psychiatrist who has written most comprehensively about shame, has grouped
the defenses against it into four areas. These areas are withdrawal, avoidance
(which can take many different forms), attacking others, and attacking the
self. There isn't time to go into these here, but let me just say that if
you read his descriptions of defenses against shame you can see in slightly
different language, practically all of what psychoanalysts have called the
ego defense mechanisms. They are the ways we protect the integrity of our
individual point of view and conscious functioning. It makes sense that our
psychological defenses against overwhelming anxiety and threats of castration
or disintegration would also protect us from overwhelming shame and threats
of dismemberment or dissolution. Here's a thought: if you're about to be castrated
you are afraid, but if you're already castrated you're ashamed.
Many have compared the World Trade Center disaster to a symbolic
castration of American culture [more;
Methodology: Jerome Bernstein is one of the few psychoanalysts
to apply his insights to the nature of the cultural challenge of terrorism [September
11th: Piercing Our Unconscious, 2001]. In an earlier book [Power and
Politics: The Psychology of Soviet-American Partnership, 1989], he makes
the case for underlying archetypal dynamics that prevented a political solution
between the two superpowers during the Cold War, and which were responsible
ultimately for the collapse of the Cold War (not a U.S. victory over the Soviet
Union, as the U.S. subsequently claimed). Bernstein states:
Indeed, one of the first symptoms of powerful underlying archetypal dynamics
determining political possibility in international conflict is the very intractability
of the problem. In other words, if, despite best efforts over a protracted
period of time, political resolution is not possible, the likely cause is
the presence of prevailing archetypal dynamics of which the proponents are
unaware. In this regard, it would be instructive to consider the observations
of the pre-eminent historical authority on the Cold War, Harvard University
professor John Lewis Gaddis, in an article entitled, International Relations
Theory and the End of the Cold War.. He raises a critically important
The end of the Cold War...was of such importance that no approach to the
study of international relations claiming both foresight and competence
should have failed to see it coming. None actually did so...and that
fact ought to raise questions about the methods we have developed for trying
to understand world politics.
And, again, on page 18, he [Gaddis] asserts:
What is immediately obvious...[is] that very few of our theoretical approaches
to the study of international relations came anywhere close to forecasting
any of these developments. One might as well have relied upon stargazers,
readers of entrails, and other "pre-scientific" methods for all the good
our "scientific" methods did; clearly our theories were not up to the task
of anticipating the most significant event in world politics since the end
of World War II....(See Journal of International Security, Vol. 17,
No. 3, Winter 1992/93, pp.5-58. Italics those of Dr. Gaddis.)
Bernstein indicates that by the year 2000, no one in the political
science community had taken up the challenge formulated by Gaddis. the response
had been : 'total silence from the very individuals and groups who should
be most concerned' [more]
I-Rack: American culture 'Put to the Question'
Rack as framework: A 'rack' is any kind of framework
in which one or more items can be stored or mounted. Electronic equipment is
often 'rack-mounted' -- notably in aerospace vehicles. There is even
an I-Rack series for such storage [more].
Metaphorically a rack could also be understood as a form of conceptual
scaffolding, like a map, through which insights are held in a particular configuration
through which broader insights can emerge. The Christian and other rosaries
can be understood as such a 'rack' to order integrative insights [more]
-- indeed the rosary is currently recommended as a 'weapon' against
The Christian cross -- as a focus for meditation -- is itself associated in
many complex ways with a rack (some were indeed placed on the cross after being
tortured on the rack).
The Eastern mandala may also be considered as a form of rack on
which the elements of the psyche are disposed as a subject for meditation. The
'dreamcatchers' made by American Indians could be seen in this light.
As with the cross, each could indeed be described as an 'I-Rack' through
which self-understanding may be achieved. In this metaphorical sense an 'I-Rack'
may also be explored as a framework onto which a dynamic system of elements
of cultural identity are projected so as to be held in a meaningful configuration.
An 'I-Rack' can thus be understood as serving as a kind of 'coat
hanger' for one's sense of ego and identity.
It is possible that during the Cold War the USSR served as an
I-Rack for the USA. With the fall of the Soviet Union, as some have remarked,
there is a need for a new kind of enemy onto which to project particular dimensions
of American cultural identity (see Needing
Evil Elsewhere, 2001). Does America need a continuing supply of I-Racks?
There is a challenge to inter-weaving conscious and unconscious
processes in governance. An earlier paper explored the metaphor of weaving as
providing important insights into the future challenge of governance -- in the
light of Gandhi's highly successsful use of the spinning metaphor (Warp
and Weft: world governance as a Gandhian challenge for the individual, 2002).
'Weft' is explored there as providing contrasting insights in necessary
opposition to the 'warp' framed by the government line. It is ironic
that in the Westminster parliamentary model any 'opposition' is focused
by 'shadow' ministers in one, or more, 'shadow cabinets'.
A 'warping rack' is of course one of the tools of weaving.
Rack as instrument of torture: The 'rack', as
one of the most used instruments of torture is displayed (in one form or another)
in many museums. It is a table -- or framework -- often with spiked rollers
for the victim to lay on. The victim would be tied to the rack and stretched
for days at a time. It is reported that, in some cases, the victim would be
stretched up to 12 inches. Wooden beating racks were much used in Nazi concentration
Torture was much used by Christian authorities in medieval times
in the process of interrogating suspected heretics who were 'Put to the
Question', through a procedure developed and practiced by the Inquisition.
Indeed 'Put to the Question' became synonymous with 'Put to the
Rack'. Guidelines for this process were provided in a notorious manual
Malleus Maleficarum (1486)
translated by Montague Summers (1928). This is the best known of the 'witch-hunt'
manuals. Written in Latin, the Malleus was first submitted to the University
of Cologne in 1487. The title is translated as The Hammer of Witches.
Written by James Sprenger and Henry Kramer, the Malleus remained in use
for three hundred years. It had tremendous influence in the witch trials in
England and on the continent.
When put to the "Question" for the first time by the Inquisition, the victim's
shoulders are dislocated and muscles are ripped apart. Upon the 2nd degree,
knee, hip and elbow joints begin to be forced out of their sockets. At this
point, the victim is maimed for life. Upon the "Question" of the 3rd degree
the joints are separated from the sockets with an audible and sickening "pop"
and the victim is then paralyzed. He then dies, gradually, over the course
of several days if he is lucky and misses out on the festivities of the auto
da fe'. The Inquisitors, however, were usually too careful to allow that to
happen. The Church did not wish to be responsible for the victim's death;
he would be "abandoned" to the secular authorities who would handle the actual
The Malleus was used as a judicial case-book for the detection
and persecution of witches, specifying rules of evidence and the canonical procedures
by which suspected witches were tortured and put to death [more].
Thousands of people (primarily women) were judically murdered as a result of
the procedures described in this book, for no reason than a strange birthmark,
living alone, mental illness, cultivation of medicinal herbs, or simply because
they were falsely accused (often for financial gain by the accuser). The Malleus
serves as a horrible warning about what happens when intolerence takes over
It is curious that modern times have seen a great resurgence of
interest in torture and use of the rack. One form has been much publicized in
There is a 'torture rack' web database for erotic fantasies and rape
scenes. 'Torture racks' are even sold as toys [more].
Torture equipment is manufactured and sold worldwide [USA;
is used by state authorities in many countries according to Amnesty's periodical
Reports of torture and ill-treatment inflicted by state agents in over 150 countries
have been received since 1997. In more than 70 torture or ill-treatment by state
officials was widespread and in over 80 countries people reportedly died as
Torture is now freely used by such national authorities as a 'legitimate'
means of obtaining evidence relating to terrorism -- whether those tortured
are genuinely implicated or are only suspects. Extrajudicial provisions have
been made in places like Camp X-Ray to avoid any possibility of unwelcome investigation.
Techniques of interrogation are allegedly developed at the Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). According to the
Washington Post, under the euphemism 'stress and duress', such
techniques are reportedly in use in secret detention centres around the world
by agents of the USA government -- or by 'contracting' such interrogation
to foreign intelligence agencies known to routinely use torture [more].
With the current secrecy, how will the USA ever be able to prove that it has
not systematically implemented a pattern of 'dissappearances'? How
will it distinguish itself from the notorious regimes that have used such practices
before? Has such 'interrogation' already become a credit course in
American military academies?
Those now suspected of terrorism are indeed 'Put to the Question'
with all the skills of scientifically-enhanced torture. An equivalent to the
Malleus undoubtedly exists to provide guidance in this process.
Unconscious self-torture: The question raised here however
is whether Amercian culture is in fact 'putting itself to the Question'
through its projection of 'evil' onto Iraq (as a way of avoiding recognition
of the USA's own internal 'evils') -- and through the attack on Iraq,
effectively an attack on the 'evils' conjured up from its own collective
Like the Christian Crusaders and the Conquistadores, the
Americans have been able to psych themselves into believing that they have a
divine mandate to bring civilization to foreign parts -- and are considerably
motivated by the riches that they can obtain in such a win-win process. As with
the Christian Conquistadores, the moral and spiritual mandate is totally
confused with the mundane rewards to be reaped through oil. The 'Gold'
of the Conquistadores has been transmuted into the 'Black Gold'
of the modern Crusaders in defence of civilization -- via the earlier 'Black
Gold' of slavery. "Send us gold, for we Spaniards have a disease that can
only be cured by gold," is the reported message of Cortez to the Montezuma,
the Aztec ruler of Mexico in 1519. Ironically this 'Spanish disease'
continues to govern American thinking.
Unlike other cultures Americans have not been tested on their
home territory by foreign invasion. As a superpower they cannot expect more
powerful father-figures from which to acquire the wisdom they need to move on
through appropriate initiation processes. It is curious therefore that George
Bush should engage in what his Christian supporters, and others, have termed
a 'crusade' to 'Baghdad' [more;
No city carries a name more symbolic of the challenge of Robert Bly's problematic
son-father relationship for Americans [see Crusading
from Washing-Town to Bag-Dad, 2002]. As a further irony Americans will
then be bombing, even more thorougly, the lands which first engendered western
civilization and history -- a classic case for any Freudian analyst, especially
if they 'accidentally' bomb the minarets.
In the current Christian right-wing framing of the war against
various Muslim states as a "crusade" -- a mission from God [more;
-- it is a curious irony (unlikely to be lost on Arabs) that it is a "General
Franks" who is seen as the probable US military commander of Iraq after "regime
The Franks were a key Christian group responding to Pope Urban's appeal for
a first Crusade in 1095 that led to the establishment of "crusader states" sympathetic
to the West. At that time, the term "Franks" was applied in a general manner
to all the inhabitants of Western Europe by Muslims [more].
A contemporary described their initiative as the "Doings of God through the
Through this massive attack by American forces, Iraq becomes the
"I-Rack" for America and its allies -- perhaps to become known as
the "Identity-Rack". Will the coherence of American beliefs and identity
be called into question through this in a manner analogous to the experience
of those exposed to one of the most painful devices developed by the ingenuity
of man? America now brings to the process even more painful devices, including
('daisy-cutter') bombs and chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry
-- if these prove 'necessary' to its mission [more;
more]. The challenge
for American culture is that the decision to use these devices may be made by
extremely flawed individuals -- articulating through their flaws the will of
the American people to learn most appropriately about the depths of their faith
in the 'non-negotiable' American Way of Life.
At some stage Americans will be obliged to recognize that the
pain their action brings to bear on others is a pain that they are effectively
inflicting upon themselves 'unto seven generations' -- as with the
slave trade [more;
more]. The American
intervention in Vietnam provides interesting insights into the mindsets that
may govern the intervention in Iraq [more].
The terrible question is how many human lives must be sacrificed in this learning
process for the bloodlust of the Americans to be satisfied in the cause of their
image of 'civilization'? Will it be 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000,
or 10,000,000? In the case of the Christian orthodoxy (in defence of their faith),
it has been estimated by careful and reputed historians of the Catholic Inquisition
that 50 million people were slaughtered for the crime of "heresy" -- by Roman
persecutors between the A.D. 606 and the middle of the 19th century [more].
The figures are of course disputed [more].
History will comment on the parallells between the 'heretics'
denounced by Catholicism and the 'terrorists' denounced in the current
'War against Terror'. The women and 'pagans' who died painfully
as heretics will be accompanied by new figures whose rejection of modern dogma
is now more complex than can be tolerated. Will 'terrorists' become
the 'witches' of the 21st century -- with the archives of their trials
only to be opened in centuries, as in the case of the Inquisition?
Rack and ruin: A further twist to 'I-Rack' derives
from the phrase 'rack and ruin'. The American identity is indeed bringing,
and will bring, 'rack and ruin' to those who oppose its cultural hegemony.
In the future 'I-Rack' may beome understood like the GI World War
II phrase 'Kilroy Was Here'. Sadly however it is on the much-valued
subtleties of their own culture that 'rack and ruin' will be wrought
by this process -- possibly to be understood as analogous to self-mutilation.
It is their culture that will be 'racked with pain' as their conscience
endeavours to come to terms with it. From the karmic perspective of some non-Christian
religions, any action on Iraq will cause a reaction on the culture perpetrating
it. This is familiar to Christians in the Biblical phrase 'As Ye Sow, So
Shall Ye Reap' [Gal. 6:7], currently much-quoted in relation to
the crisis [more].
In the light of the different stages of Question in the Malleus,
what might be the stages of challenge to American collective identity when stretched
upon 'I-Rack'? How 'tall' will American pilots stand after
releasing 'daisy cutters' -- an extra 12 inches? How will the American
military nourish its sense of honour after engaging in stealthy massacres of
many who may well have been innocent?
Will American culture find itself obliged to 'cleanse itself'
through 'confessing' to the evils in which it has denied engaging
in the world? Will this confession be subject to the kind of sceptical examination
and criticism as to its inadequacies -- as is the case of that of Saddam Hussein?
It is another matter as to whether history will see any parallels
with the American Civil War (1861-65). Are the Unionists to be equated with
the 'terrorists' or with their opponents? Given the politics of the
Confederates, and their exploitation of other races, it is perhaps they who
best carry the banner for 'western civilization' and its current relation
to 'developing countries'. The Confederate mind-set continues to deeply
influence Republican thinking -- and that of the President of the USA [more].
Would either side, back then, have found it inappropriate to use a 'Patriot
Act' to demonize contrary views and justify 'any measures' against
them -- especially in the light of their use of torture [more]?
Are the unresolved Civil War dynamics of America now being played out unconsciously
in the responses to terrorism and Iraq? To paraphrase Eldridge Cleaver, is it
'McCarthyism that is as American as apple pie'? [more]
Stake: Will America's self-appointed torturers, seeking
to save its soul, require the signature of a final confession before taking
it to the 'stake'?
It is another historical irony that the term 'stake',
as in 'stakeholder', should have acquired such prominence in the action
against Iraq. In the process of 'coalition building' -- effectively
creating the partners in the initiative -- the question of who will get to be
a 'stakeholder' in the final carve up of Iraqi assets has become totally
blatant in the financial press. But 'stake' at the time of the Inquisition
had a very sinister alternative meaning. Has George Bush effectively appointed
those who will hold the 'stake' on which American culture will be
tempered in fire -- in the necessary initiation to which Robert Bly alludes?
Is America effectively dragging other key members of the Security Council to
their 'stakes' through the I-Rack process?
Much is made of the logic and logistical superiority that is being
applied by Pentagon planners to the attack on Iraq. It is presented as a textbook
application of military superiority. It is interesting threfore to note the
comments by Thomas Waelde (An Iraqi Scenario: impact of fundamental regime
change in Iraq on acquired and new contractual titles in the Iraqi oil industry,
Oil-Gas-Energy-Law Intelligence Service, 1, 1, 4 November 2002):
The US, in sustaining during the Reagan years (with partly the same, now
20 years older players) both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and his Saudi
warriors, did not expect that its then tools would turn into major enemies.
The US government and its agencies thought they would create mindless tools
-- but what emerged were Golems and Frankensteins. So a slight modesty and
scepticism over the ability of policy intentions to fulfil themselves is appropriate.
New Golems and Frankensteins may indeed emerge, as a result of
the I-Rack process, to haunt American culture. There is indeed a case to be
wary of contemporary stakeholders in the light of what mythopoetic fiction is
so helpfully exploring (see The
"Dark Riders" of Social Change, 2002).
Unconscious dimensions: David Wasdell, in his role as Director
of the Meridian Programme (formerly
the "Manhattan Project of the Behavioural Sciences") stressed the importance
of recognizing the unconscious dimension at this time, starting:
1. That factors which are non-rational and largely unconscious play a major
part in the dynamics of international relationships and decision-making. It
is critical that this level of understanding of systems behaviour is taken
into consideration by all concerned irrespective of their political, religious,
national or ethnic affiliation.
2. That in the post September 11 context, large sectors of the international
community are acting out classical symptoms of post-traumatic shock syndrome.
The intensity of emotion involved reinforces fixation in the moment of shock
and the tendency to re-stage the event in repeated cycles of displacement.
In conrast to the realpolitik rationale for the attack on Iraq to control
oil resources, Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate in economics in 2001) has recently
stressed the importance of the 'irrational' in economics:
This year's Nobel Prize celebrates a critique of simplistic market economics,
just as last year's award (of which I was one of the three winners) did. Last
year's laureates emphasised that different market participants have different
(and imperfect) information, and these asymmetries in information have a profound
impact on how an economy functions. [more]
As the minimally-reported experiences of American 'clean-up' forces
in Afghanistan have indicated, simplistic approaches sustain dangerous delusions
like those of Don Quixote. It is to be expected that 'irrationality'
will have a major part to play in America's experience of the I-Rack.
It would be good to believe that the focus on 'I-Rack' will catalyze,
as a secondary effect, efforts by the best and the brightest to 'rack their
brains' for more appropriate ways of encountering terrorism and the more
complex problems of the world [more].
This phrase is interesting in that it also suggests the need for a more appropriately
ordered configuration of brains -- a 'rack of brains'! [more]
From a quite different perspective, for any individual to attach undue importance
to 'terrorism' and America's Iraq crusade, may also pose some of the
questions explored in Don Quixote. To what extent is the above commentary
then itself an exercise in 'tilting at windmills'? At the same time,
through being voluntarily engaged in that reality through the media, to what
extent does it mirror our own personal condition [more]?
Am I both stretched upon my own personal I-Rack and obliged to 'rack my
brains' (and more) to make a larger sense of the learnings to be gained
from the process -- whilst many are being killed, supposedly for my benefit?
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