2005-03-04

 

News from the post-reality World

Every day gets a little bit weirder. I used to think post-modernism was something my left-wing "Theory" friends engaged in... I was ill prepared for a post-modern, right-wing U.S. government. Just like postmodern architecture was a nice idea that lead to some dreadful copycat buildings, this new breed of conservatives may have taken its cues from literary left-wingers (as Vidal has suggested) who could not have anticipated how their ideas would evolve.

I still think of myself as a right-wing person, in some old-fashioned libertarian way. That's why I was at first puzzled to realize that I have disliked this neocon troupe from the start. Indeed I remember infuriating my conservative friends by calling neocons crooks, well before the war.

Now I finally realize that I am just so helplessly XX century! My fact-based lifestyle is apparently in danger of becoming a relic of enlightenment in a World-past. Reality is now circumscribed to a stubborn community -- presumably to be eventually eliminated or absorbed, like pagans in an early-Christian Rome? Fact-based reality is to be retired, and an enactment-based reality is to be established. This is not a loony-left, Orwell-inspired rant, it's the stated neocon plan:

Ron Suskind reported an October 2004 interview with an administration's aide who "said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

And so, as Eric Boehlert writes in Salon.com, the goal apparently is "to undermine the press itself -- and thereby eliminate inconvenient truths?"

I suppose I should be scared about this, but I am not. It simply won't work. Reality has a way of catching up to you. As Aldous Huxley said, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Christian Rome was no more able to erase pagan habits than Marxist governments were successful at re-engineering human beings... More often than not, tragedy results from ignoring reality. Calling his ranch Neverland and molding his own body didn't turn Michael Jackson into Peter Pan -- though it may have messed with many people's lives.

The neocons may be quite successful at eliminating the transmission of facts via the press, but what all postmodern thinkers fail to realize is that reality doesn't bite via the word, it bites when physical barriers are reached. No amount of acting accomplishes real missions -- and there may be just too many of those in the cards.

When I recall the famous mission accomplished boat show, somehow I always think of Karl Rove, behind the scenes, singing Leonard Cohen's "First we Take Manhattan". But I suspect he and his buddies will end up having a lot of people knocking on their dressing rooms singing Queen's "another one bites the dust" instead. Let's just hope theirs is not our collective tragedy.





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