Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Me Nation

I spent the weekend traveling back and forth to Virginia, getting a re-education in the psychology of ordinary fucking people. While getting lunch in Alexandria, a lady with nothing better to do than drink rum and coke alone at noon started sounding off, "The government knows where that plane is! They got those spy satellites!" Because the US government is so very interested in the fate of some plane out of Malaysia. Implicit in her jabber was the assumption that the now infamous airplane is in fact somewhere, as opposed to scattered across the bottom of the sea. You know, the scenario with a 99% probability.

It's the sort of stupid bullshit you hear from functional alcoholics a lot but let's examine the implications. The United States federal government knows all and sees all. Now, if you're worried about terrorists crawling out of your toilet - like the majority of Americans from about 2002 to 2007 - that's actually a comforting thought. Total Information Awareness works! However, that's not the reaction we saw with the PRISM revelations. Because obviously if the government can see everywhere and anywhere, it's going to be focused specifically on you. That's the dominant brainwave of a systemically narcissistic culture.

Further proof can be found here. And if you're averse to clinking blind links, that's one of the stupider articles on Alternet making the case that last year's bombing of the Boston marathon was an inside job. Not with any actual evidence of course, just innuendo and pseudo-skepticism relying on the assumption that of course the Feds would want to blow up an American city. Implicit in the assumption is that only Americans can or even would do such a thing because only Americans are real. Only American interests are real - or rather, the interests of individual Americans. The fact that the Tsarnaev brothers were motivated by revenge for fallen Muslims is dismissed out of hand as too outlandish - because it's not venal and self-serving enough to be understandable to the average American narcissist.

And that's why Americans have been so helpless on the whole Crimea issue. Politico tries to reconcile the two extremes of Putin's character, indulging in the equally prevalent American pathology of only seeing in dichotomies. What only one in a dozen of their own analysts can see is that the two theoretical Putins - the technocrat and the bully - are both entirely consistent with everyday nationalism. Putin is a shrewd tactician and he is grabbing Crimea for the glory of the Russian Empire. And like the Tsarnaevs, Americans just don't get why he would do something that doesn't directly line his pockets. Therefore he's crazy.

For added comedy, as Russian troops were rolling on Ukraine last week, everyone's favorite useful idiot filmed himself in front of the US Constitution's preamble lecturing on the importance of incognito browsing of porn sites. Think it was a propaganda scheme by the FSB? "Before we lay smackdown on Ukraine, we put Comrade Snowden on intertubes to distract yankees."

And Snowden is just dumb enough to think it was his own idea, because he's so grand. Typical American...

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