I thought this was worthwhile for its clear-headed thinking about the way that policy and opinion in the US is formed. The author essentially deconstructs the operative principles of the American “group-mind.”
I guess if you want to understand the US, it helps to be a Canadian!
Understanding the U.S. War State
by John McMurtry
Monthly Review, March 2003
“It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being
attacked, and denounce the the peacemakers for lack of patriotism
and exposing the country to danger.” — Hermann Goering
Genocide used to be a crime without a name. Although the most
heinous of all crimes, the concept was not introduced into
international language until after World War II. Until then, military
invasion and destruction of other peoples and cultures masqueraded
under such slogans as progress and spreading civilization.
I was shocked many years ago when I heard Noam Chomsky say that
genocide was America’s defining political tradition. Then I realized
that the United States (like Canada to a much lesser extent) was
based on destroying the lives and cultures of the 25 million or so
first peoples who had lived in America for millennia.
In the case of the U.S., the story continued with the forcible
seizure of Texas in 1845 from Mexican farmers and indigenous peoples,
and Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, California and other state
territories shortly afterward in 1849. U.S. troops under the slave-
owning General Zachary Taylor unilaterally invaded its southern
neighbor under the false pretext of avenging American blood, and
General Taylor soon vaulted into the White House as a presidential
war hero. Even though a young Congressman, Abraham Lincoln, exposed
the pretext and connected it to a Anglo-British business strategy to
impose free trade on the regions by financing the prior president,
James Polk, into the White House as General Taylor’s commander.
In 1898, once again under the false pretext of self-defense (when the
U.S.S. Maine sank from an internal explosion), the Philippines, Guam,
Cuba in part, and Puerto Rico were seized from their peoples by
another unilaterally provoked war. This war of aggression and
occupation, like so many U.S. interventions since, was preceded by a
media campaign of whipping up public hysteria and war fever.
Media baron William Randolph Hearst made the famous remark, “You
furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war”–not unlike the U.S.
cable and network media daily drum-beat in recent months for war on
Iraq. War is a major violence entertainment, and in close partnership
with the Pentagon, it can go on for months to divert the masses.
The tradition of misleading the American people by false pretexts for
aggressive wars is an old one in U.S. history; but since the fascist
interregnum, war criminal invasions of other countries have not been
accepted by public opinion. The U.S. under the control of the
corporate war party now seeks to reverse this trend. By dint of the
permitted 9-11 plane attacks on the World Trade Center, an open
presidential blank-check has been granted by Congress for attacking
third-world countries so as to occupy their countries and control
The now-known blueprint of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul
Wolfowitz and others (written in September of 2001 as the “Project
for the New American Century”) is clear on the plan to shape the
international security order in line with American principles and
interests. Armed domination of the Gulf region transcends the issue
of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Oil looms large in this plan to rule the world for American
interests. According to a report sponsored by oil corporations from
the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies, oil is
no longer a commodity to be bought and sold within the confines of
the traditional supply and demand balances, but a determinant of
national security and international power. The U.S. state military
invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in under two years are expressions
of this new supra-market policy.
Before we pass over the pattern of facts at work as merely
“realpolitik,”, we should note that this armed-state project
resembles fascism: not only in war criminal attacks on other
countries in violation of international law, but in repudiating
market relations to seize others valuable goods by armed force.
Facing Facts —
As demagogic glorification of genocidal invasion once again escapes
naming by a flood of falsehoods and projections onto the latest U.S.
Enemy, we need to remind ourselves of facts that no mass medium once
discussed from October of 2002 to March of 2003. As we lay bare the
ruling deceptions here, we should keep in mind the unifying principle
which is not seen.
U.S. state justifications always project onto the designated Enemy
what the U.S. security state is doing itself. If it loudly condemns
another weaker states weapons of mass destruction, chemical and
biological weapons, violation of international laws, or attempts to
impose its will on the world by terror, then we can deduce that this
is exactly what the U.S. is planning more of, but is diverting
attention from by accusing others.
Test this underlying principle with every international accusation
the U.S. makes next, and you will find it is invariably confirmed.
The tactic works wonderfully with a lapdog press and political class
who are excited into a kind of collective delirium by choral
denunciations of the foreign demon who is the designated Enemy of the
Day. (I will explain why in my analysis ahead of the ruling group-
mind.) So exactly does the U.S. security state project its own
violent policies onto others, that one can tell what vicious policy
it is about to escalate next by by the intensity with which the Other
is accused of the crime.
This is how we can best understand the endless accusation of the
Soviet Union of a plot to rule the world before 1991; and how we can
best make sense of the official U.S. fixation on global terrorism
today. Both predications disclose the inner logic of the U.S. war
states own pattern of behavior. I sometimes wonder whether this is a
deliberate strategic tactic of diversion, or a structure of paranoid
delusion built into the mind-set of U.S. culture.
Let us in this light examine the principal claims and concealments of
the Bush Jr. administration in its pursuit of Iraq. The Bush
administration has tirelessly claimed to be upholding international
law in its pressuring of the Security Council into action regarding
Iraq’s violation of U.N. resolutions and international law.
In fact, since its entry into office the Bush Jr. administration has
sabotaged laws, covenants and monitoring protocols to protect
individuals and peoples against nuclear weapons, biological weapons,
chemical weapons, land mines, small arms, international ballistic
missiles, torture, racism, discrimination against women, arbitrary
seizure and imprisonment, mistreatment of prisoners, crimes against
humanity and war crimes, military weather distortions, biodiversity
loss, and international climate destabilization.
Its latest overriding of international law and due process has been
the forcible usurpation of the Security Council inspections of Iraq.
No rogue state in modern history has remotely matched this continuous
and systematic violation of international law and procedures to
implement international law.
The Bush administration’s preparation and threat of military invasion
against a country thousands of miles from its borders is unequivo-
cally a war crime under international law, including Principles 1,
2 and 6(a)1of the Nuremberg Charter and Article 54 of the Geneva
Convention. The fact that this war crime of preparing for and
planning an invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led armed forces [whatever the
UN decides] has never been openly discussed has promoted the very
aggression which the U.N. is constituted to prevent.
It is not as if there were any doubt about the Bush administration’s
clear intention to put itself above the law as it incessantly accused
Iraq of doing so. It declared from the beginning that it would go it
alone with whoever was willing, and yet not a word of this declared
threat to international peace and security issued from any U.N.
ambassador, including Canada’s Bill Graham, that this was a lawless
intention and plan.
The effect on Iraqi citizens of the long-planned U.S. war of
aggression against Iraq is said to be “their liberation.” The
targeted victims since the first war on Iraq have, however, been
most of all infants and children.
The Bush administration’s planned Operation Shock and Awe is a
self-imagery of Godlike power which is more blind in hubris than in
1991 when the U.S. military assault caused mass infectious disease,
child dysentery and birth mutilation by deliberate bombing of
civilian electricity sources, sewage and water treatment facilities
and by the deployment of nuclear waste in shells and weapons. Over
500,000 children in Iraq have already died as a consequence of the
last war according to UNICEF–a figure predicted in 1991 by the
New England Journal of Medicine, and substantiated in 1999 by the
leading British medical research, Lancet.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — about which the Bush regime has
most pervasively trumpeted its concern — were sold to Saddam at
great profit by the U.S., Britain and other Security Council members.
This is why Bush officials took the original Iraq report to the U.N.
from the Council chair (then their military client state, Colombia),
and deleted all the pages documenting these military sales before
distributing the text to non-permanent members.
Secretary Rumsfeld, meanwhile, has refused to work with the relevant
Senate committees to expose and ensure against continued military
sales to Iraq or its middlemen by U.S. armament manufacturers.
U.S. demands for Iraq’s compliance with U.N. resolutions are not and
have not been its true concern, since far more U.N. resolutions over
far more years have been ignored by the U.S. military partner,
Israel. Thus continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity by
Israeli administrations are still perpetrated with impunity in the
illegally occupied territories of Palestine — for example, by land
and property seizures and continuous enlargement of the illegal
occupation, collective punishments of the population, increasing
assassinations, and destruction of civilian infrastructure and
Twelve to eighteen UN resolutions prior to the inspections were said
to have been violated by Iraq during its years of living with
militarily enforced destruction of its society. Israel before, and
since, has violated 64 UN resolutions with impunity. No double
standard of international law has been so long-term, blatant and
systematic, except by the U.S. itself.
The regime change all along demanded by the Bush administration
cannot benefit the Iraqi people as promised because the projected
U.S. military occupation has not been about getting rid of Saddam
(who the U.S. armed and supported into power), but has ever more
directly been the forced takeover of Iraq’s publicly owned and
controlled oil reserves. These reserves since the 1950’s have
(despite Saddam’s U.S.-supported coup d’etat) financed the most
advanced social infrastructure in the Arab world, free education, and
universal health care.
During the demonization of Iraq over the last 6 months, its public
oil revenues have enabled a government program of guaranteed food for
all citizens by a publicly run distribution system which the U.N.
World Food Program described as the most efficient in the world. With
oil, as with all else, the greatest enemy to this empire is the civil
commons of publicly owned resources which obstructs corporate market
control. That the Iraqi government has, moreover, put a run on the
U.S. dollar by converting its oil revenues into Euros instead of
dollars is another unspeakable fact which is blocked out of all
corporate media reports.
Watching the War Crime Unfold —
The ultimate target of the U.S. war party has long been the greatest
and most accessible high-quality oil reserves on the planet. The
Bush oil party has long coveted it, and U.S. military invasion has
been the favored blitzkrieg method for getting it over years of
planning — with no response by the Security Council. But world
public opinion has not covered its eyes like governments and the
corporate media. Turkey’s people were 96% against invasion of Iraq as
its government considered large bribes, and Spain’s people were over
90% opposed as its Falangist prime minister joined Tony the War
Poodle in barking for the invasion. Over 30 million citizens from
across the world demonstrated against a U.S.-led invasion in one
weekend, an historically unprecedented event.
The U.S. president’s response to all this has been revealing. He has
told the world throughout that the U.N. itself is on trial, with him
as God’s judge. The Security Council has been told for months that it
either agrees to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, or it is irrelevant. If
it fails, the Bush administration will take the law into its own
hands and invade distant and weak Iraq as America’s sovereign right.
Try to remember when you heard this kind of demagoguery and defiance
of international law before. The difference has been most clearly in
the use of the U.N.
Pervasive aerial and ground inspections of Iraq’s territory, soften-
up bombings of defenses in the North and South, and successful
commands to destroy short-range missiles which together had largely
stripped Iraq’s meager defenses by mid-March. During this process,
U.S. and allied demands merely escalated from immediate abolition of
weapons of mass destruction to-without any media noticing — demands
for total disarmament. Best to have a helpless victim.
Has history ever witnessed such a corruptly one-sided scheme to
destroy and loot a defenseless country?
The Ruling Group-Mind–
As I watched the Security Council Meeting on March 19, after military
inspections of Iraq were forcibly terminated by the Bush Jr.
administration’s decision to take the law into its own hands, I was
struck by the intimidation of the Council members. They were in
thrall to a ceremony of avoidance. The hard fact that the U.S.
administration had just stopped the U.N.’s due process by its
decision for lawless armed attack of Iraq was blocked out of view as
if it had not been decided.
That this massive armed military invasion was a grave violation of
international law, the supreme international crime under the
Nuremberg Charter, was never mentioned. The ritual of sacrifice
prevailed instead as if in collective submission to the implacable
ordinance of Fate.
Formal pieties and aversion of the facts ruled. The Secretary-General
was congratulated for removing the inspection teams on the
instruction of the U.S. administration so that they would not be
harmed by its illegal invasion. The inspectors were again and again
praised for inspecting Iraq’s military possessions before the full-
scale illegal invasion forcibly prevented the completion of their
work. Much angst was displayed for the humanitarian catastrophe
about to unfold, with none mentioning that the lawless usurpation of
U.N. process by the blitzkrieg invasion of a suffering poor country
would cause the mass terror.
The long genocide was diplomatically sanitized by abstractions. In
the case of the U.S., Britain and Spain, Saddam Hussein was held
solely responsible. Repeated ritual mantras of concern for
international peace and security, alleged Iraq government violations
not substantiated by the inspectors, official regrets, collective
self- blaming, and much talk of rebuilding the society about to be
destroyed were limned in a sleepwalk of official euphemisms. The
theme that bound them all was the silence on the U.S. planned war-
criminal attack in violation of the will and the legal process of the
U.N. Security Council itself.
Kofi Annan almost spoke out when he advised that a belligerent
country is responsible under law for the costs of occupation. But
the U.N. and Canada were soon ready to pay for picking up the pieces
of another mass destruction of a poor society by U.S.-led forces.
I remembered all the history and accounts I had read of the Third
Reich and the cowardice of official appeasement that enabled every
step. The appeasement now was on the level of the mind itself. No one
dared to say what was happening. Threats and bribes by the U.S. had
for months saturated the proceedings of the Councils judgment, but
there were to their great credit, few takers of the blood money.
The Security Council had repudiated the U.S.-led war by an
overwhelming rejection of any motion for it. For the U.S. now to
still lead an invasion was self-evidently against the Security
Councils will and decision, and thus wholly illegal. Yet there was a
strange refusal to name the crime, the supreme international crime of
a war of aggression against another state. One listened in vain for
one explicit reference to the violation of the U.N. Charter, of the
Nuremberg Charter, of international criminal law, of the Secretary-
Generals own previous statement that a U.S. attack without Security
Council support would be illegal, and of the usurpation of the will
and process of the U.N. Security Council itself.
On the contrary, Iraq was being held accountable to obey the
Council’s every demand to strip its meager defenses as huge U.S. and
British armed forces formed on its borders. Ever louder U.S. threats
of armed invasion outside the law and against Security Council vote
was left to proceed as if it was a natural event. Everywhere in the
media, the inevitable war was bowed before as an ordinance of
destiny. It was only now a question of viewers watching U.S. forces
destroy a society at will and with impunity, an ideal mass market
site for the entertainment of lawless power.
No-one thought to notice from within the Security Council Chamber and
official global culture that every step of the mass terror against an
essentially defenseless people was planned, chosen and executed in
defiance of all international law by a sitting member state.
The monstrous construction had no author. Responsibility fell only on
the victim. The U.S. became another onlooker at the inevitable war.
Once it invaded, it became magnanimous in assigning the costs to
others to pay for its mass destruction. It was now ready to co-
operate with its international partners in the rebuilding of the
country that it destroyed. No-one inside official society outside
thought to hold the U.S. accountable for what it did.
“There is no alternative” took another meaning. Now the no-
alternative world the U.S. rules means criminal war invasion IS an
act of God.
The New Fundamentalism: America is God —
As you observe the criminal war invasion of Iraq, the round-the-clock
commentary and pictures, and the aftermath, watch for a silent
general fact. There will no end of detailed discussion of the
military operations of attack and occupation of a country rendered
defenseless by Security Council demands, with much admiration and
vicarious self-congratulation at the new weapons and strategic moves
of the American Superpower.
There will be no end of experts and commentators communicating
adoringly to audiences about the high-tech assault instruments which
are being tested on a third-world people to see how they work. It’s
a little like a high-school science experiment, advised the Pentagon
Joint Chief of Staff to the militarily embedded CNN medium of public
The fact at the center of the whole conflict and long in dispute
will, however, soon be put down the memory hole with no one Noticing.
No one in the media or government will point out that the biological
and chemical weapons that Iraq was declared to be hiding are not used
and did not in fact exist. No one will think to notice that this, the
main justification of the war–weapons of mass destruction in the
hands of Saddam–was from start to finish a vast and criminal big
No one will wonder at their own cowardly complicity in the long train
of destructive deceit and war crime even as the invading armies sweep
across the country and 3000 sorties of bombs fall with no hint of a
chemical or biological weapon or nuclear device. Least of all will
servelings of the ruling group-mind connect back to the Third Reich’s
prototype of aggressive war.
It is the Formula. Blame terrorists as the cause of the country’s
police state measures. Accuse every country attacked of being an
imminent threat to it, to justify the invasion. Denounce all
resistance as unpatriotic. Attack and occupy the weak country with
total weaponry. The formula repeats as long as it is not called out.
The group-mind cannot compute what does not fit its fixed
presuppositions. So predictable outcomes follow as if prescribed by
the laws of nature. The inevitable war occurs like ‘El Nino’. Only
the terrible infliction of damages are thought worth perceiving or
talking about. The moral debate is silenced, left to the world’s
peoples in the streets, where only passing painted signs can speak.
The co-ordinates of international law and the rogue war party in
control of the White House are blocked of every discussion as if they
did not exist. There will, in particular, be no discussion of this
administration’s illegal presidency, its ever more ruinous failure to
govern effectively at any level of the U.S. economy, the
environmental meltdown which it leads or the unprecedentedly
pervasive corruption of its lead corporate gang–from all of which
the latest orchestrated war is the ongoing system of violent
The “distract and attack” rhythm of one war after another will, if it
is not seen through, continue to succeed with the Formula until the
world is subjugated across its civilizations. As long as the self-
evident can be denied, there is nothing to stop it. Discharges of
condemnation of Saddam Hussein can occupy the mind instead, until the
next Enemy is wheeled into the war theater to extend the U.S. war
In Canada, the CBC and its retinue of U.S. explainers and apologists
will report the world to us so we cannot see the meaning of what is
happening. The local academy will occasionally provide the choral
affirmation on cue. Thus, Janice Stein of the University of Toronto’s
Munk Center will reassure us on CBC News coverage on March 20, the
day that the U.S. crime against peace began, that, “We are targeting
Iraq’s leadership and not its civilians.”
All are one in America’s view of the world as itself. What cannot be
discussed is the U.S. war crime itself, even to deny it. It is
unspeakable so long as the ruling group-mind remains the invisible
prison of our collective life. The moral syntax of the American group-
mind is the inner logic of the problem. In this era, the group-mind
is American. All its principles are presupposed as the way that God
is presupposed by the religious fundamentalist–an all-powerful, all-
knowing and jealous ruler of the world, which none may doubt without
social opprobrium and attack.
U.S. witch-hunts of those who oppose the religion of America is the
creed’s fanatical mode. But the creed is not confined to expression
within America’s church of self-adoration. It is on a crusade across
the world’s continents, with ruinous destabilization or armed attack
of those who do not submit to its will for “freedom.”
The God of America is primitive. It worships itself. But there are a
set of silently regulating principles at work through all the
phenomena of its rule which together constitute the ruling group-mind
which has imprisoned global culture within its premises since 9-11.
Presupposition 1 of this ruling group-mind is that the U.S. national
security state is America. This assertion is never directly stated
because that would reveal the absurdity of the equation. But the
assumption nevertheless underlies every statement that has proceeded
from U.S. government offices since 9-11.
This preconscious equation explains, for example, why even the U.S.
government’s official opposition, the Democratic Party, has abdicated
from political responsibility in its fear of appearing to oppose
unjustified wars against essentially defenseless third-world
societies in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are incarcerated within the
ruling structure of mind, more paralyzed even than 1930’s Germans in
their dread of being named as unpatriotic. This is a fear that can
only be explained by the equation of the state military command and
its apparatus with America. Beneath the surface phenomena of party
politics rules the instituted group-mind in terms of which perception
itself is constructed. [Besides, nobody gets into the Shadow Govt.
Enclave if they piss off the Executive in the Oval Office.]
Thus, the equation of America to its armed state apparatus is never
publicly challenged in the official culture of the West because the
equation is assumed a priori across the official leaderships of
American allies. No-one who houses the false equation can tell them
apart. They cannot see the demonstrable falsehoods of the war state,
the overthrow of the Republic’s democratic traditions, and least of
all the safety of millions of innocent civilians in other countries.
Here is Why: because they assume America and its national security
apparatus are one and the same. Since they love America, and America
is it, they cannot distinguish their beloved country from the
criminal gang institutions of the National Security Council, the
Pentagon and the CIA. As these rogue secret societies rule across the
world by the force of armed terror, mass disinformation, secret narco-
links, political bribery, and coercion at every level, lovers of
America are obliged to defend this criminal global domination as
This absurd equation obliges them to be, in short, blind dupes. It
then further misleads them into supposing that anyone who opposes a
gangster state rule of the world is anti-American. One absurdity
builds onto another. The disorder ends as a paranoid mass cult
characterized as patriotism — just as in the 1930’s — within the
world’s most powerful industrial state. It is in this false equation
at the baseline of the group-mind that we find the kernel of the
worlds problem–America’s self-definition as absolutist armed force,
unbound by fact or international law.
Presupposition 2 is that America is the ultimate source and moving
line of the world’s freedom and goodness, God’s material embodiment
on earth. This assumption too is presupposed as true by definition,
the prime article of faith of a fanatic religion. Full-spectrum
dominance and pre-emptive attack of threats [even before they occur]
are not merely clinically paranoid delusions of power and
persecution; they follow from the underlying and increasingly
absolute assumption that America is God, the source of all Freedom
and Goodness on the planet.
The expressions of this deranged presupposition are evident in every
speech of the former alcohol and cocaine addict occupying the White
House, and there is no evident opposition from the parishioners of
U.S. official culture. Any indirect questioning or challenge of this
first moral premise of the group-mind is attacked as a betrayal of
the country and what it holds dear.
American freedom comes to mean then, only what establishes and
maximizes the absolute right of the U.S. to command the world–
specifically, to command as inevitable that all societies adopt an
American-style market, American values and culture, and American
military dominance in all areas of the globe as its vital interests.
How do we test the rule of this fanatic basis of thought? It is
expressed in Bush Doctrine policy documents throughout. But we can
more easily discover its ruling principle at work by asking whether
there is any limit placed anywhere on what the U.S. and vassal
corporate states have the right to demand of other peoples and
societies–including unconditional support of full-scale war against
destitute societies over ten thousand miles from American borders.
“Anything goes” is the way of attack-dog journalism; but one hint of
question of this ruling assumption that America is the moving line of
the world’s freedom is that a free press is seen as heresy. The
assumption is thus internalized prior to censorship. Self-censorship
is this regime’s center of gravity, and holds the group-mind in its
prison. Those who oppose it “hate freedom.” Loyalty to this ultimate
premise of social and political thought is what regulates the mind at
a preconscious level prior to statement. It is the identity structure
of the mob-mind across the world. [It is a mindset “possessed by
Principle 3 follows as a logical consequent from Principle 2–America
is always and necessarily right in all conflicts with other nations
or peoples or social forces; and they are simply wrong.
This is not a truth which facts can disprove, because it is true by
definition in the ruling group-mind.
Disproving facts are irrelevant or of no consequence, even if by some
chance they make it through the gates of the corporate media. This
third regulating assumption explains why even the hardest facts soon
disappear from sight if they throw doubt on Americas infallible moral
superiority in cases of international conflict–for example, the
conviction of the U.S. by the International Court for war criminal
actions against Nicaragua, and the $13.2 billion damages which were
Beneath the selection and exclusion of facts and perspectives which
regulate editorial offices and policies, this third principle of the
ruling group-mind too regulates perception and conversation beneath
direct control. Before an exposing word is spoken, it is ruled out
It is an inter-subjective operation, like the thought-field of
playing a game. Any fact or argument which calls into question
America’s moral superiority to any adversary is known to be “hostile
to freedom and the good” in advance of its consideration. [That
thought is immediately discarded, lest it “mess up the operation.”]
Principles 4 and 5 follow suit as ultimate moral imperatives for all
Americans and their allies.
Any people or nation or social force which does not side with or
opposes the U.S. government is evil (Principle 4) and so must, as an
Enemy of world freedom and justice, be attacked by all means
available [including pre-emptive armed force] before the Enemy
presents a “real” threat (Principle 5).
Principles 4 and 5 have sharpened into patriotic absolutes with the
Bush Jr. regime. Not even fabricated evidence like the manufactured
Gulf of Tonkin attack off Vietnam, or the fictional electricity cut-
off of infant incubators in Iraq in 1991 are thought any longer
essential necessary, to justify a military attack on another people’s
territory and society.
As George Bush Jr. said to a West Point audience this year: “If we
wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long.”
There is, therefore, no need for the threat to be real. Threats only
need to be declared. That is is why the attack on Iraq by U.S. and
British armed forces did not require anyone else to confirm that
there was in fact a threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction
being used by terrorists against America. The evil is known, as with
witchcraft, by the accusation itself. Once accused, the Enemy becomes
such by definition, because materialization by fact is too late.
Those who question the designation are sided with the Enemy. You are
with us, or for the terrorists. Bush’s rage against French opposition
to the war of aggression against Iraq thus follows necessarily. The
logic of the ruling group-mind prescribes reality prior to the
phenomenon of “actually happening.”
A self-evident baseline of entitlement is thus instituted for the
rest of the world which is not spoken. America can go to war against
accused enemies as it chooses on the basis of the self-propelling
operations of its ruling group-mind alone. All one has to do is
trigger the known stimuli which activate its value-set and its
attendant emotions of rage.
Since 9-11-01, majority opinion support for America’s New War in any
form follows from this lockstep of the group-mind. It is predictable
so long as it remains unexposed to view. There is no outer perimeter
to the certitude of this program to those who bear it. Whoever is
targeted next can be pursued with the righteous fury of a Salem witch-
hunt, with the mob-mind structured to bay for blood.
Any criticism is suspect and accused, to keep the threat of evil at
bay. Few dare to stand against such a closed program. It is the basis
of all acceptable self-definition. George Bush Jr. himself
exemplifies the group-mind as its creature and primary expression.
That is the secret of his popularity. He expresses the ruling syntax
of the unstated American religion. It is triumphally true and right a
priori. It is “what we are.” God has given America our freedom, and
so it can do no wrong.
The fearful are silent lest they appear to be taking sides against
their country. The group-mind in this way is internalized as the
first requirement of normality. Its hold is everywhere it is not seen
through. That is why most of the Globe or Post’s columnists house it
too, as their own.
Principle 6 of the American group-mind completes the closed circle.
The President of the United States (or those under his command)
cannot commit a crime abroad–whatever crime they in fact commit.
Thus, the U.S. refuses to be bound by the rule of law outside of its
borders. It blocks at every turn the application of international law
to its chief executive and line of command. It refuses to recognize
the International Criminal Court, even as the U.S. demands that the
Court try and convict those the U.S. directs to it.
This President of the United States [unlike his predecessor] is
placed “above the law,” and takes the law into his own hands as a
right to rule that is assumed as sacred. The presidential incumbent
may be attacked for domestic misbehaviors. But once he leads America
abroad, he stands for freedom and justice in the world by definition–
even if he achieved office by violation of election law.
In his mind, his war command cannot commit war crimes or crimes
against humanity on the international plane–even if evidence
overwhelmingly convicts his criminal guilt. It thus follows from the
group-mind’s hold that when George W. Bush led the war criminal
attack on Iraq in defiance of international law and Security Council
vote, not one media or official voice in the U.S. recognized it.
Simultaneously, U.S. Senators unanimously blessed the armed forces
sent to enforce the criminal fait accompli. One can predict these
outcomes from the group-mind’s program. It is structured not to see
what is going on, [but to respond as if “everything is normal.”]
As lawless forces rolled over U.N. fences on the border and began the
terror bombing of the capital city, the New York Times decreed
that “everyone hopes for success.” As the illegal attack morphed from
Operation Shock and Awe to Exemplary Destruction to Operation Freedom
Iraq, all of official society gazed in thrall, mute at the trampling
of international law, millions of citizens protesting in the streets,
and the saturation bombing of a poor people’s city with only men
waving rifles to defend them.
No weapons of mass destruction fought back. The ceremony of denial
went on. If the military, corporate and financial axis the President
stands for across the world continue to interfere in elections, train
death squads to kill democrats, melt down entire economies by
coercive prescriptions, and bomb civilian infrastructures to ruin,
the [visible] connected causal structure is blocked out by the ruling
group-mind, as non-existent.
Title to bribery and threats of UN Security Council members to coerce
their vote for war is presupposed as a given right–not to be
questioned even by the UN itself. In this way, the world’s sole
Superpower regulates beneath consciousness much as medieval belief in
the divine right of Kings once ruled. Only now, the group-mind is set
to rule as God–across the globe.
“Ground zero” abolishes the mind that can think beyond it.–
Since opposition to the U.S. gangster state is opposition to the Free
World [in its mind], any act of aggression or potential aggression
must be preempted. If we project this threat to international peace
and security onto any designated Evil Other standing in the way of
liberty, no limit can be placed on the enormity of the preemptive
attack and ransack that is thus justified.
This cruel game goes on as long as the public does not see through
it. It may target Canada’s water “for the gift of America’s freedom”
[if we do not see through the game, in time.]
Opting Out of the Group-Mind —
At the first level, release from the ruling group-mind is by the
shared recognition of its assumptions which only hold the mind so far
as they are not perceived. The ruling group-mind goes deeper than
economics itself because the economy itself is regulated by it.
Conversely, the economy requires collaboration of “others” with it,
to convert any priced commodity into the profit of sale. This may
seem too academic unless we recognize, the U.S. corporate economy
cannot reproduce itself if people choose in ever larger numbers not
to pay one cent for any U.S. product or service until its war state
That may seem too small a movement in our circumstances, until one
realizes the transformation of daily life such an undertaking
entails. Every choice and moment of daily life is restructured by
this regulating purpose. Transcending the ruling group-mind to which
we have become enslaved begins with refusing to expose oneself any
further, to its conditioning–no more American television or media
except to expose their lies; no more American junk food or drink
inside any free home, and no more fast fat-food and beverages outside
No more American autos. No more American appliances. No more American
or vassal-British gas. No more violence entertainment, and no more
American drugs. No American financial services or stocks at any
level. No more U.S. dollars or travel until the regime change comes.
These choice paths of life add up. You cannot go down them all
without transfiguring mind as well as body, and all the economic
relations you enter into. All are revified by the transformation.
Local life economies are reinvested in. Addictions are dropped.
Poisons are blocked. Dumb-down is reversed at every level. It is
unlikely that you can do it all without the joining with others in
the task of designing a life economy, stitch one step at a time.
Nothing could have enabled such a choice across borders except what
has now happened–a war-state aggression with no pretext, a gangster-
state defiance of world public opinion which seeks genocide of its
victim, an undeniable and monstrous crime of mass destruction in a
world where all can see the murderous tyranny in plain sight.
Boycott is not new, but what is new is the transformative focus–the
repudiation at every step of the U.S. war state and all of its
foundations. It has taken the pedagogy of this administration’s
systemic crimes to bring the world to a hard recognition. There is no
health in this ruling system. 90% of the world has rejected its war.
90% of the world can moreover reject the foundations of it in their
Citizens everywhere are at the all-important end of U.S. money
sequences, which must always convert corporate product into cash
before they can profit and go on expanding. If a lot of people from
across the world stop their money votes for all U.S. products and
services (including the U.S. dollar itself), this is a market revolt
which strikes to all the money arteries of the American corporate
empire. It cannot be withstood even at the level of 5%. Yet it is a
revolt which cannot be put down. It multiplies in volumes and
velocities as the group-mind breaks, word spreads and people act
across their lives. As the effects everywhere yield a better life for
everyone who chooses out of the death economy, the new world is built
stitch-by-stitch through the life-economy of everyday choice.
This is the one strike against the American war state that it cannot
sustain. The strike starts with U.S. oil and gas products across the
world. Every ExxonMobil, Texaco Chevron, and BPAmoco brand pump is
boycotted as the war state’s prime sponsors. Every American media
and its Canadian imitators are switched out of. Every fat-and-cancer
food and drugged beverage is refused. This structure of choice does
not just stop the fuel of the war machine and its conditions. It
releases the lives of all those who choose it and their communities
into new life and well-being.
But the life-mind need not stop with consumer behavior. It confronts
the death machine and its propagandists at every step. The lawful
word and act of speech can reverse the meaning of any milieu with its
demand for truth. Every open node of the circulation of ideas inside
the classroom, the workplace, the windows of the home, the bumper of
the car and bike, the church, the street and the store are its sites.
The functionaries and vehicles of the death-economy and its war state
are always ignorant of life facts. Behind the flood of slogans and
invective, their minds are cliches which cannot think through; only
the armor of the group-mind sustains them.
What has been most lacking in public discourse is the courage of life-
intelligence in the face of the onslaught of unchallenged slogans.
But, once the group-mind is exposed, it cannot stand. It reels in
confusion when others do not acquiesce in its rituals of presumption.
For its bearers are ultimately afraid.
I have counted the word fear four times in a single paragraph of a
Blair or Powell speech. It is the currency of all the justification
for aggression. It can only reproduce in the silence of consent. But
now the peoples of the world, as never before, do not acquiesce. This
squalidly vicious empire is unraveling beneath the cannon and
propopaganda in the very ties of legitimacy upon which all society
The preceding essay was delivered at a forum entitled “The Assault on
Iraq and the War Against Democracy: How Should Canadians Respond”
held on Sunday March 23, 2003 in Toronto, Ontario, under the auspices
of Science for Peace:
John McMurtry PhD is Professor of Philosophy at the University of
Guelph and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His latest book
is ‘Value Wars: The Global Market’ versus the Life Economy published
by Pluto Press.