Keeping the Rabble in Line

Banging on about representation: The would be media lens

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nowhere Fast*

Paxo Stuffing

Just watched an edition of Newsnight where the "attack dog" Paxman was questioning Cindy Sheehan with -- as well as other questions, this little gem: "We are where we are, what are you proposing that the US and its allies do?" Firstly, this follows the standard practice of the liberal political class...assuming that the responsibility for alternative forms of action lies with those objecting to an illegal war of aggression and brutal occupation. Would be incredible, were it not so serious and complicit in the perpetuation of said illegal occupation. What an incredible point at which to begin. Asking for alternatives here and now, is not an argument, it's not a position. Having just caught a burglar in your house, would you then expect this burglar to petulantly propose you come up with solutions to his cashflow problem. I realise this is not a precise analogy, it is obviously flawed, but discussing alternatives to an illegal action based on "well we are where we are" is ridiculous. A lack of alternatives to an illegal action do not legitimise that action. So Paxo, "we are where we are" indeed. However, there were and are a whole host of alternatives that do not necessarily include the theft of an energy resource, a potential imperialistic adventure, the killing of innocent civilians: "how many you say? Who knows, we don't count them" [thankfully, some people do] the shoring up of geo-political positioning et al...under the laughable guise of "bringing peace and democracy to Iraq". I'll say it again, the onus is not on those that object to the war to provide really is not. Warmongerers! You must do better than this! -- although, tragically, as this post and others seek to prove, it seems they actually don't have to dobetter than this.

Finally, to return to a favourite theme of mine. The "what would you do" question is a classic tactic designed to put "us" on the back foot. This claim of the moral high ground, on the grounds that "well at least we're doing something, you're proposing nothing" needs to be questioned, deconstructed, and exposed for the lie that it is. That question, so often fired off by Paxo, Blair, Bush, Straw, Cheney, Rumsfield, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity etc etc makes the assumption of the aforementioned misguided but fundamentally benign nature of "our" intervention. Those of us that object to this war and subsequent occupation need [somehow??] to make our voices heard. The question needs to be reframed. We're being trapped in the discourse and it's shrinking fast. If, in the end, some of these people finally admit "look, OK, it was partly motivated by **oil, but you know, it's a finite resource and we need it in order to sustain our selfish way of life"...then at least we can exchange views with a degree of honestly, no matter how much we might disagree. If the gound on which we meet is constructed on deception, then we can never go anywhere.

P.S. There are many alternatives that I [and many others are happy to discuss] it was just not the focus of this post. Maybe more on alternatives later.

*Nowhere Fast: The Smiths
**Oil: of course this is just one of the many potential reasons for war in Iraq. This has already been successfully written off as a "conspiracy theory" by the elite, but one can certainly make a compelling case for this argument.


  • At 5:04 PM, Blogger Rob said…

    Very much enjoyed this post. Three things to say:

    1. Footnoting lyrics is far too democratic. It completely destroys your ability to look down your nose at people who don't-get-the-reference. Do you really have so little love for snobbery?

    2.On "exchanging views with a degree of honesty": yes, I fully agree. This said, from an exploding-head-syndrome standpoint: when you actually have a conversation (as I have) with somebody who does say, explicitly, that killing thousands of people really is worth it for oil, you begin to remember that, sometimes, desires are really better off sublimated...

    3. Re: "This has already been successfully written off as a "conspiracy theory" by the elite": yes, but not just by the elite, (and then not just through hegemony,) I think.

  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Patrick Duffy said…

    Here's me with my head firmly in the sand and my intellect dwindling with every beer but I kinda like the Paxo. He looks like an angry tortoise whose shell has gone missing (perhaps that's why he's angry).

    Are you not just angry at his style? Were he interviewing a pro war bod would he not attack them with equal vitriol about what they were going to do? I'm asking genuinely I don't know!!! I am kinda slow.

    Perhaps it's best that people reading this blog stay away from mine...I know my place in this brainathon and it's cleaning up after the clever people!!!!!

  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Patrick Duffy said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger Chris R said…

    "Are you not just angry at his style? Were he interviewing a pro war bod would he not attack them with equal vitriol about what they were going to do? I'm asking genuinely I don't know!!! I am kinda slow."

    You're far from slow PD Steve [I like that as a name] The point about Paxo and his ilk is...i think? That he [and John Humphreys for instance] would attack a "pro war bod" with a similar amount of vitriol but the point of departure would be the same i:e "we are where we are". This means that the frame[s] of reference are always already set; namely that western intervention was/is/always will be "a good thing" or at least fundamentally benign and well meaning. I think it is quite easy to make the opposite case - war in Iraq was not motivated by noble, peaceful, democratic intentions - but this is covertly absent from mainstream debate [or discourse]. If one IS anti war, one still must operate on this discursive terrain i:e "sort it out from here" "make your case from this [false] position" it is this setting of the discourse to which I am objecting. Not sure if that's clear or not, but that's my point...


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