C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Stoopidity

Intellect is often at issue when discussing the exploits of this guy:












Particularly in relation to the vexed question of Iraq:














This shouldn't be surprising, when we remember that this guy has given us such gems of oratory as:





'I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president'.















And:




'I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things'.


Among others.















Clearly, the guy isn't 'very analytical'. Beyond the apparent imbecility, it is often further presumed, both popularly, and among the more 'critical' sections of the media, that this guy is actually at the mercy of these guys:













The problem is, however, that this is precisely the message from the media that allows voters to identify with this guy - after all, most of us are a little incompetent at times, most of us are at times the victims of malevolent (and in Bush's case, moustachioed) forces. Being able to identify with a candidate is important when your elections are as much about 'personality' as they are about policy. And, as any psychoanalyst will tell you, identification can be a very powerful thing, irrespective of whether you are an average family person:








Or a core part of the right-wing constituency:









When we, who presume ourselves to be among the non-stoopids, characterise the likes of Bush as imbecilic, we tend to forget that, if we live in Australia or the US, we are part of an aggressively anti-intellectual, consumerist culture:






In short, we forget that stupidity, marketed well, can win votes. Bush has gone out of his way to promote himself as a 'down home', bumbling kinda guy. The non-stupids have, unwittingly and indirectly, made (the stupid) Bush more palatable, by facilitating identification with him.

The tragedy of this is two-fold; firstly, it means that scheming money-grubbers continually win elections (in the US and Australia).

Secondly, it means that discussion about things like the war in Iraq, far from being construed as ethical, is simply reduced to a debate over tactics (the latter being the practical manifestation of 'intellect'). Tactical 'debate' has been characteristic of popular discourse on Iraq for the past few years, whilst the media conveniently forgets that disarmament was the purported goal of the war. A debate that should have occurred on whether it is permissible to 'pre-emptively strike' (i.e. kill) was relegated to the sidelines, in favour of a debate on how the striking might cimply be made more efficient. When almost all of the disastrous consequences of the invasion were entirely predictable, it is only the most disingenuous of observers who can blithely attribute Iraq's 'problems' to 'resourcing' issues, or tactical blunders.

It goes without saying that, when protesters march in their thousands against Bush, from Beirut to Buenos Aires, it is not precisely in opposition to foolish tactics. Bush's stupidity has been one of his greatest strengths, and it has been one of the Western media's greatest achievements to (almost) completely transform Iraq's catastrophes into mere errors of judgement on the part of the West. This should (but inevitably won't) give food for thought to those lining up warships in the Persian Gulf, about whether the Western world wants to open another door it has no ability (or intention?) to shut.