"Let's call this a hyperwar: a world where the ordinary, natural context of societies is no longer peace, but war."
September 15, 2001 6:23 AM   Subscribe

"Let's call this a hyperwar: a world where the ordinary, natural context of societies is no longer peace, but war." Having seen the photograph of Osama bin Laden on the front page of Salon yesterday, I couldn't help thinking of the Two Minutes' Hate from 1984 (Full text here.) With this essay from Libération, does another piece of the Orwellian jigsaw fit into place?
posted by holgate (22 comments total)
somebody else with the same opinion (3/4 of way down thread 'it's not that logical of an analysis')
another peice of the orwellian jigsaw?

maybe, as the popular rap combo 'public enemy' proclaimed all over their 1987 album 'yo, bum rush the show'

.........the government is responsible.......
posted by asok at 7:02 AM on September 15, 2001

I just got off the phone with an older gentleman, (he was 69 yrs old) who had been in the Korean War. He said that there was a question that hadn't been asked or answered yet and asked me if I knew what that question was. I told him I didn't, and he then went on to tell me this (as best as I can remember): Why are they doing this? Can you imagine what would make these young men kill themselves in order to get to us? And it's not really us, the people, they want to get to, it's our government. Why do they want to get to our government so bad? It's because they have been hurt by our government. There is a small cell of people responsible for doing evil in our own government. This cell of people has gone into their country and done evil. That's why these young men are willing to kill themselves to come here and hurt us. We have the best country in the world, and I love America, but we have to realize that there are those in our government who have done evil things, who are going into other countries and telling those people how to run their lives. They are trying to impose their will on these people in other countries, and they should just leave them alone. They want to profit from these other countries, they want to take everything out of their land, the things they can use and make money on, and they want to be able to do whatever they want to accomplish this, no matter what that country wants, no matter who they hurt there. This is the reason why, and no one seems to be asking this question or paying attention. What you see on the TV is making me sick. They're revving people up with all this patriotism, and talk about war, and it's just a mask, to get people revved up. They aren't going to tell you the truth, or what they're real motivation is. They're hiding under all this talk about bombing, and patriotism. I don't want war, and I don't want to see any of our young men go off to another war and die. We did this before in that other war. And what did all those young men give their lives up for? Why did they die? For what? Remember, war is good business. All these companies are going to profit, and profit big, from a war. I wish the people would wake up and see what is happening, really. I love my country, I love America, but I don't want war.

There was more, but this is as best as I can remember what he said. He said he didn't have internet access, and he asked me what that thing with the candles last night was. When I told him, he told me he wished he had known, because he would really have liked to be a part of that.

I never met this gentleman, he originally called my business line, I was taking phone calls for the tree service I work for today, and we just got to talking.

I told this gentleman, and he was, indeed, a gentleman, that I felt very lucky to have spoken to him. I think that his was the most intelligent comment I have heard on this situation. I only wish I could have given you all what he said, word for word, because he was a real eye-opener.

Maybe we should all be thinking there is another side to this story, as in every story, and our side isn't necessarily right or perfect.

I don't advocate what was done by a long shot, I don't believe in death or destruction. I agree that it has to stop and I also believe those responsible should be brought to justice. But just maybe those responsible are deserving of a little justice themselves.

Like my new friend said this morning, people don't just attack you for nothing, something was done to them. We need to find out what and maybe do something about THAT part of the problem.
posted by valari at 7:08 AM on September 15, 2001

I'm glad I'm not the only one recognizing the newspeak and doublespeak increasingly used every day. Most haven't read 1984 since high school. I reread it last year and then bought a dozen dollar copies @ goodwill and gave them to my friends. Alotta that shit from Brave New World is coming to fruition as well. Scary.

Interesting side note: the spell check recognizes the word doublespeak, but not newspeak.
posted by roboto at 7:08 AM on September 15, 2001

valari: If you think this question hasn't been asked, you haven't been reading MeFi, or any of numerous other weblogs, recently. It is being asked ad nauseum.
posted by mw at 7:16 AM on September 15, 2001

mw is right, valari, that this thought has popped up numerous times on MeFi...but thanks for sharing this very personal story.

Once again, I applaud the increasingly tiny minority of Americans who are brave enough to question the war machine that is now moving into gear; courageous enough to challenge the prevaling atmosphere of bloodthirst; composed enough to to look beyond the immediate and imagine the devastating consequences that will likely result from the fury the US is about to release upon the world.

Keep it up. America needs you. Those in opposition to war need you (especially given the villification many have recently received on MeFi).
posted by mapalm at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2001

I think it's important to remember too, that this sort of Two Minutes Hate has been perpetuated on both sides of the ideological fence. How many of these terrorists that attacked their targets grew up in societies where American flag burning rallies would be held, where their leaders would denounce America as the Great Satan, and effigies of American presidents would be handed over to crowds to be ripped apart?

As well, I agree that US policy and individuals have not been perfect over the years and have put US interests over world interests (perhaps the very definition of 'National Policy') for years. But, the anger they feel toward the US is not 100% about what we've done, it's about who we are. The mere presence of Americans, and especially American troops, in Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Mecca, is reprehensible to many Muslims. Americans, in general compared to Islamic nationals, are materialist, sexual immoral, and violent (or, at the very least, how we're portrayed by Hollywood and the media is). Even without linking support for Israel into all this, many Islamic people feel the mere presence of the US the Middle Eastern countries is repugnant; the presence of swine in the holy place. How then, is it possible to solve the conflict when it's not completely about cycles of revenge, but about our very makeup?
posted by flailer at 7:30 AM on September 15, 2001

I think it's important to remember too, that this sort of Two Minutes Hate has been perpetuated on both sides of the ideological fence.

Oh, certainly: bin Laden's promotional videos almost play on this, showing trainees marching over the US and Israeli flags. But even those sorts of images look as if they're plucked out of Orwell to epitomise the evil of the Eurasian (or Eastasian) armies. It was the Salon picture that made things click: bin Laden is almost too good a personification of the "fundamentalist menace". The beard, the turban, the smirk, the gaze: he'd have had little problem getting cast in Die Hard V. If he didn't exist, we'd have to invent him.

Americans, in general compared to Islamic nationals, are materialist, sexual immoral, and violent (or, at the very least, how we're portrayed by Hollywood and the media is).

And there's the irony, which comes across if you change planes in Dubai, with its BMWs and Mercedes available for duty-free purchase. If anything, bin Laden's particular social class is more American than the Americans in its materialism...
posted by holgate at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2001

valari: because they have been hurt by our government. There is a small cell of people responsible for doing evil in our own government. This cell of people has gone into their country and done evil.

Would you care to elaborate on that comment, or provide any specific examples?
posted by davidmsc at 8:10 AM on September 15, 2001

BTW, valari, welcome to Metafilter. Quite an interesting community, wouldn't you agree?
posted by davidmsc at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2001

mapalm, I really haven't seen any prevailing vilification on MeFi of those talking peace. Of course, in any set of 100 comments a few go off the edge, but, for the most part, MeFi's been very receptive to anti-war sentiment. I am in favor of some kind of disciplined, coherent military response, but I'll be the first in the street if it involves bloodlust. So understand that I'm basically with you when I say this: Leftists usually undermine themselves with self-pity. We are not persecuted, we are not the last island of decent people in a world gone dark, we are none of those romantic myths that are very popular and very prevalent among (have you noticed this?) the far left and the far right. I'd rather we were forceful and confident in our speech and actions than self-pitying.
posted by argybarg at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2001

Would you care to elaborate on that comment, or provide any specific examples?

exporting repression
posted by asok at 8:38 AM on September 15, 2001

holgate: The villains in "Die Hard," just for the record, were German, not Middle Eastern or Muslim. (They are out for profit, and not any political or religious goals, although the leaders acts as if they are because he just wants to get a rise out of people. It's called a twist on expectations.) Methinks you're thinking of another movie, except for the explosion-in-a-building part, and possibly the involvement of airplanes and airport in the second. That first sequel features former American military people working on behalf of a Noriega-like drug dealer for . . . gosh, something, which leads them to take over an airport at Christmas in order to . . . oh, keep all the planes flying overhead and riding snowmobiles with AK-47s while shooting at Bruce Willis, who survives while spinning off catch phrases and blah blah. The third is once again mostly Germans working for profit, including a mute and apparently somewhat kinky uber-fascist played by singer Sam Phillips. Their chief is linked to the ring leader in the original film.

Sorry. Just had to get that cleared up.
posted by raysmj at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2001

....does not fit into the puzzle, and fitting in a piece, even the last piece, you still have a puzzle, it just looks like something when assembled. Father turned down an assignment in Saudi during the 70's because he did not want my sisters and i to be a target, nor be exposed to the schools of Switzerland nor the racist and homophobic nature of arabs in general. Bin Laden was one our best boys during afgan-soviet war(which fucks your orwell((east fighting east)) his family had ties to u.s. that even you folks dont quite grasp-im not gonna point shit out as you all should be on this...the saudis condemn him and they mean it. Bin Laden is (was) a rouge, for nations gone rouge(at least underneath the smile) Bin laden is either dead, will turn him self in, or in Yemen. I predict Yemen will get the evil eye in alot of this. and if you want a movie to get your heart going, try "The Siege" I'm rereading some letters from a friend who was communist, in a few letters(1988) he went on to explain the Mujha, how they are hardened cadre, smart and well equipped, he predicted that the mujha will be betrayed by u.s. and that this could have repercussions....of course he thought Shining Path would be the great u.s. killer in the nineties...soooo. (I think its a kin to Dr.No and the specters(special guest-Arlan) I approve of the flags and all, but as soon as someone yahoo asks where mine is,(it is tattered from the summer winds, cant fly that nor the 48-star family flag) im gonna go ape shit- flying the flag is great but that wont insulate us.
posted by newnameintown at 10:02 AM on September 15, 2001

That's sort of my point, clav^H^H^H^Hnewnameintown: Goldstein was the paradigmatic traitor in 1984, who abandoned the Party to work against it, and his image was all the more provocative for that reason. There's something even more Orwellian on the other side: the mujahedin were at ideological war with the USSR in the 1980s, now their enemy is the USA.

The dar-al-Islam is the Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims. The dar-al-harb is everything else. In the 1980's, the Soviet Union epitomized, for fundamentalist-minded Muslims, the abode of war. Today, it is the U.S. that symbolizes the dar-al-harb.

The label stays the same, the wearer changes. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

(raysmj: yes, I was thinking of the movie with Arnie and the Arab terrorists and the missile that went though the skyscraper to hit the helicopter, and... they all blur into one, don't they? Someone on the BBC last night pointed out that all of those films were like the Gothic novel in the 1770s, acting out fears until they actually occurred.)

But yes, it's a mosaic rather than a jigsaw: we're working with pebbles.
posted by holgate at 10:34 AM on September 15, 2001


no self-pity here....as for villification, i have personally been subjected to it - though it is true that many others on MeFi have expressed reasoned and respectful disagreement.
posted by mapalm at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2001

Chill mapalm. You made assumptions about who I was and what I support well before I unloaded on you; just as you make assumptions concerning the "prevalence" of bloodlust and jingoism. I believe the self-pity that was mentioned relates more to the voices that continuously flood this forum with the fear of what MIGHT happen, and indeed, many are already assuming as a given, yourself included. So I politely ask, have you contacted your congresspersons yet? Do they know how you feel? I haven't read 1984 in quite some time, but I do remember that doublespeak only works in concert with fear, and the net effect is in-action. So to those who post so much to this list that they are terribly frightened of the carnage coming I can only ask, what are you DOING? (besides of course, assuming that America is full of Rednecks and no one but yourselves know anything about American foreign policy or history)
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2001

For DavidMSC and others: thank you for your attention! This is the first time I've been to metafilter, and the first time I was introduced to weblogs was in the past week. Yeah, pretty interesting - a slight understatement, don't ya think? So for mw and mapalm - the question wasn't being asked anywhere I was looking or hearing. I'll admit, I've been fairly isolated. As far as elaborating on the comments, maybe I didn't make myself clear, davidmsc, that these were the thoughts of an older person who had been in the Korean war, had first-hand experience of war. I would love to turn him on to this scene, but that would be a bit difficult. He doesn't have a computer, and he lives a good distance away, and I just met him over the phone. This AM. At the time, I thought it was relative to the discussion at hand, where he brought up how he believed a certain small group, or cell, as he put it was revving up the public with patriotism and bombing talk, talk of war, and it was a mask (all his words) for their real intentions. Or a mask for the reasons for their patriotism and desire to kick some butt.

I should also tell you that I live approximately 30 minutes from New York City, have gone there more than often, hung out there as a teenager when the mood hit us. I've slept very little in the past few days, not at all last nite. Matter of fact - I'M STILL UP. I wrote that about ninish this AM East Coast time. It's now eightish. So, may I please be excused for being a tad slap happy. I'm usually much clearer. I mean, I didn't even use the spell check - that's not normal. I write better, as well. promise.

Also, here's another interesting little thingie, I ended up meeting this guy today - Mr. Williams. I had to go pick up some paperwork from him, so I got his address and called in a favor from a buddy (it was a longish drive and I was afraid I would nod off while driving) and went down to his house. This guy is awesome. I spoke to him briefly and told him I had attempted to capture his words and post them on the internet. He was very happy about that. I explained metafilter to him and he thought it was way cool. He told me he really wants to try the computer thing out. This is a 69 (70 next March!) year old African American gentleman who experienced the Korean war. I don't know his educational background, but I would say he is at least up on current events, politics and the world in general. Waaaay up. Extremely intelligent and thoughtful guy. Pleasant personality, great sense of humor. I swear the man had an actual twinkle in his eye. Lovely person. We talked a little more, mostly about computers and the internet, which he hasn't experienced yet, but would like to. The man also has a creative bent, used to make jewelry. There's a great bead store in the town he lives in - they have stuff you can usually only get in NYC. I make jewelry too - hence we bonded a tad more.

So much bad stuff out there recently it was neat to meet him, and it was neat to meet somebody older, with his kind of experiences. ('m surrounded by people at or near my age - 30's to 40's) He kinda reminded me of my Grandpa, who I lost a long time ago '84.

I REALLY need to get some zzzzz's, but I do have to mail Mr. Williams some papers, and I think I may just print some of this out and mail it to him. I'm fairly sure he'll get a real kick out of it, and it may spur him to pursue the computer thing a little quicker.

So, if I wasn't very clear earlier (or now, for that matter) please forgive me, and chalk it up to my lack of sleep, which I really, really hope to remedy within the next coupla hours.

Thank you all for your interest. Metafilter good. No sleep bad. Good night. Now I just hope I CAN sleep.
posted by valari at 5:12 PM on September 15, 2001

Lets call this an affirmative
"WAKE-UP CALL" on America.
posted by Kodel at 7:20 PM on September 15, 2001

"Goldstein was the paradigmatic traitor in 1984, who abandoned the Party to work against it, and his image was all the more provocative for that reason." But Goldstien can be considered Big brother, even that goldstein is a lure to test loyalty and then turn one back against the "enemy"(no sarcasm) Im sure holgate your more versed in the textual interpetation of the novel, but does it not seem a world built only upon archtypes and that these archtypes are so ingrained that independent action, even in service to the state is interpeted as working against the state.(hence man set up this misinformed society on some sort of destrucive auto-pilot) If is this jist of where your going, i agree.
posted by newnameintown at 9:27 AM on September 16, 2001

Got it in one, sir.
posted by holgate at 8:59 AM on September 17, 2001

thats dead one then....hmmm. oh, said some things concerning you(holgate)in metatalk, see newest addition of the thread on aaron and such.
posted by newnameintown at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2001

thanks for the story valari -
we sometimes think that the 'old' can't understand the pacy high-tech world 'we' live in. in fact, often, wisdom does come with age.
we should value the voice of experience.
posted by asok at 12:28 PM on September 17, 2001

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