Reality vs. the Big Fear Factor

Or How Scary Is Putting Your Trust in the U.S. War Machine?

by Sunsara Taylor

Revolutionary Worker #1248, August 8, 2004, posted at

"Be afraid. Be very afraid. We are living in a new age--an age of global terrorism. Everyone is a suspect. Every place, a possible target. Watch out for that foreign student who is quiet and sits in the back of the classroom. Keep an eye on that neighbor who didn't fly the flag on the 4th of July. Throw out your Dixie Chicks albums and don't get caught humming their songs--even alone in the shower. Stay away from airports and train stations, liberal arts colleges and libraries, large gatherings like protests...but baseball games are fine. Best to just stock up on water and duct tape and only leave your house to go to church or go shopping, because those things send a message that the 'terrorists didn't win.'
"Today, every kind of prying and spying is justified, as is every act of preemption or aggression. So stop thinking about the children who lost limbs from the cluster bombs that look like food drops in Afghanistan. Put the pictures of the Iraqi prisoners dragged on leashes and raped out of your head. Don't concern yourself with the villages reduced to rubble, the destruction of clean drinking water, and the house-to-house raids from Mosul to Basra. All that stuff is old-fashioned, it's just totally passé. In this new age, people need to quit whining about privacy and immigrants and the use of a little force around the world.
"Yeah, maybe a year or two ago thinking of the world, or protesting the war, seemed like the `thing to do' but let's get real, we are under attack and that is a luxury we can no longer afford. In other words, and in a very immediate sense: DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT PROTESTING THE REPUBLICANS WHEN THEY COME TO NEW YORK!"


If you have a hard time swallowing this logic, if you think it is absolutely unconscionable, if the base capitalist immorality of this strikes you as criminal, makes your skin crawl, or causes you to scream at the top of your lungs-- GOOD! That means you still have a pulse and you have what it takes to have a positive impact on the future of the world.

As outrageous as it is, this is the logic and the terms that the rulers are fighting to set broadly in society. "Safety" has become the new catchword and "fear" their emotion of choice--and taken together, they use these concepts to justify and rationalize the wars they launch and the disappearance of people into their prisons and all the sinister snooping they do.


But the truth is that the biggest issue that is burning in the minds of millions in this country is that they hate the whole direction that Bush and his team are taking the world. Across the board, people have made history in the largest outpourings of protest ever--whether it be the massive opposition to the war on Iraq, the million or so who went to DC for abortion rights in the March for Women's Lives, the fact that every week a new Bush-bashing book is on the bestsellers list, or how common it has become for people to speak out against the president openly or through metaphor in popular art and culture. And the more revealing truth is that none of this is up for debate in the elections. Instead, the debate is about "safety" and "defending America."

It was made painfully clear during the Democratic National Convention that you cannot vote against the occupation of Iraq or the launching of more wars, since the only debate around this is whether to go it alone or try to do this with more allies. You cannot vote against the clampdown on civil liberties and immigrants' rights--since the only debate around this is who would crack down further. They are already making it clear that no matter who gets elected-- the juggernaut of war and repression which the Bush clique launched after 9/11 will keep on rolling.

This is why, right now, when the Republicans are coming to New York to reclaim the cover of September 11 for the plunders they've only just begun and the Democrats have refused to oppose them, it is so urgent and needed, and so entirely possible, to bring more than a million into the streets to issue a huge and defiant "NO!" that will echo around the world! This is the only way we will make our voices heard, not to the leaders of the Democrats or the Republicans who have continuously shown their disdain for the will of the people--but to everyone everywhere who hates this whole program so that no matter who becomes president everyone knows that he is not acting in our interests or sanctioned by our will. And so that as the occupation wears on and more wars are launched, everyone everywhere knows that there is an opposition they must join with and strengthen.

But, at this very moment when this manifestation of opposition is most needed, we are being inundated by the message that it is time to heal the divisions that opened up in this country--the massive opposition to the war on Iraq on one side, and the murderers who were calling the shots in this immoral and unjust war on the other. We are told to forget all "those people over there" suffering the daily realities of U.S. occupation and come together again behind our "common ground" of "defending the United States of America." The whole issue of "safety" is portrayed as the one thing that everyone is supposed to unite on.

And, in case you want no part of this kind of "unity"--in case you wanted to stick to your principles and stand with the people of the world--in case you wanted to make sure the world sees this through issuing of a massive repudiation to Bush and everything he stands for when the Republicans come to New York at the end of this month to hold their convention--there is a barrage of other, more overt "messages" being sent. Newspaper headlines that equate anarchists with terrorists. In mid-town Manhattan, police escalate their drills to tactics called "swarming," where 80 heavily armed police will sweep through a crowded area in a demonstration of force. The NY police commissioner tells the world that the protesters need to understand that things have changed, that every large gathering is a potential terrorist target. All of these things are meant to send two messages: first, they are supposed to create a sense that there must be something to fear so leave town or stay home, and second, they are an open threat to any who are thinking about protesting.


In reality, it is the horrors that the U.S. has carried out against the people all over the planet that has caused millions around the world to hate this country and has put the people of this country in harm's way. These imperialists--who have perpetrated countless crimes and rained havoc on the people of the world through their relentless global exploitation, their military actions, their backing of all kinds of reactionary forces, like the Islamic fundamentalists who they alternately ally with and stab in the back--have created a situation where millions of people all around the world hate the government of the United States.

And now, they want to use the hate that they have engendered as an excuse to carry out further plunder and wars. Look at the war on Iraq. It had nothing to do with September 11 or "protecting the American people." In fact, those who ordered this war had no problem sending 140,000 of these "precious American people" to go kill and risk their lives for a war based on lies.And they have no problem with the fact that this war is causing many millions more, all over the world, to hate the U.S.

So, it must be said--none of this talk of "safety" has anything to do with protecting the American people! What it does have to do with is creating an atmosphere where the millions and millions of people in this country who hate the whole Bush agenda, get sucked into a deadly compromise with the very agenda they hate.

Let's get real. What they are telling us, through all this talk of instituting unprecedented spying and creating new agencies and government positions with dangerous new powers, is that their plans for the future are going to unleash even more hatred against them--even more of what they call "blowback" resulting from their actions around the world--and even more resistance rising up from the people.

So the idea that there can be "safety" in a world dominated by the U.S. ruling class is a complete fantasy. And putting one's trust in these world-class liars and criminals for protection will only lead to a nightmare - society.


Through the resistance to the war on Iraq here and around the globe, millions and millions across the planet began to see our common interests and our common enemy. Millions and millions in this country were standing with the people of the world and opposed to what "our" government was doing to them . And this has taken a big toll on the legitimacy of the aggression the rulers are carrying out.

This is why both political parties and both presidential candidates are working systematically to reverse this, so that people here are afraid of the people of the world and are standing with and relying on the government that is terrorizing the planet to protect them. They need this kind of polarization in society in order to prevent and isolate and be able to crush any resistance that could undermine their ability to carry out their ruthless juggernaut.

But their need for this goes still deeper. Chairman Bob Avakian has spoken to how every dictatorship relies on and maintains for itself a monopoly on the use of legitimate armed force. Under this society, which is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the state reserves the right to kill, imprison, or otherwise carry out acts of repression and have this be "excused" in the eyes of the state and of the population broadly speaking; but for anyone else to use force or take a life--this is punishable by law and broadly looked at as wrong. He says, "When, again, the legitimacy of this monopoly of armed force is significantly called into question--and particularly when this becomes widespread in society, affecting broad strata, not just among the proletariat and basic masses but extensively among the `middle class' as well--then this can be a crucial part of the development of one of the key elements making possible a revolutionary struggle, the emergence of a revolutionary people, of millions and millions determined to make revolutionary change."

This statement sheds a lot of light on Lenin's point that never do the imperialists more need the acquiescence of the people than they do at a time of war. That while they look puffed up and strong, and rather daunting, in reality this is also a time when they are vulnerable. This is because they are extending their use of force in a brutal and concentrated way, and they cannot know for sure at the outset whether they will succeed or whether people will accept what they are doing and see it as justifiable. So they work at convincing people that this is right, and they always try to cloak themselves in some kind of "worthy" excuse. But if people don't buy their excuse and if instead we come out and resist , they risk losing the cover for not only this particular war, but even more fundamentally this can call into question the very right of those who rule to determine when to use force, including in their overall rule.

And even as the media works with the rulers to whip up this climate of fear it is possible to see the contours of how this could all unravel. Millions know that every excuse the Bush team gave for the war on Iraq was lies. They saw the horrendous brutality and inhumanity in the way the U.S. military treats Iraqi prisoners and they saw in Farenheit 911 the heartless military culture where the youth brag about what kind of music they like to listen to while they kill. 56% of the Democratic Party base feels that the U.S. should pull its troops out of Iraq immediately, that there is no justification for them remaining. Over a hundred cities across the country have refused to enforce the repressive Patriot Act. What the rulers are doing is deeply unjust and opposed to the interests of the people here and all over the world, and millions have been seeing this and fighting to oppose it.

So this mantle of "national security" and "safety" are poison pills that the rulers desperately want the people to swallow. They need to play up people's fear because their plans for a whole global empire involve a great deal of force, they do not want this being called into question among those they rule over.

This is how they are working to scare people into going along with the very repressive moves that millions and millions would otherwise find morally repugnant. And, this is a way that they are working to scare the people who would otherwise come into the streets and protest and isolate those who are determined enough to do so anyway.


So, what must we do?

Be brave. Be very brave. Not stubbornly, but strategically, because we live in a new age--an age where the future holds the possibility not just of great dangers and horrors, but of earth-shaking revolutionary changes and liberating possibilities. Everyone can take part. Every place can be transformed. Have the back of that quiet foreign student who sits in the back of the classroom. Get to know that neighbor who didn't fly the flag on the 4th of July. Stock up on rebel music and defy the censors and the cynics. Stay away from recruiting stations and fundamentalist churches, fight to learn the truth about the world in colleges and libraries and everywhere and use this to help bring about radical changes, definitely frequent gatherings like protests...and don't stand for the national anthem at baseball games. Best to take stock in the truth that the world doesn't have to be this way and to have confidence and act on the understanding that the biggest terrorist on the planet, the U.S. empire, doesn't have to win.

Today, and always , there is nothing that can ever justify all the snooping and spying, or aggression and plunder that is threatening to cast a permanent dark cloud of heightened suffering and subjugation, exploitation and turmoil over the billions worldwide. So, never stop thinking about the real people's lives all around our blue-green planet--the children in Afghanistan, the prisoners in Iraq, the villages that need to be rebuilt and the dreams of so many for a better world. Give them a basis to see--through our powerful and visible resistance--that we have common interests and a common enemy and that we are determined to fight. All this stuff is the way of the future! It's totally what's new and arising. These are rites of passage to a new age, where people will look back in disbelief that the world was ever riddled by such horrors and divisions, because--together with people all over the planet--we will have rid the planet of tyrants and oppressors and brought about a whole new day.

There are millions who are opposed to everything Bush stands for. So, let's get real. There is every basis --if we counter this fear-mongering and hysteria--to build to bring forward more than a million to say NO! when the eyes of the world are on the Republican National Convention. One way or another, what shapes up on this day will shape the terms for going forward. Let's make clear to the world that America has not "come back together," does not stand united behind this program of plunder. And this can be part of building a movement that can stop the very juggernaut that is putting people all over this planet in danger.