20 July 2006


Early in the Star Trek, The Next Generation series, a fictional alien entity called "The Borg" was shown to television viewers. The Borg, as the Wikipedia entry proclaims, is controlled by a "hive mind" in which a single consciousness envelops a multitude of bodies.

The thing that was fun about the Borg, though, is that whenever the Starship Enterprise was being attacked by the Borg, the Borg drone confronting the Enterprise would always say some combination of the words "Resistance is futile" and "you will be assimilated."

It seems like "the Borg" might make an appropriate metaphor for political life as it occurs today. The powers-that-be, although clearly possessing distinct bodies and sometimes even distinct personalities, seem to have a "hive mind" at times. Now, the Borg mentality exists to a wide extent within political entities, and cannot merely be blamed on the US Congress, supporters of the Israel lobby, or for that matter Muslims or Christians or the Left or Right or people of any stripe. People are people -- people are not the prosthetic units of the Borg as portrayed on Star Trek. Within each and every person is a spirit of freedom, always threatening to escape from its ideological cage.

But the hive mentality does, however, curiously seemed to have emerged as such in the Congressional voicings of opinion on Israel's merciless bombing of Lebanon, seemingly marking Congress as a product of assimilation. Support Israel -- condemn enemies of the Jewish state.

They are doubtless all afraid of being called "antisemites," which is a name some people give for anyone who does not support all of the actions of the state of Israel 100 percent of the time. (Now, of course there are plenty of real antisemites in the world -- I don't like them either -- but that's not what this is about.) Be assimilated -- don't be an "antisemite."

Another variation of this was given by Tony Snow in a question-and-answer session with reporter Helen Thomas.
HELEN THOMAS: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine.

TONY SNOW: What's interesting, Helen --

HELEN THOMAS: And this is what's happening, and that's the perception of the United States.

TONY SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you --
Now, outside of the hive-mind, if you read renegade news sources like Counterpunch or Zmag or even Alternet, you find a wide variety of perspectives, hardly any of which are to be equated with the "Hezbollah view." Take, for instance, that of Zeev Maoz' article in Alternet. Maoz, whose curriculum vitae reveals years of Israeli military service, suggests, contrary to Tony Snow's assertion that "Hezbollah is responsible", that Israel is responsible for creating the conditions for the existence of Hezbollah, and that the existence of Hezbollah is itself a blowback from previous Israeli policy:
The Hizballah, one of Israel's most bitter enemies, is an unwanted child of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, a reaction of Lebanese Shiites to the megalomaniac plan of Menahem Begin and Ariel Sharon to impose upon the Lebanese people a Christian-dominated state. Hassan Nasrallah, the extremist leader of the Hizballah replaced the more moderate Abbas Mussawi, who was assassinated by Israel in February 1992.
Maoz uses this observation to support an argument that the Israeli government pursues a strategy against Hezbollah based on an incorrect choice of tactics:
Israeli resort to disproportionate force is predicated on a conception of "escalation dominance," a flawed notion that the massive force can reduce the motivation of its adversaries to attack Israeli targets. Israelis still subscribe to the notion that if a problem cannot be solved by force, it would be solved by applying greater force. The current conflict demonstrates again that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) lost its capacity to stage surgical operations. It is covering for its incompetence in managing low-intensity warfare by applying massive area bombardments of questionable strategic value, and of unquestionably huge diplomatic damage.
But this matters not to the Borg: the point is to repeat the slogan of "Israel's right to exist," over and over again. Do tell us, O Borg, that Zeev Maoz is an "antisemite" who doesn't care about said nation's right to exist.

A footnote: Robert Blecher, stationed in Jerusalem, commented to Zmag that he thinks the current Israeli attack/ invasion of Lebanon is motivated by office politics, rather than by the low-level kidnapings routine which has been going on between Israel and Hezbollah for quite some time now:
The increased aggressiveness of Israeli military action over the past months, and especially the last weeks, stems from a shakeup in the balance of power within the Israeli government. Among the most influential arms of the IDF is the Operations Department, which is possessed of a long-term vision that, in accordance with institutional interests, is premised upon the use of military power to achieve political goals. Representatives of this department, even before the disengagement from Gaza in the summer of 2005, complained that unilateral concessions would erode Israel's "deterrent capacity." Ariel Sharon, then prime minister, was unmoved by this argument, since his long military career had taught him that the invocation of the ostensibly neutral notion of "deterrence" was a stratagem to force the treatment of political problems though military means. For years, he himself had used the same technique to inveigh against initiatives of the political echelon. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, by contast, are inexperienced in military matters, and as a result, according to a source in Israeli military intelligence, they did not fully appreciate how the demand for "deterrence" can be used to shift the internal balance of power in favor of the military. When the Operations Department harped on the need to reestablish Israeli "deterrence," especially in the wake of the soldiers' capture, the civilian leadership was convinced to hew to the IDF's line. This subtle but crucial change brewing inside Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv explains something about the enormous extent of the destruction wreaked on Lebanon in the wake of Hizballah's cross-border raid.
I am waiting for the US Congress to pass a resolution, any day now, endorsing "Israel's right to office politics."


Blogger 577Enfield said...

Hey Sam!

Nice post buddy. Commercial jingles, political slogans, screens and other mind manipulative techniques abound everywhere. To you, the masses are drones of the hive. Taking the more traditional view, I see them as "sheeple".

Catch You Later!


7:31 PM  
Blogger Samuel said...

thanks Enfield!

1:33 PM  

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