Thursday, November 03, 2005

THE AGE OF UNREASON

The Cheney Administration either has a collective pathological deficit of brain functions, or, like the reaction against reason and rationalism in early modern Germany, we are bearing witness to a fundamental shift to unbridled emotionalism. Sturm und Drang, the Germans called it. For Germany, it was a fateful turn of culture and society, eventually taking them right to Auschwitz and their long death march to historical infamy.

It's now a matter of public record that this administration openly advocates and uses Soviet-style torture. Evidently, they weren't listening when Senator Biden openly derided General Gonzales (now Attorney General) for signing off on torture. We don't torture prisoners and other captives so that when our men and women in uniform are captured by our enemies, they will less likely be tortured. It's not a guarantee, but the once agreed-upon strategy does have a reliable historical record of showing it works most of the time. Moreover, time and time again it has been demonstrated that torture does not get reliable information.

Now, however, all bets are off. And through the vengeful short-sighted policies of our now unpopular government, U.S. military personel, as well as all Americans, stand a pretty good chance of suffering a slow, painful, torturous death if and when captured by terrorists. Cheney and friends have uped the ante in the terror gamble because they have no personal stake in it. And no military experience to back up their irrational policy.

So, now that we know Cheney and his buddies are using torture around the world, we have to ask ourselves: what's the difference between this administration and that of Joseph Stalin?

I guess the Age of Reason and the ideals of the Enlightenment are officially dead. I don't know what lies ahead, but if history is any guide, I'd say we're in for not just dishonor and the shame of government scandal, but more and more violence. Let's set our clocks back, not just one hour, but, say, about 150 years. To a time when men were men, the nation-state was young and carefree, and war was a way of life.

Nostalgia 1. the state of being homesick. 2. a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for a return to some past period or irrecoverable condition. From the Greek nostos + algia, to return home. A term coined in 1688 by Swiss physician Johannes Hofer, diagnosing a malaise that affected Swiss mercenaries fighting abroad in the Franco-Prussian war. Also used during the American Civil War, nostalgia was rendered 'shell shock' during the First World War, 'battle fatigue' during World War II, and 'post-traumatic stress disorder' during the Vietnam conflict.