Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

On war

I first wrote about this in a post in November, but am recycling this great letter I found in the Nov-Dec issue of Tikkun magazine — the thoughtful commentary by Peter Gabel is worth a second run:

“War is about socially induced paranoia that reciprocates back and forth via imaginary threats to humiliated beings who cannot make authentic contact with one another.

Each person on each ’side’ is withdrawn into him/herself fearing the anxious ping of rejection and humiliation, then hyper-identifies with an imaginary ‘we’ under threat from an endlessly projected imaginary ‘them’. There is no grounded Thou, just repetition of skidding off into collective flight out of fear of humiliation, on both ’sides’.

This can lead to a realpolitik ‘need’ to get your hands on the other guy’s oil. That can be a subordinate part of the rotating paranoia, where ‘they’ have the oil and ‘we’ need to keep our self-owned machines going.

But if it were really just about oil, we would adopt a different course–namely, we would seek to calm things down and make peace with the big oil countries, and extend generosity and human recognition toward them, appreciating the human beings there in their true humanity, in which case they would share the oil with us. They would! (Yes, via the market at present, but so what).

So its not about oil. Its about the fear of humiliation and the attendant pathologies that come from fear, not as a mere psychological matter, but as a legacy of a profound collective, mutually enforcing isolation.

When the Left keeps repeating that it’s all about oil, it participates in the schizophrenia which treats the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld types as craven materialist robots, instead of leaders of a disposition, a frightened way of relating to the world.

Instead of kicking the Bush administration out of office and replacing it with correct geo-political robots whom we would approve of who would, say, recognise the sovereignty of oil-producing countries, we must heal the distorted human consciousness that produces it by thawing out the paranoid dynamic I describe with love, authenticity and an appeal to the spontaneous desire within social space to recover from the bad dream of paranoid existence and actually Be Here Now with the other beautiful human beings on the planet.”


11 comments on “On war

  1. servant
    25 January, 2007

    Off Topic. The corporate military industrial complex has identified starvation as the root cause of global unrest and has invested massive amounts of R&D funding to find a solution. Today the Pentagon unveiled the new Active Hunger Denial (AHDS), which uses technology previously developed by the discontinued death ray program to feed higher numbers of people at a higher sustained rate than any previous system.

    Lieutenant Colonel Wicketson demonstrated the new Food Ray prototype on troops pretending to be hungry at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. “I just wish Jesus were still alive,” said Wicketson. “I’d love to see a head to head competition between AHDS and Jesus feeding people with loaves and fishes. To tell you the truth, I think this gizmo would kick Jesus’ ass. No offence to the religious, of course.”

    via AP – with Photos

  2. Monte
    25 January, 2007

    Could be. Sure is true that dysfunctionality generally is about fear. But I doubt that it’s 1 or 10: all about oil or not about oil at all. Seems like oil might be so foundational to western prosperity that it becomes the chief symbol of what frightens us most.
    It is a strange prosperity, is it not, that gives so little ease and turns its owners to tyrants?
    But I have to confess that the times I’ve hurt people the worst have been times when I was afraid. Whew. It suggests all sides are perpetrators, and all sides victims, myself included!
    Time to heal!

  3. Monte
    25 January, 2007

    PS: is “the west” a concept that means the same thing in Australia as in the USA? I think of it as a euphemism for something like “post-European,” rather than a compass point.

  4. peoplesgeography
    25 January, 2007

    Hi Monte,

    I agree that besides the underlying psychology of fear, there is very much a material motivation to war as well and that, as you point out, access to oil and resources underpins the consumerist lifestyle to which we have become accustomed. Someone once coined a phrase that matches what you have written well: something like “the poverty of affluence”.

    Yes, you put it well — the “west” exists less geographically than culturally and ideologically. We do use it in Australia in the same way it is used in the States.

  5. peoplesgeography
    25 January, 2007

    Serv., thanks very much for the link. You had me going there with your talk of a weapon against world hunger (where the money and military energies should go). Clever comment.

    This also made the evening news here, with the news bulletin item mentioning the weapons would be available in 2-3 years — I can’t believe people are so matter-of-fact about this disturbing technology. Its just like tasers or tazers which are used against the domestic population for “law and order”. Nearly 200 people have died in the last five years from these allegedly only “stun” guns.

    This is science gone mad. The lethality of our “crowd control” and combat weapons has not only increased, so has the torture quotient.

    If the equivalent R&D were invested in harnessing the enormous energy of our Sun for example, we would be in a far better planetary position than the perilous path we are being prodded on by the mad neocons who want us to fight an “endless war” to secure the table scraps of the twentieth century’s hydrocarbon resources.

    Here’s to alternative energies, and …. alternative mindsets

  6. servant
    26 January, 2007

    Australia’s like a whole other country, isn’t it?

    West means South here, as in that’s where all the rednecks come. Specifically the Republic of Texas. Wish Mexico would take them back. They’ve been nothing but trouble. See also LBJ. Most of the Yehaw types are from the south.


    There’s a school of thought in the U.S. government, where I used to work, that each agency is a solution in search of a problem to solve. Where no problems exist, agencies must invent them in order to justify their existence.

    With the Active Denial System(tm) we see the military running out of enemies “over there” and beginning to look for things to control here at home. To military industrial planners, civilians must look like an entirely new market for command and control.

    That’s okay. Innovation comes in many forms and the hardest part is getting someone to pay for it. What these mental midgets don’t realize is that they are prototyping part of a future energy solution.

    “Beaming” energy from point to point is a proof of concept for larger scale applications.

    And – the futurist makes leaps and bounds while the technologists figure out how-it-works – once the problem of unlimited energy has been solved we can move on to a more interesting problem spaces – like the war between the sexes.

    If the technology to “beam” energy from place to place is scalable – it can also be applied to to the _real_ _actual_ _non-imaginary_ threat to life on planet Earth. No not terrah. Global warming.

    Concurrent with the collection of large scale energy (heat) from space, a means of regulating the temperature via active dissipation will have to be engineered

  7. peoplesgeography
    26 January, 2007

    Aaaah, wild west rednecks from the South, eh? I’d best assure people you’re only being tongue in cheek … ! I like South culture very much. And it is a charming accent. I also happen to feature an Alabaman teenager’s videos that show she has more conscience and intelligence than the unelected (both times, thanks Diebold) current POTUS. There is much talent in Dixie. And I am a Southerner myself, globally speaking, being from the Great Southern Land.

    Loved this:

    And – the futurist makes leaps and bounds while the technologists figure out how-it-works – once the problem of unlimited energy has been solved we can move on to a more interesting problem spaces – like the war between the sexes.


    That’s an encouraging link there on solar-powered satellites there, thanks for including it.

  8. servant
    26 January, 2007


  9. homeyra
    27 January, 2007

    Interesting post PPGG. Here, we are submerged in recent or older theories: oil, the cold war period, WWII…
    A social fabric reported to be disrupted with different degrees of violence, to serve better the international interests….
    Theories for a “semi-controlled” mess in the Middle-East,…
    This post brings a new perspective.

  10. peoplesgeography
    28 January, 2007

    Thanks Homie, and I think that’s a perfect description: “‘semi-controlled’ mess in the Middle East”

  11. homeyra
    29 January, 2007

    … or the process of regional destabilization: (forwarded article):
    “… The most important aspect of the matter is that a zone of an endless bloody conflict will be created at the core of the Middle East, and that the countries neighboring Iraq – Iran, Syria, Turkey (Kurdistan) – will inevitably be getting drawn into it. This will solve the problem of completely destabilizing the region, a task of major importance for the US and especially for Israel. The war in Iraq was just one element in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilization…”

    Reading the above, I had a “state of denial” reaction … and then I came across this in the same text:

    ” … Some people tend to believe that concerns over the world’s protests can stop the US. I do not think so. The importance of this factor should not be overstated. In the past, I have spent hours talking to Milosevic, trying to convince him that NATO was preparing to attack Yugoslavia. For a long time, he could not believe this and kept telling me: “Just read the UN Charter. What grounds will they have to do it?”
    But they did it. They ignored the international law outrageously and did it. What do we have now? Yes, there was a shock, there was indignation. But the result is exactly what the aggressors wanted – Milosevic is dead, Yugoslavia is partitioned, and Serbia is colonized – NATO officers have set up their headquarters in the country’s ministry of defense….”

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"