Voyou Désœuvré

Bush’s press conference a few days back reminded me of the much-ridiculed line from a White House aide about the “reality-based community”:

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

The proud reality based community laughing at this position seem to be laughing at their own imagined version of what the aide said. He is not, note, talking about simply ignoring reality, about spreading lies or believing ones own fantasies. This is not about, to quote Immortal Technique, “moving shit with your mind,” but about materially producing the reality you want. And Bush’s press-conference contained a particularly good example:

Al Qaeda wants to hurt us here. That’s their objective. That’s what they would like to do. They have got an ideology that they believe that the world ought to live under, and that one way to help spread that ideology is to harm the American people, harm American interests. The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that’s why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.

It’s the old lie about a connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Except it’s not totally a lie anymore, is it; the US government has created a situation where there are al Quaeda affiliated groups in Iraq. This provides, I think, an interesting example for anyone who wants to avoid moralism. The political irrelevance of moralism comes from the way in which it presents criticism by reference to an alternative that doesn’t exist (“you are doing one thing, but you should be doing another”); but moralism gets what force it has precisely from this non-existence, from the contrast between the ought and the is. Can a politics based on moralism, then, stand to have this “ought” brought about, to become the “is”? The method of the current US government (perhaps this is the method of all groups in power—this may have some connection to recent discussions of confidence) is very different: here the assertion of a counterfactual is not a criticism of present reality, but a moment in changing reality.

Comments

  1. echeneida, 9:00 pm, July 21, 2007

    Wow that guy has some revolutionary ideas about degenerate fags!

  2. voyou, 9:08 pm, July 21, 2007

    Yeah; regrettably, the opening line of that song about how he “never makes songs to disrespect women” is bullshit, too. Although there’s a lot to like about Immortal Technique, his sexual politics are massively fucked up.

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