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<nettime> [IRAQ] 030322 digest #2 [x3]

"David Garcia" <>
Joe Lockard <>
     CFP: Bad Subjects - Iraq War Culture
"geert lovink" <>
     The obligatory Zizek text on the Iraq war...

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Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003 12:30:23 -0700
From: Joe Lockard <>
Subject: CFP: Bad Subjects - Iraq War Culture

For Nettime distribution.


Emergency Call for Papers:  Iraq War Culture

Bad Subjects ( calls for essays for an Extra Bad!
issue on the culture of the Iraq War.  This is an unscheduled issue that
responds to the immediate US invasion of Iraq and the massive global
anti-war movement in opposition.  The deadline for draft essays will be
Friday, April 4 and the issue will appear on Monday, April 7, 2003.

We will be especially interested in essays that report and analyze global
anti-war protests; global challenges to US political and cultural
hegemonism; anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism and anti-globalization; the
effects of the Iraq War and counter-protests on US culture and its
international marketing; comparative historic American violences and their
manifestations in the current war; critiques of mutually reinforcing
religious and military cultures in the United States; political repression
and loss of civil rights, in the US and globally; the rise of Homeland
Security ideologies; mass communication and the commodification of social
fear; CNN and the high-tech battlefield; representation of Arab peoples;
cultural and artistic responses to the war; and the Dixie Chicks story.  

The issue editors welcome a diverse international range of perspectives, and
will review and publish Spanish, French, German or Portuguese submissions in
the original (200-250 word English summary requested).  Send Word
attachments with full texts only - no abstracts or queries - to  Bad Subjects essays typically run 2000-3500 words and
employ accessible language. 

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Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003 18:36:01 +0100
Subject: N5M/infowarroom
From: "David Garcia" <>

||||N5M/Info War Room 

22nd of March, 22.30 launch of N5M/InfoWarRoom.

To counteract almost exclusive dependence western media for information on
the war, Next 5 Minutes Amsterdam (with the financial support of the Dutch
development agency NCDO) is deploying N5M/Balie production infrastructure,
to install an Arabic translation and subtitling desk in order that key
Arabic media sources become more accessible to a western public.
The results will be screened nightly screenings at De Balie, in parallel N5M
will also host nightly panels and open discussion forums to debate and
reflect on the media coverage of the war and those opposing the war. These
discussions will be supplemented by a nightly digest of events from Amannet
and its director and (N5M editor) Daoud Kuttab. In the coming days output of
this aspect of N5M will be available at <>


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From: "geert lovink" <>
Subject: The obligatory Zizek text on the Iraq war...
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 10:54:26 +1100

by Slavoj Zizek

We all remember the old joke about the borrowed kettle which Freud 
quotes in order to render the strange logic of dreams, namely the 
enumeration of mutually exclusive answers to a reproach (that I 
returned to a friend a broken kettle): (1) I never borrowed a 
kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle 
was already broken when I got it from you. For Freud, such an 
enumeration of inconsistent arguments of course confirms per 
negationem what it endeavors to deny - that I returned you a 
broken kettle... Do we not encounter the same inconsistency when 
high US officials try to justify the attack on Iraq? (1) There is 
a link between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda, so Saddam should be 
punished as part of the revenge for 9/11; (2) even if there was no 
link between Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, they are united in their 
hatred of the US - Saddam's regime is a really bad one, a threat 
not only to the US, but also to its neighbors, and we should 
liberate the Iraqi people; (3) the change of regime in Iraq will 
create the conditions for the resolution of the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The problem is that there are TOO 
MANY reasons for the attack... Furthermore, one is almost tempted 
to claim that, within the space of this reference to the Freudian 
logic of dreams, the Iraqi oil supplies function as the famous 
"umbilical cord" of the US justification(s) - almost tempted, 
since it would perhaps be more reasonable to claim that there are 
also three REAL reasons for the attack: (1) the control of the 
Iraqi oil reserves; (2) the urge to brutally assert and signal the 
unconditional US hegemony; (3) the "sincere" ideological belief 
that the US are bringing to other nations democracy and 
prosperity. And it seems as if these three "real" reasons are the 
"truth" of the three official reasons: (1) is the truth of the 
urge to liberate Iraqis; (2) is the truth of the claim the attack 
on Iraq will help to resolve the Middle East conflict; (3) is the 
truth of the claim that there is a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. 
- And, incidentally, opponents of the war seem to repeat the same 
inconsistent logic: (1) Saddam is really bad, we also want to see 
him toppled, but we should give inspectors more time, since 
inspectors are more efficient; (2) it is all really about the 
control of oil and American hegemony - the true rogue state which 
terrorizes others are the US themselves; (3) even if successful, 
the attack on Iraq will give a big boost to a new wave of the 
anti-American terrorism; (4) Saddam is a murderer and torturer, 
his regime a criminal catastrophe, but the attack on Iraq destined 
to overthrow Saddam will cost too much...
The one good argument for war is the one recently evoked by 
Christopher Hitchens: one should not forget that the majority of 
Iraqis effectively are Saddam's victims, and they would be really 
glad to get rid of them. He was such a catastrophe for his country 
that an American occupation in WHATEVER form may seem a much 
brighter prospect to them with regard to daily survival and much 
lower level of fear. We are not talking here of "bringing Western 
democracy to Iraq," but just of getting rid of the nightmare 
called Saddam. To this majority, the caution expressed by Western 
liberals cannot but appear deeply hypocritical - do they really 
care about how the Iraqi people feel?

One can make even a more general point here: what about pro-Castro 
Western Leftists who despise what Cubans themselves call "gusanos 
/worms/," those who emigrated - but, with all sympathy for the 
Cuban revolution, what right does a typical middle class Western 
Leftist have to despise a Cuban who decided to leave Cuba not only 
because of political disenchantment, but also because of poverty 
which goes up to simple hunger? In the same vein, I myself 
remember from the early 1990s dozens of Western Leftists who 
proudly threw in my face how for them, Yugoslavia still exists, 
and reproached me for betraying the unique chance of maintaining 
Yugoslavia - to which I always answered that I am not yet ready to 
lead my life so that it will not disappoint Western Leftist 
dreams... There are effectively few things more worthy of 
contempt, few attitudes more ideological (if this word has any 
meaning today, it should be applied here) than a tenured Western 
academic Leftist arrogantly dismissing (or, even worse, 
"understanding" in a patronizing way) an Eastern European from a 
Communist country who longs for Western liberal democracy and some 
consumerist goods... However, it is all too easy to slip from this 
fact to the notion that "under their skin, Iraqis are also like 
us, and really want the same as we do." The old story will repeat 
itself: America brings to the people new hope and democracy, but, 
instead of hailing the US army, the ungrateful people do want it, 
they suspect a gift in the gift, and America then reacts as a 
child with hurt feelings because of the ingratitude of those it 
selflessly helped.
The underlying presupposition is the old one: under our skin, if 
we scratch the surface, we are all Americans, that is our true 
desire - so all is needed is just to give people a chance, 
liberate them from their imposed constraints, and they will join 
us in our ideological dream... No wonder that, in February 2003, 
an American representative used the word "capitalist revolution" 
to describe what Americans are now doing: exporting their 
revolution all around the world. No wonder they moved from 
"containing" the enemy to a more aggressive stance. It is the US 
which is now, as the defunct USSR was decades ago, the subversive 
agent of a world revolution. When Bush recently said "Freedom is 
not America's gift to other nations, it is god's gift to 
humanity," this apparent modesty nonetheless, in the best 
totalitarian fashion, conceals its opposite: yes, BUT it is 
nonetheless the US which perceives itself as the chosen instrument 
of distributing this gift to all the nations of the world!

The idea to "repeat Japan in 1945," to bring democracy to Iraq, 
which will then serve as model for the entire Arab world, enabling 
people to get rid of the corrupt regimes, immediately faces an 
insurmountable obstacle: what about Saudi Arabia where it is in 
the vital US interest that the country does NOT turn into 
democracy? The result of democracy in Saudi Arabia would have been 
either the repetition of Iran in 1953 (a populist regime with an 
anti-imperialist twist) or of Algeria a couple of years ago, when 
the "fundamentalists" WON the free elections.
There is nonetheless a grain of truth in Rumsfeld's ironic pun 
against the "old Europe." The French-German united stand against 
the US policy apropos Iraq should be read against the background 
of the French-German summit a month ago in which Chirac and 
Schroeder basically proposed a kind of dual Franco-German hegemony 
over the European Community. So no wonder that anti-Americanism is 
at its strongest in "big" European nations, especially France and 
Germany: it is part of their resistance to globalization. One 
often hears the complaint that the recent trend of globalization 
threatens the sovereignty of the Nation-States; here, however, one 
should qualify this statement: WHICH states are most exposed to 
this threat? It is not the small states, but the second-rate 
(ex-)world powers, countries like United Kingdom, Germany and 
France: what they fear is that, once fully immersed in the newly 
emerging global Empire, they will be reduced at the same level as, 
say, Austria, Belgium or even Luxembourg. The refusal of 
"Americanization" in France, shared by many Leftists and Rightist 
nationalists, is thus ultimately the refusal to accept the fact 
that France itself is losing its hegemonic role in Europe. The 
leveling of weight between larger and smaller Nation-States should 
thus be counted among the beneficial effects of globalization: 
beneath the contemptuous deriding of the new Eastern European 
post-Communist states, it is easy to discern the contours of the 
wounded Narcissism of the European "great nations." And this 
great-state-nationalism is not just a feature external to the 
(failure of) the present opposition; it affects the very way 
France and Germany articulated this opposition. Instead of doing, 
even more actively, precisely what Americans are doing - 
MOBILIZING the "new European" states on their own 
politico-military platform, ORGANIZING the common new front -, 
France and Germany arrogantly acted alone.
In the recent French resistance against the war on Iraq, there 
definitely is a clear echo of the "old decadent" Europe: escape 
the problem by non-acting, by new resolutions upon resolutions - 
all this reminiscent of the inactivity of the League of Nations 
against Germany in the 1930s. And the pacifist call "let the 
inspectors do their work" clearly IS hypocritical: they are only 
allowed to do the work because there is a credible threat of 
military intervention. Not to mention the French neocolonialism in 
Africa (from Congo-Brazzaville to the dark French role in the 
Rwanda crisis and massacres)? And about the French role in the 
Bosnian war? Furthermore, as it was made clear a couple of months 
ago, is it not clear that France and Germany worry about their own 
hegemony in Europe?

Is the war on Iraq not the moment of truth when the "official" 
political distinctions are blurred? Generally, we live in a 
topsy-turvy world in which Republicans freely spend money, 
creating record budget deficits, while Democrats practice budget 
balance; in which Republicans, who thunder against big government 
and preach devolution of power to states and local communities, 
are in the process of creating the strongest state mechanism of 
control in the entire history of humanity. And the same applies to 
post-Communist countries. Symptomatic is here the case of Poland: 
the most ardent supporter of the US politics in Poland is the 
ex-Communist president Kwasniewski (who is even mentioned as the 
future secretary of NATO, after George Robertson), while the main 
opposition to the participation of Poland in the anti-Iraq 
coalition comes from the Rightist parties. Towards the end of 
January 2003, the Polish bishops also demanded from the government 
that it should add to the contract which regulates the membership 
of Poland in the EU a special paragraph guaranteeing that Poland 
will "retain the right to keep its fundamental values as they are 
formulated in its constitution" - by which, of course, are meant 
the prohibition of abortion, of euthanasia and of the same-sex 

The very ex-Communist countries which are the most ardent 
supporters of the US "war on terror" deeply worry that their 
cultural identity, their very survival as nations, is threatened 
by the onslaught of cultural "americanization" as the price for 
the immersion into global capitalism - we thus witness the paradox 
of pro-Bushist anti-Americanism. In Slovenia, my own country, 
there is a similar inconsistency: the Rightist nationalist 
reproach the ruling Center-Left coalition that, although it is 
publicly for joining NATO and supporting the US anti-terrorist 
campaign, it is secretly sabotaging it, participating in it for 
opportunist reasons, not out of conviction. At the same time, 
however, it is reproaching the ruling coalition that it wants to 
undermine Slovene national identity by advocating full Slovene 
integration into the Westernized global capitalism and thus 
drowning Slovenes into contemporary Americanized pop-culture. The 
idea is that the ruling coalition sustains pop culture, stupid TV 
amusement, mindless consumption, etc., in order to turn Slovenes 
into an easily manipulated crowd unable of serious reflection and 
firm ethical posture... In short, the underlying motif is that the 
ruling coalition stands for the "liberal-Communist plot" : 
ruthless unconstrained immersion in global capitalism is perceived 
as the latest dark plot of ex-Communists enabling them to retain 
their secret hold on power.
The almost tragic misunderstanding is that the nationalists, on 
the one hand, unconditionally support NATO (under the US command), 
reproaching the ruling coalition with secretly supporting 
antiglobalists and anti-American pacifists, while, on the other 
hand, they worry about the fate of Slovene identity in the process 
of globalization, claiming that the ruling coalition wants to 
throw Slovenia into the global whirlpool, not worrying about the 
Slovene national identity. Ironically, the new emerging 
socio-ideological order these nationalist conservatives are 
bemoaning reads like the old New Left description of the 
"repressive tolerance" and capitalist freedom as the mode of 
appearance of unfreedom. Here, the example of Italy is crucial, 
with Berlusconi as prime minister: the staunchest supporter of the 
US AND the agent of the TV-idiotizing of the public opinion, 
turning politics into a media show and running a large 
advertisement and media company.

Where, then, do we stand with reasons pro et contra? Abstract 
pacifism is intellectually stupid and morally wrong - one has to 
stand up against a threat. Of course the fall of Saddam would have 
been a relief to a large majority of the Iraqi people. Even more, 
of course the militant Islam is a horrifying anti-feminist etc. 
ideology. Of course there is something of a hypocrisy in all the 
reasons against: the revolt should come from Iraqi people 
themselves; we should not impose our values on them; war is never 
a solution; etc. BUT, although all this is true, the attack is 
wrong - it is WHO DOES IT that makes it wrong. The reproach is: 
WHO ARE YOU TO DO THIS? It is not war or peace, it is the correct 
"gut feeling" that there is something terribly wrong with THIS 
war, that something will irretrievably change with it.
One of Jacques Lacan's outrageous statements is that, even if what 
a jealous husband claims about his wife (that she sleeps around 
with other men) is all true, his jealousy is still pathological; 
along the same lines, one could say that, even of most of the Nazi 
claims about the Jews were true (they exploit Germans, they seduce 
German girls...), their anti-Semitism would still be (and was) 
pathological - because it represses the true reason WHY the Nazis 
NEEDED anti-Semitism in order to sustain their ideological 
position. And the same should be said today, apropos of the US 
claim "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction!" - even if this 
claim is true (and it probably is, at least to some degree), it is 
still false with regard to the position from which it is 

Everyone fears the catastrophic outcome of the US attack on Iraq: 
an ecological catastrophe of gigantic proportions, high US 
casualties, a terrorist attack in the West... In this way, we 
already accept the US standpoint - and it is easy to imagine how, 
if the war will be over soon, in a kind of repetition of the 1990 
Gulf War, if Saddam's regime will disintegrate fast, there will be 
a universal sigh of relief even among many present critics of the 
US policy. One is even tempted to consider the hypothesis that the 
US are on purpose fomenting this fear of an impending catastrophe, 
counting on the universal relief when the catastrophe will NOT 
occur... This, however, is arguably the greatest true danger. That 
is to say, one should gather the courage to proclaim the opposite: 
perhaps, the bad military turn for the US would be the best thing 
that can happen, a sobering piece of bad news which would compel 
all the participants to rethink their position.

On 9/11 2001, the Twin Towers were hit; twelve years earlier, on 
11/9 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. 11/9 announced the "happy 90s," 
the Francis Fukuyama dream of the "end of history," the belief 
that liberal democracy has in principle won, that the search is 
over, that the advent of a global liberal world community lurks 
round the corner, that the obstacles to this ultra-Hollywood happy 
ending are just empirical and contingent, local pockets of 
resistance where the leaders did not yet grasp that their time is 
over; in contrast to it, 9/11 is the main symbol of the end of the 
Clintonite happy 90s, of the forthcoming era in which new walls 
are emerging everywhere, between Israel and the West Bank, around 
the European Union, on the US-Mexican border. The prospect of a 
new global crisis is looming: economic collapses, military and 
other catastrophes, emergency states...

And when politicians start to directly justify their decisions in 
ethical terms, one can be sure that ethics is mobilized to cover 
up such dark threatening horizons. It is the very inflation of 
abstract ethical rhetorics in George W. Bush's recent public 
statements (of the "Does the world have the courage to act against 
the Evil or not?" type) which manifests the utter ETHICAL misery 
of the US position - the function of ethical reference is here 
purely mystifying, it merely serves to mask the true political 
stakes, which are not difficult to discern. In their recent The 
War Over Iraq, William Kristol and Lawrence F. Kaplan wrote: "The 
mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there. /.../ We 
stand at the cusp of a new historical era. /.../ This is a 
decisive moment. /.../ It is so clearly about more than Iraq. It 
is about more even than the future of the Middle East and the war 
on terror. It is about what sort of role the United States intends 
to play in the twenty-first century." One cannot but agree with 
it: it is effectively the future of international community which 
is at stake now - the new rules which will regulate it, what the 
new world order will be. What is going on now is the next logical 
step of the US dismissal of the Hague court.

The first permanent global war crimes court started to work on 
July 1, 2002 in The Hague, with the power to tackle genocide, 
crimes against humanity and war crimes. Anyone, from a head of 
state to an ordinary citizen, will be liable to ICC prosecution 
for human rights violations, including systematic murder, torture, 
rape and sexual slavery, or, as Kofi Annan put it: "There must be 
a recognition that we are all members of one human family. We have 
to create new institutions. This is one of them. This is another 
step forward in humanity's slow march toward civilization." 
However, while human rights groups have hailed the court's 
creation as the biggest milestone for international justice since 
top Nazis were tried by an international military tribunal in 
Nuremberg after World War Two, the court faces stiff opposition 
 from the United States, Russia and China. The United States says 
the court would infringe on national sovereignty and could lead to 
politically motivated prosecutions of its officials or soldiers 
working outside U.S. borders, and the U.S. Congress is even 
weighing legislation authorizing U.S. forces to invade The Hague 
where the court will be based, in the event prosecutors grab a 
U.S. national. The noteworthy paradox here is that the US thus 
rejected the jurisdiction of a tribunal which was constituted with 
the full support (and votes) of the US themselves! Why, then, 
should Milosevic, who now sits in the Hague, not be given the 
right to claim that, since the US reject the legality of the 
international jurisdiction of the Hague tribunal, the same 
argumentation should hold also for him? And the same goes for 
Croatia: the US are now exerting tremendous pressure onto the 
Croat government to deliver to the Hague court a couple of its 
generals accused of war crimes during the struggles in Bosnia - 
the reaction is, of course, how can they ask this of US when THEY 
do not recognize the legitimacy of the Hague court? Or are the US 
citizens effectively "more equal than others"? If one simply 
universalizes the underlying principles of the Bush-doctrine, does 
India not have a full right to attack Pakistan? It does directly 
support and harbor anti-Indian terror in Kashmir, and it possesses 
(nuclear) weapons of mass destruction. Not to mention the right of 
China to attack Taiwan, and so on, with unpredictable 
Are we aware that we are in the midst of a "silent revolution," in 
the course of which the unwritten rules which determine the most 
elementary international logic are changing? The US scold Gerhardt 
Schroeder, a democratically elected leader, for maintaining a 
stance supported by a large majority of the population, plus, 
according to the polls in the mid-February, around 59% of the US 
population itself (who oppose strike against Iraq without the UN 
support). In Turkey, according to opinion polls, 94% of the people 
are opposed to allowing the US troops' presence for the war 
against Iraq - where is democracy here? Every old Leftist 
remembers Marx's reply, in The Communist Manifesto, to the critics 
who reproached the Communists that they aim at undermining family, 
property, etc.: it is the capitalist order itself whose economic 
dynamics is destroying the traditional family order (incidentally, 
a fact more true today than in Marx's time), as well as 
expropriating the large majority of the population. In the same 
vein, is it not that precisely those who pose today as global 
defenders of democracy are effectively undermining it? In a 
perverse rhetorical twist, when the pro-war leaders are confronted 
with the brutal fact that their politics is out of tune with the 
majority of their population, they take recourse to the 
commonplace wisdom that "a true leader leads, he does not follow" 
- and this from leaders otherwise obsessed with opinion polls...
The true dangers are the long-term ones. In what resides perhaps 
the greatest danger of the prospect of the American occupation of 
Iraq? The present regime in Iraq is ultimately a secular 
nationalist one, out of touch with the Muslim fundamentalist 
populism - it is obvious that Saddam only superficially flirts 
with the pan-Arab Muslim sentiment. As his past clearly 
demonstrates, he is a pragmatic ruler striving for power, and 
shifting alliances when it fits his purposes - first against Iran 
to grab their oil fields, then against Kuwait for the same reason, 
bringing against himself a pan-Arab coalition allied to the US - 
what Saddam is not is a fundamentalist obsessed with the "big 
Satan," ready to blow the world apart just to get him. However, 
what can emerge as the result of the US occupation is precisely a 
truly fundamentalist Muslim anti-American movement, directly 
linked to such movements in other Arab countries or countries with 
Muslim presence.
One can surmise that the US are well aware that the era of Saddam 
and his non-fundamentalist regime is coming to an end in Iraq, and 
that the attack on Iraq is probably conceived as a much more 
radical preemptive strike - not against Saddam, but against the 
main contender for Saddam's political successor, a truly 
fundamentalist Islamic regime. Yes in this way, the vicious cycle 
of the American intervention gets only more complex: the danger is 
that the very American intervention will contribute to the 
emergence of what America most fears, a large united anti-American 
Muslim front. It is the first case of the direct American 
occupation of a large and key Arab country - how could this not 
generate universal hatred in reaction? One can already imagine 
thousands of young people dreaming of becoming suicide bombers, 
and how that will force the US government to impose a permanent 
high alert emergency state... However, at this point, one cannot 
resist a slightly paranoid temptation: what if the people around 
Bush KNOW this, what if this "collateral damage" is the true aim 
of the entire operation? What if the TRUE target of the "war on 
terror" is the American society itself, i.e., the disciplining of 
its emancipatory excesses?
On March 5 2003, on "Buchanan & Press" news show on NBC, they 
showed on the TV screen the photo of the recently captured Khalid 
Shakh Mohammed, the "third man of al-Qaeda" - a mean face with 
moustaches, in an unspecified nightgown prison-dress, half opened 
and with something like bruises half-discernible (hints that he 
was already tortured?) -, while Pat Buchanan's fast voice was 
asking: "Should this man who knows all the names all the detailed 
plans for the future terrorist attacks on the US, be tortured, so 
that we get all this out of him?" The horror of it was that the 
photo, with its details, already suggested the answer - no wonder 
the response of other commentators and viewers' calls was an 
overwhelming "Yes!" - which makes one nostalgic of the good old 
days of the colonial war in Algeria when the torture practiced by 
the French Army was a dirty secret... Effectively, was this not a 
pretty close realization of what Orwell imagined in 1984, in his 
vision of "hate sessions," where the citizens are shown photos of 
the traitors and supposed to boo and yell at them. And the story 
goes on: a day later, on another Fox TV show, a commentator 
claimed that one is allowed to do with this prisoner whatever, not 
only deprive him of sleep, but break his fingers, etc.etc., 
because he is "a piece of human garbage with no rights 
whatsoever." THIS is the true catastrophe: that such public 
statements are today possible.
We should therefore be very attentive not to fight false battles: 
the debates on how bad Saddam is, even on how much the war will 
cost, etc., are false debates. The focus should be on what 
effectively goes on in our societies, on what kind of society is 
emerging HERE as the result of the "war on terror." Instead of 
talking about hidden conspirative agendas, one should shift the 
focus onto what is going on, onto what kind of changes are taking 
place here and now. The ultimate result of the war will be a 
change in OUR political order.
The true danger can be best exemplified by the actual role of the 
populist Right in Europe: to introduce certain topics (the foreign 
threat, the necessity to limit immigration, etc.) which were then 
silently taken over not only by the conservative parties, but even 
by the de facto politics of the "Socialist" governments. Today, 
the need to "regulate" the status of immigrants, etc., is part of 
the mainstream consensus: as the story goes, le Pen did address 
and exploit real problems which bother people. One is almost 
tempted to say that, if there were no le Pen in France, he should 
have been invented: he is a perfect person whom one loves to hate, 
the hatred for whom guarantees the wide liberal "democratic pact," 
the pathetic identification with democratic values of tolerance 
and respect for diversity - however, after shouting "Horrible! How 
dark and uncivilized! Wholly unacceptable! A threat to our basic 
democratic values!", the outraged liberals proceed to act like "le 
Pen with a human face," to do the same thing in a more "civilized" 
way, along the lines of "But the racist populists are manipulating 
legitimate worries of ordinary people, so we do have to take some 
We do have here a kind of perverted Hegelian "negation of 
negation": in a first negation, the populist Right disturbs the 
aseptic liberal consensus by giving voice to passionate dissent, 
clearly arguing against the "foreign threat"; in a second 
negation, the "decent" democratic center, in the very gesture of 
pathetically rejecting this populist Right, integrates its message 
in a "civilized" way - in-between, the ENTIRE FIELD of background 
"unwritten rules" has already changed so much that no one even 
notices it and everyone is just relieved that the anti-democratic 
threat is over. And the true danger is that something similar will 
happen with the "war on terror": "extremists" like John Ashcroft 
will be discarded, but their legacy will remain, imperceptibly 
interwoven into the invisible ethical fabric of our societies. 
Their defeat will be their ultimate triumph: they will no longer 
be needed, since their message will be incorporated into the 

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