Let’s face it: we live in a state of pervasive national security anxiety. There are various possible responses to this low-grade fever that saps resolve, but first we have to face the basis for that anxiety -- what I’ve come to think of as the Big Dick School of Patriotism, or (since anything having to do with our present version of national security, even a critique of it, has to have an acronym) the BDSP.
The infusion of Mars-ruled militarism that has become wholly woven into the fabric of American life indeed is a Big Dick thing. That's why it's sad to see a female writer make NO attempt to couple this phenomena with patriarchy, pornography, and the mindset that more often than not generates from dominant males. Too many confuse tokenism for equality. In their glaring lack of profundity, they mistake the few Blacks or women invited into the increasingly militarized ranks of government (in the MIC state) with equality and/or integration. In reality, these individuals are being allowed in to give the illusion of diversity.
The system is about power and dominance. For the most part, it's in the hands of Caucasian males (of $/means).
Also infuriating is this wondering aloud why media so glorifies all those heroic troops and why Hollywood produces movies that work from Biblical themes of cut-out good and cut-out evil and program a percentage of the masses, accordingly. It just so happens that the Biblical-fundamentalist types latch onto the new Crusades version of a Middle East war far more than thinking persons do.
Ms. Levinson also falls into the inane trap that takes what is BEING propagandized unto a people through mass media, religious institutions, government officials, major sporting events and extrapolates from all this overt and covert conditioning that same all-inclusive WE frame that makes dissent invisible.
Helen Caldicott is a writer with far more insight into the analogy between male power, phallic weapons, and this idea of using raw force to assert who's the biggest, baddest dicked dude. THAT is not a female conception nor can it apply to women. Therefore, it's more than sad to see a female writer make use of the frame and through it, to make patriarchal misogyny invisible.
It's impossible to know if people who traffic in these uniform frames are themselves authoritarians who can't see beyond them; paid to disseminate disinformation that appears to condemn when in reality, it reinforces the status quo while also missing the fact that MILLIONS of people do not identify with these frames.
Who benefits from the Dominator Society? Certainly not those being dominated by it or feeling its boot through lousy jobs, lousy schools, a criminal justice system more criminal than just, fake elections, destruction of nature and so much else. MANY of us do not identify with militarism of its mindset being unleashed on nature (as capitalistic resource extraction) or anywhere else.
"Yet separate from us as those soldiers may be, they’re still our troops, our movie heroes, and (I suspect) our source of guilt, because they fought our wars while we were otherwise engaged."
Speak for yourself. The OUR frame is just as misplaced as the WE frame. It mistakes what the powers who govern The Dominator Culture (along with the Paradigm based on Domination) wish to make true. In other words, it takes those who're being programmed and doesn't bother to differentiate them from The Program... or mention those who are fighting it. Opposition takes place in many ways... not all of which are visible or understood.
"This spreading send-in-the-Marines mentality -- one form of the post-9/11 BDSP way of life -- keeps us from a reasonable assessment of the best uses of our military forces."
It's also known as Mars rules and exposes how FAR out of balance (between Yin and Yang co-equal forces) the U.S. government-military-corporate alliance is and is conditioning much of the nation to be.
"In the end, maybe the Big Dick School of Patriotism comes down to this: we embrace the idea of an all-powerful military because at a time when the world seems such a fragile and hostile place, if even our military won’t keep us safe, who will?"
No, sis... WE don't embrace the idea of an all-powerful military, men who want big dicks do. Sadly, women raised in Conservative Christian homes may be conditioned to accept Patriarchy's program.
This article is ridiculous! It reminds me of programs about weather not mentioning Global Warming. Here, a woman writer picks up the Big Dick frame to apply it to war and seems to miss the fact that WOMEN--i.e. half the population--have no inner requirement (or psychological need) to measure themselves against the Big Dick premise.
MEN do that. MEN are serial Killers. Men buy most guns. Men are responsible for most violence. Men rape. Men consume porn that turns women's bodies into virtual toilets.
This is not about WE.
This is about patriarchy and what MEN do when the FEMALE side of the force has been left out of the equation...
Women who seek out positions within Patriarchy's pro-war, anti-life & anti-nature paradigm are NOT making any changes to it. They are being subsumed by it.
Ugh. Is "The Nation" afraid of the other F word (Feminist)?
In keeping with both the tasteless title of this article and the somewhat hysterical tone of the comments so far, I am tempted to say, "hey, just relax and try to enjoy it and it won't seem so bad".
The truth of the matter is that human nature has two flawed sides masculine and feminine and no useful purpose is served trying to blame everything on men or masculinity.
Is the title any more tasteless than the New American Century?
Great piece by Ms. Levinson.
Yes, the military cheerleaders and all of their accomplices in the media toot a nice whistle. Something, though, is consistently forgotten,
or at least pushed to the side: The vaunted US military machine has not prevailed since 1945. Maybe that's why the military
is so deeply idolized. I'll grant the soldiers and sailors make a great effort; they see their duty, and they do it. But still, the hundreds of billions tossed to the
"warriors" hasn't produced any results, except for the enrichment of the defense industry and its' stockholders. When was the last time a cadre of
commandants were paraded to a table, to sign a surrender document? All the big dicks ought to look into some "manly" construction projects - like highways, port facilities, passenger railroads, schools....
Walk softly , but carry a BIG Stick goes way back. America North, South and Central has been an Imperial / expansionist Enterprise since Chris Colombo stepped foot in the Bahamas.
The BIG mistake we made was ending the draft. What were finding out the hard way is a Professional military needs War to prosper and advance and then over time it becomes the enemy of its own people in most cases.
Agreed. It is a fine article and aligns very well with George Carlin's great routine where he also talked about swinging a big dick as a way of justifying war. That show is available on YouTube. I also remember what Graham Nash sang -
"Military madness is killing our country."
Yes, it is, from the inside out as we are bankrupted financially, morally and spiritually. The U.S. military is a servant of U.S. empire and it will always be looking for reasons to justify its obscene budgets and the extreme violence it perpetrates abroad. Also, it is providing a huge amount of military-grade weapons and vehicles for the police of this country so that the police state that we are all concerned about is even more likely to occur.
"The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Good article, thank you; but I want to add something.
Like the rest of the readers here, over the past thirteen years, I've read article after article and book after book about war-related matters: articles about the American attacks against Iraq and Afghanistan and the occupations of both countries, articles about Blackwater and the other "private contractors", articles about the drone killings, articles about the life and reputed death of Osama bin Laden, articles about the military-industrial complex, and about anything and everything connected to the overall terror issue.
To put is another way, I've read widely, if not wisely, among the thousands of post-September 11, 2001 articles about what happened as a result of the events of September 11, 2001.
I've read articles from the right and the left and the center; from the right about how good it was, well not perfect but really good; and from the center how unfortunately necessary it all was but at least the economy is bla bla; and from the left how sad it all is, and how against our highest principles, snif snif boo hoo; but what can you do?
And from the far left, such as it is, which is small but true, have come only a very, very few strong voices- Cindy Sheehan, the IVAW, the members of Code Pink, - and others of course- stand out for me as examples of genuine peace activism. The people who went to the drone bases and got jailed, and others. Sure. But they are too few. Otherwise there has been almost no real opposition to the wars and the growing militarism.
As we all know by now, the Left of the Sixties is not even a ghost of its former self but basically only a memory among a gradually perishing group of old-time hard-core activists, former draft resisters, deserters, and ever-optimistic old hippies upon whose shoulders the weight of pessimism has been long growing, for it has come to seem impossible to defeat the great evil behemoth of violence which, after September 11, 2001, came to rule this country and is attempting to rule the world.
My opinion is that this behemoth can only be defeated by a collapse within itself of some form.
But trying to visualize what form such a failure or collapse of the whole violence-based and lie-based system would take is the point at which I hit the metaphorical brick wall of How.
I can't imagine a series of events which would bring down the Might Makes Right monster which has taken over more firmly, and it seems more permanently, than ever before in the history of the United States.
In one view, this monster that has taken over (which shows its form to us in such events as torture incidents, massacres, and the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad) could be seen as an entity made up of all-too-human traitors working in a quite large conspiracy, one that has become so open that it is generally thought of (if not actually called) as "policy"- not "sedition", or "treason", or "conspiracy", as it perhaps properly should be called.
That is to say, on September 11, 2001, maybe there was a coup and a tremendous shift in the power balance in the United States government.
Some have called it a "policy coup". But such a term is not inclusive enough and rather too tame for what appears to have happened- a fundamental shift in government, not some will o' the wisp that doesn't matter.
It was- it is- unlike the typical coup, as most people would think of it, since there were no south American generals yelling in Spanish; there was no overt military uprising, obviously, seizing control of the civilian government, in any way with which we are familiar from the past.
What seems to have happened on that day could maybe be boiled down to this:
"Mr. Bush, meet your new boss. Here are your new instructions", and it went from there.
Everybody says he or she hates the war- almost everyone. Some people like to celebrate violence and killing, but most Americans would say that war is bad, if sometimes necessary.
But this is almost entirely mere lip service- it is like, "Oh, the war is so bad. Isn't it just terrible? Hey, let's order a pizza and get a movie!"
Today, few Americans, relative to the Vietnam years, personally know even a serving soldier in the conflict, let alone knew a dead or injured one.
The 300 million-plus population, in comparison to the number of American deaths, explains that quite easily.
And so the wars have been the burden of the select few instead of the burden of the rotating and replacing many- as the article's words about the draft explain very well.
But Americans love something more than they don't love war.
They love television more than they don't love war.
Having television every day is more important to the vast majority of Americans than caring about the war and whether it is right or wrong or justified.
As long as they can watch whatever show they want to watch, forget reality. Reality is depressing and a bore, when TV is available.
So, it should be quite clear, to anyone who has been paying attention, that our nation is a land of television addicts who need to have TV every day, even if there is no milk for the baby and no money for the rent and not even bus fare in the house. The roof might leak and the kids wear hand-me-downs but you can be sure there will be a television.
I suspect that makers of policy in Washington and wherever else they hide know that Americans love television above everything else- except possibly alcohol, greasy food, and contact sports- and they also know that it is possible to train Americans to think and feel certain ways, by means of talking to their minds- conscious and subconscious- via the television.
But what about this: aren't Americans wise to propaganda? After all, Americans know about the Nazis and the Soviets, and how bad Pravda was, and how the poor Russians and the poor Chinese and whoever are just lied to and indoctrinated and conditioned and led and controlled and "re-educated" by government propaganda.
Americans know about this. Americans believe something like "thank the (fill in the blank) that we have a free democracy, a country without that sort of evil commie nazi stuff".
And so, perhaps Americans believe that with such foreknowledge, they are not vulnerable to propaganda-- that is, if it even existed in the United States; and, of course, it doesn't (they think)- because this is America Such a Great Country (TM).
So a new form of propaganda had to be devised, that would not be immediately identified as anything resembling the popular conception of Nazi, Soviet, or Chinese Communist propaganda.
It had to be propaganda that didn't look like propaganda.
Since it was to be developed by people who have the disease that tells them that they don't have a disease, this seems cosmically fitting.
And so, it was developed, and is in effect, and is such advanced propaganda that only the most paranoid, on edge, and jumpy people, such as myself, are hypervigilant enough to catch a tenth of it as it goes by.
And the masses? -who have jobs- Ha! They don't even notice. Their re-education medicine goes down smooth as GatorAde.
Thus are our fellow citizens softly coerced, nudged, eased, into a new way of thinking- guided by a firm paternal hand- or rather, voice- from the television- into a world view far from Mayberry, including the bottomless "evil of islamic fundamentalism", its reputed full identity with terrorism, and the "fact" [it isn't] that "they" "attacked our way of life" on Sept. 11; thus are our fellow citizens alternately lulled and scared into a kind of PTSD state of constant apprehension of swarthy non-Christian foreigners, fearsome, demonic, as bad as devils themselves, coming to get us.
My point is- I'm rambling, having had too little sleep- is that with all the anti-war, anti-militarism articles, books, videos, one big thing is almost always missing, and that is a rational examination of what actually did and didn't happen on that fateful day in September; an examination, an investigation about what could and what could not have happened; and what HAD to have happened, for certain other things, that are confirmed, to happen; and finally- this is our national stumbling block- what that means, once the inevitable conclusions of this investigation are reached.
American journalism, even on the supposed Left or from the so-called liberals, may decry the war, and criticize torture, and bemoan the drones; but with rare exceptions it will not take two or three hours of a reporter's time to look into the way the Twin towers were constrcted, and what forces were necessary to turn them into dust in fifteen seconds.
The result is- to make a metaphor out of it- the country is like a living room with an elephant in it and the elephant has not been let into the yard for thirteen years and so you can't even see it any more because of the elephant shit. The walls are past bursting with the elephant shit.
American "journalism" stands outside the steaming heap, at a safe distance, and talks about how if so and so hadn't lied maybe there wouldn't be so much of a pile, and some talk about the smell, and how awful it is, and how someone should do something, and what could be causing it?...
I'm sure you see where this is going. No one will point out that there is an elephant there, shitting in the house; and if it wasn't there, all the rest of the bad things wouldn't be there either, and the house would be fine.
But how to get rid of this horrible pile?
No one stops to consider what caused it. The real cause, that is.
Once, in a story, an old man was asked about how many children he had sired. "More'n a dozen, at least...but then, me and Ma got to figurin' out what was a-causing it!"
Well, the wars and the Blackwater thing and the drone attacks and every other blasted thing are all different parts of that big pile of elephant turds, and there is no sense cleaning up any of it until
A. we stop feeding the elephant
b when the elephant has lost enough weight, it can be moved out of the house, and the house rebuilt.
But first, Americans have to get it in their minds that it is important to know what caused the elephant pile, and not to believe any fairy tale they are told by people in suits or uniforms appearing on television on what is mistakenly called "news" programming.
Americans need the education it would take for them to realize that concrete and steel do not just come apart unless they are blown up.
No one worries that a truck hitting the overpass pillar will cause all the bridge to turn to a big cloud of powder and go over half the county.
But they believe essentially just that about September 11, because, among other reasons, American public education has shamefully failed in its job, and deceived 13 years of students with a grave lie, because the subject has been taboo to teach in school- oh yes, I know, no one talks about that.
This is a really good article. You have made it unusable by giving it that title. How can I post to Facebook when half of my family is in the military, and the other half post pro-military, sniper-glorification articles. Calling patrotism fanatics "dicks" is not going to make them give me the benefit of the doubt by reading what I post!
I agree! Using sexual terms to discuss a love of violence is not necessary and not useful in finding a solution.
I disagree, our country is male dominated and male culture of violence, sports (a substitute for war) and domination.
It is so tiresome and it must be defeated. And yes, it is all about who has the biggest dick. That's it in a nutshell.
Sounds as though you have bigger problems than deciding what to post on Facebook.
Thank you Nan Levinson. That was a good one. I must say after 9/11 there was a large and strong antiwar movement.millions marched and marched, until they realized they were wasting their time.The media ignored them. Often the only people who knew that a march had taken place were the people who had marched..When the media did cover somethings they lied about it. They would give a small number of demonstrators, and back up their words by showing video of a small edge of a large crowd. They would pan in on a socialist organizations banners,or some grungy looking people , to show the TV viewers that these people are not like us. The only difference between today and Vietnam War demonstrations is that we had honest news coverage about things than. Without news coverage the demonstrations are meaningless and people got tired of wasting their time.The progressive movement resurfaced for a shot time with Occupy Wall Street. Our militarized police beat, shot, gassed, clubbed and falsely arrested thousands of peaceful people who were only exercising their constitutional rights. The media convinced the public that the police did a good thing. Intelligent people seriously talk about the public not being concerned with war, and injustice. I think these people are watching to much television. I am afraid that the next time our out of touch government sees the progressive movement, they will be tearing the walls down. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." John F. Kennedy
Nan Levinson has a great point of view and I think I will be able to share some of her thoughts in a discussion on the subject of BDSP.
Siouxrose, you have a good different slant.
Here is mine: A person rendered powerless, can have an appetite for power. I believe males are abused at an astonishing rate and with intensity. When you add "the good old boy's club" and that glass ceiling, there is an atmosphere of genuflecting, kneeling to that culture. We are only beginning to have a dialogue about abused males. When we stop the abuse of our boys, we will be stopping the abuse of our females.
And let us not forget the role testosterone plays every day in 'powering' that dick. Always amuses me to hear men talk about the debilitating force of estrogen once a month (PMS) when their hormones are constantly pumping.
I agree also with the idea that the revoking of the draft was bad. When it's a question of sending your own child, the game changes BUT it has to be fair with no wiggle room for the rich and there's the rub.