Saturday, June 11, 2016
CRAIG EDWARD KELSO, Concepción Picciotto the American Conscience
It should be uncontroversial to mention bravery, honor, duty have exactly zero to do with hitching one's id and ego to an insect-like super organism, to a country, a military, a stupid fucking flag.
It should be.
A lot of things should be, and yet ...
Governments are a jealous god, never ceasing in their need for adulation, purpose, and ultimate legitimacy. What can exactly they point to as a necessary reason for their existence, for that catch-all reason to rule you as a violent monopoly?
Roads private citizens can engineer quite nicely, thanks. Education is far superior out of government hands. Personal private security is the envy of the world, and so even the rationale for government policing fades after a minute's sober reflection.
War. War is that First Mover Argument, the ontology to beat any other kind of metaphysics. Readers might nod in agreement how private works can make our lives better in nearly all spheres, or at least entertain the idea, but in things National Security ... well, now I am just being daft, careless, radically utopian.
Randolph Bourne an early 20th century American journalist became sickened by World War I. It was a time of choosing for progressives of that era, as they'd hitched their wagon, as is their wont, to pointed headed intellectualism, to Wilsonianism, to a kind of martialiality they'd never be able to shake (the Obama years, as a most recent example saw an utter dearth of antiwar progressives, even in the wake of massive atrocities -- they'd gone back to bed, convinced President Black Jesus was acting from a space of benevolence).
Bourne's posthumous essay reflection on the nature of government in his day hit upon the morsel of how "War is the health of the state." And that's it, really. War is what governments do. It's their main reason.
The entire business, then, of striking at the root of governmentalism comes down to war. And for sure there is no more sour taste in a reader's mind palate than to read criticism of government with regard to its uniformed hordes.
It's much, much easier to excuse oneself from the conversation. It's much easier to toss off a line about supporting troops but not war (an absurdity on its face). It's much easier to post pictures of old fellows marching down main street in full salute.
María de la Inmaculada Concepción Martín might very well have been insane. It's hard to know what exact circumstances were surrounding her life, but she seemed to have given it all up as a matter of conscience somewhere around the early 1980s.
Then, she was to remain known as Concepción Picciotto, a frail shock of a woman who set up camp just outside of the White House, protesting looming nuclear proliferation. What might've started as a rash plea soon became her life's work, confronting tourists to government's center of gravity, to the machinery of war.
She protested there for 35 years, eventually dying of the years' exposure.
Every war, every intervention, every This Time It Is Different, as a visitor to DC, or even a lawmaker or foreign representative, Concepción's dogged love for peace stuck out in often hand painted signs.
There isn't any doubt in my mind she was dismissed as a lunatic. Why, she never marched around in parade! She never owned a government-issued arm! She never wore a government costume! She never sucked off of taxpayer funds and then demanded to be thanked, continuously! How could she be a hero!
At every point of history, there were those who refused. Every point. You'll often read historians excuse their favorite persons due to 'that time.' No. There were abolitionists when chattel slavery was in vogue. There were those who cautioned against burning the witch.
There have always been peacemakers.
Celebrate them. Go out of your way to find them. They exist. No war, not even your precious World War II, did as much to save lives, to improve life individually or in the aggregate as those who urged peace.
Concepción Picciotto should be celebrated, and not your uncle who couldn't get a real job.
And I mean it.