Tuesday, February 9, 2010

what was habeas corpus?

“The National Security State is in permanent constitutional crisis.”
Garry Wills, Bomb Power, 2010

Wills traces the development of the US national security state from the Manhattan Project to the continuing so-called war on terror. He emphasizes its illegality, its violation of the US Constitution.

Given that demagogues like Glenn Beck are constantly waving and thumping the constitution on the airwaves of fear and hate, Wills’ intervention is absolutely necessary and vital.

But it will be necessary to go beyond the role of the fetishization of founders and foundings in the race-baiting and hate-mongering discourse of tea parties, and beyond even the categories of legality and constitution, to clarify what has happened and continues to happen.

For although he notes in passing the orgies of profiteering that have shadowed the war machine, the horizon of Wills’ analysis stops short of that “automatic subject” and “animated monster” we know from Das Kapital.

The real problem that collectively constrains us is not the character and actions of the US state, as destructive as these are. The real problem is the master logic generated by capitalist modernity itself, and the challenge is to grasp the mediations between this logic and its contemporary appearance-forms (of which, US imperium is at the moment the most visibly active and exemplary).

Coming posts will attempt little essays in this direction – so far as time, energy and courage last.

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