'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Invisible Iraqis 

Interestingly, over the course of the war and the occupation, network news anchors worried about a great many things, but the horrific consequences for the people of Iraq never seemed to penetrate their consciousness. Apparently, the Iraqis have not been dehumanized, in the manner of fascism, but rather, ignored to the point of invisibility.

US news coverage of this conflict will be remembered for an ethnocentric narcissism that emphasized that deaths of Americans in thousands, while diminishing the importance of the deaths of Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands. Perhaps, there is cruel equation here: the death of one American is more important, more of a loss to be mourned, than the deaths of a hundred Iraqis.

After all, the loss of an American is the loss of someone who sits at the epicenter of the global neoliberal system, a recipient of its privileges, and, potentially, even a captain of it, while the Iraqis are merely, like millions of others in the lesser developed world, part of that great reserve of surplus labor that facilitates the expropriation and exploitation that makes it all possible.

As we face the prospect of unleashing another grotesque wave of violence upon the neigboring people of Iran, with possibly even more nightmarish outcomes, one must ask the impertinent question: how many deaths must be inflicted by the US before the finance capitalists who run the world become fearful about the loss of sufficient excess labor to generate their speculative profits?

Obviously, 600,000 to 900,000 Iraqis (and, maybe, if current estimates are correct, over 1,000,000) are not enough. Would deaths in the tens of millions cause them to hesitate in their support for military neoliberalism? Or, would it have to be over a billion? Or, do they profit sufficiently from militarism that there is no number that would generate even momentary concern?

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