The front page of the local press today was covered with a large photographic depiction of Saddam Hussein and emblazoned with Saddam executed. For me, the question is are they are others out there who are, whilst not ‘surprised’ – for lack of a better word – at the somewhat common fetishising of murder in the name of justice, basing their opposition to this state sanctioned murder on a considered reasoning?
I feel, perhaps panoptically, a need to contextualise. I am not a denier or conspiracy theorist. He was a horrible person who committed many many atrocities. The charge of ‘crimes against humanity’ that much of the press has recounted is perhaps quite apt. I will also state that I am not going to critically engage with the US’s financial support for his rule for many long and brutal years… any surprises there?
That all said, I hope – perhaps very foolishly – that the seeds of cognitive dissonance are either being planted or starting to sprout for many in the ‘west’. The basis for this will become clear. First I will outline why I am strongly opposed to this state sanctioned murder – along with all political executions. I use the term political in a broad sense here to explain I recall a line from an early-mid 90s Australian politico-industrial band Insurge: I see no prisoners, I see performing political prisoners…
Saddam Hussein was hung for his ‘crimes’, as are many others. Others still are incarcerated, manipulated be hegemonic ‘norms’ or otherwise punished via varying degrees of explicit and overt means. The notion of punishment is the societal response to someone doing something considered wrong. As such, we should not do something considered wrong because we will be punished. So we do not do things out of a fear of punishment – a culture of fear.
The notion of being just, considerate and responsible people in our everyday interpersonal relations has become very very lost in our fear-based societies. I am not moralising religiously here. The church (many many variants) are also responsible for such fear based self regulation and impositions – I was however pleased that the pope publicly opposed Saddam’s execution (I am not aware of the exact articulated basis for this). A fear of going to hell if immoral, a fear of going to gaol/jail if one breaks ‘societies’ (i.e. largely white upper class male deduced, written and imposed) laws, a fear of what others will think of our actions. All these are interlinked via this basis of fear that so explicitly, hegemonically and panoptically shape the everyday experiences of so many.
Where am I going with this? I am opposed to Saddam’s execution – outside of all my criticisms of the ‘law’, socio-political events and to notion of the law per se. Executing someone can only lead to people not doing something out of fear. For me, if we really want to move in a positive, affirmative and foundationally sound society we cannot continue to function within such a dualistic paradigm. The imposed hierarchy of such an approach, alongside the implicit competition and penis-size battles that very often result, cannot aid in leading to such a basis – unless the potential for cognitive dissonance is highly valued.
Imagine a society where people do things, to recall Aristotle from memory, based on a notion of the common good and justicia – where what we think of our individual actions matter. Some might react to thinking this a s dangerous. It can be. We need fundamental and sweeping change away from the current hyper masculine, patriarchal and hierarchical paradigms fostered by the consumer capital and religious indoctrinations so deeply engrained in many current societies. If we lived in a society where people valued each other, mutual cooperation and a sense of fairness (very broad, simplistic, though makes the point) our individual basis for actions and judgment would fundamentally change. I do not want to go into this more here – I was more writing to express my views and provide an alternative to the mainstream press’ deference’s to a notion ‘justice’ having been done… I can add a link to a someone else’s writings I often read (they do not know this yet) and their recent thoughts on ‘Red Emma and why the masses are dumb‘. Quoting Emma Goldman:
It requires less mental effort to condemn than to think… Rather than to go to the bottom of any given idea, to examine into its origin and meaning, most people will either condemn it altogether, or rely on some superficial or prejudicial definition of non-essentials
I could add more, though you could get this by reading it… To surmise, we live in a society based on fear. As such, is it any wonder that people react with fear to such events as the imposed wake up call of the deaths in the WTC and the resulting realisations and eye openings of the blinkered US (and other western) citizenries? The common, yet apt, bastardised cliché from Mohandis K. Gandhi – an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
Fear and the notion of retribution go hand in hand – what peeves me more is when those who proclaim to be aware or progressive to a degree embody such notions… that is another story for another time. For now I will sit back, read the mainstream press and rant to myself about it all.