The Libya decision will be revealed, predictably, to have been a very American decision – instrumentalizing military force on behalf of political-economic popular sovereignty (i.e., “freedom”) against a vulnerable tyranny, in cooperation with allies, with “respect for the opinions of mankind.” It entailed risks and real human costs while shifting them from one group to another – as would every other decision. It may even have been the “wrong” decision from other perspectives. If so, that conclusion would not necessarily imply that there was a simply “right” or “better” decision to be made, or that the American president can be asked or expected to give every or any other perspective higher or equal priority.
The zombie is a perhaps only slightly exaggerated version of the slave or other member of the lower orders from the perspective of the privileged. Like the hungry poor, the zombies confront the responsible citizen as insatiably ravenous mouths to feed, the “unreasoning mob” itself, human as less than human, pure destructive appetite. At the same time, the terrifying joy of the zombie movie, like the terrifying joy both of other apocalyptic genres and of the slave revolt, lies in the destruction of one form of inhumanity by the other that it has produced, or is produced from it. We witness or continually re-experience the liberating annihilation of the whole constricted, compromised, and evil world, all of its inequities, and all of its false values.
If Mitt Romney as presidential candidate is driven by a religious – indeed, prophetic and messianic – mission too closely held and too easily misunderstood for public words, then its essential convergence with the politics of the Republican right would be of more than biographical, cultural, or esoteric interest: It amounts to the consolidation of a new theo-political establishment waiting only for a mass-electoral mandate.
I’m still completing a new post somewhat “spun off” from the last one, so don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I’d like to note Lee M.’s reply “American henotheism revisited,” in which he introduces what I agree is an important distinction, perhaps the crux of the matter.
It may not be impossible to win over the electorate without invoking the deity by name, just as it may not be impossible to please a lover without saying “I love you,” or to work magic without a spell, or to meditate without a mantra, but the strain will tend to be evident, will tend to awaken suspicions, and may generally increase the likelihood of failure.
The problem of ecologism can be conceived as a kind of spirituality because it hinges on the self. The Grand Mandate of Ecology is this: Attempts to change the natural world to one’s liking are ultimately counterproductive, and the prescription is to recognize that the self is dependent on an Earth-economy that is too complex to be willed into submission. It’s hard for me to not see strains of Christianity in this (or Buddhism or Islam, but I’m compelled to stick with what I’m most familiar), and indeed many Christian primitivists equate industrialization with original sin.