Sunday, September 5, 2010

Line of best fit

Melissa McEwan, on the Discovery bomber (all links original):
Thus has the meme that Lee was a leftwing terrorist begun.

But, of course, it's not quite that simple. Lee's manifesto is indeed leftwing insomuch as environmental protection has become associated with the left since conservatives haven't been particularly interested in conservation since Nixon started the EPA. Lee's eliminationist views on immigration, however, are closely aligned with several prominent rightwing anti-immigration groups, and his position on human population control ("NO MORE BABIES!") is, suffice it to say, profoundly anti-choice.

Like most of the other domestic terrorists who have struck recently, there's not a totally cohesive ideology underlying his actions. He is certainly more left-leaning than, say, Joseph Stack, but, like Stack, it's a mixed bag of grievances.
For McEwan, committed liberal, everyone is either a liberal, a conservative, or someone lacking a "cohesive ideology." Now, one might say that lacking a cohesive ideology is a good thing, but that's kind of irrelevant, because James Lee did have one, as anyone reading his manifesto without the blinders of the false left-right divide can tell.

There are portions of his ideology one might agree with or disagree with to a greater or lesser extent (I for one wish he had taken the power structures of civilization more into consideration when deeming all of humanity parasitic; there is a large difference in parasitism between a member of an indigenous society still living on their landbase, someone like me typing away on my computer in my climate controlled house, and a member of the elite, steering the course of war and industry from their climate controlled estate; and also, yeah, the immigration stuff is what I would consider deeply misguided). There are certainly aspects of his methods that leave something to be desired. His specific points of obsessive focus--Discovery, Daniel Quinn--are sometimes a bit puzzling. But to say that his thoughts weren't "cohesive" is simply untrue.

The sycophants of power will always distort and belittle the motives of those who oppose power, and they don't even have the decency to stop when power mows its opponents down. James Lee seems to have had some difficulties, and while I am not exactly opposed to turning the violence of power upon itself, I think perhaps his was not the best way to do it. But that is no reason to claim, or to imply, that he didn't know what he was doing, or that his mind was a mess and so the points he raises can be dismissed. The scales are different, but it's the same reasoning that calls suicide bombers "cowardly," calls WTO protesters breaking windows "violent thugs," or defines anarchy as "chaos"--and chaos as terrifying.

Everyone, to some degree, internalizes the needs of power. It is important, when we see this happening in ourselves (and we should always be looking for this), to root it out and destroy it. Don't define yourself along the left-right split, because the very words are lies. If you have what some would call a non-cohesive ideology, you're doing something right.

7 comments:

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Dan said...

Not to get all, "tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1996" on you, but this (for the most part) could've been easily been written about Ted Kaczynski, back in the day.

Ethan said...

It certainly could have been, though now I'm wondering what implication you're drawing from that....I can see several possibilities...

Dan said...

Well, that thought first popped into my head (helped by a few Sunday afternoon beers) when I read "while I am not exactly opposed to turning the violence of power upon itself, I think perhaps his was not the best way to do it." So, no real implication beyond a stray thought that I had being just a lil' bit drunk.

That said, my friends hate it when I point out that we're responsible for more murder than he is because we've paid more taxes.

Ethan said...

Ah, OK, I am of understanding now. I'll have to try that line ("responsible for more murder...") on some people I know and see how they respond.

Randal Graves said...

Forgive me for being beyond simplistic (and not wanting to find some bullshit "honor" in face-to-face war), but the "cowardly" bit always made me chuckle, especially in having grown up during the 80s when both sides could, from a climate-controlled, well-stocked bunker, blow the fuck out of each other.

Now our destructive mojo is found in drones, out of sight out of mind taken to an extreme. Kinda cowardly, heh.

Ethan said...

Nothing to add but an uh-huh.