Monday, May 16, 2005
The Second American Revolution goes nuclear
- In the lead-up to the Iraq invasion the Pentagon drew up contingency plans for the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which was referred to as "the nuclear option."
- In January 2004 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved changes to their hearing rules that will ease the resumption of licensing of nuclear reactors so that U.S. energy will have a "nuclear option."
- In this week of May 2005, the Republicans in the Senate are threatening to take the "nuclear option" of ending use of the filibuster for judicial nominees.
If you answered "nuclear option" I'm afraid you've gotten lost in a metaphor.
What these items have in common is that they are proposals to radically change the rules that the American government has followed and to which the American public has been accustomed for a very long time. "Nuclear" has become the metaphor for "revolutionary rule change."
It is a clever way not only to frame but to conduct a revolution. "Rule change" sounds so innocent, doesn't it? Who could possibly be alarmed by the announcement of a "rule change"? Certainly not the public.
In the 70s there was an the anti-war slogan: "What if they held a war and nobody came?" The contemporary right-wing counterpart to this would be "What if we staged a revolution and nobody noticed?"
Republican (and plenty of Democratic) toadies, guided by their right-wing paymasters, are staging a quiet revolution. None of the old "blood in the streets" sort of thing, which is bad for business. (The Brown Shirts, of course, have been and will be used as needed to suppress protests.)
The hope is to be quieter and more precise this time—to be, as tactical nuclear weapons have been described, "less contaminating, more discriminate, and more versatile."
When it comes to government overthrow, left-wing revolutions tend to be more physically violent. They are, after all, "bottom-up" affairs, since rulers do not readily give up power through the democratic—or any other—process.
But right-wing revolutions are top-down matters—one oligarchy pitted against another. They can be subtle, even "democratic"—as was the case with Hitler—or minimally violent, as with the coup, where instead of blood in the streets we see blood in the palace followed by a massive crack-down on dissent.
We are in the midst of a right-wing revolution. Make no mistake about it. In fact, to say that we are "in the midst" is too mild; we are in the end-stage of that revolution.
If this revolution is allowed to succeed, all that will be left is a lingering pretense of democracy and a shell of constitutional government. The American hope for democracy and peace here and abroad will be crushed, replaced by the despair of a "nuclear wasteland"—a wasteland ruled by right-wing oligarchs. And that is what "going nuclear" is all about.