Based on the shrill, intemperate, personally offensive and virtually content-free tone and "substance" (using the term loosely) of Mike Csapo's post, I'd have to conclude that the "trash-o-meter" seems to have hit a nerve that richly deserved to be hit! I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night...
As for "21st century political theory literature," a category which is so broad as to defy rational understanding & identification, I humbly offer below Joe Bageant's recent essay, "Car-pooling with Eichmann," which seems to capture the political theories that have dominated the solid waste management industry for some time now... (as in: "Every one of them lives in an egomaniacal la-la-land of his or her imagination and manages to get paid to do it.")
And Alex, or course it's slightly "off-topic" in the narrow view of "environmentalism" and "Michigan" as conceptually isolated subjects of discourse for polite, predominantly white middle class liberal discussion groups, but opening my inbox to a bombastic and addle-brained lecture by a solid waste industry manager is a provocation that richly merits an extensive response...
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Carpooling with Eichmann
> May 20, 2005
> Joe Bageant
> "Adolf Eichmann was thoughtful, orderly, and
> unimaginative. He had a profound respect for system,
> for law and order. He was obedient, loyal, a faithful
> officer of a great state. He served his government
> very well.
> The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity
> with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with
> prudence, with the capacity to love and understand
> other people. We rely on the sane people of the world
> to preserve it from barbarism, madness, and
> destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it
> is precisely the sane ones who are the most
> --From Thomas Merton's "Raids on the Unspeakable"
> One of the most unsettling things about this country
> is that the following people are considered perfectly
> sane by American standards: Dick Cheney; Arnold
> Schwarzenegger; Deepak Chopra; Bill Clinton; Oprah
> Winfrey; Pat Robertson; Grover Nordquist; Michelle
> Malkin (though she does get points for her tush.) See
> anybody in that list even remotely normal? Every one
> of them lives in an egomaniacal la-la-land of his or
> her imagination and manages to get paid to do it.
> Believe me when I say that just about any face you
> see on your television or in the newspaper is a
> nutjob. I used to interview such freaks for a living.
> Of course, given that American journalists and
> interviewers have become mindless suck-asses, I
> understand that I may have a credibility problem here.
> But onward!
> Any culture that spends as much money as we do on ugly
> cars, fast food and liposuction cannot possibly be
> sane, and is certainly adrift from the natural
> Unfortunately, our national sanity is of the
> thoroughly dangerous sort -- the Third Reich sort.
> Remember that even Adolf Eichmann was determined
> to be completely sane by a panel of medical experts.
> At least as sane as you and me and if you would like
> to be excluded from this comparison, you may be
> excused. Like the other good Nazis, ole Eich would
> have easily made a respected member of American
> society today, probably as a Republican judicial
> nominee. He would have fit quite well into a nation of
> Americans going about its daily business caring for
> and protecting the homeland's security and
> profitability. Eichmann slept well at nights, the same
> as most of us, unaffected in appetite. He would have
> made a good carpooler, telling us all about the kids
> and grandkids as we commute the monotonous asphalt
> strips to and from our jobs, creating the paper work
> and the information products and the commerce of the
> fatherland, that great sprawling circuit board one
> sees from airplanes. Like Eichmann, we are efficient,
> productive, and most terribly of all, untroubled by
> guilt. Oblivious as gravestones.
> The politicians and generals and bureaucrats and
> soldiers who planned all of our modern wars were also
> sane. As are people like Colin Powell, Stormin'
> Norman and Tommy Franks, and those unnamed legions
> busy planning the next ones for us.
> No one seems particularly upset. Daily life in the
> U.S. is as usual. Sure, we have some frightening new
> national enemies, but the government is dealing
> with them. And sure, there are little state-sponsored
> tortures and murders abroad, a rash of prison
> construction both inside and outside the country,
> and some incremental incursions on our civil liberties
> -- a small price to pay, considering the danger all
> around. But what the heck...the NBA
> playoffs are just around the corner. Interest rates
> are at an all time low and the Sox won the pennant.
> The stores are full of shoppers and the congress
> is full of shit. Can things really be much different
> than ever? Nah.
> Besides, why would the government be interested in
> nobodies like you and me? Totalitarian state? Here?
> That's insane.
> "What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever
> widening gap. . .between the government and the
> people. . . And it became always wider. . . the
> whole process of its coming into being, was above all
> diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for
> people who did not want to think anyway . . .
> Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to
> think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous
> changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by
> the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without
> and within, that we had no time to think about these
> dreadful things that were growing, little by little,
> all around us. . . Each step was so small, so
> inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion,
> 'regretted,' that unless one understood
> what the whole thing was in principle, what all these
> 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no
> more saw it developing from day to day than a
> farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each
> act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little
> worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait
> for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others,
> when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting
> somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. .
> . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make
> trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion,
> when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you,
> never comes. That's the difficulty. The
> forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring,
> the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the
> visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But
> the spirit, which you never noticed because you made
> the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms,
> is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear,
> and the people who hate and fear do not even know it
> themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is
> transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would
> not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things
> your father. . . could never have imagined."
> ---From Milton Mayer, "They Thought They Were Free,
> The Germans, 1938-45"
> (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
> Few of us believe that it is ordinary folks who sell a
> nation into hell, cast it in infamy. In a democracy,
> "the people" supposedly cannot be the
> problem. Right now some of the smartest people I know
> are more convinced that the problem is George W. Bush
> and the dysfunctional little Addams family he has
> created (or who created him, no one is quite certain.)
> The problem being of course that they are a danger to
> human civilization and the planet. The fallacy
> however, lies in believing they are more insane
> than the rest of us (although a couple of them
> probably are.) Not many healthy, well-adjusted people
> look at Karl Rove or Donald Rumsfeld without a
> small flinch of horror and pity. The kind of fear one
> has of snakes and the kind of pity one has for people
> who appear congenitally deformed in character.
> Rather like the kid I knew in grade school who poured
> lighter fluid on baby birds and lit it. Now we know
> what such kids grow up to become.
> Yet a walk through an American suburb or one of our
> bland "office campuses" can throw a thinking person
> into a darker funk than Rummy or Karl "Toad of
> Darkness" Rove ever will. We should be far more
> worried about the Good Germans with orderly lives who
> populate all those office complexes here in the
> suburbs of our nation's capitol. They are designers at
> the defense company in my office building who create
> control systems for missiles, or the government
> contracted psychologists in the building across the
> lawn who help write what are essentially military
> torture manuals and killing protocols... Or, for that
> matter, all the people at my own magazine publishing
> office. We specialize in military history magazines
> that glorify all wars American and create the state
> sponsored mythology of our "heroes fighting for
> democracy around the world." Meanwhile, company 401-Ks
> are invested in Halliburton, Raytheon, mass
> distributed mind suppressants such as Prozac and the
> like. Thus, from my building I can see the sprawling
> workplace of other "Little Eichmanns" of which Ward
> Churchill spoke, and cannot delude myself that I am
> not one of them.
> When and if America is ever hauled before the tribunal
> it is so richly earning with every Iraqi child mangled
> and every soul it ships to Egypt to be tortured in
> unspeakable ways, out of sight of the world, what will
> be my excuse? Will it be: "I only generated the
> propaganda because I needed the health insurance that
> came with the job." Will that be an acceptable answer
> before the world? Who among us is guilty and who is
> innocent? Is the person who makes the night goggles
> for the American sniper on a Baghdad rooftop guilty?
> Is the person guilty who made Lynndie England's CD
> player, the one they played while leading those naked
> weeping men around on dog leashes and in hoods? What
> about American workers who make Kevlar vests? Are they
> saving lives, or are they enabling killers to do their
> work more safely? And this is to say nothing of the
> Americans who wipe the Doritos crumbs from their
> double chins, lean toward their televisions and cheer
> on the young "heroes."
> Many of us can remember during the cold war when we
> all feared the "mad man with his finger on the nuclear
> button" scenario. Let us be honest here, Nixon's face
> did not inspire confidence in such matters. Who would
> stop a mad president from hitting the button that
> opened the missile silos under North Dakota's barley
> fields? Who would stop Nixon if he got on one of his
> benders and said, "Hell, Spiro, let's toast the
> fuckers!" Saner heads of course. Precautions were in
> place, we assured ourselves---or tried to anyway. At
> the same time we accepted that there were perfectly
> sane reasons for the existence of those tens of
> thousands of nuclear warheads. And in doing so we
> accepted as justifiable the potential radiation deaths
> of millions, perhaps billions. We willingly became
> engaged in the most ghastly game of global nuclear
> blackmail imaginable, one that continues even now,
> haunting us in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and
> Israel. And somehow the American public's acceptance
> of that provided our sane leaders today with logical
> reasons for firing depleted uranium shells in Kosovo,
> Iraq and Afghanistan, where the landscape will remain
> radioactive for tens of thousands of years. Here we
> are using nuclear weapons for the fourth time and
> nobody finds it one bit odd, much less frightening.
> Sort of nuclear weapons creep.
> Some, however, find it as exciting as hell. The
> Pentagon and the administration hail depleted uranium
> shells and armor as a breakthrough in modern warfare.
> U.S. Rep Christopher Shays said that any health
> effects the Iraqis suffer from depleted uranium --
> kidney damage, lung cancer, mounting birth defects --
> "pale in comparison with the benefits of regime change
> in their country." Well then! Fry my ass on a
> plutonium skillet! Bring on the bunker busters! Iraqi
> and Afghani mothers seem unimpressed with regime
> change, even as they weep over twisted, blind infants.
> All this sanity is killing some of us. To my mind, it
> is killing the best of us. It drives the artist and
> the philosopher, dancer, the psychiatrist, the
> homosexual torch singer and the spiritualist
> dishwasher toward the cliff with its macabre drone.
> Most of the genuinely beautiful minds and souls
> I know are in the deepest sort of despair. Rather like
> the cabaret society of 1930s Berlin, you can hear the
> high whine of hysteria behind their drunken revelry,
> their bitter laughter in the face of such black folly.
> Some people I know do not even bother to get out of
> bed on weekends. I am serious. I am "seeing the best
> minds of my generation..." etc. right before my eyes.
> And like that magnificent old faggot who saw the same
> vision years before we did, I often find myself
> sobbing on the steps of a madhouse called America.
> Meanwhile, I ask my doctor for Prozac, and he says:
> "Joe, the solution to every problem is not a drug."
> That has not been my experience by any
> What do we prize? Rote sanity? Practicality? Efficacy?
> Ants are all those things. So are lizards. Perhaps
> what is lacking is religion. Yet both Eichmann and
> Hitler were Christians, as were the German people.
> Tamerlane was a Muslim. And it was Buddhists who
> conducted the Rape of Nanking. It was Christian
> America that practiced genocide on the Red Indian and
> chopped off the feet of Negro slaves so they could not
> run away from their appointed duties building the
> "City on the Hill." Chopping off their feet was
> practical, sane, clever even. We are all richer now
> for our ancestors' cleverness and sanity. Right now it
> is a dusky Semitic people and their oil that occupy
> our cleverness.
> In any case, there is no lack of religion. We are
> seeing more of it than ever as it promises to swallow
> up our judicial system and entire government. Bin
> Laden, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, Jerry Falwell, and a
> hundred million Christian pod people are proof
> religion alone cannot temper our relentless "sanity"
> into something more deeply human. So what is lacking?
> My god! No, this cannot be! Is it possible that even
> leftist intellectuals and educated liberals, are going
> to be forced to admit it? Admit that "without love,
> we are nothing?" That without empathy and charity we
> are doomed?
> If in the end the American empire continues pursuit of
> this awful thing we seem so determined to carry out,
> we will learn the answer to that question. Assuming it
> can be found amid the ruin.
> P.S. To Ward Churchill and Vine Deloria: Ya see guys,
> we white people even KNOW we are doing it and still
> can't help ourselves!
> Copyright 2005 by Joe Bageant.
> Joe Bageant is a writer and magazine editor living in
> Winchester, Virginia. He may be contacted at:
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