Daily Archives: December 12, 2009

War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength……

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions – from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank – that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades – a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

Obama’s Speech to West Point cadets

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,

The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Rudyard Kipling

So, Barak Obama receives the Nobel peace prize. It really is difficult to get more Orwellian than that. The man committing more and more troops to the bloody occupation of Afghanistan, the man responsible for spreading war to Pakistan and the man promising to spread the war to wherever America sees fit. There are many who will already have grown disappointed by his decisions in office but there are others who see it as all too predictable.

His recent speeches, both at the Noble Peace Prize ceremony and to the West Point cadets are redolent with themes of America’s burden. It is still deemed debateable (for we here at Marxist TEFL not so) whether Kipling’s poem, The White Man’s Burden, written in connection with America’s seizure of the Phillipines, was satire or not. For readers wishing to read a uncompromisingly critical and satirical version of imperialism, we recommend, Henry Labouchère’s, The Brown Man’s Burden. What is clear, however, from Obama’s speech is that no satire was intended. Here you have a black man, proclaiming to be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, extolling the virtues of the white man’s burden. As we said earlier, you can’t get more Orwellian than that.

For those interested in a sparkling analysis of the relevance of Barak Obama’s election we strongly recommend this marvellous talk given by the Pakistani political commentator and novelist, Tariq Ali:

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