« Google, paladin of liberty | Main | Fed up, and not taking it any more »

In other news, US Congress still shameless

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday May 24, 2011 03:23 PM

So while Obie played ping-pong in London with the British PM, back at home, a joint session -- joint session! -- of the US Congress were baying themselves hoarse like football hooligans at every chest-thumping wolf ticket from that cheap gangster Benjamin Netanyahu (accent on the "yahoo").

Maybe Obie should stay in London and Netanyahu just move into the White House. He could certainly get stuff through Congress. Hell, they'd vote to deify him if AIPAC hinted that it might be a good thing.

Comments (10)


Somebody should devise a wedge issue between the NRA and AIPAC. Then there would be some entertaining TV coming out of Congress.

This stuff is so predictable that it provides no information, to borrow a recent trope from Chomsky. It's not worth watching.... A tree falling in a forest...


He forgot to end with:

Nun, Volk, steh auf und Sturm brich los!

Or, perhaps it was lost in the "unending stormy applause".
But, another Prussian maxim seems more fitting:

Man kann sich totseigen!


German, a wonderfully pithy language. I love singing stuff in German -- it feels like the latent physiognomy of English. But surely it should be 'totsiegen'?


I always forget just how important Jerusalem is. Listening to the commentary on al-Jazeera reminded me. If the Israelis insist on holding on to all of Jerusalem, that sinks any two-state deal right there, even without any of the other enormities Israel insists upon. Two-state is dead. Long live anti-apartheid.

Haven't visited for awhile. Delighted to come back and laugh my ass off at some of your stuff.

Maybe this will go some ways to return the favor: http://www.alternet.org/world/151075/http://www.alternet.org/world/151075/

Max Blumenthal plumbing the depths of AIPAC


MJS, right you are on the usage. btw, Uri Avnery offers a nice explanation for obsession with "the State" — an unnervingly common locution in our latter day Prussia which seems to have shifted south:

Perhaps the most important thing we inherited from Prussia was the sacred notion of the "state" (medina in Hebrew), an idea that dominates our entire life. Most countries are officially a "republic" (France, for example), a "kingdom" (Britain), or a "federation" (Russia). The official name "State of Israel" is essentially Prussian.


I still recall how disturbing it was when I first saw this ex-Nazi explain how he was just an "instrument of 'the (Holy) State'".


Eeenteresting. I had never bothered to look it up, but this phrase מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, m'dinat yisrael-- actually, the "states" (plural) of Israel -- is an interesting one. (The singular is m'dinah.)

It isn't even Hebrew; it's Aramaic, and it means something like "province, administrative division". A humble word, actually.

Kind of a weird choice, until you compare it with אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, 'eretz yisrael', the "land of Israel."

"Eretz" is a very concrete term, a fine old segholate noun and an ancient part of the core Hebrew vocabulary, and it means very plainly land in the most physical sense.

But what are the boundaries of that land? Aha. A very good question. Nobody has ever been quite willing to define them, unless that possibly apocryphal phrase "from the Euphrates to the Nile" qualifies.

So the use of m'dinah, it seems to me, looks like a marker of the provisionality of the present "state" -- until the entire 'eretz' has been won, and who knows when that will be; because who knows how far it extends?

The Prussian Staat is cognate with English state and French etat and so on, ultimately from Latin "status", and deserves a whole monograph on its own.

The two don't look to me very similar in origin, but perhaps there's been a convergence. It wouldn't amaze me.


I've always read "state" as a set of mental "objects." A series of connective meanings in the head - about which offices must be obeyed, about what symbols have power, about memories of events which are understood as sacred, unitary and inviolate because they describe the creation of occupancies which confer power on those who occupy them. About, in short, the possession of offices.

[Long digression: The State/l'etat/staat emerged out of a European context which saw the feudal mutation of the Roman magisterium and imperium. The Roman man possessed his auctoritas in his person, and inherited it from the stuff of the universe (the divine) by way of a bloodline. He imbued the religious functions of Roman government with power. It was his baraka, to borrow a semitic tribal term, which gave the Roman res publica momentum, shape and force. This makes sense, given the tribal origin of the Roman ruling class, its tribal voting structure, and its tribunal judiciary.

Feudal Europe preserved this basic Etruscan/Roman/Latin tribal form with obvious Germanic and Celtic adaptations, namely the recreation of a yeoman/franchiser/frankish class which had all but vanished by the end of the Roman era. It did this on a smaller scale than the Roman Republic/Empire, though it did grow large enough to duplicate itself in Burgundy, Anjou, Aquitaine, Aquilea and Styria before coalescing as divine kingship, the Austrian empire, the German electorates and the British/Norman monarchy.

At the risk of over-glossing, the Reformation and counter-reformation changed all that. The Reformation was a sustained attack on the person of nobility and priesthood. Its message, in various iterations, was simple: men are corrupt, nothing they create has value, only God can redeem or ordain. And while the low countries, Britain and Huguenot France were hit with its most uncompromising expressions, even in Hapsburg Austria, Spain and Valois France concepts of office and personal magisterium would prove susceptible over the long run.

If we look to the low countries (esp. Holland), Puritan Britain, Prussia and Munster, and Switzerland we see the first inclination towards a new concept of government, once where the office is sacred, permanent and ordained - but the man who fills it is not.]

This primacy of offices-over-person has lasted for the better part of five hundred years, and resulted in behaviors and beliefs which are predictable, within a range, over time and place.

The state describes, as a term, the acculturation of an often territorial vast system of adherences to the passing of offices, not the inheritance of persons.

Of course, there's no exact transition between older forms and newer, and the older survive, adapt and thrive according to a palimpsest logic of accumulation, so that quite often these offices are most available to those who still belong to the accumulative and once ennobled families of Europe.

Israel, being both a deliberate experiment in recreating an obsessive mythical "biblical" homeland, and a very modern, colonial garrison state, perhaps represents the (failed) attempt to synthesize a tribal myth which depends upon a sacred tribal territory - the Eretz - with the national state notions of organization carried around in the heads of the first wave of interlopers and colonists.

The Israeli state, then, must devote itself to that Eretz, or lose all legitimacy;its sacred functions derive not from the provision of protections by way of offices and influence, but according to the degree it is perceived as successful in sustaining belief and control over a territory described in invented tribal myth.

It has all the forms and functions of the modern state, but it must consume itself and all perceived aliens in an effort to preserve a tribal myth that was created only very recently by force, theft and murder.

Too many tensions. Or something like that.


yes, the member of the ethnic community exists for the betterment of the Heimat/Eretz, not the other way around:

To avoid any misunderstanding or confusion, I have used the term
nationalist socialism…But national socialism, which was commonly used at the beginning of the twentieth century, has been contaminated by its association with the Nazis. However, the adjective nationalist, although not traditionally used, in its strict sense describes one of the variants of socialism accurately. There is a nationalist socialism just as there is a democratic or revisionist socialism, often known as social democracy…Nationalist socialism, properly understood, appeared in Europe in the last years of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth as an alternative to both Marxism and liberalism…The uniqueness of European nationalist socialism…lay in one essential point: its acceptance of the principle of the nation’s primacy and its subjection of the values of socialism to the service of the nation. In this way socialism lost its universal significance and became an essential tool in the process of building the nation-state. Thus, the universal values of socialism were subordinated to the particularistic values of nationalism. In practice, this was expressed by a total rejection of the concept of class warfare and by the claim of transcending social contradictions for the benefit of the collectivity as a whole. This form of socialism preached the organic unity of the nation and the mobilization of all classes of society for the achievement of national objectives. According to the theory, this process was to be led by natural elites, whose membership was determined not by class, origin, or educational qualifications but by sentiment, dedication, and a readiness to make sacrifices for all. Nationalist socialism quite naturally disliked people with large fortunes, the spoiled aristocracy, and all those to whom money came easily and who could allow themselves to be idle. It lashed out mercilessly at the bourgeoisie whose money moved from one financial center to another and whose checkbook, close to its heart, served as its identity card. In contrast with all these, nationalist socialism presented the working man with both feet firmly planted on the soil of his native country–the farmer, whose horizons are restricted to the piece of land he tills, the bourgeois, who runs his own enterprise, and the industrial worker: the rich and poor who contribute the sweat of their brow, their talents and their money to increasing the collective wealth…Indeeed, nationalist socialism was based on the idea of the nation as a cultural, historical, and biological unit, or figuratively, an extended family. The industrial worker was regarded as an organic part of the whole, and the whole took precedence over the individual. The blood ties and the cultural ties linking members of the nation, their partnership in the total national effort, took precedence over the position of the individual in the production system.

Such notions were part and parcel of the Weltanschauung of, say, ‘the father of Jewish settlement in the land of Israel’ (PDF).

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Tuesday May 24, 2011 03:23 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Google, paladin of liberty.

The next post in this blog is Fed up, and not taking it any more.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31