More Terrifying than the Enemy (“Home Land Security” Right Before and After Obama Presidency)

Max Ernst "Angel of the Hearth"
Max Ernst, “The Angel of Hearth and Home”, “L’Ange du foyer”, 1937

The existence of persecutory alters, organized parts of the personality that are hostile to and punish the host personality, are quite common… These persecutory alters are not simple introjections of perpetrators of abuse. Rather, they more often begin their existence after traumatic events in early childhood as protectors and only later on turn into persecutors… After the traumatic event has occurred, the child sets up a part of his or her personality as a protector that prevents the child from ever having to experience the trauma again. The alter sees to it that every action of the child is monitored so that the situation that led to the trauma isn’t repeated… The protector starts using persecutory behavior toward the host personality when the child starts getting more freedom and opportunity to grow, individuate and get satisfaction… The protector turns into an active persecutor.
Jerrold Atlas, “Medieval Mystics’ Lives as Self-Medication for Childhood Abuse (Achieving Divine Experience as a ‘Reward’ for Damaged Personalities)”

Perversion, in its more fundamental, resides in the formal structure of how the subject relates to truth and speech. The pervert claims direct access to some figure of the big Other (from God or history to the desire of his partner), so that, dispelling all the ambiguity of language, he is able to act directly as the instrument of the big Other’s will. In this sense, both Osama bin Laden and President Bush, although politically opponents share a pervert structure: they both act upon the presupposition that their acts are directly ordered and guided by the divine will.
Slavoj Zizek

If in 1943 to ask the German patriots whom they fear more, the Russian troops or their own Fuhrer, they would most likely beat you up, but the same question asked retrospectively, after the end of WW2, would make them saddened and even contemplative. If in the beginning of 20s, during the Russian Civil war to ask the Soviet patriots whom they fear more, British and French troops or their own Communist leadership, they would report you to the secret police, but the same question repeated 17 years later, after the mass terror of arrests, would bring tears to some faces and make many others frightened and thoughtful. If in the middle of Bushmerican rule in U.S., let’s say, in 2005, to ask people whom they fear more – the international terrorists or their own government, they would cover you with insults, but the same question asked after the revelations about government’s lies, falsifications and illegal activities would make them noisily and aggressively divided.

Hitler was much more a danger to Germany than all the enemies of Third Reich taken together. Stalin was much more of a danger to Russia than her enemies. The situation is similar with Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld executive trio (tenor, bass and baritone of authoritarian rule). They thought they are fighting the terrorists. But in reality they added their own terrorism to Bin Laden’s terrorism. By answering terrorism with triple terrorism in response they, without understanding this because of their psychological under-development, have created a united terrorist front against lives of Christians, Jews and Moslems, Europeans and Americans.

Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld – BCR, while naively trying to out-terrorize the terrorists became super-terrorists, more terrorists than terrorists themselves. Because of their intellectual deficits they accepted the terrorists’ challenge on the level of terrorism, as a challenge from one clan of terrorists to another clan of terrorists, as a challenge inside the very terrorist paradigm of behavior. The indignation BCR felt toward the Islamic terrorists was not indignation toward terrorism; it was indignation toward a particular gang of terrorists that dares to challenge “us”, the superior power. To out-terrorize the terrorists is a response of terrorists by psychology when they are challenged by other terrorists. BCR took the 9/11 terrorist attack not as attack on democracy but as clash of powers. This psychological passivity of BCR’s response on Islamic terrorism – this following the terrorist modality in their reaction, brings us back to Zizek’s Lacanian understanding of perversion. “Pervert claims direct access to the desire of his partner”. Who is BCR’s “partner” in the political and military turmoil around 9/11? Bin Laden, of course, and the Muslim terrorists. BCR, by the reason of these people’s underdeveloped emotional intelligence, couldn’t grasp this danger of negative collaboration between the two opposing powers (Bin Laden got plenty of terrorist recruits, and BCR got the semi-agreement of the American people to go along with its military and economic adventurism). BCR is psychologically tied to Bin Laden as a pervert is to his partner’s desire!

In the very moment BCR bombed, killed, crippled, destroyed, it psychologically just followed the desire of a partner who wanted to recruit as many terrorists as possible among those who wanted to avenge the death of their loved ones, to escalate the conflict. It’s terrorists who defined the modality of American response and not the American government. This organic conformism of BCR is its radical psychological weakness. A normal response (of psychologically mature and healthy American leaders) could be to go after al-Qaida, to apprehend those who organized the 9/11 attacks, to extradite them to U.S. and to expose them to justice. Instead, BCR reacted along the logical line of terrorist fury and terrorist strategic calculation. It is this irrational extra in BCR’s reaction that is responsible for death of our soldiers, for killing Iraqi women and children, and for deployment of torture.

Here we must return to Max Ernst’s painting. Who is this monster trampling our life, our space? Is it Bin Laden? Is it Saddam? No, it is our own government that “was protecting us from the Bin Ladens and the Saddams”. It is the angel of the hearth, the agency that says it is here to protect us from danger of being attacked from outside. It is the angel protecting our hearth, our daily way of living and our well being. In today’s jargon the Ernst’s Angel is our “Home Land Security”. Ernst warns us against such protectors who unintentionally hurt us with their over-zealous and over-simpleminded super-militancy and psychotically inflamed suspiciousness. The Angel of Hearth promising to protect us against terrorism became more terrifying and terrorizing than terrorism and started to harm the peaceful population it is suppose to protect. Ernst created this painting in 1937 when a fascist wave of flagriotic (jingoistic) enthusiasm covered Europe. Today we should take Ernst’s interpretation of Angel of hearth as a desperate warning.

Who really hurt us Americans are not the external enemies but our own conservative government and its too emotional and primitive reaction on the external enemies. Bin Laden is bad, he is a monster, but BCR is as bad and as monstrous as Bin Laden, or even worse since it has so much power and resources at its disposal. And the ability to understand this is the biggest challenge for the American mind since FDR’s reforms. Well, we elected Obama, didn’t we? Yes, but we elected Obama instead of becoming more politically active ourselves. We expect him to do the entire job instead of us, we expect him to be an archangel-magician, and this is the way to squander our chance.