author: Marc Batko September 2001 email Marc
“The Sabbath was made for humankind; people were not made for the Sabbath.” The state was made for individuals; individuals were not made for the state. The FBI has enough authority. The imperative is to build our infrastructure, trust in international institutions and create a new language and a new mathematics unknown to the oysters.
The Anti-Terrorism Task Force
By Marc Batko
The anti-terrorism task force is a dangerous threat to civil liberties and affirmation of the militarist temptation, a symbol of the Leviathan police state or national security state wedded to pre-nuclear ideas.
Our country is distorted by a unilateralist policy where the US describes itself as the indispensable nation. Under US exceptionalism, international organizations like the UN are distorted, imperatives like an International Criminal Court are denied and language is discredited.
Orwell warned against doublespeak, a ministry of truth where individual are reduced to serve Big Brother. Dostoevsky prophesied that individuals would surrender their freedom tot he Grand Inquisitor for his promise of happiness. Jesus’ saying speaks to the present demoralization and subversion of institutions: The Sabbath was made for humankind; people were not made for the Sabbath. The state exists for individuals; individuals do not exist for the state. Through different immunization strategies, we have deactivated the critical and prophetic; the zeal for efficiency often eclipses zeal for human rights as short-term fixation can conflate present and future and fear and freedom.
Our country is called to international partnership, to live in a multi-polar world, to be committed to sustainable and subsistence economics, to mend our own pockets, to tackle our hemorrages in military obsolescence and corporate enrichment.
Government becomes instrumentalized when it only transfers money to multinational corporations, when sins of the market are ignored and dysfunctionality is termed sins against the market, when foreign policy becomes export promotion.
My vision is that Portland insists on being a model and teacher, on defending the primacy of the 1st Amendment and refusing to become a police state, in encouraging and empowering youths, minorities and the displaced, where people become subjects, not de-emotionalized objects on anonymous markets.
The FBI already has sufficient authority. Like the CIA, it suffers from a want of intelligence and compassion and cries for reformation and a new identity different from its Cold War identity in destabilization and the terror of counter-insurgency.
The challenge is to encourage a public debate on a sane security policy (cf. the Nation editorial “The Great Wound”, Sept 16, 2001), to develop inclusive policies and expand democracy. Nonviolence is greater than violence; the arms race, militarization and ramboization are not natural laws.
The 1st Amendment has a priority, restraining indiscriminate acts of the state so the state does not become Leviathan. As reparations and self-determination are foundational for international law, protecting the dignity and freedom of conscience are tasks of the state not dictated by the market or multinational corporations. We must resist oversimplification and the perversion of the free moral state into the police state or national security state. Issues cannot be reduced to whether a street is blocked; all problems cannot be stylized as police problems..
As justice is never simply law, we are called to constant reformation, semper reformanda, to distributive justice and the preferential option for the poor. Rights are balanced and exist in a hierarchy as for example privacy and work, economy and ecology. Majority rule must be balanced with minority protection.
Our time is also marked by police terrorism. Reparations are necessary, not putting the cart before the horse, not imitating terrorists to combat terrorism, not in surrendering freedom tot he Grand Inquisitor.
The Anti-Terrorism Task Force is a danger in criminalizing dissent, in the idea of presumptive guilt or guilt by association. The people traumatized by global capital and unresponsive political institutions need to be empowered and encouraged. What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose our soul and our priorities?
Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it were better if he were thrown to the oysters! The balcony in the hearing was filled to the brim; the people again were ahead of the government. The sovereignty of human rights could supersede the sovereignty of nation states. The military is called to a new identity in the multi-polar world of sustainable and subsistence economics in a non-nuclear world. Jesus calls us to a new language and a new mathematics, to an ethic of resistance and solidarity, to second chances and second impressions, to inclusion and re-membering our torn polarized world! We have these possibilities as we have the “wild card” in ourselves (Gandhi); let’s not shift responsibility to the oysters or the impoverished!