February 24, 2003
Marcella Durand: Tracking George W. Bush: A Not-So-Silent Spring

I suppose that based upon his or her own particular fascinations each individual builds a personal opposition to the projected war upon Iraq and the current Bush administration. While the Bush administration has certainly given many of us an extraordinary spectrum of reasons to oppose it, it was Bush’s own record on the environment, dating back to his time as the Governor of Texas, that first brought home to me the very depth of his untrustworthiness. And now that environmental record serves me as reminder of how unaccountable our president is, not only to his own citizens, but to the world about him.

A man who so utterly disregards the well-being of his country, from the human to the animal, and mineral of it, is not a man who can be entrusted with conducting a war. Because for such a man, war must be the “natural” way to be—the disruption of systems, the thoughtless destruction of both human and land. And after war, for such a man, there must be no point to rebuild: the exterior world, the “other,” is evidently meaningless.

Before the mock 2000 elections, an in-depth article on Bush appeared in Vanity Fair. The article detailed how in Texas under Bush toxic air-borne byproducts had expanded to such a remarkable degree that in some towns mid-air benzene explosions—in one case, occuring regularly over a school filled with children—had become alarmingly regular. Despite letter-writing campaigns by the desperate parents of children with cancer, with asthma, with other respiratory afflictions caused by this literally explosive pollution, Bush remained remarkably deaf to them all. I use the word “remarkably” because usually politicans will at least give lip service to their constituents, but this at-the-time elected leader of a state gave absolutely no notice of the physical and emotional pain of his own fellow Texans.

However, this was just the beginning of it. Through reading various environmental magazines and news sources, it became apparent to me that Bush wasn’t just oblivious to environmental problems and that he wasn’t just supporting business “over” ecology. Instead, he was quite deliberately acting against anything resembling environmentalism—to a degree that indicated he must be responding to ecological issues on a philosophical basis. Many regulations that had been in place for years—successful regulations, supported by both local environmentalists and businesses, such as fishing limits and marine protective measures—were being dismantled or unenforced, to the confusion of all.

The only reason to undermine such regulations across the board, whether they were economically successful or not, whether they were supported by the community or not, whether they had to do with air pollution limits, water rights, logging or habitat protection, had to be philosophical. While I certainly can’t begin to guess what sort of philosophical system decrees that the health of the exterior world is to be not only completely disregarded, but actively exploited, polluted and, to put it plainly, killed stone-dead, the fact that the president participates in such a system says to me that he must be a man deaf to the universe.

So it is doubly, triply, quadrupedly, alarming that this man, so unaware of life, nature, health, well-being, is drawing lines between “good” and “evil.” Yet it is logically consistent with his philosophical beliefs as expressed in his environmental record that he would be the man to propose war as a first, rather than a last, resort—that, ignoring the needs and wants of his own populace, he is the one to most passionately wish to embark on the destruction of peoples and land, without even bothering to offer a valid, solid “reason.”

There are plenty of people who choose the satiation of their appetites over the well-being of others, both human and non-human. However, there are not so many people who do so on a philosophical basis. Through his environmental record, the only “others” Bush appears to care about are the most short-term of short-term businesses, the sort of parasitical economic activity that rapidly kills the host.

Posted by Brian Stefans at February 24, 2003 12:42 PM

I don't understand why Bush's single-minded refusal of environmentalism should be thought of as "philosophical." Surely it's just the clockwork behaviour consistent with an affluent representative of the oil industry, for whom the economic interests of that industry are tantamount to a political embargo on thinking about anything that might endanger or stifle them. More fundamentally I disagree with the curious idea that Bush should be considered a person capable of speculative reasoning, a person whose actions are motivated by ideas that justify them--in fact, that we should think of him as a "person" at all. That's not only a joke. As Marx said: “The circulation of capital has…no limits. Thus the conscious representative of this movement, the possessor of money becomes a capitalist. His person, or rather his pocket, is the point from which the money starts and to which it returns. The expansion of value, which is the objective basis or main-spring of the circulation M—C—M, becomes his subjective aim, and it is only in so far as the appropriation of ever more and more wealth in the abstract becomes the sole motive of his operations, that he functions as a capitalist, that is, as capital personified and endowed with a consciousness and a will.” That's surely what "Bush" is, for us, the people who suffer him, and also for the workers of the third world, who suffer him so much more greatly: "capital personified." To attibute a philosophy to him is not just to flatter him; more seriously it's to misjudge our target, since what needs to be resisted are not the ideas of one man or of a set of men behind him, but the economic logic which allows him to achieve a position of power over us.

Posted by: Keston Sutherland on February 24, 2003 01:15 PM

Consider his coziness with far-right fundamentalist Christians and factor in his pre-election interview choice of Jesus as his "favorite political philosopher" and it seems that Bush is indeed in possession of a "philosophy." Perhaps "ideology" would be a better word for it; perhaps it would be better stated that IT is possession of HIM. (In this sense it certainly is difficult to "think of him as a 'person' at all.")

The Bush "philosophy" (or a major component thereof) is a brand of entrepreneurial American fundamentalist Christianity that is millenarian in mindset; that views the "natural" world as Man's [sic] domain as surely as Isreali settlers view the Occupied Territories as their domain; that divides the world into the damned & saved ("with us or against us"); that would speak of "Operation Infinite Justice" as a "crusade" against "evildoers...."

I don't think Bush's sanctimony is *just* a mask and justification for profiting mightily from environmental degradation or waging war-- the "circulation of capital" fuses with the circulation of the Gospel according to John the Ashcroft. I think there's something scarier than a purely capitalist Will to Deny the Other if the Other doesn't consume or produce appropriately, respectfully and profitably enough.

There are people influencing Bush who actually look forward to the Apocalypse, assuming they'll profit handsomely from it in perpetuity. Bush is their champion. These are people who believe they're preparing the world for a 1,000-year rule of their warped Christ...

Bush is not only/just "capital personified," but also/moreso "capital deified". He is just a humble servant; he is animated by the spirit of the Lord, he is a vessel... he's his own Grandpa. And certainly His *Father's* Son. How does he *do* that...? IT'S A MIRACLE!!! Anoint Him with oil already, damn.

Of course, he'd also be a good candidate for the Antichrist, if one were so inclined to believe.

Protest banner: "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Note: Creepy article on "the Family" in the March (I think it's March) Harper's, about the behind-the-scenes Christian Fundamentalist group that makes it its (big) business to influence policy makers, politicians, captains of (post)industry and so on...

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