Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

More examples of Zizek’s “will-to-ignorance.”

Posted by alifinmath on April 18, 2008

In Dissident Voice:

Perry O’Brien, an Afghanistan war veteran (a medic), Winter Soldier organizer, and now Conscientious Objector, suggested in an online video interview that there is an unofficial “don’t ask don’t tell” policy between military personnel and civilians–civilians want to glorify the warrior, but don’t want to hear the gory details of war. He suggests that the people at home have a willful ignorance that goes hand in hand with the military telling soldiers that the civilian psyche can’t handle the reality of war and that soldiers should keep what they do in war to themselves.


Winter Soldiers speaking publicly will allow citizens to understand the reality and true cost of war.

What if the f***ing civilians don’t want to know any of this? They don’t even want to know what happens to their own soldiers let alone the hapless civilians at the receiving end.

We know that the US government lies.

But not too strenuously. Nor does it try to keep the facts away from those who really want to know. And both for the same reasons: the apathy and indifference of the civilian population.

The “all volunteer army” is in fact, a poverty draft. Testosterone laced recruitment campaigns featuring F-16s, helicopters and aircraft carriers appeal to youthful idealism and dreams of adventure while promising job skills, and being part of something greater than oneself—not to mention large signing bonuses and college tuition. All this sounds mighty fine to young men and women without prospects following high school graduation. This deliberate targeting of the most vulnerable and destitute in society for use as cannon fodder is despicable and sickening at best. 

Yep: get your negroes, mestizos, and white trash to fight your wars. Though I think most of them go in cynically with their eyes open. But prospects in civilian life are virtually non-existent. No need for a draft when there aren’t that many alternatives. Calling it despicable is a moral judgement of the kind I refrain from.

The reality for soldiers returning home is that the war is no longer a topic of conversation—either in the news, or on the public’s mind. One soldier described his dismay one night in a bar when someone remarked on his uniform and exclaimed, “You mean we’re still over there?!”

It never was. Somehow these idealists think the public is seething with moral fervor and concern, anxious to do the right thing. Hell, they couldn’t care less. They’re fickle, have a short attention span, and fundamentally don’t want to know as 1) it makes them uncomfortable 2) makes them feel impotent, and 3) lies outside the orbit of their humdrum lives. Every ruler learns this pretty fast.


4 Responses to “More examples of Zizek’s “will-to-ignorance.””

  1. Chris Prouty said

    The height of the ridiculousness in recruiting in the armed services was when the Army released a first-person-shooter computer game that could be downloaded from the Army website. Alarming…

  2. alifinmath said

    I think their cutoff point is an IQ of 80 (which incidentally disqualifies about half the black population, whose average IQ is 84). At the same time, I doubt whether many people with IQs over 110 enlist. The recruiting drive is intense and incessant (recruiters are to be found prowling on the U of M campus, and indeed they even have an office there somewhere), but the pay and perks aren’t that great, the benefits come with hidden strings attached, and the armed forces/US government renege on providing medical attention to wounded soldiers. In addition — as in so many other areas of American life — the insistence on conformity and reflexive obedience tends to weed out superior people, leaving an army (or workforce) of mediocrities. If one really has an aptitude for soldiering and some specialist skills, one would be better off financially working as some sort of mercenary (where the pay can often be upwards of $20,000 monthly): at least one isn’t selling one’s life cheaply then.

  3. Chris Prouty said

    Actually the mercenary route is not a terrible career choice. From what I’ve read the $20k figure you quoted is quite modest. I’ve read that Blackwater was/is paying upwards of $50k/mo to special forces mercenaries. And that’s not even counting the inevitable spoils of war one would encounter while raiding the palaces of former dictators. If one had the stomach for it, they could do their time in the military, get their SEAL training, do 5-6 years as a hired gun, and call it a career.

  4. alifinmath said

    I’ve heard of a fair number of ex-special forces types setting up their own modest outfits and bidding for contracts (or getting in through the back door for work that isn’t advertised). But I don’t know much about it (it’s yet another murky area of American life).

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