The Iraq War as Global Watershed Event
After the First World War, in which he served as a German soldier in the trenches of the Western Front, the social philosopher Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy began work on his great history of Western Revolutions entitled Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man. In it he applied his “grammatical method” to interpreting the patterns of history.
For Rosenstock-Huessy, the First World War was the form of a World Revolution. He recognised, even while in the trenches, that the war had taken on the form of a world revolution that had established a new global space — a new “within” that encompassed the entire planet. Henceforth, he mused, all wars must be civil wars within one body politic of planetary scope.
In a later publication entitled The Christian Future, or the modern mind outrun, he remarked as follows,
‘The two world wars were the form of world revolution in which this new future reached into everybody’s life: the nationalist and communist ideologies with their dreams of revolution were checkmated and are mere foam around the real transformation. The real transformation was made by the wars and it made the Great Society final. She is the heiress of State and Church.” (p. 5)
Prior to the World Wars, in other words, Nations were outsiders to each other. But the world wars created a new global space in relation to which nations are now subordinate particulars and component parts. This global space, organised by the Corporation on economic principles, is what Rosenstock is referring to as “the Great Society”. It is the Corporate form, in the form of the “transnational corporation”, that is actually the heiress of State and Church.
It is within this singular space that all wars now become global civil wars. No one is unaffected by them; everything and everyone is universally affected by them. And the Iraq War was, indeed, a decisive and watershed event in the history of the new globalisation in those terms — a war to assimilate an outlier state into the new global corporate order, and not just, as it has been described, as the first resource war of the 21s Century.
So, it was with a good deal of interest that I read Peter Beaumont’s article in The Guardian entitled “Global protest grows as citizens lose faith in politics and the state” and this very insightful observation about how the growing global public unrest has its roots in the Iraq War, citing an Israeli urban geographer by name of Tali Hatuka,
“Tali Hatuka, an Israeli urban geographer, whose book on the new forms of protest will be published next year, identifies the mass mobilisations against the Iraq war in 2003 as a turning point in how people protest. Hatuka argues that, while previous large public protests had tended to be focused and narrow in their organisation, the Iraq war protests saw demonstrations in 800 cities globally which encompassed and tolerated a wide variety of outlooks.”
The Iraq War was thus a global watershed event that altered irrevocably how publics now perceive and judge their own governments and the trustworthiness of the State. An estimated 26 million people world-wide, in 800 cities, protested and marched against the “Coalition of the Willing” and the Iraq War only to have their deep suspicions about government and corporate untruthfulness, deceit, dissembling, propaganda, and prevarication subsequently confirmed. It is not coincidence, for example, that the Occupy Movement includes large numbers of Iraq War veterans, or the cynicism with which even military personnel renamed their Iraq bases with the names “Camp Shell” or “Camp Exxon”.
Beaumont (and Hatuka) are suggesting the the Iraq War was what we call a “game-changer” in the relation of global publics to their governments, even if those governments did not participate in the Coalition of the Willing. In that conclusion we see something of Rosenstock’s insight that all wars after the First World War will necessarily assume the form of global civil wars. From the Middle East, to Turkey, to New York, to London, to Russia, to Montreal, to Brazil, I believe we are seeing the first stages of what will develop into a world revolution, as even Rosenstock-Huessy predicted, as early as 1938, as being something that must necessarily follow from his study of the pattern of revolutions in history, and that its central organising principle or theme would be “health”.
And another word for “health” is the “whole” or the “integral” (or integrity). These protests are, in a sense, taking the form of “globalism by other means” even if they are, at present, not fully articulate. But articulacy is only developed in the process of revolution itself (as Rosenstock also attested). It begins with shouting and yelling, and only in the process of revolution does this yelling and shouting precipitate and crystallise into eloquence and articulacy.
A new language is born in the cauldron of revolution. It does not emerge all at once like Athena fully mature and armoured from the head of Zeus.
And I’m persuaded that the surveillance programmes so recently revealed (not just in the U.S. by Mr. Snowden, but also operating in Britain and Canada or “the Five Eyes”) have far less to do with intercepting and forestalling terrorist threats than in monitoring the growing restlessness and distrust of global publics about the legitimacy of their own institutions, power elites, and ruling classes.