America’s Pro-Torture Cult

Dish Staff —  Dec 17 2014 @ 7:58pm
by Dish Staff

Ambinder bets that “Cheney would still have us torturing innocents, even today”:

I can only think of Cheney now as the personification of the Cult of Terror, that September 11th, 2001 political construct that gave Americans license to act outside the stream of history instead of at its headwaters, and to suppress dissent in the name of state security. What makes this scarier, even, and why I feel justified in calling it a cult, is that it also suppresses, denigrates, and stigmatizes the moral and political foundations that it seeks to protect. It’s an American cult, because it plays to our own biases about what makes us special. It is not unique or exceptional.

Chait also examines the pro-torture mindset. He contends that “admiration for the methods used by totalitarian states is … embedded in the torture program created by the Bush administration”:

Three decades ago, right-wing French intellectual Jean-François Revel published a call to arms entitled How Democracies Perish, which quickly became a key text of the neoconservative movement and an ideological blueprint for the Reagan administration. Revel argued that the Soviet Union’s brutality and immunity from internal criticism gave it an inherent advantage over the democratic West — the United States and Europe were too liberal, too open, too humane, too soft to defeat the resolute men of the Iron Curtain.

“Unlike the Western leadership, which is tormented by remorse and a sense of guilt,” wrote Revel, “Soviet leaders’ consciences are perfectly clear, which allows them to use brute force with utter serenity both to preserve their power at home and to extend it abroad.” Even though Revel’s prediction that the Soviet Union would outlast the West was falsified within a few years, conservatives continue to tout its wisdom. And even as Revel’s name has faded further into the backdrop, recent events have revealed the continuing influence of his ideas.