|Courtesy of the collection of Christoph Schifferli, Zurich|
Self-inflicting art is a mirror of violence in society
Women's self-inflicting art reflects a state of violence inherent to societies dominated by males (mass misogyny), as male's self-inflicting art reflects a state of violence inherent to societies dominated by homophobic traditions and state plundering over entire populations.
Two readings to put this issue in context...
Nelson is no reformist — in fact, she’s wonderfully fearless when it comes to belittling the well meaning, as critical of the “idiot compassion” of social justice seekers (too often patronizing and ineffectual) as she is of the misogynist gore in exploitation films. She suspects that the human condition is suffering. The best art dramatizes what happens when ethical impulses collide with the monsters within, but these enactments themselves leave behind a nasty residue.
What do we do with this violent surplus? It’s a question that haunts the book. What’s not mentioned is that Nelson has written two previous books, a memoir and a poetry-prose collection, about an instance of violence in her own family history: the 1969 murder of an aunt she’d never met, her mother’s younger sister. So Nelson has been a practitioner of the art of cruelty, too, transforming violence into a métier. It’s exactly these unsaids, the unmastered fascinations being worked out on the page, that make this book so unpredictable and original.
in New York Times, “Why Is Contemporary Art Addicted to Violence?”
By LAURA KIPNISJULY 14, 2011
A review about
THE ART OF CRUELTY
By Maggie Nelson
Although renowned political scientist John Mearsheimer does not consider himself to be an isolationist – a term which has acquired a negative connotation since WWII – his definition is illuminating as much for clarifying what the term does not mean as for what it does.
In America Unhinged, Mearsheimer writes: “Isolationism rests on the assumption that no region of the world outside of the Western Hemisphere is of vital strategic importance to the United States. Isolationists do not argue that America has no interests in the wider world, just that they are not important enough to justify deploying military force to defend them. They are fully in favor of engaging with the rest of the world economically as well as diplomatically, but they view all foreign wars as unnecessary.”
The Morally and Intellectually Bankrupt
The U.S. needs to take the lead on de-militarizing and using the freed-up focus and resources to begin engineering a soft landing for the inevitable imperial/economic decline that we are already experiencing. By any rational measure, our interventions have been disasters, creating more problems than they solve. There is a reason why we are known in other parts of the world as “The Empire of Chaos.”
We use our military to relentlessly kill and destroy because our political leaders no longer have the will or imagination to build something constructive. Militarism is the refuge of the morally and intellectually bankrupt.
With a Pentagon budget that comprises 54 percent of the discretionary budget – not counting the black budget expenditures of intelligence agencies estimated at an additional $52 billion annually — this is 4 percent more than 1990 levels – the time at which the late expert on the military industrial complex, Seymour Melman, made the following observation:
“The American ruling class, by 1990, has become a state/corporate managerial entity. Together they control the military-industrial complex. … The war economy, in the service of extending the decision power and wealth of America’s state and corporate managers, has been consuming the US civilian infrastructure. Roads, bridges, the water supply, waste disposal systems, housing, medical care facilities, schools are in disrepair from coast to coast.”
Currently, the number one spender on the military at approximately 50 percent of the world total, we are also set to spend $1 trillion on an updated nuclear arsenal, partly justified by a rivalry with the Russian Federation, a face-off that is recognized as largely contrived by those who have a true understanding of post-Soviet U.S.-Russia relations.
American Victims of Empire
Over 7,000 American military personnel have lost their lives so far in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, 56 percent of veterans are receiving treatment with the VA, half have applied for permanent disability and a third are being treated for PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression. Some 250,000 have suffered a traumatic brain injury and close to 2,000 have had limbs amputated. Approximately 175,000 veterans are 70 – 100 percent disabled. It is estimated that care and compensation for veterans of these wars over the coming decades will reach $1 trillion.
The overall cost of these wars is projected to be $6 trillion, enough for every American household to receive $75,000. Although, military investment does produce some jobs, investment in other sectors of the economy, like healthcare, would produce far more.
According to geopolitical analyst, Conn Hallinan, “We spend more on our ‘official’ military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined.”
In fact, if that $6 trillion spent on wars in the Middle East was to be invested in projects that improved Americans’ lives, we could achieve the following and still have some left over:
1. Completely upgrade our ailing infrastructure ($3.6 trillion);
2. Invest the upfront costs to implement the Stanford University planfor 100 percent renewable energy in the U.S. by 2050, creating almost 6 million jobs over 40 years in the process ($350 billion);
3. Expand Medicare to cover all Americans ($394 billion);
4. Double the salary of all high school teachers ($80 billion)
Instead, we have the budgetary sinkhole that has become the security state; simultaneously, our politicians have implemented major tax cuts for the wealthy. The result over the past 15 years is that we have witnessed the largest transfer of money upward to the wealthiest segment of our society.
Four hundred Americans now have more wealth, totaling $2 trillion, than 50 percent of all Americans combined. We have also officially become an oligarchy, where only corporations and the super wealthy are able to influence policy.
What are the implications of this chasm in socioeconomic equality in terms of America’s security?
Inequality and Domestic Security
In their seminal 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain their findings from years of research on social inequality and its relationship to the security of societies.
Based on studies of the wealthiest nations (market democracies), societies that have greater disparities of wealth – and, hence, social status – tend to experience lower levels of well-being and stability as indicated by the following criteria:
1) lower levels of trust among members of society,
2) higher rates of mental illness and addiction,
3) lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates,
4) more obesity,
5) lower children’s educational performance,
6) higher teenage births,
7) more homicides,
8) high incarceration rates, and
9) less social mobility.
These trends held regardless of the overall wealth of the societies involved. More equality made between 3 and 10 times a difference in well-being and social security when comparing the market democracies of the world.
Let’s look at how the U.S. rates on these criteria:
1) Only 1/3 of Americans trust others, according to a 2013 AP-GfK poll
2) The U.S. has the highest rate of mental illness, including addiction, in the world (WHO)
3) Life expectancy for the U.S. is 26th out of the 36 OECD nations, while the U.S. also has the worst infant mortality rate in the West (CDC)
4) According to a study published by The Lancet in 2014, the US is the most obese nation on the planet
5) The U.S. ranks 36th in the world for educational performance
6) The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world (CDC)
7) The U.S. ranks first in homicide rates in the western world and seventh for the entire world
8) The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth, both in terms of the per capita rate and the overall number of people locked up
9) A child born into poverty in the U.S. today has a 33 percent chance of moving up the socioeconomic ladder, compared to a 50 percent chance in 1946
As it turns out, America is indeed exceptional, but not in the way President Obama would like everyone to believe.
in “The Staggering Cost Of The Washington Imperium In Dollars And Lives”
by Consortium News • August 26, 2016
By Natylie Baldwin