Viewing posts tagged war

Once More With Feeling?

It is incredibly depressing to realise that I have been asking the rulers of the state I live in to refrain from bombing Iraq for my entire fucking life.

There's an extent to which the 'it won't work' critique is entirely valid as an objection to waging yet more war upon the Middle East.  Because the surface aim of the politicians is almost certainly to impose 'stability' on 'the region'.  They like stability.  No threats to embarass them, no revolts to topple their friendly dictators, no threat to Israel, no danger to neoliberal exploitation of local resources and markets, etc.  And, as has been shown, it doesn't work.  They try and try to bomb the Middle East into passive compliance, and all they succeed in doing is generating more troubles for their empire.

This is, of course, what empires have always done.  Create the problems of tomorrow by viciously conquering the problems of today.

But there's another sense in which the 'it won't work' argument is fatally flawed, because there's a sense in which it does work.  It may never achieve 'stability' but it does keep the ...

Good Soldiers (Into the Dalek)

'Into the Dalek' is about good soldiers vs bad soldiers.

The pain of being a good soldier, the pain of the memories which a good soldier has, vs the anaesthetised mind of the bad soldier.

But, of course, what do we mean by terms like 'good' and 'bad'?

For the army, a 'good' soldier is a soldier who obeys orders without question, kills without hesitation, and doesn't let themselves be haunted.

A 'bad' soldier is a soldier who thinks about, and makes decisions based upon, things other than the orders of a superior... perhaps leading to their inability, or refusal, to kill on command.

In a soldier, morality is a malfunction.  A good soldier is a 'bad' soldier.  Because good people can't do a soldier's job, which is to fight and kill.

At least, that might be how the Doctor would put it, in his simplistic way.  The Doctor doesn't like soldiers.  As in 'The Sontaran Stratagem' he is rude and patronising to the soldiers he meets as a matter of course.  He refuses to take Journey Blue with him because she's a soldier.

But the soldiers on the Aristotle ...

5

"I know it sounds mad," says Martha, "but when the Doctor became human, he took the alien part of himself and he stored it inside the watch. It's not really a watch, it just looks like a watch."

"And 'alien' means 'not from abroad', I take it," enquires the frankly incredulous Joan.

"The man you call John Smith... he was born on another world."

"A different species."

"Yeah."

Joan is a sensible woman from 1913 and she's not having any of this nonsense.

"Then tell me," she presses, "in this fairy tale, who are you?"

"Just a friend. I'm not... I mean, you haven't got a rival, as much as I might... Just his friend."

"And human, I take it?"

She humouring the deranged girl.  As John said earlier, it must be culture shock.  Someone from a less developed culture trying and failing to understand the scientific romances of an ordinary school teacher... an ordinary school teacher, by the way, with whom she is far too familiar.

"Human," confirms Martha, "Don't worry. And more than that: I just don't follow him around. I'm training to be a doctor. Not an alien ...

11

Adric has found the Doctor sulking in the TARDIS cloisters.  The Doctor has lost Romana and K9.  He's feeling his age.  His ship seems to be falling apart too.  The stone pillars, overrun with vines, crumble under his fingers.   And, to cap it off, Adric wants to be taken back to Gallifrey.

"I sometimes think I should be running a tighter ship," he says sadly.

"A tighter ship?" gasps Adric, as though this is a threatening notion.

"Yes. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is taking its toll on the old thing. Entropy increases."

"Entropy increases?"

"Yes, daily.  The more you put things together, the more they keep falling apart.  That's the essence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and I never heard a truer word spoken."

It's only fitting that the Doctor should fight one of his most elemental battles against omnipresent entropy.  The Doctor has encountered entropy many times on his travels.  The Tribe of Gum were dangerous because their world was dying in the cold, all heat drained away.  The Moroks froze entropy in an attempt to freeze their own declining imperial history.  Skaro ...

33

Enlightenment and Persuasion have walked in on the Doctor and his friends.  They now look human.  A man and a woman, created from a sketch Tegan drew.  Pale, impassive, handsome, impeccably-groomed people in clothes that Tegan thought fashionable.  They look like she modelled them on First Class passengers on Concorde.  The Jet Set. 

Persuasion hands round drinks.  Nothing more persuasive than that.

Enlightenment is explaining her transformation from frog to aspirational 80s princess.  She speaks in cut-glass vowels and icicle consonants.

"We enjoy the most advanced technology in the universe," she claims, her voice suffused with nonchalant arrogance.

She was kissed by technology.

"The dominant emotion on planet Earth is fear," says Persuasion suavely.  Yes, that's always how the 'natives' look to the 'explorers'.  Fearful little things.  "When last we were there, our reception was hostile."

Tegan, a woman from a nation built on the destruction and subjugation of 'natives' by 'explorers', is not fooled.

"Yeah, that doesn't surprise me," she sneers.

"Well, we must read your history books," says the Doctor.  There is no better way to learn about the mindset of the rulers of ...

45

In a bunker filled with stacks and stacks of munitions shells, Millington is demonstrating his secret weapon.  He breaks a capsule inside a sealed glass box.  Green fog pours out.  The doves inside slowly choke to death. 

"Just think what a bomb full could do to Dresden.  Or Moscow," says Millington.  "It could mean the end of the war," he says perfunctorily.  The old, eternal justification.  

But Millington isn't trying to end a war.  He's trying to start a new one.  In his twisted mind, the final battle of Norse mythology has become entwined with the final battle between his way of life and the "revolution" that Sorin believes in.

(Just like Churchill, who asked his generals to come up with a plan for a surprise attack on the USSR, using German troops, after Allied victory over the Nazis.  Learning of the American success with the atomic bomb he grew even bolder, saying "We can tell the Russians if they insist on doing this or that, well we can just blot out Moscow, then Stalingrad, then Kiev, then Sevastopol".)

Millington's green fog, harvested from a well ...

A Town Without Context

On 'A Town Called Mercy'

The ends can justify the means, but there needs to be something which justifies the ends.
 - Trotsky

Jex experiments on people in order to create a cyborg supersoldier.  His motive is to end a war which is killing his people.  But were his people the attackers or the attacked?  That this is ignored tells us a great deal about the writer/s but deprives us of the possibility of making moral sense of the story.  It is ignored, presumably because it is considered irrelevant.  Yet, the whole point of the story appears to be the question of whether Jex is a bad man or a good one... with the answer being, of course, "yes".  But I'd argue that the wider social context of Jex's actions (beyond just saying that 'it was war') is as important as it is obscure.

The notion - that war is, as Jex puts it, "a different world" in which normality shifts drastically and morality becomes fuzzy - is, for a start, a somewhat glib truism.  Like all such glib truisms, it can be pressed into service (i.e. "Yes, an invasion will ...

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