Loughran, writing about Afghanistan
in the Feb. 3 issue of the Bohemian
("Go to Your God," Open
Mic), could be right that the United
States is just another imperial power
like Britain or Persia, sure to meet "defeat" in
the Afghan/Pakistan theater.
But perhaps we'd better hope American foreign
policy represents something more than control
of resources, like democracy, pluralism and even
human rights, as corny as that sounds. And perhaps
there really is a face-off with radical Islam
and "we" need to prevail. There is the
argument that the United States represents something
important in human history and that this current
conflict is more akin to WW II than the Vietnam
War. Certainly the very bright and eager members
of the U.S. military believe so, as does much
of the country.
Did America conquer Japan or Germany? No. We conquered
their extraordinarily powerful culture of militarism.
We helped to establish democracy quickly and had
no problem befriending the people. We now have
no closer allies. The defeat of fascism is still
a seminal event in modern history not to be forgotten.
Those were giant battles in the 1940s involving
casualties running into the millions. The prosperity
and freedom of much of the world in 2010 is still
directly the outcome of that war.
In a lot of ways we are closer to peace than any
other time in human history. Our understanding
of the oneness of the human race is almost commonplace
now. We are not at odds with Japan or Germany.
Europe is at peace; it even joined in a union.
The Soviet Union miraculously changed internally,
let East Europe free up, and then Russia adopted "our" economic
system. Our militaries cooperate, and thousands
of people travel across our borders.
The Korean and Vietnam wars were basically surrogate
wars with the People's Republic of China, but
now the Chinese are raging capitalists and our
economies are astonishingly joined at the hip.
These three biggest players—Russia, the
United States and China—could reduce their
military budgets if they really put their minds
to it. So what's left? The battle with holier-than-thou
Islamic jihadists. Their destructive desire is
a legitimate concern, and America actually is
not about to retreat inside its borders in response.
We are extremely engaged worldwide, and many aid
workers and people with middle-class aspirations
hope we don't abandon them to this ruthlessly
violent sect. So, peace-loving friends, let's
find something else to get excited about—like
I myself like to concentrate on building a sharing,
cooperative culture through the intentional-communities
movement. The American people are sorely divided.
Perhaps a greater appreciation of America's role
in the world from the left, one that concentrated
on positive building instead of constant criticism,
would go a long way to healing our national rift
and helping America play another outstandingly
positive chapter in world history.
Nationally, we now face overdevelopment, and the
rest of the world will too. I believe that sharing,
caring and generosity are the catch-phrases of
the future, and this is where more energy is needed.
Stop fretting about Afghanistan. Use the most
freedom and prosperity humanity has ever had to
create a shining example of a more cooperative
Here we have the perfect opportunity. From rock
stars to athletes to millions of successful working
folks, more wealth is at our disposal than ever
in history. Whose fault is it our society is dominantly
about selfishness and accumulation? How hard is
that to change? You won't get jailed for it. With
massive unemployment and a new concern for the
environment, the conditions are ripe for creating
land-based communities of people learning to live
and survive in cooperation. This would be a shining
light; this would be a contribution to the world
I have such a sense of how powerful this people
power movement could be. The Vietnam War is over.
This is a new day. The new paradigm, the transformation,
is not about a thousand protests but about creating
a more joyous cooperative culture. What was it
that St. John said? You might say that I'm the
dreamer, but you know, I'm not the only one.
Arthur Kopecky is author of 'New Buffalo:
Journals from a Taos Commune' and 'Leaving New
Buffalo Commune' (UNM Press). He works as a contractor
and carpenter (used to anyhow), and is active
with the intentional communities movement.