Thursday, December 22, 2005

It Is Machiavellian

OK, I figured out how to put it into words.  Scanning the Arborblogs aggregator, I encountered a post from Juan Cole, with this:
One thing that is increasingly clear is that the Bush administration is stuck in the Cold War. It is using illegal spying on US citizens to monitor the Catholic Workers and interlibrary loan requests for Mao's Little Red Book. (This library incident cannot be dismissed as a hoax on present evidence. It turns out that the student ordered the book over the phone. University authorities are looking into it.)

The obsession with Catholic Workers and Mao is *so* 1950s, and demonstrates that the administration doesn't really care about al-Qaeda and isn't even mainly using the act to combat that sort of terrorism. In fact, with all its powers, it is hard for the Federal government to point to any successful domestic investigation and prosecution of al-Qaeda-type terrorists in the US.
This actually is connected to the creationism/ID movement, peripherally; and more directly, to the Republican war on science.  Note that I appreciate the fact that not all creationism/ID proponents have the same agenda; some are sincere.  What bothers me is that some are not sincere, and they provide a convenient platform for the broader war on science.  And that is positively Machiavellian.  

One of Machiavelli's principles was this: those who would consolidate power, need to sweep aside any group that could potentially raise a challenge to their power.  That, of course,  is Dr. Cole's point.  The fact that government surveillance is partly directed at college students studying Mao, and a Catholic Worker's organization, indicates that they are using the Global and Perpetual War on Terrorism as a cover for their agenda of sweeping aside any potential opposition.  

In other repressive regimes, students, scientists, and other intellectuals often turn out to be leaders of dissent.  Thus, anyone who wants to grab power in the USA needs to find a way to invalidate the voice of those potential dissenters.  That is what the war on science is about.  And that is why the creationism/ID efforts disturb me so much.  It is one little slice of the broader agenda of the PNAC folks (1 2).  The fact that it is appealing to some innocent people, who unwittingly hop on board, makes it especially distasteful.