Wednesday, March 16, 2016
HIGHLY recommended: Hearts and Minds
I’ve seen documentaries so obscure I can’t even find them on the internet, and yet somehow until recently I hadn’t seen one of the best of all time, Peter Davis’ 1974 Hearts and Minds.
The moment that best captures the spirit of US imperialism during the past century or so is a scene at a Revolutionary War reenactment in Croton, New York. A reenactor is asked to think about commonalities, to consider the Vietnamese in terms of revolutionary anti-colonial struggle. The young man responds derisively: “Are you kidding? Oriental politics? Don’t put me on!”
So much of US imperialism rests on this assumption: that people in most of the world have no politics. They can be clients, stooges, pawns, threats, enemies, rebels, savages, primitives, labor, markets, religious zealots, henchmen, fanatics, or victims, but they don’t – and can’t – have genuine politics, understood in the same terms as our own.