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The Zombie State

Am Johal | 20.10.2004 23:34 | Analysis | Culture | London | World

-As the combat continues, maybe it's time to take a
look at ourselves

For the two years following September 11th, the
Western public was inundated with propaganda to such a
vociferous degree that to be a critical voice was to
be heretical and be considered a traitor - we citizens
became passive consumers lodged in a 'Zombie State.'
This period did not do justice to the idea of a free
and civil society, at least not one that involves a
critical citizenry. The idea of the 'Unconscious
Civilization' put forward by John Ralston Saul still
holds very true. This period showed how vulnerable
free societies are to centralized power even in
democratic societies and the role that an uncritical
mainstream media plays in perpetuating myths and

Will this be the age of Bush, Saddam, Enron, Martha
Stewart, Halliburton, Bin Laden, Hamid Karzai and
Aaron Brown on CNN with the towers in the background?

We were all duped into hating Arabs and believing in a
war that didn't have to happen. We were fed images we
hadn't seen before of what came across as savage,
backward societies - exotic, from a different world.
We didn't know enough, but we were being taught to
hate. And so we all got aboard the American train
thinking that bombing our way to peace was the answer.
Thousands of innocent lives were lost in the haste to
pass judgement. Instead of cultivating our better
selves, we showed how primitive we can be.

This will be known as a backward time in human
history, one that showed not only the worst excesses
of Muslim fundamentalism, but that Western societies
are constructed to be passive and uncritical. Through
this trauma, hopefully it will mean that American
hegemony and its implications will be deconstructed by
its own citizens.

In the end, we allowed the most public critics of the
war to be vilified. We didn't ask the most important
questions until it was too late.

Now that the American election campaign is only a few
weeks away, the differences don't seem very large.
The grappling for the public mind is taking on an eery
familiarity. It's as if we've seen this all before -
it's a rerun. Why shouldn't the public feel
disenfranchised, disinterested and exiled from the
public sphere? Why not vote Nader or just stay at
home on election day?

Am Johal
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