Facilitate the power of love - confront the love of power

Fri, 08 Jul 2005

Cultures of domination

The Holy Enemies of Pax Americana, its mirrors in militant fundamentalism, and papal Catholicism's love affair with power all seem transparent examples of institutional domination. So much so that we can fail to notice that the excesses of the imperia we have elected, or adopted, or had thrust upon us... torture, state terrorism... the killing and traumatization of civilians... are on a continuum that includes the world we inhabit and support.

I call this continuum, a culture of domination, a multi-threaded mix of custom and practice, close at hand, in us and around us, that makes the bullying,  victimhood and damage of domination seem natural and inevitable. 

As evidence of this naturalisation, to bring it into awareness, I collect images of my local cultures of domination. Take a look at the selection of them below. I've found, as I hope you will, that rather than seeming to be a given, like the weather, by bringing them out into the light of day they become more susceptible to choice, interruption and confrontation. And less undermining of 'living from love'.

One of the high status locations of European civilization, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Figures on the entrance gates to the Royal Palace Prague.

High up on an outside wall of San Marco in Venice, Hercules teaches someone a lesson.

Hercules again.

In a shop window near where I live, this banner and the toys (below) that it promotes, introduce young boys  to the delights of bullying and violence.


Smash! Crunch!  Toy on sale in an Italian market.

For some reason an Internet provider thought this direct mail offer would be just what I needed.

Music can be violent too, have fun with The Killers.

Or if The Killers aren't enough, try TeamKilling.

And in Brussels in the weeks and months when Iraq is still being torn apart you could enjoy violently explosive bottled water.

Old wars can be such fun as well! Video game advertised on the London Underground.

A weeks long advertising campaign in Belgium for the local lottery took the form of a naval battle (here and below).

Translation: In Sea battle! the only winner is you!
As of November 3, thanks to Sea Battle you will scratch, bombard and explode everything! Aim: sink all the ships, reap in a maximum of Euros.
So, throw yourself in the water and scratch a Sea Battle!

Of course people do get hurt in naval battles but it's still such fun to win them isn't it?

Summer 2005 saw shedloads of people, royalty included, having fun celebrating the deaths of over 4000 sailors in a reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Why limit our fun to sea battles? Let's have Total War.

Enhance the fun of the computer games violence, run these games on a weaponised PC.

As the headline admits, cultures of domination legitimize violence and hide the damage, distress and traumatization that it entails. Either, as in video  games, by creating virtual worlds, or though splitting/dissociation, becoming entranced, so that the consequences of our actions drop out of awareness.

The 'warrior', pinnacle of (prepsychological) manhood.

The 'warrior' again, have  fun 'killing people and breaking things', as a marine in Iraq described his work .

More warriors as heroic entertainment.

Still more warriors, note the touching body language.

More warriors, they also have God on their side.

In this picture from the Abu Ghraib series, note the man with his underpants pulled down, for reasons of 'abuse' of course, not 'torture', and the green gloves on the standing soldier, could they be...? No, surely not... the green hulk gloves you saw earlier?

A female Abu Ghraib warrior entertaining herself with a corpse

Another warrior ready and willing to show that, through video executions and suicide bombings, he too will stop at nothing to demonstrate that he and his allies have the will and the means to match US efforts to dominate the world.

Go to Iraq. Kill. Break things. Have fun with the locals.
"Lcpl Boudreaux killed my dad and he knocked up my sister"
Evidence that photo is not a fake

Heroic Triumphalism as the US exits Falluja after the failed first siege.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Iraq-style 

Delivering 'freedom' and 'democracy'. This, I seem to recall, is an image of the US military visiting the Falluja hospital in the early days of the second attack on that city.

Abu Ghraib: The US press and administration calls this 'abuse' to hide the pain, suffering and subsequent traumatization that calling it 'torture' would bring into the daylight.

God's army at work in Iraq.
'Thank you O God for surrounding our personnel, their families, and our allies with your favour and your faithfulness.
Deploy your Host from heaven so that your will for America will be performed on earth as it is already perfected in Heaven'.  From Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell's Benediction at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration

God's army works in the music industry too. Christianity under threat? Or christianity will blow you away?

God's army at work in the press. The Sword and the Cross. Conquer the heathen... Repel the infidel! This UK newspaper has had a crusader on its masthead for as long as I can remember.

Video game: have fun killing Islamists!

Cinema: spirituality crusader style

Jesus Saves! Join this crusade to discover the perfect fit between the Jesus message and an attacking eagle!

Think again it says. Yes, some animals are natural born killers but why, during a failing attack on Iraq by the overwhelming military resources of the US, should we be so so interested in predation?

Curious.This violent predatory animal has a strongly middle eastern flavour.

Find another violent predator... show that you can overcome its resistance and impose your will on it... demonstrate  your dominance.

Buy a horse, take out a subscription for some hounds. Hunt and kill a violent predator... show that you can impose your will on it... demonstrate  your dominance, reinforce the naturalness of it with archaic dressing up.

Another man riding high on a horse. One of the classic hypnotic images that entrance us into the belief that dominance is natural and inevitable. Few European cities are without several examples. This one is in Venice.

In this 2004 presidential election photo opportunity, John Kerry proves that he too subscribes to core American family values... he too enjoys killing for fun.

More core American family values...  This Texas shop stocks camouflage hunting clothes for children (picture courtesy of IB)

'Don't wait to introduce your favorite baby to the great outdoors! This adorable little romper will be a hit with friends and family', from a women hunters web catalog

Oh yes, and  genocide can be fun too.

Appropriate an icon of leadership, the Native American Chieftain, delete the pain and suffering that the genocidal destruction of his culture entailed and use it to promote your West London restaurant.

Appropriate 'Cherokee Nations' as an icon, delete the pain and suffering that the genocidal destruction of their culture entailed and use it to promote your SUV.
What next? The 'Auschwitz Special Edition' from Mercedes?

Complete and absolute control... especially over bodies.

With complete and absolute control even the damage and pain of surgery can be entertaining fun.

Buy yourself another face, Michael Jackson did.

Have fun mutilating yourself, this woman does

If we had total control... of what happens in the brain.... then maybe we could be permanently happy. Until then domination and abuse of animals will have to do.

And the total control of grinding out the same tune day after day is made attractive by having a fragment of 'nature' on a chain, or in a flowerpot.

Total control used to mean swaddling babies so that they could be hung up on a wall, or on the back of a door, out of the way of grown ups.

Total control used to mean that infanticide and abandonment were commonplace. Until 1875, the hospital in Florence that owns this picture had a public window through which you could post your unwanted baby.

Total control used to mean beating and  tormenting babies and young children to break their will, and to expel the sinfulness of their disobedience.

Two children under the age of 15 die from abuse in the UK each week.

Loving care for children is historically quite recent. Extremes of violence were commonplace in schools, workplaces and homes until the middle of the 20th century, and still are in some cultures.

In Japan some people believe that distressed children grow up to be big and strong. This baby is in a competition for the loudest crying baby.

The illusion that humankind can own and thus control the whole world, if only we could get a sufficient grip on it, isn't a new notion. As witness this art atop of the Berlin Post Office c1875

Keeping an eye on the whole world.
'The mission of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency [DARPA] is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use'. 
Translation: be sure that for the US military 'full spectrum dominance'  means what it says.

Unfortunately, what has been described as the the ultimate smart weapon, suicide bombing, seems to have got under the radar of the DARPA agency

Cultures of domination mass-manufacture victimhood

Ad in US magazine c1970

Street poster in Brussels

Ad in Belgian supermarket magazine

Jeans ad in Brussels

Ad in Brussels Midi metro station

Ad in Venice shop window

Ad outside government offices in Brussels.
Many women don't need to be reminded of the cultures of domination that seek, literally and metaphorically, to shape them and their preferences,. Many more seem only too willing to buy into the notion of becoming some form of sexual commodity.

And, if even Emotion can become a commodity, what is ruled out?

I've never been able to make sense of this statue at a tram stop in Brussels' Avenue Louise. A terrified, manacled negroid boy and a manacled non-negroid man being eaten by two lions.  Victims of Belgian care for the Congo?

I've never been able to make much sense of this Brussels car ad either. Doesn't look much like love to me.

This French ad is from a time when petrol companies still thought ever expanding markets were good business.

Another example of how cultures of domination legitimize violence. Making a disconnect, as in this UK high street product, between images of harm and the felt experience of having your fingers amputated.

Here is another example of disconnect. Hands torn from an unknown person  coupled to a smile of pleasure.

Yet another disconnect. The necklace being admired in this Belgian ad is described as a 'Créateur d'émotion'. What kind of emotion do you think the dog trapped outside the lift is going to feel?

It takes a disconnect  to enable, or bystand, this Israeli destruction in the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah. The same disconnect sustains ignorance of the probability that the traumatization of such children will still be shaping their values and motivations for generations.

Honour the birthday of Jesus, get a gun for Xmas

'High octane', 'explosions', 'blow away the competition'. Damage-free warfare talk.

Free post card from a local café

Free post card from a local café

Free post card from a local café

Disconnect the damage and pain from violence and what are you left with? Mr and Mrs Average?

'It starts with them saying to a  therapist that they have an "average" marriage. Then it shows their  jobs, both of them, neither of them knowing about the other, involve endless hired killings, for no particular reason indicated in the  movie. Half way through their endless killings they (for no  particular reason indicated in the movie) go after each other to kill  their spouses. Then, near the end of the movie (we finally walked out  in disbelief), a couple of gangs try to kill both of them, with  endless explosions. Now you know how an "average marriage" feels  these days.'    Elist message

This is the last frame of a TV promotion run in the summer 2005 by the BBC's Channel 3 that consisted of scenes of people killing or being killed.

'Powerful stylish', 'a shot in the arm',  'gripping'. 'You get only one shot at life'. More damage-free warfare-talk.

More 'spectacular', 'stylish', and 'provocative' guns at the heart of musical entertainment

As I guess most of the world knows, the 'terrorist' the headlines refer to was a Brasilian electrician unconnected with the recent bombings in the UK, who was killed by eight bullets from armed police while held face down on the floor of a London underground train.

Notice in London's Notting Hill Gate underground station.
Service information
Date 26 July 2005
Time All day
Please do not run on the
platforms or concourses.
Especially if you are carrying
a rucksack, wearing a big
coat or look a bit foreign.
This notice is for your own safety.
Thank you.