Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

Party at the Don


The Russian drug mafia suspended turf wars with the Ukrainian mafia and with the Colombian mafia and had a huge party hosted by Don Corleone on a man-made offshore island built literally from tightly pressed scads of cash. The occasion for the party? The re-organization of the FBI to fight Terrorism instead of Drugs, Fishy Banking and Prostitution Slavery. The actual reason for celebrating was not the FBI's disengagement from these matters; it had been a long time since the FBI had claimed any real victories in its wars. The War on Drugs, for instance, was so lost the pharmaceutical companies were called in to sign the surrender and come up with better, legal junk. No, the reason for the party was the FBI's moving to a higher level of abstraction. There is nothing the mafia, any mafia, hates more than specificity and clarity. The vagueness and abstraction of the War on Drugs was good: What drugs? Whose drugs? Big drugs? Small drugs? All those confusing questions made for a tangled abstract web that snared more good cops than a booby-trapped meth lab. But that was nothing compared with the War on Terrorism. With the exception of a few soldiers willing to blow themselves up -- and of those who finance them -- terrorists consist mostly of idea-men. Take late 19th century Anarchism, from which most modern terrorism comes: it consisted of a lot of people talking, shouting, disagreeing and publishing. Now and then an impressionable young person would take them seriously, make a bomb, and get famous. The talking anarchists were rightly suspicious of these young intense types, because they suspected that fame, more than ideas, was the true motivator. But whatever the case, the world's police forces were always mobilized after acts of terror were committed. A lot of anarchists were arrested, civil libertarians were aroused, and the police found itself mired in abstraction. The war on terrorists became a war on theorists. Yes, but this new Terrorism is different, some people say, because the new terrorists are better equipped with communications and money and their ideas are often religious. Even if this is true, the FBI still needs more philosophers than cops. Let's reorganize the humanities departments in universities. Pull a few thousand professors off the postmodern beat and train them to fight the bad theorists. And let's employ the mafias to use some of the money and time they'll have when the heat's off.

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