Subject: Waco - a postmodernist view by Don Webb Date: 8 Aug 1993 08:43:23 GMT I found the

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From: (Steve Crocker) Subject: Waco - a postmodernist view by Don Webb Date: 8 Aug 1993 08:43:23 GMT I found the following on the WELL gopher. While I have no particular allegiance to post-modernism, I thought Don's article was interesting and provocative and worth sharing here. -Steve Ancient Wars with Modern Weapons by Don Webb Although no one asked for this, here are my thoughts on the Waco tragedy. Reasonable people can not fail to be outraged by the events of April 19, 1993 in Waco, as well as by those of the preceding 51 days. What we witnessed was nothing less than a War of Paradigms: The medieval world of the Davidians came face to face with the modern one represented by the Federal Government. We can learn much from observing the conflict. A paradigm is a pattern of thinking which shapes the subjective universe of the thinker. The shape of this paradigm will also affect the way the subject looks at things in the objective universe. How the subject looks at an object will often determine how that object will in turn behave toward the subject. All individuals operate from within paradigms of some sort. They are usually fragmented and unfocused for ordinary people. The unification and focusing of consciousness within a paradigm (or complex of consciously interrelated paradigms) is a hallmark of Initiation. Not only individuals, but also schools of thought or Philosophies operate from within collective paradigms. Additionally, each Age or Epoch of human history is governed by a certain paradigm-- called a Zeitgeist by Hegel. It is worth noting that such Epochs or Ages must be defined in regional rather than global terms, because there is no evidence for species-wide or global change when it comes to the paradigms governing human history. In given cultural regions, however, such as the one which might be called the "western culture," i.e. that dominated by the western Indo-European linguistic heritage, epochal paradigms can be identified and are useful in understanding the essence of the network of subjective universes which constitute the cultural group. The medieval paradigm, which was the intellectually established paradigm in European society from about 500 to 1500 CE, is based on the key-word faith. Faith is ultimately by definition irrational. The Davidians were practicing a world-view, or paradigm, based on faith. The modern paradigm is on the contrary based on the key-word reason. This paradigm has been the intellectually established one in western society from about 1500 to the model of this century. Unfortunately most would-be "modernists" are not very good practitioners of the chief tool of their Age. Most are in fact hypocritical believers grasping at the conceit that they are indeed "reasonable." Nevertheless, what we saw in Waco was the conflict between these two myths-- one which celebrates salvation through irrational faith in a miraculous power the other which aims to "perfect" society through the establishment and enforcement of rational laws. A war of paradigms comes about when two world views, each of which can not tolerate the existence of the other, come together in a single place and time. Something must give. Apparently the Davidians first official crime was that they had too many guns. Despite the fact that there is or was) no evidence to indicated that any weapons had been obtained illegally, there was sufficient speculation to prompt the ATF to stage a Sunday morning raid on Mt. Carmel. Although this raid was practiced by ATF men repeatedly at Ft. Hood in nearby Killeen, and the alleged violation was that the Davidians were too well armed, when the ATF stormed the compound they were obviously out maneuvered by the untrained, inexperienced and only marginally prepared "cultists." This leads me to conclude that although the "charge" was to be "too many guns" the real belief of the ATF going in was that there weren't all that many guns. It has all the appearances of a typical government attempt to grab some positive headlines-- in the fight against guns, cults and all-around "weird thinking." (Note the timing of the raid: Sunday morning, with camera crews brought along-- all aimed at dominating the Sunday evening news broadcasts when there is usually otherwise nothing much to report.) Of course, all this backfired on the government when they found out (the hard way) that the Davidians did have quite a few guns after all, and what was more surprising to the ATF, I'm sure, is that they were not afraid to use them! From the beginning of the siege at Mt. Carmel, the Davidian compound was treated as enemy territory. It was more like a foreign or rebellious state than a "crime scene." This was reinforced on both sides-- the Davidian flag flying over the compound was conspicuous in its singularly "un-American" aspect. While the ATF/FBI forces contended to the news media that they were negotiating, trying to assure those inside that those outside could be trusted-- by night the government used wartime psychological operations (PSYOP) techniques against those inside. The sounds of dentist's drills and that of rabbits being slaughtered were broadcast over loudspeakers throughout the night. These tactics can hardly have reasonably been intended to cause those inside to "trust" the government officials! In fact such tactics could have only been intended to cause someone who the FBI had determined to be "psychologically unstable" to become further unhinged. At no time was the wartime mentality of the government officials more clear than in the final hours of the conflict. When the tanks rolled into the compound on the final assault, they flew American (Federal) flags. (This was apparently done so that the Davidians wouldn't mistake them for Russian invaders, we can reasonably suppose.) Also, once the whole compound had been reduced to rubble, and the Davidian flag had poetically consigned itself to the flames, the Texas Rangers, like the Marines on Iwo Jima, raised the Texas flag on the flagpole to wave above the (re-)conquered territory. (The next day the Yankees in the area soon had our boys do it right by putting the "stars and stripes" over the Texas flag.) It is clear that throughout the conflict the Davidians were thought of not as criminals or heretics so much as they were thought to be an "enemy." All government pronouncements from day-2 of the conflict forward must be interpreted in light of this reality. Perhaps it was not entirely that way on day 1. In the beginning of the situation it appears that the Davidians were to be cast in the role of the "criminal-heretics." The ATF was to go in on Sunday morning and, Rambo-like, overrun the criminal-heretics and stand up proudly on the Sunday night news broadcasts telling about how it was a dangerous mission but someone's got to keep America safe. In the beginning the Davidians were to be nothing more than the "straw-man" that used to be set up in ancient warrior initiations. The straw-man would be felled by the newly initiated warrior to boost his courage and confidence in a ritual setting. When this straw-man stuck back, the game was over and the war was on. What can not be ignored are the "reasons" the ATF went in in the first place. Based on "reports" they suspected that the Davidians had acquired parts of weapons which, although legal to buy individually, might be construed to be illegal if combined. Sounds serious! Also (if that were not enough to mount a major ATF mission) there were reports of possible child abuses. This is, after all, a prerequisite part of any public relations campaign against any group-- from ancient times to the present. (There has been no actual evidence of such child abuse, only "reports" from "experts" whose speculations can easily be turned into facts in the minds of credulous government officials.) The real reason why the ATF stormed the Davidian compound is simply that they had reason to believe they had "too many guns" and that the ATF certainly felt it could not only "get away with" the raid from a public relations standpoint, but make enormous "brownie points" with the public because of the ease with which David Koresh and his followers could be cast in the role of the "crazy cultists." Here was the government's chance to pull a John-Wayne-style raid on an honest to god cult. (They study the Bible more than once a week!) ( I was once asked if I believed in the Bible -- Hell yes -- I've even seen one!) Polls continue to show that at least in that respect the government was right. There is no sympathy for Koresh and his followers in the public at large. "Reasonable" citizens saw them as kooks (they brought it all on themselves by being too weird), while the "religious" masses saw them only as damned heretics who deserved what they got. Here in Austin on the Sunday following the final day, there was a protest gathering at the State Capitol attended by barely a dozen people (from the Libertarian Party), while in a nearby park a large crowd gathered to mourn the deaths of the four ATF agents cut down by Davidian resistance. At the time I am writing this there is no clear-cut determination on who or what started the final conflagration. What is clear, however, is that the government, from Clinton on down, has a story all picked out. Don't worry, all "evidence" will point to the conclusion already reached and tirelessly promoted by the "spin doctors." We can only hope for more objective investigations by outsiders to cast doubt on the governments' prepackaged scenario: "Lunatic, child-molesting, gun-crazy, murdering cult-leader kills followers and self in bizarre suicide rather than face the courts for the unprovoked killing of our fine, upstanding, churchgoing, taxpaying ATF agents." Objectively there seems to be as much evidence for the idea that the FBI ignited the fire (by accident or intentionally) as there is for the suicide story. But whatever the facts of the events of the last day, the conduct of the government for the preceding 51 days was clearly designed to result in an outcome of the type which did transpire. It is ironic, yet fitting, that a scenario which was begun as a publicity stunt and media event by the government, would end, like so many mindless and inane action-adventure or horror films produced in the 1980s, with a fiery conclusion. Everybody, including the head of the ATF, has sold stories to the highest As a side-note I would like to point out that David Koresh in every way fits the pattern of the gnostic, even Left-hand Path style, "Christian" leader. (For background on this I refer readers to to Morton Smith's Jesus the Magician and/or to Benjamin Walker's Gnosticism.) I put the word Christian in quotes because, although Koresh may indeed have been practicing what Jesus actually preached, almost all people calling themselves by that cult's name today found his teachings "confusing." They could not understand his claim to "be Christ," especially when this was coupled with the notion that being Christ was "no big deal." Koresh, or Vernon Howell, fits the biographical sketch of a "Christ" as well. He was born the illegitimate son of a 15 year-old girl and a carpenter. Ultimately he was persecuted by the secular authorities and eventually was killed, or ascended, in his thirty-third year. As expected the authorities declared one of the bodies to be that of Koresh, but given the track record of the government in this affair the "escape theories" can continue quite happily. What ultimate conclusion can be drawn from these findings. Has a former paradigm triumphed over a more recent one? The answer remains hidden behind the third element. The fact is that the events of the Paradigm War in Waco demonstrate the impotence of both the medieval and modern paradigms-- because both are essentially geared to play the same game, to fight the same kind of war. We stand on the threshold of a new epoch which goes beyond the collectivist totalitarianism of the medieval and modern Epochs. The postmodern world with its lack of centralized values can be the Epoch of freedom, provided that we find freedom in individualist approaches, which are neither exclusively rational or irrationally. We can look at Waco not to wonder about what went wrong, but how we can each find and defend our own freedoms as old beliefs systems fight old wars. Best Wishes, Don Webb


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