Chris Floyd raises some excellent objections to Glenn Greenwald's thesis, and to my comments on it. In particular, he wonders why the present Manicheanism should be seen as unique in American history:
If anything, the Cold War "division of Good v. Evil" was far more "simpleminded" than what we see today. Imagine a Cold War president stating in public that Communism was a worthy doctrine, dedicated to human betterment, but had unfortunately been hijacked by extremists and rogue states, etc. Yet Bush has consistently made such remarks about Islam (for public consumption, at least). And of course, many of his allies in his "Terror War" are Muslims....This is a vast subject, worthy of a book of its own (there probably is one already) and I can only offer a few tentative thoughts. Manicheanism has certainly been a force in American history before the present era, but I'm not sure I would ascribe to it all the examples above. For instance, my old pomo philosophy training tells me that inasmuch as there was any philosophical aspect to the genocide of Native Americans (as opposed to simple, brute material interest), it was more a matter of Enlightenment's hostile indifference to the "not-rational." In fact, most of Floyd's examples strike me as being matters that were much less defined by a division of Good v. Evil than by the general Western assumption of white superiority, which manifested and was justified in all kinds of ways, but which I'm not sure can be described as "Manichean."
But the fact is, such Manicheanism has been long been operative in American history. What else but a simpleminded division of Good v. Evil, a rampant and uncritical exceptionalism, could have "justified" the decimation of the Native Americans and the theft of their land? Or the existence of slavery -- and its incorporation into the Constitution itself? Or the mass-slaughtering conquest and "pacification" of the Philippines, which the Manichean McKinley saw as a holy crusade to "Christianize" the benighted natives (many of whom were already Catholics)? Wasn't this same kind of Manicheanism -- this automatic assumption that whatever we do is "good," that whatever serves our interests (or rather, the interests of those who rule us) is right and honorable -- operative in the CIA's overthrowing of government after government throughout the Cold War?