Thursday, July 13, 2006

Attempted Schadenfreude

By Kanrei
'Schadenfreude' is a German word that means essentially, "Taking Joy at Another's Sorrows." It is a recurring theme in history and is displayed, albeit usually subconsciously, in most victory celebrations. The victors take pleasure in another's defeat. It really is, to be honest, a great feeling except when phrased the way I just did. Anyone who has won after an hours-long Monopoly marathon knows the feeling of which I write.

The problem with schadenfreude is that it is addictive and inexpesnive -- yet it carries the risks of having it stuffed back in one's face. You see, it is very easy to make oneself feel good at an enemy's pain; especially when oneself is at no risk, personally. But what of getting slapped back before you are done laughing? This is what I like to call, "Attempted Schadenfreude." The British suffered from this in the Revolutionary War by laughing at the rebellion. The French suffered from it in South-East Asia (as did the United States), and the United States is feeling it now in Iraq.

"Attempted Schadenfreude" then, in my lexicon, means to celebrate victory too early. In the run-up to the the wars in Iraq, I was priviliged to observe how this diheartening phenomenon occurs both from a politically aware "90's-hippie teenager" and again as an adult. I wasn't hip to it the first time, possibly because I was scared of that "D" (spell out the word) word rising from the dead to steal my youth. But this time in Iraq I noticed victory announced from the deepest wells of those in leadership long before it was even decided to go to war. We heard about being greeted with flowers and candy, about how it would take weeks, not months. We heard cakewalk. If the people planning this war were in this mindset while planning it, how could they ever concieve of anything outside their ideals? I call this "pre-emptive victory."

Many wars are fought between nations and their armies. To them, war is a ritual. There is honor, there are rules. There is a clear idea of victory in mind and there is a plan to achieve it. They know when they have lost (one hopes) and when to surrender. The Revolutionary War was not that type of war to the Colonists. Southeast Asia was not that type of war to the Asians. Iraq is not that type of war to the Iraqis. To them, I can only assume from my limited access to information from there, that this is a fight for survival and it is "victory or death." They understand only one option and they see only one enemy. Their idea of victory is our leaving and their plan is to make it happen by any means neccessary.

We won. The schadenfreude was justified in the beginning. We over threw Saddam and got his diabolical sons. We celebrated their misery and this was justified. Then we caught Saddam and humiliated him on global TV, fresh from his spider's hole. We celebrated his misery and was justified. We captured tons of suspected insurgents and put them in Abu Ghareb. We saw the photos and we celebrated their misery and this was fitting and well. We held multiple elections. We established a Government. We helped write a Constitution. Then we stayed. Another reason to stay kept coming up. More carbombs go off. Iraqis began killing Iraqis, but they are leaving us alone so we celebrate their misery and this was also ratified as pure & true. We comfort ourselves by saying only 2500 dead! Only?

In the Revolutionary War, the South-East Asian Conflict, and the current whatever you-may-call-it happening now in Iraq, the larger forces all saw victory as assured when faced with a smaller, weaker, but determined group. The French did not learn from the English. So far, we have not learned from the French. People are saying we must stay and win, but I thought we already won. If the objectives are going to constantly change, how will anyone know what victory is?

Those in support of this war right now, the cheerleaders from the sidelines I am speaking of, not the troops. The "chickenhawks" are keeping this whatever you-may-call-it happening now in Iraq alive by wrapping it in schadenfreude. Most of us started to taste the bitterness of the Schadenfreude.... some of us need it.


kanrei said...

Thank you for the editing Horace.

Gal said...

Well thought out piece, Kan.

I call this "pre-emptive victory."

Great line.

They say, "To the victory goes the spoils" and "The winners get to write the history." It's too soon to tell who will win what or what the final version of the story will be. The whole ME is in turmoil, and because of our dependency on foreign oil and the nature of the global economy, as the ME goes, so go we. Unfortunately.

kanrei said...

Thank you Gal. The line you like was a Horace addition.
I am a good writer and have good ideas I do not always express well. Horace was a lot of help on that one.

kanrei said...

Uh oh...
Jack posted this at Drudge. I may have some troubles....

save me

Gal said...

The line you like was a Horace addition.

Well, then my hat's off to Horace.

I may have some troubles....

LOL Is JA trying to lure you back to drudge?!?

Gal said...

Oh, I get it: he's trying to lure people over to the Political War Zone by using you as a calling card. Let's see if it works. :-)

kanrei said...

I don't mind really, I am just scared of the trolls thinking I have something to do with it and still posting there or something. I do like the traffic idea. They click on the link and may wander here as well =D
Win win.