But with this one, there is something more.
These connect quite organically with the ideas in this piece, posted over a year ago here on NSB.]
When Loyalty is Not a Moral Virtue
While in many contexts loyalty is rightly regarded as an important moral virtue, Bush’s excessive valuing of loyalty is less a sign of his appreciating a moral virtue than of his inhabiting a world in which true morality is scarcely relevant.
That’s what underlies Bush’s pronounced penchant for appointing cronies rather than well-qualified people, and of his bestowing honors on people who have stood by him while failing the country.
So when this president bestows the Medals of Freedom on a George Tenant, whose failures in the pre-war intelligence helped plunged America into a disastrous war, or on Paul Bremer, whose misjudgments helped squander what chances there were of avoiding disaster, it is indeed a scandal. For these honors are supposed to acknowledge achievements in the service to the nation as a whole, and to the nation’s values, and not just loyal service to an individual.
But while calling it a scandal is a valid moral judgment on this president’s actions, we should also understand that Bush’s excessive valuing of loyalty is a clue to why this president consistently works to advance his own power at the cost of the nation’s good order.
The Psychology of the Fortified Castle
History reveals that groups in which loyalty is most highly prized are those embedded in a social system so fragmented that they cannot contain that wholeness (harmony, synergy) we call the Good.
Those highly fortified castles are good metaphors for the mindset in which loyalty is the supreme value. It is a world in which a great price is paid simply for protection against a hostile outside world, a world where Inside and Outside are divided into an Us and Them postured in expectation of war to the death.
The chronic war that was an inescapable objective reality for the masters of medieval fiefdoms is a psychological reality for the Bushites who have degraded the system of American politics into warring elements among whom the possibilities of cooperation are destroyed by their ceaseless strife.