[Marxism] Review of Stan Goff's "Full Spectrum Disorder"

Scotlive at aol.com Scotlive at aol.com
Fri Aug 20 12:24:25 MDT 2004

In a message dated 8/20/2004 9:55:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
dws_1980 at yahoo.com writes:
by Derek Seidman 

Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New
American Century
by Stan Goff
Soft Skull Press
203 pp.

Stan Goff is a unique voice on the American Left.
Before becoming an activist, author, and outspoken
progressive voice, he spent twenty-six years in the
military, many of them with Special Forces,
participating in notorious US interventions in places
like Panama, Haiti, Grenada, Somalia, and Vietnam. As
he retrospectively remarks, his military career turned
out to have provided him "the most superlative
education imaginable" on both a personal and political
level. In his most recent book, Full Spectrum
Disorder: The Military in the New American Century,
readers are presented with the fruits of this
education. It is a must-read for anyone on the Left
looking to gain some important insights into the US
military, the people who are in it, and the direction
in which it and the system it works for are heading.
It is also a very challenging book for all the right
reasons, sure to make the honest person think a lot
more critically about a lot of things. 


In the last sentence of the book, Goff writes, "If we
want simple, we'd best avoid life" (191). All too
often the Left looks out on the world through
Manichean goggles, with little or no space for
ambiguity and uncomfortable contradictions that might
taint the purity of a grand, simple, and
self-fulfilling understanding of things. My favorite

aspect of Full Spectrum Disorder is that it takes an
opposite route: it doesn't merely tolerate much of the
gray, complex reality we as Leftists need to deal
with, but confronts it head on. Goff writes, "[The]
simultaneous refusal to either to deny reality or to
quit struggling within it had much to do with my
eventual drift into a politics of resistance, and if
there's an orientation in this book, that's it." (6) 

Sorry, perhaps it's due to a lack of perception on my part, but I fail to see 
the ambiguity of exploitation, militarism, racism and imperialism. I also 
fail to see what is gray or complex about trying to end it.

I haven't read the book, but having read similar books by former members of 
the establishment who've changed sides, or who claim to have changed sides, I 
suspect that it contains more than a fair amount of self justification for 
former acts of wanton cruelty and barbarity.


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