Abu Ghraib

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To anyone acquainted with the reality of the US way of life, the photos immediately brought to mind the obscene underside of US popular culture- for example, the initiatic rituals of torture and humiliation one has to undergo in order to be accepted into a closed community.


The Abu Graib tortures are thus to be located in the series of obscene underground practices that sustain an ideological edifice.


While [the Abu Ghraib tortures] cannot be reduced to simple evil acts by individual soldiers, they were of course also not directly ordered - they were legitimized by a specific version of the obscene "Code Red" rules. This is why the assurance from US Army command that no "direct orders" were issued to humiliate and torture the prisoners is ridiculous: of course they were not, since, as everyone who knows army life is aware, this is not how such things are done. There are no formal orders, nothing is written, there is just unofficial pressure, hints and directives are delivered in private, the way one shares a dirty secret...


Abu Ghraib was not simply a case of American arrogance toward a THird World people: in being submitted to humiliating tortures, the IRaqi prisoners were in effect initiated into American culture, they got the taste of its obscene underside which forms the necessary supplement to the public values of personal dignity, democracy and freedom.[1]


  1. Žižek, Slavoj. The Parallax View. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2006. p.367-372