Friday, July 15, 2005

Return Of The Boom Bap

As I promised, here's a response to what's been going on in the comments thread of the London bombing post.

When I first heard the news out of London, I posted my gut reaction. To summarize: the murder of innocents is not the act of the vindicators of the oppressed, it is a means of oppression; the murderers seek the annihilation of liberal culture and society; that that is their intent has exactly nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or the maltreatment of the Palestinians; their ideology is irreducibly evil; cowardice before such atrocity gains nothing, accomodation with it is impossible. I stand firmly by those sentiments, and though I made no policy prescription, some of the responses to what I wrote seem to assume that I did. And one accuses me of a betrayal of liberalism:
By the way, I thought you were at least marginally wise, Finn...when you kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq, do you think their sons, brothers, etc. are going to suddenly be endeared to the United States? Noooooo....killin breeds killin, hate breeds hate. When are you uncivilized palefaces gonna understand that shit??? (...by the way, the United States started the fight in Afghanistan by funding and training Islamic militants 25 years ago. Don't pick and choose history to fit your own alarmist mindset, lest you come to deserve the f-word yourself...)

It's terribly disappointing to me that you are just another fool beating the war drums. I thought you knew better. Galloway, however "marginal" his voice, is right: the root causes of Islamic fundementalism/terrorism will never be attacked with bombs and bloodshed--they will only be strengthened by such violence. Your rhetoric betrays your own fear and misunderstanding of the situation, and I hope that one day you wake up and realize you're digging your own grave.

You are no liberal.
How do I begin to explain how strongly and how many different ways I disagree with this? Let's take it sentence by sentence:
[W]hen you kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq, do you think their sons, brothers, etc. are going to suddenly be endeared to the United States?
Obviously no one this side of Richard Perle would believe such a thing. I'll assume, I think fairly, that the point here is a backhanded comment about the justice of the wars. (Afghanistan is the relevant precedent here, not Iraq, so unless there's any objection I'll table the issue of Iraq for the remainder of the post.) But the question of a war's justice is three separate questions: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and, as Michael Walzer reminds us, jus post-bellum. Only the last might depend upon the reconciliation of a vanquished combatant population to the victors. Unless the actual Rod's purpose is to deny that there can be just wars at all---a position that is, for not very complicated reasons, an immoral one---(legitimate) concerns about the conduct, execution, and settlement of a war do not necessarily or even likely undermine the justice of the cause itself. Not only are there just wars, but there are necessary wars as well, of which a war of self-defense is the paradigm.
Noooooo....killin breeds killin, hate breeds hate.
It fits on a bumper sticker, but it is void of content. This is not a response to questions of how a society is to respond when it it attacked; it is a way of dodging such questions.
When are you uncivilized palefaces gonna understand that shit???
Good point.
[B]y the way, the United States started the fight in Afghanistan by funding and training Islamic militants 25 years ago.
Again, I'm familiar with this history. Does the fact that the United States trained and armed the mujahedeen legitimize their cause? Clearly not. Does it give the successors to the mujahedeen carte-blanche to immiserate and enslave their subject populations while launching murderous assaults on those societies outside their control? Clearly not. Do the crimes and errors of past American governments prevent future governments from correcting those errors? Clearly not.
Don't pick and choose history to fit your own alarmist mindset, lest you come to deserve the f-word yourself.
Indeed.
It's terribly disappointing to me that you are just another fool beating the war drums.
I'm beating no drums. As I believe Nick Cohen wrote recently in the Guardian, it doesn't take all that much effort to pin the blame for this on Bush and Blair, but that's an analysis as unsupportable as it is facile. Even if the fascists had never attacked a western country---if they had merely confined their efforts to imposing totalitarian theocracy on their co-religionists in majority Muslim countries---liberal society would still be obliged to respond. Individual autonomy and rights are the fundamental units here, not the rights of theocratic juntas to claim to speak for the people whose liberty they have rescinded and upon whom they force a miserable future-less poverty. Liberty is not only for the likes of us palefaces. But what's more, the fascists did attack us. Self-defense is not war-mongering.

6 Comments:

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Evan said...

What do you think of this?

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Finnegan said...

Can't see it, I'm not registered.

 
At 1:49 AM, Anonymous ThugPunk said...

Perhaps what the Actual Rod should have pointed to, in place of your alleged liberal failures, is your apparent disregard for democratic decision-making. You seem to have a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which liberal individuals have a necessary responsibility to preserve liberal societies (even when violence is called for), but do our unavoidable roles as citizens not also compel us to take seriously our commitment to democratic institutions and processes? Glibly referencing Michael Walzer hardly provides good reasons for dismissing the deliberative issues associated with going to and conducting war, especially when the thrust of the critique of continued use of force in Iraq is not, as you seem to hint, the idea that the injustices perpetrated in the conduct of the war render the cause itself unjust, but that the cause itself was never just to begin with, because it did not have its source in just democratic processes.

You seem to believe that a commitment to a certain society or way of life (a liberal one) is the foundation of justice, such that whole wars could, in theory, be waged unproblematically in the name of that society. According to that way of thinking, the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the war on terror, are imperatives whose ultimate source is not democratic (or even political, for that matter), but abstract and moral: as bearers of the liberal way of life, we must stand up to threats against liberalism anywhere in the world. But that would seem to neglect a whole range of relevant complexities associated with our condition as political, not simply moral or ethical, creatures--difficulties associated with deliberation, legitimation, compromise, and collective action. You seem to suggest--somewhat disturbingly, I think--that these complexities, ambiguities, and uncertainties--the lifeblood of democracy--are ignorable, that something as significant as the collective, legitimate use of violence need not be subject to collective will, but to a coercable, obviously just end.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Ashish George said...

"To summarize: the murder of innocents is not the act of the vindicators of the oppressed, it is a means of oppression; the murderers seek the annihilation of liberal culture and society; that that is their intent has exactly nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or the maltreatment of the Palestinians..."

Try again, Daniel.
http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html

 
At 5:48 AM, Blogger the actual rod said...

this is months and months later (i don't read your blog regularly, because you have to admit it is pretty boring, and just did a search for my name, NOT out of vanity), but yeah, that was pretty bombastic, and i shouldn't have questioned liberal credentials; on that, and the general thrust of my criticism for the support of wars, 'thugpunk' is somewhat right...one point is that representative democracy doesn't provide a fraction of the kind of deliberation needed to address such an important question, and i would argue that there may be a just war, but, from a historical standpoint, except perhaps for defensive wars fought against invaders brutalizing civilian populations (such as that fought by poland in 39, iran in 80-83 until peace could've been achieved and hundreds of thousands of lives saved, and probably iraqis and palestinians right now, though that's a complex issue), such wars have not been fought. the example of ww2 doesn't fly, because liberating jews from concentration camps, of course, wasn't the actual reason for going to war, and egregious bombing of civilians obviously did take place in both theaters.

given the historical record, one should be quite reticent to accept the reasons that a state gives for the necessity (or justice) of a war, aside from the fact that states lie as a matter of course/necessity since they never represent populations at large, but rather privileged minorities.

 
At 5:49 AM, Blogger the actual rod said...

actually, quite a bit over a year later. look at that.

 

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