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Thursday, February 02, 2006
Who killed Voltaire?
The Mohammed cartoon crisis shows that the West is at a crossroads. One of it's making. One of utter stupidity.
The issue, we are told, is that Islam bans the rendering of any image of Mohammed on the basis that such would encourage idolatry. If you visit a mosque you will find it extremely spare when compared to European churches, synagogues or east Asian temples. The idea is simple - one worships god and not things. (I will note that the Shi'ia tradition is a bit different - their mosques are more ornate and can contain icons. Sunnis often declare that Shi'ia are "idol worshipers" - an accusation they also levy at Christians. Jews are simply called pigs and monkeys.)
As European newspapers are now trying to demonstrate, such bans don't fly in western society. While those rules may apply in Muslim countries, certainly they can't be expected to be followed elsewhere. The West has a firm secular tradition which allows satire and criticism of religious belief. One has a right to blasphemy, heresy and apostatism.
So Le Figaro asked today "where are you, Voltaire?" Well, France, you killed Voltaire. And Descartes. And Spinoza. And Rousseau. The assailant? Jacques Derrida.
Jacques Derrida was born as a French Jew in Algeria. His youth sucked - he neither fit in with the Algerians or the French - after all, he was a Jew. Rather than developing outright resentments, Derrida chose a path in life to undermine prejudice. Deconstruction is Derrida's major contribution to western linguistics and culture. It has had a significant impact and serves as a cornerstone to post-modernism (in as much as the thought of a "cornerstone" could be tolerated by post-modernists).
Derrida's deconstruction had the effect of disassembling text to reduce it to meaningless scribblings. Fundamental to deconstruction is the idea that every idea expressed in virtuous terms has behind it unarticulated pre-suppositions. When one draws out those pre-suppositions, one can find biases and contradiction inherent to cultural supremacism. The assertion of a virtue is shown to be an oppressive act. In short, deconstruction invalidates any cultural supremacism. "Truth" is only a by product of cultural bias rather than being the product of rational discourse and analysis.
If one accepts deconstruction as a valid form of linguistic analysis, then one accepts its repeatable results as valid. In that you have the fundamental idea that has fueled the Western Cultural Revolution of the last 30 odd years - one in which Universities and cultural institutions have been largely purged of cultural reactionaries who oppress others by asserting cultural truths as universal truths. All this has been done in order to have the most tolerant and free society possible - or so it was intended.
Religious text, one must note, was exempted by Derrida from deconstruction - "you can't deconstruct love or justice" Derrida wrote later in life. One's relationship with God had been spared from being "reduced to nothingness."
Islam (often labeled the "Religion Of Peace") is not just a religion. It is an economic, political and behavioral system as well. The Koran does not only tell one what to believe - it tells him how to act and how affairs of the state and market should be run. Being the word of God conveyed through his last messenger, what was written in the 7th century is the truth for all people in all times - those that disagree are subject to subjugation, punishment or death. These have been the rules since the 7th century, these rules served as the basis for expansion of an empire for the 200 years after Mohammed's death, and were the rules when Derrida was growing up in Algeria (and when Algerians and French were very busy killing each other in the successful effort to expel the French and reverse French annexation of the country).
So now we have our western cultural revolutionaries in a conundrum. They have finally been forced to confront a source of cultural supremacism from a quarter that they had previously defended at all times as "oppressed." Since all cultural systems are supposedly equal, and each has "its truths" it would seem to be a simple matter - "you tolerate us and we tolerate you" - a sort of cultural apartheid. But the problem can't be settled that way, can it? One of the parties gets "extra points" on two scores - first, it is the culture traditionally oppressed by the West and second, it is a religion. Furthermore, it is a religion that states explicitly that its laws are meant to apply to all people in all times - after all, these are the words of God.
Asserting that Islam must accept the West and its secular values is to modify Islam. To a psot-modernist, such an assertion is an oppressive act - it asserts a Western truth value takes precedence over an Islamic one. Voltaire would have solved the problem easily - he'd have told Islam to fuck off, but in much more clever terms. He'd have placed secularization above tolerance of intolerance so that tolerance could be preserved.
So rather than disarming both sides and reducing their assertions to nothingness, Derrida's legacy forces the unimaginable - the West must adopt the stricture of "the other" in order to show tolerance of "the other." And not just any other - no other religion is also an economic, behavioral and political system (and inseparably so because it all stems from the same "text").
Some years back, another post-modernist named Richard Rorty declared "the end of Philosophy" (though he didn't see any need to relinquish his chair in the Philosophy Department at the University of Virginia). He made that assertion on the basis that all "truths" are culturally confined. While he has since modified the assertion, it stands as a milestone nonetheless. In my opinion, he was probably dead on the mark - the West has already committed intellectual suicide. It lays prostrate at the feet of "the other" begging for mercy because it has an inability to argue for its existence. It will get no mercy.
Tolerance of intolerance is the dagger that killed Voltaire.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Yeah, yeah, yeah ...
Alright - the holidays knocked me flat on my butt again. I can roll off the excuses for why I haven't posted, but they are just excuses. Just the same, I post when desire and opportunity coincide. That is rare coincidence in November and December.
If that excuse doesn't cut it, then why not try "Locusts!!!"
Thursday, November 17, 2005
OBL's Terms Of Surrender
OBL's terms of surrender for the United States have been fully translated and compiled, and you can have a peek at them over at the UK's Telegraph -
His terms for America's surrender appeared after the September 2001 suicide attacks and include demands that amount to the abandonment of much of western life.
Do that and the war on terror will be over and we can go back to our lives.
Let's all remember - Peace Is Patriotic.
Surrender. Now. For peace. Anything less is western warmongering.
Close Your Ears and Eyes ...
... but by no means close your mouths, my anti-war friends.
Even when those stubborn facts just won't go away. Ignore them.
Like "Boogie To Baghdad" (via Instapundit)
In case you don't remember, "Boogie to Baghdad" is the phrase that Richard Clarke [the same Richard Clarke who then disclaimed his assessments in front of congress so that he could sell books - ed], when he was the top White House counterterrorism official during the Clinton administration, used to express his fear that if American forces pushed Osama bin Laden too hard at his hideout in Afghanistan, bin Laden might move to Iraq, where he could stay in the protection of Saddam Hussein [Not that Abu Nidal and Al Zarquawi didn't enjoy such protection already - ed].
Oh - I forgot. Bush lied and mocked up an elaborate intelligence distortion scheme (which coincidentally represented a standing consensus of CIA analysts, France, Germany and the UK as well as Democrats like Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) in order to go invade Iraq. This was all done while there was no - NONE - NADA - ZILCH - association between Saddam and OBL - OR - international terror.
Also, Saddam was contained and sanctions were working (and by no means corrupted to the tune of $10 billion - that is a big lie because George Galloway said so). Oh - and while this massive and clever conspiracy was orchestrated by Bush, and targeted against an innocent and benign Saddam (the "legitimate" ruler of Iraq) Hussein, Bush is still dumb as a post and looks like a monkey.
Oh - and if we had followed the French course and simply allowed sanctions to run out and let Saddam keep the region stable while rebuilding, we would not in any way, shape or form have Saddam competing with Iran in a nuclear arms race. After all, that has never happened between 3rd world antagonist neighbors. Don't you know? The non-proliferation treaty forbids it!!!! And the IAEA has everything under control (they are part of the UN!), and has a Nobel prize to prove it!!!! India and Pakistan? They don't really exist - they are just cleverly invented places used to justify our war on terror, prior funding of Al Qaeda (which is an overblown threat used to create the Patriot Act -- BTW: WHEN IS BUSH GOING TO CAPTURE OSAMA, DAMNIT!?!?!?) or used as a means to outsource US jobs by uncaring megacorporations.
Eyes closed. Ears shut. Dance around and keep chanting "Bush lied, people died" while making up more history. When stubborn facts get it the way, JUST YELL LOUDER!!!!
Now you are doing the Baghdad Boogie!!!!
And They Want To Own The Internet Too
China has decided to block the printing of foreign newspapers -
Beijing has halted plans to allow foreign newspapers to print in China because of concerns raised by recent “colour revolutions” against authoritarian governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, according to a senior media regulator.
China (along with Iran and other repressive regimes) also wants the control of the Internet passed from the US to an "international body."
Those who consider democracy as inevitable ought to think again - technology gives states unprecedented leverage in monitoring their people. China employs 40,000 technicians to monitor chatrooms, emails, blog posts and news sites in China. They maintain a firewall to keep subversive information out of China, and they identify dissidents for punishment.
Our liberating technologies can be easily turned into the tools of repression. Hitler knew how to use the printing press, radio and motion pictures to launch the Third Reich. China and Iran know this, which is why they don't fear modernization or industrialization or even market economies - as long as they can monitor the herd, they are quite content. You and I shouldn't be.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Sarkozy More Popular - by 11 points
French Interior Minister Sarkozy has seen his already high approval ratings go even higher in light of his firm stance on the rioting in France.
Article here in French.
Interestingly, Sarkozy has been savaged by French media for calling the rioters "scum", which supposedly provoked them into more rioting. Obviously, the average Frenchie disagrees with that sentiment. Most of the time, the French are willing to outsource their opinion making to their media. This issue is too close to home for such, and perhaps the French will become more circumspect regarding what the media feeds them as a result.
Stubborn Facts In The Way
Some stubborn facts just get in the way of a perfectly orchestrated effort to revise history.
Anyone else notice that the black-budgeted CIA has gotten away clean from all of this? The Wilson-Plame attack squads hold the CIA up as some victimized, dispirited group of bureaucrats that were mauled by Bush acolytes. CIA screw-ups enabled 9/11 and got the WMD/ "Slam Dunk" narrative going (we'd all have been better off if that line of reasoning was never followed).
Suddenly, the CIA that used to be the center of every Doonesbury panel is now an MFA (Most Favored Agency) of the Democrats as they spin a tale about lies and distortions. Doesn't the CIA have a long history of being in the business of lies and distortions?
Lies About Leaks - The Case Against Libby Crumbles
Well the new Washington sport of criminalizing politics was just dealt a bit of a setback. Turns out the chronology at the center of Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby has some new holes in it - holes big enough for a public defender (let alone Libby's high priced defense team) to drive a Redskins team bus through.
It turns out that Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) was the first reporter to have learned of "Wilson's wife." And he learned it from a yet named White House official who isn't Libby.
Woodward's testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official -- not Libby -- the first government employee to disclose Plame's CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward, who has been publicly critical of the investigation, the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.
This is information that has come to light AFTER the indictments were handed down.
Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in the investigation.
And if you were thinkin' that this now puts Rove back in the hot seat, think again.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.
If Libby got cute with a Grand Jury and lied to them, he needs to feel the force of the law. But the indictments handed down have nothing to do with the false premise that "Plame was outed and that endangered her and national security." Now we find that Fitzgerald didn't dot his i's and cross his t's in prepping his indictment - Libby has always claimed that Plame's job was known to reporters before it was known to him. The new timeline certainly gives that defense more credibility, creates reasonable doubt, and makes Fitzgerald's job much harder.
Libby played hardball using leaks as a weapon - something the CIA does regularly and with impunity - as if it were the 4th branch of government.
These are now lies about leaks, much like the Clinton witch hunt was boiled down to lies about sex. Woodward, it turns out, is on record as having a similar perspective:
The criminalization of politics continues.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Yet Another ...
Another Bush / Condi Rice foreign policy disaster.
GENEVA -- Saudi Arabia has agreed to end all economic boycotts of Israel, allowing the World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday to admit the oil-rich kingdom as its 149th member, diplomats said.
Saudi Arabia has tried to get the US to push through membership for 12 years despite the boycott. Similar pressure on the Carter administration got it AWACS technology and offensive fighter aircraft. Glad to see neither Clinton nor Bush buckled.
The BBC has this story on the escalating crisis between Venezuela and Mexico
The Mexican President, Vicente Fox, has threatened to cut off all diplomatic ties with Venezuela.
The story cites the basis of the row with this
The row began last week, after Mexico supported a failed US bid to relaunch the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Summit of the Americas early in November.
Such a veiled threat needs a little context. I have been to Venezuela several times on business and maintain friendships there. Americans and Europeans should know that Venezuela sees itself as a largely European society. Yes - the Spanish influence is obvious, but so is the Italian, German, Austrian and even Irish.
In 1958 the country had a per capita income at 76% of America's, placing it ahead of many European economies.
Venezuelans place themselves a few notches above "Latin America." When I was there it was common to hear put-down jokes directed at Columbians and Mexicans. I was told by my first host there to never ask for a burrito or any Mexican food of any kind in Venezuela - "You will be asked to leave the restaurant - we aren't Mexicans."
How is this relevant? Chavez has no time or respect for a Mexican, and his treatment of Fox plays well to most every Venezuelan - especially the ethnically and culturally European upper class which would otherwise hate Chavez.
Just think - a charismatic military man who has assumed power of an oil state, has disassembled its democratic institutions, has forced into law (no due process necessary) popular "reforms" involving state annexation of property, and whips his nation into a nationalist frenzy by picking fights with those viewed as cultural (and even racial) inferiors. Aside from working nationalist magic, the move raises Chavez's anti-yanqui stature among other leaders in the region while completely undermining Fox's credibility with the same people.
A little context delivers a different picture, and can explain why Chavez would want to get in a pissing contest with Mexico.
Racism® has becom a joke upon itself because the word has lost its meaning.
Jacques Derrida would tell us that such is the fate of all words while Herbert Marcuse would tell us that any political idea, sufficiently marketed for mass consumption, simply becomes a tool of repressive thinking.
Racism® is such a word.
For example, we have a non-controversy on the east coast as a black skinned Republican is called an "Uncle Tom" and "Oreo" simply because he is ... a Republican. Furthermore, his erstwhile and worthy opponents saw fit to run and publish his credit report - a throwback to the days of asking "niggers" to pay for their meals before ordering. Voters should know a black man's credit report, but not Howard Dean's.
It would seem that anyone who is black skinned is obliged to think a certain way and see certain public policy as practical and other public policy as wrong simply because one's skin color dictates such. Consideration, debate or advocacy of other ideas makes one a racial traitor - pure and simple. Dissent is not tolerated. Ever. Thinking independently earns ridicule and alienation from one's racial identity.
Is that not racism - predetermination of outcomes, ends, intent, and choices based on skin color? The idea that one's identity is racial? What it isn't is Racism®, which is part of a political franchise which allows the franchise owners to practice racism without being labeled Racist®.
Add to the mix that the most influential person in the current Republican administration (and probably the world) is a black skinned woman (and a Republican herself) and the irony thickens.
Worry not - Racism® is a safe brand with a great deal invested in the brand label. That brand identity returns huge amounts in terms of votes and money to its franchise owners. The brand is so strong that those franchise owners don't have to actually do any work to benefit those for whom (and upon whom) the brand was built. All they have to do is maintain racial identity, and remember to throw a few table scraps to the proles from time to time. Racism preserves Racism® and yields a soft-apartheid. No one is threatening to leave the plantation. Society is in a cul-de-sac.
To me, the sight of black families wandering the overpasses of New Orleans, with their packed flight-bags rolling behind them said a great deal. Those individuals did their part by packing some items and going where told in an orderly manner. They put unwarranted faith in their elected leaders - leaders who had consistently failed them. The evacuation planning (a local responsibility, paid for by the Federal government extraordinary exception made for the Democrat political machine that runs Louisiana) failed these people as public resources sat idle, except for those needed to convey the public officials and their households to higher ground. Public safety officers failed them by not keeping order, but rather participating in the disorder by either ditching their jobs or participating in the looting.
There, in a state that has been run by the Racism® franchise owners - where the Governor and the Mayor were both Democrats in good standing (as are both the state's Senators); There, where the Federal aid for security and intercity programs flowed heavily before the hurricanes; There, where the people's faith in government to provide a competent police force had been betrayed again and again well before Katrina - it was there where we saw the legacy of Racism®. The neglect and non-challant disregard for those whom the Racism® brand was erected errected to benefit.
While built with the best of intentions and with the consensus of all fair minded Americans, the Racism® brand has corrupted itself as proven by its obvious legacy of neglect and soft-apartheid. A car trip to you local ghetto will make this obvious.
Time for a new discussion around new ideas using new words - Racism® belongs in the trash. Neither Marcuse nor Derrida would be surprised - just disgusted. Elected Democrats should have the courage to face the legacy of Racism®, or they should announce that they aren't going to run for re-election for having utterly failed a core constituency.
Well - I am feeling much better and have a clearer head again. So those side moments can be squandered serving up the swill that is my opinion on many-things-political.
One observation from the tough flu that I just got over - When Bird Flu comes, all of the airlines will be able to purge their frequent flyer programs. All of their frequent flyers will be dead.
I caught this bug on a flight from DC on a Friday evening. The person in back of me was sick and the flight was full. 5 hours of knowing the fate that awaited me with no recourse and no escape.
This year's flu is a butt-kicker. I haven't been that sick in a long while. Take precautions my friends.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Sorry - out sick.
I have had the flu for the last few days (caught on a Friday night flight back from DC - when avian flu comes, airlines will be able to wipe their "frequent flyer" databases clean). My time at the keyboard has gone exclusively to client work and I have had little time for blogging.
Too bad too - the French Riots are fertile ground for delving into the "French Exception" and how that is not understood very well outside of France.
Patrick Belton of OxBlog has what I consider to be the best perspective on things there - primarily because he is on the ground, has a fresh perspective, and has a genuinely open mind. He is not trying to graft onto the situation either US or pan-European political biases. His observations are richly contrarian because the "wash and wear" narrative doesn't describe what he is seeing - Allez, Patrick!!!
I have done a decent amount of business in France, have friends there, and think the media coverage (including the French coverage) has been largely one-dimensional.
Anyway, when I am better I will explain myself and try to bring a perspective which will seem unconventional by the standards of what you are probably reading. In the meantime, observe De Villepin as he positions his power against Sarkozy - that is where things are very interesting. Especially when you triangulate that power struggle off of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who probably best represents "man in the street" opinion regarding these riots.
Also, we need a new definition of poverty for the industrialized west if we are to accept that poverty caused this. That isn't a cynical proposition - we need to look at what poverty is (a round term for economic suffering?) and think in those terms. There is a kind of suffering from being the last to receive the bounty of industrialized society, and that kind of suffering is alienation. From that point, the question of "assimilation" can be honestly examined. There is a Marcusian angle to this which is fascinating and offers a navigational thread by which French political culture can be explored and compared to multi-cultural notions in the rest of Europe and melting pot notions here in the US. As the world gets smaller and industrialization universal, this all has to be understood.
Back to work.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Let's Ban Summits.
Since killing terrorists only leads to more terror (at least that is what "experts" tell us), and since clamping down on Parisian rioters simply creates more riots (at least according to French newspapers), then we can all agree on something.
Let's ban summits.
They lead to 2 things the world can ill afford - violent protests and more summits.
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.
Hitchens on "Mr. Stability"
Nice to see Hitchens weighing in on "stability," and specifically Brent "Mr. Stability" Scowcroft -
Interesting how the left's "stability" proponents represented by Juan Cole and the right's "stability" proponents represented by Mr. Stability are saying the very same things.
Hitchens, by way of stark contrast, offers this -
Realism of the Scowcroft sort presided over the Iran-Iraq war with its horrific casualties and watched indifferently as genocide was enacted in northern Iraq. It allowed despots free rein from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and then goggled when this gave birth to the Taliban and al-Qaida. If this was "fifty years of peace," then it really was time to give war a chance.
Look Who Chavez Was Hiding ...
Per Barcepundit, one of the fugitives from the Madrid Train Massacres has been caught.
In Pakistan via ... Venezuela.
Mubarak Throws Blogger In Jail
From Big Pharaoh -
When you run a "secular state" in the Middle East (and help preserve "stability") you just have to throw those Islamists a bone from time to time. How else do you think "stability" can be maintained.
Here are some nice pics to look at over the weekend!!!
The unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates
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