[FoRK] 911 - The war on understanding

Ian Andrew Bell < FoRK at ianbell.com > on > Tue Sep 12 13:03:36 PDT 2006

The problem with this position is that many religions cast themselves  
as the functional legal, as well as moral, authority in a society.    
I like any rational human believe that mixing politics and religion  
(as if there was a difference -- okay, GOVERNMENT and religion) is  
wrong, however, that's just my opinion.

As we all know, Islamic nations are a good example of the co- 
dependency between church and state.  You can't unravel them.  There  
is no seam between the two.  Now, most of us bristle at this thought  
after being exposed to the beheadings and behandings of common  
criminals, the uneven dispensation of justice, etc.  But the people  
who live there seem to tolerate it.  And in the case of Iraq, they  
even seem to prefer it to those systems which we would otherwise have  
them live under.

So um, those are lofty goals below but are A) prone to massive  
subjectivism, and B) impose the will of other (nations) on the people  
of a society or cultural group.  Which, ironically, is kind of what  
you're trying to prevent.

We can have policies I suppose which isolate societies that don't  
meet our standards of niceness and egalitarianism, but that only  
serves to give the despots and theocrats which run said societies an  
enemy to sell to their working class.  And the purpose of the UN and  
other dialogue-oriented bodies is to reduce, not strengthen, the  
isolation of peoples.  We can propagandize the shit out of the people  
in the hopes that they will choose revolution, but those tend to be  
bloody and have a pretty poor track record for positive change; or we  
can send in kids from Arkansas to get their limbs blown off in  
shoddily-armoured Humvees to convert them all to Modernity, thinly- 
veiled by notions of "Democracy".  In both of the latter cases, we're  
imposing our world view on others, which may be no better or worse  
off than what they have already, except that it benefits those who  
want to sell them hamburgers and Britney Spears CDs.

So, what do you do?  These days I'm leaning towards nothing.  But  
when I say that I mean literally nothing.  Don't sell them weapons of  
war, don't sustain rival factions, don't intervene with peacekeepers  
to maintain an inherently unstable position.  In the 20th century  
we've made intervention by selective non-intervention into an art form.

Submitted for your consideration would be the notion of accepting  
that life and death and strife are part of the human experience,  
necessary to political and social evolution and change, and that self- 
determination of peoples is not something that can be imported.  Let  
people suffer enough and they will all rise up and choose.  They will  
surely fuck it up a few times, they will surely kill a lot of people  
in the process, but since that seems  to be happening anyway --  
what's the difference?  There is of course the possibility that, left  
to their own devices, the people will come up with solutions to their  
political problems which are home grown and therefore adaptive to  
local conditions.  Democracy isn't terribly practical in nations  
where there is no safe water to drink; give me a well, not a fucking  
voting booth!  And who knows?  Maybe they'll come up with something  
better than we've got today (I hope so).

Like Roddenberry's Prime Directive, stay away until they're ready /  
mature enough to handle liebensraum.  Welcome societies to the club  
when they are ready to play.   In the meantime, isolate them  
economically but not socially.

I'm not convinced of this as a strategy.  I just don't see anything  
else we're talking about working very well either.  And I don't  
embark on these considerations with the presumption that we  
Protestant Liberal Democrats necessarily have it all sorted out, either.


On 11-Sep-06, at 7:58 PM, Luis Villa wrote:

> I think one can make a
> fair case that the policy should be 'no theocracies', or perhaps 'no
> theocracies which aren't elected and which lack strong guarantees of
> civil rights', or perhaps 'no tolerance of political movements which
> believe in violence against innocents as a legitimate means of
> political expression', and that abhorrence of violence against
> innocents is but one consequence of that larger umbrella policy.
> (One might also note that if any of those are the policy, at times
> violence against innocents will be an acceptable if unpleasant side
> effect of pursuing the top-level goal.)
> (One might further note that it is perfectly plausible to support such
> policies while still abhorring the incompetence, brutality,
> illegality, etc., of the Bush-Cheney execution of similar policies.)

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