Re: Knowing the people, and clearing one's mind

From: Jacques Du Pasquier (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 04:58:36 MDT

Samantha Atkins a écrit (3.10.2001/10:26) :
> > Well, here is a first point : how can you predict them without
> > understanding them ?
> I can predict that many hate the US for some of its past and
> future actions (not especially for our goodness as some would
> like to believe). I can predict more of them will take
> increasingly desperate and horrific action as we press this
> "war" more deeply on their homelands.

But can you predict how they will react if US leave Saoudi Arabia, for
example ? Think of the talk here about not depending on oil anymore.
How much of a solution will that be ? What about Israel ? Will US have
to abandon Israel, too, to satisfy their sense of justice ? And if US
leave Saoudi, and Israel becomes New Israel somewhere in Utah (as
someone suggested ),
will they be happy, then ? Or will they go on to a further
establishment of justice, by attacking us ?

I don't see how you can predict these things without understanding
what their claims are, what they feel deep inside, and what they want.

There are 2 things to consider for the prediction : what they want,
and what they can actually achieve. Now, and in the future. And
obviously, how many of them, how well organized, how well supported,
they will be, and this amounts to understanding the links between them
and between more general cultural-social-religious perceptions in
these countries.

> That misses my points. But I do not believe Islam is itself as
> central as oppression, injustice and victims lashing out against
> who they see as the oppressor any way that they can. Islam, or
> rather the more militant edge of it, is relevant but I don't
> believe it is the most central for understanding the story. It
> is easier for many to do amateur "analysis" of Islam and blame
> Islam than come to grips
> with guilt and culpability on our as well as "their" side.

Samantha, I see the following problem : you are so willing to be fair
and moral, and to face your own (collective) responsability, that you
think that everything depends on it.

It's like tomorrow is Judgement Day, and nothing else matters.

But if you see what's in their head, then you will probably see that
not everything they require match what you are willing to give. That
things that you are ashamed that the US did, they mock as tame and
coward. That things that you would like to see establish for justice,
they reject totally.

But talking about "justice"... what is it ?

Isn't justice the respect of the rights of an individual belonging to
a community, the rights being given by the rule of the community ?

So what's the community we are part of with bin Laden ? Did we agree
on anything together ?

We can talk about justice when we agree on something. Trying to agree
will bring out what both parties want, and we will see if it's
compatible. If so, we will commit to something, and respect it with

In the mean time, focusing on the fact that "we must respect justice"
in order to solve the problem doesn't strike me as a terrifically
sound approach.

> > Ben Laden is not mad, not evil, not coward (I don't know him
> > personnally, but at least it doesn't appear to be). But he is an
> > ENNEMY (read his "Declaration of war against the Americans" in case
> > you have any doubt). Do you need to morally diminish your ennemy to
> > acknowledge him as such ? Of course not !
> >
> Will we make him and others like him less an enemy by bombing
> the hell out of large sections of the Mid East that we have
> already been screwing with in often horrendous ways for
> decades? Very doubtful.

Well, if you kill your ennemy, he does stop to be your ennemy in some
important sense.

> Will it help our reaching Singularity
> to engage in such hypocritical posturings as "Infinite
> Justice". Hell no.

I agree on this.

It seems that the names have a "tactic" meaning, and are not directed
to the public but to the ennemy himself. But as it is publicized, it
leaves much to be desired.

> > You may object that this way of thinking tends to polarize the
> > situation, by accepting that "good" guys can be our ennemies, and be a
> > fullfilling prophecy avoiding that we build a harmonious world
> > together, with all the good guys, by explaining them that they are
> > wrong to act as they do, and that by just adapting a little their
> > behaviour, we can consider them as really good guy and not "very
> > evil-mad" good guy. But that which you may overlook, is that they
> > don't give a damn of your "harmony" and your "sense of justice", which
> > is just degenerated christian-atheist nonsense. For them, justice is
> > otherwise.
> I don't disagree at all and see some point in being clear
> certainly. But I still think whether we judge the terrorist as
> cowards or courageous is a side-show to the main questions and
> issues. We are hypocrites to hate these terrorist when our CIA
> has done much worse in many countries, toppled and created
> entire regimes, engaged in torture, terrorizing civilian
> populations and so on. Any "solution" that does not admit our
> own dirty deeds and work toward stopping our own real terrorism
> is a very dangerous cover-up and scapegoating. Was what was
> done to the WTC and Pentagon wrong? Of course. But was it also
> a seriously aggreivated wrong from our own past actions? I
> think the answer again has to be affirmative.

I think this way of thinking shows you want to be fair, and to have a
morally good conduct. This is of course something good. However, as I
said above, there is a danger in thinking that everything depends on
what you do, and on its position on your moral scale. There happen to
be other people, with specific world views and agenda, very remote
from yours.

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