Pardon my rant, was Re: Afghanistan after the war

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 19:46:53 MST

"Let the Afghans tell you"? Which Afghans, specifically?

It might be time to rent a copy of _The Man Who Would Be King_.

  Billy Fish: "[He says] 'Oh, MANY enemies, all terrible! The worst
            are the [ununtelligible name of tribe]. Piss in streams,
            scare womens doing washings."
  Billy Fish: "He says he prefer to be called 'Uttar the Terrible'!"
  Peachy: "Then 'Uttar the Terrible' it shall be!"

Arrogance and hypocrisy are Amara's labels. OK.
Anders came up with some more.

Ignorance, shallowness, impatience, a short attention span, and credulity are
ones I'd like to add to the pot. Then there's "commitment" (see below).


Sometimes I think that the best analogy might be that, X-Files-like,
USA culture is like a nice kind hardworking guy with an inoperable
astrocytoma that leads to frequent psychomotor epilepsy blackouts.

I'd also like to mention that Ike's "military-industrial complex"
had a different name when he was fighting the Axis. And that it's
clear to me that there exist effective daisy chains comprising elites
(or would-be elites) in all areas of influence and power. Not just in
the US, but let's limit our discussion for now.

At least _some_ hungry (a)newsies, (b)Hollywood types, (c)politicians, (d)captains
of industry are busy scratching each other's backs (to clean up my actual
image). They don't have to have any more detailed agenda than "give a little,
get a little". Clearly, more than one bloc is present. The total number of
active core members of all such groups, the "real players", might be few.
There is ebb and flow. Who is bankable? Who has buzz? How's the spin
playing in Peoria?

This is not a devil theory, this is how the game is played.

I have finally had a chance to look at Bartley's _Retreat to Commitment_,
and I find I must say that pancritical rationalism is not much in evidence
in the public today. 39 years it's been sitting there.

Bartley probably overrated intellectual honesty.

The first thing most people retreat to is always commitment, it seems.
I don't exclude this list. I admit to having done my share of it.

"The primary purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking."--E. de Bono in a saturnine mood.

Sometimes one _must_ retreat to commitment. But I want it to be my last refuge
as much of the time as is practicable.

There is another voice which has been silent of late. I miss Lee Corbin,
and I've seen nothing from him since 8/30/2001. I started being
bugged by him, then came around to understanding and valuing his approach.

I think I grew up a bit. I think we could use more application of the
pancritical rationalist approach on this list. That would be Extropian,
says a man who's never paid ExI any dues.

So, Amara, all:

When I look at the world, I see that lots of people have done bad, shortsighted
or stupid things. Abuse of power? you bet. Convenience as the highest good? Sure.
Some people have exploited others. Many others have not. There has been a war in
the Sudan, for, literally, as long as I have been alive.

You see, _many people hold *grudges* as the things most precious_. And some
pissed-off loudmouth on the other side of the world has said, dead serious,
that it's OK to kill me--me personally--because I paid taxes, at effective gunpoint
<I can pay the tax or go to Leavenworth or resist arrest. Great choice.>,
to people who have done things of which he disapproves. He doesn't care if
I disapprove, too. The damage is done, in his eyes.

Let me reiterate. Obi-L wants me dead until all infidels are out of Saudi
Arabia. Well, that's what he wanted a few weeks ago. Now he's talking about Israel,
I hear. Well, I think I'd be better off if I wasn't buying gas from Wahhabists,
myself. But this is a very sticky mess, and it won't get unfscked very fast.

I think there are a lot of unscrupulous, evil people. I don't doubt that some have
been American citizens. But I don't feel like being killed today, thanks just the
same, even if Gen. Smedley Butler was 100% correct when he said "War is a racket."

The one highest good I find in the notions of US culture is tucked in a top corner of
the Declaration of Independence, so out of the way that no modern politician of any success
will even see it on his radar if asked the question "What is the purpose of government?"

"--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,"

And they had the gall to hold that it was self-evident. What BRASS! I love it. I'm the man I am today because I grew up
believing it. But it takes an act of faith. It's not self-evident at all.

The most charitable description of the facts of governments of the day is that they existed to keep people feeling
safe--that their lives were not totally chaotic--and that if they played by the rules, they could live quietly until
death took them, without having their villages burned and their pottery smashed every time marauders came 'round.
Powerful people got to feel even safer than everyone else, of course.

Today? You tell me. I don't see America's foreign _or_ domestic policy holding the torch very high, on balance.
But I WANT IT TO. And I don't want to get murdered in the meantime.


And I favor multiplex answers, too. But what to do about those who don't, even after I leave them alone?


Amara Graps wrote:
> It would be really wise, if you want to live a long time, to take
> some care and respect and learn something of that culture (or any culture!)
> that the U.S. wishes to "rebuild".
> In this case, please let the Afghans _tell you_ (the ones that are
> still alive that is) of what would be helpful for them to rebuild
> their country.

> "Take time to consider. The smallest point may be the most essential."
> Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Red Circle)

My moronic mnemonic for smart behavior: "DICKS" == 
diplomacy, integrity, courage, kindness, skepticism.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:18 MDT