Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reason and the Philistines

Yes but, yes but, yes but....

The great shame of some of our own is that they are philistines. I had two encounters last day with men from opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum, one a mindless Communist raging on about Bush and the oil companies, another from a brilliant fool who is extremely lucky I didn't meet him face-to-face. In the case of both reason is not a possible alternative action to outright force. Neither is capable of grasping the fine details of thought from person to person, regardless of the level of intellect they work from. Both philistines need the lesson taught from the blows of a hammer. That is good reason. Violence is good. Beating people to the ground and smashing their bones is a nice thing under the curcumstances. It halts their behaviour and teaches them valuable lessons. If they're caught in time it might prevent them from being killed outright. Sometimes it's too late and the right thing is to kill anyway. See below.

There was an awful inevitability to what happened to those two American soldiers.

Did anyone believe for one moment that they would be treated with respect according to the Geneva Convention?

Only the fact that these fanatics have been on the run prevented a more spectacular staging of their deaths.

This brutal murder brings revulsion but not surprise.

This is the routine evil of those worse than beasts.

This is the routine evil that beheaded Daniel Pearl, and Nick Berg; that left Van Gogh dead on a street in Holland.

This is the routine evil that still wraps itself in the garb of a religion while leaving young students bound and shot beside their bus and innocent women and children blown to bits in the market place.

The routine evil that draws comfort from the ignorant maunderings of a Murtha or a Sheehan; that somehow escapes the diligent moral radar of Human Rights Watch.

The routine evil that finds shelter in partisan "talking points" about the war and the shameless babble of armchair thumbsuckers about "reciprocity" with Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

The routine evil of men with a vision of a world of subjugated women and mindless children, ignorant of all but blood and suicide and revenge.

This is the routine evil that dreams of cyanide gas in subways and thirsts for a nuclear weapon.

This is the routine evil that some still think can be embraced into civility, "brought into government," tamed away from its loathsome imperatives.

This is the routine evil that will not be ignored and must be exterminated.

Ralph Kinney Bennett is a TCS contributing editor.

Our own are our problem. The savages of Islam are mere proxies. Our own make them possible. Our own make them possible and our own destruction inevitable. Our reasonable option is to attack our own with zeal and force.

We meet at the Vancouver Public Library each Thursday evening to discuss our future as citizens and residents of our nations and how we might transform those nations into civil lands. We meet in the atrium. Break out of your routine. We invite you to join us. Come from 7-9:00 pm.


truepeers said...

Violence is good?

It is certainly sometimes necessary (and is a necessity performed a good?) Our soldiers on the side of freedom and reason must commit a lesser evil - killing the enemies of freedom - when they do their duly sanctioned killing, in order to avoid a greater evil. Doing evil makes them tragic figures even as they are also great heroes. They must be honoured and supported not just because they risk the horrible fates of these two soldiers in Iraq, but because the survivors must also live with the memories of what they have done.

Reason it may be to act with zeal and force, kind of like what our men did in World War II. Growing up in their shadow, however, I didn't hear them talking much about the greatness of war; i think mostly it disgusted them. Long after, I think the vast majority had no doubt it was necessary, but I think they also wished they had never had to do what they did. The likes of Joey Goebbels killing his kids no doubt helped them see this truth.

Part of our present cultural crisis stems from the fact that we still haven't digested the massive violence of WWII and inculcated its lessons. So much of the crap we have to hear from the likes of, say, Cindy Sheehan, stems from a facile reaction in their minds to what they see as simple, jingoistic, war films, and the like, that make war into something great and entertaining. Perhaps we will only get beyond the age of Sheehans when we can all digest the hard truth (available to a sensitive and sophisticted western mind) about war: its evil, horrible, and sometimes necessary.

Reason commands us at times to be Machiavellian. But perhaps if we steel ourselves for this eventuality by convincing ourselves that doing the deed is a great thing, we will become too much like our JIhadist enemies and miss the finer points of the Machiavellian moment: the subtle differentiations of consciousness that make us men of the west and not dumb and deadly Jihadists; the need to turn to the dark side, but only for as long as is needed, and not a moment more..

That's easy to say, though the truth of course is that if one is ever to be able to play Machiavelli, one has to imagine doing the dirty deed for some time before hi is ready do it. Thus we need bloggers like Dag. And what we need, in the end, is to put all our reason, both moral and legalistic, to the test of helping us judge well the moment when the deed must be done. We, poor souls, are often in the dark and need more than reminders that we may one day have to do it.

See you tomorrow, Dag!

Jane said...


You guys are a bit too intellectually advanced for me but I find the material you post worth reading nonetheless. I had to look up the word "maundering" before I could figure out just how badly Cindy Sheehan was being insulted.

When I was reading this posting, I was still digesting Truepeers' comments under "City Knights" on your "No Dhimmitude" blog -- his comments about how avoiding violence will either bring more violence or result in the surrender of the pacifists in the long run, the lessons of appeasment. His outline of a strategy for dealing with the Islamic threat was so clear.

I read Melanie Phillips' article in the National Post and she clearly outlined the Islamic menace [I liked the part about ending the inversion involving treating aggressors like victims) but Truepeers more clearly outlined a strategy for addressing it.

I don't think we should be afraid to use violence but I'm like Cindy Sheehan, I believe that the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is gratuitious. I just don't see the point of it (other than to convince Bush, in the case of Afghanistan, that Canada is an ally and maybe make him more amenable to settling the softwood lumber dispute.)

I'd rather Canada just deal with Muslims at home by having a 'no tolerance' policy for their jihadist tendencies and their devaluing of our rights and freedoms. And by adopting more stringent screening at the level of Immigration.

You know what, Dag. I'm actually a closet fan of Cindy. From the day she pitched her tent outside the ranch, I thought she was gutsy. She can't see any real meaning in her son's death and she's now trying to create meaning.

I like the way she doesn't limit her criticisms to one political party; she challenges the Rupublicans, the Democrats, and even Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Even though I voted for Harper, I enjoyed seeing Cindy take a shot at him over his erosion of civil liberties through the prevention of media photos of returning dead soldiers from Afghanistan. He deserved that.

There's one thing that Cindy said in the basement of Shaughnessy United, though, that I didn't agree with. She said that now these "maniacs" are thinking of attacking Iran. I think if Iran has nukes, violence toward them could be justified.

Cindy, if I remember correctly, is scheduled to be at the reunion for American draft resisters up in Nelson, B.C. -- "Resisterville" as the L.A. Times calls it -- this summer. I saw a photo of the bronze statue, incidentally, commentorating the draft evaders. It's Norman Rockwellish. I think they deserve a statue; they stood up to the state when they believed it was necessary.

dag said...

I want to rush in here at the last moment and try to clarify my writing that violence is pretty. That was outrageous and wrong.

My point, missed by miles, is that there is a goodness to righting obvious wrongs, meaning, for example, the killing of Zarqawi, which brought a smile to my face.

What I do not find at all good is violence against the likes of Sid Ryan. The man is repulsive and hateful, and I wil do what I can to destroy his power in our societies and whatever is possible to send him to trial for his crimes; but I'm one citizen among a nation, and that leaves me and my opinions to the sum of one man only. Not I, nor any one , has the right to act ultra vires in this or any other case. To do so is ugly beyond measure.

I go over-the-top at times in my stylistic ventures. I see this now as a point of concern to me, and I hope to re-emphasis some of the postive and moral aspects of our struggle that I think I have missed badly in my concern for those who suffer rather than for those who will stop suffering by acting rightly.

In short, I don't hate Cindy Sheehan, as an example, but I want to move into an area of thought that includes my disgust with those who would harm and at the same time provide a positive aspect for those of us who would make good in spite of evil. Yes, I will bash the complicit, but I will try to emphasise our good over it.

truepeers said...

Dag, you didn't say that violence was pretty, and indeed it isn't when it's in your face. But this reality doesn't explain the massive film and tv industry that makes violence entertaining and glamorous. Obviously, in some sense, violence can be made "pretty". Perhaps the reason for this is that we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that doing violence will one day be a necessary evil that circumstances may force on us. In which case, glamorizing violence cannot be simply rejected as evil, especially to the degree its glamorization also works, more or less cathartically, to defer the actualy realization of violence tensions. If our culture did not train us to do evil, in certain circumstances we would quickly fall victim to the forces of evil and we'd all be eating sauerkraut sushi now.

So I don't think your sentiments in this post are wrong, but their rightness depends on the context in which we find them. Most of the time we should respect the law that brings peace and order. Yet it is conceivable that the nihilism of our popular culture at present may be a sign of an impending cultural collapse that will bring much disorder, the consequent appeal to many of a simple but strict religion like Islam, and thus a civil war with those of us who can never accept that Islam have a substantial public role in Canada. In this context, sympathizers of suicide bombers, like Sid Ryana, may well be justifiable targets of our violence whatever the law may have to say about it. But who wants a civil war? It's a horrible thought, though a possibility we need sometimes consider, the better to avoid it by first imagining it. It is this paradoxical quality of the *representation* of violence - we can never know if violent films, e.g., do more harm than good - that we need give more respect, and not avoid considering due to pc proscriptions.