Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pathetic Nature of Terrorism

If, as the word implies, the goal of terrorists is to inspire terror, especially terror of such a proportion that it actually causes us to change our behavior, then they have failed, and failed dismally.

A person can only be said to be committing terrorism if they are able to embody this ideal, that is to participate in some sort of campaign against civilians that is of such a magnitude that it actually does cause them to live in terror and to change their way of life as a result. If this is the case, then we should not be so eager to use the word "terrorist" because it implies the existence of such a campaign. In reality, these campaigns are sad, weak, and ineffective. Their participants are all similarly deluded, whether they are blowing themselves up, opening fire on civilians, or doing some other sort of stupid activity. Thus, we should not be calling these participants "terrorists" but rather "wanna be terrorists".

The reality of effective terrorism is that it must arise through a power vacuum that rarely exists in the developed world. Terrorism is really a story of radical groups operating in failed states, oppressive dictators, and of course western corporate sponsorship of violent groups that oppose the peaceful organization of labor. Therefore, our response to and use of the term "Terrorism" shows the lack of understanding that the Average westerner has of conditions outside of the West.

Following the 9/11/2001 "terrorist" attack in New York, President Bush and other western political leaders exploited this lack of knowledge to create the modern ideological "war on terror". This is nothing but a meaningless show, a quixotic pursuit of only the small and insignificant outgrowths of (manifestly ineffective) anti-western violence amid the sea of power struggle in underdeveloped regions where terrorism of all types actually occurs. The objective of preventing terror in these regions is, in fact, a noble goal, but it will only prevent violence against the West if it is true that a properly organized and empowered government in such a region would be a western ally - something that is not likely considering the history of western involvement in such regions. In this context, the western policy goal of promoting democracy in these regions is not itself misguided, but the stated political goal of preventing attacks against the West is certainly a lie.

Of course, the means by which democracy is allegedly being promoted in these regions is not a means of bringing about democracy at all. Here, a mix of sinister motive and pure ignorance reigns. The motive is sinister in the sense that wherever popular sentiment is anti-western, a true democratic process cannot be allowed to occur, because then anti-western leaders will be elected. The motive is ignorant in the sense that the western leaders are generally ignorant of the actual economic, legal, and social conditions that must be cultivated in order to bring about a prosperous society. President Bush was the exemplar of both the sinister motive and pure ignorance.

Rhetorically, the language that terrorism is wrong is a pointless endeavor because terrorism arises from a political conflict. The very nature of political conflicts is for individuals to hide factual disagreements behind ideological positions. These ideological positions involve accusations of injustice. Thus, arbitrary ideological disagreements prevent, in general, the comparison of ethical positions in a way that allows disputes to be resolved.

The only meaningful way to fight terrorism with rhetoric is to characterize it as pathetic and ineffective. This will dissuade individuals from participating because they will feel it is an inefficient use of resources, and seek alternative means of bringing about their policy goals. Conversely, the more wildly overstated the magnitude of a terrorist incident is, the more media attention it receives, and the more disproportionate the western response, the greater the likelihood that some other idiot will take up arms against the West.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A little sketch of the beginnings of proper philosophic thought

From a distance, the playground sounds reach the ear as an ecstatic whispering. As the person approaches, these sounds flow apart to become the shouts of children, myriad shuffles of motion, wind blowing across grass, and the low, deep hum of adult conversation.

Distributed in their respective zones, the denizens have segregated themselves by activity. About the very perimeter there can be found dogs. One is squatting down to shit while its owner waits with a scowl, no doubt uncomfortable with being observed. Another runs in J shaped intercept patterns, zealously retrieving the ball that is thrown by its patient master. In a sunny but secluded space, just inside this perimeter, one finds alluringly toned men and women sunbathing. They are young, old, nearly naked, fully clothed, happy to be seen, unhappy to be seen, indifferent. Moving now toward the heart of the space, here are the games and the children. Some play on the equipment. Others buzz in endless squiggles as they pursue the soccer ball. Little groups of children quietly or boisterously discuss their plans in the shade of the great fur trees. One solitary boy sits against a concrete wall, whining to his mother who listens with concern that may or may not be genuine. Here one finds that encircling these groups of children and sprinkled throughout are adults: parents and caregivers of various types, older siblings and babysitters.

Categories puff into being as the mind searches for eloquent words. The truth is there but it can never be anywhere but where it is, it can never have a form other than itself. Those particulars which become the exemplars on which we base categories can never be identical to ideas in the mind, words on the lip, or the abstract workings of a step-wise mechanical process.

The observer speaks from memory, but those who listen must then speak from their imaginations. Deep in the consciousness there are these little things - impressions of the world - that are a more primordial form of imagination which springs up in the moment of observation. But for the reader there are no impressions of the particular moment at the particular place that I have observed. And so even if by some luck every detail he contemplates is filled in exactly as it was, the reader will only have recreated those things which he has contemplated. But contemplation itself is limited in ways that experience is not, and it extends in dimensions that have never yet been experienced.

Philosophy can now be considered. If description, prediction, and all the other measurable ways of analyzing the narratives of people are to be refined, all such refinement must be based on the comparison of the narratives of observers with those of listeners. Because this is a question of the quality of the imagination itself, Philosophy is an effort to improve imagination. But this means that we must define improvement, and so we must have some sentimental agreement as to what ways of imagining are superior. Thus it will never be possible to proceed from first principles in the way that the philosophers of old have done. It should be obvious, in any event, that philosophy cannot exist outside of the particular cultural tradition from which the consciousnesses of its practitioners are constructed. To note: consciousness can only be constructed from things which are not consciousness, or it cannot be constructed at all.