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April 11, 2003

Right vs. Left

Zizka has been questioning my identification with the Right and focusing in on bizarre elements of the Left while neglecting the problems with the Right. In the end, this is probably to some extent correct and perhaps counter-productive, but I need to clarify. I am in favor of the Western political system, which in this day means pluralistic liberal democracy. Free speech, individual rights and equal application of the law are crucial to this. Within the West there is a general consensus in this direction, no matter that the pendulum of politics may swing Right or Left. I don't think Social Democratic Sweden is a "dystopia" nor do I believe the conservative United States is a "hell hole." Ultimately, they are both expressions of the Western Way. I contrast this with the Islamic or Chinese civilizations-which I most certainly do not agree with on normative grounds.

Within the West there are elements that I believe are undermining support for universal values of toleration and liberty. Some of this is on the Right-but these are long-standing groups of reactionaries that historically have fought a rear-guard action, shouting "Stop" to history. On the Left though, what I call the "retro-progressives," seem to me to be pushing a new paradigm that emphasizes group rights and an attack on the historic legacy of the West as immoral. This I find troubling. Because of the nature of the Left, many do not agree with this, and the scientists that routinely attack post-Modernists and intellectual relativists are often Leftists, even Marxists, who reject the "flight from reason." I wish them good luck, I now identify with the "status quo Right," so to speak. I do not wish for an ideal past as much as the liberal present.

There was a time as a hard-core libertarian when I was concerned with the mammoth-size of government. It still concerns me. But these values are tempered by greater concern with the threats to the liberal order that I see coming from within. Some right-wingers like Robertson & co. have shown their cards, citing 9-11 as retribution from god, but I believe these people are fringe elements on the Right. Additionally, though evangelicals and conservative Christians are a substantial portion of the American populace, they have never influenced the elite discourse to a great degree (most Americans want Creationism given "Equal Time," but the elite has never seen fit to implement this). This contrasts with the Leftists, of all stripes, who dominate Academia. Their words, their ideas, eventually percolate throughout society. What is Left in one generation is often the status quo in another (though what is Left changes, 18th century "Leftists" were anti-government, pro-free trade, etc.).

A good example of this is when I listen to anti-porn activists on the Right parodying Feminist Theory obviously culled from Dworkin & McKinnon to justify their censorship. Similarly, Islamists and their ilk now use anti-Orientalist rhetoric that they steal from the Left to justify their reactionary idylls as superior to the Western Way. The debate, the process, is the crux of the issue. Conservatives have always had factions that have had reservations about the liberal order-but these were marginalized because of their lack of intellectual firepower (in the United States). Today factions of the Left have become sour on the liberal project. Perhaps numerically these are marginal as well, but their Academic writings and the force of their logic is spreading, in particular toward identity politics (racial & religious) activists-who in my experience are only cosmetically "liberal". An example of the the spread of an elite mode of thought that may seem innocuous and perhaps is is that former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed has begn using the term "People of Faith."

The "Left," and the elites, make history. That is where the action & my concern is. My experience as a young man is that it is those on the Left that have labelled me as a "conservative," despite my libertarian affiliation, so I have accepted that over time, despite my reservations and heterodoxies. So be it.

PS My lack of interest in intercine conflicts is also why I think the Paleo vs. Neocon spat is counterproductive.

PPS Also, some elements of the retro-progressive Left and especially the non-Western movements that draw succor from them sound a lot like the 19th century Romanticists in their idealism of the past and the emphasis on group collective action and consciousness delineated by race or religion. Race and religion are important realities, but the Western Way allows us to transcend these particularisms by embedding our rights within generalities. The dichotomy in "rights" movements can be illustrated by feminism, which has a liberal strain coming in from Wollstonecraft, later appealed to "genteel" southern women by emphasizing their different but equal nature. Do women want equal rights with men? I hope so. Are women a separate class that should act in their own interests, and utter phrases like "sleeping with the enemy," well, this is what we should be moving away from. Most feminists are into equity, but the most active, the most vocal, have strong identity politics influences.

Addendum: Another Left-Right convergence that might interest readers, some members of the Intelligent Design movement have spoken of using Post-Modernism to "de-center" and "de-privilege" evolutionary theory in modern day science. Who needs a brain when you can borrow someone else's?

Posted by razib at 07:27 PM

Razib - major correction. I do not believe the anti-rationalist Left are comprised of Marxists. If anything, the opposite. The crusty old Left which includes Trotskyiites and Marxists is if anything more rationalist than the New Leftists reared on the likes of Catherine McKinnon, Naomi Wolf, and the po-mo/hermeneutics crowd. In fact most of the people who have been most critical of irrationalism in the left have been Marxists e.g. I believe one of the people involved in the Sokal hoax taught at Nicaraguan schools for a period. Marx whatever his faults was part of the Enlightenment. Recall too that Chomsky (not a Marxist but an anarchist, nonetheless old left) defended evolutionary psychology/study into racial differences. One can trace the intellectual degeneracy of the Left to the fact that crusty materialists influenced by either Marx or the classic anarchists and/or old pragmatic John Dewey-eque social activism have been replaced by new age/politically correct types.

Posted by: Jason Soon at April 11, 2003 11:13 PM

I also support liberal democracy. But, I don't agree with the pro-democracy rhetoric that paints a picture of it as the final word in social organization, or wants to spread it everywhere in the world

In my opinion, societies function well, or not, because of their population, history, and culture; not because they are democratic or not. Democracy is based on the faith that the majority of individuals acts semi-rationally. For example, if I lived in a society where free democratic elections would elect quasi-mad religious fanatics, I would not want my country to have a democracy.

Also, I have a certain dislike for appeals to "rationality". In my experience, overt "rationalists" tend to be extremists of both the left and right (old-school Marxists/Ayn Rand cultists). Rather than rationalism, I prefer "common sense", which is the practical, as opposed to ideological/theoretical rationality.

Posted by: Dienekes at April 11, 2003 11:36 PM

The threat to Western Civilization comes from the Left. Even if Pat Robertson and other wacky fundamentalist Jesus Christers came to power in the US, what would happen? If the entire agenda of the Christian Coalition was to be implemented tomorrow, it would not change anybody's life in a drastic way. You might not be able to purchase alcohol on Sundays and good porn would perhaps be harder to find, but that's abou it. On a host of issues spanning from property rights to freedom of speech, Christian conservatives fare better than left-liberals with their big-government theology and university "speech-codes". The "equality" preached with fanatical zeal by left-liberals is little more than a revolt against nature, and could only be assured by totalitarian rule. Private property rights would be seriously curtailed, and all "heretics," that is, any dissenters from this enforced, revolutionary "egalitarianism", would be isolated and persecuted.

Posted by: nietzsche at April 11, 2003 11:57 PM

Dienekes: "I also support liberal democracy. But, I don't agree with the pro-democracy rhetoric that paints a picture of it as the final word in social organization, or wants to spread it everywhere in the world"

Let's look at the known historical alternatives to liberal democracy: fascism, Communism, National Socialism, absolute monarchy, oriental despotism, theocracy, autocracy. What's your alternative to liberal democracy Dienekes?

Posted by: nietzsche at April 12, 2003 05:35 AM

jason, if i was not clear-i meant that part of the anti-relativist Left are the Marxists. that would only make sense, Marx himself had little use for non-Western cultures which he saw as dead-ends.

Posted by: razib at April 12, 2003 08:13 AM

This is off-topic, but I'd like to know what Razib's (and other GNXPers) take is on "Up From Dragons" by John Skoyles. It seems to me to be an underinformed but intelligent attack on evolutionary psychology. To me, Skoyles seems smarter than Gould and more interesting. I think he has less of an agenda but is simply aware of an interpretation of certain neuroscience that indicates extreme human malleability.

Posted by: Michael vassar at April 12, 2003 12:49 PM

i will check it out, never heard of it.

BTW, gamma's DESIGN PATTERN's book is pretty good-to alpha. on my second reading in a week.

Posted by: razib at April 12, 2003 01:18 PM

Ok Razib - I'm sold. Gonna hit some second hand computer bookshops this week and if I can't find Design Patterns there, I'm off to Amazon.ca.

Posted by: the alpha male at April 12, 2003 02:09 PM

>> Let's look at the known historical alternatives to liberal democracy: fascism, Communism, National Socialism, absolute monarchy, oriental despotism, theocracy, autocracy. What's your alternative to liberal democracy Dienekes?

The system of government that will eventually replace liberal democracy has not been invented yet. Hence, there's no point in comparing democracy with systems that existed in the past. Liberal democracy is just one step in the evolution of social organization. It is by no means the final step. From a limited historical perspective, it appears that democracy will last forever. But, it will probably not, just as past systems have not. And, we can't say what will replace it, because that will emerge out of the needs and interests of people living in the future - which are unknown to us.

PS: Democracy is a misnomer when applied to current "democratic" forms of government. Constitutional elected oligarchy is a better term. Oligarchy, because power is in the hands of the few, "elected" for obvious reasons, and constitutional inasmuch as their power is not absolute, but subject to a long-term set of rules (constitution)

Posted by: Dienekes at April 12, 2003 04:42 PM

I can identify with Razib's discomfort on the Right. I'm a mystical hippie at heart, and I don't click with many Republicans I know are superficial and self-important (like 90% of the people in D.C., but still). Every time I hear one of the College Republican/Objectivists use "liberal" as a slur, I get embarassed for them. Like the PoMos, they think they've found the truth, and when it comes to different opinions, they are too cool for school.

I'm conservative because I think that conservative thinkers are searching for the truth, while leftists seem to have given up. But if you are truly searching for the truth, and cannot live without it, I can hang with you. I prefer people to disagree with me intelligently than to agree with me for stupid reasons.

Posted by: duende at April 12, 2003 06:34 PM

"Another Left-Right convergence that might interest readers, some members of the Intelligent Design movement have spoken of using Post-Modernism to "de-center" and "de-privilege" evolutionary theory in modern day science. Who needs a brain when you can borrow someone else's?"

All the "Intelligent Design" people that I had the misfortune of meeting were religious nutbags and Jebus freaks. They usually try very hard to come across as reasonable and "scientific" as they can, but if you scratch the surface you'll find out that they're really ideologues with an anti-secularist agenda. One "Intelligent Design" guy I knew had a Ph.D in bio-chemistry and was a member of the ultra-orthodox Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei. If you can believe in the intellectual horror known as the "Real Presence", gods, angels, virgin births, and nine impossible things before breakfast, you don't have a right to call yourself a serious scientist. End of debate.

Posted by: nietzsche at April 12, 2003 09:20 PM

If I had confidence that "The Left" is still making history, I wouldn't be here. My feeling is that Bush is making history, and I mistrust him and almost his whole entourage. The Left is pretty much shattered.

I think I've said most of my political piece on GNXP. As conservatives, most of you are very junior partners in the coalition. I think that you should all pay more attention to the movers and shakers of the coalition and what their plans are. Some here probably will be happy with what they then find out, others not. It makes more sense to take people at their word than to assume that they're just kidding. I don't think can be assumed that the hard-right Republican core constituency will be shunted aside in the final minutes of the game.

As far as race goes, I look at it at three levels. Are intelligence and temperament partly inherited? Answer, probably. Second, is the analysis of human behavioral variation in terms of discrete races useful? I tend toward nominalism on that one, meaning that the answer for me so far is no.

Once cultural, historical, and institutional influences are factored out, maybe there remains a purely hereditary influence. Both for scientific and political reasons, it's best to withhold judgement until the factoring-out is done. But as is well-known, that kind of factoring-out is terribly hard to do. (I am dubious of attempts to do this simply by statistical manipulation.)

My third point is that scientific discussions of race tend strongly to be appropriated by chauvinist-nationalist-nativist ideologies which in my opinion have historically been intensely negative in their effects. If you look at group antagonisms worldwide, the racial content falls as low as zero (the burukamin in Japan, probably the Catholic/Protestant dispute in Ireland, probably the Serb/Croat dispute in old Yugoslavia). But these disputes develop the same way everywhere, whether there's any genetic ammunition or not.

Racial realism in the U.S. has an ambiguous relationship to traditional American anti-black racism. Mac Diva thinks that it's just a genteel form of the same thing, and that's why she's antagonistic. She may be wrong on that interpretation, but there's something there which needs to be addressed. As far as individuals here, I'd say she's about right about some, but not others.

I came on to the site haphazardly (via Diane Elliot through Ampersand, the latter a p.c. left site). I've enjoyed many discussions here but as the controversy developed I felt obligated to join in on the racial one. People have always expressed thier arguments rationally and fairly. I recognize that I come from an entirely different background and point of view and don't expect to change your minds completely. (Most here are little-government libertarians by my guess; I haven't even gotten into that one here.)

I'm not really picking up my football and going home. It's just that I've said most of what I have to say. If the discussion wanders around to Lithuanian pagans again I'll stop by.

Posted by: zizka at April 13, 2003 10:14 AM

Zizka: "If the discussion wanders around to Lithuanian pagans again I'll stop by."

I can't wait! The next two books on my reading list (once I finish reading the Koran): The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity (Richard Fletcher) and Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean world from the second century AD to the conversion of Constantine (Robin Lane Fox).

I wish that I had more time for these books and many others dealing with the history of world religions, but working full time as well as doing an LL.M (I'm almost done) doesn't leave me much time for my hobbies.

Posted by: nietzsche at April 13, 2003 11:26 AM

nietzsche wrote:

"Another Left-Right convergence that might interest readers, some members of the Intelligent Design movement have spoken of using Post-Modernism to "de-center" and "de-privilege" evolutionary theory in modern day science. Who needs a brain when you can borrow someone else's?"

I probably don't believe in what most creationists probably consider "intelligent design" but as a spiritual man I consider that the desires of sentient beings cannot be fully accounted for by genetics alone. For instance I believe that people's notion of what is good and what is beautiful is partly shaped by a hidden spiritual dimension, and in fact I believe that the spiritual dimension affects the desires of all sentient beings in ways that are particular to them. If desires are so influenced, as I believe, then this would be the basis for selection pressure that could not be accounted for by genetic theory.

Posted by: Sporon at April 13, 2003 03:07 PM

Also recommended: "Lithuania Ascending" by Rowell: about the pagan Lithuanian empire which stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea (or almost).

In 1368 the last pagan / first Christian Lithuanian ruler Jagiello married a teenage Polish princess, Jadwiga, and became ruler of Poland, founding a dynasty that lasted for centuries. The princess became a saint because of her trials. Jagiello's table manners were terrible, and he was a brute:

"Jagiello regalado era caro, pues ostentaba malos modales, eructaba como chancho atiborrado mientras comía con las manos sucias, ventoseaba a cada rato y bebía como si el licor iba a acabarse.... El tosco marido que había adquirido casi la mata en la noche de bodas, desflorándola como si estaba descuartizando una presa."

Posted by: zizka at April 13, 2003 07:17 PM

Zizka: "In 1368 the last pagan / first Christian Lithuanian ruler Jagiello married a teenage Polish princess, Jadwiga, and became ruler of Poland, founding a dynasty that lasted for centuries."

Why was Lithuania the last country in Europe to receive the Good News of Our Lord?

And what role did the Prussian Knights play in Christianizing them?

To what extent did the invading Prussians mix (as in intermarriage) with the locals?

Were the "original" Prussians Slavic or Baltic? It seems that the sources are ambiguous on this last point, non?

Posted by: nietzsche at April 14, 2003 03:49 AM

I'm speechless. By the way, here are some blogs that picked up on her "gnxp = racist" essay:


Roger Ailes (april 8th- permalink broken)

The Watch (posted by MDiv)

Posted by: Jason Malloy at April 14, 2003 06:44 AM

"too lazy to post this, but check out how crazy Mac Diva is here. "

hmm, looks like someone is strongly against interracial marriage. Racist!

Posted by: Jason Soon at April 14, 2003 08:21 AM

Mac Diva: "gene expression is the most racist blog out there"

(she hasn't been around much, has she?)

this has provoked a lot of breast-beating, soul-searching, and gnashing of teeth from every contributor of this site.

A piece of friendly advice:


[The next time someone mentions Comrade Mac Diva I think that I'm going to cut my wrists, out of sheer boredom...]

Posted by: nietzsche at April 14, 2003 02:25 PM

Right and Left can be looked at as necessarily complimentary. But I beg to differ on a point. Although the Left looks to be the agent of change ("action" was your word), it is really only a parasitic political reaction. The creators, the shakers, are the capitalist conservatives. They create industry, free enterprise, competition, etc. They make things happen. The Left merely lives off criticizing them and trying to change the economic distribution of wealth.

In this sense, the Left is like a safety valve. If left to their own, the conservatives would develop into a nasty economic tyranny, as we saw in the early days of American industry. The Left has to open things up, loosen things up, and counter this. Never mind the specific ideology. This anti-power reaction is always present, or latent in any society, and if left to itself, will also rise to power, and create even worse tyranny, through anarchy.

So, in a way, both have to exist, to make the world go 'round.

I'm not sure I really believe this. It is only a metaphorical sort of picture. All we know is, there have always been the rich, and always the poor. The struggle seems permanent.

Posted by: David Yeagley at April 14, 2003 07:13 PM

The Teutonic Knights were Germans, but the Lithuanians whipped them. The original Prussians were akin to Lithuanians (Baltic language) but were destroyed by the Germans (their language disappeared).

The Lithuanians converted on their own terms while at the height of their power. Eventually the Lithuanian elite became Polish and the Lithuanians became a subject peasant people.

Posted by: zizka at April 14, 2003 07:33 PM

Not a stupid museum. Civilization began in Iraq.

People complain about the hospitals being looted too.

The goalposts have already been moved twice by Bush. It doesn't really make any difference any more whether there ever were any WMD or whether there was a an al Qaeda connectiuon. Now it's liberating the Iraqis, but that goal post will disappear in a weak or two too.

"Kicking ass" is for sports. Clausewitz didn't define victory as kicking ass.

Posted by: zizka at April 15, 2003 09:08 PM

who fucking gives a shit about this stupid Iraqi museum?

Tell me you're kidding

Posted by: Jason Malloy at April 16, 2003 07:14 AM

Cultural philistinism run amok

Posted by: nietzsche at April 16, 2003 07:30 AM

godlesscapitalist wrote:

"who fucking gives a shit about this stupid Iraqi museum?"

I confess that I "give a shit". The loss of these relics is a terrible tragedy. How is it any different from the destruction of a library containing rare manuscripts from antiquity? Manuscripts and artifacts constitute mankinds memory, since the memory of an individual does not extend beyond one lifetime.

I would not "give a shit" if neoconservatism was wiped out.

Posted by: Sporon at April 16, 2003 09:20 AM

"More importantly, the people of Baghdad are probably a hell of a lot better off with no museum/no Saddam than the previous state of unlooted museum/Saddam present."

Call me cold, but, the contents of the Iraq museum are more important to me than the Iraqi people or their freedom - i couldn't care less about them.

Posted by: the_alpha_male at April 16, 2003 01:21 PM

"But alpha - you forget that many of the things in that museum were *created* by the Iraqi people."

The Iraqi people of a 1000 AD - 5000 BC made those things. Call me a skeptic, but I doubt the art of that era is going to replaced any time soon by the current population with their current level of intellectual capital - i'm hope i'm wrong.

Over the summer, i went to the Royal Ontario Museum to see some of the Qin Dynasty relics and other relics and art from ancient china and I was blown away. I've seen the Terra Cotta armies on TV and i'm blown away. Ancient Greek art is amazing, not just because of it's aesthetic appeal - but because they were the first to "invent" that type of art. I think the same applies to Iraqi art. Can't really explain why, i'm not an artsy guy, but most modern art doesn't do it for me.

Posted by: the_alpha_male at April 16, 2003 02:42 PM

Sporon wrote:

I confess that I "give a shit." The loss of these relics is a terrible tragedy. ... I would not "give a shit" if neoconservatism was wiped out.

Dear Sporon:

I too care very deeply about the Iraqi antiquities. However, the tragedy of their loss does not stir me to hatred of the neocons, any more than the sack of Rome stirs me to hatred of the Germanic tribesmen who perpetrated it.

True lovers of antiquity accept these periodic destructions with a philosophical sigh. They are part and parcel of the drama of human striving of which the potsherds and stelae are but lifeless symbols.

How many lovely objects do you suppose the Assyrians and Babylonians ruined in their bloody romps across Mesopotamia -- the very military campaigns commemorated in cuneiform script on those stolen tablets from the Baghdad Museum?

Nebuchadnezzar laid waste to whole cities; razed temples; smashed idols; melted golden artifacts; massacred populations while moving others far from their homelands. Entire civilizations were ground up in the mill of his mad ambition, never to be seen again -- peoples whose names and languages we will never know.

Who was more of a "neocon" than Nebuchadnezzar -- at least, as you seem to define that word? He was more neocon than the most bloodthirsty of Weekly Standard columnists. Yet you weep over the lost relics of his reign, the broken inscriptions boasting of his conquests; his vandalism; his pilferage, his rape, torture, dismemberment and enslavement of innocents.

You are confused, Sporon, very confused.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 16, 2003 03:38 PM


WWII: The great-power reasons for fighting WWII were adequate in themselves. The later use of the Holocaust (which wasn't there in 1941, and which in any case Roosevelt couldn't have used because of US anti-Semitism) strengthens the case, rather than weakening or contradicting it.

"Politics by other means" would include the outcome of the occupation. At the moment it doesn't look all that good, and Iraq isn't a place like Afghanistan which we can ignore. I have a niece in the reserves -- my guess is that she's be called up for the occupation, which will be messier than the war. This isn't over yet.

For the record, I predicted a quick victory and did not oppose the war after it had started. But I do not trust Bush in anything whatsoever.

Your endorsement of government lying to justify going to war is too absolute. I'm trying to think of Lincoln's lies -- as I remember he didn't initiate the war at all. And I talked about "shifting the goalposts" because you brought it up.

Mr. Poe's sympathy for the poor victims of Nebuchadnezzer strikes a jarringly false note. Destroying the historical record is always bad. (The Iraqi library was also destroyed, and will be mostly unrecoverable -- unlike the museum).

Posted by: zizka at April 16, 2003 04:22 PM

zizka writes:

Mr. Poe's sympathy for the poor victims of Nebuchadnezzer strikes a jarringly false note.

Not just a false note, but a jarringly false one? Why do you say that?

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 16, 2003 05:03 PM

godlesscapitalist writes:

"Jarringly" false perhaps b/c the passage in question is quite adjective-laden, and perhaps b/c they've been dead for thousands of years.

Well, I suppose the operative word here is "perhaps." Neither one of us actually knows why zizka said what he did.

I wonder if he will tell us.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 17, 2003 06:18 AM

Speaking for myself, it's just as easy for me to well up with emotion when thinking/reading about the victims of history be they 40 years ago or 4000. My empathy is not constrained temporally, and I am not def to human suffering.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at April 17, 2003 08:04 AM

godless capitalist asks:

...do you feel sorry for our prehuman ancestors who died? or only for the first quasi-humans?

I feel sorry for pre-humans, quasi-humans and even non-humans, especially if the non-humans are furry, warm-blooded and relatively intelligent.

But I feel much sorrier for the poor souls whom Nebuchadnezzar killed.

...do you feel as sorry for the deaths of people in other countries as you do for American civilians?

Absolutely not. No slaughter of civilians ever touched me as did the 9-11 massacre.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 17, 2003 01:27 PM

Godless: The abolitionists hated Lincoln. He was very wishy-washy on the slavery issue and said over and over again that he was trying only to preserve the union. On the other hand, the slaveowners hated him too, and his election led to secession. The US was really impossibly divided. So the retrospective glorification of Lincoln as the man who freed the slaves (like Roosevelt and the holocaust) is misleading. This is a different thing than saying that Lincoln lied, though.

"War opponents have been wrong about everything so far".

A. So a lot of sevens have been coming up, so you'll keep putting your money on sevens?

B. Not true. Many anti-war people predicted a US win, possibly a quick one (I did). Criticism early in the campaign came mostly from ex-military. My concern from the beginning was Bush's long-term plans, his domestic policies, his diplomatic recklessness, and the occupation. Nothing has happened to change my mind.

Among the things that Clinton supposedly neglected was the Iraq threat. But it looks like there wasn't any. Clinton did not neglect al Qaeda, but he was hamstrung by the Repubs. Right now it's Bush neglecting al Qaeda. Korea is a scary situation and I don't know what to say at this point.

Political realism has its place, but too big a dose and you become a Stalinist (I'm obeying Godwin's law). And Bush is so cocky, pious and ignorant that you wonder whether he's going to adopt the "let's keep winning until we lose!" strategy.

Posted by: zizka at April 17, 2003 04:37 PM

P.S. The relics being preserved were not all from Nebuchadnezzar. Many came from the much earlier Sumerians, who were also more peaceful. In any case, the artifacts were not important as mementos of the rulers they were produced under, but of an era of history.

Some of you guys are actually talking as if the artifacts were accomplices of the Assyrians and the museum was an accomplice of Saddam. This goes beyond Maoism.

Posted by: zizka at April 17, 2003 04:41 PM

Poe: The term "jarringly" is a cliche and I am guilty. The operative word here is "false" in the sense of "phony". You don't really care about Nebuchadnezzar's victims, but in any case that's irrelevant. See above. Artifacts are not criminals to be judged.

Posted by: zizka at April 17, 2003 04:44 PM


The operative word here is "false" in the sense of "phony". You don't really care about Nebuchadnezzar's victims...

I can only repeat: why do you say that?

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 17, 2003 05:12 PM

Godless: there are two balls in the air now. One is the liberation of the people of the Middle East, starting with Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no idea what the outcome is on either one. Literally no idea. The Afghan central government is so weak that it can't even protect Karzai -- Americans do that. Warlords govern the rest, and they're probably gearing up for another war.

People often celebrate once they know who's going to win. Afghans celebrated when the Taliban won. What I've seen in Iraq doesn't look very good so far.

The other ball is the military neutralization of the middle east. I think that that is the real goal, and it is obviously attainable, whether justified or now. (While I do not support an attack on Iran, Iraq is at the mercy of Iran, Syria, and Turkey at the moment, so if we don't want to defend Iraq forever we have to do something.

As for terrorism, that's the only weapon Islam has. The 9/11 attacks cost less then half a million last I heard. As for WMD, we'll see, but I believe that Saddam's WMD threat was enormously exaggerated. As were his al Qaeda connections.

Posted by: zizka at April 17, 2003 07:46 PM

I don't know what I think about reshaping the Middle East. It's never been argued in public, and I'm not an insider. Just a citizen. I still mistrust Bush's judgement and those around him. There are people who keep taking chances until they finally lose big. We'll see.

At this point it seems possible to me that the whole thing about Saddam's WMD was a hoax, along with his ties to al Qaeda. I think we disagree about the Saddam threat, as well as to whether we can say yet that Iraq or Afghanistan has been liberated. (I say, not until a better government is securely in place in both countries). I do agree that the external threats from Afghanistan and Saddam, whatever they were, have been eliminated, though the long-term al-Qaeda threat is a big question-mark.
If reshaping the middle east ends up with Saudi Arabia "reshaped", there will be a plausibility to it. And Israel-Palestine too. But the Bushes are pretty close to the Saudis. My understanding is that both the manpower and the funding for 9/11 came from either the Saudis or the Gulf States.

At this point I'm not up to speed on Clinton's negligence vs. OBL and Saddam. Up until a few months ago I kept up on the Bush family problems in that area ( www.vanitysite.net/binladen.htm )but I've let that slack too. Very few of any party even dreamed of the possibility of 9/11, and not much was done or proposed by anyone. Bush's 2000 performance seems to have been worse than Clinton's. This is just partisan sniping when I say this of course, not a an address of the big issue.

Posted by: zizka at April 18, 2003 03:30 PM

I have posted some of these comments on another site put they seem appropriate here:
The comments on this site reflect the growing schism in our country. It is a microcosm of our nation. Anyone that truly believes we still live in a free country is delusional. There was a time when we did live in true freedom but it has long since passed. We have managed to piss that away with our petty politics and opinions. The
"liberals" and "conservatives", "republicans" and "democrats", "right" and "left". The country may go to hell but we will stand firm in our own "camps" no matter what! We will not be troubled with reason, facts or, God forbid, COMPROMISE! Each side believes only they have the wisdom to turn the country into Utopia while believing the other side is a bunch of ignorant bastards whose best efforts will only destroy it. In the meantime no one seems to notice our country in a tail spin! In the past 20 years both sides have had a shot at doing something about it and nothing has changed. Do we learn from this? Of course not! We are so divided on every issue, I personally believe there is no way back. No, I'm not a pessimist or a fatalist. I can see what is happening every day so I'm a realist! It will not go away if I ignore it. I can't fool myself into believing that it is going to change. It seems that there has always been "them" and "us". In just the past ten years the division has grown even wider and more bitter. It isn't that we can't agree, we are at a point where we refuse to agree. We aren't looking for a common ground, thus assuring we will never find it. There is an old saying, "A house divided has to fall". I honestly believe we are almost there. Another old saying, "We have found the enemy and he is us". We don't have to worry about Iraq, Iran, North Korea, terrorist or any of our many enemies around the world. There is enough hate right here in the good old USA to destroy us. Land of the free? That's a joke! We are a spoiled nation filled with hatred, racism, bigotry, intolerance, the have and have nots, corruption in the highest levels of government and civilian offices. Does anyone really believe there is true justice in our country? We have removed God from our schools. What replaced him? Drugs, condoms and guns! But we can't seem to understand why our classrooms have gone from a safe place of learning to shooting galleries! The family unit is almost a thing of the past. We have lost our sense of values and morals. We can't teach our children what we don't know, yet no one can figure out why they are killing each other in record numbers. We bitch and moan about our rights while trampling all over the rights of others. Have you ever noticed where one person's freedom begins another person's freedom ends! Liberty and justice for all. Those words sure ring hollow? I have no hope for the future of America but I'm not going to sit around weeping and wailing about it. We have done this to ourselves. Do I care? Of course I do! Do I believe we are going to do anything to change it? Absolutely not! We have had plenty of time and opportunities and we are still losing ground. We deserve it. When we start to self-destruct and we are looking around for someone to blame, look in the mirror. Am I a bit jaded? Probably! I have witnessed this same old crap all of my adult life. I know someone is going to respond with the tired old cliché, "if you don't like it why don't you leave". Can't! I'm not a coward so I'm going to see it through to the bitter end, just not with blinders on!

Posted by: John Q. Citizen at June 6, 2003 08:16 AM