Shame On The Liberals Who Rationalise Terror

Dec 21, 2015

by Nick Cohen

After the massacres in Paris on November 13, the US Secretary of State John Kerry made a statement so disgraceful you had to read it, rub your eyes, and read it again to comprehend the extent of his folly: “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry began in the laboured English of an over-promoted middle manager.

“There was a sort of particularised focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorise people.”

Did you get that? Then allow me to translate. Kerry believes the satirists Islamist gunmen killed at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris’s 11th arrondissement on January 5 had it coming. It is not that they deserved to die. John Kerry is a New England liberal, after all, and does not endorse the death penalty for journalists. But liberalism is a two-faced creed. It can mean that you believe in individual freedom and abhor every variety of prejudice, including the prejudice that allows men to shoot journalists dead for producing a magazine they disapprove of.  Or it can mean that you go to such lengths to take account of your enemy’s opinions you become indistinguishable from him.

John Kerry’s liberalism, and the liberalism of millions like him, ignores Chesterton’s warning not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out. Kerry wanted to understand radical Islam and to seek the root causes of its apparently psychopathic violence. Not for him the knee-jerk condemnations of a red-state redneck. When Kerry applied his nuanced and expensively educated mind to the corpses in the magazine office, he discovered that the dead had provoked their own murders. The assassins had, well, if not quite legitimate reasons, then certainly a “rationale” which explained why they were “really angry because of this and that”.

Charlie Hebdo mocked the prophet Muhammad, Islamic State and Boko Haram. Its editor Stéphane Charbonnier (aka Charb), the cartoonists and columnists who wrote for him, and the police officers who died protecting their freedom (and ours) knew the risks and paid the price. They went looking for trouble and we should not be shocked that they found it.

All the rest of us had to do was to moderate our behaviour. If we were careful not to make terrorists “really angry” about “this and that”, we would be safe.


Read more by clicking on the name of the source below.

119 comments on “Shame On The Liberals Who Rationalise Terror

  • Being eclectic in my politics, neither left or right, I can be greatly amused by the leftist reaction to this piece. Ideologies are ideologies, left, right and Islam All insane and all culpable in part for the many sorrows the world is being subjected to.

    When you give yourself over to an ideology critical thinking goes out the window. The right wants eternal war in the Middle east, the left is full of Chomsky-ites on the subject and Islam is just batshit crazy.



    Report abuse

  • Ideologies are ideologies, left, right and Islam All insane

    I concur Neodarwinian. I am of the opinion that to adhere to an ideology of any colour means you’ve outsourced you brain to a third party. If you are of the left or the right, fascist, communists of conspiracist, you adhere to someone else’s thoughts, not your own. If an issue comes up, you go to the automatic drop down box of ideological responses in your brain, select the appropriate number and parrot the reply. You haven’t worked it out for yourself. You’re an intellectual automaton.

    I am of the view, and try to adhere the process of making each decision based on the prevailing evidence. Some might by coincidence be considered left. Some to the right. But that is by chance, not through adherence to an ideology.

    In Australia, we have the same political system as China. We have a one party state, where all decisions for the government are decided by four or five people close to the Prime Minister. That then gets passed through parliament by the party hacks who must vote according to party ideology. The only difference with China is that we get to choose which one party government is in power every three years. This, is not democracy.

    The value of democracy rests in the collective consensus of a group of people who theoretically should judge and arrive at their decision on the basis of an assessment of available, credible evidence. Such a collective approach is more likely over time to make better decisions than a king, dictator, or a left or right wing political party. That is democracy. Not an election every three years, but a decision by evidentiary consensus of the evidence of each and every question. The vote of reasoned independent parliament of people, aligned to no political party is the only true expression of the value of consensus decision making.

    So I would ban political parties, and have democratic governments made up of entirely independent members, who own no allegiance to anyone. Every vote on the consensus of evidence.

    Remember. An ideology is an argument in the absence of evidence. Some guy sits in an attic with an inkwell and quill, writing down how things should be done, without reference to the evidence to support his opinion. They then try and shoe horn the ideology onto the people. They all fail. Communism / socialism always fails because homo sapiens are only altruistic to near genetic relatives. We’re greedy bastards. Capitalism will fail because it breaches one of the founding laws of the universe, “Closed systems have limits.” Capitalism requires exponential compound growth forever, which is impossible.

    p.s. Greetings denizens on planet earths’ solstice. A far more auspicious date than christmas. A date know to civilizations all over the world. The day when the seasons change, based on scientific observation. Far more worthy of celebration that any religious festival combined with obscene consumerism.



    Report abuse

  • There is a difference between excusing terror and explaining it. People in the west are in deep denial of the war crimes they committed in the middle east. They attacked civilians with banned weapons. They tortured. If you commit crimes like this you must expect retaliation even more barbaric. If we keep closing our eyes to this obvious fact, we will just make the revenge spiral worse.

    If we do not smarten up, we could end up with a revenge spiral like the one is Israel which is also fueled by denial.



    Report abuse

  • Cartoons are war crimes?

    No one I know denies anything, but most people I know know that without the West ever existing Islam and the countries under it’s firm grip would still be hell on earth.

    http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/

    Read the whole thing Noam and then tell me why apostasy is such a big deal. Just one example of the internal horrors of islam.

    What were you saying about denial?

    P.S. Iran and Saudi Arabia declined to be surveyed.



    Report abuse

  • I am not afraid to call myself a leftist or a liberal. Nor do I consider this to be restrictive in any way. I do think that labels and fixed adherence to what you call “ideologies” can be destructive, but I am a leftist.
    I don’t think you understand Marxism. I am not a Marxist but I know enough about it to know that it isn’t any one thing; within the framework of Marxism there is not only room, but the need, for a continuous process of redefining and rethinking.
    There are people on the left who give leftists a bad name; they are predictable and unable to think for themselves. But some leftists are independently minded and capable of changing their minds, and may even be conservative on some issues. (Why not?)
    We are free to reject these words, but I for one think they have meaning and, as I said, are not to be feared.
    The word “leftist” does not define me; I define the word.
    You mentioned Democracy. That is an ideology, is it not? And there are different types of Democracies. And there are different forms of socialism. You are critical of the U.S and rightly so, for not having universal health care or a safety net: well those are liberal principles, leftist principles, if you will. Let’s not run from words. We should critique them, but not cower in fear of them, or of being labelled.



    Report abuse

  • P.S. David, I have great respect for you. You are truly formidable –and humane.—Great combination. But your comment about socialism was about as nuanced as a Donald Trump speech.

    Socialism: What kind of socialism are we talking about? What do we mean when we use that term? The Soviet variety, which had many tyrannical elements to it, was one type. Socialism has assumed many forms: there is, for example, social democracy of various kinds, there’s cooperativism . . . As I have said before, I think socialism responds to a primary impulse in the human heart, and maybe in the human mind.—Wouldn’t it be better to have a society organized along social lines, rather than one based on the private appropriation of the wealth of nations?

    Your definition of the word ideology is incorrect.



    Report abuse

  • I am not a philosopher Dan. It’s way above my pay grade. I am more your common man on the Clapham omnibus. UK Chief Justice expression.

    I can’t do species of marxism. I’d get lost at the dust jacket. The point of my diatribe is that each decision you make should be support by evidence. You don’t drive on the wrong side of the road because…. You don’t drink cyanide because… You continue to breath because… Evidence. So why not apply this to how we govern ourselves. Why not make decisions on what is before the House, on the basis of the evidence not the ideology. This has no label to me except commonsense.

    I’m out of my philosophical depth, but I think democracy is a system of government, not an ideology. Just like Monarchy is a system of government. As Churchill said, democracy is not a very good system of government, but it’s better than anything else. So my suggested improvement on democracy is to remove the ideology, and rely on the collective intellect of a group of competent people. A group is more probable to get more decisions right over a period of time than an ideology, which must follow it’s nose.

    Universal health care is the civilized norm for all of the free western world, except America, where it is a free market commodity base on an ideology. So people die needlessly. So I would argue that universal health care would pass Congress and the Senate, if judged on the evidence, and no member of either house had any affiliation or ideological bent.

    On socialism and marxism, just to expand my reasons for why it doesn’t work. There are millions of years of evolution hard wired into our brain to restrict our altruism to only near genetic relatives. It’s a brilliant stone age survival strategy. (It does extend to the shaman and the chief and today, that manifests itself as sucking up to the boss but that’s not relevant here.) If our brains are hard wired for very limited altruism, then for us to become altruist and share with the whole world (socialism) then we need to be a species with the intellectual discipline to override our primitive stone age brain and act against our own self interest. As I move around society, II find there are very few people who could do this. Grab a hundred people in Time Square and I would guess you’d get 1 or 2. That’s why socialism fails, because everyone is out for themselves.

    My vote is Green now because of the limited choices available to me on the ballot paper. (compulsory voting in Australia) Generally an environmental policy is more likely to be supported by scientific evidence. I think that the left / right continuum is now a triangle. Green is not left or right. It is on the third apex.



    Report abuse

  • A most uncommon “common” man.

    I was talking to a friend tonight, David. He made a point that scared the hell out of me. If there is another major terrorist attack in the U.S. before the general election, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will be our next president. Then all bets are off. They’ll take us back to the year zero. We might not make it to the 22nd Century. The country will be destroyed, the environmental crisis will become an irreversible disaster, and the already unstable world will become even less stable. All hell is likely to break loose.
    Sad. We humans have made some great strides, as Dawkins said.
    Short of extinction, a Trump or Cruz administration will certainly set us (Americans) and the planet back considerably.



    Report abuse

  • Religion is dangerous and stifling….FULL stop. That is what this site is about. It relies on fact.

    Fact: If you have a nutty religion and you are at war with some of its adherents and; if you have bigger guns than they do and they can’t fight back in the conventional way you will get retaliation in the form of terrorism. If you fight as a country, you will be a target. If you stick your neck out as a small organisation you will become a target within a target.

    That is what facts do to a situation. ‘Cartoons are war crimes”, is being used to fill in gaps here just as in the case of the god of gaps. None of this excuses religion but states facts of tit for tat in a political war controlled by religion. Forget the cartoons. They stuck their heads above the trenches and became a target. It was inevitable. It in no way says that it was right. It does not say anything about excusing religion. People are clumsy when they try to point out this fact but we should be able to see through it here. We condemn religion. We condemn more invasive religion but we stick to facts. We send our sons to war knowing they may get shot.

    Other terrorists exist with their own religious law.
    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-religious-law-threatening-israeli-women-1.400910



    Report abuse

  • Or we could end up with the reverse spiral. Of endlessly eroded freedom of speech. Do I value free speech like a religion?

    Yes I do.

    Because it is healthy and for everyone.

    I will fight for everyone’s clear voice especially that of my enemy.



    Report abuse

  • I need time to digest this article and the comments here, but my first reaction is on balance positive, if only for the reason that the clear distinction has been highlighted between Islam and Islamism; or Muslims and IS, which, conscious or otherwise, deliberate or accidental, cynical or innocent, has always blurred the lines between the two distinctly different things; as has been the conflation, conscious or otherwise, of race and religion.

    First, clearly identify your enemy, and then encourage them out into the clear light of day, and make sure everyone hears their case; then, no one has any excuses for not standing up for reason and freedom.

    Notwithstanding my opening remark, broadly speaking, I think that if the Muslim world had been left to itself historically, it would probably have become far less militant, but as it is, every outside intervention, now makes things worse.

    But, because it’s a human construct comprising unverifiable dogmas and doctrines, I’m probably talking bollocks.



    Report abuse

  • David, as soon as people become convinced that a way has been found to solve the world’s problems, we are in deep doo doo.

    Fuck the solution, I’ll carry on with the problems, thanks all the same.



    Report abuse

  • So my suggested improvement on democracy is to remove the ideology, and rely on the collective intellect of a group of competent people. A group is more probable to get more decisions right over a period of time…

    That would be a meritocracy, which has its “merits” (pun intended), but like any system that involves people, also has its pitfalls.

    Consider this: is it possible to “remove ideology” from human behavior? Would that idea itself not be part of an ideology?



    Report abuse

  • 17
    Pinball1970 says:

    As stimulating as this is, I think you are all getting bogged down with terms and definiitions and missing the point.

    Assuming Kerry actually did say what he said, which was the Chalie Hebdo journalists sort of deserved it but the other Parisians did not, I think we should concentrate on that.

    I am not sure what I am politically, it makes no difference to the argument, it makes no difference to Kerry’s comments either.

    Those journalsits were murdered in cold blood by muslim terrorists and any right minded civilized person should agree with that and be disgusted at Kerry.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Dan, Hi Olgun,

    I disagree, overall I found this an outstanding piece of journalism. Just a couple of points …

    In her new book In Praise of Blasphemy: Why Charlie Hebdo is not Islamophobic, Caroline Fourest wanted to show how much [free expression] ground we have conceded. Instead, the treatment of her work by the publishing industry shows how much has been lost. No Anglo-Saxon publisher would touch it, and only fear can explain the rejection letters.

    Ooh, that last sentence is a bit of a stretch.

    I can think of a lot of reasons why a modern publisher might be against freedom of expression. Chief among them is that freedom of expression undermines their business model (profit), their strategic goal (owning the culture through copyright) and in many cases the favorite hobby of their owners (political propaganda). There are other reasons, publishers are only human after all, but I very much doubt that fear is the top culprit.

    All the cries of “Je suis Charlie” have turned out to be so many lies, as they were always going to be. The murder of Charlie Hebdo’s journalists reinforced the silent determination of every editor and publisher in the West that Charlie was the last thing they were going to be.

    Yes, there was bound to be greater inertia than appeared on the surface. But, this is going too far. Journalists and editors are embedded in the social structure. It is not the job of journalists to lead, it is the politicians’.

    The journalist, Nick Cohen, uses John Kerry, US Secrtary of State, as a stand-out example of the lack of leadership we get. How much of that – also evidenced by the TPP, TISA, TTIP agenda – is to do with corporate power haunting the corridors of power is anybody’s guess. It is clearly a major factor.

    Anti-Muslim bigotry must be fought, as must the denial on the Right that anti-Muslim bigotry even exists. If contemporary culture just asked us to fight it, I would not have a difficulty. Instead, it asks us to bite our tongues and mute our criticism of religious belief or risk being accused of Islamophobia.

    I’ve finally found what I really want for Xmas. A copy of In praise of Blasphemy.

    Happy holidays everyone.

    Peace.



    Report abuse

  • That is what facts do to a situation. ‘Cartoons are war crimes”, is being used to fill in gaps here just as in the case of the god of gaps. None of this excuses religion but states facts of tit for tat in a political war controlled by religion. Forget the cartoons. They stuck their heads above the trenches and became a target.

    Bullshit. They drew satirical cartoons. Not only their job but their right. That is the only fact here.



    Report abuse

  • Debate must never be stopped but it cannot be carried out in the style of Pythons five minute argument. Islamaphobia exists with the stupid. They get fed by the media. The informed take it upon themselves to say it doesn’t exist in them and that is true but some still use the terminology that tells a different story. Explanation is needed from all sides and dismissing each other’s fears on the back of word play gets us nowhere. Strategy is king.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen:

    Communism / socialism always fails because homo sapiens are only altruistic to near genetic relatives. We’re greedy bastards. Capitalism will fail because it breaches one of the founding laws of the universe, “Closed systems have limits.”

    That’s rather sweeping David ! Where in the world has ‘Communism / socialism ‘ failed ? From where I see things there never was any communism / socialism in Russia China, Cuba etc only state capitalism. The workers in those places still worked for ‘socialist’ wages, they lived in poverty, had to fight its wars, and died workers. There was never any common ownership in those places, just state ownership. The state represents the owning class, people like Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch, who as individuals, own billions of dollars worth of capital. I believe both of them to be among the 85 individuals who own as much wealth as 3.5 billion people. Last year’s figures sorry. It’s all moved on now.



    Report abuse

  • I read, as always, each comment, my brain, like a tennis ball, flying back and forth between the players agreeing with each in turn!
    I wonder just how long it will take before our species evolves to recognise religion, powered by political greed, is the strongest poison!
    I will be long gone before humanity lives peacefully together on this and possibly many other worlds!
    If we don’t expire, disastrously, before getting much further!



    Report abuse

  • Fuck the solution, I’ll carry on with the problems, thanks all the same.

    Just another utopian dream hey Staff. I like President Kennedy on this.

    There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

    Or that other bastardized quote. “I will not go quietly into this dark night.”

    So forgive me for dreaming of a better world.



    Report abuse

  • @ Olgun

    And the job carries a health warning. That my friend is the fact.

    Utter bullshit. Only the insane would think such cartoons could engender “health warnings.” The fact of the matter is that too large of a percentage of Islamist are insane. And it takes a real big dose of insanity to kill satirical cartoonists. These people are drawing cartoons, not bombing wedding parties and to think that the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo “stuck their heads above the trenches and became a target” could never be said by any of my friends.

    P.S. Blocking comments? How is that done?



    Report abuse

  • Consider this: is it possible to “remove ideology” from human behavior? Would that idea itself not be part of an ideology?

    Doug. A quick definition off the web for Ideology.

    A system of beliefs or theories, usually political, held by an individual or a group. Capitalism, communism, and socialism are usually called ideologies.

    Beliefs or theories? To hold a belief or theory that has no supporting evidence is called faith. Religion is an example. To hold a belief or theory across a wide range or subjects such as those contained in capitalism, some of which may have evidentiary support, and some that don’t, is flawed. One mistakes in an equation means the result will always be in error.

    Can making decisions based on prevailing evidence be considered an ideology? Or is commonsense. Is it an ideal to be strived for? As I said to Dan, when it comes down to teasing out meanings and philosophy, I’m out of my depth. Like shooting fish in a barrel. I would say that using evidence to support decisions is not an ideology. But what would I know. I’m from the southern hemisphere.



    Report abuse

  • That’s rather sweeping David…

    Chief Broom Broom. That’s me. It’s a much longer argument than is possible to present in a discussion forum like this and get people to read.

    I know there has never been a communist state. I would still argue that even if there was, it would still fail for the same reasons you detail for the failure in Russia, China or Cuba. As an aside in other forums, I often ask the rabid right wing American contributors to name a communist country. They rattle off Russia, China et al, but it is easy to prove that they aren’t communist.

    I guess the inspiration for my point is that we Homo Sapiens have a fatal flaw. We are the product of millions of years of evolution. One of the traits that made us successful is our selfishness. If I am too greedy and share with no one, less of my genes will be passed on. If I am too generous and may genes don’t get passed on, but someone elses do, then I’ve failed again. The dial for altruism has been finally tuned by evolution. You need to be altruistic with those near genetic relatives to maximize the chances of your genes being passed on. Thus in our species, we have this altruism which during our stone age hunter gather phase was a very successful strategy.

    Today we still have that some evolutionary imprint but instead of being a brilliant survival strategy, it’s now a lethal trait that is likely to wipe us out. Tragedy of the Commons is an example of the failure of our altruistic trait in the modern world. If 9-12 billion people are to survive for the next thousand years, we have to change our primitive outlook to one that will give us a chance. But the vast masses of humanity cannot change because the necessary intellectual arguments are meaningless. The West or the third world. We will scam all we can for ourselves, and our near genetic relatives and to hell with the rest of you, which is probably where we are going.

    The irony is that evolution got us here, and the same evolution is going to wipe us out.



    Report abuse

  • I don’t know whether you don’t understand or are refusing to Neo. I agree there is a big dose of insanity and that is the danger. It is a brave person who sticks their neck out but in doing so they are in danger. I give no excuse for the insanity but acknowledge the danger. It’s war, people get killed I give them every right to do what they do but to be surprised by the result is stupid. We fell disgust but not surprise.

    Ps. There is no blocking. If you wanted to reply under my post them you have to hit your previous post reply button.



    Report abuse

  • Beliefs or theories? To hold a belief or theory that has no supporting
    evidence is called faith.

    Political theories, that is, thinking up the best, most fair and humane ways of organizing societies, do not result in “theories” that you are obliged to prove a priori by evidence; the evidence, the test of their efficacy, is revealed over time – and adaptions and alterations, adjustments are made: do they, will they, work? That is the question. That cannot be decided beforehand. Artists use theories. Musicians use theories. Are these ideologies? You are conflating political ideologies – and socialism runs the gamut of ideologies – with something that they need not be. They (ideologies) are not necessarily dogmatic and fixed, not a rigid set of rules. This is a very narrow and parochial conception of the way political philosophical theories function, and they do indeed form the basis of all of our systems of government – for better or worse! To say that fascism and communism are equally pernicious because they are both ideologies is just wrong. It is almost a form of intellectual pollution, although I know you mean well.
    Finally, anarchy or what Hobbes called a state of nature, is still an ideology. Any theory about what someone or some group conceives of (rightly or wrongly) as a “good” way of organizing society (even if that means no organization at all), anything that is thought about and written down or presented in conceptual terms, is, or can be, called ideological.



    Report abuse

  • Stafford, there are ways to solve a great many problems. I would be deeply suspicious of anyone who claimed to have the answers to all our problems too. That’s a no-brainer.



    Report abuse

  • Hi, David.

    To hold a belief or theory that has no supporting evidence is called faith. Religion is an example.

    Ideology. (The kind you don’t like.)

    To hold a belief or theory across a wide range or subjects such as those contained in capitalism, some of which may have evidentiary support, and some that don’t, is flawed. One mistakes in an equation means the result will always be in error.

    Ideology. (The kind you may or may not like.)

    Can making decisions based on prevailing evidence be considered an ideology?

    The basis is the ideology.

    Or is commonsense.

    The belief in commonsense as a solution to life’s problems is an ideology.

    Is it an ideal to be strived for?

    Sure.

    I would say that using evidence to support decisions is not an ideology.

    It’s behavior based on the ideology of science.

    But what would I know. I’m from the southern hemisphere.

    How do you keep the blood from rushing to your head!?



    Report abuse

  • I was surprised, shocked even. I expect the cartoonists were surprised when they were attacked also – targets of their satire included the French government, the major religions and the far right but I doubt they ever really thought that it was very likely they would be murdered. I remember advocating that the media all re-publish the cartoons, to show the terrorists that they can’t win. Don’t you feel just a little bit worried that you were not surprised by these murders?

    What about all those people killed at the concert in Paris. Apparently, ISIS said they were idolaters gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice. But they were just youngsters enjoying a night out, not that prostitution and vice would be any justification for what happened to them. Did they stick their heads above the trenches? Were you at least surprised by these murders?



    Report abuse

  • Dan,
    Don’t worry about the Lieberman thing. I was laughing when I read that. He’s at the top of the heap over there at Harvard and I don’t think he’s in any way threatened by this. I’ve read two of his books, Evolution of the Human Head and his new one The Story of the Human Body. I really enjoyed both of them. He has made me think about many interesting ideas having to do with evolutionary mismatches.

    Speaking of Trump – the guy who really is a total blow hard, did you hear this latest inappropriate remark? He said that Obama shlonged Hillary in the election. Then the Republican talking heads try to make it seem like there is no meaning whatsoever in that phrase. This is bizarre.



    Report abuse

  • I expect the cartoonists were surprised when they were attacked also

    There is no way that the cartoonists were surprised by the attack. I was not surprised either but I was certainly totally disgusted. They had been in court battles over their work and had been firebombed in 2011.

    From Wiki
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Hebdo

    In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammad, some of which featured nude caricatures of him.[43][44] Given that this issue came days after a series of attacks on US embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centres, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries.[45] In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect it against possible attacks.[44][46][47]
    Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine’s decision, saying, “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?”[48] The US White House said “a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this.”[49] However, the newspaper’s editor defended publication of the cartoons, saying, “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.”[50][51]

    x

    I doubt they ever really thought that it was very likely they would be murdered.

    I’m sorry, but this is very naive.



    Report abuse

  • When I tried to buy the Ebook In Praise of Blasphemy, I was told it was only available to UK buyers. I was supposed to go to the US Amazon site. It is not listed there.

    I couldn’t help laughing at the verbal gymnastics used here to defend communism/socialism. I was so reminded of the tired old Christian reply, “But that’s not my kind of Christianity…” We had “real existing socialism” in the former German “Democratic” Republic. They said so. If ever socialism had a chance to succeed, it should have done so in East Germany. Anyone who thinks they could do it better is engaging in a lot of hubris.



    Report abuse

  • Doug,

    I would say things a little differently to David but agree entirely with his sentiments. Ideologies that have a dogmatic set of facts( e.g. any narrative that has a dogmatic set of facts about the nature of the world) are to be noted only for reference. Having great confidence in processes that presuppose no facts but that have the better track record compared to any other single process doing the same thing is not an ideology. Science is a re-inventing process of greater and greater demonstrable confidence generation. Claiming it an ideology is to miss its necessary mutability of form, demanding increasingly more in its process from observation then logical contemplation then experiment then corroborated experiment then extrapolation and testing of new hypotheses, then modeling with mathematics and accounts of error expectations then hypotheses formed for disproof and elimination by disproof. This is like no ideology I’ve ever encountered. Its product is gleefully destroyed again and again.

    Processes aren’t facts. Another useful process I cleave to is democracy. I’m pretty sure if it delivers a consensus or compromise decision this might deliver a fairer outcome, though my confidence in this is open to evidence.

    Is my concern for fairness and mitigating harms an ideology?

    No, it just reflects my moral compass as bequeathed by my genes and early upbringing. We are moral beasts on some quasi political template as described by Jonathan Haidt. Left leaning moralists give concern over harms and fairness and right wingers dilute these two concerns to add room for concerns of loyalty, subjection to authority and concerns for purity people and institutions (conservatism).

    This predisposition is not really biddable though it may change through life.

    It is our task in realpolitik to understand these things of ourselves and each other and the proven reliability and otherwise of various process, place zero store on untested facts and head for better. Ideal is incoherent given our ever changing values and needs. The politics of the 1890s was singularly ill-equipped for 125 years later.



    Report abuse

  • Is my concern for fairness and mitigating harms an ideology?

    Presumably your “concern” is based on certain beliefs about the world. If you believe fairness and mitigation of harms is good, and this causes concern for yourself and others and guides your behavior (and you think it should be a cause of concern for and guide the behavior of others), then I think we have the basis of an ideology – in the sense of a set of beliefs governing conduct, which is the meaning of the word that makes the most sense to me. I suppose we could call it “humanism”.

    I probably should not have used the phase “ideology of science”. I should have said “ideology of secular humanism (or similar) based on scientific findings”.

    Ideal is incoherent given our ever changing values and needs. The politics of the 1890s was singularly ill-equipped for 125 years later.

    I find it difficult to agree with this statement. I would tend to agree that there may not be “universal ideals”, but this does not mean there are not “transient” ideals (there’s probably a better word out there, but it’s not coming to me) – in the sense of the “best way” which applies at particular times/places. The politics of the 1890s may be inappropriate for today, but it was probably closer to “ideal” in the 1890s, which ideal would not match today’s.



    Report abuse

  • LaurieB Dec 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    HI, Laurie,
    I’ve never heard the word “schlong” used as a verb. Very inventive. Seriously, that is one hell of a comment. Awful.
    If there is another terrorist attack here, before the general election, that schmuck Trump (or Cruz) will be our next president.
    I will move to England and move in w/ Phil Rimmer. (Kidding.)
    I am worried. (Not kidding.)
    Laurie (or whoever else might be interested), here’s something fascinating: Jonathan Miller (a true Renaissance man) and Dawkins talking about “Life after Darwin”, the future of humanity. Check it out. It has two parts. You’ll love this (and it’s my way of making an amends for my harsh comments about the Harvard guy). Bye-bye for now, Lauwie…er, sorry.—DR

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0pgUBKxoZ0



    Report abuse

  • “ideology of secular humanism (or similar) based on scientific findings”.

    If the decision you make starts from a blank slate, assesses the “Scientific Findings” which have no ideology and don’t care what you think, then surely you can find no ideology in this scenario.



    Report abuse

  • The ‘rules’ of evolution say we must try and try again until success. All it needs is the right environment. Dog eat dog might not be the everlasting condition for survival as it was in the past.



    Report abuse

  • Presumably your “concern” is based on certain beliefs about the world.

    No. This is all pre-belief. This is just how you, at base, naturally feel about certain situations. This is why I say these are unbiddable. Jonathan Haidt “The Righteous Mind” has an excellent account of how these constitute a characteristic, a set of characteristics you are pretty much stuck with. Anxious folk may have a tendency to the five characteristic inclinations of right wing folk, etc..

    My values are currently mostly humanist in appearance. I never describe myself as a humanist because I don’t want to trap myself into having moral positions I have not thought through for myself. This moral position thing (for both right a left leaning folk) is a full time day job that too many short circuit with an idealistic badge.



    Report abuse

  • Dross is one thing but reacted badly to this classist shit. Didn’t want to know his particular argument after that. Still haven’t read it but discussing this issue on its own merit and others comments.



    Report abuse

  • The cartoonists were hardly likely to have been surprised by the attacks; they must have known the dangers otherwise what was the point of the satire?

    The problem is a cultural one, in that we’ve benefited from the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and other movements, and they have not; it may have been an historical accident, but I think it’s central to the problem.

    How would Hogarth, Rabelais and others of their ilk have faired if they’d been under the cosh like the Danish and French cartoonists have been?

    I submit that they would have stood their ground too.

    Those who’ve had the misfortune to have had religious dogmas inflicted upon them from birth are not likely to take kindly to having them mocked.

    Can anyone here cite a joke in a holy book?

    No sense of humour; that’s the problem.



    Report abuse

  • Thanks a lot for The Life After Darwin video, Dan; it’s long been one of my favourites.

    If only religious cultures, principally Islam, could unclench sufficiently to let their children benefit from this fundamental knowledge about who they really are and the World they live in.



    Report abuse

  • If the decision you make starts from a blank slate, assesses the “Scientific Findings” which have no ideology and don’t care what you think, then surely you can find no ideology in this scenario.

    There is no such thing as “blank slate” when it comes to humans (unless you’re referring to severely malfunctioning brains, but I don’t think you are). In order to make the choice (from among many available alternative approaches to decision making) to “assess the scientific findings”, one has to have come to the belief that this is the right approach (best way). That’s the ideology.



    Report abuse

  • This is all pre-belief. This is just how you, at base, naturally feel about certain situations.

    There may be pre-belief factors at play, but all they do is affect the eventual belief, which is required before decisions can be made.

    This is why I say these are unbiddable. Jonathan Haidt “The Righteous Mind” has an excellent account of how these constitute a characteristic, a set of characteristics you are pretty much stuck with.

    Sounds like Jung and Meyers-Briggs.
    http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

    I’m sure there is truth here, but it doesn’t change the fact that belief drives decision.

    I never describe myself as a humanist because I don’t want to trap myself into having moral positions I have not thought through for myself.

    Perhaps when it comes to labels what matters more is how others describe you.

    …a full time day job…

    Based on what I’ve seen here and elsewhere, you’re there.



    Report abuse

  • Jung is not what I or Haidt intends at all….I think.

    Perhaps when it comes to labels what matters more is how others describe you.

    No. Its entirely, entirely how you think of yourself. Others will nearly always be wrong about you. It is about increasing the scope of your freedom to choose. Labeling yourself is mostly a way of thwarting the choices of your future self.



    Report abuse

  • No. Its entirely, entirely how you think of yourself.

    Entirely!? Are you an island? What good is how you think of yourself if it doesn’t eventually translate into how others think of you (social animal that you are)?

    Labeling yourself is mostly a way of thwarting the choices of your future self.

    By claiming the choice not to label yourself, you’ve still labeled yourself. (You don’t have to say it – it’s written in your behavior.) With that label, what choices are you thwarting for your future self?



    Report abuse

  • You are taking the purity of what [David] said, added the baggage of centuries and called it belief. The blank slate, whether from scratch or after it has shed its baggage and gone back to basics, is the logic, belief being the baggage.

    The “baggage” is added by every human mind, whether it was centuries ago or just in the last few seconds. “Logic”, without “baggage”, is just a tool sitting in a tool case.



    Report abuse

  • Why the far-left support islamists is a mystery, I do not think they even know themselves. Rather than bombing ISIS we should be using our resources to stop refugees entering Europe and in returning the Muslims that are already in our countries to Muslim countries, this is the only way that we can protect ourselves from islamic terror. The British government is unlikely to decapitate LSE students, the followers of Mohammed that live in Britain are very likely to kill those that are perceived to have insulted Islam. Could it be that the leftists and feminists are cowards and terrified of the Islamists. Any rational person is afraid of Islam but some of us speak out against it, against the wrong-doing done in the name of Allah. We are not particularly brave, but we refuse to be silent. And we are not racists, we do not condemn people because they have dark skin, we condemn them because they follow an evil creed. It is mostly Western imperialists and Americans that have built the modern world and enabled democracy and freedom, the socialists and now the islamists do not believe in freedom and democracy or nations, borders and private property. Their theories and beliefs are not economically viable, all they want to do is to control every aspect of the individuals lives and wipe out any differences. They stand for the stagnant and retrogressive society, that only generates conflict, inefficiency and poverty. We need to become rational and realistic, and we do need an economic system based on capitalism. The wishes of individual populations have to be respected and highflying theories of morality not forced upon them. Most people just want a quiet and comfortable life free from fear.



    Report abuse

  • Olgun, of course, you’re right, facts are what matter, and they abound, are verifiable and falsifiable – which is what makes them FACTS! (Sorry, didn’t mean to shout).

    They are also sometimes difficult to face up to, and new buggers keep being discovered all the time; but, be not afraid, religion is here to protect you from reality.

    Get religion, and you can get round facts! From which it follows that facts aren’t the problem.

    And boy, do we have a problem.



    Report abuse

  • Doug. My point is that what is concerning about ideological labeling is how you think of yourself. That is what I intend by entirely…entirely my point.

    Being intolerant of intolerance is not a paradox, for instance. Nor choosing the process of skepticism over dogmatic, ideological facts. I am failing to convey to you the difference between facts and self demonstrating processes.



    Report abuse

  • Olgun
    Dec 23, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    First Muslims to move to the UK in significant numbers was in the 18 centurary…….

    A lot came because of colonial, tribalistic and racist issues in the old empire.

    My (atheist) brother’s partner is a Muslim. Her family came to the UK as (“coloured”) British citizens of India, when they left ex-colonial South Africa, because of apartheid, and persecution by both white and black racists!



    Report abuse

  • Oh and ‘your’. You’re. Being hard on myself today. Why hasn’t MSG been banned in UK yet? Bloody Chinese yesterday was covered in it. Feel
    Like I’ve been hit by a truck today.



    Report abuse

  • Philip

    Could it be that the leftists and feminists are cowards and terrified of the Islamists

    I have been absolutely mystified by the feminists who support Islamic fundamentalism. As a second wave feminist this situation blind sided me. Never saw that coming. Some thoughts on this from my observations are all I can offer here.

    Is it mostly younger third wave feminists who are doing this? Lately we had an article that showed young women on college campuses supporting fundamentalists against Maryam Namazie. I don’t know if we have a generation divide between the second and the third wavers that is significant here or not. When I first noticed that this was the case I heard some women stating that Muslim women have the right to wear their own traditional clothing because that’s their own culture and we of the “West” have no right to impose our own culture on them. It’s their culture and all of that is good and valid. This is cultural relativism.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism

    I remember when this material was presented to me in college classes in the 1980’s. At that time, with no connection whatsoever to any ethnic group and having no travel experience to draw on, the idea of cultural relativism seemed like a fantastic improvement over anything I had been brought up in. It seemed to be kind and inclusive to me then. It was only after spending three years living in North Africa that I came to the conclusion that cultural relativism was the opposite of kind. It trapped women, children, men and animals into tight little boxes that they couldn’t get out of. Even worse, they didn’t realize that they were in those boxes, never knew that there was anything different or even what to demand if they had the opportunity to do so. That’s where cultural relativism ended for me.

    So at this point, I think that if it is a problem of our younger third wave feminists supporting vociferously, cultural relativism that holds our Muslim women in increasingly worse oppression and slavery, I say we have a problem of education on our hands. We can’t take all the third wavers on a field trip into the third world but something must be done to educate them as to what is is that they are actually supporting here. (We have Maryam Namazie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali just off the top of my head and there is definitely a nascent Muslim feminists movement trying to hold their ground, very bravely.)

    The Western feminists aren’t necessarily evil but they come across as extremely naive and gullible to the suggestion that Islamists want hejabs, burkas, etc because they respect women and don’t want men to use them as sex objects. Western feminists also may believe that Muslim women want to wear those and are being attacked for doing so and while those women are on our turf it is our responsibility to defend them. They are oblivious to the high pressure that is forcing many Muslim women to wear these items. This is heinous thinking but I can see clearly that it’s very effective as a tactic.

    Can you see how these feminists and these Islamists have a common goal? Respect for women, but they have very different definitions of respect and the means to reach the goal are very different indeed. Both movements intersect at the phrase respect for women, after that everything goes all to hell.



    Report abuse

  • I have long enjoyed reading Nic Cohen’s essays. My only issue with him on this one is how he came to designate any American government official as “Liberal”. All these people are far to the right of the British Conservative Party and no one would dream of calling the likes of Cameron, Osbourne or the awful Iain Duncan-Smith “Liberal”
    The problem is: If you wish to deny calling yourself a “Liberal” what term should you use? Is there any political nomenclature that is accurate and non-prejudicial. Nic should tell us what is the correct political designation for someone opposing the insane excesses of islam and then we should ask ourselves if we are happy to be labelled that.
    Any offers?



    Report abuse

  • You’re quite welcome, Stafford. I love both Miller and Dawkins.
    I have grown increasingly concerned, and am troubled by the fact, that certain feelings and behaviors that you and I take almost for granted – the all-important feelings of empathy and kindness, and more precisely and to the point, the unwillingness to engage in cruel acts – can be easily lost; people get swept up; ordinary people, as Miller said, who live side by side with their neighbors, suddenly feel no compunction, but feel it is their duty, to murder and torture these people.
    I like to flatter myself, as it were, and tell myself that I would never kill in any situation where it was a situation in which I would be acting on the part of the state or an institution, and there is a good chance that I wouldn’t – but what we call moral feeling seems to be founded on the shambles. Morality is a most flimsy thing, or so it would seem.
    I don’t understand the horror expressed here of the word ideology. I tried to explain why the word itself need imply something fixed or restrictive or destructive. Pacifism is an ideological principle based on the belief that any form of social constraint of others or an violent act is in itself wrong and that to use violence to end violence is logically self-contradictory. This might be rigid and inhibiting, but one can then choose to call oneself a non-violent person who might occasionally commit acts of violence in order to prevent greater suffering, et cetera…
    My point is that we have to call ourselves something, don’t we? The labels are just sounds, concepts. (Perhaps this all comes from the nihilist and radical thinker Wittgenstein.) Perhaps I failed to express myself adequately – or perhaps it wasn’t read.
    Anyway, take care. Talk to you soon. Best Wishes. —DR



    Report abuse

  • they must have known the dangers otherwise what was the point of the satire?

    The point was to express their atheist, left wing, anti-racist viewpoint by satirising religion and the extreme right (among others). They would be aware this could be dangerous but probably didn’t really expect it to be fatal.

    Yes, their office was firebombed in 2011 but the attack was overnight and nobody was injured. That, and the above Wiki reference to the attacks on US embassies abroad, does not mean they would be unsurprised to have their office attacked by heavily armed gunmen and a dozen staff murdered. A cartoon by Charb not long before the attack was titled “Still no attacks in France” – perhaps misplaced confidence that this sort of thing couldn’t happen in Paris.

    Still no attacks in France



    Report abuse

  • I am failing to convey to you the difference between facts and self demonstrating processes.

    Perhaps you have failed, or perhaps it’s I who have failed.

    There will be other opportunities to succeed.



    Report abuse

  • My only issue with him on this one is how he came to designate any American government official as “Liberal”. All these people are far to the right of the British Conservative Party..

    From the land down under, I am always confused by this. The American Democrats roughly line up with our right wing conservative party who are ironically are called The Liberal Party. The only equivalent in Australia for the Republicans are a few very minor way right parties who get less than 1% of the vote.

    I’ve often pondered this and queried with American discussion forum people over the years but I can’t come up with a definitive answer.

    This is my take. Since WW2, the rest of the world’s western free market democracies have been like a series of long trains, all taking tracks that are roughly parallel. The American train has gotten lost turning to the right down a long dead end siding. The train is now climbing a very steep hill of credibility and still inches forward, when as a national, America should put the train into reverse and rejoin the main civilized line.

    I again speculate that after America’s victory in WW2, they did not need to tip their hat to anyone. They have ignored the rest of the world. “How can anyone except us know the true path into the future. We won the war, didn’t we.” Communism became the “Evil Empire” of the day. Now America is frozen in time still fighting the cold war, becoming increasing irrational and wanting to bomb anyone they tag as an Evil Empire. It is fascinating, curious, interesting and also very disturbing. Especially when you listen to any of the Republican presidential candidates. In Australia, everyone of them would be the subject of ridicule and scorn, even from our right wing media. But America, lost in this far right railway siding, are applauding. Terrifying actually.

    Universal health care is now a civilized norm, not communism.



    Report abuse

  • A cartoon by Charb not long before the attack was titled “Still no
    attacks in France” – perhaps misplaced confidence that this sort of
    thing couldn’t happen in Paris.

    Or the admission that their actions were indeed dangerous?



    Report abuse

  • There is one thing stronger than religion in America David and I know because the same thing can be said of Turkey who only just comes second…The flag. You cannot be seen to go left of the flag which only leaves the right and then further right and…….



    Report abuse

  • Sad and dangerous primitive stone age tribalism wrapped in a flag. They should move all of the governments of the world to the moon, so all they see is this small blue orb of planet earth in the blackness of space and realized that Homo Sapiens are one tribe.



    Report abuse

  • Why do discussions in this forum often descend into split infinitives over the obscure meaning of words and little side tracks. “I’m a big ideas man, Chuck” (Movie – Night shift) Big picture ideas.

    My revelation on the road to insanity was that ideologies (big picture) are not reliable decision making paragigms, because they are reverse engineered. Start with a thought. Try to spin evidence in support of that thought. Then paste it onto the world. Then even if it is not working, persist saying to oneself, “Things are just going swimmingly”. Delusional.

    The reverse should be the model. What does the evidence say. Follow the evidence. If a retired flat foot like me can work out obvious failings in both capitalism (Big Picture) and socialism (Big Picture) why are we still locked into Left / Right arguments. Why are one side sending down a serve of text book allegations with the other side returning serve with an anti matter set of text book allegations.

    Hence my call to abandon ideologies as a method of decision making. Just as we call for religions to be separated from the town square as a source of government, I would make the call that ideologies are similarly unreliable, and so too should be practiced by consenting adults in private.



    Report abuse

  • This is from an article my late father wrote in 2002 about the similarities and differences between Antonio Gramsci and the Trinidadian political thinker C.L.R. James. I hope it adds some weight to my objection to the dismissal of Marxism as an “ideology.” Btw, my father was one of the world’s leading experts on Gramsci and James.

    “From the late 1980s to the present, one of the most intriguing aspects of C.L.R. James studies has been the frequency with which various authors have compared James with Antonio Gramsci. Some of the reasons for this are fairly obvious, others much less so. In any event, it occurred to me that readers of the IGS Newsletter might welcome a brief review of writing on James in which Gramscian terms and concepts play an important role. But before doing that, let me indicate a few of the themes in relation to which parallels and similarities between Gramsci and James are especially noteworthy.

    “First of all, organicist imagery is pervasive in the writings of both men. They both sought to integrate it into their understanding of Marxism as an integral, comprehensive conception of the world. They were both disturbed by the tendency of many self-styled Marxists to apply Marxist theory in a mechanistic manner, which accounts in part for their frequent recourse to the word “organic.” Marxism for Gramsci and James was not a closed, static system unaffected by change. They believed that Marxism, like all bodies of thought rooted in human experience, must constantly renew itself, must draw from other currents of thought in order to remain relevant and viable. As a result of this premise, they were able in large measure to avoid the dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism. [highlighted by me] Neither felt constrained to reject automatically insights into historical, political and cultural problems merely because they did not conform to an established set of canonical doctrines and texts.[…]”



    Report abuse

  • …so all they see is this small blue orb of planet earth in the blackness of space and realized that Homo Sapiens are one tribe.

    The only way we will be able to see all humans as one “tribe” is if all humanity is threatened by some “other” that requires us to act as one to survive.



    Report abuse

  • I can remember a Twilight Zone TV episode in the early 60’s that did just that. They (??) fabricated a threat from outer space and the whole world united and stood shoulder to shoulder.

    The world also united and acted within 5 years on the treaty to ban CFC’s to stop the ozone hole from growing. I can’t understand why we don’t do the same thing with global warming. This “requires us to act as one to survive.” Deep sigh.



    Report abuse

  • Why do discussions in this forum often descend into split infinitives over the obscure meaning of words and little side tracks.

    Meanings of words matter. In any discussion, it’s important to be sure that definitions are clearly stated. An ideology is a system of ideas or ideals. If that isn’t your understanding of the meaning, then perhaps that should be worked out first.

    My revelation on the road to insanity was that ideologies (big picture) are not reliable decision making paragigms, because they are reverse engineered. Start with a thought. Try to spin evidence in support of that thought. Then paste it onto the world. Then even if it is not working, persist saying to oneself, “Things are just going swimmingly”. Delusional.

    This is not an accurate, current definition of ideology. Not all ideologies are “reverse engineered” in the way you describe.

    Hence my call to abandon ideologies as a method of decision making.

    As I suggested earlier, this is an ideological statement, and it effectively defeats itself. “I have an idea: let’s ban ideas!” “Here’s my new system of ideas that will produce better decisions: systems of ideas should not be used to make decisions.”

    There are good systems of ideas or ideals. Some ideologies are better than others. Some are clearly bad. Identify the specific bad ones and by all means rail against them. Identify the specific good ones and by all means work to convince others that they are good.



    Report abuse

  • Some are clearly bad. Identify the specific bad ones and by all means rail against them.

    Capitalism and Socialism.

    p.s. I was just trying to have a “Big Picture” discussion on the issue without having to do a word by word definition arms race. I did that for 30 years in the law. I’m over it.



    Report abuse

  • I can’t understand why we don’t do the same thing with global warming.

    It has to do with belief. As yet, for the “average man on the street”, the threat is too vague and distant. It needs to be imminent (or worse).



    Report abuse

  • Capitalism and Socialism

    Now, before railing may commence, those need to be clearly defined. They mean different things to different people, and there are subtle variations of each.

    big picture

    As I’ve stated elsewhere, the “big picture” is made up of smaller pictures, which consist of still smaller pictures. (And this ignores the layers that accumulate in the third dimension.) If we don’t discuss, understand, and attempt to resolve the smaller parts, what hope do we have of understanding and solving the problems in the big picture?



    Report abuse

  • If we don’t discuss, understand, and attempt to resolve the smaller parts, what hope do we have of understanding and solving the problems in the big picture?

    You don’t work in the public service by any chance.



    Report abuse

  • Hi, Doug,

    I have made similar points on this thread (and elsewhere) to the ones you have been making.
    “Socialism. What do we mean when we use the word?” That’s what I asked in one of my comments. I don’t want to advertise myself, as it were, but you might want to check out my comments. There are several, I think. David, who seems like a very fine man, someone very knowledgeable, has, unfortunately, a very simplistic understanding of socialism and of the concept of ideology.
    (David is also one of the best online debaters of all times.)



    Report abuse

  • Don’t despair David. I think it’s a cultural divide, whereby everything from a yawn to a wart becomes ideological, which is probably why they need guns so desperately.

    You make perfect sense I reckon, and I agree completely.



    Report abuse

  • Even if the “3rd wave feminists”, can somehow tell themselves a burka is just a quaint choice of garment without any context attached to it, what do they tell themselves about child brides and female circumcisions?

    But a burka isn’t just a quaint choice of garment. Whether they say they want to or not, Muslim women in conservative cultures/families have no choice but to wear them – they face ostracism or worse if they don’t.

    Leaving that aside, if it’s okay under cultural relativism for women to wear burkas if they want to over here, why isn’t it okay for women to wear T-shirts and shorts in Riyadh, if they want to?

    No, over here, we have to respect their culture and allow them their cultural practices.
    But over there, we have to respect their culture and leave our cultural practices behind.

    What fools they are, if they can’t see the asymmetry. What hypocrites they are, if they can.



    Report abuse

  • What’s up, Len?
    I understand exactly what David is saying; why lock ourselves in? I was making the point (among others) that capitalism and socialism are equally pernicious, or that communism and fascism are equally despotic, because they are both ideologies, is as wrong as it is simplistic.
    There is nothing wrong per se with an ideology, as I tried to explain.
    And one can be a left-conservative, btw. But historically, in the U.S., if you support the idea of a safety net then you are a “liberal” on that issue, at the very least.
    We should not be slaves of names as Jack London said (in The Iron Heel) but neither should we be afraid to call ourselves progressives or liberals or secularists (and secularism is an ideology) or leftists – for fear of being labelled or locked in, restricted…
    I don’t wish to repeat myself yet again. Just one observation: people who refuse to call themselves anything, who think they are above all terms or labels or ideologies, are often the most reactionary people I’ve ever met. They are usually “independents”
    The independents are usually libertarians. They may not use the words but that’s what they are – a bunch of twisted savages advocating (implicitly) corporate tyranny under the guise of being above politics and above social systems.
    This does NOT apply to anyone on this site, but I am, in general, suspicious of those who refuse to identify themselves with, or even express sympathy for, any political ideologies or movements or traditions at all. No preferences? no affinities? Why not?
    Democracy is absolutely an ideology, a system of ideas and ideals. It isn’t “natural.”
    I understand the negative connotation of the word “ideology.” I get it.



    Report abuse

  • Damn it. I didn’t have time to make corrections! One of my sentences was rendered meaningless.

    Sentence:
    I was making the point (among others) that capitalism and socialism are equally pernicious, or that communism and fascism are equally despotic, because they are both ideologies, is as wrong as it is simplistic.

    Corrected sentence:
    I was making the point (among others) that to argue that capitalism and socialism are equally pernicious, or that communism and fascism are equally despotic, because they are both ideologies, is as wrong as it is simplistic.



    Report abuse

  • Dan.

    David, …., unfortunately, a very simplistic understanding of socialism and of the concept of ideology.

    What should I be asking people to discuss. As I said, philosophy and fine nuances of meaning are lost on me. I try to think in Big Picture wide screen mode. Generalities. I know that capitalism (Broadest street level understanding of the word.) fails because you can’t grow forever in a closed system. Just impossible.

    I know that socialism (Broadest… etc) fails because that requires self sacrifice and we homo sapiens are just plain selfish. Hence I suggest that making each and every decision based on reasoned evidence would be a better model. I can’t understand how the results of an experiment can be see as an ideology. The data either does, or doesn’t support your view.

    How should I frame my question or my ideas so the discussion doesn’t disappear down a myriad of incomprehensible (for me) rabbit holes.



    Report abuse

  • Wow. I have tried to struggle my way through the verbosity in this thread but got horribly bogged down in the seemingly endless debate about what constitutes an ideology and what doesn’t and somewhat gave up.

    A major point seems to be being missed. The reason for these mealy mouthed comments from politicians including Kerry about ISIS and terror attacks in general is the over riding fear of being seen to be attacking the concept of religion. If politicians openly blame Islam for terrorist attacks then it opens the floodgates for people asking them what’s so different about their own particular brand of woo and then Christianity comes under scrutiny too.

    Christianity has committed as many atrocities, if not more, than Islam in its long and bloody lifetime and to my own mind all we’re seeing at the moment is two equally rabid dogs squabbling over a rancid bone as they did during the Crusades. The proponents on both sides are equally unwilling to blame their religion, or even the other side’s religion, for the troubles so everyone who does something nasty has to be a “terrorist” even when they’re openly committing their acts in the name of their invisible sky pixie.

    We cannot expect politicians to have the courage to say it like it really is, that religion is at the root of these troubles, because politicians, especially American ones, are essentially mirrors of and panderers to their base. It’s pretty much a death sentence in American politics to admit to being non religious even though many of them must be just by the law of averages. So they lie and pretend to be religious and live in fear of attacking any part of it.

    When the base changes then so will politicians. As more people openly proclaim themselves to be atheist then it will cease to carry a stigma in politics.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Dan,

    Yes, I did read some of your comments and noticed (and appreciated) the similarities. I often do agree with what you say (when I am able to understand what you mean); the fact that I don’t comment usually means I don’t disagree (or maybe I don’t understand, or maybe I didn’t read).

    😉



    Report abuse

  • I try to think in Big Picture wide screen mode.

    There’s a current TV advertisement that starts with battle scenes from Star Wars and then quickly zooms and pans away from that “galaxy far far away” and ends with a view of a stylish couple gazing through their comfy luxury automobile’s “moonroof” up at the starry night sky as one remarks on how “peaceful it is up there”.

    The further away you stand, the less you will understand.

    I suggest that making each and every decision based on reasoned evidence would be a better model. I can’t understand how the results of an experiment can be see as an ideology.

    It’s not the experimental results, it’s the idea behind your suggestion that makes it an ideology. Being an ideology does not invalidate it. The results of employing it in society will be the test. As you say:

    The data either does, or doesn’t support your view.



    Report abuse

  • -meh, the “translation” is bullshit. It’s pure spin.

    For fun try interpreting Kerry’s statement so that it conveys exactly the opposite of what this guy claims. Imagine instead that his audience would love it. It’s not difficult. : /



    Report abuse

  • 98
    Pinball1970 says:

    Wow. I have tried to struggle my way through the verbosity in this thread but got horribly bogged down in the seemingly endless debate about what constitutes an ideology and what doesn’t and somewhat gave up.

    My thoughts exactly
    After reading this thread I have no idea what socialism or leftism is, what constitutes an ideology and I have a feeling I will not be totally in Noam Chomsky’s camp but I dont really care.
    What I am sure about is that muslims killed those journalists and Kerry has indicated they deserved it, had it coming.
    Islam, muslims the religion of Islam and the Koran that damn poisonous book.
    The same book that is poisoning minds of young children in the UK and now being force fed in the national curriculum in Turkey whether the parents like it or not (another thread on here)
    Why did Kerry say that? Because he is a politically correct liberal spineless coward? The Same reason the LBTGG community supported the banning Maryam Namazie from some university campuses?
    The same spineless cowards that objected to Salman Rushdie’s knighthood? Or the same idiots who are falling over themselves to claim terrorism and Islam are not strongly linked (Mehdi Hasan)? FGM is an African probhlem not an Islamic problem – (Reza Alan)
    Kerry has just joined that list.



    Report abuse

  • What most disappoints me about 3rd wavers is the low standards. Demanding safe spaces for women rather than a safe world sets the bar low and fails to continue the daily challenge. Once emburk-ed, for that is the end of that slippery slope, that safety, at the crassest of levels, achieves little and is demotivating. Men can remain utterly unreconstructed.

    Real bravery, sadly, is still needed.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen

    David, the question you ask concerning the way we come up with the best and most fair system of government is not something I can address at the present time, to be honest. I would just say, however, that to put “socialism” in a box like that does not do justice to the complexity of socialism – which runs the gamut of ideologies. You often remind us of the terrible system we have here in the U.S. of the “worst health system amongst developed nations”, I think you said. Well what is missing: a more social democratic system.
    I think the people would embrace it. We are no different here than elsewhere.
    Treat the idea, the concept, of social democracy (or socialism) as you would any idea: respect the complexity and the evolution of this concept.
    And to assume that Man is selfish or greedy and to proceed from there is short -sighted, reminds me of Ayn Rand.
    If we are predominantly selfish than that is precisely why we need some kind of government, and some element of authority. Left to our own devices we will prey upon each other.
    Perhaps there is no such thing as human nature. That too says too much and too little. And you don’t base a system of government on the premise that we are all morally unfit as individuals. That will lead to despotism. Humans are not just selfish. There is such a thing as cultural evolution, and I like to think that there has been quite a bit of it, in spite of the devastating pockets of sheer atrociousness that has marred this process.
    Doug, I do lack clarity at times. These are enormously complex issues.
    -Peace



    Report abuse

  • Maybe I need to go play in another sand pit.

    Philosophy is a contact sport for brains. I read stuff on here and I picture a grid iron game with teams of helmeted brains crashing into each other. It’s a pretty squishy site so I avert my eyes, mostly, when it comes to philosophy.

    I suspect I am a fixer. I see a problem. I try to fix it. I interact with people who are as indoctrinated in there left / right ideology as the most fundamentalist religious. I see the parallels. To channel Bluebottle. “Thinks. This East Finchley boy scout can fix this.” So I post what I see as a solution.

    Fill Congress and the House of Commons with all independents. Put a matter before the house. See where the consensus on the evidence lies. This has got to be better than ping pong governments of Left / Right / Left / Right.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen
    Dec 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Philosophy is a contact sport for brains. I read stuff on here and I picture a grid iron game with teams of helmeted brains crashing into each other. It’s a pretty squishy site so I avert my eyes, mostly, when it comes to philosophy.

    I suspect I am a fixer. I see a problem. I try to fix it.

    All you need to do is understand the evolution of philosophy!

    Philosophy used to be the struggle of ancient brains to understand the workings of the world, but then it split in two, and Natural Philosophy became science, mathematics, natural history, and engineering, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy, while all the rump end of refuted crap, historical rambling misconceptions, and theology, was adopted in bible colleges and called “philosophy”!



    Report abuse

  • people who refuse to call themselves anything, who think they are above all terms or labels or ideologies, are often the most reactionary people I’ve ever met. They are usually “independents”
    The independents are usually libertarians. They may not use the words but that’s what they are – a bunch of twisted savages advocating (implicitly) corporate tyranny under the guise of being above politics and above social systems.

    An idealist has an ideal. Most folk realise that politics is a process to enable folks of entirely different temperaments and aspirations to find some way to live together. I do my best to shame American Voters out of consistently failing to support any decent form of welfare provision. Am I an idealist?

    My moral values per Haidt are somewhat left of centre (I have no feelings for obedience to authority, or any great need for loyalty to the in-group over the plain facts of the matter, or a need to preserve institutions…… all of which additions signal right wing moral values). I espouse a decent welfare system not on the strength of my personal values or a political system I cleave to (necessarily above all others if I was to be an idealist. Idealists are exclusive.) I espouse a decent welfare system on the mounting strength of the evidence in its favour. I favour greater equality than evidenced in the USA and UK not on the basis of a personal or group ideal, but on the strength of the simple epidemiological evidence that it is an investment well made and suited to the needs of our future populations as happy and productive problem solvers and consumers. (Consumption can be virtual, so don’t deflect). The evidence to help make these mutual political decisions is increasingly being made available not least by social and psychological research (just starting, but building nicely) but also more directly from the likes of epidemiologists Wilkinson and Pickett and the Equality Trust.

    The dull dissing of research on the basis that it is obvious or perhaps incomplete, pisses me off mightily. This dissing is going backwards away from the chance of mutuality to the old ways of idealistic impositions. Proofs, even of the obvious, are needed to stand a chance to persuade the idealistically (evidence free) disinclined. Not sufficient proof? We have to start somewhere and get more. We’ve barely started looking at this stuff.

    The continued muddling of political theories, knowledge of them and the holding them as an ideal has to stop. This is crass beyond telling. So too the arguments that somewhere within the mutually exclusive political theories already exist all solutions to our political ills. We need to be still inventing solutions based on the facts (the new dependencies as we discover them.)

    Now to put the labels on the presents under the tree. (I leave them off to thwart “feeling”.)



    Report abuse

  • Fill Congress and the House of Commons with all independents. Put a matter before the house. See where the consensus on the evidence lies.

    First, what’s the evidence that doing this will produce a better (closer to “best”) outcome? Next, how is this accomplished given the current situation and limitations? Who does the filling, and why those people, and why should they fill this way? How do we define “independent”? (These are just a few rhetorical questions intended to provoke thought for other, future discussions, not necessarily intended to extend this one.)



    Report abuse

  • I don’t know about you, Doug, but I am tired of debating these fine fellows about “ideology.” Perhaps we just understand the word differently. But independents, as I said, are usually libertarians.
    Beware of independents. They think they are more discriminating. More often than not they are just low-information voters.
    David, I am not referring to you. But a lot of independents are this way. Not all. Ralph Nader was an independent. Good man.



    Report abuse

  • Why do discussions in this forum often descend into split infinitives over the obscure meaning of words and little side tracks.

    -indeed

    Stick around, I read most of your input. -cheers



    Report abuse

  • As clumsy as what John Kerry said was, this article takes it entirely out of context. It’s clear he meant that the satirists were doing things that made them a target while the workers were just random average people. He wasn’t attempting to justify anything, just pointing out a fact. Regardless of the right/wrong aspect they satirists knew they were a target and had security measures in place (unfortunately those measures failed). That is what made the strike so confusing and scary in San Bernardino and Paris was that they didn’t even have a political/terroristic statement of any coherence.



    Report abuse

  • “There was a sort of particularised focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorise people.”

    Yes, you could attach yourself to it, somehow. The earlier act did appear to be more specific. And, no doubt, many have seen it this way. When I read this statement I assumed Kerry was attempting to help explain how this is possible, not that it is necessarily a good thing.



    Report abuse

  • The ISIS message accompanying the Paris attack was quite clear putting the moral turpitude of Parisians ahead of the specific insults of Charlie Hebdo and the temerity of the French for supporting their opponents.

    Kerry’s analysis is valueless in the face of this.



    Report abuse

  • Kerry’s analysis is valueless in the face of this.

    Unless, perhaps, Kerry was trying to explain how people were attempting to make sense of these events.

    Do you know of a source that might help to better understand the context of the statement?



    Report abuse

  • Atrocities are not committed for reasons — the ‘reasons’ follow the acts; they are excuses, lame justifications, attempts to explain away actions to undermine the will to challenge the delusions that give rise to the atrocity.
    Ignore ‘reasons’: expose the delusion.



    Report abuse

  • Atrocities are not committed for reasons. — the ‘reasons’ follow the acts;

    This is nonsense.

    …the delusions that give rise to the atrocity.

    For delusions to “give rise to” the atrocious acts, they must precede them; they are the reason.



    Report abuse

  • Atrocities are not committed for reasons

    Wrong, daesh have been deliberately poking at all and sundry with their calculated extremes of murder and terror, and their internet-savvy propaganda, “look how BADASS we are”, they’re the biggest baddest most vicious murder-gang ever, at least that’s their aim. A Jordanian pilot, some French cartoonists, minorities in the towns they capture, everyone, conquered by ultra-brutal shock tactics, a new kind of blitzkrieg.

    Provoke everyone outrageously, coldly sizing up what feeble response they get, a few bombs here and there, so what. The fight is what they want to stir up, and they won’t be content until they’ve stirred up one so big that none of them survive it. Combined with nihilistic-hedonistic-sadistic thrill of rape-loot-kill for their footsoldiers fuelled on something akin to crack, and the cynical promise of virgins in paradise.

    Daesh is all about the death-wish, armageddon style, like the rapture-end-times xtian weirdos in ‘merica, who can’t wait to move on to the Next Life.

    But not Jonesville-style, they want to go down fighting, make enemies of everyone and hurt them as much as they can before they die.

    Or, just maybe, they don’t all go down fighting. Maybe their enemies are too muddled, too weak, too divided, too cowardly, despite their advanced weapons factories, that they might just actually win. Dust settles and there’s a bigger and badder version of Saudi Arabia installed across a large swathe of the oil-rich territory that was once labelled Iraq, Syria, and maybe more.

    And treaties are signed and deals struck and sanctions debated and it’s business as usual, with the higher officials of this new caliphate able to shop in Harrods, while they’re free to rape and murder at whim, in their new UN recognised territory.

    As long as they think they’ve got even a 1000 to 1 chance of winning, they won’t quit. Hitler’s 1000 year reich was a similar ambition.

    And saying the cartoonists, or any other daesh victims, somehow brought this on themselves looks very much like blaming jews for the holocaust – they were asking for it, were they? Is that what you meant, Mr Kerry?



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.