The well-intentioned giant.
Posted: 06 May 2008 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Here I am referring to to pp 138-147.

There is NO “well-intentioned giant”, Mr. Harris.  There are various little petty factions and individuals in government, most vying for quite selfish goals. 

You profess to be very clear about both the motives of Osama Bin Laden and George Bush, as well as very clear on what choices they would make under fantastic, imaginary circumstances.  Many of the rest of us are under no such delusions.  I have no better idea than you what either of these men would do with “the perfect weapon” or even how the existence of such a thing would profoundly alter the playing field – would there, in fact, BE any terrorism at ALL if such a thing were available?

Just comparing the power of Georgie-Boy to an actual tyrannical leader like Osama Bin Laden is terribly ignorant.  They do not play the same roles in their respective power groups.  You overestimate Mr. Bush in doing so, and clearly you overestimate how much his personal beliefs and will come into play and affect the actions of this sprawling government of ours.  You know about Cheney and all those other guys, right?  Something tells me George’s little ego isn’t the dominant one in the White House.

Comparing Bin Laden to Bush in any way is like comparing rotten apples to rotten oranges.

So where does that leave us, once we recognize that Mr. Bush’s personal motives are not what we should consider to judge the actions of our government?  Whose motives should we consider as the representational ones?

What, exactly ARE the motives of those who have made our decisions, Mr. Harris?  You claim to know them quite well.  You do not deny there have been atrocities committed by this government, but do you deny there have been atrocities committed by this government, or rather those individuals who have the power to truly influence it (not, of course, Mr. Bush) for the express purpose of personal gain?  How would you rate THIS motive in your hierarchy of motives, Sam?  People in this government were willing to kill innocent people for personal – FINANCIAL – gain.  I can’t think of a motive Mr. Bin Laden would have that could out-nasty that. Even the awfulness of inflicting hurt for its own sake, which is what you mistakenly imply is the motive of the “terrorist,” does not trump the awfulness of the willingness to sacrifice innocents for personal gain.

Or perhaps you deny our government (that is, the individuals that control it) such motives?  If so, you’ve got a blind-spot yourself, Sam.  Such desire for personal gain has driven our entire country into war on more than one occasion.  Look into it.

A “giant”?  Well, we have a lot of individuals vying for a piece of the action. I guess if you want to lump them all together and pretend they are one mind you could call it a giant.  A “well-intentioned” giant?  that’s an even harder call to make, though you make it with total nonchalance.  A little more meditation on the nature and composition of our government and the motives of those individuals who really do constitute and control it might be in order.  I’m not referring to George Bush here, of course.

Perhaps, now and then, in the best of times, there is some vague consensus of goodwill in this vast, greed-laden body that struggles with itself to make decisions for all of us.  But to characterize the American Government as a generally well-intentioned entity is ridiculous and smacks of the kind of tolerant moderation you criticize in the religious arena. 

The American Government, giant or not, is (of course) simply a self-serving group of individuals, like all such bodies.  Self-serving, Sam.  That’s the motive.  Rank it as you will.

[ Edited: 06 May 2008 10:56 AM by mooncalf]
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Posted: 06 May 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

Just comparing the power of Georgie-Boy to an actual tyrannical leader like Osama Bin Laden is terribly ignorant.  They do not play the same roles in their respective power groups.  You overestimate Mr. Bush in doing so, and clearly you overestimate how much his personal beliefs and will come into play and affect the actions of this sprawling government of ours.  You know about Cheney and all those other guys, right?  Something tells me George’s little ego isn’t the dominant one in the White House.

mooncalf, I agree with some of your thinking but you are misquoting Sam.  He writes “Consider the all too facile comparisons that have recently been made between George Bush and Saddam Hussein (or Osama bin Laden, or Hitler, etc.)-in pages of writers like Roy or Chomsky, in the the Arab press, and in the classrooms throughout the free world.”

Sam, in the greater body of the text you chose to critique, is basically saying that not all societies are at the same stage of moral evolution.  Yes, some of our leaders are greedy and yes we have committed atrocities - but Sam never advocates that our intentions are all pure.  And he is correct when he cites our intentions being better than those of genocidal sociopaths.  This country is so far from perfect that this does not merit a conversation; but please do not soapbox for the idea of “We bring this upon ourselves.” That is purely naive.

mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

Comparing Bin Laden to Bush in any way is like comparing rotten apples to rotten oranges.

Complain to Roy and Chomsky

mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

So where does that leave us, once we recognize that Mr. Bush’s personal motives are not what we should consider to judge the actions of our government?  Whose motives should we consider as the representational ones?

According to Sartre, we have to look at the entire resume of behaviors.

mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

What, exactly ARE the motives of those who have made our decisions, Mr. Harris?  You claim to know them quite well.  You do not deny there have been atrocities committed by this government, but do you deny there have been atrocities committed by this government, or rather those individuals who have the power to truly influence it (not, of course, Mr. Bush) for the express purpose of personal gain?  How would you rate THIS motive in your hierarchy of motives, Sam?  People in this government were willing to kill innocent people for personal – FINANCIAL – gain.  I can’t think of a motive Mr. Bin Laden would have that could out-nasty that. Even the awfulness of inflicting hurt for its own sake, which is what you mistakenly imply is the motive of the “terrorist,” does not trump the awfulness of the willingness to sacrifice innocents for personal gain.

Bechtel Corp is a good example of greed with no abandon…but they are not the government.  If you want to throw out allegations, please cite your work or reference material.

mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

Perhaps, now and then, in the best of times, there is some vague consensus of goodwill in this vast, greed-laden body that struggles with itself to make decisions for all of us.  But to characterize the American Government as a generally well-intentioned entity is ridiculous and smacks of the kind of tolerant moderation you criticize in the religious arena.

Where do you live that you do not see the altruism of this country or its people?  Are you challenging Harris to become a fervent America hater?  Sam’s ideas are published and easily referenced…yours?

mooncalf - 06 May 2008 02:52 PM

The American Government, giant or not, is (of course) simply a self-serving group of individuals, like all such bodies.  Self-serving, Sam.  That’s the motive.  Rank it as you will.

Here is where I can find some common ground if you say “All governments are comprised of people, many who are self-serving.” 

I challenge Mr Harris’ ideas as well, but let’s stick to the facts of what he has written…not what you are insinuating without data.

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Posted: 06 May 2008 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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The point here is that-

Do you not think that Sams camparison here goes to mentality and capability? Of course both are restricted by contemporary arrangements.

Bush has constraints on his zealotry. OBL can live in a cave and avoid his. But if the roles were reversed would the actions of these two people perhaps be similar to what they are now?
Interesting I think. Moral absolutism makes strange bedfellows.

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