[lit-ideas] Re: Radical Islam and Radical Americanism

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2010 08:35:18 -0700

Excellent post!
Since Mike obviously didn't have Ireland in mind when he wished he could go out 
and shoot a lot of Republicans, he may be too disgusted with our election to 
answer your note.  Here are the election results for Tennessee: 
I saw Mike as having "death" rather than "violence" as his concern.  He did use 
the term violence in the sense you use it, but when I challenged him saying 
that Leftists have been some of the most verbally violent people I've ever 
debated, he said that sort of violence doesn't count as long as it stops short 
of physical harm or death.  But from a Christian standpoint, and Mike was after 
all raised a Catholic, hatred in one's heart for one's brother is tantamount to 
killing him.
I saw Mike as never having recovered from the "body bags" of the 60s & 70s.  
Death trumps all virtue.  The virtue "courage" for example is trumped and 
rendered worthless if it results in anyone's death.   He hasn't answered my 
note challenging him to respond to Bill Maher's advocacy of certain Western 
virtues, because according to Mike these are all "God words" and he has no 
truck with them.  "Death" is all that matters.  If any of Maher's "virtues" 
cause "death" then they are worthless.  
Mike is conflicted about these matters because he stops short of calling 
himself a complete pacifist.  He has said that "of course we should defend 
ourselves."  But then he hems this defense with so many qualifications that any 
general told he must fight a war while complying with them would surely resign.
But I like the way you have presented these matters.  You have swept up death 
"violence" and "force".  "The use of force" subsumes death and violence -- 
"force" not being burden in the way that "death" and "violence" are.
Mike is probably still too hung-over after this additional setback to his 
former hero, Barack Obama.  He had high hopes that Obama would move this nation 
even further leftward.   A majority, given the evidence of yesterday, was 
convinced that he moved it too far in that direction as it was.
I heard pundits speculating over whether Obama could recast himself as a 
centrist.  If he can then he might stand a chance of being reelected in 2012.  
But if he continues pursuing his own ideas of what this country needs, despite 
the certain knowledge that a majority in this nation disagrees with him, then 
he will almost certainly (so the pundits say) be a one-term president.
From: Donal McEvoy
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 3:07 AM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Radical Islam and Radical Americanism
--- On Wed, 3/11/10, Mike Geary < <mailto:jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx> 
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>mouthing off in Memphis
on a night that I wish I could go out and shoot a lot of Republicans>

Yeh. You'd be advised not to come to Belfast and voice that wish.

Having admitted that you use fascist as an over-extended term of general abuse, 
your post suffers from taking a somewhat naive approach to the unavoidable role 
of violence (and the threat of violence) in human society - including 
democratic society. Even if we were to accept that the central aim of 
civilisation is the reduction of violence in all its forms, (as I am prepared 
to) that would not mean that pursuit of this aim did not involve calculating 
what acts of violence (or their threat) were necessary and justifiable in order 
to pursue this aim. There is no contradiction in Popper's stance, for example, 
that the central aim of civilisation is the reduction of violence in all its 
forms and yet if we do not use force to oppose those who would get their way by 
force, not only will they destroy us by force but destroy our tradition of 
opposing 'the use of force to get your way' along with us. That tradition is, 
historically, one that has only recently
 become dominant and then only in some countries; and in the last century it 
faced almost lethal attack from the left [Communists] and right [Fascists]. It 
is also a tradition that would never been as successful as it has without the 
use of force to back it up - we can forget that democracy as we know it was 
often in the not-too-distant-past viewed as a pipe-dream.

The use of force in a way that complies with society's rules in a democracy, 
which is based ultimately on the power to get rid of the rulers without force, 
may be different ethically from that in a society where the use of force is not 
subject to democratic control [I don't think Weber would argue against this]. A 
problem in the Irish situation is that, at its root, is a question of 
jurisdiction and this means the question of defining the appropriate democratic 
unit is problematic.  Unionists may be a majority in Ulster but they are a 
minority in all-Ireland: so on what democratic principle can they have a veto 
on whether the jurisdiction of the island should be a all-Ireland or 
partitioned? Of course we might say Ireland is a minority, and England the 
majority, within the British isles, so that should give Westminster 
jurisdiction over all-Ireland (which is what Unionists wanted; they no more 
wanted partition than the Free Staters - it was a
 compromise). And so on. But it is impossible, when appropriate democratic unit 
is itself what is at stake, to take a view that does not appear to beg the 
question. Consequently, Irish republicans can and do claim that their violence 
is democratically mandated by the results of the last all-Ireland elections, 
almost a 100 years ago, and because it is in defence of the legitimate 
democratic unit of all-Ireland.

Of course, and sensible republicans know it, this line of thought is now much, 
much weaker in the light of developments since Partition and given the clear 
majority in all-Ireland who support the Peace Process. The ones who do not 
accept this have indeed a "messianic" or religious attachment to the issue of 
Irish unity.



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