[lit-ideas] Re: When a civilized society fights a barbarous one
- From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 13:55:10 -0400
Judy: Those who seek to hold the US (etc.) to a high
standard, those who do not accept that it's right for
the US (etc.) to use torture because others use
torture, those who oppose the use of torture by their
government in the knowledge that it is often used by
other governments, patently obviously believe that
some cultures are different from others and that some
cultures are better than others. It's slightly
worrying that West cannot see this.
One of my history professors used to make the point that the
US high standards (The Constitution, for example) mean that
US actions will ALWAYS fall short of expectations. Given the
absolute language of the Constitution, the US will always be
seen to fail. Other governments, and I believe he cited the
British as an example, employ less grandiose language to
their governments, and will always be seen to meet or exceed
His point is important. High ideals mean regular failure to
meet them. The value of high ideals is in the direction of
social evolution, not in their day-to-day realization.
So if a civilization is fighting for its right to exist
against barbaric medieval Islamists, the failure to meet
absolute standards on a day-to-day basis is MUCH less
important than the overall direction of the civilization.
The direction of secular civilization is much more important
than the lapses from absolute standards. That direction is
toward greater fulfillment of human potential, and it has
been empirically demonstrated in ending slavery (which still
exists in Islamist societies) and enhancing equality for
women (which still is hindered in Islamist societies).
We may fall short of our ideals but the direction toward
greater fulfillment of human potential is obvious.
We've had this argument before about "high standards."
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