Aggregator • Dr. Sanity • ID=78675
This comment made by Wretchard on one of his posts a few weeks ago struck me forcefully and I have been thinking about it ever since. I think the reason I cannot get it out of my mind is because it encapsulates the sense of despair that I feel at the moral disintegration of western civilization and all that it once stood for. I am reproducing the entire comment:
The West because of its higher culture and acceptance of the Scientific Method has a significantly more sophisticated military technology than the Islamic World. However this enabling higher culture normally compels the West to observe niceties like the Geneva Convention and the Judeo-Christian concept of honor and decency. The Islamic world lacks sophisticated military technology and is compelled to use relatively ineffective military methods such as IEDs, suicide bombs, human shields, etc.And who creates this split-level morality? Well there's a paper describing the Taliban's 'tactical innovation' of using five year old soldiers.The Taliban is teaching five year old boys to kill British troops. The children are being converted into soldiers at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. The terrorist group turns boys into fighters, human shields, and suicide bombers (Owen 2008). -
The Viet Cong used children as spies (Peer 1970), suicide bombers, and sappers -
The most significant finding is that Libya is the major hub in the CST network. Numerous groups have passed through the training camps, representing Africa, the Middle East, South America and Europe. Except for the absence of Asia, this correlates with the regional spread of child soldier using groups in armed conflicts from 1987-2007 -
I believe child soldier use is a tactical innovation (McAdam1982, 1983). The practice is a fairly new method that developed in response to large-scale social forces and the ground-level needs of guerilla fighters. This paper outlines the historical foundations of child soldier use, locates the point of origin, and provides a skeletal view of how the tactic has diffused via terrorist training camps.
So in our current world, if the Taliban use child soldiers, it's a tactical innovation. But if American soldiers pick up a Koran without white gloves, it's a war crime. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong if you accept this picture?
No doubt teaching five year olds to kill British soldiers is a tactical innovation, objectively speaking. But it is also something that has to be seen for what it is: a moral abomination. Let me go a step further and call it the blackest sort of sin. For it is written, 'Let the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'
There are some who would find even the use of those words, spoken by Him, hateful as perhaps Dracula finds certain symbols repugnant. But that judges Dracula more than what repels him. We live in an era where right and wrong, good and evil have been inverted. We kill babies and call it choice. We spare murderers and call it enlightenment. We see how the Taliban corrupt children and admire them for their cleverness. There is, if you don't mind my saying so, something in that attitude which condemns its adherents even more than the object of the observation.
We are sick, sick to our core and it is not just the Taliban or the Viet Cong or the Libyans or North Koreans who are loco in the coco. There is a madness, indeed, an evil abroad in Western capitals that masquerades as humanitarianism, personates high-mindedness and makes a mockery of any sort of decency. And they have the temerity to call themselves human rights guardians?
I do not think that these people have the moral high ground. Although some people are doubtless well meaning, many individuals in the 'human rights industry' are nothing more than spokesmen and apologists for groups that would make the old time Nazis seem like Boy Scouts.
The original post at Belmont Club was about Former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose Rodriguez' claim that Nancy Pelosi lied when she said she had not been briefed about waterboarding.
Have a little sympathy for former Speaker Pelosi. Like every other politician she has to square a circle. On the one hand she has to tell her liberal constituency that violence accomplishes nothing. On the other hand she has to make sure that nobody disturbs the illusion of a safe, gun-free environment by taking over a shopping mall and holding every one in it hostage.
People must never be told that upholding a high moral standard may be costly; that you may have to risk danger by refusing to resort to certain measures. No. The candidate must describe a world in which you can have your own cake and eat it too. It's a world in which B-17s didn't have to fly straight into flack to accurately bomb a target and not hit civilian targets. It's a world in which you don't have to make a choice between invading Japan and killing 5 million civilians and bombing Hiroshima and killing 70,000 civilians.
That's the perfect world.
And, isn't that exactly what the left claims it wants? A perfect world? A perfect, socially just, egalatarian, peaceful, "we are all brothers" world?
Unfortunately, the only way to get from this world, the real and imperfect world, is through deceit, delusion, and denial. Take your pick. Any one of the three will blur reality; make it more palatable; and, most importantly, make those who desperately desire utopia feel lots lots better.
The moral decay of the west is the direct consequence of the need to embrace the delusions and fantasies of the political left, both here in this country and around the world. Why? Because to embrace the delusion, one must abandon reality, truth, reason, and logic. Once must blind one's self to the unpleasant sights of the world and place hands over ears to escape the unpleasant sounds. One must pretend that everything is always AOK; and dismiss all evidence to the contrary. One must denounce and demonize the "naysayers" because they tell the truth. In short, one must mentally live in another dimension from the one we actually live in.
And the only way to succeed in believing in this dimension is to abandon the moral system that depends on reality and our perception of it. It goes sort of like this:
REALITY----->HUMAN PERCEPTION OF REALITY -----> HUMAN ACTION BASED ON REALITY
There is a hierarchical relationship implied here. First, there is REALITY, or existence. The study of the nature of existence is called Metaphysics. Next is our knowledge of REALITY through the mind and the senses, which while they may be imperfect sources of information at times, we must strive to optimize their function as if our lives depended on it (which they do). The study of knowlege and how we know about reality is called Epistemology. And finally, the last link in the chain is the actions we choose to take, based on our knowledge of what is real.
This last part is where Ethics, or a moral code, comes into play.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE CHOICES WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE KNOWLEDGE IF YOU CANNOT, OR WILL NOT, FACE REALITY.
The "logic" of the fantasy left (I have always thought if rather fascinating that they insist on calling themselves the "reality-based community"--as if the words make it so) goes like this:
Reality is messy. It needs to be eliminated--either through deception, delusion, or denial. The deceivers and liars know exactly what they are doing since they do it consciously and deliberately. The deluded deniers DON'T WANT TO KNOW what they are doing because they feel better that way.
Leszak Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher expelled from the Communist Party in 1968 for his heretical views makes the following keen observation about the morality of socialism (from My Correct Views on Everything, reviewed in The Weekly Standard) :
Socialism as a social or moral philosophy was based on the ideal of human brotherhood, which can never be implemented by institutional means. There has never been, and ther will never be, an institutional means of making people brothers. Fraternity under compulsion is the most malignant idea devised in modern times; it is the perfect path to totaltarian tyranny.
The social engineers of the left, motivated as they are by their creative utopian aspirations--expressed by the desire to impose (forcibly, if necessary) universal peace, social justice and brotherhood upon humanity--are completely oblivious to the malignant, and extremely immoral, side of their own natures. This is what enables them to masquerade as humanitarians, personify high-mindedness and make a mockery of any sort of decency.
Their anti-individualism, anti-capitalistic, anti-wealth, and fundamentally anti-human and anti-life agenda is made possible only if they are able to disconnect REALITY from the human mind and from human actions.
The postmodern political left is constitutionally unable to appreciate it, but both they and the greedy capitalist entrepreneurs of the right who they sdespise so vehemently, are driven by the same dark human emotions: envy, greed and a need to dominate others.
However, there is an extremely crucial difference.
The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists and utopians--each offer the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.
The evil capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profi;, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must wnat what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.
There is no parallel social limitations on the behavior of the do-gooder leftist. This tyrant wannabe does not feel the need to convince others of the veracity or even the effectiveness of his ideas; nor does he accept defeat when others are not interested or resist their implementation. He knows in his heart what is best for everyone, and he will use coercion if necessary. He will not allow options; nor will he permit others do do what they think is right for themselves. Their feelings or concerns are a matter of complete indifference to him. Only his own matter.
The leftist's desire for power is direct and absolute; and is an inescapable psychological consequence of his utopian ideology.
And there is no area of your life which will escape his intrusive psychopathology, because he justifies it by saying he is really doing it for your sake.
The clever deceiver on the left always manages to hide these darker motivations--the envy, greed, and desire for power--and pretend they don't even exist--even to himself. He tells himself he does not possess such dark motives; that his motives are pure and uncontaminated by the kind of self-serving goals those on the selfish, money-hungry right pursue. The banal platitudes and silly slogans he chants during his protest marches make him feel oh so good about himself; and experiencing too much knowledge and insight about his inner state would make him extremely uncomfortable; perhaps even causing him to question some of his basic assumptions about himself or his beliefs.
This is the dilemma faced by all utopians. Thus, if they do not consciously decide they are going to do evil; or, if they are not entirely cynical; they must escape into delusion or denial in order to continue to function.
They see themselves as so pure and righteous; so correct and virtuous; how is it possible that their beautiful utopian dreams always turn into such horrible human nightmares? How can they possibly explain all the unpleasantness and evil away, like they do.
Well, speaking as a psychiatrist, I can tell you that there is no limit to how much self-delusion is possible in our species. People who are grossly psychotic, like many that I see every day, at least have a biological short circuit in their hard wiring as an excuse. But even without the biological propensity, human being are quite capable of self delusion, fantasy, and disconnecting themselves from reality.
You can count on the "true believer" to close his eyes not only to his own internal reality, but also to the external reality that proves the uselessness of his beliefs in the real world.
Few on the left have ever acknowledged the nightmare of the Soviet gulag; or Lenin's purges; or China's crackdowns. Few have ever even accepted the incredible human cost their ideologies have taken on humanity; the death the suffering and misery. Even today, they actively support all the future Stalin's (like the thug Chavez) in their grabs for unparalleled power. Chavez, of course, follows the pure utopian aspirations of the typical leftist and is only allowing himself to become "dictator for life" because he wants to help his people--just like Saddam did; just like Qadaffi did; just like Assad is doin; just like the Mullahs are doing.
We live in an era where right and wrong, good and evil have been inverted. We kill babies and call it choice. We spare murderers and call it enlightenment. We see how the Taliban corrupt children and admire them for their cleverness. There is, if you don't mind my saying so, something in that attitude which condemns its adherents even more than the object of the observation.
While societies that operate under the rule of law have all the necessary checks and balances that prevent the capitalist from cheating or robbing his clients and hold him to account if he does; civilization has been fooled repeatedly throughout history by the virtuous, self-righteous, anti-capitalist robbers and cheaters of the left who simply disguise their robbery and fraud behind the stated purity of their motives.
The stink of the left's piety is nauseating. Just ask Cory Booker, who accidentally told the truth and now must pretend that he didn't--or perhaps he simply slipped back into Democratic denial.
Today's new and improved political left promises the redistribution of wealth, "fairness", social justice, peace and brotherhood. What they deliver will be what they have always delivered: stagnation, poverty and misery; injustice, decline and death.
That is what happens when reality is not part of your moral equation. ... more