Posted by Lexington Green on September 13th, 2010 (All posts by Lexington Green)
I have several problems with his post. I tried to post a few responses as a comment, but it did not work for some reason. If you are interested in this sort of inter-blog argument, please read his post, and see my responses, below the fold.
Some, non-comprehensive, responses to your post:
1. I expressly distinguished between politics and war in my first post, and expressly stated I was making an analogy between something Boyd said about war and what I believe I was observing in the political realm. Analogies from war to politics are always imperfect, but that is no reason not to use them. War is killing. Politics, in the USA, thank God, is not killing. I was clear about this in the post but you seem not to understand it. Nonetheless, it would have been more accurate to use the word “opponent” rather than “enemy.” That would have been clearer, perhaps, but the whole thrust of the post was about politics and there is no real reason for anyone to be confused who does not want to be.
2. My statement that the Taliban are evil needs no apology. An organized group that has murdered hundreds of thousands of people, that throws acid in girls’ faces for trying to learn to read and otherwise commits atrocities as a matter of course can only accurately be described as evil. Fighting them is just, and fighting means killing, wounding or capturing. Should our soldiers leave Afghanistan believing they fought on the wrong side? No. They should not. That is what I meant, and that is what I said. Most wars lack this level of certainty. The Kaiser’s soldiers, for example, were not serving a cause of unmitigated evil. The Taliban are unusual in that regard. There is little ambiguity about their evil or the evil consequences of their rule. Whether we have the means to defeat the Taliban at tolerable cost is a separate question, a political and practical one rather than a moral one. I also made this distinction.
3. You also misrepresented what I said by inserting the world “all.” It would never have been practical to kill all the Taliban. I did not say “all” because I did not mean “all.” If they were soundly defeated, which would entail killing a lot of them, the rest might be compelled to surrender, or otherwise be preventing from imposing a reign of terror on the country.
4. My reference to the Insurgency is to the obvious and growing mass political movement, which the Tea Party is part of, and which Beck’s followers are apparently part of. I specifically said that I know very little about Mr. Beck and that I have never even seen his TV show, except for short clips. I did not see anything to object to in the very little I have seen from him. He seems to be mobilizing a large faction, which may in turn become politically engaged. Other factions include libertarians who are not comfortable with the religious aspect of Mr. Beck’s message. I certainly did not say or suggest that he would be “presumed” to lead this Insurgency. I am in no position to presume anything about him. The one thing I know about him, based on a few TV news reports, is that the news media did not understand what he was trying to do. This is shows that hte news media is stupid, not that I am an expert on Mr. Beck. More generally as this mass movement takes on political form we will see political leaders emerge. The movement from pundit to elected political office is very rare. I don’t have any reason to think Mr. Beck will do it, or try to do it. But who knows. These are interesting times. All kinds of surprising things will happen.
5. All political views presume a moral and philosophical foundation. As I specifically mentioned, most politics, day to day politics, does not significantly implicate these deep foundations. Politics in periods of major change or major problems do force people to go their moral and philosophical roots and decide what kind of country they want, what direction they want major changes to go. We are apparently moving into such a political era. Count on all points of the political spectrum becoming increasingly self-aware and mobilized. The existing institutional framework is failing us, it is bankrupt. That can’t go on, so it won’t go on. If you are in a political struggle that implicates basic values, then you must claim moral superiority. The people who run the country now, in both parties, have long presumed their own moral and intellectual superiority. Having led the country to an economic crisis, they are for some reason shocked to find that millions of their fellow citizens disagree with that presumption. Major political reform movements are not undertaken or pushed to success by people who are in a constant state of moral dithering. The Progressives of a century ago saw social problems and set out to solve them, against all kinds of opposition. They believed in their cause, they thrashed out what they should do in terms of policy, and then they won elections. We are seeing a similar broadly based movement come into being.
6. I am not a Boydean. I read three books about him. I found them interesting. I am not an expert on Boyd. It would be a serious mistake to generalize from anything I have written to what some community of Boydeans may think. I can’t speak for anyone else’s views about Boyd, particularly where many people are genuine experts on his life and thought, and I am not.
7. One the commenters referred to “Greenites” while noting that this is a “trashbag term” for those who “share my opinions.” This is the first time I have ever heard of a Greenite. I don’t think there is such a thing. But if there is, welcome to my trashbag! (Sing that to the tune of Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare.)