Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Debate on "The West" vs. "Islam" and War

This is exerpted from a debate on a message board, in which the person being debated with is trying to justify the following premises (1) that all Muslims inherently present a threat to "the west", and this alleged threat on "the west" is meant to mean a threat on me as an individual and (2) that not only are "the west's" current wars in the middle east justified, but war against the entire Muslim world is justified. Their statements will be in quotes and italics, mine will be without quotes.

It is amazing that people who are supposed to be the greatest enemies of collectivism buy into forms of hobbesian collectivism by putting forth a conflict model of society ("the west", whatever that's supposed to mean, vs. the muslim heathen). This is all about breeding social conflict where it didn't exist before or need not exist. I'm interested in avoiding social conflict, not increasing it.

"You have hit on a fascinating subject when you said “the west” and expressed doubt as to whether such a thing really exists."

The point is that the invocation of "the west" is an obfuscation. Taking the word to describe a geographical territory, I am part of "the west" in that I am within that territory. I am not directly or overtly effected by Muslim people thousands of miles away, and I never will be. To say that there is a "war against the west" is to imply that there is a war against me; it implies uniformity.

But I walk around all day without any Muslim attacking me; indeed, without coming into contact with any at all. To imply that "the west" and me are the same thing is to engage in collective obfuscation. I am an individual. I am not "the west". And if I am considered to be a component part of "the west" this does not mean that an attack on another component part is an attack on me; as an individual I am still independant from those other component parts.

"The conflict does exist whether you choose to acknowledge it, or avoid it."

What conflict? An inherent conflict between "the west" and the "middle east"? That's just collectivist nonsense, because again it presumes uniformity on the part of both sides, which is not the case. Everyone who is a Muslim or everyone who is in the middle east is not waging war against everyone who is not a Muslim or everyone who is not in the middle east. If you take a look at objective reality, it would become obvious that it is particular "western" governments that have engaged in war against particular middle eastern territories by invading, occupying and bombing them.

On the other hand, empirical reality tells me that the chances of me being a victim of muslim terrorism are less than my chance of winning the lottery or spontaneously combusting; and the chances of "America" being taken over by middle easterners and transformed into a muslim theocracy is zero. The chances for a Muslim in the middle east to be "collateral damage" in "western" occupations and internal strife is much much higher than the chances for me to ever have to worry about anything close to what they deal with on a daily basis.

"As I have already stated before, there are people who mean us ill."

Intent in itself is not a crime. To enact an aggression against someone simply because you think that they might aggress against you in the future makes you the aggressor. It is not legitimate to enact force on people simply because they have ill desires towards others. You can only enact force in defense once they have actually overtly presented the threat. If I punch you in the nose because you, while on your own property to boot, insulted my character verbally or advocated verbally that the institutions I personally like should be done away with, then I am guilty of assault. Justifying initations of aggression by alluding to intent or "psychic damage" is the oldest trick in the book.

"There is a war."

Indeed, there is. It is was initiated by the U.S. government against multiple countries that did not attack "us".

"It was declared by them against us."

I'm sorry, but this is pure horsedung. No Muslims have literally militarily invaded any "western" territory. Many "western" governments, on the other hand, have been occupying their territory for decades on end. In either case, "Us vs. Them" is a collectivist obfuscation that assumes uniformity on the part of both sides, which simply is not the case, and creates what I refered to as a conflict model above. There is no "us"; we do not all agree. There is no "them"; neither are they uniform. The conflict model pits groups against eachother, as if there is inherent conflict between them that is impossible to resolve without warfare.

I object, because I myself as an individual am variant with the other members of the group that I'm allegedly part of, and I see the capacity in man to "live and let live" with people of different asthetic preferances. Man contains the capacity for cooperation despite inequality and disagreement. Conflict models are hobbesian and obfuscate the individual and variance. They invent social conflict where they need not exist or did not previously exist.

"We are not bad people for defending ourselves."

Once again, who is "we" to begin with? "We" presumues a uniformity that does not exist; I have not been aggressed against by any Muslim, therefore I have no legitimate defense claim. It would not be legitimate for me to go shoot some Muslim fellow; that would be murder. Furthermore, if "we" means the people of the united states, or any western "nation", you are simply making a false defense claim. There has been no offense to defend yourself against. What you are doing is engaing in the classic tactic of trying to justify iniations of aggression with false (and collective) defense claims.

Muslims can shout "down with the west! down with the west!" all they like. That would not present anyone with a justification for enacting aggression on them simply because they insulted your character. Furthermore, if we would stop identifying with collectives (such as "the west"), we would understand that we are decieving ourselves to interpret insults of "the west" as an insult of our personal characters as individuals. "The west" is just a concept to describe a territory. No particulular individual and their character can be described with the phrase. Otherwise, one is engaging in an absurd kind of anthropromorphicism.

This "us" and "the west" stuff is simply the old trick of getting people to identify with the state, which leads to the idea that the state is defending "us" in engaging in offensive warfare. I refuse to identify with something that I am not part of myself, and I further refuse to act as if any group I may be part of requires uniformity (I.E. absolute conformity to the other component parts) on my part. I refuse to be insulted personally by attacks on an abstract concept that does not actually describe me as an individual. And I refuse to allow the illusion of national territorialism to force me sacrifice myself to such an abstraction. I will only sacrifice myself for what I value as an individual (I.E. self-interest), not to collectives.

"There are dangers to you posed by Islam in the form of an establishment of a muslim theocracy."

In America? Absolute lunacy. There is virtually zero chance of me being subject to Muslim theocracy as imposed externally. On the other hand, there is indeed a huge chance of me being subject to totalitarianism as imposed internally. Furthermore the logical result of the aggressive state warfare that you suggest would lead to increases in government power at home, and that in itself is what constitutes the true, direct threat to me right in my backyard.

"Intent IS the crime!"

Intent in itself can be nothing more than a thought. Intent is not a crime. Intent in itself does not effect me as an individual. A criminal is a criminal because they act out their ugly intentions. On the other hand, someone who simply has ugly intentions, but lacks the courage or willpower to actually carry them out in physical action against others, does not constitute a criminal. A low-life perhaps, but not an aggressor.

"Intent is at the center of what it means to commit a crime."

Not quite. I can simply wish death upon you, and not act this out. Intent does not necessarily lead to physical action. I can intend things all day and not actually do anything about them. Most muslims, and religionists in general, I think can be viewed this way. They are cowardly in this sense. Sure, they may shout incoherancies and advocate ugly things against "the west", but the bulk of them do not carry it out in action against those whom they preach hate against (out of cowardice, at best they can externalize the costs onto others to act it out for them, through the mechanism of an institution such as a government). Are you seriously trying to get me to believe that an entire collective deserves aggression to be enacted on them because of either (1) their hateful opinions in themselves or (2) the aggressive actions of a small group of people within their ranks? This cultural collectivism of yours has to be addressed. It is illogical.

"Someone who advocates killing you because you are a kafur invites a just retaliation as long as you confine your killing to just him."

Really now? So if someone simply makes the statement that "all Americans should die", I am justified in aggressing against that person merely because of their verbal advocation that I should be dead (which, again, hinges on me identifying with the nation and state, which I regaurd as a pile of collectivist bulldung)? Verbal advocation is not a crime. You can write all the pamphlets and advocate stuff verbally all you like. It becomes a crime when you start to act on it. Most people do not act on their verbal advocations. Now, if the person makes the verbal advocation on my property, then we can start to have a legitimate defense claim of some sort, insofar as I can have that person leave my property if I desire, forcably if necessary.

"As I will show, we did not start this war."

As can be seen from objective reality, the united states government invaded a territory, which contains some people who never did anything to any American (actually practically none of them have; zilch, zero). That is an initation of aggression. To argue otherwise is to make a grand obfuscation of what an initation of aggression is. The country that actually militarily invades another territory is the starter of a war, the initator of the war.

This should be quite obvious. A war is started by the initial act of invasion. No Iraqi (or Iranian) has invaded America, there has been no military invasion of America, and nor would it be legitimate to enact aggression against an entire group because of what one person in that group did (that would constitute an initiation of aggression against innocent bystanders). You go after the actual individual aggressors, not entire "nations", not everyone within an entire territory irrespective of their own responsibility as individuals.

"I will leave it at that and continue assembling my sources and references so that you can read and judge for yourself whether there is a threat, who constitutes that threat, if we may consider all of Islam as a rotten egg as regards their intentions towards us etc etc."

Here's a clue: it's the governments that set up the initial crises. All of them to one degree or another. On the other hand, governments are to be distinguished from "society" or "the people". Governments are a particular small band of individuals who control a monopoly over a given territory. The "society" that they rule over is constituted by a separate group; those who are subjects to the given territorial monopolist (I.E. state). None of the people in that group have aggressed against me, and therefore as an individual I cannot have a defense claim against that which has not actually aggressed against me. I am not justified in aggressing against people who never aggressed against me. It's that simple. It's really that simple.

I think your position hinges on collective territorialism and group-identity-think. What you are asking me to do, in essence, is sacrifice myself to a collective ("the west") in the name of fighting a collective ("the muslims") that has done nothing to me as an individual. When I think about it, the demand you're making of people is incredibly altruistic. To spell things out even more clearly: what you are advocating is genocide in the name of "preserving the west".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't want to comment here on the morals, but can I recommend you read "Christians, Muslims and Islamic Rage" by Christopher Catherwood, published by Zondervan? It's a historical look (from a Christian standpoint) at why the Islamic conflict continues to rage on over the centuries, and I fear why it will carry on ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, from a historical perspective, I think that we in the West are very much at risk. History, as you know, has a way of repeating itself - the motives for this conflict have not changed...