oldschool CxC

Friday, June 01, 2007

Spotted this baby online. Thought this blog needed it. :)


Ari's 'viral thought for the day':
** I'd like Al Gore to run as Green Party Presidential Candidate for 2008 **


Blogger Sony said...

Orwell is an apt reminder that leftists and socialists used to support the fight against Totalitarian dictators, not sympathize and defend them. Orwell's actions- volunteering in bloody the Spanish Civil war- speak louder then cribbed quotes. Orwell hated Totalitatrian regimes and put his life on the line in the fight against them- a fight with guns, blood, killing, atrocities. But he thought it was worth it to end the slavery of dictatorship. What happened to those kind of socialists?

10:10 AM  
Blogger Sony said...

George Orwell Quiz:

"When one thinks of the cruelty, squalor, and futility of War--and in this particular case of the intrigues, the persecutions, the lies and the misunderstandings--there is always the temptation to say: 'One side is as bad as the other. I am neutral'. In practice, however, one cannot be neutral, and there is hardly such a thing as a war in which it makes no difference who wins. Nearly always one stands more or less for progress, the other side more or less for reaction. "

So here's the quiz: Are (a) the coalition or (b) Saddam Hussein's Baathists insurgents on the side of progress? Its an (a) or (b) choice, according to Orwell, you can't be neutral.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

I'd say (a), but we need to be clear about what it is we mean by "progress." To me that implies that expansion of liberty across several dimensions:

Social -- the ability to associate with whom you choose, say what you choose, and do as you please as long as you aren't harming anyone else.

Religious -- probably a subset of social, but important enough throughout history to be a separate category.

Political -- the freedom to choose your own leaders, have equal treatment under the law, protest, etc.

Economic -- as simple as being able to buy and sell whatever I want, whenever I want, as long as the transactions are freely entered into by all parties.

Obviously, and without getting into social theory, these freedoms cannot exist in a vacuum but instead need common rules and underlying an structure of security. A weed dealer might be providing a valuable economic (religious?) service, but can't exactly call the police if he gets robbed.

So which of these is most important? We seem to always focus on "spreading democracy" (political freedom), but frankly this is probably the least important. As you can see from declining voter participation in most stable democracies, as long as you don't mess with people's preferred way of life they really don't care who the leaders are. As one of the Tiananmen Square protesters put it, "Before Tiananmen, we thought freedom was 90% political and 10% economic, but now we know it's 90% economic and 10% political."

Economic freedom is all about the emergence of markets, and to have markets you need stability. For stability you need growth, for growth you need resources, for resources you need infrastructure, for infrastructure you need investment, for investment you need rules, for rules you need security, for security you need someone to provide it, and for that you need will.

- - - -

So back to Sony's question regarding who is on the side of progress. The coalition is trying to provide security, rule sets, investment, and infrastructure repairs and upgrades; and has overseen the emergence of political freedoms unheard of in most of the Middle East.

What do the Baathist insurgents provide? Terror and insecurity as a means to regain exclusive political power in the hands of the Sunni minority. Muslim extremists? Terror and insecurity as a means to curtail religious, social, and political freedoms. This makes it a pretty easy choice as to who are the good guys here.

Whether this is a fight worth fighting is another story, and that depends on how you see America's role in the world, and whether the Iraqi and American people have the will to see this through. And of course, OF COURSE, the Iraqi oil reserves and their effect on the worldwide energy flow is a prime reason why we are there and not in, say, the Sudan. No one is suggesting this is entirely a selfless act.

None of this is to imply that America is perfect -- far from it; or that the Bush administration is doing a great job -- far from it. But unless we agree on the vision for the expansion of liberty, quibbling about the tactics (guantanamo, too many troops, too few troops, "oil spot" security, Bush's vacation time?, etc.) is pointless.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

I should note that the markets->security dependencies were lifted from Thomas Barnett's excellent book, "The Pentagon's New Map," in which he distinguishes between the economically integrated countries - 'The Core' - and those on the outside - 'The Gap', and how our providing security for the emerging Gap countries has helped them integrate into the Core like in Southeast Asia.

Anyway, I bring this up because I found this excellent quote as I was double-checking a fact:

"Ultimately, any Gap country is made stable by being economically integrated into the Core and having the resulting economic development find expression in increased liberty over time, because liberty plus economic development will get you a stable democracy in the end. So all we do when we export security into any region is get the ball rolling, nothing more."

2:05 PM  
Blogger Sony said...

I like the concept of Core, even though I haven't read the book. Departing from the original post, I'd like to comment. The Core is another way of conceptualizing what Thucidydes identified as the eternal battle between illiberal eastern despots and liberal western style consensual governments. The despot Xerxes failed against the democratically elected Themistocles at Salamis, the Republican Romans crushed Theocratic Persians and Sassanians, elected polish king Jan Sobieska beat off the Ottoman Turks at Vienna, we saved newly liberated Berlin from Stalin, and the eastern Europeans threw off the Russian communist despots. Ever has it been, ever will it be.

Today, the core—the liberal democracies- has expanded east from the US—Australia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, and some junior members like Indonesia have reached China’s self proclaimed area of influence. Eastward, Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia abut Russia’s western borders. And in Iraq and Israel we’ve gained bridgeheads in the the traditionally despotic Middle east.

Don’t think the illiberal powers haven’t noticed and aren’t acting liked cornered animals. Iran, China and Russia just signed a wide-ranging cooperation treaty. They want all the massive natural gas and oil supplies in inner Asia to flow by pipelines through Russia or Iran and NO OTHER countries. That way, those 3 countries can control the fuel that energizes the west. If Russia, China and Iran are able to shut off those supplies, it will be a knife at the throat of Europe, which gets more and more of its energy from Russia and inner Asia. (The US wants the pipeline to run out of Inner Asia to the Caspian Sea where we can ship it through Azerbaijan, Georgia or other friendlier countries.)

This battle is going our way and as the core grows, the resistance is fiercer.

4:45 PM  
Blogger REkz said...

Let a Lefty chime in here! Jeez, this 'right wing pro-capitism' stuff is .. humdrum.

> But unless we agree on the vision for the expansion of liberty, quibbling about the tactics (guantanamo, too many troops, too few troops, "oil spot" security, Bush's vacation time?, etc.) is pointless.

OK. I think liberty is the right for people to determine their own fates.

Overthrowing Saddam Hussein mya have been a good thing -- however, it'd have been far better if the Iraqi's could have done it, and they would have done it (esp. if you follow Sony's theory) earlier w/o an American invasion -- if the USA hadn't been supplying his regime with tons of weapons for decades. He had no WMDs, and boy were they surprised -- since America sold him the Anthrax and the Mustard Gas years ago.

I do have to quibble on methods for achieving liberty, b/c if Guantanamo (+ other torture facilities) is an acceptable price for liberty -- then it seems to me you're advocating the use of the same tactics by those opposed to the forced expansion of Western values and society into their non-Western countries. No?

It also seems you're missing the fact that many of these 'liberated' countries are actually permanently economically damaged and either dependent or subservient to USA. Japan is an exception, but Thailand, Vietnam, S.Korea, much of N. Africa and SE.Asia -- these countries were far more prosperous prior to colonization (by Capitalist or Communist forces).

> This battle is going our way and as the core grows, the resistance is fiercer.

Sony, this type of talk is chilling. Referring to Orwell again and 1984, one beauty of that book was that war was constant, it's purpose was to waste natural resources and keep people living in squalor while simultaneously fiercely loyal and patriotic to a despotic government that fed them lies about everything.

Orwell says no one can be neutral? OK. I'm opposed to American occupation of foreign countries.

It's a bad practice, it destabilized the security of all the countries of the world, and seems ultimately quite similar to the aims of historical European war-based leaders (Napoleon and Hitler and others) -- to extend their fist across the globe.

To conquer, claim the spoils, re-write the history books to seem somehow more of a positive influence.

Ultimately, while we do see much 'progress' left behind by empirical regimes, the horrors of them are not soon forgotten by the victims -- genocide, pillaging, rape, slavery, theft on a grand scale, cultural hierarchy, etc -- but the victors quickly forget the horrors inflicted by their own ancestors.

Thus we can have a President like Bush arguing to keep 'illegal aliens' outside of the borders with walls and fences -- and no one counters that the illegal aliens are the white people that have conquered and genocided the natives, rebranded their progeny as Mexicans or 'illegal aliens', and have exiled these people into Mexico and S.America, or onto reservations, or just killed them.

With Bush and much of the Right, it's not the argument that needs arguing, it's their contrived framing of the arguments that is so off the mark.

When looking at the USA, our priorities are backwards. They should be:

American Taxes paying for:
Free education to all levels (if you qualify),
Free medical,
Free minimum income (ie DOLE/welfare) to end homelessness

Rather than cutting social programs and arguing that we are in debt and these programs are too expensive, we should first:
Cut the military budget.
Cut the numbers of American military bases and troops overseas.
Beging taxing churches (and definitely ones with political agendas).
Enforce full tax payment on large corporations.
Overturn Bush's tax cut for the wealthy.

I'd like to hear the arguments to this illustration:


2:57 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

I don't advocate torture. My point is that I think "Guantanamo=torture" is a red herring posited by people who don't think we should be fighting period, not just in a certain way.

Liberty is the right for people to determine their own fates? Ok, how was a Kurd or Shia supposed to determine their own fate under Saddam?

I guess we should just wait for them to overthrow their own governments, or (more likely) die trying. Like in North Korea, or, say, Iran.

So let's be clear about this: You do not advocate America using its unprecedented military power to help other's achieve liberty from oppressive regimes. I disagree, but that's certainly a valid viewpoint. I'd just rather you state that clearly than shotgun these arguments about torture or WMDs or whatever, since none of those things really make a difference to how you feel about the policy.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Sony said...

Just to bring us up to date on this. Erik and I think consensual forms of government are expnading and taking root in more countries, which is a good thing.

Ari thinks the expansion of consensual forms of government is a bad thing because, and this part I agree with, totalitarian dictators only give up power at the point of a gun and fledgling democracies like 50s Japan & Germany, and 90s Estonia, LIthuania, Poland, etc are only preserved by U.S. military gurantees.

So philisophically, Erik and I would agree there must be war (and all the attendent tragedies, atrocities and crimes), but Ari prefers that those embattled serfs overthrow the government on their own, die trying, or live miserable, short terrorized lives under totalitarian regimes because we're not going to help them; an isolationist par excellence.

I think that's a fair statement of where we stand in this debate.

6:32 PM  
Blogger REkz said...

> So philisophically, Erik and I would agree there must be war (and all the attendent tragedies, atrocities and crimes)


> but Ari prefers that those embattled serfs overthrow the government on their own, die trying, or live miserable, short terrorized lives under totalitarian regimes because we're not going to help them; an isolationist par excellence.

Not exactly. Uh, how about this:
a) the USA doesn't support these domineering totalitarian regimes with weapons for awhile, & maybe the people will have a chance to overthrow their leaders.
b) the USA can't invade countries it wants military or material holds into and then claim it's "overthrowing oppressive regimes"
c) if the USA is really doing something just and fair, the world will stand behind us. If it's violating another country's sovereignty for the wrong reasons, the world will let us know -- and the USA should listen, IMO.

> I think that's a fair statement of where we stand in this debate.

Now that I've had a chance to rep myself better, I feel more OK about this.

I should also say that less military spending and more social spending is also a significant thing to me.

If military spending continues similar to current levels, the USA is compelled to use the weapons stockpiles -- to replenish, to test, and to make billionaires some more money in weapons profits.

See SICKO, that film rocked! :)

4:10 AM  

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