Sunday, March 05, 2006

a lone voice in the wilderness


The truth has a way of seeming simplistic. When Bill Kristol says that the Iraq war has been disaterous because of Rumsfeld's poor planning and becuase it wasn't fought hard enough, this is designed to end the line of debate through sheer audaciousness. There is much consideration within the study of memetics given to biases: how things like familiarity, reliability and 'common sense' form our decision-making ability. The lack of emotional nuance in text makes much of the blogsphere both neutral to these telling clues and thus, more capable of being misunderstood. Realizing that everyone has a bias, although that this term is not loaded, the true danger is the covert bias. Transparency of bias is key to some of the rarest values in our entire political landscape: authenticity, consistency and trust. Identity politics are swiftly fading while personality politics continue apace. With just about every policy proposal from either side having been reframed and remixed to death in the American consciousness, more and more attention will be given in the future to thought leaders with non-obvious viewpoints, ideas and constituency. But this brings the classic problem of libertarians: how to run a party of individuals?

This reminds me of the 2nd season of one of my favorite television shows, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Based on the 1995 movie of the same name, the series revolves around a cyborg counterterrorism unit. As the subtitle shows, the tv series dealt much more in-depth than the (already philosophically-weighty) movie with themes of consciousness, memory and individuality. A stand-alone complex is a curious term for a copycat crime with no original inspiration, which shows you how otaku complicated this show is. So in the second season, the initial heavies are an individualist terrorist group, each of which autonomously commits violent acts to protest a massive refugee problem in a future post-WWIII Japan, lead by a handsome ex-commando who had been adopted by the refugee community. But things get interesting for the individualist argument when a second antagonist shows up, in the form of a government official who is also an individualist but using the refugee cause to manipulate the government and the CTU.

It also reminds of the phrase 'trying to herd cats'. I bring this up in relation to a great piece of honesty over at the Fray on Slate by ShiekingViolet:

First of all, the Left needs to come to terms with the limitations and failures of identity politics. As much as we prefer cultural diversity to conformity, and as much as we generally prefer to sympathize with the powerless rather than with the establishment, we need to be willing to stand up and defend the superiority of our values to those of the radical mullahs. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. We believe in equal opportunity for men and women of all races. We believe in liberal democracy. And we will only welcome people into our countries who share these minimum values. We value diversity in art, music, cuisine, personal expression, religious belief, and political philosophy, and we really don't care what you do in the bedroom. But if you've got a problem with liberal democracy and human rights, then we've got a problem with you. And we aren't afraid to fight when we must.

Second, the Right needs to come to terms with the limitations and failures of military action. No matter how deeply they believe that we're facing a clash of civilizations, no matter how strongly they prefer tough talk to diplomacy and military power to soft power, and no matter how much they prefer our traditional values to cultural diversity, they need to accept that millions of Muslims already live in our midst and most of them want to peacefully coexist with us. They can't defeat radical Islam by intimidating it into submission or invading Arab dictatorships and attempting to impose liberal democracy from the outside. The only people who benefit from a direct, violent confrontation between the West and the Islamic world are the radical mullahs who wish to coerce moderate Muslims into choosing Islamic solidarity over Western values. It would only succeed in encouraging the allies we need the most to take sides against us.

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