Home > Regular Features > Monday Message Board

Monday Message Board

November 17th, 2015

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. Ivor
    November 17th, 2015 at 08:11 | #1

    According to Russian sources the terrorists appear to be financed from 40 countries, including some G20 member states.

    President Vladimir Putin provided Russian intelligence data on on the financing of Islamic units by private individuals from 40 countries including G20 nations.

    Russians have also supplied photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products.

    Putin said “The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,”

    You cannot defeat ISIS/DASH if you keep feeding them money. The problem is that the some nations funding their operations are allies of the United States.

    See: https://www.rt.com/news/322305-isis-financed-40-countries/

  2. Ikonoclast
    November 17th, 2015 at 09:17 | #2

    @Ivor

    Yes, there is plenty of evidence that “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS.

    “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror.” and ““Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.” – Reporter Josh Rogin 06.14.14, The Daily Beast.

    The greatest problem in all this is the USA’s confused and irrational foreign and military policies. The USA is making such a dreadful mess of everything it touches overseas (and much domestically) that it would be far better for the rest of the world AND for the USA if the USA became completely non-interventionist and sought to solve its domestic problems first. Of course, this would not cure the world’s problems but it would make them a lot less worse.

    This could lead me to many more reflections on global geostrategy but Monday Reflections is not the place.

  3. Uncle Milton
    November 17th, 2015 at 11:02 | #3

    Much of the Paris commentary in the left media, both mainstream and other, is a veritable festival of whataboutery. I suppose it’s to be expected, but IMO there are still a few absolutes in life, such as the requirement to unconditionally condemn mass murder, without qualification. New Matilda takes the prize on this occasion.

  4. sunshine
    November 17th, 2015 at 13:49 | #4

    It is hard to stop a fight once it has started .In a shocking failure of democracy over one million people marched here ,begging our Conservative leaders not to invade Iraq – but they did anyway, so now the good people have to help clean up. It seems so much easier to make fear than trust , so much easier to wreck than to build. That other people are dangerous and we should not trust them is a self fulfilling prophecy .Pauline Hanson wants a Royal Commission into Islam . Steve Price and Andrew Bolt called for a ground invasion of Syria on the radio last night. They said (at 8*10 pm on 3AW am693) that we need to be prepared to sacrifice our lives for our Christian god because our enemy is doing so for their god. Bolt also said it is impossible to screen refugee children. On the other hand Waleed Ali’s editorial from The Project last night has had over 10 million views.
    We are partly responsible for the mess so we must help to clean it up. I suggest only non military helping, and hope that the countries in the region can get it together to contain things. We must trust in our way of life and lead by example instead of playing straight into our enemies hands every time. Hopefully we arent headed for a world fenced off into ordered and chaotic zones – where we just fly bombing raids over the badlands whenever we get worried trouble is brewing there .A few wreckers can do a lot of damage [ on that point I cant believe zealots havent caused Paris style mayhem in the USA given the availability of guns ,maybe that proves the almost total lack of them in their Muslim community . It always seems to be Right wing Christians doing it there] .Also the media needs to stop calling terrorists ‘masterminds’ .What they do is not hard to do (apart from the fact that you die doing it).
    Troubling times indeed ,I hope the momentum does not become too great .Middle Eastern proverb ;- A fool can throw a pebble into a pond ,but 100 wise men(or women presumably) cannot stop the ripples.

  5. Ikonoclast
    November 17th, 2015 at 14:06 | #5

    @Uncle Milton

    Sure, just so long as we don’t forget to also condemn the much larger mass murder of Middle Eastern and North African people by the US and its allies. Estimates range from the 100,000s to several million. Over time, I think matters would calm down considerably if the West stopped doing that.

  6. J-D
    November 17th, 2015 at 14:11 | #6

    @Uncle Milton

    Requirement?

    Please fill in the blank in the following sentence:

    ‘If your purpose is to achieve ________, issuing condemnations is a good strategic choice.’

  7. Uncle Milton
    November 17th, 2015 at 14:22 | #7

    @J-D

    Let me rephrase:

    There are still a few absolutes in life, such as the requirement, if you are going to discuss mass murder, to unconditionally condemn it, without qualification.

  8. Uncle Milton
    November 17th, 2015 at 14:25 | #8

    @Ikonoclast

    When you say , “sure, just as long …”, then it’s not unconditional.

  9. Ikonoclast
    November 17th, 2015 at 15:35 | #9

    @Uncle Milton

    It’s our authorities and their uncritical supporters who make the conditional, one-sided condemnations by condemning their crimes against “us” but not our crimes against “them”. This contextual reality seems to missing from your characterisation of the situation.

  10. J-D
    November 17th, 2015 at 15:51 | #10

    @Uncle Milton

    Your rephrasing is not responsive to my question.

  11. Uncle Milton
    November 17th, 2015 at 16:53 | #11

    @Ikonoclast

    If you can’t bring yourself to unconditionally condemn mass murder because others can’t or won’t unconditionally condemn other mass murders then your argument is whataboutery par excellence.

  12. Douglas Hynd
    November 17th, 2015 at 17:30 | #12

    I unconditionally condemn mass murder by everyone who has committed it whereever and who ever. I also if I am not be hypocritical have to acknowledge that I have benefited from it in a variety of ways, starting with the occupation of Australia and therefore it would be hypocritical not to acknowledge that benefit and my subsequent implication at least to some degree in those same mass murders. it is nice to be able to be morally absolute and pure in one’s condemnations but the world isn’t constructed that way. No man as John Donne observed is an island

  13. Uncle Milton
    November 17th, 2015 at 17:44 | #13

    @Douglas Hynd

    I get the benefit part. Everyone who owns land in Australia is a receiver of stolen goods, not completely dissimilar to buying a stolen iPad in pub. But, implication?

  14. Ikonoclast
    November 17th, 2015 at 18:04 | #14

    @Uncle Milton

    “Mass murder” as defined by you? Is a bomber pilot who kills x hundred people a mass murderer no matter what the justification? Why latch on to just “mass” murder? Do you unconditionally condemn every murder in human history? Do you unconditionally consider every killing of a human by a human a murder as Gandhi did? In other words, how high is your moral high-horse? I will only be impressed if you evince a consistent Christ-ian, Gandhian or late Tolstoyan position of absolute pacifism in this matter. Anything less is whataboutery par excellence.

  15. Douglas Hynd
    November 17th, 2015 at 19:52 | #15

    Condemning is easy – blindness to the complex webs by which we are connected is an invitation to hypocrisy on a large scale and moral blindness. Solzhenitsyn that well known liberal lefty is pushing towards awareness of that complexity when he commented that
    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
    ? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

  16. Collin Street
    November 17th, 2015 at 21:15 | #16

    There are still a few absolutes in life, such as the requirement, if you are going to discuss mass murder, to unconditionally condemn it, without qualification.

    But this is stupid. “Murder” is defined as wrongful killing, and the question is thus begged.

  17. J-D
    November 18th, 2015 at 04:52 | #17

    @Uncle Milton

    Note that Douglas Hynd has issued the condemnation you mandated.

    Now, how is the world made better thereby?

  18. Uncle Milton
    November 18th, 2015 at 08:40 | #18

    @Collin Street

    Sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and make an assertion: it is wrongful to plan the shooting to death of hundreds of people who have have done you no harm and pose no threat to you (indeed, have nothing to do with you) in a concert hall and restaurants, and to execute that plan.

    If you don’t agree with that, tant pis.

  19. tony lynch
    November 18th, 2015 at 09:16 | #19

    Uncle Milton! A lesson in morals from a man who knows not the Golden Rule…

  20. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2015 at 09:24 | #20

    @Uncle Milton

    You are attempting to use outrage to quash analysis. Whilst deploring the mass murder of Parisians (and visitors), we should not forget to do the full analysis. Why is this happening? Do we (Westerners) bear some blame for the overall situation? Do we (as western nations) mass murder Arabs?

    The answers are that we as western nations do indeed bear much blame and that we do indeed mass murder Arabs and other peoples in the Middle East and elsewhere. We do this in much greater numbers too. These numbers are in the 100,000s to the millions. If we stopped mass murdering Arabs and others they would be a lot safer and we would be a bit safer too. If you can’t see these facts then tant pis.

  21. Ivor
    November 18th, 2015 at 09:46 | #21

    Uncle Milton :
    @Collin Street
    … it is wrongful to plan the shooting to death of hundreds of people who have have done you no harm and pose no threat to you (indeed, have nothing to do with you) in a concert hall and restaurants, and to execute that plan.

    Interesting and true, but our world is built on a history of killing millions of people who have done no harm and posed no threat as they attended concerts, restaurants, schools, hospitals, workplaces and traveled on their daily business.

  22. J-D
    November 18th, 2015 at 09:59 | #22

    @Uncle Milton

    ‘Sometimes you have to …’

    Which are the times when you have to, and which are the times when you don’t have to?

  23. Uncle Milton
    November 18th, 2015 at 11:45 | #23

    @J-D

    When it’s self-evident.

  24. Tim Macknay
    November 18th, 2015 at 12:45 | #24

    @Ikonoclast
    I could be wrong, but I suspect that what irks Uncle Milton is precisely the construction of “blame” that you’re presenting. In what way we do “we” bear some blame? If “westerners” are “partly to blame” for the actions of Western governments in killing people through military action in middle eastern countries, then the same logic would suggest that the mass of ordinary civilians living in Arab countries are “partly to blame” for the criminal actions of Islamist terrorists. Do you agree with that proposition? (I do not).

    If you are asserting that the some of the actions of Western Governments in waging war in the Middle East form part of (or in perhaps some cases the whole of) the motive for Islamists to engage in terrorist attacks against Western civilians, then we are in agreement. However that is an entirely different proposition from saying “we” are “to blame”.

  25. J-D
    November 18th, 2015 at 13:32 | #25

    @Uncle Milton

    If the assertion is ever self-evident, wouldn’t that mean it’s always self-evident? You can’t seriously suggest, can you, that we should all devote our time to the continuous repetition of self-evident assertions?

    I don’t think you’ve thought this through clearly enough. Possibly — I’m guessing here — what’s lurking at the back of your mind, incompletely articulated, is an idea something like ‘Every time we learn of a mass murder we should condemn it’ or ‘Every time we mention a mass murder we should condemn it’. Is that anything like what you’re thinking? Or does seeing those thoughts articulated help you to articulate a clearer formulation of your own thought?

  26. Uncle Milton
    November 18th, 2015 at 14:38 | #26

    @Tim Macknay

    What irks me is whataboutery, especially in such egregious cases. It is a mode of thought that is morally cowardly and intellectually bankrupt.

  27. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2015 at 15:09 | #27

    Well, Uncle Milton (UM) has not complained about my construction of blame, only that I bring up the issue which he then calls a “whatabout” as if that appellation ends all argument. Thus it seems that Uncle Milton is not concerned if;

    (a) it is true or not that Western nations have caused hundreds of thousands up to millions of Arab deaths (many by mass murder via illegal wars and air strikes); or
    (b) whether it is our elites or “us” as the common people or both who are to blame.

    I can only assume UM simply does not care about these questions or does not think that they have any explanatory power or moral bearing on the entire situation. UM wants to take a narrow focus and rule all other considerations “out of court”. This is not the way to understand the full situation empirically or morally. He is assuming that our moral and intellectual comprehension is not large enough and encompassing enough to say “Yes, this is very wrong. All that over there was and is also very wrong. That over there demonstrably played a role in causing some proportion of this over here.”

    Not being able to comprehend and openly say that is a morally and intellectually bankrupt position, IMO.

  28. Tim Macknay
    November 18th, 2015 at 16:52 | #28

    @Ikonoclast
    Well, I have no idea if your assumptions about what Uncle Milton thinks are correct (he can speak for himself), but it seems to me that your construction of how to approach the situation is far too vague to be of much assistance in understanding “the full situation empirically or morally”, as you put it. It also seems to me that there is no construction of the situation that can reasonably hold the victims of the Paris terrorist attack morally culpable for it.

  29. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2015 at 17:04 | #29

    @Tim Macknay

    I did not make a construction which held the specific victims responsible for the specific attack. But I notice that you and Uncle Milton seem to pass over in silence the fact that the West has mass murdered hundreds of thousands (at least) of Arabs. This fact seems to not enter into your consciousness. The fact that this mass murder by the West does play a role in engendering resistance and reprisals seems to not enter into your thinking either. The situation is empirically and morally crystal clear. Only self-delusion or false consciousness on a massive scale can occlude such obvious facts.

  30. Tim Macknay
    November 18th, 2015 at 17:40 | #30

    @Ikonoclast

    The fact that this mass murder by the West does play a role in engendering resistance and reprisals seems to not enter into your thinking either.

    Nothing I have said warrants your assumption about what has and has not “entered into my thinking”. Furthermore, your assumption is directly contradicted my earlier statement above. To save you the trouble of checking, I said [at 24]:

    “If you are asserting that the some of the actions of Western Governments in waging war in the Middle East form part of (or in perhaps some cases the whole of) the motive for Islamists to engage in terrorist attacks against Western civilians, then we are in agreement.”

    I did not make a construction which held the specific victims responsible for the specific attack.

    On the contrary, you made the assertion that “we” “do indeed bear much blame” for “the overall situation” and that “we” “do indeed mass murder Arabs”. Your use of the word “we”, and your related references to “Westerners” and “Western Nations” can reasonably be understood to imply that all “westerners” (i.e. the citizens or residents of “Western Nations”) are morally culpable for Western military attacks in the middle east, and therefore of Islamist terrorist attacks against western civilians, which you characterise as “resistance and reprisals” (expressions which carry the connotation that such acts are justified, or at least provoked). This necessarily includes the victims of the Paris attack, who were (as far as I am aware) predominantly “westerners”.

    Of course, it is possible that you did not mean that, but your discourse is so vague that it is difficult to ascertain precisely what you meant. However, the interpretation above is base don more-or-less common understandings of the meanings of expressions like “westerners”, “Western nations” and “blame”.

    More generally it seems to me that vagueness and ambiguity is something that plagues discourse about subjects such as this, and does no service to understanding. I think that claims that the situation is “crystal clear”, when based on such ambiguities, struggle to be taken seriously.

    On a personal note, I’d appreciate it if in future you did me the favour of reading my comments before bandying about accusations like “self-delusion” and “false consciousness”. When you do otherwise it creates the impression that you are engaging in empty posturing.

  31. sunshine
    November 18th, 2015 at 19:54 | #31

    In the real world all that matters is that its not too hard for evil doers or bored youth to find stories to spark their anger ,boost their confidence and eventually break their world open. Google can tell me bad things happened in lots of places .In the late 1800’s in The Congo Free State in Africa, King Leopold of Belgium managed to get the population to go from 20 m to 10 m, mostly due to wanting rubber for the 1% in Europe. In 1900 Africa had a population of 90 – 133 m . Thats over 100 years ago and I dont know if Congo was Muslim then, but there are plenty of dubious colonial efforts in many Muslim countries anyway I bet. Youngsters can be easily inspired and have a long history of racing off to war. As someone said above I probably owe some kind of debt to those colonial crimes far way, and those on home soil, even now here in contemporary Aust. I would feel ripped off to be shot for it though. I think we could settle things by cage fighting. Each mass movement (including governments) the world over could nominate one champion, it would be a massive knock out final tournament preceded by a round robin stage …….

  32. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2015 at 20:18 | #32

    @Tim Macknay

    It is worth wondering where you would assign culpability if any and where you would desist in assigning culpability. You will only go so far as to say “some of the actions of Western Governments in waging war in the Middle East form part of etc.” as above. You studiously avoid talking about Western culpability in any form at all. So you apparently accept no argument that certain countries of the West have waged certain illegal, unjust and immoral wars against certain Arab countries. For example, Gulf War 2 was demonstrably all of illegal, unjust and immoral. It was based on false pretexts too as has been 100% proven. I refer to the WMD fabrications. It is true that France did not participate in GW2. It is also true that France is not historically blameless in all of its dealings with North Africa or the Arab world; all of which adds further complexities.

    But you want to gloze over and avoid all of these issues. As GW2 was illegal, unjust and immoral then all the Iraqi and civilian deaths entailed by that war proper and its related actions amount to mass murder. In fact, the numbers and methodology start to qualify for genocide.

    Now, who is to blame, culpable or guilty for these mass murders or genocide? Pick your preferred terms but name the persons or groups. At the very least, the government executive branch(es) and all military personnel who directly took part and delivered fatal weaponry are at fault; are to blame, are culpable and morally guilty. “We were only following orders.”? Sorry, since the Nuremberg Trials this defence is discredited.

    At the most, all legal-age adults, compos mentis at the time(s) of said events, in said aggressor countries were/are in a distributed manner, morally guilty for permitting their governments to act that way. We did not try hard enough to stop them. So, I bear some of the guilt too. We are guilty, not under standard law (legalism), but morally. This does not mean that I support killing as some form of representative collective punishment for such morally guilty parties, if they be in fact all morally guilty which is not at all established under my analysis in any case. You seem to be drawing the false conclusion that because I judge we (the West) bear some guilt and blame that I am somehow supporting reciprocal murders as punishment. Any such implication is absurd.

    It is possible to assign blame or responsibility without accompanying it with punishment or condoning some punishment from another source. It can be accompanied by forgiveness (for example), by education and especially and most importantly by reforming ourselves and our nations. The important thing is to stop acting this way (the way we have been acting since the beginnings of colonialism and imperialism). We should now have enough historical and “pan-human” consciousness as opposed to the false consciousness of the past (patriotism, jingoism, racism, class-ism and so on). We really have no excuse now. Education and communication have got to the point where we cannot please ignorance any more.

    The important thing, in the context of this discussion, is for certain significant nations of the West to stop attacking the Middle East and its peoples. Almost all the people of the world will benefit in myriad ways if we (underlined) stop doing this. It is us collectively doing it by acts of commission and/or omission. We must collectively change.

  33. J-D
    November 19th, 2015 at 05:49 | #33

    @Ikonoclast

    Please fill in the blank in the following sentence:

    ‘If you want to achieve __________, assigning culpability is a good strategic choice.’

  34. Uncle Milton
    November 19th, 2015 at 11:09 | #34

    In today’s Islamist terror news, from the Guardian

    At least 15 people have been killed after two female suicide bombers, one said to be aged as young as 11, blew themselves up at a busy mobile phone market in north-east Nigeria, a day after more than 30 were killed in a bomb blast.

    We in the West should be ashamed for provoking this attack by the Resistance.

  35. Tim Macknay
    November 19th, 2015 at 12:40 | #35

    @Ikonoclast

    You studiously avoid talking about Western culpability in any form at all.

    Yes, in fact I made no claims about culpability of any kind in that statement, “Western” or otherwise – partly because I don’t think abstractions like “the West” are meaningful moral categories, and partly because I’m not in the habit of making sweeping moral claims. I don’t regard that as a character defect.

    So you apparently accept no argument that certain countries of the West have waged certain illegal, unjust and immoral wars against certain Arab countries.

    I neither said nor implied anything of the sort. The assumption is completely unwarranted.

    But you want to gloze [sic] over and avoid all of these issues.

    Nope. Again, I neither said nor implied anything of the sort. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s some sort of projection on your part.

    But it seems I prompted you to start interrogating your own assertions, and so you started to look at the actual moral agents (i.e. people) involved. You also appear to have tacitly acknowledged that it is not actually “crystal clear”. So that’s something.

    Now, who is to blame, culpable or guilty for these mass murders or genocide? Pick your preferred terms but name the persons or groups. At the very least, the government executive branch(es) and all military personnel who directly took part and delivered fatal weaponry are at fault; are to blame, are culpable and morally guilty. “We were only following orders.”? Sorry, since the Nuremberg Trials this defence is discredited.

    The statement quoted above loosely resembles my own picture of who bears moral responsibility for Western military actions in the middle east, both those that fit the description of “mass murder” (or war crimes) and those that do not (I don’t dispute that many actions by US and allied forces in various middle eastern countries do fit that description, btw).

    I say “loosely” because in many respects it is still too vague – for example, if “the executive branch” is responsible, does this include, say, all the bureaucrats and health care personnel working in government health care departments? (They are part of the executive branch). I would assign responsibility more narrowly, to senior political decision-makers and the advisers and bureaucrats who specifically enabled the military actions, rather than to all the personnel in the executive branch.

    I agree that individual soldiers and aviators do bear moral responsibility for their actions in wartime, and to their extent that their actions are morally reprehensible, they are morally guilty. Not all military actions are morally reprehensible however, even in illegal wars. It would be necessary to break down the actions in much more detail to arrive at the degree of moral culpability of individual soldiers. There are further considerations of course, such as the reasonableness and justness (or otherwise) of the aims and objectives of various military campaigns, but I’m not inclined to delve into what is a not-at-all straightforward subject any more than I have already.

    For the record, I don’t believe that anything US or allied armies have done in the middle east in the wars of the last two decades or so meets the description of genocide. I can’t help suspecting that you’re sufficiently familiar with the concept of genocide that you actually realise that too, but that you couldn’t help throwing it in for some reason, perhaps for rhetorical effect.

    Personally, I find the idea that all adult inhabitants of a country should be held morally responsible for the actions of a comparatively powerful few to be untenable, and implicitly totalitarian, even Stalinist. From your statements, it appears that this is the formulation you prefer, however. At least you acknowledge that your analysis has not established it. But clearly our moral conceptions differ considerably.

    You seem to be drawing the false conclusion that because I judge we (the West) bear some guilt and blame that I am somehow supporting reciprocal murders as punishment. Any such implication is absurd.

    No. I accept that that wasn’t what you meant (I acknowledged that it might not be what you meant in my earlier comment).

    I have already explained the basis for my interpretation of your earlier, extremely vague statements. I didn’t make any assumptions about punishment, but I did interpret your earlier remarks to mean that actions such as the Paris attack were partly or wholly justified, and that the victims (being Westerners) were partly to blame. That’s not the same thing as having drawn a “false conclusion”, nor is it an absurd implication. It was a reasonable interpretation of your earlier remarks. You haven’t really contradicted it in your subsequent statements, either.

    It’s interesting to look at your reasoning throughout your comment. You begin an analysis of the actual moral agents involved in middle eastern military campaigns, and go some way towards a meaningful assignation or moral responsibility, but then you abruptly return to your broad, ambiguous abstractions, talking about “us” in some vague collective sense. Strange.

    But I am curious about one thing, which perhaps also animates Uncle Milton’s irritation with “whataboutery”. You must be aware that, superficially at least, the propensity to immediately start talking about “Western” culpability for war crimes and other iniquities in response to a terrorist incident such as the Paris attack appears to be an effort to excuse or justify the attack. If that is not the reason for the impulse to change the subject, what is the reason for it?

    And a related question: in your comments to me you’ve repeatedly made the insinuation that my lack of “condemnation” of Western military campaigns in the middle east constitutes some sort of deliberate avoidance, and is somehow a reflection of a moral failing on my part (I haven’t “condemned” the Paris attack either btw). What’s that all about, anyway?

  36. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2015 at 16:01 | #36

    @Tim Macknay

    Hmmm, a lot to go through. I will touch on just some aspects, not all, for the sake of brevity.

    Quite probably, overall, I am somewhat in the wrong in my attacks on you, mainly by misrepresenting you. Now, for details which might explain my position (and touchy reaction) better.

    1. Yes, I know the standard use of “gloss” in that context. I deliberately substituted the archaic word “gloze” which can have a number of connotations. The usual meanings are “to make excuses for”, “use ingratiating, fawning, subservient or sycophantic language” or simply “to make comments” which is close to making a “gloss”. So the use of the word “gloze” was a snide personal attack. I apologise. (The standard Miltonic reference would be to refer to S***n’s “glozing lies”: “Paradise Lost”.)

    A common right wing tactic is the use of a total wall of hypocritical denial about the killing thousands or more of others (enemies) then to kick up a great hullabaloo when some of “our own” really meaning representatives or useful pawns (civilian or military) die. I see red at this hypocrisy, at this “bait and switch” and I loathe it. You probably know from my general posts that I loathe elites and particularly capitalist-oligarchic and corporate-managerialist elites. I make absolutely no apologies for this. I believe they are by far the worst, most dangerous and most exploitative people on the planet. I probably saw red at you by assuming you were taking or implicitly supporting that position as a sympathiser with capitalist oligarchs and corporate-managerialist elites. I contend only with words and ideas by the way. I am otherwise harmless and peaceful.

    2. On some matters we are probably closer than my intemperate arguments would suggest. On other matters I think we do remain a very considerable distance apart. My progress into issues of collective guilt or (better expressed) collective responsibility is not as abrupt or unsignaled as you suggest. It is consistent with my political philosophy, expressed many times on this blog, which is socialist and collectivist. I believe that good stuff and bad stuff is to some very considerable extent made and owned in common. The accruing benefits and “costs” are generally correctly viewed as morally owned in common.

    However, a belief in the principle of collective production and ownership of the good and the bad (the bad needing censure even it be collective self-censure and allocation of responsibility) is not the same in any way as advocating collective punishment. In this case (France) it (the attack) would be more accurately termed selective punishment of an unrepresentative sample. The unrepresentative sample is unrepresentative in so many ways it would take a chapter of a book to elucidate them. Even if a full complement of “the guilty” could be assembled there are gradations and attenuations of guilt. Honestly, how should the USA, UK, France, Australia etc. be punished for illegal and unwarranted attacks on the Middle East? The answer is reparations. We should all pay through extra taxes funding non-military aid in the necessarily large quantities for reconstruction. You break it, you pay for it. We broke a lot of it. Not all of it that is true but a lot of it.

    3. I did not justify or excuse the attack. As you say, getting that kind of message out of my critique is superficial. However, what I did was explain the attacks to some degree. I am not being original in this. There are logical and humanly understandable reasons why these radicals hate us and are conducting reply attacks. They are indeed reply attacks. Our drones (I know you hate the collective noun but they see them as our drones and they are in a sense right) have killed their citizens indiscriminately.

    4. I do see part of the philosophical or ideological problem as this whole Western (especially US) insistence on an extreme doctrine of individualism rather than seeing us as to some extent social collectives. The individualism doctrine is really handy for privatising profits (reallocating surplus value privately in Marxist terminology). It is also really handy for denying shared responsibility. I think that is a blind spot and source of logical error in your thinking and all like ideological thinking. That is my opinion and perception anyway. You may agree or disagree. The premise that there is not a degree of collectivism in the production of goods and “bads” is a false premise IMO. A lot of false deductions follow from that false premise.

  37. Tim Macknay
    November 19th, 2015 at 16:36 | #37

    @Ikonoclast
    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    Yes, we’ll have to disagree on the issue of the locus of moral responsibility. For mine, a broad collective responsibility for many things is untenable because I can’t see how responsibility for a particular act or outcome can be reasonably assigned to people who have had no part in the act and/or no real capacity to influence the outcome. I don’t really see this as arising particularly from an ideological individualism, but rather from a conception of causality and the capacity for people to act in the world. It does locate moral responsibility in individuals (acting alone or in groups), rather than abstract collective entities, though.

    I also note that you have said that your own view is related to an ideological collectivism, so I don’t really see how you arrived at the view that my position is based on a logical error, as opposed to an ideological difference. Although it’s possible you see the ideological difference itself as a logical error. But no matter. We can agree to disagree.

  38. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2015 at 18:01 | #38

    @Tim Macknay

    Yes, this gets really difficult. I mean the “issue of the locus of moral responsibility” It reaches into just about every area one could name; philosophy, science, religion, sociology, political economy, ideology and so on.

    The answer we each get really depends on our initial premises. And all of us unavoidably start at unproven or a priori premises (if that is correct terminology).

    For example, I start from premises which would state that;

    (a) I feel 99.99% certain that I have a consciousness and that it is something real.
    (b) I feel only 50%/50% certain on the issue of whether I (or any human) has free will.
    (c) I feel 99.99% certain that I do not have a “soul”. (I am a materialist monist.)

    Okay, the 99.99% measurements are probably false precision but you get my drift.

    You can see straight away that my uncertainty about free will immediately give me difficulty in assigning fully personal moral responsibility. The full gamut of my arguments about whether we have free will, or not, would talk about practical constraints to free will all the way from capability, range of action, peer influence, social influence, mental competence, instincts, compulsions, fears, terrors, phobias and then right up to philosophical questions about free will. With the latter I mean is the world one of determinism or indeterminism? I would answer indeterminism from quantum indeterminism working its way up and having real effects at the classical physical level. Determinism I think would definitely preclude free will. But scientifically demonstrated indeterminism does not in itself justify a theory or premise of free will as opposed to say something we might call “stochastic will” or stochastic determination which latter I hope can call colloquially “chance with probability patterns”.

    Not so long ago, I sat on a jury which found a fellow guilty of multiple r a p e s but also not guilty of a few specific r a p e s and other charges like a charge of t o r t u r e and a deprivation of liberty charge for various technical and evidentiary reasons. I was in full agreement with my fellow jurors on all major, substantive points so the verdict (as is necessary in any criminal case) was unanimous. I found it both interesting and challenging to confront the issue of such egregious apparent personal moral guilt and the assigning of it to this fellow with consequences. At a practical level it was important to do the sensible, humane and just thing and to protect other people, expressly women, walking about in free civil society. This guy really had to be “sent up the river” for a long jail stretch. I was and am very thankful we don’t have capital punishment for r a p e or anything else. That would made the case almost infinitely harder for me and everyone else I think.

    At another level, I could see a whole lot of other things. The woman was sad, lonely, isolated, weak and very foolish (at the general time of events). But none of those are crimes deserving of r a p e or anything else. Indeed they should elicit helpful and protective responses not what happened which was ghastly. The crescendo-ing dynamic would have ended in murder almost certainly if the police has not located them just in time. She was a missing person by this stage sought in two states.The guy was seriously maladjusted, prone to violence, possibly somewhere on the autism spectrum or some other spectrum and seemingly prone to disturbed religious ideation. The woman had the d e v i l in her and it had to beaten out of her according to her evidence of his statements and actions at the time. That kind of thing. Yet the defence did not run any attempt at insanity or diminished responsibility. Probably at law it just wouldn’t have washed. And the judge of course directs the jury on law.

    So all in all though legal guilt looks neat in the end (and needs to be for various practical, social and even philosophical reasons) moral guilt is far more complex. That is why I tend to “wash” moral guilt a bit wider and put some of the stain through all of us. It’s perhaps a rather Christian concept of guilt even though I am not religious. We are all guilty (of what and which precisely is another question) when held to a high enough moral standard.

  39. J-D
    November 20th, 2015 at 11:29 | #39

    @Ikonoclast

    Nearly all nations have been involved at one time or another in attacks on the people of other nations or their own, with large-scale death tolls. The idea that the actions of Western nations are more important than the actions of others is typical of a kind of Western-centric thinking.

  40. Ikonoclast
    November 20th, 2015 at 12:01 | #40

    @J-D

    I did not assume our actions are more important. Our actions clearly still have significant importance so they should be amended if possible. The USA, having been the major superpower since 1945, and having been very involved in many “foreign adventures” since WW2 has been the main actor now for 70 years in illegal, immoral and clearly necessary wars. In that context, it is important for the US and its Western allies to amend their ways. If there are two bad citizens in the street it still makes a difference if one bad citizen reforms.

  41. Tim Macknay
    November 20th, 2015 at 12:01 | #41

    @Ikonoclast

    It’s perhaps a rather Christian concept of guilt even though I am not religious.

    It sounds pretty Catholic to me 😉 (I had 12 years of Catholic schooling).

  42. Sen
    November 20th, 2015 at 13:59 | #42

    Pretty sure this is a silly question but I’ll ask it anyway.

    Prof Quiggin is proud of not having the GST on fresh food, so I imagine he may be against any increase as well.

    However, given that junk food always has the GST and fresh food does not, would spreading the GST to healthy food lower the price of healthy food in comparison to junk food?

    I suspect not. I had to ask though. If not then, what explains the price difference?

  43. Ikonoclast
    November 20th, 2015 at 14:12 | #43

    @Tim Macknay

    It’s also very Calvinist. Standard Christian theology I would say though I can’t say from what era; from medieval times at least I guess.

    Of course, I don’t buy into the original sin concept except from a certain naturalistic or “nature of humans” angle. We are born “naturally selfish” one might say because babies are pretty much only aware of self and struggle to recognise and differentiate the other.

    However, I do buy into the idea that psychological pathologies (which people might sometimes label as moral badness) do have, in at least some cases, a social dynamic not just an individual dynamic. Finally, how we behave as groups does have a group dynamic and often implies some group or collective responsibility IMO.

  44. J-D
    November 20th, 2015 at 15:26 | #44

    @Ikonoclast

    You wrote ‘The important thing, in the context of this discussion, is for certain significant nations of the West to stop attacking the Middle East and its peoples.’

    You didn’t write ‘An important thing is …’

    You wrote ‘The important thing is …’

    The choice of the definite article has no meaning unless it is to suggest that the thing you refer to is more important than other things. The thing you are referring to consists of the actions of Western nations, so part of the meaning of the statement is that those actions of Western nations are more important than other things (including the actions of non-Western nations and also the actions of non-state actors).

  45. Ikonoclast
    November 20th, 2015 at 21:16 | #45

    @J-D

    You keep changing the focus of the argument. You wrote:

    “Nearly all nations have been involved at one time or another in attacks on the people of other nations or their own, with large-scale death tolls. The idea that the actions of Western nations are more important than the actions of others is typical of a kind of Western-centric thinking.”

    You changed the focus to a global focus and all of world history to assert that my thinking was typical of Western-centric thinking.

    In that context I replied that I did not regard the West as all-important in all world history (for negative war-making or any other things).

    Then you change the focus back to the Middle East and assert I said “THE most important thing etc.” This indeed I did BUT in the context of the contemporary Middle East. The West is the most important external interferer in the M.E. and had been so for about the last 100 years or a bit longer.

    Can you see the difference in these statements of mine?

    (A) The West is not the most important actor in all of world history.
    (B) The West has been the most important external interfering political and military actor in M.E. affairs for the last hundred years approximately.

    Given B above, ‘The important thing, in the context of this discussion, is for certain significant nations of the West to stop attacking the Middle East and its peoples.’

    My statements (A&B) are not logically contradictory in any way.

  46. J-D
    November 21st, 2015 at 08:20 | #46

    @Ikonoclast

    Your statement that the West has been the most important external interfering political and military actor in Middle East affairs for the last hundred years approximately is itself a change of the focus of the argument. You are inserting that statement into a discussion which before that had a different focus.

  47. Ikonoclast
    November 21st, 2015 at 09:44 | #47

    Now you have me confused. What do you contend was the different focus or initial focus of either the original discussion of all parties or our sub-discussion within that? Please refer to either (or both) of those two discussions you consider most germane.

  48. J-D
    November 21st, 2015 at 14:32 | #48

    @Ikonoclast

    Uncle Milton commented on events in Paris, on reactions to them, and on the subject of mass murder in general.

  49. Ikonoclast
    November 21st, 2015 at 15:24 | #49

    @J-D

    And I referred to the much larger and more regular mass murders committed by certain Western nations in the Middle East over a very considerable period. It seems to me I remained in context and on topic.

  50. J-D
    November 21st, 2015 at 17:08 | #50

    @Ikonoclast

    You changed the focus. The focus of Uncle Milton’s comments was not on mass murders committed by Western nations, nor on mass murders committed in the Middle East.

    Uncle Milton commented on A, B, and C; you commented on D; I commented on C; and you complained that I was changing the focus.

  51. Ikonoclast
    November 21st, 2015 at 17:20 | #51

    @J-D

    Are you more interested in discovering or learning about truth or most probable truth (where that is possible) or are you interested in winning ludicrous debating points by egregiously specious reasoning? I certainly have my opinion on that point. Occasionally, I delude myself into believing you care about objective truths but I am almost always disappointed. That’s my last comment to you on this thread.

  52. J-D
    November 23rd, 2015 at 07:28 | #52

    @Ikonoclast

    And it’s a comment which is not calculated to learn about truth or most probable truth, but it is a comment which is calculated to win a ludicrous debating point by egregiously specious reasoning.

  53. ZM
    November 25th, 2015 at 11:12 | #53

    On the observation that this year News Limited is changing its climate change position, today The Herald Sun has a good all piece on the effects of climate change on children around the world and the upcoming climate change talks in Paris.

    “Almost 690 million of the world’s 2.3 billion children live in areas most exposed to climate change, facing higher rates of death, poverty and disease from global warming, UNICEF said yesterday. Nearly 530 million children live in countries hardest hit by high floods and tropical storms, mostly in Asia.

    The most urgent task is for world governments to agree on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, said Mr Rees, but action is also needed on the national level to deal with the impact.”

  54. November 27th, 2015 at 13:11 | #54

    I’m sorry if this has already been discussed here, but there is a post on the blog asymptosis about the estimation of the goods markets and the assets markets in the US, with a possible interpretation that GDP is right out. Does anyone have any comments on this?

    http://www.asymptosis.com/is-gdp-wildly-underestimating-gdp.html

    thanks, alex

Comments are closed.