From: Wim Nusselder (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Jan 23 2005 - 15:52:37 GMT
Thanks for keeping so good track of what I wrote to you before my holidays!
I wrote 23 Dec 2004 10:09:02 +0100:
'You should know from our earlier exchanges that I do not consider crime in
general and terrorism in particular a biological pattern of value. It is not
You replied 19 Jan 2005 11:48:36 -0500 (without referring to the second
'I go along with Pirsig on terrorism having its roots in biological
The quote you give from Lila chapter 24 refers to more ordinary criminality
than the terrorism we were discussing (even if he characterizes it as 'a
reversion to rule by terror, violence and gang death'). It is a matter of
interpretation whether his explanation of that kind of criminality is
applicable to the kind of Islamist terrorism we see now.
Moreover: my argument for not considering (most) crime and terrorism
biological patterns of value ('it is not genetically hardwired') is also
based on what Pirsig wrote: In his annotation (nr. 3?) to a discussion about
the distinctions between the levels in Lila's Child he writes: 'Life is
matter that has been configured by DNA. The distinction is very sharp.' and
: 'In the MOQ all organisms are objective. They exist in the material world.
All societies are subjective. They exist in the mental world. Again, the
distinction is very sharp. For example, the "President of the U.S." is a
social pattern. No objective scientific instrument can distinguish a
President of the U.S. from anyone else.'
You apparently prefer the MoQ of 'Lila', without sharp definitions and
boundaries of levels. I prefer the MoQ of Pirsig in 'Lila's Child'. I do not
always consider his definitions the best possible ones. Standing on the
shoulders of a giant, we can make small improvements...
I you want to stick to 'Lila', that is the end of our discussion. If you
agree to take into account 'Lila's Child' and do some interpretation and
discuss possible improvements, I ask would want to ask you whether you can
describe an objective scientific instrument that can distinguish between
terrorism intended to produce Islamist rule (the Islamist 'jihad') and a
foreign policy that includes large scale bombardments of countries intended
to produce freedom, let's call it 'Bush's jihad for freedom'.
I wrote 23 Dec:
'Social security systems (starting historically from the solidarity within
extented families and developing through solidarity within for instance
religious communities to national level systems and international disaster
relief) have also always been present as instruments of conversation between
(potential) criminals and (healthy) societies trying to contain them. Pirsig
doesn't mention whether his frustrated professor tried that.'
You replied 19 Jan:
'His frustrated professor said he "tried everything" which one can presume
included carrots although not specifically stated. .'
Does that -according to you- prove the point that sticks are the only means
of communication between higher and lower quality patterns of value and that
carrots are irrelevant??
I wrote 23 Dec:
'The key to reducing terrorism is indeed offering alternatives to potential
terrorists, BEFORE they feel even semi-resentment, not beating the
terrorists themselves or blocking their potential sources of the most
dangerous weapons. Occupation may seem necessary if you are too late with
offering alternatives AND if the occupied country is indeed the direct
source of terrorism, which wasn't the case with Iraq. If you DO choose for
beating rogue states (potentially) supportive of terrorism and for blocking
sources of WMDs, you can't afford to leave alone countries like Syria, Iran,
North Korea, Pakistan etc..'
You replied 19 Jan:
'You're right about that. Our current administration is not about to "leave
those countries alone."'
I'm glad you agree with what I wrote 23 Dec. Not leaving alone other states
that tyrannize their subjects was certainly a positive element in your
president's inauguration speech. Also that in most cases he will choose
diplomatic means to do so. Condoleezza Rice's first statements as Secretary
of State were also greeted positively (with some reservations of course) in
the Dutch press.
I wrote 23 Dec:
'It would be strange if someone like you, so much opposed to a strong
government within the USA (feeling it hampers freedom and democracy there),
would promote foreign occupation as THE means to create democracy and free
You replied 19 Jan:
'You call it "occupation". I call it "liberation". As Pirsig rightfully
explains, force must be met with force.'
Most Iraqis now experience it as "occupation". How you and I call it seems
less relevant to me.
My point -which you did't answer yet- was about the seeming inconsistency
between your appreciation of the USA government using violence in and
without USA territory. How can violence serve freedom and democracy when
applied to Iraqis and hamper them when applied to Americans? Or stated
otherwise: How can a government serving a society and using a stick against
threats to that society (as seen from the perspective of that society)
distinguish between a threat from below (lower quality patterns of value)
and a threat from above (higher quality patterns of value)? It needs some
kind of definition of 'lower' and 'higher' and just a reference to a quote
from 'Lila' won't help...
You wrote 19 Jan:
'It's not so much the values as the pragmatic results. Your "solidarity" is
rapidly disintegrating in the Netherlands under pressures from your Muslim
immigrants, and the trillions of dollars transferred in this country from
the productive members of society to the poor has not only failed to
eliminate poverty, but in many cases made the lives of the poor worse.'
I don't see rapid disintegration of solidarity in the Netherlands. Forces to
reduce social security here result from economic depression rather than from
Muslim (and other) immigration.
I agree that income transfer doesn't elimate poverty created by a market
system that favours the have's over the have-not's. Some of the difference
in opportunities between have's and have-not's can be compensated by more
effort by the have-not's, but not all. (And no, other government
interference cannot eliminate such poverty either. Like you I'm not in
favour of too much government regulation of the economy.) What income
transfer CAN do, is keep the have-not's from taking in criminal ways what
they can't get with more constructive effort. How much income transfer that
requires may differ between societies. In the Netherlands income may be less
effort-related than in the USA, because the Dutch value income security
somewhat higher than Americans.
As for pragmatic results: how about the much higher prison population in the
USA that fails to eliminate criminality? Maybe we need less prisions because
we have more social security?
With friendly greetings,
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