MD jihad for freedom

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2005 - 15:52:37 GMT

  • Next message: Ron Winchester: "RE: MD Further comments to Matt"

    Dear Platt,

    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
    genetically hardwired.'
    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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