File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 40

Date: Sun, 07 Oct 2001 18:58:23 +0100
Subject: Re: Different approach to terrorist threat


I have a great deal of sympathy for this message - however I don't agree 
that the US government has been moving slowly and deliberately, as far 
as I can tell the G8 states have been acting hysterically, foolishly and 
with a wanton disregard for human life.... Not that the modern state has 
ever shown any regard for a human life.


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>As I have stated before, I think to the extent that it can be shown Bid
>Laden was involved in these acts of terrorism, retaliation is
>necessary.  I think the Taliban is a pernicious government and believe,
>under these circumstances, some limited form of military intervention
>may be required to replace it with a more democratic form of government
>in Afghanistan. I believe the U.S. government has doing the right thing
>strategically in sending them food and other supplies.  I have also been
>pleased to see the U.S. government has so far moved slowly, deliberately
>and with some restraint. I also think the case has been made that there
>now needs to be greater security and greater intelligence to combat the
>threat of terrorist retaliation domestically.  America certainly needs
>to secure itself as a nation.
>I still remain cynical about the role of government in this, however. I
>don't think this conflict is about freedom, democracy, civilization or
>our open, pluralistic society. I simply do not believe "The government
>we have is our only weapon, we must support it." Instead, I think,
>pragmatically, given the immediate conditions that now exist, some
>limited support of the government is necessary to defend ourselves
>against terrorism. 
>Shawn and Steve have talked about how government is merely a historical
>and technological aberration, one that has usually not been on the side
>of human life. I agree. Government as a weapon has often been used in
>the past to dominate and oppress its own citizenry.  Government as a
>weapon is a loaded gun and, therefore, always dangerous. 
>As Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out, however, government as a
>weapon is also a two-edged sword.  In the past, it has often been the
>vehicle through which grievances has been addressed, rights defended and
>positive as well as negative freedoms granted.
>In my view, it is utter madness to reduce the social role of government
>right now, as Harry Browne and other libertarians advocate.  Basically,
>their political platform is one that states - lets legalize marijuana
>and piss on the poor. Against their ilk, the role of government in
>support of the welfare state and as a safety net needs to be defended
>until the day comes when something less terroristic than neo-liberalism
>can be offered as the sole panacea. 
>At the same time, we also need to be vigilant and honest with ourselves
>about the likelihood that the current administration, in the name of
>fighting terrorism, is also pushing for programs that simply manage and
>control dissent, exasperate the class divisions that already exist and
>simply leave far too many without any visible means of support as the
>current global economic crisis deepens.
>As the global level, we need to recognize that the policies of the U.S.
>government have often been, and here I speak with some restraint,
>somewhat counterproductive.  Just as the Bush administration has
>vigorously pushed for its agenda, I believe progressives worldwide
>should now pressure this government to forgive the Third world-debt, end
>the sanctions in Iraq, allow HIV vaccines to flow into Africa and
>recognize that Palestinians have been the victims of racism (in a way
>that strangely approaches the conditions of our own native Americans). 
>These are just some suggestions, of course, and in no way meant to be
>So I hope this helps you understand, Hugh, where I support you and where
>I must disagree.  In my view, when the house is burning, it is not a
>time for silence.  Instead, it is a time to cry out - FIRE!
>P.S. - I also think, historically, what is characteristic about the
>postmodern period is that people are becoming incredulous about the
>concept of God and religious institutions are undergoing a crisis of
>legitimization.  This has been brought about for two main reasons.  1.
>The development of science, especially evolution, has undermined the
>intellectual foundations of theology. 2. The development of globalism
>has meant that religious cultures no longer exist in silos, but now
>confront one another face-to-face.
>While the main driver of globalism remains technological and economic,
>this crisis of religion makes the transition more difficult as religious
>institutions strive to maintain their hegemony while at the same time
>they can feel the world sliding irrevocably from their grasp.
>Perhaps future historians will regard our period as the time when
>religion went supernova, blazing incredibly for a short period before it
>became merely a burned out cinder.  What will the post-religious society
>be like? How can this be created? 
>Those are also political questions. Perhaps, religion is merely
>government in drag.


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