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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Francis Fukuyama and Zombie Movies

      The events of the last week are making me remember the famous t-shirt slogan of the 80s:  Choose Life.
        Right now Christians are being purged from Iraq by ISIS, a bloodthirsty terrorist group.  Nigerian Catholics have been burned alive by their Muslim neighbors.  An unarmed young African-American in Ferguson, MO is shot for no apparent reason.  To top it off, comedian Robin Williams hangs himself.
          I have started to wonder if one of the reasons for the popularity of zombie movies is that, in a perverse way, the total breakdown of society isn't unthinkable any more.  One reason we got into this situation with Iraq was that the Bush administration's bible was Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man .  It was the Condaleeza Rice view of things that all human beings desired to live in western democracies.  One only needs to look at what happened to Iran after the Shah to see that, no, not all human beings wish to live in western democracies.  Indeed, the first thing that some people will do with their votes will be to install religious extremists as their government.  The Bushies made this mistake in its most extreme form when they encouraged the creation of the Palestinian Authority under the mistaken belief that Palestinians would create a moderate, democratic government.  When they actually installed Hamas as the ruling party, Israel was now faced with the necessity of treating people who will not accept their existance as the Palestinian government.
               The zombie movie resounds with people because it refutes the neoconservative idea that people have an intrinsic love of democracy and order.  Humans everywhere do not love freedom, at least the western idea of freedom as being liberal democracy.  This relentless crusade for making the world democratic has only put the most barbaric and retrograde elements in positions of strength in Iraq and Gaza/West Bank.  Indeed, how other than the existance of revived corpses could there be more chaos in the world right now?
          The movement in the world, and especially the middle east, is towards governments that utilize mass murder as a tool for uniformity.  In that sense, the Yugoslav civil wars in the 1940s and 1990s are the template for groups such as ISIS.  Why persuade people to support a government when you can just kill off your opposition?  Why worry about drawing national borders to account for ethnic groups when you can just destroy minority ethnicities?
            Choose Life isn't just a t-shirt slogan anymore.  It is the most basic and anachronistic aspiration for today's blood-soaked world. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Aims of Government

       The following is from Cato's Letters, #63:
       While the people have common-sense left, they will easily see whether they are justly governed, and well or ill used;  whether they are protected or plundered:  They will know that no man ought to be the director of the affairs of all, without their consent;  that no consent can give him unlimited power over their bodies and minds;  and that the laws of nature can never be entirely abrogated by positive laws;  but that, on the contrary, the entering into society, and becoming subject to government, is only the parting with natural liberty, in some instances, to be protected in the enjoyment of it in others.

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Nineteen

       "By the fall of 1920 the Kemalist army was acting on its committment to destroy Armenia, now a precarious, isolated country of genocide refugees ravaged by disease and famine.  Once again Armenia found itself in a situation beyond its control.  In the summer of 1920, the Soviets were pressing Armenia to join the Soviet Union, and war actually broke out between Armenia and the Soviet Union in July.  From the other side of the world--so it seemed--the West was urging Armenia not to join the Soviets, which in the end would cost Armenia even more territory.
       In this tense period a draft of a treaty between Soviet Russia and Kemalist Turkey remained unratified in Ankara because the Soviets now asked that some of Turkish Armenia be awarded to the present Armenian Republic.  The Soviets also asked that the peoples of Turkish Armenia (the term used by the Soviets) and Batum, eastern Thrace, and the regions inhabited jointly by Turks and Arabs should be given the right to decide their own fate.  Refugees living in Soviet Russia, and those who had been made homeless by war and massacre, were to be allowed to return to their homes and participate in a referendum.
       The Turkish response to the Soviet requests is revealing.  Kiazim Karabekir's answer is an early and quintessential statement of Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide.  He retorted:' In Turkey there has been neither an Armenia nor territory inhabited by Armenians. . . . Those [Armenians] living in Turkey committed murder and massacres, and have escaped to Iran, America, Europe, and some of them to Armenia.  How is it possible to call back these murderers and give them the right to vote?'  When Soviet foreign commissar Grigori Chicherin put the same proposal to the Turkish delegation in Moscow, he was told the same thing:  'No Armenian provinces have ever existed in Turkey.'  In this way, the Kemalists were continuing the work of the Young Turks in their effort to erase Armenia in fact and idea from the map it had inhabited."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs.325-28.