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david

Come now, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky view the analysis of the world as text as supreme to the analysis of the world as reality? Habermas, the materialist, thinks this? Your collapse of the left, were it done to the right, would put Mussolini and Dick Cheney in a great struggle against the same imagined evil, but no one on the left makes these claims - they go for nuanced and valid arguments about what someone like Cheney's interest might be in Iraq.

You have some valid points, especially earlier ones about Chomsky's worldview, and a look into submission and alienation as contributing factors to terror may be valid. But your ideology blinds you in a far worse way than someone like Chomsky, who at least acknowledges that terror is carried out by people other than America; you suggest that terror is a purely Muslim phenomenon in this day and age.

That is pathetic, and amounts to racism.

Scott (to David)
Come now, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky view the analysis of the world as text as supreme to the analysis of the world as reality? Habermas, the materialist, thinks this? Your collapse of the left, were it done to the right, would put Mussolini and Dick Cheney in a great struggle against the same imagined evil, but no one on the left makes these claims - they go for nuanced and valid arguments about what someone like Cheney's interest might be in Iraq.

Oh I don't believe Moore even tinks about it. But the orientation came about as a result of the "interpretive turn" in philosophy. I'm pretty sure Chomsky views the text as seminal, although he probably goes back to pretext (signs) in the formation of language. I'm not sure what you're driving it. The interpretive turn was essential, but mixed with romanticism it was also deadly. I don't know what invidividuals think, of course. You'd have to ask them. But as a general rule you can map the left directly onto a Marxist, or Hegellian, nomencalture one for one.

You have some valid points, especially earlier ones about Chomsky's worldview, and a look into submission and alienation as contributing factors to terror may be valid. But your ideology blinds you in a far worse way than someone like Chomsky, who at least acknowledges that terror is carried out by people other than America; you suggest that terror is a purely Muslim phenomenon in this day and age.

I'm saying just the opposite, that terror is a method. Moreover, it's a method of totalitarian regimes, almost exclusively. And even more to the point, terrorism wasn't particulalary practise by Muslims until the 20th Century, so we can see that what we're really dealing with here isn't Islam, but a "flavor" of Totalitarianism that happens to be spiced with Islam. As for Chomsy, as far as he's concerned terrorism is only practiced by the United States and a few other capitalist western powers.

That is pathetic, and amounts to racism.

Oh BS. And you know it. It's an analysis of the continuity of totalitarianism, and has nothing to do with race. It's a "thought virus." What was the racial difference between the Athenians and the Spartans, for heaven sake?

Hicham Alhasan

First I would like to say that I think your analysis is relevant and eventhough I do not admire Berman I think that his views on the subject are far from superfical. Yet all of this lacks some rigour.

In "The Rebel" (L'homme revolte) Camus,
perhaps wrongly, insists on the fact that this modern impulse to rebel is the intellectual monopoly of the West (he makes a distiction between "la revolte methaphysique" -to rebel despit not against... this has his concept of "l'Absurde" as a prelude- and ancient rebels -spartacus...).
I say wrongly because there are many premices described by Camus that are present in Middle Eastern thought : see Hafiz from whom Goethe borrowed extensivly, Omar alKhayyam, and Abu Nawwas, all poets, and all could be fit into one of Camus (non-exhaustive) categories.

One might think that this adds relevance to Berman's argument (Eventhough we could have done without German thought spreading -which it hasn't- in the Middle East) since the same modern impulse should lead to the same ideal of submission.
I think instead that both analysis share the same natural leaning to "europeomorphism". The East for Camus does not exist (9/11 proved the contrary) or is not relevant because European thought is exhaustive and synthetic. For Berman it exists but it is simply a deformed projection
of the West. This is best illustrated by Paul Berman's table of correspondance (I display it almost as is for Berman's article):

Marx -> Qutb
The Party -> The Brotherhood
Capitalism -> Liberalism
Baathism -> National Socialism
etc...

This is all a legitmate effort to understand fondamentalist Islam by projecting it into a more familiar universe but cannot be taken seriously.

I must say that your assumption about German thought corrupting the arab world and the spread of american liberalism as a recommended cure made me smile. Thought of course does not drive history, it merely testifies for us.

Hicham Alhasan

First I would like to say that I think your analysis is relevant and eventhough I do not admire Berman I think that his views on the subject are far from superfical. Yet all of this lacks some rigour.

In "The Rebel" (L'homme revolte) Camus,
perhaps wrongly, insists on the fact that this modern impulse to rebel is the intellectual monopoly of the West (he makes a distiction between "la revolte methaphysique" -to rebel despit not against... this has his concept of "l'Absurde" as a prelude- and ancient rebels -spartacus...).
I say wrongly because there are many premices described by Camus that are present in Middle Eastern thought : see Hafiz from whom Goethe borrowed extensivly, Omar alKhayyam, and Abu Nawwas, all poets, and all could be fit into one of Camus (non-exhaustive) categories.

One might think that this adds relevance to Berman's argument (Eventhough we could have done without German thought spreading -which it hasn't- in the Middle East) since the same modern impulse should lead to the same ideal of submission.
I think instead that both analysis share the same natural leaning to "europeomorphism". The East for Camus does not exist (9/11 proved the contrary) or is not relevant because European thought is exhaustive and synthetic. For Berman it exists but it is simply a deformed projection
of the West. This is best illustrated by Paul Berman's table of correspondance (I display it almost as is for Berman's article):

Marx -> Qutb
The Party -> The Brotherhood
Capitalism -> Liberalism
Baathism -> National Socialism
etc...

This is all a legitmate effort to understand fondamentalist Islam by projecting it into a more familiar universe but cannot be taken seriously.

I must say that your assumption about German thought corrupting the arab world and the spread of american liberalism as a recommended cure made me smile. Thought of course does not drive history, it merely testifies for us.

Scott (to Hicham)
This is all a legitmate effort to understand fondamentalist Islam by projecting it into a more familiar universe but cannot be taken seriously.

I don't think that's what Berman is doing at all. I think he's saying that Islamism and "fundamentalist Islam" are not the same. I don't think he sees the latter as necessarily a threat. Fundamentalism is problematic, but it's generally manageable. The emergence of a new form of totalitarianism is something else again. And what is dangerous is the way the Islamic side of the ideology borrows from the flawed ideas of the counter-enlightenment.

And just to be clear, it is tracked by Weber's conception of "legitimation," which has to do with the role of belief, not merely "ideas." In one sense, I suppose, predestination is an idea... but it's the belief in predestination that legitimated the acquisition of wealth and that helped drive the industrial economy in the US. People always had a desire for wealth, but Calvinism made it a virtue. From there on, it ran downhill.

I'm pretty sure that we can't map Islam onto any set of western beliefs. It's like a person with eleven toes. There ought to be ten, but no matter how many times you recount, you keep coming up with eleven. The concern, however, is that concepts from the counter-enlightenment have been grafted into Islamic thought in the 20th Century, and have "legitimated" a form of behavior that was extraordinarily rare in the past: suicide killing, or martyrdom killing (especially of innocents and noncombatants). You can see the legitimation of this and similar practices everywhere you see totalitarianism. It's one of the hallmarks.

Although one may not be able to map Islam onto a set of Western beliefs, it may well be possible to map Islamism (the ideology) with much greater success. And it wouldn't be a bad thing to drive a wedge between those apostacies, and "fundamentalism." No westerner would have the "legitimacy" to do it, anyway. Perhaps it's enough to point out the discrepancy, and observe the fact that it does not derive from Islam.

Ron Hardin

Derrida on the contrary mocks the left (I don't know if he would put it that way)

``What appears to me unaceptable in the ``strategy''
(in terms of weapons, practices, ideology, rhetoric, discourse, and so
on) of the ``bin Laden effect'' is not only the cruelty, the disregard for
human life, the disrespect for the law, for women, the use of what is worst
in technocapitalist modernity for the purposes of religious fanaticism.
No, it is, above all, the fact that such actions and such discourse _open
onto no future and, in my view, have no future_. If we are to put any faith
in the perfectibility of public space and of the world juridico-political
scene, of the ``world'' itself, then there is, it seems to me, _nothing good_
to be hoped for from that quarter. What is being proposed, at least implicitly,
is that all captialist and modern technoscientific forces be put
in the service of an interpretation, itself dogmatic, of the Islamic
revelation of the One. Nothing of what has been so laboriously secularized
in even the nontheological form of sovereignty (...), none of this seems
to have any place whatsoever in the discourse ``bin Laden.'' That is why,
in this unleashing of violence without name, if I had to take one of
the two sides and choose in a binary situation, well I would. Despite
my very strong reservations about the American, indeed European, political
posture, about the ``international terrorist'' coalition, despite
all the de facto betrayals, all the failures to live up to democracy,
international law, and the very international institutions that the states of
this ``coalition'' themselves founded and supported up to a certain point,
I would take the side of the camp that, in principle, by right of law,
leaves a perspective open to perfectibility in the name of the ``political,''
democracy, international law, international institutions, and so forth.
Even if this ``in the name of'' is still merely an assertion and a purely
verbal committment. Even in its most cynical mode, such an assertion
still lets resonate within it an invincible promise. I don't hear any
such promise coming from ``bin Laden,'' at least not one in this world.''

``Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides'' _Philosophy in a Time of Terror_ p.1

Ron Hardin

That posted as p.1 but should be p.113

extra line in case it loses the last two characters.

Scott (to Ron)

Ron:

Thanks. I'm never sure where to put Derrida on the political spectrum, frankly. Lipset said that although he hasn't the slightest notion what Derrida is talking about most of the time, he recognizes that there's a Jewish tradition that regards the interpretation of scripture as holier than the scripture itself. But it has never been very clear to me whether Derrida has the slightest pretensions to spirituality. Yes he's very clever and playing with opposition, which can even be a useful endeavor sometimes. And he is often more responisble than those who seem to have adopted his, what, approach? (He refuses to call it a method.)

I guess it makes sense he'd mock the left, since he mocks everyone. But this criticism has a bit more meat on it. Thanks for the cite. Very interesting.

nicola

Bs! Bs! Bs! Berman is a man unable of intellectual honesty, ready to concoct whatever to sell and to look different and intriguing. More than an intelligent man, he sound smart; more than a serious student he talks like a skillfull and subtle propaganda man. Under the stole suite of a liberal, he is basically a dangerous example of a relatively well-disguised arch-reactionary.

Scott (to nicola)
Under the stole suite of a liberal, he is basically a dangerous example of a relatively well-disguised arch-reactionary. (sic)

Just how is it "reactionary," as opposed to progressive, to view the Islamist terrorists as a totalitarian movement, unless you feel you have some sort of common cause with them?

From the Belmont Club:

The possible electoral defeat of President Bush by John Kerry raises the question of whether the Global War on Terror ultimately requires a war on the Left. That is to say whether a political defeat of the Left is a prerequisite for stamping out worldwide terrorism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many in the Left, at least, believes that the GWOT is a war on them. America, not Osama Bin Laden is the putative enemy, and their fire is directed accordingly. Conversely, many conservatives are conditioned by the sight of a de facto alliance between the Left and Islamism to think that both parties are on the same side of the fence.

And this (hat tip Armed Liberal):

"only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy [the United States and its allies]" -- Carlos "The Jackal"
Abu Noor al-Irlandee

Nicola,

Beautiful comment.

Scott,

For more reasons why Berman is wrong (and therefore I must say you are wrong too unfortunately) please read this article. I like it a lot.

Anatol Lieven, "Liberal Hawk Down"

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041025&c=2&s=lieven

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