Functionally Literate – Quote


Our suspicions are first aroused when we see that the self-declared apostles of ethics and of the ‘right to difference’ are clearly horrified by any vigorously sustained difference. For them, African customs are barbaric, Muslims are dreadful, the Chinese are totalitarian, and so on. As a matter of fact, this celebrated ‘other’ is acceptable only if he is a good other – which is to say what, exactly, if not the same as us? Respect for differences, of course! But on condition that the different be parliamentary-democratic, pro free-market economics, in favour of freedom of opinion, feminism, the environment… That is to say: I respect differences, but only, of course, in so far as that which differs also respects, just as I do, the said differences. Just as there can be ‘no freedom for the enemies of freedom’, so there can be no respect for those whose difference consists precisely in not respecting differences. To prove the point, just consider the obsessive resentment expressed by the partisans of ethics regarding anything that resembles an Islamic ‘fundamentalist’.

The problem is that the ‘respect for differences’ and the ethics of human rights do seem to define an identity! And that as a result, the respect for differences applies only to those differences that are reasonably consistent with this identity (which, after all is nothing other than the identity of a wealthy – albeit visibly declining – ‘West’). Even immigrants in this country [France], as seen by the partisans of ethics, are acceptably different only when they are ‘integrated’, only if they seek integration (which seems to mean, if you think about it: only if they want to suppress their difference). It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a ‘revealed’ identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: ‘Become  like me and I will respect your difference.’

Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Alain Badiou p24

(1993, trans. 2001)

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Functionally Literate – Quote


Our suspicions are first aroused when we see that the self-declared apostles of ethics and of the ‘right to difference’ are clearly horrified by any vigorously sustained difference. For them, African customs are barbaric, Muslims are dreadful, the Chinese are totalitarian, and so on. As a matter of fact, this celebrated ‘other’ is acceptable only if he is a good other – which is to say what, exactly, if not the same as us? Respect for differences, of course! But on condition that the different be parliamentary-democratic, pro free-market economics, in favour of freedom of opinion, feminism, the environment… That is to say: I respect differences, but only, of course, in so far as that which differs also respects, just as I do, the said differences. Just as there can be ‘no freedom for the enemies of freedom’, so there can be no respect for those whose difference consists precisely in not respecting differences. To prove the point, just consider the obsessive resentment expressed by the partisans of ethics regarding anything that resembles an Islamic ‘fundamentalist’.

The problem is that the ‘respect for differences’ and the ethics of human rights do seem to define an identity! And that as a result, the respect for differences applies only to those differences that are reasonably consistent with this identity (which, after all is nothing other than the identity of a wealthy – albeit visibly declining – ‘West’). Even immigrants in this country [France], as seen by the partisans of ethics, are acceptably different only when they are ‘integrated’, only if they seek integration (which seems to mean, if you think about it: only if they want to suppress their difference). It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a ‘revealed’ identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: ‘Become  like me and I will respect your difference.’

Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Alain Badiou p24

(1993, trans. 2001)

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Functionally Literate – Quote


Our suspicions are first aroused when we see that the self-declared apostles of ethics and of the ‘right to difference’ are clearly horrified by any vigorously sustained difference. For them, African customs are barbaric, Muslims are dreadful, the Chinese are totalitarian, and so on. As a matter of fact, this celebrated ‘other’ is acceptable only if he is a good other – which is to say what, exactly, if not the same as us? Respect for differences, of course! But on condition that the different be parliamentary-democratic, pro free-market economics, in favour of freedom of opinion, feminism, the environment… That is to say: I respect differences, but only, of course, in so far as that which differs also respects, just as I do, the said differences. Just as there can be ‘no freedom for the enemies of freedom’, so there can be no respect for those whose difference consists precisely in not respecting differences. To prove the point, just consider the obsessive resentment expressed by the partisans of ethics regarding anything that resembles an Islamic ‘fundamentalist’.

The problem is that the ‘respect for differences’ and the ethics of human rights do seem to define an identity! And that as a result, the respect for differences applies only to those differences that are reasonably consistent with this identity (which, after all is nothing other than the identity of a wealthy – albeit visibly declining – ‘West’). Even immigrants in this country [France], as seen by the partisans of ethics, are acceptably different only when they are ‘integrated’, only if they seek integration (which seems to mean, if you think about it: only if they want to suppress their difference). It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a ‘revealed’ identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: ‘Become  like me and I will respect your difference.’

Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Alain Badiou p24

(1993, trans. 2001)

The Case for Rage and Retribution


This was written for Time magazine by the journalist Lance Murrow two days after 9/11. 

I can imagine he was still impassioned after what happened, given that Time has offices in New York. 

I’ve pulled out a few choice quotes.

  • For once, let’s have no fatuous rhetoric about “healing.”

 

  • Let America explore the rich reciprocal possibilities of the fatwa.

 

  • A policy of focused brutality does not come easily to a self-conscious, self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention span

 

  • America needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident relentlessness–and to relearn why human nature has equipped us all with a weapon (abhorred in decent peacetime societies) called hatred.

 

  • It’s a practical matter, anyway. In war, enemies are enemies. You find them and put them out of business, on the sound principle that that’s what they are trying to do to you.

 

  • America, in the spasms of a few hours, became a changed country. It turned the corner, at last, out of the 1990s. The menu of American priorities was rearranged. The presidency of George W. Bush begins now. What seemed important a few days ago (in the media, at least) became instantly trivial

 

  • The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world from the uncivilized. This is the moment of clarity. Let the civilized toughen up, and let the uncivilized take their chances in the game they started.

 

By all means read the whole article. It isn’t much longer than the sections I extracted it’s just that these particular extractions and the article as a whole are terrifying and mark in many ways the emotions that allowed for the surveillance state that we now live in.

 

Always best to watch out for those trick emotions no matter what the awful thing that has been done to you or your country.

 

As Gore Vidal said, “Goebbels never pulled it off that well.”

The Case for Rage and Retribution

The Case for Rage and Retribution


This was written for Time magazine by the journalist Lance Murrow two days after 9/11. 

I can imagine he was still impassioned after what happened, given that Time has offices in New York. 

I’ve pulled out a few choice quotes.

  • For once, let’s have no fatuous rhetoric about “healing.”

 

  • Let America explore the rich reciprocal possibilities of the fatwa.

 

  • A policy of focused brutality does not come easily to a self-conscious, self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention span

 

  • America needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident relentlessness–and to relearn why human nature has equipped us all with a weapon (abhorred in decent peacetime societies) called hatred.

 

  • It’s a practical matter, anyway. In war, enemies are enemies. You find them and put them out of business, on the sound principle that that’s what they are trying to do to you.

 

  • America, in the spasms of a few hours, became a changed country. It turned the corner, at last, out of the 1990s. The menu of American priorities was rearranged. The presidency of George W. Bush begins now. What seemed important a few days ago (in the media, at least) became instantly trivial

 

  • The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world from the uncivilized. This is the moment of clarity. Let the civilized toughen up, and let the uncivilized take their chances in the game they started.

 

By all means read the whole article. It isn’t much longer than the sections I extracted it’s just that these particular extractions and the article as a whole are terrifying and mark in many ways the emotions that allowed for the surveillance state that we now live in.

 

Always best to watch out for those trick emotions no matter what the awful thing that has been done to you or your country.

 

As Gore Vidal said, “Goebbels never pulled it off that well.”

The Case for Rage and Retribution

Functionally Literate – Opening Sentence


When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate back home with them.

Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)

Functionally Literate – Opening Sentence


Many students believe that the study of history involves nothing more than memorizing dates, names, battles, treaties, and endless numbers of similar, often uninteresting facts with no apparent relevance to their lives and concerns.

The Human Record – Sources from Global History Vol. 1, Andrea Overfield (2001)