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Passions in Poetry

The Cult of Death

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Brad
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0 posted 09-07-2004 01:40 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

http://nytimes.com/2004/09/07/opinion/07brooks.html

quote:
Whatever horrors the Russians have perpetrated upon the Chechens, whatever their ineptitude in responding to the attack, the essential nature of this act was in the act itself. It was the fact that a team of human beings could go into a school, live with hundreds of children for a few days, look them in the eyes and hear their cries, and then blow them up.

Dissertations will be written about the euphemisms the media used to describe these murderers. They were called "separatists" and "hostage-takers." Three years after Sept. 11, many are still apparently unable to talk about this evil. They still try to rationalize terror. What drives the terrorists to do this? What are they trying to achieve?

They're still victims of the delusion that Paul Berman diagnosed after Sept. 11: "It was the belief that, in the modern world, even the enemies of reason cannot be the enemies of reason. Even the unreasonable must be, in some fashion, reasonable."

This death cult has no reason and is beyond negotiation. This is what makes it so frightening. This is what causes so many to engage in a sort of mental diversion. They don't want to confront this horror. So they rush off in search of more comprehensible things to hate.


I don't have time to go into this, but I think David Brooks is right. It is time, I think, to start making the connections between 911, Bali, Madrid etc...and Columbine.


jbouder
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1 posted 09-07-2004 10:27 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

I want to come back to this too ... for now, though, do you think Brooks is suggesting a genocidal response to the cult of death?

Jim
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2 posted 09-07-2004 05:30 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Why in particular would you lump Columbine into the Islamist Extremist war?

Of course there is a connection between terror events perpetrated by Islamist Extremists -- we're not fighting a war against terror -- it is a war against Islamist Facsicm.  

It is a supernational entity, just like a supernational corporation, or a supernational church.

You can train people to be desensitized to the suffering of others simply by subjecting them to brutality all of their lives.  

We have spilled milk.  It has to be cleaned up -- but we need to make sure that we don't spill it again.

Osama Bin Laden wasn't sitting in his cave one day and suddenly stumbled over a copy of the U.S. Constitution and said 'Hey -- we have to do something about these freedom mongers'.

He made his reasons explicit when he declared war on us.  We were an imperial force occupying the holy land in Mecca, we were supporting Isreal, We were preparing for another invasion of Iraq while we were keeping Saddam locked up like a lion in a Zoo.

The Chechen rebels have been slaughtered by the Russians.  Their people are routinely detained and tortured (um-- think we invaded a country on that premise) by the Russians.

There are reasons behind this -- no matter how unreasonable the enemy has become.  

I don't think either that loving children is human nature -- it is one human nature.  Some cultures have thrived on destruction -- the Western World just happens to have not been one of them.

When David went to war he killed everyone, men, women, and children... and he was a man after God's own heart.

The point that Brooks makes well though is that brinksmanship --- takes us to the brink.  There is no negotiation -- especially with a supernational enemy -- and they are the hydra -- we cut off a head and two grow back.  How do you beat a hydra?
Brad
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3 posted 09-08-2004 09:59 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Concentrate on the act.

Everything else is superfluous.

Irrationality is indeed supernational, but that doesn't mean much.

What good has actually resulted from the current explosion of terrorism?

Has any of their goals been met?
Krawdad
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4 posted 09-08-2004 03:28 PM       View Profile for Krawdad   Email Krawdad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Krawdad

L.R.

Could you define "Islamic Facsicm" (sic)?
Fascism includes an ideology of belligerent nationalism, among other things, so I'm not sure what you mean in your supernational context.  Doesn't seem to fit the Mussolini model.

Local Rebel
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5 posted 09-08-2004 05:56 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Islamist (with a T) fascism (thanks)  is not Islamic.  What the T means instead of the C is the ideology that government should follow Islamic law, not secular law.  It is nationalism.  Mussolini was more adamant about 'corporatism' than 'fascism' -- it was the unity of the state with corporate industrial and financial power into a single centrally focused, all powerful unit.

Islamist Fascism is the same.

Brad,

Since fighting terror hasn't eliminated terrorism one can equally say that our goal hasn't been met either.  

The acts are battles.  Focus on the war.

(edit)
By supernational I merely mean that it is not geographically dependent -- it can exist anywhere and everywhere.
Krawdad
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6 posted 09-08-2004 06:53 PM       View Profile for Krawdad   Email Krawdad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Krawdad

L.R.
You seem to be circling your wagons.  I don't see a real difference in Islamic vs Islamist.  Are you suggesting that "Islamic" law is not religious?
I asked the question only because you seemed to be redefining fascism.  You confirmed my suspicion.  It's a popular thing to do it seems.  Some are calling the current US regime fascist, as well.  Both fascist?  Neither.  Mussolini's Italy defined fascism (what you want to call corporatism, which is what I might call today's global (supernational?) ruling force).  One of the reasons that the current US regime is not fascist is because of the fundamentalist religious beliefs that are held by it.  That was not part of Fascism.
Local Rebel
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7 posted 09-08-2004 08:25 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Am I under attack?

No I'm not suggesting that Islamic law isn't religious.  An IslamisT wants to make religious IslamiC law into a form of government -- such as Iran -- it is an Islamist Fascist State -- as opposed to a secular government.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=islamist

quote:

Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative representation is given to industries. Under Fascism in Italy, employers were organized into syndicates known as "corporations" according to their industries, and these groups were given representation in a legislative body known as the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni.


http://www.fact-index.com/c/co/corporatism.html

Brad
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8 posted 09-08-2004 10:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm pretty sure Hitchens coined the term Islamo-fascism to describe Islamic terrorism so don't be too hard on Rebel.

I don't think Bush misspoke when he said we can never win a war on terror. The point of bringing Columbine into the picture is to show that terrorism is irrational. The glorification of death is ultimately for its own sake and not for a political goal.

Every terrorist attack in Iraq makes us stay longer. Russians aren't thinking about Chechnya right now, they are thinking about revenge. Madrid was justified only after the Spanish decided to leave Iraq.

The justifications will change with the wind, the acts will continue.


Brad
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9 posted 09-08-2004 10:30 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Seeing the last comment made in the resurection of the Nietsche thread, I think my point is being made for me.

Local Rebel
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10 posted 09-08-2004 10:39 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I don't like Islamo-Fascism as a term though Brad because it obscures the distinction between Islam and the enemy -- which is something the enemy wants.  The T makes it very distincT.

The longer we stay in Iraq the more advantageous it is for them -- it breeds more contempt and makes reqruitment easier.

Their goal is to create a Pan-Islamic State (called Earth)-- they set up Iran -- then Afghanistan -- Chechneya would have been great if they could have done it...

They want to be thrown in the briar patch Brad -- every time they lose -- they win.  They are very patient.
Local Rebel
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11 posted 09-08-2004 10:47 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

The justifications will change with the wind, the acts will continue.



Think of it more like this -- the reasons are individual portals into extremism -- it doesn't change the methodology or the aims of the extremists -- everyone just finds his own door.

9/11 commission report says basically three things;

Kill the terrorists
Stop breeding new ones
Secure the borders and the domestic front
Stephanos
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12 posted 09-09-2004 11:10 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
Seeing the last comment made in the resurection of the Nietsche thread, I think my point is being made for me.

When you wrote "(whatever that means)" concerning "life", you made another point.


Life must be defined in some meaningful schema if we are to be urged to value it (especially when it happens to be someone else's).

The Nietzschian problem is that he didn't have any categories to affirm that life is essentially any better than death, or that non-cruelty is any better than cruelty.


The islamist terrorists, unlike Nietzsche, do have their categories through their religious doctrines.  Unfortunately these are skewed, as they lead to brutality.    


But in assessing the situation, dogma cannot (in fact, not theory) be done away with, because the questions always arise ... why is rationality better than irrationality? ... Why is life better than death?.  And the premise "Life is better than death" is contradicted enough in the real world, that it must be a dogma of sorts, and not so self evident that we need not bother about the question "why".  


I think Reb's point is that we all have "reasons" for the actions we do, and it's still about those, and asking whether they are good reasons or not... Whether they are rational or not.  Pulling back and retreating from that din of controversy, into "fresher air" and trying to establish a simpler cleaner life-affirming dogma, is an imaginary escape.  Same song, different verse.


Of course I agree with you that the Cult of Death takes us out of reason, and sanity, and life.  But if you remember, Nietzsche probably thought that his most insightful character was the "Madman".  


Stephen
Brad
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13 posted 09-11-2004 12:12 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

But Nietzche did have categories. He was an elitist: The rest of us should be put in the service of great art or music etc.

Remember N. talked about the transvaluation of value, not the abolition.

I don't agree with that of course, I just think it's wrong to equate N. with an out and out nihilism.

quote:
But in assessing the situation, dogma cannot (in fact, not theory) be done away with, because the questions always arise ... why is rationality better than irrationality? ... Why is life better than death?.  And the premise "Life is better than death" is contradicted enough in the real world, that it must be a dogma of sorts, and not so self evident that we need not bother about the question "why".


I think these two questions answer themselves. You can't discuss which is better, life or death, without first being alive, and you can't form the question, which is better rationality or irrationality, unless you are rational.

Still, thinking about this a bit more, LR's point is that we have a specific target with specific goals in mind. I'm not so sure about that. The War on Terror is vague for political reasons, but the enemy is just as vague. I wanted to bring Columbine into the picture because it's a good example of irrationality at work.

What did they want?

To kill and be killed.

Why did they want that?

I don't think a rational answer can be found, only a feeling or an attitude.

With most suicide bombers, I think it's the same thing. The justifications for their actions are given by those that don't commit suicide.
Local Rebel
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14 posted 09-11-2004 01:53 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

I think Reb's point is that we all have "reasons" for the actions we do, and it's still about those, and asking whether they are good reasons or not... Whether they are rational or not.



Certainly.  Even a psychotic person has reasons -- they just may not be existent anywhere except inside his brain.

quote:

LR's point is that we have a specific target with specific goals in mind. I'm not so sure about that. The War on Terror is vague for political reasons, but the enemy is just as vague. I wanted to bring Columbine into the picture because it's a good example of irrationality at work.



This is also an accurate representation of my point -- the enemy is not so vague though.  Columbine is a different genus -- but it's particularly lent more to the 'cult of death' hypothesis.  

quote:

With most suicide bombers, I think it's the same thing. The justifications for their actions are given by those that don't commit suicide.



And here is where we can draw the distinction between the two -- the Columbine killers weren't soldiers -- they were their own Generals.  

The clear enemy with clear objectives are the ones who don't commit suicide.  Tactically they don't have immediate common goals --

Qaida has international mostly Western intent (and probably Chechen)
Taliban -- Afghanistan
GIA -- Algeria
Gama'at Islamiya -- Egypt
Hizballah -- Lebanon
Jamaat-e-Islami -- South Asia
Hamas -- Gaza Strip and West Bank

That's the seven-headed hydra. (there may be more) All with intent -- all with purpose.  If you're in shock when 350 innocent school children and their teachers and parents are killed -- or when they slam jets into buildings -- then their purpose is met two-fold.


berengar
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15 posted 10-06-2004 12:31 AM       View Profile for berengar   Email berengar   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for berengar

The Columbine school murderers, the perpetrators of the Beslan massacre, the 911 terrorists etc are defined primarily by their embrace of death and negotiation with such groups is an irrelevance, as, I would argue, are the 'ideological' hues that may distinguish them.
They are all characterised by a hatred of life; the fact that children are often on the receiving end is very telling.
But why do they hate life?  Because, for them, life is defined by the twin evils of despair and brutality. These two factors define life for many, and not just in economically deprived countries.  
As long as the fortunate do nothing to address these twin evils, the seeds of another senseless massacre is sown.  
Arnold M
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16 posted 10-07-2004 11:23 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Berengar, what do you mean that the fortunate must address the twin evils of despair and brutality?
berengar
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17 posted 10-08-2004 02:02 AM       View Profile for berengar   Email berengar   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for berengar

Arnold

Yes, it's good to pin down general statements I try to get away with.
I view despair and brutality as stemming from a sense of alienation; this can be economic, social, even existential.
One very important way of combatting this alienation is by cultivating a more compassionate, proactive relationship with those outside the circuit of friends and family.  Hard to do in practice, perhaps, and the means by which this is done will vary according to individual circumstance.
For myself, it's (necessarily) a small thing; trying to be considerate to those we'd normally ignore or exploit.
One has to start somewhere.
 
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