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Fantasy Ideology 
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Post Fantasy Ideology
Does anyone here really think that terrorism is simply and exclusively a fantasy gone wrong?

Everytime I read this in the book, I get offended. Can something so serious really be just a fantasy? Are there no other motives in all this madness?

Where does fantasy ideology stop and rational policy start? Are we (Western Civ) guilty of some fantasy thinking ourselves?

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain




Mon Aug 02, 2004 9:03 am
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Post Re: Fantasy Ideology
"Evenhanded use of the "terrorist" label would mean sometimes affixing it directly on the U.S. government. During the past decade, from Iraq to Sudan to Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, Pentagon missiles have destroyed the lives of civilians just as innocent as those who perished on September 11, 2001. If journalists dare not call that "terrorism," then maybe the word should be retired from the media lexicon."
Carl Boggs

" ... the United States, for generations, has sustained two parallel but opposed states of mind about military atrocities and human rights: one of U.S. benevolence, generally held by the public, and the other of ends-justify-the-means brutality sponsored by counterinsurgency specialists. Normally the specialists carry out their actions in remote locations with little notice in the national press. That allows the public to sustain its faith in a just America, while hard-nosed security and economic interests are still protected in secret. "
Robert Parry

'Whether the attackers are acting on their own or on the orders of their governments, whether they are regulars or irregulars, if the attack is against civilians, then they must be considered as terrorists."
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting, March 2002

"Terrorism is the intentional use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims."
Boaz Ganor, writer

"Terrorism has become a sort of screen created since the end of the Cold War by policymakers in Washington ... It is fabricated to keep the population afraid and insecure, and to justify what the United States wishes to do globally."
Edward Said, Palestinian activist and author
Articles

" I can teach you about torture, but sooner or later you'll have to get involved. You'll have to lay on your hands and try it yourselves ... The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.''
Head of the US Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Uruguay in 1981, teaching classes in the art of torture

" If they do it it's terrorism, if we do it, it's fighting for freedom. "
Anthony Quainton, U.S.Ambassador to Nicaragua, 1984, asked to explain how such U.S. actions as the mining of Nicaragua's harbors and bombing of airports differed from the acts of terrorism that the U.S. condemned around the world

"We declared a state of siege so we could kill legally."
Efrain Rios Montt, "born-again Christian" military dictator of Guatemala in the 1980s, enthusiatically supported by the Reagan Administration

There is never any justification for acts of terror against innocent civilians."
Rabbi Michael Lerner







Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:23 pm
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Post Re: Fantasy Ideology
So I take it you agree that the fantasy is ours as well!

;)

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain




Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:26 pm
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Post Re: Fantasy Ideology
I think that Harris' description of the 'fantasy ideology' is very good, I just don't see how it applies. His description of his Vietnam protester friend and the deluded lovers (although not novel, Iris Murdoch spent much of her career on this) was very interesting, but I don't think the fantasy ideology concept is needed to describe Al-Qaeda and fundamental Islam.

First, to answer the above question: yes, I think it could definitely apply to us. Just look at Harris' description on page 8:
Quote:
...certain groups do not seem to have the knack for a realistic appraisal of themselves: they seem simply incapable of seeing themselves as others see them or of understanding why other groups react to them the way they do... [others] are nonetheless inferior to them in terms of true virtue; they themselves stand for what is pure.

Our confusion over why Europeans and the average middle-easterner don't seem to like us and don't realize we're the 'good-guy' seems to fit this description.

Going back to fantasy ideology and the terrorists, I just don't see why it is necessary for Harris to even develop this concept. He says when introducing this concept that large-scale fantasies have throughout most of history appeared under the "guise of religion". But that after the French Revolution, a new fantasy, the fantasy ideology, replaced religious mythology (Harris, p. 7-8) . He then goes on to give a number of 19th and 20th Century European and Western examples.

I have two main questions: (1) why doesn't radical Islam fall under the older religious mythological fantasy, and (2) how did the western civilization French Revolution affect the eastern Islamic world?

I'm not even sure the second is necessary to answer given the first. When Harris explains radical Islam's "fantasy ideology", he always describes it in religious terms/symbols.
Quote:
...a mere handful of Muslims, men whose will was absolutely pure, as was proven by their martyrdom, brought down the haughty towers erected by the Great Satan.

...the reign of the Great Satan was near at hand

... but to prove to the Arabs that Islamic purity... could triumph over the West.

Seen through the distorting prism of radical Islam, the act of suicide is transformed into the act of martyrdom -- martyrdom in all its transcendent glory... that religious tradition has always assigned to it.

The unlooked-for collapse gave to the event -- in terms of Al-Qaeda's fantasy ideology -- an even greater poignancy: precisely because it had not been part of the original calculations, it was immediately interpreted as a manifestation of divine intervention. The nineteen hijackers did not bring down the towers; God did.

It was a symbolic drama, a great ritual demonstrating the power of Allah...

The pure Islamic David required a Goliath...

...what matters is that God will bring them victory.



So, where is the "fantasy ideology"? Isn't this the same old fanatical religious ideology we've seen throughout history? How is it tied more closely to post-French Revolution Nazism or Fascism? I just don't see it.

So, my real question is: why did Harris need to come up with this new term to describe radical Islam instead of just calling it radical Islam or radical fundamentalism? I don't get it. Either "fantasy ideology" is so broad that it describes everyone (masquerading as cultural relativism) or it's a modern European invention describing secular mass movements, in which case I don't know how it applies to radical Islam.

All I can think of is that Harris (1) wants us to think he has come up with a new, novel idea, (2) wants us to be saying "fantasy" all the time versus "religious" because he feels there is more power in that word, (3) wants to remove radical Islam from its religious underpinnings, or (4) is trying to come up with some way to tie radical Islam to the 20th century political ideological horrors of fascism, nazism, and communism.




Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:52 am


Post Re: Fantasy Ideology
There is the widespread belief in the Arab world that all its maladies are caused by the West. Those include lack of political freedom, political and cultural stagnation, poverty. Many in the Middle East think that if the political influence of the West was removed these problems will be resolved (I don't mean to imply that US policy did not contribute to these problems, only that many in the Muslim world do not see any other cause for them). There is the belief that the West wants to weaken and humiliate Islam. There is a sense of inferiority to the West that hurts Arab pride and sense of honor. It stems from the contrast between what the Arab world once was (a great power, culturally and politically superior to the West) and its current position. A goal of many Islamic militants is to weaken Western influences in the region and establish a pan-Islamic state. Although it is unclear how such a state would function it would be based on Islamic law which would somehow be sufficient to resolve all social and political problems.

These are largely political goals and it is how I interpret Harris' fantasy ideology. Unfortunately Harris is not specific about this so I may be misinterpreting him. One can draw parallels with Nazism and its beliefs that the Germans were superior people, gravely wronged by the winners of the first world war, entitled to "living space" in eastern Europe, etc. Islam is used to motivate the foot soldiers in the war against the West and to marshal popular support. But the actual political goals and Arab grievances are not the direct product of their religion.




Tue Aug 03, 2004 9:19 am
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Post Re: Fantasy Ideology
As with any system, a very strong presence will dilute the potential of other aspects. I wonder why the arab world declined. I tend to think it was in part due to the conquests of 'Western Civ'. Now I do not think that should be used as an excuse to target the West.

I think people in general suffer from relativism: The Republicans think the Democrats are ruining the country, and vice versa, Christians tend to think of Islam as a threat to Christianity, homophobics tend to view gays as a threat to the very fabric of civilization...who is right? None of them. How can we reconcile all these vastly different views and ways of life? This is our problem.

I just cannot come to terms with viewing Islam as a fantasy ideology. I think it is a dangerous oversimplification...wishful thinking, if you will, from Harris and those who accept his thesis.

Harris is somewhat cocky. I read an article by him the other day about his book in which he states, to paraphrase: he has been criticized by many for not pointing out America's failings. He states that there are enough of those out there (Moore, Chomsky) that do this so he leaves it to them to do that. He states that they are so good at it that he would feel inadequate in addressing these issues. Of course, I read this as sarcasm and an excuse for Harris to utilize his own partisianship. How about an honest explanation of the issues Lee? What fall into the partisian crap just because others do it?

It is for this reason that Harris is no better than Moore IMHO...it is all a game to them. Let's just be honest and move to the center, where most of America wants to be! IMHO!

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain




Wed Aug 04, 2004 11:37 am
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