Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Ok, this is the chapter that really made my blood boil. By the time I was done reading this, I was ill.
Intellectuals tend to forget that ethical ideals do not pop out of the human head but first manifest themselves in practice. Capitalism, for example, did not come into being...
Really. Harris is talking about ethical ideals and uses CAPITALISM as an example? Perhaps if he was an intellectual, he would know the difference between an ethical ideal and an economic system. Even if I ignore this, his comments are just plain wrong. systems can be imagined before they are inacted. Two examples (unfortunately, I can't think of successful examples) are the collectivisation of the soviets and khemer rouge. But the point is that the ideas existed FIRST and then they were executed. This is the opposite of Harris's assertion.
The emergence of a new kind of freedom
I have to say, I really don't like this team eveolution ideas. On one hand, the team of men, not just a group of individuals, is free. On the other hand, they are bound by the traditions of the team. so they are not free. Which is it? Harris discusses an evolution from the time when one ruled all and all others were slaves. But I don't think we have ever seen each other like this. Even the egyptian pharoes had powerful advisors. If a king started to arbitrarily dispose of powerful courtiers, the king was likely to come to an untimely end. The positions Harris takes about how things are/were are just not supported by reality.
a Kingdom (of God) that, Saint Paul takes pains to remind us, does not recognize the bonds of family, including marriage
Is Harris high? the christian church's policies are there to be antifamily? good god, marriage is a catholic sacrament! What the hell is he talking about?!
His analysis just makes me crazy. Apparently, the south lost the civil war because it didn't have a strong central government. I'm sure the greater manpower, economic strength and industrialization of the north really didn't have anything to do with it. At least it doens't seem that way to Harris. Likewise, after WWI "IN EVERY CASE" groups gaining power did so via ruthlessness. I'll buy that in Russia, Germany and Italy. But what about Greece, Turkey, the Czech republic and Poland?!? Sorry, but in real life, you don't get to pick your examples.
This trick (how to fight ruthlessness without succumbing to it themselves) has been mastered by the United States.
Why does he say this? Is it because we are so good at nation building, such as our experiments in Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd say as a nation, we are good at it, and perhaps better than most. But to say that we have mastered it is just conceited.
Harris's next fear is that if the U.S. does not step up to the plate, international decisions would be made by the ruthless, and this of course, is unacceptable. Well, if he wants to substitue the word 'terrorist' in there (after all, that's what all this pseudo-theory is about here: justifying US actions in the war on terrorism), I'm with him 100%. Unfortunately, I don't know what he's talking about when he suggests that some are saying the US should become isolationist now. Who is claiming that? No one (I know of) on the left thinks that the war on terrorism should not be vigorously persued. The only question is: how best to do it?
America as the sole source of global legitimacy
Barf, oh, get me another bag, I've filled this one. Barf. As Mr. P said elsewhere, Harris going on one of his contradictions. Ruthlessness has no root causes. But it is obvious that if the root causes don't exist, the ruthless ones gain few followers. Look at the right wing paramilitiaries in the U.S. Yeah, remember all those specials about them after Oklahoma city bombing? Well, they haven't swept the nation. Why? After all they are ruthless. How about the Shining path in Peru or Red Brigades in Italy. Again, Harris picks examples that show his point and ignore those that don't.
They condemn the United States President for declaring a war on terrorism
Again: who is this. People in this country and arround the world marched in the streets to condemn a war on Iraq, not on terrorism.
Friends, really, I can't believe we are reading this book. This guy is just full of crud. If this is the best thinking we have to justify our actions in Iraq, we should be ashamed of ourselves.