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What I mean is, if one is going to have any sort of program or goal in mind beyond "do whatever seems like the best idea at the moment," then one needs to coherent explain and defend that position.  If one is comfortable with "do whatever seems like the best idea at the moment," than any principle-based denunciations or attacks on the Western intervention are nothing but hot air.  In my opinion, that includes cynically dismissive statements along the lines of, "it's empire 2.0" or "blood for oil" and whatnot - because if everything is about contingency and the moment, than what on Earth is wrong with that?

(i have puzzled this one for a while, and it always leads me off an intellectual cliff.)

pragmatically, there's nothing wrong with that, just as pragmatically there's nothing wrong with bopping your neighbour over the head because he has something you fancy, and as you chummily eat his meat round the fire with your tribe, surely their happy smiles and warm gratitude is plenty to soothe any pangs of doubt.

when we were brutes, we were conscience-free, might ruled, end of story.
now we are trying to look in the mirror and see something better than brute, so we construct a narrative to help soothe pangs, such as 'he was the wrong colour, not 'one of us', smelt funny, thumped the wrong tome etc' so he had it coming to him, social darwinism with lipstick of justification.

after a few more million dead, we have become more sophisticated about the rationalisations, that's all. thicker lipstick.

our aspirations remain just that, aspirations, and fine and noble they are, but some of us at least have them, which is marginally better that not.

how do you teach people to abjure force without using force?

no easy answer, methinks, just a long haul up the hill to social responsibility, with many tumbles and trials.

now we can destroy our habitat as the flick of a few switches, we clever apes have come up against a reality we cannot weasel our logic around, so by hook or by crook we have to face up to the fact that brutishness will bring us all to ruin, no payoff there, so with great reluctance we are constrained to contemplate the only rational solution... we need to evolve to better-than-brute, rapidos.

this is the painful blood and radiation-soaked journey we are in the middle of, from animals to angels, some might say. the arrival point is still unknown, but the journeyers, to go on, must envision a goal, even if reaching it seems ludicrously improbable.
to go back is no option, to dwell where we are too dodgy, so onwards and upwards we go, still stinking of mire, stars in our eyes, one step at a time.

it's an exodus from pharaonic institutionalised ignorance and plutocratic misery, towards a land flowing with milk and honey, we are trying to cross a great river of gore and grief to get there. our little boat of hope is tacking across, dodging the jagged spars of fracturing, broken ideologies as they hurtle around in the strong currents.

enough mixed metaphors, fishful winking and delusional whimsy for one comment.

great diary, i wish i had a clearer answer to your question, it is a very perceptive one, i think we better keep asking ourselves what it means to make moral choices, and why we bother even to try, when so little seems to work out optimally in the 'real' world.

the alternative is to accept we are brutes, always were and always will be...

the measure of how far we have to go is the number of people who still do accept that as undeniable, while those of us with the breathing space to contemplate any better alternative feel empowered, even to be able to dream of a nobler ideal than kill-or-be-killed, such as most of the animal kingdom still suffers under.

perhaps it is all an illusion, and brutes we'll remain, but something i love would die if i totally accepted that, so i fervently hope we keep trying to imagine we can affect the course of things with our little thoughtstreams, tiny flaps of tiny wings i guess...

as for dropping multimillion dollar ordinance to sort out libya, it's above my paygrade to morally evaluate. upriver there's the reeking cause of the libyan problem, which is gaddafi would never have had such a vicious hold on the place if we in the west had not armed him, and indulged his delusions.

you can only fight fire with fire so long. i just wish we were dropping millions into PV research, as i think that's what's going to stop this global resource buccaneering that is the endgame otherwise.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 11:03:13 PM EST
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