Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,
Pavlos
pavlos

Only slightly atypical...

So why am I against this war, then, as well as against most US foreign intervention?

Well, I'm not a pacifist. I do oppose wars usually, but just because I view them cynically. I think they tend to happen for economic or power reasons, which are almost never important or justified enough to kill or get killed over. At least not in the long run. But I don't have some blanket opposition to using violence. I'd accept armed resistance to oppression (which may sometimes mean a war) or a necessary revolution. So it's not out of pacifism that I oppose the war.

I'm also not a terribly compassionate person. When the Korean 747, or the Pan Am 747, or the Iranian Airbus got bombed I thought yeah, this is bad, but I didn't cry or anything. When Nabluz and Jenin were razed, or when New York was attacked in September 2001, I thought well, some people were violently killed, but not that many really (I was mortified when I learned of Sept. 11, but it was fear about what the US might do next). Same with the wars in Yugoslavia, Kurdistan, Afghanistan or Chechenya. I was deeply disturbed by the Hutu/Tutsi genocide, or by the ongoing atrocities in Algeria, or Zaire, as I would be by the historical atrocities of the Viet Nam war or the Holocaust if I lived then. But I don't think it marks me as an especially compassionate person to be enraged or deeply moved by such massive atrocities. So it's not that.

Nor am I particularly anti-racist, or a "cultural relativist". In fact I hold some views that people would mark as downright racist (wrongly, I think). For example, I believe it's not taboo to consider the existence of racially-correleated intellectual differences in people. It seems pretty obvious that, should any be found, they would be very small indeed and it would not be justified or ethical to base any discrimination on them. But it's not taboo. I also don't believe that all cultures are "equal" somehow. I think that some are actively oppressive and ours is less so and so it would be our ethical duty to intervene and make the worst ones less bad, if that was really our aim and it was practical. So it's not out of some abstract respect for equality of races or of cultures that I oppose the war.

Also, I don't believe terribly in sovereignty, leaving people to solve their own problems, and all that. More accurately, I don't think that inaction is a moral virtue. Not acting selfishly is a moral virtue, as is deferring important decisions that affect the lives of others to those you're trying to help, or to those who seem to be the best judges of the situation. Not thinking that you know what is right just because you have power is a moral virtue. To abstain and not intervene isn't in itself a moral virtue, and in fact it's often a vice. I don't think that that view is hugely atypical either, if people are honest.

I'm certainly not an ally of Saddam, Islam, the Arab World, or any such thing. I'd much prefer to be a citizen of the US than of Iraq, which is not much to say, but I'd even prefer to be occupied by the US than by Iraq. If I have to choose the lesser of two evils for me, personally, then the US is by far the lesser evil. Might not be the lesser evil for the World in general, but if I had to choose my own oppressor specifically I'd go for the US. So, not that either.

I don't even hold civil libetries sacrosanct. I do hold them in pretty high respect, and I am enraged by them being eroded based on mere excuses. But if somehow I was in a position of power and it came to a choice between respecting the civil liberties of some few or protecting the lives of the many, I'd do some pretty horrible things to the civil liberties of the few. I don't think that's what the authorities are in fact doing (I think they're trampling civil liberties in the interests of power, with no real justification) but if I had to choose I'd have to go for the safety of the many. Not a pretty choice, but I don't think I'd be atypical there.

So what is it then?

I do seem to have one really weird view. One that so freaks out the defenders of the war (or previous US wars) that I'm accused of being an extremist in all of the above ways, and yet they can't even see what it is that enrages them, even though I tell them to their face.

I don't believe in group loyalty. I don't believe that you should be loyal to your coutry, your class, your army, your family, your work, your race, your religion, your anything just because it's your group. You can have massive loyalty to individuals that you know and trust, to people who behave in a certain good way consistently, or to those who find themselves in a certain situation. But loyalty should be based on the actions or the situation of others. I really don't believe in loyalty to some group that you're born into or even that you choose, like a religion, without regard to the conduct of individuals in it.

This view is so extreme that the daily newspapers sound like some strange fiction. The weight they give to news, and their value system, just don't make sense. They might as well have "BASIS: WHATEVER OUR SIDE DOES IS RIGHT" written diagonally over the pages in large see-through type to aid interprtetation. So the papers really don't share my view. Most of the people I met at school or uni. din't share that view. My mother didn't share that view, and chastised me for not being adequately loyal to her or to my schoolmates. Very few people who write in liberal magazines or online forums share that view, and they're considered rather outspoken, like Chomsky. When I argue that view online, most of the responders, especially from the US, either think I'm insane or are genuinely reviled. Even among my friends today, some share that view and some don't.

So, I'm opposed to this war, as I am opposed to US domination elsewhere, because I really feel no loyalty to the dominators. Perhaps I'm supposed to, but I don't. I used to, when I was young and naive, but I don't any more. I do, in fact, probably benefit from US and British aggression more than I lose. I work for a British company that sells a lot of expensive medical products to the US. So I probably receive some small material benefit from this war, but I feel no loyalty to the aggressors, and once you get rid of that the case against the war wins with no contest. It's just this small difference from official morality that makes me opposed, as far as I can see.

Pavlos
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