Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fire In The Belly

Once you strip away the misleading “explanations” offered up by the cultural relativists, all that remains is disgraceful excuse-making for an ideology that requires its adherents to pull women’s fingernails out for the crime of wearing nail polish. It is an ideology engaged in an open revolt against humanity, against the values shared by Afghans and Canadians alike, and against an entire international order founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

That's from an essay by my comrade Lauryn Oates, co-founder of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, in today's Ottawa Citizen. Read it and spread the word.

Here's a "why we fight" photograph I took of Lauryn and some of her sisters in Afghanistan a couple of months ago:


Blogger Margo & Dave said...

But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude... Universal toleration becomes questionable when its rationale no longer prevails, when tolerance is administered to manipulated and indoctrinated individuals who parrot, as their own, the opinion of their masters, for whom heteronomy has become autonomy."

-Marcuse, "Repressive Tolerance"

8:19 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Even without making an attempt to translate that passage into the language of common speech, it seems to suggest that Lauryn Oates is a better writer and clearer thinker than Marcuse.

9:37 AM  
Blogger IceClass said...

Yeah, but I get the impression you knew that already Tel'.

9:43 AM  
Blogger IceClass said...

I forgot to add how much I find Lauryn to be a veritable blast of clean oxygen. What a contrast to all the wankers and posers chattering on the issue.
I'm feeling pretty low and cynical lately so Lauryn's shot in the arm was welcome.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Take heart, Iceclass.

The people will win.

11:10 AM  
Blogger IceClass said...

%$#@, I hope so.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Will said...

TG. I take issue with your comment on Marcuse.

He was a very clear thinker and a philosopher of great importance.

It's the fuckwits who quote him inappropriately and stupidly who are unclear (and dimwitted ignoramuses, pissants etc).

3:16 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Fuck. It. You have got me started now. Marcuse was a good lad but he was also wrong on occasion as his mate pointed out:

Adorno Vs Marcuse:

"I think that you are deluding yourself in being unable to go on without participating in the student stunts, because of what is occurring in Vietnam or Biafra. If that really is your reaction, then you should not only protest against the horror of napalm bombs but also against the unspeakable Chinese-style tortures that the Vietcong carry out permanently. If you do not take that on board too, then the protest against the Americans takes on an ideological character." (Adorno to Marcuse 1969)

Adorno wins on a knockout.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


Not meaning to slag Marcuse, just can't make head nor tail of the passage from "repressive tolerance" cited here. Can you?

4:36 PM  
Blogger Will said...

You need to read the whole article by him

"Freedom is liberation, a specific historical process in theory and practice, and as such it has its right and wrong, its truth and falsehood."

That's Marcuse as well (from the same piece) -- so no -- i don't know why the numpty above uses a quote out of context to prove nothing of anything whatsoever seeing as Marcuse could quite easily have been arguing for killing more Taliban than we (us) are.

Marcuse was always a practical philosopher. The cultural order is today much changed from what it was in the '50s and '60s and so Marcuse can be forgiven for not being so easily understandable to our currrent age of ignorance.

Marcuse, a Frankfurt School colleague of Adorno, worked for US intelligence during WW2 period, choosing the New Deal and the Popular Front ahead of intellectual detachment from events, which is all so untypical of todays 'intellectual' fence sitters and shitheads and the many who have objectively chosen the wrong side - or a quietism expressed as either out-and-out cowardice or an aloofness - an unpreparedness to sully their purity by getting involved in the 'horrendous' events unfolding outside of the study and the library that seem to be too vulgar to mention.

Marcuse was a *real* public intellectual. Too many fuckers are neither public nor intellectual these days. I shit on their heads.

Here is an excellent appreciation of Herb -- read it:

5:49 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thanks, Will. It's been years since I've read any Marcuse, but nevermind him for the moment. I especially liked your description, "a quietism expressed as either out-and-out cowardice or an aloofness - an unpreparedness to sully their purity by getting involved in the 'horrendous' events unfolding outside of the study. . ."

This is precisely the malaise at work over broad swathes of the Canadian "left" on the Afghanistan question. It derives from a simple preference to abstain from any venture in which one's hands get dirty, and to retreat into the false virtues of pacifist isolationism and parochialism, as our comrade Lauryn points out. It's auld Ontario Presbyterianism, only with dreadlocks.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Aye -- fuck 'em all.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Margo & Dave said...

Being one of the more accessible portions of his essay, I thought it apt, re: the cultural relativism trend expressed so brazenly by those with "an ideology engaged in an open revolt against humanity." For those who believe that a free society consists of tolerating the intolerant, I thought said quote would be elucidating because it evokes how an easy acceptance of such relativism only multiples victims who are served up in the name of the status quo.

My intentions were genuine, and I don't really think warrant being alluded to as a 'fuckwit' or a 'numpty.' Such aggression comes off as intellectually fascist.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Will said...


6:24 PM  
Blogger Will said...

By the way -- don't you think the time has now arrived that we all hunt down and kill all the boss class scum and make them pay?

I do. I am in favour of firebombing the banks and putting fuckers in hospitals that then get blown up -- the French know how to go about this shit.

Neo-liberalism -- you have been warned.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I see no "cultural relativism trend expressed so brazenly by those with 'an ideology engaged in an open revolt against humanity,'" and that wasn't Lauryn's point about cultural relativism. In the catalogue of ideological barbarism attributable to the Taliban, "cultural relativism" doesn't exactly jump off the page.

I'm not much of a fan of tolerance in the first place, but if you're point is that there are some behaviours and ideologies that simply can't be accommodated or "tolerated" in a free society, very well then.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Margo & Dave said...

I know what she meant. I was co-opting the quote to align cultural relativists with such barbarism.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I want to now apologise to "Margo & Dave" for being so aggressive towards.

Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick.

(you still came across like a dick mind).

7:09 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

There we go.

Kisses all round then.

7:48 PM  
Blogger thwap said...

Terry and all,

I'm not adverse to getting any hands dirty in pursuit of a larger cause.

What you don't seem to grasp is that in Afghanistan, Canada has decided to enter into a cauldron of violent hatreds while making only half-assed attempts to construct anything of lasting good.

We support a government propped-up by gangster warlords, riddled with corruption, whose own security forces are creating more and more insurgents every day, and you want to believe that somehow this will all work out for the best because in this time and this place US imperialism will act out of humanitarian impulses?

No what's been happening and what's going to happen is that we're going to get our hands dirty in pursuit of a dirty business, and our hands will be stained forever for nothing essentially.

You purport to be opposed to Islamo-fascism (or whatever you call it), but I fail to see how invading their countries and mocking their religions is going to make the Islamic world less insular and defensive rather than more so.

Canada and its NATO allies have had seven years to defeat the insurgency. Yet, somehow, it's only gotten larger. I'd submit that it has something to do with the amoral motivations of the people in charge.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


Your anonymity may allow you to make outrageous assertions without having to be embarrassed by them, but you clearly have no interest in learning anything about the subject you've come here to pronounce upon.

I've got to hand it to you for audacity, though. Telling me what I "fail to grasp" about Afghanistan - that's rich.

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. But worse than that, your claim that this is all about "invading their countries and mocking their religions" betrays an outrageous ignorance about Afghanistan, and more importantly it betrays a most lurid and bigoted assumption about Muslims. You have conflated the Islamist variant of fascism with Islam. How low an opinion of Muslims must one have in order to think that calling the Taliban ideology by its proper name amounts to mocking "their" religion?

But nevermind. You keep telling yourself these things. I'm sure it will make you feel much better about yourself. You are so virtuous; we are so beastly. And the world passes you by.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

PS Thwap:

There is no such thing as "the Islamic world."

8:33 AM  
Blogger thwap said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

The anonymous author of the post I just deleted instructed me thus: "Tell you what. We'll keep it simple. Limit your next reply to one issue."

Okay, here's my reply: Grow up. Cultivate some manners. Spend some time in a library. In the meantime, keep you gob shut about matters you know nothing about, and don't expect that people you insult will waste their time in trying to explain things to you, as generously as I have.

Life's short. Get on with it.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

thwap: "Canada and its NATO allies have had seven years to defeat the insurgency."

In point of fact Canada only began engaging in combat with the Taliban in early 2006 (except for Canada's brief six months at Kandahar in the first half of 2002). That's when Canada took over Regional Command South, first under US Operation Enduring Freedom and from August under NATO ISAF.

Before its expansion to Regional Command South NATO ISAF's role in Afstan was essentially non-combat "traditional peacekeeping".

More on the Canadians :

"...In February 2006, Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser took command of the Multi-National Brigade in Regional Command (South). With him came a Canadian infantry battle group to conduct operations against the Taliban in Kandahar Province, in an effort to establish a secure environment. These troops spent most of their tour in combat, eliminating the Taliban threat to Kandahar City and defeating armed concentrations of insurgent fighters elsewhere throughout Kandahar Province. In 2006, one diplomat and 36 Canadian soldiers were killed.

In the meantime, ISAF expanded its area of responsibility, replacing US Operation enduring freedom forces on their departure. On 31 July 2006, Canadian troops, now operating throughout Kandahar Province, returned under the operational command of ISAF."


1:02 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Dear Thwap,

Would that be the same evil U.S. imperialism that is still thwarting the democratic will of the long-suffering Germans and Japanese?

And what makes a leftie like you want to sell vulnerable minorities out to religious fanatics? Do you really think "they" all want to live under a theocracy?

BTW, why don't you post under your own name?

Terry - isn't the more serious criticism here that, radical Islam apart, much of Afghanistan is rural and (cultural imperialism alert) somewhat backward in its views on womens' rights and the rights of religious minorities. We can provide security and development assistance, but can we change peoples' minds about democracy, secularism, etc.
(I am NOT saying that all Afghans are tribal or traditional, but surely enough are that we face an uphill struggle).

3:01 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Craig. You raise a perfectly sound criticism, but it appears to be based on a couple of shaky assumptions.

You are right, although perhaps less right than you might think, when you say that rural Afghans are "somewhat backward" in their views on womens' rights and so on. And while it is correct to say, it does not follow that while we can provide security and development assistance, we can't "change peoples' minds about democracy, secularism, etc."

Here's what I mean.

All the polling data (and Afghanistan is now the most polled of all countries in Central Asia) show that Afghans want democracy, want the rule of law, want women vested with the right to go to school, to work outside the home, run for parliament, and so on. These views are not held uniformly across the country, but you might be surprised just how deeply secular, liberal and progressive views are held among even the rural Pakhtun people, who are commonly stereotyped as being especially "backward" in their views (the Pakhtun have a splendid history of democratic, non-violent struggle, by the way).

Secondly, Canada (i.e. the UN and ISAF, and NATO) isn't in Afghanistan to impose a worldview on anyone or change anybody's minds about democracy and secularism, except to the extent that our presence there is intended to make room and create space for democracy to flourish.

Afghanistan is also a very interesting experiment in the fusion of an Islamic republic and a secular, democratic republic; I am not convinced that it can't be done. The problem is not so much the idea as its execution: corrupt and barely literate judges, religious extremists on the high courts, ill-trained lawyers, insufficient resources for due process, and so on.

It's an "uphill struggle" alright. An understatement. But the Afghan people are worth it, and Canada is more than capable of making a great contribution to that struggle.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Terry: Quite. Many Afghans may have been without the law but they are no lesser breed .

We--and I mean Canadians--should not forget what we may yet achieve with, odd thought these days, some sacrifice. For a great good.


4:11 PM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

That's right, not all Afghans are backwards, corrupt, religious wingnuts (nor are all Texans for that matter). Not by a long shot. Keep telling the truth about this, Terry.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Thanks, Terry. I recall that you linked to some of that polling data in another post. And I agree that we are there primarily to provide the security without which liberalization can't take hold.

I also wonder if keeping the cities secure and free is not going to be crucial, for they are usually the incubators of modernity (and a place where people can go to if they need to leave their villages).

To Kurt and Mark - I was not channeling Kipling, just making the point that culture/values matter.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

"right, lads, I'm only going to show you this once:"

12:20 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"I also wonder if keeping the cities secure and free is not going to be crucial. . ."

Good point. As it happens, something like 75 per cent of the Afghan population, in the south - including Kandahar province - is urban. Can't recall who (was it Petraeus? Mark would probably know), but some military bloke not long ago pointed this out to make the point that concentrating on the cities is easier work than taking and keeping the countryside; it provides greater security for the greatest numbers of people. Not being an armchair general, I'm loathe to offer an opinion, but it sure seems to make a lot of sense to me.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Terry: Er, not quite:

At the same time, Edelman says, Petraeus is aware of the differences between the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"General Petraeus is always very careful to say, rightly, that based on his great work drafting up the counterinsurgency field manual -- the "Army-Marines Corps Field Manual on Counterinsurgency Operations" -- that each insurgency is different and has its own specific characteristics," Edelman says. "And there are big differences between Iraq and Afghanistan that everybody needs to bear in mind. Iraq is a very urban society. It was fundamentally an urban insurgency even in a place like Anbar [Province], where it was centered in places like Fallujah and Ramadi.

"In contrast, I think, in Afghanistan it is largely a rural insurgency. And the level of economic and social development in the two countries is extremely different. Afghanistan is a much more challenging environment in many ways."'


12:02 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Mark - the point I was trying to make doesn't depend on the percentage of the population in cities. Rather, it's that if you keep cities secure and free, then you (arguably) get a virtuous cycle where civil society can flourish, women can go to school, religious minorities can practice their faith, and people in rural areas can begin to see the benefits of a more liberal order.

Is this something that counter-insurgency theory talks about? If not, it may be because it makes no sense! :)

2:32 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Craig: The thing is that Afstan has essentially five cities of any size: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad. The rest of the country is really rural. Controlling those cities, indeed having cultural or societal "progress" in them (I'm thinking of Kabul in the Seventies, and the quotes are simply to fend off PC responses), has not made much difference in the great swath of the rest of the country--ever since the country was first formed in 1747 (so much for the "unconquerable Afghans"). One can hope, but things will likely take a long time.

No theory, just Afghan historical reality. See what happened to Amir Amanullah Khan, a reformer in the 1920s.

Which is not to say that things cannot and should not change. Just not easy and will take sustained/sustained effort on the part of the Afghans--and the rest of us.


5:19 PM  

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