Saturday, June 19, 2010

Israel, the West, and National Defense

            Someone, possibly Billy Blogblather, posted the following response to "'The Three Terrors', and the ongoing war against Israel": " Who cares, Lawrence?  They -- we -- are all just stupid little tribal peoples killing those outside the tribe because, well, because they're outside the tribe.  It's stone age warrior thought, but fought with rockets now.  I know you're bright enough to see through all this religious shit and nationality shit and manhood shit -- and recognize that no one's RIGHT.  We're all just astonishingly stupid tribesmen.  I spit on it all.  I spit on Christianity, I spit on Islam, I spit on Judaism.  They are all evil little tribes.  I recommend the UN give everyone living in the old Holy Land $10 K., plus 10 acres of Texas or Arizona land, and give them all  10 weeks to get their ass out of the "Holy Land", then to bomb that horrid, cursed land with enough nuclear material that it'll not be inhabitable for 200,000 years.  But, I'm sure that even after 200,000 years, all 3 tribes will still be around to claim the land belongs to them.  Seriously, folks, ya gotta love tribalism, it's the most tenacious damn thing in this whole  universe."
            LAWRENCE RESPONDS:  Blogblather raises some interesting points.  The first point I notice is the argument (which I shall put into my own terms and he may challenge them if my terms don't match his intention) that since there is no higher authority to appeal to, the Israelis and Palestinians have an equal right to the land.  The arguments of neither faction is "right."
            To begin with, I don't believe that "being right" is at issue here.  I'll grant that there is no higher authority, at least not any recognized by all sides, that can persuasively establish "right" and "wrong" for Israel and the Arabs. But is there any people anywhere in the world that live wherever it is they live, because they are right ?  I don't think so.  With very few exceptions people live where they live because they conquered the previous people who lived there.  And I doubt that the conquerors used the term "right" to back up their aggression.  They used some other term like necessity, revenge or lebensraum..  Israel is in a certain sense an exception.  They always had representatives living in the land even though, since 70 a.d. they were not the owners.  When Mohammad conquered the area in 630 a.d., the Arabs became the owners.  This lasted until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered the area.  The Mamluk's followed and ruled from 1270 to 1516.  After that the Ottoman Empire ruled the area, for the most part, until 1917.  The British ruled the area until 1948.  This outline is consistent with the way we humans have done business throughout our history -- wherever we have lived..   It might not meet Blogblather's standard of what is "right," but it meets history's standard of what is "human."
            As to the U.N. being able to invite aliens into Texas and Arizona, I think 1) the U.N. has no such power, and 2) even if they did, this would be very bad timing.  Arizona is cracking down on their illegal aliens.  That is, they are trying very hard to keep them out.   As to Texas, there is almost no public land there so not even the U.S. government can give acreage to aliens they import from the Middle East.
            As to the "tribalism" Blogblather criticizes, it may very well be in our genetic makeup.  We have always defended ourselves, our families and our tribes.  Is it "right" that we do so?  Again, I don't think the word "right" is the most appropriate word to use.  If it is in our genetic makeup to defend ourselves, our families and our tribes, then it just is.  Right and Wrong don't enter into the need to comply with this need, anymore than it would enter in to our need to breath or eat. 
            While it would be difficult to identify the gene that causes us to defend our tribes, it isn't difficult to show that every species, including our own, has a "survival strategy."  Survival strategies include the finding of food, procreation and for many species, self-defense.  Some species produce so many offspring they don't need a potent self-defense.  Prey species are good at running and hiding, but predator species, including homo sapiens, are good at hunting, fighting and self-defense.
            Humans take a long time to mature; so families are important for the protection and training of their young.  And anthropologists tell us that from well before the creation of written history, humans moved about in tribes.  A collection of families provided better self-defense than a family trying to survive in isolation from other families.  Blogblather might not like this, but it is a fact of human history and he is probably stuck with it.
            While Blogblather might not like the fact that tribes, and nations, defend themselves against each other -- and in some cases intrude into each other's spaces for one reason or another -- this is the way we have always operated.  
            Blogblather has in effect registered distaste for the human "survival strategy."  Perhaps he thinks it is outmoded and not "fixed" in human nature.  Perhaps he thinks mankind can "progress" beyond this "survival strategy".  I don't hold out much hope to Blogblather for any "progress" to be made over the survival strategy that homo sapiens has used from its beginning up until now.  Also, I have a bone to pick with Leftists who propose "progress" as a replacement for our human survival strategy, namely that no Leftist I've ever read has described this progress.  If there is such a "progress," Blogblather, then let's hear it.  Give us step, 1, 2, 3, or however many steps it takes, and let us see that it is a 1) practical and 2) superior to the survival strategy that has served us the hundreds of thousands of years we have been working our evolutionary way up to now. 
            In the meantime, it is easy for me to see that my own tribe (the United States) has a lot in common with other tribes embracing "Liberal Democracy."  It may not be true of every Liberal Democratic nation, but it is true of us that we have enough land.  We don't need any more -- as even Blogblather would concede if he expects to find a place in Arizona or Texas for all the contending parties in Palestine.  We Liberal Democrats fancy that we can live at peace with one another.  We are on the same side.  In Hunter-gatherer times groups of tribes banded together for one reason or another, so it is consistent with our survival strategy that we do so today.  We Liberal Democrats aren't simply "the West."  We include Japan, for example.  In fact we in the U.S. have gotten along better with Japan since World War II than we have with France, a Western Nation.   So it may be, to borrow the Leftist term, that we have "progressed" beyond the Western conglomeration of tribes and should be better described as a "Liberal Democratic" conglomeration of tribes.
            But in either case, whether "Western" or "Liberal Democratic" we in the broadest sense have a survival strategy.  Perhaps we could always afford, even in our hunter-gatherer days to support individuals who couldn't do the work of hunting or gathering.  And since The Banquet Years that Roger Shattuck refers to there has been an anarchic-pacifistic element in the West.  Large numbers of individuals have established that they personally will not fight if called upon to defend their nation.  We have seen this anarchistic-pacifistic trend especially in France, but it exists elsewhere in the world.  Given the nature of modern warfare, it is probably the case that if these anarchistic-pacifists work at other jobs in their given societies that those willing and able to fight to defend the common cause may be sufficient to the task.  We in the U.S. seem able to secure the "national interest" at the present time with volunteers.  Anarchists and Pacifists do no harm to the national weal, as long as there is a sufficient number willing to engage in the common defense.

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