The terrorist kills because he cannot compete with his adversaries. Instead of responding to Salman Rushdie's ill-structured and unreadable novel with a novel that is well-plotted and properly written, the terrorist calls for his murder. The terrorist cannot challenge Theo van Gogh's controversial documentary with a better one and thus decides to stab him to death.
He draws a literary comparison:
Terrorists always remind me of a short story by Voltaire in which a bug is angered by the ticktack of a clock on the wall and decides to destroy " the monster". It has no time to find out how the clock is made, why it is there, and whether there might not be other ways of attenuating the sound of its ticktack. The bug is a terrorist; it wants instant result from a single effort. So it decides to rush headlong into the clock like one of our suicide-bombers these days.
The hands of the clock stop of a tiny fraction of a second but then continue their relentless counting of time, ticking and tacking as loud as ever. Our martyrdom-seeking bug, however, falls to the floor, crushed and lifeless. A few moments later the cleaning lady sweeps the corpse of the suicide-martyr bug into the dustbin.
Taheri focuses on the contrast between terrorists and competitors in the peaceful marketplace of ideas. But what of the contrast between terrorists and true revolutionaries? The latter have a long-term plan for replacing the existing order with a new one. The terrorist may wish for overthrow, but has no intention of doing that task himself; instead he simply looks to vent wrath for its own sake (and perhaps for 72 virgins). Terrorism has less in common with the American and Bolshevik revolutions (examples of just and unjust rebellion, respectively) and more in common with sports hooliganism and lynching.
Read the whole thing.
(Link via email from Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)
Update: Khomeni illustrates that terrorists may graduate to revolutionary status. But his act of terror played no consequence to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah.
A small handful of terrorist can compete, in a sense. They are the elite organizers of terrorists, Yasser Arafat being the quintessential example. His success came in his ability to convince idiotarian appeaseniks into believing that Palestinian terror was the fault of Israel. (Try using that logic on attacks against abortion clinics and see what kind of response you get.) His rewards were international prestige, hefty bank accounts full of embezzled money, a surrender of land from Israel with nothing tangible given to Israel in return, and a peaceful death in Paris without ever having to face a court of law.
But success for Arafat (and his cronies) didn't translate into success for Palestinian Arabs (and certainly not for Israelis). The Palestinian leadership is not ushering in liberty-based representative government, and refuses to wage all-out war against Hezbollah, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and other terror organizations operating in Israel.
Taheri's theory deserves a caveat. Terrorists cannot overthrow their adversary - even Arafat could not defeat Israel - but they can exploit other terrorists for personal gain.
There's a hilarious site called Stone Trek, that hosts (large) Flash animation parodies combining elements of Star Trek and the Flintstones. Scroll down and click "Enhanced Site" or "HTML Site" (whatever your preference) and follow the exploits of prehistoric space explorers James T. Kirkstone, Mr. Sprock, and Dr. Leonard "Fossils" RcKoy aboard the USS Magnetize. Watch the animations and read the glossary and character bios.
Last week at Samizdata, Robert Alderson has a the latest emergence of the "Islamic Luther" meme:
The West could do worse than translate the Qur'an into local dialects and publish it on the Internet or even drop it from airplanes! We need an Islamic Martin Luther to open up the religion.
Evidently, his idea is to break the mosques' monopoly over the printed Qur'an, allowing a greater number of Muslims to assess the Qur'an for themselves rather than depend on clerics to tell them everything.
In contrast, Jonah Goldberg (column cited by TJIC in comments) takes a more pessimistic view of the Reformation. Goldberg sees the short-term violence - some of which, it should be noted, was sparked by the very sort of mass unauthorized scripture publication that Alderson recommends.
Both views miss the big picture.
Y'all may have heard about how Christianity triumphed over imperial Rome due to Constantine I making it the state religion. Now here's what really happened. Christianity began as a private-sector voluntary network. Constantine did not liberate the faith; he subjugated it to the state.
Catholics will say that the Reformation broke the unity of the Church (that is, the unity of the post-Schism Roman half of the church). This sentiment is based on three faulty assumptions: that Catholicism indeed enjoyed a high degree of unity, that the unity of the fellowship of believers depended on the continued power of Church hierarchy, and that the continued power of Church hierarchy was a good thing.
The Catholic Church was a unique creature: essentially a city-state with officials serving both the Holy See and a foreign government**, charged with regulating religion and collecting ecclesiastical taxes (and other revenues) in the nation in question. In any church-state amalgamation, the state holds the real power, and the state religion will, over time, redefine itself in accord with the whims of its political master. Even when the church is a state, over time the worldliness of its political functions will corrupt its spiritual foundation.
(**The Spanish Inquisition serves as an example of the conflicts of interest that can arise when clergy serves both Rome and, in this case, the crown of Spain. King Ferdinand wanted the Inquisition in Spain, but Sixtus IV did not. One of Ferdinand's weapons was the lobbying efforts of one of the Pope's own employees - Rodrigo Borgia, Bishop of Valencia. RTWT. Unity of the church, my Aunt Fanny.)
The Reformation broke the Catholic Church, from one big giant political entity to several smaller ones. The propagation of Bible translations were a side effect; the Protestant leaders needed to be able to preach to the masses, and the masses (and probably many of the leaders) didn't know Latin. For several generations, printing a new Bible translation was a cause for division; William Tyndale was burned at the stake in 1536 at the order of Henry VIII as punishment for his translation.
The splintering of the church was necessary. The Church Political had to be weakened so that the private-sector church would eventually prevail against it. Imagine if there had been no Church of England, and the struggles for freedom waged against it had instead been waged against an unbroken, international Catholic church. Almost all Reformation-era sects believed that the church was rightfully an extension of the state. Privatization was the work of segments of the Enlightenment, not the Reformation.
This opens up a whole other can of worms (no pun intended) - myths about the Enlightenment. No, it didn't represent a single philosophy. No, not all of it was conducive to liberty. And no, nein, nyet, it was NOT a war waged against secularists and religious folk that the secularists won. (The secularists won in France.) The Scottish Enlightenment, for instance, gave the world the award-winning Scottish Calvinist minister Samuel Rutherford, whose opus Lex Rex maintained that kings were subject to the law and not synonymous with it, and that election and not hereditary title should determine political leadership. It is no coincidence that church privatization was most successful where political power was most decentralized.
I can't do justice to the post-Enlightenment church history; the quick story is that the interdenominational warfare eventually ended. State churches remain, but have lost their teeth; now that their governments are no longer interested in waging ecclesiastical wars, these churches now serve largely as pretty ornaments to be displayed on special occasions - not exactly the mission Jesus had in mind. The Catholic Church has likewise become a more consistently peaceful church (Venice is safe). That modern Popes have a much better reputation among Protestants than their 19th century predecessors did must say something positive about the state of both the Catholic and Protestant spheres.
A Reformation post such as this may attract two sets of kneejerk responses: Catholics wanting greater mention of the good the Church has done, and Protestants wanting a bigger laundry list of Catholic depredations. This post is not about the entire Catholic balance sheet, but about a handful of specific issues. Quite frankly, Rowan Williams shoud be more offended than Pope Benedict XVI.
Applying lessons of Christendom's history to Islam is problematic. First, is that it assumes a fair resemblance between the ethical philosophies of the two faiths. I will not address that topic at this time; it requires an extensive comparative analysis of the Bible and the Qur'an that cannot be done in a single weekend (or month).
One critical difference between the two faiths that I will raise is that Islam did not start out peacefully as Christianity did. Mohammad led the city-state of Medina to conquer Mecca, and later conquered all of the Arabian peninsula. Israel was also forged in war, but the Old Testament states that the war orders, notarized with visible-to-all miracles, applied to a specific enemy (Amorites) that no longer exists. Islam has a chance of a place in the civilized world if it can make a similar claim - that Mohammad's war was likewise a one-time deal; scholars must be able to logically demonstrate that Mohammad did not call for (or explicitly warned against) raising the sword beyond Araby.
Note also that Islam has never existed as a single multinational organization in the fashion of the Catholic Church. Mosques obeyed their individual governments, not some pontiff in Mecca. Islam is already splintered, so the real question is whether a Lockean type of enlightenment can arise somewhere within the Muslim world. It will require privatization of the mosque; the clerics must value their own religious liberties - to interpret the Qur'an, Hadith, etc. on their own without the government breathing down their necks - more than they value the lure of totalitarian power.
Update: I inserted the word "largely" in the text originally reading, "these churches now serve as pretty ornaments." Don't want to paint with too large a brush - Western European spiritual life is mostly dead, but not totally, and I'm sure that there are some clergy who do more for society than going through the motions of office.
Just to be clear, this characterization only partly applies to apply to the Vatican. The "pretty ornaments" phrase points to two criticisms. The first is the spiritual staleness of European religious life, which permeates both Catholic and Protestant churches. The second is a lack of significant work among top leadership to improve the overall human condition. What European state church leader has impacted Europe for that good even half as conspicuously as Pius XII and John Paul II? If there's one I don't know about, let me know.
Gone is the PayPal button, an experiment which had long run its course.
The Rummy quote is now an animated GIF on the sidebar. If you scroll to the very bottom and do a "select all," you'll see the quote in very tiny print - an old website trick for getting the attention of search engines.
The Estonia and Israel icons under "honors" are much smaller; this and other changes bring the blogroll portion closer to the top of the page.
The Henderson Prize announcement is now a temporary marquee at the top of the body portion of the blog.
The row of links along the top are new, with links to my slightly-informative Blogger Profile, my continuously-updated "Countries on my Blogroll" post (a world map powered by World66.com's "visited countries" site, which highlights countries represented on the blogroll), the page at Sasha Castel's (currently in hiatus) blog that lists all my posts there, the Henderson Prize for thre Addancement of Liberty site, and an email link.
I now have comments! The comments window has a montage of images from POE News' Rumsfeld Fighting Technique post, and a list of comments rules, except for one extra: don't try to guess the winner of the Henderson Prize! I will delete such attempts.
If you haven't seen it, there's an update to the previous post. Joe Bob says check it out.
I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
Wonkette goes ballistic over Ann Coulter's take on the Dread Pirate Judicial Nominee Roberts (emphasis added):
Just when we were ready to settle back and let lefty interest groups ineffectually gum their way into the center of the Roberts nomination fracas, along comes the redoubtable Ann Coulter, to alert us that the fetus-defending, Florida 2000-strategizing jurist is insuffiently right-thinking. Here's the nub of the pundit-stick-figure's lament:
Conservatism is sweeping the nation, we have a fully functioning alternative media, we’re ticked off and ready to avenge Robert Bork . . . and Bush nominates a Rorschach blot.
Let's just review that reasoning for a moment: You've won control of the political climate and all three branches of government . . . and you're "ticked off"? So much so that you think a "fully functioning alternative media" will put over a hard-right nominee to the Supreme Court? And this would all avenge Robert Bork . . . how, exactly? We're thinking Bush may have nominated a Rorschach blot because, well, you really NEED one, girlfriend.
And you need some vocabulary lessons, Holly. "Control" means that you get to make something do whatever you want it to do. What kind of barking moonbat would think for a moment that Dubya has been able to implement all of his political agenda? Or that even a significant portion of what he accomplisged got down with relative ease and efficiency?
Anybody pay attention to the judicial nominations? Children have been born and taught to form coherent sentences in less time than it took for some of those nominees to get a floor vote - and some are still waiting.
Why is Social Security privatization taking so long if the Republicans have control?
And how about spending policy? Would Bush be spending differently if he didn't have to appease liberal Democrats and Spectral Republicans? We don't know for sure, because we haven't had majority support for sound economic policy in both houses in recent memory. Let's get Blue Staters of both parties to vote for some actual fiscal conservatives, and see if Bush continues to act like a drunken Spring Breaker in Cancun with the parents' credit cards.
Specifically, the Instituto Internacional de la UNESCO para la Educación Superior en América Latina y el Caribe (Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Click here for an image of the email contents. Remember that this is a screenshot (well, two screenshots pieced together); the imbedded hyperlinks from the original email are not present.
Here's the web address for IESALC: http://www.unesco.org.ve. Note the "ve" suffix - that's the country code for Venezuela.
One of the ideals of Star Trek is loyalty and courage in the face of great adversity. James Doohan lived this ethic in real life; Wikipedia tells the story:
At the outbreak of World War II, aged 19, Jimmy Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery, and was eventually commissioned as a lieutenant. His first combat assignment was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers along the way, Doohan led his unit made its way to higher ground through a field of tank mines and took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan took six hits from a German machine gun: four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his middle right finger. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case; the shot finger was amputated, and on screen he would generally conceal this. Despite his wounds, Doohan remained in the military, trained as a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and flew an artillery observation plane, though he was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces".
See his IMDb listing and his Startrek.com bio, and this high-resolution image of Doohan posing with the plaque commemorating his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Our story left off with the startling discovery that, in our future and time traveler Dave Wowee's present, what was once the United States split off into two nations - Crimsonia and Azuria - along the blue-red demarcation of the 2004 election.
Oop and Ava remain hidden as the Crimsonian leader instructs his assistant (named Conrad) to retrieve data from Dave's computer. (Earlier the two men who had planted the terrorist data files on the computer had notified Conrad by cell phone when they were finished.) The leader produces a sheet of paper with a list of the terrorists whose names had been added to Dave's address book - but Dave shows that those names (thanks to Ava's work) are not there. Conrad makes a careless slip of the tongue; "I don't understand what happened! IT's GONE!!" The leader yells, "QUIET!! NOT HERE!!" and ushers his men out of the room.
With the Crimsonian officials gone, Oop and Ava come out of hiding. They use Ava's and Oop's transport buttons to send everybody to Wonmug's lab. Somehow Dave's history got changed. Ava figures it out - the transport buttons Dave made for Doc Wonmug and company. Dave takes the buttons says he'll and go back in time to prevent himself from giving them out. As soon as Wonmug sends him back through the time machine, Wonmug, Ava, and Oop have no memory of his visit or how they got to where they're standing.
Not long after, Wonmug gets the idea for the transport buttons on his own. Ava objects when he makes one for Oop: "Don't you think it might affect history if we send him to Moo with one?" Wonmug agrees. Oop remarks, "That's okay! I can think of some folks back home who shouldn't get their hands on this."
That comment seems to suggest what changed history. The Crimsonian leader was a large, bald, stocky fellow with scruffy facial hair - a caveman?? It would seem that, had Oop returned to Moo with one of the time travel devices, one of his contemporaries would steal the button one way or another, discover and take over Wonmug's lab, and set his political aspirations to Dave Wowee's time.
Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn raise, with good reason, the question of why Saddam gave haven to Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the men who in 1993 helped make the bomb that ripped through the parking garage of the World Trade Center. They detail a contact between Iraqi intelligence and several of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Malaysia, the year before al Qaeda destroyed the twin towers. They recount the intersection of Iraqi and al Qaeda business interests in Sudan, via, among other things, an Oil for Food contract negotiated by Saddam's regime with the al-Shifa facility that President Clinton targeted for a missile attack following the African embassy bombings because of its apparent connection to al Qaeda. And there is plenty more.
This column has been getting some recent attention; I received a link from a Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi email. Kenyan economist James Shikwati pleads for an end to economic aid to Africa, arguing that it actually contributes to Africa's economic woes. Brief summary: it funds bureaucracies and discourages the entrepreneurial spirit. Read the whole thing.
Then read this January 2004 post on the relationship between economic freedom and per-capita gross domestic product. Pay close attention to this chart:
The data haven't changed much in a year. If you go to the Index of Economic Freedomsearch page and do regional searches on North Africa/Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, you'll find that NO African nations score in the "free" range (1.00-1.99), and only seven are "mostly free" (2.00-2.99): Botswana (2.44), Madagascar (2.68), South Africa (2.78), Cape Verde (2.84), Mauritius (2.90), Mauritania (2.93), Senegal (2.99).
The CIA Factbook's current ranking of per-capita GDP shows three nations with per-capita GDP higher than the world average of $8,800, all with "mostly free" Index scores: Mauritius ($12,800), South Africa ($11,100), Botswana ($9,200).
Economic reform must begin with political reform. Free those markets, and maybe one day there'll be some African nations as rich as Greece (per-capita GDP of $21,300).
Last Sunday's Doonesbury took a shot at the blogosphere, portraying bloggers as impoverished cat-food-eating malcontents. The Volokh Conspiracy's Jim Lindgren has the story.
(One hopes that Northwest University is paying him enough that he doesn't have to limit his grocery shopping to the pet food aisle.)
Actually the strip slurs more than just bloggers. With all the dollar stores out there, how many poor people have to resort to buying pet food? With macaroni and cheese at four boxes for a dollar, who needs cat food? Even at a regular grocery stores you can find dirt-cheap lunchmeat such as bologna or cotto salami that costs less than its equal weight in Friskies. And ramen - don't forget the ramen. Depending on where you shop, you can get 4 or even 6 three-ounce bags for a dollar. I ate a lot of that stuff when I was an impoverished college student.
Oh, one more thing. By weight dog food costs less than cat food. Man's best friend, indeed.
Original posted July 4, 2002. Every year a change is made:
2003 Original image of WTC replaced with mini-collage of WTC, Liberty Bell, and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. 2004 Image of young girl celebrating the liberation Iraq; LOTR quote. 2005 Iraqi girl image replaced by Iraqi voter; Cathy Seipp quote via Samizdata.
Through these fields of destruction Baptisms of fire I've watched all your suffering As the battle raged higher And though they did hurt me so bad In the fear and alarm You did not desert me My brothers in arms
Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"
"Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck, or possibly even a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?"
Vasili Borodin (played by Sam Neill), The Hunt for Red October
"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Martin Luther King
"The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"Funny that the same people to whom diversity is a holy word so often bemoan diversity of opinion as divisive. But in a democracy, politics are naturally divisive: you vote for this candidate and someone else votes for that one; you vote yes (or no) on a proposition and other citizens disagree. What's not divisive? Saddam and his 99.96% of the vote. That's how it went during the previous Iraqi election -- an illustration of the Latin roots of the word fascism, which actually means a bunch of sticks all tied together in one big unhappy unified bunch, and not (despite what many assume) any variation from p.c. received-wisdom regarding gay rights, affirmative action, bilingual education, etc. This election was different because it was divisive, which means it was better."
"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
Sam Gamgee (played by Sean Astin), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
"[W]e recognize that we are living in the middle of the most overwhelmingly successful experiment in human history. Not perfect. Just the best place in the world to live in, that's all."
"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."
Number Six (played by Patrick McGoohan), "The Prisoner" TV series
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
"So this Jefferson dude was like, 'Look, the reason we left this England place is 'cause it was so bogus. So if we don't get some primo rules ourselves - pronto - then we're just gonna be bogus, too."
Jeff Spiccoli (played by Sean Penn), Fast Times at Ridgemont High
"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Economic theory is a linear equation that seeks to maximize human prosperity within three constraints: finite wealth, finite market knowledge, and finite human morality. Socialism underestimates the second and third constraints, and therefore cannot achieve efficiency.
(Inspired by the comment thread to this post at Redwood Dragon)
Prediction Two: Democrats will reconsider filibustering Supreme Court nominations when Roe v. Wade is overturned by a vote of 2-1.
Update: Eugene Volokh informs me in email that the Supremes require six members to establish a quorum. That rule is set in the United States Code (specifically, 28 USC § 1). Congress could change that rule - but an attempt would get shot down faster than Bill Gates at a Linux convention.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Dems ever engaged in a filibuster campaign to bring the Court below quorum.
Blogger has installed a setting that will disable the format-wrecking <dir> statements that Blogger has recently been inserting into every post - see Blogger Buzz for instructions. And don't forget to hit "republish blog" every time you change the template settings.