I don’t know how far back in modern history the penchant for exploiting or killing journalists go, but as much has been a part of the peril for the intrepid since I signed on here in 2006/7. The evildoers haven’t the innocence required to boast their programs with authentic faith; instead, they manipulate their programs — the Communism, the Islamism, possibly the Capitalism as well, and all other such — to assault their enemies while corralling their believers. Power has become a deeply cynical game beloved of dictators. They will say anything to direct, focus, and incite their mobs. It’s into that environment that it seems modern “war reporters” now walk. They are no longer “telling the other side of the story” — they’re either helping the other side produce their “optics” — or they’re getting whacked.
What the west may do in conflict is adhere convincingly through doctrine to their own arguably superior ethical and moral codes.
Would only that there were that “Hail Dorothy” moment when the Wicked Witch has melted and the army subjected to the poor bitch is found to have no complaints.
BackChannels trope regarding dictatorships —
“Different Talks — Same Walk!“
More than “eyeballs” are involved in the stimulation of our defenses and imagination: there are tens upon tens of thousands of jobs created to deal with threat as fielded by various industries, and there are governments for which the installation of fear produces political power. Putin, for example, ran a false-flag operation to gain election and then had Russian troops unofficially run amok in Chechnya to strengthen the rebel opposition. He knew how to produce and use war, and there’s great suffering for that today along the spine of Moscow’s favored relationships and colonial or chaos-inducing ambitions. I suppose for the west, we now have a super counterterrorism industry, much needed, but one also begging the question, “How broad, how large, how institutionalized?”
Rob Dial offers an interesting view of the media-saturated mind.
Indeed, some of us used to do other and more pleasant things than share in the watching of the world’s great issues and tragedies for days, weeks, months, and years on end.
My own answer to that: try to get into retreat! 🙂
And narrow the scope of personal mission dimensions and project: “Tune Out; Turn Off: Drop Back In!”
That today is Counterculture!
The 18- to 21-year-olds of 1967 would today be 68 to 71 in age, and, oh my, how the once “hippy” world of “recreational drugs” has morphed into the world’s most lucrative scourge — and it’s not the “high”(ness) that makes it so, but in relation the lives thrown into associated industrial control — from manufacture to shipping to sales, related industrial-scale warfare across every continent, and that’s on one side, for on the other comes the policing, and that too would seem a rough business — and for the end-users, often enough wrecked lives — careers, jobs, homes, ordinary relationships — habituated and racked health, and, also and still, accidental death.
Related affected and infected states and larger regions have stories too in relation to their own “monkey” — there’s another phrase signaled by that metonym — and their own yards and backyards, but BackChannels will here reserve comment on that.
Perhaps by way of the editor’s accidental tourism in poli-sci and poli-psy, BackChannels has from the start been about the distillation of basic concepts and values. That’s evident down the column of the left sidebar (which hasn’t been updated in some time): there are the universals —
The six are what matter within ourselves if we are to support goodness and grace against the evil of a behavioral and moral vacuum.
They are perhaps the argument against the malign narcissism of politically absolute and inevitably sadistic systems of power.
In relation to a conversation about barbarism, cultural relativism, and civilizational superiority, the following moved mind-to-keyboard and out into a closed Facebook space:
Argument here has essentially to do with the civilizational character of cultural ethics, principles, and values and that is a little complicated by the fewer than 7,000 living languages extant that suspend and replicate thought from one generation to the next — or become muddled or die out.
Not to rapid-shift here, but when Mongol power receded from conquest in Russia, the princes, according to Pipes, had ingested and adopted the idea that the ownership of property and persons was natural and alike, and one test of sovereignty involved possession of the freedom to destroy either at will and with impunity. The modern Greco-Roman Judeo-Christian soul might consider that philosophy of absolute power / absolute ownership just a little bit . . . barbaric.
Whatever it is, it’s on display in Syria and Crimea, and as there seems to be a small cultural pride –how pure and pretty we may be! — theme in this forum, I would suggest this about the preservation of separable but not exclusive cultural, ideological, racial, and religious differences in appearances, ideas, and traditions:
Core X –> | Mixed XYZ –> |Fringe WXYZ x Primary Variable of Interest
No “theme” disappears but each has its core, its mixer, and its fringe and all have the freedom to choose what is most important in the character of their own survival.
There’s an old joke for intellectual youngsters: “Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen all at once; space exists so that everything doesn’t happen to you.”
As a political concept, what is important about ideas, including matters associated with self-concept and self-regard, is their distribution in geopolitical space and the equilibrium established or maintained between them.
So the world offers some small space for everyone who cares to assert that which is most important to himself as regards self-concept or identity.
There’s an old saw — and on the web attributed both to Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen without proof at the source! — “”The Jews are like everyone else, only more so.”
To answer the mother’s question, “Why can’t you be like everyone else!?” — we are all like everyone else, but we do choose some aspects of ourselves for highlighting, packaging, and presenting, and so may we all continue searching for — or finding — our individual space and time with, one may hope, a few others.
It has often been said that the Jews are like everyone else, only more so. And today, that is more true than it has ever been!
The world of our parents and grandparents was one of exclusion from the wider society. Living apart from the Ukrainians, Russians, and Poles was expected in the old country; when our forebears immigrated to this country many of them maintained their distinct dress, language, foods, songs, and of course religious rituals for a generation or so.
But my grandmother, who was 8 years old when she came to Boston in 1921 from the province of Volhynia in the Ukraine, did not want to be a “greenhorn.” She refused to speak Yiddish. She soon learned that she loved to eat lobster and clams, like so many other Bostonians. She wasn’t so interested in Jewish life. And so she, like many other immigrants, began to shed the ethnic attributes of the old world.
One friend who has pursued her own course in conflict and Islamic studies suggests that al-Qaeda represents the authentic Islam and all else are trying to wriggle through it or reform and revolutionize its cultural technology. In that the Ummah is as broad and varied as one might expect a natural human system to be, Muslims on many paths have become the first victims of “those” Muslims, and, indeed, out of themselves must come the army that defeats the past.
While it surprises me that Baghdaddi has gotten as large as he has — he has the basics: an ample treasury and believing or compliant troops — what is coming for him and his followers may surprise him.
Regarding the psychological character of the tropes of Jew hate, I use the term “paranoid delusional narcissistic REFLECTION of motivation”. Their language is their sheet of music, and no attack on any physical body amounts to anything without effort to get in the way of that poetic programming.
One hopes the “radical” (conservative) mosque message finds repudiation among the believers of a more modern cast, but the conservative kafir-side endorses a rightfully cautious paranoia: the speech presages a well-known, well-witnessed fascist evil.
The political program works probably works about the same way for the modern political and religious authority as it may have for Muhammad himself: it deeply manipulates and exploits the believing. While Hamas, for example, places noncombatants as shields against Israeli strikes at its war making facilities, Khaled Mashaal works the levers from his billionaire’s safety in Doha, his wealth having come out of treating the residents of Gaza as a business enterprise.
One could travel from one Botherhood-promoting Muslim autocrat to another and find pretty much the same canards and abetting political and social structures in place.
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I don’t worry about God or godlessness but rather appreciate that most humans have some kind of sentiment as regards divinity and that atheism is more the exception than rule.
The other concern, would that I would settle down, has to do with the way we organize ourselves in language and within language cultures. As boundaries shift or become transparent, differences become apparent temporally as well as spatially: we are simply not going to accept or tolerate anywhere a deeply feudal future, moats, and closed portcullis and all.
One thing changing, so I hope, is our propensity for judging the whole by a part — as when some talk about “those people”, who could be any — should be deeply degraded by far ranging conversation and greater knowledge, and that to the point where we can look at who and what specifically account for violent criminal and political adventures in this day.
In that vein, one may see that Bashar al-Assad and al-Nusra, for example, form a dark Janus: different talk – same walk. They’re not good people, and they are very similar in how they work as personalities. Knowing that, you would think the crushed middle would fight back with instant resolve, but it’s taking time for that middle to form its own robust defenses.
I’m going off to read for a while.
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This logic — that the Jews are admired for their success despite their small numbers and historical oppression — has also led to aburgeoning industry of self-help books that use Jewish culture and the Talmud to preach business tips.
I am not happy with all that I do on BackChannels, especially if approached as a neophyte in a hurry!
However, a post on a blog need not be academic (and juried), journalistic (and off the street), or even a boldly stated opinion (subject to challenge). It may be — and perhaps inevitably is — a collection of thought thrown into a conversation.
In relation to the previous, I have an M.A. in “Outdoor Recreation Resources Management” and experience with collecting and analyzing social science statistics, i.e., I got an introduction to empiricism many, many years ago. That educational experience has had a lasting influence on how I entertain issues when the same involve real people, real life experience, real space.
Creative endeavors involving acting (in creative writing: acting on paper), empathy, imagination have taken different paths in my life, or, to be honest, in my intellectual life, which has been rich.
For both governance and theater, perhaps things come together if and when there’s an accurate perception about people accompanied by an equally accurate apprehension of circumstance (person x place x time| context in history): when that happens, conclusions matter. Whether noting the absence of an army in the middle for Syrians or intuitively interpreting an often horrific urban circumstance as a challenge in rural development, I hope such thought and contributing process develops value in open conversation.
Why Kibera Slum?
Why 30 percent poverty in São Paulo?
The questions are big chunky crayon questions — they’re not going to get very far, but start to take them apart and distill them down to business and political actors and their decision-making processes . . . then apprehension develops, and then further disassembled culture x ethics x linguistics x psychology x political psychology, things may shift a little bit for the better, so one may hope.
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