The drone policy in all of its horror is itself a reaction to and indirect consequence of previous rounds of entirely well-intentioned criticism of the same type, and represents a further, as ever two-sided, penetration of legalism and humanitarianism into the conduct of war, not some “unprecedented” departure from legality and humanity.
The word “hero” in contemporary usage is an unambiguously affirmative, but anodyne, secular-sounding term for the conversion of the “fallen” from tragic victims into celebrated martyrs within a long tradition, indeed within a trans-generational chain of sacrifices all the way back to the founding of the nation in revolutionary war. To deny access to this form of transcendence, as Hayes and many like him seem to want to do – are in a sense ideologically compelled to do – is to reduce whatever act of war into killing and mayhem merely, the conduct of a state possibly unworthy of allegiance at all, much less of even one individual’s life, liberty, and happiness. It is to convert the martyr symbolically into the pitiful dupe at best, the murderer or war criminal at worst.
If the subject of democracy – the demos, the mob – has proven itself, as always expected by those not taken in by the hustle, unworthy of respect or responsibility, then what basis do Berman, Scialabba, or any of the rest of us have for deeming whatever “Fahrenheit 451- or Blade Runner-style” authoritarian oligarchy to be “catastrophic”? Catastrophe becomes just another name for life on Earth as ever, and authoritarian oligarchy, with space set aside for the New Monks, looks like the best anyone ever could have expected. How else are we supposed to keep billions of ignorant, violent, etc., people from destroying themselves?
The phrase “extravagantly metaphysical accounts of the self” already pre-judges and conceals the question. Any account of the self will appear “extravagant” from every conceivable alternative point of view. The position on the self – on Self as a universal or equally any self at all – is already a position on an infinitude and/or nothing, a category of subjectivity other than and opposed to objectivity.
“No ought from is” would be an is-statement fundamental to any ought. No one who believes it means it, as meaning is the ought of is, without which there could be neither belief nor who, and therefore neither being (much less nothing), nor statement.
The civilization-level question may point toward a technologically enabled defeat of organic kinship or, alternatively, its resurgence amidst the collapse of the Western or liberal-progressive model, but it may take a very long time for such a deep-going process – a matter of “generations” in more ways than one – to work itself out. At our moment, marriage equality remains a peculiar twilight phenomenon, part revision, part eclipse.
If you are committed to writing, and writing, and writing, day after day, in public, in a kind of literary intestinal bypass approach to authorship, then from time to time, for most of us quite regularly, you are going to say things that you or an editor would never leave to stand in a book or other traditional form of writing. Yet the opposite of what Sullivan says is also obviously true: Blogging is protection against making a total fool out of yourself because it’s a protection against any symbolically total or definitive statement at all. I don’t need to delete my foolishness. The next post, or the one after that, or the one after the one after the one after the one after the one will do it for me.
The traditionalists do not believe that the word “marriage” merely should be taken to refer to the union of a man and a woman, and they do not admit of a distinction between a popular or common usage and a legal one: They insist, over and over if rarely with explanation, likely under instruction by pollsters and spin-sters, that marriage simply is between a man and a woman – period. State and the law, they believe, should reflect this primary denotation, not merely because a one-to-one correspondence between common or traditional usage and the law is preferable in the abstract, but because the heterosexual union is biologically and organically the basis of human life, making any attitude towards it other than reverence both inhuman and morbid, all the more ominous as a principle of the state.