Monthly Archives: December 2012

Still Bourne

From one vantage point to another, as soon as one becomes too tiring, The Bourne Legacy’s happy ending can be taken as a wish or as a warning, as a facile and empty diversionary lie, or as a welcome reminder regarding the survival of some human-spiritual element or possibility amidst the death of empathy. We cannot help but be reluctant to follow the Bourne narrative all the way to its ending, not just to recognize but actually to realize that there is no such thing as escapist culture. There is only the culture from which one might wish to escape.

Posted in Movies Tagged with: ,

Society of the First-Person Shooter

A constitutional democracy expresses and validates its moral decisions through its lawmaking, but not if the decisions the laws are meant to embody have never actually occurred. If the turning point represents an actual moral commitment, and a turning to each other that also crosses current cultural and religious divides, then we can let the wonks tell themselves that it was really the Semi-Automatic Weapons Control Act of 2013 or 2017 or 2027 that finally put an end to the Auroras and Sandy Hooks and Oak Creeks and Tucsons, but it will have been, and will have had to have been, something far more important than any piece of legislation.

Posted in Culture & Entertainment, Politics Tagged with: ,

Operation Syrian Disaster

If there really is a coherent argument for U.S. intervention in Syria, however, it is one in which humanitarian concerns as well as Islamophobic nightmares play an at best secondary role. It may therefore come across as amoral or worse, making it ill-suited for public diplomacy and patriotic myth-making. That the desirable level of intervention squares with the semi-covert policy that the U.S. actually put into effect suggests that the Obama Administration, intentionally or not, is following just such an approach.

Posted in International Relations, Politics, War Tagged with: , , , ,

Chairman Mao and the Cosmopirates

If I could stand above the heavens,
I would draw my sword
And cut you in three parts:
One piece for Europe,
One piece for America,
One piece left for China.
Then peace would rule the world.

Posted in Books, Featured, History, International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, Philosophy, War Tagged with: , ,

Liberals vs the actual Egyptian state (cc @ibishblog)

Hussein Ibish sees the workings of a master plot, not quite the same as a the plot of a mastermind, in Morsi’s Egyptian maneuvers. Yet the strengths of Ibish’s criticism undermine themselves: The picture of Egypt that emerges – of the real Egypt rather than the Egypt of liberal aspirations – is of a nation dominated by non-liberal forces, in which the primary negotiations are effectively two-sided, between the forces of the nationalist-military deep state and of the Islamists.

Posted in notes, Philosophy, Politics, Religion Tagged with: , ,

Definitional Note on “Liberalism” as Ideal or Political-Philosophical Liberalism

In discussions at this blog I will generally employ the word “liberalism” to refer to a political-philosophical doctrine, rather than to liberalism as restrictively understood in contemporary American politics. In short, I am using the historically expansive but conceptually narrow definition of “liberal” to describe the doctrine of rights or freedoms of the individual human being as crystallized by early modern metaphysics, but under a practical awareness of the evolution of politicized liberalism to include “liberal democracy,” “social liberalism,” and “welfare state liberalism” as well as the pure or pre-socialized liberalism of “libertarianism” and the de-socializing orientation of “neo-liberalism.” American “constitutional conservatism” and “neo-conservatism” also lie within this same historical horizon, though they, like all other “real existing” liberalisms if perhaps sometimes more self-consciously, often seek to integrate diverse pre- or extra-liberal contents, such as traditional religion or a quasi-religious American nationalism, within a broadly liberal, modern, and democratic project: In the present era even those who seek to situate themselves beyond the liberal and chiefly liberal democratic horizon, but within the horizon of the evolving international system, must do so in relationship to liberalism, not merely as a philosophical or intellectual task, but in response to the political-economic and cultural influence of the liberal democratic states.

Posted in notes, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with:

2nd Précis: Cairo and Philadelphia (cc @hhassan140 @ibishblog)

On, appropriately enough, July 4 of this year, via Twitter as @hhassan140, Hassan Hassan (“HH” below) offered a provocative summary of an article on Islamists and the Arab Spring by Hussein Ibish (@ibishblog, “HI”). A colloquy between Hassan, Ibish, and myself (“CM”) ensued, its terms anticipating the same arguments, and the same situation, that informed that tweet of Hassan’s at the head of my “1st Précis.”

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion, The Exception Tagged with: , , , ,

Précis: Mecca v Athens (cc @hhassan140)

The day that the forces or vectors currently aligned against each other in Egypt as “Islamist” and “opposition” no longer treat each other with suspicion, mistrust, and fear would be the day that they no longer recognized any meaningful contradiction between their beliefs, the day that reason and revelation were the same, the day that the theocratic utopia and the liberal-democratic utopia were understood and experienced as the same utopia, which would also be the same day that neither was utopia any longer – “and many nations shall join themselves to the Eternal in that day.”

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion Tagged with: , , ,

Ignatius for a fantastical and self-destructive Egypt policy

Those who see or portray sharia as inherently illiberal will have already given up on a liberal politics in Egypt for the foreseeable future, while, as so often, expressing their liberal commitment to the inclusive and tolerant society through pre-emptive exclusion and intolerance.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion Tagged with: , , , , ,

stable state

Liberal presumptions re Egypt offer “textbook” examples of logocentrism, but in this world one book bounces against another.

Posted in Featured, notes, Politics, The Exception Tagged with: ,