Monday, May 15, 2006

Iran, Western Weakness and
the Cult of Inconsistency

Hat tip to Cox and Forkum for the cartoon. You can read their related commentary and links HERE.

There is an article at the Brussels Journal blog called "The Rebellion Against Reason and the Cult of Inconsistency." It's about the west trying to deal with Iran and their desire for nuclear weapons, but at the begining of the article, it first lays the groundwork for understanding what the nature of the problem is, which is what George Handlery calls the cult of inconsistancy. An excerpt:

Arguably, the success of Western Civilization and of its derivates can be attributed to the triumph of reason over irrationality in the course of its development. This process had its modest beginnings in the Middle Ages (at the outset of which Europe had a “traditional civilization,” meaning that it resembled all other previous and contemporary cultures). The movement then accelerated, and so it transformed its original environment through the Enlightenment and the eras that followed it. All through this there evolved a parallel and contrary trend. Its modern phase harks back to Rousseau. It continued with the “racialists” and scored with the Leninist version of Marxism and National Socialism as well as Fascism.

Those who can go along with this rudimentary sketch might agree that in the last century the counter trend grew stronger. So much so that its representatives have almost prevailed in the global struggle they caused. Although these systems seem to have been defeated, the use of the conditional suggests that the dominance of rationality is not assured. When I came to Americain 1956, a theme of a US History course that I attended greatly impressed me. Keen to know what makes societies, especially the American one, successful the insights were stunning. Briefly, the great decisions were mostly the product of a compromise issuing from strength. It became possible because, through a rational discourse the better, most convincing argument could prevail. The losers who still had some input on the course chartered have not lost everything: nor were they “liquidated” to realize a utopia. (This is not to insinuate that “Ausradieren” had not brought about lasting solutions.)

Nowadays the tradition of applying reason to find the best path leading to reasonable goals is being threatened. Worse, the patient polishing of positions while striving to evaluate ways and means regardless of where the conclusion might take one, is frowned upon. Just think of how the rational is depicted as “insensitive” and how facts that challenge someone’s doctrine which supersedes proof is qualified as an insult. How often do you hear arguments that are the equivalent of proclaiming: “The earth is flat. This my opinion. You say it is round. That is your opinion. We are equals. Thus my opinion is as good as yours.” Preempting discourse, arbitrary assertions abound. Challenging them is taken as an offense and the disapproval of it is demonstrated by staging extortionary protests spiced by riots.

The sense that there is a “right” to raise (non negotiable) demands that are inconsistent with another claim made concurrently, is spreading like oil on water. A typical case is “lower gas prices,” while pontificating “no new refineries.” Or: “Iraq is a failed state.” Its sovereignty “must be respected.” The trend is well represented in several of the components of the deliberations regarding Iran’s nuclear projects and what the world should do about it. This being possibly a crucial matter determining out planet’s future, it makes sense to deal with the inconsistencies of the opinions and positions that flow into the debate...

(bold emphasis mine) He goes on to demonstrate how this form of irrational and inconsistant thinking is being applied to the situation with Iraq. This article has stuck in my mind, because the problem the author had identified - political correctness as a weapon of rebellion against reason, and the resulting embracement of inconsistanties - is dangerously weakening western culture and our ability to function effectively and defend ourselves.

you can read the whole article HERE.

No comments: