Saturday, February 22, 2003

The blogoshed sits atop a hill beneath a mighty gum tree. Alas, it sits also behind a miniscule hamlet at the end of a perished telephone line. I went into town first thing on Friday to ring Telstra about it (the line being theirs), but their audio-tape informed me that I should ring the company whom I pay for my connection. That company spent Friday running an audio-tape that interrupted Enya dirges every thirty seconds to tell me how important my call was to them and that they appreciated my time was important to me. When finally, late that afternoon, I did get through to a very nice actually-living-in-real-time fellow, he informed me he'd have to ring Telstra to check if the line I claimed was dead was actually dead. He got back some time later to inform me that Telstra had informed him that my line was dead. Thanking him profusely, I took advantage of the moment to suggest it wouldn't be at all a bad thing if Telstra were to fix the line. The nice young fellow agreed that this would indeed be a good thing. Not before Monday afternoon, though. I should've rung earlier, y'see ...

The 'efficiencies' of competition in Australian telecommunications took away my Friday, filled my bloodstream with the killing juices of impotent rage, deprived me of the therapeutic outlet that is bloggery, and probably worked that nice young lad into the ground (the audio-tape would have you envisage a war-room full of ready-to-please 'consultants', but he sounded lonelier than a bastard on Fathers' Day and harder at it than Tony Blair's spin-doctor).

It's February and I'm already sick of 2003. Anyway just popped on to this channel to let you know you can have a few days off. Hopefully back midweekishly, blogsters!

Oh, and shall answer all except the particularly rude e-mails then, too.

PS Went to watch the Moity Roos clean Essendon's clock today. Nice to hear the club anthem - five times - but I notice the words 'North Melbourne' have finally been excised therefrom. I'm not sure this move to the brand of brandlessness has shown any sign of doing either Footscray or North any good, and whilst I fear for neither on the paddock, they may yet bleed to death under the ministrations of the AFL's all-theory-and-no-footy-lore marketing department ...

Monday, February 17, 2003

I've noticed you don't reply to my comments any more, Ken. Fair enough, if you can't answer, I s'pose.

Anyway, at least you read 'em. When I introduced you to the notion of consequentialism I should've mentioned that in moral philosophy it's considered, pretty unavoidably, to be part and parcel to those moral outlooks classed as 'utilitarianism' (so no need for the 'preferably' bit).

Anyway, you seem to imply (if I may try to lend coherence to all you have written on the subject) that a consequentialist outlook would recommend the invasion of Iraq. With mere history on my side, I sought to argue that the application of consequentialism suggested no such thing. Either way, the calculation aspect will make a fool of one of us. My *guess* (indeed the most optimistic scenario I dare entertain, should we go in) is that you'll be crowing by June and repenting ever thereafter., when we'll be confronting what Bernard Williams sweetly called 'the actual consequences of people's thinking in terms of imagined consequences'. That's what history tells me, anyway.

Rational consequentialist that you are, you're supporting the extermination of tens of thousands (by way of 'Shock and Awe' [PNACese for 'Blitzkrieg']) the starvation of millions when their oil-for-food rations are cut off for the duration, and a million-strong tide of refugees (by the UN's own reckoning) on the grounds that all involved will be better off afterwards than they would have been by a magnitude greater than this heinous cost (in 'units' of 'utility') of invasion.

That 'all involved' bit is a problem, too. You can't do a cost-benefit analysis without delimiting your universe (or 'domain') - which means identifying who is and is not affected, and thereby who is and is not relevant for the purposes of calculation.

Bit of a poser, eh?

My consequentialism (and I have put, inter alia, consequentialist arguments) takes the fraught step of predicting the future on the basis of what has gone before - a manoeuvre open to obvious question.

You dodge that one by ignoring history altogether. Hardly an improvement, if at least less reprehensible than the 'Saddam now = Hitler then / anti- war now = Chamberlain then" rubbish that infests the Blogmos these days. I could more tenably posit the Gulf of Tonkin 'incident'; the US turning its back on the League of Nations; the trouble big nations confront when they try to vanquish, tame and develop 'third-world' countries; the record (both human and strategic) of aerial bombardments in general; or the attraction war has for governments in crisis (of economies in crisis); or Ike Eisenhower's salutory warning the day he coined the term 'military-industrial complex' etc etc

I might also point out that consequentialism is heir to each and every critique ever levelled at utilitarianism in general. EG: are 'happinesses' or 'absences of pain' quantifiable, comparable and additive? (John Stuart Mill had trouble with that one, not being able to establish all three, as he realised a utilitarian was obliged to do
- unlike his sanguine mentor and the bulk of today's gung-ho economists).

Anyway, old lad, even if the moral argument were more convincing - ie if it weren't a last-ditch rhetorical attempt by the PNAC and their buddies to convince their civilised constituencies to submit to killing and dying when the latter could not be made to see *any* 'clear and present danger' from this weakened impoverished little country and its US-installed despot - especially when it occurred to them that to acquiesce would be to add to clear and present dangers their leaders seemed to be ignoring - like *actual* nukes in actually failing nation states [like Pakistan and North Korea] and *actual* 911 perps and their *actual* strategic and recruitment aspirations - well, even if it were, it's not nearly as clear a case as your foray into moral philosophy leads you to think it is.

Oh, and John Quiggin slams a few pretty long nails into your argument, too.


Sunday, February 16, 2003

Treasured blogorrheader Glenn has pointed me at something Slacktivist found in Mark Twain's many and splendid writings. The PR department has tried a few pretexts on us over the months, and has now fixed on what Twain dubbed 'conscience-soothing falsities' - false sometimes in the sense that they are completely untrue (eg. Iraq did S11), and at other times in the sense that ugly truths are tendentiously embroidered (eg. taking us seamlessly from 'Saddam is a bastard' to 'there must be an invasion'). Anyway this is something to share widely at this precarious moment, I think, so here 'tis:

Victory of the Loud Little Handful by Mark Twain

The loud little handful -- as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit
will -- warily and cautiously -- object ... at first. The great, big, dull
bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there
should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and
dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will
argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will
have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others
will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and
lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the
platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men ...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the
nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those
conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse
to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince
himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he
enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

political economic and cultural observations in the register of dismal dilettantism

06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002 / 07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002 / 07/21/2002 - 07/28/2002 / 08/04/2002 - 08/11/2002 / 08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002 / 08/18/2002 - 08/25/2002 / 08/25/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 09/08/2002 / 09/08/2002 - 09/15/2002 / 09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002 / 09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002 / 10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002 / 10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002 / 10/27/2002 - 11/03/2002 / 11/03/2002 - 11/10/2002 / 11/24/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 12/08/2002 / 12/08/2002 - 12/15/2002 / 12/15/2002 - 12/22/2002 / 12/22/2002 - 12/29/2002 / 12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003 / 01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 / 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 / 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 / 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 / 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 / 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 / 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 / 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 / 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 / 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 / 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 / 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 / 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 / 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 / 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 / 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 / 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 / 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003 / 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 / 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 / 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 / 06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003 / 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 / 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 / 07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003 / 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 / 08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003 / 08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003 / 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 / 11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003 / 11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003 / 12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003 / 12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004 / 01/04/2004 - 01/11/2004 / 01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004 / 01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004 / 01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004 / 02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004 / 02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004 / 02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004 / 03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004 / 03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004 / 06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004 / 07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004 / 07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004 / 08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004 / 08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004 / 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 / 09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004 / 09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004 / 10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004 / 10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004 / 10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004 / 10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004 / 11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004 / 11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004 / 11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004 / 01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005 / 03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005 /

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