Friday, January 09, 2009


There isn't a general term that encompasses sectarianism, racism and the other exclusivisms, and besides, even if there was, as the types of cases referred to increases, the specific impact of the term diminishes. As is the case with most of the isms

So we are without a ready-made vocabulary for talking about the common features of the Zionism that many American liberals and others support in Israel, the sectarianism that they support in Iraq, and other US-supported political exclusivisms including for instance the official racism of the Japanese establishment.

Still, even without a ready-made vocabulary, the concept isn't hard. The perks of power belong to the in-group, and others are only tolerated as long as they don't try to alter the system. As their frustration increases, some of the "others" will resort to violence, and bingo, you have the prerequisite for what you could call a Global War on Terror.

Some are more familiar with the workings of this system than others, and the least familiar of all are the Americans. So while the rest of the world recognizes that something historic is happening in Gaza--something like the beginning of the end of Zionism--you can have a prominent American liberal still calling this kind of event "banal", as if waging war on the UN and the Red Cross was something easily understandable as long as you have the right intellectual tools (in his case, 17th-century just-war theory--but in a pinch you use anything you can find). And people swallow this.

In a similar way, the collapse in public support for the sectarian parties and the sectarian allocation-system in Iraq has American liberals and others at a loss for words. Having preached the need for "reconciliation" for lo these several years, they are quietly coming to the realization that there can be no reconciliation in a system that is based on exclusivism. And yet the only public manifestation of this is the further flogging of the dead body of Bush-policy, as if that was all that is required. Come to think of it, maybe flogging the dead body is all that is required if you are a Democrat in the sense of a sectarian and a party hack (or aspire to become one).

The Japanese system is unassailable, and in that case the result is long-term economic decline, with the decline in the labor-force and the refusal of Japanese society to accept non-Japanese immigration for labor purposes except on an economic-cyclical basis. It is a choice they have made, but at least they have not been successful, in modern times, in taking anyone else's land in order to compensate for it.

It is the implications of sect-based or race-based exclusivism that seems to elude the American liberals. Or maybe it works like this: In times of change and turmoil, the sect or the tribe is strong in the short run, whether it is the Zionists in Israel and Washington, or the Kurd/SupremeCouncil alliance in Baghdad and Washington, but they are not strong in the long run, because in the long run they will not be able to protect their ill-gotten stash of land and influence from the incursions of those whom they have displaced.

It is a combination of short-sightedness and having succumbed to the blandishments of (temporary) influence and authority. Shortsightedness in the failure to see the overall principle at work. And what I find stranger than anything is the fact that liberal thought is supposed to be about common humanity and individuals as the bearers of common rights, and about the human potential for learning and moral development. Liberal thought is supposed to stand against the principle that politics and social policy are mainly about the application of force by the powers that be. And yet our liberals deal exclusively with that. And that is the reason they see nothing wrong with Zionism or with the institution of sectarian government in Iraq, and instead they vilify the opponents of those systems as actual or latent terrorists. Turning foreign policy into a branch of military policy. And while systems like this collapse on different schedules and in different ways, even when the collapse of Zionism is apparent to any sane person, still they talk only about military force and the "equations" of power.

I have probably not written that in the clearest possible way, but words are eluding me lately.


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