A story of village life
October 1, 2002 8:10 AM   Subscribe

A story of village life A witty analogy for the current world situation. Here is another one. If anyone has a good justification for war I would like to hear it, come on convince me!
posted by cohiba (23 comments total)
Paging Mr. Steve_from_Linnwood, we are in need of right-wing ranting in thread one...Steve_from_Linnwood...
posted by goethean at 8:13 AM on October 1, 2002

an analogy - yes, a tad strained. This thread really should be deleted, all the shouting gives me a frightful headache.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:29 AM on October 1, 2002

Its easy to give people warm fuzzies by oversimplify issues. If you really think you can sum up the entire situation in a couple short paragraphs, your wrong.
posted by H. Roark at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2002

Remember the word "Linkage", that had a brief popularity back in the 1980s? It was the concept that every major world event had repercussions. Other words that come to mind are "Byzantine Scheme" and "Realpolitic." Bush, Sr. was said to be a master of it, both in the Intelligence world and in China affairs (or so the Chinese believed.)

The assumption is that we are going to war on the impulse of the moment, be it 9-11 or oil or anger. The juvenile behavior once attributed to petty gods--never any complex or thought out stratagems or schemes. Certainly no ulterior motives!

A military strategist once told me that the most important expression of good prior planning, "And then what happens?" In this case, "So we depose Saddam...then what?"

Does Iraq become like Yugoslavia? It could, being almost as 'Balkanized'. Is it divided up between Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia? Each of these has expressed interest in that scenario. Does Turkey (NATO and Europe), control the northern oilfields and thus the second largest reserve in the world?

And what if Iraq attacks Israel? Does it use its formidable Jericho II (recently upgraded) medium range nuclear missiles to utterly annihilate Baghdad? And Mecca? And Riyadh? And Aman? etc.?

And a thousand other variables. But no! We would only attack Iraq over 9-11, oil, or anger.

Americans just have a limited attention span, I guess.
posted by kablam at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2002

it all works out so simply. just like on tv.
posted by Hall at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2002

Do we have the story link to the actual article, A Story of Village Life, as this is the editorial to the editor?
posted by thomcatspike at 8:33 AM on October 1, 2002

A bit of clarity, please: do you mean that war is always unjstified or in the case of Iraq?

The dumb parable or story is too banal to comment. I assume that most folks keep petrol somewhere about for snow blowers, lawn mowers, etc....but burning down your house is not the same thing as burning down mine while you keep yours intact, which is what a "bad" country might do.
posted by Postroad at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2002

Considering your opinion of what constitutes 'witty' and apparent attention span based on the links, I suspect explaining the complexities which have contributed to the current state of global conflict would fall upon deaf ears.

Posting this here is largely preaching to the choir anyway. Were you looking for a pat on the back or just a 'right on brother!'? Some people agree with you, some people don't. Most pro and con arguments have slipped into a painful simplicity which doesn't help anyone.
posted by joemaller at 8:47 AM on October 1, 2002

I simply don't buy any of the arguments for attacking Iraq which are going around. The big one, we are told, is weapons of mass destruction. Well lots of countries have those including China, only one country has used a WOMD in the last 60 years, the USA. If it's a concern over the willingness to use weapons of mass destruction we should be considering invading India or Pakistan.

If this is about harboring terrorists, well according to the popular press we all do that. Apparently, there are terrorists waiting to strike in every mosque in the UK, and here in Leeds, West Yorkshire we have a few mosques. So I don't buy into that argument either.

Maybe it's to do with the fact that Saddam is not democratically elected and his human rights record is a concern. You could give exactly the same argument about Iraq's neighbours, Saudi Arabia. But we are told the Saudi's are our friends? So again we don't have a valid argument.

Am I missing something?
posted by cohiba at 8:51 AM on October 1, 2002

Uh, guys, I don't think the "letter to the editor" was meant as a serious analysis of world affairs. It was what specialists in the field call "a joke." Me, I thought it was pretty funny. If anyone's world view is challenged, they need to take it in to the shop -- the sparks probably need replacing. (Of course, cohiba does seem to be treating it as an analysis of world affairs, but he's doubtless bedazzled by the prevalence of such mindnumbing analyses here of late.)
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on October 1, 2002

Sir or Madam -

I recently moved into this village, and I must say that I'm very concerned. My neighbor, two doors down, seems to be staying up late in the evening and firing a shotgun out his second story window. This happens several times at night. No one can figure out why.

In addition, he owns several large dogs, and when some village boys cut across his property yesterday, he opened the door of his house to let the dogs out, yelling "get um! get um!" Several of the boys were hurt, one was sent to the hospital. I spoke with an officer of the law, who told me that unless someone presses charges, there is nothing the police can do.

I don't believe anyone can feel safe in a place where one's neighbors act in a violent manner. Sooner or later someone will respond violently to protect themselves, and the situation will escalate until more people, perhaps even random passersby, will become injured, or even killed.

We should all go down to police headquarters, lodge complaints about the discharge of firearms and dog attacks, and demand that this man be incarcerated pending a mental health review or a judge's decision.

Yrs, A Concerned Villager
posted by ewkpates at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2002

If you really think you can sum up the entire situation in a couple short paragraphs, your wrong.

Is this like "my bad"?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2002

These links would have made nice little humorous punchlines inside a thread, but they don't constitute front page material...I doubt this thread is long for this world.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:03 AM on October 1, 2002

Thank you Languagehat,

I think my point is that I feel totally divorced from the whole situation. It is almost (but not quite) too bizarre to take seriously. I guess I get tired of asking why and not hearing a valid reply. If humour can provoke some decent debate then I guess that's better than non-participation.
posted by cohiba at 9:07 AM on October 1, 2002

Howard Roarke wrote: Its easy to give people warm fuzzies by oversimplify issues. If you really think you can sum up the entire situation in a couple short paragraphs, your wrong.

You're right, Mr. Roarke. I think simple issues, such as the teenager's tendency to say, "I'm better than everybody else and OF COURSE the only reason to be alive is to make tons of money you can't take with you," should be extended into 1000-page novels. Don't you?
You're worse than Scientologists

As for there being a justification of war, I'm going to lay out the entirety of the universe for you in a few simple sentences and cap it off with a reason why war is very rarely necessary. Ready?

In the beginning we have matter in groupings. This gives rise to forces and in turn systems, such as our sun, our planet, our weather, and the birth and death of continents. Planetary gravity grabbing free meteors, black holes stray planets, as systems rise and fall from existence. Eventually by pure chance one of these systems will happen to exist in a reproduction-capable form. Since there are two means by which to avoid passing from existence: reproduction and immutability, and the latter is impossible, the former is the one we see resulting inevitably into everything from bacteria to the chimps throwing feces at your son at the zoo.

Some of these systems learn through selection to work together to prolong their species, and once cooperation has reached sufficient levels of effectiveness to permit mostly-unhindered survival some 'learn' to betray this cooperation for individual gain (to the extent that group survival continues). In a similar mechanism we see the capacity for lying in social situations emerge in higher apes - the ability to project what another individual's goals are and use that projection against them. Jack it up another notch and you have the ability to formulate entire theoretical universes in which advanced problem solving can occur. Toss in good vocal chords so that effective communication can occur - transforming the species into a massive network of which each individual is a node - and turn up the IQ sufficiently and you have the human race more or less as you see it.

So we're here, some of us queer, and what are we to do with this awesome sentience with which we've been gifted? Some thought that it would be interesting to fly in the face of the natural selection and cruelty driving this entire development - to give our presence some more meaning than being yet another variant of resource-accumulator. Unfortunately socialism hasn't really been implemented yet (the USSR was an aristocracy, sorry kids), so for now it's shielding from cruelty only our least intelligent while everyone else plays a massive game of 'f*** you.'

In any case, even in a socialist system, let alone a capitalist system or international plutocratic system - imbalances in distribution of resources will occur and some will get more than they are allotted. Since those who have are unlikely to give except by dint of war, the idealist does, in fact, support war.

At least until the human race grows up into real sentient adults and starts working together to conquer their collective biggest problem: death (aka the fact that they have no choice between reproducing and remaining static).

Also, Mr Roarke, as a good capitalist you must, of course, abhor war in any form. Right?
posted by Ryvar at 9:08 AM on October 1, 2002

Howard Roarke wrote: Its easy to give people warm fuzzies by oversimplify issues.

... which is true for both sides of this debate. The pro-war lobby has over-simplified to a remarkable degree, with many US government officials claiming that it's just about weapons of mass destruction, attempting to avoid debate over oil and regime change and erring away from discussion on the Israel/ Palestine side of things.

On the other hand, how complex does it need to be? I find it hard to believe we'd still be going to war if Iraq was the world's second biggest source of donuts.
posted by skylar at 9:19 AM on October 1, 2002

If anyone has a good justification for war I would like to hear it.

Saddam Hussein has lifeless eyes, black eyes, like dolls' eyes, and when he comes at ya, he doesn't seem to be livin', until he bites ya and his eyes roll over white, and you hear that high-pitched screamin' and the ocean turns red and he rips ya to pieces.
posted by Ljubljana at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2002

Ah finally... the link between capitalism and war. As Tom Friedman states, "McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas" Check out this article by Arunhati Roy for further analysis
posted by cohiba at 9:31 AM on October 1, 2002

To Lyubljana: Smile you son of a........
posted by cohiba at 9:36 AM on October 1, 2002

what are we to do with this awesome sentience with which we've been gifted?

Humanity as a system has no sentience. We have individual sentience, and I'm wasting mine railing against pretentious arguments on MeFi.

natural selection and cruelty driving this entire development

Cruelty is a driving factor in the universe? Bad universe! Bad!

as a good capitalist you must, of course, abhor war in any form

...and apparently you can just make any unfounded statement as your conclusion, as long as you make grand statements that sound much more impressive than they really are.

Since your logic is obviously deeply flawed, mine must be overwhelmingly sublime.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2002

I never we had sentience as a collective, I don't know where you got that other than trying as hard as you could to twist something I was saying into something I clearly did not say. If you'd prefer, I'll expand the clause into what I would write if I was writing to third-graders: what are we as individuals to collectively do with this awesome sentience with which we as a race have been individually gifted?

Did you honestly need me to make that expansion or are you just trolling? Fess up.

Secondly, the word cruelty was obviously being used to characterize the entire process of natural selection as arbitrary and indifferent to the experiential realities of a given individual.

Your conclusion in response to my third line is based on supposed 'flaws' in my logic that I have demonstrated to be nonexistent. My point stands.
posted by Ryvar at 9:56 AM on October 1, 2002

McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas

I guess you can have it your way. As did Burger King merge with McDonald's? Boeing.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:02 AM on October 1, 2002

Insert your overarching yet ill-defined irrefutable statement here.
posted by UncleFes at 10:07 AM on October 1, 2002

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