Monday, August 07, 2006

The Shell Game, or "Head for the Basement Dorothy!"

SH recently posted A response to a “friend” on My Free Thoughts. The post was a response to an accusation of anti-Semitism leveled because of posts that were critical of Israel’s .... um ... foreign policy. In the post, SH quotes these lines from the accusing comment:

“Life is not fair. I think there are things you would do to protect those YOU love, that would be against many of our principles.... Israel need to fight back to survive.”

I thought about this, and commented:

A fuckwit starts shooting out the window of his apartment building, across the border into Israel. In a civilized country like France or Germany, the local police would respond and shut the fuckwit down. In the West Bank, other fuckwits start dancing in the street and cheering fuckwit #1 on. The Israelis respond by firing a missile at the apartment building, blowing up people that are not shooting guns along with fuckwit #1. Who is right? Nobody. Both governments are to blame because this is uncivilized, and no one is keeping the peace or really doing any kind of job protecting their citizens. Next week, the pissed off brother of one of the innocent victims picks up a gun, gets an earfull of hate from whatever source, and so it goes.

Bonus question: Was above pissed-off-brother Arab, Israeli, Christian, Jew, Muslim, or just some poor slob that got sucked in by a jabbering hate monger?

SH responded:


I agree that it's almost like this but with the addition that the "fuckwit" you describe whom starts shooting "first", might not be simply an idiot or someone who has nothing better to do. It might be someone who was driven to a state of desperation by the conditions imposed on him by others. I don't think that most people who take up arms do it because they are bored and are looking for adventures. I think a lot of times they have legitimate, at least in their eyes, grievances that they think they will get corrected in such a violent manner. I think it is a mistake to see people like that as simply crazy. I strongly believe that majority of the people in the world would prefer quiet and peaceful life to any kind of war and conflict. Unfortunately, and for various reasons, they have some very strange and often very misguided ideas on how to get to that peaceful world they desire.

I read that, and my brain started firing like a pinball machine. I literally had one of those “Where do I start?” moments. First, a point of clarification. A “fuckwit” in my lexicon, is a person who is addled in their thinking as a result of external forces. Their head has been messed with in some way. This could be the result of indoctrination into an exclusionist ideology, through propaganda, or through operant conditioning. They might have had their heads filled with hate by words, or by being backed into a corner until the feral defenses kick in, turning them into a suicidal maniac. Such a person has been fucked in the head, and is fucked in the head. A far cry from a nitwit; I did not mean to imply that my hypothetical shooter was simple-minded.

I’m glad to see that SH puts the word “first” in quotes. I did not mean to imply that this shooter started anything either. He is, in the scenario above, nearing his personal end in a long chain of causality that will continue ad nauseum long after he is atomized and forgotten. And now we come two phrases that I would like to look at a little more closely:

“It might be someone who was driven to a state of desperation by the conditions imposed on him by others.”, and “I think a lot of times they have legitimate, at least in their eyes, grievances that they think they will get corrected in such a violent manner.”

I know first hand that a person can feel that their back is against the wall, and lash out in frustration and anger. I know humiliation. I know there are many self-destructive roads one can take when the point of all caring has been passed, or anger overwhelms the mind’s ability to reason. Perhaps I don’t know, or can’t imagine, the depths of humiliation and frustration experienced by a proud grown man who is treated like a prisoner day after day as he crosses the border to go to work. Still, what makes my shooter different from his neighbor who suffers under the same offensive treatment? I think there is a third party that has been nurturing the victim mentality or the siege mentality in my shooter. A cowardly little bastard that winds up others to do his dirty work. Someone who has a way with words. Someone who paints endless pictures of how perfect EVERYTHING would be if it weren’t for those stinking OTHER PEOPLE.

Let’s call this third party "The Agitator" to strip off any religious or political affiliations. The profile of an agitator is, that he is someone in authority who will use any means at his disposal to promote his agenda. He usually has some kind of fertile ground in which to start a meme or memes on a path of seemingly endless reiteration. He will use slogans, catch phrases, scriptures, or quote legal precedent to bolster his authority. Warning: The agitator’s agenda might not be what it appears to be. In the specific case of the Islamic gone Postal above, our Agitator(s) had a few more weapons in their arsenal. They were able to convince my shooter that his life here on Earth could be nothing more than endless crap, and they convinced him his reward awaits in Candyland-In-The-Sky.

Make no mistake, my shooter is a victim. He is the victim of aggressive and conflicting ideologies. He is also his own victim, for accepting the role of victim that was offered to him. He is the victim of organized crime, and the organized greed that supplied the weapons. He is not, however, the victim of the other victims he is shooting at.

So what is the real objective here? Did the political movement that set this shooter on the course of self-destruction expect that his efforts, and the efforts of those like him would cause the enemy to retreat? Or, did they expect the exact outcome that recent events have brought us; reprisals. The Israeli Government’s response to attacks like this is predictable. The objective is to cause international outrage as the Israeli army cuts a swath through any civilians that get in their way. The strategy includes civilian casualties as a means to an end, “sacrificing” lives that in no way volunteered or supported the movement. More victims. Too bad they never got a chance to fully enjoy their role as victims, or perhaps they were lucky?


At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think we should blame "The Agitator"? I would think that "The Agitator" is also a victim of some injustice, brainwashing and manipulation.

It is an interesting exercise to try to find the root cause of whatever wrongs are happening in the world. People like Sam Harris claim that the root cause of all evil is religion. While I think it is definitely one of the major tools in the "hands" of "The Agitators", it is unlikely to be THE root cause. This gives me an idea for a post too. :-)

So if you are looking for THE cause within the framework that is most commonly used by people when they think about "responsibility" you are trapped into an endless succession of people and their ideas. Is a particular idea to blame for an action or a particular person (group of people)? But there can be no ideas without people. Yet people don't normally act without some idea behind their actions.

I don't know why I took it this way. I guess just something else to think about...

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I've finally got around to linking to your blog. I'm sorry it took so long, I thought I've done it already.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...


I thought I was linked to your site too. I will rectify as soon as I have a little more time.

"The Agitator" is a product of trans-cultural society. Much of the time they, or the group that they represent, are trying to carve a slice of the pie for themselves. They do this for the same reason a male dog licks his balls; because he can. Historically, the product of revolution and unrest has been exactly what The Who said years ago. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." The US replaced one Parlimentary form of government with another, Russia replaced one form of autocracy with another, and I won't even begin to enumerate the long list of corrupt, pisspot dictators in Central and South America. Ditto for the corrupt "baksheesh" governments of the Middle East.

Sam Harris is probably right, but if it hadn't been religion, it would have been some other corrupt power system. Religion is just the most convenient, because the Medusa-like godheads are conveniently out of reach and allegedly irreproachable. It used to be that if you didn't like one god, you could just switch allegiance to another. Now, like the way of all governments too, religion has moved to a position where its leadership believes itself to be above the common man. In many ways, religion is impervious to being pulled down by common men, and has developed an infrastructure to ruthlessly market and protect itself. Islam and Christianity as a whole are the Coke and Pepsi of religious belief. The internal schisms are meaningless except to the individual power structures that feed off the money flow. Raising the outrage of your followers is just one way to keep followers. A good follower will seek belonging in a group as long as that person believes they are someone else's victim and the group is willing to "help" face off against that group or individual. Telling your followers they are victims is very important. So back to The Agitator; is he a "true believer", or a lying megalomaniac? Each is the product of the environment, because each is allowed to happen.

If you are looking for a root cause, I have a theory. All of this religion shit is a result of some successful lies told thousands of years ago to break the power pattern of the Alpha Male. This in turn bred variations on those lies which created factions that could then be directed to murder each other and steal land, livestock and women.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

Wow what an amazing exchange of ideas. I agree.

Whatever tool the instigators choose (religion/politics/economics) the poor miserable idiot who finally throws his hands up in the air and starts shooting deserves a slug between the eyes and all of the kids and grandmas in his apartment building deserve to live.
I concur with your opening argument about all of the idiots cheering in the streets..a little education would go a long way in that 'godforsaken' part of the world.
Great discussion..this is what I am talking about....did you see Heather's (Dazed and Confuzzled) piece on how some mainstream media regards blogging as crap...I wish that they would read this post and the ensuing comments!

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