Russian Exceptionalism

Americans kill themselves over a spot in the mall Santa line. Russians fight to the death over philosophy. What does it mean? Discuss.

32 thoughts on “Russian Exceptionalism

  1. Nice wrap-up. If there’s one thing to be said about America, it’s probably that we really don’t care about ideas. Caring is gay and thinking is lame. (Or was it the other way around?)

  2. America is a nation of believers. It has no conventional national religion because belief in the Exceptional State is America’s religion, its jealous god that will allow no other gods before it.

    It is heresy to doubt, whether in conventional religions or in the national religion.

    There is no thought without doubt, only belief; when doubt is heretical, thought becomes evidence of crime.

    I say this in complete confidence that it will not be understood by believers in the Exceptional State, the Chosen People, or the Master Race, but will only inspire hate against the heretic.

    The American people are transparent to thought but cannot perceive their transparency before thought, so thought about Kant remains irrelevant.

  3. Did my post just cease to exist here? I don’t think it was moderated; it was critical of already-unrespected conspiracy theories (and television) — safe targets, so I doubt that it would have been deemed offensive. Is there a technical problem? I’m nearly 100% sure the post went up before.

  4. Sekhmet,

    I read it yesterday and it was good. My post on Ted’s event is gone too and all I did was wish him well with it. HIS post is gone from the previous comic and I couldn’t get on this morning, so I’m sure it is technical.

  5. “D’oh! Left out the most important contemporary American Thinker. You want to talk about an American who cares about ideas? Check out Sam Harris.”

    Oh christ, it’s a Harris fanboy. The only fanboy worse than a Harris fanboy is a Hitchens fanboy, but thankfully that repugnant pig is dead and buried. Harris picked up his pseudo-intellectual mantle though, and his fanboys quickly adopted this phony thinker as their new messiah. Harris is an abysmal coward, an intellectual fraud hiding behind his credentials and gaining a following because of his unrepentant Muslim bashing.

    There’s numerous examples of Sam Harris’ intellectual cowardice and dishonesty, his uncanny ability to distort his detractors criticisms of him, and his own lies to cover for his own repugnant statements. Sam Harris never met a straw argument he didn’t like, never met a fact he was happy to ignore if it refuted his worldview, never for slippery Sam.

    But — don’t anger a fanboy. They’re likely to snap in defense of their dear messiah. For he must be defended at all costs.

  6. (his) intellectual cowardice and dishonesty, his uncanny ability to distort his detractors criticisms of him, and his own lies to cover for his own repugnant statements. (He) never met a straw argument he didn’t like, never met a fact he was happy to ignore if it refuted his worldview…

    Who else does this remind us of?

  7. As expected, the pseudo-intellectual fanboys rush to their messiah’s defense. Good old Sam Harris, who called for a first strike nuclear policy against Iran if they don’t stop enriching uranium. That’s Sam though — calling for the incineration of millions because he thinks their religion will cause them to use nuclear weapons against the West. What can one say about such deranged logic? Not much, but the fanboys circle the wagons. It’s all they know how to do.

  8. @ exkiodexian –
    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but If Sam Harris “… never met a fact he was happy to ignore if it refuted his worldview…,” does that mean that he was happy to embrace those?
    😀

  9. Typical light-on-argument, heavy-on-mean-spirited-name-calling, from Exkiodexian.

    I prefer to keep it about the ideas.

    Sam Harris does too, and in picking a fight with him, Exkiodexian has bitten off more than he can chew.

    It is not Sam’s first trip around the block, and here is his response to this type of criticism, with full text available through the link at the bottom.

    “My position on preemptive nuclear war:

    The journalist Chris Hedges has repeatedly claimed (in print, in public lectures, on the radio, and on television) that I advocate a nuclear first-strike against the Muslim world. His remarks, which have been recycled continually in interviews and blog posts, generally take the following form: I mean, Sam Harris, at the end of his first book, asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world. (Q&A at Harvard Divinity School, March 20, 2008)

    Harris, echoing the blood lust of Hitchens, calls, in his book The End of Faith, for a nuclear first strike against the Islamic world. (The Dangerous Atheism of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, Alternet, March 22, 2008)

    And you have in Sam Harris’ book, “The End of Faith,” a call for us to consider a nuclear first strike against the Arab world. This isn’t rational. This is insane. (The Tavis Smiley Show, April 15, 2008)

    Sam Harris, in his book The End of Faith, asks us to consider carrying out a nuclear first-strike on the Arab world. That’s not a rational option—that’s insanity. (A Conversation with Chris Hedges, Free Inquiry, August/September 2008)

    Wherever they appear, Hedges’s comments are clearly meant to leave the impression that I want the U.S. government to start killing Muslims by the tens of millions. Below I present the only passage I have ever written on the subject of preventive nuclear war and the only passage that Hedges could be referring to in my work (The End of Faith, pp. 128-129):

    –It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe. How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.–

    Clearly, I was describing a case in which a hostile regime that is avowedly suicidal acquires long-range nuclear weaponry (i.e. they can hit distant targets like Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, etc.). Of course, not every Muslim regime would fit this description. For instance, Pakistan already has nuclear weapons, but they have yet to develop long-range rockets, and there is every reason to believe that the people currently in control of these bombs are more pragmatic and less certain of paradise than the Taliban are. The same could be said of Iran, if it acquires nuclear weapons in the near term (though not, perhaps, from the perspective of Israel, for whom any Iranian bomb will pose an existential threat). But the civilized world (including all the pragmatic Muslims living within it) must finally come to terms with what the ideology of groups like the Taliban, al Qaeda, etc. means—because it destroys the logic of deterrence. There are a significant number of people in the Muslim world for whom the slogan “We love death more than the infidel loves life” appears to be an honest statement of psychological fact, and we must do everything in our power to prevent them from getting long-range nuclear weapons.”

    Sam goes much deeper into his critique of Islam and many other controversial topics here:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

  10. To AW135:

    Your quote: “–It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death.”

    We are in a tepid war with Pakistan, the ONLY Islamic republic with nuclear weapons. That is, killing people on their soil.

    So much for that theory.

    • @falco: Well, yes, basically, but not completely.

      There isn’t a mutual threat of nuclear annihilation between the United States and Pakistan. As far as we know, Pakistan does not possess ICBMs and therefore poses no substantial threat to the United States. How are they going to send their nuclear weapons, by mail?

      More to the point, most of the Pakistani leadership is tacitly complicit with the drone attacks.

  11. One can’t pick a fight with Sam Harris, because he is — by definition — one of the most intellectually dishonest frauds in recent memory. Greenwald’s public drubbing of him is just one example. There’s virtually not one intellectual of note that regards Sam Harris as anything but a fraud, and a small-minded one at that. Oh — unless you include relic Dawkins, who shares Harris’ glee at racist diatribes against Muslims.

    Isn’t it interesting to note that the one outlet that Sam Harris can appear on is Fox News, which he does regularly. He’s been on O’Reilly many, many times calling for the incineration of Iran, and essentially engaging in his racist diatribes. Gee — I wonder why that is! I wonder why only Fox will have Harris on as a guest regularly. Actually, it’s not hard to understand at all — but that fact makes his so-called liberal fanboys heads explode.

    No one takes Harris seriously. The man is pathetic pseudo-intellectual and a dishonest one at that. I have actually had the please of debating Sam in email once and I can say from experience: There’s no statement he’s ever made that he will defend honestly. He’s as dishonest a person as I’ve ever come across. He’s repugnant, and will be forgotten.

  12. @Ted: I’m shocked that you haven’t — but here’s a piece of career advice. If you want some traffic, just write something criticizing Sam Harris. His fanboys will explode with rage and go to whatever site/person is criticizing him and flood the boards in his defense. It’s instant-traffic.

    Here’s Greenwald’s takedown of him, which was truly epic.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/sam-harris-muslim-animus

  13. And Ted, just to give you some flavor of what Sam Harris is about:

    – He advocates torture.
    – He advocates profiling Muslims.
    – He advocates for carrying firearms (which he does).
    – He advocates a first-strike nuclear policy against Iran.

    Why, you ask, is any of this a big deal? So what, right? Sam Harris claims to be a liberal and a deep-thinker, and he parades this garbage around under the guise of being a rational atheist and a liberal.

  14. @ Jack Heart –

    Re: September 26, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    “Since no one mentioned Sam Harris between ex, I’ll assume he can see comments I cannot.”
    .
    Assuming you mistyped “between” and meant “before,” let me call your attention to the post from aaronwilliams135
    September 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    D’oh! Left out the most important contemporary American Thinker. You want to talk about an American who cares about ideas? Check out Sam Harris.

  15. der lehrer,

    I meant in between exkiodexian’s two comments. He attacked Sam Harris and then claimed ‘fanboys’ defended Sam Harris. No one did. I thought at the time it might be a clumsy way of saying that.

    ex,

    *Gasp* But-but-but Greenwald quoted NOAM CHOMSKY!!!

  16. «Russians fight to the death over philosophy.» I’m sure it has happened, Ted, but this doesn’t seem to be one of those instances ; the weapons used, according to the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russian-man-shot-in-quarrel-over-immanuel-kants-philosophy-8820327.html), was an airgun firing rubber bullets. As you yourself point out, no one was killed….

    In the US, being ruled by Platonic philosopher kings (the 1 %), fisticuffs and airgun battles over philosophic matters are, of course, utterly irrelevant. Besides, you have Samantha Power at the UNO to keep your «moral compasses» pointing to true North….

    Henri

  17. @ Jack Heart –
    .
    I apologize for my total misunderstanding of your comment. (I tend to be a literalist and often become confused. 😉 )
    .
    After reading your explanation, I reviewed the comments and determined that you are 100% correct with your observation. This leads me to believe that *exkiodexian* is trolling (in addition to his having ignored my comment regarding his obvious lack of language skills), so henceforth I will skip over his posts. Thanks for the “heads-up”!

    • I have come to the realization that *Sekhmet* and *exkiodexian* are two fictitious personae (read *trolls*) that actually represent the same individual. The tactic *it* uses is to post as one and then to post as the other in order to garner more attention. Unfortunately for me, I failed to heed my own advice and ignore this *troll* – but I won’t make that mistake again. It’s an exercise in futility. 😀

  18. @ mhenriday –
    .
    The commentary in the cartoon actually says: “… small nonlethal pistol….” So give Ted a break if he uses a bit of hyperbole, eh? 😉

Leave a Reply