Dissent of the Day

I received secondhand this reply to my post on Clinton’s response to the situation in Egypt:

1. I’d like his explicit definition or explication of “long term concerns for stability in the region.”

2.

If we really want the United States not to be dictating to foreign countries what they should do then we should applaud these remark…s by Secretary Clinton since they not only insist repeatedly that the United States support democracy but that the Egyptian people themselves determine the outcome in the region.

Sophistry. The entire country has spoken. The “other side” is a 30-year-long torturing, vicious, secret-police-goverened, kleptocratic dictatorship. Clinton could easily have said, “Well, we’re not sure what’s coming next, and we want it to be democratically determined, but it’s pretty clear Mubarak has less support in Egypt than George III had in the US in the 1770s. Time for him to go.”

3. Supporting democracy, like supporting free speech, is meaningful only insofar as you support it when you don’t like it. Setting aside entirely his typical conflation of America-the-people, society, culture with America-the-government. Two different things, in every nation-state.

4.

But if we genuinely believe in democracy is it our place to say that? What does that add? How is that democratic?

Because you’re supporting the obvious will of the obviously huge majority of Egyptian people, who have demonstrated their opinion with their bodies, and often with their lives, not with sophistic words from a comfy perch in the country that has propped up the authoritarian regime they are risking their lives to overthrow. Rightly.

5.

The one thing we can say, and that she says, is the same thing we would say everywhere—that we hope that the legitimate needs of the people are met and that the people are heard and that democracy win out.

Yeah, well, I, you, and your ex-student don’t have $1.5-2bn of aid’s worth of leverage to actually do more than make pretty sounds.

6.

No one knows with any clear idea who or what exactly the alternatives to Mubarak are or whether they would actually be better off for the Egyptian people.

Bullshit. I do, and so do most Egyptians: democracy. Same answer as anywhere: democracy, greater social justice, etc. One problem with many (not all) philosophers is that they are too enamored of argument structure to bother to look at actual facts, obvious and not-so-obvious. Russell and Voltaire didn’t have that problem. Among others.

7.

I do not think Hillary Clinton wants anything less than humane, liberal, non-theocratic, non-autocratic, secular, open democracy for Egypt.

Totally naive. This is what happens when you treat politicians like teenaged girls treated DiCaprio around Titanic — someone you have a crush on and just *know* care about you, think like you, love you. You’ll say an exaggeration, of course, but it isn’t. It’s at best rank naievte. Hmmm…

brilliant pragmatists like Clinton and Obama…

Yeah, right.

If the details matter, as he concludes, why say anything till you’ve done some homework? I know the answer: this is rationalization, not rationality.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • The Vicar

    “Bullshit. I do, and so do most Egyptians: democracy. Same answer as anywhere: democracy, greater social justice, etc. One problem with many (not all) philosophers is that they are too enamored of argument structure to bother to look at actual facts, obvious and not-so-obvious. Russell and Voltaire didn’t have that problem. Among others.”

    Also meh. Democracy in any middle eastern country means Islamic Theocracy. It will start off with promises not to go too far in order to placate the non-Muslims and damp down worries from moderates, and end up being yet another nightmare fanatic state because that’s how theocracy always ends up. (Just like the way democracy in the U.S. ends up being plutocracy in the long run no matter how many promises are made that there will be a voice for all.) It is naive to think that this will lead, in the long run, to greater social justice.

    That’s not to say that democracy might be a bad thing; right now, Islam is held in check by a bunch of corrupt dictators and hard-line authoritarians, mostly propped up by the U.S.. That means a lot of Muslims are free to think that their lives would be improved if only they could overthrow their governments and impose Sharia. (Much the same way conservatives in the U.S. think it would be such a great thing if we could abolish all governmental regulation of industry.) It might take a few years, but they would come to realize that this is not in fact the case. Islam would be its own worst enemy if America and Israel weren’t working so hard to fill that role.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Thought provoking, Vicar. Glad to hear from you again.


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