Just below the “Criticism” of Israel

Interesting piece in the Independent. Too bad non-Jews can’t make this case.

Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is

Emotions have run high over recent events in Gaza. And in this impassioned and searching essay, our writer argues that just below the surface runs a vicious strain of ancient prejudice

Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The language of protesters ‘determines the issue before it can be discussed’

I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. It is, I am assured, “criticism” of Israel, pure and simple. In the matter of Israel and the Palestinians this country has been heading towards a dictatorship of the one-minded for a long time; we seem now to have attained it. Deviate a fraction of a moral millimetre from the prevailing othodoxy and you are either not listened to or you are jeered at and abused, your reading of history trashed, your humanity itself called into question. I don’t say that self-pityingly. As always with dictatorships of the mind, the worst harmed are not the ones not listened to, but the ones not listening. So leave them to it, has essentially been my philosophy. A life spent singing anti-Zionist carols in the company of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway is its own punishment.

I’m assuming that Howard Jacobson is a Jew, and running into the post-2000 phenomenon that struck so many Jews who had the nerve to defend Israel even minimally in the wake of the Muhammad al Durah blood libel. Non-identified Jews solicited the consistent comment, “I didn’t know you were Jewish,” and non-Jews ran into the same comment:

People who didn’t know me would say “I didn’t know you were Jewish, Richard.” I’d say “I’m not.” And they’d say “Well why are you doing this?” But that’s ridiculous. If I was making a film about cot death, people wouldn’t assume I had lost a child to cot death. If I was making a film about Islamophobia, nobody would say “We didn’t know you were a Muslim.” But there is this assumption that anti-Semitism is something that’s just made up by the Jews, and nobody else would ever really pay any attention to it.

There’s both the evidence of mental dictatorship, and the paralysis of the West in the face of Jihadi anti-semitism.

207 Responses to Just below the “Criticism” of Israel

  1. [...] Annie’s letters wrote an interesting post today on Just below the âCriticismâ of IsraelHere’s a quick excerptHoward Jacobson: Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is. Emotions have run high over recent events in Gaza. [...]

  2. Xanthippas says:

    I’m confused. Perhaps you can clarify what I, a non-Jew, am and am not permitted to say?

  3. Richard Landes says:

    what i was trying to say is
    a) too bad what harold jacobson says here couldn’t have been said by a non-jew (and if you say similar things, i’ll be happy to post them), and
    b) too bad a non-jew can’t say such things without being told, “i didn’t know you were a jew!” (ie the presumption is that if you defend israel you must be jewish because who else [other than some right wing fundamentalist apocalyptic christian neanderthal] would?
    i’m certainly not telling non-jews — or jews,for that matter — what to say.
    r

  4. oao says:

    rl,

    i don’t think he is that confused.

    i smell something else.

  5. E.G. says:

    Xanthippas,

    You’re “permitted” to say anything you wish.
    The point is about being aware that, regarding Jews and Israel, many – too many – confusions are being made.
    Natan Sharansky, when he was the Israeli minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs, developed a simple formula that he called the “3D test” to help distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism: demonization, double standards, and delegitimization.

    There’s no problem in criticising Israel and its policies: Israelis do it all the time. But when one or more of the above 3D’s are present, it’s not a criticism any longer. It’s a prejudice-based stigmatization. You can still say it, but you’d be making anti-Semitic statements.

  6. [...] made some remarks in a post about an op-ed piece by Harold Jacobson that it’s hard to find non-Jews who will come to Israel’s defense these days, so [...]

  7. Stu says:

    “too bad what harold jacobson says here couldn’t have been said by a non-jew (and if you say similar things, i’ll be happy to post them)”

    Richard, you can count me in as a non-Jewish supporter who regularly voices his ardent, pro-Israel positions. Not only am I politically center-left, but I’m not even religiously right wing (I was baptized, but do not count myself as a Christian)–and that makes me rare. I feel comfortable stating that I am vastly more “pro-Israel” than even most of my Jewish friends–except those in Israel–and I have quite a few.

    You are more than free to post what I’ve written in support of Israel.

  8. [...] made some remarks in a post about an op-ed piece by Harold Jacobson that it’s hard to find non-Jews who will come to Israel’s defense these days, so I’m posting [...]

  9. oao says:

    stu,

    good for you.

    now all that remains is to think why your left (even if off center) are not pro-israel and see if there is a deeper problem there.

  10. oao says:

    incidentally, you could have labeled me center left too a while ago, although probably not very accurately.

  11. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Can you please explain what made/makes you pro-Israel?
    Yours are valuable insights.

  12. Stu says:

    E.G./OAO,

    Basically, it comes down to what I believe is a suicidal betrayal of our own value system. To morally support those who are so diametrically–violently–opposed to our way of life and all that we consider civilized is nothing short of insanity. Particularly so when we invoke those civilized values as the very basis for our condemnation of the side which shares and is trying to defend them.

    I didn’t start out thinking this way, though. I might have if I’d met Richard before my senior year at Boston University, and knew that he was interested in this subject, not to mention Jewish (I took one course from him called “Reading in History” which was designed to teach critical thinking. Based on one particularly good quip he lobbed at me, I actually thought he was Catholic! We never discussed Israel and I didn’t see him again until a few years after I had graduated.)

    I majored in history and focused all my courses on the Middle East and international relations. I won’t say I swallowed everything from the accepted discourse–hook line and sinker–but I’m fairly confident that I’d made some crude comparisons between the treatment/genocide of Native Americans and the Jewish fight for existence in Israel. I remember regularly battling what I perceived as right-wing jewish extremists on NYTimes Mideast forums. I’m quite sure that I did not understand anything of the real Arab-Muslim motives. I thought the conflict was about land, at least primarily, exacerbated by Israeli mistakes and maintained through an endless cycle of violence etc. etc… you know the cliches.

    Having been awed by the film Lawrence of Arab when I was 12, I was particularly enamored with Arab-Muslim culture and I wanted to study in an Arab country for my last semester. As it turns out, the only program B.U. had in the Middle East was in Israel. I took the opportunity, thinking that I’d at least be able to use it as a launching pad to see other parts of the region.

    By the time I had come back from 6 months in Israel and a few weeks worth of travels through Jordan and Egypt, I had an Israeli flag in my bag. Over the course of my brief studies and travel there, I came to realize that 1) contrary to popular belief, the Israeli “side of the story” was not being taught in university and 2) The most important factors at work in the conflict–the fundamentally, existentially important factors–were virtually unknown to most outside observers and commentators. I’m talking about things like the deceptive, existential threat posed by “right-of-return” advocacy, among others. I took a class at Haifa U. from Dan Schueftan (sp?), who introduced me to a rather blunt, but realist point of view. In his class I read Dan Kurzman’s Genesis 1948–a real eye opener that exposed me to a more realistic and factually based narrative of Israel’s birth (not framed as just another example of whites pushing out the Indians). It all started really coming together for me when I rode on a bus by a bunch of IDF activity on the Dead Sea. I didn’t know what it was until I saw the news that night, where it was explained that the IDF has found a large cache of weapons which had been floated across the sea from Jordan under cover of darkness. I wasn’t shocked or scared by it, but I did realize how persistent Israel’s enemies are, and how little the Jewish nation can afford to let down its guard.

    Compounding all of these observations were my impressions of the incredible chasm between Arab and Israeli culture. In the accepted Western discourse it is often assumed that Palestinians, indeed Israel’s neighbors, are poor and “backward” because of hardships imposed on them by imperialist or otherwise unfortunate Western politics. It’s not voiced so blatantly, but Israel and the West are usually assumed to be culpable in some fashion. I was SHOCKED at how effective Israeli society was and how fundamentally broken Arab society was–at least by my American standards. In Cairo I witnessed disorder, disrepair, and lots of trash. It was the trash that really got me, because no one seemed to care. Giant piles of it rising up to the second story outside apartment buildings. Dead donkeys–partially decayed–lying in the street or near canals connected to their only source of water: the Nile. Children stomping though junk and trash, no less under the supervision of their parents or uncles, and near the Pyramids of Giza at that. I saw inefficiency everywhere: the lack of trash pickup, the apathetic behavior of bureaucrats at the borders, the number of times people tried to scam me out of my money, the lack of traffic regulation despite an overbearing police presence, the way everyone seemed so resigned to the will of Allah, the extreme number of men who were not working, rather residing at cafes while “their” women worked–a great many of them apparently at home…. etc. etc. I remember being blown away by all this because, for the first time, I realized that culture is something more than just a cool affectation. It really matters and it can make or break your society. Upon my return to Israel I suffered a kind of reverse culture shock. It wasn’t Germany, but it close to the opposite of Arab. And in the wake of this epiphany, I also realized that it was highly likely they “did it” to themselves. After that, it was about jealousy (I didn’t know about honor-shame then, but I was starting to smell it).

    After that semester in Israel I graduated, worked for a year, and finally became an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy. All my subsequent experience, personally and professionally, has basically confirmed that I was right to reverse my original perspective. Last year I wrote a 300 page thesis on how it is that people, indeed whole societies, have come to believe what they do about Israel, that is, how it is that there are so many strongly held and poorly founded believes about the conflict. I describe it as “cognitive warfare” and feel passionately enough about it myself–I’m trying to get it published.

    So there is your explanation. Probably more than you were looking for!

    Stu

  13. oao says:

    Basically, it comes down to what I believe is a suicidal betrayal of our own value system.

    this is what decadence and cowardice will do.

    i keep repeating that once the west destroyed its education system, it eliminated the link with the past and produced generations of arrogant ignorane which does not appreciate the value of knowledge, is ignorand of its history and values and is incapable of reasoning critically and independently. this of course produced elites (jbcluding the media) which are manipulative and corrupted and fool the gullible masses.

    under these circumstances slow and fast jihad are like a knife into butter.

  14. oao says:

    The most important factors at work in the conflict–the fundamentally, existentially important factors–were virtually unknown to most outside observers and commentators.

    because they are incapable of conceiving the arab culture and islam — they keep projecting their own on the arabs.

    I took a class at Haifa U. from Dan Schueftan (sp?), who introduced me to a rather blunt, but realist point of view.

    got one MA in polisci there, but much before Schueftan came. Did you take anything with Bendor? Bukai was his teaching assistant then.

    but I did realize how persistent Israel’s enemies are, and how little the Jewish nation can afford to let down its guard.

    with its current leaders…

    I didn’t know about honor-shame then, but I was starting to smell it).

    their leaders in palestine ran away first and then convinced/scared the masses to follow, thinking they’ll return fast. when they lost the shame kicked in and in order to obscure it they invented the myth of the naqba, with which they have indoctrinated generations to the point that they dk anything else.

    as to reason of cognitive warfare, this was a mjor strategy of the arab regimes: let the pals stew and fester in camps so that their hatred can make them neverending weapon against israel. never did they imagine that the decadence, ignorance, gullibility and cowardice of western society would not only succumb to it within 60 years, but actually support it, towards its own suicide.

    hrd to believe, but true.

  15. oao says:

    and more:

    how will they not turn into moral idiots.

  16. oao says:

    or ignoramuses like this.

  17. Cynic says:

    they keep projecting their own on

    Western society in a manner of speaking is screwed up.

    Saw a news item on TV about a camel that was used in an ad.
    The beast had to go back to where it came from and so its owners were trying to get it into the trailer.
    The camel true to “camel culture” form decided it was time to be more pigheaded than a mule.
    The owners using their hands to smack and shove to get him up on his feet when along came a woman, had to be white and blonde, protesting at the treatment meted out.
    Oh boy, the Arab women who was with the camel team started yelling at the w woman that she had nursed the beast from a newly born calf and had been caring for it all these years, who was this woman to criticize her handling of her pet.

    The w woman at least had the humility to see that she had been wrong and appologised.
    Amusing but so illustrative of the arrogance that a culture indulges in thinking that it knows what’s best for another.

  18. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Thanks so much for the explanation.
    Yes, books-articles-films-TV can be misleading, even unintentionally. They function like blinders, while aiming (or pretending) to enlarge people’s horizon. Because one forgets s/he views some “reality” through the writer/director’s filters and focuses. On the other hand, I suppose that the “critical thinking” course was a necessary condition to understanding the “situation on the ground” (i.e., it provided some of the “thinking tools”).

    If it’s not too much asking, what’s the thesis of “cognitive warfare”? Can/would you outline it? Please?

  19. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    It wasn’t a cigarette ad, I hope ;-)

    Can’t stop laughing out loud (feeling stupid).

  20. E.G. says:

    oao,

    By the time I got to the Israellycool page there were plenty of items that matched your indication. Which one did you intend? The Ketchup?

  21. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    This is the abstract:

    The United States and Israel enjoy unchallenged supremacy on the battlefield, but they are, nonetheless, losing a war. With apparent skill and effectiveness that is generally not seen on the Israeli or U.S. sides, Lebanese, Palestinian, and other militant groups harness the media, academia, culture, and other tools to manage worldwide perceptions, carefully tailoring their messages to respective audiences. Using these tools to project powerful images and messages that resonate in specific audiences, they may have proven capable of largely negating Israeli and U.S. military advantages. It appears to be an evolved form of warfare resident in the moral, rather than the physical plane.
    The Arab-Muslim militants engage in warfare at the societal level, and the successes they have enjoyed stem from more than strict adherence to Soviet or U.S. Army PSYOP doctrine. There appears to be a societal familiarity with both the intricacies of deception and the persistence of war—cultural factors that are not so vivid or well defined in the Western mind. Perhaps more importantly, the Arab-Muslim familiarity with these factors is diametrically opposed to—and well suited for exploiting—Western cultural and environmental factors such as the assumption of honesty (deception is a factor that receives extensive treatment throughout the thesis), the internally focused guilt-culture, and a finite perspective on war.
    Using the Arab-Israeli conflict as a case study, this thesis offers three basic models to explain the manner in which ideologists harness the power of ideas, both captivating their own constituents and disarming their enemies. It discusses the generation of violent ideology, the evolution of public discourses, and cognitive attacks on the civilizational level.

    My research question was: At the strategic level, how can Arab-Muslim militants achieve victory in their quest to destroy Israel and expel the U.S. from the Middle East in view of the vast, objective military superiority of the two nations they seek to defeat?

    My hypothesis: Given their objectively weaker military capabilities, Arab-Muslim militants are seeking strategic victory in their struggle against the U.S. and Israel in the cognitive domain of war.

    My table of contents: THE PROBLEM OF COGNITIVE WARFARE…………………………

    Research Question, 1
    Hypothesis, 1
    The Issue, 1
    Bias, 6
    A Brief Apologia, 7
    Related Literature, 9
    Methodology, 13

    FLAWED ASSUMPTIONS AND A POOR UNDERSTANDING OF… THE THREAT

    Jihadists Inappropriately Dismissed, 16
    Prohibited Analysis, 24
    Conclusion, 42

    MEMETICS …………………………………………………………….

    The Early Replicators, 45
    Cognitive Dissonance, 56
    Memeplexes, 63
    Endemic v. Epidemic, 71
    Conclusion, 78

    THE ESSENCE OF COGNITIVE WARFARE……………………….

    Relative Importance, 80
    The Engine, the Discourse, and the Offensive, 84
    Conclusion, 108

    EXAMPLES OF RELEVANT RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL…….. ELEMENTS IN COGNITIVE WARFARE

    What to Keep in Mind, 111
    Types of Jihad, 116
    The Legitimacy of Jihadists, 122
    Who Must Participate in Jihad, 124
    The Benefits of Martyrdom, 125
    Dhimmitude—A Religious and Historical Imperative, 127
    Taqiyya, 133
    Cutting Off the Nose to Save the Face, 139
    Conclusion, 150

    THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT: BACKGROUND………………..

    Historical Background—Palestinians, 154
    Historical Background—Lebanon/Lebanese Hezbollah, 165
    Motivating Factors for Arab-Muslim Anti-Zionists, 170
    Ideologies, 173
    Conclusion, 180

    THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT: DECEPTION, ADVOCACY, AND VIOLENT IDENTITY FORMATION

    Pallywood-Hezbollywood, 184
    Other Deception, 195
    Media Control, 198
    Media and NGO Advocacy—Writing the Wrong, 204
    Recasting History, 214
    For Arab-Muslim Eyes Only, 222
    The Military Effect of Civilian Casualties—Real or Faked, 227
    Conclusion, 230

    THE MODERATE MEME OFFENSIVE, COGNITIVE……………….. PARALYSIS, AND DHIMMITUDE

    Use of Moderate Memes, 234
    Cognitive Paralysis: Memetic Reaction to Unforeseen Dhimmitude, 245
    Conclusion, 253

    CALLING A RED SPADE A RED SPADE: THE RELEVANCE …….. TO INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS AND POLICY

    Areas for Improvement, 259
    Memetic Manipulation, 262
    A Word of Caution, 264
    For the Intelligence Analyst and the Academic: See the Red Spade, 267
    For the Policymaker and Operator: Retool, 272
    In Sum, 274

  22. Stu says:

    OAO,

    “got one MA in polisci there, but much before Schueftan came. Did you take anything with Bendor? Bukai was his teaching assistant then.”

    I don’t recognize those names. In fact, of all my profs during that short semester abroad, Schueftan’s is the only one I remember. Keep in mind, though, that I was part of an English language program at Haifa U. We took intensive Hebrew, to be sure, but everything else in this program was for the international students. (All my Hebrew is gone now–poof!)

    Stu

  23. E.G. says:

    Thanks again Stu,

    I hope you find an editor asap – so that I can read your book asap.

  24. oao says:

    stu, regarding your thesis: good stuff, but I doubt you’ll find a publisher. after all, if your thesis is correct, then such works are not publishable, no?
    did you try regnery?

    e.g.

    I hope you find an editor asap – so that I can read your book asap.

    wanna bet?

    stu,

    Keep in mind, though, that I was part of an English language program at Haifa U.

    ah, yes, too bad. if you learned so much from that, I can imagine what you would have learned from others. bendor is one of the best there is.

    regarding your thesis, though: i think it’s a little more mundane than that: lying and exploiting weaknesses is an integral part of arab culture and taquiyah (war is deceit-Mohammad) is explicitly permitted by islam.
    the arabs have been doing it from the start of the conflict — naqba!!! — but initially, when the world was structured differently (cold war, the west had still an education) it was not as effective. after the USSR bloc fell, the west became complacent and decadent (they did not have an enemy/competitor anymore. via terror and economics (oil) and mass immigration the west collapsed and became susceptible to the lies.

    today the arabs have figured out the weakness and have improved their techniques. but it’s not so much psyop that won through the years, as the ignorance, stupidity and cowardice of the west who left it open to the grossest lies and manipulation.

  25. Stu says:

    Oao,

    Agreed, and those are points I try to make in my work. See, for instance, the below, a section from a chapter on potential cultural influences on cognitive war.

    Richard, I’m sorry if you feel I’m hijacking your site and will gladly stop if you ask me to. We’ve obviously gotten a little off-topic.

    TAQIYYA

    Do Arab Muslims lie on the same order of magnitude and for the same purposes? Are they prohibited by tradition from lying in all the same circumstances as Westerners? Although there is overlap in the two cultures’ approaches to lying, there is also great divergence. During brief service in Iraq in 2004, for instance, I noticed most of the translators working for a particular unit were not Muslim, as one would expect, but Assyrian Christian—an Iraqi minority whose dwindling percentage is in the single digits. When the author asked why this was so, a unit interrogator explained that, based on experience, they had determined the Christian translators were more reliable and less prone to deceit.[1] Why did the Muslim translators lie? Moreover, why did they lie to protect individuals associated a regime despised as much locally as internationally?
    In this case, as in many others, the answers at least partially rest in the religious duties of all Muslims. According to the faith, it is anathema for Muslims to be ruled by or even allied with non-Muslims. Koran 3:28 clearly states, “The believers should not make disbelievers their allies rather than other believers….”[2] As discussed in a previous section, it is doctrinally vital to protect a fellow Muslim before aiding non-believers, no matter how hateful the Muslim’s character or reputation. Although it may seem counter-productive to the Western mind, it has also been traditionally accepted that Muslim tyranny is better than anarchy or disorder. Thus, in the Iraqi context as in many others, the honorable end of community defense legitimizes and necessitates deceiving non-Muslim employers.
    The practice is effectively codified in the Shiite doctrine of taqiyya, or dissimulation. Most Islamic doctrine that allows for dissimulation finds its roots in Koran 16:106, “Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith… theirs will be a dreadful chastisement.”[3] The Shiites developed this historically defensive (though that aspect clearly varies) practice over the course of many persecuted generations, and their Sunni brethren often deride them for it. The Sunni, however, are by no means purists when it comes to truth-telling. One classical Sunni jurist stated, “If anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue while his heart contradicts him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him….”[4] In at least the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, it is considered prudent to lie for an honorable objective when telling the truth would be detrimental to the cause.
    … Scholars say that there is no harm in giving a misleading impression if required by an interest countenanced by Sacred Law that is more important than not misleading the person being addressed, or if there is a pressing need which could not otherwise be fulfilled except through lying.[5]

    According to the same school, one is not encouraged, but required to lie if the honorable objective cannot be achieved by telling the truth. Honorable objectives can include smoothing over relations with one’s wife, settling disagreements, or most honorably, defending Muslims against unjust (infidel) authorities. Interestingly, one may also lie if the particular sin, such as fornication or drinking, affects only the individual and is known only to him and Allah.
    …if a ruler asks one about a wicked act one has committed that is solely between oneself and Allah Most High ([if] it does not concern the rights of another), in which case one is entitled to disclaim it, such as by saying, ‘I did not commit fornication,’ or ‘I did not drink.’[6]

    There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of anecdotal evidence demonstrating the prevalence of Muslim lying, particularly in the midst of war, some of which will be explored in chapter seven. The analytical quandary, of course, is that one can easily say the same about Western lying. Those feeling uncomfortable with a comparison between the two cultures will again assert that, “we do it too,” and again, this is at least partially true. Sissela Bok explores the Western aspects of the practice in great depth. She recounts the absolute philosophical positions of Immanuel Kant and St. Augustine, both of whom believed all lies are abhorrent but differed in their practical approaches, and she contrasts them with the ethics of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, where “violence and deceit are portrayed with bravado and exultation.”[7] She notes a well-known Catholic textbook that advises doctors to deceive seriously ill patients, and she describes numerous other pragmatic examples paralleling the Islamic positions outlined above. Even Martin Luther rhetorically asked,
    What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church[…] a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.[8]

    I believe there is a difference in the volume of lies between the two cultures, but it is impossible to systematically exhaust the supply of anecdotes on either side. Additionally, any quantitative studies of deception—if there are indeed any—run the risk of being corrupted by the very phenomenon they seek to explore.
    An honest intellectual must therefore consider two qualitative points. Is there a difference in societal approval for the lies? Is there a difference in the philosophical or religious sanction for the lies? Societal derision for Yasser Arafat’s frequent and profound lies about peace with Israel was virtually non-existent in the Muslim world, while a U.S. president was impeached for lying about a personal affair (examples of Arafat’s tactics in the context of cognitive warfare will be given in the following chapters). In contrast, even Bok noted in an updated preface to her book, that a raging debate about the ethics of lying and dishonesty had erupted in the U.S. during the 1980s.
    I can no longer subscribe, therefore, to the claim I made in the Introduction, that [the issue of lying has] received extraordinarily little contemporary analysis. Questions of truthfulness and deception are now taken up in classrooms as in the media and in scholarly literature. Codes of ethics, such as the 1980 “Principles of Medical Ethics” of the American Medical Association, have incorporated clauses stressing honesty.[9]

    The simple fact that these issues figure so prominently in the public, accepted, Western discourse should be some indicator of the difference in volume, even if there are gaps between philosophy and practice. It is conceivable that the cultural upsets associated with scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra stemmed from ignorance or wishful thinking about the true nature of day-to-day political life. It was a shocking realization, delayed by cultural naiveté, that trusted agents of all stripes had been ritually dishonest despite staunch moral prohibitions against lying. Such shock may have even helped drive Bok to publish her book as a corrective measure; other thinkers may have followed suit in spirit. It is clear there are differences in the respective society’s reactions to lying. As for cultural or religious sanction, one can find some Western, philosophical approval for lying when there is a hard moral dilemma. In a classic scenario—hiding Jews from the Nazis—several Western philosophers, St. Augustine included, might be inclined to lie for their protection. Yet, figures such as Machiavelli and Nietzsche hardly enjoy universal celebration as paragons of moral virtue. They are often taken as examples of cold, perhaps even amoral, philosophers.
    The Islamic sanction for lying seems more explicit and closer to the core of unimpeachable sources: the Koran and Hadith. It also appears in a greater variety of situations, and, perhaps more realistically, with lower thresholds for acceptance in Muslim society. Depending on one’s perspective, this could be chalked up to advanced, pragmatic thinking in the medieval, Muslim philosophical tradition. More relevant to intelligence analysts, however, is the sharp in-group out-group distinction that only one of the two cultures draws when it comes to warfare and lying. First, it must be recounted that this chapter has established Islam as essentially hard-wired to view outside cultures and faiths as enemies needing subjugation, whether or not individual Muslims act on those precepts. Second, it has established that, in relation to those outside cultures, Islam emphasizes intense societal cohesion. Third, it has established that there is religious sanction for lying if the cause is sufficiently just. Deception in war and intelligence are tentatively accepted in the West as necessary practices, but they are conducted with the fear of losing long-term credibility in mind—whiffs of government deception tend to discomfort Western publics.[10] It was discussed in chapter four that Westerners do not typically see themselves in a state of perpetual conflict. It would follow, then, that the need for lying in inter-societal relations depends on the state of conflict. If Islam, however, is in a state of perpetual jihad, and jihad is clearly just, then perpetual lying to non-Muslims may also be just so long as it advances the cause.
    Western analysts might be inclined to highlight the similarities they see between Western and Eastern moral systems, but they may miss the fact that some of the highlighted values apply to intra-Muslim relations and not necessarily to Muslim-non-Muslim relations. There are several Hadith vividly demonstrating the permissibility of lying to non-Muslims. In at least three separate Hadith, Mohammad explicitly stated, “war is deceit.”[11] Given the widely acknowledged, pervasive sense of a siege on the Muslim world, the accepted importance of jihad, and the sanction for lying in honorable struggles, it is reasonable to conclude that deceiving Westerners is commonplace. As will be demonstrated in the following chapters, the skill a society develops in lying can essentially weaponize a cultural trait and have a profound effect on the course of its cognitive war.

    [1] When recounting this anecdote, I have been reminded that Tariq Aziz, infamous for outrageous lies on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s regime, is in fact Christian as well. He was operating in an overwhelmingly Muslim construct, however, and under an oppressive regime.
    [2] The Qur’an, trans. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 36.
    [3] The Holy Qur-ān: English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary (al-Madinah: King Fahd Holy Qur-ān Printing Complex, 1989/1990), 764-765.
    [4] Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, under “Takiyya.”
    [5] Reliance of the Traveller, 748.
    [6] Reliance of the Traveller, 746.
    [7] Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 29. Cited hereafter as Bok.
    [8] Bok, 47.
    [9] Bok, xiii.
    [10] Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations (Washington, DC: GPO, 13 February 2006), under “MILDEC as an IO Core Capability.”
    [11] Sahih Bukhari, “Vol. 4, Book 52, Number 268,” in USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts, trans. M. Muhsin Khan, URL: , accessed 13 June 2007.

  26. oao says:

    stu,

    i don’t see it as a digression, although I cannot spek in RL’s name.

    a bit of advice: having left academia due to disappointment, my suggestion is to be careful exposing your work if you intend to publish it (i speak from personal experience which was the last straw). at the very least I advise you to copyright it, but in general focus on publishing first.

    btw: the parallel to the fall of rome is uncanny — so history repeats itself, but humans don’t learn from it. as to whether they could do anything to prevent it even if they learned from it — that’s an interesting question in itself and I am not sure the answer is positive.

  27. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    No time to read right now – but will devour a bit later. Just to say Todah!

  28. oao says:

    A MUST READ – the success of the psyop in the face of utter US ignorance:

    be afraid, be very afraid.

    i repeat: it’s over, folks.

  29. oao says:

    this article demonstrates presence of malice.

  30. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    Please bare in mind the conniving media when you write

    Lebanese, Palestinian, and other militant groups harness the media, academia, culture, and other tools to manage worldwide perceptions, carefully tailoring their messages to respective audiences.

    If it were not for this and that the MSM honestly and forthrightly displayed the context and facts, and discussed Islam on a non-PC basis, then we would not see the US and Israel apparently losing a war.
    Certainly there would not have been the incitement to bring anti-semitism to 1930 levels.

    As for TAQIYYA one must acknowledge the religious import of this behaviour into the Arab tribal/clan culture.
    It has become so insidious that it is now as normal as opening one’s eyes on awakening.
    Amongst themselves they lie to the extent that they expect only the worst from people.

    When the author asked why this was so, a unit interrogator explained that, based on experience, they had determined the Christian translators were more reliable and less prone to deceit.
    One must also take into account that the Arab is always calculating how he can profit personally apart from the fact that the religion precludes them from helping the Kaffir against another Muslim.
    The Pentagon kicked out a certain officer working on security matters because another, a Muslim, didn’t like his interpretation of Islam and its extremists.

    The American security services (FBI, Army) found that their Muslim translators created many problems.
    (apart from the fact that the FBI wouldn’t employ Arab speaking Jews because it went against Muslim sensitivities)

  31. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    I believe it is for coffee.
    And no and I don’t think that the coffee packet or bottle will bare the “factory” image on the lable.

    Have you seen the ads for Elite coffee with the airline pilot requesting from the waiter a small glass and then hot water ….?

    There was one with him in Moscow and when he tells the waiter to Putin the hot water the KGB carry him off.

  32. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    Your comment is too long for me to digest it entirely and respond so I do it bit by bit.

    There was a picture of John Kerry getting an “explanation” of something in Gaza.
    You can bet your bottom dollar that any truth appearing in it all would be the fact that the rubble they were looking at was once a building.
    Just go back and view RL’s work on Al Durah and see the extent to which lying is commonplace the daily life of Arabs.

    One cannot equate the two cultures. They are completely different and projecting even the meaning of an apparently similar word onto the other culture doesn’t work. Ceasefire ǂ hudna ǂ treaty (in the Western sense).

    Western analysts might be inclined to highlight the similarities they see between Western and Eastern moral systems,

    That is so wrong when one considers the moral systems of the West with regard to women and the m s of Muslims with regard to women.
    Then take the attitudes towards slavery….

  33. [...] the comment thread of another post, a former student of mine who has completed a thesis for the National Defense Intelligence College. [...]

  34. Stu says:

    Cynic,

    “That is so wrong when one considers the moral systems of the West with regard to women and the m s of Muslims with regard to women.
    Then take the attitudes towards slavery….”

    I think what you are saying is part of what I’m trying to convey. When I say that Western analysts have a tendency to highlight similarities between the two cultures, I’m basically talking about reflexive mirror imaging–pun fully intended. If you mean to say that the practice is wrong, I fully agree. I’ll give you another example of a “false cognate”: Persecution in the Western sense vs persecution in the Muslim sense. When Muslims say “we will fight until there is no more persecution”, many of us may be inclined to say, “well, that sounds reasonable”. What we fail to understand is that quite often the Muslim means not only injustice and oppression as we understand it, but also the “persecution” of God’s Truth (not the capitol T). For the jihadists and many others, there is persecution by virtue of the simple fact that Islam does not yet reign supreme over Earth.

    Ciao

  35. Cynic says:

    Stu,
    I was not in disagreement but just offering some examples which seem to get overlooked by “officialdom”.

    How many in the security area will look at what that TV station owner did to his wife and admit that it is not just the individual acting alone but according to his culture?

    How many in Iraq realise that in their everyday interaction with Iraqis they are being played 99.99% of the time?

  36. oao says:

    When I say that Western analysts have a tendency to highlight similarities between the two cultures, I’m basically talking about reflexive mirror imaging–pun fully intended. If you mean to say that the practice is wrong,

    but it’s important to reiterate that this happens because westerners are ignorant and incapable of comprehending the enormity of the gap between arab culture/islam and their own and they dk the latter either. add to this the arrogance of the west and the inability/unwillingness to probe the former (lazyness, cowardice, incompetence) and it’s clear what’s going on, particularly in the media.

    my guess is that at some subconscious level they realize some of this and the malice/hatred towards jews is an emotional response to it.

  37. oao says:

    What we fail to understand is that quite often the Muslim means not only injustice and oppression as we understand it, but also the “persecution” of God’s Truth (not the capitol T).

    indeed. suppose you’re indoctrinated from toddlerhood that muslims are supreme, they must subjugate/rule over the kuffar and that allah will insure this as well as riches. consequently you don’t acquire the competence and don’t make the effort to provide for yourself, you end up in a miserable life relative to the kuffar that do much better. the injustice is obvious and jihad is the answer.

    one of the reasons for the effectiveness of the islamic myth is that personal interest is all wrapped in god’s justice and only by implementing your own supremacy over the kuffar you can achieve justice in the form of your well being.

    contrast this with judaism and christianity.

  38. Stu, I too would buy this book if it becomes available. Hijacking the site? These are the kind of ideas I come here to explore. Just the limited view you’ve offered is greatly appreciated – but I’d like to offer an additional thought to the conversation. I found a very interesting book several years ago in a 2nd hand store – “The Utmost Island”. In one chapter the author juxtaposes the newly emerging (at the time) ethos of Christianity’s concept of “telling the truth” with pre-Christian, pagan, Viking era concept of “giving your word”.

    Truth, to the Christians, was an absolute concept. You either adhered to it or you sinned, even risking eternity in hell. To the Vikings, virtue was a more practical matter. One was expected to lie to gain advantage over others. If you were selling a horse, of course you would describe it as the finest horse ever bred from that noble line, etc. They buyer, knowing this parried likewise in the bargaining with his own lies.

    However, if one “gave one’s word” about a matter, the Vikings believed that if it turned out to be untrue, they would lose their ability to speak. It could only be returned to them by the person to whom they gave their word, forgiving the transgression. One’s word was not given lightly, nor was it expected in financial transactions or war.

    I wonder of the Christian version of honesty that seems to have permeated our culture is not the weak and impractical concept here – when considering human nature.

    Of course Arabs will lie about their intentions regarding peace with Israel, for example. And we’ll lie to them, substantially and repeatedly, as the British did so skillfully during the Mandate and the decades before and after – for access to the Suez and a little better price on oil, perhaps.

    When dealing with important matters one should assume that lies will be told – and require indemnity and proof before making any commitments or payments on bargains. Perhaps expecting others to be honest in such transactions, and piously condemning them when they are not, is one of the sillier products of our guilt-ridden Christian heritage, one that we should maybe get over.

  39. E.G. says:

    oao,

    A bottle of Dom Perignon.
    IOU one if by March 2010 Stu hasn’t found a publisher, you get me one if by April 1st next year he has. Suits you?

  40. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Sorry, haven’t seen any of the Elite ads. But the Georgian Eurovision song seems inspired by the Moscow ad.

  41. Stu says:

    Cynic,

    “The Pentagon kicked out a certain officer working on security matters because another, a Muslim, didn’t like his interpretation of Islam and its extremists.”

    I suspect you mean Coughlin. I cite him extensively in my own work. In fact, I discuss a great model he developed to explain how memes are transmitted from one culture to another, and then build on it to explain how “weaponized” cultural traits and ideas are transmitted–by the same folks–to transform the opposing society.

    “The American security services (FBI, Army) found that their Muslim translators created many problems.
    (apart from the fact that the FBI wouldn’t employ Arab speaking Jews because it went against Muslim sensitivities)”

    If you have sources for any and/or all of this, I would buy you my own bottle of Dom Perignon. I intuitively believe it, I just haven’t seen it in writing.

  42. Stu says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    I just bought The Utmost Island on Amazon for a whopping $4.00 (no shipping fee, thanks to my elitist “Prime” membership!). Thanks for the tip.

    “Perhaps expecting others to be honest in such transactions, and piously condemning them when they are not, is one of the sillier products of our guilt-ridden Christian heritage, one that we should maybe get over.”

    Tough question. I think the intelligence world wrestles with this all the time, whether it rises to the level of consciousness or not. To be honest or to be effective, that is question! In fact, these moral constraints have deeply affected the development of the American intelligence community over the last 100 years. The very idea of a secretive community has only recently (in historical terms) gained American acceptance.

    On one hand, I can’t help but think that Arab-Muslims have taken a pragmatic approach to lying/truth-telling and done a fairly good job of developing a philosophy and culture around that approach. At least this appears to be the case from a medieval perspective (I’m not sure there’s been much–or any–significant deliberation about it since then). On the other hand, I think telling the truth and being able to expect it from others is one of the things that makes our Western cultures truly great and effective. It’s a layer of crap and deception that we don’t all have to sort through in our personal and business lives. It’s a step towards efficiency, among other things.

    So, I’d agree on one hand that it is one of our main weaknesses. But I’d also have to say that it is a trait we should not give up–at least not permanently.

  43. E.G. says:

    So would some Italian journalists in the “Territories” be using non-Moslem translators/fixers (or be themselves Arabophones)? I raised the hypothesis about Cremonesi, but here’s another one:
    http://blog.panorama.it/mondo/2009/02/16/gaza-la-sporca-guerra-di-hamas/

  44. Solomonia says:

    Lt. Stuart Green, USN: Why I Support Israel…

    The following was left as a comment to a posting at Augean Stables: Richard, you can count me in as a non-Jewish supporter who regularly voices his ardent, pro-Israel positions. Not only am I politically center-left, but I’m not even……

  45. oao says:

    A bottle of Dom Perignon. IOU one if by March 2010 Stu hasn’t found a publisher, you get me one if by April 1st next year he has. Suits you?

    If by then we will have not converted to islam to survive.

    Dom is a bit rich for my blood. And maybe the visibility of his work here will improve his chances.

  46. oao says:

    “Perhaps expecting others to be honest in such transactions, and piously condemning them when they are not, is one of the sillier products of our guilt-ridden Christian heritage, one that we should maybe get over.”

    from an evolutionary/survival of the fittest perspective I would guess that being true to others and to yourself is probably most effective/efficient IN THE LOMG RUN. but then I believe morals to have developed in the evolutionary process precisely for this reason. and ‘do not lie’ is probably part of it.

  47. oao said “from an evolutionary/survival of the fittest perspective I would guess that being true to others and to yourself is probably most effective/efficient IN THE LOMG RUN. but then I believe morals to have developed in the evolutionary process precisely for this reason. and ‘do not lie’ is probably part of it.”

    I am glad to live in a society where (usually) honesty is admired more than one’s ability to deceive. In Arab society it seems to me that the highest goal is to be respected as one who wields power. They seem to appreciate deception when used ruthlessly to that end.

    I don’t see that in Western morality. We admire those who refuse to lie under great duress like the Christians who were sent to the lions – but we can also admire very skillful lying where only rich people or bad cops get fleeced such as in the movie “The Sting”.

    It’s an interesting question. Possibly the evolutionary spoils go to the person whose word is trusted in almost all cases but who would lie and risk reputation for a good cause. Perhaps the difference between us and the Arabs is what we consider to be a good cause.

  48. oao says:

    I am glad to live in a society where (usually) honesty is admired more than one’s ability to deceive.

    the issue was integrity vs. efficiency/effectiveness.
    my point was that in the long run integrity tends to be more effective for survival/success. that’s probably why it was elevated to the moral code; it was done for pragmatic reasons.

    in the short run, however, one may encounter instances where there is need to choose between integrity and success/survival–which can be a hard dilemma for the individual. this is precisely the purpose of the moral code: to strengthen the integrity side of the equation as much as possible for such circumstances.

    I don’t see that in Western morality. We admire those who refuse to lie under great duress like the Christians who were sent to the lions

    this is exactly how the moral code works. if you face the tradeoff there should be some extra reward for integrity as a long term societal survival. some may perish or fail being honest but that will be advantageous in the long run for the society.

    but we can also admire very skillful lying where only rich people or bad cops get fleeced such as in the movie “The Sting”.

    because the moral code is more complex and it also recognizes mutuality: if others don’t adhere to it, it may require a response in kind.

    In Arab society it seems to me that the highest goal is to be respected as one who wields power. They seem to appreciate deception when used ruthlessly to that end.

    a very accurate characterization of arab culture. which is why what the west and particularly alibama are doing now is suicidal. they erroneously assume a universal moral code which, if not share, turns the advanatges from it for one side ineffective for survival, because it is interpreted as weakness and invites attack.

  49. oao says:

    btw, we can already see in the reactions of the iranians, syrians, even russians to alibama lack of respect due to perceived weakness as reflected in his “kick-me” foreign policy.

  50. Cynic says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    Of course Arabs will lie about their intentions regarding peace with Israel, for example.

    You have just hit the conundrum on the head in the West’s DRIVE for a sustainable peace

    If everything is a lie, on what can the Israelis depend in this shouk?
    Is there anything to pin down the Arabs into maintaining in practice what they put into English?
    Now this doesn’t just hold for the A/I conflict only but also for the West’s dealings with Islam(Arab, Persian whatever).

    And we’ll lie to them, substantially and repeatedly, as the British did so skillfully during the Mandate and the decades before and after – for access to the Suez and a little better price on oil, perhaps.
    Johnson and Harold Wilson gave Israel their solemn promise to help it in the event of something “terrible” happening and then along came Nasser and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping thus blockading the port of Eilat. The two, basically liars, ran for cover, as did the UN force in Sinai (another lie), that was put into place after the Suez crisis of 1956, when Nasser told them to scat.
    So instead of stopping a war by keeping to their promises the two permitted a war and created a bigger crisis for their Arab allies Jordan and Egypt who lost their maidenhood when the West Bank and Gaza were captured.

    If all deals of an important nature are dealt with by using a dungheap of lies that one cannot depend on to function how can one propose a peaceful existence of anything on this planet unless one imagines that the peace will only correspond to the strongest one who is also willing to use his strength.

    So ipso facto, in this case, the world is telling the Israelis that they must accept the lies, while holding Israel to a double standard, and sacrifice their people and die, for peace to reign.

  51. Cynic says:

    the issue was integrity vs. efficiency/effectiveness.
    my point was that in the long run integrity tends to be more effective for survival/success. that’s probably why it was elevated to the moral code; it was done for pragmatic reasons.</em.

    oao,

    What many people miss is that where integrity rules production, quality and responsibility are supreme and this reflects on the society’s success (Western interpretation) in life.

  52. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    A question pertaining to that quote
    “Perhaps expecting others to be honest in such transactions, and piously condemning them when they are not, is one of the sillier products of our guilt-ridden Christian heritage, one that we should maybe get over.”

    Now knowing that Arafat was such a liar Clinton had piously (before Monica) condemned him publicly with all the proof on display what would have been a possible outcome?

    How can holding someone to an honest position be silly especially when the lives of people are at stake?
    Liars are not that happy and successful as their constant need to lie shows a psyche lacking something. They do not have peace of mind but a poor player that struts and frets his hour …

  53. Stu says:

    Cynic,

    Camp David 2000 never would have happened if Clinton had done as you say. According to Efraim Karsh, before Camp David Arafat secured a promise from Clinton that he would not blame anyone if things turned out badly–rather transparent foreshadowing if you ask me, but Clinton apparently went along. (I don’t think I was ever able to cross check Karsh’s claim on this, but it’s plausible at the very least) When, surprise surprise, Camp David did not turn out well I don’t think Clinton ever publicly skewered him the way he deserved. He scolded him at the conference where there were witnesses, but as far as I know he never laid out the reasons for the failure afterwards, saying unequivocally to the media and academia, “The fault is ENTIRELY with the Palestinians and Arafat in particular. Let there be no doubt in the public mind that this was a sham from the beginning–the Palestinian Authority has chosen violence and is not truly interested in peace, we are being deceived… etc…” If he had done that, i.e. if he had called a spade a spade, it would have greatly helped our accepted PC discourse. As an icon of the left, only Clinton could have had the credibility to say something like that and be listened to, much as only Nixon could go to China and only Sharon could withdraw from Gaza. It might have infused the PC left with a little reality juice.

    So, basically, agreed.

  54. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Chickening from the bet or just wish to lower the stakes?

  55. My statement, Perhaps expecting others to be honest in such transactions, and piously condemning them when they are not, is one of the sillier products of our guilt-ridden Christian heritage, one that we should maybe get over. . . misses my point but I don’t know how to improve it right now.

    FWIW I also had an additional thought on culture and lying. Arab and Viking societies had some striking similarities. They were both built on the glory of military expansion and the plunder and pillaging of the weak – usually non-military villages of farmers and fishermen along the coasts for the Vikings. Even today, Arabs prefer shooting rockets at civilians and deceptive suicide bombings to facing the IDF head on.

    Security for individuals in both societies depended on strong clan structures willing to defend its members as a matter of honor. The veneration of power wielding strongmen (thugs) whose “brave deeds” humiliating their opponents became the cultural tales of virtue that were retold through the ages.

    Perhaps, in societies where so much depends on how others see and fear your power to dominate them through violence – values such as integrity, which means being honest even when it hurts you personally, can hardly arise as a moral value. Like choosing leaders by voting, it is seen as a weakness. Why would any Viking (or Arab) offer such an advantage to their adversaries? There, power belongs to those who can take it. Why should anyone give it away?

    I agree completely with oao and others re: the practical economic advantages (as well as many others) for a society that elevates integrity as a virtue. But perhaps those are only advantages for societies that eschew military domination as the primary means for expansion and to increase wealth. Otherwise, such notions would be a weakness to be exploited rather than a virtue to be admired.

  56. Cynic says:

    only Sharon could withdraw from Gaza

    I suppose you read that Peres has come out and said that he was wrong to have supported the withdrawal from Gaza.

    Nothing like reality to bite home.
    Interestingly none of those who so virulently attacked those who opposed the move has come out and apologized for being wrong about the result.

    The thing was that nobody called the Palestinians on their firing rockets and mortars into Israel.
    Nobody, least of all Rice and Bush said anything when their security arrangements with the EU for the Gaza/Egyptian border was destroyed.
    Liars all of them.

  57. oao says:

    cynic,

    What many people miss is that where integrity rules production, quality and responsibility are supreme and this reflects on the society’s success (Western interpretation) in life.

    yup, but I don’t. that’s exactly what I meant when I described the pragmatic value of the moral code.

  58. oao says:

    stu,

    I don’t think I was ever able to cross check Karsh’s claim on this, but it’s plausible at the very least.

    arafat’s lies and intentions have been so thoroughly known and documented, that it was utter stupidity or ignorance to believe anything he said. it was a well known fact. the problem was always the west who wanted a solution to the conflict so much that the denial they were in was and still is enormous.

    As an icon of the left, only Clinton could have had the credibility to say something like that and be listened to, much as only Nixon could go to China and only Sharon could withdraw from Gaza.

    i don’t think by the end of his 8 years clinton was an icon of the left anymore. and he certainly he had NO credibility whatsoever left. in fact, he was desperate to solve the conflict precisely because he needed SOME achievement at the end.

    and he did say it was arafat’s fault, but that was ignored and quickly forgotten. in fact, jimmy the dhimmi denied it in his book and dennis ross had to set him right. nevertheless, who do you think is blamed for the failure?

  59. oao says:

    btw, karsh is my favorite historian when it comes to the conflict. he wrote some of the best material on the subject and I would have to have serious evidence to the contrary to question him.

  60. oao says:

    Chickening from the bet or just wish to lower the stakes?

    i am not a betting person. and if I could afford a dom, I would drink it.

  61. Eliyahu says:

    besides taqiyyah, the Arabs have the terms Kasb and kitman which also mean dissembling. Does anybody know if there are differences between these terms –and what are they?

    A big problem in the cognitive warfare [I commend Stu for the term] against civilization is that Arabs/Muslims constantly use terms for values respected by non-Muslim cultures, but Muslims use them differently. Like justice, corruption, oppression, etc. To a jihadist, if the Muslims are not in control, then that is injustice. Yet the Western foreign policy establishment and media/MSM allow the Arabs to get away with using these terms in their Arab meaning without challenge or clarification.

    Now, the fact that the Assyrians do tend to tell the truth indicates that the problem is not Oriental as such –after all, the Assyrians are Oriental– but a problem of Islam. I think that Karsten Niebuhr who visited the Middle East circa 1762-3 reported that in Aden, the Arab-Muslim merchants were not trustworthy but the Jews and Hindus were.

    by the way, Stu, how does your concept of cognitive warfare differ from psychological warfare or what Lenin called political warfare?

    another problem is that the British and American media and academic worlds have been covering up for the Arabs [& Muslims generally] for a very long time. See link. Check up on Professor Wm R Polk especially.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2009/02/fashion-trend-is-was-to-cover-up.html

  62. Eliyahu says:

    note what Cervantes said about Muslim veracity.

    Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra

    Do not trust any Moor. Because they are all deceitful.

    No te fies de ningun moro, porque son todos marfuces.
    Don Quijote de la Mancha, Parte I, cap. 40]

  63. oao says:

    pelikan,

    Even today, Arabs prefer shooting rockets at civilians and deceptive suicide bombings to facing the IDF head on.

    can you blame them, given their experiences in 1948, 1967 and 1973? what do you think the naqba myth is all about? to cover up for the shame.

    Perhaps, in societies where so much depends on how others see and fear your power to dominate them through violence

    this is essentially the law of the jungle. while even some animals and primates did develop societal rules, only humans developed a moral code, but that took a very long time, particularly to digest, accept and enforce it; vikings and islam were too early.

    But perhaps those are only advantages for societies that eschew military domination as the primary means for expansion and to increase wealth. Otherwise, such notions would be a weakness to be exploited rather than a virtue to be admired.

    it becomes a liability IF (a) there are enemies who do not adhere to the same code AND (b) they are treated as if they do.

  64. oao says:

    I suppose you read that Peres has come out and said that he was wrong to have supported the withdrawal from Gaza. Nothing like reality to bite home.

    So what? what did he learn from it? is he against land for peace now?

    Interestingly none of those who so virulently attacked those who opposed the move has come out and apologized for being wrong about the result.

    netanyahu, who all for some weird reason believe to be the savior, voted FOR gaza withdrawal and is now kissing tzipi’s ass giving her veto to give himself cover for when he’ll do what sharon did. just watch.

    Nobody, least of all Rice and Bush said anything when their security arrangements with the EU for the Gaza/Egyptian border was destroyed. Liars all of them.

    the root problem is incompetence and cowardice. the lying derives from that.

  65. oao says:

    Yet the Western foreign policy establishment and media/MSM allow the Arabs to get away with using these terms in their Arab meaning without challenge or clarification.

    because they are ignorant of this and willfully so.

    Now, the fact that the Assyrians do tend to tell the truth indicates that the problem is not Oriental as such –after all, the Assyrians are Oriental– but a problem of Islam.

    to reiterate: that is an arab trait and islam reflects that because it was invented by arabs for arabs.

  66. oao says:

    sharon was very explicit about the pals when he told rice they are bloodthirsty and treacherous. she asked “all of them?” and he answered “yes, all of them”.

    there are, no doubt exceptions, but that’s all they are. they have no traction.

  67. Stu says:

    Eliyahu,

    “how does your concept of cognitive warfare differ from psychological warfare or what Lenin called political warfare?”

    Bigger, better, longer-lasting. The primary difference, at least with regard to traditional PSYOP vs cognitive warfare, the former is inevitably used as a tactic–confined in space and time–that is subordinated to the main, physical objective. In other words, PSYOP has always supported more traditional military operations where force is the main tool. In cognitive warfare, that relationship is reversed. Suddenly, violence becomes the supporting activity and the main effort is “PSYOP”. A terrorist act has often been called “propaganda by deed”, for instance.

    I don’t call it PSYOP because, doctrinally speaking, PSYOP is just one component of a broader field called Information Operations. I will admit that I am not an expert on PSYOP, but even from my layman’s perspective I can see that PSYOP–indeed even Info Ops–as it has been practiced is far too limited to explain what is happing (to us).

    I may not do it justice in my thesis, but I try to start with the most basic element of cognitive warfare–the meme–and follow it through culture to the civilizational level. I try to explain how some ideas can attack others, how cultural traits can both defend and attack, how entire societies’ discourses can be made to change, how this process can last for decades etc. etc. PSYOP is a vital, perhaps core, component of the broader cognitive war, but it is not everything.

    Clear as mud?

  68. Wow. Lt. Green, that’s just amazing. Many, many thanks for taking the time and effort to explore your thoughts so thoroughly and put them in writing. (Thanks even more for being so willing to discuss them, in depth, with the rest of us!)

    I too would gladly buy a copy of your thesis. Heck, I’d buy multiple copies and give them out; I know several people who urgently need to read it.

    In re Gaza et al: folks, the decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza was controversial on all sides, to say the least. But it was a defensible action. One of the unhappy truths of that part of the world is that NO ONE wants control of Gaza… and so Sharon gave it to the one group of people who *claim* to want it. In the process, he showed the world what contemptible liars he was dealing with… and thus made it next to impossible that Israel will ever agree to evacuate the West Bank.

    (Mind you, letting the Gazans fire rockets into Israel with impunity for three years was an obscenity. I can only wonder what Sharon would have done about that had he stayed in power; his past record in dealing with Gaza, from back when he was Israel’s Defense Minister, is instructive.)

    - – -

    I’ve been saying for years, when I debate knee-jerk anti-Israel fanatics, that they should visit Israel for themselves. All I ask is that they go, that they spend some time, and that they keep their eyes and minds open; let Israel speak for itself. It seems that this tactic can be even more successful than I thought it would be; I’m delighted!

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  69. Eliyahu says:

    Stu, using your definition, I would say that the British experts at what you call cognitive warfare are the best, the most dangerous.

  70. E.G. says:

    Stu – #74

    To me it’s definitely clearer.

    Theirs is a battle for hearts and minds. But with my tiny knowledge on the subject, I suspect Jihadi cog-war is piggybacking on a few elements of Communist (Soviet and Trotskist) propaganda techniques.

    For instance, playing on and exploiting the differential meaning of Islamic terms, as Eliyahu points out above (and we’ve already discussed it a propos the Shaheed-Martyr mistranslation).

    How is cog-war different from propaganda?

  71. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu- #69

    Nu, so Cervantes wrote. So did Shakespeare, on both Moors and Jews. One can find many such stereotyping statements. They can serve many a goal, and not very respectable ones.

  72. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    Do you consider the media’s contribution (Their role in besmirching Israel and inciting anti-semitism through their Machiavellian techniques) to be part of CW or PSYOPs?

  73. Eliyahu says:

    EG, I’m not the only one here to discuss mendacity as a strong common trait among Arabs/Muslims. Why do you only object when I quoted Cervantes? I must say that lying is a common human action, certainly not limited to Arabs. But in my experience Arabs lie even about trivial things and often lie in very extravagant ways. The Europeans are more subtle about it. Indeed, I would fault Europeans/Westerners for being more commonly hypocritical than Arabs. Even when they lie, the Arabs more often let you know how they really feel about you, not always of course. Euros/Westerners on the other hand, may want you to think that really want your health and welfare and well being; and especially that they want Peace for your sake, rather the peace of mind for antisemites that they really want. Am I too cynical about the West?

    But back to the point. The Arab propensity to lie –even about things that are relatively unimportant– goes way back. Byzantine Greeks noticed this habit of mendacity back in the Middle Ages.

    . . . many Byzantine authors complain indignantly of the unreliability of the Saracens. Indeed one searches the Byzantine sources in vain for a favorable judgement about the Arabs.
    [Vassilios Christides, "Saracens' Prodosia in Byzantine Sources," Byzantion XL (1970), p 12]
    . . . the constant Byzantine suspicions of Arab trustworthiness. [p 13]. See link:

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2008/09/arab-fibbing-goes-way-back.html

  74. Eliyahu says:

    Filling in missing words from above post in captials:

    Euros/Westerners on the other hand, may want you to think that THEY really want your [Jews'] health and welfare and well being; and especially that they want Peace for your sake, rather THAN the peace of mind for antisemites that they really want.

  75. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    Why do you only object when I quoted Cervantes?

    Because as you put it, it’s not very informative. It’s too easily interpreted as just one more piece to an “accusation act” (à la Torquemada). We’re too sensitive to stereotyping effects to morally afford substituting “Moslem culture/religion promotes or tolerates dishonest behaviour” by “they’re all liars”. You couched it better with the Byzantine example. But I’d be more careful about what may seem as attributing some behaviours of a population to an internal factor (e.g., genetic) rather than to an external factor (e.g., social norms). There’s little or nothing one can do about an internal feature.
    And I’m fond of Cervantes.

    #81 I’ll agree even more if you omit [Jews’]. Is 3 cynics around here too much?

  76. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    and because oao and I agreed to disagree.

  77. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    “I suspect Jihadi cog-war is piggybacking on a few elements of Communist (Soviet and Trotskist) propaganda techniques.”

    No doubt. Let’s not forget that Mahmoud Abbas earned his “PhD” in Moscow, and the subject had something to do with how the Nazis collaborated with the Zionists to manufacture the Holocaust and, thus, lay the groundwork for 1948. Once again, I’ll admit that I’m not an expert when it comes to PSYOP, but I’ve heard that the Palestinians learned from the Soviets. That said, they also seemed to have learned from the U.S. In Ron Schleifer’s “Psychological Warfare in the Intifada” it is the American sources that he uses to classify what Palestinians were doing in the 1st Intifada.

    Schleifer interestingly notes that “the term ‘political warfare’ was invented by the British during World War II as a euphemism for the negative-sounding term ‘propaganda’”. He broadens its usage to incorporate a “spectrum of activities ranging from propaganda, non-violent action and terrorism to insurgency.”

    When I turn to the U.S. Army Field Manual for PSYOP (1987–I could not get my hands on a more recent version), I see propaganda defined as “the systematic, deliberate propagation of particular ideas transmitted through a variety of communication methods designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of target audiences in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.” This all sounds general enough to be considered cog-war, but the same manual is quite explicit in its subordination of PSYOP (of which propaganda is a part) to military objectives. It states, “Strategic psychological operations are conducted to advance broad or long-term objectives designed to create a favorable psychological environment for MILITARY OPERATIONS (my emphasis).” Later it states more bluntly, “Military strategy sets the fundamental conditions for PSYOP.”

    Another reason that cog-war is bigger than PSYOP–in addition to what I mention above and in previous comments in this thread–is that my theory attempts to explain how the enemy’s ideology appears in the first place, and THEN how the ideology is applied–largely through PSYOPS–to disarm us. This is crucial because I identify the ideology as the enemy’s center of gravity (I am certainly not the first to do this as we begin to understand ideological wars).

    So, E.G., the bottom line is that PSYOP and propaganda are very important parts of a much larger phenomenon. Although there is such a thing as strategic PSYOP, it is nowhere near as strategic as it needs to be.

    “…exploiting the differential meaning of Islamic terms, as Eliyahu points out above (and we’ve already discussed it a propos the Shaheed-Martyr mistranslation).”

    Yes. See also #41 vis-a-vis different meanings of persecution.

    Stu

  78. Stu says:

    Cynic,

    “Do you consider the media’s contribution (Their role in besmirching Israel and inciting anti-semitism through their Machiavellian techniques) to be part of CW or PSYOPs?”

    Absolutely. It is both part of the process and a sign of our enemy’s success in transforming our discourse. There are specific traits/memeplexes in Judeo-Christian ethics and secular-liberal paradigms that leave us vulnerable to attack and manipulation. When you see the media and folks like Carter piling onto Hamas’ efforts, it is a good sign that dicrocoelium dendriticum has reached the ant’s brain.

    Stu

  79. Stu says:

    Daniel in Brookline,

    My pleasure–truly. I’m just here to fish for compliments. ;)

  80. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Have you considered the possibility that the American and Communist (with their different chapels) conceptions of propaganda are different? Your reply about the propaganda – cog-war distinction relies solely on the US Intelligence “narrow” definition of the propaganda term, probably reflecting its modalities of use by the US. Commie/Soviet sense, I suspect, may be operationally much broader.

  81. E.G. says:

    Fishy compliments to stu.
    Complimentary fish for Stu.
    Raising a glass of Limoncello for Stu.
    (Since my Dom P. scheme didn’t work…)
    ;-)

  82. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    No, I haven’t (yet) and it’s for no other reason than the fact that I had a deadline. You are quite correct that I need to look at Soviet doctrine and I promise you that I will. Well, someone will at any rate. It’s obvious to me that the Soviets were among the best propagandists the world has seen. Exploring how they weaponized ideas could help put what Arab-Muslims are doing in some perspective. There is no doubt they should be studied, there are many questions and it would help to know what they did and did not understand.

    In my work I suggest that culture and religion made profound (obvious) contributions to the development of a particular ideology, but that they won’t necessarily in every situation. Did particular cultural traits significantly help to produce Marx? (I don’t know) If they did, were the communists aware of said factors in the genesis of their own ideology? This leads to the next question: how–memetically–such a universalist movement managed to get traction in so many different cultures. Virtually all communism’s success sprang from economic dissatisfaction or the perception of economic injustice. It suggests the existence of profoundly felt grievances, an incredibly adaptable ideological memeplex, excellent propagandist abilities to “frame” messages to particular audiences, or all three.

    I think I’ll have to leave it for someone else, or a little later for me.

  83. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Loss aversion leads to greater risk taking.

  84. Stu says:

    E.G.

    “Loss aversion leads to greater risk taking.”

    Very interesting. I’d never heard of that and just had to google it. I use cognitive dissonance as an example of a psychological factor that can have a profound effect on cog-war, both in the attackers and victims. This could be another example.

    Where were you going with that?

  85. Stu, I find “cognitive dissonance” to be highly over-rated as a factor in human behavior. I just now am engaging in a discussion with a fellow who is very well informed on the I/P conflict, is able to analyze ME events at a deep level and is very capable of expressing himself clearly. i.e. He’s one smart dude.

    Yet, he insists that he can predict a person’s personality just by knowing the moment in time and place of birth (astrology).

    The human mind – even very intelligent human minds are capable of harboring the most obvious nonsense. There are thousands of PhD scientists in the world who profess a belief in an invisible God in the sky who runs the universe. The only requirement is that believing the nonsense gives them more consistent emotional satisfaction than rejecting it. Look at Noam Chomsky, no mental lightweight – and the absurdities he supports regarding the I/P conflict and human nature. The list is endless.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy that book (The Utmost Island). You’ll find out what common word in English usage is derived from “wearing the cloak of a bear”, for example, and many other little brain nuggets.

  86. Stu, I should add that I’ll be looking forward to reading of your examples of the effects of cog dissonance on cog war to see if and what I’m missing. I think Solominia said they may be publishing some more excerpts. I’ll keep checking.

  87. Cynic says:

    #85

    So then Hamas/Hezbollah/Islam is the dicrocoelium dendriticum of the political world and the dhimmas Carterii Arachis hypogaea, media, leftists etc the ants?

    As the lancet fluke manipulates the ants nerves by taking control of part of its nervous system so the fluke which infects 3 different hosts using the first one to get to the next which it controls “mentally” to gain access to the third to host its way of life.

    Amazing how the political scene imitates nature.

  88. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    Once again, I’ll admit that I’m not an expert when it comes to PSYOP, but I’ve heard that the Palestinians learned from the Soviets.

    I believe that the Israelis so embarrassed the Soviets in 67 that they started using Arafat and brought about the creation of the Palestinian people in their vengeful rage to get rid of Israel.
    Did anything come to light after Perestroika and Glasnost to back this up?

  89. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Stu,

    regarding the communist ideas and how people get to believe them, I have some first hand observations, since my father was a member of the french CP when I was a child ; he left around 1958 but remained basically marxist until a very severe stroke in 2001.

    (1) Belief in communist ideas, for someone who did not live in a communist country, can be motivated by the apparent generosity of the creed ; in my father’s case, it was also probably due to his lack of philosophical formation. At the time he bacame a communist (1942 in occupied France), he was studying physics, and the marxist theory seemed an extension of physics, since it gave laws for history and the behavior of human societies. My father was a theoretician and not an experimentalist. In any case, he had also an experimental education, and supposedly, when one performs experiments, one is supposed to try to remove all alternative explanations by devising processes which show the independence of the results on irrelevant modifications. I definitely saw my father doing that in theoretical astrophysics, on some cosmological theories, when I was old enough to understand what he was doing (more or less). There is a phenomenon, you imagine that the phenomenon is due to this and that effect, and now, you have to prune all the other possibilities. For some reason, he could not do that to marxist theory. Once, after having read “Making democracy work” by Robert Putnam, which really proves how important culture is relatively to economics, I tried to show him that marxism could not work and had no predictive power. But I failed.

    (2) Hence, communist belief is basically a religious creed. From the jewish point of view, I would say that it is idolatry and one of the proofs is that lots of humans were sacrified to this creed during the 20th century. Beyond that, it has the advantages and disadvantages of many religions. Some of the believers can be very nice, very moral people – provided that their beliefs are not severely touched. Some can be thugs and mafiosi. There are lots of rites in the communist creed. There are songs, there are holidays, there are ways of greeting other people. It used to be that political adversaries were shunned. I mean properly shunned, as in some christian sects. People would avoid marrying outside of the faith, and they would raise their children in the faith. The pretension of atheism is basically a smoke curtain and should not be taken seriously.

    (3) I disagree with you about the motivation by a perceived economic injustice. If I just take the french example, there are other determinisms. For instance, in some agricultural regions of France, peasants had a communist tradition. In some they did not. The determinant is basically dechristianization. In regions that had been dechristianized a long time ago, the communists could thrive. Not so in regions where christian practice was still alive. And this observation is not correlated to wealth. A poor catholic farmer would vote for the right, a rich communist farmer would vote for the communists. There were some rich communist farmers, I kid you not. In particular, good money was to be made if you sold grain to the soviet union…

    (4) Being a communist in a communist country is a totally different question. From what I know about North Korea, the nomenklatura is more or less hereditary (just like nobility in the feudal times) and lives an easy life in special towns. I do not know anything about Cuba or Vietnam, and little about China. There was recently an article in a french newspaper explaining that, in Bulgaria, the former nomenklatura, the mafia and the economic leaders are one and the same thing, and that this is starting to be a biiiiiiig headache for the European Union.

    I hope you get published, and I’d be happy to buy your book.

  90. Stu says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    “The human mind – even very intelligent human minds are capable of harboring the most obvious nonsense. There are thousands of PhD scientists in the world who profess a belief in an invisible God in the sky who runs the universe. The only requirement is that believing the nonsense gives them more consistent emotional satisfaction than rejecting it. Look at Noam Chomsky, no mental lightweight – and the absurdities he supports regarding the I/P conflict and human nature. ”

    Aren’t these potential examples of cognitive dissonance? I’ll add to the list. I’ve worked with quite a few fervent followers of one faith or another. Usually they are Born Again Christians, some Mormons, and a smattering of others. What gets me time and time again is that they are quite often very good at their jobs as intelligence analysts, where it is essential to be a skeptic first and THEN a believer. How is it that they are able to apply rational inquiry to one part of their life and suspend it for another, arguably more important area? One such worker told me that he found the evidence for evolution “unconvincing” and the “evidence” for creationism plausible. I knew that there was indeed little point in trying to convince him of anything that day, as he had obviously chosen a belief not for the value of the evidence, but for the comfort it provided (I kept trying for a while, though). When I suggested that if he applied 1/10 of his skepticism around evolution to his own beliefs instead, there would be some discomforting trouble. To his credit, he laughed and admitted (in a brief instance) that it all just comes down to faith.

    This is exactly how cognitive dissonance works, from my understanding. It is the subconscience reduction in importance of cognitions (mental representations of facts/evidence etc.) causing dissonance–or discomfort–with what one wants or is accustomed to believing. I think it is a major player in allowing the human mind to hold two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time. It is also an example of a psychological mechanism that helps protect memes which have been proven false or disadvantageous.

    Now that I’ve stated all this, I should also say that I do not intend to devalue religion as a concept–that is not the thrust of my work and waaaaay to complicated and tangential to my goals. Objectively, there are beneficial and disadvantageous qualities to most faiths. I only want to reintroduce religion for meaningful discussion so that we can understand how it plays into cognitive warfare.

    Ciao from bella Napoli

  91. Stu says:

    Michelle,

    I like your disagreement. I think we can both agree that there have been plenty of people who jump on the communist wagon because they anticipate a “fairer” distribution of the goods, but your point about the irony of rich communists is excellent.

    To some extent you see the same thing in the U.S.–elites who have never struggled themselves nonetheless campaigning, no less leading, the “progressive” way forward, while the poorest regions are also the most conservative. Memetically and ideologically I find that fascinating. And we can make the same point about jihadists. Tawfik Hamid and Walid Phares are two writers who have linked the WEALTH of Saudi Arabia to the virulent spread of global jihad, dampening to some extent the idea that jihadism is a symptom of poverty. Another author by the name of Muhammed Hafez links political exclusion to the spread of jihadism (within Muslim countries), but he also notes that economics does not seem to play a significant role–at least not in the way commonly assumed in our accepted discourse.

    So we’re back to the power of the idea and the readiness of the mind to accept it?

  92. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Stu,

    we are also back to the power of culture and social structure… and this is why I love the work of Robert Putnam “Making democracy work”. It has been really an eye-opener for me! Since you are in Italy right now, one of his most striking observation is that in the beginning of the 20th Century, Emilia-Romagna was significantly poorer than Puglie, while the opposite is obviously true nowadays. His explanation is what he calls “social capital”. In plainer words, it means that the ability to use economical development in an efficient way depends on mutual trust, and mutual trust is fostered by stable interaction between citizens. He also describess the dark hole of mutual distrust, where one is always afraid to be a sucker, and there is no incentive to cooperate.

    Another thinker who is interested in conflict, and in particular non-violent resistance to oppression is Jacques Sémelin. He also worked in the US, so that probably some of this production is accessible in english. The online encyclopedia of mass violence

    http://www.massviolence.org/

    is developed by him (and coworkers of course). He is also blind, losing progressively vision between adolescence and the age of about 35, as he told in an autobiography.

    Maybe you’ll find food for thought there…

  93. E.G. says:

    Michelle & Stu,

    I too know (of) a few rich marxists (or some variant of Communism). Of course, all living in countries where they can’t experience such regimes.
    In the French as in the Jewish cases, I think it’s culturally appealing because of the ingrained égalité principle. Equal rights, chances, and the possibility of social mobility.

    Stu, correct me if I’m wrong. What I gathered from your statement was that marxism/communism spread by persuading people about economic injustice and by making them realise that they actually had grievances.
    For hundreds of years peasants (but not only) have been exploited. Some may have complained but it never occurred to them that it was not normal. Then came Marx and his Apostles (;-) Michelle).

  94. Stu said, “I use cognitive dissonance as an example of a psychological factor that can have a profound effect on cog-war, both in the attackers and victims.”

    Thanks for your clear explanation in #97. As you are using the term, this now makes perfect sense.

    Naples! I had good friend who was in the Navy in the sixties who re-upped because they guaranteed him the same duty. He was serving on the flagship for the Med fleet at the time – home based in Naples where he had an apartment with a view of the coast and a beautiful girlfriend waiting for him whenever they came back to port. That too makes perfect sense. ;-)

  95. E.G. says:

    Michelle & Stu,

    Do we agree that it’s what one believes about the economy, rather than the economy per se, that is a crucial factor?
    (same about many other issues)

  96. oao says:

    I like your disagreement. I think we can both agree that there have been plenty of people who jump on the communist wagon because they anticipate a “fairer” distribution of the goods, but your point about the irony of rich communists is excellent.

    but they always end up applying that equality of distribution only to the plebos, not to themselves. the elite of the soviet bloc was no less corrupted than the elite of the corporate world in the west, it was just more hidden from view. i know no leftist revolution which was different. the idea seems to be “we are the enlightened elite, it’s the plebos who can’t be trusted with inequality, but we can be”.

    linked the WEALTH of Saudi Arabia to the virulent spread of global jihad, dampening to some extent the idea that jihadism is a symptom of poverty.

    the arab/muslim world is characterised by the rule of the strongman (which muhammad was). so the way to goods is via sucking up to the strong man. the strong man justifies his existence by defense from enemies. enemies are infidels. jihad is the mechanism.

    keep in mind that muhammad invented islam to unite the arabs and commandeer them to the sword against the infidels, to subjugate and exploit. that’s where the goods were supposed to come. given the structure and economic state of arab societies relative to the west, that’s why jihad has kept its value.

  97. oao says:

    Look at Noam Chomsky, no mental lightweight – and the absurdities he supports regarding the I/P conflict and human nature. ”

    as i explained, the left-right dimension is incapable of dealing with islam and jihad. lefties like chomsky lack the tools to comprehend arab/muslim society. they must, by definition, focus on the west, which can be fit within the left-right dimension, and just assign islam the role of helper in dismantling capitalism. they neither care nor understand its substance. that’s also why they assign jihad economic roots.

  98. oao says:

    Stu, I find “cognitive dissonance” to be highly over-rated as a factor in human behavior.

    humans are born with the ABILITY to reason based on evidence, but this ability MUST BE DEVELOPED!!!! this used to be the task of education in the west: how to think independently and critically, how to appreciate and rely on knowledge and evidence.

    no more. education has morphed into indoctrination, in teaching people what to think, not how to think. just watch the videos showing the american in the street answering the most basic questions.

    one of the reasons education was allowed to collapse was that elites understand instinctively that people who are ignorant and don’t think independently and critically are much easier to control and exploit. no matter how “progressive” elites are, they very quickly sense this and rationalize it by “we know better, we should rule and tell them what to do for their own good”, which, of course, is the path to corruption.

    that’s why i believe that the general trend is from democracy to dictatorship, not the other way around. just look at the history: greece, rome. even when a relative democracy happens, at some point it develops dictatorial/totalitarian character. think the soviet bloc nations. now we’ll have the opportunity of watching it happen in the US.

  99. oao says:

    and pelikan,

    so that you don’t misunderstand my point: I use EDUCATION to mean teaching how to think critically and independently, teaching what to think (and therefore, not to think) I call SCHOOLING. today’s intelligentsia is schooled, not educated.

    hence the decreasing effect of cognitive dissonance on life.

  100. oao says:

    stu,

    Well, someone will at any rate. It’s obvious to me that the Soviets were among the best propagandists the world has seen.

    I suggest you read this article of mine, it addresses the reason why the russian propaganda ultimately failed to sustain USSR, but US propaganda has not (yet, but wait for a few years).

    http://www.dbdebunk.com/page/page/1282191.htm

    it’s a short one. pls ignore the technical (IT) context and first part, focus on the end.

  101. oao says:

    Have you considered the possibility that the American and Communist (with their different chapels) conceptions of propaganda are different?

    weeeeeellll, yes and no. they are different, and yet in a certain sense the two regimes are similar.

    read the paper i suggested to stu above.

  102. Stu says:

    Michelle,

    “He also describes the dark hole of mutual distrust, where one is always afraid to be a sucker, and there is no incentive to cooperate.”

    That sounds about right for bella Napoli. I find myself getting sucked into this way of living. Quite frankly, it is a pleasant surprise to meet entrepreneurs who are not trying to take advantage of us. We’ve really felt ourselves getting worn down here, and we can’t disagree when people somewhat hyperbolically say this city is part of northern Africa. It’s tribal, it’s xenophobic, it’s backward leaning, it’s very honor-shame-based.

    Thanks for the reference. I’m not afraid of French, for what it’s worth. I just need a dictionary handy and some extra time to get through articles. Unless, of course, it’s Petit Nicolas. I can manage that just fine!

  103. oao says:

    I must say that lying is a common human action, certainly not limited to Arabs. But in my experience Arabs lie even about trivial things and often lie in very extravagant ways. The Europeans are more subtle about it.

    precisely because in western society there is a moral code and there is no equivalent in the arab society.

    to oversimplify it to the hilt: it is permitted to lie to preserve honor, to the kuffar, and when you are weak in the arab world and allah may well reward you for that; it’s prohibited to lie for “any” reason in the west and you will be punished for that (even if just stigmatized or not appreciated). hence, westerners are more circumspect in lying. but as the moral code is less and less taught and enforced, the west

    if this is what e.g. disagrees with me, his problem.

  104. oao says:

    Stu, using your definition, I would say that the British experts at what you call cognitive warfare are the best, the most dangerous.

    you are right that in a certain sense western propaganda may be more dangerous.

    i recommend my article above to you too.

  105. oao says:

    i tend to agree with e.g. however about the genetic factor, although I cannot completely rule it out.

    when a certain society is steeped into a fixed culture for 14 centuries and keeping it fixed is a core effort, it becomes very hard to discern between environment and heredity.

  106. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    “What I gathered from your statement was that marxism/communism spread by persuading people about economic injustice and by making them realise that they actually had grievances.”

    I’m not sure that’s what I said, but maybe I should have. Perhaps unwittingly you bring up another critical element in cog-war: the “identity entrepreneur.” This is a concept invented by Thomas Szayna and developed Thomas & Casebeer. ID entrepreneurs are characters who manipulate crises in societal identity. That is, they manipulate widespread angst brought on by perceived oppression, alienation, hardship etc. Identity entrepreneurs harness this psychological energy to whip up moral and material support for their ideological cause and could easily be called “key” or “charismatic” leaders. I see what you are saying as equally plausible, but “waking up” a population to their own plight would probably require the combination of a highly skilled entrepreneur and a very well-framed ideology.

    I seem to remember a scene in the movie “Reds” in which Jack Nicholson’s character went off on a diatribe skewering the elite leftist agitators for trying to convince the proletariat that they wanted revolution when, in fact, they seemed to want nothing of the kind. I may remember that incorrectly.

  107. oao says:

    re education vs. schooling, here’s one example:

    http://sandbox.blog-city.com/linkblog/jump/?i=508784

    pls pay attention to the field of sondra hale. can you infer her knowledge and ability to reason as well as her ideology from it?

    that such people ever got to be academics is the best evidence there is of the collapse of education and where the west is going.

  108. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    “Do we agree that it’s what one believes about the economy, rather than the economy per se, that is a crucial factor?”

    It goes without saying that perception matters most. Ted Robert Gurr is quite clear about this in Why Men Rebel, where he explains that it is the gap between a people’s capabilities and their expectations that sparks rebellion. I think he’s a universalist, but his theory can still be infused with particular cultural and religious elements.

  109. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G.,

    Of course perception of the economy matters most! But I am also pretty sure that it is not only the economy.

    Communist belief strikes a very affective chord. It’s also about making the world rational and just, and about some sort of messianic belief: it used to be the proletariate, and it has moved to many other figureheads, be it the third world, the victims of oppression, the underdog (and you can twist this so as to include the muslims, since they are poor and persecuted. Take for example the King of Saudi Arabia, isn’t he poor and persecuted ;-)?)

    From all the cases I know of people who at some point believed in the communist religion, I concluded that the irrational dimension is enormous.

    This is why it is so easy to believe in communism if one does not live in a communist country! There is no real application, and one can be very sanctimonious of think of oneself as a really good person!

  110. E.G. says:

    oao – #111,

    Till here we agree.

  111. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    As the punch line goes, in theory it’s fine, in practice – it’s somehow different.

    I hope I’m not evoking painful memories but, did you try suggesting to your father spending some time in a Kibbutz?

  112. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    “waking up” a population to their own plight would probably require the combination of a highly skilled entrepreneur and a very well-framed ideology.

    Look at the French revolution and the Bolchevik one. The 2 “forces” operated on higher (better off, more educated) societal levels.
    There was a 3rd factor: terror. A police body that at first just gathered the ignorant masses (plebos) to do the fighting and then instructed (indoctrinated) them.

  113. E.G. says:

    oao #113

    Tradition!
    It does become somewhat endogenous, but it’s still something one can distance oneself from.
    (We’ll end up agreeing to agree! By the Prophet’s beard, it’ll be the end of the world)

  114. oao says:

    Ted Robert Gurr is quite clear about this in Why Men Rebel, where he explains that it is the gap between a people’s capabilities and their expectations that sparks rebellion. I think he’s a universalist, but his theory can still be infused with particular cultural and religious elements.

    gurr was the chairman of the dept at northwestern when i was studying for a PhD there. can’t say I was impressed.

  115. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G.,

    no, it did not occur to me to suggest to my father that he should spend some time on a kibbutz. He’s my father, he was already in his seventies when we had this discussion. In fact, until he stopped speaking, there couldn’t be a family meal with my parents, where they did not go back to the intense guilt they felt of having been communist or under communist influence. They were completely aware of the horrors of communism. For my mother, who is still very much on the left, the point of view is purely affective. She is not and has never been marxist. For my father, he just could not criticize the root of communism. It was too late.

  116. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    Guilt?
    You mean they felt responsible?

    The most frequent feelings I encountered among ex-communists (not many, but including some who were in office under a communist regime) was indignation for having been cheated or regret for having made an immature decision: “I was young, I didn’t realise…”

    Question to the “Islam-experts”: when should a Moslem feel guilt?

  117. Cynic says:

    This is why it is so easy to believe in communism if one does not live in a communist country! There is no real application, and one can be very sanctimonious of think of oneself as a really good person!

    Because they only relied on the NYT for information and especially their journalists (eg. Walter Duranty) who love getting prizes for misinforming the proletariat.

    My reality came from witnessing Russians who left the Soviet Union in the 70s coming to terms with our daily life.
    Has anyone reading this blog seen a grown man rushing out of the shoe shop because he was unable to cope with having to make a choice between the various colours, sizes and fittings?; a person become emotionally involved reading 1984 for you it’s a story; I lived this, I lived this ?; a person hoarding perishable food in the pockets of his clothes everyday and not believing that there would be more tomorrow?

    Nothing to compete with the horrors but certainly eye-opening, demanding pertinent questions.

  118. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Question to the “Islam-experts”: when should a Moslem feel guilt?

    Seeing you ask so nicely:-)
    When a Muslim tells us that the Jews are responsible for the nakba and then in the very next breath says that everything that happens is the will of Allah.

  119. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G.

    Yes guilt: they were not materially associated to the crimes of communism, but they nevertheless felt that they had approved, and therefore strengthened, criminal activities.

    My parents are basically good people. My father claimed to be an atheist. But he believed in justice. Once, I came across a definition of atheism according to the Talmud: an atheist is someone who believes that there is a judge and there is a justice. So my father did not believe that there is a judge, but he believed in justice. And in many other things. This is how I understand that he is no atheist. Of course, if I said that to his face, he would probably understand enough to deny, so I won’t do it. The debate is closed, since he cannot answer anymore.

    The fact is that good people can be mistaken. This fact of life can be treated only by debate and democracy, because the other guy could say as well that I belong to the category of good, but mistaken people.

    This is the reason why I post under my own real name, and I try to write arguments which are as logical and as waterproof as I can. I am no good at manipulating feelings, and I believe this behavior to be self-defeating in the long run.

    However, I know that some people like to and do manipulate feelings. Only response: critical sense and mutual education. Debate hones arguments.

  120. Michelle Schatzman says:

    @ Cynic: in Frqance, where my parents and I live, the New-York Times is not easily available – except on the web, and that is very recent. But there are other newspapers, which play more or less the same rôle. The problem is more the following: why do you read things and believe them, while you could inquire and criticize? At some point, I would buy every morning two newspapers from opposite sides of the political spectrum, say “Libération” (left) and “Le Figaro”, (right) and this would really dismay my colleagues at work, because they could not figure out on which side I was…

    It was a lot of fun!

  121. Eliyahu says:

    Stu, Lenin used the term “political warfare” in State & Revolution and/or Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism both circa 1910-1918.

    As agreed above, it is the PERCEPTION of the economic reality and the moral conclusions drawn from that perception that influence one toward Communism. But this is hardly the only cause. For intellectuals, Michelle is very close to my view which I summarize: Marxism, as a system that seemed to have all the answers, was very attractive to intellos for that reason.

    As I see cognitive dissonance, it operates when a well-indoctrinated person comes up against facts that don’t fit his ideology. Some may be convinced by facts; others get angry or enraged at the facts and at the messenger precisely because they contradict the cherished ideology. For these persons [including many intellos now and formerly] the facts must be changed to fit the theory/belief system/ideology/ or the facts must be suppressed so that they no longer cause cognitive dissonance. For instance, the Arab woman raised in the US or UK who was appointed an anthropology prof at Columbia [where else?], Nadia el-Hadj. She could not accept archeological evidence of Jews and Jewish political entities in Israel in ancient times, or tried to minimize or reject it. Now, the Greeks and Romans called the country Judea [Ioudaia, IVDAEA] in the heyday of the Roman Empire. The Jewish character of the country is well attested in Greek and Latin sources. Yet el-Hadj tried to vitiate the archeological evidence which was presented to her in Israel, and may have been ignorant of the written Greco-Latin testimony [most of which is gathered in Menahem Stern's Greek and Latin Authors...]. I trace this to her PLO loyalties, whereas the PLO charter states in Article 20 that the Jews have no historical connection to the Land of Israel [what the PLO charter calls Palestine, a term not traditionally in use among Arabs before 1920]. PLO leaders like arafat, however, did not let that stop them from accusing the Jews of killing Jesus in Jerusalem in Israel ["Palestine" in their words], while also claiming that Jesus was a “Palestinian.” These last claims allow the narrative used by both Arabs and Western Judeophobes which portrays Israel as crucifying “Palestinians” just as ancient Jews crucified Jesus. By the way, this links to bill moyers’ claim of a Jewish genetic leaning toward violence.

    EG, I emphatically reject any inference that I ascribe Arab mendacity –as a cultural and national-character trait– to their genes. The problem with the Arabs is not their in their genes but inside their heads. Indeed, a number of DNA studies show a genetic affinity or proximity between Jews and Arabs. One study curiously showed this proximity [of Jewish modal DNA] as closer to Syrians than to Palestinian Arabs, as I recall. Yits’haq Ben Zvi wrote many years ago that many Arabs in Israel were descended from converted Jews, arabized and islamized. I view these negative cultural traits as deriving from Islam and Arab culture rather than from genes. Of course, neither Jews nor Arabs are pure races whereas the modal DNA [modal haplotypes] are alike. That too ought to be clear.

  122. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    No doubt your parents and you are good people. I’d say honest (though not “honest to God” ;-) ). I for one appreciate the intellectual integrity in assuming accountability*.

    Mistakes… can only be treated by debate and democracy…
    Of course we all make mistakes. But I’m not sure I understand what you mean afterwards. Could you please explain?

    While we’re off topic, can you explain why the inability to categorise you politically dismayed your colleagues?

    *here’s a word oddly missing from French.

  123. Eliyahu says:

    Ironically, Marx himself once wrote in so many words that class struggle was NOT applicable to Islamic society [in the Ottoman Empire]. He pointed out that a poor Muslim always had precedence over a rich dhimmi [non-Muslim].

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2007/11/was-karl-marx-zionist-neocon-bat-yeor.html

    Also see p54 in Shlomo Avineri, ed., Karl Marx on Colonization [or Colonialism??] and Development [or some such title].

    Re a comment above, the Bolshies were expert in psywar. Think of the slogans that they used to take power in Russia before their putsch or coup d’etat: Peace, Bread and Land [for the peasants]. Of course, the Bolshevik victory led to new wars against new enemies [Whites, Anarchists, Ukrainian nationalists, Muslim jihadists, etc]. Bread was in short supply especially before the NEP and Land was taken away from not given to the peasants.

    Also think of Stalin’s Appeal to the Muslim Toilers of Russia and the East, which Serge Zenkovsky describes as brilliant demagoguery.

    However, I believe that the British psywar experts are the very best, the subtlest. In this context, and for several reasons, I believe that UK psywar experts invented the “Palestinian people” notion. The Arabs in question, however, tended to be pan-Arabists until Western “friends of the Arabs” explained to them how expedient it was.

  124. E.G. says:

    Todah Eliyahu.

    See how framing can change perception?

    As I see cognitive dissonance, it operates when a well-indoctrinated person comes up against facts that don’t fit his ideology.

    You mean specifically in the present context, I think.
    Generally, it’s about trying to solve a conflict between beliefs that are perceived as contradictory.

  125. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G.

    Mistakes… can only be treated by debate and democracy…
    Of course we all make mistakes. But I’m not sure I understand what you mean afterwards. Could you please explain?

    I’ll try to explain.

    I claim that there are good but mistaken people, for exemple devout communists. Obviously, these communists will claim the same for me: I may be good (well ;-) hmmm…) but in their eyes, I am mistaken. Is there an Expert, an infallible Judge who will decide between us? No, there isn’t. So, is there a way to convince these people that I am right and they are mistaken? Not really. As long as they stick to their faith, and they do not want to consider facts contradicting their ideology, I have little hope to make them change their mind.

    But… reality can fly into their face and I may have constructed bounds with them, for example in the work place, or in some club, or in any kind of social or civic activity. If they are not reduced to their political belief, if their life does not revolve only around this political belief, they may have some tie with reality. It is not the same to be contradicted or doubted by your representative or by your soccer friend. For inhabitant of North America: replace soccer by base-ball or any other favorite sport.

    You can’t play soccer by yourself. One team is eleven people. So you have to associate and you find that from time to time, you have also to run the association.

    This is where democracy, and in particular local democracy is so important. In small and moderately large groups, decisions (e.g. financial decisions) have to be made, and rationality usually prevails. Ideology loses importance when its price is real money. Civic activities, social activities of all kinds (including choir, basket-ball, and so on) are where social bounds are constructed and trust is learnt.

    From my point of view, the best antidote to non realistic political thought is a healthily democratic society with lots of local initiative, and not too many public subsidies. Or even better: no public subsidies.

    If the society is all organized from above and social activities are mostly organized or subsidized from above, it removes an incentive to work on reality and in reality. Then, there are fewer opportunities for reality to fly into the face of people who do not want to see it.

  126. Michelle, well said (#133). I see you’ve given significant thought to these things.

    To anyone interested re: cognitive dissonance. (oao?) I use the term to describe the supposed angst that occurs when a human mind holds mutually contradictory beliefs. I believe Stu uses it to simply refer to the existence of those contradictory beliefs in the mind) – if I understand him correctly.

    My theory is that human minds do not automatically suffer angst from such contradictory beliefs – in fact we have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize our minds so that we do not suffer such ill effects.

    I attribute this to the primacy of emotion over intellect in the operation of the human mind. As long as both beliefs provide sufficient emotional satisfaction we will set up protected mental compartments for them where they can be called upon to make us feel good whenever we need the hit – whenever someone threatens those beliefs.

    Angst is only experienced when some unfortunate human mind attempts to force them into the same compartment. This would occur, for example, if Stu’s friend in military intelligence decided that his belief in God should be subject to the same logical criteria as his professional political analyses.

    In most cases, though, people will have no trouble maintaining separate compartments for those beliefs because that allows them to experience emotional satisfaction from mutually contradictory sources – earning twice the emotional bang for the buck. In this case they can experience the deep emotional satisfaction provided by their belief in God while also earning high income and praise for their astute political analyses.

    For most, a few mental gymnastics are a small price to pay for such an emotional return. I also believe that there are probably no human minds that do not harbor some of these compartments. They will be constructed wherever a sufficient emotional payoff is available.

    When someone exhibits a logically rigorous set of beliefs and conclusions in some field of knowledge and is willing to change them if confronted with new evidence it is because they have chosen to place that realm of knowledge in their objective and logical compartment – not because they are necessarily more intelligent than those who disagree with them.

    And conversely, when someone holds irrational views it is not necessarily because they have not been properly educated as oao maintains, or that they are less intelligent or that have fewer critical thinking skills than those who reject those beliefs.

    When someone says, “I am right because I am smarter than they are or because I am endowed with better thinking skills” – they are likely to be expressing a particular personal belief that gives them great emotional satisfaction – one they are not likely to change when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

    You might ask how I know for sure that my expression of this theory, my beliefs regarding cognitive dissonance, are not simply an emotionally driven conceit. I don’t. But I am willing to lay them out here as clearly as possible for others to dispute if they wish.

  127. E.G. says:

    TY Michelle,

    Holding a “wrong” ideology is no mistake, in my view. Having one’s opinions shaped and acts dictated by any ideology is just not very intelligent nor responsible. So I don’t see any point in arguing about who’s right or wrong (except about facts and eventually their interpretation). Regarding opinions, of course social interaction is necessary and influence is a normal effect.

    In small and moderately large groups, decisions (e.g. financial decisions) have to be made, and rationality usually prevails.

    I’m not sure rationality usually prevails. Too many status/power considerations there, too much irrelevant talk, often not enough time devoted to the issue (see: agenda setting)… Let’s settle for a commonly accepted resolution.

    Ideology loses importance when its price is real money.

    Oh yes! Seen how some local civic associations managed to have subsidised Halal meals in French public secular schools, and even (money being limited) replace all meals by Halal ones? Seen how unions preach for time and space to be allocated in the workplace for Moslem workers for their prayers? This is so égalité! Exquisitely social realism.

  128. Stu says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    VERY interesting theory of compartmentalization. If you have published or know of any published works on this or related topics, I would be interested. I think what I have for my MS is enough to at least get analysts thinking about the importance of psychology on cog-war, even if what I’m conveying isn’t perfect. I should at least footnote something like this, however. I only raise cognitive dissonance as an example of a potentially profound effect.

    I had not thought to consider whether the psychological discomfort is inevitable or if individuals can comfortably compartmentalize, as you say. Cog. Dissonance as I understand it suggests the reduction in importance of the discomforting cognitions. Those cognitions are still there, but reduced in importance. Perhaps in an amateurish way, I extrapolated that the importance of cognitions could rise or sink depending on the circumstances. For instance, it is plausible for someone to both believe that bin Laden is a hero for what he did on 9/11 and that it was the Jews who perpetrated 9/11. Depending on that person’s immediate circumstance, one belief will come to the fore and the other will sit in the background. According to what you are suggesting, however, an individual’s contradictory cognitions can have equal importance so long as they are segregated. Or am I misreading this? Very interesting indeed.

  129. Stu says:

    Eliyahu,

    Agreed. #129

  130. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E. G., #135

    most associations in France are subsidized, by local or national public authorities. For a long time, unions were recognized only if they were affiliated to a short list of national organizations, and the criterion was “patriotic conduct during WWII”. This has recently been abolished.

    I claim that the appalling results you mention come from the fact that they are neither free nor independent.

    There is a good book on the subject, which you can find on the web and read if you read french. It is called

    “Associations lucratives sans but”, by Pierre-Patrick Kaltenbach

    (which is a pun on the definition of standard associations : “associations sans but lucratif”, i.e. not for profit societies), and it is available here:

    ppkafp.club.fr/Associations_lucratives_sans_but.pdf

    This book explains how french local and national governments threw money to very improbable groups, so as to find solutions for ill-posed problems, or just grease some axles. Kaltenbach did not become very popular with this book, so it went out of print, and he just put it on the web. It is a very interesting book.

    There is indeed a biiiiiig difference between handling money for which you had to fight and money coming from the tax-payer’s pocket. This is the reason why I put as a condition “very little or no public subsidies”. I believe in accountability, as you might have guessed.

    By the way, what does TY mean?

  131. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    TY = merci: Thank You.
    Merci encore.

  132. oao says:

    My reality came from witnessing Russians who left the Soviet Union in the 70s coming to terms with our daily life.

    my reality was being born in romania and living there until i was 13. and romania was worse than USSR.

    When a Muslim tells us that the Jews are responsible for the nakba and then in the very next breath says that everything that happens is the will of Allah.

    nah. since they have no concepts of logic, consistency and causality, this won’t bother them. my guess is they’ll respond with “the damn jews are going against allah’s will and need to be killed”.

    Re a comment above, the Bolshies were expert in psywar. Think of the slogans that they used to take power in Russia before their putsch or coup d’etat: Peace, Bread and Land [for the peasants]. Of course, the Bolshevik victory led to new wars against new enemies [Whites, Anarchists, Ukrainian nationalists, Muslim jihadists, etc]. Bread was in short supply especially before the NEP and Land was taken away from not given to the peasants.

    does it remind you of anybody today?

    To anyone interested re: cognitive dissonance. (oao?) I use the term to describe the supposed angst that occurs when a human mind holds mutually contradictory beliefs. I believe Stu uses it to simply refer to the existence of those contradictory beliefs in the mind) – if I understand him correctly.

    i think the term can be taken to mean inconsistency either between beliefs simultaneously held, or betweem a held belief and facts contradicting it.

    as to how people resolve it varies. for those who hold strong beliefs like committed communists, the contradictory facts must be obvious and many to make a dent. in general they tend to ignore or distort the facts to fit the belief.

    it also depends on how self-confident the person is: if the whole identity is wrapped up in the beliefs, contradictions is like pulling the rug from under the person and chances are he’ll stick to the belief at all cost. that’s when self-confidence is low.

  133. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    The point is in perceiving the contradiction. As long as it’s not perceived and recognised, harmony rules.
    Some intellectual skills are obviously needed to recognise a contradiction, and dialectic (materialism) can be conceived as a means to resolve dissonance.

  134. oao says:

    So I don’t see any point in arguing about who’s right or wrong (except about facts and eventually their interpretation).

    facts are interpreted within some held even if implicit, theory, never in absence of such. in fact, one choses which facts to consider based on that.

    the critical point is (1) ability to discern when the facts disprove the held theory and (2) discarding it for another.

    I’m not sure rationality usually prevails. Too many status/power considerations there, too much irrelevant talk, often not enough time devoted to the issue (see: agenda setting)… Let’s settle for a commonly accepted resolution.

    absolutely, or otherwise we would not have the current crisis (even though there are rational factors involved). but at least in financial areas with minimal uncertainty one can expect more rather than less rationality than in other domains.

  135. E.G. says:

    oao,

    It’s not fun any more if we agree!

    re-your paper. Every group and society employs cohesion mechanisms that ensure conformity and adhesion. They differ in the degree of freedom they allow for dissension or deviance, and in the existence or normativity of change mechanisms.
    The latter seem a bit congested.

  136. Pelican's Point says:

    Stu said, Dissonance as I understand it suggests the reduction in importance of the discomforting cognitions. Those cognitions are still there, but reduced in importance. Perhaps in an amateurish way, I extrapolated that the importance of cognitions could rise or sink depending on the circumstances.

    Well, I don’t think that is too far from what I propose. I used the term compartmentalization which suggests a mental image that is spatially protected in the brain. But that’s just because others have used that term. It is the effect of compartmentalization that I am concerned with – which I consider to be preventing the collision of dissonant beliefs in the brain.

    One thing to remember is that cognition is a sequential process. We can only think of one thing at a time. We can’t read a novel and discuss taxes with our accountant simultaneously. So, to avoid cognitive dissonance we only have to extend that limitation to avoid considering dissonant topics during the same mental state of focus. I think that’s how this probably works in the brain. When in the pew we think of God’s majesty. On the drive home we think again about work-related matters where extreme logical consistency is demanded. We learn (by conditioning, painful experience) to avoid combining these topics mentally. While we’re doing one of those then, the other is effectively reduced in importance, because we avoid considering it at the same time.

    But, I don’t think that’s exactly the process you describe. I think you are suggesting that dissonant ideas become less important to us through some psychological mechanism so that we don’t suffer from their juxtaposition. I would suggest though that the angst of dissonance is only a risk for beliefs that we do deem important (that are tied to strong emotions) and that is why the brain subconsciously organizes itself by setting up a time sharing system to avoid or minimize such collisions.

    (There can be fireworks if someone forces us to consider those beliefs concurrently and account for the contradictions – which happens a lot in internet forums.)

    One way I may differ with some others here is that I don’t think this is such a difficult thing for brains to do (time share dissonant beliefs). I think it’s the default mode. If we fail to do that we are forced into a logical analysis of our own beliefs. That’s an especially difficult activity that’s certain to exact an emotional penalty if any cherished beliefs (or ways of thinking) must be abandoned. This can result in loss of confidence, depression and a general sense of insecurity. The brain is understandably eager to avoid that.

    As far as sources, I derived this concept as part of a larger view on how brains produce behavior that I have developed over the last few years – but not published. I’m still testing my assumptions. But, the most significant books I have read that have led me along are “The Feeling of What Happens” and “Descarte’s Error”, both by Antonio Damasio – “The Emotional Brain” and “Synaptic Self”, both by Joseph LeDoux – and “The Meme Machine” by Susan Blackmore which I read early on and which kind of sent me in this direction. There were many other inputs but these held the key ideas I think. Hope this helps.

  137. oao says:

    re-your paper. Every group and society employs cohesion mechanisms that ensure conformity and adhesion. They differ in the degree of freedom they allow for dissension or deviance, and in the existence or normativity of change mechanisms.

    which is exactly my point. the problem is that americans belabor under the illusion that the us is an exception.

    and they don’t differ only in the degree of freedom, but in the rewards and punishments for adherence. the US has figured out that it’s easier and more effective to fool them than to jail them.

    which is exactly some islamists figured out (e.g. turkey) and some leftists (alibama). even putin has figured it out.

    One way I may differ with some others here is that I don’t think this is such a difficult thing for brains to do (time share dissonant beliefs). I think it’s the default mode.

    but of course: if it were easy everybody would do it and we would not be where we are. the demise of education has made it much easier.

    there was an article in the nyt questioning the value of the humanities in an economic crisis and arguments for its elimination altogether. iow, eliminate whatever little education remains.

    any wonder that universities, academics and students are what they are?

  138. Michelle Schatzman says:

    TY E.G. and everybody else for the quality of this discussion.

  139. E.G. says:

    Michelle and/or Eliyahu (grands savants)

    Perhaps you’d like to explain to “israeli”, on the “Israel’s 3 Choices” thread, the specificities of Alsace-Lorraine vis-a-vis French law? True, it’s not military law but it’s a particularity.
    You might also know of other countries (GB?) practicing differential law in different territories.

  140. E.G. says:

    Let me repeat my yesterday question: When or about what, by the book/law, should or would a Moslem feel guilt?

  141. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Are you aware that Israel still has some British (Colonial) Laws effective? Due to the coalition politics they have never had time to tackle that. Even the banking system is marred by the Colonial Office mentality with regard to the “Natives”.

  142. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    #148

    Didn’t you like my answer in #126?

  143. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    Ironically, Marx himself once wrote in so many words that class struggle was NOT applicable to Islamic society [in the Ottoman Empire]. He pointed out that a poor Muslim always had precedence over a rich dhimmi [non-Muslim].

    Surely class struggle would not apply to an agglomerate of two or more “classes – cultures – tribes”?

    Then again discriminating culturally should not have effaced the rich/poor dichotomy if Marx was sincere about what he wrote about Capitalism etc.
    Now if he had restricted himself to observing Muslims only he should see the struggle between the rich and poor (noble and serf).

  144. Cynic says:

    Michelle,

    from opposite sides of the political spectrum, say “Libération” (left) and “Le Figaro”, (right) and this would really dismay my colleagues at work, because they could not figure out on which side I was…

    Trying to identify me by the papers I was currently reading was a failure because I “cynically” questioned both progressive and conservative.

    I’m afraid that the colleagues I had/have would not have stopped at being dismayed.

    I made bad friends with someone purely on the grounds that I questioned an article in his beloved NYT and that I had the nerve to bring the London Times into the discussion with opposing facts.
    Imagine if I’d brought the then Manchester Guardian into what was to all intents and purposes the same story but completely different “truth”.

  145. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    You mean all the Turkish/Ottoman laws have already been abolished?

    I liked your reply but am seeking to amplify my understanding.

    What’s your explanation to the colleagues’ dismay?

  146. E.G. says:

    One thing to remember is that cognition is a sequential process.

    Yes, well, except for quite a few parallel processing capacities.
    And that cognition is not only thinking.

    And let’s not forget the involuntary nature of associations.

  147. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    Regarding when a Muslim should feel guilt… I have not stumbled across anything that clearly outlines what a person should FEEL when in the wake of an atrocious act. I haven’t looked, though, either.

    Richard may correct me, but I have operated under the assumption that honor-shame and guilt constructs are less about the individual’s feelings and more about societal rules and expectations. That is to say, they start from without, not from within as a pang of guilt might. I suspect it is entirely possible, for instance, that a Muslim’s conscience makes him FEEL guilty after he commits the honorable act of killing his recently-raped sister. On the other hand, there may be plenty of those brothers who just light up a cigarette afterwards.

  148. oao says:

    Perhaps you’d like to explain to “israeli”, on the “Israel’s 3 Choices” thread, the specificities of Alsace-Lorraine vis-a-vis French law? True, it’s not military law but it’s a particularity.
    You might also know of other countries (GB?) practicing differential law in different territories.

    doesn’t make any difference — nobody will change their stand vs. israel. in fact, they may become more desirous of israel’s elimination, because it forces them to face their hypocrisy.

    if you read paul berman’s recent interview, one of his point is that the west wants to feel itself on moral high grounds and to obscure any of its deeds inconsistent with that. that’s one reason it dumps on israel, to distract from those. and when israel points that out, the enmity becomes greater, not lesser.

    israel and the jews are a black shadow over the west: not only how the jews were treated, but that they built a country which is in many ways better than their own.
    and just like the pals, they cannot allow it to throw that dark shadow over them. it must be eliminated.

  149. E.G. says:

    oao,

    “israeli” may be otherwise sensible to the argument.

  150. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    My collegues’ dismay? It was not just dismay but abject dislike of what I said or pointed out about this or that topic.

    I don’t know what if any Ottoman laws exist and in what form. What I do know from the occasional case appearing in the news and the criticism stemming from that outdated colonial period’s laws.
    The bit about the banks came up with newcomers complaining about the service (Brits at that) and that the banks are still applying the methods instituted by the C.O.

    (eg. Opening an account requires reams of papers in fine print to be signed – The natives are crooks until proven otherwise!)
    Pity Bibi in his term a Finance Minister didn’t complete the job.
    They never imagined that the House of Lords would be taking kick-backs.

    Should or would a Moslem feel guilt? I don’t know their law/book sufficiently to give you such an answer but given the current behaviour why would/should they feel guilty when they are “victims”?
    Actually from what I have read about that culture they are never guilty; only the other is.
    From excerpts of the books I’ve read the male no matter how badly he treats his “chattels” is never made to feel guilty.

  151. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Would betrayal make a Moslem feel ashamed or guilty?

  152. Cynic says:

    I suspect it is entirely possible, for instance, that a Muslim’s conscience makes him FEEL guilty after he commits the honorable act of killing his recently-raped sister. On the other hand, there may be plenty of those brothers who just light up a cigarette afterwards.

    Stu,
    In some cases one can replace “his recently-raped sister” with “his sister he recently raped”

    From what I’ve seen it is not guilt but shame on being found out by those other than the immediate family that emotes.
    There is no guilt in our sense of the word.
    He or she (in many cases the mother kills the daughter) does not feel guilt but relief at having saved their honour.

    For us this is weird, sickening behaviour.

  153. Eliyahu says:

    EG, I don’t know much about the French law regarding Alsace-Lorraine. But the US has differential laws for its overseas territories. Consider the lack of Puerto Rican right to vote for president or to send voting representatives to Congress. PR has non-voting reps in the US Congress. Yet the Puerto Ricans are subject to the draft. by the way, the name Puerto Rico is a corruption of the original Indian name, Boricua. I think that some of the other overseas territories have even less rights than Puerto Rico. But you don’t hear much complaint about that. Where’s jimmuh carter on the issue of rights for Puerto Rico? Shouldn’t they have independence, if he is consistent in his principles? Where is the ever so righteous Left when it comes to Puerto Rico, although they probably pay some lip service to the issue from time to time?

  154. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G., I forgot to answer about my colleagues dismay. Mathematicians in my town are almost all on the left or the extreme left, at least publicly. The ones who are visibly on the right are a disgrace to the right… they display such incredibly silly ideas and bad public behavior that I wonder whether they are the result of some botched genetic experiment ;-) (I’m kidding).

    So, if I was reading something else than the standard newspapers, I was giving some credibility to the other ones, and that was bad and quite disturbing.

    There are lots of hypocrisy about political positions. Probably my colleagues like me, for professional and personal reasons. If I am not like everyone else, they may ascribe it to the column “creative mathematicians do have idiosyncrasies”, and they do not assign it (yet ?) to the column “this jewess stinks”.

    Since there is some unrest right now in the universities and research institution, and I believe for good reason, I went yesterday to a meeting of all local mathematicians, and I had the pleasure to be the only one to abstain on the final vote. The reason is that I said that one should not only oppose the new laws, but one should negotiate with the government to have better conditions. “Negotiations” was voted down, with a very large majority.

    I have no doubt that the same who voted down “negotiations” with our regularly elected government, would certainly vote with the same enthusiasm for negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

    Lots of “good but mistaken people” here… Most office doors in the math dept post a sign, which says “Fighting” (en lutte). I am not so sure that I would like that on my door. I used to have an article from Haaretz in 2004, reporting on the victory of Bney Sakhnin in the Israeli soccer cup or championship (can’t remember), so as to prove that there is no apartheid in Israel. But unfortunately, this immortal piece of info fell and was swept away.

    As long my colleagues like me as an unusual character, it’s OK. But it will last what it will last, nothing I can really do about that… By the way, having chaired some of the mathematical operations, I used to ban very carefully interaction between work and politics. People can discuss what they like in private, but they should not mix their political opinions with work decisions.

    What is even more funny is that I had a short discussion with the present chairman after the meeting, and he knew perfectly well that the text we voted for was totally unrealistic. Why does one have to vote for something silly? In order to be liked? The person whose approval I need most is myself: I like to look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and not feel disgusted by myself. Voting for something I disapprove would shame me. My own version of honor-shame culture :-)…

  155. EG, Right on!

    I was using cognition in the usual sense of: The mental faculty of knowing, which includes perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, judging, reasoning, and imagining. (American Heritage Dictionary)

    To be clearer I would say that conscious cognition is sequential. We can’t consciously perceive, recognize, conceive, judge or reason more than one thing at a time. Those things you might call cognition that occur subconsciously can occur in parallel with each other and in parallel with reasoning, planning, discussing, etc. which are sequential conscious activities. If that’s what you are saying I fully agree.

    And I believe this subconscious activity (whether or not you consider it a form of cognition) does have an important effect on what we are thinking about or discussing consciously.

    I believe that this subconscious processing occurs while we are contemplating some topic that holds emotional importance for us, in a way that tries to steer us away from possible collisions with other beliefs we may hold – such as the belief that our views should be logically consistent while contemplating God.

    When we are in a discussion with others I believe it even tailors its effect to others’ views so they will see us as likable persons.

    Whether this subconscious activity is helping us avoid belief collisions in our own mind or helping us to appear as reasonable people to others – its goal is to optimize our emotional state of well-being and satisfaction, to prevent us having to feel bad about ourselves as the result of what we think about or say to others.

  156. Stu says:

    Cynic,

    “From what I’ve seen it is not guilt but shame on being found out by those other than the immediate family that emotes.”

    This is my understanding as well. Honor-shame is primarily about how one is perceived by others in the out-group, and revelations about one kind of transgression or another may indeed drive a Muslim to despair about his or his family’s tarnished reputation. That doesn’t mean, however, that he had absolutely no conflicting feelings about it before said revelation. It may not be the same thing, but I can think of many instances wherein Western criminals did all they could to hide their illicit activities, but felt some degree of relief when they were forced to come clean; they no longer had to hide it, and they could begin working off their feelings of guilt. Apples and oranges, perhaps.

  157. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Alsace-Lorraine, or more precisely the three (present)”départements” of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle is a piece of land that was french since Louis the XIVth. In 1870, after the defeat of Napoléon the 3rd to the (newly unified and created) German Empire, Bismark decided to seize Alsace-Lorraine, based on the german notion of nationality, defined by the German culture and the German language. Yes, at that time, a majority of the inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine used germanic dialects and spoke some french. But the border did not follow the language line, and some french speaking areas were annexated.

    In 1918, France reclaimed Alsace-Lorraine, but the Alsaciens and Lorrains found that german law was in many instances better than the french law. Moreover, the inhabitants did not agree with the 1905 french law, which separated between Church and State. Therefore, law in Alsace-Lorraine (or rather Alsace-Moselle, since not all of Lorraine had been annexated) has kept the “Concordat” (treaty between France and Vatican), which lets rabbis and christian ministers be paid as civil servants by the state. Moreover, if german law is better than french law, german law is applied and conversely. For instance in matters of health insurance, the law is more favorable in Alsace-Moselle than in the rest of France. In case of conflict, the reference can still be the german text of law under the Kaiser… In 1940-1944, Alsace-Lorraine was again annexated by the Germans, and it returned to France in 1944, going back to this unusual regime of local law.

    Modern French law has often special provisions for Alsace-Moselle. Progressively, some of the differences disappear, but very slowly.

    Re. the situation in the west bank, the situation is quite different, since law is defined on the basis of residence. Should I move to, say, Strasbourg, the Alsace-Moselle law would apply to me.

  158. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    What? You haven’t read Sarkozy’s charter? It clearly states he wants mathematics’ elimination, and your local mathematicians are the first on his list. What do you want to negotiate, the means by which you’ll be put to death?
    Better send him Schrodinger’s cat with one of those belts, as a proportionate reply.

    I’m copying-pasting your Alsace-Moselle comment on the other thread.
    Merci mille fois & bon courage.

  159. E.G. says:

    Todah Eliyahu,

    Copied-pasted on the other thread.
    (Gee, how come you’re so knowledgeable?)

  160. E.G. says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    To the best of my knowledge, mnemonic processes (retention, storage, retrieval) and learning, as well as problem-solving and decision making are also considered as cognitive activities. Consciousness (un- sub-) is hardly a cognitivist term. Look up dual task performance if you’re interested in parallel processing. Might give you some ideas about compartmentalisation.

  161. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    I think some land laws are based on Ottoman legislations. But apparently, for some, British customs are not widespread enough: Petah Tikva imports famed U.K. red phone boxes for city center

  162. oao says:

    Actually from what I have read about that culture they are never guilty; only the other is.

    infidels are guilty by their sheer existence. and if they are not subjugated, that in itself victimizes muslims.

    From excerpts of the books I’ve read the male no matter how badly he treats his “chattels” is never made to feel guilty..

    that’s what muhammad intended to institutionalize. there is nothing that drives muslims nuts than women who don’t obey or infidels who wants to give them rights. check out what caused theo van ghogh’s murder.
    or the beheading in nj.

  163. EG said, To the best of my knowledge, mnemonic processes (retention, storage, retrieval) and learning, as well as problem-solving and decision making are also considered as cognitive activities. Consciousness (un- sub-) is hardly a cognitivist term. Look up dual task performance if you’re interested in parallel processing. Might give you some ideas about compartmentalisation.

    Thanks for the advice. These are all very interesting topics. Most of these terms are undergoing further understanding and redefinition by psychologists and especially neuro-psychologists. Some terms, like consciousness, elude science for now but some researchers claim to be homing in on it.

    Parallel processing is very interesting. Before I retired I designed computer programs to control machines and processes that required the execution of multiple concurrent tasks that can respond to external events – so I have some experience creating systems that can functionally perform just a fraction of what even simple animals and insects can do.

    I’m also an amateur musician and I’ve always been fascinated by how my brain allows me to play my guitar, controlling the pitch of up to six strings at once with my left hand fingers and the rhythm and string selection with my right – while singing a tune. Usually it’s a juggling act that I can barely get through but for tunes I know well, my conscious focus can shift over to watching myself do it. But that’s what animals have evolved the ability to do. On an absolute scale of complexity it’s not much more extraordinary than a bee finding a nectar source, bringing it back to the hive and doing her dance to tell the other worker bees where to go.

    I try not to be too concerned with strict definitions in a field where the terms and the paradigms that unify the knowledge are changing so fast. For example, is decision making a conscious activity? fMRI scans have shown that some decision making that requires a conscious focus of attention occurs up to a second or more before the brain is consciously aware that it has made the decision.

    Fascinating stuff.

  164. Just some housekeeping I’ve intended to do for a while. I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable discussing such significant ideas while being known as “Pelican’s Point”. Not that it should make much difference to anyone else, but from now on I will use the moniker “Ray in Seattle” if you don’t mind, an ID which I have occasionally used on other news forums.

    I am also trying to find time to establish a blog that has more details about me and my ideas about brains and behavior if anyone is interested. It is unfinished at this time but you can find it by clicking my name at the bottom of any of these comments, no matter which name appears there. Thanks

  165. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    but I can think of many instances wherein Western criminals did all they could to hide their illicit activities, but felt some degree of relief when they were forced to come clean; they no longer had to hide it, and they could begin working off their feelings of guilt.

    But that is a cultural thing. Mainly from religious roots, but some from peer/societal pressure.
    Not for nothing the 10 Commandments were so prominent until recently.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that he had absolutely no conflicting feelings about it before said revelation.

    What conflicting feelings that exist could surely not be equated with our understanding of guilt.
    If you mean guilt then maybe feelings of conflict at having compromised the family’s honour etc.
    With the case of a brother or brothers raping the sister and then killing or helping the mother kill her
    cannot be used to justify the guilt emotion in the same sense of a Westernized beast feeling pangs of remorse and guilt which weigh on his mind sufficiently to “come clean”.
    The crowd we are discussing come clean by the act itself.
    He raped her because she is/was a slut because of some trivial act of speaking to a stranger, uncovered her face, whatever.
    They have a million excuses.

  166. Cynic says:

    But the US has differential laws for its overseas territories.

    Eliyahu,

    Don’t know if you followed the “minimum wage” increase in the US a little while back.
    While it went up on the mainland on a little island in the Pacific where a certain fish canning company has its factory, but its headquarters in Pelosi’s backyard it did not and is almost half of the national rate.
    I know this is not on the same level of the discussion but you did mention dhimma.
    Of course for that crowd the only important thing is one man one vote; that the politician turns round and stabs him in the back is of no consequence.

  167. Cynic says:

    Michelle,

    they display such incredibly silly ideas and bad public behavior that I wonder whether they are the result of some botched genetic experiment ;-) (I’m kidding).

    Why? If E.G. and I could discuss an hypothesis of a possible genetic problem with politicians, what’s so different about mathematicians, apart from a rider or two :-)?

  168. E.G. says:

    Cynic, Stu, Eliyahu, oao, RL (all)

    How about apostasy? Or betraying the country/tribe? Or breaching one or more religious obligations?
    Still no guilt to be found?

  169. Cynic says:

    Voting for something I disapprove would shame me.
    You would avoid the cognitive dissonance.

    So, if I was reading something else than the standard newspapers, I was giving some credibility to the other ones, and that was bad and quite disturbing.

    So insecure they are of their ideology.
    Now do we find that there is a bit of honour/shame and cognitive dissonance at play in the Leftist psyche?

    It is when they do no permit “idiosyncratic” behaviour that things are bad.

  170. E.G. says:

    I try not to be too concerned with strict definitions in a field where the terms and the paradigms that unify the knowledge are changing so fast.

    I do. If only to have a clear-ish idea of what I’m talking about/dealing with.
    And it’s quite useful to compare “old” definitions, paradigms and terms with newer ones. Instead of gliding on the winds of novelty, I like to consider for instance the (marginal) utility and benefit/cost of the change put forward (even when I come up with it).

  171. E.G. says:

    Cynic #177

    I interpret it in terms of group inclusion-exclusion mechanisms, with the pressure to conformity that goes with it.

    What I’m trying to understand is the attribution of the “one of us” (in-group – good people, by definition) label on the basis of one’s newspaper consumption. And the importance/relevance of this characterisation in one’s workplace (where it’s fine to be friendly but not necessarily friends).

  172. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G. #166, Cynic #175, lol!!!!!!!

    And yes, you are right, Cynic, lots of insecurity in the left ideology! Otherwise, they would not need to lock themselves up, and shut out all other input.

    I am pretty sure that there is a degree of honor-shame and quite a bit of cognitive dissonance in my math department. At some point, during lunch, I admitted that I voted for Sarkozy in the second round of the last presidential election. I got some pretty bad looks. In fact, I hated Ms Royal (I can’t stand a politician who talks to voters “as a mom”; I don’t need one).

    I am awfully disappointed by Sarkozy’s performance. He wants to do everything by himself. Either he has bad advisers or he has good ones but does not listen to them.

    I was fed up of the policy of pouring money into research and university without questioning what is going on. The system needs real reforms.

    I can say that now, I am served: Sarkozy decided that all of us scientists are lazy idiots, save for a few mathematicians or physicists who are, as we say in french “l’arbre qui cache la forêt” (the tree that hides the forest). Instead of performing surgery, cleanly and after discussing the issues rationally, the reforms he proposes are closer to butchery.

    Even the french academy of sciences, which is not exactly on the left, protested.

    Some negotiations seem to be starting today… and the main union of university teachers declined to participate. Smaller unions participate.

    In my department, some sort of fusional process is going on. I have been away for most of the time since this movement started – for health reasons. The demagogues have gained a bit of power. I do not know when they will graduate to demopaths… I feel that not everybody is part of this fusional process, but they are afraid to say so, or they just wait until the wave has passed, or they live their life and don’t show up in meetings. I believe in dissent and public statement of dissent, so as to prove that there is more than one opinion.

    The word “honor” has very different definitions in different societies. I always thought that “honor” is gained when you win something against great odds, when you perform honest actions while the majority wants to cut the corners, and so on.

  173. Michelle, have you considered the possibility that honor is simply seeking the approval or your own society as defined by the moral narratives your society embraces? I think evolution has made this a very strong psychological motivation in us.

    Perhaps honor seeking, as a psychological motivation, is not so different in different societies but it is the moral narratives that are different. Sometimes those narratives can be vying for dominance within one society (multi vs mono culturalism in the EU) – or in your case, within one department.

  174. Cynic says:

    E.g>

    #176 How about apostasy? Or betraying the country/tribe? Or breaching one or more religious obligations?

    The apostate is not guilty, just frightened of a fatwa.
    The same of the tribal/clan bit – not guilty and remorse but fear of being discovered.
    Again religious stuff just brings about fear. This I can mention that I did witness what happened with a particular big and powerful man who ate during the day in the month of Ramadan. He was not feeling guilty in our sense of the word but he was scared of the Imam’s thugs finding out.
    They don’t have a conscience and spilling the beans would ease it emotion. They did not seem to see that they did wrong but that a wrong was imposed on them.
    OK, so that was just my impression because honestly I have no way of telling what the man is actually feeling. For sure there is none of that confession stuff so loved by Hollywood. For sure they will say stuff but only under duress and usually extreme duress.

  175. Cynic says:

    E.G. #179

    What I’m trying to understand is the attribution of the “one of us” (in-group – good people, by definition) label on the basis of one’s newspaper consumption.

    The way I interpret it is that the newspaper is considered to be the “secret signal – one of us”, the uniform of togetherness – security

    It is the sort of body language if one is aware that was given off at teenage parties where one stood around looking for someone who seemed the right one to group with and remove the stigma of being alone – no identity, insecure, standing out, different, obvious twit.
    Why did all the boys group together and the girls likewise on the other side of the room? Insecurity.
    (nowadays I suppose group would be grope!!!)

    Why was it on campus that everybody would comment on the previous night’s radio (in my day) program, no matter how insubstantial the comment? just to be part of the whole.
    Hell, if one couldn’t comment on Saturday’s rugby match before first lecture, especially at school, one was out. Out I tell you.

  176. E.G. says:

    But Michelle (& Cynic),

    Doesn’t the Left preach tolerance? Keeping an open mind?

    Michelle, people are often reluctant to change in/of their system. Especially those afraid to lose their job and start working (instead of spending too much time preparing endless meetings), or merely afraid to lose their prerogatives. Maxwell’s demon gets in their box!

  177. E.G. says:

    Cynic #183

    Amazing. Would Philip Roth be able to write a novel about a society/world without guilt?

  178. E.G. says:

    Cynic #183 (the previous was about #182, sorry)

    Yes, a signal and symbol. Sounds plausible.
    Even more as I’ve witnessed university “eminences”, far exceeding your Oxfordian bête noires, engaging in childish games.

  179. oao says:

    Even more as I’ve witnessed university “eminences”, far exceeding your Oxfordian bête noires, engaging in childish games.

    academic politics are full of childish games. lots of infantiles there — they like the protective environment.

    what is it that it is said: that the intensity of the fights are inversely proportional to the value of the stakes?

  180. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    What I witnessed amongst academics was very childish.

    There was a mathematics building with pure math at one end and applied at the other.
    There was only one lift/elevator and it was on the pure side (literally and figuratively if pun intended).
    Now said pure prof had a disagreement with applied prof (who unfortunately had an ailment making it difficult for him walk etc.)
    and forbade the applied prof from using HIS lift.

    Then of course some of those erudite academics and their most childish behaviour in the staff dining room.
    Hell, I thought I’d not left high school.

    By the way some people object to the use of god but have no problem with hell.

  181. oao says:

    i went thru several departments in several domains and they all have more or less of that sort of thing.

    once you get to know them personally it’s very hard to read their stuff seriously.

    but isn’t it a validation of the inverse relationship between stakes and intensity?

  182. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Can Philip Roth distinguish between cultural nuances?
    Can he only tell the sameness between kreplach and ravioli or can he tell the difference as well?

  183. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Roth is the author I most associate with guilt and attempts to rid oneself of it.

  184. E.G. says:

    oao,

    once you get to know them personally it’s very hard to read their stuff seriously.

    Yes, I’ve experienced that sort of difficulty. At least in one case I overcame it (the man’s theory was/is good!). Happens the other way around too, though. Either you find a “nice guy’s” paper better than it actually is, or you give it a bit more credence/importance than it deserves. At any rate, you read it with another pair of eyes.

    but isn’t it a validation of the inverse relationship between stakes and intensity?

    I never thought of it in these terms. My lay theory was more similar to Pelikan’s compartimentation. Sort of keeping the fine mind to the research (and sometimes teaching) and lacking it, as if blocked, from many other activities. In particular the faculty to analyse one’s own attitudes and behaviour – in some cases failing to apply (and see any relevance of) the stuff they were teaching to their own activities.

  185. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    I’m sure Michelle can tell a lot more about the theoretic/applied schism. From what I know, “pure” is not an innocent denomination. It’s the highest form of intellectual activity – at least in the purists’ opinion. Application is often regarded as less noble, perhaps because one needs to make some adjustments to a beautiful theory, which may turn it less elegant.
    Besides, a theory is about explaining and demonstrating something. Whether it works “on the ground” is less important (to some) or relevant. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t (when the mechanisms for applying it are perfected).

  186. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Roth is the author I most associate with guilt and attempts to rid oneself of it.

    Roth can only be subjective.
    How does he divine the other’s sense of guilt?

    Can he analyse the type who can rationalise something and dispense with guilt, given that facts and context permit,or the type who feels guilty because he has to; because he has to feel that he is suffering – masochist; or because of the need to flagellate himself before expiating his “sins”?

    He cannot write about people who emotionally feel no guilt, as we know it, and the consequential spilling of the beans to ease the conscience, but whose concern is how to justify the act.

    The people’s behaviour I witnessed and used to illustrate a different rationale were of the type who for example felt nothing about the pain they caused another but were amused that the other was “stupid” to have been hurt.
    (In some of the fauxtography discussed in many blogs several commented on the smiling faces, which could be interpreted as amusement at playing a part or amused at the sod who was actually injured).

    Everything is the fault of the other. If it happens to us we are the victims – if it happens to him, he is to blame. Hypocritical, sick, call it what you want to.

    #192
    In particular the faculty to analyse one’s own attitudes and behaviour
    woah! You want them to criticize their ego?
    #193
    Application is often regarded as less noble, perhaps because one needs to make some adjustments to a beautiful theory, which may turn it less elegant

    You want them to criticize their ideas just because reality does not jibe with them?

    But it is so beautiful. How can you suggest such a thing that reality would dare ignore it?”

  187. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic’s story about the Muslim in Israel who was eating during Ramadan during the day reminds me of the hypocrisy of Israel’s movement against “religious coercion.” It was long led by Shulamit Aloni who eventually became a founder of the Meretz Party. But –as far as I know– this crowd never opposed religious coercion of Muslims by Muslims. As an example, about 30 years ago, when Hebron was under Israeli govt and the local police were part of the Israeli police, the local police [Muslims] arrested and jailed a Muslim man for smoking in public during Ramadan during the day. This elicited no complaint whatsoever from the “anti-religious coercion” crowd. Bear in mind that the policemen were wearing an Israeli uniform and subject to ultimate Israeli authority, so by extension this was religious coercion enforced by Israeli policy [albeit they were Arabs]. Maybe it’s OK for Muslims to coerce fellow Muslims.

    Shulamit Aloni’s hypocrisy showed up in another, more recent case that Cynic probably knows about. Hayim Ramon, a senior minister in Olmert’s cabinet, performed a crude “French kiss” on a girl soldier who was doing service in a govt office as part of her military service. She complained, and since the incident was filmed and other people were present –as I recall- there was evidence to convict him of sexual harassment. He was convicted but he got a good character reference from one of Israel’s most outspoken feminists — Shulamit Aloni. Aloni argued, as I recall, that Ramon was loyal to the cause of Peace, blah blah blah. So it seems that Peace is today’s last refuge of a scoundrel. Does this fit RL’s definition of demopathy??

  188. Eliyahu says:

    correction:

    …religious coercion enforced by Israeli POLICE [albeit they were Arabs…

  189. oao says:

    Either you find a “nice guy’s” paper better than it actually is, or you give it a bit more credence/importance than it deserves. At any rate, you read it with another pair of eyes.

    oh, yes. today more often than one writings are judged by reputation than the other way around.

    I never thought of it in these terms. My lay theory was more similar to Pelikan’s compartimentation.

    that’s a separate issue. i was referring to the low stakes in academia relative to finance and politics and that fighting is more intense nevertheless.

  190. oao says:

    From what I know, “pure” is not an innocent denomination.

    yes, it’s also a way to claim precedence for funds, chairs and tenure. but it often tends to degenerate into intellectual masturbation when so often the sources of funds want the usefulness of applied.

    He cannot write about people who emotionally feel no guilt

    one of the reasons religion was created is to reduce their number

    You want them to criticize their ideas just because reality does not jibe with them?

    well, they want to have worth. society tends to assign more worth to what it can use, so if you produce something that cannot be used you gotta find an alternative worth.

    But –as far as I know– this crowd never opposed religious coercion of Muslims by Muslims.

    for the same reason that the west/left does care only for jewish oppression of arabs, not arab on arab oppression. it’s their problem, not ours.

    So it seems that Peace is today’s last refuge of a scoundrel.

    as olmert clearly demonstrated.

    feminist leaders are some of the most hypocritical you can find. they completely ignored the treatment of women in islam, because they’re cowards. they can know they can get away with it in the west.

  191. Michelle Schatzman says:

    @ many people: yes fighting in academia is particularly bitter and cruel, because people are tenured and I never saw one being seriously punished for destructive behavior, but I did see destructive behavior.

    Pure vs. applied. Oh yes, this is culturally very powerful. I found eventually that even supposedly very strong pure mathematicians were lacking lots of scientific culture that applied mathematicians had, as a necessary consequence of working on an interface. Weeeeell, conversely, applied mathematicians often lack the breadth of view of mathematics that good pure mathematicians often have.

    Since the domain of mathematics has become so wide, there is no other solution than to work together, but easier said than done ;-)…

    The left, open? No kidding, my friends? Very few people are open. Most people need the exoskeleton of a strong ideology, a lot of hate words for one’s supposed enemies, and so on… Luc Rozenzweig is right, the left and the right are disappearing as concepts, and new descriptions will emerge.

    Ray in Seattle, I agree with you that the moral narrative is different in different societies, and this is the reason why my honor (showing dissent publicly and calling for rationality) is different from the honor of some clan chief (keeping his daughters virgins and hiding all his women, viewed as female demons who lust after men). Moreover, and this is where I join RL, the punishment for dishonor is immediate or almost in honor-shame societies, while if I lose honor in my own eyes, I will feel guilt, and possibly it will lower my status – but it might also elevate it… in the eyes of people whom I think dishonorable.

  192. E.G. says:

    oao & Cynic,

    i was referring to the low stakes in academia relative to finance and politics and that fighting is more intense nevertheless.

    In particular the faculty to analyse one’s own attitudes and behaviour
    woah! You want them to criticize their ego?

    I think the key is in the perception (assessment?) of relevance. Those who have an inflated ego can’t “see” how/why what applies to any human being has anything to do with their own selves. Their mental representation of the world is “special”. For daily, mundane, activities it’s rather narrow (cf. Ivory tower), for more spiritual activities it’s a vast perspective. Hence, the enormous energy invested in petty things, happening in one’s field but not on the ground.

  193. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Roth can only be subjective.
    How does he divine the other’s sense of guilt?

    I don’t know how or if, but you’re getting the sense of my initial question: would an author struggling with guilt be able to imagine and write something that makes sense about a society where even the concept of guilt is absent?

  194. oao says:

    Hence, the enormous energy invested in petty things, happening in one’s field but not on the ground.

    i think they hide for protection in academia and
    there is easier to “fight” because the consequences are
    less painful than outside.

  195. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Everything is the fault of the other. If it happens to us we are the victims – if it happens to him, he is to blame. Hypocritical, sick, call it what you want to.

    It’s the difference between an internal and external locus of control: one’s conception of oneself in time and space. Either one attributes events to external sources (that control one’s behaviour, attitudes, destiny etc. – such as the Govt., God, Social constraints), or to internal (re)sources (e.g., competence, personality). Most of us have a mix of the 2, with a more or less marked tendency towards either the internal or the external pole. What you’re describing is a polarised external locus of control.

  196. E.G. says:

    oao #202,

    Perhaps. But even when it’s one’s true vocation (“doing” science), one must learn how to play the political game, and play it, if one wants to survive in there.

  197. oao says:

    But even when it’s one’s true vocation (”doing” science), one must learn how to play the political game, and play it, if one wants to survive in there.

    sure, human nature does not disappear in academia. but in theory one would expect a different kind of politics by those who profess to seek the truth.

    i would say that by the time I entered academia the quality was starting to crumble and the politics became nauseous to me to the point that I had to get out. if i am to live with that kind of people, i might as well do it on the outside, where people don’t know any better.

  198. E.G. says:

    but in theory one would expect a different kind of politics by those who profess to seek the truth.

    Profess excellence in seeking to explain phenomena. De facto promoting herding rather than leadership (i.e., not too much independent thinking) and mediocracy. The higher the level of expectation, the bigger the disappointment.

    I’ve been lucky to meet the “expected” kind too. One of them told me about the political game he had to engage in, in order to physically distance his unit from some others, so as to be (and have his team) less involved in political games… and get more work done.

  199. [...] 8 from Stuart Green’s thesis. Previous postings available [...]

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