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Trump as Walt Whitman?

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a drive-by DoubleQuote ]
.

Donald Trump
, as revealed in The Atlantic, as tweeted by Peter R Neumann:

Trump atlantic

Walt Whitman, as self-sung:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

**

The Question:
would you want a Walt Whitman for President?

Review: The Rule of the Clan

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Rule of the Clan by Mark Weiner

I often review good books. Sometimes I review great ones. The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals about the Future of Individual Freedom  by Mark S. Weiner gets the highest compliment of all: it is an academic book that is clearly and engagingly written so as to be broadly useful.

Weiner is Professor of Law and Sidney I. Reitman Scholar at Rutgers University whose research interests gravitate to societal evolution of constitutional orders and legal anthropology. Weiner has put his talents to use in examining the constitutional nature of a global phenomena that has plagued IR scholars, COIN theorists, diplomats, counterterrorism experts, unconventional warfare officers, strategists, politicians and judges. The problem they wrestle with goes by many names that capture some aspect of its nature – black globalization, failed states, rogue states, 4GW, hybrid war, non-state actors, criminal insurgency, terrorism and many other terms. What Weiner does in The Rule of the Clan is lay out a historical hypothesis of tension between the models of Societies of Contract – that is Western, liberal democratic, states based upon the rule of law – and the ancient Societies of Status based upon kinship networks from which the modern world emerged and now in places has begun to regress.

Weiner deftly weaves the practical problems of intervention in Libya or counterterrorism against al Qaida with political philosophy, intellectual and legal history, anthropology, sociology and economics. In smooth prose, Weiner illustrates the commonalities and endurance of the values of clan and kinship network lineage systems in societies as diverse as Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, India and the Scottish highlands, even as the modern state arose around them. The problem of personal security and the dynamic of the feud/vendetta as a social regulator of conduct is examined along with the political difficulties of shifting from systems of socially sanctioned collective vengeance to individual rights based justice systems. Weiner implores liberals (broadly, Westerners) not to underestimate (and ultimately undermine) the degree of delicacy and strategic patience required for non-western states transitioning between Societies of Status to Societies of Contract. The relationship between the state and individualism is complicated because it is inherently paradoxical, argues Weiner: only a state with strong, if limited, powers creates the security and legal structure for individualism and contract to flourish free of the threat of organized private violence and the tyranny of collectivistic identities.

Weiner’s argument is elegant, well supported and concise (258 pages inc. endnotes and index) and he bends over backwards in The Rule of the Clan to stress the universal nature of clannism in the evolution of human societies, however distant that memory may be for a Frenchman, American or Norwegian. If the mores of clan life are still very real and present for a Palestinian supporter (or enemy) of HAMAS in Gaza, they were once equally real to Saxons, Scots and Franks. This posture can also take the rough edges off the crueler aspects of, say, life for a widow and her children in a Pushtun village by glossing over the negative cultural behaviors that Westerners find antagonizing and so difficult to ignore on humanitarian grounds. This is not to argue that Weiner is wrong, I think he is largely correct, but this approach minimizes the friction involved in the domestic politics of foreign policy-making in Western societies which contain elite constituencies for the spread of liberal values by the force of arms.

Strongest recommendation.

Across the great divide

Friday, April 8th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — philosophy during a bank heist — and its implications in terms of military doctrine ]
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tactical

mental

Two screenshots in sequence from the Denzel Washington movie, Inside Man, bring me back to the philosophical fissures and fusions between mind and brain, subjective and objective, quantitative and qualitative, man half-angel and half-beast — in a law enforcement context.

**

When one side has reached the limits of its material strength, it can always add to its military efforts by mobilizing all possible moral strength.

I often need to talk about this. As material, for Clausewitz, is the counterpart to moral, what for TRADOC is the counterpart to Human Terrain?

Alice in Sovereign Citizenland

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — offering context for a remarkable court appearance ]
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David Hall, a member of the Sovereign Citizen movement, appeared before Judge John “Jay” Hurley, Broward’s First Appearance and Extradition Judge, and the exchange in the upper panel below is a transcript of a portion of their interaction:

Sovereign Citizen Broward County Alice

The lower panel is taken from Alice in Wonderland, a book written by the individual Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson — a mathematician and logician at Christ Church, Oxford — in the person and under the assumed name of Lewis Carroll.

The distinction drawn by Mr Hall between the individual and person who go by the name “David Hall” follows much the same surreal logic as that of Lewis Carroll’s Red Knight. Judge Hurley handles the matter with gravitas and grace, as you can see:

Hat-tip: JJ MacNab, author of The Seditionists: Inside the Explosive World of Anti-Government Extremism in America

Birds of a feather

Monday, December 14th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — in this case, Trump / Clinton ]
.

Friend of a friend or two Corey Robin on FaceBook — as quoted by Michael Degerald — pointed up an illuminating DoubleQuote between Trump and Clinton, which I’ve dropped into my usual graphical format:

SPEC DQ Trump Clinton

Whatever diagnosis you might be inclined to make of one of these two persons on the basis of their quote, perhaps you’d like to consider affixing it to the other one likewise..

**

It’s that old liberty / security paradox, chestnut, koan or trade-off again, isnh’t it?


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