Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Thought experiment: are we living through a revolution?

Here's a thought experiment for you: are we living through a revolution? Will history see the last twenty years as a single revolutionary period? If so, what does that tell us about the future?

This week saw the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It also witnessed the debate on the Afghanistan war becoming more heated, public disillusionment spreading. What if the two are linked in a powerful but indirect way, book-ends of a revolution and its aftermath?

Speaking broadly, and not too controversially, the revolutionary moment and its contemporary consequences follow a common historical schema:

(1) The old order is overthrown; this success breeds a euphoric ambition in the revolutionaries and a motivating fear in their enemies;

(2) Overreach and/or reaction results in reverses for the revolutionaries who, embattled, become further radicalised and increase their efforts;

(3) An inability to achieve stated goals engenders a loss of confidence in the revolutionaries, who haver between further advance and consolidation; it also emboldens the revolution's enemies who are increasingly threatening; the stresses created by revolution reach a crisis point;

(4) In the face of potentially fatal internal and external threats order is restored by force, actual or threatened; whilst the new regime has revolutionary and emancipatory trappings, it is repressive in substance.


The relevant parts of the English Civil War, and the French and Russian Revolutions broadly follow this schema, as do others (the American Revolution is a rather more difficult fit). Despite its dialectical flavour, I would argue this isn't a typology dictated by ideology. Rather, it's based on observed actions and reactions and conforms to common-sense interpretations of behaviour.

We can apply this schema to the events of the last twenty years. (1) The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Soviet communism initiated a period of revolutionary euphoria, optimism and confidence: Francis Fukuyama perceived the End of History, declaring liberal democracy the final form of human government; mostly successful wars and/or peace keeping operations were launched to spread the ideology, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor.

However, (2) reaction set in: indeed 9/11 was the manifestation of a reaction so profound it contained elements of the medieval. The liberal democratic revolutionaries, radicalised and now known as neo-conservatives, responded swiftly: the assault on Afghanistan. Then, confident of their project and fearful of their enemies, they upped the ante: the overthrow of totalitarian Iraq. The swift victory in the Iraq War marked the high-water mark of revolutionary liberal democracy.

The tide then turned (3) as it became clear that the neo-conservatives had overreached. A naive, universalising belief that people are 'naturally' liberal democrats - whoever they happen to be and wherever they happen to live - led to post-war disaster in Iraq, in the form of civil conflict and anarchy.

The 2008 economic crisis discredited financially-driven free market capitalism, the economic corollary of liberal democracy. Years of war and financial indiscipline inspired by a euphoric belief in the unprecedented potential of the post-revolutionary era has left the main state proponents of liberal democracy deep in debt, in some instances potentially insolvent. The rise of environmentalism has provided another urgent challenge to liberal democratic orthodoxies.

Under these assaults, confidence in the initial liberal democratic settlement falters. The Afghanistan war - previously regarded as the 'good' war, one that was eminently winnable - is now regarded with pessimism, brought on by indications of a reverse. Violence in Iraq, having been temporarily subdued, appears to be on the rise. Retrenchment is the order of the day as the forces of reaction in Iran, Russia and elsewhere anticipate vengeance on what they regard as their mortal enemy.

The events from 1989 to date therefore appear to have adhered closely to the revolutionary schema. But what next?

The last stage is that of crisis and official reaction and repression. Further reverses may seal the fate of liberal democracy, at least in its immediate post-revolutionary incarnation. Evident failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with a continuance of financial, economic and fiscal crises or some form of vindication of environmentalist predictions, would result in a potentially lethal crisis of confidence. This radical uncertainty can be expected to be resolved through the adoption of some form of authoritarianism. We may not be fully aware that this is happening, substance may change whilst forms remain. But some form of change will appear absolutely necessary - it may indeed be necessary - to stem the flow of disorder and panic.

A thought experiment, but nevertheless worth thinking through. But how credible is its predictive potential? One thing we can be sure about is that revolution always divides and defines - the French Revolution gave birth to Left and Right and thence created the division that defined modern politics. The Russian Revolution defined further the twentieth-century's political conflicts and contests.

Our most recent revolution, that of 1989, has brought all these definitions into question. We are now living with new divides, new definitions, and with newly-applied labels such as Islamist and neo-con. But other than this, our thoughts are in flux, we see as through a glass darkly. Living through these events, being so close to them, we probably don't yet fully realise how different the world has become. It may be that the stakes we're playing for right now are higher than we know.

46 comments:

worm said...

...where does this leave me regarding the whole Jedward/ X Factor saga?

Peter Burnet said...

My goodness, Gaw, are you having trouble sleeping at night? That was a coffee-aided 5:00am post for sure. I'm torn between spending hours crafting a lengthy riposte on why the tedious, predictable ubiquity of Simon Cowell and Bono proves we are actually living in a conservative, non-revolutionary era and just slipping over to Nige's to admire the butterflies.

worm said...

on a more serious note - great journalistic stuff - as I know you read Joe Moran's blog - have you seen his last post (about Kynaston's 'Family Britain' book)? In that, he puts forward a fairly convincing argument that we are living in a mundane age of stagnation

malty said...

That list was interesting Gaw.

Gaw said...

Worm: A period can be banal for the majority and still contain a revolution. I saw Joe Moran's piece and have bought the forbidding tome. (JM's an interesting chap, isn't he?)

Peter: I'm up at 5am getting juice and milk for babbies. It is my misfortune that whilst doing this I do sometimes ponder the nature of history.

I think there's a lot to be said for this being a revolutionary era. The death of the categories of Right and Left, as they've been understood since the early 1790s, is enough of an indicator.

Malty: Thanks for the link. Lists can be very suggestive can't they? I think I've compiled a list that suggests that what we're lacking right now is a list.

Brit said...

Well I don't believe in The End of History, but I don't believe in dialectical narratives either.

I think it's just one damn thing after another really, and any narrative you want to impose on it can be made to sound plausible. You might just as easily tell the story from the perspective of Islam, and call 9/11 one of the death throes of fundamental belief. Encompass the sweep of your narrative far enough forward or back (start and end points such as 1989 are, in fact, entirely arbitrary) and you can make anything work.

That said, (1) I support liberal democracy as objectively the best way of arranging things and I think it's worth fighting for, so I'm not a relativist or a (complete)grouch; and (2) I do enjoy narratives, even though i don't believe in them, and I enjoyed yours.

Gaw said...

Brit: It can't be one damn thing or another really as we persist in telling stories about how and why things happened. In fact, all we have are the stories - there are no free-floating events out there.

But what's important is distinguishing the plausible stories from the more unlikely ones. And why can't a dialectic not be plausible? Are they an historical impossibility?

Regarding end points and start points: they can't be arbitrary as they've been selected to fit in with the explanatory story.

Finally, this narrative isn't necessarily exclusive. The Islamist narrative you relate could easily co-exist with it.

worm said...

I think that if the banks had really gone tits up last year there might have been a more profound change in day to day life, leading to some revolutionary things.

Brit said...

The problem is this Gaw: you read one story and it all seems pretty plausible. You read a precisely opposed story and it all seems pretty plausible.

Gaw said...

Worm: I agree about last year. But the outcome of what I describe needn't be catastrophic, just a hollowing out of liberal democracy, a bit more regulation, repression and authoritarianism. We're actually already getting it, in fact.

Brit: Come off it old chap! Your proposition is that you lack judgement? I refute it thus.

You're probably just exhausted from getting all down and dirty with the anti-Darwinians.

Anonymous said...

I would say that the likely next step is back to Realpolitik.

We retreat from liberal interventionism to raison d'etat and balance of powers.

You can see it happening already in Afghanistan, with our ambitions being gradually downgraded from "nice liberal democracy with educated women" to "country with some semblance of elections" to "functioning state that can control its borders and doesn't pull down states next to it."

Trouble with this is that we have all come to accept a lot of the liberal assumptions underpinning the interventions, even if not all of the interventions themselves:

Ie: -- that failed states cause trouble for the rest of us

-- that functioning law-governed democracies tend not to go to war with one another

-- that "non-state" actors eg AQ are as much of a problem as evil empires, if not more so.

It's all embodied in the question of what the "international community" can do about Pakistan, if anything.

Brit said...

I appreciate the compliment, Gaw, but it is undeserved. I have a certain facility for pointing out why things are incorrect, or nonsensical or wrong. I have no idea what is correct.

Gaw said...

For future reference, it's that bit in between all the incorrect, nonsensical and wrong bits.

James Schneider said...

You're certainly right about overstretch and our current inability to define things politically. What follows is difficult to say. Plenty of people I know are talking about "walled worlds", and postdemocracy as if they are a certainty. I think there is also a tremendous opportunity in all this. If only we could see the wood from the trees more clearly.

worm said...

I see an opportunity for me to become the illustrious leader of this new world order you speak of

Gaw said...

Nonie Mouse: My guess is that you are well-versed in international relations theory. Despite this I think I agree with you.

James: There probably are opportunities but I'm not sure for whom. Right now I'd say what we face are risks and one way of managing them is to try to locate ourselves in the narrative.

(This is why Brit's approach is incorrect: if you don't write, or consciously decide on, your own plausible narrative you'll fall into one unawares, one which may well make little sense. BTW in actual fact Brit doesn't actually do this.)

For instance, there's been a lot of commentary on Afghanistan this week and yet I haven't heard anyone mention that our psychological approach to Afghanistan has been profoundly shaped by our experience in Iraq. We need to be a bit more self-aware, try to sort out the gut feel from the reasoned response (by the way, to do this as a country we need good political leadership...)

Worm: Yes, indeed, that's usually how all the bad stuff starts...

James Schneider said...

Gaw. I think you're right about the need to symbolize what is going on, which means placing ourselves to a certain extent within a narrative.

I really like you psychological emphasis in the Afghan war. I think that analysis is spot on.

Vern said...

Er... a bit off topic, but is anyone else a bit worried about elberry? Or should I be wary of reading too much into his latest posts?

Gaw said...

Vern, I also worry about Elberry but have concluded there's nothing I can do.

Brit said...

Re: Elberry - me too.

Recusant said...

Re: Elberry, I contemplated the idea of getting in touch with his erstwhile employers and checking on him that way, until I realised the stupidity of it.

Anyway, Elberry being Elberry is probably, in his Gothic way, laughing at our timid concern for his welfare.

Vern said...

I have a few contacts in the EFL world and would be willing to put him in touch with them. I think he made a large error taking a job in Kiel from a non-affiliated school where he was obviously given neither training nor support. They treated him shamefully. But like the rest of you, I suspect he wouldn't take the help if offered. Still if you're out there elberry, I might be able to help.

Gaw said...

Vern, contact me at the gawragbag (at) gmail (dot) com address as I've been in touch with him.

Hey Skipper said...

Francis Fukuyama perceived the End of History, declaring liberal democracy the final form of human government

He was right. That is where history ends, and the direction is already clear.

His assertion was that liberal democracies do all manner of things better than all other known forms of government. Consequently, a world consisting entirely of liberal democracies is where history will end up.

We clearly haven't reached that end point yet, but the direction is hard to argue.

The tide then turned (3) as it became clear that the neo-conservatives had overreached. A naive, universalising belief that people are 'naturally' liberal democrats - whoever they happen to be and wherever they happen to live - led to post-war disaster in Iraq, in the form of civil conflict and anarchy.

A great many people, not just neo-conservatives, made the mistake of assuming a grateful transition from tyranny to civil society.

An understandable mistake, given what (didn't) happen after the fall of communism.

Also, I think you make the mistake of attributing to Operation Iraqi Freedom what was going to ultimately happen anyway.

The last stage is that of crisis and official reaction and repression. Further reverses may seal the fate of liberal democracy, at least in its immediate post-revolutionary incarnation. Evident failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with a continuance of financial, economic and fiscal crises or some form of vindication of environmentalist predictions, would result in a potentially lethal crisis of confidence.

You were alive in the 70s, weren't you?

----

There are two revolutions you didn't but should have, considered.

The Industrial Revolution, and the Information Revolution.

The first was revolutionary, and didn't come close to adhering to the historical pattern.

The second won't, either.

----

Anonymous makes a great deal of sense.

Gaw said...

Skipper: A world of liberal democracies would be rational and eventually it may come to pass, at least in lots of different local varieties. But the sort of rationality required to make this happen isn't universal or even inevitable, and it may never be.

I think the overwhelming majority assumed a peaceful transition to civil society in post-war Iraq would be very difficult and require a lot of support. This was certainly true over here. The comparison with post-communist Eastern Europe was totally inappropriate and the fact that it was presented as a model revealed the deep ignorance which underlay the post-war planning effort, if such a thing could even be said to exist.

The belief that things would turn out all right was based on a naive faith in an ideology.

I was alive in the 1970s but as a child. I agree the final stage as outlined is an over-egging of the pudding from today's perspective but it's deliberate as it follows the logic of the thought experiment. I just think it's worth thinking through for precautionary reasons.

I'm just referring here to political revolutions.

Vern said...

Just dropped you a line.

Hey Skipper said...

Gaw:

Political revolutions are not the only ones that matter.

Also, it occurred to me that (1) The old order is overthrown is wrong, because the order that was overthrown, and the "revolutionaries" occur at entirely different times.

The "revolutionaries" were really Adam Smith and Ricardo; the success -- dimmed during the 1930s -- was well and truly underway at the time of the Russian Revolution.

So communism was not an old order overthrown; rather, it was a diversion, which went into precisely the ditch predicted for it.

(3) An inability to achieve stated goals engenders a loss of confidence in the revolutionaries ...

At least 500 million people lifted from poverty since 1989.

----

(BTW, on a separate thread, you badly misread Harry.)

Gaw said...

Skip: I agree but I restricted myself to political revolutions or my post would have been totally out of control!

Re there being successive revolutions, one breaking upon another, I think your point is well-made. And actually rather Hegelian in a Fukuyama sort of way.

My point about 'loss of confidence' isn't to suggest it's deserved. But I do think it's being felt, in the more circumspect approach we're seeing towards Afghanistan, for instance.

If you like, the thought experiment is there to provide some perspective on where we are. I think we have to be wary of a loss of will, as it may be a product of how the 'revolution' is unfolding and the psychology that is thereby created rather than something that is objectively justified.

Harry, mis-read? GIven I was one of three, I think we're talking about mis-written.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry, mis-read? GIven I was one of three, I think we're talking about mis-written.

All three of you leapt to a conclusion the sentence simply does not bear.

I am disinclined to take moral advice from people with no skin in the game.

In this sentence "people" can only refer to those giving moral advice who also have no skin in the game.

His assertion, at the level of obvious meaning, is that people such as you, Brit, Appleyard, etc, are people whose moral advice is likely to be suspect because they have no investment in the consequences.

At the level of non-obvious meaning, he is also saying that should your skin somehow get in the game, your coercion threshold might very well change, which would make your previous moral advice suspect.

I am still mystified how three of you got it so wrong. Unless I am missing something -- I'm happy to be set straight here -- the sentence can't possibly mean what you assumed it does.

In that case, you might just owe Harry an apology.

BTW -- since this is so way OT, I won't be the least bothered if you delete it.

Hey Skipper said...

If you like, the thought experiment is there to provide some perspective on where we are.

Just to be clear, I like the thought experiment.

I don't think we are living through a revolution. 1989 was the beginning of the end of the collapse for one kind of totalitarianism.

I predict that within 10 years, probably 5, this particular financial panic will have receded, the Iranian theocracy will have crumbled, and the Arctic will have declined to melt.

People a generation hence will see this period as momentous, but not revolutionary.

Except, that is, for the intertubes.

Gaw said...

Skip at 23.09: Your and my reading of this is so far apart you've actually made me laugh. A good note from which to move on, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Gaw said...

Skip at 23.20: I also tend to be optimistic but only after I've run through most of what might go wrong.

Hey Skipper said...

Gaw:

That doesn't wash. I don't see how you can parse that sentence to get anywhere close to your interpretation.

Unless, using word meaning, sentence structure, and context, there is a meaning for "people" that is other than what I have presented, I'd love to hear it.

If you can't -- and that is my prediction -- then your reading is wrong, pure and simple.

That happens, I've done it plenty myself.

I don't see where misreading someone, then insulting them based upon that misreading, is a laughing matter.

Gaw said...

Skip: I've moved on, I'm afraid.

Hey Skipper said...

How convenient.

Brit said...

We all need to move on don't we Skipper? You're torturing yourself over this one, constantly banging on the same point over and over - but what conclusion do you have in mind? Do you expect us all to suddenly see the light and prostrate ourselves before you "Oh you win, you win."

Ok, if it will help you get over it, you win, you win.


Your justification of Harry's latest poison might be plausible if it didn't follow this line, which is the one I objected to:

Canada and Britain have been pimples on a gnat's ass as far as help so far. Losing either or both would not be noticed.

The guy is a bore. Lives in paradise and spends his life hating on the internet. I'm not interested in his blatherings any more.

Hey Skipper said...

Canada and Britain have been pimples on a gnat's ass ...

I have to admit, I scanned over that line. And I also have to admit, I don't like it any more than you.

Ok, if it will help you get over it, you win, you win.

Gee, thanks Brit. I'm banging on about it because I think it is pretty important to get right.

But, hey, its only morals and war, so no big deal.

My bad.

Brit said...

Why can't you just accept that we see it differently, Skipper? It isn't reasonable to go on and on and on and on.

If we're wrong, we're wrong; if you're wrong, you're wrong. Quite possibly we're all a bit wrong and a bit right because it is a tricky area.

Hey Skipper said...

Why can't you just accept that we see it differently, Skipper?

I could, except what I see is a position without a stand. After all this typing, your position leaves all these fundamental questions unanswered:

-- Why, a priori, is one particular act of war to be elevated above others?

-- What degree of coercion are you willing to impose in order to obtain information?

-- What cost are you willing to pay to not have that information?

-- How is it more moral to pursue a war at greater cost?

In last week's Economist, I read learned that in August Saudi officials arrested 44 suspected jihadists. "Earlier this month, Saudi authorities said interrogations of the jihadist suspects led to an arms cache containing 281 AK-47 rifles and 41,000 rounds of ammunition."

I'm assuming something more rigorous than twenty questions was involved.

So, please tell me: how much coercion are you willing to apply, and provided that coercion is not sufficient to get the information, what price are you willing to pay to not have it?

Last week we "discovered" 500,000 pounds of bomb making materials and 15 associated people in Afghanistan. You are President Obama. What is your guidance to our troops and the CIA?

Gaw said...

I note that on the other thread you misrepresent my argument, which you have done since the start of this debate. I argue that torture should remain illegal not that it's morally wrong everywhere and at all times.

You don't appear to recognise this distinction for reasons that are obscure to me.

You provide four fundamental questions that you believe remain unanswered. They don't. We just haven't provided the same answers as you. I will restate them one last time.

- With regard to the first and last of your questions:

I don't think torture is elevated above other acts of war. As was stated by Bunny on the very first thread on this topic months ago we have prohibitions on plenty of other acts of war, all of which might be presented as furthering our cause in some hypothetical context. Your economy of force argument is highly subjective and open to very wide interpretations.

It's moral to wage war at greater cost because morality isn't a function of efficiency. As noted above there are lots of things we could do, which might have some tactical justification, but which we don't.

Your middle two questions are irrelevant when the proposition is that torture is illegal.

Reasoning, definitions and remedies regarding torture are provided by statute and case law, not just international but national too.

You may not like this and you may, rather weirdly, describe it as amoral or immoral (to taste) but it's the conclusion Western societies have come to and maintained since the 18th century at least. Generals, jurists, legislators, soldiers, policemen, etc have all been bound by it.

The rationale for this prohibition doesn't need restating again - see the various anti-torture posts or look it up on Wikipedia. Just one point here though: setting aside the moral arguments, don't you think all the hard-bitten men who've adhered to the law over the centuries recognised that torture was illegal not just because it was wrong but also because it was ineffective? I mean ineffective in its broadest application. A war fought on your basis will not be supported.

All the above has been put to you many, many times but you refuse to recognise it. 'It' being not just my arguments but a whole tradition of Western thought and practice.

As I said above your reasons are obscure. It may be that you don't understand the argument. It may be that you're an intolerant absolutist and, whilst understanding the argument, persist in ignoring it as you somehow think you're going to be able to force us to accept your position. Either way, it's not a very productive way to conduct a debate.

If it's the latter explanation, I'd go as far to say that you've adopted a mode of argument that's antithetical to pluralism and democracy. It also lacks fundamental attributes of the conservatism I believe you espouse. You exhibit a staggering lack of humility before what is a rather noble and well-established moral tradition. But that approach appears to be one that's increasingly common amongst the American right today.

Hey Skipper said...

Gaw:

I have posted my reply at TDD -- as soon as I can get out from behind the Great Firewall of China; if I am going to spew forth a word wall, I don't need to be nailing it up here.

Since I don't bring it up much, there is no need for you to be aware of my background. I have an undergraduate degree in international relations. I spent twenty years in the military. I have been in combat, and sent people into combat. I have spent time at the Pentagon, not entirely without consequence. It is safe to say I have a certain degree of expertise in this area.

Ordinarily, I would never bring this up. Expertise, no matter how thorough, not only risks trying to impress by authority, it is also no guarantee of correctness.

The reason I mention it here is that, frankly, I do not appreciate your condescension. I have, in fact, managed to take on board that Obama is the commander in chief. When I resist the blandishments of your argument, there is at least a possibility that, rather than being thick as a brick, I find it to suffer various combinations of being conceptually lacking and factually flawed, and that, as a consequence, it puts the people who are fighting for us into an impossible bind.

There is also the likelihood, no matter how faint, that my mode of argument, since it has nothing to do with pluralism or democracy, cannot be antithetical to it. (Speaking of which -- ask 100 people at random if they mind whether jihadists lose a bunch of sleep so that fewer of their boys in Afghanistan get blown up. Having done that, then we can talk about democracy and pluralism.)

So I might be a blinkered authoritarian torment loving fool. But given my background, that perhaps should not be your first conclusion.

Gaw said...

Your background is interesting to know but doesn't impinge on my attitude to your argument. I may come across as condescending. I have certainly intended to come across as disdainful and that's because I'm sick of being asked the same questions again and again.

I also object to repeatedly being accused of immorality (along with most of modern Western civilisation). This is condescending nonsense if ever I've heard it, the height of arrogance, and it's nonsense that you started retailing in aggressive fashion early on.

As far as I'm concerned I've provided answers. If you're telling me you've understood these then why do you keep asking these questions? Your argument hasn't moved on. I'm still satisfied with mine.

To keep asking the same questions of me shows a lack of respect for my position and what seems to me to be a desire to remorselessly bludgeon your opponent into submission. This, I think, betrays an absolutist cast of mind. I also think your 'refining speculation', even if it is the product of lots of education, is foolish.

Brit said...

If a man goes to a boxing club and steps in the ring you have every right to aim punches at him. You don't follow him home and continue to clobber him when he's settled down to watch TV. As much as anything else, it's bad manners.

Skipper, your method is bordering on insulting me. Do you think I'm a bloody fool? I have read your position, I gave mine, and when you demanded that I answer your now rather over-familiar set of questions for about the 87th time I explained that I could only refer you to my original post, the whole point of which is to show that I approach the problem differently. Your questions are irrelevant to my position. If you took some time to think about why I answered you like that, instead of just clobbering away again, you wouldn't need to demand it an 88th time.

If it was anyone else doing this, I'd tell them to go boil their head. Since it's you, I'll answer your bloody questions once only, and then ne'er shall i speak of this again.

Why, a priori, is one particular act of war to be elevated above others?

I'm a Burkean conservative perfect-is-enemy-of-good pragmatist who thinks that consistency is a greatly overrated virtue. When someone insists that an argument must be settled a priori before a policy can be established, I reach for my revolver.

If you don't get that approach, which it appears you don't, have the sense to leave it there. If you do get it but don't agree with it, have the decency to agree to disagree.

What degree of coercion are you willing to impose in order to obtain information? What cost are you willing to pay to not have that information? How is it more moral to pursue a war at greater cost?

In the right hypthothetical circumstances, I might do anything, including waterboarding, ball-slicing, murder, theft etc.

My position is that that is beside the point, because you cannot legislate for every hypthothetical, and you can't legislate by defining what is and what isn't torture without opening a massive slippery slope. That we will turn a blind eye, that we will mitigate because some 'torture' is 'not that bad' or was considered necessary is inevitable. But that can't amount to an official position. The official position has to be: we don't do this. You want life to be easy?

That's your lot. If you don't get it, think about it til you do. If you do get and don't agree with it, fine, there's an end to the matter. But do not, I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, demand that I answer your goddamn questions for the 89th time.

Hey Skipper said...

Gaw:

I also object to repeatedly being accused of immorality (along with most of modern Western civilisation).

I apologize if I typed, or implied, that you are immoral.

What I meant, instead, is that the position does not, like pacifism, necessarily result in the moral outcome it professes, and may well (unintentionally) encourage precisely the opposite, and that we cannot proceed as if that possibility does not exist.

Now I may flatter myself unduly, but I think I write pretty clearly, and get across what I mean to say. On reflection, and checking the dictionary, I can't think of what word I needed to use, and which sentence I needed to use it in, but amoral/immoral was very much not it.

So while it wasn't my intent to accuse you of immorality, my writing left you no alternative but to arrive at that conclusion.

I'm sorry, I was wrong.

If a man goes to a boxing club and steps in the ring you have every right to aim punches at him. You don't follow him home and continue to clobber him when he's settled down to watch TV. As much as anything else, it's bad manners.

Make that two apologies in one post. Had Harry not tossed a bomb in the middle of things, I wouldn't have.

Skipper, your method is bordering on insulting me. Do you think I'm a bloody fool?

Absolutely not. And I'm not discounting the possibility that I might be a fool; since I managed to piss you off, I'm taking that possibility very seriously.

As well as the very real likelihood that, having been on the road nearly continuously for three weeks now, I have too much time on my hands.

Gaw said...

That's tremendously generous of you, Skipper. Thank you very much indeed - it's more than I deserve, I'm sure.

Brit said...

Well said, Skipper, that was admirable - pity there aren't more like you. Thing is, I don't think you are even wrong, really. If one approaches the problem from your angle instead of mine, everything you say makes sense. I was a bit pissed off; I'm not now, no need to dwell on it.