September 1, 2020 Category: Religion

Postscript: “Deus Vult”

With the imprimatur of god, anythings goes.  Hence the utility of “Deus Vult” when seeking to give one’s agenda veneer of legitimacy. However, WITHIN a dogmatic system, NOT anything goes.  (One can select whatever one wishes to sanctify; but once the sanctification is done, the rules are set thenceforth.)  Indeed, adherents to this or that ideology are highly constrained by whatever the designated doctrine stipulates (pace the accepted scope of interpretation).  Possible exegetical leeway notwithstanding, though, proselytes believe that the content is ABSOLUTE, and so could not have been other than it is.

This assumption is so embedded that its existence AS an assumption is not even noticed.  Hence the decrees are taken as axiomatic; no further inquiry necessary.  After all, X can’t be sacrosanct if it is acknowledged as just an accident of history, or as the product of human contrivance. “Doing god’s work” (DGW) undergirds many pathologies; which qualifies it as a disorder. This warrants its categorization as a kind of syndrome; though one of a peculiar kind. For it is memetic in nature.

We might bear in mind that DGW syndrome is not in itself a guarantee that one will engage in malign behavior; for the nature of the impinging doctrine is relevant.  This is why, when Quakers or the Amish do everything they do because (they believe) “it is god’s will”, there is little worry about them engaging in hostile campaigns against those outside their circles.  Hence it is not Christianity PER SE that is the problem, it is a CERTAIN KIND of Christianity that is the problem (as with Roman Catholicism during the Middle Ages or the American brand of “Dominionism” of the present day).  In the same way, it is not Islam PER SE that is the problem, it is a CERTAIN KIND of Islam that is the problem (Salafism).  Likewise, it is not Judaism PER SE that is to blame for the conflict in Palestine, it is a CERTAIN KIND of Judaism that is the problem (Revisionist Zionism).  And so on.

Providentialism renders moral considerations null, as perspicacity is jettisoned in favor of fealty.  Divine ordinance, by simply being what it is, justifies itself.  It stands to reason, then, that everything is thereby framed in Manichean terms.  All are expected to adhere to the sacralized program in the name of “loyalty” and tribal “honor” (that is: for the glory of the anointed tribe).  To fail to toe the line is treason.  To countermand the prescribed pieties is blasphemy.  To question the program is heresy; an act that qualifies one as an “enemy”.

Such alterity can be conjured even when no salient demarcation exists.  Whether Tutsi vis a vis Hutu Rwandans…or Gheg vis a vis Tosk Albanians: same ethnicity, same religion, same language, same nationality.  No matter.  SOME kind of tribalism is contrived so as to vilify the other.

In the 1990’s, the Serbs, harking back to their glorious victory over the dastardly Turks in 1389, were hell-bent on reclaiming Kosovo.  Hence there was a fascistic Serbian regime (under Milosovic) pitted against an indigenous population vying for independence, whereby some resorted to terrorism–in the form of the Kosovar Liberation Army–in order to claim what they saw was theirs BY DIVINE RIGHT.

Such imbroglios become even more volatile with the noxious elixir of racial supremacy combined with claims of sacred ground (a tract of land to which the anointed race asserts god-given rights).  In sum: Racism begets counter-racism; and the conflict is given concrete terms when “blood and sand” is involved.

In the late 1940’s, the Revisionist Zionist terrorist organization was the “Irgun”.  Its primary adversary at the time was the BRITISH (as the British Mandate stood in the way of their designs on ethnic cleansing, and establishing a Judaic ethno-State).  Amongst myriad other murderous exploits, the Irgun bombed Jerusalem’s King David Hotel–killing scores of civilians, as well as numerous British officials.  Of the incident, the head of the Irgun (Menachem Begin) later stated: “Historically, we were not ‘terrorists’.  We were, strictly speaking, ANTI-terrorists.”  In other words, Revisionist Zionists could engage in terrorism with impunity because they were BY DEFINITION not terrorists.  They couldn’t be; because they were the good guys.  It was only THE OTHER that could be characterized in this mendacious manner.

Since those fateful days, there has been far more terrorism perpetrated by the Israeli government against Palestinian civilians than by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilians.  Nevertheless, many in Israel (as well as many in the U.S., due to the prevalence of Revisionist Zionist propaganda) are under the distinct impression that the opposite is true.  Mention the term “terrorist” with respect to Israel, and most people in these two nations will tend to think of militant Salafi fanatics (“jihadis”, likely affiliated with Hamas) rather than the far more egregious perpetrator of terrorism: the Israeli government.  (Hamas has committed a small fraction of the humanitarian atrocities that the Israeli government has committed.  To equate ALL Palestinians with Hamas stems from an urge to met out collective punishment–as if shared culpability stemmed from shared demography.)

When Martin Luther King Jr. led protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960’s, he was branded a subversive by the powers that be; NOT because he was doing anything ignoble, but because he was undermining the agenda of those in power; and bringing their official narrative (later dubbed the “Washington Consensus”) into question.

Make no mistake, there is objectively-definable probity vs. iniquity.  The “catch” is that these qualifications–insofar as they are objectively posited–do not necessarily accord with our own interests; are not reflected by prevailing social norms (conventional wisdom); and are not dictated by incumbent power structures.  Indeed, according to the deontic moral framework proposed by Kant, an act cannot be genuinely moral UNLESS it counters one’s own interests.  An act is genuinely moral only when it has no utility (or even negative utility).  As the adage goes: Principles only matter when it is inconvenient to stick to them.

Probity / iniquity transcends tribal affiliation; and so often does not comport with any given tribe-centric taxonomy, or accord with tribal interests.  The question becomes: Do we consider it “good” / “bad” as a function of our own interests; or do we align our interests according to what we find to be “good” / “bad”?  This is a tricky matter, as the former is often perceived as the latter.

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