t byfield on Wed, 2 Jun 1999 13:50:04 -0400

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Re: Syndicate: re: syndicate re: benson etc.

jtravis@cwcom.net (Wed 06/02/99 at 04:44 PM +0000):

> So, I agree and repeat that Milosevic's viscious ethnic 
> cleansing should be unreservedly condemned and that we 
> should not take sides between NATO and Milosevic as both 
> are evil and indeed it is questionable whether Milosevic 
> is being attacked as his political situation in Serbia 
> is now much improved but even if NATO did or could take 
> on Milosevic
> I would agree that any anti-war position should be accompanied 
> by a condemnation of Serbian army and paramilitary aggression
> (without demonising most Serb people who like others- race is 
> after all an artificial and nationalistic category- are exploited 
> and powerless).  


i don't mean to nitpick, but if you want to 'unreservedly
condemn' the milosevic regime's activities, then you must,
i think, admit that violence is a legitimate possible form
for that condemnation. but if you aren't willing to admit
that, then your condemnations are very reserved indeed.

this is not an issue of language: it's a fundamental issue
which (the left|progressives|alternative types) have very
studiously avoided facing. except, of course, for those 
intellectuals who've been roundly condemned for supporting 
NATO's war effort. 

to say this is not to endorse what NATO is doing, or any
of the violence that's going on, on any side. but it seems
to me that the basic question which everyone must answer
is this: Can violence be a legitimate recourse? once you've
answered that for yourself, *then* the question *might* be-
come: Did these circumstances merit the use of violence? 

i think the answers are, in order, yes and no. but to 
answer the second question that way invites yet another
question: *not* 'What should have been done?' because it
wasn't done--that's a question for the dreamy world of
what-if--but, rather, What should be done?

condemnations aren't enough now. i wish i knew what should
be done, but i don't. but it doesn't do much good to sit
on the moral high ground and stare at oneself in the mirror.
i'm not saying you're doing that, these remarks aren't in-
tended personally. but, in general, i'm very dismayed at
how many clever people seem to have failed so badly in 
asking these very basic questions. 

(sort of)
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