Reading RURD -- Muslim & American discussion

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The Muslim World > Introduction--The Muslim World

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message 1: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 44 comments Introduction


message 2: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Weber | 16 comments Read this over the weekend. He makes some salient points about the need to better understand each other.

I didn't know much about the embassy bombings. Here is some stuff I read from wikipedia:
"The bombings are widely believed to have been revenge for American involvement in the extradition, and alleged torture, of four members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) who had been arrested in Albania for an alleged series of murders in Egypt in the two months prior to the attacks."

and then " Bin Laden initially said that the sites had been targeted because of the 'invasion' of Somalia; then he described an American plan to partition Sudan, which he said was hatched in the embassy in Nairobi. He also told his followers that the genocide in Rwanda had been planned inside the two American embassies." Wright concludes that bin Laden's actual goal was "to lure the United States into Afghanistan, which had long been called 'The Graveyard of Empires.'""


message 3: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 44 comments I'm off and running.

Maybe a personal convo=question to jump start whatever needs jump starting. Have you ever visited a predominately Muslim country? Or visited a Mosque?

I visited Jordan for a few days back in the '90s. Freaking lovely country. And sometime around that time I visited a large Mosque in Chicago, a very conservative Mosque in which we learned that pork does in fact contain worms and thus science proved the wisdom of the Quran. ; )

All kind of in the hazy past memory for me now.


message 4: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Weber | 16 comments I was about to say Singapore, but that just goes to show how ignorant I am (mostly Buddhist).
No, I do not believe I have been to a Muslim majority or Muslim run (wherein the government may be Muslim, while the population may be something else) country.


message 5: by Griffin (new)

Griffin Alexander | 5 comments I have never been to a Muslim-majority country, though I would love to go to Turkey/volunteer with the YPG.

As to this introduction though, I find it interesting that throughout RURD, Vollmann disavows the method which he meticulously pursues, e.g.,:
Was Osama in fact guilty of those bombings? You know as little as I. And this demonstrates another grave limitation of Rising Up and Rising Down's moral calculus: It is worthless to the extent that its determinations rely on disputed facts.


Further, in terms of parsing that which is justified, Vollmann writes:
Rising Up and Rising Down's moral calculus: An unjust means or an unjust end equally invalidates all derivative moral enactions.

The latter is a tautology if I have ever seen one, further reminding me of Bill's own strange morals related to Berkman's attempted assassination of Frick (i.e., that Frick deserved to be killed for what he did at the Homestead strike, but that Berkman was unjustified in trying to kill him—as such, Berkman deserved punishment, but that he did not deserve the punishment he was meted out by the 19th century American penal system).

My query is then: do the Studies In Consequences (Vols. V & VI) serve simply to place a moral grid on top of a swamp of the real (to borrow a historical example Bill cites from Soviet collectivization) to show how impossible any evaluation of justification is? Rereading "Let Me Know When You're Scared" again has me thinking that I misread it the first time: perhaps it's lack of action, of snipers who miss their one shot and disappear, is the anecdotal reveal of exactly this strangeness at acting morally in the world.

Though perhaps I am also just blowing philosophical hot air over here my keyboard.


message 6: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 44 comments Griffin wrote: "do the Studies In Consequences (Vols. V & VI) serve simply to place a moral grid on top of a swamp of the real (to borrow a historical example Bill cites from Soviet collectivization) to show how impossible any evaluation of justification is? "

I think that's the question that haunts RURD, especially as it is structured between the theoretical (I-IV) and the practical (V & VI). But I don't think the result is the impossibility of the judgement of justification. More, I think we could turn it around and look at the impossibility of acting without some thought towards justification. Like in The Old Man, Vollmann asks Amin the standard question, When do you think violence is justified? I think a large part of RURD is looking at the fact that all moral actors always act with some sense of justification in mind. Rather than the old method of working from principles down to actions, Vollmann wants to work from actions back up to principles, with the working assumption that actors always give some thought to what justifies their actions. And of course, we as readers and witnesses to actions, also always have to ask ourselves whether any given action and its purported justification is in fact justified/valid. The calculus works as an aid to our own practice as observers/judges as it does in hoping that actors (politicians, revolutions, etc) will give some thought to this kind of calculus.


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