Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Noble Acts

Noam Chomsky on Noble acts. From an online video available at SEED.

In fact, you can see it very clearly by just comparing historical events that are similar They're never identical, but similar.

Take the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the US invasion of Iraq—just take those three. From the point of view of the people who perpetrated these acts, they were each a noble effort and done for the benefit of everyone—in fact the self-justifications are kind of similar. It almost translates. But we can't see it in ourselves; we can only see it in them, you know. Nobody doubts that the Russians committed aggression, that Saddam Hussein committed aggression, but with regard to ourselves it's impossible.

I've reviewed a lot of the literature on this, and it's close to universal. We just cannot adopt toward ourselves the same attitudes that we adopt easily and in fact, reflexively, when others commit crimes. No matter how strong the evidence.


The Noble Cause

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Stephen said...

A worthwhile post.

None of the three examples listed here involves Canada directly (with the possible exception of Iraq); if you had to pick an instance of Canadians' inability to adopt towards themselves the attitudes we apply to others, what would it be?

Keeping to the topic of aggressive war, it sometimes surprises me that a prominent public figure could 1) have openly endorsed the recent commission of that 'supreme international crime,' and 2) have defended the principle of such wars in a book on 'lesser evils,' and yet be considered a perfectly acceptable candidate for high public office, even praised by media, political and academic elites for his acumen in international affairs.

eugene plawiuk said...

Of course the situation of Afghanistan does directly apply to Canada. And I take it by your second point that you are refering to Liberal Leadership Canadidate Ignatieff, point made. How perseptive of you.