Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sacrifice By Whom?

It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice,
there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings.
Where there's service, there is someone being served.
The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves
and masters, and intends to be the master.

Ayn Rand

Please keep this quote in mind everytime you listen to the dumbdumb-in-chief talk about America and the neo-con War on The World. Recycling the hollow jargon of so many prior speeches, the Emperor today spoke about the war, warning Americans that "Wars are not won without sacrifice, and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve."

The Emperor ended the cliche-ridden rant with this insult about the still-at-large Osama Bin Laden,
Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims what is good for them and what is not. And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride.

I can think of another man who grew up in wealth and privilege, who considers himself the expert on what is good for the poor and who has never offered to go along for the ride, to send his kids or his friends' kids for the ride or even attend the funerals of those who went on the ride because of their faith in him.

Freedom isn't free is the retort but, if that is true, who should foot the bill? According to the Republicans, it should be everyone but them. They should be the masters and everyone else the slaves.

If God is just, I tremble for my country.

Thomas Jefferson


At 8:57 PM, October 06, 2005 , Blogger chad said...

A brief comment on the word sacrifice

Bush says “wars are not won without sacrifice?” According to the Oxford English dictionary, a sacrifice is an act of giving something up one values for the sake of something that is of greater importance. Well that begs the question: what the hell are we sacrificing for? It does not take a genius to realize that this war is being fought to maintain the status quo.

Sacrifice can be very noble and courageous. A firefighter risking his life by rushing into a burning building to save a helpless child, for example.

Sacrifice can also be very wretched and cowardly. A drug-addicted mother pimping her own daughter to make money to support her habit, for instance.

I wonder what kind of sacrifice our noble president is referring to when he suggest America continue to sacrifice to maintain the status quo?

From a lamb on the altar,

“The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective it demands the sacrifice of the bravest and the most spotless.”
Mohandas Gandhi

At 10:42 AM, October 07, 2005 , Blogger mrsleep said...

The "Sacrifice" is paying more to gas up their Hummers.

You don't think those Cigar loving Neo-Cons are giving up on Cubans do you? Honoring U.S. laws, no that is too great a sacrifice.

II. Thought I would check in. I have been choosing to fight the fight on the front lines.

At 12:04 PM, October 07, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Chad -

Rand had a different definition of sacrifice that I prefer and definitely puts Bush's b.s. in greater perspective. She defined sacrifice as "the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or a nonvalue." The following example, similar to the firefighter example, explains why the definition is so important: If a man is passionately in love with his wife and spends his fortune to cure her of a disease, it is absurd to say that he has sacrificed. He has not. He has undertaken an action that, in the hierarchy of his values and given the options available to him, achieves that which is of greatest importance to him.

I did not sacrifice my career as a legal secretary because I incurred debt and spent three years in law school. That's not a sacrifice. It is something I wanted to do that was in line with my values. Most things worth having require effort. That effort cannot be mislabeled as "sacrifice" without turning the human race into a herd of sacrificial lambs.

MLK did not sacrifice his life for others. Malcolm X did not sacrifice. They acted in accordance with their values and their utmost integrity prevented them from being silent. Humanity likes to use the word sacrifice to make things sounds more noble than they are, but a fireman takes a job that gives him the thrill he seeks in life, the cop takes a job that presumably is in line with his belief in justice and the soldier gives his life to defend his country because he believes the safety of his country is a greater value than his personal well-being.

Mr. Sleep -

You have been fighting a good fight. Keep it up! :-)

At 2:20 PM, October 07, 2005 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

I think I would quibble with Rand's definition of terms. To say that a sacrifice only involves abandoning a greater value - one's own life, say - for a lesser value - that of another, as it were - presupposes that the self is always the highest value. I think any mother would disagree with that assertion. I'd also note that hierarchies of values tend to be in flux.

If you take out the quantifying criteria of lesser and greater, I'd define a sacrifice as surrendering one value for the protection or obtaining of another.

And with those wonky points having been made, yes, I'd like to see the sacrifice that Dear Leader himself is bringing. Shortened naps don't count, even if certain wingnuts would likely contest that point.

:-), StS

At 3:29 PM, October 07, 2005 , Blogger chad said...

Okay, if you redefine the word sacrifice to mean to give up something of great value for something of lesser value (i.e. to be swindled), then you have a different analysis. I assume you mean that America is sacrificing (spending money and lives to obtain something of little value). This definition requires knowing the value of things, but value is in the eye of the beholder.
In my eyes, the costs of this war are not worth maintaining the status quo of America as a geopolitical superpower with the underdeveloped (largely, non-white) nations of the world under firm control. So to me this war is a Randian sacrifice (i.e. a hustle).
However, Bush et al obviously believe this war is worth fighting. Therefore, Bush is not making a Randian sacrifice, because he believes the status quo is of greater value than the cost of war.
The problem with determining if something is a Randian sacrifice (i.e. an artifice), is that you need to establish the actual value of the things being traded, and sometimes no objective standard is present. Anyway, I think we are in agreement that this war is a Randian sacrifice, because I think we share values on war and the status quo.

Allow me, if you will, to revert back to the Oxford definition of sacrifice which is the act of giving something up one values for the sake of something that is of greater importance. Now, this type of sacrifice is very subjective too. Take the heroin addicted mother I discussed before, for example. To her, getting high is more important than her own daughter… To 99.9% of people, she is making a poor choice (i.e. a Randian sacrifice), but in her mind she is making an Oxfordian (yeah, I said it) sacrifice.
Using the examples you outline above, no one ever makes a Randian sacrifice intentionally. Everyone acts according to his or her values when it comes to sacrifice. MLK acted according to his values, Malcolm X acted according to his values, and the heroin addict acts according to hers. Whether or not the individual’s values are warped is subjective. Most would agree that the heroin addict has warped values. Most would agree that MLK had good values. Malcolm X’s values might generate a little debate, but that is moot, because they all acted according to their values which means they gave up something they value for something they deemed of greater importance (i.e. Oxfordian sacrifice).

The point I was making in my previous comment is that there are 2 types of motivation for sacrifice: 1) selfless sacrifice (i.e. noble) and 2) self-centered sacrifice (i.e. wretched).
I was merely pointing out that the sacrifice Bush is suggesting to maintain our status quo has a very self-centered motivation. It’s not motivated by world peace, justice for all, or “liberating” the Iraqi people. It’s motivated by a desire to maintain our position of power and prosperity even at the expense of others.

So, we have established two dimensions to sacrifice.
There is the selfless vs. self-centered dimension.
And there is the Randian vs. Oxfordian dimension (i.e. the rip-off vs. prudent trade dimension)
Ideally, one would like to make Oxfordian selfless sacrifices. What could be more beautiful than an altruistic and judicious exchange? Unfortunately, sometimes we act selfishly and we make self-centered choices. Or sometimes our assessment of the trade-off is flawed, and we get swindled. But nothing is more pathetic than making a self-centered Randian sacrifice. Nothing is more miserable than making an egocentric unwise choice. Nothing could be more rueful than engaging in a vain self-serving war to maintain a nefarious reprehensible status quo.

In other words (i.e. (id est: to clarify) that is to say),

"It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."
~Martin Luter King, Jr

At 9:10 PM, October 08, 2005 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Ok, you talked me into it, I'll try to post a more regular set posts.

At 8:23 AM, October 10, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Chad -

I think we are saying the same thing in different ways. I agree that Bush is undoubtedly demanding sacrifice in order to maintain the status quo of American hegemony. But people are giving it to him voluntarily. Randian definition or not, it makes me wonder - is it possible to live in a world where one group isn't being sacrificed to the avarice of another? Is it possible to live with each person's boundaries defined and enforced? Or will there always be sacrificial lambs, slaves and masters, if you will.

At 9:46 AM, October 10, 2005 , Blogger Possum said...

Yeowwwch! Nice word sting on pro-Bushies like myself.

You might agree that what takes away the sting is that W isn't promising paradise complete with virgins to any who die for the cause.

My questions back to you are what are the motives of the militant Islamics? What are their goals? What impact has the formation of democracy of Iraq had in the Middle East?

Who is fighting the democracy of Iraq, and who is supporting it?

Are we opressing peoples or are we enabling?

At 2:23 PM, October 10, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


Although it's not relevant to this post, I don't know what motivates all Islamic militants. I am sure it is a host of sentiments, from the historial lust for power, to feelings of minority oppression to outright religious lunacy. But that's beside the point.

With respect to "enabling" democracy in the Semitic World, that is a joke. It is not America's place to "enable" anything. This "white man's burden" "manifest destiny" view of Iraq ignores the history of the region.

The Semitic and Muslim Worlds have had many flirtations with democracy, many of which have been thwarted by US-backed tyrants. Rather than ramble for pages on end, I ask you read up on the U.S. support of the military dictatorship in Algeria that invalidated a democratic election and precipitated a 10-year civil war, the CIA-supported coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government in Iran in 1956, the US's undying support for Saudi Arabia - one of the most extremist of Islamic regimes (public beheadings every Friday). Musharraf of Pakistan is a favorite of the U.S. notwithstanding his coup that got rid of a democractic government that even had a female premier of an Islamic country.

You make it sound like the people of the Semitic and Muslim worlds have no idea about democracy and are just waiting for the US to come bomb the bejesus out of them to liberate them and that is simply not the case.

The US does not support democracy. It supports whoever is
economically convenient. That is why it supported Saddam for so long; that is why it supports Saudi Arabia; that is why it supported Bin Laden and the Taliban.

So, what exactly are the soldiers "sacrificing" for?

At 7:10 AM, October 12, 2005 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Classic end run. You talk about sacrifice, and you get a reply "but what about the Islamic insurgents?".

We talk about Bush, and they say "what about Clinton".

Sacrifice. Who is sacrificing? How about the reservists? How about the National guard. How about their families?

Our Presidents tells us lower our thermostat. If we had less food, he would say "eat less". The point being, is that he is talking to the have not's, and not the have's.

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