Thursday, September 4, 2014

Terror's Supply And Demand

- You have a new book.
- "Terror And Consent"*. The writer is a product of Yale, a Texan, the nephew of President Lyndon Johnson. He's worked in the administration of most recent presidents and teaches constitutional law. He's crazy.
- Everyone is crazy to you.
- As everyone is made crazy living a life focused on means and inattentive to ends.** But you decide. The 600 page book proposes there exists a "demand side" and "supply side" to terrorism. The demand side is the terrorist, insisting the U.S. not interfere in the Middle East. The supply side is the targets of attack the U.S. offers to terrorists. The nephew uses this language because he believes the "market state" has replaced in our times the "nation state". The nation state was about values, how life should be lived: forcefully as in Fascism, cooperatively as in Communism. The market state is however not about ends, but means. Free, voluntary choice, in buying and selling things. The reason we buy and sell is not part of the "constitution", the make-up of the state. It's left to the individual.
- I don't think anyone in the U.S. voluntarily wants to offer, "supply" targets of attack to terrorists. That is a little crazy.
- But look at it from the position of the presidential nephew. A market society is without purpose. It is only a mechanism, defined by law. In fact, the nephew defines terrorism as attacks on civilians for the sake of denying them the chance to live under rule of law. But laws have to be applied to particular situations, where several different laws can be seen to apply. For example, are corporations to be allowed to freely fund election campaigns of politicians and employ them when out of office? The U.S. Supreme Court says the laws about free speech apply, so corporations are allowed. Others would disagree, argue that laws against corruption of politicians apply. How decide?
- How?
- Unless you have an idea of how human beings should live best together, a kind of thinking which the nephew says has been left behind with the nation state, you can't. Or rather, in actual practice you let those with the most power and money, influence and connections decide. How can a state defined only by buying and selling things negotiate with terrorists? All we know about such a state is that it seeks to maximize the efficiency of buying and selling. So for the market state to get the better of their Caliphate seeking negotiation partners all we can say is they must offer less, and get more. Offer less targets, and get more safety from attack. The state can't even argue it is superior to the state terrorists wish to set up.
- The U.S. operates under rule of law, so is superior in that respect.
- A Caliphate operates under laws too.
- But the people subject to it don't agree to accept those laws. Not all of them.
- And does everyone subject to them agree to accept the laws of the market state? Would the people without property and employment left to die on the street in market societies accept the laws if they were aware of alternatives? The truth is we prefer our laws because they are better laws, better as defined by certain ways of life we prefer. But these preferred ends play no part in the market state constitution that only specifies the means of life, buying and selling.
- Then you would argue the United States is a terrorist state?
- The Presidential nephew defines terrorism as attacks against civilians intended to deprive them of the market state form of laws. The United States, to more efficiently buy and sell, as a market state definitely wants the opposite, to subject more people to market laws.
- Convenient. We can kill civilians for our laws but they can't kill civilians for theirs.
- History is on our side.
- I don't think the nephew wants you on his side. As he might put it, there's no demand for what you supply.
* Philip Bobbitt., Terror And Consent:The Wars for the Twenty-First Century, Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
** Capitalism & Compulsion
Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, Doing For The Sake Of Doing