Sunday, May 15, 2011
Usama, Stories & Alasdair MacIntyre
So here is Ahmadinezhad peddling his own version of the events leading to the demise of Usama. And a short article dealing with assorted conspiracy theories centering on the execution of Usama by a team of Navy Seals.
I hadn’t been too terribly pleased myself with the way we have been given tidbits of often contradictory accounts of the events surrounding Usama’s final moments. Then my sister sent me the (1st funny) pic which got me thinking along a different line entirely.
This event has had various factions within the American Gov. spending a long time thinking and planning over. So it makes no sense to accuse them of incompetence or lying or spreading disinformation. I mean, where does that get any of us?
After all, high powered folk in the business of “strategic communication” have had a job to perform and let us agree that they do their best under the circumstances. The best and the brightest in action strategically communicating, which is to say, pitching a story.
In today’s serious parlance, a narrative is taking shape and the picture of a vain Usama watching himself on a t.v. is a small part of an ongoing ( terribly expensive) effort. But what could it be?
There is “something” Arendtesque about the above image and some of the other information we have been given so far.
The extended excerpt is from ROBERT FINE’s HANNAH ARENDT: POLITICS AND UNDERSTANDING AFTER THE HOLOCAUST (PDF)
I am inclined to read the following as a part of the emerging narrative:
Karl Jaspers highlighted the risk involved in the use of this term ‘radical evil’ in his correspondence with Arendt after the war. Jaspers argued that it might endow the perpetrators with what he called a ‘streak of satanic greatness’ and mystify them and their deeds in ‘myth and legend’. It was against this danger that Jaspers emphasised the prosaic triviality’ of the perpetrators and coined the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ to bring this to the surface. He argued, for instance, that the great advantage of treating the perpetrators as ‘mere criminals’ was to present them ‘in their total banality’. Arendt immediately expressed her agreement in principle and acknowledged that in her own use of the term she was coming too close to ‘mythologising the horrible’. No longer mindful of its original source she only introduced the term ‘banality of evil’ in her writings at the time of the Eichmann trial, to face up to the fact that the perpetrators were ‘men like ourselves’ who demonstrated what terrible deeds ‘ordinary men’ are capable of. It was a rejoinder to conventional images of the ‘Nazi monster’ that had nothing to do with ‘men like ourselves’ and which painted the world in terms of a dichotomy between our own absolute innocence and the unspeakable Nazi beast. What she took from the Eichmann case was that the perpetrators of the most radical evil could be rather
pedestrian, bourgeois individuals, rooted in an everydayness that made them incapable of critical reflection or serious moral judgement, marked more by ‘thoughtlessness’ and ‘remoteness from reality’ than by any streak of Satanic greatness.... The mark of his character was sheer ‘thoughtlessness’ and it was this which predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of the modern age. The lesson Arendt took from Jerusalem was that ‘such remoteness from reality and such thoughtlessness can wreak more havoc than all the evil instincts taken together’, and that we have to come to terms with the fact that the man responsible for the execution of the Holocaust was terrifyingly normal: ‘the deeds were monstrous but the doer … was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous’.
What of MacIntyre you might ask? Chapter 15 of After Virtue might offer us some clue to the thinking of another faction. But that’s best left for another post.