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Quote of the Day

October 18, 2009

The quote is from a statement made by Tony Benn, quoted in James G. Crossley’s Jesus in an Age of Terror (I should point out that Crossley neither endorses nor criticizes the statement):

[T]here’s no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber, both kill innocent people for political reasons.

I might amend this by saying that they’re not actually equal: stealth bombing kills more people than suicide bombing, is done without substantial risk to the bombers, and is usually employed in defense of the excesses of capitalism rather than in opposition to them.

carpet bombing

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009 4:36 am

    I can’t ever recall an incident of suicide bombing done in explicit opposition to capitalism. As far as I know, from the time suicide bombings were developed by the Indonesians fighting a nationalist war of independence post-ww2, it’s been used precisely for nationalist, and sometimes quasi-religious purposes. That’s been the case in Sri Lanka and the Arab world and usually the case in central Asia and the subcontinent. The groups that use suicide bombings are not anti-capitalist. Not Hamas, not Hezbollah, not the Tamil Tigers and sure as shit not al Qaida.

  2. October 19, 2009 5:59 am

    Yeah, who thinking about it for more than a few seconds would conclude a moral difference really.

    People don’t freak out about it because suicide bombing is morally worse, they freak out about it because there is nothing they care about enough to walk to their ceirtain death for and the fact that people who do care so much about something exists shakes the security of their individualistic worldview.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    October 19, 2009 7:44 am

    ibs: it was an overstatement, but I did say in opposition to the excesses of capitalism—i.e., al Qaeda readily acknowledges (and hates) America’s economic interests in the Middle East, right?

  4. October 19, 2009 10:25 am

    al Qaeda readily acknowledges (and hates) America’s economic interests in the Middle East, right?

    Their man beef is the befouling of the holy mosques (and the Ikea store as the Angry Arab always adds) by infidel soldiers and the propping up of impious regimes. They have no problem with capitalism, even if there are certain normative practices within contemporary capitalism they would seek to curtail, and, of course, they were allied with the USA in the fight against Godless communists.

    Opposing US American economic interests in their region doesn’t make al Qaida any more anti-capitalist than the fact that the US American Right opposes many of the Gulf sovereign wealth funds’ interests in the USA makes them anti-capitalist.

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    October 19, 2009 10:29 am

    Right, but I’m not saying they’re anti-capitalist! I’m saying that they’re resisting us, and we’re doing what we’re doing because of capitalism—so resisting America’s capitalist behavior IS resisting capitalism, even if they don’t think of it that way.

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    October 19, 2009 10:29 am

    I admit it’s a stretch …

  7. October 20, 2009 5:27 am

    It is a stretch, but the thing is that it is the precise argument that informs a good chunk of Marxist attitudes towards these issues, ‘specially here in the UK. It’s called “second campism”; a more politically sophisticated form of my enemy’s enemy is my ally or you get more complex lines like, well, no, of course we don’t supportNorth Korea/Iran/Zimbabwe, etc, but we’ll defendNorth Korea/Iran/Zimbabwe from the neo-imperialism of global capitalist. All sorts of dodgy politics comes about because of this position.

  8. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    October 20, 2009 7:51 am

    Fair enough. Good call.

    It’s so weird to hear someone say “Marxist attitudes.” I wouldn’t know what those were cause I don’t know any Marxists (in person, I mean)! The UK is a different place!

    Is second campism what these people call themselves, or is it a second order pejorative term applied to them?

  9. October 21, 2009 5:22 am

    I don’t know of people actively calling themselves ‘second campists’, but ‘third campism’ is an insult thrown around by ‘second campists’ to people who condemn, for example, US American imperialism, Zionism and Hamas. Or US American imperialism and the theocratic regime in Iran. Then it can sort of drift into semi-Stalinist arguments about refusing to defend Hamas being “objectively” the same as supporting Israel, etc. etc.

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