(October 20, 2003)
Regarding the Greens on Swans
To the Editor:
I appreciate what you are for but strongly believe that the Greens should not run campaigns for office. There are not enough of you and you help to throw the elections to the real Conservative Fascists in the GOP -- e.g., Clinton (who was not a liberal) and his handlers did not win against Bush I, Perot's third Party beat them. I suggest that you consider another approach. Organize and hold Conventions and invite the lead candidates to speak to your platform and tell your followers not to vote for them unless they sign a pledge. This is a very powerful way to in effect exercise a veto over every candidate that is against your values. I thought Camejo was great but he doesn't have a prayer, and he will help the Nazi in the race.
Anthony A. Verrengia, B/Gen USAF Ret.
Lago Vista, Texas, USA - October 6, 2003
Regarding Jon Phalen's Let's Step Out Of The Box For A Moment, Shall We? and Gilles d'Aymery's Conspiracy Caution (June 2002)
To the Editor:
I am a newcomer to the world of the internet and in particular to the universe of the so-called "conspiracy theorists." This is perhaps why I am reacting to a piece that is well over a year old. But I thought I had to put my two cents in and say what was on my mind.
First I wanted to propose that all thought is in a way "conspiracy." So you have, in fact, not in any way demeaned your publication by publishing an article that smacks of conspiracy theory. Please let me explain myself.
I find all systems of thought based ultimately on certain assumptions that have to be by nature taken for granted. In addition, as proved by Godel, no system of assertions is complete, in the sense that there will always be assertions within the system that cannot be proven, or disproved for that matter, within that system. This means that, not only we begin with unproven assumptions, the so-called axioms of a system, but also we ultimately run into other assertions that we cannot say anything about. This state of affairs remains despite all our attempts at employing reason, which I think is what we mean by being .rational.. The word "irrational" can only be applied to the process by which we arrive at conclusions and not at the conclusions themselves. All conclusions within a system of thought which are arrived at by correct application of logic are rational. If we argue with a conclusion, it is because we do not agree with the axioms, the assumptions underlying those conclusions. Logicians often amuse themselves by using correct logic to arrive at obviously false conclusions.
Now if we accept the above assertions, in gauging a system of thought for validity, we must first examine the process at which conclusions are arrived at within the system. If the process is logical, in the sense of correct application of logic, then we must turn to the basic assumptions underlying the system. These assumptions, the axioms, are always there, even though they may be hidden from view. Even mathematics, by some accounts the purest of all systems of thought, has certain axioms that have caused division in the ranks of mathematicians. Now assumptions are assumptions, and this cannot be argued. To gauge the validity of the axioms, we must exit the system and judge those on the basis of their plausibility, which is a value judgment. You may object that the assumptions can always be made into assertions within a larger system of thought and examined outside the original system. But due to the necessity for yet other axioms for the larger system, this will result in an unending regression into regions of thought that are ultimately unreachable merely due to the infinite time and energy necessary. So at some point we say "that is enough" and accept certain assertions as fact and proceed from there.
What I am arriving at is that any system of thought, being ultimately based on unproven assumptions, is a conspiracy, in the sense that the proponents of the system must agree to the basic unproven assumptions and arrive at conclusions on the basis of those. The conspiracy of science at the moment enjoys a dignity that the conspiracy of religions enjoyed at a different time during our history. We call methods of science rational, because they use reasoning to arrive at conclusions, not because the theories are not open to critical thinking. The history of science is as replete with recalcitrant scientists as any other system of thought. Everything, in other words, is theoretical in the sense that the explanations and further investigations depend on basic assumptions that are accepted by the majority of the practitioners of the system.
Conspiracy theories, as much as any other theory, are attempts at explaining observations. As any other theory, they begin with certain assumptions, which we may not agree with, and even if correct reasoning is applied, we will therefore, not agree with the conclusions. For an example, let us take the case of Mossad involvement in the September 11 events. Why do we find this so hard to believe? Is it because the assertion, "Mossad was involved in crashing planes into WTC and Pentagon," is irrational? Why is it irrational? Are we finding fault with the theorists' line of argument, or their basic assumptions? It cannot be that the arguments, the process of reasoning is faulty. The reasoning involves the same arguments as the orthodox view of Arab involvement. Both are based on circumstantial evidence. No one in fact observed the Arabs or the Mossad agents committing the horrible crime. But there is circumstantial evidence for both. So the problem must be with basic assumptions. Is it easier to assume that Arab terrorists committed this crime? Honestly, think about the fact that because of the very unkind media coverage of Arabs and Muslims it is much easier to assume that they were Arabs than Israelis. You may say that Arabs have a long history of terrorism. But so does Mossad. For entertainment, do a search on Mossad and see what you come up with. I do not want to bore you with all the sordid history behind this so-called "intelligence" body, but believe me, there is as much in the history of Mossad pointing to extra-judicial killings and false-flag operations as any other groups associated with other nationalities. Mossad is as likely to have committed these crimes for political advantage as any other secret organization. And after all, they were scattered in the same areas as the purported terrorists. And one thing Arabs do not have but Mossad does is connections in high levels of the US government.
Austin, Texas, USA - October 7, 2003
Regarding Iraq on Swans and all that we stand for...
To the Editor:
You guys need to go to the Middle East and see first hand how much those guys would love to kill you just because you let your wife go out in public un-cloaked. These people are animals, and therefore need to be killed....civilian or not. The women and children share the same views as the militant men, and will just as quickly take your life, if given the chance. I spent 2 years in Kabul, and in parts of Iraq, and the only mistake the U.S. made in the war was not killing the rest of them, all of them; just wanted to clear that up, you are obviously very misguided.
USA - October 9, 2003
Ed. These people are animals, and therefore need to be killed....civilian or not. . . . . What a deplorable and sickening comment! But it is also a very troubling and depressing comment that begs the question: what kind of a culture can possibly make a human being lose all sense of humanness? This is indeed a sad example of the sorry and debilitating state of our US culture in which hate is met with hate, force with force, death with death, and which leads us all slowly, ever so slowly, into inhumanity. (We asked Mr. Roberts for his hometown and state but he did not have the civility to answer our request.)
Regarding Stephen Gowans' Waist Deep In The Big Muddy, And The Big Fool Says To Press On (Sept. 2001) and Israel-Palestine on Swans
To the Editor:
First I'd like to praise Stephen Gowans for a very well-written "big muddy" article. I must say, I also had thought about that song as a poignant metaphor for what we've been going through as a nation. In fact, I can picture a great TV ad with that song in the background, listing many of the stupid things George W has done with our country (who could ever list them all?), "and the big fool says to push on."
One thing I do have to take issue with, and this is not Mr. Gowans in particular but seems to be prevalent throughout the political left here and in Europe, is that we lump the situation in Israel together with other situations that are very different, without really knowing or understanding the history of that conflict.
While certainly the leadership in Israel is far from innocent, and there may be some parallels with Turkey and Colombia, neither of those countries has endured fifty-five years of constant and real terrorist attacks from all of its neighbors. Not a single individual in Israel hasn't known a friend or acquaintance injured or killed by a suicide bomber who thought he was a "martyr." For fifty-five years the expressed purpose of the Palestinian leadership (as well as Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, etc.) has not been to obtain a state and live peacefully, but in their own words, to "drive the invaders into the ocean."
It does an injustice to those who do suffer unprovoked human rights violations to condemn Israel without condemning all the other countries and organizations who have driven many Israelis to believe there is no viable alternative to the use of force. Consider the situation in Kashmir, where Hindus in many areas have almost all been driven out by terrorist attacks in spite of goodwill on the part of many Muslim neighbors. Israelis don't have any place else to move to. I believe a great majority of them feel terribly about the treatment of many Palestinians, but they are not just fighting for land, they are fighting for their lives. I think it may have been Ambrose Bierce who first said that you're not paranoid if everyone really is out to get you.
Narberth, Pennsylvania, USA - October 17, 2003
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