Saturday, March 4, 2006

“God” as the wisdom of crowds extrapolated to history

In an interview for TV today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said God and history would judge whether he was right to go to war in Iraq.

"In the end there is a judgment that, well, if I think if you have faith about these things then you realize that judgment is made by other people."

Asked what he meant, Blair added: "By other people, by, if you believe in God, it's made by God."

So, one might suppose ‘God’ means the wisdom of crowds, at the scale of history. But history’s scales are, of course, a technical matter: hermeneutics of historians—which considers objective consequences, like (in this case): Iraq succeeds in shaping a durable national unity government.

"The only way you can take a decision like that is to try to do the right thing, according to your conscience,….

So, we have here a fascinating issue of the moral nature of leadership: To what does the historical actor attune himself for guidance? Certainly not prayer (godforbid), considering the lives at stake.

“…and for the rest of it, you leave it to the judgment that history will make."

As if history itself has agency, making judgments.

Reg Keys, whose son was killed while serving in Iraq in 2003, told the BBC that Blair was seeking a religious justification for the Iraq war.

"I think religion has to be kept out of the Iraq conflict. Iraq is a catastrophic political blunder," said Keys, founder of campaign group Military Families Against The War.

Well, dear Mr. Keys is just wrong. Firstly, Blair’s respect for the ethos of his constituency (and his personal preferences on “faith”) is quite secularly leaning into anticipations of history’s judgment, not “God’s” (apart from this being a metaphor of the textual afterlife that history may grant to Earthly actions via our interest in remembrance) —a matter of conscience, not prayer.

Secondly, there's no evidence that Iraqis are rejecting the opportunity for good government by quarreling among themselves about a national unity government. The criminal "insurgency" just proves, horribly, what pathology Saddamic Baathism sustained (and the spread of such criminality into sectarian terrorism expresses an return of The Repressed history of unresolved conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ies, like a Jungian Collective Unconscious cathected through distributed tribal regression.

[My comments are based on a Reuters story today, from which I have quoted.]