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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'How to Win a Cosmic War' by Reza Aslan

In the essay "Movements and Campaigns," a tribute to the literary critic Irving Howe, the late philosopher Richard Rorty wrote that Howe's take on literary and artistic modernism was true of any political movement: "namely, that it 'must always struggle but never quite triumph, and then, after a time, must struggle in order not to triumph.' If the passion of the infinite were to triumph," Rorty explains, "it would betray itself by revealing itself to have been merely a passion for something finite." A "campaign," in contrast to a movement, makes explicit its limited aspirations. It is "something finite, something that can be recognized to have succeeded or to have, so far, failed."

Reza Aslan's "How to Win a Cosmic War" recognizes the struggle between Global Jihadism and the war on terror as an insolubly infinite one. He proposes, instead, that we'd be better off if we replaced the rhetoric of the absolute obligation, which characterizes movements, with the campaign's rhetoric of the finite aim.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

April 30, 2009 4:43 PM  

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