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Musings on the 2013 Boston Marathon Terror: a Post-mortem Analysis Musings on the 2013 Boston Marathon Terror: a Post-mortem Analysis
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2013-04-23 10:51:30
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“Place man in a completely deterministic universe and he will blow it up simply to prove that he is free”                       

                                                                                                              --Dostoyevsky

In the last few days we have been treated to a plethora of explanations, rationalizations, interpretations galore, for the horrible tragedy of the 2013 Boston marathon. The media is now in Monday morning quarterback mode. Some  of these reflections sound convincing, even inspiring, some sound naïve, proceeding from minds who, being ignorant of history, have reinvented the wheel and think they have made a great discovery. The ultimate results is that all the worst mistakes of history will end up being repeated.

And yet all that we need to do to begin to understand what has gone down at the 2013 Boston marathon is to ponder the above quoted statement by Dostoyevsky as exemplified some 150 years ago in two of his existentialist novels: Crime and Punishment and The Devils, sometimes translated as The Demons or The Possessed. Those two novels are prophetic in as much as they announce the coming nihilism of the 20th century, or what Dostoyevsky considers demonic ideas based not so much on the human condition but on a Machiavellian reality of power. Evil is defined as a passion for power and control with reason being the ruse to justify rebellion against existence since existence is meaningless. Most of the damage and destruction done in The Demons is carried out by what Dostoyevsky considers demonic ideas put forth by the philosopher and the intellectual of the novel, Stephen Trofinovich Verkhovensky. These demonic ideas as far as Dostoyevsky is concerned, take the form of empiricism, materialism, positivism, socialism, anarchism, nihilism, atheism. In those novels we observe young men who rebel against existence, against a condition into which they feel trapped and determined. They’d rather lash out with violence and destroy such kind of existence, and thereby assert their freedom, than resign themselves to acquiesce to it.

To come closer at home, the question arises: what motivates young men with a whole future before them to become radicalized and seek violent solutions? It is intriguing that one of the perpetrators of the Boston marathon bombing that has so far survived is a naturalized US citizen. We saw the same phenomenon in the London bombings a few years ago. Many of the youth that carried out that carnage were British citizens, some were even born in England but felt alienated from the mainstream society. They felt as if they were living in a parallel society. As expressed by one of the perpetrators: “I have no American friends, I don’t understand them.” So he joined the Jihad cause and its delusions and felt important; he now had a purpose for living and a target against which to vent his rage. In the process he radicalized his own younger brother.

Evil acts are justified by the ideological ends and the logic of violence. After all, a ration of 2 to hundreds and the paralyzing of a city for days with the consequent economic loss is a winning, not a losing situation for the Jihad movement. Could it be that one of the justifications for indiscriminate killing of innocent people is that those two young men felt that the US was doing the same thing by indiscriminate killing by drones of innocent people caught in the cross-fire?

We have heard precious little from the media on these crucial questions of the parallel society, they have not even been asked and one can safely predict that we will hear precious little in the future. The reason is not hard to find: to address the issue we’d have to muster enough courage to examine our own souls and address our own propensities toward violence as exemplified by our cult of the gun rationalized as a neutral innocent weapon of defense. Said to say, we live and have our being in a violent society promulgated by our own leaders as the recent refusal by the senate to respect the will of 90% of the people and institute a universal background check before the selling guns.

The other issue about which we will hear precious little from the ignorant media is that of civil liberties and privacy. There are now some 30 million cameras in public places in the US. The rationalization for them goes something like this: without those cameras we would never have caught the bombers of the Boston marathon. Never mind the invasion of privacy and civil liberties. Slowly but inexorably security is trumping freedom. When the process is concluded the enemy will have effectively won.

So, to defend democracy we proceed to destroy democracy. Big brother is constantly watching you, for your own good, of course. Have you heard many serene and well reasoned arguments on this issue lately? Chances are you have not and chances are you will not hear them. We are now busy celebrating our “victory” in the form of resilience and even defiance, by returning to normalcy and life as usual, awash in our guns which somehow don’t seem to protect us all that much from our own most violent instincts. First we encourage mass hysteria slanderously placing some innocent people on newspapers as suspects as was done by one of the New York newspapers, and then we report on mass hysteria. Ultimately we have a big party with jingoistic slogans oblivious of the dead and the hundred of wounded of the marathon. Indeed, we have found the enemy and it is us. But the debate goes on. As Lincoln advised a long time ago: the only way we win over our fears generating violence is to listen to the better angels of our nature. That time is now.

 


      
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Emanuel Paparella2013-04-23 12:17:22
A footnote if I may: yesterday the White House Press Secretary labeled Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a terrorist. It is interesting to note that James Eagen of the University of Colorado and company at Oikos university, Virginia Tech, Columbine, etc. were not labeled as terrorists and yet the actions they performed were just as heinous. They were labeled mentally unstable sociopaths or “crazy.” Thus we conveniently absolve ourselves for any complicity in the climate of violence awash in guns in which we live and have our being; for the violence, if any there is, is always the other’s, it comes from abroad or from those of us who embrace misguided terroristic ideologies, the other from whom we need to protect ourselves with guns, as the NRA is constantly reminding us.

To refuse to look inside and search our consciences for the creation of a violent society while effectively demonizing the other may ultimately mean that we are sick and don’t even know it. Such a sad condition, perhaps even more grievous than the actual violence, was defined by Kierkegaard as “the sickness unto death.” Here too there is no need to reinvent the wheel.


Publius2013-04-24 00:17:44
"...a winning, not a losing situation for the Jihad movement."

It sure was a victory for America's haters; one magnified by the apparent general consensus that there was no outlandish disproportion between two no-Rambo young men and thousands of robocops unleashed as if to face a whole army.


Emanuel Paparella2013-04-24 08:19:20
Mr. Publius, whomever you are, if there was a disproportion in what went down at the Boston marathon, it was that of hundreds of innocent people running and enjoying a marathon race and two vicious villains without a conscience who purposefully targeted them for misguided ideological reasons. The quote above, taken out of context, makes it appear that there were winners and a losers. Put back in its proper context the quote says that the only ones who think they have won something are the jihadists since the ratio is one killed to four killed and one wounded to hundreds of wounded. In reality there were no winners; in fact on the ethical field, the two greatest losers are the perpetrators of the carnage, not the innocent people who lost life and limb.


Publius2013-04-24 16:03:04
Mr. Paparella, whoever (not "whom") you are, contrary to your latest statement, in your article you wrote:

«After all, a ration of 2 to hundreds and the paralyzing of a city for days with the consequent economic loss is a winning, not a losing situation for the Jihad movement.»

Taking its bearings from your article, my earlier comment highlights the fact that if two no-Rambo-type youths alone were able to wreck havoc throughout a whole major American city--and not merely with their marathon bombing, as YOU pointed out as well--then Jihadists around the world must be regarding the situation as a great victory of their own.

I had further considered that for Americans not to recognize this dark side of the matter is for them to magnify the scope of their losses.

OBVIOUSLY, I never suggested the absurdity of Jihadists having won on a moral plane.


Emanuel Paparella2013-04-24 18:34:27
OBVIOUSLY, we still don’t know who you are (although I have an idea…) but obviously you have a penchant for correcting typos, which is not very surprising. When one cannot deal with the content one attacks the form and uses egregious ad hominem insinuations, thus deviating the discussion and obliterating any possibility of a serious dialogue... Alas, those sophistic tactics have been around since the time of Socrates.


Prof.Bob Griffin, PH.D.2013-04-24 19:06:46
Ancient Greek Saying:
"Whom the gods will destroy, they first make mad."(alt. "crazy")


Publius2013-04-24 23:48:34
"...a winning, not a losing situation for the Jihad movement."

It sure was a victory for America's haters; one magnified by the apparent general consensus that there was no outlandish disproportion between two no-Rambo young men and thousands of robocops unleashed as if to face a whole army.


Emanuel Paparella2013-04-25 10:39:37
Indeed Bob, Vico, in describing the demise of civilizations in his New Science writes that "at the end they go mad."


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