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divendres, 29 d’abril de 2016

La anomalía de la Barbarie

La civilización no es el punto final de la historia moderna, sino una sucesión de intervalos recurrentes en los espasmos de la barbarie
Civilization is not the endpoint of modern history, but a succession of interludes in recurring spasms of barbarism. The liberal civilization that has prevailed in some Western countries over the past few centuries emerged slowly and with difficulty against the background of a particular mix of traditions and institutions. Precarious wherever it has existed, it is a way of life that has no strong hold on humankind. For an older generation of liberal thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Isaiah Berlin, these were commonplaces. Today these truisms are forbidden truths, which can no longer be spoken or in many cases comprehended.

Liberal civilization is not the emerging meaning of the modern world but a historical singularity that is inherently fragile. This is why it is worth preserving. Defending this form of life against ISIS requires a clear perception that the jihadist group is not an atavistic force that—with a little assistance from intensified bombing—will fade away with advancing modernization. If the threat is to be removed, ISIS will have to be defeated and destroyed.

The simpleminded reasoning that rejects any Western military action on the grounds that earlier interventions were counterproductive fails to take the measure of the challenge that ISIS now poses. The Paris attacks, which appear to have been a response to defeats in the field, show that the state that ISIS has created cannot simply be contained. Nor would containment be enough in ethical terms, since ISIS has demonstrated a capacity for genocide. But the aim must not be to replace ISIS’s theocratic totalitarianism with a replica of liberal democracy—a delusional project that has unleashed the forces by which we are now besieged. A functioning state that enjoyed a reasonable measure of local support and could keep the peace would be a sufficiently challenging objective for Western policy. JOHN GRAY
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