27 November 2009

Excerpts from Benedict Anderson, Gottfried Benn, and Bob Altemeyer

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I am spending it in Boulder, CO, one of the most beautiful cities in America.

From "Static Poems"

Deafness to imperatives
is profundity in the wise man,
children and grandchildren
don't bother him,
don't alarm him.

To represent a particular outlook,
to act,
to travel hither and yon
are all signs of a world
that doesn't see clearly.

--Gottfried Benn
(in Poetry, 11/09.)

Adult authoritarians tend to be highly ethnocentric and heavy users of the "consensual validation pill" (Newcomb, 1961). They travel in tight circles of like-minded people so much, they often think their views are commonly held in society, that they are the "Moral Majority" or the "Silent Majority." It has been hard to miss the evidence that certain kinds of religious training have sometimes helped produce their ethnocentrism and authoritarianism.

...(They) are scared. They see the world as a dangerous place, as society teeters on the brink of self-destruction from evil and violence. This fear appears to instigate aggression in them. Second, right-wing authoritarians tend to be highly self-righteous. They think themselves much more moral and upstanding than others - a self-perception considerably aided by self-deception, their religious training, and some very efficient guilt evaporators (such as going to confession). This self-righteousness disinhibits their aggressive impulses, and releases them to act out their fear-induced hostilities....

Bob Altemeyer
--"The Other 'Authoritarian Personality'"

07 November 2009

Two cents about COIN

My latest op-ed, "Two cents about COIN," appeared today on Antiwar.com. It discusses the the growing faith of U.S. political and military leaders in the military doctrine of COIN, or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency warfare.

You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below; if you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or linking to it on your blog. Thanks, as always, for reading.


Two Cents About COIN

Ryan McCarl

The war in Afghanistan, according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recent assessment, is "a situation that defies simple solutions or quick fixes. Success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign." McChrystal and other American leaders calling for a "surge" of additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan to mirror the alleged success of the "surge" in Iraq are voicing their belief that the doctrinal framework for the original surge – COIN, or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency warfare – is a widely-applicable tool in asymmetric warfare that the U.S. ought to employ in Afghanistan.

05 November 2009

A limited ecumenism

My latest op-ed, "A limited ecumenism," appeared today in Sightings, the newsletter of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School. It discusses the Catholic Church's recent outreach to traditionalist Anglicans. Sightings is a free online publication sent out twice a week to over 7,000 scholars, ministers, students, and others interested in the intersection of religion and public life; you can subscribe to it at the Sightings subscription page. Sightings is also online at http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publications/sightings/.

You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below. Thanks, as always, for reading.

A Limited Ecumenism

Ryan McCarl

As reported in Sightings last Monday, the Vatican announced two weeks ago that it was setting up a new canonical structure, or Apostolic Constitution, to facilitate the conversion of disaffected Anglican traditionalists to Catholicism; the converts will be able to “enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” in the Vatican’s words. Married former Anglican clergy will be allowed to become Catholic Priests, though not Bishops.