Human Rights, Blah Blah Blah

Of the war on terror, Christopher Hitchens once said:

I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost.

Now comes Bernard-Henri Lévy, who, when asked by Jon Lee Anderson why he supported the intervention in Libya, says:

Why? I don’t know! Of course, it was human rights, for a massacre to be prevented, and blah blah blah…

Never underestimate the murder men will commit, the mayhem they will make, just to escape their boredom. But every enthusiasm has a shelf life. Even imperialism.


  1. John Maher February 19, 2015 at 10:13 pm | #

    Dieu et droit!

  2. BillR February 19, 2015 at 10:32 pm | #

    BHL is so beyond shame that he’s now made peace with living out his identity as an “openly” intellectual fraud:

    Levy has made a career out of injecting himself into debates he shouldn’t have anything to do with, a common trait of narcissistic self promoters who make money from their ‘enlightened’ ideas. Levy is France’s version of Christopher Hitchens–a man concerned only with himself and his relevance to society, who will defend the indefensible for the sake of self promotion and disguise his intellectual vacuity behind bravado and insatiable snobbery.

    Speaking of latter, came across a piece on the British poseur last week that might be of interest:

    …[I]t was Chomsky who would write that Hitchens could not possibly believe what he was writing. This seemed to really get under Hitchens’s skin. And over the years, it proved a powerful insight. Hitchens himself in his final months would say that if he were to embrace religion in his final days that he’d hoped people wouldn’t take it seriously, since it wouldn’t really be “him.” It seemed an incredible thing to say, to forestall one’s own betrayal of one’s alleged principles. But, as Chomsky discerned, Hitchens had in effect been down that road and could not actually believe things he was saying…In Hitchens’s comments after 9/11, there was a sense of a calculation, that the anti-jihadi wave would ride him out through the rest of his career. But, with his backing the Iraq war, this seemed something of a miscalculation. Media critic Norman Solomon noted in 2007 that Hitchens was eager to change the subject from Iraq, to well, anything, so the atheism mantra assumed center stage.

    P.S. “openly” here is being used in the sense that George Carlin used that term:

  3. Segundo February 19, 2015 at 10:43 pm | #

    Hitchens wasn’t saying he supported it because he was bored, he was saying it was such a worthy cause that he would never tire of supporting it. Learn to read.

  4. Stephen Zielinski February 20, 2015 at 12:08 am | #

    War-making as an instance of the manic defense? Is this surprising? No. It’s unsurprising given the character of this defense maneuver.

  5. Roquentin February 20, 2015 at 9:46 am | #

    Adam Curtis talks about this idea a lot in his documentaries. The most recent one about Afghanistan, Bitter Lake, used it as a sort of mirror to show the political changes in the empires of the west. It was bitterly ironic that the Soviets were as desperate to prove their system worked as we were to prove our neoliberal model did. Particularly though, it was documentary The Trap, which focused on the need to use foreign nations as test labs for the political ideology they couldn’t implement at home.

    They have pretensions to being scientific, so the logic is that if they somehow remove the other variables their experiments will work. They never do of course, because the ideology always was the problem…at home as well as abroad.

  6. Glenn February 20, 2015 at 12:29 pm | #

    The mind abhors the killing of people because everyone knows people.

    Killing millions, however, is a matter of indifference because no one knows millions.

    • Stephen Zielinski February 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm | #

      Massive slaughter is incomprehensible unless one a victim or perpetrator. The horror then becomes part of the personal experience of the participant-observer. But even that experience fails to encompass the greater catastrophe. These experiences stand as a sign does to its referent, which remains transcendent with respect to the sign.

      Denial is not just a defense mechanism. Mastering it is an infinite task.

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