Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Peter Amato - "Crisis, Terror, and Tyranny"

Peter Amato's "Crisis, Terror, and Tyranny: On the anti-democratic logic of empire" (in Gail M. Presbey Philosophical Perspectives on the `War on Terrorism'; Rodopi 2007, 113-128) is an almost boilerplate anti-capitalist, Bush-is-Evil, America-can-do-no-right screed with a brief interlude of three and a half pages repeating (for no apparent reason) an odd, but not crazy reading of Plato's Republic.  There is otherwise no philosophical content.  

The essay is essentially a list of alleged evils that the US has perpetrated. (The majority of footnotes are newspaper "reporting" said evils.)  There are many assertions and accusations that could really use clarifications and support (e.g., the US government did more than any other force in the twentieth century to resist democratic aspirations, (121)).  The article basically tells you that it is making an unfalsifiable claim (Many believe that the US Promotes democracy because they want it to be true. The government propagates a "democratic veneer to cover and protect its autocratic plutocratic client regimes" (119), so in case you think otherwise you are looking at a veneer). The article has the flavor of a rant in that it is likely only compelling (or even comprehensible) to someone who already knows and agrees with the conclusions and approaches of the essay, and shares the authors rage, and has it for the same reason the author does.  There is a large metaphor that is used to substantiate the author's point, which is essentially that if we use that metaphor the point makes no sense (120).

I have no problem with screeds.  I have been known to send them in emails myself.  But I do wonder how this made it into a philosophy anthology.  

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