GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

December 7, 2015

With whom are we at War? (Shortest Blog post ever)

Filed under: GA — adam @ 3:36 pm

It’s the question of the day, and I think I have an answer that is equally descriptive and prescriptive, and will not become less true until we have won the war:

We are at war with all those Muslims who are not also at war with the Muslims at war with us.


  1. How does it improve on ‘you’re either with us or against us’?

    Comment by John — December 8, 2015 @ 11:22 am

  2. It narrows it down to Muslims, among whom we must identify the enemy in a fluid situation, rather than dragging in the whole world. It leaves open the possibility of neutrality.

    Also, it’s less of a declaration and more of a deduction–insofar as we are at war with some Muslims, who are themselves taking their co-religionsits hostage, my formulation must be true, whether we assert it or not. Muslims, unfortunately, cannot really be neutral.

    Comment by adam — December 8, 2015 @ 11:30 am

  3. It was my sense of the impossibility of Muslim neutrality that led to the question. But for whom, or when, is neutrality really possible in a world where countless interactions in the markets for goods and travel and ideas that might somehow be regulated, by individuals, organizations and states, might contribute to a terrorism with world historical ambitions? When buying gas, or seeing a halal certificate on a food product, i either have to ask if any of my money goes to the Jihad (and consider my options in transport or food), acknowledge my impotence and competing desires, or dwell in ignorance. I appreciate that we can’t drag the whole world into some aspects of fighting a war we acknowledge, but at some level we are all already in various hostage situations due to the causes of the combatants.

    Once we start seeking discipline and deferral In the opposition of civilisation and barbarism and savagery, does neutrality lie in the deferral itself?

    Comment by John — December 8, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

  4. Your question is really, who is the “we” at war. I would hope that my formulation would make it possible for the answer to that question to rely on “them.” If the halal butcher (some future, hypothetical, halal butcher) belongs to a mosque dedicated to the repudiation of central, threatening Islamic tenets, that sign would indicate a shrinking of the “they” and, correspondingly, a decrease in the number of those who must be included in “we” (or, perhaps, a reduction in the number of circumstances in which we need to be that “we”).

    Neutrality, then, would lie in those spaces where the deferral of hostage taking is still possible. But you are right that forgetting we are always, to some degree, in potentia, hostages, implies a distinction between the ignorant and the knowing (or acknowledging). So, the neutral spaces in which the ignorant can dwell are a result of the work of the acknowledging in pushing back the boundaries of the “House of War.” The point of winning would be to make the world neutral, at least on this question.

    Comment by adam — December 8, 2015 @ 2:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress