Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Quote of the Week of February 5, by Alan Watts

Alan Watts on Moral Wars

Alan Watts was one of the great eclectic philosphers of the 20th Century, specializing in Eastern Philosophy, especially Zen Buddhism. He served as a sort of unofficial guru for the San Francisco Bay Area for years. I used to love listening to his jovial, carefree voice on his weekly radio broadcasts when I was a teenager. He was one cat who could always cut to the quick about any topic and and see through all the facades erected. I think he would have considered Bush the Decider as a cross between Caligula and Father Coughlin, the lunatic, Emperor-sadist and the pro-Fascist moralizer, respectively, although Coughlin was far more complicated a man then the Decider.

Bush certainly likes to speak in evangelical, crusading terms, framing his wars as moral exercises against evil, or the axis of evil, defining his enemies of choice as evil-doers while he "champions" civilization and all that is good. Yet there is something incredibly obscene about this entire characterization. Alan Watts was a thinker who understood why.


"The most awful wars that are waged are the wars waged for moral principles. 'You' are a lousy communist. 'You' have a philosophy that is destructive to religion and to everything that we love and value and reverence, and therefore we will exterminate you to the last man unless you surrender unconditionally.

"Such wars are ruthless beyond belief. We can blow up whole cities, wipe peoples out because 'we' are not greedy. We are 'righteous'. That is why the goodie-goodies are the thieves of virtue. If you're going to do something evil, do it for a plain, honest, selfish motive. Don't do it in the name of God, because if you do, it turns you into a monster who is no longer human, a sadist, a pure destroyer.

"So an inflexibly righteous person is not human."

-from the Essential Lectures of Alan Watts (http://www.alanwatts.com/aw_story.html )

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