Megan McArdle points out that the thought that one can have innovative pharmaceutical companies delivering new drugs at low cost under government direction is a fantasy. You can have lower costs, perhaps—though the military procurement process is hardly encouraging—but you cripple innovation, slowing progress against disease.
Archive for January, 2008
George Weigel names the enemy, and asks why so many are so unwilling to do the same:
That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. That most of the world’s Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam’s difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it’s all George W. Bush’s fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.
He has a suggestion: we must fight philosophically as well as militarily:
This is a war of ideas, pitting two different notions of the good society against each other. The jihadist vision claims the sanction of God. The western vision of the free society, in which civility involves engaging differences with respect, has both religious and philosophical roots. Some Americans have lost touch with the deepest cultural sources of the nation’s commitments to religious freedom, tolerance and democratic persuasion, thinking of these good things as mere pragmatic arrangements. But if the United States can’t explain to the world why religious freedom, civility, tolerance and democratic persuasion are morally superior to coercion in religious and political matters, then America stands disarmed before those who believe it their duty to impose a starkly different view of the good society on us.
Shrinkwrapped takes a balanced look at some deep and disturbing questions about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and notes the complexity of the issues involved. Cultural as well as religious issues seem important to this question. Islam in Indonesia and in East Africa has, setting aside recent radical influences, seemed to evolve in relatively peaceful directions, while Islam in most Arab countries has generally been accompanied by tyranny and aggression. In some places and times, Islam has been a religion of peace; in others, it has been and continues to be a religion of war. Since 1973, the latter places have had the resources to cause trouble on a global scale, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
A quote from Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling:
In the old days they said, “What a pity things don’t go on in the world as the parson preaches”—perhaps the time is coming, especially with the help of philosophy, when they will say, “Fortunately things don’t go on as the parson preaches; for after all there is some sense in life, but none at all in his preaching.”