A Brief Remark on Zero Dark Thirty

Liberalism has often been criticized (rightly, in my opinion) for for its unwavering emphasis upon means rather than ends, procedures rather than goals. As Carl Freedman puts it, in his great account of Richard Nixon:

Liberalism begins by abjuring positive social policy in favor of a formal proceduralism, pragmatically trusting that the application of a certain set of rules will “work” in the sense of yielding the fairest attainable results. But such results are absolutely precluded by the initial liberal move of waiving the question of justice: for justice is a social goal with positive, determinate content…

In other words, liberal proceduralism is concerned that actions must be conducted “fairly,” and not at all concerned with the question of whether the outcome of the action is actually fair. If fairness or justice is a Kantian regulative ideal, then 20th and 21st century liberalism is obsessed with the “regulative” aspect in and of itself, to the point of entirely forgetting the “ideal” which is what really matters.

Liberal proceduralism is one aspect of the “instrumental reason” whose annihilation of true rationality Horkheimer and Adorno warned us of two thirds of a century ago. And if anything, this proceduralism has become even more pronounced today than it was in the mid-20th-century. It has become the nearly unquestioned basis of all aspects of government and social life. Everything from the “reforms” that are currently decimating the US educational system, to the way that American foreign and military policy is conducted, adheres to a strictly procedural logic. (In a full social analysis, we would have to say that there is in fact an end in sight: the further accumulation of capital by the tiny minority that already “owns” it, and the exacerbated dispossession of the “99%” in the US itself, not to mention the much more severely disadvantaged global poor. But of course, this “end” is not publically avowable. And as Marx long ago pointed out, the “end” of capital accumulation isn’t really an end or an aim, since it has no goal in view aside from its continuing exacerbated expansion. On the largest scale, capitalism is itself a “liberal” process of proceduralism without any additional or external aim).

I think that it is because we live in such an overwhelmingly “proceduralist” society that the genre of the *procedural* has become so ubiquitous in television and film. This genre used to be known as the “police procedural,” exemplified today by (for example) the ever-popular CSI group of TV shows. But procedurals have also become the staple genre for some of our most interesting film directors. Thus Olivier Assayas gives us a procedural of terrorism (Carlos), and David Fincher gives us procedurals of detective work beyond the police department (Zodiac) and of corporate strategy in the age of the Internet (The Social Network).

And this, to me, is the genius of Zero Dark Thirty. When I wrote before about Kathryn Bigelow, I noted that her characteristic techinque as a director is to immerse herself, and us, in the element, or environment, in which the story takes place (night in Near Dark; the seashore and the waves in Point Break; the realm of inner-psychic-life-as-virtual-reality in Strange Days; and the desert in The Hurt Locker). I also noted that The Hurt Locker marked her move to the genre of the procedural, in order to convey this elemental reality (which seems not to be “political” only because it is, in fact,the necessary precondition and container of the political).

Well, perhaps this is because I am such an unregenerate auteurist, but I find the same principles at work in Zero Dark Thirty as well.

Zero Dark Thirty is the ne plus ultra of proceduralism, its ultimate expansion and reductio ad absurdum. It’s all about the well-nigh interminable process of searching for, and then eliminating, Osama Bin Laden. The premise and initial impetus of this process is of course the mythological demonization of Bin Laden, as the ultimate culprit responsible for Nine Eleven. But in the relentless proceduralism that the film presents to us, this goal or rationale is abraded away. The torture which the film has become controversial for depicting is of course part of this. But so is the process of painstakingly correlating irrelevant information, the accidental discovery of leads in years-old records, the repetitive tracking of the vehicle of the suspected courier, the endless bureaucratic meetings at which officials seek to decide if the information is valid and what should be done about it, and above all the military operation in the last thirty minutes of the film (has military action ever been depicted in the movies with such relentless a focus on operational techniques, in a manner that is utterly devoid alike of the horror of war and of the glory and heroism that are so often invoked to justify it?). The goal has been so absorbed into procedural routine that the ostensible climax of the film, the actual killing of Bin Laden, occurs offscreen; and we barely even get a glimpse of the corpse, zipped as it is into a body bag, which is to say treated entirely (and literally) according to Standard Operating Procedure.

The film makes a sort of feint by implying that its real subject is the passion of its protagonist Maya (Jessica Chastain), who continues to pursue the search for Osama when everyone else has given up on it. But her obsession is itself entirely contained within, and articulated by, the proceduralism which is her job as a CIA analyst, and which seems to be the only world she knows. Every potentially dramatic action in which she finds herself (bombings and armed ambushes included) is drained of drama, and subsumed within proceduralist routine. Every affect, and every reason for doing what one does, is sucked into a black hole. This is why Maya is so emptied out at the end of the film.

We are immersed into an overwhelming environment in Zero Dark Thirty, just as we are in all of Bigelow’s films. But in this case, the environment is the numbingly anonymous one of Big Data, of the numbingly repetitious accumulation of “information” (whether by torture, surveillance, physical search, or collation of records), and of instantaneity (the annihilation of duration) mediated through video screens and telecommunications technologies.

As I was watching Zero Dark Thirty, I found the relentlessness with which all this was depicted almost unbearably intense. I’ve never seen (or heard) so powerful a depiction (or better, I should say,so powerful an enactment) of entropic dissolution and decay. All meaning, and all feeling, was draining away before my eyes and ears, without even the prospect of any sort of negative finality or conclusion. I realize that this weird inverted intensity won’t appeal to everyone; it’s the reason, I think, that many people I know simply found the movie tedious and boring. (But such differences of response are of course, as Kant knew, beyond argument).

In any case, Zero Dark Thirty embodies the truth of liberal proceduralism as an organizing principle of all governmentality and all social life today. Embodying and testifying to a truth in this manner is not the same as offering a “critique.” In this sense, it is perfectly true that the movie does not offer any critique of our government’s systematic use of torture. It is also perfectly true, at least in a literal and banal sense, that (as the filmmakers have themselves defensively claimed) the movie doesn’t “endorse” torture either. But I think that to have an argument on this level is to miss the point. Critique is important, but it isn’t everything. It might well be argued that, at this late date, even the most accurate critique doesn’t accomplish very much; it is itself too much part of an all-too-predictable procedure. Embodying the truth of a situation, as I think Zero Dark Thirty does, has important aesthetic and political consequences, more important perhaps than those that come from making an accurate and moral judgment. Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t show us a way out from the nightmare of liberal proceduralism, but it makes this nightmare visible at a time when its sheer ubiquity might otherwise leave us to take it for granted and thereby ignore it.

31 thoughts on “A Brief Remark on Zero Dark Thirty”

  1. As always, interesting review. First one that makes me want to see the film and the first one that I have read that does not simply condemn the film (although you seem to leave room for that condemnation here).

  2. Insightful. Couldn’t we say that Obama is unusual for Democratic Presidents in that he’s sometimes willing to abandon liberal proceduralism and put ends before means (using reconciliation to pass health care, invading Pakistan to get UBL, using drones in general and against Anwar al-Awlaki in specific)?

  3. ZDT could be retitled “Apocalypse New, The Bureaucrats”. In this version, Willard is a cocksure blank slate with a hunch-that-won’t-quit asserting her way up a river of suits, Kurtz is reduced to evil blank slate, personified by a partial shot of a beard, and the air strike – a mere sweep-up operation in Coppola’s Apocalypse – is here a bloated exercise, fetishistic in its loving attention to irrelevant details and adoring, preciously lit shots of superior tech pitted against pajamas.

    But maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for that new genre: the revenge procedural…

  4. Haven’t seen it, but an old friend called it “counter revolutionary BS”, which made me laugh. I always wonder why it’s now trendy to disparage “critique” as being “impotent” yet calculated myopia is not recognised as itself being “action”.

  5. It seems the opposite of your opening sentence might be that the ends justify the means. This is more or less what some have argued with regard to torture. Dershowitz for inetance has said that if we’re weighing thousands of our lives against one of theirs then the relative scale iustifies torture. There is another dodge that says that torture is not just illegitimate but ineffeective. It might be ineffective if any Joe Blow is doing it but the Ph.D. in the film and Maja are using very effective psychological and deductive strategies that do eventually help to produce an address. Do the ends here justify the means?

    I do think a dialogue about legitimate procedures is necessary though painstaking and even tortuous. If we just say that any end justifies any means then we justify rape. Or we justify Stalin’s highway of death through Siberian wilderness built on the deaths of thousands of political prisoners. This is why I am still with the liberals. Your crux here is the best of any I’ve read and should become the focus for the national dialogie.

  6. “Dershowitz for inetance has said that if we’re weighing thousands of our lives against one of theirs then the relative scale iustifies torture.” [sic.]

    Kirby Olson, ladies and gentlemen.

  7. Best review of “ZDT” yet! You’ve really got a handle on how the fim actually works. And I know Kathy will be most appreciative.

    There’s an almost Bressonian quality to the way she eliminates everything from the narrative that doesn’t belong to the hunt..

  8. There was a neat interview with Bigelow in the front matter of the December 16, 2011 New Yorker. She said she had a scholarship to NYU film school and to help pay the rent before that she renovated old printing establishments with Philip Glass. Glass redid the plumbing, while she sanded down all the piles of dried ink. Originally she said the movie was going to be about OBL’s escape from Bora Bora but then she realized she had a better topic with OBL getting nailed in Attabottabad if that’s the name of the joint. The CIA now denies they got any actionable intelligence via torture. The movie indicates they did get some. So there is a disrepancy there. I don’t think what the Muslims in the film were wearing was pyjamas exactly. I don’t know if they had pyjamas per se in that house. What OBL was wearing seemed instead to be a variant on what whirling dervishes wear. We’ve heard a lot about the burqa, but I am not familiar with the fashion terms for the male outfits. But I don’t think OBL was wearing pyjamas exactly. At least I didn’t see any ducks.

  9. I didn’t have the opportunity to see the film here in Europe, but what strikes me is the placement of “proceduralism”, the quality of the “liberal”, and the tight connection that is implicitly proposed. For all of these terms, I think, you exhibit a certain pre-occupation that, well, is near to fatalism.

    All the critique of liberalism, and more and more so, seems to be increasingly weird to me. It reproduces the neo-liberal propaganda, which certainly has nothing to do with liberalism. As said, it is propaganda. I never saw anyone criticizing the use of the notion of “liberal” by those selfish, egomaniac clique of betrayers that could be found with increased probability in banks, particularly American Banks (and similar organizations). The critical issue here being that the elite in American banks exerts direct political power (refusal of accepting Basel II/III, the Banks own regulations issued by BIS)
    Leftist theorists clearly stated (60 years ago) how to call this tight link between economy and legislation: fascism.

    If you are interested in a liberal demonstration, take some political vacations in Switzerland (I am not a Swiss guy). Liberalism has nothing to do with de-regulation as its own goal (and means), there is always responsibility, too. If you pair those, you still have liberalism, do you?

    For me it seems, and that’s a methodological mistake, that all those lamenting about liberalism peculate the alternative. Peculating the alternative is, well, precisely the means of totalitarist propaganda in the vein of Hegel.

    Which brings me probably to the hidden mechanisms of the misplaced critique, and this has lot to do with “procedural”. If we step outside, for a moment, of cultural studies and political theory, we can see that the insight into the “procedural” is a major advance in the development of a proper image of thought, in the Deleuzean sense. Against common sense thinking, against representationalist thinking, against a thinking that orients itself at the transcendent identical.
    Again, applying a certain “grammar”, we have to ask: what is the alternative to “procedural”? It is the positive apriori, i.e. the apriori that claims some “content”. Often it comes as materialism, marxism, hegelianism, or fascism.

    One step earlier, we can find the superiority of the procedural in Simondon’s musings about individuation.
    And, finally, the first clear formulation of the principle of proceduralisation we can find in mathematics, as Deleuze has been pointing out. It was Lagrange around 1780 (?) who got aware of the fact, that (1) everything he thinks consists of procedures and constants, (2) any constant can be resolved into other procedures and other constants. Deleuze calls this the “Differential”.

    So, the first conclusion is that proceduralism is an inevitable progress. We have to separate it from ethics, only to apply proceduralism to ethics itself (it is already done: The possibility of the Good, by Wilhelm Vossenkuhl)

    The second conclusion would be, that there could be nothing better than “procedural liberalism”. Of course, one has to understand first what “liberalism” means.

    And this finally leads to the insight and exclamate the appeal: Throw away Hegelianism, in all its aspects, once and for all.

  10. I haven’t seen this (or The Hurt Locker, yet!), but your interesting piece reminded me of a couple of things – Dassin’s noir/crime thriller Rififi and Melville’s later part-homage Le Cercle Rouge, both with their immersive, patient, lengthy attendance to the physical work of the heist. Also Zizek’s point about the absence of physical labour in the movies (allegedly, outside of Psycho’s bathroom clean-up scene and the James Bond techno-factory scenes where Q introduces him to his latest gadgets).

    Also, this point never seems to even come up for discussion: surely this was murder, without due process, trial, judge or jury. Bin Laden, the USA, and the world were deprived of seeing him brought to a fair trial, and the wrong person(s) may easily have killed in this vigilante-style operation.

  11. By focusing on the procedural aspects, and being marketed as “journalistic” or realistic take on a recent highly politicized event just before a presidential election, this film functions currently as propaganda. Not to say that the film craft in question cannot be brought to light and analyzed in the future, but right now this film is aimed at us by many powerful people in order to justify and glorify American power. It also outright lies about torture ; when challenged on this Bigelow and assorted hacks promptly retreat from the journalistic grounds the film otherwise claims as a selling point.

    Right now, in 2012-13, this whole thing should be denounced.

  12. The line between “torture” and “enhanced interrogation” was unclear. The one guy they put through whatever it was seemed to emerge from the sessions without being irreparably broken. He ate food and seemed to possess his marbles at the end. John McCain of course also went through torture and still seems to have all his marbles. But McCain’s body was ruined. His jowls are a mess, and he can’t lift his arms. Documenting a process that we weren’t privy to is difficult because there’s no way to verify what happened. Taking the CIA’s word for it that there was no torture should also be taken with a grain of salt. It isn’t as if that outfit has never lied and always tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Staging this torture session won’t necessarily lead to more torture but arguably to less as citizens become familiar with what went on, and can visualize it. Some argue that this wasn’t waterboarding the way it actually went down. My least favorite torture was being closed up in the tiny box. That would give you cramps and claustrophobic sensations. December 17, 2012 New Yorker Talk of the Town says, “The film includes wrenching scenes of a terrrorist suspect being waterboarded and subjected to other forms of torture by C.I.A. operatives; the suspect eventually surrenders information that helps to lead to Bin Laden. Bigelow maintains that everything in the film is based on first-hand accounts…” (27). Should we be able to see what is on the front lines or not? Should we be ostriches? Bigelow said that “what we were attempting is almost a journalistic approach to film” (26). The breakthrough moment for Maya is somewhat against procedure. She has a sudden intuition of the absence of information which treats the negative areas as positives, which throws open the puzzle of OBL’s courier’s whereabouts. To me the film is about the triumph of the intuition in the analytical process, and about the freedom of individuals to pursue this analytical process, which is why we’re going to beat Al Qaeda who blindly follow leaders into the maelstrom. It’s the same reason the early Greeks beat the Persians (Victor Davis Hanson posits that the individual’s freedom in the west will always triumph over the potentate’s dictatorial proceduralism in which the agents of the potentate unthinkingly carry out directives from which they are unable to err). Maya stood up to a whole wall of bureaucrats many times over. What’s probably scandalous to Marxists with this film is the triumph of the individual’s ability to capitalize on the freedom of information within her milieu to arrive at a correct perception. This film represents the triumph of the bourgeoisie and individual capitalism represented by Bigelow, who seized on a capital project, and completed it, and is now thriving on the controversy it has created that endows the film with visitors. To silence it would be tantamount to silencing the invisible hand of capitalism itself, even as that hand may appear to slap terrorists around. It’s not really about that. It’s about the process of thought and how individuals from the west carry that out against individuals from the east. And why we so far are winning.

  13. American Enterprise Institute held a seminar with CIA veterans of the OBL assassination about five days ago which appeared on C-Span 2 last night. There are four panelists. One is the moderator, a man named Marc Thiessen. There is also a General Hayden who worked with “enhanced interrogation” technicians from 2004-2008, and a CIA operative named Jose Rodriguez, and one other named John Rizzo, who is a former CIA chief. The allegation that NOTHING came out of these torture sessions is patently false seems to be their consensus. General Michael Hayden said the amount of information produced was equivalent to a CostCo bulging with file folders and that among other things they were able to stop bomb and abomb attacks, and also to find the identity of OBL’s courier. They claim the identity of Maya is a “composite” of various CIA women analysts. While Obama’s administration has claimed that “no actionable intelligence” came out of the enhanced interrogation techniques depicted in Zero Dark Thirty, thus denying both the ethical and the practical aspects of these techniques, and while Michael Moore among others has insisted in print that the hooliganism of the Bush administration is what set these techniques into play, Obama’s own administration toned down some of the techniques (the box depicted, and waterboarding was outlawed, but sleep deprivation was not) they also deny the truthfulness of the portrait of the CIA woman who got herself and several others blown up — they claim not only was she a far more beautiful woman than the actress but was also smarter and tougher than she is depicted. They claim that the interrogators found Ahmed Al-Kuwaiti partially because KSM said to his fellow detainees by secret note that under no circumstances should they mention the name of the courier, as this would surely lead to OBL’s cover being blown. The role of the food in the film, as well as the expensive car given to a corrupt Kuwaiti citizen, were also discussed in detail (they denied the bit about the expensive car being used as a bribe). It’s a neat discussion, and I think provides a level of analytical and historical detail that has thus far been omitted from most discussions of the film. That “nothing came out of” these interrogations is similar to the BHO administration’s lie that Benghazi was caused by an anti-Islamic film. It’s a convenient cover story and since no American journalist will question anything the BHO administration lays down, it is dependent on very few other sources to dig deeper… in order to blow the lid off the convenient truths tossed into the trough for the American and international public. They also do discuss the ethics of torture, and how each one of them saw the practice, and the limits of it from within their own ethical paradigms and how they thought it was justified in certain cases. Each of these men was subsequently put through many committee hearings by the BHO administration to try to extract the truth from them in terms of exactly what went on in the black sites. Here is the link to this 1.5 hour discussion:


  14. “They also do discuss the ethics of [sexual threats, spiked beverages, attack dogs, slamming into concrete walls, etc.], and how each one of them saw the practice, and the limits of it from within their own ethical paradigms and how they thought it was justified in certain cases…”

    Kirby Olson, ladies and gentlemen.

  15. This is a wonderful intellectual crime Mathmos. You place in brackets a set of activities that aren’t depicted in the film and then attribute them to the film and then place them in my mouth by surrounding the paragraph with quotations performing a double interpolation while also removing my original words without clarification. You not only break the commandment against false witness but do so with a savage jaw breaking twist. Nicely done. You should find employment at Abu Ghraib.

  16. Happy to see you react in a humane way toward (what you see yourself withstanding as) torture, for once. Next time, go straight to that instead of re-emitting the sociopathic euphemisms of war criminals and their enablers.

  17. I don’t think I reacted in a humane way. I think even the far left grants that we have the right to self-defense. That we don’t have to just turn the other cheek. When you have terrorists who are willing to kill you and your fellows by any means necessary and will not even stop when it comes to killing children, I think we have the right to defend ourselves by any means necessary. It’s symmetrical at least. There is the secondary question of whether Bigelow’s film argues that there was actionable intelligence gleaned by questionable means. It’s a slippery point and is going to cost her an Oscar and an academy award or two. I haven’t decided on the ethics involved either in the movie or in the war itself. If self-defense is an absolute principle, then I think hat we can do whatever we want with people who are sworn to kill us and will stop at nothing to inflict maximum damage, even to private citizens, even to children. Why should we spare the life of someone who will not spare our children’s lives? You see the mean trick that is played on 9/11 as deserving a limited response? Even in the film there is the car bomb scene: during a supposed truce, another weapon is used. While Obama claims the prisoners are to be treated with the rights accorded by the Geneva Conventions, he’s also lost two wars with his methods, and gotten our Embassy blown up in Benghazi. The only thing that’s going right for him is the drone warfare, and that has ethical problems, too. As soon as you enter a war, you more or less leave ethics. The idea is to kill the other guys before they kill you. If you go all the way to being Amish or Buddhist and relying on decency, then fine. But you’re going to lose your country in the second instance (Tibet), and rely on other people to do your fighting for you in the first. This solution is pure but not practical. Another solution is Sherman’s: get it over with through sheer carnage. There are no ideal solutions to armed conflict.

  18. To me the film is about the triumph of the intuition in the analytical process, and about the freedom of individuals to pursue this analytical process, which is why we’re going to beat Al Qaeda who blindly follow leaders into the maelstrom.

    Kirby fer Chrissakes how can you say that when the analytic process ends with total pointlessness (this was also the point of Shaviro’s review). How is that a triumph of analysis – discovering that you lost your goal?

    The film rather shows a total defeat of the ”Western ratio” that is now faced with completely irrational/absurd procedures and processes running amok. The capture and delivery of Bin Laden didn’t resolve any of the underlying problems.

    And your subsequent explanation that ”we don’t have to turn the other cheek” is an echo of Old Testamental eye-for-an-eye revenge policies. That isn’t even properly Christian, Kirby. The really superior thing, the really rational and Enlightened thing, would be for the Western civilization to show that it has the ability to FORGIVE.

  19. Christians developed a Just War doctrine. You need to get past the syrupy version of Christianity. We need a muscular Christianity not a soppy one. The main ideal is self-defense. OBL had stated at various times that he wanted to kill any and all Americans. This was not a fantasy but something he had successfully carried out in several situations. You can’t forgive unless there is very serious remorse.

  20. You need to get past the syrupy version of Christianity. We need a muscular Christianity not a soppy one.

    I strongly disagree. Orthodoxy teaches that good and evil are inextricably mixed, and that humans cannot determine what is good and what is evil, only God can. Whenever Christianity dabbles in politics, it becomes corrupt and evil itself.

    But I don’t know why you stress that Bin Laden wanted to kill Americans. Nobody except maybe far-Left Marxists said that Bin Laden was a saint, and that he shouldn’t have been removed from the scene. It’s rather that he was not really the raison d’etree, or the culprit, and his removal did not solve the underlying problems that lead to terrorism on both sides of the divide.

  21. You said he should be forgiven.

    I do agree that there are deep divisions whether they arise from Israel or Huntington’s thesis is another issue.

    But I think we now agree that he should not have been forgiven and that his death didn’t heal a deep division but did kill a clever perp. With him gone AQ’s IQ IS halved and this was completed via Mayas and the CIA. Obama tried to take credit.

  22. It’s wrong to see OBL as possessing a legitimate grievance or executing it from within a legitimate viewpoint. He doesn’t or didn’t represent any government. Even the Taliban denied that his and their viewpoints formed an overlapping set of common beliefs.

    Many helped bring down Bin Laden. It wasn’t just the CIA or the woman called Maya. There is another short segment in the film about the fraudulent polio vaccination campaign which was in reality run by a doctor named Shalil Afridi. He verified that the address was correct at great personal risk to himself. This episode was skipped over rather lightly in the film.

    Afridi remains ensconced deep in a Pakistani prison. Obama says nothing in his regard. This man was every bit as much of a hero as the woman portrayed by Jessica Chastain. It was a huge chain of players that swatted down OBL. Chastain has spoken of this doctor in Oscar interviews but the MSM refused to play them.

    OBL had about as much legitimacy as Manson or that creep in Holland who killed Theo Van Gogh. (Mohammed Bouyeri.) Neither one was working for a government, or had governmental sanction.

    They are like Manson or like Chapman.

  23. But I think we now agree that he should not have been forgiven and that his death didn’t heal a deep division but did kill a clever perp

    The forgiveness I related to the global position of the Western civilization. If that civilization claims to have moral superiority over other civilizations, especially those that it plundered during its less-than-glorious colonial past, then it should also have the serenity to turn the other cheek, or at least spend a fraction of its riches enlightening those civilizations instead of exploiting them further. I’m sure if that were so then there would be no Taliban to begin with, there would be less material inequality and less chance for such evil passions to develop.

    I am not trying to justify Mohammed Bouyeri’s murder, but you should know that Theo van Gogh practically INVITED it on himself by associating with Ayan Hirschi Ali, who is a mad woman through and through. He was a good director and he should really have known better. That whole incident was very indicative of the way right-wing factions in Holland and islamic terrorists share an identical mentality.

  24. But my comment was more related to your…er… panegyric to Western rationality. The Bigelow movie blew that one up masterfully. That rationality only ends up leading to the release of repressed passions that may very well lead up to another world war.

  25. Parody Center you are blaming the victim when you say that Theo Van Gogh “invited” his own murder. He was a bit too safe in Holland, and thought that all sides would honor the notion of free speech. Obviously Islam doesn’t. There is no free press anywhere inside of Islam.

    Democracy sites indicate that almost all Islamic countries are NOT FREE. This includes places such as the Gaza Strip and Syria and even relatively westernized countries such as Turkey have enormous problems which you can’t even mention. For instance, the genocide of the Armenian Turks. It is still against the law to mention. People today say well Turkey is almost entirely Islamic. Sure, because they committed genocide against the Armenian Christians.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali originally sided with the liberals in Holland, and then went to the right, and is now in hiding in America after Theo’s death. Her most recent writings indicate that she is no longer a follower of Voltaire. She is now turning Christian. This will happen to the entire world eventually. Nothing can stop it. This aspect of ZDT wasn’t foregrounded. But this is an old war going back at least a thousand years.

    We can’t win it with pure might, but need to win it with converts and showing benefits. Right now of course it’s dangerous for Islamics to change sides since it will result in their death. But given a free choice almost everyone would choose Protestantism and Democracy. The emigration records will show this eventually. But we also have to export democracy. Given free choices, people will choose, first with their feet, and eventually with their heads.

    Freedom allows for individuals to think. This is what Maya did, and it is why we won this skirmish in the culture war. But we will also win the final battles. We can’t be afraid to cause problems. We need more cartoons, more fun. Their women will learn to read eventually. 9 million now can in Afghanistan. It’s happening all over their world.

    I think that within Islam there are enormous numbers of liberals. Liberalization is coming.

  26. I know I’m not the first to suggest that you see it, but this review makes me very anxious indeed to see if you’ve had a chance to watch LEVIATHAN.

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