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Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Opposite Of Navel-Gazing

Navel-gazing is such an easy hobby. In the modern western world it never requires us to actually do something, you see. Pick the lint of western imperialism out of your belly-button, and you don't feel the need to sign up for the military and fight for anything. You can sink back into your garden tub with a weary, effete sigh and watch the massacres from afar with a tragic, sorrowful air of compassion. Groan over an overpopulated world and you can console yourself for any errant stirrings of compassion over hungry people and malarial children with the interior reflection that Gaia knows best, after all. Why get in the way of the necessary culling?

But the bathwater is getting cold and the people of the west are running out of belly-button lint. Victor David Hanson:
It is time for the Iranian leaders to snap out of their pseudo-trances and hocus-pocus, and accept that some Western countries are not merely far more powerful than Iran, but in certain situations and under particular circumstances, can be just as driven by memory, history, and, yes, a certain craziness as well.

Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, “Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.” The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.

So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable.
Yes, and those "vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable" could also be called the "will to live". It is not dead in us. Not all of us, anyway. Shrinkwrapped has written an incredible series on Europe's cultural predicament beginning here, continuing here, baring its fangs here and finally knotting the knickers of the fainthearted here. I strongly recommend reading the comments on the last post in order to get a survey of the cultural divide. There is something remarkable about the culture that can spawn a comment like
The moral mindset that has Nazis as the definitive ultimate evil is one of the very problems that is driving Europe onto the rocks.
Good God. The Nazis weren't original, but they surely were uniquely efficient in their evil. If millions of bodies aren't evil, what is?

In any case, we now have to deal with the reality that the tools to produce millions of bodies are multiplying throughout the world even while people designating themselves "Peacekeepers" are sitting around trying to pretend that la! la! la! it's not happening. Another way to chart the logic of world events of the last fifteen years is to note that the payoff for violence is increasing even as the cost of the violence is decreasing. Political Islam is obsessed with violence, and its obsession has dovetailed with the weary lint-picking of the Euroleftists to give it a unique political advantage. For a moment only, the lala leftists have succeeded in making it socially disgraceful to say "no" to those who advocate the mass death of the west.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred provide a lovely example of this in today's Sweden. And while we are on the subject of evil, Kobayashi Maru caps the argument in a short, succinct post. Yes, Virginia, evil exists. When the doctrines of Marxism drove idealists to kill millions of their own people in the drive to create a wonderful utopian society, that was evil. The explosion of wrath and hatred that caused the massacres in Rwanda arose out of evil thoughts, evil desires and culminated in evil deeds.

Now there are many ways in which the doctrine that people don't matter is being exalted today, and fascist Islamic thought is just one of them. Read Kobayashi Maru's post regarding his encounter with this doctrine in chuch, of all places. All of those pushing the doctrine that some people don't matter share an ideological underpinning with the Nazis, the Stalinists, the murdering Marxists and the slave drivers of almost the whole of all human history. Our current short span of human history - in which the idea that every human being does matter almost seized control - is unique in human history and is under great threat. The rise of murderous environmentalism is just another chapter in the long span of ideologies that claim that other human beings don't matter. It is the age-old tribalist ideology, and I am sure we will manage to give that a few new coats of paint this century yet again.

If Europe is dead, it's dead from self-inflicted wounds. See Fjordman's long post at the Gates of Vienna. See also Mikkel at Enough!. If you read Fjordman's post, I think you will understand why Europe is in crisis. If you read Mikkel's posts here and here, you may come to the conclusion that it is Europe's current social-political order which is dead, but that the young may be throwing off the disease. However, Europe has created a frozen-in-amber society in which the young have to wait to be quite old before they can ever have an influence on politics, so it is two to three decades before a cultural shift among the 20 year-olds of today can be expressed in European political life. Thus the "violence works" crowd may succeed to power not with the idealistic confidence of youth, but in the crabbed, frustrated bitterness of mid to late age.

I don't think political Islam can win, no matter how loud the mad mullahs shriek. In the end they are like the Nazis and Stalin, a self-destroying phenomenon. I think it is only a question of whether western society in its current forms can rouse itself to say "no" to its own malignant social diseases. The failure to openly confront the mad mullahs is purely a symptom of our own problems rather than any sort of demonstration of Islamic power.

Glad you're feeling better, M-O-M! And thanks for a great post. Btw, I believe ShrinkWrapped is planning a 5th installment of his important Gudrun series.
Thanks for the link M.O.M.! Nice round-up.
Slowly but surely, Scurvyoaks.

You know, that's a very strange screen name! I have trouble writing it because it seems like a Shakespearean insult - "Curse you, you scurvy oak!"
"ScurvyOaks" has a silly origin. My wife and I live in a somewhat imposing old house in a historic district. Somewhere along the line during a very convivial evening with a couple who are our good friends, the suggestion was made that our house should have a name. In our back yard, there were two stunted, skanky oak trees that we were about to cut down in order to put in a pool. Someone (not me, but I don't remember who) advocated naming our house for those rather "scurvy" oaks. Well, the name stuck. And, because it amuses me, I decided to adopt it as a screen name.
But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Second that and then some. As a wargamer, I have found that intellectual pacifists have absolutely no concern for casualties or collateral damage to achieve their aim (actual quote: "Nuclear exchange? Only a 5.6 gigadeath situation. Insignificant.")

And nobody is as utterly genocidal as a Concerned & Compassionate (TM) Pacifist who has just been personally inconvenienced, much less personally threatened. Kyle's Mom on South Park is dead-on.
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