Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Kimball and Steyn on the end of the West

Two essays in the New Criterion talk about the West almost in the past tense. Roger Kimball's After the suicide of the West pronounces his post-mortem: a civilization suicided from despair; death from want of a reason to live. The contradiction within liberalism -- within multiculturalism -- Kimball argues, is that it unwilling to believe in anything definite, even in itself.

... an essay called “The Self-Poisoning of the Open Society,” ... dilates on this basic antinomy of liberalism. Liberalism implies openness to other points of view, even ... those points of view whose success would destroy liberalism. But tolerance to those points of view is a prescription for suicide. ... As Robert Frost once put it, a liberal is someone who refuses to take his own part in an argument.

And having emptied life of belief, liberalism has not coincidentally also emptied it of meaning. Kimball quotes Douglas Murray to evoke the atmosphere of a civilization partying frenetically on the brink of black nothingness.

It may be no sin -- may indeed be one of our society’s most appealing traits -- that we love life. But the scales, as in so many things, have tipped to an extreme. From seeing so much for which we would live, people in our society now see fewer and fewer causes for which they would die. We have passed to a point where prolongation is all. We have become like the parents of Admetos in Euripides’ Alcestis -- "walking cadavers," unwilling to give up the few remaining days (in Europe’s case, of its peace dividend) even if only by doing so can any generational future be assured.

Liberalism's first step is to render the past, with its ties to memory and tradition, despicable and valueless. From there it inevitably proceeds to make the future futile. The "me" generation is liberated not only from its myths but also from its dreams. Kimball cites James Burnham. Modern liberalism, Burnham writes:

does not offer ordinary men compelling motives for personal suffering, sacrifice, and death. There is no tragic dimension in its picture of the good life. Men become willing to endure, sacrifice, and die for God, for family, king, honor, country, from a sense of absolute duty or an exalted vision of the meaning of history… . And it is precisely these ideas and institutions that liberalism has criticized, attacked, and in part overthrown as superstitious, archaic, reactionary, and irrational. In their place liberalism proposes a set of pale and bloodless abstractions—pale and bloodless for the very reason that they have no roots in the past, in deep feeling and in suffering. Except for mercenaries, saints, and neurotics, no one is willing to sacrifice and die for progressive education, medicare, humanity in the abstract, the United Nations, and a ten percent rise in Social Security payments.

From Kimball's perspective the contest between Islam and liberal civilization is not simply between East and West, but between the living and the dying.

Mark Steyn makes a less abstract argument in It’s the demography, stupid. Steyn's key literary skill is to state the obvious in ways that refute conventional wisdom. In this essay he is at his epigramatic best. The challenge now, he says, is no longer to save the West, but to see if anything can still be saved. For the West, make no mistake, is dying.

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birth rate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyper-rationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a twenty-first-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could only increase their numbers by conversion. ...

That’s what the war’s about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"—as can be seen throughout much of "the western world" right now. The progressive agenda —lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism—is collectively the real suicide bomb. ...

When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it’s hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). ... Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: the grand buildings will still be standing but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world. ...

Permanence is the illusion of every age. In 1913, no one thought the Russian, Austrian, German, and Turkish empires would be gone within half a decade. Seventy years on, all those fellows who dismissed Reagan as an “amiable dunce” (in Clark Clifford’s phrase) assured us the Soviet Union was likewise here to stay. ... Religious cultures have a much greater sense of both past and future, as we did a century ago, when we spoke of death as joining "the great majority" in "the unseen world." But if secularism’s starting point is that this is all there is, it's no surprise that, consciously or not, they invest the here and now with far greater powers of endurance than it's ever had. The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place of human development was always foolish; we now know that it’s suicidally so. ...

"What do you leave behind?" asked Tony Blair. There will only be very few and very old ethnic Germans and French and Italians by the midpoint of this century. What will they leave behind? ... It’s the demography, stupid. And, if they can’t muster the will to change course, then "what do you leave behind?" is the only question that matters.

Commentary

One of the most remarkable things about suicides is how they struggle at the last. They clutch frantically at the strangling noose they had calmly put around their necks; they swim a few desperate strokes after they've jumped from the bridge; they call for help after they've taken the pills. I predicted Kate Burton would have nothing bad to say about the men who abducted her and her family in Gaza. I was only partly right. She gave a lengthy interview in the Independent, describing her confinement, which paints a more complex picture.

"I got really mad and said: 'I can't believe you're doing this. Do you want me to get down on my knees and say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you?' I was exhausted and started crying. I said: 'I came here to work with the Palestinian people and now I feel I have been stabbed in the back.' ...

Ms Burton said she felt "sorry for the guys" because of their "shattered lives", and the fact that they were, in effect, on the run and had family members who had been killed in the conflict. But, at the same time, she added: "I can't forgive them for what they did and I hope they don't keep doing it in the future. I understand that the majority of the Palestinian people are not like them." ...

She said the kidnappers - who had apparently tracked the Burtons during their tour of Rafah - told the family they had a made a mistake. "They said they thought we were Americans," Ms Burton said. "But when I said you have made a mistake, so why not let us go, they said it was too late." The kidnappers told the family repeatedly that they would be released unharmed "in a few hours".

I wonder what objection would have been raised if the kidnappers had captured Americans, or maybe even Jews;  where would the error be? And for a moment, reading the Independent, I remembered the feelings of Winston Smith as the torturers prepared to have his face eaten out by rats in Room 101.

The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

'It was a common punishment in Imperial China,' said O'Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then -- no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment -- one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

'Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!'

What do you leave behind?

111 Comments:

Blogger Goesh said...

you know how to gut-punch, that's for sure

1/03/2006 04:41:00 AM  
Blogger Despot Dom said...

Excellent post

Came back from Europe a week ago,
its amazing how many europeans at the local level realize their predicament, yet there is some sort of disconnect with them and the political establishment. Its like democarcy hasn't been working for for a long time in europe. It makes sense when you take the 'NO' vote for the EU constitution. many of the EU governments were blind as to how the european people feel.

.... and now we have the emergence of le pen

1/03/2006 05:10:00 AM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

One of the interesting things about suicides as well is the notes they leave. I recall reading a study of suicide notes written by a psychiatrist who had found a huge archive of them in the Los Angeles County morgue--someone had meticulously kept copies of all the notes left by suicides over the years. What struck me was how banal the notes were--concerned with trivia, along the lines of "I've left the keys on the counter and don't forget there is a roast in the refrigerator." There was very little of the "goodbye, cruel world" stuff that you might expect. I can't remember the title of the book. I can look for it.

But that idea seems apt here: the west is committing suicide, yet it is overwhelmingly concerned with trivia.

1/03/2006 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Sonspot said...

"Where is the horse and the rider, where is the horn that was blowing, they have passed like rain on the mountains, like wind in the meadow, the days have gone down in the west… behind the hills… into shadow... "

1/03/2006 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

So much confusion results from the inexact use of language. Liberalism is not socialism, it is respect for individual rights, including the right to property. Democracy is not freedom, it is direct rule by the people. The United States was established as a constitutional republic to protect individual rights. It was then, and for the most part still is, a liberal form of government.

The problem with the West is not liberalism, it is the rejection of liberalism in favor of socialism. Socialism is the cause of Europe's malaise. It is the reason why France cannot absorb its immigrants, and why it has nothing to offer them as an incentive to become Frenchmen.

Conservatives want to convince us that the choice is between theocracy and nihilistic decay. It is not. When the Roman Empire made that choice in favor of theocracy, it fell. The choice for us is between liberalism on the one hand, and all forms of illiberalism on the other: communism, socialism, fascism, and theocracy.

Do conservatives want to defeat Islamist theocracy, or emulate it?

1/03/2006 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

The truth about Europe's 'civilizational suicide' on the ground is also more banal than metaphysical.

Young people have families largely because it's fun and brings meaning to their lives. Older people in Europe have laid such a huge burden of regulations, taxes and politically correct thought supervision on the lives of younger Europeans that, if they have kids as well, their lives are drained of fun, meaning and energy. So young people respond by 'voting with their feet': not having kids, not taking on social responsibilities, not voting and often endlessly drinking, partying and vacationing.

Europe is a short-sighted gerontocracy, with the problems of that kind of society. It is possible to imagine a religious society with essentially the same problems and indeed there have been many and you mention one (the Shakers).

Private clubs, like the many which still exist in London, have been chronically subject to this problem for well over 100 years. If the average age is allowed to drift upwards, as often happens, then the members impose rules which younger people don't want to observe, and they won't join. After a certain point the process becomes irreversible and the club has to be closed down or merged (only postponing the eventual closure).

We are the first generation in history to have experienced a demographic explosion of older people anything like the one now emerging. We should not be surprised to see such problems suddenly being 'writ large' across whole nations.

1/03/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Wretchard, Friends...
Many of the big thinkers, the strategic and tactical and historically-informed posters here go quiet or ignore my posts, sensing that my belief in Jesus' rightness and accuracy in prophesying His Return (and its corollary, The Promised One Has Come) are more or less signs of my intellectual weakness and spiritual enfeeblement.

Now, you drill into the core poison crippling so many around me, but leaving me untouched, for I BELIEVE.

The "what" of my belief-set is a coherent, unified story honoring and respecting ALL the Divine Manifestations of That-Which-Created-Us; from NOW all the way back to pre-written-history.

What I believe withstands close scrutiny AND raises up a World Community of humans of every color, race and previous religious background, ALL of them willing -nay, eager in many cases!- to live their beliefs, live their Faith even under threat of martyrdom!

And lest you think I only invoke the Iranian martyrs, please know that my friends and co-religionists, one black and one white, were cut in half by shotgun blasts in the 60's...

Islamo-fascism cannot, will not win out, but the energy to change the head-hackers is yet gathering its forces!

1/03/2006 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Despot Dom said...

Spengler over at Asian times, sees it as a inevitable religous conflict, than just a mere cultural clash. The secular loses out, whether their right or wrong, they will be squeezed, between to faiths. Is this suicide of the west arguably worse than the communism(They atleast posessed nuclear weapons) of yesterday. Dosen't it strike at the very core values of the west, that were overlooked during the cold war.

1/03/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Mssrs Kimball and Steyn need to take a "Chill Pill."

Something will come along, Some Day. It always does. But, it won't be this day, and it won't be tomorrow; and, it won't be Islam. It's just too fouled up.

Hewlett Packard filed more International patents last week than the entire Islamic world did last year.

Europe made a lot of bad decisions in the last 40 years, but they'll correct (somewhat.) I found Steyn's birth rate statistics the mose interesting element of the two stories, by far. He is, though, I fear, taking a very complex, and interesting, phenomenom and drawing over-simplistic conclusions.

"A Trend does not a Conclusion make." Rufus, circa 2006

1/03/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

One wonders what the last gasps will look like.

Europe didn't invent horror, of course, but they perfected it. I can't imagine its transition will go smoothly.

Having said that, Carridine brings up a good point (though I differ quite a bit in my beliefs). Is faith in purpose necessary to survive in a world of true believers? Is metaphysical constancy a precondition for success? The history of man seems to argue the necessity of faith in a higher purpose.

Knowing that one is alive, and nothing more, is a paradigm in crisis. We must have a macro-narrative to win, I think.

Because I'm musing, another question: Is it the American narrative that keeps us strong, or is it our faith in religion? I am not so sure it is the latter (it may not matter if their effects are similar).

Whichever it is, we know the enemy within. He is the one with no faith, no belief in purpose, the one who spews cynicism and tells us that nothing really matters.

We must keep our children away from this sickness. If we want to survive.

1/03/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

ardsgaine

"Conservatives want to convince us that the choice is between theocracy and nihilistic decay."

You lump political consevatives and cultural conservatives of the west together with Islamic conservative thought. They are not the same.

The founding fathers of our government knew well the dangers of combining the government with religion. I think many in the west have an unhealthy disrespect, however, for religion as a result of misinterpreting their intent.

State sponsored religion = bad.
Religious freedom = good.

1/03/2006 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I have weighed this issue of despair before, for any who are interested.

It is long, perhaps, but its ideas do not lend themselves to brevity.

The Sickness Unto Death.

1/03/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Old Dad said...

Rufus said..

"Something will come along, Some Day. It always does. But, it won't be this day, and it won't be tomorrow; and, it won't be Islam. It's just too fouled up."

I'm not so sure that Islam hasn't already arrived in Europe. A failed culture doesn't have to be ascendent in order to kill its host. I think that's part of Steyn's point. Demographically, the Europeans are simply ceding the field to the Islamists.

What will result? A secularized moderate Islamic Europe? A slow decay into third world hell? Global jihad? A resurgence of Western culture?

The last seems unlikely in Europe.

1/03/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

I think that real issue is whether or not the Yurps can figure out the consequences of indifference towards an immigrant population that has no interest in advancing any culture but the one they brought with them.

The hazard of prediction is the assumption that the future is a linear regression of the past. It is difficult to overcome the logical consequences of demographic trends but neither should we assume that hostile immigration is a permanent feature of the European landscape.

Here's a link to a Daniel Pipes article about two German state ministers who are anything but indifferent to the threat of Islamism.

1/03/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Nihilistic Post Modern Deconstructionist Liberalism is hell bent on it’s own destruction, which I heartily support, but do these murderers of heritage and splendid opportunity go beyond a rewriting of world history and seek to take those hell bent on cultural survival with them? Should this be so, will they dominate at the ballot box, and if not, what craven acts might they contemplate to will to power their sinister aspirations?

To be so brilliant, so free, as to doubt the validity of one’s own worth, one’s own right to existence, is the pinnacle of Narcissism. Maslow’s hierarchical echelon of spirituality has been displaced with self loathing. It is supremely ironic that the generation that experimented with free love, LSD, and earthly spirituality would find itself in the depths of the most moribund sentiments possible, not only to hate, but to hate one’s self and to mock the very spirits of the aborigine and to, once and for all, not only decry God as dead, but God as illegal, entirely estranged from the humanity that has formed a government.

The mother taught the daughter that the father was antithetical to true freedom and his love was but lust and his touch was but exploitation. Love what is left of the world my deary for propagation is for the poor and unwashed, love of thy father is for those too ignorant to know, and it is these that shall inherent the earth, and so we will perish from it with firm knowledge that no god in heaven bestows an eternal embrace, but cloak thyself with the spent dreams of a vacuous nothing.

1/03/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Cervus said...

I believe that what is happening in Europe right now is the result of the profound cultural trauma of two World Wars. The horror of tens of millions dead, the years of trench warfare, the Blitz, Dresden, the Holocaust, even the Cold War, have all combined to push the West into cultural depression.

1/03/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

I wonder how the Eurocracy will like involuntary euthanization when it is applied to every retiree whose future medical care is thought to exceed a certain cost. "Sorry auntie, it's the only way to save France! You should have had kids. They could have taken you in."

ardsgaine:
For good or ill the liberal cause in the West made an unholy alliance with Socialists and were consumed by the same. The results are proof of the truth.

Socialism's tenet: 'From each according to his ability to each according to his need', is bound to generate hosts of needy people who have few abilities. Game theory has proven that. The fact is quite simply that the more fundamentally socialist a Western society is, the faster it spirals into a demographic death trap.

Also, aristedes makes reference to a post titled 'Sickness Unto Death'. Kierkegaard's writing of the same name boiled down to a simple theory: Men cannot live on skepticism alone. They must have faith in something larger than themselves to stave off despair.

Finally, a note on Roman history: There is a far stronger argument that Rome's descent into nihilism (free bread and circuses and damn the provinces) was the undoing of the Western Empire. To call the Imperial Roman period a theocracy is a bit of a stretch. If you are referring to Constantine and his successors, it might be noted that Constantinople was still ruled by a Christian Emperor until the 12th century. The first Crusade was organized to help that Emperor repel the Turkish invasion.

1/03/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger JSAllison said...

The years of rice and salt, not by a physical plague, but by a philosophical one, and no less deadly for that.

1/03/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

Kimball quotes Douglas Murray to evoke the atmosphere of a civilization partying frenetically on the brink of black nothingness.


Ynet reports that in Berlin on New Year's Eve people were drinking and perhaps even having sex amid the Holocaust memorial there.

1/03/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mearcstapa said...

Anyone who needs to contemplate 'what is the meaning of life?' must not have children. The problem with the West is the devaluing of family and importance of having and raising children. So, yes, liberalism, libertarianism, and freedom of the individual, when they mean lack of responsibility for sustaining your society, have inherent problems. When children are told throughout their education that the least important thing they could be doing in the future is being tied down in a marriage and bringing life into the world, then that is an educational system that is promoting cultural suicide.

Can the West re-prioritize its values in time to save itself?

Does saving itself require the discipline of a theocracy?

Demography is destinity, but as another poster said, trends can change.

1/03/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I agree, Jon. I heard a very interesting interpretation of the Iliad and Odyssey on a Teaching Company lecture a few years ago and it disclosed a phenomenon I hadn't considered before. The idea was that these poems were essentially elegies to a world that had withered away due to the strain a ten year siege had put on the culture's aristocracy and, consequently, the social order. Aeschylus and the tragedians provide the denoument: Agamemnon returns to a usurper, a plotting wife and murder, a revolutionary trifecta in miniature. Recalling the interpretation of Beowulf that it elegizes the passing of pagan into Christian consciousness among the/some Danes/Germans, the Iliad and Odyssey stand as a tombstone - perhaps as the Bible stands as a powerful monument to memory for the Jews in Babylon. If I forget thee, Jerusalem.

Of course you see how the Islamic world is utterly in the grip of a pathological distortion of this sentiment; recall Naipaul's observation about, for example, Shi'a orgiastic blood & flagellation remembrances of Hussein's martyrdom.

World War I and II were the profound events. As Wallace Stevens remarked at the time (WWII) when asked why he wrote no war poems, now is the time for reality, not imagination. He of course didn't mean that in the sense that scientific innovation should cease, or battlefield tactics should remain moribund, or strategic legislation shouldn't be considered or anything else of the sort required to triumph and secure our and our allies' nations. He meant the subjective indulgance in the faculty of the imagination for the purpose of imagining alternative worlds. War is the rule of reality; thus, as a military lawyer noted last night on CSPAN, the military is above all a practical institution.

But the European belle epoque imagination - even the Baudelaire or Rimbaud variety - was completely desolated and has been unable to recover. That world truly ended. Russia was annihilated, utterly. The Chinese closed off their world, as of old, for almost 40 crucial transitional years. The former Ottoman territories have reverted to their typical controlled anarchy. This wasn't the result of capitalism or colonialism, but it was the result of war, and largely shaped by socialist activists during the interwar period aggressively exploiting the end of empire in former German, Austrian, Russian, Spanish and Ch'ing territories.

An enormous subject, not yet completed by any means, and hard to accurately blog about. But the war was the thing, and Europe has simply been unable to respond to it effectively. One wonders whether it would have been possible to do so. Somehow, I doubt it. But it was not inevitable. There are no grand historical inevitabilities, whatever the fatalists say.

One modest but effective response in the meantime, intellectually, might be the introduction of Byzantine studies into the curriculum. The parallels or at least analogues between post-war Europe and the course of Byzantine history, though sometimes obscure, are rather striking in important ways. But that probably sounds like an unsatisfying recommendation.

Sorry, too long a post.

1/03/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

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1/03/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

ardsgaine sez " When the Roman Empire made that choice in favor of theocracy, it fell."

The Roman Empire always was a state controlled religion - building temples and statues using public money. It wasn't until Constantine that they became a Christian Empire. To make the correlation between their religion and their decline is an odd one unless you are touching on pacifism of Christianity.

Rome declined for several reasons - Civil War, Inflation, using mercenary armies, Corruption, etc. When the Germans started moving east and eventually removed Augustulus Romulus in 476AD - that was the final blow that destroyed the house of cards.

Currently (European) Western Civilization suffers from lower birth rates, a decline of common morality, weakened economies, and even weaker armies. Europe may not become another Rome, but the warning signs are there.

1/03/2006 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Another comment on Rome, which recent events have rendered a merely academic subject no longer: Rome did not fall because of a change in governing ideology (disgusting word). Rome fell because of civil and external war and attendant corruption - not graft; true corruption: decadence -sustained over the rule of many emperors over 3 centuries. Civil war was almost constant prior to and after Diocletian and Constantine. But men like Vespasian and Trajan and Justinian demonstrated that the Roman core could be rallied and effectively asserted. Later Byzantine emperors like Basil and a few of the Comnenmuses and Paleogoluses demostrated a Byzantine version could also succeed. But the largest problem was the massive influx of warlike tribes - Goths, Huns, Arabs, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, Bulgars, Slavs, Avars, Khazars, Serbs, Lombards - that began in about 250 AD and accelerated virtually all the way through 1000 AD. The only major ideological difficulty that had salient consequences was only partly a religious phenomenon -- the iconolastic controversy in the 8-9th centuries - but as much a political convulsion that ennervated the empire at a couple critical moments. Ostrogorsky and Treadgold are good on this subject, among others.

1/03/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger demosophist said...

One of the things I don't quite grasp about Steyn's article is the weight he places on a shrinking worker population. The problem, I think, is just the opposite: a failure of the ownership society to keep up with automation and outsourcing. That is, more and more "work" will be done by capital rather than labor, so a declining workforce should be a problem. The problem is the concentration of capital ownership. If your only source of income is your labor, you're at a big disadvantage.

But the bottom line is that if they can solve this problem by diffusing capital ownership that can just do without the influx of immigrants.

The same thing holds for the US.

The problem isn't that liberalism is committing suicide so much as that the transition from Liberalism 2.x (with it's third way welfare state solutions) to Liberalism 3.x (with a capitalistic rather than a laboristic economy) will be traumatic.

1/03/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger demosophist said...

"That is, more and more "work" will be done by capital rather than labor, so a declining workforce should be a problem."

Er, I meant it should not be a problem. Sometimes my fingers can't keep up with my head.

1/03/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

mearstapa,

Leaving aside the destruction of Judeo-Christian values for a moment, ponder this question:

If one wanted to destroy "family values" and insure that the vast majority of the offspring that did emerge in spite of the collective pressures against their survival, which would be the fastest, surest methods to employ?

I think we have experienced the results of such efforts over the past 50 years.

Just keep raising taxes so that both spouses must work to sustain the ever-smaller family unit. Grow the task of administering the money, to be ever-more herculean.

If we suddenly discovered that the most danderous enemies of the West had planned it exactly this way, working from the inside, then would we declare it an act of treason?

1/03/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Dan and others are correct in disagreeing with Ardsgaine's thesis ("When the Roman Empire made that choice in favor of theocracy, it fell"). The choice was made for a reason -- the status quo was'nt working. Valueless, choose-your-own-God anything goes mores supported infighting (taking from each other) more than building. Constantine and his successors chose to incorporate the strengths of christian culture and it is arguable that Rome and Byzantium were sustained until their respective "official" churches became too corrupt due to state sponsorship. Note how christian culture continued to grow geographically and outlasted Rome and Constantinople. Dan's point about Byzantine studies is apropos, we could learn a lot from it. Likewise Jon and Dan regarding liberal "unbelief" in the aftermath of large scale war. It is arguable that many of the most virtuous citizens were lost in those conflicts, leaving would-be usurpers behind (see Agamemnon) and others who do not have the strength to pull Odysseus' bow.
Carridine's comments would be more relevant if he spoke to the nature of sin. Hey, readers will hardly seek a Savior when they see nothing that requires repentance...the sin cloaked in socialism is revealed by Wretchard and others as they note that the Yurps (great term, Sophia!) seek immediate gratification and will fight for nothing. Carridine, I praise God that the Lord has entered our hearts and given new life. Please try to explain to folks like Ardsgaine that Christ gives us true hope and loving strength in the face of pandemic, self-righteous sinfulness.

1/03/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

The issue the suicide of Europe should embrace the question,"Did she fall or was she pushed?"
For decades the liberal elites and the Gramscian marxists have been beavering away at the foundations of Western society.One the one hand liberalisation of the abortion laws and free contraception,without making any moral judgement here,has led to a reduced birthrate.In part this was economic,the good life has to be funded,raising children is vastly expensive,parents are responsible for their offspring's upkeep,often until the "child" is in its thirties.
Property is the the other single most expensive burden,mortgages can run beyond retirement age.
The need for children to keep parents in their old age, as is common in the third world,is negated by universal pension schemes,so children are not an immediate economic good to parents.

It has to be remembered that there were decades of miscalculation,macines were going to take away all the work,the world was on the verge of a catastrophic population explosion.Immigration was originally initiated keep wages depressed,not because of a labour shortage per se.

On the other side of the coin the Gramscians have been deliberately undermining Western institutions,education,religion,the family,patriotism and tradition.As with all revolutionaries the hand book delineates the destructive aspects of the creed but relies on faith that the self evedent superiority of Socialism will prevail,they were wrong.

The Gramscians miscalculated,they analysed the situation in a closed environment,it is not that the principle of power abhoring a vacuum was misunderstood,but that there were other more virulent strains than limp liberal socialism.

A third strand in this suicide pact was the European Union,to create a European State it was necessary,to destroy national entities and forge a new European identity,the miscalculation was that immigrants would embrace the new Europeaness,unfortunately the scope of immigration ,the largest in human history,has resulted in large groups not needing to relinquish their native identities but to form colonies.

1/03/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Florentius said...

Dan said: One modest but effective response in the meantime, intellectually, might be the introduction of Byzantine studies into the curriculum. The parallels or at least analogues between post-war Europe and the course of Byzantine history, though sometimes obscure, are rather striking in important ways. But that probably sounds like an unsatisfying recommendation.

Says who? I've been studying Byzantine history for years and find it a useful counterpoint/parallel to some of what we see going on around us today--both in Europe and America.

1/03/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Florentius said...

Dan said: Rome fell because of civil and external war and attendant corruption - not graft; true corruption: decadence -sustained over the rule of many emperors over 3 centuries.

That's exactly right. Rome persisted for so long as a result of the enormous political, economic, cultural, educational, and especially military capital they had built up over the first two imperial centuries. The third and forth centuries AD were periods where they were exhausting their built-up capital and not replenishing it. Really, the empire had no business surviving the civil wars, invasions, defeats, and partitions of the third century, AD. It was only held together by the common idea that Greco-Roman civilization was good and worth struggling for.

I have always loved this fragment of Priscus which is quite telling. (Apologies in advance for its length.) It describes the meeting of Roman ambassadors to the court of Attila with a man who had been a Roman but after suffering captivity with the Huns, had "gone native."

"He considered his new life among the Scythians better than his old life among the Romans, and the reasons he gave were as follows: 'After war the Scythians live in inactivity, enjoying what they have got, and not at all, or very little, harassed. The Romans, on the other hand, are in the first place very liable to perish in war, as they have to rest their hopes of safety on others, and are not allowed, on account of their tyrants to use arms. And those who use them are injured by the cowardice of their generals, (87) who cannot support the conduct of war. But the condition of the subjects in time of peace is far more grievous than the evils of war, for the exaction of the taxes is very severe, and unprincipled men inflict injuries on others, because the laws are practically not valid against all classes. A transgressor who belongs to the wealthy classes is not punished for his injustice, while a poor man, who does not understand business, undergoes the legal penalty, that is if he does not depart this life before the trial, so long is the course of lawsuits protracted, and so much money is expended on them. The climax of the misery is to have to pay in order to obtain justice. For no one will give a court to the injured man unless he pay a sum of money to the judge and the judge's clerks.'

"In reply to this attack on the Empire, I asked him to be good enough to listen with patience to the other side of the question. 'The creators of the Roman republic,' I said, 'who were wise and good men, in order to prevent things from being done at haphazard made one class of men guardians of the laws, and appointed another class to the profession of arms, who were to have no other object than to be always ready for battle, and to go forth to war without dread, as though to their ordinary exercise having by practice exhausted all their fear beforehand. Others again were assigned to attend to the cultivation of the ground, to support both themselves and those who fight in their defence, by contributing the military corn-supply.... To those who protect the interests of the litigants a sum of money is paid by the latter, just as a payment is made by the farmers to the soldiers. Is it not fair to support him who assists and requite him for his kindness? The support of the horse benefits the horseman.... Those who spend money on a suit and lose it in the end cannot fairly put it down to anything but the injustice of their case. And as to the long time spent on lawsuits, that is due to concern for justice, that judges may not fail in passing correct judgments, by having to give sentence offhand; it is better that they should reflect, and conclude the case more tardily, than that by judging in a hurry they should both injure man and transgress against the Deity, the institutor of justice.... (88) (272) The Romans treat their servants better than the king of the Scythians treats his subjects. They deal with them as fathers or teachers, admonishing them to abstain from evil and follow the lines of conduct whey they have esteemed honourable; they reprove them for their errors like their own children. They are not allowed, like the Scythians, to inflict death on them. They have numerous ways of conferring freedom; they can manumit not only during life, but also by their wills, and the testamentary wishes of a Roman in regard to his property are law.'

"My interlocutor shed tears, and confessed that the laws and constitution of the Romans were fair, but deplored that the governors, not possessing the spirit of former generations, were ruining the State."

1/03/2006 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger heather said...

There being an "Election" in Canada, Quebec separation came up in the conversation. Three of us are post war yuppies, whose parents were of the Depression, WWII generation. The others are 20 somethings. Anyway.

The common agreement was that we would not be upset if Quebec should separate, but as a young'un said, it would never "join up" with that neo-con USA.

Now, back to our parents' generation, the one that fought in WWII (even when it didn't look like we could win). THEIR attitude was: sure, let them go. But by "them" they meant The Quebecois PEOPLE... NOT THE REAL ESTATE. And furthermore, they were quite willing to GO TO WAR FOR THAT REAL ESTATE. Canada's real estate.

You see, in our marvellous Canada, there is no one alive (except in some Old Folks' Homes) who would lift a finger, let alone risk his life, for Canada, or even for his province, let alone his civilization, let alone any dull old Ideals or his children's future (we are very European, as Steyn says, in our demographic future.)

Too bad, eh?

1/03/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

enscout, may I restate a thought?

"The founding fathers of our government knew well the dangers of combining the government with religion."

to

'The founding fathers of our government knew well the dangers of constraining religion."

in that the institution of a state religion would preclude the practice of other religions.

Both statements are essentially the same although the first was the basis for the separation of church and state argument.

1/03/2006 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Kimball and Steyn are voicing yet again what many have predicted: the fall of Europe as we know it, quietly, and, very like the band of men on the Titanic, stoically.
There seems to be no handle to pull to close the gaping holes that allow the deadly floods to enter. There seems to be no message to deliver that will open the hearts of the disenchanted and disallusioned. There seems to be no rallying cry, no "For the Glory of God and St. George" to interrupt the parties and the sleeping.

We had best form up and learn how to profit from this spectacle of disintegration, else we are next.

For God and America!

1/03/2006 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

When I remarked the suicides struggle for life at the last, I had in mind the possible impacts on liberalism by the reality of the endgame. European liberalism is in a terrible double bind. Islamic immigration is, if nothing else, a massive influx the liberalism's foes; and its only effective defenders the people that liberalism scorns. Huge though the inheritance from the 1960s was it is spending much faster than it earns.

The first signs of the crisis are already on them. The rejection of the EU constitution, riots in France, economic stasis, impotence in the face of foreign policy challenges. When thousands of elderly French died in a heat wave I realized that the system might have very little reserve buoyancy; that the ship looked safe only in the calmest of waters. I say might, because I'm not sure.

But I'm watching. Personally I think 2006 or 2007 may be the years when the liberal enterprise is shaken so badly that it will start to lose legitimacy. For that reason, I'm less pessimistic than either Kimball or Steyn. Not that they're wrong, just that their predictions are only going to work if trends remain linear. But they won't; because societies are above all complex systems, full of emergent phenomenon.

The key challenge for policymakers is to ask themselves 'how can we prepare for a crisis in Western liberalism if it comes?' There are warnings from the now-distant past. When systems die as after the Great War terrible new faiths arise; arise because nothing sensible steps into the vacuum.

1/03/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Manning,
"There seems to be no message to deliver that will open the hearts of the disenchanted and disallusioned. There seems to be no rallying cry, no "For the Glory of God and St. George" to interrupt the parties and the sleeping."

Read my 11:26.
To achieve all this, first the Gramscians had to get rid of the rallying cry, "For the Glory of God and St. George".
Deconstruct a culture then replace it with the one you desire,unfortunately this has gone wrong.

1/03/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Peter UK,

Nevertheless, maybe the storm petrels are come. Part of the reason the Left ascribes such a diabolical cleverness to George Bush, Karl Rove and a handful of neoconservatives is that it provides an explanation for what would otherwise be incomprehensible events. To wit: why was a system capable of abandoning Vietnam incapable of halting the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? How did Bush win, not once but twice? Why did the EU constitution falter? How is Bush still in power when Nixon was hounded out on a much thinner basis? Where are the massive antiwar demonstrations? It must be because Karl Rove has made a pact with the devil, because Bill Roggio is twisting the minds of the readers, because Michael Ledeen convinced some Italian intelligence men to claim there was yellowcake in the Niger.

The neocon conspiracy explanations are too small in scale -- even if true -- to account for what's happening. In a way, the Left's fixation on President Bush is hastening the process of decline because the patient is focusing on the irrelevant, like a man with cancer worried about his zits.

1/03/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

re: florentius: 11:51

Great post.

We have at our nations core this amazing document that is its Constitution. It prevails upon all of us the ideal that all men are created equal (under its umbrella of laws).

So long as we can uphold these ideals in practice and so long as we manage to find amongst our ranks "a few good men" who will afford us leadership that will engender a trust, we should prevail.

These things, along with the hope and faith that is provided by a recognition and praise of an all-knowing benevelent God, will sustain us.

We cannot walk away shaking our heads that all is lost. As Thomas Paine wrote, "These are times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. ....yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder that conflict, the more glorius the triumph."

1/03/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

I do not agree that Western Liberalism is suicide. I do believe that Western Liberal Moral Relativism is cultural suicide. When all are equivalent, none is better. When all are equivalent, right and wrong loses significance. The inevitable consequence of this path is moral decay and societal disintegration.

That is not to mean theism is the solution, as intolerant theism will lead us only to fascism, whether it be islamofascisim of hindufascism or whatever else.

The middle path of moral tolerance, meaning there are rights and there are wrongs and while we may not expect you to be right, we certainly will not tolerate you being wrong on us.

1/03/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

wretchard:

A more apt metaphor for the behavior you describe in this sentence: "The neocon conspiracy explanations are too small in scale -- even if true -- to account for what's happening." is probably that of a drunk.

It always seems to be someone else's fault, and if everyone in the drunk's life would follow his script, his life (and everyone else's) would be perfect.

The funny thing is that this attitude imposes victimhood on the holder. To say: "I have no part in the areas of my life that aren't perfect" denies any power to change those areas. It also disrupts any sort of valuation on behavior. If the consequences I experience have no relation to my actions, then my actions have no value. This, of course, leads to the irrational (but highly rationalized) behavior that anyone with a drunk in the family can attest to.

The positions get less rational, the behavior gets more radical, and pretty soon all the honest friends are gone -- its just a bunch of people with the same problems talking each other up like drunks in a skid row bar. I'm thinking of starting a Liberals Anonymous program and holding interventions.

1/03/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

huan:

Can you have theocratic facism in a society that has multiple gods? I mean the Thug cult was as Hindu as Ghandi... I'm not sure Hindufacism is entirely feasible.

1/03/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Wretch though is it really a question for policy-makers? Isn't it rather a question of prevailing intellectual milieu? I chose not to become a professor because personally I don't see how even a Gibbon-weight entry in the You're All Ignorant Idiots class (see Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow, 1968) will make a difference. The difference between Priscus and Derrida is the difference between an oasis and a - what? A bicycle seat & handlebars called Taurus, or whatever it is. And it strikes me that policymakers are necessarily beholden to the agitprop groups that harass their borders and impress (i.e. conscript, but I intend the pun) their youth between the ages of 15 - 20, Ottoman style. And these are the agenda-makers. Really it's accomplished by a form, or several forms, of coercion, since there is little institutional cache for a good, hard humanities point of view and education, despite the fact that it is certainly not extinct.

For example, I'm not sure whether it was refuted but I heard shortly after the EU rejection votes that in France at least the measure was defeated by those who ascribe not to a healthy Anglo-American suspicion of creeping tyranny but a suspicion that it was an Anglo-American Trojan horse.

Now, that sounded rather unlikely to me until I studied pre- and interwar European politics, but it does not appear unlikely anymore, particularly where the republican habit is proportional representation, not winner take all. I agree that these social science type analyses generally fail to be reliably predictive more than a couple generations in the future because of the complexity of the forces involved and the impossibility of perfect information, let alone perfect comprehension, but Kimball and Steyn, I think, believe this thing has moved from the bloodstream - deadly enough - into the very marrow. Nor is Spengler, in my opinion, correct: his morphological perspective is too arrogant - there's nothing necessary in the great arc of Western (an incoherent concept to begin with - it's just a palimpsest) development that consigns us in our particular era to our inevitable end. But what people believe is crucial. It isn't merely the burden of tax schemes and blandishments of pension and healthcare that mute the desire for family. That can presumably, if painfully, be corected over time. But what if it's not cool to have kids? What if its cooler to remain a 20 year old until you're 35, and then raise your kids like captive friends rather than as wards? What if underpinning it all is a discourse - useful word - whose content is a collection of ever-expanding, increasingly elliptical variations on a theme of egocentrism, resulting in a strange, paradoxical collective solipsism - and that this is the nature of our nihilism?

Bah. Too abstract. In any case, look at hip-hop. It's literally nothing but a symptom.

1/03/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

oh i see huan made this point in the interim - carry on huan!

1/03/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

Steyn's piece (which, like most of his stuff, is largely recycled from previous articles he's written -- literally recycled, I mean, with passages lifted wholesale from his earlier articles) is a rather good example of the most important pathology of our time: the exploitation of 9/11 for political purposes.

After 9/11, many people tried to exploit the tragedy to advance their own political ends. Liberals tried, but having little power, were unsuccessful. Conservatives were more successful at using 9/11 as an excuse to advance policies that they'd been pushing for years. The Iraq War was an example of that: it had nothing to do with 9/11; the rationale for it was a pre-9/11 rationale; but tying it to 9/11 was a convenient way to get it done.

All Steyn's articles are basically variations on the theme that the post-9/11 world proves that all his favored policies -- no matter how remote they may seem from the issue at hand -- are right and the only hope for civilization. His argument that government health care "enfeebles" citizens and makes them ill-equipped to deal with the threats The West faces is an example of that. It's complete nonsense -- relying on insurance companies and employers for health care is far more enfeebling than a decent, citizen-empowering system like that of the average European country. But he doesn't like socialized health care, so he uses the post-9/11 world as an excuse to claim that his favored policies are correct.

Steyn and Kimball and many of the other contributors to the New Criterion are essentially cynics, trying to use the threat of Islamic terrorism to push policies that they used to push for completely different reasons. Islamism is the pretext, not the reason. (Do liberals do this too? Sure; they did it after Katrina, especially, where the hurricane was used as "proof" that liberal policies must be implemented right now or we'll all die.)

Fortunately, many if not most people refuse to give up their way of life in fear of the Muslim hordes. The courage and resolution shown by New Yorkers -- who were attacked and promptly returned to the liberal, multi-cultural way of life they like best -- is a splendid contrast with the cowardly alternative pushed by cynical conservatives: give up on liberalism or the Muslims will kill you.

Cultural liberalism is my way of life; it is the way of life that I see as best and truest to Western tradition (the PC excesses of some university profs notwithstanding, liberal political correctness is not nearly as dangerous to the West's traditions as today's increasingly pervasive right-wing political correctness). Even if it was true that white women need to have more babies to fend off the Muslim hordes, as Steyn keeps insisting -- he's wrong and ignorant of what it takes for a society to survive, but let's say, hypothetically, that he was right -- I will never give up on the fundamental value that says that the State has no right to force women to reproduce, or that people should be free to live the lives they like best as long as they do not hurt anyone. I will not give up on these values due to fear of Islamism; that would be the act of a coward. And liberals are not cowards.

This is not "moral relativism," this is morality: my morality, in which I believe absolutely. Conservatives are the moral relativists these days, willing to give up on their supposed core beliefs (such as freedom from government intrusion) if it helps Bush or gets a few extra wars started. I stand proudly against moral relativism, against Bush's big government, against Kimball and Steyn's shallow, stunted, distorted caricature of Western culture, against fear and cowardice. I stand for what is best about Western civilization and Western tradition: liberalism.

Does liberalism mean the death of the West? No, but even if it did, anything but liberalism means the West is already dead.

1/03/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

m.a.:

Please do relate some examples of these "Right p.c." incidences. I'm fascinated at the idea.

1/03/2006 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

haun:

Nobody can dispute the fact that all men are NOT created equally. The very idea is a corruption natural law and is the core problem with communism and socialism.

We are made as unique individuals, differing by degree in talents and abilities.

By making that statement I am not at odds with the Constitutional ideal of men being treated equally by law. Something that neither communism, socialism nor tyranny can guarantee. I should say that our system is not perfect but it at least does attempt some objective standard of protection.

A major problem I have with the postmodern left is that, in order to survive, it cannot allow itself to be exposed for what it truly is, which is a corruption of liberal application of law. They call themselves liberal although they are nothing of the sort. It is as close to fasciism as anything.

Their double standards have to be cloaked in some way so as to give the impression that they know the secret perscription to all that ails us. Abortion (murder of an innocent unborn human) is tolerated because it represents freedom (from resposibility)& choice for the femminist. Death for cold-blooded murderers of innocents, however can't be tolerated. That would be playing God and be judgemental.

Under this ambivilence and moral subjectivism up becomes down, red becomes blue and all the pretzel logic and vitriol they spew is right and everything else is wrong simply because they say so. To not allow them that would be mean-spirited which should get us thrown in jail long enough 'till their memory runs out.

1/03/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

Please do relate some examples of these "Right p.c." incidences. I'm fascinated at the idea.

Well, part of it is anecdotal. When I was at several different universities, in the late '90s and early '00s (I was doing several degrees; I wasn't kicked out), the left-wing P.C. craze had more or less run its course. There were some remnants of it, but in general the professors were embarrassed about the P.C. excesses that had been reported, and tried to avoid excessive political correctness. I was more conservative then than I am now, and I often brought up conservative ideas (e.g. what's so bad about Kipling's imperialism) and was treated with respect by professors and fellow students. The most politically-correct people I met on campus were the conservative professors, who dismissed, shouted down or refused to engage with any idea to their left. And because there had not been a backlash against conservative political correctness, there was nothing to make them feel ashamed of this.

As to non-anecdotal evidence, the conservative reaction to Spielberg's Munich is a good example: much of the criticism is classic P.C. in that it condemns the film for raising certain issues (about killing, about terrorism, etc.) without ever engaging with those issues, and treats these issues as beyond the pale. Spielberg's movie may have some liberal P.C. elements, but the conservative P.C.-ness of the criticism is much stronger. Alicublog has a good rundown of this point as well as a review of the film that criticizes it while seriously engaging with it.

Outraged conservative reaction to the term "happy holidays" is another example of conservative P.C. Again, sometimes "happy holidays" is a left-wing P.C. term, but more often (certainly in my experience) it's just good manners, something you say to someone if you don't know what religion they are. Conservatives (apparently opponents of good manners) declared the term "happy holidays" politically incorrect.

And of course, replying to criticisms of the Iraq war by calling someone pro-Saddam or accusing them of not supporting the troops is definitely a P.C. sort of thing (trying to stop discussion through an appeal to emotion).

I suppose that what I am saying is that a lot of what conservatives consider opposition to political correctness is in fact political correctness of a conservative stripe. Liberal professors who shouted down their students for daring to raise inconvenient questions about race, gender and religion are now supplanted by conservative pundits who try to shout people down for... raising inconvenient questions about race, gender and religion. Except the conservative pundits have actual political influence (or at least think they do), and are more dangerous.

I'm not saying that liberal campus P.C. wasn't a problem. But, the Ward Churchill types notwithstanding, the problem is lessening. Pop-culture now has all kinds of material that offends liberal P.C. ("South Park," "Chappelle's Show") and even liberals love it. Liberal P.C. is dying out. Conservative P.C. is on the rise.

1/03/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/03/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

"Does liberalism mean the death of the West? No, but even if it did, anything but liberalism means the West is already dead."

Was there ever a better description of a monoculture or established religion? Was there a West before liberalism? Can there be a West after liberalism? No and no. There cannot if Liberalism and the West are one and the same.

The demise of liberalism won't mean a return to the some earlier era, where everyone will go back to watching Father Knows Best. It will simply end the artificial timeout which sees liberalism as the End of History. History hasn't ended which means liberalism in its current form must change or perish.

1/03/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

What's Wrong with Europe?

Europe has drifted from it's Judaeo-Christian moorings and embraced The 'great' liberal thinkers of the 19th century, atheists and humanists such as Nietzsche (the father of nihilism) who said life has no meaning, therefore man should be courageous. Nietzsche believed man's spirit had been crushed by Judaeo-Christan weakness and that supermen were needed to create a new society based on existential heroes. Admiring Nietzsche, Adolf Hitler became that hero and the devastation of Europe resulted.

The 19th century saw a multitude of new/old liberal 'isms.(human, secular, relative, etc) coincident with the end of the European"Golden Era," and turn of the century anarchists. Europe suffered through the Great War, Communism, the great depression, the rise of Adolph Hitler, Nazis, World War II, and Marshall Plan enabled socialism. Socialist society turned secular and each succeeding generation moved farther from the moral foundations of the Bible. Into this vacuum crept the old pagan "false religions" of humanism, environmentalism, relativism, pantheism, and hedonism, etc. As a result, birthrates plummeted and immigration rose dramatically. Unfortunately, not being as egalitarian as America, they have failed to assimilate a large population of immigrants, particularly Muslims. Now disenfranchised Muslim youth rebelling against the secular society are turning to crime and fundamental Islam. Islamists will not tolerate a secular society therefore it stands to reason that Europe will undergo a tremendous upheaval in the coming years. Given their history of appeasement, it appears that the European future is one of dhimmitude and submission.
Possibly too late, the Europeans are recoqnizing the problem. European reaction and correction will depend on their perception of the Islamic threat. If the threat is viewed as exitential by enough people, Europe as we know it, may survive. If the Islamists maintain a low level of hostility and wage a high level demographic onslaught, Europe will be die like a lobster boiling in pot.

1/03/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

The demise of liberalism won't mean a return to the some earlier era, where everyone will go back to watching Father Knows Best.

"Father Knows Best" was a good show. Particularly on the radio, where father was more of a buffoon. It was part of the liberal tradition of questioning and satirizing established family norms (in this case, the "traditional" family was shown in a good light, but the father was shown not to be perfect or all-wise).

It will simply end the artificial timeout which sees liberalism as the End of History. History hasn't ended which means liberalism in its current form must change or perish.

Liberalism is changing. (The decrease in liberal political correctness is one example of that, albeit one that conservatives don't want to acknowledge or notice.) But conservatives don't want liberalism to change; they want to get rid of liberalism. I believe wishy-washy liberal values are fundamental to the survival of the West; conservatives consider those same values to be a recipe for suicide. That's fine for them, but obviously I have different goals than they do, and I won't accept their advice on how to be a better, tougher liberal, when what they really want is for me to be a coward and give up the fundamental moral values I believe in. (It's a bit like those conservatives who advise Democrats to be more hawkish and talk less about social justice -- in other words, to stop being Democrats in all but name. Never take advice from people who despise what you stand for, Dems.)

1/03/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Wretchard,
The Gramscian left has one great achievement,the disconnect between ancient peoples and their homelands.fifty years ago there would not have been a discussion ofthe banning of our cultural icons lest they gave offence, let alone the slaughter on our streets.That is how for we have gone.

1/03/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

m.a. says:

"Conservatives are the moral relativists these days, willing to give up on their supposed core beliefs (such as freedom from government intrusion) if it helps Bush or gets a few extra wars started. I stand proudly against moral relativism, against Bush's big government, against Kimball and Steyn's shallow, stunted, distorted caricature of Western culture, against fear and cowardice. I stand for what is best about Western civilization and Western tradition: liberalism."

True that the Republican leadership in the evecutive and legislative branches have become pro-big government and more "liberal" if that's how you define it.

I would call it a new pragmetism that may be just as dangerous. It's all about politics and winning elections - staying in power - wooing the electorate. Washington may be the last place in the world to find a truly principled trustworthy leader.

In the eighties, I commented that John F Kennedy woulld scarcely recognize the Democratic establishment of today.

Today I say that the Republican establishment has become so pragmatic that it has displaced the left leaners.

Where ya gonna go?

1/03/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I wonder sometimes if Europe’s enervation is less due to the trauma inflicted by the world wars than by the “Spirit Drain” due to the creation of colonies, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. All of those countries were started – and occasionally refreshed – by people who got disgusted with Europe and left. This process is still going on - and not just in Europe. Across the street from me lives a man from Liverpool with his wife, whose parents came from Italy in the early 1970’s.

It is sometimes difficult to imagine the current citizens of the United States emulating our pioneers, and it is even more difficult to imagine the current occupants of Europe winning a raw and untamed continent.

What are the long term effects of not only wars that destroy so much of a country’s bravest youth but also the fact that options exist that enable the more spirited to just chuck the whole nonsense and leave for greener pastures?

1/03/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Please try to explain to folks like Ardsgaine that Christ gives us true hope and loving strength in the face of pandemic, self-righteous sinfulness."

Y'know, Evanston, I can't even explain to people like you, that I love "the RIGHTEOUSNESS that is Christ". I say righteousness and you hear Jesus. I try again, saying "the righteousness that is Christ", hoping to help you see, but too often you turn back to your fixation on Jesus, ignoring the importance of "righteousness that is Christ", in part because you wait for "Jesus" return.

But I accept the return of "the righteousness that is Christ", in His New Name (Rev2:17), with followers having His New Name (Rev 3:12).

You "scoff and deny our Lord who redeems us" has returned, even when I point out to you that OUR HOLY SCRIPTURE, IIPeter 2:1, warns us that to 'scoff and deny' is a damnable heresy! Evanston, "damnable heresy"!

I'm not scoffing and I'm not denying our Lord has returned. "For those who love His coming, He shall return", for those who want to find reasons to deny His return, its as if He never returned at all...

But if He IS Who He says He is, then it matters not if some don't believe, for He shows forth 'the righteousness that is Christ', albeit in the human form which was born in 1813 and died in 1892, whether I believe in Him or not.

And that leads to sin: He tells us many directives and guides, any of which serve to save us from 'missing the mark', as 'sin' means.

O Emigrants!
The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth this own self better than he knoweth others.

And pertinent to the MACRO- view of this thread vis-a-vis Western civilization:

O Oppressors On Earth!
Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed it with My glory.

1/03/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

Good old Dr. Jack Kevorkian embodies this liberal nihilistic embracing of suicide. Isn't it strange and disturbing then that the few things liberals believe in with vim and vigor are so persistently destructive? I doubt that Dr. Jack would be in jail if he had confined his "good works" to within the EU. No, rather he would be proclaimed Hero of The Netherlands.

1/03/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not Even Dr. Jack could vanquish the worms.
Tiny worms survive shuttle crash
Miniscule research worms kept in special aluminum canisters aboard the doomed space shuttle Columbia survived after plunging from the spacecraft and hitting the ground with an impact 2,295 times the force of Earth's gravity, according to a research paper in December's issue of the journal Astrobiology (click here for PDF).

1/03/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"After 9/11, many people tried to exploit the tragedy to advance their own political ends. Liberals tried, but having little power, were unsuccessful. Conservatives were more successful at using 9/11 as an excuse to advance policies that they'd been pushing for years."

a) What did liberals try?
b) 9/11 proves the Project for the New American Century correct. We landed in Iraq for the same strategic reason we declared war on Germany and landed in North Africa and Sicily. The problem is not a discrete group, but an Islamic world undergoing the same kind of struggle in slow motion that flowed from the end of every empire in the world. Review your history, liberal.

"But he doesn't like socialized health care, so he uses the post-9/11 world as an excuse to claim that his favored policies are correct."

Steyn invokes 9/11 in these discussions because liberal reaction has been so obtuse and ideological that it provides clear illumination of a mindset that cannot look further into the future than one's own happiness. European healthcare will collapse under its current demography, debt and economy without a shift to more Anglo-Saxon policies. I think that's pretty widely acknowledged outside the EU bureaucracy. Moreover, it makes sense.

"Steyn and Kimball and many of the other contributors to the New Criterion are essentially cynics, trying to use the threat of Islamic terrorism to push policies that they used to push for completely different reasons."

See the above response. Kimball in particular is concerned with the crap that passes for art - and oh, it is crap, unredeemably, period - and again points to post-9/11 liberal reaction - which has been way left of where it was prior to it - as a demonstration of its point. You clearly do not appreciate the depth of the perversity that cannot understand a) the threat of the jihad and b) the civilizational rot from which it emanates (hint: it isn't because the post-colonialists are right). It is repeated endlessly in virtually every respect that Kimball describes. If you want to talk about a party with no power at all, try conservative artist (a la Ingre, lest ye think it doesn't exist) or conservative art critic.

"After 9/11, many people tried to exploit the tragedy to advance their own political ends. Liberals tried, but having little power, were unsuccessful. Conservatives were more successful at using 9/11 as an excuse to advance policies that they'd been pushing for years."

a) What did liberals try?
b) 9/11 proves the Project for the New American Century correct. We landed in Iraq for the same strategic reason we declared war on Germany and landed in North Africa and Sicily. The problem is not a discrete group, but an Islamic world undergoing the same kind of struggle in slow motion that flowed from the end of every empire in the world. Review your history, liberal.

"But he doesn't like socialized health care, so he uses the post-9/11 world as an excuse to claim that his favored policies are correct."

Steyn invokes 9/11 in these discussions because liberal reaction has been so obtuse and ideological that it provides clear illumination of a mindset that cannot look further into the future than one's own happiness. First, I don't think you understand Europe beyond its PR. Second, European healthcare will collapse under its current demography, debt and economy without a shift to more Anglo-Saxon policies. I think that's pretty widely acknowledged outside the EU bureaucracy. Moreover, it makes sense.

"Steyn and Kimball and many of the other contributors to the New Criterion are essentially cynics, trying to use the threat of Islamic terrorism to push policies that they used to push for completely different reasons."

See the above response. They do push them for completely different reasons, of course; the magazine probably never mentioned Islamic terrorism or jihad in the 10 years it's been in print. Kimball in particular is concerned with the crap that passes for art - and oh, it is crap, unredeemably, period - and again points to post-9/11 liberal reaction - which has been way left of where it was prior to it - as a demonstration of certain of his points. You clearly do not appreciate the depth of the perversity that cannot understand a) the threat of the jihad and b) the civilizational rot from which it emanates (hint: it isn't because the post-colonialists are right). It is repeated endlessly in virtually every respect that Kimball describes. If you want to talk about a party with no power at all, try conservative artist (a la Ingre, lest ye think it doesn't exist) or conservative art critic.

"Fortunately, many if not most people refuse to give up their way of life in fear of the Muslim hordes."

No one is willing to give up his "way of life" to prevent "the Muslim hordes" from taking over. I don't think Muslim hordes taking over is really a consideration in the US, in reality or in its citizens' imaginations. It was also very unlikley Communism would take over here. Not so, in either case, with Europe. Likely you will see an attempt in Europe in the near future of a Islamo-compromise the way it had to compromise with its own socialists and Bolsheviks since about 1789.

"Cultural liberalism is my way of life; it is the way of life that I see as best and truest to Western tradition."

Your "tradition" is about 40 years old, and largely false; liberals get hippies, birth control, sexual revolution. They do not get the civil rights movement. Besides, there were no hippies until after its real heroic phase was over anyway. I'd say that's pretty myopic - almost downright ideological, no? But "liberalism"'s negative aspects most people have little problem with or in any case have no success in curbing - most people want to and will do what they want. It's the positive proscriptions that derive from socialism, not Liberalism, and form the basis of PC, that conservatives hate.

...etc....

"When I was at several different universities, in the late '90s and early '00s (I was doing several degrees; I wasn't kicked out), the left-wing P.C. craze had more or less run its course."

I graduated from college in 1999. You are just flat out completely wrong. And it hasn't "passed" yet, it's just that they've been paying slightly more lip-service, due to alumni and public pressure (old farts who give money, tons of folks), to at least mildly acknowledging that they live in an ideological ghetto. C'mon.

"I will never give up on the fundamental value that says that the State has no right to force women to reproduce, or that people should be free to live the lives they like best as long as they do not hurt anyone."

Free to live the lives they like as long as they do not hurt anyone is exactly the point - what do you think conservatives' defense of the Second Amendment is about, anyway? So gangbangers can have Mac-10s and dope rims? C'mon. And no one wants to force women to breed, they want to limit their access to abortions out of respect for the potential person. How is aborting a baby "not hurting anyone else"? Even the majority opinion in Roe noted that this is not a simple matter of privacy because it involves at least a potential life; nor has any state ever enacted a law prohibiting the victims of rape and incest from getting them. But Roe is law, has been upheld something like 30 times, and is in little danger of being overturned. And even if it is overturned, then it will be left to individual states - that is, voters - to decide.

1/03/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Seems to me there are two fallacies in most of these arguments:

(1) The "West" and "Europe" are not one and the same thing. I have absolutely no problem with Europe going belly-up and am, indeed, personally nudging that conglomeration of pseudo-superiority over the edge with every opportunity I get. But I think "the West" can equally be defined as America /Canada /Australia (in addition to Britain which may be a survivor of Yurp's downfall) and these countries are all in the rudest of health and brimming with vigor. (Well, Canada's a little peaked, but I think it could be brought back to life if we hooked it up to the right energy infusion systems.)

2. Fallacy the Second: Why must change be seen as annihilation rather than evolution? Don't we *want* to change and expand to a different state? Again, I don't see that leaving cob-webby Yurp behind is going to be that big a deal. Personally, I'm tired of the "clash of civilizations" and would like to start a push to go Out There, and leave the Muslims and the Democrats here on earth to fight it out among themselves.

It seems to me the *real* fear is not the death of "the West" but that crazy Muslims will somehow get their grubby paws on left-over nuclear toys and come after us. We can fend them off in all other ways -- physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, scientifically -- even if there are only three or four big countries of us, and that's leaving out India, Africa and South America who might want to be part of the change(s) and not necessarily on the side of the Islamists. (I leave out Russia and China because they're nuts and can't be predicted or depended upon.)

I think if Steyn wants to be pie-in-the-sky predicting Armageddon, an argument could be equally well made that if what we're doing isn't working -- i.e., no one wants to be tied down with babies any more -- then we need to change it. We certainly have the technology to do that.

1/03/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Ardsgaine brings up the dread secularist boogie man:conservatives (or at least Christian conservatives) want to start a theocracy a la Islam.Where's the empirical evidence of that?There's a great difference between entering the marketplace of ideas from a Biblical worldview and critiquing culture and forcibly subjecting non-believers to a theocratic tyranny like in the Islamic world.
Contrary to theocracy being the undoing of Rome,Christianity was probably the most useful catalyst in preserving Rome a few more centuries as it rotted from within.
Carridine,if your ideas are not taken seriously maybe its because you advocate strict adherence to the tenets of an esoteric cult that rejects the Judeo Christian narrative in favor of Bahaiism.
One difference between immigrants solving demographic dilemmas in Europe and America is the flotsam and jetsam of Islam who are washing ashore in Europe are largely unassimiliable and dangerous whereas the bulk of Hispanics coming here only desire a better life.A sensible and balanced immigration reform here could benefit our country.

1/03/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Will rayford: I doubt that Dr. Jack would be in jail if he had confined his "good works" to within the EU. No, rather he would be proclaimed Hero of The Netherlands.

I was just thinking that. Now, if we could just send Dr. Jack Kevorkian to Europe... then to the Middle East ... and even to OBL's hide out.

1/03/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

If you want to talk about a party with no power at all, try conservative artist (a la Ingre, lest ye think it doesn't exist) or conservative art critic.

Well, there are good conservative artists and good conservative art critics, but they tend not to let their politics rule their art or criticism, just as good liberal artists and critics tend to be the open-minded ones who don't politicize or preach.

Kimball is nothing like that; he's a flat-out Stalinist critic who judges all art by its ideology. The most recent example of that was his piece on Harold Pinter, where he wrote that Pinter is an evil left-winger and therefore he is of no consequence as a playwright. (A more sensible conservative critic, Terry Teachout, criticized Pinter's politics and then moved on to discussing his plays in a serious manner.)

Steyn has become a lot like that too, essentially dismissing movies and plays because they don't agree with his ideology or because they seem to have "liberal" messages encoded within them. Again, this is no different from the Stalinist critics of the '30s who judged everything by its usefulness to the Cause.

Almost any "liberal" college professor I ever had was more tolerant and open-minded than these Zhadnovite hacks. Again, conservative P.C. is the bigger threat to the arts these days.

1/03/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

But Mr. m.a, doesn't art express the inner message of the artist? If his inner message is crap, then so is his art.

1/03/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

Nahncee, EYE care about Europe's fate, it is a terrible thing to watch a whole civilization collapse. OK, the Cathedrals are really not much more than museums, and apparently some of the Bishops believe that the Apostles' Creed is baloney. Tolkien, with his description of a landscape dotted with ruins, is more prescient than he wanted to be.

And m.c., you may think ideas may be marching to the Right at the Universities, but I have 3 nieces/nephews who are in college, or very recent graduates - and boy are they Left Wing. (I managed to slip the news about how Noam Chomsky gets his salary from the Pentagon, my niece was INSULTED that I would tell her that, and is convinced I get my info from some sort of swamp...)

As to abortion and feminism. After 30 years, the latter seems to have boiled down to the "right to Choose", ie to have an abortion whenever it is not convenient to have a child. That - after 4 years of war - some millions of women in Afghanistan are voting, and going to school; and more millions of Iraqi women are voting is simply not important to the Feminist Movement. Bush remains Bush-hitler in their minds. The Vagina Monologues (an excercise in Lesbian insanity) is shown throughout the universities on this continent to approving audiences.

As a former "Feminist", I have to say this is DISGUSTING.

1/03/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

But Mr. m.a, doesn't art express the inner message of the artist? If his inner message is crap, then so is his art.

No. I love and respect the works of lots of people whose politics, religious beliefs or social attitudes were horrible in one way or another. A good artist transcends his own ideology. A good critic should do the same.

heather said...
You may think ideas may be marching to the Right at the Universities, but I have 3 nieces/nephews who are in college, or very recent graduates - and boy are they Left Wing.

Yes, the students were left wing at every university I attended, too -- but it was never the result of indoctrination by the professors. Hell, the freshmen were often the most left-wing of all. There was a lot of Chomsky fandom among my classmates, yet Chomsky was not taught or referred to by the professors.

The campus leftism came from other factors. For one thing, kids at that age start to become more suspicious of power -- government power and corporate power. Leftist writers like Chomsky answer those suspicions by telling them why they shouldn't trust government or corporations. Conservative writers these days have some things to say about not trusting the government (though conservatives now are much more pro-government than they once were), but not as much, and they tend to ignore or dismiss the issue of corporate power.

If conservatives were more willing to attack big corporations, they might get more college-age readers -- and there's no reason why conservatives shouldn't attack big corporations. Daniel Bell once explained that the reason he broke with Irving Kristol was that Kristol kept talking about how liberals were sapping the moral fabric of the country, but completely ignored the bad moral example provided by the behavior of big corporations. Corporations, necessary though they may be, encourage license, quick-fix thinking, and many of the social ills that plague us today. If conservatives would engage with these issues, they could stand a better chance of winning over college kids who tend to be very concerned with these issues (though of course they all wind up working for corporations, in the belly of the beast).

That - after 4 years of war - some millions of women in Afghanistan are voting, and going to school; and more millions of Iraqi women are voting is simply not important to the Feminist Movement.

The Afghan war was mostly supported by liberals (I know, I know, some guy from Moveon.org didn't like the war, therefore all liberals are evil peaceniks). The situation for women's rights in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam, so I'm not going to consider this a point in Bush's favor.

There's this idea that "real" liberals would support some Bush policy. The fact is, "real" liberals can't support even well-intentioned Bush policies because we believe his administration is incompetent and cares more about political gain than actually succeeding. If it was a president I considered competent -- like Bush's father, or, lord help us, even Nixon (evil, but competent) -- I might be more amenable to some of the same policies. Though the Iraq war wouldn't be one of them (since it was not in America's interest and has helped Iran and the Islamists).

1/03/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

m.a., how is it that you think inverting the basic liberal critique of Steyn and Kimball amounts to a counterargument? Or are you big fan of Aids poetry, piss-christ, "spoken word" poetry that is invariably full of left-ideological platitudes, john cage's non-music, movies that are about some obvious liberal or democratic platform (and Syriana, Brokeback Mountain, The Interpreter - virtually any drama not based on a CS Lewis book; they even managed to liberalize Tolkein), Marxist historians like Eric Hobsbawm dominating post-Revolutionary historiography, Derrida and Foucault eclipsing Sartre, the nearly legendary status of anarchist agit-propagandists like Noam Chomsky, a basically unanimous big Hollywood left sympathy, The New York Times and New Yorker - these are the dominant things, organs and personalities of the current liberal mind, and they are complete one-liner ideological crap. I could write at least dozens of representatives that have absolutely no conservative equal except as the emeritus old professors marginalized in their palatial offices. Even the old ones are left-dominated; I never even knew what it was that I disliked so many specific things until I started reading The New Criterion a couples years after college. I thought it was me. But the emptiness of these things compared to most of the stuff The New Criterion's critics tune one into is obvious and damning of the former. I agree they get tendentious and curmudgeonly at times, but the question is not "who is nicer" but "which side champions the great and which fails to recognize it." And give me a break, even if you ever had a conservative professor unless you were at Bob Jones University or Anapolis I doubt any professor ever treated you in any manner remotely Stalinist of even the political cartoon variety. The issue is that the curriculum comes pre-packaged, the authors selected for their engagement with the latest academic preoccupations that the professors learned in graduate school. For almost 40 years, you're telling me you think it's the *conservatives* who have dominated the academy? Sorry, somehow I suspect you're a troll because you can't be serious.

1/03/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

ma and dan:

A conservative artist is engaged in an entirely different enterprise that what is the mode today. Dan is right; conservative artists and art critics have no power at all in our great cities and universities. They are considered beyond the pale--not serious. Representational art has been junked--in favor of what? Modern art is unredeemable crap because it is in service and expression of nothing larger than the artist himself, his persona, his "ideas," his concepts, etc. Of course that leads to work that is small in spirit.

Like I said, it is a different enterprise that what went on before. There is a grand inheritance in art, as in music, the sciences, writing--and the inheritance of centuries of representational art, for which men and women far better than ourselves gave their lives, they studied and practiced and cared about it and taught it and wrote about it and passed it on--almoste entirely gone. Gone in favor of the sort of preening we see in artists today. It is an enterprise that I do not wish to be associated with.

You can check out my blog to see the sort of art that I am trying to learn how to do. Fortunately there are a few die hards left.

1/03/2006 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

One of the confusions I have about the suicide of Western Civilization is the suicide of Japanese civilization.

Japan is not western, not by a long shot, even though it's had 60 years of strong Western influence. It doesn't have the same Christian tradition, nor has it abandoned it; its Left doesn't have the multiculturalism that plagues the West.

And yet, Japan is committing suicide in similar ways: demography, in particular, but also in how domestic terrorism is spilling out of the nihilism of its children.

The serin gas attack in the subway is an excellent example of this. A strong minority of youth, feeling fear and confusion, turned so far inward that they felt only a cult could save them. Their need for relevance, for meaning led them to want to murder their own. The response to the gas attack is almost as shocking: a complete lack of interest in confronting the Enemy Within. (For a fantastic book on this subject, read "Underground", by Haruki Murakami, a book that is essentially a collection of interviews with victims and perpetrators.)

Why is Japan committing suicide, too? It's not from the Left; it's not from "diversity" or "tolerance".

Is this level of fear, self loathing, and nihilism in the 20 and 30 somethings of the world today really higher than it was in the Lost generation, or any other generation? Is something different? or is it merely they now have access to methods of domestic terrorism like never before?

Is there something more common here that causes Japan (and Korea) as well as the West to be committing suicide?

1/03/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

m.a., how is it that you think inverting the basic liberal critique of Steyn and Kimball amounts to a counterargument?

Because they don't just bash left-wing propaganda art; they bash anything that they think has a left-wing slant. They scour through movies, plays, books, paintings, looking for whether it has the "right" message or not. And if it doesn't, that's all the proof you need that it's no good. Again, this is very similar to the Stalinist critics of the '30s, except from a different political perspective. And if you really think a movie like Brokeback Mountain is merely a front for a liberal/democratic platform, you have a very reductive attitude to art. I mean, I don't screem "eek" whenever I see an old Western that portrays Indians as barbaric savages. I love all kinds of art that embodies political/social attitudes I don't like. But all the right's neo-Stalinists can see in art is a vehicle for the "right" or "wrong" political messages.

If you like the New Criterion, that's fine. I personally find that most of its essays have always consisted primarily of plot summary followed by an attack on the author for not having the correct political views. There were some exceptions, but many of them are no longer with the magazine, e.g. Bruce Bawer.

For almost 40 years, you're telling me you think it's the *conservatives* who have dominated the academy?

No, I didn't say that. I said that the conservative professors were more politically-correct and intolerant of opposing views than the liberal professors. I didn't say they "dominated" the academy. Thank goodness they did not.

I will add, however, that some of my professors were right-of-center and tolerant and open. They were, however, the ones who were more likely to see the virtues in "liberal" art than a Roger Kimball ever would. They were, in other words, conservatives who believed that art is separate from ideology, unlike Kimball, who believes in rentlessly politicizing the arts.

1/03/2006 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger M.A. said...

Representational art has been junked--in favor of what? Modern art is unredeemable crap because it is in service and expression of nothing larger than the artist himself, his persona, his "ideas," his concepts, etc. Of course that leads to work that is small in spirit.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but that is exactly what the Stalinist critics used to say about abstract art. They said that non-representational art was bourgeois formalism and that "real" art was art that was about something (some political message about the masses, usually). Tim Robbins even incorporated a conspiracy-theorized version of this into a movie, where he posits that the rise of abstract art was a plot by the big corporations to marginalize representational art.

Now, I'm not calling you a Stalinist, because you aren't. But the point is, there's nothing at all "conservative" about preferring representational art to abstract art. The arts don't fit neatly into political categories.

1/03/2006 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

While religion plays a large part in preventing population decline I can’t help how much of the problem is built into the social welfare system? Before social insecurity one reason for a large family was to avoid overburdening any one child in your old age, social insecurity circumvents that because the government will take care of you. Of course for their Ponzi scheme to do that it needs pyramid structured demographics, but now no one feels the needs to play their part.

1/03/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

The political labels of "liberal" and "conservative" do not have much meaning anymore. Liberal ideology was clear cut in 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt first invented it. Back then, a liberal could call himself a "progressive" and was really promoting social progress. However since 1933, there's been a leftward drift in American politics. What was considered "left wing" in 1933 is now mainstream politics. It's no wonder that a former Trotskiite like Christopher Hitchens can act like he's in his comfort zone. He's been slowly shifting to the right while the system slowly shifted left and now he's almost mainstream.

What we now call a "liberal" is really a misnomer. The present day "liberal" insists on being 3-sigma to the left of the bell curve's peak no matter where that peak is on the political spectrum. The self styled modern "progressive" is digging through history's trash can for ideology that was rejected 40 years ago (they've run out a new ideas!).

Now comes the ultimate irony: Is not the modern liberal really a "conservative" since they're opposed to new ideas in politics?

Such labels make no sense to me. Better to simply call them "moonbats".

1/03/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Dan,
"nd give me a break, even if you ever had a conservative professor unless you were at Bob Jones University or Anapolis I doubt any professor ever treated you in any manner remotely Stalinist of even the political cartoon variety"

What does that mean?

1/03/2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Allison,

Not only Japan, but China, with it's one child policy, is courting demographic disaster. And Russia is possibly in the worst state of all. Very few of Kimball's liberal antinomies can be invoked in those settings, although Steyn's idea that making child-raising uneconomical retains its applicability.

What distinguishes Japan from Europe is the presence of labor sources like the Philippines whose immigrants tend to behave somewhat differently from North Africans and Middle Eastern immigrants to Europe. As practical matter there won't be any cars burned on New Year's Eve in Japan by Filipino "youths".

What's unclear is whether China or Japan, should they one day decide that demographic renewal is in the national interest, will not resurrect it's birthrate in a determined manner. After all, if you can implement a "one child" policy with an iron hand, you can probably implement a "three child" policy. In this sense, neither China nor Japan has 'lost' its will to live or preserve their culture.

Steyn is suggesting that Europe is different: it is aware, cannot help but be aware, that the arithmetic is foreboding (as in badness is happening right now), but it cannot get itself to yell stop. Because to yell stop would be politically incorrect. I'm not sure this perception is simply a bee in Mr. Steyn's bonnet because immigration, borders and nationhood lies at the heart of the most heated of today's European political controversies, whether EU expansion, immigration policy, or the dispute between Mssrs. de Villepin and Sarkozy. Liberals may think that a cabal of conservatives determined to exterminate liberalism have dreamed up this issue but that is an extremely unintelligent and dishonest argument. It is the policies of the last half-century that are in the dock.

1/03/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

One age pretty much lands on top of the next like in the intro to the Wizard of Oz where the house falls on the wicked witch of the east. There's nothing showing but her toes. and even that soon withers.

1/03/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Kimball cites James Burnham. Modern liberalism, Burnham writes:

'does not offer ordinary men compelling motives for personal suffering, sacrifice, and death. There is no tragic dimension in its picture of the good life. Men become willing to endure, sacrifice, and die for God, for family, king, honor, country, from a sense of absolute duty or an exalted vision of the meaning of history… .'"

But not, apparently, from rational self-interest in the preservation and defense of one's one's own nation. It's a curious omission from the list of motives.

Curioser still: A dearth of "suffering, sacrifice, and death" - on the part of "ordinary men" - is a problem to be solved? We needn't suppose what can solve it.

Never one to underestimate the reality of post-war 'conservative' disdain for plain ol' human contentment, I looked up Barnham. Frequent contributor to NR and a PMoF-winner, to boot.

James Barnham had quite an intellectual career.

George Orwell gives us a look at Barnham's early affinities in his "Second Thoughts" on the man(http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/burnham/english/e_burnh.html):

It is curious how persistently, in The Managerial Revolution, (Barnham) ignores the advantages, military as well as social, enjoyed by a democratic country. At every point the evidence is squeezed in order to show the strength, vitality, and durability of Hitler's crazy régime. Germany is expanding rapidly, and ‘rapid territorial expansion has always been a sign, not of decadence ... but of renewal’. Germany makes war successfully, and ‘the ability to make war well is never a sign of decadence but of its opposite’. Germany also ‘inspires in millions of persons a fanatical loyalty. This, too, never accompanies decadence’. Even the cruelty and dishonesty of the Nazi régime are cited in its favour, since ‘the young, new, rising social order is, as against the old, more likely to resort on a large scale to lies, terror, persecution’. Yet, within only five years this young, new, rising social order had smashed itself to pieces and become, in Burnham's usage of the word, decadent. And this had happened quite largely because of the ‘managerial’ (i. e. undemocratic) structure which Burnham admires. The immediate cause of the German defeat was the unheard-of folly of attacking the USSR while Britain was still undefeated and America was manifestly getting ready to fight. Mistakes of this magnitude can only be made, or at any rate they are most likely to be made, in countries where public opinion has no power. So long as the common man can get a hearing, such elementary rules as not fighting all your enemies simultaneously are less likely to be violated.

But, in any case, one should have been able to see from the start that such a movement as Nazism could not produce any good or stable result. Actually, so long as they were winning, Burnham seems to have seen nothing wrong with the methods of the Nazis. Such methods, he says, only appear wicked because they are new:

'There is no historical law that polite manners and ‘Justice’ shall conquer. In history there is always the question of whose manners and whose justice. A rising social class and a new order of society have got to break through the old moral codes just as they must break through the old economic and political institutions. Naturally, from the point of view of the old, they are monsters. If they win, they take care in due time of manners and morals.'

This implies that literally anything can become right or wrong if the dominant class of the moment so wills it. It ignores the fact that certain rules of conduct have to be observed if human society is to hold together at all Burnham, therefore, was unable to see that the crimes and follies of the Nazi régime must lead by one route or another to disaster. So also with his new-found admiration for Stalinism. It is too early to say in just what way the Russian régime will destroy itself. If I had to make a prophecy, I should say that a continuation of the Russian policies of the last fifteen years — and internal and external policy, of course, are merely two facets of the same thing — can only lead to a war conducted with atomic bombs, which will make Hitler's invasion look like a tea-party. But at any rate, the Russian régime will either democratise itself, or it will perish. The huge, invincible, everlasting slave empire of which Burnham appears to dream will not be established, or, if established, will not endure, because slavery is no longer a stable basis for human society.

One cannot always make positive prophecies, but there are times when one ought to be able to make negative ones. No one could have been expected to foresee the exact results of the Treaty of Versailles, but millions of thinking people could and did foresee that those results would be bad. Plenty of people, though not so many in this case, can foresee that the results of the settlement now being forced on Europe will also be bad. And to refrain from admiring Hitler or Stalin — that, too, should not require an enormous intellectual effort.

But it is partly a moral effort. That a man of Burnham's gifts should have been able for a while to think of Nazism as something rather admirable, something that could and probably would build up a workable and durable social order, shows what damage is done to the sense of reality by the cultivation of what is now called ‘realism’.

1946

1/03/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Well, I misspelled the gentleman's name three times. Burnham, not Barnham.

Fascinating fellow, he.

1/03/2006 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Burnham was certainly an interesting man. known for his work The Managerial Revolution, published in 1941, which heavily influenced George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four". ... Burnham was a leading Trotskyist in the 1930s, forming what became the Socialist Workers Party ... and left the communist movement altogether and worked for the Office of Strategic Services during the war. After the war he called for an aggressive strategy to undermine Soviet Union power during the Cold War. In 1983 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan."

Orwell's retrospective of Burnham was written before 1950 (Orwell died in 1950) and contains many interesting judgments of Burnham's early thinking and much else, some of which are:

... The only exception I am able to think of (besides James Burnham) is Bernard Shaw, who, for some years at any rate, declared Communism and Fascism to be much the same thing, and was in favour of both of them. But Shaw, after all, is not an Englishman, and probably does not feel his fate to be bound up with that of Britain.

... As late as the autumn of 1945, a Gallup poll taken among the American troops in Germany showed that 51 percent ‘thought Hitler did much good before 1939’. This was after five years of anti-Hitler propaganda. The verdict, as quoted, is not very strongly favourable to Germany, but it is hard to believe that a verdict equally favourable to Britain would be given by anywhere near 51 per cent of the American army.


One of the striking things, to me at least, in the careers of people like Orwell and Camus, as with Burnham above, is how unafraid they were to cross what would now be impenetrable intellectual borders. They illustrate the difference between a liberalism that is the ability to commit while being free to change your mind as new evidence emerges, and the shoddy academic liberalism of today which is the inability to believe in anything at all. Men like Orwell, Camus and Burnham understood the need to act upon their best understanding of the truth, so long as they remained open to counterargument. The cheaper imitations of today are unable to act in the absence of the ultimate truth, whose existence they deny anyway.

1/04/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Iran's President Ahmadinejad's Resolutions for the New Year.

1/04/2006 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

What strikes me most about the suicide of the West is that it has chosen death by a 1000 cuts.

It's not just its unwillingness to have children, the gamut of its dysfunctionality is enormous. The malaise is right across the board.

But it's not that they don't believe or that they despair. They believe in anything, and despair of nothing - except me and my views.

We may yet thank the Islamists for their big sword and its decisive cut. It will either speed up the suicide, or force a defence.

ADE

1/04/2006 02:29:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

It seems to me that Europe is just seeing history reassert itself. Religion isn't going away, and falling populations are callimitous. Europe has been here before: the black plague killed about a third of the European population in the 14th century. That is what is happening now, except the agent is age, not a disease. Since we all die of something the result is the same.

The difference is that Renaissance Europe then embarked on a population explosion in the next few centuries, only slowing down a hundred years ago.

What we are going to find out over the next fifty years is how much economic growth is dependent on population growth. If a country doesn't become an advanced capitalist economy before demographic decline sets in it will be in even bigger trouble than Europe is now.

This has obvious implications for the muslim world, where birthrates are declining, though not yet as much as Europe.

Population growth has been one of the biggest boogeymen ever. The problem is that it is hard to imagine a successful society with a falling, aging population. Future students of history, watching the population of the planet decline, will scratch their heads over all the ink spilled over the problem of 'too many people.' The fact that nothing gets done by itself, and that natural resources are useless without someone to use them, seems to be lost on most people. China will pay dearly for its one child policy. That policy may turn out to be what keeps China from becoming the dominant world power. The future United States' 500 million people will be one third of China's 1.5 billion, instead of our curent 300 million being one quarter of 1.2 billion. Worse for China, we may end up with a younger, dynamic, immigrant- rich population against an aging China. Who can tell?

Lastly, I think we are heading for a more religious future. Religious people of most faiths tend to have more children despite economic and social disincentives. Over time the religious proportion of a population may grow. This has happened with Orthodox Jews. After the Holocaust they were reduced to less than 5% of all Jews worldwide. They are now over 25% and growing.

This also has obvious implications for the muslim world, although the religion does not have to be dangerous.

This is akin to what James Taranto refers to as the "Roe Effect," abortion proponents failing to pass on their beliefs to their non- existent children.

1/04/2006 02:33:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/04/2006 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Men like Orwell, Camus and Burnham understood the need to act upon their best understanding of the truth, so long as they remained open to counterargument"
---
One wonders if thinking freely came more easily when one was not looking over their shoulder every time they uttered something "freely" as we do today.
Certainly people in general, at least adult males in this country, spoke more freely in the past.
The opposite has occurred in my lifetime, whether due to age, political correctness, or personal experience.
...an objective judgement of that being impossible, by me, at least.

1/04/2006 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger dune runner said...

The concept of a society’s answer to "what are you willing to die for?" is something I been thinking about myself lately. If I had asked most of my parent's generation if they were willing to die for what was 'right', they would have looked at me as if I had asked a stupid question. Of course they were, and many thousands of them proved it by doing just that in WWII. The ones who didn’t have to do the actual fighting and dying still made large personal and financial sacrifices every day to support the effort.

They did this because the values they held told them that freedom for the oppressed (not even our own freedom, no one was trying to conquer North America) was ‘right’, and therefore worth the sacrifice. The MSM of the time seemed to believe that too, and usually did everything it could to support the effort and encourage the troops and the folks at home.

I am afraid that if I were to ask the same question of my children's generation, I would still get looked at as if I had asked something stupid, but for the exact opposite reason. "You mean, actually die? Like dead? Dude! And anyway, what does ‘right’ even mean?"

In the future, how many American lives, or even how much American money, are we going to be willing to spend to do what’s ‘right’ in the world? How many of our parent’s values, the values that made us a world power to begin with, are left? Take Taiwan, for example. Do you think we would have the national will to defend their freedom if the PRC invaded them tomorrow?

I don't mean the military and the current president, they understand the stakes there. I mean the average American, watching the MSM and the 'patriotic opposition' politicians telling us what a mistake it all is. How George Bush is once again sending American children to die when no one has threatened us in any way. How we should negotiate, or wait for UN mandates, or even ignore it all together and mind our own business. Asking what makes Taiwan worth even one American life? Reminding us that on the other hand, good relations with the PRC are worth billions in profits.

Personally, I’m afraid that as a country, we would let Taiwan fall. If Bush were still president, he would probably send the military in, but congress or the next president would negotiate a settlement and pull them out before long. I don’t believe enough of the moral will, the strength of values, the unambiguous and firm belief in ‘right’, still exists in our society.

I wouldn’t call it a form of suicide, it doesn’t mean the death of the country. More like a wasting disease, a national form of self-inflicted Alzheimer’s perhaps. We slip into a haze and slowly lose our vitality and spark of life, completely forgetting the ideals and values that were once important to us, that defined who we were. We sometimes can vaguely remember our glory days. In our confusion, we may occasionally even believe that we are still living them, or can still do great things, but all in all we’re pretty harmless to anyone but ourselves. You know that disease, most of Europe has it today.

1/04/2006 03:45:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

m.a. wrote:
"the conservative reaction to Spielberg's Munich is a good example: much of the criticism is classic P.C. in that it condemns the film for raising certain issues (about killing, about terrorism, etc.) without ever engaging with those issues..."

Because conservatives don't think it is an "issue" when innocent people are massacred. Spielberg invites viewers to contemplate mass murderers as "human beings" when those monsters have scoured all humanity from themselves. Spielberg generously invites the viewer to forgive or at least "comprehend" unsurpassed horror visited upon innocent others. But what of the grace and beauty of the Israeli atheletes cut short? Does it count for nothing? By asking us to contemplate the "reason" of the murderers is to equate their acts of murder with the life-enhancing achievemnets of the Israeli atheletes. So, stop: life is not an object lesson in senseless butchery m.a. Life is made for the kinds of achievements of the Israeli atheletes; a murderer is his statement, incapable of making his case to the living.

I have a right not to think senseless murder an "issue". That is not close-mindedness. Maybe as a good talky liberal you can enlightne me about the joys of the knife. Over to you.

1/04/2006 03:53:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ha - exhelo, not what you think it might, trust me. Consider my audience (m.a.). And she didn't go to Anapolis or Bob Jones. Trust me.

1/04/2006 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

A good artist transcends his ideology? Milton? Balzac? Eliot? Sartre (early plays and stories)? Pope? More like, not every artist has a political ideology - a proposition the Left would not accept. And if you do not agree to that, we are just not talking about the same Left. You posit a gentle, moderate, girlish, almost demure Left compared to the milieu in which I was educated, the comments of which I read every day in the Times, and the thoughts of which I hear all day on NPR. That Left no one cares about; it's just miseducation and good intentions. Big deal. You get no points for that, and almost no one actually disagrees with you.

1/04/2006 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger M.A. said...

I don't mean the military and the current president, they understand the stakes there. I mean the average American, watching the MSM and the 'patriotic opposition' politicians telling us what a mistake it all is.

You know, I don't usually think the term "chickenhawk" is fair. Someone who does not fight in a war has as much right to support it as anyone.

But I do think the term "chickenhawk" is fairly applied to someone who does not fight in a war and yet thinks he displays courage and resolve by supporting it -- and accuses other non-fighters of lacking resolve and courage simply by virtue of not supporting the war.

The Bush administration has asked nothing of the bulk of the American people except that they tolerate the deaths of other Americans and Iraqis. There is no courage involved there, no resolve, no nothing. War is simply a policy issue for most of us: if it is good policy, you support it; if you think it's bad policy, you're against it. You think the war is good policy, so you support it -- but you are absolutely no more resolute than I, who oppose the war as bad policy.

If any civilians have shown true resolve it's Democratic politicians like Howard Dean and Al Gore, who spoke out against the war in 2002 when it was unpopular to do so. (And when most of their fellow Democrats were cravenly supporting the war, or pretending they did.) Al Gore may have cost himself a shot at the 2004 nomination by speaking out against a war that he thought was wrong. That's as courageous as a non-fighter can get.

In the end, though, it comes down to this: I believe the Iraq war was a mistake and is a mistake, and it is my duty -- my moral duty -- to say so. To do otherwise would be an act of cowardice.

das -- again, you're spouting talking points instead of talking about the movie. More conservative political correctness.

1/04/2006 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

'That's as courageous as a non-fighter can get.'

Well of course big al was famously photo'd struggling with the business ends of his camera and rifle at the same time while 'in-country', so he did serve. But we do both agree that he is a non-fighter.

I for one am absolutely tickled by this sentiment coming from the other side. No wonder the dems can't get it right.

1/04/2006 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Howard Dean spoke out when it was unpopular to do so? Are you serious? When did all those million-man global marches occur? Moreover Howard Dean was popular with Democrats and the media. He was certainly popular in Manhattan and San Francisco. Howard Dean is also obviously a complete asshole.

m.a., your characterizations are bizarre. Bush has probably not asked for sacrifice because he figures it would only expand and intensify popular opposition - not from people like me, but people like you and Buchanan's little disciples. I'd say that's a wise policy, if regrettable, since we already have to fight with one hand tied behind our backs, and this is a necessary war whose actual justification - the rot of the Islamic world following the end of empire has taken a German interwar trajectory - and mission - demolishing that world as it is - is not something that can be said or done with any more tact than is being applied already.

1/04/2006 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger M.A. said...

Howard Dean spoke out when it was unpopular to do so? Are you serious?

You may not remember the atmosphere in 2002 and 2003, but I do. The war was popular and Dean was relentlessly attacked for his statements -- not only by conservatives, but his fellow Democratic candidates, who accused him of being weak and insufficiently hawkish. When Dean said, correctly, that the capture of Saddam had not made us safer, John Kerry attacked him as out of touch with reality. Turns out Kerry was the one who was out of touch.

The media, of course, was never fond of Dean, as witness the coverage of "The Scream" or a Newsweek editor calling Dean insane. There is no liberal media bias.

m.a., your characterizations are bizarre. Bush has probably not asked for sacrifice because he figures it would only expand and intensify popular opposition - not from people like me, but people like you and Buchanan's little disciples.

First, I don't see why it would have intensified popular opposition. Part of the opposition came from the suspicion that Bush was using the war as a political tool, a way to get himself re-elected by being a perpetual "war president." If Bush had asked Americans to, say, pay more taxes to fund the war, or recycle more like we did in WWII, or some woolly-headed liberal policy like that, he might have alleviated those suspicions.

He didn't alleviate those suspicions because a) He didn't want to do anything that would hurt his electoral chances, and b) It is part of the Bush/Rove strategy to deliberately divide the country and turn 51% of the country against the other 49% (as long as they're on the right side of that divide). The war was, is and remains a partisan political tool, not a serious foreign policy -- because Bush is not serious about foreign policy, only about elections. (For serious foreign-policy types, you have to go to the people who were in Bush's father's administration, or the policy wonks who would have staffed a Kerry administration. Bush II is the presidency of the political hack; he is not serious about national security.)

1/04/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger M.A. said...

No wonder the dems can't get it right.

The dems can't get it right, but for different reasons than you think. In 2002 the Dem strategy was to vote for the Iraq war resolution, defuse the war as an issue, and turn the election to domestic issues. It didn't work; even the Democrats who voted for the resolution, even the ones who openly supported the war, were successfully slammed as weak on national security.

In 2004, Kerry, on the advice of his hawkish advisors, tried to run as a liberal hawk (he'd never been hawkish in the past). He insisted that his vote for the resolution was right, he picked a running mate who also voted for the resolution, he mostly declined to call the war a mistake, and he tried to present himself as someone who would send more troops than Bush to Iraq. Again, didn't work.

The fact is, Democrats will always be painted as weak on national security by conservatives -- not because they are (they are, in many ways, more reliable than Republicans on the issue) but because part of the Democrat ideology is to be a bit cautious about war, a bit sensitive to "multilateralism," a bit skeptical of pre-emptive attacks. If Democrats gave up on this stuff, they'd cease to be Democrats. Even Joe Lieberman, super-hawk, is to the left of Bush on foreign policy and would have been attacked as such. There's no way to get around it.

So the Democrats should have opposed the war openly and proudly. Would they have won in 2002? Probably not. Maybe not in 2004 either, though if Kerry had been resolutely anti-war he wouldn't have been dismissed as a flip-flopper. But the point is that if the Democrats had lost while opposing the war, they could have lost in a good cause and helped shift the political culture (the way Goldwater, even though he lost, helped establish conservatism in the culture). Instead they lost in an ignoble cause: trying to pretend to be hawks on a bad and pointless war.

Hopefully the Democrats will stop listening to conservatives who just want to "help" them be more hawkish (a strategy that never, ever works) and start being more anti-war. They may not win that way either, but they'll do a lot more good overall -- a minority party that stands up for what's right can do a lot more good than a majority party that won't do the right thing.

1/04/2006 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

TrangBang:
"Carridine, if your ideas are not taken seriously maybe its because you advocate strict adherence to the tenets of an esoteric cult that rejects the Judeo Christian narrative in favor of The Glory of God."

"Carridine, if your ideas are not taken seriously maybe its because you advocate strict adherence to the tenets of an esoteric cult that rejects the Jewish narrative in favor of Christ-ism."

"Carridine, if your ideas are not taken seriously maybe its because you advocate strict adherence to the tenets of an esoteric cult that rejects the Judeo Christian narrative in favor of the Revelation for This Day promised BY the Judeo-Christian prophets."

1/04/2006 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Uh, Howard Dean imploded. And plenty of people our age supported him. I remember it very well. Besides, being anti-war is, almost always, the unserious point of view.

Secondly, this is the most serious foreign policy since Truman. What is unserious? Taking over Afghanistan, taking over Iraq, surrounding Iran, squeezing Saudi Arabian financiers, leading a global anti-terror effort in places like the Philipines, supporting the Lebanese effort to rid itself of Syria's overlordship, supporting Ukraine's attempts to rid itself of Russia's overlordship, sponsoring Israeli-Palestinian and Indian-Pakistani comity, expanding WTO and other free-trade body membership, radically increasing funding to Africa, forcing reforms in the UN - how is this not serious? If it isn't serious, it isn't serious in the direction desert rat is concerned with: directly bringing down the revolutionary fascists in Syria and theo-kleptocrats in Iran, and getting Zawahiri/bin Laden. But I doubt that's what you're talking about. How could such a grand commitment be "unserious" and "all about elections"? Never seen those clips from Madeleine Albright during the Clinton Administration describing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in identical terms to Bush's - and the Project for the New American Century? If you really appreciated the gravity of your charges - rather than their merely borrowed, embarrasingly "last war" political efficacy - then you should be advocating the overthrow of the government by any means necessary.

I'm sorry, the Democrats are the political hacks now, sapping the political will of the nation in the name of the Vietnam Era, as their top representatives and footsoldiers alike have repeatedly expressed. And by the way I voted for Clinton and Gore in both of the presidential elections I'd been eligible to vote in prior to 2004.

But I am tired of repeating myself. We'll have to agree to disagree, I'm afraid. Good luck.

1/04/2006 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger dune runner said...

m.a.: Wow, you took my comments so far out of context that at first I didn't even realize you were responding to my post.

First, I made no mention of Iraq, or whether or not I support our actions there, in the post at all. The snippet you reposted regarded a hypothetical situation in which the PRC invades Taiwan, and what our response would or would not be. However, for the record, I do support our country's effort to bring freedom to an oppressed people in Iraq. I don't support it as a 'policy issue', good or bad. I support it because I feel that it was the right thing to do to help the Iraqi people get out from under an oppressive regime. Particularly since we had a large role in putting them there to begin with.

Second, I feel no particular amount of courage for my support of that effort. As you so rightly said, little or no sacrifice has been asked of the average American citizen in that respect. I do, however, know something of that sort of sacrifice, having been in the service of my country for 11 years, with 3 tours to the Middle East.

Third, I accused no one of lacking either courage or resolve. Again, you are correct in stating that it takes courage to oppose a popular war (or to support an unpopular one for that matter), if that is where your convictions lead you. I did accuse the country in general of having lost it's moral certainty of what is fundamentally right and wrong, but said nothing of courage or resolve.

You close with the comment that you feel that the war in Iraq was and is a mistake, and that it is your moral duty, and an act of courage, to say so. Fair enough. Next time please try to excercise your moral duty and courage without taking other people's comments completely out of context and resorting to ad-hominem arguments.

1/04/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

Well that's interesting. The dems get to pick the repub's staff, strategy and talking points while the repubs get to do the same for the dems. I'm guessing they will want to do a lot of polling while they are at it, just to be sure. I wonder how that will work.

Meanwhile, my side wins and your side loses, but I don't know why?

1/04/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger M.A. said...

Dune runner -- on reading your comment again, you are right: I misattributed to you a talking point that is in fact used by others (many conservative pundits tend to talk about support of the war as a test of America's resolve, as though they are more resolute than people who oppose the war -- but I don't think that's what you were saying). My apologies.

1/04/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

I suppose that it is my generation--that has lived through the reign of despots such as Hitler, Stalin (et al),Pol Pot,and Mao, and recently, Saddam--that instinctively wants to slap down rising dictators or strongmen before they get going bigtime.

We know what big, really big, casualty lists are, and the suffering they imply. We know that wars and near-wars are a necessary means for slapping these people down. We know that a strong defense is the best way to avoid war. And we know that nipping these men in the bud is preferable to eventually warring all over the globe, with horrible waste in lives and living conditions. We do believe in taking a long view of world affairs.

Most of all, I think, we have a sense of duty to our nation and our people to defend our freedoms and our way of life. This is better done on foreign shores than here in the US.

1/04/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Wretchard,

you said:

--Not only Japan, but China, with it's one child policy, is courting demographic disaster...What distinguishes Japan from Europe is the presence of labor sources like the Philippines whose immigrants tend to behave somewhat differently from North Africans and Middle Eastern immigrants to Europe. As practical matter there won't be any cars burned on New Year's Eve in Japan by Filipino "youths".

Well, to me, this looks like the US' issue. We keep pretending that illegal immigration will carry on our society, too, because as a practical matter, hispanics aren't burning cars on New Year's either, we think immigration is our solution to the demography problem here.

But is it? What culture remains?

--What's unclear is whether China or Japan, should they one day decide that demographic renewal is in the national interest, will not resurrect it's birthrate in a determined manner.

So yes, while it's clear that Europe's suicide is foregone, it's not clear about the rest of us.

But still, WHY are we all so close to demographic suicide? Is it wealth of nations alone? Is the ennui simply too great?

I guess I'm asking a slightly different question. The demography fall off is a symptom of the end of the value of society in the West, not a cause. The level of discontent with the values of society are the cause, no?

So, the question remains, is this type discontent, this undercurrent of hostility against society (whatever society) common throughout history, and we just have more tools at our disposal for self annihilation? Or is there something special about this modern world that causes society after society to flirt with demographic suicide?

1/04/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm afraid I have to disagree with much of this. My disagreement is rather long and complicated. For anyone who is interested, go here.

1/05/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger alzaebo said...

The solution seems simple.
Cut government revenue and spending and its corrosive effects on the activity at all levels of society.

The only problem- "government" is groups of people who insist on having more "guns" than citizens, with the right to point them at us and demand more of our money, liberties, assets. If you can't rob somebody, just elect someone who'll do it for you.

1/05/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger alzaebo said...

Whew. Can't help it. Read M.A.'s comments- classic Orwellian doublethink, with a unique Palestinian flavor of blaming enemies of the same actions one does, complemented with a piquant aftertaste of socialist revisionism.

1/05/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger alzaebo said...

Yaargh!! Now I've read Carradine... M.A., come back! Please!!

1/05/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger alzaebo said...

I must agree with john lynch 2:33 comment.

Islamic society is in a demographic race with the pension schemes of socialist democracies- aka "the West".

Have as many kids as you can, and plunder what you can from the neighbors, because the Islamic boomer generation will get old shortly after the Western boomers... and Muslim economics don't include 401k's or Social Security! (War, begging and child prostitution are about as close as they come.)

this idea is best explored by "Spengler" in Asia Times Online (atimes.com)

1/05/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

Tant pis for the great philosopher Mark Steyn weeping into his beer for Western Civ.
Wretchard, your maths are better than that. Steyn's decline equation is heavily underparameterized. He is using a linear model to predict in a non-linear world.
What about technology? Over the next thirty years i predict we will get much better at stealthy detection and killing of terrorists, we will live longer and stay healthier, and the Singularity will arrive, among other wondrous prospects. ;-)
What about catastophe theory? The coming pandemic will surely decimate the largely unprepared third world. We are not that awfully well prepared ourselves, but much better than the ME and indonesia and africa.
What about the continuous osmotic pressure of western civilization, forcing its inexorable music, video images, movies, books and technoloy everywhere?
Steyn is like the blind man in the room of blind philophers feeling the elephants tail. He sees just one thread in the weave of the future.

1/05/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Zardoz said...

I find Kimball's view an attempt
to justify theocratic statism.
He points at Europe and fairly
blatently starts calling them the
"godless heathen" and then begins
pointing out his perceived problems.
Using poor logic attempting to link these "problems" to their
"godlessness". It's more fear
mongering than any real even handed
discussion of the facts. And thats
a usual argumentative tactic used
by religious state proponenets.
I would speculate, based upon the
wording and references, that his
upbringing was of Mormon origin
which has as a tenet of it's
belif that there will be a
conflict of large preportion.
For a long time, the cold war
held this future conflict.
Now that the cold war is over
is this simply a case of a
philosophy looking for a
justification for it's self?

I could speculate the opposite
of Kimball would be true and that
the smaller populations would
maintain themselves as the teeming
hoards of starving poor over
populate to the point that their age
skews so young that it becomes
anarchy and the perceived "social
order" of religion breaks down. Iran
is an example of this problem. But
it didnt (pardon the pun here) reach
a critical mass of young population
to tottaly overthrow the elder
theocracy, it instead became the
harnessed mechanism for the
theorcratic power. But in the end,
it could be none of the above..

1/06/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger DJStan said...

Prosperity. We're dying of too much prosperity and too long a lifespan. The megacorps that drive our lives have convinced us that we can be young and healthy forever.

Why should we have children when everything we see on the screen, watch on the tube, or read in the ubiquitous ads tells us that we can stay children ourselves for our entire lives?

Greed, as it always does, has made us stupid, and undercut our fitness as a civilization. So we shall pass, as so many civilizations have passed before us, and another shall rise. Blaming "liberals" is a sideshow, an ideological confusion of effect with cause.

My bet's on Asia, BTW, not the Caliphate - they're just too self-constrained to pull it off.

1/07/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Ideology and property are the keys in this beyond the tipping point world of the BCP. When I was young, I think it was Paul Ehrich and his, seemingly unanswered, Population Bomb argument. For me, the answer was that other societies were not restraining themselves; so social survival superseded. Then to have children you need money, a wife who is comfortable with the level of income for expenses per child. Ideological good such as integration here in the US, which made educating white children more problematical, expensive, for instance, has probably favored reproduction by others.

1/07/2006 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Hype said...

it seems to me that all who talk about the death/suicide of Europe and the West are racist.

white people have no more right to have power and rule than non-white people.

until you racists get that through your head, you are a lost cause.

you are not talking about the whole countries or really even the governments. i am sure you are talking about white power. you are racist. the other thing you are talking about is Christianity. Christianity has no more right to rule or survive than any other religion.

everything will evolve and the human race will still be here. your fear mongering is just racism.

-Hype

1/08/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Vltava said...

Mark Steyn was not only a brilliant article/speach, but also it addressed the most important subject of our civilization. The subject of our own survival. What can be more important, indeed. Everything else is a side show.

Most of the comments are great, but academic debates do not matter. Civilizations have to make painful choices to come out of the death spiral. The linear projections are provided, but for the purpose to show where the current state of affairs will lead us. The intend is to change the current status. As a demographer, I now what social and immigration policies would work. Do you know, it is the immigration which is a cause of declining birth rates?

One more comment. Problem with any internet debate website is that any shill can leave hate comments here and take it to its own lowest level. In this case 'hype' is either a color racist or white traitor. Not like academic types, I am not affraid to be called names. White people have every right to defend their homelands, by any means, agaist the black plague and social decay.

1/12/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger NJSoldier said...

Rome did not fall because of a change in governing ideology (disgusting word). Rome fell because of civil and external war and attendant corruption - not graft; true corruption: decadence -sustained over the rule of many emperors over 3 centuries.

Rome fell because its citizenry changed radically.

During the early Republic, Roman citizens were yeoman farmers who considered citizenship a set of responsibilities and obligations. They took responsibility for the defense of their nation-state and were obliged to serve in the military for much of the adult life. The also participated in the process of the Republican government - another responsibility. These were realistic, tough, ambitious, hard-working, self-reliant people.

During the late Imperial age, Roman citizenship was a privilege. The non-representative government appeased the mob with entertainment, privileges, and benefits. Citizens were not required to lift a hand in the defense of the Empire. These were effete, sophisticated, civilized weaklings totally detached from reality. They responded to the German and Gothic invasions with disbelief. The Dark Ages began as the Roman people simply lost the will (maybe the ability) to resist more energetic cultures despite all their advantages.

1/18/2006 08:12:00 AM  

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