Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's speech at Harvard (hat tip: 'Lord Acton') is one of those gems which could not have been understood at the time, not even at Harvard. Events showed some of his ideas were truly profound, though perhaps no one could really see it at the time because they were really radical -- not the kind of "radicalism" fashionable in academia where they are merely a kind of fashionable conformity -- but radical in that they challenged the standard political and ethical assumptions, principally the idea that freedom divorced from some deeper purpose was possible. Solzhenitsyn's insight was to understand that totalitarianism, far from being being alien to Western thought, was in fact its highest development. He had seen it blossom to its full extent in the Gulag and could therefore see its nightmare shape even within its fashionable versions in the West. So here is the full text of his speech in 1978. The ideas it lays out are essential not only to understanding the events of September 11 but everything that happened afterward. He warned of great dangers still to come and predicted we would meet it, glasses full and smiles wide, surprised until the very end.


Text of Address by Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises, Thursday, June 8, 1978

I am sincerely happy to be here with you on this occasion and to become personally acquainted with this old and most prestigious University. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today's graduates.

Harvard's motto is "Veritas." Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. There is some bitterness in my speech today, too. But I want to stress that it comes not from an adversary but from a friend.

Three years ago in the United States I said certain things which at that time appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I then said... A World Split Apart by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The split in today's world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other. However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance. This deep manifold split bears the danger of manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a Kingdom -- in this case, our Earth -- divided against itself cannot stand.

Contemporary Worlds

There is the concept of the Third World: thus, we already have three worlds. Undoubtedly, however, the number is even greater; we are just too far away to see. Any ancient deeply rooted autonomous culture, especially if it is spread on a wide part of the earth's surface, constitutes an autonomous world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking. As a minimum, we must include in this category China, India, the Muslim world and Africa, if indeed we accept the approximation of viewing the latter two as compact units. For one thousand years Russia has belonged to such a category, although Western thinking systematically committed the mistake of denying its autonomous character and therefore never understood it, just as today the West does not understand Russia in communist captivity. It may be that in the past years Japan has increasingly become a distant part of the West, I am no judge here; but as to Israel, for instance, it seems to me that it stands apart from the Western world in that its state system is fundamentally linked to religion.

How short a time ago, relatively, the small new European world was easily seizing colonies everywhere, not only without anticipating any real resistance, but also usually despising any possible values in the conquered peoples' approach to life. On the face of it, it was an overwhelming success, there were no geographic frontiers to it. Western society expanded in a triumph of human independence and power. And all of a sudden in the twentieth century came the discovery of its fragility and friability. We now see that the conquests proved to be short lived and precarious, and this in turn points to defects in the Western view of the world which led to these conquests. Relations with the former colonial world now have turned into their opposite and the Western world often goes to extremes of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the total size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West, and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns will be sufficient for the West to foot the bill.

Convergence

But the blindness of superiority continues in spite of all and upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present day Western systems which in theory are the best and in practice the most attractive. There is this belief that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction. However, it is a conception which developed out of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, out of the mistake of measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet's development is quite different.

Anguish about our divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between leading Western countries and the Soviet Union. It is a soothing theory which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not at all developing into similarity; neither one can be transformed into the other without the use of violence. Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side's defects, too, and this is hardly desirable.

If I were today addressing an audience in my country, examining the overall pattern of the world's rifts I would have concentrated on the East's calamities. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the West in our days, such as I see them.

A Decline in Courage ...

may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

Well-Being

When the modern Western States were created, the following principle was proclaimed: governments are meant to serve man, and man lives to be free to pursue happiness. (See, for example, the American Declaration). Now at last during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state. Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the morally inferior sense which has come into being during those same decades. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to obtain them imprints many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition permeates all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development. The individual's independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, leading them to physical splendor, happiness, possession of material goods, money and leisure, to an almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment. So who should now renounce all this, why and for what should one risk one's precious life in defense of common values, and particularly in such nebulous cases when the security of one's nation must be defended in a distant country?

Even biology knows that habitual extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.

Legalistic Life

Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

The Direction of Freedom

In today's Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.

It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and, in fact, it has been drastically weakened in all Western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say about the dark realm of criminality as such? Legal frames (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (There is a huge number of prisoners in our camps which are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state resorting to means outside of a legal framework).

The Direction of the Press

The press too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word press to include all media). But what sort of use does it make of this freedom?

Here again, the main concern is not to infringe the letter of the law. There is no moral responsibility for deformation or disproportion. What sort of responsibility does a journalist have to his readers, or to history? If they have misled public opinion or the government by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, do we know of any cases of public recognition and rectification of such mistakes by the same journalist or the same newspaper? No, it does not happen, because it would damage sales. A nation may be the victim of such a mistake, but the journalist always gets away with it. One may safely assume that he will start writing the opposite with renewed self-assurance.

Because instant and credible information has to be given, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors and suppositions to fill in the voids, and none of them will ever be rectified, they will stay on in the readers' memory. How many hasty, immature, superficial and misleading judgments are expressed every day, confusing readers, without any verification. The press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters, pertaining to one's nation's defense, publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: "everyone is entitled to know everything." But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era: people also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive burdening flow of information.

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press. It stops at sensational formulas.

Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within the Western countries, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: by what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible? In the communist East a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has granted Western journalists their power, for how long a time and with what prerogatives?

There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the East where the press is rigorously unified: one gradually discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole. It is a fashion; there are generally accepted patterns of judgment and there may be common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification. Enormous freedom exists for the press, but not for the readership because newspapers mostly give enough stress and emphasis to those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and the general trend.

A Fashion in Thinking

Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life. There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development. I have received letters in America from highly intelligent persons, maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around people's minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.

I have mentioned a few trends of Western life which surprise and shock a new arrival to this world. The purpose and scope of this speech will not allow me to continue such a review, to look into the influence of these Western characteristics on important aspects on [the] nation's life, such as elementary education, advanced education in [?...]

Socialism

It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world a way to successful economic development, even though in the past years it has been strongly disturbed by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of not being up to the level of maturity attained by mankind. A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.

I hope that no one present will suspect me of offering my personal criticism of the Western system to present socialism as an alternative. Having experienced applied socialism in a country where the alternative has been realized, I certainly will not speak for it. The well-known Soviet mathematician Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliant book under the title Socialism; it is a profound analysis showing that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death. Shafarevich's book was published in France almost two years ago and so far no one has been found to refute it. It will shortly be published in English in the United States.

Not a Model

But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life which I have just mentioned are extremely saddening.

A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human beings in the West while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience. Life's complexity and mortal weight have produced stronger, deeper and more interesting characters than those produced by standardized Western well-being. Therefore if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant scores. It is true, no doubt, that a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case in our country. But it is also demeaning for it to elect such mechanical legalistic smoothness as you have. After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.

All this is visible to observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.

There are meaningful warnings that history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.

But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?

Shortsightedness

Very well known representatives of your society, such as George Kennan, say: we cannot apply moral criteria to politics. Thus we mix good and evil, right and wrong and make space for the absolute triumph of absolute Evil in the world. On the contrary, only moral criteria can help the West against communism's well planned world strategy. There are no other criteria. Practical or occasional considerations of any kind will inevitably be swept away by strategy. After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the size and meaning of events.

In spite of the abundance of information, or maybe because of it, the West has difficulties in understanding reality such as it is. There have been naive predictions by some American experts who believed that Angola would become the Soviet Union's Vietnam or that Cuban expeditions in Africa would best be stopped by special U.S. courtesy to Cuba. Kennan's advice to his own country -- to begin unilateral disarmament -- belongs to the same category. If you only knew how the youngest of the Moscow Old Square [1] officials laugh at your political wizards! As to Fidel Castro, he frankly scorns the United States, sending his troops to distant adventures from his country right next to yours.

However, the most cruel mistake occurred with the failure to understand the Vietnam war. Some people sincerely wanted all wars to stop just as soon as possible; others believed that there should be room for national, or communist, self-determination in Vietnam, or in Cambodia, as we see today with particular clarity. But members of the U.S. anti-war movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear? The American Intelligentsia lost its [nerve] and as a consequence thereof danger has come much closer to the United States. But there is no awareness of this. Your shortsighted politicians who signed the hasty Vietnam capitulation seemingly gave America a carefree breathing pause; however, a hundredfold Vietnam now looms over you. That small Vietnam had been a warning and an occasion to mobilize the nation's courage. But if a full-fledged America suffered a real defeat from a small communist half-country, how can the West hope to stand firm in the future?

I have had occasion already to say that in the 20th century democracy has not won any major war without help and protection from a powerful continental ally whose philosophy and ideology it did not question. In World War II against Hitler, instead of winning that war with its own forces, which would certainly have been sufficient, Western democracy grew and cultivated another enemy who would prove worse and more powerful yet, as Hitler never had so many resources and so many people, nor did he offer any attractive ideas, or have such a large number of supporters in the West -- a potential fifth column -- as the Soviet Union. At present, some Western voices already have spoken of obtaining protection from a third power against aggression in the next world conflict, if there is one; in this case the shield would be China. But I would not wish such an outcome to any country in the world. First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with Evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days.

Loss of Willpower

And yet -- no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. Thus at the shameful Belgrade conference free Western diplomats in their weakness surrendered the line where enslaved members of Helsinki Watchgroups are sacrificing their lives.

Western thinking has become conservative: the world situation should stay as it is at any cost, there should be no changes. This debilitating dream of a status quo is the symptom of a society which has come to the end of its development. But one must be blind in order not to see that oceans no longer belong to the West, while land under its domination keeps shrinking. The two so-called world wars (they were by far not on a world scale, not yet) have meant internal self-destruction of the small, progressive West which has thus prepared its own end. The next war (which does not have to be an atomic one and I do not believe it will) may well bury Western civilization forever.

Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?

Humanism and Its Consequences

How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.

However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century's moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.

An Unexpected Kinship

As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation at first by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say in 1844 that "communism is naturalized humanism."

This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorship; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. (This is typical of the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century and of Marxism). Not by coincidence all of communism's meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today's West and today's East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic. Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism and socialism could never resist communism. The communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see communism's crimes. When they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them. In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.

Before the Turn

I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times.

Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man's life and society's activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but -- upward. Notes

[1] The Old Square in Moscow (Staraya Ploshchad') is the place where the [headquarters] of the Central Committee of the CPSU are located; it is the real name of what in the West is conventionally referred to as "the Kremlin." Source: Texts of Famous Speeches at Harvard Re-formatted in HTML by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1997 augustine@columbia.edu

268 Comments:

Blogger Stan said...

Wow. Thanks for the reminder.

8/16/2006 05:10:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Intellectual thunder. And when was the last time we had a politician that could have read or understood let alone practiced the elevating statesmanship demanded of them by their privlaged position? Not in the ugly, self indulgent narcissism that passes for current American and western life. Savor these words..

"If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it.

It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism."

A plea for an awakening and a scathing indictment of what we have become.

8/16/2006 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

What I take from Solzhenitsyn's speech is that I can understand that Abdul and I share many of the values of being human - we love our children, we safeguard our personal independence, we reverence our cultural rituals - and still just feel the plane get a little lighter.

8/16/2006 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

W, 2164th, PeterBoston,

I loved Solzhenitsyn's article, but I'm uneasy. It made me think, but of what? On the previous thread I quoted the same paragraph as you, 2164th, but only the first sentence. I didn't like the rest - his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature.

Who says? Who set the task? It can be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life, it's just that it obviously has to be more.

But "the more" is not gods. Never again gobbledygook.

It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth

Isn't that just what the jihadists think?

so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it.

Well I know I won't. And I think there we have the rub of Western problems - it's all about me.

Only that it isn't, it's all about the next generation. Peter, Abdul and you do not share the love of your children - I presume you do not dress up your children in suicide belts.

Solzhenitsyn got a lot right, and was very prescient for 1978.

But the West is working through something here.

Strangely, I think truth, justice, and the American way will win, and is something to be believed in.

ADE

8/16/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

Is it possible that the Islamists have a better grasp of Solzhenitsyn than the elites of the West?

From this thread, may this much maligned and little appreciated prophet begin his rehabilitation.

"One world, one mankind cannot exist in the face of six, four or even two scales of values: we shall be torn apart by this disparity of rhythm, this disparity of vibrations.

A man with two hearts is not for this world, neither shall we be able to live side by side on one Earth."

Nobel Lecture
http://nobelprize.org/
nobel_prizes/literature/
laureates/1970/solzhenitsyn-lecture.html

8/16/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

ADE,

It's not necessary to believe in something unchangeably, nor necessary to believe in what Solzhenitsyn believed. But it may prove impossible to survive without believing in something as a practical matter.

Survival within history and within nature requires an absolute determination to be the last man standing in the face of your enemies. Even with that motivation as a goad extinction was common. But without it extinction may be foregone.

That's putting it too crudely because I think Solzhenitsyn is saying something more general. If belief, even a tentative belief, is a necessary condition for humanity can we be free without it? Can we survive without it?

8/16/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

ADE,

I think mankind is always better served when more is expected and tried for, than less. Expectations are usually met short, but there is nobility and joy in the measured steps to achieve the goal. The Islamic cause is a journey of depravity and despair, outside the human bounds of decency, only fashionably accepted by the nihilism of the West. You sense that the American way will prevail. That may be so, but not if it degraded and devoid of the core values that won it the tough audience of world acclaim in the past.

8/16/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Well, THAT came down from the mountain etched in stone.

8/16/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

wretchard said:

Survival within history and within nature requires an absolute determination to be the last man standing in the face of your enemies. Even with that motivation as a goad extinction was common. But without it extinction may be foregone.

Life itself stands in opposition to the enemies of entropy and time, but this does not require any extraordinary effort on life's part, it merely flows from the nature of DNA to faithfully pass on what is good and discard that which does not serve. The Jews as a culture have learned to emulate the persistent qualities of life itself, with their scriptures standing in the place of DNA, and so they have become the oldest continuously extant tribe on Earth. The death-worshippers of today's Islam are an evolutionary dead end, but time and entropy haven't yet finished grinding them into dust. Patience is called for.

8/16/2006 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger John J. Coupal said...

After reading that, it's easy to see why the dictators in the Soviet Union feared Solzhenitsyn so.

8/16/2006 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger noah said...

Therasita, suggest "Before the Dawn" by Nicholas Wade a very accessible eye-opening account of the apparent fact that all humans are related to a small group that emigrated from East Africa 50,000 or so years ago.

We are all human. Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, secularists, "savages", etc.

Recalling the old sociobiology debates, we are the victime of poorly chosen "oughts". I, for one, believe that Western Civ cannot survive in its present form if only because of the nihilism that follows inexorably from secularist "oughts" leading to demographic implosion.

8/16/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

In July of 1918, Wilfred Owen returned to active service in France, though he might have stayed on home-duty indefinitely...he was killed in action on 4th November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal, only a week before the end of the war. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells were ringing out in celebration. He is buried at Ors Communal Cemetery.

W's post title

8/16/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Thank you for posting that.

Solzhenitsyn is a man after my own heart.

8/16/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I think you've hit upon something teresita. Solzhenitsyn decries the loss of spirtualism in the West. Not because the Church has been any better at ordering society than the state, but because humanity loses its vigor when the desire for more is limited to the exploration for more efficient production or more perfect distribution.

Judaism is Western civilization's most enduring constant. What is the Old Testament but not the story of man's passage from barbarism to civilization? The journey has been difficult even in good times but always more so when it was kings, princes, and priests that claimed exclusive ownership of the way.

Weapons are a burden to those unwilling to defend themselves, and to those who do not know what is worth defending. Lincoln got it.

-- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

8/16/2006 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

john j. coupal,

You may not be old enough to recall the initial acclaim poured on Solzhenitsyn by American elites, both conservative and liberal (for very different reasons, of course), upon his arrival upon our shore. Quickly, both learned to their displeasure that this was a thoroughly independent, plain spoken character, unimpressed and not for sale. As a result, he was savaged by both sides of the culture divide, albeit, because of very different agendas.

In fairness to his well meaning critics, Solzhenitsyn, like a Biblical prophet, is not a public teddy bear; indeed, as a public intellectual, he more closely resembles Ursus arctos horribilis as he relates to the systemic flaws of the West; as Wrecthard’s posting of his Harvard address amply conveys.

Solzhenitsyn became a hard man for a hard time. He is a saint, feet of clay and all, who will one day receive the gratitude he so richly deserves.

8/16/2006 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Prophets seldom are comfortable, pleasant people to be around. Who ever was happy to see Nathan or Jeremiah looming on the horizon? As usual, Shakespeare wrote about this shirking tendency of man to settle for a little good, a little comfort, and leave the hard and heavy work for someone else to do:

What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event,
A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward, I do not know
Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do't.

(Hamlet, Act IV, Scene iv)

8/16/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad says his country is prepared for war with Israel and warned that the Golan Heights would be seized "by Syrian hands.”

In an interview with the Egyptian publication Al-Usbu after the ceasefire in Lebanon went into effect, Assad declared: "Syria has been prepared and ready since the first day of the war . . .

"We and the resistance (Hezbollah) read clearly that the day of confrontation was definitely approaching. The current war is five years old, and there were widespread preparations for this day.”

NewsMax

This apparently happened today, after the cease fire. Is there any reason to believe that Arab stupidity assessing the reality on the ground should be any different today?

8/16/2006 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

James Kielland,

Whack job was about all the space left on the site once you finished your magnum opus of running commentary.
I have neither the time nor inclination to spar with you over your opinions. I have mine, you have yours. That I believe you are a whack job is an opinion, but for you to invite me to post elsewhere oversteps your authority.
Had I truly wanted to insult you "whack job" would not have been the phrase or words of choice.
Please consider it just a loving embrace of the "intervention" type if it hurt your feelings.
So just keep on whack'in dude that's why we're here and when I do have the time and inclination to attempt a deprogramming of "stranger than fiction" I'll dive right into the colloquy.

8/16/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for the Hamlet, Dr Mabuse.
"If belief, even a tentative belief, is a necessary condition for humanity can we be free without it?
Can we survive without it?
"
---
ADE,
I take it you don't have kids?

8/16/2006 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Something Canadians do better than Americans

8/16/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I hurt, therefore I am.

8/16/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

the iceman cometh?

8/16/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

peterboston wrote:

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad says his country is prepared for war with Israel and warned that the Golan Heights would be seized "by Syrian hands.”

The odds of a militarily weak Syria taking it from the local mini-superpower are almost zero, but after the rocket barrage of the last month, the odds of Israel simply trading the Golan Heights for "peace" are almost zero, since even the Left can see now that any so-called peace would consist of constant tunnel-raids and rocket strikes. The "Peace Process" is the most significant fatality of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict.

8/16/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Great post, but Solzhenitsyn fundamentally misunderstands America, as distinguished from Western society in general.

His thoughts are seductive, because they echo many of our own. But many are simply wrong, and some have been disproved.

The drive for a spiritual existence that never was is the most seductive of all. Life is what you make it. Everyone has the freedom to enjoy a sunrise, or fight for ones country, or raise a family beneath the majesty of mountains. That others also have the freedom to work, to become manufactured men who choose to care about very little of importance, is a necessary cost for those who desire the spiritual life. Nothing stops one from going to the woods to live deliberately, and nothing stops one from finding a spiritual life in this vast land of plenty. Nothing except oneself.

If it is of paramount importance that one's children avoid the traps and trappings of the material world, then that one should give up his own comfortable existence to achieve it. Move to a small town in Alaska, or buy a ranch in Montana. Or perhaps settle in the Bible Belt with both hands on the Bible.

Our society allows both rampant materialism and ascetic spirituality; the predominance of one over the other is not the fault of the State. It is that those who complain lack the courage of their convictions.

Solzhenitsyn, therefore, blames any particular manifestation of the system on the Constitutional rules of the system itself. He does not pause to ponder on the majesty of a system that allows a Carter, and then follows it with a Reagan. He does not credit the unflinching morality it takes for a country to put its own cities on the line to defend unknown and distant peoples against murder and oppression. He does not understand the faith that is needed to expend massive amounts of blood and treasure in defense of abstract and universal values, and to do so for sixty years -- alone, unaided, and unthanked.

He speaks of the Watts riots and talks about the thin veneer of restraint, and yet very recently the lights went out in New York and nothing happened. He says our founders would never have thought that freedom entailed base actions, and yet we fought a revolution to keep our money, and had the Whiskey Rebellion a mere years after the Constitution was passed.

He speaks of endless materialism, and yet who among us has not thanked God for the saving grace of modern medicine? He says that Humanism without its religious heritage cannot long stand to reason, and yet now we're finding that moral jugments are not rational but emotional and intuitive. They do not need a religion or a science to manifest themselves in the heart of the hardest Man.

He calls us weak, and yet when we lose two towers and 3000 people, we take two countries and liberate 50 million. The argument over Iraq belies a central cognitive development. From now on any attack on our soil will at least result in an Afghanistan. That is not weakness. That is power, wielded by a confident people.

So, there is much in what Solzhenitsyn says that is worth hearing, but he does not understand our people, and he does not understand America.

8/16/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rush is rebelling against the defeatism forced into his consciousness by our State Dept.
What's missing:
"Summoning the Will to go after the Enemy's head."
---
Hopefully somebody like Rudy can rally us once again.

8/16/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Your hubris is overwhelming, Aristides.
Almost.

8/16/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

Buddy,

In 2004 my wife and I spent a week visiting the WWI battlefields. The cemeteries of Verdun, the Somme and Yrpes bear heart wrenching witness to Europe's 20th century self-immolation (the WWII concentration camps are the other signal cenotaphs). We ended our journey and European vacation at W.Owen's grave and then re-read his poems on the drive to Basel to return the rental car and fly home. I highly recommend a trip to the old Western front for those who wish to understand how we have gotten to our present crises.

8/16/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

re: beliefs

Our beliefs are enshrined in the Constitution. Our 'outer strategy' is pragmatic with a strong overtone of moral flavor.

Our institutional memory is profound, our ability to adapt unique. We go abroad, not in search of monsters, but in search of covalence.

We Are Fine.

8/16/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Well, Doug, I'll have to try harder.

8/16/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Good 'un, Aristides--

Doug, check out the Patton thoughts in my 'iceman' link to TCS--

8/16/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger LTEC said...

I find Solzhenitsyn's speech rambling and incoherent. It seems mostly an excuse for pushing Christianity, without any serious consideration of the history of that religion, or any suggestion of exactly what people are supposed to do who find all that Jesus stuff ridiculous. Or is he saying that all religions or "spirituality" are equally good? -- a thought that doesn't hold up very well today.

8/16/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

doug,

Thanks for the hilarious links. I was almost ready to double-up the Prozac. I feel all better now, though. But, then, I'm just a caveman.


dr. mabuse,

I thoroughly enjoyed your site, but don't make too much of that, I am, after all, merely a caveman in need of a great big societal hug and a fresh hankie.

8/16/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Aris, right you are for the most part but he did understand "our people" of the left:
"When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases."

8/16/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy,

Sorry!!! Thanks for the caveman link. You'll have to excuse me while I wait for that psychotropic rush you get from facing the world with chemistry.

8/16/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Lord Acton, I fully agree. Wretchard is spot on with his title. The elegiac mood of WWI warrior-poets as they emerged from "the war to end all wars" never reconciled with any meaning in the war, and the west has been left without defenders in the academy and arts, ever since. We get in gear when someone attacks us, though.

8/16/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

""When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights.
There are many such cases.
"
---
Part of our living Constitution, full of rights granted by man.

8/16/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

I've talked to a bunch of them. After a life under Communism, they can't adapt. Their expectations are always way too lofty for reality to provide.

Babbline, Prescient babbling, sometimee,

But babbline just the same.

8/16/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Akmanutjob quotes Democrat statistics on the State of US Health Care to Mike Wallace.

Hezbos busily provide social services to the victims of Judaeo Christian Evil.

8/16/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Rufus--that speech was a lifeline in the sodden morass of the late 70s, tho.

8/16/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

What would tyrants do without the American left? Nothing, that's what. They wouldn't even choose 'tyranny'--the prospects would be too dim.

8/16/2006 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

Wretchard,

Never underestimate the Russian soul and what it is. It is a soul whose core is spiteful jealousy. Never underestimate the Russian soul for what it cannot be and what it cannot have, because it is a Russian soul.


Good post, Aristides.

8/16/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Rattlegator got the Big Picture on the Russians--the Nomenclatura, anyway.

8/16/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

ADE,
Missed your reference to kids.
Sorry.

8/16/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Damn, I need a cup of coffee. I can't type.

babbline = babbling

sometimee = sometimes

8/16/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Doug, Great Link on the Iceman, Thanks.

8/16/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

I'll take your word for it Buddy, I was too busy running around trying to make a buck, and get laid.

The first time I heard that speech was from a little Czech Con Artist, sitting in a bar at Lake of the Ozarks. It occurred to me then, and many times since, that it's hard for people from behind the Iron Curtain (and to a lesser extent W. Europe) to understand America.

The Iceman did, though.

BTW, I was just nonplussed enough by her confusion, and drunk enough from way too much of something that I momentarily forgot what I was doing there, and went up to my room very drunk, and, alas, very alone. I wasn't too smart in those days.

Some things never change.

8/16/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Solzhenitsyn'sspeech is the only true Jeremiad (at least that I am aware of!) that came out of the twentieth century.

Like all other members of its class, it is an exercise in rhetoric, using that word in an elevated and not at all deprecatory or ironic sense.

It has to work as a whole; when one doubts any sentence, the whole structure crumbles.

I found that if I allowed myself to read it once and accept it as a whole (and not let my usual skeptical, atheistic self intrude) it works marvelously. It is truly a powerful example of the form.

Once I read a second time, admitting my real self into the reading, the work failed (for all the reasons Aritide enumerates), though there were still many moments of scintillating brilliance and prophecy.

Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Sorry, Aristide...


;-(


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

Buddy - r.e. Frozen Caveman link...I've been sensing the same thing.

It's been said many times before, those crazy Muzzies have no idea what kind of fire they are playing with. I hope to G-d that we won't have to, as an old Dutch friend would say, learn them.

8/16/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

BTW, Jamie, thanks for the Luttwak link. That was truly illuminating.

8/16/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Aristides said...

"Great post, but Solzhenitsyn fundamentally misunderstands America... His thoughts are seductive, because they echo many of our own. But many are simply wrong, and some have been disproved..."

I've read most of Solzhenitsyn's books and believe he is one of Russia's greatest writers. Read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" or "The First Circle" and you'll agree that Solzhenitsyn is up there with Tolstoy, Gogol and Pushkin. However Aristides is correct: Solzhenitsyn simply did not understand America or Western Culture (It was a blind spot for him). It was no wonder that Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia immediately after the Soviet Empire imploded.

There is much wisdom in Solzhenitsyn's writings but unfortunately he is not always correct.

8/16/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

rufus, when that speech was made, I was working out of the country quite a bit, and was seeing the USA become a laughing stock day-by-day, under the helm of the guy I had voted for.

I had just started reading National Review and the WSJ editorial page (Robert Bartley, esp), in search of what the hell was going so wrong.

Those two were about the only publications--or indeed media of any kind--that were, at that time, receptive to such a Jeremiad (thnx Jamie), and they both made a pretty big deal over the speech.

USSR was on the march, inflation & rates were 20%, I was a new dad trying to buy a house, and that speech was one of things that slapped me crost da face and helped make me finally put my 60s party hat away (about a decade late, as is my usual).

8/16/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Eggplant, you wrote:

There is much wisdom in Solzhenitsyn's writings but unfortunately he is not always correct...

I agree with your assessment that Solz. is a major writer, though he is not up there (IMO) with the greats of the nineteenth century (just compare book sales as a very crude measure!).

When he was writing fiction, the artist was in charge and the gears meshed, so to speak.

When he tried to become a prophet/ social critic, he became as fallible as the next guy.


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Yes, Buddy, I agree with others here that that "Unfrozen Caveman Voter" article of Josh Manchester's captures what's about to happen (I believe) exactly.


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

When I grow up, I hope to be half the man Solzhenitsyn is.

While Mr. Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher were rightly castigating the Evil Empire, Solzhenitsyn was physically facing its homicidal wrath as a prisoner of conscience. Why, I bet there are people reading this thread who quake with fear at a traffic ticket or the boss’s frown.

As to the vindication of his criticisms of Western timidity, vacillation, and moral decay, Solzhenitsyn could rely upon this site’s ample store of insights. Ever indicative will be the West’s decades of bowing to wealthy Islamofascists, lest we forget. And, this latest escapade in Lebanon will not be the West's finest hour, in my opinion.

It is too bad he is a Ruskie, though.

8/16/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Buddy,

Here's one of Owens' masterworks, one of my favorites:

Futility

Move him into the sun --
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds --
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, -- still warm, -- too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
-- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?




Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Jamie Irons said...

"When he was writing fiction, the artist was in charge and the gears meshed, so to speak.
When he tried to become a prophet/ social critic, he became as fallible as the next guy."

I agree with Jamie that many of Solzhenitsyn's later nonfiction books were not that good (some of them are unreadable). After Solzhenitsyn was exiled from Russia it seemed he was disconnected from his creative force. However I'm confident that 50 years from now "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" will be required reading at university literature courses along with "Taras Bulba" and "How Much Land Does a Man Need?".

8/16/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Well, I guess that that would be the one big perk of the warming of the Globe...the accelerated thawing/awakening of us Neanderthaleans & Cro-Magnonians. TURN UP THE HEAT!
Pardon I must get back to my knapping.

8/16/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Owen's!

Moi, le roi des apostrophes!


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Owen's!

Moi, le roi des apostrophes!


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Sorry for the double post; browser glitch...


;-(


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Owens was crying out against Nature herself. Could the Royal's rights--conferred by Nature as was the spell--be far behind? Poet sensibility + Battle of the Somme = change something somewhere.

8/16/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Following is a comment I posted on a previous thread. For some reason (likely my ineptitude) the comment disappeared but I think it fits again today. I must add that I would disagree with Solzhenitsyn on the waneing of our moral fiber because I see it everyday when watching people go about their daily business. I believe there are many of us who have great moral will but no longer feel the need for ceremony or display.

Peter Boston:

“It all seems so clear from this keyboard. Different world views are competing for dominance. One side knows they want to win and will do anything to get there while the other side dithers on whether they really mean it and whether the battle is worth fighting.”

I am not sure that the other side is dithering on what the other side means as much as they are suffering from practicing a lawyer-ing mentality that our society has become used to. We have internalized the idea of collecting a large file of evidence before we make any move, postponing the court date in hopes the other party fails to show and plea-bargaining. That much lamented day where a simple, powerful statement delivered loudly, quickly, without regret and sets things right may have come and gone because at the most appropriate and opportune time we had a lawyer at our helm. We have lulled ourselves into depending on legislation to a point where sending troops may no longer mean defending ourselves as much as it means using hired hands so that we feel protected from the results of making personal sacrifice or taking responsibility.

As dark as it seems lately maybe we should remember that we have by vote now chosen a born again free market loving poker playing oilman to guide our ship. He told our schools to leave no child behind and despite the hand wringing and excuse laden dance done in protest, the test scores (at least in my state) have begun to rise. He took us to Iraq without the nod of France or the U.N. and now has maneuvered those two onto the public record singing (not necessarily on key) a somewhat more appealing tune. This happening although considered by some a mistake and by others not fast and furious enough, I think, has been well noted by the enemy.

I am hoping that the enemy hasn’t noticed the possibility that there may be a great number who ARE waking from the sleep and quietly beginning, out of necessity and a wee bit of the rekindling of a sense of responsibility, to busy themselves using the creativity our freedom allows in the same way that during another time and another war we were knitting socks and mailing care packages.

I, for one and partly because as Wretchard has written translation is a problem, am going to wait a bit longer and begin looking for different and maybe less familiar patterns or clues before declaring that all has been lost.

8/16/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

One thing, tho. Nothing lasts forever. 30,000 KIA in one day at the Somme was surely paid for by WWII. Britain owes no apology to anyone anymore. The last regret, the last bitterness, should be chased from memory by the nature of this new challenge.

England's old colonies are far better off than their neighbors, and besides, that was then and this is now.

There's this new--and big--job to do. The other way of looking at Flanders Fields is that, while they are a permanent reminder of futility, they are even more an obligation to not extend and increase it, by letting the culture fade away into something worse even than futility--which is at least an emotion that the living feel.

8/16/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Nelson Ascher is brilliant...


Jamie Irons


(via Instapundit)

8/16/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

A thrill to wake up this morning to a hat tip from our host. His posts - and a quotient of the comments! - have stimulated many neurochemical reactions in my dwindling store of gray matter.

Another world rocking Solzhenitsyn speech was his 1983 Templeon Prize Address, "Men have forgotten God" found at

www.roca.org/OA/36/36h.htm
(and other sites)

Been peeling on this Onion since I got over my rich-white-liberal college phase (at age 29 or so). This site is the best I've found on the web. But for some real serious onion peeling I will again recommend Toynbee's 'Study of History'. I'm finishing volume V. now - it is the reading equivalent to eating a 5 course meal, one probably not to the taste of those who don't care for Mr. Solzhenitsyn.

8/16/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Buddy,

Though Owen's poem is clearly in some sense an "anti-war" poem, it is such a great work of art, "small" as it is in line count, that I read it as a monument to futility (which is, after all, a major part of our human experience) more generally.

I once used it to introduce a talk about "medical futility" (this really is a subject of actual study, believe it or not) at a medical ethics conference. The whole audience seemed to "get" it.


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

5 STAR 5 course meal!

8/16/2006 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The artificial separation between East and West that was upheld during the Cold War has collapsed and the commonalities that existed as being on either team East or team West have collapsed along with it. The centrist plank of the Democratic party found companionship with the centrist plank of the Republican party and the strength that this collaboration created held the extremes of both parties at bay.

The battle between right and left has been engaged and it is clear that the extremes of both sides, Pat Buchanan and Noam Chomsky believe that the interloper in this conflict, radical Islam, is either a paranoid construct of the other side or just desserts for meddling in world affairs, sprinkled in with an unhealthy alliance with the state of Israel.

We are faulted that we think that we are in league with all nations in a world-wide bazaar where producers bring goods and services according to their ability and this market theory does not mesh with other cultural models of the world. In his book, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”, Thomas Friedman makes the case that the nations of the world would adopt open systems and institute transparency or, as Friedman states, put on a “Golden Straight Jacket”. But it is clear that while some democracies may acquiesce to this model, others will not.

I recently read a paper by Bruno Latour that asked the question whether civilization was in a process of “Progress or Entanglement?”, and it begs the question as the world shrinks are we becoming more aligned in our system of beliefs or are conflicting heterogeneous systems being collided together in a way that will only end in strife and war?

8/16/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

That 'shout'--that Jane speaks of--is terrible to behold. 'Terrible' in that Old Testament sense. Sure like that post. The markets have had two resounding rallies in a row now. I know, thoughts of war and peace don't fit that well in 'trade talk'--but as Jamie was saying re 'antiwar' poetry, that it can be read in many ways, these last two days have seen one of those shouts and it is about the war. It's about the sense that the west is waking up.

8/16/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

lord acton,

Not long ago, we witnessed the Muslim mob terrorize and render helpless the country of France. More appalling still was fact that the perpetrators were youth.

Sometime afterward, the Great Cartoon War overwhelmed nearly every European government. In fact, even here in the US, major media has still demur publication of the offending doodles.

Is Solzhenitsyn's appraisal of the West given short shrift today because he has foreseen the death of religion among Western elites as symptomatic of a terminal illness?
If the religious component were removed from his thesis, I think he would be roundly applauded as the greatest prophet since Isaiahs I, II, and III. In this respect, the disdain shown him in some quarters may prove his point.

Toynbee, Tolkien, and Lewis were all products of the Great Catastrophe of 1914-1918. Each in his own way tried to reconcile his trauma to his faith. Not unlike the great impediment to faith of Jews caused by the Shoah.

I have noticed that Tolkien’s editorship of the Jerusalem Bible has not harmed his reputation.

Apropos our poem of the day, both Lewis and Tolkien were veterans of the Somme.

Oh, thank you for the link.

8/16/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

"still demurs"

8/16/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

I've often said that the West needs a new religion. Christianity has a lot of excellent points. However, a worldview that is 2,000 years old needs some serious refreshing to get up to date with what we've learned over that time. Too many people are no longer buying it to the peripheral theology that they are losing the core.

But why do we NEED a religion? I'd look to a sociobiological explanation that Solzhenitsyn touches on. A people with religion will prevail as a group over a competing group without a religion although individuals would self-sacrifice. Hence, people with no religious "gene" would survive and proprogate less than a people with such a gene.

The Islamists have that gene and it is vigorously expressed in our post-Cold War world. They sense our weakness.

It is buried in almost all of us and awaits only a challenge before it is awakened as a matter of cultural survival.

It's going to get bloody unless the Muslim world can be "humanized" like the West with "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy."

8/16/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Today marks the anniversary of the deaths of Elvis Presley and Abu Nidal.

Today, is the alleged date for carrying out the alleged airline detonations by the alleged British terrorists.

By the way, one of the alleged terrorists has been allegedly tortured, and Her Majesty's government is allegedly concerned.

To be clear, the dates of death are not alleged.

8/16/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Alexander Solzhenitsyn indirectly raised the issue of citizenship. That is, although one may have the right to do evil within one’s society, there ought to be a sense of citizenship for individuals and organizations that transcends individual profit at the expense of others. I am talking about patriotism, in the sense of caring about the interests of one’s community.

I disagree with his equation of commercialism and materialism. I think it is possible to be spiritually materialistic in the sense of desiring conditions within the material world to be better than they are. And I think one’s willingness to care about the welfare of other people is not dependent upon one’s religiosity. However, I agree with him on the danger of lethargic skepticism.

Science is threatened by both religious fanaticism and lethargic skepticism. Science requires an absolute faith that the universe can be understood coupled with an absolute skepticism of the explanations he has heard so far. The threat of religious fanaticism is obvious – religious fanatics are gullible and will assert that their leader’s interpretation of some ancient text is true, while what one sees with one’s own eyes cannot be trusted.

Yet, skeptical lethargy is at least as dangerous, as the lethargic skeptic asserts that since the universe is meaningless, the effort and hard work necessary for scientific achievement is also pointless. Such men will spend their time and money on games, trivialities, and hookers, seeing only their own self-indulgence as their only true deity. Such lethargic skeptics only care about the short term, for any truly long term plans would necessarily mean sometime after one’s own death. And that would mean caring about the welfare of other people. Such people engage in many pursuits, but they will be easily bored by anything they try. If the government doesn’t accomplish the impossible immediately, the lethargic skeptic will lose patience with the lack of results, preferring instead to elect liars who tell him everything is alright and buy him more time to rack up short-term profits. Think of the bumper sticker -- “We’re spending our children’s inheritance!”

I perceive this Islamism of our enemies to be the flip side of skeptical lethargy.

While I advocate freedom, I am as bitterly opposed to the ideology of “The American Dream” plugged by the Mainstream Media as the Islamists. I do not equate owning a house, mowing a lawn, wearing mall clothes, and listening to the latest musical fad with being an American. To me, freedom means that I have the right to be who I want to be, so long as I hurt nobody else to be that way. It doesn’t mean that I must kowtow to the fashion tyrants of New York, Hollywood, or even Nashville. I think that progressive conformity in fashion, coupled with its planned obsolescence, has become a bane to modern society and every bit as antithetical to human freedom as the dress codes of Iran.

That said, I don’t necessarily agree with Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s characterization of the problem. There are atheists who are more respectful of the laws of the universe than those who are overtly religiously minded. I would argue that it is more respectful of G-d to refrain from prayer yet build one’s house outside the flood plain than it is to build one’s house on the flood plain and then pray incessantly to one’s deity, asking Him to spare one’s house. Likewise, I would argue that there is greater respect for Him by those who would be willing to entertain the idea that the Essence of Existence could act randomly than assuming that He creates through a particular preconceived design. (Did G-d really stop creating the universe after the first seven days…?) Religious fanaticism and lethargic skepticism have in common an essential self-worship, for the religious fanatic typically equates his own whims with the will of his deity.

Real prayer isn’t about asking G-d for favors. It isn’t about talking to Him. And it isn’t about telling Him what to do. He doesn’t need our prayers. It’s about listening to Him. And in perceiving the universe as in some manner as a reflection of something greater (if only the laws of nature themselves), the scientist listens to the natural world.

8/16/2006 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger just a marine said...

Solzhenitsyn had his thoughts and experience. I have mine. Some may converge and some may not converge.

Things in historical perspective

The dynamics of human action are “all over the map”. Understanding them contributes to formulating practical policies of the present. Understanding them helps individuals make a path through the forest.

The lessons of history must be relearned by every generation.

The subset of the previous is that the lessons of Pearl Harbor must be relearned by our enemies every generation ( from tereista at the Belmont Club blog).

The present world war started by Iran and extreme Islam is necessary to bring debate, confusion, obfuscation, evasion, and hope for talk-to-work to a conclusion. All attacked countries will unite to fight back. The attacked countries that don’t fight back militarily will have the government removed by the people.

The western predilection towards isolationism, pacificism, self-indulgence, welfare, and tolerance will become stronger.

The western concept of nation state will be ameliorated by the human preference for tribes first. Earlier boundary commission borders will change. Horrible small wars will happen as a result. The example of the breakup of British India and today’s continued fighting on the sub-continent are the obvious example, today.

The western concepts of nationalism , universal suffrage, and women’s emancipation will continue to spread to future nations and tribes.

The establishment of the state of Israel is permanent in our lifetimes. For a thousand years, I don’t know. This includes the USA and the rest of the world.

The expansion of the human population will exacerbate political, religious, and resource friction.

Numbers count. If a tribe has 1 billion members, then 00.01% of that tribe is 100,000. That’s a lot of people.

Breeding rates of tribes do affect history.

Wars are started by people who suffer from overconfidence and misinformation. Megalomania is almost always a factor, also.

Wars are both large and small.

For war, think of Russians and Germans at Stalingrad, as in millions of people in a battle. If you want to think of a downsized war, as Sergey Gorshkov discussed in his book “Red Star Rising at Sea” , then think of the USMC and Navy, and Japan’s Army and Navy, at Guadalcanal. In his book, he put wars in his perspective based on the numbers of fighting men.

Wars have to be paid for. Savvy to understand how wars are fought at all elements and levels will be expanded (compared to the past), to include finance when this element can be exploited in large wars. In the east, local loyalties (albeit temporary) can also often be bought in small wars.

The present vast oil income by middle eastern countries and tribes has a finite end. This end will cease the financing of the extreme minority of Islam trying to dominate the world today.

Multi-culturalism is a failed concept for nations and tribes. Melting pots are back in.

Globalization is a mostly failed academic theory (now often still applied as policy) to homogenize the world. Nations and tribes are in it for the foreseeable future, though. Then it will ebb. Much friction will come.

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. God help us all.

School education of humans (males and females) will increase in numbers. This expansion will take generations (on average about 30 years per generation) and what to teach young people will always be a debate within nations and tribes as to knowledge vs. propaganda vs. customs vs. religion.

Media reporting will change. Western media will evolve towards subject matter standards based reporting ( “just the news” will be predominant), and eastern government reporting will evolve towards western standards. Western media as a big business will also evolve towards the standard of review to ensure the “news only” is reported. The era of the media as the fourth estate and a war fighting influence will winnow down.

Hollywood’s heyday is on the ebb. The Hollywood culture as advanced by the people who make the movies is being rejected in the USA and the rest of the world.

Astute reading of media reports will help put things in perspective. For example, if reports of attacks in Afghanistan mention a 20% increase in violence, and we only had 10 attacks, then a 20% increase is statistically not very significant. For another example, if there are 90,000 (+) commercial aviation flights daily in the world, then a theoretical 1% increase in incidents is a different matter.

The western world’s consumption of drugs will end many western cultures as they are today.

The western consumption of drugs pays the incomes of those drug producing humans who are tribal at best, and defeats efforts to establish nation states in the third world where these people live.

There is a fair amount of corruption in the world, and the rule of law is often lacking in a nation state or parts of the nation state. And there is also a significant amount of criminality in many countries, which can also be violent places at times. Always consider the criminal element in their simple role in the social fabric of many countries. (Our USA’s banana wars in the 20s and 30s understood this, exploited this, and prosecuted this though the Marines, Navy, and State Department.)

History is change. Change can be exploited. And change is undeniable.

Change is usually gradual, and periodically cataclysmic. Change can be from an act of God, or humans.

The movement of humans (often called immigration) is part of human history. The main reason is family. Fathers and mothers will do what needs to be done to promote their progeny. The primary reason is work and peace (quality of life in modern western talk). Knowing an Afgani friend quite well, giving his daughter a western opportunity is also a factor for her and his tribe. That the trend is from the third world to the western countries says much for: the golden rule, the western standards, opportunity, and being tolerant.

The immigrants’ fear or avoidance of returning home is also a factor. This has been taught to me by Somali and Vietnamese friends working hard in the USA.

The path to the human future is through western ideology. This ideology provides a good chance for we humans to continue to exist. Elements of this ideology include social, economic, political, cultural, technological, and war fighting practices.

The best of eastern ideologies, of which there are many, are constantly being meshed with western practices in all nations and tribes.

The path of ideologies is a two way path. The paths are not the same size.

All people, tribes, and nations are not created equal. Promoters of moral equivalency are morally ignorant, educated fools, or both.

The chasm in thought, how and what to think, between western and eastern peoples, is wide, and bridgeable.

The concept, practice, and respect for deceit is a major cultural chasm between the eastern and the western peoples.

People of all nations and tribes will always unite to fight to protect their families.

Suppression of one group by another within a nation state or tribe is untenable in the long run. Unchecked power of one group within a nation state or tribe is also untenable in the long run. Eventually a rebellion, civil war, or breakup will occur. The creation of Bangladesh is a recent example of this perspective. Cuba may be next based on Castro’s death.

The concept of a United Nations or League of Nations to replace wars, rebellions, or civil wars as a means of diplomatic redress is another failed idea. The acceptance of world government is not even close to political reality.

Leaders, both individual and party, of nation states and tribes, always seek the positions of power; and then usually formulate actions and policies to perpetuate the status quo. Those that think of documents such as constitutions or policies that promote the peoples’ futures are few and far between.

Honest people can disagree. Honesty never over comes ignorance, agendas, cultural chasms, and megalomania.

Don’t trust anyone under thirty.

8/16/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

buddy larson

One thing, tho. Nothing lasts forever. 30,000 KIA in one day at the Somme was surely paid for by WWII. Britain owes no apology to anyone anymore.

Same would go for the krau...I mean the German Empire, if you look at the whole battle and not just the first day (which indeed was a British fiasco).

First Somme (1916)

Entente Cordiale: 146,431 killed or missing

German Empire: 164,055 killed or missing

8/16/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Yes, Solzhenitsyn was prophet when he presented his diagnosis of the west. I find so little to disagree with in his speech that I might say that I agreed with all of it. Yes, it was a disturbing critique and I shouldn't be surprised by some of the more negative reactions here because in general most of us posting here decry these very issues. I suppose that some of us don't particularly like hearing criticism from an outsider, particularly a Russian. Others are supersensitive to anything spriritual particularly when it is humanism itself which is being denounced. Afterall what secular humanist wants to read," Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected." or be insulted with"the calamity of a despritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness."

Here is the heart of Solzhenitsyn's prophesy, delivered in the belly of the beast, Harvard University in 1978.
"But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?"

I'm sorry my friends, when he speaks of the materialism, the humanism, the decadence, the lack of faith in God, I know exactly what he is talking about. I see the same symptoms everyday. It looks like a decaying western society to me. Like it or not, I suspect this is the prevailing worldview of Bible believing Christians. It is a world that is increasingly alien. Sad to say.

8/16/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

If there is a spiritual vacuum in the Western mind, what will fill it? Leftist Intellectuals born from the general Judeo-Christian tradition have done a great job of destroying their own God. Some secular manifestations of "morality" remain, but they are without real depth and meaning.

Somehow, through the Church of Diversity, these intellectuals have protected every spiritual tradition but their own. Do they hope that someday these "savages" will see the light of secularism and abandon their own religions, just as the intellectuals have?

Islam gives these "savages" depth and meaning that leftist intellectuals can't begin to understand.

Faith gives the faithful a strength and resolve that secular humanists can't understand. Leftist intellectuals are ill-equipped to clearly see the spiritual juggernaut of Miltant Islam and its potentially catastrophic acts of "faith" that are headed straight for them.

Militant Islam *may* be a religion that will ultimately destroy itself - but it will destroy everything around it as well, either before or concurrently with its own demise.

8/16/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

allen:

This is in response to your question from the last thread, but I think these comments indirectly relate to this thread, too.

I would argue that the United States is a crypto-patriarchy – a place where patriarchy thrives so long as it is camouflaged in the language of equality. That said, the United States has greatly diverged from the strictures of true patriarchy, to the point where it can legitimately be regarded as a heresy against the barbarity of Abraham.

While American culture has been strongly influenced by the marriage revolution of the Medieval Christianity and its Protestant ethos, I think it has also been influenced by the matriarchies of American slave society and several Indian confederacies. I would argue that increasing respect for the role of women, pantheism, and the “separation of powers” are ideological contributions of the Iroqouis to Enlightenment thought. The African influence on American society is also profound. Beyond the obvious musical influences of southern slave society, black culture has pulled America’s political structure away from patriarchy and especially slavery, which is the closest to true patriarchy our nation has become.

If one compares Sayyid Qutb’s hatred of American culture and the agitation of his segregationist contemporaries against “Negro Music”, one would find identical concerns. Islamist segregationism and Jim Crow segregationism share the same concern over hierarchical control and have the same fear of jazz. And whatever else may be said, black music has historically tended to threaten hierarchy, not merely in its sexuality but especially in subverting patriarchy’s definition of masculinity.

Beyond the overtly military, political, and economic aspects of this war, the essential prize of this conflict is the globalized definition of the natures of masculinity and femininity. Our enemies are trying to control fashion, not merely locally, but seeking to force the rest of the world to perceive their narrow-mindedness as fashionable.

One of the key differences between matriarchy and patriarchy lies within the psychology of the men. In patriarchy, a man’s masculinity is tied to how much money he can generate. In matriarchy, a man’s masculinity is tied to how tough he is, or perhaps how artistic, musical, or visionary he is. One essential problem, though, is while matriarchal men thrive within a matriarchal culture, they don’t do so well within patriarchies. On the other hand, while patriarchal families tend to do very well in matriarchal (or even crypto-patriarchal) societies, they cannot replicate their success within a patriarchal framework.

(Actually, the patriarchal subcultures that thrive the best in the United States are the peculiar kinds of patriarchy one finds among Jews, Chinese, Shi’ites, Armenians and Shiva-worshipping Hindus. That is, there are cultures of “market dominant minorities” that excel in commerce precisely because their cultures disdain commerce. These cultures value literacy above all and encourage book learning to such an extent that merchant families feel strong pressure to succeed so they can afford to support a rabbi, mandarin, priest, or ayatollah. These “Asiatic” subcultures are able to keep their identities despite strong outside pressures precisely because they value their literacy.)

I would argue that the historic dominance of blacks among American pimps comes largely from the effect of having matriarchal men living within a comparatively patriarchal society. Prostitution functions as a commercially polyandrous buttress for patriarchal society, and matriarchal men tend to fit in very well within the “upside-down” world of the demi-monde. While patriarchal men tend to equate masculinity with money, matriarchal men don’t. (Matriarchal men tend to excel at sports, music, the military, and the arts.)

Even if Sparta had not had Greek slavery, even if Sparta had not been an oligarchy, even if Sparta had not had state-sanctioned pederasty, and even if Sparta weren't so overtly hostile to commerce (although their society, like some high plains Indian societies, would have relegated commercial trade to women!), and even if Sparta had not been so rural and isolated, I would still argue that Athens and Sparta would have had a severe ideological quarrel over what Aristotle called “Gynekratia”. Athens was the most patriarchal society in Greece, for it had state-sanctioned commercial prostitution, women in the cloister, and early marriage of girls. Athenian men were in control over their women. Sparta, in contrast, rated martial toughness and musical talent above commerce.

When I criticize true patriarchy, I don’t think the Spartan model is necessarily the way to go. I do think, though, that the American model of freedom, however imperfect, is very far away from the tyranny of Abraham. (I dare call it the theological terrorism of classic patriarchy.) Although Arab nationalists like to make fatuous comparisons to American Indians, they don’t realize that the very cultural traits they hate in Americans are magnified within American Indians. Furthermore, Indian boarding schools have a closer resemblance to how the Ottoman devshirme treated Christian boys. And the historical Muslim treatment of Jews (and Christians) mirrors the worst of Jim Crow.

Is Andrea Yates a holy woman? Is she a saint? In America, killing one’s children is either a crime or a ticket to an insane asylum. In Palestine, killing one’s children means riches, acclaim, and a seat in Parliament for Mrs. Farhat. Abraham could be lionized for his willingness to not kill his son (Ishmael or Isaac, depending upon the religious tradition), especially since his neighbors engaged in child sacrifice. (One could argue that some Middle Easterners still do...) Yet, Abraham is revered in both Judaism and Islam for his willingness to kill his son, not for his willingness to spare him. It is precisely this lionization of Abraham as the “sacred murderer” that makes me regard Middle Eastern patriarchy as essentially theological terrorism to make sons fear their fathers and wives fear their husbands.

Muslims like to say that their religion is the purist version of the religion of Abraham. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they are correct. So what? I would argue that Christianity and especially Judaism have vastly improved over the millennia. Moreover, should one ascribe to a religion that lionizes child sacrifice, patriarchal tyranny, “honor killings” (unless the society instead engages in temple prostitution, particularly temple duty for unmarried women), and craven idolatry to stone idols. (There is reason to think that Abraham’s shrine at Beth-el was actually a shrine to a meteorite, much like those in the ancient holy city of Tyre, the ancient holy city of Paphos, and the modern holy city of Makkah. It would take some involved discussion of Phoenician religious practices to explain this assertion, though.)

Beyond the symbolic offense the very name “World Trade Center” exhibits to the mono-idolatry of those who seek to destroy any perceived rival to their main haram, and beyond the obvious penis envy involved, “western” society in general and American society in particular have culturally diverged in a massive way from the Pharaonic ideology of “divine right”. Our very existence is an insult to the ideology of Pharaoh.

The ideology of Pharaonic imperialism has historically won. Alexander’s conquests and the demise of the Roman Republic were huge victories for Pharaonic imperialistic ideology in Mediterranean antiquity. In modern times, the twin revolutions of the United States and France have given a challenge to the priest-kings of despotic intolerance.

I would argue that while American black society has suffered from the legacy of slavery, condescension, illiteracy, and self-doubt, it has succeeded in pushing the wider American society away from patriarchy and toward something closer to a cultural equilibrium. If it weren’t for the segregation and condescension implicit within “affirmative action”, I think there would have been a higher rate of intermarriage. As it is, the importance of black churches as the social bedrock of black culture suggests that if black churches took upon themselves the charge of instilling literacy much like Hebrew school does for Jewish children, black literacy and social success would be much greater.

Along these lines, I predict that Ethiopian and Sudanese immigrants to the United States will be as successful as Jews, Lebanese, and Chinese immigrants before them.

[“I would argue that” means that I am asserting something that I could explain in more depth, but where I choose not to for the sake of brevity.]

I hope this essay helps to explain how black matriarchy figures into this war.

8/16/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

aristedes

Rationalism has improved our institutions but there is no evidence that emotive-intuitive morality has improved on the first principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Since human knowledge is cumulative, we do not invent the wheel each generation, shouldn't rationalism alone have attained a more universal, more perfect moral imperative than what we had 2,000 years ago?

Solzhenitsyn doesn't have to be right on everything to not be wrong on everything. I think that Solzhenitsyn sees the Juedo-Christian tradition as the spine stiffening bulwark against the totalitarianism of the perfectly ordered society.

8/16/2006 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

PB
Agreed.

8/16/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Dozens of BC members become impotent with bizarre fantasies of the collapsing towers.

8/16/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

There you have it. It's better that thousands of lives be cavalierly discarded than run the risk of taking action on something that may not, under careful examination, satisfy the rules of evidence.

Opinion Journal

If that is not the totalitarianism of the perfectly ordered society please tell me what is.

8/16/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

Alexis,

The argument for purity of the Abrahamic religion and God is embedded in the fact that Isaac remained alive and gave birth to Israel. It is an argument that the Ishmaelites are hard trying to deny and erase.

8/16/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space.
Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror.
It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept.
Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.
"
---
Then there is the State/NEA nanny in loco parentis teaching everything that is antithetical to what got us to this point.

8/16/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

And so, if as Aristides and others proclaim Solzhenitsyn just doesn't understand the good ole USA, what are those who asset that they are of stronger courage and have greater moral clarity to do when the Democrats take over the House and declare it time to leave Iraq. And, indeed what have you been doing while Reed and company have been fiddling away YOUR opportunity to place Just / Judges in our high courts throughout the land.
Somehow, I haven't seen the great uprising and meeting of the challenges to return our land to moral responsibility We are STILL enmeshed in Moral Equivalence. Evil is real and sometimes it even makes material sense to endorse it; and hence many do or at least they justify it.

8/16/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

This cultural lament offered by Solzhenistyn is essentially the same as that which has been appearing on the pages of National Review and other conservative journals for as long as I can remember. It's stock-in-trade conservative cultural critique, really, and helps explain why so many conservatives are, at best, ambiguous defenders of that which they would endeavor to conserve.

8/16/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I can give you the name of 10,000 businessmen/industrialists/scientists/engineers/investors/etc that have done vastly more for humanity than any preacher, at any time, that you can name.

I'm sorry folks, I equate religion with wars, ignorance and poverty. I equate commerce with prosperity, health education, and happiness. The very idea that walking around waving a bible/koran/torah/blah blah, would make someone a more moral person flies in the face of this redneck's lifetime of observations.

8/16/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


Rush's first hour on the surreal chain of events that leave us wondering if anyone is really serious about fighting this war...

---
It looks as though Rush has made his entire first hour available for free. Looks like a complete transcript, also.
It's priceless.
I am baffled by those here that ridicule the belief in magic yet seem to have unlimited faith in this administration.
I don't.

8/16/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

peterboston: emotive-intuitive morality has improved on the first principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The findings of Harvard's Cognitive Evolution Laboratory argue that moral judgments are primal, tied to our emotional, intuitive intelligence and not to our rationality.

Without treading on too many toes, this means the 'ten commandments', for instance, derived first as emotional intuitions, and over time became codified as laws.

All social animals evolve a system of ethics that governs intra- and inter-group behavior. The reason they can do this is not because they can reason, and it's not because they were told by the Bible. They can do this because of some selected-for mechanism that was imparted to them by evolution.

We are simply the most advanced social animals. We have evolved the ability to talk about our moral judgments, but we have not (yet) evolved the ability not to have them. The process of socialization itself guarantees moral intuition. The flip side, that a lack of socialization retards the development of moral intuition, can be seen in the roque elephant phenomenon, in addition to other situations much closer to home.

In this process of socialization, a covalent bond of identity develops that allows an agent to separate "us" from "them". This distinction plays in the background and strongly affects what we determine to be morally good and morally bad (this is intuitive if you think about it), in addition to Hauser's findings that sometimes a morally bad action will be judged intentional just by virtue of its being judged morally bad (think Muslims' fantasy of 'war on Islam' because somewhere some Muslim was killed). The interplay of those two phenomena can explain much about the ways humans interact and judge each others' actions.

As for Solzhenitsyn, he speaks much truth. But anybody that speaks in the language of religion is disadvantaged, not in meaning, which can be imparted poetically as well as scientifically, but in precision.

8/16/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(NRO: Sharia and Our Friends the Yemenis)

(WSJ: A Loophole Emerges In Yemeni Campaign Against Extremists)
Sharia and Our Friends the Yemenis [Andy McCarthy]
From Monday's Wall Street Journal. As you read, remember we have preserved Islamic law in the constitutions the State Department helped draft for Afghanistan and Iraq:

8/16/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(WP: A Path To Lasting Peace - Condoleezza Rice)

(Los Angeles Times: LA Area Muslims Criticize Schwarzenegger)

(USA Today: Rice: Not U.N.'s job to disarm Hezbollah)

(NY Times: Hezbollah Leads Work to Rebuild, Gaining Stature)

(NewsMax: Syria President Assad Threatens War)

(WP: Hezbollah Balks At Withdrawal From the South)

8/16/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(AP: Bush drops reference to 'Islamic fascists')

8/16/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Allen: Whole new meaning to One God!

8/16/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Doug:
Give us a bit of the WSJ story. (It's only available with subscription.)

8/16/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Aristededs said:

"As for Solzhenitsyn, he speaks much truth. But anybody that speaks in the language of religion is disadvantaged, not in meaning, which can be imparted poetically as well as scientifically, but in precision."

I submit:

"I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me" Isaiah 46:9;

Not much ambiguity there; sounds precise to me.

8/16/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Doug's link....

"In a statement after its weekly meeting, the Saudi Cabinet "warned against labeling Muslims with accusations of terrorism and fascism."
Bush didn't repeat the reference to "Islamic fascists" at the State Department today, referring instead to "individuals that would like to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives."

How about: "presidents that would like to WAFFLE to achieve political objectives."

8/16/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

rufus

I'm sorry folks, I equate religion with wars, ignorance and poverty. I equate commerce with prosperity, health education, and happiness.

You must not have heard about the Word-Faith doctrine, aka the Prosperity Gospel" aka "Health and Wealth" aka "Name It and Claim It" aka "Blab It and Grab It"
It goes like this: God wants you to be rich and/or healthy, but He can not bless you unless you first send a seed-faith offering to Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey or Benny Hinn (take your pick).

8/16/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger RAB said...

A few thoughts from the peanut gallery....
.Solzhenitsyn may not fully understand America but he illuminates the ugly trend
.Instead of our businesses and universities having sensitivity and diversity classes we should require a comprehensive class on this speech.
.Seems to me he came down hard on the lawyers and those who run to the nearest lawyer.
.2164th....great choice of words..."intellectual thunder"
.Sad that in the intervening years the impact of this speech has been nil.
.It makes me feel that I didn't do enough(good) during my long life

8/16/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Trish said:

It's stock-in-trade conservative cultural critique, really, and helps explain why so many conservatives are, at best, ambiguous defenders of that which they would endeavor to conserve...

That hurts!


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Whit,
The Rush and Andy McCarthy sypsis (s w/an apostrophe somewhere) are the best I can do.
Betcha Buddy has a subscription to the evil WSJ.

8/16/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

synopsises
Now Im paranoid!

8/16/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Rufus,

The very idea that walking around waving a bible/koran/torah/blah blah, would make someone a more moral person flies in the face of this redneck's lifetime of observations.

I have been known to wave a Torah. I wasn't struck by lightning (probably should have been).

I'm sorta moral.

;-)

Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Teresita,
Don't forget Steve Martin and Chevy Chase!

8/16/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Doug,

It would appear that one of your synopses failed to fire.

I can help.

;-)

Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Rem870 said...

Rufus said, "I can give you the name of 10,000 businessmen/industrialists/scientists/engineers/investors/etc that have done vastly more for humanity than any preacher, at any time, that you can name."

I'll give you two that changed the world as we know it:

The Apostle Paul
Martin Luther

Mark 8:36 - For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

8/16/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jamie,
This Bottle's for You.
---
Fast squid beats slow limpet with a speedy sodium channel
Over a bottle of a good California Merlot, he posed a question about sodium channels, the proteins that start each electrical nerve impulse. ...

8/16/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Doug reads the daily papers:

8/16/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

One of the interesting claims that Solzhenitsyn makes in his speech is that those who have been under the yoke of communism are more appreciative of the value of freedom than those typically indolent types living safe and sound in the West.

Perhaps his perspective is understandable considering the attitudes prevalent in the late 80’s in the U.S. At that time we had a President who professed to be quite religious but in reality proved to have no trace of spirituality and to be a moral relativist of the worst type. In 1978 members of the U.S. military still felt uncomfortable wearing their uniforms in civilian settings – especially in places such as Cambridge, MA – where ROTC is still not allowed on the campus to this day.

Of course, ten years almost all of this had changed – but just after the fall of the USSR, Solzhenitsyn once more made the claim that the newly freed people of Russia, forged in the fire of communist oppression would lead civilization out of the darkness – theirs was the future, not the even more indolent West

Today, there is no evidence of this, none at all. The good fight is being fought by Americans, Australians, British, with only a little support from the rest of Europe, either verbally or by carrying iron. Poland came through with special forces for OIF, and the Czechs and a few others have aided in small ways, but from Russia itself there are more problems, not solutions.

Perhaps the greatest measure of a people’s spirit, and the qualities described by Solzhenitsyn
is their willingness to undergo trials and spend their blood and treasure to “bestow the blessings of liberty” on others. Americans and our closest allies meet that measure today more than any other people; Russians certainly do not.

8/16/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Gilly has long since paid off his debt of a bottle of wine, admitting that Gillette and his limpets won the bet ­ though he said that's the only race a gastropod is ever likely to win against a squid, at least underwater.
He also admits to having gained a grudging respect for slow-moving animals like slugs.
"They do not show much fast intelligence, but they still make plenty of decisions and show lots of interesting behavior."

8/16/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Doug,

"They do not show much fast intelligence, but they still make plenty of decisions and show lots of interesting behavior."


Sounds like my family of origin!


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Slug gets mugged by a snail. Cops ask what happened. Slug begins, "Well, officer, it all happened so fast...."

8/16/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Islamists compete to see God’s will carried out and so have a single unifying principle under which to act. Westerners have been mau-mauing one another to be culturally sensitive to others while pointing out that our own societal codes of morality are mere constructs of ancient religious leadership and control. We have lulled ourselves into moral ambiguity out of lethargy of principles and a disdain for confrontation, we are willing to fallback on our beliefs. We are open to competing interests and this is an attribute that our enemies will not suffer in themselves. We need to stop apologizing for being ourselves and reclaim the mantel of God’s glory, be it a religious one or a more existential and enlightened one. In a free market if ideas we must learn to promote those whom we share ideologies and be willing as consumers to punish those with whom we share no communal destiny.

Buy Danish ham. Don’t buy Mid Eastern oil. Buy Czechoslovakian beer. Don’t buy Chinese goods made from slave labor. Better yet, don’t buy body parts made from Chinese slaves.

8/16/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Buddy Decides High Tech Will Win the War

8/16/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

alexis,

I do not know if I should laugh or cry! ;)

Thank you for a truly remarkable essay! Rumination is now in progress.

8/16/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Sorry, I was referencing the 1978 date rather than "the late 80's" but my spellchcker must have decided otherwise.

8/16/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mouse,
Rush says we'd rather not think about being in a Religious War, but we are, like it or not.

8/16/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger ol perfessor said...

As one of three individuals that read the best seller in the early nineties; "The Fourth Turning", I assumed the seculum was to be satisfied with the return of the conservatives to power here in America and democracies acroos the globe. I fear that the return of the spirit involves the people whose cries are heard 5 times a day in the heaven we deny.

8/16/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Crusades, Inquisition, prohibition of literacy among the non-clergy, Gallileo, bah!

I don't know if the Christians killed more than the Muslims, or if the Jews are a bigger pain in the ass than the Hindu's, or if the Zoroastrians are the one true religion; I don't care.

The Poly-deist Mesopotamians seemed to have a very just, and workable society 6,000 years, ago. Written laws (that applied to everyone, including the King, property rights, and efficient agriculture were just some of the accomplishments of this non-monotheistic culture.

The strength of America seems to be that a lot of people go to Church, but don't take it too seriously. Indeed, of the church-goers, and non-churchgoers I know, it seems to me there's very little difference in their core values, or in how they act on them.

8/16/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH JIMMY CARTER "The US and Israel Stand Alone ...
Spiegel Online, Germany - Aug 15, 2006

8/16/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"As one of three individuals that read the best seller in the early nineties; The Fourth Turning..."

That'd make four of us, perfesser.

8/16/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Doug said:
Rush says we'd rather not think about being in a Religious War, but we are, like it or not.

If the Islamists think they're in a holy war, then it is a holy war. If we think that it is not a holy war, then it is a one-sided holy war but a holy war nonetheless.

8/16/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Good Guys versus the IslamoNazis.

8/16/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Carter, one of my least favorite human beings, a president at that, in Der Spiegel. Revolting. Carter makes Clinton look like a saint.

8/16/2006 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

doug,

Did you say religious war? That just cannot be. The administration told me so.

If we are alive after the first mushroom cloud, I will bet you there will be the biggest revival since Wesley's Great Awakening. It is amazing how the fear of oblivion generates out that old time religion.

8/16/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

"Ted Nugent, a heavy metal guitar legend and devoted (bow) hunter, was being interviewed by a French journalist. Eventually, the conversation turned to his love of outdoor pursuits. The journalist asked, "What do you think the last thought is in the head of a deer before you shoot it? Is it, "Are you my friend?" or maybe "Are you the one who killed my brother?"

Nugent replied, "They aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, What am I going to eat next? Who am I going to screw next? and, Can I run fast enough to get away? They are very much like the French in that way."

8/16/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Allen, I predict that the world will try to ban all religions.

8/16/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger R2K said...

That add right in the middle of my screen is REALLY ANNOYING!

8/16/2006 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

aristedes

I said earlier that if you read the Old Testament as literature, or as a sociological study if you would, it is the story of the passage of humanity from barbarism to civilization. The god figure did not inject the humans with instant morality. They learned it from the experience of interacting with each other, but only after they first learned how to interact with God. 5,000 years of history have produced no better model.

I don't know if that's really any different from the Harvard study you mentioned. Evolution and spirituality are not inconsistent.

8/16/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

whit,

With respect, religions are not murdered, they commit suicide.

The armies of Mohammed were grossly outnumbered when they swept into the Christian kingdoms of the ME, Turkey, and North Africa. Much as Mesoamerican tribes allied themselves to Cortez in the hope of wrecking vengeance on the hated, domineering Aztecs, so did Christian sectarians enthusiastically join the slaughter of their heretical brothers.

To be perfectly fair and balanced, the rabbis teach that one of the greatest sins of the Jews was the civil war that raged within the walls of Jerusalem as Titus besieged the city. Several hundred thousand Jews perished by hands and means unrelated to the Romans.

Despite the perversity of human nature, prophets refuse to despair. Instead, in every age they foolishly struggle to elevate the human soul.



rufus,

I do not know if you have ever seen a Torah scroll, but trust me, waiving one would be about as easy as waiving a calf with rigor mortis. Samson was probably the last Jew built to those specs.

8/16/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Now, for something really depressing, historian Arthur Herman on the Bush Munich...


Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Evolution and spirituality are not inconsistent."
---
Educated folks used to know this.

8/16/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

rufus

I never had a problem distinguishing spirituality from religion. Perhaps it's as simple as a belief in enduring principle. We hold these truths to be self evident...could as easily have been written by Spinoza.

Do you think there is a U.S. Marine gene that surely binds you somehow to Marines long dead and not yet living?

8/16/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

doug,

re: "Educated folks used to know this."

You mean like Einstein?

Or maybe this loser:

Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throught the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul. -- Carl Jung

8/16/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Peter, knowing our Founders penchant for plagiarism, Spinoza probably did say it.

I wonder if it was "self-evident" that a black man was 3/5 a white man? Or, that only white men who owned property should be allowed to vote? The propriety of Slavery in the Southern States was, also, obviously self-evident.

I think there's a "stupid" gene that kicks in when a man turns seventeen.

Seriously, there definitely is a gene that causes a man to sacrifice for his family, love his children, and seek the approbation of his peers. There's even a gene that makes him wonder; and, there lies the trouble. The next thing you know he's listening to a "preacher," and he's had his last happy day.

8/16/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

re: jamie irons and Arthur Herman

Boy, that was uplifting.

Think I'll just amble out to the hot tub with a large Margarita, a cigar, and a straight razor.

8/16/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

All man's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone - Pascal

8/16/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

rufus said... 8/16/2006 10:11:04 AM
“I've talked to a bunch of them. After a life under Communism, they can't adapt.”
Sorry, but I think you reached the wrong conclusion. I am one of those you could have talked to but I think you would have benefited more from listening rather than talking ;)

LTEC said...
“I find Solzhenitsyn's speech rambling and incoherent. “
Maybe you should reread the speech again and find that ha was correct in many respects although I do not think even he anticipated the fauxtos from Reuter & all.

8/16/2006 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I think you would have benefited more from listening rather than talking ;)"
---
And Trish thinks SHE'S Bad!

8/16/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Happy Shaving, Allen! :-)

8/16/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Suicide is Painless: lyrics to MASH theme, on the air for 80 years or so during the last century.

8/16/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Well, Luc, you've piqued my curiosity; tell me what you would have said.

I'll wait.

8/16/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Was it only 80 (?) years? Gads, it seemed so much longer.

8/16/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

annoymouse said:

If the Islamists think they're in a holy war, then it is a holy war. If we think that it is not a holy war, then it is a one-sided holy war but a holy war nonetheless.


A holy war by any other name would smell just as napalmy in the morning. As we speak they are trying to decide if Pluto is a planet or a not, half the Israelis think they won the border skirmish and half thinks they lost. Debka says Iran lost bigtime, and Arthur Herman thinks Bush just declared the war on terror over by making Israel accept a cease fire. This is that funny time between when history is actually made and when they decide what to write down.

8/16/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Jamie,

The article merely confirms what some here in the BC predicted. At this stage it is apparent that the only reason we persist in Iraq is because GWB, like LBJ, is too stubborn to admit he made a big mistake. Bush no longer has conviction about the war in Iraq and must know he has caused the enpowerment of the Shiites in Iraq and Iran. Hezbollah is setting up disaster relief in Lebanon faster than GWB did in New Orleans. Lebanon will end in civil war or under Hezbollah. Israel made things much worse and accelerated the process of undoing any political momentum GWB had in the process to sanction Iran.

It is obvious that democracy is not going to sweep throught the ME. The US is not going to put Iraq back together. The best it can do is stop Iranian and Shiite hegemony. Iraq must be partitioned, but the US cannot enforce that. It will have to let it happen. The real battle will shift to sunni versus shiite. Let them.

8/16/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

What if you gave a "Civil War," and nobody came? Guys, have you noticed that the Shi'as have been kind of quite the last week, or so (since we hit that kidnap squad?)

Our casualties are down some, and the Parliament is trying to sort itself out. The quedas are still car-bombing, but it seems to be down to 15 or 20, instead of 100, or more.

I don't think it's over, yet. Of course, some have said that I over-compensated for my lack of religiousity with an overabundance of "Blind Optimism."

8/16/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Ditch US in Terror War, say 80pc of Britons

By Toby Helm, Chief Political Correspondent and Philip Johnston

(Filed: 17/08/2006)

"A majority of British people wants the Government to adopt an even more "aggressive" foreign policy to combat international terrorism, according to an opinion poll conducted after the arrests of 24 terrorism suspects last week.

However - by a margin of more than five to one - the public wants Tony Blair to split from President George W Bush and either go it alone in the "war on terror", or work more closely with Europe.


Divided state: The public wants Tony Blair to split from Mr Bush
Only eight per cent of those questioned by YouGov said Mr Bush and Mr Blair were winning the battle against Muslim fundamentalism."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
main.jhtml;jsessionid=
OIYSQVGR3OAZFQFIQMG
SFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=
/news/2006/08/17/nterror17.xml

8/16/2006 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

LGF

Hitler, the Mufti of Jerusalem, and Islamic Fascism

http://littlegreenfootballs.
com/weblog/?entry=22137_
Hitler_the_
Mufti_of_Jerusalem_and_
Islamic_Fascism&only

Great 5:40 minute short film. It is in Germany with subtitles.

8/16/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

rufus said...
Well, Luc, you've piqued my curiosity; tell me what you would have said.

I'll wait.

8/16/2006 06:22:12 PM

Based on the latest news, I would have said I am very sad to see that the essence of his speech anticipates the outcome of the latest Lebanese war; I mean the UN resolution, including the latest declarations by Dr. Rice, and President Bush dropping the reference to Islamo-fascism today after apparently some complaints from KSA. I would also say that it breaks my heart and I wish Solzhenitsyn was wrong.

8/16/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

The biggest outcome of this war from Israel's side is the end of Kadima as a viable party and the end of Olmert's plan to surrender the West Bank and Jerusalem.

In the long run, a skirmish with Hezbollah will come and go,retreat from the West Bank and Jerusalem and the surrender of it to the Hamas would have been permanent.

In this regard, Nasrallah screwed his brothers in Gaza by jumping the gun. If only he had waited until after Israel left the West Bank and Gaza.

Now, Olmert will be gone and Israel will retain the West Banka nd Jerusalem, a FAR MORE important strategic victory than what strategic losses may have been suffered in the past month

8/16/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

2164th,

re: UK polls

Have you seen this at Drudge?

Bush is crap, says Prescott
Deputy PM criticises US handling of Middle East, condemning 'cowboy' President at private meeting

http://news.independent.co.
uk/uk/politics/article1219716.
ece

8/16/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

"Relations with the former colonial world now have turned into their opposite and the Western world often goes to extremes of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the total size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West, and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns will be sufficient for the West to foot the bill."

This question may get answered, in Europe anyway, in our lifetime.

8/16/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

sarahWeddington,

re: West Bank

Is it possible, do you think that the Muslims are not interested in Israel merely leaving? Possibly, the Islamists prefer to have Israel withdraw under pressure, as in Lebanon and Gaza - great publicity that.

8/16/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Luc, let me try, again;

You posted:

rufus said... 8/16/2006 10:11:04 AM
“I've talked to a bunch of them. After a life under Communism, they can't adapt.”
Sorry, but I think you reached the wrong conclusion. I am one of those you could have talked to but I think you would have benefited more from listening rather than talking ;)


Okay, talk.

8/16/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

Also, some statistics for those out there.

In the month of fighting the IAF flew 16000 sorties, 10000 of them combat related. They hit 7000 targets. They flew 3000 helicopter sorties.

Not one jet was brought down or even hit. All of 1 chopper was brought down by enemy action.

So much for Hezbollah's and by extension Iran's and Syria's vaunted air defenses.

The IAF went through them like butter and if the IAF can do it, just imagine the USAF over Iran. I don't think Ahmadinejad and Khameini want to after seeing how pathetic their air defenses were over Lebanon.

The Israeli Navy logged a combined 8000+ combat hours off the coast of Lebanon.

The Hanit sustained that one hit but it has been repaired and was back in the fight by the end of the conflict.

Again, so much for Iran's and Syria's vaunted naval defenses. If 1 lucky hit on an Israeli ship that got cocky and didn't even have its defenses on is the best they can do, the US Navy will utterly destroy them. The Israeli Navy isn't even in the top tier of world navies, not even the top ten I'd say and it's really a neglected force for them. The US Navy is far and away the best in the world andbased on the pathetic display of their naval defenses, it will annihilate the Iranian and Syrian navies with no real significant reistance offered.

Finally, the Hezbollah's vaunted rockets. They fired 4000 off in a month or so. Of those 4000, 900(or just over 20%)actually hit populated or developed areas. 80% landed in fields or empty areas.

A total of 42 civilians were killed, 18 of them Arab citizens. Now given that Nasrallah's raison d etre is to kill jews, getting 24 for 4000 rockets and killing the same number of Arabs was not what he had in mind. There were 33 serious injuries, 68 medium injuries, 1500 light injuries, and 3000 "shock" injuries. Again, Hezbollah's rocket offensive was largely ineffective and inefficient.

Heznollah's utility to Iran and Syria as a dterrent has been exposed. No one will be afraid of them any more and they've done their worst and it really wasn't that bad.

HB suffered 600+ dead and 600+ wounded, including a number of senior personnel. Large amounts of HB weaponry were captured and will be studied. Israel now knows what they have and will be prepared next time. In any event, oncet he ground offensive started in earnest, the IDF made rapid and decisive advances and it's pretty clear that if a serious groun op had been launched from go, the damage to HB woulld have been much more severe.

The IDF suffered 114 dead, or around 3.5 a day. Compared to the 180 dead a day in 73 and the 130 dead a day in 67, and even the close to 100 dead a day in the initial push in 82, the IDF casualties wer extremely low. If the best HB can do is what we've seen, it's not much.

The big picture here is that Iran has taken a blow as their chief deterrent force jumped the gun and showed that they really aren't much of a detrrernt at all. They exposed the weaknesses in Iranian air and naval defenses and tactics. If the US feared a HB response to an Iranian op, they don't anymore.

Iran and Syria were exposed in front of the world as backers of HB when HB had been very much under the radar since 9/11.

If these armchair generals who think a few guys with kornets and saggers can hlow down and advanced ground offensive by the IDF or by the US Army or Marines they will find to their deaths that they can't.

I could go on, but the picture is much brighter for Israel than it has been made out to be. And the benefit of Nasrallah doing something even the Israelis themselves couldn't do and exposing Olmert and Peretz and toppling them will end up being a huge Israeli victory in the end. Thanks Sayid Nasrallah, you just saved the West Bank and Jerusalem. Shukran.

8/16/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I guess after all the BS Mahmoud saw that we would swallow, he decided to up the ante to the levels he attained in the Mike Wallace interview.
Lest anyone forget, he was a little more "straightforward" a while back in his interview in Der Spiegel.
---
The Real Mahmoud: Der Spiegel Interview

8/16/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

I read it Allen. Sadly, US diplomacy, stature and influence is lower than at any time in my memory. Any historians who can recall a period where it was lower, please tell when.

There is a relationship between diplomatic power, military power and economic power. It would be interesting to see one of Wretchards charts that show the relationship. No one should take smug satisfaction or let their hate for Bush cloud the implications to the market meltdown in US prestige. It is dangerous and the result of actions by this incompetent administration. In the darkest days of the Viet Nam period, US prestige was never close to being as low as it is today.

8/16/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

Rufus:
Probably I misunderstood your comment:

“I've talked to a bunch of them. After a life under Communism, they can't adapt. Their expectations are always way too lofty for reality to provide.
Babbline, Prescient babbling, sometimee,
But babbline just the same.”

as I took your comment to mean that Solzhenitsyn was wrong and babbling. If I misunderstood I apologize, if not my 8/16/2006 06:54:48 PM post answers your question

8/16/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

I read it Allen. Sadly, US diplomacy, stature and influence is lower than at any time in my memory. Any historians who can recall a period where it was lower, please tell when.

There is a relationship between diplomatic power, military power and economic power. It would be interesting to see one of Wretchards charts that show the relationship. No one should take smug satisfaction or let their hate for Bush cloud the implications to the market meltdown in US prestige. It is dangerous and the result of actions by this incompetent administration. In the darkest days of the Viet Nam period, US prestige was never close to being as low as it is today.

8/16/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

2164, lower than 79'? C'mon.

8/16/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

I have studied political science,religion ,and philosophy my entire life.

Trish made the point that what Solzhenitsyn said has been on the pages of conservative publications for decades.
In the 1960's it was Wm. F. Buckley fighting practically alone. Those who have become "aware" of the decline of the West in the last two decades are fortuneate to have the resources we have today.
I would also say that David Starling Hunter's bio lists his favorite book as F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Surfdom". It has been in print for decades and is THE must read on our retrograde path.
We aren't at the end but we are in very short supply of moral,ethical, and physical backbone.
I, of course must conclude by trumpeting my favorite tune. Let's kill those who proclaim they are going to kill us.
And finally "Taps" for my mother, who died 8/14/2006. She was a remarkable woman.

8/16/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Friedrich A. (Hangin Ten) Hayek,

"Surfer Dude"

Lookin for "Surfdom."

YEEHHAAHHH

8/16/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Habu, my condolences regarding your mother.

8/16/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Habu,
I join Rufus in offering my condolences for your loss.
Two exceptional people in less than 6 months.

8/16/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

How could Solzhenitsyn understand America?...particularly in 1978? As noted by others, when he delivered that speech it was a lifeline of sorts in a very dark time; we were lost in Jimmy Carter's fog of malaise while he and his administration nearly wrecked the largest economy in the World.

There are many good points in there. I am grateful, Wretchard, for your calling it back up. The Willpower section gets it.

8/16/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Rufus, yes, US prestige is worse now than in 1979.
I copy a timeline for the US. I cannot find a time after the forming of the US where the prestige and good name of the US was lower than it is under this administration.


Timeline: United States of America

1565 - First permanent European settlement in North America - St Augustine, present-day Florida - founded by the Spanish.


Revolution: The Continental Army fought against British rule

1607 - Jamestown, Virginia, founded by English settlers, who begin growing tobacco.

1620 - Plymouth Colony, near Cape Cod, is founded by the Pilgrim Fathers, whose example is followed by other English Puritans in New England.

17th-18th centuries - Hundreds of thousands of Africans brought over and sold into slavery to work on cotton and tobacco plantations.

1763 - Britain gains control of territory up to the Mississippi river following victory over France in Seven Years' War.

War of Independence

1774 - Colonists form First Continental Congress as Britain closes down Boston harbour and deploys troops in Massachusetts.

1775 - American Revolution: George Washington leads colonist Continental Army to fight against British rule.

1776 4 July - Thomas Jefferson's American Declaration of Independence endorsed by Congress; colonies declare independence.

1781 - Rebel states form loose confederation, codified in Articles of Confederation, after defeating the British at the Battle of Yorktown.

1783 - Britain accepts loss of colonies by virtue of Treaty of Paris.

1787 - Founding Fathers draw up new constitution for United States of America. Constitution comes into effect in 1788.

1789 - George Washington elected first president of USA.

1791 - Bill of Rights guarantees individual freedom.

1803 - France sells Louisiana territories to USA.

1808 - Atlantic slave trade abolished.

1812-14 - Dispute over blockade rights during Napoleonic Wars leads to war with Britain.


1846-48 - US acquires vast tracts of Mexican territory in wake of Mexican War including California and New Mexico.

Civil War

1854 - Opponents of slavery, or abolitionists, set up Republican Party.

1860 - Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln elected president.

1860-61 - Eleven pro-slavery southern states secede from Union and form Confederate States of America under leadership of Jefferson Davis, triggering civil war with abolitionist northern states.

1863 - Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slaves in Confederate states to be free.

1865 - Confederates defeated; slavery abolished under Thirteenth Amendment. Lincoln is assassinated.

1876 - Sioux Indians defeat US troops at Little Big Horn.

1890 - US troops defeat Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee.

1898 - US gains Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Cuba following the Spanish-American war. US annexes Hawaii.

World War I and the Great Depression

1917-18 - US intervenes in World War I, rejects membership of League of Nations.

1920 - Women given the right to vote under the Nineteenth Amendment.

1920 - Sale and manufacture of alcoholic liquors outlawed. The Prohibition era sees a mushrooming of illegal drinking joints, home-produced alcohol and gangsterism.

1924 - Congress gives indigenous people right to citizenship.

1929-33 - 13 million people become unemployed after the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 triggers what becomes known as the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover rejects direct federal relief.

1933 - President Franklin D Roosevelt launches "New Deal" recovery programme which includes major public works. Sale of alcohol resumes.

World War II and the Cold War

1941 - Japanese warplanes attack US fleet at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii; US declares war on Japan; Germany declares war on US, which thereafter intervenes on a massive scale in World War II, eventually helping to defeat Germany.

1945 - US drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrenders.

1947 - US enunciates policy of aid for nations it deems threatened by communism in what became known as the Truman Doctrine. Cold War with Soviet Union begins.

1948 - America's programme to revive ailing post-war European economies - the Marshall Plan - comes into force. Some $13bn is disbursed over four years and the plan is regarded as a success.

1950-54 - Senator Joseph McCarthy carries out a crusade against alleged communists in government and public life; the campaign and its methods become known as McCarthyism. In 1954 McCarthy is formally censured by the Senate.

1950-53 - US forces play leading role against North Korean and Chinese troops in Korean War.

Desegregation and the Vietnam war

1954 - Racial segregation in schools becomes unconstitutional; start of campaign of civil disobedience to secure civil rights for Americans of African descent.

1960 - Democratic Party candidate John F Kennedy elected president, narrowly defeating his rival Richard Nixon.

1961 - Bay of Pigs invasion: an unsuccessful attempt to invade Cuba by Cuban exiles, organised and financed by Washington.

1962 - US compels Soviet Union to withdraw nuclear weapons from Cuba in what has become known as the Cuban missile crisis.

1963 - President John F Kennedy assassinated; Lyndon Johnson becomes president.

1964 - US steps up its military intervention in Vietnam. Civil Rights Act signed into law; it aims to halt discrimination on grounds of race, colour, religion, nationality.

1968 - Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King assassinated.

1969 - Republican Party candidate Richard Nixon elected president amid growing public opposition to Vietnam war. US military presence in Vietnam exceeds 500,000 personnel. US astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon.

1972 - Nixon re-elected and makes historic visit to China.

1973 - Vietnam ceasefire agreement signed. The campaign had claimed some 58,000 American lives.

1974 - In a TV address, Nixon announces his resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal, over a 1972 break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters. Gerald Ford is sworn-in as his successor.

1976 - Democratic Party candidate Jimmy Carter elected president.

1979 - US embassy in Tehran, Iran, seized by radical students. The 444-day hostage crisis - including a failed rescue attempt in 1980 - impacts on Carter's popularity and dominates the 1980 presidential election campaign.


1980 November - Republican Party's Ronald Reagan elected president. Reagan goes on to adopt a tough anti-communist foreign policy and tax-cutting policies which lead to a large federal budget deficit.

1981 January - Iran frees the 52 US embassy hostages, on the same day as President Reagan's inauguration.


1983 - US invades Caribbean nation of Grenada, partly prompted by its concerns over the island's ties with Cuba.

1984 - Ronald Reagan re-elected president, beating Democratic Party candidate Walter Mondale.

1986 January - Space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after take off from Cape Canaveral. All seven crew members are killed. Manned space flights are suspended until September 1988.

1986 - US warplanes bomb Libyan cities. "Irangate" scandal uncovered, revealing that proceeds from secret US arms sales to Iran were used illegally to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

1988 - Reagan's vice-president, George Bush, elected president.

1989 - US troops invade Panama, oust its government and arrest its leader, one-time Central Intelligence Agency informant General Manuel Noriega, on drug-trafficking charges.

1991 - US forces play dominant role in war against Iraq, which was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and ended with the expulsion of Iraqi troops from that country.


1992 - Democratic Party candidate Bill Clinton elected president.

1992 - Congress passes North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, intended to create free-trade bloc among US, Canada and Mexico.

1994 - Congress defeats Clinton's flagship legislation intended to reform health care system.


1994 - Investigations into Whitewater scandal, over the Clintons' financial dealings in Arkansas, where he had been governor before becoming president. Sexual harassment charges are filed against Clinton by a former Arkansas employee. Mid-term elections result in Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.

1995 - Oklahoma bomb kills more than 160 people in worst ever incident of its kind in US.

1996 - Clinton re-elected, beating Republican rival Bob Dole.

1998 - Scandal over Clinton's purported sexual impropriety with White House worker Monica Lewinsky dominates domestic political agenda and leads to impeachment proceedings in Congress.

1999 February - Clinton acquitted in Senate impeachment trial.

1999 March-June - US plays leading role in Nato bombardment of Yugoslavia in response to Serb violence against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo.


2000 November - Vice-president and Democrat candidate Al Gore and the Republican Party's George W Bush contest one of the closest presidential election races ever. Bush is initially declared the winner in the crucial state of Florida, but the margin is so small that there is an automatic recount. The Democrats mount a series of legal challenges which eventually involve the Supreme Court. Bush is finally declared the winner in Florida, which enables him to take the presidency, albeit with a smaller share of the national vote than Gore.

2001 January - George W Bush sworn in as 43rd president of the US.

2001 April - US reconnaisance plane forced to land in China after mid-air collision with Chinese fighter jet; crew held by Chinese authorities for 11 days. Angry diplomatic exchanges take place between Washington and Beijing.

2001 July - US tests its controversial missile defence shield, or "Son of Star Wars".

2001 11 September - Four passenger aircraft are hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the US Defence Department - the Pentagon - in Washington DC and into a field in Pennsylvania; 3,025 people are killed in the attacks.

2001 8 October - US leads massive campaign of air strikes against Afghanistan and later sends in special forces to help opposition forces defeat the Taleban regime and find Saudi-born dissident Osama Bin Laden, who is suspected of masterminding the 11 September attacks.

2001 October - USA Patriot Act approved by the Senate, giving the government greater powers to detain suspected terrorists, eavesdrop on communications and counter money-laundering. In November, President Bush signs a directive to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals rather than the courts.

2001 December - Energy giant Enron declared bankrupt after massive false-accounting comes to light.

2002 January - State of the Union address: President George W Bush includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea in what he describes as an "axis of evil".

2002 State of the Union address: "Axis of evil"

2002 June/July - Telecoms giant WorldCom's multi-billion dollar accounting fraud is revealed, eclipsing the Enron scandal to become the biggest business failure in US history.

2002 November - President Bush signs into law a bill creating a Department of Homeland Security, the biggest reorganisation of federal government in more than 50 years. The large and powerful department is tasked with protecting the US against terrorist attacks.

2003 February - Space shuttle Columbia's 28th mission ends in tragedy when the craft breaks-up while re-entering the atmosphere. The seven astronauts on board are killed.


2003 20 March - Missile attacks on targets in Baghdad mark the start of a US-led campaign to topple the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. US forces advance into central Baghdad in early April.



2003: President George W Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln

2003 1 May - Speaking on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, President Bush declares that the main part of the war in Iraq is over.

2003 14 August - Biggest power blackout in North American history hits cities in the north and east, including New York, as well as Canadian cities.

2004 May - Furore over pictures showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody. President Bush and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld - who is questioned by Congress about the scandal - apologise for the mistreatment.

2004 June - Former President Ronald Reagan dies, aged 93. He is accorded a state funeral.

2004 July - Senate report says US and allies went to war in Iraq on "flawed" information. Independent report into 11 September 2001 attacks highlights deep institutional failings in intelligence services and government.

2004 2 November - Presidential elections: George W Bush wins a second term. He is inaugurated on 20 January 2005.

2005 July - Space shuttle Discovery completes the first manned Nasa space mission since the Columbia accident in February 2003.

2005 August - Hundreds of people are killed when Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive storm to hit the US in decades, sweeps through gulf coast states. Much of the city of New Orleans is submerged by flood waters.

2006 March - Congress renews the USA Patriot Act, a centrepiece of the government's fight against terrorism, after months of debate about its impact on civil liberties. The government agrees to some curbs on information gathering.

2006 April-May - Millions of immigrants and their supporters take to the streets to protest against plans to criminalise illegal immigrants.

2006 May - The only man to be charged over the September 11 attacks, self-confessed al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, is sentenced to life in jail.

8/16/2006 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

You are a good man Habu, no doubt from good stock, I am sure your mother was very proud of you and her memory will live in you. All the best.

8/16/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I don't think USA prestige is all that low. I think "low US prestige" is a propaganda line used by everyone from the admin's domestic oppo to liberals in general the world over, and of course the jihadi enemy. The center right and conservatives in general seem to like the USA just fine. Most of the last few year's worth of national elections have been won by USA backers--Australia, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, Mexico, India, most of Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe. In fact, 2164, you are ever so slightly talking thru your hat, my friend.
:)

Sarah, I loved your post. I think you are right. I think Israel and the west won pretty big, and that the Jihadi theater is just sweeping a lot of people momentarily off their feet.

The "IDF shoulda just stomped 'em" line has a point, but the Israelis are gaining an audience with a different analysis--including that of how careful they were to try to avoid civvie casualties, and that if Lebanon doesn't fix things, the next time won't be so easy on them (almost a quote from Dan Gillerman).

8/16/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Historian Arthur Herman, whose books on Joe McCarthy and the Scotish Enlightenment I greatly admire, has written a harsh but probably fair condemnation of the cease-fire agreement in Lebanon.

SCOTT adds: See also Steve Schippert's "Southern Lebanon: Coalition of the unwilling."
(USMC-Ret BC Vet)
If Iran and Hizballah wait long enough, they will have forced Israel not only to engage them among civilians once more, but also through and among the Lebanese army and international forces from around the globe.

As Hizballah swarms to eagerly fill the beckoning void, left in the wake of the rapid IDF withdrawal and ahead of the arrival of any reluctant Lebanese force or as-yet-non-existent international force, Israelis in Haifa and the rest of northern Israel will venture out with an alert eye to the sky.

Already in deep political trouble, the moment a Hizballah rocket revisits the northern Israeli civilian population, the life expectancy of the Olmert government will be effectively measured in hours.
If it survives that long.

8/16/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Jimmy Carter, and others, might have been lost in a fog of "Malaise" in 78', but I sure as hell wasn't; and, I didn't need some deranged, jingoistic Russian telling me how "Superior" the Russian people were.

I didn't need this lunatic telling me that I was "weak" in spirit, and that I was lucky the noble Russians were enslaved by Communism or they would be wiping the planet with my sorry ass.

I suspected then, as I suspect now, that people pretty much get the Government they "Deserve," and the Russians had Communism. Meanwhile people were risking their lives, just like they always have to get to the United States of America.

We were busy, even with Carter, building the Greatest economy, the Most Free, and the Greatest Military the world had ever known. If any Americans needed a shot in the arm, they got it when the Gipper took the Oath of Office, not when some quirky Russian Author gave a speech at some leftist, elite university.

8/16/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Hayek's essay "Why I Am Not A Conservative," last chapter his The Constitution of Liberty, is most insightful.

Among US conservatism's defects, Hayek remarked, is the complete absence of a guiding political philospohy, of any governing principles.

In their liveliest discussions and debates, the entire staff of National Review both demonstrates and recognizes this absence, too.

8/16/2006 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger onesimus said...

Let me see if I have this straight?

Since 1978 our culture has swirled over the gas trap and into the sewer and yet Solzhenitsyn's doesn't understand America? He may not understand America but he does understand man.

"Its the Economy stupid."

Our judiciary has broken loose from all moral moorings except cultural relativism.

Our Entertainment elite will do anything for a buck...

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25

8/16/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

2164..thank you for your kind comments on my mother's recent passing.

You also made an excellant point in your post.

I would say that aside from those who sacrificed to estatblish this country was the amazing fact that we held an Presidential election in the midlle of a Civil War of horrendous dimensions.
Abe Lincoln and George Wasington.
To imagine their equals today is fantasy.

8/16/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Buddy,

Maybe I need a new hat. Maybe not.

http://pewglobal.org/reports/
display.php?PageID=801

8/16/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Rufus---3:01--Amen brother. Everythid divine has a demonic parody, and them thumpers of all persausions is it. They may succeed in blowing up the world yet.

8/16/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Habu, I lost my mom about three years ago. Never quits hurting, to lose that one person whom you could light up just by being around.

8/16/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Everything divine has a demonic parody...

8/16/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Sarah said:

Now, Olmert will be gone and Israel will retain the West Banka and Jerusalem, a FAR MORE important strategic victory than what strategic losses may have been suffered in the past month

I know what you meant to say, Sarah, but I find it odd that you characterize a future decision not to withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank and Jerusalem, to be taken (or not) by the PM who replaces Olmert (presumably Bibi) to be a "strategic victory" in the same sense that the border skirmish was a strategic loss. You make it sound as if Israel is at war with itself.

8/16/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

2164, the polls that count are the ones taken by ballot on election day. All those parties that won in that list on nations in my post above, were running as pro-USA, and to some extent pro-GWB, candidates.

On-the-fly opinion polls will always reflect people's moods, which this type of ennervating war is particularly hard on.

Other wars had maps, with front line lines, which offered a calculus as to when they would end. This one is different, and polls show it.

I'm not just trying to top you in a thread argument, I really think you're expecting too much. Happy happy ain't gonna be around for awhile yet.

8/16/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

rufus said... 8/16/2006 07:58:51 PM
………………
“I suspected then, as I suspect now, that people pretty much get the Government they "Deserve," and the Russians had Communism.”
…………..
According to this logic Cambodia and South Vietnam got the Government they "Deserve," but really the government they had in the 70s was a present from the USA. Are you saying that that is what you deserve when you trust the US?

8/16/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

If she was a match for your father, habu, she was some woman indeed.

8/16/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Hayek was the only Austrian economist around to throw the B.S. Flag on Keynes and his Socialist economic theories. Later in life he turned to philosophy. It would serve one well to remember that the conservatism of a Goldwater was nothing like the "conservatism" of a George W. Bush.

Actually, George Bush's economic theories are pure "Austrian." I'm sure he would be very "pleasantly surprised" by Dubya's tax, regulation, and trade policies.

Keep something else in mind: Friedrich Hayek was very much anti-socialism. He said, that it will eventually lead to totalitarianism, and that no one group can manage a large and complex economy. His contention was that only a free market can "allocate" resources in an efficient manner.

When he got older, and some would say "soft-headed," he decided that although the chaos of the free market is to be desired in economics, it's somehow not so good in social interactions. It's really quite an impossible position, but everyone forgives him because of his excellent economic theory.

I'm among them.

8/16/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Luc, I don't know if you've noticed but the Vietnamese, and the Cambodians are doing a lot better now. The Russians still have Putin.

But, yes, the Communists and the American Left did get together, once upon a time, and kill millions of them.

8/16/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

rufus, this might interest you.

8/16/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

In the year 2006, America had no "King." She liberated 50,000,000 from despotism, and her citizens, on their own, and apart from their government, donated $35 Billion Dollars to people in foreign lands.

She sent massive amounts of Aid, and Troops to help people devastated by a Tsunami, and did the same for the earth-quake victims in another.

We don't want no King, thank you.

8/16/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Hayek's mentor, kinda

Buddy, the Austrians figured the whole thing out a long time, ago. Keynes was a "rationer" during the war.

How in the hell did anyone ever listen to Keynes?

8/16/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger greer rants said...

Robert Godwin of OneCosmos posts in his unique style,
the same message as Solzhenitsyn. It is the theme that runs thru all of Godwin's posts.
The Devil's Decalogue: Shackle Number Two

The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below.” So says the Katha Upanishad. We know that tree, for it is the same tree that appears in Genesis. It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf. For the grazing herdhearted woodenheads who wouldn't, they are the sap

Lots of the sap graduate from and teach at Harvard.

8/16/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

The only Austrian?

Ludwig von Mises.

Far more consistent thinker to boot.

George Bush, as Jonah Goldberg once remarked, is a [small government, free trade] conservative primarily in the sense that he refers to himself as one.

8/16/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

But I see Buddy got that already.

8/16/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Solzhenitsyn's greatest contribution to our current troubles is the "Gulag Archipelago"It's not a theological treatise or philosophical enquiry,but a stonecold glimpse into human evil.He painstakenly enscribed it on scraps of paper so the record could be recorded for posterity.
Now we see evil rear itself again and so many even here don't have the clarity to call it what it is.
Rufus,you were at Khe Sanh,right?Some people look in the abyss and run back to God's arms for protection.That's what I did.That's what Solzhenitsyn did.Before the Gulag he was a Red Army artillery officer.He found God in a Siberian hell like many others that cold analytical secular saviors build.
I know you've found 1000's of worldly men who've contributed far more than preachers have.You can have Donald Trump.I'll take Mother Teresa.You can have Joseph Mengele.Give me Albert Sweitzer.

8/16/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Trish, you're right.

Hayek was younger, and a more prolific writer. My feeling was that Hayek was more active in the 50's and 60's when Keynes was becoming/had become pre-eminent.

But, you are right. I think Von Mises was still doing some lecturing, and was making his living as a "Consultant."

8/16/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Hey, Wait! Trangbang. I Don't Want Donald Trump, or the Nazi either.

But, I will take Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, or a whole slew of others.

And, TrangBang, you're right. There really are no "Atheists" in the foxhole when the 105's start raining down.

But, I still don't like Preachers.

8/16/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

trish said:

George Bush, as Jonah Goldberg once remarked, is a [small government, free trade] conservative primarily in the sense that he refers to himself as one.


In "Conservatives Betrayed," Richard Viguerie compares spending by the federal government, adjusted for inflation, during the Clinton years vs. the Bush years. In Clinton's first term, federal expenditures rose 4.7 percent. In his second term, they rose 3.7 percent. In the first term of the Bush administration, however, spending rose 19.2 percent.

8/16/2006 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Trish,

I think a Republican can go the "medium-sized" government route, and get elected, or he can go the "small"government route and get the "Big" Government Democrat elected. Dubya's a politician.

But, you Can't Fault him on Free Trade. He's worked his ass off, there.

8/16/2006 09:13:00 PM  

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