Friday, September 22, 2006

Prince Prospero's Castle 2

Readers who liked Prince Prospero's Castle should listen to the podcast at Pajamas Media featuring Mark Steyn, Glenn Reynolds and Austin Bay which covers much of the same ground. The podcast starts with an examination of what Pope Benedict's talking points really were, and how he so to speak, has put a key issue of the age where we can't ignore it. From there the discussion moves on to Mark Steyn's book America Alone which enlarges on his familiar themes but in ways that dramatically underscore the demographic and psychological weaknesses of the West. If ever you were confident that the current world crisis was "no big deal", this discussion may change your mind.

Of course, the curious thing was why Steyn, Reynolds and Bay should be talking about a subject quite similar to my post of yesterday's. And the answer I like to think is more than coincidence. The German philosophers noticed that every generation comes to a tacit consensus about the main challenges of their times. They used the term zeitgeist, which "refers to the ethos of a cohort of people, that spans one or more subsequent generations, who despite their diverse age and socio-economic background experience a certain worldview". And the reason why news stories, commentary and even Papal lectures seem to be led again and again onto similar ground is simply that: zeitgeist. One of the reasons I think the Left is doing a disservice to the West and even to itself has been its adamant denial that there is anything new we need to take cognizance of. This is expressed in the vague notion that we had already attained an "End of History" by the late 1990s from which we have perversely strayed. And the principal objective of "progressive" politics is to end our sojourn in the wilderness -- a wilderness into which we have been fecklessly led by an illiterate President -- to return to the stable, multicultural palace of the late Clinton years. In this view, there is no new spirit of the age, at least one which is not the product of a vast, right wing conspiracy. Mark Steyn observed in the podcast that the main danger the West faced was to "think of the present as a kind of a permanent state", and hastens to remind us that yes, there is a future. And a dark one unless we can nerve ourselves to look upon it.

18 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

" This is expressed in the vague notion that we had already attained an "End of History" by the late 1990s from which we have perversely strayed. And the principle objective of "progressive" politics is to end our sojourn in the wilderness -- a wilderness into which we have been fecklessly led by an illiterate President -- to return to the stable, multicultural palace of the late Clinton years."
---
---
Savage was talking to Col Patterson about the Children's Swingset Bin Laden Opportunity:
Savage says:

"They didn't seem too worried about Collateral Damage in Belgrade."
---
Good Point.
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Didn't worry much about UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTIONS either.

9/22/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Wretchard terrific post. I don't believe this war is actually considered a war by most people. Instead it is perceived as more of an intellectual exercise. Perhaps it is the confusing of our philsophical battle with military battles. Till then we face

Cricket, War and Rules because you know we might become like them!

9/22/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

German philosophers noticed that every generation comes to a tacit consensus about the main challenges of their times –Wretchard.

I think we have come to the realization that our enemies (and some of our enemies who we assumed were "friends") deal in a type of warfare that involves fanatical proxy warriors, brute terrorism, and taqiyya to achieve victory. Hence, the West is somewhat unprepared because it has not dealt with such an enemy in modern times.

Now we have to face facts and make an unpleasant adjustment to our fighting tactics.

Let’s back-up a little and give some context to 'Prince Prospero's Castle 1'

Sure rioting is bad.

But, If the men were scapegoats for some hidden reason then I could understand the civil unrest from Christians.

And, I don’t know if I would call it a true "riot" seeing how “Friday's sectarian violence, which left at least five people injured.”

[And there is speculation of an unfair trial]

...analysts said the government would be unwilling to spark public anger by executing the Muslims first [Muslims were apparently involved in the initial riot along with Christians]... the government insists Tibo and his associates were given a fair trial... legal experts and human rights workers note that Indonesia's judiciary is corrupt... Crowds of Muslim hard-liners gathered at the court during the hearings, they noted, likely intimidating judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses.

"The men's lawyers received death threats, including a bomb planted at one lawyer's house, and demonstrators armed with stones outside the courthouse demanded that the three be sentenced to death," said Isabelle Cartron
...
See: Chron.com for story of Christian men executed

Now we have Ahmadinejad making what is essentially a treat to the UN and the West while whipping up support for his hardline Muslim government in a classic taqiyya laced speech.

I will note that many people have seen through Ahmadinejad’s speech and decoded its message.

[Power Line]

...Reader Michael Stalker provides a gloss that seems reasonable to me and that should at least prod further reflection:

[Michael Stalker]

"In reviewing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s UN speech, it occurred to me that his true message could be divined by substituting the code words he used with their true meanings. For instance, references to wisdom, justice, ethics, spirituality, compassion, etc. are code words for Islam.

“If [strike: wisdom, ethics and justice] Islam prevail[s], then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away, and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from [strike: injustice] infidels and from the powerful not being contented with their own rights striving to devour the rights of others. People across the globe embrace [strike; justice] Islam and are willing to sacrifice for its sake. Would it not be easier for global powers to ensure their longevity and win hearts and minds through the championing of real promotion of [strike: justice, compassion and peace] Islam, than through continuing the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the threat of their use?”

***

“We can adopt firm and logical decisions, thereby improving the prospects of a better life for current and future generations. Together, we can eradicate the roots of bitter maladies and afflictions and instead, through the promotion of [strike: universal and lasting values such as ethics, spirituality and justice] Islam, allow our nations to taste the sweetness of a better future. [Strike: Peoples driven by their divine nature] Muslims intrinsically seek good, virtue, perfection and beauty. Relying on our [strike: peoples] Muslims, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection. Whether we like it or not, [strike: justice, peace and virtue] Islam will sooner or later prevail in the world with the will of the Almighty God. It is imperative, and also desirable, that we, too, contribute to the promotion of [strike: justice and virtue] Islam.”

See: Decoding of Speech

This brings us full circle to the theme that we are now just recognizing the enemy through the mist.

Bush, and to some degree the Pope, see the enemy as Radical Islam. This could be quite a formidable enemy.

This is an enemy that would use sheer terror, brain washing, proxy warriors, taqiyya and the A-bomb to achieve victory. That is what's so disturbing.

I believe Bush is using the correct tactic. This is the age-old tactic of divide on conquer. Yet, the enemy seems equally adept at consolidating its forces around a unique religion (with an end game of establishing a global empire).

The stakes are very high. This is causing many people to feel the effects of zeitgeist.

What is justice? It's certianly not Islam.

9/22/2006 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

In the podcast, both Glenn Reynolds and Mark Steyn make the point that the Pope was not making some kind of coded, anti-Islamic message, but stating the proper terms for the dialogue, emphasizing that we cannot deal on the basis of intimidation. Glenn shrewedly understood that the Pope had to speak for two different internal Catholic communities: one living in the post-modern West and the other in a vibrant, growing and politically incorrect Third World. A Third World in which there were real and powerful anti-Muslim currents. (See previous discussion about militias)

One thing neither Mark nor Glenn thought to mention was that the Catholic Church's institutional memory of dealing with Islam, as inscribed in the Vatican's archives, will contain not only theological but also political elements because the Church was a state for many centuries, much of that spent dealing with Islam.

The Church understands better than anyone that identities and identity building are the key elements in any ideological or religious interaction. Simply by raising the issue of Jihad Benedict ensured that radical Islam would by its predictable overreaction construct a counter-identity and automatically manufacture an opposite point of view. Every placard calling for the burning of churches, every blood curdling threat, every bombastic statement is just so much more energy that goes into creating a counter-position. Benedict knows that. People talk about how Osama Bin Laden duped GWB into radicalizing Islam. Benedict showed how easy it was to pay them back in their own coin. Leave them to rant long enough, especially in the Third World and they will create their own nemesis. Guaranteed.

And if you think about it, that's nothing more than the militia phenomenon as applied to ideas. Every aggressive campaign to dominate the world creates the seeds of its own opposition. The liberals constantly invoke it against America, but little imagined that it would also apply to the Jihad. At some point, or so I hope, the cooler headed Muslims will understand that a militant campaign to convert the world to Islam by force will raise up tides so powerful that it might smash Islam itself. Therefore, as Pope Benedict suggests, would it not be better to respect each other and talk things out? In the Church statecraft is not wholly a lost art. That the wages of sin are death is not only a manner of speech.

Nothing could further the cause of peace and dialogue between religions more than the certain knowledge that a recourse to the sword will only lead to catastrophe. This knowledge makes reason very appealing. Nothing could further the likelihood of catastrophe more than the feckless apologetics of the politically correct West which rewards agression with ever greater quantities of abjection and abasement, which disempowers Islamic moderates and empowers its illiterate thuggery (and that means you Osama). That's not the path to dialogue. That's the path to disaster.

9/23/2006 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger redaktør said...

Wretchard,

These impassioned analyses of the Left are all fine and good, but they are somewhat pointless. What these analyses really amount to is shadow boxing with oneself. Better to ignore and deny the Left their self-importance, outflank their obstructionism, and move to decapitate the Jihadi enemy.

9/23/2006 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

You're on to something here, W. Perhaps the word is proving mightier than the sword. I never thought I'd thank Il Papa, but there you go. And you are The Word, par excellence.

A few points:

One of the reasons I think the Left is doing a disservice to the West and even to itself has been its adamant denial that there is anything new we need to take cognizance of.

Everything the Left has tried in the last century has been a disaster for humanity. Of course it is in denial - A life's belief for nothing; like Eleanor Rigby - cried for no one, a love that should have lasted years. To have lived for less than nothing, the Left's curse.

Every placard calling for the burning of churches, every blood curdling threat, every bombastic statement is just so much more energy that goes into creating a counter-position. Benedict knows that.

Even more, he knows that timid Mary from Ballydehob in deepest Ireland will adopt the counter position.

People talk about how Osama Bin Laden duped GWB into radicalizing Islam. Benedict showed how easy it was to pay them back in their own coin. Leave them to rant long enough, especially in the Third World and they will create their own nemesis. Guaranteed.
...

At some point, or so I hope, the cooler headed Muslims will understand that a militant campaign to convert the world to Islam by force will raise up tides so powerful that it might smash Islam itself.

There are precious few cooler headed Muslims where rational thought is concerned.

Yes, Osama Bin Laden has destroyed Islam. Why, because he has focused the rationality of the West on the religion. Now, we all know what an evil it is, what an villian Mo was, taqiyya just rolls off the tongue (see ledger) and has entered the language.

Now, many of us know more of the vileness of Islam, and this is seeping in to the Islamic community - they're discovering that it is a crock of s.... Heh, I'd riot too (Islam), or go into denial (Leftoids) if I had sacrificed my life for a shibolleth.

ADE

9/23/2006 03:45:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

ADE,

The key to Benedict's speech was his insistence that God cannot be separated from reason; in contrast to the idea, held by some Muslims, that God is beyond reason. In Benedict's theology God never demands the absurd and the reprehensible; never asks us to mutilate children or sow unspeakable horror in service to Him. Therefore the suicide bomber can never be the bearer of the divine message, in contrast to a belief system where murder could be an agency of Allah, for reasons only Allah knows.

I don't think this is the place to discuss philosophy; and I know the objections of the Problem of Evil. But that at any rate was Benedict's Red Rag to the Bull. It was the subject of the debate between the vassal Emmanuel II, holding on to the vestiges of Byzantium and his Persian interlocutor, the representative of the gigantic Muslim power. The lines he quoted. The match he tossed into the pool of gasoline.

And yes, you are right. The implication is that Osama by separating reason from God and perhaps twisting the image of Allah to conform to his own ambitions is endangering Islam. The world operates on many levels. The tactical, the engineering, the economic. Imagine to my surprise that it also, to some degree, actually operates on the philosophical. How wonderfully strange.

9/23/2006 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Ah, W,

The Word.

And your's, so elegant, mine so puny.

In the beginning was The Word...

Actually, it wasn't, in the beginning was The Concept.

Not the place to discuss philosophy?

Yes, we only discuss evidence.

ADE

9/23/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Nothing could further the likelihood of catastrophe more than the feckless apologetics of the politically correct West which rewards aggression with ever greater quantities of abjection and abasement, which disempowers Islamic moderates and empowers its illiterate thuggery"

Lawrence Wright is concerned we have created more Jihadis via Iraq than we have destroyed.
In WWII including after Hitler's death, Nazis were "discouraged" by the extreme prejudice visited upon them. Now we try to divine why the mind of a Muslim Jihadi is not changed with the application of a velvet glove.

Bush drops military option to repair rift with Pakistan

Two days after assuring Wolfie on CNN that he would!

Wright is also concerned that there were only 8 Arabic Speakers in the FBI on 9-11.
Nothing has changed since: There was only 1 Foreign Speaker in the latest graduating class.
He says the DHS is worthless.
---
Wake up, the West is losing.
The American imperium, Selbourne argues, “is in a state of confusion”. Its time will pass, just as Rome, Byzantium and the British Empire fell away. The West is losing the battle against Islam for the “same reason the British lost the American colonies. They had insufficient forces, their counsels were divided, and they underestimated their opponents”.
Selbourne was negatively impressed by our allowing the the lies of the Islamic Hitler and the Brazilian thug full voice so they could be presented on an equal footing w/POTUS by the MSM.
And the Admin bows to the ROP.

9/23/2006 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

In WWII, we mocked the Nazis, now we apologize to them.

9/23/2006 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger R2K said...

Whos what?

9/23/2006 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Pope, Faith, and ReasonIn the hands of the press, it was more like Will and Grace.=

Time for the new crop of British journalists to return to school for their graduate degrees, studying “parts of speech, syntax, spelling & basic grammar rules” in
“JOM926 Journalism Practice” — just the kind of training that will prepare them to eventually work at important daily newspapers where they may one day cover things like Pope Benedict XVI’s speech on “Faith and Reason,”
a lecture the pontiff delivered to his former colleagues at a German university.

Part of the problem journalists face when they have to report on complicated, somewhat obscure topics, such as Roman Catholic dogmatic theology, is that graduate journalism courses like JOM926 may stress spelling and grammar, but completely at the expense of “faith and reason.”
So maybe it’s not fair to blame journalists for the inanities in the week’s reporting of what was a very complex discussion by a scholarly pope concerning faith and reason in Christianity and in Islam.

9/23/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

...oh, where to begin...

...I'm right - you're wrong...

...a foreign concept to many in the west...

...however, an important concept to move from simply reacting to events, to charting a course...

In the increasingly co-mingled world, brought about by the ever shrinking globe due to technology and globalization, a tendency towards xenophobia is being brought to a head. As our established values are challenged, the natural tendency is to fall back to that we trust, those that are like minded, our Clan. As tensions escalate, there is a tendency to "batten down the hatches", seek isolation from what is viewed as evil, to become sanctified...a move towards fundamentalism; here, indoctrination is more important than reason, and leadership becomes political, not truly religious in nature, despite being cloaked in religion...
...as this forms the basis of the power of those in charge, they become stuck on stupid; those that are without the Clan are not to be trusted, and are in fact contrary to the Clan, and increasingly painted as having done injustice to the Clan, which must be righted...
...unfortunately, this goes against economic laws towards prosperity and naturally results in a downward economic slide, caused by non integration, and subsequently a growth of haves and have nots, similar to the "Gap"...

...fundamentalism by definition does not invite reason, and disallows the thought of being wrong, and unlike most higher intellectual callisthenics is not tested, tried & true; but, rather than appealling as being enlightened, is instead to be enforced - instead of appealling in the market place of ideas to our intellect and free will, rather a syndnicate with which to be aligned...
...with this, loyalty to Clan becomes a most important quality - but also introduces a tendency towards bigotry which does not allow true assimilation required in today's shrunken world, and also plays to the conspiracy laden, shadowy, neurotic tendencies of those locked into the xenophobic clan which undermines the openness neccessary for a democratic system; in other words, this clan mentality is incompatible with democracy...the clan relies on the enlightened few to look out for the common man constituents.

Those on the Left in the West should not be our primary concern. Their thoughtless masses are sold on the archaic idea of government sponsored womb to tomb care, and will follow their affluent leaders - who have allowed their distaste for our current predicament & leaders to lead them to the ethnocentric conclusion that all of our woes have been brought about by the outside world's hatred of the current neocon government, similar to their own feelings, with no thought of historical context or more fundamental differences...
...additionally, the Left, with their non-absolutism & leftover rebelliousness towards "the establishment", ranks all other religions as superior to that of their parents - because that is what they know first hand and perhaps they didn't "buy it".

The lack of personal religious commitment causes these on the left to see the rantings of fundamentalists as merely rhetoric, perhaps feeling that if these religious fanatics feel that strongly about their faith that they have a right to express themselves - as long as it doesn't affect me, similar to many peoples treatment of gays...

...however, this mindset, intellectual laziness, and the inability to comprehend fundamentalism denies those on the left the ability to acknowledge(ignorant to) the existential threat which globalization & engagement with the West exposes the fundamentalist form of Islam that we're dealing with, to...in other words, those on the Left, ruled by non-absolutism, cannot comprehend how western culture and contact with the outside world, could rock the world of the fundamentalist moslems, due to their own inability to comprehend the close mindedness of the fundamentalists and the strength of their indoctrination...

I say don't worry about the Left, as they, along with Libertarian isolationists will realize that the utopian world of the cozy, island of Nirvana is in fact inside out; and, that the religious of the West, that have wanted to reach out and engage the world to share the best of what we've got, were right...

These people will come to realize that the path they have condoned was a tacit form of segregation, that caused them to become evermore like the enemy they most villified; namely, the walled state of Israel, characterized by the us & them.

When they realize their politically popular sanctuary is to be left behind; or, perhaps concurrently, rocked by violence, they will realize the enemy is everywhere requiring missions throughout. Then they will understand...

...that the coals must be scattered to put them out and that hot spots, where ever, should not be allowed to remain.

So, once the need for engagement becomes apparent, as the pope has put forth, we come full circle back to the question of: how do you engage those of differing viewpoints?

The Lefts failure to understand religion, and their subsequent failure to recognize a religion hijacked by fundamentalists does not allow them to comprehend that fundamentalism, by its nature, has no tolerance for dissonance; for bridging of divides...necessitating a confrontation requiring the dissection and removal of the fundamentalist from the leadership of nation states...

...just as some kids just won't behave in class and must be removed...

...the real question is how to legitimately do this - these people must be discredited, as were the communists...

To win requires recognizing what is right, and recognizing the right thing to do...

9/23/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

see the enemy as Radical Islam.

Why is radical Islam only defined as the enemy when it's the moderate Muslims who aid and abet by their silence, as well as contribute their money in the form of charity to terrorist groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas?

Additionally, is a Muslim who commits a personal "honor killing" or gang rape but doesn't try to blow up an embassy considered to be a "radical" or a "moderate"?

It seems to me that as long as Islam considers the Koran to be a LITERAL recipe for living then we have to deal with the concepts of "jihad", "death to the infidel" and what-ever other lunatic rulings individual imams can be persuaded to issue in the name of Islam. And *that* in and of itself is radical.

9/23/2006 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Nahncee,

see the enemy as Radical Islam

which spews forth from those radical imams. Target the source!

9/23/2006 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

William Manchester addresses precisely this theme in his volume of Medieval history, "A World Lit only by Fire". Therein he mentions how the High Middle Ages, from c. AD 1100 - 1300, viewed socio-cultural evolution through a lens "in which nothing would ever change".

Like a feckless, self-aggrandizing Bill Clinton, Time's telescope easily views things from the far end. In his case, always the rear end...

9/23/2006 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger James Becker said...

Hello,

Of interest might be the story of Francis Fitzgerald, who in the late 1970's began a PHD thesis on American history text books. She eventually read many of the text books used to teach history from the 1800's to the (1970's) present.

What she found, was eventually published in a book "History Revised", which I can't seem to locate for purchse.

She found that almost all history text books from the 1800s to 1919 were the same. In 1919, history books changed radically to the form which have been common since.

In the pre-1919 history texts, history was written as a constant struggle of ideological systems. One ideological system would be assendent, which would create a conflict with a previously established ideology. That conflict would eventually be resolved, often through war or violence, which would then be followed by another conflict with the next ideological system to come along.

In post-1919 history texts, history was written as an unending stream of events, people, and places, all of which having little connection to any other, except for the passage of time.

Francis herself had difficulty understanding the purpose of such a transformation. Here in her words:

The ideology that lies behind these texts is rather difficult to define...it does not fit usual political patterns...the texts never indicate any line of action...authors avoid what they choose to and some of them avoid main issues...they fail to develop any original ideas...they confuse social sciences with science...clouds of jargon...leave out ideas...historical names are given no character, they are cipher people...there are no conflicts, only "problems"...

The above quote an be found in John Taylor Gatto's history of American Education here: The Underground History of American Education" Not a bad book, by the way.

If the old history texts were to interpret the current armed struggle, they may discuss the ideology of the west vs the ideology of militant islam. How they differ and how conflict is or is not inevitable. The new "zeitgeist" as Wretchard would say.

In the new history texts, George Bush makes decisions, Saddam Hussein makes decisions, Osama Bin Laden makes decisions.... It leads to war. What for?- for no reason at really.

I think I now understand why no one sees the ideological struggle under way, and especially why no one wants to see it.

James

9/24/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Raoul Ortega said...

re: Frances FitzGerald

The title of the copy of a book I have is America Revised, published in 1980 by Vintage with the note that "Almost all the book originally appeared in The New Yorker" on the copyright page.

9/24/2006 12:39:00 PM  

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