Thursday, January 25, 2007

Try to Remember

Francis Fukuyama concludes in the February 2007 edition of Prospect Magazine that Europe no longer remembers what it is, but that "immigrants" do. And that by and by the "immigrants" will tell Europe just exactly what to remember. But he stops at that point, as if trying to recall what comes next.

Multiculturalism, as it was originally conceived in Canada, the US and Europe, was in some sense a "game at the end of history." That is, cultural diversity was seen as a kind of ornament to liberal pluralism that would provide ethnic food, colourful dress and traces of distinctive historical traditions to societies often seen as numbingly conformist and homogeneous. Cultural diversity was something to be practiced largely in the private sphere, where it would not lead to any serious violations of individual rights or otherwise challenge the essentially liberal social order. Where it did intrude into the public sphere, as in the case of language policy in Quebec, the deviation from liberal principle was seen by the dominant community more as an irritant than as a fundamental threat to liberal democracy itself.

By contrast, some contemporary Muslim communities are making demands for group rights that simply cannot be squared with liberal principles of individual equality. These demands include special exemptions from the family law that applies to everyone else in the society, the right to exclude non-Muslims from certain types of public events, or the right to challenge free speech in the name of religious offence (as with the Danish cartoons incident). In some more extreme cases, Muslim communities have even expressed ambitions to challenge the secular character of the political order as a whole. These types of group rights clearly intrude on the rights of other individuals in the society and push cultural autonomy well beyond the private sphere. ...

Modern liberal societies have weak collective identities. Postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation. But if our societies cannot assert positive liberal values, they may be challenged by migrants who are more sure of who they are. ...

Immigration forces upon us in a particularly acute way discussion of the question "Who are we?", posed by Samuel Huntington. If postmodern societies are to move towards a more serious discussion of identity, they will need to uncover those positive virtues that define what it means to be a member of the wider society. If they do not, they may be overwhelmed by people who are more sure about who they are.

Fukuyama's article is full of wonderful phrases which one can't help thinking he may have read, at one time or the other, in some of Mark Steyn's writing. But the phrases "game at the end of history" and "postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities" are particularly striking ways of repackaging that old saw "my s**t don't stink". That Westerners have somehow levitated above the primordial need to perform the bodily functions -- and to survive is one of the grand understated premises of the age. And its biggest lie. There is a striking scene, in the 1998 fictional thriller Rainbow Six, where radical environmentalists who had planned to exterminating humanity to allow the earth to revert to some huge game park are punished by stripping away their clothes and told they will be home free if they can make their way some hundred miles across the Amazon jungle to the civilization they had hoped to destroy. Unfortunately for the environmentalists, they had not evolved to the point where they could levitate across the forest and consequently died, probably in excruciating agony.

The larger question implied by Fukuyama's article is how much of the current world crisis is actually due to Western vanity? And one of the fundamental measures of vanity is to what trivial solutions the clueless will resort to solve the most intractable problems. To the problem of hunger, Marie Antoinette was reputed to have said, "let them eat cake". By that standard the vanity of the West is nearly at par with Antoinette's. To the problem of the Muslim challenge challenge to Western Identity we have, well, "citizenship classes". Fukuyama notes, "Britain has recently been borrowing from both American and French traditions as it seeks to raise the visibility of national citizenship. The Labour government has introduced citizenship ceremonies for new citizens as well as compulsory citizenship and language tests." Let them eat cake.

Ralph Peters recently raised a ruckus by declaring that on the day Europe rediscovers itself, it will rediscover the Concentration Camp. There surely must exist alternatives between the ineffectual and the unthinkable; between the tea and crumpets of the citizenship class and the bread and water of the Death Camp. To think otherwise is to remained paralyzed. Unfortunately all the effective responses entail recalling the most unthinkable of all memories: the realization that Leftist thought, or a large part of it, has led the West to this pit of horrors. Until we remember that we can forget everything else.


Blogger Steve Skubinna said...

Peters is simply restating the oft heard remark that Europe has a shoddy record of dealing with peoples considered outside their mainstream (of course that never prevents them sanctimoniously lecturing Americans on our record). Which is true as far as it goes.

I don't doubt that there may be slumbering undercurrents of the traditional European disdain for non Europeans, but for those to erupt into abrutal state policy will require, aside from a reawakening of European exceptionalism (not likely), an ability to use force against the interlopers (already impossible). There are areas of France the police absolutely will not go. What possible chance have they of mustering the will and strength to round up whomever they consider undesirables?

Anyway, given Europe's past and present predilections, the undesirables are likely to end up being "the Jews." As usual.

There is no possible way the Euros are going to muster the strength to adopt a Final Solution to Jihad. The concentration camp scenario is by far the least likely outcome. Peters is a shapr guy and must know this, he's probably just trying to provoke a response. And he has, but of course it is never going to be a constructive or useful one, not from today's Europeans, who have surrendered in all but name to Jihad.

1/25/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve said, "There are areas of France the police absolutely will not go. What possible chance have they of mustering the will and strength to round up whomever they consider undesirables?"

It would take less will and strength to cut off power, water, food, and access to these No Go Zones.

1/25/2007 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Exactly! And if it can be done in Frawce, it certainly can be done in Iraq.

1/25/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


With no negative criticism intended, you do know, teresita, that what you describe is, by definition, a "concentration camp"?

While not trying to evade or avoid the implications of Wretchard's question, the West must ruthlessly use whatever or whichever means of pacification a situation requires. For some few, Fukuyama's soft approach might work, for others, the isolation and deprivation posited by teresita will be the only means of pacification, for still others, nothing but the peace of the grave will do. There is no single solution to the problem of "resurgent-Islam", just as there is no single definition for "resurgent-Islam". Tactics applicable to the Philippines, Somalia, or Afghanistan are not guaranteed to work in Paris. But, it is indubitably true that nothing will work until the West fully internalizes the fact that much of the Islamic world is at war with the West.

1/25/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no possible way the Euros are going to muster the strength to adopt a Final Solution to Jihad.

Remember that, prior to Hitler's rise to power, Germany was by many considered to be the most advanced and civilized country in the world. To many people (including, sadly, far too many ethnically Jewish Germans), the idea of a Final Solution was ludicrously barbaric, and yet . . .


Almost immediately after Theo Van Gogh's murder, according to friends in Tilburg, there were young ethnic Dutch in - you guessed it - jackboots and white tee's patrolling the streets, and the National party has never been stronger there. This in the most liberal/least nationalistic country in the world.

I'm not urging such a resolution, mind; I fear it. My son and I were arguing this afternoon whether or not the French have the fortitude for such a response when/if it becomes the last possible means of their cultural survival. My thinking is no, but (referencing the early Po-210 post and discussion) if downtown Paris becomes a glowing crater, all bets are off.

1/25/2007 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I don't understand why we just can't say "NO" to Muslims who would attempt to assert sharia-based and merely tradition-based claims to civic privileges that have been decisively and continuously denied in our courts for a long, long time. That we entertain them is a measure of the influence of the smattering of essentially aggressive notions that comprise multiculturalism, the handmaiden of socialist radicalism, or in any case an attitude arising from it and persistently affected by its preoccupations. Islam is not "like" Christianity; it is more like Judaism in that it has laws prescribing all manner of conduct, and what has been left undescribed - e.g. the incidents of modernity that mullahs and imams struggle daily to inform their congregations about - can be resolved rather easily in one direction or another according to the personality of the authority uttering the fatwa. In the present context, and probably because modernity forces Muslims back to first principles which are both profoundly anti-liberal and essentially aggressive answers to the doctrines of subject Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian populations to begin with to maintain the dominance of the conquering Arabs, the answers to modernity tend toward what is called Islamism. Obviously, if proponents of liberal tradition actually value their traditions rather than their instant desire to avoid unpleasantries, they would simply say, NO. Developing "positive" doctrines as I suspect Fukayama employs the term could only lead to "innovation," in the sense in which Muslims use that term. Fukayama should be consigned to some sort of silence; one should have to pay a decisive, if not very onerous, price for being as wrong as he has so clearly been.

1/25/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

As to the question of Europe that Peters brings up, it will be interesting to see how well le Pen does in France (yes I know he's apparently embraced the anti-war/Buchananish view and even appealled to some Muslims groups, but this can hardly be sincere; if it is, le Pen will get virtually zero votes since it violates his entire prior platform).

1/25/2007 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

If the history of WWII is a guide (and it is), then the sequence of events in Europe will be something like this:

(a) The detached elites who normally dominate the governments in each country will lead the continent into a choatic conflict, in a posture in which it is already virtually lost, before they cede control over the state.

(b) As they stand aside a 'popular leader' will be thrust forward to rally the ordinary people the elites normally ignore, and do the dirty work they would not (Churchill, bomb Germany, etc.). In this case, deal in some effective way with the immigrants.

(c) Immediately after the conflict the elites who have been keeping a low profile unite, step forward again, toss out the 'popular leader' (as Churchill was tossed aside at the moment of victory), step back into the roles they played before and proceed to complain haughtily about the measures resorted to in their absence.

(d) Life goes on as before, until the next monumental screw-up.

Note that the European elites used to be called aristocrats. In exactly the way that across Africa a small relatively well educated elite stepped smoothly into the shoes of the departing colonialists (even delighting in calling each other 'Bwana' when no whites were around), and adopted just the appearance of constitutional government and democracy, European privileged elites are the continent's new hereditary aristocrats.

Case in point: France, where the leaders of the supposedly contending political parties all went to school together and the brother of the current Socialist presidential candidate, leading the charmed life of a member of a significant family, was a terrorist for the state (blew up the Rainbow Warrior), got sprung from jail, was given a medal, now has a senior government job, all through different administrations as if they hardly made a difference (they don't).

1/25/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Skubinna said...

teresita, if the French do as you predict, the "youths" will spill out of the banlieus and devastate the rest of the country. And for the rest who think the French might muster the will, they do not have the preponderance of strength they will need to herd a sizable chunk of their populace into camps.

Europe could marginalize the Jews because they were already marginalized socially, despite their strong presence in the financial, artistic, educational and literary communities. Today's angry young Muslims have things their own way - it's as if the Warsaw Uprising had happened in 1936, when it might have knocked the Nazis out of the ring.

Too little, too late. Even if the Euros choose a draconian solution they haven't the strength to administer it.

1/25/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

In the end the europeans will do what the russians are starting to do. Kick out all the Muslims.

Luckily, by that time the greening of North Africa will have been well under way.

1/25/2007 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...


"There are areas of France the police absolutely will not go. What possible chance have they of mustering the will and strength to round up whomever they consider undesirables?"

Ever heard of Srbrenica? Doubtless many French have, especially those who would back a forceful "solution" to the no-go problem, so though they may not have the will they probably know where they could find some to import.

1/25/2007 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I don't know but I tend to agree with Fukayama rather than Peters on this question; I don't think Europe, as it currently manifests itself in the media and in some personal experience, exhibits any cultural momentum in any direction but apparently terminal decline. Its habits are all derivatives of exhaustion; it is remarkable, yet again, how Nietzsche forsaw this result, how clear it is, and yet how obscured by the most public representations. The media is a rather gigantic problem in general because of its ubiquity and its intellectual mediocrity, dooming the public to increasingly claustrophobic and abstracted versions of a discourse that is entirely inadequate and yet endlessly ramified in a million different ways. The premier intellectual sentiments comport with them utterly, its proponents' ranks comprehensively infiltrated by the agents of a variety of Third World moral extortion. Clearly, World Wars I and II destroyed the self-confidence and elan of the entire Continent, causing to whither not some single continental culture as popularly portrayed - that is evidence of decline - but of a dozen or more individual cultures. And they play out this lack of self-confidence alternately in displays of masochism and passive-aggressive manipulation. Unfortunately this is the necessary result of the Volk component of liberalism as it developed in the multi-ethnic empires the once organized the continent. Now, the same propositions that led to Hungarian independence from Hapsburg Vienna and even German-speaking Sudatenland from Czechoslovakia will be applied as a matter of natural right to Muslims, whose bedrock theo-political principles make it an inexorable preoccupation with them anyway. That will be, and is already in some places, an unfortunate harmony. What is so difficult is to imagine Europe asserting itself, from its many centers of urban power, against this forgotten form of aggression as employed by the Muslims among them, mainly because what it would need to do could only be interpretted as resonating with those principles that are blamed, in this prevailing discoursive exhaustion, for the cause of that exhaustion - the world wars. That this is obvious is demonstrated by the victory of Communism in so many imaginations following the first and especially the second war. Islam will offer a similar temptation, though more farcical because utterly and almost comically alien. But there is still time, I think, and it does seem just unlikely that the transformation which the most anxious envision really will come to pass. Of course, the dimensions of the exhaustion are not really known, and its agents are instrumental in making that determination. I wonder whether pulling our troops out of Germany wouldn't concentrate their imaginations in a constructive way, or whether that would merely deepen the distance between us? I'm guessing our military command thinks the situation is such that they would not want, at this point, to risk the latter outcome.

1/26/2007 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Chip said...

Many nations in Europe can't take a hard line without automatically starting a civil war within their own military. French forces are 20% Muslim now. Europe will Balkanize and conflicts will erupt between neighborhoods. Or the Muslims will roll over the native population. Islam has a system for putting down native populations, and it works.

1/26/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

People need to review their dictionaries and their modern history texts.

An "irredentist" is not an oral surgeon who X-rays your jaws.

1/27/2007 08:11:00 PM  

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