The Enlightenment was born in Europe and, clearly, will die there too:
Hat tip: Small Dead Animals
As we settle into the Obama Depression era, one thing that I and others have noticed is that many of the very youth that voted enthusiastically for Obama are the ones already feeling the consequence of his policies: they are unemployed. As one of my college-age kids put it, “our generation is so over Obama, today!”.
High youth unemployment is an inevitable consequence of socialism. In modern Europe, it has always been high. Here is an example of its pervasiveness in the U.K., for example:
In Europe, the problem has been exacerbated by extensive “social safety nets” that guarantee a pretty good lifestyle for the unemployed. Why work, when you can live comfortably on public assistance combined with the black market economy (dealing drugs, for example)? There are large swaths of the European population that, like people in our inner city projects, have no idea how to work. A young man in France with a finance degree recently reported to me that he was “happily unemployed”. Thanks to his government, he leads a comfortable existence. However, that, too, shall come to an end, for Europe faces the same economic collapse as the U.S.
I really do feel sorry for university students graduating today: for many, if not most, their degrees will be obsolete by the time the economy recovers (which could be a very long time). What employer would hire a student with, say, a business, philosophy, English, or whatever degree that has lain fallow for two, four or more years when they can hire a freshly minted graduate instead? These students’ parents, meanwhile, will often have drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from their retirement funds to fund such now worthless educations. I know of parents that have destroyed their retirement options in order to put their kids through university.
So, what happens when you have armies of unemployed young people with obsolete skills? I know that this has happened before, such as in the Great Depression. However, when economic recovery did come in the mid-to-late ’40s, workers with no education and technical skills could still find plenty of hands-on work opportunities. I don’t know that this holds true anymore in a modern economy. There’s only so many openings for baristas.
Two stories out of Europe. First, the European Union ruled that Ireland’s abortion ban violated a woman’s rights. Second, the British have given permanent asylum to an Iraqi man who, while driving without a license, killed a 12 year old in a hit and run accident, on the grounds that denying him residence would violate his human rights.
An Austrian MP has finally had enough of the way the Turkish government complains about the treatment Turks receive in Austria. I have no idea what kind of treatment Turks receive in Austria, although if it’s like the rest of Europe, they get welfare, and they do not integrate, both because the welfare keeps them out of the workforce and because Muslims don’t to integrate. Anyway, if you haven’t seen this yet, you’ll find it interesting:
All I can say is that this is one Austrian who’s had it up to here and beyond with political correctness. I know some are worried that it sounds like Hitler castigating the Jews, but I don’t see it that way. The fact that Hitler created and then destroyed a straw man, based only on shadowing conspiracy theories and paranoia, should not mean that all of us in the West are henceforth barred from speaking up against true evil: and to the extent any Islamist, whether a Turk or a Saudi or an America, openly advocates for (and tries to act upon that advocacy) the destruction of other nations, the subjugation of women, the murder of Jews, Christians and gays, and the world’s forcible conversion to Islam and governance under sharia law, we have an obligation to speak up, and we’re not Nazis for doing so.
When I was a child, filling the gas tank was the cheapest part of owning a car. Houses were also warm. As long as my father was earning money (which wasn’t always the case), during the winter we heated our house to a comfortable 72 degrees. Then, in 1974, the first energy crisis heat. Gasoline got expensive, changing our car buying and our car driving habits. And during the winter, our house went down to 68 degrees.
Fast forward almost 40 years and, while world leaders are fussing about global warming, ordinary people are contemplating alternative energy cars simply because they can’t afford to spend $120 a week to put gas in their fuel tanks. We’ve also continued to downgrade our expectations within our homes. My house is a toasty 62 degrees on this chilly day because the heating bills are too exorbitant otherwise. We Americans have been scaled down. Way down.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the expectations a nation’s citizens have will affect political structure. The lower the expectations, the more willing citizens are to accept heavy, top-down control. I ruminate on that at greater length here:
As is often the case, a great American songwriter nailed it. Alan Jay Lerner, putting words in Henry Higgins’ mouth in My Fair Lady, had him sing:
An Englishman’s way of speaking
Absolutely classifies him
The moment he talks
He makes some other Englishmen despise him
If you know you’re going to be despised no matter what, you don’t aspire, you just gracefully expire, locked forever into your own low expectations.
Bookworm recently asked, “is Europe trying to save itself?” To that question, I can only offer anecdotal evidence from family and business visits made to France and Belgium this summer, shortly after the Greece-precipitated financial crisis.
Europe (witness the EU) is an uber-bureacracy. For centuries, Europe’s forms of governance have devolved into top-down, centralized governments that control virtually every aspect of individual life while disenfranchising the connections between citizenry and the ruling classes. These trends metastasized under the EU and, following adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon in May, a treaty that cemented the supra-national power of the unelected EU authority. “Europe” effectively ceased being democratic. In tandem with this trend, European citizens have been conditioned to think less as “citizens” and more as “subjects” of their governments. Today, the only real power of dissent left to them has been to riot destructively in the streets or to paralyze their countries in strikes (France maintains a separate police force 100% dedicated to dealing with social disturbances). Setting parked cars on fire (car-b-cues) is a charming French tradition of civic protest that is now spreading to other European countries.
In this Bismarkian state model, the trade-off for political disenfranchisement has been a guarantee that the social welfare state would take care of all its citizens’ needs: retirement pensions, joblessness benefits at a high fraction of one’s previous salary, “free” education, public safety and health care. In France, this compact is proudly referred to in Orwellian terminology as “Solidarity”. The EU compact also offered an end to Europe’s perpetual war and tribalism. As one of my elderly relatives put it to me, “my grandparents lived through three wars, my parents live through two and I lived through one. With the EU, I could hope that my children would never know war”. It’s an appealing vision.
Thus, for the greater perceived good, the vaste majority of citizens in France and other EU countries passively accepted what was handed to them, be it political correctness, Islamic migration, or economic and tax policy: why waste time worrying about what one cannot change? Such issues were best left for the ruling elites to address. Unfortunately, such also generated a toxic blend of cynicism, pacifism and lassitude laced with a nihilistic hedonism. Europeans stopped caring, partied on and stopped having babies. When government strips life of meaning, what’s the point of meaningful living, right? The Euros lost pride in self and pride in their own nations and cultures. They also lost their sense of civic responsibility. Whenever disaster struck in Europe (floods, heat waves, violence), I could not help but notice how passively Europeans deferred to authorities for help, rather than helping themselves. Rampant theft and vandalism is accepted as part of normal life: car windows are routinely smashed. In the nicest neighborhoods of Paris, the bottom floor windows of homes are paned in bullet-proof glass to discourage home invasions, which are accepted as quite normal occurrences…even in daytime. The cops seldom respond. In Europe, the victim is often treated as the perp while the criminal is perceived as the victim. One seldom if ever sees ordinary citizens sandbagging during floods the way we do in the U.S., for example – everyone looks out for themselves and leaves the heavy lifting to the “authorities”. Pacifism and passivity go hand-in-hand.
When visiting my relatives in France in the past, I could be assured that most (not all) had only vague ideas about what was happening in their country, their economy and the world. Most accepted the dispositions of the (mostly government controlled) media at face value. Moreover, why worry about the present and future (e.g., why save for retirement) when the government’s “Solidarity” will take care of it for you? And, while my focus in this discourse is on France, be assured that these observations apply also to Europe in toto.
All this has changed.
The Greek crisis, which closely followed the international banking crisis, caused a severe crisis of confidence and with it, an awakening. As a Dutch business associate remarked to me, “how can it be that we must work hard to pay taxes in the North until the age of 68 so that people in Greece can work hardly at all, pay no taxes and retire at the age of 60?”. Europe, like the U.S., is broken and broke.
The Greek crisis forced average Europeans to realize that the entire economic and political structures upon which their “solidarity” depended was about to collapse as the economic and political contradictions of the EU socialist state came to a head. An elderly gentleman I know – a world renown attorney, a member of the French Resistance, a former advisor to French prime ministers as well as to a U.S. president and an ardent supporter of the EU – looked at me and said, “it’s all finished, now”. I asked him “what”, exactly, was finished. He replied, “The EU, our peace and our prosperity”. The people, for the first time, were realizing that there was no money to pay for it all. For the first time ever, I saw fear and doubt in my relatives’ eyes. For the first time, I saw graffiti (most European towns are plastered with graffiti) and posted flyers denouncing the EU along with EU policies toward immigration. For the first time, I saw a steely flintiness in peoples’ eyes (not just in France) when the subject of Islamic immigration into Europe was raised. I saw also a new appreciation by Europeans of their heritage and values. Nationalism is on the rise. I saw more pride in France and its history, especially among the young. My daughter, who had been studying in France on an exchange program, remarked that many of the college students with whom she studied were returning to the Church and expressed a new-found resolve and pride in their country and heritage.
Before one can solve a problem, one must first recognize and define the problem. Europeans are still far from ready to take charge of their destiny. I just don’t know if average EU citizens have the wherewithal to resist and upend the uber-State and its entrenched ruling classes. A Tea Party movement would be inconceivable to Europeans, for example. However, I do believe that average Europeans are waking up to the crisis and beginning to define the problems…all problems, including the one of Islamicization. This trend will continue, especially as new economic and political crises inevitably appear. In Europe, as in the U.S., the entire “solidarity” compact between State and Subject is about to go humpty-dumpty as reality sunders its foundations. I suspect that the consequences will be very, very ugly. I saw evidence of this on my visit to Flanders, but that will have to await another post.
I do know that what eventually happens in Europe will have profound consequences for our country as well. This is not a crisis of European civilization but of Western civilization. We all face the same abyss.
I don’t have a link yet (it was tweeted), but it appears that the Swedes elected a center-right government. I see this as a good thing, although I haven’t lost sight of two facts: (1) Europe is so far Left that, as we know from England, even center-right is Left; and (2) the cancer of antisemitism has managed to permeate most of Europe, irrespective of Left and Right. Only if/when the Europeans realize that, in their efforts to preserve their culture against Islam’s latest assault, they are on the same side of the battle lines as the Jews will they be able to eradicate this vile disease.
In Der Spiegel, of all places, one finds an article bemoaning, loudly and strongly, the profound mistake inherent in the Democrats’ Europeanization of America:
The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve want to fix the United States economy by spending more money. But while that approach might work for Europe, it is risky for the US. The nation would be better off embracing traditional American values like self-reliance and small government.
There’s no question about it: The 20th century was America’s era. The United States rose rapidly from virtually nothing to become the most politically powerful and economically strongest country in the world. But the financial crisis and subsequent recession have now raised doubts about its future. Are we currently witnessing the beginning of the end of the American era?
A firm belief in the individual’s ability, ideas, courage, will and a reliance on one’s own resources brought the US to the top. The American dream promised everyone the chance of upward mobility — literally from rags to riches, from minimum wage to millionaire. The individual’s pursuit of happiness was seen as the crucial foundation for the well-being of society, rather than the benevolent state which cares for its subjects — and certainly not the welfare state, which provides a social safety net for its citizens.
In the American system, every man was responsible for himself — in good times and bad. No one could count on government assistance, not even the wannabe millionaire who did not make it and ended up homeless.
Read the rest here. Thomas Straubhaar essentially argues that America must be true to itself in order to reinstate its former economic greatness. Sounds right to me.
One of the frustrating things about conversing with liberals is that, even as they’ll concede that socialism in Russia and China and Cuba and North Korea is not, or was not, a good thing, they’ve always got Europe to fall back upon.
European socialism works, I am told. Europeans have assured housing, assured medical care, assured retirement, assured maternity leave, assured vacations, etc. It is everything that America could be, if only we’d stop our ridiculous parochialism. Even the economic disasters in Greece and Spain don’t dent this liberal belief in the validity of European-style socialism. After all, we’ve seen market collapses before, and ships of state have still righted themselves.
Any arguments I make to counter the claim about the almighty wonders of Europe are dismissed. The fact that Europeans have had for decades more money because the U.S. largely handled their defense is just a picayune detail, unrelated to the larger picture. The fact that Europe has been in a slow economic decline for decades is a sour grapes statement, unrelated to the reality that all those Europeans get six weeks paid vacation a year!
The fact that the overwhelming bureaucracy necessary to run a socialist Europe increasingly deprives people of rights and freedoms we take for granted is viewed as a small price to pay for a life free of worry about job security, health care and retirement. And finally, the fact that traditional morality declines in socialized countries, as people move ever further away from personal responsibility (since the government will clean up all their messes, whether those messes are myriad illegitimate children, or disasterous personal habits that leave one unable to to hold a job), is chalked up to a general, and worldwide, societal decline unrelated to a Nanny State.
No matter what I say, my liberals always fall back on two fundamental conclusions: (1) they like what they see in Europe and (2) they believe that we can replicate the system.
So I’m going to take my friends at face value for a moment, and ignore what are, to me, the glaring problems with socialism (the economic unreality; the failures arising from that financial fantasy; the loss of freedom; and the breakdown of a stable, moral society). Instead, I’ll accept that it can happen here — or can it? I suspect that the huge chasm between European society as it existed at the end of WWII and American society as it exists now will prevent European socialism from ever taking hold. (By the way, I’m not saying that socialism cannot be foisted on us; I’m just saying it won’t be European and, if we’re very unlucky, it will be something infinitely worse and more energetic even than that in the old USSR, China or North Korea).
When European socialism began, each European nation was a remarkably homogeneous. The post-war English were still quintessentially English, whether one thought of Colonel Blimp, louche Bright Young Things, or Angry Young Men. Not only was it a distinctly British culture, it was also a surprisingly non-acquisitive one.
I remember one of the best professors I had at Berkeley (yes, even Berkeley had some decent teachers), talking about the way in which the Industrial Revolution stagnated in England by the end of the 19th century, even as it continued to roar through America. “It seems,” he said, “that the British working class had lower aspirations than Americans. Once they achieved a certain economic level, they stopped working and innovating.”
Alan Jay Lerner, channeling George Bernard Shaw, put it perfectly: “An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him. The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him.” Just as nobody should remodel a house in excess of the neighborhood (you’ll never get your money back after having created a mini-Versailles in a block full of boxy 50s tract homes), English workers knew that no amount of money would ever let most of them rise above their backgrounds and education.
I know Britain best, but I don’t doubt that the situation was similar in other European countries. I do know that, in Holland, the Dutch moved on a similar timetable, with good housewives all scrubbing their stoops every morning, doing laundry on the same day, and generally doing as their neighbors did. The Dutch, too, had a class system, with even a single word uttered being sufficient to give away someone’s place in the hierarchy.
Indeed, rather than try to prove homogeneity for all the socialized European nations, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, I’ll do something different: I defy you to name for me a single European nation in the years between the end of WWII and, say, 1985, that wasn’t homogeneous in terms of culture, and rather stagnant in terms of social aspirations. (I suspect all the aspiring citizens had already run away to America.)
This homogeneity wasn’t just cultural. It was also genetic. Bloodlines in European countries went back straight and far. Sure the British were amalgams of Celts, Saxons and a few Normans (themselves Nordic in origin), but that genetic influx ended in 1066. The Brits then spent almost 1,000 years being genetically British. On the continent, the Romans had seeded continental Europe pretty well, as did the Celtic and Germanic tribes, but those blood lines had also settled for several hundred years by the time European socialism rolled around.
And so we have a continent in which each separate nation has the same genes, the same belief systems, and the same habits of living. In this, Europe is as distinct as can be from America, and that despite America’s clear European ancestry.
Whether one views America as a melting pot or a salad bowl, we Americans comprise a genetically and culturally diverse nation. Within a single neighborhood, the Wongs are eating different food from the DiMarcos, who have different work habits from the Hansens, who don’t share the same genetic disease predispositions as the Goldbergs. And then, of course, you get the Wong-Goldberg wedding, with a second generation emerging with an entirely new set of values, genetic diseases, and food habits — although I suspect the Goldbergs will follow the Wongs when it comes to food. Chinese food, after all, is pretty much a wonderful thing no matter how you look at it.
Thinking about America’s cultural ebullience, and comparing it to Europe’s resemblance to a single cell organism, it’s easy to see how socialism might have worked, and worked successfully, for many decades in Europe. A working class accustomed over the centuries to taking orders from a ruling class would adapt easily if the orders came from a drably dressed government worker, as opposed to a splendidly dressed courtier. Likewise, a working class that never aspired too high wouldn’t complain too loudly when it was told that, in the search for economic equality, people simply couldn’t have things available in economically freer countries. Nor would it be difficult to direct a culture that, Borg–like, had always functioned in unison.
If people share the same views on everything from the appropriate size of vegetable marrows, to the right age for marriage, to the propriety of abortion, it’s easy to enact legislation enforcing such values, or to use social pressure to force people away from those same values. The tight communal living of Europe, after all, has always demanded a certain level of conformity.
The fact that people had the same lifestyles and genetics also helped when it came to socialized medicine. You can allocate limited resources much better if you know that, by diet and genes, the majority of your people will die from heart attacks, not colon cancer. Allocating medical resources in a country in which people have a huge mish-mash of hereditary diseases and lifestyle habits is infinitely more difficult (if not impossible).
So, contrary to my optimistic liberal friends, I don’t think European socialism can ever happen here. Our petri dish is wrong. Instead of a nice, clean agar solution that invites the healthy growth of socialism, we have a teaming fish pond that, with luck, will kill any invading socialist bacteria.
Lastly, if you’re wondering about the importance of homogeneity to the success of European socialism, think about what’s been happening in Europe since the mid-1980s, when the European countries stopped limiting immigration, and opened their doors to a flood of Eastern Europeans, Africans, East Asians, and Muslim Middle Easterners. These people did not view the socialist welfare system as part of a social contract. Instead, they viewed it as vast treasure house to be pillaged.
I can’t say that I blame them. If you’re innovative, and you see a system that’s ripe for the plucking, you pluck. But many countries now find that their lovely socialist high rises have become dangerous enclaves with values alien to the host country, and that a welfare system that depended on everyone playing the game (“from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”), doesn’t work if you have an alien horde thinking “me, me, me.” Instead of harmonious European equality, you end up with French banlieues in flames, Greek anarchists throwing fire bombs, London subways and buses blowing up and a dawning chaos that will not sustain any political or economic system for long.
UPDATE: I couldn’t resist appending to this post I picture of the three party leaders in Britain (Brown, Clegg and Cameron). Although each is easily distinguishable from the other, there is a remarkable sameness to their looks. Trace their profiles and you’ll see what I mean. You probably won’t find that in America, even if, as a liberal, you’re castigating a room for being filled with “white men.” They’ll still have different features, whether it’s high bridged noses, square chins, receding foreheads, or whatever. These guys are the same gene pool:
Finally, Israel lashes back . . . at the misrepresentations in the European media.
Anyone who speaks Hebrew, French or Spanish, will have a huge advantage over me when it comes to appreciating the videos at that site.
To learn more about the ad campaign if you don’t speak those languages, here’s a little more info.
As part of a larger opinion piece giving thanks that America is still un-European enough to resist Obama’s European-izing efforts, Jonathan Rosenbloom has this to say about the modern European character:
In A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel, Robin Shepherd analyzes the cast of mind that predisposes Europeans to hate Israel so much, and repeatedly raises the question as to whether these attitudes could take hold in America (or have already done so on elite campuses). In addition, Europe has remained passive in the face of both the internal demographic threat from its Muslim population and the external threat of radical Islam.
The sources of Europe’s appeasement mentality are many. Having ceased to produce children, Europeans are understandably less concerned about the future. They are content to buy time until they can shuffle off this mortal coil in peace. And having cast off traditional religion, they find no transcendent values worth dying for, since nothing awaits them after death.
The European model of decision-making by centralized bureaucratic states or the European Union also contributes to passivity in the face of danger. Those who willingly turn over the control of their lives to a centralized bureaucracy, and no longer insist on their right – or at least that of their elected representatives – to make the crucial decisions about their lives are less likely to fight to defend themselves from external threat.
A FEW years back, I experienced that maddening European bureaucracy firsthand. On a bus ride from London to Bournemouth, the driver stopped after two hours, with Bournemouth less than 45 minutes away, and announced that European Commission regulations forbade him from driving any longer without a 45-minute rest break. That enforced stop raised the same question that pops into my mind every time I’m asked by airport security to remove my shoes and belt: How can people tolerate this idiocy?
The defeated European constitution, which ran to more than 1,000 pages of numbing detail about everything, including the permissible size of ball bearings, was the classic expression, to quote Ajami again, “of the technocratic model of the European states, where a bureaucratic elite disposes of public policy with scant regard for the popular will.” In the Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu described the interplay between the laws and institutions of a particular society and the character of the citizenry. Monarchies, for instance, emphasize honor, while democratic societies stress virtue. And modern government by bureaucracy – something Montesquieu was spared from witnessing – fosters passivity.
It’s worth adding here that, while Obama may love the European way, and is clearly seeking to turn America into a European style society and economy, he’s not showing any love for Europe itself. Der Spiegel, perhaps to avoid feeling slighted, acknowledges Obama’s obvious coldness towards European leaders, but excuses it by saying that he’s acting that way only because Europe is doing so well, Obama can (and must) focus his attentions elsewhere:
Obama may have made six brief trips to Europe during his first year in office, but the European Union has slipped far down on his priority list. The Europeans are none too pleased. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero defiantly told a confidant that the US shouldn’t forget that Europe is “an economic power and an important political actor.”
But Obama’s decision to cancel is hardly surprising. For starters, there are no fires in Europe right now that Obama needs to attend to. With his popularity falling at home, Obama needs to focus on delivering results in the US. Right now, the last thing he needs is more European photo ops without concrete results.
From Obama’s perspective, that is exactly what the EU-US summit would have been like. “The Europeans shouldn’t be surprised,” says Annette Heuser of the Washington office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank. “They turned this summit into a show rather than finding issues — like energy policy — where both have a common interest in working together.”
This analysis was a rather funny thing to read considering that the same online edition of Der Spiegel reported that the Euro is collapsing and several European states are on the verge of bankruptcy:
Men like Wilhelm Nölling, former member of the German Central Bank Council, and Wilhelm Hankel, an economics professor critical of the euro, have been out of the spotlight for years. In the 1990s, they fought against the introduction of the common currency, even calling on Germany’s high court to prevent the creation of the euro zone. But none of it worked.
Is the euro’s high flight over now too? The news these days is alarming. It’s causing a commotion on financial markets and intense discussion in capitals across Europe, as well as in Frankfurt, seat of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Accruing debt is becoming increasingly expensive for other countries in the euro zone as well, among them Portugal and Spain. The southern members of the euro zone are especially being eyed with mistrust. Speculators are betting that bonds will continue to fall and that, eventually, the countries won’t be able to borrow any more money at all. State bankruptcies are seen as a possibility.
All of which leads to the obvious question: How serious does it have to get in Europe before Obama starts paying attention?
There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about Brit Hume’s “come to Jesus” suggestion to Tiger:
I don’t have a whole lot to say about that, other than it goes a long way to explaining why Hume left the MSM. Not only could he not say that when he worked for ABC, he’d probably be barred from even thinking it. As is often the case with me, my thoughts headed in a completely opposite direction from the obvious.
I was actually thinking about the end of Rome, Georgian England and pre-WWI America. All three of them were distinguished by out-of-control behaviors. One responded by collapsing, as it was unable to defend itself against external forces. The other two responded by clamping down, hard and fast on societal wrongs. I wonder if we’re again at that tipping point in time.
I won’t belabor Rome. It rose; it fell. Part of its fall was its overextended borders. Part of its fall was an internal moral collapse that rendered it incapable of defending itself against its external enemies. That collapse didn’t happen quickly, taking, as it did, hundreds of years, but it still happened.
When we think of Georgian England, we think of elegant architecture, and the calm rationalism of the Enlightenment movement. The writer I always think of, of course, is Jane Austen, with her cool sarcasm and unwavering morality. We see it as a formal, intellectual, rational time — which it was, in one sector of society.
Georgian England was also a time of exceptional licentiousness. It’s no wonder that Hogarth bloomed artistically in that era. His etchings exposed the evils of drinking, as in Gin Lane:
He also examined prostitution, which was overwhelmingly prevalent in Georgian England. The plate below, the 6th in a series entitled “A Harlot’s Progress,” shows a clergyman masturbating a woman at the harlot’s funeral, mourners drink from atop the coffin and try to steal from within it, and a prostitute pick-pockets a mourner:
And of course, most of us are familiar with Hogarth’s famous “Rake’s Progress,” showing debauchery in the high life. This is the last plate, with the Rake reduced to insanity, thanks to syphilis:
By the way, modern England faces very similar cultural scourges today. Here’s a New Year’s picture of a modern-day rake’s progress — a British girl so drunk, she’s passed out in the snow:
That’s just one of thousands of pictures of debauchery that routinely find their way into the British tabloids, all of which bemoan the alcohol soaked culture that is modern Britain. Most of these pictures are ignored outside of the tabloids, although there was a suitable furor when a drunken University student urinated on a war memorial. Apparently, there are still some lines one cannot cross:
America is having her own debauchery festival. Performers simulate sex on stage (and in the audience); cities turn whole streets over to orgiastic behavior; and middle and high schools host x-rated “instructional” meetings for “victim” groups and promulgate pornographic reading lists — and that’s just the short list of cultural horrors.
The question is, where do we go from here? And that’s where I think things get interesting. The Romans fell apart (albeit in slow motion). The Georgians responded with Evangelicalism. Victorian propriety didn’t spring out of nowhere. It was a very direct, and religiously based, response to the debaucheries of the Georgian period. While Jane Austen demonstrates that the Georgian era always had a core of middle class moralists, it took the Victorians to elevate that morality to a national doctrine.
America’s path was a bit different. America, as a frontier country that had fought a revolution steeped in Protestant doctrine never had the Georgian cultural experience, although it also embraced Evangelicalism. (America, too, had giant revival meetings.) It was, simply, a more moral county in the 1700s, so it didn’t need to have a Victorian cultural backlash in the 1800s.
However, America had her own severe problem in the 1800s, and that was alcoholism. In the early to mid 19th Century, Johnny Appleseed wasn’t out there planting Golden Delicious and Fuji applies. Instead, he was planting trees with apples specifically selected to make hard cider, a strong alcoholic drink. And in the Wild West, the saloons weren’t cute places with sassy showgirls. They were centers of exceptionally hard drinking and truly pathetic prostitution.
The temperance movement, rather than being a sour-faced movement of small-minded women dedicated to destroying men’s fun was, instead, a direct response to an unprecedented wave of enormously destructive alcoholism. That women spearheaded the movement was unsurprising, since it was they who were at the mercy of alcoholic men who raped them, beat them and left them alone to raise children in a pre-birth control age.
Prohibition, the culmination of the temperance movement, brought its own crime problems in its wake. Nevertheless, Prohibition did work insofar as its goal was to break the back of the drinking culture that was destroying America. We drink today, but not as we drank then. In that way, is was a successful Constitutional experiment.
Bottom line: when debauchery takes over, society’s either collapse completely (as did Rome, which was unable to defend itself), or they take remedial steps (witness 19th Century England and late-19th and early-20th Century America). The question today is what will happen in Europe (and, specifically, England) and America. Both countries are struggling with internal cultural collapse and external enemies.
If I was a betting woman, I would say that England will yield, both internally and externally, to Islam. Externally, Islam will use bombs and guns to take over the country. Internally, an exhausted population will be grateful for the moral constraints Islam imposes on an out-of-control population. Religious prohibitions against alcohol will seem like a good thing, and the country, bounded on one side by debauchery and on the other side by guns and bombs, will willingly take on all the other limitations Islam imposes on formerly free populations.
In America, I think we’ll go the other way: It won’t be Islam that destroys us, but Christianity that saves us. I make this prediction as a Jewish woman who trusts that her Christian fellow-Americans will continue to believe in religious freedom. This means that I don’t imagine a theocracy, with militant Christians taking over Washington at gun point. I simply believe that Americans will look at what’s happening around them, and take refuge in traditional religious morality — and in this country, traditional religious morality is predominantly Christian.
Of course, America’s problems won’t end with a strong public resurgence of Judeo-Christian religious values. With Europe almost certainly having collapsed before Islam, the external hostility directed at America will be overwhelming. On the other hand, if America finds its hardcore Protestant roots, it can stand strong against that pressure.
I’ve been saying for some years that the biggest mistake the Islamists made was impatience. Demographically, between their fecundity and the sterility of Western culture, Muslims were headed towards societal tipping points all over Europe within a couple of decades. Had they set tight, they could have completed what they started in the Middle Ages and finally lost at the Gates of Vienna: the Islamist takeover of Europe.
But they couldn’t wait. They took down the Twin Towers, bombed trains and subways, blew up school children, exploded night clubs, killed Van Goghs, harassed women, and engaged in myriad other acts that made Westerners aware of their presence as something more than just enshrouded women and cheap labor. It’s still unclear whether the West has the will to fight, but the West certainly got timely notice to have the ability to fight. While the Islamists are certainly spoiling for the fight and, indeed, glory in the bloodshed, there’s no doubt that war brings the risk of loss and — as I said — the Islamists could have avoided this risk altogether if they had just waited until critical mass, when the West would have lost before the fight began.
For the last few months, I’ve going around saying exactly the same thing about the American Left, which took its victory, a victory that spread across many states but that never really exceeded more than a few percentage points in any given area, and decided that it had a sweeping mandate. And what a mandate: destroy the economy, socialize medicine, and make American supine before all of the world’s worst actors. Dennis Prager has had the same thought, and wrote a really great article on the subject:
There may be a major silver lining for conservatives and for America’s future thanks to the foreign and domestic policies of President Obama and the Democrat-controlled House and Senate: For the first time in their lives, millions of Americans are coming to understand the left.
It is difficult to overstate how important this is. For decades, the left has largely controlled the news media, the arts, the universities and the entertainment media. And vast numbers of Americans have imbibed these leftist messages and the leftist critiques of conservatives. What these Americans have never been able to do is to see what the left would actually do if in power.
1. The left wants America to abandon its defining commitment to individualism and replace it with a European-style nanny, or welfare, state. At most Americans’ core is an abiding belief that we are supposed to take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors, and not rely on the state to do so.
2. The left is naive about evil. Most Americans deemed Communism evil; the left ridiculed President Ronald Reagan for calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and often undermined the fight against the Communist world. So, too, the left is naive about Islamic terror and undermines the fight against it.
The smoking gun was the nearly universal denial by the left that his Islamic beliefs had anything to do with Maj. Nidal Hasan’s mass murder of fellow servicemen at Fort Hood. One of many examples was this reaction to the shootings by Evan Thomas, Editor at Large at Newsweek: “I think he’s probably just a nut case. But with that label (Muslim) attached to him, it will get the right wing going…”
3. The left is more interested in redistributing wealth than in creating it. This should have been as obvious to Americans as the brightness of the sun. Finally, Americans are coming to realize that the left’s goal is now, as it always has been, equality, not prosperity.
4. The left is far more interested in power than the right is. This, too, should have been self-evident, but finally, people are realizing that those who are preoccupied with creating an ever-expanding state are obviously far more interested in amassing power than those who want a smaller state.
5. The left is preoccupied with America being loved, and in pursuit of that end, compromises some of America’s core values. Examples abound here, too. To cite a few: the Obama administration’s neglect of those in Iran risking their lives for freedom in that tyranny; the administration’s refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan leader visited Washington, lest the president annoy China’s dictators; the American government siding with Hugo Chavez against the Honduran government, which had legally removed a Chavez clone from the Honduran presidency; and the president’s obsequious apologies for America wherever he goes.
Dennis Prager gives global examples of the ideology powering the Left. Phyllis Schlafly gives particular examples of those people closest to the president. And a scarier bunch of rogues and ideologues you’ve never seen. So far, the media has been working overtime to keep ordinary Americans from learning too much about these pillars of academe, now all0wed to put their theories into effect in the real world, but word is leaking out. And in keeping with Prager’s theory about knowledge giving the American people power, the Left’s inability to keep its worst actors and ideas off the national stage may prove to be America’s greatest strength.
Had Europe been able to vote last November’s presidential elections, Obama would have swept into office with a vote above 95%. Over there, they loved him. He was the antithesis of the ugly American who rode into town and imposed law. This was a guy who would be kind and gentle, and extremely deferential to their European-ish-ness.
Today, though, a year after the election, all is not good in Europe-land. Sensible people are realizing that Obama is leaving them exposed to some pretty nasty dangers centered in Russia and Iran. And the European Left, just like the Left at home, is deeply disappointed that he is both less radical and less effective than their dream politician:
For a host of reasons however, President Obama is increasingly viewed by his natural allies in Europe- the left-wing intelligentsia in particular – as a mounting disappointment, whether it is dithering over attending the climate change summit in Copenhagen, supposedly ignoring the momentous changes within the European Union, making little progress with the Middle East peace process, adopting protectionist trade policies, a lack of commitment to human rights, the list goes on.
Significantly, there have even been some attacks from the left on Obama’s failure of leadership on Afghanistan. No matter how hard Obama tries to appease his supporters in Europe by presenting American power in a softer light, the president of the United States is still going to let down those who backed him most strongly.
It’s bad enough being berated from across the Atlantic by the President of France for being a big softy and failing to stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat. But being taken to task by European intellectuals is even more humbling for a US leader who attaches just as much importance to how he is perceived on the world stage, as he does to domestic popularity.
Even worse, unlike Bush, who tried to boss Europe around, Obama is ignoring Europe:
I was particularly struck by an interesting Guardian piece written by arch Euro-federalist historian Timothy Garton Ash last month, which actually claimed that while Obama “is the most European president” there has ever been, he is also “the least European president of the United States that there has ever been” – less European even than George W. Bush, according to the Oxford don. As Garton Ash eloquently put it:
“Unlike during the cold war, the United States is not focused on Europe and does not regard helping to build a strong, united Europe as being among its own vital interests. Europeans may continue to feel that Obama is “one of us”; and in one way he is, but in another way he isn’t – and he certainly won’t do our work for us. If we Europeans want to get our act together, we must get our act together.”
You can read more about Europe’s Obama woes here.
As Sadie, who sent me this link, said, “President Bush might not have been loved in Europe, but at least he was feared by his enemies and strategic competitors and respected by US allies.”
My friend Don Quixote also had an interesting comment when I told him about the above article: “Couldn’t they have seen this coming? It was so obvious during the campaign?” Because he’s been a lifelong conservative, and is anything but an ideologue, Don Quixote truly doesn’t understand what was going on. I do understanding. For Europe to have seen “this” (meaning the Obama meltdown) coming, would have meant that Europeans would actually have had to think about Obama, his ideas and his values. For knee-jerk liberals (and even Europe’s self-styled intellectuals are knee-jerk in their liberalism), thought has nothing to do with it. We anoint someone, and we worship at their liberal altar. There is no intelletualization involved.
I know that liberalism means faith first, thought after, because I always voted for and championed Democrats without having the slightest idea what they stood for. It was enough that I was a Democrat and so were they. What horrified me, and what I ran from for so many years was the fact that, when I actually thought about an issue, I invariably came out on the conservative side of the equation. This was untenable and, rather than re-examining my politics, I stopped thinking.
Well, I’m thinking now and I hope that other Americans — presented with the spectacle of the worst unemployment in 26 years (and Obama owns this economy now), with rising aggression from Russia and Iran, with political correctness run amok, and with a guy who giggles at the unemployed and does friendly shout-outs before addressing the death and injury of dozens under his command — might start thinking themselves and stop hiding from all the horrible fallacies inherent in modern liberalism.
I want to recommend two interesting things to read as a prelude to my core post. The first read comes from a reliably good source: Rusty Shackleford. Over at The Jawa Report, he looks at the banality that exists side by side with the evil that is North Carolina’s recently arrested home grown jihadists. It makes for chilling read.
The second good read, again about Islam, comes, most surprisingly, from a normally terrible source on the subject: The New York Times. There, in today’s book review pages, you will find an honest and admiring review of Christopher Caldwell’s carefully researched Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, about the Islamisization of Europe. I hope the paper’s editors read their own book reviews. They might learn something from this one, especially when it comes to the dangers of stifling discourse through a rancid combination of politically correct thought and fear of Muslims.
As to both of these, I’d like to make a larger point. During Passover, Jews ask the question “Why is this night different from all other nights?” At this juncture in history, it’s very important to ask a similar question: “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”
Why, when religious Jewish women cover their heads, do I shrug and say, “Well, that’s their religion,” while when more and more Muslim women show up with heads covered, I get a frisson of fear? The answer is not that I’m a philo-Semite or an Islamaphobe (although both statements are probably true). Instead, it lies in the fact that the Jews do not have as their goal a world in which all women are forced to wear head coverings. Even if Jews reached critical mass in America, they would not do what is done in countries in which Muslims have reached critical mass: throw acid in the faces of or rape or murder women who don’t conform to their religious dress codes.
Why, when Hispanics sneak into this country illegally am I merely upset about their breaking the law and sucking up resources, while even legal Muslim immigrants frighten me? The answer is not that I have an unreasoning fear of Muslims, while I’m willing to give Hispanics a pass. There’s nothing unreasoning in my fear of an immigrant group that does not desire to assimilate into American society but wants, instead, to destroy it. Nor is there anything unreasoning in my fear of an immigrant group that, when it achieves critical mass, engages in religiously driven violence against the others in the society. Nor are either of those fears fantasies. The point of my reference to the Caldwell books is that those fears, which are still abstract in America, are fact in Europe.
Why, when certain immigrants cling to their unique cultures, do I think it’s charming or irrelevant, but when Muslims cling to their unique cultures it frightens me? Could it be because Muslim doctors refuse to wash their hands, either because women aren’t supposed to show their arms or because none of them are supposed to touch (although I’m sure Mohammed meant “imbibe”) alcohol — a problem becoming increasingly chronic in the British health care system? Or could it be because Muslim grocery store clerks, rather than getting a more religiously appropriate job, sue that they won’t have to handle ham, which is an American cultural staple? Or could it be because Muslim culture is deeply misoygynistic, something that reveals itself in honor killings all over the globe — not to mention a desire to make women, all women, not just Muslim women, wear tents. I’m sure you have examples in stored in your own memory banks so I won’t go on. The point is that this is a religion that, once it enteres a country, wants things done it’s own way. Rather than seeking to benefit from the host country’s good qualities, it seeks to destroy those things and subordinate everything to Islam.
Thinking about it, to call Islam just a religion is almost a misnomer. Islam is a way of life and politics that transcends mere worship. When Islam takes over, every facet of life is subject to its dictates. One is either a slave to Allah, or a slave to Allah’s worshippers. Islam does not accept pluralism. Things that are quaint or bizarre in other religions are deeply threatening when the religion is Islam.
Keep yourself educated. Hate-filled rhetoric is counterproductive. But fact-filled rhetoric is something one hopes will help innoculate us against the deadly scourge of an Islamic takeover — because Islam is not a religion like any other.
I just finished reading a very bad book, although I owe it thanks for leading me down some interesting intellectual paths. The book is Derek Wilson’s Charlemagne, which came my way through my book club (and it’s because of the book club that I actually finished a book I normally would swiftly have abandoned). The book’s failure lies, not in its subject matter (natch), but in the writing, which is confused, facile and unable to support its fundamental principle that Charlemagne is the founder of modern Europe.
In fact, as one of the book club members pointed out, Charlemagne was the founder of of something much more important than some amorphous “Europe”. Instead, Charlemagne inaugurated Christendom.
But for Charlemagne’s commitment to creating a federation of formerly Pagan territories owing allegiance to the Papal view of Christianity, the world as we know it would never have existed. He stood as the bulwark to the pressures if Islam from the south and west, and anarchy (in the form of Vikings, Saxons, Magyars and Bulgars to the north and east). Further, since anarchy is explosive, but not lasting, there’s no doubt but that the Islamic pressure, which matched Charlemagne in single-minded devotion to a religious idea, which have been the ultimate victor. The book’s author managed not to touch upon any of this.
The book’s failures aside, it did get me thinking about today’s religious wars and, more specifically, about the nature of religious wars. As you know, I was raised in a completely liberal environment (San Francisco and Berkeley in the 60s, 70s and 80s). Although I’ve conquered that liberalism intellectually, I still have some nice knee-jerk reactions left in me. One of those kicked in when I read about Charlemagne systematically overthrowing pagan people (Celts to the west, Saxons to the north, etc.), and forcing Christianity on them. It just seem to be so wrong that some imperialistic Christian bully would deprive those sweet tree-worshippers of their indigenous religious beliefs. After all, aren’t we all supposed to worship Mother Gaia now?
Fortunately, reason kicked in. Those tree-worshippers were anything but sweet. For almost all of them, human sacrifice was the name of the game. Whether drawing “volunteers” from their own ranks or committing mass slaughter against their enemies, these tree-hugger pagans engaged in brutish practices that we now pretend never existed.
We can get some glimpse into these practices, however, by looking at what marauding, Christianizing Europeans found when they met Native Americans on our shores. Contrary to what is taught in public schools, many of the native tribes were not merely benign hunters and gatherers, or noble, PC warriors. Instead, as Danny Lemieux explained in an email correspondence with me:
I love reading about the history of that period [early European contact with North America], especially given the involvement of my French forebears. A wonderful read on the subject that links that past to our present is Phil Marchand’s book Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America. It’s an easy, entertaining and highly thoughtful book. A good movie on that period is the Canadian Black Robe, which came out right about the time of “Dances with Wolves” but was xxxx-times better. Another excellent (but very long read) is the very authoritative Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson, probably the leading authority on the French & Indian War.
The descriptions of what the Indians used to do to other tribes and captives are horrific. They went well beyond cannibalism, and included forcing captured women to roast their babies live on spits before making them eat them, flaying prisoners alive, and consuming the flesh from living prisoners (the likely origin of a particularly bloody scene in Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear, warning about where the eco-environmental Gaia movement is taking us.) Ghost Empire has a very interesting and sad discourse about how the Hurons tried to change their ways and modernize themselves in the original settlement of Detroit under the leadership of the black robes.
As Danny’s last sentence indicates, many of the Indians were grateful for an alternative to the horrors of their own religious and tribal practices. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that a significant number of the pagans that Charlemagne subdued were equally grateful for a respite from the horrific demands of the own societies. After all, as Danny explains:
A forgotten trait of the Carthaginians is that they were worshippers of Baal (another name for Satan). Carthage had a large bronze statue of Baal with outstretched hands under which a large fire was built during an annual ritual. First-born babies were placed on those hands and roasted alive. The Carthaginians were loathed by other Mediterranean cultures (including the Jews). When the Romans finally defeated them, they found piles and piles of children’s bones.
As Chesterton put it, the Romans were pagans but they understood the difference between good and evil. They made sure no structure of Carthage remained standing. Shortly afterwards, Roman Society degenerated and was on its last legs until revitalized by Christianity. For the Druids, it was the Burning Man and other ceremonies. Ditto for the Aztecs. Might I suggest that we have a similar phenomenon at work in our society today, or am I being too un-PC harsh?
And then, suddenly, there was Christianity. I’m not blind to the nuances of Christianity. I understand them intellectually, although they do not resonate with me spiritually. In that way, I’m pretty much like the smart pagan after his first lecture from the missionary.
The one thing, though, that all pagans understood right away, whether or not they grasped the greater subtleties of Christianity, was the fact that the days of human sacrifice were over. What came through loud and clear was that Christ had offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. You no longer needed to slaughter your babies, burn your youth, or behead all of your enemies to placate the invisible forces that dominated the world. Instead, through the miracle of transubstantiation, you only needed to drink the wine and eat the wafer. What a blessed relief!
Of course, the acceptance of Christ and the abandonment of pagan brutalities did not end the horrors of life in the pre-modern era. (Although our periodic convulsions, whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, China or elsewhere remind us that man is always prone to horror.) Life in Europe then was undoubtedly Hobbesian: “The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Whether for the benefit of the state or the church, people who ran afoul of the authorities were routinely burned, flayed, beheaded, dislimbed, disemboweled, blinded, etc. Nevertheless, under Christianity’s civilizing rule, it was still better than before. Christianity also paved the way to the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor and the civil rights movement. It was a slow process, but it was definitely a process.
So here I am, coming out in favor of an imperial urge to spread religion. Why, then, am I so opposed to Islam’s same impulse? The answer is simple. All religions are not created equal. Just as Christianity was superior to the paganism that preceded it, so too is it superior to the aggressive Islamism that now seeks to dominate.
Christianity increased the rights of man, and this is true even in times when men’s rights were limited almost beyond our modern conception. Sharia Islam aims to decrease the rights of man, and destroy the rights of women. We would trade the intellectual freedom and equality that are the gifts of Charlemagne’s Christendom and receive, instead, a stifling doctrinal world, with feudal practices. It’s a bad deal and we are right to resist it. No PC thoughts should pollute our will.
Sometimes, you have to be poised on the edge of the volcano to realize the threat you face. Until you get there, you might just think you’re climbing a beautiful mountainside. Bruce Bawer, a gay man living in Europe, reached the edge of the volcano and wrote While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Now, Paul Lucre, a gay American man of Puerto Rican descent also realizes he’s not just on the side of a pretty European hill but, instead, is gazing down into a boiling cauldron of Islamist anger, this time in Rotterdam.
What’s fascinating to watch is Lucre’s struggle to understand why the combination of Islam and European welfare, instead of leading to happy Muslims, leads to angry Islamists. He finds it bizarre that the Muslims continue to live in segregated communities, instead of realizing that, from the Muslim point of view, they’ve achieved jizya without any effort: the non-believing community voluntarily works and pays to support the (in Muslim minds) Muslim overlords.
Nevertheless, as the victim of a physical anti-Gay attack, Lucre is beginning to realize that the European model is not working. Perhaps European anti-immigration forces are not necessarily White Supremacists and perhaps the American notion of a melting pot is a good thing:
This [the chaos and Muslim violence in Rotterdam] angers working-class white friends of mine, who admire Geert Wilders. These aren’t jack-booted, shaved-head racists — these are people who have given me shelter. These are people who have taken me, an openly gay Hispanic, all over the Netherlands as their guest so that I may learn more about this country I adore. They’re what we call “good people” back in Brooklyn, and they’re responding to Wilders.
My sympathy for the young Dutch Muslims then only goes so far. My parents were born in Puerto Rico. My mother insisted we not speak Spanish at home, and she refused to enroll us in bilingual education programs. We embraced American values in return for a share of the American dream. That Muslim immigrants here don’t aspire to become Dutch — and live according to Dutch rules and values — shocks me.
People are starting to figure things out. Their Leftist hypotheses don’t work in the reality. True, Europe chugged along for decades under a socialist model, but it was able to do so only because (a) a strong dollar and strong American military supported it and (b) it had a primarily homogeneous population. Take away those two factors, and you have a looming disaster. The only question remaining is whether a sufficient number of Europeans will be able to stare down into the volcano’s heart and then have the wisdom and ability to pull away from that abyss.
Hat tip: Bald-Headed Geek
Britain, which has shown a certain lack of spine when it comes to the Islamists on its shores, nevertheless stood up to Al Qaeda representative Abu Qatata. Britain, however, is no longer a sovereign nation. It handed over its sovereignty to the EU, which gets the final say in matters. And the EU thinks it was grossly unfair to prevent Qatada from getting his money:
European judges today overturned an order freezing the assets of Abu Qatada, the radical Muslim cleric, on the ground that its implementation breached his fundamental rights.
The ruling in the European Court of Justice is a further blow to the Government’s counter terror policies after the Law Lords’ judgment that suspects held under control orders must be given details of the allegations against them.
Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden’s “spiritual ambassador” in Europe, was added to a United Nations sanctions blacklist freezing the funds of associates of Bin Laden, al-Qaeda or the Taleban.
The ruling today means that Qatada, currently being held in a top security prison pending deportation, will regain access to his accounts and any other assets in two months and ten days if the British Government does not appeal.
Even if one assumes the hypothetical that Abu Qatada is merely a British resident with bad ideas, and that Britain shouldn’t have deprived him of his money, I find it tragic that Britain is no longer a sovereign nation. Despite her stupidity in some things (the slave trade, letting her stubbornness lose America, siding with the Arabs in the Middle East, imperialism), she still had a shining moment as a light among nations (abandoning the slave trade, advancing the Enlightenment, holding out against Napoleonic and Nazi hegemony), and it hurts to see her as nothing more than a European vassal state.
UPDATE: By the way, will there still be an England when the women are swathed in mandatory Burkhas or when a Belgian bureaucrat sits at 10 Downing Street?
To the extent that this video may be the production of a pro-Muslim organization, it could also be seen as a boast, not a warning. Regardless of the intentions behind it, those of us who cherish a Judeo-Christian, Western civilization must sit up and take notice — although I’m not sure that, in the end, there’s anything we can do anymore. Taking notice may just mean sitting there and watching the end of the world as we know it.
Charles, at LGF, is concerned that the “extreme right white supremacist” (his phrase) BNP party in England is gaining political ground. If you check out the party’s blog, though, racial purity a la the Nazis or the KKK is not part of the party’s platform. As far as I can tell, it wants to close Britain’s open borders, back off from European union control, and clamp down on out-of-control multiculturalism. All of these seem like reasonable positions. After all, under current British policies, traditional Britain is truly vanishing. The place is ground zero for antisemitism, its Muslim influx is unending, Britain is ceding all political control to the EU, and the nation is effectively committing “we hate ourselves” suicide. Wanting to turn back that tide doesn’t strike me as being the same as being Neo-Nazis: desiring a totalitarian state dedicated to world domination and the eradication and enslavement of all inferior races.
Charles’ fight with the European far right is totally valid insofar as he is fighting the true neo-Nazis. The problem seems to me to be the Orwellian one, with the degradation of language pushing people into positions that do not match the facts on the ground.
You see, thanks to the Left, words no longer mean what they used to mean, but the change is often so gradual, we don’t realize it. (That happens without politics, too, with the very old Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane in London morphing into the word “bedlam.”)
Because the Left consciously controls language (“man caused disasters” anyone?), things can get confusing. The easiest example is the way in which Nazis are defined. As their full name establishes (“National SOCIALISTS”), the Nazis were a socialist (i.e., Leftist) political organization. Nowadays, however, they are routinely referred to on the Left as “rightist” so as to conflate them with the Left’s political enemies. In fact, like the Left, they were statists. Unlike the average Lefty, however, they added to their garden-variety belief in state control a poisonous measure of racial hatred.
Linguistically, things are very confusing in Europe, where even the “rightist” political parties (say, the Tories) are to the Left of the American middle. Add to that the fact that, in Europe, there are both genuine neo-Nazis, who want to replicate the Nazis vision of racial purity, AND are concerned moderates who don’t like the political control being ceded to multicultural pro-Islamists, and you’ve got word soup.
For that reason, it would be useful if people who use the phrase “far right” with regard to European politics would define that term. Technically, “far right,” if we’re measuring it against “far left,” simply means less government, not more. After all, if Marxist-style Leftism is the party that seeks total government control, than its opposite — “Rightism” — must be veering into pure anarchy, without any government control at all. That’s clearly not what Charles means when he speaks of the Right, though.
I think that, by saying “far right,” Charles is stating that the BNP party is racist, a la the Nazis or the KKK (and with visions of lynchings and ovens dancing in its political brain). The website, however, indicates that it is only “racist” as the Left would define it, meaning anyone who doesn’t like Obama or is concerned about sharia.
Given the abuse language undergoes daily, the way in which words are folded, spindled and mutilated in ways that take them in the opposite direction from their original meanings, it’s entire possible that a lot of the intellectual fights on the conservative side arise because people THINK they mean the same thing, but they actually don’t. As Dennis Prager says, “I prefer clarity to agreement,” and as I’ve noted listening to his show, clarity often brings agreement.
I loath the stench of truly racists politics (e.g., KKK and Adolf worship blended with a desire to have a strong government making these deadly dreams a reality). However, I do think there needs to be a political home for Europeans who are worried about the Islamification of their nations. And as long as governments in Europe hew Left (even those that are called right), I suspect that the governments and their media outlets are going to tar all anti-Sharia people with the same ugly “far Right” brush.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
UPDATE: Two comments I want to bring up to the post itself:
UPDATE II: From Mike Devx, who actually did the research:
Well, I downloaded the BNP’s Constitution. If you want to take a look it’s at the link below on their site. It’s formatted to be assembled as a booklet, so you have to jump around from page to page on the web…
Section 2 – Membership – is clearly racial. ’Nuff said, for me. I’ve got no use for a political party that restricts its membership based on race solely to Caucasians of variously described “British descent”.
Seeking to preserve culture is one thing. You can recognize that your beloved culture is disappearing and resolve to fight to retain it. That’s legitimate, especially when all of your current political leadership in power is doing nothing, at best, to preserve it. But these guys have clearly defined a racial component within their own Constitution by allowing only native Caucasian British to be members of the party.
Their activities and statements ceased to be overtly racist at about 2001, it appears. Having seen the Stealth Candidate Obama succeed at his own deception of an entire country – well, enough of a deception to fool 53% of the people – it’s entirely possible that the BNP remains as virulently racist as their relatively distant past would indicate.
I can’t say I agree with Poosh’s virulent hatred of the <b>current</b> BNP. Speaking for myself, though, I’ve seen enough to indicate that I would never associate myself with them in any form whatsoever.
Hopefully the BNP is not the only organized party in Great Britain to actively promote and value their traditional culture and values. If so… then where else are the British people to turn? They certainly won’t be willing to simply surrender…
That’s good enough for me too. But I’ll go back to my original point, which is that the mainstream political parties have closed the doors on moderate Brits who are opposed to the fundamental change in the nature of English, from a Christian country tied to traditional British values, to a multiculturalist society with a rapidly growing, and increasingly vocal and powerful, extreme Islamist population. These people are going to flock to the BNP, despite its ugly racist ideology, because it’s the only game in town.
Even my kids have figured out that the best negotiation is one in which you negotiate in good will from a position of strength. Barack Obama probably agrees with this principle, but it’s becoming obvious that he’s misidentified the source of America’s strength in any negotiation. When presidents from prior administrations (excepting Carter, of course) entered into dealings with the Europeans, they understood that the strength that formed the basis for any negotiation was the American economy, American military power, and America’s reputation as world leader.
Our narcissist in chief, however, went to Europe firmly believing and loudly expressing that America’s traditional virtues on the national scene are problems, rather than sources of strength. Within minutes of setting foot on European soil, he apologized for our capitalism, our military, and our attitude, effectively neutralizing all three power points for effective American negotiation.
In place of America’s bases for negotiation strength (wealth, military power and status), he offered only one: himself. He is the change Europe has been waiting for. Thus, he proclaimed that “I would like to think that with my election, we’re starting to see some restoration of America’s standing in the world.”
It couldn’t be more plain that, in his own mind, he, BHusseinO, is the personification of what little remains of American strength, and his mere existence is the point from which all negotations start. To this Ivy League educated man (that is, a man who had America handed to him on a silver plated, affirmative action platter), everything else about America is irrelevant or even embarrassing.
Unsurprisingly for anyone not caught up in BHusseinO’s narcissistic delusions of grandeur, the Europeans have spit in Obama’s eye. Even Obama himself may slowly be facing up to a reality from which a lifetime in affirmative action America shielded him, has had to concede that maybe, just maybe, his perfect wonderfulness is not sufficient to change the world: “We cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK.” (That statement was in response to the fact that the Muslim world has not forgiven American its many sins simply because America elected a former Muslim as president.)
Incidentally, speaking of former Muslim, Charles Johnson shows a picture of Bush apparently bowing to the Saudi King. In fact, he’s not. He’s getting a medal put around his neck. As someone who has watched a billion Olympic medal award ceremonies it’s normal for the recipient, if his head is higher than the bestower (or if he feels that his head is higher) to bow his head so that the medal can easily be slipped on. This is not a bow of subservience, as Obama performed. It is a utilitarian gesture.
I know nothing about US Admiral James Stavridis. I don’t know whether he attained his high rank because he’s a brilliant military strategist or just another political hack. I don’t know if he believes in a strong America, or believes America’s best defense is to role over and play dead. Indeed, as of this minute, I only know two things about him: (1) He is the person Obama appointed as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and (2) Obama deeply offended America’s NATO allies by his unilateral decision to appoint Stavridis to the position:
US Admiral James Stavridis is expected to take command of NATO forces soon. Obama’s decision to appoint him has astounded many in Europe, but the nominee brings important experience to the Afghanistan mission.
For Europeans at least, President Barack Obama’s choice for the new NATO commander comes as a surprise.
On Wednesday afternoon, e-mails circulating between Brussels and Berlin suggesting that, within the course of the day, Washington would name General James N. Mattis as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The commander is in charge of all US troops in Europe as well as NATO deployments, including the ISAF security force in Afghanistan.
Traditionally, the United States appoints the supreme commander and the Europeans pick the NATO secretary general. The decision to appoint Mattis appeared to be a logical one. He has long carried the title “Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.”
In the end, though, Mattis didn’t get the appointment. Instead, Defense Minister Robert Gates announced that Admiral James Stavridis would be nominated for the highly prestigious position. The US Senate and the NATO Council must approve his nomination, but it appears likely he will get through. Gates said Stavridis was “probably one of the best senior military officers” in the US.
In Brussels, though, many felt bluffed. “America treats this like it’s purely an American matter — and they didn’t even give any hints about the appointment,” one NATO employee said. “The conspiratorial manner of the personnel search was almost reminiscent of the way the pope is selected,” Stefani Weiss, a NATO expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation in Brussels, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
If Stavridis is truly the best person for American interests, so be it — America’s security is certainly my priority.
But didn’t the Obama promise us that, once he was President, he would heal all those myriad psychic wounds Bush had allegedly opened in relations between America and its existing allies in the rest of the world? So far, Obama has offended the Brits, offended Israel, offended Brazil, offended Poland and the Czech Republic, and now he’s offending Europe en masse. Remind me again how this is supposed to recalibrate America’s standing in the world?
UPDATE: I just got word from one of my friends who’s in the know that Admiral Stavridis is probably one of the good guys (not to mention being a blogger himself). My friend gave me some links to support this conclusion:
As I said to my friend in response to this information, I’m glad to hear Stavidris is one of the good guys. That means that Obama probably did put America’s interests first, even if it meant offending the Europeans. Still, it’s clear that he could have handled the matter more tactfully.
UPDATE II: Add France to the list of countires the radiant One was going to charm but, instead, managed to offend.
For three years, a single British hospital that was obsessed with following government health care mandates to the letter, succeeded only in killing 1,200 patients unnecessarily:
Twelve NHS trusts are being investigated following a damning report which today slammed ‘appalling’ care at a single hospital.
Hundreds of patients may have died after bosses at Staffordshire General focused on Government targets rather than safety, the Healthcare Commission said.
A ‘shocking’ catalogue of failures over a three-year period were disclosed after an investigation found hospital managers had sought to save millions by adopting foundation status.
Among the findings of yesterday’s report were:
● receptionists carrying out initial checks on emergency patients
● too few consultants, with junior doctors left in charge overnight
● two clinical decision units used as ‘dumping grounds’ for A&E patients to avoid breaching four-hour waiting targets, one of which had no staff
● nurses so ill-trained they turned off heart monitors because they didn’t understand them
● delays in operations, with some patients having surgery cancelled four days in a row and left without food, drink or medication
● vital equipment missing or not working
● doubling of life-threatening C diff infection rates, which were kept from the hospital board and the public
● a target of £10 million savings which was met at the expense of 150 posts, including nurses
● more debate by the board about becoming a foundation trust than about patient safety
Investigators were inundated with complaints from patients and relatives, the most it had ever received, including Julie Bailey, 47, who set up a campaign group following the death of her mother in November 2007 at the hospital in Stafford.
She was so concerned about her 86-year-old mother Bella that she and her relatives slept in a chair at her hospital bedside for eight weeks.
‘What we saw in those eight weeks will haunt us for the rest of our lives’ she said.
Thirsty patients drank out of flower vases, while others were screaming in pain and falling out of bed.
Director of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said ‘Government targets have directly impaired safe clinical practice and money and greed for Foundation Trust benefits has taken priority over patient’s lives.’
As you can see, the above story does not relate one of those increasingly frequent situations in which the British government decided to withhold treatment or tests from a single class of patients because the patients are more expense than they are worth. The government wasn’t directly involved here at all.
The problem, instead, was that a hospital, rather than seeing patients at its customers, saw the government as its patron, and redirected its energies accordingly. And because there was no connection between the patients and the hospital in terms of complaints (that is, the hospital didn’t care about the patients, who were not paying the bills themselves, nor did they have a direct relationship with an insurance company that wanted to keep their custom), the hospital managed to go for years without having to react to criticism or complaints. It was only when patients and their families were able to achieve a critical mass that made a noise loud enough to spur the government to action that the hospital’s conduct finally came under scrutiny.
It’s a reminder to us all that the market speaks loudly and quickly. The government may ultimately have the loudest voice of all, but getting it to speak is often an agonizing task for a consumer who is deprived of a true marketplace and, instead, is utterly dependent on the government to give him a voice.
The quest for ever greater bureaucratic efficiency, especially in a Europe without borders, means that Britain’s local Big Brother database is probably going to be released to the whole of Europe:
Britons could find themselves forced to prove they are innocent of crimes abroad after the Government agreed to EU-wide access to its ‘Big Brother’ databases.
All 26 other member countries will be able to check against sensitive personal information held on driver registration, DNA and fingerprint computer systems.
Where there is a match, a suspect-could be extradited to face trial abroad or – at the least – be forced to explain their movements or provide an alibi.
I’m sure Brits are comforted to know that the EU is keeping an eye on things.