Dienstag, Februar 27, 2007

Why You Shouldn't Believe Journalists...

There are those who venerate certain journalists, like Edward R. Murrows and Ernie Pyle.

There is even a decent analysis here that covers why journalists are considered to be heroes:

People have always been curious about the flaws and eccentricities of their neighbors. In the fifteenth century, the earliest journalists, the professional news-ballad writers, quickly figured out what the public wanted to hear and buy: verses about executions, battles, coronations, crimes, violence, scandal, witches, oddities and magic. This was tabloid journalism in its infancy. The rhyming newswriters originated the image of the newsmongering journalist who gives the public what it wants no matter how ugly or coarse the story and its presentation may be.

On the big screen, the image of the journalist was magnified and put in noisy motion. Newspaper stories were filled with adventure, mystery and romance. They were tough urban modern talkies. The journalists were immediately defined on-screen by brashness and cunning.

By the early 1920s, audiences already knew that reporters were involved in some kind of story, no matter how bizarre or melodromatic. They accepted this as a matter of course.

The reporter as detective is probably one of the more popular categories, since both the journalist and the detective are curious inquirers trying to solve a mystery, whether it be a crime or a complex untold story.

The undisputed journalist hero is the war correspondent... During the 1940s, the war correspondent became a national folk hero. ... Some war correspondents were a variation on the oldest stereotype in newspaper films - the crime reporter. ... The war reporter is the perfect hero, whose daily work involved patriotism, danger, violence and drama. The war correspondant is where the action is, and a whole nation holds its breath while they risk their lives overseas to get the story back to the home front.

There is no denying that people like Murrows and Pyle were heros in this sense: they were out there, did the walk and deserved their fame.

But now we find out that there are frauds out there as well. George Polk, for instance. Here is someone who shaped not merely the beginnings of modern American journalism, but also has a prize named after him. Who remains venerated as a hero.

But was and is a fraud. He embellished his career and lied about it: he wasn't who he claimed to be, and indeed never could have been. His actual, real military career was above average, but that wasn't good enough: he made himself into the top ace of the Pacific Theatre of the time (11 kills) and that made him a war hero.

But no one in the field of journalism bothered to actually fact-check someone like this: it took until this month, almost 60 years later, for someone to find out the man was a fraud.

What is interesting is that Seymour Hersh won not one, but two George Polk Awards.

And it is also interesting that Al Gore was a military war correspondent.

Goes a long way to explaining why Gore thinks he invented the internet and thinks that global warming is real: the need for a heel to be a hero.

Which just goes to underscore the point: you shouldn't believe journalists. If they can't even get the facts right - George Polk built his reputation on being a war hero that he wasn't - about their heros, why should anyone - anyone - believe that they can get their facts right on anything more complex than the wedding list of two lawyers on Long Island?

From the guys who keep on getting it wrong, another fine idea...


Today's FT column by Gideon Rachman is a case example of what is wrong with at least parts of the MSM.

First of all: he misses the whole damn point.

Second, he is so appallingly smug and smarmy - not ingratiating himself with the powers that be, perhaps, but most certainly ingratiating himself with the MSM - that I felt like washing my hands after reading it to get the pomade out.

Where to start?

First, as I said, he misses the whole damn point: he calls out what I would call the boogeyman argument, that the same politicians who called Saddam Hussein's bluff - have we forgotten that we know it was a bluff precisely because that bluff was called? - are now calling for the world to call Iran's bluff as well.

What he does is to bluntly state, without bluntly stating, that the causus belli in Iraq didn't exist and all those who saw it were blind (implying, of course, that he himself is among the sighted): the problem is that this is not merely a wonderfully imaginative interpretation of history, but also factually wrong: the causus belli, for those who have forgotten, was Iraqi failure to comply with the ceasefire as brokered by the UN. The failure wasn't forgetting to dot an i and cross a t, but rather was the deliberate policy of SH to mislead the UN and its proxies in order to continue to pursue actions that he had pledged to give up. The causus belli wasn't stockpiled of weapons of mass destruction, but rather the fact - the fact, Mr. Rachman - that Iraq was found in violation of its own ceasefire accords.

He does imply this: he does admit that the boy who cried "Wolf" was actually vindicated at the end of the day. But his analogy dies right there: those recognizing the causus belli were not the boy, but rather the men of the village who kept on coming when "Wolf" was cried, and decided, in variance with Aesop's fable, that it was time to kill the wolf rather than listen to the boy, who in this case is the MSM.

Mr. Rachman is, however, so smugly sure of his "facts" that he cannot concieve that the threat posed by Iran is anything more than a bluff. If we knew that Iran was bluffing, then there is no need to actively counter what Iran is doing, but could simply write it off as the usual pathetic posturing by a failing nation-state, the rhetoric a tad over the top, but hey, we all know how volatile Middle-Eastern rhetoric can be. So we don't need to take the Iranians seriously: they're just a bunch of wogs, after all (wog in the sense of "wily oriental gentlemen" and not in the pejorative).

What Rachman fails to understand is that the "failure" in Iraq is first and foremost a failure of the Iraqis. The failure (or does he only use the word "catastrophe" or "disaster" or whatever word the MSM defeatists are using today?) in Iraq had nothing to do with the causus belli: it has everything to do with the fact - I do realize how little the MSM is interested in facts - that Iraq was a failed state before even the first Gulf War, and Iraq thereafter was a causus belli waiting to happen, with massive financial and logistic support for terror groups - proven, not a neo-con fantasy - and with the despotic leader of that country, SH, dedicating significant assets to the development of the weapons that he claimed he never had.

But what is particularly galling is this flip and smarmy comment:

In a notably smug editorial written on the eve of the war with Iraq, the editors of The Weekly Standard wrote: "The war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction." Well, indeed. And they ended with a flourish: "History and reality are about to weigh in and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts." Well, the verdict's coming in, chaps – and it is not looking good.

In most professions, a record of failure counts against you. Architects whose buildings fall down and doctors who maim their patients tend to suffer some sort of consequence. The same rules should apply to people who advocate disastrous wars. Take a look at the people who are arguing for an attack on Iran, consider their records – and run a mile in the opposite direction.

Well, first of all, Mr. Rachman: history's verdict won't be coming in according to your timetable. Iraq isn't over yet - despite the desperate desires of the left and the MSM (did I just repeat myself?) - and history's verdict won't be in for the next 20 years, if even by then. Only a rather smug newspaperman could believe that history's verdict will be delivered by a deadline of his own devising and according to his own desires.

Second of all, the editors of The Weekly Standard weren't being smug - not that they can't be at times - but rather I find it interesting that Mr. Rachman apparently can't tell the difference between notable smugness and being honest: the editors in that editiorial didn't say that they would be vindicated and that they would be right: the war itself clarified that (and as it turned out, clarity was stranger than anyone thought at the time, Mr. Rachman's selective memory notwithstanding.). History and reality did weigh in. But they're not done yet. Sorry, old chap.

I was originally going to call this entry "Smug and Smarmy" but decided not to: this entry title is a bit better.

You see, the MSM still keeps on getting it wrong: oddly enough, there is no discussion about the abilities and facts, but all sorts of rather silly speculation about intent. If journalists knew anything about intelligence - sigh - then they would know that knowing intents is, in the immortal words of Rumsfeld, one of the known unknowables. Abilities and assets are the facts of the world: that the West was fooled by the interesting epistomological challenge of the confusion, under a despot, between reality and perception is an interesting footnote, but one that is ultimately futile to disprove without the benefit of perfect hindsight (which the French still believe can be taught in advance). If your enemy believes that they have certain capabilities - under pain of hideous death if they don't - then it behooves any serious thinker to take their existence as a given: if your enemy is bluffing, then it is, to put it bluntly, silly that he also bluffs himself into believing that he has WMD when there "really" weren't any.

And as for that last bit of snide advice: I dare say the record of failed journalism is more than a tad longer. And yes, journalists suffer no sort of consequence for being appalling wrong, catastrophically wrong - Dan Rather may be out of his job, but he is certainly not suffering - and there is a basic rule to public discourse that applies here as well:

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Take a good look at the people who are arguing that Iran is bluffing and that the Imams are just mouthing rhetoric, consider their records - and throw away the newspaper.

Freitag, Februar 23, 2007


There is so much to say. And Blogger forget to post this two days ago...

First of all you have the Democrats in their "Geworfenheit" (hard to translate German word: means "thrownness", in the Heideggerian sense) towards the death of their party. Embracing defeat as a way of life condemns them to irrelevance. They are on the record of showing their support not for the troops, but for the failure of the troops. Spin any way you want to, but the blood is on their hands. Pelosi and Murtha are a catastrophe for the party: the Democrats have failed miserably to understand why they lost the last presidential election, believing instead that their electoral success last November had everything to do with them and nothing to do with the abject failure of the Republicans to get their message across (of course, the Republicans do operate under the handicap of having their policies and words spun by the media against them...).

Why is it a catastrophe for the Dems? Because it is picking the wrong fight. Fighting a sitting president, regardless of his ratings, over executive rights - that which are constitutionally apportionated to the President - is a mistake, as Newt Gingrich found out when he tried to shut down the government. What the democrats have done is to attack the moral right of the President, under the system of government in the US, to wage war with the approval of Congress, but without voting instead to revoke the right of the President to conduct war, as was given to him by the Congress. In other words, it's a weasel act. The Democrats in this act showed their craven indebtedness to the antiwar left: an antiwar left that has everything to do with the old antiwar left and nothing to do with the world today.

The Democrats, fundamenally, appear intent on forcing a constitutional crisis on the President's war-making ability based not on an actual constitutional crisis, but rather on the fact that the war is unpopular and that the reasons that the US went to war were, in the eyes of the Democrats, mistaken. They weren't mistaken: review the facts, not the myth.

Further, what happens to the Democrats when the surge is successful, as all signs show it being? They've gone on public record of actively disapproving of something that is going to work, and that will backfire in their faces.

Second, you have the sad and tired Europeans completely clueless about what they are doing to themselves. They are not merely actively trading with a country that wants them thrown down and trampled on, but they are even subsidizing it because of the failure of their economies to adapt the the flattening of the world. No one is apparently interested in the open and deliberate evil perpetrated by the Iranian government - the ruckus raised by the left because of the execution of homosexuals and other "deviants" is overwhelming in its absence - because it would mean agreeing with Bush. Iran is arming Bosnian Muslims, but let's not talk about that because it would mean agreeing with Bush. And rather than talking the facts, the only talk from the left is their stencil of how this is *just* like the run-up to Iraq.

No talk of the suffering of the Iranians under their theocratic overlords, the systematic repression of human nature and the systematic denial of human rights in the name of a medieval belief structure - sorry, I'm insulting the Arab medievalists, it's pre-medieval, barbaric - no talk of anything remotely like the facts, the reality of the situation.

And thirdly, the tragedy of our times is its ahistoricity, its lack of thinking how history provides us with references that helps to explain today, that the errors of the past illuminate the errors of today. The global warming alarmists tell us to do what they say and a future world will be better: that is exactly what the eugenics movement did as well. The Germans were particularly good at eugenics, weeding their genetic base by 10 mn before the end of WW2; before they went that far, though, they had the massiv support of many scientists and institutions like the Ford Foundation and other god-damned do-gooders.

There is a quote from HL Mencken that is applicable: The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.

An inconvenient truth...

This is an inconvenient truth. But not the one you may be thinking of. The explanation is here. Read at the peril of losing your sacred cows.

More later, have been down with bronchitis the last few days...and Blogger was supposed to have posted this two days ago...

Mittwoch, Februar 14, 2007


This article by Ruth Dudley Edwards in the British newspaper The Telegraph reminded me of the occasional epiphany that I've had.

I spent the early 1980s in Germany working on a doctorate in Philosophy. I was more or less a liberal at that point in time, and even voted for Carter as the lesser of two evils (I couldn't pardon Ford for having pardoned Nixon...). Even as late at 1978 I remember agreeing with one of the Germans that I worked with that socialism was a historical necessity and must ultimately triumph.

I ran into rampant anti-Americanism almost from day 1, with my landlady of the time swearing that Reagan's election meant that There Would Be War, with a multitude (I remember counting 27 at one point) leftist groups at the University in Freiburg demanding our attention and commitment (hah!) in fighting imperialism, and with many professors more than willing to use their pulpit to bully the students into party-line group-think. I was a tad older than the others, and what little maturity that brought me helped.

I realized, as does Ruth Edwards, that intelligence and cleverness does not protect one from being incredibly foolish. My years in Germany have led me to the conclusion that the one thing Germany really needs - critical thought, critical in the sense that Kant meant it - is severely lacking, since critical thought is at best uncomfortable and at worst downright subversive to existing hypocrisies and dearly beloved shibboleths of oh-so-rational liberal society.

But back to Ms. Edwards:

When I left the public service, researching and writing the biography of the publisher Victor Gollancz, creator of the Left Book Club, and then a subsequent history of The Economist, made me realise how many clever people are fools. The Left were push-overs for communist propaganda, but they could at least recognise fascism as evil: the establishment found the whole notion of evil distasteful. I read enough Times and Economist leaders written by Oxbridge double-firsts welcoming the encouraging signs of statesmanship emanating from Herr Hitler to disillusion me forever about the wisdom of the commentariat: the default mindset is still to resist the notion that evil exists and that when bad people say bad things, they may just mean them.

As the 1930s establishment wrote off Churchill as a madman because, obviously, Hitler didn't mean what he said in Mein Kampf, so today we are still assured that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is exaggerating when he says he wants to exterminate all Jews. But does anyone really believe that Abu Hamza was kidding when he said: "We ask Allah to make us shaheed (martyrs); our immediate duty now is to correct our own homeland?"

This is one aspect of the problem: that the liberal mind-set has enormous difficulties with the concept of evil and absolutely enormous faith - rather unbased, I would say - in the abilities of thinkers to be both clever and right.

The problem ultimately lies in a much older problem, the one that Plato discussed in his The Sophist: the problem of sophistry masquerading as wisdom, of ability and skill without knowledge. The Sophist is the one who makes a business out of "doing" wisdom, who basically survives by being clever, clever in the 20th century British sense. For whatever worth the original sense of the word may have had - of someone who would bring his students to wisdom - it became corrupted by those who didn't bother to learn the true bringing of wisdom, but rather with merely the trappings of the same. In other words, those who were as good as the proper philosophers in spinning a good story to make a point, but not really caring about whether the point was real or not, whether it brought wisdom, knowledge, or was merely nicely spun. The difference between Schein and Sein, if you will.

Fundamentally, the Sophists held a relativistic view of knowledge and truth, that these were not absolutes.

Sound familiar? Of course it does.

Now, more people than you might think are actually interested in finding the truth behind things. It's a fundamental of human nature to do so, but we hairless flat-faced, lop-tailed walking monkeys are easily distracted by things like MTV and daily soaps and the like. In our modern, liberal society there are basically three paths to finding truth: religion, politics and critical analysis.

Religion is easy: you start to believe in a set of postulates that is largely a clear and rational structure for understanding the world. That might be something as deeply mystical as the Holy Trinity and catholic catechisms, the postulate of original sin and Jesus' sacrifice to save man from his own tendency to evil, or it might be something as cynical and abusive of "the Jews are the reason that we are poor and can't do anything".  When I say religion is easy, I'm not being coy or denigrating, but rather I recognize the fact that for many with neither the time and patience for philosophical review, religion may be the only way of making sense out of the world or reaching an understanding of the meaning of what happens to them individually.

Politics is a tad more difficult, as you have the secular world with all of its discrepancies and contradictions. Political theory tends to the practical; political belief systems can be so deeply intertwined with religion that there can be no meaningful seperation. Politics is harder, but you have the company of your peers, such as they are, and marching for your political beliefs is something that people have been doing for ages.

Critical analysis is the hard part, where the chaff is seperated from the wheat. The problem with critical analysis is that it is perforce done in splendid isolation and if not accompanied by massive self-doubt then is largely useless: that is part of the reason why so much of what is called "critical" thought is not that at all, but rather the parroting of what professors long to believe about themselves.

Now I've gotton off-topic a tad.

Getting back to the article per ut supra, Ms. Edwards quite correctly points out the fundamental problem facing liberal society, liberal in the sense that most western societies understand themselves to be so. The problem is fundamental because as long as western societies continues to be uncritical about themselves, they will continue to be open to exploitation: the mistaken belief that if you are nice to others, others will be nice to you; the mistaken belief that people saying terrible things don't really mean what they say; the mistaken belief that evil is something that religion dreamed up to tell a frightening story to small children, but we as adults of course know that there is no such thing as the Devil.

That there is no such thing as evil.

Let's remember the Christian story of the Devil: an angel who rebelled against God. He seduced Eve to give to Adam the fruit of knowledge; his goal is to destroy the works of God, to negate what God has planned. He is relativistic, being neither omnipotent nor omniscient, relying on minions to do his deeds. His first and most fundamental deed is to bring Sin to man: not merely the temptation to do something that you know is wrong, but to then actually do it.

So, you're all rolling your eyes and thinking "great, another nutter".

I'd prefer to think of the Devil as metaphor, of the driving force that leads people to do things that they right well know they shouldn't: that can be as simple as a vegetarian deciding that they are damn well going to sit down to a good steak because they crave it so to the delusions of the murderer that his or her victims were all the time asking to be killed.

In that case, the Devil is hard at work in western society, and those who embrace barbarism, with its simple truths, black-and-white world structure, drastic punishments and lust for power, are doing, metaphorically speaking, the work of the Devil.

As Ms. Edwards says, quite correctly, we're not dealing with a clash of civilizations, we're dealing with civilization vs. barbarism.

Dienstag, Februar 13, 2007

Just to make one thing perfectly clear...

I refered in my last point to certain politicians in Europe.

This article refers to who I meant.

It's odd how sometimes words spoken in error can be the truth, and that one's protestations that something else was meant end up underscoring that you really did mean what you said, n'est pas?

The only real consolation in this whole disgusting situation is that the bastard will be out of office soon. That's really the only positive aspect of French politics right now: that regardless of who wins the election in France, Chirac will be out of office.

And will go down in history as the man who masterminded the complete and total failure of European security policies at the begin of the 21st century.

The Smoking Gun in Iran ...

Here's two links to the story.
First of all the Daily Telegraph, one of the larger Austrian newspapers, reports that Austrian weapons - in this case the Steyr-Männlicher HS .50 sniper rifle - that were sold to Iran - despite protests of the US and the UK - have surfaced in Iraq. Not one, not two, but over 100 have been seized in raids over the last 24 hours.

Second, who in Austria gave the OK to export these weapons to Iran?

Ernst Strasser, Ursula Plassnik and Wolfgang Schüssel: the former Interior Minister, Foreign Minister and Chancellor of Austria. They gave their approval for the deal despite the protests of the US and the UK. The deal was approved on 12 Nov 2004. The US ambassador to Austria then, Lyons Brown, requested in January 2005 that the sale not go through. But who actually arranged the deal?

Gert Rene Polli, the head of the Austrian BVT (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung, Agency for Protection of the Constitution and Fighting Terrorism) arranged the deal.

So we're not looking at some behind-the-scenes back-room briefcase-of-cash kind of deal, but an official transaction between the government of Austria and the government of Iran.

Thanks, guys.

We're not talking about a sporting rifle, or some standard-issue buy-it-on-the-market deal. It fires a 12.7mm x 99mm round, i.e. .50 cal. It's considered to be a high-precision weapon, fired single-round from am manually-operated rotating bolt with a massive muzzle brake that reduces recoil significantly. It's considered to be one of the better sniper rifles out there.

The weapons in question, according to the Daily Telegraph article, cost Iran 10'000 pounds sterling as part of the deal: that's €15'000 Euros or closer to $20'000 plus per rifle. Per rifle.

Oddly enough, according to the Daily Telegraph. the advertised price in €5'019.

Within 45 days of the sale, the first American in Iraq was shot with such a weapon.

Gee, Austrian government, thanks for that help. We know you didn't want to really get involved, but do you really have to sell the Iranians the weapons that they now are using either directly or indirectly to kill Americans?

This is, literally, the smoking gun. Literally.

What else do people want to know? Here we have Iran, giving weapons it bought from Austria for internal purposes, arming the Iraqis or, alternatively, operating itself directly in Iraq, and there is no doubt, so need to persuade: this is the smoking gun.

So now what happens? Will the Europeans finally realize that dealing with Iran is not in their best interests? That Iran is doing nothing more than lying to them in their face?

Or maybe this will finally make an impact?

According to this report:

"In practice . . . the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone."


/rant mode ON

Sorry for the vernacular, but what a bunch of fucking goddamn idiots. How fucking naive do you have to be?

Iran has been playing everyone for a fool. Well, now is the time to for the goddamned Europeans to fucking get off their sorry, tired asses and get their fucking shit together.

The Smoking Gun is out there, everyone: what you you now going to fucking do about it?????

Do nothing, and you categorically, permanently lose the damn right to bitch about whatever the US and Israel does.

Oh, the historians are gonna love this. You can win a fucking Pulitzer by documenting what a bunch of fucking dickheads you had running Europe when Iran got the bomb and millions died. Make a film about it: win the goddamn Oscar for documentaries.

/rant mode OFF

Sorry for the language. I'm not sorry for the sentiments expressed therein.

Montag, Februar 12, 2007

Stranger than fiction...

This is, to put it mildly, an ... interesting development.

What is going on here?

My take on it is that we have two factors going on here, both predicated on errors of judgement and understanding.

On the one hand you have Putin, ex-KGB, steeped in the lore of the cold war and cold-blooded spook. He sees the existential threat to his Mother Russia not in fundamental Muslims, but rather the corrupting hand of the West. He sees what happened his beloved country when the Soviets collapsed, and never wants that to happen again. He is fighting for the soul of a more modern Russia, with the theological purity of a former Communist.

On the other hand you have Iran and Adhmajidan, steeped in the lore of the Iranian Revolution and hot-blooded theological revolutionary. He sees the existential threat to control of Iran by the Mullahs, not in terms of being defeated at the polls, but more fundamentally through the corrupting hand of the West. He fears the demographic surge of his own people, knowing full well that Iran has wasted its oil wealth in destabilization and futile weapons programs in the desperate search for local hegemony. He is fighting for the soul of a bound people, with the theological purity of a true believer.

Remember, of course, that Moscow has been a major supplier to the Mullahs in Iran: what is now going on is nothing less, it seems, than Realpolitik written large.

We all know the Realpolitik saying in the Middle East: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

In this case, I think we see the development of a new unholy alliance based on the ancient Russian fears of the triump of the West, coupled with the centuries-old Muslim resentment of the technology and political fervor of the West.

The goal of their collusion is nothing less than the driving out of the US from the Middle East and allowing Iran to establish local hegemony over the region in order to save itself from the coming collapse as the Iranians squander their future; the reward for Putin is nothing less than having out-played the Americans.

Dangerous times indeed.

Putin's rhetoric is that of the SovUnion during the highlight of his time in eastern Germany, of condemning the West due to its ability to undermine decades of Soviet military development by fielding magic weapons that the Soviets simply could not counter (guided antitank weapons on fast helicopters, cluster bombs with anti-armor submunitions, etc), and now Putin sees the US putting in antiballistic missiles in Poland and possibly elsewhere in eastern Europe. His solution is to use MARV, something not allowed under the old START (manoueverable warheads) and to ratchet up the cold-war bluster.

To paraphrase the Who: Welcome to the New World, same as the Old World.


Brigitte Mohnhaupt is going to walk out of jail in March.

She's a former member of the Red Army Fraction, the home-grown terrorists that murdered, robbed and lied their way into the hearts of the German left in the 1970s and 1980s.

She's going to be released because a court of law (Oberlandesgericht Stuttgart) has decided that she no longer represents a danger to society.

A danger to society.

She has abandoned her ways. She spent 24 years in jail for her part in the kidnapping and murder of the president of the German Employer's Association, Hans-Martin Schleyer. She was also involved in the murder of Siegfried Buback, one of the head German state prosecutors. In July of 1977 she fired the shots that murdered the head of the Dresden Bank. She tried to use a rocket attack on the office building of the German state prosecutors, and she tried to kill a US general in 1981 using an anti-tank weapon on his car.

She was arrested when she was getting weapons from a hidden depot.

The same court sentenced her to 5 times life and 15 years to boot. On the 27th of March she will have served the minimum time that such a sentence carries.

According to the court, there is no sign that she might start up her terrorist activities once again.

However, and this is what makes the decision of the court irresponsible, she shows no regret in having kidnapped, killed and maimed her victims.

None. Not one word.

Failing to take that into account is highly irresponsible of the court: the victims are the ones who here apparently have no voice in the matter. By failing to take into account this critical matter, the court ignores the fact that they are now giving freedom to someone who denied that to her victims; that they are now giving freedom to someone who took lives without regret and remorse; that they are now giving freedom to someone who does not deserve it.

And she does not deserve it: merely sitting out the sentence isn't enough. Regret and apologies to the victims are absolutely necessary for any sort of recognition that she deserves to be let out early.

This is irresponsible: condemning someone to 5 life sentences plus 15 years and then letting her out because she "no longer presents a danger to society". This is a perversion of justice: justice is not merely preventing dangers to society, but more fundamentally such prison sentences must act as a deterrent.

But in Germany life in jail means 15 years.


The American Dream

This is an interesting, albeit brief, note from Samir Al Mukrin in the Al Yuam newspaper from Saudia Arabia.

He has his point down pat: what is the American Dream?

Let me quote him:

For those now living in America or those who wish to do so, when you arrive in America and start facing life there, you can accomplish "the American dream," which means that in terms of life's goals and personal ambition, you can achieve your heart's desire. If you wish to achieve stability, start a family and live a quiet life, you can.  

If you want to have fun and enjoy a meaningless, aimless life, you can. If you want to be a criminal and establish that sort of lifestyle, you can. If you want to become rich and live an upscale lifestyle, you can. If you want to enter politics and aspire to a position of influence, you can. All options are open, and all you have to do is decide and put in the necessary effort and be committed to it.  

Moreover, you'll have no difficulty and need feel no shame in justifying any of this.

The man has understood what America is all about, something that those living there sometimes don't. Especially Democrats. The Anti-Americans are those who want the nanny state, who want government control of key businesses (Hi, Hillary), who want to make others live the way that they would then dictate because they know so much better (HAH!). For them the American Dream is a travesty, something to be rejected, to be fundamentally denied and made impossible.

The America Dream is exquisitely simple and can be summed up as this:

Being yourself and doing what you want to.

Nothing more, nothing less. But it also includes this corrolary:

But no one will give it to you: if you want it, you have to do it.

That's it.

This is why over more that 200 years that America has flourished: this is what is so subversive, so seductive, so damningly successful that even those abroad who publicly rant and rave about the evils of America almost invariably drop everything if they get a Green Card.

The real tragedy of the American Dream is that you can only do it in America. Everywhere else (almost) you can't live the American Dream: you have to live the dream of the Dear Leader, or the dream of the Imam, or the dream of the local warlord, or the dream of the tribal elders. All of these societal constraints, the pressures of societies desperately trying to hold together ancient value systems in a changing world, are detrimentall to the fundamental human striving to make things better for one's self and for one's children, with the hope that their lives will be better.

Only in America.

Donnerstag, Februar 08, 2007

War And Popularity

There is a common misperception of the US, not merely abroad, but in the US as well. This sentiment seems to be anchored in wishful thinking, rather than in historical reality or serious political thought that refers to existing law.

The US is not first and foremost a democracy. It never was, never has been, and is not, nor will it in all likelihood become such.

The US is first and foremost a republic.

One of the most amazing and profound collection of political thought is the Federalist Papers. If you want to understand how the US works, and have not read the Federalist Papers, then you do not know how the US works. Period.

Now, I'm not going to go into a long exegesis on the Federalist Papers. You can find them here.

Those who believe in popularity contests can go on believing that the US is first and foremost a democracy, which at the end of the day is nothing more than that.

The Federalist Papers are nothing less than a blueprint of how to think about modern representative government as we know it. They're not perfectly written - they're more than 200 years old at this point, what do you expect? - but their fundamental concerns are exactly the concerns that any serious student of politics needs to consider.

But getting back to the point: popularity contests aren't what the executive branch and the judiciary are all about (Congress, especially the House, more so...), but rather are tasked with running the country.

Which is why all the folks who are soooo concerned about popularity ratings should read this.

Wars in the US have never been about popularity, about getting elected or anything remotely like that. If anything, Presidents who ask permission from Congress to go to war invariably become less and less popular during any of their wars.

War is not about popularity: it is a contest of wills. Bowing to pressure from the street would eviscerate the war making ability of the US.

But then again, that's what those organizing street demonstrations want. Groups like MoveOn and ANSWER are largely hard-core socialist revolutionary groups, and their rage is not the rage of righteous anger, but rather the rage of the dispossesed and failure.

Mittwoch, Februar 07, 2007

The European Problem

In today's FT (link here) there is an interview with the French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin.

The real problem in Europe is France.


Because the French cannot let go of trying to bamboozle the rest of Europe into going along with what are ultimately rather destructive French policies. France, as the Fifth Republic exists today, is a body politic that is severely handicapped by institutionalized corruption, coupled with an elite that truly believes in itself and is incapable of learning (after all, they have been imbued with the highest of political training in their elite schools, and if they needed to learn it, they were taught it there) not merely from their own mistakes, but also the mistakes of others.

Here is a key part of the interview:

... I think that economic patriotism is the very foundation of a European vision. Of course, with economic patriotism, I'm talking about European economic patriotism. There are many areas, where to be effective, we must unite our forces. In energy, we must aim to create global champions.

Let me translate that: European economic patriotism = European Protectionism.


FT: What about the obstacles in Brussels that block this economic patriotism?

DdV: We need to think about a better definition of the role of Europe towards its own member states. Europe must pay more attention to protecting its citizens in a globalised world. China protects the Chinese, America protects the Americans, I don't see why Europe should not protect the Europeans. We must correct the excessively liberal vision we have of Europe, which should defend liberty and markets, but also Europeans consumers and producers, just as others do. The idea we have sometimes of a competition pushed to extremes does not correspond to the vision I have of Europe.

As soon as alliances can be formed between big companies within Europe on a friendly basis, which is very important, as once we start to have unfriendly operations between European states we will enter into a dangerous logic of rivalries and competition that are risky. On the other hand, when Europe can gain big global powerhouses in strategic areas, that is part of my vision of how Europe should weigh more on the international scene. What happens in this case. We defend our jobs, our growth, our social model. Otherwise, we are weakening our growth, which is already below where it should be, and suffering consequences of unemployment, when we should be creating conditions of employment and fighting on equal terms with the other big partners of the world. There is a small revolution needed in Europe over the idea we have on the role of Europe and the weapons we give ourselves to act. We should have the means to impose a reciprocity. There's no reason we should always be giving without ever receiving.

So, Europe must pay attention not to improve the lot of its citizens, but rather to protect them from globalization. China protects the Chinese? America the Americans?

This is nothing less than a naked call for European protectionism, bordering on mercantilism. The excessively liberal vision - he almost sounds like a Republican, n'est pas? - isn't the liberalism of politics, but rather a key word for socialists now across the board: he wants to regain state control over the markets. And believe me, competition pushed to the extremes certainly isn't what you have in Europe right now: competition has improved, but it is despte the best efforts, not because of them.

Alliances formed between big companies within Europe on a "friendly basis" is nothing more than double-speak for the establishment of monopolies (the French energy companies are meant here: they've been buying up European competitors right and left, reducing competition and therefore reducing consumer benefit...); unfriendly operations, of course, refer to foreign companies' attempts to buy French companies. Never! Perish the thought! Once the French - excuse me, the Europeans - have companies big enough to actually be global players, then it should start throwing their weight around.

The small revolution that he calls for is nothing less than an abdication to the oh-so-superior French ways of doing things. Reciprocity? The French don't want reciprocity, they want "What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable".

FT: Why do French people think they are the losers in globalisation?

DdV: It is the feeling that the world is changing so fast. Today we have an acceleration of exchanges, a modification of the balance of power, the appearance of new countries on the world stage, so we are constantly having to defend our jobs, growth and activity, as we are subjected to this process of globalisation. The vision sometimes given is that nothing can stop this process, which means spending power falls to make room for everyone in the world. The competencies of countries are being restricted as more and more countries impose themselves in the areas of new technologies and products, creating more competition.

But my conviction is that we have shown in France that we are capable of defending our economic model, providing we take the right measures, like our poles of competitiveness and our agency for industrial innovation. I think French people realise that we are not without resources. We can score points. We have world leaders in numerous sectors, as in oil, electricity, in many other areas of services, like Air France or our carmakers. The French have the impression that for too long Europe only wanted to open up to the world without ever defending its interests in the world.

Slow down, I want to get off: the French don't want to play the dynamic world game any more, but rather are calling for statism, for control over economic growth - not merely their own, but across the world, ensuring that the poor stay where they are - and ultimately over political developments. France is obviously seeing its old ways of manipulating its older colonies and business partners eroded, and wants to prevent anyone else from coming along.

The interview goes on, ending with some rather appalling ideas about what is to be done in Iraq:

I see there is a big debate in the UK and US on how to get out of this. The answer must be a gradual and global response. We must act on every level to be effective. The first level must be an interior mobilisation in Iraq and a taking of responsibility internally in Iraq. We must start a national reconciliation, which means giving a place to everyone, which is not the case now. Everyone must participate in the recovery and reconciliation of Iraq. The second stage is on a regional level. All interests in the region must have an interest in the stability of Iraq. Is that the case at the moment? I am not sure. So we need to reinforce dialogue with the neighbouring states of Iraq, and we must create conditions for these states to have an interest in peace for Iraq and the region. We can clearly see today that lots of countries have ulterior motives and are getting an advantage from the instability in Iraq and the region. So we must act. Each of our countries has its own power or influence, which must be put in common, but there must be an objective.

The man is an unqualified idiot. Sorry: he is qualified, he is a product of the French system for producing elites.

What makes the ideas appalling is that there is absolutely nothing new there: this is exactly what the US has been doing in Iraq. But he is absolutely blind to the fact - the fact - that neither Syria nor Iran want Iraq to be a success: that is, right now, the core of the problem. He calls for blind activism - "So we must act." - but fails utterly to recognize that the only way that Syria or Iran would agree to a peaceful Iraq is for Iraq to basically be divided up between the two of them. Thinking otherwise would be complete ignorance of the historical political and social ties amongst the demographic groups of the area.

It *sounds* all so reasonable. It's the way that things would be worked out in modern-day Europe. But it's not the way the real world works.

Oddly enough, he does say one thing I agree with:

If we want to recreate a dynamic of peace in the Middle East, we must start from reality. The reality is that there is something wrong in Iraq. There are symbols that are stronger than anything else.

The only problem is that he has been listening to John Kerry (or is it the other way around?) and insists that the troops must leave as soon as possible.

The European problem that I refer to isn't that Europe can't compete internationally: it can. It builds great planes, make great machine tools, great cars, great wine, great cultural products as well. Its peoples have solid, good educations, in many cases world-class, and I would even venture to say that if Europeans really set their minds to do things, they can achieve amazing results.

The European problem is that you have a France in Europe that believes that only centralized state control can yield the results needed. This is without a doubt the least sensible way of achieving goals, since the decision-makers in such a system will make errors that will prevent the goals from being achieved.

The European problem is that they have yet to understand the 21st century and its challenges. The Europeans need to be liberated from the strait jacket of the EU and its tentacles of control and manipulation, liberated from a stultifying bureaucracy of technocrats whose only real goal is to protect a status quo that hasn't been viable since the early 1960s.

Dienstag, Februar 06, 2007

Iraq is our future...

Christopher Hitchens in the Slate hits it on the head: the developments in Iraq are, effectively, our future:

Iraq was in our future. The specter, not just of a failed state, but of a failed society, was already before us in what we saw from the consequences of sanctions and the consequences of aggressive Sunni fascism at the center of the state. Nobody has ever even tried to make a case for doing nothing about Iraq: Even those who foresaw sectarian strife were going by a road map that was already valid and had been traveled before. Thus it seems to me quite futile to be arguing about whether to blame the Iraqis—or indeed whether to blame the coalition. Until recently, no Iraqi was allowed to have any opinion about the future of his or her country. How long did we imagine that such a status quo would have remained "stable"? Charles Krauthammer might be wrong about his specific historical comparisons, but he is quite right to lay stress on the point that—absent a complete evacuation of Iraq and the region—there was a rendezvous in Mesopotamia that could not have been averted. A general refusal to confront this fact is actively revealed by the use of the passive voice.

Frequent readers will recognize one of my theses: that of Iraq asa failed state, which Hitchens takes one further step: the failed society.

But let me take that one further step: Iraq, which many saw in the 1970s and 1980s as the most secular nation in the region, is indicative of the true nature of the Middle East. The price we are paying today is the failure of the West over the last 50 years to bring the Middle East into the modern age. The colonial period failed because it was repressive and patronising; the post-colonial period failed because of the meddling of both of the superpowers and European powers who felt that they could at least act like they were superpowers in the region (Hi, France!).

This is what many critics of what the US did in the Middle East - the toppling of SH in Iraq - really fail to understand. First, the status quo was not only unstable, but also heading to explosion. SH's invasion of Kuwait wasn't merely a function of his own ego and a power grab, but also indicative of the instability of the region as a whole. The states of the Middle East, with few exceptions, are artificial constructs, with the lines literally drawn in the sand based not on some concept of nationhood, but rather to serve the interests of those who drew the lines.

France was interested in having wealthy nations in continuous conflict with their neighbors in order to first and foremost sell weapons and secondly to act as the colonial overseer without the necessary comittment.

England was interested in crippled nations, nations that would have difficulty running themselves and therefore be susceptible to the continuation of the British bureacravy running their former colonies, not the least in order to dominate the local markets in the interest of British companies.

The USSR was of course interested in client states and blocking the influence of the US in the region: client states are useful tools for proxy wars (Libyan financing of terror, Egyptian advisors in Sudan...) and the ability to turn off oil to the West would have been the greatest soft weapon of the Soviet political arsenal, useful to force major concessions from the West in terms of the Soviet's ability to acquire technology and reduce any threat from the West.

The US interests were to block the Soviets in order to ensure enough political stability that would ensure the flow of oil to the West and Japan. Democracy would be nice, but the US had no trouble aligning itself with whoever was in charge, as long as they provided for stability.

I'm simplifying, of course: in each case reality is vastly more nuanced.

But the fundamental fact remains and cannot be overlooked: the societies of the Middle East were, are and will continue to be failed societies until they are fixed, or, more exactly, until they start functioning. The murdering, as Krauthammer points out, isn't a function of anything anymore except the promulgation of hate, the creation of rage that the various factions want to try to harness for their own interests:

...when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.

It infantilizes Arabs. It demonizes Americans. It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.

The real threat is that you now have those who are more than willing to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers and vastly more so the lives of Iraqis for their own political gains. It may end up being less a case of their having chosen civil war and much more the case that the mere idea of a successful society in Iraq is such anathema to the vested interests of their neighbors, the former colonists and the remnants of the Soviet Union that we now call Russia.

That is why Iraq is our future: if Iraq fails, nothing else will get better. Egypt will start to self-destruct under the weight of demographics, the cutting of US funds in the wake of a failed Iraq, and the certain attacks by the Moslem Brotherhood and all of its incarnations upon the tottering civil society of a country on the border of collapse. Jordan is vulnerable to a concentrated terror campaign that targets the Royal Family and pushes the country, also barely coping with demographic growth, into chaos; I don't think that anything needs to be said of the fascist state in Syria and the incessant meddlings of the Iranians in all of these countries, especially Lebanon.

The joker in the deck, of course, is the US and Israel. The US policy in the Middle East changed in the wake of Sep 11, from accepting and supporting the status quo to attacking the fundamental weaknesses based on a considered analysis of the root causes of the failed states and societies of the Middle East. The problem isn't the people in the Middle East: the problem is the failure of their societies to bridge the gap between the 12th and 21st centuries. Israel serves as the constant, painful, outrageous reminder of what a successful society in the Middle East could look like. Not the religious nature of the Israeli state, but rather in the flourishing society and economy of Israel, which with its mere 6 mn outperforms, basically, the entire rest of the Middle East combined (once you take away the oil).

Iraq is our future in more ways then one. Failure in Iraq means that the nihilists and the manipulators will have won; failure in Iraq means that failed societies won't even try to transcend themselves.

The failure of the Europeans in Iraq - the sacrificing of fundamental principles for bribery and the abject sacrifice of national interests on the altar of progressivism and populism - speaks also volumes about what failing in Iraq will mean for them: not the imagined tweaking of the giant's nose, but rather the abdication of their ability to actually have a positive contribution to the development of the Middle East. Here I really do have to agree with the German leftist songwriter Biermann:

Aus meiner Sicht war es ein Fehler, daß Deutschland sich im Jahre 2003 nicht auf die Seite der Amerikaner und Engländer gestellt hat im Streit um den Irak. Ich bin sogar der Meinung, daß der französische Präsident Chirac und sein kleiner deutscher Kumpel, der falsche Pazifist und Bundeskanzler Schröder, eine große Mitschuld am Irakkrieg der Amerikaner und Briten gegen das Terror-Regime von Saddam Hussein haben. Der Krieg vor drei Jahren hätte womöglich vermieden werden können, weil der Diktator abgetreten wäre, hätte der Westen mit einer Zunge gesprochen, mit einer Faust gedroht. Ja, ich denke, daß die Deutschen und die Franzosen schuld am Schicksal dieses Monumental-Lumpen sind. Weil sie durch ihre Appeasement-Politik Saddam Hussein suggerierten, er käme mal wieder elegant davon mit seinen totalitären Tricks, blieb der Diktator stur. Saddam rechnete nicht damit, daß Bush und Blair so naiv sein würden und einen Krieg wagen ohne ihre wichtigsten Verbündeten Chirac und Schröder. Seine Phantasie reichte nicht aus, sich vorzustellen, daß er aus seinen parfümierten Kitschpalästen in ein stinkendes Dreckloch, dann in einen Eisenkäfig vor Gericht und an den Galgen geraten könnte.

My fast & dirty translation:

As far as I am concerned, it was a mistake that Germany did not join the US and England in 2003 in the conflict with Iraq. I am convinced that the French President Chirac and his little German buddy, the false pacifist and Chancellor Schroeder, carry heavy responsibility for the war of the US and the UK against the terror-regime of Saddam Hussein. The war that started three years ago could well have been avoided and the dictator removed, had the West spoken with a single tongue and threatened with a single fist. Yes, I do think that the Germans and the French are guilty of what will happen to this monumental bad guy- Through their appeasement policies they suggested to Saddam Hussein that he could elegantly get away with one of his totalitarian tricks and as a result he remained stubborn. Saddam did not take into account that Bush and Blair would be so naive and go to war without their most important allies, Chirac and Schroeder. His fantasy couldn't concieve of the the possibility that his perfumed, kitschy palaces would transform first into a stinking hole, then into an iron cage before a court of law to end on the gallows.

Now the question is: will Iraq go down as a failure of the West? Will the people of Iraq triumph against all odds?

It is perverse that the French and the German need Iraq to fail in order not themselves to be failures. They had a choice between acquiescing to the war - that is, after all, the only thing that was asked - and actively opposing it.

Ultimately the success in Iraq will mean the diminishing of the EU in world politics.

But that's not the future the US chose: it is the future that the Europeans chose.

Sonntag, Februar 04, 2007

The End of the Global Warming Consensus

Thanks to Drudge, found this series of reports in the National Post, Canada.

As is pounded on us every day, the following appears to be the basis for the theory of Global Warming:

Step One Scientists for decades have postulated that increases in carbon dioxide and other gases could lead to a greenhouse effect.

Step Two As if on cue, the temperature rose over the course of the 20th century while greenhouse gases proliferated due to human activities.

Step Three No other mechanism explains the warming. Without another candidate, greenhouses gases necessarily became the cause.

These three steps are driving the Global Warming scare mongering business - and don't think it isn't one - and the nature of the movement, such as it is, has less to do with science in its classic, enlightened form and has everything to do with a romanticist approach to the world.

First this one: the Global Warming "scientists" are not statistically competent to draw the conclusions that they do. Mann's Hockey Stick has been thoroughly refuted, and it is a severe indictment that those involved in propagating the meme of Global Warming have failed to use proper statistical methodology, insisting instead that while their methodology may not be perfect, the conclusions are right. Step Two is therefore not only not proven, but highly unlikely. And the real, academic problem? In this case, the peer review process failed: those reviewing professional articles that relied on faulty statistics failed to see that the statistics were faulty because they themselves were not competent, statistically speaking. Hence the notion that proper, peer-reviewed science is sound fails miserably when the peer group itself fails.

Second this article: is warming bad? Or, more exactly, how do we deal with it to our benefit?

Third, this article: the political misuse of science, or more exactly, the politicisation of science such that only the conclusions count, the evidence and the empirical world be damned.

Fourth, this article: that the Global Warming true believers are willfully ignoring contradictory evidence.

Fifth, this article: what little consensus actually existed was destroyed by the political hijacking of the meme. We all know that the IPCC report differs significantly from the scientists' consensus on the empirical evidence, manipulating results and ignoring qualifiers to influence public opinion.

Sixth, this article: the models, those complex approximations of reality that the Global Warming "experts" use? The original models were bad, failing to take into account key exogenous ( i.e. from outside) effects because of model bias, i.e. the need to "prove" that humans were the cause. What was ignored? The fact that our sun is what the astronomers call "mildly variable" and hence solar influx is not a constant, but rather variable over time.

Seventh, this article: given the sixth point, what happens when you include the solar influx? Exactly the opposite of what the modellers so fervently believe and hope: global cooling, not global warming.

Eigth, this article: the fundamental failure of the core science of Global Warming, the models. Put bluntly, the climate is so complex that modelling it is sort of like trying to draw microprocessor components to scale using a blackboard and chalk. There is no way that the models are going to be what they claim to be: a scientific approximation of complex reality.

Ninth, this article: the failure of a simple, easily applied empirical test. What test? Why, if global warming was man-made, then only the Earth should show any effects. But look at Mars: very similiar effects are visible there as well. The only logical conclusion? Global Warming is not the anthropogenic phenomenon that is being claimed. Or are there people on Mars doing the same thing as we are doing here?

Finally, this article: the first step above, that increases in certain gases in the mixture of our atmosphere lead to a greenhouse effect, is itself called into question.

What's the point of all these "denier" claims? Aren't all these folks in the pay of evil big corporations?

The answer is simple: no, they are not. The CVs of those involved are literally world class.

Let's talk some of the names:

Edward Wegman, Richard S.J. Tol, Christopher Landsea, Duncan Wingham, Richard Lindzen, Henrik Svensmark, Nigel Weiss, Frans Nieuwstadt, Habibullo Abdussamatov, Nir Shariv.

All right and proper scientists, vastly published, honored with professional recognition, and all "Global Warming" deniers.

In proper science, the existence of contrary evidence must call your thesis into question. Science is not about consensus: politics is about consensus.

There is no scientific consensus on "Global Warming": there is only a political consensus, driven by a romanticist meme, that this is a great way of getting money.

Samstag, Februar 03, 2007

Romanticism and Chaos ...

As usual, this post led me to think about what it is that the loyal, if irresponsible, opposition is thinking of.

I don't see the opposition to the war as being a rational one: it is highly emotive and negativistic, behaving more like the tantrum of a 3-year old rather than a measured response.

Why is this so?

The answer is complex.

On the one hand, we had basically what one could, from a vulgar Marxist position, see as the end of history: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of socialism as a functioning system. For me this was visible in the 1970s and I remember predicting to clients when East Germany would collapse (not a date, but rather in terms of behavior: East Germany would collapse when they could no longer control their population without having to resort to massive force.) and what it would imply for the rest of Eastern Europe and for the Soviet Union itself (this was back in 1988).

The critical point is that the bipolar way of viewing things - of the progressive, ideologically correct socialist brethren opposed by the repressive, police-state loving cronies of capitalism - made the complexities of the cold war very simple for many. We know now today that one of the classic subversive methods used by the KGB to undermine western Europe and elsewhere - see the Mitrokhin Archives for this - was the use of agitation propaganda (agitprop) and either the use of existing conflict - after all, any capitalist society was filled with contradictions and class conflicts - or the creation of new ones to outrage the population, create revolutionary fervor and take advantage of the vulnerability of mass democratic political movements to demagoguery and mass emotions to attack the existing order. This was considered to be one of the key methods of undermining the capitalist world order: after all, the capitalists could only hold power because the masses were misled and uninformed, and a properly indoctrinated and "educated" population would of necessity reject capitalist oppression and welcome the revolutionary elite that would lead them to socialist liberation and freedom.

What was the core of this cold war subversive activity?

Enraging the masses, using real or faked issues, was the key: an angry populace is one that can change society. Anarchy was welcomed, as long as it served to destabilize. The goal was to create alienation - actually, to let the oppressed masses understand their fundamental alienation, already existing but due to lack of historical consciousness hidden from the masses by their false consciousness - and then use the frustration of alienation to create anger, focusing it then via the revolutionary elite that would then overthrow the oppressors.

The key here is being able to ramp up the emotions, negative emotions of frustration, of the feeling of rejection, if need be to create failure and collapse in order to foster alienation from a functioning society. Hence the infiltration of unions, leading to frivolous strikes that would bankrupt companies and force unemployment: by making that a function of capitalism, rather than of deliberate sabotage of a functioning company, you could start to organize, using demagogues to drive the emotions. It makes no difference if the emotions are driven by real events or faked ones: the key thing is to drive them into a frenzy, because of a weakness of the human psyche.

Everyone has had emotional periods in their lives: losing a job unfairly; being spurned by a loved one; losing a loved family member; any sort of event that drives strong emotions. One of the methods of the left - and fascists were very good at this as well - was to harness those emotions and turn them to their own political gain, trying to ride the wave of these emotions before they would exhaust themselves. Major changes in life styles - such as going to university, being out on your own for the first time - are also times of great emotional turmoil. What characterizes such times?

A diminishing of rational thought.

This is where the above post becomes interesting: it is an analysis of romanticism.

Romanticism has nothing to do with "being romantic", but rather is a rejection, in many ways, of the Enlightenment, which has Reason at its core:

One of the fundamentals of Romanticism is the belief in the natural goodness of man, the idea that man in a state of nature would behave well but is hindered by civilization (Rousseau --  "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"). The "savage" is noble, childhood is good and the emotions inspired by both beliefs causes the heart to soar. On the contrary, urban life and the commitment to "getting and spending," generates a fear and distrust of the world. If man is inherently sinful, reason must restrain his passions, but if he is naturally good, then in an appropriate environment, his emotions can be trusted (Blake -- "bathe in the waters of life").

The idea of man's natural goodness and the stress on emotion also contributed to the development of Romantic individualism, that is, the belief that what is special in a man is to be valued over what is representative (the latter oftentimes connected with the conventions imposed on man by "civilized society." If a man may properly express his unique emotional self because its essence is good, he is also likely to assume also that its conflicts and corruptions are a matter of great import and a source of fascination to himself and others. So, the Romantic delights in self-analysis. Both William Wordsworth (in The Prelude) and Lord Byron (in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage), poets very different from one another, felt the need to write lengthy poems of self-dramatization. The self that Byron dramatized, a projection not identical with his own personality, was especially dear to the Romantic mind: the outcast wanderer, heroic by accursed, often on some desperate quest, in the tradition of Cain or the Flying Dutchman. S. T. Coleridge's Mariner and Herman Melville's Ahab are similar Romantic pilgrims.

Here we see two fundamental aspects of the modern, post-socialist collapse left: the belief that man is inherently good and the obsession with a narcissistic self-analysis, not critical, but rather radically anti-critical, with a willful rejection of reasoning to celebrate how wonderful each and every person is (as long as they aren't being repressed).

And consider this as well:

The Enlightenment replaced the Christian matrix with the mechanical matrix of Newtonian natural philosophy. For the Romantic, the result was nothing less than the demotion of the individual. Imagination, sensitivity, feelings, spontaneity and freedom were stifled -- choked to death. Man must liberate himself from these intellectual chains.

I think this can be clearly postulated: the "new left", the resurrected left after the collapse of Real Existing Socialism, is a reactionary movement, one that cannot accept the rational world of post-modern capitalism, with its great efficiencies and triumphal productivity.

What we are seeing in the loyal, irresponsible opposition is nothing more than a rebirth of romanticism: we see it in Hillary Clinton's demand that President Bush not saddle her with the problems that, according to her, he caused; we see it in things like the anti-globalist movement in all of its reactionary glory. We see the left, for instance, in the US as being characterized as simply existing to deny, of having no political plan besides being the "anti-Bush".

And like the Romanticists, the "new left" is completely mistaken in understanding how societies work. They, projecting how they understand themselves, believe that their opponents, those of the "new Enlightenment" also must create an enemy before they can actually have their own identity:

With the Romantics, it shows first how men make an identity for themselves by defining an enemy, making clear what they oppose, thus making life into a battle. Second, it is evident that factual, accurate, subtle understanding makes the enemy mere men. Even before 1789, the Romantics opposed the superficiality of the conventions of an artificial, urban and aristocratic society. They blurred distinctions between its decadent, fashionable Christianity or unemotional Deism and the irreligion or anti-clericalism of the philosophes.

Let's touch on the salient points: identity defined as the negation of the political opponent, and facts and understanding are detrimental to the cause. The cause is served by raw emotions and passions; the facts be damned, and if the facts be damned, then my opinions, my "emotional reality" is as important as any mere fact.

Further, the Romantics glorify nature:

The Romantics returned God to Nature -- the age revived the unseen world, the supernatural, the mysterious, the world of medieval man. It is no accident that the first gothic novel appears early in the Romantic Age. Nature came to be viewed historically. The world was developing, it was a world of continuous process, it was a world in the process of becoming. And this continuous organic process could only be understood through historical thought. And here we have come almost full circle to the views expressed by Giambattista Vico ... a century earlier. This is perhaps the single most revolutionary aspect of the Romantic Age. An admiration for all the potency and diversity of living nature superseded a concern for the discovery of its universal traits. In a word, the Romantics embraced relativism.

Hence we can understand better the role that a radical environmentalism plays with the "new left". And of course the relativism, the rejection of first principles for ethical behavior, leads to the relativistic morals of the "new left".

And more importantly, we can understand better the irrationality of the new environmentalist movement, the hysteria of the global warming coreligionists: man has sullied nature, man has sullied God with his activities, interfering in the natural processes. This is the driving force behind the radical environmentalists that want to tax the highly successful western capitalist societies for their very existence, denying them the fruits of their labors while lambasting them at the same time that they are the root of all evil, the capitalization of nature.

So why the title of Romanticism and Chaos?

Because the Romanticists, or better the modern neo-Romanticists, thrive on chaos and actively desire to create chaos, but not the chaos of creativity, but rather the chaos of deconstruction (small wonder that Derrida and similar intellectuals are so popular...) and destruction, aiming more for the realities of the French Revolution than any other sort of order.

And that makes the neo-Romantics deadly: the human cost of chaos can be seen in Darfur, the Congo and anywhere where the state fails.  But they increasingly push for actions and decisions that will heighten chaos, rather than reign it in, using NGOs as their tools and wishful-thinking liberals as their support.

Freitag, Februar 02, 2007

Spurious Dissent...

One of the beloved memes of the left these days is that "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and to put those words into Thomas Jefferson's mouth.

That always made me wonder: did he really say that?

Well, I went and looked.

He never said that.

And to make the leftist lie even worse, he comes close to saying exactly the opposite, as can be seen here:

"Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism: but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude it's influence if possible, from social life. The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to perfect the principles of society as that political opinions shall, in it's intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy, mechanics, or any other, may well be doubted." TJ to Thomas Pinckney, 29 May 1797

So, instead of viewing dissent as the highest form of patriotism, Thomas Jefferson actually saw it as a great evil, less evil than the lethargy of despotism, but evil nonetheless.

That doesn't really suprise me, considering another meme so beloved of the left: What if there was a war and no one came?

But I already covered that here.

But let's repeat it, as it remains relevant:

"What if they gave a war and no one came?
Then the war will come to you.
He who stays home when the fight begins
And lets others fight for his cause
Should take care. He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle does not avoid
Battle, since not to fight for your cause
Really means
Fighting on behalf of your enemy's cause.

 - Bertholt Brecht.

Link to the original there.

All of this, of course, is spurred by the three columns in the Washington Post by Arkin. That's a link to Arkin; you can find the opeds here, here, and here, in chronological order.

The man's not treasonous, but he is irresponsible. Severely so.

Not fighting for your cause really means fighting on behalf of your enemy's cause.