Bwahahaha! My sinister master plan for world domination is
working. Straight from the pages of the highest-quality general-news
magazine in English, check
this out! The money ‘graf is the last one:
Moreover, the ease with which the internet spreads
wrong-headedness–to say nothing of lies and slander–is offset by the
ease with which it spreads insights and ideas. To regret the glorious
fecundity of new media is to choose the hushed reverence of the
cathedral over the din of the bazaar.
There’s an old saw to the effect that there’s no limit to what you
can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. More precisely,
when your signature memes start showing up as generative metaphors in
elite and popular usage with your name stripped off them, you
know you’re winning.
Winning, that is, at the only game that is really interesting –
changing the world.
(Hat tip to my blogson Walter Hunt over at Stone of Remembrance,
though I’d have seen it anyway in my weekly Economist and
I’ve been warning since 2002 that the West really is in a war to
defend civilization against Islamic barbarians, and had better face up
to that fact before the consequences of whitewashing Islam as
a “religion of peace” get worse.
Comes now Fjordman, a blogger from Norway who tells us that Moslem
immigrants to Sweden report themselves to be
at war with Swedes. See also his earlier post about how Swedish
society is disintegrating — not despite its commitment to
‘multiculturalism’, ‘tolerance’, and the welfare state, but because
that commitment is being ruthlessly gamed by Islamofascists who see
themselves as the conquering vanguard of the Dar al-Islam.
Sam Harris’s The End of Faith is a well-executed polemic of a kind that, in retrospect, has been curiously absent in the West over the last fifty years. Not since I read Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian in the early 1970s have I seen an attack on organized religion as clear, uncompromising, and compelling as this one — and Russell’s book was expanded from a lecture he gave in 1927.
Why, in a supposedly secular and modernist society that is heir to the anti-religious Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th century, do we not see more outright attacks on particular religions, or religion as an institution in general? Mr. Harris supplies a surprising answer: he thinks ‘tolerance’ is a problem, that the modern West has agreed to accept almost any form of unsanity or fanaticism as long as it is labeled ‘religion’.
I had planned my string of meditations on the movies to stop with
three. But, having succumbed to the mischievous blandishments of my
beloved wife Cathy, here’s a fourth. Today I shall consider hotness in
Hollywood — some movies that at least partly sold me with
sex, and how they did it.
My last two posts
(If Hollywood Were Really Brave
and Out of the Frame)
have slammed Hollywood pretty hard for cranking out preachy, boring crap
while congratulating itself on its bravery. I’ll make it a triptych by
examining some recent movies that I found truly excellent.
Movie ticket receipts in North America dipped by six percent in
2005 to nine billion dollars, comes today’s report on the status of
the film industry.
The most hyped movie of 2005 was a depressing, pokey flick about
gay sheepherders. The Oscar nominations were otherwise dominated by
one movie that flogged us all for our supposed racism in a wearisomely
familiar way, another that rehashed left-wing grievances against a
minor and ineffective demagogue who’s been dead for pushing fifty
years, and a thriller that made an Islamic suicide bomber out to be
a saint and Americans parasitic villains.
Call me crazy, but I can’t help but think there might be some tenuous
shred of a hint of a connection here…
The Oscar night of 2006 brought us the unedifying spectacle of
George Clooney (whom I must say I truly admire when he shuts his yap
and acts) celebrating Hollywood’s bravery for being willing
to make movies like Brokeback Mountain and Good Night
and Good Luck.
Conservative commentators have already pointed out
how hollow and laughable it is to suppose that left-wing political
correctness is in any way ‘brave’ in today’s Hollywood, so I won’t
re-plow that ground. Instead, I’ll propose eight movies I think
Hollywood would make if it were really brave.
Keith Windschuttle gets it. In The Adversary
Culture he identifies the same suicidalist pathology that
Mark Brittingham and Jeff Goldstein and I have been writing about
Windschuttle, an Australian historian, identifies historians and
cultural-studies types on the academic left as vectors of the
disease. I wonder if he’s read Koch on Willi Munzenberg or Haynes
& Klehr’s Denial and gets how thoroughly these
people were piping to a tune that Stalin’s espionage apparat wrote?
For anyone still tempted to believe blaming the Soviets for the
flakiness of academia is just conspiratorial raving, get a load of this
it seems that during the Korean War the Soviets and North Koreans
thought anti-U.S. dezinformatsiya so important that they gassed their
own people in order to fabricate evidence for a legend that
U.S. troops had used chemical weapons in Korea. They did this with
the clear intention of damaging U.S. prestige, of breaking our will to
oppose Soviet expansionism by making us doubt and loathe ourselves.
We have statements from the people who planned and executed the
They got the result they were after. Left-wing historians like
Gabriel Kolko dutifully repeated legends of U.S. chemical warfare,
terrorism and atrocities in Korea for forty years afterwards. In fact,
Kolko continued to repeat the chemical-warfare legend even after the
Soviets themselves repudiated it in a published 1953 letter to Mao
Whether Kolko himself (or any other individual leftie) was taking
orders from Moscow or was an ‘honest’ dupe fed the legend by Soviet
propaganda organs is not really very significant. What matters is
that Kolko, and all the the rest of the Marxist intelligentsia who
became cogs in Stalin’s memetic war machine, willingly did their part
to injure ‘the main enemy’. They retailed the lies of a tyrant who
murdered more people than Hitler, and they have not yet been called to
account for it.
Say what you will about conservative historians and conservatives
in general (I can find plenty of nasty things to say of them, and
frequently have); at least they never sunk quite so low as to repeat
totalitarian propaganda after the totalitarians themselves had
Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.
We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.
By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.
Warning: I am about to vent. If splenetic ranting is not your
thing, back outta here now, for I am seriously pissed off.
WICCANS DECRY ‘WAR AGAINST SOLSTICE’
Wiccan Coven Association President Ozrius Ravenclaw announced today
that his group would continue a formal economic boycott against
several major US retailers “until they cease their relentless and
cowardly attack on the Solstice.”
Retailers affected by the boycott include Target, WalMart, Dollar
General, Mills Fleet Farm, Victoria’s Secret, AutoZone, and Hy Vee.
“This is ‘Political Correctness’ gone crazy. Where ever you shop these
days, it seems like it’s ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings,’”
said Ravenclaw, who was formerly known as Chuck Sundergard. “Whatever
happened to a good old fashioned ‘All Glory to Gaia’ or ‘Jhakkaa
Tractor Supply Company spokesman Kevin Neves denied accusations that
his company instructed sales clerks not to use traditional Wiccan
“We welcome everybody to TSC, regardless of how they celebrate the
season,” said Neves. “We even stock a nice assortment of seasonal
animal sacrifice altars, back in Lawn & Garden.”
I’m a Wiccan. Been one for thirty years. (Yeah, yeah, “I was a
Wiccan before it was cool…”). Now, if I were the kind of humorless
gink at which Iowahawk is aiming, I’d be spluttering with indignation at
this insensitive and hurtful fling at my personal religion thing.
But you know what? I think it’s pretty funny.
Since writing the essay C.S. Lewis is morally
incoherent I have finished rereading the entire Narnia series. I
could go on at length about how the writing deteriorates as Lewis’s
imaginative impulse is more and more smothered by the clanking and
wheezing of his allegory machine, but Adam Gopnik makes the point
better than I could in Prisoner
Leon H. at RedState writes in Intelligent Design (The Debate Isn’t Helping):
In other words, my feeling about Krauthammer, Derbyshire, et al is
basically this: if you wish to denigrate ID and insult its proponents,
go find an ID discussion board (they are legion) and do so there -
don’t use the pages of NR or your token space in the WaPo to do it
in. What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism could come
about by you propounding your opinion on a topic which is neither your
calling nor your area of expertise, and which will insult a
significant portion of the Republican coalition?
What a load of disingenuous crap this is!
I’m not a conservative, myself, and dislike conservatism for many reasons that I have written about elsewhere. But I can sympathize with conservatives who desire to put distance between themselves and the ID movement, which combines purblind stupidity with dishonesty about its actual aims in a way I’ve previously only seen in gun-control proponents.
The ID movement’s claim that it’s not about end-running the First Amendment and turning schools into instruments for the propagation of Christian dogma is just as transparently specious as most gun-grabbers’ claims that they don’t aim to render the Second Amendment a dead letter. Both gangs are enemies of liberty and the U.S. Constitution, and for precisely the same reasons. It’s hardly startling for anyone, conservative or otherwise, to want to avoid being associated with any movement that lies wholesale about its objectives.
And that’s before addressing the numerous gaping logical holes in the “intelligent design” argument. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, deciding Kitzmiller vs. Dover on December 20th, nailed many of these in his opinion. To actually buy the ID argument requires either a complete inability to do critical thinking or a zealot’s refusal to exercise it.
“What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism” he asks. Maybe…just maybe…Krauthammer and Derbyshire would like to demonstrate that there are some conservatives who are neither liars, religious zealots, nor plain-and-simple idiots.
My wife Catherine has written an excellent review of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which we saw just last night. I concur with it; the movie is a meandering, flabby, over-long, self-indulgent mess that will be deeply disappointing to many of the fans Jackson attracted with the Rings movies. I hope it bombs, and he learns a lesson about artistic discipline. His next movie would be better for that.
I read C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia” books as a child, and have dim memories of enjoying them. Because of this, and because the trailers for the upcoming movie look gorgeous, I have been planning to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when it comes out. As preparation I thought it would be a good idea to reread the series. To my great disappointment, I’ve discovered that they don’t hold up well under adult perception — in fact, that Lewis’s creation is morally and dramatically incoherent in a deep and damaging way.
Manolo the Shoeblogger writes in The
Paradox of Not Caring: “claiming to not care about the clothes, to
not be concerned about what one wears, it the paradox, for the clothes
worn by one who claims not to care make as much the statement as those
worn by one who dresses with the purpose.” He’s got a point. And yet,
there is a difference between fashionistas like most of his fans and
anti-fashionistas like me, and it’s an important one.
Went to see the latest Harry Potter flick last night and got —
no, I won’t say “assaulted”, I’ll say “oozed on” by the infomercials
Regal Cinemas started running earlier this year, some sludge called
“The 2wenty” that tries to be trendy and hip and cool and attractive
and fails miserably on all four counts.
I deduce from the existence of this thing that either (a) ad
executives have the brains of planaria, or (b) they’re engaged in a
conspiracy to waste their clients’ money. The 2wenty isn’t even the
kind of in-your-face bad that leaves an impression — it’s just
unbelievably lame-ass bland, a kind of elevator music dressed up
in video effects.
It’s all the more unbelievable that this thing got produced
because, presumably, it was done by people who get paid to be current
with popular culture. I’m just a 47-year-old white computer geek but
it is dead clear that even I have way more street cool than
whatever “creatives” they found to put the 2wenty
together, fo’shizzle. How did that happen? On the
production values alone they have to be sinking at least $300K a pop
into these, and they can’t out-hip one single aging baby-boomer?
Geez…I think I’m offended as much by their incompetence as by
Neil Postman and Naomi Klein and their ilk have made a growth
industry out of running around whining about consumer culture, how
it’s all a spectacle designed to distract people from what’s really
important. Never mind that their definition of “what’s really
important” is tired Marxist bullshit…if this is
representative of what the merchants of spectacle are pumping out,
they have no worries. The 2wenty couldn’t do an effective job of
distracting a hyperactive three-year-old. It’d be more likely
to put the tyke to sleep.
Ah well. I look on the bright side. When Big Media wastes money
and putative talent on this scale, it’s good news for the rest of us.
It’s resources they’re not spending on screwing up our culture or our
legal/political system in more effective ways.
UPDATE: After some discussion, my wife and I think we may have identified the 2wenty’s target demographic — early-teenage girls of the mall-rat persuasion.
In 1997 I was delighted by Grosse Point Blank, John
Cusack’s masterpiece about a hitman who finds himself (in both senses
of the phrase) at his high-school reunion. I loved that movie for its
action, its dark comedy, and a script that never stopped being
wickedly intelligent for even a second. I’ve been waiting nearly ten
years for Cusack to do a movie as funny and as plain damn
The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist
terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The
suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to
spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or
journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West’s
will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.
But al-Qaeda didn’t create the ugly streak of nihilism and
self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I
believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by
Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with
conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West’s
intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with
such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union
itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western
Aa a finger exercise in writing, I decided to submit a piece to Manolo’s
Essay Contest. The constraints — low word count, a subject
that really doesn’t interest me much — appealed to me. I
figured if I could produce something interesting under those
circumstances, it would be an accomplishment.
Here it is. You be the judge…