Gramscian damage

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.

The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya. A classic example is the rumor that AIDS was the result of research aimed at building a ‘race bomb’ that would selectively kill black people.

On a different level, in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.

Americans hearing that last one tend to laugh. But the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover. The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.

Accordingly, the Soviet espionage apparat actually ran two different kinds of network: one of spies, and one of agents of influence. The agents of influence had the minor function of recruiting spies (as, for example, when Kim Philby was brought in by one of his tutors at Cambridge), but their major function was to spread dezinformatsiya, to launch memetic weapons that would damage and weaken the West.

In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

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As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia.

The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the “leading elements” of society through their agents of influence. (See, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals; summary by Koch here) This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.

Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people — at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life.

Koch shows us that the worst-case scenario was, as it turns out now, the correct one; these ideas, like the “race bomb” rumor, really were instruments deliberately designed to destroy the American way of life. Another index of their success is that most members of the bicoastal elite can no longer speak of “the American way of life” without deprecation, irony, or an automatic and half-conscious genuflection towards the altar of political correctness. In this and other ways, the corrosive effects of Stalin’s meme war have come to utterly pervade our culture.

The most paranoid and xenophobic conservatives of the Cold War were, painful though this is to admit, the closest to the truth in estimating the magnitude and subtlety of Soviet subversion. Liberal anticommunists (like myself in the 1970s) thought we were being judicious and fair-minded when we dismissed half of the Right’s complaint as crude blather. We were wrong; the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss really were guilty, the Hollywood Ten really were Stalinist tools, and all of Joseph McCarthy’s rants about “Communists in the State Department” were essentially true. The Venona transcripts and other new material leave no room for reasonable doubt on this score.

While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn’t outlast it, their memetic weapons did. These memes are now coming near to crippling our culture’s response to Islamic terrorism.

In this context, Jeff Goldstein has written eloquently about perhaps the most long-term dangerous of these memes — the idea that rights inhere not in sovereign individuals but identity groups, and that every identity group (except the “ruling class”) has the right to suppress criticism of itself through political means up to and including violence.

Mark Brittingham (aka WildMonk) has written an excellent essay on the roots of this doctrine in Rousseau and the post-Enlightenment Romantics. It has elsewhere been analyzed and labeled as transnational progressivism. The Soviets didn’t invent it, but they promoted it heavily in a deliberate — and appallingly successful — attempt to weaken the Lockean, individualist tradition that underlies classical liberalism and the U.S. Constitution. The reduction of Western politics to a bitter war for government favor between ascriptive identity groups is exactly the outcome the Soviets wanted and worked hard to arrange.

Call it what you will — various other commentators have favored ‘volk-Marxism’ or ‘postmodern leftism’. I’ve called it suicidalism. It was designed to paralyze the West against one enemy, but it’s now being used against us by another. It is no accident that Osama bin Laden so often sounds like he’s reading from back issues of Z magazine, and no accident that both constantly echo the hoariest old cliches of Soviet propaganda in the 1930s and ’40s.

Another consequence of Stalin’s meme war is that today’s left-wing antiwar demonstrators wear kaffiyehs without any sense of how grotesque it is for ostensible Marxists to cuddle up to religious absolutists who want to restore the power relations of the 7th century CE. In Stalin’s hands, even Marxism itself was hollowed out to serve as a memetic weapon — it became increasingly nihilist, hatred-focused and destructive. The postmodern left is now defined not by what it’s for but by what it’s against: classical-liberal individualism, free markets, dead white males, America, and the idea of objective reality itself.

The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant.

Brittingham and other have worried that postmodern leftism may yet win. If so, the victory would be short-lived. One of the clearest lessons of recent times (exemplified not just by kaffiyeh-wearing western leftists but by Hamas’s recent clobbering of al-Fatah in the first Palestinian elections) is that po-mo leftism is weaker than liberal individualism in one important respect; it has only the weakest defenses against absolutist fervor. Brittingham tellingly notes po-mo philosopher Richard Rorty’s realization that when the babble of conflicting tribal narratives collapses in exhaustion, the only thing left is the will to power.

Again, this is by design. Lenin and Stalin wanted classical-liberal individualism replaced with something less able to resist totalitarianism, not more. Volk-Marxist fantasy and postmodern nihilism served their purposes; the emergence of an adhesive counter-ideology would not have. Thus, the Chomskys and Moores and Fisks are running a program carefully designed to dead-end at nothing.

Religions are good at filling that kind of nothing. Accordingly, if transnational progressivism actually succeeds in smothering liberal individualism, its reward will be to be put to the sword by some flavor of jihadi. Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy. The death of that dream is being written in European banlieus by angry Muslim youths under the light of burning cars.

In the banlieus and elsewhere, Islamist pressure makes it certain that sooner or later the West is going to vomit Stalin’s memes out of its body politic. The worst way would be through a reflex development of Western absolutism — Christian chauvinism, nativism and militarism melding into something like Francoite fascism. The self-panicking leftists who think they see that in today’s Republicans are comically wrong (as witnessed by the fact that they aren’t being systematically jailed and executed), but it is quite a plausible future for the demographically-collapsing nations of Europe.

The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050. But if the Islamists achieve their dream of nuking “crusader” cities, they’ll make crusaders out of the U.S., too. And this time, a West with a chauvinized America at its head would smite the Saracen with weapons that would destroy entire populations and fuse Mecca into glass. The horror of our victory would echo for a thousand years.

I remain more optimistic than this. I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin’s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.

The process won’t be pretty. But I fear that if the rest of us don’t hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning, the hard Right will sooner or later get the power to do it by means that include a lot of killing. I don’t want to live in that future, and I don’t think any of my readers do, either. If we want to save a liberal, tolerant civilization for our children, we’d better get to work.

UPDATE: My original link to Protein Wisdom went stale. I’m not certain the new one is the same essay, but it is on many of the same ideas.

314 thoughts on “Gramscian damage

  1. A defense of Mormonism:

    “Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy.”

    I sure as hell hope esr is trying to show the greatest disparity possible. Mormons believe most fervently in being nice to the neighbors and following the laws of the land (criminal behavior is an excommunication offense, and is regularly enforced). Mormons are a bit overboard on the “convert your neighbor” thing, but the only ones really working at it, do so out of a genuine concern for their neighbors eternal welfare.

    Mormons also devoutly believe that believers in other faiths, who keep to their own faith’s rules will go to heaven too (where, of course, everybody gets a chance to convert). Their belief in heaven may be a bit complex, but suicide bombing of innocents (or worse, forcing others to do it) would almost certainly land you in the universes most exclusive club: “outer darkness”. The only defense before God would be true coercion (like the guys with the families held hostage) or insanity of the “I thought I was a cabbage” variety.

    Hardly the “God hates all infidels” thing.

    Mormons actually believe that a truly good Muslim, Catholic, Hindi, Jew or anybody else faithfully following their religion throughout life will certainly go to heaven at death. Even atheists and pagans (esr take note) who lived a good life, but never really had a chance to accept the truth, get a chance after death to accept. What defines “really had a chance” vs “had a chance in life but chose sinfulness” is something for Jesus to decide. Even then, the worst of the most common sinners still make it to a heaven far better than earth. “Outer Darkness” and eternal misery, like earth orbit, is reserved for people who WORK for evil and _really_ succeed at it.

    Frankly, I don’t know why ESR would dislike Mormons. The Mormons were driven out of the east by murder and terrorism, and finally went to Utah (then part of Mexico) to get away from everybody else and live their own way and be left alone. Gun ownership among Mormons is extremely common (almost universal), and children in sunday school lessons are taught early church history, including the mobs raping, murdering and burning. Joseph Smith was murdered by a terrorist mob, and Mormons have never forgotten it.

    Mormons have a disporportinately large representation in the armed forces, because patriotism is still a virtue in their church. In the US, members are asked point blank if they are members of, “the Communist Party or any other group dedicated to overthrowing the U.S. government?” A yes answer means excommunication.

    Personally, I think that ESR has become a biased against Mormons because of the SCO scandal. It should be known that there are many more mormons who are outraged by Darl and Co, than there are participating. Unfortunately, the only church members who seem to understand what’s going on are either SCO insiders, or outraged tech geeks who have no authority to do anything. Not to mention, nobody has even yet brought charges against the SCO people — so there’s nothing yet to complain about. Currently, in the eyes of the church, some members belong to a company that has a contract dispute that is so muddy, the finest judicial system in the world hasn’t even begun discussing it yet (discovery is still in it’s first decade …)

    In summary, I can’t think of two more disparate groups on the planet than Islamic extremists and Mormons, and I sure as hell know who I’d rather be neighbors with.

    Incedentally, Mormon core doctrine says they’re all members of one of the 12 houses of Israel by birth or divine adoption. and the Jews are all relatives. They also understand well what it is like to be surrounded by governments trying to obliterate them, and feel compassionate towards these problems too.

    Some Jews seem to be extremely uncomfortable with the concept of a non-anti-semetic religion, and are working very hard to correct the aberration.

    Although I find the Mormon beliefs rather hard to swallow, I really can’t stand to see a decent, honorable group of people slandered gratuitously. I have had occasion to meet and be friends with many Mormons, including some who were extremely high in the organizational chart, and none of the high-ups ever struck me as pretenders. As far as I know, most of them built a sizable nest egg before getting drafted into the church leadership ranks, and live off their investments without drawing a dime from the church.

    I guess, in closing, esr is technically right about the “ectopia” thing, since Mormons are notoriously hard workers, and seem to have an almost genetic drive to drain wetlands (swamps) and irrigate deserts (precious fragile ecosystem of rattlesnakes, spiders and scorpions). Sorry for the long post, but I felt it important.

    Hanzie.

    • Obviously you don’t know many Mormons!

      Down on planet earth, Anglo-Protestant Americans are viewed as Kaffirs to them. But the comparison to the Mooselimbs does not end there. To the average American freeman Mormonism, like Islam, represents a criminal pressing gang. And their industry is “grange-culture” communism that thrives on Deep-State government rents.

      Submit to the Church, pay jizya, or else… Mohammed’s date-farms should be so well endowed!

      Sorry for the length of this post, but I felt it important.

      • Most of my wife’s extended family are Mormons. Your comments bear no relation with the Mormons I know. Zero.

      • I know a lot of Mormons. I’ve read all their religious texts, studied their doctrine, spent many a Sunday among them, and participated in some charitable projects.
        Hanzie’s defense is accurate. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just regurgitating old worn anti Mormon bigotry.

      • I was born and raised Mormon and was a missionary long ago. I was eventually “converted” to atheism by science, not social issues. Step by step, science is finding explanations for things that had once seemed impossible to explain without resorting to an infinitely powerful God. And without God, all claims of divine origin of doctrine by ALL religions are wrong.

        But though I have completely rejected the theology, I am well-aware of what I and the Mormons around me believed and thought and wanted during the decades that I was a true believer, and steveaz, your claims are utter hogwash. Your lies about what I used to believe as a Mormon sound just like the lies Berkeley professors teach about how people like me who believe in individual liberty are actually “literal Nazis” who want a Big Govt that will murder all non-white people. If your claims about what the “average American” believes are correct to some extent, it is to the extent that lies and propaganda such as yours, repeated endlessly over the years, are effective at eventually causing people to believe nonsense and even doubt the evidence of their own experience.

        Hanzie’s description is essentially correct.

        • I am an atheist, and I agree that Hanzie’s description is essentially correct. I lived in a mostly Mormon subdivision outside of Idaho Falls for three years. I’m sure my neighbors wanted to convert me, but their main “propaganda” tool was being kind and accepting to me, and law-abiding and patriotic citizens in general. The only ones who actually came knocking at my door to proselytize during that entire time were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was invited to a Mormon church service, which I attended, Mormon holiday activities such as church dinners, etc., and biweekly gatherings (“Family Home Evenings,”) of the older members of the community that were mostly but not always religious-themed, but always included socializing after the official program. They were a great way to get to know the neighbors. It was understood that I was not a Mormon, and I was never pressured to become one at these affairs. I noticed another thing; Mormons have children. They will show up for the future. Suicidalism isn’t a Mormon thing. I would be the first to agree that some of their beliefs aren’t rational, but I don’t find them more irrational than more “orthodox” Christian beliefs.

          In short, my impression of Mormons was very favorable. I, too, found their juxtaposition with Moslem extremists in the article incongruous and unjustified.

        • And you’re saying “God did it” should be viewed a satisfying explanation for creation ex nihilo?

          Which god? Ironically, the same one that tells Muslims that jihad is noble and just.

          • So what you’re saying is that anyone who believes in the conception of a divine order, that is to say the notion that there is a creative force in the universe that is responsible for the phenomenon that scientists call self-organization, are no different from extremist/jihadi Muslims?

            Empedocles posited that there are two basic forces in the universe: Love and Strife. You’ve just basically argued that everyone who believes in the former is guilty of the sins of the latter.

    • Well … thing is …. the idea of heaven is pretty scary …. I mean, do you have any grasp of how long eternity is? Hanging with the same people … the ones who don’t sin or have much fun. Plus, what are you going to do with all that time? How much heavenly golf can you play before you want to scream?

      Once in heaven, what is your goal, what are you plans, where are you going? We are of a psyche that demands on-going change, challenges, new things, adventure or we become warped in our boredom. What about existence with no body? I don’t think this after-life thing has been thought through.

      Working toward an eternal anything may not be wise. Most likely when you die it becomes the same for you as it was before you were born ….. nothingness. Perhaps putting a little more importance in the time we ARE here would be prudent because it is very likely the only glimpse of life and reality that we are ever going to get.

      • Duke,

        Granted, your take on heaven, if it were true, would be scary. But, you are looking at it as if one steps from this plane to the next with the same mind but with just more time – endless time.

        When I think like that, I blurt out a prayer for God to just unmake me or destroy me as if I never existed. But, here is a better way, the right way I believe, to think about it. God, who is perfect, is never bored and would never make a creature that could be bored in His presence. Thus, you would find that many of the ways one thinks about things on earth would disappear like fog does when the sun burns it off. If God can’t be bored then the ones who have all eternity to get to know Him could never be bored either. If He never tires of us, or His work, then, you can be sure, we won’t tire of Him, our work, or of others.

        Also, here on earth, we are very much stuck on being ego-centric. We struggle with service to others, competing when collaboration is better, obeying God when it is so much easier to obey ourselves.

        C.S. Lewis is the best antidote I know of for the doubter of God’s goodness and rightful claim on us. His book – Mere Christianity – is a very good start.

  2. Apologies,

    I have criticized one tiny bit of an otherwise amazingly thought provoking essay. Overall, esr seems to be one of the few voices of sanity in the world. Reading his essays is like seeing really bad news on a medical chart. I wish like hell the problems weren’t there, but at least I can work on it now.

    Precisely describing the problem is 90% of the solution.

    Thanks,
    hanzie.

  3. I’m not as optimistic as you are. We are not going to reject the Stalinist memes unless and until some terrorist nukes Flatbush Avenue and puts Junior’s Deli out of business permanently. At that point, we will turn Damascus or Tehran into radioactive glass, and we won’t feel the least bit sorry about it.

    • When I first read “Muslims or Mormans” I perceived an attempt at “black or white” ie: two extremes of the religious spectum. Then I thought about all the Morman atrocities, you know, burning infidels alive, decapitations, suicide bombers, you know like it says in their Book, kill anyone not of your faith or convert or enslave them. Terrorize them into appeasement. Bring the world by force under the Book Of Morman and the world will be at Peace. Oh hell I’ve got the wrong religion don’t I?

      PS Pretty amazing this article was written 13 years ago and things have only gotten worse The canary has long died and the useful idiots are shovelling more and more young people down the coal mine.

  4. I don’t know… if our cities were to be attacked by nuclear devices, I do believe that many of the leftist soi-disant humanitarians out there would see this as a vindication of their views: We were attacked because we’re “bad.” We’re on the wrong side of history. We deserve to be destroyed because we are the oppressors.

    Maybe there are fewer of those kinds of people out there than it seems… but, at least in New Jersey, I feel as if I’m a fish out of water–a slack-jawed yokel among the effete elite (but it’s not quite as bad as New York City itself, as paradoxical as that sounds). Oh well, at least it’s not as bad out here as it seems to be in the rest of the addle-brained coastal voting bloc.

  5. >We deserve to be destroyed because we are the oppressors.

    That’s as neat a one-sentence summary of suicidalism as one could ask for.

  6. I don’t agree with sentiments like “We deserve to be destroyed because we are the oppressors.” That reminds me of Nietzsche’s views about the ways the gods were once reflections of the strength and power of a people, and how Christianity has a skinny, gother-than-thou god nailed to a cross.

    But… “We’re on the wrong side of history.” kind of rings a bell. We’ve been unbelievably ham-handed in our foreign policy. (Especially since 9/11. The current US adminstration aren’t even good villains — they’re mustache-twirling cartoon oil barons. They *look* like bad guys.) I can’t help but read “When confronted with terror…” and want to translate it into the more blunt, “We’ve been screwing around over there for years — poorly! — and surprise, it blew up in our faces!” We shouldn’t be pushing Christianity to Muslims, setting up dictators and knocking them down 20 years later, ignoring the UN we helped found because it was in our own interest to do so, et cetera. We’re making it easy for terrorist organizations to recruit new members.There are always going to be unhappy people at the bottom of the economic pyramid complaining about rich people, “America the Great Satan”, and so on, but should we be giving them documentary proof of their claims? We help make Marxism / leftism / etc appealing by coming off as a bunch of jerks.

    [ I know you’re not supposed to say “jerks” when you’re talking about geopolitics :-), but emotional issues become more predominant as you go lower in the socio-economic pyramid. It’s when you start to accumulate capital that some of the immediate pressure to be happier is off you. That’s the point at which you start to seek money in addition to seeking happiness, because, emotionally, you can now afford to. That’s Marx’s classic ‘proletariat wants to be happy’ / ‘bourgoisie wants to make money’ axis, but it seems to apply. (It’s also the classic engineering positive feedback loop, which I learned, of course, from the man whose name I’ve adopted.) ]

    I think we’d be way ahead of where we are now if the US abandoned it’s own ideological extremity (which I realize varies a lot over time with administration and culture) and started building economic ties. My favorite pet example is the embargo on Cuba. Where would Cuba be now ideologically if we had been slowly and carefully opening trade relations with them all this time? (With “all this time” meaning since the war or since the Berlin Wall went down, pick one.)

    We’re on the wrong side of history by the only sensible definition of wrong. We’re on the *stupid* side of history.

  7. A classic line: “In the banlieus and elsewhere, Islamist pressure makes it certain that sooner or later the West is going to vomit Stalin’s memes out of its body politic.”

    Again – I have to avoid the tempation to really get into this because I have a very important deadline soon but I would like to comment on Geno H.’s comment: “We’re making it easy for terrorist organizations to recruit new members.” I can only conclude that you didn’t understand what you just read. The Islamic extremists are not mere vessels, waiting around to be filled with Western comfort and happiness and pissed off that we aren’t doing it fast enough. They are real people with real (and sometimes extreme) political and cultural beliefs. Your post strikes me as the worst kind of presumptive, ‘soft’ racism (my apologies if this seems overwrought, I don’t mean to offend). You seem so sure that these people – being so far below your level of cognitive skill – are just waiting for the right people to say the right things, apologize the right way and to make appropriate amends (a few billion in aid, perhaps).

    You say: “We shouldn’t be pushing Christianity to Muslims, setting up dictators and knocking them down 20 years later, ignoring the UN we helped found because it was in our own interest to do so, et cetera. ”

    Where on earth do you get this stuff? We’ve bent over backwards to be “respectful” of Islam. We did *NOT* install Saddam, Arafat, Assad or Khomenei. The UN is useful to them only insofar as it can be used to advance their ambition. About the only thing you left out is that we haven’t ratified the Kyoto treaty! You are a walking, spouting example of exactly the kinds of weak thinking described in the source article (but, truly, you don’t have to be – keep reading Heinlein).

    While we have not executed the Iraq war particularly well (but not particularly badly, either, when compared to the historical norm) you are fooling yourself if you think that this explains their violence. If you wish to stand by your explanation then you’ve got a LOT of explaining to do WRT 9/11, USS Cole, Kobar Towers, etc.! LISTEN to bin Laden: they are pissed off about the Crusades, about losing Andalusia, about the fall of the Caliph, about the ascendancy of the “corrupt and decadent” West. They are pissed off about a lot of things that you (and we) simply cannot fix without either dying or giving up and living as Dhimmis.

    They are spoiling for a fight because they believe that the West has turned decidely weak. And they are right – for exactly the reasons that Eric has documented. They are spoiling for a fight because they see the demographic trends and the decaying West and think that God and history are on their side. But they are wrong about their fantasy of subjugating the West because, for all our faults, we are stronger than they can ever dream of being.

    • Utter nonsense. The Muslims are winning because men of the WHITE West are weaklings or quislings, afraid to stand up for the basic survival of our race (which comes first in all considerations: civilizations are products of racial DNA) and culture. Whites today are pathetic. The only solutions are either Hard Right conquest (electorally or militarily) of Western nations, followed by immediate removal of illegal aliens, and then progressive re-ethnonationalizing of White majorities combined with a group-by-group tightening of the screws to make life hard for non-Europeans to remain in White nations and to encourage their expatriation, or total White survivalist territorial ingathering followed by the push for secession and new sovereignty.

      Classical liberalism is a total failure, yesterday’s news. It worked in some civilized White nations, those coming out of harder racialist and Christianist regimes. It was timebound and geographically circumscribed. Its era is over (even though many classical liberal insights possess enduring validity … WITHIN White societies, not multicultural ones).

      We need a long period of authoritarian conservatism, racially tinged, if the West is to survive, and the White race avoid extinction. Classical liberalism, like any other liberalism, is part of the problem.

      • Harry, that’s disgusting and ignorant racism you’re peddling. Individualism as expressed in the Enlightenment and classical liberalism (today’s libertarianism) continues to advance and provide both material and spiritual progress around the world.

        • Harry’s rant may sound repulsive, but there is a ring of truth in it. White people are endangered. Most of the colored world has been taught to hate us. There are large forces trying to take down the west, which means the ‘white world’.

          We are behaving like rape victims blaming ourselves for being raped.

          How stupid is that?

          Can you imagine the monkey house that this world will become once white people are all gone.

  8. >We deserve to be destroyed because we are the oppressors.

    I think a better one-sentence summary (less cartoony) is “We deserve to be destroyed because we support the House of Saud, who are oppressors.”

  9. Interesting. A lot of this stuff is what Coulter is on about in “Treason”, though her view that the strength of America lies in its Christianity might not sit well with everyone.

    The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050.

    You might want to have a closer look at the composition of that wave. AFAICT white American middle class fertility rates aren’t all that much higher than Euro ones.

    The self-panicking leftists who think they see that in today’s Republicans are comically wrong (as witnessed by the fact that they aren’t being systematically jailed and executed)

    *Proto*-fascism is what’s being smelled in, well, exhortations to “hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning”, frex. Though it does depend on what you mean by “attack”. I think you’re going to need a bigger soapbox, somehow.

  10. We are not going to reject the Stalinist memes unless and until some terrorist nukes Flatbush Avenue and puts Junior’s Deli out of business permanently. At that point, we will turn Damascus or Tehran into radioactive glass, and we won’t feel the least bit sorry about it.

    I can just see Bush going “Eenie, meenie, minie, mo”. Sadly, even if America does gets hit, it’s still going to need the oil for the foreseeable future, which is likely to introduce constraints on using nukes as freely as the imagination might permit.

  11. Ann Coulter is a perfect present-day demonstration of the sad truth that even the most repellent frothing conservatives can get an important thing right once in a while. But don’t expect me to endorse her Christianity fixation; I’m a Wiccan.

    The key difference between the U.S. and Europe isn’t that white people here are breeding a lot faster, but that we actually assimilate our fast-breeding immigrants, even when they’re Mexicans or Vietnamese. They’ll end up culturally white, just as previous migrant waves that used to be considered “non-white” did. The Italians. The Eastern Europeans. The Jews. The Irish. This is not a new story.

    Watch that “proto-fascism” label. If you help make relatively peaceful ejection of the suicidalists by men and women of goodwill impossible by equating it with fascism, you’ll be helping guarantee that the job gets done by people far nastier than Ann Coulter — real fascists with truncheons. I don’t think either of us wants to see that. But it’s what’s coming if more civilized means of cultural self-preservation fail, so don’t help them fail.

    • We most certainly do NOT assimilate nonwhite immigrants. What lies you tell! Or, they “assimilate” to welfare state benefits and “victimological politics” and Democratic voting.

      ENOUGH with neocon lies! A long period of authoritarian conservatism is all that can save the West. Trump, a good and fine man and patriot, is the tip of the iceberg of what’s necessary.

      • >Or, they “assimilate” to welfare state benefits and “victimological politics” and Democratic voting.

        Counterexamples: East Asians and Indians.

        It ain’t the “nonwhiteness” that’s the problem, it’s the subpopulaton’s average IQ level and time preference. White racialism mistakes the superficial for this fundamental.

        >(even though many classical liberal insights possess enduring validity … WITHIN White societies, not multicultural ones).

        Again, you’re fixating on superficialities. It’s not the whiteness that matters here, it’s low time preference. Classical liberalism is, roughly speaking, the natural politics of people who are both genetically and culturally equipped for long-term reciprocity – Rapport’s tit-for-tat strategy with a “cooperate” default.

        • “Counterexamples: East Asians and Indians.”

          Yes, there haven’t been repeated cases of Chinese selling out the US government to China.

          As for Indians, they are more clannish and nepotistic then Jews. They are also taking over the SJW racket.

          “White racialism mistakes the superficial for this fundamental.”

          If it wasn’t for the foreigners, Scotland would be independent of England. The history of Europe shows the ethnic group is a level of attachment for most people- not sure why people who are even less related should be expected to cooperate.

          ” Classical liberalism is, roughly speaking, the natural politics of people who are both genetically and culturally equipped for long-term reciprocity – Rapport’s tit-for-tat strategy with a “cooperate” default.”

          Classical liberalism exists to justify seizing power from monarchs. It has no bearing to what the natural politics of anyone is.

  12. The key difference between the U.S. and Europe isn’t that white people here are breeding a lot faster, but that we actually assimilate our fast-breeding immigrants, even when they’re Mexicans or Vietnamese. They’ll end up culturally white, just as previous migrant waves that used to be considered “non-white” did. The Italians. The Eastern Europeans. The Jews. The Irish. This is not a new story.

    Ever read about the pressure to assimilate those earlier waves washed up against? There’s some interesting background to it here. I do wonder if the current Hispanic wave is going to pick up the torch with quite the enthusiasm you seem to be expecting of them. Though the ‘reconquista’ folks are probably overstating their case.

    Watch that “proto-fascism” label. If you help make relatively peaceful ejection of the suicidalists by men and women of goodwill impossible by equating it with fascism, you’ll be helping guarantee that the job gets done by people far nastier than Ann Coulter — real fascists with truncheons.

    At least they’d make the trains run on time. I’m all Godwinned out by “Islamofascism”, unfortunately. Anyway it’s hardly a label, more a sort of smell. You seem to be talking about destroying people’s careers here, which was an early Nazi staple IIRC, though it’ll be difficult if they don’t come out with ill-considered Ward Churchillisms you can beat them with. Liberals are a bit dispersed in the US for a good old-fashioned pogrom to be practical, as well, but where there’s a will…

  13. “Pogroms?”

    No one is talking about pogroms on the right; such language almost invariably comes from the left. While you might say “Well, they’re the ones suffering it” I don’t buy this logic for several reasons.

    First, partisans on the hard left pay little price for even the most extreme and repugnant statements. For example, what price has Ward Churchill or Cindy Sheehan paid? Ward’s had some people looking into his background claims (and finding he’s a few cards short of a full deck) but both have become celebrities on the left. Shouldn’t these people at *least* be suffering some mild intimidation before the hard lefties go on screaming about “pogroms” and “jack-booted thugs”? Being actively disliked by your political opponents is not “oppression” – it is the expected outcome of saying things that are purposely offensive to them. Talk to me when Churchill and Sheehan are in prison as “enemies of the state.”

    Second, the Centrists and the Right know very well what game these people are playing. It is the “scream” game where those who really don’t want all the trouble and controversy (the majority – especially in the Center) just throw their hands up and walk away. The problem is that, after all the screaming, we end up abandoning some once-vital cultural institutions to decay into irrelevance. The extemist claims, in essence, are just a way to try to intimidate others into leaving the hard left to its Gramscian project.

    Third, no real program of social control gets implemented by subtle “manipulations of the discourse” and other such Po-Mo nonsense (not that ‘manipulations of the discourse’ don’t exist, just that they don’t amount to oppression in any meaningful sense). Indeed, the entire literature of “hidden oppression” and “cultural discourses” that makes up the bulk of the Po-Mo canon is just so much masturbatory intellectual fantasy. When a society such as ours doesn’t experience enough injustice to create the updraft that they need to take flight, the hard lefties try to torch the culture to create it themselves.

    Finally, all societies involve a fair amount of political pig wrestling where ideas get injected, debated, accepted or rejected; interests get advanced or trampled; and where some people suffer injustices because their beliefs or practices are found repugnant by the majority. Free societies experience more of this than other forms of social organization. The hard lefties have found a way to game the system using the memes that Eric has discussed. By wrapping themselves in the mantle of “protector of the oppressed” they exploit the inevitable fact that all societies have a gap between its ideals and its muddy realities. This strategy is particularly powerful in America because it effectively harnesses our culture’s obsession with fairness. Having stepped into this breach, they use their position to browbeat their critics and advance their own narrow interests. To the extent that they do gain control, however, the result is oppression of a far less subtle nature. Indeed, you don’t need to resort to “manipulations of discourse” and “subtle structures of oppression” to see the injustice in hard left political orders: oppression stands astride the populace with an AK-47 cocked and the barbed wire at the ready.

  14. One more thing. There is an excellent article in a related vein here:

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=010804A

    It’s focus is more on fascism but you can see the affinity with the idea of pernicious memes. I’d highly recommend that you read it, especially if you are tempted to buy into the idea that we are seeing a sort of “proto-fascism” in America’s liberal capitalist society.

    (Eric – I think that you’ll particularly like it if you haven’t read it already).

  15. ESR Takes Nuanced Idea, Jumps On It With All 17 Feet. Film at 11.

    Add to your list of Stalinist-inspired memes the civil rights movement, which was Red from top to bottom. There’s also the current set of Trotskyists setting policy in this government — we know them all too well, better than you do. Spying on your own people is just the beginning.

    “Having an arsonist for a grandfather may bequeath you a nose for smoke.”

  16. Islam is not immune to those memes that left European Christianity an hollow shell, many of which are rife on the Left, and it si now being exposed to them.

    Europe may well go through dark times, again, but there’s a good chance Islam will lose its fire in the process, hopefully before the West is aroused to holy war. As the collision of Islam with Hindu memes produced Sikhism, a less virulent religion than Islam, so its collision with the memes of the western Left, and Right, should produce a meme-system nearly harmless.

  17. WildMonk, I suspect there’s an interesting discussion lying around here somewhere, but you’ve taken my post and extrapolated it to whole other realms of fantasy that have less than zero connection to what I actually wrote. I’m sure there’s a special latin name from debate class for saying that I said something I didn’t say and then responding to that instead of what I actually said., but I’m at a loss to recall it.

    For the record

    “You seem so sure that these people – being so far below your level of cognitive skill – are just
    waiting for the right people to say the right things, apologize the right way and to make appropriate
    amends (a few billion in aid, perhaps).”

    is not even REMOTELY my point of view. On the contrary, I believe that people are all more-or-less equally driven by emotions no matter what part of the world they’re from. And frankly

    “You are a walking, spouting example of exactly the kinds of weak thinking described in the source
    article (but, truly, you don’t have to be – keep reading Heinlein).”

    is so rude that I can’t see how you how you could have been that rude by accident.

    As for “they are pissed off about the Crusades”, well, hell, WHY WOULDN’T THEY BE? If Muslim armies landed in the US and started killing and looting, there would be nuclear missiles and emotionally-retarded invective launched in a New York second.

    “They are pissed off about a lot of things that you (and we) simply cannot fix
    without either dying or giving up and living as Dhimmis.”

    I disagree. The point of my entire post was that by being ideologically more neutral and carefully opening and strengthening economic ties, we can slowly reduce the antagonistic posture of all the parties involved. We can build co-operative relationships. We don’t have to “defeat” the “villains”. We can become business partners with people. People are less likely to attack others when doing so would hurt themselves, and eventually those economic ties can become stronger, turning into alliances and even genuine friendships.

    “… they believe that the West has turned decidely weak. And they are right… we are stronger than they can ever dream of being.”

    That seems like a contradiction, but presuming that it’s not, I ask you this. If we are that strong, what do we have to worry about? This nation sounds, on an international scale, like just as big a bunch of religious nuts as the people we claim to be fighting. Even if the only values you want to apply to this situation are pragmatic and maniplulative, that’s remarkably stupid just from a PR standpoint. I’d like to see the US stand up for idealism, but if we can’t do that, we should at least be against stupidity.

    • I have listened carefully to both sides.

      – Standing up for idealism is stupidity.
      – Standing up for reality is smartness.

      I think that covers it.

  18. Geno

    I was extremely tired when I wrote what I did so my apologies if I didn’t catch everything in the spirit that you meant it. When you said that we’re “on the wrong side of history” though, it kind of set me off. The U.S. is one of history’s leading examples of liberal, democratic capitalist states. All three tendencies are, in their own respective categories, the most humane and materially productive ways of organizing a state. Knowing this, how do you conclude that we are on the “wrong side of history” unless you believe that shackles and chains are mankind’s normal or inevitable state?

    You disagree with the comment about people in the M.E. waiting for us to say the “right things” (the “below your level of cognitive skill was a gratuitous – I’m sorry). But I’m not sure how else to interpret your comments. You seem to believe it superior to yield – to be non-confrontative in the hopes that this will somehow avoid the creation of Jihadists. I don’t get this at all. Leaving out the bit about cognitive skill, isn’t this exactly what you propose as an alternative to Bush’s direct confrontation with the violent Jihadists? If not, then what is?

    RE: Weak thinking – if you read the article you’ll understand this to be a technical, Po-Mo term and I did mean it in that sense. I can’t claim innocence WRT the intent to insult but I can at least apologize (which I do) and point out that it is not meant as the simple insult that you may have thought (which I didn’t – you are obviously a smart person).

    See, if you really believe that all societies, cultures and expressions are philosophically equal you’ll end up being either cornered into concluding that all that matters is the will to power (again, used in its technical meaning) or you’ll be forced to adopt Rorty’s “weak thinking.” If you start from these assumptions AND you retreat from the sword, then you must end up with weak thinking. It is in that sense that I wrote what I did. Personally, I reject the underlying assumption and I am pretty certain that Robert Heinlein would as well!

    Tell me seriously that the Muslims should be “pissed off about the Crusades”. Really, I want to hear the conclusion as to why this is relevant when the events were roughly 1000 years ago. Furthermore, why the hell isn’t the West pissed off about the Siege of Vienna?? Why aren’t we pissed off about the Siege of Jerusalem? Christianity was in retreat for about 300 years before the first Crusade and Christians were slaughtered or forceably converted by the tens of thousands. Should I be pissed off too? Islam was an expansionist power, Geno. While the Crusades were often needlessly bloody you can say the *exact* same thing about the period of Islamic expansionism: from the founding right on through the Siege of Vienna!

    WRT being “more neutral and carefully opening and strengthening economics ties” – I am almost speechless. These people threaten nuclear annihilation, behead bound captives, slaughter women and children indiscriminately, and threaten the same for Christians and Jews. And you want to be “more neutral”?? As far as carefully opening economic ties – their entire economic infrastructure was developed by the West and, in essence, handed over to whichever local sheik happened to be in the area. We’ve given them trillions of dollars in wealth simply for being in the right place at the right time, what more “strengthening” do you want? We are, in every respect, their sponsor and patron and yet as soon as they began recieving this excess wealth, they began funding a further expansion of fundamentalist Islam and aggressive pan-Arabism.

    This is my whole point: everything they have done over the past 50 years bespeaks a confident, expansionist power willing to shed enormous amounts of blood for no more reason than the thrill of watching Infidels die. While nominally Islamic, they are actually no more than radical nihilists. Are we strong enough to outlast them? Yes. But I am not willing to see innocent people die while we make nice with them out of some misplaced guilt over the Crusades or the Shah of Iran or whatever fashionably America-bashing reason someone comes up with tomorrow.

  19. > I can just see Bush going “Eenie, meenie, minie, mo”. Sadly, even if America does gets hit, it’s still going to need the oil for the foreseeable future, which is likely to introduce constraints on using nukes as freely as the imagination might permit.

    Unlike the Israelis, the US has more nukes than targets, so the “eenie, meenie” is merely prioritization.

    Adrian10 seems to think that the US couldn’t take the oil it needs. While we don’t have any experience as a traditional colonial power, who does he think can stop us? If we did try, does he think that the Euros would refuse to buy from us or oppose us militarily? Would the Chinese refuse their share and fight for some “common good”? Since the Russians are self-sufficient, would they even care?

  20. Andy – you hit on a good point. For all the Chomskyite talk about how America is a source of oppression in the Middle East, there is little doubt that a *real* hegemonic power would have simply occupied the region and pumped its oil without concern for the people living there.

    • It would have been better if we had done just that. Pump and ignore. It seems to me that giving Muslim societies the trillions of dollars from oil is like giving five year olds loaded handguns. What good has Islam done with all that wealth … other than buy private jets, huge yachts and massive militarily. Zero!

      They pump oil and ignore the people who live there.

      This is a society that goes down the public square to cheer on the weekly beheadings. Think about that.

  21. A Russian friend growing up as a teen in the Soviet Union said that the meme on everyone’s lips was, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” They’ve gone thru the worst and it appears they’ve rejected that.

    It’s hit the West hard now.

    That’s the meme to root out, completely and thoroughly and it will only happen if we do it one by one, IMO.

  22. Adrian10 seems to think that the US couldn’t take the oil it needs. While we don’t have any experience as a traditional colonial power, who does he think can stop us?

    Andy Freeman, forever in the third person for some reason (the desire not to actually address someone tainted with liberalism? Who can say), should read Twain on the Philippines if he thinks America is innocent of colonialism (there’s also the little matter of the 19th century land grab, but apparently that ‘”doesn’t count” for a lot of people).

    Your government undoubtedly has the *technical* means to clearcut the populations of the ME and set up colonies of oil technicians in radiation suits there (though I doubt you’ve thought through the economics of it), but I don’t think you could live with yourselves if you did (I don’t necessarily mean you personally, I suspect some people posting here would have no problems whatsoever). Your illusion of yourselves as the Good Guys would take a hit from which there would be no return. Something really bad would have to happen to you first – and I don’t reckon even nuclear terrorism would be enough.

    This is actually a compliment, when you think about it.

  23. “Pogroms?”

    No one is talking about pogroms on the right; such language almost invariably comes from the left. While you might say “Well, they’re the ones suffering it” I don’t buy this logic for several reasons.

    You’re getting carried away here. My point was that yer classical pogroms *aren’t practical* in a US context, other than against ghettoized groups. But some kind of adaptation – perhaps using the Internet (enough emails saying “we know where you live” would spook me, for one) would be another thing. Any political movement adapts to its environment.

    By *proto*-fascism, I mean exactly that – the *potential* for fascism to develop, if enough Americans get enough of a sense of grievance about something. They’re a long way from it atm. But there seems to be an increase in meanness in the discourse, and a withering of trust on both sides, that worries me slightly. A smell, IOW.

    Is Sheehan really hard left? I thought she was just antiwar/antiBush.

  24. “… apologies if I didn’t catch everything in the spirit that you meant it.” — Apology accepted, sir; it’s behind us.

    “The U.S. is one of history’s leading examples of liberal, democratic capitalist states.” — I agree with this. I’ve already said why I believe we’re on the wrong side of history. We are handling international affairs in a remarkably incompetent manner. We are responding to threats emotionally instead of rationally. The damage done to US reputation and credibility by the Bush administration’s mishandling of terrorism — including lying about MWDs, hyperbolic rhetoric, the deliberate conflation of al-Qaeda and Iraq, and turning away from our own ideals to the point of passing the flamboyantly bad Patriot Act — will take a century to undo.

    “You seem to believe it superior to yield – to be non-confrontative in the hopes that this will somehow avoid the creation of Jihadists.” — I believe this to be true, although I might say “reduce” rather than “avoid”, and I am suggesting not that we yield as in “surrender”, but yield as in “be flexible”, “be moderate”. I have no reason to believe that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” doesn’t apply to politics. Once again, why make it easier for the bad guys to recruit, hide among locals, or have local grass-roots support by having bad PR?

    Think of it as geopolitical Aikido. If we attack irrationally, if we look violent and ideological, we lose credibility with allies — from nations like France to shopkeepers in downtown Baghdad — who can help us in the fight. If we use more subtle economic methods, if we seek the positive instead of fighting the negative, we strengthen our old alliances and build new ones. A government that thinks of us as a trading partner has incentive to stop violent groups (or even to stop funding them), to keep the money flowing smoothly. A nation of people who buy American goods don’t provide terrorists as solid a crowd to blend into.

    “.. if you read the article you’ll understand this to be a technical, Po-Mo term and I did mean it in that sense.” — My education is somewhat scattershot and informal, I didn’t catch the reference. Hell, I had to look up “po-mo”. :-)

    “See, if you really believe that all societies, cultures and expressions are philosophically equal…” — I do and I don’t. At a pure intellectual level, of course I do. All formalism is dependent on premises, and premises are arbitrary, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam, and please! can the mountain be a mountain again? On a personal level, I don’t believe that at all. I have my own beliefs and preferences, and like most people, I’m convinced the world will be a better place when everybody gets with the Geno program. :-)

    “… you’ll end up being either cornered into concluding that all that matters is the will to power (again, used in its technical meaning)” — I’m not sure how to read “all that matters”. The will to power just is; what life does is the will to power, pretty much by definition. People believe what they choose and do what they choose, and they do it from instinctive need, not rational thought. I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing.

    “If you start from these assumptions AND you retreat from the sword, then you must end up with weak thinking.” — I am completely pro-sword. But sometimes the way to victory is to put down a sword and pick up a gun. My problem is that we’re not using our big guns: our ideals, our intelligence, our rationality and our reputation. The military is the weapon of last resort. It’s the two-by-four you pick up when an intruder breaks into your home because you didn’t prevent the break-in in the first place.

    “Tell me seriously that the Muslims should be ‘pissed off about the Crusades'”. — I didn’t say they should be, I asked why wouldn’t they. You can’t solve this situation without dealing with people’s emotions. Right now, we are the guys on top. We are the ones with both the responsibily to improve things and the intellectual, emotional and productive resources to do so. And we are perceived as bullies instead of benefactors by the guys on the bottom, where these problems originate. There are always going to be alienated youth, frustrated misfits, and so on. Why should we allow to continue circumstances that let those people focus on us? It may be cold and calculating of me, but I’d rather an alienated youth slit his wrists and kill one person, I’d rather a frustrated misfit gun down his co-workers in the Baghdad Post Office and kill 10 or 20 people, than see those people EASILY turn their self-hatred into hatred of the US and 2800 deaths in one day because we are being boorish and common.

    And sadly, we are an easy target for these people because we have drifted away from even paying lip service to the ideals of the US founders. We’ve gone from treasuring strength-from-diversity, moderation and friendly relations to openly showing contempt for other peoples and other nations.

    “Islam was an expansionist power” — I hold the same beliefs about Islam then. (I hope that parses. :-)) When Islam was on top, at its most advanced, they had the same obligation of generosity that we now have. The obligation to live up to their ideals. They too drifted. That doesn’t make it okay for us to do it now. The idea that we can do it now because they did it then smacks of revenge, not punishment and deterrence. Let’s say I don’t care at all one way or another about the terrorists. (This is close to true; there are always these people, and I don’t believe in living in fear.) Revenge and other forms of immoderation are bad for US (uppercasing pun intended).

    “These people threaten nuclear annihilation, behead bound captives, slaughter women and children indiscriminately, and threaten the same for Christians and Jews.” — These people are a small minority. The vast bulk of Muslims are just like the vast bulk of Christians. Maybe they’re open minded and tolerant, maybe they’re not. But they mostly want to go about their lives and be happy in their particular ways. Politicians want to be well-liked and get re-elected. Shopkeepers want people to shop so they can make money. Workers want to have a decent job at a decent wage and come home and relax. If we were properly building bridges with the politicians ans shopkeepers and workers, we’d have much less of a problem with the minority of terrorists.

    “… everything they have done over the past 50 years bespeaks a confident, expansionist power willing to shed enormous amounts of blood for no more reason than the thrill of watching Infidels die.” — I just can’t believe that. They’re not that different from us. There are terrorists that feel that way, but the terrorists can’t operate if the confident, expansionist power they live in and operate from are on the US’s side instead of the terrorists side.

    “America-bashing” — I don’t believe this was directed at me, but I want to make something perfectly clear. The degree to which I may criticize the US government is strictly the degree to which it deviates from the Founders’ ideals. I don’t hate the United States. I just miss it.

  25. Interesting series E.R.

    But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin’s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.

    Well then a fundamental question, if you hold that such memes adhere to Dawkin’s imperatives, is : what perceived utility do they convey to their hosts? A successful meme will putatively demonstrate a high degree of fidelity in replication, an optimized rate of replication, and ‘longevity’. The utility criteria, as I understand it, entails a subjective belief in the benefit of retaining and transmitting the meme ( longevity & replication ) – that it is perceived as useful towards some goal(s) esteemed by the host.

    A likely criticism of the application of a memetic model to suicidalism is that such memes are maladaptive. That their transmission will incur significant social costs, and that they contradict prominent psycho-evolutionary influences involving self defense and territoriality. While gene v. meme competition is accommodated by memetics, there is a conservative principle which holds that impedance with inveterate genetically motivated memetic complexes will tend to thwart the adoption of a meme ( Coherence ) .

  26. Try reading “Necessary
    Illutions” and “Manufacturing Consent”
    by Prof. Noam Chomsky.

    Think you could argue
    with him ? I dare you
    try it!

  27. Well, here in spain we have a perfect Suicidalist goverment, our President talks about Alliance of Civilization to understand islamic terrorism (obiusly caused by poverty), our Minister of Defence says that he prefers to be killed than to kill, and Minister for Foreign Affairs friends are Venezuela, Cuba, Palestina, Siria…

    You should be happy.

  28. One more thing. There is an excellent article in a related vein here:

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=010804A

    Yeah, yeah, and I’m sure Eric will like it, but it’s a bit glib for me. And it may be that today’s liberals have strange subterranean connections back to fascism in an “A was influenced by B, and B by C, and C by D…” way (and let’s not forget that the neocons started out on the left). But the two little things that Hitler had at his disposal which made all the rest possible were the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe, and I do not see any equivalent force in the hands of the sorry band of college professors, Hollywood celebrities and insufficiently pro-war journalists to whose doors you seem to have managed to track everything that’s wrong in the world today. On the other hand, I *do* see such a force somewhere else, and I tend to reserve my suspicions for the motives of the guys who are directing it, however much they say they’re doing so in everyone’s best interests.

  29. > Andy Freeman, forever in the third person for some reason (the desire not to actually address someone tainted with liberalism? Who can say),

    Few people confuse writing about someone’s comments with writing to that person.

    > should read Twain on the Philippines if he thinks America is innocent of colonialism

    Andrian10 seems to confuse “an American exploited some non-Americans” with “America has significant experience as a colonial power”.

    >(there’s also the little matter of the 19th century land grab, but apparently that ‘”doesn’t count” for a lot of people).

    It doesn’t because “the West” became part of America – colonies don’t. (The changing definition of “the West” in American history is somewhat interesting. In some cases, the “wild frontier” is in upstate NY.) Or, is Adrian10 suggesting that separatist loons are correct, that “the West” is “occupied” by the oppressive easterners and should be liberated? Or does he believe in Aztlan?

  30. Nice attempt, it manages to grab a potpourri of “for dummies” and layman books and papers on everything from evolution to unabombing, doing for blogs what Terry Pratchett did for DEATH and Shakespeare.

    But I missed the stuff about people in key positions being lizards more typical of successful work in this genre.

  31. ESR,

    am interested to know why you use the notation CE, and not AD — or are you being ironic? I am not defending the latter from a religious point of view, just wondering why you side with the politically correct academics on this one…

  32. >Yeah, yeah, and I’m sure Eric will like it, but it’s a bit glib for me.

    Actually, that was my reaction too. But then, the intimate connections between classical Fascism and the modern left have been too obvious to me for far too long for me to find this kind of argument very interesting. It’s a good thing for the less historically-aware to see, though.

  33. 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.

    The fact that the first two lost suggests to me that we’re right to disregard the effectiveness of memetic warfare and concentrate on the underlying reality. In the case of terrorism, that underlying reality is that the hard-core nutters can only be effective if there’s a large pool of support for them. OBL may indeed hate the West because of the Crusades and the end of the Caliphate, but people only listen to him in large numbers because of the “root causes” that you so denigrate.

    [FWIW, I don’t believe any of the things on the list of “Soviet memetic weapons” as absolute truths, but I do believe they can be useful ideas to bear in mind. There is truth, but there are also competing agendas that obscure that truth. Your agenda may not be the one that’s closest to the truth. And as for “we deserve to be destroyed because we are the oppressors” – no, we are the oppressors, and we should stop, not least because it’s hurting us as well as them.]

    • Chomsky flogs the failed philosophy of a dead tyrant.
      What a waste, he probably would have made a good bus driver or perhaps a short order cook. That way he would have done something worthwhile rather than destroy the college years of so many young people.

  34. adrian10: You need to study american nuclear history more, the only three nuclear explosions set off in the state I live in were not weapons tests, but attempts to increase oil and nautral gas production in wells by using a nuke to fracture the surronding rock. The resulting glow in the dark gas didn’t sell well, but it did provide significant data on what level of irradiation is “too much”. Bearing this data in mind I have no doubt our targeting cells could pick off the mullahs while leaving 90% or more of the nautral resources (and more importantly, the transportation infrastructure) in a recoverable state.

  35. Based on my childhood and teenage experiences in Communist Hungary, I think ESR is basically right.

    I think a lot of Americans have the mistake of thinking of the late Soviet Union as big, strong, stupid, aggressive giant – something kinda like the neighborhood brute. And while the claims of aggression and cruelty are of course true – we felt it in 1956 – these ideas are missing the point. Brutality was in the picture and it was of course the most painful part of the system, but wasn’t the most important one. The most important, most typical, and most effective part of the system were deceit, lying, “desinformatsiya”, camouflage, and so on. We called it agitprop. It is a short form of “agitation and propaganda”. It derives from the 40’s – when Communist agitated poor peasants to get them into a state of hating more wealthy peasants. Agitprop was kinda official word – The Party had an official agitprop department. There even were women called “agitka” – women who completely believed the official line and ran around preaching it. This word has a female connotation because 1) women somehow became more fanatic believers in the agitprop than men, I don’t know why 2) agitka’s were easy to get in bed with: one just had to mirror their beliefs and there you go :-) There is no male version of agitka, one called male commies “boss” at work and “assholes” in the pub.

    So, yes, agitprop was a more important aspect of Communism than tanks and MiG’s. I’d suggest to use the word agitprop instead of desinformatsiya, as desinformatsiya is what the KGB feeds to the CIA, while agitprop is what normal people and intellectuals feed to other normal people and intellectuals. It’s the same level of lying, but a different level of theoreticalness and professionality.

  36. Maybe I did not express myself clear enough: of course propaganda is a key part to every dictatorship. But in the average dictatorship agitprop is only a tool to keep the oppressed people calm – it is a defense tool. Dictatorships generally don’t use agitprop for offensive, they have tanks to do this job. Goebbels’s propaganda was only used to provide explanation of what the Nazis did by brute force. It was used to “justify” the use of force, not as a weapon in itself. It was a defensive measure.

    But Communism was different. While Marx thought the proletariat would “wake up” just itself, just by the dialectics of history, Lenin introduced the concept of the Communist elite: only a small group of people can understand the goings of history and they have to “educate” the proletariat into supporting them. This is why the ideology was called Marxism-Leninism, because Lenin introduced a lot of new concepts, the most important being the one that not the forces of history, but only the direct agitprop of Communists can get the proletariat to make a revolution. Agitprop was deeply set in the mind of Soviet Communists. They thought agitprop is a lot more than explaining what the goverment does. They thought it is a clever social weapon that induces revolution. It was a core concept of Communism that agitprop is an offensive, and not just