The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
SDB was amazingly perceptive in that piece.
This convergence was visible at the time to men like SDB, but is now parading itself in plain sight in the words of the purported bin-Laden.
And yet, Osama bin Laden is a staunch conservative and profoundly illiberal.
And when it comes to topics such as religion in government & schools, belief that God is on their side, dividing the world between believers and unbelievers, use of force as a means of propagating a world view, the role of women in society, gay marriage, homosexuality, hatred of liberalism and a host of other topics, bin Laden exhibits a "disturbing ideological convergence" with the Religious Right in this country.
What does it say it about the Progressive Left and the Religious Right that bin Laden shares views with both? Absolutely nothing, really.
Agreed. And I still think that folks on the right are wasting their time on these connections.
There is a similarity of rhetoric between the archetypal "religious Right" leader and the ideas of bin Laden.
Yet there is little evidence that the "religious Right" is a monoculture, nor that the leaders of the "religious Right" are doing much to aid and abet the mission of the radical Islamists (bin Laden and other students of Sayyad Qutb) in their mission to remake the world.
If anything, the religious conservatives of the West are unlikely allies of the materialists/realists that Steve den Beste characterizes as the driving force behind Western capitalist/humanist ideology.
(If you read den Beste's article, you might notice that he spends a fair amount of time detailing how such unlikely allies came together, and how the combination of printing technology and the philosophy he calls realism converged with the growth of Protestant theology in Europe.)
What is noticed in all cases is not merely a similarity of rhetoric, but a similarity of apparent mission. Both the Progressive Left and the global Islamist front seek to radically alter the global balance of power. Both seem to act as if American dominance is the source of the great evils in international politics.
Whatever the differences between certain agnostics/humanists/atheists and the religious conservatives known as the "religious Right" within America, they have the ability to agree that America is not the primary source of evil on the international scale.
Of course, neither the agnostic/humanist/atheist front nor the religious conservative front are unified monoliths of opinion inside America. Nor is the Progressive Left a unified monolithic front.
But they can be used as an approximation to aid in describing the way that political and social groups order themselves in the Western world.
America is NOT the source of the great evils in international politics. It is one player in a game of many that, for the most part, engaged in a quest for power and domination. It's child like, petty, materialistic, and ultimately spiritually bankrupt. bin Laden talks a good game but he is just the same. All leaders are, more or less.
The good news is that within America, and I'm sure other countries, there are good people whose intentions are desirous of freedom. Let's find some and elect them!!
"(America is) child like, petty, materialistic, and ultimately spiritually bankrupt." - Markadelphia
"For anyone subscribing to the basic pragmatism of Empiricism, there is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that it (socialism) doesn't work the way Marx and the Socialists claim it will. But for p-idealists, a long pattern of failure is irrelevant. If the theory is elegant, then it has to be true. If it failed, there was some other reason why.
"Even for p-idealists, it has become more and more difficult to ignore the empirical evidence that socialism is a failure and that capitalism isn't going to destroy itself. But that leads to cognitive dissonance, because teleologically speaking capitalism is inelegant, and thus should fail, while socialism is clean and beautiful, and thus should succeed. Since it hasn't worked out that way, it raises the possibility that teleology itself might be invalid. But teleology is a priori true, since it is elegant and thus must be true. Besides which, if it's all wrong, the consequences would be terrible.
"P-idealists and Islamists do not view each other kindly. To Islamists, p-idealists are decadent, sinful, self-indulgent infidels who must eventually be forced to live according to the tenets of extremist Islam. P-idealists see Islamists as brutal, dogmatic, intolerant, sexist, racist, every-other-negative-ist, excessively violent, and unconscionably militant. (Not to mention religious, which to p-idealists is a sign of mental weakness.) But their mutual loathing pales by comparison to how they feel about Empiricism, because Empiricism has grown more and more powerful with time." - Steven Den Beste, Inelegance
Recognize anyone there?
I am no fan of the religious right, neither of religious extremists of any sort, to begin with. And this discussion is not about them.
There is more than a mere convergence of rethoric between the p-idealists and the Islamists; they share some goals - to riduce the power of the Empiricist side and increase their own. And they even share some elements of their worldviews (though differ radically on others).
And that's why the p-idealists most often oppose a massive viscous resistance every time time the empiricists act against islamism.
Yeah, that's right Kevin. You've found me out. I secretly want an oppresive totaleterian regime that will force us all to do the bidding of insane men like bin Laden. Sheesh...
It's no secret.
"I secretly want an oppresive totaleterian regime that will force us all to do the bidding of insane men like bin Laden."
Nope. Putting words in someone else's mouth again. You have advocated on numerous occasions socialistic ideals. You fit this description: "(F)or p-idealists, a long pattern of failure is irrelevant. If the theory is elegant, then it has to be true. If it failed, there was some other reason why." Your comment about America being child-like, materialistic, and spiritually bankrupt fits well into this description: "(T)eleologically speaking capitalism is inelegant, and thus should fail, while socialism is clean and beautiful, and thus should succeed." when matched with much of what you've written both here and at your blog.
I have never said (nor do I believe) that you want "an oppresive totaleterian(sic) regime that will force us all to do the bidding of insane men like bin Laden." I just believe that much of what you support will lead us there, with no ill intent on your part at all.
It is my hope that what I support will lead us to a Rodenberryesque vision of the future, not towards the evident evils of what communism and socialism have brought in the past.
Wouldn't you like a world like Star Trek?
Not just no, not just HELL NO, but FUCKIN A ARE YOU KIDDING ME, OH HELL FUCKING NO.
Set Phasers on Give Me A Break.
To give my soundbite far more meat, this is not a good thing. Roddenberry was a writer. He Wrote. Somewhat successfully. Sometimes not. Ripped off a few people (Go check out the Theme Song to Star Trek sometime - wrote lyrics to screw Alexander Courage out of his share.) I hope you don't crack on Scientologists for their belief in ELRON....
Yes, I know you want a magic world with replicators and warp drives and tribbles.
But. It. Ain't. That. Simple. Warp drives break the smitty out of Physics. We keep running around with you, because you do want a magic world, in a world where magic doesn't exist.
(If you really want to talk ST, are you talking the totally insane economic world postulated in ST:TNG, or the not-as-whacked-out ST:TOS?)
It's great to talk about "Wow, let's go to Utopia".
No Mark, I wouldn'tStar Trek is for pussies. I want to be a fucking Jedi if anything.
A Jedi craves not these things.
I'd have enough of individual electro-magnetic guns, thanks.
Socialism may work in a place where things can be obtained with a negligible use of resources. May, because human nature is always ready to screw up the best laid plans.
But while we muse about dreams, the Islamists firmly think that their perfect society is attainable. Just some more bombings and beheadings and those bloody kuffar will finally see the light...
James Lileks: "Personally, I’m interested in keeping other people from building Utopia, because the more you believe you can create heaven on earth the more likely you are to set up guillotines in the public square to hasten the process."
Besides, Star Trek is fascist. ;)
I far prefer Firefly.
"Star Trek is for pussies."
And more to the point, Star Trek was filled with idiots. I'll give you a few examples:
Captain Kirk: A spineless coward who charged into every situation with his shields down, depending for the safety of his ship and crew on the benevolence of whatever he encountered. If he were in the real Navy, that of the United States, he would have been cashiered for hazarding his vessel.
Spock: Illogical as hell (pardon the redundancy). If he were logical, he would have screamed (i.e. you gotta establish contact before you can impart wisdom), "Jim, you're a blithering idiot! Pull you head out of your ass and raise your shields! What the hell do you think they're for?"
Scotty: Couldn't fix a goddamned thing such that it stayed fixed. In the real Navy, that of the United States, he'd have been a motor machinist's made, second class, on a PT boat. But, he talked a good talk, and everyone else aboard was stupid enough to believe him.
But, I digress. The question was:
"Wouldn't you like a world like Star Trek?"
NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. NEVER.
Star Trek is Hollywood, you pathetic fool.
Yes, you are:
"It is my hope that what I support will lead us to a Rodenberryesque vision of the future ..."
We have long accused you of having little understanding of reality, and you have given us our best indication yet of how far your head is stuck up Hollywood Boulevard. If you're gonna support political efforts, I suggest you support efforts that have at least some possibility of conforming to the laws of physics.
Wanna be accused of being utterly irrelevant? It's easy. Just keep up this line of non-reasoning.
Hey Mark, In your version of Roddenberry's future, who gets to be the red-shirts?
I don't think I'd care to be a subject of the all-powerful federation...
I'm with Kevin re Firefly; much more individual liberty in that universe...
And I ain't sayin' most Trekkies are pedophiles, but it seems that a disproportionate amount of child molesters are Trekkies.
Let's not go where this appears to be leading....
(Edited to add)
But this quote is interesting:
"According to Dr. Peter Mezan, a psychoanalyst in New York City, 'There is an impulse that is common to perversion and to utopian thinking. The wish is to create a world in which differences make no difference. The great utopian thinkers have been immensely inspiring, but there is a reason that utopian communities have never worked out. In the name of equality of every sort and in the attempt to eliminate the tensions that normally divide us, they propose to create a marvelously unnatural world without the usual boundaries. But then it gets all fucked up.' "
Err, well, yes.
Boldly where no man has before?
I get goosebumps at the mere thought of Red Dwarf fan fiction...
And if you don't know what fan fiction is, please consider your ignorance as a bless.
Wow. So is it safe to assume that I can perversion and child molestation to terrorist, looney, dimwit, and useful idiot?
Ah, well. I hate to dissapoint but I'm just a pretty average guy with some ideas on how to make the world a better place. I'm not stuck in the idealogy of Richard Perle or Bill Kristol. Nor am I stuck in the idealogy of Moveon.org or the Daily Kos.
Star Wars and Firefly are pretty cool as well. Loads of good stuff in those films and shows. Hey, wasn't the plot of Star Wars I-III about a politician (Palpatine) who stages an attack against his own government in order to seize power in a fascist like way? Hmmm....yeah I do like those films a great deal.
Kevin B, I forgot I wanted to repsond to this comment:
"Your comment about America being child-like, materialistic, and spiritually bankrupt fits well into this description: "(T)eleologically speaking capitalism is inelegant, and thus should fail, while socialism is clean and beautiful, and thus should succeed." when matched with much of what you've written both here and at your blog"
When I say America is child like, I mean it more from the pre-operational stage from Jean Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Learning.
During this stage (ages 2-7) children are extraordinarily egocentric. They simply cannot perceive things from another's point of view. Similarly, many Americans have a difficult time seeing things from another culture's perspective. It is this tendancy that has lead to a profound lack of understanding, glaringly evident in our current leadership, which ultimately has done us great harm.
I'm just a pretty average guy with some ideas on how to make the world a better place.
I'm sorry, but no. You're not.
Seriously. You just admitted it.
You have ideas on what would be a better place.
But you don't understand how to get there. And as such, well, yes, that does tend to make you what the Soviets considered a "useful idiot". Someone who wanted something, and could be convinced that their desire was reachable! Via.. of course, Communism! Free food! Great Art! Who can argue with these things!???
Errr... Well, how well did that work out in practice?
So all sorts of things could and would be promised. Ever read the Soviet Guarantee of Rights (I think it was called?) Free speech! Free elections!
Did the USSR actually... practice either of those?
(If you say yes, I've got beachfront property in Arizona to sell you. It's a walk to the beach, but trust me, it's worth it.)
But they were promised it, and "intellectuals" would wave those promises around as if they were true.
I don't think you want us subjected to a horrible morass of bureacracy and petty bureacrats you have to prostrate yourself to to get medical care.
I just don't think you realise that's what lies down the path you're advocating.
"Don't you want to live in Star Trek?"
That's a fantasy. You can't just wish it, you've got to figure out how to get there. And the first step isn't to presume that amazingly, human nature is going to change overnight, as soon as "you" get power. Because that's been the MO for ever "reformer" so far.
And if human nature doesn't change fast enough, well, again, amazingly enough, there's a common experience there, too.
"But you don't understand how to get there. And as such, well, yes, that does tend to make you what the Soviets considered a "useful idiot".
I understand how we can get there but I am not vain enough to think that all my ideas are perfectly correct in every way. Your ideas have validity as well. And I could see how the best laid plans could develop into the darkness that you say could happen. Having a voice like yours as well as others here will ensure that it won't.
But things are going to change :)
"When I say America is child like, I mean it more from the pre-operational stage from Jean Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Learning.
During this stage (ages 2-7) children are extraordinarily egocentric. They simply cannot perceive things from another's point of view. Similarly, many Americans have a difficult time seeing things from another culture's perspective. It is this tendancy that has lead to a profound lack of understanding, glaringly evident in our current leadership, which ultimately has done us great harm."
Wow. That may be the most insulting thing I've seen you write.
"Similarly, many Americans have a difficult time seeing things from another culture's perspective. "
I doubt there are many humans who can see things from another culture's perspective. Hell, Mark you can't see things from our perspective.
In fact, wasn't it Edward Said who posited that it was impossible to grasp another culture's perspective unless you were part of that culture. With one rhetorical swoop he dismissed Bernard Lewis' lifetime of Middle Eastern scholarship.
Americans are no more or less adept at understanding other cultures than any other human society. The European cultures I've traveled among can be amazingly insular.
Kevin S, insulting how so?
Yosemite, you may, at the end of the day, be right. We may never be able to see things from their perspective not having the nature of their environment in our lifetimes.
But I think we at least have to make an effort. So do they, for that matter.
No, Mark, we don't.
It's quite possible to accept that the other side has a worldview that differs dramatically from one's own. "Understanding" that worldview is often only really useful in calculating military strategies - because, in the end, if two worldviews are completely incompatible, conflict becomes the only means by which one or the other worldview will be changed.
Often, both are. But only one survives largely intact.
America's empiricist worldview is wholly incompatible with the Islamist one. There can be no accomodation between them. Our culture invades and subsumes theirs, with no overt action on our part. Thus for their culture to survive, ours can't. The same holds true for the "p-idealist" culture that believes in the possibility of Utopia on Earth because the idea is just so beautiful.
But you deny that reality. You are not alone, and Steven Den Beste made that point emphatically in Inelegance.
"Kevin S, insulting how so?"
Are you having a difficult time seeing it from my perspective?
"Kevin S, insulting how so?"
Are you having a difficult time seeing it from my perspective?
I am trapped in a microcosm. Please send help.
Kevin S., well I am when you don't explain why it is insulting.
"America's empiricist worldview is wholly incompatible with the Islamist one. There can be no accomodation between them."
If that is true, then why are so many Islamic peoples moving here? It seems to me that the strict Islamist view is incompatable with Muslims! I have spent a great deal of time talking with the Muslims in my community and on thing I have learned from them is that they don't like living there. Why? Because there is no food and people are shooting at them all the time.
I submit that it will be Coca Cola, not a gun, that will bring the strict Islamist to his knees. That and he bikini.
Well, yes. Not all Muslims are part of the Islamist ideology, and the "death by Coca-cola" theory has already been advanced in articles related to those I and Kevin linked. It's no news either.
Obviously you've missed the Muslim people moving to The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Great Britain, too.
And my explicit statement that you didn't quote: "Our culture invades and subsumes theirs, with no overt action on our part. Thus for their culture to survive, ours can't." covers neatly your comment: "I submit that it will be Coca Cola, not a gun, that will bring the strict Islamist to his knees. That and (t)he bikini."
As usual, you keep denying the point even when whacked in the face with it.
Aside from a very few (John Walker Lindh, Adam Gadahn, various members of Jamat Ul-Islam Is Saheeh who are recruited and converted while in prison), Americans are not flocking to join the radical Muslim culture.
Instead Muslims are being seduced by the culture of the West, especially the young - which results in "honor killings" and other atrocities by the "strict islamists," like flying airliners into buildings.
This was my point, Mark, which you just emphatically supported. This is a culture war. We didn't bring the guns and bombs to the fight, they did. Now we are responding in kind.
I'm beginning to wonder if you are naturally this dense or if you have to take pills to achieve this condition?
"We didn't bring the guns and bombs to the fight, they did."
But you assume that all of them did this and that is simply not true. Are you saying that all the Muslims that moved to the countries that you mentioned above are terrorists?
People are flocking to this country from Muslim countries because they want a better way of life. The strict Islamist offers them a worse way of life and they don't want to get shot at for standing up to that person. So they move here in the hopes that they can live a better and more free life. I hope we can give them that chance.
"But you assume that all of them did this and that is simply not true. Are you saying that all the Muslims that moved to the countries that you mentioned above are terrorists?"
Mark, why does it seem that it's always all-or-nothing with you?
No, Mark, they are not all terrorists. But many if not most of them are not flocking to other countries in order to become citizens of those countries, either. They come seeking a better economic life - one that the societies they come from fail to provide - but they come bringing that society with them. And when Western society lures their children away, they are appalled. The children themselves are conflicted between the traditions of their parents, which they are taught to honor, and the culture of the West which they find attractive. Into this come the proselytizers who convince them that Western culture is decadent, that it is Satan incarnate and must be fought. Ask this guy. Or Maajid Nawaz from the NYT link you yourself provided yesterday.
So no, it's not all by a long shot, but when dealing with terrorism, it only has to be a small number.
You'll note (as has been pointed out to you again and again and again) that we didn't carpet-bomb Afghanistan and Iraq. We made every effort to kill as few innocents as possible. If we thought all Muslims were a threat, that's what we would do. But we do know that Britain's Daily Mail and London Times report that about half of the mosques in Britain are radicalized. Read this. What makes you think this isn't happening here? And you think if we just "understand each other" we can get along?
We want to give these people a better life, but part of that better life means accepting that the majority of the people they live with don't follow their religion. It's called tolerance, and it's something that the fundamentalists cannot abide, even if they are not terrorist extremists.
That's why their culture and ours are fundamentally incompatible. Islam tells them that they are to rule over the infidel, but in reality they have to move to the lands of the infidels just to earn a living. Read this piece by Steven Den Beste on that topic. He says it better than I can.
It's not that I think "if we just understand each other we can get along." I think that they are ignorant of our culture, willfully suppressed by the radicals over there, and when they move here and find out that it's not too bad here-not perfect-but they see the American Dream.
The question we should be asking ourselves is why are Europe's Muslims more radicalized and America's not?
Perhaps because American Empiricism works and EUropean p-idealism doesn't?
I think that they are ignorant of our culture, willfully suppressed by the radicals over there, and when they move here and find out that it's not too bad here-not perfect-but they see the American Dream.
And if you're wrong?
Read this: Why Arabs Lose Wars.
It's actually applicable to pretty much any honor/shame culture. That's not necesarily intrinsic to "Muslim", but it's a common pairing.
Mark, I've known many (not native born) Muslims. While they hated everything about "Liberals", they thought almost exactly the same way.
I've known Muslims, educated in the U.S., who believe in Jewish Conspiracies, and the reason that the Arabs are held down is that the Jews (you know, what, 100 million of them) are all working together to keep the billion or so Arabs down.
Just, go read that article, and understand that it's nowhere near as simple as the "American Dream" like you're postulating.
Further, you might want to consider about the implications of Islam (submitting to Allah's will), and free will and "freedom".
Actually, Mark, you'd do yourself an incredible favor by starting to read SDB - and doing so all the way through.
He's not right all the time, but more often than not, he's dead on.
Read SDB for comphrension, and if you still want to argue, then we can.
U-J, you are an optimist of the most incandescent sort, but I like you anyway.
U-J, WRT LabRat: Ditto! :)
Thanks. I think.
It's a personality defect, I guess.
Hey! It's not fair I should have to work with that! I should get disability! :)
Not sure if you were being sarcastic with your figures, but just to be on the safe side, there are less than 20 million Jews alive today. Probably closer to 15 million.
So our Jewish Conspiracy has about five times more evil per capita!
Thanks for the correction. I've seen the "100 million" bandied about - but that's counting everybody with any connection, anybody who's got any Jewish blood, like Madeline Albright, etc. It's entirely possible that's overblown, and they're even more powerful than even I suspect.
The number I have seen reported most is about 16 million as of the beginning of WW II. It puts six million dead in the Holocaust into sharp focus, doesn't it?