Monday, February 19, 2007

The Desire to "Wind it All Up"

The inimitable Wretchard over at Belmont Club has one of his brilliant posts this morning, built round a suicide bomber attack on the India-Pakistan "Friendship Train" between Delhi, India and Lahore, Pakistan. The attack on Sunday night killed 67 people. As Wretchard points out in his post "Passage From India" attacks on innocents are now "part and parcel" of what he calls "extended negotiations" between "terrorist entities" -- barbarians by any other name -- and civil society.
Because we don't want to admit that barbarians exist (it might take us away from worrying about Britney's haircut or whether Al Gore's gonna run), we have to blame these problems on something else, and no doubt Wretchard is correct when he says that it is inevitable that someone will blame this on the "bad international atmospherics created by the United States." (John Kerry, Howard Dean call your offices).
But the most arresting portion of this post is a comment, also by Wretchard, which I reproduce here in full:

Perhaps the idea of War and Peace as a binary state has passed. It would be interesting to see whether an equivalent concept exists among rival tribes in parts of the Middle East or whether they are accustomed to living in a twilight state of neither war nor peace, the condition depending on the time of day.

If, as now seems, the Tribes have imposed their way of war upon the West, then we will long for a definite peace the way Redcoats in North America hankered after the clash of orderly ranks in the open field. Long will we seek it, but seek it in vain.

Then Israel will have proved not the exception, but rather the new rule. And the landscape though apparently open, may little by little come to be divided into besieged demesnes; a new Dark Age arising on the foundation of the new tribalism. And the wonder of it all is that it will have been built in our faces. Perhaps this is the way civilizations finish; when the consensus to go on ends. If the West does not have the inner desire to continue then perhaps it has taken the subconscious decision to wind it all up

Wow. Through a glass darkly. Although Wretchard is far more intelligent than yours truly, I don't necessarily agree. Civilization isn't going to finish, not yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to change some. If the chattering classes have indeed taken the subconscious decision to "wind it all up:" to prosecute Border Patrol agents protecting our frontiers; to loudly bellow that they "support the troops" while they do everything possible to destroy public support for the cause for which the troops fight -- all so that they may have a few more years of uninterupted conspicious consumption and enjoyment of hairless Britneys -- then we will soon dispense with chattering classes. Peace and physical security for our children are going to be provided for -- one way or another. How will this happen ? Orson Scott Card has an idea.

So the "Tribes" as Wretchard puts it, have imposed their way of war on the West ? Maybe, but the necessary wealth and military power exist to stop Wretchard's tribes. I still think the will is there too -- once the chattering classes are got out of the way or reeducated. If the Tribes have indeed imposed their way of war on the West: woe to them when the West adopts their rules. Civilization will still exist, for members of the Western "tribe," although some of us might not like the rules much. As for Wretchard's "tribes," who have given us suicide bombers and airplanes into buildings, they're going to get all the barbarism they want.


Anonymous said...

Wretchard continues Malcolm Muggeridge's (and others) theme in his 1970 essay "The Great Liberal Death Wish".


El Jefe Maximo said...


I have read some Muggeridge, but not this piece, but the argument is what I would expect of him, and I completely agree.

Since the liberal and socialist (child that he is of the French Revolution) does not worship God, but only Man -- whose Godhead is manifested by Science, the death of Man means not eternal life and peace but nothingness. Denying God and salvation is essentially a wish for nothingness so it makes sense that liberals have a Death Wish.

The left of today is in a great moral crisis since the collapse of Communism: truly the Great Man God that Failed. It's flirting with Paganism -- I think that's at the bottom of much of the Nature worship apparent in the Global Warming scare, which has only a small amount to do with science.

In the end, though, I suspect the mainstream Left will reject both science and Paganism, and move straight to Islam. Neither science nor Paganism can offer any kind of afterlife, and the barbarian Lefties are concerned with nothing so much as they are self-preservation. Islam gives them the best of all worlds -- an afterlife, and permits them to keep rejecting the West in general and America in particular, thus gratifying their Death Wish instincts.

Anonymous said...

Christian conservatives will soon find themselves in much the same predicament that French colonists found themselves in in Algeria in the 1950's but with the exception that there will be no gov't to assist them, it will only treat on them. In the final analysis, the ultimate triumph of the godless Liberal (socialist) elite will mean that Christian conservatives will be people without a country. To a large extent, many of us already sense that. No, western civ may not collapse as we sink into the new dark age, yes, there will be change, massive change so dramatic that while it may not collapse western civ, it will surely cause most of it to disappear.

louielouie said...

EJM I to rhod @ 6:11 pm

i've re-read that comment about half a dozen times and am still having trouble getting my little mind expanded around it.
that comment should have been about three essays, instead of condensed as it is into a comment.

what is confusing me is the comment in the second para. justifying the liberal death wish by wanting nothingness, and in the final para. stating that they want an afterlife and/or self-preservation. which is something. is not eternal life referred to as afterlife?

either way that is one condensed eomment.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Just briefly, Muggeridge might have overworked this theme, as it seems to be behind the curtain in everything he wrote, from his early days in the Soviet Union on up to his final writings on Christianity. By the end, he'd said all he had to say about it, but he continued the mission, and where the originality slips, I still found him inspiring and creative.

His observations on liberal morbidity derived from his dual awareness of something beyond the materialism of his Marxist-lite upbringing, and our inescapable connection to the things of the world, and hence, the Marxism and the pursuit of a heaven on earth.

He later on, I think, very clearly theorized it as the alienation that comes from living in the breach between the Life of the The Will, and The Life of the Imagination. The Life of the Will is ruinous, but where we happen to be, and where our egoes reside.

A liberal death wish is perhaps no different than the death of the self as the flight to salvation, except that the first is permanent and the second only a door to another place.

I think that decayed liberalism could find threads of sympathy with fanatical Islamism, chiefly because both are authoritarian by nature, and nihilistic about the present order. Islam also certainly appeals to the alienated and rootless for the same reasons, and there's no group more alienated and rootless than the left.


El Jefe Maximo said...


Yeah, I can see your point. What I was trying to say in a very general way, is that the perspective of the Boomer generation (the engine of modern liberalism) is likely to change as it ages. The Liberal/Socialist/Materialist perspective, so apparent in certain boomers -- that lives totally in the present; as if this life was All There Will Ever Be, might just change as time goes on, and the owners of this particular point of view get nearer the grave.

Pseudo-paganism is a good fit for a time: the whole "do as you will, so long as it hurts no others" slots into this just fine, because it is faux religion without any real obligations, except vague earth mother nostrums about taking care of the Earth. However, approaching death does make one think about there being more than nothingness. . .about a hereafter.

Islam will work well for aging liberals. It's going to be chic in some circles because it's increasingly associated with an anti-American, and anti-Western view-- always a plus for people who want to live in guilt about being rich, and who reject their history; it's "intentional" and happening in that it's a rapidly growing faith around the world and isn't perceived as namby-pamby the way so much of mainline Christianity is. So much of the Left is made up natural prey for something like this; or something else that promises All The Answers and allows no disagreement.

Anonymous said...

In the group you mention,(of which I, at 61, am a part) I see a lot of clawing after those late-stage remedies for death. Cryogenics, mysticism and group efforts at easing the passage.

Muslims won't tolerate these people for long. Islam is a muscular faith, and that's its appeal.