Sharing out the pieces of a shattered empire 5

Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.

Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.

The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:

A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.

Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.

To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”

Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.

All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.

Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.

Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”

The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.

But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.

The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).

Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.

While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.

In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.

Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.

But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.

 

* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.

The case for impeachment (3) 10

Is Obama’s realignment of US foreign policy so astonishing that it leaves Congress too stunned to act?

Has there ever before been such a clear case of high crimes and misdemeanors as now with the action of this president – selling out the country’s interests to its worst enemy?

Why have impeachment proceedings not begun?

Shawn Mitchell writes today, March 30, 2015, at Townhall:

Ponder the dire significance of the extraordinary story from MSNBC(!) last Friday, reporting on US “incoherence” in the Middle East, the exploding chaos there, and the shocking news Arab states like Egypt, the Saudis, and UAE are withholding intelligence and launching attacks without consulting the US. Why? Because they don’t trust Obama not to leak information to Iran. In seeking closer ties with Iran, Obama is threatening every other strategic US relationship in the region and candidly committing alliance-cide against America’s closest ally there, Israel.

The president, as chief executive and commander in chief may be the captain of foreign policy, but the Senate, representing the American public, has a Constitutional role, which Obama is deliberately evading.

What is happening is historically unprecedented. … Obama is pursuing a one-man foreign policy of realigning the US in the Middle East, ending our friendship with Israel, forging ties with Iran, and facilitating, or at least benignly accepting, the expansion of Iran’s interests, influence, and agents throughout the region.

Facilitating. Not “benignly accepting”.

This profound agenda is not one he ran on. It is not disclosed to, or understood by, the American people. It is not vetted or discussed in high circles of military and security leadership. It is contrary to long and widely held understandings of US security interests. It is a covert one man revolution.

In playing his chess pieces, Obama unsuccessfully pressed Egypt to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood; stiff-armed President al-Sisi who wants to move Egypt closer to America, keep peace with Israel, and move Islam closer to modernity; launched unprovoked missiles against Libya’s Qaddafi, lighting that nation on fire, delivering it to chaos and Iran-backed rebels; played patsy with Iran’s client Assad while Assad scorned Obama’s red lines and gassed civilians; and manufactured an escalating series of confrontations and crises with Israel, most recently exposing top secret details of its previously unacknowledged nuclear program. After Yemen fell to Iran backed rebels, the White House continues to insist its approach there is a “model of effective counterterrorism”.

… It’s becoming apparent the trade of five Taliban field leaders for one US deserter was not a “bad deal” but a head fake. Bergdahl was just cover for Obama to hand back five Jihadi leaders and move closer to his goal of closing Gitmo.

Did he swap the Taliban leaders for Bergdahl because he wants to close Gitmo, or is his spoken intention to close Gitmo an excuse for silently strengthening the Taliban? That one can even ask the question, that the suggestion is not implausible, shows how extraordinary are the circumstances in which it arises.

Recent reports of the surreal “negotiations” with Iran would make for farce if they weren’t terrifyingly real. Alone among the P5 + 1 world powers, the US is desperate to sweeten the pot to offer Iran whatever it takes. Obama originally set a redline of 500 high-speed centrifuges; we now shrug at 6,000. We’re good with Iran continuing operations at its reinforced, underground lab. It doesn’t have to reveal its ongoing research with military dimensions until after the world lifts sanctions … wink. Surprise inspections will be rare to never. Last week, the Associated Press astonishingly reported a final agreement may not even be in writing. Spokesman Josh Earnest failed to deny that unfathomable idea after three direct queries.

We recently witnessed the spectacle of France trying to put the brakes on this runaway concession train, complaining it’s a weak, bad, unenforceable deal and the US is still conceding. That’s something … the French accusing Americans of being burger eating surrender monkeys.

The president’s defenders might call his upheaval a matter of high stakes, high risk strategy to improve US standing in the Middle East by aligning it with the region’s strongest power. Other commentators might call it wrongheaded, reckless, and dangerous. And others, seeing what’s right in front of their face, might call it hostile to America’s interests and security, treacherous to America’s allies, and of great aid and comfort to America’s enemies.

Under a different Iranian regime, maybe a secular one, or a reformist product of the Green Revolution that Obama strangely spurned, it might make sense to support Iran as a stabilizing force. It’s the Mullacracy with its radical, bloody vision that makes Obama’s policy deranged. His defenders and critics alike speculate Obama is betting the regime can be enticed to make nice and join the community of nations during the limited lifespan of the agreement. But that surmise is incoherent. If Obama wanted a reformed Iran, he would have spoken up for millions of brave protesters who confronted the Mullahs and pled for his support. He stood mute as they were brutally crushed.

It’s an unresolved question if, or where, there is a redline that a president’s policies abroad become Constitutionally actionable. He leads in foreign policy. But, he also took an oath to protect American peace and security. If, for an extreme hypothetical, videotape emerged showing a president handing over US nuclear codes to Vladimir Putin, presumably, he would be dealt with as a treasonous traitor, his foreign policy authority notwithstanding. 

Obama’s actions in the Middle East raise troubling questions about how fundamentally a president can contradict deeply rooted US understandings, policies, and alliances before he enters a danger zone. Cutting off the Senate’s voice adds to the gravity. To conclude any position a president holds, no matter how radical, must be the position of the US, is akin to embracing Louis XIV’s declaration: “”L’État, c’est moi” or Richard Nixon’s more recent formulation: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Twenty months remain in this presidency. About a day is left till Obama’s contrived deadline to reach a deal with Iran. It may be one of the only lines he means to respect. Few imagined after the 2012 election how fast events would unfold in the Middle East and how fast Obama’s hand would emerge into view. It is going to be a dangerous and scary ride.

Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s unofficial co-president, was born in Iran. Does she have a sentimental  attachment to it? With this administration that could be enough “reason” – silly as it is – for Obama to put its interests and ambitions above the interests of the United States.

Can anyone think of any other possible reason?

Ah, yes. If Iran is allowed to become nuclear armed, there is a high likelihood that it will destroy Israel. That’s a consummation the Muslim world devoutly wishes. And where the Muslim world leads, can Obama be far behind?

Did he breathe “Allahu akbar”? 6

The suspicion crossed our well-primed minds immediately: Was Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Airbus who crashed the plane in the French Alps, a convert to Islam?

The following is our own version of a report published yesterday by a German journalist, Michael Mannheimer, and rather badly translated by Gateway Pundit. We don’t know yet if it is true.

Evidence has been found that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who deliberately crashed an Airbus in the French alps killing 150 people, converted to Islam during a six-months break in his training as a pilot with Germanwings.  This was learnt from his Facebook page. A radical mosque in Bremen which the convert frequented is at the center of the investigation. But you can bet that the apologists (media, politicians, “Islamic scholars”) will call him “mentally unstable”, and again the mantra of “peaceful Islam” will be intoned. And the attacks by the left on those who have always warned against Islam will be even fiercer. 

We await confirmation or denial.

Posted under France, Germany, Islam, jihad, Muslims by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 27, 2015

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What is terrorism? 1

Terrorism is a method. 

It is not an ideology, or a movement, or a conspiracy, or a policy, or an aim.

Its users might be an organized movement that conspires to adopt the tactic; and a state might use it against its own people as a matter of policy. But terrorism itself is simply a method. A tactic.

Terrorism is not hard to define:

Terrorism is the systematic use of violence to create public fear.

As a method of intimidation it is as old as mankind and will surely continue to be used as long as our species continues to exist.

It has been used for various types of causes, such as religious (eg. the Catholic Church with its Inquisition; Protestant powers such as Calvin in Geneva, the Puritans at Salem); commercial and criminal (eg. the Mafia); and political, by rebels, and revolutionaries, and adherents of diverse ideologies.

Whether terrorism is used by a small group like the Weather Underground or the Baader-Meinhof gang; a large group like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland and England, or Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru; or a state like the Third Reich or the USSR, it is a method of instilling fear into many more people than it can directly attack so they or their rulers will do or not do what the terrorists want done or not done. That is why the attacks need to be random. Though you have done nothing personally to affront the terrorist organization doing its evil deeds in your corner of the world, you must be made to understand that their bomb could be in the bus you take to work or your child takes to school, and so could as easily kill or maim you or your child as anyone else.

The mentality behind terrorism is similar to the mentality of the racist. The users of the method target individuals indiscriminately because they “belong” to a group or class that the terrorists designate their enemy. You are a member of a political party that they oppose. You have a nationality they don’t like. You are a capitalist. You work for the “military-industrial complex”. Or you are one person in a national collective under a despotism that would keep you obedient.

Terrorism punishes the innocent. If a tyrant is killed, it is not terrorism; if his infant children are killed as “collateral damage”, it is.

Can the use of terrorism ever be justified? It is the moral question every terrorist needs to answer for himself. He alone makes the decision to do the deed. It is no excuse that he is obeying others. He – or she – is still responsible even under threat. The exception of course is when – for instance – a person is forcibly strapped into a suicide vest, deposited in a public place, and is detonated without taking any action himself. Islamic terrorists use children in this way.

An argument is sometimes put forward by persons – usually academics – who want, for various and usually disgraceful reasons, to discourage action against this or that terrorist organization, that the number of people who are hurt or killed in a specified period by terrorist action is smaller than the number killed by (eg) car accidents in the same time span. But an accident is by definition nobody’s fault. Because terrorism is a moral question, depending on people making decisions and implementing them, such comparisons are not only invalid but invidious.

What of war? Does that not harm and kill many innocents? Of course. But when war happens, all normal constraints are abandoned and the moral questions are changed. Was Churchill right to have Dresden bombed flat? Was America right to drop nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? If more people were saved by these acts which brought war to an end than were hurt and killed by the actions themselves, were they good or were they evil?

The morality of war is open to argument. But clear acts of terrorism can be carried out within wars, and need to be unequivocally condemned. For instance, in World War Two, the Germans massacred all the inhabitants (642), men women and children, of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944, in reprisal for one of their officers being captured and held there. It was plainly a “war crime”, and plainly an act of terrorism.

What – it is sometimes asked – of random violence used against a conqueror occupying your country in war? Is that terrorism? And even if it is, is it not justified? Not an easy question to answer. The best one can do to decide the morality of (eg) blowing up a train that is bringing enemy reinforcements into your country but also bearing some of your fellow countrymen, is to ask whether the action would make most of your fellow countrymen feel more safe or more threatened. If the answer is “more safe”, it could be argued that the act was therefore justified. But much depends on what an action is, whom it kills and in what way; on the circumstances of the occupation, and on whether it is oppressive or comparatively benign. In each case, judgment is needed.

Communism and Islam are inherently terrorist ideologies.

 

Jillian Becker   March 18, 2015

(Jillian Becker was director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Terrorism 1985-1990)

“We want to see suffering” 1

To listen to the barbaric chant which is the background music to the slow destruction of our civilization by savage hordes coming out of the Dark Ages, go here.

The words are in French not Arabic.

A translation:

Chorus:

We will not be beaten down

We wish to die for Allah

We will persist in fighting

And leave [this world] with a smile

*

Verses:

Yes, Charlie Hebdo is dead, he mocked the prophets

Indeed we will kill without remorse those coming to provoke us

Why are you looking for a fight? You reap what you sow

For those with loaded weapons, it’s time to revolt.

*

We must strike France

It is time for it to be humiliated

We want to see suffering

And deaths by the thousand

The battle has begun. The revenge will be terrible

Our soldiers are enraged. Your end will be horrible.

*

Islam will prevail, it will be spread by the sword

Those who want to oppose it will never know peace

We came to dominate and our enemies will perish

We will annihilate them and let their bodies rot.

The song is titled On Va Pas Se Laisser Abattre (We Will Not Let Ourselves Be Beaten Down). It was posted on Sunday March 15, 2015, by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL). The translation is by MEMRI.

Posted under Arab States, France, Iraq, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Syria, War by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

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The French pandemonium (three) 3

Today we post under Pages (listed at the top of our margin), essay number 13 in Part Two of the series titled The Darkness of This World, by Jillian Becker.

It continues the discussion of French writers whose works are concerned with Evil, praise it, and argue passionately that it should be done.

The title of this essay is The French Pandemonium (Three). Its subjects are the twentieth century writers Michel Foucault and –  to a lesser extent – Jean Genet 

Here is part of the essay:

When the Second World War was over in Europe in 1945, and the enormities perpetrated by the Nazis had been fully revealed à tout le monde, Evil did not lose any of its popularity among the anti-bourgeois intelligentsia of France. If those who had survived war and occupation, deprivation and terror, and in some cases confinement, had a sense of being supped full with horrors, it seems to have been short-lived. Their appetite for blood, for torture, and even for mass murder, soon revived.

Most of the novels and plays of Jean Genet – works in which he “explored the potentialities of evil” – were published or performed after the war. He wrote fascinatingly about criminals. His play Haute Surveillance, first performed in 1949, is about a prisoner who, sentenced for committing only small crimes, murders a fellow convict in order to be recognized as someone capable of doing far worse. The bourgeois audiences found it shocking, but not the intellectual elite. In 1952 Jean-Paul Sartre published an essay about him titled Saint Genet. What made Genet a saint in Sartre’s eyes was his criminality. He was a saint because he was a thief. And – even more glamorously romantic – he was a homosexual prostitute in the days when that too could land a man in jail.

All convicted prisoners were victims of the bourgeois and his civilization, in the opinion of Michel Foucault, another of our demons. He declared: “Delinquency, solidified by a penal system centered upon the prison, thus represents a diversion of illegality for the illicit circuits of profit and power of the dominant class.” …

Foucault, the French demon par excellence, was a disciple of Georges Bataille. Their tastes were the same. Foucault endorsed the master’s praise for “erotic transgression”, rhapsodized over “the joy of torture”, and longed to assist his hero in carrying out human sacrifice as a holy act and a thrilling work of art. Together they schemed – but did not institute – a “theatre of cruelty” (as had the clinically mad Antonin Artaud before them), in which actual murder would be performed for an audience. They saw a profound moral value in murder – if the murderer gets a buzz out of it.

Some ideas emerge from Foucault’s writings distinctly enough to be examined. Among them, that the law-abiding bourgeois should be punished with violent oppression; mass reprisals are preferable to individual trials; and cruelty should be a normal way of life. Yet he is praised for being “always ready to protest the fate of the wretched and powerless”.

Even if some of his works can be interpreted as “protesting the fate” of the criminal, the lunatic and the sadist, “always” is going much too far. The mass of his oeuvres proclaims his enthusiasm for rendering anybody and everybody wretched and powerless, preferably maimed, and best of all dead.  

He did not except himself. To “redeem existence” from “unbearable banality”, he hankered to be caught up in what he called “limit experiences” of pain, terror, madness, and fatal illness: “the overwhelming, the unspeakable, the creepy, the stupefying, the ecstatic”, embracing “a pure violence, a wordless gesture”. All this he sought for himself, and – though an intensely self-obsessed man – generously desired for others too; and if others did not want it, well, they should be forced to endure it. And even if the victims could not raise their consciousness so as to be overjoyed, the inflictions would not be wasted, because Foucault could wring for himself from their suffering, the last drop of excruciating pleasure.

And this pleasure should not – he fantasized – be only an occasional treat. A demon such as he should not have to perform acts of torture and life-endangerment only for a rare thrill, but such experience should be continually on tap. He believed, like Bataille, that cruelty should be a way of life – the only way of life, a constant part of everybody’s everyday life. “We can and must,” he wrote, “make of man a negative experience, lived in the form of hate and aggression.” …

Foucault sought pleasure in the pain of both body and mind. He mutilated his body and terrified his mind. As nothing was more terrible than death, he desired it most passionately. “Complete, total pleasure,” he declared, “is related to death.” He contemplated suicide, thought of it often through the greater part of his life, and claimed to have “attempted” it many times. He expected and intended that suicide would be the way he’d die. He made “lifelong preparation for it”. It would be “a simple pleasure”, a “suffering pleasure”. It would be a way of “exploring experience in its negativity”.

To take his death into his own hands would not only hasten that crowning moment of “complete, total pleasure”, it might also bring about, at last, the release of his other Self. The “other” Michel Foucault would be emancipated in his own death-throes, to experience “moment of free existence in suicide”.

He fantasized about participating in a “suicide orgy”, and eventually, in full consistency, that was the way he chose. He went, equipped with instruments – or “toys” – of torture, to orgies of sex, drugs, pain, cruelty, and terror, knowing that they were a way to his death, and intending that that’s what they should be. He endured and wallowed in them in the bathhouses of San Francisco where homosexual men congregated, many of them infected with the HIV virus. And when he knew he had AIDS – incurable at that time – he returned to the bathhouses deliberately to infect as many other men as he could. It was slow suicide and slow murder; according to his philosophy, the transcendent “limit experience”. How much he really enjoyed the prolonged period of slow physical disintegration to which he condemned himself no one of course can know. But he did not try to cut it short by some swifter means to death in order to achieve that moment of exquisite agony in which he expected to feel himself – or his hidden Self – liberated by death. …

Absurdly hyperbolic praise has been heaped upon him. Paul Veyne, professor of History at Vincennes, said of Foucault that he was “the most important event in the thought of this [20th] century”. Yet far from contributing to the advancement of mankind, his example was atavistic: to live by the dictates of the instincts, the appetites, and the emotions – in other words to be savage. …

The immense popularity of Bataille and Foucault, the rapturous reception accorded their demonic works, could only mean that France itself was turning away – continuing to turn away – from reason and civilized values.

On the European battlefields of literature, philosophy, and politics, Romanticism has won an overwhelming victory. The “horrible workers” predicted by Rimbaud, have been elevated by public (bourgeois!) taste into the intellectual giants of contemporary thought. And they have influenced taste everywhere in the pan-European world. Now, in the early twenty-first century, in most of the faculties of the humanities, in most of the academies of the West, the French cult of Evil is virtually an orthodoxy – even in America.

You can find all of it here.

Posted under Commentary, communism, Ethics, Europe, France, Germany, Gnosticism, History, Leftism, Literature, Marxism, nazism, Philosophy, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 8, 2015

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Daring to speak the truth 1

Here’s Pat Condell again – as usual saying what few others dare to say.

This time he talks about Muslim anti-Semitism and how Europe is indifferent to it: truths that admirably offend multitudes of Muslims and Europeans.

He also accurately aims a dart at “progressive” Jews who madly cheer on their enemies.

 

(Hat-tip to our reader Stephen Stern)

Posted under Anti-Semitism, Commentary, France, Islam, Israel, Muslims by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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Liberty versus equality 2

We extracted these paragraphs from an article we liked in the Washington Post by Professor Jonathan Turley, who, though reputed to be a liberal, does actually seem to have a taste for liberty:

The greatest threat to liberty in France has come not from the terrorists who committed such horrific acts this past week but from the French themselves, who have been leading the Western world in a crackdown on free speech.

Indeed, if the French want to memorialize those killed at Charlie Hebdo, they could start by rescinding their laws criminalizing speech that insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation. These laws have been used to harass the satirical newspaper and threaten its staff for years.

Speech has been conditioned on being used “responsibly” in France, suggesting that it is more of privilege than a right for those who hold controversial views.

In 2006, after Charlie Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper, French President Jacques Chirac condemned the publication and warned against such “obvious provocations”.

“Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” he said. “Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility”.

The Paris Grand Mosque and the Union of French Islamic Organizations sued the newspaper for insulting Muslims — a crime that carries a fine of up to 22,500 euros or six months’ imprisonment. French courts ultimately ruled in Charlie Hebdo’s favor. But France’s appetite for speech control has only grown since then. …

Charbonnier [one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists] died, as he pledged, standing up rather than yielding. The question is how many of those rallying in the Place de la Republique are truly willing to stand with him. They need only to look more closely at those three statues. In the name of equality and fraternity, liberty has been curtailed in France. The terrible truth is that it takes only a single gunman to kill a journalist, but it takes a nation to kill a right.

While we agree with what Professor Turley’s point, we would put it a little differently. We always prefer to speak of freedom rather than of rights: as in “I am free to ….” rather than “I have a right to …”, because ideally we are free to do anything that a law does not proscribe, and ideally all laws protect freedom.

This is a good place for us to declare another of our long-held convictions. That it is impossible to have both liberty and equality. (Fraternity is a superfluous sentimentality that we’ll simply overlook.)

This seems to us so obvious that we can only wonder why everyone, even the French, can’t see it.

Equality – other than in the eyes of the law – can only be created and maintained by force, so there goes liberty. Leave people free and they will not match each other in accomplishment or anything else.

Where the people are free they are not equal, and where they are equal they are not free.

The Left wants equality. We want liberty.

The marches of Dresden 5

Peter Martino writes at Gatestone:

Every Monday evening since last October, thousands of citizens have marched through the city of Dresden as well as other German cities to protest the Islamization of their country. They belong to an organization, established only three months ago, called Pegida, the German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”

 

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Pegida is a democratic grassroots organization, without origins in the far-left, far-right or links to any political parties, domestic or foreign.

The French Front National [FN] of Marine Le Pen even made it clear that it wants nothing to do with “spontaneous initiatives” such as Pegida. According to the FN, “something like Pegida cannot be a substitute for a party”.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party [PVV] is more positive. He sees Pegida as a sign of the growing discontent of ordinary people with the political elite now governing them. “A revolution is on its way,” he says. Ironically, Wilders’s PVV, currently by far the largest party in the Dutch polls, is itself more of a spontaneous movement, driven by the energy and charisma of one single man with a mission to liberate his country from Islamic extremism, rather than an established and structured political party.

That Pegida is a spontaneous and diffuse organization of citizens expressing their discontent, seems to be worrying the German political establishment.

Good. All European governments, all the big political parties, having connived at the colonization and parasitic destruction of Europe by Islam, have cause to be worried. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel knows how powerful these movements can become. In 1989, when thousands of people shouting, “Wir sind das Volk” [“We are the people”] took to the streets in cities such as Dresden, the Communist regime in East Germany was toppled.

Apart from slogans such as: “Against Religious Fanaticism’, and “For the Future of our Children”, the anti-Islamization protesters of Pegida are using exactly the same slogan – “Wir sind das Volk” – of the anti-Communist demonstrators a quarter of a century ago, as they march against the open-door policies of the German government.

The use of the 1989 liberation slogan has infuriated Merkel, who reproaches Pegida for using it. In her New Year’s speech, Merkel attacked the Pegida demonstrators. “Their hearts are cold, full of prejudice and hatred,” she said, while defending her government’s policies of welcoming asylum seekers and immigrants. She pointed out that Germany had taken in more than 200,000 asylum seekers in 2014, making it the country that is accepting the largest number of refugees in the world.

What a thing to boast of! And Merkel seems to be the least wrong-headed of Europe’s leaders!

Merkel has been backed by church leaders …

Why are we not surprised? …

… who are slamming Pegida and calling for solidarity with migrants. The Confederation of German Employers has been blaming Pegida for damaging Germany’s international reputation.

Meanwhile, so-called anti-fascist demonstrators, shouting “Wir sind die Mauer. Das Volk muss weg!” [“We are the Wall. Down with the people!”], last week blocked a Pegida march in Berlin. …

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, another leading CDU politician, claimed that the terror attacks in France had “nothing to do with Islam” and warned against “political pyromaniacs” such as Pegida who suggest otherwise.

They continue with their deliberate blindness, and the absurd pretense that the Islamic jihad “has nothing to do with Islam”!

Each time they make such a statement, the ranks of the Dresden marchers will grow bigger – or so we hope.

Pegida’s worries about the Islamization of Germany concern the seeming intolerance and religious fanaticism that have grown hand in hand with the arrival of Muslim populations unwilling to adapt to Western values.

But by decrying Pegida’s views as “xenophobic”, “narrow minded” and even “inhuman”, Germany’s ruling establishment shows how deeply out of touch it is with the worries of a large segment of the population.

A recent poll, dating from before the terror attacks in France, found that one in three Germans support the Pegida anti-Islamization marches. Further, a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that German attitudes toward Islam are hardening, with 61% saying in 2014 that Islam is “not suited to the Western world” - up from 52% in 2012. Also, up to 57% of the Germans see Islam as a threat, 40% feel that they are becoming foreigners in their own country because of the Muslim presence, and 24% want to ban Muslim immigration.

Looking at the numbers of demonstrators that join the Pegida demonstrations every Monday in various German cities, Pegida is clearly an overwhelmingly East German phenomenon. Indeed, in the provinces formerly belonging to the Communist German Democratic Republic [GDR], many thousands of people are drawn to the demonstrations, while in the West the numbers are far lower. Political analysts admit to being puzzled by this, given that the number of immigrants, including Muslims, is far lower in the East than in the West. …

Perhaps the people in the East just want to avoid the situation that the Western part of the country is in, as a result of the large Islamic presence. While the West might already be lost as a result of Islamization, the East is still capable of avoiding the West’s fate. Moreover, having gone through decades of Communist dictatorship, perhaps the Easterners are less inclined to trust that their political leaders have the people’s best interests in mind with their policies.

Perhaps they feel that, rather than trust that Frau Merkel knows what is best for the German people – as she welcomes in record numbers these new Islamic immigrants – the German people need to show her clearly that they think she is wrong.

Merkel is from East Germany herself. She has suffered under a regime that ignores the will of the people. She is politically astute. She has said that “multiculturalism has failed”. So why is she so afraid of Pegida?

Could it be that as a German with a conscience and a knowledge of twentieth century German history, she is more afraid of a rise of irrational aggression against a specific religious group than she is of Islam conquering and destroying her country?

Surely not. How can any intelligent person not see that fear of Islam is not irrational? That Islam is doing everything it can to make the West afraid of it? That there is no resemblance whatsoever between anti-Semitism, which really is irrational, and “Islamophobia”, which would be thoroughly rational yet was not manifest until the people who started Pegida grasped what was happening to their country; to their democracy; to the Western values their nation adopted only quite recently after descending into deep criminality.

Now that they have grasped the nature and the force of the threat, they are taking action against it. May it not be too little, too late.

Against … ? 20

An estimated 3.7million people marched across France today, the majority gathering in Paris (above) to pay tribute to those killed by terrorists in a swathe of attacks across the capital last week.

An estimated 3.7million people marched across France today, the majority gathering in Paris (above) to pay tribute to those killed by terrorists in a swathe of attacks across the capital last week.

 

Picture from the Daily Mail, where there are many more, and not only of the gatherings in France.

Don’t miss the bitter irony of Mahmud Abbas, head of Fatah – the original Arab international terrorist group – being included among the invited guests of the French government, and of Eric Holder being in the meeting of the Interior Ministers (which of course he is not).

The only representative of the United States among the Heads of State and Prime Ministers, was the US ambassador, Jane Hartley. Obama would not go.

His robot, Josh Earnest, told the press last Thursday the lesson of the events in Paris was that more effort must be made to explain the tenets of Islam (to Muslims), and to combat Islamophobia.

This is from Breitbart:

White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced that the Obama administration would prioritize fighting Islamophobia in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in France. Never mind that most Westerners aren’t Islamophobic, but rather GettingShotInTheFaceForExpressingMyOpinion-Phobic.

The real problem, according to the Obama administration, is lack of leadership in defending Islam:

There are some individuals that are using a peaceful religion and grossly distorting it, and trying to use its tenets to inspire people around the globe to carry out acts of violence. And we have enjoyed significant success in enlisting leaders in the Muslim community, like I said, both in the United States and around the world to condemn that kind of messaging, to condemn those efforts to radicalize individuals, and to be clear about what the tenets of Islam actually are.  And we’re going to redouble those efforts in the days and weeks ahead.

That explanation of what the tenets of Islam actually are is worth waiting for! When they recover from the shock, the Obama henchmen and henchwomen will probably say that the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith are mistaken, and have nothing to do with Islam.

 

Arm in arm, world leaders, left to right: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Jordan's Queen Rania, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other guests

Arm in arm, world leaders, left to right: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Jordan’s Queen Rania, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other guests

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