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.

Kerry-Zarif & Ribbentrop-Molotov 3

Obama’s “understanding” leading to a “deal” with Iran is often likened to the deal Neville Chamberlain thought he had made with Adolf Hitler at Munich in 1938. For the easy price of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain believed he had bought “peace in our time”.

There is a resemblance, of course. For the easy price of Israel, Obama believes he has bought peace in his time as president.

But perhaps a closer analogy would be the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939. Two totalitarian powers, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, came to the agreement that launched World War Two.

Iran is a totalitarian power, and so is the White House (though not yet the United States despite what’s going on in that seat of their government).

Total insincerity, extreme cynicism, characterize the US-Iran “understanding” as they did the Nazi-Soviet pact.

The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, named for the foreign ministers who negotiated it, was ostensibly a non-aggression agreement. But secret clauses divided Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland between Germany and Russia.

The pact was signed on August 23, 1939. A few days later, on September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. On September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany.  On September 17, Stalin also invaded Poland, and the country was divided between Germany and Russia. On June 22, 1941, regardless of the non-aggression pact, Germany invaded Russia.

Neither the word nor the signature of a Hitler, a Stalin, an Ayatollah Khamenei, or a Barack Obama can be trusted.

We quote from an article in the Washington Times by Cal Thomas:

The United States is being asked to foolishly believe promises by a regime that is religiously motivated to eliminate Israel and ultimately the United States, is the premier sponsor of terrorism in the world, has a record of breaking promises, including past promises about nuclear weapons …

Iran’s chief negotiator at the talks in Switzerland, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress. Mr. Zarif claimed that in spite of statements from [the US Secretary of State] Mr. Kerry and a “fact sheet” released by the American delegation, the United States is making claims that conditions were reached for the accord that Iran did not agree to.

If the two sides can’t agree on the contents of the framework, how are they supposed to reach a final agreement by June?

Iran has always maintained it is seeking nuclear power for peaceful purposes. If that were true, there would be no need for negotiations.

And, anyway, –

How do you negotiate with someone who has lied from the start and is told in the Koran that lying to “infidels” is permissible in pursuit of Islamic goals? 

The Kerry-Zarif “understanding” will bring war as assuredly as the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact brought it. It will just take longer.

The war that will come when Iran has its nukes will be much harder to win than the brief one that would be quickly over if the US destroyed Iran’s nuclear facilities now.

Delaying an inevitable military confrontation, rather than early intervention, allows the enemy to grow stronger with more loss of life and property when war comes. That is history’s lesson.

If Obama looks at history at all, it is to confirm his faith that he is on the right side of it, as he likes to say he is.

Or perhaps he studies it in order to repeat its mistakes.

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)

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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The glamor of evil 4

With his usual perception and wit, Mark Steyn writes:

The Islamic State [IS] released a 22-minute video showing Flight Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh of the Royal Jordanian Air Force being doused in petrol and burned to death. It is an horrific way to die, and Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh showed uncommon bravery, standing stiff and dignified as the flames consumed him. And then he toppled, and the ISIS cameras rolled on, until what was left was charred and shapeless and unrecognizable as human. …

Even by the standards of his usual rote cookie-cutter shoulder-to-shoulder shtick that follows every ISIS beheading of western captives, the President could barely conceal his boredom at having to discuss the immolation of Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh:

Aaand it, I think, will redouble [pause] the vigilance aaand determination on the part of our global coalition to, uh, make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated. Ummmm. [Adopting a whimsical look] It also just indicates the degree to which whatever ideology they’re operating off of, it’s bankrupt. [Suppressing a smirk, pivoting to a much more important subject.] We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better.

The lack of passion – the bloodlessness – of Obama’s reaction to atrocity is always striking. He can’t even be bothered pretending that he means it. …

Given the general halfheartedness of Obama’s “coalition”, King Abdullah [of Jordan] could have been forgiven for also deciding to head for the exit.

Yet he understood the necessity of action. Obama, by contrast … does nothing. His war against ISIS was supposed to be one in which the US would not put “boots on the ground”, but instead leave that to our allies. The allies have the boots, but they could use some weapons, too. Obama has failed to supply the Kurds or anybody else with what they need to defeat our enemies. It’s becoming what they call a pattern of behavior. …

Obama cannot react to atrocities committed by jihadis because he is emotionally (we cannot say intellectually, because unlike his Democratic fans we do not think he has much of an intellect), on their side; which means that, whether he realizes it or not, he is on the side of evil.

Mark Steyn clearly sees that IS is evil. He goes on to consider why it is that tens of thousands of volunteers go eagerly to join its army and help it carry out its atrocities.

You’ll recall Hannah Arendt’s tired and misleading coinage “the banality of evil”, derived from her observation of Adolf Eichmann at his trial in Jerusalem.

We explain when and why she said it, and why it is misleading, in our post The cultivation of evil, the sickness of  Europe, July 20, 2010.

Mark Steyn quotes an earlier article of his:

Hitler felt obliged to be somewhat coy about just how final the final solution was. As Eichmann testified at his trial, when typing up the minutes of the Wannsee conference, “How shall I put it? Certain over-plain talk and jargon expressions had to be rendered into office language by me.” Even the Nazis were reluctant to spell it out.

The Germans didn’t have social media, but they had newsreels, and Hitler knew enough not to make genocide available to Pathé or “The March of Time”. He had considerations both domestic and foreign. Pre-Wannsee, in Poland and elsewhere, German troops had been ordered to shoot Jewish prisoners in cold blood, and their commanders reported back to Berlin that too many soldiers had found it sickening and demoralizing. So the purpose of “the final solution” was to make mass murder painless, at least for the perpetrators – more bureaucratic, removed, bloodless.

As for foreign considerations, Germany expected to be treated as a civilized power by its enemies, and that would not have been possible had they been boasting about genocide.

Seventy years on, the Islamic State has slipped free of even these minimal constraints. They advertize their barbarism to the world, because what’s the downside? Let’s say the guys who burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh are one day captured by Americans. They can look forward to a decade or two of a soft, pampering sojourn in the US justice system, represented by an A-list dream-team that’ll string things along until the administration figures it’ll cut its losses and ship them to Qatar in exchange for some worthless deserter.

As for the upside, “the banality of evil” may have its appeal for lower-middle-class Teuton bureaucrats, but the glamor of evil is a far more potent and universal brand. The Islamic State has come up with the ultimate social-media campaign: evil goes viral! At some level German conscripts needed to believe they were honorable soldiers in an honorable cause, no different from the British or Americans. But ISIS volunteers are signing up explicitly for the war crimes. The Islamic State burned Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh alive not only to kill him but to inspire the thousands of ISIS fanbois around the globe. 

For many of its beneficiaries, modern western life is bland, undemanding and vaguely unsatisfying. Some seek a greater cause, and turn to climate change or LGBTQWERTY rights. But others want something with a little more red meat to it. Jihad is primal in a way that the stodgy multiculti relativist mush peddled by Obama isn’t. And what the Islamic State is offering is Jihad 2.0, cranking up the blood-lust and rape and sex slavery and head-chopping and depravity in ways that make Osama-era al-Qaeda look like a bunch of pantywaists.

Success breeds success. The success of evil breeds darker evil. And the glamorization of evil breeds ever more of those “recent Muslim converts” and “lone wolves” and “self-radicalized extremists” in the news. That’s a Big Idea – a bigger idea, indeed, than Communism or Nazism.

Islam, as we know, means “submission”. But Xtreme-Sports Hyper-Islam, blood-soaked and baying, is also wonderfully liberating, offering the chance for dull-witted, repressed young men to slip free of even the most basic societal restraints. And, when the charms of the open road in Headchoppistan wear thin, your British and Canadian and Australian and European welfare checks will still be waiting for you on the doormat back home. …

As the world burns, Obama, uh, redoubles his, uh, vigilance, uh uh uh… Whatever.

Mark Steyn reminds us that “civilization is a fragile and unnatural state of affairs”. Its would-be destroyers now, in the early twenty-first century, are: the environmentalists; the world-government advocates and all the rest of the collectivists, whatever they call themselves –  progressives or socialists or communists; and, above all, most dangerous, already destroying as much as they can of the heritage of civilization, and winning battle after battle, encountering no effective opposition – Islam.

Obama won’t name it, not even by using the polite form of its name that most politicians and commentators use, “Islamism”.

But be assured that against something or other, he is redoubling his vigilance.

The stench remains 3

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Birkenau was where the mass gassings were done.

The liberating servicemen … gathered Germans from surrounding towns and villages and forced them to walk around the camp and look at the human misery and cruelty that their people were responsible for. The Germans protested that they knew nothing about it. “Wir haben doch nicht gewust.” Of course living around the concentration camp with all the atrocities and smell from the crematorium, they must have known about this situation. – Joseph Aleksander, extermination camp survivor.

Of course they knew. Every German knew.

The German “Resistance”, like the French, has grown bigger every year since World War Two ended. Unlike the French which started with a real if small number, the German grew from zero.

Zero on day zero – this day 70 years ago.

A few brave individuals (most of them are probably known) dared to defy the regime or protest. Otherwise, Germany as a nation was guilty.

And must the Germans bear guilt for all time?

No, not guilt. Only those who commit a crime and those who connive at it are guilty of it.

But shame, yes. If Germans want to be proud of the good in their history, they must in all consistency be ashamed of the evil.

The chamber, which was divided by two compartments, could admit 800 people at a time, and if the need arose considerably more were crammed in. … After the doors were shut, bolted and screwed fast, specially trained SS disinfection experts introduced the gas Zyklon B in the form of small lumps of diatomite soaked in prussic acid. Death of the people inside the gas chamber occurred after a few minutes as a result of internal suffocation caused by the prussic acid halting the exchange of oxygen between the blood and tissues. … Most of the corpses were found near the door through which the victims had tried to escape from the spreading gas. The corpses, which covered the entire floor of the gas chamber, had their knees half bent, and were often cloven together. The bodies were smeared with excrement, vomit and blood. The skin assumed a pink hue. … We reached an open place which resembled a courtyard, in the middle of which stood a thatched–roof house … used as an undressing room for those on their way to the pyre. It was here that they deposited their shabby clothes, their glasses, and their shoes. Behind the house enormous columns of smoke rose skyward, diffusing the odour of broiled flesh and burning hair– Witness’s testimony, Holocaust Research Project.

Posted under Germany, History by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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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.

A dark prophecy for Europe 4

Should our civilization collapse under Islamic aggression – aided by our own political correctness, cowardice, laziness  – the only known place with intelligent life in this universe will be a dark and destroyed planet drifting through space, populated by billions of mostly inbred humans living in total misery, enslaved by the freedom-hating, death-loving, brutal, mind-numbing Sharia. What tragedy could be worse than that? 

We quote from an article at 10news, by Nicolai Sennels:

Islam knows no borders and no mercy, and if our generation does not stop them, the next generation will not even have a chance to make the attempt. Our grandfathers defeated Nazism, our parents’ generation overcame Communism. The great challenge of our time is Islam – an enemy of freedom more present, fanatic and vast in numbers than any totalitarian system before it. This enemy is different than anything we have encountered before: You can not intimidate an enemy who loves death more than life.

Our police is already unable to uphold the law in many of the Muslim ghettos mushrooming everywhere, even in smaller towns. Ever more regular outbreaks of what can best be described as minor incidents of civil war give us a taste of what is waiting for us later this decade (according to Al Qaeda’s prophetic plan made in the 1990s, this will happen in 2016 – Arab governments should be toppled from around 2010 and an Islamic state was planned to be established from 2013 …).

Muslim dominated areas are increasing in numbers and boldness – encouraged by the lack of consequence from Western authorities – and it is only a matter of time before they evolve into permanently warring Muslim enclaves fighting for unconstitutional, religious rights. Through our self-inflicted invasion we are creating our own Gaza Strips, which are already spawning an unending stream of attacks against non-Muslims and the surrounding non-Islamic society. Muslim immigration is crushing our economy, undermining our hard-won safety, attacking free speech and increasingly changing physical areas of our cities into unrecognizable, dangerous no-go sharia-zones.

Muslims believing in jihad are neither extremists, nor a minority. Muslims believing in the obligation to wage jihad to fulfill their religious duty are following mainstream fundamentals of Islam as it is clearly written unambiguously and repeatedly in the Quran and Mohammed’s equally holy life story, the Hadiths. 75 percent of the roughly 56 million Muslims living in Europe believe that the Quran must be taken literally and 65 percent think that the Sharia is more important than democratic laws. 80 percent of young Turks in Holland believe that Jihad against non-Muslims is fine. 27 percent of all French youth and 14 percent of all British youths – presumably including the vast majority of young Muslims in these countries – support the Islamic State. What do these numbers mean? They mean that the countless Muslim ghettos eating up Western towns and cities are populated with hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of people supporting the jihadi doctrine. What will happen when they feel strong enough to destroy and overtake our societies? Will they remain passive and peaceful, or will they seize the chance? Many, surely, will do the latter.

Instead of being thankful for the safety and welfare provided by hard working Western tax payers, Muslims in Europe have raised an army of jihadis supporting Islam’s genocidal agenda.

What can we do? Or rather: What must we do, in order to prevail for the sake of humanity and future generations?

Through democratic means, we must mobilize the immense power and organizational talent that lies behind the creation of the most free, rich, and technologically advanced societies in world history and direct it towards our own survival. If we manage to awaken this sleeping giant before our countries are destroyed by barbarians – just like all other high cultures before ours – we will be able to defeat the hordes of inbred fanatics without panic or hate. During this crucial historical period we must not lose our human face and destroy the very values we are trying to protect. We must stay honest, outspoken and engage with realistic means and force, while staying focused on long term win-win solutions. By approaching the problem without fear, but only with mental surplus and a broad overview, we can succeed while creating only a minimum amount of unavoidable harm. Reacting with totalitarian measures such as banning Free Speech to protect “social cohesion” or succumbing to immature emotions for revenge alone will not benefit our cause.

Peaceful societies with social values and a high degree of morality have been exploited to a devastating degree – economically, culturally and demographically – by myriads of Muslim immigrants and refugees.

Modern welfare and decades of peace have put our survival instinct into hibernation. This makes it difficult for us to understand that we will not overcome this historical challenge without the use of real force. A gentle approach that might be affordable under healthy demographic conditions is suicidal when confronted with a weapon of mass-destruction like Islam. We have come to this point because for too long, we have taken freedom for granted.

We can hate the system, but we can not hate the people. … Muslims are the first victims of Islam, as their system is full of rules and brutal punishments aimed at themselves. Muslims are the real islamophobes: only fear can explain peoples’ submission to such a joyless, unfree and painful system, forcing them to think and behave in ways that creates ever more suffering in their own lives.

Until Muslims free themselves from the chains of sharia, we must make sure that the trouble that their religion brainwashes and forces them to make, happens from a sufficiently safe distance. Therefore we must stop non-Western (Muslim) immigration, and make it as difficult as possible for followers of the religion of submission to live here by banning any kind of Islamization. If they want mosques, halal, prayer rooms, cousin-marriages, and Islamic holidays, they must settle elsewhere. We do not want any mosques or minarets, no public or foreign funding of Islamic organisations or imams.  All Muslims coming to our lands must actively and publicly reject the violent and criminal passages of the Islamic scriptures. Performing or promoting jihad is treason and should result in loss of citizenship. This means that we would probably have to find ways to accommodate large [numbers] of people …  in or near Islamic countries where they do not suffer from living outside their cultural circle. …

In this way can we save humanity from what is probably the greatest catastrophe in the history of mankind: a monstrous weapon of mass destruction that has already killed millions of people and destroyed countless cultures and societies before ours. A system that is robbing its own followers of the most basic human rights and which is forcing them to suppress and kill their own. A system that is aiming at subjugating all human beings – Muslims and non-Muslims – under barbaric, totalitarian laws. A system that calls itself a religion but is so much more than that. A system that praises death more than life. A system that knows no mercy and no borders.

A system whose name means “submission”.

A system that bears the name Islam.

These opinions and prescriptions voiced by a spokesman of a group in Britain are similar to those of rebel groups growing in many parts of Europe. (For just a few of many reports see here, here and here.)

The Left dubs all of them “extreme right-wing” to raise connotations of twentieth century fascist and racist movements, and recalls their anti-Semitism to strengthen its case. Watch, if you have the stamina, this video and hear what the leftist pro-Islam pundits have to say. The irony is that Leftism is now the most virulently anti-Semitic ideology in the world, after Islam itself.

It is true that some of the new movements are fascist and racist and anti-Semitic, but not all of them. They are on the rise because Islam is truly a terrible enemy gaining power in the heart of Europe, and fiercely and insanely protected by European governments. Almost all the main political parties are still choosing to ignore the threat of Islam, or at best to play it down.

If many of the protest rebel groups turn out to be destructive of liberal democracy itself (which 1onews takes care to deny is any part of its own agenda), the establishments will have only themselves to blame. Most Western European countries are still not just allowing but encouraging more Muslim immigration, despite the carnage and crime that members of their present Muslim populations inflict on them continually and increasingly.

Many Europeans are predicting violent uprisings in their countries, and even civil wars – ever more plausibly.

A rise of nationalist sentiment in small nations is adding to the rebellious mood. (Here’s a video about it.)

So the peace that Europe boasts of keeping on its own soil since the end of Word War II – many Europhiles claiming that the European Union has made wars between the states impossible – seems almost certain to be shattered.

If there is little doubt that it will happen, the question is – how soon?

Europe is dying anyway, as its indigenous populations dwindle away. Civil wars will hasten its end in a welter of blood. Then, because of its peoples’ own folly, bleak cruel primitive Islam will inherit the continent, and undertake the holy task of destroying every last vestige of its high civilization.

The French pandemonium (two) 1

Today we post under Pages (listed at the top of our margin), essay number 12 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 (Two). Its subjects are the twentieth century writers Georges Bataille, and –  to a lesser extent – André Breton

Here is part of the essay:

Of all the cultivators of Evil in twentieth century France, none was so devout, so persistent, or plunged so deep into moral and material muck as Georges Bataille. He hungered and lusted for Evil. He was a coprophiliac, and a necrophiliac – committing, by his own confession or boast, an incestuous sexual act, in a state of “arousal to the limit”, upon his mother’s corpse in the moments after her death.

Bataille wrote that human beings, as a species, should move towards “an ever more shameless awareness of the erotic bond that links them to death, to cadavers, and to horrible physical pain.”

He was fascinated by the filthy, the stinking; by secretions, excretions, exudations; by things discarded, damaged, abandoned. “Bataille,” wrote one of his appreciators, “displayed a quasi-religious veneration toward objects and acts that, according to the mores of bourgeois convention, were targets of opprobrium … During the ‘30s, Bataille’s ‘literary’ activities centered on developing a theory of ‘base matter’, items and effluvia that remained impervious to assimilation by the all-consuming maw of bourgeois cultural respectability: feces, menstrual blood, cadavers, the baboon’s brightly colored anus, and so forth.”

But Bataille’s veneration of the disgusting was not just “quasi-religious” – it was intensely religious. It was Gnostic . This the admiring writer goes on to demonstrate, though without referring to the Gnostic precedent. He writes: “Herein lie the affinities between Bataille’s world view and the discourse of ‘negative theology’ or redemption through sin. … The duality between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’ obsessed him, but the habitual signs were reversed. He elevated acts of profanation or desecration to epiphanies: singular mystical moments of Oneness with the All. … For Bataille … the act of willfully violating taboos offered privileged access to the holy.”

Raised in a non-believing family, young Georges converted to Catholicism when he was seventeen, and even spent a year in a seminary studying to be a priest. When he became a priest of blasphemy, or holy sinner, he retained all the self-flagellating passion, all the pious devotion and aura of sanctity of the Catholic ecclesiastic. He remained throughout his adult life shut mentally in the box of religion with its atmosphere of incense and sulfur, its fixation on blood, pain, death and sin.

He contended that what was missing in ordinary modern life, what society lacked for full satisfaction, was the “expression of savage needs” that “subsist only at the limits of horror”. And what were the “limits of horror” in Bataille’s dream? Nothing less than ritual human sacrifice. The combination of agony, death, and religious rite was very much to his taste. He wrote: “Human sacrifice is loftier than any other – not in the sense that it is crueler than any other, but because it is close to the only sacrifice without trickery, which can only be the ecstatic loss of oneself.”

His best of all horrors was “ecstatic loss of the self” by choice: voluntary human sacrifice. He wrote: “The movement that pushes a man to give himself (in other words, to destroy himself) completely, so that a bloody death ensues, can only be compared, in its irresistible and hideous nature, to the blinding flashes of lightning that transform the most withering storm into transports of joy.” Oh, the intense joy of dying in excruciating pain! He and others in his circle formed a secret society which was to launch itself with a beheading. Every member was willing to be the sacrificial victim and have his head sawn off – but none would consent to be the executioner.

The external movement that he would have push him to transports of joy was Communism. …

You can find all of it here.

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