Why do tens of millions in the West prostrate themselves before advancing, conquering, oppressive Islam?
Why do millions of Americans still vote for the Democratic Party?
This essay offers a chilling explanation.
It is from Jihad Watch, by Alexander Maistrovoy:
“Progressive man” refuses to recognize the crimes of Islam, not because he is naive, fine-tempered or tolerant. He does it because, unconsciously or subconsciously, he has already accepted Islam as a religion of salvation. As he accepted Stalinism, Hitlerism, Maoism and the “Khmer Rouge” before it …
Joseph de Maistre, a French aristocrat of the early 19th century, argued that man cannot live without religion, and not religion as such, but the tyrannical and merciless one. He was damned and hated, they called him an antipode of progress and freedom, even a forerunner of fascism; however, progressives proved him right again and again.
It may be true of most people that they “cannot live without religion”, but it is not true of all. We wonder how, since the Enlightenment, and especially now in our Age of Science, people can live with a religion. We agree, however, that those who need a religion are not put off by its being “tyrannical and merciless”.
Is there a religion, whether deity-worshiping or secular, that is not tyrannical and merciless?
In their nihilistic ecstasy, Homo progressicus threw God off the pedestal, trampled upon the humanistic ideal of Petrarch, Alberti and Leonardo Bruni, who relied on Reason and strove for virtue, and … found themselves in complete and gaping emptiness. They realized that they could not live without the God-man — the idol, the leader, the ruler, who would rely on the unshakable, ruthless idea of salvation — not in the other world, but in this real world here and now. And with all the passion so inherent to their shallow, unstable, infantile nature, they rushed out in search of their “prince on a white horse”.
The idols of the progressives were tyrants armed with the most progressive ideology: Robespierre, and after him Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and finally — Islam.
Islam does not, of course, claim to be “progressive”. It derives from – and is stuck in – the Dark Ages. But the self-styled progressives of the West are welcoming it and submitting to it.
In the 20th century, the Western intelligentsia was infected with red and brown bacilli.
Walter Duranty ardently denied the Holodomor.
That is Stalin’s forced famine in the Ukraine that killed many millions. Walter Duranty denied that it was happening in his New York Times reports.
Bernard Shaw and Romain Rolland justified OGPU terror and the kangaroo court in Moscow; Aragon, Barbusse (the author of the apologetic biography of Stalin: Stalin. A New World Seen Through the Man) and Jean-Richard Bloch glorified “the Father of nations”.
“I would do nothing against Stalin at the moment; I accepted the Moscow trials and I am prepared to accept those in Barcelona,” said Andre Malraux during the massacre of anarchists from POUM [the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification] by Communists in Barcelona in 1937.
Let’s guess: who is writing about whom? “Lonely overbearing man … damned disagreeable”, “friendly and commonplace”, possessing “an intelligence far beyond dogmatism” … “sucked thoughtfully at the pipe he had most politely asked my permission to smoke … I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest”. Got it? It was Stalin, as portrayed by H. G. Wells.
How many sufferings – Solzhenitsyn recalled — were caused by progressive Western journalists, who after having visited the GULAG, praised Potemkin villages with allegedly heated barracks where political prisoners used to read Soviet newspapers sitting at clean neat tables? Indeed, Arthur Ransome (The Guardian), an American journalist and a fan of Mao, Agnes Smedley, New York reporter Lincoln Steffens (after the meeting with Lenin he wrote,“I have seen the future and it works”), Australian-British journalist Leonore Winter (the author of the book called Red Virtue: Human Relations in the New Russia) and many others sympathized with the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union. Juan Benet, a famous Spanish writer, suggested “strengthening the guards (in GULAG), so that people like Solzhenitsyn would not escape”. The Los Angeles Times published Alexander and Andrew Cockburn, who were Stalin’s admirers.
Hitler? Knut Hamsun, Norwegian novelist who won the Nobel Prize, described Hitler in an obituary as a “fighter for humanity and for the rights of all nations”. The “amorousness” of Martin Heidegger for the “leader of the Third Reich” is well known. In the 1930s, the Führer was quite a respectable person in the eyes of the mass media. Anne O’Hare McCormick – a foreign news correspondent for the New York Times (she got a Pulitzer Prize) — described Hitler after the interview with him: he is “a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller … His eyes are almost the color of the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid … His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit … Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.”
The French elites were fascinated by Hitler. Ferdinand Celine said that France would not go to “Jewish war”, and claimed that there was an international Jewish conspiracy to start the world war. French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet rendered honors to Ribbentrop, and novelist, essayist and playwright Jean Giraudoux said that he was “fully in agreement with Hitler when he states that a policy only reaches its highest form when it is racial”.
The Red Guards of Chairman Mao caused deadly convulsions in China and ecstatic [sympathetic] rage in Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Jan Myrdal, Charles Bettelheim, Alain Badiou and Louis Pierre Althusser. In Paris, Barbusse and Aragon created “the pocket monster” — Enver Hoxha [Communist dictator of Albania]; at Sorbonne University, Sartre worked out “the Khmer Rouge Revolution” of Pol Pot, Hu Nima, and Ieng Sary. Noam Chomsky characterized the proofs of Pol Pot’s genocide as “third rate” and complained of a “vast and unprecedented propaganda campaign against the Khmer Rouge”. Gareth Porter, winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, said in May 1977: “The notion that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea adopted a policy of physically eliminating whole classes of people was … a myth.”
In the 70’s, the whole world already knew the truth about the Red Guards. However, German youth from the Socialist Union of German Students went out on demonstrations with portraits of the “Great Helmsman” and the song “The East is Red”.
In the USA, they went into the streets holding red flags and portraits of Trotsky and Che Guevara, and dream of “Fucking the System” like their idol Abbie Hoffman. The hatred of “petty bourgeois philistines”, as Trotsky named ordinary people, together with the dream of guillotines, bayonets, and “red terror”, keep inspiring Western intellectuals like Tariq Ali, the author of the revolutionary manual Trotsky for Beginners.
“The middle class turned out to be captured by ‘bourgeois-bohemian Bolshevism’,” Pascal Bruckner wrote.
Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot passed away, but new heroes appeared in their places. Leading employees of CNN – reporter Peter Arnett, producer Robert Wiener and director of news department Eason T. Jordan – had excellent relations with close associates of Saddam Hussein, pretending they didn’t know anything about his atrocities. Hollywood stars set up a race of making pilgrimages to Castro and Chavez. Neo-Marxist professors and progressive intellectuals, such as Dario Fo, Jean Baudrillard and Martin Amis, welcomed the triumph of al-Qaeda on September 11.
The romanticization of the “forged boot” and “iron hand”, the worship of “lonely overbearing” men with “the sensitive hand of the artist” — this explains the amazing easiness with which recent anarchists, pacifists, Marxists, atheists, after having changed a couple of ideologies, burden themselves with the most primitive, barbaric and despotic religion of our time: Islam.
Atheists of the Left only, being atheists who dispense with belief in the supernatural but still need a religion.
What they crave for is not religion as such. They don’t want Buddhism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism, or even the mild Islam of the Sufi or Ahmadiyya version. They want a religion that would crush them, rape their bodies and souls, and destroy their ego — one that would terrify them and make them tremble with fear, infirmity and impotence.
Only bloodthirsty medieval Islam is able to do this today. It alone possesses unlimited cruelty and willingness to burn everything on its way. And they gather like moths flying to the flame: communists Roger Garaudy, “Carlos the Jackal”, Trond Ali Linstad, Malcolm X, Alys Faiz; human rights defenders Jemima Goldsmith, Keith Ellison, and Uri Davis, the fighter against Zionism for the rights of the Palestinians. Fathers favor Castro, such as Oliver Stone; their sons accept Islam, such as Sean Stone. According to a public opinion poll conducted in August 2014 (Madeline Grant, Newsweek), “16% of French citizens support ISIS”. There are 7% to 8% of Muslims living in France. Who makes up the rest 8% to 9%?
Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn, John Brennan, Hollywood stars, Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Integration Minister, who like her boss Stefan Löfven claimed that “there was no connection between crime and immigration”; Michael Fabricant, a former vice-chair of the Tory party, who said that “some conservative Anglicans are the same as ISIS”; German politicians that established a media watchdog to “instruct the press to censor ethnicity and religion in crime reports” (a modification of Soviet censure); the Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips, who believes that it is inevitable to recognize Sharia courts in Great Britain; atheist-apologist for Islam (O my God!) CJ Werleman; Canadian Liberals, who support the anti-Islamophobia motion; Georgetown professor Jonathan Brown, who justifies slavery and raping of female slaves; Wendy Ayres-Bennett, a UK professor who is urging Brits to learn Urdu and Punjabi to make Muslim migrants feel welcome; Ohio State University, that offered a course on “how Muslims helped build America”; the Swedish state-owned company Lernia encouraging the replacement of standard Swedish with the “migrant-inclusive accent”; American feminists with the slogans “Allahu akbar” and “I love Islam”, who endorse the BDS movement; Swedish feminists wearing burkas in Iran; “proud feminists” such as Elina Gustafsson and Gudrun Schyman defending Muslim criminals who raped Swedish girls – all of them and thousands of others have already converted to Islam, if not de jure, then de facto.
They appeal to Islam to escape from their fears, complexes, helplessness, and uselessness. They choose the despotism of body and spirit to deprive themselves of their freedom – the freedom that has always been an unbearable burden for their weak souls full of chimeras. They crave slavery.
They are attracted by Islam today, but it’s not about Islam. It’s about them. If Islam is defeated tomorrow and a new Genghis Khan appears with the “religion of the steppe”, or the kingdom of the Aztecs rises with priests tearing hearts from the chest of living people, they will passionately rush into their embrace. They are yearning for tyranny, and will destroy everything on their way for the sake of it. Because of them, “we shall leave this world here just as stupid and evil as we found it upon arrival”. (Voltaire)
“Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendum” – “Apart from all this, Carthage must be destroyed“.
That was the statement Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE) made at the end of every one of his speeches in the Roman Senate during the Punic Wars (Rome against Carthage), no matter what the rest of the speech had been about.
The statement became a slogan, often shortened to “Carthago delenda est”.
For years we have copied Cato the Elder by writing “The UN must be destroyed” at the end of every post that mentions that evil institution.
Now the need for it to be wiped off the face of the earth, or at the very least expelled from American soil and denied American tax-payers’ money, has been made urgent by the iniquitous action of its “Security Council”, initiated by the perfidious outgoing Obama administration of the US government, against the state of Israel. (See our post Obama’s parting act of extreme vindictiveness, December 23, 2016. For the harm the resolution will do see here.)
Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page:
The United States pays 22% of the total UN budget. What we get for our $3 billion a year is a corrupt organization whose dysfunctional and hostile agencies are united in opposing us around the world.
The United Nations does only two things consistently and effectively: waste money and bash Israel. Sometimes it manages to do both at the same time.
After an extended, and no doubt costly, visit to the region, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women blamed Muslim men beating their wives on Israeli settlements.
No wonder the UN Security Council just condemned them. Who wouldn’t rightfully be upset that Jews living in Jerusalem somehow causes poor Mohammed to batter his wife?
The Jewish State is the UN’s scapegoat for anything and everything. The Palestinian Authority blamed Israel at the UN for Global Warming. WHO [the World Health Organization, a UN agency] denounced Israel for violating “health rights”.
Israel is one of the foremost inventors and manufacturers of advanced life-saving medical technology in the world. Extremely effective Israeli teams rush to places where disasters occur to provide medical assistance, always free of charge. Israel even cures its enemies free of charge, and returns them to enemy territory to continue plotting its destruction.
And even when Muslim terrorists stab Israelis, it’s still Israel’s fault.
The latest anti-Israel vote at the UN has led to calls to defund the corrupt organization which, even when it isn’t actively trying to hurt us or our allies, is making the world worse every which way it can.
Just this summer the UN admitted that it had spread cholera that killed tens of thousands in Haiti. Sexual abuse allegations against its staffers were up 25% last year. In the spring, the UN admitted that peacekeepers from three countries had raped over 100 girls in only one African country. …
Here’s what we get for our $3 billion.
UNRWA schools are turning out students who want to fight for ISIS. The UN’s email system has been used to distribute child pornography. UN staff members have smuggled drugs, attacked each other with knives and pool cues, not to mention a tractor. This month the UN marked Anti-Corruption Day despite refusing to fight its own corruption. The former President of the UN General Assembly was arrested on bribery charges last year. He had also headed UNICEF’s executive board. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is battling accusations of bribery.
Some of this might be defensible if the UN did anything useful. It doesn’t. It’s just a slush fund for redistributing our money to a vast UN bureaucracy and anyone willing to bribe it for benefits.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the UN vote by beginning the process of defunding the UN. And there’s every reason in the world for us to also stop tossing money at the United Nations.
It’s something that we and every sane country should have done decades ago. If you give money to the UN, it will end up anywhere and everywhere except where it’s supposed to go. But defunding the UN isn’t enough. There is no reason for us to remain there at all.
The United Nations has never met any of its lofty goals. During the Cold War it became a playground for the Communist powers. The USSR, the second signatory to the UN charter, helped force out the first signatory, Taiwan. Even while the treaty was being signed, it was taking over Poland, the 51st signatory.
These days, the United Nations is a forum for Islamist powers and the rotting remains of the Communist front to continue its war against the free world while seducing weak-minded nations into going along.
We are not making the world a better place by being members of this anti-American organization which vacillates between being evil and useless.
You can always count on UN peacekeeping troops to run away whenever they might be called on to use force. The head of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was fired by the UN for refusing to protect aid workers, including Americans, who were being raped and assaulted. …
The UN was brought into being in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II. Instead of ending “the scourge of war”, the UN has a solid track record of uselessness and complicity in the face of genocide.
Israel was the first to alert the UN to Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia. But Moscow and its Syrian ally conspired to protect the Communist dictatorship. The UN did not condemn the killing. And only a generation later did it convene the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has been running for almost twenty years. It took ten years to arrest Brother Number Three, the Foreign Minister of the Communist terror state, whose lies the United Nations chose to believe when the butchery was taking place.
He died six years later while still on trial.
The UN has been apologizing for its non-response to the Rwandan genocide for decades. But apologizing for not doing anything is what the United Nations does best. That and condemn Israel.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council couldn’t even manage to pass a ceasefire resolution on Syria.
Venezuela, which championed the anti-Israel resolution, took time out from starving its own people to protect Assad. Why in the world would anyone take this vote, or any UN vote, seriously?
The UN’s Human Rights Council members include China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Venezuela. UN Women, the body dedicated to empowering women, includes China, which forces women to have abortions; Pakistan, where women can be murdered by their male relatives for marrying on their own; and Iran, where it’s practically illegal for a woman to leave the house.
The United Nations does not promote its own ideals. Or ours. Instead, it sanctimoniously violates them. Providing every brutal dictatorship with equal representation hasn’t ushered in an age of human rights. Allowing Islamic terrorists and the radical left to denounce their enemies hasn’t made the world better. And throwing $3 billion a year at the towering UN swamp on Turtle Bay only wastes our time and money. …
The UN doesn’t share our ideals. It’s time to build our closest alliances with the countries that do.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the 2030 agenda a “Declaration of Interdependence.” We must declare our independence from the UN’s interdependency of corruption and tyranny.
We should defund and withdraw. Where quarreling diplomats once preened in the tower above Turtle Bay, seagulls will soar and young couples will walk with their children. The billions we waste on the UN will go toward taking care of our people. And once we are free of the UN, we will actually be able to promote real human rights instead of pandering to the dictators and Islamists of the United Nations.
Like the League of Nations, the United Nations is a failed experiment. The only difference is that, despite decades of wars, genocides and terror, we still haven’t pulled the plug.
President Obama has betrayed his own country – the country he has led for eight years – by colluding with the UN against Israel.
President Trump will have the opportunity to pull out of the UN and drain the swamp in Turtle Bay.
UN delenda est.
Obama over. Hillary out. Merkel, Juncker, Hollande soon to go. Maduro done for. FIDEL CASTRO DEAD.
It’s over. The terrible century of Socialist idealism in practice, whether just depressingly as in the United States under Obama, or with totalitarian horror elsewhere under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, is coming to its end.
There are still a few Socialists in power – to mourn the death of the Monster of Cuba. Instead of abominating him as he deserves and condemning his cruel tyranny, they will heap praise on him.
As does the prime minister of Canada:
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro:
November 26, 2016
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro:
“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.
“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.
“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.
“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”
This punchinello must fall – and will of course.
The Left has nowhere to go but into oblivion. It has proved its own ideas to be disastrously wrong over and over again. It is utterly discredited.
Hundreds of cheers for the death of Fidel Castro!
Fabiola Santiago writes at the Miami Herald:
During the six decades of the Castro brothers totalitarian rule, more than two million Cubans fled their beloved island …
One of Castro’s most heinous crimes was the massacre of 41 men, women and children attempting to flee Cuba on a tugboat on July 13, 1994. Cuban authorities sprayed the vessel with water hoses, rammed and sank it. This is not something I read. I interviewed survivors at the Guantanamo Cuban refugee camps months later. The Cuban Coast Guard refused to rescue the drowning, they told me.
There were so many other crimes and human rights abuses, largely ignored or benignly viewed by a world that gave Castro the benefit of the doubt, and only slapped him on the wrist occasionally at some forums like the United Nations.
Fidel Castro, myth and legend to the international left, has died without being brought to justice for his crimes against his people — the passing of the torch and title of president to his brother in 2006 challenged only by brave dissidents who are beaten and detained daily. The Castros have installed their children and grandchildren in government roles, an indication they plan to sustain the family dynasty beyond Raúl’s promised retirement in 2018.
There’s joy, excitement — and hope — at the news of Fidel Castro’s death at 90. I’m skeptical. Castro didn’t govern alone. He had accomplices. …
Still, it won’t be the same without the patriarch. With his death, it feels as if an evil curse — the heaviest of weights — has been lifted on a nation whose children are scattered all over the world. The bogeyman is gone.
At the break of morning, the streets of Havana were deserted. People were told to stay inside, refrain from playing music, close their doors.
Miami never went to sleep, some of the arteries that run through its Cuban heart closed so that people could express the accumulation of 58 years of loss and separation, of disillusionment and never-ending hope.
Cuba sí, Castro no more.
There will be no farewell comandante from us, only a good riddance.
CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF FIDEL CASTRO IN MIAMI
Here is President-elect Trump’s official statement on the death of Fidel Castro. It deserves applause:
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”
This is from a fine article by Jonah Goldberg at Townhall:
Definitions vary, but broadly speaking, libertarianism is the idea that people should be as free as possible from state coercion so long as they don’t harm anyone.
Or as we put it in our Articles of Reason: My liberty should be limited by nothing except everyone else’s liberty.
The job of the state is limited to fighting crime, providing for the common defense, and protecting the rights and contracts of citizens. The individual is sovereign, he is the captain of himself.
It’s true, no ideal libertarian state has ever existed outside a table for one. And no such state will ever exist. But here’s an important caveat: No ideal state of any other kind will be created either. …
Ideals are … goals, aspirations, abstract straight rules we use as measuring sticks against the crooked timber of humanity.
In the old Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and today’s North Korea, they tried to move toward the ideal communist system. Combined, they killed about 100 million of their own people. That’s a hefty moral distinction right there: When freedom-lovers move society toward their ideal, mistakes may be made, but people tend to flourish. When the hard left is given free reign, millions are murdered and enslaved. Which ideal would you like to move toward? …
How statism/collectivism ever came to be an ideal is puzzling enough, but that there are millions who still want it after those calamitous experiments Jonah Goldberg names, remains to us a mystery beyond all comprehension.
It’s a little bizarre how the left has always conflated statism with modernity and progress. The idea that rulers – be they chieftains, kings, priests, politburos or wonkish bureaucrats – are enlightened or smart enough to tell others how to live is older than the written word. And the idea that someone stronger, with better weapons, has the right to take what is yours predates man’s discovery of fire by millennia. And yet, we’re always told that the latest rationalization for increased state power is the “wave of the future.”
That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another – fascism, communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.
The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding. …
We would add that this revolution has been advanced in thought further by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, and (more popularly) Ayn Rand, to name just some of the later philosophers of individual freedom.
What made the American experiment new were its libertarian innovations, broadly speaking. Moreover, those innovations made us prosper. …
I’m actually not a full-blown libertarian myself, but it’s an ideal I’d like America to move closer to, not further away from as we’ve been doing of late – bizarrely in the name of “progress” of all things.
Same goes for us.
The Obama administration is growing ever longer arms and ever more grasping fingers, to reach into every aspect, activity, and setting of our lives: our homes, our possessions, our habits, our tastes, our choices, our minds; to regulate, manipulate, constrain, constrict, direct, control us. Their aim? For them, power beyond the imaginations of all former tyrants; for us, helpless dependence, obedience, submission.
An exaggeration? Let’s see.
Among the people he has appointed to “czardom”, the unelected ideologues who have real executive power, are “behavioral scientists” and “behavioral economists”, who are actively trying to “usher in an era of profound social reform by getting us to change the way we behave, little by little, every day”, to quote an article by Christine Rosen in the July/August issue of Commentary, titled Now Behave. She names in particular Cass Sunstein, co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, whom Obama has appointed his “regulation czar”. What he and his fellow philosophers now governing the Republic are doing is, in Rosen’s words:
.. reconciling political theory with the scientific study of human behavior since, they argue, the old categories of political theory no longer apply. … Personal responsibility? Impossible in a complicated world governed by complex ‘systems’ and limitless choices. The result is a kind of [Pavlovian] stimulus-response politics that promises to liberate citizens from having to make complicated choices in exchange for limiting their freedom.
Promises to liberate us from liberty?
It’s all for own good, of course, as every tyranny has ever been for the good of the tyrannized. But it’s not just for our own individual good. No – as always it’s for the good of “society”.
The new behaviorism isn’t interested in protecting people’s freedom to choose. Its core principle is the idea that only by allowing an expert to limit choices can individuals learn to break their bad habits. … Contemporary behaviorists want to nudge us, but not merely to make us happier, better people. They have specific hopes for the social effects this nudging will achieve: fewer smokers, thinner Americans, higher savings rates.
Now we see the dream in detail. It’s not exactly the same as the grand, vague, Marxist utopian dream of a proletarian paradise. It’s a more mundane, banal projection, concerned with correcting trivial behaviors that insult the puritan eye, nose, and tight fist. A largely aesthetic ideal based on parsimony, satisfying a taste for sparseness and austerity, with everyone skinny and no more unsightly fatties impeding passage through the mall. The venting of a petty and stingy enviousness that cannot endure the sight of abundance. A drive for conforming discipline, with a Spartan adulation of rude health, conjuring up images of medicine-ball, gym-slip, girls’ organizations in the early twentieth century.
The intelligentsia of the Western world, the elite that always classes itself with the rulers rather than the ruled, think all this is wonderful, great, brilliant. If you doubt it, read what distinguished critics and academics say about Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge, quoted proudly in it. Eg: “a wonderful book”; “this gem of a book”; “insightful and amusing, practical and deep … a must-read for anyone who wants to see both our minds and our society working better … it will make the world a better place“.
They see no contempt in it. No evil will. After all, it’s not a plan to force us, the masses; just to plant certain ideas in our minds so we can mull them over and come to accept them as better ideas than our own.
Not forcing us? Are they not already taking steps to regulate how much salt and fat we eat? To limit how much credit we may have so we don’t go and buy something just because we want it? The way you live in your own home will be scrutinized and corrected. Think you can cheat? They have technologies unavailable to earlier totalitarians, and they’ll use them to mold us to their heart’s desire.They are putting X-ray vans on the streets from which they can look into your house and see if you’re just lolling about when you should be working out (in either sense of the phrase). Complain about it? They’ll know. They’re working on censoring your internet communications.
Let’s look at an example of government interference in our home lives, at one way our betters are limiting the choices we can make in small and necessary things.
Ed Feulner, president of that splendid stronghold of conservative principles, the Heritage Foundation, writes today in Townhall:
So, are you ready to comply with the federal government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs? Me neither.
Starting in January 2012, a little over a year from now, the phase-out begins. Simple, inexpensive lighting will become a time-capsule item. Compact-fluorescent lights, or CFLs — the bulbs that look like a twisted ice-cream cone (and won’t fit in many light fixtures where space is tight) — will become the new norm.
Anyone who has priced CFLs knows they’re not cheap. Supposedly they’re worth the extra money because they’ll last longer. That’s cold comfort, though, given the dull, unnatural glow that these bulbs throw off.
Worse, CFLs are full of mercury. If one breaks — and who hasn’t dropped a light bulb now and then? — you have an elaborate clean-up process ahead of you. It’s on the EPA’s website, and it involves evacuating the area of all people and pets, and using duct tape and damp paper towels to get everything up. (Go to www.epa.gov for complete details.) And no vacuuming, or you may disperse the mercury – which, after all, is a toxic substance.
So why are we making the switch? … The theory, of course, is that we’ll consume less energy. It’s all part of the green agenda. The same agenda that the president insists will produce scads of high-paying, earth-friendly “green jobs.” Tell that to the 200 workers in Winchester, Va., who are losing their jobs as General Electric closes its incandescent-bulb factory there. Or to the Americans who work in other plants that have been shuttered.
Yes, some jobs will be created, thanks to the ban. Unfortunately, those jobs won’t be here in the U.S. — they’ll be in China, where CFLs can be made cheaper. …
But at least we’ll be saving energy, right? Not according to a recent study sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It found that energy use under newer “efficient” lighting will actually go up rather than down.
But their will be done.
One of the most profoundly troubling things about all this is that it’s being done to us so easily. Who is crying out against it? Even those who are aware that it is happening are not raising a hullabaloo, not threatening – let alone taking – action to prevent it. Christine Rosen, though she reports, explains, and objects to it, does not seem appalled by it. Ed Feulner, a champion of individual liberty, says of the light-bulb diktat: “This whole affair is a prime example of bad ‘unintended consequences’ resulting from well-intentioned plans — plans imposed by devotees of big-government solutions for nearly every problem.”
Well-intentioned? Can no one see that what we are being subjected to, stealthily nudged into, is a subservience more absolute than Orwell visualized, or Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Kim Jong Il achieved?
Or are these absurd comparisons? True, no cruel punishments, no forced starvation, no mass killings are written into the scenario. The program wears a smiley face. Its authors, the rulers, wish only the happiness of all mankind.
Didn’t they all?
Jillian Becker September 28, 2010
Among free people there will always be many who hold absurd beliefs, such as those of Christianity. Some will hold beliefs that are not only absurd but cruel, such as those of Islam. The beliefs should be argued against. The people who hold them should not be persecuted, though they must be stopped from harming others. That remains in any case the most important function of law.
From an article by Luke Goodrich, Director of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in the Wall Street Journal:
The view of religion as a threat is, of course, common. “New atheists,” such as Richard Dawkins, are one manifestation of that view; he dubs the Catholic Church a “disgusting institution,” one of the “greatest force[s] for evil in the world.” But new atheists are not the only ones. Others cite a history of religious wars, Muslim oppression of women, or Christian skepticism of science as proving the dangers of religion. Backward, superstitious, and bigoted, a threat to science and progress: religion is a divisive, intolerant force that governments should tame.
There are two possible responses to this view. One is to attack the premise, arguing that, no, religion really is a force for social good. Religion motivated 19th century abolitionists; religion gave us Mother Teresa; religion permeates the Louvre.
But might there be reasons to protect religious freedom even assuming religion is harmful? I offer three.
First, a practical one: suppressing religion may exacerbate the very problems it is designed to solve. History shows that religion does not disappear when governments try to suppress it. It goes underground, sometimes erupting more violently than if it were not suppressed.
Second, empowering governments to deem religion harmful, and therefore suppress it, opens the door to tyranny. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are inextricably linked. If the government can deem religion harmful and suppress it in the name of public order, it can do the same to other ideas. It is no coincidence that many of the 20th century’s most tyrannical governments—Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia—made suppression of religion a centerpiece of their administration.
[Third] Finally, suppressing religion—even when done in the name of freedom and equality—strikes at the heart of human dignity, which is the foundation of all human rights. Every human being is born with a “religious” impulse—the urge to seek truth, to embrace the truth as one finds it, and to order one’s life accordingly. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “All human beings are born free” and are “endowed with reason and conscience.” Absent a serious threat of violence or imminent harm, suppressing religion interferes with people’s ability to be fully human, to seek and embrace the truth as they understand it. A serious commitment to human rights requires governments to respect the religious impulse—even if much of society thinks religious beliefs are wrong, silly, or even harmful. If the European Court of Human Rights cannot get past its fear of religion, its jurisprudence will only become more incoherent, and all human rights more fragile.
On the second and third points we agree. They are in defense of freedom.
To the first point – that persecution can strengthen an undesirable movement – we would add this maxim from our own Articles of Reason:
Many a belief can survive persecution but not critical examination.