The most that the Left can hope for 7

… and its weird idea of what constitutes liberty.

Yes, of course, the Left hopes to be in power, everywhere and over all of us. It is a vast ambition, to organize the entire human “community” – or organize the entire human race into a “community”, locked under its power.

But why? Surely it has a vision it considers beautiful?

We sometimes go looking for explanations of why the Left opposes individual freedom, free speech, free market prosperity, private property, the US Constitution, objective impartial justice, racial color-blindness, the nation-state and its military defense capability, the family, the rules of the English language, historical monuments and records, civility, and  – coming at last to a word that could be the title of the whole list – happiness.

And from time to time we find an article that gives us a glimpse of  – not a rational argument as to why – but an exposition of what the Left wants which, discussing some of its hates and dreads, clarifies some of its wishes, even though it still leaves the question why unanswered.

Here’s one such article. The Leftist author, reviewing the work of fellow Leftists, is convinced that Marxism is gaining popularity. He  thinks that the financial crash of 2008 brought about “the intellectual rehabilitation of Marx”.

Outside academic precincts, his ideas have been slowly, if not wholly, exfoliated of their association with dictatorship and state-sponsored terror.

Have they indeed? If so they need to be foliated in those associations again as quickly as possible!

What makes him think so?

Recent, if only partial, exonerations have been issued by the Economist and the New York Times …

No surprise there.

And a host of new “journals and websites [that] share certain characteristics. They express a loathing of the war on terror, and disaffection with the precariousness and austerity of millennial life. The London riots in 2010 and the student protests as well as the Occupy protests in 2011-12 were formative moments of dissent that produced new political imaginaries [sic]. Academics, writers, bloggers and journalist-activists began to describe post-capitalist futures …

Above all, these “little magazines” reflected a growing sense of political possibility, a belief that the future wasn’t locked in the image of oligarchic power, but looked simultaneously darker (inequality and ecological collapse) and more hopeful (a recrudescent left). …  [T]he left began to crawl out from the sumps of melancholia.

We derive a certain amount of Schadenfreude from thinking of the Left as in “the sumps of melancholia”.

How does its new hopefulness express itself?

The blurb advertising the article reads: “Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin, offers a manifesto for socialism that is thrillingly non-utopian.”

“Thrillingly non-utopian”? So a vision not of an ideally beautiful human world, yet “thrilling”?

An irresistible temptation to read on!

The article, titled The rise of millennial socialism, is by Gavin Jacobson (commissioning editor for the Leftist New Statesman).

He writes at the NewStatesmanAmerica:

Across the world, young activists are turning to old ideas. Why? …

[Bhaskar] Sunkara’s vision is thrillingly non-utopian. When describing the ultimate goal of socialism, he alludes to one of its most brilliant, if saturnine, definitions: “converting hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness”.

Now that’s blunt! Not to be happy is the aim. Achieving “ordinary unhappiness” is the height of the socialist aspiration.

And the prospect is thrilling?

The author expatiates further:

The phrase was originally conceived by Freud, but was adapted by the political theorist Corey Robin in 2013. And while you wouldn’t put it on the side of a campaign bus, it gets to the heart of what a socialist economy might look like: helping people overcome, in Robin’s words, the “immense, and incredibly shitty, hassle of everyday life”.

There are more provocative theorists than Sunkara on the American millennial left, and more engaging historians, too. But few of them present the arguments against capitalism and for socialism better than he does. He writes with clarity and light-heartedness – something writers on the left hardly ever do well – and has shrewdly repurposed buzzwords from the liberal centre to make the case for the radical left. The usual socialist argot of justice, equality, class war, dialectics, revolution, the 99 per cent, and so on, is either absent or pared down. Instead, Sunkara emphasises how socialism enables greater choice, leaves markets intact, is about participation and democracy, is created through reform, and is ultimately about freedom – safe-words for the politically curious. In style and endeavour, then, if not in politics, Sunkara might be the heir to Michael Harrington, the founder of the Democratic Socialists of America in 1982, who did so much to promote socialism in the US. …

So this socialism “leaves markets intact”, “is created through reform” (ie. not through revolution – nothing new there, that brand of Leftism used to be called Fabianism) and is “ultimately about freedom”?

At which point we need Sunkara’s definition of freedom. It is not provided.

We are taken back to the familiar politics of the New Left:

Again, this draws on the work of Ralph Miliband, who argued in 1985 that “the exploitation, discrimination and oppression to which women, blacks and gays are subjected is also crucially shaped by the fact that they are workers located at a particular point of the production process and the social structure”.

The Left has not noticed that Europe is governed mostly by women and the men who are allowed to share the seats of power with them have “Feminist” hung round their necks. They have not noticed affirmative action; are unaware that Blacks are admitted to universities on lower academic grades than Whites and Asians. Or that we are forced every day of our lives now to be aware of homosexuality as if it were one of the most important issues in all our lives.

The New Left replaced (to use its own jargon) the Marxist “class analysis” with “race analysis” and – more recently – “gender analysis”.

But we discover here that “class analysis” has not been superseded, only enlarged to take in race and gender:

Prioritising politics over policies is why Sunkara favours Sanders over Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan for everything – “I have a plan for that!” has become her unofficial campaign slogan – but not an alternative politics. It isn’t enough to win the policy argument, nor is it enough to win elections. Today’s socialists speak of the need to win power – not for its own sake, but as the handmaiden of liberty – and that requires a mass movement based on class struggle.

So in that discussion, the Left wants power “not for its own sake” but because it will deliver liberty to women, blacks and gays who are at present – so it analyses – unfree.

No intention there of defining liberty. The author admits that in discussing Sunkara’s view he has told us who must be freed, but not what their freedom will consist of:

If Sunkara asks “Freedom for whom?” Aaron Bastani wants to know “who will benefit?” Specifically, who will benefit from what he calls the “Third Disruption”, when abundance and “extreme supply” in labour, energy, resources, health, and sustenance lead to a post-scarcity world? Just like information, these things “want to be free”, posing grave dangers for an economic system built and sustained by profit.

What? So the present system – capitalism – is  leading to all that “extreme supply”? To a post-scarcity world? Wonderful! Great! Odd that he expects even more of capitalism than we do ourselves. But then he seems to be saying that because there will be so much in the way of “labour” (does he means robots?), “energy” (from what?), “resources” (such as?), “health” (medical care, he presumably means), and “sustenance” (food”?) that they should be free to everybody, like the sands of the desert, the water of the ocean, the air we breathe. He or the writer he quotes expresses it badly,  saying that “these things ‘want to be free'” rather than that people want to have them without having to pay for them.

This desire on the part of these things to be had freely – or let’s be kind and say it the way it makes sense: the fact that there will be so much of these things that they will be freely obtainable by everyone without it costing them anything, will “pose grave dangers” for the capitalist free market system. He is implying that no one will be able to make money out of enterprises that employ people; or by selling coal, gas, oil, wind-power etc.; or by being doctors; or by growing or retailing food.

That is indeed a utopian vision! And that is what Bastani thinks of as liberty. You are free from having to work to earn money, because you do not have to pay for anything. Everything you need is “free”. So that’s what freedom means. In such a world, such a paradise, women, blacks and gays will no longer be “workers located at a particular point of the production process and the social structure”. They will be free when all things are free to them.

Ah, but in that case, women, blacks and gays must face a most disheartening truth – that they will never be free.

Women, blacks, gays – sorry, but there will never be a post-scarcity world.

But now confusion arises in the article. It seems that capitalism and the free market are not creating a post-scarcity world! We thought that view of our present system was too strange  coming from a Leftist.  No, no – he knows that capitalism is failing. Mark off the constantly repeated failures and disasters:

Bastani’s message is that climate change, resource scarcity, surplus populations, and technical unemployment, are syndromes of a dying socio-economic order.

So what will produce the post-scarcity world where everything and therefore everyone is free?

[T]echnological advances in robotics and AI, as well as renewable energies, gene editing, synthetic meats, cellular agricultures, and (eventually) asteroid mining, provide opportunities to achieve FALC [fully automated luxury communism]. This is when, under a realm of plenty, “labour and leisure blend into one another”, and where work is no longer a means of survival, but a “route to self-development… more akin to play”. …

Actually, Gavin Jacobson thinks Bastani may be a little too optimistic …

Bastani’s book isn’t a complete riposte, and load-bearing statements such as, “once the technical barriers are surmounted”, suggest his arguments require more faith from the readers than he might think. Nor does he contend with the fact that capitalism has so tightly bound our collective sense of meaning to work, that post-scarce societies might become more like JG Ballard’s dystopian leisure world in his novel Cocaine Nights than luxury communism.

… though not too unrealistic:

But in outlining the benefits of decarbonised economies, worker-owned businesses, people’s banks, planet taxes and universal basic services, Bastani is starting to put flesh on the spectre that might one day haunt Europe again.

Note the vocabulary: :”decarbonised economies” (think Green New Deal); “worker-owned businesses” (for the danger of which see our post Darkness descends on South Africa); “people’s banks” (loans without limit without interest, without repayment?) “planet taxes” (taxes paid to a world government?); “universal basic services” (everything free).

However, the author says, just hoping for such a utopian “post-scarcity” world has the power of dynamite. To hope is in itself progressive:

Both his [Bustani’s] and Sunkara’s books represent … “the dynamite of hope that blasts the dead load of ossified systems, institutions, customs, intellectual habits, and closed doctrines. The Left unites those dispersed and often hidden atoms whose movement is, in the last analysis, what we call progress”.

Progress towards “fully automated luxury communism”.

“Luxury communism” is the name of the new Marxist utopian vision.

It may be less believable, but it’s certainly less depressing than “ordinary unhappiness”.

Posted under communism, Feminism, Leftism, Marxism, Socialism, world government by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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Pat Condell, defending freedom 2

… and the nationhood that makes it possible.

“We need strong borders and national sovereignty to keep us free,” he rightly insists in this new video, published yesterday, April 29, 2019.

The globalists in power almost everywhere in the West want to destroy the nation state. (Except the US, where we so fortunately have President Trump defending nationhood and liberty.) Their objective is to turn the whole world into “a giant open prison” that would be ruled as China is today.

Posted under Britain, China, Collectivism, Europe, Globalism, nationalism, tyranny, Videos, world government by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 30, 2019

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China’s Belt and Road Initiative 6

While the West is busy raging and plotting against President Trump, complaining about Russia, destroying statues, submitting to invasion by hordes from the Third World, deciding whether to let citizens return who had gone to help ISIS kill and torture, disentangling the European Union, adding new pronouns to the English language, changing men into women and vice verse, China has been reaching out, near and far, grasping chunks of the world by its real needs, making itself the center of a new international trade order, which could some day be a new political order with Beijing as its capital.

China calls it the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Wikipedia describes it thus:

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in [so far] 152 countries and international organizations in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

“Belt” refers to overland routes for road and rail transportation, called “the Silk Road Economic Belt”; “Road” refers to the sea routes, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The old name “Silk Road” makes the Belt sound long-established, connoting beautiful merchandise being carried by traders from East to West, a romance of mutually beneficial trade.

Because the Chinese government wants the world to understand that its initiative is good for all concerned:

The Chinese government calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future” .

And it isn’t only regional, the connectivity: distant parts are brought into the embrace too:

North, central and south belts are proposed. The North belt passes from China through Central Asia and Russia to Europe; the Central belt from China through Central Asia and West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean; the South belt from China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan.

The land corridors include:

The New Eurasian Land Bridge, which runs from Western China to Western Russia through Kazakhstan, and includes the Silk Road Railway through China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.

The China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor, which will run from Northern China to the Russian Far East

The China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor, which will run from Western China to Turkey.

The China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor, which will run from Southern China to Singapore.

The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor, which runs from southern China to Myanmar.

The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.

All of which is over land.

But China is reaching across the seas too.

The Maritime Silk Road is the name of the sea route corridors. It is a complementary initiative aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Oceania [Australia and the islands round it], Africa, and South America, by way of the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean area.

And China has made an agreement with Russia to create an ‘Ice Silk Road’ along the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic (a maritime route which Russia considers to be part of its internal waters). There Chinese and Russian companies are cooperating in oil and gas exploration, infrastructure construction, tourism, and scientific expeditions.

Most of the countries joined to China by Belt and Sea Road have become members of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The bank provides funds for the joint projects, each one of which is part of the great world-wide infrastructure project.

So China has become the indispensable benefactor of countries that could not on their own afford to build their “ports, railways, highways, power stations, aviation and telecommunication facilities”. China joins them together in vast international enterprises. For instance: “the super grid project aims to develop six ultra high voltage electricity grids across China, north-east Asia, Southeast Asia, south Asia, central Asia and west Asia” .

Formal respect is paid to global warming belief:

The wind power resources of central Asia would form one component of this grid.

Back in 2016, This Week in Asia pointed out in what ways and how greatly China would benefit from BRI:

[The Chinese] will generate enough demand abroad to keep their excess steel mills, cement plants and construction companies in business, so preserving jobs at home. They will tie neighboring countries more closely into their own economic orbit, so enhancing both their hard and soft power around the region. They will further their long term plan to promote their own currency as an international alternative to the US dollar. And to finance it all, they will set up a new multi-lateral infrastructure bank, which will undermine the influence of the existing Washington-based institutions, with all their tedious insistence on transparency and best practice, by making more “culturally sensitive” soft loans. The result will be the regional hegemony they regard as their right as Asia’s leading economic and political power.

The paper predicted that BRI was “doomed to fail”. But it seems to be succeeding.

European governments, other than those of Poland and Belarus, have not yet agreed to step on to the Belt, but Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte intends to, and it is rumored that Britain’s insane Prime Minister Theresa May is thinking of it.

General Electric and Caterpillar have signed up to work on BRI projects.

New Zealand has launched itself on the Road.

No doubt President Xi Jinping has his eye on North America.

This would be a good time for him to woo Canada with the Brighter Future song, while Justin Trudeau is still there making destructive decisions.

As for the US, we wonder – did Xi broach Belt and Road propositions to President Trump? If he did, we can probably guess the gist of the answer he got.

But what will the next US President say? Will he/she/zir take America into the warm embrace of China?

Ads like this, the Chinese suppose, will win the hearts and minds of American millennials:

 

But for now – has anybody noticed that China’s hegemony is growing by the day, not just in its region, but world-wide?

Posted under China, Videos, world government by Jillian Becker on Saturday, April 27, 2019

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The end of the nation state? 15

“Open borders” means no borders. “No borders” means no nation-states.

Philip Carl Salzman writes at the Middle East Forum about the ideas of borders and multiculturalism mainly as they affect Canada. His observations are applicable much more widely:

The idea of “open borders” is to open one’s heart and arms to everyone in the world, open one’s country to all comers, to encourage everyone to come. “Open borders” is an increasingly popular idea in the West. Mainstream politicians of the European Union and of the largest countries of the Union have thrown open their borders and admitted all comers. So too in North America. Canada has welcomed anyone who infiltrates the partially unguarded border as well as returning Islamic State terrorists. In the U.S., the Democrat Party increasingly opposes enforcing border protection and removing “illegal aliens” (to use the official government term), called “dreamers” by Democrats as they chant “abolish ICE” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The writer finds “three lines of political thought”, flowing together, gave rise to “the new enthusiasm for open borders”. They are “multiculturalism, utopianism, and ‘social justice'” – each one of them in itself “ill advised”. He examines their respective effects on the disastrous “progressive” idea of open borders. The whole article needs to be read in full, but we are only concerned here with cultures – high, low, and forced into co-habitation.

Of multiculturalism in Canada he writes:

In the past, people in Western countries wished to protect and preserve their ways of life, their cultures. It was therefore common for immigration policy to encourage those from similar backgrounds and to limit those from different backgrounds. But in recent decades Western countries have shifted from “nationalism” to “multiculturalism.” The multicultural view, as the current prime minister of Canada has said, is that there is no mainstream culture in Canada, that Canada is a “post-national” state. The “progressive” elites of other Western countries, especially in western Europe, accept the multicultural perspective and have opened their doors to floods of Middle Easterners — most of whom bear cultures incompatible with traditional Western culture.

Western political and educational elites see multiculturalism as authorizing people of every culture around the world to come to Canada, the U.S., and Europe, and continue to live in their language and culture. Cultural relativism, the view that all cultures are equally good and valuable, is assumed and defended. So there is no reason to defend borders, or even to have them, because it would be fine to have unregulated flows of people from anywhere and everywhere. In fact, the “progressive” view is that the more people from many cultures that come, the better, because “diversity” is somehow “enriching”.

All of these arguments in favor of multiculturalism are false. First, different cultures — different languages, beliefs, values, rewards, and punishments — are incompatible and cannot exist in the same society. You cannot drive both on the left and on the right; you cannot have both male supremacism and gender equality. Some immigrants are actively hostile to European, Canadian, and American culture, and some have acted and others will act against their adopted society.

Second, immigrants in North America cannot live in the languages and cultures from their countries of origin. Canadian law and practice are based on European culture. The official languages are English and French. Every Canadian must speak one or the other, preferably both, to function effectively in Canadian society. Canadian law is based on British common law and French civil law. Furthermore, Quebec officially rejects multiculturalism in favor of “interculturalism”, which guarantees primacy of French culture.

Third, some 68% of Canadians expect immigrants to conform to mainstream Canadian culture. Canada and the United States are successful countries because their many immigrants, early and recent, have largely assimilated to mainstream Canadian and American culture.

Fourth, all cultures are not equally good and valuable, if considered by Western criteria of practical success and human rights. Are not immigrants leaving their home regions in favor of Western countries voting with their feet about which countries are better and which worse?

Fifth, exactly how “diversity” is enriching is rarely specified, and never demonstrated in any systematic or definite fashion. Was the Tower of Babel “enriching”? Nor do the champions of “diversity” ever advocate diversity of opinion — quite the contrary. Western universities no longer allow diversity of opinion, and have hired “diversity and inclusion” officers to suppress all but politically correct views. What the Western elites mean by “diversity” is a population of all colors, sexualities, and ethnicities, all saying exactly the same “progressive” things.

They inculcate their orthodoxy.

The ultimate aim of the globalists (“Glozis” is an apt word for them coined by our British associate, Chauncer Tinker, editor of The Participator) is world government.

As orthodoxy would need to be enforced, they would do their utmost to make it totalitarian world government.

But the problem of how any system of world government could actually be organized and administered is formidably challenging. Has any globalist tackled it? Not that we have heard.

The vast left-wing conspiracy – almost victorious, but … 24

The vast left-wing conspiracy, begun in the last century, has come very close to succeeding.

Conceived by academics and implemented by politicians, it came so near to total victory between 2008 and 2016, that the sudden set-back of a strong, populist, nationalist, patriotic, competent, billionaire businessman rising to the most powerful position in the world as President of the United States in 2017 was very irritating to the conspirators. Very irritating. To say the least. They would happily mow him down, throw him over a cliff, blast him to smithereens if only they could!

In America, the first big stride to implement the plan was Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act. Also known as the Hart-Celler Act. It has brought in millions from the Third World, and continues to do so.

The democratic system allows the rest of the plan to happen. It allowed the election of one of their own to the presidency. It allows heavy concentrations of Third World immigrants voting their candidates into city, state and national government.

That part of the plan, the infiltrating of government by anti-American representatives, is proceeding nicely right now, despite the wrong man being president.

90 Muslim-American candidates ran for state or national office in 2018 and 55 won. Their plan is for many more to enter government until they dominate it.

From Creeping Sharia:

Democratic Rep. André Carson says he envisions that there will be “about 30, 35 Muslims in Congress” and possibly a Muslim president or vice president by 2030.

The Indiana congressman’s remarks came Thursday evening during a Community Congressional Reception hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

He crowed with delight that two Muslim women, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib had been elected to Congress.

“But I won’t rest until 2020 we have five more members of Congress; 2022 and 24, we have 10 more Muslims in Congress. In 2030 we may have about 30, 35 Muslims in Congress.

“Then we’re talking about Madame Chair Rashida. We’re talking about Madame Chair Ilhan. Hell, we could be saying Speaker of the House Ilhan, Speaker of the House Rashida, Senator Rashida, Governor Ilhan, President Fatima, Vice President Aziza. Inshallah.”

Carson ended his speech by saying that all Muslims in America have “a directive to represent Islam …”

To make America Islamic. To make it like – for instance – Somalia.

Ilhan Omar’s loyalty is to Islam, and to Somalia, where she was born. Not to America, which gave her refuge and citizenship when, with her family, she fled civil war in her native land.

David Steinberg writes at PJ Media:

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) became the first Somali-American legislator in United States’ history when Minnesota’s House District 60B elected her on November 8, 2016. The distinction won Omar immediate fame and influence in Somalia, which was entering the final stretch of a critical presidential election of its own. …

Omar’s documented actions in the weeks that followed would almost certainly prevent any applicant with such a background from obtaining or keeping a U.S. security clearance.

Ilhan Omar is now a U.S. congresswoman, however. Elected federal officials are exempted from the arduous security clearance process; they hold de facto clearances once sworn in to office. Further, Omar will likely be privy to a significant amount of classified national security information this term. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has granted Omar’s request for a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The common hyperbole for describing government corruption — “rampant,” or “endemic” — does not help adequately illustrate Somalia’s recent administrations. “As bad as it gets” does the job, literally: Transparency International, the massive NGO dedicated to exposing public-sector corruption, has placed Somalia dead-last among all nations on Earth in its annual “Corruption Perceptions Index” — for 11 consecutive years. Somalia has occasionally managed to tie, though never outrank, North Korea.

Any significant involvement by a U.S. citizen in Somalia’s election process would likely raise eyebrows at America’s intelligence agencies.

On December 20, 2016, just a few weeks after her election to Minnesota’s state legislature, Ilhan Omar was in Mogadishu with then-President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud … He reportedly invited her to appear with him prior to the election taking place. …

Back in Minneapolis from Mogadishu, Ilhan Omar [was one of two] keynote speakers at a February 27 community celebration of “Farmaajo’s” [Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s] election [to the presidency of Somalia]. “One of the most fraudulent political events in Somalia’s history” was grounds for a party.

Standing behind a podium bearing Farmaajo’s image, and wearing a lapel button of the same, Ilhan exuberantly praised him and the newly formed Somali government in a brief speech marked by religious anecdotes and imagery. …

Nancy Pelosi placed Omar on Foreign Affairs, so she will soon be in the middle of vital national security legislation regarding the Middle East.

The vast left-wing conspiracy is easy about Muslims in government. They have a common goal – to change America. So why should the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, hesitate to put a Muslim Somalian woman, more loyal to Islam and Somalia than she will ever be to the United States, on to the US Foreign Affairs Committee?

Change America? Into what, you ask?

Into something more like China? North Korea? Venezuela?

No, no!

Then into something more like … Somalia?

Not that either.

It seems there will come a time when the partnership has succeeded in destroying America as it is, making it ungovernable under the present system, then establishing one-party rule, opening the borders of the state, expropriating private assets, turning the UN into the HQ of world government … yes, AND forcing all women to cover themselves with hijabs or burkhas in public, having sharia enforced by the law courts …

What? No!

There will come a time, we were saying, when the partnership between the vast left-wing conspiracy and Islam will become strained.

The conspirators may feel that they have allowed Islam to become too powerful. They may begin to feel that Islam is a rival rather than a partner.

Won’t it be exciting to see what happens then? To see who will win?

Which of the two (this being the only choice) would you want to be the winner?

Oh, brave new world to have that conflict in it!

Davos goes down 1

Have those arrogant globalist elites trying to rule the world been stopped at last?

Have the nationalists, slowly awaking from their passivity and apathy to vote for Brexit and Donald Trump, to put on yellow vests and shout angrily in the streets of their Western cities, stopped them?

We quote Michael Barone writing at Investor’s Business Daily on 2/1/2019:

Turnout at Davos was lousy this year. President Trump, preoccupied by the government shutdown, was a no-show at last week’s World Economic Forum there. So were British Prime Minister Theresa May (Brexit) and French President Emanuel Macron (“gilets jaunes”). Chinese President Xi Jinping, Davos’ 2018 star, and Russian President Vladimir Putin weren’t there either. Neither were some of the usual financial and media big names.

From all of this, you might get the impression that the world’s political, financial and media elites have lost much of their prestige these days, which, of course, they have.

It’s an enormous contrast with elites’ sunny confidence, over much of the quarter century after the fall of the Soviet Union, that they could remake the world … 

Consider Mexico. The NAFTA trade agreement was proposed by the Reagan administration, negotiated by the Bush administration and ratified by the Clinton administration, with plenty of support from both parties, especially Texans (Lloyd Bentsen, the Bushes) close to the border. They hoped to make Mexico more like the United States, and to regularize Mexican immigration.

There has been some convergence, with life in much of Mexico resembling Texas, but also with large parts of California resembling Mexico. Illegal immigration surged up until the 2007 economic crisis.

Even more ambitious was the bipartisan elites’ project of bringing China into the world trading system. The hope was that an increasingly prosperous Chinese populace would demand more freedom and democracy. That hasn’t happened; instead, Xi Jinping has regressed toward one-man rule.

Meanwhile, serious academic studies have substantiated non-elite charges that Chinese imports have cost America hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. In return, American consumers have been able to buy clothes, toys and gadgets at increasingly low prices. But for many, it is at the cost of the dignity and sense of self-worth achieved by earning a paycheck.

The chief project of European elites, the “ever-closer” European Union, has arguably worked out worse. The Euro currency that was supposed to tie Europe together has instead (as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher predicted) widened the rift between the Mediterranean countries and an increasingly dominant Germany. Britain voted for Brexit — leaving the EU — in 2016, and elites, despite astonishing contempt for voters, have so far failed to reverse that verdict. …

In each case, these elites have underestimated the force and persistence of national cultures

Perhaps the success of American military leaders in transforming post-World War II Germany and Japan turned out to be misleading. Those two countries drew on ethical and parliamentary traditions rooted in those societies and not wholly destroyed by short periods of dominance by Nazi thugs and murderous militarists. Mexico and China have different traditions, and there is no vital tradition of European unity.

Elites are impatient with people they regard as their inferiors. If you question Eurocrats’ undemocratic drive for an “ever-closer Union”, you are told that without the EU, France and Germany would once again go to war — obvious nonsense. If you advise more respect for nationalist traditions, you are told that all nationalists are Nazis — obvious nonsense again.

If you say that competition from low-wage workers in Mexico and China might cause substantial job loss in the United States, you are told what every college grad learns in Economics 101 (but what sounds counterintuitive to non-college grads), that free trade benefits both importers and exporters. You can argue that Mexican immigration and Chinese job competition peaked before 2007, but they still obviously rankle many voters.

So the political, financial and media elites have taken beatings at the ballot box … Their failures to make course corrections and their lack of respect for decent nationalism have been costly. Something to talk about if they slink back to Davos next year.

“Slink back” is good!

But to answer our opening questions: No, there is still many a battle ahead before Merkel, Macron and May – probably never accepting that they were wrong – are driven from power. The rickety EU is not yet about to be pushed over to explode in a cloud of dust. And in the US, because badly educated 18-24 year olds who have no stake in the economy are allowed to vote, there is a real danger of socialist environmentalist race-obsessed feminist globalists coming to power in the next decade.

Allah has a Pope and Marx is his prophet 1

It is plainly a thing that needs explanation, why the Left, doctrinally anti-religion, insistent on women’s liberation, vehemently against homophobia, is in alliance with Islam. How can you be against religion yet for Islam? For women’s equality and at the same time for women’s subjugation? Against homophobia but unconcerned that gays are bound hand and foot and flung to their death from the top of tall buildings?

The Left does not explain why. It does not entertain the question.

And here’s another thing that needs explanation. Why are the heads of the Christian churches looking on impassively while Christians of many denominations are being slaughtered and enslaved by Islam in the Middle East and North Africa, to such an extent that the Christian communities of what was once the vast empire of the eastern Roman church are being wiped out of existence?

The Catholic author William Kilpatrick writes at Lifesite:

Ever since the Second Vatican Council, Church leaders have presented a smiley-faced version of Islam which emphasizes the commonalities with Catholicism and leaves out the alarming elements.

Over the last six years, the chief proponent of this bowdlerized view of Islam has been Pope Francis. He has reassured Christians that Islam is opposed to violence, advised Muslim migrants to find comfort in the Koran, and has portrayed terrorists as betrayers of true Islam.

More significantly, he has become perhaps the world’s foremost spokesman for an open-borders, let-everyone-in policy toward immigration. Seemingly indifferent to the increasingly dangerous situation created by jihad-minded Muslims in Europe, Francis has encouraged a welcoming attitude toward all while scolding opponents of mass migration as fearful and xenophobic.

In short, Pope Francis has acted as an advocate for Islam. He has portrayed it as a religion of peace, the moral equivalent of Catholicism, and a force for good. A number of people, however, now feel that the pope has seriously misled Christians about the nature and goals of Islam and Islamic immigration. …

The combination of high Muslim birth rates, mass Muslim migration, and European concessions to Islam’s blasphemy laws has set Europe on a course toward Islamization. Islamization, in turn, will spell dhimmitude for Christians. As the Islamic influence grows, Christians will be subject to increasing restrictions on the practice of their faith, perhaps even to the point of persecution. It’s possible that Christianity in Europe will be exterminated.

The pope has done much to promote the cause of Islam – so much so that he has been praised by Islamic leaders for his defense of their faith. The questions that then arise are these: Is Francis aware of the possibility that Islam will become dominant in Europe? Is he aware that this may spell the end of European Christianity? And if he is aware, does he care?

For a long time, I thought that Francis was simply naïve regarding Islam. His counterfactual statements about Islam and his Pollyannaish view of mass Muslim migration must, I thought, be the result either of blissful ignorance or of bad advice from “experts,” or a combination of both.

Now, however, I have my doubts. The catalyst for these doubts is Francis’s approach to the current sex-abuse crisis. I originally supposed that he was naïve about this, too: perhaps he didn’t realize the full extent of the problem or the full extent of the cover-ups, or perhaps he wasn’t aware of the numerous lavender networks in seminaries, in dioceses, and in the Vatican itself. But in light of recent revelations, it no longer seems possible to give him the benefit of the doubt. In several cases, he not only knew of the crimes and cover-ups, but took steps to protect and/or promote those involved. Francis seems determined to push through a revolution in doctrine and morals – what he calls “a radical paradigm shift” – and it doesn’t seem to matter that the men he has chosen to help him achieve his goals are the ones most deeply implicated in the scandals. By all accounts, Pope Francis is a “hands-on” pope who knows exactly what he wants, carefully calculates his moves, and leaves little to chance.

Why, then, should we suppose Francis is completely naïve about the extent of the threat from Islam and from Islamic immigration? It’s difficult to imagine that he isn’t fully aware of the widespread persecution of Christians in Muslim lands. And it’s just as difficult to think that he’s ignorant of the Islamic crime wave on his own doorstep – the escalating incidence of rape, riots, and terrorist attacks in Europe. Does he really believe that such things have nothing to do with Islam?

Unless one assumes that Francis is ignorant of history and out of touch with current events, one must entertain the possibility that – to repeat a favorite slogan of his – he wants to “make a mess” in Europe.

But why? Why risk the damage to the Church that would surely follow on the Islamization of Europe? Doesn’t Francis care about the Church? Increasingly, it seems that he does not. …

This is from Francis himself speaking at a conference on Church closings:

“The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy … should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the times that invites us to reflection and requires us to adapt.”

Translation: Francis is not particularly concerned about church closings. Perhaps he even thinks of them as a blessing, i.e., a necessary end to the old order of things that will clear the way for the construction of the new order.

What is this new order? In many respects, it resembles the new world order envisioned by politicians and academics on the left. Like them, Francis has a dim view of national borders and national sovereignty, and, like them, he has an almost unquestioning belief in the benefits of international institutions. One gets the impression that Francis would be quite content to let the U.N. run the world, despite the fact that the U.N. is increasingly run by leftists and Islamists. For example, Francis has praised the U.N.’s Global Compact for Migration because he believes that immigration should be governed globally rather than by individual nations.

How does this relate to Christianity and Islam? Just as Francis seems to favor a one-world government, he also seems to be drawn by the vision of a one-world religion. He hasn’t said so in so many words, but he has given several indications that he envisions an eventual blending of religions. …

One way to achieve this unity in diversity is by deemphasizing doctrine. Doctrinal differences are, after all, the main dividing line between different faiths. Thus, by downplaying the importance of doctrine – something he has done fairly consistently throughout his papacy – it’s probable that Francis hopes to smooth the path to interreligious harmony. Just as Francis disapproves of borders between nations, it’s quite likely that he looks upon borders between religions as artificial and unnecessarily divisive. …

But a religion must have a doctrine. The doctrine is the religion. What is a religion if not its doctrine?

Francis frequently shows signs of indifferentism – i.e., the belief that all religions are of equal value.

If this is the case, then Pope Francis probably has no desire to convert the Muslims streaming into Europe. …

Exactly what, then, does he have in mind by encouraging mass migration into Europe? One possibility … is that he envisions a kind of multicultural blending of religions. But in order for this to happen, it would be necessary for the respective faiths to dilute their doctrinal positions. Pope Francis seems quite willing to do this on the Catholic side. …

But what about fundamentalist Muslims? A harmonious world religion dedicated to humanitarian ends would require not only a watering-down of Christianity, but also a considerable moderation of Islam. …

[He claims] that Islam is already – and always has been – a moderate and peaceful faith. Most notably, he asserted … that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence”. …

For decades now, global leaders have been assuring us that Islam means peace, that violence has nothing to do with Islam, and that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate. …

Francis seems to have little anxiety about the Islamization of Europe. Indeed, as evidenced by his encouragement of mass migration, he seems to have no objection to Islamization.

Either because he truly believes the false narrative that Islam is a religion of peace, or because he believes that the self-fulfilling prophecy strategy will create a more moderate Islam, Francis seems to be at peace with the fact that Islam is spreading rapidly.

Whatever he has in mind, it seems that Pope Francis is betting against the odds. …

Whether Francis has been misinformed about Islam or whether he has adopted a strategy of misinformation, he is taking a huge gamble – not only with his own life, but with the lives of millions. When the religion of Muhammad meets the religion of indifferentism, which seems more likely to prevail?

As the “one world religion” must have a doctrine, what would Pope Francis have it be? The only hint we have is in what we know of his own beliefs. The beliefs he holds not at all indifferently: the Liberation Theology that Communist Catholic priests preached in his native Latin America – but was cooked up and fed to them by the Soviet Union.

The Catholic part of Liberation Theology is less evident – if evident at all – than the Communist part.

Whether to Communism or Islam or both, Christianity is losing, and may be on its way to being lost – dissolved perhaps in a “world religion”.

We are not sorry to see a religion lose its grip on sad human gullibility, but we get no satisfaction from the victory of the temporary alliance of Islam and the Left over Christianity. Of the three religions – Christianity, Islam, Communism – Christianity has been the least dreadful in recent times.

Universal homelessness 3

In the past, attempts at world government have been either imperial or federal: the whole world governed by a single nation – Napoleon’s dream for the French, Hitler’s dream for the Germans; or a union of nation-states with some powers of local self-rule, a league of all nations under the supreme authority of a central government.   

But those visions now are faded. Karl Marx’s idea of a world ruled (somehow) by “the workers” who will “lose their chains” and “unite” across national boundaries, regardless of race, creed, language, history, underlies the new One World ideal. But it is developing in ways Marx did not foresee. It is not “the workers” who will become one but the peoples. They will move in vast waves across the earth, up and down and to and fro upon it. They will mix and mingle. There will be no nation-states because there will be no  nations. Along what courses the human currents flow, from where to where, will be decided, regulated, and organized by the World Government. 

The plan is laid out in the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, signed in Morocco in December, 2018, by most of the UN’s member countries – including countries that no one in the world wants to migrate into such as Venezuela, and some like Cuba from which no one is allowed to migrate out of. (The countries that have not signed on to it are: Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United States of America.)     

Though the “non-binding” compact declares a policy which, if implemented, will make nation-states obsolete, it does not say that it is against them, or against their right and duty to protect their sovereignty by guarding their borders. In fact, it slyly seems to insist on being for them. A sub-section of Clause 15 asserts: “The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law. Within their sovereign jurisdiction, States may distinguish between regular and irregular migration status, including as they determine their legislative and policy measures for the implementation of the Global Compact, taking into account different national realities, policies, priorities and requirements for entry, residence and work, in accordance with international law.”

Why doubt the sincerity of this emphatic “reaffirmation”? Where’s the catch? 

It’s in the repeated phrase “in accordance with international law”. What law would that be?

Why, UN law. 

UN law – according to the UN – overrules the laws of member states.

With what UN laws in particular do states’ decisions on immigration have to conform?

No surprise – “human rights law”.

And what are human rights according to the UN?

When the authors of the Global Compact for Migration come on to human rights, a deluge of familiar UN-speak Left-talk cascades down the page, including: “gender equality and empowerment of women and girls”; “eliminate all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against migrants and their families”; “mainstreams a gender perspective, promotes gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, recognizing their independence, agency and leadership in order to move away from addressing migrant women primarily through a lens of victimhood”; “promotes broad multi-stakeholder partnerships to address migration in all its dimensions by including migrants, diasporas, local communities, civil society, academia, the private sector, parliamentarians, trade unions, National Human Rights Institutions, the media and other relevant stakeholders in migration governance”

As to laws, the document cites its own Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – neither of which are in fact legally binding (and it remains arguable whether any United Nation “laws” are ever binding because the United Nations has no way of enforcing them if the states concerned choose to disregard them).  

We know from statements by its authors that the Framework Convention on Climate Change is intended to give the UN the power to redistribute wealth world-wide. 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a high-minded document which affirms the UN’s determination to “abolish poverty and hunger”, and make everyone in the world well-educated, well-housed, healthy and happy –  without explaining how to fund the party. 

These are not documents of law. They are documents of ambition. 

But all too possibly the Global Compact for Migration will turn out to be a self-license for the UN to decide which countries migrants can or must move from, which countries they can or must move to – and to get them moving. 

A nation-state is a people’s home. If (when?) there are no nation-states we will all be homeless.   

The UN must be destroyed!

Socialism rising for demons and dummies 4

 

Commenting on what is said in this video, John Hinderaker writes ironically, shockingly, and accurately at PowerLine:

[The] entertaining video of Tucker Carlson and Cornel West … offers a good explanation of why socialism always fails, from the perspective of the vast majority. … Tucker asked West: If democratic socialism works, why doesn’t Venezuela have toilet paper?

Of course West’s answers are lame –“real” socialism has never been tried, blah, blah, blah. You could infer from this that West is an idiot and, if he were arguing in good faith, that would be a fair assessment.

But I think the truth is worse. I think the leaders of the socialist movement are perfectly well aware that the inevitable result of socialism is tyranny and mass poverty. But for them, this isn’t a bug, it is a feature. In fact, it is the whole point. Socialism is now, and always has been, a pretext under which power-mad psychopaths seize power and terrorize their fellow humans.

Viewed with cold realism, socialism works very well for those who bring it about. It worked for Lenin and Stalin. It almost worked for Trotsky, but socialism is like Game of Thrones – it is a risky business. It didn’t work for the Old Bolsheviks for the same reason: they lost out to the more vicious and more power-crazed socialist, Stalin. It worked for Yezhov, Yagoda and Beria, although they, too, lost out after years of demented revels. It worked for Khruschev, Brezhnev and Andropov.

Socialism worked for Mao. It worked for Fidel Castro. It worked for Erich Honecker and Nicolae Ceaușescu, until the very end. It worked for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, again with sad ends that didn’t inflict anywhere near enough pain to negate the years of glory and power that went before. It worked for Hugo Chavez, who like Castro, parlayed socialism into a multi-billion dollar fortune, and it has worked so far for Nicolas Maduro. All of these psychopaths, and many others, got exactly what they wanted out of socialism. From their point of view, it is a successful ideology.

While the vast majority suffer under socialism, such suffering is by no means universal. Any number of commissars, Stasi informants, Cuban snitches, petty apparatchiks with dachas, etc., have parlayed their sadistic tendencies into good livings and what they want most, power over others. If you follow Twitter, or generally pay attention to the American Left, you see an army of would-be commissars who yearn for the day when they can accuse a neighbor of wrongthink and have him sent to an American Gulag. In the meantime, they settle for mob action, “doxxing,” and so on.

Socialism isn’t misguided, it is evil. Socialism isn’t a failure, any more than the Black Death was a failure. Sadly, it has worked all too well for more than a century. 

Those cunning human demons who get power, riches, and sadistic satisfaction out of imposing Socialism, need dumb believers to let them impose it.

Kurt Schlichter, a master of sardonic derision, writes at Townhall:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is less hideously unattractive than the usual Democrat potentate or potentatette and has therefore been anointed the new face of her pathetic party. This dumb woman, who looks like Huma Abedin without the pedohubby and the weird relationship with Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit, took advantage of her even dumber New York district in order to get elected to Congress by calling herself a “socialist”.  Yeah, the subject of a thousand Trader Joe’s house brand chardonnay toasts is a proud adherent of the ideology that butchered 100 million people in the last century. …

Ocasio-Cortez is an idiot, like all adolescent socialists, so she qualified to be the Great Pinko Hope for a party in decline. Here’s how bad she is – she apparently went to college, got a degree in economics, and still ended up a socialist. If she went to med school, she would have probably left a chain smoker.

As for life experience, she was a bartender. Now, being a bartender is an important occupation that provides demonstrable social benefits, and everyone should have at least one crappy job on their resume because it builds character, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’ve ever done if you want to be in Congress. …

It was only a fun job for her anyway. Not a necessary one. Contrary to what she pretended – in typical socialist style – she did not grow up in the Bronx (though she was born there). She is the daughter of a successful architect and grew up in one of the richest counties in America.

The left is always trying to make [Socialism] happen. It’s not going to happen, not least of which because us militant Normals have about 400 million or so guns and we aren’t super excited about giving up our stuff or our freedom to a bunch of Marxist weirdos who think we should work harder so their voter base doesn’t have to. But they keep trying to sell us this polished fecal matter of an ideology. In 2009, they put Obama’s smug mug on the cover of Newsweek and announced “We’re all socialists now, but it soon became obvious that we aren’t anything like socialists now. And, in fact, Newsweek is barely anything at all now, though under socialism, instead of teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it would be nationalized and we’d all be working to subsidize it so its hack staff could keep their loser sinecures.

A few years later, they tried again by releasing Bernie Sanders from the Old Commies Home to nearly beat Stumbles McMyTurn. That failed and now it’s this nitwit’s turn to spray perfume inside the outhouse.

Naturally, the Pink Dummy was summoned to make the rounds of MSNBCNN in the wake of her win over some other liberal tool. This avatar of a failed nineteenth century death cult was hailed as the future of the Democrats because as the leftist precincts in New York City go, so goes America. She did the same tap dance about socialism that all these twits do – see, socialism isn’t scary. Why, “socialism” is just another word for things we all do together, except when the socialists are in charge they kill you if you defy them. …

Pampered spawn of history’s most prosperous and freest society, these goofs are really excited about something they can barely articulate, so they sputter and spit out words like “justice” and “equality” and then get on their iPhones to call their disappointed dads because they are short on cash …

It’s amusing that so many of us Normals understand socialism better than the socialists do not only in terms of what Marx said, and what history says, but in terms of firsthand knowledge. A lot of us Normals have seen socialism up close and personal. Guys like me actually went and lived in its ruins. If you spent significant time, as I have, in the former Yugoslavia, or Ukraine, or even helping to guard the West German border from those friendly fraternal socialist dudes to the east, you’ll be stripped of any illusions about that garbage ideology.

Socialism is about taking your stuff and your freedom and killing you if you complain. They try to pass it off as just Liberalism 2.0, but then you usually don’t call something by a name unless you mean it. If they don’t mean “socialism” why do they call themselves “socialists”?

They use the term, counting on the stupidity of people educated in public schools (Yah government!), but they are coy about what they really mean. They always point to Sweden and Denmark and Norway when they talk about “socialism”, as if those were their role models … Yet, how come we always see the most excited champagne socialists trekking off to visit the dictators in Havana and Caracas and not the elected leaders in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo?

Venezuela is the socialist paradise that dare not be spoken of. I guess when people are so equal they all have to break into the zoo to eat the zebras, equality stops sounding so awesome.

But see, Venezuela isn’t true socialism. Nothing is ever true socialism, which is super convenient since any country that has ever dabbled in socialism tends to run short of food, medicine, and toilet paper. But I bet smart people like Gulag Barbie can totally make socialism work this time, and you’ll be prosperous and free and have your own pet unicorn.

They are always sure to stick the “democratic” in front of the “socialism” when they try to sell it to the suckers, but that’s a grift. Do they contend that if we vote in socialism and find that it sucks – as every single country that has tried it has found – we can vote it out again? Yeah, uh huh. Seems legit.

[But] Socialism is a train that, once you board, never stops except if you derail it – which we would have every moral right to do if this hateful creed were imposed upon us.

You see, socialism is the doctrine [by which] people like you and I get to slave away for the benefit of the people those in charge decide are worthy – especially those in charge. …

Socialism means what’s theirs is theirs and so is what’s yours. Our private property – what we have worked for and accumulated over decades – is no longer ours. It’s theirs, to be done with – to be redistributed – as those in power wish. And if you object, they will send people with guns to make you comply.

In contrast, in freedom and capitalism, the people with guns protect you from having what’s yours taken.

They don’t say it, but we Normals are the engine that they intend to power their socialism. We’re supposed to continue working and building and creating just as hard as we did when we kept the rewards. Note how the recipients of socialism – the elite, the bums, the hipster doofuses with their stupid Che T-shirts – never seem to expect that they might be asked to sacrifice too? We’re supposed to give up our property and labor to benefit them, but what do they contribute? New grievances? …

Marxgirl wants to start off with free college, which means you pay for other people’s college too. Notice how there’s no expectation that her fans contribute toward the benefit they are receiving? And then she’s for free health care, which means you pay for other people’s doctors too. Again, the recipients are not expected to work for their own benefit. Want to guess what she wants to do with the means of production? And with private property? And the rights of people who oppose her schemes?

Oh, and she’s also for banning guns. Gee, I wonder why.

Enlightenment, atheism, reason, and the humanist Left 25

This is a kind of review. But it is more of an argument about ideas that vitally affect the real world.

I am in emphatic agreement with roughly half of what Professor Steven Pinker says in his new book Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress*, and in vehement disagreement with the rest of it. Like him, I esteem the Enlightenment most highly; profoundly value science; and certainly want progress in everything that makes us happier and better informed, our lives longer, healthier, less painful, and more enjoyable. Like him, I am an atheist. It is chiefly with his ideas on Humanism that I disagree. Which may seem strange since humanism is atheist. And, certainly, on all his criticisms of religion I am in complete accord. More than that: where small “h” humanism is concerned with humane morals – the imperative to treat our fellow human beings and other sentient beings humanely – the great professor and I could sing in harmony.

“The moral alternative to theism,” he writes, “is humanism.”

But Humanism-the-movement holds principles that I not only do not like, but strongly dislike. They are principles of the Left. And  while he is not uncritical of the Left, Professor Pinker upholds those principles. Humanism, wherever it may be found, is a Leftist ideology. And because the Humanist movement is well-established, widespread, its opinions prominently published, and taught (or preached) where scholars gather, atheism is assumed by many to belong to the Left, inseparably, part and parcel of its essential ideology.

Atheism may be indispensable to the Left, but Leftism is not necessary to atheism.

Atheism as such carries no connotations. No political or ethical ideas logically flow from it. It is simply non-belief in the existence of a divine being. Nothing more. A person’s atheism does not itself make him more humane or less humane.

Steven Pinker implies that it does. Although he states that “atheism is not a moral system … just the absence of supernatural belief”, he also declares that “secularism leads to humanism, turning people away from prayer, doctrine, and ecclesiastical authority and toward practical policies that make them and their fellows better off.”

He reasons along these lines:

“Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.”

Not from holy books. Agreed.

“Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.”

Agreed.

There being no supernatural moral authority, and as human beings have natural needs –

“Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.”

So far, no cause for quarrel. But he elaborates on this last statement to demonstrate that Humanists do this “deriving” well:

“Humanists ground values in human welfare, shaped by human circumstances, interests and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem …”

There it comes, as if it followed logically from scientific knowledge and humane secularism, one of the main obsessions of the Left: concern for the planet, for which, the Left claims, human beings bear responsibility. The words “man-made global warming” silently intrude themselves; as does the “solution” for it – global governance, by those who know what the human race must do; total communism, the highest principle of the Left; its vision of a whole-world Utopia. Though Steven Pinker himself is not a Utopian, he writes a good deal in this book about the virtues of “globalist” politics. He sees globalism as an enlightened, reasonable, science-based, progressive, humanist creed. To “maximize individual happiness”, he remarks, “progressive cultures” work to “develop global community”. He has much praise for international institutions – including, or even led by, the (actually deeply evil) United Nations. He is confident the UN and other international bodies such as the EU, formed after the end of the Second World War, can help keep the world at peace. In fact, there has not been a single year since 1945 when the world has been without a war or wars.

To the globalist view he opposes the populist view. Not wrong when stated thus. But he does not see the populist view as the one held by 63 million Americans who voted Donald Trump into the presidency of the United States because they wanted more jobs, lower taxes, and secure borders; or that of the British majority who voted to withdraw their country from the undemocratic and corrupt European Union. No. He sees populism as a cult of “romantic heroism”, a longing for “greatness embodied in an individual or a nation”.

He is adamantly against the nation-state. He thinks that those who uphold the idea of the nation-state “ludicrously” envision a “global order” that “should consist of ethnically homogeneous and mutually antagonistic nation-states”. Who has ever expressed such an idea? And he puts “multiculturalism” (the failing experiment of enforcing the co-existence of diverse tribes within a nation’s borders) on an equal footing with “multi-ethnicity” (the melting-pot idea that has worked so splendidly for the United States of America).

To him, nationalism is ineluctably authoritarian and fascist. He sees President Trump – who is in fact unswervingly for individual freedom – as a “charismatic leader” of the dictatorial Mussolini mold. The politics of the Right for Professor Pinker are irredeemably dyed in the wool with Nietzschean anti-morality, “superman” aspirations, and genocidal urgings. Libertarianism is tainted with it too. He writes: “ … Ayn Rand’s celebration of selfishness, her deification of the heroic capitalist, and her disdain for the general welfare had Nietzsche written all over them.”

Interestingly – and restoratively to my esteem for him – he also asserts that certain Marxists and certain Leftist movements are equally, or even more, colored with Nietzsche’s inhumanity: “[Nietzsche] was a key influence on … Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, and a godfather to all the intellectual movements of the 20th century that were hostile to science and objectivity, including Existentialism, Critical Theory, Post-structuralism, Deconstructionism, and Postmodernism.”

Steven Pinker’s humanism, then, is not far to the Left, just “left-of-center”. And most of the humanists I have known (and argued with) would also place themselves on that section of the political spectrum. “[T]he moral and intellectual case for humanism is, I believe, overwhelming …,” he writes.

He concludes (and here he specifically rejects Utopianism):

We will never have a perfect world. And it would be dangerous to seek one. But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing. This heroic story … belongs not to any tribe but to all humanity – to any sentient creature with the power of reason and the urge to persist in its being. For it requires only the convictions that life is better than death, health is better than sickness, abundance is better than want, freedom is better than coercion, happiness is better than suffering, and knowledge is better than superstition and ignorance.”

That is the vision of the Decent Thinking Western Man. He believes that all human beings ultimately want the same things; that the good life is defined for all in the same general terms; that all  would agree to the Golden Rule, which has been “rediscovered in hundreds of moral traditions”.

But are those beliefs true? He himself records that there are many who do not value knowledge above ignorance, reason above superstition, freedom above coercion, even life above death. Which is to say, he writes about Islam (in which there is no Golden Rule). He knows Islam has no trace of “Enlightenment humanism”. He declares it an “illiberal” creed, and observes that “[M]any Western intellectuals – who would be appalled if the repression, misogyny, homophobia, and political violence that are common in the Islamic world were found in their own societies even diluted a hundred fold – have become strange apologists when these practices are carried out in the name of Islam.”

He finds one explanation for the double-standard of these intellectuals in their “admirable desire to prevent prejudice against Muslims”. But when it comes to revulsion against ideologists of repression, misogyny, homophobia, and political violence, is it prejudice or is it judgment? He says also that some of the apologetics are “intended to discredit a destructive (and possibly self-fulfilling) narrative that the world is embroiled in a clash of civilizations”. (Or, as I see it, of civilization against barbarism.) I wonder how anyone can look at the drastically changing demographics of Europe, or at least the Western part of it which will surely be under Islamic rule before the century is out, and not notice the clash.

But he does say that “calling out the antihumanistic features of contemporary Islamic belief is in no way Islamophobic”. Being the decent thinking Western man that he is, he is firmly for critical examination of all ideas.

His optimism shines out of the book. He thinks Islam can be reformed, even that a Muslim Enlightenment is possible. He believes there was an earlier age of Islamic Enlightenment, an “Islamic Golden Age” which could serve as a precedent. Well, if one wants to see bright possibilities, Islam may come to prefer science to the assertions of its prophet. It may become humane in its law and stop oppressing women. It may contribute to human progress. But whatever changes may come to Islam in the future, at present it does not value life above death, freedom above coercion, knowledge above superstition. And there is no good reason to believe it ever will.

 

Jillian Becker    April 12, 2018

 

*Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker, Viking, New York 2018. The quotations in the article come from the last chapter, Humanism.

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