The Old World Marches Again

In the last thousand years there has been only one genuinely new idea regarding government: that government should not be left in the hands of a divinely-guided king, or pharaoh, or caliph, but that so far as possible it should be in the hands of unwashed slobs like us. Those nations that have adopted this approach mostly have grown prosperous, dynamic and tolerant. Those that resisted it, or perverted it by creating "a state of the peasants and workers" that in fact was ruled by a tiny despotic clique, mostly have slid into stagnation, or catastrophe. Even Karl Marx noted this phenomena, though from an eccentric perspective, more than 150 years ago in The Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.
But Marx never understood: the Old World has its strengths. And the new, free, prosperous "enlightened" world has its weaknesses. Indeed it does. Since right around 1917, the Old World has been actively fighting to destroy the New World, though we had about a ten-year hiatus (1991-2001) when the War - -World War IV, actually -- was not so apparent. Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, Islamofascism... all are simply vehicles for the ancient passions and values of the Old World to re-channel themselves more effectively, so as to destroy the New. The people who developed these ideologies have studied and exploited the weaknesses of the New World, to the point that all of them have seriously threatened it. This is really a remarkable achievement for ideas that by any reasonable judgment should have been discarded as flat-earth mythologies long ago. But their success derives from their self-conscious and clear enmity against the New World, and, in every case, the New World's mirror-image negative obliviousness and fecklessness. There is also the deadly snobbishness of the New World, where many people cannot imagine a "primitive" people ever seriously threatening them. As George Orwell put it in a superb 1941 essay about H.G. Wells:
The same misconception reappears in an inverted form in Wells' attitude to the Nazis. Hitler is all the war-lords and witch-doctors in history rolled into one. Therefore, argues Wells, he is an absurdity, a ghost from the past, a creature doomed to disappear almost immediately. But unfortunately the equation of science with common sense does not really hold good. The aeroplane, which was looked forward to as a civilizing influence but in practice has hardly been used except for dropping bombs, is the symbol of that fact. Modern Germany is far more scientific than England, and far more barbarous. Much of what Wells has imagined and worked for is physically there in Nazi Germany. The order, the planning, the State encouragement of science, the steel, the concrete, the aeroplanes, are all there, but all in the service of ideas appropriate to the Stone Age. Science is fighting on the side of superstition. But obviously it is impossible for Wells to accept this. It would contradict the world-view on which his own works are based. The war-lords and the witch-doctors must fail, the common-sense World State, as seen by a nineteenth-century Liberal whose heart does not leap at the sound of bugles, must triumph. Treachery and defeatism apart, Hitler cannot be a danger. That he should finally win would be an impossible reversal of history, like a Jacobite restoration.
There are some words of wisdom here. Orwell, who had been an imperial policeman in the boondocks of Burma as well as seeing front-line action during th Spanish Civil War, knew a lot about the hidden strengths of the Old World. Many Old World values are very admirable or respectable: loyalty, obedience, diligence, patience, caution, modesty, humility, self-control, respect for age. Looking at 20th century Western culture, it is stunning to realize that almost every one of those values has been effectively (if not openly) repudiated, to be replaced by their antitheses: self-promotion, rebellion, leisure, instant gratification, recklessness, immodesty, arrogance, licentiousness, and the cult of the juvenile. Actually, it is more precise to say these values shifted in the very late 20th century. And how interesting to note that at the very time the West has abandoned those values, the latest irruption of the Old World, Islamofascism, has become increasingly bold and confident that it will destroy us. Would they be so confident if that shift had not occurred? Islamofascism is the only one of these throwbacks to boldly declare its allegiance to a model from the past. Even though the other three totalitarian ideologies actually lived out Old World values in practice, they claimed to be revolutionary, even futuristic in concept. Since Islam has continued an almost unbroken period of technological and material decline for 500 years, it is difficult to imagine that it can pose an existential threat to the West in the sense that the others did. However, modern technologies like those you are using at this moment, combined with the ancient zeal of the brainwashed shahid, make Islamofascism a threat to massacre many thousands of innocents on any given day, irrespective of whether or not such an attack helps "Islam to rule over the whole earth." "Islam" means "submission" (to the will of Allah/God), and it is therefore a very hard sell amongst the individualistic, rights-crazed citizens of the West. Mentally-unbalanced people and criminals like Adam Gadahn, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla and Richard Reid may gravitate to Islamofascism, but given the societal worth of these people the only logical response is: good riddance. But they will continue to provide useful cover, even intelligence to the would-be new emirs who serenely plan the demise of the West. Just because they haven't a snowball's chance in hell of success, or even any coherent plan for achieving it, doesn't mean the victims of their efforts will be any less dead. The Old World is coming for us, full of grudge, baleful confidence, animus, hate, and the patience of a vendetta as only a Middle Eastern vendetta can hold. It can't win, but it can do dreadful damage to us. Our top priority must be to smash and debilitate and cut the arms off this zombie, and return it to its grave, and be prepared for its next incarnation--for the Old World can never be truly destroyed, any more than the Earth's fossils can be erased from existence. "Jewish Odysseus" is the pseudonym of a blogger, whose website is found here.
In the last thousand years there has been only one genuinely new idea regarding government: that government should not be left in the hands of a divinely-guided king, or pharaoh, or caliph, but that so far as possible it should be in the hands of unwashed slobs like us. Those nations that have adopted this approach mostly have grown prosperous, dynamic and tolerant. Those that resisted it, or perverted it by creating "a state of the peasants and workers" that in fact was ruled by a tiny despotic clique, mostly have slid into stagnation, or catastrophe. Even Karl Marx noted this phenomena, though from an eccentric perspective, more than 150 years ago in The Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.
But Marx never understood: the Old World has its strengths. And the new, free, prosperous "enlightened" world has its weaknesses. Indeed it does. Since right around 1917, the Old World has been actively fighting to destroy the New World, though we had about a ten-year hiatus (1991-2001) when the War - -World War IV, actually -- was not so apparent. Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, Islamofascism... all are simply vehicles for the ancient passions and values of the Old World to re-channel themselves more effectively, so as to destroy the New. The people who developed these ideologies have studied and exploited the weaknesses of the New World, to the point that all of them have seriously threatened it. This is really a remarkable achievement for ideas that by any reasonable judgment should have been discarded as flat-earth mythologies long ago. But their success derives from their self-conscious and clear enmity against the New World, and, in every case, the New World's mirror-image negative obliviousness and fecklessness. There is also the deadly snobbishness of the New World, where many people cannot imagine a "primitive" people ever seriously threatening them. As George Orwell put it in a superb 1941 essay about H.G. Wells:
The same misconception reappears in an inverted form in Wells' attitude to the Nazis. Hitler is all the war-lords and witch-doctors in history rolled into one. Therefore, argues Wells, he is an absurdity, a ghost from the past, a creature doomed to disappear almost immediately. But unfortunately the equation of science with common sense does not really hold good. The aeroplane, which was looked forward to as a civilizing influence but in practice has hardly been used except for dropping bombs, is the symbol of that fact. Modern Germany is far more scientific than England, and far more barbarous. Much of what Wells has imagined and worked for is physically there in Nazi Germany. The order, the planning, the State encouragement of science, the steel, the concrete, the aeroplanes, are all there, but all in the service of ideas appropriate to the Stone Age. Science is fighting on the side of superstition. But obviously it is impossible for Wells to accept this. It would contradict the world-view on which his own works are based. The war-lords and the witch-doctors must fail, the common-sense World State, as seen by a nineteenth-century Liberal whose heart does not leap at the sound of bugles, must triumph. Treachery and defeatism apart, Hitler cannot be a danger. That he should finally win would be an impossible reversal of history, like a Jacobite restoration.
There are some words of wisdom here. Orwell, who had been an imperial policeman in the boondocks of Burma as well as seeing front-line action during th Spanish Civil War, knew a lot about the hidden strengths of the Old World. Many Old World values are very admirable or respectable: loyalty, obedience, diligence, patience, caution, modesty, humility, self-control, respect for age. Looking at 20th century Western culture, it is stunning to realize that almost every one of those values has been effectively (if not openly) repudiated, to be replaced by their antitheses: self-promotion, rebellion, leisure, instant gratification, recklessness, immodesty, arrogance, licentiousness, and the cult of the juvenile. Actually, it is more precise to say these values shifted in the very late 20th century. And how interesting to note that at the very time the West has abandoned those values, the latest irruption of the Old World, Islamofascism, has become increasingly bold and confident that it will destroy us. Would they be so confident if that shift had not occurred? Islamofascism is the only one of these throwbacks to boldly declare its allegiance to a model from the past. Even though the other three totalitarian ideologies actually lived out Old World values in practice, they claimed to be revolutionary, even futuristic in concept. Since Islam has continued an almost unbroken period of technological and material decline for 500 years, it is difficult to imagine that it can pose an existential threat to the West in the sense that the others did. However, modern technologies like those you are using at this moment, combined with the ancient zeal of the brainwashed shahid, make Islamofascism a threat to massacre many thousands of innocents on any given day, irrespective of whether or not such an attack helps "Islam to rule over the whole earth." "Islam" means "submission" (to the will of Allah/God), and it is therefore a very hard sell amongst the individualistic, rights-crazed citizens of the West. Mentally-unbalanced people and criminals like Adam Gadahn, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla and Richard Reid may gravitate to Islamofascism, but given the societal worth of these people the only logical response is: good riddance. But they will continue to provide useful cover, even intelligence to the would-be new emirs who serenely plan the demise of the West. Just because they haven't a snowball's chance in hell of success, or even any coherent plan for achieving it, doesn't mean the victims of their efforts will be any less dead. The Old World is coming for us, full of grudge, baleful confidence, animus, hate, and the patience of a vendetta as only a Middle Eastern vendetta can hold. It can't win, but it can do dreadful damage to us. Our top priority must be to smash and debilitate and cut the arms off this zombie, and return it to its grave, and be prepared for its next incarnation--for the Old World can never be truly destroyed, any more than the Earth's fossils can be erased from existence. "Jewish Odysseus" is the pseudonym of a blogger, whose website is found here.