Is Islamic law the problem, or the presence in our society of concrete human beings who believe in it?
murder attempt on Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard yesterday, Diana West writes
… News reports tells us Kurt is safe.
Safe. Kurt isn’t safe. Nor will he be, nor any of us be, “safe” until Islamic law is stopped in the West, its deeply advanced tentacles eradicated. Because don’t think it isn’t here. Sharia is here and in force.
Diana, how do we “stop Islamic law in the West”? Was it Islamic law
that attempted to chop Kurt Westergaard to death with an axe, or was it a Muslim
? Yes, we could “eradicate the deeply advanced tentacles of Islamic law in the West,” by outlawing Islamic law in the West, but we cannot eradicate Muslims’ belief
in Islamic law. To repeat, it was not Islamic law that entered Westergaard’s house with an axe; it was a Muslim who believes
in Islamic law.
The only way to make the West safe from Muslims who believe in the Islamic law is to remove from the West all Muslims who believe in the Islamic law.
Which, by the way, is what Geert Wilders specifically advocates.
- end of initial entry -
Diana West writes:
I’m with you on this one as you should well recall, since I’ve repeatedly called for a halt to Islamic immigration to the West, going back at least as far as 2006, if not before.
Indeed, today’s post links to a recent column of mine, which repeats a call for a halt to Islamic immigration as part of a multilevel strategy against the spread of Islam, which, as it affects non Muslims, has most specifically to do with the spread of Islamic law. The West is not becoming Muslim literally, it is becoming a dhimmi holding of Islam through its voluntary surrender and adherence to Islamic law—the singular point of today’s short post.
Yes, thanks for reminder of your excellent 2006 column. But stopping further Muslim immigration into the West will not by itself result in the “eradication of the advanced tentacles of Islamic law in the West,” nor will it remove the physical threats to people such as Westergaard and Wilders. The only way to achieve those two things is to remove from the West Muslims who believe in the Islamic law.
Dan S. writes:
Diana West is on the right side of the issues. She recognizes the threat posed to our civilization and has advocated the appropriate responses, including ending Muslim immigration. However, West aside, I think you have touched upon a serious weakness in the approach of many critics of Islam. They understand there is a conflict between the West and Islam, but see the conflict in purely abstract and ideological terms, rather than as an actual conflict between men. It is this abstract thinking that will motivate many to rally against “shariah” or “jihad”, but not take any serious notice to the populations of men and women that propound jihad and shariah (i.e. Muslim immigrant populations and their dhimmi leftist facilitators) in the West. They understand, correctly, that this is a war of ideas and beliefs, but they fail to appreciate that ideas require human agents to have any meaningful effect in the world. They are thus prevented from offering real, concrete solutions to thwart to Islamization of the West.
Yes, exactly right. The western habit is to discuss these issues in terms of abstractions. We believe in liberty, they believe in sharia. We must advance liberty and defeat sharia. To speak this way is to avoid facing the fact that we are facing a community of human beings who are different from us and are committed to things that mean our destruction. It’s not within our ability to remove what’s in their head. It is within our abiity to remove them from our countries.
On the question Muslim immigration, I would add that if we are to make an impression on people and change the way they think on a fundamental and radical issue (and nothing could be more fundamental and rradical than talking about stopping and reversing the immigration of the followers of an entire religion), then that point must be made repeatedly, not once in a while. The Muslim problem, in its various aspects, must be constantly brought into relation with that solution, to encourage a different way of thinking about the problem.
Jeff W. writes:
It is very questionable whether a managerial state, operated by a new class of administrators, will defend the West against Islam. Defending the West is not on the managerial state’s agenda.
The managerial state cares about protecting its own bureaucracy, especially the safety and salaries of its top-level administrators. It cares about its tax base. It cares about its borrowing power and its ability to print money. It wants to grow larger. But it doesn’t really care about the lives and property of Americans, or their free way of life. The managerial state is not in any sense a patriotic institution.
Americans look at Islam and see a threat to their way of life. The managerial state looks at Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan and asks, “How can we get a piece of the oil wealth?” If the answer is, “Accept some Sharia law,” then they will eagerly change the laws to accommodate. Because of the oil wealth, the managerial state is more likely to ally itself with Saudi kings than with everyday Americans.
The managerial state will destroy the civilizations of Europe and North America without remorse or hesitation, and it will count it as success as long as its own power increases. The time may come when, in order to defend themselves, Americans will have to fight both the managerial state and its Islamist allies.
Lydia McGrew writes:
Apropos of your discussion of getting people to see the problem of Islam in the West as having to do with real, concrete people, individual Muslims who accept sharia and try to live by it, I wonder if you saw this post of mine back in the summer and the accompanying video: “Christian evangelization of Muslims forbidden in Dearborn—Part II.”
I found from personal e-mail exchanges that this post and, especially, the video were somewhat effective at showing people the problem. We are talking about real people here who believe that they have a right to govern whole sections of Western cities (at a minimum) according to their own made-up rules and that they have a right to threaten and harm those who violate those rules. In this case the made-up rule banned all Christian questioning and filming of Muslims on public streets at an Arab festival in Dearborn, Michigan.
I haven’t seen it. I will look at it.
A. Zarkov writes:
While the problem of and the solution to Islam is clear, unfortunately only a small minority of U.S. population understands this. If we polled the citizenry, I’m afraid only a small fraction would advocate cutting off immigration from Muslim countries entirely. They majority would regard such a move as discriminatory and many would (falsely) believe such a cutoff was unconstitutional. A mass deportation of Muslims residing in America would have even less support and would be unconstitutional. Congress is even less inclined to do anything that involves serious border control. It’s difficult to even deport illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes. Listen to mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg: “People who are undocumented do not have to worry about city government going to the federal government” He said this barely two months after the attack on the World Trade Center. Bloomberg was just been re-elected mayor and somehow he managed to do an end run around his term limit. Obviously New Yorkers don’t care that much about illegal immigration, or the danger from Islam. Congress is not much better. It would not surprise me to see Islamic immigration increase in the future. To see just how bad governments can get on immigration look at Europe, specifically Belgium.
From Brussels Journal: Governments vs The People: Replacing The Population By Another One.
Last July, the government of Belgium announced a collective amnesty for illegal aliens. It is Belgium’s second general amnesty in barely a decade. When the previous one was approved by the Belgian Parliament in 1999, the government promised Parliament that it would be the final one and that henceforward people who entered the country illegally would be sent back. Nevertheless, there has been no crack-down on illegal immigration in the past ten years and hardly any illegal aliens have been sent back.
Of course Belgium not the U.S., but they can’t even deport people who are there illegally let alone do mass population movement. I’m afraid it might take something like a civil war to implement the Geert Wilder program in the U.S., and I don’t see that happening.
The parties of Van Rompuy’s government coalition shrugged their shoulders. They refused to react against the usurpation of parliamentary powers because they did not want to open a public debate about immigration. Polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of the Belgians opposes the new round of regularizations. The Vlaams Belang, Belgium’s main opposition party, however, went to court. It requested the Council of State, Belgium’s highest administrative court, to annul the amnesty—which it did on December 11.
The government’s reaction to the annulment is astonishing. It announced that the court ruling would make no difference and that the illegal aliens need not worry. Mr. Melchior Wathelet, the Secretary of State for Immigration, said that, instead of collectively regularizing the 50,000 illegal aliens with one single signature, he will sign 50,000 individual regulations, granting each of them an individual amnesty.
We have no choice but to start from where we are. How can people be persuaded of such a radical position as the need to initiate an out-migration of Muslims from the West unless they hear other people arguing consistently and clearly for that position? The argument, while radical, is not a terribly complex or difficult argument to make. It just has to be made. Lots of people are deeply concerned about the threat of Muslim terrorism and the spread of sharia law. They also hate the insane security measures which punish and demean us instead of protecting us from terrorists. But our present belief system offers people absolutely no answers to this terrible problem. I think that many people would be open to an argument that makes sense of the Islam problem and shows an answer to it. The argument could include these points:
- Islam waged aggressive jihad war against the West for a thousand years, until its power was broken in the late seventeenth century and it lost the ability to threaten the West or extend its power outside its own lands.
- The three hundred year period of relative Islam quiescence and powerlessness from the late seventeenth to the late twentieth centuries made the West forget the thousand years of constant jihad that had preceded it.
- In the mid to late 20th century the West began doing something it never would have dreamed of doing before and would have regarded as totally insane: inviting mass Muslim immigration into the West.
- By doing this, the West unconsciously imitated what the city of Medina did when it invited Muhammad and his followers to move there in the year 622. The beginning of the Muslim calendar was when Muhammad immigrated into Medina and shortly thereafter Islamized it and made himself its dictator and began the Islamic empire.
- Muhammad’s actions are the paradigm for Muslims. We, by imitating Medina and allowing Muslims en masse into the West, have invited the Muslims to imitate Muhammad and take us over. We have empowered Muslims to wage jihad against us in our own lands. This was a suicidal mistake and we must reverse it, by returning the Muslims back to their own lands. Our very survival depends on this. Either we return the Muslims to the Islamic world now, by peaceful means, or there will inevitably be civil war within the West in which millions on both sides will die and the West, even if it ultimately wins the struggle, will be devastated.
- Even if you don’t believe that our very survival depends on the return of Muslims to their own lands, it is a certainty that we will remain under the constant threat of domestic terrorist attacks so long as large numbers of believing Muslims continue to reside in and travel freely in the West. Either we carry out a peaceful return of Muslims to their own lands, or we will remain under the threat and the reality of domestic Islamic terrorism, forever.
- Kurt Westergaard, a liberal Danish cartoonist, lives under constant threat of jihad murder for innocently drawing a harmless, satirical cartoon. This week a Somali Muslim immigrant in Denmark broke into Westergaard’s house with an axe aiming to dismember and kill him, simply because he had drawn a cartoon. Millions of Muslims support what the would-be killer sought to do. Meanwhile, thousands of infidel writers and bloggers in Europe and America have said things about Islam vastly more critical than Westergaard’s cartoon. All writers who have criticized Islam potentially face the same threat that Westergaard faces, and that Geert Wilders faces. The reality is that we have allowed into our civilization a vast Islamic population containing a significant subset of violent jihadists who will seek to murder us if we say anything that offends Islam, and containing many others who will support the jihadists. Does such a population belong among us? Of course not. Therefore we must reverse the process that brought the Muslims here.
- This does not mean that we hate Muslims as individuals. It means that, given what their god commands them to do to us, we cannot be safe and free so long as they continue to live and move among us.
- What is extremist is not the proposed policy of sending Muslims back to their native lands; that is simple common sense and a requirement for our self-preservation. What is extremist is our current policy of imagining that Muslims are like us and letting them settle and remain and continually increase in numbers and power in our lands.
To anyone who says that the policy will never be adopted, it’s a fantasy, we’re wasting our time, I reply: we may not be able to pass this policy for the foreseeable future, but one thing we can do right now is this: we can make this argument be heard, bring it into the conservative mainstream, so that it becomes a part of the debate and is no longer some weird idea being said by five people on a couple of blogs. We may not be able to change national policy right now, but we can change the way people think and talk about the Islam problem. And because this is the only solution to the Islam problem, and because all the other positions involve transparent illogic and evasions of reality that won’t stand a moment’s examination, more and more people will become drawn to this position, until it no longer seems crazy, but mainstream.
Kevin V. writes:
Mr. Zarkov writes:
January 3, 6 p.m.
While the problem of and the solution to Islam is clear, unfortunately only a small minority of U.S. population understands this. If we polled the citizenry, I’m afraid only a small fraction would advocate cutting off immigration from Muslim countries entirely. They majority would regard such a move as discriminatory and many would (falsely) believe such a cutoff was unconstitutional. A mass deportation of Muslims residing in America would have even less support and would be unconstitutional. Congress is even less inclined to do anything that involves serious border control. It’s difficult to even deport illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes….
He is exactly right. In this political context, there will be no reversal. There will be no enforcement of the U.S. border with Mexico, as there has not been for the past 30 years. There will be no slow-down of massive legal immigration. There will be no slow-down of non-white and Muslim refugees—made all the more numerous by U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—in previously European-American regions of the nation. The current ideology cannot accept any such scale back, let alone a stoppage, any more than the mummified leaders atop Lenin’s Tomb could admit that collectivization of agricuture was a failure economically.
In both cases, to admit the reality of the situation would be to admit the bankruptcy of the ruling ideology, calling the entire logic of the ruling structure into place.
This simply will not happen.
There are only three possible outcomes: (1) Most likely, the power elite “elect a new people” and the U.S. becomes a Latin American country with a sizeable European-American minority; (2) the system collapses as the Soviet Union did; or (3) Euro-Americans give up on the U.S. and fight for a new homeland, with a new nationalism and nationalist ideal.
The choice is before us, and before us now. Fight now, or be erased. And by “fight” I mean just that: fight.
It’s come to that.
Daniel B. writes:
While I agree that Islam is a serious and present threat to the West, I do not believe it is the primary danger. Islam and immigration are a red herring, they are not the primary threat, but simply another tool of the secularists to weaken the West. In El Ingles’s analysis of Europe’s current position he foresees nationalist groups, most likely unaffiliated with the governing power, rising up to defend their country against the Islamic incursion. In doing so they benefit no one but the secularist regime. As soon as the Muslims and the nationalists engage in violence it then falls to the reigning secular regime to introduce peacekeepers into the region. The nationalists and the Islamicists will have both aptly demonstrated the inherent dangers of religious belief and the State will act accordingly to restrain such extremism in any manifestation, whether it be Catholic, Protestant Islamic or what have you. America’s current war against terrorism cannot be fought under a liberal regime. Our government quite literally doesn’t have the balls to wage war. The current liberal ideology which governs our country does not allow for the effective use of our military to defend our country and defeat our foes.
Kevin S. writes, “The current ideology cannot accept any such scale back, let alone a stoppage, any more than the mummified leaders atop Lenin’s Tomb could admit that collectivization of agriculture was a failure economically.”
Inasmuch as this is the case, it seems that the most effective action any conservative Westerner can take is to defeat the secularist liberal ideology which is running our civilization into the ground. Anywhere this can be achieved, the other issues that confront us can be effectively and efficiently resolved. Anywhere where this liberal insanity remains, in trying to solve individual problems like immigration your simply chopping heads off a hydra.
Daniel’s comment is similar to the unending articles by mainstream conservative Islam critics who say, e.g., that the problem is not Islam but “political correctness” that is being imposed on us by leftist elites. These same critics never answer the question: once political correctness is defeated, what do we do then about Islam?
Daniel B. thinks that immigration and Islam are being imposed on us by leftists against our will. To the contrary, most people in America today, including conservatives and conservatives Christians, sincerely believe that it would be immoral to stop the immigration of Third-Worlders and Muslims. Daniel has not understood a key fact about modern society that I stress continuously, that virtually all modern Western people, including self-described conservatives, accept basic liberal principles, most importantly, the principle that discrimination is wrong.
Also, by saying that Islam is not the real threat, but just a tool used by leftists to damage our society, he blocks out the fact that Islam has a history, agenda, and set of doctrines that precede modern leftism by 1,400 years. Like so many others, he doesn’t want to deal with Islam in its own terms. He wants to see it purely as the reflection of some familiar, Western problem, such as leftism.
If people want to develop a body of opinion against Islamization then the way to do that is to do it, not escape the issue by focusing on some other issue such as leftism or political correctness. The way to challenge the liberal orthodoxy on Islam, is to challenge the liberal orthodoxy on Islam. How better to do that than to propose a policy that completely contradicts the liberal orthodoxy?
Mencius Moldbug writes:
Kevin V.’s options are exactly right (and stated in the right order of probability).
To enhance his point slightly, my position: Islam is not the problem. To be more precise, neither Islamic terrorism, nor Islamic law, nor even Islamic immigration, are problems. They are symptoms of the problem, which is that United states government is insane. It does not faithfully serve the interests of its citizens, in whose name it is nominally established. Rather, it inflicts this crap on us, regularly and all the time, in every possible way it can imagine.
As far as I’m concerned, the only formula for fixing USG is a universal repair protocol I once heard from a fellow BMW rider. “The good thing about scooters,” he said, “is that any motorscooter can be fixed with one tool: a long chain. Tie one end of the chain to your scooter, turn around, walk forward until the chain is tight, drop the chain, and go get a real bike.” Likewise, civilized and sensible Americans of every race and religion need to find a long chain, tie one end to the Beltway, turn around, walk forward, and go get a real government. Ie, a sane one. And wherever they put it, it shouldn’t be anywhere near the Potomac.
For instance, if USG were sane, any number of Islamic gastarbeiters would be welcome in the country. Why? Because they would not even think of bothering the citizens. Their behavior would be exactly as humble as that of Americans in Saudi Arabia, and for exactly the same reasons. In fact, they would probably live in corporate barracks out in the boonies, like Baluchi slave laborers in Dubai. The main danger of their presence would be that they would do all our hard or dirty jobs, and we would get lazy—like Emiratis in Dubai. A real concern, but nothing on the scale of the symptoms we see now. (Besides, we already have this problem with the Mexicans.)
But USG is not sane. So what is your therapy? Give it another lecture about how to straighten up and fly right? Or start looking for the long chain? I think reasonable people can disagree, but Kevin and I are pretty clear on it. (I would note that he’s a Beltway veteran and I’m a Beltway brat, so it’s not that we know not of what we freakin’ speak.)
Basically, most conservatives answer this question as if USG were a member of their family. If a member of your family is insane (as a matter of fact, my uncle was a schizophrenic), you will give them a lot of lectures about how to straighten up and fly right. As a matter of actual fact, however, USG is not a member of anyone’s family. As a matter of actual fact, no one outside the Beltway knows anything at all about the world inside it. It might as well be a sealed dome. I exaggerate—slightly.
So it is difficult to understand how this familial affection came about—or how it sustains itself. At least as originally conceived, and in fact as most conservatives otherwise imagine it, USG is their employee. What sane manager keeps an insane employee? Frankly, that’s taking the ADA a little far.
As a student of history, I believe it is critical that American conservatives come to their senses as quickly as possible on this matter. Their real strength grows weaker every year it lies on the couch, fantasizing about repairing that old Beltway that used to work so well. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t—but there’s only one tool that can help it now.
I don’t think it’s correct or useful to describe the U.S. government, and the liberal order in general, as simply “insane.” That term suggests psychosis, mental illness. Liberals, including liberal governments, believe that certain things about the world are true. Many of those beliefs are false, delusive, and suicidally dangerous for our society, but that’s not the same thing as saying that they are insane. Indeed, most people in the Western world believe in those “insane” ideas to varying degrees—such as the idea that it’s morally wrong to exclude people of radically different religion, race, and culture from your society. Maybe we should just call all modern Western people insane? But liberal beliefs aren’t simply the product of madness, there are reasons—reasons going back decades and centuries—that people believe in them.
I and most of the people everyone reading these words started out more or less as liberals. How did we change? By reflecting and thinking. How could we have done that if we were insane? And how can we get at least some liberals to change their beliefs? By getting them to reflect and think—by engaging in the act of persuasion. But to believe in persuasion you have to believe that there is such a thing as truth. Mencius, as far as I can tell from various statements of his, doesn’t think that there is such a thing as truth, or, if there is, that we can’t know it, which comes to the same thing. He thinks, along with Richard Dawkins, that our brains are controlled by “meme-plexes” which are the product of natural selection, and, worse, that the brains of religious people are controlled by “parasitic meme-plexes.” In other words, he believes that all conservative Christians, not just liberal supporters of the U.S. government, are effectively insane. It looks as though everyone is insane but Mencius. Evidently his brain alone is not controlled by a meme-plex.
Interestingly, in the midst of repeatedly calling the U.S. government insane, Mencius makes one positive proposal. He says that the one sane thing the government could do would be to admit millions Muslims as guest workers. Yes, that’s a really useful contribution to the discussion about the Islam threat. He doesn’t seem to recall that the Turks entered Germany as guest workers, and that they now number in the millions and are a power in that country
I say to Mencius (and I don’t say this with hostility, but with affection): grow up. Do something useful with your brains. Help the remnant within our wounded civilization. Stop indulging your cleverness by tossing off these comments about how the government and society are “insane,” and comparing the United States of America to a broken motor scooter that you’re walking away from. Any college freshman can do that.
Rick U. writes:
Thank you for your reply to Mencius. I absolutely agree that we must stay on the subject and impress the importance of the Muslim infiltration into the West as an immediate mortal danger: First to individual members of the society and second to the entire society. It seems that Mr. Moldbug has a grasp of the problem as a whole, but he doesn’t seem to be a serious person. This is a serious problem and so it requires somber thought and action to confront it. We aren’t going to pull down the entire wall of liberal beliefs at once, or by assigning monikers like insane, malfeasant, and so on, but brick by brick with thoughtful tactics and dialogue with those who can be persuaded. A logical step in that process is to change the paradigm of the discussion by pointing out the historical, practical, and philosophical fallacies contained within the premise that Islamic and Western ideologies are compatible; that Islam is a religion of peace, or that the “moderate Muslims” will do the job for us. It very well may not succeed or may prove impossible, but to chuck the towel in seems the height of unserious rhetoric. So, no offense intended toward Mr. Moldbug; can we please get serious and try to counter the liberal mindset on this issue before it really is a call to arms.
Since reading it a few years back I have been in agreement with your take on the problem of Islam’s inability to exist under our Constitutional precepts. I am also sympathetic to some extent with Kevin V.’s assessment of options. What we have now by way of government policies and the mentality of the general population regarding this problem is what we must contend with, but they will not remain constant.
Therefore, even as we retain the right to keep the fight option open, as may be necessary, I find relevant wisdom in George Washington’s words to Robert Morris in 1776:
“It is in vain to ruminate upon, or even reflect upon the Authors or Causes of our present Misfortunes. We should rather exert ourselves to look forward with Hopes, that some lucky chance may yet turn up in our Favour.”
Quintessential G. Washington! Thanks for the quote.
Let’s remember that since that letter was written in 1776, it was in the darkest period of the War of Independence, when Washington’s army had experienced one disaster after another. According to this account, the letter was apparently written shortly before Washington, facing the imminent dissolution of his army, crossed the Delware on Christmas 1776 to attack the Hessians at Trenton and reversed the entire course of the war.
A. Zarkov writes:
Mr. Auster provides a well articulated summarization of the Islamic threat to the West. Unfortunately logic is not enough. Until the bulk of American people realize on an emotional level that Islam constitutes an existential threat, nothing is going to change. The military has a rule of thumb regarding ordinary troops: when they perceive better than even odds of perishing they will mutiny. The Stanley Kubrick film, Paths of Glory (in my opinion his best work) brings this idea to life. In the story (supposedly based on Souain corporals affair), General Mireau orders artillery fire on his own troops to force them into battle. In WWII Stalin had a political officer at the platoon level ready willing and able to shoot any soldier on the spot who refused to charge. Stalin knew that the only way to force men into almost certain death was to make the alternative absolutely certain death. In other words, the American people are not yet sufficiently scared of Islam to take really drastic action, and their leadership downplays the threat. Not only that, elite opinion constantly tries to reinforce the idea that Islam is not an existential threat. For example Nate Silver (a leftist) over at his website FiveThirtyEight wrote a post called The Odds of Airborne Terror. He writes,
“Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.”
I posted a technical objection to Silver at FiveThirtyEight, but so far no one has responded. While his arithmetic is almost certainly correct, it tells us very little about the future. It has no predictive value. For one thing, he has no idea of how many times the soldiers of Islam have tried to defeat airline security. For all we know, they have been 100 percent successful in their attempts to board airplanes with explosive devices. Silver and others are trying to convince people that the threat from Islam is not existential, not serious and receives too much attention. They believe the far right is simply trying to exploit the issue for their own political ends. All that being said, I’m at loss to explain why New Yorkers are not more afraid. After all they have experienced Islamic terror first hand, yet they re-elected Michael Bloomberg twice. The very same Bloomberg who continues the sanctuary city policy that life more dangerous for the city. Perhaps New Yorkers (I’m an ex-New Yorker) are just terminally stupid.
Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:
The Western habit is to discuss these issues in terms of abstractions. We believe in liberty, they believe in sharia. We must advance liberty and defeat sharia.
As I try to understand what guides writers involved in some way with the counter-jihad movement, it seems to be their focus on “freedoms.” Freedom of speech, of expression, of the press (which is a less abstract than the rest). Some actually say that the fundamental definition of the West is “freedom,” or as you put it liberty.
Of course, liberty is an important part of the West, but it is tied with concrete things like religion and values, art and beauty, architecture and communities, in effect the traditions of the West. Perhaps one of the reasons why so many writers focus on liberty is because they feel the pressures of Islam first, in their inability to write freely what they observe and analyze about Islam.
The other reason could be this seeping liberalism, or libertarianism, where simply saying that another culture (an actual group of people) is incompatible with ours in the West is breaking the great taboo of non-discrimination. Most people are assimilationists at heart.
In your reply to Daniel B. you wrote:
“The way to challenge the liberal orthodoxy on Islam, is to challenge the liberal orthodoxy on Islam. How better to do that than to propose a policy that completely contradicts the liberal orthodoxy?”
On one hand I agree with Daniel B. that the underlying, fundamental problem for the West is our present upholding of a liberal mindset that is exceedingly suicidal and lets in—in fact rejoices in—the Islamic incursion, among other detriments. At the same time we cannot defeat or turn back the tide of innumerable leftist transgressions all at once, something that is implied in his general opposition to the “secularist liberal ideology.”
I think progress can be made, one interaction at a time, along both fronts by challenging the liberal orthodoxy re Islam while at the same time laying emphasis on the fact that such a position is non-liberal. I find that assigning the label “non-liberal” gets people’s attention and their curiosity can cause them to ask after its broader meaning. “What do you mean by ‘non-liberal’?” It is a term not heard often in general conversation.
These days it seems that “non-liberal” carries more elan than “conservative.”
Steve R. writes:
I want to wish you a very Happy New Year and thank you again for once again enriching me and so many others in 2009.
To the topic:
I am curious how you would behave in the following situation:
There is a boat leaving for a new republic named Concrete-America. Mr. Zarkov, Kevin V. and Mr. Moldbug are among 116,000 (the number of visitors to your blog last month) others that are on the boat. A million have already moved there. The emigres have all decided that there is virtually NO possibility that further communication of your message will make a material difference in turning this country around.
My question: Will they have the pleasure of welcoming you aboard?
I would hope not. They will need as many Concrete-Americans as they can get, and your continued presence here, expressing the view from the right, would probably be the best way to get as many as possible to emigrate.
In case you’re wondering, I can’t leave yet; my wife was a leftist when I married her and she still leans that way.
That’s funny. If such a Concrete-America already had a million people, that would be pretty great. That sounds like a going proposition, with a lot of growth potential—and not just as a secessionist entity, but as a base from which to extert influence on and maybe, in the long run, take back the Abstract-America.
However, I can’t answer the question, except to say that there are times I think that way myself.
Just wanted to add that I concur with Steve R.’s opening sentence … and his last.
Mencius Moldbug writes:
There’s no need to beat around the bush with Dawkinsian gobbledegook. You dug that quote up from a post in which I was trying to explain the problem with Dawkinsianism to Dawkinsians. Your brain may harbor other pathogens, but it’s sure free of that one!
So we can talk in normal English. Of course both of us are doing the same thing: trying to persuade people. The fact that we think they need persuading implies that we think we understand something that they don’t. Otherwise, there would be no point in speaking.
The question is: what are we trying to persuade them of? And why? Here is where we differ. Both of us, presumably, are not trying to persuade people just for our own gratification, or even for their own gratification. We are trying to persuade them to act in some effective way. We see a problem; we believe the problem can be solved only by a large number of people acting together.
Therefore, we post on the Internet where large numbers of people are reading. Will they read our posts and act? Well, heck, they might. Ain’t nothin’ stoppin’ em. And ten times as many people read your blog as mine, at least, so your opportunity is the greater.
Furthermore, we both believe that the U.S. government’s present immigration policy, as it relates to Muslims and others, cannot be understood in terms of rational thinking, at least not if the motivation is USG’s supposed purpose, ie, protecting the interests of its citizens. Therefore, in these terms, its actions are insane.
And here we differ. What, exactly, are you trying to persuade people to do? You say: policy X does not serve the interests of Americans. USG should therefore follow policy Y, which would better serve those interests.
Well, sure! I agree completely! But again: what are you trying to persuade people to do? If you get 10 million or 50 million people all agreeing with the Larry Auster policy on Islamic immigration, what do they all do?
The only answer I can think of is: they try to persuade USG to adopt the Larry Auster policy on Islamic immigration. Using the tools of democratic citizenship, yadda yadda. They call their congressman, vote for the right kinds of Republicans, and not the wrong kinds, etc, etc.
Well, this is where I (and I think Kevin V.) step off the bandwagon. Because we say: you’re trying to persuade a tiger to eat grass. USG is just not going to do this. It is not going to come to its senses in this matter. Your 10 or 50 million people have not much more impact on the State Department (to name just one agency) than they have on, say, the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture. The system is not designed to listen to them. It is designed not to listen to them. It is, in fact, designed to resist them. [LA replies: absurd. Ten million—let alone fifty!—taking this position actively would completely transform American politics.]
So you’ve motivated all these people to this enormous effort, at an enormous effort of your own. And to what end? None, if Kevin V. and I are right. All your persuading has just wasted everyone’s time. Moreover, why do you think it’s so difficult to motivate them? Because they know they can achieve nothing. Their apathy is entirely rational.
Whereas Kevin and I know exactly what we’d do with 10 or 50 million people. We’d persuade them to dissolve USG and replace it with something else, just the way similar numbers of people (not even majorities) dissolved the USSR.
Now here’s the rub. Conventionally, most people believe, it should be much easier to persuade large numbers of people to persuade or compel USG to change its policies, than to persuade them to dissolve USG. So, you think, your approach is more realistic than ours.
In my opinion, and in Kevin’s, this is an illusion. It will be very hard to dissolve USG—or even just one of its organs, such as the State Department. But it is much easier to dissolve it than to change it, at least to make the sort of change you describe. You analyze the difficulty of dissolving it correctly; you analyze the difficulty of changing it incorrectly.
Therefore, you fail to make the rational judgment that when the impossible is ruled out, our only option is the improbable. This is because you think that the impossible (changing the Beltway in this one particular way) is easier than the improbable (liquidating the Beltway). In other words, you think the impossible is possible. And this, I have to say, is simply because you don’t know the Beltway as well as Kevin and I.
You may disagree with this assessment, of course. However, if you want to know why I think my position is more realistic than yours, this is my answer.
As for Germany and the gastarbeiter, I stand by my comment. Of course Germany handled its guest workers poorly. That’s because it is, and was, poorly-governed. Come on—if, say, Henry VII were the ruler of America, you don’t think he’d be able to deal effectively with a few million Muslims?
(In fact, there’s a close historical analogue to your Muslim policy—Louis XIV’s Edict of Fontainebleau. Quite effective on its own terms. When you talk about getting USG to expel its Muslims, you’re more or less talking about getting the Beltway to do the same thing that the Sun King once did. Proof that the action is possible—and a good example of how different a government must be to take it.)
Your comment—all 923 words of it—takes defeatism to new, previously unimagined levels. In reality, if we had 50 million people on the right-wing nationalist side, we’d be running the country. We could shut down government departments that were unreformable and replace them with our own people. But in your mind, an accession of 50 million persons to the right-wing nationalist side would still leave right-wing nationalists helpless to change America’s immigration and other policies! You portray what would be an inconceivable, miraculous victory as still being a defeat. Which proves that you are metaphysically against saving America. Even if our side had an incredible increase of power and could change America, you would say, No, it’s hopeless, we can’t change America.
It becomes evident that your commitment, your program, is to shoot down any possibility of saving America and the West in their historical form. And by historical form, I obviously don’t mean their current ideology and bloated government structures, which must go. I mean their existence as historically recognizable nation states. You think the whole thing is hopeless and has to go. So any positive signs of life and resistance on the part of Western peoples, after decades in which they’ve been supine before the dominant anti-white, anti-Western forces of the left, you will put that down and say it’s not worth it.
Also, I have to say that you do remind me of a classmate of mine when I was a freshman in college. He said we had to destroy the existing society. When I asked him what he would replace it with, he said he didn’t know. That didn’t bother him, though.
And by the way, Steve R. presented a scenario with one million people in a breakaway Concrete-America, and I was considering joining up. Yet you construct a scenario with 50 million people ready to CHANGE America, and you still think that changing America is hopeless.
The point: I’m ready to give something to the secessionist side. You’re not willing to give anything to the change-America side.
Mencius Moldbug replies to LA:
Fifty years ago, America had 50 million right-wing nationalists. They were called Republicans. The mainstream Republican—and to a substantial extent Democratic—positions of the time, if translated into the political sphere of 2010, are somewhere in the vicinity of Larry Auster. [LA replies: Here you go again with your wrong-headed view that my position is the same as the 1950s mainstream. On the basis of that false premise, the entire rest of your argument is constructed.]
Fifty years ago, America had an organization called the John Birch Society. You’ve probably heard of it. Unlike any right-wing nationalist movement today, the JBS had many influential leaders in business and society on its side. 25 years earlier, there was the Liberty League—next to which the JBS was a pygmy. And so on.
These people utterly failed. Their methods for changing Washington did not work. They elected McCarthy, Nixon, and Reagan, and in Britain Enoch Powell—all of whom had no lasting effect on the actual government. None of them had any power to either purge, redirect, or shut down any government agency—even the most trifling.
What do you propose to do differently? No—I’m not prepared to give anything to the change-Washington side. Or, more precisely, I’m not prepared to give anything to the restore-Washington side. All the above people came to office on a platform which declared that USG had been good and sweet and true until 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, at which point it entered on the path of darkness. All that was necessary was to step back off that path and restore USG to its true self, which is good and sweet and true.
It’s a truism—but those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Change? Yes, we can change. But we have to change to something real, not a myth that was never true in the first place.
Not only am I not at all without futuristic alternatives, but there are plenty of historical examples of strong, effective government in the Anglo-American tradition, which is our own. I mentioned Henry VII, for instance. There is also Elizabeth I. And Cromwell. And so on. All these figures are part of American history, because American history is a branch of the English tradition. If you could wake them up, you could talk to them in English—and each one of them would concur with our assessment of USG and the Muslim problem. [LA replies: as a matter of historical fact, Henry VII, Elizabeth I, and Cromwell were despots.]
James P. writes:
“Liberals, including liberal governments, believe that certain things about the world are true. Many of those beliefs are false, delusive, and suicidally dangerous for our society, but that’s not the same thing as saying that they are insane.”
What better definition of insanity is there than the persistent belief in things that are false, delusive, suicidally dangerous, and manifestly counter-productive? We’re not talking about minor temporary aberrations here, but decades-long pursuit of policies that self-evidently do not work and in fact cause great harm.
Yes, liberals have “reasons” for their beliefs, but that does not make those beliefs any less insane. Paranoid schizophrenics can give you “reasons” for their crazy beliefs, too.
Yes, maybe we should just call all modern Western people insane, because they have been indoctrinated in an insane belief system via an insane school system and insane media outlets. People largely believe what they are told to believe, after all, and the people who are telling them what to believe are insane.
Rick U. is precisely wrong that thoughtful tactics can persuade liberals that they are wrong. If you view liberalism as a mental disorder, or as a religion, then it is plain that rational discussion is a waste of time. Any facts that conflict with their deeply held beliefs will be rejected on an emotional level. (Surely you have had many discussions that have ended with a liberal screaming “you’re a fascist!” at you?)
You later say,
“In reality, if we had 50 million people on the right-wing nationalist side, we’d be running the country.”
How many right-wing nationalists were there in the 1950s and the 1960s? I dare say there were more than 50 million. (Perhaps we could take 27 million votes for Barry Goldwater in 1964 as our minimum baseline.) [LA replies: Not a good example for your argument: Goldwater was defeated by a 60-40 landslide. Clearly the right-wing was not running the country, liberals were.] Yet where is the country now? Tens of millions of right-wing nationalists could not prevent the U.S. from turning into a liberal sinkhole back at a time when there were not also tens of millions of ardent liberals opposing them, so what exactly could tens of millions of right-wing nationalists do today in the face of massive liberal opposition? It is clear that the mere existence of large numbers of right-wing nationalists is insufficient to force the U.S. government to implement and sustain the policies that right-wing nationalists favor, or we never would have gotten to the situation that confronts us in 2010 in the first place.
I agree with Mencius that “The system is not designed to listen to them. It is designed not to listen to them. It is, in fact, designed to resist them.” This was true even in the supposedly “McCarthyite” 1950s. We should note that McCarthy failed completely to achieve what you want to achieve today—to shut down government departments that were unreformable and replace the bureaucrats with right-wing people—even though he made this effort at a time when it was politically propitious to do so. If McCarthy could not succeed at the height of the Cold War, with Eisenhower in the White House and Dulles in Foggy Bottom, what are the chances of such an effort succeeding today? [LA replies: What does McCarthy have to do with this discussion? McCarthy was not trying to reduce the scope of government or to end liberalism as a governing ideology. McCarthy was seeking to root Communists out of the government, and his roguish and irresponsible methods resulted in his being censured by the U.S. Senate in 1954, after which his national influence ended.]
You say to Mencius:
“It becomes evident that your commitment, your program, is to shoot down any possibility of saving America and the West in their historical form. And by historical form, I obviously don’t mean their current ideology and bloated government structures, which must go.”
The currently prevailing ideology and bloated government is inextricable from the historical form of America and the West. Liberalism is not an alien implant, it was made in the USA, with roots going back to the 1600s. You cannot get rid of liberalism without completely changing the USA, and if you could somehow “turn back the clock” to 1933 or 1865 or whenever, we would quickly get back to where we are now. Once you realize that bad government is the natural and historically inevitable product of the system installed in 1783, it puts any proposed herculean effort to reform that system in an entirely different light. [So James P. is opposed to the entire American system since 1783. What then is he appealing to? Where does he want to go? American traditionalists are basing themselves on something good in America, a something which must be re-articulated and brought forward to undo the mistakes of the past in which liberalism was too powerful. But James and Mencius see nothing good in America, and Mencius’ models are Renaissance and Puritan despots of the 16th and 17th centuries.]
Parenthetically, the main problem with Mencius’ characterization of the USG as “insane” is that he also argues that the progressives who run the government are those who seek victory, status, and power. It is certainly not irrational to seek victory, status, and power, but a government composed of such folks will not be a good one.
I repeat that both Mencius and James P. make the error of equating today’s traditionalism with Republicans/conservatives of the 1950s. But that Republicanism/conservatism never challenged the reigning liberal principle of non-discrimination, as today’s traditionalism does; and it was never explicitly race-conscious and pro-white, as today’s traditionalism is.
It’s funny that Mencius always portrays me as someone living in the past, when in reality he’s the one who’s living in the past, seeing me as the re-incarnation of his liberal bogeyman of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. as well as of his inadequate-conservative boogie men of the same period.
Leonard D. writes:
To Mr. Moldbug you asserted that even 10 million Americans convinced of a hardline position on Muslim separationism would “completely transform American politics.” And yet, there are far more than that number who take the hardline position on abortion. Consultation with pollingreport.com on abortion shows that, depending on the poll, some 10-15 percent of adult Americans are willing to tell a pollster that abortion should be illegal in all cases including rape and incest. That would be roughly 24-36 million people. (The actual number is probably somewhat higher.) And yet their effect inside the beltway has been minimal. [LA replies: It is true that the anti-abortion movement has failed in its 37-year-long crusade to outlaw abortion nationwide (and insofar as it has pushed a constitutional amendment banning abortion, it deserved to fail). However, it has succeeded in significant smaller goals, such as barring federal funding for abortion, such as keeping the U.S. from signing on to abortion as a population control measure in international organizations, such as keeping alive as issues in America the immorality of abortion and the unconstitutionality of Roe v. Wade.]
It does appear to me that on the issue of abortion, at least, Washcorp is designed to resist democracy. Mr. Moldbug claims this is a general property of Washcorp: it resists right-wing populism like the devil. So why do you think immigration policy is different? (Not to mention a hypothetical policy of active religious discrimination against voting citizens, as some Muslims are.)
It does seem to me that there must be a number of voters, let’s say 150 million, above which a hypothetical right-wing nationalist party would, in fact, be powerful enough to change America democratically. But then, would you hold that power indefinitely? So long as democracy and Christianity (including progressivism, which is post-Christian crypto-religiousity) continue to exist in America, the conditions for progressive takeover are ever present. How would you, how could you change America in your time in power in such a way that would prevent this in the future? It already happened once, after all. The problem here is not Christianity, nor progressivism or even Islam. The problem is democracy.
Obviously, democracy unconstrained is a destructive force that leads a society ultimately to ruin, as all serious political thinkers have recognized. Just as liberalism can only be non-destructive it if is part of a larger order that is non-liberal, democracy can only be non-destructive if it is part of a larger order that is non-democratic.
D. from Seattle writes:
Regarding Leonard D.’s comment that about 24-36 million Americans are against abortion yet there has been minimal progress towards outlawing abortion, and that therefore follows that 10 million people (or even 150 million) supporting exclusion of Muslims from the U.S. would not be enough, this is where I believe the core of the problem is.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 02, 2010 12:14 PM | Send
It is impossible or nearly impossible to sustain a political movement on a single issue, be it abortion, immigration, disentanglement from Muslim lands, or anything else. If true conservatives were to offer a sustainable and lasting platform, that platform would have to address all relevant issues in an internally consistent manner, i.e. morality, abortion, immigration, economy, taxation, health issues, education, etc. Liberals understand this—witness how Obama has promised everything to everyone on the left and got elected. He won’t be able to deliver everything, or he will and will ruin the country in the process, but the point is that his platform was a complete and consistent package from a liberal perspective.
Therefore true conservatives need to offer the whole package, not piecemeal solutions. I believe this is why the abortion opponents were not able to make much progress despite their numbers; so long as you’re pushing just one issue there is only so far that single issue will carry you, no matter what that issue is. The left understands this, which is why, as you also have noticed, they are constantly rotating the issues to the point that just following the news is overwhelming. Conservatives need to saturate the debate with a list of issues in a similar way.
I am not going to opine on how likely this is to happen; I am simply saying that this is what needs to happen for the country to survive in any from that would resemble the historic America.