Guns and gnosticism

The Dutch blogger Snouk Hurgronje writes:

Only at VFR is it possible to read insights into the gnostic nature of liberalism AND the “handgun in the European mind.”

That’s all.

LA replies:

Thank you. Also, the two subjects would seem to be related. Eric Voegelin speaks of the gnostic dream world in which normal, reality-based actions by political leaders and authorities are replaced by magical operations. The notion of European police (brought out by Ferg in a fascinating comment in the linked entry) that the main purpose of their guns is for demonstrating their authority, not for actually shooting people, as a result of which the police do not use effective weapons and do not receive serious weapon training, would seem to be a typical gnostic replacement of reality with a dream reality.

Here is another a typical gnostic magical operation supplanting reality-based actions: the security measures being used in our airports.

Snouk replies:

What about the British police? Their constables do not carry guns at all but rely on “special response teams” with rifles. The joke is that to stop a miscreant British policemen shout “Stop,” or all say “Stop again!.” English people get nervous when they see Continental policemen carrying guns.

There was a time not too long ago that the police hardly needed to carry pistols at all in the Netherlands. And still most Dutch policemen do not use their guns in their entire career on the police beat. 20-30 percent would fail their shooting exams if they had to take the prescribed test. In most districts police has not done the annual pistol training for seven to eight years.

We only have had serious gun crime for 15 years in the four big cities.

Indeed the weapon Dutch police know how to use is the “wapenstok,” a long baton used during riots with squatters and hooligans.

You wrote: “Here is another a typical gnostic ‘magical operation’ supplanting reality-based actions: the security measures being used in our airports.”

Which reminds me of Martin van Creveld who wrote in “The Transformation of War” that a military tactic is at first surprising, then becomes generally adopted and finally takes on a ritual character and in fact obsolete. That is quite similar to your “magical operation.”

Also I think the U.S. is always trying to repeat what it thinks it did in the Second World War when it goes to war. And America is shocked when it does not work but it still keeps repeating it. The story of the Second World War has become America’s founding myth, replacing the Revolutionary War. It is a kind of “Magical Super Operation.”

LA replies:

As verification of your last point, we only need to look at the innumerable statements by Bush supporters since 2003 that our nation-building and democracy-building operation in Iraq could succeed because it was just like what the U.S. did in Germany and Japan after the war. These were otherwise intelligent people equating utterly different situations with each other, and they kept repeating this blatantly untrue idea year after year. That is prime evidence of people constructing a dream world in place of the real world in order to justify a false ideology—the ideology that Muslims are essentially the same and want the same things as Westerners.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 05, 2010 12:16 PM | Send

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