Australia Politics

Past is prologue

20/03/2019

TLDR VERSION: 9/11 was neither the beginning nor the end of history but it brought to an end the short-lived illusion of our ‘Fukuyama Age’ and steadily exposed, at least to me, the unwelcome presence of pride [ofermód] in the West—in others, in me—and that’s what this blog will explore. It was a global event as much as a local lethal act, and the latest front in a clash of civilisations to some. As the 20c. ticked over into the 21c. I realised via a series of epiphanies (not visions, just sudden realisations or red pill moments as they’re called today) that I had been massively naive and that this era was not the end of history at all, merely the continuation of old long wars by other means. 

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Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.                     

Ch. 27, The Discourses, Epictetus

I remember where I was. There were rose bushes in the open window, the telly was on, it was evening. Suddenly the TV cut to a live news feed and the anchor was there with her back to an aerial backdrop of morning in New York city. She spoke quickly, I saw the tall tower, a plume at the top but, then, out of nowhere a large passenger plane hits its twin. I jump up to yell out along the hallway but shrink back because she hasn’t even seen it. I see it before her. Maybe she is told to turn around or saw the faces of her crew facing her, who knows. She was composed but dazed. Everything was so tense—so many sirens. I don’t remember if I flicked channels but it was saturation coverage. The smoke was so high up and the towers fell down, and ten thousand miles away I began to cry — I couldn’t see properly, and I knew there was no time to get away, and all those people. It was spellbinding and sad. Even now it makes me uneasy watching the footage.

Days later, I was having a cuppa at my sister’s place with her American friend, and my father made a tactless remark. This was not unusual. Dad was a long-naturalised Australian but a superior European to his core, and a firm believer in the limits of Atlanticism.

I’ve come to believe that Dad’s politics like his taste in food remained firmly Europhile throughout his life. He shared none (as he might have put it) of the inarticulate, uncouth  and pedestrian politics of Australia nor the vulgar flag-waving patriotism in our friend’s country.

Initially I took his uncalled for snark as another humdrum example of his general rudeness in public but then it struck me as egregiously unfair since she was so upset and so far away from home, and shouldn’t have had to wear my dad’s disdain for the slightest show of patriotism at that terrible time. I later came to think it was actually more the patriotic deficit in himself that he disliked, as someone who had left his own country for another, and 9/11 and the reaction afterwards perhaps went to the heart of a guilty feeling.

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After Dad died, I inherited some books. I’ve spent some time working through them to get a better handle on who he was. I’ll post a few book reviews in time that try to glean things that are interesting to me or important commentary for the crazy times in which we live. Dad read a lot but we rarely discussed ‘politics’. When we chatted about politics it was to complain about this or that not to theorise about it.

Dad’s fave authors included Mann, Koestler, Silone, Zweig, Hemingway and Fitzgerald and he usually passed the novels on to me, usually with newspaper clippings stuffed inside and the margins occasionally annotated for my attention, sometimes in yellow highlighter. Did all Europeans scribble notes with exclamation marks in the margins and underline them? I didn’t know.

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) is quite possibly the most important book of the twentieth century. My mother’s inscription on my father’s copy says 1st September 1974. It was printed by Fontana Publishers Australia — merely ONE year after it was introduced for the first time to the free world.

If you must have an intro before the heaviness descends as you tackle this tour de force—and it is a real and terrible accounting—start with Jordan Peterson in his anniversary foreword to The Gulag Archipelago. It was the first of the ten book reviews I planned to do for the blog until I saw he had already covered it book from A to Z. Since I first started watching him in about late 2015, Dr Peterson has often referred to this book (or strictly, the trilogy of which it is a part) and its deep, personal impact on him. 

Like many,  I read Darkness at Noon, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World etc. But I read for pleasure, especially since the West was reaching what our intellectual betters were calling the ‘end of history’. Despite all the learned opinions, history didn’t actually end in some kind liberal internationalist Utopian order. No, the Gods of the Copybook headings applied, and we remain in a world of keks, cucks and zeks, tyranny and gulags.

So I thought these sorts of novels and accounts meaningful and all that but they were about the past—C’mon Dad! He might mention ‘fellow travellers’ or ‘useful idiots’ and other things but the Berlin Wall had fallen for goodness sake—this was ancient European angst and misery over interesting but best forgotten conflicts. I got that tragedy was burnt into the hearts of many post-war emigrants coming to Australia but that had strictly nothing to do with me or us over here.

Quite the opposite I thought—Australia had so much to offer as a safe but different harbour to escape the bloodiest century on the bloodiest continent in history. Last century I knew this stuff was important, but I spent my time riding bikes and listening to music so those painful chronicles had no relevance. Anyway, even I knew the Cold War was over, d’oh. By the late nineties I liked science fiction better anyway—why read brutal old tales when the modern world was on such a clearly great trajectory? Silly me. I had swallowed the end of history thing – the whole safe soft left cultural zeitgeist – hook, line and sinker. Ofermód. I wonder what Dad thought.

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In those well-read ignorant days, I also hadn’t yet heard of the saying that although I had no interest in politics, politics had an interest in me. Growing up, I succumbed unwittingly to the international Left’s cultural sleight of hand – fortunately only to its art and aesthetic and not its message. Succumbed because I was a self-conscious slow learner who ran with fringe herds of society to fit in, have fun, be cool* and party! For want of a better way to describe it, I was the hippy not the yippie in the late cultural revolution. Whatever the ‘message’ may have been went largely over my head as I indulged in the medium instead.

But in the months and then years post-9/11, I began to have some devastating epiphanies. My naivete took a hell of a battering as I began to wonder if any part of my life (or anybody else’s for that matter) was not in fact riddled with ‘politics’. A malignant form of international revolutionary socialism had again infected Australia and now, into our lives after it had marched a revanchist cult whose provenance went back even further in time. Back in fact, to the Old Days.

-oOo-

In 2001, the West got an intro to something we never asked for— a close-up and personal view of the violent and cruel spasms of an atavistic foreign creed at war with dar al-Harb, and ultimately with all modernity.

Later, cultural cognitive dissonance started to pop up everywhere, as perfectly normal everyday notions such as ‘freedom’ were inexplicably described as ‘slavery’ (e.g. hurriyya in the hard-line, literal Sufi manifestation) as if we had somehow entered a post-modern Marxist age of doublethink, or collectively taken LSD.

Furthermore, despite Australia’s post-Christian environment, our cultural understanding of some so-called path to ‘martyrdom’ was not merely different but diametrically opposite to what we were witnessing from Al Qaeda and sympathisers, and that was very confusing as well as physically alarming.

Hard line Islam had appeared out of nowhere on a new horse with a black flag like ancient rickety warlord desert dogma. It was a complete socio-political system unto itselfmuch like Marxism. Largely antithetical to every value I held and hold dear – much like Marxism.

We in the West clearly hadn’t paid enough attention although it appears we were repeatedly warned during the 20c. The West suddenly got asymmetry in the face. We found then lost OBL. We got Bali 1 and 2 and hundreds of similar events around the world. We killed the slow and stupid ones. We got hybrid war, we got them three cups of tea and called them junior varsity. Then, presumably, sometime later, we got real.

-o0o-

Meanwhile, in the living room my father casually mocked America, and thus in effect all Americans, with the cool unearned superiority that only a European can really muster, and I felt agony radiate across the room.

As I watched our American friend, I was struck by just how profoundly upset she was. Not by my dad’s snark so much as by the thing itself, his words just fell like the floors of the buildings after initial impact. Suddenly I saw the United States in full relief— the star-spangled hearts, the energy, and why they salute the flag and kneel for the fallen.

On television, the most powerful nation in history was overflowing with dismay and disbelief but not wild-eyed revenge. Whether our friend was a Democrat or a Republican was immaterial (although allegiance is an issue today and #Walkaway and Blexit seem positive). Years later the anniversary of 9/11 still brings outpourings of plain and poignant words.

I suddenly felt the quality, the texture [1] of being Australian, [2]  and how it was no less true, palpable or heart-rending to me but so different. I sat there embarrassed and a-dumbian, as my thoughts began to fly around for clues about where all this stuff came from and what it all meant.  I thought about my father’s European outlook, and my Australian one, and then the sheer downstream force of Culture on politics, and politics on life, and life hurtled at me like the proverbial roo through the front windscreen. 

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*As an aside, I also look back with some mortification at the sly political content inserted into the soundtrack of my yoof. There was a lot of collectivising claptrap and proselytising inside the geopolitical pop phenomenon to use Mark Steyn’s phrase, and I was a sitting duck. In the 80s and 90s I had no idea about and less interest in whatever artists were going on about, I just liked going to gigs. Now I think of some things I sang along to and ewww. This blog will cover some of that musical territory – the good, the bad and the definitely ugly.

[1] By way of a bad pun here is some of the musical good from back in the day, plus more Catherine Wheel. Not Australian, but Ferment is a great album as is the later Chrome.

[2] Last live performance of Australian band Matt Finish, featuring musical genius Matt Moffitt who was taken too early. Awful pub video, awesome musical genius.

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So, on 10 September 2001 I reckon the ordinary Aussie (perhaps even more so than the average American) had no real clue what ‘Islam’ or a ‘Muslim’ were, let alone Salafism, Wahhabism, jihad, taqiyya, hijabs, dhimmitude, IEDs, child marriage or Sayyid Qutb etcetera

We certainly had no bloody idea that we were infidels. Take Bali for instance. Aussies love Bali. I have never been there but family members have and they love staying and surfing and the Balinese, who by all accounts are friendly people.

We had no idea at the time of the Bali bombing that, according to its ‘mastermind’ Abu Bakar Bashir, there would “forever be a ravine of hate and we will be enemies until you follow God’s law”.

Bashir’s words only compounded the fear and confusion of Australians struggling to comprehend the nation’s worst mass loss of life since World War II. To me his sentence was more frightening than the bombing itself. We had found ourselves at war again, only this time it was a war that had never been declared, against an enemy we didn’t even know, an enemy driven by a hatred we were at a loss to understand…what was this ravine of hate? And how on earth had we found ourselves on the other side?

In the Shadow of Swords by Sally Neighbour, 2004, p 3. 

None of what was happening was rooted in Australian culture or history and it made no sense whatsoever in the minds of everyday Aussies. It still doesn’t. I mean if the Islamic god literally approves of jihad (i.e. a holy war against ‘infidels’ until their bloody submission) what on earth is its devil like? What on earth is there left for their devil to do? What became clear was that a dangerous cult was actually being taken seriously as a legitimate religious outlook.

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TIME Magazine Cover: Madrid 3/11/2004 - Mar. 22, 2004 ...

These days reflecting on New York, Madrid, Bali I and II, Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Paris, London, Holland year on bloody year, I often think of safety bollards, airport security and other small symbols of decline rather than the ongoing civilisational innovation, stability and prosperity we were promised by the Fukuyama Age

Islam’s many non-literal, non-hard line contemporary manifestations, such as those found over the ditch, are benign and innocent and sometimes greatly wronged through guilt by association.

What occurred in New Zealand recently was a tragedy, a failure of humint and a confused product of mass media and social media. It is compounded by the failure of cynical leaders to preserve deeply held social values, customs, norms and traditions at the heart of the very nations they purport to govern. Years of Third Way cultural treason and deliberate cognitive dissonance pushed by the media are very much to blame for our modern cultural confusion as well as primitive hatred and violence on the street. 

For such evil, there is the law. However, for so-called ‘hate’ speech, the West needs MORE voices not Big Tech, parliaments and Jacobin thugs to stifle it, chasten thought, penalise facts and erase history. It is galling, for example, as an Australian, that our elected politicians attract a broad parliamentary privilege to speak freely, while we mere souls enjoy no such privus ‘private’ + lex, ‘law’ [ME, formerly Old French and Latin privilegium] right by which to speak freely, even at our own kitchen table

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Prof. Bernard Lewis, late of Princeton and the ‘last Orientalist’, described the political history of Islam “as one of almost unrelieved autocracy” and “authoritarian, often arbitrary , sometimes tyrannical. Its various manifestations post-WW II also had “uncomfortable resemblances” with Communism. Nevertheless Lewis also noted, like many other scholars do, that without historical safe-keeping, transcription and development by Muslims of early manuscripts (while Europe was supposedly in its ‘Dark Ages’) much precious knowledge would have been lost to the world.  

It was nevertheless a major civilizational calamity on the part of the Islamic world not to capitalise on the knowledge it held in its very hands, and innovate as its sister in Christendom surely did (albeit in fits and starts and painfully sometimes). Even today Islam is far less capable of assimilating the new, than even the rusted few who faced off against Galileo Galilei. When Galileo tried to show his contemporaries the earth may not in fact be the centre of the universe he was imprisoned and condemned as follows:

We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in this trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself, in the judgement of this holy office, vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having believed and held the doctrine–which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine scriptures–that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world. [my emphasis]

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Walter Russell Mead wrote of twin impulses of competition and co-operation that run as threads through Western civilisation. For these two threads to co-exist and produce cultural innovation, I say they require energetic and peaceful compromise. It is thus interesting that Arabic (which alone carries the literal creed) apparently contains no word for compromise, while Christianity pretty well demands turning the cheek. Over the centuries, Islam has shown almost no capacity for innovation but a huge propensity for cultural envy, arrogance and revanchism, so it is little wonder a century ago it hitched itself to another creed that was itself in direct opposition to Western civilisation, individual freedom and reason.

The most toxic pest in the global swamp today is the geo-politically modified organism known as the red-green alliance, that in one form or another has been in existence since at least the 1920s. It is a major concern not touched on by the MSM, which also largely ignores the second major concern of our time and region, the merchant, mineral, maritime and military machinations of the Communist P. R C.

Quite obviously, the Ulama of Islam are very different from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, on closer examination, we find certain uncomfortable resemblances. Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. 

…The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet” was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith-a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy — might well strike a responsive note. [my emphasis]

Lewis, Communism and Islam, 1954

Inside this unholy, unstable courtship are the same enervating old doctrines, newly minted with a fresh intersectional identitarianism and revanchist incongruity. For example, despite the modern tragedy that is Venezuela (as an obvious case study on ABC luvvies) socialism of all sick things has re-emerged with vigour in Australia. Largely because, social media. Both doctrines, however, are the same old foes of humanity, with their twin enforced Utopias syncopated by the dull thud of a guillotine and the schwing of a sword. 

9/11 was neither the beginning nor the end of history but it brought to an end the short-lived illusion of the Fukuyama Age’ and steadily exposed, at least to me, the unwelcome presence of cultural ofermód in the West – in others, in me – and that’s what this blog will explore. It was a global event as much as a local lethal act, and a new front in a clash of civilisations to some. As the 20c. ticked over into the 21c. I realised with the help of various epiphanies (not visions, just sudden realisations or red pill moments) that this was not the end of history at all, merely the continuation of old long wars by other means. 

-o0o-

 

 

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Update: Unfortunately, thanks to a hectic life and ‘technical’ issues (i.e. like me learning WordPress etc.), I hadn’t uploaded the very first post for this blog after it went live, well before the ides of this March. In light of the tragedy in Christchurch NZ, I updated it to acknowledge the emerging news and if possible, help counteract the usual fog of fake news that spreads after heinous, ghastly acts like this. Despite the night and day coverage, I haven’t read the weirdo’s so-called ‘manifesto’. I denounce his act and agree with Anthony Brian Logan’s albeit slightly flawed early take (the murderer is unfortunately not as dead as was reported). It is certainly odd though that a white supremacist, ethno-statist would refer approvingly to Candace Owens–so yeah it seems he’s a facetious prick as well as a piece of human filth. He’s also apparently a self-declared “eco-fascist who hates capitalism and also conservatives, loves Chinese communism and wishes to collapse the USA by creating a knee-jerk abrogation of the 2A and an ensuing civil war. As ABL rightly says, that sure doesn’t sound like a Trump-supporter. So I’m posting my post regardless because my point (as per my About page) is different, relates to the culture war in the West, and does not pertain to the deranged ravings of some homicidal Australian gym junkie dedicated to the murder of innocents in a kind of violent, private revolution. To be clear, after facing court he should be sent away for the term of his natural life.

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