Politics

Past is prologue

20/03/2019

“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

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 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 via a long series of epiphanies (not visions, just sudden realisations) that this was not the end of history at all, merely the continuation of long wars by other means. 

 

Past is prologue

I remember where I was. There were rose bushes in the open window sill, the telly was on, it was evening. Suddenly it 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. Maybe she was told to turn around or saw the faces of the crew facing her, who knows. She was composed, 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 then 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 very uneasy watching the footage.

A few 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 European at his core and a firm believer in the limits of Atlanticism. I’ve since discovered his politics, like his taste in food, probably remained Europhile throughout his life, and was certainly not the ‘inarticulate’, ‘uncouth’ and ‘pedestrian’ type of Australian politics nor apparently the ‘vulgar patriotism’ and ‘crass style’ of our friend’s country.

-o0o-

After Dad died, I inherited some of his books. I’ve spent time working through them to get a handle on who he was, politically-speaking. I will write a few book reviews and attempt to glean from them anything that is important for our time. Dad read a lot but we rarely discussed political in theory and generally only discussed more immediate events in order to complain about this or that.

He had his favourite authors like Thomas Mann, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stefan Zweig, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and frequently passed novels to me, usually with newspaper clippings stuffed inside and/or the margins annotated for my attention. Sometimes even in yellow highlighter. Did all Europeans scribble notes with exclamations in the margins and underline them? I didn’t know.

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) is probably the most important book of the twentieth century. My mother’s inscription on my father’s copy says 1st September 1974, Fontana Publishers Australia — merely a year after it was published for the first time in 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. Since I first started watching him in late 2015, Dr Peterson has often referred to this book’s (or strictly, the trilogy’s) deep, personal impact on him. 

I also read Darkness at Noon, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World etcetera but I read them in the eighties and nineties as we in the West approached what our intellectual class called the ‘end of history’. Despite their many learned opinions, history didn’t end back then and today we still live in a world of keks and zeks.

And I thought these books were meaningful and all that—but it was the past, Dad. He sometimes mentioned ‘fellow travellers’ and other stuff but the Berlin Wall had fallen—for goodness sake—this was ancient European angst—all Sturm and drang hysterics over horrible best forgotten conflicts. I agreed that gulags and war were burnt into the hearts of the immigrants who came to Australia post-WW II, but it still had strictly speaking nothing to do with us or me over here.

Quite the opposite in fact, we had so much to offer as a safe new harbour to escape from the bloodiest century on the bloodiest continent in history. Eighteen years ago, all I knew was that this stuff was historically important, but politics per se? — too boring, too dry. I was a self-conscious, slow learner so I got my kicks from motorcycles and music. Anyway, even I knew the Cold War was over—D’oh. By the late nineties, I preferred science fiction—why read brutal old history when the modern world is on such a great trajectory? Silly me. Ofermód. I wonder what dad thought.

-o0o-

In those well-read, ignorant days, I hadn’t yet heard of the old chestnut that although I may have had no interest in politics, politics had an interest in me. 

And like so many others it now seems, I succumbed unwittingly while growing up to the international Left’s cultural sleight of hand – but fortunately only to its art and aesthetic, not its message. Succumbed, because I ran with fringe cultural herds to have fun and be cool** and I knew how to party. But, along the way I developed a love for Chicago (and Texan) guitar-based blues, which was luckily not culturally destructive at all. IOW, for want of a better way to put it, I was the hippy not the yippie. Whatever ‘the message’ might have been, it largely went over my head as I enjoyed the medium. Then, from the early months and years after 9/11, I had several epiphanies over time and I began to wonder if any part of my life (or anybody else’s for that matter) was not in fact riddled by a ‘politics’ whose provenance stretches far back in time. Yep, to the Old Days.

-oOo-

In 2001, we got an intro to something we didn’t ask 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, i.e. us. Later, cognitive dissonance started to occur everywhere, as perfectly normal ideas such as ‘freedom’ were inexplicably propounded as slavery (e.g. hurriyya in hard-line, literal Sufi manifestations) as if we had somehow entered a completely post-modern Marxist age or taken LSD.

Islam appeared seemingly out of nowhere, a rickety warlord dogma, an ancient theological and tribal worldview and a complete socio-political systemmuch like Marxism. Largely antithetical to every value I held dear – much like Marxism. We clearly hadn’t paid enough attention although we were repeatedly warned during the 20c. We suddenly got asymmetry in the face. We found then lost OBL. We got Bali, 1 and 2. We killed the slow and stupid ones. They got hybrid war, we got three cups of tea and called them junior varsity. Then, presumably, sometime later, we got real.

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 her agony radiate across the room.

-o0o-

As I watched my sister’s friend, I was struck by just how upset she was and how clearly this shook her world. Suddenly, I saw the citizen of the United States of America in full relief— their star-spangled hearts, their energy, why they salute the flag and kneel for the fallen. The most powerful nation in history overflowing with dismay and disbelief but not wild-eyed revenge. Whether she was a Democrat or a Republican then, was and is immaterial to me (although party allegiance is of course quite the issue in the US today, and Blexit is merely one positive example). Even today the anniversary still summons up outpourings of plain but poignant words.

Anyway, I suddenly felt how the quality, the texture [1] of being Australian [2] is no less true, palpable or heart-rending but it is so different. My Australia, our little outpost of western and aboriginal civs, and the downstream implications of Culture itself came at me like the proverbial roo through the windscreen.  I wasn’t prepared. I sat there a-dumbian (OE: silent) embarrassed, and my thoughts flew around the world to find out where this came from and what it all meant.  

-o0o-

On 10 September 2001, I reckon the ordinary Aussie (perhaps even less than the average American) had no clue what ‘Islam’ or a ‘Muslim’ were, let alone Salafism, Wahhabism, jihad, taqiyya, hijabs, dhimmitude, IEDs, child marriage or Sayyid Qutb. We certainly had no bloody idea that we were infidels.  Take Bali. Australians love Bali. Although I have never been there a few family members have and love staying and surfing on lovely beaches amongst people with a friendly and gentle outlook.

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, p 3, 2004)

We had no idea for example at the time of the Bali bombing, and according to Abu Bakar Bashir, that between our two cultures there would “forever be a ravine of hate and we will be enemies until you follow God’s law” (In the Shadow of the Swords).

None of what was happening was historically rooted here in Australian culture or made sense in the minds of ordinary everyday Aussies. Furthermore, in an albeit post-Christian culture, our no doubt collectively vague understanding of any supposed path to martyrdom was quite different to what we had witnessed, and unfortunately still witness, and that was alarming. 

-o0o-

Culturally, we still don’t understand a hell of a lot more about the cultural situation than we did in 2001 (partly because its underlying organising principle is made of ancient desert ethics and customs, and responds differently to ours, and partly because of the persistent lies and dissembling of our political and media betters that make us unable and ineligible to discuss anything of any substance publicly. But I digress).

As I reflect on New York, Madrid, Bali I and II, Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Paris, London, Holland, year on bloody year, I think of bollards and civilisational decline not innovation. (I mean if this God literally approves of jihad, i.e. holy war against infidels until bloody submission, what on earth is their Devil like? What on earth does he do?).

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

For evil action, there is the weight of the law. Islam’s widespread non-literal and contemporary cultural variations, such as those over the ditch, are benign and innocent and sometimes greatly wronged. What occurred in New Zealand recently was a tragic failure of humint and a worldwide product of media and establishment lies as well as mass appeasement. The failure also on the part of so many national leaders to voice and act to preserve deeply held values, customs, norms and traditions at the heart and core of the very nations they govern is a huge problem. Confusing, cognitively dissonant and corrupt elite behaviour reported by a corrupt media surely leads to crazy results on the street.

For evil speech, the West needs more voices not Tech Giants or parliaments and antifa to stifle it, chasten thought, penalise fact and erase history. It is galling, as an Australian for example, how our politicians attract a broad parliamentary privilege to speak, while we mere souls enjoy no such privus ‘private’ + lex, ‘law’ [ME, formerly Old French and Latin privilegium] by which to speak freely, even at our own kitchen table.

-o0o-

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, he also noted how without historical safe-keeping, transcription and development by Muslims of ancient manuscripts (while Europe was supposedly in its ‘dark ages’) precious knowledge would have been lost to the world.  

It was nevertheless a major cultural and civilizational calamity not to capitalise on the ideas in those documents and generally innovate, as its sister in Christendom surely did. Islam as a whole still remains far less capable of assimilating the new than even the rusted on faith of those who faced off against Galileo Galilei. When GG attempted to show that the earth may not  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]

Innovation is also born of need and hastened by sharing of knowledge. Walter Russell Mead has written of the twin impulses of competition and co-operation that run as thread through Western civilisation. To co-exist, I say these two threads require energetic compromise. As an aside, it is interesting that Arabic, which of course carries the literal creed, apparently contains no word for compromise while the Christian creed demands a turning of the cheek (even if its adherents are less than worthy).  

-o0o-

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)

The most toxic pest in the global political swamp today is the geopolitically modified organism known as the red-green alliance that, in one form or another, has been in existence since at least the 1920s or before. It is a concern that is little discussed in our MSM — who also mostly ignore the merchant, mineral, maritime and military machinations of the Communist P. R C.,to our peril.

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

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 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 via a long series of epiphanies (not visions, just sudden realisations) that this was not the end of history at all, merely the continuation of long wars by other means. 

-o0o-

 

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

[1] Here by way of a bad pun is some of the good from back in the day. And 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 video, awesome band.

 

__________

UpdateThanks to a busy life and ‘technical’ issues (i.e. like me learning WordPress etc.), I hadn’t uploaded an actual post for this blog since it went live well before the ides of this March. In light of the tragedy in Christchurch NZ, I updated the first post I wrote to acknowledge the emerging news and if possible, help counteract the fog of fake news that spreads after heinous and ghastly acts like this. Despite the day and night coverage, I haven’t read the weirdo’s so-called ‘manifesto’. I denounce his act and agree with much of Anthony Brian Logan’s slightly flawed early take (the murderer is unfortunately not as dead as reported). It is certainly odd that a white supremacist ethno-statist could 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 conservatives, loves Chinese communism and wishes to collapse the USA by causing a knee-jerk abrogation of the 2A and ensuing civil war. As ABL says, it sure doesn’t sound like a Trump-supporter. So I am posting my original post regardless because my argument (as per my About page) is different, relates to the culture war, and does not pertain to the deranged ravings of some homicidal Australian gym junkie dedicated to the murder of innocents in some 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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