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  • Worthwhile Reading–Annotated Edition

    Posted by David Foster on January 12th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The Diplomad observes that “‘Progressives’, of course, are greatly influenced by movies. In fact…the majority of what passes for “Progressive thought” is derived from the Hollywood version of history that they have running in an endless video loop in their heads. Listen to them talk about the economy, race relations, education, “gender equality,” US history, etc., and it all forms part of some giant Hollywood script.”  Indeed—shortly after 9/11, when the idea of arming airline pilots was first mooted,  critics of the idea referred to “gunfights at 35,000 feet” as something “out of a Tom Clancy movie”. Hadn’t they thought that deliberately crashing airplanes into buildings might be something out of a Tom Clancy movie, too? And whether or not something might appear in a movie is obviously irrelevant to its validity from a policy standpoint.

    This topic relates closely to my earlier post about metaphors, interfaces, and thought processes, in which I discuss the consequences of the “iconic” versus the “textual” modes of presenting information.

    David Warren writes about the conspiracy of German elites, in both media and government, to suppress knowledge of the New Year’s atrocities in Cologne and other cities.  Indeed, one might conclude that the whole idea of free speech hasn’t taken hold very well in Germany over the last 70 years, at least among the writing and political classes.  Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to Germany: Mark Zuckerberg, the ringmaster of the Facebook circus, was apparently all too eager to co-conspire with Merkel to delete strong criticisms of her immigration policies.

    A society cannot thrive or even survive if its decision-making organs are disconnected from knowledge of what is actually happening, any more than your furnace can keep your house at the right temperature if the wires connecting it to the thermostat are cut.  In a democracy, the ultimate decision-making organ is supposed to be the people of the country.

    Don Sensing writes about totalism, and how it is reflected in the behavior of the Obama administration and the attitudes of the “progressive” Left.  He quotes Mussolini’s definition of Fascism:

     

    The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State…. ..The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone … 

    Sensing also links to an earlier post in which he quotes professor Anna Geifman on the Totalist political worldview:

    … Its devotees — anarchists, Marxists, or Islamists — want to impose a new order based on an “all-or-nothing claim to truth.” They operate within distinctive parameters of a “theology of Armageddon — a final battle between good and evil” –  in which the stakes are nothing less than universal salvation. As outlined in Eric Hoffer’s classic, The True Believer, such movements have mastered the art of “religiofication,” that is, converting political grievances into messianic aspirations and “practical purposes into holy causes.”

    The increasing intolerance of dissent in the American and European political climates reminds me of some words from the Chorus in Goethe’s Faust:

    That ancient truth we will recite

    Give way to force, for might is right

    And would you boldly offer strife?

    Then risk your house, estate–and life

     

    6 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading–Annotated Edition”

    1. Mrs. Davis Says:

      The problem is not limited to Germany. Look at Rotherham and now Sweden. What is disturbing is the German government’s treatment of citizens who disagree with government policy. The politically correct governments of Western EUrope are allying with the Muslims against their native citizens. These governments are truly deranged. They should hope they leave office after losing an election and not on a pitchfork.

    2. Gringo Says:

      The Diplomad observes that “‘Progressives’, of course, are greatly influenced by movies. In fact…the majority of what passes for “Progressive thought” is derived from the Hollywood version of history that they have running in an endless video loop in their heads. Listen to them talk about the economy, race relations, education, “gender equality,” US history, etc., and it all forms part of some giant Hollywood script.”

      I am reminded of the time that I made a rather negative blog comment about Dalton Trumbo. Horrified at my “simplistic” summation of Trumbo, a progressive sought to enlighten me by referring to a TV show- American Masters- on Trumbo. I replied, using print sources. More recently, Ron Radosh at PJM has done a good takedown of the current movie on Trumbo.

      Video is easier to assimilate than print. After all, you just have to sit there. In addition,it takes more work to investigate, analyze- and to put down- video than print. That means that a video narrative is more likely to be accepted than a print narrative.

    3. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Please allow me to add the best, scariest, and most important essay about this problem which was written by Richard Fernandez (but, isn’t that always true?):

      Stand by for Collision By Richard Fernandez January 11, 2016

      In the same way the present calm in Europe can be deceiving. Even if its leaders were somehow to reconstitute its borders, a gigantic flood from that vacuum upstream of the old continent is already rushing with irresistible force upon it. The UNHCR says refugee numbers are expected to increase in 2016. Some estimates say as many as 10 million more are on the way. From the beaches of North Africa to the overcrowded camps in Jordan and Lebanon; from every nook and cranny in MENA — they are on the way. One way or the other a terrible smash is now in train.

      There remains the belief that Western leaders can still fix this problem with a little tweaking. But the time for easy action has passed. The Golden Hour in which to prevent irreversible damage has lapsed, neglected by a Washington too sure of its own fantasies to act decisively. Now the storm has broken and Merkel is downstream of a dam opened by the policy of “leading from behind”. The valve with which Obama had hoped to shut down the Islamic civil war has been turned the wrong way to full open. Worse, the wheel has broken off in his hand and he is staring at the snapped spindle. …

      That human tide of misery will combine with the denial which this generation of Western leaders are capable of to produce a separate catastrophe, still in the future, itself foreseeable, which can still be avoided. If only … if only… those who missed the chance the first time now wake up to act this second time.

      But, go read the whole thing.

    4. Mike K Says:

      Not really on topic but it is interesting to watch the NHS implode.

      Half of the young doctors are emigrating and the other half are on strike. I wonder if the British trained ones are the emigres?

    5. Veryretired Says:

      There, in the Mussolini quote, is condensed to pure form the great lie which underpins all variations of collectivism, and which leads, indeed demands, the ever increasing repression of all aspects of the individual mind and spirit, until nothing else remains except the will of the autocrat enacted through the coercive power of the state.

      This is the claim that the freedom of the individual is an immoral threat to all, but that the coercive entity of the state is the primary ethical agent protecting and providing all good things.

      By succeeding in selling this immense inverted moral assertion for more that a century, the collectivists have enabled human misery and death beyond comprehension, all in the name of protecting the weak, and defending the poor.

      No more evil false claim of virtue has ever darkened human history, and destroyed everything human it has touched.

    6. Marty Says:

      You write: “A society cannot thrive or even survive if its decision-making organs are disconnected from knowledge of what is actually happening, any more than your furnace can keep your house at the right temperature if the wires connecting it to the thermostat are cut. In a democracy, the ultimate decision-making organ is supposed to be the people of the country.”

      Yes, and one thing that drives me up the wall is that even their own terms of an educated elite making decisions for the benefit of an ignorant public, liberalism and European social democracy are abject failures because they are so out of touch with reality. They repeatedly and catastrophically fail even by their own benighted definition.

      So, bad things happen when those who make decisions are not in touch with reality, regardless of how those deciders are selected or what are their goals–whether it’s Lord North, Tsar Nicholas II or Barack Obama. “Democracy” is just one case, the general rule applies to autocracy, oligarchy, you name it.