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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Collusion and Prejudice in Modern Society

A saying goes that those who win the war write the history.

Modern journalists, as a profession, have largely updated that aphorism by creating a narrative that is one sided and, by deliberately misinforming the public to the facts of history, rewriting it.

Conspiracy theories and popular prejudices are but a part of that arsenal of slightly titillating but ultimately poisoness journalistic behaviour; and repetition, when embraced by our politicians provides a veneer of respectability. There are those whose ultimate goal is not simply to justify their own prejudices and twisted fantasies but to destroy the object of their bigotry by embedding a cancer of lies into a canvas of disinformation, distortion and innuendo.

The idea that one persons history is mythology to another has been popularized in our universities, but in particular by the political Left to remove ethics from any argument and to dominate discussion through guile and bullying.  We are today living through an extended period of Left wing McCarthyism and Britain is its epicenter of hate, having foreseen the economic potential that prejudice can amass to its master players.

French intellectual guilt over its Algerian colonial history and Edward Said’s faulty academic analysis of Occidental ism (polemics as war by other means equating to indoctrination as a substitute for scholarship), has provided the base. The popularization of violence that accompanied the Black Panthers and other radical 60’s movements provided the glue that cemented the control that the Left now has of debate.  A study of this particularly noxious aspect of twentieth century history is long overdue.

The art of any word-smith is to become a spokesperson for their cause and while we should all of us take care not to stereotype the other, independence of thought is largely proscribed in academic circles.  Our universities inform our society’s views. It is why charlatans are usually to be found within and not outside of the establishment.

Too often, the only way to force hegemonic religious or political entities to change is to demonstrate their hopeless inadequacy. And like delinquent children their behavior will inevitably deteriorate before it improves.  Unfortunately however, there is no other strategic option left to us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Geographic Determinism, a choice

Robert Kaplan, in “the revenge of geography” - May / June 2009 issue of FP (Foreign Policy) states that the key insight of the last two decades is that there are worse things in the world than extreme tyranny – and that “in Iraq we brought them about our-selves.”  Universalism and its political nemesis, realism, like any label is meant to signify a coded word understood without explanation or investigation as to its wisdom.  It is without content and without history, therefore it is usually devoid of ethical value and because it is naive fails to factor in human greed and malice.

When we value order above freedom (Kaplan states that the former is a prerequisite for the latter) we have to ask what cost are we prepared to pay for a peace that is at best a temporary state of affairs and at worst a smokescreen, a dagger held at arms length and kept from our hearts by the finite strength of our determination alone.

Conflict and instability are usually driven by insecurity and change.  The motivation is often a feeling of threat, either from forces internal to the society or external forces outside of their immediate control. Historically the Special Interest Groups that have felt most threatened have been those privileged groups with the most to lose: The Church, Islamism, a controlling class (ecclesiastic, military, middle or upper).

The exploitation of a few over the destiny of the many has been a common theme throughout human history – kings and dictators who justified their rule by divine right or mission rather than by cynical terror and a lust for absolute power.

In past millennia a sense of injustice has rarely been anything other than a cover for naked aggression and economic rape. And whether the few that ruled were the royal family and their attendant aristocracy such as in Britain or some tribal leader abusing the myths of a possible past glory the results have rarely benefited anyone but those enjoying the fruits of power.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the human experience is that with all the damage and all the pain we have suffered we have allowed our leaders to exploit us.  But the tribe is a safety net – it may be fictitious but we still cling to it as if it can truly protect us from the avarice and corrosive vision of our leaders.  It is only the checks and balances of democratic society that prevents or (we hope) mitigates against our leaders worst excesses and provides a consequence when they abuse the power they have taken from us.

The tribe may number a few hundred people only or in the tens of millions, such as within the racial group (for instance the Arabs, Turks and Persians of the Near East).  But it is the exploitation of the tribe that condemns it to anarchy and misery. The modern nation state has been disintegrating since modern times began simply because it is an artificial construct usually built with illogical boundaries.

Abnegation of the individuals’ right to specificality is the nightmare scenario for both the far right and the far left.  Syncretism and exogamy deny the racist and the religious bigot their doctrinal purity as well as corrupting their specific superiority and controlling group identity.  A sense of injustice is exploited by those for whom a weakening of identity disempowers the group.

Robert Kaplan states that for the realist the central question in foreign affairs is: “who can do what to whom?” He then says that “of all the unsavory truths in which realism is rooted, the bluntest, most uncomfortable, and most deterministic of all is geography.” (P98)

He states that “rather than eliminating the relevance of geography, globalization is reinforcing it”.  Instability defined by geographic irrelevance and tribal identity has always reinforced the group in spite of artificially contrived social conditioning and the randomness of imperial brutality and colonial greed.

The relevance of geography to society if Kaplan is correct is more than just its reinforcement as a result of globalization.  The fragmentation of the nation state and its supersession by naturally defined boundaries built around the tribe, the race or the ethnic entity is dependent on the altruism of the leaders of the various nation states and sub administrators.  This returns us to the altruistic intent of the ruling clique.  Its control within democratic society is the only means by which we may be able to discourage abuse and corruption.

The historical narrative can be turned on its head but only if the will within the society to be changed exists.  Geographic determinism may be all the rage in India and China (though he omits the Near East) but it presupposes the end of European and American history.

True universalism perfects humanity through its celebration of the absorptive capacity of the human being.  If we are incapable of peaceful bipolar cultural pluralism then physical and cultural assimilation where both the society and the minority become undifferentiated are the only other choice that does not involve continuous conflict. Either that or ultimately we will have an end to the nation state and a return to culturally uniform globally policed geographically segregated geopolitical entities. The imperial pretensions of modern Arab, Persian (Iran) and Ottoman (Turkish) nations are not diminished by their massive geographical sizes.

Geographical determinism assumes that causally predetermined behavior is unchangeable.

By accepting the theory of geographical determinism we either appease the barbarians pounding at the gates of civilized society or abandon entire regions to fragmentation and 21st century geographical Darwinism. In which case, the paradox of Globalization is increasing global disintegration and international isolationism in which fear is the determinant for exclusion and the reason.

It is not the compression of space that has created the opportunities for pathologically violent ideologies. Throughout history it has been the dissemination of ideas and the implantation of such ideas in fertile minds that has created the opportunities for mass psychosis. Crowd psychology is nothing new. What is new is the speed with which sensational and even monstrous stories can and do become fact in the minds of the masses.

Communications are the beast that threatens world peace because they cannot be easily controlled. If physical borders matter, then in the world of ideas they are now virtual. If we cannot control the hearts of humankind, we can and must bring equality to the limitless void of the virtual world. Through it, ideas can be made respectable and if a pass card is needed to access the pornographic world of the bigot then we can define what is acceptable and quarantine the unacceptable.

What Mr. Kaplan describes as the dictates of geography meeting the battle of ideas is actually a vulnerability that can be exploited by both sides. History is no guarantee of survival.  It is the tyranny of ideas that compels us to act irrationally and similarly it is the fear of the oppression of ideas that can bring us back from the precipice, at least, when we are determined and strong enough to ridicule them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Karama - The Arabic for Hubris

David Ignatius in the May / June 2009 issue of FP (Foreign Policy) stated that “Karama” the Arab word for dignity, offered the recurrent explanation for why the Arab world behaves the way it does towards the “other” (in this case the US and Israel). He suggested that the reason Arafat was never able to make peace with Israel was that he could only go so far without his dignity being offended.  It is a bit more complicated than that.

A final deal would have made Arafat a hero to some and a traitor to others. But the tyranny of pride means the Arab / Islamic nation possesses an over-inflated and hence destructive vision of its superiority.  It is why dictators are the only effective rulers of the tribal and intellectually frightened Arab world. It is why they worship saviors (prophets) whose proudest attributes are militancy, violence and death and it is why Islam is called a religion of submission.  Those who do what they are told are heralded as heroes, those who question, are persecuted or killed.  This is not a religion or region of love, or respect. It is one of fear.

If we want to ensure the dignity of our enemy they must first guarantee ours.  If they are incapable of this because the dignity of one precludes the dignity of the other then the fault lies within the former and not the latter.  Ultimately, no amount of either submission or appeasement by Israel, or America for that matter, towards the Arab world (or the greater Islamic world) will suffice to defang the demon of prejudice and militant triumphalism. We in the West are self critical (sometimes) because it represents the most cogent enunciation of our right to freedom of speech but too often because as a platform for self-idolization and self-promotion it is our most potent non-physical weapon.  We can, and do, destroy with our words. We are driven towards the most extreme views by the most passionate and often most defective of human emotions; and sadly by the most charismatic and morally corrupt of human beings. In admiring intelligence we admire that which allows us to make informed choices without, paradoxically, thinking too hard about the consequences of those choices.   To be told when to think and what to think but still be able to call one-self a modern man or woman is bliss. The rest is insecurity and fear.

President Obama, in his inaugural address to the nation stated “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect” but in order to begin that dialogue we are going to have to confront the Arab and greater Muslim world. And they in their turn will have to explain and make amends for the demons in their own theology and world view.  Only then will dignity become something that mutually benefits both sides.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Harry Potter Analogy

I wrote this over five years ago – it is even more appropriate today.

“The best”, wrote Yeats in 1919, “lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

July 7th 2005, terrorists murder 52 innocent men, women and children across the London transport network. July 9th my Rabbi brands the killers “thugs” and on the 11th of July a big, white East Ender, interviewed on the BBC defiantly proclaims that Muslims don’t kill other people, “it just doesn’t happen” he says, and, “Muslims are peace loving.”

This all reminds me of Harry Potter.

Dark Forces, seek world domination for their pure blooded followers. The Only Way. Humanity, divided between the righteous (Al Qaeda); and mud bloods (impure) and muggles (infidel).  All of us on the wrong side have a purpose in this dark play.  Our destiny, to demonstrate the awesome power Al Qaeda can deliver, without mercy.  The good guys are so fearful of the evil that confronts them, they refuse to name it.  They speak in codes, “he who must not be named,” one of unspeakable evil.

To point out that one may only fight that which one is able to name should be obvious. Until one names the name one cannot effectively face the threat – this is an axiom, so fundamental to survival, that to ignore it is to capitulate to terrorism.

Muslims do kill.  Islam has exploded planes in mid air; committed acts of genocide in Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.  Followers of the Islamic faith have stage-managed unspeakable atrocities across the globe; and yes, Muslims have blown up buses and trains in Spain, Israel, and now Britain. It may be a mutant strain of Islam; it may even be a cancer within the body of Islam.  But it continues to preach its message of hate, and like Lord Voldemort, it sees its victims as inconsequential nobodies; to be sacrificed on the altar of Islamic destiny.

Muslims are the most prolific publishers of hate literature the world has seen. And what they sow we all shall reap. Their evil legacy, if it is not recognised, will eventually push mankind over the abyss and into hell.

The suicide bombers are gentrified murderers given a sanitized, politically correct title.  They are not sad, misunderstood misanthropes, turned mad by a bad society. Their ends can never be justified by their means in spite of what the Tonge's, Blackwell’s, the Galloway’s and the Livingston’s may say to explain away their evil deeds.  My Rabbi was wrong.  They were not just thugs.  They were, and they are, Islamically indoctrinated, nihilistic and religiously bigoted fascists. “Thugs” doesn’t cover the problem.

I do not write to demonize Islam.  I do demonize those who would argue that Islam has a specific case.  For by inference, the ends justify the means and that, in itself, removes morality from the discussion.  We, all of us, around the world, have the right to self-determination, we all of us have the right to defend our homes, our families, and our own values.  Once we start down the road to deligitimizing the humanity of those with whom we do not agree we expose ourselves to the very abuses we justify against others.  The London bombings are the bloody legacy of this multicultural, liberal view and the Livingston’s and the Tonge’s are the political godparents of this mutant monster.

Jews in Britain have fences, security cameras and guards to exclude precisely those people we should be welcoming to our community.  Double standards are what govern our relationship with the rest of society.  Those same journalists, university lecturers, politicians and yes, church synods; so quick to condemn Israel, have never said a word to discourage the siege mentality that has engulfed British Jewry.  All this “Us and Them” is meant to divide communities, not bring them together.

Walls and fences are the external manifestation of fear and insecurity.  It weakens us. A theory for our time has it that where Jews feel comfortable, society thrives; where Jews feel fear, there is decline.   Where Jews have fled, mediocrity and intellectual degeneration has been the result.  Fed by fear, exclusion and emigration, Jewish numbers are already in terminal decline in the UK.  The tradition of ethnic scapegoating is once more a barely restrained aspect of universal British culture whether it is practised towards Jews, Zionists or Israel.  The democratic right to free speech has rarely been exercised responsibly.  The demagoguery of the Ken Livingston’s and the Jenny Tonge’s (now Baroness Tonge) of this chaotic, blood soaked sphere is the antithesis of free speech. They represent the mob baying for blood, and Jewry, throughout the history of both Islam, and Christianity, has been its unifying target.

It starts with inflammatory speech that bares no ill will towards those of us who demonstrate politically correct (appropriately ambivalent Uncle Tom) tendencies and ends with tarnishing all of us with the same disdain dripping brush.  A regrettable but inevitable result is that the momentum of historical determinism that the stereotypical bleeding heart liberal precipitates is the end of the Jewish community.   Poland and much of the rest of Europe has begun, 60 years after the liberation of the camps, to nostalgically celebrate its Jewish past, a past that it actively collaborated with bringing to a tortured end. So why would Britain with Europe’s’ most vibrant Jewish populations be any different? Or even perhaps the USA?

Gloom and doom are the warning.  This Britain is so poisoned by propaganda; the damage cannot be so easily undone.  In the 21st century a call to altruism cannot persuade the bigots to turn away from prejudice and superstition.  Not when they take comfort in its familiar smells, and bathe in its comfortingly recognizable language.  It is time for the Jewish Community to express itself in terms of radical new ideas that everyone can understand, new arguments must be articulated.  We should be taking a stand on every slight, perceived or apparent. Our discomfort must also be our enemies.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Intolerance and Suicide bombers

We may question why Britain is yet again in the news for the attempted carnage by a British-based Islamic suicide bomber (on the 11th of December 2010 in Sweden) but few question why murder seems so readily to be practiced by people of Islamic faith.

Bin Laden’s Feb. 1998 Fatwa opens with the Koranic reference, Sura (Chapter) 9:5 “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)”

Bin Laden’s fatwa explicitly calls on all Muslims to “kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military”.  It also includes Koranic Justification from Sura 8:39: “And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah”.

It may be claimed that Bin Laden and other Islamic racists take out of context, translate illiberally or misinterpret quotes from the Koran but only a fool would deny their inflammatory nature. Their intention is clearly, to unite Mohammeds’ nation and to force their domination over a fractured world.  We may call it imperialism or even something less provocative; however those who call for the West’s Muslim’s to follow its precepts are inciting sedition, for the subversion of Western civilization.  Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad celebrates this by his belief in a messiah whose coming is contingent upon disorder, chaos and global catastrophe as the coming of the 12th Imam allegedly demands.  Fundamentalist Islam cannot say with any credibility that its ideology, based as it is on turmoil, destruction and death does not utilize betrayal within its arsenal in order to undermine Western Civilisation. 

The faiths of Mohamed, Marx and Hitler are in essence, similar one to the other.  They demand unconditional obedience, or submission, to an absolutist ideology. The conviction that there can only be one way to heaven leads to the natural conclusion that the rejection of such a view is a rejection of the totality of the supremacist ideology.  Under such conditions ethnic cleansing and genocide are inevitable consequences.

It is curious then that while other faiths will teach disloyalty and deny integration, Jews are the only religious group whose loyalty is consistently questioned through allegations of dual loyalty.  In fact disloyalty arises from faith systems that are hegemonic in world view, which Judaism is not.  Judaism does not teach that there is only “one-way”.  The Seven Noahide commandments are witness to the pluralistic nature of the faith.  This celebration of multi-culturalism has made Jews a persecuted people because it theoretically precludes the fundamentalism that is intrinsic to the intolerance of the missionary faith.

And to understand that the Left is also complicit in this Occidental war against the West (and I include Judaism in this term “the West”) is the only way that we will defeat this assault on Democracy, this offensive against Western civilization, this onslaught against Peace on Earth, and this conspiracy against human rights.

[Sura 5.51] O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends (allies); they are friends (allies) of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend (ally), then surely he is one of them; indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My ethos

Self interest is the only long term strategy that consistently ensures peaceful co-existence and only then when it is balanced by the certain knowledge that survival is dependent upon mutual respect. The Ahmadinejads and Osama Bin-Laden’s of this world are esteemed by fundamentalists for their purity of Islamic vision when the reality is that they are the worst kind of prostitute selling their diseased triumphal theology to a selected rabble, their racialist drool oozing from every orifice corrupting everything they touch. There are no fragile flowers of democratic potential, no bilateralism around which one may negotiate for a place in the sun.  There is only the harsh and fertile ground of might, balanced by fear. 

Democracies are weak and prone to extremes of both action and passivity. Kissinger believed this based on his experiences as a young man growing up with Weimar and Nazism. But descent into the darkness of the extremes of left and right has occurred because the intellectually neutered centre is incapable of addressing the extremes without taking decisions that they view as being in themselves extreme.

Multiculturalism is the pursuit of power by the weak at the expense of the emasculated majority. This disempowerment is at the essence of the asymmetrical intellectual conflict that provides the periphery with the means to overwhelm the centre. Bilateralism on a multifaceted global landscape is more complicated but also less likely to be governed by corrupt self interest and more likely to be nuanced.

Multilateralism has given us paralysis; it’s multicultural godchild, a paragon of inequality and discriminatory self-justification for prejudice by minorities unwilling to integrate into their host society. Their ethically dysfunctional agenda nourishes escalating intolerance and violent confrontation fed by re-written history and a revanchist re-interpretation of morality that suits one dialogue over any other.

Bilateralism does not mean that we act alone but it does preclude global organisations that feed off political prejudice and bigotry. Each nation comes with its own historical baggage. Far too many are but creations of Western territorial surrogacy and founded on a bedrock of prejudice, superstition and bigotry.  With this toxic brew coursing through the veins of the majority of its nations’ political leadership and reflecting the pet hates of its peoples the UN caters to humanities lowest common denominator.  Like its predecessor, the League of Nations, it is incapable of humanity and humankind’s most unethical creation.  Its obeisance before tyranny is built on the twin pillars of dissimulation and sophistry.  The UN acts repeatedly to traduce nations on specious pretexts respected only in their violation by those proposing them as universal truths. The tools of global diplomacy have manufactured a monster that respects none of the universal freedoms we cherish or that we take to be near absolutes for global peace and prosperity.

It is time to deconstruct the complex artificially created and almost wholly irresponsible organ of global corruption that is the UN, other organizations can then follow suite into timely oblivion.

In a world of alliances self-preservation determines the side we choose to take.  But we are suffering a form of global paralysis; an unwillingness to invest in technologies that would end economic blackmail and alleviate powerlessness in the face of increased ideological terrorism is weakening our resolve. Mendacity has created a global imbalance which is, in turn continually recreating an inherently unstable diffusion of world wide volatility and insecurity.

The predominance of American power, the creation of the State of Israel, these did not create Osama Bin Laden.  A terrorist needs a story to attract both resources and recruits but this story is often already there or can be recreated from the reworking of past myths without either the reality bearing any resemblance to the truth or without ever disturbing the comfortable prejudices that have molded the society.  History and Culture are strong enablers. Modernization, Westernization, Judeo-Christian civilization, American Culture, Zionism, Democracy; these are all excuses within which Islamist revanchism can be incubated without ever addressing the fundamental inequalities or failures of the host societies.  It is why the Muslim world is awash with fabulous pools of wealth while retaining a huge underclass of second and third class citizens empowered to do nothing, to think nothing but accorded the triumphalist right to hate all of us as part of their historical patrimony.

The argument is given that a greater tolerance towards fascism would defuse the labeling that juxtaposes Islamism against everyone else.  A new take on the old saying that we are all “better red than dead” has taken hold. The assumption is made that al-Qaeda’s supporters would fail in their narrative appeal if we were more tolerant of their competing hegemonic pretensions.   It is a neat theory that fails dismally when confronted by Islam’s parallel story which runs along directly the opposite path to that provided by Western Civilization. The balance of terror can only become a balance of power when one side agrees to a subordinate role.  This is something that Islamic fundamentalism is incapable on a theological level of accepting.

And so in returning to bilateralism, nations like people are incapable of assimilating effectively more than one thing at a time. Any more than one interaction and we experience rivalry, not competition and corruption, not altruism. The matrices of international bilateral relationships can be a force for inhibiting global tension by disempowering radical hegemonic blocks nipping at and sometimes biting chunks out of the heel of global stability.