Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Sloth of a Conservative

William Buckley recalls that the conservative movement, responding to the Soviet threat, was driven, focused, and resolute. And indeed it was. A sample of the thinking at the time:
George H. Nash, in his definitive history of American conservatism, captures the conservative anti-communist resolve. “In this struggle, there were, according to [Frank S.] Meyer and other conservative cold warriors only two choices: ‘the destruction of Communism or the destruction of the United States and of Western civilization.’” 9 “Liberals might prefer to hope – serenely, pathetically, endlessly, futilely – that maybe now, maybe this time, maybe soon, the Communists would change their spots, cease to be committed revolutionaries, and settle down. Perhaps we could then have peaceful coexistence at last. Meanwhile let us negotiate, “build bridges,’ engage in cultural exchanges, climb to the summit. Come let us reason together.” “The Communist system is a conflict system; its ideology is an ideology of conflict and war …” says Robert Strausz-Hupe 10 Frank S. Meyer argued, the Communist “’is different. He thinks differently.’ He is not ‘a mirror image of ourselves’ Communism is a ‘secular and messianic quasi-religion’ which ceaselessly conditions its converts until they become new men totally dedicated to one mission: ‘the conquest of the world for Communism.’” Gerhart Niemeyer writes, “It was totally unrealistic to expect that Americans could ’communicate’ with a Communist mind that ‘shares neither truth nor logic nor morality with the rest of mankind.’” 11
That was the way conservatives spoke: clear, uncompromising, hard-hitting, passionate, and without apologies. Today, we rarely hear conservatives talk in this manner, now that communism is defeated. Mr. Buckley opines “… for that reason I think conservatism has become a little bit slothful. It could be very decisive when the alternative was the apocalyptic reordering presented by the Soviet Union. . . . But in the absence of those challenges, there were attenuations.”

But, Mr. Buckley, what about the Islamic threat? We’ve had an attack on America as deadly as Pearl Harbor! The enemy is motivated by an ideology as pernicious as communism, hateful as Nazism, and dedicated as a Kamikaze. The Islamist Holy Grail is the nuclear destruction of an American city. Once again, what about the Islamic threat?

"Well," he says, "it lacks the formal face. It's detached from national dimensions. As such, it legitimately inquires into two things. No. 1: To what extent does this society elect to fight it? Because if it doesn't care that much about it then to hell with it. No. 2: Is this society pliant enough to come up with a formula to defend itself that nevertheless acknowledges the ancient restrictions on ideas? If I'm correct, there hasn't been an act of terrorism in the U.S. for four years, and that bespeaks not the absence of will by terrorists to damage but a lack of resources.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Buckley is not alone among conservatives. Too many conservatives are in denial. Yes, some conservatives (and a few non-conservatives) understand the Islamic threat. But most need to wake-up and face the danger in the world today: Islam. For an introduction to the problem, here are some references. Antiquated conservatives, like Mr. Buckley, are blind to a threat that dresses itself in religious garb, fails to wage conventional wars, and is, well, conservative in the sense that it looks back to the original practice of what appears (to some) to be just another monotheistic religion. Apparently, Mr. Buckley was a one-shot conservative unable to retool for the coming war. We will have to move forward without him.

Update: Glad to see I’m not alone on this!
Update 2: Here's another.


Blogger Benjamin said...

The immediate danger from Islam is in the form of an Islamic nuke or other WMD in one of our cities. But the long term danger is, if anything, more pernicious. The gradual demographic and cultural swamping of Europe by the Muslim flood. Possibly America too. I think a non-nonsense attitude towards immigration is essential for survival.

The comparison between Islam and Communism is quite apt and even fascinating. Both totalitarian and pseudo-utopian. They appeal to people with grievances and little aptitude to think (the uneducated, if I may be so elitist, though I'll add that education doesn't require an expensive school and may even be impeded by the latter). (BTW, I grew up in a liberal environment and did not take Communism too seriously when I was young. I had to educate myself on this topic, my schools having failed me.)

The reason that even conservatives are uncomfortable talking about Islam is that it has acquired the status of a "religion", seemingly like any other.

11/20/05, 11:59 AM  
Blogger K2ENF said...

Actually, Benjamin, I would draw a closer comparison to historical totalitarianism of ANY kind, and Islam as preached by the scum now attacking everyone.

As I said in my own long-form last week:

Consider Germany following WW1. In many ways, Germany was a cultural shambles following that war. I have described in these spaces, many times, what happens to a country whose culture is essentially destroyed. I have warned that the same problems can happen here, or anywhere in the western world, for that matter… anywhere where socialism, and some forms of libertarianism, are in sway. In the case of Germany however, that cultural destruction is precisely what gave rise to Hitler, and the Nazis. Disaffected Germans felt they needed something to rally behind. People in such a situation will tender rally behind just about anybody.

It strikes me that in many ways the situation in the France of today is quite similar. Yet, that situation is taking on a somewhat different dynamic. Those disaffected are those who were second class citizens within the socialist empire France has become. All this kindling needed was a match to set it aflame, someone who was willing to manipulate the cultural divide to his own advantage. In the case of Germany, that match was Adolf Hitler. In the case of Muslims in France, is that match Usama BinLaden? The similarity of the rise to power, the methods, and the madness, are striking.

11/20/05, 12:06 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I have described in these spaces, many times, what happens to a country whose culture is essentially destroyed.

Bithead, I like your emphasis on "culture" - a big theme of Jason and the reason I come back to this blog. Even the conservative intellectuals often fail to address this important issue, perhaps out of fear of seeming elitist. The word "culture" has unfortunately become associated with wine and cheese and chamber music (not that there's anything wrong with these pleasures). I consider culture to be a measure of spiritual and intellectual health, which is as important for society as the brain is for the body. It is somewhat like religion but larger and more encompassing. Rationalists and agnostics can (and should) climb aboard and care! This is a vast topic, but at the most basic level it means a sincere devotion to freedom of thought and life, combined with curiosity and an appreciation for the best of the human spirit. The basic attitude must be positive and constructive, unlike the nihilistic "culture" of the postmodernists.

11/20/05, 2:20 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...


Islam is at its apex now. Syria and Iran could be overthrown. There will be a battlew for power within the Saudi Royal mafia.

A resurgent India and Russia will be less tolerant. Even the Eurowhimps are getting fed up.

11/20/05, 7:59 PM  
Blogger Σ. Alexander said...

The nature of Islamic threat? Unlike communism and fascism, their power rests on non-state actors. In case of state-to-state conflicts, governments can negotiate, whether at war or not.

While none of Islamic states can attack US homeland, non-state actors have no territorial constraints.

These points make it more difficult to deal with Islamic threats than communist and fascist challenges.

11/21/05, 3:59 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I consider myself a fairly right-wingish conservative, but I've never really cared for WFB.

Maybe it's because I'm the grandson of a former John Birch Society member, but I have to point out that Republicans lost elections during that 45-year war between real conservatives and Buckleyites.

Happy Birthday WFB, but, get over yourself. In about a month, the National Review will return to its usual more substance / less Buckley ratio.

Just in time for Christmas.

11/21/05, 9:06 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...


The Cold War was Capitalism vs Communism. Capitalism won making the world free for people to buy stuff. Capitalist nations went to war because they were attacked by Communist nations and had no offsetting trade benefits because the Communist nations excluded them.

Islam for all it's flaws is Capitalist, muslims buy stuff, the only costs involved are a few isolated terrorist attacks. Compared to the $billions benefits of trade with the Islamic world the cost is miniscule. Hence no need to confront Islam.

11/21/05, 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Auster discovers Pappas! Your most recent entry too! Terrific!
Happy Thanksgiving Jason!


11/24/05, 12:30 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Benjamin makes a good point: it’s not just the tactics of the jihadists; it’s their goal: one world under Islamic rule. Immigration control is essential given the unwillingness to assimilate in a large part of the Muslim community.

Eric (aka Bithead) explains the dangers of a failed culture. Benjamin reminds us of the crucial point: “I consider culture to be a measure of spiritual and intellectual health, which is as important for society as the brain is for the body.” I emphatically agree with the usage of the “health” concept. A society may look like it is functioning but the ability to weather a threat or crisis may expose an underlying decay (or strength as the case may be.)

Beak is right. Our military actions have, so far, weaken the authority and stature of our enemies. Shah is correct, too, that the enemy is distributed among the populations. Failure to understand what Islam is and how it is embraces among Muslims leads to cosmetic responses that leave the underlying problem intact. However, let’s remember that according to Islamic mythology and history, Mohammad was a conqueror. In the century after his death, Islam conquered most of the know world. This was seen as a sign from Allah – as was the success of 9/11. Muslims hate losers. Thus, defeating Muslims in battle raises questions about their legitimacy.

Unaha, Muslims produce next to nothing. They happen to be grazing over a deposit of oil but they didn’t “mix their labor” (as John Locke would put it) to make it their property. What they did do was to steal – nationalize – Western businesses in the region. Muslims don’t do us a favor by selling oil (that they stole); they do it to eat! We don’t have to do anything for Muslims to get that oil. They will sell it into the market and it will make its way to the buyers.

Caroline, thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes.

11/27/05, 11:10 AM  

<< Home