Saturday, September 16, 2006

What's Our Excuse?

I have long watched the moral posturing of the boomer generation that with the advantage of hindsight claim they wouldn’t have been fooled by Hitler in the 1930s. David Pryce-Jones has some thoughts on the matter.

In WWI, France lost 50% of its men between the age of 20 and 32 years of age. While we may be tough critics of the French, it is good to remember that for four years most of the fighting on the western front took place in France. These mitigating circumstances should be taken into account when discussing their appeasement of Nazi Germany. What excuses do we have today?


Blogger Always On Watch said...

I remember this from college:

the moral posturing of the boomer generation that with the advantage of hindsight claim they wouldn’t have been fooled by Hitler in the 1930s.

It's the 1930s all over again.

9/16/06, 8:53 PM  
Blogger LA Sunset said...

AOW and Jason,

I think they expect the evil to come in the same form. Certainly it would be easy to recognize a new Hitler, if he were European and began doing things the same way as Hitler did. But this evil has mutated to the degree that it is not recognized, by those that are so smug.

To date, HIV cannot be eradicated by immunization because the protein coat of the virus changes so rapidly that the immunization anti-bodies cannot recognize it after it has changed.

This is the same principle concerning the evil, we speak of today.

9/17/06, 9:05 AM  
Blogger OreamnosAmericanus said...

The only kind of evil that my Boomer comrades would respond to would be racism from a white group. This is the only thing they can rally against. If the Jihad were coming from Dutch Reformed Afrikaaners, they'd be lining up to enlist and it would be the Spanish Civil War all over again. But put loathesome totalitarianism in the mouths and hands and weapons of non-white people and the Boomers are instantly frozen, blind and complicit. We have taken one of decent things we partipated in, the Civil Rights movement in the US, and turned it into a self-destructive fetish. What fools we mortals be.

9/17/06, 1:16 PM  
Blogger Freedomnow said...

That is true, but the sympathy that they willingly expressed for the Nazis under Marshal Petain's Vichy regime was a disgrace.

In light of this I have to question the motives of French appeasement in the pre-war years.

9/17/06, 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the level of blogversation you sponsor here, Jason, so I hope you receive the following long comment as "friendly":

There are some factors from that era to which most of us who've come later, especially Americans, have been (mercifully) spared, but which we need to know more of in order to grasp the currents that people swum in.

Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas is the touchstone for most highbrow feminist-antiwar activism that has come later.

Whittaker Chambers's Witness explores the motives that drove millions of Westerners to support and/or militate for Communism (post-WWI despair; idealism).

Jean Amery's At the Mind's Limits is a slim volume of painful essays by a secular, half-Jewish, anti-fascist Auschwitz survivor. Like Fallaci he was in "the Resistance", but unlike her he was captured, tortured, and deported....

On the other hand, one character in the movie The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is a middle-class Italian Jew who has joined the Fascist Party to be on the winning side.

Malcolm Lowry's masterpiece novel Under the Volcano is a modernist tour de force of the spiritual despair and collapse of a British ex-pat in Mexico.

9/17/06, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just alerting you to THIS.

9/17/06, 10:37 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Always On Watch called our attention to an article stating "Last week the Islamic Street rose in predictable outrage after Pope Benedict XVI mentioned a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s remarks about the brutal and immoral nature of Islamic jihad."

Specifically, the emperor said “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Benedict also used the word “jihad,” or holy war, saying that violence was contrary to God’s nature and to reason.

(As an aside, in 1942 Khomeini wrote: "[T]hose who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. … Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors!")

What are we to make of this issue? We can of course begin by noting that the Muslim response of violence demonstrates the veracity of the emperor's quote. We might also note the gingerly approach of Pope Benedict, who would have quoted Saint Augustine on Islam, which would not have permitted him deniability.

Perhaps Objectivists might criticize Catholics for not taking a stronger stand, and for themselves spreading their faith by force. On the other hand, they might view Catholoics as allies, since they have been and remain victims of Islam.

What do you think?

9/18/06, 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps ignorance is our excuse. Nobody today is willing to look at this map.

9/18/06, 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Komeini (in 1942) seems to simply be acknowledging what Nietzsche said in his "Genealogy of Morals"...

We Germans certainly do not think of ourselves as a particularly cruel and hard-hearted people, even less as particularly careless people who live only in the present. But have a look at our old penal code in order to understand how much trouble it took on this earth to breed a "People of Thinkers" (by that I mean the peoples of Europe, among whom today we still find a maximum of trust, seriousness, tastelessness, and practicality, and who with these characteristics have a right to breed all sorts of European mandarins). These Germans have used terrible means to make themselves a memory in order to attain mastery over their vulgar and brutally crude basic instincts. Think of the old German punishments, for example, stoning (even the legend lets the mill stone fall on the head of the guilty person), breaking on the wheel (the unique invention and specialty of the German genius in the area of punishment!), impaling on a stake, ripping people apart or stamping them to death with horses ("quartering"), boiling the criminal in oil or wine (still done in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), the well-loved practice of flaying ("cutting flesh off in strips"), carving flesh out of the chest, along with, of course, covering the offender with honey and leaving him to the flies in the burning sun.

With the help of such images and procedures people finally retained five or six "I will not's" in their memory, and so far as these precepts were concerned they gave their word in order to live with the advantages of society—and that was that! With the assistance of this sort of memory people finally came to "reason"! Ah, reason, seriousness, mastery over emotions, the whole gloomy business called reflection, all these privileges and ceremonies of human beings—how expensive they were! How much blood and horror is the basis for all "good things."

His is a defense of "aristocratic" as opposed to "popular" values. An ackowledgement of the philosophical principle of a generation from opposites. Khomeini's perversian of Islam represents a reversion to Persian manichaeism or a deity that combines good & evil as opposed to a singular good or evol deity.

The Pope was saying that G_d is Good and Pure Reason (Word) (and that Mohammed was the Perverter)... the condemners of the pope's statement are saying that G_d has a dual nature that combines Good & evil... the Sword & Word.... Thought (Logos) & action (sword).

So this is a debate over what we know as the Manichaen heresy.

9/18/06, 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me, fj, when and where did Khomeini study Nietzsche? You may identify an interesting coincidence, but that doesn't put the Ayatollah in the same camp as the philosopher. And no one who cares about the West should let the two be confused.

The West is being forced - and this is a good thing about the response to jihad - to revive its best cultural traditions, to rediscover "what it's made of" in order to hone its will to repel Islam. I'm all for a Nietzschean aristocratic revival! I'm all for Greek democrats and Roman patricians! I'm all for Catholicism and libertinism! I'm all for all strands of Western culture -- as long as their adherents commit to doing their part to preserve Western Civ.

I clicked on that map, it must be outdated: it doesn't show Muslim populations in Central and Western Europe.

9/18/06, 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the map... they should animate it in order to demonstrate the growth and spread of Islam. It would appear to be quite outdated with respect to Islam's presence in Europe.

As for Nietzsche and Khomeini, I'm not implying that Khomeini got his ideas from Nietzsche, for Manichaeanism is Persian/Iranian in origin... I'm simply pointing out that certain philosophical ideas share "cause" and "effect" and therefore means as well. If anything, Nietzsche was educated by Zoroaster and the Persians and took his lessons from them.

And whereas Christianity separates the dualism, Nietzscheans and Manichaeans (Zoroaster/Zarathustra) can be understood to combine them... and so perhaps the Islamic sense of heaven includes body and soul (combined) instead of separate heavens and hells for bodiless souls (amongst other extrapolated differences).

But you are right to understand that one should not confuse the two (Islam & Neitzschean philosophy), for Nietzsche posited a path for overcoming the limitations of Christianity and Islam...

Twilight of the Idols

The psychology of the orgiastic as an overflowing feeling of life and strength, where even pain still has the effect of a stimulus, gave me the key to the concept of tragic feeling, which had been misunderstood both by Aristotle and, quite especially, by our pessimists. Tragedy is so far from proving anything about the pessimism of the Hellenes, in Schopenhauer's sense, that it may, on the contrary, be considered its decisive repudiation and counter-verdict [Gegen-Instanz]. Saying Yes to life even in its strangest and hardest problems, the will to life rejoicing over its own inexhaustibility even in the very sacrifice of its highest types—that is what I called Dionysian, that is what I guessed to be the bridge to the psychology of the tragic poet. Not in order to get rid of terror and pity, not in order to purge oneself of a dangerous affect by its vehement discharge—Aristotle understood it that way—: but in order to be oneself the eternal joy of becoming, beyond all terror and pity—that joy which also includes joy in destroying ... And herewith I again touch that point from which I once went forth—the "Birth of Tragedy" was my first revaluation of all values: herewith I again stand on the soil out of which my intention, my ability grows—I, the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysus—I, the teacher of the eternal recurrence ...

The Hammer Speaks

Thus Spoke Zarathustra, III: On Old and New Tablets, 29.

"Why so hard?" the kitchen coal once said to the diamond. "After all, are we not close kin?"

Why so soft? O my brothers, thus I ask you: are you not after all my brothers?

Why so soft, so pliant and yielding? Why is there so much denial, self-denial, in your hearts? So little destiny in your eyes?

And if you do not want to be destinies and inexorable ones, how can you one day triumph with me?

And if your hardness does not wish to flash and cut through, how can you one day create with me?

For all creators are hard. And it must seem blessedness to you to impress your hand on millennia as on wax.

Blessedness to write on the will of millennia as on bronze—harder than bronze, nobler than bronze. Only the noblest is altogether hard.

This new tablet, O my brothers, I place over you: Become hard! — —

9/18/06, 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fj, you've given us a lot to reflect on! (I haven't read Nietzsche closely in years, and nothing by Khomeini.) Because he's a hero to postmodernists and some anti-Western Western writers (e.g., Jean Genet), it'll be valuable and interesting to line up Nietzsche on the counter-jihad team.

9/18/06, 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Nietzsche claims himself to be disciple of Dionysius I, he is recognizing a flaw in most organized religions that provide no outlet for pent-up human instincts. He then acknowledges the truth of the predictions about civilizations made by Euripides in The Bachae. Our democracy of a seperated church and state provides an outlet for Eros which remains a flaw (deficiency) within the combined Islamic state (caliphate), but their caliphate provides an outlet for Thanatos (death-jihad) which is not alleviated within Christian civilization.

A compromise Nietzschean "Dionysian" state would provide outlets for Eros AND Thanatos. Of course, inedulgence of either instinct would require a purification ritual of sorts... hence the old Levitican and islamic cleansing rituals would have a psychological basis and benefit... much as Platonic Magnesia provided for purifications after accidental homicides...

9/18/06, 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the spread of Manichaeism immediately preceeded Islam's spread and epicenter lies very near the current Shi'a state strongholds.

9/18/06, 2:39 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

Great post JP. Although I don't share your empathy with the Frogs because they are a putrid and contemptable nation.

People are claiming that we are seeing 1930's European appeasement all over again. I don't think it ever stopped. As soon as the smoke cleared after WWII countries and world leftists were lining up to kiss the ass of the Soviet bear. The pathetic French did the Soviets countless favors in the UN.

It's really only different in a few ways. Instead of communists the appeasers are felating Islamofacists. The threat posed by these barbarians is different in "flavor" but still evil in it's methods.


9/19/06, 5:51 PM  

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