Sunday, June 28, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The molten calf"

We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.
- Hassan Nassrallah

The call of the dark, the desire of means without ends, is not new. It is in fact a very ancient temptation.

There must be some reason why human beings are susceptible to this appeal. There must be some survival advantage that is gained under some circumstances in having members of the tribe enter a herding mode in which critical faculties are suspended and submission to process and authority becomes of overriding concern. The refinement of modern totalitarians is that they tie this stultifying cult of death to enabling and mobilizing rationalizations that are themselves rooted in the opposite instincts. The totalitarians are able to manipulate the crowd including the intellectuals by casting their appeals not as peans to power and stasis but instead as the opposite, as an expression of a desire to perfect and protect and rationalize.

The emotional device needed could draw on great energies to support those who claimed infinite power. It served the Pharaohs and Japanese Emperors (in China they were not gods but the Mandate of Heaven served a similar purpose), where the god was present but subject to success or failure, and was distilled in Islam. When the totalitarian is moved off stage, beyond the reach of normative evaluation, and the doctrine of Free Will is traduced then there is no control over the evil to which people can be lead. Once the regime of totalitarian control is established the individual is extinguished.

In the modern age technical tools have been added to improve the ability of the totalitarians to both coopt the messages of progress and human worth to build their machine for delivering the opposite and have vastly increased the destructive reach of the totalitarians once they are established. Harnessing intellectuals and labor both schooled for a thousand years in concepts of reason and morality and dignity in building the edifice of power was the task of establishing Sovietism. The second task was in giving the totalitarian structure the tools to absorb all competition. The Soviets failed because the system once established failed to deliver the tools that a system that respects individuality and creativity can deliver. Lenin said that communism was "the Soviet power plus electrification." Totalitarians can't deliver the electricity, as America is about to discover if the Senate gives in to all of the fantasies of the energy bill and other socialist schemes.

When considering the rise and failure of totalitarian movements the question arises of the apparent success of Islam. That is the streetlights and plumbing in Andalusia argument. There are three possible mitigating factors to counter this argument for Islamic benevolence.
1) The portrayal of given locations as tolerant over time is overstated by
     Islamic apologists. Jews were dhimmis.
2) The more primitive and intolerant conditions in Christian Europe
     subsidized Islamic lands by making them a relatively safer place for
     Jews or dissident Christians to live.
3) Given the far slower level of technical innovation 700 to 1400 years ago
     Islamic lands could benefit for an extended period off of the
     intellectual capital of the people they subjugated.

The benefits of this form of parasitism no longer accrue to them in today's rapidly evolving world. This partly explains the appeal of calls to simplify or primitivize among many in the Left. Once the alternative is again rolled back to wind power the soviet power plus electrification (coal powered no doubt) will again look viable.

(who speculated that some on the Left may want to make a martyr out of Obama)
It gets worse. Apparently not only had no human being in or out of Congress read the 1200 page Cap and Trade bill before it was voted on, the delightful Mary Katherine Ham tried, but it now appears that it wasn't actually completely written when it was voted on. They literally voted on a series of place holders with blanks to be filled in later. This is worse then offloading legislative authority to a regulatory agency and it is seriously being argued that this is OK. If the bill gets through the Senate and it is signed, a given if it passes, then the only firewall remaining is the Judiciary. Why don't I have a good feeling about that? We are now in the land of just make it up as they go along and arbitrary power.

The House votes and a Clerk delivers a document to the Senate. What proof is there that what is delivered is what was voted on? None since no one had read it.

However I find your speculations about violence reprehensible, they drag down the conversation.

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