Wednesday, July 31, 2002
The Attack on Hebrew University
There is not much more to say here besides that its a war, and the sooner that the Israelis take theri gloves off the more lives will be spared on both sides. We also have to play a role and hit Iraq. I can go on for paragraphs, but this is not the right site for it. Go to LGF. Most of my thoughts are posted there anyway.
Check out the original thread on the attack.
Take a look at the photos of the injured.
And take a look at the Palestinians celebrating. These people, the whole people are sick. They are liek the Nazis, not only in their hate of Jews, but also in love of murder. This is a society that has morphed into a death cult. And it must be stopped soon.
Monday, July 29, 2002
CounterRevolutionary Writer of the Year
The first annual CouterRevolutionary Writer of the Year is Victor Davis Hanson. I bet you didn't know there was a contest going on. Well, there wasn't, but I'm running out of amusing ways to introduce his articles. Besides which, if there was a contest he would win hands down!
Congrats Mr. Hanson!
Andrew Sullivan links to my NY Times rant.
The CounterRevolutionary Inquiry – Prologue.
The ideological debate between the Left and the Right continues unabated. However, the Right has ceded to the socialists a crucial piece of ideological territory. We have ceased to question the motives of the socialists. As Charles Krauthhamer puts it, the Left is considered just stupid. There is no reason that the motives of the Left cannot be analyzed with the same ferocity as the motives of the Right or for that matter with the same psychoanalytic rigor as we analyze ourselves. Let’s stop looking at the altruism of the socialists as an aberration of human history, and hold them to the same standards of human conduct we hold everyone else to. To wit, let’s ask what are the socio-psychological forces behind socialism?
Human endeavors can be divided into two basic parts. In the words of Machiavelli, we have the ends and the means. I will refer to the ends as the “Destination” and the means as the “Route”. For ages, we have debated whether the ends justifies the means. What we need to start debating is whether the Routes ever lead to the Destinations used to justify them. In other words, if the route can never achieve the destination proffered as the moral justification, then the destination is irrelevant and the route must stand on its own moral ground.
To return to the first paragraph, the argument most frequently used against socialists is that their Destinations are not realistic or fair or constructive. This is a trap – the Destinations advocated have very little to do with the Routes chosen. You can never win a debate against an imaginary Destination (“a heaven on earth”). How can you argue that helping the poor is bad? What you need to debate is whether anything that the left does actually helps the poor or their Route has an alternative, more self serving Destination.
One note on human nature, before we continue. In this day and age of mature psychoanalysis, people should be comfortable with the concept of Rationalization. In this case, it’s the ability of the socialist’s mind to believe that he is truly acting toward a Destination that in no way can be achieved by taking the Route he advocates. In other words, just because he says he wants “world peace”, doesn’t automatically mean that his Route will ever lead there. To reach our conclusion, we do not require that the socialist maliciously seeks to undermine the welfare of the poor or to destroy society; it is enough, for our moral indictment, that the socialist advocates Routes that lead to such Destinations. We should not be trapped in arguing about intentions, our inquiry must depend on the results that such intentions actually lead to.
In the next few days, complete inquiry into socialism will be posted following the basic structure above. First, we will question the whether the Routes chosen by socialists really can ever arrive at the Destinations they proclaim to seek (including whether these Destinations are even possible). Second, by studying the Routes chosen by the Left, we will form a hypothesis about the Destinations where socialism leads us. Finally, we will propose a theory about the socio-psychological origin of socialism.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
A New Low fo The Times
Check out the cover of the NYT Book Review.
Since it's difficult to read the fine print on the page, allow me to transcribe:
Martin Amis's War On Stalin.
Nobody likes Stalin, but Martin Amis seems to have a thing about him. In his new book, 'Koba the Dread,' he attacks the monster as if he were current. Then he offers some tender reflections about Kingley Amis, his father, who was once a Communist. What's up here?
This attitude, to me, summarizes the intellectual dishonesty of the Left. Stalin, murderer of tens of millions, has nothing to teach us. His treachery, while great, does not reflect in any way on today's people or events. He is passe. Ladies and Gentlemen ignore the horrible troll hiding in the Left's closet.
Is this how the Times treats, say, McCarthy? No, McCarthy, who never killed anyone, is relevant and infinitely useful to remind the People of the sins of the Right. Now, compare Comrade Stalin and Mr. McCarthy. Who should we fear the most? Under whose rule would you choose to live? Yes, the McCarthy era was bad, but at least no-one knocked on your door at night and took you away never to be seen again.
Even Hitler, which I assume the Times would say is relevant today, is only a notch worse than Stalin. Stalin getting bonus points for not discriminating against certain minorities (even to get that point, however, you'd have to look at his entire career -- at any given time Stalin was happy to discriminate against specific ethnic groups). How can it be possible that the second worst murderer of the past century is "not current"? Is it that the Times still believes that it was all for a good cause?
Which, of course, makes the author’s point that the Left is unwilling to face up to its own crimes. Until then, it is difficult to have a sober discussion when you have to ignore the big, bloody, menacing elephant in the room.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Off to a Wedding
Be back on Sunday night...
Friday, July 26, 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have learned a good political lesson today. I opportunistically used the Chomsky reference to lay out my social theory. I thought of him as an entree (the French use, not American) into a solid theory of how members of the upper middle class become politically active and use the poor as a pretense to advance their own goals. Instead, most people focused on the "useful idiot" in the beginning. While the exact measurements of his house are irrelevant, by most standards this anti-capitalist is wealthy. Consider this a lesson learned.
At the same time, without the help of the idiot man, I would have never been able to communicate my own "crazy" ideas to more people. For that I thank Instapundit and many of you who have written me today. I'm sorry if I haven't returned your mail -- I will shortly. In the meantime, I would like to get some time to summarize my theories on socialism for you. I will have that up shortly.
PS if you do want more Chomsky, please see realitydaytrips' email exchange with the man himself.
Noam Chomsky, again
Thanks to Charles Johnson for providing me with the original Lexis/Nexis requests. Although the are public documents, I will not go through the specifics of the address. If you want to find it you can consult the appropriate county records (or Lexis/Nexis).
Mr. and Mrs. Noam own a 2236 sq ft colonial in Lexington, MA. The lot size is 36,000 sq ft. This is pretty large for an urban area. You can look up what these houses are selling for yourself. The happy couple also has a datcha in Cape Cod (Wellsfleet), in the middle of a state park and right next to a lake and the shore (the sq. ft refer to the lot there as well). It is in Cape Cod that their two boats, a 18 footer and a 19 footer are moored. You too can eye ball what a house like that costs. Maintaining two boats is not cheap either.
So, the commissar's wealth, while not extraordinary, is pretty great. However, if you think that there is nothing wrong for someone who purports to support socialism to have this much wealth for themselves, then you have proven my point below. To paraphrase, HG Wells (since I don't have the exact quote) "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
UPDATE: Thanks, also, to Boltthrow for a copy of the documents!
ANOTHER UPDATE: No excuse, its Orwell, not HG Wells -- its been a busy day and been trying to do too much...
Noam Chomsky, continued
At first, I was happy to be mentioned on Instapundit, but then Glenn publishes a letter questioning the size of the house. Now, I was not the initial source of the information, but I know that it is publicly available. Lexis/Nexis is a good source of public records like house ownership. I don't have access to such information, but if anyone does, could you please e-mail the text, so we can get this information settled! Thanks in advance.
BTW, the rant itself is independent of exacly how large Mr. Chomsky's house is. The bulk of Socilaist thinkers were wealthy and brought their prejudices with them. Fo ranyone who doubts that, please read Joshua Muravchik's Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism or many other histories of the movement.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Editorials You Must Read
Jim Hoagland, one of the most intelligent commentators at the WashPost on the new international dynamic:
America's war on terrorism and Russia's pursuit of economic engagement with the West reinforce each other and now dominate world politics. Only a decade after the end of the Cold War, American and Russian leaders move toward an era of global entente that will reduce the strategic influence of Europe, China and Japan on Washington and Moscow.
This chilling thought has begun to take form in Europe's major capitals, where it is seen as a deeper and even more unwieldy phenomenon than American unilateralism. Concern also surfaces in statements from Tokyo and Beijing. A world long fearful of the consequences of superpower nuclear war now frets about the effect of deepening cooperation between the White House and the Kremlin.
Well, I say, bring it on! Maybe its because I'm Soviet by birth and I'm projecting upon others my feelings, but I think we can work with the Russians. For far too long we stared down each others barrels. That kind of relationship builds bonds, even if they are not recognized at the time. Maybe I'm wrong, but for 50 years we relied on each other not to start a nuclear war that would kill us all. That does, I think, build a level of trust that we don't even have with some our supposed allies (I'm looking in your direction, France). Am I off here? What do you think?
Collected Rants on Chomsky
Two days ago, Charles Johnson from lgf, posted this little gem about the famous America hater Noam Chomsky:
We got email today from an LGF reader who was browsing the Lexis research system and discovered that anti-American, anti-capitalist icon Noam Chomsky has embarrassingly capitalist tastes; among other expensive property he owns a 36,155 square foot home near Cambridge, a 13,503 square foot vacation home, and four boats. And we won’t even mention the cars.
This gave me an opportunity to go off on a rant about who socialists really are (foreshadowing: they are not really poor). As an aside, I've decided to use this format in the future -- congregating posts I made on other site into one coherent rant. (The following has been edited to fit your TV)
Sorry to get off on a general rant, but it should surprise no one that socialist theoreticians are wealthy.
Look at Marx (son of a wealthy and prominent attorney), Engels (son of a factory owner) and Lenin (son of a prominent attorney). This pattern is very common in the history of socialism. Look at the demographic of today's young anti-globalists.
I have a little theory about this. The concern of the socialists for the poor and the oppressed is merely a pretence for the real struggle -- the upper middle classes vs. the people in power. It the old struggle of the nobility vs the king wrapped up in much nicer sounding garments.
Chomsky is clearly of the upper middle classes and his goal is clearly the destruction of the American system. Sure he makes you think, but his support for totalitarian regimes of all creeds and colors has one thing in common -- hate of America. His support of Timor was during the time that Indonesia was America's ally. And his criticism, however correct, was embarrassing to the US. That was the only goal.
The implications of this theory are wide ranging -- starting with how can the wealthy really know what the concerns of the poor are? (Conversely, can you imagine an all white group dictating to blacks what's in their best interest?) Or who the really oppressed are? I believe that you will find that socialist practices effectively protect the upper middle classes without really helping the poor.
Anyway, in the future, when you hear a raging socialist like Chomsky take a look at his or her "class" and ask "Is this person teh right spokesperson for the cause?" For example, do American and European, middle-class educated college students really understand the needs and realities of the third-world worker whose family's survival depends on the job. Whose interests are these people protecting?
Another reader asked, "That sound's a lot like Osama's demographic and motive as well." Which promted:
Exactly, that's why the two understand each other so well!
Not to push the point too far, the psychology here is of people who are not afraid of real poverty because of their wealth, but for various reasons cannot rise to the very top. These people (terrorists, socialists and Hitler all fall into the same category) believe that that they deserve to be at the top, and the current system is holding them back (in some cases, this is true -- early socialists could not rise to the top b/c they were not part of the nobility -- same for Osama). The answer, of course, is the destruction of the "system".
The difference is that the Hitlers and the Osamas say what they means and don't cover up their motives in flowery language. The socialists have rationalized their drives into a campaign for the poor, which it is clearly not.
A different reader had the audacity to defend socialists (!), including the following:
I disagree with the comment that all socialists’ care about is power for themselves. Most of them, while misguided, do genuinely care about the plight of the worlds poorest.
To which I ranted on,
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
I don't necessarily disagree with you about the intentions of most socialists. The beauty of socialism's appeal is that socialists actually convince themselves that what they are doing is for the benefit of the poor. It never actually is, but the results of their actions don't bother them one bit. Like a medieval barber who draws blood to heal his patients, while actually killing them, the socialist never questions his methods.
This second posted kept coming back for more (can you believe?)
Indeed it is possible to have socialism without government. There hasn’t actually been an economic system in place that can be called Socialist, just dictatorships that carry out mass murder under the name of Socialism. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there, as Socialism remains an untested wildly experimental system that probably won’t work.
To which I replied:
Your first paragraph is a good example of socialist propaganda becoming entrenched in our society. When socialist systems become dictatorial and bloody (all of them so far) their failure is blamed on the particular country and circumstance and not on socialism itself. At the same time, failures of capitalist societies are ascribed to capitalism itself (as per Marx). You are judging the two systems by two different criteria.
I don't think that you can have it both ways -- either the bloody regimes are the direct product of socialist theory or all regimes are independent of their economic system. I believe in the former -- that authoritarian rule is the direct consequence of socialism. You cannot separate the two. We certainly have enough empirical evidence to support that notion.
We have to wake up to the fact that the millions dead in the Soviet Union (and her Warsaw Pact co-horts), China, Cambodia and the rest were NOT accidents or mistakes, but the direct product of socialism. As I said above, I don't care about intentions -- results are what matters.
As for morality, having lived in the Soviet Union and the US, I can tell you that the capitalist system is far more moral than anything else. I suspect that the differences in our opinions stem from the above conjecture -- the results of a capitalist are far more moral. Comparing the aspirations is useless...
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Short Reading List
OK, just one aricle. The article is by John Podhoretz, entitled "Hamas Kills its Own." His basic premise is that the Geneva Convention clearly blames Hamas for the killings of the Palestinian civilians.
The Fourth Geneva Convention goes into great and elaborate detail about how to assign fault when military activities take place in civilian areas. Those who are actually fighting the war are not considered "protected persons." Only civilians are granted the status of "protected persons" whose rights cannot be violated with impunity.
The Fourth Geneva Convention convicts Hamas and Salah Shehada in one sentence. That sentence makes up the entirety of Part 3, Article 1, Section 28. It reads: "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."
This sentence appears in the Fourth Geneva Convention precisely to deal with situations like the ones the Israelis faced. Here's how.
The Jewish state is at war with Hamas and Palestinian militant organizations wreaking terrorist havoc. Hamas is at war with Israel.
But instead of separating themselves from the general population in military camps and wearing uniforms, as required by international law, Hamas members and other Palestinian terrorists try to use civilians - the "protected persons" mentioned in 3:1:28 - as living camouflage.
To prevent such a thing from happening, international law explicitly gives Israel the right to conduct military operations against military targets under these circumstances. Again, let's check out that 3:1:28 sentence: "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."
Huh?, you might say. I thought that International Law protected civilians? No, you are confusing the trend in using International Law to isolate Americans and Jews with the actual law.
Why was the law written the way it was? The key assumption, with which I agree, is that the primary care-taker of a civilian population is its own government and not the enemy. The enemy can only extend as much care to the opposing civilian population as their own government extends. So, if country A doesn't mind using its kids as shields, why should its enemy, country B care?
As painful as it may sound, this sets up the long term incentives that are more beneficial to civilians. Otherwise, if B is responsible for A's civilians, then A is incentivized to act as savagely to its own civilians as possible. That way, if B has any shred of decency, it is bound to lose the conflict. The government of A can exploit its savagery by placing civilians as cover for its troops. Then B has only several choices, not to return fire or shoot civilians. Either die yourself or kill civilians. You can see how the civilians will lose on that one. International Law put the onus on A, if they don't care about their own, then neither should B. You need to remove the incentive for putting your own civilians at risk.
If A cares about their civilian population and evacuates them from the battle area, then B is required to leave them alone. The civilians win. So, the Hamas leader who was hiding among civilians was putting them in danger and is the clear violator of the Geneva Convention.
Why did he do this? Because the "international community's" interpretation of the Geneva Convention when it comes to the US and Israel encourages this. Remember, we want to reduce incentives for warring parties to hide among civilians. How should the world react to such violations? Well if the world wants to discourage civilian casualties -- we must criticize Hamas, but if we want to encourage this practice, we have to criticize Israel. You can see how Hamas has learned that the International community cares nothing about Palestinian civilians.
Monday, July 22, 2002
I am back from a hiatus and hope to write more original material. The reasons for stopping were many and some even legitimate. Mostly, however, I have to blame laziness. I have many people to thank for motivating me to return to writing, but I want to thank Susan especially. She really lobbied hard to get me to write again. Thank you.
Lately, I have been concerned about the continuing influence of socialist thought in our society. The basic assumptions of socialism have so permeated our understanding that they have achieved the status of “common truths”. Common truths are causal relationships that we assume are true without questioning the premise. For example, “poverty causes violence” is a common truth. We have seen this common truth be stated in relation to the recent terrorist violence. “It is caused by poverty”, we are told. We have heard this from the academics, Prime Ministers’ wives and even the President of the United States.
The problem with this common truth is that it’s a lie. Numerous research papers have repudiated this notion (I wish I could find the links). Furthermore, it is clear that this most recent wave of terrorism is being perpetrated by solidly middle class individuals. In fact, the mastermind in charge is a multimillionaire. Meanwhile, the world’s truly poor (in Africa, in India, in Central America) suffer quietly, without sending jets to strike at our buildings.
How is it that we have come to believe this falsehood, and how is it related to socialism? Early socialist theoreticians had to come up with a reason to revolt. Think of them as spoiled suburban kids of today looking for a reason to validate their grievances with their parents and schools and you will understand the mind-set. The appalling truth of socialist philosophy is that it was developed and spread not by the “proletariat”, but by upper middle class youth. The target of their angst was “the system” that was keeping them from assuming what they believes was their rightful place in society. This is common thought pattern evidenced by many totalitarian ideologues – think Hitler. These spoiled kids, without any concerns for their economic survival, but limited by aristocratic barriers from upward mobility needed a reason to rebel. Like modern consultants, the early socialists knew what the answer had to be (revolution) and all they had to do was to find a reason to justify it.
One that appealed to their egos was helping the poor. This was a great pretence – it showed the selflessness of the socialist and their commitment to those in need. Unfortunately, there were very few of the actual poor among the socialists (no time to sit at the coffee house to reflect when you have a family to feed and father isn’t sending a check), so they weren’t really sure what’s best for working classes. In any case, the best approach was irrelevant – it only had to justify their ultimate goal – the destruction of the current system and its replacement by one that served their needs.
It them followed that helping the poor was so important that violent rebellion was justified by poverty. That relationship became so ingrained in the socialist mind that the corollary relationship -- that poverty causes violence also became true. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing immoral about helping the poor (in fact, its very moral). However, there is immorality in using the poor as a pretense, as strawmen to push forward one’s ideology.
To summarize, socialists needed a reason to justify their desire to overthrow the system. It was decided that helping the poor was one such reason, and the causal relationship between poverty and violence was born. Not from facts, but from fertile imaginations.
This understanding continues today. Our enemy is a well-financed (by oil money) organization whose membership is almost exclusively upper-middle class. This situation is so strikingly familiar to modern day socialists who hearken back to their early “glory” days. So, when terrorist violence does erupt, the speaker, inundated from birth by socialist propaganda, automatically assumes that the cause was poverty.
It has become a common truth – a causal relationship that could not possibly withstand empirical inquiry, but survives nonetheless. There are many other common truths that can trace their roots to socialism, and I will mention them from time to time. It saddens me to think that so much of our understanding of the world stems from an ideology created to satisfy the hurt pride of bored Victorians. An ideology whose goal was never altruism, but a power grab.
I guess I tried to make two points above. One, that all common truths should be questioned, and two, we must question the motivations of all people, even those who claim to want to help others. I will continue to do both on this blog in the future.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Happy Birthday America, I Love You!
Happy Fourth to Everyone in Blogland. An ode to America by Jan Nowak in the WashPost.
Slightly Used News Stories
So, these stories are not as fresh as they could be, but they are still relevant. In no pariculat order, except that VDH goes first.
On "Our Enemies, the Saudis" from Commentary magazine. He is right, of course. We can fight the tencales of monster that is Jihadism all we want, but we will never defeat it unitl we chop off its head (ideological) and heart (financial). And both of those are located in the Kingdom of the Saudis.
This is a heart wrenching article from Newsweek about Israeli emergency rooms and the real toll of suicide bombers.
From The New Republic, an article about the physical and emotional wall being built by the Israelis. I don't think that the Europeans realize how great of an impact their response to the violence and hate in the Middle East played here and in Israel. It was them, and not the Arabs, who shattered many people illusions about modern diplomacy and the conviction of European Governments to prevent another Holocaust. I will say that for whatever reasons the European response has improved and has become a bit more even-handed. The damage has already been done and the lack of trust will take another several decades to reverse (if there are any Israelis left, of course...).
An interesting perspective from James Bowman of NRO, entitled "We're All Marxists Now." This is sort of going back to my original reason for the blog, but its vital nevertheless. The next big piece that I will hopefully finish will talk about a coming culture war. One of the premises is that while socialism has failed to work in practice, it is still championed by many. Furthermore, as this article points out, many Marxist notions have found their way into popular culture. The notion, for example, that terrorists do what they do because of economic disadvantage (championed by the President at one point!) follows form socialist thought. The poor will rise violently against the rich or the Jew, as the case may be, is standard socialist orthodoxy. Like socialism itself, this notion does not succumb to reason and evidence. So the lack of terrorism in the poorest nations and the presence of middle class and wealthy among the terorists does nothing to stop people from repeating this nonsense.
Jay Nordlinger in the National Review on anti-Semitism on campus. Another socialist orthodoxy that won't go away is the sanctity of a student movement. No matter what they do, the student activist is assumed to have a pure heart and a good motive. Just like the Nazi Youth. Another similar movement has been growing on campus, and Jay has the details.
I wanted to write to apologize for the appalling lack of original material on the site. Also for not even linking to article for a few days.
The explanation for the first neglect is complex. I was never really good at writing. It was never my passion. I don't think that that is because English is my second (only chronologically) language. I just find it hard to express, in writing, the crazy thoughts that are swimming in my head. I write best when I'm angry or otherwise emotionally charged. As things calm down, my motivation for writing ceases. So has been the case, as the events in the world have calm down a bit. I don't think that we are through the woods by a long shot, but for today overt killing has ceased for a bit.
The second reason for the lack of original writing is the scale of the projects I want to write about. For example, months ago I promised to write a deconstruction of socialism. As I started writing it, I realized that to do it justice it would have to be the size of a book. And I have no energy or ability to write a book right now. Another project that I wanted to write about, the coming Kulturkampf, is the next item on the list. I hope I can make it concise enough to post. However, the premise of the article, a coming cultural war between the moderate Right and the newly empowered extreme Left, needs to refer to some of the material in the deconstruction. Hence, I really have to choose how much to write. I've been too lazy to make that choice so far. Hopefully, I can start that article over the July 4th weekend.
The reason for the lack of posting lately is simpler and less noble. I just bought Neverwinter Nights for my PC and the game is addicting! Sorry that the reason is not more poetic, but I'm just spending way too much time playing!