Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Velvet Fascism (2): Povertarians.

After rummaging through a "free clothes" bin in a local church basement, Joe found what he considered a good score. He put on his new duds and went out into the cold. Out on the street he met a "social activist," a lady who looked him up and down and said, in as sneering a tone as she could muster: "Nice coat, Joe," turning his three letter name into a two syllable word, scorn dripping from her lips like a syphilitic discharge. The lady in question is what I will forever on now call a "Povertarian."

Dear reader, you will well imagine my disappointment when you find that I'm not the first, as I had hoped, to use this term. It might come from India, referring to the ascetics there who idealise poverty as some sort of path to religious and spiritual enlightenment. The ethos itself is old, likely as old as Man's search for meaning in a cold, hard universe. To the povertarian, poverty elevates one beyond the cash nexus of the mundane, lifts the spiritual seeker to heights the lowly masses can only admire from a distance, knowing the glory of asceticism only at second hand, if that. Poverty. It's the real thing. The rest of us are faking it. The povertarians want us to -- no -- demand that we follow their spiritually and socially enlightened lead. If we don't, then we are selfish, greedy, rich, racist, inauthentic, and so on till my nose drops off. To those who are povertarians, "Life should be," not "Life is what it is." And if it should be, then it must be. If life isn't what it should be, then someone is at fault, MAKING it not what it should be; and those people are bad: they are Americans, they are Zionists, they are capitalists, imperialists, globalists, and so on till my nose drops off. If life were as it should be, then I alone would be credited with the coining of the term "Povertarians." If you too coined this term and don't get right credit for it, let's start a mutual support group. We can sue someone and get a government grant to spread the word that we're discriminated against by a vast Rightwing conspiracy. "Povertarians." If I must, then I'll share it with others. No, don't thank me. It's just the kind of guy I am.

"Povertarians."

The primitive weltenschauung of the povertarian hardly needs explanation to most of us, it being the stillborn thought of those who live emotionally in the Middle Ages. Theirs, as we've written about in essays on Rational Agriculture and Ecology, is, or used to be generally, that of the feudal "limited pie" idea of wealth, that there is only so much in the subsistence economy of the commune, and that if one takes more than his fair share, then everyone else will starve to death. Now all but the most dense of hippy socialists grasp that wealth creates wealth, that there is no "pie" that exists as all there is and can ever be. Well, not quite so: The neo-feudalist has changed the story of the limited pie in light of the obvious continued growth of economies in the capitalist reality. The shift in the limited pie story now confesses that there is more to reality than the never-ending cycle of subsistence and starvation within the confines of the commune. But the pie is now expanded beyond the commune of old to include the whole of the Earth as the pie, ours being a finite and limited planet, it being constricted and non-replenishable. If, the neo-feudalist argues, we in the Modernist West eat all the Earth, then everyone will die! Capitalism might work for the few in some parts of the world, but to work it must take from those who don't share in it, those who are exploited by the global capitalists, those who destroy the limited pie of the Earth with its non-renewable resources. Old pie in a new tin.

What possesses these povertarians to go on so? Of course they're "spiritual" in ways the rest of us cannot begin to grasp, they having a Gnostic vision of reality and the inner truths of the realms of the Philosopher Kings. The neo-feudalist is one who has a vision of reality that transcends that of the average person. That vision is one limited to fear of freedom and independence of Humanity. It is the herd view of Human reality. It is the fascist view of Man. And those who cling to it see themselves as enlightened, more aware of reality than "the masses" whom the enlightened povertarians have a duty to tend for the good of all and the Earth itself. Thus, those who are povertarians must do for those who cannot see the cosmic Truth of the Gnostic what must be done. The masses resist, the masses must be made to follow, must be shown the errors of their evil ways, must be made to know their guilt, and must atone and pay for the sins they commit by virtue of their very consumptive existence. In the Modern West, the masses must pay tithe-taxes to the Gnostic minders who will create for the masses an equitable society good for all and in harmony with Nature.

The masses in the West are greedy and racist and sexist and homophobic. They are bad. They are guilty. They must pay, give money to the minders who, having infantalised the poor of the world, now turn their sights to the ones who have taken so much from those who have so little, having had it taken from them by the global capitalists, the Americans, the Zionists, the imperialists, the post-colonialists, and so on.... The greater world's population of the starving poor, having been infantalised by the Left fascists, the Modernist is now stuck with feeling guilty about the wealth it has -- seemingly because the pie is grabbed by the greedy. Give back to the community to atone. Give back to the community enough to first pay the social activist $104.000.00 per year, and then, after making $0.80 per hour in food stamps redeemable only at a skid road daycare centre for the dysfunctional, give back more -- to the community. And do not dare flaunt the wealth of a nice-looking coat from a church basement clothing bin. Hide that bourgeois tendency if you can't outright rid yourself of it. Look poor, think poor, identify with the poor. Pay your taxes and actually be poor. You'll be a better person for it. Of course you will. You won't be so guilty: You'll be poor. Don't worry about it. The Gnostic minders will take care of you. Like vegetarian food? Well, get used to it, it's good for you. Unlike you, they know. They're povertarians.

You who have taken from "the poor" on a global scale are guilty. "Property is theft." Those who do not have are noble. They are noble savages, and you and we should idealize them in their purity and oneness with Nature. We should all be philobarbarists if we wish to attain to morality at all. We should idealise the most outrageous and dysfunctional of the world's people, the Palestinians, those ultimate victims of Modernity. We should at least give more money to those who make their livings from minding at the U.N and the E.U. We are the world, we are the children. And naughty children we are who do not like to share with the global community. Guilty children. Give back to the world community that which you have stolen. Don't take anything more. The world is finite, and the wealth you take is not sustainable. The Earth will become warm and we will all starve to death because of your greed. Be poor. Listen, mind the povertarians. They know. Pie thief, you are: Guilty!

If you have the means to conduct your own personal affairs in a state of privacy, then you are not likely a povertarian. All of your public contributions are the fruit of theft from those who have now nothing because of you. If you have those means and you use them to conduct the affairs of others, very likely you are a povertarian who lives from the taxes shed by those you mind, at least morally, the ones who do not share in any real sense the idea of povertarianism. Those who do not share in povertarianism are guilty. To assuage their guilt they must pay for those who are "poor." And they must also be made to feel guilty. Wealth is a sign of sin. So is privacy. It is against the community. It is anti-social. It is selfish. It is immoral and sinful. Give back to the community, sinner.

Surely the povertarian is not without sin; but the povertarian is aware of his state of fallenness; he tries to deal with his racism and greediness by acting on behalf of the world's poor, by being active in the causes of correcting social injustice and stuff. No, it doesn't make a profit, a bad thing, that profit, profit that would have to come from the mouths of others, stolen from them; the povertarian relies for his $104.000.00 per year salary on the guilty parties who do make a profit. The moral povertarian then acts to lead the world flock to a better future where there will be no social inequities, no racism, no sexism, no bad stuff.

Those who live in a state of privacy are individual. They do not rely on the goodness of the enlightened povertarian to manage their guilty and inauthentic lives. The Modernist individualist who lives in a state of privacy is not infantalised, not subject to the minding of the Gnostic Philosopher King. But the free man should pay for his privacy. He should "give back to the community" to assuage his guilt, he who has only at the expense of those who are poor, who have nothing, who got their pie slice grabbed.

The Gnostic povertarian is Moral. He works for the community's best interest, for the good of Mankind, for the general welfare of Humanity. The individual is not social. He is "free from" as Erich Fromm writes in Escape From Freedom. For one thing, he is free from the Gnostic minder, the povertarian. The free man is a revolutionary. He lives in the revolutionary world of Modernity. He lives outside the community. In his freedom he who revolts against the community, he is immoral.

To the povertarian the community is sacrosanct. The community is dissolved in the state of Modernity. The community is dissolved in the city. The community is dissolved in the state of global capitalism. In the state of revolt from the ordinary condition of community the free man is free from the commune, but he is alone and immoral. The povertarian provides the means of return to the bliss and blessedness of the whole, of the community. The inauthentic man, free man, can rejoin the mass of Man and live as one again with Nature if only he submits to the poverty of the commune under the oath of fealty to the minder Gnostics, the Philosopher Kings, the povertarians. The free man, free from the povertarians, does well enough, but at such a cost, profiting at the cost of losing his very soul. There is a possible escape, the escape from freedom. There is the promise of the return to the fold of the povertarian's community.

In looking earlier at Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" we saw that man alone is possibly a man isolated from meaning. Without the certainties of being a set link in the Great Chain of Being, man being free to decide for himself, to work for himself, to think for himself, he is also a man who is in fear of his aloneness, who wishes for the security man had in the Middle Ages when life was ordered and meaningful and set by a higher authority one didn't question, the minders of the time being truly thought well-informed on questions of meaning and right. It is that certainty of authority of the moral and the comfort of certainty of meaning that Modernist Man sometimes is lacking, a paradise that some wish to regain even at the cost of personal freedom. Some Modernists will throw away their freedom for a resting-place in the palm of a velvet lined fist, only to be crushed by that false security promised by the Left fascist povertarian.

We'll return to this in our next installment.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fading Memories of World War I

From 1914 to 1918 Canada fought alongside Great Britain and France in the Great War, the "War to End All Wars", World War I.

It won't be too much longer before we find ourselves remarking on the 100th anniversary of that conflict. It will be as far removed from us today, as Napoleon's bloodbaths were to those who fought through the same battlefields at the beginning of the 20th century, this more recent time against the Kaiser.

What does that distance in time mean for us as a nation? Might this terrible war be a good thing to forget? Might it be a relief, that we as a nation have been separated by enough history by now, that we glance at the monuments left in its shadow, and such places as Passchendaele , Vimy, Ypres (where Canadian troops suffered under warfare's first poison gas attack), that these resonate as little as Bleinheim or Agincourt?

We know something important happened there, but it might seem to have happened to some other people... not to us. And so when we think of the the lives lost from World War I, the enormity of that loss could seem lessened... perhaps to the point where it is not much of a loss at all.

Shame on us, as a nation, on the day that we allow ourselves such a shallow memory, as well as its inevitable accomplice, ingratitude, and the nullity that would arise from that cultural amnesia.

The folly and slaughter of the First World War will indeed mean nothing, and all the lives lost to that madness will truly have been sacrificed to no good result, if we let it mean nothing... if we allow ourselves the unearned luxury of forgetting the sacrifice ever happened.
Just as, on a more individual scale, we might squander opportunities to improve ourselves if we suffer and do not make a point of learning from experience. Whether we make a mistake that cripples us financially, or get worn down through seeing a loved one suffer from some fatal illness, there are many personal nightmares we may undergo that will defeat us unless we willingly, against all reason, choose victory.

That act is one we may choose at the end of any long hard day: we may stare at that fellow whose teeth we are brushing in the mirror, confess to them the secret shame our brute pride may not bear to utter more publicly, namely the long list of that day's mistakes proving we are less than perfect, thereby smaller men than we need ourselves to be. Such admissions risk demolishing us in the long run, if they are not met with the resolve to create some positive benefit to their existence.
We struggle to learn from our financial mistakes, and while things may never return to how they were before, they will at least not remain as perilous as they had become; finances will progress. The holes in our family will not be replaced, but their memory can still be treasured, and the value of that treasure may be passed along to a younger generation, needing the careful guidance of good role models if they are to also get through their own version of this same inevitable tragedy; family will progress. And above all, in a world where the Good are felt to suffer and Evil is seen to prosper, the determination not to let Good be forgotten, the perseverance to continue to fight to deliver the world from the Evil it is awash in, this most eternal of battles must not be abandoned, for then every past advance is rendered a forlorn stumble. Faith must progress.

If that raggedy gentleman we shave each morning in the mirror doesn't begin his day with the memory of the legacy they carry on their shoulders from the day before, what kind of purpose would they bring to their daily grind? What would there be to aim higher than? What past would we try to rise above? At the end of a long life, we might look back at all the losses accrued over that lifetime, but if we don't see a series of attempts to counter that suffering, and actions to surmount the challenges as they arose, what hell would hold more horrors than the weight of the regrets that would leave with us in our final waking moment of life? Amnesia carries no honor if it cheats us of the opportunity to pass along to others the hard luck lessons we so often learn the worst way possible.
This connection to our future, is the best validation of our past. Our connection to our past, is the best validation for our future. We might say, our past gives us our future, as we may measure ourselves against its shadow, and strive to outdistance it.

All these thoughts and more, crossed my mind today as I made my regular pilgrimmage to a certain site in downtown Vancouver, a trip I felt compelled to take after reading the following statement from Prime Minister Harper, on the death of one of Canada's last remaining World War I veterans, 107-year old Victor “Lloyd” Clemett. May his soul rest in Peace:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today released the following statement of the death of Victor “Lloyd” Clemett:

“Today, I learned of the death of Victor ‘Lloyd’ Clemett of Toronto, one of Canada’s last surviving veterans of the First World War. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Mr. Clemett’s family and friends. As a nation, we honour his service and mourn his passing.”
“Mr. Clemett was one of more than 650,000 Canadians who served in our military forces during the First World War. More than 69,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect freedom and democracy. Each year, on November 11, we remember these men and women, as well as the thousands of others who perished in Canada’s other military conflicts around the world.

“With the passing of Mr. Clemett, another link to Canada’s proud military history has been severed. All Canadians, no matter where they live, must continue to remember that the sacrifices of Mr. Clemett and his comrades helped shape strong, prosperous and democratic nation we enjoy today.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Velvet Fascism: The Left Sadist.

In Vancouver, Canada, particularly in the Downtown Eastside, socialism is the order of the day. Not just socialism but the fascistic manipulation by an elitist group of minders who exploit the most down and out in the nation. No, there are no gulags here. In the "Maoist Liberation Zone," as one elitist refers to the area, there is a velvet fascism of adult baby-sitting. Not truncheons, jack-boots, and guns; here in Vancouver, death by socialism comes wrapped in a velvet glove.
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A favorite refrain of the Left these days is: "Give back to the community." It's often addressed to the poor themselves, those who in some instances work for the equivalent of $0.80 per hour in food stamps negotiable only at the Carnegie Centre in Vancouver, Canada. One might well hear such things from those executives who bring as much as $104.000.00 per year in salary. Uh, give what back? Why give anything back at all? And what community are we talking about? Yes, once we discard the Left sentimentalities we know we are dealing with a cynicism that makes no sense in any but the most ridiculous of phantasies; but there are those who don't seem to realize this game has rules that they don't grasp. Feel guilty about your $0.80 per hour in food stamps, feel grateful you get so much, and thank those who give it to you for your efforts. What a deal. You are one of the community. Give back to others less fortunate than you. Most of all, be grateful to the Gnostics who manage it all for you, those who give you the food stamps. You are undeserving, but they give to you anyway. Now give some back.

It must be nice to belong, to be part of a group, a community, something larger than oneself. It must be nice too to give something back to the group one belongs to, even if that group is "The Poor." The Poor themselves must be nice in themselves because they don't have any money, being so nice, in fact, that they don't even take enough from others to survive properly in the market economy. The Poor don't exploit anyone by making a profit at another's expense. Instead, they are reduced to begging charity from those who do. Like mendicant friars of the Middle Ages, the Poor are damned near saintly. Just make sure they tithe to the neo-Clergy. Poverty is ennobling, and one must leave the higher sufferings to the Philosopher Kings, to the administrators of tax-payer funded social centres, to take on the burdens of real pain that comes from having too much money. Thank them on your way out to the streets in the cold. You are blessed, children.

I've just reread Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom*. He didn't foresee the troubles his social engineering schemes would lead to. He wrote some things that would lead one to believe he should have and could have had he been more honest and less a proto-hippie do-gooder. He writes of Man as afraid of freedom who turns to fascism in the hope of finding a community within which to find solace from the hardships of being alone and powerless in the face of the larger world. He writes of those who "go back to the community."

Freedom? Fromm writes of it as individuation, as becoming separate from the world and from others, of being a person in ones own self, isolated and atomic: Man Alone. Freedom is a terrible thing for the one who cannot live as a private person with his own self as both master and friend. The free man, alone and afraid of his freedom to choose and to think and to do can find himself so unsure of his own life that he flings his freedom away and embraces anything offering the protection of power, of authority, of the mature adulthood he himself cannot muster to make his life meaningful in himself. Fromm writes that this freedom abandoning man is likely to become a fascist, an authoritarian personality in search of structure from above that he can use to deny his own responsibilities and to dominate those below him in an unhealthy and oft times violent social programme. "Those above me are supreme and must be obeyed; and those below are weaker and less than I and must therefore obey me."

Fromm writes: "The first mechanism of escape from freedom I am going to deal with is the tendency to give up the independence of one's own individual self and to fuse one's self with somebody or something outside oneself in order to acquire the strength which the individual self is lacking." (Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom. 1942; New York: Avon; rpt. 1966, p. 163.)

The astute reader will realise by now that Fromm is leading into a discussion of the fascist authoritarian personality as one sado/masochistic, i.e. as one who must dominate or be dominated or both. The reader will soon see the emergence of the Left fascist sadist in the form of the infantalising socialist, his "victim" The Poor."

We'll leave that for the next installment.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Gore's Hidden Tattoo

Now don't quote me here, but I read somewhere that Al Gore and David Susuki each have matching tattoos on some hidden place on their bodies. I don't know where that would be.

The Mohammed Moriarity Gang Strikes Again

It quit being amusing years ago to parody the Left analysis of anything; and now it's just a soreness that gets very irritated when the Left rises to defend this kind of criminal crap as below. And yet they do. We'll find out just how sick and dirty the Left can be regarding Somalia. Not just yet but soon. For now, let's see what the kooky-loony criminals in Somalia are up to.

Pirates hijack UN cargo ship off Somalia

By Andrew Geoghegan

A United Nations-chartered cargo ship has been hijacked by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The UN freighter had just delivered 1,800 tonnes of food and aid to towns on Somalia's north-east coast when it was seized.

The fate of the ship and its 12 crew members is unclear.

It is suspected a well organised cartel of Somalis, using speedboats mounted with machine guns, is responsible for the attack.

In the past two years, pirates have hijacked more than 40 ships off the Somali coastline.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1856768.htm
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First lesson at Dag's School for Somali Pirates;

I.) Ship is low in water on way to port: Hijack.

1a.) Ship is high in water on way out of port: Don't hijack.

I'm accepting applications now for a whole new semester. My last crew were less than sterling.

We also offer graduate sudies in Piracy for Somalis:

"Do not look down gun barrel when friend with sense of humor is at the trigger."
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Well, which is the stupid sector? Mark Bowden writes in Blackhawk Down, 2000:

The victory was even more hollow for Somalia, although it's not clear even five years later how many people there understand that. The fight itself was a terrible mismatch. The Somali death toll was catastrophic. Conservative counts numbered five hundred dead among more than a thousand casualities....

Clan leaders I spoke with in that destroyed city in the summer of 1997 seemed to think that the world was still watching their progress anxiously. Photographer Peter Tobias and I were the only guests at the Hotel Safari during most of our stay there. We were the first and only Americans who have rerturned to Mogadishu trying to piece together exactly what happened. I told the Habr Gidr leaders who were hostile to our project that this would likely be their only chance to tell their side of the story, beccause there weren't journalists and scholars lined up at the border. The larger world has forgotten Somalia. The great ship of international goodwill has sailed.... They've effectively written themselves off the map.

Bowden, pp. 333-34.
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Forty ships hijacked. Send those admission forms and a retainer straight away, folks. This can't last forever.


The 21st century "Lost Generation": the "no-lifes"

Ever feel guilty about how much time you spend reading over the internet? I know I do, but my average of two to three hours each day spent on blogs and news reading pale in comparison to an increasing addiction brewing among the young.

A challenge I remember from my teenage years, and especially my 20s, was striking a healthy balance between real life and my hobbies. I was especially obsessed with the craft that eventually became my trade, and I shudder now to think of all the hours I must have blindly spent practicing it and studying it, instead of experiencing the life that existed around me. One can love one's job, but should one's life be one's job? Surely labor becomes most rewarding when it serves as a means to an end, and that this end becomes the means by which we surround ourselves with the strong emotional and spiritual bond of Family. For myself, I noticed almost too late how I had come to use my work as an excuse to not challenge myself with this most noble of difficulties: raising a family of my own. From the moment I began courting my wife, I made a conscious effort to break the habits of a decade, to place work and hobbies second, and real life first. Having a family became what I considered to be my real "job", which other things must slide and make way to accomodate. This has brought a joy and fulfillment unimaginable to the younger version of me who toiled late into the night, evening after evening, foolishly thinking that this what life was all about.

And so I am not entirely unsympathetic when reading the following article from La Croix, a French Christian magazine. It is hard to find a balance in one's life. If we don't develop an inner hourglass, to act as a constant reminder to allow the sands to fall the other way as needed, we set ourselves up to never turn the hourglass over, because to do so at long last causes us to realize the full extent of our imbalance. Who can face up to their mistakes, when they exist on such a colossal scale? Much easier to put off the fateful change for another hour, another day, another month... another time.

The increasing infantilization of society carries with it the seductive distraction to avoid ever turning over that hourglass, allowing the state to subsidize a life spent online, in the manner described by La Croix magazine last week. They report on a new social phenomena, primarily cursing the younger generation, in that they do not develop any sense of balance between work, play, and real life. And one can only imagine what future these young people have in store for themselves, from having lived lives other than their own, during the years in which they should be most interested in exploring the flesh-and-blood world around them.

In search of a dream life on the internet

The appearance of online internet games leads many adolescents to only live within their virtual worlds, to the detriment of their studies or their professional lives….

World of Warcraft (WoW) [is]the most famous of online games, which counts more than 8 million members. These online games have the particularity of uniting, simultaneously over the internet, hundreds of thousands of players from around the world. Yes, it does indeed mean thousands of people playing at the same time, one against the other, on their computer.


It’s about futuristic, medieval or fantasy worlds, comparable to the Lord Of The Rings films, adapted from Tolkien’s novels, within which a player lives epic adventures through his character, accompanied by other players connected, often, at the other end of the world, all [participating through] a monthy subscription.

Every day, and often even until late into the night, “Cedric” comes to play in the basement of a cybercafe open 24 hours out of 24, in the center of Paris…

Like him, there are dozens, between 18 and 35 years of age, aligned before the computers, like workers on a new kind of chain gang, eyes riveted to the screen, fingers gripping the mouse. [It’s]a somber atmosphere, silent, almost studious…

…This new generation of video games create a more stronger addiction than the older games. The particularity of these MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game), is to offer what is called “persistent worlds”: even if the computer is turned off, the characters continue to evolve and to live.

“Other games have a beginning and an end, but WoW never stops. And the players continue to think about what is happening there. That’s why they want to return to it,” explains Ankhbayar, 24 year old student, originally from Mongolia, who is a regular at the cybercafe. “To get a good level, you have to play at least four hours a day. And when you’re in a guild, meaning, part of a team, you cannot fall behind, otherwise you get kicked out. It quickly becomes like slavery.”

From amusement to refuge, there is effectively but a single step, quickly taken by some. “In WoW, you have superpowers. You feel a little invincible. You can die, but you regain your body in two minutes”, explains Cedric.

A true social phenomenon, the MMOG, and WoW in particular, are a daily fixture for the generation raised with a computer in hand….

The risk of addiction is highest among the youth without any exterior motivation. “Paradoxically, those who spend the most time playing are those people who are unemployed or who have difficulty creating a real life for themselves. This is where they find it”, observed Cyril Jarry [an employee of the cybercafe]. ”It’s like a drug, when you start getting into it, you think about it all the time, but if you have a job and friends on the side, it places limits on you”, says Sofiane, 19 years old. ”You’re quickly caught in the trap”, adds Cedric, who recognizes having become a “no-life”, according to the jargon… “I play 24 hours straight and then I go sleep for 12 hours. It takes time away from my looking for a job, but it’s a choice and it will only last for a short time”, he claims…

Friday, February 23, 2007

Less than half of France finds Socialist Segolene Royal "competent"

Le Figaro, one of France’s most widely read newspapers, conducted a poll following Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal’s make-or-break appearance on a recent popular French television series, “I have a question to ask you” (“J’ai une question à vous poser”).
[You can read about the appearance itself, here, at Boz's encyclopedic blog on the 2007 French Election]

[Translated from Le Figaro:]

81% of the people who watched Ségolène Royal in “I have a question to ask you” on TF1 judged her “sympathetic”. A score notably higher than Nicolas Sarkozy (68%) and Jean-Marie Le Pen (37%). But this one criteria cannot hide other results less flattering for the socialist candidate: 45% of those surveyed judged her to be believable/convincing. Nicolas Sarkozy had achieved a score of 79%. And even Jean-Marie Le Pen beats her with 48% on believability.

She placed in-between Sarkozy and Le Pen on the criteria of “competent” (47%) and “close to your concerns” (56%).



After such a long trail of foreign policy pratfalls, what do those polled think she is competent **at**? And, just what "concerns" might such a rich and well-protected member of the political nobility be close to..? Raising the minimum wage, increasing the scope of the cradle-to-grave social safety net, subsidized university education.. these are all nice dreams, but really, are France’s gravest concerns purely economical..?

47% still find Royal competent, with 56% saying she's "close to their concerns": that gives me a sizeable number of voters to aim the following video at.
Enjoy this little What If... drama entitled, "The Beginning of the End":

And clean up your room first!

Dad wants to have his son killed. Not much new in that. The reason? Son upset father over disagreements about religion. Not new either. Religion in question that leads to dad wanting son to be killed? Islam. A very old story.
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Family of Al-Azhar Student, Accused of "Contempt of Religion", Disowns Him Before His Court Verdict Session

Written by Nabeel Abu Shal and Tamer Al-Sharqawy
18/2/2007

The family of Al-Azhar student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, accused of "contempt of religion", has disowned him before his court verdict session on the upcoming Thursday. His father, a retired mathematics teacher, has demanded applying the Sharia [Islamic law] ruling on him by giving him three days to repent, followed by having him killed if he does not announce his repentance.

http://www.freekareem.org/2007/02/18/
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Yes, my father wanted to kill me. I asked to borrow $20.00 to go out on Saturday evening. He said: "$20.00? Do you know how long I have to work to make $10.00? Why should I lend you $5.00? And what would you waste that $2.00 on anyway? All right, take the fifty cents, but don't spend it all in one place."

Some things never change.

Step 1: play with dolls. Step 3: raise a family. Step 2: a lost art?

Of all the carnival of calamities chronicled in Mark Steyn's new book America Alone, there remains one from Japan that stays in my mind:

"At the beginning of the century, [Japan's] toymakers noticed they had a problem: toys are for children and Japan doesn't have many. What to do? In 2005, Tomy began marketing a new doll called Yumel -- a baby boy with a range of 1,200 phrases designed to serve as a companion for the elderly. He says not just the usual things -- "I wuv you" -- but also asks the questions your grandchildren would ask, if you had any: "Why do elephants have long noses?"

Mark Steyn, "America Alone", page 25

Connecting with others is one of the greater challenges, and most rewarding of triumphs, we humans can experience. It is by giving a little of ourselves, that we gain the most from others; the sacrifices going into raising a child can be more than matched by the joys offered by grandchildren, or so my grandparents always made a point of teaching me. We might declare that we are happy being mere islands to ourselves, living for the moment, and it might be even be true... for the moment. There surely comes a time, however, when our ability to feel useful, to feel alive, to feel human, depends on the connections we make with others. This must be true, for there to be such a demand for these "healing dolls"(thanks to Toykotimes):

Tomy’s new toy is being billed as a ‘healing’ doll, and whereas similar products are aimed at daytime use, Yumel is being touted as a nighttime companion.
Project leader Osamu Kiriseko claims that, “You need to enjoy the night together if you really hope to live with a doll.”
With this in mind, the name Yumel comes from the word ‘yume’ (dream), and it’s designed to look like a sleepy baby boy - albeit one with big and black manga-esque eyes.

And to further enhance the sleepiness factor, the toy is equipped with six sensors and an IC chip, allowing the doll to accurately keep track of its owners sleeping patterns. Thus Yumel starts the day with a breezy “Good morning,” and ends it with drooping eyelids and a drowsy “Good night” after a quick pat on the chest makes it ‘fall asleep’.

Back to Mark Steyn:

"Yumel joins his friend Snuggling Ifbot, a toy designed to have the conversation of a five-year old child, which its makers, with the usual Japanese efficiency, have determined is just enough chit-chat to prevent the old folks going senile."

Also from Tokyotimes, a helpful description of Snuggling Ifbot's helpful nature:

As an example of the robot’s capabilities, given the question, “Today I’m in bad health,” the ifbot responds with, “Perhaps you are overtired. Why don’t you rest today?” And using its internal clock, it can join in a conversation about the weather by knowing what season it is. An absolute necessity it would seem when dealing with the weather obsessed elderly.

We give our children dolls and toys in order to teach them the warmth that can come from connecting with others, to take others into our confidence and above all, to teach the inner strength that can develop from embracing others, and to live for a little bit more than merely ourselves. The lesson needs to start there, not end there; a means to an end. Somehow this lesson is becoming a dead end, and the result is a lifetime spent hugging only toys, and not other, fellow human beings.
I leave it to Mark Steyn to close the circle:
"It seems an appropriate comment on the social-democratic state: in a childish infantilized self-absorbed society where adults have been stripped of all responsibility, you need never stop playing with toys. We are the children we never had."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dag's a Sowell man

In the comments to the previous post, Dag wanted to assure our readers that we are not only interested in abstract theorists, but also in writers that the average politically-engaged person can appreciate, people like Thomas Sowell. Here is one of Sowell's latest articles, an attack on the economic ideas of Barack Obama. These ideas are yet more proof that the left never stops believing it can magically transform reality to its own liking, that pretty men like Obama have the "vision of the anointed". But, as Sowell shows, the poor and the workers who are told to put their faith in the magic of the left, the same old magic the leftist elite have been preaching for more than a couple of generations now, are the ones who have the most to lose from an inability to face reality.

I am presently reading a book by the German economist, Wilhelm Roepke, A Humane Economy (1960), which shows us that informed criticism of Obama-like ideas is nothing new either (testifying to the long held power of magic over reality). Roepke writes:
The prime interest of trade-union leaders is a continuous rise in money wages because this is a tangible and patent result of their efforts; they generally have only a secondary interest in raising real wages through price reductions or in other purposes which, for the well-being and happiness of workers and employees, may well be more important than wage increases. It is quite possible for price reductions to further the true interests of trade-union members better than wage increases, but from the point of view of the trade-union leaders themselves, price reductions have the disadvantage of obscuring their own merits. We shall see presently that this is undoubtedly one of the chief sources of the permanent inflation which characterizes the Western world today.(146)
As a solution to this kind of short-sightedness, Roepke adds:
It is urgently necessary to strengthen the feeling for the imponderable nature of the community surpassing all separate interests and immediate claims and commanding the individual's loyalty, even unto death.(148)
Indeed; this is why we need to pursue the kinds of fundamental questions about our relationship to the sacred that I raised in the previous post.

Promises and Covenants

[Note to the average reader: this post is meant to encourage people in Vancouver to attend one of our weekly meetings. In the comments to this post, my friend and colleague, Dag, says the language I quoted was too abstract and alienating and that you won't want to attend our meeting if you read it. Well, it's something new. If you don't like it, just skip to Dag's comment. In any case, be sure that our meetings are about bringing new political ideas into everyday conversation and human association. We all have our passions, but none of us is pretentious or snobbish about them, quite the reverse in fact.]

Every Thursday, the Covenant Zone bloggers meet in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, from 7-9 pm, in front of Blenz Coffee. We wear blue scarves in solidarity with the conservative Revolution Bleue in France, and discuss ways of renewing our own national political covenant. The name of our blog refers to one of the most fundamental of political forms, one central to nation building. Another of the basic political relationships is the promise. Recently checking out the Reconquista blog, I discovered this remarkable passage from G.K. Chesterton, in an essay condemning the conduct of the Prussians at the start of World War I, specifically their breaking of their promise not to invade Belgium. Chesterton saw that the promise is somehow the most fundamental or original of human gestures:
It is plain that the promise, or extension of responsibility through time, is what chiefly distinguishes us, I will not say from savages, but from brutes and reptiles. This was noted by the shrewdness of the Old Testament, when it summed up the dark irresponsible enormity of Leviathan in the words "Will he make a pact with thee?" The promise, like the wheel, is unknown in Nature: and is the first mark of man. Referring only to human civilisation it may be said with seriousness, that in the beginning was the Word. The vow is to the man what the song is to the bird, or the bark to the dog; his voice, whereby he is known. Just as a man who cannot keep an appointment is not fit even to fight a duel, so the man who cannot keep an appointment with himself is not sane enough even for suicide. It is not easy to mention anything on which the enormous apparatus of human life can be said to depend. But if it depends on anything, it is on this frail cord, flung from the forgotten hills of yesterday to the invisible mountains of to-morrow. On that solitary string hangs everything from Armageddon to an almanac, from a successful revolution to a return ticket. On that solitary string the Barbarian is hacking heavily, with a sabre which is fortunately blunt.
[...]
The Prussians have been told by their literary men that everything depends upon Mood: and by their politicians that all arrangements dissolve before "necessity." That is the importance of the German Chancellor's phrase. He did not allege some special excuse in the case of Belgium, which might make it seem an exception that proved the rule. He distinctly argued, as on a principle applicable to other cases, that victory was a necessity and honour was a scrap of paper. And it is evident that the half-educated Prussian imagination really cannot get any further than this. It cannot see that if everybody's action were entirely incalculable from hour to hour, it would not only be the end of all promises, but the end of all projects. In not being able to see that, the Berlin philosopher is really on a lower mental level than the Arab who respects the salt, or the Brahmin who preserves the caste. And in this quarrel we have a right to come with scimitars as well as sabres, with bows as well as rifles, with assegai and tomahawk and boomerang, because there is in all these at least a seed of civilisation that these intellectual anarchists would kill. And if they should find us in our last stand girt with such strange swords and following unfamiliar ensigns, and ask us for what we fight in so singular a company, we shall know what to reply: "We fight for the trust and for the tryst; for fixed memories and the possible meeting of men; for all that makes life anything but an uncontrollable nightmare. We fight for the long arm of honour and remembrance; for all that can lift a man above the quicksands of his moods, and give him the mastery of time."
This amazing passage reminded me of another by the writer and anthropologist, Adam Katz, who has taught me much about promises and covenanting. In an unpublished essay reviewing the foreign policy of the Bush administration in the Global War on Terror, Adam writes about our need to rediscover the sacred source of the promise and covenant:
we need, especially in this long war, our sources of sacrality--ultimately, the invisible God the creator discovered/invented (no matter where, when, or by whom, exactly) by the Jews; and the Greek polis. The sacred is what is universally desired and the renunciation of which is therefore constitutive of the community. The first meaningful act, that is, is renunciation [i.e. a promise not to appropriate what is commonly desired]. But as long as the universally desired object is appetitive, no cultural progress is possible--renunciation begins and ends with the production and consumption of the object and hence cannot become productive itself. For renunciation to become productive, what is renounced must become invisible and internalizable, and hence portable and projectable over time and space. This depends upon the recognition that what is universally desired is not, ultimately, some object, but to carry out meaningful acts, to be at the center oneself. If the renunciation of an appetitive object must attribute the power of repelling and suspending desire to the object itself (it being inconceivable that such a capacity be attributed to oneself by the agent experiencing it), then the desire to be at the center must be represented and suspended by the author of all meaning, an infinitely creative and renewable source of being. The creature of such a God must be similarly capable of absolute freedom, limited only by the infinitely greater power and freedom of the Creator himself. The relation between such a God and such a creature is governed by the promise and the covenant--the only forms of relationship that can reconcile freedom and order, initiative and reciprocity, thereby producing history: a history of covenants established, broken and restored, revised and extended; of promises deferred and the signs and terms of its imminent fulfillment sought. This fundamental anthropological structure is true regardless of whether we "believe" in the God in question--there is always the need for renunciation, however complex the social setting, there must always be someone who initiates and "persuades" others to imitate the gesture of renunciation and thereby complete it; and that initiator must draw upon him or herself the resentment of the community since original renunciation is only minimally distinguishable from the acquisition of a subtle and insidious mode of appropriation, which in turn means that the initiator must apply the forms of the promise and the covenant to the work of persuasion. If you know of a kind of morality either more realistic or more elevated than this, please hasten to inform the rest of us.

If our Hebraic heritage puts resentment to work in producing more refined and flexible modes of renunciation, our Athenian line of descent puts resentment to work in ensuring ever higher levels of transparency and openness. In the Greek polis, a space is elevated over everyday life wherein everything that is said and done is heard and seen by everybody. Symmetry and action in common is constitutive of the space, which ceases to exist as soon as people cease to enter and renew it by striving to carry out memorable actions, i.e., actions that will become exemplary and hence a "renewable resource" for the space itself. Anyone can represent the center, under the condition that everybody makes sure that nobody tries to possess it. Publicity is enormously flexible, like--if somewhat more fragile than--the invisible God: it can emerge anywhere fixed hierarchies break down and there is nothing but the articulation of power and accountability to hold things together. The "absolutes" of free speech and free inquiry derive from the Greek event, which has been synthesized with the Hebraic in the form of that remarkable creation, "conscience"--the idea that what we do must be squared with some inscrutable "voice within" over and beyond what all the voices without are telling us.

And this leads us to the much maligned "modern individual," out there on the marketplace, who is in fact the pinnacle of these convergent developments. We can all represent ourselves through an unrepeatable and ever changing array of signs that can, in all their diversity, never exhaust or adequately portray what lies "behind" them; not only do we experience ouselves this way, be we feel obliged to treat others as if this were the case. We constantly renew our relation to the invisible while we prepare ourselves for various "exhibitions" and we insist upon the integrity of this articulation despite our inability to demonstrate it. This incomplete project, drawing upon our Athenian and Hebraic events and reconciling those events with the accelerating development of market society, the scientific and technological revolutions (all signs, when properly understood, of deferral and renunciation in the name of the future, the one none of us will ever see), this is our sacred, one eminently worth defending.

We can defend such a commitment unreservedly and we can apply it to this long and unpredictable conflict by untiringly insisting upon establishing new sites of symmetry and reciprocity where there is presently asymmetry and "unprocessed" resentment. We seek out opportunities for promising and making covenants, and we seek to prove ourselves worthy of receiving promises and being offered covenants in return. We insist upon transparency, and even that the watchers themselves be watched. We treat Islam as an argument about the most significant moral and anthropological questions, and we view each practicing Muslim as a example in that broader argument, which we engage as generously as possible while being unflinching in pointing out its weaknesses. We take those who declare themselves as our enemies at their word, and treat them accordingly. And we measure internal criticism in accord with the extent to which it works to persuade us to retrieve and renew the sources of our civilization, which must be the sources of those critiques themselves.
Well, taking on the responsibility to represent the sacred centre of our nation, through words and deeds, as our promise to help renew the national covenant of Canada, is what we do every Thursday at the library. All are welcome to join us, not least those still scratching their heads trying to figure out what is being argued through in the quotes above. Come, talk, and all will become clear through our faith in being and exchanging together. I promise.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Admiring the view

In Vancouver there are many fine locations to sit and watch the world go by. One of the more pleasant choices is surely Canada Place on Sunday mornings.
I've enjoyed many a brown-bagged lunch at this serene spot, watching sea planes and cruise ships and ocean-bound cargo ships make their way through the Burrard Inlet.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Le Pen speaks about Christianity, islam... and Dresden


Firebrand French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen was interviewed by the Christian publication La Croix this week, and reveals himself as somewhat equivocal about islam... and, it seems, nazis. [translations by myself]

...Le Pen states that “religions fill an irreplaceable role because they bring an element of stability to society"... “the decline of religious practice reinforces today a latent materialism, which no doubt explains the decadence of social behavior.”
Questioned on the trial of the mohammed caricatures published in Charlie Hebdo magazine, ... m. Le Pen suggests that “without a doubt, islam shows itself more reactive than the Christian religion does when it is mocked or maligned.”
“The islamic world seems more dreaded than is the Christian world. It is true that the islamic religion obeys a precept of conquest, which is no longer the case of the Christian religion”, he says.
He says also that “the dynamism of islam results less from its proselytizing than from demographic pressures. It naturally borrows the religious channel since this benefits from a certain complaisance or indulgence.”

“In any event, in France, the demands made for mosques are born from the considerable increase in the number of muslim immigrants, who are today approximately six million, it is said. Islam is dangerous when it is dominant”, he added.

The French christian blog Le Salon Beige highlights some further quotes from the same interview:

“[Islam] in its essence [has an] immense difficulty in separating [church and state]… secularism is the means to make common law respected by all religions… [While] some bend naturally, it is not the case with islam, which will no doubt need to be recalled to order.”


[Meanwhile Yahoo France selects Le Pen's answer to a question on the Sept 11 attacks for its lead: "Le Pen minimizes the Sept 11 attacks" ]

“3,000 deaths, that is as many as a month in Iraq” and “it is much less than the bombings of Marseille or of Dresden at the end of the Second World War.”
He suggests that these bombings “also were terrorist acts since they explicitly targeted civilian populations in order to make the military surrender.”

So the terror attacks on 9-11 are like the bombing of Dresden? What kind of ally will France remain for North America should we find this kind of relativism within its president?

From the interview I sense that Le Pen can clearly see the dangers of radical islam, but does not see them as present dangers. He seems to be saying that if things get out of hand we'll take care of the problem then... nothing that can't be solved. I shudder to think: what kind of "solution" could we expect from someone who sees the objective of liberating Europe from its Nazi death grip as of equal value as knocking over New York's World Trade Center?

A few months ago, Claude Reichman described the gloomy scenario that such extremist solutions are likely to lead to:

The real danger that France is courting is not the clash on the near horizon, but the state in which she will find herself when she gets out of it.
Our nation might just as well sink into a terrible civil war as give herself a new public-approved ruling class which will heave it outside the sinkhole it has fallen into.

Book 'em, Danno.


I'd rather read Milton-- I'd rather do my laundry than read about Islam. Such is not the lot of Dag. Yes, I do my laundry anyway; but rather than go through the spin cycle with Paradise Lost I read more of Islam's seminal texts and I quietly suffer the boredom. Here is a book I might look at when the chance arises. It's not all a wasteland, this study of the history of Islam. It ain't Milton, but it's better than nothing. It's also important to us if we care to know what we deal with in our modern times. We might care to be better informed than the girl at the bookstore who asked loudly if she could get a copy of "ORIENTALISM BY EDWARD SED!" She later told me that she knows all about the Zionists, and that I'm a racist. Live and learn.
****

In a prescient new book, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents, author Robert Irwin notes that "because of the possible offense to Muslim susceptibilities, Western scholars who specialize in the early history of Islam have to be extremely careful what they say, and some of them have developed subtle forms of double-speak when discussing contentious matters."

What goes for academia has been happening in a more dramatic fashion in the press, literature, and the creative arts, where death threats, death sentences, and actual murders of writers, artists, and intellectuals have taken a toll.

Bottom line: You can't talk about Islam, not really. Those transgressing are hounded like hunted animals...Islamic history is served up airbrushed in academia, and the result is a public denied knowledge....
info@defenddemocracy.org ****

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Almost 30 years ago, in his classic Orientalism, the late cultural critic Edward Said published a scathing denunciation of Oriental studies, blaming the field for the rise of Western imperialism and racist views about Arabs and other Eastern peoples. British historian Irwin (The Alhambra) fiercely condemns Said's misinterpretation, offering both a brilliant defense of Orientalism and a masterful intellectual history of the Orientalists and their work, which opened windows on the world of Asia in general and Islam in particular, providing the West with glimpses of the social and religious practices of these cultures. Irwin surveys the history of Orientalism from the Greeks through the Middle Ages to its height in the 18th and 19th centuries. He chronicles the lives and works of the men who introduced the ideas of Islamic and Asian culture to the West. Many of these men were biblical critics whose command of Hebrew allowed them to move easily to Arabic and to explore the Koran. In the 17th century, the dragomans, or translators, moved the study of Islam forward by providing translations of Turkish, Arabic and Persian texts. Irwin's wide-ranging study splendidly captures a time when intellectual polymaths traversed foreign territories in search of new and compelling ideas. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Knowledge-Orientalism-Its-Discontents/dp/158567835X
****

An amazon reviewer quotes a few lines from the following poem:

"The Golden Road to Samarkand" by James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915)

"We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand."
****

That alone made the review reading worthwhile.

Edward Sed. Will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut? Not likely. I'll be going on again at the atrium at VPL library this Thursday evening from 7-9:00 pm. So will others. Join us and let's talk about books and authors and ideas. I have lots to learn, and you can contribute if you care to. I look forward to it. I've even done my laundry just for your sake.

Photo:
Edward Said exercising his right to free speech by throwing a rock at Israeli soldiers on the border with Lebanon
www.campus-watch.org/pics.php
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Monday, February 19, 2007

Now reading: Mark Steyn's America Alone

Finally, after all these months, I can now sit back and read Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It.

I am tempted to jump right in with chapter six: "The Four Horsemen of the Eupocalypse: Eutopia vs Eurabia".

The ... [leafing through other chapters] actually, I don't think I'm going to be able to continue this post, I am far too excited by finally having this book in my hands.

See you tomorrow!

Christianity was the most murderous of the Western religions

Christians are the most murderous people on Earth in history, we all know. Yes, Hitler was a Christian, Genghis Khan was a Christian, so were Son of Sam and Osama bin Laden. Everybody knows it. One of the many reasons I'm no Christian is because I'm afraid the congregants will kill me just for the sake of fun or moral outrage of some kind or something, or you know, like something? 'Cause we all know how murderous Christians are, right?

Now if you don't believe that, then you must be some kind of dummy, not a philosopher like Ed Kent, a guy who actually knows stuff 'cause he read some books and is, like, smart, you know? And even if he writes incoherent assertions as if he has made a pointful statement, we should, like, dig it or something 'cause he, like, knows stuff. Like, WOW. Go for it, Ken.
****

Killing in the Name of Jesus?

This post was written by Ed Kent on 18 January, 2007 (05:19) | All News
[I had the good fortune to have spent 3 years studying theology between undergraduate and graduate years of training in philosophy. The experience taught me any number of things that most who claim to be religious believers simply do not know:

1) The prophetic tradition of the Hebrew bible again and again warned religious believers (Israel) against using Yahweh as an excuse for doing evil things. Read the prophets for yourself. Few do and most only get an occasional line or so used as the basis of a sermon. The Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) is the focus of attention for Jewish scholars.

2) Jesus of Nazareth was not calling for people to march off to war. That perversion entered into Christianity when it was coopted by Roman values — legalism and war as a means of imperial outreach. See St. Paul and particularly his Letter to the Romans for hate stuff directed against Jews, gays, women and a call for sycophantic obedience to any and all political authorities — no matter how brutal and corrupt.

3) Christianity was the most murderous of the Western religions — always marching off to war against Muslims and other Christians who disagreed with their particular slant, launching yet another pogrom against the Jews culminating in Hitler's Nazi Christian church Holocaust directed against Jews, gays, those with disabilities, et al.

Having really read the texts and followed the history in detail, I took a deep breath, saw that I could not join the cast of preachers claiming divine authority for their expostulations, and got back to philosophy. There I had the benefit of knowing the sources from which some of our unexamined philosophic value systems derived in the long standing theological tradition. Supererogatory acts are not necessarily not duties just because the Christian theologians divided off duties and saintly self-sacrifice. Our right wing Christian evangelicals and comparable sect religions ( e.g. the Mormons) are hung up on this distinction and opposed, therefore, to proper state provisions for the basic human needs — food, affordable education, universal medical care, adequate education for all.

I don't necessarily believe that it is irrational to believe in a benign divinity hiding out beyond the skin and shell of things, but with all the horrors of the world I have serious doubts about the odds of this claim. It would be nice, were it true, but what you see is probably what you've got. Make the best of it while you can! Ed Kent]

http://www.bloggernews.net/13940

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I think Ed Kent is likely a typical educated Western post-modernist liberal. I think Ed Kent's opinion is likely typical of roughly half the population of America today.

I'm no Christian but I do read the Bible on occasion. At this time in my life I should have earned the luxury of time to study Milton. It's not to be. For relief I read Psalms.

Psalms 6:

2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Psalms 89:

46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?
48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

Psalms 101:

1 I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.

Granted I'm not deeply studied in Christian theology. Still, I feel that I'm cheated when I read commentary from those experts who criticise Christianity as above. I'm willing to say there is no need to study some things, such as the options of the Melians. Sometimes study is a fatal thing. Sometimes study is the only hope of salvation. When Milton quotes Satan in Paradise Lost we can learn from this dubious battle, from such study in revenge.

105: What though the field be lost?
106 All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
107 And study of revenge, immortal hate,
108 And courage never to submit or yield:
109 And what is else not to be overcome?
110 That Glory never shall his wrath or might
111 Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
112 With suppliant knee, and deifie his power,
113 Who from the terrour of this Arm so late
114 Doubted his Empire, that were low indeed,
115 That were an ignominy and shame beneath
116 This downfall; since by Fate the strength of Gods
117 And this Empyreal substance cannot fail,
118 Since through experience of this great event
119 In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanc't,
120 We may with more successful hope resolve
121 To wage by force or guile eternal Warr
122 Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
123 Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
124 Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav'n.

I don't know obvious things, seemingly, like the problem people have with the Melian Dialogue. I miss the point of Ed Kent's deep study of Christian theology. I miss the sympathy some many have for Milton's Satan. Thucyidides presents lucid studies in politics, and Milton equally lessons in morality. Between the two I draw conclusions: that I'm a fascist.

Too bad for me that I'm not a clever thinker like Ed Kent and the other half of America and the modern Western population.
Christians are the most murderous people on Earth in history. Oh well. Since I seem to have some time,

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Canuckistan

Licia Corbella in the Calgary Sun:
In the news business, it's called burying the lead.

It means you missed the most important or interesting part of a story and led with something less significant.

On Feb. 13, the CBC published and aired the results of an Environics poll, which on their website was billed as "Glad to be Canadian, Muslims say."

Apparently "more than 80% of Canada's roughly 700,000 Muslims are broadly satisfied with their lives here."

That's a nice and cuddly kind of story, but hardly surprising. I've been to Afghanistan -- where many of Canada's latest Muslim population comes from -- and even the upper-middle class in Afghanistan live in difficult conditions.
[...]
Waaaay down in the online CBC story about this poll is the news that when "asked about the arrests last summer of the 18 Muslim men and boys who were allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario, 73% of Muslim respondents said these attacks were not at all justified." That portion of the poll ended there. No more details. Why? The Environics website made no mention about this portion of the poll either.

However, on CBC's The National television program on the same day, this part of the poll was fleshed-out and the results are alarming.

Fully 12% of Muslim Canadians polled by Environics said the alleged terrorist plot -- that included kidnapping and beheading the prime minister and blowing up Parliament and the CBC -- was justified.

Predictably, the CBC managed to find a talking head -- in this case York University sociology professor Haideh Moghissi -- who dismissed this disturbing revelation.

"It's really negligible that 12 percent feel that the attacks would be justified," said Moghissi. "I don't think it even warrants attention."

Clearly, other news agencies and those who put the poll results on the CBC website agree with Moghissi.

But just how "negligible" is 12% of 700,000 people.

Well, if Moghissi knew arithmetic like she knows denial, she'd know if this poll is accurate, 84,000 Canadian Muslims think it's justifiable to behead our democratically elected prime minister and blow up the very symbol and centre of our democracy!

The Environics poll interviewed 500 Canadian Muslims and 2,045 members of the general population between Nov. 30 and Jan. 5 and is said to be accurate within 4.4 percentage points with regard to the Muslim respondents and 2.2 points with the larger sample group 19 times out of 20
[...]
In other words, the Environics poll indicates anywhere between 49,000 to 84,000 Muslim Canadians likely would view attacks on our oilsands development justifiable, and if that's the case, it's safe to assume some portion of those tens of thousands of people might be prone to carrying out such an attack.

We already know calls to martyrdom and jihad have been made from Canadian mosques, including one in B.C. and the one in Ontario the 18 alleged wanna-be beheaders attended. It's safe to assume there are more.

But, hey, this is Canada, where in the interest of political correctness and fear of offending, the lead on these kinds of stories gets buried and our heads remain planted where there is no illumination and therefore, no truth.
What, of course, the poll does not ask Canadian Muslims is, when is violent Jihad justified, if ever? and, if push ever comes to shove, is your ultimate loyalty to the Umma and to dreams of a renewed Islamic Caliphate, or to the Western-led global free market system that maximizes human reciprocity and the freedom to criticize anachronistic forms of the sacred?

I find it a little disconcerting that we still have MSM columnists writing breathlessly that calls for martyrdom and jihad can be heard in Canadian mosques! Do they think any of these are places where, say, Israel and America are treated with reverence or at least the honesty and respect that is their due, and that Canada will remain beyond reproach in mosques and Islamic centres as long as we have a Prime Minister who promotes our friendship with those two countries and leads us to war in Afghanistan? Does Ms. Corbella have any reason to disagree with her colleague, Spengler of the Asia Times, that Jihad is a sacrament that is as central to Islam as Holy Communion to Catholics, and that if many Muslims are themselves unwilling to act violently in the name of Jihad, they would have a hard time completely disowning sympathy for the idea in some situations, given the prevalence of representations of Jihad as violent in Islamic holy texts?

Surely it is better for all concerned if a frank and honest debate on such issues is conducted sooner rather than later in this country, that all Muslim leaders be asked, insistently, to show beyond reasonable doubt that in this country there is a coherent and widely followed Islamic theology that has broken with violent Jihad and with Islam's traditional assimilation of politics and religion. If that can't be done, Muslim immigration needs to be restricted, and mosques and other Islamic centres need to be licensed, regulated, and in some cases shut down. But for that to happen, we might first have to retire the CBC and sundry academic apologists for the more violent forms of sacrality, both Islamic and secular leftist.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Frank Talk on Reichman TV

Claude Reichman speaking at last weekend's public gathering of France's Blue Revolution movement, in Paris.


For over a year we have been meeting and organizing ourselves among other bloggers worldwide, inspired by the movement begun in France in November 2005, by French economist/broadcaster Claude Reichman. It was our weekly gatherings that last April led to us trying to focus our efforts through this blog, Covenant Zone.
Last November we reported that Reichman had been suddenly and unceremoniously removed from his long-running radio program at Radio Courtoisie. For those who, like myself, dearly miss Reichman's inspirational and informative bi-weekly 2-and-a-half-hour radio broadcasts, we can now sink our teeth into a wonderful new substitute: lengthy video discussions between Reichman and fellow Blue Revolutionaries, Gerard Pince and Jean-Christophe Mounicq.

Their debut broadcast, available at ReichmanTV here, offers admittedly humble production values, but who cares when it also offers the eloquent Claude Reichman as the moderator for such a candid and thorough round table discussion on the current French presidential campaign, and the economic state of the nation soon to select a new leader.

The analysis, as ever with Reichman, is thought-provoking. Let’s hope that the French people, lulled into apathetic inertia by the illusory mask their mainstream media places over the dire economic and social straights the nation finds itself in, are not too far gone that their thoughts can still be provoked in the first place. There needs to be a revolution of thinking in many parts of the western world, a renewing of commitment to the project of western civilization, a restating of our liberties and a clarification of the west’s obligations for safeguarding their furtherance.

Citizens of France, turn off the delusions being fed to you by that mediocre state-run television edifice so responsible for prolonging your misery, and turn on this new stream of information and analysis: ReichmanTV!

http://www.reichmantv.com/

Saturday Seaside Serenity

What would we become, if we were denied a day each week to relax, recharge and renew, in preparation for the anguishing week to come. I spent my saturday seeking serenity by the seashore... and found it in satisfying servings.

Our covenant will take the shape of the network and reciprocity we are building, step by step, today...

Michael T. sent along this story (available only by canada.com subscription) by Trevor Wilhelm from the January 29 Windsor Star. It is framed as a wake-up call to Canadians about terrorists in our midsts. What I found interesting was the assumption made about how our country can wake up:
Canada is vulnerable to a host of terrorist threats, and is a safe haven for terrorists and war criminals because authorities blind themselves to the dangers, according to a top jihad expert.

Thomas Quiggin, a former RCMP intelligence expert and Canada's only court-recognized jihad authority, said Canadians will remain vulnerable to political and religious extremists until their government develops a better approach to dealing with them.

"Secrecy is the ally of the terrorist and the criminal," said Quiggin, also a Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security in Singapore. "Knowledge is the great asset to the government and Canadian citizens, yet our federal government agencies insist on retreating from any public debate on the issues and they wrap themselves in a useless and self-defeating cloak of secrecy."
[...]
"Canada has been and remains a safe haven for terrorists, war criminals and those who have committed crimes as serious as genocide," he said. "Until we decide as a country to take an all-of-government approach to solving our problems, we remain vulnerable to a host of these threats."

Quiggin said Canada has no national strategic view and no "horizon scanning" program to detect new threats.

"The only force that can prevail in the face of such threats is knowledge," said Quiggin. "What is most stunning, however, is the near total lack of knowledge of the problem in the federal government and the lack of any attempt to get there."

Melisa Leclerc, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, said the government has made several strides in the fight against terrorism.

She pointed out that last June, authorities nabbed people allegedly plotting southern Ontario terror attacks.

Leclerc added that the government put the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) on its list of terrorist entities.

In the 2006 budget, she said, the Conservative government committed $1.4 billion over two years for national security and community safety, and $160 million to hire 1,000 new RCMP officers.

But Quiggin, who recently finished a conference with speakers including the former head of MI-6 and the New York City Police Department's deputy commissioner, said other jurisdictions take a far more progressive and effective approach.

He said his institute in Singapore has more than 100 full-time staff and a list of world class experts who visit on a rotating basis. New York police --"one of the shining examples of how to attack this type of problem" -- has 24 full-time analysts dealing with terrorism, he said.
In a country and government that has built itself for a long generation now on myths of multiculturalism - on the false idea that a nation does not have to have a particular cultural or historical and political character, beyond its embrace of some culturally and religiously neutral liberalism and of some regime of human rights, that it does not have to have particular kinds of enemies in the world - it is not surprising to hear someone's opinion that Ottawa is frozen and incapable of responding seriously to the terrorist threat which, with all due respect to the Tamil tigers and others, is for us and our American friends whom we possibly endanger, almost entirely a Jihadist threat. How, for example, could an honest discussion of the fundamental role that violent Jihad plays in Islamic holy texts be taken on by a government that welcomes Muslim immigrants, pious or not, to Canada on the same terms as all others and that seeks out some necessarily under-conceived "moderate" Muslim consultation on many matters of policy. Even as the Department of Foreign Affairs recognizes the Umma as a political reality, and seeks out the advice of Canadian Muslims on how to relate to it, we are sold the dubious idea that "moderate" Muslims are fundamentally on our side and not in any way sympathetic to those "extremists" who perform Jihad around the world in the name of the Umma.

Given this, why would someone like Quiggin be surprised that we have no national strategic view or knowledge of Islam, and of its political imperialism, in the federal government? or, more to the point, why does he think we can take an "all-of-government approach" to the terrorist problem?

In an ideal world, all of our government would be knowledgeable and on the side of defending Western and Canadian culture and its particular history. But we don't live in that world and won't for the foreseeable future. This means that Canadians inside and out of government who have some knowledge and understanding of the jihad problem have to do more than they already do to grow informal networks that circumvent the old-school power nodes that don't want to face up to hard realities because they are immersed in the politics of white guilt and the consequent myths of multiculturalism. Just as people increasingly go to the internet for analysis and opinion that the Mainstream Media does not provide, the new covenant between the Canadian people and the crown in parliament, will first emerge not from leadership at the top commanding an "all-of-government" approach, but informally through connections made among people who know what is going on and take it as a matter of honour and responsibility to do something about it to help their nation learn and respond effectively and in a way that shows honour and respect to all Muslims for what they are (even if that is only our enemy) and not for what some ideological fancy wants the followers of Mohammed, that great warrior, to be.

Increasingly, our established elites in all fields of politics and government are showing their lack of attachment to reality, stuck as they are in decaying modes of filtering information and analysis; and the solution will be for ordinary, informed, people in all positions of life to look out, in the spirit of Flight 93 on 9/11, for opportunities where they can take charge of a problem or unfolding event and covenant with others, creating new actions, feedback mechanisms, and means of screening and publicly analyzing information, so that our nation starts seriously to mediate reality despite the inertia of entrenched interests. Instead of wasting energies trying to tear down all the old school's houses, let's just forget the arrogant elites, leave them to their fantasies and endless conferences, while those who can and those who know seek out ways to network by just doing our jobs so as to shape and open windows on reality, by trading information, opinion, and support wherever we can. Time is short today, and while this networking is already what some people are doing, we hope to have more thoughts on how to do this in future posts.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Caeser and the Coolness of Stones.

[I]t seems to me that the there are many furious Brits out there who are ready to explain things the bricks-and-baseball-bats way to the Muslim recalcitrants, judging by all the comments on U.K. blogs and news sites. Phew! The rage I sense is positively volcanic. The working and middle classes are joining the far-right, white nationalist British National Party in droves. When civil war in the U.K. begins, what will other Western countries do? (a) Take in the Muslim refugees and exacerbate the Muslim problem in their own countries or (b) hang them out to dry and risk starting nasty civil wars in their own countries between the naive left-wing do-gooders and Muslim fifth columnists on the one hand and the anti-illegal immigration, anti-Muslim camp on the other hand?

Sunday, February 04, 2007 8:53:12 PM

http://ibloga.blogspot.com/2007/02/articles-and-bricks.html

****

When we look at the number of people who can organise their personal lives well enough to go to the public library for a couple of hours once a week to talk about the threat of jihadi Islam it's too obvious that fewer still will find the means or the will to do anything like riot in the streets and act out violent phantasies against those who might or might not be Muslims.

Even in a full-blown riot, according to my sources, only one in ten will actively participate in the action itself. Riots are not a big concern to us at this time. Not yet, but what about when they are? Then what are you going to do? It'll be too late when one in ten people is out on the streets rioting and destroying and killing. Your finer feelings might well be offended, and so what? What are you going to do now to make sure the innocent are left in peace tomorrow? Those who do nothing now are creating a vacuum for the demagogues some of us complain of now, and they aren't even ready yet to do their damage. They will be. They will come, and they will kill. Friend, you can take partial credit for that when it comes if you do nothing now to prevent it. People are angry, and if no one acts now to guide the wrath of the people constructively in the future, the future is murder. Don't bother washing your hands.

The simple question we all ask is "What is to be done?"

And the worst question, as simple perhaps, is "Who is to do?"

Our Rational law makes our civil societies civilized. If we lose our civility because we refused to be rational, then we will suffer and the innocent around us too will suffer. Try fixing it after the fact.

We can, and we must, if we are moral, rational and decent people, prevent the murderous from taking our right place as leaders of Modernity. Our Modernity is participatory and egaitarian, democratic. If you throw that away, others will take your place and throw bombs instead. You won't come away unharmed, if only because you will forever live in shame.

What great thing must we do to prevent maniacs from going postal in our democracies? We must sit in libraries and talk to each other openly in public. We must do as our French friends do: We must meet to show our public animousity toward dhimitude and jihad and sharia.

For some it's partly a matter of machismo that brings a man to the public table, he being willing to risk the danger of possible attack from jihadis and Left fascists, perhaps more likely the simple scorn of ones neighbours who conform to the dhimmitude of our time. For most of us it's simpler, the doing of the right. And for at least some it must be a matter of prudence: thaat to do nothing will give rein to the crazies who will destroy randomly in an orgy of unrestrained nihilism when they get they chance. And some refuse to move because they are cowards. They will die.

CAESAR.

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

My friends are dying of heart attaks in offices. They're as dead as heroes.

Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.--

Too many fear they'll die of embarrassment if they show up at our library meetings, preferring instead to live in fear at home in the dark to die in offices in the morning later.

CAESAR.
The gods do this in shame of cowardice:
Caesar should be a beast without a heart,
If he should stay at home today for fear.
No, Caesar shall not: danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he:
We are two lions litter'd in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible;
And Caesar shall go forth.

—William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii,)

Caesar will come, and he won't be the nice guys we are if we don't take his place and make our democracies strong enough to resist his calls to madness. Stand up and sit down. Even the French so many despise know that much-- and they act. It's amny yeaars since I studied Camus, but I do recall this:

"It is better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees."

Albert Camus.

We will let our democracies go to the demagogues if we sit in the dark doing nothing but nothing at all. If we lose our laws wed will be no better than the Muslims and the left dhimi fascists we fight. go to your library and sit with your friennds and show yourselves to the world. Stand up and sit down before there is nothing left but hate and smoke.

Nothing discourages thought so much as this perpetual blue sky. Here any exertion is impossible, so closely does pleasure follow desire. Surrounded by splendour and death, I feel happiness too constant. I lie down in the middle of the day to deceive the dreary prospect of time and its intolerable leisure. I keep here, look! some white pebbles that I leave in the shade to steep, then I hold them a long time in the palm of my hand, till the soothing coolness they've borrowed is ... used up. Then I begin again, alterenating stones, putting them back in the shade the ones whose coolness has been exhausted. That's how the time passes, and evening comes....

Andre Gide, The Immoralist. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage; 1970, p. 170.

Gide is French too.

Local library, Thursday evening, 7-9 p.m. Be there-- or lie in the shade.