Part of the Agenda

Monday, July 10, 2006
This observation is not unique to me, but when I saw a story about Arab MK (Member of Knesset): 'I Advised PA to Kidnap Soldier', I thought again about part of the Islamist agenda, namely to turn democracy upside down and inside out. If this member of the Knesset can call for such actions against Israel and suffer no repercussions, then democracy moves one step closer to being the proverbial suicide pact. Not only are we wrestling with holding ourselves to the Geneva Conventions but not the enemy, but I think the Islamists desire to show that democracy doesn't work, that it is self destructive as an institution.

It is an "interesting" time. The Frisch episode with Protein Wisdom reveals how even the behavior of highly educated people can illustrate how fragile what we call "civilization" is. Surely, highly educated people, who live in freedom with the wealth of protections and advantages that our country provides, have an obligation to hold themselves to a different standard than child molesters.

The Kos Kidz pounce upon Lieberman with a vengence, even though having a Republican Senator represent Connecticut would be far worse for their agenda (notwithstanding Kos telling Tim Russert they'll support the Dems in November). This is partly politics as usual (Tocqueville was amazed at the viciousness of American politics before the election and the Americans going about their business aspect of the culture after the election). But that was referring to opposing parties. Today we face hightened intensity within the parties, e.g., immigration reform. To some extent, this is healthy. Important issues should be argued passionately. At what point does healthy debate morph into some kind of sickness? Individaully, we probably all have our markers for this. But does the culture? Can democracies, as a whole, maintain such "sickness" indicators in the New World?

23 comments:

David Thomson said...

“The Firsch episode with Protein Wisdom reveals how even the behavior of highly educated people can illustrate how fragile what we call "civilization" is.”

But these individuals are not highly educated. They are pseudo educated people who never learned how to think and follow a logical argument. How do they “earn” their advanced degrees? This is a real easy question to answer: they merely have to slut on behalf the leftist zeitgeist.

Barry Dauphin said...

David,

I checked the Arizona website to see what she was teaching. It wasn't entirely clear, but it appeared that she was involved in teaching aspects of research methods. In other words, independent variables, dependent variables, research design, methodology, etc. Not really crypto-left wingery. Pretty dry stuff overall, and very logic based. Nonetheless, I understand what you are saying and there is something to it. Still, most (even soft science) people don't earn Ph.D.s and become adjuncts at state universities willy nilly. Part of my post is to suggest that civilization, as we know it, is fragile. I don't think Frisch is stupid, nor is she really uneducated. I'm not suggesting that she was some heretofore paragon, far from it. Even many hard science profs are periously close to moonbat territory. I grant your point but think it is more complex than that.

Rick Ballard said...

DT,
C'mon - you have to break down and buy a finer brush, you're covering up too much of the canvas with a single stroke. I would agree that her possession of a PhD raises some questions concerning the screening methodology of the department which granted it but it wasn't the hoops that she had to jump through that made her nuts. She was an almond tree in August from the get go. The indoctrination probably didn't help but I'd bet she was worthy of clinical observation on day one as an undergraduate.

Barry,

You're reference to Toqueville makes me wonder if we're not seeing a return to norm rather than some sort of descent into madness. How much of the 'civility' in common discourse over the past hundred years is a function of the illusion that newspapers presented an objective view of reality? How much of today's incivility is a reaction on the part of people who finally have a method with which to respond to a hundred years of agitprop? And alternatively, how much of the incivility is due to the other sides frustration at the loss of their precious authority?

Syl said...

Hey guys, please. Take comfort in the fact we're not as 'bad' as the Arab world with their honor and tribalism.

Hope you all caught the link from Instapundit to Iraq the Model today. He deomnstrates (through translated postings at the BBC arabic forum which he frequently clues us in to) that the Iraqis are actually maturing politically--in stark contrast to their neighbors.

Makes me wonder if perhaps we're too far from our own freedom revolution. There is simply too much we take for granted. Whereas the Iraqi's see the futility and stupidity of the jihadi movement's resistance in general--a movement which is killing them for just being there.

This has always been the reason, for me, to remove Saddam and stay to ensure a democracy gets going. The ensuing marginalization of the jihadi movement by the Iraqi people.

It's happening folks. Right before our very eyes. If we bother to look.

Skookumchuk said...

Barry:

Can democracies, as a whole, maintain such "sickness" indicators in the New World?

As noted above, she was clearly a macadamia in May, and we can't really base our sense of civilizational fragility on her example alone. Or her type alone.

Americans as a whole know that democracy is not a suicide pact. Western elites however may not, or may be powerless to keep the democracy from degenerating into such a pact.

In a variation of William F. Buckley's famous observation about preferring to be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty, I thought the other day that I could come up with a list of 100 people I know to whom I would rather entrust legislative decisions than to the US Senate. Not because I'm stacking the deck with people of similar political philosophy (though beign human I am), but simply because I know them as people and know their values well enough to trust them.

It all depends on how long the War goes on. If it lasts as long as I think it will - the rest of the century - then the character of our elites must change in fundamental ways if we are to win, perhaps even just survive. We must have elites that are non-suicidal, for starters, which means they must have values broadly consonant with our own.

They are elites simply because we consider them as such. It is a two-way street. Thus on the bright side, their pedestals are being chipped away bit by bit each day. And they are quite naturally terrified. They are terrified because we are challenging them and winning. And being children of the 60's, they are terribly fragile and impressionable.

I don't think we will commit suicide. Not here in America, anyway.

Skookumchuk said...

Right by my keyboard is a handwritten list on an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper:

Brazil nut
walnut
cashew
hazelnut
peanut
macadamia

"macadamia" is underlined.

Syl said...

"macadamia" is underlined.

macadamia: A Steve Jobs cultist who teaches sociology?

chuck said...

How much of today's incivility is a reaction on the part of people who finally have a method with which to respond to a hundred years of agitprop?

The country changed on Black Friday. The Rooseveltian consensus has held sway ever since and only now is it under challenge. Lest you point to Reagan, he was in my opinion a continuation of an older form of Roosevelt's revolution.

The big question I ask myself is how Roosevelt's works are under challenge now? I don't see it, Bush is hardly a revolutionary. What I think is happening is that the left, who were but one part of the Rooseveltian coalition, have since 1968 been slowly taking over the Democratic party as the old leaders retired and a new generation grew into power. I think what we are looking at is the shredding of the Democratic party, not the rise of something really different on the Republican side.

Skookumchuk said...

Syl:

Makes me wonder if perhaps we're too far from our own freedom revolution. There is simply too much we take for granted.

I have heard this from so many immigrants, people in my own family among them, so many times that I've lost count. I think though that at some level collectively we do recognize this. It may be what pulls us through.

David Thomson said...

“I don't think we will commit suicide. Not here in America, anyway.”

That is because we have the First Amendment---and the Republican Party dominates our political landscape. Thankfully, the odds are against the Democrats capturing the White House anytime in the near future. A GOP president is unlikely to appoint judges who will weaken our right to free speech. But what if a Democrat does win? In that case, it might be best to kiss your rear end goodbye. The Democrats and their disingenuous pacifism will get us killed.

Skookumchuk said...

Chuck:

I think what we are looking at is the shredding of the Democratic party, not the rise of something really different on the Republican side.

I have thought the same many times. But none of us can quite visualize an opposition to this "Republican side".

David:

The Democrats and their disingenuous pacifism will get us killed.

True. It could happen. But once Houston or Milwaukee goes up in a freball, there would be no more Democrats. Not of the present-day moonbattish variety anyway.

I wasn't really a Democrat, it's just that my relatives all were and the teacher's union pressured us to vote that way. I never advocated any policies that would weaken us in the War on Terror. Really.

Seneca the Younger said...

Even many hard science profs are periously close to moonbat territory.

Okay, this is really unnerving.

I used to work for #8.

#6 is an old friend, and sometime co-author.

I think I'm going to go lay down.

David Thomson said...

“but it appeared that she was involved in teaching aspects of research methods. In other words, independent variables, dependent variables, research design, methodology, etc. Not really crypto-left wingery.”

You’ve admittedly got a point. Nonetheless, most academics are liberals. Those of a more conservative bent are obviously marginalized---and encouraged to find employment elsewhere.

Seneca the Younger said...

The country changed on Black Friday. The Rooseveltian consensus has held sway ever since and only now is it under challenge. Lest you point to Reagan, he was in my opinion a continuation of an older form of Roosevelt's revolution.

Black Friday?

Rick Ballard said...

StY,

The Crash. FDR won etc.

Chuck,

My point on agitprop involved socialism rather than the Democrats per se, not that there's much space between them on some days. I agree with you that shredding of the Democratic party is what is going on and I certainly agree that the Reps are continually being tugged, if not to FDR's positions, certainly to Kennedy's.

Skookumchuk said...

Seneca:

I think I'm going to go lay down.

"Deformation professionelle", as they say. It happens to all of us. All of us. I recommend a road trip and some new friends.

chuck said...

I used to work for #8. #6 is an old friend, and sometime co-author.

Stay away from those philosophers, guy. Didn't your mom teach you anything?

Seneca the Younger said...

Stay away from those philosophers, guy. Didn't your mom teach you anything?

Well, she taught me that Choctaw indians can't handle their liquor.

Barry Dauphin said...

I listed Frisch as an example because she is simply recent. I think there are a bazillion other examples. It was really the totally seditious ranting of the Knesset member that got me thinking. I believe that American democracy is robust and tolerant of these battles being waged. But democracy is threatened unless there are other democracies, and the Euros are slowly whithering into oldsters who keep the young from working while demanding vacations until grave.

I believe that Rick is onto something important about more people now having more power to express themselves. It is a wonderful thing in many ways. But it is also like bull riding. We need to find the way to stay on it, so it doesn't trample us. And, no, I don't mean more government intervention. I mean some cultural common ground or agreed upon ground rules.

Yet I think what I am trying to get at goes beyond the obnoxious case of Frisch and the internet. It involves the possible permanence of this struggle. In other words, to update Tocqueville: will we go back to business as usual after the election, or will we have a Moore vs. Coulter worldview Battle Royale in the culture at large with shrill constancy? I'm not suggesting some rosy view of the past (I sure don't want party bosses deciding candidates).

Barry Dauphin said...

StY

#9 is in bioengineering, not exactly "Postcolonial Influences on Emily Dickinson Critics and and their Imperialist, Supply-side, Oppressive Ideologies"

Rick Ballard said...

Barry,

As far as I can see, there are a couple things going on at the same time. The big change in politics that I can point to is the "War Room" concept that may have existed prior to '92 but was not publicly glorified - that led to the neverending campaign. The Reps hopped right into it and Gingrich fanned the flames into a fire that has yet to burn out. I believe that it will but I can't say when. The second thing is the development of "rules of conduct" that are slowly developing on the internet. I look at that as being somewhat similiar to the period from '05-'20 when rules concerning driving were being developed. Which side do you pass on? Who has right of way? When is a full stop required? The "rules of the road" came into being before the laws codifying them were ever passed. There will never be a legal codification of general behavior on the internet but I do believe that "rules of the road" are slowly coming into being. I know that some guidelines for conduct came into being during the usernet time frame but I also know that not that many people are aware of them.

An interesting evolutionary process, hopefully completed within the next ten years or so.

chuck said...

Black Friday?

Ok, point taken. Looks like it should have been Black Thursday (when stocks prices collapsed by 50%), or Black Tuesday (following week, when prices *really* collapsed). Lets see, from Wikipedia,

The Dow was 381.17 on September 3, 1929.
It bottomed out way below that:
The resulting low of 41.22 on July 8th, 1932

Wow. And here is a tidbit.

At 1:00pm, several leading Wall Street bankers met to find a solution. The group included Thomas W. Lamont, acting head of Morgan Bank; Albert Wiggin head of the Chase National Bank; and Charles E. Mitchell, president of National City Bank.

Thomas Lamont is the great grandfather of Ned Lamont, who is running against Lieberman. Ah, the small world of the Rich and Famous.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Thomas Lamont is the great grandfather of Ned Lamont, who is running against Lieberman. Ah, the small world of the Rich and Famous.

And isn't it interesting how all these scions of wealthy families whose wealth goes back forever are all Democrats now? They're all following the Roosevelt model—accumulate vast wealth and then pretend to care for the poor by spending the money of all the nouveau riche. The money that you tax away. Have you ever wondered why there's an all-intrusive income tax but not a wealth tax? It's a double benefit for entrenched wealth because they can salve their own consciences by pretending to care about the most downtrodden while simultaneously knocking all those parvenu upper middle class types for a loop as they try to climb up the last few rungs.

Did this model originate with Roosevelt? I'm not sure but can't think of any earlier American antecedents. It is this Rooseveltian model which is the more important one—far more important in a land of trust-funders than the New Deal coalition—which I do not see going away anytime in the foreseeable future.