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Why "Idiotarianism"? Why Now?

| 50 Comments | 5 TrackBacks

My "Idiotarianism: Exhibit #24,349" article earlier today generated some interesting commentary, and a worthy question.

Ross of Perfidity.org finds the term overused, and I'm seeing more discomfort with it these days from the left. To which I reply in French: tant pis (too bad). The term is very useful, precisely because it calls attention to the growing neo-fascist/neo-marxist/Islamist nexus of sympathy, mutual justification, and joint action so vividly demonstrated in that neo-nazi spam's URL collection.

Don't believe me? Then you need to read Belmont Club's "Decline and Fall" (of the European Left) right now - and not just for the T.S. Eliot poetry. Read it for his account of The European Left taking the first steps toward being hollowed out by Islamists, and for predictions of a takeover trend that has historical parallels and makes both political and demographic sense.

Which brings us to Robin Roberts' question: Why? Why all of them? Why now? What's the attraction in these supposedly incompatible visions? I think it's simple...

They're united by a desire to shoot the same messenger.

Staring at their shattered idols, they all blame the same set of demons for the destruction of their gods: capitalism, modernity, the bourgeois mentality. And what do you get when you cross all 3? Symbolically, you get Jews... and you get America.

If they could but kill their god's destroyers, perhaps their gods could live again and fulfill the glorious prophecies foretold. The prophecies they were cheated out of. As I said in an April 19, 2002 exchange with MuslimPundit:

"A culture that sees nothing new in the world beyond the idols of its doctrine can only lash out in rage when those idols are cracked. For those idols carry their very identity, and the loss of identity leads inexorably to violence. This characteristic is not unique to Islam, and can just as easily be seen on any "progressive" university campus.

Which brings up an interesting point. Until now, conservatives have seen the (one way) sympathy and winking between the university's radical left and Islamist jihadists as ideological in nature: a pinch of Marxism, 2 tablespoons of reflexive anti-colonialism, a quart of victimization politics as a sop to the failure of their doctrines to create anything but brutal slums and pest-holes.

Maybe we were wrong. Maybe the real bond is not ideological, but cultural in nature. Facing their cracked idols, lashing out at the common messenger of their failure, these two movements agree only to borrow what they can from each other in order to wound the common object of their hate. America is surely the most prominent messenger. Israel, with no oil but a per capita purchasing power twice that of Saudi Arabia, is another."

Instapundit notes that this may not be the wisest choice of enemies. To which I reply: neither wisdom nor rationality are part of this equation.

Trent Telenko notes, correctly, that the most reliable covariant around the world for unreasoning hatred of America is becoming anti-Semitism - and vice versa. And so we watch as fascism, the radical left, and Islamism all meld together in an ooze of apologetics for murder and rabid denunciation of their common enemy.

Hence, "idiotarianism." That its proponents are largely immune or even ideologically hostile to rational thought is demonstrated, clearly, every day.

Are you paying attention? You should be. Know thine enemy, and learn to recognize them. They certainly recognize their enemies, and in case y'all hadn't noticed, we're it. Worse, there's nothing we can do to change that, short of adopting their Marxist or Islamofacist theocracy. Nothing. Which leaves us with just one option: win.

Pointing this out hardly cheapens discourse. Indeed, it's essential to intelligent discussion of what we're seeing.

Besides which, I love the label. It fits. Especially after we've spent the last 70 years demonstrating and documenting the inevitable trail of futility and poverty, and the oceans of blood these ideologies have left are everywhere they've been tried. In the 1930s, one might (barely) have had ignorance as a valid defense. No longer.

As we've been reminded on 9/11 and since, these ideas have real-world consequences.

Defeating and discrediting these ideas and those who promulgate them, and winning what Armed Liberal calls "The War on Bad Philosophy," is as important as any military action in the War on Terror. Maybe more so, if you're thinking on a civilizational scale.

I know which side of that fight I'm on. How about you?

--- UPDATES ---

  • Inoperable Terran suggests the term "Axis of Dumbass." Objectively true, but insufficiently catchy.

See also...

  • Activism's Onanist Fantasy Ideology. Committed leftists critique the current strain of "activism as ritual worship," disengaged from any connection to actual results. It's part of the cocktail, and the ritual worship parallels strengthen this post's thesis.
  • James C. Bennett, UPI (April 12/03) - Anglosphere: why do they hate us? "it is worth considering the possibility that the root source of anti-Americanism in the world lies in the deep-rooted anti-modern tradition of Continental Europe...." Also discusses the historic role of Jews in continental European culture, their status as a bellweather, and the effects of their current absence.

5 TrackBacks

Tracked: December 3, 2003 12:09 AM
Idiotarianism from Inoperable Terran
Excerpt: Joe Katzman has a brilliant post that cuts through the new Marxist/Islamist/Fascist "Axis of Dumbass"....
Tracked: December 3, 2003 4:09 AM
Peace Movements and Palestine from porphyrogenitus.net
Excerpt: So, herein is one of the posts I intended to write several weeks ago, but never got around to. A few weeks ago Nelson Ascher wrote a post onthe future of Palestine, and someone else had written me a e-mail
Tracked: December 3, 2003 6:39 AM
Defending terminology from Shameless Self-Promotion
Excerpt: There's a great post over at Windsofchange.net (it's dot com!) explaining why the term "idiotarian" is still very applicable to those who attack our war on Islamofascism. I've read responses from (mainly) leftists that range from mild critiques of the...
Tracked: December 3, 2003 5:27 PM
Slippage and drift from Ministry of Minor Perfidy
Excerpt: My coblogger Ross has a comment at Winds of Change regarding a post in which Joe Katzman uses the word "idiotarian." Go read for background-- I'll wait. Ross' comment was, to wit, "I am growing a little tired of the word "Idiotarian". I know it's fu...
Tracked: December 4, 2003 6:12 AM
Shiny Red Button Worship from Ministry of Minor Perfidy
Excerpt: I bow down to all you badass motherf@#$@rs. The kick'em in the teeth crowd; the take-no-shit crowd; the make-me-a-sandwich boys. You own the playground. You can tape signs on the backs of the nerds. Then you grow up. You work in a gas station. ...

50 Comments

I agree that fringes on the left and right share some things in common; indeed, I often think of the ideological continuum as a nearly-closed circle--go far enough around, and the far left meets the far right.

Do you know of any statistics on the rise of anti-Semitism?

>And so it is that the most reliable covariant
>around the world in those with an unreasoning
>hatred of America is becoming anti-Semitism
>and vice versa. Even as fascism, the radical
>left, and Islamism all meld together in an ooze
>of apologetics for murder and rabid denunciation
>of their common enemy.

I'm glad to see you finally got here Joe. I've been here for a while.

You are not going to like some of the other places I've been, and you are going to travel too, before this war is over.

Some of Den Beste's latest conversations on the "Darker Side of American Victory" are only the beginning, and not the end, of what is coming.

Hear, HEAR! It's time that freedom goes on the march and stays on the march until the keffiyas and the black balaclavas and the red flags are all trampled under foot. It is a choice of win or become a slave to the most murderous ideologies of all time.

I don't care how many communist apologist professors and trustafarian antiglobalists and islamofascists and barricade manning idiots have to be ground under the wheels, FREEDOM MUST WIN for the sake of ALL HUMANITY!

America's enemies have no idea of what is inside our "Pandora's Box", but they keep trying to pry it open (the lid has opened a crack since 9/11).

I don't remember where I read this, but look at what Americans did to each other in the Civil War- a war where each side was fighting for dearly held beliefs. America will have no qualms about immolating those that awaken our anger. den Beste is correct- we will (when provoked) strike with furious anger and terrible vengence (sp?).

An element you left out is faith in the Judeo-Christian God. America is arguably the world's most Christian nation (and surely the one that most purely embodies Christian values), Israel its most Jewish. The left is, for the most part, militantly atheist; both the left and Muslims have long been hostile toward Judaism and Christianity.

IDIOTARIAN has just become the polite term for them folks. Roger L. Simon(!) has a somewhat harser term: PRO-FACIST. Personally, I'm holding out for an old right-wing fave: commie bastards. Wake me up when we get there.

praktike,

The far left, the far right, and the Islamics all believe in the same thing. This is what unites them all.

The state is the ultimate power. Statism.

The only thing they disagree on is the uses to which that power should be put to.

The war is statism against individual liberty.

Something keeps coming back to me from the late nineties; several years before 9-11. I distinctly remember reading an online report, probably from MEMRI, about the intellectual goings on among Islamists and their outriders in the Arab media and the Arab chattering classes.

The conclusion that was drawn was that if America was defeated and driven out of the Arab world, the Zionist entity would fall into Arab hands like ripe fruit from a tree.
Nuclear weapons were considered an option in the hands of the fighters.

It was assumed that an American city could be targeted with a nuclear weapon, and that "international pressure" would prevent America from striking back in any significant way. Infidel America would slink home, defeated at the hands of the righteous.

What struck me was that no one in this dialogue stood up and wrote any criticism of this view. It was accepted as fact. I remember thinking that they did not know us well. I could even think this during the Clinton years. They knew us not at all.

The Muslim Arabs jump up with grievance and shake their fists at the world. I am convinced that the first thing that would happen should the Al Qaeda succeed in taking out the city center of, say, Chicago, would be an emotional eruption of triumph mixed with joy. It will be like Christmas day in the Arab street. I strongly suspect that there are too many Muslim Arabs who have no idea of the forces that they could unleash.

They may be foolish enough to believe that they demand that we choose between us, and them, and get away with it. That consideration has to be one of the great dangers of our times.

Instead of looking within themselves for the solution, they blame us, or the Jew, or the British, or some other heavy. It's always someone else, the Other, who stands between the Arab nation and the promised land. It is this sense of grievance that drives the close to the abyss.

Are you saying that this is Howard Dean's base of support?

Folks, I'd strongly encourage you to go back and look at the philosophical roots of all this. It isn't fundamentalist Islam; it's a modern reinterpretation of Islam (much as evangelical Christianity isn't much like the traditional Protestant churches it sprang from).

I'll also suggest that "nuke 'em all" isa form of giving up; we know we can play that card at the end, but the battle is to figure out how not to. That is a battle most definitely worth winning.

A.L.

In re PJ's comment about a war on the Christian god: I consider the lion's share of the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy in the US and that are enjoyed in Israel - and hence that provoke the reaction from the idiotarians domestic and foreign - to be antithetical to the communitarian, self-abasing notions inherent in Christianity. I've never quite understood the religious right's embrace of capitalism and its requirement of individual rights and responsibilities; they seem philosophically inconsistent. Christianity does not exalt human achievement on this plane; rather it is all 'samsara', an illusion that will fall away come judgment day, when the first is placed last and the weak made mighty. The tired superstitions present in religious Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all of a piece, all hostile to man's achievement and well-being.

I've been calling them neo-fascists to cover all varietieties except islamofascists, which are their own but friendly toward the neos. They have the common denominator, in my mind, fascism. The trouble with neo-fascist, and idiotarian is that these terms don't distinguish between the different manifestions. But truly, I'm not trouble about lumping them together in general discussion.

But I'm not opposed to idiotarian.

But, on the topic of labels, I ran across one I thought amusing: watermelon = green on the outside, red on the inside.

Lunacy

Excellent, Joe. We can win on the cheap, as we are doing. But if the other shoe drops, things are going to get very clear, and very ugly.

A.L. is right. The trick is to not let that happen. But more and more of us are seeing the same enemy forming from very diverse ranks, and if they think we are going to roll over on this one, they have another think coming. Despite the anti-war faction, and the hard-left college cadre, there is a hard core of Americans, young and old, who are ready to go all the way if the threat is great enough. We have always been here, and I suspect we always will be.

I'd like to take a position intermediate between pj and G. Murry.

I've never understood very well what "Judeo-Christian" is supposed to mean: or, more accurately, what it has to do with Christianity and even more so with Judaism. The Western Enlightenment tradition I think we're defending here arose out of concepts of religious toleration, freedom of expression, and (increased if not absolute) separation of church and state. A cursory look at medieval history suggests that it was possible to have Christian states with very little of the above, including, of course, states from which non-Christians were converted or expelled by force. European Judaism (as contrasted to individual Jews) had little to do with fashioning this intellectual tradition. There are several religious parties in Israel representing a non-negligible faction that would prefer an Iranian-style blend of theocracy and formal democracy, mutatis mutandis.

Moreover, Judeo-Christian doesn't make much sense as a theological term. I don't think I've ever seen the word "Judeo-Islamic", but Judaism and Islam are much closer to each other theologically than either is to Christianity. Both have specific holy cities for pilgrimage, both have a language with a special status, both have food taboos, both enforce a prohibition against images of the Divine, and neither has the quasi-polytheism of the Triune Deity. (I make no suggestion this has anything to do with peace prospects: compare Northern Ireland.)

Perhaps pj should consider whether the values he extols arise from Christianity (we're more Christian than the Vatican city-state?) or from a reaction against theocracy that was seen as revolutionary ("left", if you will) and atheistic in its own time.

Murry,
There was a burst of communism in the New Testament, but it was never supported, merely recorded. You could draw from that incident the notion that Communism could work--for about six months.

And this world is not an illusion. Your choices have very real consequences that ripple outwards in time and space.

And in Heaven, Christians will have physical bodies. Its not some disembodied float around type thing.

Americans learned to bow to none but God. This is the foundation of the American notion of equality of right. The idea is that when you surrender to God, He gives yourself back to you, but truer and finer.

The Bible is hostile to a notion that you seem to be pushing. "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil." Not money itself, but worshipping money is wrong. You can worship Mammon, but it will never love you back to use a tired cliche'. But money is an excellent tool. And there are many passages advising the achievement of it.

And Christianity is very, extremely so, about individual accountability.

I'd say that Christianity says there are better things than this life, but it offers a lot for here and now as well.

Wish I could give you a better answer...

Tadeusz

(much as evangelical Christianity isn't much like the traditional Protestant churches it sprang from).

True, in a sense, traditional Protestantism is far more strict and authoritarian than even the most radical evangelical today.

Though, I'd venture to guess, that Wesley would be more comfortable in a modern Evangelical congregation than one of the more mainstream congregations that tends to make up the present-day church he founded; but that's just speculation based on his stated beliefs and what the various Christian sects today proclaim as doctrine.

Honestly, to claim that Evangelicalism is somehow out of the mainstream indicates a bit of historical ecclesiastical ignorance that is not to your usual standards. I doubt that you would suggest that that Orthodox Judaism is radical and out of Judaic historical character. Historically speaking, modern Evangelicalism is no more radical than Puritanism or Calvinism was in their day. And I daresay that modern-day Evangelicalism is far more tolerant and forgiving.

(And no, I'm not an Evangelical, but my best friend is.)

If someone from the South Sea Islands came here believing in Lord Booga-Booga, you would not mock him as you do these major faiths. If you consider that they are products of their environment conditioned by their society, and you do not judge them for it, why then are religious people in America at fault?

If you don't like religion, why associate it with your preferred stance of the left? No, you recognize its power, temporal or otherwise. You probably do understand that religion can do things. Much like a drug, as you would I am sure sneeringly put it. Like a drug, it can enable unremarkable men to do remarkable things. Your fine disdain butters no parsnips. Yours is just another position statement, chiefly serving to warn others of your ill nature.

A.L. said:

>I'll also suggest that "nuke 'em all" is a form
>of giving up; we know we can play that card at
>the end, but the battle is to figure out how not
>to. That is a battle most definitely worth
>winning.

Welcome to my nightmares. I have been looking into that abyss since the aftermath of Al Qaeda's Africa bombings in 1998. Almost everything that has happened in this terror war I have talked through and role played/war gamed with a few friends before the events of 9/11/2001. For me the events since 9/11 have been like a grade-B movie where you keep seeing the mile markers go by on the side of the road with bad narrative exposition telling you what is going on.

The one thing that has surprised me hasn't been the speed of events. It has been the inertia of the American national security bureaucracies and American political left in the face of changing world.

It may well be that the seductive powers and suicidal resistence of the Islamists will condem whole Muslim cultures to the abyss no matter what America does. Yet the resistance of those national security bureaucracies and the American Political Left to appropriate measures that are less than nuclear genocide now, are making the possibility of it far more certain.

My term of art for this process is "Incrementalism on the Road to Hell."

The real hell of it, A.L., is that Den Beste hasn't gone any where near the worst case scenario.

Joe,

I was in Half Price Books this evening and saw the typical scenario being played out in excruciating technicolor. I felt like I was watching a blog reenactment before my very eyes.

A "wise"(i.e. more gray hair than his ideological opponent, no offense intended; merely context) gentleman was tutoring a younger gentleman on the obvious "facts" of our current situation:

1. The war in Iraq can be boiled down to simple corporate greed or our American addiction to oil.

2. That Bush lied to drag America into both Afghanistan and Iraq.

3. Our actions are only creating more terrorists.

4. Finally, he pulled out the "We haven't tried to address why they hate us so much."

The other gentleman tried to counter his points, but I could tell that the older gentleman was simply waiting for his turn to regurgitate another "fact". And they might/might not all be factually correct, but the point is that they come out of so many mouths in exactly the same way.

I like to think that I can always see both sides of an argument/discussion. But I don't see any real give and take with this group(idiotarians, they don't deserve a capital 'I') that all believes the same things unflinchingly. I can only liken it to Socrates' Allegory of the Cave where the denizens of the cave prefer their darkness to the pain of being out in the light.

I long for a culture where we truly learn how to 'debate' each other again. Where the force of ideas determines the winner, rather than the volume with which they are delivered. But I am afraid that our world views have drifted so far apart that this may not be possible.

One thing that I have not heard being discussed is whether America can become so polarized that we need a new Lincoln versus a new Truman.

My two and a half cents,

Mike

Andrew's point deserves closer scrutiny. Our culture and freedoms are a curious balancing act, which may owe more to historically specific events and paths than we acknowledge.

On the one hand, secular forces have kicked in the teeth of organized religion over a span of several hundred years, in order to get us to our present state of freedom and tolerance. Religion's role in this process has often been as "enemy #1". In fairness, religion has played a role on both sides of spectrum, from liberal anti-slavery Abolitionists to the "Church & Throne" Right of Europe... but its weakness and our present society's political-social configuration are not accidents.

On the other hand, capitalism and freedom have moral and civil underpinings, and the "Judeo-Christian" traditions religion have played an important role in maintaining same. While Christianity played by far the larger role for obvious reasons, European Judaism may have been more influential than you think. Still, the point is this: We may have passed a tipping point where the decline of organized religion is beginning to produce its own set of problems.

The War on Bad Philosophy is partly an outgrowth of this - though not always in the ways my religious friends would expect or explain.

Imagine that you were a Muslim outside of the West, trying to make sense of it all. Or worse, trying to get your own society to a similar place. Not an easy task, though I concur with A.L., Bill, Trent et. al. on why it's so necessary to try.

As for the rest of the idiotarian movement, understand it as an additional set of intrinsically hostile cults/religions who DO share our history and language, and accuse our society and ethic of deicide. The penalty for this crime is mass death (but they'll settle for less if it can be had immediately). Jews have traditionally been quite used to this treatment, but I can understand why it might be a bit unsettling for the rest of you. We're still grappling with the implications of its comeback ourselves.

On the bright side, we couldn't have picked a better bunch of people to share this situation with. We've always had only the very best class of enemies, but now at least we've matched that with an equally excellent bunch of friends.

Finally, couldn't let this one pass:

"There are several religious parties in Israel representing a non-negligible faction..."

Actually, in American political polling terms the ultra-orthodox "Haredim" wouldn't even be on the map. But in Israel's proportional representation system based on party lists, with no clear majority in any one party, "balance of power" dynamics give them real but limited influence. They are checked, however, by an overwhelmingly secular majority.

Indeed, the aspect of Israel's story that surprises people when I tell it is the strong secularism of Israeli society in general (High Holidays = most popular days at the beach), and the level of tension and distrust between them and the Haredim.

But this isn't a post about Israeli politics, so after that little backgrounder we return to our subject... idiotarianism.

I disagree Joe, I think that's bad history.

Robin, America's journey has been very different from Europe's... but the Founding Fathers' beliefs and philosophies were shaped strongly by the experiences of Europe during the late Enlightenment. You stood, in effect, upon their shoulders.

Perhaps because I'm outside of America, I see it as a continuation of trends rather than something invented de novo. Revolutionary? Radical? Successful? Yes. Unprecedented? Entirely different? No.

So the anti-clerical current within the Enlightenment is part of your story too, in ways large and small. Indeed, "anti-clerical" is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the larger attitude we're referring to... but that's where and how it got started, and many of those patterns are still with us.

Meanwhile, watching experiences like Quebec's "quiet revolution" in the 1960s has sensitized me to the ongoing pressures still being brought to bear or the socio-cultural role of religion (in their case, Catholicism), and the good and bad aspects of that. Toronto, too, is a very different place than it was in the 1950s, and here too the WASP religious establishment's decline has played a role in ways that go beyond demographics and politics. Again, some positives, some negatives.

G. Murry: Christianity in America is a whole different beast, having more to do with America than with its Olde European forebears.

And a good thing too.

In re Nichevo's comments, which I can only assume are in response to mine:

"If someone from the South Sea Islands came here believing in Lord Booga-Booga, you would not mock him as you do these major faiths."

-- No, I reckon I would heap equal disdain upon his superstition and the violence it has worked on his life and others'. But I would in no way hinder his right to worship as he pleases.

"If you consider that they are products of their environment conditioned by their society, and you do not judge them for it, why then are religious people in America at fault?"

-- I am actually quite free with my judgments and do not discriminate when handing them out. I would perhaps judge him a little less harshly based on the relative paucity of advancements in his native culture. As regards those living in the US, I managed to shirk the yolk of faith after a childhood spent immersed in it; pardon me for expecting the same level of critical thought of the rest of my countrymen.

"If you don't like religion, why associate it with your preferred stance of the left?"

-- My prefered stance is generally feet slightly apart, while shaking my head in disbelief. I guarantee to you it is not 'of the left'.

"No, you recognize its power, temporal or otherwise. You probably do understand that religion can do things. Much like a drug, as you would I am sure sneeringly put it."

-- I've been known to sneer. One point for you.

"Like a drug, it can enable unremarkable men to do remarkable things. "

--And like a drug, it offers a false state of consciousness.

"Your fine disdain butters no parsnips."

--But will it mash my 'taters?

"Yours is just another position statement, chiefly serving to warn others of your ill nature."

--Can you say "ad hominem attack"? I chiefly subscribe to the belief that if a reader fails to grasp an author's message, we must, in absence of evidence to the contrary, presume the author's culpability. I apologize to Nichevo for his misreading of my post.

Joe, maybe we should take this somewhere else, but the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties have an absolute majority on the Jerusalem city council, and there is now a Haredi mayor.

In a closely divided country, the Ashkenazic Haredi party holds 5 of 120 Knesset seats. More importantly, the Sephardic Shas party holds another 11. Sixteen of 120 isn’t negligible under any parliamentary system. Although most Shas voters are secular, the party leadership is entirely comprised of Haredi rabbis devoted to and taking orders from former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. My opinion is that their dream government would have Yosef in the Supreme Authority position held by Ayatollah Khomeini (and now Khameini) in Iran.

I suspect you did not realize I included Shas in my prior comment.

PS Yom Kippur is not a beach-going holiday, even for secular Israelis.

I wonder if anyone has commented on the the fact that the leftist-Islamist alliance obviously puts the lie to the dull-witted, naive assertion that bin Laden would never have taken up with Saddam. Perhaps, the assertion is actually cunning, and it is the left who assumes it is us mere mortals who are dim witted and naive?

I do see this as a fight between the concepts of individual freedom and collectivism in many varied forms. The left is riding a tiger that will eat it, once it is done, once Islamofascists have acheived their goal and no longer have use for their useful idiots.

The political left is lost. They do not argue, as one poster noted, they simply drone on the same lies. Logic is hardly ever present, and when it is, is so poor that even someone with as little education as myself, can spot holes in them. They do not listen, they cannot argue, all they have left is lies and threats.

Which gets to the issue of coercion versus persuasion. If you are breaking windows to get others to do what you want, you are not persuading, you are using coercion. If you do so in the name of freedom and such, well, you've blow it already. You are nothing but a low grade terrorists, and discredit your cause. The only difference between you and bin Ladan, he broke more windows than you did. The plan is the same, the goal and threat are the same, only differ as a matter of scale.

Because of that, the left is becoming more marginalized, generating less sympathy and more hostility toward itself. Intellectually, they are not engaging in dialog, just threats, insults and lies. Without appealing to the intellect, they find a lot more people give up listening to them, their credibility falling away. This has got to be frustrating for them, especailly when by ignoring their "advice", we succeed in creating the kind of world they want, far better than those who explicitly follow their lead have done.

So the left will become more frustrated, radicalized, and dangerous. You shoot mad dogs. You may not like it, but you really have no choice. Either shoot the mad dogs, or let them destroy you and your family, your friends, and your nation.

Satan pushes the pendulum as hard as he can both ways, and laughs at our reactions. Since the 60's, the left side has had a ride. Now the right side is getting a ride. There are idiotarians on both sides.

RE: Mike’s comments

Couldn’t agree more with your observation about the death of debate as a (nonviolent) form of conflict resolution. I would extend the argument further by claiming that independent thought has disappeared from the intellectual landscape - indeed, to the extent that it was ever present. Surely, independence anchored this country during the early years and your invoking of the Civil War is very insightful and, I believe, dead on.

Couple of observations. Consider the current criticism of Bush - he is no longer regarded as a man of principle by some for his politically motivated support of the recent Medicare bill and the very unpopular steel tariffs. There is also grumbling in the distance from the evangelical Christian right that Bush must make a definitive value statement about marriage. In effect, by adopting a moderate position, he is getting the same treatment that Clinton got - tarred for abandoning his base and feathered for compromising the opposing party.

Consider also the recent meeting between ‘self-appointed’ Israelis and Palestinians, acting outside of government authority, to sign a ‘shadow agreement’ that would bring a halt to armed violence between the two groups. To me, this is simply an astonishing development. It very clearly implies that what I can only assume is a substantial majority of the people desire some form of peaceful coexistence that would permit the luxury and the fulfillment of leading productive lives.

It appears to me that the institutions of government are slowly being compromised - or maybe it is more accurate to say that government is sinking under the weight of responsibilities it can no longer provide. There is a growing disconnect between government and people, and in this country, it is tempting to point to the dissolution of the left as a contributing factor that transformed the electorate into the fragmented groups of identity politics, but the right contributed also by abusing the functional obligations of government in support of business. The Israeli-Palestinian issues have a different dynamic but both seem to point to failures of governance.

This is very serious and I have been thinking for a long time that what is missing is fresh political thought (and not this chi chi frou frou stuff of Foucault.) The founding fathers have been doing the intellectual ‘heavy lifting’ for over two centuries. I think we could use another Thomas Jefferson.

DELICIOUS IRONY WATCH:

So the left will become more frustrated, radicalized, and dangerous. You shoot mad dogs.

The left?!

So why not just invade Berkeley and get it over with?

I noticed something was up when I saw a poster (here in Chicago) put out by the International Socialist Organization calling for Jihad. I wish I'd taken one of the posters and copied it for y'all to see.

I have to do my nails and brush my teeth. Maybe tomorrow for Berkeley.

I'll be responding at the end of the day...in the mean time...

http://catb.org/~esr/aim/index.html

is ESR's original manifesto.

The idea that all the multifarious forces of idiotarianism will coalesce into one big heaving pustule is Blair's Law, after Tim Blair. Nice to see empirical proof of it.

I have to do my nails and brush my teeth. Maybe tomorrow for Berkeley.

As GWB would say, "Bring her on!"

Mike,

I was taught in debate to take either side. It sharpened my arguments despite my prefrences for one side or the other.

http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/Document.2003-12-02.0041

The above link is a Marxist view on the Iraq war. Quite sensible.

Not even all the hard left is totally stupid.

Of course popular Marxism has nothing to do with real Marxism. Which is why Marx said he wasn't a Marxist.

Holy cow, that's just a frightening amount of sense for Marxists to be making! Can't see any major theoretical holes in their Marxism, either. Never thought I'd be pining for the days of real Marxist opponents....

Katzman cheerfully avoids the discomfort of actually having to answer the question I posed: exactly how big is the "big tent" of Idiotarianism?

"Leftists" in universities wink at Jihadists in the same way that "Rightists" at CCC meetings wink at cross burners.

You (the collective you) draw connections where they don't exist. Can a female university student believe that Palestinians have a legitimate cause, as a people? Not in Katzman's world: her belief structure means she is a "feminazi", an "islamofascist", an "anti-semite", an "animal rights nazi"... you get the idea. But there's more! She's also "hostile to rational thought", "winking at jihadists", an an apologist for murder, to boot!

Wow, that's a whole lotta evil in one little girl! Who knew?

All I say is she thinks the Palestinians might have a point. But your dots become fully connected, defensively, instantly...

And yes, Joe, filling a few paragraphs fifty percent full of insult and bluster cheapens discourse.

I believe in national health care. Did that qualify me for "radical left"? I think we need more regulation on corporations. Did that qualify me? Taxes don't really bother me all that much, although they should, given what I pay. I can keep going, if I haven't qualified yet.

Maybe I can take a brief time-out, and refer to you as a McVeigh Republican. Makes sense to me; if I have only one brush. You like guns and shootin' stuff and smaller government and blowin' stuff up, and so did he. But I won't, because it's just stupid. You're a more complex individual than that, and because you share one characteristic (smaller government) with a real bad guy, doesn't mean you share the entire belief system.

A system of belief is a complex, evolving entity. Simplification of this is a very bad idea because over-simplicity creates conflict. We need to have room to move. Diplomacy needs to be able to maneuver. Tolerance is based in flexibility. Viewing social issues as members of a class of NP-complete problems renders the whole unsolvable.

The "anti-idiotarian", nose in the air, close-minded, take no shit, f-you-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on, superiority complex delivered by the average invoker of the word seems, to many of us, to be a great way to create enemies unnecessarily. And that's how my family gets endangered.

Tolerance starts with respect, which is apparently in short supply these days.

So am I or ain't I the big "I"? Would you care to start enumerating my entire belief system now that you have enough to go on?

Do you want a label, or a discourse? The last line I hear from the right wingers I argue with (sorry, "debate with") in person is almost always "I can't respond to that, but you just have to respect the fact that I believe something different from you".

So I do. It's a start, because they're never going to change their minds if you don't.

nb. Minister Buckethead would never finish an argument with that sentence. He'd rather die, or crush me accidentally. ;)

I agree, there is a line between left and 'idiotarian".

But sometimes that line is pretty clear.

"Wow, that's a whole lotta evil in one little girl! Who knew?"

When that girl sacrifices her life as a Hamas apologist while protecting arms tunnels, she MIGHT be an idiotarian.

CBK

Ross,

Of course the Palestinians have a point. And I have proof.

Look at the counter offer they made to the Israelis in the final days of the 2000 peace negotiations.

What? They made no counter offer? (according to Clinton)

I rest my case.

I have to agree with my coblogger Ross on this one, which is a fairly rare event.

Ross' comment was, to wit, "I am growing a little tired of the word "Idiotarian". I know it's fun to say, and maybe it's fun to write. Who exactly do you mean? How broad is your "idiot" brush? I think the word cheapens discourse."

This post only confirms Ross' objection. Joe writes, "Ross of Perfidity.org [sic] finds the term overused, and I'm seeing more discomfort with it these days from the left. To which I reply in French: tant pis (too bad). The term is very useful, precisely because it calls attention to the growing neo-fascist/neo-marxist/Islamist nexus of sympathy, mutual justification, and joint action so vividly demonstrated in that neo-nazi spam's URL collection."

Which is fair enough, as far as it goes. The list of URLs that Joe refers to is just what he says-- a collection sites devoted to fringe causes, moonbats, fellow travellers, and some well-meaning bystanders.

But Joe fails to do what Ross asked-- explain what he means specifically by the term, and instead invokes the "nyah, nyah" argument. This is unfortunate, because to apply the term "idiotarian" to such a wide swath of interests as Joe and other commenters suggest makes the word exactly as useful an appellation as "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy," "The G-d D-n Liberals In This Country," "Feminazis," or "The Elders of Zion."

If "idiotarian" means "enemy of the country" than "enemy" works fine. If it also means "armchair marxist apologist," "antiwar advocate," "college-age ecofeminist," "the gun-control crowd" and "The G-d D-n Liberals In This Country" than we've got a problem because "idiotarian" becomes nothing more than a convenient and meaningless epithet which cheapens a serious dicussion-- Ross' original observation.

Is "idiotarian" in fact supposed to mean "Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy"? Cos if it does, you should check your back for a "kick me" sign.

Joe tends to post thoughtful and fiery stuff, but I'm with Ross- this particular bit, and the comments it has elicited, don't seem up to his usual standard.

I've laid low on the "term" "idiotarian," which I find to be churlish and ultimately indiscriptive.

As I suggest at the top of this thread, I don't quibble with the general idea that the lunatic fringes of the political spectrum are paradoxically closer than we might think. I'm pretty sure that Joe and I would come to different conclusions as to where the normal "left" (if there is such a thing) ends and the lunatic left begins. Ditto, conversely, for the right.

But the "term" "idiotarian" gives us few clues as to what the criteria for membership in this club might be. Instead of being descriptive, it's pejorative, and hence not really a "term" at all. Replace it with "poopyface," and you'll see what I mean.

To my mind, what makes any extreme ideology dangerous is that it places ideas above people--that kind of thinking leads to the rationalization of genocide. Both the lunatic left and the lunatic right share this alarming tendency, and that's why they must be vigorously opposed.

But if the goal is to "know thine enemy," labeling him properly is a helpful first step.

I suggest reading "The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff. It also exposes the parallels between modern society and the blooming Nazism of the Weimar Republic (which, if you read the book, wasn't really a republic at all).

I want to defend "idiotarian" for a bit.

We're in a political world where truth and facts exist only to be spun, like silk, into a garment tailored to our current views.

That's OK, that's how people have always thought.

But somehow, maybe through Bad Philosophy, or through lazy teachers, or too much time spent reading French bookjackets, we're at risk of building a politics increasingly isolated from fact and truth.

That's not the exclusive province of the right, left, religious, or atheist.

But I have a harder and harder time treating their politics seriously, and I think that a shorthand for "you've stepped off the cliff" isn't such a bad thing.

A.L.

Dear AL,

Must be great to be you, what with the keeper-of-the-truth T-Shirt you got from God, or wherever. I lost mine a while back. Or, I think I used to own one. I'm not sure.

Let's assume that we're both reasonably intelligent people, capable of figurin' on our own.

We reach our opinions through a combination of experience, trusted facts/sources, logic, and emotional inclination. Is there a category I missed? Some kind of green misty field that warps truth?

What dismays me about most right-wing debate is the lack of specificity. You use loose words to describe nebulous concepts; you use sweeping generalizations to juxtapose an opinion you don't like with an evil that is unquestioned.

I asked if I'm "Idiotarian" or not. Nobody seems to be answering. Are you just being nice? Or, given a moment to think about it, does the term just seem a little unclear?

Where are the tripwires? What are your issue tests to qualify/disqualify?

Generalizing can be fun. I can start by picking a few groups, like terrorists, anti-abortion militants, Bush's economic advisors, and street drug dealers. A bad lot, all around.

I think I'll call them "Purples", and then I'll wax all axiomatic about how there's a big Purple love-fest going on, with plenty of winking and solidary and people-eating for all. See how it's all part of the same conspiracy?

Which is all ridiculous, of course. And so is...the I-Word. If you can't define it.

Diversity is a beautiful thing.

And to all, a good night...

Ross -

a) I don't know nearly enough about your politics to have an opinion on your personal status;

b) of course one can support the Palestinian people - one can even explicitly support their view that victory consists of driving the Israelis into the sea - and not be an 'I'. But when one takes the position that blowing up coffee houses isn't terrorism but rather legitimate warfare, but that retaliatory strikes targetting military leaders are violations of the Geneva Accord - that's pretty damn divorced from reality in my view. It's spinning fact into a garment to clothe your position. And if one does that, you get the 'I' label.

Of course I'm not the arbiter of a greater Truth. But I acknowledge that something approximating truth exists, outside our expression of it, and that our expressions ought to be an ever-closer approximation of it.

And more importantly, I believe that relations among people - whether at the individual, neighborhood, nation, or international level - ought to start with some willingness to acknowledge reality.

Call me a dreamer.

A.L.

OK, you are a dreamer. You are also more polite than I would have been. Nice piece, AL.

Just as a fairly unrelated side note, I don't think that the growing alliance between neo-fascists, the hard left, and the islamofascists is nearly as coherent as it's often made out to be. Anymore than the de facto alliances of the Cold War between Western Democracies and other pseudo-fascist military governments was a big topic of debate and consideration. Or, for that matter, any more than Osama bin Laden was coopting or taking over Saddam's Iraq. Sometimes an alliance of convienence in the face of a powerful opponent is just that.

More on this notion that Islam is cannibalizing the hard left here.

And the term "idotarian" is inelegant and, to my mind, lacks sufficient panache.

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