Friday, January 30, 2015

Taking the temperature of the Counter-Jihad, part 9

I suppose I took a bit of a break from posting continuous and promptly regular installments of my series on this matter; part 8 was nearly two weeks ago, I see.  My, how time flies when Mohammedans are wreaking mayhem in their slow but vertiginous resolve to revive their global jihad...

This time, I won't be featuring my own words, but those of another blogger, who as far as I know hasn't been writing much in years.  Apparently he was a contributor and member of an erstwhile counter-jihad group called, at one point, The 910 Group, and at another time, Vigilant Freedom

Dated in 2006 (we're talking nearly a decade ago), he penned two brief essays on their now defunct blog.  The first one is titled "Wrong War" and the second one, closely related in theme and content, is titled "Wrong Group".

Both essays sound a theme I have been reiterating and retooling every which way but loose for years -- namely, that the primary point is that Islam is at war with us and that we need to focus on the pragmatic threat this entails.  We do not need to indulge in sublimations of this threat onto extrapolations or abstractions that have the effect (whether intended or not) of reconfiguring (i.e., supposedly revealing) the problem into a "Real Problem" about something else, ultimately, than Islam.  Usually that Something Else turns out to be a West supposedly corrupted deeply by some nefarious rot and malevolent machinations that -- again -- seem to have nothing much to do with Islam.  All this seems not only fruitless, but also bristles with reckless potential.

The writer of the essays I feature today seems to get this well; and also does not veer into the opposite extreme of unduly minimizing the problem of the West (what I have called the "Problem of the Problem").  Overall, I was struck by how useful they could be for my ongoing series on taking the temperature of the Counter-Jihad.

So; here goes:

Wrong War

It's easy to fight the wrong war, the last war instead of the next one. People do it because they know how. They know how to raise the money, make the arguments, describe the enemy. The social infrastructure for the war is already in place. It's usually in power.

For example, obsessing about multiculturalism, particularly its manifestations in Europe, is one way to fight the wrong war in the current instance. Multiculturalism is not an alien implant in the west, but an enormous part of the West’s dialog about itself. It may be the source of a thousand vulnerabilities and it may be misguided in another thousand ways, but it’s still part of who we are. We have to win this war with all that baggage, in spite of it, probably because of it. When conservatives throw themselves into anti-jihad as if it were part of an ongoing culture war with the left or, worse, a cold war reminiscence, they're fighting the wrong war.

The culture war (CW) is not a bad thing. I'm actually a fairly passionate partisan on the conservative side, but it is what it is and it's not the counter jihad (CJ). The temptation to fold the CJ into the CW, which is mostly a financial temptation, will lead to failure. Gearing up the old anti-communist machine might be a great way to raise money, as is revving up the right wing on any of its favorite subjects, but conflating this conflict with the priorities of the conservative movement in general will hand the enemy a victory he has been working hard for, a divided society with its left wing exposed. We saw in 2004 what a disaster that can be. But other than opportunistically, and because we let it happen, the Jihad has not joined forces with the left, although they'd love for you to think that, and many of you do think that.

Seriously, the left is not the enemy and jihadists are not leftists. Duh. This war is not a replay of the communist threat faced by the last 2 or 3 generations. That was something internal to our civilization. There may be some similarities but the conclusions one would draw from those similarities are more likely to be misleading than helpful.

The wars of the 20th century were largely wars between western powers fighting over the spoils of the colonial era. That's a simplification, of course, and one can see in conflicts like the Vietnam and Korean wars both echoes of the 19th century and foreshadowing of the 21st. Nevertheless, in general terms the 20th century was about restructuring and repositioning among western powers. While the ideas that were fought over were important, all parties were coming from the same tradition and responding to the same history.

Have we not all read the same critique of false religion?
And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity.
The Grand Inquisitor, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky

This time we have an external enemy who doesn't give a damn about the future of our political tradition and whose youth, critically, do not read Dostoevsky. This one is not a fight for the soul of the west. It's something else. Obviously, a good place to start fighting it would be to figure out who the enemy is, and who it is not.

Wrong Group

There are two key strategies that have to be pursued to fight this war. One is to unite the west on common ground and the other is to harness the chaotic energies of this age to work for us instead of against us.
  1. Unite the west on common ground
  2. Harness the chaotic forces of this age
I joined The 910 Group thinking it was a perfect vehicle to go after these two objectives. Now I don't think it can accomplish either one.

On the first point, the group's members can't distinguish very well between one enemy and another. You need to be able to do that. Recent alliances tend to shore up the group's conservative credentials at a severe cost, I think, to its ability to function as a network of networks for counter jihad, which is its stated objective.
Make no mistake: this is a civil war within the heart of the West, between those who would appease Islamic tyranny and those who want to eliminate it;
As I've noted above, this is a good characterization, but of the wrong war.

Uniting the west on common ground doesn't mean that left and right have to agree on much, certainly not strategy. What it does mean, and I can't think of a simpler way to say it, is that the adults need to be in charge on this one.

On the second point, the group has abandoned most of its original open source ideas. Indeed, there is now clear hierarchy, with more and less privileged classes, staff and subgroup designations, a chain of command. Among the privileges of staff, the most visible and touted perk in fact, is the ability to delete and edit other people's posts in the forum. That's not a good foundation for an open source culture and because of it, the 910 group will not be able to harness the energies of the most creative people. They'll have to make do with groupies.

The group is likely to successfully raise its profile, raise money and produce a lot of stuff, some of it perhaps useful. They'll never run out of willing participants. But there's no longer any reason to expect great things from them. If you're one of those participants, try to keep in mind that your compliance is what they have to sell. They will be able to raise funds precisely to the extent that they can pitch a story about a coherent network of people, working as one, etc. That's not to say they won't pitch the open source idea to raise money, particularly to people who don't really know what it means, but they'll never live up to it.

No comments: