Friday, May 08, 2015

Flashback to 2006: Repost: "Elites" -- a peculiar obsession of the Jihad Watchers

[With a couple of minor tweaks aside, the following I wrote nearly ten years ago.]

First, I want to set the record straight: I myself am a ‘Jihad Watcher’—and proud of it. Individual members of any group, however, have the right and obligation to offer up constructive criticism of that group; and that is the spirit in which I write today’s post.

Secondly, by the term Jihad Watcher, I do not limit myself merely to the writers (official and unofficial) of articles, essays and comments at the website (and its sibling, I consider the term to embrace a slightly larger population that includes anyone whose learning curve about the Problem of Islam has passed a certain threshhold. The threshhold I refer to is the epiphany that the geopolitical problems of terrorism, military assaults, paramilitary raids, and sociocultural regressiveness which one observes wherever there are large numbers of Muslims (whether they are the majority or an agitating minority) are problems rooted in Islam itself. Within the camp of Jihad Watchers there might be disagreements as to the degree of Islam’s complicity in these problems, but all Jihad Watchers would agree that the degree is sufficient to warrant a serious critical examination of Islam and, consequent upon that, various rational actions based upon the conclusions of such an examination. Again, Jihad Watchers might have honest disagreements about which particular actions to take; but none would deny that a number of actions must be taken.

To get to the point of my post today: I have noticed, from being an assiduous Jihad Watcher myself for at least four years (the last two years specifically reading and writing at—and from being a ‘Jihad Watch’-Watcher—a few obsessions which the majority of Jihad Watchers seem to share (I will at some later date go into the other obsessions I have noticed among Jihad Watchers, which would include the subpopulation of Jihad Watchers who populate the Internet chat rooms at

One of these obsessions—or ‘hobbyhorses’ (as the Jihad Watch writer (both official and unofficial) Hugh Fitzgerald would put it (ironically, since he happens to ride this particular hobbyhorse himself quite often)—of Jihad Watchers is to insist incessantly that the problem of the West’s inability to recognize the Problem of Islam, and to rally itself against it appropriately, is a problem mostly, or even solely (one cannot be quite sure the parameters of this hobbyhorse, since it has never to my knowledge been formally and clearly argued—only assumed as a matter of parenthetical fact) of ‘elites’ in the West.

Now, what do Jihad Watchers mean by the term ‘elites’? They seem to mean a rather tiny, but very influential and powerful, subpopulation of movers and shakers in the domains of politics, academe and the news media. And what is the fault of these elites? The Jihad Watchers don’t seem to have a particularly coherent answer to this question, as the fault of the elites seems to be either stupidity—that they are unable to recognize the Problem of Islam, and to help their Society rally itself appropriately against that Problem of Islam—or cupidity; or a somewhat paradoxical mix of the two. Some Jihad Watchers seem to go further, and impute more sinister motives to some or all of the elites. The diagnosis of this fault that approaches the most coherence—though it is still an insufficient diagnosis—is that of the Vice President and frequent essayist at Jihad Watch, Hugh Fitzgerald, who has liltingly called it the “Esdrujula Explanation” (referring to a term for accenting words on the third syllable from the end), offering up three words to “explain the folly”: Timidity, Stupidity, Cupidity (and, on at least one other occasion, a fourth—Rigidity). While our ears may be charmed by this rhyming, rhythmic alliteration, our minds come away dissatisfied: for, as I explain briefly in a later essay on my blog, it reduces the immense and complex problem of PC multiculturalism to personality flaws, which might suffice to explain the folly of individuals here and there, but fails, by a long shot, the mark of addressing the sociological dimensions.

I do not disagree with my fellow Jihad Watchers that such elites exist, nor that they are influential and powerful, nor that many of them are working against finding an appropriate, rational solution to the Problem of Islam. Where I disagree with my fellow Jihad Watchers is on their corollary point—sometimes implicitly supposed, sometimes explicitly trumpeted—that the surrounding Society out of which our elites emerge is not also complicit in this inability to recognize the Problem of Islam and to appropriately rally against it: for, you see, our general Society must be “like us”—as awake to the evils of Islam as we Jihad Watchers are—and it is only those infernal, dastardly ‘elites’ who are obstructing us from protecting ourselves.

Two points about elites should be kept in mind:

1) In any good society, to the extent that the society is good, elites are good and necessary—and inevitable.

1a) No good society is perfect.

1b) No good society that has contracted a virus (for example, the PC virus to which our Society has succumbed) is necessarily beyond hope.

2) “By their fruits ye shall know them”. Elites are the fruits of a society. Elites do not fall from outer space: they grow from the society, and to the extent that a society is democratic (sophomores: please note the small ‘d’), elites reflect the broader, deeper, prevalent currents of the society out of which they have grown.

The truth of these two points does not mean that there may not develop a tension or a friction, in a particular good society, between elites and the broader population. A profound and widespread tension or friction bordering on an outright disjunction, however—as is asserted time and again by Jihad Watchers—requires at least a shred of evidence beyond a tiny subpopulation on the Internet (+ a handful of personal acquaintances here and there + a dash of commentators one has run across on occasion).

Absent such evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that, so far, elites are not weird anomalous fruits growing against the grain, but rather are, as natural excrudescences, the more visible way by which to know the general temperment of our current Society. Which brings us back to #1: our elites are a mirror to a broader, deeper disease in our Society now.

By way of a little more amplification of the foregoing observations, I will quote some interchanges today at the website between myself and a couple of other Jihad Watchers:

One Jihad Watcher who goes by the name of ‘Archimedes’ commented on a recent public protest in Montreal, Canada, by Hizbollah supporters that:
“No society in its right mind would pay to import criminals and terrorists. This is sick, and it must be reversed, ASAP.”

I responded by writing the following:

My response is simple: our society is not in its right mind.

Only microscopic pockets, or cells, of our society (such as this tiny subpopulation of Jihad Watchers) are of a right mind.

It’s going to get much, much worse before our society rallies itself out of its disease.

The good news, I believe, is that our society has a bedrock of health and strength beneath the disease. But tapping into that bedrock in order to shake off the disease will not be hastened by the unrealistic wishful thinking characteristic of Jihad Watchers who are obsessed by elites—as though only a tiny population of elites are the problem of dhimmitude. The situation is the precise reverse. The non-dhimmis are the tiny subpopulation, and the elites are the natural expression of the society at large, and are more or less nourished and aided & abeted by it.

That last sentence of mine then occasioned a response from another Jihad Watcher, who goes by the name of ‘anti-uffe’:

“This is only partly correct, IMHO. The elites know something that the kneejerk dhimmis do not about strategic interests, about the risks of incurring the wrath of oil producing countries, about the risk of all-out social turmoil if the enemy was named by the top, and thus being made into a legitimate target, and about the risks involved if their country came under scrutiny by UN watchdogs and other international organizations, with the international stigmatizing that might be the consequence. The elites are probably very, very aware of the role they play in keeping the lid on a number of conflicts that might blow up in their face at the smallest of events - e.g. cartoons...”

I then responded to anti-uffe with the following:

First, Id respond by saying the kind of elites you characterize here are the cream of the elites, a minority (but, of course, a minority with the most influence) of the overall elite population.
Secondly, what this cream of elites “know” about all those strategic interests you aptly adumbrate is, unfortunately, encased within a larger paradigm of relative ignorance and Islamic illiteracy; and this paradigm is furthermore wrapped in the enigma of PC multiculturalism.

This paradigm and this enigma are not at all exclusive to this cream of elites, nor even to elites in general. On the contrary, to restate my previous contention: this paradigm and this enigma are shared by the Society—our Society—out of which the elites and their cream have risen. And that is a problem broader and deeper, ultimately, than the problem of the strategic horse-blindered knowledge of the cream of elites.

I would close today’s post by harking back to one of my statements quoted above:

“The good news, I believe, is that our society has a bedrock of health and strength beneath the disease.”

This is what I was referring to in a previous post on this blog (The West as equivalent to the Cosmos, 6/25/06), when I wrote:

“We are not seeing so much a conquest of noetic culture by Gnostic culture, nor a revolution overturning the one for the other, so much as a subtle ‘corporate takeover’, so to speak, at certain key levels.”

That phrase of mine, ‘corporate takeover’, however, is infelicitious. It invites the very same distinction between elites and the broader population which I have been attempting to dispute. Whatever the nature and style of this ‘takeover’ by which Gnostic culture, in the specific form of PC multiculturalism, has acquired a certain degree of hegemony over noetic culture in our recent West, we must bear in mind that its hegemony has not utterly eclipsed the noetic culture: paradoxically, the two continue to thrive side by side, even though Gnostic culture rules the airwaves and has infiltrated the superficial conscious of the body politic.

Let us hope the body politic—and all the good men and women who constitute it—learn to think more deeply and outside the box they themselves, and their forbears, have helped to construct. The longer that a learning curve about the Problem of Islam is put off, the more likely that thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of innocent people will be mass-murdered by Muslims in the years and decades to come.


More recently, I had the following exchange with a ‘Jihad Watcher’:

“Do you think this happened by accident?” he asks—and by “this” he means, of course, the prevalence of PC Multiculturalism in the West.

My response:

The phrase “by accident”, if its meant to be contrasted to the only alternative of “planned”, would be a limited and misleading phrase. This sea change in consciousness is not some natural process like the shifting of tectonic plates; obviously, human beings and their thoughts and emotions have played a part, and influential men of ideas have had some role in it. But the prevalence of the phenomenon, and the high degree of freedom and goodness—as well as complexity—of the societies in which this phenomenon has so much prevailing influence, militate against the theory that it has been successfully managed by some cabal.

I quote another of his statements:

“There was no back-room conspiracy by a tiny group of influential persons per se, but if you know anything about the seminars our public school teachers must attend, you'll know there is indeed both a methodology for propagandizing and inculcation...”

And I responded:

Your description here is putting the cart before the horse: you imagine that these seminars are being crafted in order to influence teachers, who in turn will influence students. But the far more likely—though far more difficult to solve—situation is that the seminar-creators and taskmasters themselves are part of a wider, more amorphous shift in world-view, and that, furthermore, this shift affects the teachers before they ever see a seminar; it's simply in the general atmosphere. The seminar-creators are not some sinister group of social engineers, and the teachers some group of naive innocents: we are all in this together. Only in a totalitarian society could there be this kind of social machination going on, perpetrated by a sinister few against the naive many. This is a far more complex sociological phenomenon, precisely because we live in a very free and good and open society (note: I didn't say “perfect”), and, just as importantly, a very complex, sprawling and sophisticated society. 

Just so theres no additional misunderstanding: I am not denying a certain degree of machination and influence by Leftist types throughout the 20th century who have had an agenda to reform society. But I dont think it rises above a certain threshhold, and certainly doesnt explain the fact that most ordinary Americans and Europeans out there would still not be capable of saying that Islam itself should be condemned and that most Muslims are following an evil belief system.

Only in a totalitarian society could a minority have the kind of mass effect you and other Jihad Watchers seem to think explains the reason why the West is not doing anything about the problem of Islam (other than running around putting out one Islamic fire after another wherever it pops up). And the West (Europe, North America, Australia) is not only not totalitarian, it manifests varying degrees of the freest, most open and most beneficent collection of societies ever seen in world history.
No, the problem is a far more complex, amorphous, subtle, and difficult-to-solve shift in consciousness in the West that has developed over the last 50-odd years (with roots going further back in time, of course).


Egghead said...

Meh. You should be reading Karl Denninger on a daily basis....

Egghead said...

As I have stated before, I love your optimism especially as a foil for my pessimism.

But, your essay makes a lot of unsupported assumptions and omissions.

For example, I could drive a truck through the holes in your point 1.

Egghead said...

Elites often live in or represent a different country than those they rule. Examples are the United Nations, the European Union, foreign owners of USA businesses including media.

Egghead said...

Another example is elites who have foreign parents or dual citizenship in another country - often with competing interests to the ruled country.

Egghead said...

An important point is that some of the recent inexplicable actions of elites may be due to the fact that elites either 1) are foreign spies and agitators or 2) are controlled by the same via blackmail, threats or bribes.

Egghead said...

The majority of the world IS totalitarian, so if foreigners are working to transform and change us, it would be to an increasingly totalitarian model of governance which we see happening.

Egghead said...

Look up 'Social Justice: Cultural Origins of a Perspective and a Theory' vol 15 no 2 Fall 2019 The Independent Review.

Egghead said...

Read this:

Egghead said...

2010 above - not 2019. :)

Egghead said...

You underestimate the wedge factor where leverage enables elites to control way more than their fair share to their own benefit - and how is this 'good' for the populace sent to war again and again to distract them from the theft of elites?! Karl Denninger has a book called Leverage. Ann Barnhardt has a video about current day financial instability.

Egghead said...

Whether the elites's views and actions spring from the ruled population - or vice versa - is a 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?' question.

However, it is trivially easy to see that the elites are preparing for war with our population and are using Islam - termed ISIS for now - as their main weapon of choice.

Do you see any non-elite people begging for more Muslim immigration? NO! You see elite people - well represented by elite Jews - forcing Muslim immigration on ALL historically Christian countries. And, having summered in Israel and fought in the Israeli army and funded Israel through both their synagogues and our government aid, elite Jews know MORE about the Muslim threat than innocent Americans.