Saturday, October 10, 2015
The good old days...
Today's posting won't be some exhaustive overview of history, as my title might imply; it's just a glimpse, a suggestion, a slice -- in the form of an old essay by Whittaker Chambers, published in National Review magazine in 1957. When a few years ago I first read another essay by Chambers in which he brilliantly skewered Ayn Rand ("Big Sister is Watching You"), I became suddenly impressed by a figure I had until then thought was marginal (if not suspect, given that I, like most everyone else, had unthinkingly imbibed the Anti-Anti-Communist rhetoric of PC MC which, in its gold standard, glibly demonizes Joseph McCarthy).
At any rate, I began sampling a few of his other essays and found him quite a perceptive observer of the political scene historically speaking, with a literary turn of style, and a wickedly surgical barb.
The particular essay I feature today is one he penned in October of 1957, titled "Soviet Strategy in the Middle East". When I first saw that title, I thought oh goody, I'll get some excellent perspective on the problem of Islam in the middle of the 20th century; and if anyone would have been prescient then, it would be Chambers.
Well, one one level -- the level of I.Q. (one's Islamic Quotient) -- I was disappointed. Indeed, I was rather dismayed by his report of the overall scene of the Middle East and how it figures geopolitically. Dismayed, that is, by how he basically ignored the Islam factor altogether. I suppose I should cut him slack, seeing that Muslims were not flexing their international jihad muscles back then even remotely as much as they have been in our post-911 era (or even in the 80s and 90s); and as a consequence, many sociopolitical analysts of the time seemed to underestimate Islam as a relic of a bygone era. To be sure, Muslims in the 20th century were spreading their normative fitna throughout their part of the Third World (the "Muslim world"), but as long as they had not spread their volatile shenanigans into the West, such regional unrest was regarded as an expression of their regressive, backward, quaintly Oriental nature which, at worst was an unavoidable element of sociopolitical instability to be managed, and exploited by either side of the Cold War. (Speaking of glimpses, one sees this parochial worldview also when viewing an old interview from the 1950s with the great Lebanese Christian statesman in which, for 99% of the interview, they are discussing the problem of Communism in the Middle East, and all too briefly -- so briefly you'd miss it if you took your eyes off the screen to pour your beer into your glass -- they touch on the relations between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon; and Malik utters the surreal response that basically everything is going just swimmingly between them.)
Which brings us precisely to the regrettably shortsighted geopolitical worldview of Chambers. The aforementioned essay is a kind of comfortably enlightened bird's-eye view of the Middle East as it stood, as far as Chambers could tell, that autumn in 1957. What looms in that view is, of course, the most exigent concern of Communist Russia and their global mischief-cum-revolution: i.e., the main fitna in town at the time was Soviet, not Islamic. While it's mildly heartening to see Chambers take a brief diversion off his main path to take a trenchant potshot at Saudi royalty in his essay, when one realizes the mockery depends on a trivialization of Muslims and their Islam, we soon feel the air of our balloon of expectation evanesce -- and we're back to the Communism problem. Don't get me wrong; I agree that during the 20th century Communism was the main problem. However, that doesn't let otherwise intelligent statesmen, political analysts, historians and journalists off the hook. It's no defense to say "Sorry, I can't think two thoughts at the same time: I can't be preoccupied with the pressing, current danger of Communism while at the same time keeping in mind that Islam has a perennial goal of world domination motivated and scripted by a fanaticism no less pernicious and psychopathic than Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, and that even though Muslims seem backward and thus no great threat to the West now, we need to maintain and cultivate an educated awareness of their perennial propensity to rear their ugly Mohammedan head... No, we can only think one thought at a time: So let's only think about Communism now." With rare exceptions, the sociopolitical intelligentsia of the 20th century -- many of them quite intelligent if not brilliant like Whittaker Chambers -- basically followed that preposterous logic.
And that's why a 911 could happen where out of the blue Mohammedans bit us in the ass spectacularly while we gawked at the sun bucktoothed, drooling in multiculturalist stupidity with our britches down around our ankles; and why the entire West still, nearly 15 years later -- after Muslims have been getting horribly worse both in violence and in taqiyya deceitfulness -- continues to behave like bumbling Keystone Kops, still fighting the last war, still gravely nodding their heads at geopolitical strategy of a bygone era disastrously irrelevant to, and ignorant of, Islam.
The good old days are still with us, unfortunately.