Ukraine And The European Consensus

Like all geopolitical issues, the recent events in the Ukraine were not specifically important in themselves, but revealed a lot about the attitudes of different shades of opinion in the West, and about the nature of Western society in contrast to Russia. 

On the one hand, American conservatives and neoconservatives, and European liberals, saw in the protest movement the embodiment of a universal struggle for freedom and Western values. Indeed, for these currents of opinion, this was the only meaning of the events of the past weeks. Since the Ukrainian people is fighting for these values which we all hold so dear, we should assist it with all means at our disposal to throw of the yoke of Russian autocracy and its local stooges like president Yanukovich. On the other hand, traditionalist (especially European) conservatives were, as always, eager to point out the expansionist agenda of the United States and NATO: after all, the current government of the Ukraine has been democratically elected, it is a sovereign country, and if it chooses to deal with its Russian neighbor rather than with the excessively liberal European Union, we should respect that choice. Open support for the opposition from Western governments would amount to an attempt at neocolonial domination of the Ukraine.

“Karl Marx For President”

Incompetence and endangered freedom.

Recently, a memorable video had been circulated. It showed a person collecting signatures in a better neighborhood. So far, you have not discovered anything sufficiently unusual to deserve a commentary. The wondering ends when you hear about the matter for which support was drummed up.

In the video, passersby are faced with this plea: “Support Obama’s continued Communist course. In the past, he has been advised by his friend Karl Marx to guide his actions. To assure the continuity of his policy, Karl Marx needs to be our candidate after the coming election because Obama cannot run,. Therefore, we ask you to sign this petition supporting ‘Karl Marx for President’.”

Poe And His Frenchman, Baudelaire And His Americans: La Théorie De La Décadence Bohème

Remember: I think these thoughts so that you don’t have to…

The spectacle of decadence has appealed to poets since the time of Juvenal, the heyday of whose authorship came early in the Second Century AD. The hypertrophy and grotesquery of the Imperial City thus provide the background for Juvenal’s remarkable Satires, which presciently mirror the cultural degeneracy of the early Twenty-First Century’s civic scene, quite as well as they do for that of their own Latinate-Imperial milieu. Did Juvenal’s eyes witness him the Urbs on the Tiber or the City by the Bay? Is he writing about Rome’s Stoic salons or UC Berkeley’s Philosophy Department during the visiting professorship of Michel Foucault or again about the disintegration of the humanities departments generally under Deconstruction? “Infection spread this plague, / and will spread it further still… You will be taken up, over time / by a very queer brotherhood,” as Juvenal writes. Rome had its mysteries two thousand years ago, but then so does West Hollywood today: “You’ll see one initiate busy with an eyebrow pencil [while] a second sips his wine / from a big glass phallus, his long luxuriant curls / caught up in a golden hairnet.” Nor is the modern milieu less free than Rome was under Domitian, say, or Hadrian, of secret police, informers, and goon-squads. A ready inclination to cry lèse majesté belongs to the ripeness of a politically and culturally corrupt scene. So too do the insipidity of literature and the jejuneness of art.

The Present’s Past and the Future

Pearl and its perspectives.

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Duly Noted addresses a topic for which a grandchild is responsible. The young man prepares a presentation about the USA’s entry into WW2. During our talk, “Pearl” emerged as an instrument to correct some perspectives of the present and its future.

What should another continent know about America? How is one to tell the story so that it is intellectually grasped and emotionally comprehended? We are mistaken to think that, given the USA’s media presence, one can build on that information. On both sides of the Atlantic puddle, it is obvious that, while the quantity of data is extensive, the quality of its understanding is inferior. The problem is compounded because many accepted facts are half-truths, inventions, or simply misinterpretations. 

America might be transcontinental country with a growing focus on the Pacific. Still, tradition and necessity involves her in European affairs. This need arises because Europe can be notoriously inept in managing her business. Thereby, informed thinking about the US in her global role becomes a must that Europe likes to ignore. Even for Americans, it is of use to approach their function from diverse perspectives. Today, exactly 72 years after the attack, thinking of the event’s meaning is more than an abstract exercise about the unalterable. Several of the distortions tied to America’s entry into the world are apt to be repeated by friend and foe.

Applied Hypocrisy?

Duly Noted

Why  liberals support the “other side”.

Even mankind’s best ideas are not immune against abuse. The record, such as mass murder in the name of God –the Wars of religion in Europe, Islamism-  secular salvation –Socialism’s GULAG- make the point. 

A note jotted down in response to something your correspondent has read says, “Liberalism (in the American sense of the term) is applied hypocrisy”. At first, this appeared to be a finding that this column could not use and so the memo seemed to be headed for oblivion. Upon some reflection, that was not to be.

To begin, a correction is in order. A few years ago, the caveat regarding the American meaning of “liberalism” would have avoided misleading associations. By now, Europe’s Liberals have also fallen victim to the vulnerability of their US ilk. As a result, they have become Social Democrats in their soul. This Achilles heel of Liberalism’s mutations comes from a commitment and of an aversion. If properly applied both express ethical values and are even essential for the function of freedom as a system. As we know, the difference between medicine and poison is the amount of the potion. The adage is true in Liberalism’s inclination to let freedom  degenerate into license.

Dangerous Weapons for Dangerous People

Confirmed by Chamberlain: negotiations bear risks. 

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We begin with a quote. Without intending to do so, it reveals more than its source might care to divulge. “Iran’s government blasted Dr. Shaheed’s report as not being objective”. (He is the UN’s Human Right Rapporteur in Iran.) An Iranian official said that Shaheed "has not paid sufficient notice to Iran's legal system and Islamic culture and he considers whatever he sees in the West as an international standard for the entire world."

Noteworthy subliminal warnings hide in this statement. The key components are “Iran’s legal system,” her “Islamic culture” and “the West as a standard for the world”. The phrasing reveals the perspective of Iran’s government and its quality as a treaty partner. This reflects on the nuclear weapons area where trust is, more than formal pacts, crucial. The assumed intent is in the nuclear realm more important than the treaty right to blame cheaters. Once a swindle is unmasked, the defrauded party has options. One is to sue before an international tribunal. The other is to deliver a preventive nuclear strike. The first reaction is useless. The second one is as effective as it is unpleasant. 

The Right of Migration

When obvious remedies are difficult to implement.

The more crucial a subject, the more myths will shroud it. Pretentions, lies, and mindless conventions make it difficult to discuss such matters sensibly. Even more difficult is to avoid curses for crossing an arbitrarily red line that the sanctimonious exploit. The “refugee” crisis in the Mediterranean is such a taboo subject. Unless, of course, that one says what is “proper”, in which case, the pre-programmed answers make it superfluous to address the matter.

A subject that the wise avoid concerns the Mediterranean as a zone of death. The area owes its name to Africans that chase chimeras and to their morally castrated Arab exploiters that provide passage on vessels that are more likely to sink than to sail. Let us repeat the salient fats of the shocker that writes headlines. 

Not All Jokes Are a Laughing Matter

Humor is, as the reaction of dictatorships shows, an effective weapon.

Political jokes are more than expressions of vitriolic wit. Consider such jokes to be a sub-form of an art. It thrives in communities that are in a “prone position”, therefore powerless to strike back with other means. Accordingly, totalitarian dictatorship has been the context for the best political jokes. National-linguistic factors have enabled subjugated peoples to produce in their own way attacks on tyranny. At least in Hungary –whose case the writer knows best-  the collapse of communism has ended the era of hilarious political jokes. 

The reader that has not experienced totalitarianism will fathom only with difficulty the cultural-emotional dimension of humor used as a weapon of last resort. The exposure to such material is therefore an intellectual submergence in an alien culture. While humorless, totalitarians grasp that jokes are weapons and for that reason, they do not find fun funny. The case of a full railway compartment illustrates this. Someone makes funny remarks, folks smile, and then the mood gets better. Carried away, someone injects a political joke. The smiles freeze. However, one guy laughs loudly. “This one is great. I must jot it down. What is your name?” 

Revealing Tidbits

Duly Noted

Small items that define our time.

1. The Left is international. Due to the global spread of its creed, it is ”indigenous” in many places. Local conditions and traditions demand fitting camouflages. Because of this outward flexibility, what may be true in one place might not fit the appearances in another. The West’s Left derides all that smells patriotic and is aggressively pacifistic where the defense of a way of life and its institutions is concerned. In several underdeveloped states the Comrades organized as a party, are indistinguishable from their combat branch. In these cases, the Left is militant and nationalistic. Elsewhere the Left is pacifistic and claims that peace is best preserved if the victim disarms. 

Some Plain Talk About Rights

Disaster: Import an underclass, then give it with the free meal ticket the right to vote.

The right to vote is a key feature of the democratic order. This is so self-evident that one fears to state it. Now, a reason emerges to commit in favor of the sensible application of the principle. The reason is as stunning as it is threatening. This practice is now under attack by the multiculturalists and the Left. 

The right to vote is the ability to decide a group’s future. True, this right is not limited to balloting. The concept assumes that a choice is offered. When the writer was young, the police came to herd voters to the local “Council House”. There one was to vote for Our Beloved Party. Thus, the right to vote deteriorated into an obligation to legitimize oppression. There was no right to abstain or to vote “wrong”, that is for the “Class Enemy”, and against the Soviet “Camp of Peace”.

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