The modern world and its order – “Western Civ” would be, due to decades of global development, a dated term – has been repeatedly challenged by the foes of popular government and its economic pendant. The Fascist, National Socialist and Communist threat was repulsed when the states headquartering them were sunk. Still, the rejoicing in 1989 expressed more our euphoria than realism. A two-pronged leftist challenge remained. One comes from minor and therefore left-over rogue states committed to violent collectivism and self-genocide. It is welded to a third-world based racial-national world-view that is strong on mythology and weak on facts. The other, more dangerous wing of the assault comes from within. Not sailing under ones own flag has its advantages – the term “stealth” occurs. So this Left calls itself “Liberal” in the US and “Social Democratic” in Europe. If words have a meaning they are neither of these.
This moment’s main intellectual-military challenge flows from a re-thread. Its fountainhead is an ideology that differs in a detail from the threats already listed. The not-so-subtle reference is to the Islamic states and movements.
While the leftists are atheistic and some Jihadists label themselves as the “Party of God,” the seeming difference does not imply incompatibility. Once we penetrate the membrane of official atheism and religious nut-hood, the strategic nexus prevails. The Nazis, Communists, Fascists and Islamists share defining mutual dislikes. Beyond that, while they use a different vocabulary, the catch-words that express their hates are, once “translated,” identical. These movements share, a common “enemy-of-the-moment.” All are ideological, regardless of whether their creed is secular or religious. All allege that “history is on our side” and consider their “cause” predestined to triumph as this victory represents the will of the Force that moves mankind. The movement’s Truth is Success. All agree that the enemy is, to the extent of its seeming success, decadent and therefore destined for the garbage heap of history. All demonstrate, being carriers of a cause of the “chosen”, an inclination to disregard the risks created by their comportment.
This feature implies that rational dissuasion is unlikely to work in dealing with such entities. Pre-destination also brings about the conviction of infallibility. That, combined with embodying “the logic of history,” leads to the emergence of a Leader. He is the Rousseauian crystallization of the movement and thus represents the “New Man” to emerge at the end of the educational process the totalitarian dictator conducts as an agent of “History.”
Quite in tune with the logic of its assumptions, this foe is tenacious, fanatical and thus willing to pay any price for “final victory.” Here the term needs to be elaborated for those who have not lived under totalitarianism. Final victory is not a “place under the sun” – what entities such as Israel but also many Western countries covet. Totalitarian ideology is always global (a consequence of the term “total”) and sees its destiny as becoming identical with mankind. In case of Mussolini, Hitler and the USSR, the idea was ridiculous – but at least a spiced version of the imaginable. With North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela or Ahmedinedjad’s Iran, the discrepancy between the ambition and the means is striking. To the reasonable observer, that is. But it is exactly the delusion implicit in such creeds that makes what is unachievable a (costly) goal.
It is the thesis of this essay that, regardless of what the outsider might dismiss as “insanity” and therefore as something that is “not meant seriously,” such programs are as “sincerely meant” as their leaders allege. Therefore, these “Leaders” and systems are committed to the madness’ implementation. The commitment means that the stated goal’s pursuit is “serious.” This is the case, regardless of what sane persons might consider to be the inadequacy of the means for turning the world upside down. The same applies to the price to be paid by the luckless under the control of the dictatorship pursuing the project.
It is at this juncture of criminal lunacy that one encounters a factor working to the advantage of such projects. North Korea’s baby-faced murderer aiming a nuclear lance, Iran’s soon-to-be atomic Mullahs and the rocket-slinging Hezbollah – have you noticed that they only kills Israelis but never innocent civilians? – get political support that is of greater value than their armaments are. After all: weapons are not worth more than the political context in which they are applied. Violence-prone extremists are largely effective on account of the under-reaction of their direct victims, and especially through the inaction of their secondary foes, who think they enjoy immunity earned by good behavior.
Significantly, the above applies to the radical Islamists. Their characteristics enable them to exploit the misjudgment of their intended victims. Consider this: Islamists are a religious movement. We are told to respect the religion of others (more than our own) as we are committed to the freedom of religion. Furthermore, ex-colonial peoples – even if, when they had the strength they subjugated others – enjoy special rights. Then there is “multiculturalism.” Whatever can be covered by this label is to be tolerated, even greeted, unless one wishes to appear a redneck. Finally, being anti-Western demands tolerance by those who view the spots on their own civilization with a magnifying glass while scanning the inadequacies of other cultures through a wide-angle lens. Let those who apply such standards be called “emphatizers” below.
Those, who for whatever reason are committed to empathize with whatever selected groups might do, are quickly self-tagged as being “reasonable” for their comportment. This term suggests that a compromise might be possible with those who are made unbending by a principle that supercedes logic. Pleading for “understanding,” at least inadvertently, a modicum of acceptance is created, whereby those who oppose extremist impositions are disarmed. The moderate empathizer’s plea for the tolerant understanding of radical policies (they like to call them momentary and isolated excesses provoked by the frustration of an original “victim”) legitimizes these. Especially so when it is secretly assumed that cooperative inaction is safer than outright opposition.
The role played by these sympathetic empathizers – insightfully Lenin called them useful idiots – is manifold. For one thing, undaunted by the atrocities they pooh-pooh, it is suggested that a compromise with forces that regard giving an inch to gain a foot as unprincipled, is possible. If effectively presented this prevents prophylactic action against extremist threats. Once the menace is muted into action, one-sided empathy “explains” the motives by putting the blame on the injured party. On the heels of such admonitions follows the warning that restraint is to be used in responding to the tort. If not then more radicalism will the consequence. Steps leading from “understanding” to “advocacy” and then “support” follow. Much of it is embedded in slogans such as “violence does not solve anything” and that “root causes” but not the (embarrassing) case at hand must be dealt with. The unintended effect: for the want of resistance the use of force becomes a rewarding tactic.
In part, the peace-lover’s fact-defying kindness toward violent movements is an imposition of the “Gutmensch’s” projection of his own values on extremists. In this light radicalism is not “normal” and must therefore be a regrettably exaggerated reaction to some major injustice. Separating oneself from this past wrong in the present is thought to placate those moved by history’s inequities. This fallacy is supported by a self deceptive interpretation of the “Weltanschauung” of the perpetrators.
Sympathizers judge the creed that determines the methods and the goals of extremists organized on its basis by a few carefully selected components. Thus one could once argue that “Nazis only want a well functioning disciplined community that guarantees fairness and respect.” Likewise, Marxists mainly “wish to create a fair society where all are equal.” Can you skeptical folks see how much this resembles the claim that it is “self-evident that all men are created equal?” The trick of delusion and self delusion transforms the black bull into a white Billy-goat. It also makes out of beliefs, whose practical success derived from their ability to mobilize for war, into creeds of peace. The characteristic of such self delusionary disinformation is that it creates a paralyzing mirage by refusing to consider the entire ideology and its universal ambition in the light of the actions taken under its guidance.
The outcome creates the illusion of a respectable movement that merely seeks justice based on reason that makes it ultimately compatible with the values of modern democratic culture. With that accomplished the circle that started from well meaning empathy leading to sympathy and then proceeding to protective advocacy is closed. The result is that a chronic and doctrine-based threat is not perceived as such. Its peril grows, to the extent that its inadvertent advocates camouflage it, to be greater than its objective means alone would allow it to be. The upshot is not unlike the case of an uncovered man-whole along the sidewalk. It can break your bones only if you overlook the trap lurking once the fog descended.