Our Children Are The Guarantors

Defending Zionism from its detractors. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. Let the other side apologize for a change.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Alliance of the Pristinians

In this post I cover another important unholy alliance against the West: that of the spiritual Left with Islam. I use the term “spiritual Left” to distinguish it from left-wing secularists and atheists, most prominently the Marxists. Although both are allied with Islam, their reasons are different.

The puzzlement aroused by the alliance of the secular Left with Islam is, in my opinion, minuscule in comparison to that aroused by the alliance of most (not all, but nearly so, just as with secularists) hippies, New Agers, pagans, environmentalists and the like with the Muslims against the West. For all the Marxists’ delusions, at least one thing can be said for them: they recognize Islam to be a political movement, not a spiritual one, and form their alliance with them out of political expedience. But the spiritual Left see Islam as a spiritual movement like theirs, yet they ally themselves with it against the Judeo-Christian West although Islamic doctrine holds Islam to be Abrahamic, to be more Jewish than Judaism and more Christian than Christianity. Nor is Islam friendly toward so many practices of the spiritual Left, such as “free love”, homosexuality, nature worship, magic, divination and polytheism (that last is the worst crime in Islamic eyes, the unpardonable sin).

What do we make of this alliance, then? Is it a simple case of, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”? I think the answer is yes, but more than that. I think that, for all the irreconcilable differences Islam and the spiritual Left, there are ties, spiritual ties, that bind them. Of course, the Muslims themselves are glad to have those useful idiots at their disposal. But as the secular Left sees the Koran as a socialist manifesto, so the spiritual Left sees it as yet another collection of Upanishads. What feeds the attraction of the spiritual Left to Islam? I submit that the answer is primitivism.

Primitivism goes, at least in systematic form, all the way back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78). The idea that the primitive, natural state of humanity is the most beneficial branched off into the Historical Materialism of Karl Marx, which sought to solve the human problem by bringing it back to an idealized “classless society” of the past; and into the various New Age movements, striving to save the planet by bringing it back to its trouble-free pre-human days (just don’t tell them about the Permian extinction…), or bringing humanity into a healthier mental state by ridding it of those pesky Judeo-Christian inhibitions, or calling the New Age by going back to pre-monotheistic religions.

For the primitivist, feelings are key, and romanticism trumps all evidence, or indeed any need to gather evidence. Pre-human mass extinctions are glossed away, or excused because they were acts of Mother Nature rather than of “Bible-based human rape of the Earth”. Human sacrifice performed by Aztec, Ashanti or Babylonian polytheists is shrugged by the rationale that “the atrocities of the British colonials were much worse”. Historical records of class warfare and inequality in primitive societies is trodden underfoot, or shredded in the razor of revisionism. And slave-trading by Christians is marshaled as an example of Biblical corruption, while slave-trading by Muslims does not cause the primitivist Leftists to bat an eyelid. The myth of a pre-human or pre-capitalist or pre-Biblical Garden of Eden has to be maintained, no matter the facts, for else how can the narrative of the fall from there, instigated by the human or capitalist or Judeo-Christian snake, thrive?

Picture: an Aztec calendar
An Aztec calendar. From Wikipedia.

Did you see the movie King Kong? (Any of the versions.) If you did, what was your reaction to the scene where the natives of Skull Island put Ann (or Dwan) to sacrifice while the drums go on beating?

Picture: a Skull Island drummer beating the drum, from the 2005 King Kong.
A native of Skull Island beats the drum while Ann is lowered into Kong’s lair. From the 2005 version.

If your reaction included a “…BUT that’s their native culture” or something of that sort, you may well be part of the spiritual Left. If looking at the natives, frenzied, unclean, unkempt and malnourished, sends a surge of admiration down your spine, you’re probably not only of the spiritual Left, but also already allied with the Muslims against the West.

Picture: a Skull Island girl, from the 2005 King Kong.
A native girl of Skull Island.

The average Westerner’s knowledge of the Muslim world and Islam still stems from romantic sources, feeding a Laurentian (after T. E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia) admiration of Arab and Islamic culture, no different from 18th-century Enlightenment Europeans trying to find their own soul, their very own authenticity, in primitive cultures, in “noble savages”. The “Palestinians” are, in this narrative, Incas, the Iraqis Native North Americans, the Muslims as a whole keepers of the flames of resistance against Western, Judeo-Christian colonialism raping native peoples and the planet’s resources. Under a primitivist framework that excuses Aztec human sacrifice, one can easily excuse as native culture similar features in Islam.

Picture: Hizbullah fighters with suicide vests strapped on them
Hizbullah natives getting ready for performing human sacrifice.

Where other eyes look at the unkempt hair as a sign of neglect, at the rotting tooth as a disease that should be cured, and at human sacrifice, Aztec or Islamic, as something that a person ought to be serving quite a few years inside for, primitivists excuse it all, make apologies for it. As the hard childhood excuses the murderer and foists the blame upon the society that took away the man’s innocent childhood (of which G-d has a different opinion—see Genesis 8:21), so the primitivists transfer the blame of suicide terrorism away from the Muslims and onto the European, American or Zionist colonialists. Primitive good, modern bad.

Picture: collage of pictures of hippies
Best as untouched by the sophisticated clutter of civilization as possible. Collage from a Daily Kos diary.

“Why does G-d not bring people into the world circumsized?”, the Roman commander Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva. For the spiritual Left, nothing has changed. Rabbi Akiva’s answer was to offer Turnus Rufus freshly-picked stalks of wheat to eat, at which the Roman naturally protested that it was not in an edible state. Rabbi Akiva then fired the winning shot: that was the proof of what G-d says (in Genesis 2:3), “…of all His work that G-d created to do”, meaning that the world was created for changing things, not for glorying in its primitive state (and that verse, remember, comes before the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden!).

Now the question may be raised as to how the woolly, postmodern, “anything goes if it feels good” spiritual Left can reconcile itself with a religion of one god, of scriptural revelation and of absolute certainty. On the face of it, it looks as if never the twain shall meet, but Islam, for all its talk about certainty, suffers from great weakness in that regard. Perhaps it’s a reaction: the assumption of absolute certainty as a cover for the inability to achieve it.

The Jewish religion is only for the Jewish people, yet the requirements of evidence that G-d has bestowed upon the Jews are stringent: no fewer than the fathers of the entire nation were to behold His giving of revelation, the Torah. Consequently, the claims of all other religions since have been judged paltry in Jewish eyes. Christianity claims many eyewitnesses for the resurrection of Jesus, but that’s not enough for a believing Jew—he requires that the fathers of all living religionists be eyewitnesses of the formative event of a religion. Still, the (for Jews) insufficiency of the number of eyewitnesses for Christianity’s formative event is next to nothing against that of the event of the revelation of the Koran to Mohammed. Here the number of eyewitnesses is so insufficient that not just a Jew, not just a Christian either, but any judge sitting on the court of law would throw the case out: one man. Only one man. The god of Islam revealed the Koran to one man, with no other human participants, and we are supposed to take it all on blind faith.

Yet there are more than a billion Muslims. How can that be, with such a shaky foundation? They do have rationalizations for their belief in the Koran. Foremost among those is the Argument from Inimitability: that the Koran is written in such a style that no one has ever succeeded in producing a similar work, or ever will.

The jaw drops at such an argument. To rest your entire life on literary or poetic judgment! Yet that really is the prime argument for Koranic divinity, there being no eyewitness case as in Judaism or Christianity. Subjective judgment, the type of which applies to the works of Shakespeare or Molière, is touted as proof. The feeling of being swept off one’s feet by the style of the Koran does it all for the Muslim believer. The contrast with the Torah, containing various styles according to the best fit (narrative when G-d wants to narrate, poetry when Israel is to be readied for prophecy, and so on), could not be starker.

And so the primitivist love of pre-Columbian lore, of the sight of snake-charmers playing next to their basket and of Chinese calligraphy meets the foundation of Islam: feelings of being carried away. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but to base one’s very way of life upon it is, to put it bluntly, lunacy.

Islam and the spiritual Left both rest their beliefs upon subjective feelings. They both view the past (Mohammed’s political system at Medina, America before the Europeans arrived) as flawless, and as something that needs to be restored. And whatever failures they run into they explain away as unfairness and oppression on part of the unbelieving or unprimitive West.

And the rest is history being made now in our lifetimes.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous religion of pieces said...

You won't find many Buddhists and Hindus who are willing to ally themselves with Islam. And it isn't just the recent events in Mumbai, Kashmir, Bamiyan and Thailand that are the problem.

The Islamic lunatic asylum that is now Afghanistan and Pakistan was once a peaceful and prosperous Graeco-Buddhist land ruled by enlightened monarchs such as King Ashoka.

Muslims have slaughtered more Hindus and Buddhists than Christians and Jews.

August 25, 2006 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Poison P'il said...

Wow... you went to the top half of my favorite blogs in 15 minutes... I admit I got here because of the "Allahu Akbar -- It's the New Seig Heil!" crack, and truly hop for more of the same, but the depth and intelligence of your writing will have me coming back for awhile to ponder your thoughts.

Pity about the contest; I'd have entered "Allah FUBAR!" had I known about it.

Cheers!

August 25, 2006 10:38 AM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

rop,

I need more info, lots of info, on the jihad in Thailand. It breaks every assumption that Leftist sympathy with Islam is based on.

I say also, that not even all left-wingers are allied with Islam. There are those who are against Islam, and even side with the US and Israel, out of the calculation that Jewish or Christian "fanaticism" is less dangerous than the Islamic kind. I don't care what reason--anyone who is against Islam, whether Bible-believing or not, is fulfilling the last clause of Genesis 16:12 and should be welcomed.

Poison P'il,

I'm complimented.

Your sentiments are the same I had about Gates of Vienna when I first visited it. I definitely take after Baron Bodissey and Dymphna in striving to be an elucidator of ideologies and unholy alliances.

I've seen "Allah FUBAR" quite a lot (along with "Allahu Snackbar"). Even my winning entry may be, as I said on the comments on the contest thread, a spin-off of something that was already circulating in LGF. I really liked the LOTR slogan, "I bid you stand, men of the West!" Fitting and captivating.

August 25, 2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

I've just been comparing your argument about the necessary number of witnesses to divine revelation with this essay and thought this excerpt might interest you:

Even more, this [Jewish, monotheist] understanding of God opens the possibility of a linear, narrative understanding of history. There is a paradox in the Hebraic revelation: the universal God must be revealed to someone, and before He is universally accepted, those caretakers of the revelation will have to bear witness to the reality of this invisible, inscrutable God. Jewish history thus becomes a drama of universal interest, in which the Jews’ faithfulness to the covenant is tested by events, and in which events take on meaning as punishments or rewards for (in)sufficient faith—punishments and rewards which we can already see in the Bible (as Spinoza noted) are effects of the community’s ability to sustain what are simply the conditions of existence of a self-governing nation. Here, then, in the community that testifies to the particular universal revelation vouchsafed it by history, we see the origins of the modern nation.

A crucial question in the West’s relation to Islam is whether Islam contains such a mechanism of self-criticism that would allow for self-governing communities. As a non-expert, going according to what I hear, even from voices sympathetic to Islam, and those wishing to present it in terms palatable to citizens of the Western democracies, it seems to me that the defeats and disappointments of Muslim communities are far more likely to be attributed to external intrigues and internal betrayals than to failures attributed to and shared by the community as a whole, thereby requiring further deferral of divine promises pending collective repentance. No other element of our Judaic heritage is more important to communicate to Islam, if it is to indeed be transformed into a form of faith compatible with the modern world, than a narrative structure that encourages perpetual renewals of the community’s relation to the sacred origin (and one that accepts irretrievable loss) rather than simply reiteration of the original terms of the revelation.

The universal morality extracted from the egalitarian structure of the originary scene by Judaism is then made available to each individual through the Christian revelation. In demonstrating that the Jewish teaching on God must transcend any particular collectivity, Jesus’ preaching returns each of us to our undifferentiated place within the originary event (where the mimetic crisis undoes pre-human animal hierarchies). In so doing, though,

“Jesus focuses all differential attention on himself, becomes the universal object of desire and resentment. Conceived in opposition to worldly difference, the prophecy of the moral kingdom absorbs all difference to itself; the resentment formerly diffused through the social hierarchy is now concentrated on the person of the prophet, who inevitably becomes its unique victim. He who comes to abolish ethical difference arrogates to himself by that very act an absolute difference. The crucifixion makes the prophet of universal reciprocity the unanimously chosen victim of this difference. But as Saul’s conversion will demonstrate, and as the parallel with the originary scene suggests, universal persecution is equivalent to divinization” (Science and Faith, 98-9).

Now, the question of whether God actually spoke to Moses through the burning bush or to the Jewish people at Sinai; or Jesus in fact rose from the dead, are secondary to the anthropological knowledge contained in these revelations. The revelations are what Gans calls “auto-probatory”: events that must have occurred for the discourses concerning them to have been composed. What would it mean, in other words, to say that someone “made up” Moses’ dialogue with God? Whoever made it up must have experienced something themselves, or been privy to such an experience, that “matched” the account. If something utterly unique, and yet containing universal, and urgent, truth, has occurred to me, by definition I must discover or invent the terms through which I could convey it to you, and there is no possible arbiter between differing modes of conveying that truth. And the question of whether it is the truth, then, can only be answered by whether you and others in turn become witnesses to that experience.

So, if you are able to cultivate a consistent resentment toward attempts to occupy and control the sacred, then you have “proven” the Jewish truth; if you are ready to take upon yourself the “absolute difference” of the one who declares the truth of universal reciprocity precisely in antagonism towards what is most sacred to your community, then you have “proven” the Christian truth. And the more you offer or, indeed, embody, such proof, the more the narratives in which they have come to be conveyed seem the best or even only (or, at least, to imply, include, or point to, the more seriously one comes to take them, the best or only) way in which they could be conveyed.

September 02, 2006 4:39 AM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

truepeers,

Thanks, it's thought-provoking. The phrase there "the egalitarian structure of the originary scene by Judaism" is especially important. We Jews have been at war with Hellenism for so long (that's what Chanukkah is about). We still don't accept Greek thought whole, of course, because a lot of it runs against G-d's orders. But if Western democracy is indebted to Ancient Greece for the very concept (of democracy), then it is equally indebted to Judaism, as that phrase shows, in that the spirit of Judaism was responsible for the idea that democracy should be for all people and not just for an elite (which it was in Ancient Greece). Islam has none of that. As far as this period is concerned, the Jews and the Greeks are now in the same boat against the anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian force of Islam.

Another thing, at the beginning of your excerpt a divine paradox is mentioned. In this case it's about historical revelation and intervention from Him who is beyond time. There are lots of such divine paradoxes. One of the paradoxes I intend to write about, G-d willing, is about the paradox of free will and divine intervention working together. A great part of it is already in my head. In short, and that's true for all divine paradoxes, is that the notion of "paradox" when said of G-d involves the error of putting G-d in a human box. Isaiah 55:8-9 warns against that error.

September 03, 2006 12:02 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

zy,

Yes, we must respect the irreducible quantum of mystery that is part of human being. Hence your own paradoxical formulation, nonetheless pointing, despite itself, towards G-d: "the notion of "paradox" when said of G-d involves the error of putting G-d in a human box. "

But what is the human box? It's interesting that the Chinese don't have a word for paradox - they have the idea but I'm told they have not reduced it to a single word, and so my basic dictionary also suggests (though perhaps now that they read western philosophy they have a technical word for it). It's not because paradox is foreign to Chinese thinking; no, it's quite the reverse: in their Daoist spirit, they accept paradox as the normal and natural way of things. Unlike the Hellenic tradition of which you speak, they don't make paradox into an object to be conquered, a problem to be solved, ironed out by reason, till we convince ourselves it's not there any more. Of course, the paradox of our existence is still there, here, somewhere we hope.

But if not paradox, what shall we call the seemingly "paradoxical" revelations of G-d?

Consider Kafka, for example: Knowledge of oneself is something only Evil has.

Anyone who believes cannot experience miracles. By day one cannot see any stars.

The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last.


Are you suggesting that it is a mistake to speak in these terms?
I would encourage that vein of anthropological thinking that explores paradox. Paradoxical thinking, after Eric Gans, is a post-metaphysical mode of thought that does not try to bring an end to paradox but in embracing it, peels back the layers of the historical onion as much we can, in order to understand the human iterations if not the original faith/"reason" behind the centrality of paradox in human culture.

September 03, 2006 2:46 AM  

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