Yesterday Lawrence Auster posted a reply to my previous post with Geza's "Night and Day" analysis. I've been too busy with other things to respond to Lawrence Auster today, but instead I can share with you what Geza has written to me since. Yesterday, immediately after Auster's post he wrote this in defense of his analysis:
This happened before Kalb expanded on his Islam/Ultra-liberalism theory. In that excerpt wasn't he essentially saying that given a choice between Islam and Ultra-liberalism, he'd choose Islam, much like he'd prefer American Protestantism over Islam, and Catholicism over American Protestantism. He didn't indicate that as a Catholic, he'd rather live in an Islamic society over an ultra-liberal one, but that he considers Islam to be better. Of course we know now that he'd rather live as a Catholic under Islam and not as a Muslim but from that initial post that was not clear. I was comparing Auster's initial shock to the correspondent to his rather sober response to Kalb's Islam/Ultra-liberalism statement which lacked the caveat that of course Kalb meant "as a Catholic". I read Kalb's follow-up on your blog and may have missed an earlier one but, this only mitigates the damage of Kalb's statement, it is still awful in its own right. I think the minimum that you expected from Auster was shock and some concrete criticisms, not him writing out Kalb from Western Civilization, declaring him a traitor and cutting off all correspondence with him.
Today, after more comments had been added to Auster's post, Geza sent me the following, where he adds to the VFR commenter David G, and clarifies why this discussion is of importance. Bolding of David's text is by Geza, and he intersperses his own comments in brackets:
Reprinting it here cause it's so good:
David G. writes:
In an earlier entry to you I asked if Jim Kalb had defined himself as a fifth-columnist. You replied that this was somewhat unfair to Kalb and asked me to consider his position in greater depth. Your most recent post clarifies the issue for me and I understand clearly the distinction that you are drawing between Kalb and Conservative Swede.
While it's a good rendering on your part I have to opt for the view of CS. Implicit in Kalb's defense of Islam over advanced liberalism is the likelihood of Kalb ultimately embracing Islam. And, if not Kalb himself, I would conjecture that a good number of his adherents would. [Geza1 comments: Which is what you have been saying ALL ALONG and you at least have some proof in the case of Desmond Jones]- - - - - - - - - -
Another way to view the dilemma might be: In the extreme, would Kalb (and his adherents) be willing to die a martyr or would he opt for Islam and its transcendent civilizing function that he deems to superior to advanced liberalism? In short, convert or die. Maybe he would be willing to die as such--but where would that get him except maybe a place in heaven? What about his children? How would they live? As Muslims probably. Checkmate. [Geza1: Kalb likes to say that Christianity has a place in Islam but he doesn't realize the precarious position Christian communities find themselves under Islam, chances are, his descendant will eventually become Muslim even though he may live his life out as a Christian]
In the hypothetical question that you posed--how would you or I respond to a siege by Muslims in a secular city where Christianity is banned?--I felt that I had answered the question in my initial post. I would tumble the dice in favor of Western, secular man any day. At least with that group we share a varied common history--Plato, Aristotle, the Greek city states, the Bible, the Magna Carta, Shakespeare, the Enlightenment, the Founding of the American nation, art, literature, rule of law, chivalry, romantic love, humor, ribaldry, satire, Mozart, Beethoven, the scientific method, etc. There is more fertile ground there for a Western revival than in any of the so-called transcendent impulses of Islam. [Geza1: For Kalb, it's Christianity or nothing. It appears that no matter what survives of the West, if Christianity is not part of that "package", then he could care less. Conversely, if only Christianity survived and not Aristotle, Mozart, Magna Carta, etc I doubt that he'd be too upset.]
As I understand the CS, he has it right, that, at least for Kalb, the key question of existence has been reduced to "is this good for Christianity."[Geza1: Christianity on its own cannot insure the survival of the West because it is concerned with its own survival that exists outside of the Western template. This is evident in the missionary activity in the Third World done by all denominations and the Christian open-border fanatics who want us to import more "authentic" Christians from the Third World who will teach us (godless materialists) how to be Christian again. Billy Graham doesn't care if the white race exists 5000 years from now, Pope Benedict XVI thinks it is our highest calling to give the refugee shelter, and the Russian Orthodox Church is more concerned with ethnic Russians converting to Hinduism than Muslims moving into Russia. The racial cohesion Christianity possessed at one point seems to be spent and with a diminishing sense of peoplehood, how can it be expected to defend Western civilization if it is only interested in one aspect of that civilization? If the unrestrained universalism of Christianity is either not corrected or at the very least restrained, it will lead the West into oblivion.]
A reasonable question perhaps but one that is a failure of imagination when played out an apocalyptic level such as the one we are discussing here. I think that Jim Kalb's view of advanced liberalism is fevered and it reveals him to be, if not a potential Islamic fifth columnist (opting for martyrdom instead), then surely a fellow-traveler with Islam until the day of reckoning arrives. Not good.
To further along, and ultimately embrace Islam or martyrdom, is the end of everything notwithstanding the adaptability of some mutated form of underground Christian worship. I [see] that CS, despite his own knee-jerk categorization of your own views, has struck on a key point--namely, that a significant expression of traditional conservatism (Kalb's) ultimately lacks an instinct for survival and proves to be to be just another dead-end when pushed to its logical conclusions.
This discussion has been fascinating so far. I just hope that in the future that Auster sees the value of this discussion instead of getting offended. You might want to tone down on the snark so Auster doesn't have anything to complain about. He's been guilty of it before for sure, but it's important to keep this discussion going even if you respond indirectly to each other.
Thank you, Geza! Your contributions to this discussion have been invaluable. I will have to add my own comments tomorrow. For now I would just like to say, that Lawrence Auster is indeed a good man who always sees the value of discussion. He's in fact simultaneously getting offended and seeing the value of this discussion here, both at the same time. Lawrence could easily have buried this whole thing, but instead he continued the debate all the time, and included a comment from this David G. already a week ago. It's from there I borrowed the description of Jim Kalb as a "fifth columnist waiting to happen".
And its this side of him that made me write "Auster is not a constant". Quite as Auster describe me as an "intellectual seeker", I see the same side in him. With saying "Auster is not a constant" I meant to say, that if there indeed is something of substance in what I sniffed up here, and that there is an aspect in which Auster is taking a wrongful stance, that presently could be projected into him becoming too weak in future situations regarding Islam, that I do not necessarily expect him to remain in this position. Just because he's always in an ongoing intellectual process. He's not a constant.