Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Auster's tone deaf attacks on Spencer

I hate it when people are overly obsessed by a too simplistic concept, like IQ. Any intelligent person knows that intelligence is far more complex and diverse than that. Psychologist Howard Gardner suggest that we should speak in terms of seven different intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Lawrence Auster is extremely talented in some of them, while failing miserably in others. This explains for the fact of how he in one situation will appear as brilliant and in the other as utterly tone deaf. His obsessive attacks on Robert Spencer is such a case of Auster being totally tone deaf.

The fact that a person with such comparatively high mainstream profile, as Robert Spencer, speaks out clearly for ending all Muslim immigration to the U.S., should be applauded. But how does Auster decide to play that ball? He makes it into a pretext for the goriest sort of attacks, ending up on the lowest sort of personal level.

While there is definitely a point in criticizing fellow counter-Jihadists, when they haven't rooted out liberalism or political correctness sufficiently from their minds, the way that Auster completely torpedoes every personal relation with every anti-Jihadist there is, is a sign of (should we say) as serious lack of intelligence, in an important respect.

I know what I'm talking about here, because if there is something that is typical of me it is how I use most of my time in criticizing fellow counter-Jihadists and pointing out any poisonous sign of liberalism or political correctness I find with them. I'm an exorcist, but I'm a friendly sort of priest. My aim is to encourage people to better themselves. Yes, exorcism hurts, but the purpose is good. And if I find that I'm about to lose the contact with the subject, I stop the treatment for a while. I never burn any bridges (well, the bridge to Lawrence Auster is burned down, but guess who burnt it?). My relations with people such as Baron Bodissey, Paul Belien and Robert Spencer have at times been tense, but never lead to a complete break. Instead the dialog over strong disagreements rather intensify the relation and the trust. The talent here is not so much in me as in people as the ones I mentioned above, but at least I'm wise enough not to close the window (or smash it apart) to the opportunity of a continued constructive dialog.

I do not think that Robert Spencer should be the least worried about Auster's obsessive tirades. There's not a single anti-Jihadist of importance on this planet that takes it seriously. Everybody knows that Auster falls out with everybody. I might as well ask Auster himself, since I know he will be reading this (he always searches for his own name at other blogs): Can you name a single anti-Jihadist of any significance that takes your attacks on Robert Spencer seriously?

Lawrence Auster is as isolated from the rest of the anti-Jihad movement as Charles Johnson. While Robert Spencer is one of the most important front soldiers of it. People like Robert Spencer and Melanie Phillips are waging the battle in the hostile open fields, proselytizing among the uninitiated, while Auster is sitting philosophizing in his castle. Auster is clearly completely tone deaf to the fact of how you have to weigh your words if you want an article published in e.g. the Daily Mail. Auster should try to get something published in the Daily Mail himself. But he seems to think that it is preferable not to publish in such mainstream papers. He seems to think it is superior to just write at a small blog, while pondering upon what he consider to be the "objective truth" (he seems to think that he thereby, somehow, would find a transcendent key to reach all people). In this respect he reminds me of the all-or-nothing attitude among liberals (in how, if they cannot get metaphysically unconstrained freedom, they rather not have it at all).

An important, and impressive, quality of Lawrence Auster is in how early he saw through the PC/liberal charade and spoke out against it (under his real name). But it is only interesting for so long to repeat how he certainly said so first and long before the person he's currently attacking. When it ends up being his main argument against that person, it's only childish. Auster with his pioneering brilliant analyses, had the potential of becoming an important intellectual leader. But due to the deficiencies of other sides of his personality, he seriously blew that possibility. And now he's dug himself too deep into the trenches to get out. But there is a way out even for Lawrence Auster, and that way goes through Christianity. Christianity offers the concepts of regret and forgiveness that offers a way out even from the trenches that Auster has dug himself down into. He should try it. He would find that there are many people who are willing to welcome him back into the crowd.

[End of post]

26 comments:

El said...

i have been reading a lot of lawrence auster's stuff recently. he does indeed seem to turn his fire on everybody on the counter-jihad side eventually, but as an observer, i find it very intellectually stimulating.

he is a very smart guy (as you note), very incisive, with a fantastic turn of phrase which often illuminates the very heart of a subject. on the downside, he can be a bit of a logic-chopper, and i think he has a tendency to read too much into what people say sometimes, condemning people's stances on a subject because of the most subtle grammatical nuances of what they have said.

as i said though, he is a fireball of ideas, spitting out a huge amount of thought-provoking stuff. i can see that it might get tiresome if you are the target of some of the angrier pieces, and it might seem counterproductive to some. but his willingness to go after anyone (and i mean ANYONE) is actually quite refreshing if you are lucky enough not to have any emotional stake in it. he leaves no turn unstoned, and though some stones are probably best left alone, perhaps you can't tell until someone comes along and kicks them all over the place.

anyway, that wasn't very coherent, but i find it hard to put into words exactly what i think he's doing at his site, at least with respect to islam. i'm happy for him to slate robert spencer, but not because i have a problem with robert spencer. i have great regard for robert, but his ideas need to be weighed and sifted as much as anyone else's. larry does that, which i consider a service rendered. if he's prepared to fall out with everyone over it, well, i suppose that's just the way he is.

your point about him being up there in his castle rather than down on the battlefield is absolutely true. but i think some useful stuff probably filters down from the castle.

El Ingles

Conservative Swede said...

Turning stones is a fine thing to do. It's when Lawerence Auster tries to squeeze water out of the stones that I lose interest and find him annoying. About 2/3 of what he writes is very good or excellent, the rest is overly rigid and/or sloppy.

From what you write, and the way you write it, I would say that your assessment of Auster's writing is primarily emotionally based. I also got carried away when I first encountered his site. There is so much to inspire you, and reading it provides the experience of being in a flow of enlightenment. It's something like reading the Da Vinci Code. But if you halt and look more critically at what he's writing, you'll find that about 1/3 is junk (although still excellently written in an intellectually inspiring way).

Natalie said...

I'm glad to see you finally posted on your blog, Conservative Swede ;)

I hadn't realised before that Auster and Spencer didn't - how shall I say it - get along. That disappoints me. I like a lot of Auster's writing but I respect Spencer a lot, too.

I still don't really understand Auster's point - I never thought Robert Spencer advocated Muslim immigration. Or am I missing something?

Conservative Swede said...

Natalie,

I hadn't realised before that Auster and Spencer didn't - how shall I say it - get along.

It's been going on for at least two years. It's easy to see who is driving the whole thing. Spencer is keeping good relations in all directions, while Auster starts fights and burn down bridges in all directions.

I still don't really understand Auster's point

Auster's "point" is that he enjoys tearing down other anti-Jihadists for the most petty of reasons. What could have been presented as constructive criticism, he takes and drives all the way into the mud. He despises most other anti-Jihadists and refer to them as the "Usual Suspects".

El said...

the fact that i could write "turn unstoned" instead of "stone unturned" is genuinely frightening.

you are right that there is an emotional element to my response to his site. his willingness to say whatever he thinks, however unpalatable it would be in some areas, is very liberating, even inspiring. but it is the quality of thinking that makes it worthwhile.

having said that, i cannot understand his agonizing over darwinism, and i am not sufficiently philosophically-inclined to try and make sense of some of the more abstruse discussions. it may be that my attitude to his site changes as your own has done. but i have certainly enjoyed reading it to date.

by the way, what sort of stuff did you think was junk?

Conservative Swede said...

the fact that i could write "turn unstoned" instead of "stone unturned" is genuinely frightening.

I just thought that was colloquial English for a more violent form of stone-turning. Seemed to fit with the kicking the stones all over the place, and (as I said) eventually ending up trying to squeeze water out of the stones.

You know I'm a great friend of turning every stone. But there has to be limits. Auster's site is like a revivalist movement, where he's the sole prophet always looking for signs. His writing is based on a few simple doctrines (about liberalism etc.) that are repeated over and over, applied to everything and everyone, in forever finding new signs of the truth of his doctrines.

He cannot accept other prophets, and by using the label the "Usual Suspects" he keeps them under constant attack. Especially if they say something useful and good, he makes sure to tear them down for not having said so before. When he cannot find anything useful to reveal, he starts kicking around the stones more violently and try to squeeze water out of them. Such as his "proof" of Spencer's alleged submission to political correctness, that he writes "Qur'an" instead of "Koran".

The whole "Usual Suspects" theme, which like so many of his other themes started off well, has turned into a sort of a game for him to see if there is some detail or aspect he can find that he could use to denigrate that person. But the premises of the game is such that he always can.

by the way, what sort of stuff did you think was junk?

As you already mentioned, anything with "Darwinism" in the title I never read. Also his many "conclusive" "proofs" of intelligent design I consider junk. And the way he spends an awful lot of time attacking good people and tear them down for the pettiest of reasons I consider junk. And then with his fervent "turn stoning" that knows no limits, he ends up producing junk at times in topics where he's otherwise good.

it may be that my attitude to his site changes as your own has done. but i have certainly enjoyed reading it to date.

No by all means, enjoy it! I know I have. Enjoy the revivalist movement of Austerian enlightenment. But bear in mind that it is a purely intellectual recreation, and that its usefulness is limited for real word anti-Jihadism.

Zenster said...

I think it would be wise for both Auster and Spencer to carry away an object lesson from Islam. One of the few things that has prevented Islam from conquering more of the free world is its almost congenital predisposition for internecine bloodshed. Were Muslims truly as monolithic as they pretend to be, we'd all be wearing turbans by now.

So it goes for the counter-jihad movement. There is a need for unity in the face of so vicious an enemy. Any inability upon our part to find a unanimous front will manifest in needless more thousands of lives lost to future terrorist atrocities.

An excellent example of this is how various other religions in the world need to put aside their differences and unite—quite possibly even with agnostics and atheists—just in order to preserve the individual right to freedom of belief.

Without such unity, this world's other religions and the counter-jihad movement could just as easily end up fiddling while Rome burns.

Zenster said...

El: the fact that i could write "turn unstoned" instead of "stone unturned" is genuinely frightening.

I just thought you were channeling Dame Diana Rigg.

latté island said...

I admire Auster, while I agree he has a difficult personality. It may have something to do with his being a New York Jew. I'm also one, and when I lived in New York, I also had a compulsion to win every argument, even when there was no argument. If he moved to California like I did, he'd mellow out too.

I also skip the Darwin/intelligent design stuff. I'm an agnostic and don't care one way or the other. When I die, if I wake up in heaven, I'll say, Cool! Otherwise, how can I have an opinion on metaphysics? But LA is a Christian, and a Jewish convert to Christianity at that, so OF COURSE he has to figure everything out for himself, as if that stuff mattered. Who knows, maybe it does?

He is also very brave to champion the cause of race realism, when that's the one thing that can get people kicked out of society.

I find him intimidating, and that's why I very, very rarely send him e-mail, but actually, I've known him to mellow out in the course of an exchange, both with me and others.

He just shouldn't live in New York, it makes people too intense.

Armance said...

I've read Lawrence Auster's blog for almost two years and I still like very much the majority of his articles & essays or comments, though I also skip his personal fights with other people or the anti-Darwinist part (I am not interested in it because, being culturally an Orthodox Christian, I know that it is impossible to demonstrate rationally the existence of God. Divinity is a mystery, a matter of ineffability - you believe in it or not. Look, for example, at Serge Trifkovic, who is also an Eastern Christian: he asserts his faith, but he is never involved in theological or “anti-Darwinist” discussions, because he knows faith is something you cannot share with other people through arguments).Skipping these parts, I think Auster is brilliant, witty, a man with a great mind and a vast knowledge of the Western culture and tradition (I remember, for example, his list of favorite Western books and authors, what is called today “dead white males”, and it mostly coincides with my list). I’ve learned many things from him, for example the courage to think about groups and patterns of behavior among groups (not only Muslims, but also blacks, women, etc.), a criticism of the most sacred commandment of the liberal establishment which is “you shall not generalize”.

I’ve never believed that Auster is a part of the counter-Jihad movement because he doesn’t belong to any movement. He is a lonely thinker and I guess he will remain this way. He is not even the typical conservative and will always choose a lonely road, this is his temper. We have two options: to enjoy his blog being aware of his personality or to ignore it. I prefer the former.

Conservative Swede said...

I admire Auster, while I agree he has a difficult personality.

I admire Robert Spencer. Auster is impressive in many ways, but he blew it.

When I die, if I wake up in heaven, I'll say, Cool!

Surely better than hot! :-)

I find him intimidating, and that's why I very, very rarely send him e-mail, but actually, I've known him to mellow out in the course of an exchange, both with me and others.

If he feels safe and not challenged then he acts like a normal person. But when he's no longer in the safe zone, where he feels that he's in control, he infallibly wrecks his personal relations in all directions.

Conservative Swede said...

Armance,

I still like very much the majority of his articles & essays or comments, though I also skip his personal fights with other people...

A main feature of Auster is in how highly productive he is. I read him like I read Nietzsche, keeping the golden nuggets, while throwing the junk away.

But you should read his personal fights with other people too. So that you'll get the true picture of the thinker you are reading. Otherwise you'll be reading his articles out of context. The thing with Auster is that he is a purist. Everything good can be taken too far, and Auster is a prime example. As a purist he misses the big picture, because he's too obsessed with the details that are clashing with his purity code. This is a main factor in generating his eternal quarrels with everyone. But this is who he is, and everything else he writes should be read in this light. Don't fall for the purism!

I’ve learned many things from him, for example the courage to think about groups and patterns of behavior among groups (not only Muslims, but also blacks, women, etc.), a criticism of the most sacred commandment of the liberal establishment which is “you shall not generalize”.

Actually you learned this from me. Nevertheless, I applaud how Auster came to the same insight independently.

He is not even the typical conservative

It's only in this weird world, in a society bereft of conservatism, that a man like Auster could present himself as conservative. And even then, only from his fortified Internet-based platform. His bad manners and cluelessness about how to engage in normal social transactions, would disqualify him from presenting himself as a conservative in a real life traditional society.

Conservative Swede said...

Zenster,

I think it would be wise for both Auster and Spencer to carry away an object lesson from Islam.

"Unity" is Spencer's middle name, Him and Baron Bodissey are the sort that are keeping people together. While Auster is the the sort that tears down every personal relation. In the end he can only accept himself as the prophet.

There's no doubt which one of them that needs this lesson.

And from having been on the receiving end of Auster's attacks I know how he consistently lies and distorts everything about the quarrel he started. His site is highly edited: the comments are highly edited, his exchanges with other people are highly edited, he posts selected parts of private conversation when and how he feels like it. He picks and chooses to paint the picture that he wants. And when you know, as I do, the real facts behind, before the manipulation of the image by Auster. When you, as I, have seen him lie and distort so consistently. Then you just cannot take him seriously anymore. All these other stories where he depict himself as the poor little righteous man under vicious attack from wicked people, why should they be believed since he so systematically lies and manipulates?

If I hadn't been such a decent person I would have published selected parts of our private conversations (something Auster regularly does himself), in order to show how systematically he's lying, and what a sanctimonious hypocrite he really is.

Conservative Swede said...

El Ingles,

If Auster truly had had a passion for turning every stone, then I would have respected him.

But when I turned a stone that he saw as threatening to his cult (about his mentor Jim Kalb, who is an Islam apologist), he went berserk; systematically lied, created a lot of high volume diversion noise by throwing piles of adjectives upon me, and wrote several sloppy things in defence of Islam (in addition to typical liberal tricks, such as describing me as someone who wants to kill all Muslims).

His interest is in his cult, not in the search for truth.

Armance said...

(in addition to typical liberal tricks, such as describing me as someone who wants to kill all Muslims).

Really? Did he say something as childish as that? Privately or on his blog? Amazing.

Conservative Swede said...

Armance,

In his blog.

You find it here:
Kalb vs. Conservative Swede on Islam, with Auster taking a middle position

And here is my asnwer to it:
Answer to Auster's comment

And here he takes the Vatican II position of "Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God" (note that according to Auster there is only one trancendent God, so that's the one he refers as the one the Muslims being devoted to):
More back and forth with Conservative Swede

Also notice how he weasels out from the "killing all Muslims" attack precisely as I predicted. And he even pretended that I never predicted it.

Look in my archive of June 2007 and you will find several articles by me about Lawrence Auster and Jim Kalb and their defence of Islam, and questions from me to Auster about his Islam apologism that he is never able to answer.

I think the funniest part was in how he presented as a difficult moral dilemma, a hypothetical case of a society where the churches had been forced to marry homosexuals (the true evil according to Auster and Kalb), and the Muslims waiting outside the city gate to attack. Should one let the Muslims in? A very difficult moral dilemma according to Auster. After all it's liberalism and not Islam that is the true evil.

Conservative Swede said...

More golden nugget of Islam apologism (and deranged hate of liberalism) by Auster. In reply to Jim Kalb's statement "I consider Islam better than contemporary advanced liberalism":

"On one hand, I can see this statement as coming from a consciousness that modern liberalism is so evil that anything, including Islam, would be better than it. Islam is not evil exactly; Islam is like a predator that you know will kill you and you have to protect yourself from it, but you don't hate it because it's simply its nature to be a predator, whereas modern liberalism is truly evil."
http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008076.html

And another one:
"Jim Kalb's position certainly raises interesting considerations, and even possible plots for a futuristic movie that may well happen some day. Let us imagine a community of Christians living in a city in a Europe in which Christianity has been effectively banned. This Europe has homosexual marriage, and requires churches to perform homosexual marriages, so that the still-believing, orthodox churches have officially shut their doors to escape this requirement. Meanwhile the Moslems are outside the city gates, trying to take over. They promise the Christians within the walls dhimmi status, freedom to follow their religion (with of course, all the dhimmi restrictions such as not being allowed to ring church bells, not being allowed to repair churches, having to pay jizya and get slapped on the face while paying it, and so on and so on), if the Christians will open the gates and help the Moslems take over. What should the Christians do? If Jim Kalb were their leader, what would he do? If I or David G. were their leader, what would we do?"
http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008143.html

awake said...

"And from having been on the receiving end of Auster's attacks I know how he consistently lies and distorts everything about the quarrel he started. His site is highly edited: the comments are highly edited, his exchanges with other people are highly edited, he posts selected parts of private conversation when and how he feels like it. He picks and chooses to paint the picture that he wants. And when you know, as I do, the real facts behind, before the manipulation of the image by Auster. When you, as I, have seen him lie and distort so consistently. Then you just cannot take him seriously anymore. All these other stories where he depict himself as the poor little righteous man under vicious attack from wicked people, why should they be believed since he so systematically lies and manipulates?"

Perfect analysis on how Auster operates.

Conservative Swede said...

Hey Awake,

So you are the guy who started this whole thing, eh? :-)

I guess it is easier to see how Auster distorts things when you have actually been part of the process.

And about what I wrote above, it's not so much an analysis as a detailed description of how Auster operates.

Welcome to my blog!

awake said...

Well, I wouldn't say I started it, but I was involved early :)

Thanks for the warm invitation.

Ypp said...

Auster's personality is exactly what one needs to defend his principles to death. I don't know whether Auster is right or wrong, but he really has some principled argument. His position is as follows: criticizing Islam from liberal positions, for not being liberal enough, is useless. Because liberalism, according to Auster, can only create problems, but not fix them. Thus, whatever Spenser says, his words don't change anything really, but only distracts from real problem. As far as I know, Auster was the first who came to such a conclusion. And it makes some sense.

As for Spencer, he's a nice guy. Though I never read his site, because cannot get the point why he publishes all that. But for general population, you know, they are silly and cannot swallow unpleasant truth, so he did a great job.

Maybe, the time of nice guys is over?

Conservative Swede said...

Ypp,

criticizing Islam from liberal positions, for not being liberal enough, is useless. Because liberalism, according to Auster, can only create problems, but not fix them.

Yes, that's a good summary of Auster's position, And I disagree with it. On the contrary, it's very good to criticize Islam from a liberal position (or any other position that is not considered far-right). This is the way to get many people on board. But Auster couldn't care less about this sort of success.

We are not going to be able to change people into 19th century conservatives, impossible. But we are able to teach them about Islam. And already that will change their views and priorities.

Ypp said...

Swede

So everything is fine and going as it should. Spenser educates population, Auster criticizes Spenser and thus produce new ideas. I don't know why those gals at Atlas Shrugs (what does it mean by the way?) decided to attack Auster, who is beyond their level of comprehension, but it may get him new readers.

Auster has a capability of balancing between liberals and open Nazis, without making friends in any of those camps, which I believe is his strongest side. Maybe, that's because he is a conservative catholic? If all catholics were like Auster, I would consider baptizing.

Conservative Swede said...

Ypp,

Auster criticizes Spenser and thus produce new ideas.

I suppose you haven't spent much time reading VFR. It's rather: Auster putting on his tin-foil hat and obsessively attacking Spencer. It's been going on for at least two years. Not a single new idea coming out of that.

Could you name any new idea coming out of Auster's obsessive attacks on Spencer?

Ypp said...

The idea is simple and straightforward. And he derived it from observation, i.e. from experiment: Liberals are unable to protect anything, even liberalism. His idea goes even deeper: whatever a liberal does, he only produces more liberalism.

As an ex-liberal myself, I must admit that there is something in it. Neither me, nor Spenser, or any other blogger with liberal views, whatever they do, can produce anything useful. Clearly, general public cannot grasp the idea, and thus thinks Auster is just nasty. Giordano Bruno was burned not for his work, but for being nasty.

I like this idea for its generality; it resembles a law of physics. For example, conservation of energy: no engin, whatever complicated, can produce energy from nothing. 200 years ago it sounded crazy. Whatever you do, however you aspire, you will get no energy of nothing. If Auster's idea is right, which will be known later, he deserves a Nobel prize.

Conservative Swede said...

Ypp: "The idea is simple and straightforward. ... Liberals are unable to protect anything, even liberalism. His idea goes even deeper: whatever a liberal does, he only produces more liberalism. ... Neither me, nor Spenser, or any other blogger with liberal views, whatever they do, can produce anything useful."

Sure. This is a good summary of the view of Auster and his followers: Spencer is a liberal and can therefore only produce more liberalism, i.e. harm. He's on the other side and will therefore always be opposed, no matter what he does.

The idea of Auster is as simple as it is monothemistic. Auster's purism will have him ending up seeing virtually everyone as being on the other side. This makes him constitutionally unable to co-operate in any group.

Ypp: "If Auster's idea is right, which will be known later, he deserves a Nobel prize."

He will more likely end up with the Robinson Crusoe prize.

Ypp: "Clearly, general public cannot grasp the idea, and thus thinks Auster is just nasty. Giordano Bruno was burned not for his work, but for being nasty."

No, you are the one who cannot grasp the fact that Auster can have interesting ideas and be nasty at the same time. Is it so difficult to keep two thoughts in your mind at the same time? I think the way in how he regularly ravages his personal relatons, e.g. by going down at getting dirty by publishing private emails, can be described as precisely nasty. Doesn't make him a Giordano Bruno exactly.


Back to the main theme. To further illustrate the point of how Auster and his followers sees liberalism everywhere. Here's excerpt from a comment by the Auster follower Rainwolf at Atlas Shrugs:

Rainwolf: "Auster has indeed categorized Spencer as a liberal. Can you point me to a particular writing of Spencer's that prove otherwise, that he is in any way a conservative? His neoconish universalist views permeate his thinking and his writings. And his excessively emotional responses and name calling toward Auster prove Auster's point in spades."

And also:

Rainwolf: "Spencer has stated his position but not with the consistency necessary to defend the West. He holds a very weak and half-hearted position, IMHO. How many of the countless articles that Spencer has written have contained more than an ephemeral mention of halting Muslim immigration? Auster is correct when he states that Spencer barely strings two sentences together regarding the subject. If Spencer were REALLY serious about it, one would assume that he would write at least ONE article devoted to the issue. He has not, as least as far as I'm aware."

The idea is as simple as it is monothemistic: Spencer is a liberal and must therefore forever be opposed. The method is also simple: bullying. Whatever Spencer does it is wrong and they will go after him like pit bulls. If Spencer calls for ending Muslim immigration, then it's half-hearted, weak, not often enough, etc. If Spencer would indeed write an article on Muslim immigration it would launch 2-3 weeks of attacks on him from VFR, tearing the article apart, complaining how he has only written one article and how that's not enough, etc.

By the end, only traditionalist conservatism is accepted. And there's something of a communist sectarianism in operation here. The closer someone's position is to VFR's the more intense are the attacks.