Tuesday, July 10, 2007


...and the living is easy.

My vacation has started, and I will travel some. So my frequency of posting will be low during July. But as soon as I find the proper time there is a whole range of topics in pipeline for me to write about: The history of Christianity and how the genie left the bottle. How to understand the concepts of left and right in politics. About our Roman heritage and how it was not broken until the nascence of the Wilsonian world order. The main issue of this century will be about our collective survival--how to define "us and them"? Must cults be destroyed? Is anecdotal conservatism at the core of all forms of Christian conservatism? Islam and Brazilian bikini wax--forbidden or prescribed? Can the national god of the Arabs be the creator of the world? Do transcendent entities fade away when we stop believing in them? (nations, gods)

And an article about the centrality of Nazism in our moral thinking. Our Christian ethics is based on the inversion of values. Evil is defined first. Since WWII evil equals Nazism. Thus ethics in the West has become all about reversing Nazism, and anything that in some context could be viewed as resembling Nazism. A negative idea as basis for morality becomes destructive, and our moral system and society is breaking down. It's time to let it go, and base our morality on positive ideas. It's time to ask ourselves, not "what is evil?" (we should never see ourselves as evil), but what is good for us? what are we fond of? what is egoistically best for ourselves? Start by enjoying this summer!

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[End of post.]

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Appreciating Auster while criticizing him

I will get to Lawrence Auster's reply to Geza's "Night and Day" comparison further down, but first something about what's going on at the general level.

Characteristic of the human mind is to organize our impressions about something as a Gestalt. To see something as something. This is our way of attributing meaning to something. Islam can be seen as a cult or as a world religion worthy of respect. The (contemporary) West can be seen in the Gestalt of for example a Jewish-Capitalist conspiracy, or as an ultra-liberal tyranny. The (solution for the) West could reduced to the issue of white genes or Christianity.

The way Lawrence Auster sees my recent criticism of him, it is a personal attack on him. He sees me as someone who has turned against him. By giving my criticism this Gestalt, in his mind, every little thing I do and say gets interpreted by Auster in this light (how I'm supposedly being openly hostile, etc.). Auster is visibly shaken by this issue. There is a lot of emotions and disappointment stirred up, and it has to be directed somewhere. And it gets directed at me.

But the fact that the issue is sensitive to Auster shouldn't stop us from discussing it. Even Auster himself admits that there is substance to the issue brought up by me, as he wrote in his latest answer to David G. It is good that this issue is also carried on by David G and Geza, since I am now a red cape (and everything I write) in the eyes of Auster. This issue is hot for Auster, and while he gives credit to David G's comments, he wouldn't bring it up himself with Jim Kalb, but instead suggests that David G should do it. We have seen before how Auster simply cannot properly criticize Kalb, instead he always end up in his "on one hand, and on the other hand" procedure.

- - - - - - - - - -
In spite of Auster's gross mischaracterization of my actions, I have strived for continuing to focus on the actual discussion and avoided to stoop into the same kind of behaviour. Instead I have continued to write positively about Auster. But through the prism Auster is looking through now, my expression of admiration of him, and my criticism of his stance and conduct regarding a specific issue, are irreconcilable. In his current state of mind, Auster cannot see these two things happening simultaneously. Instead he claims that I have jumped to the opposite extreme. That I have turned against him. That I shifted from admiration of his work to denouncing him as a groupie, a thrall, of a pro-Islam "fifth columnist". That I'm waging a campaign against him, driven by emotion. That I'm speaking in a hostile and insulting manner about him personally. That it's an Oedipal phenomenon set off by explosive psychological forces of a younger man [this younger man is in his forties]. That I have declared, by implication, that all of his work is mistaken.

People who get linked to my site from VFR should step out of the Gestalt that Auster puts on me, and look for themselves what is going on in this blog. You will find a community of people who greatly values Auster's work, while finding Kalb's position on Islam very problematic. You will find an intellectual exploration about the position of Christianity in European civilization, where the positions are tentative as well as diverse. You will find no personal attacks, hostility or insulting rudeness against Lawrence Auster. Look for yourselves.

In his last reply Auster writes "This brings us, finally, to what CS sees as the deeper implications of my supposed contradictions: he suggests that in the future I may change my views on Islam in possibly sinister ways, because I am 'not a constant.'"

There is nothing in what I wrote that suggests that Auster would change his views on Islam "in possibly sinister ways". On the contrary, I suggested that the thing that could hamper him is an excess of decency. Due to his fundamental respect for Islam as a world religion that is "devoted to a transcendent God". And the "not a constant" comment was, as explained in my previous post, my (clumsy) way of giving him the benefit of the doubt. But since Auster is convinced that I'm waging a campaign of personal attacks against him, he's bent on reading into my words the opposite of what I say and taking it as hostile attacks. This also makes him over-mangnify the significance of my initial Powerline comparison, which was nothing but a very first association I got, and something that I have already straightened out.

Regarding Geza's "Night and Day" analysis, Auster replies "that Charlton G.'s acquaintance's statement and Kalb's statement, far from being identical, are strikingly different." The difference being in living under Islam as a Muslim or as a Christian. But as already pointed out by Geza, this clarification by Kalb had not been presented to Auster when he first reacted to Kalb's statement. That is, the difference that Auster is referring to, in his defense, does not apply at the point of time of the two exchanges by Auster quoted and compared by Geza. Furthermore, Auster didn't criticize Charlton G.'s acquaintance for his willingness to convert to Islam, but for his willingness to let the West lose to Islam rather than letting the West be lost to ultra-liberalism.

Auster writes:

Let me add that if Jim Kalb had said that he'd rather be an Allah-fearing Muslim than live under modern liberalism I would have called that a horrific statement. But Kalb did not say that.

No, but Kalb compared favourably the idea of a West lost to Islam compared to a West lost to ultra-liberalism. And you didn't call that a horrific statement. That's the point. You even injected that you find Kalb's position theoretically interesting: "an interesting question and one worth thinking about".

Comparing the two propositions "living in a West lost to Islam as a dhimmi" or "living in a West lost to Islam as a Muslim", the striking and significant similarity lies in the West being lost to Islam! As David G pointed out: wouldn't the children of Kalb live as Muslims? And as blogger Dean McConnell wrote in my comments section:

As a believer in Biblical orthodox protestant Christianity I would actually prefer a secular Europe to a Muslim Europe.

The issue is still truth. I maintain the truth of Biblical Christianity. Secular Europeans will eventually recognize the moral bankruptcy and lack of virtue in their nihilist lifestyles. When that occurs they may be open to a reconversion to real Christianity instead of the liberal pseudo-Christianity or secularism they are familiar with now. But a decadent liberal Europe will likely still have the right to discuss and convert. An Islamic Europe may have better outward moral tone but will repress truth and discussion and conversion just as Islam does everywhere.

But I also reject the notion that Islamic societies are actually especially moral. they reject some of the favorite sins of the West, but they have their own sins and blindness-es that are just as bad.

The success of the West is due to the legacy of living Christianity. Now that Europe has dead Christianity it is slowly dying. If it becomes Islamic it will not revive - it will become like other Islamic societies to the degree it really accepts Islam.

To this I answered:
Thank you for your sensible words, Mr. McConnell. With your tempered disposition you here express important features, the essence, of the Christian West. The Christian West as we once knew it, as it should be, and as we would hope for it to be in the future. Your words mean a ray of hope, in a time of darkness and dissonance.

We are back to seeing things as something. Mr. McConnell sees the full view of the West with its many facets. He sees that--no matter how bad--modern liberlism is, after all, an expression of Christian Western culture. This is contrasted by Jim Kalb's ideological, reductionist, outlook; where the interest of the West gets reduced to the issue of Christianity; where the current state of the West gets reduced to Christianity-hostile "advanced liberalism". Adding to this the idea of Islam as providing a theoretical place for Christian communities, and we've got Kalb's horrific conclusion. This is the kind of place where reductionist ideologizing takes people. Ideology is a way of blinding people. In contrast, McConnell here provides a non-ideological balanced perspective. Read further...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Geza responds to Auster's post

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:

I just saw Auster's reply to my Night and Day 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:

Your tiff with Auster has gotten the tradcons thinking, check out David G's comment!

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]

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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.

[Geza1: Kalb's traditionalism is structured entirely around the Catholic Church and Natural Law, whereas Auster's is more nuanced. Auster's is more sustainable because you mention that he gets a lot of his ideas from elsewhere. Auster has no problem seeing Islam as an enemy but he won't go to the lengths that we would like him to. Yet, Kalb seems to be defending Islam in some instances. Kalb's flaw is that he is TOO RELIANT on the Catholic Church, the most universal Church with the most adherents from the Third World. Is it any surprise that the Catholic Church is the most chummy with Islam? You don't see universalist Evangelicals treating Islam with the same respect. They even called Muhammad a pedophile and terrorist! The Orthodox Church is cold towards Islam and they even honour nationalistic saints that were martyred by Muslims. Moreover, David G. and Auster cannot take offense when you describe Kalb's position on Islam as indicative of Traditionalism and its flaws. Kalb is pretty much the founder of this new movement and Auster has not broken ranks with Kalb (not that he needs to) nor has he articulated how his Traditionalism differs from that of Kalb's (other than the difference of denomination). So what are we to assume? That what Kalb says about Islam is authoritative as far as Traditionalism is concerned.]

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.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Like Night and Day

Geza1 sent me this very interesting analysis on the Auster/Kalb issue:

Conservative Swede, look at what I dug up at VFR:

Bolds and Italics are mine.


Charlton G. writes:

An acquaintance of mine recently confided to me, "Frankly, I'd rather live as a God fearing Muslim than end up in the loony, secularist, multicultural hell-hole the liberals are preparing for me and my children."

I thought about what he said and rejected it. Better to die, I thought. Although both visions of the future seem bleak, I could not see throwing over my civilization (and race) to avoid the ghastly twilight of liberal utopia. But the fact that others are considering Islam to be a better alternative to what is happening to us here in the West is disturbing. Naturally, I have no idea how many like this fellow there are. But there may be more than are willing to come forth and admit it, both here and in Europe. (Can you imagine how difficult it must be in Europe for a Christian traditionalist?) I'm just wondering out loud here, but it may very well have occurred to the Muslims that there are others in our midst who will not fight.

To paraphrase the old commercial: they would rather switch than fight.

Lawrence Auster replies:

That's horrific that anyone would say that. Yet the same thing has happened over and over. Whenever the West lost to Islam, it was because of dissatisfaction and divisions within the West.

And now let us compare it to Auster's "critique" of Jim Kalb.
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Lawrence Auster replies:

Well, here's the entire quote:

Naturally, like other people I have views about which understandings are best. For example, I consider Islam better than contemporary advanced liberalism, the individualistic, nondoctrinal and moralistic Protestantism traditional in America better than Islam, and Catholicism better than Protestantism.

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.

On the other hand, I think it's a mistake for a Westerner ever to compare Islam favorably to any aspect of the West, though various Western thinkers and writers have done since the 16th century, usually based on some disenchantment with the West. Patrick Buchanan made a similar mistake when he sided against the European newspapers that published the Muhammad cartoons. Buchanan hates the secular left so much he sides with Islam against it. The secular left may be bad, but it is still our bad; Islam is simply our enemy, which, wherever it gains power and to the extent it gains power, will ruin us.

Some thoughts:

1. In the first excerpt Auster is visibly disgusted that anyone could say such a thing, yet in the second excerpt he tries to understand Kalb's reasoning.

2. Charlton G's acquaintance and Kalb's position are identical. Both would rather live in a society that is structured around a monotheistic god (any god at all, no matter how foreign or immoral) instead of an ultra-liberal society yet Auster reacts differently towards both.

3. In the first excerpt Charlton G. says he would not give up his civilization or race for Islam, he even says he'd rather die. Auster does not object. In the second excerpt, Auster makes a point to say that Islam is not evil exactly to make Kalb's position sound a little more moderate. The evil of Islam is important, but not at this stage of the discussion. I think it was an inappropriate time to bring it up because the main issue for Europe is not the morality of Islam but rather its foreignness and how it has the power to change Europe indefinitely.

4. In the first excerpt, Auster states that division is the reason why the West lost to Islam. In the second excerpt, instead of criticizing Kalb's identical position, he criticizes Patrick Buchanan! Buchanan and Kalb both hate secularism/liberalism equally and would take the side of Islam over either yet Auster cannot say that Kalb is being divisive.

5. The second excerpt seems a little muddled. In the first part, Auster says Islam is not exactly evil but liberalism is. Then he goes on to say in the second part that secular leftism (a more advanced form of liberalism) is "our bad" and that Islam will "ruin us" and is "our enemy". If something is evil, it cannot be permitted to exist. If it is possible to eliminated, then it should be. That is how Auster and Kalb view liberalism, they want it gone. Islam is not exactly evil, so it can continue to exist but we obviously know from Auster's other writings that he does not want it to exist in the West. We do not know what Kalb's position is though. In the second part, he is surprisingly more soft on secular leftism which is a more advanced case of liberalism, his language suggests that it isn't imperative for it to be destroyed but should be remedied. He mentions the European connection for secular liberalism and even though it is bad, it is still an expression of us. He does not do the same for liberalism, it's just evil whereas Islam is not exactly evil and is not an expression of us. Islam will ruin us, it is a predator and our enemy, but since it is in its nature, we cannot hate it much like we cannot hate a murderer for murdering because it's in his nature!

6. This was Auster's first response to Kalb's position vis-a-vis Islam and advanced liberalism. He does not mention Kalb by name when discussing his words but Buchanan and the "consciousness that modern liberalism is so evil" make special guest appearances.

Auster was not just being cordial, he simply cannot criticize Kalb at all.

This is very interesting, Geza1. There is an unresolved contradiction within Lawrence Auster. When he independently consults his own brain he gets it right and has his heart in the right place, but when Jim Kalb is around Auster decides instead to comply with his group affiliation to Christianity, which weakens him and hampers his judgment. The interesting thing following this--since the issue has been brought up to the surface, and he opted for moving his position in the direction of Kalb's--is how Auster will act from now on. Will we see him coming to a point where he is more and more protesting against people that he'd see as going too far with regards to Islam? For example in supporting burning of effigies of Muhammad, as Gates of Vienna does? Or against people who goes further than his Separationism, e.g. by advocating the dismantling of the Islamic empire? It wouldn't happen tomorrow, but maybe already next year. It's an open question. Auster is not a constant.

Regarding his description of Islam as a predator that is "not exactly evil", it reminds me so much of discussions I had decades ago with animal rights activists who advocated vegetarianism. They describe the animals as our innocent friends, and therefore we shouldn't eat them. I pointed out, of course, that predators where not so innocent since they broke the "animalistic" command and ate other animals, and suggested to the animal rights activists that this would justify us in killing and eating predators. But no no no, just as Auster says about Islam above, for the animal rights activists the predators only do what is in their nature to do, so they are "not exactly evil", and therefore we should not hate them. We just make sure that they are not so close to us that they could hurt us.

This didn't make sense to me then, and it doesn't make sense to me now.

Lawerence Auster has posted about this at his site. He makes one good point, but misses another more important one. I'll have to get back to it tomorrow. It's way beyond bedtime here now. Lawrence also speaks as if the text was written by me, when it was (mainly) written by Geza1. And the "not a constant" phrase was meant the other way around, than how he took it. That part was unclear by me. I'll have to get back tomorrow in a new post to clarify my position. And it's not about Auster, it's a more general phenomenon that I think that I'm on to. It just became clear to me how general it is, when I saw it in Auster; Lawrence Auster being one of the very best. Recent posts that I made already clarifies some of the things, but anyway I'll get to it back tomorrow too.
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