Jun 20, 2008

Sweet Nothings

“Imagine there’s no countries/it isn’t hard to do/nothing to kill or die for/and no religion too/imagine all the people/living life in peace.”
- John Lennon, Imagine


With the American Democratic Party’s formal consummation of its dalliance with the Fresh Prince of Thin Air, we had anticipated at least some airing of the lamentations of regret typically following such ill-advised intercourse. Hearing little to none, we are compelled to re-examine the cultural circumstances which make it possible for a farce such as this to come to pass.

Though much discussed, the Obama ascendancy still baffles: the party of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy has turned the keys over to a very junior Senator whose scant voting record is the furthest left of any in the Senate. Really? It has been called “the audacity of hope.” We call it merely, audacity; that strain of defiant, reckless, irresponsible audacity one expects from a sixteen year old, not from a national institution that – at one time anyway – was of significant weight and consequence.

We ought not be surprised.

By inertia alone has the DNC produced candidates over the past four decades possessing at least the requisite resume for the job of American head of state. The real work over these years has been that of the New Left steadily inculcating its Fifth Column dogma into the party’s ethos. Clearly the Democratic Party has suffered for it, yet remains, somehow, undead. Zombified in this fashion, the party has afforded its representatives nothing in the way of new ideas to promote. Since the mid-Sixties they have spewed and re-spewed the very same socialistic Great Society pap about defending the poor, minorities, and the oppressed; rhetoric exposed daily as empty, insincere, misleading, and counter-productive. It only follows then that this hollowed-out party produce and endorse a candidate as insubstantial as its rhetoric – window dressing for the empty store. But why are people buying it?

Because Obama resonates profoundly with the prevailing cultural influence of our time, what we call fashionable nihilism. In a universe without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value; form reigns supreme over content; style over substance; aesthetic over actuality; the subjective is enshrined and the objective demonized; relativism is embraced and absolutism rejected; perception is reality. These are the bylaws of contemporary popular culture and the parameters of acceptable modern thought. In the political realm, there may be no more perfect embodiment of them than the young, handsome, golden-voiced, and virgin - Barrack Hussein Obama.

Fashionable nihilism has been sometime in the making. No less than Friedrich Nietzsche heralded its rise and warned of its disastrous potential as far back as the late 1800’s. In his classic The Will to Power, Nietzsche warned that European culture was moving “as toward catastrophe: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.” He predicted that in “the history of the next two centuries …what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism.”
At midpoint now between “the next two centuries,” it seems Freddy may have been onto something. We do not here refer merely to the rise of sociopath monsters such as Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, but also the popular movements which supported them, and – perhaps most importantly – the mind set that rationalized reluctance and timidity amongst those who ought stop them.

In his April 24, 1933 address at the Royal Society of St. George, Sir Winston Churchill aptly diagnosed the condition and its effect on his contemporaries.

"The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians....Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."

Nonetheless, for the next seven years England continued to drag her feet and avert her eyes until landing herself in the weakest possible position, resulting in the near extinction of Christian civilization. Ultimately, Britain did save herself, due largely to the leadership and state craft of Sir Winston Churchill whom she voted out of power the moment she was returned to safety. The body was safe. The soul is another question. Fashionable nihilism, temporarily suspended, had retained its hold.

This trend was not mainstreamed, however, until the 1960’s. What with the perfect storm of an unprecedented surge of young people, unprecedented wealth, and unprecedented mass communication technology – not to mention an elder generation too weary and few to counter it – an ersatz cultural revolution took place. Principles which had guided Western civilization through the storm of history to her present sanctuary –moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue - were cast off in favor of the values and world view of adolescence: the rash, the titillating, the intoxicating, the immediate, the audacious. The faith that our story was part of a larger more permanent Truth requiring of its actors courage, integrity, perseverance, and self-control in order to be told, was discredited as mere chauvinism and bigotry. This time, relativism was the Serpent’s apple, and the brave new world sunk its teeth into it with relish. Henceforth, Western minds have been narrowing while believing themselves to be opening.

The New Left seeing this for what it was - the hollowing out of free market democracy from its core - shrewdly seized upon this development. Marketers, entertainers, and opportunistic politicians, pursuing trends with all the discretion of bucks in rut, followed suit. Today, the sweet nothings of fashionable nihilism – ever-sexy, ever-youthful, ever-enticing, never delivering – are omni-present, penetrating Western minds and hearts from every possible angle and coloring every aspect of modern society.

In his new book, Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy, author Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident and political prisoner as well as a member of the Israeli cabinet, argues against the modern consensus that traditional concepts such as nationalism and religion are antithetical to freedom. Discussing his book at a recent Heritage Foundation lecture, Sharansky began by citing John Lennon’s Imagine (the lyric which prefaces this post) as iconic of this consensus.

Imagine the world without God and without hell, without borders and without nations, the world where there is nothing to die for, the brotherhood of man,” Sharansky paraphrases. “He (Lennon) believes that real freedom is when people stop being divided into nations, into religion, and when there is nothing to die for. It’s such a good life you don’t have to die for anything.”

Sharansky then explained that, in his own experience and that of other dissidents he met in Soviet gulags as well as through his work since, it was the exact opposite belief that empowered them to defy and prevail against oppression. The faith that there is something permanent, something bigger than one’s own life and well-being, that there are things truly worth dying for; things like God and country, quaint old-fashioned notions that make extraordinary heroes out of ordinary men, this was the faith that sustained them. Those without it capitulated. What else could they do? What is the use of resisting tyranny when none of this nation and religion business matters anyway?

Yet even with the collapse of the Soviet Union Sharansky notes, the Lennon sentiment thrives throughout the West today. Should it continue to do so, Sharansky warns, it will mean our doom. For – seeking to disavow ourselves of our very selves as we are - what resistance could we possibly put up against a force so focused, so furious, so intense as say … Islam?

“We have two societies,” Sharansky explains. “One has a strong identity and no obligations toward freedom. And the other has a strong belief in freedom but no identity, no roots, no desire to die for anything. This society has no chance.”

Sobering words from one who knows.

The rise of Islam in the modern world is an indictment of the West’s self-induced enfeeblement. Frankly, it is laughable that a cult of 7th century cave-dwelling suicidal miscreants could possibly present any actual concern to the 21st century world. Yet it does, because we have allowed it. Like a drunken gardener who too long neglected the simple tasks of tending his plot and is now in danger of losing it to weeds and pests, so the free world today is poised to be overrun by goons of yore as a result of its own fecklessness.

And now we see that instead of rooting out that fecklessness, far too large a portion of the American people are evidently eager to let it lead them in voting a preposterously under-qualified man to the most powerful office in the free world.

“Oh whatever,” they rebut. “It’s time for a change. Besides it’ll be neat to have a black president.” Behold the rigorous logic of fashionable nihilism.

And Britain and Europe, oblivious to their own lost cause, cheer them on from the sidelines.

For nigh on half a century, the Free World has lounged in the spa of fashionable nihilism, bathing in its pretty songs, its feel-good policies, its pie-in-the-sky promises; sweet nothings seducing us to our undoing. In this context, the Obama campaign is indeed a referendum. Not a referendum on “race in America,” for what then of the rancorous debate around Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell etc.? This is a referendum on how America understands herself. Does she still take seriously her role as the last best hope of mankind and all which that requires? Or does she concur with her critics that she is too proud, too strong, too rich and must therefore humble herself before the court of world opinion, electing that court's preference for president being the first big step of many in that direction?

We shall see. This referendum on America is for American’s to decide. It they decide unwisely, the next one may not be. For once sovereignty is given over – be it in the name of peace, or reparation, or empty-headed stupidity – it may never be regained; just ask the Britons and Europeans.

At this point in history, these are the stakes, the bleak dividends of fashionable nihilism: sweet nothings more nothing than sweet.

And as Sir Winston forewarned at another such point in history,

"If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."
Cheers,

Charlie

8 comments:

Findalis said...

The West is viewed as weak for our freedoms. That is a misunderstanding that doomed the Soviets and will doom the Islamists (if we don't destroy our freedoms).

As for America, I fear for my nation. I can only see an Obama victory that will destroy any military might we have, and the very soul of our nation.

Sidney said...

Charlie,
Drop the crystal ball, the same ball that many conservatives used when they predicted how George Bush would lift our country up from the ashes. He didn't - it's somebody else's turn. Please stop trying to predict Obama's failures. If he is our president he is entitled to make mistakes or maybe even, dare I say, raise us up. Our country is broken because of the disdain we have for our very selves. Let's dare to be great again! Be it McCain or Obama we need it now more than ever. Because we need to start being Americans first - not liberals or conservatives. "Imagine" that... You are very eloquent in your arguments - I give you props but I think a little "hope" might do you some good. By the way why doesn't anyone ever mention John McCain's middle name? You're better than that...

NeoConstant said...

"John Hussein McCain" sounds awesome. It rhymes. Bad-ass.

In all seriousness, though, my dear Parrot, welcome back. Tremendous post. You've made the front page at NeoConstant again...

I say keep that crystal ball of yours clutched tight, but keep the pen clutched tighter....

Churchill's Parrot said...

My Dear Findalis,

You are correct our enemies do not understand freedom and this usually proves their downfall. Unfortunately, the same may be true for us, in that we seem no longer capable of distinguishing liberty from license. 40 plus years of dope-smoking, television-watching, over-eating, and over indulging in every conceivable fashion will do that.

My Dear Neo Constant - we beg your forgiveness for our AWOL-edness. You flatter us nonetheless with your readership and furtherance of our work. We are most appreciative of this as we are severely RSS-challenged for sundry reasons not the least of which is utter cluelessness.

My Dear Sidney,

Had you made a point we would be more than happy to respond. But as your comment is entirely without substance (ironic given the subject matter at hand. Or perhaps you are merely proving our point?) there is little more that we can say than thanks for reading and please feel free to drop by any time!

Cheers,

Charlie

Joanne said...

"Ultimately, Britain did save herself, due largely to the leadership and state craft of Sir Winston Churchill...."

First I'd like to point out that it was God who saved Britain, and if was not for the believers who prayed for her and for God ears hearing the prayers, she would not have been saved.

If Obama is the next President, the people of the United States will not need to humble themselves before the world, because the world will humble and ridicule America for them. God's plans do not always take the path we choose, but the ending never changes.

Joanne said...

"Ultimately, Britain did save herself, due largely to the leadership and state craft of Sir Winston Churchill...."

Sir Winston Churchill was a wise and great man, and he served God's purpose well.

Denise said...

This couldn't have been said any better. It's why those on the left are constantly trying to get the youth vote, since so many young people are influenced by pop culture. Here's something really scary you should see, although I don't agree with the 9/11 fraud theory. The part about the one world government and erasing borders makes me think of what John Lennon said. That and the mind control that's going on in our society. But this video also insinuates that Bush is the one pusing us into it. I don't know whether that could be true or if it's just a typical anti Bush theory being stated by a liberal. It also insinuates that there is no real terrorism, which I do not believe. The rest makes me wonder, though. Anyway, here it is. I hope this link works. If not, go to youtube then search North American Union.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuBo4E77ZXo

Gary Fouse said...

In the grand tradition of Iran's lunatic Ayatollah Khomeini (who issued a Fatwa against British subject, Salmon Rushdie), and the murder of Dutch Filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh on a Dutch street by a Muslim immigrant a few years back-comes this out of the Kingdom of Jordan: During the past month, a Jordanian prosecutor has filed charges for blasphemy and "contempt of Muslims" against Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, as well as 10 Danish newspaper editors who published the cartoons that infuriated the Muslim world and set off deadly riots across the globe. In addition, also charged with similar "crimes" is Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, whose offense was to make a short film (Fitna or Strife) that stated that the Koran incited violence. The charges against the Danes came in early June, while charges against Wilders came early this month. The warrants issued by Prosecutor, Hassan Abdullat, in Amman come as a result of a complaint filed by a Jordanian group called "The Prophet Unites Us". Thus, the Jordanian prosecutor has summoned all of the above Europeans to report to Jordan for trial or international arrest warrants will be issued.

Can you say "Chutzpah"?

Though neither Denmark nor the Netherlands have signalled any intention of arresting their citizens and extraditing them to Jordan, all of the affected individuals may have their ability to travel outside their own borders restricted if international arrest warrants are obtained. An international arrest warrant could be circulated within Interpol. On the surface it would seem implausible that Interpol would enforce arrest warrants on these charges (They do not honor warrants based on political crimes) However, given the cowardly manner in which many European countries are conducting themselves in the face of Islamic intimidation, who knows?)

In the case of Wilders (who is a Dutch Member of Parliament), he appealed to his foreign minister, a certain Maxime Verhagen, to summon the Jordanian Ambassador in Holland for a lecture on freedom of speech. Verhagen declined, stating that it would represent "interference in Jordanian judicial matters"!!??!

Meanwhile in Riyahd, the Organization of Islam Conference (OIC), a league of 56 Muslim nations, expressed "disappointment" that the Dutch prosecutors could take no action against Wilders based on "free speech issues".

So now, Middle East prosecutors are filing charges against foreigners in the West who dare to criticize Islam-and this from one of the so-called "moderate, pro-American" nations. Have you ever heard of such brazen arrogance? And what about the cowardice of the Dutch Foreign Minister who will not speak out and summon the Jordanian Ambassador for a good chewing out? At what point does any self-respecting nation tell these fans of the 7th century that, here in the West, we have freedom of speech, and we will never give up our citizens to some Third World banana republic (which Wilders has correctly called Jordan).

A note to the Jordanian prosecutor who is so concerned about "contempt of Muslims": You could go a long way toward eliminating said "contempt" if you would lock up the killers that are giving Islam such a bad name around the world.

The entire civilized world should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaards and Salmon Rushdies of the world.

gary fouse
fousesquawk