The Long View 2005-07-09: The Three Rings; Transformations & Transitions

What lies beneath?

What lies beneath?

John makes an argument here that would make its way into international prominence with the publication in 2015 of Michel Houellebecq's Submission. The Charlie Hebdo shooting on the day of its publication in France only enhanced Houellebecq's reputation [or notoriety.]

I think John deserves credit for making this connection in 2005, but I also think it is too easy to draw facile inferences about an as yet hypothetical Traditional alliance. For example, after Afghanistan and Chechnya, I doubt the Russians would have anything to do with any self-consciously Islamic movement except as useful idiots and distractions.

The Three Rings; Transformations & Transitions


Never let anyone tell you that pathos is only in novels. Imagine a screenwriter who produced a script in which the people of a city were cheering in the streets one day because they had won the right to host the Olympics, and then the next day were removing the dead and injured from subway tunnels. He be would be roundly and justly condemned for writing an arbitrary melodrama. Only reality can get away with making a conjunction like that.

Of course, the main conjunction was not at all arbitrary. All those people were killed in London on July 7 because Britain was hosting the meeting of the G8 at Gleneagles. Note that G8 meetings are no longer limited to the G8. The New York Times says this in a piece about how the bombings distracted the conference participants from their agenda:

In addition to the leaders of the eight major industrial nations - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia - those of China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa were also on hand for Thursday's session.

The country was full of press; eager, if that is the word, for a soft-news summertime story. And in fact few stories had ever been whipped to a more mushy-soft consistency. In addition to the regulation NGO demonstrations and anarchists' riot in Edinburgh earlier in the week (the anarchist action seemed perfunctory to me, but that may be an illusion of distance), a network of musical concerts was coordinated globally under the name "Live 8" to focus attention on the part of the summit's agenda that dealt with aid for Africa. The other major item on the agenda was action against global warming, a cause to which the Bush Administration was at long last willing to give at least rhetorical support. This was the sort of globalized social-work conference that Bill Clinton loved.

The problem is that maybe you can't do this sort of thing anymore. Remember, after the first big anti-globalization riots in 1999, when anarchists and associated rabble boasted that they could make meetings of the major organs of transnational governance so dangerous and expensive that they could no longer be held? Now it may be that the protests will not be able to occur, at least as media events. The London bombings knocked Live 8 and the G8 agenda out of public consciousness.

Think of a system of three concentric rings. At the center we have ordinary statecraft, both international and transnational. In the next ring there are the transnational activists, some of whom have substantive agendas, but many of whom regard politics as a sort of therapy. In the outer ring are the Islamofascists, who hope to replace the Western international order with Dar es-Salam. Any institutional activity of the first ring that attracts the attention of the second ring will also attract the attention of the third. Since the third ring's tactic is to paralyze its victims through horror, any occasion on which the third ring acts will make the second ring seem unimportant. Additionally, the first ring will eventually stop reacting to the second ring as it concentrates on the third.

We should note that membership in the third is in principle fluid. There is at least the theoretical possibility for a Traditional alliance against world order that could also include Russian chauvinists and neofascists, as well as the radical Green movement. There are individuals and organizations that advocate such an alliance, but then there have been such people since the Second World War. As far as I can tell, only the Islamofascists are operationally active in the third ring today.

* * *

Speaking of things that you might prefer to ignore, genetics has taken an odd turn, if you believe a new study about Explaining Differences in Twins:

But a whole new level of explanation has been opened up by a genetic survey showing that identical twins, as they grow older, differ increasingly in what is known as their epigenome. The term refers to natural chemical modifications that occur in a person's genome shortly after conception and that act on a gene like a gas pedal or a brake, marking it for higher or lower activity....There are two possible explanations for Dr. Esteller's findings. One is simply the well- known fact that epigenetic marks are lost as people get older...A second possible explanation is that personal experiences and elements in the environment - including toxic agents like tobacco smoke - feed back onto the genome by changing the pattern of epigenetic marks.

Dr. Esteller believes he is seeing both processes at work.

No doubt I misunderstand the issues here, but I cannot help wondering: might the day come when we have to apologize to the shade of Lamarck?

And Lysenko? But no: that way madness lies.

* * *

In my entry for July 4, I asked the world at large why John O'Sullivan had been dismissed without comment or thanks from The National Interest. Quick as boiled asparagus, a perspicatious reader directed me to Social Affairs Unit, where a brief comment notes that O'Sullivan's departure was connected with the recent fall of the publishing magnate, Conrad Black. He had been supporting The National Interest, on whose Advisory Council he still sits. Now it is wholly operated by the Nixon Center.

* * *

The Summer issue of The National Interest, by the way, is full of stuff you don't ordinarily see, including what appears to be a trade piece by one Doug Brooks of the International Peace Operations Association. And just what is the IPOA? We read at their website:

The International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) is an association of private sector service companies engaged in international peace operations around the world. Member companies are involved in all sectors of peace and stability operations including mine clearance, logistics, security, training, and emergency humanitarian services.

If I understand his article correctly, Brooks argues that mercenaries can be trusted not to abuse and despoil the populations they are sent to protect, abstinences which are not always observed among the military forces that the United Nations scratches together from member countries for peace-keeping operations these days. However, private-sector units need a clearer legal framework. For that matter, they need a body of law that they can carry with them and enforce in the areas they control.

* * *

The protests by spelling reformers at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, have gotten a bit more press coverage, from North Carolina and New Zealand. Note that discussion in the latter piece about the difficulty of creating a single spelling system for the many local pronunciations of English is a red herring. All major languages have pronunciation differences. All they ask of their spelling is that it reliably indicate a possible pronunciation.


Alert visitors will have noticed that we are not in Kansas anymore, or at any rate, that my site now has a new URL. I seem to have been the last person who maintained a large site but did not have a personal domain name, a deficit that has occasioned increasing levels of malicious hilarity.

My choices were constrained if I wanted to use my own name, which seemed advisable for a personal website. The domain "" was long since taken, of course; so was "" I would not have minded being a "," which has a fine institutional ring, but alas! I probably would not have used "," but was the spared choice, since someone beat me to it. So, that left me with:

The extension "info" is good. It makes me sound helpful.

I will maintain the old site for a while. However, if you have links to it, I would ask you to redirect here. Only the domain is different; the files still have the same names and extensions (for instance, this page is still "jjrblog.html"), except that the top page is now "index.html."

I have tried to make the transition as seamless as possible, but glitches are inevitable with this kind of project. If you find anything that does not work, please let me know. And thanks again for visiting.

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