The Long View 2006-07-13: Crime, Terror, The Demon Republic, and Perfume

 Michael Oakeshott  By Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science - Professor Michael Oakeshott, c1960sUploaded by calliopejen1, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15987493

Michael Oakeshott

By Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science - Professor Michael Oakeshott, c1960sUploaded by calliopejen1, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15987493

 Juggalos  By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Wizard World Anaheim 2011 - Insane Clown Posse) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Juggalos

By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Wizard World Anaheim 2011 - Insane Clown Posse) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The juxtaposition of Michael Oakeshott with Juggalos is interesting. I'm not certain it was intentional, but I'm also not certain it was unintentional. I'm not familiar with Oakeshott's work, but I am sorry to admit that I am familiar with Insane Clown Posse

I had a friend in high school who was a fan, and I think he fit the juggalo profile pretty well: from a working class background, never really fit in. I had one album on cassette tape, The Great Milenko. My twenty year old memories of the album are that it was vulgar, dark, and kinda catchy. 

Since Youtube exists, I would be remiss if I didn't go listen to that album again. It is remarkable the way songs stay with you, even twenty years later. It is indeed, vulgar, dark, and kinda catchy. I remember even as a teenager I noticed an unusually strong current of disapproval around ICP, so I stopped listening to them. I can see now that it was not just the crudity of the songs, but also that the juggalos are low class.  

Since I haven't read anything by Michael Oakeshott, I can neither confirm nor deny Andrew Sullivan's implication that Oakeshott was a nihilist, but I do know that ICP and the Juggalos aren't nihilists. That is an upper class affectation. They are working class white guys looking for meaning in their lives.


Crime, Terror, The Demon Republic, and Perfume

 

Bad posture should be a hanging offense, I have sometimes felt, and it seems that the police forces of the world are now inclining to this view:

For more than ten years, scientists have been working on a computer system that can analyse the movements of criminals caught on CCTV and compare them with those of a suspect. The system works on the premise that every individual has a signature walking style.

The technique is still in its infancy but has been employed in high-profile cases...Mark Nixon, of the Southampton University department of electronics and computing, said that studies showed everyone has a distinct walk.

Frankly, considering the recent events in Mumbai, and the fact that I regularly take the PATH trains to Manhattan, I am troubled not at all by the prospect of this surveillance.

* * *

Law and Order have also collapsed in Washington, DC, to put the most hysterical slant possible on this report:

Two groups of tourists were robbed at gunpoint on the National Mall, just hours after the police chief declared a crime emergency in the city in response to a string of violence that included the killing of a British activist.

The activist, Alan Senitt, was attacked in the Georgetown area on Sunday, his throat was slit and police say the attackers attempted to rape his companion. It was the 13th homicide in the city this month. Robberies are up 14 percent, and armed assaults have jumped 18 percent in the past 30 days.

These incidents happened in the touristy sections. What is happening in the neighborhoods we can only imagine.

* * *

Nightmares now lurk in the public parks of that non-DC Washington, or so says The Seattle Times:

For several nights last month, a group of thugs with black hooded sweat shirts pulled tight over their heads, including at least one in "angry" clown makeup, terrorized visitors to Pierce County's Fort Steilacoom Park, police say.

The group cried "woo, woo, Juggalo" as they assaulted park visitors with a machete and fists. They stole cellphones, cash and wallets and even threatened to cut their victims' heads off, according to court documents.

So far, two men and a woman have been charged with robbery and assault for their alleged roles in the string of attacks, said Pierce County deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen. Prosecutors say the suspects claim to be "Juggalos," a subculture that has developed among the fan base of the rap/metal group Insane Clown Posse.

I have always disliked clowns. Now I have a good reason.

* * *

Regarding the latest horrors in Iraq, Wretchard of the Belmont Club quotes this (informally transcribed) soliloquy by Colonel Kurt in Apocalypse Now:

I remember when I was with Special Forces--it seems a thousand centuries ago--we went into a camp to inoculate it. The children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile--a pile of little arms. And I remember...I...I...I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it, I never want to forget. And then I realized--like I was shot...like I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they could stand that--these were not monsters, these were men, trained cadres, these men who fought with their hearts, who have families, who have children, who are filled wi th love--that they had this strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time were able to utilize their primordial i nstincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment--without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.

The Viet Cong did not invent Schrecklichkeit (neither did the Germans, for that matter). In the context of the Vietnam War, however, we should remember that the insurgency failed. That was irrelevant to the outcome of the war, of course, in the sense that South Vietnam was overrun by a conventional invasion a year and a half after American forces left. The Schrecklichkeit that the US public recoiled from was not that committed by the enemy, but by that alleged to have been committed by its own forces.

When terror is carefully modulated (an anonymous note; a small bomb that explodes just before a place of business opens; perhaps a tactful assassination) it often does bring an opponent regime to negotiations, or even collapse. In contrast, these horror-show attacks are bonding rituals for the perpetrators. They demonstrate to the perpetrators how ruthless they are and how implacable their dedication.

* * *

But how can order be maintained? Probably not through the political theory that Andrew Sullivan promotes in his forthcoming book, The Conservative Soul : How We Lost It, How to Get It Back. I just reviewed that for Kirkus, and so I cannot reproduce the review here. What I can do is express the hope that Michael Oakeshott, whom I have never read, is not the invertebrate nihilist that Sullivan, approvingly, makes him out to be. A state governed by the "conservatism of doubt" that Sullivan attributes to Oakeshott would be just another member of the federal republic of demons that Kant described: that is, a state of pure procedure that was designedly indifferent to virtue.

The argument against Rawls's version of the Demon Republic is that its totalitarian insistence on a minimalist public square would be sure to bring gunfire from people who don't want their worldviews delegitimated (a group that would ultimately include everyone, including Rawlsians). Sullivan's Demon Republic would collapse from lack of official support for the political sentiments and anthropological institutions that would be necessary to keep the state in existence; which is, more or less, what seems to happening to much of Western Europe and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

* * *

This is not to say that Europe is without hope, or at least some interesting legal precedents:

[In] mid-June, the highest court in France ruled that making perfume is not an artistic creation, but the work of a mere artisan.

The distinction is not an abstraction. Legally, it is more about money than about art. At stake are potential royalties for perfume makers (a k a noses) and profits and protection for manufacturers during the life of a fragrance.

In its ruling, the court, the Cour de Cassation, denied the petition of a perfume maker, who claimed she deserved to continue receiving royalties from a former employer, even after she had been fired. The court stated, “The fragrance of a perfume, which results from the simple implementation of expertise,” does not constitute “the creation of a form of expression able to profit from protection of works of the mind.”

To confuse matters, a French court of appeals ruled the opposite last January, determining that a perfume could be a “work of the mind” protected by intellectual property law. It ordered a Belgian company to pay damages to the perfume and cosmetics giant L’Oréal, which sued it for producing counterfeits of best-selling L’Oréal perfumes.

If you could have intellectual property rights in a perfume, then why not in a really good pastry?

Yum.

Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly

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