The Long View 2006-08-15: Spelling, Genealogy, Lebanon, Tradition, Ham

In the mid 2000s, John Reilly often defended President George W. Bush, for partisan reasons. I have to hold him to account for this. However, I do try to balance it out with things like his assessment of the capacity of Islamic transnational movements to found a state:

Transnationalism has a stratosphere, a troposphere, a sea level, and even an ocean floor. Islamist transnationalism flows through those murky depths, to which it is specially adapted. In part for that reason, it is not so much incompetent as incapable. The things it can do, such as blowing up airplanes and running neighborhood medical clinics, it can do very well. What it can't do, no more than a shark can tap dance, is provide decent civil administration for a territory, or even a legal environment predictable enough for a market economy to operate above the level of small shops. The acme of its political role is to refrain from destroying the state structures of societies that serve as its hosts. Even then, it's a debilitating parasite.
Thus, simply by nature of what it is, Islamism cannot "win," in the sense of destroying and replacing an adversary, or forcing a defeated opponent to do its will. It has no organ with which to receive a surrender. Deprived of the pressure of an external enemy, it bursts into factional fighting.

As an assessment of ISIS, this is spot on, ten years before it even existed. The ability to predict what will happen is the only yardstick that should matter in things like this.


Spelling, Genealogy, Lebanon, Tradition, Ham

 

Why did spelling reform miscarry in the early 20th century? If we may believe these videos. it was because the movement was supported by prominent persons such as Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie. Roosevelt politicized the issue with his order to the Government Printing Office, and Carnegie was suspected of plotting to make a fortune in textbook publishing once a reform was underway. If the Gates Foundation offered us at the American Literacy Council a large grant, I might argue to turn it down. Unless the money could be delivered in brown paper-bags, of course.

Incidentally, I am working on reprints of various public-domain texts using Soundspel, the teaching orthography that the ALC software uses. Here is the cover art for the first experiment. More details soon.

pdafront.jpg

* * *

Genealogy is bunk, at least for purposes of disclosing the secret noble bloodlines so beloved by conspiracy theorists. The Washington Post explains the obvious:

Even without a documented connection to a notable forebear, experts say, the odds are virtually 100 percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal personage or another...It works the other way, too. Anybody who had children more than a few hundred years ago is likely to have millions of descendants today, quite a few of them famous.

Everyone of Western European extraction is about equally related to Charlemagne. Maybe everyone, everywhere, is somehow related to Mohammed and Gengis Khan.

At the eschaton, of course, we will all be famous or infamous.

* * *

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn waxes apocalyptic about the eclipse of the sovereign state:

Lebanon is a sovereign state. It has an executive and a military. But its military has less sophisticated weaponry than Hezbollah and its executive wields less authority over its jurisdiction than Hezbollah. In the old days, the Lebanese government would have fallen and Hezbollah would have formally supplanted the state. But non-state actors like the Hezbollah crowd and al-Qaida have no interest in graduating to statehood. They've got bigger fish to fry. If you're interested in establishing a global caliphate, getting a U.N. seat and an Olympic team only gets in the way. ...And that indifference to the state can be contagious. ...What if entire populations are being transformed into "non-state actors"? Not terrorists, by any means, but at the very minimum entirely indifferent to the state of which they're nominally citizens....Hence that statistic: Seven percent of British Muslims consider their primary identity to be British, 81 percent consider it to be Muslim....Modern multicultural man disdains to be bound by the nation state, too; he prides himself on being un citoyen du monde. The difference is that, for Western do-gooders, it's mostly a pose:...Absent a determination to throttle the ideology, we're about to witness the unraveling of the world.

I take his point, but I question whether the de-nationalization of the world's transnationalists is just a mere pose. I am echoing Patrick Kennon in this regard. Certainly it is the case that the Davos People don't want to live under a universal caliphate, or even to stay at the sort of hotels that cater to people who might have inclinations along those lines.

Transnationalism has a stratosphere, a troposphere, a sea level, and even an ocean floor. Islamist transnationalism flows through those murky depths, to which it is specially adapted. In part for that reason, it is not so much incompetent as incapable. The things it can do, such as blowing up airplanes and running neighborhood medical clinics, it can do very well. What it can't do, no more than a shark can tap dance, is provide decent civil administration for a territory, or even a legal environment predictable enough for a market economy to operate above the level of small shops. The acme of its political role is to refrain from destroying the state structures of societies that serve as its hosts. Even then, it's a debilitating parasite.

Thus, simply by nature of what it is, Islamism cannot "win," in the sense of destroying and replacing an adversary, or forcing a defeated opponent to do its will. It has no organ with which to receive a surrender. Deprived of the pressure of an external enemy, it bursts into factional fighting.

* * *

Was President Bush correct yesterday when he characterized the cease fire in Lebanon as a victory for Israel, or possibly in the war against terror? Perhaps he was right in the sense that Hezbollah's Lebanese hosts will no longer willingly acquiesce in actions by Hezbollah that threaten to bring Israeli retaliation. On the other hand, tactically, the war turned out to be a fair fight. The prospect of another fair fight makes the threat of retaliation less credible.

* * *

What does Tradition have to say about Israel? Very little good, to judge from Voxnr a French-language site where Yockey and Evola make merry with Islamists and Eurasianists. Actually, one of the more moderate pieces, in that it does not advocate the immediate extermination of Israel and everyone in it, comes from Alexander Dugin (aka Alexandre Dougine). In the brief essay Palestine et Tradition, notre solution, Dugin praises President Putin for reasserting Russia's historical interest in the Levant (remember the Russian proposal for an immediate cease fire?). He also characterizes Israel as laicist and fundamentally illegitimate. Nonetheless, he also notes that, under the Traditional divine monarchy of the Ottoman Empire, the three confessional millets of Christian, Jew, and Muslim were able to live in Palestine without too much friction. He notes with approval the growing theological dimension among the Muslim enemies of Israel, but also remarks with hope on the increasingly Orthodox nature of Israel. Surely peace would come if Palestine were reconstituted as a Traditional land.

Is it over-extrapolating to say that Dugin is implying that what Palestine really needs is to become a Russian protectorate?

* * *

Not everything traditional is creepy (well, not lethally creepy) as we see from this description (hat tip to First Things) of that continuing institution, The Dunmow Flitch:

A common claim of the origin of the Dunmow Flitch dates back to 1104 and the Augustinian Priory of Little Dunmow, founded by Lady Juga Baynard. Lord of the Manor, Reginald Fitzwalter and his wife dressed themselves as humble folk and begged blessing of the Prior a year and a day after marriage. The Prior, impressed by their devotion bestowed upon them a Flitch of Bacon. Upon revealing his true identity, Fitzwalter gave his land to the Priory on the condition a Flitch should be awarded to any couple who could claim they were similarly devoted.

The priory that once conducted the Flitch trials has long since lapsed, and so has the interest of the local aristocrats who conducted the trials thereafter. The trials are still held, however, with volunteer married couples trying to prove to a jury their faithfulness; opposing counsel represents the owner of the flitch.

This Flitch business immediately reminded me of the 1973 film, The Wicker Man, about a policeman who investigates a Scottish island where human sacrifice is a beloved local custom. It's an odd film, essentially a horror story with no gore, and indeed little direct depiction of the supernatural. A remake starring Nicholas Cage will soon be playing in a theatre near you.

The story has been relocated to the coast of Maine. My blood runs cold already.

Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly

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