The Long View 2006-10-05: Fratricide; Mutiny; Eurasianism for Americans; Steyn's Reservations; Neologisms

The mid-2000s idea that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan would start to influence the course of public affairs never did come to much. There was the idea that bitter combat veterans might form the nucleus of anti-government groups, later advanced by Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security. There was also the idea that being a veteran would add gravitas to candidates for political office. Neither thing ever panned out, mostly veterans keep to themselves, probably because they are relatively few in number, as America's imperial wars don't really need much manpower, and also because they don't have much in common with the rest of American society anymore.

Fratricide; Mutiny; Eurasianism for Americans; Steyn's Reservations; Neologisms

Fratricide is the term I had been using privately to describe the oddly ineffective barrage of conveniently timed scandals concerning the Republican Party, but Mickey Kaus suggests another term:

There's also the Densepack Theory--the anti-GOP media have launched so many damaging GOP stories--see Josh Marshall's list-- that they are all arriving at once and, like fratricidal incoming ICBMs, are knocking each other out of the news rather than destroying their target! ...

It is true that the Republican Party does not deserve to be reelected. There is, in fact, something unseemly about this ludicrous patronage machine holding the country hostage with the threat that the choice is between them and the Darwin Award Party. Sometimes I do think that the shaping of a new partisan alternative would be facilitated by the spectacle of a Democratic Majority. However, the temptation to adopt the adage, "the worse, the better" should always be resisted. Besides, we should remember that part of the solution rests with salvaging elements of the Democratic Party. As long as that party is out of power, those segments will be detachable. The Republican ensemble is already disarticulated enough, I think.

* * *

Some of you may have come across this bit of 1960's nostalgia about the state of the American Army entitled Awaiting the Rebellion:

Recently I talked by email about the war with Jim Coyne, an airborne-infantry friend who served two tours as a gunship door-gunner in Viet Nam and then made a career in journalism. I asked, “Do they [I meant the officer corps, the official military] actually believe the optimistic twaddle this time around? Do they really not know what is happening?”

The article is a fact-free projection of the Vietnam Era conscript-military mentality onto Iraq, a projection that is found congenial by some people on the Right whose larger agenda does not bear close scrutiny. For as good a refutation as you are likely to find of this scenario, visit the Mail Section of Jerry Pournelle's site.

* * *

Mark Steyn has not had second thoughts about his new book, America Alone, but he has felt the need to put his Jeremiad in perspective:

My little tome on the end of the world comes out in a few weeks. And, though the end-of-the-world bit is now reduced to the subtitle, I found myself once it had gone to the printers suddenly riddled with self-doubt: oh my God, what if I'm just being apocalyptic and neurotic? So I started picking up other books about the shape of things to come just to reassure myself.

I think that Steyn's apocalypse will prove altogether more accurate than the one in the original Shape of Things to Come. That 1933 novel by H.G. Wells now makes readers' jaws drop, not because he got so many specific "predictions" wrong (he was writing a novel, after all), but because his anti-market and anti-religious worldview systematically misled him. Actually, I would compare Steyn's book to Oswald Spengler's tract from about the same time as Wells' novel, The Hour of Decision. It has some ideological features that Spengler's admirers' might prefer to pass over in silence, but it does share many of the demographic preoccupations of Steyn's book. It's one of those books that becomes less ridiculous every year.

At the risk of repeating what I said in my last entry, let me emphasize that, whatever usefulness America Alone may have with regard to foreign policy, the book could turn out to be the decisive culture wars text. Steyn has given us the theoretical underpinning for a conservative cultural policy that natural law enthusiasts promised but never delivered.

* * *

But just what is the Rightist Alternative to the War on Terror (and Steyn too, for that matter) that dare not speak its name? We see an unusually bald form of it in this essay, Eurasia Contra America:

It could very well come to be that Mother Russia's destiny as the "Third Rome" will indeed save the West and the world will become multipolar.

Not everyone who says things like this is in league with the Forces of Evil. However, when you hear such sentiments, alarms should go off in your head.

* * *

But sometimes evil does triumph. I was disappointed that the phrase "bright and shiny," often shortened to "shiny," did not make it into common parlance from the Serenity/Firefly backstory. It would have been a welcome replacement for "okay" and "cool." In contrast, the idiot expletive "frak" has escaped from Battlestar Galactica into the real world, with devastating consequences.

This development is doubleplus ungood.

Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly

Why post old articles?

Who was John J. Reilly?

All of John's posts here

An archive of John's site