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How do we explain the sudden love of terrorist thugs by American college students and recent grads?
We conservatives tend to lump a wide variety of stupid ideas and ideological monstrosities into some notion of “the left.” This characterization is often inapt because it creates an expectation that there is some common attachment to socialist political ideology when, in fact, that is not what these various unhappy intellectual and moral mutations ultimately have in common.
If we look back at the modern roots of modern progressive/liberal/leftist ideas and movements, at figures from H.G. Wells up to Barack Obama, what they have in common is a loathing for middle-class American values and culture and any system of government that defers to or gives a voice to such people. [An indispensable and brilliant work on this can be found in The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class by Fred Siegal (2013).]
Whether it is the absurdly idealized vision of Stalinism or Castro’s Cuba, admiration for Mussolini and Woodrow Wilson, the drifty fantasy of Obama the Light Worker, the brain-dead nihilism of Antifa, the simplistic and procrustean categories of “colonialism” or “whiteness” or the sheer insanity of “women” with testicles what is really in play is an ongoing attack on the normal and the traditional and on any moral or personal duties that might accrue from willing membership in country, family or church.
A theological take might be that this rejectionist disposition is a non serviam, a moral refusal to join traditions and practices informed by higher truths, the sin of pride in the fullest sense. A psychological approach might be that this is the result of a socially cultivated narcissism [See, for example, the still relevant The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Returns (1979) by Christopher Lasch]. In any event, our entire education establishment and much else in our culture is now devoted to dissolving moral and cognitive attachments to our culture. The ultimate lie in that effort is that Western culture can be eliminated but that selected fruits of that rich and wonderful heritage will somehow be left behind.
The kneejerk oikophobic/xenophilic impulses of so many malformed American youths seen cheering Hamas atrocities and supporting the Palestinian death cult (the most depraved, malformed culture on earth despite serious competition from North Korea and Iran) is diagnostic but still depressing.
In contrast to the centrifugal nature of modern Western academic institutions, Islam has a long tradition of movements to drag itself back into fundamentalist religiosity whenever diversity, secularism, or the need for change and reform rears its ugly head. At the peak of Islamic high culture in the 11th century, when the scholarship in Baghdad was the finest in the world in mathematics, medicine, and philosophy, Al Gazzali appeared on the scene to eloquently reject science and the Greeks with The Incoherence of the Philosophers to put Islam back on a path away from progress or change. Bernard Lewis noted that as the European powers grew in strength as a result of science and technology, the Ottoman army generals had to request a fatwa for officers to have permission to study Isaac Newton and Western physics for artillery design and use. That is how quickly and vastly the science gap emerged.
The Saudis have spent a large chunk of their oil revenues setting up schools to preach the Wahabi old-time religion to keep the influence of secular global influences at bay. (I recommend Hatred’s Kingdom by Dore Gold.) In Egypt, when Britain and France had divvied up the Ottoman empire, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the cutting edge of a new Islamism and the rejection of Western culture. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were direct descendants of that intellectual movement.
So we now see the weird union of privileged Western kids rebelling against their parents’ culture, joining with Muslim youths who are trying to appear more Islamic than their grandparents with jihadi theater. The former are caught up in the tiresome and sterile yet persistent pseudo-elitist fantasies that plague the West, and the latter drawn into yet another round of militant cultural inversion by a culture and religion increasingly unable to take stock of its own horrific deficiencies.
It is a triumph of raw stupidity that no futurists saw coming. Hopefully, it is too far too stupid to persist. Then again, in a rational world, Hitler would have been an obscure footnote.Published in