Quick Roundup 123

Monday, December 04, 2006

No Substitute for Reading It All

I typically ignore the material posted on the web in advance of the print issue of The Objective Standard, preferring to save all my good reading for later. But Friday, I decided to go ahead and read "'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism", John Lewis's outstanding essay systematically comparing the current war with our fight against the Shinto-inspired Japanese during World War II.

The whole thing is solid from beginning to end, but the thing that struck me the most about it was just how similar the two wars are with respect to the underlying motivation of our foes -- and how victory will require us to take this similarity into account:

Given this understanding of the issue, how should we begin to confront Totalitarian Islam? Again, there is precedent in history. The basic principles of a rational policy towards Islamic Totalitarianism -- with clear strategic implications -- were revealed in a striking telegram sent by the U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes to General Douglas MacArthur, the American commander in Japan, in October, 1945. The telegram established the basic U.S. policy goals towards Shintoism, and laid out, for MacArthur and his subordinates, the basic principles by which those goals were to be achieved:
Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion -- National Shinto, that is -- will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese Government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.
The telegram is clear about the need for separation between religion and state -- between an individual's right to follow Shinto and the government's power to enforce it. This requirement applies to Islam today (and to Christianity and Judaism) as strongly as it did to Shinto. In regard to Japan, the job involved breaking the link between Shinto and state; in regard to Islamic Totalitarianism the task involves breaking the link between Islam and state. This is the central political issue we face: the complete lack of any conceptual or institutional separation between church and state in Islam, both historically and in the totalitarian movement today. [bold added]
The similarities between these conflicts also permit us to understand why today's conflict has been so far drawn out by comparison to that with the Japanese. Despite an enormous military advantage held by the West over its essentially parasitic foe (versus our much weaker starting position against Japan), we seem to be getting nowhere. Lewis explains very clearly why this is the case: We aren't fighting to win and never really have.

Given that the timid prosecution of this war is giving the idea of "fighting back" a bad name, John Lewis's essay provides a much-needed antidote to the notion that we cannot defeat Islamofascism militarily. I would rank his arguments among the most important I have read on the subject.

The piece is long, so set aside some time and plan to read it carefully.

Casino Royale

It looks like my wife and I saw the new James Bond movie around the same time that Myrhaf did, and I pretty much agree with his review. I enjoyed this one from start to finish and highly recommend it.

And I, too, liked the Bond Girl.

Force vs. Violence

Jason Hoskin makes a very important point in an article over at Capitalism Magazine about the tendency of Islamofasicsts to use (a la the left) allegations that they are being "victimized" in order to advance their agenda.
The criticism of UCPD officers is the result of what Ayn Rand identified as a "fraudulent distinction" between force and violence. The student and his supporters are operating under the implicit assumption that force is an appropriate means of dealing with others, so long as direct physical contact is not made. When police retaliate by removing the student from the premises, this is somehow reprehensible, since it involves physical coercion. This conception serves to obliterate the rights of citizens to engage in self-defense through the agency of law enforcement. The behavior of this student is in principle no different from a thug breaking into one's home, sitting on the floor and refusing to leave. Though he may not have initiated direct physical contact with the home owner, he has violated the homeowner's right to property and to be secure in his home. In such a situation, the homeowner has the right to defend his home by throwing out the thug bodily, or calling upon the police to do so.

The use of greater force by the UCPD was absolutely appropriate. Tabatabainejad demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the rights and safety of others. He behaved in a manner that suggested he was under the influence of mind-altering drugs and ought to have been considered a threat. The mere fact that UCPD officers have chosen a dangerous career does not mean they should be made the sacrificial fodder to every hoodlum with a penchant for anarchy. The UCPD officers should not be expected to risk sustaining one scratch for the sake of those who initiate the use of force. [bold added]
This false distinction was not only employed by Moslems in the recent case of the six imams who disrupted a flight in Minnesota (which Hoskin also discusses), it also lies at the crux of a tasering controversy here in Houston.

Fantasy at the Point of a Gun

Via Myrhaf, George Reisman nails down the problem with a new rule being considered by New York City. According to the New York Times:
Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.
To which Reisman says:
The meaning of these statements is that if you're a man and want badly enough to be a woman, or if you're a woman and want badly enough to be a man, in New York City you soon will be able to be so. In New York City, at least according to the city's government, wishing to possess a different gender will actually make it so.


What is present in the rule being considered by New York City's Board of Health is an attempt to forcibly impose the fantasy of some people on everyone else. It is an attempt to elevate fantasy to the level of actual reality and to compel everyone else to accept it as though it were reality.
Reisman has lots more. Myrhaf is right about, "Yesterday's absurdities ... becoming today's laws in New York City."

You can now find Reisman's blog in the sidebar.

-- CAV


12-5-06: Added missing link to Lewis article.


Resident Egoist said...

Gus, that telegram you quote is really interesting (for lack of a better word). It shows why the current Bush administration, and the Republican party in general, cannot be expected to win the war against the jihadists: the majority of Republicans are themselves religionists who do NOT believe in the separation of religion and state ... which is why we have the ugly sight of newly established theocracies in the Middle-East (e.g.: Iraq, Afghanistan, 'Palestine') being hailed as victories for freedom merely because they are "democracies".

This of course isn't to say that we are to have better hope with the dhimmicrats.

What on Earth are we going to do!?

Gus Van Horn said...

Stall for time via split government and work like hell for cultural change.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, I haven't read Lewis's article yet (and won't have time to until the end of the week), but this passage is interesting in a couple of ways: "People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion -- National Shinto, that is -- will go . . ."

First, there was a lot of controversy in pre-war Japan over the role of National Shinto; Christian missionaries and Japanese Christians were the ones who made the distinction significant in Japanese political debate in the first place. (Indeed, I wonder to what extent the point in the telegraph was based on the pre-war debates in the first place.) It's worth noting this because in the case of Japan, the Christian opponents of National Shinto appear to have been fairly consistent in calling for the separation of church and state; the ones I'm familiar with were of the older Protestant persuasion that called for rigorous separation of the two on the principle of no compulsion in religion. That tradition is not in much evidence among the conservatives of today.

Second, National Shinto was a pale shadow of "political Islam." Shinto itself is a rather unarticulated animist religion in which the myth of the divinity of the Emperor was actually tacked on to an earlier body of myths as part of the centralization of Japan starting about the 7th century AD, and the prestige of the Emperor was supported as much by Buddhism and Chinese thought as by Shinto. National Shinto was even later--it only came into existence with the Meiji Restoration anyway and served as one of a number of tools to inculcate authoritarianism (such as the essentially racist belief in the superiority of the Japanese as the future leaders of the Asian peoples against the whites), and it could easily be eliminated by American decree during the occupation. Radical Islam too has been pushed by authoritarian states, but in their case it's the major intellectual support against localism and tribalism; and unlike Shinto, Islam has had a political doctrine from the time of Muhammad that can't be sliced off nearly so easily.

Gus Van Horn said...

Lots of very good points. TOS is very good about printing (and having authors reply to) letters-to-the-editor. I'd be very interested in knowing what Lewis would say to some of these.

My shot from the hip is that we may have to be ruthless for longer, but not necessarily. If National Shinto really was new and really did get people to become suicide warriors in such a short time, perhaps a similar eradication of militant Islam could take place under firm enough colonial rule. Of course, an entire adult generation might need to die out, too.

Please do consider writing TOS on this. And email me if you find that LTEs are subscriber-only.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "If National Shinto really was new and really did get people to become suicide warriors in such a short time, perhaps a similar eradication of militant Islam could take place under firm enough colonial rule." Interesting point, but in fact the suicidal devotion to war that you saw in the Pacific War (a nice term that excludes the war in Europe and includes the whole history of Japanese aggression starting in 1931) was inculcated throughout several centuries of warrior rule (essentially the closest non-European equivalent to feudalism I know of) and was usually called Bushido (the Way of the Warrior). Its ideals were inculcated more through universal military service than through universal education--starting in the late 1870s, if memory serves, when disenchanted samurais revolted against the central government in the name of their local districts. In the wake of this revolt extensive military conscription was instituted to break down local loyalties. It would be very interesting to comapre the process of state-0building in Japan with that in the Middle East, actually...

And as for colonialism, one would hope it to be far better than the muddlement the Brits foisted on the Middle East after 1917--scarcely a lick of sense in any of that mess...

Gus Van Horn said...

The longer history of a suicidal warrior ethos, followed by its fast eradication suggests we could "clean up" parts of the Middle East comparatively quickly, then, assuming we were ruthless in our insistence on separating Islam from government. It would seem to me that Bushido was just a less mystical precursor to National Shinto, namely an ethics enforced by govenment, be it local samurais and or the cienral government of Japan.

Very interesting, indeed.

John Lewis said...

Please forgive the late comment; I should have thanked you earlier for recognizing my article. Thanks!!

I would encourage readers to write to TOS with their questions; the more I can get, the better I can respond in the next issue.


I have some preliminary comments on the TOS blog now: www.theobjectivestandard.com/blog

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for stopping by, Dr. Lewis. I will mention your offer to entertain questions in a new post.