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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

French Make Close Culturist Call on Trains!

French officials put out a warning that Romanians have been stealing bags on trains. Calling it 'racist,' in the apology the French train service said it strives to not make any "distinction based on "origin, social class, or nationality." This event raises some serious culturist issues.

Here a very few are sullying the reputations of many. Romanians may be stealing more than others. If true, do you want to announce this fact? Whenever you make generalizations, you impugn the reputations of some innocent folks. And here the percentage of Romanian thieves may be very small. And, getting your luggage stolen is not a life and death situation. So do you sully the reputation of Romanians for the sake of safe luggage? That is a judgment call.

Whereas there should be a discussion, the French officials are putting out a blanket statement against any and all distinctions. But could "origin," or "nationality" not tell you something about a group's behavior? For example we Americans think it is racist that Latinos drop out of high school at a higher level. Could culture not have something to do with it? Could Latino culture, not American racism, be at fault? When we make a virtue of being blind to all distinctions, as the French have here, we lose the ability to discuss such important issues.

We all distinguish based on origin and nationality. This is rarely racism. It is often culturism. We can statistically determine if Romanians steal disproportionately. If they do and we publicize it, that would be useful information to citizens. It could inform immigration laws and policing measures. On top of that, it would give Romanians cause to discuss morality with their fellows. They could work to mend their reputation by reforming their behavior. Then they could point out improving statistics yearly. Crying racism and intimidating folks who discuss it does no good for them or society.

Since the official who made the offending signs did not do much research, Romanians may be being unfairly blamed. And since being careful of all when traveling likely does just as much good as just looking for Romanians, I think the signs unjustified. But, it is pathological, in the name of fighting racism, to embrace cultural blindness. Sometimes, as in young Muslim men getting on planes, this can be deadly. In such a case we must use culturist profiling. To do so we must be able to distinguish between irrational racism and rational culturism. Our lives and civilization can hang in the balance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ron Paul, Pamela Geller, and Culturism at CPAC

At CPAC three positions on Islam were apparent. One was represented by Pamela Geller’s “Freedom Defense Initiative” conference. The second came from the Ron Paul followers. And the third appeared in the conference’s otherwise deafening silence on Islam. Culturism has a lot to say about all three positions.

Ron Paul’s followers believe that Islamic terrorist attacks result from our overbearing presence in the Middle East. Therefore, they recommend pulling our troops out of that region. As a culturist, I agree that we should not be nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a culturist I believe the project of turning these nations into progressive democracies with respect for individual rights will fail because their cultures will not support such changes. And I agree with Ron Paul’s argument for disengagement based on our inability to afford these nation-building enterprises. Western culturists know that if the West is not solvent our values will die globally.

But none of Paul’s followers could explain why the Jihad in Thailand and India exist. Neither nation has military bases outside of their own borders. As multiculturalists do, the followers of Paul fail to appreciate that diversity is real and important. Diversity is not just about food, festivals, and fashion. Some cultures drop out of school early and think teen pregnancy is not so bad. Other cultures think our way of life is a blasphemous affront to God. Diversity is real and important. Overlooking the cultural aspects of Jihad will not safeguard us.

Geller’s event explained domestic Jihad initiatives. Whereas Paul could not believe that an aggressive Islam for Islam’s sake exists, Geller’s speakers clearly showed that it can and does exist. As a culturist, I agreed with their domestic solution. We need culturist profiling at airports. We need to limit Islamic immigration. That is not, by the way, racist - it is culturist. And, we need to recognize that western cultural practices and laws are the norm and standard in western nations. We should not recognize Sharia courts or allow, for example, veils in photo Identification. Unlike multiculturalists, culturists recognize that the West has a culture to protect and promote. Domestically Geller’s group was very culturist.

Culturism and Geller diverge on foreign policy. Culturism believes in national cultural sovereignty. Allen West said we should seek to defeat Islam, not Muslims. I am unclear how the two are to be separated. Quoting Ronald Reagan, he said victory means “we win, they lose.” That statement holds too little nuance for me. We all agree on bombing Iran’s nuclear sites and being aggressive in regions of Afghanistan that harbor terrorist. But culturists do not believe we will convert Islamic nations by the sword. If we want the sovereignty to pursue culturist policies domestically, we must also grant that right to other nations. We are not the world. We are the West. The idea that we will convert Islam nations by the sword is, as Ron Paul says, a dangerous proposition we cannot afford.

At CPAC the third position on Islam, and the largest, was overwhelming silence. Outside of Ron Paul’s “Why real conservatives don’t support the war on terror” meeting and Geller’s event, few deemed Islam worth discussing. Ron Paul at least wants to debate our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Geller schooled the conference on domestic threats. We conservatives, as Americans and as Westerners, need to accept culturist position that our culture is not that of the world. Diversity exists internationally. Furthermore, we must shake off the multicultural position that the West has no core culture to protect. Geller and Paul have done us a great service in making conservatives think about the West’s relationship to Islam.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jonah Goldberg Attacked!

George Mason University’s History News Network (HNN) (http://www.hnn.us/articles/122469.html) had a special issue in which they responded to Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism . This book claims that the left, and not as often assumed, the right, is the ideological predecessor to fascism. And while one respondent added to the website after the special issue dedicated to Liberal Fascism credits the book with some merit; all the writers included in the original HNN special issue were all from the Left and against Goldberg. Their style and bias, ironically, proves that the fascist tendencies in the Left are alive and well.

There is some debate of facts herein. The editor of the special, David Neiwert, does admit that the fascists called themselves “socialists” (hence ‘National Socialism’). But asserts that they quickly shifted to the right. There they attacked the Left and labor unions. Goldberg points out that they attacked the communists to wipe out their competition on the left and that if getting rid of unions I not “leftists , then Lenin, Stalin, Mao, were not leftists either.” Goldberg has been invited to refute the panel with an article. But Neiwert is the only person that even pretends to take Goldberg’s arguments seriously.

Several of the contributors to this issue use collusion between big business and government as proof that the fascists were of the right and not the left. They do not even air Goldberg’s argument that the left’s business regulation ties corporations to the State and strengthens them by making competing start-ups prohibitively expensive. Goldberg makes the case that big business, in fact, prefers collusion with the government to Laissez Faire policies. Indeed, FDR’s desire to meld the State and industry, the visual style of FDR’s ‘Blue Eagle” campaign, his packing of the Supreme Court, and ignoring of the tradition of two Presidential term limits, make Goldberg’s case of government regulation and fascist trappings feasible.

The second essayist, Robert Paxton says that “Liberal Fascism is an oxymoron . . . a fascism that means no harm is a contradiction in terms.” Goldberg provides great evidence to counter these claims. As left-leaning scholars like Matthew Frye Jacobson who never tire of reminding us of our imperialist moment will tell you, Teddy Roosevelt largely wanted War with Spain to strengthen the virility of our nation. Woodrow Wilson created a 250,000 person citizens’ army to spy on dissenters during World War One and outlawed free speech with his sedition laws. The violence of the 1960s Left can be ignored in these neo-hippies rewriting of history, but the Weatherman and current academic Bill Ayers helped launch our left-leaning Presidents run for office. Violence and the American Left are not incompatible.

Roger Griffin, in his HNN essay “An Academic Book - Not,” calls Goldberg’s work “an airbrushed Playboy variant of racist political pornography.” And, he says that “neo-Conservatives and Republican fundamentalists” have an “obsession with restoring Aryan purity and white supremacy.” This obscene diatribe of guilt by association proves one of Goldberg’s main contentions; the left slanders others as fascist at the drop of a hat. Mirroring the group-thing rife in HNN’s collection, Griffin says Liberal Fascism has the “anti-intellectual tenor of Bushite politics” and mentions that he has “no academic credentials.” Then he accuses Goldberg of bias for being anti-Democratic and anti-Clinton. Griffin notes that Goldberg claimed that Stalin and the left loved to call all that disagreed with them “fascist.” Then he immediately uses t-shirts apparently worn by a white supremacist musical group to again call the right “fascist.” We wonder if Griffin has ever heard of the concept of irony.

My doctoral dissertation focused on Frances Kellor, the Progressive head of the Americanization movement that greeted immigrants from 1906 to 1921. I contend that her life’s work specifically attempted to deal with the worry her fellow New Nationalist intellectuals, like Herbert Croly, had about the growth of the State undermining democracy and inaugurating a rule by centralized power. Croly called for a strong populist leader to embody the spirit of the nation and labeled his friend Theodore Roosevelt as the best living example. Randolph Bourne, a famous progressive intellectual, very famously worried that most Progressives like John Dewey thought World War I a great opportunity to centralize power.

Every one of these HNN historians know that mainstream intellectual historians like James Kloppenberg and Kevin Mattson peg the clash between rule by Progressive statist elites and democracy as the central question of the Progressive era. These historians know that Goldberg’s work fits right in with such interpretations and Liberal Fascism discusses Croly’s New Nationalism at length. The next to last author, Matthew Feldman, accuses Goldberg of being “selective of facts.” There is a strain of disingenuous propaganda within each of these HNN writers. Every serious historian knows that facts do not piece themselves together to make objective books. Historians use evidence to make arguments. But these academics, instead, feign outrage that there could be any interpretation that conflates fascist leanings and progressive thought.

The final article, by Chip Berlet, notes that Tea-Party Patriots believe “liberals are pushing America onto a slippery slope towards tyranny that begins with government social planning.” This is presented as total paranoia that no intellectual could stomach. Instead, in the final article, Berlet warns that we see “ultra-right and neofascist ideologues in the U.S. trying to organize the right-wing populist movement towards aggression and violence.” In the next and last paragraph he says we must fight such “demonization and scapegoating.” In explaining that fascism and liberalism have the same roots, Goldberg mostly looks at history. Ironically and characteristically, rather than engaging the argument and admitting some historical truth exists in Goldberg’s argument, this HNN collection ends by slandering its political opponents.