Friday, September 09, 2011

This time maybe nothing will be left

Imperialism is eventually a self-defeating strategy since sooner or later an empire comes across a culture it can not hope to dominate, assimilate or eradicate. Such an event shakes it right down to the core because the one thing an empire can not imagine is that there are groups that it can not explain and/or mould it it's own ideological terms. Thus begins their decline that leads to the inevitable fall.

Daniel Greenfield explains how both former Cold War empires reacted to islam in the past and now.

The Soviet Union and the Pax Americana both attempted to win the allegiance of the Muslim world with money, weapons and technology.


Micheal York in "Cabaret" springs immediately to mind:"You still think you could control them?" Apparently they still do because:

...And they are still at it today internationally and domestically. America, Russia and Europe all keep dividing ‘good’ Muslims who are loyal citizens or allies from ‘bad’ Muslims who set off bombs in schools and buses.


And the joke is, in fact, on the empires:

Russia’s ‘good’ state controlled mosques preach Jihad against the West, just as our ‘good’ Muslims were the ones who killed Russians. But we’re not the ones playing divide and conquer, they are.


But the delusion that they will be able to control islam is by no means the worst part, according to Greenfield, but rather the extent to which both empires are ready to go in order to prove that it is in fact attainable:

Russian leaders, like their European counterparts, act as if the rising Muslim population is nothing to worry about. So long as they remain loyal citizens of Mother Russia, it will make no difference if Moscow ends up with more mosques than churches. But what exactly is Russia, if it is not the land of the Russian people?

...What exactly are Russian Muslims to give their allegiance to besides the broken symbols of the Czarist and Soviet eras that have become kitsch in a vulgar oligarchy? The same question can easily be asked of the United Kingdom or America who have discarded their heritage and culture for political correctness and cheap consumer goods.

Can there be a Russia without Russians, or an England without the English or France without the French? In the same way that there can be a Constantinople without the Greeks. The buildings can remain, but without the people, there is no nation. National cultures are elastic, but not infinitely so. Immigrants can be absorbed or accommodated, but it is a two way street, and when the majority is too different from the people who defined the nation, then Constantinople becomes Istanbul.


Usually, even falling empires left behind them a nucleus, however tiny, of a people that lives on in a different form of a state buth with it's culture mostly intact. Greenfield is not optimistic when it comes to what will remain once contemporary empires crumble:


If the Cold War tested our determination to exhaustion, then the exhaustion has left us too weak to stand up for ourselves anymore. One empire has fallen and the other is falling swiftly into the ocean. And when it’s gone there will be nothing but the ragged edge of civilization, fallen skyscrapers, burning books and mosques on every corner.

We haven’t lost yet, but that’s only because of the weight of resources on our side lends us an inertia that will not last forever. But the real problem isn’t that we’re losing, it’s that we have forgotten how to fight. Worse, we have forgotten what fighting even means.


There are other topics discussed in Greenfield's article, some of which you might agree or disagree with, but he gets the fundamental point spot on. Civilization will not survive this disastrous course because on it it destroys everything of value it has created all allegedly in it's own name and in the name of misguided quasi-altruism.

Oddly enough, as I was typing this I was listening to the finale of Wanger's opera "Meistersinger von Nurnberg" which contains this warning from the main Character Hans Sachs:

Beware! Evil tricks threaten us:
if the German people and kingdom should one day decay,
under a false, foreign rule
soon no prince would understand his people;
and foreign mists with foreign vanities
they would plant in our German land;
what is German and true none would know,
if it did not live in the honour of German Masters.
Therefore I say to you:
honour your German Masters,
then you will conjure up good spirits!
And if you favour their endeavours,
even if the Holy Roman Empire
should dissolve in mist,
for us there would yet remain
holy German Art!


This part had sinister conotations in the past, but still it's appropriate in this moment, maybe more then ever. Here's the clip, if you're interested, Bayreuth prodiction of 1984 with Bernd Weikl as Hans Sachs:

1 comment:

Gray Falcon said...

"we have forgotten how to fight. Worse, we have forgotten what fighting even means."

How true. So it's not just the Serbs dealing with that problem (which doesn't make it any easier, mind).