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"Creatures Out Of The Dark Ages Have Come Marching Into The Present..."
The Iconoclast ^ | February 12, 2003 | Stephen Rittenberg

Posted on 02/12/2003 8:09:07 AM PST by BurkesLaw

The latest murderous rantings by Osama bin Laden, broadcast courtesy of advanced Western technology, made me wonder about what new apologetics for Islamo-fascist killers we can now expect from our chattering literary class. As the war on Islamofascism intensifies, growing numbers of playwrights and novelists loudly tell us the primary danger we face is not Islamo-Fascism, and not murderous tyrants like Saddam, nor the alliance between the two; rather it is George W. Bush and Western imperialism, and Israel, that constitute the main dangers.

Why do verbally gifted and creative individuals lend themselves to this sort of idiocy? Why do they lend their prestige to preservation of a tyrant's regime in the name of a fantasy of "peace"? The answer is that they are people who overvalue fantasies, and who often are able to transmute those fantasies into money.

Dr. Johnson once remarked that "No-one but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Granted, sometimes it is not actually tangible coin of the realm, but rather the coin of respect and prestige. Yet such individuals are particularly susceptible to belief in utopian fantasies wherein they can create a perfect world. Novelists, playwrights and poets possess an ability to create imaginary worlds out of their fantasies. They can put these into words that gain an audience, thereby validating their worth.

We all yearn for a better world, or to return to an imaginary Eden, and novelistic or theatrical creations can seem more perfect than our own. The more artfully constructed, the better able they are to seduce readers into the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to enter those worlds. Even those poems, novels and plays that seem especially"realistic" possess an artificial structure sadly absent from everyday life.

Not surprisingly, then, authors are often subject to bouts of grandiosity, as if they believed they were Gods, truly possessing the power to create worlds and populate those worlds with creatures, like themselves who do their bidding. As readers, we happily pretend such invented worlds are real. Sometimes, with the greatest artists like Shakespeare, such imaginary beings, for example, Hamlet, seem as "real" as actual people we know. Yet we know they aren't.

Given their grandiosity and yearning for imaginary worlds, it should not be surprising then to hear the likes of Pinter, Mailer, Sontag, Vidal, Le Guin -- and many others from the creative class -- calling for "peace". Of course the "peace" they desire is based on a fantasy that requires, like a novel, the willing suspension of disbelief -- disbelief in the desire of our enemies to destroy us. However, since it's based on fantasy and unreality, the peace they seek may help bring us the peace of the grave for 'infidels'.

Since these creative types, as well as the rest of us, tend to overvalue fictional creations, they also incline to belief in their unique wisdom and originality, as if no-one had ever heard such notions before. Yet those of us of a certain age experience a sensation of deja vu. Now it's Pinter; then it was G.B. Shaw . Now it's Mailer; then it was Hemingway. The common denominator: a utopian fantasy of an egalitarian world where no-one is aggrieved, where envy, hatred and grievance wither away.

This "rational" utopia is a mirror image of the totalitarian Muslim utopia envisioned by Osama. Hence, there is an unconscious alliance formed between the two. Both yearn for an unattainable perfection that can only require the annihilation of those who stand in the way.

While historical circumstances change, human nature remains constant and utopian yearnings are eternal. The failure of such twentieth century utopian enterprises as Communism and Fascism cannot eliminate this yearning. The bloodbaths they brought are minimized and explained away by their numerous intellectual apologists like Eric Hobsbawm. Scapegoats are found so that the utopian ideal can be preserved. And so that ideal lives on, unsullied and invulnerable to mere facts. Our debate today between liberals and conservatives is really a new version of the longstanding debate between utopians and anti-utopians. The latter are naturally regarded as less morally worthy than those who embrace a self flattering fantasy of universal love.

H. G. Wells was the archetypal novelist as public intellectual in the early years of the twentieth century. Prolific and proselytizing, were Wells alive today he'd be a sure fire hit as a media pundit.

Wells decided that his immensely entertaining creations of science fiction utopias were not enough; and he would attempt to bring socialist egalitarian utopia to the real world. What was needed, Wells argued, was a world government, one that should be managed by superior intellects, according to principles of science. His book A Modern Utopia described this ideal society, run and organised by humanistic and well-educated people -- people who, naturally, resembled H.G. Wells.

Isn't it odd that George Orwell, the archetypal dystopian novelist lives on more vividly than Wells, gaining in stature with the passage of time? His novels, Animal Farm and 1984, depicted the horrifying outcome of the effort to create egalitarian utopias. They showed how "peace" could really mean war, and "freedom" could mean enslavement. They continue to live in ways that Wells's fiction does not.

Orwell's critical writings are not as well known as his novels, but in 1941 he wrote an essay called Wells, Hitler and the World State. It was a respectful but harsh assessment of Wells's utopianism and holds up today as an indictment of our contemporary liberal utopians. The rise of Hitler, Orwell points out, was greeted by Wells, not as a danger to be confronted with force, but rather as a challenge to create a world government that would satisfy the grievances of the world's afflicted.

Through the 1930's, and even after the war began, Wells continued to minimize the danger posed by Hitler, insisting that the West was exagerrating the threat posed by "that screaming little defective in Berlin." He could not acknowledge the power and appeal of murderous evil.

Echoes of Wells's call for world government can be heard today in contemporary left-liberalism's insistence that the UN be strengthened in the face of the threat posed by Saddam. Having jettisoned religion, the left cannot recognize it is in thrall to a new religion -- the religion of universalist faith in supra-government institutions like the UN.

In the course of his essay, Orwell levels a devastating critique of Western intellectuals, pointing out how ill equipped they are to deal with primitive and powerful emotions like envy, hatred and ideological fanaticism. He recounts Wells's defense of Communism to Churchill. Wells accused Churchill of demonizing the Bolsheviks as "monsters dripping with blood.." simply because Churchill feared "that they were going to introduce an era of scientific control, in which flag-wavers like Churchill himself would have no place." Orwell strikes to the heart of Wells's utopianism when he says: "Churchill's estimate of the Bolsheviks, however, was nearer the mark than Wells's. The early Bolsheviks...were not sensible men. They were not intoducing a Wellsian Utopia but...a military despotism enlivened by witchcraft trials."

Orwell continues: "The same misconception reappears in an inverted form in Wells's attitude to the Nazis. Hitler is all warlords and witch-doctors in history rolled into one. Therefore, argues Wells, he is an absurdity...a creature doomed to disappear almost immediately."

Orwell also points out that the advances of science, which Wells hails as the harbinger of Utopia, were actually employed by Hitler for barbarous ends, just as our contemporary Islamist barbarians employ the tools of technology and advanced science for theirs. As Orwell put it: "Science is fighting on the side of superstition. But obviously it is impossible for Wells to accept this. It would contradict the world-view on which his own works are based."

Indeed, Orwell's observations, more than a half century ago, go to the heart of the matter: contemporary Western liberal utopianism is a faith, a faith in rationality that is unable to accept and confront the power of irrationalism. Those who argue for it are intellectuals, a class with an overinvestment in the power of rationality and logical argument. The Churchillian view, that primitivist enemies must be annihilated, challenges this utopian faith in reason................

(Excerpt) Read more at iconoclast.ca ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: disaster; literati; tyranny; utopianism
Wise words. I think the author is a psychiatrist, so he's probably dealt with these types. He and Yale Kramer (another psychiatrist) publish the Horsefeathers! web site.
1 posted on 02/12/2003 8:09:07 AM PST by BurkesLaw
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To: BurkesLaw
BTTT
2 posted on 02/12/2003 8:22:02 AM PST by Gritty
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To: BurkesLaw
BOOKMARKED
BUMP
3 posted on 02/12/2003 8:26:28 AM PST by ppaul
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To: BurkesLaw
bump
4 posted on 02/12/2003 8:29:47 AM PST by tophat9000
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To: demosthenes the elder
Interesting.
5 posted on 02/12/2003 8:30:11 AM PST by dyed_in_the_wool (I am Jack's smirking revenge.)
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To: BurkesLaw
Bumping a penetrating analysis.
6 posted on 02/12/2003 8:30:21 AM PST by headsonpikes
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To: BurkesLaw
Our debate today between liberals and conservatives is really a new version of the longstanding debate between utopians and anti-utopians. The latter are naturally regarded as less morally worthy than those who embrace a self flattering fantasy of universal love.
As Thomas Sowell pointed out in A Conflict of Visions, none of us sees reality whole. Utopians have the grandiose idea that they do see enough of reality to be able to dispense with tradition's wisdom. The most obvious fallacy of that conceit is the fact that any given language is itself meaningless apart from tradition--and where is your vaunted rationality without language?
No one learns their first language from a dictionary; they instead learn it in the bosom of their family, and in their culture. Subsequent "book larnin" from dictionaries can then amplifiy the child's knowledge of his native tounge or teach it other languages--but what is the meaning of a Spanish-English dictionary if you know neither Spanish nor English? It is gibberish, at most.

7 posted on 02/12/2003 8:34:42 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: BurkesLaw
Bump for Later
8 posted on 02/12/2003 8:36:54 AM PST by gridlock (All we are saying, Is give war a chance....)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
You point out the value of the Rosettea Stone quite well.
9 posted on 02/12/2003 8:38:30 AM PST by Elsie (Just why DON'T you trust in Jesus?)
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To: BurkesLaw
Bump for later.
10 posted on 02/12/2003 9:08:04 AM PST by Huck
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To: BurkesLaw
The battle in places like Europe is not between Islam and Christianity (that battle is over, as Christianity as a force has almost disappeared in Europe), but between Islam and Secular Humanism/Socialism.

Adherents of the latter 'religion' haven't yet realized who their real enemy is.

11 posted on 02/12/2003 9:13:06 AM PST by expatpat
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To: BurkesLaw
Why do verbally gifted and creative individuals lend themselves to this sort of idiocy?

"Check your premises."

12 posted on 02/12/2003 9:19:01 AM PST by Redcloak (Jn th lton t Prvnt the bs of nnssrl Lngth, Vrbs nd Nnsnsl Tg Lns)
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To: BurkesLaw
One of the best posts in a while. Thanx.
13 posted on 02/12/2003 9:37:53 AM PST by friendly
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To: BurkesLaw
This has always been my take on the liberal and libertarian perspectives. And with a blind eye to the very nature of man with all his shortcomings, they will never understand why Utopia is unattainable.
14 posted on 02/12/2003 9:44:24 AM PST by A Navy Vet
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To: BurkesLaw
good article
15 posted on 02/12/2003 10:42:25 AM PST by demosthenes the elder (assorted rude noises)
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To: BurkesLaw; lawgirl; Polybius
Isn't it odd that George Orwell, the archetypal dystopian novelist lives on more vividly than Wells, gaining in stature with the passage of time? His novels, Animal Farm and 1984, depicted the horrifying outcome of the effort to create egalitarian utopias. They showed how "peace" could really mean war, and "freedom" could mean enslavement. They continue to live in ways that Wells's fiction does not.




16 posted on 02/12/2003 10:42:41 AM PST by Paul Ross (From the State Looking Forward to Global Warming! Let's Drown France!)
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To: BurkesLaw
Bump for later.
17 posted on 02/12/2003 10:46:53 AM PST by StriperSniper (Start heating the TAR, I'll go get the FEATHERS.)
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Isn't it odd that George Orwell, the archetypal dystopian novelist lives on more vividly than Wells, gaining in stature with the passage of time?

Orwell, as a cynic of human nature, was betting the odds. But it is astonishing how applicable his works still are while so many other more famous authors have waned to insignificance.

Although I'm normally wary of literary arguments, this article is about as good as you'll ever see, a very trenchant use of Orwell to bludgeon the lovers of 'peace' with totalitarian regimes.
18 posted on 02/12/2003 11:26:58 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: expatpat
Jude Dougherty has a good essay making your same point in Modern Age Quarterly. Unfortunatly it is not availible on the web. ISI's link makes the point that he "assesses Islam as a "heresy" in the spirit of Hilaire Belloc."

It is the fall 2002 issue.

19 posted on 02/12/2003 11:41:29 AM PST by KC Burke
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To: BurkesLaw
Liberals and libertarians (liberaltarians) do not accept that the innate desire for perfection and harmony deep within every human being cannot be fulfilled in the world of birth and death. As a monotheist, my understanding is that every soul is created by/coming from God, and that being (currently) separated from Him, it is our deepest desire and need to reunite with Him in love. When this need is neither recognized nor acted upon, it is misdirected and misapplied in the world.
In other words, if we don't seek the Kingdom of God in the right place, we try to imitate and create one on earth. And the result? Hell on earth.
Can't have the kingdom of God without God. It turns quickly into the worst hell anyone could ever imagine, ruled by imitation gods who become the worst enemies of the world.
20 posted on 02/12/2003 12:28:03 PM PST by First Amendment
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To: KC Burke
Thx
21 posted on 02/12/2003 2:20:36 PM PST by expatpat
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To: BurkesLaw
Both yearn for an unattainable perfection that can only require the annihilation of those who stand in the way.

I don't see it. Annihilation of those that stand in the way is not required by the utopian vision. Seclusion would suffice.

Afghanistan should have been Osama's utopia as the most pure implementation of sharia law. Does anyone doubt the world would fate would be much different were it all dominated by Islam?

Likewise the Soviet Union should have been the Communist's utopia, but it was indeed fantasy and after enough years reality set in and brought about the collapse of the communist state.

Annihilation of those that stand is the way is about winning. It's not about limiting outside influence. It's about validating your own beliefs by killing others. It's about power and exerting it over other people. It's about status and greed and probably lust.

22 posted on 02/12/2003 3:23:09 PM PST by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: expatpat
"...haven't yet realized who their real enemy is."

Nor do they realize how much stronger that enemy is than they are. It will be a pleasure to watch them get conquered by the islamists.

23 posted on 02/12/2003 8:37:10 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: pram
Can't have the kingdom of God without God. It turns quickly into the worst hell anyone could ever imagine, ruled by imitation gods who become the worst enemies of the world.

Richard Wurmbrand has written several gripping works minutely describing the sadism hatched by radical utopian hatred of Christianity.
24 posted on 02/13/2003 11:31:41 AM PST by houstonian
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To: DannyTN
Off hand, I can only think of one all-encompassing utopian vision which, when believers tried to put it into effect politically, did not result in mass executions. That would be the American experiment in personal freedom and rights as granted by a creator G*d. The fact that was instituted in the form of a Constitutional Republic was, I think, key.

We've had our moments, but nothing to compare with the French Terror, the Nazi Holocaust, the Stalinist genocide, Mao's and Pol Pot's mass murder, etc. Islamic fundamentalism belongs in this list.

25 posted on 02/13/2003 11:45:35 AM PST by katana
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To: katana
I suspect there are a lot of utopian visions that have been put into effect in a smaller scale that did not result in mass executions. They range from monasteries during the dark ages, hermits, 60's communes, nudist colonies, etc. The difference is that these utopias were all voluntary.

The utopias that result in mass executions are forced utopias. The same evil desires that drive someone to force their concept of utopia on someone else also drives them to be ambitious to continue expanding their fantasy, until it's worldwide.
26 posted on 02/13/2003 12:06:21 PM PST by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: DannyTN
Agreed, hence the mention of the utopia being put into political effect. To be part of a utopian order requires the members to be of one thought, and that requires voluntary or forced submission to the group. The larger the group, the more likely mass violence seems to be.
27 posted on 02/13/2003 12:33:12 PM PST by katana
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