It represents the faint beginnings of a cancer with the global liberal order, the playing out of internal contradictions that could ravage it from within. This discontent is borne more out of spiritual crisis than economic recession. The danger is that the Islamic State shows (with apologies to Dave Chapelle) what happens when starting the world goes wrong.
Barack Obama is now the fourth consecutive American President to order military action in Iraq. Once again, it seems we must “think of the children”–especially because this time, it seems they are decapitating them. Of course, after two decades of this, one is tempted to ask–so what else is new?
Well, what’s new is that America is not facing a “rogue state” refusing to play by the rules of George Bush I’s “New World Order.” Instead, a self-proclaimed Caliphate has arisen in the Levant, erasing boundaries between Iraq and Syria, seizing Iraq’s largest dam, and easily undoing whatever progress American forces made over the last decade holding the country together.
The breakdown of state power is startling to the Great and the Good, but not to those of us on the New Right who find both hope and dread in the warnings of William Lind and Martin van Crevald about the collapse of state power. Fourth Generation Warfare has already destroyed the Westphalian order in what is fashionably called the “birthplace of civilization.”
Indeed, it’s startling how utterly irrelevant states have become in the current wars. As Israel pulverizes Gaza, street protests are rocking the streets of Europe, as tribe fights Tribe in what is ostensibly the capital of the French. Meanwhile, the fabled “Arab street” seems largely quiet, as are Arab governments. As neoconservative Victor Davis Hanson accurately notes, many Arab states are, if anything, quiet supporters of Israel. Yet Israel still faces an existential demographic crisis that only grows worse even as it gradually strengthens its diplomatic position against former foes.
Meanwhile, while the “international community” can tweet and preen about freeing “Palestine,” far fewer seem to care when Sunni slaughters Shia, or vice versa. Tom Clancy predicted the rise of an Iranian dominated “United Islamic Republic” in Executive Orders that would drive for the Middle Eastern oil fields. (It’s a mildly uncomfortable coincidence that a subplot in the book was an Ebola outbreak in the United States.) Clancy’s fiction errs only in that that it is the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria who have raised the black banner of Islamic unity and resistance to what they see as Alawite and Shia occupation. Ironically, it’s the forces of Hezbollah and the elite troops of the Islamic Republic of Iran that are the most active in fighting the Caliphate on the ground. A civil war within Islam akin to the Catholic/Orthodox slaughter of the Fourth Crusade is raging before our eyes.
This has led to some speculation that the “Islamic State” is actually a tool of American policy, keeping the Muslims at each other’s throats instead of Israel’s. It seems more likely that, as with Israel and Hamas, the foreign policy experts created a golem they can no longer control. Bashar al-Assad (and his lovely wife) told you so, you bloody fools.
But this goes beyond geopolitics. It represents the faint beginnings of a cancer with the global liberal order, the playing out of internal contradictions that could ravage it from within. This discontent is borne more out of spiritual crisis than economic recession. The danger is that the Islamic State shows (with apologies to Dave Chappelle) what happens when starting the world goes wrong.
It’s hard to imagine the Caliphate ever making the transition to a recognized state. However, unlike Osama bin Laden, the Islamic State has succeeded in creating a global brand that appeals to disaffected Sunnis throughout the world, including those in the West. Even women are joining the group – and we all await Jezebel to tell us what they really want is subsidized birth control and more female role models in comic books.
Of more concern, “Western” Muslims have been fighting for the Caliphate, providing propaganda for their brothers and clickbait fodder for the likes of the Daily Mail. For example, one “Abu Muslim,” a Canadian, went to fight for his god and was “martyred,” giving his Caliphate a new hero. Similarly, Muslims that outwardly resemble hipsters and used to post workout videos on YouTube now spend their days on the streets of Syria riding horses and waving scimitars. Naturally, this comes as a great surprise to all of us who know that “Islam means peace.”
What these Islamic warriors are fighting for is not just a Caliphate but something beyond what liberal democracy offers. It is the pursuit of the Greater Jihad through the Lesser Jihad. Unfortunately for us, Muslim culture offers an eternal and immediately available alternative to modernity. The great danger of non-White mass immigration–or what should be called settler colonialism–is the regression to the mean, both in intelligence and in culture. Even if a largely professional and secular Muslim goes to the West to become a wannabe SWPL, his sons will seek a return to their roots. Whether a rich Muslim turns his back on privilege or a poor one blames the kafir for his low status, the “root cause” of terrorism and extremism is something our ancestors already knew–Blood Tells.
What, after all, does the West–or modernity–offer people? While Fukuyama contends that it satisfies thymos, the desire for recognition, those who live under the postwar Western peace grow less worthy of dignity the more they talk about it. Worse, they know this. Ultimately, this leads to an internalized self-loathing, which modern man resolves in one of three ways.
- Pursuit of ever more elaborate forms of equality and revolt against nature (STIHIE)
- Consumerism, the political defense of consumerism, or a socially approved consumerist escapism (fandom, cosplay, video games, etc.)
- Rebellion – what Jack Donovan has called withdrawing consent in order to destroy the world modernity has created, and start a new one. If enough people do this, it leads to what Dugin called “shov[ing] the people into the sweet process of creating history.”
What separates starting the world from LARPing? The answer is danger. To borrow from Hegel, the difference between the lord and the slave is the former risks his life and safety for the sake of honor. Modern men are slaves because they define themselves by their intense desire for safety, comfort, and self-gratification. As even movies like Wall-E point out, if human beings are simply transformed into perfectly safe consumers, they are no longer really human–and they certainly don’t have any dignity.
The result is the “elite” of modern society in culture, politics, and (with some exceptions) economics have no obvious justification for their right of lordship. Americans love to read celebrity magazines to be titillated by their betters, but no one is ennobled by them. The more degraded someone is, the more our society seems to reward them. Thus, in some ways, a culture of desperate sincerity–even a monstrous one–will always seem preferable at some level to what we have now. As South Park put it just after 9/11:
Kyle — Do you really think your civilization is better than ours?! You people play games by killing animals, and oppress women!
Afghan boy — It’s better than a civilization that spends its time watching millionaires walk down the red carpet at the Emmys!
Stan – (After a pause) …He’s got us there, dude.
Of course, liberal capitalism specializes in assimilating and commodifying rebellion. A revolt against the system usually just transforms into just another business opportunity. However, there are exceptions.
As the late Jonathan Bowden noted, the two forces completely unassimilable by modernity are the far right and religious fundamentalism. And the modern West only seems able to enthusiastically oppose political and religious extremism that is somehow identified as “pro-White” or “pro-Christian.” Militant Islam always needs to be “explained,” unlike, say, neo-fascism, which is always described as a “plague” or a “disease” that needs to be “crushed.”
Obviously, Muslim immigration into the West is more of a symptom than a cause of Western decline. In and of itself, it is powerless. But it is amazingly persistent and will move to fill a void. And the West is a spiritual void.
For proof, one only has to compare the response of Pope Urban II to Muslim aggression:
From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion…
Let the deeds of your ancestors move you and incite your minds to manly achievements; the glory and greatness of king Charles the Great, and of his son Louis, and of your other kings, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the pagans, and have extended in these lands the territory of the holy church. Let the holy sepulchre of the Lord our Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially incite you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with their filthiness. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, be not degenerate, but recall the valor of your progenitors.
“Never war, never war,” [Pope Francis] said. “I am thinking, above all, of children who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, a future. Dead children, wounded children, mutilated children, orphaned children, children whose toys are things left over from war, children who don’t know how to smile.” This was the moment when the tears came. “Please stop,” said Francis. “I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please!”
Yeah, that’ll do it. A far cry from Deus vult!
The West defines itself by tolerance, human rights, consumption, “freedom,” and phony religion that reinforces these decrepit values. It also only expresses its opposition to “militant Islam” in these terms. The result is that the West creates its own existential opposition from within.
When confronted with meaninglessness, with modernity, with either great wealth or the lack of it, there will always be temptation to assert oneself as more than a Last Man through Jihad in any place where there is a sizable Islamic population. After all, what could be more adventurous than re-establishing a Caliphate, leading the conquest of ancient cities, and creating a new world through the sword as the Companions of the Prophet did? Better to live by the scimitar for one day, thinks the terrorist, than die slowly in a cubicle.
The fact that Islam is still seen as non-White and non-Western will always lend it that fashionable cachet forever denied to neo-fascism or Christian fundamentalism. In its way, modern Jihad is Riding the Tiger of Western decadence. And what’s more archaeo-futurist than getting likes for displaying the severed heads of your enemies on Facebook?
Moreover, while the horror of crucifixions, beheadings, and mass executions is real, Western governments have handicapped themselves in trying to muster outrage. It’s hard to act self-righteous when one only has to recall former Secretary of State Madeline Albright saying that indirectly taking the lives of half a million Iraqi children is “worth it” if it means removing Saddam Hussein. (And man, wouldn’t we love to have him back?)
Of course, at its essence, the cause of the Caliphate is despicable. What the Islamic State offers is a kind of Borg society that destroys priceless architectural treasures, subordinates real identity with a stale and abstract creed, and imposes a cultureless rule of unescapable mediocrity far worse than even that decreed by liberalism.
What is most chilling is not the beheadings or mass graves –we see that south of our own border in Mexico’s brutal drug war. What is worst are those robotic, almost blasé calls of the Takbir that accompany actions both murderous and mundane. As Churchill said:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!
Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia
in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many
countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods
of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the
Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and
refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity…Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.
And the British government arrested Liberty GB leader Paul Weston for quoting it.