Thursday, February 08, 2007


Romanticism has found a cozy home on the Left. Toss in a soupcon of “sympathetic vibration with the anger of the suicide/homicide bomber,” and disaster follows. It’s all part of a long tradition whose end is in sight.

[Romantics] believed in the necessity of fighting for your beliefs to the last breath in your body .they believed in the value of martyrdom as such, no matter what the martyrdom was for..Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism

When we think of Romanticism, we rarely think of rage and nihilism. Perhaps that's because, for most people, the word "romantic" has come to stand for a particular subset of the genre known as "romantic love."

But that's not what the word "Romantic" indicates in the philosophical and/or historical sense—a movement we may have learned about long ago in the classroom, when the concept didn't mean much to us except as something to memorize, be tested on, and then promptly forgotten.

But Romanticism (here's a good summary of the concept) is far more significant than that. It informs our lives in many ways, including-surprisingly enough—our political lives: [The Romantics] sought regeneration — a regeneration we can liken to that of the medieval heretic or saint. They favored selfless enthusiasm, an enthusiasm which was an expression of faith and not as the product of utilitarian calculation. Emotion — unbridled emotion — was celebrated irrespective of its consequences.

If Romanticism glories powerful emotion "irrespective of its consequences," it becomes easy to see why rage and nihilism are no strangers to the movement. And Jean Jacques Rousseau, sometimes thought of as the father of political Romanticism, was no slouch himself in the department of anger and paranoia.

In the realm of human emotions, there are few that are more powerful-and more commonplace-than anger. I'm no Freudian, but the much-maligned Freud introduced many useful concepts, and his term "Id" is one if them. The word "Id" covers forces that include the impulse behind anger, and is defined as the "part of the psyche associated with instinctual, repressed, or antisocial desires, usually sexual or aggressive." Its counterpoint, Freud's "Ego," refers to "a set of psychic functions such as reality-testing, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory." .......

A longer version of the Isaiah Berlin quote that began this article can be found in Armed Liberal Marc Danziger's discussion of some of these issues. The lengthier excerpt includes Berlin's assertion that the Romantics glorified those perceived as downtrodden: the failures and the minorities. Romantics didn't just express empathy or sympathy for them, but actually elevated them to a place more worthy and more noble than the successes and the majorities.

So, who are the Romantics of today? From the foregoing discussion, it should be clear: Romanticism has found a cozy home on the Left. Romanticism (and Leftism) dictates not just sympathy for the Third World, but near-veneration of those there who combine a sense of victimhood (real or imagined) with what the poet Yeats called passionate intensity, which is the essence of Romanticism.

Anger is part of that passionate intensity, and it's often a dominant part. Anger is not only a strong emotion, it's a protean one, a shape-shifter. It can originate for one reason and towards one object and then its energy can be displaced and/or projected towards something or someone else. In its most intense form, it can result in suicide when it's directed at the self, and homicide when directed at another.

These two-suicide and homicide-are not at all mutually exclusive, of course. Although most suicides do not murder and most murderers do not commit suicide, there's a subset that does exactly both. The murder-suicide, traditionally occurring in Western culture mostly in the romantic (and Romantic) form of the spurned lover, finds its political expression in certain Arab countries in the form of the suicide/homicide bomber, who acquires extra motivation for his/her acts through the glorification of such deeds by that culture.

Political anger is not often severe enough to lead to suicide or homicide, at least not in this country. But the lesser and the greater forms of political anger have a similar etiology: in many cases, an individual who has a pre-existing higher-than-average level of anger (overt or repressed) for personal reasons—whether because of life experiences, or because of a somatic tendency towards anger—latches onto a political philosophy that further justifies that anger, fans it, and channels it in a particular direction......

There's an interesting socioeconomic trend to Romanticism: it's a philosophy that seems to attract a surprising number of the more well-to-do and well-educated. In Arab countries terrorists are at least as likely to come from the ranks of the relatively affluent as they are to be poverty-stricken. And in the West it seems to be the relatively well-to-do these days who are influenced most strongly by Romanticism.

Perhaps `twas ever thus. Romanticism-here and elsewhere—is not only fueled by the guilt sometimes felt by people who have relative plenty when others are suffering, but it's also fostered by an educational system that teaches and glorifies Romanticism in ways both subtle and overt.

So guilt and education are part of it. But there are other ways in which affluence-at least, relative affluence-feeds into Romanticism, especially in this country. Romanticism is idealistic (I would say, naively so). Belief in Romanticism in its purest and most philosophical form requires a certain remove from the struggles of day-to-day existence only available to those not on a subsistence level (see here for a more in-depth discussion of how this might work).

The affluent may also be attracted to the intensity of feeling and experience of the terrorist and the suicide bomber for another reason. Many human beings are probably hard-wired to seek excitement. Those who are no longer engaged in an obvious struggle for existence-no lion hunts, for example—can sometimes feel a sense of ennui and a lack of thrills. Filling this need can take the form of seeking out extreme sports such as skydiving or auto racing, or by high-risk behavior such as gambling or taking drugs. But for some people the quest takes the form of an urge towards nihilism.

More here



I have just put up here a review of a Greenie book that aims to put use of the Great Lakes under Greenie control.

Another "Thank you" to the UAW: "DaimlerChrysler is planning to make as many as 10,000 workers redundant and close up to three North American factories in a round of job cuts dubbed the "Valentine's Day Massacre" by union bosses. The carmaker's latest round of cuts, part of a wider strategic review called Project X by management, is to be announced on February 14, when workers might expect a more loving gesture than a redundancy notice. Investors are unlikely to be sending DaimlerChrsyler any love letters, either, as the plans will accompany the company's fourth-quarter and full-year financial results for 2006, which are likely to disappoint. The German-American carmaker surprised Wall Street in the third quarter with a $1.5 billion loss at its Chrysler division. Analysts expect the arm to show a loss of about $1 billion for the full year, with DaimlerChrysler as a whole remaining profitable."

'Heroism' of marriage praised: "The Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked the "commentating classes" for damaging marriage and destroying the "moral geography" of society. Dr Rowan Williams, speaking at the House of Commons at the start of National Marriage Week, criticised opponents of marriage for failing to recognise the "prosaic heroism" of people in long, successful unions and said that they were blinkered by their own familiarity with fluid, transient relationships. He said: "What we're up against at the moment is a society that has painfully and disastrously low expectations of relationships." The latest statistics show that the message of the churches on the importance of marriage might be getting through. The number of marriages in England and Wales that ended in divorce fell by eight per cent in 2005 to 141,750, the lowest annual total for five years."

Maoism? Church of England to have its own disruptive "cultural revolution": "A century or more ago, the Church of England sent missionaries to Africa with instructions to convert the heathen. Now, with attendance figures in sharp decline and the Anglican Church in turmoil over homosexuality, bishops are to be told that they must start converting the heathen closer to home. New mission orders are being drawn up to rebuild British faith, and in an ironic reversal of history, some of the missionaries could be from Africa and Asia. The orders form part of a new church law that will create a more flexible parish and diocesan structure. Under the new rules, bishops would be able to fly in a new priest to turn around a flagging parish while the incumbent is still there. The measure would allow evangelical bishops to assert their beliefs over liberal clergy by sending in like-minded evangelicals. Similarly, liberal bishops could defy parishes that were hostile to gays in the Church. Missionaries would also be sent to thriving parishes to offer a fresh perspective. Each mission would be assigned a monitor who would report on its activities to the bishop".



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason -- Details here and here

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