Monday, November 02, 2015
Are we seeing the collapse of Muslim civilization? And is that disturbing?
Spengler (David Goldman) is always an unusual and interesting thinker and he answers both questions above in the affirmative. Despite his lengthy disquisition (excerpt below), however, I think he fails to make his case.
Muslims have always been at one-another's throats. It was what enabled the Christian Byzantines to survive alongside Muslims for hundreds of years. When a Muslim regime attacked Byzantium, some other Muslim regime would see that as a weakness in the warring Muslim regime and attack it "from behind". So the war with Byzantium would suddenly be over as the besetting troops were withdawn to fight the sudden new Muslim enemy. And just the fear of that situation among the Muslims helped protect Byzantium. So I can't see that the present chaotic situation in the Middle East and North Africa need disturb anyone. It is just Muslims being Muslims.
And Muslim attacks on non-Muslims are neither new nor rare either -- from the Barbary pirates of the 17th to 19th century to the Turkish slaughter of the Christian Armenians and Pontine Greeks only around 100 years ago.
And that period in history is the one that I would identify as the real big break in Muslim civilization. The Ottoman empire, with its vast reach and power was long well accepted as the Caliphate but its great losses of territory in WWI plus the total abandonment of its traditions by Mustafa Kemal totally disrupted its place in the Muslim world and left a large theological vacuum. A Caliphate was lost! And Islamic scholars took a long time to adapt to that new situation on the ground. But they did eventually adapt by returning to Bedouin roots and its primitivism. And Saudi Arabia became the headquarters of the new/old understanding. And oil money gradually spread that understanding far and wide.
So the fall of the Ottomans made Islam polycentric, with all Muslims now responsible to propagate and promote the faith and with all Muslim rulers hopeful of becoming the new Caliph. And that has now built up some momentum.
So because the present scene is just a re-enactment of traditional Muslim hatreds and behaviour, I can't see that European countries have any reason to see in the present Muslim chaos any forewarning about their own future
The acceptance of a Muslim influx by Western European countries is driven not by any civilizational fears but by Leftist squawks about "compassion" and "racism", which embarrass governments into impotence. And Leftists LIKE the Muslim influx. Destroying the existing society has always been their primary aim and they care little about what replaces it. "Anything would be better" is their hate-filled and myopic cry.
Political leaders in Germany—which may absorb 1.5 million migrants this year—are struggling to respond to reports of a sex crime epidemic among newly-arrived Muslims. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere urged Germans not to believe rumors of widespread rape at refugee centers, while Germany’s police union chief Rainer Wendt warned, “There is a lot of glossing over going on. But this doesn’t represent reality.” Wendt added, “It is understandable that there is the desire to calm things down politically.”
Germany’s elite knows perfectly well that the migrants bring social pathologies, because they have already seen the world’s worst sex crime epidemic unfold in Scandinavia. Sweden now has the highest incidence of reported rape outside of a few African countries, and nearly ten times the rate of its European peers—and all this has happened in the past ten years. Sweden ranks near the top of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, yet it has become the most dangerous country for women outside of Africa, with an incidence of rape ten times that of its European peers. Sweden’s political leaders not only refuse to take action, but have made it a criminal offense to talk about it.
Even in liberated, feminist, gender-neutral Sweden, there is something more horrible than rape, something horrible enough to persuade the political elite to sacrifice the physical and mental health of tens of thousands of Swedish women. That is the horror of social disintegration in the Muslim world. Sweden opened its borders to refugees twenty years before the migrant flood arrived on Germany’s doorstep, and the foreign born rose from 9% of the population in 1990 to 15.4% in 2012. Foreigners have a higher birth rate, so the percentage is higher including second-generation immigrants.
There have been protests, to be sure, and nationalist parties like the Sweden Democrats have gained support on an anti-immigration platform, but Sweden will remain supine as its social fabric unravels. So, I expect, will Germany. Europe is transfixed by the horror unfolding from Libya to Afghanistan, as one of the world’s major civilizations unravels in real time. In its moment of agony, the Muslim world’s most potent weapon is its own weakness. The human cost of the collapse of Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria is horrendous, but it is small thus far compared to the horrors that would attend instability in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The West can’t bear to look at it.
The incidence of rape in Sweden has tripled in the past ten years as the country became Europe’s premier destination for Muslim immigrants. Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Ingrid Carlqvist and Lars Hedegaard observe,
"Since 2000, there has only been one research report on immigrant crime. It was done in 2006 by Ann-Christine Hjelm from Karlstads University. It emerged that in 2002, 85% of those sentenced to at least two years in prison for rape in 2002 were foreign born or second-generation immigrants.
A 1996 report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reached the conclusion that immigrants from North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) were 23 times as likely to commit rape as Swedish men. The figures for men from Iraq, Bulgaria and Romania were, respectively, 20, 18 and 18. Men from the rest of Africa were 16 times more prone to commit rape; and men from Iran, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, 10 times as prone as Swedish men."
A new trend reached Sweden with full force over the past few decades: gang rape — virtually unknown before in Swedish criminal history. The number of gang rapes increased spectacularly between 1995 and 2006. Since then no studies of them have been undertaken.
Sweden not only stands by while large number of its women are raped, but outlaws public discussion of the causes. Michael Hess, a Social-Democratic politician, was condemned by a Swedish court under a law forbidding denigration of ethnic groups. for writing in 2014, “There is a strong connection between rapes in Sweden and the number of immigrants from MENA-countries [Middle East and North Africa].”
Why should Sweden inflict such damage upon itself and criminalize dissent against the policies which caused it? Ideology can’t be the whole explanation. Sweden is committed to a postmodern multicultural ideology, to be sure, but other ideologies have a voice, feminism. Yet the feminists are mute on the subject of Sweden’s rape epidemic. That is not because feminists condone rape, but because they believe that there is something even more horrible than rape.
There have been many wars of extermination, but there is something uniquely horrifying about today’s terrorism. Never in the history of warfare have tens of thousands of individuals stood ready to commit suicide in order to harm enemy civilians. Never for that matter, has one combatant (Hamas in the 2014 Gaza rocket war) sought to maximize civilian casualties on its own side. The Japanese killed over 20 million Chinese during the Second World War, but committed suicide in combat in the attempt to sink enemy warships, not kill enemy civilians. The Nazis did not ask their soldiers to kill themselves in order to kill Jews.
Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal’s chief foreign policy commentator, calls this behavior psychosis. That begs the question: Which kind? DSM-IV doesn’t have a name for it. Perhaps we should call it “Social Death Derangement Syndrome,” or SDDS.
The fear of social death that comes with civilizational decline is unspeakably worse than individual death, and horror before the prospect of social death gives impulse to atrocious behavior. More precisely, it makes it impossible to say what is atrocious and what is not. “We cannot, indeed, imagine our own death; whenever we try to do so we find that we survive ourselves as spectators,” said Freud. That is not quite true: we often tremble at the prospect of our own death in fear and horror, which we would not do if we did not imagine it. Our consciousness, rather, is both individual and social, and we regard our own death with the inner eye of those with whom we share a common language and aspirations, which will not end with our physical existence.
Unless it does. That is the ultimate horror. It is one thing to imagine being a spectator at your own funeral, and another to imagine yourself shut into perpetual silence, cut off from all human contact, with no past and no future. That is a living death, a mental presence without consciousness. Imagine, for example, that on your deathbed you are the last speaker of a language that will become extinct upon your passing, erasing your memory and your history. That is a horror much worse than Hell, where at least you can chat with your neighbor in the brimstone pit. At least the shade of Achilles could gripe to Odysseus about the misery of the underworld; imagine how the son of Peleus would have felt if all memory of Greece along with its language were forever extinguished, and he sat in Hades alone and in perpetual silence.
That is how it feels to be trapped in a dying civilization. Rationality ceases to have meaning. Upon learning that you have an inoperable malignant brain tumor, you might cash in your insurance policy and go on a spree—but not if everyone who speaks your language and shares your memories already is extinct. In that case there is nothing to do with your money. You can sit at the bar by yourself and drink Chateau Petrus. Or you can go out and stab the next Israeli you run into.
The death of Muslim civilization is too horrible for the Germans to contemplate, because the bell tolls for them, too. And it is particularly painful for Germans to consider the possibility that the source of the terrible events that have driven millions to Germany is the character of the people themselves. Syria has torn itself to pieces not only because of the malfeasance of its leaders but rather because of the character of its people. Once the Sunni revolt against Shia-majority government in Iraq enlisted elements of Saddam Hussein’s army as well as the “Sunni Awakening” funded by Gen. Petraeus during the 2007-2008 “surge,” sectarian war to the death became inevitable in Syria, with both sides inflicting the most revolting atrocities imaginable.
The Assad regime has killed more people because it has the aircraft to attack Sunni civilians, but the Sunni opposition–including the “moderate,” American-backed Sunni opposition–has committed mass murder and bragged about it. Human Rights Watch in October 2013 that in one operation near Latakia in the Alawite heartland, Sunni “fighters killed 190 civilians. Residents and hospital staff in Latakia, the nearest city, spoke of burned bodies, beheaded corpses and graves being dug in backyards. Two hundred people from the area remain hostage.” Free Syrian Army chief of staff Salim Idriss, the poster-boy for “moderate opposition,” praised the operation in a video and took partial responsibility. ISIS has captured the world’s imagination and turned its stomach with public executions and the destruction of archaeological treasures, but that is how Muslims have fought wars for 1,500 years. Just ask the Christians of the Balkans or the Armenians of Anatolia about the Turks.
Very large parts of the Syrian population are complicit in the civil war’s atrocities, almost certainly by intent. Mass complicity in war crimes has two functions–first, to destroy the enemy’s will, and second, to make entire populations complicit in the atrocities.
Horror does not deter Muslims, because Muslims see the world in terms of unconstrained will. Allah’s will governs the spin of every electron and the path of every bullet. It is unfathomable and arbitrary, like nature in the pagan world. Islam can endure horror, but not humiliation. But horror is the Achilles’ heel of the Christian world, whose founding premise is that God offers unselfish love and unmerited grace to mankind, and in a sense stacked the deck in favor of goodness. The perception that the universe is cruel and without purpose is poison to Christianity. That is the great paradox of salvation: If God’s unselfish love and unmerited grace offer salvation to all humankind, what are we to make of those to willfully reject it?
All the promises of heavenly bliss are not worth the torment of a single child, said Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov. But Karamazov spoke of the aberrant behavior of a few cruel people within the Christian world, whose actions the vast majority of Christians would condemn. The news photo of one drowned boy overwhelmed Europe. What does one do with a culture that routinely commits atrocities?
“The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz,” quipped the Israeli psychiatrist Zvi Rex, and there is deep truth in the joke. Auschwitz is killing off the Germans while the Jews flourish, at least in Israel. Israeli Jews have three children per female while Germans have less than 1.4. At current fertility rates, there will be more Israelis than Germans under the age of 25 by the end of the present century. The share of Germany’s population over 60, meanwhile, will rise to 45%.
The impulse to open Germany to Muslim refugees is irresistable for Germany’s elite, prominently so in the case of Chancellor Angela Merkel. To understand her motives one must consider that she is not only a German, but also a Christian. “Belief in God and closeness to the church have molded me and occupied me since my childhood,” she wrote in an essay entitled “Why I am a Christian” just before her election victory. A pastor’s daughter, she grew up in atheist East Germany and maintained her belief despite the hostility of the state and her peers. “Since my youth I knew that I followed an inner compass through my commitment to God and his Church, one that was rejected by the [East German] state and the majority of the population. It was not always easy to stand by Christ. In contrast to most young people I went to Christian instruction and confirmation classes, rather than to the [state] ceremonies for youth.”
Only a few hundred thousand people have died in Iraq and Syria during the past fifteen years, but zeros could appear to the right of the death toll before long. Whether the migrant tidal wave arose spontaneously, or whether it was channeled by Turkey, is a secondary question. The Christian mind cannot absorb the horror of human suffering on an apocalyptic scale, and what we see now is tiny compared to what is likely to come next.
The Germans–the best Germans, like Chancellor Merkel–cannot absorb the horror of human suffering on the present scale, and what we see now is tiny compared to what is likely to come next.
The choices are between a near-apocalyptic level of horror, and a somewhat more limited horror. Whatever you can imagine, it will be worse. If the West invites the horror into its own home, though, it is unlikely to survive.
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Posted by JR at 1:35 AM