Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Great Conversation

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.

One of the things I love about the Internet is that I get instant, online feedback on everything I write, from people in the United States to Australia and India. Quite frequently, this brings me to reassess what I have initially written, either by adding new perspectives and ideas that I hadn’t thought of at first or by stating more clearly what I mean. This Great Conversation is why the most interesting debates are frequently found in the blogosphere today. I have received so many impulses through this process from so many different individuals that it is not just modesty if I say that many of my essays should be considered as group efforts, with me as editor rather than sole writer.

A Finnish academic from the University of Helsinki read my essay about 21st century Communism, and was rather critical of my ideas, which she labelled “an incredible mixture of ideological, political and scientific ignorance and misunderstanding.”

First of all: It is true that “21st century Communism” isn’t about Multiculturalism alone, nor is unlimited immigration the same as Multiculturalism. I didn’t explain that well enough, as I should have. I quoted columnist Marie Simonsen from the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet as saying that it should be considered a universal human right for all human beings to move wherever they want to. Dagbladet also supports radical feminism and quotas for women as well as ethnic minorities in public life, mass immigration, transnational legislation from organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations, human rights fundamentalism, state-sponsored indoctrination with said policies and suppression of free speech through hate speech laws for critics. I was implicitly referring to this whole “package deal” when I talked about neo-Communism. And yes, these ideas do frequently, though not always, come in the same package.

According to this academic from Finland, “People who advocate Multiculturalism hardly think that culture is unimportant. On the contrary, they find culture so important for each and every person that it is considered a human right to be able to maintain at least some of it, regardless of where one happens to live.”

This is an interesting question: Do Multiculturalists place a lot of emphasis on culture, or very little? On the surface, they seem to believe that culture is very important. But on the other hand, they tend to view cultures as equal and interchangeable, which means that they perceive it to be of little practical importance, with the very notable exception of Western culture, which is important to destroy. Why should it be viewed as desirable that each person should be able to maintain his culture if he moves to another country? If one believes, as I do, that some cultures are superior to others, one could argue that by settling in another country, you have indirectly admitted that this country has a superior culture and should thus be required to adjust yourself to this culture, i.e. to assimilate.

My critic also claims that “The target of the author’s criticism waves back and forth and lacks a precise target. If you cannot define your ‘enemy,’ your attack is bound to be confusing. (...) There are so many ideas about Multiculturalism, and the author treats them all as if they were one, without even referring to one coherent set of such ideas.”

It is true that if you cannot define your enemy, your criticism is bound to be vague. But this is part of my point: I, and numerous others with at least average intelligence, have spent a considerable amount of time trying to analyze the doctrines of Multiculturalism. We have found this to be quite challenging, precisely because it is vague, incoherent and doesn’t have any clear philosophical foundation. Multiculturalism seems to be a curious mix of older, Enlightenment ideas such as Rousseau’s “noble savage” and later Marxist ideas, among other things. There are those who claim that it was never supposed to be logically consistent and that we shouldn’t look for any cohesive, rational arguments behind it because there are none. What little can be discerned from its ideas is sometimes quite disturbing, with elements of anti-Western hatred, totalitarian impulses and Utopian ideas involving large-scale social engineering.
- - - - - - - - - -
But isn’t this alarming? Multiculturalism is now official state policy in many countries, together accounting for hundreds of millions of people. Isn’t it disturbing that millions of people are subject to a radical ideology that is almost impossible to comprehend, and thus to criticize? Many of its proponents seem to know that it cannot be rationally defended, which is why they simply shut critics down with charges of racism and shame them into silence whenever they sense some opposition. In fact, it is now more or less illegal in some countries to criticize it, although it could mean the most massive transformation of our countries in modern history.

According to this Finnish lady, “What you can do is try to come up with general values which are accepted as human rights in most cultural contexts and determine that these have to be adhered to by everyone in your country. All citizens do not need to have the same culture, although they do need to share some basic values, and of course we want these to remain those which have been typical for our country throughout history.” What one must do is to “start applying exactly the same standards/demands of respect for human rights” among immigrants as among the majority host population. We should allow immigrants the right to keep their culture “provided that they adhere to the central core of our values and follow the rules in our legal system.”

OK, but Muslims don’t do that. They don’t share our “core values” of freedom of speech to rationally criticize all religious creeds, as they have demonstrated on numerous occasions, from the Salman Rushdie case via the murder of Theo van Gogh to the Muhammad Cartoon Jihad in 2006. So what do we do when we are faced with cultures which specifically reject ideas about mutual tolerance?

French philosopher and cultural critic Alain Finkielkraut thinks that Europe has made human rights its new gospel. Has human rights fundamentalism approached the status of quasi-religion? Have we acquired a new class of scribes, who claim the exclusive right to interpret their Holy Texts in order to reveal Absolute Truth, and scream “blasphemy” at the few heretics who dare question their authority? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a great document, but it is written by humans, and may thus contain human flaws. We shouldn’t treat as if it were a revelation from God, carved into stone. Far less should we deem as infallible the veritable maze of regulations and well-meaning human rights resolutions that have rendered democratic nations virtually unable to defend themselves.

I am skeptical of basing the future of our societies on abstract principles such as “human rights” alone, partly because they can so easily be defined and redefined beyond recognition by aggressive activists and elites. I have already quoted a columnist who said that it should be considered a “human right” for all human beings to move wherever they want to. At what point does the number of immigrants become so large that it interferes with the “human right” of the native population to keep their culture?

This is not a theoretical question, it is happening in front of our eyes now in Western Europe, where native Europeans have to watch as their cultural traditions are dismantled and removed from the school curriculum under the pretext that we are now a “Multicultural society.” And, yes, this is a large-scale social experiment being conducted on hundreds of millions of people. At some point, the sheer number of immigrants will infringe on the right of the natives to retain their cultural traditions.

The only possible solution to this dilemma is, in my view, to say that the right of the native population in the country to maintain their culture takes precedence over that of immigrants to do the same thing. This means that immigration needs to be limited in numbers to assimilation levels and exclude individuals from totally incompatible cultures, such as the Islamic ones. If nations are not allowed to state that they want limited immigration or even no immigration at all, this amounts to what I called neo-Communism, in which you are not allowed to decide who should settle in your own home.

MulticultiMulticulturalism is primarily championed in Western nations. It is highly unlikely, to say the least, that a person from Finland, Canada or the Netherlands would want, much less be allowed to, move to Pakistan or Iran and expect to get state support for “keeping their culture,” but the reverse happens every single day. In the 21st century, many of the least economically successful cultures on earth are in the midst of the largest population boom in human history. If they should be allowed to continue to export, indefinitely, parts of their unsustainable population growth to other nations and those who move should be allowed to keep their culture, “human rights” de facto amount to the unilateral eradication of Western culture. And that’s precisely why the anti-Western Left support it. They can permanently destroy the West, and they can claim to do this in the name of “tolerance and diversity.”

When speaking about 21st century Communism, one also needs to consider what John Fonte has dubbed transnational progressivism, whose key concepts can be described as follows: Group rights over individual rights, where group proportionalism is the goal of “fairness,” where “democracy” means power sharing among ethnic groups and even non-citizens and where the values of important institutions must reflect the perspectives of “oppressed” groups.

According to Fonte, “Transnationalism is the next stage of multicultural ideology. Like multiculturalism, transnationalism is a concept that provides elites with both an empirical tool (a plausible analysis of what is) and an ideological framework (a vision of what should be). Transnational advocates argue that globalization requires some form of “global governance” because they believe that the nation-state and the idea of national citizenship are ill suited to deal with the global problems of the future. The same scholars who touted multiculturalism now herald the coming transnational age.”

The foundation for transnational progressivism is made up of a rising postnational intelligentsia (international law professors, NGO activists, UN bureaucrats, EU administrators, corporate executives, and politicians.) When social movements such as “transnationalism” and “global governance” are depicted as the result of social forces or the movement of history, a certain impersonal inevitability is implied, but Fonte warns that this is not inevitable, but “the result of the exercise of political will by elites.”


Ypp said...

The beast we are hunting at uses to change its faces. Hundred years ago they claimed they faught for freedom and prosperity for all. They brought tyranny and powerty. Later they tried to persuade that they fight for women and sexual minorities. Now women are being raped and sexual minorities are awaiting their turn. Same with cultures. They claim they appreciate all cultures, but in reality they promote the ideology which prohibits art and much more. Why don't you see that they decive us? Trying to justify their actions they always claim they are protecting someone. In reality, they don't care about protecting anyone. You call them communists - it is a good definition, though it is not exact, too, because they are permanently changing. Maybe, just call them "haters" or "enemies"?

Kleinverzet said...

I don't remember where I read this. The thought isn't mine, that's for sure:

It is not about Communism versus Capitalism, or Marxism versus oldschool Liberalism. It is much older then that. It's the age old fight between those that feel a deep-seated need to control and those that just want to be free.

If there is any better way to define the Left/Right divide I don't know what it is.

spackle said...

I have a theory (and believe me its just a theory) that the current sate of multiculturism is just the latest export from America. I am in no way saying it originated here ( I am an American) just that it was was more prevelant here in the begining. After we closed the gates to Europeans and opened the gates to the third world masses, the left grabbed on to failed assimilation and called it "multiculturism". European leftists not wanting to be "one upped" by those dammed Americans opened up and let the flow begin. Now it almost seems like a perverse competition as to who's culture can be destroyed first. All this for some pie in the sky utopian wet dream.

Ypp said...

You quote:
"transnational progressivism, whose key concepts can be described as follows: Group rights over individual rights"

However, the rights of immigrants can be viewed as individual rights versus group rights of native population. It seems that the individualism vs collectivism debate is not applicable here. And the same with reason vs belief and other antithesae - they don't work.

Birkebeinr said...

The ideas Dagbladet colports are like Belgian strawberrys - bright red and seducing but at best, tasteless.
To my astonishment I bought a copy today. Surprisingly there was an article that - did not make mockery of our national romantic songs. Stay on investigating those who will us evil, Fjordman. Congratulations with may seventeen. Skål!

Ypp said...

Individual has the individual right to belong to a group. However, the group has the right to reject this individual. Therefore, a voluntary group has both individual and collective rights.

On the contrary, forcing groups to accept individuals they don't want and prohibiting individuals to join a group is violation of both group and individual rights

Conservative Swede said...

I completely share your view here, Spackle. Except, that to me it is obvious that multiculturalism originated in America. America opened up to third world masses since the days that cotton cultivation started in the south. This anomaly has been part of the American situation since the beginning, and has remained unresolved since those days.

And again, in the '60s, when things turned really bad, all these ideas originated in (hippie) America and was then exported. Western Europe, having become completely Americanized at this point, absorbed the whole agenda, while trying to beat America in its own game.

It is easy to unwind history backwards to see how this all came from America. But the so-called conservative movement of America is all in denial about this. Which is why I consider them rather useless. Furthermore these American "conservatives" consider the traditional European national identity as inherently racist. Altogether this effectively puts them on the same side as the leftists.

ricpic said...

The thing that is so unnerving about the multicultarist is that he is without love for his own. How else explain the seeming obliviousness, the non-reaction, the willed blindness to an assault on his own culture (and, to be more honest, his own people)?
It is widespread, this phenomenon, multiculturalism. And incomprehensible to me. And this, its incomprehensibility, makes it chilling. How can so many be without love for their own? I don't understand.

Paardestaart said...

human rights fundamentalism approached the status of quasi-religion

Sounds about right if you ask me - it has become a religion, along with all the other ideas of which cultural marxism is made up..By not adhering to them you are not simply disagreeing with fallible theories - you are wrongheaded, totally despicable and deserve to be ostracized.
We therefore call it De Linkse Kerk in The Netherlands - the leftist church, and it's preachers decide who is in, and who is out.
Pim Fortuyn was out, and he wouldn't shut up, and so now he's dead. Hirsi Ali was out, and so she had to leave. Geert Wilders is out, and he's under police protection.

In that respect de linkse kerkis as bad as fundamentalist islam

gun-totin-wacko said...

"...although they do need to share some basic values"

And I wonder who she thinks should define those values...?

I wonder about the leftists. Several of the commenters here state (and I've done it myself) that these people are either completely ignorant or are actively trying to undermine our culture and our society.

But I read an article not long ago that casts that into doubt. Here's the link:

(Sorry, not sure how to just do a normal link here).

The relevant part is this: We (conservatives/libertarians) argue against multi-cultis and leftists, but perhaps the problem is that the two sides are arguing past each other. In other words, maybe we have different understandings of what is "good" and what is "bad".

to a multi-culti, it perhaps would be that they feel that Western Culture is trying to overpower and drown all others. To them, those cultures have a right to exist. However, perhaps these people feel that we are forcing our culture down the throats of people in say, Sudan, and thus the Sudanese should be allowed to hold onto their culture when they're here.

I know this is probably a bit... inelegant... especially for our friends who are not native-English speakers. I apologise, but I'm writing on the fly, and don't know how to put it better.

Finally, another basic point: Perhaps these people, instead of wishing to destroy the West; really truly *believe* the drivel they spout. Not all of them, of course- there are those that are unrestrained Marxists, Enviros, whatever. But perhaps some of them really think they are making a logical and fair argument for Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men. As one of my liberal friends puts it, these people really believe what they say.

I don't know what we can do about it. It doesn't seem possible to change the mind of a multi-culti. Perhaps it's just the cognitive dissonance BB has written about.

Jun said...

At what point does the number of immigrants become so large that it interferes with the “human right” of the native population to keep their culture...?

This means that immigration needs to be limited in numbers to assimilation levels and exclude individuals from totally incompatible cultures, such as the Islamic ones.

The problem is not merely a cultural or a social or even a political one -- the social and political arenas are "simply" how the problem plays out at the surface level. The problem is a biological one. Everything is biology and needs to be viewed as such (sociology, political science, etc., should really just be sub-disciplines of biology).

What we are seeing in the West today -- especially Europe -- is simply the (attempted) replacement (partial assimilation?) of one sub-population of a species (Homo sapiens) by another sub-population. Happens all the time -- North America being an exellecent case in point. North American Indians (Native Americans) were almost entirely replaced by other populations from around the world -- mainly Europeans.

Europe, being basically a very large peninsula, has been populated and re-populated over and over again from peoples settling in from elsewhere -- a lot the genetic influx has been from the direction of the Middle East. This is not surprising given that the Agricultural Revolution happened there followed by an explosion in population levels there -- people just needed somewhere to go. Still happening today. Just look at the population levels in that area of the world vs. Europe.

I'm not saying that the replacement of today's Europeans (and North Americans) is necessarily inevitable -- nor that those allowing this to happen shouldn't be held responsible. I just wanted to point out that one really needs to grasp the biology of it all in order to fully understand what the battle is actually all about.

CBDenver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CBDenver said...

Multiculturalists think culture is skin deep, but it is not. One writer descibes culture as "the unconscious frameworks of
meaning, values, norms and hidden assumptions that we use to interpret our experiences."

You can't put people together whose unconscious frameworks for interpreting their experiences vastly differ and not expect conflict. Some advocates of multiculturalism blithely ignore this. Others don't care. In that sense they are like the communists of the past who wanted change but didn't care about the toll in human suffering that would result from their grand schemes.

Paul Weston said...

The physical manifestations of multiculturalism may well have started in the US (although we Brits were pretty quick on the uptake) but credit should really be given to the engine house of Western subversion - Moscow.

Profitsbeard said...

The "trappings" of "cultures" are immaterial (clothes, music, etc.).

This is where the "multicultists" make their fundamental mistake.

They see the costumes and the food and the songs and they mistake that for the "culture".

The more important part of the meaning of "culture" is the belief system.

Do they support human liberty, or not?

Being distracted by the surface details, the argument frivles away into a naive defense of "those poor people", without grasping what those people BELIEVE.

I don't care what you look like, or eat, or dance to, or wear (except burqas, for security's sake), but if your "culture" demands that humans submit to theocratic terror, then your "culture" needs to be contained. And not allowed to spread its anti-human liberty dogma.

The fight is between those who want to enslave and those who want to liberate.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/17/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

PGP said...

So what's wrong with a democratic nation setting the standards for those who wish to immigrate?

The argument that this is somehow an abridgement of human rights is no better than the argument that all cultures are equal.
A culture can and should be judged by it's accomplishments in terms of how it has improved the condition of the human race.
In those terms would you care to argue that the various cultures of the African continent measure up in any way to the European and North American?
If an immigrant to any nation cannot find a way to integrate their own beliefs and way of life harmoniously with the domestic cultural landscape then they cannot be accommodated in that society!

If that immigrant's group chooses to attempt to enforce their way of life then they are would be invaders and conquerers.

Since this is what we see evolving in Europe and elsewhere, exactly what is the problem with stating the fact plainly!

Since when is it inappropriate to speak the truth?

Nex said...

The whole Multiculturalism concept and fact was flourishing in Canada way before it was even spoken of much in the US. Back in the early Trudeau government of the early 70's Multiculturalism was touted by the media - especially the CBC - and Liberal supporters as being the 'Canadian Way' while Pluralism was sneered-at as being the 'American Way', those sneers heavily implying that those 'dumb 'Americans' could never appreciate another culture even if it hit them in the head. On main street those arguing against (or even just questioning) the feasability of a Multicultural society were usually met with derision and scorn. Bumpkins all. It was not a time of open and frank debate. Nex

pst314 said...

Old joke:
Q: What is a multicultural faculty?
A: A Mexican marxist, a Nicaraguan marxist, a Canadian marxist, a Chinese marxist, an Egyptian marxist....

Gringo_Malo said...

Jun's point about one variety of humans replacing another is interesting. What he doesn't mention is that, historically, the variety losing territory has fought like hell against the invading variety. American Indians did not go to the reserations quietly, as the multiculturalists expect us to do.

Steve Sailer defines a race as an extended family. Our desire to preserve our own genes accounts for our tendency to favor members of own race, whose members carry many copies of those genes. If that's true, then multiculturalists must carry some highly disadvantageous mutant gene. Perhaps there's no point in arguing with them. Perhaps the best that we can do is to shoot them before they destroy us.

spackle said...

"Furthermore these American "conservatives" consider the traditional European national identity as inherently racist. Altogether this effectively puts them on the same side as the leftists."

I would ascribe this attitude to most conservative politicians and Christian conservative fundamentalists. But most conservatives I know see "traditional European national identity" as something positive. After peeking at your blog and your ensuing argument with "Marcfran" I could see where the waters were poisoned. He is indeed as bad as the leftists. I also think you have a valid point about multiculturism dating back to the founding of America.

Conservative Swede said...

Spackle: "But most conservatives I know see "traditional European national identity" as something positive."

Probably they would so superficially. But go beyond the surface and you will see they don't. I saw Brit Hume on Fox News in 2005 having a French "expert" commenting upon the riots of the "youths". The French guy mentioned that the these Muslims will not be seen as "real Frenchmen" by the ethnic French. To which Brit Hume spontaneously reacted: "But that is racist!". A very enlighting moment about the American view of traditional European national identity. Or this by Peggy Noonan:

"..[T]he essence of American patriotism is a felt and spoken love for and fidelity to the ideas and ideals our country represents and was invented to advance-- freedom, equality, pluralism. "We hold these truths..." The word Homeland suggests another kind of patriotism--a vaguely European sort. "We have the best Alps, the most elegant language; we make the best cheese, had the bravest generals." It summons images of men in spiked helmets lobbing pitchers of beer at outsiders during Oktoberfest.

When you say you love America, you're not saying our mud is better than the other guy's mud."

Here is an article by Lawrence Auster that should be of your liking: Mass Immigration And Its Effects on Our Culture: Why Are the Mainstream Conservatives Silent?

It describes the development, as you described so succinctly yourself: "After we closed the gates to Europeans and opened the gates to the third world masses, the left grabbed on to failed assimilation and called it "multiculturism"."

Vanishing American said...

Great essay by Fjordman, as always.
I am not so ready to blame America for 'multiculturalism'; it was not a word or a concept that was widely known until after the 1965 Immigration Act, and the 'counterculture' revolution of the 60s, in which everything exotic was valued above everything American.
And I think Conservative Swede is mistaken; there was not massive third-world immigration to America until after the 1965 Immigration Act; non-European immigration had been greatly limited previously.

As far as whether American conservatives value 'traditional European identity', true conservatives would; unfortunately the PC 'conservatives' who populate the mainstream media, such as Peggy Noonan and Brit Hume, are not typical of the average heartland American. Noonan is sentimental about immigrants because her grandparents were Irish immigrants, a fact she mentions frequently.
There are not many in the media who reflect the views of actual conservative Americans; only out in the heartland or in the areas least touched by liberalism will you find the traditional ideas still intact.

Conservative Swede said...

Vanishing American,

The third world masses in America, that I talked about, since the days of cotton plantations, are the considerable black population in the US. I'm sure I'm not mistaken about their presence. You can try to pretend they are not there, but their presence in America has had an enormous impact on American self-image and cultural politics.

And there you find the very seed for both political correctness and multiculturalism. Among Americans being über-sensitive about race and ethnicity, due to the stark anomaly that the substantial black minority meant throughout American history.

We think of political correctness as a post-WWII phenomenon, but in America it's more deeply rooted. When Agatha Christie published Ten Little Niggers in 1939, it was immediately renamed And Then There Were None when released in the US in 1940. Such neurotic silliness didn't exist anywhere in Europe at that time. It's a completely homegrown American phenomenon. And it took several decades of American indoctrination before this über-sensitive politically correct "translation" of the title was adapted in Great Britain (1967), Sweden (2007).

Multiculturalism springs from the Civil Rights movement, which as a spin-off lead to the Immigration Act of 1965. So quite as political correctness it's a homegrown American invention, which also springs from this anomaly (the descendants of the black slaves) integral to American history and identity.

Finally, the way to deny that Brit Hume and Peggy Noonan are typical American conservatives, shows that you are in denial in the way I described in my first entry. Some mythical heartland American is made into the the actual conservative. Someone that is never seen on TV, and never appear on the Internet.

Anyway, it doesn't take long with such a mythical heartland "actual" conservative, before he displays the typical American fear of European nationalism. Europe is supposed to stay put. A strong expression of European nationalism is seen as fascism, bad old monarchies, or Marxism. I have found that in the mind of the typical American these three things blend together and become one--the bad and incomprehensible evil of Europe. This illustrates how deeply emotional this fear is. We can trace it back to the fact of America being a former colony.

Conservative and American are like oil and water, they do not easily mix. America is a propositional nation, and it has proposed political correctness and multiculturalism around the West, along with fear of European nationalism. The way the so-called right-wing in America is in complete denial about this, shows us that they are in fact on the wrong side of this issue.

Cindi said...

America is not a propositional nation; I beg to differ.

We most certainly do indeed have a particular people, a particular culture and our particular and unique land - to wit, our mud. These are concrete things, not ideas, although we do have our ideals. This was the basis of the founding of our country. It is/was a certain land, populated by and for a certain people, with a Constitution instituted for us, right here, not the entire world.

Part of the problem with the current generation of 'conservatives' is that they are right-liberals. They believe America is a proposition, an idea, its main principle a striving for non-discrimination, tolerance and equality for all, this principle being a universalism exportable to all.

This political correctness disease, this infection of left-liberalism may have come out of America, out of the West, but it is not OF the West.

When the Founding Fathers wrote '..all men are created equal', the postulate was 'under God'. Do you believe they intended to compare the civilizations of white Europeans to the African cannibals?

Conservative Swede said...


Your stance is great. But saying what you do doesn't make it so. You should take your argument to your fellow countrymen, not to me. As you described yourself: "Part of the problem with the current generation of 'conservatives' is that they are right-liberals." I'd say it's all of the problem, and not only for this generation, but for the next one too. There is no right-wing in America.

Do you believe they intended to compare the civilizations of white Europeans to the African cannibals?

George Bush thinks so. And so does all the upcoming presidential candidates. What I think, is immaterial. I'm just describing what I see.

And btw, our mud is better than yours :-)

Conservative Swede said...

This political correctness disease, this infection of left-liberalism may have come out of America, out of the West, but it is not OF the West.

The disease is caused by (unfettered) Christian ethics. It came from the Near East.