Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Now, What If…?

Denmark is an unusual place.

Take, for example, the newspaper Politiken. It is The New York Times of Denmark, a repository of the conventional wisdom, the place to look for a reliably politically correct opinion on anything and everything.

But not always. Recently there have been cracks in the liberal monolith that is Politiken. The feature article translated below is unusual, and rings out as a voice of sanity in the politically correct wilderness.

Our Danish correspondent TB volunteered to translate the article, and has this to say about it:

Something has definitely changed among the people in charge of this paper. A year ago you would never have seen an article like that in Politiken. Actually the most insane editor in Denmark, Thøger Seidenfaden, walked out on all of us last time there was a meeting of Trykkefrihedsselskabet [the Press Freedom Society], the one in support of Lars Vilks, telling everybody in the room that they were a bunch of misusers of freedom of speech. He was especially targeting Flemming Rose, Vilks, and the creators of the Mohammed cartoons. It was hilarious…

Maybe they have now seen the signs…? One can only hope.

And now for the article itself.

Politiken.dk

Now, What If…?

Now, what if our ideals destroy our sense of reality and lead us down the wrong path? What if Bush is really a great president?

By Mogens Rukov

What if Bush…? What if Islam…? Think, what if the intelligentsia…? What if multicultural…? Think, what if Arafat…? What if my a.. was…? What if you could go on forever?


Now, what if there existed the equivalent of contrafactual history writing? What if there were the equivalent of hypothesizing what the world would be like out if history hadn’t turned out the way it did?

What if Hitler had won the war? What if the Iron Curtain had never been imposed on Europe? What if the incandescent light bulb had never been invented?

What if the mind could entertain these kinds of questions, which are counterfactual to the conventional wisdom.

What if some are more concrete, others more fluid. But what if all of them now work for the sake of clarifying reality, of the facts, of the sum of what we know about reality. What if we can open up a perspectives on an alternative world of thought to the one we already agree about?

What if many of them lead us directly into paradise or hell? What if they individually put history on a knife’s edge, where it balances and where it could have fallen out differently than it did?

Contrafactual questions shake the way we, by habit, react to the course of history. They are part of history’s teaching.

Aren’t there also questions which can shake up our thinking, so that it doesn’t become habitual thinking?

What if you could ask contra-conceptual questions instead of contra-factual?

To think new thoughts one often has to change concepts. Such a change of concept lies in the contra-conceptual.

Concepts are our prisons, our direction, and our freedom. They are our dreams and our nightmares.

Contra-conceptual questions do not have to be wise, or logical, or rational. Actually, they have to be the opposite. They have to be stupid, unthinkable, to the verge of ignorance.

What if Bush was a great president?

Is that unthinkable? Reagan was called a fool too, an actor, parvenu. Nor could he read — as Bush is said not to be able to — Reagan didn’t have any experience in foreign policy, should never have been in The White House. All these kinds of things they said, our foreign policy experts, many of our politicians, the intelligentsia, the intellectuals, the writers.

Now he is called a great president. By the same people, or among the same people who have little interest in what happens around them.

In those days you where taken as a big idiot if you said anything else except that Reagan was a big idiot. People laughed at you if you didn’t laugh at Reagan. But the experts say that it was Reagan’s policy that ended the Cold War, that it was his stubbornness that won it.

The man who didn’t know anything about politics, the ridiculous fool who could not read, the actor, won the biggest political fight in modern time, after forty years of cold war.

Do you have to be illiterate to become a great politician? Do you have to be a Western politician not to understand a thing?
- - - - - - - - -
What if the Iraq war is a real war?

The Korean war was stupid. The Vietnam war was insane, all the good people said as much in those days. But both wars stopped communist aggression. Both served in part to hasten the fall of communism.

What if the war in Iraq will lead to a new balance in the Arab world, if it is a probe thrust into the Muslim sea?

What if it is only a temporary fiasco, what if it becomes a success? What if it made Libya give up its weapon of mass destruction program in December of 2003 as a reaction to the war in Iraq, or if it is true, made Iran to halt its development of nuclear weapons in 2003, also for that very reason. Is that not enough to call the war in Iraq a good war?

What if there is no such thing as a legitimate war, as some opponents of the Iraq war claim because they see the war in Iraq as illegitimate.

What if legitimate war is only a concept which has been invented by some bureaucrats as a concept that allows them to make wars that are just as insane as any other war but which they would not be able to do without the juridical term “legitimate war”, partly because they don’t have the power, partly because there is no reason to do it?

What if “legitimate war” leads us into the most insane wars because some insane states in the UN vote for it?

What if UN with all their perception and legitimacy are leading the world into Armageddon, if it becomes an instrument for powerless madness.

What if the fight against Islam is the big European war right now?

What if it is the new Thirty Years War that replaces the old one prior to the peace of Westphalia, which is now defines Europe?

The European establishment, the European debate , treats Islam as if it was only a religion.

Think — what if Islam is only a religion if seen from the perspective of the individual Muslim?

What if Islam is already at war from within the mosque and further up in the hierarchy. And think — what if it actually already is at war from the viewpoint of the individual Muslim believer.

What if the order in the Quran about killing or dominating the infidel (non-Muslim) is part of the doctrine that the individual Muslim recognize?

What if the Muslim terrorists are only the storm troops in the war, those who commit the commando raids in the broader fight?

What if the only way the war can be won for Christian Europe is by prohibiting Islam and sending all Muslims back to Islamic countries? What inhumane conduct does the war not impose on us?

What if all European countries develop Muslim no-go zones as already exist in Great Britain?

What if the Bishop of Rochester is right, and the problem is the political establishment, as the chairman of the Muslim Forum, Manzoor Moghal, has replied: “No matter how much his (the Bishop’s) opponents are rumbling against his accusations, the fact is that the determination with which some of my Muslim kinsmen stick to a specific lifestyle, specific habits, language and way of living has led to create neighborhoods where non-Muslims would feel uneasy, and might even get attacked.”

What if the rising violence in our streets is actually making no-go time zones? Will the politicians still talk about freedom of religion, about tolerance towards different ways of thinking, when they speak of Islamophobia?

What if any generation of Muslim immigrants in reality functions as occupying troops?

What if the positive results of multiculturalism do not exist. What if the brotherhood, mutual understanding, deeply felt empathy, and cross-fertilization are only part of the mental activity of some members of the intelligentsia?

What if multiculturalism dissolves society?

What if the big survey of multiculti societies by Robert Putnam — who has studied 41 multicultural areas in the US — is right? What if it is true that diversity not only reduces the so-called social capital between different ethnic groups but also inside the groups themselves?

What if multiculture not only dissolves society, but destroys it.

What if the problem of multiculture is not the ethnic conflicts or the difficult race relations, but the fact — as the survey shows — that confidence in society, and “the others” in society, is lower. What if — as was reported — altruism, which the distribution of burdens in the welfare society is built upon, is reduced.

What if such a simple thing as friendships between likeminded men and women is not as frequent in a multiculti society. “In plain speech, people who live under ethnic diversity ‘keep their head down’, hide like a turtle”.

What if many Muslims throughout their childhood have been raised to show more solidarity towards the Quran than towards the country where they were brought up?

What if it is a fact that “the terror threat does not come from marginalized citizens with a pure Danish or Dutch background, it comes solely from citizens with Muslim background,” as Ayaan Hirsi Ali says?

What if that is what we have seen in the last few years?

What if the divide in opinion surrounding the Mohammed Cartoons was a consequence of this diversity. What if the violence in Nørrebro and the violence in general is a consequence of this?

What if the tough debates are coming from this? If the tone in the debate is not a consequence of anybody’s cynicism, but a consequence of the destruction of our society?

What if the knife-stabbers understand more about multiculturalism than the guys behind “Images of The Middle East”?

What if a festival with title “Images of The West” could win the curiosity of the intelligentsia?

What if those writers — good writers of fiction — who warned against the sharpening of the tone and the exclusion of the Muslims especially by that tone, by supporting the multicultural development themselves actually bring the sharpened tone into society accompanied by the use of sharp knives?

These “Now, what if…” questions are aiming at exactly these kinds of circumstances. On the absurd reverses of events, reality’s grotesque play between surface and foundation.

What if now the fulfillment of intentions tends to produce the opposite of what was intended?

What if we are on the verge of a world war?

Consider whether such a war is as all other wars: the solution to conflicts that politics cannot cope with.

What if the politicians had taken care of the conflicts without war, and with the consent of the populace. Which social development is prevented by the intelligentsia, DR, Politiken and Information [PC Danish media outlets]?

What if it’s true that war solves insoluble conflicts, but that negotiations do not.

What if it is violence and negotiations together that solve the conflicts? First violence, then negotiations.

What if those who speak of peace actually generate wars.

What if the biggest threat to peace is to focus on peace, while focusing on war preserves the peace?

What if those people who speak of peace (with Islam) only promote our defeat, and the victory of Islam?

What if paradoxical preparations for war are exactly preparations for peace?

What if immigration is actually occupation?

What if the Muslim immigration into Christian Europe constitutes an army of occupiers, even if the individual Muslim does not want to be a soldier in that army, but just wants to be a respected settler.

What if the Jewish settlers on the West Bank are nothing but immigrants?

What if the world’s problems with these Jewish settlers are the same as our problems with integration?

Now, what if the Palestinians have developed a strategy that makes them the gangsters of the world?

What if the Palestinians suffer due to our massive aid to the Palestinian areas ($6 billion over three years), where the help up until now has only turned the whole population into social clients, while their leaders have ruled with corruption and lawlessness — just like a bunch of mafia bosses?

What if the Israeli attacks into Gaza should be the model for Århus in dealing with Gellerupparken [Muslim ghetto outside Denmark’s second largest city]?

What if Arafat was a mafia boss of the magnitude of Saddam? What indicates otherwise?

And what if there actually were no Palestinian problem, but that a Palestinian problem has been created by the Arab side going all the way back to the 1920s, and that it is inspired by the Nazis’ anti-Semitism?

What if there still exists only an Islamic/Jewish problem? And that what we see around Israel is of the same character as what is about to happen in Europe: The Muslims everywhere invent their “legitimate” rights.

Now, what if.

What if Europe is a huge West Bank? If neighborhoods such as Gellerupparken and Mjolnerparken are only Arab settlements in Denmark.

What if Israel’s military strength — as weakened as it may be by now — is its only possibility of survival in an Arab world, and that it is now equally necessary for the military to be raised in European countries and turned against other usurpers?

Now, what if we have a common foe, Islam?

What if Huntington is right about the clash of civilizations, and that is what we see in the Arab-European space; as opposed Fukuyama’s end of history, “the point in human ideological evolution and the universalization of the liberal democracy of the West as the final form of governance”; as with any other fascist development, in this also the religious foundation must stand up against it and fight.

What if sharia should replace Roman Law? Have we no rights? Shall tolerance make room for Allah and Mohammed?

Shall experiments and innovation be succeeded by a literal reading of primitive scriptures?

Now, what if the control whose intended imposition on the public, instead of enhancing efficiency of public affairs, drains it of energy?

Is it not what we see in connection with aid to the elderly, help in the home, in the hospitals, and in the schools?

What if our habits have destroyed our foresight?

What if our ideals destroy our realities? What if our ideals actually mislead us instead of showing us the right way?

What if tolerance, for example, is not a universal notion but only valid under circumstances which have disappeared — even though we thought that it was universal?

Now, what if our language has thereby been emptied?

Now, what if our language only has meaning in the most banal circumstances, and no longer serves to express actual careful thought?

What if fiction is now the proper form for a clarifying documentary realism?

20 comments:

Chalons said...

An excellent, thought provoking article. It's encouraging that it came out of Denmark.

To put the issues of the day in the form of questions is a brilliant technique for challenging the indoctrinated. The resulting cognitive dissonance isn't always pretty, however.

Frank Hilliard said...

A wonderful column. I'm going to suggest it to the editors at the National Post.

Pastorius said...

The questions heard round the world.

Athos said...

It sounds as though light is inbreaking for the Danes, if this is any indication, Baron. And I say bravo and high time.

The Average Joe said...

What if this article was copied and subversive types (like yours truly) left it in laundromats, restaurants and on buses? What if it became Europe's "Common Sense"? What if Europe finally realized that multiculturalism is fat load of feel-good rubbish propped up by Western economic and military might? What if Europe, or even one or two formerly independent nations, got up on their hind legs and proclaimed (in the immortal words of Popeye): "That's all I can stands 'cause I can't stands no more!"?

What if the American Left, who regard European multiculturalism as the gold standard of political correctness, was suddenly confronted with a Europe that chooses survival over ideological purity?

What if the West, at long last, woke up to the fact that its backside is in a serious crack and that it will take a monumental amount of nasty and unpleasant work to dislodge it?

There truly is no end to these "what if?"s. But every one raises hope.

P.S. Baron, I tried to post this earlier but it seems to have disappeared.

Paul Green said...

"What if the order in the Quran about killing or dominating the infidel (non-Muslim) is part of the doctrine that the individual Muslim recognizes?"

What if Stephen Coughlin's thesis is correct in virtually every particular? Read it and judge for yourself.

OMMAG said...

Talk is Cheap! Results count!
Regan GOT results.
End of story.

Zonka said...

Denmark certainly is an unusual place, and full of surprises... I had to search high and wide to see if Thøger Seidenfaden had died, had fallen ill or just been disposed from being chief editor of Politiken, and came up with nada... So the only explanation I can come up with on how the piece got into Politiken instead of Jyllands-Posten is that the article got sent to the wrong office (Politiken & Jyllands-Posten forms a joint operation, though with distinct editorial lines and staff)...

Having said that Thøger must be out of his mind trying to figure out how the heck he can salvage this being printed in his multi-cultural propaganda outlet, Politiken... Or perhaps even he is becoming tired of fighting against the popular trend, as the number of sold issues of Politiken dwindles.

However, I'm not surprised to see this from Mogens Rukow, the leader of the Manuscript line at the Film Academy, as it is yet another thought provoking article that we have come to expect from him.

Now one can wonder why "The Danes" continue to do things like this and doesn't fall into line with the rest of the European countries and just embrace the multi-cultural wet dream, well a new study from Aalborg University shows that Danes have a very negative view on multiculturalism. A team of researchers made the study combining 33,000 answers from people in 27 countries and Denmark came in last as the country that were least positive towards multi-culturalism, and one of the conclusions of the study were that Danes were very emotionally attached to their nation-state. So this is one of the reasons for the "uniqueness" of the Danes.

Another encouraging sign is that one of the ideologists at Venstre (main party in the ruling government coalition) states in his blog: I don't want to hear anymore about integration. Save me from it - the right word must be assimilation. There are plenty of cultures, people can travel somewhere else to enjoy, if that is what they want...

Laine said...

What if there really are some principled liberals who wake up from their p.c. slumber to see with the scales fallen from their eyes what a disgusting lot they've fallen in with?

Conservatives alert to the real threat to civilization, Islamofascists, have been accused by both right and left of allowing "contamination" by some miniscule impotent far right remnant. Meanwhile,liberals have been shamelessly dirty dancing up close and personal with the crowd that still applauds the 100 million dead from communism as "a good start". Leftist liberal devils don't occupy mildewed basements like their far right counterparts, but the highest echelons of universities and public education as well as mass media in the West.

What if liberals figure out that both the leftist enablers and the people bringing us sharia, obsessive worship of a god who loves war and rewards followers with eternal sex, repression of women, clitorectomy, polygamy, dishonor killings, death penalty for homosexuality, ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims are a threat to everything they hold dear?

Truly, Europe is long overdue for an awakening that their Enlightenment is in peril.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

To toot my own horn, about seven years ago I started writing a book set in a not-too-distant future, though I never got past planning the first half. :) At the time my big concern was purely the EU and the way it was taking our societies apart, and the history preceding the setting of the story was a run-down of events that lead to the union's split and a new european war. The tooting of my own horn comes because, for whatever reason, I figured that Denmark would plan an important role. The immediate pre-cursor of the war was Denmark's secession from the EU after too may of their customs were threatened by immigration and EU diktats. The EU followed up by invading and forcefully re-integrating denmark into the union as a group of autonomous regions, which provoked secessionist movements in the other scandanavian members, parts of germany and the UK.

Toot toot. :) It's probably just coincidence, someone has to come up with these ideas, but it's a nice bit of synchronicity.

There is a very powerful divide in Europe between north and south, latin and german, common law - the assumption of legality unless legislated against - and roman law - the assumption of illegality unless legislatively allowed (I suspect my terms are wrong here, but they'll have to do until I'm corrected).

This north south divide has played a great role in the history of Europe. Even Hither (that name again?) believed that people north of this line were his "natural allies", though he assumed it was simply race that made them so, and was very surprised when we didn't side with him. It was culture, and his rejection of that culture made him the enemy.

Though England is an odd outlier in european terms, culturally I feel much closer to Denmark and Sweden than to France, even though the British government has been effectively a frankish bureaucracy for the best part of a millennium. The French just can't do beer... and according to the wife, most Scandinavians don't see themselves as "european" and tend to think of Europe as across the sea. Even Denmark, I'd imagine, thinks of Europe the continent as something "over there" rather than something they're inextricably linked to.

The point of all this ramble is that, whatever the governments of these nations might be saying, the actual people are ultimately not going to slink away in silence. The people and their government are two different things, especially when it comes to common-law based countries. The EU will fracture, and it'll be along that north-south divide, between the latin and the german.

thll said...

Somebody's got to be the first to ask any question - does the honour fall to the most perceptive or the most put-upon?

I find it very interesting that an establishment mouthpiece (which is what all establishment news/comment outlets are) should voice these concerns in such a clear and unambiguous manner. Given the power of the internet there's obviously a demand on the media to go some way to reflecting the reality of the situation - either that or lose credibility - but there must also be an element in this article of it reflecting the opinion/concerns of its author.

Now that shows real progress.

Andy said...

I counted 95 "What ifs" in his article - the same number as Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses on the Power of Indulgences.

That's appropriate if it's intentional. Luther's Theses reformed a medieval religion, and we should certainly stop indulging Islam's power trips!

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

To be self-indulgently petty for a moment: lets not forget that Martin Luthur was an anti-semite and that we shouldn't even be associating with people who are accused of anti-semetism without evidence, let alone self-confessed jew haters. It's wrong you know. Evil. Makes us no better than them. Nazis one and all.

Hmm. Sarcasm is a terrible thing. I shouldn't do it. I think I'll give it up for the remainder of lent.

Also, I seem to have misspelled "hitler" in my previous post. What a terrible shame.

Sodra Djavul said...

I stumbled across this in the Times Online of all places:

Have your loudspeakers. But not here

I remain skeptical, of course. But reading through the comments I see some rational thought peeking through.

- Sodra

ZZMike said...

Graham Dawson wrote: "... about seven years ago I started writing a book set in a not-too-distant future, though I never got past planning the first half. :)"

Just the other day I came across a book (one of a trilogy) set in a future (~2040 or so):

Robert Ferrigno

"... a nuclear terrorist onslaught in 2015 on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Mecca that has all the earmarks of a Mossad operation. The blue states are moved by these horrors to convert to Islam, while the red states break away from the Islamic Republic, forming a Christian republic in the South..."

Consul-At-Arms said...

Great article, thanks for making it available/accessible.

I've linked back to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/02/re-now-what-if.html

Mad Fiddler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mad Fiddler said...

Please tell me --- Anyone! ---

What would be even a single "Earmark" of a Mossad Operation?
How are we supposed to tell the difference between a Real Islamic Terrorist Act, and one fabricated by Israel to SEEM like an Islamic Terrorist act?

It's interesting that there are so many people who seem to think that Israel is ready at any moment to get a nuclear onslaught going between the US and the Islamic world.

Ah, Well. There is the matter of the 1967 Israeli attack on the United States Navy Ship Liberty...

I guess at many levels we need to resign ourselves to impenetrable ambiguities, and the realization that even between allies there are occasions of lethal dispute.

Recall the British Naval shelling of the French squadron in the Algerian bases at Mers-el-Kébir and Oran, days after the capitulation of the French government to the Nazis in 1940. The British were reluctant to fire on their former allies, but they were unwilling to let seaworthy French battleships transfer to the service of the Nazis. They signaled to the French a surrender demand; the French refused; the British blew them to hell, killing almost 1300 French crew.

Jonathan Levy said...

And that what we see around Israel is of the same character as what is about to happen in Europe: The Muslims everywhere invent their “legitimate” rights.

I imagine that this is what it must have been like to hear the words of the prophets of old - not so much predicting the future, as speaking plain truths which we've all agreed to ignore.


Mad Fiddler:

There are two requirements which will positively distinguish a Mossad terror attack from an Arab terror attack:
1) That there be no evidence at all that it was carried out by the Mossad (including any interest in doing so, or any history of doing so).
2) That it be observed by someone predisposed to blame the Jews for anything bad which happens.

As for the comparison between the Liberty incident and the French Navy incident, there is a substantial difference:
The British action was a direct implementation of British policy - that nothing imperil its command of the seas. The Israeli action was contrary to the policy of the Israeli government - not to go to war without the backing of a Superpower - and can be safely classified as a case of mistaken identity.

The British case is a good example of a lethal dispute between allies. The Liberty case is an unfortunate example of friendly fire.

jonrgrover said...

'Now, what if there existed the equivalent of contrafactual history writing? What if there were the equivalent of hypothesizing what the world would be like out if history hadn’t turned out the way it did?'

This would be a good application area for Artificial Creativity (Computational Creativity). My blog www.acblog.net is focused on a project I am working on to address this very problem. Among others.