Thursday, May 31, 2007

Steen’s Salon


In the late nineteenth century Amelia Gere Mason wrote a book entitled The Women of the French Salons. In it she describes the heyday — which lasted for about two hundred years, through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — of the French intellectual salons.

In her chapter on the L’Hôtel de Rambouillet, Ms. Mason gives an account of Mme. de Rambouillet, whose salon was prominent in the middle of the seventeenth century. Among Mme. de Rambouillet’s guests were Cardinal Richelieu, Balzac, and some of the founders of L’Académie française.

Those were the halcyon days of French culture, when France was the intellectual center of the world. During those times French ideas were concocted, debated, and exported throughout the civilized world from the salons of Paris.

Concerning L’Hôtel de Rambouillet, Ms. Mason writes:

L’Hôtel de RambouilletThe Salon Bleu has become historic. This “sanctuary of the Temple of Athene,” as it was called in the stilted language of the day, has been illuminated for us by the rank, beauty, and talent of the Augustan age of France. We are more or less familiar with even the minute details of the spacious room, whose long windows, looking across the little garden towards the Tuileries, let in a flood of golden sunlight. We picture to ourselves its draperies of blue and gold, its curious cabinets, its choice works of art, its Venetian lamps, and its crystal vases always filled with flowers that scatter the perfume of spring.

It was here that Mme. de Rambouillet held her court for nearly thirty years, her salon reaching the height of its power under Richelieu, and practically closing with the Fronde.

Being an intellectual of a gregarious bent, I’ve always longed for an environment like that of the French salons. Or, looking towards a more recent model, imagine being at the Algonquin Roundtable with James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and all the other literary luminaries of New York in the 1920s! One would have to put up with the petty jealousies, the infighting, the backbiting and the intrigues — but surely it would be worth it.

Although I have associated with intellectuals of various stripes all my adult life, I have never encountered anything like the highly concentrated erudite companionship that my mind conjured up and pined for — until I went to Copenhagen, that is.

Steen’s salon

Twenty-first century Denmark is less mannered, and not not nearly so effete as Paris in the 1600s. The Danes are laid back and informal in their social habits, and prone to a loud conviviality involving ample supplies of beer. But the gatherings in Steen’s flat included the heaviest concentration of intellectual firepower that I have ever experienced, even including my college years.

Steen keeps a blog called Snaphanen, and posts in both Danish and Swedish, and occasionally in English. He is enamored of Sweden, and he started his blog because the recent descent of Sweden into Multicultural Fascism has been almost more than he can bear.

Steen occupies a pivot-point of intellectual life in Denmark and South Sweden, and all the cultural currents of Scandinavia flow close by his doorstep.
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Like Mme. de Rambouillet’s salon, Steen’s apartment has spacious rooms and long windows, but there the resemblance to its French counterpart comes to an end. The French salons were hosted by women, not men. Rather than a languid philosophe, Steen is an old-school Bohemian, a former hippie who collects paintings, sculpture, books, and bric-a-brac. A bicycle is parked in the corner of his sitting room, next to a window that overlooks a street just outside the city walls of Old Copenhagen.

During my time at Steen’s the salon members were a group of Norwegians, British, Danes, and one American, and we sat on comfortable furniture amidst the ubiquitous Danish candles. Through a thick fug of cigarette smoke we talked politics, history, philosophy, science, anthropology, linguistics, and military affairs well into the wee hours every night I was there.

Intellectually speaking, I was totally outclassed by the Vikings. Only in etymology could I stand my ground — in every other field it was game, set, and match to the Danes. Yet I couldn’t have been happier.

The conversation was mostly in English — possibly out of deference to me and the Brits, or maybe because Norwegians and Danes understand one another better in English than in either of their own languages.

La dame du salonBut the Danes don’t just speak English out of utility, nor is it used as a sort of Nordic pidgin. They are fluent in it, they study its literature, and they enjoy Anglo-Saxon recreational reading. Steen’s bookshelves were lined with volumes in English in addition to those in Danish, Swedish, and German.

I had assumed that these Viking omnisavants were the product of a superior university system, but Henrik (of Viking Observer) disabused me of the notion.

“Nobody goes to university to learn anything,” he said.

It seems that even in Denmark universities are places where mediocrities undergo indoctrination in order to become part of the nomenklatura. The politically correct pandemic has infected higher education throughout the West, eliminating nearly all opportunity for advanced learning in an institutional setting.

But learning still goes on, and the company I kept in Copenhagen was ample proof of it. Not all of Steen’s salon members were geezers like me; quite a few of them were young people. Somehow they have educated themselves and resisted the cant of the zeitgeist, despite the best efforts of the PC cultural environment to brainwash them. It gives me great hope for our future.

Our discussions naturally centered around the Counterjihad and the Muslim immigration crisis in Europe. We approached it from many angles — political, historical, anthropological, religious, etc. I’ve covered some of the material in earlier essays, and will be mining my recollections for future posts.

I am reassured to have found men and women of such caliber in Scandinavia. To quote Ms. Mason again:

It is the man living upon the level of his time, and finding his inspiration in the world of events, who reflects its life, marks its currents, and registers its changes. Matthew Arnold has aptly said that “the qualities of genius are less transferable than the qualities of intelligence, less can be immediately learned and appropriated from their product; they are less direct and stringent intellectual agencies, though they may be more beautiful and divine.” It was this quality of intelligence that eminently characterized the literature of the seventeenth century. It was a mirror of social conditions, or their natural outcome. The spirit of its social life penetrated its thought, colored its language, and molded its forms… It would be unfair to say that anything so complex as the growth of a new literature was wholly due to any single influence, but the intellectual drift of the time seems to have found its impulse in the salons. They were the alembics in which thought was fused and crystallized. They were the schools in which the French mind cultivated its extraordinary clearness and flexibility.

Extraordinary clearness and flexibility were much in evidence in Copenhagen last month.

La précieuseSteen’s salon is without the fops and précieuses, is devoid of pretense, and lacks the elaborate protocol prevalent in seventeenth-century France. There is no outward resemblance between the two locales.

Yet the ferment of new ideas is bubbling in the Danish alembic.

The Danes are leading the West in their approach to the Counterjihad. The creative solutions to our problems are not being hatched in New York or Paris or London.

But you can’t really say that the Danes are planning what they do. They are simply acting on what emerges from an intelligent consensus and feels right, what accords with tradition and common sense. Political liberty, freedom of speech, the rule of law, and a common culture are all being vigorously defended there.

Especially at Steen’s place.

Attention You Lucky Californians

Roger Simon just sent out the following information about an upcoming conference:

On June 10, 2007 The American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles is sponsoring "The Collapse of Europe Conference" at Pepperdine University in Malibu. It will feature Mark Steyn, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, James Q. Wilson and Douglas Murray, among many others.

The conference organizer, Avi Davis, has asked us to alert our bloggers to this unique conference and to consider linking to it or commenting on it on their blogs.

Here is their program information.

Please feel free to email the conference organizer Avi Davis (310) 254 5355 for further information.

If you go to the conference and want to share your notes and photos, we’d be most grateful. Or, as one of my children used to say when he wanted something, “I’ll be your friend.”

[Nothing follows.]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

“Terror in the Skies”: One Woman's Persistence

Annie JacobsenToday the Washington Times released the full report they promised on May 27th regarding the “dry run” Annie Jacobsen wrote about several years ago in both her columns and in her book, “Terror in the Skies”.

I waited until now to post on this because I wanted to see the full Homeland Security report which the Times obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The first time they tried to get it, all but two lines had been blacked out. Now most of it is contained in a pdf suppied by the Times.

Long-time Gates readers will remember that Ms. Jacobsen was called a hysterical woman by a number of otherwise astute bloggers; authorities refused to follow up on her disturbing information and she was pretty much considered unreliable and paranoid — just to use two terms that were floating around at the time.

I wonder how many of these people are bothering to say “mea culpa” now that Ms. Jacobsen’s paranoia has proved to be reality?

From today’s Washington Time’s report:

A newly released inspector general report backs eyewitness accounts of suspicious behavior by 13 Middle Eastern men on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2004 and reveals several missteps by government officials, including failure to file an incident report until a month after the matter became public.

According to the Homeland Security report, the “suspicious passengers,” 12 Syrians and their Lebanese-born promoter, were traveling on Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on expired visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the visas one week after the June 29, 2004, incident.

The report also says that a background check in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, which was performed June 18 as part of a visa-extension application, produced “positive hits” for past criminal records or suspicious behavior for eight of the 12 Syrians, who were traveling in the U.S. as a musical group.

In addition, the band’s promoter was listed in a separate FBI database on case investigations for acting suspiciously aboard a flight months earlier. He was detained a third time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul, the details of which were redacted.

The inspector general criticized the Homeland Security officials for not reporting the incident to the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), which serves as the nation’s nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management.

The report comes three years after the incident, which was not officially acknowledged until a month later, after The Washington Times reported passenger and marshal complaints that the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack. After reviewing the report, air marshals say it confirms their earlier suspicions.

Official denial

An air marshal who told The Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.

Read the second page of this news article here. It’s very detailed and shows well the extent to which federal bureaucrats were willing to dissemble and to put us at risk in a disgusting CYA business-as-usual.

Back in September, 2005, when I reviewed Ms. Jacobsen’s book, I titled it with a quote from one of the federal air marshals who was willing to talk to her. He called her from a pay phone to say that the whole business of federal air marshals and the aggravation you’re made to go through by the TSA when you fly is “all for show.” I wrote then:

According to Annie Jacobsen, we’d better do our homework on this one because there is no one watching out for us. Back in April, Gates of Vienna posted on Ms. Jacobsen’s tenacity and her willingness to follow this story wherever it led. That post, “Silence of the Sheep,” proved that the author is a sheepdog indeed. Her interviews with other passengers, with government agencies, with the House Judiciary Committee, with airline personnel, and with individual people who bear the day-to-day hazard of working in this field, have made her case. The tale of her experiences is documented well in “Terror in the Skies.”

This is a top-down problem. The guys in harm’s way — the pilots and flight attendants — know the problems but they have no more power to address them than you do. Less than two percent of pilots are armed. Want to know why? Because in order to actually carry a firearm on board, the firearms training must be done on the pilot’s own time and it has to be done in a place far from home, squeezed into his holiday time or vacation.

And flight attendants? Again, they have to arrange self-defense training on their own time, at their own expense and without the cooperation of the airlines themselves. Think of it this way: what if Brink’s hired drivers and gave them no training in handling attempted robberies? What if they expected their employees to get training — if any — on their own time and their own dime? How long do you think Brink’s would be in business?
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That’s the situation we have in the friendly skies of America. When you add to that the cruel joke of the Federal Air Marshals, the lackadaisical behavior of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the farce we all know as the Department of Homeland Insecurity, it’s enough to make you want to stay home and do your business by long-distance and email.

That was then. And now? Well now we have, from the Department of Homeland Security, the recently freed document titled The Review of the Department’s Handling of Suspicious Passengers Aboard Northwest Flight 327 This time it has been released with far fewer blackouts, thanks to the diligence of the Washington Times. Now we actually get to read the admissions of their ineptitude…and by implication, how unsafe flying commercial aircraft remains. Somehow this is not a comfort.

What is a comfort, though, is how much one person can accomplish in the teeth of vitriol, ridicule, bureaucratic stonewalling, and attempts to smear her reputation as a reporter. She’s another example of the fact that WE’RE ON OUR OWN, but she’s also an example of the fact that this can be enough.

See Hot Air for the video of hero Annie Jacobsen as she discusses her experience. And you can also view the vapors coming from the government representative.

Also read Jacobsen’s accounts in her series that ran in Women’s Wall Street. These columns formed the basis for her book. They bring back reminders of how reviled she was for reporting what she saw and the impact it had on her and her family.

Look at that Big Nose! That Huge Bag of Money!

It’s been obvious for a number of years that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, and indeed throughout the entire Western world. The MSM would have you believe that Jew-hatred is confined to the neo-Nazis, the palaeocons, and of course the slack-jawed gap-toothed mouth-breathing cracker bumpkin KKK members that populate the bucolic and benighted heartland of America between Burbank and Passaic.

But the ugly secret is that the engine of anti-Semitism in the 21st century is being driven by the anti-globalist, anarchist, politically correct Left. Consider this headline in today’s Tundra Tabloids:

Finland’s Leading Paper Compares Jewish Parliamentarian to Shylock The Jew

That won’t surprise anyone who has been reading blogs for the last few years. But here are the details:

Matti RossiAnother Finnish newspaper publishes an article that degrades a Jewish parliamentarian.

The Helsingin Sanomat’s [the New York Times of Finland] cultural editor, Hannu Mattila published Matti Rossi’s oily/smarmy “tongue in cheek” response to Finnish parliamentarian Ben Zyskowicz outrage over Rossi being awarded a cash prize by the Finnish government for his lifetime work in translating Shakespeare’s classics into Finnish…

The reason for Zyskowicz’s outrage over the Finnish state’s awarding of Matti Rossi with the prize was for Rossi’s role as a snitch for the Hungarian communist government back in 75’. Matti Rossi had informed on a Hungarian writer for speaking against communism during a visit to Finland, in which he compared communism to fascism.

Communism and Fascism? How could he? Day and night! Oil and water! Coke and Pepsi! No resemblance whatsoever. None.

But how does that get us to Shylock?
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It doesn’t end there. The editor for the Helsingin Sanomat’s culture section, Hannu Mattila, wrote a short screed in the comment section included with the article over Zyskowicz’s initial outrage, in which he down-played the whole affair.

“Zyskowicz’s fussing was for no other reason than to squeal, with the sole purpose to orchestrate a state curse for Finland’s best Shakespearian translator who has been quietly raked over the coals for 32 years. Red fascism’s demise is almost two decades old, now he dares to show his teeth. Really brave.”

The guy knows how to sneer, doesn’t he?

It doesn’t end there. Not only is the culture editor unsatisfied with that small pot shot at Ben Zyskowicz, he lends his culture section to the Finnish snitch/translator to let off another salvo at the justifiably upset parliamentarian. This time I won’t bother translating the full text, but in a tongue in cheek op-ed, he likens Zyskowicz to the Shakespearean character Shylock the Jew. Ben Zyskowicz happens to be Jewish himself, making the comparison undeniable.

“In the short op-ed, Matti Rossi was clearly making fun of Ben Zyskowicz, and characterized him in a way that mirrored the story of the merchant of Venice, a Shakespearean play.”

So Mikko Ellilä isn’t the only racist in Finland, eh? Do you think the Finnish police are going to want to have a little chat with Matti Rossi? Do you want to lay a sawbuck on that?

Totally irresponsible for the paper to print it, and as I said before about other examples of anti-Semitism in the Finnish media, it’s becoming a kind of trend here in Finland.

It’s not just in Finland. It’s everywhere. The nasty business is out in the open in Istanbul and Cairo, where Mein Kampf and the Protocols are best-sellers. But a somewhat more covert Jew-hatred is on the march wherever the élite meet to sneer.

It’s a smelly little orthodoxy for our time.

A New Kind of Democrat?

I ran across a link to this blog at Pajamas Media’s Richard Miniter interview with a man he calls “the possible missing link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.” The comments are as interesting as the interview itself; among them was a link to a blog I’d not seen before: Regime of Terror. This blog has a most interesting post on Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA 10), dating from December:

What does Congressman-elect Chris Carney (D-Pennsylvania) know about Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?

Rep. Christopher P. Carney It turns out that Carney was a Senior Terrorism and Intelligence Advisor at the Pentagon and is considered to be knowledgeable about Saddam’s links to al Qaeda. He’s also in the Navy Reserves.

The eventual outcome of his knowledge and experience? In the opinion of Regime of Terror:

His views on the subject are a stark contrast to many in his party, particularly Senator Carl Levin, who has long expressed his belief that any link between Saddam Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda was a manufacture of the Bush administration. Carney’s comments and experience on the issue may even put him in the cross-hairs of Sen. Levin’s reported investigation into the matter in the coming months. What did Congressman Carney say? What does he know?
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I suggest a good long look at Regime of Terror. Follow the links in this particular post, as it’s obvious the information Congressman Carney details for us has been out there and has been discussed every whichway, and in detail.

Here is the main index page, with a listing of previous posts. Juicy stuff.

Meanwhile, it would appear that Representative Carney is an anachronism. He seems to be a return to the old-style Democrat - you know, the ones your father voted for.

“...Fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the confederate expedition”

Cato sent this dispatch from the past.

He says:

PericlesI ran across an interesting speech by Pericles to the Athenian Assembly (according to Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian war) which includes the quote below.

I wouldn’t take this too far as a parallel with today’s circumstances; after all, the Athenians lost, and they did some really stupid and sometimes criminal things (like the expedition to Sicily and various massacres).

If Pericles hadn’t died of the plague, they would have lynched him. Nonetheless, the quote seems apposite:

“I know that the spirit which inspires men while they are being persuaded to make war is not always retained in action; that as circumstances change, resolutions change. Yet I see that now as before the same, almost literally the same, counsel is demanded of me; and I put it to those of you who are allowing yourselves to be persuaded, to support the national resolves even in the case of reverses, or to forfeit all credit for their wisdom in the event of success. For sometimes the course of things is as arbitrary as the plans of man; indeed this is why we usually blame chance for whatever does not happen as we expected.”


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Youth Bulges, Violence, and the Fifth Village: “The Game is Over for Europe”

UPDATE: This translation contains errors. Lars Hedegaard has since made a revised translation. See our newer post, “A Continent of Losers”.

Below is a translation of an interview by Lars Hedegaard of the German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn, from the May issue of the online magazine Sappho. The article was translated from the Danish by Zonka, who deserves our thanks for undertaking such a Herculean task.

Dr. Heinsohn elaborates on a theme that Mark Steyn has made familiar: the impending demographic collapse of the West, particularly Europe, and the accompanying threat from a surplus of angry young Muslim males.

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Interview: Tabernes kontinent

While the European populations are shrinking, and the best-qualified young people are leaving, we continue to allow mass-immigration of unqualified Muslims, who will soon make our welfare society collapse. Add to this the fact that the Muslim world has built up a surplus of youths, which according to experience will lead to mass-murder, and the effect cannot be helped by foreign aid. The originator of these bleak predictions is the German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn, who believes that the game is over for Europe.

By Lars Hedegaard

Gunnar HeinsohnBREMEN: If the leaders of the American-led “Coalition of the Willing”, had known Gunnar Heinsohn’s research, they most likely never would have left their troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. They would probably quickly abandon any thought of intervention in Sudan’s Darfur province. They would tell the Palestinian 10-children-families that the West no longer will pay for their unrestricted childbirth. Western opinion-makers and politicians would also abandon their pet theory that virtually any act of violence in a belt from Northern Africa to the Philippines in addition to miscellaneous acts of terror all over the world are caused by the unsolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And worst of all seen from the prevalent political consensus in Denmark and the rest of the West: Heinsohn does not believe, even for a second, that economic aid and hunger relief in countries plagued by large youth populations can prevent wars, social unrest, terror or killings. On the contrary he is convinced that the material aid in some cases can start the killings. This is because starving people do not fight, they just suffer. However, if you give a lot of young men enough to eat and a certain education, in a society where there are too many young men so that not all can get the recognition and position that they feel entitled to, it can lead to violence.

About this the 63-year-old professor of sociology at the University of Bremen, in 2003 wrote in his sensational and quite politically incorrect book Söhne und Weltmacht: Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen [Sons and World Domination: Terror in the Rise and Fall of Nations]. The book became widely known and talked about, after the prominent German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk characterized the work as being as groundbreaking as Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Sloterdijk thought that the book could pave the way for a new realism with in the field, one that could be called “Demographic Materialism”.

Heinsohn is not concerned about the absolute size of populations, rather the share of teenagers and young men. If this share becomes too big compared to the total population, we’re facing a youth bulge. The problem starts when the individual family puts three, four, or more sons into the world. Then they start fighting for access to the positions in society that give power and prestige. Then you have a lot of boys and young men running around filled with aggression and uncontrollable hormones. Then we get the killings, until sufficiently many have been killed and their number matches society’s ability to provide positions for them.

According to Heinsohn, 80% of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble can take many forms — a violent increase in domestic crime, coup d’état attempts, revolutions, riots, and civil wars. Occasionally the young commit genocide to assure themselves of the positions that belonged to those they killed. Finally, there is war to conquer new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with one’s own.

But, as Heinsohn emphasizes again and again, the unrest and the violent acts that the youth bulge causes have nothing to do with famine or unemployment. In his book he described it in this way: The dynamic in a youth bulge — it cannot be emphasized too often — is not caused by the lack of food. A younger brother, who as a stable hand for the firstborn son can be well-fed and perhaps even fat, does not seek food, but position, one that can guarantee him recognition, influence and dignity. Not underweight, but rather potential losers or the déclassé are pushing forward. (p. 21)

Unfortunately, the Western world in recent years is facing a gigantic youth bulge in large parts of the Muslim world. This bulge is created by a Muslim population explosion. In just five generations (1900-2000) the population in the Muslim countries has grown from 150 million to 1200 million — an increase of 800%. As a comparison the population of China has grown from 400 million to 1200 million (300%). The population of India has risen from 250 million to 1000 million (400%).

Sappho has visited Gunnar Heinsohn at his office at the University of Bremen, where he was awarded a lifelong professorship, to ask him to elaborate on his sensational views.

Youth Bulge and Violence

What is the definition of a youth bulge?

“There is no ordinarily accepted definition. The Frenchman who first used the notion in 1970 said that a youth bulge existed when 30% of the men in a population were between 20 to 24. I changed it to 30% between 15 and 29. This means that if you take 100 males from a country, then 30 of them will be between 15 and 29.

“But remember that this 30% group of young men will not pose any danger if they are hungry or without education. To be dangerous they must be in good physical and mental shape.”

Heinsohn emphasises that there are lots of wars and killings in history that don’t spring from a youth bulge. The Hitler movement and the Mussolini movement in the 1920s can be explained as youth bulge experiences. The early Nazis and Fascists had an average age a bit below 30. The Bolshevik movement in the period around the 1917 Revolution can be described in the same way. But by the time Hitler started WWII many German families were down to only one son. So Hitler’s attack in 1939 wasn’t a youth bulge phenomenon. Neither was the Holocaust. The killing of the Jews wasn’t caused by the young German men wanting to take their positions, even though there are theories that claim so.

Neither do the killings started by the later Marxist-Leninist regimes — that may have killed 100 million people — have anything to do with youth bulges. The Bolshevik revolution in 1917 was driven by millions and millions of farmers’ sons without land — that was a youth bulge; however Stalin’s gulag doesn’t fall into this category.

What about Mao’s killings in China?

“Again, in the 1930s Mao’s movement was carried by a youth bulge, but when he took power in 1949, and started his great purges by killing landowners, the youth bulge was already over.”

So the predominant ideology of the West, namely that we can fight war and violence by fighting hunger and create jobs in the third world, is wrong?

“Every year five German peace-research institutes publish an annual report, and every year it has the following conclusion: If we win the struggle against hunger, we have defeated war. On the contrary — the youth bulge research shows that if you’re successful in eliminating immediate material poverty and hunger in a country with a youth bulge, violence starts to escalate.

“In Europe we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, and in all the newspapers we could read that this treaty ended war in Europe. This is absolutely wrong. If the Germans after 1945 had procreated as they did between 1900 and 1914, then we would have had a German nation with almost 500 million citizens, and we would have had about 80 million German men between 15 and 29. In reality we have 7 million. And then we can ask ourselves if these 80 million would have been as peaceful as the present 7 million, or if they instead would have been bombing Breslau or Danzig.”

Demographic Capitulation
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“This brings me to something that I call ‘Demographic Capitulation’. It has a very simple definition: Take all the men aged 40-44 and compare them to the boys aged 0-4. Demographic capitulation is when you have 100 males aged 40-44 compared to less than 80 0-4 boys. In Germany the number is 100/50, in the Gaza-strip it is 100/464. I have compared some numbers for you, and these show that Denmark is on the verge of Demographic Capitulation. Your numbers are 100/80.”

Heinsohn’s statistical overview shows that if Denmark had procreated at the same rate as in the Gaza Strip (from 240,000 to 1.4 million from 1950 to 2006), then we wouldn’t have had a population of 5.5 million (compared to 4.3 million in 1950), but 25 million, thus more than New Zealand and Australia combined. In that case the median age of Danes would be 15 (in reality it is 39), and there would be 3.6 million men in battle-ready age (15-29), while the real number is only 470,000. (Median age must not be confused with average age. The median age of 15 means that there are as many people below 15 as there are above 15).

Compared to countries which, like Germany and Japan, have capitulated, are countries that are characterized by “Demographic Rearmament”. Apart from Gaza there are amongst others the three Muslim countries Afghanistan (100/403), Iraq (100/351) and Somalia (100/364). It is thus not random that they are marked by widespread and extreme acts of violence, and will be for several more years into the future. This also holds for Gaza and the Palestinian people in general.

So you don’t believe that the so-called “Peace Process” between Israel and the Palestinians is realistic?

“No, and the main reason is the big mistake that was made in Oslo in 1991, when the secret negotiations between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin started. The error was that nobody took any notice of the Palestinian population explosion. The Palestinian population has grown almost 6 times as large within the last 50 years. We should have done two things: Israel should have stopped their settlements, and the world community should have said to the Palestinian people: Every child in Palestine will be fed by the world community as before, because by accepting that every Palestinian child is a refugee, the world community have a responsibility for the number of children born. But from January 1st 1992 you will have to pay for your own children, just as a woman does in Lebanon, in Tunisia, and in Algeria. That’s what they should have told the Palestinians. Why am I mentioning these three countries? Because in those societies a women has fewer than two children on the average. Had we done that 15 years ago, we would have seen a generation of young Palestinian men with few reasons to commit violence against each other or against the Jews. But we didn’t, and therefore I do not believe in the peace process, even if Hamas should decide to sign everything. Their youth will tear such agreements apart.”

Heinsohn points out that it is the USA and EU, and particularly the Scandinavian countries, that pay for the enormous child production of the Palestinian people. We must cease this support, so that the Palestinians pay for the children they bring into the world after a certain point in time.

Why can’t the Palestinians just work like everybody else and earn their own keep?

“Palestine is a special matter. They never had any chance to develop, because they have always been on international support.”

Poverty and Religion

From your book one gets the notion that youth bulges creates poverty, while we in the West have seen the relation in the opposite way and seen youth bulges as a result of poverty?

“If a youth bulge changes a state to a failed state, then one will see a breakdown of the market and the production, and it will lead to poverty. If we look at a case in which we now see an escalation of violence — Pakistan and Bangladesh — we can see that they both have a steady increase in the average income per citizen — and even a significant growth. Thus we have created the primary conditions for making the young men both well-fed and well-educated, which leads to them becoming unruly. If these young men successfully destroy the infrastructure of the country, it will result in poverty. I have followed this process closely in the West African state Cote d’Ivoire. Here they had a system with seven children for every woman, and at the same time the average income grew. When the killings started to rise, so did the average income.”

How do you explain the fact that the Muslim Middle-East was deeply underdeveloped, before there was any sign of a youth bulge, even before the Europeans — who get the blame for most things — had set foot in the Middle-East? Isn’t it necessary to add religion to the explanation?

“Let’s look at the small countries in Europe that were capable of conquering and colonising large parts of the world after around 1500, starting with Portugal and Spain. Our explanation is usually that there was a pressure on resources because of overpopulation. The opposite was the case. When Spain started their conquests in 1493 with Columbus’ second expedition, Spain had a population of six million, but in 1350 it had nine million citizens. Spain wasn’t overpopulated. On the contrary there was a sudden a growth in childbirths, because pope Innocent VIII in 1484 had decreed that birth-control was punishable by death, which caused an immediate explosion in births. In the Middle Ages the average number of children per family was 2-3; now it was suddenly 6-7. That caused the median age in the population of six million to be 15, while it in the nine-million population in 1350 had been 28-30. So there wasn’t a lack of land or food. However, there was a sudden scarcity of positions. Earlier one had raised one or two boys in the family. One could take over the farm and one could start a new one. Now they had three boys who had food, but no positions, and these boys started the conquests and the colonising. The Spaniards call these secundones, the “secondaries”.

“Where does the religion enter the picture? These young men — 95% of them — were normal, good boys and saw it as a sin to kill or mistreat the conquered populations in the colonies. They knew the difference between themselves and a psychopath or a common murderer. So when they went into action, they had religion to tell them that they weren’t murderers, but people who with an honest heart killed infidels, sinners and unjust people. One executed orders from a higher power, since one wouldn’t want to be seen as disobedient.

“Thus I don’t call these conquerors and colonisers — Spaniards, Englishmen and Danes — Christian, but Christianists. The same distinction as with a Muslim and an Islamist. These young Spaniards weren’t Christian, but Christianists, who needed this ideology to justify their terrible killings.”

New Religions arise in no time

Heinsohn is also hesitant in ascribing a core cause to which one can later refer acts and patterns of actions. As an example he mentions the movement of 1968, which he belonged to when young.

“When the time comes, then new religious pamphlets and books will be written on the spot and in no time. One manipulates one’s religion in such a way that one takes from ones holy books — The Qur’an, The Bible, The Communist Manifesto — the sentences that fit with one’s purpose. One knows that one is going to use violence, but wants a justification. Because one is a just man. But when the youth bulge is spent, these books that were distributed in millions of copies will not even be sold in second hand shops. Everybody knows that they are full of rubbish. But while the movement is on the move, these young men are impervious to arguments. So the false ideas do not arise from holy scripture. The young originate them themselves. Because they need the wrong ideas to justify their actions. Thus one cannot stop them by explaining that their ideas are wrong. Thus it is not the wrong ideas that create the movement, it is the movement that creates the wrong ideas. Islam doesn’t create Islamism, the young Muslims do.”

According to Heinsohn’s calculations there will be approx. 300 million young Muslim men in 2020, but not all of them will be angry. A growing number of Muslim nations — Algeria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iran, Turkey, and the rich Emirates — have all fallen under the replacement production limit. Iran now has a fertility rate of 1.7. That is the same as in Denmark, but less than France. These countries still have a youth surplus from earlier, but in a few years they will no longer have a surplus that makes them pose any danger.

Thus he doesn’t believe that the Iranian masses will put the whole region into flames. This scenario is a projection of the situation immediately before the Islamic revolution in 1979 and during the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980 to 1988, where Iran could send hundred of thousands of boys out into the minefields. These teenagers no longer exist.

A class of losers

Wouldn’t it be a solution to bring the superfluous sons to Europe?

“What happens in Europe is that all the nations — there are no exceptions — are ageing nations which do not fully reproduce themselves. Thus they are entering into a process where they eat each other’s talent. Why aren’t they looking for the talent in Africa, where the population has grown from 100 million in 1900 to an estimated 2 billion in 2050? Why not in Islam, where we have a similar population explosion? Why is America looking for talent in Germany, why is Denmark looking for Polish people? Because the Third World countries don’t have the educational level that is needed in the developed countries, which can only maintain their position through innovation. For that purpose they need young people who have grown up in a high-tech society. It is not because Africans or Muslims aren’t as intelligent as others, they just aren’t socialized in a way that makes them useful in our societies.”

In Demark we now have a number of highly-educated immigrants, and their descendents, from Muslim countries — doctors, lawyers, etc. But many are not as interested in our society as the large number of uneducated. Are they just as extreme and Islamistic as others?

“I will leave the evaluation of Danish conditions to the Danes; however we have the same phenomenon in England. There we have a population within the population, namely the Pakistanis, who have the highest birthrate in the country, and who are most dependent on social system. In Western countries we have a social system which is hardly being used by the local population. In contrast to this we have in immigrant population whose women cannot compete in the local workforce. For them the social benefits that are too low for Danish and German women are particularly attractive. So what we see in England, France, Germany and the Netherlands are immigrant women who take some low-paid jobs, which they supplement with public benefits. It is not a fantastic income, but sufficient for them. And they are creating a career type, which is for women only, and which their daughters continue.

“But the sons don’t have these possibilities. They grow up on the bottom of society, and don’t have the intellectual skills they need to improve their social position. It is these boys that burn Paris, that burn parts of Bremen. Some of them make it to university, and become leaders of the others — not poor, but young men with low status, who believe that they are suppressed because of their Islamic faith, but in reality it is the welfare-state itself that has created this class of losers.

“If, on the other hand, one goes to Canada, where I have lived part of each year for the last 20 years, they have a completely different policy. They say: Our immigration policy has a simple base. Every newborn Canadian and every new Canadian who comes from abroad, has to be more intelligent than those who were here before. Because only through innovation can we keep our position in world competition. Therefore I want my son to be smarter than me. And believe it or not: Of 100 adult Canadian immigrants, 98 have work skills higher than the Canadian average. In Germany and France the corresponding number is 10%. So we went for quantity, and they went for quality.

“And why? In Germany because everybody was afraid of being called racists, and it looks like all European nations suffer from the same fear of making choices.”

The Fifth Village

Might some of it also be explained by the left-wing importing their voter corps?

“In France we have seen that Africans and Algerians have voted for Ségolène Royal. Add to that another phenomenon that we can watch in Germany, among other places. Here we have those whom we now have begun to call “ethno-Germans”, which comprise 85% of the German population, starting to emigrate. Annually about 150,000 Germans emigrate, most of them to the Anglo-Saxon world. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are ready to receive 1.5 million well-educated immigrants yearly, and they are doing everything to ease the way for them.

“It is not strange that young, hard-working people in France and Germany choose to emigrate. It is not just that they have to support their own ageing population. If we take 100 20-year-olds, then the 70 Frenchmen and Germans also have to support 30 immigrants their own age and their offspring. This creates dejection in the local population, particularly in France, Germany, and the Netherlands. So they emigrate.

“Europe just finalized their immigration principles in January 2007. And they are quite different from the Canadian ones. Our first criterion for letting people into the EU is whether the person has been victim of discrimination. Next principle: If the person already has family in EU, then he has privileged access. Third principle: People who are already illegally in Europe should be legalized. And finally, only as principle number four do we have the Anglo-Saxon principle that the immigrant should fit into our workforce.

“The purpose is to make Europe look stronger than the Anglo-Saxons, when its about ‘soft force’.

“I view the future very pessimistically. Europe’s situation reminds of the principle that is called ‘The Fifth Village’ in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg. They have experienced a thinning of the population, so four villages are being abandoned and the remaining population is moved to the fifth village; however, that doesn’t increase the population growth in the fifth village. And after some time the fifth village as well is populated by old people, and there are no young people in the vicinity to work for their pensions.

“The same will happen to the approximately 40 nations between Brittany and Vladivostok. Some of them will become Fifth Villages and will have a new lease, others will just implode. I predict that all the Slavic nations will implode. Same thing with the three Baltic states and all of the Balkan states. The question is whether Germany and France will become Fifth Villages. I see Scandinavia as a Fifth Village. The same thing with the Iberian Peninsula. The same with Ireland and England. But I’m not sure the rest of the Continent will make it.”

The Young Are Leaving

But will we even deal with nations in the future? If Europe gets a Muslim majority, it isn’t certain that Danes, Germans, Frenchmen, etc. will bow to Sharia. Could the result be that the indigenous population withdraws to their own enclaves, from which they will try to defend themselves, as we have seen in Bosnia?

“That is of course a possibility, but one must ask oneself, who is it that will stay and fight? It is possible, that I would, because I am more or less forced to stay here. But if I was a young 18-year-old ethnic German, done with high school, then I would do like most others are already doing. I would want to study in the Anglo-Saxon world, and then I would emigrate. I wouldn’t want to stay and fight. The Anglo-Saxon world needs 50 million well qualified immigrants within the next 30-40 years, so well qualified young people from Western Europe will have every incentive to go there instead of staying and fighting.

“A possibility is to aim for Chinese immigration. If we in Germany had the same number of Chinese immigrants as they have in Canada, we would have had 3 million. But immigration from China has not even been considered in Europe.

“China is the fastest-ageing nation in the world after Germany, Japan and South Korea. We usually view China as a sleeping giant. I on the other hand see China as a source, from where the Western nations can skim the best. And they will get them. Currently, rich Chinese are preoccupied with moving their riches to Switzerland, because with the few children being born in China, people in their 40s have no chance of ever getting a pension. China is down to a fertility rate of 1.6 children per woman. Already today China loses 500,000 of their best. The young see no hope of ever being able to build a pension plan in their home country. Therefore they settle in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, etc.

“In East Germany they have just decided to demolish an additional 400,000 apartments. There are no people for them, and the empty apartments ruin the banks by pressing the rents and the housing costs upwards. Also in West-Germany we are losing population. We have to stop taking the least-adapted immigrants. To attract young and competent people, we could give them a house. That was the way Brandenburg secured the French Huguenots in the 17th century. But I doubt it will work today.”

Demographic Rearmament?

Would it be possible to imagine that Europeans might suddenly start to procreate more as a moral obligation to maintain the people and the culture? It was what happened after the British had conquered the French Quebec. Then the priests pressed to get the families to put up to 15 children into the world, and this demographic effort was successful.

Gunnar Heinsohn, doesn’t give much of a chance to such a strategy. It would require draconian measures, which the Europeans wouldn’t accept. Promises of money don’t work, except on those with a little education and status — which just makes the situation worse.

“If you look at the Polish people,” says Heinsohn — who was born in 1943 in the city now known as Gdansk, but which he still calls Danzig, a son of a German submarine captain who lost his life near Newfoundland five months before his son was born — “here is a nation with proud traditions. Poland saved Europe from the Mongols, the Turks and the Bolsheviks and ended up bringing down Communism. And yet their birthrate is lower than the Germans. They are down to 1.2 children per woman. In addition they have already in the last 15 years lost 2 million of their best people. Perhaps they tell their parents that they’re coming back, but they won’t. That’s why I’m saying that countries such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania are doomed. They have no attraction for immigrants. The same thing is happening with Russia. Who wants to move to Russia? And look at the newest members of the EU, Bulgaria and Romania. Romania is the first country in the world where there are more retirees than active workers, and we gave them access. The same with Bulgaria, which has the fastest-dwindling population. The young are moving out, and with a clean conscience, because they believe that tomorrow Brussels will pay for their parents. So the EU has accepted 27 million people, who wanted to get inside to secure their pension. And in the European center they are still overjoyed to have gotten millions more than the USA. That will make us strong, they believe.

“So I see few possibilities. Though as I mention in my book the example of California, which experienced a turn-around around 1990, which meant that even the white population — excluding the Latinos who have a much higher birthrate — went from 1.3 to 1.8 child per woman. It is not full reproduction, but anyway a significant improvement. It was a huge surprise, because California is the world’s most advanced region. In the end of the 1980s the prognosis was for continued falling birthrates, but in the beginning of the 1990s new studies found that the women no longer were satisfied with just working, and shortly afterwards the birthrates went up.

“In Europe it was dismissed with the explanation that Americans are so conservative, but that’s not true in California, which in many ways has been the pioneer of the West. However, I cannot see a similar change in Europe. Of course France has 2 children per woman, but out of five newborns, two are already Arabic or African. In Germany it is already true that 35% of all newborns come from a non-German background, and non-Germans commit 90% of violent crimes. As I’ve said — mothers get money to put children in the world, the daughters do the same, while the men lean towards crime.

“Or take the Tunisian example. A woman in Tunisia has 1.7 children. In France she may have six, because the French government pays her for it. Naturally, it is not the intention that money should flow to the Tunisian women, but French women won’t touch this money, while the Tunisian wants to.”

Then we need to discriminate?

“That won’t work. It’s too late. In the moment you start, you will be dragged into each and every international court in existence. This is what the Anglo-Saxon world has escaped by discriminating at the border. Not based on race or ethnicity, but based on qualifications. They are discriminating against the unqualified. Yet they are friendly towards them, when rejecting them. When a person has been rejected in Ottawa or Canberra, they are being advised by the friendly authority to go to Germany. Because they have a different system there.”

The end of the welfare state

How do you see the political situation in Europe in twenty years? Is the welfare state gone, is democracy gone?

“Concerning the European continent apart from Scandinavia, Ireland and England, I believe that the even the pessimistic population prognoses will turn out to be too optimistic. They assume that the young people will stay in Europe and bring up their own children, but it won’t turn out that way. A study in Germany from 2005 showed that 52% of the Germans between 18 and 32 wanted to leave. They might not mean it but they’re entertaining the thought. The really qualified are leaving. The only ones who are truly loyal towards France and Germany are those who are living off the welfare system. Because there is no other place in the world that offers to pay for them. America, Canada and Australia count on receiving our best-qualified youth, and they will get many of them. That will put an end to innovation and put a damper on economical growth in Europe. In Germany this is already so that we miss billions upon billions in revenue because we lack qualified people to take on the jobs. On one hand we have two million positions that we cannot fill, on the other a welfare-dependent population of six million, and there is no exchange between the two. The welfare group grows each year because of new babies, but the vacant job slots are not filled.

“You can talk about two different states which are radically closed to each other. The welfare state cannot continue. We cannot hope to cover the demographic holes through immigration from China either, since the Chinese don’t want to immigrate to a welfare system, where they will have to pay for an ageing population’s pensions in addition to a welfare population of millions.

“We have to say that there is only one category of people who can count on help from the government, and that is the mentally or physically handicapped. Nobody else should expect help. This sounds cold and cynical in the beginning, but our welfare states were founded the 19th century, when families had 10 children and when the father fell down a scaffold, somebody had to look after the family. This is not the situation we’re facing today.

“If you go to Australia, you don’t get money to have children. You can get a slight tax-relief. On the other hand a citizen of Australia can keep 80 out of every 100 dollars he earns.”

How could it go so wrong in a Europe, which otherwise had these grandiose plans about peace, cooperation, and prosperity, and in the beginning had unlimited trust in their own abilities?

“It started to go wrong around 1980. But the great turn in Germany came as late as 1990. It was when we opened the gates for a mass immigration of roughly speaking unqualified people. In the period between 1990-2002 Germany allowed an immigration of 13 million. At almost the same time it started to go wrong in France. We can only stop this burden on the welfare state though the law. We have to pass a bill that declares that new children born after a certain date will have to be paid for by the parents. It will be a revolution. But it isn’t even being discussed here in Europe.”

Clinton’s social reform

“But let me point out what happened in the USA. During the election campaign in 1992 Bill Clinton promised with a famous pronouncement to end welfare as it had been previously known. In 1935 the USA had issued a bill by the name “Aid to Dependent Children” (from 1960 known as “Aid to Families with Dependent Children”, ed.), which guaranteed every mother with small children help from the public. There was again the question about the father who had fallen from the scaffold, and very few received support because of this bill. However in 1965 the morals had changed. Until then it would have been unthinkable to a mother — whether she was white or black — to be pregnant, hide the identity of the father and then let the public pay for her kids. Now she didn’t even have to push the father out of a tall building. This caused an explosion of the number of welfare-dependent American families. From 1965 to 1995 the share of these rose to 10% of all American families and 15% of the children. That was the reality that Clinton had to face.

“Most of these welfare-dependents were blacks, and that made racists claim that the problem was in the black genes. But the Republicans and the Democrats worked together on a new law, “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families”, which was a smart law. It told American women: We will give you welfare up to five years. You decide whether it should be five years straight, or whether you want to divide the five years into shorter periods. The new law was passed in 1996 and took effect on January 1, 1997. It caused several top officials in the Clinton administration to walk out in protest, stating the law was a racist attack on the weakest — single mothers and their children. They had made a prediction for 1997-98, which showed that the number of children affected by this law would grow from 12 to 14 million. As it turned out, it was these well-meaning people who were the racists. The black girls were smart enough to go on the pill with the result that the welfare-dependent population shrank from 12 million to 4 million. It was the most successful social reform in history.

“In Europe we haven’t even begun to discuss such a reform.”

Leave the youth bulges alone

Lately there has been a discussion about whether we in the West have anything to do in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan or with populations as the Palestinian. Thus a pessimistic message that, we have let them fight against each other, if they want, and it isn’t something that we should or ought to interfere in?

“Among American strategists some are beginning to question whether the USA with its one-son families can send out troops to fight populations with many sons. That is the mistake we have committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you have to go in because you have been attacked, then you have to do it, but as soon as the danger has been defeated, it is necessary to withdraw. The Iraqis and the Afghans have to ensure the balance between the populations and positions in society themselves. And as far back in history we look, we can see that this balance has been created by young men who have killed each other. We have done it in Europe, and it have happened elsewhere. We cannot allow then to send their young men over the borders to kill others.

“My personal view is, that when faced with a youth bulge, then the phenomenon must be allowed to play out with the consequences we know. We should stay away. If we interfere, we cannot avoid having to side with one party and then help kill that party’s opponents. And then you end up in a situation where you appear to the population as the ones who do the dirty work for one side in different conflicts. Instead one can arm the most sympathetic side, which was what the French did in Algeria, after the Islamists started their killings of the secularists in 1992. France then sent weapons aid to the secularists. Back then there was nobody who said that we had to send money and food for the families of the Islamists, as they do in Palestine.”

Hat tip: Steen.

Once More with Feeling: Making the Case for the Iraq War

One of our readers sent an email today, suggesting we look at an editorial by former Senator Bob Kerrey in Opinion Journal last week. Given the responses today in our comments section to Nibras Kazimi’s essay on the war in his home country, Iraq, Mr. Kerrey’s thoughts bear partial repeating here:

Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view.

The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were “over there.”


As for Saddam…[h]e could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

Not to mention the cynical EU nations who were in cahoots with his massive extortion. France, anyone?

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before…


The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart. [my emphasis]

These are the people who want to have it both ways. “Out of Iraq, and clean up Darfur.” We “should have intervened in the Rwanda massacre.” Etc., ad nauseam. Whatever we do, we should have been doing something else instead.
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Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn’t you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

You can make up the headlines yourself: “Bush is a Do-Nothing President”; there’s one likely part of the litany. “‘Bush Spineless,’ Claim Democrats” would be another favorite antiphon. With the Dems the outcome is set beforehand: whatever Bush does is illegitimate because his time in office was “stolen.” It’s only legitimate when the Dems dig up dead votes, as they did by the hundred score in Illinois for Kennedy. Or is the Camelot media myth off limits?

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq’s middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy. [my emphasis]

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn’t have lasted a week.

And if we had set another dictator in place, the screaming from the left side of the aisle would have been ear-shattering.

Piano Wire Time for Ward Churchill

Ward Churchill

The mills of God the University of Colorado grind slowly, but they’re about to grind Ward Churchill exceedingly fine. The little Eichmann president of his own university has recommended firing the infamous “Native American activist”:

The president of the University of Colorado has recommended that a professor who likened some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi should be fired, according to the professor and the school.

Ward Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies, has denied the allegations and threatened a lawsuit if he is dismissed.

CU President Hank Brown made the recommendation in a 10-page letter sent to the chair of the committee that handles tenure issues. University spokeswoman Michele McKinney confirmed published reports about the recommendation Monday but said the school would not make the letter public.

The university’s governing Board of Regents would have the final say on whether Churchill is fired or disciplined. It could be several weeks before the case ends up in its hands; the tenure panel must review it first.

Churchill touched off a firestorm with an essay likening some victims in the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, who helped carry out the Holocaust.

Well, naturally he’s going to sue. What else would he do? He doesn’t loathe America enough not to take advantage of its lawyers.
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Remember: Prof. Churchill isn’t being fired for his obnoxious and disgraceful words — the university asserts his fundamental First Amendment rights to utter such egregious things and still retain his employment at state expense. No, Ward Churchill is being fired because he engaged in a little bit of plagiarism and fraud over the course of his distinguished career.

Strangely enough, DePaul University was not so lenient towards Thomas E. Klocek. As you may remember, he was fired for a single utterance. But Prof. Klocek had the temerity to disrespect the Palestinians. That was enough to cast him into the outer darkness. There are limits to the protections extended by the First Amendment to tenured professors, you know.

Ward Churchill had one thing to say which invited my complete agreement:

“I’ve got more faith in almost anything (than in the university process),” he said. “A random group of homeless people under a bridge would be far more intellectually sound and principled than anything I’ve encountered at the university so far.”

Amen, brother!

It’s your petard, sir, and I believe that you are hoist.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Iraq: "Absolutely Worth It"

Baghdad’s Talisman Gate
This essay is from The Talisman Gate*, a blog kept by Nibras Kazimi, a citizen of Iraq who works in the US. It originally appeared as an editorial in The New York Sun on March 23rd of this year, and subsequently in Mr. Kazimi’s blog.

I am presenting the essay in its entirety. The comments following the essay have been omitted, but you can see them at The Talisman Gate.

Mr. Kazimi is a Visiting Scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. He also writes on the Middle East for the Sun, in addition to a monthly essay for Prospect magazine in Britain.

Turn off the talking heads who never leave the Green Zone, and spend the time you save reading this Iraqi citizen’s viewpoint about the war in Iraq.

Absolutely Worth It

“Was it worth it?” is a question that I hear at every anniversary of the Iraq war, and it gets more pointed and pained — and asked more accusingly by some — with every passing year and especially this week as we mark the fourth anniversary after a particularly rough year.

And I can never understand the bewildered and disappointed look upon the questioner’s face — whether they be well-meaning or sanctimonious — when I answer, matter-of-factly, “Yes, of course.”

I am expected to atone for all that’s gone wrong, and when I don’t, it seems that I am violating some social norm. I am expected to repent the sins of war and recant the folly of wanting to fix things by war, as some of the earlier war-supporters have done.

But I don’t feel guilty over wanting Saddam Hussein gone, and I am certainly not guilty of what his loyalists and what the jihadists and death squads have done to Iraq since his ouster.

I don’t answer for other Iraqis, or for the Americans who too have sacrificed so much. I answer for myself as a war supporter, a war enabler, and a continuing believer: Yes, it was worth it.

I’ve spent the better portion of my life working toward Saddam’s overthrow. I was fully aware of the very real sacrifices made by those before me who had confronted Saddam and his Baath Party, and the consequences of their actions. The tyrant would not vanish by wishing him away — he had to be fought.

This was no personal vendetta, for although many in my family had confronted this regime, we emerged relatively unscathed. My opposition to the regime was motivated by the patriotism instilled in me by parents who encompassed the major sectarian and ethnic differences of the country: one an Arab Shiite, and another a Sunni Kurd. We were Iraqi citizens who wanted our country back, who wanted hope for the future, and none of that could even be contemplated under a regime like Saddam’s that actively set Iraqi against fellow Iraqi, using whatever means possible to rend the country apart, foremost being racial and religious differences.

The day the war started was the happiest day of my life. I was waiting for it in a country neighboring Iraq, but I had turned off all the phones the evening before to catch a night’s rest away from the well-wishers and congratulators who might call. I woke up and turned on the television to watch footage of the massive explosions that had smashed one of Saddam’s palaces during the night. I gleefully shouted my lonely battle cry.

A few hours later, my fellow comrades-in-arms gathered at one of our safe houses. There was no more need for caution and secrecy; all the various cells were brought together to celebrate. We were a motley group that included, among others, a former high ranking Shiite intelligence officer who had spent most of his life working for Saddam, a Sunni aviation engineer who had set out to write a new democratic constitution for Iraq on his own initiative, a Christian military architect who had designed safe passages for Saddam’s palaces, a Kurd who had fought Saddam’s armies in Iraq’s mountains and in a jihadist lapse, had gone to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Hope for a brighter future, hope for a new Iraq, had made us delirious with joy, and dismissive of our differences and our pasts, at least on that day.

The next few days were spent getting ready to do our parts in the war, and meeting with wider circles. One gentleman would become a minister of defense in the new Iraq, another would become a commander of the Mahdi Army. One tribal sheik would morph from being an avowed enemy of the Saddam regime into one of the “wise elders” of the Sunni insurgency.

Needless to say, our hopes at the war’s beginning were not matched by what we have seen over the last four years. So many things have happened that broke my heart, including the violent murder of some of those mentioned above, but my capacity for hope never broke — and it’s never been stronger.
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With hope comes the expectation of better things: It is one thing to expect the luxury of human dignity in a new Iraq and get justifiably indignant when such dignity is violated by the insurgents or the death squads or even sloppy services, and it is quite another matter to expect no rights or compassion under Saddam’s Iraq and become resigned to being dehumanized by a repressive totalitarian machine. This is why so many Iraqis are unhappy today and why I am unhappy today, but it doesn’t mean that I have lost hope.

I have had my own share of traumas and hurts over the last four years, as did the vast majority of Iraqis. In fact my family, relatively unscathed under Saddam, has undergone a much harsher experience since the liberation of Baghdad. Not only physically and materially, but the spiritual damage has been extensive: Our cherished ideals of patriotism toward our Iraq were never so challenged by sectarian divides as they are now.

But instead of turning forlorn and dejected, I’ve grown more combative. I think it is because I have more to lose: Bringing down Saddam gave Iraq and the Iraqi people a fighting chance at a better life, and now, faced with this vicious attack by those who want to take us back to Saddam’s dark era and others who want to take us back to a medieval form of Islam, I have more to fight for.

When I first started working for the Iraqi opposition, it really seemed at times, as the Western press derisively labeled it, as a venture that involved “three guys and a fax machine.” Confronting Saddam seemed like a fool’s errand, a hopeless cause, not least because of the danger posed to oneself and one’s family.

A couple of days ago, while strolling around Manhattan, I passed the Sheraton Hotel at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street where an Iraqi opposition conference was held in the autumn of 1999. I giggled at the memories that the place evoked: Who would have thought then that the men and women gathered there would today be the leaders of Iraq? But that is exactly what happened: There is something incredibly powerful in that realization.

The violence and mayhem enveloping Iraq is not my sin. Blame should be left at the doorstep of those who openly boast in propaganda videos about hurting ordinary people. If I am at fault, it is for hoping for too much, too soon. But even so, I have nothing to apologize for.

The war launched four year ago gave me my country back, and armed me with hope. Maybe my hopes have been scaled back slightly and recalibrated, but they were never repudiated nor will they be. On this anniversary, I choose to remind myself that flawed freedom is far better than slavery in whatever form, and that it is absolutely worth it.

Mr. Kazimi has two blogs by the same name, though the content is quite different. See here* for the second one. I recommend both.

If you want to write him, here is his email: Nibras Kazimi

A Film to Ponder: “The Namesake”

There is such power in the naming of things, especially the names we choose for our children. In this film, the act of naming and the acceptance by the child of his name is a central theme, though it is not the only one by any means.

The Baron and I don’t get out to see movies much. The trip to town is long, and life around Schloss Bodissey keeps us busy. Besides, as bloggers know, one tends to become a bit tied to one’s blog, as though it were a demanding toddler needing constant attention so it won’t roll off the bed, or stick its curious fingers into electric sockets, or heaven forbid, get lost in the maze of cyberspace.

However, it was my birthday a few days ago so we decided to celebrate by going out to eat (hurray for employment!) and seeing a film. The future Baron talked us into sushi, and from there we walked the block or so to the theatre.

We saw an American-Calcutta film, “The Namesake.” I don’t care for reviews which repeat the story line. I’m more interested in what the director is trying to show me.

NamesakeFor starters, the director is Mira Nair. If you saw any of her other films, you will understand the attraction of her work. Ms. Nair lets the components of her characters build slowly until you begin to understand, just a little, who they are and what drives them. In “The Namesake” you can re-live, for a few hours, the process of building your own relationships over time. She lures you into identifying with each character, even the “villains” - if such they be.

Ms. Nair is a brilliant director. She uses the extremes that can exist in climate and culture to point to the emotional effects that these differences evoke…all without ever stating explicitly what they are. You simply experience the difference between a snowy New York City and a steamy Kolkata (Calcutta). You experience the sense of dislocation caused by existing in these two extremes, and the gradual integration - in at least one of the individuals - of the cultural clashes and their effects on character.
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Thus, the film is truly multi-cultural, as that word was meant originally: the ability to exist wholly in two places, even though one’s heart always belongs to our earliest experience. Thus, the mother, raised in India, is a stranger in a strange land in America, but she has made her peace with it. Her children, American born and raised, are visitors to their ancestral home…nice place to visit but who would want to live there?

The family visit to the Taj Mahal makes a visual impact beyond the mere filming of architecture. You become, momentarily, a part of that beauty; you stand in the place of the grieving lover who caused it to be created and the builders who brought that love into being. It is as though the Taj Mahal exists out of necessity.

This is a film to see, and it is one to own. Whatever your age - and this work would be suitable for adolescents and adults - you will identify in some measure with the life’s journey of Nair’s characters.

What is the Cause of Low Birth Rates?

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.

What causes low birth rates? I have debated this issue at some length with blogger Conservative Swede. Among the reasons frequently cited are the welfare state, feminism and secularism. However, if you look closely at the statistics from various countries, the picture gets quite complex, and there doesn’t appear to be an automatic correlation between low birth rates and any one of these factors.

The United States has the highest birth rates in the West, but this is largely due to ethnic minorities. If you compare white Americans to white Europeans, the American birth rate is somewhat higher than those of the Scandinavian nanny states, but still lower than replacement level. Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden do have elaborate welfare states, high degrees of feminism and are not very religious, yet have some of the highest birth rates in the Western world (though still below replacement level.) They are certainly much higher than those in Catholic Poland, perhaps the most conservative religious country in Europe. And they are much higher than those of South Korea, which has more traditional sex roles and where Christianity is booming these days.

The gap between the Western world and the Islamic world in birth rates is clearly caused by religious factors, but the differences between industrialized nations are far more difficult to explain. If the cause is not welfarism, feminism or secularism, then what is it?

Making moms: Can we feed the need to breed? Canada has a baby deficit. Will paying women to have more kids help?

How strange, then, that just as the mommy industry is booming, we’re in the grips of a baby bust. Canada’s fertility rate has been in a free fall for decades. In recent years, though, it has hovered at an all-time low of roughly 1.5 children per woman (we need 2.1 if we’re going to replace ourselves). Social analysts pin it on some jumble of female education and fiscal autonomy, secularization, birth control, Sex and the City, a heightened desire for personal freedom, and increasing uncertainty about bringing a child into a world plagued by terrorism, global warming and Lindsay Lohan. In a hyper-individualistic, ultra-commodified culture like ours, motherhood, for better and worse, is less a fact of life than just another lifestyle choice.

All over the developed world, the same pattern is apparent. Russia, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Spain, Italy and dozens of other countries are contending with fertility rates well below replacement levels. Forty per cent of female university graduates in Germany are childless. In Japan, where the birth rate has sunk to a record low of 1.26, family planning groups are blaming the Internet, charging that fertile men and women are spending too much time online, and not enough having sex.

Making Kids Worthless: Social Security’s Contribution to the Fertility Crisis

Many people nowadays find it hard to see why anyone would have children for the sake of old-age security. Surely, they think, people have children just because they like it. Still, they often hear people say they would like to have more children, but they cannot afford it. Moreover, people in less developed countries seem to afford large families, even though their real incomes barely reach subsistence levels.

What can account for these seemingly conflicting observations? The fact that in the absence of social security, the extended family is an informal social insurance mechanism that renders childbearing economically beneficial. But in countries with large social security systems, people no longer have an old-age security motive for fertility, precisely because social security has made fertility economically unwise.

Of course, social security is not the only reason for declining fertility rates. For one thing, the welfare state undermines the family in many other ways too, such as compulsory public education that seeks to replace family loyalty with allegiance to the state. Moreover, the old-age security motive for fertility should become weaker when other ways of providing for old age become available…

One can also look at differences among the developed Western countries. Among these countries, there are practically no differences in infant mortality rates, female labor force participation rates, and other standard explanations of the fertility decline. Yet total fertility rates differ widely — and exactly in the way predicted by the size of social security systems. The United States has a fertility rate of 2.09, whereas the European Union has an average of 1.47.

Also within Europe, where social security benefits are dangerously generous, there are differences among countries. Some of the most generous schemes are found in Germany, France, and the Mediterranean countries — as are the lowest fertility rates in the region. On the surface, it is surprising to find this in countries that used to be family-oriented and fervently Catholic. However, economic incentives shape behavior, and behavior shapes culture…

The best solution is also the simplest: get the state out of the way.

Death by secularism: Some statistical evidence

Infertility is killing off the secular world, a number of writers have observed, including Phillip Longman, whose 1994 book The Empty Cradle I reviewed last year. In the former Soviet empire, where atheism reigned as state policy for generations, the United Nations forecasts extreme declines in population by 2050, ranging from 22% for the Russian Federation to nearly 50% for the Ukraine. Secular western Europe will lose 4% to 12% of its population, while the population of the churchgoing United States continues to grow. Is secularism at fault? The numbers do not suggest otherwise.

Humankind cannot abide the terror of mortality without the promise of immortality, I have argue in the past. In the absence of religion human society sinks into depressive torpor. Secular society therefore is an oxymoron, for the death of religion leads quickly enough to the death of society itself.

Why Europe chooses extinction
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Demographics is destiny. Never in recorded history have prosperous and peaceful nations chosen to disappear from the face of the earth. Yet that is what the Europeans have chosen to do. Back in 1348 Europe suffered the Black Death, a combination of bubonic plague and likely a form of mad cow disease, observes American Enterprise Institute scholar Ben Wattenberg. “The plague reduced the estimated European population by about a third. In the next 50 years, Europe’s population will relive — in slow motion — that plague demography, losing about a fifth of its population by 2050 and more as the decades roll on.”

Bring back that Old Time Religion

[S]ecularism promotes a more short term and hedonistic attitude towards life. Since secular people have little faith in God or an after life, the tendency is for them to adopt the attitude of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Of course, not all secular people are like that. But in general, secularism promotes such attitudes.

Their time horizon is therefore their own lifetime. Religious people on the other hand are more long term. Their eyes are on eternity. If you go to Europe, you will come across many Cathedrals that took centuries to build. For example, Cologne Cathedral took more than 300 years to complete.

Why did the Medieval Christians start a project that none of them would live to see its completion? The answer is that they look to the hereafter. Their desire was to please God and go to heaven. They say that faith can move mountains. Here a mountain of stone was literally moved to build the great Cathedrals of Europe.

But what of the secular people in now post-Christian Europe? What are the economic consequences of people whose time frame is simply the rest of their lives?

For a start, they (in general) want to enjoy their lives to the hilt. For some, this could mean early retirement with loss of still productive workers to the economy. For others, it could mean fewer or no children for children means responsibility and a tax on their resources which could be used to indulge themselves. Statistics from America have shown that regular church goers tend to have more children than those that seldom attend church.

Gates of Vienna on Fausta’s Podcast

Update: We had a great conversation with Fausta and Siggy. Here’s the permalink to today’s podcast.

FaustaSiggy, Dymphna and I are scheduled to appear on Fausta’s podcast today at 12:00 noon EDT. I understand that there’s a call-in period during the second part of the half-hour program, so people can call up and badger us about our extreme right-wing theocon racist Islamophobic opinions.

The link for Fausta’s slot at BlogTalkRadio is here. The listener dial-in number is (646) 652-2639.

I’m leaving this post at the top until the time of the podcast.

[Nothing follows.]

The Near Abroad Responds

In response to yesterday’s post by Dimitri K., Fellow Peacekeeper, our long-time Latvian commenter and fellow blogger, has left a comment in which he “take[s] issue with the grotesque untruths that Mr. K. assumes” about the nature of Soviet hegemony. It’s worth reproducing in its entirety:

… our Russian correspondent. It’s gratifying to be able to present an account of Russian history from an entirely Russian perspective.

Indeed, it is entirely a Russian perspective, and at a guess from a privileged big city (Moscow/Leningrad) perspective.

There are several different explanations for the sudden collapse of what used to be one of two superpowers of the 20th century… none of them can explain why the country, not too poor and seemingly stable, broke apart so fast. Many countries have experienced worse problems in their history and yet did not collapse.

The USSR was poor, and only seemed stable. Total state control of the media can do that, doubly when combined with arrests of anyone who dared to claim otherwise. Few other countries survived on lies so much as the USSR, big lies, little lies. Lies everywhere. To question the lies was to invite an “interview”, and thereby lies became a direct means of control. Even science became perverted by the lies, since the truth one can see with ones own eyes is not the most important truth.

Economists blame the weakness of the Soviet economy.

If a city shop had a stock of sausage, which was somewhat greasy and already going green, a line would form around the block of people eager to purchase it. We are talking about a country were people carefully washed and ironed plastic shopping bags, because a good plastic bag (as was handed out with every pair of shoes or trousers in the outside world) would have to last for years.

Americans believe it is due to the Afghan war and Ronald Reagan, who called the USSR the “Evil Empire”.

The Afghan war exposed the complete moral bankruptcy of the USSR and spoiled the taste of foreign military adventures, which directly led to declining to intervene in the collapse of the wall period in Eastern Europe in 1989. This is rather important considering the usual Soviet brand of occupation tactics (discussed below).

Russians blame Mikhail Gorbachev.

StalinAt least partly true — If Andropov (or similar) had lived I believe the USSR would have kept together. Of course as time went on it would more and more resemble North Korea. Gorbachev had the misfortune of not being a bloody-handed tyrant and tried to do they right thing by the USSR and its people. I guess that makes him a naïve fool.

Russians were neither ruthless conquerors nor cruel occupants.

That is a joke, unless we are comparing them to the Mongols of circa 1200…? The Russian Empire and then the USSR invading and occupying nation after nation and raping, robbing , massacring and finally deporting en mass the populations thereof. The key to Soviet control was always unlimited brutality — no matter how bitter the resistance the Russians/Soviets would hammer you until you broke. When you were broken, a mass of secret police would keep the populace in a permanent and justified state of fear.

The Chechens are exhibit no. 1, having been occupied by the Russian empire after over 20 years of fighting and 70 of occupation, deported every single man, woman and child in 1944 for no real good reason, and now bludgeoned into submission by 15 years of mass terror. Incidentally, one of the outcomes of the first war was the conversion of the Chechens to Islam, while the last has driven the secularist proto-Republic of Dudayev into the hands of the radical Islamists.

Some republics of the USSR had once joined Russia voluntarily for political reasons, other were re-captured by Russians from other empires.

Voluntary? From other Empires? Hardly. Let us see: the three Baltics were independent (invaded and annexed 1940); Moldova was annexed from Romania in 1940; as was part of Poland that became most of Belarus; the rest were countries newly independent from the Russian empire that were invaded and reoccupied by the Red Army in 1920/21 (with the usual brutality; for instance Tajikistan has really never recovered), excepting those newly independent from the Ottoman empire which were invaded and occupied by the Red Army in 1920/21.
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Many of those republics were themselves multi-national entities and experienced problems with their own minorities. However, almost nobody doubts the right of those republics to be independent countries, whereas almost everybody claims that USSR was an artificial entity.

Many multiethnic? Problems? Then as now that is quite simply Not True.

Differences in lifestyles were also not the reason for the collapse. Actually, from Ukraine to the Far East, from Lithuania to Georgia, the majority of the population lived a similar life style, understood a common language and did not feel much hatred towards each other.

That is a very Russian opinion. The similar lifestyle (Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, alcohol, soulless make-work, boredom, concrete apartment blocks) and language (And here I must apologise but we are talking about the de facto existing degenerate zek/pidgen modern Russian where every other sentence is punctuated by bljad and virtually every concept can be expressed by a derivation of hui, and not the language of Pushkin and Tolstoy that mostly exists only in books) was forced on non-Russians at gunpoint on pain of deportation or worse. Of course that’s in the cities — older and worthier ways survived out in the countryside at least in the republics. And while it may be news to most Russians, they are almost universally loathed in every country that has had contact with them, and this is nothing new. In the USSR not liking Russian or Russians could get one a “interview”, that just made it easier not to notice.

The Soviet Union rather subsidized its European republics than exploited them.

Oh please. Pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it.

Colleges in large cities had reserved vacancies for minorities.

After enacting de facto mechanisms to exclude non-Russians from all the other non-reserved places. As well as from newly constructed apartments, good jobs, etc etc. :) An artificial shortage as it were.

Suppose that the Soviet people really existed.

Oh but they did! The USSR called them “Russians”, just as we do today. They should not be confused with “Russians” before 1918. The difference between the New Soviet Man and Russians was far wider back in the beginning. Time went on and most Russians were deliberately decultured to became Homo sovieticus, although they were certainly not the New Soviet Man that they was supposed to become (Homo sovieticus was a broken parody of New Soviet Man, caused by the collision of Marxist social engineering with reality). The USSR worked hard to force other people also to become the same, by standardizing housing (concrete tower blocks whether they were appropriate the climate and situation or — as more often — not), enforcing Russian/Soviet language in all education (use of local languages was a sign of nationalism and relegated to the level of quaint local ethnicity, good for museums etc.), enforcing artificial holidays and banning the old ones (like Christmas or Midsummer), enforcing doublethink, conscription into the Red Army and brutalization therein, banning religion.

And propaganda. Lots of it. Everywhere. All the time. 24/7/365. On the TV, in the hospital, at the bus stop, in the newspaper, at work, at school, on the buildings. Indeed, everywhere but the swamps and fields and deep green forest. So they enforced collectivization, to ensure that people could not live alone in the countryside where they might harbour un-Soviet ideas.

Needless to say, the combination of hopelessness and doublethink caused mental dissonance, along with the lack of alternate means of escape, engendered universal alcoholism on a massive scale. It is also said that the real reason the USSR fell is that Gorbachev naïvely restricted the supply of vodka and people sobered up enough to see what was really happening :).

Communism and political correctness are branches that spring from one root. While they differ in focus, the basal assumptions are similar, and therefore the results when applied to other branches of human endeavour are likely to similar. I suggest that much of what is observed about the USSR is where political correctness must inevitably lead if it comes to power.