Saturday, May 15, 2004

Two Culture Wars

There is a minor and a major culture war, and if we lose the second, the first won't matter at all. The war between liberals and conservatives, as heated as it has become recently, is as nothing compared to the war between the West, with its Enlightenment values, and militant Islam. For example, liberals and conservatives in the West basically agree about the desirability of church-state separation, differing only on its interpretation. There is unanimity on the basic point that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," interpreted to mean that the government shall have no authority to set up any religion as the state religion. Indeed, there is core agreement on any number of issues including universal suffrage, free speech, and equality of opportunity. From my conservative point of view, liberals simply put extreme interpretations on the core tenets. For example, they apparently think that the protection afforded by the "freedom of speech" clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extends to cultural polluters like Howard Stern; we conservatives, however, know that it is serious political dissent, such as that practiced by the likes of Noam Chomsky, that alone deserves protection.

The really dangerous culture war is that between the proponents of Enlightenment values and the Islamo-totalitarians. The beheading of Nicholas Berg by Arab terrorists focuses the issue. The brutal murder of innocent civilians to make a political statement is not something we condone in the West, but it is something they not only condone but practice.

My minor/major culture war scheme is upset by the fact that many liberals in the West have become, and many more are becoming, radical leftists out to subvert the very principles that they as leftists supposedly support. Thus arises the phenomenon of the schizoid Left. For example, from the time of the French Revolution on, the Left has been anti-clerical and ever more anti-religious. But now we witness the bizarre spectacle of leftists aligning themselves with the most extreme type of religious fundamentalism on the face of the earth.

For a second example, consider that lefties traditionally display a prominent libertine and bohemian wobble. Why then do they cozy up to Islamic fanatics who murder homosexuals, stone adulterers, and circumcise females? Third, the Left, as part of the Enlightenment project, champions science over superstition. Yet, in the last 400 years or so, scarcely anything of any scientific value has emanated from the Islamic world. The same goes for philosophy. Tiny Israel in the mere 56 years of its existence has cranked out more genuine philosophy that the whole of the Islamic world has in 400 years. So what does the Left do? It waxes anti-Semitic and pro-Islamic.

The nihilism of the Left -- its denial of value and true being to anything that actually exists and provably works -- may be turning in upon itself. Unable to destroy Western civilization under its own steam, it aligns itself with Islamo-fascists, who, were they to attain power, would of course mercilessly exterminate all leftists. A curious sort of Selbstaufhebung.

So perhaps I was a bit hasty in my intitial schematization. The major war, of course, is against the Islamo-fascists. But if liberals keep moving to the Left, then the minor war against liberals may become indistinguishable from the major jihad against the Islamo-fascists.