Thursday, September 27, 2007


The Song dynasty, from the tenth to the thirteenth century, was arguably the most dynamic period in Chinese history. Although printing "was invented by Buddhist monks in China, and at first benefited Buddhism, by the middle of the tenth century printers were turning out innumerable copies of the classical Confucian corpus."

According to Shaffer, "The origin of the civil service examination system in China can be traced back to the Han dynasty, but in the Song dynasty government-administered examinations became the most important route to political power in China. For almost a thousand years (except the early period of Mongol rule), China was governed by men who had come to power simply because they had done exceedingly well in examinations on the Neo-Confucian canon. At any one time thousands of students were studying for the exams, and thousands of inexpensive books were required. Without printing, such a system would not have been possible."

As she explains, "China developed the world's largest and most technologically sophisticated merchant marine and navy." The Chinese "could have made the arduous journey around the tip of Africa and sail into Portuguese ports; however, they had no reason to do so. Although the Western European economy was prospering, it offered nothing that China could not acquire much closer to home at much less cost."

In contrast, the Portuguese, the Spanish and other Europeans were trying to reach the Spice Islands, what is now Indonesia. "It was this spice market that lured Columbus westward from Spain and drew Vasco da Gama around Africa and across the Indian Ocean." In Shaffer's view, technologies such as gunpowder and the compass had a different impact in China than they had in Europe, and it is "unfair to ask why the Chinese did not accidentally bump into the Western Hemisphere while sailing east across the Pacific to find the wool markets of Spain."

Yes, Asia was the most prosperous region on the planet at this time. Europeans embarked on their Age of Exploration of the seas precisely out of a desire to reach the wealthy Asian lands (and bypass Muslim middlemen), which is why Christopher Columbus and his men mistakenly believed they had arrived in India when they reached the Americas. Asians did not possess a similar desire to reach Europe. But this still doesn't explain why the Chinese didn't embark on the final and most crucial stage of the Industrial Revolution in the West: Harnessing the force of steam and the use of fossil fuels to build stronger, more efficient machinery, faster ships and eventually railways, cars and airplanes.

Printing and literacy greatly expanded during Song times; the world's first printed paper money (bank notes) was introduced and a system of canals and roads was built, all facilitating an unprecedented population growth. Iron smelting and the use of coal multiplied several times over as China reached a stage sometimes called "proto-industrial." And yet China produced no Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen or James Watt to develop successful steam engines, nor a George Stephenson to build railway lines or a Karl Benz to make the first gasoline-powered automobile. Although experiments with flying had been undertaken in many nations around the world, the airplane was made possible only with the invention of modern engines, which is why China didn't produce the Wright brothers.

For thousands of years, human beings were limited by their ability to harness muscle power, of men and animals. This was later supplemented with windmills, watermills and similar inventions, which could be important, but in a limited fashion. The harnessing of steam power for engines and machinery was a revolution which provided the basis for enormous improvements in output and efficiency. For some reason, China never did take this final step, and although the country remained prosperous for centuries, later dynasties never quite matched the dynamism under Song times. Emphasis was on cultural continuity, and China experienced no great cultural flowing or event similar to the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment in Europe. China was in its own eyes the Middle Kingdom. It had some annoying barbarians at its frontiers, but no immediate neighbors to rival its size and power, and thus little incentive for improvement. The result was relative (though not necessarily absolute) scientific stagnation. China could afford to grow self-satisfied, and she did. In contrast, Europeans, who were divided into numerous smaller states in a constant state of rivalry instead of one, large unified state, had stronger incentives for innovation, including in weapons technology.

The Mongol invasion, which ended the Song dynasty, is sometimes blamed for this loss of impetus. After the conquest of Beijing in 1215 the soil was greasy with human fat for months. According to Genghis Khan, "The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters." He believed in practicing what you preach. DNA studies indicate that he may have as many as 16 million descendants living today.

The Mongols were notorious for their brutality, but they had a particular dislike for Muslims. Hulagu Khan led the Mongol forces as they completely destroyed Baghdad in 1258, thus ending what remained of the Abbasid Caliphate. The Christian community was largely spared, allegedly thanks to the intercession of Hulagu's Nestorian Christian wife.

The irony is that many Mongols soon adopted Islam as their preferred creed. Maybe the warlike nature of this religion appealed to them. It is possible to make a comparison between Muhammad and Genghis Khan. Temüjin, who gained the title Khan when he founded the Mongol Empire in 1206, did believe he had received a divine mandate to conquer the world, and he created an impressive military force out of nothing by uniting scattered tribes and directing their aggressive energies outwards. He created a Mongolian nation where no nation had existed before, similar to what Muhammad did with the Arabs. The difference is that the Mongols didn't establish a religion of their own throughout their empire which outlasted their rule. We should probably be grateful for that, otherwise the Organization of the Mongolian Conference would be the largest voting bloc at the United Nations today, our schools would teach us about the glories of Mongol science and tolerance and our media would constantly warn us against the dangers of Genghisophobia.

In Europe, the Mongol conquests had the most lasting impact in the Ukraine and Russia. The city of Kiev was devastated while a new Russian state slowly grew out of Moscow. Ivan the Great in the 1400s expanded the Russian state and defeated the Tatar yoke, as the now Islamized Turko-Mongols of the Golden Horde were called. The Mongols invaded Eastern Europe and in the course of a few years attacked Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Serbia. They had reached as far as Vienna in 1241 when the Great Khan suddenly died and the commanders had to return to elect a new leader.

The Black Death, the great Eurasian plague pandemic, swept from Central Asia along the Silk Road through the Mongol Empire, reaching the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the 1340s. The disease, which killed at least a third of the population and more than 70% in some regions, probably reached Europe after the Golden Horde used biological warfare during a siege of the Black Sea port of Caffa, catapulting plague-infested corpses into the city. It was then carried to the European continent with fleeing Genoese traders. The Mongols thus didn't invade Western Europe, but at least they gave us the plague.

Many historians place great macrohistorical importance on the Mongol conquest. It certainly had a disruptive impact, and the trail of devastation it left behind severely depopulated regions from China and Korea via Iran and Iraq to Eastern Europe. It ended the dynamic Song dynasty, yet even before the Mongol conquest, there were few indications that a development towards modern machinery was about to take place in China. Japan, which has always learned a lot from China, escaped unscathed. A series of typhoons, dubbed kamikaze or "divine wind" by the Japanese, saved the country from the Mongol fleets in 1274 and 1281, but they, too, didn't develop a fully fledged industry until they adopted a Western model during the Meiji Restoration in the late nineteenth century.

Moreover, even if Western Europe escaped the Mongols, we should remember that Western Europeans had recently experienced centuries of political disintegration and population decline, longer than in any period in Chinese history for several thousand years. Europe also had to face a much more prolonged assault by Islam. Belgian scholar Henri Pirenne in his work Mohammed and Charlemagne asserted that the definitive break between the Classical world and the Middle Ages in the West was not the downfall of the Western Roman Empire following the partition in 395 A.D., but the Islamic conquests in the seventh century.

  • Here is a link to Part 1 of this fascinating essay. Make time. Grab a clue on this fine day. Read all of Part 2.

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  • Wednesday, September 26, 2007


    "Although there may be substantial, perhaps even profound disagreement, that separates those such as myself who have studied under Mr. Robert Spencer, Mrs. Bat Ye’or, Mr. Steve Emerson, Mr. Daniel Pipes, Mr. Andrew Bostom, etc., from those who have not, such as Mr. John Derbyshire, Mr. Glenn Beck, and Mr. Christopher Hitchens, we must find enough common ground in order to jointly fight this clear and common threat. Does not the Wahabist Sunni find enough common ground with the Shi'ites to join against the common enemy? Did not ultra-capitalist states unite with ultra-Marxist states in order to defeat the common enemy? If such things as this are possible, should we not learn from this ancient military wisdom? Do we not both cherish civilization and freedom? I believe that freedom of conscience alone is enough for us to shoulder arms in the same ranks. We must find a way to overcome our factionalism. This is a battle between barbarism and civilization. If we do ally with one-another, darkness will envelope the earth."

    —The Patagonian Plato

    Although I have quoted the above paragraph with gusto, I am indeed concerned that this person known as the Patagonian Plato does not realize his name betrays his cause. Philosopher Karl Popper—in his book The Open Society and Its Enemies—makes a formidable case against Plato, tracing the geneaology of totalitarianism back through Lenin, Hegel and Marx straight to Plato and his "Philosopher King" model for the perfect society. Man with absolute power becomes despotic despite best intentions we learn again and again throughout history. Philosophies can condemn or embrace the best or the worst in civilization, and all ports in between. So while we may all pine for the benevolent dictator, Plato was emphatically anti-democratic.

    But let's focus closer to home, and the first true American:

    "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

    —Thomas Paine, American Crisis

    Now read this astonishing analysis on today in America.

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2007


    In a surprise turnaround, given the usual dhimmitude exhibited by our liberal university power structure, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was repeatedly tested as he questioned the official version of the September 11 attacks and defended the right to cast doubt on the Holocaust in a tense appearance at Columbia University, whose president accused the hard-line leader of behaving like "a petty and cruel dictator."

    Ahmadinejad smiled at first but appeared increasingly agitated, decrying the "insults" and "unfriendly treatment." Columbia President Lee Bollinger and audience members took him to task over Iran's human-rights record and foreign policy, as well as Ahmadinejad's statements denying the Holocaust and calling for the disappearance of Israel.

    "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger said, to loud applause. He said Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust might fool the illiterate and ignorant.

    "When you come to a place like this it makes you simply ridiculous," Bollinger said. "The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history." Ahmadinejad rose, also to applause, and after a religious invocation, said Bollinger's opening was "an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here."

    "There were insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully," Ahmadinejad said, accusing Bollinger of falling under the influence of the hostile U.S. press and politicians. "I should not begin by being affected by this unfriendly treatment."

    During a question and answer session, Ahmadinejad appeared tense and unsmiling, in contrast to more relaxed interviews and appearances earlier in the day. And thus a banner day in American intellectual toughness has been witnessed. May this event at Columbia signal the end of the political correctness era, and the beginning of a true intellectual analysis on our campuses and in our think thanks. But don't count on it.There are still many who realize that the propaganda war is always a surgical composure. Columbia students did applaud this man. This clip will be used by our enemies.

    And you can bet the tone of both the guest speaker Ahmadeinejad and his audience wiil be skewed in his favor today when the Iranian president speaks at the "Islamic" United Nations.

    Moving along, here's another sweet plum from the mindful tree of Hugh Fitzgerald:

    Qur'an, passim. Hadith, passim. Sira, passim. Take them seriously, take them to heart, do not ignore what they tell you, and the duty of Jihad becomes clear. Follow the logic of Jihad, and the instruments available to Muslims at this moment in history: qitaal as terrorism, the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, demographic conquest. Now choose one or more. Al Qaeda chose the first, but is also delighted with those who employ the second, and the third, and the fourth methods for spreading Islam, and removing all obstacles to Islam, whether this is accomplished by terrorizing, or buying off, or misleading, or simply outbreeding, the Infidel enemy.

    That is the answer to "why did this happen." No one would have sought to find the "root causes" of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in anything other than Kodo, the blend of emperor-worship and extreme Japanese militarism that all through the 1920s began spreading throughout the ruling class, both military and civilian, in Japan. No one would think to find the "root causes" for Hitler's attack on Poland that led Britain and France to finally declare war, in anything other than the doctrine promulgated by Hitler that the "Aryans" of Germany needed, and were entitled to, Lebensraum by seizing lands belonging to all non-Aryan and therefore inferior peoples.

    No one should seek to find the "root causes" of Muslim terrorism, carried out entirely by Muslims, for reasons clearly articulated by the most truthful terrorists (including Bin Laden and many of his aides), that constantly relate back to the doctrines of Islam, to passages to be found in Qur'an and Hadith, and in the details of Muhammad's life found in the Sira.

    The "root cause" of Muslim terrorism at Ground Zero, as of Muslim terrorism directed at civilians in southern Thailand, or in India, or in Israel, or in the southern Sudan, or in Amsterdam, Madrid, London, and a thousand other places, is Islam. The "root cause" of Muslim terrorism is Islam.

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    Monday, September 24, 2007


    Industrial freshness in oil rich Qatar

    The ME state of Qatar has upped its share in the London Stock Exchange to nearly 24 per cent, giving the gulf state and its neighbour Dubai a controlling stake of nearly 52 per cent.

    The Islamofanatics (sic!) are nothing if not superb Machiavellian practitioners of black intrigue. What better way to drop the equivalent of an electromagnetic pulse on an entire economy than with the weapon of stock exchange ownership? This is from the same playbook as the Dubai ports deal. Go after Western critical strategic non-military assets, control them and then put the economic squeeze on us. They did it with oil and they are using that as an example for further exploitation; but now they will use economic force to propagate Islam.

    The bureaucrats in London, Washington, and New York should set aside their copies of Adam Smith and think about what is happening here. This litany of incidents were major direct attacks on our nations' financial systems in an area where we have no line of defense. Once economic control has shifted into "enemy" hands, Washington becomes irrelevant.

    The Secretary of the Treasury and the Chief of Economic Advisors should be revolting against this stealth takeover of Western markets. They should forget about this globalism crap and throw out Queensbury rules, returning to WWII economic controls on enemy assets. The Islamofanatics only abiding rule of engagement is doing whatever it takes to win, to establish a world caliphate. They cannot win with a direct confrontation against a carrier group or an infantry division, but they can win with an economic ax threatening Wall Street which could easily slam into and paralyze the country's economic backbone. Only teeth-gnashing Marxists can cheer at this news. Make no mistake. They are cheering.

    However, it is also true that Muslims owning a stock exchange is not the end of the system, not yet anyhow. What exchange ownership can control is which company to list or unlist. But even here there's a ball & chain of regulation to abide since all exchanges operate by local laws. I understand that a "Stock Exchange" is simply a trading space. Remember the Dick Grasso scandal? In fact, an exchange is a company by itself. If one falters or grows unstable or unfriendly there is always market space for another trading space company to spring into place, although by most accounts, the London Exchange is arguably the centerpiece of global trading.

    Dubai has control of the Nasdaq also. The Saudi's are "playing" around with the US dollar. They have their tentacles in our media, they control the oil and now this. Now, where did I put all those "The End is Near" signs I rescued from a dumpster oh so many years ago?


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    Saturday, September 22, 2007


    I found this today on the Daniel PIpes site posted in a comment:

    Our present day problems are an ongoing reenactment of a morality tale that's been told and retold in every generation since the ancient time of Adam HaRishon. The sin of Eden had nothing to do with fruit or sex. It had to do with the abdication of responsibility and the need to blame others for our own failings.

    If Adam had stood up like a real man and told God that HE, Adam, of his own free will had chosen to disobey and eat the fruit regardless of Gods express command not to, the world we live in today would be a whole different place. But Adam, being the nebisch that he was, chose to lay it all on Eve. And she, in her turn, dumped it all on the serpent. No one forced anyone to do anything. Even God could not force Adam to obey HIM without violating HIS gift of free will.

    The whole issue was a test of Adam's character. The question in God's mind was "Could HE, God, totally entrust Adam with the responsibility as care taker of HIS creation?" Needless to say, Adam failed miserably and so he was let go to seek employment elsewhere. I doubt that God gave him any letter of recomendation for his next employer.

    Today, we face much the same problem. God will not force us to obey HIM. But if we are willing to LISTEN when HE speaks HE will give us suggestions as to how to resolve our problems. It is all only a matter of recognising the truth of our situation here in this world.

    There is only ONE sky above.

    There is only ONE earth beneath our feet.

    Humanity is only ONE kind upon the face of the earth.

    The is only ONE law which governs the affairs of all men.

    HEAR, Oh Israel, The LORD, OUR God, is ONE.

    As Gabriel the cull poet is frequently heard to murmur, "It may not be the sexiest, but the straight line is always the shortest path to truth. With cruel exceptions."

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    Friday, September 21, 2007


    Originally published on December 12, 1999

    It was a Ginsberg quote: "The Beat Movement was never meant to be a rebellion. It was meant to bring in a new consciousness. The middle-class, who were rebelling against Mother Nature by destroying her ecologically, made us out to be rebellious."

    And also, when remarking on how Laura Miller had trashed his "Grammatron" in the NYTBR, Mark Amerika complained that she had set up a "false binary" and "unnecessary either/or oppositions", and then proposed that we simply open our minds to a variety of styles and possibilities within any given framework.

    So to answer your question, allow me to say that I too am weary of this plethora of binary constructs that attack the imagination in exactly the same way the media controls operate. In the US, the race issue is always put to the people in binary form, but everybody knows (except those on the hot button payroll) the issue is both simultaneously more simple and more complex than it's presented in the media, but the media elite and the political hacks milk the same anachronistic cow day after day, and very little ever changes except we continue to lose perspective with this increasing concentration of the THEM VERSUS THEM dichotomy.

    Crash writes—I'm with you on this—it has always been a quite useful method of control to set up artificial binary conflicts to keep people angry at each other and to keep them blind to the true problems—Burroughs always stated that in order to truly challenge a system you have to move outside the constructs of language which is grounded in the binary system of control—of course this also leaves out most people who are unable or unwilling to approach a work such as the Burroughs books—so where should we go? I think a very effective means of challenging systems is to attack the discourse upon which they rest—language for me is the key to power—not just spoken or written dictum, but also the language of images that are broadcast and plastered everywhere.

    Levi-Strauss pointed out how in primitive myths the mispronounciation of words and the misuse of language were considered to be very dangerous and very powerful methods of disrupting the system and the coded language that they used as their base of understanding, and power. Is this not even more true today—when it seems that we are ever so more dependent on words and images to define our perceptions?

    Is not the mass medias almost a form of magic in most peoples lives—turn the TV on and the tribal stories are broadcast from the hearth of your living room and the smoke signals of info are distributed to the family—turn on the computer and miraculously we can fly to any part of the world—just among our small group—when was the last time one of us spent a whole day in which we didn’t recive some kind of mediated input (books, magazines, radio, tv, film, internet, etc).

    What power is there in producing transgressive materials that seek to wreck havoc on the codes of the dominant culture? I don’t know to any degree of clarity, but I wonder if the many people who have pointed out that when we engage in straight binary resistance to the system we are only reinforcing that system, I wonder if they have a point—that is to say, that in resisting the dominant culture straight on we help them to define themselves and to point at easily recognizable, definable, and soon to be specularized deviants who can be set up as the new boogeyman. I know I’m rambling a bit here—but what do you all think?

    Gabriel wrote— It's a blood given that corporate giants and political hacks are ruthless sluts. It’s in their ideological DNA. But why should that stop anyone with enough guts and stamina to be different, to risk it all, to tear down the walls of a slum, and build afresh, a new way of thinking; no matter how we cut the ideological cake trailblazers can't afford to be whiners (see Henry Miller's Cosmological Eye). Of course everyone wants to be the hot new thing, if only to themselves, and if they fail, they usually become grumpy old whiners accusing the system of foul play.

    But then Cobain and Steinbeck chose very different paths to avoid the pains of their success. Ghandi could have been a very rich man, he declined. What's wrong with making money, if one spends it well. Bill Gates is a jolly liar as his testimony before the US Department of Justice in his anti-trust litigation is proving, but he has frequently said that he doesn't believe in leaving amassed fortunes to heirs. If he spent enough millions on truly changing the landscape of certain depressed areas, why would not his taxations of those peoples and organizations that COULD afford it, be forgivable.

    You see, there are so many complex choices presented to us, but we stumble around and usually end up either goofing along picking up a few addictions which insult our biology and agenda for happiness, or else we opt into nosing the grindstone a slave to production so that we also pick up a few addictions that insult our biology and agenda for happiness.

    The key, as a few savvy Greeks agreed, was moderation in all things. But few of us (and I’m one of 'em, unfortunately) can't learn to implement moderation in our lives because we are ruled by addictive personalties, and as Tolstoy (modernized) put it, it does us no good to beat ourselves up over one addiction only to have another two or three rush in to take its place. Whether we're talking substance abuse, laziness, addiction to work, sex, well hell, you know what I mean, it's all the same problem child within us.

    Good news is that when faced with a ruthless giant, nature seems to transform us into thinking we’re a giant killer. Not too long ago the Internet founders (a cluster of old hippies and nerds) threatened to bring the world together in a non-commercialized free-spirited community. Then Mammon got a whiff of what was happening, and started pissing in the pond. Well, we can't stymie that but we can work like hell to keep the original spirit alive, and do what we can to advocate the world we want, never flinching, but rather calling for a cease-fire to all this whining.

    I don't mean lay down your intellectual arms and join the enemy, but simply to accept the challenge of David & Goliath, forge partnerships, or lessen one's sights at directly competing, but more often than not merely supplementing the bullies, by carving out a solid niche from which we embark upon that brave, new world, regardless of who is watching, who is following, or who gives a flying carpet ride one way or the other.

    Books? Yes, more books are being published than ever before, but are we any closer to changing the world, if indeed that is the stated goal of the persuaders?

    Crash writes—niche carving is a very good method of slicing into mediated realms (hey Manus, I’m starting to sound like one of those video game players) and setting up zones of operation (much like Gabriel has started here).

    Gabriel wrote—Writers have never had more freedom (despite all the Internet porn busts smelling up the coffeehouse) in history. Recall Voltaire, Rousseau, running for their lives, hiding in exile, poverty, and scorn save the intellectual and financial graces of the few. We artists (if indeed we are artists, and not simply poseurs seeking escape from responsibility) in the west now have such an accelerated vision of freedom, we think we are living in especially perilous times, and in the supertechnological superpolitical sense we perhaps are, but we have also never been more free to express ourselves (no artist was born guarateed fame, riches, or readers).

    Despite my own yearning to burst out of my skin to trumpet the last charge on a world corrupted by its own sense of infallibility whether originating from the right or the left, capitalism or marxism, I am convicted by my own sense of limitation, not always imposed from the outside, but often enough a consequence of my own choices, and those of my genetic bearing. How can I blame someone else for that?

    Crash writes—yes, more books than ever are being published—but what kind of books—i have no problem with the consumption of brain candy—as Manus knows when I just told him about Joe Lansdale’s thrillers. But there is no need to legally pursue dangerous writers or artists anymore—becausethey are drowned out in the flood of product that dominates the market. And who is controlling what is published? What books are advertised—open up any advertisement for a book store and peruse what is put before consumers—walk through your Barnes and Nobles, your Borders?

    In the 1960s there were more than a hundred substantial publishers in NYC alone. By 1980 there were only 70; by 1995 the number had dropped down to 15, and presently, through further merging there is only 5! Major publishers and these subsequential others are also tied in with the producers of other mass mediums. Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m crying that the sky is falling down—but this must be disturbing in some way.

    True, the market is flooded with books like never before (as well as other forms of info) but what are these texts? Of course once again this is also a benefit to us and others who seek difference. As the mainstream producers continue to narrow their fields of interest and seek to the common denominator it opens up the possibility for very viable and strong niches of operation for smaller more specialized organizations—so perhaps this is a mixed blessing. Are we ourselves cultivating some form of sub-cultural capital—as we are all thinking on these days—what is our true goals in these efforts—do we intend to do something to challenge the hierarchal stratification of society—the mind-numbing mediatized comformity?

    Gabriel wrote—Again Crash, when I look around these here parts I don't see this world as one straitjacketed by conformity (although I surely hear and read a lot of noise to the contrary). In the greater populations (putting aside the corporate merger trend which is just the opposite than what is happening in the de-centralized neighborhoods and streets, but I guess we have Debord to explain this cause and effect to us). I nevertheless see cat fights and dog bones between warring factions along every corridor as soldiers of each faction scrawl hard lines of demarcation to help solidify a turf. Bias to difficult, damn near impossible to extricate from the common mind.

    *Your Australia may be very different from my America, but when I see a group of folks working and playing in harmony I marvel at how the group has conformed to an ideal so often missing on the street, in the universities, on certain ballclubs, in art snot piss fights, no one simply content to be different hanging on the same street corner or intellectual counterpoint but everyone bucking for superiority status.

    Competition ain't dead, and if competition is not dead, how can we also be lost on the mind-numbing mediatized comformity rap? And racial conflicts with their wealth of metaphors are the easiest to exploit. Debord had it right when he said the Spectacle tosses out two opposite claims and watches the skirmish in glee, knowing that the debate will roll on forever while the social structure remains the same. Superiority, that's what straw leaders are after.

    That ain't just a white man thing anymore, if it ever was (and I doubt that very seriously, the Euros just won a few wars at a strategic time in history, have gained and lost as a result). I know I'm guilty of thinking no one is my superior, and will fight like mad to prove how wrong I can be. The point is, the stratification of society is just something we're going to have to accept because it is a rather natural phenomenon despite its excesses and inherent unfairness. I agree with Matthew's proclamation of a couple of posts back:

    "...abolishing hierarchies is as impossible as abolishing the state. Let's face it—anarchy without hierarchy just ain’t never gunna happen, that's my opinion anyway."

    As for "sub-cultural capital", methinks I'd like to see some elaboration on the concept. I'm not sure what you're suggesting. And since I've ranted enough today I'd rather not go barking down a cold trail.

    Crash writes—I don't know—i see a lot more conformity than you do—maybe it’s because I view the system (in the US) as encouraging a cultivated form of difference and that its ability to immediately suck up and spit out a clean, sanitized version of anything that may challenge its operations—a simplified example would be punk's howl of rage—short time of challenge—fear from the populace—by 1977 we see punk fashion on fashion runways, London newspapers printing articles on how punks are just part of the family, punk is cleaned, sanitized and marketed—dead before it gets started—it is now just another acceptable means of conforming, albeit leaving the troubled youth a bit of dignity in believing that they may in some way be giving some challenge to the system that they feel has excluded them.

    As for sub-cultural capital—it was an off-hand remark actually questioning my own purposes or intents since I believe we must question ourselves—and tossed out to everyone else—wondering if I may not be somehow cultivating a form of sub-cultural capital, a sanitized and safe form of alternative "cultural capital" (cultural capital cultivated artistic and intellectual capabilities that leads to your being valued by elites).

    As I said just questioning my own intent—I have a very good friend from eastern Europe who understands resistance to a system in a way that I never could, having grownup in the states where, although they will and do kill people for the wrong reasons, it’s not quite as harrowing and prevalent as the former soviet system)—she constantly keeps me on my toes about some of my *resistance* stances and leads me to question my intent (or as I think she may see it my overly romantic, overly idealistic views). So I guess this was a moment of self-doubt on my part. What do we see as the problem that we should be devoting our attentions to—we seem to be attempting to come up with plans of attack without really thinking upon what we want to change or what we could best effect with our efforts.

    Gabriel wrote—Elitism based on phony distinctions is a major problem, but hucksterism is its whoring stepsister. They hate each other, plot behind each other's arched back, spit in each other's intellectual food, kick each other's namby ankles, and attempt to steal each other's cultural graces without even bothering to shed its skin until it's absolutely forced upon them. Both exist across every social and economical class. Both breed mistrust and greed. Acknowledging their relationship to each other however they will bond together to thwart any and all those who stand in their way, that is to say, the vocal non-elitists and the few trailblazers committed to absolute (not to be confused with pre-conceived) integrity.

    And they often win their battles against the non-elitists and integriters because they appeal with flattery and spectacular powers in their search for allies among the spectacularized populations in order to defeat these enemies, these straight shooters, these few honest constituents of a better world once taught them in childhood mythos as sacred and worthy but ushered away as the real world ruled by this beast we have just described becomes clearly the prince of all that worships it, and reality replaces mythos as the battleground upon which we shed our blood.

    How do we attack this world of theirs, if we declare ourselves enemies of elitism and hucksterism, you ask? We must practice a more honest implemented form of warfare in putting our own personal spins on the solution, that is, we must know who and what we are, playing the humble idiot if we must, the loud-mouthed brute if we dare, but always, always keeping to the mark when it comes to personal honesty (read Henry Miller, enemies hate it when you've already laid all your own dirty laundry on the table, and they can't hose you with it in an ambush) and candor (without the elitism & hucksterism, we must define these values next) but I am still nagged by something Manus wrote:

    As I am being my honest self here, I must declare that I could give a fuck about 1) audience 2) viral politics or 3) allies until we here at SWORG have something to show for ourselves, namely, a unified schtick (as GT initially proposed) that gives us a raison d'etre as an active GROUP. My logic is irrefutable when I say that causticness is a necessary perquisite as egotism is a necessary perquisite to ANY activity in this warlock of cyberspace, and that we should not only solidify our reasons for existing, but assure ourselves that, yes, a bit of caustic bite really is the necessary fuel for lighting the fire of collaboration between ourselves, and initiating any engagements with OTHERS.

    Gabriel wrote—my visceral response to this outlook is negative, running contrary to my hypothetical Boy Scout nature, but I must reluctantly agree with the gist of Matt's statement, so I guess I am still fomenting the idea of caustic abruptness (as Landry will testify I'm no rookie rabblerouser) as it is magnified in relationship to my sensibilities concerning false elitism and hucksterism in the SWORG groupthink arena. But I still think the whole concern is rather premature since we have mucho mucho work to do in the chainthinking section of the site particularly since, uh, wait a minute, uh since, in fact, no one but Manus is privy to those earlier discussions which initially brought him into the Scenewash Project. Truth is I'm aware of no one but he who has actually signed onto anything but the SWORG-talk list, and believe me I'm far too jaded with past failed collaborations to presume ANYTHING about who is committed to what at present.

    Crash writes—I like your ideas on what we need to do—as far as moving past the abuses of huckesterisma and elitism. And I truly believe in the need to hone and develop a true system of personal honesty—nothing could be higher on my list—because i believe that is the key in my development and that it is also vital in my dealing with others (both my personal honesty and hopefully theirs). As for other efforts that are need here on the website—you are correct in your statement that I haven’t contributed to the Scenewash Project—because:

    A) I’m trying to get my thesis finished soI can get the fuck out of this college
    B) I’m trying to set up employment so that i dont starve when i do leave.
    C) These are extremely important to me, because I do not have a wife who will support me (this is what you stated Gabriel?) or Matthew's very important network of comrades or Landry's admirable corporate job or Rebunk's art criticism gig.
    D) So since I will be no good to no one living on the streets (least of all myself—trust me I’ve been there, and while fascinating I don’t really have a desire to do it again). I must concentrate on this in order to become more valuable.
    E) But what do you need—I write constantly—ask me I will write and contribute in any way—i will research what needs to be found.

    I hope that this is not a problem, but you must understand the situation that I'm in and that while willing to contribute to "our thing" I must keep a check on the very real concerns of food and shelter.

    Gabriel wrote—well, Crash, like the tagline goes, think globally, act locally, the cutting edge shimmers, and so drifts the echo, the pitter patter of dangling lost feet...

    Here's an example of what I mean about pinning the "tale" on the donkey, getting at the root of one's individual or collective desires in the seemingly vain attempt at rewriting the rulebook of human life on earth. Like much that passes for wit in the spam-o-world, these few lines exemplify a certain notion about human conceptuality, methinks:

    Reflections On Life As A Male
  • When I was 14, all I wanted was a girl with large breasts.
  • When I was 16, I dated a girl with large breasts, but there was no passion. So I decided that I needed a passionate girl with a zest for life.
  • In college, I dated a passionate girl, but she was too emotional: everything was an emergency; she was a drama queen; she cried all the time and threatened suicide. So then I decided I needed a girl with some stability.
  • I found a very stable girl, but she was boring. She was totally predictable and never got excited about anything. Life became so dull that I decided I needed a girl with some excitement.
  • I found an exciting girl, but I couldn't keep up with her. She rushed from one thing to another, never settling on anything. She did mad, impetuous things, and flirted with everyone she met. She made me miserable as often as happy. She was great fun initially and very energetic, but directionless. So I decided to find a girl with some ambition.
  • After University, I found a smart, ambitious girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, and married her. She was so ambitious that she divorced me and took everything I owned.
  • Now all I want is a girl with big tits.

    So again I am prompted to ask, "What does a would-be worldchanging revolutionary like ourselves desire in terms of a workable liberty for all? I hear plenty about injustice and those conflicting wills to power that we loudly boo at every turn of the screw, but I hear almost nothing about this brave, new world we all supposedly desire in our heart of hearts. Even when I do hear of some shimmering off the wall ploy, like Bob Black's "Zerowork, All Play" anthem to futurism now, in a solar system where the 2nd law of thermodynamics rules with an atomic fist, I see an all or nothing approach rather fetching in aspiration but far too reaching in terms of practicality or desirability, especially when much of the labor required to oppose entropy is merely camouflaged as play in a falsifying language, much like "political correctness" operates today."

    * I later realized my mistake in momentarily confusing Crash, an American then going to school in the Midwest, with another of our group, Reuben Keehan, who was the Australian I had in mind when I wrote that response.

    to be continued...

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    Originally published January 24, 1999 on the SWORG SWILL
    [an exchange on anachronistic metabolism]

    Of course the relative absence of laws and law-enforcers does not mean the absence of control or of social order. But when we speak of the inevitability of hierarchy, or of law, we have to remember that neither hierarchy nor law can historically be shown to bear much relationship to social harmony and order.

    Crash responds—true there was not the organized law forces in the Wild Westof America's infancy—but law was still enforced by those who were able to divvy up the cash to hire people to eliminate those that were a threat to their economic concerns—bounty hunters, less official hunters of humans, and Texas Rangers and sherrifs (often recruited from the forces of the outlaws themselves) were used to eliminate those outside the officially sanctioned economic activities—not to mention the brutal elimination of Native Americans and Mexicans—I can't weigh in on Britain's 18th and 19th centuries, but America’s was a time of brutal conquest, murder to eliminate those who were in the way, and suppression of the other—not exactly what I would call a more peaceful golden age—I'm kind of surprised that you would try to mythologize a grand golden past—this is a hackneyed old trick of the rank conservatives in our country who attempt to use code words from the past to make us regress and repress.

    Kubhlai retorts—Well that's not exactly what I said. During the two centuries of the Industrial Revolution our society was both stable AND miserable without an organized police force or mountains of laws. The fact that it was miserable not golden makes the fact that it was remarkably stable all the more fascinating (and sad).

    In the urban nineteenth century and in the rural centuries beforehand there was no universal or permanent police force, and immensely fewer laws or means of detecting trasngressions of them or of dealing with them from central government. There WAS social control, especially that which derived economically via aristocratic estates, and through the Church (which in effect was the precursor of the mass media since it controlled almost all information). Nevertheless, neither of these institutions had much need or inclination to interfere in much of the private lives of the people. In rural areas, way back into medieval times (especially prior to the normans) the economic interactions which held order together had even less to do with hierarchy being based almost exclusively on the exchange of goods and labour, not capital. Basically you grew potatoes and chickens and swapped them for apples and piglets. If the village didn't approve of someones goings on they would be ostracized—since they had no where to go, they would avoid pissing everyone off. (and no doubt if they were total nutters they would quietly disappear). The main controlling force was that each person was tied into the land they farmed, their village, extended family and manor and had nowhere else to go. There is a hierarchic relation in this but not a complex one with fulltime agents of control.

    Language also played a part—the aristocrats spoke french, later german. This ensured that the two differing lifestyles intersected little, and each must have had little notion of what it was like to be other than they were—but this isn't either hierarchy or law either, though it constrained social expectations and ensured that everyone had their place (a double-edged sword from a modern-values point of view, but harmony and stability-engendering none the less.) My only point is that centralized hierarchy and canons of Law are not essential for there to be a society that functions. I am not of the opinion that the absence of police and law was sufficient in order to call that earlier age "golden" or that the mere revoking of all law and the abolition of the police would deliver a better society overnight now. We cannot go BACK to that non-hierarchical non-centralized society, but it does suggest that we can go FORWARD to another one. It is obvious though that the police and the law exist today for a reason. It implies that there is less self-control in society now than there used to be, ie that its order has been disrupted by the state and that brute force now needs to be visibly deployed to reinforce its checks and control. This is my point really, that rather than "Law & Order" going together like "milk and honey" or "bread and butter" they are actually opposites, in that where you have a harmonious ORDER you have no need of LAW and its enforcers.

    Such order has rarely been achieved in any near-permanent forms (although the longevity of chinese civilization is an example perhaps), because societies always had exploiters, and the existence of exploiters reflected the fact that technology could not prevent shortages. This must have been a major factor in the bloody history of your wild west. We now have more than adequate technology to eliminate shortage, yet those in power see this very fact as a threat to their exalted position as exploiters. Shortages are artificially created, new ones invented. Technology is bent to control instead of to construction and consequently we have a small number of people with small minds wielding big weapons. This is our crisis.

    Shit! Didn't mean to sound like a redneck conservative.


    I write: Wow! What a crock of belly-warming bread pudding. K's rendition of an authoritarian-shy but miserable nevertheless past is rather tortured, especially for him, my esteemed English friend who usually honors us with his piercing profundity. The gist of his aurgument however is sound. We live in an age where but for certain spirits of "cruel and unusual" penchants for dangerous exploitation now scattered across the globe in critical places, the species might very well be capable of snatching a "better, more improved" civilization from the brink of the devastating collapse and unreparable destruction we all foresee and fear with unspeakable loathing.

    Laws and authority, however, exist from the beginning of time. The arrangements of molecules and the sciences of existence defy our attempt to reject conformity at the basic levels, while seeking to worship unbridled chaos and disunity. Nature, beastly power, religion, legislation, peer pressure, transcendentalism. All have taken a riveting shot at taming or at least shepherding the most basic instincts of earth itself, and this creature called mankind. A mutually assured misery tends to thwart all but the most ambitious of spirits in a time and location of widespread lethargy. Corrupted earth. Corrupted earthlings. Yet, despite our observations of (apparent) corruption, an astute prejudicial order does exist. However, it is our limited humanity's hunger and thirst to attain the incorruptable, the perfect, the eternal, the blissful, which always runs this discussion aground. This unfathomable unquenchable hunger and thirst brings us feast. It also brings us famine. Such is the nature of aspiration when in conflict with other realities on the ground. Frankly, I don't think we will solve this puzzle while wordsmithing over a free-range pizza with a cherrypicker mentality.

    In a philosophy clamouring for the participation of all, it will not be the masses, but the brutal acts or two or three ringleaders who determine with amassed fealty our collective fates. Such, it has always been. Unfortunately, these two or three will control and marshal the weapons of surprise and power in nearly all its wicked and wonderful forms. In deed. In spirit. Such as it's always been.


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    Originally published on June 20, 1999
    [by a member of the anachronistic SWORG metabolism]

    Well, I've been trying to throw in my lot with some kind of standard group or other for longer than I can remember, for the simple reason that I felt it necessary to organize and coordinate in order to have a benign effect upon a hostile social order. But the trouble with all these groups is simply that they're all fucking wrong. This is not to say that I disagree with situationism (I want to live in situations!), anarchism (I want to be free!) or marxism (we must work together!), but as doctrines they fail to ensure the enlightenment of their own members, let alone society at large, and “therefore” one must induct that as worldviews they are not necessarily wrong, but they are certainly lacking.

    My opinion is that they all lack much the same thing—a sufficient comprehension of relationship and its role in the creative process (that is, in its creation of the future). Anarchists simply refuse to acknowledge the dynamic expansive essence of human nature—they fall back onto small fragmented self-contained worlds (two hippies in a tent on an allotment); the situationists fell into the pomo Sargasso of 'going with the flow', everything is permissible and utopia will build itself out of nothing at all ; the marxists developed dialectics—but only to the size of a blastocyst, then stopped. All those libraries of paper, all those pyramids of ponderings on what should be done in Somalia, Timbuktu, Peking when the truth is that their members couldn’t collectively make a chicken casserole out of a casserole and a chicken.


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    Thursday, September 20, 2007


    Photograph by Darrel V. Willis

    Originally published on November 5, 1996

    You have a point to a certain extent when you mock my statement that "there are two kinds of people in the word—those who vote and those who don’t vote." For even those you suggest that voting is a hoax, seem to miss my original point.

    I struggle with the question of citizenship, more specifically—voting or not voting. Many people suggest that voting is a cruel hoax, postulating with wimper and whine, that there is only one party, one slate, one candidate, and that’s the fascist corporate dog. Is this for real? Perhaps I am just a silly pawn participating in a sick process that allows the slave to choose his own master. Maybe I can't see the forest for the trees and am wasting precious brain cells worrying about this issue or that. I don't know. Do I betray myself as an artist and an individualist by convincing myself that citizenship, the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury is important? Socrates didn't think so. But then, Nietzsche thought Socrates destroyed the aesthetic of Greek tragedy, of philosophy.

    I am happy that I got up and went out to vote. I am happy that I took the time to read several perspectives on the issues, coming to my own conclusions, however petty they may seem on the worldstage at any given point of social struggle, and I don't have any regrets about voting for one of the big parties in spite how I believe the party system in this country is designed to keep new parties from arising. They make it so cost prohibitive, the only rebel we get to see rising from the dust is yet another rich little weasel dusting himself off with the people’s rag.

    I also think it’s a shame that more people don't see their right to vote as important. Imagine, if more people did, we might actually see some change. Whether that would be for the better is up for debate, but a true democracy would be one where every eligible citizen adequately informed rises to the challenge and casts a vote. The original idea was that the American citizenry should have a non-violent revolution every election.Of course this idea is naive, and superficial, bugt it is the spirit from which we embrace our heritage. That's what we should strive for instead of sitting on lazy, uppity haunches pretending that we're staging some big protest by not voting. I know a lot of people who don't vote and they don't vote because they simply don't give a rats ass not from some higher level of protest.

    I spit on the so-called "independents" determined not to be sheep by not voting. They are allowing their voices to be silent and are not doing anything subversive or meaningful by not voting.

    Vote. It's free. You can go to the booth and vote for absolutely anyone you want. You can write in a candidate. That would be much more effective than sitting on a couch with a beer and a ciggy pretending to protest with apathy. There isn't enough revolution happening right now. We perhaps need some voting booth agitation to get our juices flowing. Isn’t that spirit still available to us?

    But I digress.

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2007


    Speaking of Cartoon Rage, there's a new provacateur on the block. The spot-on main character in The Infidel, the upcoming graphic novel by the ex-Muslim Bosch Fawstin, is also an ex-Muslim cartoonist. This character creates "Pigman," a ruthless counter-jihad superhero, as a response to 9/11. His creating the Pigman comic book brings him face to face with the enemy: his born-again Muslim brother, who has become a jihadist.

    Fawstin writes:

    Once you allow the murder of human beings as an intrinsic part of spreading your belief system, and as a literal part of your 'holy book', NO irrelevant, out of context good can be claimed. No redemption is possible. Now, from my experience, most Muslims are simply better than Islam, and I attribute that to their humanity, to their ability to ignore Islam and its constant pull to influence the worst part of our natures.

    The moment Mohammad crossed the line and used his sword to spread Islam was the moment Islam was revealed as an even more impotent belief system than originally thought. Mohammad understood that without force, Islam would have died with him, and that tells you a lot about his ‘faith’ in his own religion.

    It all begins with Mohammad, it all begins with the nature of the man. He is considered the perfect man in Islam. So morality, when it came to Islam, was equated with ‘Mohammed’ and whatever he said and did. It’s no mystery that where Islam dominates, there’s hell on earth.

    We’re still looking for ‘the good’ in something bad because that’s our nature. We’re so healthy a culture, relatively speaking, that we're still confounded by what’s going on around us. We need to look to the good for the good and judge evil belief systems as just that. Jihad, holy war against all non-Muslims, [no matter WHAT Muslims would tell you about it being a ‘spiritual journey’,] is the heart of Islam, and without it, Islam’s dead. One Cannot moderate evil. It’s no longer up to Muslims to ‘reform’ Islam, we’ve seen that they’re not morally up to even considering the prospect of it. There’s only the possibility of absolute moral transformation, of a moral revolution of Islam by Muslims. But I don’t think they will do so without the entire world Forcing them to do so. Again, there is NO mass movement of Muslims who are looking to morally transform Islam, the very notion of it offends them.

    For our own good, the end game of this jihad, the time when we are forced to choose between us or them, [a day which Will come] is massive destruction of terrorist countries to the point where the Muslim world has NO choice but to join civilization once and for all. To the point where they stop looking at the world as the enemy and see that it’s been Islam all along that’s made their lives hell.

    I can go on here, may have went on some tangents, but we are in such deep shit with our sheer gutlessness as a culture in simply seeing the truth about the enemy that I fear it will take another devastating attack for us to see the truth and act on it, even if the actors are wretched politicians. But they will have no choice.

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    Let's review. Get back to basics. Let's start with an observation of Mark Twain, and dig into the “lies, damn lies, and statistics bureau” by way of the archives of Daniel Pipes...

    Three so-called fatwas (even a novice in Islam knows they do not fulfill the definition of a fatwa, which has to be written by a Islamic jurisprudent in response to a specific query) came out in July condemning the 7/7 attacks in London.

    British Muslim Forum: "Islam strictly, strongly and severely condemns the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives." (July 18, 2005)

    120 Canadian imams: "Any one who claims to be a Muslim and participates in any way in the taking of innocent life is betraying the very spirit and letter of Islam." (July 21, 2005)

    Fiqh Council of North America: "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives." (July 28, 2005)

    Non-Muslims can be forgiven if they assume the reference to "innocent lives" includes those traveling on the Underground and bus lines in London earlier in the month. But the term "innocent lives" can be much more restricted in application, as a fascinating article in today's Sunday Times (London) makes clear.

    Titled "Undercover in the academy of hatred," it is based on the covert research by Ali Hussain of the newspaper's Insight team. Ali joined the Saviour Sect in June, a few weeks before the 7/7 bombings and took along his tape recorder. What he heard is hair-raising—it is imperative for Muslims to "instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar," "I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist," "They will build tall buildings and we will bring them down," the bombings were "a good start" and Allah should "bless those involved"

    He also heard two speakers discuss whom they consider to be innocent.

    Zachariah, referring to the London passengers: "They're kuffar [infidels, kafirs]. They're not people who are innocent. The people who are innocent are the people who are with us or those who are living under the Islamic state."

    Omar Bakri Mohammed, the sect's leader, who on July 20 publicly condemned the deaths of "innocents," but at the Selby Centre in Wood Green, north London, on July 22 referred to the 7/7 bombers as the "fantastic four" and explained that his grief for the "innocent" applied only to Muslims. "Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar."

    (1) Muslim statements condemning the killing of "innocents" cannot be taken at face value but must be probed to find out who exactly are considered innocent and who not. In brief, Can infidels be innocents?

    (2) For other assessments of the U.S. "fatwa," see the critiques of Abul Kasem, Yehudit Barsky, Steven Emerson, Christopher Orlet Steven Stalinsky, and the United American Committee, as well as the interesting quotations in an Associated Press report. See the fine analysis of the Canadian statement by David Ouellette.

    (3) These documents fit a pattern of dissembling by Islamist organizations; for another example, see "CAIR's Phony Petition."
    (August 7, 2005)

    Aug. 10, 2005 update: Anjum Chaudri, a follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed and UK leader of the radical al Muhajiroun, appeared on the BBC program HARDtalk where the following exchange took place (at 4:20 minutes) with the host, Stephen Sackur:

    Sackur: I just wonder why you won't condemn it when your own leader, Omar Bakri, said quite simply, "I condemn the killing of innocent people," on the 20th of July. Why won't you say what he said?

    Chaudri: No, at the end of the day innocent people—when we say innocent people we mean Muslims. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, they have not accepted Islam, and as far as we are concerned, that is a crime against God.

    Sackur: I want to be clear about what you are saying—this is very important—you are saying that only Muslims can count as innocent people?

    Chaudri: As far as far as Muslims are concerned , you are innocent if you are a Muslim—then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are a non-Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God.

    Comment: "When we say innocent people we mean Muslims" – one cannot put it more clearly or starkly than that.

    Aug. 30, 2005 update: In a bellicose interview in Lebanon (where he may feel he has nothing to lose in being more candid), Omar Bakri Mohammed publicly came close to confirming the above sentiments. He was questioned by Sanaa al Jack of Ash-Sharq al-Awsat:

    (Q) you said that you are against killing innocent people and have nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda Organization. Now you are calling for jihad. How do you explain your position?
    (A) I have often repeated that I am against the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world but who are the innocent? I keep the answer to myself.

    Q) Who do you define as innocent?
    (A) The innocent people are specified by Islam. I denounce killing innocent people regardless of who kills them. However, who are the innocent? I do not have to explain this issue.

    (Q) Does this mean that you support killing those whom you consider guilty and those whom Islam as you understand it describes as not innocent?
    (A) I support what the Sunni Muslim youths in Lebanon believe in.

    (Q) What about killing in general?
    (A) Sister, I do not say that I support killing in general. You said that.

    (Q) But you alluded to a classification of innocent people. Does this mean that you support jihad in certain areas because of things that are being done against Islam?
    (A) Do you think that the Palestinian resistance is not right?

    (Q) I am not giving an opinion, I am asking about your point of view.
    (A) I am against killing innocent people and I repeat this everywhere. This is my personal position.

    Sep. 15, 2005 update: A Pakistani veteran of the jihad, Khalid Khawaja, explains his understanding of "innocents" this way to Steward Bell (as quoted in Bell's new book, The Martyr's Oath, p. 81): "We don't believe in killing innocent people but we would certainly like to send you into the Stone Age the same way you have sent us into the Stone Age."

    May 19, 2006 update: MEMRI reveals today that Salah Sultan, a signatory of the above Fiqh Council of North America fatwa and a mainstay of the Islamist establishment in the United States, spoke two days ago on Al-Risala TV channel, where he blamed 9/11 on the U.S. government ("The entire thing was of a large scale and was planned within the U.S., in order to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world"). He also praised Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani ("he is known worldwide for his refinement, virtue, and broad horizons"), although the U.S. government has categorized Al-Zindani as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" because of his loyalty to Osama bin Laden and his support of Al-Qaeda.

    And thanks to Robert Spencer:

    Let's fire off a brief note to those CAIR types, explaining that the coinage of the term "Islamophobia" is an exercise in blaming the victim, and that if Muslims want to end "Islamophobia" instantaneously, here's how they can do it:

    1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
    2. Renounce definitively not just "terrorism," but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means.
    3. Teach Muslims the imperative of coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis.
    4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
    5. Actively work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

    If Muslims do those five things, voila! "Islamophobia" will vanish. No UN program, and no action by European governments will be needed.

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007


    by Michael Barone - Creators Syndicate, Inc.

    "Never in the history of the United States had lawyers had such extraordinary influence over war policy as they did after 9/11." Those are the words of Jack Goldsmith, the Harvard law professor who was one of those lawyers, as head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004. They appear in his book "The Terror Presidency," hailed as a criticism of the Bush administration's legal policies, which in part it is. Believing that some of his predecessor's opinions, particularly two on interrogation techniques, were "deeply flawed," he reversed them. He argues that the administration would have ended up with more latitude in fighting terrorism if it had worked with Congress to get legislation, even if those laws would not have been as expansive as the administration wanted. It's a serious argument, and he also presents fairly, I think, the opposing view that such restrictions would make it harder to protect the American people.

    But anyone who goes beyond the first newspaper stories and reads the book will find another message. For one thing, Goldsmith also supports many much-criticized policies—the detention of unlawful combatants in Afghanistan and their confinement in Guantanamo, trials by military commissions, the terrorist surveillance program. And he rejects the charge that the administration has disregarded the rule of law. Quite the contrary. "The opposite is true: the administration has been strangled by law, and since September 11, 2001, this war has been lawyered to death." There has been a "daily clash inside the Bush administration between fear of another attack, which drives officials into doing whatever they can to prevent it, and the countervailing fear of violating the law, which checks their urge toward prevention."

    It was not always so, he points out. In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt ordered military commissions to try the eight Nazi saboteurs who had landed on our shores; the Supreme Court unanimously approved, and six were executed six weeks after they were apprehended, to the applause of the media of the day. But FDR "acted in a permissive legal culture that is barely recognizable to us today."

    In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, Congress passed laws that criminalized military and civilian officers who broke the rules on electronic surveillance and detainee treatment: "the criminalization of warfare." Its ban on political assassination deterred the Clinton administration from gunning down Osama bin Laden. The CIA has become so wary of possible criminal charges that it urges agents to buy insurance. Developments in international law, especially the doctrine of universal decision, also threaten U.S. government officials with possible prosecution abroad. All of this creates a risk-averseness that leaves us more vulnerable to terrorists.

    The CIA today employs more than 100 lawyers, the Pentagon 10,000. "Every weapon used by the U.S. military, and most of the targets they are used against, are vetted and cleared by lawyers in advance," Goldsmith notes. In this respect, the national security community resembles the larger society. As Philip Howard of Common Good points out, we are stripping jungle gyms from playgrounds and paying for unneeded medical tests for fear of lawsuits.

    The audiotapes released last week of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's interrogation remind us that we are faced with evil enemies and that getting information from them can save lives. Goldsmith, who withdrew his predecessor's interrogation opinions, nevertheless understands this and makes a strong case that our national security apparatus is overlawyered.

    Most Americans seem to agree; an Investor's Business Daily poll shows that more than 60% of Americans—and majorities of Democrats as well as Republicans—favor wiretapping terrorist suspects without warrants, increased surveillance, retaining the Patriot Act and holding enemy combatants at Guantanamo. Unfortunately, the 30% or so who disagree are disproportionately represented in the legal profession and in the media.

    The 1970s laws that have helped produce the overlawyering of this war were prompted by the misdeeds of one or two presidents. But they will hamper the efforts of our current president as well as his successors in responding to a threat that is likely to continue for many years to come.

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    Friday, September 14, 2007


    "Nothing is more embarrassing in the ordinary intercourse of life," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville 150 years ago, "than this irritable patriotism of the Americans." It was an era when Americans believed that their country was "God's new Israel," that they were a chosen people.

    On July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary to the day of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had died within hours of each other, inspiring a now forgotten but typical orator to find "the finger of Providence" in the coincidence: "It hallows the Declaration of Independence as the Word of God. that promises its principles shall be eternal, and their dissemination universal over the earth."

    It was a common boast at the time and for years afterward: the self-invention of a republic would set an example for the corrupt and cynical regimes of the Old World, and any foreigner who suggested otherwise was quickly told that criticisms of the young country must be limited to the quality of its climate and soil. "Even then," Tocqueville noted, "Americans will be found ready to defend both as if they had cooperated in producing them.''

    Today it sometimes seems to be Americans themselves who are most embarrassed by the swaggering patriotism that irritated Tocqueville. Having lost its innocence in the first half of the century, the United States has proceeded in the second half to lose much of its self confidence as well. It makes a too-familiar litany: assassinations, race riots, war, Watergate, oil embargoes, inflation all culminating in the humiliation in Teheran and the charred bodies at Desert Storm. As the laidback generation of the 1970s becomes the laid off generation of the '80s, an almost un-American apathy may even arise.

    -from a Newsweek article published in 1983

    Now here's another charming bit of jolt juice I found on the web today. The two opinions (1) and (2):

    (1) It was common know years ago, Americans believed that their country was "God's new Israel," that they were a chosen people. But today that knowledge is hidden, forgotten, hated and denied by the clergy.

    (2) Today, anyone can freely say that the Jews are God's Chosen and Palestine is the land of regathered Israel.

    But, if you repeat what your great grandfather knew for a fact, (1) then you may be called a neo-Nazi, anti-Semite, hater or bigot. One opinion (2) is politically correct, blessed by the both politician and clergy. The other opinion (1) is now almost a 'thought crime.'

    Somehow I think there is a third opinion. We are all God's chosen people. It's just that most people just don't believe it and try to demonize others on abstract grounds that have nothing to do with any of the political, religious, ethnic, economical, or behavioral dichotomies which land each of us in so much dung every time we try to step outside the box of false consciousness.

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    It seems that every generation has its Shylock—a despised financier blamed for the economic problems of his day. A couple of decades ago it was Michael Milken and his “junk” bonds. Today it is the mortgage bankers who, over the past few years, lent billions of dollars to home buyers—hundreds of thousands of whom are now delinquent or in default on their loans. This “sub-prime mortgage crisis” is negatively affecting the broader financial markets and the economy as a whole. The villains, we are told, are not the borrowers—who took out loans they could not afford to pay back—but the moneylenders—who either deceived the borrowers or should have known better than to make the loans in the first place. And, we are told, the way to prevent such problems in the future is to clamp down on moneylenders and their industries; thus, investigations, criminal prosecutions, and heavier regulations on bankers are in order.

    Of course, government policy for decades has been to encourage lenders to provide mortgage loans to lower-income families, and when mortgage brokers have refused to make such loans, they have been accused of “discrimination.” But now that many borrowers are in a bind, politicians are seeking to lash and leash the lenders.

    This treatment of moneylenders is unjust but not new. For millennia they have been the primary scapegoats for practically every economic problem. They have been derided by philosophers and condemned to hell by religious authorities; their property has been confiscated to compensate their “victims”; they have been humiliated, framed, jailed, and butchered. From Jewish pogroms where the main purpose was to destroy the records of debt, to the vilification of the House of Rothschild, to the jailing of American financiers—moneylenders have been targets of philosophers, theologians, journalists, economists, playwrights, legislators, and the masses.

    Major thinkers throughout history—Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, to name just a few—considered moneylending, at least under certain conditions, to be a major vice. Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and modern and popular novelists depict moneylenders as villains.

    Today, anti-globalization demonstrators carry signs that read “abolish usury” or “abolish interest.” Although these protestors are typically leftists—opponents of capitalism and anything associated with it—their contempt for moneylending is shared by others, including radical Christians and Muslims who regard charging interest on loans as a violation of God’s law and thus as immoral.

    Moneylending has been and is condemned by practically everyone. But what exactly is being condemned here? What is moneylending or usury? And what are its consequences?

    Although the term “usury” is widely taken to mean “excessive interest” (which is never defined) or illegal interest, the actual definition of the term is, as the Oxford English Dictionary specifies: “The fact or practice of lending money at interest.” This is the definition I ascribe to the term throughout this essay.

    Usury is a financial transaction in which person A lends person B a sum of money for a fixed period of time with the agreement that it will be returned with interest. The practice enables people without money and people with money to mutually benefit from the wealth of the latter. The borrower is able to use money that he would otherwise not be able to use, in exchange for paying the lender an agreed-upon premium in addition to the principal amount of the loan. Not only do both interested parties benefit from such an exchange; countless people who are not involved in the trade often benefit too—by means of access to the goods and services made possible by the exchange.

    Usury enables levels of life-serving commerce and industry that otherwise would be impossible. Consider a few historical examples. Moneylenders funded grain shipments in ancient Athens and the first trade between the Christians in Europe and the Saracens of the East. They backed the new merchants of Italy and, later, of Holland and England. They supported Spain’s exploration of the New World, and funded gold and silver mining operations. They made possible the successful colonization of America. They fueled the Industrial Revolution, supplying the necessary capital to the new entrepreneurs in England, the United States, and Europe. And, in the late 20th century, moneylenders provided billions of dollars to finance the computer, telecommunications, and biotechnology industries.

    Read it all in a well-crafted article by Yaron Brook, writing for the Objective Standard.

    Now here is another view from a religious blogger:

    A long-existing and self-perpetuating tax-immune internationalist-transnationalist group uses fronts with inter-locking corporate and or fraternal group of individuals, whose membership is either secret or semi-secret, with undisclosed ownership shares, has usurped the sovereignty of borrowing national governments (who serve their lenders). It includes largely unrevealed yet reported campaign contributors who also control the media and press, all major political parties, and dictates presidential appointments. It abhors the direct issuance of money by elected officials and through the creation of a system of privately-owned and controlled central banks, holds all of the world's gold and all loan and mortgage paperwork.

    Its business is conducted in secret meetings which determine the future of all national economies and the timing of expansion (through loans) or contraction (through no loans). It exercises an exclusive monopoly of the issuance of money created out of thin air and issued solely as debt, does not create money to repay the interest, and lives off perpetual national debts that consume future income and under international law cannot be repudiated even by an internal political revolution. At least for others, it tends to be pro-bureaucracy, pro-abortion/population control, pro-government education, anti-family, anti-nationalist, anti-inheritance, anti-private property and anti-Jesus Christ. This group can demand special privileges and even military force to collect "national" debts.

    It plans to soon accomplish global disarmament (of both civilians and nations) and have a monopoly on force (including nuclear weapons). It has the privilege of a guaranteed untaxable income enforced by liens on all public and personal property and collected by the coercive force of the taxing structure of the various governments. The basis for its continued existence is continued usury and unforgiving collection of all debts resulting from committing the highest crime of usury.

    Mostly these latter day types blame the Catholic Church or the EU, or some secret Illuminati. And forget about these firebrand mullahs for a moment. What about the Chinese? Aren't they hacking into US government computers, salivating for the time of their own ascendency? Verily, verily, I say to thee, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world we live in these days...

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    Thursday, September 13, 2007


    Can you believe the pure genius of this beautiful, articulate woman? Who is she? Sarry Crey, that's who...

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    With all the recent controversy at George Mason University with regard to prayer rooms and foot basisn to accommodate all students but soon strong-armed by the Muslim population, let's state clearly that GMU should just get out of the religion business altogether. Yeah, outsource it. Convert the space to classrooms or storage and let students return to fending for themselves spiritually. The truly spiritual don't need the damned props. They can be flexible and adjust their own schedules and behavior to meet their needs. Props are only necessary for ritualistic cults.

    If this "meditation space" is officially non-denominational, and meant for quiet meditation, contemplation, and prayer, then several things need to happen.

    First, definition of the originally intended university policy for the use of the space when it was built needs to be dredged up out of university records, printed, and POSTED in multiple locations there in that space for all to read. If a disagreement arises, the rules can be referred to.

    Second, if barely anyone else was using the space except for the MSA, this does NOT mean it becomes the Muslims' de facto prayer space. It does NOT mean it becomes their "on campus mosque" by default. If the intended university policy was for the space to be shared, the Muslims MUST share. Their religion may teach that it supersedes all other religions, but there are lots of different types of people and if they can't or won't share, frankly they need to stop using that space and create one where they won't have to bully everyone else. I doubt they'll do's not part of their demonstrated history. But I hope they'll surprise me.

    Third, if in fact the space was intended to be shared equally by original official university policy, it is the duty of non-Muslim students who want to pray, contemplate, meditate, or simply sit quietly there to think by themselves, to point out the posted policy to the Muslim students, and tell them that they don't have a monopoly on the space.

    Fourth, the university needs to be taken to task for not having the stones to enforce its own rules.

    Fifth, if the Muslims don't like this scenario, they ought to consider leaving this country and moving to a majority Muslim country. In this country, public sites are supposed to be shared by all, equally. If that's an affront to their religion, they should go somewhere where they won't have to face that affront.

    In my youth, I would never have thought of arguing against the practice of religion on campus—what I continue to have a problem with is that one religion is basically being given carte blanche to take over a "public" space for their own use, permanently, while all of the other religious organizations on campus are forced to lease their own space. So things are not so simple anymore.

    Nobody is forcing any group of students to attend GMU. They can find a school near a mosque or a synagogue or a temple or a church or whatever somewhere. I'm sure there must be schools that meet these criteria. If a college near the desired house of worship doesn't offer the programs or the most favorable tuition—oh well, we all have to figure out what our priorities are going to be. Since when do we all have to be so pampered and catered to? How narcissistic is this expectation?

    I do believe private colleges and universities should be free to affiliate themselves with religious organizations (and to not be pressured to accommodate others), as long as they advertise themselves as having these ties. There are too many special interests out there to please them all, so why even try to satisfy any of them? It's not worth it for the friction it creates! Isn't it asking enough of universities to address special educational concerns, without meddling in ancillary crap?

    When are “Infidels” going to wise up to the fact that Muslims in the Balad al Kufr (the “lands of the unbelievers” or, another translation would be “the lands of the “unclean””) are here as the scouts and advance troops of Islam and their job is to stake out territory—physical, religious, legal. cultural, political, social—and then constantly expand that territory and advance the Jihad by terror or by intimidation, precisely the methodology the Qur'an dictates!

    This is the face of “peaceful” Islam, as it uses intimidation and all the weapons a democracy, political correctness and Infidel weakness hands it to advance the day when Islam will rule all. These university prayer room squabbles are mere baby steps here but unless stopped, and stopped hard, these Muslims will own the school in a few years, the state in a couple of decades or less and, eventually, the whole damn country. To see where denial, good manners, ignorance about Islam and appeasement is leading us, take a look at Europe and what has become of it.

    For those who think I exaggerate about Muslim’s mindset, I invite them to look at this recent Washington Post article examining the content of Saudi produced textbooks used to teach Muslim children in the U.S. including those in Virginia.

    I suggest that a reading of the Qur’an, Hadiths and Sira will show that rather than being just “hate ideology,” the beliefs and actions taught in these Saudi publications come straight from these three core books of Islam.

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    The U.S. Senate has dealt a likely death blow to the Bush administration plans to give Mexican long-haul trucking rigs free access to United States roads and highways. A bipartisan majority voted 74-24 tonight to pass an amendment offered by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., to remove funding from the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Transportation appropriations bill for the Department of Transportation Mexican trucking demonstration project. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., joined Dorgan as a co-sponsor of his amendment.

    "Tonight, commerce – for a change – did not trump safety," Dorgan said in a news release issued after the vote. "Tonight's vote is a vote for safety," Dorgan said. "It also represents a turning of the tide on the senseless, headlong rush this country has been engaged in for some time, to dismantle safety standards and a quality of life it took generations to achieve."

    A counter amendment offered by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was submitted in an effort to keep the Mexican truck demonstration project alive, even if on life support. Cornyn had proposed to allow the demonstration project to go forward, while reserving the right of the Senate to pull the plug if safety problems developed in the initial phases of the program roll-out.

    Cornyn's proposal was killed by a strong bipartisan 80-18 vote to table his amendment. Repeatedly, in arguing from the floor of the Senate for his amendment, Cornyn mischaracterized NAFTA as having created a "treaty obligation" requiring the United States to allow Mexican trucks free access to U.S. roads. Dorgan objected, pointing out that NAFTA was passed in 1993 as a law, not a treaty.

    The vote, taken on the evening of the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, represented a strong sentiment in the Senate that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the DOT inspector general had failed to make the case in their eleventh hour reports submitted to Congress late last Thursday that adequate inspection procedures were in place to insure that Mexican trucks would meet U.S. safety standards.

    Dorgan argued on the floor of the U.S. Senate that Mexico had no national database which would permit the FMCSA or the DOT inspector general to verify accident reports or driver violations of Mexican drivers or the reliability of vehicle inspections conducted in Mexico.

    Speaking in favor of Dorgan's amendment, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the issue really was "free trade" agreements advanced by the Bush administration that advantaged only the multi-national corporations. Brown compared the safety concerns of allowing Mexican trucks to enter freely into the United States with the safety risks raised by lead paint use by the Chinese on imported toys and Chinese pet and human food that contained poisonous or otherwise toxic elements.

    "We need to vote for our children, for our families, for our pets, and for ourselves," Brown charged, urging in an emotional plea that the Senate pass Dorgan's amendment.

    In May, the House of Representatives passed the Safe American Roads Act of 2007 (H.R. 1773), by an overwhelming, bipartisan 411-3 margin. The majority in the House opposing the DOT Mexican trucking demonstration project makes almost certain that the Dorgan amendment will survive when a conference committee reviews the DOT funding bill that will go to President Bush for his signature. The Senate is now considered likely to finalize the DOT funding bill today, with the Dorgan amendment included.

    "Because my amendment is identical to language already included in the House-passed version of this bill," Dorgan said in the press release issued after the vote, "I expect this provision will not be altered in the House-Senate conference committee and that we have, effectively, stopped this pilot program."

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007


    Tom Tancredo, while not the most fluent man on the '08 campaign trail, turned in a steady stream of talking points in the September 5 New Hampshire debate broadcast on Fox News. In my opinion, Ron Paul was quite keen in making his points. Unfortunately, while on September 12, 2001, I probably would have agreed withthe whole of his isolationist agenda (and still do to some degree), but today is a must scarier world thanks to the mishaps of the Bush administration, and I have suspicions that Paul is too attached to peace at any cost.

    I was also impressed with Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.

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    Tuesday, September 11, 2007


    A couple of years ago I watched a roundtable on television celebrating the work of Friedrich Hayek. It changed my life, by putting a mathematical equation to the test by postulating very simply that a centralized government can't possibly move as quickly or react with as much practicality to untold and unforeseen market forces as can thousands and even millions of self-seeking individuals each with an expertise specific to his niche. Finally the scales fell. It al made sense to me after all these years of struggling against the Left with regards to working capitalism versus idealized communism. Yes, capitalism creates its own set of problems, but these can be remedied within a free and bustling democratic system, whereas communism will always tend to stagnate into a totalitarian regime.

    Here's a quick introduction in pictures to the groundbreaking and influencial book, The Road To Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.

    Hayek’s central thesis is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny, and he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries which, in his view, had gone down “the road to serfdom” and reached tyranny. Hayek argued that within a centrally planned economic system the distribution and allocation of all resources and goods would devolve onto a small group which would be incapable of processing all the information pertinent to the appropriate distribution of the resources and goods at the central planners’ disposal.

    Disagreement about the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the central planners’ resource management would invariably necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved. Hayek further argued that the failure of central planning would be perceived by the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. Such a perception would lead the public to vote more power to the state, and would assist the rise to power of a “strong man” perceived to be capable of “getting the job done”.

    After these developments Hayek argued that a country would be ineluctably driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek “the road to serfdom” inadvertently set upon by central planning, with its dismantling of the free market system, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedom.

    Hayek argued that countries such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had already gone down the "road to serfdom", and that various democratic nations are being led down the same road. In The Road to Serfdom he wrote: "The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule."

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