The View From Olympus: An Animal Shelter Foreign Policy

On Wednesday, June 4, President Obama spoke in Warsaw’s Castle Square. Responding to Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, the President said, as reported in the June 5 New York Times,

“Poland will never stand alone. Estonia will never stand alone. Latvia will never stand alone. Lithuania will never stand alone. Romania will never stand alone.”

After meeting with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Petro O. Poroshenko, President Obama added, “The United States is absolutely committed to standing behind the Ukrainian people and their aspirations, not just in the coming days and weeks but in the coming years.” Unaccountably, Ruritania and Graustark were forgotten.

This is an animal shelter foreign policy. Based entirely on sentiment, we are taking in any and every little country that somehow feels threatened by a state that actually counts. We equally “stand with” Vietnam and the Philippines against China, in an area long known as the South China Sea. Just what “standing with” means is left vague. Does it mean that if they get knocked down, we’re in a fight with whomever threw the punch? If so, the Obama administration is making one of the worst foreign policy errors a country can make, casually and thoughtlessly offering commitments that can lead to war.

Even apart from that risk, we are making a fundamental mistake. These little countries can do nothing for us. A commitment to them benefits them, but does absolutely nothing for us. It is to such a “giveaway” foreign policy that sentiment invariably leads.

In contrast, a foreign policy based on realism and interests would lead us to want big, powerful countries as allies, not little weak ones. The two most obvious candidates are Russia and China. Both could do a great deal for us. They have vast resources (Russia), a powerful manufacturing economy (China), nuclear arsenals, effective conventional armed forces, highly competent espionage operations, all things that could do us real good. What can Poland do to help us? Sell us cheap kielbasa? Maybe Romania can teach us how to steal.

Yet the price of playing international dog warden and filling our kennel with mutts and strays is that we are turning Russia and China into opponents. Just as they can offer us effective help, they can also do us real damage. What might result if they reciprocate our folly by “standing with” al Qaeda and the Taliban? Had either Russia or China supplied the Taliban with the latest shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, we would have been driven out of Afghanistan years ago.

History shows over and over again that foreign policies based on sentiment lead to disaster. They sound good up front to domestic audiences, who cheer as, depending on time and place, they ride to the rescue of fellow Catholics/Protestants/monarchs/democrats/Teutons/Slavs/etc. But because nations in a nation-state system have objective interests, the results are invariably unhappy. Policies based on sentiment end up working against interests, and in the end, it is the interests that count. Whether or not we “like” the current governments of Russia and China, our relations with them involve very important interests. We have no important interests at stake in Ukraine, or Poland, or the Baltics, or Vietnam, or the Philippines.

As I have written before, conservatives owe the Obama administration due credit for not getting this country into more stupid wars. We equally owe it condemnation for offering casual commitments to countries where we have no interests at stake, commitments that could result in future conflicts. As bad as the pointless war against Iraq was, it was less bad than a pointless war against Russia or China because one of them kicked a dog. tr favicon

The View From Olympus: Obama Gets It Right, Then Wrong

President Obama again showed his conservatism in foreign affairs when he announced that all U.S. troops would be gone from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, finally (and years overdue) ending our involvement in another failed Fourth Generation war. Conservatives have no desire to spend American lives or money trying to remake hell-holes on the far side of the world.

He then followed this correct, courageous, and welcome decision by getting the strategic situation wrong again in his speech on Wednesday, May 28 at West Point. He said, “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism.”

Terrorism is merely a technique, and the most part not a physically effective one. Other than the attacks on 9/11, terrorist incidents in this country have done little physical damage. The attack on the Boston Marathon killed three people.

Americans have been conditioned by excessive media coverage to react to terrorist events with panic, encouraged by the federal government because it facilitates government grabs for more power over our lives. Conservatives should see this game for what it is. Liberty requires courage, not hiding under the the bed while begging government to “protect us.” It will promise protection in return for our liberties, but leave us neither safe nor free.

What President Obama should have said at West Point was, “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to Americans at home and abroad remains the increasing weakness of states.” The decline of the state and the rise of non-state entities as alternative primary loyalties is the broader phenomenon that lies behind terrorism and a great deal more besides. It underpins growing waves of migration, which are greater threats to strong states than are occasional incidents of terrorism. Weakened states provide happy homes for a growing black market economy, much of which deals in illegal substances such as dangerous drugs and also funds international gangs, themselves a potent element in Fourth Generation war. The decline of the state means the 21st century will see a world increasingly divided between centers of order and centers and sources of disorder. The challenge will be for this country to remain a center of order, and that may prove a difficult challenge.

Some people who call themselves conservatives, such as senator John McCain, a man who wants America to be at war everywhere and forever, argue that we should attempt to maintain order around the world by sending in U.S. troops. Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan demonstrate where that approach leads, to American failure and, on the ground, more, not less, disorder. Because the origin of the state’s weakness is a crisis of legitimacy, foreign intervention tends to make a situation worse, not better. Any state established or maintained by foreign troops is, to the locals, Vichy.

In his West Point speech, President Obama called on Congress to provide $5 billion for a “Counterterrorism Partnership Fund” to train troops from vulnerable and weak states. $5 billion is excessive — $500 million might be about right — but the training idea has some merit, if two conditions are met. First, our presence in the country in question must be close to invisible. Any visible American presence will further undermine the host state’s legitimacy. Second, the training we offer must be appropriate to the host country’s situation and capabilities. Too often, we train the locals in our outdated, Second Generation conflicts and which the locals cannot in any case do because they lack the expensive systems for delivering massive firepower that it requires. Worse, much of the training we now offer is derived from “political correctness,” aka cultural Marxism, leaving us wasting the trainees’ time with Jacobin notions of “human rights,” “respect for women” (as defined by feminism) and other ideological claptrap that is irrelevant to their culture. The Obama administration is itself the source of the latter problem, so it should be able to fix it.

But the main task the decline of the state poses for for this country is isolating ourselves (yes, I just said the forbidden word) from disorder elsewhere. This means rigid limiting of immigration, especially those immigrants who claim “refugee” status (because they come from the areas of the worst disorder), preventing international sources of disorder such as Islam from establishing bases here, breaking up gangs (at some point we may have to make gang membership itself a capital crime), and building an American economy that does not depend on imports. It is difficult to isolate yourself from sources of disorder you depend on, as our relationship with Saudi Arabia demonstrates.

These, not terrorism, are the most direct threats America faces for the foreseeable future. Like most terrorism, they are products of the decline of the state, at home and abroad. Will anyone in Washington focus on the disease and not the symptoms?

The View From Olympus 34: Important New Book on 4GW

Much of the writing thus far on Fourth Generation war gets it wrong. Most frequently, the author does not understand that a generational change is a dialectically qualitative shift (doesn’t anyone read Hegel anymore?). Tom Hammes makes this mistake in defining 4GW as insurgency. Insurgency is clearly not a dialectically qualitative shift. States have been dealing with it at least since the Spanish guerrilla war against Napoleon, and so long as the fight is for control of the state, it represents only a change in means, one that more often than not fails.

It is therefore with pleasure that I can announce a new book that gets it right. The book is Winning Wars Amongst the People by Peter Kiss, a Hungarian-American who served twenty years in the U.S. Army.

Winning Wars Amongst the People gets it right in a multitude of ways. First, the author has a correct definition of 4GW. Briefly, he defines it as “violent asymmetric confrontation between non-state actors and the state’s security forces.” The book’s first table explicitly contrasts Westphalian conflicts and Fourth Generation conflicts in five different categories. Such categorization is useful because readers can apply it to whatever conflict they may face. In general, the book’s second chapter offers what may be the best single summary of all the generations, with the valid observation that it is premature to start speaking of a fifth generation. In my view, the Fourth Generation is so vast a phenomenon that it will take at least a century to emerge fully.

The second way Peter Kiss gets it right is that, having clearly established the theoretical framework, he turns to case studies, four in number. Case studies are an excellent way to study war.

Here yet another merit appears: the author is not politically correct. He does not look merely at 4GW in places like Afghanistan, where NATO’s failure means it is unlikely to undertake similar ventures in the foreseeable future. Kiss understands that 4GW comes to a theater near you, and for him (Kiss writes from a Hungarian perspective), that means Europe. One of the book’s four case studies is titled “France, 2005: The First Act of a Religious and Ethnic Insurgency.”

France and other European countries already face 4GW on their own soil—4GW driven by Islam. Kiss is not afraid to violate the dicta of cultural Marxism by recognizing this fact. He writes:

Islam does not accept the notion that certain areas of either public or private life may be outside its reign; it rejects the nation-state and subordinates freedoms and individual rights to the teaching of religion and the interests of the umma (Islamic community). Few Muslims have been willing to give up the teachings of their religion; instead, they have chosen to isolate themselves. They have rejected the values, morals, and laws of France and rejected the education system that would offer their children the opportunity to integrate into the host society … This carries within itself the danger that a steadily increasing proportion of the society forms a “fifth column” in the heart of the country.

The book’s last chapter considers how one state, Hungary, might prepare to meet the 4GW challenge. What applies to Hungary is relevant to other European states as well. While Hungary has a real conservative government that could consider 4GW objectively, the rest of Europe’s politicians including nominal “conservatives,” are so paralyzed by cultural Marxism they can do nothing. Those responsible for security in European counties, however, must think about the 4GW threat on their own soil, even if they do so quietly. The Ostrich posture will ensure only that Europe gets its bottom kicked.

The Works of Russell Kirk

One of traditionalRIGHT’s mentors and my greatest inspiration is the late Dr. Russell Kirk. Dr. Kirk, whom I got to know late in his life, was in some ways the only real conservative in the post-war conservative movement clustered around William F. Buckley and National Review. The rest of the NR crowd was made up of a collection of anti-Communists and advocates of a free market economy, both worthy causes to be sure but not the essence of conservatism. Dr. Kirk knew that, and while he wrote a column for National Review, he also wrote vastly more, works that embodied the heart of conservative thought, not merely its capillaries.

The word “vast” is appropriate when referring to Russell Kirk’s works because he wrote a great deal. Fortunately for those who would know real conservatism, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 2011 published a book-length bibliography, compiled by Charles C. Brown, of Dr. Kirk’s writings. The bibliography includes all his books, essays, columns, lectures, and novels (he wrote Gothic fiction) as well as translations of his works and reviews and other writings about him. The book, Russell Kirk: A Bibliography, is invaluable.

When facing the Everest that is Dr. Kirk’s published Nachlass, the question is, where to begin? It may be said of Russell Kirk, as of Samuel Johnson but few others, that everything he wrote may be read with profit. But neither that advice nor Charles Brown’s bibliography, which is not annotated, are enough for those approaching Mt. Kirk for the first time. So let me offer a bit of advice.

The best of Dr. Kirk’s books for the beginner is The Politics of Prudence. This work looks at a variety of components of the current conservative movement and topics facing contemporary conservatives from a genuinely conservative perspective. It warns conservatives at the outset against the foxfire of ideology. It discusses ten conservative principles, the conservative cause, ten conservative books, and ten exemplary conservatives . It considers Davidson and the Soutern Agrarians, the economics of Roepke, the cultural critique of the curmudgeonly Malcolm Muggeridge (who argued that “Once a society gets television, it is finished.”) and conservative populism. Prudence scourges the libertarians, cheers for the cultural conservatives (including a small institute I once led), recommends a foreign policy based on American interests (no “wars of choice,” please), warns against centralization, cautions about the risks of popular sovereignty, and ends with a dollop, no more, of hope. In short, it takes on a tour d’horizon of applied conservative thought, which is just the right place to start.

After The Politics of Prudence, he who would know real conservatism may plunge in where he wills, with Russell Kirk: A Bibliograghy as his guide. However, if he wishes to attain Everest’s summit, sooner or later he must tackle Dr. Kirk’s summa, the book which made his name and still his greatest, The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot. First published in 1953 and republished since in many new editions (some significantly different) , The Conservative Mind is essential reading for all conservatives who want to understand what they are at. I will not attempt to summarize it here, as it is too weighty for that. But if you want to know what traditionalRIGHT is all about, read it you must. If it daunts you at first, it quickly becomes a pleasure.

Dr. Kirk’s style was somewhat antique when he was writing, and may strike the reader as more so today. Remember that “antique” usually means higher, not lower, and better, not worse. Learn from it. You too may someday write.

Bon Voyage!

The View From Olympus 32: 4GW Lessons for Russia

Russian operations in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine show that the Russian military has learned some tactical and perhaps even operational lessons from Fourth Generation fighters. An article in the April 22 New York Times, “New Prowess for Russians,” states that Western experts

 see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign, and the use of highly trained special operations troops to seize the initiative from the West…

Military experts say that the sort of strategy the Kremlin has employed in Ukraine is likely to work best in areas in which there are pockets of Russians to provide local support.

By using small numbers of highly trained men whose uniforms have no national insignia, the Russian military is showing its understanding of the advantages 4GW elements gain from not being state armed forces. As John Boyd argued, ambiguity works as well as deception, and the ambiguity of the “green men” allows Russia a wide variety of options, military and diplomatic. Critically, it allows its forces to avoid the delegitimizing designation of “foreign invaders,” a designation the American armed forces suffered from heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan. If an operation fails, Russian prestige is not on the line, because it can deny ownership. If it succeeds, Russia can give the credit to the locals, strengthening the legitimacy of the elements it supports.

As the Times noted, the current Russian approach depends on a supportive ethnically Russian population. Here Russia has drawn on another aspect of 4GW, namely the fact that ethnic loyalty increasingly trumps national loyalty. By leveraging loyalty to “Mother Russia” among ethnically Russian citizens of Ukraine, Russia has been able to maintain a light footprint, reducing the diplomatic and economic price of her actions.

This, however, is a double-edged sword for Russia. The Russian Federation includes many peoples  who are ethnically non-Russian. Others can use them as the Kremlin has used ethnic Russians.

Here we begin to see a lesson from 4GW which Russia has not yet learned: once the disintegration of a state is set in motion, it is very difficult to halt or reverse. Russian actions are destroying an already fragile state in Ukraine. The Kremlin appears to believe it can spur or reign in state disintegration in eastern Ukraine, pushing it far enough to prevent Ukraine from joining the West but halting before the east becomes anarchic. That may be optimistic.

While the West assumes events in eastern Ukraine are driven by Moscow, just as Moscow says events in Kiev are driven by the West, there is increasing evidence that, green men or no, local Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are not taking orders from anyone. Local struggles for power and loot are becoming more influential than any outside actors. A “Brinton thesis” cascade of small coups, leading ever toward the greatest extreme, may already be underway. If so, chaos will spread, deepen, and defy all efforts at control, regardless of who is behind them. Moscow needs to remember that it can no more order the tide to retreat than can Washington.

For states, playing with 4GW is playing with fire. Some tactics and techniques may be drawn from it and used effectively by states. But states need to remember that those tactics and techniques work best in a weakening state and also contribute to a state’s dissolution. The emergence of new stateless regions is in no state’s interest. However clever its tactics, if Russia finds itself facing prolonged stateless disorder in eastern Ukraine, it will have failed strategically. A higher level of war trumps a lower. Stavka should know that, and so inform President Putin.

The View From Olympus 31: Blue Angels vs. Red Devils

The Blue Angels are the Navy/Marine Corps precision flying team. They put on a spectacular air show, as many Americans have witnessed. The flying they do, performing complex maneuvers at high speed in incredibly tight formations, is highly dangerous. Both American and foreign precision flying teams have suffered serious accidents with dead pilots.

Men who do dangerous jobs develop a uniquely masculine esprit du corps. Its atmosphere is unabashedly male: rough, humerous, and testosterone-fueled. It laughs at the foibles of women, gays, nerds, and anyone else who does not do a dangerous job. So nature has decreed, and no secular power can overcome it–though it may destroy it, and with the atmosphere, the unit and its abilities.

That is the future that fate, in the form of cultural Marxism, aka “political correctness,” now has in store for the Blue Angels. The April 24 Washington Post reported that a former commander of the Blue Angels, Capt. Gregory Mc Wherter USN, has been relieved of duty (ending his career) as the Navy investigates “allegations that the elite team of pilots was a hotbed of hazing, sexual harassment, and other forms of discrimination…”

There is no need for any investigation: of course it was. That is the culture of all teams of men doing dangerous things. It has to be. Case closed.

The problem is not the masculine culture of the Blue Angels, but the fact that cultural Marxism, as ignorant as it is arrogant, is determined male culture shall not exist. If that destroys the Blue Angels or any other organization, the cultural Marxists regard it as a good thing. Everything male is to be destroyed by being made comfortable for women, which is to say turned into a boudoir. Very few cultural Marxists go to air shows in the first place.

In the larger scope of things, the coming destruction of the Blue Angels is not of vast importance. But the moral collapse of our military’s senior leaders in the face of cultural Marxism, of which this is just one example, is important. We see it any time the military is accused of “discriminating against women,” which is to say recognizing that men and women are differnt, as they are. Forcing women into the service academies continues to do those insitutions great harm, because every woman cadet or mid knows she can ruin any male cadet or mid by accusing him of sexual harassment. Putting women into the combat arms will do enormous damage as unit cohesion is destroyed by men’s competition for the favors of the women. The politicians, with no resistance from the senior military, repeatedly put young men and young women in intimate situations, say “Tut tut now, no hanky-panky,” then crucify the men when nature takes its course. We need King Canute to take them all down to the seashore and demonstrate once again that governments do not have the power to hold back the tide.

Since nothing can now save the Blue Angels from the culturally Marxist Volksgericht, here’s an idea: let’s replace them. Dissolve the Blue Angels and replace them with the Pink Angels. In the Pink Angels, all the pilots and all the mechanics who work on the airplanes will be women. Given most women’s problematic grasp of spacial relationships (see who leaves their shopping carts in the middle of the aisles in the grocery store) and the difficulty of fixing delicate electronics by inserting a bobby pin, the results should be highly entertaining. Pink Angel precision flying will thrill audiences everywhere with spectacular sound and light effects. By all means go to see them. From a safe distance.

The View From Olympus 30: Justice Department Undermines Law Enforcement

It is greatly to the advantage of states to treat Fourth Generation war as a law enforcement problem, to the degree they can do so. Why? Because 4GW is a contest for legitimacy, and lumping 4GW fighters in with other violent criminals delegitimizes them. It also puts the state on an altogether higher plane, whereas a state that must treat 4GW as combatants puts them and the state on the same level.

Regrettably, the April 10 New York Times reports that draft rules for the FBI, issued by the Justice Department, will undermine our ability to act against 4GW elements with standard law enforcement techniques. The Times story says

The new rules, which are in draft form, expand the definition of prohibited profiling to include not just race, but religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation…

Before federal agents could consider religion or other factors in their investigations under the new rules, they would need to justify it based on the urgency and totality of the threat and ‘the nature of the harm to be averted,’ according to an official who has seen the draft.

That would not prevent agents from considering religion or nationality, but officials said the goal was to establish clear rules that made doing so rare.

In the real world, all law enforcement is and must be based on profiling. Cops profile on a wide variety of factors, anything that statistically is an indicator. They profile on race (the black rate of violent crime is twelve times the white rate, the Hispanic rate about three times), sex (almost all violent criminals are male), age (most are young), how someone is dressed, the make and condition of the car they drive, etc., etc., etc. Why must cops profile? Because there are so few cops as a percentage of the population, they must reduce potential “bad guys” to a number they have some hope of keeping an eye on. In a society where all profiling is banned, a condition toward which we are moving,, the ratio of cops to citizens needs to approach 1:1.

The new rules from the Obama Justice Department only apply to federal law enforcement agencies, at least at first. Various “advocates” will no doubt attempt to make them apply to all law enforcement agencies. Cops will respond the only way they can, by ignoring the rules. To do otherwise would be to give up any hope of enforcement.

Unfortunately, the FBI is our first line of defense against 4GW on American soil, and it will be crippled. All the forbidden indicators—race, religion, national origin, and gender (probably not sexual orientation)—are the fault lines along which Fourth Generation war is fought. Forbidding profiling on these bases is as if in World War II we had forbidden our soldiers to shoot just because someone was wearing a German or Japanese uniform. Obviously, that would have been insane. So is this.

Advocates for pools from which 4GW fighters are drawn know the score and are playing the game accordingly. The Times reports Muslims are not satisfied and want the prohibitions made stronger:

Farhana Khera, the president of Muslim Advocates, said… ‘We want an effective ban on all forms of profiling.’

Well, of course they do. All around the world, being Muslim is one of the most important indicators that someone may be a 4GW fighter. So by all means let’s pass regulations that say a 75-year-old Baptist grandmother in Des Moines must be considered just as likely a suicide bomber as a young Muslim male immigrant from Somalia.

Or Chechnya. When the identity of the Boston Marathon bombers was revealed, my first thought was, “Why are there any Chechens in this country?” Chechen is not just a nationality, it is a strong indicator that someone is trouble. Ask the Russians. They’ve known all about Chechens for more than a century. We should no more admit Chechens to the United States than we should welcome rabid dogs.

It is an indicator of just how far Washington has drifted from the real world that the Justice Department would issue these new draft rules almost on the anniversary of the Boston bombings. While in public the feds mourn the victims, behind the scenes they put out the welcome mat for more 4GW on American soil. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

A Cleveland Judge Enforces Cultural Marxism

A recent case in the South Euclid Municipal Court should warn conservatives where cultural Marxism is heading. It has long used judicial processes to enforce its rules on university campuses. But its goal is to use the legal system to cram its commands down the throat of every American. In South Euclid (a suburb of Cleveland), a judge did exactly that.

The facts of the case are these. In a long-running feud between two neighbors, one man had consistently harassed the family next door to him, including in ways that included assault (spitting on them) and damaging their property. The family included some disabled people. The harasser, Mr. Edmond Aviv, pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct.

Mr. Aviv had broken the law, and in consequence was sentenced to 15 days in jail, seven months on probation, 100 hours of community service and anger management classes, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer of April 11. So far, so good.

But the sentence did not stop there. The judge, Mrs. Gayle Williams-Byers, a black woman, further ordered Mr. Aviv to undergo personal counseling at the “Diversity Center of Cleveland” and to stand by a busy highway for five hours with a sign reading, “I am a bully. I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in.”

Apart from the brief statement of facts (“I am a bully. I pick on children that are disabled,…”), all the rest of Mr. Aviv’s sentence was pure cultural Marxism. The cultural Marxists insist on “tolerance,” by which they mean Marcuse’s “liberating tolerance:” tolerance for the left and its “victims” groups, intolerance for the right and white males (Mr. Aviv is one). “Diversity” is another culturally Marxist buzz word, which in practical terms means conservatives must live near and accept the behavior of people, again from among the politically correct “victims,” who do not hold or manifest standard middle class values. Nor dare we complain; we are just supposed to keep our mouths shut and put up with it.

None of this is to justify the behavior of Mr. Aviv, who broke some laws. But the South Euclid court to the contrary, “tolerance” (a la Marcuse) and “diversity” are not laws. The court was here enforcing an ideology, not the law. That is a direct threat to the liberties of every American who rejects cultural Marxism, as the law still entitles us to do.

The sentencing of Mr. Aviv to “counseling” at the Diversity Center of Cleveland is straight out of both Soviet practice (sending dissidents to the mental asylums) and Brave New World. Such “Centers,” or on campuses “Studies Departments,” are places where people are psychologically conditioned to accept, or at least not to defy, cultural Marxism. The origins of such places trace directly to Adorno’s book The Authoritarian Personality and the Frankfurt School’s integration of Marx with Freud.

As if all this were not enough, punishing Mr. Aviv by forcing him to hold in public a sign confessing his “sins” against an ideology reeks of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, where “right deviationists” and other dissenters from Maoism were compelled to do the same thing. The object in both cases was to subject the dissenter to public shame and ridicule and to warn others what would happen to them if they defied the state ideology.

But while cultural Marxism is the de facto state ideology both in America and in most of Europe, it is not yet the de jure ideology, at least not here. Courts must apply the law, not invent it. Of course, if actions such as that of the South Euclid Municipal Court are allowed to stand, they become precedents, which other judges can then cite to the same end, enforcing ideology.

Mr. Aviv served his sentence, at least the part that had him sitting by the side of the road holding his sign, rather than appeal it. But Judge Williams-Byers sentence, at least the ideological portion of it, is so lacking in a legal basis that it should raise the question of judicial misconduct. Members of the Ohio Bar Association and of the Ohio legislature would appear to have standing to raise that question. Let us hope that some of them do.

The Civil Rights Movement

I recently spent two delightful weeks in Dixie, rendered more so by the fact that in the land of wonderful pork, the Confederate government has outlawed Lent. Traveling with a friend, we stopped in one town in Alabama to look at a monument to the Civil Rights movement. I was struck by the fact that, in the Deep South, the story told on the monument was entirely one-sided. The only perspective represented was that of the blacks in the movement.

As an historian, I know that in any conflict situation, each side has its narrative. Accurate history cannot be written based only on the narrative of the winners. The losers also have a story to tell, and it is part of history. History based only on the winner’s narrative is mere propaganda.

Shortly after I returned to the frozen North, the New York Times (of April 6) caught my attention with a front-page headline that read, “Civil Rights Sins, Curated by One of the Sinners.” The “sins” in question were any opposition to the Civil Rights movement, and the “sinner” was the state of Mississippi. Once again, “history” is presented based solely on one narrative. But that is not all: the Civil Rights movement is in effect deified. To oppose it was and is to “sin.”

Here the hand of cultural Marxism reveals itself. Not from Marx but from Nietzsche the Frankfurt School drew the “transvaluation of all values.” That means all the old sins become virtues, and all the old virtues become sins. All types and varieties of sexual relations are okay, but anyone who defends local traditions against a doctrine of rights without responsibilities (as preached in Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization) is a “sinner.” Accurate history is not to be written, only history that serves ideological ends, especially “liberation.” Cultural Marxism yields the worst of all Puritanisms, Puritanism without God.

How should cultural conservatives evaluate the Civil Rights movement? Unlike the ideologues, we take both narratives into account, those of southern blacks fighting for Civil Rights and other southerners, mostly but not all whites, who fought to maintain the South’s traditional race relations.

From a legal standpoint, there is little question that racial segregation enforced by law was unconstitutional. However, there is equally little question that racial integration enforced by law is unconstitutional. Our limited governments, federal and state, were never empowered to regulate such matters by law. Freedom of association, which must include freedom not to associate, is basic to American rights. How people associate was left to custom, habit, and tradition, which varied place to place. The authors of our Constitution had no ambition to make life in South Carolina the same as life in Massachusetts.

The South explained that the Constitution’s promise of equality under the law was met by the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Cultural conservatives may find that acceptable, as reflecting long-standing local traditions. But realists that we are, we also recognize that the “equal” part of “separate but equal” was largely ignored. Facilities intended for blacks under segregation were almost always inferior to those intended for whites. That is not something we can find acceptable, because it clearly does violate the principle of equality under the law. The South should have been faced with a choice: either make the “equal” part of “separate but equal” real, or integrate. But the ideologues gave it no choice: under what was essentially a second Reconstruction, the South was forced to abandon freedom of association. Some rights, like some animals, are more equal than others.

The central question cultural conservatism poses to the Civil Rights movement comes straight from Edmund Burke. When asked to congratulate the French people on their new-found rights, courtesy of the Revolution, Burke replied that before we do so, we should see what they do with those rights. Cultural conservatives look at results, not merely intentions.

The results thus far of the Civil Rights movement point again to the need to consider both narratives, those of the winners and the losers. Southern opponents of the Civil Rights movement often said, “We know black people better than you do. We have lived beside them and with them all our lives. Without external pressure to behave well, their communities will fall apart.”

Some years ago, I was talking with a prominent Washington black at a cocktail party. He said he had just returned from a southern city, now suffering badly from black crime. Needing something late at night, he had gone to a nearby 7-11, where he got talking with the young black woman who ran the store. She said to him, “It’s gotten so bad, I wish we had segregation back.” She knew the urban black community under segregation had been a safe and decent place.

While the Civil Rights movement undoubtedly helped many blacks to join the middle class, something cultural conservatives welcome—we want an America that is virtually all middle class, not necessarily in income, but in morals, values, and behavior—when we ask Burke’s question of inner-city blacks, the answer is discouraging. Replacing liberty with license, too many have used the freedoms the Civil Rights movement gave them to wreck what were, up through the 1950s, safe, culturally middle class communities. Inner-city blacks’ lives today are on the whole worse than they were under segregation (de jure segregation down south, de facto segregation up north).

The realities are well enough known: an illegitimacy rate of 80%, a rate of violent crime twelve times the white rate (most victims are black), welfare dependency passed on from one generation to another, etc. Many young blacks now lack even the most basic knowledge of how to live: how to study, hold a job, clean a house, cook a meal. They are losing culture itself.

The role of cultural Marxism in all this is ironic. Blacks are one of the cultural Marxists’ sacred “victims groups,” the highest status one can obtain in that ideology. But beyond the rhetoric, cultural Marxism has done the urban black community harm that would have appalled Simon Legree. When cultural Marxism broke out of its academic ghetto and engulfed American society in the 1960s, white kids in college did whatever felt good, then went on to get their law degrees and MBAs and join the middle class. In the black inner city, they just kept on doing it, to the point where a culture of instant gratification is now general and, as always, catastrophic. It’s an old rule of history: when the upper classes catch cold, the lower classes get pneumonia.

More, because cultural Marxism preaches that all blacks’ troubles are the fault of whites (“white racism”), black racism, black hatred of whites, is now common in black urban communities. (In the rural and town [not city] South, I never encountered it; all the blacks I met there were as friendly as southern whites.) The message disempowers blacks, because if their problems are whites’ fault, blacks can do nothing about them. All the black urban community can do is wallow endlessly in its sins, until whites somehow rescue them (“reparations”). This is of course nonsense: earlier generations of blacks created a good community, one that revolved around the black church (you will never meet better Christians than the black church ladies), under more difficult external circumstances.

At present, cultural Marxism makes any real history of the Civil Rights movement impossible; it permits only hagiography. After cultural Marxism joins economic Marxism in history’s wastebasket and genuine history can be written, the history of the Civil Rights movement will take both narratives into account, those of the winners and the losers. When that time comes, the Civil Rights movement may be seen very differently.

The View From Olympus 29: Shooters and 4GW

The recent shooting at Fort Hood raises a question: do these shooters, whether military or civilian, have anything to do with Fourth Generation war? The answer, I think, is “not yet.”

Some shooters are clearly acting as 4GW fighters. The previous mass shooting at Fort Hood was done by a Muslim, explicitly acting as a jihadi. But so far, this situation is rare in the United States. It is more common in Europe, where Islamic populations in countries such as France are increasingly open about the fact that they are waging war on the surrounding Western society.

If we consider the large majority of shooting incidents in this country, including that at Fort Hood and the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, they are at this stage crimes, not war. Crime relates to 4GW in that it represents a failure on the part of the state to deliver what it promises, namely safety of persons and property. That failure is a blow against the state’s legitimacy, which is the main stake in 4GW. In countries such as Mexico, crime has grown so widespread and vicious that it has put the state’s legitimacy in question. The Mexican state has lost its monopoly on violence, not only to the drug gangs but also to growing vigilante organizations formed to fight the gangs. The vigilantes are attempting to fill the vacuum left by the failure of the state.

But to understand the situation here and where it may be headed, another question may be useful: what would it take for currently random, individual shooters to become participants in Fourth Generation war? The answer, I think, is connectivity. If shooters here begin to be inspired by other shooters, saying, in effect, “He went out and shot people because he was angry, so I am going to do the same, because if a lot of people like me do it it will change the situations that make us angry,” then you are looking at something more than crime. Such connectivity would create a new type of 4GW player.

It is important to remember two facts about 4GW. First, there need not be any overt communication or coordination, much less any top-down structure, among the fighters. One inspiring another to act is enough. This is sometimes called “leaderless resistance.” Second, 4GW players’ motives need not be political. 4GW is broader than Clausewitz’s “extension of politics by other means.” Intense anger, even if unjustified and mixed with mental illness, can be a shared motive, just as rational as faith in a nutty religion or mentally unbalanced adherence to a cause such as animal rights. Throughout history, many fighters, and many causes for which they fought, have been nuts.

Obviously, it is important that the American state not allow shooters to move beyond crime to war. There are two actions it could take that would help prevent it. The first would be to interrupt, as much as possible, connectivity among real shooters. That means forbidding any publicity about shootings or shooters beyond the local level where a shooting has occurred. News media would be banned from covering the incidents. As much as is possible, personal electronic media would also be prevented from covering it, though that is obviously difficult. The answer to cries of “freedom of the press” is that the press is no more free than anyone else to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater. Enabling shooters to connect and expand the frequency and casualty count of shootings to where it becomes war is the equivalent.

Second, the state could break the connectivity between potential real shootings and virtual shooters. Lt. Col. David Grossman’s work has established a strong and undeniable link between shooters and violent video games. Virtually every shooter, in this country and elsewhere, has been a heavy player of those games. The horrible Breivik massacre in Norway, perhaps the worst of all the mass shootings, was don by someone who played violent video games up to sixteen hours a day.

Virtual shootings can inspire real shooters just as powerfully as can other real shooters, perhaps more so because the violence is real-time and graphic. If the federal government wants to prevent more shootings, it needs to outlaw violent video games. It won’t, of course, because the game manufacturers give money to Congressmen, while there are no checks for legislators who want to ban the games. Maybe someone should put out a Congressional first-person shooter game where the weapons are checkbooks.

Here we come face-to-face with the bedrock of 4GW. The state is losing its legitimacy because it lacks the will to do what is necessary to maintain domestic peace. If shooters are allowed to build connectivity to the point where they move beyond crime to war, American society will suffer. Measures can be taken to prevent that connectivity and break it where it has already formed, between real and virtual shooters. But the state won’t act, because it is weak and corrupt. Why should anyone give their primary loyalty to an institution that does not deliver what it promises? That should be the number one question in all of Washington, but it’s not even on the list.