America: vampire of the world (part 1)

Of course I’m constantly dreaming up new ways to seduce innocent, unwary young progressives into the dark nets of UR. I thought this title might be just the thing.

But I do mean it, though. Though I must note that by “America” here I mean the government of America, aka Washington, aka USG. America the continent is a wonderful slab of real estate. America the population is pretty great, mostly—including both its “red” and “blue” components. America the political structure is up to no good at all, and it needs to be stopped.

The idea of America as “vampire of the world” will hardly be unfamiliar to any American. Surely, if you saw an opus of the Chomsky school with this title, it would not surprise you. It is more or less impossible to escape from an American university without learning that one’s own country is a bloodsucking predator. So why should I bother? Hasn’t the point been made?

No, actually, it hasn’t.

The best way to understand the progressive mind is to think of it as a sort of magic trick. We live in a free country where anyone can think and say more or less what they want, and yet nonetheless—as Schopenhauer put it—“Clio, the muse of history, is as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.” Supposing for a moment that this is true, how could it be true?

Think of it asmagic. The art of magic is the art of tricking the human brain into constructing a false narrative of reality. Beyond this no generalization is possible. Any illusion is fair. The basic principle of magic is misdirection, but only in the crudest sense: when a magic trick is performed, the audience is typically looking right at it.

So what better way to conceal the reality that America is the vampire of the world, than for distinguished Americans—such as Professor Chomsky—to evangelize that very same proposition? The purloined letter is in plain sight. It is not, however, the letter you think it is.

Not that this is intentional—oh, no. The Chomskys and Burkes of the world are perfectly sincere. Like all the best magic, the spell is so strong that it works on the magus himself. Does this confuse you? Perhaps it should. Hopefully by the end of the post it will be clearer.

I’m afraid the title is not original. I stole it from Count Ernst zu Reventlow, whose Vampire of the Continent (1916), translated by the Irish traitor George Chatterton-Hill, then smuggled to New York by (I kid you not) U-Boat, is today available to all and sundry, courtesy of the innocent young progressives at Google Books. Read it now, before they realize their terrible mistake.

I can’t really endorse Reventlow’s Vampire. For one thing—unlike the aristocratic German nationalists I really do admire, e.g., Ernst Jünger, Ernst von Salomon and Fritz Reck-Malleczwen—he succumbed to the brown poison, i.e., became a Nazi. And Vampire is not about America, of course, but England. (The translation is half the length of the original—I’m sure any morsels of counter-Americanism were scrubbed for propaganda purposes.) Nor is it a terribly cogent piece of analysis. Reventlow often finds calculated malice where I see only accidental incompetence. He is, after all, writing war propaganda.

Vampire is still a fun read, however. I’ll bet you’ve never read any German World War I propaganda. Better yet, wash it down it with some Allied propaganda—such as George Herron’s Menace of Peace. Herron, who was perhaps even more Wilsonian than Wilson, was actually employed by that dear President as a peace emissary in negotiations with Emperor Charles. It is with great surprise that I report that the talks were not successful. I would quote from Menace of Peace, but I really don’t think any excerpt can do it justice.

Our goal today is to do for US foreign policy more or less what Reventlow did for its British counterpart. As we’ll see, there is quite a bit of continuity between the two. We’ll go from George to George—that is, George Washington to the Russo-Georgian war.

Let’s start with the latter. There are quite a few things that make the Russo-Georgian war fabulous, but the resemblance to the start of World War II is especially amusing. To delineate the resemblance, let’s play a little game. Who uttered the following quotes, A, B and C? Hitler or Goebbels, or Putin or Medvedev?

A:

All warfare is retaliation, all acts of war are reprisals, and everything appertaining to the enemy is a military objective. Consequently, such expressions as “reprisal raids” or “retaliatory measures” may be all right for civilians but they are not for soldiers. The “eye-for-an-eye” principle is old testament doctrine. In war’s new testament, if your enemy shoots your toe, you shoot his head.

B:

Whether the effort should be made to indoctrinate hatred toward the enemy must be considered a practical training question rather than a moral issue.

Since killing is the primary means by which the enemy is compelled to submit to one’s own discipline, one of the ends of the training must be to so indoctrinate the soldier that he is not only willing but anxious to work bodily destruction upon the foes of his country. That state of mind is not possible unless the soldier is motivated by hatred in the hour when he is at grips with his enemy.

C:

Let there be no more talk of war as if it were a sporting proposition fought under the Marquis sic of Queensberry rules. When a Jew / Chechen or Pole / Georgian acts sporting, it is time to smell a rat.

Since this is UR, you know the question is probably a trick. Indeed. In C, read “German” and “Japanese.” All the above quotes are from the following publication:

I came into my father’s room one morning to find him sitting beside the fire with a newspaper in his hand, looking very solemn; and upon my eager inquiry what had happened, he told me that Joseph Mazzini was dead. I had never even heard Mazzini’s name, and after being told about him I was inclined to grow argumentative, asserting that my father did not know him, that he was not an American, and that I could not understand why we should be expected to feel badly about him. It is impossible to recall the conversation with the complete breakdown of my cheap arguments, but in the end I obtained that which I have ever regarded as a valuable possession, a sense of the genuine relationship which may exist between men who share large hopes and like desires, even though they differ in nationality, language, and creed; that those things count for absolutely nothing between groups of men who are trying to abolish slavery in America or to throw off Hapsburg oppression in Italy. At any rate, I was heartily ashamed of my meager notion of patriotism, and I came out of the room exhilarated with the consciousness that impersonal and international relations are actual facts and not mere phrases.

Ah, Hapsburg oppression in Italy. How one cherishes, today, that lovely line of Metternich’s: Italy is a “geographic expression.” Does Georgia even reach that level? If it fell into the Black Sea, would cartographers notice? Alas, my notion of patriotism is all too meager.

The difference between good and bad nationalism is expressed nowhere more gloriously, or at least nowhere I have found, than in a 1930s-era biography of Mazzini by then Communist Ignazio Silone. Silone has a serious problem: he needs to explain the difference between the Risorgimento (good) nationalism of Mazzini and Garibaldi, and the Fascist (bad) nationalism of Mussolini. Take it away, Ignazio:

“In Europe today,” wrote Mazzini, "the word revolution is synonymous with the word nationality. It implies a redrawing of the map of Europe; a cancellation of all treaties based on conquest, compromise, and the wills of reigning houses; a reorganization to be made in line with the temperaments and capabilities of the peoples and with their free consent; a removal of the causes of selfish hostility among the peoples; a balancing of power note the British catchword—MM among them, and therefore the possibility of brotherhood. The sovereignty of that goal must replace the sovereignty of force, caprice and chance."

In line with that attitude Mazzini became the champion of all oppressed nationalities. The causes of Croatia, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, he embraced and defended along with the cause of Italy. One must observe, however, and in most emphatic terms, that the various schools of modern nationalism based on biological or racial myths have no reason to regard Mazzini as one of their forefathers. A criterion of race can serve, at the most, for classifying horses. Neither geography nor language nor religion is alone adequate for constituting nationality. One cannot deny that the Swiss people constitutes a nation, yet it speaks four languages, is part Protestant, part Catholic, and at a number of points in Switzerland cannot be said to have clearly definable frontiers. Nationality is an historical phenomenon resulting from a given evolution of human civilization within certain limits of time and space. For Mazzini the original germ of nationalism lay in the consciousness of a common calling, or mission. “Nationality is the share that God has assigned to the given people in the progress of humanity. It is the mission which each people must fulfill, the task it must do, on earth, that the divine idea may attain its full expression; it is the work which gives a people the right to citizenship in the world. It is the sign of that people’s personality and of the rank it occupies among other peoples, its brothers.” The more tenaciously a people cherished the consciousness of its mission, even under the rule of foreign peoples, the nobler would be the message that God would entrust to it for the betterment of all.…

Mazzini imagines his prophet people calling a world conference, a real “Council of Humanity,” to be attended by “those who are the best in wisdom and virtue among those who believe in eternal things, in the mission of God’s creatures on earth, in the worship of progressive Truth. And these will assemble reverently to feel the soul pulse of collective humanity and to ask of those peoples who feel a stirring within them but are uncertain of themselves and of the future: ‘How much of the old faith has died in your hearts? How much of the faith of the future has begun to live within you?’

A certain kinship of spirit and language may be noted between the messianic proclamations of Mazzini and the philosophy of Polish nationalism as preached about that time by Mickiewicz and Cieszkowski, a definitely messianic doctrine which, in view of peculiar circumstances in Poland, continues to count followers there even today. Never before that time had sentiments of nationalism been so lavishly exalted. But those patriots, it should be noted, did not think of a nation as asserting itself at the expense of humanity. In view of the fact that each nation had been created by God’s will, each nation was subordinate to a divine plan of universal utility. To violate the rights of another people was to do harm to society as a whole and therefore to oneself. The nationalisms so popular in our time are exclusivist, chauvinist, xenophobic, antisemitic, imperialist—in a word, reactionary. The nationalism of Mazzini was tolerant, conciliatory, humanitarian, cosmopolitan, progressive. There is little in common between the two systems. Modern nationalism is showing itself to be the enemy of nations.

If you say so, Iggy.

We’ll finish off next Thursday with part 2, covering the 20th century and solving the riddle of World War II. Which may already be obvious. But if it’s not, we’ll certainly beat it to death.

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