What’s Wrong with the World

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I see that Lawrence Auster has published A reply to Steve Burton over at View from the Right...

...wherein he quotes, with approval, the following, from one of his less critical admirers:

"I've got [sic] really tired from [sic] morons having grand time [sic] at that idiotic thread at WWWW.
Here is a comment I have posted:

"steve burton sez [sic]:

"'I've been listening to Mark Steyn's America Alone on my Ipod, while tending to my garden, for the last couple of days, just to see if there might be any merit to Auster's critique.
Conclusion? Nope.'

"'The book is great fun, beautifully written, & perfectly calculated to move casual readers in exactly the direction that Auster (presumably) wants them moved.'

"'Why that's not good enough for him, I simply can't understand.'"

All accurately quoted. But continuing (and this is apparently addressed to me):

"Would you kindly point me to a place in the book where Steyn has proposed a solution to the West's predicament...Clearly you have to re-read Steyn book [sic]."

etc. etc. etc.

* * * * *

Well, no, Mick, I wouldn't. Yet no, Mick, I don't have to.

Look, guy. Mark Steyn is a fantastically talented diagnostician of the spiritual decay of the post-modern West.

That's his thing. And it's a thing that's well worth doing.

So what if he's only filled the glass half full?

Does that make him dirt?

Does that make him a traitor?

Surely not.

Comments (16)

I agree with Burton's main point about Steyn, with one exception: from what I've read so far of Steyn, I agree he is a good diagnostician of the disease. However, he should keep his yapper shut about possible remedies to that disease, because he seems incapable of avoiding advising either postures of submission to Muslims at worst, or unrealistic viability of Islamic reform at best. It is possible all that language of submission in Steyn is rhetorical, and not literally meant. However, his apparent affinity for the neo-Wilsonianism of the Iraq Experiment, as suggested by the 2004 quote of his in the other thread --

"Given that much of what we now know as the civilised world will be Muslim, it seems prudent to ensure that what is already the Muslim world is civilised. And, for those who say that Islam is incompatible with democracy, we might as well try to buck that in Iraq today than in France, Scandinavia and Britain the day after tomorrow"

-- indicates otherwise.

My advice to Steyn would be similar to the advice I gave to Spencer: keep your day job of diagnostician, but leave the analysis of possible remedies to others more competent.

I differ from Auster, as Burton does, in that I don't damn Steyn in toto for his defect -- I just damn the defect. I don't damn Auster in toto either, for that matter: only his defects. Apparently neither he nor his acolytes can tolerate the possibility that he has analytical defects; and their intolerance is regularly manifested in their tendency to lash back with childish mockery and shrill alerts about being "attacked", rather than to offer maturely reasoned dispassionate counter-arguments. In doing so, they help to clog the Blogosphere with needless clutter and distractions from the task at hand.

Suppose at the end of his plays, Shakespeare tacked on dumb lines and endings that made no sense to the first 99 percent of the play. It sort of destroys your experience. Or the end of classical works was a transition into something very different. It ruins it.

That is the effect of the triangulators. They often explicitly condemn those proposing solutions that will work. They often exhort and in some cases it sometimes seems extort their followers to do likewise.

If the day workers of reminding us of the ills of Islam insist on condemning the solution providers as bigots or worse, then it makes sense that the solution providers are going to fire back and point out the inconsistency.

Not every grunt in piling up detail engages in this, but enough do. They copy the MSM this way. If you get paid for grunt work, it seems to be a pattern, that you condemn those who spell out the conclusion. The reverse then follows.

Those who do daily articles in the MSM or aspire to respectability can't really say remove all the Muslims at the end of each article like Cato the Elder. They also want to keep whatever it is they have ongoing. So they try to get some PC insurance.

Auster then has a day job of pointing out their inconsistencies. Its a perfect symbiosis. Its like bacteria in your gut. You can't live without them.

Mr Auster had earlier "responded" in similar spirit to the initial criticism I had made.

Here, on WWWW, is my deconstruction if that "response"

Herperado: "[pointless criticism of Steyn]"

think deeper

In the original Jihad Watch plan, Hugh Fitzgerald was supposed to play the role of telling the blunt truth on what to do. But Spencer's PC eventually overpowered him. Spencer would say things like I don't believe X and neither does Hugh, even though Hugh had already written X. Then Hugh had to say he didn't believe in X and never had. This became a cartoon.

After Jihad Watch was taken over by Front Page Mag this got worse. The original idea was Spencer was the sophisticated Med type who would tell you how it really was in the Middle East. The eyes on the ground guy. He speaks the languages and is wise in the ways of wily Orient. These Muslims are just as bad as you think they are. Trust your gut.

Then Hugh was the hillbilly who would say, "Let's run these Muslim varmints off our land. Send them back to Arabia." But that became unacceptable in the JW universe. Hugh was neutered. Auster fills the gap in the original JW plan but Spencer PC chickened out.

The original JW plan was to build the PC type grunt knows it like it is from the inside type with the solution guy, send them back to Arabia. Don't let them out. Keep nukes out of their hands. Let them boil in the sun.

These two roles do need to be separated it appears is the market consensus. The grunt guy keeps finding stuff and reacting like this is my new find. Then the hillbilly says, times running out, we have to run them off. If the vendors don't have it built in, then it has to be supplied from the outside. Its like a theorem in efficient markets. Auster then supplies that role for Stein, Hitchens and others.

Steve Burton said:

Well, no, Mick, I wouldn't. Yet no, Mick, I don't have to.
Look, guy. Mark Steyn is a fantastically talented diagnostician of the spiritual decay of the post-modern West.
That's his thing. And it's a thing that's well worth doing.
So what if he's only filled the glass half full?
Does that make him dirt?
Does that make him a traitor?
Surely not.

Look, guy (After 35 years in America I still am mildly distressed by Americans speaking as they knew me for years).

Steyn is a very talented entertainer, as is Rush. That's how he makes - and deservedly so, his big bucks. Personally, I enjoy his columns for their humor and many interesting happenings in the West Steyn often brings to illustrate his points.

Hugh Hewlet (a mediocre entrtainer and comically conventional establicon) calls Steyn A-Columnist-To-The-World, which he is.

It is not Auster's fault that establicons and moronocons treat him as a most wise pundit.
To put establicons and moronocons right, those that are capable to be turned right, someone should show problems in the musings of all wise, all knowing establicon's pundit.

If Steyn does not want deep scrutiny applied to his writings, he just should announce (as Letterman does from time to time) that he is just entertainer and does not want any deep discourse.

As far as I know, no one (on "our" side, whatever our side is) called Steyn dirt or traitor.

I think Steyn knows exactly what Islam is, what a nonsense WarOnTerror is, he probably privately nursing a few very harsh solutions to Islam problem. But until his employers will catch up to him, he will continue to produce very funny musings that lead to nowhere.

While Auster will continue to be a dissident speaking truth to the power.

In my day I have met individuals of both types. Cynical, all understanding intellectuals who have seen all evils of the regime but continue to serve it for big bucks. And dissidents who spoke truth and suffered consequences.
Of course, once regime changed, servant-intellectuals turned on a dime and embedded themselves into the new regime.

Once people will force elites to recognize what Islam is, expect Steyn and Rush and Hewitt and Frum to be on the front of parade claiming that they demanded harsh punishment all along.

Ilíon --

Herperado: "[pointless criticism of Steyn]"

think deeper

Posted by Ilíon | June 18, 2009 11:58 AM

Who are you quoting? I never wrote that.

Old Atlantic: well, truth be told, Shakespeare *did* hold back a bit (to put it mildly), in deference to the thought-police of his time.

Either that, or else he really was stupid enough to buy into the Tudor Myth.


OK, so you don't speak English as a first language. That explains a lot.

Please note, for future reference, that the phrase "look, guy" is not an expression of undue familiarity.

An understandable mistake.

"As far as I know, no one...called Steyn...traitor."

Auster has repeatedly called Steyn a traitor. Follow the link above. Or, better, do a Google search at his site.

Steve Burton, I agree on his patriotic correct style for those currently in power. But at least the endings matched the play.

Old Atlantic,

I agree with your theory of a symbiosis of antagonists which can be productive and/or necessary given external limitations. However, such a symbiosis is not served well by indulgence in a confusion of criticism with a paranoid perception of "attacks" and subsequent bogging down of the discussion with recriminations and cliquish ostracizations of others. Such emotional, childish, sophomoric distractions are not necessary to the energetic antagonism. There are plenty of ways to be maturely and intelligently competitive, without degenerating into sandbox-playschool fights, as Auster, Spencer, and others tend to do. On the other extreme of this problem, we have the curious phenomenon of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" of silence, where certain anti-jihad notables remain curiously silent about major problems with other notables -- notably the curious silence by Spencer and Baron Bodissey recently about Bruce Bawer lending his support for the grotesquely wrongheaded antics of Charles Johnson vis-a-vis imagined "fascists" (which you probably know Auster pointed out on his blog, incidentally giving me a ridiculously schizophrenic pat on the back for writing about it on my blog simultaneously combined with his weird reiteration of his ostracization of me).

At any rate, both of these irrational responses to criticism -- the sophomoric tantrums on the one hand, and the secret handshake smoke-filled room agreement to silence on the other -- reflect an irrational aversion to the mature medium between these two extremes: intelligent, robust, normally respectful debate out in the sunshine of public discourse.

It is outrageous of anti-jihad notables like Auster and Spencer that they cannot brook maturely expressed intelligent criticism without going into spasms of paranoid recriminations of "attack" and then exacerbating that with climates of childishly mocking, cliqish, intellectually dishonest hostility back and forth. It is dismaying that the majority of their acolytes on both sides aid and abet this unacceptably childish behavior.

Secondly, in your distribution of roles, even if Auster supplies the harder line, that doesn't mean he's faultless and cannot be improved with criticism.

Thirdly, Auster's supposedly hard line actually has a soft underbelly, as I have analyzed.

Hugh Fitzgerald too, never really was all that hard. For example, his toughest stance on Islam, where he got closest to breaking free of the infinitely asymptotic vector, was in his repeated invocations of the Benes Decrees, obviously implying expulsion of Muslims. However, all those invocations had a most curious absence: they failed to underscore (let alone most of the time even mention at all) the fact that most of the Germans expelled by Czechoslovakia were Czechoslovakian citizens -- and Hugh compounded this curious omission by furthermore speaking in those same contexts in terms of Muslim immigrants, pointedly bracketing out citizens.

Frankly, I have yet to see an analyst who has broken free of the asymptotic spell. They all seem incapable of doing so, either afraid that if they did, they would be unable to control their horrible descent down the "slippery slope" toward "genocide", or they actually retain just enough PC MC in their heads to make them sincerely asymptotic in one way or another (of course both of these are compatible). I think your guess that they remain asymptotic out of careerist pragmatic reasons is exaggerated. I think most of them really are PC MC to that degree at least.

On the sound and fury, I agree. I cut Auster extra slack because he was writing on this c. 1990 and influenced others with his writing then.

You've probably read more of Fitzgerald than I have, but my sense is if he wasn't looking over his shoulder he would have made covered a lost of distance towards asymptotica.

When you get to the singularity it may be difficult to send back a message that can reach the intended audience, or be understood. Also to an outside observer you appear to slow down as you approach a gravitational singularity.

However, you, the ultimate Islamaphobe, fall into the singularity of Islamophobia arriving at the center in finite proper time, using your Swiss 100 percent non Islamic made watch. But at this point we need to switch over to quantum Islamophobia, which still has to be worked out. Another reason some may wish to avoid the singularity.

Hesperado: "Who are you quoting? I never wrote that."

Is this really that difficult to understand? The very first poist in the thread is listed as being yours. It's a rehash and expansion of a post you'd made in the other thread. And it's a pointless criticism: therefore, I represented the entire post with "[pointless criticism of Steyn]" -- are you really unfamiliar with square brackets and quotes?

Then, rather that rehashing my earlier response to your earlier pointless criticism of Steyn, I linked to it.

"Then, rather that rehashing my earlier response to your earlier pointless criticism of Steyn, I linked to it."

Now how about offering an actual counter-argument to my response to your response?


Since my earlier criticism clearly made no impact, why would I imagine that a further would?


The post you linked with the "think deeper" phrase merely presented the quote from Steyn, with the slight addition of your afterthoughts:

In "much of what we now know as the civilised world," the non-Moslems are not having babies, the Moslems (who are already there!) are having babies. Continuously subtract from one column, while adding to the second, and soon enough all the numbers will be in the second.

If democracy is not compatible with Islam, then moving the venue to a western nation will not magically make it compatible.

These afterthoughts when examined closely do not amount to an argument, merely a reiteration of Steyn's point coupled with a statement actually controverting his point: First, you merely point out the demographic fact of increasing European Muslim births vs. decreasing European non-Muslim births, and the probable consequence of the former population eclipsing the latter.

Then in the second paragraph, you point out a simple logical premise and conclusion -- namely that if the principle is true that Islam is not compatible with democracy, then it will obviously not become true in a Western context.

The first paragraph adds nothing to Steyn's quote, since it merely repeats what is already there. The second paragraph actually goes against what Steyn says, because he argues for the viability of trying to democratize Islam "over there" rather than to wait to see if it will become democratized "over here" (i.e., in Europe in this case) -- whereas you seem to be claiming there is no such viability either way.

Not only is this comment of yours comprised of its two afterthoughts inadequate as an argued defense of Steyn -- indeed, it is not really an argument at all --, your continued refusal to provide an actual argument becomes more acute since I articulated with further clarity my own argument which I linked to you above.

I am still waiting for an actual argument from you in defense of your position.

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