Via UnHerd, A Discussion With Eric Zemmour-Plus Ca Change…

Via UnHerd, Freddie Sayers discusses immigration with Eric Zemmour, French right historian and politician on Islam, Immigration and French politics.

One has to disregard pretty much any mainstream outlet to discover information these days.

I guess I’m left with an anxious feeling…’

Well, watching the current tides in the West leaves me anxious as well.

As posted:

Christopher Caldwell filters conceptions of how a society should [be] through a Burkean lens.-‘Reflections On The Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam & The West

From the Mark Steyn show:

Theodore Dalrymple on Michel Houellebecq here:

‘Hou[e]llebecq has been accused of being a nihilist and cynic, but far from that, his work is an extended protest against nihilism and cynicism. It is true that he offers no solution to the problem, but it is not the purpose of novels, but rather of tracts, to offer solutions to such problems. For him to tell his readers to take up basket-weaving or some such as the answer to existential emptiness would in fact be an instance of that very existential emptiness.’

Here’s a brief Houellebecq interview on Tocqueville (I too was bored when I first read Tocqueville, but I hadn’t realized how deep and accurate so many of his observations were):

As previously posted:

Interview sent in by a reader with Houellebecq on his ‘Soumission,’ which, in his fictional world, imagined a soon-to-be Muslim candidate defeating a French nationalist candidate, followed by an ultimate submission of French society to Islamic law and political leadership.

Interesting discussion at the link (including a deflation of (R)acism as critical theory).

‘But now you’re asking words to mean something they don’t. Racism is simply when you don’t like somebody because he belongs to another race, because he hasn’t got the same color skin that you do, or the same features, et cetera. You can’t stretch the word to give it some higher meaning.’

On some of Houellebecq’s thinking behind the creative work:

‘Yes. It has to happen sometime and it might as well be now. In this sense, too, I am a Comtean. We are in what he calls the metaphysical stage, which began in the Middle Ages and whose whole point was to destroy the phase that preceded it. In itself, it can produce nothing, just emptiness and unhappiness. So yes, I am hostile to Enlightenment philosophy, I need to make that perfectly clear. ‘

Whoa, at least he’s relatively up front about that.

Isn’t it possible to reject Houellebecq’s modernity-is-dead worldview AND also put the universal claims of progressive, collectivist, ideological, postmodern, multicultural feminist discontents into their proper perspective? Perhaps without suggesting the end of the modern world and some presumed next stage to be reached?

And as for discussions of art: Is the book worth a read?

From the comments:

‘Those of you regarding e.g. feminism as somehow an antidote to the patriarchal impulses in enlightenment thinking or Islam, or in broader terms postmodern political and social movements as offering a ‘third way’, something totally new and immune from this dynamic of competitive decay and decline, forget the fact that these movements are themselves the most recent outgrowths of the emancipative instinct, one of the core features deeply rooted in Western thought ever since the renaissance, as Barzun described. As an Asian living in the West myself, I have to tell you that this instinct is simply not present as a core element in other civilisations, and is indeed distinctive about the West. That Japan and Korea, and for that matter every non-western nation, modernised without a countercultural ‘values’ rebellion is indicative in this regard. The west is going to be without allies as it goes with a whimper.

Under such a depressing worldview, hope is provided for by religion and mysticism, a return to medievalism. It is sad, because the West will truly die as it numbs its own most deeply embedded instincts in the process of conversion, but the mysticism is a form of hope for the masses, who never particularly cared for high ideals anyway.

Houellebecq seems to channel Spengler, who hardly anybody reads nowadays. But that such an interesting thinker is hardly glanced at today is an indictment of us, not of him.’

Also, from the comments. Hubristic, but there’s something to deflated nihilism:

‘This is why I love French writers and thinkers. Fascinating to read even if they are always wrong.’

As much as I’m hoping for a break-up of Islamist ideology, I suppose I’m hoping for some light into these dark, post-Enlightenment corners as well. Something other than the existential void and the ideas and ideologies which so often rush in.

I have to give Hollebecq credit, too, for as he points out, the major religions have been dealing with questions of purpose, suffering, telos, why, what, when, and the stuff human nature for a lot longer time.

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Roger Sandall, Australian critic of romantic primitivism and the Western’s Left’s penchant for the Noble Savage: His home page where his essays can be found. Here’s “The Rise Of The Anthropologues

Robert Hughes, Australian and often fierce critic of modernism and post-modernism.

***I should add that Werner Herzog’s ‘Into The Abyss‘ was worth my time. Herzog is probably not a proponent of the death penalty, but I thought he left me to decide what I thought, and he didn’t flinch from the crime, the tragedy and the loss.

Related On This Site: From The NY Times Book Review-Thomas Nagel On John Gray’s New ‘Silence Of Animals’From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’

From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

From Reason’s Hit And Run Blog: ‘It’s Everybody Bomb Anybody Who Draws Mohammed Day in France!’

Repost-Sherlock Holmes & Speech-Two Links

If it’s free, you’re the product.  If the large company offering free services, making you a product, has a board full of ‘trust and safety’ types, well, you’ve been warned.

At the WaPo (Democracy Dies In Darkness!), owned by Jeff Bezos, utitlizing the latest Amazon engineering…:

Michael Dirda writes about Sherlock Holmes (sorry, behind a new and improved AI paywall).

As posted: Michael Dirda at the Washington Post: ‘Sherlock Holmes May Not Have Been A Real Crime-Fighter, But His Creator Was

Of note:

‘In 1908 the wealthy Gilchrist kept lots of expensive jewelry in her home but feared robbery so much that she installed three locks on the entrance door to her apartments. Nonetheless, one afternoon the family residing below heard loud crashing sounds above, followed by three knocks.’

by Colin Angus Mackay

“I must take the view, your Grace, that when a man embarks upon a crime, he is morally guilty of any other crime which may spring from it.”

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A discussion of deductive and inductive reasoning here, as it might relate to solving crimes (which is highly dramatized in our culture, perhaps partly due to Holmes).

Strange Maps has this.

221B Baker Street page here.

Perhaps is something like the new ACLU:  You must keep building new firewalls against illiberal ideas and people.  Greg Lukianoff has five suggestions on what university Presidents can do:

With the targets constantly shifting, what are some effective steps college presidents can take right now to fight censorship, regardless of where it originates? Presidents like to say they are in favor of free speech, but few have presented a plan of action that would improve the state of free speech for their students and faculty members. ‘

As posted, here’s what at least one of them has done:

From Adam Falk’s letter to Williams students:

‘Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.

Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.

We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.

We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.’

John Derbyshire raised quite a stir after publishing ‘The Talk: Nonblack Version,’

‘There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.

Of course, what better place than a liberal arts college to talk these matters out?


Read up. Get your reasons and arguments together. Show up at the debate, alone or with friends. Listen to the other fellow. Think. Respond. Think some more. Debate.

Publishing and disseminating the thoughts and ideas of others is not necessarily an endorsement of those thoughts and ideas, but it is absolutely vital in maintaining a free and open society:

Out of principle alone, here’s Derbyshire discussing his general worldview:

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Why The Right Fights’

Full piece here.

Have conservatives lost-out to successive waves of liberalism in the past century, waves which have gradually entrenched enough interests in the government and built-up enough public sentiment to a point where the inertia is just too great to resist a larger State?

Douthat argues this to a rather large audience, or at least tries to explain the current partisan divide as he sees it:

‘So what you’re seeing motivating the House Intransigents today, what’s driving their willingness to engage in probably-pointless brinksmanship, is not just anger at a specific Democratic administration, or opposition to a specific program, or disappointment over a single electoral defeat. Rather, it’s a revolt against the long term pattern I’ve just described: Against what these conservatives, and many on the right, see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama’s first two years as well.’

Where do you draw the line at equality of opportunity, and how is that line shifting during an especially strong period of egalitarianism and partisanship?

Also On This Site:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on ConservatismCharles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

Freedom Of Speech? Absolutely-From SteynOnline: ‘Lars Hedegaard, Defender Of Freedom’

Full piece here.

A man of the right, Steyn has been darkly predicting the end of Europe as we know it, locked as it is, he argues, into demographic decline and painting itself into the corner of multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism is tough to define, but for Steyn’s analysis, perhaps we could think of it as a melange of moral relativism, Statist top-down rationalism and its remnants, as well as a dominant liberal ideology of conformity.  Some people are viewed as victims before they even arrive, to be pitied and included into civil society mainly through questionable lawmaking by way of political activism.

More broadly, it can lead to the kind of technocratic governance which appears currently unable to acknowledge many cultural, economic, and demographic problems in Europe.  Muslim immigration, multiculturalists, and free speech are the main players in the Hedegaard case.

Europe wanted cheap labor and they got it with Muslims.  A few generations onward, as Europe’s Muslim populations quietly grow in cities such as Malmo, London, and Brussels, there are broader consequences. For Steyn, Muslims are naturally following an Islam at odds with much of European culture, an Islam which doesn’t recognize separation of Mosque and State, and will occasionally kill people who insult the prophet.  Point this out, or the folly of having Sharia law in shadow courts operating alongside at least 800 years of English jurisprudence, and someone may well try and kill you.  The sensitivities of the marginalized Muslim and the sensitivities of the multicultural Leftist consensus dovetail nicely.

***To be fair, I’d add and Steyn might agree, that many European Muslims are naturally responding to the incentives that European societies have created for them, including multicultural policies which blame Europe or America first.  Immigration isn’t easy, with or without Islam.  They are often viewed with suspicion and distrust.  It’s tougher to get a job in Europe, and it’s tough to be accepted where racial and national identity are more closely aligned.  Steyn may not agree, and I may, that the moral absolutism of Islam does not need to be met with the absolutism of some free-speech advocates each and every time, but it ought to be supported more than it is now.

Here’s Steyn on what’s become an unholy alliance:

“Why then are the Euroleft prostrate before Islam?  Simple arithmetic, says Lars:  “They are now increasingly dependent on the Muslim vote, which they hope will guarantee them a perpetual foothold at least in the major population centers.”

Rolled under this political alliance is where Lars Hedegaard found himself, as founder of Denmark’s Free Press Society.   He’s had to bear court costs to defend himself from charges of racism.

Here he is in his own words describing what he thinks are the failures of multicultural policies (addition: and why Islam is different):


Now, he’s become the target of actual violence and an assassination attempt.  His tale here:

“The assassin came to his home dressed as a postman. When the historian and journalist Lars Hedegaard opened his front door, the man — whom Lars describes as ‘looking like a typical Muslim immigrant’ in his mid-twenties — fired straight at his head. Though Hedegaard was a yard away, the bullet narrowly missed.’

Is he right about everything?  Probably not.  But few people are willing to endure the financial damage of political activism, legal persecution, and violence and threats of violence, just to speak up and join public discourse.  Hedegaard joins a growing list, in fact.  He’s taking his life into his own hands just to do so, and that’s where the line should be drawn.

European free-speech advocates can easily find themselves operating in a vacuum, working against public opinion, often alone and outnumbered.  It’d be nice to think even the establishment would come to his aid with public support against, you know, attempted murder.   Sadly, this is unlikely at the moment, as it takes both personal courage and the political will to butt heads against the dominant ideology and worldview of many European institutions.  The Eurocracy drifts forward, flaws and all.

Addition:  Should Hedegaard be reading, I hope he’s faring well, and that after reading his work, I’ve found him very reasonable.

And if you think it can’t happen over here:   Mark Steyn discusses complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario.   They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there.  The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”

The connection here is what happens in Canadian society beneath the umbrella of more Left liberal ideas:

Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant


***A friend asks me to note that the current progressive, Obama administration shares many of the same hallmarks as the EuroLeft Steyn describes:  More malleable on free speech, vaguely tolerant of American nationalism, conveniently religious but more animated by Enlightenment rationalism and Statism.  Political activism for social justice is a legitimate path to power and to reward minority groups (remember getting Muslims to NASA). No wonder the Europeans love Obama, he’s so familiar.

The simplest and plainest example:  It takes a special kind of ideological commitment to call the Ft. Hood shooting an example of ‘workplace violence.’

Related On This Site: Tariq Ramadan speaks both multiculturalese and the language of Muslim Brotherhood, and ironically it’s the 68er and socialist who stands for neither religious belief nor multiculturalism confronts him

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

When you add it all up, it’s a lot From ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…  Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’More From Spiegel Online After The Westergaard Attacks Via A & L Daily: ‘The West Is Choked By Fear’

See Also:  If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie hereVia The A & L Daily-Interview With Christopher Caldwell At Spiegel Online Ayan Hirsi Ali is a Muslim immigrant to Europe, who seems quite populist and anti-Islam…is this a potential track for immigrants if they are integrated better?:  Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Joel Kotkin At New Geography: ‘The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election’

Full piece here.

Kotkin, a demographer, suggests a divide in the upcoming election between a ‘clerisy’ and a ‘yeomanry:’

‘Obama’s core middle-class support, and that of his party, comes from what might be best described as “the clerisy,” a 21st century version of France’s pre-revolution First Estate. This includes an ever-expanding class of minders — lawyers, teachers, university professors, the media and, most particularly, the relatively well paid legions of public sector workers — who inhabit Washington, academia, large non-profits and government centers across the country.’

Well, they’re rent-seekers, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with rent-seeking, but if your paycheck comes from institutions (public and/or private) that depend on the public dime, or you believe in the “common” good as defined by redistributive ideals for our institutions as you toil away in one, shielded from other economic realities, then you’re more likely to vote your interests/ideals.

‘The nature of their work also differentiates the clerisy from the yeomanry. The clerisy labors largely in offices and has no contact with actual production. Many yeomen, particularly in business services, depend on industry for their livelihoods either directly or indirectly. The clerisy’s stultifying, and often job-toxic regulations and “green” agenda may be one reason why people engaged in farming, fishing, forestry, transportation, manufacturing and construction overwhelmingly disapprove of the president’s policies, according to Gallup.’

Either way, Kotkin is likely very familiar with the ‘clerisy’ as he lives and works in California.  Is California a bellwether for the nation?  Are we slowly drifting secular and leftward as a nation, with larger pools of public sentiment for green/redistributive/’clerisy’-type policies? The takers vs. the makers?

Related On This Site:  Look out Omaha…people are coming your way?: …Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

From First Principles: Locke, Our Great Founders, and American Political Life

Full article here.

Maybe there’s something in the air, but there seems to be a trend toward re-considering religion’s role in society in many political/philosophical quarters lately.

Perhaps it’s due to:  Islamic extremism?  An excessive secularism? A push back against a long period of excessive individualism? Some other forces at work? 

Here’s a post on a Martha Nussbaum essay I put up a few months back:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

From the article, here’s a quote which has the author, Peter Lawler, discussing two recent books on John Locke:

“Brownson and Murray agree that our framers understood themselves primarily as Lockeans but also that their work was less guided by the individualist’s thought than they believed. Brownson pays them the compliment of having been theoretically radical as thinkers but prudently conservative as statesmen. Murray sees them as sort of Thomistic Lockeans; their understanding of Locke’s modern thought was more compromised by traditional debts than they knew. They built so well because they averted their eyes from the voluntaristic and nihilistic depths of modern thought. Their providential—or we might just say lucky—theoretical confusion or in-betweenness, their lack of theoretical greatness, is the cause of our nation’s practical greatness.

The argument here states that because the founders didn’t fully understand (or follow) Locke’s radical individualism to its logical conclusions, they went deeper than they knew.

There’s a standard dig at the French (French perfectionism and theoretical excesses are the enemy of our good) there at the end as well.

Actually,  this just seems like our democracy functioning as it does:  the right is re-grouping and figuring out how to include religion out of political necessity:

“Our healing American task may be to show that Thomism is the true realism, that it reconciles reason and revelation through a realistic account of the whole human being.”

See Also On This Site:  Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam may be resisting such a trend: From Bloggingheads: Jon Chait Not Convinced By ‘The Grand New Party’

Add to Technorati Favorites