Saturday, June 07, 2008

Anti-Americanism as Buffonery

Anti-Americanism is a form of mental illness, a manifestation of a personality disorder, and a fashion-statement all in one. What a bargain. If only there were some real money in it the world would be filthy rich. The problem is that the illness makes it nearly impossible to cope in the world. Anti-Americanism is a serious mental disorder and personality disorder that flourishes in weak people. Most of them start life with serious mental and personality disorders, and like the fool who starts out smoking crack "occasionally" and ends up a full-blown addict, so it is with the anti-American who finds his attitude has taken over whatever original mind and personality he might once have possessed, leaving him a shouting, maniacal, fucked-up lunatic. I got curious and looked into a bit of Buffon, and then turned to a review of Jean-Francois Revel, Anti-Americanism.

I've written a number of times here on Buffon, and more often on the origins of anti-Americanism. Here's a bit from wikipedia. I cut out most of it because it's so silly it wasn't worth looking at. I use these posts as resources for further writing, and this piece below is in line with that project. I keep what I hope will be of use. Hope it's of interest to you, too, dear reader, and also the final product, whenever that comes about.

The degeneracy thesis

The Comte de Buffon, a leading French naturalist, developed the "degeneracy thesis" in the mid-eighteenth century. It held that the American landmasses were inferior to Europe and in decline due to atmospheric conditions.

In the mid- to late-eighteenth century, a theory emerged among European intellectuals that the New World landmasses were inherently inferior to Europe. The so-called "degeneracy thesis" held that climatic extremes, humidity and other atmospheric conditions in America physically weakened both men and animals.[27] Two authors, James W. Ceaser and Philippe Roger, have interpreted this theory as a "a kind of prehistory of anti-Americanism." [4][28] Purported evidence for the idea included the smallness of American fauna, dogs that ceased to bark, and venomous plants;[29] one theory put forth was that the New World had emerged from the Biblical flood later than the Old World.[30] Native Americans were also held to be feeble, small, and without ardor.[31]

The theory originated with Comte de Buffon, a leading French naturalist, in his Histoire Naturelle (1766). [31] The French writer Voltaire joined Buffon and others in making the argument. [29] Dutchman Cornelius de Pauw, court philosopher to Frederick II of Prussia became its leading proponent.[4] While Buffon focused on the American biological environment, de Pauw attacked people native to the continent.[30] In 1768, he described America as "degenerate or monstrous" colonies and argued that, "the weakest European could crush them with ease."[32]

The theory was extended to argue that the natural environment of the United States would prevent it from ever producing true culture. Paraphrasing de Pauw, the French Encyclopedist Abbé Raynal wrote, "America has not yet produced a good poet, an able mathematician, one man of genius in a single art or a single science."[33] The theory was debated and rejected by early American thinkers such as Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson; Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1781), provided a detailed rebuttal of de Buffon.[4] Hamilton also vigorously rebuked the idea in Federalist No. 11 (1787).[31] The living examples of Jefferson and Franklin—vigorous geniuses and clearly not degenerate—helped refute the thesis.[30]

Research into the degeneracy idea dates to at least 1944 and the work of Italian historian Antonello Gerbi.[30] One critic, citing Raynal's ideas, suggests that it was specifically extended to the English colonies that would become the United States.[34]

Roger suggests that the idea of degeneracy posited a symbolic, as well as a scientific America, that would evolve beyond the original thesis. He argues that Buffon's ideas formed the root of a "stratification of negative discourses" that has recurred throughout the two countries' relationship (and has been matched by persistent anti-Gallic sentiment in the United States).[28]

Politics and ideology

The young United States also faced criticism on political and ideological grounds. Ceaser argues that the Romantic strain of European thought and literature, hostile to the Enlightenment view of reason and obsessed with history and national character, disdained the rationalistic American project. The German poet Nikolaus Lenau commented: "With the expression Bodenlosigkeit (absence of ground), I think I am able to indicate the general character of all American institutions; what we call Fatherland is here only a property insurance scheme." Ceaser argues in his essay that such comments often repurposed the language of degeneracy, and the prejudice came to focus solely on the United States and not Canada and Mexico. [4]

The nature of American democracy was also questioned. The sentiment was that the country lacked "[a] monarch, aristocracy, strong traditions, official religion, or rigid class system," according to Rubin, and its democracy was attacked by some Europeans in the early nineteenth century as degraded, a travesty, and a failure.[35] The French Revolution, which was loathed by many European conservatives, also implicated the United States and the idea of creating a constitution on abstract and universal principles.[4] That the country was intended to be a bastion of liberty was also seen as fraudulent given that it had been established with slavery.[36] ("How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" asked Samuel Johnson in 1775.[37] He famously stated that, "I am willing to love all mankind, except an American."[35])

With the rise of American industry in the late nineteenth century, intellectual anti-American discourse entered a new form. Mass production, the Taylor system, and the speed of American life and work became a major threat to some intellectuals' view of European life and tradition.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "The breathless haste with which they (the Americans) work - the distinctive vice of the new world - is already beginning ferociously to infect old Europe and is spreading a spiritual emptiness over the continent."

It has been argued that this thesis transformed into a Heideggerian critique of technologism. Heidegger wrote in 1935: "Europe lies today in a great pincer, squeezed between Russia on the one side and America on the other. From a metaphysical point of view, Russia and America are the same, with the same dreary technological frenzy and the same unrestricted organization of the average man." Oswald Spengler had made similar claims in 1931's Man and Technics and his 1934 bestseller The Hour of Decision. In 1921, the Spaniard Luis Araquistáin wrote a book called El Peligro Yanqui ("The Yankee Peril"), in which he condemned American nationalism, mechanization, anti-socialism ("socialism is a social heresy there") and architecture, finding particular fault with the country's skyscrapers, which he felt diminished individuality and increased anonymity. He called the United States "a colossal child: all appetite..."[38]

As European immigration to the United States continued and the country's economic potential became more obvious, anti-American stances grew a much more explicit geopolitical dimension. A new strand of anti-American sentiment started to appear as America entered the competition for influence in the Pacific, and anti-Americanism was widespread among the Central Powers after the U.S. entered the First World War. Furthermore, many of the anti-American ideological threads spread to other areas, such as Japan and Latin America, where Continental philosophy was popular and growing American power was increasingly viewed as a threat. In political terms, even among the allies of the United States, Britain and France, there was resentment at the end of the war as they found themselves massively in debt to the United States. These sentiments became even more widespread during the interbellum and Great Depression and sometimes tended toward the anti-Semitic: the belief that America was ruled by a Jewish conspiracy was common in countries ruled by fascists before and during World War II.

French author Jean-François Revel wrote that "For skeptics of democratic capitalism, the United States is, quite simply, the enemy. For many years, and still today, a principal function of anti-Americanism has been to discredit the nation that stands as the supreme alternative to socialism. More recently, Islamists, anti-modern Greens, and others have taken to pillorying the U.S. for the same reason."[26]The belief that America was ruled by a Jewish conspiracy or that Israel was an American puppet state has also motivated anti-American hatred in some circles during the last third of the 20th century.

In early 2002, the #1 best seller in France was L'Effroyable imposture, which claimed that 9/11 was a conspiracy orchestrated by the U.S. government[50]. It broke the French record for first-month book sales.[51] In Europe in 2002, vandalism of American companies was reported in Venice, Athens, Berlin, Zürich, Tbilisi, and Moscow.[52]

French anti-americanism predates the founding of the United States with the belief that it was a barbaric land and all who went there also degenerated.[54] A particularly strong source of anti-americanism has been the European Extreme-Right. This has been very visible in the French National Front, for example.[55]

In a fit of better judgment I deleted my concluding comments. Feel free below to make any coherent points you care to.

Friday, June 06, 2008

To You, Then and Now.

As we remember those of the Allied forces who fought and died this day in 1944 for our nations and our forefathers, we would also like to take a moment to remember that we have men and women in our services fighting and dying for our nations and for us today.

For those who spent the day lying at the beach today we hope all had some thought of gratitude for those who laid down their lives for us on this day and those other days throughout our history as free nations, protected by the lives of free men and women heeding the call to their duty.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help [cometh] from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep
The LORD [is] thy keeper: the LORD [is] thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 121: 1- 8.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Path and Pattern

Nothing elaborate to write tonight. I'm thinking, and I do that very slowly. I've been thinking, for example, about this painting for about a year now, and I still haven't come to any fruitful way of putting forward my ideas of it. I'm not in a rush to do that. Some things are worthy of a great deal of contemplation, and this painting is one of those things, for me.

Tanner, Henry Ossawa
The Annunciation
Oil on canvas
57 x 71 1/2 in. (144.78 x 181.61 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Centre Cannot Hold

In a matter of hours now we'll be out front of the city court house demonstrating in favor of free speech in Vancouver, Canada. The two posts directly below are those I would normally have handed out to passers-by. Diplomacy rules otherwise this fine day. Never mind, dear reader. Our time will come. We will be heard. We will have our hour upon the stage, and the world will tremble. Today the spotlights are on Mark Steyn and Covenant Zone, rightly so.

Wait, friend.

Our time is coming. "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Let Us Do Nothing While Yet There Is Time.

As a great French philosopher once said, "I might not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it if I'm not busy that day."

When it comes to heroic rhetoric in Canada, there is no shortage of people trying to stop it. Speech heroic could be potentially harmful and hurtful to someone's feelings someday somewhere maybe potentially. Free speech, sometimes a good thing, is sometimes a bad thing. Sometimes "free speech" is Hate Speech.

You, as a private citizen, can't know all there is to know about the whole of the nation and Humanity, nor how the the world feels about various things that could be deemed insulting to them. How could you know about people's feelings, those from around the world, unless you were an expert in sensitivity and one trained in spotting racism and hate? Come on, you can't know all that. It takes an expert.

Lucky you, there is a collection of fine women and men who are expert in sensing hurt feelings and emotional harm done by hate-speech mongers, those writers and poets and bigots among us, those like that Canadian author Mark Steyn. Thankfully, among us walk investigators and adjudicators of Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. Experts in finding hate wherever it lays, however deep, no matter how hidden from the lay person. Yes, B.C. has it's Human Rights Tribunal; and those who work for it, who work for you, have found Mark Steyn. Will they expose him as a hate-monger? Will we find the truth about hate? About Steyn? Only if the Human Rights Tribunal can do their work.

Mark Steyn is a best-selling Canadian author, writer of America Alone. America. Need we say more?

In a tolerant society, how can we tolerate hate? How can we tolerate Steyn? How can a tolerant society tolerate Steyn's hate-speech? Who will stop him?

Mohammed Elmasry, head of the Canadian Muslim Congress, he who unsuccessfully attempted to bring Shari'a law into the family court system of Ontario in 2005, is hurt, is deeply hurt, by Steyn's racist and islamophobic book. Elmasry has filed a complaint against Mclean's magazine for republishing part of Steyn's book. Hate speech. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hold a hearing to decide what to do, will decide for us if we as a society can tolerate such writing in this nation. They are Human Rights experts. They know hate speech.

You? Not so much.

What about referring to an ethnic group as the Sons of Apes and Pigs? What about advocating wife beating? What about advocating the murder of homosexuals? How about advocating in public the killing of civilians in war? You see, you might think these are bad things, but you would be mistaken-- because of you not being an expert; and you might not realize that such as above is commanded by Allah in the Koran. Elmasry advocates tKoranic things, it's true, but it is Steyn who is the hate-monger. It takes an expert to understand these things, which is why we have the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to think for us. You don't know the fine details of hate. How could you? It takes an expert to understand. It takes a hearing.

That hearing is occurring now in Vancouver. Hate-speech? It could happen to you.

Let us be thankful that bureaucrats trained in understanding things for us have taken on such an arduous task. Praise them. And let us do nothing while yet there is time.

For more details, please search:

The Soul selects her own Society--

The Soul selects her own Society--
Then--shuts the Door --

Human Rights for Hate Mongers?

Free speech or hate speech? Have you done or said something wrong? Are you a hate monger? If someone accuses you, what then?

Are you tolerating things you honestly don't like? Are you silently putting up with behavior that actually upsets you deeply? Are you nervous about saying so? You'd be right to fear, right because you could end up ruined for complaining aloud. You could be grabbed by Canada's Thought Police. You, a normal person, could be destroyed financially, socially, by law, all for saying the wrong thing in public.

Welcome to the State of Fear.

Mark Steyn, Canadian author, author of America Alone, maybe he's a hate-monger. He wrote a book. Someone complained. Now there is a hearing. The State will decide if Steyn is a hate criminal. Like you, he has opinions. He put his in print. He will be on trial for it. He will face the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Hate crime. He will face the State of Fear.

Are you nervous about a remark you once made? Afraid someone will take offense? Concerned that you've said something you shouldn't have? That would be normal. That would be life in a Velvet Fascist police state where things are really, really nice-- or else!

Did you say something you shouldn't have? You didn't mean it, right? Are you scared? That'd be normal. In a State of Fear.

Writers and poets throughout the land, the times they are a'changing. You can't say that. You'll be reported.

Are you a Nazi and a racist? Does it matter what you are so long as someone accuses you? What could you do about it? Who'd risk defending you? Could you defend yourself? Aren't you guilty for just being alive? Don't you feel guilty?

All of our lives and our history, it's all so evil. Shouldn't we pay? Aren't we all guilty of something? Aren't you?

There is a religious movement in Canada that works to save you from your sins, even those you won't acknowledge, even ones you're not aware of. You are guilty because you are a sinner. So says the Religion of Human Rights advocacy, a government religion, a state religion, a religion of bureaucrats in offices, of clerks forever probing. Accusing. Finding hate. Finding -- you.

You said....

Remember that remark? that joke? that look you gave? Someone might, and it might come back to haunt you. In a State of Fear.

Your private life is not private in a State of Fear.

The government, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, investigators and prosecutors of hate crimes, are forever searching for things of evil intent, for evil thoughts and deeds. For hate crimes. Maybe-- for you and what you said.

We all commit thought crimes. We are all guilty. Even you. It doesn't take much. Sometimes it takes nothing at all to be branded a hate monger, a racist, a thinker of bad thoughts. It's a crime.

Mark Steyn, a Canadian author, is so charged, and he is guilty-- just as you are. He faces ruin, as could you. The Thought Police. Clerks of the Human Rights Tribunal. Who is Mark Steyn? A man like you. It's his time to face the courts. He is guilty of thinking, of writing, of expressing opinion.

You, poet and maker of your mind and life, choose, and shut the door. In a State of Fear, bureaucrats kick it open and expose you. You are guilty.

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. It's not about Human Rights. It's not about fee speech. It's about fear. A State of Fear.