Saturday, September 15, 2007

All Hail the Great and Honorable Zipp Huang Shangdi!

In response to the comments of the previous post. While I can't speak for Victor, posting at CoF has been lessened of late due to a combination of factors including the fact that I was of the understanding that Mark was on something of an extended hiatus. That issue having been resolved, part of the problem with continuing a regular posting schedule for CoF has to do with the fact that at the end of the day you really do end up running out of material.

Mark has chosen, near as I can determine, to embrace the fringe political movement of Ron Paul, whose both rhetoric and followers bear a great deal of resemblance to their left-wing counterparts in the Lyndon Larouche movement. In retrospect, I probably should not be surprised by this since Mark has been heading into fringe political territory for awhile now, whether it be his flirtations with the Crunchy Cons or the kookier aspects of the anti-war movement. It seems to me that for all of his warnings about a unified theory of explaining everything that he has embraced just that in his understanding of America. He believes that our representative democracy is essentially a shell game played between wealthy groups of cynical and secular elites who seek to spread abortion and godlessness around the world. While he admits that there was once a time when this was not so, he now regards America as totally identified with Babylon and as such is genuinely uncertain as to whether any of it is worth defending. After all, he is certain that it is the West that will ultimately produce the Antichrist.

The foreign policy view to which Mark now ascribes through synthesis with the likes of Ron Paul and Daniel Larison as well as its logical implications might best be summarized by John J. Reilly's blog from February 2006:
Defeat is editorial policy for American Conservative. Consider this piece, War of the Worlds, by William S. Lind, who argues that there are two great evils today, the Jihad of Fourth Generation warfare and the Brave New World of the West:

The Fourth Generation of Modern War, warfare since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, is the greatest change in armed conflict since the modern era began. It is marked by the state’s loss of the monopoly on war it established with Westphalia and the rise of non-state elements that can fight states and win...Fourth Generation war is giving rise to new forms of social organization. It should not surprise us that al-Qaeda’s goal is not taking power within states but abolishing the state altogether and replacing it with an ummah...

The march toward Brave New World is led by the United States. The main characteristics of Huxley’s dystopia are all too evident in post-1960s America (and Europe). They include a culture where the summary of the law is “you must be happy,” happiness coming from a combination of materialism, consumerism, electronic entertainment, and sexual pleasure; globalism, the elites’ “one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them” under de facto if not de jure world government; and endless psychological conditioning, especially through the government schools and the video-screen media. Religion is already relegated to the eccentric margins, at least among the elites, if not yet quite forbidden

Readers may amuse themselves by searching through Lind's writings to see how many times he has predicted, indeed reported, the defeat of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past few years.

When Brave New World’s walls come a tumblin’ down—and they will—men of the West may have their opportunity. Bewildered, shocked, sometimes panicked societies will seek alternatives but not know where to turn.

They will, of course, turn to American Conservative's brand of tradition. It worked for Marshal Petain, didn't it?

There are confusions here. Yes, there is a Brave New World faction in the West, whose chief representatives are, perhaps, the transnationalists of the Davos type. It has little or nothing to do with the neocons. The Brave New Worlders have not prospered in recent years. Part of the story is the foundering of the European Union project; part of it is the defenestration of cultural and media elites in the US. The Brave New World is not fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Brave New World not only could not fight a war; it could not survive in a world where war were possible.

I think that there is a lot to this that goes a long way towards understanding the worldview of Mark Shea. He correctly understands the role of religion to a viable culture and society, but he believes that the whole of American leadership is the preserve of godless secularism. At this point I think that he is so far gone that cannot hope for its victory (watch this to surface as a new theme once Iraq is no longer a factor one way or another), because to do so would only prolong the rot. In many ways, Mark is a kind of inverse to Dinesh D'Souza, the latter of whom at least understands enough about Western elites (being one of them) to recognize that there is a distinction to be made in discussing our national leadership. Mark will hear none of that however, for him the whole of any politically active social conservative leadership (which I would argue by definition includes both Neuhaus and Bottum, his denials notwithstanding) are no more than cynical tools for the GOP party machine to get the rubes to vote them into office. He also believes that the fact that Paul has not gained traction (unless he has, consistency is not one of Mark's strong points) is proof of his conspiracy of elites to Soviet-style rig the US election.

Then there is the matter of content. Mark, near as I can tell, appears to have very little in terms of news or information that is original to him. Instead, it seems that what he does is essentially a commentary of what he sees on Drudge, WorldNetDaily, Human Events, and of course the American Conservative. And rather bad commentary at that, given his utter refusal to engage in serious arguments with those he disagrees with on matters of public policy. For long time, he loudly denied being a paleocon (without exactly explaining where he parts ways with them except on illegal immigration, no trivial matter that) but now that he has begun more and more openly supporting Ron Paul, as Darth Vader says the circle is now complete. I wish him well in his embrace in the lunatic fringe of American politics, but I also don't feel nearly as obliged to engage in rapid reply to what he says now that he has descended into the kook fringe of American conservatism alongside Justin Raimondo. If he wants to continue through his fever swamp ideas about the United States planning a massive attack on Iran (with the Democrats complicit, no less) or revenge fantasies about putting Bush and Cheney on trial for war crimes, I am content to let him do so.

You'll notice I managed to say all of this without getting into the issue of interrogation. Mark labeling Victor and myself as "shills for Leviathan" aside, I would argue that by the same criteria he judges us he had best expand that list to include a great many people. Also, if the measure we use is the same that is used against us, I would suggest that his discussion of just who "shills" around Catholic blogosphere is perhaps best represented by his own 180 degree shift in rhetoric when it comes to libertarianism as soon as he pledged his fealty to Ron Paul.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

including the fact that I was of the understanding that Mark was on something of an extended hiatus

LOL, if that's a hiatus, I'd sure hate to see Mark's idea of active daily blogging. He makes Monsieur Dreher look positively laconic by comparison. :)

Diane

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

If your analysis of Mark's political Weltanschaung is correct, then he is no different than many ultra-conservative Catholics who (like Buchanan) effectively decry modern civilization in favor of a quasi-medieval model in which the Church, aided by an allegedly benevolent government, had near-totalitarian control over everybody's lives.

I can say that because of the nearly totalitarian way he treats people on his blog: offering favors to his allies, smearing anybody who disagrees with him.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Hypocrites like Buchanan and Shea are willing to enjoy the fruits of freedom and modern civilization without willing to fight for them.

Susan B. said...

I have to say that I have made a terrible realization the past few months -- that some Christians really do want some sort of Christian theocracy and actually envy the Islamists. I realize that secular leftists slander Christians by claiming that we all want a theocracy. This is not true for most of us. We realize the importance of keeping church and government separate. However, when certain Christians go around saying that the West has nothing good to offer, root for our destruction and say that they admire the "devotion" of the Islamists, I think they make their true intentions clear.

Anonymous said...

Shea has become, as far as I'm concerned, a total loon. Given his recent behavior, I'd have to say that Joe d'H is more or less right - he is becoming actively evil, and as Susan B. pointed out is actually giving Christianity a bad name. Boycott the guy. Personally, I've hit his site for the last time.

Good riddance...

Andy Nowicki said...

Theocracy, broadly speaking, is the only system of government that makes any sense. If God exists, then it makes sense that He wouldn't want a duly established government to be indifferent to him and to his divine will.

Secular democracy is riddled with internal contradictions. Somehow, legitimate government is supposed to rest with the consent of "the people." But why? The people are not a divinity. Their will has no necessary relationship to the divine will. In many cases, the will of the majority is plainly opposed by the will of God, as Christians understand Him.

Only theocracy bases its claims of legitimacy in an eternal principle. It's theocracy or chaos.

Anonymous said...

the guy is diabetic and broke, eveidently. Pray for him - that he gets some sense and finds a regular source of income for his family.

Phillip said...

Part of Mark's problem is that he has confused prudential judgement with his own infallibility. That combined with the non-reasoned positions of many of his favorites leads to an arrogance of ignorance.

Take this attempt at logic by Zippy noted by Chris-2-4:

"Zippy: "Instead of narrowly focusing on wiping out al Qaeda and getting serious about preventing the form of sedition called "Jihad" at home, we decided to change the world one predominantly Muslim country at a time, starting with one that had nothing to do with 9-11."

Michael: Didn't we start with Afghanistan?

Zippy: ...I think we went into Afghanistan because that is who attacked us.

Does anyone think this is a compelling argument by Zippy?
Chris-2-4"

Zippy of course later justifies such nonsense. But such nonsense is considered the height of arguement with Shea.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the concept of the people being the repository of power granted from God comes from Suarez, a Jesuit of the Salamanca School. And theocracy would seem to violate and confuse what is owed to Caesar, and what is owed to God, which a rather important Source tells us we should never do.

Now a morally informed democracy is another matter...

Pauli said...

"If God exists, then it makes sense that He wouldn't want a duly established government to be indifferent to him and to his divine will."

Right, but this doesn't necessarily point to Theocracy as the answer. Look at the nation of Israel; they were a theocracy, but they became indifferent from the King on down. That's what the majority of the Old Testament is about, what happens to a nation when they become indifferent to God's laws yet still want his blessings.

So that story remains a warning to us, I'll agree, but show me evidence that changing to theocracy, were it even possible, would somehow increase our faithfulness to God.

Mark said...

Mark has chosen, near as I can determine, to embrace the fringe political movement of Ron Paul

No. Mark hasn't. But I'm sure it must be a consolation to tell yourself he has.

The funny thing is, Rod Dreher has a lot more unabashed enthusiasm for both Ron Paul and Daniel Larison than my ocassional mention of them demonstrates. Similarly, his words about the Bushies and their conduct of the war have been none too kind for some months now. But since Rod is a friend of Victor's this does not come up here. Oh sure, diane and pauli like to obsess about Rod, but the managers of this site would prefer to keep the focus on Shea-hating. So they simply ignore it in favor of expanding my various chance comments into an opportunity for dimestore psychoanalysis. You never see loooooong ranting pieces about how Rod is cracking up and a menace to the Republic who can safely be ignored (except when you are obsessing over him).

Me: I don't mind Rod's remarks on politics much, but I do think the hypocrisy of Victor and his various partners-in-dialogue here is pretty funny. The personal really is the political, ain't it? Why not just rename the place "We Hate Mark Shea and we Can't Stand Zippy Either" and be done with it?

Ciao, ladies! Get back to that sewing circle and start clucking!

Phillip said...

Mark,

Since you put on your dress and came here, why don't you address Zippy's innane logic that I pointed out. Of course your will be happy to address it without your usual snarkiness.

Phillip said...

Of course you realize you will have to debate without deleting comments or banning people.

Phillip said...

Oh, one last thing. If you hang around here long you'll have to coordinate your menstrual cycle with ours.

Joe Marier said...

Well, the moral is clear: be friends with Victor Morton.

Mark said...

Phil:

When did it become my job to speak for Zippy? If you have some burning question about his remarks, his blog is a click away. You can ask him yourself. I've got a lot to do in the next week.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Joe:

Indeed. What cracks me up is the hierarchy of values here. For some reason, my long cyber-acquaintance with Rod makes me sinister (even though I have been frank about the lousy excuses he made for becoming Orthodox). But Victor's friendship with Rod, and his transparent refusal to submit to scrutiny Rod's various attacks on Bush and the war, as well as his enthusiasm for Ron Paul, his various quotes from Larison and, yes, even his enjoyment of Zippy the Horrible, draws no comment from Diane or Pauli. Victor and Co's wonderful double standard is a delight to see. It really makes clear how this blog is founded on no principle at all except a personal animus toward me. I'm flattered naturally. But don't you girls get tired of gossiping about lil ol me after a while?

It would all be a fascinating bit of grist for a sociological study.

Phillip said...

Mark,

Since you sing his praises you should be able to make some comment about his thoughts. That is if you've thought about them.

BTW, I don't think those shoes match your dress.

Anonymous said...

Mark, fwiw, I have criticized Rod D. on this blog--most recently in this very thread, up above, where I obliquely alluded to the frequency and prolixity of his blogging. ;)

God bless,

Diane

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I do think the hypocrisy of Victor and his various partners-in-dialogue here is pretty funny. The personal really is the political, ain't it? Why not just rename the place "We Hate Mark Shea and we Can't Stand Zippy Either" and be done with it?

Mark, whatever Victor's faults are, he is a model of decorum and moral consistency compared to you -- and you know it. If you really want a model of hypocracy, then look in the mirror.

Then again, you can't, can you? Because if you did, then you would see yourself for who and what you really are, and the reality behind your "Catholic" facade is too horrible for you to contemplate.

I don't care to restart our feud. But I will not tolerate someone with your genuine lack of character besmirching the reputations of people, some of whom I consider friends.

Then again, that's your stock-in-trade, isn't it?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Andy, there are several fundamental problems with your defense of theocracy.

First, it would depend on an individual or a group of people discerning perfectly what God's specific, defined will is for each and every situation. Various Christian churches, regardless of their theologies (and regardless of what you might think of those theologies), can't even do that concerning their own spheres of competence. Do you think that they can do so outside of those spheres? If you do, then you believe that the NCCB is wise beyond all doubt.

Second, you would have assume that people are perfectable in this life. That's not possible; otherwise, Christ's redemptive sacrifice for sin is absurd and meaningless.

Third, there's quite a difference between "theocracy" and "indifference to God." Regardless of what you might think of the Founding Fathers, they were not indifferent to God. Read anything written by either Franklin or Jefferson (who, by the way, did not believe in Christ's resurrection).

Fourth, you confuse morality in government with religious rule. I understand your frustration with contemporary government and mores. But the history of the papacy alone (let alone Calvin and Cromwell) should convince you of the folly of that equation.

Finally, you ignore history. Calvin tried to establish a theocracy in Geneva. Cromwell the same in England. The Muslims tried during the Caliphate (and are trying to resurrect it). Some would say that the "Christendom" period during medieval Europe was somewhat theocratic. The problem? These theocracies confused secular aims with religious ones -- and would exploit religion to forward their secular aims.

Such governments were inherently immoral and corrupt -- not least because they took God's name in vain and used it as a testimonial for vain political goals.

kathleen said...

"Oh sure, diane and pauli like to obsess about Rod"

what am i, chopped liver?

Phillip said...

You can be if chopped liver works at a sewing circle.

Pauli said...

What was I supposed to comment on?

How's this: cluck, cluck, cluck, Ron Paul, cluck, cluck, cluck, Theocracy, cluck, Rod, cluck, cluck.....

Anonymous said...

Kathleen--LOL!

Diane

Shawn said...

Actually, the concept of the people being the repository of power granted from God comes from Suarez, a Jesuit of the Salamanca School.

If memory serves, Bellarmine also made that argument in his opposition to the Divine Right of Kings hypothesis which is (I would argue) at the heart of the totalitarianist weltanschauung. (Even the communists embraced the divine right of kings mentality in their own way: except instead of claiming their rights to rule came from God they denied God and made themselves gods essentially.)

Shawn said...

The funny thing is, Rod Dreher has a lot more unabashed enthusiasm for both Ron Paul and Daniel Larison than my ocassional mention of them demonstrates. Similarly, his words about the Bushies and their conduct of the war have been none too kind for some months now.

Just because there are similarities Mark that does not mean the situations are identical. One can be a critic without engaging in irrational fifth columnist drivel ala what you do -as to whether or not Rod has done that I have not followed his stuff lately so I do not know. But he retains the benefit of the doubt with me either way because (unlike you) he has not forfeited it by unchristian public conduct including (but not limited to) dogmatic fideism and arguably what fits the definition of sedition objectively speaking.

But since Rod is a friend of Victor's this does not come up here.

People can discuss on their blogs what they want to. At least unlike with your site, they can handle reasoned and logical criticism here. You by contrast cannot and feel the need to selectively edit posts, delete posts, and even ban people on the flimsiest of premises.

Oh sure, diane and pauli like to obsess about Rod, but the managers of this site would prefer to keep the focus on Shea-hating.

You provide them no shortage of material Mark. The amount of geopolitical obtuseness coupled with illogical moveon.org-like shrieking from your blog could keep an entire staff of people busy around the clock. The sad thing is, you are completely oblivious to it.

As I have said to people privately when I was made aware of your family predicament, I feel for you on a personal level but personalties cannot get in the way of principles here. You have made opposing your work a necessity in lieu of the dangers to the common good of society and just public order that your undermining of the efforts to stabilize Iraq contribute to. They used to say during WWII that "loose lips sink ships" and you would do well to remember that the next time you decide to pop off on these matters in predictable msm-parrotting fashion.

Now you note the woes of your family situation but seem oblivious to the fact that whatever the arguments for or against this kind of "public support of apologists" you have by your own actions and statements eroded in the past few years your own support base.{1} And throwing your family under the bus because you do not have the common sense God gave a goose to shut your yapper on issues where your ignorance is so vast as to be staggering{2} is deplorable. You would do well to reflect long and hard on what you have done.

So they simply ignore it...

Well, you ignore a lot of things Mark. And I am going to ignore the latter part of that statement now.

Notes:

{1} And this has nothing to do with you being critical of the Bush Administration as I and numerous others have been quite critical of them. But not at the expense of national security and giving aid and comfort verbally to those who want to see us either converted to a demonic form of Islamic extremism or killed.

{2} Including on issues where you try to claim the magisterium has spoken where anyone familiar with General Norms of Theological Interpretation 101 knows is not the case at all.

Shawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.