Friday, July 20, 2007

Fjordman: A Rebuttal from the Right

Who better to expose Fjordman, the "noted" Scandinavian blogger and almost pathological reductionist than a clear-thinking essayist from the Right? Who better even than someone who believed that this nincompoop once held hope for the rightwing cause?

Fjordman is of course a self-proclaimed "expert", in particular on Islam, "Marxism", "Multiculturalism" and "the West", but only of the variety that solemnly believes to deserve that title because they occasionally pick up a newspaper of their choice or get their musings published by even more linear-thinking and myopic square-headed "followers" as themselves.

Also in this piece, short but surprisingly good analysis of the influence of socialism on modern liberal democracy, coming from someone who once considered Fjordman's jingoistic musing to provide hope for the Right movement. Fjordie, eat your heart out...

The comments to the blogpost below are also worth reading...

Fjordman’s Tired Tropes

September 2006

Fjordman is the Scandinavian sensation saturating the saturnalian sphere of the right with soliloquies of single-minded severity, who causes both sullied and stultified souls to salivate at the suggestion that sequestering the self from all immigrant Saracens and smashing the Submissive ones with the sword of suppression is the singular and most superior solution towards so called Western salvation.


Unfortunately, the construction of that sentence is all the recognition of Fjordman I can spare, for at the end of the day Fjordman’s works are nothing more than the repetitive motifs of a polemical propagandist. The fact that his punditry is deemed presumptively plauditory is not merely an indictment of the readers who soil themselves before his verbosity but of the blogmasters who disseminate him without once thinking of the consequences of their publication. It is as if the right blogosphere is caught in an endless mobius strip of deconstructive contempt, the apex and apotheosis is an author who excels in rehashing over and again in words manifold the same essential lamentation. The Arabs have a proverb which goes: At-Tikrar yu’allimu al-Himar (Repetition teaches even the donkey). Say hello to Fjordman, the illustrious teacher of the right.

From his Scandinavian perch, which renders him influentional solely because no one else has the requisite English speaking ability to occupy it, has only one lesson to impart: Islam is an Evil War Machine seeking to conquer Europe while the “true” owners of the Continent cannot fight back because they are too corrupted by the legacies of Communism.

His is a theology of despair, gloom, and total pessimism. Once upon a time, a time before the Gaya Scienza of Nietzsche, Shopenhauer told Europe that Reason was weak and insignificant, eventually comparing it to a lame blind man. Fjordman is the post-modern kitsch version of Shopenhauer’s pessimism. The glass is half empty; no, no, it is altogether empty, and it is those immigrant Muslims in Europe, and those Jihadis Muslims in the Middle East, and those post-Communist conspirators around the world, who have drank it, and as a consequence of this, war is the most likely outcome, so let’s all prepare for the forthcoming apocalypse (which given European military might will mean the massive destruction of all things remotely Muslim, which is too bad because killing is never easy).

His problems are layered like cake. The outer crust is Islam; the inner core Communism. While there is nothing reprehensible in being so layered, concern does arise when his conception of Islam is entirely incorrect, and even worse, his thoughts on Communism show not a single ounce of nuance. But far worse than any of these, Fjordman’s purportedly conservative writings fly in the face of true conservative thought. Over and over I read him, and while I shake my head at his elementary grasp of Islamic history and of the multiplicity of ideas among Muslims, and then shake my head at his incessant attempts to find a Communist conspiracy lurking behind every corner, it is when he (or others) hold him out as the newest representative archetype — “we need more Fjordmans!” — of Western Enlightenment conservatism that my entire brain starts spinning with absurdity.

With respect to the outer layer, Islam, he believes himself to be faced off against a monolithic, collectivist and almost mythically armored war machine called Islam.
Muhammed was a brilliant intuitive leader/general, and he and his companions devised a near perfect closed system of war aginst the rest of humanity.

Not only that, but in his world, Islam and Jihadis are synonymous. In the same piece quoted above he makes a casual leap from “Islam” to “Jihadis.” Lost in this quantum leap of absurd proportions are the hundreds of millions of altogether apathetic and blameless Muslims (who are blown up in Iraq, Tanzania and Kenya and whose businesses are extorted by the so called Militias of Allah) who also consider Islam their religious home. Lost in that leap are the innumerable reformists, jurists, writers, novelists, film-makers, and every day heroes. His problem is the same as that of any other avowed Islamophobe: the inability to understand that his best bet of engagement with Islam will occur via the same Muslims whom he does not even recognize exist. But I didn’t write this to speak about the selective myopia that strikes some members of the right blogosphere when it comes time to conflate Islam with Jihadis. That is not something for me to ‘fix.’ There will have to rise among the right those who are capable of more nuanced thinking. Thankfully there are already such people. May their lucidity triump over this other myopia.

I wrote primarily because of the other two reasons: Fjordman’s Communist conspiracy theories, and of his butchery of Western conservatism.

With respect to his musings on Communism, I believe I understand Fjordman well. He wakes up in the morning, sets to the newspapers like a meticulous thinker ought, then he turns to a pre-existing list in his mind of a number of keywords which he identifies with the “Left.” These words are “multiculturalism,” “universities,” “media,” “the EU,” “open immigration,” “political correctness,” “feminism,” “poverty,” and “environmentalism.” If and when these words turn up, voila, you have a Communist conspiracy souffle. And why wouldn’t such an evaluation turn up conspiracies everywhere one turns? After all:
The simple fact is that we never won the Cold War as decisively as we should have. Yes, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. This removed the military threat to the West, and the most hardcore, economic Marxism suffered a blow as a credible alternative. However, one of the really big mistakes we made after the Cold War ended was to declare that Socialism was now dead, and thus no longer anything to worry about. Here we are, nearly a generation later, discovering that Marxist rhetoric and thinking have penetrated every single stratum of our society, from the Universities to the media.

This has to be the most egregious misconstruction of post-Soviet European history I have read. Fjordman’s argument is premised on the esophoric notion that the Cold War was a battle between a completely non-Socialist West and a Socialist-Marxist Soviet sphere. Extinguished in a puff of hasty intellectual leaps is the century long existence (and active existence at that) of socialism in the Western experience! It was a socialist who gave the Americans their pledge of allegiance and its labor unions (which have now transformed themselves into billion dollar pension funds). It was socialists who formed a large core of the British Labour party. It was the socialists who, even as the Soviet Union tick-tocked a few miles away, consented and affirmatively brought the Scandinavian welfare state into existence in the 1920’s and 30’s. Even today, Denmark, which boasts one of the most libertarian leaders in the region, has not gone further than to issue a platform that it intends to “save” the welfare state by reforming it. Norway is the most regulated economy in Scandinavia, and its Christian Democrat leader is not at all the market-oriented type of reformist.

In other words, my point is that, socialism, its economic policies, and subsequently many of its cultural values, are incredibly, if not intrinsically, connected with the Western socio-political fiber. Yet Fjordman would have us believe that in 1991 the West could have purged its Socialist kick in one fell swoop! He calls it analogous to a “de-Nazification process.” Let’s for a second ignore the monstrous human and social costs of this metaphsical notion. His idea might have been possible if there was somewhere in the West a single society which had not already internalized the lessons of socialism. Including America there neither is, nor was, such society. A little thing called the Great Depression occurred and FDR (now deemed our greatest President), pulled us out with principles modified from Socialist economic theory. Nowhere in the capitalist world does there exist a perfect capitalist, non-socialist socio-cultural system. Fjordman seems to have forgotten his essential Marx: socialism is a necessary and inevitable phase of capitalism. Perhaps it is because he doesn’t know it that he sees it everywhere.

What further exacerbates Fjordman’s problems is that it was Christian parties all over Europe that openly adopted and indulged in socialist principles. In other words, he would like to sell us the idea that the Europe he purpots to speak for was fully free of any major Socialist imprimatur. Yet he cannot point to a single such example, except a few on the insane right (who are referred to as fascists). Which is probably why he never does point to such groups. I certainly will no longer be fooled by this travesty passing for history. Europe has a past (and present) that is hued with socialism. To altogether deny its existence is to live in the same kind of phantasmagoria that Bin Laden lives in when he asserts that Islam has not been affected by modernity (bollocks!). In this age of flux and unreality we need fewer fantasies.

Of course, I agree with Fjordman that tomorrow’s Europe needs less welfare-state and more privatization; less EU bureacracy and more decentralized autonomy. However, he would like us to get there by dishonestly demonizing and attacking socialism, instead of properly coming to terms with it by acknowledging it, taking from its sense of solidarity, federalism and freedom, and saying no thank you to its economic model (and yet even the we will have to acknowledge its presence because so much of the American economic model — from antitrust laws to consumer protection laws to securities fraud laws to corporate laws to worker compensation laws to sexual harrassment laws to civil rights laws to divorce laws to custody laws are rooted in the basic socialist principle that when an individual cannot represent himself, he should be free to get the assistance of the state). Thus, either Fjordman wants to consign us to an altogether libertarian future where we are hapless atoms, or he really has no plan whatsoever. Given the absence of any meaningful ideas on what the future holds — aside from war with Islam of course — methinks the latter (although I’d love to be proven wrong). No, it is far easier to keep repeating: Marxists + Muslims = Threat To Western Civilization.

Donkeys we are, after all.

I once naively thought that Fjordman was a serious thinker who was on the cusp of postulating workable conservative solutions to the European conundrum. It is no mystery that today’s immigrant Muslim in Europe is part akin to the 1970’s black and the 1990’s hispanic of America. It is also no mystery that European universities are, indeed, not equipped to provide solutions to the problems of integration, economics, and social reconstruction that are necessary (having sold their souls to what he properly calls a “hippie” radical leftism). (On this point I agree with Fjordman’s skepticism towards the modern academy). However, thus far all Fjordman has proven himself to be is a metaphysician of tired cliches - “Islam is a shame culture” — “Islam is a war machine” — “Marxists and Muslims are bedfellows.” I dare ask: how are such cliches representative of, and emblematic of the illustrious European conservative tradition? If Fjordman wants to argue on behalf of “traditional” Europe; if he wants to be the Atlas to the Enlightenment in the face of the illiberalism of incoming immigrants, he needs to cease writing manifestos of such insane length and stop and think. He would be well advised to take the lessons of Edmund Burke to heart:
History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same troublous storms that toss the private state and render life unsweet. These vices are the causes of those storms. Religions, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts.

Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occassional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear.


Reflections On The Revolution In France

Instead, Fjordman has demonstrated himself to be caught up in the “names.” The word “Islam” and “Communist” and “Socialist” means more to him than the vice of “intolerance” or the goal of “communication” and “coalition building.” What sort of conservatism is this? If Fjordman is whom the right today turns to provide its solutions, I have a difficult time considering the right the defender of the Western civilization.

In a long ago comment to Fjordman, back when I truly held hope out of him, I suggested that he consider dabbling in the consensus theory of truth by Habermas as a way to provide contemporary Europeans a workable, authetically Enlightenment (and not nihilistic post-modenrist) way of dealing with their innumerable social issues. The idea of the theory is very simple: that all speech has an inherent telos (the Greek word for “purpose” or “goal”) — the goal of mutual understanding, and that human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about such understanding. But slowly and surely it has been revealed to me that perhaps Fjordman is not the man to undertake this job, and it must be deferred to a true conservative. In short, there is space for someone else to take the mantle of true Western conservative, and wear it with all the grace and style of men like Isaiah Berlin and Edmund Burke. From what I have come to learn of Fjordman, while he may have the acumen, he does not have the willingness to stake out his claim upon this position. As such, I will leave Fjordman to dabble in what he insists is the real future of Europe, a Europe of insult and animosity. Burke would be so proud:
Therefore, one of the best tactics for us to take in the War on Terror is to mock them and exploit their childishness, so that they will expose themselves to everyone.

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