They Had a Dream: Rule By Experts

President Obama Laughs with Aides on Air Force One

They wanted their chance, and they got it. They had it…

For The Weekly Standard, Noemie Emery writes: They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. Their keen intellects would cut through the WELL.v19-36.June2_.Emery_.ObamacareSigningclutter as mere mortals’ couldn’t. They would lift up the wretched, oppressed by cruel forces. Above all, they would counter the greed of the merchants, the limited views of the business community, and the ignorance of the conformist and dim middle class.

They blew it. They’re done.

Out of sorts and out of office after 1828, when power passed from the Adamses to the children of burghers and immigrants, they had begun to strike back by the 1920s, led by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, H. L. Mencken, Herbert Croly, and Sinclair Lewis. Their stock in trade was their belief in themselves, and their contempt for the way the middle class thought, lived, and made and spent money: Commerce was crude, consumption was vulgar, and industry, which employed millions and improved the lives of many more people, too gross and/or grubby for words.41C7HuowRFL._SL110_

[Order Noemie Emery‘s book Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families from Amazon.com]

“For the American critics of mass culture, it was the good times of the 1920s, not the depression of the 1930s, 41eaIef4eCL._SL110_that proved terrifying,” says Fred Siegel, whose book The Revolt Against the Masses  describes and eviscerates this group and its aspirations.

[The Revolt Against the Masses is also available from Amazon.com]

In their dream world, “intellectuals, as well as poet-leaders, experts, and social scientists such as themselves would lead the regime,” as Siegel tells us. “It was thus a crucial imperative to constrain the conventional and often corrupt politics of middle-class capitalists so that these far-seeing leaders might obtain the recognition and power that was only their due. Read the rest of this entry »


Darwin in Arabia

darwin-arabia

From The Book of Animals of al-Jahiz, Syria, fourteenth century

From The Book of Animals of al-Jahiz, Syria, fourteenth century

For the Times Literary Review, Robert Irwin writes:  The title Reading Darwin in Arabic notwithstanding, most of the men discussed in this book did not read Charles Darwin in Arabic. Instead they read Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Ernst Haeckel, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Huxley, Gustave Le Bon, Henri Bergson and George Bernard Shaw in European or Arabic versions. They also read popularizing accounts of various aspects of Darwinism in the scientific and literary journal al-Muqtataf (“The Digest”, 1876–1952). The notion of evolution that Arab readers took away from their reading was often heavily infected by Lamarckism and by the social Darwinism of Spencer. Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was published in 1859, but Isma‘il Mazhar’s translation of the first five chapters of Darwin’s book into Arabic only appeared in 1918.

Marwa Elshakry
Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950 (Hardback) (and Kindle Edition at Amazon) 448pp. University of Chicago Press. $45.978 0 226 00130 2

For a long time, the reception of Darwinism was bedevilled by the need to find either neologisms or new 9780226001302twists to old words. As Marwa Elshakry points out, there was at first no specific word in Arabic for “species”, distinct from “variety” or “kind”. “Natural selection” might appear in Arabic with the sense “nature’s elect”. When Hasan Husayn published a translation of Haeckel, he found no word for evolution and so he invented one. Tawra means to advance or develop further. Extrapolating from this verbal root, he created altatawwur, to mean “evolution”. Darwiniya entered the Arabic language. Even ‘ilm, the word for “knowledge” acquired the new meaning, “science”. With the rise of scientific materialism came agnosticism, al-la’adriya, a compound word, literally “the-not-knowing”.

[Robert Irwin is the author of “Visions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights” (Studies in the Arcadian Library) and “Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, mystics and the sixties” both available at Amazon]

[The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or, the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (The Works of Charles Darwin)]

Theories about evolution had circulated widely in Britain and France from the late eighteenth century onwards. In the nineteenth century the work of Georges Cuvier on the reconstruction of creatures from fossil remains and of Charles Lyell on the geological evidence for the great age of the world and its slow transformation had prepared the ground for consideration of Darwinism.

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Nazis: STILL Socialists

pic_giant_022714_SM_Nazis-Still-Socialists

Tim Stanley’s definition excludes basically all real socialists, past and present. 

de_nsdapI almost missed this, from a few days ago. NRO‘s Jonah Goldberg is uniquely qualified to contribute to this debate, if you’ve not read Jonah’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”, I’ve plugged it here before — accessible as an ebook download through Amazon — and recommend it again, any chance I get.  To get a fuller picture, flip back to Daniel Hannan‘s provocative essay Leftists Become Incandescent when Reminded of the Socialist Roots of Nazism, and Tim Stanley‘s opposing essay, Hitler wasn’t a socialist. Stop saying he was

Jonah Goldberg weighs in:

This feels like old times. Across the pond at the TelegraphTim Stanley and Daniel Hannan are having a friendly disagreement on the question of whether the Nazis were in fact socialists. I don’t usually wade into these arguments anymore, but I’ve been writing a lot on related themes over the last nazis_posterfew weeks and I couldn’t resist.

Not surprisingly, I come down on Hannan’s side. I could write a whole book about why I agree with Dan, except I already did. So I’ll be more succinct.

Fair warning, though, I wrote this on a plane trip back from Colorado and it’s way too long. So if you’re not interested in this stuff, you might as well wander down the boardwalk and check out some of the other stalls now.

Stanley makes some fine points here and there, but I don’t think they add up to anything like corroboration of his thesis. The chief problem with his argument is that he’s taking doctrinaire or otherwise convenient definitions of socialism and applying them selectively to Nazism.

Stanley’s chief tactic is to simply say Nazis shouldn’t be believed when they called themselves socialists. It was all marketing and spin, even putting the word in their name. Socialism was popular, so they called themselves socialists. End of story.

So when Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser proclaimed:

We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!

. . . he was just saying that because, in Stanley’s mind, socialism was “fashionable.”

Obviously there’s some truth to that. Socialism was popular. So was nationalism. That’s why nationalists embraced socialism and why socialists quickly embraced nationalism. It wasn’t a big leap for either because they’re basically the same thing! In purely economic terms, nationalization and socialization are nothing more than synonyms (socialized medicine = nationalized health care).

Nazis Hated Bolsheviks, Who Knew? Read the rest of this entry »


The Campus Utopians

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The Left seems to think you can change reality the way you change your major.

Jonah Goldberg writes:  A few years ago, I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. But that’s not important right now. Around that time, I also wrote a piece for the magazine about the new utopianism of American liberalism. In short, I think you can judge every progressive “ism” by its Utopia. What’s vexing about contemporary liberalism is that it doesn’t admit its Utopia forthrightly. The Marxists were honest about the dream of the classless society blooming from the withered-away state.

[Jonah Goldberg’s latest book: “The Tyranny of Cliches” is available at Amazon.]

The Social Gospel progressives openly promised to create a “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth (Obama did once slip and say that we can create a “Kingdom here on earth,” but he’s usually let his followers fill-in-the-blank about why, exactly, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for). To their credit, the transhumanist types are honest about their utopianism; that glorious day when we can download our brains into X-boxes and Vulcan mind-meld with the toaster.

Read the rest of this entry »