John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

The Seldon Plan

genesiscount boldly ventures to answer some of my pointed questions about the Leftist plan for dealing with an implacable Jihadist enemy.  He writes:
Not really being leftist this answer may be invalid, but my guess is that the likely answer would be as follows. My presumption here is of a sane, highly idealistic person who believes several things I consider incorrect, but who does not have to be presumed to be either stupid or brainwashed to do so.

This hypothetical sane and honest Leftist might simply claim that the problem is just not as acute as the more fearful might want to paint it, bringing up a couple of points that seem not unreasonable:

- Due to basic human apathy the jihadists will never be more than a minority within Islam; more importantly, it seems very unlikely they will ever be a *unified* force. Jihadist organizations have a demonstrable inability to keep from turning on each other or on their own host populations and governments (Islam's fundamental disunity as a religion being a significant factor here). There is no Saladin in today's Muslim world, nor any new prospective Caliph on the horizon, and the likelihood of either arising soon seems remote.

- Moreover, it seems unlikely that Islam will be immune to the near-universal downward demographic trend of wealthy societies; as Muslim societies grow wealthier their birth rates will fall just as Western society's has fallen, and the expected demographic "swamping" is not likely to occur. Historically, religious fanaticism has seldom coexisted with significant wealth and luxury, and Wahhabi jihadism (a movement only decades old, after all, and born out of a post-Ottoman collapse from the reactionary ravings of an anti-American cleric) is likely to lose its appeal as social stability and security expands. Fanatical movements within religions are nothing new; yes, some have turned the world upside down, but the catastrophes are outnumbered by the historical ashheaps.

The leftist, in essence, I think is not so much likely to propose a solution to the threat as simply to argue that the threat is nowhere near as dangerous as believed, and therefore safely ignoreable. While there may be truth to this idea of overstatement, I think it betrays the leftist tendency to aggregate, dehumanized thinking: any damage less than nuclear war is "safely" ignoreable... especially if the people harmed all work in a high-finance tower in New York.

My comment: This is a good answer for several reasons.

First, it hypothesizes the existence of a Leftist who is not stupid or brainwashed. While I have met any number of Leftists who were stupider than they thought they were (of course, they usually think of themselves as geniuses), I have not noticed any remarkable difference in IQ. I assume that their conclusions follow from their axioms, which, unfortunately, are usually unexamined, or are remarkably stupid themselves.

I mean no disrespect: smart people can believe stupid ideas, especially if those ideas merely conform to the prejudices of one's age and environs. And I pretend no virtue here: I can recall many a stupid idea of mine own, particularly in the area of sexual liberation, which nigh ruined my life, that I absorbed from my youthful reading, because such an idea conformed to those prejudices I thought self-evident.(Ironically, I was congratulating myself on being a freethinking nonconformist during this robotlike programming. Ah! The ignorance of youth!) 

Second, the answer actually attempts to answer the question actually posed, which no other comment did.

Third, it is a defensible answer: that is, one could actually have a serious discussion on the issue of whether jihadism is essential or accidental to the religion of the Prophet, what role the movement is likely to play in the future, and whether the apathy of the majority of Muslims (who, like anyone, just want to be left in peace) can check the career of the terror-masters.

(My own response on that particular question is an eructation of utter disbelief. That fact that the majority of Russians were not Communist Party members, nor the majority of Germans Nazis, nor the majority of Chinese Maoists, nor the majority of Frenchmen Revolutionaries, nor the majority (at first) of Romans Christians makes it clear to me that the silent majority has exactly zero influence on the course of events. The sheep follow the shepherd, and it does not matter whether they outnumber him.)

Finally, the answer is cogent and well put. "The leftist, in essence, I think is not so much likely to propose a solution to the threat as simply to argue that the threat is nowhere near as dangerous as believed"

This is my conclusion as well. I am by no means an expert on sinistropsychology (the science that studies the mental processes of the Left) but their overall world-view does not seem to admit of the possibility that enemies actually exist, much less implacable enemies.

1. What is your plan to deal with an implacable enemy? Ignore them. The dialectic of history, what we might call the Seldon Plan, with the inevitability of a law of nature, will sponge this stain from the pages of time.

2. Do you believe there is a peaceful means to reduce their threat? Yes; treat them with courtesy, and wait with folded hands for the psychohistorical Seldon Plan to eliminate the threat.

3. Do you think giving the Jihadists money, or power, or apologies, or giving them Israel will placate them? Not necessarily, but if the Jihad can be placated long enough for the Seldon Plan to eliminate the threat, that is the strategy with maximum benefit and minimum cost.

4. What is the basis for this belief? No answer.

5. How would you defend this belief from a skeptic? No answer.

Which would all be fine answers, if there were such a thing as the Seldon Plan, and if in fact the Second Foundation had actually predicted the downfall of the Jihad. Instead Mark Steyn, amateur Psychohistorian, has extrapolated demographic numbers, and come to the opposite conclusion.

I can see why a man who believes in God can repose in the belief that history will work itself out according to the divine plan, each note following the conductor's wand in the Almighty Hand. (Unless, of course, the man believes in the God described in the book of the Apocalypse, in which case he should regard the coming plan of future history with terror and horror.)

But I cannot see what a man who believes history is shaped by blind Darwinian forces can hope for. The robust, fecund, and younger organisms who overthrow the old Dinosaurs enjoy no more nor less beforehand assurance of success than the tried and true organisms like sharks and beetles crushing new competition for their perfectly-fitted niches enjoy. The whole point of Darwin is that it is a branch of Chaos Theory: tiny variations in initial conditions leads to wildly different outcomes. By definition, there can be no Darwin Plan.
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