Our Children Are The Guarantors

Defending Zionism from its detractors. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. Let the other side apologize for a change.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Tribes

There is one point of agreement between the progressives and the conservatives, and that is the depressive effect which globalized, urban, consumerist mass culture has upon the individual. They differ in their reactions: the former usually ending up throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but the latter often getting confused as to the proper reaction, both to the phenomenon and to the progressives’ attitude toward it.

My opinions on the constant barrage of commercials (I call it brainwashing), on the evils of fast food, on the mind-numbing power of television, on the tastelessness of pop culture and its icons such as Britney Spears, on the drabness of an “everyone to himself” life of big cities and on the emotional starvation of online attachments are the same now as they were in the 1990’s, when I was a left-winger, when I called myself a progressive. In that, the Progressive Left and the Conservative Right see eye to eye almost completely: not all is well in our kingdom.

Nor is it an entirely new sentiment: from the 18th century onward, we see Western writers projecting their dissatisfaction with their own culture onto non-Western characters, characters that are to varying degrees of proximity to reality. The “noble savage” dates from that age.

I have been reading geographic magazines since elementary school, and I saw then a trait in them that still exists now: that editorializing in favor of exotic cultures. Today, when we can all see the mainstream media betray its stated job of objectivity day after day with its editorializing, this is no great surprise; back then, it shocked me. In the case of geographic magazines, it is even worse than the mainstream media, for the MSM has only short items in which to do its underhanded work, while those magazines have whole, spacious articles. Then as now, you will not find it difficult to read in them an article whose spirit is no different from that of Montesquieu (of Persian Letters fame) and Diderot: the outsider is used as the platform for criticizing one’s own society. Those criticisms, as I said, are such that progressives and conservatives share, but the geographic magazines and the mainstream media are of an overwhelmingly progressive, left-leaning streak. And that has dire consequences for our present conflict, for the War On Islam.

An article from a geographic magazine would be too long to bring here, so here’s a link from Flickr, the online photo album, that is quite representative of that mindset. Photograph The Bedouin of Sinai, by Mike Marcus, from September 27, 2005:

Photo: Bedouin boy and Bedouin girl posing, smiling

That has two comments. First, from Gunnella:

Love the tilt of their heads, ;-) the pride!

And second, by the photographer (mikemarcus):

They are proud and they deserve to be. Bedouins seem truily satisfied with thier lifes. How many westerners can say that? (All spelling original. —ZY)

Concisely put indeed: tribesmen are happy, modern Western man is not. Though such a sweeping generalization should raise question marks, especially when sounded by those who claim to “oppose all bigotry, stereotyping and racism”, there is in it the grain of truth that modern society of mass-production has lost us something.

Do you not long for it, that society whose members are a community, helping each other in times of need? Do you not pine for family ties, for gatherings where your kin are united in common cause and thought and feeling? Do you not yearn for those tales of love where the man is willing to go in fire and water for the woman, to be her protector and win her heart so as to marry her? Do you not long for traditions, for authentic festivities, for the opportunity to say, “This is what we do”, for being yourself a possible object of an article in a geographic magazine for a change?

“Romanticism”, I hear you say. “Letting your feelings carry you away, away from reason”, I hear you warn. “No better than those Sixties Radicals you so despise”, I hear you scoff. And yet… how many of us who were raised as progressives and became conservatives would have done that if the change had not been stated to involve the rejection of the mass-produced decadence we see around us? The fact that we might have a point of agreement with the progressives doesn’t negate the reality of that drive, that push, that thrust toward something bigger and better. The only question is where this takes us.

The progressives say, “Western culture is trash, all that mass-produced junk is an integral part of it and not a modern aberration, the only way to escape is to throw it all away and adopt the wisdom of the non-Westerns, thereby also atoning for our past colonial sins”. This leads to all kinds of roads to perdition: Marxism, anarcho-primitivism, multiculturalism and, of course, Islam, whether by actually converting to it, as Adam Gadahn did, or, more usually, giving sympathy and support and aid and comfort to it as a “resistance movement against Western imperialism”. In which case the sentiment of, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” prevails over many, many stated progressive ideals, such that the suggestion that women might actually be harmed by abortion is decried as “Biblical patriarchy”, whereas the custom of female genital mutilation prevalent in African societies is hailed as a form of women’s liberation!

On the sane side of the map, the side that is not so lost in hating itself and embracing anything exotic solely by virtue of its exoticity, what is to be done? So far, conservative reactions to leftist Occidentalism (to invert the title of Edward Said’s intellectual ball and chain) have been to discredit them without addressing the common root, shared, as I said, by both progressives and conservatives, from which they sprout. They rightly say that a full application of those anti-Western ideas would lead to famine, oppression and misery of unimagined proportions. (As they already did. Ask any Cambodian.) But then they fail to make the positive case for an authentic, might I say even tribal, Western culture.

For I know, I know, what I have as my own now! I see this situation in which, when one man suddenly gets in financial trouble, all the others help him—because he is one of the regular congregants at our synagogue. I see at least one day every week set out, mandatorily, for all the members of the family to be together at the table, singing and conversing on holy and good things. The community watches for unmarried men and women and cares for their solution. Life is steeped in tradition. Festivities abound, whether the gaiety of the Purim carnivals or the solemn procession of bringing in a new Torah scroll. And all this, all this is without relinquishing a single modern convenience. City tribesmen, as happy as any Bedouin.

Now that was a description of life in [Orthodox] Judaism. But every Western country has its traditions, mostly Christian, some pre-Christian reworked into modern times. And it never ceases to amaze me how progressives envy the Bedouin tribesmen yet trash the Bible. So many traditional customs and ways of life that win their hearts when marketed as “Oriental exoticisms” can be found in the Bible. The three patriarchs of Judaism, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (peace be upon them), lived as desert nomads. This is not to say life as desert nomads is necessarily desirable—I just described a whole, authentic tribal life without it—but it does show that the progressives don’t just betray their minds, they betray their own hearts as well. The fact that the same custom elicits a different reaction from them when presented as Biblical than when presented as, for example, Ancient Native Himalayan means the progressives are not for anything positive, but only for the negative goal of doing away with Western civilization. It makes things all very clear now.

Biblical justice and Greek democracy are good enough reasons for some as to why Western civilization is worth fighting for. But apart from these admittedly relatively abstract concepts, there is a substratum of native, authentic Western culture, or cultures, which can still shine clear through the mud of mass-produced junk culture, and which can thus serve as the anchor against throwing it all away for life in a Marxist or Islamic gulag. Be your own tribes.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Ptah said...

Don't let the lack of comments on this post discourage you, YZ: I read it the same day you posted, and have been mentally gnawing on it since.

You are right regarding the phenomenon: it's the "Noble Savage"/"Margaret Mead unspoiled dweller of paradise" myth where one's declaration that the grass being greener on the other side as justification for burning down one's house and fields. I haven't met, however, a National Geographic photographer who tossed his cameras, passport, and citizenship, to join in "the love" in any of these 'far away therefore superior' communities.

It should be pointed out that many of these outgushings center on communities that are isolated, resulting in a lot of clan and family intermarriage, with a result that everyone is probably someone else's cousin. The same thing pretty much happens in the hill country of Tennessee/Kentucky/Carolinas, but we know the opinion of the exo-cultural worshippers regarding them.

And you are right on the solution: communities of faith, such as synagogue, church, or mosque, serve as means to preserve culture and traditions within a matrix of people that allows them to connect to each other. That's the strength of Synagogue and Church, whose norms served as the foundation of Western civilization, and the problem with the Mosque, whose norms are expressly based on the life and character of a 7th century warlord and pedophile.

Meh, to me, it all boils down to the number of choices one has for friends and helpmeets: stay in a small community, and you gain deep knowledge of a handful of people your age, plus or minus two years. Go into a big urban area, and you have far more choices with regard to friends and potential mates, but your knowledge of them goes down. You're forced more to rely on assumptions about default behaviour, which makes you prey to con artists. Synagogue, Church, and Mosque provide a smaller subset of those who believe as you do, and have a shared set of personal values and (hopefully) virtues that make connecting with them a less chancey and dangerous game. And hopefully a more interesting adventure. (Even then, the New Testament letters are full of cautions and counsel for people to stop being beggars, con artists, gigolos, and moochers, get a job, work, and give of themselves to each other.)

While I've always been a church goer, I have been privileged to have recently become part of a church whose paster works very hard to encourage this sense of community and connectedness. To me, it is working quite well: half of our regularly attending young people are there, but their parents are not. We have a great men's group, and I have to really struggle at work to avoid giving bearhugs in public to the three other members who work in the same building as I do. When I was recently put under temptation that would have threatened my marital fidelity, I ran to four members to ask for prayer and support, which I got.

I always used to think that Church was all about being strong in the faith. However, it took this church for me to realize that a strong faith SHOULD have good side effects.

(However, it seems to me that any cause that happens to be bigger than oneself can be a medium of connectedness. The U.S. Military immediately springs to mind.)

February 23, 2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

Ptah,

It wouldn't be truthful of me to say I don't like seeing comments to my posts, but it's not that big a deal when there aren't any; it's enough for me to see my posts listed on the aggregators and linked to, which means there's a readership.

True dat, what you say about the National Geographic photographers. It's like a website on primitivism--using high technology to argue against technology. ;-) Hypocrisy rules OK...

Inbreeding in non-Muslim societies is nearly always the result of lack of availability. Jewish inbreeding is a good case in point: it was there at the genesis of the Jewish people (the Patriarchs and their wives were cousins), and also within the isolated communities of the Diaspora, but today it's either non-existent or nearly so. For Muslim societies, the problem isn't availability; it's perpetuated by adherence to Mohammed's example, just as you mentioned. Muslims' woes are, as usual, self-inflicted.

The emphasis on faith as being all about the truth is, in many ways, an overreaction (albeit justified) to the postmodern lack of it. It's good to make it clear that religion properly isn't about "Me and my feelings" but about the object of worship; and yet, happiness is an inseparable part of a life of faith, and chronic unhappiness in your walk means you're doing something wrong. King David says (Psalm 34:9), "Taste and see that HaShem is good". That is: he invites even the non-believer to come to the faith for the good feeling, and the belief in the veracity of the religion will follow promptly.

Thanks for the comment! Good week to you.
ZY

February 24, 2007 11:29 PM  

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