No, I have not retreated to living under a rock for the past weeks. I’ve been reading LGF, Gates of Vienna, Jihad Watch and the rest on the one hand, and Daily Kos, CounterPunch and Common Dreams on the other, just as before; but whereas previously the reading of the enemy’s writings would provoke some anger in me and then a lengthy refutation, nowadays I find they provoke only rage. The Daily Kos diaries, the CounterPunch screeds, all make my blood boil, boil at the injustice of obsessively criticizing the one state that is not deserving of such criticisms, and when I try to write something (as I did twice the last period), I am consumed by rage, and the result is a cursefest which is a far cry from the intellectually argued posts thus far.
I decided to wait until some opportunity knocked, until there emerged a new (or more accurately “relatively unexplored”) argument to address or to make. Such a one has finally come now. The rage is still there, and I don’t think I’ll be able to completely exclude it from the post, but the new material is a good starting point for a post that less reflects the fury I feel.
The Dune series of science fiction books by Frank Herbert has again provided me with food for thought. It is not the particular events but the mere concept of the series that has fascinated me from the start, and filled me with great admiration from the writer. I like to contrast Dune with its contemporary 2001: A Space Odissey, by Arthur Clarke (novel) and Stanley Kubrick (film version, with which most are familiar). To my mind, 2001 strikes me as a cheap, common exercise in extrapolation much like Back To The Future II, while the setting of Dune is derived from the sane, rational view that human nature isn’t, barring miraculous intervention, likely to change, not soon, and not in 10,000 years either.
I wish to engage in literary analysis and comparison first.
2001 tries to depict life, politics and technology in that year, and flunks on all three counts: it assumes off-world colonization; it assumes the existence of the Soviet Union; and it assumes the success of Artificial Intelligence. In all three fields, the error is that of extrapolation, born of the belief in inevitable progress.
“One small step for me, and a giant leap for mankind”, said Neil Armstrong when he set foot on the moon. But was it really a giant leap for mankind? I think not. That event in 1969 may be a memorable one for those who lived to experience it, but it soon enough entered the domain of trivia. “1st century CE: Roman Emperor Caligula makes his horse a senator”, “11th century: King Canute stands before the tide in an attempt to end the flattery of his courtiers”, “1969: Neil Armstrong is the first human to set foot on the moon”. Nice to know, but in the real world, nothing changed: humans are still humans, despite all the vain (not to mention bloody) endeavors of the Progressives to engineer them into something new. The drive toward space exploration today is at an all-time low, there being much more pressing concerns here on earth, and no Soviet Union to spur the United States of America into a Space Race.
The Soviet Union. Before 1991, we were all sure it had a long, long time to stay. Sure, in the 1980’s we could see the Eastern Bloc collapse state after state, but the assumption still was that this was only a respite on the part of the USSR to gain momentum, and then the repeats of 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia would follow. The demise of Soviet Russia was a shock to all in 1991 (although, it is often said today that Russia under Putin is the successor of what was before, just not Communist in name).
Clarke and Kubrick assumed the existence of the Soviet Union in 2001 and were wrong. As a perfect match to that failed prediction, they failed to foresee 2001 as the year in which the opening shot for the continuation of the 1,400 year long war between Islam and the non-Muslim world would be fired. A year in which man is supposed to have already colonized the moon, and you suggest it would be remembered as the year in which religious believers would fly passenger planes into office buildings?! How medieval of you! But that’s what happened in fact, and the fallacy of historical scorn (or, in the words of C S Lewis, “chronological snobbery”) is the pitfall where 2001 fell while Dune masterfully circled around it.
Lastly, the error of extrapolation is to be found in technology: the famed HAL, the computer programmed to have human-like intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is a dream dating from the early days of computing, from the 1950’s, when computers were still vacuum-tubed monsters filling whole rooms. It has inspired a load of movies on the theme of the slave that rebels against his master and ousts him, such as The Matrix and Terminator series, to name a few. The best and brightest minds devoted themselves to the pursuit of AI, of making computers exhibit human-like intelligence. Even dedicated programming languages (such as LISP) were invented for that purpose.
Until John Searle’s seminal article of 1980, the assumption had always been the inadequacy of hardware; AI is not succeeding, said its proponents, because our sights are still much too high for the hardware we have in possession. They trusted, then, in Moore’s law (processor power doubling every 18 months, with slight modifications to the rule for other types of hardware) to provide them with the hardware needed to surmount the challenges of AI. As we can see, we now have, on each of our desktops, hardware that makes the original Cray I comparable to the Apple II, and the hardware in possession of research faculties is staggering in computing power. Yet we are no closer to the realization of AI than we were in the 1960’s. How can that be?
Searle’s article, the Chinese Room article, suggests rethinking the problem: it is not hardware but a systemic limitation that prevents HAL from becoming a reality. He framed it as a parable: a man in a room, with the most explicit and detailed instructions for translating Chinese into English; he receives Chinese text from one opening, translates it according to the rules, and then hands out the translation from the other opening. As far as the result seems, the customers of Chinese–English translations think he knows Chinese, English and the art of translation perfectly; in reality, the man does nothing but follow rules, and he knowns no more Chinese than a donkey can evaluate the cholesterol quotient of fruit soup. Computers execute instructions, and nothing more; even the most elaborate “neural networks” have no intelligence, no self-awareness, none of that which separates man from machine, no matter how much the hardware is improved. One could be satisfied with inserting a few coins into a vending machine and getting the desired drink, but if said vending machine neglects to give him the change (at best), then he could not do what he would do with a human vendor—discuss the matter.
Deep insights though 2001: A Space Odissey may contain (personally, I think it’s the most boring movie I ever saw), its predictions were consistent flops, of the type of the early technological “visionaries” who predicted that, in the year 2000, computers would no longer weigh hundreds of tonnes and occupy twenty rooms, but instead would weigh just one tonne and occupy just two rooms. Extrapolation is the visionary’s prime pitfall, and 2001 is one of the best examples of that. In contrast, Dune is amazing in its sanity—in its carefulness not to extrapolate, in its assumption that human nature is not easily changed, if at all, and in its view of history as tilts of the pendulum.
The late Frank Herbert assumed space colonization (but that’s OK when you project 10,000 years forward), yet his view of humanity is something “retrograde”: the Imperium is nothing but the medieval Holy Roman Empire updated to a Space Age setting, with feudal lords owning planets as fiefs, a Spacing Guild monopolizing space travel (Venice and Genoa), an all-valuable spice growing on one planet only (comparable to the nutmeg and cloves of Indonesia), troubadours, pervasive religion, and so many more of that which springs to mind when we think about the Middle Ages, the Age of Feudalism, the Age of Faith.
The “Progressives”, from the 18th century freethinkers to the Dawkinses and Harrises of this day, have constantly predicted the demise of religion. Herbert gives their view some room in his series, as “the agnostic Guild members”, who view all religion as a plot to keep the public docile (the Royal Lie Theory of religion, itself an example of unwarranted extrapolation; for it is one thing to point out clergymen fleecing their flock, which no one would deny, but quite another to assume religion was invented for that very purpose), but he places them in the framework of a universe that is mostly religious. Not for Herbert was this “Progressive” idea that religion would die out; he was far too perceptive of human nature to assume that the advances of science and technology could be humanity’s promised Messiah. His view, I hold, is the most rational: I see nothing reasonable in the thought that stone-cold, dry-fact science and technology could address timeless human concerns. Far from disrespecting science and technology, I think this view is the most respectful, for it does not (as does the “Progressive” view) make an idol out of them.
And now, finally, after this literary excursus, I come to the point, to what is more directly related to this blog: the narrator’s religious worldview in Dune.
The various religious worldviews in Dune, including the agnostic (“Royal Lie”) one, are all narrated. But there is, of course, the storyline itself, not attributed to the mind of a character, but belonging to the narrator, at least in that particular story. What religious worldview encloses all the others in the Dune series?
It may be tempting to answer, “None”. Seeing the admirable impartiality of Frank Herbert, his descriptiveness in telling us of the multitude of religious beliefs and unbeliefs throughout the Dune series, it would be tempting to regard him as having been totally detached, empty of thoughts of his own, absolutely neutral. But such a thing is an impossibility.
We are alive and we have minds of our own, therefore we have opinions of our own, however much we try to deny it. I do not believe in such a thing as being “unbiased”; there is always some bias (and therefore my complaint with the Leftstream Media isn’t that they’re biased, but that they have the wrong bias). Far too many times have I seen an “analysis of the Bible from the unbiased, detached, scientific point of view” that is actually biased toward explaining away all the supernatural events in any way possible. To call such an “unbiased opinion” is fraud! Be honest and say your analysis is from an anti-supernaturalist, atheistic point of view, for that is the truth; analyzing the Bible from the atheistic point of view is no more unbiased than doing so from the Islamic point of view. I give Frank Herbert full credit for objectivity in depicting all the religious worldviews of Dune; for neutrality, however, nothing, because it is an impossibility. He definitely did write the narrative of Dune from a religious worldview in its own right. What was that view, in my opinion?
The short version: I think Dune is written from the worldview of paganism. The longer version: I deduce this not from occasional expressions like “gods below”, which are narrated expressions (i.e. uttered by the characters), and anyhow are beset by monotheistic expressions (you can find “Allahu Akbar” in Children of Dune). I deduce this from the narrator’s overarching emphasis on genetic memory.
In truth, I tell you I have found next to nothing that is purely spiritual in the narrative of Dune. That which we can call spiritual experiences, such as visions and prophecies, are strongly anchored to the matter-based, blood-based narrative, a narrative that puts genetic memory at the center. Though the author contrasts between the common, ignorant people, who know nothing beyond the timebound dream following “birth-shock”, and the special, enlightened few who can recall the memories of their ancestors from within their blood, tracing their past to ancestry in Terra 10,000 years back, the difference is not a qualitative one. The former just aren’t “developed” enough; if they were, their “spiritual experiences” would still be derived from the material basis of genetics. That is paganism.
People think paganism is about polytheism, idolatry, nature worship and material sacrifices. That is true, but those are surface manifestations, while there are other, less-known, characteristics lying below the seen and familiar layers. The belief in genetic memory is one of the most pervasive of these: pagan peoples from all over the world have held that a storehouse of memories, from the present to the beginning of the nation, is available in one’s blood. Much of pagan ritual and mysticism is devoted to finding ways to extract those secrets from one’s blood: vision quests, blood-letting, dream catching and necromancy.
I have often wondered about the Torah’s prohibition of talking with the spirits of the dead (King Saul’s last sin). In most cases the explanation has been, “It was a pagan-like practice”. But the animal sacrifices of the Temple could also be said to resemble (repeat: resemble; far be it from me to compare G-d’s holy ordinances to pagan filth) the practices of the idolators, therefore that explanation can at best be a partial one. I think the prohibition of necromancy is not (merely) out of guarding G-d’s people from imitating the ways of the pagans, but is one of the most potent laws given unto them in order to break any spirit of paganism in them. All methods of gaining spiritual knowledge by tapping into the genetic storehouse are a direct affront to G-d’s concept of memory and inheritance.
It is written, “Moses has bequeathed us Law, an inheritance to the community of Jacob”. Gone, gone away is the pagan idea of maintaining the heritage of the nation by shamanically consulting the deceased ancestors; to Israel, the guarantor of the future is the copying of the text and passing it to the children. The importance of writing has been given its highest boost under Judaism—wherever there is the danger of forgetting, things must be written down. Thus, the Oral Law, given to Moses at Sinai as the key to the correct interpretation of the Written Law, was passed down from person to person until the decline of education in Judea under the Romans prompted its writing down (as the Mishnah). Nikkud (points indicating the vowel-sounds) and cantillation marks were added to guard against reading errors (though the Torah Scrolls do not have them, for they are but reading aids). The development of Jewish Law, from the Talmud to the modern-day responsa, has been codified in its entirety. With few exceptions (mostly concerning the services at the Temple; HaShem will fill those gaps when He builds the Temple again, speedily in our days, amen), there are no missing pieces in Jewish religion. Thus, it is not an excuse for a Jew to say, “I wasn’t brought up on the religion, so I can’t practice it”—zil g’mor, said Rabbi Hillel, “Go and study”, for it is all written down, waiting for you as an inheritance.
In contrast, the pagans seldom wrote down their religions, and then only in fragments, certainly not enough for their recovery. Why should they have written their religions down, when they believed that, even if something were lost, it could be regained through connecting to the blood-based library of the Volk? Yet it is not so—it is not factually so. Irish-Americans have had little success in gleaning the religion of their ancestors through necromantic methods, instead having to rely mainly on the writings of that indisputably biased enemy of the Celts, Julius Caesar. Those of Teutonic heritage are more fortunate: they have the Eddas and Sagas to read, recorded by Christian Norseman Snorri Sturlusson in the 13th century. But aside from the fact that even those corpuses are not sufficient in order to restore the religion dumped by Harald Bluetooth, have you noticed that this preservation is by a mode that is not pagan but Biblical? Whatever happened to the usefulness of tapping into the secrets within the coiled coil, Teutonic, Celtic or otherwise? What’s with this… this Biblical reliance on the written word to secure memory? G-d always wins.
Paganism has always been racist to the core. That is evident, because the exclusion of person X from the secrets of nation Y on the grounds of ancestry cannot be called anything other than racism. The mere concept of blood-based or genetic memory is racist without any possibility of dispute. It is therefore the height of irony to see those “anti-racist” Leftists (oh, another example of Leftist hypocrisy! So what else is new?) express such an admiration for paganism, for “pre-Biblical religion”, many of them even being members in the movement to revive those religions (again: in the Sturlusson way rather than in the Witch of En-Dor’s way). They wholeheartedly buy into the racist narrative of Dune that people have not just a material (lands, water etc.) heritage but also a spiritual one by virtue of their blood.
And those same “anti-racists” embrace the Khazaria Hypothesis. I have never ceased to wonder at that: why is it that, the more a person veers to anti-Zionism, the greater his likelihood to give credence to the Khazaria Hypothesis? What does this hypothesis serve? After all, more than 50% of the Jews of Israel are admitted, even by the Muslim enemy, to be of “original Semitic stock”, meaning that more than half of Israeli Jews have a racially legitimate claim on the Land of Israel. But apart from that, as you can see from the previous emphasized phrase, the Khazaria Hypothesis is a racist argument, racist to the core, with no redeeming feature, with no way to excuse it.
I leave the refutation of the Khazaria Hypothesis to others, more competent than me at that field. But I wish to engage in a thought-experiment, assuming that the Khazaria Hypothesis is true. Let us say that the majority of Zionist settlers from 1880 to 1950 were descendants of Khazars. That was 70 years of settling on an almost desolate land and setting up a state against all odds. So many points at which the whole endeavor could have died out: from the catastrophe of malaria in the late 19th and early 20th century, to the attack of five Arab armies in 1948. So many points at which G-d could have pulled the plug on those Khazars’ grandiose project. Yet He did not.
Again assuming the truth of the Khazaria Hypothesis, the meaning of this is that, contrary to those hell-deserving hypocrites who condemn Jewish nationalism (Zionism) as racism, HaShem decided to accept the descendants of the Khazars as an integral part of His Chosen People. This is an anti-racist as you could possibly get! The Khazaria Hypothesis, then, if true, swings back to bite the anti-Zionist racists in their gluteus maximus. As Steven Plaut (HaShem bless him) said: the whole argument falls on the fact that Judaism is not based on race, blood, genetics and any such thing. Contrary, I add, to the paganism that many of those anarcho-primitivists on the Left so idolize.
Now the “Palestinians” have emerged as a nation from scratch, and the fiction has been maintained in order to usurp the Jews’ claim to the Land of Israel, a claim that is not based on the Holocaust, nor on having made the desert bloom, nor even on its being the land of our ancestors (for, as I said, that’s a pagan sort of justification), but on G-d’s decree, in His Torah. The “Palestinians” have no real way to stake that claim, for they lack any essential difference between their brothers in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Syria. If they take the Arab narrative, then they can trace themselves to 638 CE, after which their land was designated as only a part of the Province of Syria. If they try to claim themselves the descendants of pre-Israelite inhabitants, supposedly predating Joshua (that great destroyer of pagan idolatry, the man who wrote the Aleinu sealing every Jewish prayer), then they slide into paganism, with all the racism that it entails.
The “Palestinians”, when marshaling their claims to a secular (read: Western Leftist) audience, cite ancestral continuity as the linchpin of their claim to the land. They wind that time machine in ever-growing circles: the idea that each “Palestinian” child is a living embodiment of his grandfather expelled from the land 60 years ago, such that this is the only case in the world of the status of “refugee” transmitted across generations, is just the appetizer. The list of ancestral “Palestinian” grievances has only widened, diving deeper into history: they are the Arabs wronged by Western colonialism from Napoleon’s time; they are the common folk of Roman and Byzantine times demanding national recognition after all these years (how convenient for them to have remembered it just when the Jews had arrived); and finally, they are the Canaanites and other people of the seven “First Nations” that Joshua drove away more than 3,000 years ago. What a feat of historical revisionism and ancestral grievance-mongering we have here!
And for that purpose, everything is kosher. Their embrace of the Khazaria Hypothesis is one of the blatant examples, but their narrative that “Zionism is a European, White Settler Colonialist enterprise” is the overarching one. Comparisons to Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa naturally follow, but they all stem from that racist root, however much that root may masquerade as “anti-racism”: the idea that Whitey has no right to live in either the Orient or the New World. The mirror image of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”. Racism cannot be anything other than white, they hold, and colonialism cannot be call such when perpetrated by Muslims in Europe or Mexican illegals on the US border. It could be called “reverse racism”, but that would be part of the problem, because it assumes white anti-black (or anti-brown) racism is the norm; no, it’s racism, just racism, even if it’s the brown or black anti-white kind.
The United Nations has spared no efforts in declaring the rights of indigenous peoples, their rights to both material resources and spiritual ones (language, culture, religion). This is not necessarily a bad thing per se, but this is now, more often than not, used as a club by the “reverse”-racist grievance-mongers. Indigenism may at this stage be nothing but an excuse for “reparations” from the “rich white states”, but it has the potential to be the platform for a vengeful return of the dark world of blood-based preferences, all couched in the Orwellian language of “diversity” and “multiculturalism”, of course.
The future of mankind is in G-d’s Law, His Word that will go forth from Zion—from Jerusalem. The alternative, that of human-authored revenge for past genetic wrongs, cried out from the human-built structures in both New York (the UN building) and Mecca (the Kaaba), can spell nothing but a bloodbath that will make the last Volk War (a.k.a. World War II) look like a prick of the pin in comparison.
“And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed”, said G-d to Abraham (Genesis 12:3): neither a One World melting-pot, nor a ranking of the nations of the world into higher classes and lower classes. Written inheritance, the one and only antidote to racism.
Labels: culture, fakestinians, jewishview, leftism, religions, worldwar