But the global sale of PlayStation 3 or a world in Levis is only the glitzy veneer of civilization. That shared taste almost unnoticeably hinges on a powerful and liberal United States that keeps the peace and remains the spiritual and intellectual fountainhead of an entire global system--one ultimately dependent on American core ideas like freedom and tolerance. What pressures China to liberalize, protects the creativity of Japan, assures Europeans they can be postmodernists in safety, and guarantees that the world commerce is protected from both old and new piracy is a confident and strong United States.
In contrast, grant a jihadist his 7th-century dream world, and within months even he wouldn't have a cell phone signal to call in an IED explosion.
So just as the central nervous system controls an animal's most powerful muscles, so too capital, politics, and armed forces are all governed by subtle, unseen public opinion, or the people's will to define and defend their civilization. For America soldiers to fight jihadists in Afghanistan or Iraq, Americans back home must grasp whom they are fighting and why. And that's the core problem when we consider the recent news and the West's response to it....
The rationalist would find a common Thucydidean denominator in all this madness, one of lost honor and rampant envy. There is wealth aplenty pouring into Iran and Iraq through oil that is sold at a high price in a world market whose sanctity is ultimate protected by the United States. So the poverty there of radical Islam is not material, but one of the soul....
How odd that Iranians cannot design a car or computer, but can with the proper instruction manual spend millions of hours putting together Western-designed centrifuges, like the stamped lettered-parts of a build-it-your-self intricate model toy...
So again, the problem with the radicals in the Middle East is not the lack of capital or mental energy. Rather under the influence of Islamism and autocracy a deep-seeded cultural malady distorts human effort and creativity solely for destructive purposes.
Read it all.
Ayn Rand in her writings originated the concept of the "second-hander"; a person who is intellectually dependent on others and cannot create because the source of creation comes from the genuine self. These are the kind of people who are motivated by envy and who take delight in destroying the creative efforts of others (when they cannot steal them). they are a perfect example of the "poverty of the soul" that Hanson talks about.
In The Fountainhead, Gail Wynand and Howard Roark have this exchange about "second-handers":
GW: "I think Toohey understands that. That's what helps him spread his vicious nonsense. Just weakness and cowardice. It's so easy to run to others. It's so hard to stand on one's own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can't fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is the strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It's easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It's simple to seek substitutes for competence--such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence."
HR: "That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don't think through another's brain and you don't work through another's hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation--anchored to nothing. That's the emptiness I couldn't understand in people. That's what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It's everywhere and nowhere and you can't reason with him. He's not open to reason. You can't speak to him--he can't hear. You're tried by an empty bench. A blind mass running amuck, to crush you without sense or purpose."
In other words, the second-hander is the true postmodern man, who exemplifies the essence of what I have called "sociopathic selflessness"--a type of malignant narcissist whose goal is to enslave the individual's creativity for the collective, state or other "ideal".
In a separate essay at Pajamas Media Hanson discusses the "smug piety" of persons like Jimmy Carter who is the poster boy of the type of second-handers dominating the political left these days and whose psyche feels right at home with the islamofascist barbarians. The two represent the totalitarians of both the left and the right.
"Poverty of the soul"; "second-hander" and "malignant narcissist" are three interchangeable descriptions of the tyrants, totalitarians and "do-gooders" that exist across the political spectrum. All are driven by envy and malice; all are incapable of true creativity or productivity in the real world; and all rely on destruction and the enslavement of others as their primary tools for survival.
They and the ideologies they glorify represent the ultimate in spiritual, moral and intellectual bankruptcy, and their alliance is the gravest threat to human life, freedom and civilization.