Monday, June 29, 2009


Wretchard has a post up that explores the evolution of George Orwell's understanding of tyranny:
Where once he imagined that totalitarianism consisted of an enumerable number of fascists who would all disappear if we shot one each, he suddenly saw that totalitarianism was a face that haunted every human undertaking. Fleeting, shifting, but indisputably present...

The ability to recognize the face of tyranny is a fragile skill which cannot really be passed on, except as a critical attitude. As the twentieth century recedes into the past, a kind of antiquity has descended over the prophets of the past, who speak to us now only through old, cloth-covered books from second-hand bookshops or lying in corners at garage sales or lending libraries. Even 1984 is set in a time so long ago that it can only be portrayed in film as steampunk. We can no longer imagine “a boot in a human face forever” in a world where the Croc sandal may be the preferred footwear of militants. ‘A Croc sandal stamping on a human face forever?’ Who could credit such a tyranny, even if it were true? But the face of evil ever renews itself. When Moses returned from Mount Sinai he discovered that it had taken a new shape....

From our own jewelry and by our own hands we often forge the chains that bind us.

Read it all, of course and watch the videos.

Then consider this article which proposes that the events in Iran signal the beginning of the end of Islam:
Much as the hammers that leveled the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, so might the protests rocking Iran signal the death of radical Islam and the challenges it poses to the West.

No, that doesn't mean we'll be removing the metal detectors from our airports anytime soon. Al-Qaeda and its ilk, even diminished in strength, will retain the ability to stage terrorist strikes. But the danger brought home on Sept. 11, 2001, was always greater than the possibility of murderous attacks. It was the threat that a hostile ideology might come to dominate large swaths of the Muslim world.

Not all versions of this ideology -- variously called Islamism or radical Islam -- are violent. But at the core of even the peaceful ones, such as that espoused by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, is the idea that the Islamic world has been victimized by the West and must defend itself. Even before the United States invaded Iraq, stoking rage, polls in Muslim countries revealed support for Osama bin Laden and for al-Qaeda's aims, if not its methods. If such thinking were to triumph in major Muslim countries beyond Iran -- say, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- violent extremists would command vast new stores of personnel, explosives and funds.

This is precisely the nightmare scenario that is now receding. Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of "Death to the dictator!"

Even if Muravchik's optimism about the demise of Islam is on the money, there is no reason to expect that the face of evil will be more than briefly deterred from his long-range objective, which is to enslave the human mind, and by doing so to to destroy humanity and all evidence of human accomplishment.

But if you look carefully at history, you can begin to see how seemlessly evil moves--or cycles--through the human world, it's face ever renewed and altered just enough to make it seems like you have never met him before. Evil's smile is genuine and his intentions always seem so benign--or at least the words that he uses to describe his intention. He says does what he does for your own good ; but coincidently, your enslavement happens to enrich him and give him pleasure.


You can perhaps begin to guess what new form it will take next and what kind of face it will adopt; since it haunts every human undertaking, after all....

But it should be reasonably clear that the most malignant evil always starts out being about some kind of 'hope and change'.

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