The Scatterbrained Syncretist








Friday February 21, 2003



I've been reading The Soul of Battle by Victor Davis Hanson. The book examines three wars of liberation fought by nonprofessional armies of democratic states. Hanson argues that these wars were different from other wars. The subject is timely.

I've almost finished it. So, I'm reading about Nazi ideology and actions. You know...the racial extermination thing, the slave economy thing, the Master Race thing, the rule the world thing, the contempt for others thing, the restore past glories thing...Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism.

And I find myself thinking about the peace protesters. They say that America is the Fourth Reich. They are saying that Zionism = Nazism. They are saying that Bush = Hitler.


The protesters must look at the extermination ovens in Ohio and say, "Ah yes...this smells familiar". They must look at America's ubiquitous rhetoric about enslaving our subhuman foe, at our orgasmic evocation of blood and fire and wonder..."Didn't we say 'never again'?"

Or maybe they don't know what the Nazis were.

Or maybe they don't know what America is.

Maybe they don't want to know.

Facts are troublesome. They have a way of wrecking elegant theories. The choice between a cherished belief and an observed fact is often painful. So,we struggle to contort the facts to fit our ideas That's called being an ideologue. Or, we become selective in our observations. That is willful blindness.

Facts are inadequate. Every day we must make decisions without command of all the pertinent facts. The world is uncooperative...but we still decide, even when we are in the dark. We call that judgment, intuition, instinct, luck. Whatever it is, we need to be able to act without knowledge.

Facts are necessary too. We struggle with our ignorance because we see that those who acquire useful knowledge move forward. What about the people who do not want to move forward? We all find change disconcerting. Some people value their position and would prefer not to move. And we don't even agree about which direction is forward.

Facts propel us forward. New discoveries...we are weary from adapting.

Some feel that the solution is to force the world to adapt to us. So, we banish facts rather than adapt to them. We create a forbidding nanny state to keep the unwanted and the offensive out of our sight. Freedom becomes freedom from rather than freedom to. For luddites reactionaries these people, it becomes freedom from change...and that entails freedom from facts.

For the jaded postmodernist, solipsism is liberation...a comforting narcissism.

For the beleaguered tribal members of traditional societies, the annihilation of unwanted facts becomes an urgent imperative.

"His answer was that even if it was counterproductive, even if it turned people against war protesters, indeed even if it made them more likely to support the continuation of the war, he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason because it was, in his words, good for his soul."