Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I recently added to my original "mission statement" a short quote from Ortega Y Gasset that says:

"Civilization is not 'just there,' it is not self-supporting. It is artificial...if you .. are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done."

Nearly eight decades after Gasset predicted Europe's self-consuming suicidal angst, Martin Amis makes similar points vis-a-vis our present days calamities:

You've written that Western ideology is to blame for weakening the West in the war on terror. How?

Because moral relativism is so far advanced that we don't believe we can be right about anything. It just hasn't been accepted in the consciousness of the West that we have a fight with irrationality on our hands. Everyone's casting about, saying, "Why are they doing this?" And gooey-eyed newscasters on CNN say, "Why? Why this anger?" Paul Berman, the author of "Terror and Liberalism," calls this tendency "rationalist naïveté." [Terrorists] rejected reason. This is what Hitler did, and it's what Lenin did. They want to believe anything is possible, and they're not constrained by the laws of logic. This, plus the death-cult element, gives any movement a huge surge of energy.

But the West goes on. I'm talking about a certain strata of opinion that is dying for American failure in Iraq because they hate George Bush. They're dying for failure, but they're also attributing reason to the enemy, saying, "What terrible historic wrongs have we committed to bring this down on ourselves?" And they haven't made the leap to seeing that it isn't a matter of reason. It's a psychopathology. Their war is against God's enemies and it's meant to last for eternity, and how rational an undertaking is that? Yet people won't make that leap because it feels racist to them.

Where do you draw the line between Islam and Islamism?

Violence. Any violence against civilians is absolutely intolerable. [And] there is a huge moral difference between trying to kill civilians and trying not to kill civilians. When an American soldier kills an Iraqi civilian on purpose, he faces the death penalty. There's no equivalent mechanism among the enemy. [They have] celebrations throughout the land when a good number of civilians have been killed.

Are there any parallels to be drawn between your new novel, "House of Meetings," which takes place in Soviet slave camps, and the issues you have explored in Islamism?

Terror as a tactic [or] as a policy is the same everywhere and in all times, and it always has to do with desperate insecurity about your legitimacy. It's a hysterical response to historical reality. And it's always self-defeating. Nothing achieved by terror ever lasts.


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