What do you see outside?

Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No 2 (1969)
I think that man now realizes that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play the game without reason. [...] You see, all art  has now become completely a game by which man distracts himself (Bacon-Sylvester, Interviews, pp. 28,29).

I have signaled the descent of our western system, based on economic liberalism and democracy projected to global proportions, since before its 2008 Crisis.  After three years, during which governments have saved the capitalists by imposing austerity on the populace, we are semi-officially in a 'Small Depression' according to Paul Krugman.  The ordering belief must be that in a world distracted from facts, the capitalists are the only ones to be trusted to {harness, muster, unleash, ...} {creativity, innovation, renewal, growth...}; indeed, capitalists are always selected according to their being best able to align self-interest with action, the best indicator of a well-running capitalist engine, that is.  Stimulating the economy by placing money in the hands of the populace, yours and mine, mostly increases the trade deficit--I have written this too.  Problem is that capitalists are known to buy imports too, unless they park the money in some unproductive niche. 

So, what's a government to do anymore?  A cynical may say that those populating governments are merely interested in preserving class privileges while subsidizing a nice show.  While that is true, can you think of a way out?

For example, the French and Italians citizens thought that by electing economically-liberal demagogues, growth would be assured.  I am skeptical Berlusconi or Sarkozy fulfilled any of their electoral promises.  I am equally skeptical of Cameron's prospects in the UK.

Could it be that we need to take a half-step back from globalization?  Taxing the incentive out of the financial speculation can certainly help.  This addresses in part the flexibility of capital, and the question becomes, how flexible ought capital to be?  For example, Simon Johnson, MIT professor and former Chief Economist of IMF, is not the only to suggest a tax on “excess leverage;" Tobin taxes are also quick to come to mind.   Then, shouldn't we reconsider the French idea for a reduced work load for all, thus being able to employ more?  Yes, we must also get adjusted to the idea that floating is better than sinking, while not as fun as swimming.  In the end, I don't care much about the extent to which these ideas are in agreement with one's standard of free-market capitalism, for I remind you, what we've had so far hasn't been free-market capitalism either. Don't you also find it problematic that each time one tries to argue for active management of the situation, the capitalist (ventriloquist)  counters that due to the complexity of the system, the self-adjustment capability of the markets, free of regulation and taxes, is better than any one's fallible mind? 

In any case, the above ideas are neither of the left, nor of the right.  They are about the art of living and reflecting upon it not long thereafter. 

It's most regrettable what happened in Oslo.  I have a feeling that just blaming Anders Behring Breivik is not going to deter forever another symptom of our common disease.  Breivik seems to have been against multiculturalism, whatever that meant in his case beyond being anti-Muslim immigration as a new form of Marxist internationalism--I know, it's a mouthful and I could use some European help to unpack it.

Shock and/or incomprehension, ensuing the massive destruction inflicted by World War I on so many, was not enough to prevent fascism or Nazism from coalescing as reaction to the dissolution of the world order, perceived then by the former as the result of the centrifugal forces of communism and/or international finance.   

As wise people have always said, and the demagogues exploited to i/a-mmoral ends, humans need to believe in something greater than, say, self-interest.  That something had better be based on moral law.  Replacing sacred religion with the secular religion of self-interest, briefly introduced as part of a moral code based on natural law by Adam Smith,  has not worked too well.  As for how religion is observed in the US, let me just say, per out tax code and all that, it's big business for a minority and of whatever comfort for most--read this last statement in terms of effectiveness.

Through my Window(s), I see Tauoromachia.  

What do these youth know and the world hasn't figured out yet?
Do the police know whom they are con/fronting, as in interfacing?
Is democracy the legitimate monopoly of power?  What makes it no longer so?
When humanism is lost, do we regress to homo homini lupus?  How do we come back?


anders behring breivik said...

click on the name above to see the automatic translation or the text in original

Crescentsi said...

Just responding briefly to your first sentence.... Yep! The crash was no surprise for me and many others. Major Western economies were suffering way before the "credit crunch"/recession, whatever we are calling it at the moment. A hyper-real, Western "refinement" invites comparisons to schizophrenia and other paranoic metaphors: indeed, one need only look at the effect of globalisation on "developing" economies to see the potential dismantling of Western power and the cultural, economic and intellectual changes that this will bring to all of us. However, globalisation will have its benefits as well, if we can stop the greed and abuse from those who are so inclined, and its dissemination top-down to the "ordinary people".


fCh said...

Thanks for your comment, Simon.

I think that at least you would agree that art is as good a probe in/of our time as any. Hence, I subscribe to "schizophrenia and other paranoic metaphors" as means that mirror our condition.

In many discussions, people accept they are confused, if not paralyzed, by the contradictions of our time. Unfortunately, this is becoming the time of the wolves (I also recommend the film by Haneke!).

What's the official line about? Don't worry about madness, be happy we are in control! And media pillory is supposed to do it for the rest of us (see the Breivik case). But, I'd say, that's like stating that water is wet, yet failing to get yourself an umbrella.

No, Breivik and I do not agree on anything from what I've seen to be his statements. It is dumbly exploitative globalization taken on the environment or other human beings that I would like tempered. Can we be a bit smarter than trying to out-compete some out-of feudalism factory worker in creating version XG-29 of that same phone? I would like to think so.

fCh said...

George Steiner and the late Tony Judt (z.l.) stated in two interviews something to the effect that today's youth lack ideals. Trying to locate Judt's interview, I've found this quote, which despite its being indirectly related to the handful of topics at hand, strikes a tenor chord:

In the arts, moral seriousness speaks to an economy of form and aesthetic restraint: the world of The Bicycle Thief. I recently introduced our twelve-year-old son to François Truffaut’s 1959 classic Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows). Of a generation raised on a diet of contemporary “message” cinema from The Day After Tomorrow through Avatar, he was stunned: “It’s spare. He does so much with so little.” Quite so. The wealth of resources we apply to entertainment serves only to shield us from the poverty of the product; likewise in politics, where ceaseless chatter and grandiloquent rhetoric mask a yawning emptiness.

The opposite of austerity is not prosperity but luxe et volupté. We have substituted endless commerce for public purpose, and expect no higher aspirations from our leaders. Sixty years after Churchill could offer only “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” our very own war president—notwithstanding the hyperventilated moralism of his rhetoric—could think of nothing more to ask of us in the wake of September 11, 2001, than to continue shopping. This impoverished view of community—the “togetherness” of consumption—is all we deserve from those who now govern us. If we want better rulers, we must learn to ask more from them and less for ourselves. A little austerity might be in order. (source: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/may/13/austerity/ )

echoing more of Tony Judt said...


Anonymous said...

Judt called attention to America's and Europe's worship of efficiency, wealth, free markets, and privatization. We live, he said, in a world shaped by a generation of Austrian thinkers—the business theorist Peter Drucker, the economists Friedrich A. von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Joseph Schumpeter, and the philosopher Karl Popper—who witnessed liberalism's collapse in the face of fascism and concluded that the best way to defend liberalism was to keep government out of economic life. "If the state was held at a safe distance," Judt said, "then extremists of right and left alike would be kept at bay." Public responsibilities have been drastically shifted to the private sector. Americans and, to a lesser extent, Europeans have forgotten how to think politically and morally about economic choices, Judt warned, his fragile, British-accented voice growing louder. To abandon the gains made by social democrats—the New Deal, the Great Society, the European welfare state—"is to betray those who came before us as well as generations yet to come."


Cornelius Castoriadis in A Society Adrift (p. 8) said...

Improvement according to what criteria? It’s capitalism that has based all of social life on the idea that economic 'improvement’ is the only thing that counts—or the thing that, once achieved, would bring along all the rest, in the bargain. And Marx and Marxism followed suit. For a long time the proletariat, while fighting exploitation, didn’t aim solely at ‘improving’ its standard of living, but of course, that essentially capitalist imaginary, shared by Marxism as well, also penetrated the working class in the long run. There definitely was fantastic economic expansion under capitalism (which would have been unimaginable, even for Marx, as our hindsight shows). But as we now see, it was bought by irreversible destruction wreaked on the biosphere. And another requisite was workers’ struggles for better pay and shorter working hours. That was what created constantly
expanding national markets without which capitalism would have
collapsed under the weight of crises of overproduction. That’s also how the unemployment potentially generated by rising productivity was absorbed.
Today’s unemployment is due to the fact that the accelerated gains
in the productivity of work since 1940 have only been attended by a very slight cut in the hours worked, as opposed to what occurred between 1840 and 1940, when the working week was reduced from 72 hours to 40. That obsession with increasing production and consumption is practically absent from other historical periods. As shown by Marshall Sahlins, among others (in his Stone Age Economics), people worked two or three hours a day in Paleolithic societies, and you can’t even call that work in the present-day sense. Hunting, for instance, was also a collective festivity. The rest of the time people played, talked, and made love. What is called ‘economic progress’ was obtained by transforming human beings into machines for producing and consuming.

fCh said...

What the U.S. Has Learned

Mark Potok is an expert on the American radical right and the director of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.

America’s greatest lesson in violence from the radical right came in 1995 in Oklahoma City, when a single fanatic, aided by a couple of his friends, brought down a federal building and murdered 168 men, women and children.

Norway’s Oklahoma City came last week, when a man who saw himself as a contemporary Christian knight defending Europe against a new Muslim onslaught slaughtered 76 people, most of them young people attending an island youth camp.

After the Oklahoma tragedy, many commentators, reacting to the horror of the attack, predicted that right-wing antigovernment violence would decrease as dissidents found less bloody ways to register their protests. They were wrong.

In fact, although the antigovernment “patriot,” or militia, movement did wane in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it has come roaring back, from 149 groups in 2008 to 824 in 2010, even as the number of hate groups reached more than 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting them in the 1980s.

This resurgence has been accompanied by a proliferation of domestic terror plots directed at police officers, judicial officials, Latino and Muslim immigrants, and others. Although most of these plots were stopped before anyone was harmed, they have included, just since last year, alleged attempts by the Hutaree Militia and the Alaska Peacemakers Militia to murder police officers; an attempted mass murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Day marchers in Spokane, Wash.; and the killings of two police officers in West Memphis, Ark. -- some 30 plots in all since mid-2008.

It might be comforting to describe the Norwegian mass murder as the act of a madman, an aberration in a largely peaceful society that surely will not be repeated. But the experience of America and the radical right suggests otherwise.

The rock-bottom reality is the Western world is changing, and change often brings violent opposition. Norway, just like the United States, is part of a rapidly globalizing world. In Norway, that has meant a formerly monoethnic state is seeing major waves of Muslim immigrants. In the U.S., our nominal multiculturalism is becoming more real by the day, largely because of Latino immigration; the Census Bureau says whites will no longer be a majority here after 2050.

It’s impossible to confidently predict terrorism trends. But it seems clear that Western civilization is facing a gathering storm as beleaguered populations endure economic hardship and major changes.

fCh said...

Advice From Denmark

July 27, 2011

Yvette Espersen, the managing director of Apple Farm Ad Agency, is the local town councilor and parliamentary candidate for the Danish People's Party in Denmark.

Historically, people have moved around Europe for thousands of years, and the region and its ethnic groups have, in general, been welcoming and tolerant. During the last 40 years, Europe has gone through a cultural change with the enormous immigration of Islamic people. This change in demographics presents a great challenge to Europeans and what their democratic societies can tolerate. Islamic communities generally do not, as many other religious communities do, assimilate, and many Muslims are demanding accommodations that we view as radical to our way of life.

Some European countries, like Norway and especially Sweden, have suppressed the debate on how much their societies should accept these demands. Their governments have been too tolerant and accommodating. In Denmark there has been a very free and open debate of these issues. This openness has kept extreme right-wing groups from becoming frustrated and turning to terrorism and has even given Islamic communities a voice.

Similarly, many people in Europe feel they are being overrun by the European Union especially since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which gave more power to the E.U. over member states. The E.U. is far less accountable to its peoples than the national governments are. Often decisions are made by the E.U Commission and the European Council, which are seen by many Europeans as disdainful of democracy and reluctant to engage voters.

Denmark's open and free debate on these cultural changes being brought about by immigration by Islamic people and a dominant European Union should be a model for the rest of Europe. Yes, the discussions can become heated, but they are important for a functioning society. The word, not the sword, must prevail.

fCh said...

Norway’s Premier Vows to Keep an Open Society

OSLO — The prime minister of Norway acknowledged on Wednesday that his country had fundamentally changed as a result of the attacks on a youth camp and government complex last week, but he vowed to protect the culture of openness that is a source of Norwegian pride.

The attacks have prompted officials to start reassessing Norway’s policy on public security, which seemed defined by a belief that bad things happen elsewhere. Anders Behring Breivik, a self-described Christian crusader who has admitted to the attacks, appeared to face few obstacles when he detonated a car bomb on a busy government plaza last Friday, killing 8 people, then traveled 19 miles and took a ferry to the youth camp on the island of Utoya, where he slaughtered at least 68 people.

“It’s absolutely possible to have an open, democratic, inclusive society, and at the same time have security measures and not be naive,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo. “I think what we have seen is that there is going to be one Norway before and one Norway after July 22,” he said. “But I hope and also believe that the Norway we will see after will be more open, a more tolerant society than what we had before.”

Mr. Stoltenberg announced that the government would create a commission independent of the police to investigate the attacks as well as law enforcement agencies’ response to them.

The police have come under fire for the seemingly slow pace of their response. It took commandos about 90 minutes to reach the island, a delay that critics say likely cost dozens of lives. Helicopters were unavailable, and police had to commandeer civilian boats to reach the island.

Police officers from the precinct in Honefoss, close to Utoya, offered new details about the operation in a news conference on Wednesday.

Havard Gasbakk, the duty commander at the precinct, said that 10 commandos took two civilian boats to reach the island. His colleague Magne Rustad said that one of the boats encountered engine trouble but that it did not cause significant delays. By the time police officers arrived Mr. Breivik seemed satisfied with the extent of his killing. They found him standing with his hands behind his head, his weapons thrown to the ground.

Mr. Breivik’s ability to avoid detection in the months and weeks leading up to the attacks has puzzled some. Though he spent months holed up on a farm he had rented north of Oslo, accumulating weapons and building his bomb, all while writing inflammatory anti-Muslim commentary on blogs, officials said he remained successfully under the radar.

A Norwegian security official with knowledge of the investigation said that Mr. Breivik had appeared on a list of buyers from a Polish chemical company the police were investigating, but that his activities appeared legal at the time.

“Normally these kind of people make an error,” said the official, who requested anonymity. “But he didn’t.”

The police are still trying to determine whether Mr. Breivik had any help in planning the attacks. He has stated that he is part of an organization called the Knights Templar, which he said had cells active in other countries, but investigators have challenged that claim.

“So far we don’t have any evidence of the cells, either in Norway or in Britain,” Janne Kristiansen, the head of Norway’s domestic intelligence service, told the BBC. Ms. Kristiansen also disputed an assessment made by Mr. Breivik’s lawyer on Tuesday that his client was likely insane.

“I would be surprised if this person was insane,” Ms. Kristiansen said. “I mean he’s calculating, he’s focused, he’s been going on with his plan for years, and this is not what I have learnt a person who is insane will do.”

fCh said...

Tempe, AZ

Our government and authorities could learn a thing or two from the Norwegians about how to respond to terror attacks. I'm so filled with awe and admiration at the spirit of the Norwegian people.

Hans Fundingsrud

I am incredibly proud to be a Norwegian in these troubled times and proud to have such national leadership executed by our Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and our Royal Family advocating red roses, emotions, more democracy, inclusion and openness, but not naivity to fight extremists actions. In that way, we as a people will not let hatred decide our daily moves. If one man's hate can cause so much sorrow, rather think how the love of 1000 can heal!


It has been repeatedly stated in Norwegian media that the time from the nearby police station was alerted till the SWAT team stationed in Oslo landed on Utøya was 60 minutes, not 90. The police log has been made public.
Critics of alleged slow police response should bear in mind that local state of alarm may have something to do with previous experience. My guess is that the response time for a SWAT team in the US might be slightly lower after 9/11 than it was before....

The main thing however, is that we do not want to change our society to one of fear that readily accepts too many means of surveillance directed at the population as such. We do not want a police state.

fCh said...

Homegrown Hurt

We are so accustomed to seeing terrorism through the lens of 9/11 that it may be hard to recapture how shocking it was to realize, 16 years ago in Oklahoma City, that devastating terrorism can be completely homegrown. The mass murder committed in Norway last Friday by a Norwegian anti-immigrant extremist brings Oklahoma City forcefully to mind for the first time in a long while. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, by two disaffected Americans killed 168 people. At the time, it was the worst single incident of terrorism ever committed on American soil. Today’s young adults, not yet then even in their teens, may barely remember it.

I well remember the shock of learning that the act was not, as nearly everyone assumed, the work of Islamic radicals, who had tried just two years earlier to bring down the World Trade Center. Journalists shared the same immediate assumption. My assignment for The Times was to write an essay for the Sunday paper that would reflect the collective wisdom of some of the country’s leading thinkers on the implications of this attack by outsiders on the country’s heartland. The first person I called was Robert Coles, the Harvard psychiatrist.
Jim Bourg/Reuters Timothy McVeigh

In the few minutes between leaving a message for Dr. Coles and receiving his return call, the news broke of the arrest of a 27-year-old Army veteran, Timothy J. McVeigh, on suspicion of having planted the bomb. Together, we struggled to process this unnerving development. “We know this country can handle external enemies,” I quoted Dr. Coles as saying, “but for one of our own to strike a blow against the federal government, against our own family, is very unnerving, very frightening.”

I retrieve this memory, partly in sympathy with the Norwegian people (“Norway has lost its innocence,” a friend in Oslo told me by e-mail) but for another reason as well: to recall Oklahoma City’s calamitous domestic aftermath, both as a cautionary tale for Norway and a reminder to those inclined to assume that everything they don’t like about the current civil liberties climate in the United States began with the Bush administration and 9/11.

The Oklahoma City bombing did not create the toxic political climate that dominated Washington in April 1995, but the prevailing mix of opportunism and cowardice was tailor-made for the overreaction that occurred. Republicans had recaptured Congress in the midterm election just months earlier. A shell-shocked President Bill Clinton, planning his 1996 re-election campaign, was tacking hard to the right. So he offered little resistance when the new congressional leadership trained its focus not on ways to prevent or detect terrorism, which at least would have made sense, but on, of all things, habeas corpus.

The Latin term did not then have the public currency it was to gain soon enough in the context of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, whose right to habeas corpus – essentially, the right to come before a judge to challenge the legality of confinement – was to become the subject of a prolonged tug of war between Congress and the Supreme Court. But the goal of cutting back on habeas corpus, of curbing the jurisdiction of the federal courts to grant relief to prisoners who had been tried and convicted in state court, was high on the agenda of well-placed conservatives who found federal judges too indulgent, especially when it came to accepting multiple habeas corpus petitions from inmates on the various state death rows.

fCh said...

What this had to do with Timothy McVeigh or other agents of terror, who would be tried in federal, not state, court, was obscure. But within weeks of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Senate voted 91 to 8 to pass the Comprehensive Terrorism Protection Act of 1995, which cut back sharply on state death-row inmates’ access to federal court. This bill eventually morphed into the broader Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which President Clinton signed shortly after the first anniversary of the bombing. Standing on the south lawn of the White House, in the presence of family members of the victims of Oklahoma City and other recent terrorist incidents, the president declared that the new law “strikes a mighty blow” against terrorism.

While I can’t think of any particular impact the law (abbreviated as AEDPA and pronounced “edpa,”) has had on terrorism, it has transformed habeas corpus practice for garden-variety crimes. Its restrictions on the jurisdiction of the federal courts were sufficiently severe that the Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and his most conservative allies felt the need to act with remarkable speed to affirm the law’s constitutionality. In May 1996, just nine days after AEDPA was signed into law, and after the court’s regular argument sessions for the term had concluded, the justices scheduled a special sitting to hear a case on whether the law’s all-but-total elimination of an inmate’s right to file more than one habeas corpus petition amounted to an unconstitutional “suspension” of habeas corpus.

Four dissenting justices (John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer) objected that the court was intervening with “unseemly haste.” But less than a month after the June 3 argument in the case, Felker v. Turpin the court ruled unanimously that the new restrictions were permissible because, despite the obstacles placed on access to the lower federal courts, the Supreme Court itself retained the right to exercise its own authority to grant an “original” habeas corpus petition. This was largely a fiction: the court had in fact not granted such a petition for 71 years before this decision, and has not granted one since, although inmates continue to file them regularly.

The Felker decision addressed only one aspect of the complicated law. There have been dozens of Supreme Court decisions since then, parsing other sections. One of the most far-reaching provisions is a section that bars federal judges from granting a habeas petition unless the state court decision that is being challenged “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” It did not take the Supreme Court long to interpret this section as meaning that it isn’t enough for the state-court decision to be wrong; it has to be unreasonably wrong, a high bar indeed.

AEDPA also had a drastic effect on the rights of legal immigrants, making non-citizens who had lived legally in the United States for years suddenly subject to automatic deportation for minor offenses. Given that Timothy McVeigh and his co-defendant, Terry Nichols, were American-born, the connection between this provision and Oklahoma City – or terrorism in general – remains obscure.

In Norway, where the police normally go about their duties unarmed, there were public vows this week to preserve a peaceful and open society. “We will not let fear paralyze us,” Archbishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien declared at a memorial service, adding: “We will fight for the values that were attacked.” It is likely to be a harder fight than Norwegians expect.

The federal government executed Timothy McVeigh on June 11, 2001. Exactly three months later, mass murder came from the skies and the next chapter opened.

fCh said...

New York City

A very timely and insightful article! As you say, it is widely forgotten that the profound undercutting of legal rights was on the agenda for powerful forces BEFORE Oklahoma City, and -- as with 9/11 years later -- acts of mass murder provided a pretext for implementing them, even when it was obvious there was no real connection between these new laws and rulings and the actual prevention of terrorism. And it is also widely forgotten that Bush's role in all this was no worse than Clinton's, or for that matter, Obama's. It is of course particularly outrageous when the right-wing political forces promoting these repressive laws are also the forces who at least created the atmosphere of hate in which people like McVeigh and now the Norwegian murderer -- could thrive.

Tim B

There seems to be an all encompassing and pervasive negativity in this day. It is unfortunate that your friend wrote that 'Norway has lost its innocence'. What is happening to the peoples of this earth when one very mentally ill person, who commits a horrific act, can possibly transform a people's views of their underlying moral compass?

It is as if there have never been acts of terrorism or madness in the past. Has history really been free of them, ever? I found it illuminating the way you describe events as seized on by Republicans after the Timothy McVeigh bombings, and then hurriedly rushed through the Supreme Court, as if they realized this moment would not last long. Oddly yesterday, I saw a graphic which shows the growth in domestic imprisonments in the U.S., which has the highest rate of incarceration per capital in the World. I also read recently that the idea of allowing the decriminalization of marijuana, which would effectively reduce the rates of incarceration here, is being fought by groups representing prison guards, and the companies which build and maintain prisons.

Unites States of America, Inc.

John Kinnucan
Portland, OR

Timothy McVeigh was retailiating for the FBI murders of innocent men, women and children at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, an act of wonton brutality approved and condoned by Janet Reno, the same woman who railroaded numerous innocent people in Florida on charges of day care child molestation. For this latter travesty of justice she was rewarded with the USAG post, from which she went on to commit higher crimes in Waco.

It is ironic how people will be outraged by the deeds of Timothy McVeigh, but nod in approval when the same or worse terrorism is carried out by the Federal government against innocent US citizens.

Long Island, NY

Unarmed police? One police helicopter (in the whole country!) whose crew is on vacation? A police response that takes an hour to get to an island where scores are being slaughtered as they dial helplessly for police? A justice minister who sounds like a cross between a social worker and Oprah? No thanks, for all our governmental over-reaction and gun happy society I'll take my chances in the USA. Norway thinks it can exist as a cross between Quaker pacifists and a Disneyland. The real world has just intruded with its messy violence. They need to acquire the means to more effectively protect their citizens.

Long Island NY

If Timothy McVeigh was the real perpetrator, it was probably in retaliation for the Waco Texas Christian Massacre. The Oklahoma City bombing occured on the anniversary of that event. I say if, because I was always curious of the fact that McViegh was missing a license plate on the car which led the police to stop him. I thought, how remarkably stupid for someone to forget that. It was very enlightening and insightful that you correlated the execution date with the attacks of 9-11. That is not a good sign for our safety.

fCh said...


There is a very serious problem with the integration of Muslims in Europe, and to pretend that it does not exists is vacuous stupidity. The problems stems from the unwillingness of many Muslims to accept the culture of the land into which they have been given a home, often at cost to the local populations. People in Europe are rapidly loosing patience with Islamics. What happened on Oslo was a foretaste of things to come if open discussion on the problems is muzzled. Just as the extreme right is dangerous, so is the extreme left, and what happened on the weekend is a consequence , in part, of the barriers that left-wing dolts have implemented. 70+ died this weekend - and only if people from all directions can bring themselves to openly debate these issues and seek consensus and understanding, will their deaths have meaning.

fCh said...


Much of the rhetoric about the horrific killings in Norway is focused on Breivik's hatred of Muslims, the "new" right in Europe and the growing anti-Muslim/anti-immigration attitude of Europeans generally.

What I find strange about this is that Breivik didn't kill Muslims -- he killed fellow Norwegians. This was a defacto attack on his fellow Caucasian, Christian Norwegian citizens, not an attack on Islam or Muslims.

Why? Why not set off his bomb in a high-density residential area where Muslims lived or in front of a mosque? Why not go on a shooting spree in a mosque?

"Just another racist" doesn't do it in terms of explaining why he did what he did, neither does a vague hand-waving that the liberal government supported these policies.

Atlanta, GA

To all who criticize muslims not integrating/assimilating into the european culture fully: Did the South African whites assimilate into the African culture fully to this day, did the European settlers assimilate fully into the Native American culture, did the European powers assimilate with the Indian, African, etc. cultures after colonizing them? My point is not to make an excuse for us European Muslims but to explain and provide a perspective, that it is not easy but we or at least from what I've personally seen and felt have gradually in a sustained fashion began to assimilate more and more into the Norwegian culture over the last 30 or so years and all of my ethnic Norwegian friends would agree and anyone who has visited Oslo, as is the case with my muslim and non-muslim immigrants here in Norway and across other countries including and especially in the United States. And if someone like Breivik doesn't like it and wants to go on a killing spree and kill those who support a better not only multicultural but a more diverse and tolerant Norway and if Breivik wants to convert everyone into Christianity, I'm sorry me or other citizens of Oslo (christian, non-christians, atheists, etc.) just won't have it and WILL NOT tolerate it either.

Finally to my fellow Norwegians, let's together build a stronger, better and a free secular Norway that the world can look to with an envious eye!

Tim B

Having a large influx of people into a culture that are not 'assimilated' but choose to live separately, is a true problem in the U.S. and many European countries where enclaves grow, and where the people there are still maintaining their basic culture without much adaptation to the culture without.

But to describe moral decline due simply to the growing 'ethnic' communities is I think an error in reasoning. I heard a well known woman from India who spoke about the multiple cultures and languages in her country. She also noted that in her country, their movies reflect life there, which she says is a 'celebration'. That is not to say that any country is without some difficulties.

In the U.S., just watching mainstream television, it is remarkably different from the 1960s, when I was growing up. It was often light hearted, warm, truly funny in a nice, not a sarcastic way in that day. Today, many youths speak irreverently (and worse) to elders, and to each other. Good hearted humor has been replaced with a cynical, jaded view of life.

As the woman from India noted, 'Art imitates life and vice versa'. Our country has become less tolerant of differences in my view, less community and neighbor oriented, more aggressively materialistic and out for oneself. These are closer to the cause of the growing dysfunction which I see.

fCh said...


I wasn't going to comment today as I've said more than enough on the subject, but K in Germany just has to be answered.

I was born in Germany, emmigrated to Canada in 1952 as a toddler, raised as a German, went back in the early seventies, lived in Kreuzberg, Berlin in an area populated by Turkish (muslim) Gastarbeiter.

A child born to Turkish parents in Germany at that time had no rights to German Citizenship, whereas, my blond children, born in Canada do. How on earth can you expect an immigrant to integrate into German society if you don't even acknowledge their right to citizenship?

Perhaps things have changed since 1972 with regards to that, but I can tell you from conversations with German visitors to Canada, the attitude towards immigrants in Germany has not. They were brought in to do the dirty work that no German wanted to do. They were not made welcome. They lived in ghettos that hippies like me found a lot more charming than the racially pure enclaves and attitudes that haven't changed much since Hitler gave awards to the blond and beautiful.

Even here, the Germans and other white Eurpeans who came just after the war are beside themselves because brown people are allowed into our country in great numbers, are having many more children than they are, and they are frightened to death that they will soon be in the minority.

I won't live to see the day when we are all mashed up together and all consider ourselves just part of the human race, but my children will. Already, they are marrying outside their spectrums. My son married a Japanese woman, the friend of my daughter married an African. One by one we begin to break down the divides that foment the fear and distrust that lead to the kind of violence exhibited in Norway.

I challenge the people of Germany and Europe to look at Canada, a haven for all immigrants and a true melting pot of all cultures. If we can do it, anyone can. You're just stuck in an obsolete paradigm.

Nana Brown

The question to be asked is the reason for immigration and the bad feelings from both sides of the immigrants and the hosts. Multinational companies just seek profit and don't think about the social and human consequences. Free trade is based on unfair grounds which enable European and American companies to obtain fat profits by lack of competitive developing countries and by corruption. Repressive regimes are encouraged by European governments - just to protect the profitable markets... People are crushed in those countries and go out to look for better opportunities. In Europe and the States, these populations seem to take jobs. The consequences are resentment, misunderstanding and intolerance. Who profits from these situations ? Unscrupulous and unfair globalisation and a non regulated free market should be reviewed to save the world from extremism on all sides. People should also be really be helped to get rid of their repressive governments...

fCh said...

August 15, 2011
What Is Business Waiting For?

When the German economy turned south after the 2008 financial crisis, the pain was mitigated by a program known as “Kurzarbeit.”

The word means short work. Instead of laying off workers, German companies cut back their hours. The government then used money set aside during good times to pay the workers around 60 percent of their lost wages. The labor unions went along because they believed it was better to keep people employed even at reduced pay. This is the German social compact.

As we suffer through our own economic hard times, the German approach is something we can only envy. Here, companies quickly lay off workers, many of whom never find their way back into the full-time labor force. Corporations shy away from investing for the future, even though investment is what will turn the economy around. The government, for its part, invariably starts talking about “job creation,” but rarely does anything that makes a difference. ..


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