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Mark Riebling
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The history of the Game of Nations is replete with examples of shrewd statesmen creating their own opposition groups, only to roll them up in due time, neatly, like fly paper, once enough flies have stuck to the glutinous mat. As I recall, Sun Tzu has a section on this in his Art of War. The Czar of Russia created fake revolutionary groups to flush out communists; and then the Soviets created bogus anti-communist fronts to flush out reactionaries -- "The Trust" in Russia, "WIN" in the Ukraine, and similar groups in places like Poland and Albania. One of Kim Philby’s jobs for the KGB was to assure MI6 and CIA that these groups were genuine so that we would parachute brave patriots into the monster’s laughing jaws. Chinese human rights activists say the the security organs manipulated and infiltrated the Tiananmen Square movement to create one dissident neck for one state leash for one public strangling. Francis Walsingham Papist undergrounds for Elizabeth I during the Counter-Reformation, drawing English Jesuits out of their “priest holes” for drawing, quartering, and beatification. And Adolf Hitler only discovered his talent for public speaking when he was asked to join a state-sponsored "right wing nationalist group" in 1919 Munich, for the purpose of keeping tabs on all those Volkisch nut-jubs; truly a case of the fox guarding the cuckoo's coop. One could multiply examples. But in my experience, most Americans find the whole concept of state provocations "too complicated" and "too speculative" to credit or digest. They are like Samuel Johnson who kicks the rock and says, "Thus do I refute Berkeley." If it wouldn't happen here, it couldn't happen there. "Reasoning across the gaps in the data" is a nice phrase. That was once the task of the humanities, and of intelligence services. Sadly, that is what most social scientists, academics, policy and intelligence analysts are now paid not to do. Our colleges and universities have essentially become inference-prevention factories.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2016 on The "coup" was a fraud?" at Sic Semper Tyrannis
If you strike the *king, you have to kill the king. Like PL I also had the thought that this could be a provocation designed to strengthen Erdogan's hand, and to justify a purge, a kind of Turkish "Night of the Long Knives," as happened in Germany in 1934 during the Rohm "putsch." I recall Frank Gaffney saying in 1991 that Gorbachev or the KGB could have staged or provoked the August Coup to shore up the ruling clique. That doesn't seem to have happened then, but it could have happened here. That (a) the coup began and continued as something "real," and (b) at the same time was incited, provoked, and exploited by Erdogan, are not necessarily mutually exclusive propositions. Sadly I think of the DB Achilles debacle in Iraq, the failed coup against Saddam, almost exactly 20 years ago.
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2016 on Coup attempt in Turkey at Sic Semper Tyrannis
If you strike the kill, you have to kill the king.
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2016 on Coup attempt in Turkey at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Mongoose: Granted this is broad-brush, but Goethe is an interesting case; and pondering his case, I decided to edit my original Facebook post (link below), which had stated that I wasn't sure German literature had advanced after Wolfram. Clearly Goethe is a master craftsman in the way that Wolfram is not; so I couldn't let that stand. But in revising that thought, I opted for the word "humanitas" rather than hilaritas, partly because I wanted to isolate a deeper and broader Roman quality which the Renaissance possessed and which, I think, the Reformation crushed. Hilaritas is, I think, an ingredient of humanitas, the humane outlook one finds quintessentially in writers like Cicero and Petrarch. Humanitas stands in contrast to the partisan or sectarian spirit (what Orwell would have called nationalism). Humanitas may be recognized as an ability to criticize and even satirize one’s own side. This requires a certain cultural maturity and confidence. The Catholic Dante showed humanitas when he put certain Popes in Hell. But if I’d pick one sentence in the Great Conversation that shows what I mean by both hilaritas and humanitas, it’s this one by Boccaccio, which an atheist or a Catholic could have written, but which I can’t see coming from a Calvinist pen: “Abraham the Jew… visits the court of Rome, and witnessing the loose life of the clergy becomes a Christian.” I think it's important to realize that hilaritas does not mean hilarity or even good cheer (though it's often translated thus); it means something more philosophical. It's a very rare term and I came across it only in the prison letters of the Confessional Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He used it to describe the serenity shown in the face of death by Dr. Josef Mueller, a lay Catholic German who served as liaison between the Vatican and Hitler's would-be killers in the German Abwehr under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Bonhoeffer then proceeds to a discussion of how much better he thinks Catholics deal with the problem of death and suffering and finds that his own faith breeds neurosis because it de-Romanized and therefore cut itself off from the spirit of classical learning (humanitas). Re Goethe I don't see the Sorrows of Young Werther for Faust as having in great degree the quality of spirit I sense in Boccaccio or Chaucer – an accepting and indulgent attitude toward human nature and the human condition. Faust for all its fun boils down to kind of literary bitching, a talking back to God. If Goethe has a good conscience, as Nietzsche says, it seems to me because this is because he thinks the outcome will be good for the questing spirit (Faust); whereas hilaritas is an accepting comportment of spirit independent of one’s personal outcome. I would note that German, unlike English and unlike the Romance language, does not have a word derived from hilaritas (thus Bonhoeffer had to reach for the Latin original).
School shootings produce a massive discourse in which there seems to me strikingly little pattern recognition. I can recall no discussion of: 1. Why these seem to happen nearly always in public schools. Can anyone even name one that happened in a private school? One in ten US students is in a private school. We should see one in ten school shootings there, unless there is something special about public schools that conduces to these events. What could it be? 2. Since "urban youth" have by far the greatest daily access to guns, we should see by far the most school shootings in Harlem, Watts, Anacostia, etc., if access to guns conduces to these shootings. Instead, these mass shooting events occur much more often in the white suburbs. Why should that be? 3. Since women have the same access to guns (and schools) in this country and in these communities, we should expect about half of the school shooters to be female. But the shooters are male. Why should that be? 4. School shooters become instant celebrities because the media put up their faces and names. The attain instantly mythical status (apotheosis). What if the media voluntarily refrained from celebretizing these pyschos? Like they mostly voluntarily refrain from showing the faces and giving the names of rape victims? What effect might this have on the motives and incentives of the shooters? In sum: We have a phenomenon that seems to have these general features: white males shooting masses of peers in suburban public schools and getting loads of attention for it. Should not these general features provide a starting point for discourse and further analysis?
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2015 on Roseburg at Sic Semper Tyrannis
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Jul 12, 2011