The Wild Hunt

Americans — or at least many Americans — discovered that indulging in the premise that Islam is a religion of peace and not a determined theo-political enemy is an untenable fantasy. Yet far too many still play the game of interfaith dialogue and sympathetic outreach, some changing their names and embracing the five pillars, others supporting building mosques even on inappropriate ground, still others believing that an “Arab Spring” is not what it ominously portends, that is, a fundamentalist winter.

Similarly, to plunge one’s country into insurmountable debt in the conviction that everything will work out at the end of the day is to swing in a basket in Cloud-Cuckoo Land. To continue printing fiat money and suppose that the currency will not be debased is to court the miraculous. Pretending that the United Nations is a fount of hope for a better world and not the cauldron of iniquity that it actually is can lead only to grief and destitution. To believe that relations with an autocratic adversary can be summarily “reset” in defiance of his obvious interests and purposes is to run about donning horned helmets and waving wooden swords in the northern forests of Quebec.

The way things are cannot be modded, as if we were dealing with a piece of software, a computer game, a steampunk novel or a provisory masquerade intended to generate an altered content. As Frederic Raphael writes in Ifs and Buts, such flights of credulous fancy constitute “an unendurable affront to the greedy, contentious and treacherous rest of the world.” In short, to behave as if something is not what it irreversibly is in real time and real life is a sure-fire way of offending the iron-willed gods who rule the world and bringing down nemesis upon our heads.

This is why the United States of America, snagged in its own shambolic variant of the wild hunt, is in serious trouble and may not survive the depredations of the current administration as the country we have long known it to be. “The nation is in crisis,” warns Joseph Farah, “economic, moral, political, security.” And he’s right. Yet the game goes on. The president’s biosignature confirms that he is a part of the real world, but his actions declare that he is a practicing LARPist. This is a president who announces his re-election bid on, of all places, YouTube!

He and his advisors, his colleagues, his team of officials and indeed his entire entourage and party are mounting a vast imaginary production, acting as if the world is not what it intractably is and staging what can only be described as a risible and emptily flamboyant performance, though one which casts a dark and lengthening shadow. They dash about brandishing their delusions, unaware that the world is not kind to its fugitives and deniers. For such people, to quote Rush Limbaugh, “Failure is a résumé enhancement.”

The truth is, they are involved in live-action role-playing, pretending and even believing they are humanitarians, peace makers, statesmen, economists, social idealists, remedial pacifists and political philosophers. And that their counterparts in Russia, China, Syria and Iran, and the so-called “democratic revolutionaries” in Egypt and Libya, have agreed to don their obligatory costumes and play along. But it is only a matter of time before reality announces its implacable presence and the LARP game collapses in ruins around them. For the LARPist cannot reverse the remorseless trajectory of history or re-invent the way the world works.

The president and his band of merry men and women are starring in their own movie. It’s called The Wild Hunt II. And the sequel will be catastrophic.