Can unbelievers summon up the devil? Before answering the question, let’s digress.
For many years, the Third World has functioned as the sump of toxic Western ideas. Ideas too dangerous for any sane person to actually try were boldly exported there. Years ago, a Bavarian friend remarked that the most destructive German export of all time was Karl Marx; far more catastrophic in effect than that perennial rival for ideological malpractice, Adolf Hitler.
There’s something to this. Marx’s disciples like Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, and the Kim family have between them killed many more people than perished at the hands of Adolf. Yet after each catastrophe, the intellectuals would go back to the drawing board and try again with the highest hopes, since the inhabitants of Africa, Asia, and South America seemed perpetually ready to be sacrificed on the altar of “scientific” socialism.
One of the characteristics of Leftism is that it always works best for the “masses.” The Vanguard are somehow always exempted from its strictures, as they have important work to do. Individuals who sincerely decry “carbon footprints” see nothing wrong in flying by private jet to denounce the use of fossil fuels. The bigger the private jet, the more credible the environmentalist.
Marxism is full of schemes that are beautiful at a distance, but only at a distance. Four years ago the Daily Mail noted how Chinese industrial areas were poisoned in the process of producing “clean” wind turbines for the First World:
On the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust. He remembers it as fields of wheat and corn.
Vast fortunes are being amassed here in Inner Mongolia; the region has more than 90 per cent of the world’s legal reserves of rare earth metals, and specifically neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets in the most striking of green energy producers, wind turbines.
The reality is that, as Britain flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors and mountains with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China. This is the deadly and sinister side of the massively profitable rare-earths industry that the “green” companies profiting from the demand for wind turbines would prefer you knew nothing about.
Vast fields of waste were generated so a delighted environmentalist could watch a windmill go round and round. Regrettable, but it was the spectacle that mattered, like those electric cars charged from power plants burning coal. You saw the car and forgot the coal.
Somewhat better known than rare-earth pollution is the irony of ship-breaking industries. The West sends old ships to be recycled to the Third World mud flats, where swarms of impoverished laborers take them apart with hacksaw and cutting torch:
Ship breaking allows the materials from the ship, especially steel, to be recycled and made into new products. This lowers the demand for mined iron ore and reduces energy use in the steel-making process. Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused. While ship breaking is, in theory, sustainable, there are concerns about the use of poorer countries without stringent environmental legislation. It is also considered one of the world’s most dangerous industries and very labour-intensive.
In 2012, roughly 1,250 ocean ships were broken down, and their average age is 26 years. In 2013, Asia made up 92% of the tonnage of vessels demolished, out of a world total of 29,052,000 tonnes. India, Bangladesh, China, and Pakistan have the highest market share and are global centres of ship breaking, with Alang being the largest boat “graveyard” in the world.
Some Pedro, Kwame, or Abdul ultimately picks up the pieces. But we don’t see him and he never says nothing unless he’s dancing at some cultural festival. “Guantanamera! Umgowa! Umgowa!” From countries destroyed by coca production to support cool drug habits, to populations decimated by malaria because of the Western phobia for DDT, to countries doomed to live under hideous but fashionable totalitarianisms in order to keep alive the adolescent student fantasy of some upper-class drone, the Marxist feast needs low-paid waiters to clean up after its dreams.
The poster-couple for this kind of vicarious idealism are probably Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, who were as close to American aristocracy as it was possible to get.
“Kendall Myers is the grandson of Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. He is also related to William Howard Taft through his father. He graduated from Brown University and earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. In 1977, he began working for the U.S. State Department as a Contract Instructor at its Foreign Service Institute; and, for 20 years, he has been a part-time faculty member at Johns Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. From 2000 until his retirement in October 2007, he worked as a European analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). Myers’ State Department service was primarily in domestic positions. Myers’ spouse, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, was never employed by the U.S. Department of State.”
They also spied for years on behalf of Fidel Castro until they were finally detected and convicted. Neither accepted money. What Myers craved — and was granted — was a social evening with the Cuban dictator. They contributed to the enslavement of the Cuban people for the noblest of reasons — their own high-minded idealism:
According to a “law enforcement official”, they were “true believers” in the Cuban system. The United States federal affidavit quoted a diary entry by Kendall Myers as saying, “I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit”, and referred to Fidel Castro as “one of the great political leaders of our time.”
Thanks to Myers, the sufferings of the Cuban people were significantly extended and yet another generation was condemned to bleak poverty and deprivation. The fashionable, casual destructiveness of the Western left recalls Scott Fitzgerald’s judgment of Tom and Daisy Buchanan:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
There is some ironic justice in the crisis caused by the migrant multitudes forcing their way across European boundaries. They represents a kind of materialization of all the idealistic stereotypes the Western Left is so enamored of.
Now that these stereotypes are presenting themselves on the streets of Europe in epic numbers, the EU has been shaken to its foundations. Member states are threatening to close borders; some are even hinting they will leave the Union. The Guardian writes:
Europe’s fragmented attempts to get to grips with its worst ever migration crisis are disintegrating into a slanging match between national capitals ahead of what is shaping up to be a major clash between eastern and western Europe over a common response.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, rejected the criticism and stepped up her campaign to pressure reluctant EU partners into relieving the load on Germany and taking part in a more equitable system of sharing refugees across the EU. … “It’s not the time to be pointing fingers at each other,” said Natasha Bertaud, the European commission’s spokeswoman on immigration.
Merkel’s comments came as Hungarian authorities closed Budapest’s main station to refugees and migrants following chaotic scenes on Monday, when people who had been camped outside for weeks were suddenly allowed to leave for Austria and Germany without visa checks.
The move followed the station’s complete closure earlier, when all trains to the west had been stopped from leaving. Police in helmets and wielding batons surrounded Keleti station’s grand, crumbling facade and dozens of refugees and migrants who were inside were forced out.
Though tragic and disturbing, these events mark the first time that the Western left has had to directly face a reality, which until now has been held at romantic arm’s length. Africa and the Middle East have come to Berlin and the clash may break the EU.
For many it will be a rude awakening. It was one thing to applaud UN migration chief Peter Sutherland’s call to “undermine the national homogeneity” of Europe while the refugees were idealized subjects in a documentary video. It is quite another to see these multicultural multitudes in the flesh swarming over Eurostar train roofs. Sutherland said with the greatest assurance:
The EU should “do its best to undermine” the “homogeneity” of its member states … Peter Sutherland told peers the future prosperity of many EU states depended on them becoming multicultural.
He also suggested the UK government’s immigration policy had no basis in international law.
He was being quizzed by the Lords EU home affairs sub-committee which is investigating global migration.
Mr Sutherland, who is non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former chairman of oil giant BP, heads the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which brings together representatives of 160 nations to share policy ideas.
Now we shall see if they get as far as Sutherland’s property in Ireland.
More rousing still was the proclamation of that other EU worthy, Chief of Security Federica Mogherini, who argued that problems of the Middle East were caused by the victimization of Islam:
The idea of a clash between Islam and “the West” — a word in which everything is put together and confused — has misled our policies and our narratives. Islam holds a place in our Western societies. Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and — what matters most — in Europe’s present and future.
Some people are now trying to convince us that a Muslim cannot be a good European citizen, that more Muslims in Europe will be the end of Europe. These people are not just mistaken about Muslims: these people are mistaken about Europe, they have no clue what Europe and the European identity are.
The so-called Islamic State is putting forward an unprecedented attempt to pervert Islam for justifying a wicked political and strategic project. … Daʼesh is Islam’s worst enemy in today’s world. Its victims are first and foremost Muslim people. Islam is a victim itself.
I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics — not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not.
This is the kind of argument that gets a standing ovation in a French university — and probably an American one, too.
And suppose Mogherini is correct. Perhaps Islam has been framed and the millions pounding on Europe’s doors are there to lodge an official complaint. The advice of people like Peter Sutherland and Mogherini could theoretically be pearls of wisdom whose truth escapes the low intellects of lesser minds.
In which case they’ll get a chance to prove it. But they probably won’t. A real cynic might start a pool predicting when the first Eurocrat “defects” to the U.S., Canada or Australia. “Help, get me out of paradise.”
There is nothing new in what the Eurocrats are saying. The perfection of windmills, the nobility of ship recycling, the progressive nature of Third World Marxism, the beauty of punitive taxes, the majesty of world government, and the inspiration of Islam have long been part of the standard Narrative. What is unique, what is different this time is that the Narrators are going to have to call the play while they are being overrun by the exemplars of their ideals.
In one sense, it’s a plumbing problem. First World progressives have flushed so much toxin into the sump of the Third World that a backflow was bound to happen. All the noxious forces they have so carefully cultivated are oozing, and not in the direction of Israel, but towards Brussels. When Europe cried “Yankee go home!”, they should have realized that it dismantled the valve which held back the contents of the tank.
And now who they gonna call to fix the pipe? Obama?
Those who wanted a world without America have gotten it.
The collapse of MENA has not only created a crisis in EU, it has forced European social democracy to squarely face its own cherished beliefs. This may be the first time the Western disciples of Karl Marx will meet the logical consequences of their thinking. It will be sad in human terms. But everyone needs to be alone sometime by himself and the devil he conjured, with no one else to blame.
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