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The Joy of Schadenfreude

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    Horowitzian prism about those 200,000-plus Americans from every walk of life The War Party is having a bad time of it – hooray! The Joy of Schadenfreude by
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2005
      Horowitzian prism about those 200,000-plus Americans from every walk
      of life

      The War Party is having a bad time of it – hooray!

      The Joy of Schadenfreude
      by Justin Raimondo
      Friday, September 30, 2005

      Smear of the Year, or perhaps a prominent entry in Hysterical
      Outbursts of Note. And what vivid imagery it conjures! Seen through a
      Horowitzian prism, those 200,000-plus Americans from every walk of
      life who came to Washington to protest an unjust and intolerable war
      were really turbaned terrorists: instead of chanting "Peace, now!"
      what they were really saying was "Zar-qa-wi! Zar-qa-wi!"


      Ah, the joy of schadenfreude! There's really nothing quite like it.
      Wikipedia tells us there is no equivalent word in English, and defines
      this German expression as meaning "pleasure taken from someone else's
      misfortune" or "shameful joy." In short, it means gloating, albeit of
      a very special kind, and these days there is plenty of opportunity to
      indulge in it to our heart's content – and I intend to take full
      advantage of the opportunity.

      Let's start with the neocons' reactions to the gigantic antiwar march
      held in Washington this past weekend: if you like your humor dark –
      and I do – you'll get a horse laugh out of poor old David Horowitz,
      whose bile threatens to eat away at his insides until all that's left
      is a hollow husk: "100,000 Zarqawi supporters mass in D.C.," he
      screeches. Now there's a headline that surely deserves some sort of
      special recognition: Smear of the Year, or perhaps a prominent entry
      in Hysterical Outbursts of Note. And what vivid imagery it conjures!
      Seen through a Horowitzian prism, those 200,000-plus Americans from
      every walk of life who came to Washington to protest an unjust and
      intolerable war were really turbaned terrorists: instead of chanting
      "Peace, now!" what they were really saying was "Zar-qa-wi! Zar-qa-wi!"

      People like Horowitz, who made an abrupt right turn after signing on
      with the New Left in the 1960s – and, in his case, filled a special
      niche as one of the leading groupies of the Black Panther Party – are
      suffering from a severe form of ideological whiplash. So abrupt and
      traumatic was their turnaround, that, in many cases, they took leave
      of their senses: their brain rattled around in their skull so
      violently that the result was… madness. The particular variety of
      mental derangement suffered by Horowitz manifests as a kind of
      political coprolalia. Although there may have been a time when he knew
      how to frame a real argument and make his case, his expostulations
      have degenerated, over the years, until they consist primarily of
      epithets. "Communist" and "Jew-hater" are two of his more mild
      descriptions of the marchers. By the beginning of the second
      paragraph, he is already comparing them to Hitler. [NOTE: Irrational,
      neurotic Horowitz followers create the majority of anti-divestment
      activists. There are few "normal" people among the pro-Israel crowd.]

      This progressive derangement is not limited to Horowitz, but extends
      to his followers and employees (or do I repeat myself?). A recent item
      on Horowitz's appropriately named "Moonbat Central" blog denounces Lew
      Rockwell – a man who would repeal the 20th century, and might not even
      stop there – for being "leftist-like." The hallucinatory effects of
      drinking the Horowitzian Kool-Aid are readily apparent: if you don't
      support the war, the neocons, and the Bush regime, you're a "leftist."
      These people are so indoctrinated, so unwilling to consider anything
      outside their own narrow and cartoonishly simple paradigm, that
      they're no longer capable of perceiving even the vaguest outlines of
      reality. In this, they resemble nothing so much as old-time
      Stalinists, of the sort that Horowitz in his New Left Period at least
      pretended to abhor.

      This is fitting, as the American stance abroad increasingly takes on
      both the substance and style of Soviet policy toward Eastern Europe at
      the height of the Cold War era. Cato Institute analyst Justin Logan
      trenchantly describes our foreign policy as a "harebrained,
      warmed-over version of the Brezhnev Doctrine" – the "Bushnev Doctrine"
      – and the Sovietization of the conservative movement is one bizarre
      consequence of this development.

      Speaking of cartoons, another symptom of the ex-leftist-turned-neocon
      syndrome is the tendency to become a caricature of oneself, and surely
      Christopher Hitchens fits the bill in this regard. His reaction to the
      weekend's massive antiwar mobilization is that it represented a
      Popular Front of "fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism." No one can be
      sincere in opposing this war, according to Hitchens: we were all
      manipulated by an evil cabal consisting of the Workers World Party,
      which supposedly controls the International ANSWER coalition that
      co-sponsored the Washington march. No one has told Hitchens that
      Workers World has split into two rather tiny factions, and has left
      ANSWER: the two splinter groups, together no more than a few hundred,
      are hardly in a position to manipulate anyone.

      The main work of the march was accomplished by United for Peace and
      Justice, which Hitchens describes, somewhat grandiloquently, as

      "A very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it
      honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that
      used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to
      discuss 'peace' in East Berlin or Bucharest."

      The hallucinatory effects of the neocon Kool-Aid are particularly
      strong in this little essay, where, it seems, time has run back.
      Suddenly we are living in the heyday of Hitchens' sort of archaic
      leftism: the Cold War era, where brave "anti-Stalinist" commies of the
      Hitchenesque variety denounce the depredations of the Soviet
      "degenerated workers states" and urge "the masses" to rise up and
      smite the Thermadorians – all from the comfort of their studies, of

      Hitchens' historical analogy, aside from being the product of his
      longing to return to the far-off days of his youth – when, at least,
      he had some principles, albeit wrong ones – is also quite inaccurate.
      Bin Laden and his followers, far from resembling the Soviet Union at
      the apex of its power, are nowhere in control of a single state. They
      never really even controlled Afghanistan, probably because no one ever
      has, although we may hand them control of Iraq – or a remnant of it –
      if we persist in our wrongheaded and counterproductive policy of
      waging war on the Muslim world. Hitchens squirms and screams and yells
      imprecations at this paradox, yet never succeeds in refuting or even
      confronting it:

      "Some of the leading figures in this 'movement,' such as George
      Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and
      say that they support the Ba'athist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer
      to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way
      to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to
      criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds
      before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were
      invented or created by the United States. That bad, huh? (You might
      think that such an accusation – these thugs were cloned by the
      American empire for God's sake – would lead to instant condemnation.
      But if you thought that, gentle reader, you would be wrong.)"

      The easy way to tell if someone has gone mad is to reflect on how
      often, and how vehemently, they reject known facts of reality.
      Hitchens denies that the U.S. was ever allied with bin Laden and his
      followers. That little war in Afghanistan against the Soviets – where
      bin Laden, the construction magnate, built huge underground tunnels in
      the sides of mountains to hide the U.S.-funded mujahedin – has been
      entirely blanked out of his memory. Not to mention the occasion when
      bin Laden's legions, in alliance with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton,
      waged a war of "liberation" – a war hailed by Hitchens – on behalf of
      Kosovo's Muslim jihadists, who are now feeding on the carcass of
      dismembered Yugoslavia. Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has
      always been at war with Eastasia – and don't you forget it!

      We not only invented bin Laden, we have enabled his rise, as Michael
      Scheuer puts it, to the point where the United States government has
      become his "indispensable ally." To the hallucinating ex-leftist,
      however, on his way to reconciling with "bourgeois" society – and
      eager to suck up to some new Historical Imperative – there is no law
      of causality. Cause and effect, supply and demand, and the idea of
      objective reality – all of this is repealed by the ideologue, who
      lives in a world of dogmatic assertions.

      This dogmatism is particularly redolent of our neoconservatives, such
      as Hitchens, who have only lately discovered the narcotic effects of
      U.S. military action on behalf of traditionally liberal or even
      leftist political goals. That's why they insist the news coming out of
      Iraq – a daily horror show of sectarian violence and a growing
      insurgency – cannot be true, and that the media is presenting a
      deliberately distorted picture of our glorious "victory." Just like
      the Soviet generals and their masters in the Kremlin, who insisted the
      Communist future was assured and that they were marching forward into
      the daylit utopia of a socialist paradise, right up until the day the
      Berlin Wall fell. They said it even as the whole structure of the
      Marxist monolith began to disintegrate quite rapidly. Statists of all
      stripes always revert to a crude determinism when backed up against a
      wall, and so it is with Hitchens, who lapses into Soviet journalese
      mode when he describes what the U.S. is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan:

      "In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train
      to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame
      constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and
      generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim."

      The Soviets, too, boasted of their road-building, hospital-building,
      and other efforts at modernization in Afghanistan – even as they
      carpet-bombed entire cities, rounded up all possible opponents, and
      killed many thousands. They, too, hailed the education and general
      uplifting of women as a social objective worth going to war over –
      even as the Red Army slaughtered sons and fathers in the name of
      "progress." That the Americans have taken up this old Communist
      propaganda ploy as one of their own talking points suits old lefties
      like Hitchens and his friend Horowitz just fine. It's an old wine
      marketed in a new bottle, and the effects are just as intoxicating –
      particularly for power-lusting intellectuals out to save the world
      from itself, by force of arms if need be.

      Yes, the Soviet style of these largely unreconstructed totalitarians
      leeches through, even after all these years. The enemy is not just
      mistaken, or misguided, or just plain wrong: oh no, that's not good
      enough for their purposes. The enemy must be the epitome of evil, the
      lowest of the low, the Devil incarnate. The Soviet press was fond of
      insect analogies: cockroaches was a favorite epithet, and Hitchens the
      hack is not above borrowing from the old Stalinist arsenal:

      "[I]n each case, from within the swamp and across the borders, the
      most poisonous snakes and roaches are being recruited and paid to
      wreck the process and plunge people back into the ooze. How nice to
      have a 'peace' movement that is either openly on the side of the
      vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how
      delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this
      neutrality, as 'progressive.'"

      The Nazis likened Jews to "poisonous snakes" and infused such imagery
      into books intended for children. Hitchens is eclectic: he borrows
      from his antecedents on the right as well as the left. The enemies of
      the all-powerful American state are "vermin," in his view, and our
      armies are a "cleanup crew." We must sweep the world with the mighty
      broom of the U.S. military, like that old Soviet poster of the Red
      Army brushing aside the "fascist insects." In this way, the commies of
      yesteryear – comrades Horowitz and Hitchens – fulfill their youthful
      dreams of World Revolution.

      There is, when you think about it, a scary sort of madness about this
      sort of language, this ability to analogize individual human lives and
      destinies with vermin – with dirt – and the actions of self-appointed
      sanitation engineers. It goes beyond mere arrogance and approaches a
      kind of mental illness – a sociopathic syndrome – that makes its
      victims a danger to decent people everywhere.

      I have to admit, however, to taking an inordinate amount of pleasure
      out of this public display of unwholesome and unholy hysteria. Poor
      Hitchens is unnerved by the absolute failure of his new allegiance:
      having abandoned the Marxist determinism of his youth, he cast his lot
      in with the seeming inevitability of American power – just in time to
      see it dashed on the rocks of its own hubris.

      So, too, must Horowitz be driven into a similar psycho-political dead
      end, snarling at the sight of his enemies triumphant: he, too,
      switched sides just as the tables were turning. The only problem being
      that they were turning in an entirely different direction than the one
      he imagined.

      In a piece arguing that the Iraqis should vote to reject their newly
      minted constitution, Fred Kaplan offhandedly writes:

      "I say this with nothing but dismay. The Bush administration wants to
      withdraw most U.S. ground troops from Iraq by the end of next year, as
      do I. The official rationale will be: We've done our job; Iraq has a
      new government and a new constitution; we'll keep a cadre of troops
      behind for training and essential security, but otherwise the defense
      of Iraq is up to the Iraqis. But if there is no new constitution, no
      new government, a major pullout will be harder to justify."

      Yes, it won't be long now before Horowitz and Hitchens are snarling at
      the Bush administration. The revolution has been betrayed, once again!
      As they contemplate the polls, and the vast unpopularity of this war,
      they will soon be condemning the American people themselves – as
      cowards, betrayers, decadent and too "soft" to fit the mold of the
      heroic neo-Soviet soldier fighting for "progress" and "modernity."
      From this realization will be born yet another permutation of
      right-wing thought: the paleo-neoconservatives.

      Oh, this is fun – too much fun to indulge in much longer (now that
      would be true decadence!). The joy of schadenfreude is so sweet, so
      intense, that it can only be borne for a very short period of time –
      that is, for as long as it takes me to write a single column…



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