In his thought-provoking book The Lucifer Principle, Harold Bloom, relying on years of zoological research, points out how “a strange thing happens when humans and other animals are cornered by the uncontrollable. Their perceptions shut down, their thoughts grow more clouded, and they have a harder time generating new solutions to their problems.” This kind of syncope can manifest itself in a number of different ways: a feigned lack of interest when presented with a threat, as when a once-dominant ape pretends to focus on a banana peel rather than respond to the challenge mounted by a formidable claimant to his throne, or when a rat frustrated by its powerlessness before an intimidating rival will attack a lesser member of the pack.
These are useful concepts and insights that can help us get a bead on the crucial issues of the day. Nature is of a piece. What goes for the ape and the rat, solacing themselves with avoidance mechanisms or the fiction of authority, goes for the individual human being as it does for the nation as a whole, and, indeed, for the very framework of the civilization of which they form a part. When an organism or a “superorganism” senses that it is losing control, that its favored position atop the dominance hierarchy is no longer assured and that it is facing the prospect of imminent dispossession, as if by reflex it turns aside, practices the art of studied indifference or develops an array of subterfuges—what Bloom terms the “endorphin strategy” that makes us feel good while it dulls the senses and cripples the intellect. It almost invariably contents itself by blanking out the menace or mugging its weaker partners and cohabitants.
This description, then, of animal and primate behavior has profound implications for the trajectories of entire societies, cultures and civilizations, that is, “superorganisms.” As they rise to the top of the international or global “pecking order,” they experience a “testosterone surge” of power, confidence and exploratory vitality, which impacts the very psychology of its constituent “cells” or members—individual human beings. They do not feel the need to apologize for their triumphs, expanding economies and higher standards of living. They move into the future with flexed assurance and a proud conviction of their civilizing mission and justified ascendance.
However, when these larger groupings intuit that they are slipping from their privileged position above the common ruck and are beginning to slide inexorably down the scale of power and preference, they proceed to espouse various delusionary measures to evade the shock of recognition. Rather than struggle to preserve or regain their pre-eminence, they concentrate on the banana peel, as it were, pretending that no challenge is being posed to their fading hegemony. Or they turn upon their own, whether individuals, groups or nations, whom they blame for their evident discomfiture and, indeed, for their unadmitted but darkly sensed weakness. They may even begin shilling for the enemy, whom they profess to see as an equal, a potential benefactor, a friend in the making or a collaborator in some noble cultural initiative. As Bloom reminds us, “In a world where some cultures elevate violence to a virtue, the dream of peace can be fatal.” Moreover, so ignominious a surrender tends, ironically, to strut under the banner of “peace, freedom and justice.”
And this, I fear, is precisely what is happening in the contemporary West. “Peace” means that we are no longer willing to fight for the principles and traditions that have raised us to the top of the dominance hierarchy and that we are ready or eager to submit to a clear ideological foe. “Freedom” means that we have accepted the growing likelihood of defeat and comparative servitude. And “justice” means the acknowledgment of the “rights” of our adversaries to game the social, political and legal systems of their host countries to their advantage, in other words, to insinuate their norms of conduct and cultural presuppositions into a way of life we have long taken for granted and are now prepared to surrender piecemeal to the claims of the “other.”
The symptoms of capitulation are unmistakable, not only with regard to the increasingly muscular, secular autocracies, like China and Russia and their allies, which we try desperately to pretend away as they ascend the scale of power and control at our expense. The signs of cultural enervation are also evident in our yielding bit by bit to the relentless march of militant Islam from country to country and into the very entrails of the democratic body politic. As Bat Ye’or has shown, the dhimmification of Europe is well under way and is probably irreversible. And now the pathology of appeasement and submission has begun to infect the collective psyche of America itself, especially its current leadership, the left-liberal media, the majority of public intellectuals who have come to act like cheerleaders for the other team, and far too many of our academics who inhabit the dank mausoleum of the modern university. The moribund walk to their second extinction. As James Lewis remarks, “American liberals and European socialists…happily collude in their own subjection and degradation.” A recent book by Wells Earl Draughon, While America Sleeps, meticulously corroborates the peril we face and reads like a death sentence we have little time to repeal. Its message might awaken us from our dogmatic slumber, alerting us to the avoidance syndrome that guarantees our eventual eclipse.
This is where a wide-awake Israel comes into the geopolitical equation. It is no secret that Israel is the only legitimate democracy in the Middle East, that it is a loyal compatriot of the United States, that its structural roots are planted in European soil, that it is a vigorous, advanced and technological and scientific leader among the nations, and that it is surrounded by bellicose and regressive Islamic states that wish to erase it from “the page of time,” to cite Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are the same Islamic states that have embarked on a virulent offensive against the democratic West through the exercise of terror or the prosecution of “stealth jihad,” or both.
And yet, unable or unwilling to grasp that Israel is perched on the frontier of a world-historical conflict, exemplifying the values and usages of the West and coming under almost daily attack from a common enemy, so-called “freedom loving” nations have turned against the Jewish state, defamed it in the corridors of power, vilified it in the media, acquiesced to the corrupt and slanderous assaults on its moral and physical integrity via the offices of the United Nations, pursued boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, winked at Israel Apartheid Weeks suppurating on our campuses, imposed coercive measures to restrict building projects and the establishment of secure borders, and both subsidized and glorified the terror-sponsoring cartels that go by the name of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-ruled Gaza. It is as if Western-oriented Israel and not extremist, Western-hating Islam has come aberrantly to be perceived as the West’s nemesis and scourge.
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