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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Religion

Sunday September 16 2018

I am currently reading The Closing of the Muslim Mind, by Robert R. Reilly, with a view to reviewing it for Samizdata.  Brilliant.  For as long as I’ve been reading this book, finishing reading it has been my number one concern.  Shoving up brilliant stuff here has … not.  Some Facebook friends of mine have been choosing the books that have most influenced their thinking, and this book looks like it will be added to my list.

Here is a typically illuminating paragraph from this book (on page 144 of my paperback edition – which I am happy to note is towards the end of it):

The enormous influence of Saudi Arabia today in the Muslim world is often thought by Westerners to be almost completely due to its oil wealth - petro-Islam. However, this discounts the fact that many Muslims, including in countries like Egypt, which are traditionally opposed to Saudi Arabia, see this wealth as a direct gift from Allah. Can it be only an accident that these treasures are under the sands of this particular country? No, they must be there as a reward to the Saudis for following the true path. Why else would the oil be there? - a question that has to be answered not by geologists, but within the understanding that God has directly placed the oil there as He directly does all things. The presence of petroleum gives credence to the Saudi claim that its Wahhabi form of Islam is the legitimate one. It is because of the oil that other Muslims are willing to give this claim consideration. This is why Wahhabism has spread so significantly, even in parts of the world like Indonesia that would seem, from their cultural backgrounds, to have little sympathy with its radical literalism. Therefore, it is not only through Saudi oil largess but also because of where the oil is that Wahhabism enjoys such prominence.

For the sort of Muslim Reilly is writing about (and that’s a hell of a lot of them), what we in the West refer to as “reality” is continuously created by Allah, in a succession of miraculous whims.  Even to study the laws of nature is to presume to place limits on what Allah might choose to do, and is accordingly a blasphemy.  Whatever happens was done by Allah, and is accordingly right.  Might is right.

And if the Saudis have most of the financial clout in the Muslim world, that means Allah must be on their side.

Wednesday August 29 2018

I did a posting about a Big Thing Alignment that I saw when I went with Darren to that cricket match at the oval, and I did a posting about how the last ball of that game looked, two days later, on video.

Now for some more photos I took on the day Darren and I went to day 2 of that game between Surrey and Lancashire.

The very first photo I took that day was this:

image

I love how, in the middle of that big photo, we see one of those excellent You Are Here signs that you see all over London, and in many other spots, I don’t doubt, in not-London.  I really like these signs, and constantly photo them, if only to remind me for later of exactly where Here was at that particular moment.

Of this OCS stand, SteelConstruction.org has this to say:

This is a most appropriate use of steel, in a geometrically complex arrangement, which adds drama and visual excitement to a famous venue.

I was hoping that this OCS Stand, would be as open for people to sit in as it was in the above photo photo, because I have yet to experience the views from the top of that stand, surely as dramatic in their own ways as the stand itself. But on the evening when Darren and I were there, the OCS Stand was shut.  Shame.  Memo to self: I will photo these views.  If I have to make a special trip to the Oval just to ask about that, fine, I’ll do it, and keep on doing it, until they let me up there, preferably on a nice day.

Here is that OCS Stand, as it was looking at the second interval of the day, which happened not long after we got there:

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That photo makes the ground look pretty dark, even though the floodlights were on.  And it does not deceive.  The ground did indeed look dark, to the human eye.

Here is the Pavilion that faces the OCS Stand, which is where we soon moved to:

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Some like ancient, and dislike modern.  Others dislike ancient, and like modern.  Me?  I like both, and particularly like it when they are near each other, or (as in this case) facing each other, and I can relish the contrast.

One of the particular charms of cricket grounds – this being especially true of the two big London grounds, the Oval and Lord’s – is that they feature both (fairly(at least in style)) ancient, and (very) modern architecture.  In comparison,.I find big stadiums built all in one go very dull.  I went to a football game at Wembley, and if it hadn’t been for the big arch on the top of it, it would have been totally anonymous.  It’s not just the architectural uniformity.  It’s also that in a place like Wembley there are no gaps, and you can’t see anything except the stadium.  You could be anywhere.

Darren and I, what with Darren being a Surrey Member, sat in those
seats at the top, in the middle, and when you look out from there, across at the OCS Stand and to the left and the right of it, you couldn’t be anywhere but London.  Here is another view looking to the right, which includes that earlier Big Thing Alignment and several other random Big Things besides:

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And here is the view to the left, towards Battersea, where the new US Embassy, just up river from MI6, has detonated a building boom:

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But forget the US Embassy.  The reason I am showing you the above photo is to tell you how very dark the ground had become.  Forget playing cricket.  How on earth can you even see anything on that cricket pitch?

But seeing things on that pitch soon became very easy.  Quite soon afterwards, observe how very light the ground had become:

image

The floodlights were blasting away in both of those photos, not just in the second one.  Yet, in the first, they were being totally outshone by the paltry remnants of daylight.  Only when daylight had seriously dimmed did the floodlights suddenly start to make their presence felt.  And even then the sky is still quite light, especially down near the horizon.

I have been to the Oval quite a few times, but don’t recall witnessing the extremity of this contrast ever before.  I think it helped that we were looking down on the ground from quite a height, onto the brightness of the ground.  But basically, I’ve never been there when it was properly dark before.

The reason the above photo, especially of the people near me to the left, looks like it was taken with flash is because there is another big clutch of floodlights coming crashing into us from off to the right, very nearby.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I took just after arriving at the ground, through the Hobbes Gate, which is behind the Pavilion, on the far side of the Oval from the river, and from me:

image

One of the more agreeable features of London’s big two cricket grounds - Lord’s especially - is the number of giant photos there are on show, of cricketing heroes present and past.  It was the same when I visited White Hart Lane a while back.

Here is a closer-up snap of the Surrey ladies captain, Natalie Sciver:

image

Sciver lead her team to victory on Bank Holiday Monday in the ladies T20 national tournament.  Her Surrey “Stars” beat “Western Storm” in the one semi-final, and then won the final against Loughborough “Lightning”.  Lizelle Lee got a century for Surrey in the final, but she got good support from Sciver, and Sciver excelled with both bat and ball in the semi-final, which was a lot closer.

I am fond of emphasising how sport has replaced war in the world’s luckier and richer countries.  Long may that trend continue.  What these giant pictures emphasise, or so it feels to me, is the local significance of big sports clubs, and the way that, in terms of how these places feel close up, sport is also busy replacing religion.  This is especially true now that the other great modern challenger of religion in this kind of way, the cinema, is fading back into a merely domestic past-time.  The elaborate imagery.  The regular attendance at an architecturally impressive locale.  The shared agonies and ecstasies of the assembled congregations.  The way that the calendar is carved up into a distinct pattern.  To me, it all feels very religious, and I am certainly not the only one to have noticed this.  (That link took only seconds to find.)

The Church of Cricket is, I quite realise, but a small sect, these days, at any rate in England, compared to the Universal Church of Football.  But the point about sport replacing religion in modern life still stands.

Wednesday July 18 2018

Chris Martin, in this:

… I’m Christ Martin. ...

Just under the subheading “Transcript”.

But then again, why not?  In the Hispano- and Portugo-(?) spheres, they have lots of people called Jesus.

Monday June 25 2018

No posting here yesterday, because from mid afternoon onwards this site could not be reached, either by readers or by the writer, i.e. me.  Sorry about that, but all seems to be sorted now, as it had to be for me to be able to post this.

I also had email problems, and just when I really did not need them. The Sunday evening before the last Friday of the month is when I do a mass(-ish) email about my forthcoming Last Friday of the Month meeting.  (This time: Prof Tim Evans on Corbyn.) But, it would seem that the emails all got through, even if replies to them were only getting back to me at around midday today.

When you have problems like this, then as soon as they’re sorted the worrisomeness graph nosedives from VERY BAD!!!! to profound happiness:

imageimageimage

Which is always a better feeling than, logically, it deserves to be, considering that all that happened was that something bad happened and then stopped.  But when badness stops, that feels very good, even if, logically, it is only things getting back to normal.

Tuesday May 01 2018

... but something there.

Monday April 16 2018

Twitter is causing ever more interesting things to pile up on my computer screen, and slow everything down.  (I know, “bookmarks”.  Hate them.) So, here is a blog posting consisting of such links.  Which I can come back to and follow through on but probably never will, but possibly just might.

Eyebrows - we all have them, but what are they actually for?

The Kremlin has a Reckless Self-Image Problem.

Via 6k, how to take bizarre photos by stuffing wire wool into a egg whisk, setting the wire wool on fire, and swinging all that around on a rope.  Do not try this at home, unless you want to burn down your home.

Next, a Twitter posting about cactus patterns:

So frustrating! My cactus patterns are going viral on FB, but the person who posted the photo of them a) didn’t credit me and b) deletes any comments I write responding to people asking for the patterns.

But what if she made that up? As a ruse to get the world to pay attention to her cactus patterns?  Or, what if she hired, in good faith, some sleazy “internet marketer” who deliberately posted her photos on some faked-up Facebook site, minus any credit, told her about it, and then blocked her complaints?  The sleazy internet marketer then advised her to complain about this to all and sundry, knowing that all and sundry would sympathise.  She seems like an honest person, doing honest business, which is why I pass this on.  But a decade of internetting has made me cynical.

Next, a Spectator piece about someone called Scaramucci, who is writing a book about Trump.  The piece says more about Scaramucci than it does about Trump, but his book sounds like it will be quite good.  Scaramucci sounds like he has his head screwed on right, unlike a lot of the people who write Trump books.

Also in the Spectator, Toby Young realises that his wife is smarter than he is.  And she chose to stay at home and raise their kids because that’s what she wanted to do.  You can feel the tectonic plates of Western Civilisation shifting back towards stay-at-home mumhood, even as mere policy continues to discourage it.  Jordan Peterson, take a bow.  That man is already raising the birth rate in rich countries, by encouraging both fatherhood and motherhood.  The only question is: By how much?  Trivially, or significantly?  My bet, with the passing of a bit of time: significantly.

George Bernard Shaw tells it like it was and is about Islam.  I lost track of how I chanced upon that, but there it is.  These days, GBS would probably get a talking-to from the Thought Police, a talking-to which might well include the words: “We’re not the Thought Police”.  If the Thought Police were to have a go at her, they just might get an earful themselves.

Mike Fagan liked this photo of Mont Saint Michel with sheep in the foreground.  I can’t any longer find when he liked it, but he did.  Reminds me of this Millau Viaduct photo, also with sheep in the foreground.

Boaty McBoatface got turned into David bloody Attenborough, but Trainy McTrainface proudly rides the railway lines of Sweden.  As usual, You Had One Job supplied no link (so no link to them), but here’s the story.

Thank you Paul Marks for telling me about someone telling me about Napoleon’s greatest foe.  His name?  Smith.

The sun is now spotless, or it was on April 11th.

David Baddiel has doubts about the bloke who said “gas the Jews” rather a lot, to a dog.  As do I.  It should be legal, but don’t expect me to laugh.

Tim Worstall:

All of which leads to the correct Brexit stance to be taking. No deal. We’ll go to unilateral free trade and the rest of you can go boil your heads. We’ll give it a couple of decades and we’ll see who is richer, OK?

Quillette: The China Model Is Failing

The three temporarily separate Elizabeth lines.

Wisdom.

Anton Howes on Sustained Economic Growth.

John Arnold made a fortune at Enron.  He is now spending some of it on criticising bad science.

Human genes reveal history.  This book is number (about) twenty on my to-read list.

Philip Vander Elst on How Communism Survived Thanks to Capitalist Technology.

And finally, Bryan Caplan still thinks this is pretty good.

I now feel much better.  And more to the point, my computer seems a lot sprightlier than it was.  This has been the computerised equivalent of cleaning my room.  The job is not done, but I have taken a chunk bite out of it.

Wednesday March 21 2018

Says Armin Navabi:

The only way to reform Islam is to get rid of Islam.

A short video, lasting just over two minutes.  Navabi is right, provided by “reform” we mean “make nice”.  That verbal quibble aside, agreed.

There are many nice people who want to remain nice but also to remain Muslim.  Can’t be done.  Islam demands nastiness from its followers, and there’s no way round that, only out of it.

The current Western governmental view of Islam is: resist the bad stuff, appease the good stuff.  But the only good stuff in Islam is good people trying to be good but being told not to be good by Islam.  Islam itself is the enemy.

The way to defeat Islam is to persuade a large number of its current adherents to stop being its adherents.  That will put Islam on the defensive, both ideologically and physically.  Muslims will be put in the position of trying to explain that Islam is nice.  They will fail, but will then look weak, because they will have abandoned their strongest weapon, which is the fact that Islam demands nastiness.  And the Muslims will thus lose.  There will still be many “Muslims”, so-called, in the world, but the ones who really believe in it will become a beleaguered minority, constantly betrayed to their enemies by other “Muslims” who are trying to prove, to the world and to other Muslims who are thinking of leaving Islam, how nice they are, despite going through all the motions of saying that they still believe nasty things.

In other anti-Islamic news, Dawkins notes a stirring of atheism in the Islamic world.  I hope, and more and more think, that this is right, and very good news.  The more I learn about this man, more I admire him, even though I mostly don’t agree with him on domestic political issues.

If you are now, still, a Muslim, stop it.

Monday February 19 2018

Yes, still ill, so still quota-photo-posting:

image

July 2009.

I like the hands.

Friday February 16 2018

You wait nearly thirteen years at BMdotcom for a giant penis photo, and then, out of the blue, two come along.  That one, in the post before last yesterday, and this one:

image

Crikey, blimey, etc..  Or as we Brits also used to say: Well I’m blowed.

Fox News, so also “other creatures”.

You Had One Job calls this an “unfortunate helicopter shot”.  But I bet the photoer could hardly believe his extreme good fortune.

Friday December 29 2017

This evening I had a party at my home.  All the people I invite to my Last Friday of the Month meetings were invited, and almost exactly the same number of people showed up as tend to show up for the meetings.  How do they do this?

I am now completely knackered, but it wasn’t the party alone that knackered me; it was … alas, I find that I am too knackered to explain.  Maybe, although I promise nothing, later.

So instead, a quota photo, of Southwark Cathedral not being dwarfed by modernity:

image

Taken out of the train window, on my way to Hither Green.

Spot the Gherkin.

Tuesday December 05 2017

Earlier this evening at the Two Chairmen, Westminsters, Adriana Lucas, who grew up in the old Czechoslovakia as was, gave a most eloquent talk about this experience.  She didn’t bang on at length about the usual horrors – prison camps, executions, purges, and so on – although of course these were mentioned.  Rather did she focus on the minutiae of life for the rather less unlucky victims of communism, the ones who got to stay alive.  People adjusted, basically.  Or if, like Adriana’s family, they were dissidents, they learned to be extremely distrustful of almost everyone but their closest and most trusted loved ones.  Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

Here are four photos, that I picked out from the dozen or more that I took, and that I just sent to meetings organiser Simon Gibbs, who is to be seen in the first one, introducing Adriana.  The photos I sent to Simon were rectangles, but I actually prefer these square cropped versions.

imageimageimage
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As you can see, this excellent talk was videoed.  Videos are far harder to edit than merely to … video.  So you may have to wait a bit before seeing this one.  But, for those who did not attend this talk and for many who did, it will be worth the wait.

Monday December 04 2017

This article (which is based on and which links to this article) has been an open window on my computer for over a month now, because it struck me as being so very interesting.

These reports concern recent research into the impact upon the world of online dating.  Mostly good impacts.  Two impacts in particular are pointed to.

First, online dating seems to facilitate more interracial relationships and interracial marriages.  There is definitely a correlation between online dating and interracial relationships.  This research strongly suggests that the link is causal.  Online dating gets people past racial barriers.

Second, the relationships it facilitates tend to last longer and be more solid.

If I believe both of the above effects to be not only very important, but also to be true, this is because both effects make so much sense to me.

The first effect concerns taste in mere appearances.  Suppose you inhabit a world where a relationship between you and someone ethnically different is somewhat taboo, the chances are you won’t be sufficiently acquainted with many fanciable people of a different ethnic group to be able to do anything about it.  But if a dating app asks, bluntly: Do you like the look of this person, or of this person, or of this person? - then your answers will crash right through such racial boundaries, provided only that you personally would like them to.  Relationships across racial boundaries become a simple matter of individual taste.  Your “friends” can just stay right out of it.

But then, once strong relationships across racial boundaries stop being the stuff of movies, because they are so rare, and become quite common, all those “friends” are just going to have to live with it, or stop being your friends.  Chances are, they’ll be fine with it.

I do not believe it to be coincidence that the one marriage in my circle of friends which I know for certain to have started on the internet is also one that crosses what would, when I was a lot younger, have been a racial barrier.

The second effect bears strongly on the kinds of fundamentals that can ruin a marriage in the longer run, and also get you through a racial barrier in the short run.  These fundamentals are, well: fundamentals.  Fundamentals like beliefs about what life is about and for, what marriage means and how sex should and should not be done, what is right and wrong politically or ideologically or spiritually, and so on.  These are the kinds of things that also, along with superficial racial preferences, get declared that little bit earlier, when you do computer dating, rather than turning around to bite you, two years into that relationship with a more local bod who merely looked great and had a nice sounding voice and wore nice clothes.  And you get a bigger choice, which enables you to pick dating partners with more similar beliefs about those fundamentals.  Even if such fundamentals aren’t stated in full up front, they are often at least referred to early on, and form the basis of early conversations, rather than just erupting later, in the heat of some perhaps seemingly trivial drama.

That interracial marriage I referred to above also anecdotally confirms everything in the above paragraph, about those fundamentals.  How they both looked to each other was a nice bonus, but it was fundamentals that really brought them together for the long run.

The one big negative I can see happening here is that if all of the above is right, then the tendency will be reinforced for society to divide up into groups who all agree with each other about fundamentals. The much discussed “bubble” effect of the internet will be greatly reinforced.  Regular touch with people who hold to other beliefs will become rather rarer, because marriages used to be more common across such fundamental belief boundaries but are now becoming less so.  And that could be a big negative in a lot of ways.

A way to sum up what is happening here is that society is continuing to be tribal, but that the tribes will now be based more on beliefs and less on biological and genetic similarities and connections.

I should say that I have not myself ever done computer dating.  I would welcome comments on the above from people who have.

I note with a small spasm of pleasure that one of the researchers who did the research alluded to, Josue Ortega, is based at Essex University, of which I am a graduate and of which I have fond memories.

Monday October 02 2017

This blog having been in business for well over a decade, an obvious blog post genre is ten-years-ago-today.  This one’s actually more like ten-years-ago-plus-about-a-fortnight, but who, apart from me, is counting?:

imageimageimageimageimage
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What I think this clutch of photos captures rather well is the sheer fun that digital photography unleashed, around that time.  I was a photoer-having-fun and so were all the other photoers.

Digital photography wasn’t completely new at that moment.  It had already been around for several years.  But what my photo-archives tell me is that this is about when it started getting seriously good.  This was when the rubbish-to-okay success rate (simply from the point of view of things like blurriness) of the average mostly-automatic-setting photoer like me, or of the photoer in the above photos, started climbing from something like ten percent to more like fifty percent.  We weren’t yet at the fifty percent and still climbing rate.  Or, we only were if the light was very strong and there was no moving.  (That came around five years later.) But these kids frollicking about outside Westminster Abbey were keeping still for their camera and therefore also for mine, and as you can see, there was plenty of bright sunlight sloshing about that day.  So their pictures were probably okay, just as mine of them were.

Also, ten years ago was well before the face recognition problem kicked in.  Then, I had no problem about posting recognisable photos of people.  I also have no problem with the recognisable faces above, because these kids were making a rather undignified spectacle of themselves outside a major place of worship.  Which is fine.  God loves fun, or why would He have created so much of it?  But: the above recognisable faces, all those years ago, are fair game for my blog, I say.

Friday August 04 2017

Today, GodDaughter 2 and I went to the top of the Shard.  I took many photos, and I will now show you one of these.  It will be first one of the many that I took that I consider worthy to be shown to you.  Then I will go to bed, and I expect to sleep very well.

So, here we go.  What have we got?  Usually I am disappointed when I first look at one of these huge clutches of photos as soon as I get home, because I still remember what I was trying for.  Let’s hope looking at these photos now doesn’t depress me too much in this way.

image

Well, I ended up looking at all of them, and I am now rather depressed, mainly by the shininess of the windows through which I was photoing, and hence the many unwanted reflections from them in my photos.  The above photo, of Southwark Cathedral and surrounding things, was rather better than most, in this melancholy respect.  Normally I like reflections, but not today.

I actually promise nothing, but it is overwhelmingly likely that more photos from today will follow here.

Goodnight.

Sunday June 04 2017

This morning I went looking for any copies of the Koran that I might have downloaded, to do some more reading of it, in order to confirm that it is indeed as disgusting a piece of writing as I recall it being last time I tried to read all through it.  I did not find any Koran, but I did find the piece of writing below.

I started writing what follows in November 2006, but then stopped writing it, for some reason.  It still reads quite well, but I probably stopped because I found myself trying to say too many things, most of them somewhat more complicated than how I described them.  But I think this piece, which I reproduce here with no alterations from what I wrote over a decade ago, is a lot more right than wrong.  For all its first-draft-itis, it serves today as my response to yesterday’s terrorism in London, which I wasn’t far away from as I wandered about in London, as recounted in the previous post.  Only a bit more transport confusion and I might have got more directly involved in that.

The thing starts with seven subheadings, but as you will discover, I only got as far as elaborating on the first four.  But the others, still pack quite a punch, as single words.

Anyway, here it is:

Engage – notice – think – define – isolate - surround – destroy

What I mean by the West

I do not have in mind a mere geographical area, even though what I do have in mind definitely has its origins in a geographical area.  What I mean is a style of government, a style of political culture, composed of constitutionally divided political power, rather than despotism, and all the habits of political debate and political turbulence that go with that.  And, divided economic power, and all the habits of competitive trade and inventiveness that go with that.  And, the way that these two things feed off each other.

1. Engage

The West engages its enemies without even trying to.  This is because it is supremely powerful and supremely productive.  Without even knowing it, it outrages ancient pieties, entices primitive youths into involvement with it, starting with jeans etc., but only starting with that.  It smashes temples and turns them into supermarkets and car parks.  It commits sacrileges of every sort.  It paves paradise.  It turns objects of religious worship into priceless (i.e. very pricey indeed) antiques for the antiques market.  It will be many decades yet before it has no external enemies, probably centuries, and it will always have internal enemies, disgusted by its failures and successes.

That last point is particularly important.  The West doesn’t just make enemies in the regular sense, it helps to make them in the literal sense.  Communism, Fascism, and now Islamo-fascism all had tremendous input from the West itself.  In a way, you could say, the world is already entirely Westernised, but is, Western style, quarrelling.  One team wants the West to stop being the West, in the sense I have defined it, to stop quarrelling and to take its orders from some particular permanent despot or permanent elite.  The rest of the West wants the West to remain the West, and to continue quarrelling for ever.

2. Notice

So, contentedly, selfishly, complacently, the West is beset with enemies, and every few years or decades, one of these enemies persuades the West that it might be a serious threat, or at the very least a serious nuisance.  The recent enemies of the West have been Despotic Germany, in due course Hitler’s Germany.  Then the USSR.  Now there is Islam, Islamism, or whatever we call it.  (See below.  The confusion is a lot of what this posting is all about.) And maybe, also China.  Or maybe neither of the above, and we ought still to be at peace, contentedly, selfishly, complacently, and Clintonian contentment should still reign.  We are now quarrelling about that.

9/11 may or may not have been the latest moment when the West became aware of its next great enemy, but it certainly feels like one of those moments to me.

3. Think

9/11 certainly got a lot of people in the West thinking, and this, I suggest, is the stage we are now at when it comes to confronting Islam, Islamism, etc..  But, there is fierce disagreement about what, if anything much at all, should be done about this apparent new enemy.

The reason I didn’t put “disagree” in that list above is because the West always disagrees with itself, at all times.  It always argues.  None of the processes described here are unanimous, and wanting them to be is an un-Western way of thinking, I suggest.  I repeat, at no point in the process I describe is the West ever united.  Even the victory stage is hotly contested, with victory often being achieved by a minority which merely worked out how to do it.

President Bush, the by-default (and much contested and resented) leader of the West just now, has made a brave (or stupid according to taste) stab at defining, isolating, surrounding and destroying the Islam(ist) enemy, and although it is hard to see this now, I believe that his effort might yet prove sufficiently successful to sort that problem.  I can easily imagine a world, in about ten or twenty years time, say, in which we occasionally say, in among fussing about the Chinese or the South American Union of Bastards or whoever is next on the eternal list of enemies: Remember that 9/11 thing?  Yeah, whatever happened to those guys?  Well, well, history eh?  Talk about a dog that stopped barking.  I know, that doesn’t now seem likely, but

Many of the enemies of the West never get past the being noticed stage.  Think of rock and roll.  Some said that was an enemy of the West.  Now, it is the West, along with everything else we like, such as Hellman’s Mayonnaise, cricket on Sky TV, motorised Zimmer frames, the internet, etc. etc.  Rock and roll got noticed as a potential enemy, and then . . . well, that was pretty much it.  By and by, the people who had become agitated about it just relaxed and went on to fussing about something else.  Or just died.

Back to that thinking stage.  In a way, this is rather like “disagree” in that of course we think.  We in the West think, all the time.  It’s what we do.  So, why do I still award it a separate category of its own in this progression.  Well, because I think it is important to understand the bull session, thinking outside the box, anything-is-allowed nature of the process.

Take the Islam(ist) confrontation we are now thinking about so furiously.  Is there a problem?  Many say no.  Others say yes, there’s a huge problem, and we’re getting stuck into it, and why the hell don’t you stop bitching?  (I haven’t heard anyone say that yes there is a huge problem but it is now being taken care of and soon it will all be over, but, what the hell, you just heard me say that things could be like that, in this, only a few paragraphs ago.) If there is a problem, what kind of problem is it?  Is it religious of secular?  Ancient or modern?  Religious, political, economic or social?  Is the USA the real problem here?  Is the only problem that the damn USA is built for launching itself at problems, and if it doesn’t face a real problem it will launch itself at a fantasy problem, just for the fun and the profit of it?  Is the answer for all the religions to get along, by forming a kind of anti-modern religious cartel, and then for the relatively modern bits of the cartel to civilise the more primitive bits?  Is it All About Oil?  (And is the answer therefore to invent an oil substitute?)

Define

Define the enemy.  This is the argument which, historians may well decide, is the one the West is now having.  This is the particular object of the thinking.

For whatever it may be worth, and just to give you an example of the kind of argument this process involves, there is now a huge argument going on in the West right now about the nature of the Islamist threat.  Is it a threat from “extreme Islamists”, terrorists, people who are betraying Islam?  And is the answer to isolate these extreme Islamists terrorist, etc., from the rest of the Muslim world, by persuading “moderate” Muslims to suppress the extremity in their midst?  Or is Islam as a whole the problem?

My answer is a hybrid.  I think it highly unlikely that Islam as such will be totally defeated in the nearish future.  But I do think that it makes more sense to say that Islam is the problem, rather than mere Islamic extremism.  My understanding of the contents of the Koran, based on some reading of English translations and on a lot of hearsay and opinion from those (of all state of pro- to anti-Islamic opinion) who have read it a lot more than me, is that the Koran is a manual for conquest of the world by Islam.  Violence and savagery are definitely recommended, but so is making nice, when that will work better.  But, conquest – submission – is the objective.  The idea, to put it in terms of the West as I am defining the West, is for the West to be shut down.  Stop quarrelling.  Submit.  So, Islam itself is a mortal enemy of the West.  They can’t both win.  Either the West is shut down, or Islam is castrated into a bizarre group of people who believe their bizarre things but never actually do any of it, and spend their time unanimously explaining that it is all only metaphorical, and that Holy War really only means studying harder for your exams and doing your work better, and generally being nice and civilised.  Islam is absolutely not like this now, and is accordingly the West’s enemy.  The West faces the task, I would say, of destroying Islam.

In practice, what this means for the time being is for Islam to be sufficiently subjugated by the West for it not to be any kind of immediate problem.  Western victory would mean not Islam ceasing to exist, but Islam ceasing to exist as even a minor nuisance to the West.  Any excitable adolescent who read the Koran and wanted to act as if it means what it says would be suppressed at once, by other Muslims.  The rest of us wouldn’t need to be much involved.

So, how to do this?  Well, I am doing what I now recommend, which is to think about the problem, and to define the enemy.  And I now define the enemy as Islam.  Not Islamic extremism, or people betraying Islam, but: Islam.  What it is.  What is says.  Islam must now either be either destroyed, or, and in practice this amounts to something very similar, transformed into something completely different.

To the so-called Muslim majority moderates, I have this to say.  Get real.  You insist on your right to your religious beliefs.  Fine.  And we Westerners are going to insist on acquainting ourselves with your beliefs, now that you have our attention, and we are now doing this.  And the conclusion we are reaching is that your beliefs are a huge problem for us.  Even if you do not take them seriously, what if your crazy children do?  Ideas have consequences.  So if you repeat ad nauseam that the Koran is the unchallengeable word of God and must be followed, even if you do not follow it yourself, then in our eyes you, and not just the crazy kid suicide bombers etc., are doing something wicked.  You are spreading ideas that are hostile to the West, and we now blame you for this process.  Not just the crazy kids who take the ideas that you are spreading seriously.  We blame you for spreading these ideas.  You, as you now behave and now think, are the problem.

I often hear “moderate Muslims” say that “we are being blamed for things we didn’t do”.  But I am blaming you for things that you are doing.  You are spreading beliefs that you say under cross-examination that you do not really believe.  Then stop spreading them.  Stop worshipping the Koran.  Stop declaring it to be the word of God.  You say “we are under attack”.  So far as I am concerned, you are under attack.  You say that you are frightened.  You should be.

We Westerners are now quarrelling about whether we should allow ourselves the right to say that we hate Islam.  Well, while it remains legal to say it, I say it now: I hate Islam.  It is a vile and disgusting religion.  Its purpose is to ruin my life and to terrorise me into believing things that are the opposite of what I now believe, into living in an opposite way to how I now live.  Of course I hate it.

How, to digress a little, does this square with me being, as I am, a libertarian?  Well, I do not think that Islam should be illegal.  But nor do I think that me saying I hate Islam should be illegal.  And since this is an argument about ideas and the spread of ideas, the way that my side will win this argument is by arguing, not by passing laws which will suppress the public expression of ideas, but which will not argue them into no longer being believed in.

My team won a crushing ideological victory in the West over Soviet Communism.  We did this without, on the whole, ever making it illegal for Westerners to be Communists.  We just denounced all Communists for the idiot, evil freaks that they were, until eventually they were so demoralised by our contempt for them that they just shut up, and switched to things like Greenism.  They continue to spread many of their separate little Communist ideas, but they have mostly now stopped spreading the idea of Communism itself, and in fact this defeat predated the collapse of the USSR.  It left my team free to proceed with the destruction of Soviet Communism itself, pretty much ideologically unimpeded by Western Communists.

As I say, no laws against believing evil nonsense were necessary to win this ideological victory, and in fact such laws would have got in the way.  Illegal ideas are much harder to engage with and destroy, if only because they are so much harder to find, and because the temptation is to declare them already defeated when in fact they have only been forbidden and are still in rude health.