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War Is Peace

War Is Peace

When we are commanded to care for distant strangers with an intensity indistinguishable from the love we feel for our own families, what we get is not a nation of Albert Schweitzers and Mother Teresas, but one of frauds and hysterics. What we get, in fact, is the Oprahfication of America.”-William Voegeli

“We are afraid of conflict but always at war. And we no longer feel pain, that’s what the medicine’s for.”-Paint It Black, “Greetings, Fellow Insomniacs”

There is something fundamentally corrupt about Islam that is not present in Christianity. Christianity’s true nature has been perverted and used for power, gain, and terrible destruction over the course of millennia, and yet in its true iteration, it is a doctrine of humility, service, and reflection. Islam, even in its conceptions of “heaven,” remains tethered to the mortal coil with its emphasis on pleasure and sensation. For this reason I regard Islam as illegitimate, as not a religion at all, but just another ideology that infects peoples’ minds and drives them to perpetrate horrific acts of violence. No cosmic being, no deity, would sanction rape, torture, and mutilation as a fair exchange for admittance to paradise, nor would its “perfect model” be a hypocrite and pedophile. You can see why Leftists love this stuff, though. It perfectly aligns with their worldview in its emphasis on prohibition, materialism, the sexualizing of children, and fascist diktats, and they really get off on vicarious political/ideological violence conducted by Antifa proxy (V. I. Lenin: “Do you think we can be victors without the most severe revolutionary terror?”). The Left and Islamists share the same preoccupation with a utopian narrative that is, once again, wholly tied to the terrestrial, and they live their particular morality in the most public fashion possible. 

There is a long and “storied” tradition of the Left cultivating favor with the Islamic world in order to advance its interests. Justin Trudeau’s brother wrote propaganda for the Iranian theocracy, the same theocracy that featured famed Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as its sixth president. In the UK, Labour shamelessly panders to the Muslim community in order to secure their voting bloc and Western governmental officials across the board are bought and sold by Saudi oil money. Let’s also not forget the recent history of Islamo-Fascism in the form of Nazi advisors in the Middle East and the role of Arab-Muslim soldiers in World War II. A former assistant to Josef Goebbels wrote propaganda for Nasser. Much to their shame, even the socialist French have gotten in on the action—Jacques Chirac sold weapons-grade uranium and a nuclear reactor to Saddam Hussein in 1976, and the French government has consistently provided safe haven to such figures as Daoud Oudeh and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In the United States, sharia supporter and rape enabler Linda Sarsour is the face of “women’s empowerment” (along with other rape enablers like Oprah Winfrey). On the surface this seems an odd match, but the following passage from the Koran indicates exactly why feminists love Islam:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one superior to the other and because they spend to support them from their means. Therefore, righteous women are obedient and they guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard. And, as to those women from whom you fear disobedience, give them a warning, send them to separate beds, and beat them. (4:34)

Kidding, of course, but you can see the perversity of trying to re-brand Islam as a “feminist” religion—the retconning of the past, if you will, to suit contemporary ideological purposes. It should be painfully obvious that whatever tenuous claims Islam had to women’s lib in the seventh century is far outweighed by the subjugation, humiliation, and violence that women have suffered under its yoke every day since.

The role of critical theory’s application within, and increasingly outside the academy, cannot be understated here. Said application affords the feminist-critic a “justification” for mapping neo-feminism on to an ideology that is diametrically opposed to classically liberal precepts of equality. Let’s look at one of a number of sub-sets of critical theory, New Historicism, and work through it in a literary context so you can see what I mean, then we can extrapolate outward. Marjorie Levinson’s Wordsworth’s Great Period Poems: Four Essays introduced the idea that William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” for example, was not only a pastoral poem about the Wye River Valley and Tintern Abbey, but a political poem about the region’s economic tensions and the plight of its vagrants and exploited workers. She argues that the poem is a construct (an “artful assembly”) of selective landscape, that due to the conditions of the times, Wordsworth’s poem could be read as one of exclusion—certain aspects of the landscape have been erased and that what is most important about the poem is what we are not seeing presented to us.[1] Levinson argued that the other poem, the poem Wordsworth constructed through absence, couldn’t be totally grasped without considering the contexts and co-texts that surrounded the work’s creation; that what Wordsworth left out of the scene at Tintern Abbey was at least as important to what the poem was trying to say as what was actually presented on the page.

While this is an interesting perspective, you can see how there is a ton of leeway in the critical praxis of the project to build a critique of imperialism, repression, and gender- and race-based inequalities that may have only the most tenuous hold on reality. As Alan Liu sought to continue to open the poem up to what it “may be ‘about,’” he also explored “the displaced stance [Wordsworth] took toward political and social history when…he learned to digress into his own mind.”[2] To retreat into Wordsworth’s head is clearly impossible, and this is where the idea of “intentionality” thrown around by Leftists starts to break down; New Historicists believe you can interrogate his, or any, poem through several means, beginning with Liu’s “choice of three questions.” This activity is done to consider Wordsworth’s intentions and to begin to apply historicist principles as a means of interpretation of a text:

A choice of three questions confronts us with regard to this poem: can we ground “Tintern Abbey” in historical and political reference? Is it impossible to ground it in such reference (with the corollary that the effort to do so betrays the over-historicizing impulse of historicist readers themselves)? Or does the real issue transpose these two questions to a different level entirely, where it appears that it is the very undecidability of the poem with regard to historical reference that it is historically and politically grounded (in a way that opens an interpretive link between the undecidability of the poet’s engagement with history and our own post-modern anxiety of engagement)?[3]

These questions are designed to “liberate” the poem from the constraints of traditional analysis, suggesting a multitude of possibilities for the text. Nicholas Roe also makes the case for viewing “Tintern Abbey” as a political poem in his essay “The Politics of the Wye Valley: Re-Placing ‘Tintern Abbey.’” Through historical sources and evidence, Roe argues that Wordsworth consciously sterilized the landscape of the Wye River Valley in his poem, removing the traces of workers or aspects of the region that might prove to be “unsightly” to the aristocracy.[4] As Roe “decodes” the political leanings of Wordsworth, he sets about placing Wordsworth’s influences on “Tintern Abbey” in several categories: Wordsworth’s personal experience, correspondence, available literature, and speculative analysis. As New Historicism often engages with meaning through absence, there are apt to be often enormous speculative leaps taken. As an exercise, New Historicism continually pushes against “inert” modes of interpretation that persist in dominating “literary-creative discourse.” You can see here how activist judges and legislators immersed in years of Marxist re-education now have what they believe to be a critical basis for “teasing out” meaning from texts, hence the notion of the U.S. Constitution, for example, as a “living document.” For Rita Felski:

The literary object remains trapped in the conditions that preside over the moment of its birth, its meaning determined in relation to texts and objects of the same moment…phenomena are related only to phenomena in the same slice of time. We are inculcated, in the name of history, into a remarkably static model of meaning, where texts are corralled amidst long-gone contexts and obsolete intertexts, incarcerated in the past, with no hope of parole.[5]

Co-texts and contexts are indeed vital to the process, but it is also crucial to understand that the discipline involves other components such as, but not limited to, re-assessments of perceived notions and engagements with content through space and time; to, for Felski, “mess up the tidiness of our periodizing schemes, forcing us to acknowledge affinity and proximity alongside difference, to grapple with the coevalness and connectedness of past and present.”[6]

When we consider sources, events may move into focus, but New Historicism in this vein affords the opportunity to bend history to the means of the critical theorist, or to “find” embedded concepts or meanings implicitly within the text for the reader to uncover. This kind of work on the part of the reader, which is a kind of historical re-construction as seen in variations of the historicist method in Levinson, Roe, et al. is made possible through an application of historicism as a conscious act on the part of the reader or writer. The issue here as that it gives so much interpretive lee-way, and so little academic accountability, that the method of interpretation may well no longer be tethered to what we understand to be scholarship in any recognizable form. This “breach of protocol” is not unique to New Historicism, either, as critical theory’s various tentacles are all guilty of the same fundamental corruption we’re seeing permeate disciplines as far afield as law and psychology. This is a really serious problem.

Much like the Muslims in Europe and increasingly other parts of the West live in the “Upside-Down,” or what Theodore Dalrymple calls the “anti-society,” the production of these texts “in negative” represent a ghettoization of thought and effectively create “No-Go Zones” of inquiry that are a kind of intellectual anti-matter. Marjorie Levinson sees “Tintern Abbey” as a poem of absence—as do many New Historicists that have addressed the poem—and through her work, we are left with a kind of shadow poem, born of subtexts, contexts, and co-texts surrounding Wordsworth’s poem, not just limited to the author’s biography, reading habits, and so forth. This historicist re-creation of sorts is impossible to prove in the traditional sense that these ideas were intentional on Wordsworth’s part (pace Nicholas Roe); Levinson’s re-construction is done with critical diligence in the sense that her reasoning is supported through textual evidence (in part), but it is ultimately a creative exercise in the sense that she is making interpretive leaps and extracting subtexts that, ultimately, could be read as a poem in negative. The possibilities are limitless, and we must be cognizant of where the issues in this methodology may lie, especially when it is fused with a radical ideology and finds an imperative to “discover” particular meanings in the sub-text or “negative text.”

Continuing with the “Tintern Abbey” example, this multiplicity of meaning and interpretation enables Marjorie Levinson and her ilk to trace different threads from the poem and use their origin as evidence for a particular reading. Again, there is a very robust counter-argument to be made against “pure” New Historicism, and her concept is not particularly ground-breaking in and of itself, but the idea of crafting a poem out of absence is. Whether or not Wordsworth intended his poem to be a commentary on the political situation in 1790s Europe, evoking his radical past, will likely never be known, but the contextual argument for such a reading ascribes to this critical praxis. Per Nicholas Roe:

Wordsworth’s treatment of landscape in ‘Tintern Abbey’ was indebted to an allusive literary tradition, the Miltonic picturesque, which accommodated rather than overlooked human society and history. Various configurations of paradisal and post-lapsarian perspectives meant that the landscape of the Miltonic picturesque could remind readers of Paradise lost, of the fallen nature of the world, and simultaneously offer a millenarian prospect of Paradise regained. In this way Wordsworth’s vision in ‘Tintern Abbey’…presented eloquent if troubled reformulations of the ideals and commitments of former years.[7]

Authorial intention is often not as clear-cut as Roe makes it out to be, and for many other like-minded commentators, the political nature of “Tintern Abbey” is a reflection of the author’s subconscious played out in the poem’s subtext. Wordsworth would have been aware of the revolutions in France and the political upheaval across Europe in the 1790s even if he did not intentionally embed his poem with quiet evidence to suggest “Tintern Abbey” was an inherently political, not pastoral, poem, but there’s an awful lot of projection and arm-chair psychoanalysis going on there, far too much for me to feel comfortable with as a viable analysis. For Nicholas Roe and other academicians, the radicalism in “Tintern Abbey” may be explicit, but from the outside it looks more like the unchecked impulse of critical theorists to imbue even the most inoffensive and neutral of subjects and activities with political overtones, hence the genesis of a pastoral poem must suddenly be charged with revolutionary sentiments. That’s pure speculation, though. 



[1] Marjorie Levinson, Wordsworth's Great Period Poems: Four Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986).

[2] Alan Liu, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1989), p. 216.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Nicholas Roe, The Politics of Nature: William Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries, “The Politics of the Wye Valley: Re-Placing ‘Tintern Abbey’” (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Palgrave, 2002).

[5] Rita Felski, ‘“Context Stinks!”’, New Literary History 42 (2011), pp. 573-91, at pp. 576-78.

[6] Ibid, p. 579.

[7] Roe, Politics of Nature, p. 180.

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