January 30, 2006

Citizens from the Mud: The Subconscious Yearning for American Defeat

ROGER SIMON is on the money (again) with his summation of the American death wish that seems to operate on some subconscious level in much of the American media:

These days the media is referring to our adversaries in Iraq by the seemingly objective term "insurgents," a word Merriam-Webster OnLine defines as

1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party

Definition 2 does not seem to be relevant, but what about 1? Are the guerrillas in Iraq merely people revolting against civil authority or are they something more specific? According to virtually every report, they are Baathists and their sympathizers, Islamic fundamentalists and their sympathizers or paid thugs working for either or both of the foregoing two groups. So what are they all together? Quite simply they are fascists or at best fascist fellow travelers.

But the media never say the "F" word. They never write the "fascists" did this or that (as they certainly did in other wars). They persist in using the benign "insurgents." Why? I don't want to think that Noah Oppenheim is correct in writing that many in the media quite seriously don't want us to win, but tonight of all nights it seems more likely that could be so. As I type these words at ten p. m. PDT... maybe I missed something... maybe I didn't click far enough... but I see no reports of the large pro-democracy/anti-terror march of Iraqis in Baghdad today in tomorrow's New York Times or Washington Post or in the Los Angeles Times(at least on their websites). Or on the CNN site. Or on MSNBC.... Do you think for one moment that if thousands had been marching for Saddam... for the fascists... excuse me "insurgents"... it wouldn't have been front page news? I don't. What's going on?

One is tempted to say that "God only knows," but that's false. What's going on is a massive, subconscious desire on the part of thousands of our fellow Americans to ensure that America loses -- not only in Iraq, but in the wider First Terrorist War. But why?

The French have an idiomatic phrase nostalgie pour la boue which means, roughly, yearning for the mud. It's a compulsion

that comes over people when they have, for complex reasons, a need to immerse themselves in self-degradation. It's usually a mix of drink, drugs, and weird sex until the soul is obliterated by the abused flesh. Most people try this sort of thing a time or few in their youth, but soon grow out of it when time and experience get the upper hand. Others grow out of it via deep psychoanalysis and a few trips to the rehab clinic. Many, however, never kick it and were, in the past, thought of as "perverts" but are now more kindly seen as "differently minded."

A minority of the last group make a career of nostalgie pour la boue and are generally known as "celebrities."

There's a lot of cross-over of all kinds between celebrity culture and media culture. Indeed, at a lot of levels, it is becoming hard to tell them apart. Both live, for the most part, in an insulated bubble that is impervious to moral, psychological, or political change or exacts the penalty of expulsion from the bubble in the event of such change.

I'd like to suggest that there's another kind nostalgie going around in this hybrid culture:nostalgie pour la d�faite.

Nostalgie pour la d�faite is that state of the soul when an American, who either came of age in the Vietnam era, or who was taught and mentored by a leftist or liberal of that vintage, yearns for the defeat of America. This state is then seen as confirmation that his or her world view and social milieu is the right view and right milieu. To operate otherwise would throw not only all the professional views and actions of the last thirty years into question, but the entire structure of the afflicted personality as well.

An America that is ascendant rather than retiring, an America whose policies are aggressive and not apologetic, is an America they are simply unequipped to inhabit or report on. They have, quite frankly, an empty tool box when it comes to this task and no raw materials with which to build.

American media personalities and American celebrities with nostalgie pour la d�faite are derived from decades of beliefs in an America that is best as a "pitiful, helpless Giant." It is literally the only America they know and their entire professional and personal lives, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from the Hamptons to Beverly Hills are based on this grand assumption. They've had Presidents that, commuting to and from these locales, have confirmed it to them. Their coworkers in their jobs confirm it to them. Their significant others, drawn from the same ranks, confirm it to them. The parties they attend, the awards they give and receive, the places they vacation, the books they read and the films they make and see, all confirm it to them over and over again. It is not only the only America they know, it is the only America they can know.

Anything that confirms the nostalgie pour la d�faite is news they can use. Anything that does not, is not, by definition, news at all.

The result is not that they are "bad" Americans. They are simply Americans raised and trained to desire that, in all things, America should lose and become less of an important force in the world. The results of a weaker America do not concern them. It is only important that America remains weak and hamstrung.

What do they propose in its place? The short form for their vision of the future is "an empowered United Nations." At which point they step from nostalgie pour la d�faite into nostalgie pour la boue -- the yearning for the mud. In the final analysis, it isn't that big a step.
First published January, 2003

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Posted by Vanderleun at January 30, 2006 2:38 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I don't get this post. It contains no facts. Just assumption and hot air.

The rally you refer to is from Dec 10 2003 so maybe it's not a surprise that the NYT times doesn't cover it jan 30, 2006. No?

Posted by: Raw Data at January 30, 2006 4:32 AM

Naah. That may have been an old march, but there are other things going on in Iraq or Afghanistan that never got reported. For example, literally no mention in the MSM of any of the gallantry awards that have gone to members of the armed forces. Why? Because, if it actually got reported on, it would validate the deed, and we can't have that now, can we? Or any of the reconstruction accomplishments, like the reflooding of the Iraqi marshes, or road building in Afghanistan, or any of that.

None of that would support that general "everything sucks" meme that is the default stance of the media in general.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 30, 2006 5:18 AM

A fascist insurgency is still an insurgency. We can know with some certainty what they are doing just by watching. They are revolting. We can figure out what they believe only by interviewing them and listening to their spokespersons and reading their books.

They don't grant interviews, they don't have a spokesperson (or a spokesmodel) and they don't write much. We've intercepted a letter or two and I'm sure the US gov't has intercepted some stuff they aren't making public. But us humble citizens have a right to be cautious and humble regarding the analysis of their so-called psyche.

So calling them insurgents is no more letting them off the hook than calling somebody a 'Murderer' without describing the motive for the crime. As a practical matter, fascist killers don't kill you any deader than any other kind of killer. So it's all a bit moot.

If the leaders of the "Insurgency" were thought to have great ideas, a Ghandi or an Einstein, we would all be very curious about what they believe. But since we're pretty sure they've got their heads about as far up their butts as it is possible to go, we don't feel much of a need to study up on the matter.

Now Osama told us nice and clear what he believes when he was killing our fellow countrymen so there are some of us who went out and asked, "What the heck is this Islam anyway?". But that's about as far as it goes.

Like I said, a fascist insurgent is still an insurgent, and after we kill him it won't matter so much whether he was a fascist or a vegetarian. No offense intended toward the vegetarians, by the way.

Posted by: Warren at January 30, 2006 6:17 AM

Great post! Human nature is self destructive, always has been and always will be. Human nature wants a free lunch and there is no free lunch. That elitist group you refer to lives and abides by the LIE. The lie, the most loathsome of human traits.

Posted by: jeffersonranch at January 30, 2006 6:20 AM

The media are in a state of yearning for the mud by default - "If it don't bleed, it don't lead."

ALL journalism is yellow journalism.

Posted by: Michael Andreyakovich at January 30, 2006 9:39 AM

The self destructive trait of human kind is one trait that is difficult to break, yet somewhat easy to identify for those who have overcome it.

It is the rationalization of failure long before the battle is lost.

It is the excuse to quit when the going gets tough.

It is a lie, a cop-out, and the rallying cry of those who will never overcome their demons for fear of what new demons await them.

Posted by: ChatterBox at January 30, 2006 11:49 AM

One problem is that this explanation does not account for partisanship. That is, every trait you note comes out during a Republican administration, but in a Democrat administration the positions are reversed: an aggressive and strong America is good, and the economy is great, and so forth.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at January 31, 2006 8:20 AM

This is a nice post. Those French terms really capture something (I know it's unfashionable, but I love the French).

The way I remember it -- and I had a nihilistic, atheistic, self destructive, Leftist youth (didn't almost everyone of a certain age?) -- was that underneath it all was despair. Like the Steward of Gondor, the feeling is that hope is foolish, everything is going to fail anyway, so why not save unnecessary pain and hasten it along.

I get an echo of that feeling in much of the argument of the Left about Iraq. It's not that most of them *want* it be Vietnam, but that they are convinced that ultimately it *must* be Vietnam. Vietnam is the way things are, the precursor of all else to come. The decadent West must inevitably decline and fall, and accepting failure now gives us our only faint hope -- the chance to engineer a soft landing. The more we struggle to stay on the road, the worse it will be when the inevitable crash comes.

Needless to say, neither history nor logic support this argument, but I suddenly had a vivid recollection of the days when I knew in my heart that it was true.

I thank God I no longer feel that way...

Posted by: Kip Watson at January 31, 2006 2:04 PM
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