06 January 2010

Bret Stephens' Awesomeness Is Showing, Again

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am an admirer of Bret Stephens, WSJ columnist extraordinaire. While his column is a weekly must-read, sometimes it rises to a level even better than that. Such is the case with this one--Our Incompetent Civilization.
But a civilization becomes incompetent not only when it fails to learn the lessons of its past, but also when it becomes crippled by them. Modern Germany, to pick an example, has learned from its Nazi past to eschew chauvinism and militarism. So far, so good. But today's Multikulti Germany, with its negative birth rate, bloated welfare state and pacifist and ecological obsessions is a dismal rejoinder to its own history. It is conceivable that within a century Germans may actually loathe themselves out of existence.


We can be proud of how deeply we mourn the losses of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a nation that mourns too deeply ultimately becomes incapable of conducting a war of any description, whether for honor, interest or survival. We rightly care about the environment. But our neurotic obsession with carbon betrays an inability to distinguish between pollution and the stuff of life itself. We are a country of standards and laws. Yet we are moving perilously in the direction of abolishing notions of discretion and judgment.
I know exactly how ridiculous this will read even before I write it, but, well, here goes: I'm watching Season 7 of 24 with my old man and sister and have been very impressed with some of the dialogue. Yes, much of it is overwrought and over-the-top. But--but--the bits where both sides of the life vs liberty debate air their respective arguments, the parts where the nature and use of "torture" is raised, these bits are very good and for the most part, fair to both sides.

If you've read me for long at all, you will know that I sympathize with the group that thinks that civil liberties aren't worth much if you're dead*.

*My actual position is slightly more nuanced than that.

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