General Sir Charles James Napier, out adding to the Raj, came across a large bonfire and a wailing widow. He asked the natives to explain, and they told him that this was sati, a time-honored custom in which a man’s widow was burned alive on his corpse’s funeral pyre. To which Napier supposedly said,
Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.
We could learn a lot from Sir Charles.
“The self-determination of peoples,” as they called it back in Woodrow Wilson’s day, used to be a staple of Progressivism. Lenin may be roasting in Hell, but he was right about World War I: Imperialism caused it; specifically, the fact that the existing empires had no where left to imperialize. Take away the empires, smarter men than Lenin thought, and you’ll cut out a major source of conflict in the world. What reason does the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for example, have to exist? It’s an old-and-busted relic of an even older-and-busteder medieval relic, the Holy Roman Empire. Gavrilo Princip would’ve had no beef with Franz Ferdinand had the Bosnians had their own state. Woodrow Wilson agreed, and he signed off on the rape of Germany at Versailles in exchange for self-determination in places the rest of the Allies didn’t care about.*
“”””Progressives”””” don’t know their own history, of course, but even if they did, they’d be against self-determination these days, because self-determination accords with human nature and every good Proggie knows people are blank slates. The rest of us, though, should look long and hard, not at the world we want, but at the world we have. I was one of those fools who backed our latest imperial adventure in Iraq, on the grounds that
- somebody had to get slapped around for 9/1, and
- WMD, which Saddam did have, was as good an excuse as any, so
- Saddam volunteered.
I figured that “democracy” stuff was just eyewash, because W. was supposed to be a conservative, and conservatives know better.
Shows you what I know.
Iraqis, like most peoples most places, don’t want Western liberal (BIRM x2) democracy and have no idea what to do with it when it’s given to them. Much of the “alt-right” would say this is because they can’t do democracy, because HBD. Which is one of the many reasons I can’t get on board with too much of the “alt-right.” Until you show me a “representative government” chromosome somewhere in the human genome — and I will need a specific spot on the map, boys — I’ll reason as a historian, which tells me that the same forces which transformed blue-assed savages like Boudicca into Gen. Sir Charles James Napier in less than 1900 years are operative everywhere.
Note the time frame, please. I’m pretty sure “building democracy” can be done nearly anywhere; I’m almost as sure we’ll be under the domination of superintelligent apes by the time we can confirm the hypothesis.
Which leads us to now. What, exactly, are we going to do in this, year 2017 of the Common Era?
If I were President Trump, I’d find a few pet intellectuals that can’t be traced directly to me, and pay them to remind Proggies of their own history. Yeah yeah, Wilson was a horrible racist and of course they want his name off his School of Government at Princeton, but most Proggies still think of Woodrow as one of their saints. Eugene V. Debs liked self-determination too, I’m pretty sure, and you can probably put the Haymarket Square guys in that bucket, too. Not to mention Lenin and the rest of the Bolshies (self-determination was a steppingstone to communism, sure, but still). Jonah Goldberg, for example, would be good at this — on the record as anti-Trump; knows his Wilson; can obviously be bought. Get them thinking about the good ol’ days… then start self-determining for them, with that big beautiful wall.
*As opposed to, say, Palestine.