Is that lint in my navel or antisemitism?


From: holderlin66
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:00 pm
Subject: Is that lint in my navel or antisemitism?

"We are all historians now. We have joined the ranks of those who sort out the political, economic and social causes that lie behind great turning-points.

The causes are helpful little things, ever ready to fill that mental space when bafflement threatens. There's the long-term, or structural, cause - the movement, say, of the landmass which created the Russian plains, whose stubborn geography thwarted Napoleon's ambition. Then there's the medium-term cause, which is often the story of an institution in trouble: the finances of the English crown, for example, had been in a mess for decades before the breakdown of 1642. And then there's the trigger, the cynic's favorite. The trigger is a short-term specialist, the one who pops up and claims that history is random. Had Cleopatra's nose been shorter, wrote Pascal, the history of the world would have been different. Antony's loins would not have stirred. The triumvirate would have hung together, and the Roman republic would not have collapsed into civil war. Arguably.

The hunt for the cause is more like Lewis Carroll's hunt after the delusive Snark than a search for truth. It's a tribute to the practical impotence of history, its necessary status as a limping servant always turning up after things have happened. For the cause only emerges as a candidate on the identity parade after the deed has arrived. Whether we deal with the history of the climate in Mesopotamia, which created the marshes of the south, with the history of the American presidency in the 20th century, or the fate of that one hanging chad which turned out to really matter - the fact is that none of these long, medium and short-term events could be seen to be a cause before the deed.

All causes are mental inventions imposed on the past. They are ways in which historians negotiate their way through the labyrinth. But who, after all, ever saw, felt or smelt a causal connection? The thing is as imaginary as, say, stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

WMD was a highly original kind of historical cause. It was advertised as a cause of something which was going to happen. Which should have been a pointer to the fact of its bogus status. The war was going to break out in any event, given the nature of the Bush presidency. And so it was only a matter of finding the appropriate causal mechanism. Bush-Blair simply jumped the gun and invented a new doctrine of pre-emptive historical causation to justify their action.

Causes, after all, can slip into being pretexts with the greatest of ease. From Bismarck to Hitler, German politics had its agenda of Lebensraum as a cause of aggression, the need to burst out of the territorial straitjacket. And there were, admittedly, more Germans per square meter than, say, the underbreeding French. But what turned that into an effective pretext was the reality of Hitler's expansionist aims to the east. It is just one of the many ways in which Hitler was a very conventional German geopolitician.

Bush-Blair in 2003 - like Hitler in 1941 - took a gamble. The ex- corporal did so with the weather. The president and the prime minister did so on the basis of intelligence systems offering claims that stockpiles would be found, as well as the hope that the cause would oblige by becoming a fact. Except that, to B-B's embarrassment, they haven't, and so it didn't.

With that herd-like propensity to graze together, British journalism shows every sign of moving in uniform retreat behind the lines drawn in the sand. Once it was all "Hutton good", and then it was all "Hutton bad". Valiant knight of truth becomes snake-in-grass.

Now, after ritualistic outrage, there's a furtive consumption of humble pie. Investigative journalists, like some historians, pride themselves on hunting for a cause, that hidden but still-smoking gun. Having been chastised, they fall silent. But all three phases of the response are mistaken, and all for the same reason. The presence of WMDs and sexed-up material was irrelevant as a cause for the war. Equally, their absence is irrelevant as a cause of opposition to the war. The Iraqi conflict offers a tougher mental call, not the discovery of causes but the unraveling of reasons."

Bradford comments;

Anyone wanna bet on the influence of Michael and Ahriman and the failed capacity of High Germanic Thought?


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