Houellebecq This

Illustration by Ricardo Martínez

Steven Hayward commented on PowerLine Saturday that about once in a generation Harpers publishes something worth reading. He is about correct.

That article, written by Michel Houellebecq, whom you may remember as the author of Submission a novel about the Muslim takeover of France, a frightening dystopic novel, that too many felt all too real and likely. Do read the full article In Harper’s, linked above.

In this article, he tells us why Trump is a good president, for us and for the world, while making just about everybody crazy. How fun! Yep, he does me as well.

In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”

On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

The United States of America is no longer the world’s leading power. It was for a long time, for almost the entire course of the twentieth century. It isn’t anymore.

It remains a major power, one among several.

This isn’t necessarily bad news for Americans.

It’s very good news for the rest of the world.

My response is a bit of an exaggeration. One has an ongoing obligation to take at least a modicum of interest in American political life. The United States is still the world’s leading military power and unfortunately has yet to break its habit of mounting interventions beyond its borders. I’m not a historian, and I don’t know much about ancient history—for example, I couldn’t say whether Kennedy or Johnson was more to blame for the dismal Vietnam affair—but I have the impression that it’s been a good long time since the United States last won a war, and that for at least fifty years its foreign military interventions, whether acknowledged or clandestine, have been nothing but a succession of disgraces culminating in failures.

See what I mean? The worst part is, he’s got a point, it’s not all that easy to argue with that view of the United States, is it. Here is why we are seeing the death of the Neocons, such as the Weekly Standard, that had the urge to spread ‘democracy’ all over the world, ready or not (mostly not, in fact), leading to trillions of dollars wasted, thousands of American casualties, and millions of civilians dead. What have we accomplished?

Trump is pursuing and amplifying the policy of disengagement initiated by Obama; this is very good news for the rest of the world.

The Americans are getting off our backs.

The Americans are letting us exist.

The Americans have stopped trying to spread democracy to the four corners of the globe. Besides, what democracy? Voting every four years to elect a head of state—is that democracy? In my view, there’s one country in the world (one country, not two) that enjoys partially democratic institutions, and that country isn’t the United States of America; it’s Switzerland. A country otherwise notable for its laudable policy of neutrality.

The Americans are no longer prepared to die for the freedom of the press. Besides, whatfreedom of the press? Ever since I was twelve years old, I’ve watched the range of opinions permissible in the press steadily shrinking (I write this shortly after a new hunting expedition has been launched in France against the notoriously anti-liberal writer Éric Zemmour).

The Americans are relying more and more on drones, which—if they knew how to use these weapons—could have allowed them to reduce the number of civilian casualties (but the fact is that Americans have always been incapable, practically since aviation began, of carrying out a proper bombing).

But what’s most remarkable about the new American policies is certainly the country’s position on trade, and there Trump has been like a healthy breath of fresh air; you’ve really done well to elect a president with origins in what is called “civil society.”

President Trump tears up treaties and trade agreements when he thinks it was wrong to sign them. He’s right about that; leaders must know how to use the cooling-off period and withdraw from bad deals.

You know, I find it difficult to disagree profoundly with him. Oh yes, my viewpoint as an American means my slant is different, but in many ways, he’s not far off my truth either. And yes, that is an indictment of the foreign policy that we have followed since the end of the Soviet Union. He ends the article with this.

Silicon Valley and, to a lesser degree, Hollywood will have to cope with the appearance of formidable competitors; but Silicon Valley, like Hollywood, will hang on to important sectors of the market.

China will scale back its overweening ambitions. This outcome will be the hardest to achieve, but in the end, China will limit its aspirations, and India will do the same. China has never been a global imperialist power, nor has India—unlike the United States, their military aims are local. Their economic aims, it’s true, are global. They have some economic revenge to take, they’re taking it at the moment, which is indeed a matter of some concern; Donald Trump is quite right to not let himself be pushed around. But in the end, their contentiousness will subside, their growth rate will subside.

All this will take place within one human lifetime.

You have to get used to the idea, worthy American people: in the final analysis, maybe Donald Trump will have been a necessary ordeal for you. And you’ll always be welcome as tourists.

And that’s not a bad outcome at all, in my mind.

About NEO
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66 Responses to Houellebecq This

  1. Nicholas says:

    Much that I agree with here, but, like you, my slant is different, my French ancestry notwithstanding. If I had been an American, I would have voted for Trump and would re-elect the President at the next round. I too dislike the neocon agenda and do not conflate democracy with constitutional government, for which I have The John Birch Society to thank.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scoop says:

    Yes, the interventionist agenda is rightly placed at the foot of LBJ who orchestrated a diversion from his own legal problems . . . which coincidentally were about to hit the press when JFK was conveniently killed. His orchestration was a cooperative effort with J Edgar Hoover. We’ve been operating that mode ever since. So yes, I would be more likely to back the more isolationist policies that Pat Buchanan once put forward in his bid for President. It seemed to be a throwback and departure from the nation we had become. It is now coming full circle again however after all of our failures. Maybe its time to take a breath and let Europe fight its own battles and let the Muslims kill one another and establish their regimes, since that is what is going to happen anyway. You can’t change a leopards spots simply because you want to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nicholas says:

      I agree with that analysis: you cannot win the propaganda war with intervention, so you should make the choice based on deeper principles. If you don’t intervene, the media show pictures of refugees and if you do they show pictures of refugees and call you “imperialist” – you can’t win. I hope the European Union will dissolve. The Mises Institute has an interesting article on Italy as the next cause of trouble for the EU.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Scoop says:

        I wouldn’t bet against them . . . Italy is a total mess.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Indeed. They have the right idea about sealing their border, but they have a problem regarding their finances and other matters.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Yes like their proclivity for socialism and Communism.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          When I was last in Italy on the train, the stations were covered with graffiti saying “communisti” / “fascisti”.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          That sounds about right.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          If I were the Italians, I’d pull out of the EU, including the Euro, restart a currency, reform the banking institutions, lower taxes, reduce state agencies and jobs, eliminate or drastically lower corporation tax, and circulate petitions calling for reform of the clergy as a war against the St Galen’s mafia.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Pretty deep-seated roots there which you would try to lay the axe to. Not sure that it is going to go away that easily.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Probably not – more likely the split after the death of BXVI: a new White Pope and Black Pope.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Could be. It may get worse before it gets better . . . which I think quite probable.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Me too – I think that is part of God refining us, reminding us of what our priorities should be, etc. This will be the making of true Christians.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Let us hope and pray that the winnowing comes and that it will not be too severe for the innocent.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          I think it will be like when the alcohol stings on a cut, but afterwards, when the sealing salve has been applied, you feel relieved and clean and ready to carry on. I believe God is going to “burn” us with the Spirit of Holiness, which will bring about repentance in all its sense: an awareness of truth, a confession of failure, an abandonment of wickedness, and a commitment to righteousness. Part of that holiness will also be the fire of zeal – we will become so desirous of God that we would prefer to destroy anything that is not of Him.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          I do hope that is the case but we are a hard hearted people . . . as were the Jews. It takes a real good bashing to get people to give up their evil ways.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          From Saint Teresa of Avila: “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.” This is the kind of zeal I pray will spread among the laity as well as the clergy. The kind of fire that brings a sort of anger as well as compassion and joy.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          One of my favorite passages from that great Saint when she was given the grace of deep contemplation in her prayer life. She recognized that even her small imperfections needed cleansing and that nothing other than the gift of God Himself was any longer desired. Her descriptions are extremely good since there is no words for that which she was trying desperately to convey.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          NEO and I are wondering if the South has any cakes/desserts made using molasses and rum (and ginger), along a similar palate as in the Caribbean?

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Ginger, Molasses Rumcake is a real item of course not to mention the various recipes for shoo-fly pie. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Wow, that shoo-fly pie looks amaaaaazing, sort out like our treacle pie. You’ve got me hungry again now. I must admit, I love traditional American cooking, the sort of stuff based on the fluid cuisine of the 18th and early 19th centuries before the UK and USA solidified their own separate styles. That’s why I like watching those Townsend videos on YouTube where he uses old American and English recipe books. I think he lives in Indiana.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Indeed America was not only a melting pot of cultures but a melting pot of cuisine. Much of it though is localized to specific areas of the country.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          I like exploring the history of different ethnicities in the USA and seeing that recorded in names of people and places. I hate the tendency in the world today to belittle and destroy the history of the Anglo peoples, as if we were not an ethnicity but just a culture that anyone can take a slice out of.

          Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          Anglos, which in this case means northern Europeans generally, are simply the best of the best, objectively.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Just finished the letter on Brexit Central. I liked it – it said basically what I’ve been thinking for two years: set our own terms, get cheaper stuff from other parts of the world, set up a Canada-style deal if necessary when we have the leverage to negotiate one, the FT and Beeb can take a long walk off a cliff…

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          I agree. It struck me as the most rational case I’ve read yet. And the Brussels Broadcasting Company is not fit for any purpose I know of.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          I’ve been saying for years that we should sell it off. They fund it by demanding a TV licence, so that you can’t even watch the non-BBC channels without paying. Ooh, it makes my blood boil. Cromwell, where are you?

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          It’s like our PBS. There was a point when it was enacted, but it went obsolete at least 40 years ago. Now it’s merely propaganda, and against most of the people. And the worst part is that its PC has made it unwatchable.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Indeed , look at the ratings for the new Dr Who.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Well, no surprise really. I tried to watch it. lasted less than 10 minutes. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Wish there were conservative TV show and movie studios.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yeah, we all do. But the old movies and some of the shows are available, that;ll do, for now, I guess.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          A lot of the old recipes were based on what they could get their hands on. Good stuff, though.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Oh Yum, I’d forgotten that one. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Scoop says:

          Sadly my diabetes doesn’t allow me to eat much of the goodies anymore. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Dad’s was when we all got out of the habit, my belt says I don’t need them either. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Scoop says:

          Yes, we’re sometimes best to just remember them rather than eat them.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, sometimes it is.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          I think you’re likely right but am afraid the Italians enjoy life too much for that program.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Remember that scene in “Catch 22” when the Italian guy is telling the Americans about how Italy just bends with the wind – kind of sums it up, doesn’t it. Well, this time tomorrow is coming – Europe is in for a nasty shock when the next recession hits, and it can’t be far away now. QE has basically run its course and there’s still loads of toxic debt hanging around.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, and we’re unlikely to keep subsidising Europe as we have since the forties, they’ve a very rough patch coming, another reason for you guys to get out, you’re pretty competitive with us, and could be more so..

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Indeed and that is how it should be. The UK should be free to control its borders, set what tariffs it feels are appropriate, and set up businesses to compete with those of other countries. If we wanted to, we could make plenty of fine products.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Scoop says:

          I sometimes wonder if that is where Bergoglio gets his ideas from since they left Italy for Argentina like all the other Fascists at the time . . . whether they were of the German or Italian ilk they all seemed to end up in Argentina which largely shared their views.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Could be – when my pastor was a missionary in Brazil, he saw a lot of German extraction people there too. I think the Amish and Mennonites had sizeable groups there – though I believe the Amish are actually Swiss German in origin, not Holy Roman Empire German.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Yes but after all that is where Sant Gallen is as well. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          Yep, they are Swiss German, Anabaptists mostly. Brazil is actually a good bit like the US in makeup, and maybe moving back towards us politically. Venezuela seems to have been a wake up call.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Yes, I’m hoping Brazil will see a genuine Lockean liberal and conservative Christian revival.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          This guy looks good, although flat out Lockean is going to far, I think.

          Like

        • NEO says:

          They screwed up big time when they joined the Euro, they;re not competitive enough with Germany to sustain it, nobody, except maybe Britain, in Europe is.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Completely agree – France has been living beyond its means for years, propped up by Germany. I remember when I lived in Europe before the Euro was introduced and every state had its own currency. The whole thing is madness – it messes with the laws of cause and effect.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, it does..

          Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        The EU’s problems are going to be, I think endless. There’s a reason so many of us refer to it as ‘The Fourth Reich’. Excellent letter from a British businessman on Brexit this morning over at Brexit Central today, BTW. Pure common sense.

        Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      And we now have breathing room since we are now a net exporter of energy – our needs in the ME are reduced to supporting Israel. Oil production, well it’s not really our problem, in real terms, it’s to our advantage for middle eastern oil to stay in the ground, as it is Russia’s. The time is approaching for us to disengage from a lot of things, for me continental Europe being one of them, Visegrad and Britain perhaps excepted, depending on their actions. MAGA, as they say.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    But, but, but, the polls are already YANGing my chain for 2020. 🙂
    “For the first time in Trump’s presidency, his safety net of a robust economy shows signs of unraveling,” said Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster with Hart Research Associates.

    Liked by 1 person

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