I’d been thinking I ought to post something about the massacre in Paris last weekend but without knowing quite what. Then today I realized that I had already posted on the subject, *before it even happened.* In On the Delicacy of Civilization, I distinguished in passing between crimes *within* a civilization and attacks upon it from without. Like market failure, crime is a vice and weakness of civilization. It may redound to civil death, but such deaths are endogenous, analogous therefore to kidney failure, cancer, or heart disease. In a sense, such deaths are processes of civilization.
An attack from without is more like … well, like an attack on a person, than it is like a disease. Diseases make attacks more likely, insofar as they are evident in outward weakness, as is usually the case with disease. But they don’t cause the attack; they rather only reduce its apparent cost to the attacker, thus inclining him more to attack.
As I pointed out in that post, any high civilization organized on the basis of a supposition that its denizens will not try to destroy it is quite vulnerable to sabotage at the hands of a fifth column of alien aggressors from another, antithetical civilization.
Among the galaxy of confusions evident in our leaders, the confusion between crime and attack is among the most important and often manifest. We hear always about “bringing terrorists to justice,” when justice ain’t in it. Such talk is confused, and confusing. One cannot but think that, the confusion being so very obtuse, it must be intentional, and tendentious.
Among all the things I might say about Paris, this only has not (so far as I know) been said already a thousand times: the attack in Paris. as being directed against the Power of the West, was directed *against the liberal order.* It is the liberal order that suffers from the attack. To the extent that it succeeded in jarring the liberal elite away from liberalism and toward a police state (Francois Hollande has already proposed some changes to the French Constitution), *it undermined liberalism.*
No doubt ISIS thinks of itself as fighting Christianity, and the West that crushed Islam from the Siege of Vienna onward. But it is not! It is fighting the vicious disease of the West that took root at World War I, and blossomed after World War II. Granted, to be sure, ISIS has damaged us. But only collaterally. Its main attack is aimed at the Establishment of the West, and that Establishment hates the West.
So, to the extent that Muslim terror sabotages the West, it is sabotaging that salient within the West that is interested to sabotage the West. One enemy of the West is at war with another.
Let a tyranny be established then. Let the Left establish its contradiction as its own apotheosis. Some sort of war for control of it shall soon break out. It will be a war of one sort of illiberal idea of order – that of what once was the Left, but has become merely tyrannical – against another – ours, presumably. In that contest, the last thing we’ll need to worry about is the Muslims. They’ll all have fled at our berserker rage, whom we have not already wiped out. No; as is usual when our dander is up, the illiberal men of the West will need to worry mostly about each other.
God send we of the True Right may remember that in this fight, as with our last Crusades, we fight (and ought to fight) not against each other, but against our common enemies.