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Jan 29 2006

The Dark Age is the New Enlightenment, Part 1

There can no longer be any doubt that we’re all on languishing on the edge of a Dark-Age-calibre penumbra of politics and philosophy and art and dog-breeding and salad greens. Because I am an ass—which is to say I’m an average human—I’ve been in denial about the advent of this Dark Age, even as 9/11 turned the American president into a half-witted toxic avenger and intellectuals into reviled villains and French fries into “freedom fries.” Then came Enron and Schiavo and Alito and Abramoff and “America’s Top Model.” I winced, but looked the other way. But as of this morning three more globs of incontrovertible evidence had beached themselves on the craggy rocks at Twisty Point, and suddenly I can’t ignore the Dark Age no more. It’s here, and it’s severe.

Evidence such as:

NPR says that the European Union, in the wake of recent interesting Palestinian parliamentary developments, is shitting several bricks over the “islamification” of the Middle East. It’s sinking in that democratically-elected governments can be even worse than the despotic regimes they replace, and that no christian honky European democracy is immune. How hilarious will it be when France gets islamified, and Parisiennes who don’t want acid thrown on’em have to wear Chanel burkas?

What’s creepy is that Hamas isn’t philosophically all that different from the Bush administration, in terms of both godbaggery and terrorosity. Godbags-in-chief manipulate their peasantry to accept oppression by rewarding unenlightened fundamentalism and punishing iconoclasm. Bush, Hamas, what’s the diff? Godbags are godbags. It’s only a matter of degree. The US oppresses and maims and kills more people in a day than Hamas has even dreamed of oppressing and maiming and killing.

Then I read in the Daily Mail that Britain has undergone a “moral awakening” resulting in a desperate nationwide desire to make abortions harder to get. This attitude, which derives from the venerable godbag concept of punishing sluts, is indicative of the misogynist sensation that’s sweepin’ my own nation. A successful Dark Age demands state control of uteruses.

Then I heard a snippet of some radio show Ray Suarez is doing on intelligent design. Seriously discussing it, as though intelligent design is anything other than 15th century psuedo-science! Quoth some redneck mother (not to be confused with our Redneck Mother) “As long as they teach my kids that God created man and we didn’t evolve from no apes I don’t care!”

[Note: Because my copy editor is taking a cruise on the QE2, and I can't tell the difference between the "draft" and "publish" buttons, this post appeared earlier in a slightly different form. Sorry for any confusion.]

36 comments

  1. Mandos

    Thing is that you can’t take Hamas out of the context of the Mideast crisis, and in that, for all their other faults, they’re substantively different from W. The fears about Europe being Islamified are also connected to W—have you ever tried reading Little Green Footballs? Ugh.

    The despots are what precisely leads to voting in theocracies once the despots are toppled. In the Middle East, often the only venue for expression is religion and the only opposing political organization are the religious. Because they’re hard to cow, among other reasons, and they’re so deeply ingrained into the country’s cultural life that the despots can hardly begin to uproot them. If you want democracy in the Mideast, you have to be prepared for decades of theocracy, and putting it off just makes it worse. There aren’t very many exceptions to this.

    The transition between the political rant and the conversation is practically Fafnirian. Good job. I’m having trouble connecting it to a dark age, though.

  2. The Fat Lady Sings

    One of the best pieces you’ve written, Twisty. I too had a grim smile when I heard Hamas had been ‘democratically’ elected. After all of Bush’s pontificating on the relative holiness of elections in general – the election from hell happens; and he and his attendant coterie have been left with their thumbs up their asses. I listened to a representative of that new Palestinian government being interviewed this morning; and he made it crystal clear they have no intention of dealing with either Israel or the U.S. Bye-bye peace accord. So Bush’s demagoguery has come back to haunt him – and everybody (mostly women and children) will end up paying through every fuckable orifice in their body.

    I also have been really knocked back by the wave of fundamentalism sweeping the world. Gore Vidal wrote a wonderful article about it, pointing out what happens historically to any nation who begins to rely on religion as opposed to logic or science. He’s very general, and doesn’t speak to the specificity as you do. But it will all boil down to women being considered ‘chattel’ and belonging to whatever men lay claim to them. What I really don’t get is the plethora of females in this world willing to cede ownership of their bodies over to someone of the opposite gender merely because they harbor both X & Y chromosomes. And these women seem perfectly willing to hand over the rest of us without so much as a by your leave.

    Anyway – great writing. Hope your feeling OK this weekend. I read your treatise on bland food. Hopefully all that will disappear when the chemo does. Take care.

  3. Ankhet

    “But it will all boil down to women being considered ‘chattel’…”

    In this view, all the world is ‘chattel’ to be used and exploited
    “…by whatever men lay claim to them.”

    “What I really don’t get is the plethora of females in this world willing to cede ownership of their bodies over to someone of the opposite gender…”

    Some WWII memoirs I’ve read offer a possible answer: The woman offers herself to the meanest and biggest rapist in the gang of marauders so that she (and any children she may have) won’t repeatedly fall victim to all the others. The transaction offers some predictbility, and actually, some degree of safety in a climate of rapine and pillage. Then, she can Sheherezade him occasionally (manipulate him, distract him, get him too drunk to perform)and get some peace…and some food&shelter.

    “And these women seem perfectly willing to hand over the rest of us without so much as a by your leave.”

    This strategy merely conforms with the standard expectations, peace or war-time. They’re just trying to survive. We women need to look to other strategies, or this patriarchy-crap will never go away. This, unfortunately, is where we’re headed right now.

    Wow – these comments so fit with the lead article of the day, which perfectly mirrors my own mind-frame at this point!

  4. Hattie

    “She’s a sweet little thing,” he said. “Sexy.”

    Another pause.

    “I like her.”

    He didn’t say, “This is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

  5. Frumious B.

    “What’s creepy is that Hamas isn’t philosophically all that different from the Bush administration”

    Or from the Israeli government.

  6. Twisty

    Or from the Israeli government.

    No shit. I was reading somewhere about how all the Hamas guys are survivors of Israeli assassination attempts. There was one story about Netanyahu ordering the poisoning of some guy, and he was near death when some Israeli doctor came through with the antidote in the eleventh hour. It’s just nuts.

  7. purps

    “the European Union … is shitting several bricks over the “islamification” of the Middle East”

    It is? And we are?

    As a Brit from multicultural city (about a quarter of the people in my classes are Muslim, and I help out in schools where white students are a definite minority), I’m failing to see the link between despots, violent attacks, terrorism… and Islam.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t Muslims who are terrorists and responsible for the vilest crimes, but for every Muslim who could be described as such I could show you Christians, Hindus, Jews and atheists responsible for identical crimes.

  8. Djax

    “Bush, Hamas, what’s the diff? ”

    Do you have any theories as to why you are unable to distinguish between the two?

  9. Les

    Yes, right here in France, there are ever-present signs of creeping islamofascisim! For instance, Islamacists leaders have had consistently high showings in national elections. Already, Arabs and Muslims have disproportionate access to avenues of power, to the point where the “Native” French have difficulty getting hired in all but low wage jobs.

    Um, also, somebody set fire to the mailbox on my street in November.

    Is this another “joke?” Cuz I’m really sick of right wing Americans telling me about the creeping brown peril in France. My brother is afraid to come visit me because he thinks white guys in Paris are in danger of racist attack.

    Once again, it may be shocking for people to learn that disempowered minority is not, in fact, oppressing the majority.

    The riots in November were entirely secular, centering around racism rather than religious issues. The local pols have it all figured out. Rap music is inciting people.

    Anyway, secularism is strongly embraced by the French. I’ve seen hundreds of people marching on the 100th anniversary of the separation of church and sate – in favor of it. The “danger” of islam taking over France is a paranoid right wing fantasy in which the scary brown people personify all that is evil.

    - Humorless feminist, staying up too late before going to see a socialized dentist in the morning.

  10. Amanda Marcotte

    All the more reason to enact the Amanda Gun Control Law, which I feel is the only sensible approach to gun control. Ban men from owning guns; require women to own them. Not only will it stop the patriarchy, we could reverse the trend of anti-intellectualism that exists mostly because stupidity and religiosity are also tools of patriarchal control.

  11. Cass

    Twisty, you’re far too despairing. Four decades ago, about the time of my birth, TIME magazine posited the question on their cover “Is God Dead?”, and people speculated that churhgoers would dwindle to a small minority by the year 2000. Those predictions turned out to be premature, unfortunately, but its entirely possible our dark ruminations are just as far off the mark today. Its also worth remembering that according to every study, “social conservatives” in America are demographically concentrated in the geriatric set… as they die off, we’ll be increasingly rid of their compulsive noisemaking. So please everyone, don’t turn on the gas just yet.

  12. Mandos

    Aww. The most entertaining part of this post is missing.

  13. Violet Socks

    Yeah, I still want to know who Twisty’s friend is marrying.

  14. Twisty

    Quoth purps in #7 “I’m not saying that there aren’t Muslims who are terrorists and responsible for the vilest crimes, but for every Muslim who could be described as such I could show you Christians, Hindus, Jews and atheists responsible for identical crimes.”

    Which is precisely my point.

  15. Twisty

    Quoth Djax in #8:

    ” ‘Bush, Hamas, what’s the diff?’

    Do you have any theories as to why you are unable to distinguish between the two?”

    Why as a matter of fact, I do! They both, as do all theocratic oligarchical terrorist commercopolies, adhere to the same guiding principle. it’s a little thing I like to call “patriarchy.” Any differences between any patriarchal institutions are purely cosmetic.

  16. scout

    The evidence of a forced return to The Dark Ages is pouring in:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060130/ap_on_he_me/aids_prevention

  17. Twisty

    Mandos, you’ll be shocked to know that I agree with you! Because I don’t think your remarks preclude my larger point.

  18. Simon

    Despite the best efforts of the “Daily Mail” I still think that the majority of Britons are pro-choice (at least I sincerely hope so). This rag has been pouring out stories about the evils of abortion, gun control and immigration (and other standard horror stories) for as long as I can remember. It’s like they want the GOP running the UK – as long as the GOP respects the Queen!

  19. Simon

    This reminds me of a little toy called the Daily-Mail-O-Matic http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/

    It’s a Daily Mail random headline generator. Some of the names may be more relevant to UK readers but US readers will get the idea I’m sure.

  20. RCinProv

    It was a bit confusing, that “draft” versus the “published” version.

    The draft rocked, by the way. I’m glad I saw it.

  21. Laura

    I am loving the Daily Mail headline generator. Thank you for bringing that into my life. And re abortion, they only surveyed 1700 people, which is hardly definitive. And they only got 47% to support a reduction in the time limit, despite much hooha from tabloids etc about entirely mythical ‘medical advances.’

    Thank god the Conservatives have gone back to being creepy nutjobs though. Their brief period of reasonableness was starting to freak me out.

  22. Bombadee

    Let’s play a game called “Dark Age or Digital Age”

    1. Domestic rule is oblivious to blight of the poor resulting in famine, disease and natural disaster claiming countless lives.
    2. Oppression of women’s rights occurs in the name of saving their immortal souls
    3. Criminals are punished by death
    4. Torture is an accepted method to coerce a confession
    5. One accusation by a reputable plaintiff can land you in a torturous situation without legal representation
    6. The general population is fascinated with the patrician class and follows every petite breakup with a fervor
    7. Science is denounced as heretics and religion moves to the forefront
    8. Leaders tout ‘divine right’ to their position

    All winners will come to the conclusion there really are no winners

    from my post http://bombadee.blogspot.com/2006/01/dark-age-or-digital-age.html

  23. peacebug0717

    huitzil has a brilliant essay on this topic from saturday: “republicans and memes.”

    read it.

  24. peacebug

    huitzil has a brilliant essay on this topic from saturday, titled “republicans and memes.”

    I heard suarez’ bit on intelligent design and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. NPR probably justified this as simply reporting on a controversy. but I think they’re running scared and we shouldn’t be surprised to hear more like this coming from that once-reliable news source.

    having run off bob edwards and installed wingnut fundies as ombudsman and chair the salad days of NPR may be gone.

  25. Djax

    “Any differences between any patriarchal institutions are purely cosmetic.”

    So you shrug your shoulders at the difference between Sharia and more liberal forms of government? It’s all the same patriarchal theocratic oligarchical terrorist commercopolies ?

    Your theory of patriarchy is blind to human rights.

  26. Twisty

    Patriarchy is not a “theory.” It is social policy.

  27. Kathy

    Atheists? We’re one of the only groups that DOESN’T preach patriarchy. I’m interested in the list of atheists you’ve got up your sleeve whose atheism is an integral part of the belief system that spawns all those equally violent crimes against wimmin.

  28. Djac

    So when I asked whether you had a theory as to why you couldn’t tell the difference between Bush and Hamas and you answered:

    “Why as a matter of fact, I do! .. it’s a little thing I like to call “patriarchy” “,

    you really didn’t have a theory as to why you can’t tell the difference between two.

    I do.

  29. Donna

    And patriarchy is blind to human rights.

  30. BritGirlSF

    It has often occurred to me that the American godbag dislike of Iran is rather amusing given that most of them would probably rather enjoy living there. Well, the men would anyway, and we all know that they don’t really give a shit how the women feel about it.
    There is rather an “end of days” feeling going around lately, isn’t there? It’s getting more depressing by the minute. The “E” network alone is surely sign of irreversable cultural decline.

  31. sapphic_beats

    Quoth some redneck mother (not to be confused with our Redneck Mother) “As long as they teach my kids that God created man and we didn’t evolve from no apes I don’t care!”

    Evidently double negatives are a key indicator of “intelligent” design.
    What brilliant engineering.
    I’ll take the Flying Spaghetti Monster anyday…

  32. Crys T

    Simon, THANK YOU for posting the link for the headline generator! Hilariously, yet frighteningly, most of the ones that popped up when I was playing with it looked plausible, given what I’ve seen of the Mail in the 7 years I’ve lived in the UK.

    For those in other countries, in all honesty these next two are not so far from what is actually printed:

    “Will the Germans Lead Your Mortgage Astray?”

    “Could Gypsies Infect Farmers With AIDS?”

    And a couple of the most satirically accurate:

    “Does the EU Hurt the Memory of Diana?”

    “Will the French Scrounge Off Cliff Richard?”

    And, lastly, the one that is actually on all Mail readers’ mind:

    “Will Lesbians Rob British Justice Blind?”

  33. Twisty

    Quoth Djac in #28 ” So when I asked whether you had a theory as to why you couldn’t tell the difference between Bush and Hamas and you answered:

    “Why as a matter of fact, I do! .. it’s a little thing I like to call “patriarchy” “,

    you really didn’t have a theory as to why you can’t tell the difference between two.

    I do.”

    In my haste I was unclear. I can in fact tell the difference between Hamas and the Bush administration. My “theory” as to why their differences are only cosmetic is that both regimes are implementations of the same ideology. That ideology is patriarchy, the existence of which is not a matter open to debate on this blog.

  34. M

    I do wish people would stop dissing the ‘Dark Ages’. I mean, the age where, on the cusp of Christianising-Godbagism certain women were actually quite powerful (St Hild of Whitby comes to mind). ‘Evidence-based religion’ was practiced – ‘This God person you’re going on about – can he win us this battle?’. Patriarchy certainly; levels of ignorance, yes. But particularly worse than lots of other pre-modern periods? No.

    And ignore the Daily Mail. They work on the principle of ‘say something often enough and it will become true’. If same thing appears in a less crazy right-leaning paper (like The Times) feel free to worry.

    “The ideal Daily Mail story leaves the reader hating somebody or something”.
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmpubadm/274/4032505.htm

    Good grief there are a lot of quotation marks in there.

  35. Twisty

    I am not espousing the ethical impeccability of the Daily Mail. I merely allude to the article as a symptom of the rampant anti-enlightenment ideology currently ravaging the countryside.

    But I don’t understand why, if you are a fan of dark ages, aren’t also a fan of the Daily Mail, wihch publication seems to urgently advocate them.

  36. M

    Ah, Twisty, while the Daily Mail might advocate a return to the Dark Ages they couldn’t hack the real thing. Show them even a tiny band of blood-soaked Anglo-Saxons who are out for vengeance, bloodfeud and the occasional Grendel and they’d wet their knickers and run away.

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