Friday, October 31, 2014

The Elephant in the Room: The War Without a Name

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 1, 2014

As I watched the unfolding drama of an attack on the Canadian Parliament, I immediately suspected that the killer (or killers) were Muslims, probably converts. It took the rest of the day to confirm something that seems to make many in the press uncomfortable. The press, government officials (our own and other democratic leaders), academics, and the “spokesmen” for Islam (a religion that has no official leadership) tap-dance around trying to avoid the word "Muslim."   “These violent people are not real Muslims,” they claim, “and religion is not motivating their actions.”  How long will this elephant stand there before somebody notices?

The attackers themselves identify themselves not only as Muslims, but as the only “correct” Muslims. They claim that they do their killing in the name of Allah. A week before the Ottawa attack, another Muslim convert (Martin Couture-Rouleau) was shot and killed after he rammed his car into two Canadian soldiers. He had told a 911 operator before the attack that he was acting in the name of Allah. Of course, lone wolf actions are not up to the chaos of 9/11 or the siege of Mumbai a few years ago, but they raise an even more serious issue: public mistrust of their Muslim populations.  We cannot tip-toe around this. This mistrust sweeps up both good and bad Muslims.

The US has also seen a spate of lone wolf killings by Muslim converts. Alton Nolen beheaded a co-worker and attacked another after being fired. His own Facebook included a picture of a beheading, yet the crime was called "workplace  violence." A Seattle man, Ali Muhammad Brown, murdered four people in a killing spree, claiming that he was “living in the cause of Allah.” Yet neither of these monsters had been accused of terrorism.

It is estimated by experts that only five percent of Muslims around the world are jihadists or in sympathy with violent Islam. This does not sound like much until you realize that five percent of one billion Muslims (again, a guess) is 50 million people! And what about the other 95 percent?  How can we tell the good from the bad? Few of the followers of the “peace” part of the “Religion of Peace” dare to speak up, are not organized, and cannot dismiss the legitimacy of following the model of the Prophet's final ten years as a warlord.

Muslims migrate to the Western world because their lives in their native lands are impossible. They do not migrate to other Muslim countries, nor do their native countries welcome immigrants who are not MMuslim. Many do not adhere to Human Rights values on any level. Yet some children of these economic refugees either reject Western culture or insist on replacing it with Islamic rules and customs or, in some cases actually reverse the immigration by going back to Muslim lands to fight jihad, or with girls, to bear jihadi babies.

One more touchy issue is that of refugees. Secretary of State Kerry actually believes that the “Palestinian refugees” are the grievance that motivates ISIS and all the jihadis. Somebody here does not know how to count. Refugees and internally displaced persons in the Muslim world dwarf the number and conditions of Palestinian refugees, the one group still supported by the UN with money and goods. How about Afghanistan, with 648,147; Iraq with 1,800,000; Libya with 79,135; Pakistan with 2,363,993; Somalia with 1,135,416; ;Syria with 11,000,000; Yemen with 547,890; and a grand total of 17,574,581? [Middle East Forum, October 20, 2014.]

The Muslim world is coming apart, and we cannot ignore that Militant Islam has declared war on us and on their less militant co-religionists.

Western governments recognize that some living among us mean us harm. They are now trying to watch the poisonous chat rooms, watch who is traveling to Yemen, Syria, or Turkey to join the jihad and either stop them or jail them upon their return, and keep an eye on the not-so-innocent radicalization of mosques and prisons. Yes, we are sacrificing some of our civil liberties, but it is either that or more decapitations at home or abroad.

683 words
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or    

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Laina At the Movies

By Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 2014

The Equalizer
The latest Denzel Washington film, The Equalizer, is based on a long running TV series of the same name. The question asked is how can someone good equalize the more numerous and powerful forces of evil? I just remember the TV series dimly, but the film, while gratifying in its message, made we wonder if in reality a good person can trump organized evil.

The film begins with Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), seemingly an ordinary good man, is a department manager at a Home Depot-like store in Boston, much revered by his co-workers. He is a little out of the ordinary, however, in that he is obviously an educated man (reading through his late wife's 100 world's best books), and he is also someone who does not sleep much.  He leaves his solitary apartment at two in the morning to have tea and read at an all-night diner.

One night he befriends a very young hooker who is also at the diner but is summoned out by her pimp for a client she obviously fears.  When she winds up in the hospital after a savage beating, Washington departs from his solitary decent-man life and unknowingly takes on the local Russian mafia.

It has been interesting to see the Russians once more lighting up our screens as villains, and this mafia makes the Sicilian mafia look like a bad boy club. They are infiltrated into every enterprise: meat-packing, drugs, protection rackets, corrupting police and politicians, and ugliest of all, the trafficking of Slavic girls, some of them very young indeed. They keep all their enterprises in line through unimaginable violence carried out by the worst bunch of tattooed thugs imaginable. How can one person take on such a force and not only fight it, but dismantle it?

We then learn that McCall is a retired black ops government operative who could well be called not just a martial arts master, but a lethal weapon himself. Numbers of opponents do not deter him; within seconds, he uses speed and their own weapons to bring them down. He also gives some of these villains an opportunity to replace evil with good, as he does with two grafting cops who have been working at the Russian protection racket, forcing small businesses to pay them off.

He sometimes has success with American thugs, but never with the Russian ones who are so embedded in evil that they are entirely unrelenting (and who come to very gratifying ends).

The film ends with a suggestion that this will be a series.  Again, warnings for those who cannot stand bloody violence: avoid this. But for those who are gratified by someone being able to equalize and triumph over evil, this is a terrific film.

The Drop
This has been a week of film noir for me, this second one a little more difficult to love than The Equalizer, but it won me over. Besides being the last film to see James Gandolfini, who plays Cousin Marv, whose bar is now owned by local gangsters, it is a revelation to watch Tom Hardy, playing Marv's cousin, Bob Saginowski, whose seeming simplicity masks something more.

We have already met Russian gangsters in several movies this year, so it is no surprise to know that Russian Chechen thugs intimidate bars and shopkeepers in Brooklyn. A bar is assigned randomly to collect the payoff money each week where the money is “dropped” and then picked up in the middle of the night. This method prevents heists, unless, of course, an insider decides to steal from the Chechens (unwise).

Cousin Marv is bitter over the loss of his bar to the gangsters and is bent on a scam to rob them and leave for sunnier shores. His cousin Bob, a straight-arrow and gentle soul, is not told.

The plot is convoluted, but ultimately fascinating as is the burgeoning relationship between Bob and a young woman, Nadia (played by Noomi Rapace of Girl With the Dragon Tatoo), who is being stalked by her former boyfriend, said to have murdered another gangster.

Bob is not the idiot he seems to be; he is a new kind of anti-hero.

Gone Girl
This may be a marriage made in hell, but it is a really good thriller. The author's novel and screen writer propose that in marriage, both partners lie about who they really are while during the passion phase but then wake up to what may be horrible reality afterwards.  Jane Austin would have said: Marry in Haste, Regret in Leisure.

In a leafy Missouri suburb, a husband, Nick Dunn (Ben Affleck) returns from work to find the front door open, the living room furniture tumbled and broken, and his wife of five years Amy Elliot-Dunn (Rosamund Pike) gone.

We follow events with some flashbacks to their meeting in New York, their obvious lust for each other, and their happy marriage until the Recession kicks in and both lose their jobs.  When Dunn's mother becomes terminally ill, the couple move back to his home town in Missouri to help his twin sister take care of her.

There are immediate flashes of potential trouble from the beginning of this marriage: Dunn didn't know until their wedding that she was a wealthy woman (proceeds from her children's books based on her own “amazing” childhood). He was dazzled by her academic accomplishments and she by his obvious down-to-earth charm. Moving this successful city girl to small-town Middle America was going to have ramifications that neither of them would like.

The disappearance alerts police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) that this may well be a crime scene and evidence such as blood spatter begins to implicate Nick. The story goes viral and the usual TV viragos have a field day crucifying Nick even before his arrest. When a partially incinerated diary kept by the missing wife is found, we hear a version of their marriage experience from the missing Amy.

A famous defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who tries defending Nick in a TV panel winds up taking the case.

Amy, it seems, is not dead at all, but has disappeared leaving enough clues to implicate her husband in her supposed murder. We see this marriage from her viewpoint.

The ending of the movie is a dilly. A marriage saved or a nightmare begun?

The Judge

A hotshot defense attorney in New York, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his Midwest hometown for the funeral of his mother. While there, his estranged father, a relentlessly upright judge (Robert Duvall) is accused of murdering a bicycler and leaving the scene of the crime.

The problem is that Judge Parker appears to have both gone off the wagon upon the death of his wife, but also might have had a motive for killing this particular bicycler, a loathsome criminal whom the judge mistakenly released, who went on to worse crimes. The judge, however, cannot remember killing the man on his bicycle that night. A blackout?  Alcohol?  Something else?

It seems most of the critics recognized that these two giants of the cinema were worth seeing, but many considered the story too sentimental and clichéd. I cannot agree. They were worth seeing, and the ever-fascinating issue of justice was front and center in this film. This was a family drama and a legal drama, with a point.  I would recommend it.


As a woman, I have not had to serve in the military. But if I had, two branches of the service would have been particularly awful: the submarine service and tanks.  Both are claustrophobic and at least during World War II, foul and stinky.

The last movie I saw that featured tank warfare was Israeli-filmed entirely from within a tank during an Israeli war in Lebanon. The claustrophobia was particularly horrifying.

Fury is a story that takes place in April, 1945, just months before the collapse of the Nazis, but deadly nonetheless. Because the American and British air forces completely smashed Germany's once fearsome Luftwaffe, air war had lost its danger. But on the ground, the Nazis were not yet giving up; they had forced every male (and some females) from 14 to 60, willing or not, to go forth in the final defense against the allies. Those who refused were hanged publically to “encourage” the others. The allies went through town after town, with even children on display from the gallows.

This is a war movie reminiscent of some of the other wonderful WWII movies and the more recent one, Private Ryan, but is even more realistically bloody, up close and personal. It is also a story about leadership: Brad Pitt plays “Wardaddy,” a sergeant who commands a Sherman tank with a five-man crew, one of whom is a 19-year-old who has never seen combat before. The odds are terrible. His mission puts him a position where he is outmanned and outgunned. The German tanks are better. But character often matters more than just the odds.

The story is gripping, and I need not tell you any more of the plot, but just recommend it for a glimpse into a world that most of us would not otherwise know. And we should remember how different our world would have been had the other side won.

John Wick

Only in a thriller movie could any of us consider rooting for a hitman! In an unusual bit of casting, the generally nice Keanu Reeves played John Wick, a retired New York hitman who had fallen in love, married, and then lost his wife to an untimely illness. Inconsolable, he was surprised to receive a package that his wife had ordered for him before she died, an adorable beagle puppy “so that he would have something to love after her death.” And love it he did, until an unfortunate run-in with some young Russian thugs who demanded that he sell them his favorite classic racecar. His refusal infuriated the thugs who tracked him down, invaded his house, beat him, killed his puppy, and took the car keys and car.

The most obnoxious of the thugs was the son of the a powerful Russian crime boss, played by another unlikely choice, Michael Nyqvist, who was the hero of the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Nyqvist was thrilling as a nasty Russian villain and Keanu Reeves was suitably lethal as the best of the best hitmen, out to get revenge. Even better, the two men had a history-and both spoke Russian.

I cannot honestly say that this was an elevating movie, but it was strange, violent, and make believe guilty pleasure. If the violence were really depicted with realism, I would not have been there. But it was a gratifying revenge fantasy taking place in a very strange and alien world that does exist among us (criminal underworld culture), and with the most gratifying villains of today, the Russian criminal world. They are so much smarter than the thugs of ISIS! I am sure Mr. Putin is creating more of them for us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Andrew Targowski - The Limits of Civilization

The Limits of Civilization

any colleagues or libraries having an interest in the field, they can apply a special 20% discount on all prepublication orders as well. If they would like to take advantage of this offer, please have them email Tricia Worthington at and enter Special20 in the subject line of the email.

Authors: Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University)
Book Description:

This book has been inspired by Dennis Meadows's (et al.) The Limits to Growth, published 41 years ago, in 1972. It forewarned the general public about the exhaustion of strategic resources of the planet as known at that time, unless economic and population expansions were halted.
This resulted in the world becoming aware of the crisis of civilization. Measures were taken to reduce the consumption of the strategic resources, including the promotion of recycling resources used. Efforts were made internationally to introduce the practice of climate and environmental protection, to little avail.

The present book has a wider scope of analysis and synthesis, and even gloomier conclusions than those found in the two pioneering books.

This author has arrived at the following conclusions:

• The plight of civilization is doomed by the sun expiring within 4.5 billion years. It is also determined by the exhaustion of the known and the potential resources of the small planet Earth around the year 5,000. The future of civilization (considered in the time frame imaginable to man) is swayed by its current crisis, which results from the Triangle of Civilization Death (the combination of the “bombs” of population, ecology and depletion of strategic resources), which will be felt around 2050.
• The future of civilization is dependent on its capability of entering the phase of Wise and Universal Civilization in the years to come. This is conditioned upon the abandonment of the known socio-political and economic systems: capitalism, socialism, communism and their hybrids. These systems are based on the constant growth of population and the economy, which is unsustainable any longer.
• Democratic Ecologism ought to be the new system, securing a wise and sustainable functioning of civilization; it would prioritize the ecosystem in the choices made by man and societies. What must be observed, too, is tolerance based on Spirituality 2.0. It is based on the Decalogue of Complementary Values derived from the main religions 1.0, which the world is now practicing.

Is it possible to introduce these solutions to practical life? This is up to people becoming wiser. Alas, so far people do not even know what wisdom is since wisdom is not taught at school or college. And without wisdom, no civilization stands any chance of success in the universe of systemic chaos. (Imprint: Nova)

Prof. Dr. Andrew Targowski
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, USA
President Emeritus of International Society for
the Comparative Study of Civilizations

Evy Johanne Haland - Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective.

a new book that might be of interest to Civilitas subscribers (and especially for the theme of the next ISCSC-conference):

Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, see

All the best,
Evy Johanne Håland

See also:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reception of Macro-History in Sweden


Research Paper No. 1996


Bertil Haggman



Center for Research on Geopolitics (CRG), SWEDEN.
Director: Mr. Bertil Haggman, LL.M., author. E-mail:


My personal view was that macro-historian Oswald Spengler did not have a very positive response in Sweden if any. This was partly based on the fact that his great work The Decline of the West was not translated into Swedish until 1996.

Now at last we know better. James Cavallie, author and former with the Swedish National Archive, has documented the Spengler reception in Sweden in a very detailed book, Spengler i Sverige – Den svenska reception av Oswald Spenglers teser om världshistorien och Västerlandets undergång (Spengler in Sweden – The Swedish Reception of Oswald Spengler’s Theories on World History and the Decline of the West), Stockholm: Hjalmarson & Hoegberg, 2009, 304 pages). Cavallie has extended his presentation to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and it covers the period from the 1920s to the present day. The author shows that a large number of leading Swedish cultural personalities have published about the German macro-historian. He has even had some influence on Swedish fictional works and on Swedish architectural theory.

Another recently published book by Per Landin, an author and liberal journalist also partly deals with Spengler in Dietrich Eckharts onda oega – essaeer (The Evil Eye of Dietrich Eckhart – Essays), Stockholm, Atlantis, 2009, 228 pages. In typical liberal fashion he assures the readers that conservatism presently is looked upon as reactionary. Maybe so in Landin’s own liberal circles in Sweden. In the new book Landin deals with several conservatives in what in Gerany is labelled as “revolutionary conservatives” in the Weimar Republic. Spengler was of course never a part of  “revolutionary conservatism”. He was a pessimistic individualist and Landin’s view of Spengler is not only negative. The author admits that it is hard to classify the German macro-historian. There is a certain connection to Nazism, according to Landin (although he does not go deeper than that. Spengler does not belong to any political ideology.

Spengler's Baltic Journey

It had been a hectic year for Oswald Spengler. In February 1924 he had published "Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend" and in May "Neubau des Deutschen Reiches". In the beginning of October he lectured at the Orientalist Conference in Munich. Then also in October he published "Altasien" and "Nietzsche und sein Jahrhundert", a lecture at the Nietzsche Archive at the 80th birthday of the philosopher. These were only a few of his activities that year. Already before Spengler’s visit to Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia in 1924 there had been a number of reviews of his work The Decline of the West.

When he undertook the Baltic journey he probably wanted to continue to Russia but was prevented from that by erupting violence there.

The notes underneath are from Spengler's own hand on cards preserved at the Spengler Archive now at the Bavarian State Library from a visit of mine in Munich. The English translation from German is mine.

" 27.10.1924

Early Berlin



10.29 in the evening arrival after an enjoyable see journey.


Lecture: [d.] The Origin of the Great Cultures. (Academic Society) "German-Swedish Academic Union." Introduction by Professor E.A. Kock.


Lecture: The History of Language in the History of the Development of Human Life (?) (Philosophical Society)

In connection discussion: Nilsson, (?), Larsson, Ljungdahl, (?).



Postcard to me via Halle and Berlin (?)
Lectures in Lund.



Lecture at the "Aesthetic Society" with the couple Cornell (?), Dr. Stavenow and Dr. Mannheimer.

Photographed (newspaper).


Back at the end of November.


Interview with Svenska Dagbladet.


Lecture on peoples, spaces and languages.

In the evening with Sundwalls ?

Newspaper of 10.11.1924



Arrived in the evening from Aabo. Rommen. Gave interview.



Lecture "How the Great Cultures Originated".


Received postcard.

On 15th crossing to Reval.

Lecture at the Finnish-German Society about the Fate of the Cultures of Antiquity. Afterwards



Last lecture: Races, Peoples, Languages in the Great Hall of the university


Reval. Car journey into "the interior of the country"


"Tomorrow Riga"



Received Postcard.


Trotzki is deposed


Communist coup in Reval, Estonia. General Laidoner given martial law powers. Executions. 17 Dec. new cabinet.




In February-March 1925  Spengler travelled to Italy.

My research in the list of names of the Spengler Archive has produced indications that Spengler exchanged letters with a few Scandinavians:

Knut Hamsun

Sven Hedin

Martin Persson Nilsson

Johann Sundwall

Cavallie describes Spengler’s Swedish and Finnish lecture tour in great detail and points out that the Baltic tour was the last lecture tour of the German macro-historian outside Germany. Later tours to Argentina and Spain were cancelled.

In a short concluding remark Cavallie points to Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington (who recently passed away) as possible modern successors of Spengler and Arnold Toynbee (who is also treated in a fair way in “Spengler in Sweden”. Fukuyama claimed that the questions had been solved with the collapse of the Soviet empire and the free enterprise had been victorious. There were no greater problems in the world unsolved. What Cavallie does not say is that Fukuyama could well be correct. The present onslaught on the West by islamofascism could well be a rearguard fight of reaction and autocratic extremists in the Arab world. If the creation of market economies in Afghanistan and Iraq are successful they could well be further steps of global liberty and democracy. In the long run American policies between 2009 and 2012 could just be a short term pause in the dominating ongoing American that started with Wilsonianism after the First World War.

On Huntington Cavallie is equally careful in his remarks. He notes that  Huntington believed that after the collapse of the Soviet tyranny there will be new tensions and conflicts this time between the seven or eight civilizations described by the American professor. The somewhat pessimistic view of Huntington was that the influence of the West will decline. Perhaps those views makes for a Spengler Redivivus in America. Unfortunately we will not be provided with more visionary views from the American Spengler. He passed away at 81 in December 2008.  Huntington was of course correct when he wrote about the coming new phase of world history. The question is if the future clash between America and China will be a clash between two civilizations. There is much evidence today that there is a separate American civilization that in many respects has surpassed European civilization. The coming clash will more likely be between American civilization as the hegemon of the West against a communist regime in Peking that desperately clings to power and uses nationalism as a tool. The conflict has already begun to heat up. In March 2009 China called for a new global currency to replace the dollar. In late March 2009 a new Chinese book, Unhappy China, singled out the United States for special scorn and called for Chinese strengthening of reliance on technology and innovation as well as bolstering the military.

Moeller van den Bruck and Macro-history

The works on the Weimar Era German conservative Moeller van den Bruck (1876 - 1925) have generally taken little notice of his interest in the philosophy of history. He did not believe in the decline of the West and thought it necessary to refute Oswald Spengler in his historical-philosophical works. It was important, he believed, to popularize a "metaphysics of reality", which implied synthesis of the main traditions of western philosophy. Van den Bruck was a nationalist and therefore primarily saw the different peoples as the agents of history.

Landin in his Dietrich Eckart’s Evil Eye devotes an essay to van den Bruck but concentrates on the Weimar author’s creation of the term The Third Reich, which appropriated by the Nazis. They later, however, found out that the author in no way represented Nazi views on history. Already in 1922 he had taken a stand against Hitler. The Nazis took their time to discover the real van den Bruck. As late as 1933 he was still described as the Prophet of the Third Reich. After a few months, however, Bruck’s books on Russia were forbidden and confiscated.

In Das Recht der jungen Völker (1919) van den Bruck established a new outline of history. It was not only a struggle between young and old peoples. There was also a spiral movement without end. Van den Bruck based his new model on older ones. A source was Geschichte der Farbenlehre by Goethe, who also claimed that there was a spiral development in world history. But the most important influence was that of the German historian Kurt Breysig.

The rotation of world history resulted in geopolitical changes. Van den Bruck's model also provided indications of migration of history northwards, which gave it a spatial, geopolitical essence. Later, however, van den Bruck expressed the belief of migration toward the east (in which he differed from a general myth of history that civilization had from Babylon migrated in a westerly direction, eventually to America). But the view of the easterly direction had taken root among 'conservative revolutionaries' in Germany after World War I. It was a pretty common understanding among them that after the Russian revolution the center of gravity of world history would be placed in the European east. In the coming decades development would be based on what was happening in the western part of this area (Germany was after World War I still a country to a great extent based on its eastern territories: Pommerania, Brandenburg, Silesia and East Prussia).

The rotation had gained speed and the south had already joined the west as periphery. The change was turning into revolution. In the pessimistic climate of Weimar Germany  it was important to the conservatives to instill confidence in the future. Thus Germans and Russians were described as "young peoples" of the future. The Germans had a great will to life. This would be important in the coming era of the world revolution. Overpopulation was working to the advantage of Germany and would strengthen her during the 20th century. The decline of the West was not Germany's decline. The future was determined by the "young peoples" which were throwing off their shackles. Thus the Germans were described in reality to be in the same category as the colonial peoples.


It has been claimed that Oswald Spengler’s great macro-historical work, The Decline of the West  caused a stir similar to that caused by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The great men were about the same age when rising to fame (Spengler was born 1880 and Einstein 1879). Both stood for changes of the way the world was viewed. Spengler’s book in Germany has been published in more than a quarter million copies and is widely translated.

Spengler in his great work did not set out to describe the death of Western culture. Instead the work is Spengler’s views on the end phase of our culture (rising around the year 1000 AD) as it turns into civilization. Neither is it a prophecy of the death of mankind. Man will live on without the West. What was shocking for the readers in 1918, most of them believing that the 19th and 20th centuries represented the height of development, was that someone could describe the West as being in a final phase.

Dr. John Farrenkopf, an American scholar, has recently provided the academic community and all interested in Spengler’s work with Prophet of Decline: Spengler on World Politics and History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001, 304 pages). After the attacks of Muslim terrorists of al Quaeda on the United States on September 11, 2001, this book is of increasing value, although the manuscript was completed and the book published before the attacks. Muslim terrorist actions and views are a threat to the present state system and ultimately the West.

Spengler is timely in 2009, both internationally and in Sweden, and especially Cavallie has provided a fine overview of the legacy of Spengler in the one Scandinavian country that has treated him seriously.