Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Lost election, EU Eloi and Iwo Jima

One recalls that Kerry was touted as a European at heart, and more recently that Obama could have been elected as the leader of the EU had he chosen to live there, but, I want to console my Democratic brethren: the EU ideals are probably flawed.

In Decline and Fall, Europe's Slow-Motion Suicide, Bruce Thornton compares European ideals with those of the Eloi: ". . . enthusiastic descriptions of EUtopia remind one of H.G. Wells's Eloi, the 'very beautiful and graceful creatures' whom the Time Traveler from Wells's 1895 novel The Time Machine encounters in his visit to the year 802,701 A.D. The delicate, youthful, vegetarian Eloi live in a seeming paradise, a garden world without work or conflict or government: 'They spent all their time in playing gently, in bathing in the river, in making love in a half-playful fashion, in eating fruit and sleeping.'

"At first glance, the Eloi appear to be the culmination of human evolution beyond primitivism and deprivation, a cheering vision of human progress and our destined utopia of pleasure and leisure. But on closer inspection, certain features are troubling. The Eloi are tiny, only four feet tall, soft and hairless, 'indescribably frail,' like a 'beautiful kind of consumptive.' They have the intellectual level of a five-year old and are 'indolent and easily fatigued.' Worse, they are hedonistic narcissists, casually watching one of their fellows drown without interrupting their play. The Time Traveler realizes that rather than the culmination of human evolution, the Eloi represent the devolution of the human race, now 'decayed to a mere beautiful futility.'

"This realization is sharpened to horror when the Time Traveler learns of the Morlocks, 'bleached obscene, nocturnal Things' that live underground in anti-like collectives and feed on the effete Eloi like 'fatted cattle.' . . . ."

While I am a great admirer of almost anything Japanese, I don't admire what they had made of themselves as we entered World War II. They can be compared to the Morlocks to a large degree: [The following is from page 339 of Manchester's Goodbye Darkness] "The defenders' CO, Tadamichi Kuribayashi -- Holland Smith called him Hirohito's 'most redoubtable' commander -- had been among the first to conclude the banzai charges, once so effective in Japan's earlier wars with Russia and China, were futile against American firepower. Tokyo had warned him that he could expect no reinforcements. He replied that he didn't need them; the air attacks on Iwo had tipped off the coming invasion, and transports had beefed up his garrison to twenty-one thousand men, led by Japanese Marines. Kuribayashi turned his men into supermoles, excavating the hard konhake rock. They built 750 major defense installations sheltering guns, and blockhouses with five-foot concrete walls, strengthened, in some instances, with fifty feet of earthen cover overhead. Under Suribachi alone lay a four-story galley and a hospital cave. Southward from the volcano lay interweaving iron belts of defense. Altogether there were thirteen thousand yards of tunnels and five thousand cave entrances and pillboxes -- a thousand on Suribachi alone."


Pause for a moment and recall the glowing descriptions of European utopia by Jeremy Rifkin: A "'bold new experiment in living' has arisen in Europe, and . . . Europeans are 'leading the way into the new era.' This 'European Dream' . . . 'emphasizes community relationships over individual autonomy, cultural diversity over assimilation, quality of life over the accumulation of wealth, sustainable development over unlimited material growth, deep play over unrelenting toil, universal human rights and the rights of nature over property rights, and global cooperation over the unilateral exercise of power."

Imagine groups of these EU Eloi watching the Marines on D-Day on Iwo Jima: "The moment they hit the shore they were in trouble. The steep-pitched beach sucked hundreds of men seaward in its backwash. Mines blew up Sherman tanks. Infantrymen found it impossible to dig foxholes in the powdery volcanic ash; the sides kept caving in. The invaders were taking heavy mortar and artillery fire. Steel sleeted down on them like the lash of a desert storm. By dusk 2,420 of the 30,000 men in the beachhead were dead or wounded. The perimeter was only four thousand yards long, seven hundred yards deep in the north and a thousand yards in the south. It resembled Dore's illustrations of the Inferno. Essential cargo -- ammo, rations, water -- was piled up in sprawling chaos. And gore, flesh, and bones were lying all about. The deaths on Iwo were extraordinarily violent. There seemed to be no clean wounds; just fragments of corpses. It reminded one battalion medical officer of a Bellevue dissecting room. Often the only way to distinguish between Japanese and Marine dead was by the legs; Marines wore canvas leggings and the Nips khaki puttees. Otherwise identification was completely impossible. You tripped over strings of viscera fifteen feet long, over bodies which had been cut in half at the waist. Legs and arms, and heads bearing only necks, lay fifty feet from the closest torsos. As night fell the beachhead reeked with the stench of burning flesh. . . ."

After that, it got worse. "The price of the little island had been 25,851 Marines, including 19 battalion commanders. Battle casualties in the rifle regiments had come to 60 percent in the Third Marine division and 75 percent in the Fourth and Fifth divisions. But they had done the job. On March 4 the first crippled B-29 had wobbled into a crash landing on Airfield No. 1. Three weeks later, with the battle still rain in the northern pockets of the isle, Superfortresses began regular runs from Iwo's three fields to Tokyo. Before V-J Day, 2,251 B-29s, carrying 24,761 crewmen, had made successful landings on Iwo's airstrips. One Air Corps pilot who made three of them told a Time reporter: 'Whenever I land on this island, I thank God and the men who fought for it.'"

The Eloi, like Jeremy Rifkin and the EUtopian advocates, would have been horrified to watch the Marines on Iwo Jima. Surely, they would tell themselves, there would be some way to reason with those Japanese. History tells us that there wasn't. The Eloi wouldn't even have tried. They would much rather be eaten.

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