The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003


I started to read Steven Den Beste's latest missive and saw a capital J in the second paragraph. Like Ozzy Osbourne I wailed, "Oh, no, no, please God help me!" My worst fears were confirmed when the J was followed by an a - c - k - s - o -n: Den Beste had committed assault with a deadly essay on Jacksonianism.

At its best, Den Beste's infatuation with Jacksonianism reminds me of the old Life in Hell strip about college that displayed a crazed professor: "The nation that controls magnetism will control the universe!" At its worst it is like any belief in such quackery as numerology or astronomy. Den Beste's Jacksonianism shares two characteristics with other pseudoscientific theories: It explains everything, and it flatters the reader.

I winced when I saw the following on Susanna Corbett's blog last Thursday:


Stephen Den Beste has an excellent post (as usual) today about what he thinks France is up to with its opposition to the war in the face of all reason. He mentions Jacksonian politics in passing, and provides this link. I wasn't far into reading it when I had a moment of sudden recognition - this is me!


Of course it's you, Susanna -- a "Jacksonian" is anyone who isn't a self-loathing idiot.

Den Beste also attempts some ten-cent psychoanalysis of the WWII-era Japanese. Den Beste explains Japanese atrocities as stemming from the code of Bushido, which scorns surrender and demands absolute obedience to the emperor.

But the Bushido code cannot explain everything. I doubt that the emperor issued orders to rape and eviscerate the residents of Nanking. Also there are contradictions that need explaining: If the Japanese looked down on surrender as immoral, why would they feign surrender as a battle tactic. Having obtained the surrender of Western soldiers, why did they not encourage them to commit suicide -- as in an English novel where an offending military officer is pointedly left in a room with a revolver on a desk? And for a culture with no concept of surrender, the Japs certainly hopped to the idea of slave labor quickly.

How about an alternate theory: The Japanese were evil. They held human life in contempt, were viciously racist, and gloried in humiliation and abuse of the people they conquered. You don't need to be a Jacksonian to have trouble dealing with such people.

(Amusing footnote: Susanna continues after her moment of enlightenment: "I haven't finished reading it (it prints out to 27 pages) ...")


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