Character counts, whether we are talking about individuals or the characteristics which sum to form the base for a culture. Character is the organization of defenses, identifications, and drive derivatives that define a person's identity; these traits and their organization are highly stable over long periods of time and are rarely consciously ego-dystonic (ie, people and cultures do not recognize such characteristics as self defeating or troubling.) Character is the most difficult thing to change in an individual and changes only very slowly in a culture. One way to change character is to find or develop a new Ego Ideal which then can be used to alter longstanding characteristics. For example, an alcoholic, whose character has come to be dominated by his use of alcohol, can join Alcoholics Anonymous and exchange an Ego Ideal ("Life of the party", perhaps) for a new Ideal which includes Sobriety. A "Loser" can exchange a failed Ego Ideal (to become a world famous soccer star, for example) for a more realistically available Ego Ideal (as a Shaheed for Islam, for instance) and shed his old character which was so wanting in exchange for becoming an esteemed warrior in his community.
England is currently conducting the experiment to see if the character of the nation, forged over a thousand years, can be completely deformed in a single generation:
It is hard to overstate how much of a disaster for both Britain and the west is the British government’s decision – all but buried under yesterday’s Royal wedding media hysteria – to award an unspecified sum of compensation, estimated variously between £10 million and £30 million, to 16 former detainees of Guantánamo Bay to avoid running up a £50 million legal bill if their cases went to court, and to avoid the security service being forced to compromise its intelligence sources.
And what was the reason the British government faced this court case? Why, the ex-Guantanamo inmates claimed British complicity with torture. Not that the British committed torture, but that they were complicit with it. They claim that the UK fed information and questions to their interrogators, or gave information to the CIA so it could arrest British suspects overseas where they were tortured.
What was the torture to which they were subjected in Guantanamo and elsewhere? Well, there are a lot of claims but nothing, other than in three cases overall at Guantanamo, has ever been convincingly proved to be anything other than claims made by terrorist suspects. Those three were water-boarded.
In this case an idealized conception of Human Rights (equivalent to an individual's Ego Ideal), intolerant of anything less than a perfect application of the highest standards of legal jurisprudence, has replaced a more realistic set of standards that included, as part of the previously extant ideal, the protection of the English people and culture. In effect, the Human Rights Lobby has been hijacked by the Left to use as a weapon against Western Civilization.
The Left now argues in favor of such "liberating" cultural behavior as female genital mutilation and the treatment of women and children as chattel, a principle that the West abandoned long ago. Being forced to wear a Burka and Niqab is now understood as granting women real freedom, not the faux freedom of women in the West who only think they are free. In the United States a Left wing President and his courageous Attorney General have tried to bring their conception of Human Rights to the heart of New York but the results of the Ahmed Ghailani miscarriage has lead even the New York Times to understand that using the criminal justice system to punish Islamic terrorists may be problematic.
The character of the Left is nowhere better exemplified than in one of its most visible and prolific supporters. Bookworm does a wonderful job of getting to the essence of the evil at his core:
A lot of people have, through circumstances, been forced to do heinous things to survive. As a child, I certainly met my fair share, since I grew up in a world of Holocaust and Killing Field survivors. I knew people who worked dragging bodies out of the ovens; I knew people who sorted the teeth and hair removed from the dead bodies; I knew people who worked as slave labor in the factories, making weapons the Nazis used against the Allies; I knew Germans who survived Soviet concentration camps; and I knew people who survived the Killing Fields in ways that too terrible for them to describe. I would’t dream of judging them. I have no right to judge, and I have no will to judge them. When one is completely brutalized and intentionally de-humanized, one does things that would be unthinkable in ordinary circumstances.
What distinguishes all the people I knew, though, when compared to George Soros is the fact that they judged themselves. Without exception, each knew that, even though unwillingly, he or she had been complicit in deeply immoral acts, and each spent a lifetime seeking redemption. All of them worked hard and were exemplary citizens, whether that simply meant avoiding doing harm or whether it involved more active engagement in altruistic acts. Neither the absence of external judgment nor their own knowledge that they were responding to overwhelming external forces took that edge off. They suffered twice, first in the doing and then in the ever-lasting guilt. But it was the guilt that made them people of exceptional decency and humanity.
All of these stories, the ones I heard growing up, or the ones we read about in books such as The Road Out of Hell, have a clear message: even the most horrific youthful experiences need not destroy a conscience. Soros, however, seems to have no conscience whatsoever about his complicity with the Nazis. Unlike the people I knew growing up, who lived with and worked daily to expiate their guilt, when he looks back, he’s good with it all. When Soros was interviewed about his wartime experiences on 60 Minutes, he expressed no regret whatsoever (emphasis added):
KROFT: (Voiceover) And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
Mr. SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that’s when my character was made.
KROFT: In what way?
Mr. SOROS: That one should think ahead. One should understand and–and anticipate events and when–when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a–a very personal experience of evil.
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.
KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.
KROFT: I mean, that’s–that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Mr. SOROS: Not–not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t–you don’t see the connection. But it was–it created no–no problem at all.
KROFT: No feeling of guilt?
Mr. SOROS: No.
KROFT: For example that, ‘I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.’ None of that?
Mr. SOROS: Well, of course I c–I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was–well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets–that if I weren’t there–of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would–would–would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the–whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the–I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
The only real question one is left with after reading the above is whether Soros was always a sociopath, or whether the war made him one. As I said, I know people who went through worse than he did, and came out human. He didn’t. He came out a very intelligent animal, by which I mean that he lacks the moral compass that, to me, is the single most important distinction between humans and animals.
Please read her entire post; she includes an amazing story that I had never seen before, about a man who suffered and was complicit in terrible events as a child but became a "Good Man", a Mensch, when he escaped his prison. The contrast with Soros is almost palpable. I see people everyday who complain that their terrible backgrounds have left them in their current straits. Their history of criminality, abuse, and other social pathology were the result of the mistreatment they suffered; this is a false narrative, a rationalization. You can accept your poor treatment, eschew a moral compass, and perpetuate the evil, now as the active participant rather than the passive recipient, or you can exercise a moral choice and actively resolve to be and do better. If it is true that 30% of people who were abused as children become abusive adults, it is more true that 70% do not.
These are examples of failures of character in the West. What about the character of our enemies, the Death Eaters who seek nothing less than the destruction of our Civilization?
This post is already long enough; Part II will follow.