Monday, December 29, 2008

Something to Consider when Drafting New Year's Resolutions

Andrew Osborn writes in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about Professor Igor Panarin, a Russian academic and former KGB man who we have cause to hope is not a modern-day Cassandra.

Professor Panarin is possessed of a theory that the United States ". . . will fall apart in 2010" (see map of our multi-sundered union via link to WSJ above). Why? Because, ". . . mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war . . ." Oh no! When does all this start? Next fall. Perhaps the professor has cable and has been exposed to Lou Dobbs and Fox News.

In truth, though, the professor has been pitching this idea since 1998. Recently he has been given the Obama treatment by Russian state media (which at least has the excuse of being state media). The popularity in Russia of the specter of American decline and the fact that the end is nigh combine to render the professor and his prediction presently conspicuous.

If 2009 passes without the rumblings of civil war, and if 2010 passes without the actual thing, then Professor Panarin will have some explaining to do. Perhaps in that event he can join together with Oral Roberts and those folks in the '70's who predicted a new ice age (some of whom, without acknowledging their past certitude, are now putting spoons to highchairs on behalf of melting ice caps) and begin charging rich folks money to predict the future movement of the stock market.

If, however, the professor is right, the United States will break up into six pieces. Alaska is a piece unto itself, and will be subsumed into Russia (this at least answers the questions about Palin's future in the Republican Party). A piece which the professor calls "Atlantic America" is to join the European Union and so make up something very much like Orwell's Oceania. Many folks in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and South Carolina, if told that Professor Panarin has predicted that " . . . Washington, D.C. and New York [City] . . . " will join the European Union, might ask the professor when he will get around to predicting the winner of the 2008 presidential contest. They will certainly be surprised to find out their states, as constituents of "Atlantic America," are following Sodom and Gomorrah into the European vortex.

The great north of our nation will be annexed by Canada. But here, if only most conspicuously, the professor's theory seems a stranger to reality. Brave and valiant in arms are the Canadians, but a northern state could repel a Canadian invasion by dispatching a local Boy Scout troop. And too we have in those parts an apparently endless supply of shack-dwelling and prodigiously-armed hermit loons, who will not take kindly to the invasion.

In early January of 2004, I was in Spain's capital of Madrid. My trip coincided with the annual Desfile de los Reyos Magos (a parade and party featuring the three wise men, or kings; apparently the Spanish exchange Christmas gifts, rather sensibly, on the date that the three wise men are believed to have arrived at the manger). The city had come to a standstill, and the people had crowded into the streets and the tapas and the Parque del Retiro. Passing by a side street bordering the Calle de Acala, I saw a mother standing passively by while her nino heroically relieved himself into the sewer by the sidewalk. At the time, I considered the scene a vignette that Hemmingway could have turned into something special; indicia of the visceral soul of the Spanish people or some such thing. But now, inspired by Professor Panarin, I see that what I saw was a harbinger of Spanish moral collapse and that nation's impending absorption into Andorra (bitter-sweet for the Basque region).

The image is an Advanced Spaceborn Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer of Madrid: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team


Ray Campbell said...

Devolution into fragments is rather more of a risk in Spain than it is here, I think. They haven't ever quite finished knitting together the constituent kingdoms that got put under one rule when Ferdinand and Isabel hooked up 500 plus years ago. The Catalans are still kind of bitter about all that.

As for the little boy, we lived across the street from the exit from an elementary school. When school let out, the moms would routinely line the little boys up for a go at watering our tree before heading home. It's pretty much standard operating procedure to have boys under the age of six have a go at it on the street when the urge hits. I think it's a kind of homage to Spain's rural past. On the other hand, the late night drunken peeing on the street by adults tended to be British tourists and American students more than Spaniards.

David Hutchinson said...

Suddenly it seems a miracle I escaped the country without being baptized in the stuff.

I wonder if the real estate person showed you the property at the off times, like they do in Chicago with the E-trains.

Ray Campbell said...

We never saw the place before we rented it. We were just delighted to find a house big enough in the city proper. Once we got there, the dog detritus on the street so overwhelmed the efforts of the little picadores that we never really thought much about it.

David Hutchinson said...

Ha! Good stuff.