One of the basic defects of the Bush administration's designation of a "war on terror" was that it emphasized symptoms (bombs and bombers) over causes (the underlying ideology). In the war of ideas, the West has chosen not to compete, under the erroneous assumption that the ever more refined delivery systems for its sensual distractions are a Big Idea in and of themselves. They're not. If you know your Tocqueville, they sound awfully like his prediction of a world in which "an innumerable crowd of like and equal men ...revolve on themselves without repose," a phrase which nicely distills the unending busyness of our gaudy novelties.
Don't get me wrong; I like goofy pet photos. But can these gizmos do anything else? Yes, in theory. But, in practice, is a culture that "revolves on itself without repose" likely to be that effective at communicating real ideas to the wider world? Ideas on liberty, free speech, property rights, women's rights and all the other things conspicuous by their absence in the philosophies of Egypt's new political class. In the end, a revolution cannot be Tweeted. Whatever their defects, the unlovely forces running the new Egypt understand the difference between actually mutilating a young girl's genitals to deny her the possibility of sexual pleasure, and merely "following" your local clitoridectomist on his Twitter feed.Meanwhile over in Quebec, the young'uns are fighting another "revolution." That one, too, tends to shun ideas on liberty and free speech, but is drunk on stuff like "fairness," "equality" and "social justice" and fueled by hard-leftist organizations and union bosses. But make no mistake--that "revolution" is every bit as dangerous as the Islamist one--and is happening now, in our own backyard. (One could say of anarcho-thugs the Black Bloc that they understand the difference between shattering shop windows and other private property in an orgy of destruction, and merely "following" the "protests" on their Twitter feed.)