What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Whoah! "Spengler"...

...turns out to be an associate editor of First Things, a Bear Stearns & Bank of America alum...

...and (though he forbears to mention this) one-time co-author of a book with Lyndon Larouche!

If you can believe it.

Steve Sailer nailed him, dead on target, a couple of years ago, and here adds a few more choice words on the occasion of his self-outing.

Too funny.

Comments (28)

Did First Things do its research before it brought "Spengler" on board? That LaRouche connection doesn't inspire confidence in his judgment.

I don't know anything about LaRouche but we know Leszek Kolakowski was a good Communist and Paul a good Pharisee etc etc.

What does Michael Goldberg say now?

You know what they say "The heresies that men leave are hated most"

I am personally indebted to Mr Goldberg, the effect on me of his writing and demeanor on his blog have been really positive. I'd like to be assured that critics have a good grasp of the theo-politics he advances. Does anyone have a good reason to reject his writing? Or prior to this addition to First Things, to doubt Fr Neuhaus' and now Jody Bottum's judgment?

I'm open to learning knew things.

Like how to spell new.

I for one don't care where he comes from; his article in the May First Things on demographics and the economic crisis was a tour de force. Of all the commentators I've read--admittedly I'm not old enough to have read too many--I haven't yet come across anyone who could equal Spengler/Goldman in his ability to see the great themes behind the political and cultural topics of the moment. Next to Goldman, Steve Sailer appears as nothing but a crabbed and provincial statistician.

Mr. Sailer's snark is what I expect from the man, who thinks too much about good breeding and demonstrates it too little. But Mr. Burton's snark was a shock to me. David Goldman, though a Jew, is very much on the side of Christendom's disiecta membra--and as such, he is an ally of this website and any other that cherishes the achievements of the Christian West.

Did First Things do its research before it brought "Spengler" on board?

Forget Goldman's past, it is his present manifestation that is terrifying. His brand of political religion (or if you prefer; theo-politics)is a deceptive attempt to Romanize "Christian Zionism" by implying it has the Magisterium's seal of approval. To read him, one would think Benedict XVI is secretly pining for a war to the death with Islam and prays the Rosary while playing Risk.

Goldman is a provocative, entertaining Gnostic. Those so inclined, can look forward to thoughtful essays about incinerating Iran and why Gaza should be "cleansed". That First Things would hire this crackpot is sad, but not incredibly shocking.

Michael Goldman is a religious Jew. He warns Islam as sponsored by Middle East regimes not to play games with the inhabitants of Gaza, by using them as proxies in a Jihad or to prop up their Islamic bona fides back home. Nor should the Christian West forget the nature of Islam as understood and preached by the vast majority of its adherents. As for Iran - under anonymity he can use inflated language to forestall the horror that Ahmadinejad blithely says he welcomes. If you fail to see in Mr Goldman's writings the admiration for PBXVI's peacemaking and leadership then we know who is the crackpot.

Kevin April 18 you're a loudmouth mate.

Not only a loudmouth but doubly so.

I'm not in the habit of commenting here, and I didn't realize I was usurping someone's name. "Coemgen" is a half-hibernicized version of "Kevin"; that will work just as well.

(This is the Spenglerite Kevin, btw.)

The link in the main post to First Things doesn't work.

His name is David Goldman not Michael Goldberg, or Michael Goldberg not that such details seem important to you, Martin and his fanboy, Spenglerite Kevin.

Here is Goldman from 3 years ago. Notice anything genuinely Catholic in this typical Spengler prophecy of mass carnage and clever plea for a nuclear-armed spoiler? I didn't think so. No wonder the guy wrote under an alias.

"...the administration of US President George W Bush will exit with an economy weakened by higher oil prices and chaos on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere. But it really has no other options, except to let a nuclear-armed spoiler loose in the oil corridor. We have begun the third act of the tragedy that started on September 11, 2001, and I see no way to prevent it from proceeding."

Well its true I'm used to calling him Spengler. His name is David Goldman he has my apologies for that, it won't happen again 'Kevin'.

Of the thousands of lines he has written tell me what point it is you're trying to make? Tell us all your what it means to you to be Catholic and exactly where that quote does or does not fit in with your conception. Then I'll comment big guy.

Tell us all your what it means to you to be Catholic and exactly where that quote does or does not fit in with your conception.

"Perhaps what the Middle East requires in order to achieve a peace settlement is not less killing, but more.

That is horrifying, but nonetheless true, and the international community simply may have to raise its threshold of horror."

Is the state of contemporary Catechesis so bad that one doesn't instinctively know that the the fulfillment of Goldman's prophecies of the "inevitability" of annihilating innocent civilians is immoral?

Sheer common-sense holds that Shite Iran had nothing to do with 9-11, in fact her government offered us logistical cooperation against their regional foes in the Taliban and her people held candlelight vigils after the attacks. Yet somehow we're supposed to view a nuclear preemptive strike against Iran as the foreordained unfolding of some cosmic tragedy?

Look, First Things may have decided that appealing to the readers of Soldier of Fortune magazine is the best way to grow their own subscription base, but pro-lifers are going to experience real moral and intellectual dissonance, when they find Goldman's screeds alongside meditations on Christ's Seven Last Words from the Cross.

Can an editorial policy that schizoid really work?

prophecies of the "inevitability" of annihilating innocent civilians

I've known virtually nothing of Spengler or Goldman until now. Pretty much just heard the name. But I say that's a misrepresentation of the column. For one thing, he expressly speaks of civilian deaths as collateral damage, and that _can_ mean _real_ collateral damage, unintended deaths in war, which do occur, and which those who are not pacifists do not speak of as "annihilation." You can say that isn't really what he meant, but that's what he says. I encourage reading the column rather than Kevin's interpretation thereof.

William Luse - thanks! Corrected.

Kevin (non-Spenglerite Kevin, I mean) - I'm mostly with you, here, but please tone it down.

"...prophecies of the "inevitability" of annihilating innocent civilians...But I say that's a misrepresentation of the column. For one thing, he expressly speaks of civilian deaths as collateral damage..."

Two different Spengler-Goldman essays are being conflated here. Sorry for the confusion.

The first, which produced this Pilate-like gem; But it really has no other options, except to let a nuclear-armed spoiler loose in the oil corridor." Is found here;

Written on January 24 2006, he clearly considers a nuclear attack on innocent civilian lives an inevitable part of an unavoidable tragedy that mysteriously originated on 9-11. Such cold, calculating logic is a lot of things, but should prove jarring for those readers of First Things expecting an energetic advocacy of the culture of life and not Pilate-like rationalizations.

The second essay entitled More Killing, Please, does in fact use the term "collateral damage", which may, or may be of consolation to those souls who join that category every time one of Goldman's geopolitical moves come to pass.

Again, Martin sees the substance and tone of Goldman's essays as compatible with orthodox Christianity. Seems pretty obvious that he has either not read Spengler, or Catholic teaching. The two couldn't be in more direct opposition.

With respect to these matters, Spengler didn't say anything that different from what St. Augustine did, i.e., that history may create circumstances that call for war, and that, in war, people always get hurt. It is clear from his articles that Spengler was not bloodthirsty, but rather convinced that human history is often a tragedy in which no pleasant solution can be found.

Whether or not Spengler/Goldman holds an orthodox Catholic view (and as a Jew he has no a priori reason to), he'll have something to contribute to the long-running debate on just war theory on the pages of First Things.

And of course, I would do a disservice to Fr. Neuhaus's memory if I didn't point out that First Things is not a Catholic magazine, but is rather "ecumenically Christian and interreligious."

"Spengler didn't say anything that different from what St. Augustine did, i.e., that history may create circumstances that call for war..."

"History" doesn't create war. Men freely exercising their free-will do. Goldman's determinism is a convenient cover for his will to power.

Whether or not Spengler/Goldman holds an orthodox Catholic view (and as a Jew he has no a priori reason to), he'll have something to contribute to the long-running debate on just war theory...

Yes, as an opponent to the doctrine, an enthusiast for Total War and apostle of collective guilt; Americans need a higher threshold for horror. Tragedies sometimes must play themselves out, and the losers must be allowed to lose. Whole peoples can go bad, and sometimes it is necessary to prevent them from doing evil by winnowing their ranks.

First Things is not a Catholic magazine, but is rather "ecumenically Christian and interreligious."

Indeed. Again, my main objection stems from his attempt to layer his ideology with a Catholic gloss. His will be a clarifying presence for many readers and should cause some to wonder if ecumenism has its limits.

Kevin, in some quarters this magazine is seen as a den of crypto-pacifists, mostly for our deep skepticism of total war, but this line you have drawn attempting to ostracize a writer like Goldman is too much.

If every writer in the Western tradition were subjected to scrutiny according to your criterion, we'd have innumerable great ones thrown from the canon.

War is the lot of man; and Christ is Lord even over it. Soldiers have been saints and not ceased to be Christians; generals commanding armies in terrible wars have confessed Christ no less than peaceful peasants smashed apart in them.

Your response is baffling on many counts.

First, if the reputations of great writers requires tacit acceptance of Goldman’s realpolitik, then we should re-examine the value of their canon, question our priorities and aim higher in our aspirations.

The diabolical concept of Total War should elicit something stronger that merely “deep skepticism”.

“Sin is part of the human condition” is an all-purpose conversation stopper and your invoking the tired corollary; “war is the lot of man”, suggests you must be uncomfortable with your own position here.

Exposing Goldman’s agenda and engaging against his moral relativism is not the same as seeking his ostracism. We can hope his appearance on the masthead of First Things marks a spiritual turning point, and if not, will at least produce greater clarity for those who look to the magazine for sound moral reasoning.

The position I am uncomfortable with is the one urging me toward implacable hostility toward Goldman, a writer who though far from flawless has illuminated many subjects with his bold arguments.

What, according to you, is Goldman's agenda? I've been reading him regularly for years (though not nearly as much recently), and I would tentatively present his agenda as something along the lines of develop the beginnings of an understanding of our world in crisis that does not owe its whole framework to modern liberalism.

I read the other Goldman/Spengler column, too, and I read the so-called "Pilate-like statement" as referring to the Iraq war, not to the use of nukes on civilian populations. I don't understand why anyone would read it any other way. He does refer earlier in the column with some apparent approval and/or understanding to the French allusion to their nuclear capability, but what he says is pretty ambiguous. It certainly doesn't look to me like a definite endorsement of actually using nukes against civilian cities. After all, there is such a thing as bluff. Bluffing with nukes may well be wrong, but regarding it in some sort of generally positive light isn't the same thing as endorsing actually nuking Tehran.

What, according to you, is Goldman's agenda?

To make the world safe for a war of civilizations by raising our threshold for horror (a recurring theme)and assuaging our moral qualms by placing the carnage in the context of a pre-ordained tragedy. His effusive allusions to Pope Benedict, always fail to take B16'S stand on pre-emptive war seriously, which is part of the packaging. Keep us current though on his paens to General Sherman, and we won't tell your neighbors. Wow.

Lydia, please, he isn't bluffing when he says the only option is a nuclear attack on Iran? He's conditioning us for carnage like all good propagandists. For the past 3 years no one has bought Goldman's faux "more in sorrow than anger" case for a nuclear strike. May he remain outside the corridors of power and may you stop indulging in the kind of "ambiguous" parsing usually found at Planned Parenthood gatherings.


Did First Things do its research before it brought "Spengler" on board?

Are you really serious about this?

I mean, do you happen to know for a fact that Doug Keck himself just happened to have come from, of all places, Playboy?

Yet, Mother Angelica hired him not in spite of that fact but, on the contrary, because of it.

Given how Mr. Keck since then have not only proven to produce some greater good for EWTN, but the fact that it seems to have taken an entirely positive spin where his own Christian spirituality & Faith in Christ is concerned, I'd say that we should be more reserved in our particular judgments as far as such matters go since talents acquired from even the most likely of places may very well turn out for the positive, as seems to be the case here.


...from even the most unlikely of places...

Sorry A/C adapter literally caught on fire. Part of ‘Goldman’s agenda’ I’m sure.

In his essays Mr. Goldman:

-Consistently calls people to conversion to the God of the Bible who is love.

-Warns the developed world of the consequences of persisting in idolatry. US, Europe and Islamic world all included.

-Points readers to Pope Benedict XVI as perhaps the last best hope for Europe.

-Introduced me to Fr Neuhaus and First Things. (I travelled from Australia in large part to meet Fr Neuhaus and was so fortunate to meet him just before he died). Fr Neuhaus has been hugely influential in people's lives, and luckily thanks to Mr Goldman, in mine too. I've read testimonies from other readers thanking him for his important role in deepening their love of God.

Kevin, Fr Neuhaus and Jody Bottum would both have spent alot of time with him in New York, and have asked him to join First Things. This is the best testimony of all in my opinion.

I take Goldman literally when he talks about the need to extinguish hatred from our hearts and follow Jesus' self sacrficial love. And I take his presentation of the horror of war as a means of waking people up to what we might otherwise stumble headlong into if we forget God.

Your method of parsing 'Spengler' used on the Gospels would produce the conclusion Jesus was a war monger who came to bring a sword to make a literal war of hate on the family, and for good measure use the sword to amputate arms and pluck out eyes.

Kevin if you want to talk about hidden 'agendas' it seems to me Mr Cella has quickly sniffed a one out . . . We can hope that your appearance in here marks a spiritual turning point (!), and if not, will at least produce greater clarity (!) for you as you look for sound moral reasoning(!)

Goldman has carved out a niche as kind of a cooler version of James Burnham. His erudite declinism is supported by impressive demographic tables and a vague, eclectic mysticism. He prides himself on being able to lead his breathless fans to the abyss, only to pull them back with consoling words like these; the agony of dying nations rises in reproach to America's unheeding prosperity.

Throughout his writings one reads; Entire peoples can go bad. Best to cull their ranks than endure the violence their humiliation and destitution engender. That happens to be his assessment of the Middle East, which might explain his popularity in some circles. He stoically lays out a vision that liberates his readers from traditional moral restraints so they can better appreciate his clear-eyed forecasts for the benighted tribes that inhabit that region. Missile strikes coming up, with deepest regrets.

For those who waver, he can can easily remind them; War is our condition, our inescapable fate and all resistance is both futile and fatal. No one likes the gore, but time to get on with it and if it really bothers you, don't watch T.V. for a couple of weeks.

Goldman's selective praise for Benedict is well-known. So too, his great care in not allowing the author of Spe Salvi, to overly influence his geopolitical speculations. Let's see how long the balancing act continues on his new platform.

His erudite declinism is supported by impressive demographic tables and a vague, eclectic mysticism.

No by demographics, atheist and theist alike.

Europe has apostatised. There is nothing vague and mystical about not having the motivation to breed - it follows logically from its chosen world view.

You claim to see alot Kevin. Tell me what do you see when you read the Quran and Hadiths, the MEMRI website, the HAMAS charter and various rantings of Muslim Brotherhood and related entities? I'd be interested just for some proportion.

Now that Mr. Goldman is writing with full disclosure of his identity, background, and views, the fear that he is going to manipulate Catholics into believing that Christian Zionism is normative Catholic theology by saying a few nice things about the Pope is moot. As someone else has said on this thread, as a religious Jew he is under no obligation to support Catholic teaching on just war theory (and he is not a bloodthirsty goon, anyways), and the readership of First Things is sophisticated enough to evaluate his views objectively and make up their own minds about them without being hornswoggled by what his critics apparently see as his hypnotically beguiling rhetoric.

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