A New Science-Fiction Movie Explores What Happens When the Future Goes to War with the Past

The philosopher Leo Strauss, in one of his most significant essays on Judaism, contrasts the modern West’s understanding of progress with the Jewish aspiration for t’shuvah, or return (often imprecisely rendered as repentance). While one view sees perfection in an imagined future, the other hopes for a return to the past. It is an extreme version of the former view, perhaps, that was at work when rioters in Portland, Oregon destroyed statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Reviewing Christopher Nolan’s new time-travel film Tenet, Michael Weingrad is put in mind of that event, which occurred just a few days after he saw the film, and not far from his own home:

“The future is trying to kill us,” explains one of the characters. Nolan leaves the precise details vague; there is a gesture at the environmental damage we in the present are said to be causing. But the point is that our descendants have found us wanting and have decided to solve the problem by destroying us, their past.

In other words, Nolan gives us the metaphysics of much of the left, dramatized with explosions and spy gear. It is part of the progressive faith that the future is always better and more moral. Why, then, should the future not try to kill us, we who were inconsiderate enough to be born in the past, and who always seem to hold back the better world just around the corner?

So how do you fight the future? To some extent, you can’t. Yet Nolan gives us heroes who do not give in to historical determinism. They do not confuse their position on a timeline with morality.

Read more at Investigations and Fantasies

More about: Film, Leo Strauss, Progressivism, Repentance

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict