“An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again. But one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.
” – Col. Zemo from Captain America: Civil War
There is often truth in fiction.
Nation: (n) – a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own – Dictionary.com
Margaret Thatcher once observed, “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence
Of all the philosophical ideals ever committed to paper, “the pursuit of Happiness” must count among the greatest, but “all men are created equal” ranks a close second. Of course, these ideals were untrue in practice, but the character of Death expressed another truth in fiction in Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, “You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?“
We have been a nation often described as a “melting pot,” but more accurately as a “salad bowl” – the individual bits not melted together, but working (more or less) in harmony to be more than the sum of their parts.
We have never been perfect. No nation ever has. But we have been good, a beacon to the peoples of other nations, the “shining city on the hill” as Ronald Reagan put it. But not perfect by a long shot.
Advisory: This is my first überpost in quite a while. You’ve been warned.
The Founders made a compromise necessary to form the new nation. The practice of slavery was codified in our new Constitution. Slavery had been practiced as far back as history goes, but our version of it was slightly unusual – our slaves were black Africans or their descendants, notable not by brands or scars or clothing, but by the hue of their skin. There were free blacks, but those were at best second-class citizens. There were, of course, other oppressed groups – the Scots-Irish, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Native Americans. Everybody seemed to have some other group to look down on. It’s been that way since the Hairy Brow-ridged people lived the next valley over. Well they were obviously inferior. Even some Native American tribes owned slaves, as did some blacks.
So human slavery had been practiced since time immemorial, but in the late 19th Century there was – finally – an ongoing effort to end the practice at least in the West. Its driver was Protestant Christianity, a uniquely Western religion, and its ideal was that “all men are created equal” before God. The conflict finally came to a head in the United States in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln, the president of the party of Abolition. There were other causes – few wars have only one cause – but the driver was the practice of slavery and its complete incompatibility with the founding ideals of this nation.
It was, per capita, the bloodiest war in American history. Almost 215,000 combat deaths, over 650,000 total deaths, from a population of 27 million, a death toll of more than 2,250/100,000. Almost everyone lost a son, a brother, a husband, a cousin. Hundreds of thousands more came home severely injured, missing limbs, eyes, bearing scars from horrific wounds both physical and mental.
And yet we were not wrecked as a nation.
Seen at Facebook the other day:
Imagine living in a country that had been torn apart by a terrible war — one of the most brutal wars the modern world had ever seen up to that point — but had reunited and knit itself together so strongly that each side honored the other’s heroes and respected the other’s dead. I was born in a country like that. I’m sad my kids won’t get to experience it. – Peter Barrett
A long time ago one of the commenters here, Oren Litwin, left a comment that I have cited several times since. The key portion of it for this essay is:
Any political philosophy that is not self-reinforcing is by definition not the best political philosophy.
This is important to consider.
About the time of the US Civil war, starting around 1850 and running through about 1880, Karl Marx promoted a new philosophy, and it was very attractive to a lot of people, very self-reinforcing. That philosophy, or rather what it became, made its way here to the U.S. near the end of the 19th century, and significantly affected the 20th. That philosophy was Progressivism, and it was based in Marxist philosophy and its so-called historical inevitability. Science and technology were producing rapid change, and it seemed like every day brought some new wonder into the world. Progressivism was the ultimate self-reinforcing philosophy, promising eventual Utopia on Earth, and it hit the United States as we were recovering from the aftermath of that horrific Civil War.
Progressives made giant strides in the U.S. during the first quarter of the 20th century, restricting child labor, establishing compulsory public education, establishing a (no pun intended) “Progressive” income tax, establishing Social Security, and, of course, Prohibition. The world could only get better. It was scientifically inevitable, as long as The People worked for it.
But Progressives also did other things, among which was the distortion of Darwin’s theory of the mechanism of evolution into eugenics, especially towards blacks, but other “lesser peoples” as well. Jim Crow and Plessy v. Ferguson (Separate but Equal) codified segregation. There have always been dividing lines in human cultures, but rarely was it as stark as the separation between blacks and whites in America, possibly excepting India under the Raj or South Africa under Apartheid.
Russia fell under the the onslaught of Marxist philosophy in 1917. As soon as that government became stable, true to its dictates it tried its best to expand as Marxism demanded. “The Main Adversary,” that is, the Capitalist West and the United States in particular, was the target of what the Russian government termed “Active Measures.” Not simply spying, but implanting ideas
into the Western psyche designed to undermine Western civilization – nothing less. Initially, these were just idealistic representations of the “Worker’s Paradise” that Marxism/Leninism promised. Former CIA case officer Kent Clizbe published his book Willing Accomplices
in 2011 after studying what he calls the “payload” of Soviet psychological warfare and its effect on Western societies. He says:
My thesis is that the KGB, beginning soon after the Communist takeover of Russia in 1917, implemented massive covert influence operations. Their goal was to destroy the core moral fabric of American society. Taking advantage of the intellectual and philosophical climate of the early 1900’s, the Soviet intelligence apparatus began what would now be called in intelligence circles, “A preparation of the battle space” to move the world towards the inevitable dictatorship of the proletariat. Covert operatives realized that America’s greatest strengths were its proud exceptionalism and belief that freedom and liberty were part of man’s divine destiny. Our free society also made us vulnerable to covert operations. KGB case officers and their agents had easy access to a wide range of American society.
The goal of the KGB’s influence operation was to make Americans feel that their country was inherently bad. The KGB utilized Willing Accomplices to spread the message that America was an evil, racist, imperialist, foreigner-hating warmonger and that Communism was a benign, noble experiment designed to rid the world of corruption, oppression and injustice.
Babette Gross, wife of Wilhelm “Willi” Münzenberg, German Communist and head of the Young Communist International in 1919-1920 explained the content of that early payload to author Stephen Koch:
- You claim to be an independent-minded idealist.
- You don’t really understand politics, but you think the little guy is getting a lousy break.
- You believe in open-mindedness.
- You are shocked, frightened by what is going on right here in our own country.
- You’re frightened by the racism, by the oppression of the workingman.
- You think the Russians are trying a great human experiment, and you hope it works.
- You believe in peace.
- You yearn for international understanding.
- You hate fascism.
- You think the capitalist system is corrupt.
In short, you’re a good person who cares
. Who couldn’t get behind that? Who was this payload pointed at? Members of the education establishment, the news media, and entertainment, and through them the entire population. Marx promised Utopia. Russia was on its way!
And America needed to follow.
Clizbe notes in his book that for a relatively short period after the death of Lenin in 1924 and the rise of Stalin that Soviet intelligence operations were somewhat curtailed while Stalin recalled a lot of agents and purged Comintern and the KGB to secure his position. As soon as he felt secure enough, these activities were ramped up higher than before.
Yuri Bezmenov, a former Soviet tool working in India defected to Canada in 1970 and spent much of the 1980’s writing and lecturing on Soviet efforts and their intent. One of his main points was the emphasis on “ideological subversion.” Watch that video, but note this:
The main emphasis of the KGB is not in the area of intelligence at all. According to my opinion and the opinion of defectors of my caliber, only about 15% of time, money and manpower is spent on espionage as such. The other 85% is a slow process which we call either “ideological subversion,” or “active measures” – activnye meropriyatiya in the language of the KGB, or psychological warfare. What it basically means is to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information, no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country. It’s a great brainwashing process which goes very slow, and is divided in four basic stages, the first one being demoralization. It takes from 15 to 20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years it takes to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of your enemy. In other words, Marxism-Leninism is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged or counterbalanced by the basic values of Americanism, American patriotism. The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in (the) 60’s, drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals, are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media (and) educational system. You’re stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them.
(My emphasis.) Demoralization
– destruction of “the core moral fabric of American society,” This interview was taped in 1984. Three generations puts the initiation of this ideological subversion and demoralization in the early 1920’s.
It didn’t stop in 1984. At least two more generations have been exposed.
In 1960 former CIA agent W. Cleon Skousen published The Naked Communist
where he examined the purpose of Soviet “Active Measures.” He listed 45 goals, a list that was read into the Congressional Record in 1963 by Democratic Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr. of Florida. These 45 goals are as follows and please don’t skip this part:
1. U.S. should accept coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2. U.S. should be willing to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the U.S. would be a demonstration of “moral strength.”
4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
5. Extend long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
7. Grant recognition of Red China and admission of Red China to the U.N.
8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the Germany question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13. Do away with loyalty oaths.
14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S.
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions, by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for Socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations that are under Communist attack.
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV & motion pictures.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all form of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings,” substituting shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural and healthy.”
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a “religious crutch.”
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the grounds that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of “the big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture – education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose communist goals.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special interest groups should rise up and make a “united force” to solve economic, political or social problems.
43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45. Repeal the Connally Reservation so the U.S. cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike.
(I had to look that last one up.) Go over that list and see which are already accomplished and which are well on their way to being accomplished — good, bad or indifferent. Remember, this was 1960 – sixty years ago.
Most of these 45 goals are directed at “demoralization.” Judging from that list, they accomplished their goals, probably beyond Stalin’s wildest imaginings.
Numerous people have noted the irrational nature of today’s Left. Philosopher Stephen Hicks in a lecture on Postmodernism had this to say (VERY LONG EXCERPT FOLLOWS – I very strongly recommend listening to the whole thing):
(A)ll Postmodernists, to a man and woman, are Socialists, and fairly far Left Socialist. And that’s a problem because if you would start from Subjectivism, you would expect people to be making commitments all over the map. Instead what we find is that the commitments are narrowly directed to one part of the political spectrum, and so there’s got to be another factor here to explain this.
Now, another part of the problem (is) that Socialism has traditionally been defended on Modernist grounds. The claim was that Socialism was provable by the evidence, by logic. So what you have then is a shift, a major shift in strategy from Modernist epistemological groundings for Socialism, to Socialism being part of this highly relativistic Postmodern strategy. The question is, why is this the case?
Since Socialism was put forth on Modernist grounds, this meant that it made, in effect, a number of core assertions, or key propositions that it thought would be provable by evidence and logic. If you asks Socialists to defend Socialism they will typically offer two strands of argument. One is a more moral strand. They will argue a pair of theses, one that Capitalism is deeply immoral, and then there are a number of reasons why it is immoral: It is exploitative, the rich get rich off the backs of the poor – they enslave them, it’s warlike as part of its imperialistic mission and so forth. Socialism by contrast is humane, it’s peaceful, everybody gets a share, everyone shares, it’s cooperative, as opposed to the brutal competition that’s characteristic of Capitalism. That’s the first two.
The Economic wing of argument is that Capitalism ultimately is unproductive. It’s doing pretty good so far, but because of its internal contradictions and problems it will ultimately collapse. It will sow the seeds of its own destruction. Socialist economies by contrast will be more productive, and they will usher in a new era of prosperity.
Now this then means that Socialism has made some definite theses that can then be tested against the evidence, and be given logical scrutiny. The problem then is that every single one of these claims has been extensively refuted both in theory and in practice. We’ve had over a hundred years of Socialist argumentation, several Socialist experiments, and in each case they reached dismal failure. And it’s brutal, at least from our perspective, how thoroughly Socialism has been discredited. In theory, if you focus on the free-market economists, people like Mises
, have made the case. They’ve shown how markets are more efficient, and they’ve shown conversely how Socialist Command economies are bound to fail, necessarily. They have to. Distinguished Socialist such as Robert Heilbroner
have conceded, in print, that that debate is over, and that Mises and Hayek won.
In theory the political debate is a little bit more up for grabs, but the leading thesis, I think at least in my reading, is that some form of liberalism is the leading contender. That if you’re going to protect human rights in some broad form, you’ve got to have some form of liberalism, whether it’s a more conservative version or a more communitarian version or a more libertarian version, that’s where the debate is. It’s all shifted to there. The empirical evidence has been much harder on Socialism than the theoretical debate. Economically in practice every single Socialistic country has failed, and failed dismally, and in practice every country that is by and large Capitalist has become prosperous, and increasingly prosperous, and there’s no end in sight here.
Politically, in practice, every single Capitalistic country has a good record on human rights issues, in respecting rights and freedoms, by and large making it possible for people to put together meaningful, fruitful lives. Socialism has, time and time again, proved to be more brutal than the worst dictatorships in history. Every Socialist regime has collapsed into dictatorship, and starts killing people on an unprecedented scale. Every single one produces dissident writers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
, and Nien Cheng
who document from a first-hand perspective what exactly goes on.
(W)hat kind of a psychological impact the sum total of this, the refutation in theory, in practice, in politics and economics must have had on a Socialist, a True Believer Socialist? By the 1960’s there had been over a hundred years of argumentation in economics and in politics, and the Socialists could sense that they were losing. By the 1960’s it was clear that the great Socialist experiments were failing nastily. So put yourself in the shoes of a smart, more or less open-to-the-evidence Socialist, and you’re confronted with all of this data. How do you react? You’ve got a deep commitment to Socialism, you feel that it’s true, you WANT it to be true. You’ve pinned all of your dreams of a peaceful and a prosperous society on Socialism, and all of your hopes for curing any ills that you see in current society.
Now this is a moment of truth for anyone who has experienced the agony of a deeply cherished hypothesis run aground on the rocks of reality. What do you do? Do you abandon your theory and go with the facts, or do you try to find a way to maintain your theory and your belief in it?
I think in the 1960’s the academic Left was facing the same dilemma that religious thinkers were facing in the late 1700’s. In both cases the evidence was overwhelmingly against them. During the Enlightenment, religion’s natural theology arguments were widely seen as being full of holes, and science was rapidly filling the gap. It was giving naturalistic and opposite explanations for the kinds of things that religion had traditionally explained. Religion was in danger of being laughed out of intellectual debate. By the 1960’s the Left’s arguments for the fruitfulness and decency of Socialism were failing in theory and practice, and Capitalism was rapidly increasing everyone’s standard of living and showing itself respectful of human freedoms.
By the late 1700’s religious thinkers had a choice – accept evidence and logic as the ultimate court of appeals, and thereby reject their deeply held religious ideals, or – and here’s the strategy – you can reject the idea that logic and evidence are the ultimate court of appeal.
“I had to deny knowledge” wrote Kant in The Critique
, “in order to make room for faith.” “Faith,” writes Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling
, “requires the crucifixion of reason.” And so they proceeded to do that, and glorify the irrational.
The Left thinkers of the 1960’s faced the same choice. Confronted by the continuing flourishing of Capitalism and the continued poverty and brutality (of Socialism), they decided, like Kant, to limit reason, to try to crucify it. And so Heidigger
coming along and exalting feeling over reason is a godsend. Kuhn
‘s theory-laden paradigms, Quine
‘s pragmatic and internalist account of language and logic do the same thing.
So the idea here is that the dominance in the Academy of skeptical and irrationalist epistemologies provides the academic Left with a new strategy. Confronted by ruthless logic, harsh evidence, they have a solution: “That’s only logic and evidence. Logic and evidence are subjective. You can’t really PROVE anything. FEELINGS are deeper than logic, and my feelings say Socialism.”
That’s my second hypothesis about the origins of Postmodernism. I call it the Kierkegaardian hypothesis, that Postmodernism is the crisis of faith of the academic Left. Its epistemology justifies taking a personal leap of faith in continuing to believe your Socialist ideals.
As Thomas Sowell put it, “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” Mises said: “Socialism dies when reason prevails.“
(T)he lack of coherence doesn’t seem to be a problem, but the force that’s driving the activism is mostly the Marxism rather than the Postmodernism. It’s more like an intellectual gloss to hide the fact that a discredited economic theory is being used to fuel an educational movement and to produce activists. But there’s no coherence to it. It’s not like I’m making this up. Derrida himself regarded, and Foucalt as well, they were barely repentant Marxists. They were part of the student revolutions in France in the 1960’s, and what happened to them essentially, and what happened to Jean-Paul Sartre for that matter was, by the end of the 1960’s, you couldn’t be conscious and thinking and pro-Marxist.
There was so much evidence that had come pouring in from the Soviet Union and from Maoist China of the absolutely devastating consequences of the doctrine that it was impossible to be apologetic for it by that point in time. So the French intellectuals in particular just pulled off a sleight-of-hand and transformed Marxism into Postmodern identity politics, and we’ve seen the consequence of that. It’s not good. It’s a devolution into a kind of tribalism that will tear us apart on the Left and on the Right.
Stephen Hicks points out logical contradictions resulting from this transformation, this leap of faith:
I find it hard to believe that the leap of faith goes down very far for most Postmodernists. The average Postmodernist is a very clever person, has a PhD in the humanities somewhere, so I find it tough to believe that, or to make psychologically real to myself the turning off of one’s mind that would be necessary to make and sustain that leap of faith. Maybe I need to have an expanded understanding of psychology, but I think there’s something else going on here. Let me give you some examples, some fairly clear contradictions in Postmodernist assertions that any person who is smart and clever has to be aware of:
On the one hand, all truth is relative. On the other, Postmodernism tells it like it really is.
On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect. On the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad.
Values are subjective, but racism and sexism are really evil.
Technology is bad and destructive. It’s unfair that some people have more technology than others.
Tolerance is good and dominance is bad, but when Postmodernists are in power we’re politically correct as hell.
There’s a common pattern here. What you have is subjectivism and relativism in one breath, dogmatic absolutism in the next. Postmodernists are not stupid, so we can’t say they don’t know that this contradiction exists. They’re aware of the contradictions, and we’re pointing them out to them all of the time.
I’ll give an example also from Matt Walsh:
Gender is a social construct, but “I am woman, hear me roar,” but anyone can be a woman, but no uterus – no opinion, but transwomen are women, but “I demand women’s rights!”, but men are women, but men are scum, but drag queens are beautiful, but appropriation is evil.
Or this one from Larry Corriea:
If you want to have an economy it is because you want grandma to die, except when Cuomo signed off on an order that actually literally killed thousands of grandmas that is okay because they were going to die anyway, so nobody should be held accountable, and while we are at it should run Cuomo for president because he looks more presidential than Biden, who is senile, and quite possibly a rapist too, but the rapey bits don’t count anymore because we only hash tag believe all women when they accuse republicans, because everything is okay when we do it and nothing is ever our fault, even when things directly under our watch spiral terribly out of control, but also how dare you politicize these tragic events, you cold-hearted republican bastards who love money more than people, unless that money is being donated to democrat causes, because then it’s good again. – sincerely, the Party of Science, Morality, and Goodness.
Or my own observation (shared by many) that Speech (by the Right) is violence, but silence (by the Right) is also violence, but actual violence (by the Left) is free speech.
, a self-confessed Social Justice Warrior who recently #walkedaway has said “This is an ideology of contradictions, built on a foundation of lies.
Everything points to an epistemological crisis in the 1960’s. The first generation warped by Marxist ideological subversion were now in management and administration positions in media, in entertainment, in government, in industry and especially in education. The second generation was in lower-ranking positions in all of these careers. The third generation received it from their parents, the “Red Diaper Babies” of the first generation, and were getting it reinforced good and hard in colleges and universities.
David Horowitz, a self-admitted Red Diaper Baby, recounts that his parents – emigrants from pre-Revolution Russia – were “card-carrying Communists,” (who never referred to themselves as anything other than “Progressives”) and that his parents only associated with ideological fellow travelers – until a “secret speech” by Khrushchev laying all of the crimes and terrorism committed by the government against its own people at the feet of Stalin was leaked in 1956. (Even though, of course, Khrushchev was as deep in those crimes as the rest of the leaders of the government.) They were devastated. They resigned from the Communist Party, but still remained believers, as did David himself, in Socialism. By the 1960’s the failure and massacres of Socialism could no longer be denied by thinking people, so they stopped thinking in favor of feeling. They rejected reality and substituted their own. They ignored the contradictions and just went all-out for identity politics.
It doesn’t matter if the people pushing this consciously know that what they’re pushing is bullshit or not. They’re driving people they have ensured cannot reason for themselves. They have stolen from their followers the ability to reason. Even worse, the desire to. Everyone on the Right has recently been commenting on the apparent insanity of the Left. Defund the police, tear down the statues, Cancel Culture, and so on. If the goal is destruction of capitalistic Western Civilization, they must tear it down from the inside. Stephen Hicks continues:
In our time, the Capitalists are the strong, the exuberant, the active. For a while in the past century the Socialists could believe that the Revolution was coming, that woe would come to them that are rich, and blessed would be the poor. But that hope has been dashed cruelly. Capitalism now seems like a case of “twice two makes four.” And like Dostoyevski’s Underground Man, it’s easy to see that the most intelligent Socialists would just hate that fact. Socialism is the loser, and if the Socialists know that, they would hate that fact, they will hate the winners for having won, and they will hate themselves for having picked the losing side.
Hate as a chronic condition leads to the urge to destroy.
But again, your only weapons are words. How can you use words to destroy? I think the whole idea of Deconstruction comes out of this. Postmodernism is populated by large numbers of people who like the idea of deconstructing other people’s work. It’s the opposite of constructing something of your own.
So if words are your weapons now, and you want to destroy the achievements of Western civilization, especially the Enlightenment, how do you do it? Well, consider a more personal case. If you hate someone and you want to hurt him, hit him where it counts. Do you want to hurt a man who loves his children and hates child molesters? What would be the worst thing you could say about such a guy? Well accuse him, publicly, of child molesting. Or, better yet, spread sneaky rumors that he’s a child molester. You want to hurt a woman who takes pride in her independence? Spread through the gossip grapevine that she married the man she did because he’s wealthy. The truth or the falsity of the rumors doesn’t matter, and whether you believe them yourself doesn’t matter and whether the people you tell them to believe them doesn’t matter. They get out there, and they do their damage. What matters is you score a direct hit in the psyche of your enemy, your target person.
You know the accusations and the rumors are going to cause some tremors even if they come to nothing, and you get that wonderfully dark glow inside of knowing that you did it.
And it just might come to something after all.
Like getting them “cancelled.”
But that’s not enough now. It isn’t sufficient to just verbally attack individual enemies, the fight has to be taken to society as a whole. Psychologist and blogger Robert Godwin once wrote:
The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftism in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection. The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation–a complete materialistic skepticism combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.
The aforementioned David Horowitz gave a speech in 2013 at the Heritage Foundation. Here’s a pertinent piece of that:
Progressives are focused on the future, and what’s the chief characteristic of the future? It’s imaginary! The future they are focused on never existed in human history, and as conservatives we understand it can never exist. It’s an impossible dream and a very, very destructive one, as we know from the history of Progressive movements in the 20th Century which killed a hundred million people in peacetime.
It is, as I’ve said in many places, a crypto-religion. “The world is a Fallen place, and we’re gonna save it.”
This is what makes them so dangerous. They see themselves as Savior. A decent – I would say “authentic” religion says that the world is a really screwed up place and human beings are incapable of unscrewing it.
People who believe that Redemption will take place in this life, and they’re going to be part of it, that’s the Hitlers, that’s the Lenins, that’s the Maos. And unfortunately it’s the ideology, moderated of course, but the ideology – moderated for the American framework – of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Left: ‘If we have the power, we can do it.’
So if you believe that social institutions can change things by getting enough power, then when you look at your opponents, who are the people who are not going along with the program? You see yourself as the army of the Saints. Who are they? They are, YOU are the party of Satan!
If you want to understand a so-called liberal, just think of a hellfire and damnation preacher and his mentality. That’s what it is. That’s why they’re rude, they’re always interrupting, that’s why it doesn’t bother them in the least that there are no conservatives on their faculty. Because conservatives are evil, they’re spreading ideas that are evil, that are keeping people from enjoying this paradise on Earth that they’re going to bring about.
Stephen Hicks one last time:
The Western tradition: it prides itself on its commitment to equality, justice, open mindedness, making opportunity available to all. The West is proud, full of itself, confident, and it knows it is the wave of the future. This is unbearable to someone who is totally invested in an opposite and failed outlook, and so that pride is what you want to destroy. Your best bet then is to attack the West’s sense of its own moral worth. Attack it as racist and sexist then, as inherently dogmatic and cruelly exploitative. Undermine it at the core. The words don’t have to be true in order to do their damage, and so I don’t think it’s accidental that Postmodernism has launched the kinds of attacks on the core values of the West, and it’s done so knowing full well the accusations its making are not true.
It’s a psychological compulsion in some cases and so that allows you to hold the contradiction. You can be an absolutist in your assertions, and you can assert the relativism and it just doesn’t matter – as long as it’s harming someone, the enemy.
This describes the “active measures” attacks on the West, both before and after the 1960’s.
Eric S. Raymond in his blog post Suicidalism
from 2005 listed a series of positions taken by “intellectuals” in the West, (this is turning into an überpost of lists):
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal.Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But “oppressed” people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
This is the result of nearly 100 years of wildly successful and unopposed ideological subversion.
For the Left, there are only two reasons anyone would oppose their movement: You’re either too stupid to understand it, or you’re completely evil. Glenn Wishard in a piece at Canus Iratus from 2004
that I have quoted here repeatedly said:
The rise and fall of the Marxist ideal is rather neatly contained in the Twentieth Century, and comprises its central political phenomenon.
I disagree that “the Marxist ideal” fell
at the end of the 20th Century. The Soviet Union
collapsed, but Marxism? Its battlespace preparation flourishes, especially on college campuses. Continuing:
Fascism and democratic defeatism are its sun-dogs. The common theme is politics as a theology of salvation, with a heroic transformation of the human condition (nothing less) promised to those who will agitate for it. Political activity becomes the highest human vocation. The various socialisms are only the most prominent manifestation of this delusion, which our future historian calls “politicism”. In all its forms, it defines human beings as exclusively political animals, based on characteristics which are largely or entirely beyond human control: ethnicity, nationality, gender, and social class. It claims universal relevance, and so divides the entire human race into heroes and enemies. To be on the correct side of this equation is considered full moral justification in and of itself, while no courtesy or concession can be afforded to those on the other. Therefore, politicism has no conscience whatsoever, no charity, and no mercy.
“The common theme is politics as a theology of salvation….”
“The world is a Fallen place, and we’re gonna save it.“
“…a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.“
That’s it exactly. The Left didn’t merely “crucify reason,” they turned their faith in Marxism into a religion. And the high priests of this religion are, as Bezmenov noted, the graduates of the 1960s.
Those with their hands now on the levers of power are there for the power. They know the lies they’re telling. They will do whatever is necessary to steer the unthinking laity to do what they want and need. They’re riding the tiger, though they refuse to see that.
The Left has succeeded in most of the 45 items listed above, but it’s absolutely been victorious in number 15. “Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S”
The Democratic Party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Progressive Left. The Republicans aren’t much better. Professor Angelo Codevilla, author of the influential essay The Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution (read that if you haven’t) was interviewed a while back. In that interview he said something explicitly that I had been thinking for quite a while but could not adequately put into words:
(T)he Democrats (are) the senior partners in the ruling class. The Republicans are the junior partners. The reason being that the American ruling class was built by or under the Democratic Party. First, under Woodrow Wilson and then later under Franklin Roosevelt. It was a ruling class that prized above all its intellectual superiority over the ruled. And that saw itself as the natural carriers of scientific knowledge, as the class that was naturally best able to run society and was therefore entitled to run society. The Republican members of the ruling class aspire to that sort of intellectual status or reputation. And they have shared a taste of this ruling class. But they are not part of the same party, and as such, are constantly trying to get closer to the senior partners. As the junior members of the ruling class, they are not nearly as tied to government as the Democrats are. And therefore, their elite prerogatives are not safe.
The Republicans don’t understand that there’s a religious war going on. They just want to have access to the levers of power every now and then, and get invited to the right parties. They would rather lose nobly than win with bloody knuckles. They have no competing motivating ideology. If they have any political philosophy at all, it is not self-reinforcing for the public. This was exemplified by a recent interview of Republican Senator Mike Braun (IN) by Tucker Carlson. You really should watch that before it gets pulled.
Because the present-day Republicans and Democrats are both big-government activists, they have a foundational philosophy that is the same:
America is a problem to be fixed, and Americans are a people to be managed.
But I think he’s not quite right. The difference is, the people in charge of the Democratic party don’t just think America is a problem and Americans are a people to be managed, they believe that America is sinful and needs to be saved. Whether we want to be or not. No matter how many have to die to accomplish that.
As commenter IronBear put it here many years ago:
Think about it. When was the last time that you were able to engage in anything that resembled a discussion with someone of the Leftist persuasion? Were able to have an argument that was based on the premise that one of you was wrong, rather than being painted as Evil just because you disagreed?
The Left has painted itself into a rhetorical and logical corner, and unfortunately they have no logic that might act as a paint thinner. It’s not possible for them to compromise with those that they’ve managed to conflate with the most venal of malevolence, with those whom they’re convinced disagree not because of different opinions but because of stupidity and evil, with those who’s core values are diametrically opposed to what the Left has embraced. There can be no real discourse, no real discussion. There’s no common ground. There can be no reconciliation there – the Left has nothing to offer that any adherent of freedom wants. The only way they can achieve their venue is from a position of political ascendancy where it can be imposed by force or inveigled by guile.
And all adherents of freedom have far too many decades of historical precedent demonstrating exactly where that Leftward road leads – to the ovens of Dachau.
He wrote that in 2004
. Daniel Greenfield came to the same conclusion a bit later – 2015 – in his essay No Truce with the Left
. Excerpt – but again, I recommend reading the whole thing:
The left does not care about gay rights. If you doubt that, consider how many of the left’s favorite Muslim countries have gay rights. The left has recently divided its campaign passions between gay marriage and defending Iran. Iran denies the existence of gays and hangs them where it finds them.
The USSR treated homosexuality as a crime even while it was recruiting gay men as spies in the West. Cuba, the darling of the American left, hated both gays and blacks. The ACLU backed the police states of Communism. If the left supports an enemy nation, the odds are excellent that it is also a violently bigoted place that makes a KKK rally look like a hippie hangout.
To understand the left, you need to remember that it does not care about 99 percent of the things it claims to care about. Name a leftist cause and then find a Communist country that actually practiced it. Labor unions? Outlawed. Environmentalism? Chernobyl. The left fights all sorts of social and political battles not because it believes in them, but to radicalize, disrupt and take power.
The left does not care about social justice. It cares about power.
That is why no truce is possible with the left. Not on social issues. Not on any issues.
A Socialist a century ago considered factories progressive instruments of the future and men in dresses a decadent reactionary behavior. Now factories are reactionary pollution machines of globalization and men in dresses are an oppressed victim group who have transcended biology with the power of their minds.
Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and other class enemies cannot possibly ‘progress’ enough to be acceptable to the left because it identifies progress with political conformity. A tolerant and progressive Republican is a contradiction in terms.
If he were truly tolerant and progressive, he wouldn’t be a Republican.
The left will destroy the things you care about, because you care about them. It will destroy them because that gives them power over you. It will destroy them because these things stand in the way of its power. It will destroy them because a good deal of its militant activists need things to destroy and if they can’t attack you, they’ll turn on the left in a frenzy of ideologically incestuous purges.
The left’s social justice program is really a wave of these purges which force their own people to hurry up and conform to whatever the Party dictated this week. Examples are made out of laggards on social media to encourage the rest to stop thinking and start marching in line. As Orwell knew well, these shifts select for mindless ideological zombies while silencing critical thinkers.
Yesterday we were against fighting Hitler. Today we’re for it. Retroactively, we were always at war with Oceania. Retroactively, Bruce Jenner was always a woman. Retroactively, Obama was always right about Iraq, even when he appeared to be making the wrong decisions.
These changes are a test of reason. If you can reason, you fail. If you can Doublethink, you pass.
So Marxism started making inroads into Western culture in the late 1800’s, kicked up a gear in the early 1920’s, and went into overdrive in the 1960’s despite the obvious failures of the philosophy. It stopped being a socio-economic theory, and became a religion. What else was happening in the 60’s? The Civil Rights movement. The Bay of Pigs fiasco. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The war in Vietnam. The Space Race. The Left had some legitimate grievances, but given an inch true to form they went for the mile. The parallels between 1968 and 2020 are interesting. Protests, riots, arson, looting. I’m half-expecting bombings to start up again. Give it a year or two.
Bezmenov said there were four stages to Communist takeover, with demoralization being the first. The other three stages are:
After decades and generations, words are no longer enough. “Direct Action” is required to achieve their goals. “Demoralization” was wildly successful. It appears that it’s time for “Destabilization.” Identity politics has been the path to this point, and the words “racism” and “sexism” and all the other “-isms” have been the rallying cry for the last few decades, but now the black/white cultural divide – so long nurtured by the Left – is the prybar with which they plan to demolish Western culture.
November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address – a two minute speech consecrating the ground for a cemetery for 3,500 Union dead of the battle. In that speech he said:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
Seven score and seventeen years later, we are again engaged in a great civil war – at the moment mostly a cold one, retesting that question. The first Civil War was over the ideologies of human slavery and equality. This one is, too. There’s more to that quote from IronBear:
It would be a mistake to paint the conflict exclusively in terms of “cultural war,” or Democrats vs Republicans, or even Left vs Right. Neither Democrats/Leftists or Republicans shy away from statism… the arguments there are merely over degree of statism, uses to which statism will be put – and over who’ll hold the reins. It’s the thought that they may not be left in a position to hold the reins that drives the Democrat-Left stark raving.
This is a conflict of ideologies…
The heart of the conflict is between those to whom personal liberty is important, and those to whom liberty is not only inconsequential, but to whom personal liberty is a deadly threat.
At the moment, that contingent is embodied most virulently by the “American” Left. This is the movement that still sees the enslavement and “re-education” of hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, and the bones of millions used as fertilizer in Cambodia as a victory. This is the movement that sees suicide bombers as Minute Men, and sees the removal of a brutal murder and rape machine from power as totalitarianism. This is the movement that sees legitimately losing an election as the imposition of a police state. This is the movement that believes in seizing private property as “common good”. That celebrates Che Guevara as a hero. The movement who’s highest representatives talk blithely about taking away your money and limiting your access to your own homestead for your own good. The movement of disarmament.
The movement of the boot across the throat.
But is a religious war. As such reason, logic, and compromise are not an option. And as of right now, only one side seems to realize it. The Right has two choices: surrender, or win at any cost. And they don’t even seem willing to bloody their knuckles.
As previously mentioned, few wars have only one cause. There are usually economic pressures behind them. During the first Civil War, the North economically dominated the South, and that chafed. Few of the Southern combatants owned slaves or gave the question much thought. They just didn’t want to be controlled by the North and were willing to kill and die to prevent it. But the people with their hands on the levers of power? They were the slave-holders whose economic existence depended on slave labor. They used whatever they had to motivate their followers.
The economy again has an influence here. Social Security was passed in 1935 under FDR’s progressive administration with overwhelming support. As proposed it was somewhat cynical, as it only started paying out to people over the age of 65 in a year where the median life expectancy for men was 59.9, and women 63.9. Most of the population wouldn’t see a dime, but everyone working would pay into it. Medicare and Medicaid were passed under LBJ’s progressive administration in 1966 as an expansion of Social Security. Today, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid consume 70% of the total Federal budget. According to the Social Security Administration itself, Social Security will start paying out more than it brings in by 2034. Knowing the government, this is most likely an absolute best-case scenario. Based on the aging population, the cost of entitlement spending (and yes, Virginia, Social Security is entitlement spending. The money collected goes into the General Fund, not some “lock box” Al Gore prattled about) threatens to collapse the economy. A June 2018 National Review Online piece discusses the Congressional Budget Office projections:
If the federal government continues its current spending habits, the national debt is projected to reach 152 percent of the annual gross domestic product by 2048, according to the latest estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In a report released Tuesday, the CBO said the national debt currently represents the highest share of the GDP—78 percent—since the period right after World War II.
The national debt is projected to reach roughly 100 percent of the GDP by 2030, and it could approach 152 percent by 2048.
“That amount,” the CBO said in a summary of its report, “would be the highest in the nation’s history by far.”
The CBO cited a list of contributing factors to explain its projections.
Spending on entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, as well as overall rising health care costs and accumulating interest on the existing national debt, are to blame for the report’s grim outlook.
“If the federal government continues its current spending habits….
” Is there any doubt
? The National debt is currently over $26 TRILLION
. George F. Will, back before he went full Colonel Nicholson
gave a truly excellent speech
in 2010 (when the debt was “only” $13
trillion) at the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize dinner. In that speech he said:
We see in the rampant indebtedness of our country and the European countries what someone has called “a gluttonous feast on the flesh of the future.” We see the infantilization of publics that become inert and passive, waiting for the state to take care of them. One statistic: 50% of all Americans 55 years old or older have less than $50,000 in savings and investment.
The feast on the flesh of the future is what debt is. To get a sense of the size of our debt, in 1916, midway in Woodrow Wilson’s first term, the richest man in America John D. Rockefeller could have written a personal check and retired the National Debt. Today the richest man in America, Bill Gates, could write a personal check for all his worth and not pay two months interest on the National Debt. Five years from now interest debt service will consume half of all income taxes. Ten years from now the three main entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security plus interest will consume 93% of all federal revenues. Twenty years from now debt service interest will be the largest item in the federal budget.
Calvin Coolidge, the last president with whom I fully agreed, once said that when you see a problem coming down the road at you, relax. Nine times out of ten it will go into the ditch before it gets to you. He was wrong about the one we now face. We are facing the most predictable financial crisis, most predictable social and political crisis of our time. And all the political class can do is practice what I call “the politics of assuming a ladder.” That’s an old famous story of two people walking down the road, one’s an economist the other’s a normal American, and they fall into a pit with very steep sides. The normal American at the bottom says “Good lord we can’t get out!” The economists said, “Not to worry, we’ll just assume a ladder.”
This seems to me what is the only approach they have to the Ponzi nature of our own welfare state. I think what it is time for us to understand, that the model that we share in a somewhat attenuated form so far with Europe simply cannot work. It is that on the one hand we should tax the rich, AKA the investing and job creating class, yet count on spending the revenues of investment and job creation. No one has explained to the political class that it is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.
They don’t intend to try. The Ponzi nature of our welfare state cannot be ignored much longer. The people with their hands on the levers of power know it. They also know they dare not threaten the welfare state because the infantilized public, the last three or four generations of people they made through the control of education and media won’t let them. Those people feel that these entitlements are owed to them, facts be damned. Senators and Congresscritters may make postmodernist noises denying reality, but they are not stupid people (well, not all of them). The iceberg is dead ahead, the throttle is to the firewall, and the wheel is chained to the stanchion. We’re not voting our way out of this.
Far easier to destabilize, create a Constitutional crisis, and then “renormalize” the wreckage. Their power may be diminished
(as will the population of the nation and probably the world), but their
hands will still hold those levers.
The current turmoil has little to do with racism, sexism or any other -ism. (But you’ll notice that the founders of Black Lives Matter admit that they have Marxist training. Quelle suprise). That’s the excuse. It’s all about control, and who will have it when the smoke clears, the dust settles, and the bleeding stops.
UPDATE: 7/8/2020 – The conclusion of this post, another 2,400 words, is up – Endgame