Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism: Is it Too Late for America?

This is pretty scary stuff. For weeks now, liberals have been trumpeting this research into the Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism, warning anyone who will listen that America is on the brink of a fascist takeover--if it hasn't happened already (just google "fourteen characteristics of fascism" and you'll see what I mean). At first, I just assumed that it was the typical hysteria and/or paranoia of the reality based community, but as I read each characteristic carefully, a cold chill wind blew across my spine.

Take a deep breath. Here we go, with my comments:
1. “Powerful and Continuing Nationalism; fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia.”

Oh my God! This is only the first category, but who hasn’t heard liberals mindlessly chanting about how dissent is “the highest form of patriotism” or seen the countless patriotic mottos and slogans such as “Proud of My Country, Ashamed of My President,” “Dissent: Patriotism in Action,” "You Don't Have to Like Bush to Love America,” “Patriot Act Too: Dissent," and “While You were Watching the War, Bush was Raping America.” Let's be honest--who is more prickly about his questionable patriotism being questioned than a liberal? And let's not even get into their many fervently patriotic songs, like this childish work of breathtaking numbskullery by that doddering old hippie, Neil Young, who hasn't taken a new cognitive imprint since 1968:

Let's impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

Let's impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

Let's impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

2. "Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights; people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored. The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc."

Wow. I hadn’t thought about this before, but now I understand why liberals don't care one whit about Bush liberating 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq from two of the greatest human rights abusers in history. This also explains why feminists groups have “looked the other way” with respect to Bush’s liberation of Muslim women from the hideous conditions that prevailed in Iraq--the rape rooms, murdering children in front of their parents, Uday and Qsay kidnapping and raping brides on their wedding day, etc.
3. "Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause; the people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe."

Boy, does this one ring a bell! The constant frenzied drumbeat from the left that George Bush is the source of all the world's problems, and that if we can just eliminate him, we will live in some kind of leftist utopia. The fear also extends to “neocons," a code word for some sort of secret Jewish cabal that is supposedly pulling the strings behind world events.
4. "Supremacy of the Military; soldiers and military service are glamorized."

This is getting scary. As we all know, and are reminded of every day, nobody supports the troops more than liberals! Indeed, some of their deepest and most emotion-provoking slogans, mottos, and bumper stickers concern just this: “Support Our Troops: Impeach the President,” “I Support our Troops: That’s Why I Question Our Leaders,” “Want to Support Our Troops? Then Support the Truth.”
5. "Rampant Sexism."

Yikes. Sadly, it’s “Men Need Not Apply” in the Democratic party. The left has been almost entirely taken over by the ovary tower feminist gynocracy of man-hating women and girlie men. I don’t see how an actual man has a snowman's balls chance of getting anywhere in the Democratic party. If you show the slightest signs of testosterone, they kick you out, like Joe Lieberman. If you don't toe the phallophobic feminist line, you can forget about any political aspirations.

 6. "Controlled Mass Media; sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common."

Yes! This would explain the obsession with Fox. The left has a near monopoly on the mainstream distribution of disinformation, and can’t stand the idea that there is a single populist network that goes against liberal orthodoxy. Dissenting voices like Rush Limbaugh are hounded by rogue prosecutors, while demagogues and pathological liars like Joe Wilson are held out as great patriots. And just last week we saw the frightening specter of government officials trying to pressure a major television network not to air a program critical of their point of view.
7. "Obsession with National Security; fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses."

Let me count the ways! If you listen to fear-mongering liberals, you'd think it was the end of the world: “I Fear Bush More Than I Fear Terrorism,” “Bush Crime Family--Using Fear to Sell Protection,” “Got Fear?--Thank Bush,” “The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Bush-Cheney," “Terror is Fear--Bush Delivers,” “Bush: Category 5 National Disaster,” “One Nation, Under Surveillance,” “I Love My Country--But I Fear My Government.” And let's not even talk about all the environmental fear-mongering--first global cooling, now global warming, China Syndrome, nuclear winter, overpopulation, running out of natural resources, etc.
8. "Religion and Government are Intertwined."

Wo. This explains the constant attack on religious freedom by big government, and the utter failure to protect the first amendment--you know, the important part: "congress shall make no law prohibiting the free expression of religion." But everywhere we look, we see this unhealthy mixture of church and state, as liberals try to impose their kooky secular religious values on the rest of us and interfere with the freedom to express our religiosity in the same unencumbered way Americans were allowed to in the past, without fear of the legal terrorists of the ACLU.
9. "Corporate Power is Protected; the industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."

We all know that the Democratic party has many more wealthy donors than the Republican Party, and that the Republicans have many more small donors. Just a few wealthy elites like George Soros and Steven Bing are responsible for funding the nutrooots, Air America, and all those 527 groups that illegally skirt campaign finance reform. Not to mention the entrenched corporate interests of Hollywood, the trial lawyers, corrupt unions, and other powerful special interest groups that benefit by having Democrats in power.
10. "Labor Power is Suppressed."

Until I read this, I had never connected the dots, but now I see why the left is so in favor of unlimited immigration, as it constantly suppresses wages, hurting all working people. Why hire a union guy for $25 an hour on a construction site, when you can pay an illegal $5 an hour under the table? The left always says that illegals are only taking jobs Americans won’t do, but this is a ridiculous argument. Without the influx of cheap labor, wages would just rise until people did take the jobs.
11. "Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts; fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked."

Political correctness. Campus speech codes. The destruction of our primary school system by the liberal educational establishment and teacher's unions. Textbook guidelines that demand cultural and moral relativism. 90% of faculties in elite universities being radical leftists and tenured wackademics. Deconstructionists who are hostile to the idea that truth even exists. No intellectual diversity on college campuses. And of course, there is no subhuman garbage so vile that it cannot be promoted as “art” by postmodernists who have no appreciation of, or ability to, produce genuine art.
12. "Obsession with Crime and Punishment."

It's true! Liberals are obsessed with crime and punishment, aren't they? They just can't wrap their minds around the idea that bad people need to be punished, and that punishment deters criminal behavior. How often have we seen that perennially mystified (and mystifying) headline in the New York Times: “Crime Down Despite Increase in Prison Population”? Or how about the obsession with granting the full panoply of civil rights to terrorists, or abusing the Geneva Convention by insisting that it protects unlawful combatants? For that matter, how about the nutty obsession that President Bush is engaging in criminal activity by spying on terrorists, something he might as well be mandated to do in war time if you take the constitution seriously?
13. "Rampant Cronyism and Corruption."

Yes, I suppose cronyism and corruption did reach its zenith (or is it nadir?) in the Clinton administration. Think of all the dubious records set by that corrupt administration: the only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance, the most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates, the most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation, the most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify, the first president sued for sexual harassment and accused of rape, the first First Lady to come under criminal investigation, the largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case, the first president to establish a legal defense fund, the first president to be held in contempt of court, the greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions, the first president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court, not to mention the presidential pardoning of large campaign donors just before leaving office, such as Mark Rich.
14. "Fraudulent Elections; sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham."

Boy howdy! As John Fund wrote in Stealing Elections, when it comes to election fraud, Republicans are rank amateurs. The vast majority of election fraud and stolen elections has always come from the Democrats--illegal aliens registered to vote, corrupt urban political machines, dead voters swaying elections, etc.

As I said, I am scared. Real scared. This country is clearly in danger of becoming a left-wing fascist state--if it hasn’t already done so. As Sean Penn ominously warned us the other night on Larry King, "Fascism will come to America, but likely under another name... perhaps anti-fascism."


All kidding aside, philosophically and spiritually, it actually does make much more sense that fascism would come from the left, because that is the source of its intellectual genealogy: Modern Fascism. It was communists who defined nazism--which was actually an alternative and competing form of socialism--as "right." But relative to classical American liberalism, both communism and fascism are left.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Aloha, Mr. King, I am So Wasted! And What is a Conservative, Really?

Conservatives thoroughly understand liberalism for the simple reason that most conservatives probably started out liberal, as did I. But the reverse is not true. Only now do I realize that all of my received ideas about conservatism--from the MSMistry of Truth, from the looniversity bin of academia, and from the culture at large--were not just wrong, but crazy. Similarly, when I hear liberals describe the secret motivations of conservatives today, it’s almost always kooky talk, bearing no relationship to reality. After all, they’re talking about me, and I know me pretty well.

For example, we recently had a liberal visitor to One Cosmos who has repeatedly called me a jack-booted nazi who wishes to murder people with whom I disagree. He is annoyed because I will not debate him on the matter. But how does one respond to such unalloyed mooonbattery? One cannot respond, because this is an apperception, not a perception. In other words, it is pure projection, a type of thinking that is not based on any actual facts about me or about conservatism. I am by definition what he says I am, which is another way of saying that, for whatever reason, he has an emotional need to experience me in the way he does. Again, I understand this process because I was the same way when I was an untutored moonbat in the clutches of conventional wisdom.

Last night a representative of this kind of pseudo-thinking was on Larry King Live, Sean Penn. I rarely watch television, but I watched the entire program because I was fascinated by the prospect of a prototypical moonbat mind being given free rein to air his views in an entirely uncensored manner. Larry King was the perfect interviewer, because he is so utterly vacuous that he lulls the guest into free-associating in an unguarded manner, whereas even a raised eyebrow or cocked head might have reminded Penn that reality exists. It’s the same technique a therapist uses with a paranoid patient, except consciously. If you betray your understanding that the patient is crazy, they immediately clam up.

If you actually read the transcript, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in the course of the interview, Penn accused President Bush of bringing fascism to America, of “devastating our democracy,” of doing “enormous damage to mankind,” and waging a bogus war on terror to “distract us from reality.” In 2002 it was to distract us from Enron, whereas now it is to distract us from “another situation” (although in classic paranoid fashion, he didn’t say what the situation was; I think he means that Bush is waging the bogus war on terror to distract us from the fact that he is waging a bogus war on terror). Penn also discussed his friendship with Fidel Castro, who confided to him over dinner that he thought sanctions against Iran were a bad idea, because the American sanctions against him had helped keep in in power (I know, it makes no sense).

Since I admire President Bush, it stands to reason that I am either hopelessly naive, or else I too am a fascist who wants to wage a bogus war in order to conceal my real agenda of destroying democracy and damaging mankind. Never mind that I and President Bush specifically want to create a democracy in the Middle East so that human beings in the Islamic world actually have the opportunity to achieve their potential instead of living as slaves.

Penn suggested that he too would pick up arms if the United States were invaded. First of all, if he is correct, the U.S. is being invaded by fascists, and yet, he somehow feels safe enough to verbally attack the fascists on national TV. Probably not very smart. But Penn is also saying that if he were an Iraqi, he would side with the fascist insurgency against the democratic liberators. Really stupid.

(Mr. Hand: "Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Spicoli: "Learning about Cuba. Having some food. Rappin' with Mr. King.")


Penn and my moonbat commenter have their own implacable fantasies about conservatism, but what is it really? I am of the view that conservatism is an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as much as it is any set doctrine. And this is why the movement is so diverse, containing ideological factions that may lack superficial commonality, say, traditionalists and libertarians. But on a deeper level, it has been said that conservatism is “an inclination to cherish the permanent things in existence,” which I think is as good a definition as any. As such, conservatives are naturally distrustful of radical schemes to alter society and perfect mankind. As Robert Frost wrote, “Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.”

Temperamental conservatives also have much more of an appreciation of the dark side of mankind, and an understanding of the fine line between civilization and barbarity. You don’t have to literally believe in original sin to appreciate how much wisdom there is in such a view, especially when compared to the inveterate liberal naiveté about human character. Evil is not merely an “accident of history” or “the creation of a few antisocial men,” but the “immemorial tendency of man to do the wrong thing when he knows the right thing” and to “define value in terms of his own interests” (in Nash ).

Liberals tend to view human being as basically good, which is why they are so naive about human evil and impervious to real-world feedback about the failure of their ideas. For most liberal programs to be effective--say, pre-reform welfare--you must assume at the outset that people are basically good and won’t abuse the system. But liberal programs typically put in place a structure of incentives that encourages people to act out their greed and selfishness in antisocial ways. The whole point of free market capitalism is that it acknowledges self-interest and greed at the outset, providing it a with pro-social outlet without anyone having to force the issue from on high. Yes, tinkering at the edges of capitalism is fine, so long as you think things through and realize that most of your tinkering will make matters worse, not better (which was true of the vast majority of FDR's counterproductive ideas--not to mention LBJ).

The conservative mind is also more likely to be endowed with a tragic sense of life, which spurs the transcendental imagination. In the absence of this transcendental reality, we are reduced to a horizontal, secularized mind “for which material existence is everything and spiritual life is nothing” and “all that is symbolic becomes ever more incomprehensible” (Lindbom, in Kirk). And without the tragic sense of life, one will be much more inclined to think that life should (or could) be fair; in short, it nurtures the victim mentality.

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if Hispanic or Black Americans adopted Asian American values, they would be just as successful--unless you are a liberal who believes that intelligence is a function of race.)

2. Appreciation of the mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.”

Contemporary liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks the social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”

I used to believe the latter four points. I now affirm the first six. But only because I secretly wish to destroy mankind and put more holes in Sean Penn's aluminum boat.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rock Music and Progressive Emotiology

How did rock music--and rock music criticism--get appropriated by the moonbats? What is it about the medium of rock music that makes it the ideal vehicle for unhinged moonbattery?

Awhile back, powerline published an excerpt from an article by Edward Azlant on the ideology of rock, entitled Who stole the Rollin' Stone? In it, Azlant writes that

“Rock and roll lyrics may stray anywhere, but they are everywhere soaked in adolescent rebellion and the quest for identity. The bigger question is: where does all this come from, what are the roots of rock and roll and how did it develop?”

He points out the truism that rock music “derives from the blues, from the Delta through Chicago; from gospel, through R&B; and from hillbilly music through country and western. The various contributions of the key figures and precise mixes of these elements constitute the enormous library of rock history, but there is little dispute that these are the basic ingredients.” But these forms of music are hardly adolescent, much less politically "progressive" in content. Rather, they are adult music with adult concerns.

As I have noted in the past, what makes the diverse forms of American roots music so great is that no one invented them. Rather, it is as if they emerged spontaneously from the earth, making their appearance in various human communities. The way I think of it, just as there are “celestial revelations” in the form of various authentic scriptures that have been vouchsafed to mankind, there are “earthly revelations” that emerge from the body and from our collective experience--not our ideological experience, but out of a much more primordial, archetypal matrix of universal human experience: man-woman relations, the clash between reality and our unlimited desires, and just the toil and trouble of day to day life. Roots music is very much existential, not ideological. And it is anything but politically correct.

Rather than thinking of the blues as an exclusively African American idiom, you might say that each American community developed its own form of the blues. Early country or "hillbilly" music is structurally and lyrically no different than the blues. Likewise, there is a more sophisticated form of blues that emerged when blacks migrated north to the big cities, reflecting a new urban sensibility instead of a rural one. I would even suggest that something like doo wop, the early form of a cappella rock that emerged from the streets of New York, was just another spontaneous form of blues reflecting its time and place.

Azlant notes that the ingredients of rock music “are all deeply rooted, traditional folk materials. Gospel is spiritual music; soul means the presence of belief and inspiration. To listen to The Soul Stirrers or the Dixie Hummingbirds, who would contribute basic elements and lead singers to R&B, is to listen to black fundamentalist Christian music. Country music is but a couple heartbeats from the old Celtic lyric and instrumental traditions that were preserved in America’s back country. To listen to C&W music is to listen to the Scots-Irish mountain music the Carter Family and Jimmy Rogers reworked and recorded. The Blues, while evolving from field hollers and work songs and containing the pain of servitude, derives much of its furious beauty through the tangled duplicities, angry melodramas, and tragic endings of the ancient war between men and women....”

However, “there is little in rock’s early ancestry to support a ‘progressive’ sensibility, hardly a sliver of grand historical perspective, little mention of a benevolent natural world, nary a social heaven on earth.” There is no Marxism, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, or queer theory in any of the tributaries that contribute to rock music.

The question is, “How does all this get so turned around, appropriated?” How and why did rock music get hijacked by moonbats? Unfortunately, Azlant’s article has yet to appear in its entirety, so I can only speculate.

One factor that readily comes to mind is the emotionality of rock music. There is no correlation whatsoever between musical virtuosity and rock & roll greatness. Bad, even unlistenable, rock music is routinely produced by highly schooled musicians (e.g., "progressive rock"), while most of the greatest rock music was produced by musical primitives--Elvis, John Lennon, John Fogerty, The Clash, Keith Richards. Likewise, lack of complexity is no barrier to producing transcendent rock music. Most of the greatest songs--say, Gloria, by Them--probably have only three chords, and some--like Eight Miles High, by the Byrds, or Tomorrow Never Knows, by the Beatles--have only one.

Therefore, since contemporary liberalism is largely rooted in feelings rather than the intellect, rock music emerges as its ideal medium. What could be easier than affixing a simplistic and primitive political message to a simplistic and primitive musical vehicle?

Still, it can get awfully tedious. I am a somewhat serious collector and amateur scholar of pop music trivia, and one of the most annoying aspects of this is wading through liner notes that routinely contain obnoxious and gratuitous political asides. For example, just a couple of days ago I picked up an otherwise outstanding compilation of R.E.M.’s early work on the independent IRS label between 1982 and 1987, long before they became such insufferable musical and political loads. I think this string of early albums is among the finest body of work produced by anyone in the annals of rock.

But the portentous and vacuous (yes, it is possible to be both) liner notes by rock critic Anthony DeCurtis are torture. To place the music in context, he writes that “the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 had marked a seismic shift in the political consciousness of the U.S. Compassion, community and the utopian dreams of the Sixties were out.” Yes, this awful reality had been foreshadowed by “the murder of John Lennon in December of 1980,” which “seemed a frightening premonition of the harsh, unforgiving world being born.”

Yeah, right. It's bad enough to get murdered by a psychotic nut, but Lennon had to go and get killed by someone who, for moonbats, represented a frightening symbol of Ronald Reagan. Talk about lack of perspective. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, “progressivism is deeply ahistorical, for it merely examines the now, pronounces that it does not like the now, and proposes radical policies to change the character of the now.” Can anyone with a shred of historical awareness even compare the world of the 1980’s to the harsh and unforgiving world reflected in early blues and country music of the 1940s? Whose fault was that? FDR?

But all was not lost with the ascendancy of Reaganism: “Suddenly, but in a quiet way, R.E.M. suggested a smarter, sweeter, more generous alternative.” This is such a pathetic analysis. I mean, back then I was as much an anti-Reagan moonbat as anyone else, but it never occurred to me that I enjoyed the music of R.E.M. because they were a “sweet alternative” to Ronald Reagan--or that Reagan was a "harsh alternative" to R.E.Mism, for that matter. Rather, I liked them because they were good. They were probably the best band to emerge from that decade, and I knew at once that their music--like all true art--had a universal and transcendent value, not some sort of time bound, ideological value. The latter type of didactic art is almost always disposable--think “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire. But if you listen to those early R.E.M. albums, they do not belong to any distinct time or place. They are very ambiguous, mysterious, and dreamlike, which is a big part of their charm.

And in fact, their fourth and fifth albums began to suffer because of the increasing politicization of band. (You can definitely say that the quality decreased as Michael Stipes' previously mysterious lyrics became increasingly intelligible.) Naturally, the morally preening left always describes the descent into mooonbattery in a self-congratulatory way, as an ascent into higher consciousness, “political awareness," or "social responsibility." Not coincidentally, this “ascent” marked the beginning of the slow descent of the music into pandering, mass-market arena rock. DeCurtis calls it their “sharpened political sensibility”: “By the mid-Eighties, Reaganism was in full swing," and Stipe, in particular, became determined to “summon a new generation to activist ideals" and "indict the failures of that ideology.” What failures would those be? Oh, for example, “environmental and Native American issues."

Again, the pretentiousness and lack of historical perspective are stunning. Blaming Reagan for “Native American issues?” What, they had no issues before Reagan became president? Ironically, primitive Native Americans most certainly had some serious environmental issues of their own, as they had no word for “environment,” much less “environmentalism,” and simply despoiled whatever environment they happened to inhabit before moving on the the next pristine campsite. And why no indictment of communism for producing Chernobyl? For that matter, why no indictment of Jimmy Carter's harsh and unforgiving (but progressive) economic policies, which produced a staggering 13.3% rate of inflation, usurious mortgage rates of 20%, and unemployment at 8%, not to mention a crime rate that increased 50% during the 1970’s?

Memo to Michael Stipe: the evolutionary journey from primitive kinship structures to the classical liberalism of Reagan is called “raising consciousness” or "gaining political awareness." Also known as "growing up," or "dealing with reality."

But in any event, don't let the bad liner notes and silly politics stop you from enjoying this superb music. Otherwise, it's as if the errorists have won.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Progressives: Marching Forward Into the Past (9.13.08)

Who can hope to obtain proper concepts of the present, without knowing the future? --Johann Georg Hamann

When we inquire into the meaning of history, facts alone cannot help us. This is because what we specifically wish to know is whether history means anything other than the numberless facts it leaves in its wake. As such, the meaning of history can only be found in the present, in an imaginative vision. But even that is not quite right, for we can only really understand the meaning of something by discerning where it is headed--by its direction and end.

As we have said before, this idea of history having a direction was a Judeo-Christian innovation, as all primitive and pagan cultures (including Islam) saw time as either a cyclical or degenerative process. But all of us in the west are so saturated with historical consciousness that we all believe in the directionality of history, even if we deny it.

For example, Josef Pieper writes, “Whoever says ‘historical development’ has already said and thought that history possesses an irreversible direction; this applies all the more to anyone who says ‘progress.’ In the most innocent use of the words ‘already’ and ‘still’ (‘the Greeks already knew...’)--such turns of phrase always contain the implication that history is leading up to something, that a particular state--of perfection or of impoverishment--is the end state.

“It therefore appears impossible to reflect upon history in a spirit of philosophical inquiry without at the same time inquiring, in some sense or other, as to the End. This question cannot be ‘left alone.’”

In the west we have two divergent political movements that would seem to define themselves in terms of their historical ends, “progressives” and “conservatives.” The progressive obviously believes in the a priori sanctity of the word “progress,” as if it is self-justifying. But there are many kinds of progress--for example, a progressive disease that has an inevitable end state called “death.” More often than not, what the progressive means by “progress” is merely change.

In a sense, progressivism is deeply ahistorical, for it merely examines the now, pronounces that it does not like the now, and proposes radical policies to change the character of the now. And this is why the policies so frequently end in disaster, for as Thomas Sowell has written, they never take the time to “think beyond stage one” and calculate the actual effect of their policies.

Welfare, for example, was a deeply “progressive” system. And yet, look at all the progress that has been made since it it was radically reformed a decade ago, thanks to “conservatives.” “Between 1965 and 1995 we spent more than $5 trillion on Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, while welfare rolls, chronic unemployment, and illegitimacy rates all steadily grew” (National Review, 9-11-06).

But since Clinton signed the Republican reform into law, “welfare rolls have shrunk by more than 60 percent, the number of poor children has fallen by 1.4 million, and illegitimacy rates have stopped growing. Black-child poverty is at its lowest in history.” In order to achieve this end, it was necessary to overcome the compassion (what Buddhists call "idiot compassion") of all the usual progressive suspects--academics, government bureaucrats, the media, liberal church groups, etc.--but “the poor are richer for it.”

But do conservatives get any credit for helping the poor? Of course not. Again, by hijacking the word “progress” and incorporating it into their very name, everything progressives do is.... progressive, no matter how regressive--high taxes, redefining marriage, multiculturalism, moral relativism, appeasing terrorists.

Conservatives--at least this conservative--are interested in conserving the very conditions that allow progress to occur (especially psycho-spiritual progress), while progressives simply assume those historically rare conditions and try to tinker with the outcome, both in the micro realm (e.g., the family) and the macro realm (economics, foreign policy).

When it comes to economics, for example, conservatives are interested in the conditions that allow for the creation of wealth to occur, whereas liberals simply assume that the wealth is there, and that it is merely a matter of fairly distributing it. But by doing so, they unwittingly undermine the very conditions that allow the creation of wealth to begin with. Likewise, by appeasing terrorists in the name of "peace," they undermine the most important condition of peace, which is f*** with us and you are dead.

We saw this backward approach to economics in its naked form in communist countries, but it it is also happening in virtually all of the socialist countries of western Europe, which have stagnant economies and cannot sustain their huge government outlays for various welfare programs. The more progressive they are, the further behind they fall.

Likewise, countries that have abandoned socialist doctrine, such as India and Israel, have experienced phenomenal growth (imagine what an economic and technological powerhouse tiny Israel would be if it didn’t have to exhaust so much of its resources defending itself from Islamic barbarians).

What is the real end of history? How do we measure actual progress? Again, progress-which is relative--can only be measured in terms of some absolute, whether it is explicit or implicit. In the purely horizontal world of secular progressives, I suppose it can mean only one thing--material equality, as if it were somehow possible for everyone to be above average. But by definition, half the population is below average in whatever it is you are measuring. Therefore, to enforce equality in the name of progress might be fine for the lamb but is tyranny for the lion. No wonder “job one” of the Democratic party is converting people into lambs, otherwise known as victims.

The most important victims for the Democratic party are blacks, for the Democrats would no longer be a viable party in something like 26 states if they did not garner 90% of the black vote. So naturally they were against welfare reform, for this reduces the number of victims that can be both created and rescued by progressives. It probably also explains why they are against school choice, for it is obviously neccessary to maintain an intellectually crippled population that adheres to "progressivism" even after biological maturity has occurred (for progressivism is probably a normal condition for the ahistorical and emotion-driven adolescent psyche--see dailykos... or me when I was a post-biological adolescent in need of a progressive doctrine to justify my lack thereof).

And this also explains the implicit--and sometimes explicit---alliance of progressives and Islamists, for “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Islamists wish to march backward into the future, while the left wishes to march forward into the past. Different route, same end. Especially after the Islamist allahgator eats the progressives last. And then sheds q'rocodile tears.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More Thoughts on Metahistory and the Cosmic Path to 9-11

All our destinies are interwoven; and until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

I was trying to place the controversy of the 9-11 movie in a larger context, when I thought of the great historian Christopher Dawson, who made the provocative and yet axiomatic assertion that being an eye witness to history is of no consequence whatsoever to historical insight. Obviously, most of us lived through the Clinton years, so we think we know what happened. We were there. But were we really, at least historically?

Dawson uses the example of the Battle of Hastings, which every British schoolchild evidently knows: “A visitor from another planet who witnessed the Battle of Hastings would possess far greater knowledge of the facts than any modern historian, yet this knowledge would not be historical knowledge for lack of any tradition to which it could be related; whereas the child who says ‘William the Conqueror 1066’ has already made his atom of knowledge a historical fact by relating it to a national tradition and placing it in the time-series of Christian culture.”

Similarly, an eye witness to the crucifixion of Jesus would have undoubtedly taken as much notice of the two criminals who were crucified beside him. Only in hindsight was the centrality of Jesus’ death recognized. It is fair to say that no one who witnessed it thought to themselves, “Hmm, interesting. This is the center and still point of history. Yesterday was BC. Tomorrow will be AD.”

As Dawson writes, “Behind the rational sequence of political and economic cause and effect, hidden spiritual forces are at work which confer on events a wholly new significance. The real meaning of history is something entirely different from that which the human actors in the historical drama themselves intend or believe.” A contemporary observer cannot have imagined that “the execution of an obscure Jewish religious leader in the first century of the Roman Empire would affect the lives and thoughts of millions who never heard the names of the great statesmen and generals of the age.”

Thus, there is an unavoidably eschatological aspect of history. Events cannot be fully understood without reference to their finality, that is, what they point toward and reveal only in the fullness of time. As Dawson says, “The pure fact is not as such historical. It only becomes historical when it can be brought in relation with a tradition so that it can be part of an organic whole.” Another historian, Dermot Quinn, writes that “The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks a meaning of its own.”

Therefore, in order to be a proper historian, you had better have your story right. And what is the story? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? For it is fair to say that left and right are operating under the umbrella of vastly different stories--politically, culturally, economically, psychologically, theologically, and in just about every other -ally way.

If history involved nothing more than the accumulation of facts, it would be of no use to us. Detail alone does not constitute history, any more than randomly played notes constitute harmony and melody. Only by knowing what history is for can we know what is of importance in history. Since history as it happens consists of unique and unrepeatable events, it is unintelligible unless bound into a larger scheme of order.

As Quinn puts it, “Randomness has no meaning. Yet to give meaning to events in time is to remove them from time itself, to deny them the singularity that makes them historical.” Likewise, as the philosopher Michael Polanyi argued, to see meaning beyond the local is to see it in the local. A fact does not and cannot speak for itself. Depending on your nonlocal understanding of history, you will see completely different facts and regard them very differently.

For Dawson, it was the incarnation of Christ that gave history its center and therefore significance: “Viewed from this center the history of humanity became an organic unity. Eternity had entered into time and henceforward the singular and temporal had acquired an eternal significance. The closed circle of time had been broken and a ladder had been let down from heaven to earth by which mankind could escape from the ‘sorrowful wheel’ which had cast its shadow over Greek and Indian thought, and go forward in newness of life to a new world.” On the other hand, people outside the Judeo-Christian tradition tended “to solve the problem of history by a radical denial of its significance."

Thus, Dawson admits his metahistorical prejudice at the outset. And whether they admit it or not, all historians operate under a similar “metahistory.” Without one, they could not “see” or imagine history at all. I know I have my own metahistory. It is outlined in my book, where I did my best to take into consideration all of the facts of existence--scientific, biological, psychological, anthropological, historical, and theological--and weave them into a tapestry of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution. Based on this model, I know what is of historical significance to me. It is those things that either facilitate or impede the cosmic evolution of which human consciousness is the leading edge.

In ether worlds, I attempted to place history in the ultimate context, for in the absence of an ultimate context, secular history really is a dark prison from which there is no hope of escape: “It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanisms that have been constructed for living in the dark become useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom” (Dawson).

The radically secular culture of the left can only exist by keeping us in the dark. So don’t ever be surprised when they attack the Light.

When the prophets are silent and society no longer possesses any channel of communication with the divine world, the way to the lower depths is still open and man's frustrated spiritual powers will find their outlet in the unlimited will to power and destruction. --Christopher Dawson