Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Alice Miller is dead.

You may not know much about her, but she played her part in getting Us all to the point We’re at now.

She was a psychologist, German born, and in her 87 years she lived through the era of the Third Reich.

In 1981 she published a book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child” (it had originally been entitled “Prisoners of Childhood”). Among her other titles were “For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence” and “Thou Shalt Not Be Unaware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child”.

They came at a very interesting time. Nationally, the radical feminist agenda (which became the stream of feminism that organized itself along the lines of revolutionary cadres and ‘went to Washington’) was looking for ever-expanding ways to ‘deconstruct’ social and cultural mores and the institutions that supported them, in order to extend their zero-sum game of making room for ‘women’ (thereby conducting political hostilities not only against ‘men’ but against the culture and civilization that ‘dead white European males’ had – over the course of two and half millennia – managed to put together in the teeth of humanity’s dark and bloody foibles).

And standing smack dab in the revolution’s giddy but gimlet-eyed path was the Family – with its distribution of labor organized around the raising of children and the transmission of such culture as Western humanity and its American variant had managed to achieve. Oh, and to prepare them for adulthood by helping children to master their powers and achieve – the word was better known then – Maturity.

The Family was – even more than ‘religion’ – a target: it represented Cultural Authority, and the responsibilities that it imposed cramped the style of ‘women’ who should be free to go out and have fun having a job and making guy-money. (Which dampdream, in the event, was undercut over the years as the ‘industrial base’ that provided the cash was undermined in another ‘success’ of the conflicting and incoherent radical feminist programme – but I digress.)

Since the 1960s and even before that, the increasing corps of ‘child experts’ and ‘child psychologists’ had been urging American parents to forego ‘authority’ and be more ‘therapists’ to their kids.* Parents’ authority over their families was to be considered more in ‘contractual’ terms – with the kids as parties to the contract (if not actually ‘consumers' of their parents’ services).

The objective for parents was no longer to make sure that – to the extent it is ever possible – kids could be raised to be ‘good’ and not ‘bad’, but rather that the the kids be ‘happy’ and not ‘unhappy’.

Nor do I hold any brief for making kids genuinely unhappy. But the task of mastering one’s human impulses – given the stunningly wide moral range of human impulses, and some of them dark if not also bloody – means that you have to learn to say No to some of those impulses, and in the beginning that some older human with the authority to do so says No to you.

Otherwise, you wind up reaching the age of legal majority unable to say No to yourself in a lot of instances where you really should – for your own as well as everybody else’s good . And when THAT happens, then the government police-power has to step in and be a ‘parent’ – perhaps a Nanny – to you, and then you wind up with an unripe and immature Citizenry in need of a Parent – which is hell and gone from the Constitutional and Founding vision. Although perhaps that is now becoming clear to Us.

Unless you are a financier and are making bets with other folks’ money and getting paid a sinfully huge salary to do so … but again, let me not digress.

Perhaps understandably, but also stunningly, her core assumptions were shaped by … the Holocaust.

This might not be as ground-breaking as it seems. In her seminal feminist tract of 1963, Betty Friedan had compared being a ‘housewife’ to being imprisoned at Dachau – a repugnantly ignorant (and insensitive as well as un-informed) piece of agitprop trumpeting that never received the opprobrium it so richly deserved.

Miller, speaking now on the basis of expertise comprised of the fact that she had been alive during the era and read some stuff, asserted in the accents of seasoned scholarship that “I have not been able to find a single [death-camp official at any level] who did not have a strict and rigid upbringing”.

The ‘logic’ of that assertion thus being that if you had a strict and rigid upbringing then you were automatically prepped to be an official of the death-camp regime.

Which is a chunk of Swiss cheese from hell, rationally and logically speaking. Thus that the death-camp regime – if not also the Holocaust itself (she wasn’t really interested in pursuing the thought) was the result of a strict familial upbringing. And therefore (if you want to keep up the polite pretense of her logicality) that strict familial upbringing guaranteed more Holocausts, as well as kept millions of children in the status of death-camp inmates. Indeed, Hitler himself had grown up in a 19th century, semi-rural Austrian family of strict up-bringing.**

It shouldn’t have taken a college student with more than an Intro course in Critical Thinking to see through the gaping holes in the whole thing.

But it was a revolution and anybody who struck the rightand Correct ‘note’ was bound to be welcomed aboard and – as the media like to say – ‘hailed’.

Both Hitler and Rudolf Hoess (SS commandant of Auschwitz) had been “trained to be obedient so successfully and at such an early age that the training never lost its effectiveness”. So then: simply learning “obedience” was going to lead to Hitler and the death-camps (and the morally frakkulent adults such as the SS camp command staffs). You can see where Miller was offering nothing less than authoritative catnip to the cadres.

That the West – and surely the Church – had always taught that ‘loyalty’ and ‘obedience’ are only as good as the Cause to which you give your loyalty and obedience … this did not detain Miller or the cadres. Indeed, such facts would ‘obstruct’ the Right Order of the Revolution and were therefore un-Correct. And was even “backlash” (although how a teaching that pre-existed the revolutionary agenda by millennia could be labeled as nothing more than a “backlash” response … well, go figure).

And so training kids to be “obedient” was erased, and the parental authority necessary to achieve that along with it. Marvelous.

"The Holocaust would have been impossible without this sort of upbringing”, she said. Of course, the Holocaust wouldalso not have been possible if those future-death-camp staffers were not fed as children, so perhaps feeding kids is complicit in the Holocaust as well. But that would have been, in the 1980s in America, thinking too much. Perhaps it still is.

But not to mire herself in the past, she also asserted that “60% of German terrorists in recent years have been the children of Protestant ministers”. So ‘religion’ as well as "obedience" are also causes of the Holocaust and of ‘terrorism’ [as it was defined in the 1970s and early 1980s in Europe]. The catnip is being mixed with industrial-grade alcohol and the cadres can party-hearty with a revolutionary abandon! Wheeeee!


So, as Hunter notes, in Miller’s view and in her phrasing, “the traditional middle-class family can be characterized as ‘the prototype of a totalitarian regime’”. You can see where a liberty-loving, red-blooded American Beltway literally leaped to the empowering assistance of ‘governance feminism’ in the late 1980s and the 1990s (especially once Bill and Hilary presided sensitively and responsively in the White House). It wasn’t for the votes, dear Citizens; it was for liberty and to prevent another Holocaust. ***

Good frakking grief.

Miller channeled Freud: the trouble was with ‘pedagogy’ – with child-rearing by authoritative adults itself. There is, she said, a power-struggle between children and adults, and given their powerlessness, the kids would always lose. This tied right in with Identity Politics and its demand that the previously ‘silenced’ be given a voice, while simultaneously undermining Family and any pesky concepts of Maturity. It was all political; the personal was political; the personal – I would add – was ONLY political.

That was the Flattening and lethal substrate of the whole revolution: it was anti-Family, anti-Constitutional, and – not to put too fine a point on it – crushingly anti-human. In 1984 We were heading toward “1984”, and not simply from the Right.

As with so many of these whackulous ideas of those days, they were denied a deserved spot in the corner of scholarly thought reserved for ideological and academic eccentricities because they were taken up by the media. And in this case the ‘elite’ media: PBS ran a documentary miniseries hosted by one John Bradshaw entitled “The Family”. Its core question: How could Hitler happen?

And you know what the answer was.

The rules of ‘obedience’ and ‘submission’ to authority held sway, intoned Bradshaw, in “96 percent of American families” (appreciate here that ‘scientific’ statistical evidence) and so it wasn’t just a “German” problem. Any times parents exerted authority, they were yielding to being “authoritarian” ... and brewing another Holocaust.

All I will say here is that the children of those mid-1980s are now walking around as fully-accredited adults. And, by status if not competence, as Citizens.

Hunter notes – and not at all irrelevantly – that Bradshaw and others went on to set up a brisk cottage-industry in Self-Help and 12-Step type stuff for parents and for former children who now had to re-parent and self-parent themselves.


And that’s where We are now, isn’t it?


*For an extended discussion of Miller and the era, see James Davison Hunter’s “The Death of Character” at pages 95-7, though the whole book is worth a read. Perhaps if you still have a job and it gives a paid vacation and you can afford to go to a beach and lie around for a week or two this summer. And can afford the book in the first place (my copy is a $17 paperback).

**I can’t resist: if strict family upbringing results in ‘Hitler’, and such an outrageous method of child-rearing is almost universal in Western culture and has been for some centuries, then shouldn’t we ‘logically’ have had innumerable Hitlers rather than just the one? Of course, the quick Correct response is that the West is indeed bethumped by many Hitlers, and they are called ‘men’ – after which the congregation may cheeribly retire to the buffet table for Chardonnay and salad. Ah, those were the days, my friend!

***I won’t go into it here, but kindly note the deployment of ‘the Holocaust card’ in all of this; that trope had migrated from foreign affairs and – doubtless because its success there made such an impression upon them – been taken up by the cadres of revolution in Our domestic politics. Oy.

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Doonesbury, the venerable but edgy comic strip, has been running a mini-series on Sarah Palin. I won’t go into the details.

Today’s episode has the Palin-esque character trumpeting a series of blasts: death panels, fine troops losing coverage plans, the IRS taking non-compliant citizens to jail.

The cartoon owl – representing something along the lines of rationality, knowledge, reasonableness, wisdom and (gasp!) Maturity generally – points out to her that “None of what you say is even remotely true”.

To which the Palin character replies: “So? Who GIVES a hoot?”


It doesn’t matter if what you say is true or not – since ‘truth’ isn’t the object of the exercise. What you want to do is simply whip people up and start the stampede in the direction you want it to go.

This isn’t at core a ‘conservative’ (or ‘liberal’) or ‘Republican’ (or ‘Democrat’) sorta thing.

No. At core this is nothing more than a restatement of one of the fundamental maxims of propagandistic agitprop – as practiced by the revolutionary agitators of the early Communist era, but brought to sharply honed perfection by Josef Goebbels (aka ‘The Poison Dwarf’ to his Nazi colleagues, though never to his face).

Goebbels had drawn a great deal of his thinking from his boss’s magnum opus “Mein Kampf”, but both of them had picked up a lot of ideas from Eduard Bernays, the Swiss thinker who provided much of the underpinning of early-20th century American advertising . And perhaps Bernays picked it up from watching the early Bolsheviks, and from Gustav Le Bon’s 1896 work on the emotional volatility of ‘crowds’ – you can see where ‘things’ have histories, even ‘ideas’.

So Goebby wanted not only to ‘sell’ Nazism and its agenda, but to manipulate and control his country’s public opinion into supporting the frakkulent Third Reich in all its pomps and all its works.

In his game-book: you don’t want to ‘persuade’ or ‘convince’ people; you wanted to move the whole dynamic out of their advanced ‘human’ brains and move it into their emotional ‘animal’ brains. (Which also goes to show you what so-called elite manipulators think of ordinary ‘people’ and thus of ‘Citizens’ and ‘The People’ – it’s all a useless and inefficient costume party where you have dressed up animals in the rights of masterful human beings … and the role of animals is to be saddled, herded, and if need be stampeded; and the role of the masterful ‘real’ humans is to lord it over the sub-humans … charming. Also rather anti-Constitutional, if that thought hasn’t yet occurred to you.)

This playbook was deployed – suitably ‘baptized’ by the high and good intentions of the vote-addled Dems – by the ‘revolutionary’ advocacies of the late 1960s and early 1970s here: after all, when you’re not after ‘reform’ – especially through the slow and uncertain process of public deliberation – then the best way to get people to go along with you is to do an end-run around their ability to think, and simply keep them continually whipped up emotionally.

And you do that with all the ‘Correct’ images and sound-bites and ‘stories’, and by making sure that a friendly (if not controlled) press makes sure that no un-Correct alternative information, opinion, or explanations gets out into the public arena.

This is what agitprop is all about. This is what agitprop does.

The country has been ‘scared’ since the beginning of the Cold War. Indeed, one of Truman’s advisers told him back there in the late 1940s that if Harry wanted to make the United States the focal leader of the non-Communist world, then Harry would “have to scare the hell out of the American people” – because otherwise they’d really just like to get on with their lives and not have to be going into overseas wars again.

But there was always a strong Liberal element in the country that stood against irrationality, untruth, and the repression of free speech by the Communist-addled Right. McCarthy tried the agitprop approach but it didn’t last long.

But in the late 1960s the vote-addled Dems – having pulled the rug out from under the New Deal era alliance of Southern Jim Crow and northern industrial workers and mid-West farmers – accepted the Mao-addled ‘revolutionaries’ when they insisted that agitprop could be ‘baptized’ into a ‘good’ cause.

Nobody was really ready for the wholesale introduction of agitprop over here from the Left, from the ‘Liberal’ side, under the guise of ‘liberation’ and mere ‘reform’. Yes, there had been some acute insight into the manipulative excesses of ‘advertising’ (especially when combined with ‘television’), and everybody realized that McCarthy’s ‘Red-baiting’ was somehow a scam. But those had been elements of the corporations and the Right – and you sorta expected that. And thanked God that – as had been true since 1933 – the Democrats were looking out for ‘the common man’ and ‘the little guy’.

Alas, the Dems of 1966 and certainly 1968 and subsequently, had hoped to replace their Southern losses by adding ‘women’ to ‘guys’ – only to find that the radical feminists had conceived a zero-sum game: in order to ‘get’ the ‘women’ (or the votes of as many real women as the radical feminists might actually control) the Dems would have to accept and support a zero-sum ‘war’ against ‘men’ – although politely abstracted as ‘patriarchy’. And against ‘white’ men – as a political nod to the ‘black vote’. And against ‘white working men’ – as a way of preparing the ground for a post-industrial culture that was too thoroughly built around ‘men’ to be of much use in the New Feminist Order.*

So things continued through the 1970s. The infection spread virulently: the Republicans by the later 1970s were adapting the same game-book. Their ‘moderate Eastern Establishment’ types were shunted aside in the zero-sum game to make room for a reach-out a new ‘base’, the hitherto (and not inappropriately) marginalized whackery of American Fundamentalism, a religious approach that united an emphasis on ‘feeling’ (or, more nobly, ‘spirit’) rather than ‘reason’.

AND on top of that, absent any larger organization (such as the American Catholics had in the Universal Church) upon which to rely, the Fundamentalists had the ominous tendency to ‘sacralize’ the national government (so lethally similar to Russian Orthodoxy’s theological self-submission to the Russian Throne).

The Fundamentalists anchored themselves in this world by appointing themselves the chaplainry of the national government. Which, they ‘reasoned’ or 'felt', was only right and proper since the national government was the incarnation of God’s Will on earth (not only so lethally similar to both Imperial Russian Orthodoxy and Imperial Japanese Shinto, but also so profoundly anti-Constitutional and – being hell and gone from the vision of the Founders – frankly un-American). And of course there's that curious "imperial" connection.**


Though let Us pause for a moment to remember that great Democrat who bipartisanly combined Concern for Liberty with Jingoism, who didn’t need ‘facts’ or ‘thinking’ to justify stretching forth the nation’s arm into large-scale overseas military adventure: Woodrow Wilson, who said – contemplating a military rather than a diplomatic role in World War 1 – “There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it doesn’t have to prove to the world that it is right”. Of course, he did it for ‘Liberty’, and for a while, indeed, he was greeted as a liberator. But then the consequences started to make themselves obvious.

So now both national Parties had given themselves whole-hog to the agitprop presumption that ‘feeling’ and not ‘reason’ must be the driving force of politics.

Which, not to put too fine a point on it, tied in nicely both with the feminist effort to valorize feminine ‘feeling’ and ‘intuition’ over masculine ‘rationality’ and ‘thinking’ and also with the Fundamentalist theological valorization of ‘feeling’ and ‘spirit’.

Thinking, evidence, actual facts – none of them counted for anything any longer.

And here We are.


*Alas, the radical feminists and their Dem (and later Republican) supporters made Shylock’s Mistake: you can’t get rid of an industrial culture without getting rid of the industry itself … so today We see that Shakespeare was right and now We have no manufacturing capacity left. And how many of the Citizens are actually formed by any sense of personal ‘industry’ in the broad and classical sense … well, Industry in that sense was a Virtue, and Virtue – no matter how traditional, reasonable, and vital to human fulfillment – had to be jettisoned in the zero-sum game in order to clear a path for the New Order as well.

**Of course, things never remain static. There is now "humanitarian intervention" and "humanitarian partnering", whereby the American nation now considers itself empowered by Whatever to impose its enlightened post-1968 New Cultural Order on any resource-rich nation not able to reject such importunings. (Which 'vision' is an eerie simulacrum of the oh-so-demonized male sex-offender forcing his attentions on unwilling or less-strong women - funny how the night moves.)

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


A photo from Vermont captures it all: a 120-pound bear with its head stuck in a large metal milk can, running around the forest, bumping into rocks and trees.

I had previously described the Beltway as Monty Python’s King Arthur and his knights, pretend-galloping around the Dark Age woods of oulde Britain, faithful servants making clip-clop noises by rhythmically banging hollow coconut halves together.

But the bear-in-the-can takes its place as equally useful. And accurate.

Having gotten its head into the treasure-pot, the creature gorged on the milk or cream, swelling itself in the process until the head could no longer be extracted. Gorged, effectively blinded, and having swollen to the point where it can no longer easily back out of its agenda, the creature agitatedly races around, reduced to increasingly frenzied action.

Humans, of course, are a little higher up the ladder (yes, Virginia, there IS a great Ladder of Being): they are capable of far more evolved levels of behavior and (yes, Virginia, there IS a soul and a Beyond) even sin. Altogether a far more dangerous species.

This is especially so since humans, being social animals themselves, can operate in packs, conceiving and executing their plans – for good or ill – with a level of strategic competence that leaves the tactically marvelous wolves in the dust.

The Beltway has spent the past forty years feasting on a food plan consisting of pandering to Big Pain and Big Money, engorging itself to its current swollen position, and irretrievably stuck inside what is now an empty can – only a Boomer could have sustained such a self-gorging life-plan for so long on the childishly magical assumption that the cream would magically keep replenishing itself (rather a Biblical magic for so secular and ‘liberated’ a bunch).

But the can is empty now, and as any sober human observer might have advised the bear.

But bears don’t often take advice well, especially when they are gorging and being advised to exercise a little self-control.

And, the Beltway being human – although demonstrating that Animal Farm ability to indulge the porcine (and the ursine) – has deeper and more serious problems. Problems which stem from its schemes and from its overall decades-long Strategy: it now has to keep a whole country-full of citizens somehow under the illusion that it knows what it’s doing and has not gotten itself – and them – into one frakking hell of a mess.

Because the can held not just some freebie extra magical milk or cream that happened to be lying around. No, the can held the entire national supply of cream. The Beltway Bear was simply supposed to administer it on behalf of everyone else: the Bear’s authority and position, famously, existed precisely because it was “of the People, by the People, for the People”.

But, human nature being what it is, the Bear convinced itself that what was good for the Bear was good for the People. It had gotten the idea from General Motors, but long after that corporate entity had faded, along with many of its peers, the Bear figured that the business of America was simply paper-shuffling, and since the cream would restore itself magically every night ad infinitum, like the Biblical widow’s grain and oil when blessed by the prophet, the country – with the Bear slurping mightily on its behalf – would retain the favor of a God that officially – alas – could not be acknowledged.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It was a hell of a ride while it lasted.

The business of the country will now consist of telling the young what a Camelot of cream it once was.

Hopefully enough of the Boomers and the Me-generation that followed them were taking notes.

Because now – as was said of the fabled Reich in the early 1940s as the cream ran out and the shrinking remainder curdled – “in Germany in 1943 it was better listening to music than to news”.

I have taken the Dems to task on this site. Not because I am a ‘Republican’ but because I consider it the work of the Citizen to Kick government Tire, just to make sure. And – governments in power being what they are – the task is eternal, so to speak.

And the great Used Car that has slyly been offered to Us for decades is the idea that ‘revolutions’ can be ‘liberal’ and merely reformist and progress-bearing (‘progressive’ is now become a buzz word signifying nothing). Whereas the greatest practitioners of the dark arts of Impatient revolution (not the Patient, Constitutional, American-Founding kind) have always said that “it is not a tea party”, that “eggs must be broken to make the omelette”, and that its power – ultimately – “flows from the barrel of a gun”.

Once Violence and its car-full of colleagues – Untruth, Deceit, Deception, Illusion and Delusion, as well as Wrack and Ruin and those Four Horsemen who for eons have managed to keep professionally employed despite the long-deferral of their marquis and signature Operation, the much-ballyhooed Apocalypse – are unleashed, then the Kicking of the Tire of that awesome Vehicle becomes a moral as well as a political necessity.

Human lives, and lives lived as genuinely human, are – after all – at stake.

But let me offer you a slightly larger and longer focus.

Walter Karp – writing about American domestic politics and foreign policy in the 1970s and 1980s (he died early, in 1989) – went back to the seminal era of the thirty years 1890 to 1920. His 1979 book “The Politics of War” is recently back in print. For anybody with the leisure and the price of it, contemplating a little summer reading (a trope hearking back to the era of solid employment and paid vacation, I admit), the book is an absorbing and lively read. It will repay the effort of reading a hundred-fold.

In those days it was the Republicans who were the national Party in Power. The Democrats had backed the wrong side in the Civil War and lost; worse, their ‘Party’ was simply a congeries of local ‘rings’ and ‘machines’ – often holding position and pursuing plans incompatible with each other when not actually opposed to the agendas of Democratic operatives in other parts of the country.

The Republicans by 1890 had become fat, dumb, and happy merely coasting on the marvelous performance of their forebears of mid-century: under the truly world-historical Lincoln they had held the country together, eliminated slavery (although the thing had been allowed to go to ground and come back as Jim Crow), and furthered the early-19th century American dream of industrialization.

The Democrats, saddled with their lingering but essential connections to the Southern wing of their Party – that former Confederacy that sought to cling to its fabled Old South even more delusionally resolute in defeat than even they had in the salad days of the antebellum era (and those first heady years of the Civil War until Gettysburg and Vicksburg sealed their fate in the space of a July 4th holiday in 1863) – could only hope to keep some semblance of local organizational unity and keep on keeping on.

Consequently, he notes, their basic national ‘plan’ was – candidly – to “do nothing”. The Democratic Party –such as it was – simply sought to preside in tatterly and hardly splendorous stasis over a congeries of sub-groupings far too incompatible to make any workable comprehensive program. Karp quotes Republican House speaker Tom Reed, who opined (in that marvelous 19th century American combination of education and simple shrewdness) that the Democrats were “a party struggling with its own inertia and mistaking it for the Constitution”.

The Republicans would be vigorous and effective. And the Constitution would have to get used to it.

But, Karp notes with shrewd and marvelous acuity, by the late 1870s the young Industrialization of the 1810s and the antebellum era had grown into the monstrously powerful Industrial Era (its passage into awesome adulthood forged in the Civil War’s jaw-dropping exertions and expansions, putting into the field and sustaining armies the size and supply of which the Western world had never before seen).

And the Citizenry was beginning now to notice that the fruits of that Industrialization were not flowing somewhat unvexed to the entire country, but rather were becoming verrrry concentrated in the hands of the great industrial and corporate chieftains. And in the hands of the Republican politicians whose Party dominated the country’s domestic politics.

But in 1890, the State and Congressional elections administered a sharp and shocking rebuke to the Republicans, and with a rather nasty depression in progress, the sharper eyes and minds of the Republican Party realized that something was going to have to be done. The world was changing, the country’s mood was changing – and too many of the citizen-herd were becoming restive.

Questions were being asked, and in all the wrong places ... which is to say, by the citizens: Why did such a vigorous economy have such a deflated currency – of advantage primarily to “New York bankers”? Why did the industrialists benefit from special legislation that enriched them while Midwest farm prices fell? Why were monopolies allowed to continue in existence? Why did a few private banking-houses in New York control the nation’s credit while land (there was not yet an income tax) bore the brunt of taxes? (See Karp at page 7).

It was decided that a little distraction in the form of foreign muscle-flexing would be the very thing to bleed off the excess pressure building up in domestic politics. And also feed the Industrial gentlefolk – the impolitely but accurately named Robber Barons of Twain’s Gilded Age (the First one, that is – We have just recently seen the end of the Second) – by forcibly expanding America’s markets and influence overseas.

And this would have the added third advantage of proving once and for all to everybody that only the Republicans were a truly national Party with a national Program (the Democrats would not achieve this status until FDR’s first administration in 1933).

Hawaii was chosen as the first run-out of the programme. With this relative baby-step the American public would be enticed and lulled into the entirely alien idea of America reaching out into the colonial adventures of the ‘Old World’, subjecting other peoples, taking control of their resources, and subordinating their land and affairs to the requirements of American (or at least Washington’s and the Republicans’) interests.

So much benefit – so little cost. What was not to like?

The Great Powers of Europe realized quickly that something was up – really really up. By the end of 1892, contrary to all historical practice going back to the nation’s Founding, all of the ‘legations’ they maintained in Washington were replaced by full-scale ‘embassies’ and ambassadors.

In January, 1893 Hawaii’s royal government was undermined and overthrown by a coterie of American plantation elements, and the ‘government’ effected by the coup was quickly recognized by Washington.

In 1898, as Spain – its once gloried Empire now in the final stages of decline – was trying to maintain its grip on Cuba , the McKinley Administration, claiming it was merely bowing to the force of events and powerless, really, to do otherwise, intervened by declaring war on Spain in order, ostensibly, to liberate the Cubans from the brutal foreign oppression of Spain.

Take that for what it was worth.

But Karp points out that while the nation’s focus was on Cuba, which had always been of interest to the country since the days when Southerners tried to row those few 90 miles over there to make it another Slave State, the real money (and, if I may, the ‘real men’) were going to the Philippines. It was Spain’s substantial possessions in the far Pacific that made war with her so irresistibly attractive.

The proof of it – and here Karp gives the lie to all the blather about ‘liberation’ – was that when Admiral Dewey defeated the ramshackle Spanish squadron in Manila Bay, thinking that he was in the Philippines merely to help ‘liberate’ them from Spain, he generously provided naval transport to the Philippine rebels over to Manila so they could finish off the now-trapped Spainish military forces and set up their own government.

When McKinley read Dewey’s by-the-by telegram he went through the roof. Because while the country’s attention was focused on Cuba and Teddy Roosevelt’s publicity-gobbling antics, McKinley had quietly embarked a force of 10,000 American troops – the largest overseas force the country had ever dispatched - to the Philippines as a force of occupation. America does not liberate out of charity; and she was coming to the far Pacific to stay. The natives – and the Constitution – would have to get used to it.

Dewey quickly found himself sidetracked; the commander of the troops would be the overall American commander. As far as Washington was concerned, with the defeat of the Spanish there was now no Philippine government, and the US Army would perform the charitable tasks of Christian enlightenment and civilization; the natives – interacting with the Spanish since the height of their imperial power four hundred years before – were presumably un-christianized and un-civilized. *

In the event, the Filipinos were not at all pleased with the Americans’ changing the rules in the middle of the game; it took a frightfully stubborn and vicious jungle war – led on the Filipino side by Emilio Aguinaldo – that lasted for several years, in which the frontier violence of America’s Indian War era – then just over – was intensified exponentially (with indelible experiences imprinted on the Army as an organization and on the troops themselves). And all this long before the full force and authority of the Marine Corps stormed ashore on Red Beach at Da Nang on 8 March 1965 – to be greeted by native females bearing scented leis and a South Vietnamese military brass band.

Also in the event, the light at the end of the tunnel was only reached and the Filipino (pick one: insurrection, resistance, rebellion, insurgency) gutted when its resourceful (pick one: insurgent, patriot, rebel) commander was invited into Army lines for a talk under a flag of truce and forthwith ‘captured’. Huzzah!

One is reminded of Zachary Taylor’s reflections when he was assigned – before his Mexican War victories – to Florida, where the process of ‘pacifying’ the natives was underway: “An officer who has any regard for honesty, truth, or humanity has but little to gain, and everything to lose”.

In those 30 years from 1890-1920, America, fresh from the frontier wars in the West and Southwest, and true to the Republican plans, would continue to engage herself – and distract and entertain her populace – with a series of adventures: excluding the ‘peaceful’ annexation of Hawaii (to the extent that treachery can ever truly be considered not to be an act of violence), America would fight Spain and then Germany and the Central Powers; send Pershing into Mexico; fight the brutal Philippine whatever; come close to war with both Chile and Great Britain (the Anglo-Venezuelan Dispute – google it); and intervene forcibly in Latin America (the Marines again) – and if you add another decade onto the thing, until the early 1930s, the Latin American stuff just kept on keeping on with the Banana Wars.

So I am an equal-opportunity Tire-Kicker, as We should all be.**

And Karp ranks as one of the most accomplished and valuable such folk dedicated to that cause, whose efforts have thus far so nobly advanced it.

A century and a bit later, and We are faced now with the bear with its (not to say ‘his’) head in the can.

The night is moving. And for Us, it will not be funny at all.

And in that regard, let Us pause for a moment of silent reflection on one of the lesser-known (in the West) results of Mao's Great Cultural Revolution, that 10-year orgy (1966-1976) which provided such informative example to American's own 'revolutions' starting in the late 1960s: after a decade of unleashing the youth and the younger, more rabid members of the Chinese Communist Party against not only the whole of Chinese culture (Confucius himself took a major hit) but also against the older and by-then more 'mature' ruling members of the Party itself, Mao died, leaving a government so politically fractured, factionalized, and ideologically paralyzed that the Army - the People's Liberation Army - had to step in to sort out the Party factions and get things back on an even keel (to the extent the phrase can apply).

Take that to prayer, while you're lying on the beach with Karp.

The local fire department and animal control folks tranquilized the bear and helpfully cut the can off, freeing the gorged and dizzy beast to continue his perambulations unhindered and unvexed.

But when a government has gotten itself in such a situation, what 'fire department' or animal-control service can there be?


*One cannot help but recall the Israeli pieties, bleated and brayed 50 years later, that they arrived in Palestine to find it, miraculously, empty, uncivilized, and simply begging for somebody to develop it. Funny how it all moves.

**Let me point out what I have often said on this site: the role of feminist-inspired 'victimism' doubly insulates the government from having its Tires Kicked.

First, it is axiomatic in victimist dogma that the victim must be believed and that to question his/her assertions is tantamount to 'denying the victim's pain' and to 're-victimizing the victim'; and this instantly (and so slyly and conveniently) short-circuits any of that skepticism that is utterly essential to political or juridical (as in courts and juries) examination of assertions that may well demand a significant deployment - and often extension - of governments' intrusive power over the lives of Citizens, especially those 'accused' of this or that.

Second, the government - cast in the victimist script as the Hero who will rescue the endangered 'innocent' (as in the old-time silent movies: the girl, the bad guy, tied to the tracks, the train, and so forth) - cannot be questioned skeptically because - well - it's the Hero, and you don't question the Hero (as every movie-goer knoweth full well). You can see immediately how in victimist dogma and scripting the government is directly absolved and protected from any skeptical review at all - you either support the government or, in the childish reasoning of this cartoonish scripting, you are 'for' the bad guy.

In an eerie symmetry, the Republican domestic political strategy of the post-Civil War era mirrors the feminist-victimist strategy of the post-Vietnam era: in the later 1800s the Republicans, whenever challenged, would ‘wave the Bloody Shirt’, i.e. remind the challengers that it was they – the Republicans – who had sustained the War for the Union and that out of respect for the memory of the Civil War dead (drafted in death as Republicans) the Party could not be doubted or challenged.

In the feminist-victimist era – though, tellingly, in not quite so active a mode – the Democratic Party waves the ‘pain of the Victim’, in the face of which it would be disrespectful to doubt or challenge.

The more things change …

And equally ominously, the gelatinous spread of ‘sensitivity protocols’ in speech are now being co-opted to stifle objection to government policies and actions. What started out as a nice enough project to prevent certain minorities from being ‘embarrassed’ and then ‘harassed’ and then ‘oppressed’ and then ‘harmed’ and then ‘assaulted’ by ‘hate speech’ (each step a dangerous extension beyond the previous one). This dynamic would be bad enough when it was confined to citizen-to-citizen interactions.

But when government co-opts the trope to stifle objections to its programs (especially in their more dangerous or negative potentials) you find that what was ‘hate speech’ against individuals can become ‘disloyal’ or ‘terroristical’ or ‘terrorism-supportive’ when such objections or challenges are put to the government.

Somehow, ‘sensitivity’ and ‘empowerment’ have wound up engorging the government and insulating it from skeptical assessment.

That can’t be good.

And it can’t safely be allowed to continue.


It occurs to me that folks don’t really grasp the danger of simply accepting ‘ideas’, especially if they are cutely packaged.

Let me offer an example.

William Marshall published a novel in 1989: “New York Detective”, about a New York city police detective in the 1880s and his sidekick, a big Irish cop – Muldoon, of the Strong-Arm Squad, temporarily assigned to keep an eye on the dimunitive (and somewhat idealistic) detective. As you may well imagine, Muldoon is an upstanding fellow, full of sparkling and winsome Irish wit and with a mighty capacity for drink – but as equally dedicated to Justice as his detective boss.

But there is a difference between them.

Muldoon demonstrates it as he discusses a “pinch” he had recently made: the arrestee was a known ‘bad actor’ with a long record; Muldoon happened to have an unsolved case on his hands for which his superiors wanted an arrest forthwith; so he consulted his voluminous mental database of New York’s lowest, found a suitably available ‘suspect’, framed him, arrested him, and testified to all manner of things under oath in order to secure a conviction. Everybody was happy: his bosses, the papers, the judge, and the folks who had originally been held up.

Hearing the story, the detective objects that the man actually sentenced was not guilty of the crime in question.

Which objection Muldoon brushes off cheeribly: the man’s done many bad things in his life, for which we may rest assured he has not been caught or punished; by sending him up the river I’ve removed him and made the City safer for decent folks; with God’s help, someday somewhere some other decent copper will find himself in need of a ‘collar’ and grab the man actually responsible for the crime I had to find a perp for; and that decent copper will frame him for that crime, and so will have done his duty, and the world will be a safer place, and in the end it all balances out.

There’s an indubitable charm to the equation. And not a small amount of sense.

BUT, if you were too busy feeling warm and cuddly to notice, it is hell-and-gone from the Constitutional ethos.

Because to the Framers several things were paramount: 1) all people are ‘sinners’ (or in the Enlightenment version ‘capable of acting irrationally’); and 2) the government police power is the most historically predatory ‘actor’ of all; and so 3) the best way to secure Justice is to make sure that the police power cannot be deployed against any Citizen unless there is solid evidence.
The government police power is the element most potentially dangerous to any true and politically legitimate Justice. And while the police power is a necessary component of government, it is never to be seen as anything better than ‘a necessary evil’.

Contrast this with the Rightist-jingoist idea that the police-power is ‘good’ because it ensures ‘order’ or because it is ‘the power of God working through the American government’. Or with the Leftist-victimist idea that in the script where ‘innocent victims’ are put into pain by ‘evil perpetrators’ then the government-police power is always the white-hatted ‘Hero’ who will save the victim and smite the perp (to which the congregation will respond together: AMEN!).

So before there was the seeming ‘progress’ of a Hero-police power that always saved the pained and (always) ‘innocent’ victim from the evil perp (who, conveniently, is no longer remembered as a Citizen) … before that there was the winsome pre-Constitutional idea that as long as it’s in the right hands, well-intentioned if a little rough, then police power doesn’t need to obstruct itself with such formalities as solid evidence.

Surely you can see the lethal danger to any genuine and actual Constitutionality here. To any genuine and efficacious awareness of just what the Constitutional vision consists of. And what it requires.

The victimist approach simply creates an emotional stampede in which the Script of Victim-Perp-Hero Government overrides the Constitutional vision. The ‘right hands’ approach simply insists that the police power be in the ‘right’ hands and then it can do ‘whatever it takes’.

No wonder the Bush-Cheney years created such an awesome catastrophe, building upon a ‘bipartisan’ (of Left and Right) consensus that as long as it has – or says it has – the ‘right intentions’, then government power –the police domestically or the military in foreign affairs – can do whatever it damn well pleases.

We Citizens can now perhaps see the path of crumbs that has led everybody now deep and deeper into a dark dark forest indeed.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


I know I’ve been on and on about how the Revolutions of the late-Sixties and early-Seventies here bear much resemblance to the Content and Method of Marxist ideology, and of the Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist incarnations of that ideology.

I hope you’ve realized by now that when I make that connection I am not fooling around looking to score cheap rhetorical points. Or make the simplistic argumentum ad Hitlerum or reductio ad Stalinum; that is to say, simplistically but vividly making a connection between something in the present and a truly and unarguably awful past.

As I have been working through the recent Posts on assorted ‘liberal-progressive’ commentators currently trying to move Us quickly and quietly past those ‘revolutions’ in order to restore some sense of ‘unity’ that the Democrats can rely on for electoral success, I have been circling around the fact that these truly ‘revolutionary’ Methods , as well as much of their Content, have had seriously damaging effects on the polity – intended or unintended.

So I cannot accept the implicit assumption of the commentariat that any continued doubt about or objection to the so-called ‘culture war(s)’ are merely left-over sour-grapes and unsuccessful ‘backlash’ against a gloriously good and marvelously achieved victory effected by the Left’s ‘revolutions’ over the past 40 years.

This is not merely a matter of ‘perception’ or ‘attitude’.*

The consequences are real and pretending (or ‘re-perceiving’) that they are not there will not counter their effects; these consequences cannot be wished away. They are not figments of anybody’s ‘sour grapes’ or imagination; they are the very real – and hardly unforeseeable – consequences of revolutionary Methods and they are now burrowed deeply into the national ethos.

And it was the vote-addled Dems – eventually joined by vote-hungry Republicans – that put the power of the government behind these Methods and the Content of the assorted agendas.
I came across an article by the political scientist Edward Shils, entitled “Ideology and Civility: On the Politics of the Intellectual”.** It was written in 1958, at least half a decade before the agitations of the later Sixties.

In that far-away era of the late 1950s, Shils was looking backward to Fascism and Communism, especially as those ideologies exerted deforming pressures on the intellectuals in the European countries, and actually in the form of McCarthyism – which never got very far here – had a bit of an effect in this country as well.

He is looking backward to examine some of the characteristics and dynamics of those aggressive ideologies’ revolutionary praxis and ideology. Fascism and Communism constitute, in his view, a ‘family’ with certain characteristics.

So this is something of an exercise in historical analysis in order to understand how intellectuals are affected by aggressive and assertive ideological pressures.

But to read it in the light of what has happened here since 1968 … is something of a revelation.

And that should be disturbing.

Shils looks at “ideological politics” (p.450): they “paralyze the free dialectic of intellectual life” and “introduce standards irrelevant to discovery and creation”; they constrict or break “the consensus necessary for a free and spontaneous order”. All politics must begin with some common ground; human beings cannot live in a continuous state of tension caused by a too-wide gap in fundamental assumptions.

While there is always some difference in goals and methods, with room for novel approaches, yet still humans can’t live in a state of constant fundamental ‘difference’. It may sound workable ‘in theory’, but the human community that can operate under such strain does not exist in actual reality.

Ideological politics (IP) take as their primary articles of faith that “politics should be conducted from the standpoint of a single, comprehensive, coherent set of beliefs” and that that set of beliefs “must override every other consideration” (p.450). You can see where there is no room for give-and-take at the very core of the IP enterprise. Instead of a politics that provides a forum for somewhat differing views on the best path to take and how to do so, you are saddled with a pre-determined ideological Content; the only Method is agreement and submission to that Content. This is a ‘politics’ hell-and-gone from what the Framers envisioned, both in Content and Method.

Further, “these beliefs attribute supreme significance to a single group or class – the nation, the ethnic folk, the proletariat – and to the leader and the party as the true representatives of … all virtue” (p.450). You can see things start to get interesting here if you include ‘gender’ or some other identity to the list of nation, ethnic folk, and proletariat.

For all practical purposes the Beltway’s over-eager embrace of advocacies already pretty drunk on ‘revolutionary’ examples went very far toward introducing here a truly Ideological Politics that has deranged the core dynamics of Constitutional politics; Constitutional politics is the ‘genius’ of the American political system.

Worse, IP “correspondingly views as the seat and source of all evil a foreign power, an ethnic group … or the bourgeois class” (p.450). That ‘correspondingly’, of course, includes the fact that such an ‘enemy’ – who, of course, must be ‘evil’ – is absolutely indispensable to IP: people have to be kept in line, kept on-message, kept ‘with the program’. They are not free Citizens but are members of a ‘team’ – and the very concept of ‘team’ involves an ‘opposing team’.

And since politics isn’t a game but deals with hugely serious human energies, then that ‘opposing team’ must be an ‘enemy’ or ‘the enemy’. There is no other way. And of course, in this town 35 or so years ago, ‘men’ and ‘white’ and ‘working class’ were all added to the list that Shils had compiled from the 1930s.

In fact, IP lends itself easily to the idea that people are not Citizens so much as they are members of an ‘army’ – because, of course, they are involved in a ‘war’ against whatever enemy has been selected from or added to the list.

The Identity Politics of Our modern American reality can be seen as a variant of Ideological Politics – the ‘good’ guys/persons are your own Identity, and the ‘bad’ guys/persons are whomever has been selected off the bad-guys/evil list. And if you enjoy several Identities, then you have a larger palette of ‘enemies’ with which to color your day.

Conversely, of course, if you are some Identity’s bad-guy, then in a system where the government has gotten into the Identity-pandering business, you are going to find yourself on the receiving end of a crusade. And if you are the designated bad-guy for two or more such favored Identities, then you are in that much more deep doodoo – and your government, as you might like to think it, is going to be part of the problem. A very big part.

It gets worse.

As Shils rightly observes, looking at the 1930s, IP is not content simply being a ‘politics’: its own self-declared “centrality” means that it must “radiate into every sphere of life – that it replace religion, that it provide aesthetic criteria, that it rule over scientific research and philosophic thought, that it regulate sexual and family life” (p.451). I recall to your attention that Shils wrote this in 1958, in case you’ve already started making some connections to more recent ‘politics’ around here.

And this ‘imperialist’ – if I may – aspect of IP flows directly from the IP-ers’ belief “that they alone have the truth about the right ordering of life, of life as a whole and not just of political life” (p.451). So either you ‘get it’ or ‘you just don’t get it’. Because there is only the one ‘it’, and they have it and you don’t. Which is not a really good basis for mutuality in politics. Especially if you disagree with their ‘it’, or that they have ‘it’ in the first place. Or that there even is one single ‘it’. And so forth.

It gets worse.

Shils rightly deduces that because of this belief that they are the sole possessors of the Right Ordering, the IP-ers harbor “a deep distrust of the traditional institutions – family, church, economic organizations, and schools …” (p.451). And you can see how the political and cultural life in any nation infected with IP is going to become a zero-sum game: there can be only one ‘winner’ and all the rest must ‘lose’.

It’s not hard to see how this distrust meant the sustained ‘deconstruction’ of all of American society’s anchoring institutions – all of them allegedly engaged in ‘oppressing’ everybody with the Wrong Ordering of life and love and mind and spirit and soul.

And it’s hard not to think that if Shils’s article had been more widely circulated half a century ago, then We might have all been a little more prepared when the onslaught of 1968 hit. And perhaps might have saved Our politics from the attack of the Ideologicals (after watching all those alien pod-people attacks on all those Saturday afternoons in the 1950s, did anybody ever think the real attack would come disguised as ‘progress’ and ‘reform’?).

Interestingly, though hardly illogically, Ideologicals do not really trust ‘politics’ and don’t think much of politicians. But of course; when you are in sole possession of the Knowledge of the Right Ordering, what would you find attractive in compromisers and half-way covenanters?

IP-ers paint the ‘political’ as a realm of tawdry compromise and bad faith; it is a realm of dark and murky complexity and a sort of sneaky realm where participants avoid the light of public examination and scrutiny. And it is ‘inefficient’ compared to the direct, ‘clear’, and oh-so-public posturing of the revolutionaries and their bright (and brilliant, of course) ideology.

Not only would you be antisocial if you refused to ‘get it’, but you’d have to be a monstrous dope as well.

And of course you would be a traitor: to your class according to the 1930s Left or to your country and your Volk according to the 1930s Right. Substitute ‘gender’ and ‘race’ or ‘Identity group’ and immediately you’re in disturbingly familiar and contemporary territory. And toss in that you’d be a ‘self-hating’ member of your group, if you’d like.

Which is probably why the vote-desperate Beltway bent so far over to please their new Ideological constituencies: the IP-ers weren’t just playing hard-to-get, they really didn’t like pols. And what they demanded pretty much deranged American politics. And the Beltway just went along with every shopping list and list of demands that was presented for immediate fulfillment.

But Shils had realized this from his study of the 1930s: IP-ers only allow themselves to be characterized as ‘political’ because that’s the “conventional” term; it’s a useful cover, sort of like sheep’s clothing. But really, and as they have worked in history, “it has not signified that [they] were ready to participate constitutionally in the political system” (p.451). And so it has been with Us: the ruling juntas and advocacies early on declared the Constitution “quaint” (and probably a lot worse than that: tainted to the point of irrelevance and illegitimacy by the ‘oppressive’ predispositions of the Framers).

In fact, he saw while studying what happened in the 1930s and before, “extra-constitutionality has been inherent in their conceptions and aspirations, even when their procedures have seemed to lie within the constitution” (p.451). In this country, it has taken longer to subvert things since – oppressive or not – the American polity remained for a time strongly grounded in the foundations the Framers had so carefully constructed.

And it gets worse.

Because Shils also realized that the IP-ers not only included the actual constitutional requirements, the laws and judicial decisions, in their list of things to get beyond, but also “the moral presuppositions of these” (p.451).

And that assault has been two-pronged.

The first prong is a direct rejection of any form of traditional morality.

For two reasons.

In the first place because any traditional morality was a rival to ‘revolutionary’ morality in the zero-sum, either-or struggle that is the flat, dark, violent world of Ideological Politics. A ‘God’ or any capital-letter being would both rival the authority that the revolution wants to wield and would also stand as a potential Judge of the revolution … and revolutionaries, like countries and individuals, don’t like to be judged – unless they own the judge.

And in the second place, because traditional morality implies some sort of Authority from Beyond the flat, single-dimension world of the ‘political’ and the revolutionary world; the world-view of revolutionary politics is that there is nothing except this world, and that people are ‘trapped’ in it and have no other options, and that therefore they must rely on ‘the revolution’ and its ideology and its cadres for whatever help and guidance there is to make their lives more bearable or – more attractively – to fulfill their lives.

The second prong - required by the stubborn and deep religiosity of the American populace – is an effort to discredit any religious organization with enough public stature to possibly oppose the revolutionary ideology. Far more subtle than Stalin’s blunt murder of Polish intelligentsia – including all priests – in the Katyn forest, Goebbels had tried to weaken opposition to the Nazi Party in heavily Catholic Bavaria by trying to arrest and try an entire monastery full of Catholic male religious for sexual perversions. (He had to call it off in the face of public opposition.)

Only in this way can ideologues replace the existing order with their own new (and oh-so-Right order). They have to destroy people’s faith and confidence in any other source of help and security; they have to literally cut off any alternative sources of people’s trust and hope, leaving people with only the revolution and its ideology as the source to whose authority people must submit.

And it gets worse. (And more familiar.)

“Ideological politics are alienative politics” (p.451). They try to divide people from the traditions and institutions of the culture that supports their lives, their hopes, and their efforts.

And so “ideological politicians feel no affinity with such institutions, and they participate in them for purposes very different from those who have preceded them in the conduct of these institutions” (p.452). I can’t help but think that after 40 years We are now saddled with a majority of politicians (especially at the national level) who no longer care – who in their careers have perhaps never really cared – to sustain and nurture (and, yes, ‘reform’) the traditional institutions and culture that comprise the ‘genius’ of the American approach to politics and government.

Rather, “ideological politics are the politics of friend-foe, we-they, who-whom” (p.452).

That ‘who-whom’ is a reference to Lenin, who held as rock-bottom truth that all politics is merely a matter of who is doing what to whom. It requires a victim-oppressor view of human society and politics, where all persons are either oppressing or being oppressed, are victimizers or victims. And that surely strikes a contemporary note. And a profoundly disturbing one.

Bush the Lesser and his coterie surely had the chutzpah to trumpet this, in the best Fox-News style. But long decades before them, ‘oppressors’ and ‘victims’ were the watchword concepts of the Left here.

“Those who are not on the side of the ideological politician are, according to ideological politics, against him [or her]” (p.452). This spells death for a deliberative and widely-grounded public politics of deliberation, argumentation, and consensus-building.

Which ties in with my recent Posts where I have pointed out how, at this point, with the money running out and baaad consequences clearly more obvious to people no longer happily distracted by spending ‘credit-wealth’ that they no longer have, ‘progressive’ commentators and intellectuals are trying to get people to accept things as they now are and not ‘look back’.

Because ‘back’ there is the long stretch of decades where IP did an end-run around deliberative and consensus politics. Instead, ‘reforms’ were imposed from the top-down just as Mao tried in the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. The results here may prove to be as disastrous for America as they were for China back then. History, after all, hasn’t ‘ended’ and is most surely not ‘dead’.

In the IP world, ‘compromise’, ‘prudence’, and the art of what’s possible given present realities … all these are nothing more than foot-dragging and cowardice in the face of the demand to TOTALLY and IMMEDIATELY impose the ‘Good’ solution and eradicate all the ‘Evil’.

It is Shylock’s terrible mistake in thinking he could exact a pound of flesh with no adverse consequences and no messy complications.

But even more than ‘totality’, IP is “obsessed with futurity” (p.452). If you put up with a whole bunch of wrenching changes right now, and don’t waste time asking any questions, then at some point in the future all of this is going to work out to be the bestest thing in the world for you. Or, as Wimpy would put it to Popeye: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” (a cartoon, nicely, that first saw the light in the era of the 1920s and 1930s).

There is a religious root to IP. Specifically, two of them.

First, the “millenarian” belief that God would come to Judge the Good and the Evil on the Last Day (p.459). While the Catholic Church downplayed it in order to focus people on their own spiritual and moral struggles in this life under the guidance and help of the Beyond, the Protestant impulse was to develop emotional intensity by emphasizing the ever-present Judgmental presence of God here and now.

Second, the Manichean belief that the world is fundamentally and clearly divided into the realm of the Good and the realm of the Evil (and often, the two forces seem equally matched). The Catholic teaching sought to blunt this dangerous simplicity by emphasizing the Divine Creation of everything and everyone, and the reality of Sinfulness in each person: there were not ‘good’ and ‘evil’ individuals, but rather the potential for ‘good’ and ‘evil’ existed in each human being. The focus thus became the individual’s and the community’s mastery of its own potentials for doing ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

The Protestant impulse trended, in its more outré forms, toward the believers (by definition ‘good’) separating themselves from the ‘non-believers’ (by definition ‘evil’).

And it didn’t take too much alchemy for a particularly dangerous blending whereby the Good got the go-ahead from the Lord of the Harvest to start separating the Good from the Evil RIGHT HERE AND NOW.

The American Left absorbed the Marxist-Leninist secularized version of ‘millenarianism’: there is only this material world, the evil is economic and class oppression, and the oppressed classes must rise up and eradicate the evil owner-class and share all material things (according to the dictates of a dictatorship of the proletariat). Change "economic and class" to "cultural and race/gender" and you've got the mis-named 'liberal' position of the past 40 years.

The American Right – during the Reagan era – embraced the previously marginal Protestant Fundamentalism that considered those who ‘believed’ to be both ‘good’ and also authorized by God to smite the evildoers and wreak judgment upon them.

Neither approach bode well for a trust in the ultimate decency of The People once they had gone through the slow process of deliberating and arriving at some decision or consensus as to what was possible for communal policy.

In the late Sixties here, I really think that the Marxist-Leninist and Maoist playbook was simply embraced by a cocky and righteous Left that figured it could ‘baptize’ the Methods and core presumptions in the service – not of ‘class’ – but of ‘race’, ‘gender’, and so forth. And anybody who didn’t agree with that ‘just didn’t get it’.

And in the early Eighties here, I really think that the God’s-Deputies playbook was simply embraced by a cocky and righteous Right that figured it could now go forth and stretch forth the nation’s hand as if that hand were God’s hand … and anybody who didn’t agree with that could merely be dismissed as ‘evil’.

Back in the day, St. Augustine – with his powerful intellect harnessed to the strong impulses to both good and evil that he saw within himself and in all the humans and organizations around him – was able to create a conceptual force-field strong enough to contain these monstrously powerful impulses. He even went so far as to realize that to the extent that it was subject to the deformities of this dimension, not even the Church (the Catholic Church at the time) could fully embody the Kingdom of God; this earthly dimension is one of permanent incompleteness and imperfection.

But over time, and certainly in the past few centuries, there was an erosion of the type of force-field that could hold it all together, and the awesome and oppositional forces broke loose.
And, as I proposed above, found their way into Our midst through both the Left and the Right in the past few decades.

And both Left and Right have lured Us on with guarantees that if We just follow them down their chosen path, We will reach a much better, perhaps perfectly completed and fulfilled world. Such promises, of course, are essential to getting people to disregard the utter novelty, potential monstrousness, and even outright wrongness of new agendas and programmes.

And as We saw in Vietnam, as things ‘go south’ with increasingly obvious clarity, governments and those who serve governments are reduced to the most dishonorable methods to keep up the illusion that things will work if you just give them a little more time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel; you will be gladly paid Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Ultimately, Western Civilization, as Shils sees it, will always be vulnerable to this violent, divisive, self-righteous impulse to divide Good from Evil here and now and totally, and to determine – with mere human wisdom – who is ‘good’ and who is ‘evil’ and to punish – with mere human authority – those who are designated, by whatever criteria, as ‘evil’ (p.463).

Because there abides deep down in the human heart the latent desire to be in direct, immediate, clear and un-doubtable contact with the power of the Beyond. Or at least with the ‘power’ that seems most capable of mastering the uncertainties of this world, this vale-of-tears dimension.

The Catholic Church had always taken the approach of ‘patience’, and a refusal to indulge in the excitements of ‘immediacy’ and ‘un-doubtable’ contact with the Ultimate. Humans were not designed to penetrate to such a level of directness, and had to make do with their more limited but still capable capacities to remain in faithful contact with the Ultimate.

But since the break-up of the Medieval European consensus (once called’Christendom’), under the influence of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Revolutions in the face of mass industrialized society, this delicate tensive balance has been broken.

When Shils wrote this article, as I said, he was looking backward from the late 1950s to the 1930s and further; he was trying to make sense of how revolutionary developments had exercised a deforming power on intellectuals in Europe in those times.

I don’t know if he realized that within a decade, and here in the United States as well as in Western Europe, the dynamics of those revolutions – that he in 1958 considered of ‘historical’ significance – would burst forth anew, with some re-badging as necessary, but still exercising all their awesome deformative powers.

But they have and they did. And now We are faced with the wracked result of a culture and a society and a civilization and a Constitutional ethos that has been battered and corroded from both Left and Right for decades, with – alas – the full collusion of the government (which is now melted into one amorphous Beltway).

As Lenin famously asked (without attributing his quote to the Gospels): What then is to be done?


*I’ve often used the very real example of the mess at the Service Academies, where any doubt about or objection to the re-arranging of the entire military ethos and its praxis in order to smooth the path for women in combat is actually considered nothing more than the perceiver’s ignorant misperception or willfully obstructive ‘attitude’ … which he will change (or shut up about and keep to himself) or else lose his career before it is even begun.

**Published in ‘The Sewanee Review’, Vol. 66, No. 3, pp. 450-480. It is available on-line through JSTOR if you have access.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I have recently Posted on intellectuals (Neal Gabler, Sam Tanenhaus) who are trying to whistle everybody by the (very active) graveyard of the past 40 years, seeking to enable the (former-liberals, now-progressives) Dems – and now the ‘bipartisan’ Beltway – to escape the consequences of the past decades’ of Correct-but-Wrong stuff while not having to say they’re sorry, fix the frak, and at the same time getting to keep all the frak so that their electoral viability isn’t rather largely vaporized.

Now comes Michael Lind on the Salon site to give it another try.

Lind is no dope and he’s done some good stuff in the past (see below). But again – as with Glenn Greenwald and Neal Gabler and Sam Tanenhaus – he’s got to keep up the payments on his 'elite' membership.

So his take on things is that the Republicans (as if there are still, for any practical and useful purposes, two Parties) are developing a new approach that relies on (the admittedly whackulous) Ayn Rand’s radical individualistic libertarianism.

AND he’ll go himself one better and declares to the faithful that this is a Good Thing for “progressives”.

Once again, We are frog-marched by politically unpleasant (to the elites) reality in order to be shown only the wax job and the shiny hubcaps.

In this case, the “conservative” movement is said to have started with William F. Buckley’s 1950s “movement conservatism” that “sought to unite the anti-communist, socially-conservative and free-market wings of the right”. Since Bush the Shrub’s administration, Lind opines, the neocon and social conservative elements of the coalition have lost much ground and the “libertarians” are growing at their expense.

I really don’t think the terms ‘liberal’ (ooops, ‘progressive’) and ‘conservative’ can accurately portray American political reality any longer.

Liberals, don’t forget, were classically concerned with keeping government out of people’s lives – and given the limited nature of the government constructed sooo carefully by the Constitutional Framers – those dead white males were in a very real sense Liberal (capital ‘L’).

The same Founding gents were also Conservative – in the sense that they weren’t ‘revolutionary’ (like their French contemporaries). The Framers were setting up a profoundly ‘new thing’ – a Republic not governed by a monarchy but by its own People – but they were not seeking to overturn in a trice the entire culture and civilization to which the American polity was a richly-endowed heir.

Neither group wanted to see a ‘divine right’ monarchy, or even a government that retained the unbridled omnipotence of those 17th-century European realms. Both groups wanted to see the country ‘model’ this great vision to the rest of the world, while not marching around as an ‘agent of liberation’ seeking to impose that great vision wherever force-of-arms looked to have half a chance of succeeding (Napoleon would say, shortly thereafter, that ‘nobody likes an armed missionary’).

The modern-day ‘liberals’ went off those rails 40 years ago when they chose – for purposes of electoral viability – to embrace a revolution-besotted engorgement of government authority. Eschewing ‘divine right’ for domestic dogmatic purposes, they replaced Divine Right with their own idol – Political Correctness – which Kool-Aid they had imbibed from the Leninist and Maoist handbooks which they considered in the late 1960s to be more useful than the “quaint” (and, they judged, self-serving) insights of the Framers.

The modern-day ‘conservatives’ went off those rails when they chose – ditto – to embrace a militarized super-state that would take as its Brief the (literally God-given and thus ‘divine right’) authority to bring ‘democracy’ and consumer-capitalism to whatever designated parts of the benighted world American military force could occupy (or 'liberate' or 'partner').

Both whackeries presumed themselves to be ‘liberators’ and more or less assumed that they would be greeted as such. And if they were – instead – opposed by the ‘natives’ and the locals, then such opposition could be dealt with as simultaneously being Incorrect and Evil. This was the bipartisan alchemy of Clintonian neoliberalism (which also had an economics aspect that – oy! – has recently demonstrated its colossal ineptness).

Which, by the by, is why even though the ‘liberals’ have now gained the White House the ‘conservatives’ wars are proceeding apace into the Valley of the Little Big Horn. Oh, that and the fact that the country is now so productively and financially hollow that if it doesn’t go out and grab stuff from unenlightened (and Incorrect and oppressive) natives and their governments, then there won’t be anything left to pay the bills over here.

Which kinda sounds like how the Brits got into the Empire business, turning their rain-bethumped little island into the hub of world commerce, trade, and manufacturing. And then got into World War 1 simply because they couldn’t afford to let their trade-routes and imperial ‘possessions’ go undefended. And then World War 1 spawned World War 2 and all that warring left them broke. That’s how these things go, you know.

But even more, it’s vital to realize that what began with FDR in the 1930s was not ‘Liberal’; as I said above, classical 19th-century Liberalism wanted to make room for the marvelously complex possibilities of human communities and of human individuals by keeping the government (Monarchy or otherwise) out of everyone’s lives to the greatest extent possible. Human nature – simultaneously individual and communal - was considered quite capable of creating a future for itself; and while Liberalism never imagined that you could achieve perfection in this world, it retained a powerful respect for the potentials of human beings.

It was not Liberalism but rather socialism that arose in Europe as an effort to baptize government-control in the service of making peoples’ lives better. And in Western Europe, still bathed in the afterglow of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the further effort was made to blend socialism and democracy by looking to create ‘social democracy’: the ‘socialism’ of government-control (though in the name of doing good for people and society) while respecting ‘democracy’ (which in monarchy-laden Europe did not share the profound ‘genius’ of the American Founding’s vision of a government of, for, and by The People).

This blending would have been a hugely complicated job in any time or place; although you can make it sound workable conceptually by simply tossing in nice phrases and best-casing the outcomes you claim for your programme, in actuality – ‘on the ground’ as they like to bray nowadays – it was going to be very hard to keep the government ox from running away with the wagon.

And by the time FDR came onto the scene in 1933, the Soviets had pretty much wrecked the reputation of ‘socialism’ (and thus by association ‘social democracy’) by their already clearly frakkulous Communism.

So the New Deal – nobly intentioned and not inapt to the American problems of the day – had to distance itself in the public mind from any taint of ‘socialism’; over time ‘liberal’ came to be the preferred moniker. But the New Deal was Liberal only in the intention of wanting to make things better for people; it had to follow the methods of ‘social democracy’. Surely, the concept of ‘centralized government’ – so central to the Soviet approach – was going to strain the American Constitutional vision, no matter how well-intentioned the visions and hopes for it and no matter how great the emergency and problems it was meant to address.

And by itself, that would have been a legitimate – though hugely fraught – task: grafting a larger government role onto the essentially limited-government concept of the American Founding genius.

It would have been necessary to compensate for this increase in ‘government’ by nurturing a compensatory increase in the ‘People skills’ of the American public; they would now need to People their government – Grounding it, judging it, anchoring it by keeping a much more greatly informed eye on it and quickly and clearly letting their elected representatives and Executive just what they thought.

BUT instead, back there in the 1930s, perhaps infected both by the Leftist dampdreams of the Soviet approach’s ‘success’and the Rightist dampdreams of ‘order’ being imposed on unruly masses by authoritarian and Fascist dictatorships, the whole idea of politically enhancing the competence of the People was an animal that didn’t make it onto the Ark. And now the Flood has come.)*

Anyhoo, back to Lind’s text.

The neocons, he says rightly, are on the decline: they were “marginalized under Clinton”. Which is only the tip of that iceberg. Clinton shrewdly stole their game-plan by embracing “humanitarian intervention”, which was a Correct and ‘sensitive’ justification for sending in the troops and bethumping whatever bunch had been designated as (not Evil but) Oppressive and Insensitive.

The religious right is also in decline, he burbles. He explains this as their gaining much political traction in the 1980s by cashing in on “a backlash against the cultural liberalism of the 1960s on the part of middle-class and working-class white Americans … that backlash however appears to have been a generational phenomenon”.

I think what he doesn’t intend for Us to realize here is that thanks to the success of the ‘deconstruction’ essential to that “cultural liberalism” there is no longer much of a culture remaining that can ground and anchor the middle-class and working-class (white or otherwise).

This is a good thing?

Where does he think the country’s productivity and its economic competence and strength came from? What ‘classes’ (that charmingly Leninist-Maoist term of analysis) does he think helped make the whole thing work?

What ‘culture’ does he think grounded the Constitutional ethos and vision?

And if they are at this point gone, then what does he think happens now?

He’d just rather analyze things according to the old 1960s ‘liberal’ categories, declare victory, and get on with the utopian paradise of whatever the Boomers and the Flower Children and the ‘empowered advocates and Identities’ imagine to be a more general cashing-in and party-time.

To the materialistic and Flat narrowness of Marxian, Leninist, and Maoist analysis Lind faithfully mirrors his demographic by adding the monstrously uninformed but fecklessly optimistic and cockily impatient self-assurance of the Boomers at the height of their pampered and ignorant youth (erected into national law, regulation, and policy by the vote-addled Dems).

Oh goody. THIS will surely work.

And he adds in that the “backlash” was just a generational thing. (Meaning that the old white folks are getting old and dying off now, and the kids are a lot more ‘sensitive’ and ‘tolerant’ – although whether they will be more ‘productive’ or whether they will even ever get the chance to ‘produce’ … well, Lind leaves that question for after the next election.)

I recall Alexander Cockburn saying recently in ‘the Nation’** that the culture wars were really against those classes that the communists would call the petite bourgeoisie, the ones who built and ran the small businesses (90% of American businesses employ less than ten people) and supported a culture that would enable that dynamic to continue producing and supporting lives, families, and future generations.

So really the ‘culture wars’ over here were something borrowed from Lenin and – much more contemporary – Mao, who in 1968 was two years into wrecking the Chinese economy and cultural heritage with his Cultural Revolution and its millions of young, uninformed, enthusiastic and idealistic Red Guards who went around beating to a pulp anybody who didn’t share their enthusiastic certainties as to the Total Correctness of “Mao Zedong Thought”. Wheeeeeee!

But if this is so – and I’d say it is – then the ‘culture wars’ were not some domestic spat about what color to paint the national house. They represented a fundamental defense of not only Western but mature tradition, against a purposeful (if grossly uninformed) assault – masked in the pseudo-philosophy of ‘deconstruction’ – against everything that held hundreds of millions of lives together.

Although the Mainstream Media, supporting the whole thing, happily glommed onto the reductionist and grossly insufficient characterization of widespread public reaction as merely ill-tempered and selfish “backlash” – as if the revolutionary stuff was totally ‘good’ and any objections or even doubts represented nothing more than selfish ‘oppressors’ not wanting to see their ‘privileges’ shared.

And thus, the ‘culture wars’ were not a time-limited thing at all. The statute of limitations never runs out on the premeditated capital ‘deconstruction’ of the entire genius of a culture and a civilization and on all of the human wrack that follows such ‘success’.

And it’s not just a matter of a ‘culture war’ in the sense of superficial or cosmetic changes in the nation’s life. The core of politics has been corroded: A politics that assumed you could manipulate people’s attitudes and perceptions and thereby deeply and quickly change (profoundly and sharply) the fundamental patterns of a society and its culture resulted in – among other things – a politics of ‘symbolism’ that relied on ‘appearances’ … and THAT reduced political discourse to soundbites and photo-ops, and undercut the public capacity to analyze and to deliberate.

And on top of that, the ‘revolutions’ could not only not-wait for deliberation to take its course BUT ALSO could not risk an examination of their demands and their programme to see if the ideas were a) worthwhile and b) weren’t – in the general opinion – frakkulously wrong. So mature and careful deliberation was undermined in favor of a childish and hugely insufficient they-bad/we-good type of argument, erected so clearly into the ‘Fox News’ approach to public affairs, though actually in place as early as the early 1970s as the Left’s revolutions instilled Political Correctness (where only the Correct folks could be taken ‘seriously’ and anything not-supportive of that was mere selfish and fuddy-duddy ‘backlash’.

And on top of that, the Manichean and frakkulously regressive dynamics of It’s-either-Good-or Evil and it’s corrosive communal corollary You-are-either-with-us-or-against-us replaced careful consideration of complexity. And while Bush the Lesser raised that to Executive policy, the Revolutions had employed it as early as the You-just-don’t-get-it days.

And so huge changes were imposed from top-down (precisely as Mao tried to impose his second revolution’s changes in the 1966-1976 Red Guards’ Cultural Revolution (do you recall ‘the Gang of Four’?)), which was stopped only by the death of Mao himself; even the growing evidence of how disastrously and damagingly wrong the ‘changes’ and ‘shocks’ were was not enough to pull China back from the Valley of Frak.

The ‘statute of limitations’ on all this can’t and won’t run out here because the damage and the consequences (intended or unintended) are still wreaking their awful effects – politically, economically, and – I will say – morally and spiritually.

The cost of all this to the American polity re-poses the question: Right or wrong, were the changes even WORTH IT? A question which for 40 years was put off on the screaming assertion that it’s ‘right’ so no further discussion can be had about it.

And here We are.

Recently – within the last month in ‘The New York Review of Books’, though I can’t recall exactly – the historian Tony Judt (born 1948 and thus a Boomer) observed that his generation had been a “catastrophe” for Western culture and civilization.

Lind and all of Us would do well to think about that for a while.

Nor is it enough to say that the Boomers have ‘grown up’. The destructive (and deconstructive) whackeries of their youth were erected into national policy by the Dems 35 and more years ago, and that frakkulous reality still stands.

And – perhaps as you can now see – has spawned something not very far from catastrophe for Us.

Born into a remarkable and historically unique Moment in the world’s history, they thought it was the normal state of affairs and would simply go on and on and on. And that it was capable of being ripped open along its entire length and punctured like a Swiss-cheese yet not succumbing to the ineluctable consequences of History’s Ocean.

Fragility – after all – is not something that occurs to the young. Which is perfectly natural, given the human maturing process. But is also the reason the young need to be given some serious guidance by their elders.

Alas for all of Us, the Greatest Generation was in the grip of a midlife crisis by the 1960s, and that on top of simply wanting to treasure some peace and quiet and order after spending so much of their own youth in a Depression and then in marching around the world getting a first-hand glimpse of what happens when revolutions of the Left (Soviet Communism) or the Right (National Socialism and Fascism and Japanese militarism) or just the orneriness of small-visioned folks (any of the Balkan ‘countries) throw over the constraints of organized society and of ‘human decency’ and any common humanity at all.

And their own government’s dominant Party – heir of FDR – had gotten itself mired in Vietnam and wasn’t about to admit a mistake and go home. On top of Harry Truman’s bloody misadventures in the latter half of the Korean War a decade before.

So Lind’s ‘optimistic’ declaration that the ‘culture wars’ are “in decline” because they were just the backlash of a bunch of grumpy and selfish white people is not only inaccurate but queasily dishonest.

Lind knows better. In 1995 he published a scathing and comprehensive indictment of the fundamentally corrosive assumptions of Multiculturalism and Identity Politics: “The Next American Nation” (see my Post here).

But those PC Club dues must be paid.

As I’ve said often on this site, what I call the Revolutions of the Identities – including what Lind described in that same decade of the 1990s that saw Clintonian neoliberalism basically take over the neocon agenda, baptizing it with Sensitivity and Empowerment, and in that same decade that feminists are now touting as their greatest success (‘Governance Feminism’) in their cheerible and self-congratulatory victory-lap ‘histories’ - achieved their deepest and most destructive (and deconstructive) inroads into the Constitutional ethos. It was then that the Boomer-addled frakkery ‘achieved’ its long-intended destruction and deconstruction.

But that was then.

It’s Consequence-time now. And that’s a Moment that the kids didn’t think would ever apply to them.

Nor has gray-hair seemed to sober them. Or mature them.

Except that they have gotten a lot more savvy in how to cover their tracks. Or try to.

But the Consequences are too big, too awful, too awesome.

But what other options do they have? Admit the whole ‘revolution’ was kinda wrong? That their initial assumptions and presumptions and predictions were kinda wrong? That they’ve created lethal damage that can never fully be repaired? That the party’s over?

The Soviet leadership couldn’t bring itself to do that in the 1970s and 1980s, and those folks (male and female cadres and nomenklatura together) had been in the revolution business a lot longer and a lot more openly than the empowerment-and-liberation mavens of American Boomerhood.

I get to wondering just what reality could generate so much pressure that a writer like Lind would deform himself so frakkulously.

And I think that the answer, in large part, is Consequences: the country has reached a point now where the politics of pandering – to Big Pain and to Big Money – which were always guaranteed to corrupt and corrode the American Constitutional ethos, have finally demonstrated their failure so vividly that the danger into which such whackery has brought the American polity can no longer be hidden or ‘spun’ or ‘re-framed’, nor can the majority of the Citizens either be lulled into spending illusory, credit-based ‘wealth’ or cowed into accepting the Beltway’s whackery at the risk of being labeled ‘un-Correct’ and told that they ‘just don’t get it’.

And there’s an election coming up.

So I’m saying that Lind’s approach is wrong; that his too-nicely described ‘progressive’ agenda is much more costly than We can afford and perhaps even wrong in its fundamental operating assumptions and methods; and that the ‘revolutions’ that he’s trying to spin as Good and Well Done are neither.


*There is a new article by Orlando Figes on the Russian writer Andrey Platonov (1899-1951).

Platonov started out as a writer excited by the possibilities of Soviet Communism in his youth, but over time he saw what it really created ‘on the ground’, regardless of its noble and exciting goals, objectives, promises and visions.

What I’m going to do here is just put in bullet-form some of Platonov’s insights as to the monstrously deforming and anti-human elements of the Communist revolutionary vision and programme.

What strikes me about these points is how much they resemble the presumptions adopted in the late Sixties over here, when ‘revolution’ was considered a good thing, and so many of the old early-Communist, Marxist-Leninist excitements were imported by excited ‘revolutionaries’ here, however mediated those excitements were by European socialist-communist thought and by the pudgy smiling Maoist agenda that even in the mid-Sixties was blazing like a wildfire through China.

And let it not be forgotten that the vote-desperate Dems, seeing their New Deal coalition collapse, instantly endowed these ‘ideas’ with the full force, faith and credit of the government – to be joined within a few years by the Republicans, not wanting to miss the electoral demographic bus.

- Machines would be the “locomotives of history”, pulling people along on the great Communist journey; and you don’t dare stand in the way of locomotives or of History;
- An arrogant and cocksure confidence in the power of technology (and ideology) to transform History; and a concomitant refusal to tolerate the fragility of human beings and their lives and their organic communities;
- Equally, an arrogant and cocksure confidence in the capacity of the great utopian Soviet dream and its organizational systems to transform nature – both material nature and human nature; and humans were pushed about by the centralized government system as easily as trees were bulldozed, farms plowed under, and rivers dammed;
- An arrogant and cocksure confidence in the power of the ‘word’ to transform the world; if you just kept repeating the word – and its slogans – then that repetition would somehow transform human nature and actually force Events into a Soviet reality;
- The necessity for the old society (and old human nature) to be destroyed (‘deconstructed’ would be the Sixties’ term);
- The presumption that once the ‘old’ was destroyed/deconstructed, a rich and vibrant and powerful ‘revolutionary’ reality would suddenly appear, freed from the overlay of the ‘old’ and oppressive culture and civilization;
- That presumptive reality would require that people merely wait for the Soviet/Communist magical reality to provide for them; their oppression would be alleviated by their submission to the all-knowing reality of Soviet/Communist wisdom;
- A rigid and uncompromising assurance that in this great interplay of Historical forces, the ‘individual’ did not really matter much, and was expendable in the Great Process, as eggs have to be broken to make an omelette;
- The ‘kulaks’ – those peasant farm-owners and their communities – whose success actually gave the lie to the ‘revolutionary’ insistence that everything ‘old’ was both oppressive and unproductive were declared ‘enemies of the people’ and liquidated in a premeditated and purposeful government program of elimination; (and I’d say that Lind’s snarky characterization of ‘white working-class males’ is a clear descendant of the old Soviet-era ‘kulaks’);
- A “millenarian sensibility” by which the Soviet cadres saw themselves and their visions and their agenda as sure to usher in a paradaisal era of material fulfillment for all of the (surviving) peoples, which justified the ruthlessly impatient and morally self-assured methods by which the government and Party cadres would uproot the ‘old’ and impose the ‘new’ – since, after all, only the Party’s reality was truly ‘real’; (this millenarian sensibility is shared over here both by the Left’s ‘revolutionary’ self-assurance and by the Right’s assurance that it is deputized by God to enforce ‘His will’ and impose it all over the earth);
- A disconnection between ‘words’ and ‘reality’ (especially human reality) such that (as Orwell would later see) words could be used to mislead people and hide reality (since, in the cadres’ schematic vision, it was all in a good cause); this ‘abstracting’ of reality – subordinating actual living reality to the ‘concepts’ and ‘purposes’ of the Soviet agenda – served to hide the awful human cost of what the Soviet revolutionary programme was wreaking on actual human lives; the use of ‘slogans’ became almost talismanic, serving to ‘ward off’ the crushing, screaming awareness of the damage being caused as all those eggs were broken to make the omelette;
- An increasingly (especially after the Soviet victory over Hitler in 1945)absurd and radically dishonest government insistence upon ‘optimism’ about the history, nature, and future of Communism in all writing published in the USSR.

If you think about these characteristics, and look at the past 40 Biblical years over here … it might prompt some thoughts. And feelings. And then some politically competent action.

**”Move Over, Axis of Evil”, issue of March 22, 2010. The link is here but subscription is required to view the entire article.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010


(I had to do another Post on this topic on a different site. Although this Post deals with the same subject as the immediately previous Post here, I think I raise some further points that would make it worthwhile for readers here.)

As you may have noticed, the Catholic Priest Sex Abuse tornado has circled around and blows through town for – by my count – the fourth time now.

This phenomenon is a sub-variant of the general Sex Offense Mania and I look at it as the result of a synergy of all sorts of larger and deeper forces in American society.

My concern in this Post on this site is a bit more specific. I came across an article today about a priest from India – now back in India – who, years later, is charged with “sexually assaulting” a “teenage parishioner”. Or, at least, the charges are just now being publicized.

As always, I hold no brief for anyone who takes liberties with another human being, especially when that anyone is in a position of trust or authority.

I also don’t like stampedes. And while they’re physically dangerous when you’re talking about Texas Longhorns, they’re politically and morally dangerous when you’re talking about people, especially Citizens responsible for a Constitutional Republic.

That being said, and meant, there are some other points.

First, of course, is that “sexual assault” – the trusty vague phrase that can mean anything from something approaching Attempted Rape to something like a pat on the behind (or, for that matter, on the head, since it seems acceptable in Sex Offense jurisprudence now to infer a ‘sexual’ motivation even if it isn’t actually there). The parishioner is a 16 year-old female, which while it certainly does not excuse improper behavior indicates that this is not the Lindbergh Baby case either.

Curiously, there isn’t too much of a timeline given. But what there is indicates that he came to this country in 2004, worked in a small parish in northern Minnesota, and then in 2005 returned to India – the article says – because his mother was ill.

Half a decade later and the case is part of the 4th Wave.

There is no reason given by the local prosecutor as to why it has taken half a decade to bring the case to light, or why the US government has not yet moved for his extradition.

An ecclesiastical official in India said that in light of the public criticism that has arisen, the priest “has a duty to establish his innocence”.

I’d like to point out a couple of things about that comment.

In the first place, in the context of the Catholic Church, with the priest being an official representative and the matter receiving – as it now is – wide publicity, then the publicity itself now creates its own variable in the equation: there is the matter of “scandal”. In Catholic organizational and legal usage this term means that there is an event or action which might subject the faithful to unnecessary and unwarranted doubt as to the integrity of the Church.

When a matter which had been previously dealt with without such a publicized dimension is suddenly raised up by publicity, it is not so much a matter of the American popular usage of the word ‘scandal’ (something bad had been ‘hidden’ or ‘swept under the rug’ and has been finally brought to light); in theory – and in this case – official Church procedures were deployed and the priest in this case was sanctioned by his bishop –in this case, the priest is no longer working in parishes but rather in a special-ministry with alcoholics (where, presumably, he will be working with few if any children).

Rome – the Vatican – had apparently wanted the priest removed from all ministry, possibly ‘defrocked’ – although the article is not quite clear on this. Whether Rome did it because what the priest was determined to have actually done after ecclesiastical investigation and adjudication was serious enough to justify defrocking, or whether Rome made its recommendation to the priest’s ‘home’ bishop in India simply because the general atmosphere of Mania in the US would pretty much guarantee a situation of probable ‘scandal’ for the faithful … this is an interesting question, not dealt with in the article.

At any rate, in the Catholic system, the ultimate decision was in the hands of the local bishop. This is contrary to a popular impression that the Church functions much as the US military – where ‘Washington’ or ‘the Pentagon’ can issue a definitive order to any forces and local commanders anywhere in the world. In this sense, Catholic organizational practice is actually similar to the American State-rather-than-Federal arrangement, where the ultimate authority rests with the ‘local authority’ – the State – rather than with the Federal authority. (Although in the SO Mania over here we have seen a consistent effort by the Feds to horn in on the States’ Xth Amendment authority – as evidenced in the Adam Walsh Act and other legislation.)

The local bishop in India made his decision that the priest would no longer be allowed to work in parishes; but that he would be allowed to continue exercising his calling in other ministry settings where ‘children’ are not present, nor where the assorted ‘home’ or other ‘informal’ or ‘domestic’ settings organically arising from parish ministry would arise; the priest would work in a setting that by its nature was structured to preclude such informal interactions with the alcoholics.

In this way – in the Catholic view of things – the erring priest (to the extent – one must always say in matters of the SO Mania – that he had indeed erred) was removed from a setting that would place him in occasions of ‘temptation’, and the faithful and the Church would both be preserved from ‘scandal’ and not deprived of his actual services while the priest himself would be allowed to fulfill his calling.

This is a pretty standard example of the Church’s overall ‘patience’ and ‘prudence’ in such matters of priestly weakness, seeking both to maintain the integrity of the ministry while allowing a priest with a demonstrated weakness (to the extent that applies here) to continue to carry on his life-calling.

It is, most certainly, an approach that is hell-and-gone from the more radically ‘impatient’ American approach – so similar to the general Fundamentalistic approach – whereby ‘evil’ must be immediately rooted out and destroyed vividly. This Fundamentalistic approach, the ‘impatient’ approach in my terminology, informs the SO Mania over here.

As does the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which actually includes not only an absolute intolerance of ‘evil’ but also the vivid and utter erasure of the offender’s life possibilities.

While nobody can accuse the Church of not being interested in ‘evil’, it has always been rather interested in ‘good’ as well – and the Catholic (as opposed to Fundamentalistic) approach has always been to salvage whatever good is possible from a situation.

This is premised upon a rather common-sense awareness that ‘evil’ does not exist in the abstract, but rather manifests through the lives of individual human beings, and you want to try to avoid creating more damage with your solution than existed with the problem in the first place (and can you say Iraq War?).

Also, the Church has always realized that ‘sin’ is more relevant an operational concept than ‘evil’, since the concept of ‘sin’ includes the human life through which ‘evil’ manifests itself in the world.
If you simply grab an edged-tool and start scything away in the field seeking to immediately inflict zero-tolerance on the tares, you are going to wind up cutting up a lot of still-growing wheat.

Which, also, does not mean to imply that some people are ‘tares’ (or weeds, and therefore totally evil) and other people are wheat (and therefore totally good). In the ‘field’ of each human individual, there is some amount of weed (evil) among the wheat (good) … that has always been the Catholic approach.*

And again, to the Fundamentalistic** mentality that has proven so crucially formative in the SO Mania, this can easily be spun into the more sensationalistic ‘script’ of ‘corruption finally uncovered’ that – nicely –also appeals to America’s increasingly sensationalistic media.

In the second place, I’d note that the comment of the ecclesiastical authority in India that it is the priest’s “duty to prove his innocence” must be taken as an expression of this Church requirement that the faithful not be scandalized.

As an official representative of the Church, he must respond actively to such accusations – since not doing so (human nature being what it is) would lead the average person (in the American setting, anyway) to assume that the government charges are accurate and that the priest is therefore guilty as charged.

But I would not at all accept this comment as reflecting traditional Western legal theory, especially as it is woven deeply into the fabric of the Constitutional vision and ethos: one is innocent until proven guilty, and it is the government’s responsibility to prove guilt.

It is hugely regrettable, I think, that in 2002 the American bishops chose to ‘settle’ in civil courts (for sums in ‘damages’ that now total in the billions of dollars) rather than accept the route of defending priests in criminal trials. Yes, sound legal advice from the Church’s organizational legal advisers might very practically have justified that approach: the sight of dozens or even hundreds of criminal trials involving priests as defendants might itself have provided ‘scandal’.

And in a time of Mania Law – especially given the deformations introduced into such classic jurisprudential protections as Rule of Evidence and Statutes of Limitations, and the monstrously selective and hostile ‘reporting’ done by most of the media – a seasoned legal professional might have decided that it would be impossible to guarantee the possibility of an uncontaminated trial-process.

But the result of choosing the ‘civil settlement’ route has been equally disastrous. Such a surrender merely engorged and further inflamed the appetite for financial gain. And many accused priests were deprived of a chance to defend themselves. And many of the faithful, confronted with the jaw-dropping sight of the American Church truckling so quickly and shelling out billions without – as it were – a fight, led many to believe that the nightmare scenarios limned by the accusers and their representatives were largely accurate (which has not been established).

Only a little less so, I am going to imagine, have been any plea-bargains made. Yes, seasoned defense counsel now take it as given that a defendant in the current climate and in light of the assorted deformities that have now been formally introduced into the American legal system has a poor chance of establishing innocence in a rational and traditionally Constitutional way. But most Americans still operate on the assumption – now utterly outdated by events – that only ‘guilty’ people make plea-bargains; whereas actually now many defendants accept plea-bargains imposed by prosecutors who know that the defendant’s only other option is to face a trial on a greatly skewed field.

And that further reinforces the ‘scandal’ of many of the faithful presuming that priest-defendants are indeed almost always ‘guilty as charged’. Which may well not be the case at all.

Most interestingly, of course, the idea of guilty-until-you-prove-yourself-innocent is precisely the anti-Constitutional presumption woven into the very core of the SO Mania legal approach.

And that stems from the very fundaments of so-called ‘feminist’ law or – to use my term – its further enshrinement in ‘victimist’ law.

Which is demonstrated clearly in a comment in the article made by the (female) prosecutor up in Minnesota: “We want justice for the victim here and we want to do whatever we can to protect potential future victims everywhere”.

This is an almost pitch-perfect encapsulation of the frakkery of this ‘new’ type of legal thinking.

In the first place, nobody is formally a ‘victim’ until they are proven so in a court.

It has been a great conceptual trick – ‘rhetorical’ in the classic sense – of feminist/victimist law that anyone who makes the claim to be a ‘victim’ must surely indeed be a victim. And from that flows the further frakkulent assumption that to ‘question’ the victim further or to ‘doubt’ the victim’s allegations or ‘story’ constitutes a further ‘re-victimizing’ of the ‘victim’. Recently one Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and now second-tier law school ‘victim’ maven, opined that she’s glad victims no longer are ‘denied justice’ just because there’s no evidence. (Yes, she’s a lawyer – and a law professor.)

Instantly, the entire process of formally establishing guilt or innocence is utterly undermined.

Because then if there is a ‘victim’, and that ‘victim’ must be assumed to be truthful (and ‘good’), then whomever the victim has accused must indeed be cast as a ‘perp’ (and therefore utterly ‘evil’). At which point the necessary elements for a melodramatic, soap-opera type ‘script’ are in place. And let the games begin.

The legitimate insight underlying this dynamic of feminist/victimist law is that many crimes can thus remain hidden because there is insufficient evidence to prove that they actually took place.

This however is hardly a new observation. You may recall that in the film version of ‘Camelot’ – now almost half a century ago – one of the old-school barons approaches King Arthur, who had just established the fundaments of evidentiary law against the old Medieval concept of ‘intuition of guilt is enough to justify the presumption of guilt’. The baron reproaches Arthur for such a new-fangled approach: “So, no evidence no crime, then?”

But the position Arthur takes in the film is actually the (pre-feminist/victimist) Constitutional approach enshrined in Western and American jurisprudence: you cannot permit the police power of the government (or the ‘sovereign’) to impose its awesome capacities against any individual unless you make the government/sovereign authority clearly prove that such a deployment is justified.

And you can only establish that by making the government demonstrate that its evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt.

So – alas – what feminist/victimist law has done (and continues to do) since its espousal by the government (no surprise there) in the 1970s is to re-introduce the old Medieval concept that ‘intuition of guilt is proof of guilt’. Or to put it less formally: if it feels like he’s guilty, then he is guilty. This is not progress and it is not ‘progressive’. It is regress and it is frakkulously ‘regressive’. (And again, you can see what has happened not only in the SO Mania but also in the ‘justifications’ put forth for the invasion of Iraq after 9/11.)

It’s not hard to understand the frustration built into the classic post-Medieval Western legal system: a crime can indeed be ‘hidden’ in the sense that there is not sufficient evidence to clearly justify the deployment of the government police power against the alleged perpetrator.

But the only alternative is to have the government police power deployed merely on the basis of ‘feelings’ and ‘intuitions’ – and that is death to the post-Medieval Western political concept of limited government.

And this is not essentially resolved by the government raising up the ‘victim’ to ‘front for’ the engorgement and un-limiting of its police power. (And again, you can see the lethal effects of this ‘new’ development in other areas of government activity, including the invasion of other sovereign nations, whether on neocon or neoliberal grounds.)

So you get now a Medieval element poisoning from the Right with the Fundamentalistic 'satanic' stuff that made its debut in the now-infamous Ritual Satanic Day-Care Child Sex Abuse trials of the early 1980s, and from the Left with the feminist-law 'progress' that throws out the need for solid evidence and so brings everybody back to the Medieval era of 'law'. Charming. And on top of that, folks are supposed to see these developments as 'progressive' and merely as 'reforms'.


Further, this prosecutor’s comment touches the ominous but oh-so-Correct base of ‘preventing’ further harms to “potential victims”. Which boils down to the government deploying its police power against non-existent criminal actions.

And this constitutes a core dynamic motivating and sustaining the Regulatory-Preventive State, whereby the police power can now be deployed even where no crime has yet been committed.

Because, built into the post-Medieval Western concept of limited-government is the assumption that there is only so much a limited-government can do. Beyond which boundary a government escapes its ‘limits’ and you are hell-and-gone from the classic Western genius and into some other, far more ominous, form of government.

I add that such a development – as I have said before – is virtually guaranteed if you take Carol Gilligan’s 1982 mommy-at-the-breakfast-table vision (Mommy knows best and must provide whatever she feels is best to calm her squalling, immature children) and try to erect it into a philosophy of government.

But with the hugely-dangerous adoption of the Gilligan insight by the vote-addled Beltway, the most indispensable basis of Constitutional vision and ethos is thoroughly undermined. The government will deploy its police power a) on the basis of feelings and intuitions about b) what may happen and c) its intentions are so ‘good’ or the ‘emergency’ created by ‘pain’ is sooo great that it may not be effectively questioned.

If it is not clear just where this must lead, then folks have really and truly lost touch with the fundamental genius of Western and American government.

And if that is so, and it is not widely considered worthwhile to reverse this trend, then this country is indeed no longer in touch with its Founding genius and it is truly ‘decadent’ in the most basic (and ominous) sense of that term.


* And – I say again – you can imagine how Iraq might have turned out had the Catholic rather than the Fundamentalistic approach had been taken; in a sense the Catholic view would support the ‘diplomacy’ approach and the Fundamentalistic approach demands the ‘military’ approach.

Thus also, you can see why the Fundamentalistic Ascendancy in American politics (and most surely in the military chaplaincies and senior leadership) was so dead-set against the Catholic vision and the Catholic approach. Neither the neocon militarization approach nor the neoliberal ‘humanitarian intervention’ approach (equally militarized) are looking for the obstructions to the imposition of their will and the fulfillment of their ‘visions’ that a Catholic ‘patience’ and diplomacy would present.

**I also point out here that the Fundamentalistic 'impatience' and impetus toward the 'radical rooting out and punishing' of 'evil' is itself very similar to the Leninist and Maoist 'revolutionary' impatience with in-Correct thinking.

This is not so surprising, for two reasons.

First, the late-19th and early-20th century 'revolutionary' approach was a secularized version of the Fundamentalistic approach always latent, and often not-so-latent in Reformation-era Protestant thought.

Second, the radical 'revolutionary' approach very greatly informed early, radical feminist thought and praxis as it came to then be espoused by the political 'elites' over here starting in the early 1970s.


The article adds a second report of a priest who was accused of “fondling” a 12 year-old altar server (female) at her apartment in 2003, for which a New York court sentenced him to four months “in prison”. The priest served the time, returned to his native India, and is now working with alcoholics and is not in parish work. Which the article seems to consider more or less outrageous.

It’s odd that in 2003, a full year after the 3rd Wave began on Jan. 2, 2002 with the ‘Boston Globe’, an American court – and in New York, no less – would give such a short sentence for a substantive sex offense charge against a minor. And so short a sentence usually means ‘jail time’ in a county lock-up, not full-scale ‘prison time’ – which usually indicates a sentence of at least a year.


As if by inadvertence, the 'Boston Globe' - whose 'reporting' enabled the 3rd phase of the Mania in 2002 (it also supported the invasion of Iraq) and now fuels the 4th - today 'reports' on its own stunning marvelousness in a front-page, above-the-fold story.


It may be that I did not clearly point out some of the more specific possible or probable connections.

I have recently come into possession of a used copy of a 1989 book (“High Treason”, by Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone). The book compiles all the information then extant – a quarter of a century later – concerning the evidence in the assassination of JFK.

It makes for disturbing reading.

The stunning amounts of contradictory evidence, missing evidence, falsified evidence, evidence incompatible with eyewitness accounts including doctors in attendance, and much of all of the foregoing overlooked or ignored by the Warren Commission … it stuns.

There appears clearly to have been a potent synergy of interests – to say nothing of a conspiracy – that JFK’s death would have served. Ray McGovern, noted present-day intelligence analyst and former CIA member, had admitted as much late last year: after a comprehensive private review he finally acknowledged that he could no longer doubt the existence of a highly-placed conspiracy before and after the fact, both to kill and to cover-up.

In that frame of mind, let me be a little more specific in regard to connections that in the main body of this Post I perhaps treated too politely.

Only a month or two before this latest 4th Wave of Catholic Priest Sex Abuse and Church Cover-up, I recall noticing articles in ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Boston Globe’ remarking that one of the most vocal victim-of-priests groups was in danger of folding because of financial short-falls. Without pursuing this fact into the realm of causality – why were the donations falling off? – the articles simply rehashed the original (and by 2009 old) stories.

So when this 4th Wave suddenly started up in January 2010 – just about the 8th anniversary of those papers’ initiating the 3rd Wave – it occurred to me that there was more than coincidence in it.

Of course, with the national economic crisis taking the public’s attention away from smaller advocacy causes and forcing that attention to the grievous and huge matter of the weakened and declining national economy, and to the government’s failure in addressing it or preventing it (indeed claiming not even to have foreseen it developing), then those very potent ‘interests’ could well appreciate any distraction – especially one so tried and true – of the public’s attention back toward ‘safer’ emergencies (so to speak).

And clearly the alliance – you can’t not-call it that – between the ‘Times’ and ‘Globe’ and the priest-abuse advocacies has proven quite useful to both sides. At this point, though, I can’t get out of my mind a scene from ‘M*A*S*H’ the TV show: Klinger has figured that a wounded young soldier is his ticket out of the war-zone; he arranges it to look like the soldier has gotten a gun and taken Klinger hostage, demanding that he (the soldier) has to be given passage out of the war-zone and Klinger (Klinger will yell out the door to the staffers who surround the building) has to accompany him; so far so good, until the soldier passes out; resulting in Klinger having to prop up the limp form of his ‘kidnapper’ in order to try to get himself a ticket out of the war-zone. At this point, with the priest-abuse mania having run (and outrun) its course, the papers now have to prop up their ‘advocacies’ in order to keep up sales. It isn’t so humorous as it was in the show, I think.

Further, with a still-hopeful American ‘progressive agenda’ hoping to spread itself to any nations around the world – especially the developing world – where the Church’s influence is growing, then those interests would also be served by a re-ignition of the bonfires against whatever vulnerable areas of Catholicism might be easily reached.

And so this 4th Wave, focusing now on Europe and on the Vatican and the Pope, suddenly burst into media flame.

There are three things that strike me.

First, is that from a Vatican, long view – and therefore not primarily an American short-term view – the prospect of secular authority being exercised against the Church has a dark history. Since the growth of monarchical power after the Dark Ages (say, ummmm, about after 1000 AD or so) the Church has been involved in a struggle to keep local – in the Vatican view of it – and secular powers from exercising authority over the Universal Church.

Many monarchs chose to pursue this path for the purpose of strengthening their own authority and – they could never resist the temptation – getting their hands on whatever cash and ‘reachable assets’ belonging to the Church that lay within their jurisdiction; in this regard, Henry VIII’s assumption of power over the Church in England – which also included closing the monasteries and confiscating their property and assets in order to enrich his treasury – was only the culmination of something that had been brewing in Europe for centuries.

Nor is it only about assets. Henry, influenced and perhaps given ‘cover’ by the theological currents of the Reformation, also sought to make such changes in doctrine as would conform the Church of England to his authority (and clear his path to taking a new wife, and then another and another and … you know the rest of it).

Presently, some developments – as in some of the Commonwealth countries – are seeking to deploy national government legislation to make it illegal to exclude women from ordination, using the current Western trends in feminism supported by Western governments.

From the point of view of the Vatican the current US mania over sex-allegations takes place as one more in a long line of efforts by governments to involve themselves in the doctrinal integrity and freedom of the Universal Church. (This is not, certainly on my part, a sly effort to minimize wrong-doing by any genuinely assaultive priest.)

Surely, the transfer of billions in the US through civil settlements paid out in lieu of numerous individual civil – and very few criminal – trials constitutes as large a transfer of Church assets as Henry effected in the 16th century.

The significance of this long-historical point is that the Vatican has always been leery of governments that seek to involve themselves in Church affairs.

This is not the whole story, but certainly it goes to the popular media charge of ‘cover up’ and also goes to put in perspective the Church’s approach. It also goes to the media inferences to the effect that the Church is merely opting for an oppositional stance in order to avoid responsibility.

And it has to be added that since the development of Western Law arose in significant part from the Church’s canon law, then to the extent – and it is not small – that the legal regressions essential to the imposition of certain core aspects of feminist/victimist law constitute – as they do – a threat to the integrity of the entire hard-won evolution of Western law, then the current US trend in law has to be kept from spreading to the Church’s law.

This point is no doubt unpalatable in the US for at least three reasons: i) a Mania requires simplistic conceptions of Good-Evil in order to maintain its vitality; ii) Americans have not been well-informed as to the negative consequences of the rise of feminist/victimist law within American jurisprudence, where that rise has been spun as merely ‘progressive reform’; and iii) both feminist and victimist elements are now so politically ‘valorized’ within American domestic politics that is very hard for the Beltway or the ‘elites’ to now change course and present a more accurate picture of what has really happened.

Second, almost all of these cases are old – decades old; there are no new cases. Which leads me to think that the Church has indeed made substantive progress in handling these matters and even – through a more careful vetting of its candidates for priesthood – strategically preventing them.

(This won’t satisfy those elements of feminism that want to see nothing less than female priests, of course, but that’s another – although not irrelevant – matter.)

(And if Benedict is already starting to show signs of wear and tear after only 5 years on the job, then perhaps there are elements within the Church that are simply starting to prepare the ground for influencing the next papal election … yes, the average person doesn’t think like this, but there are those who are paid to sit and opine and ‘influence’, for whom such a world-historical event is simply another move on the game-board, and the Game is what they do.)

There is also the fact that the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned almost a decade ago to examine priestly sex abuse found that only 4 percent of priests between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of abuse. The Jay study had its problems, and I Posted at length about them here.

Among the many points of complication: the Jay study counted allegations of abuse, not findings; ‘abuse’ is an elastic phrase that could mean anything down to and including touch without sexual intention at all (because according to victimist dogma, the ‘victim’ gets to define if it ‘felt’ like it was sexually intended); and in that heady time of heavily publicized 3rd Wave Mania, and with the hugely watered-down criteria for credibility and evidentiary value, there were still only allegations against 4 percent of the priests, when the national average of sexual abuse actually perpetrated by males (according to one national child-victim organization) is 10 percent. And then, of course, what of the 96 percent of priests who even if you credit the headlines are conducting their ministries well? See this article and its embedded links.

Third, having now reviewed the jaw-dropping evidence of the most premeditated and criminal cover-up – and at the highest levels – in the JFK assassination case, it seems to me that the assorted documentary ‘smoking guns’ in the Catholic matter constitute verrry weak ‘evidence’ of a cover-up in comparison.

If anything, the most salient point is the similarity in the tactic of distracting public attention from the most urgent and vital areas of inquiry.

If the Catholic Church and the Vatican are going to be held up as examples of ‘cover-up’, then what on earth should be done about the cover-up in the matter of the assassination? Because although it is now almost 47 years ago, the consequences of it were and remain huge: an elected government overawed by the ability of its most lethal and secret security forces to pull off such a brazen plan, and for several years afterward to continue to eliminate witnesses and – even from the National Archive! – evidence that contradicted the official ‘story’. This when the witnesses could not be suborned or the evidence couldn’t be falsified, as clearly happened in several instances.

If you subtract those Church documents that either clearly indicate or may quite reasonably be read as indicating a preference for a non-sensationalist handling of a particular matter, you will see that there are few documents of the This Is a Heinous Sin and Crime and We Are Going To Cover-It Up For Our Own Benefit variety.

But a stampede has to make do with whatever ‘loud noise’ is available to spook the herd.

And in the absence of a lot of solid dry wood, a bonfire has to be fueled with whatever vaguely combustible stuff that may be lying around.

In addition to helping old friends and cultural allies, of course, the papers are doing themselves a great favor: resurrecting ‘proven performers’ among their old great ‘stories’ in order to boost sales. Sort of like so much of Hollywood and Broadway output now merely re-hashing old gems from a bygone era, rather than undertaking the strenuous and demanding responsibility of creating new works.

And, neatly, the 4th Wave isn’t going after individual offending priests as did the first three. Because there aren’t any – not any new ones, anyway (though perhaps if the Statute of Limitations is pushed back to, say, 50 years – as Connecticut is now so Correctly considering – there may well be a new spate of allegations, even more indeterminate and indeterminable than the last).

So now, somewhat by default, it will have to be a run at the Vatican and the Papacy.
If I were an ‘advocate’, I’d be thinking the way the Beltway is now thinking: are folks finally starting to get so fed up that they’re not going to jump through all the old familiar hoops when prodded by all the old familiar cues?

Surely there have been some priests that have done genuinely awful things. (Though whether there are proportionately more than in the other professional groups and whether their cases were as ‘covered up’ as, say, the actual perps in the JFK assassination … are questions that still remain to be posed and answered.)

Many of the alleged-against are dead.

And thus those among the deceased who were truly guilty have ‘gotten away’.

But only from earthly justice, such as it is.

You wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when they faced Varsity justice, as it were.

But then, for that reality to be of any consolation, you’d have to believe in ‘the Varsity’, in a God Who Judges even (and especially) His official servants.

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