Monday, July 26, 2010


As I had mentioned in my immediately previous Post, the Army is going to make all 1.1.million or so of its troops – as currently defined – take a “positive thinking” course.

Bruce Levine’s article discussing it is here.

This will teach them “positive psychology” and “emotional resiliency”.

You’d think that such skills – at least in a general sort of way – would be something kids would get growing up. That is: being raised by parents into the skills and competencies of maturity. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said 45 years ago: “Families shape their children’s character and ability … by and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child”.

But he ran afoul of all sorts of ‘sensibilities’ with that profoundly accurate insight. The advocates for blacks who supplanted Martin Luther King were not interested in having honkies tell them about the ‘black’ family and the just-emerging radical-feminists already knew that the Family was the enemy of Woman and of all their own schemes, visions, and dampdreams.

So Moynihan got buried for his troubles (he came back, but no longer so generous with the truth).

LBJ had backed him up until things really got hot. In the Spring of 1965 LBJ had told an audience at Howard University that “when the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged … when it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled”.

Political Correctness managed to stifle or ridicule such wisdom, even when after some years the accuracy of those insights began to manifest itself in frakkulent consequences that undermined not only the inner-city black family but the white and middle-class family as well.

But ‘spin’ is only a matter of perception; you can put lipstick on a pig, but you can’t make a silk purse out of its ear. Pigskin is not silk – and the reason for that is NOT that you don’t have a ‘positive attitude’. Actual and real entities are just that: independently existing things or beings that do not require our approval or notice to exist.

We have reached a point in the national saga where the great Spin Campaign that accompanied the Revolutions of the Identities, fueled by scads of cash, is finally reaching a point where it can no longer plaster over all the cracks in the frakkulously shoddy Buildings that the Revolution has constructed.

As the Family has declined – or rather been Deconstructed, and with government’s vigorous help – the military found itself required to draw from a pool of kids who had been ‘liberated’, it turns out, from substantial swaths of the type of training and experience, the formation and the Shaping, that Parents in the Family setting (with the help of an interlocked extended-family) had provided to all the previous generations of military recruits.

In a general way, the kids began to increasingly display the effects of entitlement, lack of challenge, fewer internal strengths upon which to draw, less ability to postpone gratification, and an ominous presumption that none of that stuff was really necessary in the first place.

Oh, and increasing dependence on junk food and the inability to be without their personal communication devices (in the beginning, Walkmans and then on into the early Gameboys and up to the current panoply).

You can say that they simply reflected general trends in society, but that’s just kicking the can down the road into the next yard: We were developing a society that couldn’t produce mostly and reliably well-Grounded kids, ripe for the next Phases of maturing. LBJ’s maturationally ‘crippled’ children were issuing from an equally maturationally ‘crippled’ community.

Who knew?

And that was before the radical-feminists managed to run the Tailhook scam successfully while simultaneously assuring the country that a) there would be no more old-fashioned fighting because the USSR had collapsed and that b) even if there were the military could win quickly and cheaply like it did against Saddam and that c) everything was going to be hi-tech and you didn’t have to be a man to push buttons although d) ‘women’ can reliably do heavy fighting just like men can and e) if you didn’t think that then you needed to have your ‘perceptions’ and your ‘attitude’ adjusted and f) the military was primarily a job opportunity anyway and therefore also g) a Constitutional right and h) everybody would get used to it after a while so i) in the meantime just shut up and spin everything to look like everything is actually working out fine.

And – by golly – for a while that plan worked.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the national policy was to avoid fighting. The military could have devolved into a Scandinavian military on a huge scale – a nice socialization opportunity for kids and a chance to look nice in a nifty uniform perched on some hefty military vehicle.

But then the Beltway – in no small part due to its basset-like devotion to a country which had steadfastly refused to sign a treaty of alliance with Us – began to pursue policies that pretty much guaranteed that We would be doing more fighting. The hot ironies!

After the shock of 9-11, and under the pressure of the Bushling and his Darth-handler, the military was unable to stand up for itself – as much as it could have at that point. Because by that time the bosses had gotten where they were by going along with just about every Impossible Thing that they were asked to Believe Before Breakfast. And make sure that it ‘looked’ like a Good Idea that was ‘working’. And with absolutely no bad consequences.

Thus they let themselves drink the imperial Kool-Aid convinced that it was a Nebuchadnezzar of victory champagne well-earned by the ‘liberators’.

Ah well.

Thus came preventive war and a combination of hellish street-fighting and Occupation-style suppression of an increasingly complicated roster of terrorists, suspected terrorists, joyriding gun-shooters, patriotic members of the Resistance (how DARE they resist US?), and civilians of all ages and genders.

First in Iraq, and now also in Afghanistan – where there is somewhat less street-fighting and a whole lot more mountain fighting, which is what folks in those parts are bred for.

By some perverse and unforeseeable bit of bad luck, the military comprised of all those kiddos didn’t do well under the pressure of a bad strategic plan, a poorly thought out political plan, and an increasingly hostile or cynical population.

Especially when things got dragged out for years.

And even though more military ‘contractors’ were brought in than there were troops; partly to do the hunky work that uniformed troops used to do so as to free up more troops for combat, partly to provide more effective combat ‘teeth’ since – by some perverse and unforeseeable bit of bad luck – the troops weren’t holding up as well under pressure as had been expected, hoped, or dampdreamed.

Who could have been surprised? Were We under the impression – looking back to the Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast – that you could flood a military with dubiously prepared newbies while at the same time ‘demasculinizing’ it (reducing ‘stress’, abandoning real adherence to standards, corroding authority, not being ‘judgmental’) and still maintain combat efficiency?

And maintain – although the concept may seem incongruous – combat ‘maturity’?

Did We think it was actually possible that general officers – having learned to Believe A Dozen Impossible Things every day or at least to keep a verrry straight face – would retain their capacity to distinguish a workable strategic and tactical plan from a dampdream? And a frakkulently vicious dampdream at that?

Now We find out that 1 out of every 6 troops is on some sort of prescription psychiatric medication (let’s not ask about illegal drugs). The Pentagon doesn’t create costs for itself by prescribing drugs when they aren’t necessary, especially on such a vast scale.

Did We think that you could field a force where one-sixth of the troops are on psychiatric medication - some of them on multiple 'cocktails' of the stuff - and still maintain combat efficiency?

We have a weird way of 'supporting the troops'.

In an even more hell-hot irony, the military is now trying to run the same frakkulent gameplan that the Beltway and its assorted Advocacies have been running for decades: IT’S ALL IN YOUR ATTITUDE AND YOUR PERCEPTION.*

Do ya think there’s some serious downside to a new ‘reform’? It’s just your poor attitude – We will change it for you.

Do ya want to kick the tires of some new ‘reform’? It’s just your hateful and pessimistic attitude – We will change it for you.

Do ya get a really baaad feeling as you see what’s happening all around you? It’s just your oppositional and backlashing attitude – We will change it for you.

The assumption – Illusion, really – underlying it all is that the world has no reality of its own, beyond the individual’s or the specific group’s ‘perceptions’.

And if you have the Correct ‘attitude’ then your ‘perceptions’ will be Correct.


This lunacy would be grounds for advising professional help if We were talking about the neighbor next door. But through the good offices of the Beltway it pretty much became National Policy in the past 40 years.

For those 40 years any doubts – no matter how well explained or conceived, no matter how solidly grounded – were arrogantly dismissed as ‘backlash’ or ‘hatefulness’ or ‘quaintness’ … and the ship raced on into the dark bergy night.

No reality – and there was plenty of it, and more of it every year – was allowed to stand in the way: any un-Correct reality, any ‘consequences’, were ignored or explained away, or else the person(s) who noticed them were simply name-called into silence.

But War – who knew? – is one of those realities that is really a Reality: there’s only so far you can go ignoring what's actually going on and then you are faced with Reality. And most often it is shooting at you.

Generations of kids and professional generations of officers (all the way up to the top after the past few decades) had gotten used to the mushy, plastic, feel-good world spun by an America that no longer retained contact with much reality, preferring – in genuinely decadent style – to live in its illusions: oldsters rheumily recalled their salad days as the Greatest Generation; revolutionary cadres arrogantly dwelled in the consoling apocalyptic dampdream of their favorite agenda and its ‘vision’; and exponentially increasing numbers of youngsters found that they could remain in their childish ways rather than face the stern demand that they put away those things and develop a Self that could face the world.

And the Beltway pandered to them all.

You can’t do that in War. That notoriously obstreperous god, Ares Ferox et Atrox, pretty much runs his operation as he sees fit, once humans are give him some ground to work with.

So ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t have as much power as it might have in kindler, gentler, softer and less-demanding venues. Just like no amount of Correct browbeating and the threat of dire career-changing bureaucratic consequences are going to have any effect on the divine Ares. We are in his world now – and We put Ourselves there. Or let the government do it on Our authority.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘positive thinking’ per se. In fact, it’s a good thing for kids to learn, as early as possible (in childhood, under the tutelage of a committed and already-mature mother and father, say).

But if that childhood has been wasted or, worse, actively negative in its consequences for a kid’s development, then there will be no Self that can ‘platform’ (as military types like to say) the capability to think in a positive way. If the ship hasn’t been well-constructed at the shipyard, then no amount of whizz-bang add-ons to the upper-deck arrays are going to keep it afloat, especially in a storm. At sea.

Generations of kids, now, have been used as pawns in the on-going melodramtic soap-operas of their unripe parents’ personal whims and ‘choices’ and ‘autonomy’ and ‘liberation’. All with the deliberate strategic approval of assorted Advocacies (“the kids are the State’s problem” as one radical-feminist once arrogantly declared), backed by the full faith and authority of the Beltway.

As the Family – that indispensable ‘shipyard’ and ‘academy’ for human Masters and Commanders – has been Deconstructed, so the kids have suffered the most monstrously profound human deprivations. But since Maturity and Character and Self and Mastery were all considered “quaint” if not also “oppressive”, then their absence was spun – in best ‘positive thinking’ style – as ‘progress’ and ‘liberation’.


And to be alone facing Ares, on his own turf, with no sense of any ‘God’ on your side Accompanying you and doing a little bit of supply and down-field blocking … a battle-situation can get to be a hellishly lonely place really really fast.

Your options are: tune into your own primal hostility and literally go ‘berserk’; turn up your personal music device and close your eyes; get some drugs to make the pain go away. **

The military has apparently found that no amount of AA and AAA batteries can stem the psychic tide, so it has turned to drugs. In staggering quantities. And wants to try to impose a crash-course of 'positive thinking' - perhaps on the witless Beltway-ish assumption that the human self is plastic and that government action can compensate for profound failures in early development and maturing.

And do you think that when a kid comes back from this type of war – having been shot at, having faced Ares, perhaps berserkerly having killed innocents – and on top of that having been on psychoactive medication for months or even years under intense pressure … do you think that such a kid is going to be ready for prime-time in the civilian world?

No doubt the Pentagoons who are assigned to run this program – in the sure and certain hope of a nifty medal and a promotion – are selling this to the desperate brass as a ‘force-multiplier’: this program will enable each of Our troops to increase performance by a factor of (fill in the blank – and let yourself be optimistic and positive).

You might as well introduce plague-laden rats onto the battlefield as all these drugs.

And as for ‘optimism’: those eerily adult boys who bore the brunt of the Civil War battles weren’t ‘optimistic’ … they were DETERMINED. They had been raised into a world where you had to take on adult responsibilities earlier rather than later; they were secure in the knowledge that – however hidden in the Fog of Life – there was a God who would sustain them and in the end recognize their efforts and indeed redeem them; they were convinced that the Cause in which they suffered and exerted their utmost was quite literally Just and Good.

They lived in a world, therefore, hell and gone from Ours, especially in the past 40 years.

And as Levine notes, there are times when ‘positive thinking’ isn’t going to really be the most realistic way to go. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer remarked of his beloved Germany in the mid-‘30s: “Once you have gotten on the wrong train, walking backwards through the cars isn’t going to help much”.

The only realistic thinking – and in that sense genuinely constructive – that could have been embraced in the half-hour after Titanic struck the berg was to realize she was doomed, accept the enormous shock of her imminent sinking, and then brace yourself to your duties and get folks efficiently into the boats (inadequate as the supply was).

Mooning about on the bridge ‘bravely’ and ‘optimistically’ thinking that this ship couldn’t sink … was the height of lethal fatuity. And a profound existential failure if you were charged in duty with the safety of so many lives.

(Of course, it was also a profound existential and moral failure of duty for the designers – under pressure from the owners who were paying the bill – to allow her to be built with so few lifeboats. But such a Consequence as actually came to happen was so far removed from the designers and builders and owners when they were putting her together that they could so much more easily embrace their self-serving Illusions.)***

America can fail? America can lose a war? This is not ‘positive thinking’. It wasn’t for the Captain of Titanic, it wasn’t for LBJ as Vietnam started to go south, and it isn’t now.

We have most of the field force over there; they are supplemented by even more ‘contractors’ than there are troops; they are supplemented not only by National Guard units but also by thousands of Navy and Air Force personnel who have been quietly sent over to function as Army troops; and now 1 of every 6 has to be put on psychiatric drugs.

And this is supposed to go on for years.

For a country that is so hysterically concerned for ‘the children’, We have a weird way of showing it.

And We are not going to win this ‘war’ even if We do win it – which in any case is hugely dubious.
The troops who return from all this are not going to be well-placed for living in society. Even in whatever condition American society is going to be in by the time they get back.

So much then remains to be done.


*You can’t do better than to review this piece to realize how much ‘reform’ is really a matter of Illusion and ‘perception’ rather than any serious reliance on solid facts.

This is a site that is – according to its Tag line – dedicated to “Inspiring Sociological Imaginations Everywhere”. Nice enough, but such a purpose is clearly an exercise in imagination and ‘hope’ (however fatuous and misplaced). Further, it is the type of gambit that is eminently suited to academia and classrooms: ‘let’s imagine that …’ whatever and such-and-such and so forth and so on. Given the infinite plasticity of the imagination, and given the rarefied and non-material nature of academic speculation and the classroom setting, you can play with Imagination and Vision and What-Might-Be all day as a child continually reshaped play-dough.

The article in the link reviews some official military (Navy, in this case) recruiting stuff that is targeted at young females. You can be ruff-tuff and break new ground in “redefining femininity” by joining the Navy. A bunch of GI-Jane types (whether actual Navy persons or just hired actresses is uncertain) strike classic military tough-person poses, in all the right uniforms.

Differences between males and females – according to the Naval philosopher-flak who wrote the ad’s text – are “stereotypes’. THIS is an assertion that doesn’t even qualify scientifically as a Hypothesis. But it is one of the core ‘justifications’ of the entire radical-feminist agenda: that there are not now and never have been any actual differences between the male and female of the species (Evolution therefore is not considered valid – at least where human sex differences are involved); and that consequently all such putative and ‘traditional’ differences (going back to the beginning of human societies) are merely patriarchal oppression.

No other explanation can be Correctly discussed.

Is it possible that there indeed are fundamental differences (quite possibly built-into the species by Evolution, which has done so everywhere else in the organic world)? And that the species recognized that reality from its earliest times and built its societies around that accurately perceived reality?

But the radical-feminists, surfing ever so shrewdly the wave of the Civil Rights Movement, cast ‘patriarchy’ as the Jim Crow regime, and ‘mehnnnn’ as the Jim Crow Southerners, and hence their ‘oppression’ constituted an outrage and Constitutional deprivation against ‘women’ that was even greater than what Jim Crow had been doing to blacks.

Creating, by the by, or rather re-creating in gender politics a new Civil War where the Feds were the Yankees and ‘mehhhhn’ were the Confederates.

And, more specifically here, creating a current military situation where actual combat efficiency, utterly indispensable when facing ‘War’ – which cannot be spun or wished away or ‘re-perceived’ as something less awful – has been hugely degraded.

**You can now add getting-pregnant or complaining that you were ‘raped’ by one of your own side’s ‘heroes’ to the list of options, but it only works for a certain military demographic. . And I’d kinda like to know the gender-breakdown of that 1-in-6 figure who are receiving psychiatric drugs; although it’s possible that – as the Navy did with recording pregnancy cases in the first Gulf War – the Army, so very slyly, ‘doesn’t keep records or stats of that sort’.

***Yes, it was not simply the lack of adequate boats, reduced in number to give her upper decks a ‘cleaner’ appearance. Inferior rivets in vital spots, the compromise of her bulkheads’ capability by reducing their height to give her a more imposing formal staircase … all played their part as well.


By amazing coincidence, a week or less after admitting the drug statistics amd its plans for 'positive thinking, on July 29th the Army releases a report admitting that its suicide rate surpasses the civilian population and that 'risky behavior' has also increased to worrying levels. There is a link within the press release to the full Report.


The bodies of two US Navy sailors were recovered in a remote part of Afghanistan. One had been trained as a cook; the other as a Hull Technician (works on the hulls of ships). While there is a great deal of chin-stroking about why the two had taken an armed SUV and gone out into ‘unsecure’ countryside, I point out that the bigger question is: what were Navy personnel doing so far from ships, water, and … stuff like that.

The answer is that for quite some time the Navy has been sending along personnel it doesn’t need for its dwindling number of ships, to help the Army and the Pentagon keep the troop numbers up in the Greater Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. So Junior can join the Navy and wind up in the equivalent of Fort Courage out in the hills of the desert badlands.

For more on that little gambit, see my Post of February of this year here.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010


Once again, ‘The Nation’ tries to grapple with the National Situation without in any way exposing the frakkery preceding the admittedly frakkulous Past Ten Years.

Christopher Hays writes a lead comment in the print edition for August 2/9, 2010.
We have huge deficits, he says. Agreed.

They are the result of 3 things: “the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, and the recession”.

To which I respond: Willy-Tango-Foxtrot? … yet again.

The ancient Chinese were right: if you don’t first Rectify the Names and define the problem accurately, then you are not going to have much of a chance of effectively solving the problem.

Hays – because he is trying to address the National Problem as best he can WITHIN the parameters of Correct thought – has brought a conceptual knife to a gunfight.

We were in trouble long before the egregious Bushling and his Dark Handler arrived (courtesy of a Supreme Court that figured that what it had done for the Left in Roe v. Wade it could do for the Right in Bush v. Gore.

The knowledge-and-service economy is and always has been a phantasm, a dampdream erected by the Advocacies and embraced by their Beltway panderers in order to justify a short-range revolutionary agenda that involved – for the radical-feminists – Deconstructing Industial-Male-White America and – for the Beltway – pandering to the radical-feminists and the other Identities while collecting PAC cash for letting the hyper-corporations outsource all over the globe, making money for investors and managers and bankers while reducing American workers to a probable serfdom.

The knowledge and service (K&S) economy cannot exist without the massive support of the Beltway, sitting on top of the economy produced by that Industrial America, that originally embraced it.

Otherwise, there are not enough K&S jobs: not only for working-class folks trying to raise a family (although the cadres’ agenda is to Deconstruct the Family too) but also for college kids … there aren’t enough high-paying lah-de-dah jobs for them either (NONE of the elites want to consider THAT just yet).

Ditto “the welfare state”, whose continued sustainment is Hay’s most urgent Correct concern. All those Identities (‘women’, immigrants, youth, assorted victims of Men or Life or History or God) are dependent upon the government, although to make more ‘cultural space’ for them their Advocates killed the Industrial Goose that laid the Beltway’s Golden Eggs. And those Eggs were what the Beltway had promised to pass out to the Identies … and the toe-bone’s connected to the foot-bone, and the foot-bone’s connected to the ankle-bone … you get the picture.

They are SO going to laugh at Us in future eras.

He’s all worked up because the ‘conservatives’ – taking a cynical political stance purely for electoral gain – are braying that there can be no deficits.

But the ‘liberals’ wish to be seen taking the high-road: run up deficits to help folks. And, after all, since close to three-quarters of the country are now Identities dependent on the liberals’ vaunted welfare-state, that would be electorally to advantage.

But the same ‘liberals’ do NOT want to admit what is bothering the ‘conservatives’ (to the extent that those worthies have thought about things at all): there is no more ‘wealth’ at the Beltway’s disposal. There are only the printing presses that churn out paper Dollars like ticker-tape strips, to be tossed off the roofs of government buildings on the rich rainbow parade of Identities below.

But how long will the nations of the world put up with this? They own Our debt and don’t want to see the Dollar printed into irrelevance.

Of course the ‘liberals’ could simply imagine – as they have for 40 years – that the Beltway they had worked so hard *and successfully) to indenture will go on being on-top-of-the-world forever. Just like Boomers who imagined that they would be thin and have hair and smooth heels forever and intend to die trying, if indeed they intend to die at all.

But – as the Apostle observed soberly quite some time ago – there comes a time when you have to “put away the things of a child”. But he also apparently wasn’t impressed with females, personally, so it’s OK to ignore everything he and the rest of his Book says. It is axiomatic in Correct thought these days that if you can find one thing a little off in somebody’s thought, then you can ignore the whole of it. Sort of like, if your father (google it if you have to) thinks that you don’t need a cell-phone then he’s so dumb that it’s OK to ignore him when he says you aren’t going to take the family car if you’re drunk or mega-buzzed on Red Bull.

This is a terrible human crisis, says Hays. We need the government to spend even if it means deficits – that’s what makes economies recover.

Well, that’s what makes healthy economies recover when they have a solid and sufficient productive base and just have a cash-and-confidence problem.

But We are into new territory here: the patient doesn’t just have a Great Depression problem.

The patient, rather, is a trauma-room trainwreck**:

there is no longer a solid or sufficient productive base;

there is even some question as to whether a society so divided, entitled, spoiled and en-Victimed as Ours can even sustain the effort necessary to rebuild one;

the government has squandered not only all of its ready cash but all of its credit;

the productivity that would generate more real wealth has been outsourced;

the creditors themselves are leery of throwing good wealth after bad;

if you print up more money to meet the government’s legitimate or expected obligations to its assorted citizens, then you debase the Dollar;

but if you don’t print up Dollars to at least keep up appearances and prevent the entire population from realizing what has really happened on your watch, then you are going to be faced with a whole lotta unhappy folks who have just realized that they have been done-unto in a way not all the Level-3 Sex Offenders in the country could have accomplished in a gazillion years of concerted effort.

And if folks start realizing that they’ve been diddled, robbed and in divers ways bamboozled, then you face a problem in sustained electoral viability (not to mention sustained political legitimacy) that can only be termed (in polite British understatement) “extraordinary”.

In which case the Party’s over on sooo many levels. Certainly, the Parties are over.

So you can see where Hays is right that there is a growing “hysteria” in the precincts of the Beltway these days. Their Great Party (as in Binge) is over – and while the Last Ten Years were certainly stunning in their arrogant stupidity, the enabling derangements had been inflicted upon the many foundation piers (the maturity and political competence of the Citizenry, the unity of The People, the industrial base that simultaneously employed and produced salable goods, the confidence of all Citizens in each other and in their common future and in their Constitutional Republic, and the solid Grounding of all individuals – Citizens and elected officials – in the worth of Maturity, Integrity, and Decency) during the previous Thirty Years of deliberate Deconstruction.

But how can anybody – especially at ‘the Nation’ – admit to all of that? By this point, so much damage has been done and the consequences are becoming so very undeniable that not even the shrewdly sustained illusions of master professional flaks can hide the truth; even the champagne flutes are sliding off the tables in the first class saloon.

Hays is trying to square a circle: he claims that with “official unemployment at 9.5 percent” there should be no talk of deficits. The figure 9.5, I take it, is meant to indicate that things are a little worse that the Beltway would like, but nothing to worry about. But then a few paragraphs later he quotes the ever-Correct ‘New York Times’ as to “the need for a stimulus in the face of astronomically high unemployment” … thus that things are sooooo bad that you can’t possibly talk about deficits (like the Republicans are doing). But of course, if unemployment is THAT high, then things are a hell of a lot worse than the Beltway wants to admit to Us. Or – could this be? – realizes itself.

Hays berates “congressional Democrats” for going along with the Iraq War. But by the time of the Iraq War in 2003, the Democrats had been feeding off Tip O’Neill’s shrewd master-plan for almost 30 years: pander to Big Pain and Big Identity for your votes while pandering to Big Money for your (now perfectly legal) PAC cash. Everybody wins! And the Game would go on and on – pretty much the nomenklatura’s game-plan in the USSR in that same era of the mid-1970s.

Hays has to keep his focus short – those Past Ten Years – lest anyone really start thinking and connecting the dots and tracing the Fatal Bullet’s trajectory all the way back to the Dems.

But squaring a circle isn’t so hard nowadays: as with the Red Queen who so loved to lecture Alice, far too many Americans have gotten used to believing as many as Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast – every day for 40 years:

that Evolution is real except that somehow it isn’t operative in human beings when it comes to the biological predispositions and competences of the respective sexes;

that a knowledge-and-service society can support the world’s largest and most stable economy and that it can provide decent jobs for almost all of the nations now-300 million people;

that you can double the work-force overnight while halving the jobs and not create monstrous employment problems;

that you can bring in millions of unskilled immigrants but that won’t have an adverse effect on the employment problem;***

that children can grow up without any stable parenting and not be the worse for it;

that human beings can sustain a Constitutional Republic as it rests on the great traditions of the West even when they no longer respect the West’s achievements;

that a nation full of people who see themselves as ‘entitled’ and as ‘victims’ can somehow muster and sustain the robust will to wrest and Shape a sufficient future from the lethal complexities of life and history;

that human beings can dwell in a Flattened two-dimensional world with no Beyond and still maintain the courage and composure to continue to live and work together;

and that a nation that acknowledges no Virtue and no Authority that might hold accountable its citizens or its government can remain virtuous and decent.

Oh, and that you can kill the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs but still have fresh Golden Eggs forever.

America has become a fairy tale – which was what the radical-feminists and the Multiculturalists had been braying all along.

Hays takes heart from the fact that recent polls (Congressfolk don’t actually (dare to) go out and meet their constituencies much anymore) show that citizens want unemployment benefits continued.

OF COURSE they do. There’s no other income for them. Their retirements were blown by the financial cowboys and life-rapers who had paid off Congress to look the other way; their savings are used up; their credit cards are maxed and their houses stripped of usable equity; the only jobs available are in supermarkets and coffee-shops … Hays is suggesting that now that the main deck is so close to the water, 3rd-class will be able to bathe much more easily. And few even remember the words to “Nearer, my God, to Thee” – although it may offer their best hope for any improvement, or at least consolation.

We should all be more optimistic, I suppose.

In a stunning irony and coincidence, the military announces that all of its 1 million-plus troops are going to be taking “positive thinking” courses. Apparently so that they can learn not to be ‘depressed’ about the way things are going, since it’s better to be ‘optimistic’ and that’s so much more ‘American’.****

Americans of the classic age were not ‘optimistic’ – they were ‘determined’.

But it takes a hell of a lot of Groundedness to generate and sustain, to ‘platform’, genuine determination.

And few kids raised in the entitled-victim culture of the past 40 years are going to be able to do it – unless they simply surrender themselves to pure visceral hate.

One in every six is on some form of psychiatric drug – and many are taking multiple-drug ‘cocktails’.

Were you under the impression – looking back to the Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast – that you could flood a military with dubiously prepared newbies while at the same time ‘demasculinizing’ it (reducing ‘stress’, abandoning real adherence to standards, corroding authority, not being ‘judgmental’) and still maintain combat efficiency?

Did you think it was actually possible that general officers – having learned to Believe A Dozen Impossible Things every day or at least to keep a verrry straight face – would retain their capacity to distinguish a workable strategic and tactical plan from a dampdream? And a frakkulently vicious dampdream at that?

Not only are the problems now merging into one another, but the general predispositions and incompetences of the Beltway – enabled by the passivity and political incompetence of a Citizenry bethumped for decades by political manipulation from Left and Right – are merging together into a toxic yet dynamic mass.

I can only offer the words of Joseph Goebbels in the one thing I could ever agree with him on: Nun volk, steh’ auf! Now, People, stand up! (the alternative reading could be ‘rise up’ … but I really really don’t want to go down that road ever at all).

But I’m no fortune-teller and things are on the table that back in more decent times would never have gotten there.


*Think of the knowledge-and-service economy, and the concomitant necessary Deconstruction of the so-called Male Industrial Economy, as traffic coming onto a freeway from an on-ramp.
Theoretically, the traffic coming on is capable of traveling at the same speed and maintaining that speed; the fresh traffic merges and moves along.

But what has happened in the Deconstructed Post-Industrial Economy – and indeed the entire national Mindset and Heartset – does not at all follow that template.

The traffic coming on – women, immigrants (legal yet also illegal) and so forth – is not able to keep up that speed. Perhaps it was never expected to. INSTEAD: the new traffic has to travel much ‘slower’ – that is to say, rather than simply keeping up to the pace of Industrial productivity and the Sense that such challenges require all the ‘traffic’ to possess, a consequence of all the fresh traffic is that the entire traffic flow on the freeway has had to be slowed down to conform to the limitations of the fresh traffic.

This has been spun as ‘reform’ – as always – and ‘progress’.

Relationality rather than productivity has become the primary mode of the traffic now. This is much more convenient to the fresh traffic, but it has wreaked havoc with the original traffic and its very real objectives and purposes.

Nor is this accidental. The radical-feminist vision was realistic enough to realize (but never admit) that females by and large were not going to simultaneously maintain both job-productivity AND reliability: women, even when ‘liberated’, demonstrate (bless them) an enduring desire for motherhood, for having children. No surprise there to anyone who understands and accept Evolution; but THAT is precisely what the radical-feminist vision cannot admit (or admit that it cannot admit).

The knowledge-and-service ‘economy’ is thus hobbled by the ‘softer’ pace of Relationality and by the need to accept that female employees, by and large, are going to have to sacrifice some amount of reliably sustained Productivity in favor of other priorities.

This can hardly have been an unforeseen consequence. Hence the Beltway’s short-sighted embrace of its twin objectives: pander to the radical-feminist vision in order to garner votes, while keeping corporate swag flowing into the PAC coffers by allowing American-chartered corporations to outsource production jobs to countries that will a) work more cheaply and b) work more reliably.

That illusion – that the country can indulge the Advocacy dampdreams while remaining the world’s most wealthy and productive economy – could be sustained only so long as b) there was enough ‘money’ flowing around the country to enough citizens so that they’d ‘feel’ wealthy while a) there was enough left of American economic primacy on the world stage so that the Beltway could borrow or otherwise ‘create’ (increasingly not through Production but through Financial Transactions) actual wealth.

In 2008 the frakkulent policies devised to keep the Illusion going finally collapsed under their own unregulated arrogance and the weight of the entire impossible scheme, and now the Beltway has no cash left (40 percent of every Dollar the government has is already now committed to debt-service for its borrowing).

But it cannot admit it. To do so would be to admit that the fundamental thrust of Social Policy for the past 40 years has been wrong, tethered to an impossible Illusion. And to force corporations to stop out-sourcing and recall their Production to this country would be to dry up the flow of PAC swag to which almost all national pols are now indentured.

And, of course, it would undermine fatally the status of all the current national ‘elites’ and their ‘elite thinking’.

**ER shorthand for a patient with multiple life-threatening problems, where doing the required intervention to solve one of the problems automatically exacerbates one or several or all of the other problems. For which a Chaplain is best summoned – stat … but then, this Hospital no longer has such decadent and ‘quaint’ creatures on staff. This is not simply a knowledge-and-service society, but a ‘secular’ one.

***William Finnegan, in ‘The New Yorker’ for July 26, 2010 (page 19), notes that the hallmark of the late-20th century immigration wave is that it is “the first in our history in which many, if not most, immigrants have come here illegally”.

This is a result of the Beltway – pandering to Identity Politics and its frakkulently specious theory of Multiculturalism – looking the other way as huge numbers of immigrants were allowed to accumulate illegally but unchecked, in order to quickly build up the numbers of non-whites (so to speak) who would help the officially embraced process of Deconstructing that White, Industrial, Male Economy, while also helping the corporations break the back of the unions and deflate the expectations of Americans that their government’s policies would sustain and support the achievements of the post-Depression and post-WW2 era when American workers achieved a world-class level of security and benefits for themselves and their families.

This constituted a hidden treachery without precedent in the history of the American polity.

****I'll be putting up a longer Post on this military development shortly.

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How We Got Here

I spend a lot of time talking about the last forty Biblical years. My concern is that this country has been A) wracked not so much by ‘change’ as by often (but not always) highly dubious change and that B) the quality of Tire Kicking that went into assessing those changes – before and after they were adopted – has been abysmal and that C) I think that such poor assessment was purposely embraced in order to prevent the flaws in the ‘changes’ from interfering with their imposition and that D) in order to minimize the potential obstruction to these changes the public – the Citizenry – has been cut off from accurate information and cut out of the deliberation process (such as it was) through distraction and manipulation.

All of which 1) has resulted in these dubious and dangerously flawed ‘changes’ inflicting tremendous damage along the entire spectrum of cultural and operational principles that enable this or any country to ‘work’ and 2) has seriously undermined the political competence of the Citizenry – The People and 3) has seriously compromised the operational integrity (and perhaps the functional legitimacy) of the several decades’ of the Beltway ‘players’ who have initiated and sustained this increasingly dense and intense jungle of wrack and frak.
And that We should do something – choosing from among what still might be done from a shrinking set of options.

We observe this month the 45th anniversary of the Moynihan Report – a constructive and acute effort to identify and address a core dynamic of a problem that was of national importance.

But instead, and primarily among those who were – as they would now be called – ‘players’, the Report was mis-characterized, its insights and observations ignored, by persons in government or in positions of national significance who knew or should have known better.

With the result that not only were hundreds of billions – possibly a trillion or two – thrown at the wrong ‘solutions’, but that the Beltway – as it emerged from precisely this type of dynamic – continued pouring good money and effort after bad while ignoring or denying the gravity of their error and continuing to impede the Citizenry’s ability to deliberate about and judge the performance of the Beltway and the effect – and consequences – of its failures.

To say nothing of the generations of lives condemned to wrack and wreck. Let’s not forget: a five-year old in that year of 1965 is now 50, and as a grand-parent or great-grandparent is now followed by several full generations that were and are themselves subject to that dynamic wrack and wreck.

We cannot allow Ourselves to remain unaware of the nature and extent of the bad ideas, nor of the nature and extent of the bad consequences that have flowed from the Beltway’s adoption and sustained retention of them. We cannot allow Ourselves to settle into the ‘contented’ illusion that such bad things happen to countries and societies in the natural course of events or into the dulled and paralyzing illusion that there’s nothing We can do because it’s ‘the government’.

We are The People. We are the governors of the government, We are its employers; the Beltway – repugnant as it is – exists Of, By, and For Us; and it appears at this point that if the pitcher doesn’t step in to save his own game, then the game will be lost … since the quality of batting is no longer even minimally competent.

So let’s get to it.

On the 40th anniversary of the Moynihan Report, Kay S. Hymowitz wrote a longish piece detailing clearly the long and sad history of the Moynihan Report.

At this point, she wrote 5 years ago, close to “70 percent of black children are born to single mothers” and those mothers “are far more likely than married mothers to be poor” and are thus “more likely to pass on their poverty to their children”.

These stunning facts are not the realities of 1965 but rather the realities of 2005, after – yes – forty Biblical years of massive governmental effort and expenditure (during which, by the by, the government in Washington morphed into ‘the Beltway’).

“Sophisticates”, she notes acidly, “often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life”.

And thereby hangs a huge tale. Because as part of the dynamic of ‘the Beltway’ the Citizenry has been increasingly locked out of effective input into major national programs and policies, their role and energy diverted, distracted, or dulled by deliberate misinformation and thought-squashing Political Correctness … which has left political power in the hands of the now-familiar ‘elites’ and ‘sophisticates’ who infest Washington like plague-rats, holding in self-interested thrall the pols who actually control the purse-strings and authority. Our purse-strings and Our authority.

And having already made Mistake 2 by dodging the bad consequences of their bad Plan (Mistake 1 was adopting that Plan in the first place) the Correct elites now try to spin the whole thing – as has always been the fallback strategy of Revolution – as ‘normal’, as the ‘new normal’ so there’s no use talking about it anymore.

Neat. You can say it doesn’t work, you can say it never should have been implemented, but it’s here now and the Revolution has won and you lose because – like it or not – it’s a done deal and too far gone to fix now.

One of the defenses, by the by, the Supreme Court made about Roe in its Casey decision decades later. And I wonder now if this isn’t going to be the ‘legacy’ of so much of the dreck that’s passed for national policy and ‘reform’ and ‘change’ and ‘liberation’ now: Well, it’s done and that’s that.

But Hymowitz asserts that “the prophetic report prompted civil rights leaders, academics, politicians and pundits to make a momentous – and, as time has shown, tragically wrong – decision about how to frame the national discussion about poverty”.

Note that the persons making that huge mistake were the ‘good guys’ in the script of the post-1965 era. And I think part of the reason Americans were taken for so long and frakkulous a ride was that after the impressive performance of Dr. King they sort of felt – out of admiration and a desire to fix things – that they could trust these apparently competent folks to do the fixing accurately. Alas.

I don’t agree with Hymowitz on the ‘tragic’ bit: I think you would have to add ‘treacherously’. Because these folks made choices in the knowledge that the choice flew in the face of actualities – the very actualities everybody trusted them to fix. And not just once, but over and over again, for decades, even until now. I can’t imagine all that being done – after a while – without a certain amount of calculated cynicism; all of them - and the pundits and the pols not the least – had to have realized after a bit that they had taken the wrong course … but they have kept on.

And after a while the necessary conceptual task of ‘framing’ rotted into the manipulative deceit of ‘spinning’ the ‘story’ so as to make the increasing failures look like successes, OR at least to make anybody who noticed the failures and spoke up look like ‘baaaaaad’ people.

This was achieved in great part through a hardly inaccurate insight made by a psychologist, William Ryan: “blaming the victim”. You see this in any garden variety psychotherapy: a person who is locked into a pattern that harms others will, to relieve the psychic pressures of guilt on him/herself, instead transfer that guilt onto the person s/he is harming.

His insight as such was not particularly news. But when he put it into a book in 1971 and then sought to apply it as THE PRIMARY dynamic to national discourse about the poverty question, he embarked down a fraught path indeed. The problem of poverty – especially in the ‘ghetto’ – in this country was far too complex to be reduced to a single explanatory concept.

Worse – hugely worse – was that his nicely phrased bit (perfect for a sound-bite or a trump come-back in conversation) became THE trump that did not further but rather ended discussion, deliberation, and debate: if you don’t simply agree then you are ‘blaming the victim’.

This represented not only profound conceptual inadequacy but a profound corruption and corrosion of the maturity of public discourse: it was an ad hominem assault designed merely to shut somebody up and stop and further analysis: any person who would ‘blame the victim’ was clearly ‘insensitive’ and ‘racist’ and fill-in-the-blank.

Worse, given the huge ‘change’ that was required to implement the frakkulously wrong ‘framing’, and given the fact that the solution was so out of sync with the actualities of the problem it was supposed to solve, and that such verrrry important folks as national pols and mainstream pundits and academics had staked their creds and professional viability to the inaccurate framing and those policies, then the term was thrown around with reckless abandon.

The results for the national discourse and for the competence of the Citizens to conduct it were lethal: overnight you EITHER agreed OR you were just ‘blaming the victim’ (in the even more frakkulent radical-feminist revolution that followed in short order, the buzzword sibling for ‘blaming the victim’ was ‘backlashing’). And if you were so baaaad a person as to blame the victim then clearly your ideas didn’t need to be – nor deserved to be – heard and listened to in the national discourse.

Many of the follow-on social ‘revolution’ movements deployed Ryan’s zinger, and it even assumed a toxic variant in the then-increasingly evident debate about the role of the Israeli state in American affairs.

Moynihan had set out merely to help ensure that the Civil Rights movement would result in policies that would accurately address the actual challenges blacks faced, especially in the ghetto setting, that might hinder the movement to equality as well as to liberty.

Studying the government-compiled figures he had noticed an alarming trend: “single-parent families were on the rise in the ghetto”. Worse, “there more blacks out of work in 1964 than in 1954”. Worse still, black females were joining the welfare roles in increasing numbers.

These were truly of concern and Moynihan wanted to take a look so that whatever was going wrong could quickly be addressed.

Nobody could doubt the rise of single-parent (almost always the female, the mother) families in the ghetto setting. But Moynihan didn’t think that it was primarily the result of a lack of jobs for black males, the fathers of those ghetto households.

Instead he thought that a more significant and powerful element was “a destructive vein in ghetto culture that could be traced back to slavery and Jim Crow discrimination”. This was an idea that the black sociologist E. Franklin Frazier had introduced in the 1930s, but already by 1965 Moynihan discovered that the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the social-science community had somehow changed: now everything problematic had to be attributed to something other than the black community itself.

Weirdly, the therapeutic commonplace about ‘blaming the victim’ (Ryan hadn’t invented it; he’d just written a book applying it on a national level) was being applied to the black community, but without therapy’s core insistence on a patient/client’s acceptance of responsibility for fixing what’s gone wrong in his/her life (it IS, after all, his/her life).

(Nowadays, this insistence is only imposed upon convicts in assorted prison ‘rehabilitation’ programs and other types such as alcoholics, drug-addicts, and impaired drivers. And Iraqis who can’t seem to rise to the opportunities of their uninvited ‘liberation’.)

‘Structuralism’ had come to be the dominant and conventional framing wisdom of the day: large forces beyond the power of any individual shape modern societies, so you can’t hold individuals responsible – and so all the stuff about ‘responsibility’ for ‘mastering and conducting’ your life ‘well’ suddenly became ‘quaint’ because underneath the surfaces of modern life you were being tossed around like a cork on an ocean (which, neatly, made you sort of a ‘victim’ no matter what you did).

You can see where all of this could easily lead. And to far too great an extent, has.

It had been Teddy Roosevelt’s insight in the late 1890s and early 1900s that government must be actively deployed to help individual Citizens against the novel and frightening accumulation of wealth, power ,and political influence concentrated in mega-corporations … so that the individual Citizen could conduct his/her own life (including, TR would have assumed, responsible parenting of a family) with some effective degree of sufficient liberty.

A little over half a century later, in the mid-1960s, that had changed into the beginnings of the National Nanny State: only government can really muster the power to shape the lives of the Citizens who – by the by – are otherwise really nothing more than victims of huge forces beyond their control. (Bush the Egregious would take it a step further: hence everybody should just go shopping while the government took care of things … but you could only play that card if the government was rolling in cash, and those days are gone, baby, gone.)

Which also, now that We’re on the subject, spelled the difference between what used to be called “the deserving poor” and what now can’t too loudly be called “the entitled poor”: the former category described those who were working hard at trying to conduct a life and sustain a family, but the breaks were simply not going their way – hence they were people in difficult circumstances who ‘deserved’ help because they were of ‘good heart’ and would use the help well.

Whereas the ‘entitled poor’ – a phenomenon of the later Nanny State era – were and had been taught to be ‘victims’ who were essentially helpless to improve their situation but were provided with assorted benefits and urged to ‘live the dream’ because they deserved to. A vision and a policy such as the Nanny State required a government hugely wealthy … and at this point I wonder just what will happen to several generations of such folk who have been led on by government policies and ‘support’ that the government is not going to be in a position to continue.

The government’s choice was to take the easier low-road of political pandering rather than take the high-road, and harder road, of facing – just as the patient/client must do in genuine therapy – the actual problems head-on and constructing and sustaining a way to work through them. Huge swaths of recent generations of Americans – and not simply the ‘black poor’ or whatever the Correct term might be now – have been raised with a functional incompetence in the great task of facing Self and Life and conducting both ‘well’. Depending on their parents’ – or what passes for such now – resources, such generations have been showered with stuff and gadgets or junk food; and taught to pursue merely a status (brilliant-baby, college-grad, entitlement-receptor or fill-in-the-blank).

Moynihan himself, back there in 1965, warned of a developing “tangle of pathology” in which “delinquency, joblessness, school failure, crime and fatherlessness that characterized the ghetto” would become what might be called today ‘the new normal’. And such a surround, such a milieu, would prove lethal to the personal maturity and growth of individuals trapped in it, undermining whatever financial benefits and opportunities government might provide ‘from the outside’ as it were.

Three huge and unforeseen consequences have, from the vantage point of 2010, flowed in: First, the rise of radical-feminism’s Deconstruction of the matrix American vision of mature persons pursuing a comprehensive and socially responsible liberty and equality has deliberately undermined the life-developmental goals of generations of Americans; not only Family and Parental Authority but any standards of personal maturity and ‘character’ – ‘the new normal’ is that there IS no ‘normal’ and that the entire search for ‘normal’ is itself ‘oppressive’ and patriarchal.

Second, that the government’s role in an individual’s life outweighs any role for the individual’s Self – male or female; and that further, such helpless persons ‘just don’t get it’ and need to be led by their elites rather than have their thoughts heard in genuine public deliberation and discourse. In this new vision, the ‘voice’ of the individual is only to be heard in complaint or happy-face burbles … serious critical thought and analysis, which is the sine qua non for people to function as The People, are reserved to the elites (who, in the new knowledge-and-service society – itself a phantasm and a dampdream – will be the ones with the status and high salaries).

And at the heart of Moynihan’s assessment was his assumption as to the tremendous value of “the basic socializing unit of the family” – which, as I say, was to be Deconstructed by the rising radical-feminist tide, along with half the population (the male half).

“Families”, said Moynihan, “shape their children’s character and ability” and “by and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child”. Which in the feminist vision is nonsense since ‘character’ and ‘ability’ are oppressive and judgmental terms and anyway nobody has the right to ‘impose’ any particular Shape on an individual, who in the vision is born totally and radically ‘free’ of any restraints or ‘nature’ at all.

And this is the third huge consequence: a complete loss of any sense of a common human-ness, traditionally referred to as a ‘human nature’, by which the young can set their compasses as to a Pole Star. And a concomitant embrace of the hugely whackulent presumption that the human self is a completely and ‘totally’ plastic entity that not only cannot be ‘imposed’ upon but that can adapt itself in any way it cares to. Which is the essence of childish immaturity erected into a Plan.

And adopted, alas, by the Beltway into national policy.

LBJ had grasped the validity of Moynihan’s insights. At Howard University in the Spring of 1965 he had given a widely-noticed speech assuring the black graduates that he would ensure that the government would remain committed to “outcomes” and “results”. What he meant was that the government would clear the runway of any obstructions so that the aspiring young black pilots would be able to achieve those outcomes without artificially-imposed blocks such as imposed by Jim Crow (not so much those imposed by a capitalist society – but it was 1965 and capitalism seemed to be doing quite well, thank ya vurrrry mutch).

“When the family collapses”, said the President, “it is the children that are usually damaged ...when it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled”. Brave and accurate words, candidly and clearly spoken. (And you can perform the mind-exercise of imagining how this assertion of LBJ’s would set with the next decade’s radical-feminist cadres who had already cast the Family as the Nazi death-camp of ‘women’s’ lives; and – eerily – Betty Friedan had already just asserted that Nazi ‘framing’ of the Family even as Moynihan and LBJ were trying to set Civil Rights on a solid and well-grounded course.)

Within a year or two, the government would take an easier low-road: it would not enable the achievement of outcomes, it would impose outcomes and hope that such encouragement would result in some achievement later on down the line.

But immediately upon the leaking of the Moynihan Report, LBJ backed away from Moynihan in the face of a stupendous uproar from the erstwhile ‘good guys’, the black elites who still walked in the aura of Martin Luther King, and who looked a lot more palatable to the Beltway than did the fire-breathing Black Panthers and the obstreperous Black Muslims of the era.

Immediately the Moynihan-Johnson approach was termed “subtle racism”; the framing of choice for the black leadership was that there was no “tangle of pathology” but rather that the problems – and the Watts riots of July, 1965 and other riots – were totally the result of “an outpouring of black despair over white injustice” … and thereby was dissolved instantly the marvelous nationally unifying vision and dynamic of King’s 1955-1965 approach.

Hymowitz notes acutely that while the shock of the Watts riots had perhaps understandably addled the black leadership (King’s influence was now on the decline), yet in subsequent months and years and decades the truly unforgivable choice was “the refusal to grapple seriously … with the basic cultural insight contained in the report: that ghetto families were at risk of raising generations of children unable to seize the opportunity that the civil rights movement had opened up for them”.

And again, I would say that by the early 1970s, and in large part a result of the interplay of black and radical-feminist movement strategies, the solution was to Deconstruct the ‘white’ vision and thus reduce the mainstream ‘white’ society to the level of the pathologies of the ghetto. The rap and hip-hop and other assorted elements of the ghetto (anti-)culture were erected into a ‘richer’, more free and more ‘diverse’ Wigga kultcha (as it came to be called) where the white kids, in embracing the mannerisms of rap/hip-hop, also embraced without thinking the vacuity and profound immaturity at its core. Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!

Worse, and Hymowitz is superb in making the connection, American politics was reduced to an Either-Or level of immature noisemaking that had no need for the competences of careful and accurate analysis and deliberation: you were Either for ‘us’ or Against ‘us’. And if you were born one of ‘us’ but don’t agree with whatever ‘we’ demand, then you are a ‘race traitor’ or a ‘self-hating’ traitor to ‘us’.

Here is the divisive us-vs-them core of Identity Politics as well as the immature thought-processes which are essential to its success. (And in time Bush the Egregious would deploy the same frakkulent strategies when he took the American ‘us’ to preventive war against the terrorist ‘them’, in defiance of international law and the hard-won, vital decencies of the Westphalian tradition.)

William Ryan’s ‘blame the victim’ trope became not a thread in a far more complex and densely woven fabric of assessment, but the simplistic trump trope designed to cut off actual thought and analysis.

It would serve follow-on social movements, such as the Deconstructive radical-feminists, well.

The dynamic set in motion now was not the national responsibility to carefully but seriously analyze and achieve consensus on a serious Plan and Policy, but rather “to soothe injured black self-esteem and to bolster the emerging feminist critique [too nice a word for it, I’d say] of male privilege, bourgeois individualism, and the nuclear family”.

Here Hymowitz acutely captures the connection, the dynamic interplay, between the initial black Civil Rights movement (in its second, post-King Phase anyway) and the then-emerging radical-feminist movement.

Clearly, if Moynihan was right about the role of the ‘family’ and the threat its erosion presented, then any radical-feminist success was going to do nothing but increase that threat and that damage exponentially – while also insisting on such frakkulent developments being ‘framed’ and ‘spun’ as liberation and change and progress.

Oy, oy gevalt, and frak.

(That “bourgeois” reminds Us, as well, of the queasily Marxist element in the primal radical-feminist thought – which is still there, and was a hefty part of the motivating power in the beginning, when many of the ‘feminist law’ successes were achieved.)

Hymowitz notes the efforts of “black-pride scholars” to frame the increasingly queasy results of all this as Good. One of the earliest, in 1968, rejected Moynihan’s thought and instead asserted that the “Negro family” is “an absorbing, adaptive and amazingly resilient mechanism for the socialization of its children and the civilization of its society”. You can assess that assertion from the vantage point of 42 years later and draw your conclusions.

(Which is not to say that this is what lots of good people hoped would be the case; nor is it to ignore the dreams and efforts of many individual black Americans over the years – but it is to say that the ‘tangle of pathologies’ operated as a structuralist element just like ‘white racism’ or ‘capitalism’ did: that ‘tangle’ constituted a powerful subsurface force, woven into the fabric of the world in which black children had to live and grow, but was not only invisible to them but was also ‘framed’ as a Good Thing. And of course you can see how all this played out in the 1970s and beyond as the radical-feminist movement gained its traction.)

Eerily, the “black, female-headed family” became an early example of the radical-feminist ‘vision’. One writer of the day cast a black inner-city neighborhood she knew as “a vibrant and cooperative urban village, where mutual aid – including from sons, brothers, and uncles, who provided financial support and strong role-models for children – created a ‘tenacious, active, lifelong network’”.

You can judge for yourself whether – as an accurate picture of overall black inner-city life – this description has proven itself accurate.

You can also see where the radical-feminist efforts to replace the Family and even Marriage itself with assorted ‘chosen’ and temporary attachments of various composition got a big boost (although as I have said, the Family and Marriage were both in their gun-sights from the get-go in any case).

Another ‘scholar’ proclaimed that “one must question the validity of the white middle-class lifestyle from its very foundation because it has already proven itself decadent and unworthy of emulation”.

Roll that one around in your mind for a bit.

First, this stuff came to be ‘taught’ in universities. Decades ago.

Second, that decadent Goose, especially in its ‘masculinist and macho’ variant, has now been done away with, and – amazingly – so has the economy that it built and supported.

Hymowitz continues to connect the black and radical-feminist dots: “Feminists, similarly fixated on overturning ‘the oppressive ideal of the nuclear family’ also welcomes this dubious scholarship”. And you can consider that dynamic as an epitaph for How We threw it all away in the brief space of 40 years.

But she goes further: “If black pride made it hard to grapple with the increasingly separate and unequal family, feminism made it impossible”. (Hymowitz uses the general term ‘feminism’ where I would use the term ‘radical feminism’.)

“Fretting about single-parent families was now not only racist but sexist.” You have to recall those days – how eerily similar they were to the days of Marxist or Fascist take-over: being a citizen then was not easy – because you never knew from one month to the next what was Correct and would keep your life ‘safe’ and what had suddenly become un-Correct and you might lose everything if you said it. Your best bet was to read Solzhenitsyn and the memoirs of various Soviet citizens as they became available, and in conversation you had to learn how to keep ‘stiob’ – the straight face, betraying no expression of approval or disapproval and, indeed, giving others the impression that you hadn’t heard anything at all.

But now there is another strand, another Correctness (Hymowitz writes this in 2005). The new party-line is exemplified in one mid-00s book: “The depth and influence of radicalism of the late 1960s and early 1970s are often exaggerated”. Hymowitz characterizes such stuff as “pure revisionism” that has been concocted “with the benefit of embarrassed hindsight, [as] academics today try to wave away these notions as the justifiably angry but ultimately harmless speculations of political and academic activists”.

I agree with Hymowitz: the radicalism of the 60s and 70s was profound, and can hardly be exaggerated; they were not ‘harmless speculations’ because they wound up being the motivating elements behind the core of ‘feminist law’ that among other things has been seeking to abolish the Modern objective and fact-based evidentiary procedures of post—Medieval Western legal development and regress it back to pre-Modern reliance on emotions and intuitions and spectral evidence; and no matter how ‘concerned’ or ‘angry’ you are as a scholar, if you allow your emotions or even your good intentions to override your search for truth, then you have committed a trahison des clercs and should be defrocked (or whatever the academy’s equivalent is).

Ditto the attempts to blame the failures that cannot be hidden on “lack of government support for single women and the failure of business to pay women their due”.

But how can this be?

Single women with kids are to be supported by the government? THAT is not the recipe for a free and self-sustaining society; it wasn’t when there was a lot of money (or the appearance of same) and it sure as hell isn’t going to work now (when the entire Masculine, Industrial economy has been Deconstructed and outsourced, with radical-feminist blessings). The entire arrangement of civilization had been that mothers would raise the kids (Evolution set it up for the female to be particularly gifted in that department) while males would bond to them and provide the support (Evolution ditto). You can see clearly that the entire radical-feminist vision depends on government replacing the male in the scheme, providing cash and – through regulatory and criminal law – discipline.

And if women are – hardly surprisingly, given Evolution’s arrangements – drawn to have kids even when they have jobs, then how is a business going to function productively and competitively? (The only solution to that might be using the force and authority of the U.S. government to spread this frakkulent Scheme all over the world and so weaken the potential competitive ability of more ‘traditional’ societies … but then this is an ideological (and ‘liberal, progressive’) recipe for the U.S. destabilizing the rest of the world’s societies as it has destabilized its own … and is THAT a good idea? (Good thing We have lots of female troops now – they’ll make it easier, no doubt.)

Justice Brennan, Hymowitz notes, went so far as to bleat this dreck in his 1977 Concurrence in Moore: he took it upon himself not only to opine on the issue at bar, but then tossed in his gooey approval of the idea that “the extended family has many strengths not shared by the nuclear family”. Yah. An ‘extended’ family is the family of relationships beyond the already-existing nuclear family; but what Brennan is slyly supporting is the non-nuclear family, which is not a family at all but rather an ad-lib omnium-gatherum of individuals who have sorta set up shop for as long as it feels right and maybe they’ll stay together and if not, not. And the kids will, ‘activist scholars’ assure them, do just fine no matter what happens. Oy and frak.

Carter tried in 1976 to set up a Conference on the Family – because even by then he saw happening to all American families what in 1965 Moynihan had seen happening to black families. But Carter ran into such opposition from the radical-feminist ‘base’ of the Democratic Party that it was only in 1980 that he could put together a White House Conference on “Families” – the sop to his ‘base’ that didn’t limit the subject to the nuclear family but included the now-‘normal’ hook-up hodge-podge.

But again the black and feminist ‘liberals’ found ways to spin things to keep themselves as far away as they could from the intensifying consequences of their treacherous dampdreams.

Marian Wright Edelman – as early as 1973 – had hit upon the tactic of referring to the plight of “children” without discussing the families that were producing (and failing) them. As Hymowitz nicely puts it, the trick was “to talk about children not as the offspring of individual mothers and fathers responsible for rearing them, but as an oppressed class living in generic, nebulous, and never-to-be analyzed ‘families’. [italics mine] In this way you could demand more services for the kids without having to raise the ideologically un-Correct (and explosive) matter of “either a stable domestic life or, for that matter, fathers”. [Ditto]

In regard to the plight of children “advocates like Edelman treated it as a kind of natural event, like drought, beyond human control and judgment”. [Ditto]

Neat. This is the type of ‘progress’ We have become far far far too used-to.

And it would surely be attractive to Beltway pols now eager to somehow escape responsibility for having, for reasons of political gain, thrown the full weight of the government into pandering to the dampdreams of the radical-feminists and to the threatened ‘outrage’ of the black elites who had appointed themselves the spokespersons and keepers of their race. (I can’t help but think of the postwar excuses of certain highly-placed German officers: Eye vass a zimple Field Marschal – vhaaaat kood eye doooooo?)

Prestigious ‘liberal’ foundations agreed with Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund tactics and put a gag-rule on any discussion of fatherhood.

And the silence fell.

The second gambit, Hymowitz notes, was to transpose the discussion to the matter of “teen pregnancy” rather than the kids being raised into Shaplelessness in fathlerless and Shapeless ‘families’. But she notes that there really wasn’t a crisis of rampant teen-pregnancy: there was a crisis of out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy: too many kids were growing up “used to seeing children growing up without fathers, and they felt no shame about arriving at the maternity ward with no rings on their fingers, even at 15”.

And, of course, the whole concept of “growing up” had by that time become merely a matter of chronological passage and the accumulation of some appearances of adulthood: clothes, attitudes, gadgets – oh, and the Beltway’s assurance that you were indeed a ‘totally autonomous’ being because human beings were that as a matter of course. History is going to laugh at Us, long and hard.

Worse, Hymowitz continues, was the actual racial or class disparity that actually HAD developed: “underclass girls often wanted to have their babies; they didn’t see it as a problem that they were young and unmarried … they did not follow the middle-class life script … they did not share the belief that children needed mature, educated mothers who would make their youngsters’ development the center of their lives”.

Which ideas, of course, they would have gotten from the chai-and-chardonnay-swilling radical-feminists who had established so cozy (and remunerative) a relationship among the elites of the Beltway and the media. The Correct response to the problem – perfect for a faxed Press Release – was that ‘men’ weren’t doing the job of raising kids that they could do as easily as women if they just wanted to (Evolution was ‘essentialism’ and the Correct radical-feminist must avoid it as surely as the most outré Fundamentalist).

Hymowitz concludes that “failing to define the problem accurately, advocates were in no position to find the solution”. This is the ancient Chinese wisdom of Rectification of Names: you can’t deal with an entity that you have improperly ‘Named’ (defined, described). And this error, by the workings of Beltway conceptual migration, moved over to the Pentagon as well as the White House (perhaps in the baggage and files of newly created lesbian generals and admirals), leading to a most unhappy outcome in later military misadventures about which We all now know.

Funny how the night moves.

Hymowitz notes that both the feministical organization NOW and the National Association of Social Workers “continue to see marriage as a potential source of female oppression”. That doesn’t surprise in the case of NOW – what else could you expect?

BUT the NASW is a different question: most folks expect social workers (a largely female profession at this point) to be helpers, seeking to help individuals to constructively change and shape or re-shape their lives without the top-heavy complications and constraints attendant upon formal Psychiatry and Psychology. But if the NASW membership has been ideologically overtaken, then folks who go to those practitioners are at no small risk of being urged to pursue a life-course that will turn out to be as ruinously unhelpful as Custer’s choice to go into the Valley of the Little Big Horn.

If there is any good news in all of this, according to Hymowitz (writing in 2005), it is that “the bad news was so unrelentingly bad that the usual bromides and evasions could no longer hold”.

Assorted thinkers (she mentions three in particular) worked to “change the conversation”, noting specifically “the wreckage of the inner city”, the victim-blaming of Ryan back in 1971, the welfare policies of the 1960s rather than racism or a lack of jobs or the legacy of slavery, and they asserted unflinchingly that “the poor would have to change their behavior instead of waiting for Washington to end poverty”.

Two things: first, if it seems harsh or ‘hateful’ to read that last clause in the above paragraph then you can get an idea of just how far the American ability to accurately assess vital national problems has been degraded.

Second, it’s 2010 now and the Bubble-economy has collapsed, revealing the fatal fatuity of the Beltway in thinking that as long as there was enough money to keep everybody from whining or complaining too loudly, then everything would work out no matter what whackulous ideologies were held forth as ‘justifications’ and no matter what whackulous dampdreams were held forth as the Vision and the Dream. (Teddy Kennedy’s entire gameplan, come to think of it.)

There is now very little actual national wealth and if the Dollar is dethroned by the rest of the world’s nations as the planet’s reserve-currency, then simply printing Dollars at the mint won’t work. Which means a crisis of potentially fatal proportions not only for the Advocacies and the Identities but for everybody in the country (although since this gambit has resulted in a majority of the country being officially eligible as a minority – then dependence on government is now widespread as well as deep). And perhaps when that realization dawns, and if that dethronement comes to pass, there will be a political crisis of legitimacy as well. Nothing, as the Beltway players – male and female – like to say, is off the table.

Worse, to maturely meet such stunning challenges fraught with such awful consequences, generations of Americans are now woefully unprepared and indeed have been anti-prepared by Correct ideology over the course of decades (not excluding the Boomers themselves as well as the follow-on generations).

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I’ve had an odd run of coming across old movies that suggested things to me – and why not share that?

A late-night stumble across 1964’s “Bikini Beach” (Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello) took me back.

The first thing – as so often with American International Pictures productions, shot around the LA County coastline from up near Kern County line down though Santa Monica and beyond in order to save money – was the sight of the Pacific Coast Highway back in those less-built-up times (you may recall that 1963’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” offered the same sort of views in the taxi chase).

But the plot is the interesting thing for Us nowadays: a bunch of ‘teens’ are looking to simply do the beach and surf thing (dope hadn’t come in yet and booze – though lingering in the background was never ‘foregrounded’) and chasing each other (boys girls and girls boys).

Keenan Wynne’s wealthy character – an ‘old’ guy in his late 40s or 50s – drives up, dressed up in expensive suitcoat and tie, and hat (JFK had already gone hatless at the Inauguration a couple-three years before). He’s stuffed into an early 1930s formal town car – the type where the chauffeur sat exposed to the elements up front and the luxurious closed-box behind him held the wealthy patron; it was a 30-year old car in ’64 but every kid would recognize it from the movies (often shown on TV) from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

As this type of film goes, he is doubly unlikable: he is rich (not yet a really palpable life-goal for middle-class kids) and he is ‘old’: which is to say that he thinks the kids should be doing something constructive with their time, instead of running around the beach looking for fun, surf, and ‘girls’ (a nice way of saying … all THAT stuff). The kids (actually actors well into their 20s and beyond) aren’t fazed by his lectures and enjoy the pratfalls to which the script – in the spirit of the times – subjects him.

In one scene he is confronted in his office by a ‘teacher’ – a late 30s or early 40-ish female – who chides him: he is being too hard on the kids, they should have a little fun, he is against everything ‘new’, and these are the kids “who will put a man on the moon” (the moon landing would take place in July, 1969, but JFK had already announced the goal back in 1961).

THERE, I think, is the nub of the thing. Wynne’s character was speaking for a certain maturity and settling into the hard project of adulthood; the kids (and the teacher character) saw that as being a) ‘old’, b) being conformist, and c) being ‘against what is ‘new’ just because it is ‘new’.
Wynne’s character was therefore not ‘with it’.

Oh, and that you can simultaneously prepare yourself for a life of rocket-science while spending your available time on the beach surfing, playing sex-games, and being 'with-it' and 'cool'. You can see here not a generation that would master rocket-science (see below) but that would consider it quite possible to kill the Goose while still harvesting a steady supply of Golden Eggs, invade foreign countries and still be greeted as liberators, and quickly and without ill consequence overturn the entire civilizational wisdom of the human species on the basis of a scientific Hypothesis that its revolutionary supporters did not really want to debate scientifically.
As it turned out, it was not the Boomers who would put a man on the moon, but rather the adult generation whose own childhood was spent in the Depression and World War 2. The Boomers would go on to the Summer of Love or assorted excitements along the lines of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. They opposed the Vietnam War, but then developed their own type of ‘whiz kid’ elites who embarked the country on even more lethally frakkulent misadventures, domestically (until Boomer Bush the Egregious and Cheney – Mr. I-had-other-agendas-during-Vietnam – took the show international bigtime in Iraq).

‘New’ was good just because it was ‘different’ and a ‘change’ – which HAD to be good because … it was fun for the Boomers in their bloom of youth. ‘Old’ was baaad because it wasn’t fun – and there would always be time for ‘growing up’ – as if genuine maturity just came along with the first gray hairs and the inevitable thickening around the middle.

The ‘teacher’ was ‘good’ because she was willing to postpone being ‘judgmental’ and let the ‘kids’ reveal their ‘wisdom’. Which, as aforenoted, had mostly to do with surf, sun, booze, and ‘girls’ (so quaint, no?).

Oh, and the gas for their old jalopy bus was somewhere around 25 cents a gallon (for high-test).

The kids would ‘put a man on the moon’ because they were Americans and that’s – well, that’s just what Americans do when they get around to it: they make the world better and they don’t even have to work at it … it just sorta comes.

In a recent ‘Nation’ article Robert Reich calls the postwar period (up to 1970 or so) “the Great Prosperity” – it’s funny to see a name put on it: an Era that is not only gone now but that had been (youthfully) mistaken as a Permanent Way Things Are. Those were the days, my friend.

But unlike ‘the Great Depression’ or ‘the Greatest War’ (World War 2, if you prefer), ‘the Great Prosperity’ can’t be hazed over in nostalgia because it’s safely out of the way. It’s gone, but its passing (its Deconstruction, really) has left a yawning abyss over which the good ship USA is now trapped, like some fishing boat in the Bermuda Triangle. Those things never end well.

So Keenan Wynne – fuddy-duddy, a little fussy, but an adult with some Shape and Order to his life and his world – turned out to be right after all. And his car is now a collector’s item worth a small fortune (as dollars go these days).

I also came across ‘The Wind and the Lion’ from 1975. A tongue-in-cheek little romp where Sean Connery’s Berber tribal-chieftain, noble in his setting, kidnaps an American wife and her kids just to make a point (he and she develop a romantic relationship and a meeting of mind and heart); which gets Brian Keith’s Teddy Roosevelt all worked up (he has an election campaign in process) and the Marines are going to land from their steam-and-steel battleships, execute a set-piece storming of the castle, and solve problems with flags and a band and fixed-bayonets and a couple-three gunshots.

It came out just as Vietnam was finishing (such as it did) and against that national reality could be seen as a tongue-in-cheek and sorta winsome indictment of the whole early 1900s American easy-ebullience that had come a cropper there in the paddies of Southeast Asia. It was in the time of its release a sort of farewell to all that.

And expensively shot on high-quality, almost gauzy and shiny, film. A glossy little bit, but not fluff.

Alas, along comes the Reagan era and by 1985 the film was being viewed gleefully – especially in military circles – as a brassy, gleaming high-spirited how-to about where and how America was going to go now that (in 1985 or thereabouts) Gorby was in and the USSR – the last Great Enemy – was melting like the Wicked Witch before Our eyes, and the Witch shaking-hands with a beaming Reagan even as the melt speeded up.

And to watch it now, in 2010 – well, that prompts a whole bunch of different thoughts altogether, as the poppy fields of Southwest Asia swallow up toil, treasure, blood, sweat, and tears … and Time.

And ‘Ben Hur’, that 1959 extravaganza – running to around 3 hours – that is a sort of Jewish studio’s stern gift to an America that in 1959 was gleaming and glossy and on top of the world.
The Romans – impressive in their self-assured world-mastery – yet retain a certain philosophical detachment that once defined a certain Hebrew wisdom: Pontius Pilate (before that bad-hair Friday of a Passover in Jerusalem) advises young Ben Hur to go along with the game of power: “ … and for the moment that power is Rome”.

“For the moment” – We can listen to that little phrase from the standpoint of 2010 and realize how much wisdom was crammed into it. And a stern and monitory wisdom it was, and delivered in that spirit.

Nor in this bereft era when 40 frakkulous years of ‘liberal’ (or ‘progressive’) Deconstruction has Flattened Our personal and communal sense of Life and World and Self, can We view merely as entertainment Ben Hur’s verbal sparring with Quintus Arrius (a fine Jack Hawkins), the Consul commanding the fleet of Imperial galleys in which Hur has been sentenced as a chained-rower: “I still believe in my God – what drove you away from yours?” (I’m working from memory here).

You could do worse than take a good stiff drink down to the beach-chair and ask yourself how We have wound up where We are, a quick but frak-stuffed half-century later, with a Beltway that would like very much if We could all just keep rowing and not make so much noise.

And lastly, the first two of the ‘Godfather’ movies. Brando’s marvelous portrayal of the aged but robust Don Vito Corleone, noble and self-possessed, seemed to tell Us in 1972 that you could run an ongoing criminal enterprise and still be more noble than the politicians and top-cops you bribe, and could enlist fruitfully the services of bright young attorneys like Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen and even excite his professional and personal devotion. Real mobsters – whether in crime or in politics (the rise of Hitler’s Nazis after January 1933 prompted the candid observation that in Germany “the gutter has triumphed”) – are flat, thin, wraith-like wanna-be humans, and even if they wanted to, could not escape their existential prison. “THIS”, says Lee Strasberg’s Hyman Roth (in the second film) “is the business we have chosen”. And Life and Self will follow that choice, wherever it goes.

The “business” you choose will do for you, if you don’t choose well. Profit and wealth and power tend to exert monstrous deformative forces, and no human soul can easily withstand them.

Nor is it much of a mature intellectual enterprise to run courses soberly glorifying them: remember the professor in 1990’s “The Freshman” where young Matthew Broderick meets Brando’s aged reprise, Jimmy the Toucan? Although in America of that era – a queasy, glitzy 20 years ago – you could still figure to get the ‘bacce di tutti bacci’ – the kiss of all kisses – from Power and still come out with the girl, the gold-watch, the Mercedes, and everything. Wheeeee!

And then there’s that scene towards the end of the second ‘Godfather’ where Don Michael trudges through the winter snow – in his 3-piece dark suit and expensive shoes – to his mother’s home in the family compound, to ask her what ‘dad’ thought when he was alive. “But you can never lose your family” the aged but willfully uninformed matriarch expostulates – as if her kid had asked her how to breathe without air. “Times are changing, Ma” he responds gently but flatly.

You can take the Family to some bad places, if you choose. But you can’t ever escape it; humans, in their loooooong immaturity imposed by the scope of their brain’s possibilities, need Ma and Pa to provide the launching-gantry, the dry-dock, that will help them Shape themselves, until they’re ready to launch.

The radical-feminists didn’t need to hear the lunatic French ‘philosopher’, Louis Althusser, opine that the Family was one of the most sinister and lethal examples of an “Ideological State Apparatus”, designed only for the purpose of beating ‘the kids’ down into conformity and State-approved Correctness.*

They had already made up their minds that ‘women’ were to Family as slaves were to plantations, as Jewish camp-prisoners were to “Dachau” (Betty Friedan) or “Auschwitz” (Alice Miller). And that, as Voltaire said of the Church, the infamous thing had to be obliterated (Ecrasez l’infame!). And the vanguard elites of the radical-feminist cadres would be just the folks to try it.

Five years ago, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s study of the Black Family and the forces profoundly threatening it, Kay Hymowitz acutely and candidly traced how the ‘elites’ of both the Black and radical-feminist Advocacies managed not only to ignore but to denigrate Moynihan’s insight – which then turned out to be pretty much accurate, which lead to those same ‘elites’ now not wanting to talk about it. But the damage is done, and it won’t be going away.**

Well, a few books and a few fliks recommended for summer at the beach – or wherever your travails happen to take you in this brave new Era.


*Tony Judt does a sharp but nicely readable job examining Althusser in his 2008 book of reflections “Reappraisals”, in the Chapter entitled “Elucubrations: The ‘Marxism’ of Louis Althusser”.

**You can read a more recent indictment by Glenn C. Loury, reviewing James J. Patterson’s new book “Freedom Is Not Enough”, in the August-September 2010 issue of the magazine “First Things”, on pages 57-60. (Subscription or purchase required for online access.)

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Monday, July 19, 2010


Frank Rich wrote an Op-Ed in ‘The New York Times’ on for the 4th of July.

What caught my eye was the last paragraph: he quotes (as “smug”) Chief Justice Roberts’s recent comment that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race”.

Rich and Roberts are both wrassling with a truly difficult – frakkulously difficult – problem; one that has bethumped Us as society and polity since the inception of (what I would call) the Second Phase of the Civil Rights Era that began in about 1966.

The First Era you will recall as the one dominated by Martin Luther King and his vision of simultaneously conducting (and instigating, to some extent) “direct non-violent action” while also casting the entire movement as a Call to all Americans to achieve a new level of genuine national fulfillment, united around this project of eradicating racial-injustice; it was specifically focused on the Jim Crow South and it pretty much required the Federal government to exercise a level of intervention that it had only previously exercised on the basis of its war-and-civil-insurrection powers in the years of the Civil War and the decade immediately thereafter, when Federal troops occupied the South during the Reconstruction Era (ended in 1876 when national party political strategy required the mollifying of Southern voters).

The First Era, in a sense, sought a continuation of that hugely unfinished Federal project, abandoned far too soon; and after watching Southern police and pols trying violently to defend Jim Crow by beating up black demonstrators (and white Freedom Riders), a national consensus pretty much existed that the Feds had to go back down there and finish the job … it was sort of an Open File left from the Civil War, although the File was a century old by the early 1960s.

But once the procedural corrections were made that cleared away the operational political blocks that Jim Crow had erected to continue the repression of Southern blacks – and this was accomplished in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively – the country came to a huge crossroads.

In the intervening century – especially in the period from the 1890s to the 1950s – large theories and experiences had come into existence:

First, sociologists and political scientists, in conjunction with the large-visioned psychology of groups and societies – had developed much more subtle theories as to how ‘reality’ was ‘constructed’ in self-fulfilling (and often self-serving) ways by ‘majority views’.

Second, the emotional malleability of ‘crowds’ and the manipulation of public opinion had developed from the more or less neutral observations of Gustav LeBon in the mid-1890s, through the consumerist advertising theories of Edward Bernays, and the truly vast (and monstrous) government-controlled manipulations of public discourse and opinion effected by the Leninist-Stalinist and Maoist versions of Communism and the diabolically clever government machinations of Hitler and Goebbels.

And third, in the US certain academics were becoming infatuated with a newly imported French Literary Theory that considered the reader, and not the writer, as the arbiter of the meaning of any ‘text’ (over here, the great gambit involved envisioning that all of reality – and especially public reality – was nothing but a ‘text’ and it was up to the current ‘readers’ (especially those vanguard elites who knew how to ‘read the text’ because they ‘got it’) to interpret the text and then get the government to impose their views on the population, who had suddenly been demoted from being The People to being the ‘benighted masses’ who just didn’t get it and who needed those who did get it to make them – like confused cattle – take the Correct path).

All of this was in the dense and agitated – and legitimately excited – air of the mid-1960s.
Along with the myrmidons of the Boomer in their gushy Youth, either happily basking in an eternal Summer of Love, unbothered by sobriety, maturity, or the need to make a living or provide for posterity and families or else eagerly seeking to apply the wisdom of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution to the doddering, fuddy-duddy United States and its boring democratic ethos where nothing truly exciting or interesting ever seemed to happen and everything took too much time.

Yes, Brown v. Board of Education – the landmark Supreme Court Opinion of the mid-1950s – had urged ‘all deliberate speed’ in desegregating schools, but the Jim Crow folks simply used ‘deliberate’ as an excuse for not-desegregating at all. So clearly then ‘deliberate’ was a baaaad thing since baaaad people could use it to keep things from ‘changing’, and ‘change’ was the Great and Good Thing.

Trust the Boomers to draw the wrong lessons – but booze-and-drug fueled midnight bull sessions don’t require logic or prudence; you want to go for what ‘your gut’ tells you (your brain being kind of in neutral due to the drugs or drinks). Worrying about ‘consequences’ is just a form of ducking the ‘change’. Ah, those were the days!

So, getting back toward Rich and Roberts, the Feds faced a massive problem after July, 1965. The ‘experts’ were telling them that there were a whole lotta ways to Deconstruct Jim Crow and Reconstruct Southern society: the government would have to ‘go deep’ as it were and start aggressively and vigorously changing the entire complex matrix of Jim Crow laws – even on the local level – and THEN get into changing the habits of thinking and feeling, of mind and heart, of the Southerners themselves.

It’s sort of like a modern van Helsing ticking off ALL of the possible ploys that a trapped vampire might use and ALL the places that a vampire might hide in: not enough to plan on a tough hour or two with a stake and some garlic and holy water. No, to clean out all of Transylvania, you were going to need government-level fearless vampire-killing. (Alas, this whole approach, in the foreign adventures field, was coming a cropper in Vietnam but to notice that would have been ‘insensitive’ and – as always in the matter of Boomer practice – thinking too much.)

But the Second Phase, after 1965, now hyper-agitated by the view that the entire country (and populace) was ‘racist’ and had to be Deconstructed (the French Theory term) and Reconstructed (the Civil War era term) – and on just the same level of intrusive intensity as the Jim Crow South.

In addition to questions of ‘prudence’ and ‘workability’ there was the question as to just how much of an Operation like this could be mounted by the Federal Government that was specifically ‘limited’. Surely, a government Operation like this was going to require a government hell-and-gone from the one envisioned in 1787. And not just in terms of size and complexity, but in terms of the very scope and nature of its authority, power, and role within the overall American ‘thing’.

King himself, in his ‘Letter from the Birmingham Jail’ in 1963 had confessed his frustration with ‘liberals’ who were more concerned for ‘order’ than for ‘justice’ and were urging him to tone-down his demonstrations and ‘be patient’. No, said King, ‘justice’ has to take precedence over ‘order’ – especially when that ‘order’ is unjust.

It would be hard to disagree with him.

But he was writing for a pre-Boomer, American adult audience, and he was trying to get established precisely the objectives enshrined in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts that would soon be passed into law.

The post-1965 situation was much different: ‘adults’ had kinda disappeared, unless they were – in a queasy similarity to Chinese Party officials – marching in support of the Young (whom Mao had declared to have the real spirit of the Revolution). The Youth had gotten it into their heads that the world was more fluid than solid, that anybody who couldn’t embrace ‘change’ like a 19-year-old could was just ‘old’ and ‘lazy’, and that ‘consequences’ were just another way of saying No to the foaming torrent of creative freshness that would lead to Summertime for Everybody (they were generous, in their Youth – the Boomers were).

King himself had started to develop into even wider areas of concern: that Vietnam was an unjust war and that it would certainly sap national energies much needed to effect genuine justice domestically; that the ‘violence’ and the impatience of the young Black Panthers and the separatism of the Black Muslims of the era were going to fracture, rather than unite, Americans; and while he didn’t come out (as best I know) and say that ‘order’ was also vitally important and necessary in a nation and in a civilization, he was concerned that things were spinning out of control (including the control of the Young, who didn’t see ‘controlling events’ as a worthwhile use of their time and energies in the first place).

Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom! – as Mao had said – and the Garden would shape itself. Having not paid enough attention in high school (so much other interesting stuff to do, maybe down at Bikini Beach!) the Boomers hadn’t realized that vegetation, left to itself without trellis or tillage and given adequate light and water, tends to the Jungle more than the Garden (which requires sustained and careful and patient and prudent and knowledgeable adult skill if it is to flourish).

And King was pushed aside – both by LBJ (who was looking for a little payback of his favors in the form of King supporting LBJ’s war as LBJ had supported King’s civil-right campaign) and by younger and more impatient blacks.

So what began to develop – initially under the moniker of ‘affirmative racism’ until the government PR flaks realized that the phrase was toooooo truthful – was a comprehensive Federal campaign to use regulatory and civil and criminal law to Deconstruct and then Reconstruct the entire country, which was now considered as racist as the Jim Crow South.

(And you can imagine what happened in the very early 1970s when the far-more organized radical-feminists came along to run the same game plan although for their own purposes: that the entire country was ‘sexist’ which was even worse than ‘racist’ and involved now not the entire white population but the entire male population and required even more aggressive and invasive government action to Deconstruct and Reconstruct Everything Tainted With Patriarchy – which they also imagined included, not to put too fine a point on it, Everything.

And not just Everything American: race slavery was a particularly vicious North American affair, developed in the earliest days of European arrival in the New World – but Family and dual-gender parental dyads splitting up the chores according to each gender’s gifts and predispositions was pretty much the way the entire human species had arranged itself since the beginning of humanity’s history … so the Feds were being seduced (perhaps like Custer, or Napoleon on his march into Russia) into a much more profoundly complex and much more hugely questionable Deconstruction/Reconstruction project.)

The concept of affirmative action - which nobody can really deny is a discrimination based on race – made its quiet appearance in the mid-1960s, with all its attendant profound difficulties (Should the government discriminate at all on the basis of race? If you focus on ‘outcomes’ won’t you wind up undermining objective assessments of individuals? If you do that, won’t you actually be undermining the very individuals you are trying to help? What will happen to the perception that the government is legitimate because it is fair? How will everybody else in the country react to this favoritism?)

In regard to that last question, I note here that the Beltway’s solution was to include most of the country, by the late 1970s, as beneficiaries – for one or another reason – of such ‘preferential discrimination’: the various Identities that blossomed like Mao’s Hundred Flowers now constitute between 2/3s and 3/4s of the population – just about everybody except those White, Working-Class Males who ran the patriarchal and oppressive Industrial Culture … the Culture is gone now. Along with – who knew? – the genuine national wealth.

So Roberts has a point: logically speaking, the best way to stop X is to stop doing X. And he needn’t be (I don’t know enough about him to know for sure) a mere shill for wealth and corporate (and white and male) power to make this assertion. The preferential-discrimination theory has more than enough deeply troubling questions and truly alarming potential consequences built into it.

And at this point the Feds have hooked sooooo many folks on this thing …

Although the Feds have also lost all the Wealth that was necessary to fund it (you could take all of Bill Gates’s fortune tomorrow, and it will disappear into the low-reservoir of entitlement monies with hardly a bubble – and tomorrow you’d have to find another Gates, and the day after, and the day after …).

Rich avoids taking his chosen path all the way to the precipice, which – conceptually and historically – is just a sentence or two up ahead.

Instead he takes a final trumping bipartisan swipe at the “delusional” nature of both Roberts and LBJ.

And thus can wrap up with a Big Finish: “America is still very much a work in progress”.

Ach ja! The brave words of the 1960s, though they were ringing with queasy hollowness in the 1970s, and then with brassy sheen in the 1980s, and then with smugly arrogant assurance in the 1990s, and then in quicker succession with violent and self-justifying arrogance in the early 00s, and then with a pathetic nostalgic sentimentality as the last of the herd of the Bubbles collapsed.

The buffalo are gone, the bubbles are gone.

This generation has a rendezvous with Destiny – and it has nobody to blame but … (fill in the blank).

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