Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Back in November of 2006 I wrote a Post on this site entitled “Homeless Partisans”.  Given developments over the past half-decade I am including sizable chunks of that Post with thoughts about Our present situation and its possibilities.

Up in Boston there is a statue. (See here for views of it). Actually it’s a collection of figures, just slightly larger than life-size: five mounted horsemen, armed with swords slung on their hips and each with a lance that rises up behind him. They are riding in a loose double file, the horses at a walk. It is one of the most remarkable sculptures I have ever seen, and speaks deeply to me. And I think it is a quick diagnostic for any of us, how we react to it.

The riders themselves are thick-booted, but without helmet or headgear – the lack of the helmets suggesting that they are not ‘troops’ and yet the boots are military type, reminding us that at times they must laboriously travel the earth on missions.

The swords, thick and heavy, hang down although not on a pure vertical plumb, joining the boots in their message that the matters of this earth are thick and dense, not always on-plumb and heavy to engage. Yet the lances are perfect thin spires that rise up above them, reaching with sharp lightness for the sky, a natural medieval city of spires, an echo of the forests that gave them shelter.

The riders are recognizably human males but without individually distinctive facial features. But – no surprise for the deeply Catholic Polish tradition – each rider’s face has a beard, and of the cropped type often seen in paintings of the Crucifixion; the effect is heightened by each rider’s head bending slightly forward, with the upright ‘tree’ of his lance directly behind.

The physical contours of their upper bodies are clear, as if they had no shirts (against the cold night) or very threadbare shirts; the lead rider seems to have old medals pinned to whatever shred covers his chest; the effect is of an undemonstrative vulnerability, freely accepted and robustly, austerely borne.

They sit their mounts square and straight, but with their shoulders hunched, as if pressing forward against some strong countering force. Counter-intuitively, this imparts strength to them, as if in gathering his arms in toward his torso, each was marshalling his resolve, and the tensile seriousness of the group itself is thus multiplied.

But while the heavily-booted legs bond with the torsos of the horses, each individual’s upper trunk rises free of the close-grouped mass, each lance then further elongating its owner, extending him almost as an El Greco saint, straining upwards under the tension of his spiritual dynamism and yearning.

The horses are equally marvelous. Thin-bulked, they give the impression of not having eaten a great deal recently. Their legs are long, which serves to further extend the group on the vertical plane, downwards as if to balance or complement the lances’ reaching into the heavens. I think of a racing yacht: mast reaching high so that the sails can catch every bit of wind, yet the keel reaching deep to balance the vessel as she responds to the wind.

But the legs are not bent as if the animals were weak; rather, the legs are flexed, tensively and dynamically; they are in the very act of moving at a walk. The necks, however, especially of the lead animal, are stretched out, extending the group on the horizontal plane, pulling it forward into the uncertain future; while the tails stream out behind, wispily evoking a past that has been left behind and perhaps is no more.

One of the following animals – bringing up the left rear of the group – is caught perfectly in the midst of one of those inimitably equine gestures: the simultaneous extending of the neck to the left and shaking of the head from side to side, almost audibly accompanied here by a whinny. And its neck, extending obliquely outward further to the left, breaks that plane of the presentation, as if reaching out to the viewer.

Yet too, the animals’ legs are not only thin, but also enlongated; as if the necessarily thick burden of the men and their mission is raised up on thin, if determined legs. It speaks of the fragility of all human undertakings, and of how determination must often compensate for a lack of more abundant resources.

And further, as if those who pursue strenuous, lonely but honorable paths, even though burdened, pursue their duty on a plane above the plain dimension of quotidian earth, of daily life. As if, even while passing through the common dimension, their strenuous errand actually lifts them into a dimension above the common appearances – perhaps Above them.

The whole group arises from a single base. It is executed completely in a very darkish, pitted and pocked bronze-like metal. No child-smooth, brightly polished, proudly mawkish encomium here. Rather, the metal’s darkness and texture grittily respects the tremendous and lonely exertions of the committed adult, so often carried out in physical hardship and the darkness of uncertainty, unlit and unsmoothed by any clear promise of success or aid.

Or of support. For these men, in this group, are alone. Darkness dwells with them, even in the daylight. They are hunted as well as hunters, and cut off even from their own countrymen, who cannot or will not join them in their hazardous duty, who may well not acknowledge their exertions to be any sort of duty at all, but rather a madness that is also a crime, endangering everyone. And thus burthened they press onward with a quiet will.

But then again, who knows what energies those long-extended lances attract as they reach into the sky?

They are partisans, modeled by the sculptor Andrezj Pitynski in 1979, on those Polish fighters who fought the Nazis and then the Soviet Communists, in the awful years spanned by Hitler’s Reich and Stalin’s Iron Curtain.

But of course, they are a tribute to all partisans anywhere, whose complicated passions draw them into the tangle of human darknesses amplified through war and the dark ragings and arrangings of governments, and yet whose un-complex ideals draw them upward above the spume and dust of the human fray, reaching spire-like for a heaven that, if it exists, must out of tactical necessity assume the shape of a spear rather than a fully-formed cross.

They ride together yet each separate, always in semi-darkness, in a hard and pocked world, on a mission that is never completed, un-detained by any welcome, stretched out across more than one dimension, a vortex comprised out of the living fiber, the colliding energies, of the Vertical and the Horizontal, the Past and the Future. And of the Beyond.

And, contemplating the spirey but so thin lances, one cannot help but be reminded of the charge of the young Polish cavalry against the Panzers and the machine guns and the Stukas in that awful September of 1939. Yet the human will to be free – not equally taken up among individuals of our species – proves itself sparked by the divine when it is welcomed into the heart and reaches out to others of similar stature.

For twenty-three years, this group had ridden its Long Mission on the lawn at the western edge of the venerable Boston Common; hardly an inappropriate spot. Here stern Puritans gathered to drill for their errand into the wilderness, militia formed to join General Washington in Cambridge or man the fortifications on Dorchester Heights, and Union troops paraded en route to the colossal struggles far to the South. Only yards from their site, the new Polish Pope had said Mass in October of 1979. If this group is out of place, it is only because of their stern message. And maybe because they’re Polish.

The group was removed early in 2006. The heirs – by Deed and mortgage if not by blood or spirit – of those grittier earlier generations, the current ruling residents of Beacon Hill, to whom the City has granted the trump-right of outrage and preference, finally took an unofficial vote and decided that the piece did not fit in with the “spirit” of the Common. The sculpture was “depressing”. And perhaps a 'downer, dude'. And no doubt scared the children – or ‘the help’.

Apparently the nearby Civil War monument, several stories tall, does not depress them. Perhaps because they can’t quite place it, that particular war. Or perhaps because they can only recall that General Sherman had had tea at great-great-grand-mama’s when he attended the unveiling. Or was it General Washington?

That their defecating Lhasa Apsos and cavorting poodles do very much fit in on the Common was taken as a given; ditto their white-tent receptions and twittering parties, held on that hallowed ground by City permits vouchsafed only to the utterly proper, the impeccably appropriate, and the irresistibly-connected.

It’s “depressing”, they say. The horror! Well, anything more expensive than cheap grace always is, to a certain type. It’s a type that is not in short supply among us today, arguably it’s even in the majority. If there is a ‘grace’ to Citizenship, a genius, a set of skills (or are they gifts?) of mind, heart, and character, then what are the different Citizenship roles played by the ‘cheap grace’ folks and the ‘strenuous grace’ folks?

Is there a tipping point when the inertia or chaos wrought by ‘cheap grace’ finally overwhelms the Republic?

Or is it pretty much expected that the Republic is bound to have more ‘cheap grace’ types – perhaps many many more – than ‘strenuous grace’ types?

The Founders probably had a very specific and narrow range of folks in mind when they declaimed “We, the People”; might it not be crazy to expect that a wider democracy would be able to platform sufficient Peopling skills? Or did they hope and pray mightily that enough folks might competently take up the task of being a Citizen and so sustain the Founders’ great gamble of a Republic?

When Lincoln rhapsodized sparely about “The People”, was he describing what he really believed existed or was he only limning an ideal that he hoped enough folks would adopt as their own? Will we recover enough of the skills, in any case, to be able to People this much-expanded Republic? Or will we simply slide into a paralyzed political senility lubricated by near-hysteric distractibility bordering on dementia?

It was not long after the sculpture was removed up in Boston that Ray McGovern was shushed by a white-tent-full of oh-so-proppah pretend-gentry from the Great State of Jawjah. He is the former CIA intelligence agent spearheading others of his peers in an effort to lay open to the light the treachery and perfidy by which the Bush Administration initiated (and hardly by accident) the stampede that sent the country into Our current debacles on the Eastern Front. 

He had arisen at a Q&A presided over by His Imperial Efficiency, the Rumster, somewhere down there along the line of Sherman’s March, and amidst the bosky tinkling and tittering and self-important twittering, had asked the then-almost-former Secretary of Defense about fudged intelligence. And in so doing thus ruined the rhythm of antiphon-and-response, the tone of democratic rapport established between the good (and gated) burghers and their war-master. The horror!

McGovern’s brazen temerity was considered an egregious breach of form branding him the worst sort of hussy, and the heroic patriots shushed him as if with one common lung in order to defend the graces. They have their priorities. At this rate His Rumship might never feel quite comfortable coming back for a second fawning banquet  – how awful is that?

A pox on the faux-proprieties that dictate polite applause as war-masters bask confidently and the Republic is drawn closer to that tipping-point experienced by Rome herself when, through her people the mistress of her own house, yet she was betrayed by those same people to Caesar.

The propriety and right-thinking that enables these McMansioned gentry to gate their drives and keep the sinecures that pay their mortgages has not served us well. If there is little good done for the Republic by beer-swilling Fox-fed chest-thumpers waving plastic flags, there is equally little good done by wine-swilling fake aristocrats demonstrating their good manners to the whipmasters of war.

As we saw in Germany decades ago, the only difference was whether you wound up in the huge mob, cheering yourself hoarse while sweating profusely, or you got gussied up for the invitation-only post-speech reception, where you could applaud tastefully with your gloved hands and shuffle alertly down the receiving line. Ja, surely there is a great difference between those who cheer deliriously and importunately at the Leader and those who gently gush their names to him with a respectful grace. And to think that your invitation marked you as one who had not only some standing and some cachet but a security-clearance! Very heaven! Ach!

But that is no difference at all, in the Larger Sense of which Lincoln spoke. A soup rabbit is a soup rabbit, whether it is temporarily parked in an iron cage or a velvet one. And if we are to be a People, if we are to be The People, we need very much not to place our trust in the manners, mindsets,  and habits of soup rabbits.

Knowing that in the eidesis of the sculpture they are Polish partisans, we are brought up short by their weapons: horses, swords, and lances against Wehrmacht Blitzkrieg and the Red Army’s T-34. And perhaps, given their beards and profound self-possession, these few are survivors of those doomed cavalry charges, their uniforms now tattered, their no-longer-young but awesomely robust souls bronzed in the crucible of war and lit from deep within by a starkly embraced dedication to ‘strenuous liberty’.

How pathetically quaint. How hopeless. How unshrewd. How useless. What can they be thinking, these partisans?

Is it equally depressing to realize how quaint Character, Virtue, Will, Commitment, Self-Mastery, and the Beyond have become among us? How flat our un-Vertical world has become? How smooth our un-adult world has become? How dangerous our world has become in its government-engorging selective crusade for societal and individual purity? How disenchanted our world has become without a Beyond?

If there is anything ‘proper’ and ‘appropriate’ for us, it is the willingness to do the work of Peopling. Is it depressing to recall what stern exertions Liberty demands? Then we need to re-educate ourselves as to just what the hell we have inherited here in this Republic. Our economic and cultural elites are depressed by statues that speak of the vigorous darknesses of life; our young troops are depressed (with far more reason) by the stern realities of war – and a failing war to boot. And against this ‘depression’ we are exhorted to ‘go shopping’ while our troops are prescribed sleeping-pills in a war-zone. And at all times to applaud politely as our whipmasters urge us on. Are we lemmings? Are we soup rabbits? Are we – in the gay argot – bottoms? Whatever we are becoming, if this keeps up we will most certainly be slaves.

The sculpture was, after some time in a storage shed, given a new billet, by the Transportation Authority, outside one of its ultramodern stations: on a concrete overpass, above the newly re-developed cement and asphalt plains of the city’s old fish pier and warehouse district. You have to know where it is. Once you get there, you have to imagine them riding the actual earth (although, rightly, the group has been ‘planted’ in an earth-filled wooden stand).

But they are there. And they are Here. Homeless because their cause requires them to have no home; betrayed by a smarmy propriety as treasonable to the human spirit as any hidden treachery … they pursue their mission. To such spirit, the whole earth is home. And yet no place on it can be Home. In their stern, faithful, resolute struggling for Justice and Liberty partisans make themselves unacceptable to the comfortably appropriate. And as it is for Justice and for Liberty, so also for partisans and the spirit of Resistance: only willing human hearts can create a place for them. But no permanent place. If we wish their company, we will have to join their stern and strenuous mission.

The soil of Boston Common was gracious to The Partisans. The twittery hearts of its current presiders were not. How can a Republic bloom if it is not rooted in the soil of the heart of The People? Not everyone who treads Boston Common is a patriot; not every one whose forebears entertained Washington is truly his heir.

The cheap-grace of Easy Abundance is over now. For just about everybody (except the wealthy). And if David M. Potter was right in 1954 that it was this continent’s Abundance that enabled its Democracy rather than the other way around, then what happens to Democracy when Scarcity returns?

(Among his numerous acutely useful pieces, see Chris Hedges here as a handy checklist of how far south things have gone in these parts now.)

The cheap-grace of Easy Wealth is over now. Gone are the “affluent masses”, like the herds of buffalo that once roamed the plains. It’s official: American advertising honchos and honchettes have now declared it and are altering their attentions accordingly. Most Americans are not worth the time and the advertising dollar any longer.

The cheap-grace of maturity is over now. Only a very few will be able to maintain the glitz and gleam that used to pass for adult ‘achievement’ and ‘success’; everybody else can reconcile themselves to being also-ran’s, plow-horses, or get an early start on the plod to the glue factory.

What happens to generations that were raised with that cheap-grace delusion that having lotsa shiny, beepy things makes for the choice-filled, totally autonomous, utterly liberated self? What happens to a self held together by the exo-skeleton of shiny, beepy stuff while the interior is a gooey mush of unripe desires, passions, and shallow sensations passing for thought and Character? What happens to a Maturity that was actually propped up by Abundance, when the Abundance goes and the time of Scarcity returns?

(And in regard to that point, let me point out one of my abiding thoughts: What has wrecked the Left of the past 40 years: while corporatism, consumerism, and the increasingly lethal depredations of the developing National Security State and the National Grab State and its ‘humanitarian interventions’ and ‘kinetic military actions’ have done their share to create the actions, it was the Left’s embrace of whackulent anti-reality theories and the undermining of genuine Values and Character and any sense of an actual national commonweal embracing all Americans that provided the simulacrum of philosophical justification for the whole thing AND ALSO spun it all as ‘liberation’. The nasty and deceptive rubric under which this nation now goes out to ‘liberate’ others has been ruthlessly played in Our domestic political arena for 4 decades now.)

What happens to a great nation that has squandered its heritage on sooo many levels, and now – in the absence of any larger Hegemon upon whose coat-tails it can decently pretend to be its old razzle-dazzle self – faces the awful choice: either fade away to has-been status or man-up, gas up the gunboats, and head out to grab other peoples’ stuff?

Was Qua-daffy a 3rd rate monster? The Beltway found it could live with him for the past 40-plus years. Suddenly it can’t. Perhaps because he is sitting on oil reserves fully one-third the size of Iraq’s huge cache (you recall Iraq, don’t you?) and his independent Libyan central bank is sitting on top of almost 150 tons of pure gold.

That’d be a handy place to have in your pocket. If imperial Spain found her (temporary) salvation in the gold and riches of the New World, then here’s a place with lots of gold, a great location in the planet’s central resource-rich belt, a whole lotta oil, and – as if God willed it – an independent-minded tyrant who’s easily classifiable as ripe for ‘humanitarian replacement’ and a dose of (American-controlled) democracy. If Iraq didn’t work out so well, maybe this smaller place will work out now that the Beltway has worked out the kinks in its gameplan.* 

If the Beltway has gone so far down the road of ‘deconstructing’ this country’s productive capacity and the nasty, sweaty, masculine culture that actually made quantities of stuff that could be sold competitively, then … if you can’t Produce, then ‘real men’ Go Out and Grab.

We should have guessed it when Archie and Edith were replaced by the well-coiffed, Audi-driving simulacra in “Ordinary People”. Sooner or later those smooth and shiny types were going to need to have only Correct people around them, and that need would radiate out across the planet in ever-expanding radial waves, like a tsunami of Correctness. And anyway, after they’d blown their wad buying up all sorts of foreign goodies, they’d need more Golden Eggs.

And having ‘deconstructed’ their own Golden Goose, they’d have to multitask and raid other peoples’ hen-houses while imposing the choice-filled total-autonomy of Correctness. Democracy at the hands of armed missionaries … even Napoleon was leery of that as a sustainable national gameplan. But what did he know?

And this country is no longer simply going in to preach Democracy – there’s a shopping list to be filled and a whole lotta shopping bags humped along for the purpose; America charges for its services now, and the Beltway doesn’t come cheap. (I read somewhere this past week that during the summer a Congressman was asked to leave Iraq when he suggested rather bluntly that Iraq should have the good manners to pay the US for expenses related to its liberation.)

Meanwhile the Partisans continue their long ride, in season and out of season, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, deriving their energy from an interior strength and dedication to a genuinely worthy Cause, doing their bit as best they can.

‘Depressing’? Have you looked around recently?


*I think a genuine moral issue for American Citizens in the Age of Scarcity is this: as Our own Abundance fades, are We going to allow Our government to continually initiate military action (“kinetic military action” as the current Administration likes to put it to distinguish it – semantically at least – from plain old ‘war’) in order to Grab Stuff and compensate for the shortfall in American Abundance by going out and taking it? THIS, I would say, is the genuine and urgent moral challenge of the day for all of Us.

The sheeps-clothing of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and the even more pretextual assertion that a culture’s not-being in compliance with official American feminism’s assessment about ‘the status of women’ in that culture justifies military action, are not the primary challenge here. (Nor for that matter, do many cultures around the planet really not-notice that the liberation of an imposed ‘regime change’ also includes an imposed ‘culture change’ on a profound level.)

Whereas in the late 19th century this country was flexing its new muscle as it went out and ‘liberated’ the Philippines and toyed around in Latin, Central, and South America using gunboats and Marines (Marine general Smedley Butler later said he functioned as nothing more than an armed goon for United Fruit), now in the early 21st century this country has blown its wad and needs to find Stuff – and lots of it – quickly. And other large (not to say great) nations on the planet – though in a rising rather than falling phase – are also playing that same old Game, which they have been playing for a very long time.

Do We accept some level of reduced wealth and a return of some level of Scarcity, or do We allow Our government to go out and Grab Stuff for Us?

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Saturday, August 13, 2011


There has been a great deal already written now about the last week’s extended period of rioting in the UK.

I am going to discuss some thoughts in light of what might be of relevance to Our situation here in the US.

An article in the Vancouver ‘Sun’ provides an excellent starting point. It notes the assorted ‘explanations’ for the ‘source’ of the rioting and I’m just going to follow along with its text and make comments as I go.

Was the rioting “only to be expected” in neighborhoods of great economic distress? Did the “police just ‘have it coming’”?  

The first point here is to note the now-conventional leap from violation of the law to ‘understanding’ the sources of the violations. Police enforce the law; sociologists and academics of other disciplines study events, perhaps with an eye to not only understanding but making some recommendations.

In which case you then have to distinguish between what is ‘ideal’ and what is ‘workable’, and then have to figure how to erect such recommendations into a national policy that will seek either to inspire or impose changes on the living complex organism that is a living society and culture – all of which should, in a democratic society and culture, involve wide and deep and sustained public deliberation and agreement before any such developed-policy recommendations are erected into law and regulations.

But then you have to factor in the advanced, ‘professional’ level ‘advocacy’ of the past 40 years (a UK as well as a US phenomenon). From the neighborhood ‘activist’ and ‘pressure groups’ of the late 1960s and early 1970s this has mutated and expanded into powerful, politically influential interest-groups that have set up shop within the Beltway (or in London) to participate in the Identity-Politics Era’s version of the (non-smoking) ‘smoke-filled room’ of the bad old days of Gilded Age, machine-politics; in this scenario, the ‘public’ doesn’t enter into it, and it’s a matter of those who have wangled or won ‘a seat at the table’ doing whatever ‘deals’ can be hammered out.

It is to this that deliberative politics in a large and complex democratic and constitutional republic have descended, and ‘principles’ or ‘deliberation’ don’t enter into it. The ‘deal’ will be hammered out by pols and interest-group reps who feel they’ve done their day’s work and earned their salt, and ‘the public’ will simply have to like or lump whatever laws, policies, and regulations are then formally erected and imposed.

And the second point is that the police are now put in the position of having to somehow not only enforce the law (which is a job enough) but also to enforce it with an eye to how it should be enforced and (as We shall see below) how they must not enforce the law ‘impartially’ (a prime fundament of Western culture’s achievement in world history) but rather ‘partially’ – meaning that all sorts of special restrictions, admonitions, policies, regulations, and practices must be taken to account depending on who is doing the law-violating.

This dynamic, even before you start getting to such freighted and fraught specifics as race and gender politics, is stunningly complex, perverse, and obstreperous (meaning that it won’t always go where you want it to go and produce the results that you foresaw in the clubby precincts of the (non-smoking) smoke-filled room where you decided to ignite the dynamic in the first place).

The third point is that the police, the ‘boots on the ground’ out there on the front lines of the job, are now put in a situation not only ‘nuanced’ and ‘complex’ but impossibly contradictory: either you are going to claim to be impartially enforcing the laws or you are going to be deliberately exercising ‘partiality’ in how you enforce the laws.

And the police will thus always be consulting their Memos and the latest edition of their guidelines, and wondering – since no politician is going to take the heat for claiming in rock-solid plain English what’s going on now – whether you are about to do something that will land you into treacherously uncertain and swampy procedural and legal territory, where inherently and deliberately mushy definitions might suddenly be turned against you.  The pressure is on you to just wait and see what instructions (including the treacherous and slimy wink or nod) come from Above.

Leading to the fourth point, that generations of senior British police commanders and honchos have now achieved their current status and authority primarily on the basis of mastering the Gumby-like malleability to speak out of many sides of their mouths and quickly shift their positions to accommodate the prevailing political winds. This is lethal for the efficiency of any organization, but especially a police organization, charged as it is with such authority and responsibility to ensure enforcement of the laws. And if your cardiologist allows you, give some thought as to what such a frakkulent miasm of swamp-gas butt-covering does to the integrity of an organization.*

And the fifth point brings Us to the entire point, again, of confusing actions and causes. The job of the police is to assess whether an action violates the laws and then act accordingly. It is up to the courts to assess the causes and motivations of the act; and then it is up to the legislature to consider wide changes that might be necessary (and workable) to address those underlying causes.
BUT you cannot cram all of this into the one dense point in time and space where the police encounter law-violations on the street, as it were. No human policy and no human beings (meaning the police themselves) can function adequately under such intense, almost astrophysical, amounts of pressure and radiation.

The article then goes on to ask “But what should we make of another theory, that the police handled the rioters with kid gloves because they were paralyzed by fear of being called racist?”.  

Who could be surprised if such were the case?

Here is the consequence (unintended - or perhaps not, but just as real, nonetheless) of all of the foregoing dynamics ignited and unleashed in the polity over the course of recent years. The unequal and deliberately ‘partial’ enforcement of the law has been discussed above.

In addition you see here the complexity of making the police not simply law-enforcers but also the hands-on representatives of the Nanny State , seeking to be ‘understanding’; deciding – like Carol Gilligan’s Mommy At The Breakfast Table – just what each of her squalling tykes needs (more sugar, a hug, a warning, a sharp rap on the fingers, deprivation of sugar, the humming of a favorite tune) simply to get through the meal.

You can’t have the police committed formally to impartial enforcement of the law while simultaneously requiring them in practice to decide – again like Gilligan’s Mommy – and in the tension-filled context of the ever-complicated and shifting waters of on-scene encounters, just which law violator gets the law enforced against him/her and who gets ‘understanding’ (especially, on the basis of Race).

This is a recipe for failure, disaster, and as general respect for the efficacy and integrity of law consequently declines, societal catastrophe. Which would include catastrophe for the government itself, which you would think might give pols and bureaucrats a bit of pause, but they have learned to brighten their days merely with the self-congratulation of making a good ‘deal’ in the (non-smoking) smoke-filled rooms of the Beltway, Whitehall, or the Commons.

This started out in the US as a way of simultaneously reining in the Southern Jim Crow police agencies of the 1950s and early 1960s and ensuring that so clear and clearly repellent a Regime of policing – and repellently enforcing the repellent Jim Crow laws to boot – would not continue.

But it kept spreading as the US suddenly found itself facing the mid-later 1960s ‘summer riots’ when the far more complex and decidedly chiaroscuro context of the non-Southern urban cities presented a far more and for all practical purposes clearly different challenge and reality. In that event, the almost ‘simple’ dynamics of the clearly good-evil melodrama (in the best sense of the word) of Freedom-vs-Jim-Crow were hopelessly inadequate to the changed tactical and strategic situation, and consequently the simplistically sustained application of the anti-Jim Crow strategy became a grossly inadequate response to the challenge presented.

And on top of that (in an eerie contemporaneous echo of the US military’s steepening descent into the morass of Vietnam), the efforts to continue applying the (now inadequate) strategy by intensifying it caused only a mutation of the genuinely effective and truly marvelous Southern Civil Rights strategy into the conceptually fraught and twisted race-partial Frankenstein-ian misch of laws, policies, and regulations that are in effect today, both here and in the UK. (Let us pass over in silence here the subsequent levels of legislative and jurisprudential frakkery as the Race category was joined and vastly expanded by the Gender category.)

Again, there is a world of difference on the ground, on the civic terrain, between robustly enforcing bad laws, poorly enforcing good laws, and impartially enforcing good laws. As has so often spelled disaster for armchair generals, the treachery of the actual terrain doesn’t appear on the flat, neat maps back at higher headquarters. (Hitler, as some of his general staff officers noted after the war, was fond of watching himself sweep his hands over vast clear spaces of Russia on the map – boldly directing to Go here, Execute that – while his vaunted troops were freezing and mired in the morass of the actual situation on the Eastern Front.)

Nor does it help clarify matters when rioters claim – as they have now been taught to claim – that they resent the police: “The police never talk to us, they ignore us, they don’t think we’re human in this area … the way police treat blacks is like we’re nothing … the police behave in an arrogant manner that puts people’s backs up”. These are the legitimate claims of Southern US blacks in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But they are not quite as easily applicable to later situations (up to and including the present). A riot is a riot, after all, and a truly terrifying reality if you’re downrange of it and not part of the party, and your home or business about to be torched.

And the riot is not especially ‘pure’ when general looting and pilferage and outright theft and even robbery take place in the middle of it, perhaps as its primary functional activity (all of the US riots demonstrated this, including New York’s as late as 1977 and LA’s in 1992, and the recent UK riots). ‘Understanding’ the possible or even probable economic causal elements doesn’t and cannot be allowed to have an effect on the police response to a riot.

(I can’t help but think that the LAPD did the Western world no end of harm when it conducted that ridiculous drawn-out ‘pursuit’ of O.J. Simpson in the now-famous white Bronco along LA’s freeways that afternoon: dozens if not hundreds of police cars respectfully following the vehicle at respectable speeds mile after mile, roads blocked, traffic snarled (and who knows how many ambulances en route to patients or hospitals delayed?) while the cameras were greedily grinding away. But it was considered in elite quarters to be ‘sensitive’ police work.)

And clearly the UK police were not ‘arrogant’; the riots went on in no small part because the UK police – replete with a heavily sensitized command structure and thousands of officers employed in ‘community liaison and service’ billets and warned never to go overboard (see below) – stood   by. A skeptical mind might wonder if all of those billets – no doubt filled in great part by quota-hires of race and gender, thoroughly indoctrinated in ‘modern sensitive’ policing  – for all practical purposes reduce the police to spiffily-uniformed social-workers and street-corner psychotherapists. And, ominously, all the potential and actual rioters know that now.

(In case you’re wondering, I am not advocating a return to the days of the Southern highway-patrols and sheriff’s deputies of the 1950s and early 1960s; in fact, I would imagine that they, even more than the LAPD , did law-enforcement a huge disservice by demonstrating with such awful vividness what happens when bad laws are allowed to exist for long stretches of decades and then such laws go on to corrupt even the well-intentioned police who dutifully follow orders and policy and try to enforce them. But you cannot expect the police – whose role in society, especially in the legal Universe of a constitutional democracy, is supposed to be limited – to embody and enforce all of the ‘changes’ that politicians so blithely legislate with a figurative, terra-forming sweep of their hands over the national map.) **

As this meaty article goes on to note: “Other residents who witnessed people carrying off carpets, trainers and watches noticed that [the rioters involved] included individuals of all ‘colours and creeds’, suggesting an outburst of sheer lawlessness rather than righteous retaliation for past racial slights”.

Or to put things in an American idiom: today’s rioters – and it has been this way for quite a few decades now in these parts – are not the long lines of self-disciplined, genuinely courageous Freedom Marchers from Martin Luther King’s glowing heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These are not – to borrow a phrase from the feminist PR manuals – ‘your father’s’ rioters; in fact, during MLK’s ascendancy there were no rioters.

I can only agree wholeheartedly with the article’s assertion that “reluctance to use force is right and we should be reluctant to reproach the police for it”. This is right and proper in a constitutional democracy where, ideally, all the ‘public’ are Citizens who are committed to fulfilling the obligations and responsibilities that are so profoundly attached to that role and title.

But nowadays and as a result of decades of Correct ‘deconstruction’ of Western civilization and the deployment of Theory-driven agitprop Victimism by organized interests whose (short-term) advantage such deliberate wrecking has served, not all of the members of the public subscribe to – or have even been raised to recognize – such responsibilities and obligations as are utterly indispensable to the sustaining and nourishing of a genuine polity that respects the vital reality of its own common weal.

And as the British commentator Theodore Dalrymple has said: today’s youthful rioters are not so much suffering from a lack of self-esteem as they are wallowing benightedly in a surfeit of self-approval and an utter (and quite possibly unconscious or pre-conscious) lack of genuine self-respect (as Citizens and – not to put too fine a point on it – as adults). And after almost half-a-century of this crapulent wrecking, many of the rioters are no longer ‘youthful’ but – chronologically at least – are of an age when, as used to be said, they should know better.

In fact, it is positively eerie how some of the rioter’s complaints against the police – they don’t respect us, they don’t listen to us, they don’t pay attention to us – sound like nothing so much as James Dean’s character whining about his parents’ shortcomings: 'you don’t understand me', in the now-iconic 1950s film, Rebel Without A Cause. Go figure.
That being said, you don’t need to have completed a 300-level university course in Civics to sense deep down in your soul (yes, I know – the concept has been declared no longer road-worthy and among elites has been put up on blocks in the national garage, or sent to the crushing machine) that it’s somehow very surely not ‘right’ to go out and wreck other people’s property or take it for your own enjoyment, making a hash of their lives and perhaps physical well-being in the process.

And – one would imagine – a police command authority that has most surely taken advanced degrees in 300, 400, and 500-level courses in that area of professional study would recognize when matters have taken a turn that require the police to take legitimately robust measures. In the old days it was called ‘reading the Riot Act’, whereby a senior police commander would face the crowd in full boots-on-the-ground mode, unroll a copy of the Act and proclaim it out loud with its warning as to what would happen if everybody didn’t settle down forthwith, and then it was up to the ladies and gentlemen of the immediate assembly to decide what direction matters would take from there.

Curious how the Information Age has not resulted in the dissemination of certain useful and vital information. (Nor am I suggesting that the police simply enter the electronic age by tweeting the Riot Act to all personal communications devices within a certain riot-torn area … although you can bet some entrepreneur will be calculating how to make a few government bucks by submitting a proposal for funding. Not that there are many government bucks or pounds or Euros to go around any longer.)

But, the article sagely observes, “Since the Macpherson Report of 1999, the UK police have been hypersensitive about race. This attitude has now become so paradoxical that they find themselves standing aside when members of ethnic minorities are being harmed. The people who ran shops, or who lived in the flats above, were not given the protection they deserved.”

Following on the death of a young black man by what was to all appearances a gang of brutally laddish white boyos in 1993, a major UK government Report was compiled (see here for a superb British paper explaining  that Report, entitled “Racist Murder and Pressure Group Politics” released by the  UK think-tank “Institute for the Study of Civil Society” in 2000).

That Report, named after its chairman, insisted that despite the unhappy fact that there was not enough evidence to actually bring the case to successful prosecution (for which it recommended watering-down or side-stepping traditional Western and British rules of evidence – a gambit taken up in American ‘victim-friendly’ law around the same time) … despite all that, yet there was “institutional racism” that ran through British society and its culture and institutions like holes in Swiss cheese (my image) and that such institutional-racism extended to the police.

It ignored (perhaps as ‘thinking too much’) the complex and very difficult distinctions between perennially unavoidable misapplications of good law and policy, bad law and policy whether well or ill-applied, and deliberate and malicious race-conscious laws and policy (of which it admitted it could find little evidence and few examples).

BUT, it continued, the real problem was in “unwitting institutional racism” which, as you might quickly imagine, opened up everything to the fear that lurking racist Evil – like vampires, Communists, or sex-offenders – was hiding everywhere such that even well-intentioned people and institutions were “guilty” whether they knew it or not, whether they intended malice or not.

You can see where such a gambit simultaneously opened the floodgate to as many expert Witch-finders General as wished to appoint themselves and apply for government monies to fund their inevitable ‘shocking discoveries’; and also created a near-Mania atmosphere where the eager cadres of pressure-group advocacy could point the accusing and deconstructing finger in almost any direction and be sure of hitting some element of the common culture and polity,;and the general Citizenry could be intimidated and emotionally bethumped into numbed acquiescence under the demoralizing ‘awareness’ that they were and always would be and always had been guilty, guilty, guilty.

This hit the British police especially hard in the 1990s (just as the American military of that era was hit by the same gambit in regard to ‘genderism’ and etcetera and etcetera and etcetera).

The result in all the above instances was predictable: the agents of the culture were paralyzed as if by a snake’s venom, and could only “collapse like a boned fish” (that marvelous image in the filmed dialogue of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in regard to Frodo’s being injected by the ancient spider-demon Shelob). All of the afore-mentioned authoritative leadership structures responded to such attack by, for all practical purposes, rendering themselves witlessly but deliberately invertebrate. Hence the UK police response to the recent riots.

The UK had already taken a solid whack from the Scarman Report of the early 1980s which had been commissioned after the Brixton riots of 1981. That Report drew the unhappy and infelicitous conclusion that “white” police lacked legitimacy in “black” areas; one is reminded of Lincoln’s annoyed exclamation when one of his Army of the Potomac commanders happily telegraphed that having repulsed an ‘invasion of the North’ by Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, “the enemy has been driven from our soil”: “When will my generals learn that the entire country is ‘our soil’?”

The police were now not to consider themselves as enforcement agents of the national laws if they were ‘white’ and the neighborhood was ‘black’. This was possibly well-intentioned and certainly grist for serious and deliberate thought leading to some form of effective and workable action; but to immediately erect a government ‘policy’ that for all practical purposes recognized such a piously bleated assertion as Gospel was incomprehensibly and lethally witless if not also profoundly irresponsible on the part of a government that was quickly reducing itself to being National Panderer to this, that, and every other pressure-group Demand and Agenda, artfully and telegenically staged.

This was no way to responsibly face the admittedly vast and deep challenges of shaping an increasingly multiracial society – although, I would add, one would think that a common identity as Citizens of the British polity would have been considered a valuable element in formulating national policy … but prior decades’ worth of Identity Politics and the outré demands of full-blown Multiculturalism had already grievously weakened that element.

And then Scarman went on to assert that “there is widespread agreement that the composition of our police forces must reflect the composition of our society”. The article – and I agree – disagrees. The legitimacy of the police is not based on whether this or that group, however it considers itself distinguishable, recognizes in the police a satisfactory mirror-image of itself. It depends on the competence of the police officers and – one sincerely hopes – the wisdom of the laws they are sworn to enforce. ***

With baize-covered bravery, Scarman insisted that the police had to be diversified and sensitized “whatever the cost may be”. In that last phrase his Lordship acknowledged by sly omission that even then there was substantial professional concern that ‘efficiency’ would be surrendered to ‘equality’ (and, to use the American term, ‘diversity’). And the results of that recklessly well-intentioned pronunciamento were on display for all the world to see last week.

The US military, far more able to shield unhappy realities from its Citizen public under the guise of ‘national security’ and nowadays the stunningly cynical pieties of ‘supporting the troops’, has not yet found itself under what for UK police honchos and honchettes must be the nightmare-inducing torture of Klieg lights as their and their government’s gross errors and illusions rampaged through the streets of the national capital and other major cities for all the world to see.

Indeed, in 2002, as the article goes on to note, the UK Association of Chief Police Officers went the government one better and issued a ‘hate crimes’ manual that incorporated all the most outré frakkery of contemporary ‘postmodernist’ legal and political theory: ‘strict impartiality” was an illusion because every (Western, dominating, oppressor) police force was utterly and immutably incapable of being “colour-blind”, and the Chiefs derisively described impartial policing as “policing that purports to treat everyone in the same way [which] is flawed and unjust because it fails to take account of the fact that different people have different reactions and different needs … [and that] failure to recognize these means failure to deliver services appropriate to needs”.  

One would think that the job of the police is to enforce the national laws among the national Citizenry and those others who are present on the national soil. Meeting needs is not what the police are for, one would think, except for meeting the Citizenry’s need for the police to enforce the laws fairly and impartially (albeit with a hefty dollop of savoir-faire and competence).

And if this or that group claims to have a “need” to break those laws, well then it’s time for that group and the national authority to sit down and have a serious talk about brass tacks and turkey and such. And if this or that group claims to have a “right” to break those laws, well then … something is going to have to really really be faced up to, along the lines of parting-of-the-ways and Godspeed and that sort of thing.

In the article’s pithy phrase, “impartial justice was now unjust” – under the seal of the nation’s Chief police officers. This is Multiculturalism 101 in any specially-erected academic ‘-Studies’ department in the Western world, and that’s all it is.

Yet the UK police honchos and honchettes staked upon it their lives, fortunes, and their sacred honor (to borrow a timeless phrase). Oh, and the professional competence of the organizations and of the human beings under their command who had sworn an oath to justly enforce the laws, and trusted their commanders to maintain at least a working modicum of integrity, intelligence, common sense, and professional maturity.  

But c’est la guerre, it seems. Tut-tut and lah-dee-dah. One wants to get the medals for being au courant with the latest cutting edge ‘progress’ and ‘reform’; they jingle with such muted fineness at A-list dinner parties, twinkling back at the polished silver under the crystal light of the chandelier to provide a veritable visual symphony of professional success. Yah.

And, in a further paragraph that would be ominously familiar to any modern police or military officer in the UK or the US, the manual went on to observe that many boots-on-the-ground were not really in agreement with these new Insights – and that they would have to be “re-trained” and, if necessary, “disciplined”.

Ach. Ja. Yah.

You can thus imagine that UK police officers of all ranks were now in the position of race-horses who had been incredibly mis-trained and required not to run the race (let alone to win it), but rather to keep looking down to see if their legs were going up and coming down in the Correct sequence (reports in support and substantiation thereof to be filed within x-hours after each race). Good blessed frakking grief.

But as always in this sort of thing, the Chiefs slyly seek to grab the high ground: “There is no place in the police service for those who will not “uphold and protect the human rights of others”. Among which rights are apparently not the right to have your tax monies go to providing a police force that will enforce the laws impartially.

In Mary McCarthy’s acute phrasing: this manual should not be put aside lightly … it should be hurled against the nearest wall with great force.

Future historians will wonder how any advanced society’s government could embrace such self-destructive whackulence, and will probably conclude that sometime on or about January 1, 1990 the polities of the UK and the US became for all practical purposes historical mastodons: overlarge, unable to coordinate themselves even in the most essential tasks of competently maintaining themselves, and already past the fork in the road that led to the Land of the Has-Been. Joining, just a bit belatedly, their former Soviet adversary. Perhaps We are indeed approaching the end of history, as one popular conceit has it – or at least a certain version of history. (That clicking sound you should be hearing is you fastening your seat-belt.)

In a curious symmetry, the national governments of the US and the UK seem to have lost any self-respect for themselves and their polities just as the rioters seem to have lost (if they ever had it to begin with) any self-respect for themselves as Citizens.

A complex and highly developed society and culture – in this case those of the US and the UK as embodying the remarkable wisdom of classic Western civilization – is a living organism and somewhat fragile; if there is a vital need for ‘sensitivity’ in all this, it is first and foremost a sensitivity toward the need to nurture, sustain, and – yes - improve this amazing human achievement, Western civilization, in a way both desirable and workable. Great civilizations and their wisdom don’t grow on trees; and as experienced sea-going sailors say of their vessels: be nice to her, she’s our only ride home.
Continuing its sequential broadside, the article asserts (rightly, I would say) that “In this kind of atmosphere it is not surprising that officers in charge of a riot think it safer to wait for orders from the top rather than use their discretion to protect the public without fear or favour”.

Because the deployment of the street police officers’ authority has been so thoroughly and frakkulently undermined by both unripe academic Theory and politicized, ever-shifting definitions that mutate and shape-shift according to ever-changing political winds and whims (courtesy of invertebrate senior police commanders who have gotten their silver-encrusted rank doodads and tastefully tinkling medals by doing precisely the same thing).  

While I hold no brief for the late Lt. Col. Custer’s stunningly inept handling of his operations at the Little Big Horn, yet the man positively shines in comparison with the performance of the senior UK police commanders.  And in his earlier and happier days as a Civil War cavalry commander he at least had enough of the right stuff to insist that his command “ride toward the sound of the guns”: if you’re in uniform and the guns of battle are firing ‘over there’, then that’s most likely where you should be going yourself, and with some determined intention of making a useful difference upon arrival.

Thus endeth the Lesson.


*Now, and again, and always again, I point out how this entire syndrome can also affect a nation’s military, as it has most surely in the US.

** And continuing the thought contained in the Note immediately above, the same goes for the military: its job – awesomely difficult enough – is to efficiently defend the national interest through the application of armed force and lethal combat operations. This is tough enough as it is (despite all the hoopla of push-button warfare and superman combat suits of clothing and gear) without trying to impose the highly-dubious theory of ‘diversity representation’ (especially in gender and competence) which carries with it the astoundingly horrific assumption that ‘equality’ (or rather: some organized interests’ definition of it) trumps combat efficiency … and the connection of that treacherous presumption to Our current, sempiternally ongoing military misadventures is a Story yet to be told.

***Continuing if I may to repeat myself, this flatulently and lethally fatuous dampdream, under the mindless Orwellian rubric of ‘diversity’, was whole-heartedly endorsed in this country by the invertebrate leaders of all the armed services in the 1990s (truly an awful decade in the history – such as it may remain – of Western civilization).


There’s probably even darker wheels within wheels here. Imagine a police officer who in the normal course of a week’s work, let’s say, might encounter 5 assaults/robberies or serious thefts. Arrests are made; in four of the five cases the accused are not-white; the officer, let’s say, is white.

Under the Correct rules, the simple fact that the ‘effects’ of the arrests are that they indicate a disproportion in terms of ‘race’ and so are ‘racist’. They may be ‘unwittingly racist’ rather than deliberately racist (i.e. the officer purposely only goes after and arrests black perpetrators) but that is no longer the main point of the exercise.

Rather, because of the mere calculation of the percentages, the matter can be primarily viewed through the lens of ‘racism’, and all of the consequent and scripted steps of a ‘racism’ instance can be set in train.

But this then gets an awful lot of powers-that-be off the hook. The government (politicians and bureaucrats) that has for decades imposed policies that have resulted in the weakening of the Family, of the authority and status of the parents and of adults, the conceptual assault on fatherhood and masculinity as well as adulthood … that government and all of its Correct minions, demographics, and Identities is now off the hook.

After all, this pattern of arrests is merely an outrageous example of the racism inherent in oppressive Western society and so on and so forth. And that is precisely the type of thing that the government had set itself to eradicate with its imposition of the radical Multiculturally-inspired policies, laws and regulations to begin with.

In this way, the whole show rolls on even though it results in the creation of an ideological fog that blankets its actual dynamics in the distracting and occluding miasm of a false cause.

Yes, there’s the theory that poverty (a poverty arbitrarily imposed by the economic arrangements of society) causes their violence and crime; but then why don’t all person who are poor commit crimes? There must be other factors.

And this is precisely where governments indentured to Correctness (the US and the UK most deeply) don’t want you to go. Southern blacks in the era of Jim Crow didn’t commit real crime (although they were abhorrently pursued for all manner of things by the police of that time and place).

And that’s where the question arises: to what extent does a secular, anti-Family, anti-Father, anti-male society – with character and virtue and decency and any solid grounding in an anthropology that supports constructive and purposeful maturity all ‘deconstructed’ or ‘de-valorized’ – contribute causally to the lives of violence and anomie now evident in what has become a genuine ‘underclass’ morally even more than economically?

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