Wednesday, November 30, 2011


One last essay on current matters before I get back to Terry Eagleton’s “Reason, Faith, and Revolution”.

Peter D. Salins, then an Urban Affairs professor at Hunter College, wrote a book*on Assimilation and Acculturation in the US back in February, 1997, entitled “Assimilation, American Style”.

Since this gets him into Multiculturalism and a whole gaggle of other initiatives and developments that have been embraced by elites in the past few decades around here, and since the subject is of such importance, I want to share my thoughts.

He observes that in other societies around the world Assimilation has meant that new-comers must “abandon all their original cultural attributes and conform entirely to the behaviors and customs of the majority of the native-born population”.

He is wise to put the topic in context of world-wide practice, since Assimilation and Multiculturalism mean different things depending on the site-context. So, for example, in the highly fraught nations of Southeast Europe (the Balkans) and in the nations bordering them, Multiculturalism and Assimilation have indeed pretty much meant precisely that: give up all your old ways (and old habits of ethnic insistence and ethnic hatred) if you want to join or create a new society.

In France in the 1960s and 1970s the problem was how to respond to large numbers of immigrants from the former French colony of Algeria – so recently and violently freed from its colonial status but still possessing dense ties to French culture – and seeking to  make a better life for themselves by leaving Algeria and immigrating (or moving) to France.

Canada, on the other hand, began with two large already-established sub-cultures: the Aboriginal population (popularly referred to as ‘Indians’) and the French-speaking population of Quebec. In the 1960s pressure was generated by both of these populations.

But whereas the Aboriginals were open to some larger blending, while also seeking from the larger society recognition and respect for their customs and ways, yet the Quebecois were precisely looking to maintain their French-speaking culture as distinct from the larger English-speaking Canadian culture; they didn’t want to ‘blend with’ the English-speaking culture – they wanted to remain insulated from it and preserve their long-established French-based culture, certainly in their own originally French Province of Quebec, their geographical home and base.  

Each of these groups presents a different challenge to the national polity in regard to Multiculturalism and Assimilation.

The Aboriginals were seeking larger ‘recognition and respect’, you might say, although were open to some amount of cultural interpenetration and blending. How does a nation go about working through those desires? How would ‘recognition’ work out in policy and law? To what extent and in what ways can the national government bring about change? By helping to inform and perhaps also educate public opinion and see what the Citizenry come up with through their informed deliberations? By imposing policies and laws first, so as to more forcibly shape and direct public opinion?

The Quebecois were seeking to be left alone in their historically French-based culture. They too wanted government ‘recognition’, but that recognition would have to take the form of government laws aimed precisely at creating not only a special status for the Quebec culture, but also carving that special status out of the larger common culture of Canada and erecting policy and legal boundaries to ensure that, no matter what happened in the demography and culture of Canada yet the Quebec culture would remain distinct and, in a certain sense, separate. Thus the official language of Quebec would by law be French, and advertising signage would have to be in French (although English translations beneath the French would be more or less permitted).

It goes without saying that on top of all that complexity, the Canadians were then also embroiled in the misch of matters stemming from US cultural experiences and developments, where Multicultural demands were going in a far different direction.

In the US, there would be no geographically separate units that remain the preserve of a particular sub-culture. Indeed, there would be a question whether there was even any American Culture to which other ethnic identities were more properly construed as sub-cultures.

Racial identity, not at all the same thing as immigrant-ethnic identity, was tending toward a blanket acceptance of ‘black culture’ (to the extent that any such single monolithic entity can accurately be said to exist) and, as well, a sense that such an identity was beyond the right of the white culture (ditto) to judge, nor should the ‘white’ expect the ‘black’ to change at all; while at the same time, whatever the ‘black culture’ chose to embrace as old or new cultural habits and ways would have to be accepted without ado.

And there was also the matter of to just what extent the national government should or could go in ‘recognizing’ these demands in policy and law.

This entire thrust was by nature highly political, given the long and difficult history of the black experience within (and at the hands of) the white experience throughout the country’s history.

And, as I have often said, all of this came to the fore in the later 1960s, when the reigning Democratic Party was desperate to enlist fresh ‘demographics’ and burnish its image as being the Party of ‘the common people’ in the face of the ongoing Vietnam debacle, the imminent end of the postwar American economic world-primacy, and (through the civil-rights legislation) the break-up of the New Deal coalition of the  Northern urban workers and the Southern Jim Crow-tinged political machinery.

The US government, as self-declared Leader of the Free World, was also eager to eradicate its vulnerability to Soviet observations that a country that claimed to be the home and protector of Freedom still treated its black population as second-class citizens. And in those late 1960s some notable post-Martin Luther King shapers and ‘representatives’ of black culture were voicing threats of ‘revolution’.

The fraught Questions as to how ‘black’ and ‘white’ culture might live together, with the black culture receiving ‘recognition’ not only through cultural acceptance (however defined) but also through active government programs that might be imposed (at public expense) to re-shape the national culture … these haunted and fueled the complexity.

And then, before the country could even begin to deliberate as to how to work through all that, suddenly there arose Genderism, again essentially distinct from the specific Multicultural concerns about assimilating immigrants from foreign countries and cultures.

Under the aegis of radical-feminism, the Citizenry was hypothesized as being divided and divisible not along the axis of race but of gender: ‘women’ were envisioned by their spokespersons as being long oppressed, regardless of race or ethnicity and including all of the women of the white culture as well as of black women and immigrant women.

Intensifying the complex problems even more, radical-feminism had drunk deeply from the wells of Marxist and Leninist cultural analysis, and by a simple substitution of ‘women’ for ‘proletariat’ and ‘working classes’ in the Communist tomes, the radical-feminists instantly had a ready-made corpus of ‘philosophical’ justifications and how-to manuals to bolster their position.

But the Marxist-Leninist analysis was and always had been specifically geared to ‘revolution’ and the overthrow of reigning systems. There was no room for ‘deliberative democratic process’ and not even any desire for it; only the cadres of the ‘revolution’ could be trusted to know and do what was right for ‘the masses’, whom the vanguard elites would lead like helpless cattle into the bright visions of the New Order. (See my immediately previous Post at Addendum 2 and Addendum 3 for more discussion of this development.)

Pre-eminent among this corpus of thought was the work of the early 20-century Italian Communist thinker Antonio Gramsci. In the service of the Marxist-Leninist Project and Cause, he had worked out a strategy whereby what he called the “hegemonic culture” could be attacked and undermined from within by a process of cadres forming a separate minority-culture and then making whatever temporary alliances had to be made to enable those cadres, seemingly speaking for all the oppressed, to infiltrate the government and not so much destroy it as to replace it, taking its power for themselves so that they could re-Shape society and culture through government power and thus lead the polity to the Great New Order.

Thus, his strategy simultaneously called for a) the formation of a culture precisely opposed to and distinct from the ‘hegemonic culture’ (this is where Multiculturalism starts to come in, in its American variant) while b) weakening and attacking the “hegemonic culture” at every opportunity (which including creating crises and outrages to fuel such opportunities) and c) continuously pressuring the government to incorporate more of your cadres into its ranks (where they could work against the “hegemonic culture” from within that culture’s own government).

Historically, not only the autocratic government of the Romanov Czars but also the classically Liberal government (Kerensky’s) that replaced them (for a brief sad moment, before Lenin overthrew the Liberals) had difficulty defending itself against such an attack strategy. Because the classically Liberal position was to remain open to free and open debate and the slow but respectful process of building public opinion and listening to the Citizenry; and under the protection of that Liberal (not to be confused with today’s ‘liberal’) praxis, the Marxist-Leninist-Gramscian vanguard-attack strategy could fester (or thrive, depending on your point of view), infiltrating and taking-over the government from within and taking its power for the purpose of bringing about the New Order.

So in the US, the radical-feminists hit the ground running with an already-worked out strategy of proven effectiveness (or frakkulence, depending on your point of view).

From that quick overview, you can see that Multiculturalism and the question of Assimilation has to be carefully sorted out from other dynamics also at work in (and on) the American polity.

It would have been nice if the American media and professoriate and even the legislators themselves had helped the public to get a handle on all of this (if it all sounds new and/or complex to you, well … now you know why).

But the politicians were desperate to raise up new reliable electoral ‘demographics’; and the media had a) gotten the idea that it was more fun to ‘make’ history than to merely ‘report’ it and also b) increasingly needed to keep readers interested, and there’s nothing like conflict (no matter how simplistically portrayed) between Good and Evil, with the Powerful Hero coming to the rescue, if you want to keep people reading and tuning in; and the same sort of thing hit the intellectuals and the professoriate, especially when they realized that the government was willing to provide lots of funding and the media was willing to provide lots of status, for profs who embraced the New Order.

And here We are.

Anyway, with all that pre-work out of the way, back to Salins.

In America, he notes, Assimilation has not meant abandoning your old culture. He’s got a point. For the long stretch from the 1630s to the 1840s, most immigrants were from the same general culture of Northern, Anglo-Saxon Europe. The Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican War added large tracts of territory that were rooted in French or Spanish culture, but they remained for quite a while territorially distinct.

Territoriality is an element of the Multicultural equation that doesn’t often receive the attention it deserves, I think. The culture of Old New Orleans (that doesn’t mean ‘before Katrina’ but rather the city as it existed from the beginning of the 19th century up to the mid-20th century) remained easily and comfortably unique and distinct, yet the inhabitants considered themselves Americans.

Yet it probably wouldn’t have worked if the government of that era had tried, say, to plant a little ‘New Orleans’ in each of the large Eastern cities; there was too much of a difference in cultural habits and ways (and Americans, at least in those days, did most certainly not like the government to be telling them what to do).

Nor, even more surely, would it have worked if the government had tried to reduce American culture to some sort of Least Common Denominator whereby you used government power to remove from American culture any element that would give offense to anybody, and then try to claim that the pale and flattened residue from that process would be a workable foundation for a new American culture.

Thus for example, the government might have insisted that any elements of urban Eastern-seaboard culture that didn’t mesh with an Old New Orleans type of culture would have to go; or at least, would have to be kept inside your own house, since the urban Eastern-seaboard cities were now officially going to be ‘sensitive’ to Old New Orleans culture.

The urban-immigrant enclaves of an earlier era, such as Boston’s North End, seemed to hit just the right balance: arising naturally out of the immigrant phenomenon, comprised of a genuine community that embraced America’s genius and core Vision while retaining the dense and subtle textures and matrix of their culture-of-origin.

This is a major axis of the reality involved in modern American Multiculturalism, especially since the American approach – trying to incorporate not only large numbers of post-1960s immigrants but also the sensitivities of the sub-cultures of race and gender – cannot realistically seek for some sort of ‘territorial-geographical’ solution, and has sort of fallen into the Least Common Denominator approach.

And that Least Common Denominator approach leads to a hugely weakened and thinned sense of common culture. (Which, of course, plays right into the Gramscian playbook of ‘weakening and undermining the hegemonic culture’ … funny how the night moves.)

But Salins quotes the sociologist Henry Fairchild (who did his work in the late 19th to mid-20th century, dying in 1956) that the American style had been “more flexible and accommodating, and consequently, more effective in achieving its purposes”.

(Remember, he is speaking of Multiculturalism in regard to Immigration, not Race and Gender.)

Thus, Fairchild saw the national purpose achieved in this regard: allowing the country to “preserve its national unity in the face of the influx of hordes of persons of scores of different nationalities”.

In the early and mid 19th century large numbers of immigrants from the Scandinavian and Germanic countries came over, but largely headed to the rich farming country of the Upper Midwest, where they enjoyed some geographic-territorial specificity, imparting a certain shape and tenor to that region of the country. But in the later 1800s large numbers of Poles and Central Europeans came over, congregating in such urban enclaves as Chicago.

And in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s the nation saw a huge influx of immigrants – needed for industrial growth, to work the many factories and shops – from non-English speaking countries, especially Southern and Central Europe.

Thus there was a large language difference, and some notable differences in customs and traditions, especially as the peasant and rural immigrants set up life in the Eastern seaboard cities; but I would add that they still brought with them some basis in a common European culture that stemmed back to the days of European unity in Christendom. And you can see how current American preoccupations with deconstructing or devalorizing that core European culture originating in the Christendom of many centuries ago undercuts even the solid ground that Fairchild thought the national Culture could be based on.

Salins notes the significant scholarly criticism as to whether “the melting pot” image – where immigrants would be totally transformed into Americans while the receiving culture did not change at all – ever actually worked at all.

There was, rather, he thinks, a mutual exchange whereby somehow the immigrants did become Americans but also imparted new dimensions to the American culture. That sounds more accurate to me.

Salins also notes the objections of the American philosopher Horace Kallen, who raised the acute point that it was neither wise nor prudent to expect human beings to thoroughly abandon the customs and traditions and ways of their birth (and if adults, those would be long-established life patterns). And that some amount of “cultural pluralism” (Kallen is said to have first used this term) actually is not only more humane and wise but also strengthens the national culture and polity.

Kallen’s thought, I note, was taken up by Randolph Bourne, who worked through the 1890s and up into the era of World War 1. Bourne thought that a “cosmopolitan” and “trans-national America” was a far better objective than simply confining ‘American culture’ to its initial or original Anglo-Saxon roots.

Bourne was no doubt alert to the tremendous American political complexities engendered by World War 1 in Europe. The largely Northern European, Scandinavian and Germanic Upper Midwest was partial to Germany in that war and did not want to see the US join the war. The Eastern seaboard leaned, in large part for cultural reasons, toward the English (with the vivid exception of the Irish-Americans who often harbored their own objections to the English).**

Kallen was on to something. Just how much and how fast and by what means can you change a culture – which, getting right down to it, is the shape and structure of many people’s lives? At this profound level, such things are not to be dealt with in a shallow or hasty way. And in the American Universe, certainly not by rapid and widespread government imposition. And not by an imposition that precisely seeks as well to preclude or foreclose public objections or doubts or questions, or simply the public need to have some time to deliberate and consider.

A government, I would say, that loses sight of such fundamental wisdom about how human beings ‘work’ is in grave danger of wrecking the society and the cultural and perhaps losing its legitimacy as well.

Kallen’s “cultural pluralism” seems to me a wise point. There is a human need for a reliable culture to ground and shape life and self, and there is a dynamic flexibility (‘plasticity’ might be implying too much to the modern American reader) in which the new (immigrant) culture would interact with the receiving culture.

This of course presumes that the immigrant seeks to embrace the core of the receiving culture (which s/he has chosen to join) and does not expect merely to exist at the margins of the receiving culture, rejecting it while enjoying its perceived benefits. While at the same time, the immigrant has the right and dignity not to be rapidly re-shaped as if s/he were an old ship quickly being re-built in the shipyard.

But you can see, I think, where this issue and the analysis and insight offered by the early 20th century thinkers is not sufficient to deal with modern American reality, where Multiculturalism has moved beyond simple (so to speak) matters of immigration and has become enmeshed with a more fundamental and hostile ‘pluralism’ of race and gender and even secularism that precisely seek not to embrace but to replace American “hegemonic culture” (derisively written off as dead, white, European, male, macho, industrial, logocentric, rational, insensitive, abstract, and so forth and so on).

Salins then proposes – perhaps for the purposes of discussion – an “ethnic federalism” that quietly abandons any thought that there actually is any such thing as “a transcendent American identity”, one that governs as a foundation all subsequent processes of Assimilation and cultural identification and creating Identity.

It’s an interesting gambit: American identity as amorphous, mostly flexible and unhindered by any deep or solid structuring or shaping that might obstruct adaptation to whatever sub-culture might come along to join the party.

But I have my doubts.

The Framing Vision was rooted in a quite historical specific time and place, though it was also legitimately seeking to embody a universality.

First, the Framing Vision was aware that it was dealing with human beings – and we are not now nor ever have been utterly invertebrate and plastic. In our human nature, in our lifeways, in our beliefs, we are somewhat limited in our plasticity. You can’t just change yourself or another  human being or a whole society of human beings overnight, especially through the imposition of external force (and the Framers most certainly did not want to see their federal government having such power or using it in such a way).

Second, the Framers, although deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, relied upon the Afterglow (my term) of Christendom. They could reliably presume – without having to admit it – that Americans (of that era) would not only share a common humanity, but also a common Ur-cultural grounding in the common culture of European Christendom: the dignity of all individuals, the responsibilities and limitations of any State and its agents under the judgment of the Higher Law of God, the essential dignity of humans yet somehow reliably prone to being undermined by some form of Original Sinfulness.

Third, the Framers imparted in their Framing Vision the hallmark English developments in political thought and the structuring of government: the right to be free of unwarranted government force, the division of the government authority to better prevent the centralization of power to such an extent that the government would escape the control of its governors (the Citizens) and turn on them.

The great blessing of Leviathan, after all, was that it somehow could reduce the vagaries of social violence; the great danger of Leviathan  – which the Romans had named with the question Quis custodet ipsos custodes? (Who shall guard the guards themselves?) – was that it would somehow burst its bonds and turn with all its accumulated power on the Citizens who had created it and who had given their personal powers of violence over to it.

Somehow that Framing Vision and its assumptions about the human beings who would form its Citizenry and exercise the vital role of The People is constitutive of America and of American Identity.

You can’t treat all that foundational work as merely ‘historical’ or ‘quaint’ or so plastic and malleable and fungible as to be invertebrate. Not only humans, not only Americans-as-humans, but also Americans as Citizens of this unique embodiment of a Vision of government … will be undermined, robbed of the Grounding that enables them to robustly fulfill their roles and responsibilities as Citizens together and as The People. ***

So a pure (that is to say: concerning immigrants) Multiculturalism still must deal not only with the matter of customs, traditions and lifeways, but also the vital reality of the Framing Vision.

Otherwise, Multiculturalism is undermined by an insufficient grasp of just what is at stake in all of this.

And of course, the enmeshed-Multiculturalism of modern America – insofar as it is so profoundly tainted at its very core with Leninist-Gramscian thought and praxis – presents an even more lethal challenge because it is not simply unaware of the Framing Vision but rather is aware of the Framing Vision and most deliberately seeks to do away with it.

Salins notes that contemporary Multiculturalists make many demands for concessions in regard to ethnic rights. I would add that they do not spend much time acknowledging concomitant responsibilities to a common civic culture or commonweal (even if you don’t want to go so far as to say a Common American Identity). And he does not take into account the race and gender ‘identities’ who claim ‘culture’ of their own, and often a culture that is incompatible with and engaged in ongoing war against the “hegemonic culture”.

He nicely lists some of the more wide-known counter-metaphors to the old “melting pot”: Jesse Jackson’s “rainbow”; David Dinkins’ “gorgeous mosaic”; Shirley Chisholm’s “salad bowl”; Barbara Jordan’s “kaleidoscope”.

But, he observes, they all share common assumptions: 1) that all Americans (at least he lists “immigrants and blacks”) can live side by side; 2) that none of them should ever have to give up their cultural habits or attributes; 3) that there never will be a common, single, unified national American identity to which all Americans can ascribe.

His observation is acute.

Because (1) requires some sort of Least Common Denominator approach which – given the wild efflorescence of American political developments and demands – would have to be very very “least” indeed, to the point of becoming invertebrate and unsurvivably thin.

And the Gramscian playbook is looking not simply to find any such Least Common Denominator but rather to replace the whole “hegemonic culture” in the first place. Anything else is a half-measure and is doomed to failure.

In this regard, I would add, Gramsci and the Leninists were actually kind of realistic: they realized that you can’t simply have a country without a government and a unifying culture. They didn’t simply want to get rid of government and culture. No, they wanted to get rid of the current government and culture in order to set up their own. The thought of a ‘rainbow’ or a ‘salad bowl’ would have reduced Lenin to scornful and derisive laughter. And Stalin was even more ruthless in his realism: he was not a ‘rainbow’ kinda guy at all and I doubt he liked salads. Human societies, like humans themselves, need spines and skeletons – solid and precisely not-plastic – to impart and support Shape and everything else.

I am not here plumping for a Volkisch or totalitarian uniformity, but a skeleton is a skeleton and humans don’t function well without one.

You also run smack into the Argo Paradox first formulated by the ancient Greeks: if you take a ship, named Argo, and embark on a long voyage, and in the course of that years-long voyage have to make numerous repairs, replacing piece by piece much of the ship, then at what point does the vessel cease to be the Argo at all?

Curiously, the 18th century US sailing frigate Constitution, still a commissioned warship of the US Navy and manned by a US Navy crew, probably contains no piece of wood from her original construction (with the exception of the very keel itself). So in what sense is she – and is she not – the Constitution that briefly won glory against Royal Navy frigates in the War of 1812?

You might say that she is the Constitution because most people choose to believe that or perhaps don’t even think about the question at all, but while belief is a very good thing, it doesn’t make the simulacrum real. And not-thinking about a question is hardly an answer to what might be a real problem.

And (2) requires immigrants and minorities (another Gramscian bit) who have no intention of embracing the recipient culture. But then why immigrate and why should the recipient country be under any obligation to receive you? And if it receives enough of this type of immigrant, how do the polity and the society and the country continue to cohere and to function? Where is the tipping point?

And of course you instantly see here the problem with the American race and gender variants: the race and gender ‘identities’ are not immigrants at all. They claim to be ‘oppressed’ but they are already Americans and Citizens. This presents a problem and challenge far and away beyond anything simple and pure Multiculturalism was designed to deal with.

And, even more than the anarchists of a century and more ago, Gramscian-grounded advocacies are looking from the outside-in at American society and working to undermine it. Surely no country or society can survive if it willingly accepts (let alone if its government cynically or witlessly embraces) huge swaths of persons seeking to undermine the whole show. This constitutes a modern-day replay of the Trojan Horse.

And (3) requires a fractalized and fragmented amalgam or congeries of ‘cultures’ (none of them  willing to accept the categorization of 'sub-cultures' but rather all insisting upon full ‘culture’ status) which can hardly provide the robust sense of commonweal that will enable any country or society to face challenges and maintain coherence.

In that regard, I think (3) reflects the Era of its conception: America in the 1960s seemed to be permanently on top of the world (the signs indicating otherwise were there but not attended to, and there were also the Soviets – those barbarians who were so seductively useful to provide an exo-skeleton for American identity: Who am I? I am not a Commie or a Russkie!).

Thus there were no serious challenges, America had reached the ultimate safe and protected harbor of World Primacy and so the kids could afford to play around. After all, the great Vessel would never again have to face the treacherous and demanding Sea.

Interestingly, Obama (and this is not an attack on him; he just happens to be President just now) has to come up with a way of uniting The People in a common cause of great urgency and yet, after so many decades of (government-enabled) assault on the Common American (and 'Hegemonic') Identity, there is really so little language or imagery or common culture to which he can appeal.


And this opens up another disturbing possibility. Pour qui et pour quoi? This was the 1930s French citizenry’s response to the growing threat of Hitler’s Germany. Having been radically divided by the agitations of the extreme Left (Communist) and the extreme Right (anti-republican), the French public – when asked to prepare for sacrifices to meet the growing threat – simply asked: For whom and for what? For whom and for what do you, the government, ask us to sacrifice and shed blood and sweat? What is there around here that’s worth all that now?

Did you attend a Veterans Day parade, if your locale even had one? What music to play that wouldn’t offend? ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’? Aggressive. ‘Dixie’ is out; ditto Sousa’s marches (the Spanish-American War, the ‘aggressiveness’ of it all). The great Irish-derived cavalry marches like ‘Garry Owen’? It would upset the Native Americans. ‘Yankee Doodle’ or Revolutionary War music? Ditto and ditto and it’s all from some ‘hegemonic’, ‘male’, and aggressive past. Broadway melodies don’t seem in tune with the solemnity of the occasion. The WW1 marches and songs? Nobody knows them now. The WW2 marches (so few of them, except Richard Rodgers’ selections from ‘Victory at Sea’) and songs? Nobody seems to care about them. ‘Oh Susannah’ or songs from the migrations out West? Hokey and aggressive and no doubt offensive.

I’m not particularly aggressive and certainly it doesn’t make my day to contemplate Our current military misadventures or feel that it would all be OK if America could just ‘win’ a nice little war against somebody.

But the songs and marches do (did, rather) provide some sort of celebratory bond while also reminding everyone that huge amounts of blood, toil, tears and sweat went into the building and sustaining of this polity of Ours. And – yes – that it also required tremendous infliction of same upon others.

And that ‘blood, toil, tears, and sweat’ – in glory or gory necessity – seems inevitably built into the business of being a country, if you’re going to stay in business as such.

And that – as Lincoln proclaimed in that first official Thanksgiving Message in the midst of the Civil War – the whole thing would provide a splendid opportunity for feeling profoundly grateful and also taking some time for rather deep and sober reflection on the awful nature of human history. (Let’s not even get into the bits about giving thanks to God.)

What holds American culture together now? Inertia? Reagan tried to recall the 1930s and 1940s (and all the prior past that his favorite movies portrayed). Even in the 1980s he sensed that American Culture was losing its coherence, its skeletal structure. And Jimmy Carter tried to take a higher road and appealed to a sense of American responsibility and maturity, but if that wasn’t ever going to play well to youth-addled and callow modern voters in the 1970s, it certainly wasn’t going to play to voters soused with the first full decade of Gramscian deconstruction in the service of Identity Politics.

What will hold the Vessel together as it must now put back out onto the deep, unforgiving, and treacherous Sea of History, with its storms and the shock of great waves and perhaps the presence of rivals or opponents seeking their own advantage at the expense of our own?

What sort of Culture goes with the (curiously no-longer-touted) Knowledge and Service economy? Does it have any room for “blood, toil, tears and sweat”? If there’s no room for any of that, how robust and realistically Grounded a Culture can it possibly provide?
What then?

What now?

Salins is not unaware of this huge problem. “Behind their unexceptionable blandness, the antithetical cultural pluralist metaphors are profoundly insidious. By suggesting that the product of assimilation is mere ethnic coexistence without integration, they undermine the objectives of assimilation, even if they appear more realistic.”

Yes. For all its short-comings, Assimilation at least realized that somehow there must be some very vital and profound matters around which immigrant and already-American could – and had to – bond.

(And here he isn’t even touching upon the race and gender variants, with their Gramscian determination to do away with the “hegemonic culture” root and branch.)

He proposes a solution.

First, immigrant and already-American cultures must accord each other “legitimacy”.

Second, immigrants must have the “competence” to “function in all the normal American workplaces and settings”.

Third, immigrants “must be encouraged to exercise civic responsibility, minimally by being law-abiding members of American society, respectful of their fellow citizens, and optimally as active participants in the political process”.

Fourth, “and most essential, immigrants must identify themselves as Americans, placing that identification ahead of any associated with their birthplace or ethnic homeland” and already-Americans must be ready to accord them a willing embrace if they do. [italics his]

An excellent proposal.

But I would add that while these ideas work with ‘pure and simple’ Multiculturalism – having to do with immigrants – they run counter to Gramscian praxis in terms of race and especially gender variants of Multiculturalism.  The Gramscian idea is precisely to de-legitimize the “hegemonic culture”, and if you do “participate”, it is only to burrow in where you can more effectively undermine. Nor does Gramscian theory – or its Leninist daddy – have any use or respect for any sort of deliberative democratic process.

So there is a double problem created here: the Gramscian assaultive Project itself, and then the effect it has on immigrants coming to the country who are now given two frakkulently opposite messages: commit to the country and culture but retain your identity in the service of deconstructing it all.

This is not a wise or prudent situation to put immigrants in. And it cannot end well.

An immigrant now is not coming to the America of earlier times; the immigrant now is coming to a culture and society and polity now wracked by long decades of Gramscian assault from within (abetted by the government itself) and on top of that a society that is addled by the financial melt-down and subsequent massive decline in American economic strength and potential.

And the immigrant may well realize that. And realize thus that – especially if from the nearby countries on the Southern borders or just beyond – America at this point is not so much a culture to be embraced as simply a site for making a few bucks. Salins mentions a study of New York City Dominicans who do not see their sojurn here as anything but a temporary money-making gambit, travel frequently back to their homeland, and don’t expect to stay permanently, nor bring their families. This is not the immigration of yore (although many in those days did indeed return permanently to their homelands after they realized that the streets here were not paved with easy gold -curiously, there is more chance of that now if you factor in all the possible entitlements provided by the government).

Nor will it help that the Beltway solution to all this has for decades been to create not new Citizens but fresh client-classes dependent upon public monies (and the Beltway pols) and willing to simply take the King’s orders in order to get the King’s shilling (to use an old phrase).

The real secret of the historical success of American immigration has been, he says, the already-Americans who received the immigrants.

BUT I doubt that can work now. The generations of Americans who were actually committed to a vertebrate and vibrant and efficacious American Identity and Culture have suffered decades of derision and outright ‘deconstruction’, as have that Identity and that Culture. And the young have been raised in some amorphous simulacrum of a national culture and identity that cannot, as I have said, support them against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune soon to come as American Abundance sinks and threatens to pull down American Democracy with it. A 'lifestyle' - even one touted as 'totally autonomous' - is not a culture but merely a costume.

And ditto when Salins posits that “Americans have sustained a civic order and civic ideology that values good citizenship and political participation by all residents”. Such was once the case, but it has not been the case in these parts for a number of decades now. We can’t continue to project from the past into the future a strength that was deconstructed vigorously and deliberately in the recent intervening decades (and that should have been clear even in 1997 when Salins wrote this).

Salins selects, accurately enough, four distinctive characteristics of American society: 1) “the liberal universalist ideas embedded in the U.S. Constitution”; 2) “the universal commitment to an economy based on market capitalism”; 3) “the density and redundancy of organizational life – governmental, political, religious,  social, economic and philanthropic “; and 4) “a persistent, society-wide infatuation with modernity and progress”.

In (1) he runs the risk of confusing classical Liberal with current conceptions of ‘liberal’ and current ‘liberal’ ideas are deeply tainted with all manner of anti-Constitutional and anti-Framing Vision ideas.

In (2) he is to some extent undermined by the recent terrible damage to the economy, although even in 1997 it should have been somewhat obvious that the US economy was more a thing of smoke, mirrors, and bubbles than it was a solid, wealth and Productivity-sustaining enterprise.

In (3) he seems to take insufficient notice of the huge number of non-governmental civic opportunities that were becoming weakened by the lack of participation by Americans who were already using most of their time and energy just to make ends meet, and also by the sustained attacks on those religious enterprises that were not willing, as the government was, to abandon their Original Visions and conform to the New Order. With those subtractions taken into account, there is far less reason for optimism here. American ‘trust’ in ‘intermediary institutions’ has been rather largely undermined (think, for example, of the Catholic Church – which, as he mentions, played a tremendous role in socializing so many generations of immigrants).

In (4) he rightly terms this an American “infatuation”. But what then flows from it is that Americans tend far too easily to presume that ‘change’ is ‘progress’, that ‘old’ is automatically worse than ‘new’, and that you can change and make progress and ‘reform’ without simultaneously losing vital benefits that have been kicked to the curb along with the ‘old’. Although, granted, in the heady if quease-making glitz of the America of the second Clinton Administration – with the fabled party year of 1999 still in the shimmering future – things might still have looked ‘pretty in the sun’.

Maturity, for that matter, - individual, communal, and civic – works to master infatuation, but maturity was – alas – slated for deconstruction.

And I don’t think that the public’s current concerns about immigration can be merely written off as “nativism” redux, as Salins does. There are more than enough reasons to doubt the integrity – if I may – of immigrant purposes in coming here, as well as serious reason to doubt that the country any longer has the jobs to offer both its Citizens and fresh waves of immigrants.

And this point goes directly to the government’s decades-long strategy: not only was the Immigrant raised up as a) yet another fresh potential electoral demographic for a desperate Democratic Party that would also b) provide more warm bodies to fuel the Gramscian assault on the “hegemonic culture” that was the permanent strategy of domestic Identity advocacy.

Because on top of that there was another supposed benefit that large immigration would provide: it would c) provide a fresh pool of laborers who would work far more cheaply and for far less employer-provided benefits than the highly-unionized American workers of the immediate postwar era. So Congress could pander to both Big Identity and Big Money simultaneously.

Yes, that had always been a concern of already-here Americans in the 19th century. But the country then, especially after the Civil War, was industrializing rapidly and continuing to populate the vast center of the continent.

All of that no longer applies now.

After the past 40 years, the country is no longer the developing powerhouse it once was, hungry for fresh laborers and – in Henry Ford’s eminently practical insight – willing to pay good wages to workers who would then buy many of the products (like the Model-T) that  they produced.

While aiding and abetting the Gramscian assault on the culture (which included industrial productivity) the government sort of lost track of the economy, and in trying to hide that lethal reality with more easy credit and fake ‘wealth’, the government ran the whole shebang into a ditch, if not over a cliff.

So you don’t have to be a lumpish ‘nativist’ throw-back to the mid-19th century to have some well-founded doubts about the wisdom of continuing high levels of immigration.

And it is quite possible that some immigrants already realize that. And already realize that the culture itself is now a thing of smoke-and-mirrors like the economy; and that the New Model and New Order culture of postmodern, secularist ‘liberalism’ is not sea-worthy, incapable of being a Vessel that can bear the lives of its people through the increasingly stormy seas of 21st century life and history.

Gamely, Salins has come up with a useful (conceptually, at least) distinction: between Assimilation and Acculturation.

Assimilation denotes the full embrace by the immigrant of the core principles and of the dynamic living spirit of America – which, as he has said, is indispensable.

Acculturation denotes something less and more a thing of surfaces: the embrace of this or that fashion or style or lifestyle. This is not so necessary and may well not be something the immigrant would want to do, nor should have to do – at least totally.

This is a worthwhile insight.

But since the core principles of American culture have themselves become ‘contested’ (as the advocacies like to say) and have been under Gramscian assault for almost half a century now (with government collusion), then it makes it that much harder and more dubious a proposition for the immigrant to embrace them. Why embrace core principles of an America that is no more? Why embrace core principles of an America whose own government and ‘elites’ are busily engaged in ‘deconstructing’?

To a shrewd peasant eye, it may seem rather a rum business to sign-on to a culture that is in the process of deconstructing itself, just as the peasant of an earlier age might well have decided not to book passage on a ship whose officers and crew were busily ripping out the vital hull planking even while it was tied to the pier.

I respect the efforts of decent and competent scholars to draw upon American history and on rational thinking in order to provide some meaty and useful material upon which the Citizenry might deliberate.

But I wonder if it is all too little, too late. Matters have progressed (or re-gressed, or de-gressed) to the point where the similarities with prior eras of America’s remarkable history are outweighed by the sobering differences.

If such is so, though, I would completely agree with Salins that the responsibility lies not with immigrants, but with Americans themselves.


*A review of the book can be found here or you can use your own search engine talents and resources.

**I would point out here that it was precisely this substantial complexity that fueled the Wilson Administration’s rather ruthless and manipulative expansion of government power into the task of suppressing dissent and objections against America’s ultimate entry into that War. There were very significant portions of the public that did not approve of US entry into the war, either because it was a ‘foreign war’ and thus contrary to the original American ideal of remaining aloof from ‘Europe’s wars’ or because particular ethnic elements among now-American immigrants did not want to see the US waging war against the country of their birth or ancestry.

It was here that the 20th century development of government imposition in the service of Shaping and manipulating public opinion or overriding public objections, underwent a tremendous expansion.

Nor, alas, did it help that Marxist-Leninist and Gramscian ideas were also starting to circulate, emanating from Europe and Russia and coming here, where they blended with the Progressives’ home-grown ‘elitism’ (only those who ‘know’ should run things, and those who ‘know’ must help all of those who don’t-yet-know – who should be grateful for the education).

The whole brew was the fount and foundation for a) 1960s-1970s American government imposition upon culture and for b) the still-current variation of the Progressivist and Leninist war-cry:  against those who ‘just don’t get it’.

***I would also add that the Framers could also quietly rely on the fact that just about all Americans believed in some version of the Judeo-Christian God, thus introducing a transcendent Beyond as an additional strengthening factor in the construction.

And given that the great religions of the Axial Age and even the Eastern philosophies seem at their core to embrace the same unifying ethical vision, then such transcendence and unity remain potentially available today.


For that matter, let me offer this thought: It has become fashionable to lubricate the gyrations of the past 40 years by insisting, as do the university literature departments where so much of this Theory officially resides, that the Constitution should be approached just like any work of fiction. That is to say, while the author had a point or points to make, the reader – even centuries later – may consider his/her own take on the work to override the author’s intentions. This approach has had vast consequences in political thought and legal praxis here over the past few decades.

But suppose that one looks at the Constitution not as a work of fiction but as an instruction-manual or an owner’s manual. Just how much weight do you then want to give to the ‘subjective’ thoughts, feelings, responses, and musings ginned up by this or that reader?

Would you really want to trust a contractor who tells you that while the blueprints are clear, he sorta feels it would be groovy to try something else? Would you want to fly an airline whose maintenance crews treated the manufacturer’s manuals as merely ‘texts’ about which the mechanic, as reader, might agree with or disagree with? How ‘creative’ do you want your airline mechanics to get with the ‘text’ of the maintenance and repair manuals? How much does the mechanics’ ‘subjectivity’ enter into it?


I can’t emphasize enough just how lethally toxic and anti-democratic the Gramscian gameplan – that constitutes much of the core of the current American (radical) feminist agenda – really is. This is not something that the relevant organized Advocacies and the ‘liberal’ elites and the pols who embraced them care to think about. Nor would they like to have anybody else thinking about it either.

But if you have ever encountered the term ‘hegemonic’ then you have encountered one of Gramsci’s core concepts, and he built a rather comprehensive gameplan around the task of “de-legitimizing” any such culture.

As I have said, he was working in the service of the Marxist-Leninist agenda – seeking to undermine the ‘hegemonic’ aristocratic or capitalist or bourgeois target-culture in order to replace it with the ‘culture of the proletariat’ or the ‘culture of the masses’, which of course worked out to mean for all practical purposes the ‘culture’ and the agenda of the Marxist-Leninists and – not to put too fine a point on it – the Communists.

But since ‘the masses’ were probably too habitualized to being on the bottom, they couldn’t be relied upon to initiate their own liberation. Therefore the vanguard elite cadres of the Party would have to do it for them.

In the 1960s here, ‘the working classes’ and ‘the proletariat’ and ‘the masses’ were simply replaced with ‘women’ in the tracts that flooded the country, enabled by a stunningly receptive political class, media, and intelligentsia – all the (grotesquely misnamed) ‘liberal elites’, as they now prefer to be thought of.

Anytime you run across such thoughts as ‘oppression by a hegemonic culture’; or about how even the oppressed ‘just don’t get it’ because they have for so long (perhaps, in the case of ‘women’ going back to the beginning of recorded human history) been subordinated by the (necessarily) demonic and lumpish male, violent, aggressive, logocentric, rational ‘patriarchy’; or that ‘majority’ politics won’t work because the minority have been so oppressed that they can’t even exercise or claim their rights to liberation from their oppression … any time you run across any of that you are in Gramsci’s Universe. Which, as you may imagine, is hell and gone from the Framing Vision, the American legal and cultural Universe, and – not to put too fine a point on it – ‘deliberative democratic process’ and the Constitution.

So even before you start thinking about the Content of this or that particular demand, you have to give urgent and serious consideration to the Method by which these entire Agendas and Gameplans are being and have been erected in the nation’s Culture: by imposition, and by people who – whether they know it or not, whether they care to think about it or not, whether they care for you to be thinking about it or not – are soused with the Gramscian presumption that most people – oppressed as well as oppressors – ‘just don’t get it’ … and need to be made to ‘get it’.

There is indeed a Gramscian ‘struggle’ in what have been popularly (and, you can see, not inaccurately) named ‘culture wars’ here: it most certainly is a war, and one that is working off a long-term but very clear agenda: to eradicate the ‘old and oppressive’ culture and tradition and impose  the New Order Agenda in their stead, with whatever ‘culture’ goes with that. And have you ever really looked at Soviet ‘culture’ as it existed on the ground when that demon was still enfleshed in the body of a captive state (the old USSR)?

I offer these links here, here, and here, if you want to get some grasp of Gramsci’s own thought and what it means for the American cultural (and legal and political) Universe.

So before becoming entranced like a master-magician’s audience by the distractions of the (real enough) problems and issues which the Advocacies and their elected enablers wave before the Citizenry like the matador’s cape (that hides the sword from the bull’s attention), look at the Method by which those Advocacies have chosen to achieve their ‘solutions’.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011


I want to take a quick break from my mini-series on Terry Eagleton to discuss an article* about Justice William Brennan, supporting his stature as a “liberal champion”.

The comments made by the author, Justin Driver, give so clear and succinct a statement of Brennan’s approach that I consider them to be of great value to any clear-eyed assessment of how Things have gotten to their current condition in this country.

The author takes a swipe at ‘conservatives’ who have tried to paint Brennan as what could be called a ‘deliberate, scheming and manipulative judicial activist’ (my phrasing). As early as 1984, he notes, an article described Brennan as being “among the purest of the result-oriented judges who first determine how they want a decision to come out (the ‘fundamental fairness standard’) and then go about trying to find a legal justification” for what they have already decided.

Another author is mentioned for having observed in 1988 Brennan’s “penchant for identifying his personal predilections with constitutional dogma”.

Driver wants to support the spin that Brennan was a key and genuine “liberal champion”. I think Driver is indeed correct, but that what he demonstrates in his review establishes clearly just how frakkulent a championship that has played out to be for the country (or, in the inimitable words of Chester A. Riley: “What a revoltin’ development dis toined out ta be!”).

Amazingly, Brennan indeed had once nobly asserted (in the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan) that “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open … it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials”. Well said! It is the indispensable function of a genuinely deliberative public democracy; the process by which Citizens deliberate and sift and analyze together in considering matters of great import to the common-weal.

But surely this classically Liberal (not to be confused with the contemporary ‘liberal’) principle has been hugely undermined, and was  undermined from Brennan’s own Left before it was taken over by the Right. Before Bush-era public officials were shielded from ‘protest’ or even un-approving remarks in public appearances, a broad and sweeping kaibosh – regulatory and statutory – was put on speech that was ‘offensive’, ‘hurtful’, ‘hateful’, ‘insensitive’ to this or that favored demographic. As so often in recent American political history, a seemingly ‘liberal’ principle unthinkingly embraced by pols and bureaucrats in the service of their ‘liberal’ agenda then – and hardly unpredictably – compounded their potential for frakkery when adopted by the Right.

By which time the mainstream media had become so desperate to remain viable and influential that they simply parroted the press releases of whomever threw some ‘access’ their way, refusing to analyze for fear that their analysis might offend current or potential future ‘access’ to the history-makers.

Which resulted , I would say, in the American public becoming used to believing, with the Red Queen, “as many as six impossible things before breakfast”, day after day after month after year after decade.

Until now the point has been reached where a substantial chunk of the vital Citizenry – supposed to be the governors of the government in the Framing Vision – are hard-pressed not only to distinguish fantasy and fraud from reality, but also even to muster the competence to think as to how they might go about that vital Kicking-of-Tire and analysis and individual and then mutual deliberation.

If ‘mass politics’ weren’t challenging enough, Identity-Politics and its emotional, anti-rational or manipulatively fake-rational agitprop in the service of achieving the ‘deals’ necessary to impose its demands has provided the second and even more lethal prong of a double-whammy against genuine democratic process.

But it is toward the very end of the article that Driver really gets to the heart of the Brennan-legacy matter (all of the remainder of this Post is based on the last two columns on the last page of the article, page 39).

Brennan, he says, “was a crucial part of the coalition that extended Brown’s [i.e., Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case decided against the Topeka, KS board of education] fundamental principle over the ensuing three decades”.

I pause for a moment to recall a point I have made before on this site: the adoption of the legal thinking specific to civil-rights cases of the 1950s sparked the adoption of the entire civil-rights ‘script’ and ‘scenario’ as an implied (and – vitally – publicly unquestionable or unchallengeable) template or paradigm by later ‘advocacies’ and ‘revolutions’ in the 1960s and 1970s.

This was a hugely fraught gambit, gravid with ill-consequence, both as to the Content of the idea and as to the Method by which it was insinuated into American political life.

The Content of this ‘adoption’ gambit was largely inaccurate to begin with. The ‘Negroes’ of the Jim Crow South were deliberately and consciously restrained from the exercise of basic political rights guaranteed by the Constitution and by the immediate post-Civil War Amendments as a matter of purposeful State policy by the Southern States collectively if informally known as the Jim Crow South.

This state of affairs was repugnant to the national ideals (as even slavery had been) and as soon as the mid-1950s televised examples of Jim Crow dynamics in action had flashed across the country, a general public antipathy to such a condition quickly manifested itself in favor of the suppression of the already clearly illegal and unconstitutional Jim Crow regime.

But after the corrective steps taken by the Court and the Congress up to and including the Brown case of 1954 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there was A) a very legitimate question of just how much farther government action could go without deranging – or certainly un-balancing – the essential American principles of government and democratic political process.

Because B) in no other part of the country did there exist so clearly and provably illegal and unconstitutional a system as the Jim Crow regime as it was enforced by the States of the South.

Further government action – in regard to the black population let alone any follow-on Identity or Identities – was going to be doubly fraught: i) there was no such overt illegality anywhere else in the country, and thus ii) there was no such clear and strong public consensus either on the nature of any further problems/complaints or on the most suitable and workable way of addressing such problems/complaints.

The Jim-Crow era template thus inaccurately portrayed the situation in the rest of the country and therefore its further deployment would enjoy no such easy and sure public consensus.

Thus the Content of the “further extension” of the Brown principle was going to be lethally weakened by both the inaccuracy of its purported assertions or implications about further situations in other parts of the country.

And then the Method of implementing any such “further extension” was going to have to either advance through a long slow process of public deliberation and consensus-building or else it would have to be imposed by the national government. Which would be on its face a profoundly dangerous dynamic to set loose, the deployment of which was easily justified against the States of the Jim Crow South only because their regime was and had for almost a century been clearly and overtly and deliberately noncompliant with clear and vital and fundamental Constitutional provisions.

But absent that overt Constitutional noncompliance on the part of State governments, this gambit would wind up being an exercise in government-by-imposition that could not avoid side-stepping or undermining genuine democratic, broad-based deliberative process conducted by the Citizens as well as their elected representatives.

In no other part of the country was there such a State-administered un-Constitutional regime, and of a regional scope encompassing a number of States. There may have been – as there would soon be – the possibility for further complaints seeking redress in other parts of the country for other less-clear problems, but those would, ideally and necessarily, require a broad and deep national discussion in order to build a consensus: such ‘problems’ and ‘complaints’ were neither clearly visible nor instantly acceptable to the reasonable Citizen … this would not be wise ground for a forceful imposition of government force as had been deployed against the Jim Crow South.

So it is stunning to read Driver as he then asserts that the Brown principle which Brennan helped “further extend” insisted “that the judiciary plays a vital role in ensuring the American experiment in democracy functions in a manner that does not appear incompatible with modern constitutional understandings”.

That is precisely what was not happening.

Because by deliberately mis-applying the Jim Crow template to numerous successive ‘revolutions’ – the second and Northern urban phase of civil-rights in the post-1965 era, the torturous bureaucratic imposition of wide-spread affirmative action, the ‘gender revolution’ in almost all of its manifestations, and further successive revolutions – Brennan’s efforts resulted in the Judiciary taking the lead in justifying, indeed requiring,  the government’s imposition of itself upon the entire national culture the same way that it had – i.e. quickly and with the full force of broad and sustained federal imposition – in the almost historically unique and anomalous Jim Crow situation.

And since the issues for which the government claimed the warrant for such profound and forceful imposition precisely did not enjoy the wide public consensus that had existed in the matter of Jim Crow, then the government precisely had to deploy itself anti-democratically.

And you notice here in Driver’s statement the crapulent concept of “appearance”. As in ‘not-substance’ or ‘not-substantial’. The whole thing was a matter of spinning your ‘reform’ so as to at least maintain the appearance of compatibility with, I would have to point out, not mere “understandings” but instead with very fundamental constitutional principles.

This is a poisoned font of ‘appearance politics’: it’s all on the level if you just hold your head the right way. This is no way to run a railroad, and – as is now becoming clear with ineluctable and rock-solid stubbornness – the trains don't run on time around here anymore.  
It was here that an anti-democratic ‘elitism’ of Correctness took root in the Beltway, far surpassing what the elitist Progressives of the Prohibition era had sought to achieve (with such shocking counterproductive consequences) half a century before. **

And Driver knows this, and doesn’t want to admit it. Which is why his intended crowning encomium to Brennan fizzles in such a clunky and vague way: “in ensuring that the American experiment in democracy functions in a manner that does not appear incompatible with modern constitutional understandings”.

What Driver is slyly seeking to avoid here is that those “modern constitutional understandings” essentially saw the Constitutional principles (and the Framing Vision) as “quaint” and no longer relevant, in the face of the numerous ‘emergencies of outrage and rights’ that the Dems sought to mollify with an increasing and intensifying deployment of federal imposition upon a Citizenry that ‘just didn’t get it’ and therefore needn’t be consulted in the first place.

Thus Brennan’s project (to ensure that what could not easily be achieved through democratic process could be imposed by government fiat lubricated by judicial declarations) and Driver’s project (to make this all seem the epitome of democratic process) were and continue to be profoundly dishonest.

And gravid with counterproductive consequences beside which the shocking results of Prohibition pale in comparison.

Nor is any of this ascribable merely to a winsome American impatience to accomplish good and great things. The ‘revolutionary’ potential and elements in the post-1965 agitations – which should never have been allowed to infect genuine democratic processes of consensus-building and deliberation and public debate – were instead ‘valorized’ by the Dems precisely because in 1972, when the now demographically desperate Dems rolled out their ‘new model’ Party Vision in the presidential election, they were given one of the soundest public rejections in American political history, losing the election 49 states to one (Massachusetts, home turf of Teddy Kennedy).***

It was at that point that the fundamentally anti-democratic ‘revolutionary’ wing of the assorted ‘advocacies’ of the new Identities – led by a radical feminism soused with Leninist and Maoist theory directly or as interpreted by a platoon of European tiersmondiste thinkers who rejected all Western ideas and democratic processes  – were brought to the fore in the Dems’ now urgent effort to fig-leaf their pandering to their newly ‘valorized’ and freshly- constructed demographics.

And from this flowed the truly anti-democratic Beltway embrace of the rejection of the nation’s vast and long-embraced ‘bourgeois’ or ‘middle/working class’ culture and – as can now be so frightfully seen – the industrial and economic Productivity and the civic culture of the commonweal that that culture had long sustained.

Brennan was indeed instrumental in seeing to it that the Supreme Court and the Judiciary played a major (and in the absence of democratic consent, a necessary) role in accomplishing this treacherous frakkery.

Driver calls this “animating theme” of Brennan’s “living constitutionalism”. Which is in many respects a code phrase that boils down to the arrogant assertion that the Constitution and the Framing Vision were “quaint” and no longer worthy of respect when compared to the fever-swamp illuminations of the radicalized Identity advocacies now animated by the awareness that the Dems were ready to put the entire resources of the Beltway (and the nation) at their disposal and engorged with the many-multipled hundreds of billions in public monies that the Dems were prepared to shower upon their dampdreams.

Nor am I here implying a valentine to “originalism”, the counter-theory ignited by the Left’s chicanery.

What neither Leftist nor Rightist cared to imagine was a genuine democratic Constitutionalism whereby the Citizenry – The People – would be given the time and accurate information to conduct a broad and deep process of public deliberation and the building of a consensus.

The Dems had seen in the election of 1972 that they had nothing to gain from that and so much to lose for themselves, and thus treated The People as a donkey that ‘just doesn’t get it’.

And in a hardly-unpredictable parallel illumination, the Republicans saw that corporate power would – as it always had – be highly amenable to a donkey-citizenry rather than a robust and assertive (and unionized) People whose governance of the government was far too inhospitable and unpredictable to suit the schedules and schemes of great and powerful interests.

For both sides, it was easier to buy a few pols rather than to convince a great People. Thus The People had to go: and this not being Stalin’s or Mao’s geographic turf (and since The People were given a major role in the Framing Vision of democracy) The People would be weakened in numerous ways and deliberately confused and misinformed, assigned thus in the great National Adventure the role of the cattle-herds in a B-movie Western, useful only for fodder or for stampeding on cue.

And here We are.

Driver continues along his chosen path: “Brennan did not suggest that the original understanding played no role in constitutional interpretation; he contended instead that its role is necessarily a limited one”, which Brennan slyly spun thus: “We current Justices read the Constitution in the only way that we can – as 20th-century Americans”.

BUT that phrase “20th-century Americans” was itself code for what I would say is better put as ‘we post-1972 liberals who reely reely need more conceptual space to get what we want right now’.

Originalism’s enterprise, in Driver’s accurate phrase, was “quixotic” (immediate ancestor of the mid-00’s declaration that the Constitution is “quaint”). That is somewhat true.

But it is also beside the point. What was fundamentally and vitally at issue was whether genuine democratic political process as envisioned at the Framing was going to be allowed to remain vital, or whether it would be kicked to the curb in favor of the treacherously unholy, Frankenstein blend of homegrown Progressive ‘elitism’ and Leninist-Maoist revolutionary cadre ‘vanguard elitism’.

It is this truly awful and awe-full treachery that will come to be seen as the hallmark political development of the past Biblical 40 years, when historians come to conduct a postmortem.

Historically speaking, this watershed mistake – or treachery – is ‘visible from space’, and it will be the sad wonder of future generations that this Age failed to see it for what it was all along.****

Driver continues with Brennan’s burbling: “The ultimate question must be: what do the words of the text mean in our time?” BUT of course, that is not nor ever was the ultimate question.

Rather, the ultimate question is and was and always will be not one of words but rather: what role does genuine democratic process play in the Shaping and sustaining of American culture and society, and of the American polity itself?

Brennan piously continues to declaim: “For the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs”.

Very nice. But, alas, Phooey. Phooey and baloney.

In the first place, because the “genius of the Constitution” rested solidly upon the Framing Vision of an active and deliberative People governing the government. Like a vaudeville magic-act, Brennan – and he is hardly alone in this – distracts attention from the real action and displaces it onto a secondary McGuffin (Hitchcock’s favorite concept). Because it is not primarily a matter of the text of the Constitution (although that is indeed vital), but rather of the role of The People in determining just where matters of profound national interest are going to go.

In the second place, because while the world of the 18th century is indeed “dead and gone” , which is an eery echo of  that favorite radical-feminist cackle “It’s not your grandfather’s … (fill in the blank: Constitution, society, culture, military, economy, Productivity, or what-have-you)”, yet if the Framing Vision of the role of The People is also “quaint” and deserves to be kicked to the curb because that Vision itself is dead and gone and because  that Vision ‘just doesn’t get it’, then what are the prospects for sustaining the “American experiment in democracy” that Driver and Brennan so piously praise?

In the third place, because the “principles” mean squat if the soil provided by the Framing Vision is poisoned. You can’t expect to grow world-class prize-winning roses if the soil in your garden has been lethally contaminated.

And in the fourth place, “current problems and current needs” is treacherous verbiage on so many levels. It is code for the current problems and needs of the Democrats in 1972 and ever since; it veers perilously close to the rejection of the genuine dynamics expressed by those verbal principles whenever enough emotion (or behind-the-scenes power and skullduggery) are marshaled to neutralize those dynamics. It is the dynamics themselves, and not their subsequent verbal formulation in ‘principles’, which are the indispensable life-sustaining fonts of the American Experiment and the Shape of this polity as a democratic and Constitutional Republic.

Is this ‘news’?

Thus again, to squeak praises of Brennan’s “robust defense of the law’s evolution” is utterly beside the point. A law that is changing because its core dynamics have been and are being undermined is not e-volving, it is de-volving (and I mean that in the worst sense of the word).

Thus ditto when Driver bravely praises Brennan’s embrace of the idea that “courts have a creative job to do when they find that a rule has lost its touch with reality and should be abandoned or reformulated to meet new conditions and new moral values”.

Once again, Phooey and Baloney. This is nothing more than the old vaudeville magician distraction at work.

In the first place, because what is at issue here is not a ‘rule’ (should there still be a one-way on Washington Avenue now that it’s become a major shopping artery?) but the very fundaments of democratic process and the Shape of the culture, the society, and the polity itself.

In the second place, because a great deal rests on just what you define as “reality”.

In the third place, because a very careful and gimlet-eyed assessment has to be made as to just what is involved in the definition and demands of “new conditions” and – good grief! – “new moral values”.  This is profoundly vital and complex ground here – you don’t approach it with the breezy and cocky arrogance of a Boomer cutting classes to burn down the ROTC building.*****

And in the fourth place, what is really being conducted here is not ‘creative’ but de-creative process (‘destructive’ might seem a bit much rhetorically, although not factually – perhaps ‘deconstructive’ is apropos). Thus Brennan commits the Judiciary to a de-creative or deconstructive role, and on a lethally profound level. (And matters are not helped when his excesses ignite a counter-excess against his efforts, which simply reduces the Judiciary to an ongoing Punch-and-Judy show of whack and counter-whack.)

And in the fifth place, because if such huge challenges were truly afoot, then why not let The People deliberate upon such momentous (and potentially lethal) matters? And surely, if it is suggested that The People wouldn't agree with the liberals' 'solutions', then that fact alone should have given pause to any responsible major public figure. (But of course, the come-back prepared to cover that little problem was that The People ‘just didn’t get it’ – Brennan secured his place in American history by playing to that ominous peanut gallery with all the force and ingenuity  his personal kazoo could muster.)

Rather amazingly, Driver admits that “today’s mainstream legal liberals would blanch in the face of such language … judicial creativity is out, judicial modesty is in”.

But of course. Unless you are prepared to establish the revolution by overt coup d’etat like Lenin, then you need to wrap your schemes in the cutesy and familiar swaddling clothes of more familiar concepts that won’t spook the herd when the script doesn’t call for a stampede. And nowadays ‘legal liberals’ would very much not like to be seen as ‘revolutionaries’ but would rather enjoy their golden years as the great wizards and wizardesses (‘witches’ doesn’t quite capture it here) of deep and serious and responsible legal wisdom. ******

But it’s all phooey and baloney.

At the heart of this entire scheme, to repeat, was not a matter of ‘creativity’ or ‘modesty’ but of outright usurpation of the role of The People and the undermining of genuine (and indispensable) democratic civic process in a gimlet-eyed determination to impose the New and the Good upon herds of lumpen-folk who ‘just didn’t get it’ (and – even more treacherously – probably wouldn’t decide in favor of it if they were given the chance, as they were – for what proved to be the last time – in the presidential election of 1972).

Now the agents of the revolution, mimicking the Soviet nomenklatura of the post-Stalinist age, would like to be seen as thoroughly respectable and mainstream. Phooey and baloney again. No more slouch caps and trench-coats and shifty, knowing glances among themselves. Now it’s expensive suits and dresses and shoes, tasteful homes, power-phones and personal communication devices, and a secure spot in the contact-lists of all departments of ‘The New York Times’.  Feh.

Driver sounds an alarm. “More importantly”, such modern day legal liberals “may distance themselves from the Justice who has been most prominently associated with living constitutionalism”.

And so what? The damage has already been done. If anything, the public – or what’s left of it – might want to consider the old Medieval Catholic gambit of digging up the body and putting it on trial, just to make a point and air the true facts of what the body’s now-departed inhabitant had actually done when he was resident therein.

Driver sighs that nowadays “it would be difficult to imagine judicial nominees citing Brennan as an intellectual influence”. But of course.

In the first place, nobody wants to be seen as revealing the raw tooth-and-claw revolutionary origins of so much that now passes for legal Wisdom.

And in the second place, the failures and consequences and perhaps even the core treacheries of the revolution are becoming increasingly too clear to spin away with pious burbling or manic praise. Not even the ‘Times’ can spin it all away now, although its efforts to keep up appearances almost rival the heroic efforts of Pravda and Izvestia towards the end as the whole monstrous Thing started to reveal its true nature like the final scenes in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.

And then Driver starts pulling out all the stops as he swings into his peroration. “The disembodied quality of Brennan’s legacy is regrettable because he, along with his allies, brought about some of the nation’s most treasured decisions in constitutional law”.

Curious – no? – that the accomplishments of such a declared paragon are yet  only so vaguely adverted to by his follow-on cadres. While all of them want to admit off-the-record that he was an important figure, yet nobody really wants to be caught on-the-record describing what those accomplishments might actually be. Sort of like Stalin. And at least Mussolini can be remembered by die-hard admirers for having made the trains run on time (and for having sent in the army to eradicate the Mafia – though, alas, re-introduced by the Allies courtesy of J. Edgar Hoover’s ‘Italian-American contacts’ in 1943).

But then, Driver gives the game away – bless him. “Brennan “helped to broaden the prevailing conception of the judiciary’s ability to address inequalities that resist political remedy”. [italics mine]

In other words, if The People can’t be trusted to do what elites want to see done, then the answer was not and is not to see what The People really think (why do that when The People ‘just don’t get it’?).

No. Instead you do an end-run around The People and get the judiciary to fluff their sober robes and get the job done that way. (In Gilbert & Sullivan’s phrasing, the corrupt old judge brazenly sings “It was managed by a job – and a good job too!”) Nor is it irrelevant that Brennan served as a military lawyer in WW2: in there he would have learned the military’s approach to law, which is: the Command Authority knows best, and the only Outcome of any ‘trial’ is going to be the one that Authority wants, and the military is not a democracy. Not the best experience for a highly susceptible and ambitious elitist looking to apply the law to a nation full of Citizens who ‘just don’t get it’.
And then, trying in conclusion to justify what he has just described, Driver nails the lid down on himself, Brennan, and the whole liberal legal aristocracy: “It is Brennan’s implicit resolution of the fundamental paradox of constitutional law that decisions contravening majority preference can nevertheless be democratizing”.

Good frakking grief. This isn’t a paradox; this was and is a treacherous abandonment of the Framing Vision and an even more treacherous betrayal of The People in order to accomplish a politically convenient agenda that you want to impose no matter what the cost.

This was no resolution. No more than it is a ‘resolution’ to throw somebody into deep water but then insist that he isn’t wet (and perhaps also drowning). This isn’t the resolution of a paradox (which by definition isn’t resolvable in the first place); it is the treacherous use of language to deny the reality of what you have done.

It should be a maxim of The People: beware of those who come bearing ‘solutions’ to paradoxes.

This was a solution of achieving an illicit agenda by simply undermining the constrictions that were holding you back. Precisely the gambit of any gangster or criminal who gets what s/he wants simply by removing the constrictions of law (or ‘morality’) from the calculations and forging ahead.

The People and the Framing Vision were in the way, so you just write them off (after all, they ‘just don’t get it’ anyway) and do whatever it takes to achieve the purposes you seek. This is a pretty good example of the dynamics of committing a crime.

Some Justice. Some Justice.


*Online access to this article is blocked by a paywall; access is for ‘The New Republic’ subscribers only. However the article originally appeared in the print edition of that magazine, in the February 17, 2011 issue, pages 36-9. It is entitled “Robust and Wide-Open” and its author is Justin Driver, who is reviewing a book about Brennan entitled “Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion”, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel. I shall deal with Driver’s comments in his review, and not the text of the book itself.

**I can heartily recommend Michael Okrent’s recent book “Last Call”, a splendid legal, political, social and cultural history of Prohibition, premised on the candid and vital question: “How the hell did it happen?”. Ken Burns has also released his own fine video history of Prohibition, shown on PBS.

***Nor am I here implying an encomium to Richard Nixon. But I will point out that in light of what We now know of LBJ’s treachery (trying to use the highly dubious August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin ‘incident’ as a new Pearl Harbor to lubricate the rush into the Vietnam War; suppressing any US Navy defensive response to the ruthless and unprecedented June 1967 attack on the USS Liberty and the machine-gunning of its wounded sailors in lifeboats by naval and air units of the Israeli realm and then instructing the high-ranking Navy lawyers to ensure that the subsequent inquiry did not "embarrass our Israeli ‘frens’" (who do not have and never have had and have constantly avoided signing any treaty of alliance with the US); and allowing American supplies of fissile nuclear material to become ‘lost’ and end up in Israel, thus reversing Eisenhower’s and especially JFK’s adamant rejection of Israel’s efforts to become a nuclear-armed power and consequently introducing nuclear weapons into the frakkulent Middle Eastern situation) … compared to all of this, Nixon’s shady skullduggery in breaking into the Watergate offices in June 1972 (a gambit that had been tried in the Nixon-Kennedy election campaign of 1960 to get demonstrable proof that Kennedy had serious medical problems) assumes the proportions of almost garden-variety political shenanigans.

****I can’t help relating this choice bit. In the very early 1930s, realizing that the Prohibition strongly embraced by Progressive elites, fundamentalist religious elements, and the hugely engorged organized crime bosses (all “sisters under the skin”, in Kipling’s fine and vivid phrase) was in danger of being repealed, Alphonse Capone, that noted Chicago entrepreneur, began investigating diversification of his interests. In addition to expanding into dry-cleaning inter alia, Mr. Capone stumbled upon milk – which, he discovered to his amazement, enjoyed a higher mark-up than bootleg liquor. “We’ve been in the wrong racket all along!” he exclaimed to his associates and underlings around the mahogany table.

I envision the same type of meetings being held in various tax-funded mahogany meeting rooms around the Beltway after 1972. And the same exclamation being made about genuine democratic process.

And while repeal of Prohibition probably saved the American dairy-cow herds from a rather unpleasant ‘organization’, yet no such happy outcome has materialized for The People, who have been ‘organized’ (Hitler’s favorite phrase was Gleichschaltung – brought into conformity) into those B-Western cattle herds that inhabit the background of the real action of the plot.

*****And thus let me here refine a thought I have often expressed on this site: while the Boomers provided the fuel and generated the emotional waves, it was an older generation then in power that sought to surf those tricky waves generated by Boomer enthusiasm that spear-headed the whackulence of the past 40 Biblical years.

******I think it was the historical novelist Caleb Crain, a few decades ago – but I might be remembering the source incorrectly – who noted in one of his New-York-in-the-1880s books that one effect of the Comstock Laws of that era, which greatly prohibited brothels, was to drive the very wealthy madams who ran the brothels out of New York City proper. Whence they promptly decamped to Long Island where they became the establishing generation of a number of 20th century respectable Long Island fortunes and families of great social stature. One is reminded of Balzac's observation that "behind every great fortune there is a crime".


In personal conversation with a reader I received a few thoughts about this Post and a couple more ideas flow from that encounter.

To the possibility that the ideas in my Post merely mask a harrumph (or worse) regarding all the ‘progress’ of the past 40 years, I would respond as follows.

It is a matter of which end of the telescope you are looking through. What I am saying is that from the get-go the post-1965 ‘liberal’ revolution was lethally and probably fatally flawed because of its Method.

As evidenced in Driver’s final comments about using the courts because there was no acceptable (to the Democrats) ‘solution’ to the problem of quickly effecting the changes to the national culture and society that were necessary to woo their suddenly-created Identities and their advocacies: the Citizenry were not going to accept all of that quickly and without reservation, so the democratic political process had to be sidestepped.

To do that the later-60s Black-Power revolutionaries’ violent and in-your-face rejection of democratic process was too obvious and heavy-handed.

However the radical-feminist advocacies had almost overnight shrewdly amassed piles and piles of ‘philosophical thinking’ which they got primarily by taking Marxist and Leninist writing (there are literally tons of the stuff) and more or less simply substituting ‘women’ for ‘proletariat’ – providing an instant corpus, consisting of thousands of closely-printed if turgid pages of ready-made ‘justifications’, for doing here precisely what Lenin had always insisted on doing: avoiding ‘reform’ and ‘democracy’ and going straight for an imposed revolution by the ‘vanguard elites’ who were the only ones who really did ‘get it’. (See Addendum 2 below.)

Ditto the tiersmondiste thinkers – French but also German and Central European – of the immediate postwar era who had either had a bellyful of totalitarian and government-heavy thinking and wanted to undermine all government and traditional public authority (this would work marvelously for undermining American culture and tradition) or else wanted to bypass government and simply reject all ‘established’ authority and ‘hierarchy’ and 'tradition' and 'common sense' (which would work marvelously toward ‘deconstructing’ anything ‘established’ – by, of course, the utterly evil and useless dead white European males and sustained by the lumpen-herds of those who ‘just don’t get it’).

I am saying that before even considering the Content of the various demands that the advocacies made under this pretextual smokescreen in the late 1960s and 1970s, it was the very Method of profoundly and deliberately anti-democratic process that was the fatal bug built into the very foundations of the whole gambit. And that it is this plague-bug which is now metastasized throughout the nation’s entire political system.

And thus of course the Democrats committed themselves and the Beltway (the Republicans soon saw how it could work for their own favored constituencies and so the frak became ‘bipartisan’ by the mid-1970s) and the country to a profoundly anti-democratic dynamic. (Ironically, by the time the actual original embodiment of Marxist-Leninist thought, the USSR, collapsed in 1991, the anti-democratic dynamics at the dark beating heart of the Thing were already well-established in the Beltway. Funny how the deep-political night moves.)

As an aside, I can’t see how the Democrats can now provide a political home for both the radical Identity-Politics ‘bases’ – whose elites helped introduce the plague of anti-democratic process into the nation’s political bloodstream and rely on its continuation for their own ‘success’ – and the populist desire for an end to ‘big government’ or, as the more refined thinking among them goes, a government engorged wayyyy beyond its proper boundaries.

My take on that is that you can expand the government’s scope as much as you think is necessary, so long as the utterly indispensable and uniquely American Framing Vision is respected: i.e. The People absolutely must have their full say in what is going to happen, and that consensus (rather than any non-smoking, smoke-filled room ‘deals’ among the ‘players’ at the Beltway tables) must be given utter and absolute primacy.

The People are the governors of the government, not its lumpen, wayward, helpless, victim-prone, passive ‘children’; nor is the President their ‘commander-in-chief’ ... he is their damned employee and if any folks need an idol or a walking-talking official teddy-bear then they can go to the dealer’s and buy one, but they cannot remain faithful and responsible to their responsibilities as Citizens by turning the Executive into one.

This of course is now and always has been gall and wormwood to both the Left ‘vanguard elites’ and the Right corporate elites and the Fox-or-Jeezuzz-addled patriotistic flag-wavers; and the pols are now so indentured (permit me to intensify that: enwhored) to these elites and 'bases' of both Left and Right that it seems greatly uncertain whether the sitting political class is capable of restoring the primacy of The People at all.

It is in this context that I view Brennan’s efforts and Driver’s remarkably useful revelation of Correct thinking: the courts must do whatever must be done when the elites’ desired agendas “resist political remedy”, i.e. when The People aren’t largely convinced that the agendas are good for the commonweal or at least can’t all be introduced in one quick sweep of terra-forming government imposition that will probably derange if not destabilize the entire foundational and under-pinning structures of culture and society.

Brennan’s efforts did not help ‘politicize’ the Court and the entire Judiciary – that is too mild and actually distracting a word.

Rather, Brennan’s efforts committed the Court and the entire Judiciary to collaboration with the treacherous anti-democratic dynamics that had been set loose by the pandering Legislative and Executive Branches, against which ideally the Judiciary would have been the last firewall, committed to retaining the integrity of the Framing Vision’s absolute insistence upon the dynamics of genuine democratic process.

That is his legacy, and that will be the most lasting legacy of post-1965 ‘liberalism’ in regard to the Great American Experiment: they undermined its fundamental dynamics, like a collection of Sorcerer’s Apprentices who unleash all Hell, and worse – a Hell from which the Framing Vision had most carefully and strenuously raised the country at its very inception.

If this doesn’t rise through callow and arrogant imbecility to actual treachery and infamy, I don’t know what does.

I offer this entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in regard to feminist political theory to indicate just to what extent most feminist philosophical thinking is opposed to “deliberative democratic process” in way or another, for one reason or another.

Whether that thinking embraces a “Maternal” approach (modeled on Carol Gilligan’s idea of Mommy At the Breakfast Table, with government being the Mommy and the Citizenry being the squalling kiddies) or an oppositional approach of one kind or another (that doesn’t trust deliberative democracy to provide the desired outcomes for feminist theory), the point is that the dynamics of deliberative democratic process are not and have not ever been well-received by the feminist agenda which – as I have said in the essay – was embraced by the Dems after 1972 and by the Republicans later in the decade for their own purposes.

I also offer this link from Wiki in regard to Antonio Gramsci, the early-20th century Italian Communist thinker who took aspects of Marx’s and Lenin’s thought to develop his theory of “cultural hegemony”. Gramsci called for the undermining of a culture’s established traditions and institutions by means of the working class (changed to ‘women’ for feminist purposes) first developing its own culture and then forming a “historic bloc” by making whatever (temporary) alliances and compromises (again temporary) in order to take over the core institutions of a targeted culture and then subverting it to Marxism-Leninism (or feminism, as it were) from within.
You can see where Justice Brennan’s tactical machinations played right into this strategy; thus – you should pardon the image – enabling the Court and the Beltway to lead the country into political and cultural catastrophe pretty much the way Custer led his elements of the Seventh into the valley of the Little Big Horn.

So, what I am saying – and not in any shallow ‘gotcha’type of way but as a profoundly serious maxim for conducting analysis – is that any study of American politics of the past 40-plus years must take into consideration the admittedly shocking reality that American politics are now and in no small way an actual historical demonstration of a political embodiment of Leninist political thought, since ‘feminist political thought’ (as embraced, enabled, and raised to powerful influence by the US government itself) relies at its very core on Leninist and Communist thought and praxis (either directly or through such writers as Gramsci). The quintessential Communist "class struggle" has simply been re-badged here as the "gender struggle", but all the classic and vital dynamics remain the same.
In this sense, the history of the US becomes a chapter in the sorry history of Communist thought and praxis. And it is nothing short of self-delusion, individual or collective, for American ‘thought’ to wish this stunning frakkulence away by either denying it (it couldn’t happen here!) or insisting that somehow any generalities that have possibly been imported from Leninist thought and praxis would be magically purified through the filters of American exceptionalism or the ‘good intentions’ of those who imported such plague-bacillus and force-fed it into the national political bloodstream.


Worse, it seems to me that if radical-feminism was and from its earliest stages has been committed to a Leninist-Gramscian revolutionary Project, seeking neither rational intellectual debate nor deliberative democratic process, then the American democratic system and Vision was a sitting duck from the get-go.

To approach so determinedly anti-democratic a Project with the intent to parlay and deliberate with it reasonably with an eye to working out some prudent and mutually acceptable compromise arrangement could resemble and repeat nothing so much as Chamberlain’s efforts to do the same when faced with the lethally vital and determined aggressive powers confronting the West in the 1930s.

This is so not, in the first place, because of the Content of the demands issued to American society and culture by radical-feminism. Rather, first and foremost because of the Method already embraced by radical-feminism: i.e., the revolutionary Project that did not seek or intend any deliberation whatsoever, but rather ultimately to undermine the ‘hegemonic’ American culture for its own purposes.

To approach this Project as if it were simply an opportunity for honest democratic discussion was tantamount not only to your bringing a knife to a gunfight, but a gunfight whose specific purpose was your own undoing.

But of course, the ‘revolutionary’ talk brayed by the radical-feminists in the early 1970s, coming so soon after the hyperbole of the Boomery 1960s, seemed merely more youthy exaggeration. But it was not. It was in deadly earnest.

The radical-feminist Plan was not so much a continuation of Boomer excitements (flower children and hippies never really ‘planned’ stuff) as it was the calculated and deliberate introduction of Leninist thought from that verrrry Alien Universe. And the Dems led the Beltway into collaborating with it, and turning over the full faith and credit and force of the government.
And the Dems, desperate for the demographic advantages offered by an embrace of ‘women’s issues’ (as defined and claimed and represented by radical-feminism), could not afford to allow such an opportunity to pass them by merely for the sake of honestly calling the Thing what it was. So they called it all ‘liberal’ and burbled it was all merely ‘reform in the service of rights’ – sort of a simply quickie follow-on to the first phase of the civil-rights movement, that culminated so well in the summer of 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

If the American political system seems to have stopped working, then before making fun of the Framers or losing trust in their Vision, consider what stupendous pressures have been placed upon it for the past Biblical 40 years: it has been assaulted from within, and with the vigorous support of the very government whose officials and elected representatives were sworn to protect it, by what is and always has been at its very core a Leninist revolutionary Project.

If the great ship seems to be sinking, it’s not because it is old or poorly built, but rather because its own guardians have been ripping it apart from the inside for decades now, allowing the lethally anti-democratic explosives of Leninist revolutionary praxis to be planted in all the vital internal locations and detonated by agents of a Project that precisely did not have and never had the best interests of a common-weal sustained by ‘deliberative democratic process’ as its objective.

In which case the Questions facing Us now are: has the ship been damaged beyond repair? And is there enough political will left in the polity and among the Citizenry to conduct the necessary repairs?


I imagine that a Correct come-back to what I have been saying – and what the links in the two preceding Addenda indicate – is that everybody is entitled to his/her own ‘opinion’ about how the Framing Vision or the country nowadays is supposed to work.

In which case I would immediately respond with the image I used most recently in some of the Eagleton Posts: the cargo-cult native of a remote Pacific island in WW2 who one morning suddenly discovers on the beach a brand-new Army staff car that has been (perhaps mistakenly) dropped off in the middle of the night with the keys and a full tank of gas but no owners-manual.

There may be different ‘opinions’ among the tribe as to the purpose of the shiny big thing: a strange type of hut, a planter, even an exotic form of out-house.

But there is really only one way this curious gift can actually work. Any other use, while within the ‘rights’ of the tribe, will fail to harness the full benefits because any other such use will fail to grasp the operating dynamics and purpose and thus the full potentials of the vehicle.

The Framing Vision and the Constitution – absent the indispensable ‘deliberative civic and public process conducted consistently by a fully-informed and competent Citizenry – cannot work properly and to full potential. And this country, this Great Experiment, this greatest gift and hope to humankind, will remain simply a glorified planter or out-house, with clueless natives, no matter how well-intentioned, pouring water or other stuff into it ad infinitum.

For that matter, let me offer this thought: It has become fashionable to lubricate the gyrations of the past 40 years by insisting, as do the university literature departments where so much of this Theory officially resides, that the Constitution should be approached just like any work of fiction. That is to say, while the author had a point or points to make, the reader – even centuries later – may consider his/her own take on the work to override the author’s intentions. This approach has had vast consequences in political thought and legal praxis here over the past few decades.

But suppose that one looks at the Constitution not as a work of fiction but as an instruction-manual or an owner’s manual. Just how much weight do you then want to give to the  ‘subjective’ thoughts, feelings, responses, and musings ginned up by this or that reader?

Would you really want to trust a contractor who tells you that while the blueprints are clear, he sorta feels it would be groovy to try something else? Would you want to fly an airline whose maintenance crews treated the manufacturer’s manuals as merely ‘texts’ about which the mechanic, as reader, might agree with or disagree with? How ‘creative’ do you want your airline mechanics to get with the ‘text’ of the maintenance and repair manuals? How much does the mechanics’ ‘subjectivity’ enter into it?

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