Sunday, September 30, 2012



I continue this mini-series on Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book Liberal Fascism.* (In these Posts, Jonah Goldberg will be shortened to ‘JG’.)

Having given an overview of JG’s thoughts, in this Post I’d like to select some particular points of interest. In several subsequent Posts I’ll deal with some of the numerous and eye-opening quotations from historical figures in American and/or socialist and Progressive history, from the young Woodrow Wilson up through LBJ.

The role of Christianity and religion in first-wave American Progressivism cannot be underestimated. As Baptist minister Walter Rauschenbusch, the originator of the late-19th century Social Gospel movement, put it in 1896: “Now men are free, but it is often the freedom of grains of sand that are whirled up in a cloud and then dropped in a heap, but neither cloud nor sand-heap have any coherence”. (p.87)

What you see here is the abiding Christian concern – especially acute and intense among Protestantism as it developed in Northern Europe – to make the most of this life and to have an impact on human history. This burning preoccupation was powerfully focused on proper human ‘stewardship’ of God’s creation, starting with one’s own self and soul and (with some exceptions among Protestant sects that sought a purely spiritual individual or communal existence) radiating outward into one’s community and one’s world. The goal was to avoid ‘waste’, you could say: a wasted life, a wasted opportunity for individual and communal excellence in both spiritual and material things.

This Stance bore some major differences if contrasted with the more Mediterranean Roman Catholic approach, which focused not so much on individual this-worldly dynamism as on a personal and cultural Order reflecting the rational and revealed Vision of God’s logos or Word that brought Creation (individuals with their souls and then the material realities of this-world) into existence and sustained and guided that entire Creation on its journey to the Ultimate Fulfillment in God.

Especially in American Protestantism, this cutting-loose from the other-worldly bounds of the Roman Catholic Vision created much more room and space for human involvement in the things of this world. But it also thus opened Protestantism up to the tremendous gravitational and centrifugal forces of the human spirit – never perfect – in the hurly-burly of human history. Precisely by making itself more flexible and adaptable, Protestantism opened itself to powerful historical and existential forces and pressures for which there was no centripetal Center such as there was in the Roman Catholic Vision administered by the hierarchy at that Center which operated as a keel to balance activity and action with steadying and Shaping dogmatic continuity.

 To use the imagery of a sailing ship: the Catholic Vision emphasized the necessary rigidity of the keel that ballasted and worked in dynamic tension with the motive forces created by the sails as they caught the winds. The Protestant approach de-emphasized the keel and gave itself over to the sails and the motion created as the ship faced the waves of history and the Sea of life.

Or in a biological image: the Catholic Stance emphasized the rigid and bony endo-skeleton that gave Shape to the being and sustained that Shape; the Protestant Stance emphasized the viscera – muscles, heart, blood flow and so forth – that interacted directly with the world.

Hence too, the Roman Catholic focus on Order and on the traditions that sustained that Multi-planar Order (originating in the Beyond-dimension of the divine), while the Protestant Stance focused on the Mono-plane of this world, emphasizing fluidity and adaptability.

As might easily be imagined, in America of the later 19th-century, flush with a waxing Abundance channeled through industrial and urban capitalism, the Protestant Stance and its emphases seemed far more suitable to American life and history. ‘Boundaries’, as JG notes, became ‘frontiers’ (a hallmark JFK bit but rooted deeply in the prior centuries of the American past).

So within the Protestant Stance there was an urge to dynamically develop and deploy the genuinely formed Christian self into the booming buzzing flux and flow of history in all its dynamic complexity. But as Rauschenbusch indicates in the above quotation, there remained the insistence – seen in the Puritans – on achieving and sustaining a properly formed and grounded Christian self even as one immersed oneself in the affairs of this-world and its affairs.

For such a Protestant Stance, it would not do at all for persons to simply ignore their spiritual responsibilities of self-formation and merely leap into the deep ocean of history and events as if one were taking a carefree and thoughtless leap into the old swimming hole while playing hooky from school.

In this way, American Protestantism dove-tailed with the socialist-Progressive emphasis on ‘crisis’ and ‘responsibility’ and the abiding need to ‘reform’ and ‘improve’ history (which, as JG has often pointed out, was also a hallmark of Marx, Lenin, Mussolini, and even Hitler, and all the lesser socialists of the Left).

Thus Rauschenbusch is philosophically and spiritually averse to the disorganization and lack of Shape so often evident when humans are left at liberty to do whatever they want to do: the Protestant concept of Freedom – as was true of the Catholic concept as well – is that you presume a well-formed spiritual human being who is best suited to exercise that Freedom. A so-called ‘pure’ freedom, where people can simply do whatever they want without the ‘oppression’ of any boundaries or Shape (originating in this world or the Beyond), is not at all acceptable.

It is not acceptable because the Protestant Stance shares with its parent Catholic Stance the profound presumptions about human beings being created in God’s Image. As such, human beings are like ships (or – to use an anachronistic image – aircraft): these vessels are designed according to certain basic principles and no matter how ‘free’ you are as a captain or pilot, you can’t simply ignore those Shaping boundaries and principles.

Thus a pilot – although having complete command of the aircraft – still has to obey the fundamental principles and laws of aerodynamics; a ship captain – although having complete command of the vessel – still had to obey the fundamental principles and laws of physics and of wind and wave and hydrodynamics. To do otherwise will ‘waste’ that Freedom, that liberty, by wrecking the very craft that you command.

But again, this concern for Order and Shape dovetails with the socialist and the American Progressive Stance: in that era of first-wave Progressivism and of European socialism, the desire was not to anarchically cut loose from any Shape or Order (let alone to deny the necessity or existence or possibility or legitimacy of such Shape and Order); rather, it was to impose (‘achieve’ is, alas, putting it all too mildly and gently) a better Shape and Order – a New Order – than the old Shape and Order enshrined in the ‘traditional’ cultural and political and social arrangements that had evolved organically in European history over the millennia.

As Rauschenbusch indicates, a society of totally ‘free’ individuals resembles nothing so much as a miasm of loose grains of sand blown about by history’s winds and by each individual’s personal whims. (Note the resemblance to the industrial manufacturing dynamics of that era: you can organize human beings and keep them focused on a task, and get a lot of things made and a lot of things done; this preconception also influenced European (and after 1916 American) military thinking as well. Mobilization, motivation, and organization – all incited and sustained in the service of the proper Cause or Goal – is a dynamic conceptual motif that is widely afoot in that era, in American and Europe, especially in light of the intensifying and increasingly clear downsides to urban-industrial capitalism.)

Thus, Rauschenbusch continues, “New forms of association must be created. Our disorganized competitive life must pass into an organic cooperative life … Individualism means tyranny”. (p.87)

What you may immediately sense here is that Rauschenbusch is starting to bend in the direction of communal (and you might say ‘corporate’) organization and away from the traditional Protestant emphasis on the necessity of the individual’s achieving of self-mastery, spiritual and otherwise.

In a paradoxical conclusion that should have received more critical inquiry than it did, Rauschenbusch sees ‘tyranny’ as emanating from that unguided and un-Shaped and un-Boundaried ‘freedom’ that really has proven – to the Protestant eye – to have led to a wasteful and un-Shaped or under-Shaped license (which in the Jazz Age would arguably  mutate into outright licentiousness).

That there are profound problems here with the general first-principles of genuine ‘democracy’ does not detain him. If human beings are so easily unsuited for liberty and freedom, then how can a genuine democracy be sustained? What would be the purpose of creating or keeping it in the first place?** Worse, of course: if it turns out that living according to their ‘pure’ freedom of whim and desire renders individuals unable to govern themselves or achieve anything substantial together, then … the government and its elites will have to step in and take over the job; if the herd can’t control itself, then trail-bosses and trail-hands will have to do it. Thus does ‘pure’ freedom lead so easily to tyranny.

Another writer of the era, Washington Gladden, went so far as to assert that Progressivism was merely “applied Christianity”, supporting the Social Gospel’s belief that “the state was the right arm of God and was the means by which the whole nation and world would be redeemed”. (p.87)

And in this you can see something eerily and ominously reminiscent of the ancient Eastern and Byzantine solution to the relationship between Church and State (or Throne): the Church became merely but completely the chaplaincy of the State/Throne. Whereas in the Latin West, the Roman Church had struggled persistently to maintain the independence of the Spiritual from the Temporal power.

Progressivism – which in its first-wave was deeply enmeshed with a supportive version of (Protestant) Christian religious vision and fervor – was already working toward a type of ‘totalitarian’ arrangement whereby the Temporal power would be served by the Spiritual, even though in that first-wave era, the Spiritual – by offering ‘benefit of clergy’ to Progressivism – envisioned itself as ‘baptizing’ the Temporal into the Spiritual and thus achieving a marvelous synergy that would lead to both a Temporal and a Spiritual End-Time that would fulfill history. This was ‘Progress’ in a much more complete (and ‘total’) sense than anything Roman Catholicism, with its abiding and historically ingrained wariness of the things of this world and of the Temporal power, could robustly support.***



*Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism. Doubleday: New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-385-51184-1 (hard cover). It’s also out in paperback.

**This also constituted one of the Roman Catholic Church’s abiding concerns about ‘democracy’. On top of the historical European reality that ‘democracy’ had so often led to civil strife, bloody disorder, and profound spiritual dis-Order – from the Peasants’ Revolt of Luther’s time through the stunning bloodiness of the French Revolution and the Terror with its enthronement of a purely this-worldly and Mono-planar Reason (as opposed to any Multi-planar Faith) and the (almost inevitable) secular imperium of Napoleon.

It took until the 1950s for American Catholic thought such as John Courtney Murray’s to impress upon the Vatican the possibilities of American Founding concepts of genuine democracy – as opposed to the French Revolutionary and Soviet versions of popular rule by, or at least in the name and service of, ‘the masses’.

But – in a stunning historical irony – America had been sliding toward the French-Revolutionary approach, rather than American Founding Vision, since Progressivism’s first febrile enchantment with Bismarck’s ‘top-down socialism’ in the later 19th century. A slide which was erected into a Plan as time went on, especially as the decade of the 1960s saw a wild efflorescence of theological urges for change and reform following the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) and the various importations of outright Leninist and totalitarian thought spun as ‘liberation’ and ‘reform’ under the aegis of radical-feminism’s embrace of such ideology in the early 1970s, and the Beltway’s embrace of all of that ideological ‘justification’ for purposes of erecting new demographic coalitions after 1972.

Within a decade of Murray’s insightful and constructive work – and Martin Luther King’s equally redemptive and unitive religious-political American visions as enunciated so eloquently in 1963 – the government’s abandonment (for all practical purposes) of the American Revolutionary Stance for the French Revolutionary Stance was in the ascendant.

***And, of course, it would be in the American era initiated in the 1960s and early 1970s that the Temporal power, now so thoroughly Progressive-ized in both political Parties, would declare itself a ‘secular’ power, demanding the complete cooperation (that German Gleichschaltung of Bismarck and Hitler; given pithy expression in Mussolini’s maxim: Nothing against the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state) of whatever Spiritual power was left or else face the on-going efforts by the State to de-legitimize the Spiritual in the public forum.




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Thursday, September 27, 2012



I continue this mini-series on Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book Liberal Fascism.* (In these Posts, Jonah Goldberg will be shortened to ‘JG’.)

JG considers the Sorelian “vital lie of the left” to be the following excuse: “if only the right reactionaries hadn’t [fill in the blank] we would today be living in a better, more just and more open-minded country”. (p.199)

Certainly since the 1960s this sly presumption has been insinuated into public discourse by ‘liberals’ from all the organized advocacies for all of the now-embraced Identities: that if only it weren’t for the ‘backlashing’ then the liberal agenda could demonstrate its marvelousness and carry the country to fresh sunlit uplands.**

Decades ago this was the mantra used to stampede public opinion over the doubts, concerns, questions and objections that were raised by a still-robust public and political discourse: our agenda is being impeded by nothing more than backlashers and marginalizing oppressors who don’t want to give up their power … and if that’s the type of people who are resisting these great new agendas then clearly the agendas and their proponents must be Good and the objectors Evil.

Today it is used as an excuse for the non-performance and the failures and the ill-consequences of all the Beltway impositions of all the preceding decades. Once upon a time there was a Camelot of possibility in this country and if only the agendas had been fully and properly implemented then so much would have been better … but there’s still time to hope this time around!

JG characterizes the current ‘liberal’ position further: “Western civilization was saved when the barbarians were defeated in the early 1970s … we should not only be grateful for our slender victory but vigilant in securing it for posterity”. (p.199)

I would only modestly disagree. Because it was not very long into the 1970s before the totalitarian and Gramscian and more recent Eurocommunist sources of so much ‘liberal’ philosophizing (to justify the ‘reforms’) revealed themselves: ‘Western civilization’ was rotten to the core – being dominant and hegemonic and oppressive and marginalizing – and had to be done away with; its patriarchy and (the current buzzword) ‘whiteness’ has to be eradicated and replaced with “diversity” in every possible way. The post-1972 ‘liberals’ were never ever out to ‘save’ Western Civilization (hey, hey, ho, ho – it had to go!).

But I would agree that that ‘liberal’ (as nowadays defined) impetus did succeed far too well – thanks to the Beltway’s supportive and impositional embrace. Not only the shape and structures of the American culture and ethos, but also the political first-principles of a functioning constitutional democracy, were twisted out of shape, and even the very competence and seriousness of the public discourse by which the Citizenry deliberates on matters of grave import to the national common-weal … all corrupted and corroded by all the well-established totalitarian methods for manipulating public opinion in order to marginalize it, thus clearing the path for the New Order and the New Shape.

It becomes clear, then, that all of this puts into a stunning new light Harding’s exhortation following Wilson’s era that he wanted the country to experience “a return to normalcy”. Not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, yet Harding was no fool; the era of Wilson’s ‘war socialism’ – with its ‘mobilizing’ and controlling the public, its surveillance and censorship and jingoistic exhortations to “100 percent Americanism” (as Wilson defined it), and its Progressive version of Bismarck’s ‘top-down revolution’ – had addled and deeply deranged the country, its ethos and its polity, for too long. Now, with the Great War over, Harding was looking to return the Great Vessel to an even-keel and steadier course.

Harding has effectively (and not completely inaccurately) been spun by Progressive/liberal thought as a doltish and small-souled seat-warmer of less than sterling morals and ethical judgment. But I would say that in his visceral awareness that somehow Wilson’s schemes and visions and machinations had created fundamental derangements that promised great ill for the country he was spot-on. In the welter of historical actualities during his Administration, that – I would say – was the ‘alpha-stream’, the core stream of insight that, in the intelligence field, has to be identified and isolated from the booming, buzzing scrum of events and interpretations that surround all historical phenomena.

But ‘normalcy’ was and is – of course – precisely what Progressive and other forms of totalitarian thought and praxis cannot allow. These approaches require ‘crisis’ and an ‘emergency’ in order to mobilize and also distract public opinion, stampeding it beyond any normal rational and prudent concerns it might have about proposed new agendas (that are about to be imposed). There is a disturbing but profound accuracy to that moment in one of the more recent Star Wars installments, where the vast assemblage of galactic representatives cheer the Sith Lord’s assumption of plenary power: says Princess (or Queen – apologies) Amidala: So this is how democracy ends … with applause. Just so.

And whether that is the loud and raucous applause of the ‘crowd’ and the ‘masses’, or the tastefully muted pat-patting ‘golf-clap’ applause of the grand ballroom … what difference, really, is that?

For the menu remains the same: the creation of crises; nationalistic and ‘patriotic’ appeals to unity; the celebration of martial virtues; suspicion of all who do not conform and go-along; the blurring of the vital lines between public and private and between the  personal and the ‘political’; the utilization of mass media (formerly known as ‘the free press’) in order to glamorize the state and its agendas; invocation of a total-unity ethos that served to unify only in the negative sense of utter conformity and the squelching of any dissent or doubt; the cult of personality of the Leader (whether 'strong' or 'sensitive', paternal or maternal);  and all of the Political Correctness administered by a “camarilla of the Keepers of the Arcana” (the elite liberal priesthood of the Correct mysteries).(p.211)

This works out to “the birth of the liberal god-state”, the state-as-religious-source. (p.215) There are ‘sacred’ personalities (FDR, JFK, LBJ, G.W. Bush as ‘the Leader’ and (with repellent inaccuracy) ‘our commander-in-chief’ – Wilson is left out partly through the passage of time and partly through the eclipse of even the appearance of adulthood initiated by JFK’s presidency and the Kennedy Mystique); there is the “cult of the state” which works out to “a religion of state worship whose sacrificial Christ was JFK and whose Pauline architect was LBJ”. (p.215)

JG recalls Edward Bellamy’s 1888 book Looking Backward (an imaginary look at America in the year 2000): workers belong to “a unified industrial army”; the economy is run by all-powerful central planners; the citizens are drafted for their occupations of mind or muscle because all of them are bound to work for the state and the nation; the Umbrella State (rather than hundreds of thousands of citizens each putting up a personal umbrella when history’s weather turns stormy, the state will put up one huge Umbrella); and – generally – “the kingdom of heaven on earth”. (p.215)

At precisely the same time back there in the 1880s, young and up-coming Woodrow Wilson is writing dismissively of “horse-and-buggy” democracy and its Constitutional machinery, that are utterly insufficient to the challenges and glorious possibilities of modernity and the rapidly-approaching 20th century.

It was this vision of Bellamy’s – says JG rightly – that “captured Progressives” with its militarized, nationalized, organized, socialist utopia. (p.215)

There was – he notes – even a ‘logical’ conclusion that the individual States themselves were rapidly becoming obsolete because in their diverse and obstreperous individuality and adherence to the ‘old’ ideas of 1787 they would only serve to obstruct the achievement of Year One. (p.215) You can’t help thinking of the post-1972 era in this country, that third-wave of Progressive/totalitarianism, where the Feds – under the aegis of an insistence that for the ‘marginalized’ (defined as such with increasing and intensifying capaciousness) the whole country was really nothing more than the States of the Jim Crow South; and the Beltway would have to man-up and step-in and take-over.

Nor did Bellamy confine himself to political and social thought. He also wrote Jesus the Socialist, which sought to corral the still-robust Christian elements of Progressivism with religious, theological, and spiritual (however defined) arguments. And there was devised a ‘salute’ – with the arm extended straight-out and up; in the late 19th century perhaps a heark-back to the Rome of the Caesars, but within a few decades adopted (from Us!??) by Mussolini and the German guy with the funny moustache.

All the marquis presumptions of Bismarck’s approach were present, JG notes: a centralized and united government (its unity imposed from above) “without the messiness of excessive democracy” that impedes the visions of Great Men of Action; an elite and executive disdain for “limited government” or classical Liberal Constitutionalism since they only created boundaries and fences that would impede executive ‘progress’ (precisely as the cattle barons of the American West opposed fences and small-holds because they interfered with the progress of trail-bossing the great herds); and even a Kulturkampf, a ‘culture war’ precisely intended to undermine popular support for what the elites now saw as ‘obstructions’ to their ‘progress’.

And Bismarck was specifically aiming this Kulturkampf at the Catholic Church, that bastion of ‘tradition’ that constituted the most politically potent center of opposition to his plans. Which has an eerie familiarity to it nowadays.***

But what was the problem? Science, after all, was not open to “democratic debate” and wasn’t Progressive governance “scientific”? (p.221) But, of course, the trickery was in how Scientific Method is actually conducted. While there are the occasional individual brilliant scientists who crystallize a particular Big Thought, the vast corpus of scientific development is conducted by a rigorous and vigorous and broad-based Conversation among many scientific researchers, each publishing discoveries and theories so that all other interested researchers can critique them or verify (or falsify) them through independent analysis and experiment.

So while the scientific ‘laws’ – so-called – are possessed of a certain indisputable validity that is not amenable to ‘democratic’ debate (or PR spin), yet the very process of Scientific Method that establishes that validity is profoundly democratic and independent indeed.

And those scientific ‘laws’ apply to the material universe; not to the vastly more complex and un-controllable productions and phenomena of human history and human activity, so profoundly enmeshed with human desires and passions and the exercise of the human will.

Thus – JG observes acutely – modern American Progressive/liberalism cannot be judged merely by its good intentions or – in the words of contemporary academic social thinker Alan Wolfe – merely by its “concern with the impact of social environments on individuals”. (p.246) [italics mine]  

‘Concern’ is all well and good. But it is the beginning, not the conclusion, of what should be a stringent and acute and free-wheeling independent analysis of proposed policies and laws that would seek to address that ‘concern’. ‘Concern’ and ‘good intentions’ are utterly insufficient as justifications that would claim to trump or obviate the vital and abiding need for serious and mature and broad analysis and deliberation and public debate.

This is one of the vital “roots” that “American Progressivism shares with European fascism” (including its communist variant). (p.246) Progressivism precisely and intentionally sidesteps such broad and ‘democratic’ public analysis. After all, why have such a democratic involvement if most of the Citizenry ‘just don’t get it’ in the first place? Best to leave it all to those who do ‘get it’ and know what will work out to be best for everybody. Do ranchers take a poll among the cows and steers of the herd before implementing some great new ideas in animal husbandry?

You can see clearly in all of this – I think – precisely why contemporary ‘liberalism’ really isn’t interested in broad and deep and independent historical analysis, or really any sort of analysis at all (except if it’s Correct ‘advocacy analysis’ that somehow jiggers the results to come out as precisely justifying what the elite cadres have decided to do).

Historical analysis would reveal some of the darker dynamics that lie at the heart of the history of Progressive/liberal thought and praxis, exposing assumptions about ‘democracy’ and the entire foundational basis of the American Experiment in popular self-governance.

Such analysis of current events would merely create ‘obstructions’ to the rapid imposition of new-Order agendas and policies and enabling legislation.

Whereas what’s really sought by Progressive/liberal governance is a Gleichschaltung, that ominous German concept of ‘conforming’ or 'bringing into alignment' every aspect of national life to the overriding (and government-controlled) Vision that will have to become the guiding standard for the country and the people (das Volk).

You will conform or – on its own authority as sole source of national morality – the government will Correctly label you as Evil or an abettor of Evil.

And then you really will ‘get it’. Or else.

Just how long any constitutional democracy – and specifically Our constitutional democracy – can survive such a philosophy of governance is the primary Question facing Us today.


*Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism. Doubleday: New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-385-51184-1 (hard cover). It’s also out in paperback.

**A just-published cultural history of San Francisco from 1967 to 1982 – the 15 years that spanned the Summer of Love to AIDS – by David Talbot demonstrates precisely this point of JG’s. Talbot dreams that such radicalism as there was on the Left was merely sparked and actually caused by “reactionary” opposition from the Right and/or by CIA infiltrators of what would putatively have been non-radical organizations. As if the organizations – either through the embrace of actual revolutionary violence or through the valorization of ‘creative cultural destruction’ and ‘creative transgression’ – weren’t already well-along on a violent and destructive path.

And – neatly – that while sexual activity was “readily available”, yet “predatory behavior was not allowed”. Of course. Which limns precisely the type of Boomery sexual utopia that had lured so many of them in the first place, while neatly avoiding any connection with the inevitable predatory behavior that accompanies such sexual licentiousness (it’s not just ‘repression’ that generates predation). In Talbot’s telling, they had a utopia – but then mean old nasty reactionaries came in and wrecked their sand castle on the beach by the Bay.


***And again I return to the thought that when the Vatican opposed the development of European ‘Modernism’ in the late-19th century it was concerned not simply for the Flattening of the human existential experience into the Mono-plane of a purely this-worldly vision. Rather, it was acutely aware of the fact that you couldn’t reach ‘socialism’ without running the real risk of armed revolution and bloodily disordering or dis-Ordering Western societies as well as Western Culture.

And further, that while it had to be educated by the American hierarchy that ‘democracy’ as it was conceived and developed by the Framers in 1787 was profoundly not the ‘democracy’ of the French Revolution with all its blood and Terror, yet perhaps the Vatican realized – as the American hierarchy in its ‘American’ enthusiasm did not – that with the waxing ascendancy of American Progressivism the dynamics and visions of the French Revolution (through its descendants, the totalitarian brood of communists, fascists, and the more radical socialists) had indeed managed to migrate to the New World.

And that the ‘top-down socialism’ of Bismarck had already resulted in a government-sponsored Kulturkampf against the Church in the German states, and would probably produce the same results in the New World. (Which did happen, although not until Progressivism’s third-wave after 1972.)

And thus perhaps the Vatican also saw that even if the American Framers’ approach to ‘democracy’ was far more prudent and well-grounded than the lethal French excitements of 1789, yet – if perhaps the Vatican read Wilson’s early books more closely than did his own countrymen – it had become clear that America’s commitment to its own unique political heritage was itself being eroded, mutating into precisely the statist and Mono-planar path of the Old World governments.





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Sunday, September 23, 2012



I continue this mini-series on Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book Liberal Fascism.* (In these Posts, Jonah Goldberg will be shortened to ‘JG’.)

As JG observes, “the core value of original fascism … was its imposition of war values on society”. (p.149) This was not out of some mere primitive blood-lust on the part of the Great Man, but rather “the chief appeal of war to social planners was not death or conquest but mobilization.” (p.149) [italics JG’s; boldface mine]

This profound and vital reality was missed in the brouhaha, certainly, of the late 1960s when “imperialism” and actual war (Vietnam, famously) took center-stage.

JG continues: “Free societies are disorganized; people do their own thing, more or less, and that can be downright inconvenient if you’re trying to plan the entire economy … war brings conformity and unity of purpose … the ordinary rules of behavior are moth-balled … you can get things done … domestic populations were required to ‘do their part’”. (p.149)

Several thoughts flow from his (accurate) assessment.

First, while it’s perfectly true that people in a free society do tend toward ‘doing their own thing’ (and certainly that was going to be a Boomer trade-mark), it is also true that voters – acting as the Citizenry and The People – also tend to think their own thoughts, making (to the extent they can) their own assessments and thus their own judgments on even the most important matters of law and policy. In some ways – to use Lincoln’s image from another context – governing such a society is akin to “shoveling fleas across a barnyard”.

The best solution – the ‘high road of democracy’, you might say – is to a) ensure that as many Citizens are sufficiently educated so as to assess and judge wisely and to b) ensure (especially through a ‘free press’) that they are sufficiently and accurately informed.

But there is still no guarantee that if (a) and (b) are ensured, The People will still approve of whatever it is that their governors and bureaucratic and intellectual ‘elites’ will want to do.

There is thus a ‘low road’: simply reduce the Citizenry to a herd, to be stampeded or herded in whatever direction the trail-bosses think best for them and for the country. For this, (a) and (b) are not only not-necessary but actually would constitute substantial potential and even probable obstructions.

This has been a perennial Western problem. Aquinas tried to deal with it in his “Letter to the Kind of Cyprus” in the 13th century. People, made in the image and likeness of God, thus possess a certain inalienable dignity and thus a right to a say in their political affairs. Yet – Aquinas admits he cannot deny – not all people are equally capable of rising to their dignity and their concomitant responsibility to marshal their abilities in order to participate in the exercise of that governance. Nor can it clearly be seen – in the 13th century – how people might participate in their own self-governance.

The solution, he concludes as he makes his summation to that King, is to treat all of his subjects as if they were – as in a sense they truly are – themselves “kings”.

Ideally, Aquinas had begun the Letter, the best form of governance would be a Benevolent Christian Monarch, so well-versed and competent in and committed to the Will and Wisdom of God’s Rule that the monarch would be able to function pretty much in God’s place on earth in matters temporal (as the Pope ideally functions in matters spiritual). But even Aquinas realizes that such an ideal solution, such an ideal human being, can hardly be expected to come along often enough and reliably enough.

Hobbes, shocked by the mayhem and ruin unleashed by the post-Reformation’s amalgam of political and religious strife that fuelled the religious civil strife and the so-called Wars of Religion of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, could see no other solution to ensure humans’ security from each other’s darknesses than to place all political power in the hands of some Leviathan government that could guarantee swift and immediate punishment for anyone breaking the civil peace. (God, clearly, had demonstrated His far too-indulgent ‘patience’ with human violence and folly in History; so the solution would have to come not from Beyond, from the Multi-plane, but from within human history, from a Leviathan that was itself a creation of human will – though, mysteriously, imbued by common-consent with a Power (if not a Wisdom and Benevolence) that would have to suffice to ensure peace and avoid the stunning and soul-wracking ruin of war and civil-war.)

At his most elevated, the Italian Communist-Leninist thinker Antonio Gramsci, in the very early 20th century, had envisioned vanguard-elites of revolution who would primarily educate the ‘marginalized’ (Gramsci’s own term) so that they would no longer passively submit to ‘dominance’ and ‘hegemony’ (ditto) but rather would have the knowledge and will to move in from the political ‘margins’ to the political ‘center’ and create both their own revolution and their own government with themselves now at that ‘center’.

But as so often in human history and affairs, such a high-road was deemed both too time-consuming and too insufficiently reliable to achieve the envisioned objective. The vanguard-elites soon became – to use a stunning theological image of Luther’s – riders who would ride the masses and through astute but ruthless use of reins and whips ride that herd to the objective. For, but of course, the herd’s own good.

It is in this context that We must assess the ascendancy of totalitarianism in its various forms: socialism, fascism, Nazism, Communism, and Progressivism.

Second, that ‘disorganization’ is itself a reflection of the diversity of opinion and priorities that naturally and ineluctably represent the freedom of individual human beings in their social and political agglomerations. While that ‘disorganization’ certainly reflects varying degrees of insight and competence among the people, it also reflects that legitimate diversity of opinion and priorities.

But there had always been a presumptive societal and cultural consensus on first-principles that would underlie and under-gird all of that diverse-ness (‘diversity’ is now a word too freighted with distractions). That was the ‘Afterglow’ of profound cultural agreement and unity  – to use my term – upon which the Framers counted for some vitally indispensable and fundamental level of unity and consensus even as they created the machinery for a constitutional democracy.

But it was precisely here that Wilson early in his career rejected the Framers in the name of Progressivism and that the Beltway, through the purported ‘philosophy’ justifying Identity Politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s and since, rejected not only any functioning democracy but even the fundamental concepts of any objectivity and rationality and commonality and any concepts of a reliably-conceived truth whatsoever.

Thus third, ‘war’ or some similar ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ that creates – to use William James’s term - “the moral equivalent of war”, is necessary to justify any putatively democratic and constitutionally-limited government’s arrogating to itself powers more suitable to a ‘totalitarian’ mode of governance and government.

The Citizenry can be ‘mobilized’ into a uniformity of feeling and purpose, and the ‘crisis’ creates a strong wave of public feeling that simultaneously a) raises a cloud of ‘feeling’ that obstructs rational analysis of what the government is now doing and b) generates an acceptance of the government’s squelching of dissenting or divergent opinions, with as much force and control as may be required.

As JG will say and repeat, this need for a ‘war’ or a ‘crisis’ is endemic to American Progressivism, a need built-into it as it were. After all, in no other way can a robust democracy be converted into a more organized and ‘corporated’ public enterprise.

William James – as JG notes – decently wanted “all the benefits – Dewey’s ‘social possibilities’- of war, without the costs”. (p.149) Thus it has been that wherever it could be managed, American Progressivism has adopted ‘causes’ and generated (the perception of) ‘crises’ in order to Get the Ball Rolling and to Keep The Ball Rolling.

Combined with manufacturing capitalism’s requirement to not only meet ‘needs’ but to create them, the American Progressive strategy has resulted in an unremitting civil and social and cultural agitation, thus to continue the ‘march’ (or slide) toward a more totalitarian polity.

That this lethal fundamental dynamic has been masked by the surface purposes of ‘liberation’ (however defined and conceived) does nothing to reduce the dangerousness of this course.

And even James admitted that “martial virtues must be the enduring cement” of American society … “intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command”. (p.149)

But that was first-wave Progressivism (in my counting). By the third-wave Progressivism of the 1970s, in the service of an even more lethally profound assault upon the ‘dogmas’ of what was spun as a ‘white, male, patriarchal, macho, industrial’ culture, both those (masculine) martial virtues of James’s as well as ‘religion’ and any philosophical reliance upon Virtue at all – or even any acceptance that such a thing as Virtue could exist and be freely embraced by humans – had to be jettisoned and repudiated.

And thus when in his State of the Union Address of 2012 Obama made – stunningly – a wistful call for a more team-oriented and objective-focused American commonality such as is seen in the military … We saw a desperate attempt to summon The People to a Cause that had for so long been ‘deconstructed’, and gleefully so, by the Beltway at the behest of its ‘demographic bases’. All this ‘liberation’ led to a now-engorged Executive (a Great Man?) pleading for the uniformity and unanimity of commitment and purpose that had long before been kicked to the curb by Progressives of every stripe.

But what else could he do? Given the vast abyss of general catastrophe cracked open by the financial crisis that became overt in 2008, not only would it be desperately essential for the government to be able to rely on a certain level of initiative and robust maturity on the part of the long-infantilized and pandered-to population, but it would be essential to ensure such a public restraint in order to prevent – and the possibility is hardly remote – lethal public unrest if the national situation were to get worse – also a hardly remote possibility.

Mussolini had indeed glorified war for itself: he saw it as one of the few ways that the ever-recalcitrant Italians might be whipped into shape, having to face its stern and awful discipline. And it ‘made men’, he no doubt figured, (out of at least some of those who survived it). “War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it”. (p.149)

So too did the Nazi Party, whose early embrace of paramilitary pompery was precisely calibrated to recover World War 1’s “socialism of the trenches”. (p.150) [italics mine]

The Soviets – when they waxed lyrical at all – saw the same advantages accruing to those who embraced the Revolution and its Cause.

Acutely, JG realizes that “with the election of Franklin Roosevelt, the progressives who’d sought to remake American through ‘war socialism’ were back in power … While they professed to eschew ‘dogma’, they couldn’t be more dogmatically convinced that World War 1 had been a successful ‘experiment’”. (p.150)

The more things change …

JG has even discovered Jonathan Alter’s recovered draft of an FDR radio address to the American Legion – the first to be delivered following his inauguration – in which the President “was to instruct the veterans that they should become his own ‘extra-constitutional, private army’” (as Alter put it). FDR was to exhort the veterans that as “a new commander-in-chief under the oath to which you are still bound … I reserve to myself the right to command you in any phase of the situation that now confronts us”. (p.150) The similarity of such an envisioned paramilitary force (let alone the dubiousness of the validity of that assertion that their oath-of-service taken for World War 1 was still in effect) to Hitler’s already-numerous private Party-army, the S.A., is queasy but inescapable. Nor in 1932 was it actual overseas war that FDR could have had in mind.

Political boilerplate and spirit-rousing? Perhaps, but you can certainly see where the general ‘spirit of the times’ in those days was laden with the thick smokes of totalitarianism’s robust and redemptive ‘efficiency’.

Nor – in another queasy similarity – was the National Recovery Administration’s stylized Blue Eagle, now almost completely forgotten in American iconography, anything but reminiscent of Fascist and Nazi eagle-symbols. All Americans – from corporations to housewives – were expected to conform to the NRA’s requirements, display the symbol at the factory and at home, and report those who did not do so. As the Germans would put it: Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz – public/social need takes precedence over private need.

Americans, JG observes, were being transformed as their government and governance were being transformed “into a religious experience”. You were ‘patriotic’ or not as once persons were judged ‘faithful’ or ‘heretic’, ‘believer’ or ‘infidel’. (p.153)

All necessary, as JG continually makes the point, that “the New Deal and its successors would become addicted to crises to maintain power and implement their agendas”. (p.160) He quotes 1930s journalist J.T.Flynn about the New Deal: “It is born in crisis, lives on crises, and cannot survive the era of crisis. By the very law of its nature it must create for itself, if it is to continue, fresh crises from year to year. Mussolini came to power in the postwar crisis and became himself a crisis in Italian life … Hitler’s story is the same. And our future is charted out upon the turbulent road of a permanent crisis”. (p.160)

But in 1934 the opinion was voiced that “The NRA is the beginning of an American Fascism. But unlike Italy and Germany, democratic parliamentarianism has for generations been strong in the Anglo-Saxon world.” And thus “Fascism … is not to be expected in North America”. At least, not in uniforms and jack-boots, but rather as “judicious, black-frocked gentlemen, graduates of the best universities …”. (p.161)

This is a somewhat ambivalent assurance. On the one hand, the American culture is too strongly democratic – almost viscerally and certainly conceptually fundamentally so – for it to be overtaken by totalitarian dynamics. Yet on the other hand, while such totalitarian dynamics shall not stride onto the stage in jackboots and uniforms, those dynamics will come through the well-attired graduates of the most elite universities.

And – of course – it was precisely that American culture that has been so insistently and consistently ‘deconstructed’ under the assorted elite Identity-Politics guises of Gramscian and totalitarian thought for the past 40 Biblical years. Nobody in the 1930s imagined any of that happening: that the federal government itself would embrace the undermining and corrosion of the fundamental democratic and independent ethos of American culture and tradition.

But such came to pass and here We are.


*Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism. Doubleday: New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-385-51184-1 (hard cover). It’s also out in paperback.






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Friday, September 21, 2012



I continue this mini-series on Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book Liberal Fascism.* (In these Posts, Jonah Goldberg will be shortened to ‘JG’.)

FDR slyly made a virtue out of necessity: not having much of a plan nor actually a deep understanding (few did at the time) as to just what had gone wrong and thus what had to be done to correct it, FDR simply asserted that the government would embrace “action” and “above all, try something”. (p.132)

Making full use of the shallow but catchy American Pragmatist approach popularized by William James (if it works it’s true and has “cash value”; if it doesn’t work then it’s not true), FDR pledged that the government would “take a method and try it … if it fails, admit it frankly and try another … but above all, try something”. (p.132)

This, I would say, was a crucial Moment in American History: something very vital (the economy) had somehow gone wrong; nobody at the time could get a confidently clear grasp on just what had gone wrong, and there was too much danger of public suffering (and consequent unrest) to simply keep on the same course and see what would happen.

It was a genuine Crisis and Emergency (just the type of flood-tide Progressivism and the European totalitarian approaches always require to float their plans over the rocks and shoals which thinking-about would simply slow down the march to ‘progress’). But if the fundamental statist and government-heavy Progressive approach wasn’t threat enough, it would under FDR be wedded to an enthusiastic and thorough-going embrace of the idea that a major government should simply start ‘trying stuff’ to see what might work. This is not the way to handle a great ship or large aircraft that’s in difficulty: Folks, we don’t really know what’s wrong but we’ll be trying whatever we can think of and see if it helps … so buckle up.

(And in the end, it was not FDR’s economic efforts that pulled the country out of the mess, but rather the Crisis and Emergency of world-war. But that left the country’s political classes and even the public expectations of what the government might do – or try – imprinted with the idea that government can sort of just try stuff … and make everybody go along with it.)**

Thus anybody who agreed with the FDR approach was ‘flexible’ and ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘open-minded’, and anybody who didn’t was simply an unimaginative fuddy-duddy wedded to outmoded dogmas and clearly not ready for the bright possibilities (and brutal possibilities) of the 20th century.

JG rightly points out that (genuine) conservatives are always wary of unconsidered change. Much like prudent ship captains and pilots, they are aware of how much is at stake if something goes wrong, and they’d rather not play games with people’s lives and economic livelihood and means of subsistence.***

Ominously, JG notes, there were three Great Events that in 1932 seemed to be bearing great and wonderful fruit and were thus available for trying-out as solutions: the Bolshevik Revolution, Mussolini’s Great-Man fascism in Italy, and Wilson’s own recent ‘war socialism’ of a dozen years or so before. (p.132)

The Soviet method was seen as merely a more robust and ‘bottom-up’ popular version of Bismarck’s ‘top-down socialism’ of the later 1800s in Prussia and Germany. And, in the opinion of the elites here, looking dreamily at the new Soviet state, “it worked”. Lincoln Steffens went so far as to express it this way: there was what he called the “Russian-Italian” method, accurately and acutely capturing the kindred dynamics of both the Soviet and the Fascist efforts. (p.133)

Worse was the induced presumption that since We had won the Great War, then Wilson’s ‘war socialism’ actually ‘worked’ (whatever that might mean) and the further assumption that since Wilson’s Progressive ‘war socialism’ “worked”, then it was and had to be ‘good for’ the country and would produce no fundamentally ill effects or consequences of any sort.

The elite assessment of the postwar years was that the Russians and Italians were beating us at our own game “by continuing their experiments in war socialism while America cut short its project, choosing instead to wallow in the selfish crapulence of the Roaring Twenties”. (p.133) Nor, conveniently, did the Progressive elites care to waste any thought or risk any optimism by considering just how their signature achievement of Prohibition had fueled that admittedly dispiriting decade.  

One commentator in 1932 plaintively whined: “Why should Russians have all the fun of remaking the world?” (p.133) Why indeed?

And here JG connects to a natural human tendency, pronounced in can-do America but also powerfully operative in the younger members of the species: “the important role that boredom and impatience play in the impulse to ‘remake the world’”. (p.133)

Boredom, “sheer, unrelenting ennui with the status quo – served as the oxygen for the fire of progressivism because tedium is the tinder for the flames of mischievousness”. (p.133) And it did so “in much the same way as Romanticism laid many of the intellectual predicates for Nazism”. (p.133) He could have added the genuinely gaga infatuation with Italian Futurism – in Italy and throughout the West – in the very early years of the century.

The world was “clay to be sculpted by human will”, or – in the Futurists’ vision – a great machine whose powers were merely waiting to be harnessed by those with the vision and enthusiasm to toss aside the ‘old’ and embrace the oh-so-very-Modern and up-to-date.****

JG also connects to the “spiritual languor of the age”. (p.133) But this is a far more complex reality than can be envisioned in merely two dimensions, I would say. There is a “spiritual languor” that goes with any age of human existence; it is the result of the inevitable incompleteness of human life and of humanity’s perennial inability to fully realize or actualize even its most cherished ideals.

This is far different from a spiritual-languor that arises like a miasm from a particular cultural Moment or era. The Twenties, the Jazz Age, were certainly an era when material ‘abundance’ was so widely embraced and enjoyed that it blotted out all concern for the more ‘spirit’-based concerns of humanness. That materialist cacophony, of course, ended with the onset of the (first) Great Depression.

And it requires a careful and discerning assessment to distinguish the two types of ‘spiritual languor’: one stems from particular cultural situations, the other from the very nature of what it means to be human (an incomplete, if marvelous being, dwelling in an incomplete world that is simultaneously comprised of the Mono-planar realities of this-world and the Multi-planar intimations of a world/existence Beyond).

Why go to the trouble? Because the this-worldly languor might well be addressed by making adjustments in the this-worldly surround; whereas the existential languor cannot be eliminated by government or social action and rather must be accepted and maturely incorporated into one’s Stance toward life. A government, thus, that took as its writ the elimination of all such languor whatsoever would be increasingly expanding its writ and authority in a this-worldly sense, but remain forever unable to achieve its promised objective.

And no constitutional republic can survive a government authority forever expanding and intensifying but equally forever failing to achieve its visions, and demanding that the nation travel just a while further down the flat road nonetheless.

Thus, “sickened by what they saw as the spiritual languor of the age, members of the avant-garde convinced themselves that the status quo could be easily ripped down like an aging curtain and just as easily replaced with a vibrant new tapestry”. (p.133)

When you are dealing not only with an existential, Multi-planar element of the Beyond and of fundamental incompleteness that is of the essence of the human, but also with making deep changes to profound cultural and societal (and with the Progressives, political) foundations … when you are dealing with all that, there is nothing easy or blithe or simply-glorious about it: the tasks you have undertaken are of a first-order seriousness, and it is immoral (there, I’ve said it) to simply start whacking and hacking away, in the cheeribly sure and certain knowledge that whatever follows – intended or unintended – can only be better and Good.

Thus JG will concur with Richard Pipes’s assertion that Bolshevism and Fascism were each and both “twinned heresies of Marxism. Both sought to impose socialism of one sort or another, erase class differences, and repudiate the decadent democratic-capitalist systems of the West”. (p.139)

I would note here that “democratic-capitalist”: where the two systems, one political and one economic, are so deeply enmeshed, you can’t easily whack away one without doing damage to the other. Which is precisely the ominous reality ignored by socialists and Progressives: in trying to eradicate capitalism, they did grave damage to democracy as well.*****

All of the ‘isms’ of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were – JG quotes Eric Vogelin – “premised on the idea that men could create utopias through the rearrangement of economic forces and political will”. (p.139) And all that has happened in the more recent era of the past forty years is to add the rearrangement of cultural and social forces and structures as well.

And thus the core Struggle of the past century has been merely one between left-wing and right-wing socialists, with “all camps subscribed to some hybridized version of Marxism, some bastardization of the Rousseauian dream of a society governed by a general will”. (p.139)

And, of course, since there is actually no such thing as the ‘general will’ actually existing on the hoof, then it’s up to somebody – the government, advised by the Progressive-socialists, preferably – to say just what that ‘general will’ is. We see this dynamic at play in the viva voce political ploy: the Chair asks for all the Yeas to say Yea, and for all the Nays to say Nay – but it is the Chair that gets to say which group was, in its own estimation, the loudest. Such democracy.

And JG raises the example of Huey Long, who was so essentially a fascist (in the guise of a populist) because of his “contempt for the rules of democracy” – which Long spun, famously, as a virtue: “The time has come for all good men to rise above principle”. (p.144)

There is a difference, I say again, between outmoded dogmas and principles, especially first principles. The former are approaches erected into standard operating procedures that may – may – have become “inadequate to the stormy present” (to use Lincoln’s phrase). But the latter are vital Grounding and Shaping foundational beliefs that cannot be altered any more easily than you can rip out and replace the keel of a ship at sea or the airframe of an airliner in the air.

To try to rip out the first-principles is not proof of one’s ‘genius’ and ‘transgressive creativity’ but rather is the sign of an almost criminally witless and treacherous imbecility.

Long was also “absolutely convinced that he was the voice of the people”. (p.144) But in the Framing Vision The People don’t need a ‘voice’ in the form of a Great Man or his ‘leadership’ because The People – each of the Citizens – has a voice.

And I think it is precisely to finesse this difficulty that current American ‘liberalism’ places so much rhetorical emphasis on ‘giving [fill in the blank] a voice’. That voice has to be either a Great Man (or Woman) or an organized vanguard-elite ‘advocacy’ or both. But in either case, that ‘voice’ will speak only those lines determined by the Great One or by the party-line of the vanguard advocacy.

Thus neither Fascists nor Communists nor Nazis required ‘democracy’ because their Great One (Mussolini, Lenin/Stalin, Hitler) embodied the ‘voice’ and ‘will’ of the masses.

But whatever that ‘voice’ will say, it will trumpet the “exhaustion” of traditional ideas and first-principles and the structures that they undergird.

And – the carrot – there will always be an oft-voiced concern for “the forgotten man” (or woman) and for “youth”. (p.144)

The scam will be: since you have been victimized and forgotten by the government (especially your Western democratic government) then the Great One – scooping up all the reins of government power and authority – will put government to work for you and give you the recognition you deserve. And the Great One will never become ‘exhausted’; and there will be no need for another revolution “for a thousand years”, to use Hitler’s undying phrase.

Nor will you need intermediaries between you and your government: the Great One will hear and feel you (Hitler actually uses this trope: “I cannot see all of you, but I can feel you and you can feel me” … it must have been as quease-making a comment in Germany of the 1930s as it sounds now … and yet We have seen it and heard it here far more recently.)

So no need for the ‘exhausted’ mechanisms of representative democracy, then.

And even American Communist Norman Thomas observed: to what extent can you expect to have the economics of fascism without its politics? (p.148) Of course, the same goes for his beloved Communism.

Because it will take strong centralized (ideologically as well as administratively) government, interpreting the general will of the masses as it sees fit, to rearrange or redistribute the national economics.

As I have said before, the only interesting twist in recent American politics is that the Beltway indentured itself not only to the Left, but to the Right: the Left was given entitlements and through intensifying regulations and policies various special considerations and the expansion of the illusory ‘wealth’ of credit; the Right – Big Money and Big Capital – was given the increasingly un-regulated opportunity to amass actual wealth for itself.

And here We are.


*Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism. Doubleday: New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-385-51184-1 (hard cover). It’s also out in paperback.

**Of course, in the era of Identity Revolution, beginning in 1968 or 1972 at the latest, the government took part of FDR’s approach – we are going to be trying a whole lot of odd new stuff – but not the rest of FDR’s approach – if it doesn’t work we’ll stop it and try something else.

Instead, desperately indenturing themselves to fresh political demographics, the Beltway pols intended to continue on their initial path no matter what happened; and when their initial efforts didn’t bear the promised glorious-fruit, they simply doubled-down, decade after decade. While, as I have often said, those same pols increasingly indentured themselves to the Right’s corporatist financial interests.

Thus the country now finds itself lethally bethumped by both a new Leviatha of the Left and the old Leviathan of the Right. And thus, as Scripture saith, our last condition is worse than the first.

***The profound wrack and ruin caused by the Great Depression would have worked in any case toward softening the public’s own sense of prudence, in the desperation engendered by the economic mess. But in the late-1960s and early-1970s the ‘crises’ were far less vital and indeed were possessed of a strong flavor of having been ‘created’ or ‘whomped up’ precisely to generate waves of emotion necessary to float – it was hoped – the Great Ship over the awesome rocks and shoals toward which the ‘cutting edge reforms’ and ‘revolutions’ embraced by the Beltway were taking it.

****Jut recently Slate legal commentator Dahlia Lithwick went down this same path: just as Science and Medicine don’t allow themselves to become trapped in “obsolete” practices, so too Law should not allow itself to be trapped in fuddy-duddy ‘old’ ways of conducting itself or envisioning its purpose and practice. That Law somehow participates in vital national first-principles, and that those principles are not merely ‘stale dogmas’ but are actually the non-material vital animating and structuring ideals that hold the foundations of the American polity and American culture together … this did not detain her for a moment.

And in her you can also hear echoes in the 2010s of Wilson’s blithe but forceful rejection in the 1880s of the Framing Vision embraced back in those “horse and buggy” days of 1776 and 1787.

*****It’s worth repeating myself yet again: when in the Age of Identity (1972 or so and continuing) ‘capitalism’ was joined by racism (however defined) and genderism (ditto) and victimism (ditto), democracy’s chances of surviving such multiple and pervasive ‘reform’ intact were hugely lessened. Indeed, as the radical-feminists, drawing their political philosophy from all the fonts of Marxism, insisted: there’s no use having democracy since most of The People ‘just don’t get it’ in the first place. Which takes Marx and Mussolini and Hitler and Woodrow Wilson and updates them all for the 21st century.

And it’s also stunning that whereas materialist and quasi-Marxist Charles Beard’s ‘economic’ interpretation of the Framers (i.e. they were all rich men looking to lock-out the non-rich from governance under the Constitution of 1787) claimed that democracy was undone by the Framers for ‘economic’ reasons, yet the dynamics of Gender-based political theory will seek to lock out vast swaths of the Citizenry for ‘gender’ reasons.

The neat Beltway solution to this shocker was to quietly a) weaken the ‘white male patriarchal’ Citizenry while both b) turning education into a social-indoctrination into the gender-based ideological formation while also c) embracing as many non-white and thus presumably non-patriarchal new residents (Citizenship not necessarily required) as quickly as possible.

Something for ‘everyone’.



Progressivism, American political history, American political development since the Sixties, contemporary Liberalism, socialism, fascism, Marxism


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