Thursday, August 20, 2009

Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation- Scotland Knuckles Under

Only a few days ago I posted about a thing I call savage compassion. And now Kenneth MacAskill is rationalizing the release of the convicted terrorist Libyan Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi with a new wrinkle on the concept. MacAskell, to the eternal dishonor of the Scottish people and Great Briton has said, "Our justice system demands that justice be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be shown and mercy be served."

And here is yet another perfect illustration of how “compassion” in politics is the anathema of justice.

Last year I wrote about a lone memorial not 100 yards from my house. This memorial was placed in the Newton Centre Park by the friends of a college student who grew up here. That original post was titled “A Birthday Gift for a Dead Girl!” a commemoration of her fortieth birthday. The forty-first birthday of Sarah S. B. Philipps who was murdered on flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland twenty and a half years ago was just five days ago and now her murderer is being released.

Where is the compassion for the families of the flight 103 victims?

Where is the concern for the hope that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi might be squeezed for more information about the plot and its origin in exchange for this “compassion”?

Nobody believes he did this alone- Where is the justice for the other plotters with whom Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi worked?

Where is the justice for the Libyan government for which he worked?

Where is the compassion for the victims of other terror attacks that are encouraged and validated by this travesty of compassion?

The truth is, Britain is swamped by internal Islamists and greedy for oil deals with Qaddaffi’s Libya. But instead of admitting their cowardly and selfish motivations for not just rehabilitating Qaddafi, but positively fawning and cringing over him, they couch in the deadly language of "compassion". It puts me in mind of a Robert Burns Poem (made into a great song by Steeleye Span) about Scottish dishonor in another century. Here is my updated version of the original.

A Parcel of Rogues in a Nation

Farewell to all our Scottish fame,

Farewell our ancient glory!

Farewell even to the Scottish name.

So famed in martial story!

Now Islam runs over
Salway sands,
And terror runs to the ocean,

To mark where Mohammed's province stands -

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue

Through many warlike ages

Is wrought now by a coward few

For hireling traitor's wages.

The Islamist terror we could disdain,

Secure in valour's station;

But Lybian Oil has been our bane -

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O, would, or I had seen the day

That Treason thus could sell us,

My old grey head had lain in clay
With Bruce and loyal Wallace!

But pith and power, till my last hour

I will make this declaration :

'Our honor is soiled by Libyan Oil'-

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Warning to Republicans- We are Not Doing This for You!

Not so fast, Republican scum. This is not just about how the American public is discovering that the Democrats have deceived them. We are looking at you too.

We hate the greed, the lies, and the naked hypocrisy. Most of all though, it is that arrogant, self-congratulatory air of moral, social and intellectual superiority we can’t abide. There isn’t a tenth of the senators or congressmen on either side of the aisle, in Washington, who I don’t hate. Yes, I mean hate. I loathe those politicians. I despise the president. I think a lot of people are feeling the same way.

I especially despise the knee-jerk partisans who publicly display their ignorance by lowering the general level of discourse with snide and derisive comments about those with whom they disagree. Don’t call us “a mob” just because you’ve been ignoring us so effectively that we have to shout to be heard. We will not silence ourselves. And don’t think, just because you may be against the health care bill, that we are going to give you a pass. That sound you hear in the town hall meetings about health care is not the agitation of a partisan mob and it is not (at least not yet) the howl of a revolutionary rabble. If you look closely, you will see that it is every day people who are realizing and beginning to articulate that they are feeling betrayed.

I have been sitting and holding my tongue since the election of Barack Obama. I have been praying that our well-intentioned friends on the left were right and that I was wrong about the dangerous nature of the Obama victory. Now I find that there are many things worse than discovering you were wrong about the candidate you didn’t support and one of the very worst of them is happening right now.

The realization has been creeping in on me that not only had I been right to fear calamity in an Obama Presidency, but I was also wrong about the possibility that there might arise, in Washington, an honorable, intelligent and respectable opposition to the dreadful policies, empty rhetoric, pseudo-intellectual post-modernism, reckless “change-aholism” and idolatrous personality worship.

No, that sound that the Mainstream News Media is doing its best to filter out and cast in a prejudicial light is the sound of people waking up from the dream of being held in the warm embrace of a motherly and progressive government that wants to make everything “all right” and realizing that they have been encircled in the cold embrace of the mother of all boa constrictors- The Progressive Left. It is the cry of people who have finally found their resistance to the personal charm and political capital of the new administration and realized that if there is any hope of stopping the slow but inexorable strangulation that is already under way, they must act with passion and urgency. Like me, they are not just disappointed; they are in despair and futile rage.

Let me be perfectly clear:
I don’t just hate the stupid arrogance and messianic self-satisfaction of the Obama presidency; I hate the sickeningly ineffective and concupiscent faux conservatives on the other side even more. Both sides have betrayed their voters, their own natures and the promise of the American experiment in self-government.

Our President, charming, slick, loquacious and calculating though he is, could not help, in a few obvious gaffes, giving us enough unguarded moments through which to glimpse the size and darkness of the betrayal.
It was not, for example, just his initial knee-jerk, Community Organizer reaction in which he famously said that the "police had acted stupidly". That was bad enough. The smarmy "beer summit" with officer Crowley was, to me, even more of a symptom of his sub-rosa contempt for the middle class values and general class prejudice.

It amazes me, in retrospect, that no one that I am aware of has yet observed that inviting an Irish cop over to your formal rose garden, when you are accustomed to $100.00-a-pound steak, is the nearest thing in America today to the insensitivity of inviting a black guy over and serving him Fried Chicken and Watermelon. It is the way in which insufferable elites treat those they hold in amused contempt.

Likewise, the example he used earlier in that same verbose, slow-motion train-wreck of a press conference, in which he attempted to create the impression that family physicians are liable to drum up extra revenues by doing unnecessary tonsillectomies to the detriment of their patients and the economy. Leaving aside my original reaction to this, which is that I suspected that this might be a veiled reference to the heavy Jewish representation in the medical profession. I have come to realize, though, that it is not the anti-Semitic caricature of Jewish doctors doing unnecessary tonsillectomies that The President was after here, it’s actually a kind of classism.

This has not happened overnight. There are those who have written about this time in American history as class warfare but it is subtler than that. In today’s America, the class system has been twisted and spliced into a kind of Mobius Strip in which what we used to think of as the Upper Class has joined in common cause with what used to be referred to as The Poor. The confederation of these two constituencies, that used to occupy the polar extremes of the class spectrum, has warped the socio-economic plane on which America has always provided the most equal opportunity and freest marketplace of ideas in the world.

The public (the real people) has been slow catching on. Affirmative Action did not sufficiently alarm the working people and middle class. They allowed themselves to be lulled and co-opted when money market and mutual funds gave them the impression that, someday, they might live without actual labor and creativity in the style of the moneyed, coupon-clipping upper class. The nationalization of the Automobile Industry was slipped by them in a fog of urgency. They saw the value of their homes degraded by a crisis in mortgages that were intentionally sold without the time-honored requirements and caution so that “those less fortunate” could also have homes of their own.

The feelings and “dignity” of The Poor, in fact, supply the muscular grip for The Progressive Movement which has always been a cause born of privilege and upper class pretension. The chief distinction of the upper class is that they do not “need” to work. They can live their accustomed lifestyle merely by looking after their interests. As witnessed by the make up of the houses of congress and the Whitehouse which have come to resemble nothing so much as Ivy league clubhouses for those born to the upper class and the few fortunate tokens who they have raised up by affirmative action and so fully indoctrinated into the progressive fraternity that they cannot see that they are dupes. They are so progressive that they believe that self-defeating, divisive dogmas like the Black Value System vaunted by Barack Obama’s Chicago Church are positive and constructive not poison pills that will only perpetuate the racial divide and defeat successive generations of young black people. The alliance between the two great occupationless classes one living off the efforts (and sometimes crimes- as in the Kennedys) of earlier generations and the other swilling at the public trough (welfare recipients, political appointees, most of the news media, much of academia) has combined many disparate groups and turned them into a many-headed serpent that knows only to squeeze harder on the diminishing majority of people who work, create and earn livings in spite of the mounting pressure.

It would not be accurate to call the insidious, snide, condescending negation of middle class values a war on the middle class. It is almost never a warlike state. Only the occasional savagery (like the assault on Sarah Palin) rises to anything akin to war. There is just the constant tightening of the counter-cultural squeeze that mocks ambition, sneers at business acumen, recoils from value judgments and belittles even the healthiest of self-interest.

There is a deep prejudice in liberal circles against those who "sully their hands" with trade, profit and useful functions. The taxonomy of what makes a member of this new hybrid “occupationless” class needs to be worked out but it appears to have a great deal to do with those who spend the majority of their (working) time doing things that “look after their interests”, denying reality and jockeying for position than coming up with original ideas, making (verifiable) scientific discoveries, moving objects from one place to another, making anything useful, protecting society from itself or creating value of any kind.

I remember the horror amongst the room full of anthropology students I was asked to address a few years after I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree. A professor with whom I had maintained a relationship had asked me to come to a career night and tell them about my path after graduation. I told them about my experience with Affirmative Action and how I had found interest and satisfaction outside of academia. I spoke of how, having studied Anthropology, I felt that my understanding of people and life was enhanced and that whatever career they chose (or chose them) they would be well served by the education in humanity they were receiving. Looking at people Anthropologically was a great tool, not just for understanding the human condition but for understanding and serving people’s needs.
There were several graduate students in the room who were outraged by my tale.

In the ensuing rant, I was all but driven from the room. I don’t recall the exact words but, thirty years later I still feel the emotional temperature. I was informed that no one there had any interest in any career other than study, teaching and research and that the proper uses of Anthropology did not include anything remotely to do with making money in a direct way. They did not use the words “middle class” or “bourgeois” but they hung heavy in the air nonetheless. It was my first direct experience with this particular kind of class consciousness which I will call “occupationalism”. The bottom line is that if you work for a living, you are not one of us.

So now the actual workers, thinkers and producers are on the verge of realizing that The Democrat Party (that they used to think of as the working-man’s party) has become the party where the Upper Class and The Poor have come together under the progressive banner to squeeze them within an inch of their lives and that The Republican Party (that they used to think of as the party of the rich) has lost its way among the debris of the Bush years of “Compassionate Conservatism”- essentially a defenseless wreckage. If we are going to avoid a class war, it is up to one of these parties to come to its senses and re-adopt real values and actual work.

The first step is to recognize and reaffirm the dignity of real work and actual values, to stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks and begin behaving like America again. Get out of the boardroom and the examining room. To hell with compassion! Let’s create opportunity. Forget the opinion poll results, lead with conviction and reason. Tell the government to provide us with law, order and safety and stay out of the way- we will do the rest. We are the ones who never stopped working and all we want is the chance to continue unobstructed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hey, Tovarish! Turn Yourself in for Re-education!

The Obama administration shows its true colors more each day. Now they are asking their dwindling cadre of cultists to report back to the mother ship on any independent (or as they call it “fishy”) opposition. It may seem unbelievable but here is a link to the actual White House Blog that calls for informers to turn in their email buddies and randomly visited bloggers.

Well, last night I posted a link to my essay on Blame, Virtue and Evil at Victor Davis Hanson’s blog at PJM and while reading through the other comments there I ran across one that had an idea I think we should all help out with. Commenter TLM wrote:
“…Don’t bother forwarding this to . I have already reported myself and plan to do so every day until the government takes down that ridiculous un-American site. You would do better to inform your masters that Americans are angry regarding this legislation because they no longer trust their government…”

I am doing the same. I think anyone who believes in free speech and a government that governs openly and without intimidating citizens who disagree with the executive branch, should do the same. We do not yet have a Gulag in America but reporting each other to the government for unclean thoughts is the first step in the process.

Where are all the progressives who called George W. Bush Bushitler Now?
Here is the email address to turn yourself in:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blame, Virtue and Evil

In my recent post, entitled A Most Savage Compassion, I compared Classical Liberalism with Progressive Liberalism. Citing my personal experience with affirmative action, I worked at showing how the “new” “progressive” values of Compassion, Selflessness and “the Good of Mankind” and a systematic effort ot increase the size and power of government have been advanced by The Progressive movement to undermine and replace the founding American value of each person taking personal responsibility for the individual pursuit happiness within a system that set out to guarantee only life and liberty. Progressives advocate incrementally replacing the responsibility and discretion of individuals with a manipulative, centralized authority of “experts” and “agencies” to manipulate and coerce individual behavior. I think I made it clear that I believe this is a very bad bargain.

It is manifest, though, that American liberals have been shifting from the classical toward the progressive viewpoint for many years. Ronald Reagan observed this shift more than thirty years ago. Regan, when asked why he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican was heard more than once to say, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party; my party left me".

Which posses an interesting question. Since, America was founded on the idea that individuals, given the safety and opportunity, will make choices and live lives that perpetuate the common sense and enlightened self-interest that were the guiding principals of the founders how is it that Classical Liberalism is so easily giving way to Progressivism even as they claim to represent “American values”?

It is vital to understand how this shift is being achieved. First, let us remember why they call themselves “progressive”.

The sort of “progress” that is implied in the name Progressivism is actually a very un-American elitist fantasy in which The Progressive imagines that all people are equally ethical, trustworthy and basically good and that all cultures are likewise equally good and moral and that given the right information and presentation would agree with and submit to the Progressive agenda. As we have seen, this is opposed to and incompatible with the founding assumptions of the American republic.

That agenda assumes that normal human ambition, lust, acquisitiveness, anger and violence, either do not really exist or can be talked, legislated, educated or punished out of existence- not just subjugated or tamed, mind you, but eliminated entirely. The deepest and most redeeming wisdom of the founding fathers of America is that they had the spiritual depth and political intelligence to understand that those dark urges are every bit as universal in the human heart as are the selflessness, reason, empathy and light on which the progressives pin their hopes and it is no good getting rid of old tyrannies unless checks and balances are built into the political structure that guard against new ones arising.

The idea of progressivism, however well intentioned and idealistic, is dangerous. It would require an entire civilization of lobotomized and neutered drones, to bring about that end stage progressive society, in which human evil is expunged, into being. And yet, somehow, the progressive agenda is making real headway in America. The fulcrum of the progressive movement is the universal human need to blame and the lever is our need to think of ourselves as virtuous.

The progressive attack on the status quo begins with an emotional attack in which perceived cultural ills and social suffering are blamed on classical liberal institutions. The blame might attempt a specific causal connection such as the progressive attack on corporate greed, blaming capitalism for poverty and suffering or the Progressive’s support for the undemocratic Arab Jihad against Israel in which they accuse her of being the sole barrier to peace because of oppressive behavior and/or stealing Arab land by building the anti-terror wall. Or it might be more diffuse and inexact, like the accusations against the Bush administration for “fascist” intentions and thuggish behavior (see “BushHitler”) or the bland and nonsensical assertion that nobody should lack health care in the richest nation on earth. However the attack is couched, it is mostly done without any analysis on or respect paid to the actual cause of the suffering or ills.

In the world according to progressivism, blame, divorced from understanding or causality always trumps reason and evidence. The emotional content behind fixing blame for an event or condition works against the ability to observe and analyze the facts of the situation dispassionately and determine the cause with accuracy. Without understanding blame is a lie and a danger. The progressive agenda is based on one of the oldest and most destructive lies known to the human race. Last fall, in my post Who is to Blame for Evil, I quoted René Girard from his book Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World:
"When we describe human relations, we lie. We describe them as normally good, peaceful and so forth, whereas in reality they are competitive, in a war-like fashion." In these two short sentences Girard has pointed out the most important mistake of progressivism.

In the citadels of the progressive elites in America where Postmodernism has the most sway (Academia, The Mainstream Media the Liberal Political Elite) it has become standard practice to blame the capitalism, the military, the police, religion, the constitutional guarantees that insure the sanctity of the individual (free speech and the right to bear arms) and other social and cultural institutions for fuzzy edged but emotionally charged ills like “poverty”, “racism”, “sexism” “suffering” and “inequality” in order to distract attention from the “competitive and war-like” nature of human relations and thus maintain and perpetuate the lie of “normal goodness”. They do this because they know that without the lie of ‘normal goodness” the acid bath of relativism (and the anomie it causes) that has corroded the confidence, self-reliance, responsibility and individualism of the enlightenment quest for objectivity and knowledge looses its strength.

The problem is that capitalism, the military, the police, religion and the constitutional guarantees of free speech and the right to bear arms are the very things that best protect and relieve us from those ills and dangers. It is like the man who only sees a physician when he is sick and so comes to blame doctors and hospitals for his illness. Which came first, the doctor or the illness? If there were no disease, there would be no doctors. If human relationships were devoid of competition and violence there would be no such thing as government, police, military or philosophy.

The progressive left blames our government for any deficit of human rights or for civil disorder- both of which are reflections of the very things they were created to prevent- or at least manage. While all governments, economic systems and religions are blame worthy, only the anarchist will find satisfaction in stopping there- and relativism is the avatar of anarchy. If no system is any better than any other system and no cultural mores more civilized than any other, then what is the use of defending any standard of behavior at all?

All forms of government put their trust in one or another way of neutralizing or channeling the best and the worst of the individual. Monarchy depends upon the purity of “The Good King” to decree peace and order while winning the love of his subjects. Theocracy looks to one man (or group of men) who claim to deliver the edict of God on earth. In a totalitarian regime, as Hannah Arendt wrote, “everyone, including (in theory, anyway) the dictator, can be sacrificed in the name of a superhuman law, a law of nature or a law of history…Totalitarianism (and there was never a totalitarian state that was not socialist) strives not toward despotic rule over men but toward a system in which men are superfluous.” Only republican democracy grants the individual the freedom to assume responsibility for his own actions and only capitalism gives the individual the opportunity to play an active role in determining his own stake in society and worth in the marketplace.

So why do the progressive accusations of blame against America seem valid? In fact many of them are, but only in a superficial way. It is quite true, for instance, that there are egregious abuses of the capitalist economy. Bankers take advantage of their power, stock brokers manipulate information, CEO’s bilk stockholders and companies abuse their workers. But these are less failures of the capitalist system than they are proof that people are not all good and will never behave perfectly no matter how perfect the system they live within.

This is the devastating power behind Rule 4 in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:
“Make opponents live up to their own book of rules… You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

Alinsky was right, he was a radical and had no progressive illusions. He knew that using this tactic ruthlessly is the gateway to nihilism and anarchy. Progressives are far more dangerous because they have the illusion that by offering un-researched theory and unproven but “compassionate” policies to replace proven policies that have been circumvented makes them liberal.

Alinsky’s Rule Number 10 (The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”) limited his appeal to American Liberals who, at least, understood that you cannot tear down the existing structures of life without an alternative structure to propose without declaring yourself an anarchist.

And the Progressive alternative is the combination of Compassion, Selflessness and “The Good of Mankind” armed with these three virtues, even the most pathetic socialist panderings can be made to look like real policies. Here is the argument for implementing a sweeping change and authorizing massive and detailed government intervention is health care:

Health care reform may or may not be a good idea but what “nice person” could possibly stand up to this emotional extortion? This is exactly the formula that brought us the welfare system that destroyed so many American families. It created (with a huge assist from venal bankers and brokers) the mortgage disaster of 2008. It was the irresistible force behind the passage of the grotesquely bloated stimulus package even though no single human being had ever read all of it or understood much of it. And it is now fueling the pressure being applied for the healthcare reform bill that President Obama tells us “must be passed”.

Or else what? Or else we will still have the best health care in the world but we will feel less virtuous and compassionate. The bind the progressive wants us to believe that to be opposed to the Progressive agenda, is to be without virtue, that by asking questions or making observations, you stand in the way of a more compassionate, selfless and better future for all of mankind. It puts you just a short step away from inhumanity and justifiable homicide. Just think about the vilification and character assassination of BushHitler, Cheney and Palin.

If you want to be counted as a good person, or a moral nation, everything you do has to fit the template of Compassion, Selflessness and “the good of mankind”. But the aggression and anger does not go away it just sublimates and gets expressed in other ways. As I pointed out in A Most Savage Compassion, “Virtue is more than a sham- it is the prim, ruthless face of coercion. It is aimed outward, at others, as a self-justification; an accusation and, above all, a yearning for Utopia.” Small wonder that progressives exhibit such self destructive, and cultural deconstructive rage against their own culture and people- they can’t express rage outward so it turns inward.

"Virtue" acts as an autoimmune disorder in which the body politick’s defenses are destroyed by progressivism which eats away the natural defenses from the inside while it encourages the external enemies to feast on the outside.

Progressive cant has it that the murderous stories of the bible, the piles of skeletal bodies of concentration camp victims, the American slave trade, The Inquisition and The Crusades, The 1,500 year Jihad of world conquest by Islam with its forced conversions, massacres, beheadings, stonings and honor killings are proof that the most hideous atrocities of human history have been committed because of Nation, Business or Religion that without those institutions, those things would never have happened. The truth is that evil things happen in spite of whatever Government, Business and Religion is in charge; evil happens because, as it is written in the bible, “the inclination in man's heart is evil from his youth.”

The heart of evil may be man’s, the blind assertion that people (humanity) are basically good may be the soul of evil but the progressive presumption that the pretense to Compassion, Selflessness and “the good of mankind” is by itself virtuous and the ultimate answer to evil, in the face of three and a half millennia of evidence to the contrary, is the strong right arm of evil. This is not even the deadly subterfuge of a Trojan Horse, it is the cowardly traitor who lets down the castle’s drawbridge in the dead of night and delivers his slumbering fellows into the hands of the enemy. And the enemy (whether in the form of Jihadist, moral disintegration or cultural decline) is not restrained by any such virtue.