Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Corrupting Christianity and distorting history to justify communism

original article: There is no ‘Catholic case for communism’
July 25, 2019 by Rev. Ben Johnson

 

On Tuesday, America magazine published an apology for Communism that would have been embarrassing in Gorbachev-era Pravda. “The Catholic Case for Communism” minimizes Marxism’s intensely anti-Christian views, ignores its oppression and economic decimation of its citizens, distorts the bulk of Catholic social teaching on socialism, and seemingly ends with a call to revolution.

While author Dean Detloff claims to own Marxism’s “real and tragic mistakes,” he downplays these to the point of farce. He admits, without elaboration, that “Communism in its socio-political expression has at times caused great human and ecological suffering.” That seems a rather anodyne way to describe decades of imperialismcensorship, and torture; the Gulag archipelago, reeducation camps designed to eradicate the victim’s entire personality, and the systematic industrial slaughter of 100 million people (and still counting in North Korea, China, and Cuba).

In this America essay, the plight of Communism’s victims is reduced to the level of “ecological suffering.”

Similarly, Detloff obfuscates about Communism’s hatred of religion in general and Christianity in particular. He will allow only that Marxist-Leninists “were committed Enlightenment thinkers, atheists who sometimes assumed religion would fade away in the bright light of scientific reason, and at other times advocated propagandizing against it.”

Had Communists restricted themselves to propaganda, they would have failed before taking power rather than 70 years afterward. The Bolsheviks murdered 2,691 Russian Orthodox priests, 1,962 monks, and 3,447 nuns in 1922 alone. Detloff obliquely admits Communists persecuted religious people “at different moments in history” – apparently the Marxist equivalent of “some people did something.” In reality, Communist persecution of the Church was near-universal. The same cycle unwound in Spain, Hungary, AlbaniaNorth Korea, and Xi Jinping’s China. Its boot has fallen on the necks of such luminaries as Cardinal Mindszenty, Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, and an obscure Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla.

Before taking Christian lives, the Communists took their property. Lenin wrote secretly in 1922 that the Politburo must use the Bolshevik-inspired famine as cover to “confiscate all church property with all the ruthless energy we can still muster.” He understood, better than Christians, that without property the Church has no earthly self-defense. Wealth gives its holder agency – which is to say, liberty.

Detloff attempts to reassure his readers that Communists will only despoil “the rich,” not common people. Abolishing private property does not mean the Red Guard will confiscate “the kinds of things an artisan or farmer might own” but only “the kind of private property that most of us do not have”: businesses, capital goods, etc. This assumes that universal human rights depend on one’s class. It overlooks the sacking of Church property, the only opulence most peasants ever saw – property that was truly preserved in common for scores of generations.

More importantly, it again ignores the bloody pages of Communist history. Stalin sent soldiers door-to-door to confiscate all food, utensils – even pets – before starving six million Ukrainians to death in the Holodomor. Had Detloff been writing 100 years ago, he may be deemed gullible. But with a century of history to draw on, it is hard for Detloff – a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Christian Studies – to plead ignorance.

Yet in his telling, “Catholics and communists have found natural reasons to offer one another a sign of peace.” Detloff’s cites as proof the fact that numerous Communist organizations (all of which he helpfully links for America readers) allow Christian fellow travelers to work toward Marxist ends,“Christians have been passionately represented in communist and socialist movements around the world,” and some Marxist leaders were former seminarians. (Was Josef Stalin less murderous because he was once an Orthodox seminarian, or Khrushchev because he memorized virtually all four Gospels?)

This is rather like the seductress who estranges a man from his family, then boasts about her connection to his ex-wife. Marxism lured Catholics away from the Christian faith into a false religion.

The Roman Catholic Church’s unbroken teaching condemns all forms of Marxism and Communism. Pope Pius XI wrote in Quadragesimo Anno that “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”

“See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived!” he wrote. “Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever.”

Nonetheless, Detloff argues that Catholics should promote Marxism (and, implicity, that they should ignore the Magisterium), because “Communism has provided one of the few sustainable oppositions to capitalism,” which is – he asseverates – “an economic system based on avarice, exploitation and human suffering.”

“Sustainable” may not accurately describe an economic system that collapsed in an ash heap after 70 years of bread lines and mass starvation. The economic implosion of every Marxist experiment in human history seems to have passed him by. So does its concentration of all wealth into the hands of state functionaries, its endless class warfare, its history of assigning jobs irrespective of individual choice, and its requirement that all curry the good favor of the political class for (a better chance at) survival.

Presumably, those were “not real socialism.” Yet contemporary Marxists believed the regimes were socialist at the time. One can only tell a regime is not practicing “real” socialism after it fails, the same way that Puritans could only tell a woman was innocent of witchcraft after she drowned.

The free market brings people from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds together in harmonious relationships. It requires people to serve others by providing goods or services they want to buy. Capitalism indisputably generates more wealth and better living conditions for the poor than those living under socialism. And it leaves the worker the fruits of his or her labor and, with it, choice and dignity.

The America piece ends with a call to overthrow this system – and replace it with the greatest system of oppression ever devised – and contains a possible incitement to violence. Detloff’s press release began by quoting a Dorothy Day article, “It is when the Communists are good that they are dangerous” – because she warns their humanitarian-sounding lead Catholics astray, persecute the Church, and even kill protesters by throwing bricks. Detloff concludes by saying, “It is when the communists are dangerous that they are good” – an apparent call to revolution in the pages of America. After all it was Karl Marx, not Lenin, who wrote that “there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.” The fact that this violates Catholic doctrine seems, also, to have eluded America. Otherwise, the editor may have challenged any one of these violations of Catholic social teaching or inversions of reality.

Detloff is counting on the historical ignorance of his readers, and he likely counts right. Communist atrocities are not taught in public schools or universities. That class time is reserved for the evils of national socialism and the depridations of America’s founders.

But Detloff also assumes ignorance of Catholic teaching, with whichAmerica‘s editors should be conversant. There is scant evidence that they are, given the publication of this dishonest puff piece about the most murderous ideology of the twentieth century.

communism, corruption, economics, government, history, ideology, liberalism, progressive, religion, socialism

Filed under: communism, corruption, economics, government, history, ideology, liberalism, progressive, religion, socialism

Getting Real About Reparations

original article: Getting Real About Reparations by Roger D. McGrath
May 24, 2019 the Larry Elder Show

42 Chronicles
SINS OF OMISSION Roger D. McGrath
Getting Real About Reparations

The call for slavery reparations is reverberating throughout the land once again. It will be entertaining to watch the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 position themselves on this topic. They must know the very idea is irrational and entirely impractical, but at the same time they will worry that one candidate or another will endorse the idea and leave them outflanked.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has already introduced a bill that would create a commission to study the issue of reparations. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes the idea of reparations not only for American blacks but also, not surprisingly, for American Indians. She must be counting on her share of the largesse for her possible 1/1024th Cherokee heritage. California Sen. Kamala Harris thinks reparations might be a course of action to help lift blacks out of poverty. Former Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, like Cory Booker, wants a commission to study the issue. Former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro is out in front of them all, declaring monetary reparations should be issued to those who have slave ancestors. “If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property?” he asked CNN host Jake Tapper.

There’s a tacit assumption in all this: The U.S. government—i.e., the American taxpayer— is the one who should be paying the reparations. The U.S. government, however, never owned any slaves. Moreover, the U.S. government fought a war, though not initiated to abolish slavery, which ended the evil practice. The casualty figures for the Union forces are staggering, upwards of 400,000 killed and probably 300,000 wounded. Now descendants of these dead and maimed soldiers are, through taxation, supposed to pay descendants of the slaves freed by those same soldiers. Black slavery was established in North America long before there was a United States.

The U.S. didn’t come into being until 1788 when the Constitution was ratified. People who talk about “250 years of slavery,” whether they know it or not, are not talking about the United States. Slavery existed in the United States for only 77 years. Before that was the brief period of the Confederation government and the Continental Congress, and before that we were the British North American colonies. The 250-year claim comes from the sale of a handful of African slaves in 1619 in the British colony of Virginia. The slaves were sold by the captain of an English privateer, sailing under Dutch authority, which intercepted and captured a Portuguese slave ship in the Caribbean en route from Africa to Mexico. The captain knew better than to try to sell the slaves at an island port in the Caribbean and instead sailed north to Virginia. But this was not a typical event.

European slavers normally purchased slaves at a port in equatorial West Africa from a tribal chieftain in exchange for rum and other European trading goods. Africans most often were enslaved as a consequence of losing a war to a more powerful tribe or being captured in a raid—or being sold by their own families to cover debts. One could say European slave traders, and later Americans, who were engaged in the despicable business never enslaved anyone but merely changed the location of enslavement. Logic would therefore suggest that reparations be sought from the descendants of the more powerful tribes of equatorial West Africa, who attacked and enslaved their weaker neighbors mercilessly.

The best evidence suggests Africans had been enslaving each other for thousands of years by the time Europeans arrived on African shores. By then, Arabs had been trading for slaves from equatorial West Africa for several hundred years. Instead of loading slaves onto ocean-going ships, Arab slavers took them up the Niger River or on overland trails to Timbuktu, the point of departure for caravans that crossed the Sahara Desert to Egypt and other points east.

Europeans transported slaves in the opposite direction, westward across the Atlantic to South America, especially Brazil, and to the Caribbean and Central America. Only a small minority of the slaves came to the British North American colonies. Yet, the largest population of blacks in the Western Hemisphere today is in the U.S. There’s a reason for that. The voyage to Brazil was relatively quick and easy, making slaves there fairly inexpensive, which meant they were expendable. The opposite was the case for the voyage to Virginia.

Slaves were expensive and became more so when American participation in the international slave trade was ended in 1808, as required by the Constitution. Slaves were far better fed, clothed, housed, and treated medically on these shores than they were in other places, particularly Brazil, simply because an owner would lose a bundle of money should a slave die. None of this is to condone or justify slavery in the American colonies or later in the U.S., but it is to say that the treatment of slaves varied greatly in the Americas, and given the abominable institution, the planters of the Old South were generally far more concerned with the welfare of their slaves than were their counterparts elsewhere. This concern did not extend to white laborers, who were hired when a job was considered too exhausting or too dangerous for a black slave.

Frederick Law Olmstead, the architect of New York’s Central Park, traveled throughout the South on the eve of the Civil War and was surprised to find, again and again, that Irishmen were used instead of slaves for the work of draining swampland, felling trees, digging ditches, quarrying rock, and clearing forests because “it was much better to have Irish do it, who cost nothing to the planter if they died, than to use up good field-hands in such severe employment.”

At a landing on the Alabama River, Irish deckhands caught and stowed heavy bales of cotton after they had come hurtling down a long chute from a towering bluff. When Olmstead asked why slaves were not doing the work, the ship’s captain replied, “The niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard, or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything!”

The death rate among Irish laborers was shocking and had been for several decades before Olmstead toured the South. The New Basin Canal, which connected New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain, was built by Irish labor during the 1830’s. The Irish workmen dug the canal with hand shovels, excavating more than half a million cubic yards of earth. Lacking dynamite, they used axes to fell huge bald cypress trees along the route. They were paid $20 a month and given room and board. Tyrone Power, a famous Irish actor of the period, visited his countrymen and described the scene in 1834, saying he found:

…hundreds of fine fellows labouring here beneath a sun that at this winter season was at times insufferably fierce, and amidst a pestilential swamp whose exhalations were fetid to a degree scarcely endurable even for a few moments … mid-deep in black mud … bearing  burdens it made one’s shoulders ache to look upon; exposed meantime to every change of temperature, in log huts, laid down in the very swamp. … Here they subsist on the coarsest fare … often at the mercy of a hard contractor, who wrings his profits from their blood.

More than 10,000—some estimates put the number as high as 30,000—Irish workers died in the process. They died of cholera. They died of yellow fever. They died of alligator attacks. They died of water-moccasin bites. They died in accidents. They were buried where they fell, often in mass graves. White privilege.

Meanwhile, there were more than a quarter-million free blacks in the South and nearly 4,000 of them were slavemasters who owned more than 20,000 black slaves. William Ellison, only one of several hundred black slaveholders in South Carolina, owned 63 slaves as recorded in the U.S. Census of 1860. In Charleston, 125 free blacks were slaveholders, and in Charleston City, the port city for Charleston, the largest owner of slaves was a black woman.

Black partners Justus Angel and Mistress Horry owned 84 slaves each and were notorious for slave trading. In neighboring North Carolina, 69 blacks were slaveholders. The most prominent of them was John Stanly, who owned three plantations and 163 slaves. One of dozens of black slavemasters in Maryland, Nat Butler owned a farm but made his real money from slave trading. He lured runaway slaves to his farm and then, depending on the size of the reward, either returned them to their owner or sold them to plantations in the Deep South.

The largest concentration of black slave owners was in Louisiana. Marie Metoyer owned 287 slaves and more than 1,000 acres of land. The widow C. Richards and her son P.C. Richards had 152 slaves working their sugar plantation. Antoine Dubuclet had 100 slaves on his sugar plantation. Cotton planter Auguste Donatto owned 70 slaves, as did Antoine Decuire. Verret Polen owned 69. Dozens of other blacks owned 30 or more slaves.

Every one of the 13 states and most of the major cities that would become part of the Confederacy had substantial numbers of black slaveowners. New Orleans by both  numbers and by proportion had the most. A staggering 28 percent of free blacks in the Crescent City owned slaves.

With the Civil War imminent, free blacks in New Orleans pledged their support of the Confederacy, declaring:

The free colored population of Louisiana … own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land … and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana. … They will fight for her in 1861 as they fought in 1814-1815.

Black slavemasters are omitted from most textbooks in American history or mentioned only as having bought a family member to free him. That occurred, but only in a minority of cases. Moreover, if that were the intention of the black slaveholder, why was the family member not immediately manumitted but instead listed as a slave in census data?

Also, regularly omitted in discussions of American slavery is the person who established the precedent for it all: Anthony Johnson. He was one of those slaves sold in 1619 in Virginia. By law, though, he was sold as an indentured servant. When he had served his term of indenture, he was freed and awarded with land. He became a successful tobacco farmer and bought indentured servants, both black and white, to work his land. When he refused to release black field hand John Casor from indenture, a white neighbor, for whom Casor wanted to work, supported Casor in suing for his freedom. Johnson argued Casor had never signed a contract of indenture but had always been a slave, and therefore Johnson was under no obligation to release him. In 1654 the court decided in Johnson’s favor, making him—a former black slave from Africa—the first legal slaveholder in the American colonies.

If blacks owned thousands of black slaves so, too, did American Indians. By the middle of the 1700s, various tribes, especially the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast, began to acquire black slaves. By the end of the century the Cherokee owned nearly a thousand and the Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw several thousand more. The numbers grew sharply during the early nineteenth century. When the tribes were removed to Indian Territory, mostly during the 1830s, they took thousands of black slaves with them.
Accompanying the Cherokee on their “Trail of Tears” were some 2,000 black slaves. They were put to work on Cherokee farms in the new tribal home, raising cotton, corn, and garden crops, and tending hogs and cattle. “As far as they are able … even the very poor Indians will manage to get possession of one or two negroes to perform their heavy work,” noted Henry C. Benson, a Methodist minister to the newly relocated Indians. “Indians are known to cherish an invincible disgust for manual labor.”

The tribes enacted their own slave codes that grew progressively harsher as the years of the 19th century passed. The Cherokee constitution of 1827, for example, prohibited slaves from owning property, selling goods, marrying Indians, voting, or consuming alcohol. The Cherokee subsequently adopted laws that prohibited teaching blacks to read, instituted the death penalty for a slave who raped a Cherokee, and prohibited free blacks from living within the Cherokee Nation. Slaveholders were given great latitude in dealing with their chattel property. While some masters were lenient, others were brutal. One Cherokee buried a slave alive as punishment for robbery. Other slaves were beaten to death or maimed as punishment. After a black slave killed his Choctaw master in a conspiracy of sorts, the slave and his aunt, also a slave, were tied to a wood pile and burned to death.

The Five Civilized Tribes cooperated fully with the enforcement of the fugitive slave laws, whether this meant returning slaves to white owners or to Indian slavemasters. In 1842, in an organized action, some 20 black slaves stole firearms and ran away from their Cherokee owners. Stealing horses and mules along the way, they headed south into the Creek Nation and were joined by another 15 runaway slaves. The combined group came upon a white man, James Edwards, and his Delaware Indian sidekick, Billy Wilson, who were returning some runaway slaves to the Choctaw—and killed them both. Meanwhile, a force of Cherokee and Creek, in an unusual instance of cooperation, were hot on the runaways’ trail. They captured them near the Red River. Five of the slaves were later found guilty of the murders of Edwards and Wilson and put to death. The rest were returned to their owners. What punishment they suffered is unknown.

During the antebellum decade, slavery reached its peak among the Five Civilized Tribes. The Cherokee, numbering only about 20,000 themselves, owned nearly 5,000 black slaves; the Choctaw 2,500; the Creeks 2,000; and the Chickasaw and Seminole about a thousand each. To protect their slave property, the Five Civilized Tribes, except for a few dissident factions, sided with the Confederacy when the Civil War erupted. “The war now raging,” declared the Cherokee, “is a war of Northern cupidity and fanaticism against the institution of African servitude; against the commercial freedom of the South, and against the political freedom of the States.”

Nearly 20,000 Indians from the Five Civilized Tribes served in more than a dozen Indian units in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The more prominent of the units included the Cherokee Mounted Rifles, the Thomas’ Legion of Eastern Cherokee, the Cherokee Cavalry, the Chickasaw Cavalry, the Chickasaw Infantry, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, the Choctaw Cavalry, the Creek Mounted Volunteers, and the Seminole Mounted Volunteers. In 1864 the Indian Cavalry Brigade was organized and commanded by Cherokee Nation leader Brig. Gen. Stand Watie. Watie did not surrender his brigade until June 1865, making him the last Confederate general to surrender.
American Indians not only served in the Confederate Army but also in the Confederate Congress. One of several to serve in both was Elias Cornelius Boudinot. He was a lieutenant colonel in the army, fighting in the battles of Pea Ridge, Locust Grove, and Prairie Grove, as well as the Cherokee delegate to Congress.

The 13th Amendment, ratified during the fall of 1865, abolished slavery in the U.S. as a whole but not among the Five Civilized Tribes. Although the Indians were “under the protection of the United States,” it was unclear how the Constitution applied to them. As a consequence, blacks remained as slaves in Indian Territory until July and August 1866 after the U.S. government had negotiated new treaties with the individual tribes that included specific clauses prohibiting slavery. Even then, some slaveholders among the Five Civilized Tribes didn’t comply until 1867.

Unfortunately, these complexities and uncomfortable facts of slavery in the United States are unknown to the majority of Americans today. I suspect those now talking about reparations are among them.

 culture, history, indoctrination, racism

Filed under: culture, history, indoctrination, racism

Euphemising language to sanitize killing

original article: My visit to Auschwitz reminded me why I oppose abortion
June 1, 2014 by Rebecca Frazer

“When I learn about this mass killing process and see the tools and the remains and the pictures…I block the humanity…My heart still is not accepting that each one of them was an individual, intricate, valuable, hand-crafted human being.  But my head knows.  …If I accept the humanity in my heart, what have we done?”

I journaled those words in March of this year, crouched in a bottom bunk in a hostel in Krakow, Poland.  I was not writing about abortion.  I was writing about the Holocaust—writing out of stunned pain and confusion—having spent the day touring the sprawling, well-preserved complex known as Auschwitz concentration camp, a killing machine unlike any other.  Over one million people died at Auschwitz during its five years of operation, the vast majority of them Jewish.  Ninety percent of prisoners who entered Auschwitz died, most by immediate execution in one of the camp’s five gas chambers.

I had walked through an original gas chamber, where 2,000 people could be killed in 30 minutes.  I had gazed at piles of thousands and thousands of shoes—shoes that Jewish men, women, and tiny children had removed just before entering the “showers” to be gassed to death.  I had stood three feet from black ovens with special chutes for shoving in bodies—ovens that created endless heaps of human ash.  The harsh reality—that 1.1 million people had been sanitarily, systematically, efficiently “exterminated” in the very place I had stood was literally beyond my comprehension.    I concentrated on the statistics and blocked the human faces; it was simply too painful.

I visited two other concentration camps the same week: Sachsenhausen and Dachau, both in Germany.   Sachsenhausen (located just outside of Berlin), left me equally reeling with horror.  Perhaps the most horrific part of the camp was the pathology building, where bodies had been stacked high in the basement’s white-plastered holding rooms before being hauled upstairs to be examined by doctors on white-tiled “autopsy” tables.  Each of the thousands of bodies of Sachsenhausen victims was processed through the pathology building before being cremated.  For me, standing in those deathly rooms where everything was bright and shiny white was absolutely surreal.  I was overcome by the stark realization that during the Holocaust, these killings were government-sanctioned; they were overseen by physicians; they were sanitized, euphemized, and standardized.

I gave a speech years ago when I was in middle school that made a comparison between the Holocaust and abortion (not an equivocation, a comparison).  I wrote it after a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (in D.C.) that left me terrified of being apathetic to evil.  A woman who heard the speech told me that any such comparison was very disrespectful to Holocaust victims.  Her words always concerned me, and they kept me from presenting abortion as a modern-day Holocaust with the frequency or vigor I otherwise would have employed.  But after visiting three concentration camps in the span of a week, I am convinced that my listener was totally wrong.  The greatest disrespect I could possibly lend to the victims of the Holocaust is the refusal to apply the lessons of that horrific history to the horrors of today, thus repeating the deadly mistakes of the past.

So, if you haven’t already made the connections, let me be perfectly clear: the parallels between the mass murder of the Holocaust and the over fifty million unborn children legally killed in abortion clinics all across our nation should horrify you.  What are those parallels?  The first is the failure of Americans (even the nominally pro-life) to truly, internally, accept and embrace that the unborn are human, with fingers, toes, smiles, and heartbeats.  The second parallel is the presence of an efficient, perfected, now even legal system of mass murder that exists in the backyards of America’s neighborhoods, with the vast majority of Americans living their daily lives as if this system of killing simply did not exist.  As I journaled the night after visiting Sachsenhausen, between the Holocaust and abortion exist “parallels of sanitized killing, standardized body disposal, euphemized language, government sanctioning, and lack of public outcry.”

Think I’m exaggerating?  The efficient standardization of the abortion industry can best be described in the words of the industry workers themselves:

“I refused to reassemble the body parts after a late-term abortion…tissue was the code word for bodies in our clinic.  We stored them in plastic bags, which were kept in a freezer until they were picked up weekly…The Parts Room, as we called it, was narrow, with washbasins on one side and medical supplies on the other.  Against one wall was a white freezer with the lock broken off… At the beginning of each week, a service truck would come by and pick up the body parts, which were taken to a lab.”

–Norma McCorvey (former abortion worker and “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade), from her auto-biography, Won by Love

“they would still have to put it [referring to a 23-week gestation baby] in, like, a jar, a container, with solution… all of our specimen have to go out to the lab.”

–abortion counselor, Dr. Emily’s Woman’s Clinic (abortion clinic), New York

“so the fetus and everything that goes along with it…they’re cremated, and then the ashes we spread out in the desert…”

–Dr. Laura Mercer, Family Planning Associates Medical Group (abortion clinic), Arizona

And yet, perhaps third parallel between the Holocaust and abortion stands most clearly: public apathy.  The final camp I visited was Dachau, near Munich, Germany.  Dachau was the first concentration camp built by the Germans and was the model camp and experimenting grounds for the hundreds of other camps that followed.  When one method of execution proved too slow, too dirty, or too expensive, the leaders at Dachau would devise new, improved methods to exterminate prisoners and would pass their ideas to the other camps.  Of Dachau, I journaled, “Here, death is a science, a process, something to be perfected and honed.”  But another essential piece of Dachau’s history bears repeating.  Dachau was located quite literally in the backyard of local civilians, most of whom ignored its existence completely.  When the allied troops liberated Dachau at the end of the war, they forced the local German civilians to tour the camp—to walk past the piles of bodies waiting to be cremated—to see the tortures and smell the death that they had ignored.  The civilians were shocked, horrified, and traumatized.

Almost 1800 abortion providers exist in our backyards here in the United States.   One day, I am absolutely convinced you and I will be those Dachau civilians.  In one fashion or another, we will come face to face with the horrors we have ignored.  And just as the civilians of Dachau wept, you and I will weep for our apathy.

Unless we take a stand—now and forever–against the greatest horror of our generation…

…that they may have life.

Shoes of Gas Chamber Victims at Auschwitz (Poland)

Shoes of Gas Chamber Victims at Auschwitz (Poland)

Sachsenhausen Pathology Building—“Autopsy” Tables (Germany)

Sachsenhausen Pathology Building—“Autopsy” Tables (Germany)

abortion, culture, ethics, extremism, history, ideology, oppression, propaganda, public policy, relativism, tragedy

Filed under: abortion, culture, ethics, extremism, history, ideology, oppression, propaganda, public policy, relativism, tragedy

Communits Party Directive, 1943

“When certain obstructionists become too irritating, label them, after suitable buildups, as fascist or Nazi or anti-Semitic, and use the prestige of antifascist and tolerance organizations to discredit them.”

communism, history, indoctrination, lies, propaganda

Filed under: communism, history, indoctrination, lies, propaganda

How a committed socialist gave up the faith

original article: The Bolivarian God That Failed
February 1, 2019 by Clifton Ross

The day after Venezuela’s National Assembly voted to declare its president, Juan Guaidó, interim President of the Republic, I received a text from a former friend. “If the U.S. topples Vz [Venezuela],” he wrote, “I will hold you responsible.” I would have been happy to accept this responsibility had I done anything important enough to deserve it. But the idea was absurd and he knew it. If the Venezuelan regime falls—and I hope that it does—it won’t even be possible to credit (or blame) the United States. It is the Venezuelan people who finally are taking their destiny in hand and rejecting an intolerable status quo.

The message was not a serious attempt to apportion responsibility for Venezuela’s current upheaval; it was an attempt to shame me for my treacherous betrayal of the Bolivarian cause. An early supporter of the Revolution, I had traveled to Venezuela in 2013 to cover the April presidential elections. By the time I returned to the US, I was disillusioned and depressed. I decided I needed to start writing and speaking about what I had seen there. In an article I wrote for the radical magazine Counterpunch around that time, I argued that “the so-called ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ is bankrupt: morally, ideologically, and economically,” and I asked what we, as leftist solidarity activists, should do in response. “Should we continue to make excuses for incompetence, corruption, and irresponsibility and thereby make ourselves accomplices?” I asked. “Or should we tell the truth?”

I had resolved to tell the truth. Having been so wrong about something so consequential, I felt it was the least I could do. By then, Venezuela was already in a terrible mess. Many of those I had helped to convince of the possibilities offered by Bolivarian socialism were deeply suspicious of the mainstream media and deserved to hear what was going on from a writer they trusted. But, as it turned out, the people I wanted to reach didn’t want to hear such things. And the people I asked to publish my articles didn’t much want me to write about them either. As a result of my voltafaccia, former comrades and friends contacted my editors and publishers in (occasionally successful) attempts to have my articles spiked. I was denounced and slandered online and in print. Phone calls and emails to people I had thought of as friends now went unanswered. On those occasions when I encountered one of them in public, they looked the other way. Abruptly, I found myself excommunicated, and people I’d known for 30 or 40 years made it clear that they no longer wanted to be part of my life.

*     *     *

I’d originally come to California from the Bible Belt in the mid-’70s in search of enlightened neighbors. I knew what it was to live an isolated life. It had been lonely on my father’s farm in Southern Oklahoma. I had endured farm life for five years but, having grown up in the military, I longed for the company of diverse, worldly-wise people one often found among military brats. Having become a Christian a few years before, I hoped Berkeley would offer a deeper faith than I’d found in fundamentalist churches.

I hitchhiked west and in Berkeley I joined the “radical Christian” community of the House Church of Berkeley that had grown out of Christian World Liberation Front (CWLF). From the margins of that community I gradually found my way, through liberation theology, into the secular Left. For nearly a decade I did solidarity work with the Sandinista Revolution until that process came to a halt when its “vanguard” Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was removed from power in the elections of 1990.

Following the collapse of communism, I ended up with the other “dead-enders” in Berkeley, scratching around in the depleted soil of radical politics for any worm of hope that might emerge. Those were desperate years. I soon hitched a ride on the Redwood Summer bandwagon, the joint IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, “Wobblies”) and Earth First! project to protect the last stands of old growth redwoods in Northern California from logging companies. I played a very minor role in that campaign, printing the flyers announcing the actions, but I was quickly drawn into working in the IWW. I was briefly an editor for the Bay Area Branch Bulletin and a co-editor of the Industrial Worker, and then I spent ten years in an IWW union job shop (New Earth Press) where my partner and I did a lot of ecological printing for local community organizations.

After we sold the business, I went to graduate school at San Francisco State University for a couple of very dismal years in academia. Then, after graduation, I spent the summer of 2004 in Nicaragua interviewing ex-Sandinistas who were now in opposition to the FSLN, the “glorious revolutionary vanguard,” which had been reduced over time to the status of a populist party serving the caudillo (strongman) Daniel Ortega. During the years of the Nicaraguan Revolution (1979-1990), I had translated and published the revolutionary poetry and writings of Sandinista militants—mostly farmers, low-ranking militia members, and even young children. As I was a poet, it seemed appropriate work to help spread the word about a process I found hopeful, and endangered by the hostile policies of the Reagan administration. I knew very little at the time of the Sandinistas’ responsibility for generating the war that would eventually tear their country apart. Most of us on the radical Left distrusted the media, and it was only recently that I returned to that period (in Chapter 11 of my 2016 memoir) to uncover details I had ignored during the years of that brutal civil conflict.

Foremost among the poets I’d translated during the years of the Sandinista Revolution was Ernesto Cardenal, a revolutionary priest and the Sandinista Minister of Culture. Cardenal and other “liberation theologians” were preaching a synthesis of Marxist revolutionary ideology and Christian theology, and they were my inspiration back then. By 2004, I no longer identified with Christianity, and my faith in Marxism was also in doubt. Nevertheless, I still considered myself some kind of socialist, and I thought Cardenal might be able to reassure me that there were embers of socialism still burning somewhere in Latin America. He duly obliged. Towards the end of our interview, when I asked him to name the projects in Latin America today which gave him hope, he didn’t mention (as I thought he would) the Zapatistas. “The Bolivarian Revolution,” he announced. President Hugo Chávez was doing some very interesting things down in Venezuela, he thought, and he encouraged me to visit and see for myself.

So, that December, eager to learn more, I flew down to Venezuela on Christmas break from Berkeley City College where I had been working as an adjunct English instructor. I immediately fell in with like-minded leftists in the small Andrean city of Mérida, who introduced me to a good part of the Bolivarian community there. I was so inspired by what I found that I decided to take a year off from teaching so I could follow the Bolivarian process first-hand.

It is as difficult as it is uncomfortable to enter into a previous state of mind from a later, more “evolved” or developed state. I don’t like to admit that I once believed Jesus rose from the dead, but I did. I also believed that socialism would make everyone brothers and sisters and end what my comrades and I called “capitalist oppression.”1 The available scientific and statistical evidence (not to mention common sense) weighs strongly against belief in bodily resurrection from the dead. History has delivered a verdict of comparable finality about socialism. This verdict is routinely dismissed on the grounds that only corrupted iterations of socialism have been tried; if socialism is designed to unite mankind, but all previous versions of socialism have failed to do so, then it follows that true socialism has yet to be successfully attempted.

Rarely do true believers stop to consider that there may be something wrong with the logic of socialism itself. In his 1993 book Post-Liberalism: Studies in Political Thought, the English philosopher John Gray wrote that Soviet socialism forced its subjects into a “vast Prisoner’s Dilemma, with each being constrained to act against his own interest and, thereby, directly or indirectly, to reproduce the order (or chaos) in which he is imprisoned. Thus Soviet subjects are compelled to compete with each other in climbing the rungs of the nomenklatura, pursuing the ordinary goods of life by party activism or, in extremis, by informing or denouncing one another, and so renewing daily the system that keeps them all captive.” These are not exactly optimal conditions for building community.

By 2004, I was already well aware of what Marxist-Leninist socialism had done to the twentieth century. So why did I fall for the socialism that Hugo Chávez proposed in Venezuela? The reasons were part push, part pull. The push came from the American invasion of Iraq less than two years earlier. After a rapid battlefield victory, the news from the Middle East seemed to be growing more dire by the day. A little over a month before I left for Venezuela, allegations began to emerge that the US military were committing war crimes in Fallujah. Surely a better way than this remained possible? As I wandered around Venezuela that December I was desperate for an alternative I could believe in, no matter how fragile.

The pull was what Hugo Chávez was proposing. He acknowledged the problems of  twentieth century socialism, and claimed to be offering something different—the Bolivarian version of “twenty-first century socialism.” This would be the “socialism with a human face” and quite unlike the repressive, totalitarian bureaucratic behemoth of Marxist-Leninism. As Chavista Gregory Wilpert insisted in his 2007 book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power, under Bolivarian socialism “ownership and control of the means of production must be collective and democratic.” Cooperatives were to play a large part in this and, after 2006, so would the local communal councils.

The money from the 2004 oil boom had saved Chávez from a recall referendum as he distributed the revenue flooding into the country among his followers. In this way, Chávez was able to fund his “revolution” from 2005 onwards. He ensured that the oil wealth would bypass the government, which he characterized as “corrupt” and (naturally) “counter-revolutionary.” Instead, money would be funnelled directly into a non-state-controlled corporate entity known as Fonden, the National Development Fund, over which, of course, Chávez personally presided. Fonden then parceled money out to cooperatives and the so-called “Missions” to the poor. During the oil boom, petroleum prices went from $10 a barrel to $100 and peaked at around $150 over the course of a decade. Given the astonishing amount of wealth generated, Chávez had a lot of money to throw at his pet projects. And, predictably, as the wealth trickled down, corruption increased since everyone had to get his or her piece of the patronage.

The cooperatives and community councils were among the many promising and inspiring initiatives dreamed up by Chávez in the early years of the boom. I witnessed these developments and documented them in my feature film, Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out. There really did appear to be great enthusiasm for these initiatives at the grassroots, especially as Hugo Chávez pushed them forward with massive funding. I quickly joined the chorus of supporters, first as invited poet to the Second World Poetry Festival of Venezuela in July 2005, then as a freelance (that is, unpaid) journalist for various left-leaning websites. When Chávez appeared on the scene, there were under 2000 cooperatives in the country. Once he came to power, that number skyrocketed to nearly 200,000, and I was there to document their ups and downs. I attended a few community council meetings and “political formation” training sessions, as well as a number of oil-funded projects like community kitchens, cultural events, and community development programs. It felt like something was really happening and that a fairer society was being built.

After the year I spent living in Venezuela (2005-2006), I returned as frequently as my schedule would allow, sometimes twice a year. Between 2008 and 2011, however, I became preoccupied with traveling across Latin America and conducting interviews with social movement activists for a book entitled Until the Rulers Obey that would be published in 2014. During that time, I was forced to become a “generalist” and didn’t have much time available to keep a close eye on what was happening in Venezuela. Nevertheless, from people who were watching, and from what I saw on my two visits there in 2011, I gathered that the situation was taking a bad turn. As even supporters were pointing out a few years later, by 2007 only about 15 percent of the 184,000 remaining cooperatives were active. If the distinction between earlier socialism and the Bolivarian version was that in the latter the “ownership and control of the means of production must be collective and democratic,” the new version wasn’t faring well at all.

Big questions began to arise about the financing of the community councils. Critics charged that these organizations were simply instruments that Chávez (and then Maduro) used to fund their supporters while denying access to the opposition. It was classic populism in the style of the Mexican PRI, which Mario Vargas Llosa once called “the perfect dictatorship.” By 2008, Chávez had suffered his first electoral defeat in a referendum that he had hoped would drive his socialist agenda forward. In response, he adopted a new approach to building twenty-first century socialism, and it looked very much like the twentieth century variety: nationalization of industries followed by the expropriation and redistribution of wealth and property. The “Bolivarian Revolution” was starting to look like any other rentier or petro-state—burgeoning corruption, a politics of clientelism, and a growing gap between the elite in control of the state (and, of course, the oil revenues) and the increasingly desperate mass of people at the bottom.

When the Arab Spring swept Gaddafi from power, I argued with my Venezuelan friends and felt the beginnings of a great divide opening up between us. I didn’t like the company Chávez was keeping—Gaddafi, Putin, Hezbollah, etc.—but neither was I ready to denounce him and his project as a fraud. Meanwhile, as my wife and I compiled the interviews with the social movement activists in Latin America, we began to notice themes and threads that confirmed what Raul Zibechi had told us when we visited him in Montevideo, Uruguay in the spring of 2012.

Zibechi was an astute analyst of Latin American politics with a focus on social movements. He explained that the so-called “Pink Tide” of leftwing governments that had risen to power on the wave of the commodities boom were in fact following the prescription of Robert McNamara, the former president of the World Bank and architect of the Vietnam War under Lyndon Johnson. In this scenario, moderately progressive governments were far more useful than their rightwing homologues to the world elite, because they provided a buffer between the transnational corporations and the social movements protesting the impact of resource extraction on communities and the environment. The testimony of our interviewees seemed to bear out Zibechi’s thesis. But surely this couldn’t be true of the more “radical” processes, like the one unfolding in Venezuela?

As I was writing the introductions to the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan chapters of our book, I investigated further, and what I discovered in the academic literature and reports by investigative journalists on both countries confirmed my doubts. By the mid-1990s, I’d already given up on the FSLN reforming itself. When I met Ernesto Cardenal again in 2004, he argued that there was no hope of any positive change from the “Ortega dictatorship.” My introduction to the Nicaragua chapter of our book was therefore fairly easy to write, since the direction the country was going under the Ortega mafia seemed clear. I quoted Dennis Rogers’s description of the Somoza dictatorship the FSLN had overthrown and remarked that it also described the present Ortega regime quite well: “A venal oligarchy run by a small elite satisfied to promote a form of what might be termed ‘hacienda feudalism.’” But Venezuela? Chávez? I had grown more critical, but I still believed in Chávez. As so many Chavistas in Venezuela had reassured me, “Chávez is clean, but all those surrounding him are corrupt.” This was a cult of personality—a One Man faith.

*     *     *

On the afternoon of March 5, 2013, I’d just finished another draft of my introduction to the Venezuela chapter when the phone rang and a friend told me that Hugo Chávez had died. I wrote a eulogy for Counterpunch that now, nearly six years later, I find embarrassing. I then decided to go back down to Venezuela for the elections. On the flight I caught up on my reading, including a fascinating biography of Hugo Chávez written by two well-known Venezuelan journalists, and some analyses of the massive problems in the Venezuelan economy, including the missing $29 billion dollars from the Fonden budget over which Chávez had presided.

Chávez, in the style of Latin American autocrats from time immemorial, had hand-picked his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Maduro was a fairly hard-core Leninist with a soft spot in his heart for Sai Baba, the Hindu guru-huckster accused of child molestation before he died in 2011. Compared to Chávez, Maduro is wooden and utterly lacking in the warmth and charm of his political “father.” But he had close relations with Cuba and was part of Chávez’s trusted inner circle and, most importantly, he was Chávez’s choice. Y punto, end of discussion.

Of the difficulties I faced over the next few days attempting to enter the country and cover the April 2013 presidential election between Maduro and Henrique Capriles, I have written elsewhere. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t granted entry until the day after the elections. Even then, due to the massive nationwide protests, I only managed to get to Mérida thanks to the generosity of oppositionists who gave me a ride. Over the course of the trip, they filled me in on the details of why Maduro had only won the elections by only slightly more than a single percentage point. This was despite using all the state resources at his disposal to (illegally) pay for and promote his campaign, including the state oil company PDVSA’s buses which drove state employees to the polls to vote for him. Chavistas simply hadn’t come out in large numbers to vote for him, and clearly many of the faithful had already gone over to the opposition.

Over the next few days and weeks, as I traveled through Venezuela, I began talking to the “counter-revolutionaries” and they offered evidence of their country’s deep problems to which my Chavista friends could only respond with rhetoric. In the industrial region of Guayana in the state of Bolívar, I interviewed union workers in the nationalized industries about the collapse of those industries. I was able to confirm their claims with secret footage shot for me by a worker using my own video camera, which showed the ruined interior of an enormous state factory where not a soul was to be seen on this particular work day.

In Caracas, I met with opposition human rights activists, union leaders, and leftwing academics for interviews. As the missing pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place, the reality of the Bolivarian catastrophe overwhelmed my resistance. Emilio Campos, then Secretary General of Carbonorca, the nationalized industrial coke plant, described the Bolivarian Revolution as nothing more than “a media show.” He called himself “a revolutionary for a plurality of ideas where a country seeks balance, not just for a party, or one sector of society. I believe in freedom of thought, in a diversity of ideas. But the hegemony of power makes you narrow-minded.”

The real turning point for me, however, was the interview I conducted with labor journalist Damian Prat, whose extraordinary book Guayana: El milagro al revés (Guayana: The Reversed Miracle) I had read over the two or three days it took me to get to Guayana from Merida by bus. The interview took place within a day or two of the shocking beatings of several prominent opposition National Assembly deputies by Chavista deputies during an official session. The state television cameras were turned off during the violence and afterwards, as the wounded were taken to the hospital. I was still shaken by the footage some brave parliamentarians had captured on their cell phones and leaked to the press.

I met Prat at his office at the Correo del Caroní, the Guayanesa daily paper. As I turned on my video camera, Prat smiled wryly. “Some of you in the critical, intellectual circles of Europe and the United States seem to think it’s fine that in the countries of our Latin America there are arbitrary governments and processes full of abuses that in your countries you wouldn’t consider allowing for a minute. No, in your own country you’d militantly reject the same things you seem to feel are perfectly fine to take place down here, so far away, where it’s exotic and interesting…” I felt my face redden with shame, and I suddenly felt my whole world capsize.

It would be months before I was able to return to Guayana to interview Rubén González, the former Chavista and Secretary General of Iron Mine Workers Union of the Orinoco (Sintra Ferrominera del Orinoco) about his own experience of imprisonment without trial “just for doing my job in the union and defending the rights of workers.” Referring to the claims of “sabotage” as the reason the industries were failing in the country, González told me that those in government “never thought of governing, but rather of enriching their little group in power. They never invested in these businesses, but totally bled them dry. They themselves are the saboteurs.” At the time of this writing, González is back in jail for organizing on behalf of workers in the state ironworks.

*     *     *

All of a sudden, I found myself in a strange world. I had drifted—at first gradually, but then definitively—into the camp of my former “enemies,” persuaded by their narrative and by the evidence before my own eyes. And, as I did so, I discovered that the editors of the news sites where I’d published my passionate defenses of the Bolivarian project for the past few years no longer responded to my pitches or my queries or my emails. As Venezuela disintegrated, I was lost and confused and alone.

And then, while I was grieving the loss of my innocent old life and its many friendships, something curious and unexpected began to happen. I discovered a great sense of excitement as I investigated “new” ideas for which I’d previously had nothing but contempt. I found myself reminded of Herbert Spencer’s quote at the end of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

For the next two years, I delved into the literature on Venezuela with renewed interest. Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold’s book, A Dragon in the Tropics, it turned out, was particularly well-researched and compelling. Since I could no longer get my writing published in any of the outlets for which I’d previously written, I redirected my energies into making a new film entitled In the Shadow of the Revolution with the help of a Venezuelan filmmaker and friend, Arturo Albarrán, and I wrote my political memoir for an adventurous anarchist publisher. But what preoccupied me more and more were the larger questions of socialism versus capitalism, and the meaning of liberalism.

I’d visited Cuba twice—in 1994 and again in 2010—and now, with my experience of Venezuela, I felt I’d seen the best socialism could offer. Not only was that offering pathetically meagre, but it had been disastrously destructive. It became increasingly clear to me that nothing that went under that rubric functioned nearly as well on any level as the system under which I had been fortunate enough to live in the US. Why then, did so many decent people, whose ethics and intelligence and good intentions I greatly respected, continue to insist that the capitalist system needed to be eliminated and replaced with what had historically proven to be the inferior system of socialism?

The strongest argument against state control of the means of production and distribution is that it simply didn’t—and doesn’t—work. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding—and in this case, there was no pudding at all. In my own lifetime, I’ve seen socialism fail in China, fail in the Soviet Union, fail in Eastern Europe, fail on the island of Cuba, and fail in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. And now the world is watching it fail in Venezuela, where it burned through billions of petro-dollars of financing, only to leave the nation worse off than it was before. And still people like me had insisted on this supposed alternative to capitalism, stubbornly refusing to recognize that it is based on a faulty premise and a false epistemology.

As long ago as the early 1940s, F.A. Hayek had identified the impossibility of centralized social planning and its catastrophic consequences in his classic The Road to Serfdom. Hayek’s writings convinced the Hungarian economist, János Kornai, to dedicate an entire volume entitled The Socialist System to demonstrating the validity of his claims. The “synoptic delusion”—the belief that any small group of people could hold and manage all the information spread out over millions of actors in a market economy—Kornai argued, leads the nomenklatura to make disastrous decisions that disrupt production and distribution. Attempts to “correct” these errors only exacerbate the problems for the same reasons, leading to a whole series of disasters that result, at last, in a completely dysfunctional economy, and then gulags, torture chambers, and mass executions as the nomenklatura hunt for “saboteurs” and scapegoats.

The synoptic delusion—compounded by immense waste, runaway corruption, and populist authoritarianism—is what led to the mayhem engulfing Venezuela today, just as it explains why socialism is no longer a viable ideology to anyone but the kind of true believer I used to be. For such people, utopian ideologies might bring happiness into their own lives, and even into the lives of those around them who also delight in their dreams and fantasies. But when they gain control over nations and peoples, their harmless dreams become the nightmares of multitudes.

Capitalism, meanwhile, has dramatically raised the standard of living wherever it has been allowed to arise over the past two centuries. It is not, however, anything like a perfect or flawless system. Globalization has left many behind, even if their lives are far better than those of their ancestors just two hundred years ago, and vast wealth creation has produced vast inequalities which have, in turn, bred resentment. Here in California, the city of Los Angeles, “with a population of four million, has 53,000 homeless.” Foreign policy misadventures and the economic crash of 2008 opened the door to demagogues of the Left and the Right eager to exploit people’s hopes and fears so that they could offer themselves as the solution their troubled nations sought to the dystopian woe into which liberal societies had fallen. In his fascinating recent jeremiad Why Liberalism Failed, Patrick Deneen itemizes liberal democracy’s many shortcomings and, whether or not one accepts his stark prognosis, his criticisms merit careful thought and attention.

Nevertheless, markets do work for the majority, and so does liberal democracy, as dysfunctional as it often is. That is because capitalism provides the space for ingenuity and innovation, while liberal democracy provides room for free inquiry and self-correction. Progress and reform can seem maddeningly sluggish under such circumstances, particularly when attempting to redress grave injustice or to meet slow-moving existential threats like climate change. But I have learned to be wary of those who insist that the perfect must be the enemy of the good, and who appeal to our impatience with extravagant promises of utopia. If, as Deneen contends, liberalism has become a victim of its own success, it should be noted that socialism has no successes to which it can fall victim. Liberalism’s foundations may be capable of being shored up, but socialism is built on sand, and from sand. Failures, most sensible people realize, should be abandoned.

That is probably why Karl Popper advocated cautious, piecemeal reform of markets and societies because, like any other experiment, one can only accurately isolate problems and make corrections by changing one variable at a time. As Popper observed in his essay “Utopia and Violence”:

The appeal of Utopianism arises from the failure to realize that we cannot make heaven on earth. What I believe we can do instead is to make life a little less terrible and a little less unjust in each generation. A good deal can be achieved in this way. Much has been achieved in the last hundred years. More could be achieved by our own generation. There are many pressing problems which we might solve, at least partially, such as helping the weak and the sick, and those who suffer under oppression and injustice; stamping out unemployment; equalizing opportunities; and preventing international crime, such as blackmail and war instigated by men like gods, by omnipotent and omniscient leaders. All this we might achieve if only we could give up dreaming about distant ideals and fighting over our Utopian blueprints for a new world and a new man.

Losing faith in a belief system that once gave my life meaning was extremely painful. But the experience also reawakened my dormant intellectual curiosity and allowed me to think about the world anew, unencumbered by the circumscriptions of doctrine. I have met new people, read new writers and thinkers, and explored new ideas I had previously taken care to avoid. After reading an interview I had given to one of my publishers a year ago, I was forwarded an email by the poet David Chorlton. What I’d said in that interview, he wrote, “goes beyond our current disease of taking sides and inflexible non-thinking. I’m reading Havel speeches again, all in the light of the collective failure to live up to the post-communist opportunities. We’re suffering from a lack of objectivity—is that because everyone wants an identity more than a solution to problems?”

 

economics, foreign affairs, government, history, ideology, liberalism, poverty, public policy, reform, socialism

Filed under: economics, foreign affairs, government, history, ideology, liberalism, poverty, public policy, reform, socialism

Antifa are more than ‘anti-fascists.’

original article: Antifa Is Not Fighting For Freedom, But For Communist Revolution
November 1, 2017 by Joseph D’Hippolito

In the immediate aftermath of the Charlottesville violence, several prominent figures—including CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic—equated left-wing “Antifa” activists with the thousands of Allied soldiers who stormed Normandy’s beaches to invade Adolph Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” on D-Day.

A more appropriate equation would be with the thousands of soldiers in the Red Army, who brutally marched toward Berlin, where they would establish Soviet hegemony in the so-called German Democratic Republic after defeating Hitler.

Antifa returns to the news this week. On Tuesday night, former Breitbart.com editor Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at California State University, Fullerton in a program sponsored by that university’s College Republicans. Seven were arrested amid reports of head-punching and pepper-spraying. Protesters of the event chanted “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand!” and held signs reading “Only socialist revolution can defeat capitalist reaction.” In February, Antifa militants committed such mayhem while protesting Yiannopoulos’ appearance at the University of California at Berkeley that university officials cancelled his speech at the last minute.

On Saturday, Antifa will join other leftist groups in massive nationwide protests designed to force President Donald Trump’s administration out of office. Organizing those protests is “Refuse Fascism,” which declares that “in the name of humanity, we REFUSE to accept a Fascist America!”

Despite antiseptic portrayals throughout American media, Antifa are more than “anti-fascists.” Antifa represent the chaos of Germany’s Weimar Republic and provide the violent complement to academic neo-Marxism. Like their philosophical comrades, Antifa seek to destroy the American emphasis on liberty under law and to impose a revival of one of history’s most repressive ideologies.

Antifa Is Anti-West and Anti-Capitalist

Bernd Langer, whose “80 Years of Anti-Fascist Action” was published by Germany’s Association for the Promotion of Anti-Fascist Literature, succinctly defined the rhetorical subterfuge. “Anti-fascism is a strategy rather than an ideology,” wrote Langer, a former Antifa member, for “an anti-capitalist form of struggle.”

Short for the German phrase, “Antifaschistische Aktion,” Antifa served as the paramilitary arm of the German Communist Party (KPD), which the Soviet Union funded. In other words, Antifa became the German Communists’ version of the Nazis’ brown-shirted SA.

The KPD made no secret of Antifa’s affiliation. A 1932 photo of KPD headquarters in Berlin prominently displayed the double-flagged Antifa emblem among other Communist symbols and slogans. In a photo from the 1932 Unity Congress of Antifa in Berlin, the double-flagged banner shared space with the hammer and sickle and with two large cartoons. One supported the KPD, the other mocked the SPD, Germany’s Social Democratic Party.

Today’s Antifa embrace those roots. During February’s protest in Berkeley, masked Antifa agitators caused nearly $100,000 in damage by starting fires, breaking windows, assaulting bystanders with pepper spray and flagpoles, painting graffiti on nearby businesses, and destroying automatic teller machines. “Refuse Fascism,” the group organizing Saturday’s protests, is controlled by the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, which seeks to create a Marxist United States through violent revolution.

Law and Order Are Among Antifa’s Enemies

Antifa’s goal to suppress “fascism” reflects the views of neo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse. “A policy of unequal treatment would protect radicalism on the Left against that on the Right,” Marcuse wrote in “Repressive Tolerance,” his 1965 essay. “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left” extending “to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.”

Marcuse dismissed the idea of individual liberty protected by law in favor of a Marxist society favoring ostensibly oppressed groups at the expense of everybody else. Such a society, Marcuse wrote, would demand “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements” that not only “promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion” but also “oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.” and “may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions.”

Marcuse even justified violence: “there is a ‘natural right’ of resistance for oppressed and overpowered minorities to use extralegal means if the legal ones have proved to be inadequate,” Marcuse wrote. “Law and order are always and everywhere the law and order which protect the established hierarchy; it is nonsensical to invoke the absolute authority of this law and this order against those who suffer from it and struggle against it … for their share of humanity. If they use violence, they do not start a new chain of violence but try to break an established one.”

In expressing his contempt for “the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for ‘the other side,’” Marcuse maintained in 1968 ”that there are issues where either there is no ‘other side’ in any more than a formalistic sense, or where ‘the other side’ is demonstrably ‘regressive’ and impedes possible improvement of the human condition.”

Elements of Today’s Left Embrace Marcuse’s Ideas

K-Su Park, a University of California at Los Angeles law fellow, reflected Marcuse’s thought when in an op-ed in The New York Times she challenged the American Civil Liberties Union to reconsider its approach to the First Amendment. The ACLU represented Jason Kessler, who organized the “Unite The Right” rally and sued the City of Charlottesville for revoking his permit for the protest.

The ACLU’s approach “implies that the country is on a level playing field, that at some point it overcame its history of racial discrimination to achieve a real democracy, the cornerstone of which is freedom of expression,” Park wrote. “Other forms of structural discrimination and violence also restrict the exercise of speech, such as police intimidation of African-Americans and Latinos. The danger that communities face because of their speech isn’t equal.”

Park’s fellowship is with UCLA’s critical race studies program. Critical race studies comes from critical theory, a sociological approach developed by Germany’s neo-Marxist Frankfurt School, where Marcuse was a leading thinker. Johns Hopkins professor N.D.B. Connolly blended Marcuse’s philosophy with Antifa’s militancy in a Washington Post op-ed, where he compared the United States’ racial history to a game of rock-paper-scissors.

“For a long while, we’ve been throwing a lot of ‘paper,’” Connolly wrote. “Liberalism — our paper — preserves our country’s long commitment to contracts. Under liberalism, citizens stand in contract with their government. The government’s job, in turn, has been to enforce contracts between individuals and groups. Truly, when people ask for rights, be they women’s rights, gay and transgender rights, or rights as people of color, they are asking for contract rights.”

‘Rock Breaks Scissors’

But racism, Connolly argued, serves as scissors: “Right at the country’s founding, racists cut black and indigenous people out of liberalism’s contract. Black bodies and Native American land did not deserve the protection of contract. They deserved bondage and expropriation.”

The solution? “No matter its form, rock breaks scissors,” Connolly wrote. “A half-century ago, nothing less than radical anti-racism could reduce white supremacy to an outlaw religion. … In April 1968, amid a flurry of other ‘rocks,’ riots shook American cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It took that rolling unrest … to spur President Lyndon Johnson and Congress to action. Within a week they had passed the Fair Housing Act.”

Connolly concluded by advocating similar measures. “Segregationists have again assumed their pedestals in the Justice Department, the White House and many other American temples,” he wrote. ”Paper alone won’t drive them out. Start throwing rocks.” In slandering those who hold opposing views, and in essentially calling Martin Luther King Jr. a failure, Connolly reflected the true “Antifa” spirit: Neo-Marxism über alles.

culture, Democrats, extremism, government, history, ideology, left wing, liberalism, marxism, political correctness, politics, progressive

Filed under: culture, Democrats, extremism, government, history, ideology, left wing, liberalism, marxism, political correctness, politics, progressive

Many of America’s seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in making people dependent

original article: Searching for Self-Reliance
May 30, 2017 by Edwin J. Feulner

When conservatives call for Congress to cut federal spending and shrink the size of government, they’re often portrayed as heartless.

On the contrary: We remember our heritage. We know there’s actually nothing “progressive” at all about the nanny state. Indeed, it’s regressive. It’s a betrayal of our history as a nation built on self-reliance.

We owe our republic, after all, to the energy and exertions of rugged individuals — pilgrims who crossed the perilous sea in frail ships to brave a wilderness, pioneers who slogged thousands of miles through hostile territory and prevailed against all odds.

They had no subsidies, no guarantees, no government help save for raw public land they painfully developed by hard labor. They shared what they had, helped one another, and took turns standing guard to protect against danger. They wanted to be free, and they build the freest country in history.

Self-reliance, Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his landmark work “Democracy in America,” was the organizing principle of American life, culture, and politics in the 19th century. Today, however, our nation seems to have reversed Tocqueville’s admiring formulation and become a nanny state in which more and more individuals depend on government to do not only what they can’t do for themselves, but far too much else.

Sure, there are plenty of hard-working Americans still around. But unlike our predecessors, many other present-day Americans show little or no interest in relying on their own mind and muscle to surmount obstacles. Since the 1930s, generations have grown up accustomed to depending on government as their first line of defense against not only serious trouble, but also the common vicissitudes of ordinary life.

Think of the chores we expect our public servants to perform with all the panache of brave first responders tackling a terrorist attack. If you lock your keys inside your car, can’t coax your cat down from a tree, or feel insulted by a surly cabdriver, what do you do? Many milquetoasts in 21st century America call 911 and demand action by some hapless fire company or overworked police department.

The nanny state has conditioned vast numbers of us to view nearly any setback as a federal case. If you can’t pay your debts, taxes or tuition; if you can’t afford health insurance, rebuild your beach house after a hurricane, or save your business from your own follies, never fear — some federal program will surely bail you out.

And you don’t have to be poor, friendless, handicapped or underprivileged to get that help. The bigger your business and the more egregious your errors, the more you can expect the feds to save you.

Americans have been sliding into dependency ever since the New Deal began federalizing everyone’s problems, and particularly since Lyndon Johnson launched his so-called “Great Society.” What fell by the wayside was the previous American way of dealing with adversity, the era when people in need turned to the civil society around them — the safety net of families, friends, churches, local doctors, and politicians.

All that changed with the proliferation of federal programs doling out benefits on an industrial scale. Federal involvement in everything from retirement (Social Security), health care (Medicare and Medicaid) and education grew by leaps and bounds, making more and more Americans dependent on faceless bureaucrats they never meet.

It all adds up to a profound loss of the self-reliance that built this country and made it great. Many of our seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in weakening people and condemning them to endless dependency.

This is why conservatives want to cut government down to size. As President Reagan said in his first Inaugural Address, “It is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride our back.”

Critics call that heartless. But to allow our present trajectory to continue unchecked is senseless. It’s time to change course — before it’s too late.

american, conservative, culture, freedom, government, history, ideology, right wing, unintended consequences

Filed under: american, conservative, culture, freedom, government, history, ideology, right wing, unintended consequences

Yes, Democrats are still responsible for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK

I was listening to a guy talk about the unsavory history of American Democrats. An academic in the audience, also a Democrat, spoke up during the Q&A and castigated the speaker for suggesting modern Democrats are responsible for their party’s past. Elsewhere, on a forum unrelated to politics I saw a post asking (while actually suggesting) if Republicans were the party of racism.

On many occasions I’ve heard people argue in no uncertain terms that today’s Democrat party is not the same as it used to be. Democrats are a very different group of people today, the argument goes, so the modern party cannot honestly be held accountable for the evils of their predecessors.

And yet Republicans today are frequently blamed for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK – all of which were either defended or (in the case of Jim Crow and the KKK) invented by Democrats. If Democrats cannot be honestly held accountable for the sins of the past because the modern party is composed of different people, how can modern Republicans honestly be held accountable for the Democrats’ sins of the past?

The myth that the parties “switched sides” is constantly losing credibility, as it should. Certain arguments keep cropping up which rightly challenge that myth. As one example, consider the fact the “not a person” argument was one of the chief defenses of slavery Democrats used in the past, and it is one of the chief defenses Democrats use today to defend abortion. Democrats never stopped playing semantic games with other people’s personhood. That game switched to a different target, but the victimizing continues. Deciding who is and who is not a person, and therefore who does and who does not have rights, is one of the fundamental tools of oppression Democrats have always used.

Contrast this with the conservative position on who does and who does not have rights. If you move to the United States legally and follow our rules, and join in the social compact we all have amongst ourselves as citizens, you can enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. If you move to our country and choose to break our laws and intentionally avoid becoming a citizen you don’t get to enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. Voting is not a human right, it is a citizen right. No one is denying an immigrant their status as a person by arguing they have no right to vote (despite Democrat protestations).

Another important detail is the fact Democrats are not responsible for the vast majority of civil rights legislation passed by the U.S. government. From the war between the states through the 1950s civil rights legislation was soundly the result of Republican efforts. Remember that incident in the early 20th century when the American military was racially segregated? Yeah, that was Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, working against civil rights that had already been achieved up to that point in American history. And even for those pieces of legislation which Democrats do claim credit, we are justified in asking why should they? After all it was not Republicans who filibustered the 1964 civil rights act; that was Democrats. So why should Democrats get credit for it today?

Besides, if Democrats of today ought not be held accountable for the sins of Democrats of the past, even if you wanted to argue Democrats deserve credit for the 1964 civil rights act, why should today’s Democrats get credit for it? On the other hand, if today’s Democrats do deserve credit for the virtues of Democrats half a century ago, they likewise deserve blame for those past sins.

Another reason Democrats can still be blamed for their past sins is the myth that those slavery-defending Democrats were conservative. This is why liberals/progressives have no choice but to define conservatism as wanting to maintain the status quo and opposing change. All power seeks to preserve itself. Communists, socialists, fascists, Democrats, Republicans, and all political groups who have power want to keep it. To admit this plain fact would endanger the modern narrative. Liberals/progressives have no problem blaming modern Republicans for the sins of the past but they lose their minds if someone suggests Democrats should be held responsible for the sins of their own political party.

“Change” has always been a battle cry of tyrants, so conservatives are naturally skeptical of politicians promising change, or making promises of any kind. The liberal/progressive description of conservatism sees the political right as a group of people who want to maintain the status quo, to keep power structures as they are. But the conservative description of conservatism is quite different. In the American experiment, conservatism has always been leery of the abuse of power. That’s why, in order to “preserve” liberty, conservatives prefer to “conserve” power, to limit its concentration and avoid its over use. Conservatives are glad to test new ideas, but not to blindly jump on board just because enthusiastic (or even violent and hateful) protesters demand change. Environmental activists work in a similar fashion: seeking to preserve the environment by conserving energy, avoiding its overuse or waste (but resorting to liberal/progressive tactics in seeking to control other people in the process).

It was not conservatives of the past who defended slavery. The abolitionists were the conservatives of the day. They viewed the abuse of power in legally robbing one group of people of their humanity as a threat to everyone, naturally putting us all in danger of the same abuse. Looking at the long term effects of the situation, conservatives realized if our government can dehumanize one group, it can dehumanize another. They viewed this type of power, in a free society claiming to be founded on the notion of liberty, as abuse. And the abolitionists were right. Today, prenatal people are denied all rights because they are explicitly robbed of their very humanity. (And don’t forget that other incident when progressive Germans decided to play semantic games with personhood.)

In our modern era all manner of common ideas are construed as discrimination and oppression to help reinforce the idea of blaming Republicans for the past sins of slavery. It is said foreigners who are not citizens are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to vote (which could become their right if only they would become citizens). It is said gays are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to live together, to love who they want to love, or to have a ceremony. Actually, even before government usurped the religious institution of marriage (a violation of the separation between church and state, by the way) gays were already doing all these things in the United States. No one was stopping them. There are some people who want to deny the right of gays to do any of those things, or even to live, but if I told you who they were I’d probably be accused of Islamophobia.

When conservatives want reasonable justification for redefining the right to vote or the institution of marriage we are accused of all sorts of evil things, and a lot of people believe those accusations because somehow conservatives are supposed to be responsible for slavery, so why wouldn’t Republicans do these other evil things, too? When conservatives ask why, after telling us liberals wanted government out of the bedroom, do they now demand government enter the bedroom we are supposed to simply cower and remain silent at the allegation of bigotry.

So there is political gain to be had in blaming Republicans for the past sins of Democrats. Democrats have a long track record, continuing even today, of dehumanizing others. But it is only Republicans who bear the blame for dehumanization. Misconstruing today’s issues as hate is the new norm. Anything progressives disagree with is labeled “fascism”. Then progressives act like fascists to “protest”. Silencing others, resorting to violence to do so, dehumanizing detractors, and bullying anyone fails to tote the line is fascism. It is also the history and contemporary practice of Democrats.

Yes, both political parties are quite different today as compared to what they were 150, 100, or even 50 years ago. No, the parties didn’t “switch sides”. Since Democrats continue to play the same political games they have played all along, they deserve the blame for their own sins, especially since they fraudulently claim credit for any virtues of the past.

abuse, american, bigotry, civil rights, corruption, culture, Democrats, fraud, government, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, victimization

Filed under: abuse, american, bigotry, civil rights, corruption, culture, Democrats, fraud, government, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, victimization

How Intellectuals Cover for Evil

original article: How Intellectuals Cover for Evil: Deconstruction
March 18, 2017 by Thomas McArdle

Alongside its unprecedented mass violence, the 20th century saw the rise and reign of the secular intellectual as false prophet and would-be führer. For such men, as historian Paul Johnson wrote:

The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to be selectively followed or wholly rejected entirely as his own good sense might decide.

Enter the villain of Stream columnist Jonathan Leaf’s powerful new play, Deconstruction, running through March 25 at the Theatre at Grand Hall (St. Mary’s Parish), 440 Grand Street, New York, N.Y., produced by Storm Theatre.

The Antwerp-born Paul de Man came to America after the Second World War and Blitzkrieged the study of literature by pioneering the postmodern theory of deconstruction — which, among other things, put morally-relativistic modern man in the place of a murdered God.

Pretending to be a Hero of the Anti-Nazi Resistance

De Man ultimately reached the zenith of academic prestige at Yale, becoming the single most influential literary critic in America — whose theories still deeply influence English classes at colleges today. But at the outset of Deconstruction, it’s summer 1949. He holds a menial job at a Grand Central bookshop, and finds himself the pitied guest of Catholic-turned-Marxist novelist and critic Mary McCarthy in her Rhode Island beach cottage.

Leaf’s drama speculates about the two married academics’ rumored affair.  McCarthy would secure de Man his first academic post at New York’s Bard College, an hour’s drive north of Vassar, where she was teaching. De Man doesn’t quite seduce McCarthy; it’s mutual. As she later admits, “anyone who strokes my ego after a few drinks too often can stroke other places.” He compliments her literary talent. She praises his conversational cleverness, and his brave service in the Belgian Resistance – except that, as we discover, the latter was a lie. Quite the contrary.

Deconstruction 2

Jed Peterson as de Man is a fascinating near-reincarnation of Paul Henreid playing the sly, covert Nazi in Carol Reed’s 1940 thriller Night Train To Munich. De Man apes sincerity quite effectively, as he professes shame for seducing other women, then dwells on his tragic youth. At 17, he found his mother hanged on the anniversary of his brother being struck dead by a train. Yet soon after telling the tale, he does indeed lead McCarthy to bed.

In Leaf’s telling, McCarthy would eventually find herself expecting de Man’s child, leaving her third and current husband to think the child is his. After her miscarriage it would be her husband, not de Man, at her side. De Man would by this time be busy with a 21-year-old Bard student whom he had also impregnated.

No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis.

Inventing New Forms of Relativism to Explain Away His Crimes

But this is the tip of the iceberg. No, de Man had not fought in the Resistance. In fact, he had served the Nazis. Some four years after de Man’s 1983 death, a Belgian scholar would discover more than 100 pro-Nazi articles de Man had published under his own byline in occupied Belgium during the war in the country’s leading newspaper, Le Soir. In one, he recommended a forced exodus of the Jews, remarking that Europe “would lose, in all, a few personalities of mediocre value” then continue in greatness.

Le_SoirDe Man’s legion of deconstruction disciples would proclaim the revelations overblown. Literary scholar James Atlas noted in the New York Times in 1988, while the truth about de Man was still hitting the fan, that de Man’s Yale colleague Geoffrey Hartman minimized de Man’s offenses because they “didn’t begin to compare with the ‘vulgar anti-Semitic writing’ in other newspapers of the day.”

De Man would quit the pro-Nazi paper, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Two months after de Man’s departure Le Soir’s other literary critic was assassinated by the Resistance for being a Nazi collaborator.

Interrogated by Hannah Arendt

The play twists the knife when Leaf’s last character arrives — McCarthy’s friend, political theorist Hannah Arendt. A German Jew who grew up in Koenigsberg, she’d escaped death in the Holocaust thanks to falsified papers from a U.S. diplomat. To an audience, Karoline Fischer’s stern, straight-talking Arendt may be the least enchanting of the three characters, but that suits her harsh message of truth.

“That I managed to get out of Germany, then out of a detention camp — it’s because I’m not cowed. By anyone.” So she informs de Man in an unwelcome visit to his Bard office. “I want to know: who are you?”

But this far-and-away more honest intellectual already knows, having “made some inquiries in Belgium.”

“Tell me, did you deliver bombs for the Resistance? Is that true or a lie?” Arendt demands of de Man.

“If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality?”

His blood-curdling response: “As a student of Heidegger, you of all people should know that the notion of objective truth is a philosophical concept. An abstraction. Neither more, nor less.”

“What Is Truth?”

De Man was taunting Arendt, aware that she’d once been both Heidegger’s student and his lover. (Heidegger’s blatant, public support for the Nazis even after the war has since dimmed his intellectual star a little.)

If there is no real truth, then why be good? Or, as de Man earlier asked McCarthy, “If we cannot prove God’s existence or the moral laws taken from antiquity, then what place is there for traditional morality? You do see the logic at least?”

The logic she sees – indeed keenly feels – is the soul-destroying vacuum of love and beauty that de Man leaves in his wake. As Mary McCarthy, Fleur Alys Dobbins, in the performance of the night, shifts jarringly from a feathery hedonism to ravaged victimhood.

“You know, Paul, I spent hours thinking of baby names, painting the child’s room different colors in my mind. Wondering: a girl or a boy, which would you like?” she cries in her pain. When de Man claims, “I’m ashamed,” Arendt counters, “You have no shame,” then reveals, “one of the inquiries I made told me something that didn’t entirely surprise me: you wrote for a Nazi newspaper.”

The real difference between de Man and McCarthy?  She admits, “I know I’m a fraud,” but “I want to be good.”

The year he died, de Man would write, “’I am not given to retrospective self-examination, and mercifully forget what I have written with the same alacrity I forget bad movies … although, as with bad movies, certain scenes or phrases return at times to embarrass and haunt me like a guilty conscience.” Atlas noted that, writing on Rousseau, de Man had even claimed we can never distinguish between “fictional discourse and empirical event,” which “makes it possible to excuse the bleakest of crimes.”

Leaf’s deconstruction of the de Man myth ends with McCarthy (“some Marxist, I am!”) repeating aloud a prayer to the Virgin Mary. In the words of Whittaker Chambers, the Communist spy who turned Christian, Deconstruction’s audience discovers that “man without mysticism is a monster.”

abuse, anti-religion, atheism, culture, education, elitism, ethics, history, ideology, left wing, liberalism, marxism, philosophy, progressive, relativism

Filed under: abuse, anti-religion, atheism, culture, education, elitism, ethics, history, ideology, left wing, liberalism, marxism, philosophy, progressive, relativism

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority

original article: The Exhaustion of American Liberalism
March 5, 2017 by SHELBY STEELE

The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos. Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”

For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.

Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks—Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.

This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.

This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.

Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.

This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.

Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.

american, bias, bigotry, corruption, culture, Democrats, discrimination, diversity, extremism, government, history, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, racism, relativism, unintended consequences

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