Libertarian conservatism 4

From time to time visitors to this website or our Facebook page query the idea – even the possibility – of there being such a thing as atheist conservatism. They are – almost always, as far as we can make out – Americans whose understanding is that the word “conservative” denotes Christian conservatism. To them, therefore, to speak of  “atheist conservatism” is to commit a contradiction in terms. Some have called it an oxymoron.

In Europe too, conservatism has a Christian coloration. Conservative political parties usually declare themselves to be Christian –  for example, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany. But their support does not come only from Christians. And in Britain the established Church of England has been called “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but the party does not exclude members of other Christian denominations or other religions, or the non-religious.

Yet it is an American conservatism that we embrace. It is faithfulness to the Constitution, to the essential idea that the United States was intended to embody as a nation: the idea of individual liberty protected by the rule of law.

The shortest answer we give to those who accuse us of being self-contradictory is to tell them what our prime principles are:

  • individual freedom
  • a free market economy
  • small government
  • low taxes
  • strong defense

And we point out that those are core principles of American conservatism. The Constitution – southern state critics please be reminded – does not require citizens to be Christian, or religious at all.

Just as often, perhaps even more often, we are told that we cannot be both conservative and libertarian: that the two traditions are separate and even inimical to each other, to the point of being mutually exclusive. Even if that were  true (and we don’t think it is), we consider it unnecessary to take tradition into account. The issue needs to be looked at philosophically, not historically. Our conservatism, holding the firmly conservative principles we have listed, is manifestly a conservatism of liberty.

And we think it is now, more than ever before, that the libertarian view should direct the political agenda of conservatism. A heavy counterweight is needed to bring America back from its tipping over into collectivism by the Left. Individual freedom urgently needs to be saved.

What is stopping conservatives from accepting libertarianism as its future? The libertarians themselves. Frequently, their public statements reveal them to be inexcusably ignorant of world affairs. They often advocate naive isolationism. They seem to lack a sense of what matters. The legalization of drugs could be wise and necessary, but it is not worth making a hullabaloo about  when jihad is being waged against us. A person should arguably be able to marry any other person or persons – or things – that they choose, but it is much more important that America should remain the world’s sole superpower.

John Hinderaker also thinks that this should be “the libertarian moment”. And he too reproaches libertarians with an underdeveloped sense of what matters to the existence, liberty, safety, and prosperity of the nation. 

He writes at PowerLine:

Every major strand of American conservatism includes a strong libertarian streak, because the value of liberty is fundamental to just about all conservative thought. But today, especially, is said to be the libertarians’ moment. What once was a fringe movement, politically speaking, has moved front and center in our political life.

And yet, in my view, libertarians of both the capital L and small l varieties punch below their weight. They have not contributed as much as they should to the conservative movement. This is partly because libertarians tend to founder on foreign policy, where many are merely modern-day isolationists. But it is also because they have tended to focus on secondary, or tertiary, issues of domestic policy.

A couple of years ago I was invited to a gathering on behalf of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who then was a libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I was well disposed toward him, but when he started talking, his first subject was legalization of drugs. Now he is the CEO of a marijuana company. Rand Paul is probably the leading libertarian at the moment; he purports to take seriously the threat that someone drinking coffee in an American cafe will be struck by a drone-fired missile.

American liberty is indeed under attack, and a libertarian movement is needed more than ever. But the threat to freedom is not drug laws or drone attacks.

The principal threat is the administrative state, which increasingly hems in everything we do and depends hardly at all on the will of voters. …

Calvin Coolidge, who knew the Progressives well and understood how antithetical their vision of government is to America’s founding principles [said]:

It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter [the Constitution]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Today we labor under an administrative state that has metastasized far beyond anything Coolidge could have imagined. It constrains our freedoms, it lays waste to our economy, it has largely rendered Congress irrelevant, and it threatens to make just about anyone a criminal, since no one can possibly keep track of all of the myriad regulations with which we are encumbered. And let’s not forget that the administrative state is run by liberals, for liberals.

Despite the fact that it is antithetical to the Constitution and to American traditions, there is little opposition to the administrative state as such. Conventional politicians suggest that regulations can be made less irrational and less burdensome – a good idea, certainly – but hardly anyone questions the fundamental concept of Congress delegating its powers to unelected and mostly unaccountable agencies that are charged with managing just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly everyone considers the administrative state, as such, to be inevitable.

Why don’t libertarians stake out a “radical” position on domestic policy? Why not argue, not just for a moderation in the inevitable drift toward a more and more powerful administrative state, but for a return to the Constitution’s central principle – the very first words of Article I – that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”, a Congress that is accountable to the people.

A battle is being fought for the liberties of the American people and, frankly, it isn’t going well. The fight has little or nothing to do with drugs and drones. If libertarians are serious about preserving and expanding liberty, they should join the fight that matters. A libertarian movement that focuses on a rollback of the administrative state would be “radical,” but it also would put libertarians in the vanguard, not on the fringe, of American conservatism.

Longing for ruin 2

What will everyday life  be like –  for those who are allowed to live at all – in the Utopia towards which the Left is dragging us?

Actually, about half the voters of America are not being dragged; they are striding voluntarily into that future. Why? How do they imagine it will be? In what ways will it be better than it had been until the dictatorship by this Leftist elite began?

Dr Ileana Johnson Paugh, who has experienced life in an oppressed collectivized country, watches with dismay as the America she came to in order to find freedom, changes into the sort of country she fled from.

She writes at Canada Free Press:

There are days when I watch in a daze the slow motion transformation of America into the country I left 36 years ago.

Change is good for America, I am told by those who decided in their ignorant collectivist minds that they know what’s best for the rest of the country, for the rest of the world.

Why must we destroy everything in order to satisfy the wishes of the ruling elite, the oligarchs in power, who are busy re-writing all our laws, inviting in corruption, lawlessness, and deceit? …

Why are Americans dissatisfied with their abundant lifestyle, their top-notch medical care, and generous welfare system, abundance of food, outstanding opportunity for education, advancement, promotion, and freedom of mobility?

What do they imagine that resides behind the tall green fence of egalitarian utopia …? …

Do Americans long for the adobe-style village dwellings made of mud bricks and without electricity where I spent the first seven years of my life?

Perhaps they enjoy standing in line for hours to get basic ingredients of food while fighting for the last loaf of fresh bread or kilo of flour? What a fine opportunity to get to know your entire neighborhood while waiting in food lines and engage in some competitive shoving.

Maybe they like it when shelves are empty and the pharmacies never have the drugs they need because they are in short supply and are delivered first to the regime’s oligarchs. It might scale back the collective drug dependency.

Maybe they don’t mind the lines to get toilet paper, lines that wrap around for many blocks. Who needs toilet paper when nature has plenty of leaves?

Surely they must be envying the equality of low paying salaries and forced job assignments as far away from home as possible. Nobody should have to come home but once a week. Dormitories at the place of employment are just fine. Think about all the gas and electricity saved and the carbon credits earned.

Maybe they enjoy being spied upon for their own safety by the elites, and moved into crowded, densely populated, dirty, and noisy government-run apartments. They can build such a diverse community of like-minded neighbors who “meditate” together.

Are they envying the fuzzy feeling of equality and of saving nature [for what?], … while walking miles to the grocery store, work, the market, or the doctor?

Maybe they are envying the equality of waiting for hours to see a doctor and being told to come back the next day because the doctor has filled his government-quota of patients for the day.

Perhaps they are daring and wish to have their teeth extracted or drilled without anesthetics because they have not been delivered to doctors in years. Nobody needs toxic substances in their bodies.

Maybe they welcome the communist indoctrination in schools and the rounding up of parents weekly to be humiliated in front of the entire parent body because their children are not marching obediently enough in lock-step with the “dictatura” of the regime.

Conceivably they must enjoy gawking at the one-sausage hanging in the window while the elites shop at their own stores and visit their own hospitals.

Possibly they enjoy staying at home, waiting for the government check and other unearned “entitlements” to arrive, hopefully on time, and the coupons for food rationing …

Conceivably they may enjoy staying in the dark on a regular basis when power is cut off, shivering when heat does not reach their apartments, and sweltering in summer because air conditioning is not allowed or too expensive.

Americans may learn to enjoy the freedom of not bathing because water is rationed. Who needs to smell good or wash clothes when it is so much easier to go dirty and with matted hair? Shampoo and soap are overrated, we are told by Europeans, we bathe too much and our skin dries out. Think how soft and smooth your skin will be from lack of bathing. We would be saving Mother Nature. We are not sure what we would be saving the planet for, but we are saving it to thrive back to wilderness. That would make environmentalists really happy. …

The Democratic Party is seeking this transformational change with dizzying speed …  But we are not transforming fast enough into the “social justice” “environmental justice” and “coexist” Tower of Babel heaven they’ve promised their American followers and constituents. We must be nudged. A suggestion has been floated that they should change their name to the Communist Party since they are so neatly aligned with Marxism.

I can hardly wait for this American majority and the illegal aliens they support to attain the communist utopia they so richly deserve. …

We understand her bitterness. To witness the misery of the blind fools who voted for that utopia would be bitterly gratifying.

But what of those who never voted for it – who knew what it would be like and dreaded it? What will it take in effort and time for those who survive to restore the America they lost?

Luring the children 10

Children and young mothers with babes in arms are streaming into the US  over the Mexican border. They have come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, a distance at the very least of well over 1,000 miles. Reports say they are walking. What would you expect young girls and boys, little kids and burdened women to look like after walking 1,000 miles in the summer  heat, apparently carrying little or no sustenance for the journey, and passing through territory controlled by criminal gangs? The news pictures of them arriving in Texas and Arizona show those who reach their journey’s end looking quite healthy and fresh (though it is said that they have brought infectious diseases). We guess they did not walk, but rode on wheels. We guess there is organization behind the vast migration. Transportation has been provided – paid for by whom?

It is in the interests of adults to send the children ahead to the US, and to take all necessary  measures to see that they get there safely. Their local news media have told them that “undocumented” children, once in the US, will not be deported, and that the US authorities will reunite them with their parents. Which suggests that parents will be not just allowed in, but brought in to the US.

Where did they get that from? Who or what has lured the children from Central America to the United States?

Diana West writes at Townhall:

It isn’t that the barbarians are at the gate. The barbarians control the gate. I don’t know what else to call a president and attorney general who have opened the US border to literally tens of thousands of “children” – some described as “sexually active” teens, some even suspected of ties to gangs. This not only breaks laws, it breaks trust. Opening the border this way also opens the most outrageous front to date in what increasingly looks like a kind of war aimed at “fundamentally transforming the United States of America“. And the people’s elected representatives do nothing.

Children are usually just children, but when 130,000 of them are expected to storm the border in the coming year, they more closely resemble an advancing column, a kind of foreign legion of child-mercenaries raised abroad with cynical promises of booty in the form of cradle-to-grave taxpayer charity.

But who will fight “children”? This is the audacity of this latest Obama “crisis”: Trojan horse as “humanitarian crisis”.  …

Of course, there is an undeniable genius to this form of border attack. All “the kids” from the rest of the world (do you really think Central America is the end?) have to do is serve as pitiful proxies of the assault. Once vanquished by pangs of conscience, however false, we’ll support them forever. We’ll have to. Have you taken a look at your local police department’s massive and bristling military hardware lately?

Just shut up and watch as this newfangled children’s crusade turns our border, the concept of nationhood itself, into dust. Welcome to Obamaland.

Of course, even the 17-year-old gangbangers among the youngsters aren’t the masterminds or generals. Like American citizens, they are pawns, dupes, lured by promises which Washington may indeed extract from Us, the People. “Go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away,” one Guatemalan mother told a radio station in the Rio Grande Valley. She is right. Come one, come all.

Once they are over the increasingly irrelevant line, Obama officials welcome the invading junior armies, shepherding them straight into an enfolding and enlarging federal safety net from which they may never have to emerge. These are just the newest wards of a brave new state that bears no resemblance to the republic as defined by those antique documents kept under glass in the dim light of the National Archives.

Meanwhile, “the kids” have hit the jackpot – that jackpot of socialist programs that separates today’s “new Americans” from our forefathers. Not so long ago, immigrants came for liberty and opportunity, not tax-supported handouts.

We are witnessing the betrayal of that nation of liberty and opportunity because there are so few in power with the courage to lawfully oppose it – not just rail about it all as a mere columnist.

Meanwhile, American citizens are footing the bill. Living costs aside, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama administration – i.e., We, the Taxpayers – will be providing attorneys for the legions of “unaccompanied minors”. Holder’s non-specific language is telling: “We’re taking a historic step to … protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” he said. Historic step is right – Legal Aid for the world. He continued: “How we treat those in need … goes to the core of who we are as a nation.”

OK, so who are we, Mr. Attorney General, as a “nation”? The Western Hemisphere?

Once upon a time, the U.S. staged the Berlin Airlift, mounting an astounding 200,000 flights in one year to keep Soviet-blockaded Berlin supplied with fuel and foodstuffs. Today, a more modest Central American Airlift would do to return these runaways to their families. One thing at a time, though. How about calling out the National Guard? It would even be of some comfort if someone in Congress went to the floor and told peoples of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the rest to stay the hell home.

So long as all of the government remains complicit or silent, this is nothing less than an unopposed invasion – an unopposed war, in other words, even if waged by the most unconventional means and by the most unlikely and unarmed “soldiers”.

Worst of all, though, it is a war that is being encouraged, if not led, by our own president while no one with all of the appropriate Constitutional powers vested in him is doing anything to stop him.

PIED PIPER

The injustice of “social justice” 5

The Left is intensely immoral, as unabashedly unscrupulous as a wild beast. It will shamelessly blacken the name of anybody it perceives as a danger to it with baseless lies. Example: Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, publicly announced that the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008, Mitt Romney, had not paid his taxes.

The Left will sacrifice any number of people, destroy their hopes, their health, their lives, if in their calculation doing so might give them an advantage. Example: Far-left President Obama is drawing tens of thousands of children over the Mexican border – to become, he hopes, future voters for his Party – by announcing that children who are in the US as illegal aliens will not be deported. All the children suffer. Many are ill. Some die.

The Left will deprive a law-abiding citizen, with armed force, of everything he has striven for in the name of some new oppressive regulation it has suddenly launched with a dim ideological end in view such as “environmental protection”. Example: A man who made a pond is being fined $75,000 a day by the EPA for doing just that, on the absurd grounds that the little stretch of water on his property is contaminating a river miles away.

These are just three examples, picked at random from the top of our composite editorial head, of present-day Leftist immorality in America. (How to choose from among the misdemeanors of the Clintons? An embarrasment of riches!) ) The theme of the Left’s iniquity is so vast that volumes could be written about it, and have been. In other countries, Leftist powers have committed mass-murder on an unimaginable scale by poison-gas, firing-squad, torture, overwork, and deliberate starvation.

And what compounds the evil and swells the monstrousness of it all is that they do it  in the name of compassion. Their aim, they claim, is to better the lot of the the underdog. They will make the poor richer by taking riches from the rich and giving them to the poor until all are materially and socially equal. They do not want the only form of equality that is just – equality before the law. It offends them, they say (even the richest among them, and most of them are rich) to see inequality between the richest and the poorest.

With them, equality  is not a moral principle but an aesthetic one.

They call the ideal of it “social justice“.

Paul Mirengoff writes at PowerLine, in part commenting on an article by Peter Wehner defending “social justice” (though Wehner is not a Leftist):

Justice has always been understood in our tradition as justice for the individual, qua individual. When a person goes to court, either in a criminal or a civil case, our system strives to provide him with a result that is fair given what he has done or failed to do. This is what we understand justice to be. Thus, when we say that justice should be blind, we mean that it should be rendered without regard to a person’s social status and without regard to the demands of this or that social agenda.

If justice is an individual-centric concept, then there is no room for the concept of social justice. The pursuit of social justice may lead to action that is consistent with justice, for example a non-discrimination statute. But the concept of “social justice” isn’t required to justify such a law; nor is it invoked to do so, since arguments for simple justice are always more persuasive (for example, the sponsors of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 took pains to assure the nation, probably disingenuously in some cases, that the law would preclude racial preferences).

The pursuit of social justice may also lead to action that is inconsistent with justice, such as granting racial preferences or expropriating someone’s property for “the greater good”. Such action is not justice, but rather justice’s antithesis. Thus, we should object when it is marketed as “social justice”. 

In sum, the concept of social justice has no value. In the first scenario, it is superfluous; in the second, it is false advertising.

[Peter] Wehner argues that “any society that fails to dispense some measure of sympathy and solicitude to others, particularly those living in the shadows and who are most vulnerable to injustice, cannot really be a good society”.  I agree. But vulnerability to injustice can be countered by the rigorous pursuit of simple justice. And sympathy and solicitude can be dispensed under these labels, rather than as a form of justice.

Wehner recognizes this when he concludes: “Whether this effort travels under the banner of social justice or some other name, to do justice and to love mercy is what is required of us, as individuals and as a society”. But the banner under which the charitable project travels matters.

When it travels under the banner of social justice, it gains extra moral authority that it does not deserve. The genuine tension between our desire to do justice (as commonly understood) and to be merciful is elided because justice is subsumed under mercy.

The result will be confusion and mischief, such as the aforementioned racial preferences and expropriation of property for “the greater good”. If rationalized as “social justice”, such components of the redistributionist project become entitlements, not favors to be granted, if at all, in small doses and under limited circumstances.

As [Friedrich] Hayek, who (as Wehner notes) deplored the concept of social justice, understood, therein lies the road to serfdom.

Besides, we cannot believe that devotees of the Left (once grown out of the ignorant idealism of adolescence) give a fig for “sympathy”, “solicitude”, or “mercy”. If they did they would take pains to find out what economic system really does better the lot of the poor (namely, the free market); and they wouldn’t repeat as they do that “the end justifies the means” – their excuse for sacrificing any number of their fellow human beings.

In fact many of them have dropped even the pretense of sympathizing with human beings. The victims of their “compassion” were first the proletarians. Then, as the proletarians in the Western world became too prosperous (because they had a degree of freedom) to qualify as pretexts for vast destruction, they focused on the lumpenproletariat. That class also became too well-off to care about. So then they moaned about the lot of  “women” – by which they meant feminists – and people of unconventional sexual preferences. Many of them moved on to animals. But their ever-restless avant-garde did not stop there. They are now working to sacrifice more people than ever before on the grounds that it will be good for the wilderness, for rocks and stones, and even the vast, spinning, molten-cored planet - the ultimate victim of “social injustice”. (See our post, Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.)

It would be enormously laughable as a theory, if it wasn’t colossally tragic as historical and contemporary reality.

Picking the wrong data 4

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (see our review of it, The Savior of Socialism Proves the Worth of Capitalism, under Pages) has been found to contain serious errors by the Financial Times.

Their findings confirm the unfavorable verdict pronounced on the book by both our reviewer Don L and, in comment, by our in-house economist Burro.

We quote from the FT article by Chris Giles:

The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets …

The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.

Prof Piketty … provides detailed sourcing for his estimates of wealth inequality in Europe and the US over the past 200 years. In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.

Now we see nothing wrong, in any case, with income or wealth inequality. (Piketty confuses the two.) We have observed that, in open societies, wherever the rich are richest, the poor are least poor.

It is the Left that wants economic equality, and wherever it has tried to establish that impossible condition it has not just failed, it has created hell on earth.

The Left swooped on Piketty’s obese compendium of wishes and errors, as a vindication of socialist theory.  (See for example the encomium by the leftist professor Paul Krugman here. He thinks Piketty has made a “masterly diagnosis” in his “superb book”.)

So we hail the FT’s revelations with more than a touch of unapologetic Schadenfreude.

In a comment today under our post The savior of socialism proves the worth of capitalism (May 20, 2014), Burro writes:

A great leap forward has just occurred!

No less than the Financial Times of London has right on it’s front page today, Saturday, an exposé of Pick-your-number’s book and the loony numbers it contains. It then proceeds to demolish most of the Socialist conclusions on page 3. …

[Piketty] has been shown to have attended the “Al Gore” school of statistics, and not only made errors of transcription, ie putting numbers in the wrong place which surprise, surprise was beneficial to HIS thesis but not the opposite, but “the [FT] investigation found numerous mistakes in [his] work: simple fat-finger errors; sub-optimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing; unexplained use of different time periods; and inconsistent uses of source data”. …

Picketty says he is “…happy to change my (ie his) conclusion” should such numbers be incorrect. …

Burro does not believe Piketty will change his conclusion or his mind. He wrote the book because he believes with fixed certainty that socialism is good.

It isn’t.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, communism, Economics, Marxism, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 24, 2014

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The “savior of socialism” proves the worth of capitalism 8

Today we post, in our Pages section, a review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty. 

The review, by Don L, is titled:  The “Savior  of Socialism” Proves the Worth of Capitalism. (To go there, click on the title under Pages, at the top of our margin.)

Here is an extract :

Piketty’s Marxian monster is one nonsensical – and previously discarded – economic notion after another. He doesn’t grasp that there is no distribution of income, favorably or negatively, in a Free Market Capitalistic system. All wealth is allocated by consumers … they are kings and queens of an economy and of a truly JUST society. They determine what producer satisfies needs and wants most successfully. It’s consumer meritocracy! Nobody from General Foods ever shows up at the door with a threat of imprisonment if you don’t buy. Further, Piketty holds to the long-ago-tossed idea that capital is homogeneous. Capital is heterogeneous, and it is the putting together, by an entrepreneur, of the right combination of capital to serve consumers’ demands, in an uncertain environment, that determines profit or loss. Remember, an entrepreneur pays wages well in advance of sales revenue. There is absolutely no such thing as a guaranteed or certain rate of return on capital such as Piketty chronically and erroneously incorporates in his formulations. …

Mr Piketty’s book, except for unintentionally proving that government causes income inequality, is worthless, and his endeavor is doomed. Piketty fails to comprehend that inequality arises when government economic intervention distorts free exchange into an unnatural 3-party, buyer-seller-government, lose-lose-win by coercion, framework. He just doesn’t understand that there can never be a sufficiency of data, nor a mathematical model, by which you can emulate the free and willing, person-to-person, win-win interaction of hundreds of millions of people making trillions upon trillions of decisions about what they think is best for themselves as they allocate dollars/wealth through exchange. Governments cannot legislate or impose a false reality.

“Socialism fails because it’s based on the emotion of SHOULD.

Free Market Capitalism succeeds because it’s based on the reality of IS.”

Ludwig von Mises

The author supplies a very useful list of books at the end of the review.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, Economics, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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America’s Red Guard 12

We often quote Daniel Greenfield because we often like what he says and how he says it.

Here he is writing about America’s Red Guard (we quote his article in part):

As the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution approaches some of the former students who participated in its Red Guard terror have been trying to make amends to their victims. If China’s former leftist fanatics feel some remorse for the atrocities they participated in, the same can’t be said of their American counterparts.

Even as the Cultural Revolution was dying down in China, it flared up in the United States. The Weather Underground drew inspiration from China’s Red Terror. Their founding manifesto cited the Red Guard as a model for a “mass revolutionary movement.”

Bill Ayers, among others, had signed a letter, “Long live People’s China. Long live Comrade Mao.”

The American counterparts of China’s Red Guard remain largely unrepentant because here the  Cultural Revolution never ended. Instead it went mainstream. Its members were never disavowed and their acts of terror continue to be celebrated, minimized and whitewashed by a left that finds them alternately embarrassing and thrilling.

The terrorists became celebrities and the radicals became part of the system and set the rules. There was less violence, but more authoritarianism. Instead of carrying on a futile campaign of bombings and bank robberies, the radicals used the vast wealth and power of the system to train the next generation of the Red Guard. And that next generation did the same thing.

Each wave of the Cultural Revolution in the United States has eroded civil rights and illiberally undermined a liberal society. Though the Red Guards have chosen to work within the system, they are animated by an unmistakeable contempt and hatred for the country and its institutions. Their endgame has not changed. Only their tactics have.

Barack Obama, a child of the Cultural Revolution, is the very model of a modern Red Guard. The mark of a successful revolution is that the revolutionaries no longer need extreme rhetoric since they can do anything they want. The Weather Underground engaged in extreme rhetoric and actions. Obama dispenses with the extreme rhetoric and gets right down to the extreme actions. He is calculating enough to avoid the verbal vindictiveness of an Ayers or a Wright, but he still chose them as his mentors. …

The virtue of the creative individual was displaced by the Red Guard’s virtue of outrage. Its members mistake the thrill of abusing others for the rightness of a moral crusade. They celebrate the elimination of all restrictions that prevent them from punishing their victims as a revolutionary act.

This form of crowdsourced political terror by elites and their pet mobs isn’t new. It’s only new to the United States.

Political outrage is the supreme virtue of both the American and Chinese Red Guard. The denunciations leading from that outrage show off their revolutionary commitment to everyone.

The lines of scapegoats paraded through the media for some petty crime against political correctness are a modern digital version of the Red Guard’s denunciations and humiliations. The politics and the poisoned power motives are the same. The only difference is that the Red Guard lacks the license to commit real violence, as of now, and must instead settle for economic and social violence.

The virtue of outrage leads to a state of authoritarian lawlessness. Legislatures and laws are replaced with an alliance between the executive authority of Barack Obama and the Red Guard activists. The activists demand, the media manufactures outrage and Obama uses executive orders to deliver. …

When outrage displaces the process of the law, what remains is either authoritarianism or anarchy. And despite the occasional Circle-A embroidered on a pricey jacket, the progressive Red Guard are not anarchists. What they are after is not less authority, but more of it. Not more freedom, but less of it. Their rhetoric about banks and corporations disguises what they intend for the rest of us.

They are not fighting against power. They are fighting for power.

The Red Guard, whether it’s the Occupiers or Barack Obama, abide by no rules except those of their own ideology. The United States Constitution and the rule of law mean nothing to them. The rules of their ideology are expressed formally in private, but publicly as outrage or empathy.  …

The momentum of emotion has no room for argument or dissent. There is no possibility of negotiation or compromise. Everything exists in black and white. Reason is not even a factor. There is nothing to debate. Either you agree or you are the enemy.

Under the rule of the Red Guard … freedom of speech and thought are only provided to those who say and think the right things. The same is true for all else. There are no rights, as we know them anymore.  Only a binding mandate of social justice. The right to speak your mind or donate to a political cause is valid only if it serves that mandate. …

“Social justice” of course means injustice. It means government using its monopoly of force to take wealth away from those who have earned it and give it to those who haven’t.

Justice [to the left] is not blind. She’s a community organizer coming out on the side of the social justice faction against the greedy and ignorant majority. The entire system, political, cultural and legal, is a means of enforcing the mandate. Its administrators are an elitist faction whose contempt for the people leads them to believe that tyranny is the only way to equality. …

The artificial and extraordinary force of the Red Guard is a perverse parody of mob rule. Our Red Guard, like many in China’s Red Guard, are the sons and daughters of the elites. Their violence is a ferocious assault of the top against the middle in the name of the low.

They manufacture an elitist populism in order to call for despotism.

In New York City, the sons and daughters of the elite stopped shaving, set up camping tents opposite Wall Street and clamored for the radical change that their parents were already busy implementing.

Occupy Wall Street, like every modern manifestation of the Red Guard in the United States, and like the original Red Guard, was a cynical power move by a ruling elite. The fake populism of 1 percenter brats shrieking about income inequality while campaigning to destroy the middle class and what’s left of the working class was true despotism.

The new Cultural Revolution is aimed at shrinking the already narrow power and prosperity of the majority for the sake of the minority. Not the minority of racial or ethnic minorities, but the minority of elites that is determined to get its way by any means necessary.

The 50th anniversary of China’s Cultural Revolution will coincide with a national election in the United States that will serve in part as a final referendum on the Red Guard reign of the previous eight years. Like the Chinese, Americans will be forced to confront the ruin of their institutions, the polarization of their society and the victims of the Red Guard’s political inquisitions.  

50 years from now, will the students eagerly tearing down a liberal society and replacing it with outraged denunciations and media purges also regret their role in the new Cultural Revolution?

We doubt they will. Bill Ayers never matured sufficiently to regret his acts of terrorism, or his admiration for the atrocious regime of Mao Zedong. He comes from the wealthy middle class. He owes all he has, including his comfortable living, his freedom and his celebrity to the open system of capitalist America. A softly-reared child of privilege,  prosperity, and tolerance (extended to extreme indulgence in his case), he wouldn’t last long under actual communism as enforced by Mao or Stalin or Castro.

Unless Americans of his sort are brought to want, hunger, physical wretchedness and real political oppression, they will never comprehend the true nature of communist totalitarianism. And their reduction to those conditions is unlikely to happen despite all their blind efforts to bring about the system that would guarantee them. Capitalism will go on looking after its aberrant children for decades yet, even though the Red establishment will do all it can to hinder it and demonize it. As Daniel Greenfield says, the Red Guards in power are of Bill Ayers sort. Barack Obama himself belongs to the “1%” he and his minions denigrate. So does Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and the Clintons.

As we have often done before, we quote Joseph Conrad on the sort of people they are. He is writing here specifically about women. What he says perfectly describes Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers’s wife Bernadine Dohrn, and Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. (See our post Daisyville, April 22, 2013).

For all their assumption of independence, girls of that class are used to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of their audacious gestures. …

She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of revolutionary convictions – the gestures of pity, of anger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian vices of the social class to which she belonged herself. … 

She was displaying very strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had already written many sentimental articles with ferocious conclusions.” 

- Joseph Conrad (The Informer)

Conrad’s scornful portrait of privileged women playing with revolutionary ideas applies equally well to the male of the species.

The transformation of America into a communist state … can it be stopped? 5

David Horowitz was a “red-diaper baby”. In his own words:

I was a leftist as early as I can remember. Raised in a Communist family and surrounded by radicals my entire childhood, I could hardly be anything else”.

- Until

A  friend of mine named Betty Van Platter was murdered by the Black Panthers in 1974. … I  was forced to question my most basic beliefs, and that began my long and difficult journey to sanity.”  

We’ve just received a booklet from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, titled Rush Limbaugh’s Conversation with David Horowitz. (The whole of the conversation, which took place six months ago in November, 2013, can be read here.)

The following  are extracts from it:  

Horowitz: … According to a Pew poll, 49% percent of young Americans have a favorable view of socialism. What is socialism? It is a system that leads to mass misery, mass impoverization, and human slaughter. That’s what it means. Yet almost half of the young think it’s benign …

RUSH: … I look at so-called conservative commentators in Washington who seem to be content to commentate, but they don’t have any interest in beating this back. I don’t want to mention names, but most of them are that way. Same thing with the Republican Party. You come from the left. You’re one of the founders of the New Left. You’ve emerged; you were in the inner circle. You’ve spent much of your career trying to explain who these people are, the destructive, vicious malice that they have.

HOROWITZ: Yes.

RUSH: And you don’t think — this is astounding to me — you don’t think that the Republicans or conservatives really yet comprehend the seriousness of the threat.

HOROWITZ: No.

RUSH: Wow.

HOROWITZ: No. Otherwise they wouldn’t be squabbling among themselves so much. There’s another thing going on, and that is that the left controls the language. Our universities, our schools, our mainstream media are gone [into the hands of the left] — so if you pick a real fight with the left, you get tarred and feathered, as you know all too well. Conservatives are brought up in a healthy way; they mind their reputations, they don’t want to be bloodied, they don’t want to be looked at as kooks and extremists, which are the terms of abuse that are used.

RUSH: That’s true.

HOROWITZ: Obama is a compulsive, habitual liar. He makes Bill Clinton look like a Boy Scout. Clinton spun things and he did lie about something very personal and embarrassing to him, but Obama lies about everything, and all the time. And yet it’s taken five years for people to start saying this. Including conservatives. Take so-called single payer health care. Why do we use phrases like “single payer?” It’s communism! If the state controls your access to health care, which is what this is about, they control you.This is a fundamental battle for individual freedom, which is what conservatives are about, or should be. But who’s saying this about Obama’s plan to organize health care along communist lines?

RUSH: Let’s talk about persuasion a second. I’ve got true believers in my audience, and I’ve also got elements of the low-information or the swing-voter segment, and then a few leftists who listen. One thing I have discovered over the course of my career is that whenever I’ve used the word “communism” to describe, say, typical modern-day liberals, people say, “Oh, come on, Rush! They’re not communists!” It ends up being counterproductive, because I have found people don’t want to believe that about somebody like Obama. How do we go about persuading people that it is what it is?

HOROWITZ: That’s a very good question. … I think the language problem is a very serious one. I once tried to launch the word “neo-communist.” We talk about neo-fascists, so how about neo-communists? But that doesn’t work. People look at you as a relic if you use the term. But you have to at least say what their agenda is, and their agenda is controlling, is destroying individual freedom. That’s the way I would do it. By continually reminding people of what their agenda is. It’s anti-individual freedom. You can’t talk about the national debt just as an accounting problem. It’s taking away the freedom of future generations. It means that you have to work for the government instead of yourself. Currently we work something like half our lives for the state. Every other day we’re working for the government instead of for ourselves. What Obama is doing is diminishing the realm of freedom. Conservatives need to keep bringing that up all the time. …

RUSH: You pointed out that Democrats are always in lockstep, in contrast to Republicans, who are all over the place rhetorically and strategically. You said, and I’m quoting here, “The result is that a morally bankrupt, politically tyrannical, economically destructive [Democrat] Party is able to set the course of an entire nation and put it on the road to disaster.” David, people always ask, my callers ask me, “Why don’t the Republicans do ‘x’? Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?” So let me ask you why. Aside from what you’ve said, that there’s a fear of being castigated by the media, mischaracterized. … Republicans simply don’t want to have mean things said about them. They want to be liked by the people who run Washington, D.C. But I don’t even see any pushback from the Republican Party. They’ll go after Ted Cruz and they’ll go after Sarah Palin and they’ll go after Mike Lee, but they won’t go after Obama.

HOROWITZ: Exactly. I have never seen Republicans conduct such bloody warfare as they do against conservatives. They don’t do that to Democrats, ever. And I think it’s great that all the people that you mentioned, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, are people, finally, who don’t care what The Washington Post says, don’t care what The New York Times says, and don’t care what the Republican establishment says. That’s the way it has to be done. I will tell you that the big difference between the left and the right that I saw when I came into the conservative movement 30 years ago was that the right had no ground army. I watched as the Democratic Party was pushed to the left by the activists in the streets — the MoveOn.org people, the Netroots — until it’s now just a left-wing Party. It was Howard Dean, a 60s leftover, who launched the anti-Iraq war campaign that shifted the whole Democratic Party. But on the Republican side, there was nobody pushing from the right. There was no ground war, no force pushing on Republicans from the grassroots. Now we have the Tea Party.

RUSH: You come from the belly of the beast. …  You lived this stuff. You were a leader of the left in your youth. Talk about MoveOn.org — these are average Americans. They may make $50,000 a year. The Netroots, they’re a bunch of people in their pajamas, sitting there blogging and posting. What do they think is in it for them? They are not people Obama is prospering.

HOROWITZ: What’s in it for them is the fact that progressivism is a religion, or a crypto-religion. Like religious people, they believe the world is a fallen place. But they also believe that they can be its saviors. Salvation and redemption are … going to come … from the movement they are part of, from the organized left. What they get out of this is the consolation of religion. They get a sense of personal worth; they get a meaning to their lives. That’s what drives them. It’s not money. It’s much more powerful. When Whittaker Chambers left communism, he said, “I’ve left the winning side for the losing side.” Why did he think that? Because communists have ideas they’re willing to die for, and conservatives don’t. Conservatives have to get that idea. They have to understand that their freedom will be lost if we don’t stop the left.

RUSH: About stopping them. …  Can the right triumph ever again?

HOROWITZ: I remain an optimist, which brings me to the second problem with conservatives. In addition to their decency and their not wanting to make enemies and not wanting to turn politics into war, they’re fatalists. If you think you’re going to lose, you can’t win. That’s very basic. I believe there’s a lot of hope. The ideas of the left are bankrupt. They don’t work. We’re seeing this now with Obamacare. Ludwig von Mises wrote a book in 1922, titled: Socialism. He explained that you can’t centrally plan a large economy, and he showed why. 1922. That’s almost 100 years ago, yet the Democratic Party rammed through Obamacare, ignoring what the last 100 years has proved. They’re going to organize the health care of 300 million Americans with their computers. It’s lunacy. Yet it’s the policy of the whole Democratic Party. They’ve staked their political future on this. … To sell Obamacare, they claimed — lied — that it’s to cover the uninsured. But it doesn’t even do that. Everything they said about Obamacare is a lie. Why? Because their real agenda is not health care. It’s to create a socialist state. To do that they need comprehensive control over people’s lives. I never thought I’d be saying this, because I didn’t see it even in a remote future, but we’re on the brink of a one-party state if they were to succeed. If you are ready to use the IRS politically, if you have access to every individual’s financial and health care information, and if your spy agency can monitor all communications, you don’t need a secret police to destroy your opponents. Anybody you want to destroy, you’ve got enough information on them and control to stop them. That’s how close we are to a totalitarian state. They want to control your life — for your own good of course — even to the point of whether you can buy Big Gulps. That’s not incidental.

RUSH: No, it’s not. Now when this kind of thing happens … I wonder about the average American, somebody who’s not an activist like you or me. Do they not see this, and if they don’t, how can they be made to see it?

HOROWITZ: I don’t think they see it. Most people are averse to politics and don’t pay that much attention. However, Obamacare is going to make them pay attention because his plan affects so many people. You have to start using moral language against these people. I want to hear our guys saying, “This is a threat to individual freedom. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you run up the debt like this. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you put them all in a government-controlled program like this. Government should not have this information.”  …  Every time they have a program that hurts individual liberty, we need to stop talking about it as though it was just about money. The money figures are so big, trillions, nobody can even grasp them, unless they’re very involved in the economy and understand it — and then they probably are Republicans. …  

RUSH: … Freedom requires personal responsibility. …

HOROWITZ: … We need to use a moral language. Notice when the left attacks, it’s always using moral language. Racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever. These attacks sting. We don’t use language like that. We need to. It’s they who are racist. …  Why are we letting them get away with their destruction of inner-city minority communities? Detroit, Chicago: why weren’t the disasters Democrats have visited on these cities huge in the Republican campaign last time? Democrats control these cities, they’ve controlled them for half a century and more. They’re ruining, destroying the lives of young black and Hispanic kids in these cities, and poor whites there as well. They’re 100 percent responsible for that, yet we never mention it. It is beyond me. … They don’t want to be at war, and particularly a moral war, with other Americans. But that is the reality. The left has already made it that. Republicans are treated as though they’re of the Party of Satan. That goes with the religious nature of leftist beliefs. Progressives believe that they are creating the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and that people who oppose them are the Party of the Devil. That’s the way they fight. We have to use that kind of language. Fight fire with fire.

RUSH: You’re nailing it. You came up with something … that I think is worth repeating, and to me it’s brilliant. I would never have seen it had you not pointed it out. You write that the fall of soviet communism had the unforeseen effect of freeing leftists from the burden of defending failed Marxist states, which in turn allowed them to emerge as a major force in American life. That’s so right on. The failure of communism, ironically, led to a rebirth of it in this country. We wipe it out in the Soviet Union, and a shining example of its atrocities goes away, and it becomes a tougher sell to educate people what it is. 

HOROWITZ: Exactly, and leftists saw that at the time. That’s the first thing they said about it. …  That’s why connecting them to the communists is very important. It’s part of the battle. Republicans, and conservatives as well, have let the foreign policy issue, national security, slip off the political radar. Barack Obama is a supporter of the Islamofascists. He’s supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that wants to … destroy America. Obama and Hillary have supported them. Their Administration is infiltrated by Islamist agents. That’s why Benghazi is so important, and why I’m really encouraged that Republicans haven’t let it totally disappear. …

If conservatives and Republicans do learn at last to “fight fire with fire”, can America’s leftward slide be stopped? Can America be restored to a country that values and protects the freedom of the individual? Rush asks Horowitz if the rule of the left – of the Democratic Party – will “implode”.

HOROWITZ: I think they’re going to go down in flames in the coming election. I’m hoping for that, and I can’t see how that won’t happen.

So David Horowitz, at this point, is optimistic.

We would like to share his optimism. But we have one difference of opinion with him which makes us less sanguine that a Republican victory - even if led by a person such as Ted Cruz who understands the urgency of the need to recover from the leftward slide – is almost certain.

He says, in the same conversation, “we need morality, religion, laws”. Morality and laws, yes, we need them. But religion? He means a religion with a god – to oppose the communist religion which has no god. He observes with wonder the inability of the left to learn from the horrible history of their religion that it only creates widespread misery and sheds lots of blood. Yet he fails to learn from the much longer horrible history of god-worshipping religions that they created widespread misery and shed lots of blood.

We immensely admire the great work David Horowitz has done, and continues to do, teaching Americans the awful truth of the left’s ideology, and actively combating it.

But if the right insists on sticking “God” into its political platform, the left is much less likely to “go down in flames”.

That dangerous thing – education 3

Crisis Magazine is a Catholic site.

But -

William Kilpatrick makes some points there that we agree with, among some that we do not. We quote:

Question:  What does Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist organization, have in common with Western educators?  Answer:  Both think that Western education is sinful.  Fortunately, Western educators will not burn down your church or school with you inside as Boko Haram does to those who persist in their Western ways.  Unfortunately, the type of education provided by Western educators will leave you totally unprepared for the likes of Boko Haram.

Agreed.

Roughly translated, “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sinful”.  So there’s little doubt about where it stands.  But in what way can it be said that Western educators believe the same thing?  I don’t know if any educators have actually declared that Western education is sinful, but it’s not unfair to say that contemporary educational theory in the West is built upon a rejection of traditional Western education.  Beginning with Rousseau’s Emile (1762), Western intellectuals began to challenge the Judeo-Christian view of the child and along with it traditional ideas about how children should be educated.

 He describes what he thinks of as Christian education approvingly: 

According to the earlier conception, one which still endures in some corners of our society, the child is born in original sin and, therefore, a good part of his education should be devoted to helping him overcome his natural tendencies to laziness, selfishness and pleasure-seeking.  The goal of such education was the transmission of hard-learned cultural lessons through the study of history, literature, scripture and science.

All good subjects (though about scripture, see our last paragraph).

Two comments. One: “original sin” was disobedience followed by lust - not laziness, selfishness and (oh, dear!) pleasure-seeking. Two:  For a thousand years, most children in Christendom were taught Christianity but not literacy. Once Christianity descended darkly over Europe, replacing the Roman Empire with the Catholic Church, most children received no education at all except the Christian myth along with the fear of Hell.

But what the writer says next is right on:

According to the Romantic tradition which began with Rousseau and which by the late 1960s had become the dominant philosophy in American education, the child is born in a state of original innocence with trustworthy impulses that should be followed, not denied.  Romantic thinkers believed in nature with an almost religious fervor; in their view, man had fallen not from a state of grace but from the state of nature.  Sin was a product of civilization, and if there were such a thing as evil, it lay in placing unnatural constraints on the child’s natural spontaneity and wisdom.

The Romantic emphasis on the child’s inner wisdom led to a corresponding de-emphasis on the acquisition of factual knowledge.  Learning was thought to be a natural process and the child could therefore be trusted to learn what he needed to know by following his natural instincts.  Consequently, book-learning came to be looked upon by Romantic poets and philosophers as an unnatural imposition on the child’s natural development. Take Wordsworth’s poem, The Tables Turned:

Up!  up!  my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up!  up!  my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The third stanza extends the anti-book argument a bit further:

Books!  ‘tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music!  on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

In short, why bother with books [boko haram? - ed]) when you can find all you need to know in the book of nature?  That is the [we would say "one of the"] basic principle[s] of Romanticism.  For a very long time, most educators ignored this highly unrealistic approach to education.  Wordsworth, Emerson, Whitman and other Romantics were taught in schools, but they were celebrated for the beauty of their poetry and prose, not for their anti-bookish prescriptions.  Eventually, however, these ideas about natural learning came to exert a powerful influence on the imagination of educators — particularly those of the American variety.  By the 1930’s, under the name “progressive education”,  the Romantic theory had spread to teacher’s colleges throughout the U.S.  By the late 1960’s, it was the dominant philosophy in American classrooms.

The triumph of natural schooling theories did result in significant change — for the worse.  SAT scores began a long decline and the U.S. students soon ranked near the bottom of developed countries on international assessment tests.  The progressive movement did, however, produce a number of catchy slogans such as “holistic learning”, “child-centered schooling”, “at their own pace”, “self-esteem”, and “critical thinking skills”.  Those were the terms of approbation.  On the other hand, teachers were warned to avoid “memorization”, “rote-learning”, “mere facts”, “textbook-learning”, and “culturally biased curriculums”.

The progressives failed to realize, however, that you can’t think critically unless you have something to think about.  But, having been deprived of “mere facts”, students have very little material with which to “construct knowledge” (another popular piece of educational jargon).  How, for example, can students think critically about World War II if they’ve never heard of Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin or if they have no idea where Germany, Japan, Poland and France are located?

What, you may ask, does this have to do with Boko Haram?  Just this.  Boko Haram is one of the more violent manifestations of the global resurgence of Islam in our times.  Although it is marginally more brutal than other jihadist groups, it is not untypical.  There are dozens of such groups all over the world that seek by force to restore Islam to its former dominance.  The problem is, today’s anti-knowledge curriculums do not prepare students to think critically about what is happening in the Islamic world and what it means for the rest of us.

The disparagement of “mere facts” ensures that today’s graduates will know very little about the history of Islam.  And the Romantic elevation of non-Western traditions means that they will know even less about the bloody nature of that history.  Although American students will hear a great deal about Western imperialism, they are not likely to realize that Islam was one of the great imperial powers of all time.  At one time, the Islamic Empire stretched from Spain, across North Africa, and all the way to India.  The Empire was created by conquest, but high school and college texts tend to avoid that word in favor of euphemisms such as “the spread of Islam” or the “expansion of Islam.”  And how was this expansion accomplished?  According to one widely used high school history text, “The persecuted people often welcomed the [Muslim] invaders and chose to accept Islam.  They were attracted by the appeal of the message of Islam which offered equality and hope in this world.” …

- A  lie constantly repeated by Muslim propagandists.

Indeed, many accounts of Islamic history in American textbooks look like they could have been written by the Saudi Ministry for Propaganda and Whitewash.  Many world history textbooks, for instance, take great pains to inform readers that jihad has little to do with holy war but rather is best understood as “overcoming immorality,” “a personal inner struggle to achieve spiritual peace”, or a “striving … to achieve personal betterment”.  Moreover, in line with the Western habit of romanticizing non-Western cultures, textbooks present a highly romanticized (some would say, largely fictitious) portrait of Islam’s “Golden Age” in Spain and Baghdad.  According to one widely-used college text, “The Muslims created [in Baghdad and Cordoba] a brilliant urban culture” where libraries abounded and where “judges, merchants, and government officials, rather than warriors, were regarded as the ideal citizens”.  Meanwhile, over in the Christian Carolingian Empire, “Both gluttony and drunkenness were vices shared by many people…. Everyone in Carolingian society, including abbots and monks, drank heavily and often to excess.” …

It is necessary to remember that Christians burnt piles of volumes from the great library of Alexandria centuries before the Muslims came and destroyed it utterly. (It was ravaged by Christians in 391 CE, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 642 CE.)

There is nothing romantic about Boko Haram, and the facts concerning it don’t fit into the rose-colored narrative that is fed to our students about gentle Islamic expansion, interior spiritual struggles, and a library on every corner. …  Absent knowledge of Islam’s 1400-year history of jihad, the Boko Haram campaign to exterminate Nigerian Christians must seem like an aberration — something completely unrepresentative of the true Islam.  And so will the attacks on Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and elsewhere.  They will be perceived as discrete, disconnected events that have “nothing to do with Islam” because American citizens are largely unfamiliar with the historical pattern that would help to make sense of these supposedly senseless actions.

What does that pattern look like?  Islam scholar Raymond Ibrahim provides this brief description of the European experience with Islam:

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order):  Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

It seems well past time to wake up from the romantic dream and reacquaint ourselves with that once-familiar, now forgotten pattern.

We agree of course with his abhorrence of Islam, and with his objections to Romanticism.

We see Romanticism as the (admittedly godless but nevertheless mystical) religion that replaced Christianity when the Enlightenment broke the power of the Churches and brought Christianity into open question.

We see it as the enemy of Reason, scorning proper education, and science, technological innovation, the nation state, free trade, the free market, capitalism, individual freedom, the productive middle-class, prosperity, rule of law, civilization. Also skepticism. And humor.

At present Romanticism is hammering the Western world with two dogmas that are in an improbable alliance, that of Leftism and that of Islam.

Some Catholics, it seems, can share this understanding with us to an extent, though they would no doubt want the Church to rule again, and the irrationalities of Christianity to replace those of Socialism and Mohammedanism.

We agree with William Kilpatrick that our Western culture should be handed down. That means teaching facts, as he says – and critical examination of all opinion.

We want education to be  secular.

The Jewish and Christian scriptures should be taught as literature, and religion in history classes, because they have had a huge effect on our culture. But (as our frequent commenter Frank has urged inspirationally) they should be taught only by atheists.

Brandeis University true to itself 1

Brandeis University was being true to its despicable self after all when it treated Ayaan Hirsi Ali disgracefully.

It was where Herbert Marcuse, one of the most prominent apologists for the violently destructive New Left, indoctrinated students and wrote his staggeringly idiotic books.

This is from PowerLine, by Paul Mirengoff:

BRANDEIS’S “REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE”

Like me, Michael Leeden finds that “if there’s anything really new about Brandeis’ disinvitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it’s that they invited her at all”.  While many seem surprised that Brandeis, founded by Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, would align itself with Islamists and their apologists, Ledeen finds no underlying inconsistency.

Brandeis was the home of professor Herbert Marcuse, the iconic leftist philosopher of the 1960s. Marcuse dedicated his book Repressive Tolerance to his Brandeis students. He summarized its thesis this way:

The … realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period – a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression. . . .

The restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions. …

Marcuse gave the student rebels and the terrorists of the West European New Left “a justification for their aggression. He told them that they were quite as subjugated as those who lived in the totalitarian states on the other side of the Berlin Wall – by being forced to endure the tolerable and rewarding and comfortable, to suffer food and clothing and lodging beyond bare necessity, to have many varieties of luxury foisted on them, and to be conned into the illusion that they were free”.  (Quotation from Hitler’s Children by Jillian Becker.)

Paul Mirengoff concludes:

Herbert Marcuse would be proud of his old University.

Yes. Brandeis has been disgraceful for at least fifty years. But its treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali adds cold-blooded viciousness to its record.

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