Friday September 25 2015, was a momentous day of very good news and very bad news.
Cause for cheering:
The lachrymose John Boehner announced his forthcoming resignation as Speaker of the House, making way (one hopes) for a stronger Republican leader. No cause for the nation to weep, though no doubt he himself shed a few tears over his failure.
Cause for jeering:
1. Thousands more of Hillary Clinton’s emails surfaced, proving her to have perjured herself. Some hundreds of them, it is reported, concern Libya and Benghazi. We look forward to many a new revelation of her lies, her incompetence, and her self-serving malice. Reports also surfaced of her being seriously unwell. How much longer can the Democratic Party go on pretending that she can be its nominee for the presidency? For as long perhaps as it takes them to find someone else. At present it’s stuck with the corrupt Hillary, the old commie Sanders, and the dimwitted Biden.
2. The Peronist Pope urged America to promote socialism so everyone can be equally poor.
Cause for fearing:
Bigger news is overwhelmingly awful. Overwhelmed by a tsunami of Muslim migrants, Europe’s destruction is fully underway, and needless to say it’s a great tragedy. Of course the Europeans have earned their doom, but it won’t be good for America when the whole European continent is an Islamic caliphate governed by sharia law. And Obama has deliberately made the United States vulnerable to jihad. Through his efforts, there is a terrible probability of nuclear war in this century.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed in 1966. It is 49 years old. Strong, fit and stalwart, tried and true, this muscular Act is right now at the peak of its powers. It has taken on Hillary Clinton, who is 68 and afflicted with headaches, sleeplessness, small strokes, and incurable dishonesty. (See here, here, and here.)
Of course the FOIA is winning.
Which is very good news.
From the Wall Street Journal, by Kimberley Strassel:
The Clintons are street fighters, and over their scandal-plagued years they have mastered outwitting the press, Congress, the Justice Department, even special prosecutors. But the reason Mrs. Clinton isn’t winning her latest scandal is because she faces a new opponent — one she can’t beat: the Freedom of Information Act.
Of all the Clinton email revelations this week, none compared with a filing by the State Department in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court in Washington on Monday. The filing was a response to a FOIA lawsuit brought in March by conservative organization Citizens United. The group demanded documents from Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state related to the Clinton Foundation and to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. What the State Department revealed was a testament to the power of FOIA.
Congressional investigators can subpoena documents, but even if after long delays they get them, the investigators must trust that the agency handed over everything. The agency usually doesn’t. Under FOIA, by contrast, the agency is required by law to provide plaintiffs with a complete inventory and broad description of every document it has that pertains to the request — but is withholding. This is known as a Vaughn index. The State Department on Monday handed over its Vaughn index to Citizens United and, boy, are these email descriptions revealing.
We find that the State Department has — but is not releasing — an email chain between then-Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and a Clinton Foundation board member about the secretary of state’s planned trip to Africa. We find that the State Department has — but is not releasing — emails between Ms. Mills and foundation staff discussing “invitations to foreign business executives to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.” We find many undisclosed email chains in which State Department officials talk with Clinton Foundation officials about Bill Clinton speeches and Bill Clinton travel, including to events in North Korea and Congo.
Huma Abedin, a longtime confidante of Mrs. Clinton’s, was somehow allowed to work, simultaneously, at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and as a consultant to Teneo — a consulting firm run by Clinton loyalist Doug Band. All three of Ms. Abedin’s hats come into play in an undisclosed email exchange regarding a 2012 dinner in Ireland. As the Washington Examiner reported in May, Mrs. Clinton received an award at the dinner from a Clinton Foundation donor. The ceremony was promoted by Teneo. Mrs. Clinton attended in her official capacity as secretary of state. Sort through that.
We already know that the Clinton Foundation continued to take foreign money even while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. We now know this was only the start of the entwining. These email summaries show that the Clinton Foundation was the State Department and the State Department was the Clinton Foundation. All one, big, seamless, Clinton-promoting entity. We would know far more if State released the full emails. It is citing personal privacy as one reason not to make some public. In others, it claims the emails “shed no light on the conduct of U.S. Government business”.
Separately, we learn that the State Department is withholding from Citizens United and congressional investigators 14 separate exchanges between department employees regarding Benghazi. Most of these involve discussions of the State Department’s statement about the attack, or its responses to congressional inquiries about the attack. In short, those documents go directly to the focus of Congress’s probe: whether the administration covered up what it knew about the attack or the risks to the four American diplomats who were killed. The State Department is claiming attorney-client privilege for its withholding, since most of the exchanges involve Ms. Mills — who we now find also served as an attorney at the department. The Clintons think of everything.
All told, there are at least 35 FOIA lawsuits pending for Clinton-related email. Nearly everything important we’ve learned has come from those suits. They are why the State Department is releasing emails; why we know they contained classified information; why we know Mrs. Clinton’s aides also used unsanctioned email accounts; why we know that the State Department is covering for Mrs. Clinton.
Which explains why the Justice Department wants the judiciary to “consolidate” the lawsuits, claiming that the State Department is overwhelmed. The real goal is to shut down the process. Consolidation will slow discovery, and the chances of stopping the information flow is better if all the suits come before one judge, who might be friendly, rather than six unpredictable ones. But each organization bringing a suit deserves a separate hearing. It isn’t these groups’ fault that the State Department allowed Mrs. Clinton to go email rogue and now has a mess.
What Democrats are only beginning to understand is that 35 FOIA lawsuits is a guarantee of weekly Clinton email-news bombs. This isn’t ending. The polls keep measuring Mrs. Clinton in theoretical matchups.
The only matchup that matters is this one: Clinton vs. FOIA.
And FOIA is crushing it.
Insanity? Stupidity? Or just craven submission to Obama, the Dear Leader?
Democrats say what’s wrong with the Iran deal, then say they support it:
The Washington Post reports:
Thousands of Catholics poured onto the grass of Catholic University [today] to watch Pope Francis make a Spanish missionary a saint when he celebrates Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception … in Washington, the first canonization on U.S. soil.
During the Mass, Francis will canonize 18th century Franciscan theologian Junipero Serra, who is credited with spreading Christianity in California but is controversial among some for the treatment of Native Americans under his leadership.
So what sort of man was Junipero Serra?
Extracts from Wikipedia:
Junípero Serra Ferrer (1713 – 1784) was a Spanish Franciscan friar who founded a mission in Baja California and the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco, which at the time were in Alta California in the Province of Las Californias in New Spain. He began in San Diego on July 16, 1769, and established his headquarters near the Presidio of Monterey, but soon moved a few miles south to establish Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in today’s Carmel, California.
The missions were primarily designed to bring the Catholic Christian faith to the native peoples.
Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988, and Pope Francis expects to canonize him on September 23, 2015 during his first visit to the United States. This has been controversial with some Native Americans who criticize Serra’s treatment of their ancestors and associate him with the suppression of their culture.
During his 1752 visit to Mexico City, Serra sent a request from the college of San Fernando to the local headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition. He asked that an inquisitor be appointed to preside over the Sierra Gorda. The next day, Inquisition officials appointed Serra himself as inquisitor for the whole region.
Serra made a habit of punishing himself physically, to purify his spirit. He wore a sackcloth spiked with bristles, or a coat interwoven with broken pieces of wire, under his gray friar’s outer garment. In his austere cell, Serra kept a chain of sharp pointed iron links hanging on the wall beside his bed, to whip himself at night when sinful thoughts ran through his mind. His nightly self-flagellations at the college of San Fernando caught the ears of some of his fellow friars. In his letters to his Franciscan companions, Serra often referred to himself as a “sinner” and a “most unworthy priest”.
A man who could do that to himself – what could he do to “heretics”? Wikipedia does not tell us how he dealt with them. But we do know how the Inquisition generally dealt with them. And we are given an example of how he inspired masochism – to the point of death – in others:
In one of his sermons in Mexico City, while exhorting his listeners to repent their sins, Serra took out his chain, bared his shoulders and started whipping himself. Many parishioners, roused by the spectacle, began sobbing. Finally, a man climbed to the pulpit, took the chain from Serra’s hand and began whipping himself, declaring: “I am the sinner who is ungrateful to God who ought to do penance for my many sins, and not the padre [Serra], who is a saint.” The man kept whipping himself until he collapsed. After receiving the last sacraments, he later died from the ordeal.
During other sermons on the theme of repentance, Serra would hoist a large stone in one hand and, while clutching a crucifix in the other, smash the stone against his chest. Many of his listeners feared that he would strike himself dead. Later, Serra suffered chest pains and shortness of breath … While preaching of hell and damnation, Serra would sear his flesh with a four-pronged candle flame …
A model for all mankind.
Monica Showalter, writing at Investor’s Business Daily on the rival but similar socialist programs of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, gives this picture of a country where the policies both of them favor have been put into practice:
Amid all the free stuff, bankruptcy and shortages have come, the miserable process of “running out of other people’s money” as Lady Thatcher put it.
Standing in line for basic goods as Cubans do occupies the lives of millions of Venezuelans.
Some are clubbed to death as goods are fought over.
Young people prefer drug-dealing to college, given the absent opportunities for advancement.
Prisoners eat cat meat.
Corruption is rampant and central planning mismanagement ensures that food rots on the docks.
Hospitals are crumbling from shortages, with vital cancer and hemophilia medication unavailable. Maternity wards are overrun by filthy opossums — killing dozens of newborns as they spread disease.
With the focus on putting dissidents in prison, crime has overrun the country — with even a Miss Venezuela slain.
Family tombs are broken into and robbed of bones.
The scale of the horror, from birth to death in what Chavez called a socialist “sea of happiness” is unspeakable, and thousands of educated Venezuelans are fleeing.
Muslim immigrants march in Denmark, demanding the Danes submit to caliphate rule and sharia law:
Donald Trump is being taken to task by prissy Republicans and the moral priesthood aka the media for not correcting a questioner who called Obama a Muslim.
It seems fair to deduce from Barack Hussein Obama’s words and deeds that he is ardently pro-Muslim.
And he was surely regarded by Muslims as one of them when he attended a Muslim school – and a mosque – in Indonesia.
His father was a Muslim, and to Muslims that makes him a Muslim. And anyway, it’s the easiest thing to become a Muslim. You can slip into it without noticing what’s happening – just reading aloud a compulsory set-piece in the Common Core curriculum, for instance: the shahada, Islam’s declaration of faith. That’s all you need do to be counted by Muslims as a Muslim. And young Barry Hussein must have done that many a time.
He has spoken with feeling about the pretty sound of the muezzin’s call to prayer. He gave his first speech in a foreign country to the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. He bowed low to the King of Saudi Arabia. He brown-noses the musty mullahs of Iran. He brings Muslim Brotherhood advisers into the White House. He instructed NASA to reach out to Muslims and convince them that they are great scientists. He declared the US to be a Muslim country, and decreed that Muslims have contributed greatly to it progress. (Which Muslims did that he has not divulged.) He celebrates the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Fitr with a White House dinner for Muslims, every year he’s in office, with gusto. He shares the Islamic world’s antipathy to Israel and Jews. He’s letting Iran acquire nukes to destroy Israel. He’s having ISIS bombed so gingerly that the Islamic State savages hardly notice a warehouse or two has been flattened. He told the world from a UN platform that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”.
But does he actually believe the teaching of Muhammad? Does he worship Allah? Is he submissive in his heart to the dual authority of “Allah the Merciful” and his ruthless prophet?
Who can know what anyone else really thinks, feels, or believes?
We know that Obama attended Jeremiah Wright’s church of anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Honkyism. Whether he was there – or anywhere – baptized according to the Christian rite, has not been revealed to the public.
This is from Canada Free Press, by a Christian writer, Dr. Don Boys, who makes some good points on the question of Obama’s religious affiliation:
Obama’s campaign released the statement that the senator “has never been a practicingMuslim”. However, the facts indicate otherwise. He was listed as a Muslim while a young student in Indonesia and often attended a mosque.
He was enrolled in the Besuki Primary School, a public school in Jakarta, as a Muslim. Didn’t his mother know what religious affiliation her young son had when she filled out the enrollment forms?
Obama clearly admitted to studying the Koran and identified his school as “a Muslim school” in his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Many of his childhood friends commented on his Muslim religion, and the media in Indonesia made many references to his Muslim faith.
Obama acknowledges in Dreams that his grandfather was a Muslim (page 104) and that he spent two years in a Muslim school in Indonesia studying the Koran (page 154). In The Audacity of Hope, he says (page 204) that “my father had been raised a Muslim” but that by the time he met his mother, his father was a “confirmed atheist”. However, Muslims teach that children become Muslims because of their father’s religion. Moreover, no one can testify as to when he repudiated Islam. Nor is there a record of his Christian baptism.
Obama really let the kitty out of the sack when he allegedly told the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit that he was a Muslim. In mid-January of 2010 the Foreign Minister revealed on the “Round Table Show”, a Nile telecast, that “he had had a one on one meeting with Obama who swore to him that he was a Moslem, the son of a Moslem father and step-son of Moslem step-father, that his half-brothers in Kenya were Moslems, and that he was loyal to the Moslem agenda. He asked that the Moslem world show patience. Obama promised that once he overcame some domestic American problems (Healthcare), that he would show the Moslem world what he would do with Israel.” This conversation probably happened when Gheit was in Washington for Middle East peace talks in early January of 2010. …
The following circumstantial evidence is also overwhelming proof of his Muslim faith and his antagonism for the Christian faith. Fox News reported that Obama told the NASA administrator Charles Bolden before his appointment that he was to do three things. The third was “He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science…and math and engineering.” The White House verified the conversation in June of 2010. NASA is in the “feel good” business!
Obama asked Georgetown University to remove a religious symbol for the name of Jesus where Obama was to speak about the economy on Apr. 14, 2009. He has not asked for the removal of Muslim symbols when speaking at Islamic events.
Dr. Boys goes on to adduce apparent proofs that Obama is not a Christian. That part of his article doesn’t interest us.
One thing is positive that all honest people can agree on. The record clearly proves Obama is a Muslim sympathizer, spokesman, and sycophant.
I could go on and on with many other indications that Obama uses every opportunity to … pander to Islam. It is not becoming for the President of the United States to be a shill for a brutal, bloody, barbaric and backward religion even if he sincerely believes their principles.
One – what’s more – that has declared itself to be at war with America. And in whose name hundreds of Americans have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
Dr. Boys ends:
Obama is a Muslim.
Now we like to think we know an atheist when we see and hear one, even if only indirectly through the media, the way most people see and hear a public figure.
Going by what we can observe of him, we think Obama is an atheist – the only thing about him we can sympathize with.
But a Muslim atheist, not a Christian atheist.
This video is titled “Migrant Crisis: The Footage the Media Refuse to Broadcast”. (Some of the scenes have in fact been shown on American news channels, but it is all too likely that they are not shown in Europe or by the BBC.)
The indignation of the woman whose charity is rejected – her donation of food that was “good for three years” thrown away contemptuously – is wonderful to see and hear.
For decades the Left has worked to destroy the “evil” First World in support of the great cause of the “wretched of the earth”, the inhabitants of the Third World “victimized” by Western “imperialism” and “colonialism”. Now that the hellish Third World is pouring into Europe, at least some on the Left are beginning to change their minds, faced with a horror that they themselves have called up, never thinking that such a thing could actually happen to them.
We savor the irony of their discovering their error so late, even as we deplore the event that is bringing them to their senses.
Pope Francis compulsively consumes the fashionable drivel that passes for thought among the reactionaries who call themselves “progresssives”, preaches it to the world, and hopes to persuade us all to return to the brutish ways by which our ancestors sustained their brief lives in the Middle Ages.
George Will writes at the Washington Post:
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary.
They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.
And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. Climate Change Conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits”. The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.
Francis deplores “compulsive consumerism”, a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire.
He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.
The saint who is Francis’s namesake supposedly lived in sweet harmony with nature. -
The son of a rich merchant, St. Francis of Assisi was an early prototype of the middle-class New Left rebel who goes off to live the “simple life” – root vegetables, moral hubris and all – in the name of his religion: Catholic Christianity then, Environmentalism now – the better to annoy his family. No surprise that this Pope chose to reign under his name.
- For most of mankind, however, nature has been, and remains, scarcity, disease and natural — note the adjective — disasters. Our flourishing requires affordable, abundant energy for the production of everything from food to pharmaceuticals. Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, notes that coal supplanting wood fuel reversed deforestation, and that “fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food”. The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today. Sixty-three percent of fibers are synthetic and derived from fossil fuels; of the rest, 79 percent come from cotton, which requires synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. “Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels,” he says, “are responsible for at least 60 percent of today’s global food supply.” Without fossil fuels, he says, global cropland would have to increase at least 150 percent — equal to the combined land areas of South America and the European Union — to meet current food demands.
Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.
As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of “sustainability”. Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30. …
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources.
Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.
But when was logical consistency ever a bar to any faith they keep?
If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject. – Ayn Rand
The political philosophy of the New Left is weak, shallow, and in its expression by some of its gurus, patently absurd. But it has won the West. It has won the academies of the pan-European word, and through them generations grow up steeped in the creed.
What is the creed, and why has it won?
It has won because it echoes a Christian teaching, to which some 8,000 generations (reckoning 4 generations per century) of Europeans have been subjected.
It is the notion that to be a good person you must pity other people and make sacrifices for them. Only if you do that, are you worthy and virtuous.
It has been drummed into every Christian from his earliest years, so even if he rebels against his religion, his class, his culture, his race, his nation, he clings to that idea as to the moral kingpin of his universe. Take it away, and the center will not hold.
The New Left was a rebellion by affluent, middle-class adolescents (some of them well advanced in middle age) against their class, culture, race, and nation, starting about twenty years after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).
The old Left, a secular version of Christianity, won the support of middle-class intellectuals by directing pity on to the working-class. The intellectuals would, at whatever cost to themselves, lead the oppressed and exploited workers in revolution. In Russia to start with, they did just that before the end of the First World War.
By the late 1960s, the old Left, in the person of dictators and their henchmen, was actively oppressing millions, including the populations of the Eastern European countries and a part of Germany.
So the old Left lost its appeal partly because the Leftist regimes could not easily be held up as models of paradise on earth. In addition, the working-class in the West had generally become prosperous enough to be content with its lot.
The New Left found new victims to feel sorry for. It found them first abroad, in the Third World, which was not prosperous. It declared the people of Third World countries to be exploited and oppressed by European colonialism and imperialism, even if their countries were no longer colonies or parts of empires. Its concern extended to Third World descendants who lived in the First World.
Then it declared that in the First World, women were victims of male-dominated societies. Many women volunteered for the role.
Next, homosexuals were declared, and many declared themselves, victims of heterosexual-dominated First World societies.
The main thing was, New Left intellectuals found new groups to pity, and so new sources for pride in a feeling of self-worth.
After 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War – of which the West was the immediate winner – the old Left was held by Western intellectuals (whom Thomas Sowell calls “the self-annointed”) to have been the wrong Left. The New Left, they maintain, is the politically correct Left.
The strange thing about the (new or old) Left’s remedy for human suffering is this: While only the individual can feel pain and suffer distress; while no masses, no group, no class, no race as such can suffer or feel anything at all; yet the Plan of the Left to remedy suffering is always one that sacrifices individuals for the sake of the group. It is always a Plan that is implemented regardless of individual suffering. So important is the Plan itself, that any number of individuals may be persecuted, silenced, tortured, enslaved, killed for it.
There is no collective remedy for human suffering. The only prescription that works is individual freedom; leaving people alone to serve their own purposes in the manner they choose for themselves. (Nothing need prevent an individual from aiding other individuals if that’s what he wants to do.)
John Schindler, who calls himself “a traditional leftist”, writes about why he believes the New Left has won in an article titled Who Really Won the Cold War?, in The Federalist. I quote it in full.
While he makes some points I do not agree with (chiefly the idea he takes for granted that Leftism ideally serves the cause of “human freedom”), he makes many more that bear out what I have said about the old Left and the New Left, and how and why the New Left has won the Cold War. I found this surprising. But it explains why an essay by a “traditional leftist” appears in The Federalist.
He starts with a figure from the old Left who has just recently risen to prominence:
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has sent shockwaves far beyond Britain. There has been disbelief that the United Kingdom’s storied left-wing party opted to be led by a man so obviously contemptuous of his own society. In the wake of their recent electoral debacle under the uninspiring Ed Miliband, Labour has chosen as its leader an activist who resembles a walking leftist cliché. Corbyn’s radicalism is not in doubt. Aside from his embrace of socialist-throwback platitudes that linger on his party’s left flank on the full range of domestic issues, in adamant rejection of Blairism, Corbyn’s foreign-policy views merit attention. Openly hostile to NATO and Britain’s longstanding “special relationship” with the United States, Corbyn adds overt sympathy for numerous authoritarian regimes.
He blames the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, not the Kremlin, for the Ukraine crisis and has endorsed Russia Today, Putin’s TV propaganda network. Corbyn opposes essentially all overseas military operations by Britain and wants to parley with Bashar al-Assad, four years into Syria’s fratricide, while viewing Tehran as a partner for Middle East peace.
That said, leftist infatuation with foreign dictators is hardly new. For decades a crush on “progressive” despots safely far away from their own free country has been a staple of the Western far-Left diet. Corbyn is simply a paid-up member of his ideological tribe.
Yet Corbyn surpasses his predecessors in his fervent embrace of the social-justice message at home as well as abroad. He exudes hostility towards the Britain that made the historic Labour Party. This, after all, is a man who celebrates Hamas, Hezbollah, and related Islamist extremists as freedom-fighters, while explaining the death of Osama bin Laden was “a tragedy”.
Unsurprisingly, Corbyn enthusiastically espouses multiculturalism and says Britain should “celebrate” record numbers of immigrants entering the country — a position not popular with many voters, who see the European Union being overwhelmed by waves of migrants from Asia and Africa. Between his crush on the West’s enemies and his desire to change his country’s population, Corbyn wants to abolish Britain, not reform it.
Yet we should not regard Corbyn as a particular outlier. In truth, his cocktail of trendy “progressive” opinions, which rejects virtually everything about their own society, is commonly found among postmodern Western leftists. The only difference is that Corbyn makes no effort to mask his views. Many of his fellow travelers obscure their take, which would be considered extreme by most voters, behind moderate-sounding language.
Unlike Barack Obama, who once assured us that he did not see a Red America or a Blue America, rather a United States of America — then proceeded to govern through two terms as a highly partisan liberal Democrat — Corbyn states openly that there is only one “real” Britain, and it is deep red (which in Britain, as most of Europe, means left-wing).
Corbynism is no sudden or shocking development, but the natural culmination of 50 years of left-wing views that have shifted from a desire to reform Western democracies to an unconcealed wish to kill them, or at least change them so fundamentally that they bear little resemblance to themselves.
The Old Left, for all its sometimes horrific flaws, sought socioeconomic change to benefit average citizens, not all-out social revolution. They, in their own way, were very much a product of Western culture. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which split the Left worldwide into communist and social democratic groupings, the latter worked within the socioeconomic system, embracing democracy while seeking minimal deep changes to society itself.
Even the communists were hardly social revolutionaries in practice. In the initial euphoria of the revolution there was experimentation. The Soviet Union became the first society ever to allow abortion and easy divorce. In Hungary, during the short-lived red revolution at the end of World War I, Bolsheviks embraced social radicalism and introduced sex education to undermine the traditional family.
However, once firmly in power, the Soviets dropped any pretense of social revolution to mirror the politico-economic one. While religion was persecuted and mild feminism got lip service, Stalin banned abortion and the party frowned upon sexual immorality. After all, the revolution needed soldiers and workers, and who but communist women could make those?
Although the abortion ban was dropped after Stalin, Soviet social practices remained highly “heteronormative,” with homosexuality being criminal while men and women were strongly encouraged to marry and be fruitful. In its most extreme form, Nicolae Ceaușescu nearly banned abortion and contraceptives altogether in his effort to build his highly fecund socialist Romania.
Many were the Western progressives who visited the East Bloc during the Cold War, having been fed propaganda about the wondrous “new society”, only to discover that communism was actually behind the West in matters of family, sex, and gender.
While the Soviets and their clients remained mired in traditional social models, the West moved on — or forward, depending on your viewpoint. The great social revolution of the 1960s, which passed the East Bloc by because communism had insulated the countries, brought forth a New Left in the West that was interested in matters of sex, gender, and race rather than who owns the means of production.
Their “long march through the institutions” after a half-century must be judged wholly successful. While the Right has won the battle for economics across the West — calls for public ownership now seem quaint rather than threatening to capitalists — the New Left has triumphed on the social front in every arena.
In the United States, which was more resistant to the New Left agenda than many Western countries, the Obama years have witnessed the victory of social justice on all major matters of race, gender, and sexuality. Thanks to activists, politicians, and courts, Americans today are living in a very different social and sexual world than their parents and grandparents.
More than a few communists saw all this coming. Beginning in the 1970s, East Bloc secret police began to notice the impact of the New Left on their Old Left countries. Cries for radical individualism from dissidents under Western influence troubled the communists, who didn’t know what to do about this trend, which they dismissed as a bourgeois affectation.
By the 1980s, the more perceptive East Bloc security services were denouncing this Western poison, which took the form of radical feminism, sexual freedom, environmental activism, and gay rights. To traditional communists, who barely understood this new ideology, it was a scary Western import, according to the secret police. Some in Eastern Europe termed this decadence “anarcho-liberalism”, and they considered it a disease of an affluent late capitalist society burdened with excessive consumerism and leisure time.
In the end, of course, the communists lost. Lots of average people in the East Bloc wanted the freedom to own cool shoes, while some pined for the social-sexual liberties that the West offered. In many ways, the revolutions of 1989 to 1991 that changed the map and politics of Europe and beyond can be viewed with a quarter-century of hindsight as the defeat of the Old Left in the East by the New Left in the West.
We are living still with the consequences of this seismic political shift. With the sudden disappearance of the communist threat, the Right lost interest in socioeconomic fairness, a Cold War necessity to keep reds at bay on the home-front, while oddly so did the Left.
The obsessive interest of the New Left in social justice has come at the expense of economic concerns, with the result that on a wide range of topics their positions, barring lip service, differ hardly at all from the Right. Few on the Left question our basic economic arrangements; tearing down our social foundations has been their core program.
Barack Obama is the most left-wing president ever on social justice, yet he is a darling of Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, despite her belated interest in social issues, is deeply enmeshed in high finance and will never challenge it. Thus Bernie Sanders, who is an amalgam of Old and New Left, is treated like an atavism by mainstream liberals when he opens the economics can of worms.
It’s all enough to make the few traditional leftists among us want to pull their hair out. The broad alliance of cultural Left and corporate Right, which questions none of our economics, has triumphed in our politics — or at least had until Donald Trump came along to question “settled” issues such as mass, often illegal, immigration. The cultural Left favors this because it gradually dissolves the traditional culture, which they despise, while the corporate Right favors it for the cheap labor. Postmodern capitalism is at least as revolutionary a force as anything cooked up by any Marxist, as well as something any Social Justice Warrior can live with.
For more than a generation we have sorely lacked mainstream contributions from social democrats who seek to make our society better, not destroy it. There ought to be no illusions about what the cultural Left seeks: a full revolution of our society and its history, which they see as benighted by irredeemable racism, sexism, and Old Think. Their opponents are objectively evil and on the“wrong side of history,” as Obama himself has assured us, and they must disappear. “Error has no rights,” the mid-nineteenth-century Vatican formulation, has oddly been adapted by our postmodern Left.
As communists once predicted the state itself would wither away, resulting in complete human freedom and progress, the New Left expects that all traditional societal arrangements will wither away, thereby allowing full human freedom and progress. One offered discipline and order and sometimes gulags; the other offers sexual liberty, anti-racism, and iPhones.
Both these beliefs are illusions, and dangerous ones, rooted in a Marxist sense of “knowing” where history is going. The working class was once revered by leftists as uniquely virtuous, while for the New Left that vanguard role is played by minorities sexual and racial, who are allegedly untainted by the dominant group. The essential willingness to ignore inconvenient truths remains the same.
Let us give the Old Left, particularly its social democratic guise, credit that they did not seek the extirpation of our whole society and culture, but instead its transformation. What the New Left today fights for is far more revolutionary and utopian. A Europe that seeks a future where actual Europeans are a dying remnant, replaced by more vigorous immigrants, is but one manifestation of this worldview.
Leftists once heartily sang the “Internationale,” which promised “This is the final struggle” (C’est la lutte finale). Communists were quite wrong about that. History has moved on and left them behind everywhere but Cuba, North Korea, and Western universities. Yet their social-justice descendants believe the same thing, with a different favored fantasy class.
They will be proved wrong, too. The Corbyn vision has no future to offer most Britons. It would be incomprehensible to generations of Labour patriots who fought for Britain, her values, and her allies. The only question is how much damage to what is left of the West will be inflicted before the New Left is vanquished, too.
I wish I could share his optimism that the New Left will be vanquished (in the foreseeable future).
And what I miss in the essay is any reference to the human misery that “traditional leftism” of the redder kind has caused wherever it has had power to cause it. Of course, his focus is on the British Left, which was never – until now? – as red as all that.
I dislike his implication that collectivism (aka Leftism) of his favored – or any – kind is a valid recipe for improving what Leftists have called “the human condition”.
But I applaud his recognition that the New Left “seeks the extirpation of our whole society and culture”, and that he deplores that terrible aim.
If only he could also see that it is logically, even necessarily, derived from the old socialist collectivist thinking to which he remains faithful!
Jillian Becker September 18, 2015