A Sunday story 4

… from the annals of Christianity:

On a raw March afternoon in 1314, a scaffold stood in the shadow of Notre Dame. The people of Paris knew what macabre show was imminent. Seven years before, the King’s constables had stormed all the Templar estates in France and arrested 5000 knights of the order, much to the astonishment of the people. Now the curtain was about to drop on a bizarre tragedy, one scripted by the king himself.

The Knights Templar were a smelly lot – they didn’t wash. A common expression of their time was “stink like a Templar”. They were brave soldiers – crusaders in Outremer – and brilliant bankers. The order was very rich.

King Philip the Fair of France owed them a huge sum of money and coveted their wealth, so he destroyed them. He had to get them to confess to crimes and acts of blasphemy as an excuse. They might in fact have been heretical by the rules of the Catholic Church. There is some evidence that suggests they were secret Gnostics, but to a rational humane mind, nothing they did surely deserved the punishments the good Catholic king devised for them.

Here is an account of what they confessed to and what King Philip (grandson of Louis IX, known as Saint Louis) had done to them:

The things the knights confessed under torture defied belief: trampling and urinating on the Crucifix, secret rites of obscene kisses, sodomy, usury, treason, idolatry, and heresy. After the arrests came seven years of inquisition, then hundreds and hundreds of public executions by burning.

These confessions were extorted from them under extreme torture.

Stripped of their habits, chained, and cast into dungeons, the old men were tortured with rack and thumbscrew. The soles of their feet were smeared with animal fat and then held over hot coals. Their weary frames were crushed under iron weights.

Sometimes the accused was tied down, a cloth stuffed in his mouth. Water poured into the cloth caused it to swell: The choice was to confess or drown. A more creative option was to place a man into a pit no wider than himself, where he would be left to stand in his filth and starve. The rack was used to dislocate shoulders and hips.

Subtler methods of interrogation worked as well. Denied sleep and the chance to void his bowels or bladder, the accused could be subjected to a constant battery of bewildering questions by an endless string of interrogators, some cruel, some appearing compassionate. Rare is the man who could withstand this to the point of death, which would be his only relief. Under such conditions, hundreds and hundreds of Templars confessed to appalling crimes.  …

The last five of them, having been imprisoned in a dungeon for six years, were burnt to death on the Île de la Cité in Paris on March 18, 1314.

As a large crowd closed around the scaffold, the last Master of the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem, 70-year-old Jacques de Molay, stood alongside four of his brothers in arms, listening as the papal legate read their crimes in horrible detail.

However, mercy would yet be theirs if they repeated to the people of Paris the guilt they had confessed before the inquisition. Five stakes piled high with brushwood and faggots awaited them if they did not.

Two [three?] of the knights, eyes cast downward, mumbled their guilt. Then de Molay and Geoffrey de Charney of Normandy stepped forward.

“On this terrible day,” shouted de Molay, his gaze meeting the eyes of the crowd, “in my final hour, I shall let truth triumph and declare, before heaven and all the saints, that I have committed the greatest of all crimes.”  The crowd pressed in. “But my crime is this: that I confessed to malicious charges made against an order that is innocent so that I could escape further torture. I shall not confirm a first lie with a second. I renounce life willingly. I have no use for days of sorrow earned only by lies.”

The King’s police seized the two knights and chained them to the stakes. Brush and branches were set aflame. As the old men were roasted alive, they shouted their innocence and their love for Jesus Christ before falling silent. Thus the last Master of the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem was reduced to ashes.

Then Pope Clement V abolished the order and the “beautiful” King Philip availed himself of their assets. He did not enjoy them for long. He died on 29 November, 1314, eight months after burning the old Knights to death – because, it was popularly believed, de Molay had cursed him. If “God” took note of a curse spoken by de Molay and acted on it in the case of Philip’s death, what – you may be tempted to ask a Christian – had “He” been doing when the same man was being tortured and burnt? Don’t expect an answer. Though the believer may go so far as to say in reply that “He has mysterious ways”.

Heart versus head 3

At a congressional hearing on reparations in June, 2019, passionate Ta-Nehisi Coates argued with brilliant thinker Coleman Hughes:

 

We declare Hughes the winner of the debate.

What are our readers’ opinions?

Posted under History, Race, Slavery, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Tagged with ,

This post has 3 comments.

Permalink

Free thought as heresy again 9

The Left has captured the culture. That’s well known and oft repeated. Education is now religiously Leftist from kindergarten to doctorate. The entertainment industry – stage, film, television –  faithfully carries the sacred messages. The media, both “mainstream” and “social”, are packed with acolytes.

Not only the guardians of the culture have converted en masse to the Church of Marx. Big panjandrums of our capitalist economy are dropping their checks for hundred of millions of dollars into the collection boxes of the Left’s terrorist curates – buying time, they foolishly hope. That would be more surprising if we didn’t have Vladimir Lenin’s (possibly apocryphal but highly plausible) prophecy that “the capitalist will sell you the rope you’ll hang him with”.

And now it is all too horrifyingly possible that the Left will re-capture the legislative and executive branches of the US government. As for the judicial branch, seven of the Supreme Court  justices – all nine of whom were formerly Jewish or Catholic which was not harmful to determinations of law – are dancing arm-in-arm leftwards through a side door into the C. of M., where doctrinal orthodoxy is strictly enforced. Could SCOTUS become the tribunal of the next Inquisition?

A dark age lies ahead. But need we despair? There is consolation to be found in the records of the fast fading era of free thought (roughly 1700-2000), that will still be available to us in books.

Or will they?

Oh, oh! It seems that books by or about the great  – mostly white – scientists, inventors, discoverers, philosophers, visionaries, economists, historians, educators whose ideas debunk the doctrines of the C. of M., are to be removed from libraries, bookshops, even probably our private rooms, and destroyed. Blotted out of human memory. They will not be published  again; or if published by some rogue publisher, not advertised;  or if advertised by some mischance, not sold; or if sold on a black market market of color, confiscated and destroyed.

On the other hand, books supporting the doctrine of the C. of M. (chiefly concerning anti-racism and the evil of being White) will abound. Vast libraries will be built to contain them. There’ll be at least one in every hotel bedside drawer. There’ll be cutely illustrated versions of some on the shelves of kindergartens; thousands to be checked out by students in all grades or else; and subterranean university bookstores will be chockfull of them.

Bruce Bawer, observing the trend, writes at Front Page:

Of America’s most powerful and prominent cultural institutions, it’s quick work naming those that aren’t entirely left-wing satrapies. TV? Fox News, although things are looking less and less encouraging there. Colleges? Hillsdale, I guess, though how many Ivy League faculty members would ever admit to having heard of it? Newspapers? The New York Post (sometimes), Wall Street Journal (kind of)and perhaps one or two others from sea to shining sea. Silicon Valley? Nothing. Hollywood? ¡Nada! Big business? Hmm: what is there, nowadays, honestly, other than that My Pillow guy?

One field in which there’s at least a soupçon of ideological diversity is the book trade. Yes, staffers at the major publishing houses are overwhelmingly on the left. Ditto bookstore employees. Plus the people who give out the major book awards. Not to mention that the heftiest advances for political books go to Democrats. Since the turn of the century, the biggest nonfiction book deal, amounting to at least $65 million, was for Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018) and for an as-yet-unpublished opus by Barack; second – raking in $15 million – was Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004); third – at $14 million – was Hillary’s Hard Choices (2014).

One more thing about the reflexive leftism of the book scene. Thanks to today’s lethal cancel culture, even classics are at risk. Recently, in an article for the School Library Journal headlined “Little House, Big Problem: What To Do with ‘Classic’ Books That Are Also Racist”, Marva Hinton identified both Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as racist. No, she didn’t just say that they contained racist language, which would have been fair enough; she asserted that these two books – both of them key texts in the history of the American struggle against racism – are in fact racist.

Hinton quoted Julia E. Torres, a Denver school librarian, as saying that when she’s consulted by teachers who want to assign Harper Lee’s novel to their student, she often suggests replacing it with Samira Ahmed’s dystopic novel Internment, “about a teen sent to a U.S. internment camp for Muslim American people”. Alternatively, Torres “suggests they teach To Kill a Mockingbird using excerpts or through a critical consciousness lens, which would include lessons on white saviorism and the weaponization of white women’s tears”. Check, please!

I’m not familiar with the novel Internment – just out in paperback from Little, Brown – but it’s part of a full-court press by the book business to normalize Islam and demonize “Islamophobia”.  Also in on this effort are the major pre-pub reviewing outlets, all of which gave Internment starred reviews that were short on praise for aesthetic values and long on PC drivel. (“Taking on Islamophobia and racism in a Trump-like America…” – Kirkus.  “A very real, very frank picture of hatred and ignorance…” – Booklist. “An unsettling and important book for our times.” – Publishers Weekly.)

In 2006 I published a highly critical book about Islam. Even then, it was savaged by bien pensant book-world types. But criticizing Islam has become so verboten on the left that I doubt any major publisher today would touch a book like While Europe Slept – even though the problems described therein have grown far, far worse.

Meanwhile, to peruse the latest catalogues from those same publishers is to discover a blizzard of dreary-sounding new or forthcoming novels that, judging from the plot summaries, are drenched in identity politics. (Two quick examples from Knopf, perhaps the most respected of literary publishers: Burning by Megha Majumdar, about an Indian girl who’s falsely accused of terrorism and turns for help to a trans woman; My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir, a novel that takes on “the legacy of colonialism” and “the abuse of male power”. …

Amazon’s current list of top ten bestsellers includes several far-left books on racism: Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk about Race, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. You might think there’s a market for at least one book criticizing these authors’ views; but I’ve been assured by industry insiders that no major New York house would even consider publishing such a book.

Even in book publishing, then, the left is way ahead. But this isn’t good enough for Alex Shephard, a young staff writer at the New Republic, who in a recent article maintained that the book industry is “overdue” for a major “reckoning”. Here’s his article’s subhead (italics mine):

The industry is facing demands to live up to its stated values. That might mean ditching writers like Donald Trump Jr.

And later there’s this (italics again mine):

…these publishing houses are, like many corporations in the country, being asked by their employees and customers to live up to a set of values. And that would seem to be impossible while also publishing the likes of Tucker Carlson…

What does Shephard mean by “stated values”? Simple: left-wing ideological purity. In his view, conservative books are, with exceedingly few exceptions, “valueless”. (Shephard implies that “quality control” alone would eliminate most conservative titles.) Also by definition, they’re awash in “factual inaccuracies”. Because of course you can’t possibly mount a convincing non-leftist argument for anything without radically distorting the truth. (As Shephard puts it: “Being forced to tell the truth is not an existential issue for most of publishing; it is for conservative imprints.”)

Hence, if book publishers began to be serious about fact-checking, it would, argues Shephard, “make it impossible to publish a great many conservative books”. Indeed, even the “more ‘respectable’ side of conservative publishing”, as represented for Shephard by Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 bestseller Liberal Fascism (note, however, those scare quotes around the word respectable), would be challenged by a responsible fact-checking apparatus.

According to Shephard, another attribute of many conservative books is that their authors aren’t serious. He quotes Kimberly Burns, a book publicist: “I’m OK with books being published from different political viewpoints – in fact, it’s necessary for debate and being able to see a whole picture … The problem is when authors write things only to get themselves attention or to make news, instead of to enhance a dialogue…” Apparently this isn’t a problem with left-wing books.

Bottom line: Shephard really likes censorship of his ideological opponents. And he really admires his fellow “woke” types who put pressure on publishers to cancel books. He notes with obvious satisfaction that Henry Holt, the publishing house, “drew fire for its decision to continue publishing Bill O’Reilly after multiple accusations of sexual harassment were made against him”. (There’s no indication that Shephard believes multiple accusations of sexual harassment should affect Bill Clinton’s publishing career.)

Shephard approvingly mentions Simon & Schuster’s 2016 decision to drop the book Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos, whom he identifies as “a troll known for shallow publicity stunts”. And he tells us that he’s spoken to employees at another publishing house, Hachette, who “expressed discomfort about the company’s conservative imprint, Center Street, which publishes Donald Trump Jr., among others”.

Boy, I’ll bet they did. Since Shephard’s article appeared, Hachette staffers – largely lower-level Gen-Z brats – have said that they won’t work on J.K. Rowling’s forthcoming book because she’s criticized transgender ideology. Hachette is the same house that, in response to workers outraged over unproven quarter-century-old sex-abuse allegations, canceled Woody Allen’s about-to-be-published memoirs in March. Allen was never charged with any crime, let alone found guilty of one; years later he was permitted to adopt two children. Yet thanks to those junior Jacobins – every one of whom should’ve been fired – Allen was unceremoniously cut adrift.

And Shephard fully approves. He actually calls Allen a “pariah”. The ease with which this smug punk swats away the legendary writer-director is chilling. No matter what you may think of Allen or his films, the whole ugly spectacle is just too reminiscent of the way things worked under Stalin and Mao. And it’s all too representative, alas, of the atrocious attitudes of the rising generation of lockstep cancel-culture creeps who, like it or not, are well on their way to becoming our nation’s official cultural gatekeepers.

Our terrifying great leap forward 2

Historian Niall Ferguson says that this time of ours, NOW, is one of the most dramatic ever in history. Because of the Technological Revolution. Because of the Internet.

As dramatic as the invention of the printing press. But “history today happens 10 times faster” than it did when the printing press was invented.

As dramatic as the time of the Reformation.

And in a way, that is “terrifying”. Books that did great evil – such as the burning of witches – were even bigger sellers than the mass-produced bibles on which religious reformers, such as Martin Luther, pinned their hopes for the moral improvement of mankind.  (Margin note: Luther was a giant of immorality, but that’s beside this point.)

Of course we value the Internet highly. Can’t think how we, or anyone, ever managed life without it.

Posted under History, Technology by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 22, 2019

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 2 comments.

Permalink

Blacking whiteness out – the redaction of history 4

White culture! Ugh!

What an abomination. It must be got rid of.

White people, white ideas, white inventions, all bad from Thales, Newton, Einstein; from Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes; from Leonardo, Velazquez, Rembrandt; from the Framers of the American Constitution; from Pythagoras, Epicurus, Aristotle; from the bringers of the Enlightenment; from the scientists and technologists of our time. Who needs their physics, astrophysics, medical cures, the internal combustion engine, aircraft, nuclear energy, computers, the internet, film, television, the cell phone? Such people, such ideas, such things are believed by Whites to be incalculably beneficial to the human race! How wrong they are!

All must GO.

Pull down the statues. Burn the buildings. Discard the things. EMPTY THE LIBRARIES. The records must be weeded out and destroyed, not a trace allowed to remain. A Great Cleansing of the Past must be effected. What Whites have thought, what Whites have done, must be eradicated from human memory. Even if the ideas and works have included ideas and works from non-white cultures, out with them. Whiteness stains and spoils whatever it touches.

Whiteness is a taint. An evolutionary malformation.  A corruption of the human strain. A character fault.

Fortunately, remedial plans are being made and authoritatively explained by Social Justice Warriors in positions of influence. The flame now lit for a great Cultural Reformation won’t flicker out. They are taking action.

For instance, a librarian named Sofia Leung at that great institution of learning MIT, writes:

If you don’t already know, “whiteness as property” is a seminal Critical Race Theory (CRT) concept first introduced by Cheryl I. Harris in her 1993 Harvard Law Review article by the same name. She writes, “slavery as a system of property facilitated the merger of white identity and property” and the formation of whiteness as property required the erasure of Native peoples. Basically, white people want to stay being white because of the privilege and protection whiteness affords under the law that they created. Harris also makes this really good point, “whiteness and property share a common premise — a conceptual nucleus — of a right to exclude”. Bam! That really hits it on the head.

As I’m collaborating on [a] book about CRT in Library and Information Studies (LIS), I’ve been having lots of discussions on these topics with some really smart folx. …

As others have written … libraries and librarians have a long history of keeping People of Color [POC] out. … Legal and societal standards revolve around whiteness and libraries are no different.

If you look at any United States library’s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or ideas, people, and things they stole from POC and then claimed as white property with all of the “rights to use and enjoyment of” that Harris describes in her article. When most of our collections [are] filled with this so-called “knowledge” it continues to validate only white voices and perspectives and erases the voices of people of color. Collections are representations of what librarians (or faculty) deem to be authoritative knowledge and as we know, this field and educational institutions, historically, and currently, have been sites of whiteness.

Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives via the prison industrial complex, the spoils of war, etc. Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people. … [L]ibrary collections and spaces have historically kept out Black, Indigenous, People of Color as they were meant to do and continue to do.

On this, Rod Dreher comments at the American Conservative:

The left really is trying to destroy our civilizational heritage. You think I’m a Chicken Little about this stuff, but this below is what it means to have barbarians march through our institutions.

The Teaching And Learning Program Manager at MIT libraries, Sofia Leung (“I believe that social justice work is library work and that we should all be collectively engaged in our liberation”), has detected impurity in the stacks.

This woman is not some SJW kook beavering away in the basement of  Evergreen State, or a dyspeptic grad student in Grievance Studies. She is an important librarian at MIT. What’s more, the venerable trade publication Library Journal tweeted her blog entry. The blog entry in which she calls for the purging of library collections because white people wrote them and loved them and collected them. Their existence offends her sense of justice.

Do you not see what’s happening here? Those who control a culture’s memory control its people. Sofia “Social Justice Work Is Library Work” Leung wants to throw certain books down the memory hole because they are racially impure. …

Well, yes, of course she does. Bam! I mean to say, folx …  for goodness sake … if libraries are to exist they must be filled exclusively with the books of all those Black African writers who have contributed so much to the knowledge and wisdom of mankind through the ages. Will the present libraries, once purged of White garbage, be big enough, will there be enough of them, to hold all those cultural riches?

Posted under Africa, America, Art, Culture, Europe, History, Leftism, Science, Technology by Jillian Becker on Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 4 comments.

Permalink

Myths of our time 17

This is a list of beliefs – in no particular order – that are very widely and commonly held, but are untrue:  

Sweden is a happy country. Fact: It is a Muslim-infested misery-state, the rape capital of Europe.   

The BBC is a trustworthy, truthful, unbiased source of news. Fact: It is dishonest, it routinely distorts or suppresses news it doesn’t like, is snobbish, deeply and persistently anti-Semitic, and heavily biased to the Left. 

The Jews seized the state of Palestine, sent most of the Palestinians into exile, and oppress those who remained. Fact: There never was, in all history, an independent state of Palestine. The territory is the historic homeland of the Jews. When Arab armies tried to destroy the modern Jewish state, many Arabs fled, intending to return when their side was victorious, but their side was defeated. Israeli authorities tried to persuade Arab residents not to leave. Those who remained are the freest Arabs in the Middle East, with all citizens’ rights. 

Nazism was a right-wing ideology. Fact: Nazism was National Socialism and as distinctly derived from the tradition of the Left as its rival International Socialism.

Che Guevara was a hero. Fact: Che Guevara was a torturer and mass murderer, and a coward.  

The Mahatma Gandhi was a good man who liberated India from the British Raj. Fact: Gandhi was a cruel man who had little if any influence on the British decision to withdraw from India.

Senator Joe McCarthy was an evil witch-hunter of Communists. Fact: McCarthy did his duty in tracking down potential Communist fifth-columnists, propagandists, and traitors during the Cold War.

President Roosevelt was a liberal who saved America from economic disaster. Fact: President Roosevelt was a Communist sympathizer. His policies prolonged the Depression.

President Obama’s period in office was scandal-free. Fact: President Obamas’ period in office was exceptionally full of scandals, some of them the worst examples of corruption and plain treason in US history. 

Islam is a religion of peace. And its name means “peace”. Fact: Islam is a religion of war and conquest. Its name means “submission”.

Carbon dioxide is a poison. Fact: Carbon dioxide is the food of green plants.

Human beings are changing the climate of the planet for the worse. Fact: The climate of the earth is always changing as vast cosmic forces act upon it. Human beings can make very little difference, if any, to the heating and cooling of the planet.

A baby in the womb is not a living human being. Fact: A fetus with a heartbeat is alive, a living human being.

Government exists to care for and provide for the people. Fact: government robs the people, threatens the people, frightens the people. Whatever government does, it does badly. Government must be kept within bounds to properly perform its only essential duty, the defense of liberty, by enforcing the law and preventing invasion.

President Trump is a racist. Fact: He is not and has never been a racist. He has worked all his adult life with people of many races, never discriminating against any of them on racial grounds.

President Trump is an anti-Semite. Fact: He is the most pro-Jewish pro-Israel US president ever.

President Trump oppresses women. Fact: he honors women, promotes them, behaves towards them as heterosexual gentlemen in our culture customarily do (or did).

President Trump is a liar. Fact: He tells the truth. Like every human being, he can be inaccurate with dates, numbers, recollections, but on all important matters he is consistently truthful.    

The Democratic Party protects minorities. Fact: The Democratic Party is the party of slavery, segregation, secession, and the Jim Crow laws. By keeping millions of blacks on welfare, Democrats have kept them from independence, advancement, and prosperity.

Democrats act in the interests of the working class. Fact: Democrats despise the working class.

The US media report the news. Fact: The US media, in the huge majority, are lackeys of the Left.

American universities encourage free thinking, free and open exchange of opinion, the exploration of ideas. Fact: Most American universities are centers of Leftist indoctrination, dogmatic and intolerant.

Western civilization is grounded in “Judeo-Christian” values. Fact: Western civilization as we inherit it derives its values from, and owes its success to, the Enlightenment, which was an intellectual revolution against the oppressive authority of the Christian churches.

The “white patriarchy” has been bad for non-whites and women. Fact: Almost everything we have that sustains our lives and makes them endurable; almost everything we know;  every comfort, every convenience, every freedom that makes it possible for us to pursue happiness, physically, socially, politically, was given to us and the world by white middle-class men. 

That’s just a starter list.

We invite readers to add to it.

The coming tyranny – nightmare or prophecy? 46

Is it likely, is it possible, that the people of the United States will vote to be ruled by Communists, feminists, and Muslim jihadis?

Yes. Some have already done so. New Democratic members of Congress include (left to right in the picture) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Hispanic) who has published a Stalinist agenda, and Rashida Tlaib (Palestinian) and Ilhan Omar (Somali) who are  annihilationist enemies of Jews and the state of Israel and support the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Democratic Party is now a party of the extreme Left, with a Socialist and pro-Islam platform. It will do anything to take power including voter fraud. And the rising generation of voters has been indoctrinated at school and college to favor Socialism, Islam, and tribalism; to despise the US itself; and to treat patriots, white people, Jews, Christians, conservatives, constitutionalists, nationalists, and heterosexual men as deviants, miscreants, and provocateurs.      

The Democrats in power will: make racist laws against Jews and white people; break the US alliance with Israel; ally with Russia, China, Cuba and Iran; heavily tax or totally confiscate your assets and savings; severely restrict your consumption of energy; limit the number of children you may have by enforcing abortion; criminalize nonconformist speech; monitor  your communications for punishable violations of their speech code; rewrite history nearer to their hearts’ desire.  

It will be one-party tyrannical rule. The United States will rapidly become poorer and weaker.

We have never hoped for any political outcome as much as we hope now that we are wrong.  

“Pericles, Alexander, Augustus, Charlemagne, Churchill, Reagan, Thatcher” – Trump? 14

That a serious and excellent historian should even be considering whether President Trump will qualify to stand among the greatest of the great leaders of history, is a tribute to him that could most satisfactorily rile the Democrats if they were to hear of it.

Victor Davis Hanson is the historian who reflects on President Trump’s ambition for America and how leaders who had similar aims in the past succeeded and failed.

He writes at American Greatness to answer his own question, ”Does ‘make X great again’ ever happen in history?”

The short answer: Sometimes.

Here’s one example. By 527 A.D., the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople seemed fated to collapse like the West had a near century prior. The Persian Sassanids were gobbling up Byzantine lands in the east. Almost all of old Rome west of Greece had already been lost.

A growing and unsustainable administrative state exercised near control of Constantinople. Christianity was splintering into irrelevant factionalism. The law was a selective mess.

Justinian was certainly an unlikely emperor: an outsider of peasant stock from the northern frontier, an Eastern Latin rather than Greek speaker (and likely the last native Latin-speaking emperor), who would marry an infamous but shrewd courtesan, Theodora.

Yet in some 38 years of sometimes brutal rule, Justinian through the leadership of his brilliant generals, Belisarius and Narses, stabilized the eastern borders. He reclaimed for eastern Rome North Africa, Sicily, much of Italy, and some of Spain, often through small, well-organized armies and prudent alliances. He reformed the bureaucracy, systematized Roman law (Codex Justinianus), and built the magnificent Christian cathedral of Hagia Sophia — the largest church in the world for a thousand years.

Justinian might have done even far more had not a devastating three-year epidemic of bubonic plague spiked and wiped out a quarter of the empire’s population. The millions of losses created a permanent manpower shortage that left the Byzantines vulnerable to relentless Gothic enemies in Western Europe — and ultimately, a century and a half later, the conquests of new Islamic armies in the Middle East and North Africa.

Because from the get-go, Islam has been a religion of war, as it is now. 

The outsider Justinian’s agendas were those of many past reformers and restorers: apply the law equally and rationally, control government finances, restore the value of the currency, unite and inspire the population with iconic buildings and new infrastructure, reform and enhance religious practice [hmm], and offer predictable and steady rule.

History is replete with leaders who wish to perpetuate the status quo and to manage supposed permanent decline, but less frequently witnesses a few successful “great again” reformers of various stripes and agendas, both elected and the more ruthless (e.g., Pericles, Alexander, Augustus, Constantine, Charlemagne, Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Joseph II, Lincoln, Churchill).

In our own time, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are the most notable restorers. Both came into power at a time when the English-speaking West was considered near spent.

A much talked about “crisis of confidence” and “malaise” had led to general British and American depression about the costs of containing global communism. No one seemed to know what to do about the economy — given stubborn stagflation, low growth, high unemployment and inflation, and a rising “misery” index.

Oil shortages and rising prices were proof of “peak” oil in a dependent West — and permanent reliance on corrupt Middle-East petrodollar kingdoms. Radical Islam and Middle East terrorism were on the rise. 

They were the same thing.

But then so were ascendant “Tiger” economies in Asia that seemed in perpetuity would make cars, steel and just plain stuff better and cheaper than in Detroit or Manchester.

The cultural residue of the Sixties made any call for reformation and renewal seem quaint and hokey.

The late Sixties of the last century being when the New Left began its “long march through the institutions”; which succeeded in the twenty-first century in the almost total takeover of education in the West, and culminated in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. These were the Cold War victories of communism.

The United States would no doubt follow Britain’s postwar trajectory.

Downwards.

Declinism — supposedly due to moral nihilism, debt, spiritual emptiness, permanent energy shortages, Cold War militarism, laziness, statism, corruption — was thematic in think tanks and current in-the-know books. …

By “spiritual emptiness” was meant a desertion from the Christian churches. Of course, we see that as one good trend among all those undeniable evils.

After the end of the roaring 1960s and late 1970s, both Thatcher and Reagan were written off as near kooks, advocating strong defense, renewed nationalism, optimism, traditionalism, limited government, lower taxes, smaller government, and free-market deregulation — as pathways to a new muscular Britain and renewed superpower United States.

The results of their revolutions were the collapse of global communism …

That is to say, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire in Eastern Europe. As pointed out above, the ideology of communism was not defeated but steadily on its way to its greatest triumphs. But much was restored through the political victories of Reagan and Thatcher. Much was made greater.

…  the eventual restoration of Anglo-American international finance, recalibrated American entrepreneurism, and energy renaissances. Certainly the United States today in terms of technology, defense, agriculture, fossil fuel production, and higher education towers over its competitors in ways that would have seemed impossible in the 1970s.

Higher education? Well yes, in the sciences and technology. In innovation. Despite the ever more arrogant imposition of Leftist orthodoxy in the academies.

The idea of a Trump economic restoration in 2015-2016 seemed equally absurd. Larry Summers had assured us that annualized 3 percent GDP growth was the stuff of “fantasies.” He predicted instead a recession at 18 months of the Trump term, while Paul Krugman insisted on a market collapse in early 2017 with dubious chances of recovery.

We could never “drill our way out” of an energy crisis—so Obama had insisted and wrote off the very idea of a manufacturing rebound as some myth requiring a “magic wand”. Massive illegal immigration was a permanent fact of life, as was the new demography and identity politics. We were apparently to live with the Iran Deal and though not spoken, an eventual nuclear Iran. Nuclear missiles pointed at the West Coast from North Korea required “strategic patience.”

“Lead from behind” …

Surely the most absurd of Obama’s many absurd formulations!

… diplomacy relied on an international consensus of the sort illustrated by the Paris Accord and permanent refugee status of the Palestinians — as well as avoidance of disruptive moves likes leveraging NATO partners to meet their promised contributions, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, considering taboo tariffs to trim China’s huge surpluses and its assumption that its ascendance to global hegemony was a matter of when, not if.

Trump had lots of assets and advantages in seeking to restore U.S. power and prosperity. American research universities dominate global education. American frackers had produced more natural gas and oil than ever thought possible. Agriculture had never been more productive, and the United States had unused leverage and economic clout to recalibrate trade deals and alliances in a more symmetrical fashion.

The dilemma of Trump’s restoration was similar to that of many radical reformers: being an abject outsider meant he was beholden to few insiders and was largely immune from stifling and ossifying establishment groupthink. Yet his pariah status also ensured little inside help, lots of status quo deep state venom, and a learning curve required to rein in the chariot of a huge and dangerous bureaucracy.

No one knows how this latest historical effort to make great again a perceived ailing state will play out. On the plus side, Trump has sought to restore traditional jurisprudence through impressive judicial nominations. He has praised rather than lectured business and helped to free the animal spirits of capitalism. Trump cut rather than raised taxes, deregulated rather than stymied entrepreneurialism, and expanded energy leasing on federal lands and green-lighted pipeline construction.  His current foreign policy team of Bolton, Mattis, and Pompeo is impressive and seeks to restore U.S. deterrence that will bring far more stability to the world than mushy lead from behind subordination. A possible Chinese agreement to cut their trade surpluses and play by international trading rules, and a North Korean guarantee of denuclearization would be the most significant foreign policy developments since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Where has Trump’s MAGA agenda stalled?

And why? Who stalled it?

Answer: The Republican Party:

A Republican majority House and Senate squandered a rare chance for radical change between 2017-2018 by failing to repeal and reform Obamacare, failing to build a border wall, failing to pass an immigration law that would secure the border and ensure only meritocratic, legal, diverse and measured immigration, and failing to stop out of control spending and debt by addressing unsustainable entitlements.

Both both President Trump and the Republican Party failed to foresee how low the Democrats would sink:

Trump and the Republican Party also have underestimated the effects of radical changes and protocols in voting laws, such as voter harvesting in California that has made Election Day totals largely irrelevant. Trump has neither chipped away at the 90-percent negative coverage of the media nor yet made it irrelevant. …

Inept Justice Department decisions led to the venomous Mueller investigation that ignored real wrongdoing as it chased a Trump collusion unicorn. In some sense, if Trump’s election as the first president without either political or military experience was unprecedented, equally unparalleled was a 90 percent hostile media, coup-like attempts to abort a presidency through absurd resorts to the Logan Act, Emoluments Clause, the 25th Amendment, lawsuits, impeachment writs, and non-stop celebrity talk of assassination, and death and destruction to the Trump family. Almost any other man Trump’s age would long ago have collapsed under the stress and venom.

The future of Trump’s solid two years of achievement is uncertain. The more his economic policies and foreign affairs bring results, the more the hatred of him grows, both inside and outside his own party.

So Trump’s three signature long-term agendas hang in the balance — checking China’s often ruthless rise to global commercial and eventual military supremacy, growing an economy that includes preeminent American manufacturing, energy production, and industrial output, and ending the idea of a bicoastal elite adjudicating politics and culture for a supposedly backward and declining traditional interior.

No one knows quite how to fathom Trump’s paradox. His extraordinary powers of resilience and retaliation stave off the constant assaults from progressives and the media, and such defiance inspires a red-state America. Yet so far Trump’s caustic retorts also stymie winning over enough swing and minority voters to achieve a 51 percent ruling majority to ensure his ideas of restored greatness.

Is that so? His tweets are his undoing? Yet they are instant communications with his constituency. His loyal followers like them. And their votes put him in the White House.

For now, Trump’s fate may be in the hands of others—as it was in 2016 when what put him over the top was wide scale repugnance at the thought of a corrupt President Clinton and all that her victory would entail. The final take-over of the Democratic Party by progressive extremists might well empower Trump to reelection.

Yet it is a scary idea that the fate of making America great again might hinge on the nihilism of the Democratic Party.

Not if the Democratic Party is defeated in 2020.

It is quite possible, it is even likely, that Donald Trump will be one of the great restorers of history whose achievements endure.

The storm whisperer 5

Posted under History by Jillian Becker on Monday, October 22, 2018

Tagged with

This post has 5 comments.

Permalink

Socialism rising for demons and dummies 4

 

Commenting on what is said in this video, John Hinderaker writes ironically, shockingly, and accurately at PowerLine:

[The] entertaining video of Tucker Carlson and Cornel West … offers a good explanation of why socialism always fails, from the perspective of the vast majority. … Tucker asked West: If democratic socialism works, why doesn’t Venezuela have toilet paper?

Of course West’s answers are lame –“real” socialism has never been tried, blah, blah, blah. You could infer from this that West is an idiot and, if he were arguing in good faith, that would be a fair assessment.

But I think the truth is worse. I think the leaders of the socialist movement are perfectly well aware that the inevitable result of socialism is tyranny and mass poverty. But for them, this isn’t a bug, it is a feature. In fact, it is the whole point. Socialism is now, and always has been, a pretext under which power-mad psychopaths seize power and terrorize their fellow humans.

Viewed with cold realism, socialism works very well for those who bring it about. It worked for Lenin and Stalin. It almost worked for Trotsky, but socialism is like Game of Thrones – it is a risky business. It didn’t work for the Old Bolsheviks for the same reason: they lost out to the more vicious and more power-crazed socialist, Stalin. It worked for Yezhov, Yagoda and Beria, although they, too, lost out after years of demented revels. It worked for Khruschev, Brezhnev and Andropov.

Socialism worked for Mao. It worked for Fidel Castro. It worked for Erich Honecker and Nicolae Ceaușescu, until the very end. It worked for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, again with sad ends that didn’t inflict anywhere near enough pain to negate the years of glory and power that went before. It worked for Hugo Chavez, who like Castro, parlayed socialism into a multi-billion dollar fortune, and it has worked so far for Nicolas Maduro. All of these psychopaths, and many others, got exactly what they wanted out of socialism. From their point of view, it is a successful ideology.

While the vast majority suffer under socialism, such suffering is by no means universal. Any number of commissars, Stasi informants, Cuban snitches, petty apparatchiks with dachas, etc., have parlayed their sadistic tendencies into good livings and what they want most, power over others. If you follow Twitter, or generally pay attention to the American Left, you see an army of would-be commissars who yearn for the day when they can accuse a neighbor of wrongthink and have him sent to an American Gulag. In the meantime, they settle for mob action, “doxxing,” and so on.

Socialism isn’t misguided, it is evil. Socialism isn’t a failure, any more than the Black Death was a failure. Sadly, it has worked all too well for more than a century. 

Those cunning human demons who get power, riches, and sadistic satisfaction out of imposing Socialism, need dumb believers to let them impose it.

Kurt Schlichter, a master of sardonic derision, writes at Townhall:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is less hideously unattractive than the usual Democrat potentate or potentatette and has therefore been anointed the new face of her pathetic party. This dumb woman, who looks like Huma Abedin without the pedohubby and the weird relationship with Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit, took advantage of her even dumber New York district in order to get elected to Congress by calling herself a “socialist”.  Yeah, the subject of a thousand Trader Joe’s house brand chardonnay toasts is a proud adherent of the ideology that butchered 100 million people in the last century. …

Ocasio-Cortez is an idiot, like all adolescent socialists, so she qualified to be the Great Pinko Hope for a party in decline. Here’s how bad she is – she apparently went to college, got a degree in economics, and still ended up a socialist. If she went to med school, she would have probably left a chain smoker.

As for life experience, she was a bartender. Now, being a bartender is an important occupation that provides demonstrable social benefits, and everyone should have at least one crappy job on their resume because it builds character, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’ve ever done if you want to be in Congress. …

It was only a fun job for her anyway. Not a necessary one. Contrary to what she pretended – in typical socialist style – she did not grow up in the Bronx (though she was born there). She is the daughter of a successful architect and grew up in one of the richest counties in America.

The left is always trying to make [Socialism] happen. It’s not going to happen, not least of which because us militant Normals have about 400 million or so guns and we aren’t super excited about giving up our stuff or our freedom to a bunch of Marxist weirdos who think we should work harder so their voter base doesn’t have to. But they keep trying to sell us this polished fecal matter of an ideology. In 2009, they put Obama’s smug mug on the cover of Newsweek and announced “We’re all socialists now, but it soon became obvious that we aren’t anything like socialists now. And, in fact, Newsweek is barely anything at all now, though under socialism, instead of teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it would be nationalized and we’d all be working to subsidize it so its hack staff could keep their loser sinecures.

A few years later, they tried again by releasing Bernie Sanders from the Old Commies Home to nearly beat Stumbles McMyTurn. That failed and now it’s this nitwit’s turn to spray perfume inside the outhouse.

Naturally, the Pink Dummy was summoned to make the rounds of MSNBCNN in the wake of her win over some other liberal tool. This avatar of a failed nineteenth century death cult was hailed as the future of the Democrats because as the leftist precincts in New York City go, so goes America. She did the same tap dance about socialism that all these twits do – see, socialism isn’t scary. Why, “socialism” is just another word for things we all do together, except when the socialists are in charge they kill you if you defy them. …

Pampered spawn of history’s most prosperous and freest society, these goofs are really excited about something they can barely articulate, so they sputter and spit out words like “justice” and “equality” and then get on their iPhones to call their disappointed dads because they are short on cash …

It’s amusing that so many of us Normals understand socialism better than the socialists do not only in terms of what Marx said, and what history says, but in terms of firsthand knowledge. A lot of us Normals have seen socialism up close and personal. Guys like me actually went and lived in its ruins. If you spent significant time, as I have, in the former Yugoslavia, or Ukraine, or even helping to guard the West German border from those friendly fraternal socialist dudes to the east, you’ll be stripped of any illusions about that garbage ideology.

Socialism is about taking your stuff and your freedom and killing you if you complain. They try to pass it off as just Liberalism 2.0, but then you usually don’t call something by a name unless you mean it. If they don’t mean “socialism” why do they call themselves “socialists”?

They use the term, counting on the stupidity of people educated in public schools (Yah government!), but they are coy about what they really mean. They always point to Sweden and Denmark and Norway when they talk about “socialism”, as if those were their role models … Yet, how come we always see the most excited champagne socialists trekking off to visit the dictators in Havana and Caracas and not the elected leaders in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo?

Venezuela is the socialist paradise that dare not be spoken of. I guess when people are so equal they all have to break into the zoo to eat the zebras, equality stops sounding so awesome.

But see, Venezuela isn’t true socialism. Nothing is ever true socialism, which is super convenient since any country that has ever dabbled in socialism tends to run short of food, medicine, and toilet paper. But I bet smart people like Gulag Barbie can totally make socialism work this time, and you’ll be prosperous and free and have your own pet unicorn.

They are always sure to stick the “democratic” in front of the “socialism” when they try to sell it to the suckers, but that’s a grift. Do they contend that if we vote in socialism and find that it sucks – as every single country that has tried it has found – we can vote it out again? Yeah, uh huh. Seems legit.

[But] Socialism is a train that, once you board, never stops except if you derail it – which we would have every moral right to do if this hateful creed were imposed upon us.

You see, socialism is the doctrine [by which] people like you and I get to slave away for the benefit of the people those in charge decide are worthy – especially those in charge. …

Socialism means what’s theirs is theirs and so is what’s yours. Our private property – what we have worked for and accumulated over decades – is no longer ours. It’s theirs, to be done with – to be redistributed – as those in power wish. And if you object, they will send people with guns to make you comply.

In contrast, in freedom and capitalism, the people with guns protect you from having what’s yours taken.

They don’t say it, but we Normals are the engine that they intend to power their socialism. We’re supposed to continue working and building and creating just as hard as we did when we kept the rewards. Note how the recipients of socialism – the elite, the bums, the hipster doofuses with their stupid Che T-shirts – never seem to expect that they might be asked to sacrifice too? We’re supposed to give up our property and labor to benefit them, but what do they contribute? New grievances? …

Marxgirl wants to start off with free college, which means you pay for other people’s college too. Notice how there’s no expectation that her fans contribute toward the benefit they are receiving? And then she’s for free health care, which means you pay for other people’s doctors too. Again, the recipients are not expected to work for their own benefit. Want to guess what she wants to do with the means of production? And with private property? And the rights of people who oppose her schemes?

Oh, and she’s also for banning guns. Gee, I wonder why.

Older Posts »