Tell them (reprise) 3

The United Socialist States of America?

Is it really possible that the United States of America will vote to become a socialist country? Is the Democratic Party now irredeemably a socialist party? If so, does it as such have a real chance of winning the House, the Senate and the Presidency?

Victor David Hanson writes at Townhall:

A recent Harris poll showed that about half of so-called millennials would like to live in a socialist country. …

But they have no idea what socialism is. Professor Hanson gives several reason why millennials are attracted to what they think it is, including this:

Schools and colleges have replaced the empirical study of economics, history and politics with race, class and gender indoctrination.

Few young activists … know the 20th century history of … Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, Soviet Union strongman Joseph Stalin and Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong [who] each killed millions of their own people.

Today’s students romanticize Che Guevara and Fidel Castro because they are clueless about their bloody careers. The Castro government for over a half-century was responsible for the murders of thousands of Cubans and Latin Americans in efforts to solidify Cuban “socialism” throughout Latin America.

When our schools and colleges do not teach unbiased economics and history, then millions of youth have no idea why the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan became wealthy and stable by embracing free-market capitalism and constitutional government. Few learn why naturally rich nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela — or entire regions such as Central America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia — have traditionally lagged far behind due to years of destructive central planning, socialist economics and coerced communist government.

The handmaiden of failed socialist regimes has always been ignorance of the past and present. And that is never truer than among today’s American college-degreed (but otherwise economically and historically illiterate) youth.

What can be done to counter the propaganda of the Left which is winning so many with its false promises?

The offering is parceled so prettily: economic equality, guaranteed jobs, free health care, free education. But take off the wrapping, and the contents are poverty, dreariness, staleness,  hopelessness at best, agony and violent death at worst.

Here is our answer, taken almost verbatim from the article titled Tell Them (under Pages in our margin), first posted in mid October 2016, shortly before the election that fortunately brought Donald Trump to the presidency:

Why do millions of Americans “think” that economic equality is morally desirable?

Why are tens of millions content to live on state support without attempting to improve their standard of living by their own efforts?

Why do millions of university students in America admire intellectuals who hate America, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?

Why? Because they’ve been told to. They’ve been told that good people do and “think” these things. They want to be good. They believe what they’ve been taught.

The same answer applies to: Why Muslim women believe they must put up with being sexually mutilated and enslaved to men. Why multitudes the world over believe that there was a nation called Palestinians who were driven off their land by aggressive usurping Jews. Why Christians believe that a man who died long ago lives on as one part of a three-part god. Why Muslims and Christians imagine that when you are dead you are still alive in another place. Why Jews believe that their benign and omnipotent God has some unknowable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Nazis.

They believe these things because they were taught them. All this was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it ought to be. 

Few if any ideas are easy to spread. To get an idea accepted by large numbers of people takes patience, persistence, conviction, tireless energy on the part of those who want to spread it. The idea need not make good sense, be reasonable, come with proofs that it will work as its advocates say it will. It doesn’t even have to appeal strongly to the emotions. It just needs to become what “everybody” accepts.

If you want your idea to prevail over others, this is what it takes. First the conviction that it is right and everyone should know it. Next, a decision to spread it. Then energy, persistence, patience – and eventually force.

What made Christianity catch on? It wasn’t the life-style – poor, austere, hard, humble. Even the promise of eternal life was not a reliable recommendation as anyone’s eternity could as easily be endless agony as endless bliss (it was and is a 50-50 tossup). The theology was so hard to make sense of that the Church itself to this day has not settled it. And the morality it demanded was against human nature. So what made it succeed? Energy, persistence, patience, indoctrination, force.

See how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome (Constantine) accepted the new god and the doctrines that had accreted to him, thus making it fashionable to be Christian (just a few decades before force was applied and it became compulsory), nearly three hundred years had passed. Three hundred years of persistent, patient, energetic proselytizing. Even then, it was not securely implanted in the minds of the subjects. One Emperor – Julian – came along and actually tried to reverse the trend by suppressing Christianity and re-instating paganism. He didn’t have enough time. He died in battle, his successors went back to favoring Christianity, and the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the final phase of force arrived.

Marxist Communism took less time to get a real grip on the minds of multitudes. Means of communications had speeded up considerably between the 4th and the 19th centuries, but still it took half a century (if one arbitrarily dates it from the first publication of Marx’s Das Kapital in 1867 to the success of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917). And still the same method had to be employed: energetic, patient, persistent proselytizingMuch repetition was required. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic. Then came force. 

The creed must become the norm. So pervasive must the doctrine be that anybody who does not subscribe to it wholeheartedly will appear egregious; an oddball, a rebel, a danger to everyone else and even to himself. The orthodoxy must be accepted without question as good, so anyone who opposes it is ipso facto a bad person.

By the late 20th century communications had become even faster, so the New Left, rising in 1968, could achieve the peaks of power in Europe in less than thirty years, and  in America in forty years. It started as a weak revolutionary movement which brought nothing good with it to Western Europe and America, but much that was bad: recreational drugs, AIDS, and terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. And this irrational case was widely accepted, even while, on the other side of the iron curtain, a young man burnt himself to death to protest against the lack of freedom, choice, and tolerance.

The New Left movement was ignorant, blind, puerile, unreasonable, sadistic – yet it became, it has become, the prevailing belief-system of the greater part of the Western world, and at present in almost all “free” countries the standard ideology (or religion) of the state, no matter what political party is in power. How?

The plan was made. The plan was put into execution. Gramsci supplied the phrase for the overall strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”.   It wasn’t enough that the New Leftists should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and display their slogans. They must take over the institutions of power, everyone of them: the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – were not too small. But none were too big. Town councils had to be infiltrated and eventually dominated; then newspapers, radio and TV channels; boards of education very importantly; the schools, the universities; the civil service; the law courts; a major political party; then the country’s legislative body, and eventually the pinnacles of power, prime ministerships, presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic was first to discredit them and pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press; then to infiltrate them; finally bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and advance the cause.

Meanwhile books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took decades, but it succeeded. Even in America now there have been at least two generations raised on New Left doctrine through schools, universities, books, films, the press, and TV.

How otherwise could the free Western world, whose policies and armies opposed the oppressing, enslaving Communist Eastern world, have been successfully converted to the very doctrine that oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? It didn’t take reason. It didn’t take persuasion. The idea was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of spreading Christianity –  that weird, obscure, muddled, sorrowful, other-worldly new religion – it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, on the part of its missionaries. And finally force.

Only Leftist doctrine – government control of the economy, government provision of welfare, confiscatory and punitive taxation – is politically correct now in America. Collectivist thinking is the norm. Good people vote left. (When, in 2008, a Californian woman came upon a stall set up on a main street to canvass votes for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, she called the police, and was astonished to learn that to solicit public support for the anti-collectivist Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with its ideas. Most adherents could not explain what the ideas are. But they know that good people find them good, that good people vote for them. And that is all they need to know. Who doesn’t want to think of himself as a good person?

But the question of how did this become the case has not been fully answered. There is another aspect to the story. In order for one doctrine to succeed, it is necessary for other, counter doctrines to fail.

And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? Remember that old saying that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”? Well, the Right was not being vigilant. It didn’t bother to argue against political correctness. It disregarded the cynical shenanigans going on in the United Nations as if it were nothing but a zoo housing many clamorous beasts who were safely confined and could in no way threaten American life, liberty or happiness. If it was made to feel now and then the bullying, deceitful, sly, sometimes violent tactics of the Left, it shrugged them off. Conservatives went on being civil and preferring honesty when the world’s mood had changed to favoring lies and abuse. They put their confidence in the fact that America had been founded as the political embodiment of the idea of personal freedom; had demonstrated to the world – forever, they believed – that freedom brought prosperity and might and stunning innovation. They assumed that the rightness of individual liberty, the capitalist system, and government by the people had been established forever. So strong and free a country could afford to be tolerant. Let some wild, immature, misguided persons preach despotism (Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Greenism, whatever), the system was strong enough to be hospitable to alien ideas, and to allow dissent or even rebellion. Tested, it would prove itself inviolable. It could not only withstand opposition, it could absorb it and dissolve it. No special effort was required. American history was on the side of those who would defend freedom and the Constitution. The separation of powers would protect them. The free press would dilute propaganda. Open enquiry in the academies would ensure that all points of view were argued and the most rational, the most humane, would persuade serious scholars. But they were wrong.

In their complacency, conservatives did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Even now there are deluded Republicans who have not absorbed the fact that most Americans like collectivism; that they don’t object to electoral fraud; that they accept a failing economy; that many would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a morally bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that can kill vast numbers of Americans; that the press does not report what is happening in the world but only what it wants to happen; that courts of law are willing to prefer foreign law to the Constitution; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that freedom has become a term worthy only of contempt; that American history is a trail of shame; that a cruel religion – Islam – is being allowed to seep through the body politic, and is protected and advanced by the government itself.

But now millions of conservatives are waking up and are asking, how did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.

What can we do about it, they ask themselves and each other.

What they have to do about it is change the minds of the people. First they must be sure that they want the free republic the founders established; that they want to maintain free markets; that they don’t want a welfare state; that they do want to preserve national defenses; that they want indoctrination in the schools to stop; that they want to forbid the application of foreign law; that they do not want to go on funding an institution – the UN – that consistently works against their interests. Then they must decide that their political philosophy is right, uniquely right, and must be implemented at any and all costs. Then they must start teaching it. With energy, persistence, patience and fiery enthusiasm. It will take time. But that is the only way. Teach, preach, argue, use every method that works. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than to sink to using the methods of the opposition; that if you do as they do you will have betrayed the very values that you are fighting for. So let them win? No! They have made the fight low and dirty. Get down in the dirt and fight it.

How badly does the conservative right want to win and hold on to power in America? How important is it to them that they should?

If it is as important to you, Conservatives, as it needs to be, tell the voters, tell the children that the free market is the only means of creating general prosperity, and why. Tell them that central planning of an economy cannot work, and why. Tell them why competition is good for everyone, producers and consumers alike.

Tell them what profit is and why it is essential for ensuring abundance.

Tell them that only where people are free can there be discovery and innovation, improvement in everyone’s daily life, better technology, the advance of civilization. Explain why. Show them the proofs of history.

Tell them the truth about life in the Third World. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.

Tell them why impartial judgment is the only means to justice; why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law; why people must be judged by their actions, not their intentions or feelings.

Tell them why government should be kept small and its powers limited. Tell them what the essential tasks of government are: protection of the nation, of the individual, of liberty, of the rule of law itself. And why governments should not be allowed more power and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.

Shout down the shouters. Tell Muslims what is wrong with their creed and why American secularism is better. Don’t allow them to build a protective wall around themselves to shut out criticism of their absurd and savage beliefs.

Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable.

It will take time. Start now. Tell them.

 

The philosopher of Trumpism? (Part One) 4

The defeated Democrats and their furious supporters of the fourth estate have not tried to find out what Donald Trump and his like-thinkers actually think. They accuse him and his supporters of being everything they consider vile. So it’s a welcome development if some journalists try to find out what he believes, what he stands for, what he aims at.

Two researchers, apparently already convinced that President Trump’s own ideas are not discoverable at present (a conviction stated with a hint that he doesn’t have any), studied instead his closest adviser, a man with a philosophical turn of mind, and investigated him through what he had said and done in the past. If there is to be such a thing as Trumpism, it would be formed by this thinker, they deduce.

The adviser is Stephen Bannon. His official position in the White House is Chief Strategist. Democrats use their whole vocabulary of five or six political insults to denigrate him: “bigot”, “racist”, “xenophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “Nazi” (a favorite screech by mobs who are increasingly Nazi-like), and even one label not always used as an insult by the Left – “anti-Semite”.

But the two researchers, Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad, tried to find out what Bannon’s ideas really were. And they wrote an article about him, to be found at Quartz:

What does Donald Trump want for America? His supporters don’t know. His party doesn’t know. Even he doesn’t know.

If there is a political vision underlying Trumpism, however, the person to ask is not Trump. It’s his éminence grise, Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist of the Trump administration.

…  Through a combination of luck (a fallen-through deal left him with a stake in a hit show called Seinfeld) and a knack for voicing outrage, Bannon remade himself as a minor luminary within the far edge of right-wing politics, writing and directing a slew of increasingly conservative documentaries.

“The far edge of right-wing politics” they say. So Bannon is on the “far right”? We conservatives only say that someone is on the “far right” if we mean someone like Mussolini, or the Black Hundreds, or Vlad the Impaler, or Genghis Khan. To us conservatives, Mr. Bannon does not sound or behave like any of them.

So now we expect that this article might not be a friendly portrait of its subject.

Bannon’s influence reached a new high in 2012 when he took over Breitbart News, an online news site, following the death of creator Andrew Breitbart. While at Breitbart, Bannon ran a popular talk radio call-in show and launched a flame-throwing assault on mainstream Republicans, embracing instead a fringe cast of ultra-conservative figures. Among them was Trump, a frequent guest of the show.

Trump “an ultra-conservative figure”? A lot of conservatives complained that he wasn’t conservative enough. Many insisted he wasn’t conservative at all.

And the question arises – why not examine what Trump said as a guest on that show? Is it not possible that something Trump said now and then influenced what Bannon thought?

They established a relationship that eventually led Bannon to mastermind Trump’s populist romp to the White House, culminating in his taking the administration’s most senior position (alongside the chief of staff, Reince Priebus).

“Populist”, we suspect, is a pejorative to the authors. And what of “romp”? What is a romp? A caper, a frolic, a bout of jolly play – nothing serious like standing for election as the president of the United States with a smart strategy for winning.

It’s impossible to know for sure what Bannon will do with his newfound power; he honors few interview requests lately, ours included. (The White House did not respond to our request to speak with Bannon.) But his time as a conservative filmmaker and head of Breitbart News reveals a grand theory of what America should be. Using the vast amount of Bannon’s own publicly available words — from his lectures, interviews, films and more — we can construct elements of the vision for America he hopes to realize in the era of Trump.

Bannon’s political philosophy boils down to three things that a Western country, and America in particular, needs to be successful: Capitalism, nationalism, and “Judeo-Christian values”. These are all deeply related, and essential.

We will be commenting on that below.

America, says Bannon, is suffering a “crisis of capitalism”.  … Capitalism used to be all about moderation, an entrepreneurial American spirit, and respect for one’s fellow Christian man. In fact, in remarks delivered to the Vatican in 2014, Bannon says that this “enlightened capitalism” was the “underlying principle” that allowed the US to escape the “barbarism” of the 20th century.

Since this enlightened era, things have gradually gotten worse. (Hence the “crisis”.) The downward trend began with the 1960s and ’70s counterculture. “The baby boomers are the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the country’s ever produced,” says Bannon in a 2011 interview.

Is there a good argument that he is wrong about this? If so, we would like to hear it.

He takes on this issue in more detail in Generation Zero, a 2010 documentary he wrote and directed. The film shows one interviewee after another laying out how the “capitalist system” was slowly undermined and destroyed by a generation of wealthy young kids who had their material needs taken care of by hardworking parents — whose values were shaped by the hardship of the Great Depression and World War II — only to cast off the American values that had created that wealth in the first place. This shift gave rise to socialist policies that encouraged dependency on the government, weakening capitalism.

Again, we would like to hear a refutation of that judgment.

Eventually, this socialist vision succeeded in infiltrating the very highest levels of institutional power in America.

It did indeed. It was in pursuit of a long-term plan of the New Left which its adherents called “the long march through the institutions“. Nothing fictitious about it. Not an invention of paranoid “far-right” conservatives but of the Italian Communist leader, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), eagerly taken up by the New Left in the late 1960s everywhere in the Western world.

“By the late 1990s, the left had taken over many of the institutions of power, meaning government, media, and academe,” says Peter Schweizer, a writer affiliated with Bannon’s Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think tank, in Generation Zero. “And it was from these places and positions of power that they were able to disrupt the system and implement a strategy that was designed to ultimately undermine the capitalist system.” …

Anything untrue there? Anything misleading? Not that we can see.

Underlying all of this is the philosophy of Edmund Burke, an influential 18th-century Irish political thinker whom Bannon occasionally references.

It figures that he would. Edmund Burke is generally considered one of the foremost philosophers of conservatism.

In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke presents his view that the basis of a successful society should not be abstract notions like human rights, social justice, or equality.

Indeed not. Those are the political obsessions of the contemporary Left: “human rights” for some by imposing obligations on others; “social justice” at the cost of justice itself which can only be applied to individuals; “equality” at the price of liberty, through tyrannical state enforcement. 

Rather, societies work best when traditions that have been shown to work are passed from generation to generation. The baby boomers, Bannon says in a lecture given to the Liberty Restoration Foundation (LRF), failed to live up to that Burkean responsibility by abandoning the tried-and-true values of their parents (nationalism, modesty, patriarchy, religion) in favor of new abstractions (pluralism, sexuality, egalitarianism, secularism).

Now obviously we have a difference of opinion with both Burke and Bannon on one of their preferred values: religion. But it certainly was valued by Burke, and is valued by most American conservatives. (Burke had a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. He believed strongly in the importance of Christianity as the foundation of conservative politics. And Bannon is a Catholic.)

By  “modesty” the authors mean chasteness. We gather that, because the authors name its opposite as “sexuality”. As sexuality is not a value, we have to understand it to imply “immodesty” or promiscuousness as one of the “new abstractions” opposed to Burkean conservatism.

By “pluralism”they can only mean multiculturalism and globalism.

By “egalitarianism” they mean socialism.

For both Burke and Bannon, failure to pass the torch results in social chaos.

Once in power, the liberal, secular, global-minded elite overhauled the institutions of democracy and capitalism to tighten its grip on power and the ability to enrich itself. The “party of Davos“, as Bannon long ago dubbed this clique, has warped capitalism’s institutions, depriving middle classes everywhere of the wealth they deserve.

Leaving aside that secularism does not interfere with democracy or distort capitalism, did that not happen? It did.

This pattern of exploitation came to a head in the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. Wall Street — enabled by fellow global elites in government — spun profits out of speculation instead of investing their wealth in domestic jobs and businesses. When the resulting bubble finally burst, the immoral government stuck hardworking American taxpayers with the bailout bill.

An incomplete description of what happened. The house-owning bubble was not caused by Wall Street; it was caused by Democratic governments insisting that financial institutions give mortgage loans to people who could not afford them. So yes, Wall Street was “enabled by global elites in government”.

This is the kind of thing that led Bannon to say in that 2011 LRF lecture that there is “socialism for the very wealthy”. The rest of the country, he says, is [sic] “common sense, practical, middle-class people”.

There is also “socialism for the very poor,” he adds. “We’ve built a welfare state that is completely and totally unsupportable, and now this is a crisis.”

Bannon wants all of this liberal-sponsored “socialism” to end. He celebrates CNBC host Rick Santelli’s famous 2009 tirade about “those who carry the water and those who drink the water”, which sparked what became the Tea Party, a populist movement focused on tax cuts, fiscal scrimping, and a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights. Channeling the spirit of the Tea Party, Bannon blames Republicans as much as Democrats for taking part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of middle class families.

What Guilford and Sonnad call “fiscal scrimping” we, like the Tea Party, call “fiscal responsibility”.

What they call “a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights”, we call “rights according to the Constitution”.

But, yes, there were Republicans as well as Democrats who took part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of the middle class.

So far, the authors’ attempt subtly to convey a portrait of a stuff-shirt bigot would convince only those who already think of conservatives as stuff-shirt bigots. But nothing that has been said (except to us the mention of religion as a good thing), actually puts a single black mark against Mr Bannon in conservative eyes.

“We don’t really believe there is a functional conservative party in this country and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that,” says Bannon in a 2013 panel in which he discusses Breitbart’s vision. “We tend to look at this imperial city of Washington, this boomtown, as they have two groups, or two parties, that represent the insiders’ commercial party, and that is a collection of insider deals, insider transactions and a budding aristocracy that has made this the wealthiest city in the country.”

In short, in Bannonism, the crisis of capitalism has led to socialism and the suffering of the middle class. And it has made it impossible for the current generation to bequeath a better future to its successors, to fulfill its Burkean duty.

So what exactly are these traditions that Americans are meant to pass along to future generations? In addition to “crisis of capitalism,” one of Bannon’s favorite terms is “Judeo-Christian values*.” This is the second element of his theory of America.

Generation Zero, Bannon’s 2010 documentary, has a lot to say about “American values”, and a lot of this matches closely the ideals of the Tea Party. But since 2013 or 2014, Bannon’s casual emphasis on American values has swelled to include a strong religious component. The successful functioning of America — and Western civilization in general — depends on capitalism, and capitalism depends on the presence of “Judeo-Christian values.” …

The article continues to discuss Bannon’s views on the connection between capitalism and “Judeo-Christian values” at some length. We’ll cut most of it out, but will also stress that our disagreement with Stepehen Bannon on this point in no way weakens our agreement with his historical analysis, his advocacy for capitalism, or his strong preference for nationalism over globalism.

 

Footnote:

In obstinate opposition to a universal assumption, we deny that there is any such thing as “Judeo-Christian values”. The values of Judaism and the values of Christianity are not only different, they are contradictory. (See our post, Against “Judeo-Christian values”, August 26, 2014.)  The very fact that we agree with the rest of the Burke/Bannon political philosophy without being religious, disproves their contention thatCapitalism, nationalism, and Judeo-Christian values … are all deeply related, and essential”.

 

 

(To be continued)

The apostle of the long march 1

Obama did not hide his intention to transform America. He stated that he would. What he did not say is what he would transform it into. But even a superficial acquaintance with his upbringing among dedicated Communists, education by Marxist professors, chosen affiliations to revolutionary and even terrorist Leftists, and activity as a “community organizer” could have told anyone paying attention in what direction he would try to move the country if he was elected to the presidency. He clearly intended to transform, if he could, a free capitalist country into an unfree socialist country. (What could not have been foreseen, but has become starkly clear, is that he also favors the advance of Islam in the US and the world.)

How a radical Leftist activist, once in power, might set about transforming America into a socialist country was blueprinted by Saul Alinsky – initiator of “community organizing” – in his Rules for Radicals. And Saul Alinsky had a blueprint in the works of Antonio Gramsci.

There’s an excellent survey of the life and works of Antonio Gramsci at Discover the Networks. Here’s an extract:

Antonio Gramsci was born in Sardinia on January 22, 1891. After graduating from the Dettori Lyceum in Cagliari, he won a scholarship to the University of Turin in 1911; by this point in his life, he was ideologically a socialist.

Four years later he became an active member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and began a journalistic career that saw him develop into one of Italy’s most influential writers. In the Turin edition of Avanti! (PSI’s official organ), Gramsci wrote a regular column on various aspects of the city’s social and political life.

Also active in educating and organizing Turin’s workers, Gramsci in 1916 began speaking periodically at workers’ study-circles on such topics as the French and Italian revolutions and the writings of Karl Marx.

When Russia’s Bolshevik revolution broke out in 1917, Gramsci embraced the goal of spreading socialist transformation throughout the capitalist world.

In the spring of 1919, Gramsci co-founded L’Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical among Italy’s radical and revolutionary Left. Meanwhile he continued to devote much of his time and energy to the development of the factory council movement, which sought to advance the cause of a proletarian revolution in Italy.

In January 1921 Gramsci aligned himself with the Communist minority within PSI at the Party’s Livorno Congress, and soon thereafter he became a central committee member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

From May 1922 to November 1923, Gramsci lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International. In 1924 he relocated to Rome and was named general secretary of PCI. He also began organizing the launch of PCI’s official newspaper, L’Unità (Unity).

In 1926, Italy’s Fascist government enacted a host of “Exceptional Laws for State Security,” designed to suppress political opposition. On November 8th of that year, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and was sentenced to 5 years in confinement on the island of Ustica. In June 1928, his prison sentence was increased to more than 20 years, including a stint in solitary confinement. …

He died, still under guard, in a Rome hospital in 1937.

During his years as a prisoner, Gramsci filled 32 notebooks (containing almost 3,000 pages) with his political and philosophical meditations on how Marxist theory could be applied practically to the conditions of advanced capitalism. …

Gramsci accepted Marx’s assertion that perpetual struggle between the ruling class and the subordinate working class was the driving mechanism that ultimately made social progress possible. But he rejected the notion that direct physical coercion by police and armies was the method of choice for achieving and maintaining victory in that struggle. Rather, Gramsci held that if a population at large could, for a period of time, be properly indoctrinated with a new “ideology”—specifically, a set of values, beliefs, and worldviews consistent with Marxist principles — a Marxist system could be sustained indefinitely and without coercion or force. In short, Gramsci held that Marxists needed to focus their efforts on gaining “hegemony” (i.e., control or dominion) over the core beliefs of non-Marxist societies; to change the population’s understanding of what constitutes basic “common sense.”

Such a development, said Gramsci, would never occur naturally as a result of some inexorable, unseen, “historical laws” that Marx had accepted as axiomatic. Rather, Gramsci asserted that Marxism’s potential for transforming society was wholly dependent upon the willful initiative of activists committed to using a “reversal strategy” designed to establish a “counter hegemony”—i.e., an alternative dominant worldview—in opposition to the existing capitalist framework.

Specifically, Gramsci called for Marxists to spread their ideology in a gradual, incremental, stealth manner, by infiltrating all existing societal institutions and embedding it, largely without being noticed, in the popular mind. This, he emphasized, was to be an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, process that, over a period of decades, would cause an ever-increasing number of people to embrace Marxist thought, until at last it achieved hegemony. Gramsci described this approach as a “long march through the institutions”.

Among the key institutions that would need to be infiltrated were the cinema and theater, the schools and universities, the seminaries and churches, the media, the courts, the labor unions, and at least one major political party. According to Gramsci, these institutions constituted society’s “superstructure,” which, if captured and reshaped by Marxists, could lead the masses to abandon capitalism of their own volition, entirely without resistance or objection.

Gramsci’s formula was followed by Marxists throughout the Western world. “The long march through the institutions” was doggedly pursued. From the 1960s on, they began to achieve success, perhaps beyond their own optimistic expectations. And in 2008 their efforts were crowned by the election of Barack Obama to the most politically powerful position in the world.

Socialism (or “Communism” – even in the USSR  the two words were used interchangeably) is an economic dream-system that cannot succeed. So it will not succeed. But it takes time for a socialist state to fail completely, and in the meantime it does ruinous and painful harm.

In Europe the failure of socialism is gathering pace as calamities crowd to a fall.

In America the harm is only just beginning.

British Conservatives embrace Marxism 2

Shock? Horror? Or did some see it coming?

Under the leadership of David Cameron, who now emerges as extremely dangerous, or stunningly stupid and ignorant, or both, the BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY has moved to the left of the Labour Party!

The Party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher has been won over by the revolutionary theories of Saul Alinsky, of whom Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are disciples [see our post The radicals who rule, March 31, 2010].

The Conservatives have totally abandoned their traditional adherence to the principle of individual freedom and embraced egalitarian collectivism.

This is from the Conservative Party’s website:

The new policies announced as part of the Big Society plan include:

“Neighbourhood army” of 5,000 full-time, professional community organisers who will be trained with the skills they need to identify local community leaders, bring communities together, help people start their own neighbourhood groups, and give communities the help they need to take control and tackle their problems. This plan is directly based on the successful community organising movement established by Saul Alinsky in the United States and has successfully trained generations of community organisers, including President Obama.

This is from the speech in which David Cameron announced his big idea, to turn the whole of Britain over to what Americans will recognize as a government-sponsored version of ACORN:

In the United States the energy, enthusiasm and passion of community organisers has fired up whole neighbourhoods to take control of their destiny.

We want to see that right across the UK.

So we will use revenue from the Cabinet Office FutureBuilders programme, a programme the National Audit Office has criticised for its poor delivery, and redirect it to training thousands of new community organisers in the years ahead. …

To teach potential community organisers how to identify the doers and the go-getters in each neighbourhood and recruit them to their cause.

To teach them them how to bang heads together to get things done.

Indeed, Barack Obama trained as a community organiser in Chicago.

And I hope that in the years to come, a similar inspirational figure will emerge from community work in our inner cities – and go from the back streets of Bradford or Bolton or Birmingham all the way to Downing Street.

But I know the arguments that some people make – that this sort of community co-operation will only happen in the richest areas. (?! -JB]

In building the big society, I want to make sure that Britain’s poorest areas do not get left behind as they too often are today.

So again, we will take money from the Futurebuilders programme, and direct it to community organisers, social enterprises and neighbourhood groups in our most disadvantaged areas.

This is the big society made real – devolving power to the people while using the state to encourage social action and help the poorest.

And this is from Melanie Phillips’s comment in the Spectator:

Ye gods. Rub your eyes, folks. Saul Alinsky?? …

The seditious role of the community organiser was developed by an extreme left intellectual called Saul Alinsky. He was a radical Chicago activist who, by the time he died in 1972, had had a profound influence on the highest levels of the Democratic party. Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society. In similar vein, Alinsky condemned the New Left for alienating the general public by its demonstrations and outlandish appearance. The revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. Its proponents had to cultivate an image of centrism and pragmatism. A master of infiltration, Alinsky wooed Chicago mobsters and Wall Street financiers alike. And successive Democratic politicians fell under his spell.

His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.

Community organisers would mobilise direct action by the oppressed masses against their capitalist oppressors…

The British Conservative party has signed up to the revolutionary Marxist politics of Saul Alinsky and his seditious strategy of using ‘community organisers’ to turn the people against the state and against the bedrock moral and social values of their country – and it is almost certainly too ignorant, lazy or stupid to realise that this is what it means.

British voters might now decide to return the Labour Party to power after all, as the lesser of two leftist evils! But it’s more than probable that Gordon Brown, or whoever succeeds him, will also embrace the community organizing idea.

So expect the launching of the USK – the United Soviet Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

After which, the ESU – the European Soviet Union?

The new religion and carbon-neutral sex 5

All religions have a foundation myth.

The foundation myth of the religion of Environmentalism is man-made global warming.

Its Old Testament consists of the books of Karl Marx and the lesser prophets who came after him: eg Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci, Mao, Marcuse … Its New Testament consists of the Gospel according to Michael Mann and Al Gore, and the E-pistles  of the Climatic Research Unit Apostles.

This is part of an article on the (priestly and inquisitorial) powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, by Jonah Goldberg:

Tim Wirth, a former Senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn’t care if global warming is a “hoax” because even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that … global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of “global governance” and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don’t let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come.

Lessons of the fall 0

Melanie Phillips writes:

Twenty years ago today, supporters of freedom and human rights cheered and wept for joy as the Berlin Wall was torn down by jubilant young Germans.

To so many, that heady day seemed to herald the emergence of a better world. The spectre of communism had finally been laid to rest. Liberty had triumphed over tyranny.

The end of the Cold War even led some to proclaim that this was ‘the end of history’ — which was to say that liberal democracy was now the dominant and unchallengeable force in the world. However, the 9/11 attacks on America tragically proved this to be absurdly over-optimistic. The eruption of radical Islamism revealed that, while the West may have been rid of one enemy in the Soviet Union, another deadly foe had risen to take its place.

So much is, sadly, all too evident. But what is perhaps less obvious is that communism did not just vanish in a puff of historical smoke.

The Soviet Union was defeated and fell apart, for sure. But the communist ideology that fuelled it did not so much disintegrate as reconstitute itself into another, even more deadly form as the active enemy of western freedom.

Soviet Communism was a belief system whose goal was to overturn the structures of society through the control of economic and political life. This mutated into a post-communist ideology of the Left, whose no-less ambitious aim was to overturn western society through a subversive transformation of its culture. …

The collapse of communism was actually a slow-burning process. Its moral and political bankruptcy became obvious decades before that glorious Berlin day in November 1989. … But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down. This was what might be called ‘cultural Marxism’. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals — who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.

Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of ‘production, distribution and exchange’ as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution. He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.

So he advocated a ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out. This strategy has been carried out to the letter.

The nuclear family has been widely shattered. Illegitimacy was transformed from a stigma into a ‘right’. The tragic disadvantage of fatherlessness was redefined as a neutrally-viewed ‘lifestyle choice’.

Education was wrecked, with its core tenet of transmitting a culture to successive generations replaced by the idea that what children already knew was of superior value to anything the adult world might foist upon them. The outcome … has been widespread illiteracy and ignorance and an eroded capacity for independent thought.

Law and order were similarly undermined, with criminals deemed to be beyond punishment since they were ‘victims’ of society …

The ‘rights’ agenda — commonly known as ‘political correctness’ — turned morality inside out by excusing any misdeeds by self-designated ‘victim’ groups on the grounds that such ‘victims’ could never be held responsible for what they did. …

This mindset also led to the belief that a sense of nationhood was the cause of all the ills in the world, precisely because western nations embodied western values. So transnational institutions or doctrines such as the EU, UN, international law or human rights law came to trump national laws and values.

But the truth is that to be hostile to the western nation is to be hostile to democracy. And indeed, with the development of the EU superstate we can see that the victory over one anti-democratic regime within Europe — the Soviet Union — has been followed by surrender to another.

For the republic of Euroland puts loyalty to itself higher than that to individual nations and their values. It refused to commit itself in its constitution to uphold Christianity, the foundation of western morality. …

We agree with most of what she says, but not with the value she places on the Christian religion and Christian morality. We do not believe that the greatness of Europe is due to Christianity. We share with Edward Gibbon the opinion that Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe. What made Europe great was the Renaissance and the Enlightenment: the rediscovery of Greco-Roman civilization, the displacement of a deocentric by an anthropocentric world-view, the rise of scientific enquiry, the revival of the Socratean questioning of ideas in general, the ideal of personal liberty, the triumph of rationality. In other words, by the loosening and finally the casting off of the shackles of religion, even though Christianity, in proliferating variety, continued to exert a malign influence on Europe’s history for some centuries after Spinoza and Hume crippled it.

The dark ideologies of Leftism and  Islam cannot be overcome by the darkness of another religion, but only by reason. Physical force may be necessary, and should not be shirked when it is. But victory in war – as victory in the Cold War demonstrated – is not sufficient if the ideology lives on, whether openly or incognito under new names. It is the argument that must be won, however hard it is to change by reason a view that has not been arrived at by reason. Reason’s victory is enormously aided by its practical achievements in science and technology. Even the dark-age Muslims extant in our world want vaccinations, organ-transplants, aircraft, telephones, television, computers, the internet, refrigerators  – and also, ever more determinedly and dangerously, nuclear weapons. The West failed to keep those out of the hands of Communist and Muslim states, which is why war may be necessary again quite soon. Our side, the side of reason, demands that our weaponry should always be more advanced than the enemy’s. As long as we can innovate, we can win. Innovation is the child of freedom and rationality.