Mélange 7/28/17

  1. If you want to live, climb aboard
  2. Smash it at every turn
  3. It’s hell getting young
  4. The “Soviet Union” today
  5. All revolutions renounce Christ
  6. A little levity
  7. I browse amongst pretentious writers

1

I’m seeing some conservatives tweeting that the movie Dunkirk is a clarion call to defend beleaguered Western civilization. Maybe it is. I saw the movie last week, and found it excellent. I was thinking after it was over that it could be seen as a metaphor for The Benedict Option.

Religious and social conservatives have been routed. We are penned in on a beach. There is no hope, in our present condition, of fighting back the enemy and reclaiming the ground we’ve lost. Not now. The most important thing we can do is survive, regroup, retrain, and come back to fight another day. If we stay on the beach and think we have a chance of turning back the heavily armed enemy at this point, we’re suicidal.

The Benedict Option says to the church: send your flotilla of small boats, too tiny to be a meaningful target for the enemy, and small enough to get right to the beach, where the defeated and demoralized soldiers are. It says to the soldiers: if you want to live, climb aboard those miniature arks, and get to safer ground.

(Rod Dreher)

2

Tell us what you really mean:

For so so many reasons, our Western liberal left must be smashed out of existence. Yes, it is sad. The left potentially had so many things going for it. But it has taken all the wrong turns, and has morphed into a full-blown intellectual cancer. We must smash it at every turn.

(Eric Mader, Clay Testament)

3

Mader’s “liberal left” presumably would not include the orthodox Christian but economically left-leaning millennials like those enumerated in this article by one of their number, Jake Meador, which article I applaud, as I yesterday commended some innovative thought about healthcare from Matthew Loftus.

Speaking of millennials, I hereby report that one of that generation called me “hip” over lunch Thursday, and I don’t think she was teasing or being sarcastic. My bold eyeglasses and Skagen watch were exhibits A and B.

A certified trainer also reported that I’m “metabolically 50 years old.” I had no idea what he meant and neither, I think, did he, but that’s what the black box reported.

It’s hell getting young at my age.

4

I believe that there is great evidence in the pronouncements of our public officials in dealing with the new Russia that signify the diminishing influence of the traditional Judaeo-Christian understanding of history as put forth by imaginative conservatives, like Kirk, Tonsor, and Voegelin, and that this understanding has been replaced by the mythic and ideological understanding in order to obtain the illusion of certainty in an increasingly uncertain world. I believe that the force of ideology is kindling a resurrection of the Manichaean structure of Russian-American relations as that which had prevailed from the post-World War II years through the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The insistence of our leadership class that Russia be recognized as our “primary enemy” (even before allegations of computer hacking of our elections and of political collusion with the Trump administration), the full-throttle drive to extend provocatively the North American Treaty Organization into Eastern and South-Eastern Europe up to the Russian border, and the insistence that political organizations created in the post-war years be recognized as historically conclusive exposes a structure of thought designed to overcome the uncertainties of political change in the past twenty-five years. Incessant references and pronouncements—almost like incantations and actions of ritual—from numerous media outlets, political representatives, and others that Russia poses a threat not simply to existential countries, but to the very idea of “liberal democracy,” reveal the extent to which ideology and myth have supplanted historical understanding.

Members of the international leadership class, at least those who embrace liberal democracy as the end of discussion in political matters, have not been reticent about voicing their fears of political and social “reaction.” It is because of the inherent tendencies to escape the uncertainties of history through myth and ideology, as Kirk, Tonsor, and Voegelin outlined, that this same class of leaders paradoxically embraces the language, symbols, and the structures of the previous Cold War.

One regularly reads and hears statements from political analysts, government representatives, and other officials that the world is once again in a Manichean battle between good and evil, between the “free world” and dictatorships, between East and West. Media people refer to Russia in the same breath as other “totalitarian” countries, such as North Korea. At times, politicians and journalists still use the terms “Soviet Union,” “Communist Russia,” and “KGB” in reference to present-day Russia, as though the Soviet Union had never collapsed. It is not the point of this essay to place blame in this recent development; rather, I would like here to suggest that what in fact we are seeing is a diminishment of the political imagination as it attempts to understand our rapidly changing world, specifically regarding Russia, a country that has marginalized its Marxist-Leninist ideology, its Communist Party, and by many measures has become a more traditional, national-oriented, pragmatic, and non-ideological, authoritarian regime … Furthermore, I maintain that our leadership class is re-establishing the Cold War in order to affect an impression of “security of consciousness,” or rather, to overcome the loss of certainty that Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” theory affirmed.It is my position in this essay that a reason why a post-ideological Russia has become the “great enemy” of the 21st century is a result of what Dr. Fukuyama hinted at in 1989, that history has a way of resurrecting itself, and history, understood as the unfolding of uncertainty in time, precipitates great anxiety at which point we cease to think historically and grasp either the mythic mode of understanding or the trappings of ideology.

(Glenn Davis, Russia and the Rebirth of History, emphasis added) This does not address Putin’s reported corruption, addressed in Congress Thursday by William Browder, but his corruption is not an existential threat to us.

5

I find myself in an unusual situation; namely I am a registered Democrat who has yet to vote for a Democratic candidate for any federal office. I imagine most Democrats would find this odd, but I find most Democrats odd. Yet I have no intention of registering as a Republican only because I happen to keep feeling compelled to vote Republican. This is because I am stubborn. I insist that the Democratic Party change. I see the growth of uncivil partisanship and extreme factionalism as unhealthy, and I am not content with the idea that Americans should simply accept that the Democratic Party now represents the insane half of the population. If I happen to be the last Democrat who thinks this way, so be it. I have no desire to change my party affiliation; rather I have delusions of grandeur that through some of my writing I will change my entire party.

(Peter S. Rieth, Reflections of a Conservative Democrat) I love Rieth’s epigram

“All revolutions are amoral and sadisticthe French, the Bolshevik, the Nazi revolution… Social movements are born from Christ’s teaching to love thy neighbor, but all revolutions renounce Christ.”

– Stanisław Cat Mackiewicz, Years of Hope, (“On Germany”)

and the core of his argument:

This brings us to the real problem with the modern Democratic Party. It should be obvious that Democrats have completely abandoned the Christian idealism which animated the party for most of American history. This naturally has led the Democratic Party to likewise abandon the common man. This explains why, as a Democrat, most of the emails I receive from my party are enthusiastic calls to wear female genitals on my head and take part in protests rather than calls to defend the rights of law abiding peoples against criminal aliens who now often pose a terrorist threat, or calls to defend the rights of men to a decent wage that would allow them to support their families. It is likely why Democrats send me emails proposing marches for women’s rights, but do not see that women had more rights when men had high paying jobs and women could remain at home, educating and bringing up good children and nurturing a god family life. It is likely why Democrats are nowadays compelled to uphold the right of homosexuals to get married and the right of everybody else to get divorced rather than the duty of all of us to be faithful to our spouse, our community and our country.

Oddly enough, Christian prejudice  once at the very heart of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Henry Wallace and Adlai Stevenson’s political philosophy  is now called “socially conservative” and relegated to one branch of Republican political activity. That it is called “socially conservative” as opposed to economic conservatism likewise suggests a very strange new idea: namely, that social mores have nothing to do with economic development. Democrats nowadays apparently think that a society where large pluralities lie and cheat, betray their marriage vows, fail to take responsibility for their families and indulge their whims is a society that will develop a strong economy in the long run. Democrats, who once put vast numbers of ethnic Japanese American citizens into internment camps during a time of war, now welcome vast numbers of Muslim migrants into America despite hundreds of dead in terrorist attacks in Western countries where such Muslim enclaves have been allowed to grow. One could go on and on  but the point is a rather simple one: the Democratic Party’s rejection of the principle teachings of Jesus Christ is at the core of all of its woes in contemporary times.

People like Peter Rieth, Jake Meador and Matthew Loftus give me hope. I’m not sure quite what to make of Eric Mader, an infrequent blogger who must have said something once that incited me to add his blog to Feedly.

Sharing the gestalt of the Conservative Democrat is a “San Francisco Liberal” who has been enjoying following Rod Dreher:

I’ve read your blog for a few months and this San Francisco liberal finds himself maddeningly provoked by your writing.

One notable thing about living in northern California in 2017 is that there is a tension, barely concealed, between the technology-will-perfect-everything liberals and the heed-the-warnings-of-mother-earth liberals (who increasingly resemble crunchy cons with slightly different ideas about economics). A broad consensus on social issues and a completely secular public culture out here obscure the fundamentally different views we liberals have about what it means to be human.

At a “20-questions” office icebreaker, I was the only one of forty in the room who raised his hand in response to “Who considers themself a member of a religion?” Out here, it’s all mindless technological expansionism, masking an infantile terror of death (or perhaps, of having lived a meaningless life), or self-guided mother earth worship. We shall be as gods indeed.

Even if I rarely fully agree with anything you write, you do seem to find many interesting cracks in my thinking. You would be surprised how much appeal the BenOp idea has for many of us liberals who cling to the quaint notions that God is real and modern man shouldn’t destroy his creation. Thanks for keeping me intellectually un-lazy!

6

Harrison Scott Key’s huge father moved them to Mississippi, where they did manly things like huntin’ and fightin’ and sports:

We heard the word nigger a lot, but not as much as the flags in our house might have suggested. Pop was not all nigger this and nigger that. We knew: This word was dangerous. If you said it up in Jackson, it might get you shot. If you said it out here in the country, it might make somebody think you’d had sex with your sister. Mostly, the word was used by old people suffering from dementia and young men suffering from mullets, the sort of men who believed in protecting their heritage and defending a noble agrarian ethos so that one day their children’s children could wear a Confederate flag bikini down at the lake while listening to Iron Maiden and smoking a joint the size of a grain silo.

When you leave high school, you realize the world is not a Thunderdome, that you needn’t whip a man to be a man. What you need is intelligence, and hard work, and a scholarship, and a career, so that you can have money, so that you can buy a handgun.

(Harrison Scott Key, The World’s Largest Man, Kindle locations 2061, 2576)

7

It took a while, but I finally found someone who agrees with me about among versus amongst.

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.