Pope Francis’s Marxist economic analysis reflects the Left’s long march through the Catholic Church

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’s recent “Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the Bishops, Clerk, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World” outraged conservatives, most notably Rush Limbaugh, because it attacks capitalism.  Even though I trust Rush, he admitted that he was just relying on Reuters when he expressed his dismay that Pope Francis would take on the free-market.   I therefore decided to read the Exhortation myself to see if Reuters (which approved of the exhortation) and Rush (who did not approve) were right.  I ended up skimming the 224-page document to get a sense of context and to assure myself that Rush was not misled by Reuters and that Reuters was not misled by its own ideology.   As it happens, both Reuters and Rush were right.

Before I begin, though, let me say that the Pope’s economic remarks are only a small fraction of a larger work that should not be ignored.  Indeed, when Pope Francis is not addressing specifically economic issues, the faithful should pay attention to his words if the Church is to survive in a world with increasing competition for people’s souls.

Pope Francis points out that these external pressures on the Catholic Church include competition from other religions, as well as pressure from what the Pope describes as a world “pervaded as it is by consumerism,” that breeds “the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”  Because of this this highly competitive ideological market, the Pope says — rightly, I think — that the Church must update and adapt its tactics, both among the faithful and to outsiders, while still keeping to its core mission of spreading Christ’s words and ministering to his flock.

But what about his Marxist language? Yes, it’s there and it’s really Marxist. Here are just a few excerpts to give you the flavor:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.

[snip]

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

At one level, these words repeat what the Church has said since its inception, which is that the faithful have an obligation to the poor. What’s new, and what cannot be denied, is that the words the Pope uses — e.g., “inequality,” “exploitation,” and “oppression” — have a definite pink, Marxist tinge. In the next paragraph, that tinge goes full red as the Pope makes an explicit attack against capitalism:

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

It’s rather peculiar that Pope Francisco says that capitalism “has never been confirmed by the facts.” The history of world economic successes and failures should prove all the facts that anyone could want.  The countries with the highest standards of living have always been capitalist. Moreover, as I noted in an earlier post, true capitalism has social and economic mobility. In a free market, while poverty inevitably exists (“For ye have the poor always with you,” Matthew 26:11), it’s a way station for people on their way to greater economic security, rather than an end point. In non-capitalist societies, however, the same families are mired in poverty for generations. This situation reaches its apex in communist societies, where entire populations are mired in poverty for generations.

The Pope doubles down on his Marxist economic analysis when he defends a managed economy as the best way to relieve income “inequality.” He seems unaware that economic inequality is not a byproduct of capitalism but is, instead, a byproduct of managed economies with their inevitable “crony capitalism” (which is a fancy word for corruption).

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.

There’s no way to pretty this up. The Pope is not saying that the best economic system is a free market system tempered by a moral citizenry.  Moreover, if he’s saying that poor Third World countries suffer from free-market systems, and that these systems explain their appalling poverty, he’s just wrong. The fact is that poor, Third World countries don’t suffer from an excess of free-market systems. They suffer from corrupt governments, medieval theocracies, and socialist economic systems, all of which use the strong hand of government to interfere with the marketplace.

The laws of economics are both as abstract and as inexorable as the laws of physics. Governments that try to override them only end up perverting their inevitable, implacable outcomes. Icarus soared for a few minutes until his poorly designed wax wings ended in his fatal fall to earth. Government interference works for a few years as it pumps paper money into the economy, or redistributes from rich to poor, but then true wealth disappears and the managed, manipulated economy collapses, leaving a few winners (usually government cronies) and a lot of desperately poor losers. We give our losers welfare, but they’re still losers in a system in which true wealth diminishes as the government continuously impoverishes the wealth-creators in our society.

Okay. So the Pope went full Marxist. Why did he do that? I think the answer is a simple one: he’s from Latin America. The Latin American Catholic Church went Leftist in the 1950s and 1960s, when it developed “liberation theology.” This time line coincides perfectly with Pope Francis’s coming-of-age as a Catholic priest.

“Liberation theology” is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:

Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.

Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.

Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.

Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.’”

As you can see, liberation theology’s defining concept is “social justice,” which is what all Leftist faiths (Unitarians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reform and Conservative Jews, etc.) espouse. The United Nations, in 2006, explicitly defined “social justice” as economic redistribution:

The United Nations’ 2006 document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations”, states that “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…” The same document reports, “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” The report concludes, “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”

So no, you’re not imagine that Pope Francis is preaching Marxism to the flock. He is a product of his time and place: namely the Catholic Church in Latin America from the 1950s through to the present. The Church there is a Marxist institution and he has absorbed those teachings.

What we are seeing is simply another example of the Left’s march through institutions. The Quakers, once pacifists, now promote the Palestinian’s genocidal ambitions against Israel. The Girl Scouts of America, once a youth organization promoting wholesome values for children, now sponsors pro-abortion speakers and is basically run by a far-Left drag queen who made anti-woman, pseudo-snuff videos.  The Boy Scouts of America now allows gays (showing that, on the Left, its okay if troop leaders or older scouts molest little boys into the future, but it’s not okay if priests in the 1960s once molested little boys).  Notre Dame, once a bastion of Catholic education in America, now invites Barack Obama to give pro-abortion speeches on its campus.  Hollywood, which once was run by patriotic Republicans, now promotes anti-American Leftism throughout the world.  And of course, there’s the pervasive Leftism that now permeates America’s public schools and all of its universities.

When we read the Pope’s words, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t see himself as a Marxist.  He is, instead, preaching core Church doctrine as he sees it.  The problem is that, while no one was really paying attention, core Church doctrine in Latin America fell victim to the Left’s long march through institutions.  When Francis was given the papacy, he simply took that ingrained doctrine with him.  Now that he is Pope, he’s not just spreading Christ’s gospel, he’s spreading the gospel of Liberation Theology, which he was trained to see as inextricably intertwined with Catholicism itself.

There is no doubt in my mind but that Pope Francis is a truly good man, graced with extraordinary compassion.  He loves the Church and does not wish to see it destroyed.  The primary purpose of the Exhortation is to allow the church to grow and thrive in modern times.

Given Pope Francis’s mission and his goal, it’s tragic that he fails to see that the Marxist, redistributive policies he genuinely believes are part of Catholic doctrine also spell the death knell for the Church.  Why do I say that?  I say that because I defy you to name me one society in the world that managed to be both socialist and communist, and still be genuinely (as opposed to nominally) Christian.  To the extent that Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, revolves around the individual — his conscience, his soul, his redemption, his relation to Christ, his worthiness to live (“I say to you, choose life”) — Christianity is antithetical to socialism, which promotes the collective at the expense of the individual and replaces the individual’s conscience with the demands of the state.

Looking at classically liberal minds that can change, and “elite” minds that can’t

Karl Marx

Yesterday, Adam Carolla’s YouTube video about the human capacity to change inspired me to write a post about the metamorphosis I’ve seen in myself over the course of my lifetime.  What made the difference, of course, was living life, rather than just being (as all children are) a passive recipient of lessons from schools, family, and friends.

It turns out that Robert Avrech responded to Adam’s video in much the same way, writing a post about the changes he’s gone through, and how his life experiences made him question the knee-jerk Democrat leaning that was the mother’s milk of all American Jews.  (It wasn’t exactly the same way, of course, because Robert’s life has been different from mine and because Robert’s a much better writer than I am.  But still….  I flatter myself that great minds — or, in my case, pretty darn good minds — think alike.)

In his post, Robert includes a marvelous paragraph about those self-styled intellectual “elites” who don’t change, and who are locked forever in an immature ideological stasis (emphasis mine):

Yes, we eager students studied history, literature and art. But soon enough it became clear to me that a massive amount of time was spent on Marxist theory, a material view of the world. Still observant, still wearing a yarmulke, I would ask about religion, about the spirit. With deep condescension, my professors informed me that we live in a post-religious world. Religion, I was lectured, was the opiate of the people.

I wondered, but never had the courage to suggest, that perhaps Marxism was the opiate of the elites.

Hat tip:  Wolf Howling

In the pages of the NYT, Prof. Shari Motro fully realizes the gibberish of Leftism

I left a trail of hostile professors in my wake when I graduated from UC Berkeley.  I didn’t do that intentionally.  I never set out to be obnoxious or disruptive.  Back in the day, I marched in ideological lock-step with my professors.  (Although even then I couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy of the Berkeley professors prating on about class warfare while making under-the-table payments to Mexican women to clean their houses and Japanese men to groom their gardens.)

The problem I had at Berkeley is that then, as now, I have a great reverence for the English language and, more than that, I’m a complete nincompoop when it comes to learning other languages.  This means that I never mastered Marxist cant, which is as foreign a language to the good English speaker as are Chinese and French.

My inability to comprehend Marxism at a linguistic level meant that, when my history professor made some statement about “the alienation of the medieval peasant as resulting from the hegemony of the feudal infrastructure that dominated the commodification for the agricultural economy despite the destructive rise of the proto-petite bourgeoisie,” I didn’t nod sagely and scribble frantic notes as did the rest of my classmates.  Instead, assuming that my class had some number fewer than 1,000 students, I raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, Professor Whatsit.  I don’t understand.  Can you please explain?”

This seemingly innocent question would result in another shower of Marxist gibble-gabble.  At which point I, supremely confident in my mastery of the English language and therefore unfazed by my inability to understand, would repeat, “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand.”  Eventually, parrot-like, I was able to repeat this nonsense with sufficient facility to garner a magna cum laude degree, but I never did internalize all this babble.  And, as I said, many professors weren’t very fond of me.

In retrospect, I suspect that the professors looked askance at me because I played the role of the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” effectively pointing out that what they were saying had no meaning — at least with regard to the feudal, agrarian culture that existed in medieval Europe.  Likewise, there was simply no Marxist way to make sense of Jane Austen.  I must say, though, that my suitably Marxist English literature professor managed to do what many might have thought was impossible:  he made Jane Austen dull.

I’m politically more astute now, but have just as little patience for Leftist gibble-gabble.  That’s why, despite attempts to read Shari Motro’s NYT’s Op-Ed about “Preglimony,” I still can’t make sense of what she’s saying.  Motro seems to argue that men will be less likely to get women pregnant if they had to pay for her . . . what? . . . pain and suffering or clothes or something during pregnancy.  Heck, they might even be forced to help to pay the cost of killing their baby (emphasis mine).  At least, I think that’s what Ms. Motro . . . or, should I say, Professor Motro, because this incoherent ideologue is a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia.  See what you make of this:

Since the 1970s it has been possible to genetically link a father and his baby with increasing levels of accuracy. Then, a test using amniotic fluid let us test a baby’s DNA before birth, but the procedure increased the risk of miscarriage. Now a prenatal blood test has made the process far easier. Since a small amount of fetal DNA is present in a pregnant woman’s blood, the pregnancy can be genetically linked to her partner through a simple blood draw from the woman’s arm.

One of the potential ramifications is that men might be called upon to help support their pregnant lovers before birth, even if the pregnancy is ultimately terminated or ends in miscarriage. They might be asked to chip in for medical bills, birthing classes and maternity clothes, to help to cover the loss of income that often comes with pregnancy, or to contribute to the cost of an abortion.

Frankly, I don’t see why pregnancy support would be any more of a deterrent than child-support.  Having drifted away from her shopping list (clothes, medical bills, killing baby), Prof. Motro gets abstract, and I do mean abstract:

Rather than focusing on the relationship between the man and a hypothetical child, the new technology invites us to change the way we think about the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. Both partners had a role in the conception; it’s only fair that they should both take responsibility for its economic consequences.

Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).

Huh?  An entire high-exposure op-ed to say that men who can’t be counted on for child support might pay for maternity clothes?

Despite having encouraged men to pay to abort their DNA (apparently yet another way to encourage them not to get women pregnant in the first place), Prof. Motro feels compelled to assure New York Times readers that her whole “preglimony” idea isn’t just a backdoor argument against abortion.  After all, some might say that, if you’re arguing that both biological parents’ obligation to the fetus begins in utero — or, at least, that the obligation to make sure Mama is stylishly attired begins in utero –  maybe you’re also arguing that the fetus has legal rights, including the right not to be aborted.  Not so.  In a paragraph that I still haven’t completely deciphered, Motro assures pregnant women that, even though men have an obligation to the fetus that bears their DNA, abortion is unlimited.  Or at least that’s what I think she’s saying:

The most frequent objection I hear to this idea is that it will give men a say over abortion. A woman’s right to choose is sometimes eclipsed by an abusive partner who pressures her into terminating or continuing a pregnancy against her will, and preglimony could exacerbate this dynamic. But the existence of bullies shouldn’t dictate the rules that govern all of society. In the name of protecting the most vulnerable, it sets the bar too low for the mainstream, casting lovers as strangers and pregnancy as only a woman’s problem.

It’s also possible that preglimony could deter a different form of abuse by making men who pressure their partners into unprotected sex, on the assumption that the woman will terminate an unwanted pregnancy, financially liable for the potential result.

To which I again ask huh?  Feel free to translate.  I don’t know what she’s saying, except that Motro thinks a right to choose eclipses all other legal and moral rights.

This isn’t Motro’s only foray into incomprehensibility.  Back in 2008, right before the election, Motro wrote a masterfully incoherent love letter to Obama’s promise as a healer.  In it, Motro dissed her native Israel for being a hate-filled, racist land, rhapsodized the American South for its love-level, and vomited up the usual charges against Bush.  Keep in mind as you read these excerpts that this woman is a product of higher education and that she teaches the next generation of leaders:

I grew up in Israel, and during my last visit there I felt the interconnectedness of the violence of that place in a way I never had before. I felt the hatred and the heartbreak and the hopelessness seeping like sap from everywhere, from the ambient near-fistfight atmosphere in every interaction. I felt it in the venom with which a minibus driver shouted at a migrant worker who didn’t want to pay for her five year old son “Go back to Africa,” and from the look on the boy’s face as he watched their shouting match quietly, resignedly, understanding that this is the world, a battle. I felt the poison walking on the beach in Tel Aviv – beautiful, sunny, blue skied Tel Aviv – because I knew that my mere presence there is so offensive to some people they want to kill me, want to kill themselves in order to kill me. And it hit me in Jerusalem, walking through bucolic, placid streets where Jews live in Arab houses, houses in which people who are still alive have memories.

[snip]

Flying back from Tel Aviv to Richmond was, as always, soothing. Richmond, where you get to a four-way stop sign and everybody stops. And marching through campus with students and faculty on MLK day, I thought: these American feel-good gestures, which the Israeli in me rolls her eyes at, there’s something to them. These Americans, and the Richmonders I’ve met in particular, they get something right. With good will and gentleness, they are working hard, imperfectly, but working hard nevertheless at healing this bloody, bloody history which here in Richmond is so recent.

And what a gift it would be if we had a president who would stoke this flame.

And what a shame these past seven years.

Abu Ghraib and leaving the bodies of Katrina victims to rot in the streets while Brownie did a heck of a job and reading My Pet Goat as firefighters climbed up against the tide of fleers to rescue as many as possible.

How have seven years of Bush affected our hearts?

Imagine 9/11 with Obama at the helm?

The woman is a walking-talking and, sadly, teaching, spouter of Leftist platitudes and hypocrisy, untethered to either fact or logic.  No wonder our children aren’t learning.  With teachers such as Ms. Motro, they don’t have a fighting chance.

Yes, Obama is a Marxist, but the MSM has blunted America’s ability to care

At YID with LID, you get to see proof of something we all knew intuitively:  Obama is now and long has been a Marxist.

The problem is that this news, which ought to be staggering, doesn’t matter.  Even if one strips away the MSM’s reflexive denial about Obama’s Marxism, the fact that he is a Marxist still doesn’t matter.  I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that forty years of Leftist education and media indoctrination have resulted in an America that views the word without fear.

After forty years of being taught aggressively that America is an evil imperialist; that American values are not only no better than other values but are actually worse; that women and all non-white races are superior to men and the white race (a form of reverse racism, rather than a step toward true equality); that capitalism destroys humans and the planet; that traditional religion is a form of white capitalist dominance; and on and on.  America may not yet be a Marxist nation in fact, but it will be because we’ve had two generations that have been inculcated in Marxist ideology.  It’s what they know and where they go.

I was the first generation.  I struggled with the cognitive dissonance of “the Communists are people just like us, and they want happy families, and they have elections, and we’re the warmongers, and fairies and unicorns,” even while contrasting that with meeting people from the Soviet Union, or getting reports out of China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Marxist paradises putting the lie to these assurances.  Since 1989, though, Communism has been on the decline at the national level.  The Soviet Union is gone, China has gone to a weirdly capitalist economy, and we’re told that Cuba is a happy, sunny, laid-back, 50s-car driving Caribbean paradise, while the horrors in North Korea aren’t because of Communism, but simply because the Kim family is evil.  It’s Peyton Place on steroids, rather than the logical outgrowth of an evil ideology.  The cognitive dissonance with which I struggled is gone, because the past few generations have had no truth to balance against the lies.

So at the end of the day, no one in America cares that Obama is a Marxist.  The concept has been leached of meaning.

But, just so you know, he is a Marxist.

All of which gets me back to the point I made in the preceding post:  Andrew Breitbart got that the problem isn’t Obama.  He’s a symptom.  The problem is a media establishment that’s created a virtual Newspeak world.  It’s that ideological hegemony that we need to destroy, so that future generations of America can actually struggle with cognitive dissonance, rather than being fed a pure diet of lies and misinformation.  Then, if they’re lucky, they can choose actual facts rather than Marxist unicorns and fairies when they make the political choices.

Rich Southern California University Teaches Nascent Social Workers Class Warfare and Law-Breaking

I’ve got a new post up at PJ Tatler:

The University of Southern California (“USC”), an expensive private university in Los Angeles, used to rejoice in the nickname “University of Spoiled Children.”  I’m happy to report (my tone is dryly sarcastic as I write this) that the University is doing its best to ensure that the spoiled rich kids who walk through its luxuriously appointed halls don’t forget that they are, in fact, predators who must be taught to relate to poor people on Marxist terms.  At least, that’s the case with the kids who are attending USC’s graduate School of Social Work.

It turns out that being a social worker no longer involves simply ensuring that children in the most unstable communities or homes are safe; working to make sure that those same children can do well in school, so as to break free of the snare of poverty; and generally ensuring that poverty in America does not mean starvation, chronic homelessness, or physically abusive situations.  (And yes, I know that this is a very abbreviated description of what social workers do, but it does provide a baseline.)

Nowadays, being a social worker means, among other things, learning how to protect illegal immigrants from facing the consequences of the laws they’ve broken.  It also means being able to recognize the gradations of social, sexual, economic, genetic, gender, race, nationality, legal status, etc., differences amongst those don’t rank amongst the evil, white, rich members of the 1%.

I’m not kidding.

Read the rest here.

Why America’s cultural divide is a gaping chasm, not a shallow ditch

It’s already old news to you that statistical data shows that Obama is the most polarizing president ever.  Much as I’d like to blame Obama, it seems that, rather than causing the polarization, he reflects it:

One Gallup chart ranks presidents from Eisenhower to Obama on polarization during their third year in office. Obama is at the very top, with a 68-point “party gap.” The three least polarized presidents were Jimmy Carter in 1979, Lyndon Johnson in 1965 and Ike in 1955. Carter was very unpopular (24% approval among Republicans, 46% among Democrats), Ike was very popular (91% and 57%), and LBJ’s popularity was middling (34% and 68%).

In a polarized electorate, then, partisans not only are more likely to disapprove of a president of the other party but also to approve of one from their own party. Cilizza and Blake note that “out of the ten most partisan years in terms of presidential job approval in Gallup data, seven–yes, seven–have come since 2004. [George W.] Bush had a run between 2004 and 2007 in which the partisan disparity of his job approval was at 70 points or higher.” What they don’t note is that polarization declined significantly in 2008 (to a 61-point gap), when even Republicans had started to turn against Bush.

Obama’s fault, then, lies in promising during his campaign to end this great divide and then in violating that promise by using his executive office to perpetuate it.

If you’re wondering how this chasm happened, a reader send me some information that might give us a clue:

I supervise a USC School of Social Work intern. I was filling out my evaluation for her today.

Here are two of the categories that I had to “grade” her on.

“Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structure and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power in shaping life experiences.”

“Identifies the forms, mechanisms and interconnections of oppression and discrimination and is knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights.”

Our very expensive educational institutions are fomenting class warfare.  This young woman, when she gets her degree and goes out into the world, will disseminate this Marxist view of social issues.  She won’t be a bad person.  She’ll be a dangerously indoctrinated useful idiot in a position to do a lot of damage to the fabric of our culture.

Wendell Romney

Does history repeat itself? I fervently hope not.

Ok, I have grudgingly thrown my support behind Mitt Romney. It’s not that I am excited about Romney as a candidate, but I am genuinely excited about the need to get Obama out of office before he does irreversible damage to this country. But, here is where I see a problem:

In one corner, we have a radical Marxist/Progressive, with little to no understanding of human nature and economics, who is on a tear to totally transform society to fit a bankrupt utopian ideology. In the process, he destroys jobs, strips companies of investment capital, destroys human capital, demonizes success, romanticizes failure, takes command of and promptly ruins entire segments of the economy, undermines the Constitution, blatantly disregards the law and does his very best to bankrupt the country while redefining entire segments of the population as dependent wards of the state.

In the other corner, we have a square-jawed, well-coiffed, highly intelligent, erudite and successful businessman who made his mark in an industry demonized and under constant assault by the President. Formerly a Liberal, he now claims to be a Conservative, although large swaths of the Republican party refuse to accept his supposed conversion to conservatism as sincere. He is a nice, rational man who believes in using soft-spoken discourse to sway people and find common ground. Rather than go on a blistering attack in support of the capitalist, free-enterprise economy, he ends up trying to placate the population with his moderation and management credentials, while fending off internal strife within the Republican Party between those that promote strong advocacy of conservative principles and those seeking an accommodationist “middle way”. In many ways, he remains tone deaf to how others perceive him to be and how they react to his awkward choices of words.

This man of whom I speak was Wendell Willkie. He ran against FDR in 1940 and got creamed by 5 million votes. Now, I realize there are many differences between then and now, but take a look at these photos below and please tell me they don’t suggest a spooky echo of the past.

Wendell Willkie

Mitt Romney

The Coming “Soft Dark Ages” — by guest blogger Charles Martel

This is an exercise in pure speculation. I invite all here to bring their own notions to the table.

An old friend of mine visited me last Saturday to catch up on things. We walked my dog and began a long conversation that ended later in my backyard over coffee and tea.

Bob is fascinated by history, and has been a long-time contributor to print and online history publications. So our conversations often veer off into that realm. Because we have developed a years-long habit of riffing on whatever thoughts come to our heads, we never know where one of our history threads will go.

We were discussing the dark ages, which not only were characterized by the disintegration of the Roman political order, but also the loss of an immense store of practical technological knowledge: agricultural practices and implements; construction techniques—it would take until the 19th century for Europeans to match the Romans’ road-building prowess—war machines; distribution and warehousing; science; art (which in Roman times was the realm of artisans, not self-absorbed “transgressive” pricks).  

I said that I think we are headed for a “soft dark ages.” That took him aback. “How are we headed there,” he asked, “and how would they be ‘soft’?”

I answered his last question first. They would be “soft” because unlike what happened in Roman times, we have the ability to store gigantic amounts of information in small spaces. One person can carry around encyclopedic knowledge on a flash drive. Multiply him by the millions, and you have a vast repository of recoverable knowledge that is private, widely dispersed, and replicated many times over. No matter how determined or persistent this era’s barbarians—Marxists, Muslims, Democrats, unionists, academicians—they simply would not be able to track down and destroy all modern technological knowledge.

But beyond furtive individual efforts at hiding and protecting the knowledge we would need to create a New America or a New West, there would be vaster, more organized, more collective efforts to protect knowledge until better days. I suggested to Bob three institutions or concepts that would become the next dark ages’ hallmarks: The new castle fortress; the new monastic life; and the new Europe.

1.  The Return of the Castle Fortresses

If the United States, Europe and China disintegrate, as seems likely, there will be a scramble for political power among the remnant provinces, states, and regions. Most power will be wielded by Marxist thugs and old-fashioned warlords, so it would not be surprising to see China devolve to its pre-Qin Dynasty pattern of warring neighbor states, or America’s big cities—Chicago, Detroit, Washington—and its Mexicanized rural regions, become brutal satrapies run by the people like Jesse Jackson, Bill Ayers, La Raza, ethnic mafias, and the like.

Europe could begin a too-late, doomed-to-fail ethnic cleansing of its Muslim underclass, but would probably slip either into fascism or dhimmitude. Poland, the bravest of the European nations, might be able to escape either fate, although that would be doubtful given its lack of firepower and its closeness to the greatest of all the European barbarian states, Russia.

But the barbarians would not win everywhere. Just as Old Europe in the dark ages had its bright centers of learning, protected by force of arms, there would be parts of the world that would not succumb to the new barbarity. They would become mankind’s new castles, fortresses of resistance where decency and unpoliticized science might still flourish.

These new fortresses will not have thick walls and deep moats, although their means of protection metaphorically will be the same. Their moats will be the ability of their computer geniuses to resist and thwart attacks upon their databases, and their walls will be heavily and well armed soldiers and citizens who will unhesitatingly destroy any physical threat to their sanctuaries.

Where will the new fortresses be? Either in lands that can protect themselves or are far enough away from the barbarians that they will be difficult to invade and hold. In the former case, Texas and Utah come to mind, states whose populations are already armed and whose economic infrastructures already lay upon solid technological foundations. More remote places, like New Zealand, Alberta, Baja California, could set up defendable dark age redoubts if they were properly armed, including with nuclear weapons.

There would be secret places, too. Large nations and corporations have set aside fortified places where they can stash tools, seeds, patents, rare materials, genealogies, and other irreplaceable items. Assuming that some of them will not be expropriated  by the new barbarians, these vital repositories of knowledge could be available for a later renaissance.    

2. The New Monastic Life

If the fortresses hold, they will become the new monasteries. Instead of patiently copying barely understood manuscripts from a fallen civilization, the new monastics will preserve the old science that they already well understand and attempt to build on it.

The ends they pursue will be the advancement of medicine (especially countermeasures to the barbarians’ chemical and biological weapons); the protection of personal data against spying or theft; the subversion of the barbarians’ computer and weapons systems (think Stuxnet); and the preservation of seminal texts that will one day replace the adulterated, denatured literature of the new emperors.

In contrast, the science of the barbarians will, because of barbarians’ nature, focus on predictable ends: refining the capacity to deliver death, whether it be through abortion, euthanasia, or mass murder against political opponents; improving methods of surveillance and the control of communications, “education,” and literature; honing tools designed to hunt down wealth or knowledge and expropriate it; and finding ways to increase the lifespans and sexual abilities of the rulers.

3. The New Europe

In the old dark ages, Europe itself was the physical locus of quiet scholarship and the preservation of old knowledge that later flowered into the Renaissance. In the “soft dark ages,” ones cushioned by the existence of fierce armed “monks” in well-defended freeholds, the New Europe will be a state of mind. In some ways, it will be how the Catholic Church sees itself: No matter where you go or what language you speak, there are the universal constants of the Mass and the Magisterium.

Similarly, wherever our new defenders of knowledge and decency find themselves — Patagonia, the Outback, the remote Rocky Mountains, the bowels of Obama-ite Chicago — they will share a common love of truth and real science. They will know how to detect falsehood and be indifferent to the barbarians’ enticements. Whatever secret handshake they develop, it will be something that the barbarians might know exists, but will, like their Vandal and Mongol forerunners, never understand.

How long will it take for the soft dark ages to run their course? Who could tell? My concern is that there remain a core of people who will resist the thugocracy, bloodlessly and not, until the thugs’ own fatal contradictions do them in. The United States defeated the Soviet Union because the USSR not only lived a lie, but because it had long before killed off its best and smartest people.

That pattern will repeat itself among our Marxist, Muslim, and academic brethren. But while they will be doomed to repeat a history of failure and debasement, our destiny will call for us to recreate the wonderful things that men once called “the West” and “America.”  

The paradoxical effect of my “liberal” education

I’m having a minor mid-life crisis.  I’ve been a practicing lawyer for almost 23 years now.  I’m quite good at what I do, but I hate it.  And lately, it’s been getting harder and harder to flog myself into getting the work done and meeting the deadlines.  (Although I should assure any current or potential clients reading this post that I do get my work done, and I’ve never missed a deadline in 22.5 years.  I may be bored, but I’m good at what I do and very reliable.)

What I like to do best, of course, is blogging, but that’s not a way to earn a living.  I was speaking with a very wise person about my little career crisis, and he suggested that I write a book.  His first suggestion was that I write a nonfiction book, perhaps an expansion of my “San Francisco in decline” post.  I vetoed the idea, explaining that I’m too much of an intellectual dilettante to put together an entire book on a single subject:  my knowledge base is wide and shallow, and a single subject book needs depth.  Rather than focusing on a single topic, I like to bounce off of things that catch my interest — explaining why blogging is a perfect, albeit financially unprofitable, outlet for me.

My friend pointed out that, while I’m reactive (as opposed to proactive) at a detail level, I do have a fully formed ideology that I apply consistently to every factual scenario that comes my way.  Running with that, he suggested that I write a “novel of ideas.”  I looked at him blankly.  I had absolutely no idea what a “novel of ideas” was.  He explained that Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead is the quintessential “novel of ideas.”  Ayn has taken a world view (individualism), and created a fully realized novel centered around the virtue of that ideology.  Her book is not a polemic, filled with wooden characters mouthing political speeches.  Instead, her lead character lives out his political beliefs, for better or worse.  1984, of course, is another example, showing the horrors of the wrong world view.

For the first time since I started hated my work (about 21 years ago), I suddenly though, “Wow, I’ve just heard about something that I really would like to do.”  I have absolutely no idea how to go about writing a novel, since plot and dialog have never been my strong points, but those can be learned.  I can take writing classes or read books on the subject.

My friend suggested that the first thing I should do, even before I start writing, is to start reading.  He told me to ask people I respect what novels helped form their political beliefs.  So, I asked you all that question yesterday.  Your answers stunned me.  First off, they reminded me again of what I already knew:  you are an incredibly intellectual crowd, well-read and thoughtful.  I’m often in great awe of your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge to real world scenarios.

The second thing that struck me is how few of the recommended books I’ve read, including any of Ayn Rand’s books.  I can tell you exactly why I’ve read so few of those books:  I had a liberal arts education at very liberal institutions.  The result of this ostensibly liberal education is that I have a strong aversion to vast numbers of writers I’ve read, as well as unreasoning prejudices against writers I’ve only heard of.

The easiest example of the negative effect of my liberal education can be described as “my adventures with Charles Dickens.”  When I was in 9th grade, we read Great Expectations.  When I was in 11th grade, we read Great Expectations.  When I was in my Freshman year at Berkeley, we read Great Expectations. By the third read, I could quote large parts of the book practically by memory and hated it with a passion.  In every class, whether I was 14, 16 or 18, we engaged in two, and only two types of analyses:  we did what I now realize was a Marxist inspired analysis that examined the class system in mid-Victorian England; and we painstakingly went through the book looking for literary symbolism.  At no point did we ever examine the book as Charles Dickens wrote it.  Unlike his Victorian audience, we never got to see a rip-roaring novel about a boy’s life trajectory, the weird characters he meets, the wrong assumptions that guide him, and the decisions he makes and their effect on his life.  In other words, we never looked at why, long before Marxist analysis and symbolic investigations, legions of ordinary Brits anxiously awaited each installment in this exciting cliff hanger.

By the time I was 19, I vowed that I would never again read another word of Charles Dickens.  I hated Dickens.  Dickens was ponderous.  Dickens was preachy.  Dickens was depressing.  Blech.  And then one day, when I was living in England, I found myself quite bored.  Boredom didn’t happen to me often when I lived in England.  I was a student having fun.  I went to parties, and more parties, and still more parties.  But even I couldn’t keep the dancing going forever.  So I asked my roommates (pardon:  “flatmates”), “Do any of you have something good to read?”

Jenny was the only one with an answer (perhaps because she partied less than the rest of us).  “I can loan you David Copperfield.”  It is a measure of my desperation that I even let her put the despised Dickens in my hand.  It was even more shocking that I started to read it — and I fell in love!  Reading the novel as it was meant to be read, as the picaresque adventures of a young man, wending his way through the highly colored, eccentric England of Dickens’ imagination, was absolutely delightful.  It was such a relief not to have to analyze every phrase for its class or symbolic implications.  After David Copperfield, I gobbled Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, and A Christmas Carol.  I was finally able to see Dickens as a first class writer, rather than an intellectual burden.

That pattern, of my hating a writer because of the way he was taught, happened again and again.  Last night, after my husband and I finished watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, my husband turned to me and asked, “Had you read that story?”  I drew back in revulsion, announcing, “I hate Fitzgerald.”  And then I paused.  I realized that I’d actually read only one Fitzgerald book, and that was in an English class.  We read and analyzed The Great Gatsby to death.  As with Great Expectations, we focused obsessively on Marxist class issues and literary symbolism.  Ironically, the one thing we didn’t do was try to look at the novel as it was read in its own era:  as a good story that also described the tension between the controlled 19th Century and the wild Jazz Age.  The kind of close textual analysis we did sucks the life out of everything.  When we were done, I vowed never to read Fitzgerald again, and I’ve kept that youthful vow.  (A vow I’m thinking I might want to abandon now.)

Oscar Wilde got the same treatment.  The only way I can think with any fondness of The Picture of Dorian Grey is to remember the student in my class who, in a desperate bid to impress the teacher with his grasp of symbolism, announced that “Wilde repeatedly describes flowers in the book because he wants to remind the readers of the phallic symbolism of the female sexual organs.”  We can now cross Wilde off the list of writers I ever want to read again.

In addition to turning me defiantly against the classics, the liberal arts institutions in which I found myself kept up a constant drumbeat of negativity about many of the books that you all recommend.  Rand was a boring fanatic, Huxley’s book was a fantasy, Clancy was a right wing techno wacko.  Indeed, it’s amazing to me, looking back, that George Orwell’s books were (and are) still part of the educational canon.  Thinking about it, the only reason I may like Orwell’s books is because their defiant anti-Leftism meant that the teachers couldn’t subject them to a Marxist analysis, and their straightforward writing defied any in-depth symbolic exegesis.  In other words, the teacher’s couldn’t turn them into deconstructionist gobbledygook.

These snarky views about anti-Leftist books even infected popular culture that surrounded me when I was young.  As an example, I was a big fan of Dirty Dancing when it came out.  I was in my early 20s, and Patrick Swayze was so beautiful.  Who wouldn’t be impressed?  So I paid attention to the story — and I certainly didn’t miss the fact that Swayze’s arch nemesis, the swaggering, dishonest stud, Robbie Gould, justified his immorality by informing Baby, and the viewing audience, that he lived his life according to Ayn Rand:

Robbie Gould: I didn’t blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place.
[Baby is pouring water into glasses for him]
Robbie Gould: A little precision please, Baby. Some people count and some people don’t.
[Brings out a copy of The Fountainhead from his pocket]
Robbie Gould: Read it. I think it’s a book you’ll enjoy, but make sure you return it; I have notes in the margin.
Baby: You make me sick. Stay away from me, stay away from my sister or I’ll have you fired.
[Baby pours the jug of water on his crotch]

Clearly, Ayn’s writing makes people evil and immoral.  You may as well read Mein Kampf, since it will have the same poisonous effect on your soul.

So here I am, the product of a fairly high level liberal arts education, and I hate the books I’ve read, and won’t read the books people recommend.  The process of reading and studying so many of those books was such agony, it was always impossible to imagine that there might be a simple pleasure associated with the actual story the author was telling.  I shied away from those books just as I shy away from certain foods I associate with food poisoning.  (Don’t ever bother trying to feed me scallops.)  And as for many of the writers I might have found interesting, the ones who directly or indirectly articulated anti-Marxist sentiments, I was ordered away from those books, assured by professors and pop culture alike that they had the potential to corrupt my brain and my soul beyond redemption.

I think I’m going to have a lot of reading to do in the next few months, not my ordinary diet of fascinating nonfiction and painfully innocuous fiction, but serious stuff — the heavy intellectual stuff that will help develop my thinking as I contemplate creating a literary world in which my own political ideas can flourish.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Greed is good

When I was at Berkeley, I had only a few decent professors.  One of them (who was really wonderful) taught a British history class covering the period from 1760 to WWII.  He taught us that the Industrial Revolution, though it started in England, petered out.  It lacked the ferocity and longevity that characterized the American version of that same Revolution.

The professor’s explanation for this phenomenon was the class system. Since British workers could not raise themselves out of their class — since they could not live in the fancier neighborhoods or wear the “upper class” clothes — their acquisitiveness quickly maxed out.  Getting together a small nest egg, making sure the roof didn’t leak, having enough food, and being able to go to the pub for a pint were their goals, and those goals were fairly quickly satisfied.  With the vast majority of citizens neither buying nor striving to buy, the pure capitalism of America, which allows people to work and acquire to their heart’s content, just never kicked in.

Certainly when I moved to England some time later, my own observations bore out this same principle, and that was despite the fact that I lived there in the 1980s, not the 1880s.  Working class kids didn’t want champagne, they wanted fake orange drink.  They didn’t want fine leather shoes, they wanted punk boots.  They didn’t want to travel the world, they wanted to binge at the pub.  Their tastes remained simple, so they had little need to work hard or invest or to be innovative.  Add to that the fact that the Government readily provided enough funds for these limited tastes, and you had complete stagnation.

I’m waffling on about this point because of a wonderful batch of paragraphs in an IBD editorial taking apart Obama’s Marxist economic views:

In arguing for a heavier mix of government, he assumes that capitalism unfairly favors the rich, almost exclusively so, and fails to spread prosperity.

“The rich in America have little to complain about,” he carps. “The distribution of wealth is skewed, and levels of inequality are now higher than at any time since the Gilded Age.”

Obama cites data showing a yawning gap between the income of the average worker and the wealthiest 1%. He thinks it’s government’s job to step in and close it — “for purposes of fairness” — by soaking the rich, among other leftist nostrums.

“Between 1971 and 2001,” he complains, “while the median wage and salary income of the average worker showed literally no gain, the income of the top hundredth of a percent went up almost 500%.”

But such a snapshot comparison would be meaningful only if America were a caste society, in which the people making up one income group remained static over time.

Of course that’s not the case. The composition of the rich and poor in this country is in constant flux, as the income distribution changes dramatically over relatively short periods. Few are “stuck” in poverty, or have a “lock” on wealth.

As I see it, aside from being fundamentally wrong, Marxism, to the extent it has a smidgen of rightness in it, applies only to Europe and other stratified societies.  It has absolutely no place in the social fluidity that is America.  I guess this rather obvious point is one more reason explaining why Obama’s European junket was so well received abroad, but left him with fewer fans at home.

Sweden joins the ranks of nations committing suicide *UPDATE*

Charles Johnson of LGF periodically gets into spats with the people at Gates of Vienna because of their (possible?) ties to organizations that have the whiff of neo-Nazism about them.  As for me, I don’t know where the truth lies in those arguments.

I do know that Europe in the 20th (and, apparently, in the 21st) century has always been distressingly binary, not around the center (as America is, or used to be), but around the poles.  For example, we now look back on the British ruling class of the 1930s with incredible disdain, because so many supported Nazism.  What we forget is that they supported it because they feared Communism more.  They didn’t see a third way out of those two -isms.  Instead, they just picked what, at the time, seemed the least horrible.

I see the same thing occurring in Europe now, where many people, across myriad European countries, are appalled by and afraid of their governments’ (1) embrace of unhindered immigration; (2) hostility to their own national cultures; (3) pan-Europeanism (which destroys the long-time bonds holding people together within a nation); and (4) obesiance before radical Islam.  Faced with this top-down destruction of their own countries and cultures, people in the various European countries are seeking an alternative around which to rally — and neo-Nazism, with its focus on white, European culture is there, ready made.

The problem with this European habit of rallying around the extreme is that it muddies the waters.  People who have an accurate understanding of the situation, and are capable of analyzing correctly what’s going on, seem to soil themselves by embracing the most extreme solution, instead of simply pushing back against their own governments’ and elites’ stupidity.  Of course, given how deeply entrenched and broad-reaching the stupidity is, maybe the only possible push-back is to head as far away from the government position as possible straight into neo-Nazi land, so as to get a running start.  This is why all the alternatives in Europe begin to seem very frightening.

This is a very long intro to an important post that Fjordman wrote at Gates of Vienna regarding the rising tide of rape in Sweden.  Fjordman is not advocating a neo-Nazi solution.  He is, however, giving a solid analysis of the perfect storm:  a government that hates itself, aided and supported by women who hate men, all of whom are steeped in Marxist ideology, and all of whom give their full support to the concept that immigrants (read:  Muslim immigrants) can do no wrong.  To me, the following paragraph just about perfectly sums up the insanity that has taken over the once rock-solid Swedes:

The effect of radical Feminism is to treat all men as criminals, except those who really are criminals, who should receive soft treatment. All men are rapists, except those who actually are. They are victims of “society.” Despite the fact that Muslim immigration has triggered an unprecedented wave of anti-female violence, women still vote disproportionately for pro-immigration parties, and yell “racism” at men who suggest it’s not a good idea.

Fjordman is the boots on the ground — he’s giving a first-hand view of the same problems that Bruce Bawer and Mark Steyn discuss to such good effect in their books about Islam in Europe.

One really cannot blame the Islamists for doing what they’re doing in Europe.  Like the redoubtable George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, they’re not really doing anything wrong.  Instead, as Plunkett always said, “I seen my opportunity and I took it.”  The Islamists are using to good effect the fact that the nations of Europe are holding a knife to their own throats.  Indeed, the Islamists would be fools not to seize such a juicy opening.

More years ago than I care to count, when I was in high school and took my Achievement exam (that was the one with the written essay, wasn’t it?), I remember distinctly being asked to comment on Walt Kelly’s famouse “We have met the enemy and He is us” phrase.  Back then, unaware of the fact that Kelly created that phrase as a slap at capitalism (because it went on an earth day poster decrying the destruction of the forests), I muddled on about how we can be our own worst enemies, etc.  I wish I could revisit that essay now.  Kelly is right in a way he never knew:  the enemy is us because we are handing to our enemy, ready-made, the instrument of our destruction.  It is we — not the nuclear, not the hijacked plane, not the IED — we who are our enemy’s secret weapon.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

UPDATE:  By the way, the increasingly loathsome Patrick Buchanan is another animal altogether.  Rather than observing today’s social ills, he is embarking on a course of historical revisionism aimed at whitewashing the Nazis.  This guy is, plain and simple, a neo-Nazi trying to revitialize a dangerous, grotesque and violent political ideology because he thinks it was a good thing in the past and got a bum rap.  Tell that to the 6 million.