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Penetrating the Fog of Culture War

Penetrating the Fog of Culture War

Protracted conflict is a historical phenomenon. It attends upon every systemic breakdown and the ensuing quest for a new equilibrium. Every revolutionary movement issues from a position of physical inferiority vis‑a‑vis the defender of the status quo. The revolutionary movement, to assure its final victory, must perforce rely more upon the breadth of its vision than the strength of its arms. Its strategy derives from a superior understanding of the total historic situation; the spectrum of revolutionary conflict techniques is as wide as the entire scale of social change. Within that spectrum, a central intelligence organizes and phases the instruments of conflict ‑‑ political, economic, psychological, technological and military. That central intelligence discerns potential weapons where the defender of the status quo sees only the tools of peace; in short, it turns plowshares into swords.[1] 

In a series of popular lectures, the business professor Morris Massey contended that “what you are is where you were when”. Our very identities are woven out of the still living experiences and memories accumulated over a lifetime. It is much the same with nations and civilizations. Alexis de Tocqueville and Francis Lieber left us distant early warnings of a latent democratic despotism capable of marshaling the powers of social disapproval, exclusion, even ostracism. Sophisticated strategies of subversion – such as Rudi Dutschke’s long march through the institutions – may be used with impunity to instill fear and unsettle people’s critical faculties[2]. As we delve into them, we are confronted with the guile of the guiltless – those who profess to be history’s midwives.

Under the banner of social and economic justice, revolutionary doctrines are now surging into the life stream of our everyday world, having secured the active cooperation of public and private institutions that had already been purged of their founding purposes and ideals[3]. So easily are some people “carried about with every wind of doctrine” that the West is now collectively deemed “ripe for the picking”.

Our imaginative landscape has been radically reshaped within living memory. As Neil Postman once put it: 

“Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress. And, in this sense, all Americans are devout Marxists, for we believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement.”[4] 

In the beginning of this brave new world is the icon, not the word. Postman’s last point may have sounded plausible in 1984 but that paradise seems more remote than ever. Except perhaps by common consensus, how many today still believe the system works?

The culture of the now post-Christian West is being transformed by ever more invasive ideological pathogens transmitted through a proliferating variety of social media that simultaneously circulate and enforce novel representations of reality – avant garde yet somehow socially-authoritative – while neutralizing, suppressing, or boldly repudiating the customs, traditions, and wisdom literature that – in the manner of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”[5] – once provided civilization’s first line of defense. Postman concluded: “There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first – the Orwellian – culture becomes a prison. In the second – the Huxleyan – culture becomes a burlesque”[6].

Yet it is important to recognize that this counterculture mirrors – and is dependent upon – its host. In the manner of Mephistopheles of Franz Liszt’s A Faust Symphony, Progressive and Leftist ideologies have no inherent character of their own. Just as the musical motifs of Mephistopheles mimicked those of Faust, these ideologies mimic, caricature, or negate the foundational doctrines, ethos, and worldview of a Christian civilization which had at one time transformed elements of the classical world into a greater synthesis.[7]

Nearly a century has passed since Julien Benda recognized the subordination and politicization of the West’s cultural institutions by those who pursue power – either a class interest or a national passion – for its own sake, including “men of learning, artists and philosophers”. In an earlier age those who wore robes of authority – judges, professors, and clergy – spoke a universal language among themselves and were entrusted with the defense of “a great universal empire on spiritual foundations”[8]. The new clerisy of intellectuals, administrators, and policy wonks has turned instead to secular power religions. As Roger Scruton expressed it: “It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world”[9]. As Mao Zedong put it: “power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Morality is thus reduced to what serves the revolution. 

The long march onto the campuses 

Much of the West today is surrendering to a successful long-term ideological revolution that began sweeping into power along a wide range of fronts and through multiple stages[10]. More than a century ago, George Bernard Shaw appended the Nietzsche-inspired “Revolutionists’ Handbook” to his play Man and Superman. As one of the leading members of the Fabian Society, Shaw adhered to the policy of not publicizing the term “socialist”. Theirs was to be a revolution by stealth. H. G. Wells, who broke with the Society, called instead for an “open conspiracy”[11].

In America, the Fabian-inspired Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) was founded on September 12, 1905 at a large meeting held at Peck’s Restaurant in New York, organized by Upton Sinclair. Its members were a “Who’s Who” of American socialism. Jack London, another Nietzsche acolyte, was elected president. In 1921, the ISS changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), which in turn spawned the Students for a Democratic Society in 1960 (SDS). One SDS faction, the Weather Underground, turned to revolutionary violence. Its co-founder, Bill Ayers, later held a distinguished professorship with a specialty in elementary education theory.

A movement that began in Europe and moved to American during the larger intellectual exodus from Central Europe in the 1930s was the Frankfurt School. Its purpose – one which Antonio Gramsci shared – was to promote a Marxist cultural revolution. The American journalist Ralph de Toledano drew upon a lifetime of interviews he had conducted to provide background on its founding and subsequent transformations. 

“In creating the blueprint, both [Willi] Muenzenberg and [Georg] Lukacs would make major contributions. They both knew that societies and civilizations are not propelled by mass movements. The Bolshevik revolution had not been brought about by popular demonstrations but by the minority overthrow of the Kerensky government, by the corruption of the ruling class and by the erosion of that class’s faith in itself and its will to hold power... The obstacle to the disintegration, corruption, and erosion of the West – the cultural time bomb – was not the state power, which concerns itself solely with its preservation.

The obstacle was western civilization itself, and the culture it engendered. Western civilization was made up of many mansions – the morality that derives from the Old and New Testaments, the traditional family, the respect for the past as a guide to the future, the restraint of man’s baser instincts, and a socio-political organization which guaranteed freedom without license. Of these two obstacles, the two greatest were God and the family.” 

As for the Frankfurt School itself, the universities and teachers’ colleges were the chief objects of its attention. 

“‘We must organize the intellectuals,’ Willi told Ruth Fischer after the Moscow meetings, as she reported to this writer. The intellectuals were the key to any hidden assault on Western civilization and culture. An academic base for the new endeavor was both essential and mandatory. The intellectuals had their own means of communication, they spoke in a lingua franca of their own, and they had been eternally at odds with society since the days of Socrates. Class warfare could engage the attention of fanatics. But only the intellectuals could manipulate the culture and as an immediate prospect paralyze any action against the ‘worker’s paradise,’ while systematically destroying the systems and societies which stood in the way of Western collapse and the ultimate victory of neo-Marxism.”[12] 

The radicalization of campuses was slow but methodical. “In 1940,” David Gelernter notes, “the mission of the top colleges was social: to allow the WASP elite to reproduce itself. Education in science and scholarship was part of the task, but subordinate to molding citizens who knew how to behave, how to distinguish themselves and set an example to the rest of society”[13].

Much of the elite world of the campus “legacies” began to change within a generation following the Second World War, the advent of the GI Bill of Rights, and the postwar Baby Boom, all of which helped make even an Ivy League education more widely accessible to scholarship students. In the wake of the Port Huron Statement of the SDS, the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, and the Civil Rights and anti-war protests of the 1960s, universities became intellectual battlegrounds that reshaped American culture and played a major role in the rise of Silicon Valley[14]. The radicalization of universities during that period and subsequently has made them the vanguard of the culture wars.

The condition of political correctness known as “wokeness” is today reaching such a fever pitch that private conversations and public controversies alike are becoming semantic minefields in which everything hinges on connotation and context. Campus disciplinary hearings and the ritual of disinviting of speakers echo medieval morality plays. In the theater of contemporary politics, people publicly signal their virtue and pledge their fealty to the identity group or the cause de jour– much like the greengrocer in Vàclav Havel’s parable[15] – while speaking in hushed tones anywhere in the vicinity of prying eyes and electronic eavesdroppers. Czeslav Milosz recognized the same danger of a pressure to conform in the West to which he had escaped from Communist Poland[16]. Considering the media-conscious measures taken to ensure compliance with lockdowns and mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, one might suspect that a Chinese-style social credit system – a scion of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and Plato’s cave – is already in full operation.

During the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown, the ability of organizers to lead riots with impunity had a chilling effect on the citizenry by suspending ordinary life and leaving people in a state of frustrated helplessness or generalized fear.[17] As Angelo Codevilla observed of the politicization of the pandemic: 

“Like all infections, it is deadly to those weakened severely by other causes. It did not transform American life by killing people, but by the fears about it that our oligarchy packaged and purveyed. Fortuna, as Machiavelli reminds us, is inherently submissive to whoever bends her to his wishes. The fears and the strictures they enabled were not about health – if only because those who purveyed and imposed them did not apply them to themselves. They were about power over others.”[18] 

Despite very tight restrictions on travel and gatherings, public officials either welcomed or acquiesced to the large-scale protests organized by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa that erupted throughout urban America following the death of George Floyd. Their ability to act with impunity had a chilling effect on public morale while exposing the system’s inability to protect and defend either the Constitution or the general public.

As a bewildering shakedown regime settled into many cities, the denunciations and invective hurled against the police, public officials, and ordinary diners mimicked Maoist struggle sessions[19]. Even schoolchildren were organized to participate in the protests: “During the Floyd protests, the teacher- and student-led protests accelerated. Children as young as five held a mock protest at Sabin Elementary School and raised the Black Power fist alongside their teachers. Middle school students in northeast Portland led a public march advocating for defunding the police. High school students marched through a neighborhood in southwest Portland – 'the whitest part of the city’ – demanding that residents provide ‘reparations’ to blacks”[20]. The rioters were granted a “free pass” from local authorities as well as the governor. All of which raises a rather non-academic question: If Arnold Toynbee’s “challenge and response” theory of civilization has any merit, what would be the status of a civilization that responds merely by shrugging off the question? 

Surrendering our birthright 

In an identity-obsessed exorcism of crimes from time immemorial, disaffected detractors of the West anathematize its moral and spiritual character. By alleging a moral equivalency with the pitiless monsters it disgraced or vanquished in a traumatic series of wars from 1914-1945 and beyond, the West’s progeny and heirs now demean its great assets of constitutional civil liberty, free enterprise, and self-government – originally forged in adversity – as liabilities.

The sociologist Frank Furedi argues that a “crisis of self-belief of the Western elites” created a chain of events which culminated in the First World War – a war that further intensified the crisis, which he attributes to the lack of “a common ethos and outlook” or clarity of principle that could “legitimate its values and inspire the public”. Instead that war served as a “catalyst for eroding the prevailing system of meaning and helped intensify disputes over norms and values”[21]. Wartime regimentation moved seamlessly into civilian life.

Lacking the tough-mindedness to face down successive phases of an ongoing cultural revolution, the system’s besieged gatekeepers surrendered to the prevailing winds and, at times, deflected personal responsibility through some ritual act of self-abasement. The result has been a politics of the guilty conscience which reflects collective failures to exercise intelligent stewardship and moral leadership – real breaches of trust. As J. Budziszewski observes: “Even when suppressed, the knowledge of guilt always produces certain objective needs”, namely confession, atonement, reconciliation, and justification[22]. Absent an acknowledgement of blame or genuine remorse and repentance, a burdened conscience may exact its revenge by substituting false proxies for atonement that redirect its force destructively[23]. Politics has degenerated in the course of an average lifetime from civil and intelligent discussions of policy differences into contests of deception, compulsion, and acrimony. 

Waning of the liberal tradition 

Classical liberalism reflects its origins in a Christian civilization but it subtly differs from the Christian worldview in its voluntarist conception of the nature and destiny of man. Unmoored from Biblical presuppositions – from a strong ontological and epistemological sense of God’s creation and providential superintendence of the world – liberal values tend to drift into self-indulgent assertions with no rational basis or sentimental holdovers from a faith that no longer commands the whole of life.

Culminating in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, the idea of individual conscience, rather than God’s sovereignty, became the keystone of liberal doctrine while any dependence upon God is edged out of the picture – from the public realm of obedience or worshipful submission to the private realm of belief. Mill’s so-called reform liberalism represents an evolution from a voluntarist conception of an absolute but arbitrary sovereign self or state to a view of man after the same image. As Protagoras saw it: Man is the measure (and the measurer) of all things.

Liberalism – in its philosophical, theological, and political guises – majors in the forms and procedures of the life of the mind, the spirit, and the civil body politic, but at best it minors in their foundational truths. Philosophical liberalism has been nourished by the faith and customs of a Christian civilization but diminishes them by exception and amendment. John H. Hallowell summarized the criteria of what he called “integral liberalism”, while showing it rests on the autonomous reason and conscience of the individual[24].

J. Gresham Machen noted of theological liberalism in 1923 that “the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or 'liberalism’”[25]. In similar fashion, its political counterpart, reform liberalism, draws on the substance of its host – the state in this case – for its sustenance. It may help extend the arm of the state but it risks stretching it beyond its competence by overextending it. Thus, it can only deplete rather than replenish the stock from which it draws, aggravating fiscal crises, impoverishing services, and intensifying compulsion. Although Machen acknowledged the great benefit that public education can deliver, he also warned that once a public-school system becomes monopolistic “it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised”. 

“The truth is that the materialistic paternalism of the present day, if allowed to go on unchecked, will rapidly make of America one huge ‘Main Street,’ where spiritual adventure will be discouraged and democracy will be regarded as consisting in the reduction of all mankind to the proportions of the narrowest and least gifted of the citizens.”[26] 

Thomas C. Leonard concluded his book Illiberal Reformers by observing: “Before the First World War, the progressive economists’ outsized confidence in their own wisdom and objectivity was matched only by their belief in the transformative promise of the administrative state”[27]. The political machinery of the modern state has enabled coercive political moralists, as Kenneth Minogue called them, to pursue their dreams of enhancing or reshaping society, economy, or culture. The Rev. Frederick T. Gates, the Progressive head of the Rockefeller-financed General Education Board, put this condescension on full display in 1913: 

“Is there aught of remedy for this neglect of rural life? Let us, at least, yield ourselves to the gratifications of a beautiful dream that there is. In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians... All that we shall try to do is just to create presently about these country homes an atmosphere and conditions such, if by chance a child of genius should spring up from the soil, that genius will surely bud and not be blighted. Putting, therefore, all high things quite behind us, we turn with a sense of freedom and delight to the simple, lowly, needful things that promise well for rural life.”[28] 

While these may be the pious platitudes of a one-time minister, they are representative of an increasingly post-Christian sentimentalism which helped Progressivism prepare the way for the crusades of reform liberalism during the New Deal. Although some Progressive leaders – notably Herbert Croly – were later chastened by Progressivism’s undemocratic tendencies, the elites of the Progressive Ascendancy and their successors have long evaded constitutional limitations. As Bruce Frohnen puts it: 

“They have sought for decades to ‘free’ Americans from the associations on which they learn and practice self-government and have subjected them to programs of education and assistance, opening to only a few the possibility of entering the elite class while condemning the rest to dependence on government structures, programs, and information systems.”[29] 

The revolution was 

Rudi Dutschke was not alone in recognizing the weakness of the West’s spiritual and intellectual defenses or its vulnerability to what might be called “an inside job”[30]. The American journalist Garet Garrett published an essay entitled The Revolution Was in 1944, the first of a series of analyses of a sea change that had already taken place in the American constitutional system.

Garrett began with a simple observation: “There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom”. He continued: 

“There are those who have never ceased to say very earnestly, ‘Something is going to happen to the American form of government if we don't watch out.’ These were the innocent disarmers. Their trust was in words. They had forgotten their Aristotle. More than 2,000 years ago he wrote of what can happen within the form, when ‘one thing takes the place of another, so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about revolution in the state.’”[31] 

Garrett opened the Foreword to his collection of three related essays, The People’s Pottage, with an insight worthy of a strategic analyst: “A time came when the only people who had ever been free began to ask: What is freedom? Who wrote its articles – the strong or the weak? Was it an absolute good?” Garrett recognized that it takes only a few seeds of doubt to crack a formidable edifice by challenging a perception, custom, culture, or faith: “Why should people not be free to say they would have less freedom in order to have more of some other good?”[32]

Like the temptation in the garden, as Saul Alinsky made explicitly clear,[33] the subtle revolutionary must be well-prepared to insinuate an alternative vision: security, stability, sympathy toward others “instead of the willful I, as if each man were a sovereign, self-regarding individual”. Garrett acknowledged that “where there is freedom doubt itself must be free”, then posed the dilemma which naturally follows: 

“So long as doubts such as these were wildish pebbles in the petulant waves that gnaw ceaselessly at any foundation, perhaps only because it is a foundation, no great damage was done. But when they began to be massed as a creed, then they became sharp cutting tools, wickedly set in the jaws of the flood. That was the work of a disaffected intellectual cult, mysteriously rising in the academic world; and from the same source came the violent winds of Marxian propaganda that raised the waves higher and made them angry.”[34] 

Garrett had a keen eye for marketing strategies. So did the publicist Edward Bernays, who skillfully marketed liberal and leftwing ideas for decades while echoing the depth psychology of his uncle Sigmund Freud[35]. Marvin Olasky noted in The American Leadership Tradition: “Bernays, believing that there is ‘no being in the air to watch over us,’ argued that public relations counselors earn their pay ‘by making the public believe that human gods are watching over us for our own benefit’”[36]. As a consequence, politics has become a whirlwind of fantasy images with political demigods hurling thunderbolts at each other for our edification and entertainment, as well as our fear and trepidation at times.

Near the end of Propaganda (1928), Bernays wrote: “The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation”. Bernays ended his book on an optimistic note that today sounds curiously naïve: 

“No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, it must respond to the basic appeals, because it will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, respond to leadership.

If the public becomes more intelligent in its commercial demands, commercial firms will meet the new standards. If it becomes weary of the old methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals more intelligently.”[37] 

More realistically, Garrett concluded his essay by noting: “Revolution by scientific technique is above morality. It makes no distinction between means that are legal and means that are illegal”. As for the failure of his countrymen and their leaders to guard against such treachery, he simply observed: “Their trust was in words.”[38] 

Notes:

[1]Robert Strausz-Hupé, William R. Kintner, James E. Dougherty, and Alvin J. Cottrell. Protracted Conflict (New York: Harper Colophon,1963).

[2]See Steven Alan Samson, “A Strategy of Subversion,” The Market for Ideas, 22 (Mar.-Apr. 2020). http://www.themarketforideas.com/a-strategy-of-subversion-a541/

[3]Protestant Christianity prevailed during the colonial period and into the early American Republic. “In the nineteenth century the Protestant establishment became informal and declared itself nonsectarian. Today nonsectarianism has come to mean the exclusion of all religious concerns. In effect, only purely naturalistic viewpoints are allowed a serious academic hearing.” George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford, 1994) 440.

[4]Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin, 1985), 158.

[5]http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm

[6]Ibid., 155.

[7]See Rémi Brague. Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2002).

[8]Benda, Treason, 181-82. Gary North characterized what Benda lamented as the political strategy of “Capturing the Robes” of authority: the clergy, the professoriate, and the judiciary. See https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/2aca_43e.htm. Perhaps the treason began much earlier when those spiritual foundations were cast aside. Thomas Sowell detected evident of this in the Enlightenment: “Class self-interest was, however, seen as the public interest. According to D’Alembert, ‘the greatest happiness of a nation is realized when those who govern agree with those of instruct it.” Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions (New York: Basic, 1980), 381.

[9]Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2006), 149.

[10]See Robert Strausz-Hupé, Conflict, on the Communist international strategy; Vladmir Bukovsky, Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity, trans. Alyona Kojevnikov (Ninth of November Press, 2019) on human rights abuses in the East and Kremlin influence in the West; Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak, Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2013) on espionage, character assassination, and subversion; Ralph de Toledano, Cry Havoc! The Great American Bring-down and How It Happened (Washington, DC: Anthem, 2006) on the Soviet origins of the Frankfurt Institute and its influence in the West; Paul Kengor, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015); Michael Widlanski, Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat (New York: Threshold, 2012) on the ideological side of the battle.

[11]H. G. Wells, The Open Conspiracy (South Pasadena, CA: Emissary, 1975 [1928]).

[12]Toledano, Havoc, 26, 27.

[13]David Gelernter, America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) (New York: Encounter, 2012), 39.

[14]Joel Kotkin, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (New York: Encounter, 2020), 28-30.

[15]The greengrocer displays a poster with a Communist Party slogan to signal his acquiescence to the Communist system. Others may resort to Aesopian language either to escape detection or intimidate objectors. Fear is the common denominator. Ideologies enable “people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves.” Václav Havel. Living In Truth: Twenty-Two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel, ed. Jan Vladislav. London: Faber and Faber, 1986), 41-43.

[16]Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind, trans. Jane Zielonko (New York: Vintage, 1981[1951]), xiii, 18-24.

[17]Ibid. See Steven Alan Samson, “Interposition: Magistrates as Shields Against Tyranny,” Western Australian Jurist, 11 (2020): 301-38.

[18]Angelo Codevilla, “Clarity in Trump’s Wake,” American Greatness, January 19, 2021. https://amgreatness.com/2021/01/19/clarity-in-trumps-wake/

[19]Jarrett Stepman, “Activists Reenact Communist ‘Struggle Sessions’ for the Insufficiently Woke,” Daily Signal https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/08/27/activists-re-enact-communist-struggle-sessions-for-the-insufficiently-woke/

[20]Christopher F. Rufo, “The Child Soldiers of Portland,” City Journal, Spring 2021. https:in the development //www.city-journal.org/critical-race-theory-portland-public-schools

[21]Frank Furedi, First World War – Still No End in Sight (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 175-224.

[22]J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man (Dallas: Spence, 1999), 28.

[23]Ibid., 22, 27-38, 55-56.

[24]John H. Hallowell, Main Currents in Modern Political Thought (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1950), 110-11.

[25]J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1974 [1923]), 2.

[26]Ibid., 14-15.

[27]Leonard, Reformers, 187.

[28]Frederick T. Gates, “The Country School of To-Morrow,” Occasional Papers, no. 1 (New York: General Education Board, 1913), 6.

[29]Bruce P. Frohnen, “American Populism in the Early Twenty-First Century: Constitutional Resistance to the New Class,” in The Independent Review, 26 (Summer 2021): 49. On the “parallel or ‘alternative’ institutions” the elites have created to insulate themselves, see Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 20-21.

[30]As Abraham Lincoln put it in his 1838 Lyceum Address: “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm

[31]Garet Garrett, “The Revolution Was,” The People’s Pottage (Caldwell, ID: Caxton Press, 1953). https://www.garetgarrett.org/1944-the-revolution-was-the-revolution-was-garet-garrett.html. A classic statement of this principle may be found in the third chapter of Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1 (New York: The Modern Library, 1932), 52-73.

[32]Ibid.

[33]See Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Vintage, 1972), ix. Note the epigraph dedication to Lucifer.

[34]Garrett, “Revolution.” Similarly, George Bernard Shaw used such plays as Androcles and the Lion, Back to Methusaleh, and Man and Superman with its “Revolutionist’s Handbook” to challenge the orthodoxies of his day.

[35]See Edward Bernays, Propaganda (New York: IG Publishing, 2005 [1928]), which is a simplified, public relations version of Walter Lippmann’s “the manufacture of consent.”

[36]204.

[37]Ibid. 166, 168. Freud himself had a perhaps better appreciation of the power and (inter)subjectivity of the media – what Marshall McLuhan later described as “extensions of man” – by characterizing man, individually and collectively, as “a kind of prosthetic God” in command of forces beyond even those that led Thomas Hobbes to conclude that man’s natural state is a state of war because we humans are, as William Cowper expressed it, monarchs of all we survey. See Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1962 [1930], 36-39, 92.

[38]Garrett, “Revolution.”

 

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016