May 3, 2014

American Perversions: The Not-So-Great Generation and the Vision That Dare Not Speak Its Name


aworld.jpg
The World as a Group of Fantasy Islands. A project off the coast of Dubai

"The unnamable vision always leads to the unspeakable crime." -- AD Commenter Gloria

Daniel Henninger in a prophetic 2007 "Wonderland" column in The Wall Street Journal, Talking Ourselves Into Defeat , examined the pall of self-loathing that has settled over the American mind in the past decade. A self-loathing that has reached, for now, its apotheosis in those "Americans" that love the idea of an Islamic mosque at Ground Zero. For the most part, his estimate of the roots of this malaise is accurate, but one insight strikes me as wide of the mark:

"One reason the negative mood in politics is so disconcerting is that the opposition's alternative vision is nonexistent. On joining the opposition recently, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced, "I can't tell you what the path to success is.'"

Maybe at the time it was not self-evident, but with the rise of the most anti-American American president in history all that has changed. It is now self-evident to me, and tens of millions of other Americans, what the "path to success" is in the minds of those who have embraced and live "the opposition's alternative vision." It is not a "nonexistent" vision, but one that is very much alive, kicking and in residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. For millions of other still gulled Americans it is a vision one that is very much a secret.

It is "the vision that dare not speak its name."

It is no secret that classic liberalism, in the mold of FDR, JFK,and LBJ that reached its apotheosis in Hubert Humphrey, has long been consigned to the bone-yard. What has taken its place hates to be tarred with the brush of liberalism because, frankly, it isn't. It prefers to be called "progressivism" even as "a sociopathic political and social recidivism" more accurately describes it.

What now stands in the place one occupied by classical liberalism is a kind of perverted one-world idealism in which "the world as it is" is constantly measured against "the world as it should be." Classic liberalism at least had the argument that it was being done for the greater good. The new perverted progressive variant is one in which policy and plans are made because it makes the initiators yearn to "feel good" in the manner that compulsive masturbators obsess over fantasies implanted before puberty. Those that make and support these measures hold themselves in high regard, seeing each other as, in the French phrase popular when many of them were young, "citoyens du monde" -- citizens of the world.

Typically these are people who have "gone beyond" nation states in their own minds and, if they can afford it (and many can), in their personal lives as well. These are people with access to enough money to afford private jets, or enough money to pay the premium prices of hybrid car. They do not dwell in the same nation as their fellow, less-fortunate citizens. Instead they can afford to spend their time spreading a gospel whose high costs and marginal benefits are always carefully hidden from the middle middle class and those below. But this is never seen by those spreading the gospel as a kind of noblesse oblige, only as something that is "good for them."

Writ large we see this in grandiose projects like the Gates Foundation's plan to "Save Africa." Among the citoyens du monde, "Saving Africa" a noble goal of distinguished lineage. It's been around forever and promises to continue in it's need of saving for the millenium. Few can gainsay the deeply humanitarian impulse behind it, only the likely outcome of many more criminal Africans made millionaires that can leave that continent behind thanks to the Gates Foundation.

On the smaller scale, we see hundreds of efforts to spread "correct thinking and correct behavior and correct belief" in the endless bullying of small organizations by larger "clear headed" organizations such as the ACLU. It is all, their way or the lawsuit highway, which the little people can seldom afford; a kind of fiscal extortion racket. The donations come in the front door and the Creches go out the back. All done with a nudge and a wink to "the protection of liberty and diversity" at the same time that diversity of the "bad" kind is reduced. Like latter day Leona Helmsleys these visionaries are always at pains to "thank the little people" for letting them have it their way.

These erstwhile American citizens do not think of themselves as actual Americans (although they play them easily and glibly on TV), but as a new and better breed that only retain their "American" status for the present benefits. Instead they prefer to think of themselves as inhabiting a rarer, more personally fragrant realm of ideals that the rest of us do not see and cannot aspire to.

This new and more wonderful world is the Holy Realm of The Church of the Planet whose crusade goes forward under the sign of The Gleaming Escutcheon United Nations; not as grotesque assemblage of thugs and thieves that it is, but as it should -- in the perfect world to come -- be. Indeed,nothing in this realm is ever seen as it is, but only as it should be.

There are no armies in this realm, only legions of NGOs without borders. There are no Popes or Saints, only tje Gates'. the Obamas, the Clintons, the Gores, and those who can jet into the annual green cardinals convocation at Davos. The sweet. The elite. These are the non-elected, self-appointed and peer-selected Government of the Happy World who swap honors and awards as freely between themselves as participants in a Sexual Freedom League Fornication Festival.

In their own strangely perverse way the inhabitants of this realm, like those on the extreme lower end of the scale in imploding 3rd world countries, are still dependent on nation states, particularly the United States, for charity and scarce resources. This need accounts for much of the funding of the United Nations, an organization whose thirst for the perfect world in the very near future (We promise) is exceeded only by its thirst for American money in the here and now. Dreams do not require food and protection, only the dreamers dreaming from their unshakable sleep.

A shorthand term for these global creatures among us is "cosmopolitanism," and it is a concept that fits them like a bespoke suit. After all, what is not to admire about a person who is "cosmopolitan?" Such a person is, after all, "So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest." Who among us would not aspire to such a sobriquet attached to our view of ourselves? The very concept simply reeks of a special status denied to those who are, well, the little people.

Cosmopolitan Americans tend to clump into readily identifiable groups: our media, our intellectuals, our academics, our stars of stage, screen, television, books, and magazines, our newly and fabulously rich captains of hi-tech industries, and most of all our politicians of all stripes. True not everyone in these groups conducts themselves in a "citizen of the world before a citizen of the nation manner." Many still do not, but the preponderance of the members of these groups do. The political affiliations of these groups skew heavily leftwards but not exclusively so. With the recent realignment of power toward the Democrats, the ascent of the faux-American president, and the conquest of the Democrats by their more "cosmopolitan" elements, the tendency of this group to draw more into its orbit increases, since cosmopolitans are, at bottom, always about the main chance before the hard choice.

The hard choice now is whether or not American hegemony will prevail into the century, or whether that power will be ceded to those rising regimes and forces whose roots and plans for the future are, if anything, not at all as benign of America; whose systems of government are more militant than they are democratic.

The whiff of American weakness always emboldens the unspeakable visionaries.

One of the things that "the vision that dare not speak its name" will neither speak nor confront is the present existence and inexorable rise of systems of government that do not exactly wish to deliver the higher realms of personal, sexual, and wantless liberty the One Worlders envision. Free societies are not the default state of how humanity organizes itself. Free societies are rare and always in danger of being overwhelmed by the more evil angels of our nature. That is the historic and present reality of our world. Reality, however, seldom intrudes on our dreams of a perfect word. When it does we call them nightmares. And what we learn from history is that these nightmares are recurrent.

But for those of "the vision that dare not speak its name" it is precisely the American hegemony, and no other, that must be removed to make way for the glorious one-world where it is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And that world, in their shared visionary imagination, will be made of a green, caring, carefully stewarded world where the we all get to "do our thing" in perfect freedom and without any interference from dictators, power blocs, theocratic states, weapons of mass destruction, crime, guns, and oppression of any living thing on the planet, including animals.

Like the world after the Rapture, the vision of the One-Worlder is Gaia triumphant for the many and a shining realm of gracious living for the elite few. It is a green Hobbit realm with iPods for all and no Saurons to be found anywhere. A technotronic Middle Earth.

I recognize this unspeakable vision well. It has many of the slapdash Marcusian components of the dreams of my youth during the days of the Free Speech Movement, Earth Shoes and Earth Day, the Vietnam Day committee, Woodstock, the Human Be-in, and the Acid Tests at Ken Kesey's place in La Honda and that old hotel in San Francisco.

Now that my "not-so-great" generation has its hands on the wheels of commerce and power in the United States, it is time that this vision that dare not speak its name, compiled from those rotted roots, seeks to act out the dreams of its youth as the policies of a generation entering its dotage. For a generation that so fervently believes in evolution, it is surprising that its youthful political goals have, in the intervening decades, evolved so little.

The first order of business now, as it was then, is to "Smash the State" by expanding the State's control over those that are not among the One Worlders. Of course, the real goal was never to "Smash THE State" as a ruling concept, but only to Smash the American State and replace it with something more soothingly socialist in which "all animals were equal but some more equal than others;" a state in which one party, controlling the culture and the media and the tax system, would rule out of benevolent concern for all over the one, Earth First uber alles. With free health care thrown just to make sure you could live longer in a perfect world, until the world had had enough of you.

For these people, "the path to success" currently passes through Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and then winds directly into "failure." Our American quislings are in love with the idea of "American failure" because, in many ways, it validates their entire lives and empowers their politics. At the core of "the vision that dare not speak its name" is a perverted desire to see their country lose, to see it humbled on the world stage, and to give over the present benign American hegemony to other coarser and more draconian states. And why wouldn't they since their primary life allegiance is One World and not one country.

Should their abiding vision for failure in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran become a reality and the region descends into a genocidal nightmare, as it will, that's fine with them. That blood will wash more quickly off their hands than the blood of the thousands of Americans killed on 9/11 through the ineptitude of a foreign policy that, over decades, enabled the attacks. Attacks that, as we see now, did not raise any real alarms among the cosmopolitans that their One World dreams might face real world dangers, but merely troubled their sleep for a brief moment.

Should the ascent of Iran threaten the survival of Israel, the economy of the United States and the developed world, well, we and they deserve it. After all, we need to "get off" oil and why shouldn't we have a global depression teach us a lesson?

If an American city becomes a firestorm, well, that certainly isn't the "citoyens du monde's" fault. That was never a part of their vision. It will be, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever will be, the fault of Bush.

They will never have to deny a vision that they did not articulate; that they did not name.

Their vision cannot be named, but it can be worked for on a daily basis. And it is. Now more than ever. We currently still believe that votes can stop it. We shall see. But should votes not stop it or votes be rendered as dubious as those in the third world, it will go, as it always goes, to guns.

When discussing the character of Rolling Stone founder, the execrable Jann Wenner, someone once remarked to me, "For some people it will always be 1968." That's pretty much the case with the cosmopolitans of "The Not So Great Generation." Because they no longer live in America but in the Happy World, they deeply and fundamentally believe that their unnameable vision will prevail, and with the defeat of the nation on which their freedom and prosperity depends, all shall ascend finally into Happy World of Obamaland where the world will leave us alone to pursue our various socialist experiments if only we leave it alone.

This "vision" does not merely seek the defeat of America, but something much more essential to sustaining the rising tide of freedom across the globe. It seeks the defeat of the American ideal. And it seeks it while perversely claiming that it is here to "rescue" it by facilitating its defeat; an Orwellian apotheosis of stunning assertion, and one that will do more than anything else to advance the level of Global Warming to thermonuclear levels in one brief, shining afternoon than any other philosophy you can recall or imagine.

Global thermonuclear war is of little matter to those whose vision dare not speak its name. They believe, they deeply believe, that with enough talk and enough retreat, and enough appeasement, and enough money, and enough bribes that it will never come to that. Of course, it always does come to that, but this time, they assert, "will be different. We promise."

At bottom, believing that a butcher's bill will never come due, the destruction of the American ideal is really just fine with these "citoyens du monde". They yearn, from their perches in their perverse cosmopolitan realms, to see their nation defeated and humbled and lowered. They yearn for it because they long ago left that nation and ascended into those ethereal realms of their own private Fantasy Island.

After all once the United States is reduced in power and prestige to Switzerland, what could possibly happen in the world that could keep their Fantasy Island from becoming the Green Utopian Earth?

It will be Brave New World set up as a corridor to 1984. What could possibly go wrong?



Republished from August, 2010

Posted by Vanderleun at May 3, 2014 8:53 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Chilling.

Then again, we live in chilling times.

Posted by: rickl at August 15, 2010 11:53 PM

Sometimes you just depress the hell out me, Gerard. I suppose that's not a bad thing considering the topic. Mind if I rename this old poem "Psalm of the Cosmopolitan"?

God or money or treaties will save us all;
Enjoy such solace these various faiths afford.
And thus we play - as our crumbling temples fall,
And our necks at last at last come to the sword.

(Sorry for trespassing.)

Posted by: Cameron at August 16, 2010 1:01 AM

Vereteno, a friend, retired university professor, legal immigrant and naturalized citizen, is also recently fearful.

She was raised in Stalin’s Russia and is unable to trick her logical mind into ignoring patterns and parallels.

She once told me “We are on correct path comrades.”

I think, she was being ironic.

Posted by: MOTUS at August 16, 2010 6:11 AM

Excellent. Just excellent! A brief, accurate description of the way post-modernism has consumed an entire generation. Let’s hope the numb the dumb and the scum can still be beaten in the polls rather than on the killing fields. Vote while you can, kill if you must.

I wonder if there’s any way to make this required reading for incoming college freshman? They might understand it better than their parents who have long since sacrificed their left brains to the “if it feels good, do it” portion of the right orb. Although - to be clear – I’ve seen little in the younger generation to indicate they have the ability to grasp the magnitude of the evil that is about to overtake them. But they are young. So they have that going for them.

Posted by: Dewey From Detroit at August 16, 2010 6:52 AM

Cameron, you hit the nail square on the head.

Gerard, I usually get great delight in your writings but, this is our new reality in a nut shell or maybe a cannon shell.
Not that I was unaware of what is happening around us...this brings it into the harsh light of day.

I have to get my head back into something cheerful but not forget to fight hard for my vision of America.

Posted by: bobham at August 16, 2010 9:13 AM

If we are disarmed, all the dark dreams will surge forth, to become solid reality. Only the fear of open rebellion at this point in time causes the Feral One to not leave the shadows.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at August 16, 2010 9:35 AM

FDR was no Classical Liberal; Obama is his true heir. Even if it we were to accept that Classical Liberalism would inevitably pervert itself exactly in this way, as Moldbug insists, we should not confuse the wine with the vinegar. Joseph Schumpeter: As a supreme if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label.

FDR was the master, Obama is a lazy student, and it shows. We tend to make him more than he is because we do not wish to see ourselves as more wanting than we already do.

Garrett-
Outwitted were those who kept trying to make sense of the New Deal from the point of view of all that was implicit in the American scheme, charging it therefore with contradiction, fallacy, economic ignorance, and general incompetence to govern. But it never intended to make that kind of sense. Its meaning was revolutionary and it had no other. Opposite and violently hostile ideas were represented by the same words. This was the American people’s first experience with dialectic according to Marx and Lenin.


Posted by: james wilson at August 16, 2010 9:37 AM

Brilliant. Steynian, even.

Posted by: Paul at August 16, 2010 10:09 AM

"Steynian" is high praise indeed, although "I am not worthy."

Posted by: vanderleun at August 16, 2010 10:21 AM

The unnamable vision always leads to unspeakable crime.

Today's progressives unite (a) the "purity" of environmentalism with (b) cosmopolitanism. By accepting Gore-type environmentalism the progressives identify themselves as the morally pure, superior group, which entitles them to make decisions about the daily lives of all Americans. The pseudo-Marxism (really a form of fascism) of the progressives allies itself with cosmopolitanism, which encourages the progressives to meddle in the rest of the world, romantically involving themselves in the plight of whatever supposed victims are fashionable for the day.

Posted by: Gloria at August 16, 2010 11:03 AM

Great turn of phrase, Gloria. I'm promoting it to the keynote quote.

Thanks.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 16, 2010 12:04 PM

An absolutely brilliant essay, Gerard! As I've said: I wish on my best day I cd write as clearly and insightfully as you do on your worst!

But may I posit a pot-hole on the glorious road to cosmopolitanism?

What's gonna happen when the Muslims start burning down the "bath-houses" in San Francisco? A crisis is too valuable to waste!

Oh, and little Switzerland is one of the most heavily armed and mobilized countries on earth. A Switzerland of ~300 million is no pushover.

And they just banned new mosques there.

Posted by: JewishOdysseus at August 16, 2010 3:58 PM

Apropos to the discussion and highly recommended: Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell.

Posted by: Harry at August 16, 2010 5:27 PM

Speaking of Thomas Sowell, he is saying exactly the same thing as Gerard about the "citizens of the world" on Uncommon Knowledge:

http://tv.nationalreview.com/uncommonknowledge/post/?q=NDEzYWY2NjdiZDI0NzdhY2RhM2U4YmRmOGVmMDM2OGU=

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at August 16, 2010 7:51 PM

Gerrard: The term cosmopolitan, and the phrase: "rootless cosmopolitan" were very important in the history of the Soviet Union:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rootless_cosmopolitan

Who were the "rootless cosmopolitans"? They were Russian Jewish intellectuals accused by Stalin of being disloyal to he Soviet Union during the post-WWII era.

Everything considered, I am sure that the same thinking is now found in the White House.

Posted by: Fat Man at August 16, 2010 9:38 PM

I remember 20 years ago searching around for a group of liberty-focussed people whom I could at least have discussions with. Even in a large western city there weren't many options, and certainly no scope for having daily contact with intelligent people who have an appreciation for individual liberty.

That's all changed now. It seems that the internet has helped the left in a strategic sense (organising, spreading talking points etc), but the deeper understanding of the leftist enemy we are developing, via articles such as Gerard's, is storing up intellectual ammunition (logistics) that will blow them off the battlefield. Logistics beats strategy, as the old army saying goes.

Posted by: Brett_McS at August 17, 2010 2:49 AM

It would be easier to cite this to other people if you were spelling "citoyens" correctly.

Posted by: Rollory at August 18, 2010 5:55 AM

Right you are. Fixed. Nothing like copy and paste to replicate an error.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 18, 2010 11:07 AM

November is going to be so interesting.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 19, 2010 10:23 AM

November is going to be so interesting.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 19, 2010 10:23 AM

This struggle did not begin and will not end in November. That is just the start. These people are playing for keeps and do not suffer proletariat fools. Will you; write, speak, and teach what this country is about or will you whistle through the forest hoping it is not you they come for?

Posted by: kehoe at August 19, 2010 4:57 PM

"those rising regimes and forces whose roots and plans for the future"

EUropeans, Arabs, Chinese, Africans, et.al. will get the leaders they dream about, wish for, work for, and deserve.

Given all the hate coming down from the top, how many Americans at the bottom will convert to Islam to see (or hope to see) those at the top get what they deserve. Or to put it in the particular: given the hatred SF homosexuals have for America, how many Americans will convert to Islam, if it means the extermination of the SF homosexuals? Obama should be careful of what he wishes for; for the new American Moslems will not be restrained by cries of "racism" when they come for their enemies.

Posted by: tehag at August 20, 2010 5:24 AM

Let me start by thanking you for writing both an interesting and thought-provoking essay. I recommend that everyone reads it at least twice! I've always admired the willingness to tackle a subject head-on, no holds barred like you've accomplished here. It's a virtue other bloggers would be wise emulate.

I'm compelled however, to quarrel with one issue. More of a typo really, but a typo that may lead many readers to draw the wrong conclusions.

Words have meaning, and it's especially important for a great writer like yourself to protect those meanings vigilantly. I think you'd agree with me too, when I say degradation of the English language has played no minor role in our societal decline. Which is why I must call attention your misuse of "classic liberalism."

"Classical liberalism" is the political philosophy America's founding generations championed - free market economy, rule of law, constitutional government, freedom of religion, etc. In fact, "classical liberalism" represents the extreme opposite of everything espoused by FDR, JFK, LBJ, and the other progressives.

In an otherwise brilliantly written essay, you've unfortunately defined America's worst tyrants as the rightful heirs of our founding vision. I think you can understand the dire implications of perpetuating such a falsehood, wouldn't you agree? Or what comes next? Thomas Jefferson the Marxist?

I'd like to thank you again for writing this superb essay, and humbly ask that you reconsider the use of "classical liberalism."

Thanks!

P.S. - Yesterday I happened to post a copy of Ralph Raico's "What Is Classical Liberalism?," which originally appeared in "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia." Blog link above, article still on front page.

Posted by: theCL at August 20, 2010 12:55 PM

An apt and excellent photograph of the world, recreated in the sea near Dubai.

Dubai - the perfect symbol of the progressive push against reality.
Dubai - Ghost town that rises out of the desert, built on the backs of non-citoyens who outnumber the fabulous 100 to 1.
Dubai - gilt with a veneer of crumbling wealth and tacky bling.
Dubai - whose potable water has become poisonous sludge.
Dubai - which built its tower to the heavens in order to once more unite the world is now coming undone.
That is what happens when the Luddite progressives meet the Luddite Muslims and make unholy alliance.
Let the profits of Ba'al dance round the byre and pyre for their flaming Golden Calf. We already read the outcome of this story, long, long ago.

Posted by: Jewel at July 14, 2011 5:42 PM

If some Western city does indeed become a fireball, it will indeed be at least partially the fault of Shrub. Why? Because the correct response to 9/11 would have been, at an absolute minimum, the sudden conversion to a pile of rubble of the palace of the King of Mordor. Not, repeat not, attacking a country that had nothing to do with the events of 9/11.

It could be argued, and many have, that the really correct response to 9/11 would have been the conversion of the Kaaba to a rapidly expanding cloud of highly ionised plasma. But neither happened, because either would have cost Shrub's family and friends money.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at July 14, 2011 11:37 PM

Iraq tried to assassinate Bush the Elder long before 9/11. As for not having anything to do with 9/11, so what? Bush's mistake was in saying we aren't at war with Islam when Islam has made it clear for many years now, that it is at war with us. His mistake was declaring a war on 'terror' which is but a war tactic. If it weren't for political correct sensitivities and legal hamstringing, perhaps we could actually war.

Posted by: Jewel at July 15, 2011 2:22 AM

Jewel - Precisely. And when fighting a war, given the ability (which the US certainly has and even the UK has to some extent) which is the better target - the centre and heart of the enemy's strength, or some peripheral region only loosely associated with it? (Iraq and Turkey were probably the world's most secular Islamic states, once.)

Unless the US government decides to put national security in front of financial gain for megacorps, then sooner or later Wretchard's Three Conjectures will come into play. If I currently lived in a major city, I'd be selling up and moving now. I don't want to be one of the casualties in the slow-motion Armageddon that is before us.

I can only hope that Wall Street or the City of London gets it first.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at July 15, 2011 10:25 AM

The tipping point will be something no one saw coming, Fletch, even the ones who saw it coming all along will not be able to anticipate the slim and singular straw that finally breaks the camel's back, but break it will and it will be sudden.

Posted by: Jewel at July 15, 2011 8:34 PM