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Changing the Minds of Judges Us Against the Gangs

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Lee Harris: We Want More

by Christopher Chantrill
March 06, 2004 at 7:00 pm


WHAT ARE WE to do with the brilliant ideas of TechCentralStation contributing editor Lee Harris?  For instance there is the penetrating insight that politics is reducible not to John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance, or Locke’s right-thinking self-interest, or the Hobbesian war of all against all, but simply to the teenage boys’ gang.  When ruthless men of power determine to mount a head of rebellion against a power whose title of legitimacy is too indirect for long continuance, whom do they turn to?  They turn to young men between the age of 15 and 25, who are already wired for killing, rapine and looting.

It is the stunning achievement of the west to have developed the teenage gang into the cooperative team.  It is the stunning distinction of Lee Harris to have articulated this truth.

Then Harris introduces the notion of the fantasy ideology: 

It is a common human weakness to wish to make more of our contribution to the world than the world is prepared to acknowledge, and it is our fantasy world that allows us to fill the gap.  But normally, for most of us at least, this fantasy world stays relatively hidden... Yet clearly there are individuals for whom this control is, at best, intermittent.

When the fantasist is surrounded by a group that shares his fantasy, then you have the potential for a fantasy ideology.  And when the fantasist is a genius like Mussolini he might realize that the way to get real traction on the fantasy is to involve a whole nation in a theatrical enactment of the fantasy, with the fantasist as the actor-manager and the rest of the world as props. 

Fortunately, during the century and a half in which the Jacobins engulfed France in their fantasy of a return to the Roman Republic, the Fascists engulfed Italy in a fantasy of the Roman Empire, and the Nazis engulfed Germany in a fantasy of German folkishness, the cool Anglosphere succeeded in sublimating the teenage gang into the team and applying the team concept into exploding the fantasies of the hot blooded Europeans.

But why stop with the boys’ gang?  What about that other basic social unit, the teenage girls’ clique?  In many ways, the boys’ gang is harmless and mild compared to the viciousness and the oppression exacted by the girls’ in-group at high school.  Now that women are coming to dominate the lower levels of politics, from the school board to the state legislature, we can expect a rapid metastasizing of girlish cliques with as yet unimaginable consequences.

Harris properly celebrates the western success in mitigating the rule of ruthless men by melting the murdering gang into the productive team.  But what about the rule of ruthless prom queens?  The teenage girls’ clique is rather different in structure and more sinister than the boys’ gang.  For the gang, bigger is better, because a big gang can wreak more mayhem.  But for the girls’ clique, on the other hand, smaller is better.  After all  “we,” the in-group, are beautiful princesses of the blood, prettier, richer, and more sought after than the out-group of peasants with rough skin and coarse features.  Is there any way in which the girls’ clique could be transcended, to sublimate its cruel hierarchy into good works?

What about combining the teenage boys’ gang in a two-dimensional matrix with the fantasy ideology?  Then we could plot the various combinations of boys’ gang with millenarian sect or left-wing splinter group.  Where might the Ruckus Society rate in gangishness, and how well would it score in fantasy?

These are important research topics begging for attention.  Were Lee Harris a fully belted professor of thinkology attended by a court of eager post-doc disciples, we could feel confident that fresh evolutions of the Harris Doctrine would soon be published to sycophantic reviews in the establishment media.  But since he is the lone sage of Stone Mountain, Georgia, disqualified from noble professorial rank by his years in trade, not to mention his shameful race and gender, we wait and fret, wondering how close he is to resolution or even consideration of these important matters. 

Who does not fear the day when the shop steward from the Scholar’s Guild disciplinary committee turns up in Stone Mountain, demanding as in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “rigorously defined areas of doubt and uncertainty” and putting a stop to Harris’s flagrant disregard of hallowed disciplinary demarcations honored by scholars ever since the first German university became a gleam in the eye of its founding German prince?

Perhaps the best course of action is simply to buy his book, Civilization and Its Enemies, and buy it often.  Fantastic success (although no more than he deserves) may go to his head and encourage him to redouble his vigor, to produce what his every reader of Lee Harris demands: More.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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