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by Christopher Chantrill
May 17, 2016 at 12:00 am
I TELL YOU what the problem is. The world has changed. All the old verities are going out of business, marked down for quick sale. And everyone is stumbling around, gazing at the price tags, and their navels, in shock.
It is like all the traditional mom-and-pop shops in Zola’s novel The Paradise about the French inventing the department store, now a TV series on Netflix. The new department store is stealing their customers, literally seducing the ladies with unimaginable piles of gorgeous silk and knick-knacks at insane prices. And the old store-owners are stumbling around in a daze, unwilling, unable the grasp the utter ruin of their world.
Just like all the conservative pundits.
Here’s Jay Cost pushing a rerun of 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt blew up the Republican Party. Because today’s GOP is corrupt and needs a spring-cleaning. Not really, Jay. The GOP establishment is really a bunch of decent guys. But the GOP voters don’t want decent. They want someone to start smashing the china.
Here’s Ilya Somin talking about the voters’ political ignorance, where “Donald Trump has raised exploitation of ignorance to new heights.” Back to Zola and the bright shiny department store. What’s a girl going to do when the politicians are waving bright shiny free stuff in front of her? Say, no thanks, I never buy door-busters? (What never? No never. What never? Well, hardly ever.)
But the piece I like is Time’s assistant managing editor and economics correspondent Rana Foroohar. She’s written a whole book on Makers and Takers — summarized in a Time cover story — in which she faithfully polishes all the liberal silver, from the beneficial regulation of the New Deal era to the “financialization” that got started in the 1980s. What’s needed is more wise expert-led policy, from “changing financial-oriented thinking” to correcting believers in the “gospel of efficient markets,” and “rethinking retirement, crafting smarter housing policy.” And so on. There must be a role for chin-stroking assistant managing editors in the world of the future. I blogged on it last week.
I’m sorry fellahs. I think the time for wise political advice, or sneers at the stupid voters, or ten point plans is past.
Then I realized that the guy that really had it right all along was me. Just a year ago I wrote a blog that interpreted the Obama age as a mini-revolution that is now in its mini-reign of terror stage with Obamites fighting a “campaign of terror and virtue, ruthlessly purging the world of injustice and sin and vice” and campus rapists and bathroom binaries.
But after the reign of terror and virtue comes Thermidorean reaction, according to Crane Brinton in Anatomy of Revolution. Here is how I put it in my blog:
Thermidor Humans cannot live forever in a fervor of holy [SJW] rage; eventually the tension breaks and they fall back into a more normal life. But the solution typically involves a dictator, nationalism, and foreign conquest.
So the reign of terror ends with a Napoleon, the man on a white horse. The original Thermidor ended up with a stupid march on Moscow and the end of France as the big dog in Europe. But at least Napoleon, who led France to glorious ruin and defeat, got an amazing tomb at the Invalides in Paris.
I ended my blog with some waffle about the possibility of the “next Republican president and Congress” doing some “serious reform.”
What a fool I was, what a dominated fool, not to see what would come next. The next stage after Obama and his social-justice-warrior reign of terror is Thermidor and Trump as dictator. The French did it after Robespierre; The Chicoms did it after Mao’s Red Guards; Now it’s our turn.
But I wish we could skip the “foreign conquest” bit. How about we just send a [metaphorical] whiff of grape across Harvard Yard and launch a trillion dollar RICO suit against every college president in the land for conspiring against the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the First Amendment, and the presumption of innocence? Not to mention the American Way of Life?
I have been as dumb as anyone about the 2016 election, and feel the sense of loss that good old Reagan Republicanism is as dead as can be, killed by Obama’s fundamental transformation. The old conservatism was based on the idea of reforming the New Deal in a contest with Kennedy-Johnson liberals.
Obama’s lot have destroyed the old political culture because their Alinsky rules mean not compromise but politics à outrance. That is French for get in their faces. To the Obamites every activist agenda should be pressed to the limit, because that is what they do.
Having destroyed the old politics they may get a nasty shock as Dem. intelligence starts to identify the new formations of the new Trump-era politics that have moved up to plug the hole in the line.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America