What Is To Be Done?

A. No Closure

America is facing a serious national crisis, and it is not helpful to pretend otherwise.

In the wake of the contentious 2020 Presidential election, we should not expect that there will be any kind of national unity or that we should or can go about our business as if nothing fundamental has really changed. America is a deeply divided nation, and the sooner we recognize that and deal with it the better off we shall be.

There can be no closure. What I find most appalling is being told not to use one’s own eyes, ears, reasoning ability etc. but to ignore all contradictions, and basic methodical consistency etc. As a matter of “fact” I find it astonishing that anyone can still say there is no evidence of election fraud. But this “truth” has to be put alongside all the other “truths” that the mainstream media has dictated over the last 4 years and even prior to the 2016 election. “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century” (Tom Friedman, “Our One-Party Democracy”).

The election was fraudulent, and no matter how much the Democrats and their allies spin it, the evidence continues to accumulate. The only way to satisfy the doubters would be to have a full and serious audit of the election results. The “winners,” namely the Democrats and Joe Biden would never agree to this. This is a tragedy since such a gesture would have gone a long way to achieving unity and healing wounds—either confirming the Biden “win” or elevating Biden to the status of cultural hero—perhaps deserving having his face put on Mount Rushmore. When winning becomes the “only” thing we have a culture in crisis.

B. The Futility Of Politics As Usual

There is a larger misperception about what happened. The 2020 election was not a case of Biden “defeating” Trump, or Democrats “defeating” Republicans. The expressions “Democrat” and “Republican” may appear on the ballot, but the names of the real “winners” were written in invisible ink. As I survey it, I am reminded that it’s not who votes or how many voted but who does the counting and how the votes are counted. Right now this process is controlled by an “establishment” (identified long ago by C. W. Mills, Thomas Dye, and most recently by Angelo Codevilla) that encompasses both major political parties—a bipartisan political elite. Under the false guise of social activism, a consortium of 21st century globalist robber-barons seeks to monopolize both domestic and international economies. The seemingly innocuous concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has morphed from a mildly leftist concern for equality into the idea that Social Media giants (a Technocracy—akin to Wittfogel’s identification of “oriental despotism”) and their allies have the duty to control the political process.

The Republican part of the establishment (RINOS – e.g., Peggy Noonan in the WSJ, Karl Rove, etc.), with a few notable exceptions, will continued to be run by lackeys who are corrupt careerists lacking in courage or integrity.

The Democratic Party has its own version consisting of a consortium of billionaires (who live in gated communities and whose children are assured entrance into the Ivies) aided and abetted by the spokespersons (who are also allowed to live in the gated communities) of the grievance universe (e.g., the civil rights industry). The latter will mobilize the aggrieved (the poor, the angry, and hyper-critical intellectuals about whom Benda and Schumpeter warned us long ago, the dysfunctional, etc. who live in the ghettos) to vote and to serve as shock troops whose job it is to intimidate (riot on cue) all those individuals and groups who oppose the establishment. Part of the national tragedy is that the “aggrieved” do not UNDERSTAND that THEY ARE BEING MANIPULATED.

An example of this commonality of interests among the bipartisan elite is the support for open borders by all members (both sides) of the establishment.

It strikes many as counter-intuitive that Billionaire globalists are allied with the aggrieved who advocate democratic socialism. Part of the reason for this is that many are not familiar with “globalism.” The main tenet of globalism is that nation-states (e.g., the U.S., or “Make America Great Again”) are passé. Global commerce requires and leads to the breaking down of borders and institutions associated with them. “Super-states” (the World Bank, IMF, the EU, China) or would-be super-states (U.S. Big-Tech, the UN or even the Vatican) vie to fill the vacuum.

What Big-Tech globalists and the aggrieved have in common is the destruction of the U.S. as a nation-state. That means removing Donald Trump and making sure he cannot run again, undermining the Constitution by packing the Court, destroying every vestige of traditional American identity (e.g. tear-down statues). Who are the people left out, the people who are to be marginalized or intimidated? They are the working class, small business, and anyone who takes traditional America seriously—in short, the middle class.

This model, in which the few at the top control and induce the bottom to undermine the responsible middle is an old one. It can be found in the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire overcoming the Roman Republic, immortalized in Mark Anthony’s reading of Julius Caesar’s will (which he somehow managed to have on hand). This state of affairs was later noted by Machiavelli. It is stated full blown by Henri de Saint.-Simon who envisaged a society guided by a hierarchical merit-based organization of managers and scientists (e.g., Wall Street, Big Tech, deep state, etc.).

It is a utopian scheme (the opiate of the aggrieved) that renders crony capitalism and crony socialism indistinguishable. In both cases, government is the servant/junior partner of Big Business. The only thing that changes is which particular vested economic interest groups get the government contracts and largesse and what politicians get in on the action. This is precisely why serious Marxists have always despised socialism. The object of winning is not to ameliorate difficulties but merely to gain riches and the power to protect and extend the riches. Donald Trump was the lone outsider who threatened to overturn all the apple-carts.

As a consequence of the above, political reform alone is irrelevant and ineffective. The political world is a carousel where the riders and the tunes may change, but progress is an illusion. The dereliction of duty on the part of the Supreme Court (a Court that arrogates to itself the definition of “life,” but cannot investigate a national election in which its own orders were ignored) was the last straw.

C. Prognosis

The following seems most likely to me. I pray I am wrong.

  1. Fascism triumphant. China’s combination of party/ market/ state is the new future.
  2. The future of the US is fabricated race wars and disintegration.
  3. China now replaces the US as the world’s hegemon—it, and radical Islamists, are in the best position to take advantage of Western disintegration.
  4. Western Europe becomes Muslim—and Erdogan is proven right. Central Europe will move Eastward.
  5. China and its allies and vassals versus Islamism is the geopolitics of the future. (farewell to the liberties that we in the West once treasured and took for granted.) Islamism at least will be localized by China, but that will not help Western Europeans preserve their freedom—they will be Muslim and subject to China’s persecution.
  6. The only good thing is that the world will not turn out the way the progressives think—Portland is the present future of the progressive world in embryo i.e. solar energy, vegan burgers, children choosing their sex organs, toppled statues and burning and looting; to be followed by seizure of white property—whites who are leaders of this anti-white movement eventually lose their property and lives too.
  7. Rise of white fascism (the academics/ journalists etc. successfully create, by way of reaction, what they misperceive as present reality)—all out race war in the US is an opportunity for new geopolitical powers.
  8. US becomes an extension of Latin America which will be a Chinese vassal.
  9. Another scenario is the break-up of US and the race war scenario limited to progressive urban centers, but the problem of depleted US power remains.
    The consequences of the big steal are terrifying. But the interests behind it are vast. If this sounds crazy—just ask: what would Queen Victoria have said in 1880 if told that by 1945 Britain would be a 2nd or 3rd rate power?

D. Centrality Of Culture

The different views of America held by the handlers and supporters of Biden and the supporters of President Trump are incommensurable. Nothing is going to change without a fresh reflection on our culture.

What is the inherited culture of the U.S.? As expressed in Locke and summarized by Huntington, it is the English language, the English conceptions of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals. Its religious commitment reflects the dissenting Protestant values of individualism and the work ethic. The “Creator” who endowed us with our rights clearly understood that “He” was speaking to Lockean “Protestants.”

Three things stand out: religious liberty, economic liberty, and individual liberty. As expressed recently by Oakeshott, the U.S. is a civil association, that is, there is no overall collective-common-good; there is only the good as understood by individuals who resolve their conflicts within the procedural norm of a non-collective common good of the rule of law.

The foregoing is an historical entity and achievement. It is not based on a set of abstractions or “theory;” it does not recognize an official state religion – the dissenting Protestants, given their experience, made sure of that by insisting upon the separation of “church” and “state.” This is not an endorsement of relativism but an affirmation of substantive moral pluralism held together by a common commitment to the procedural norm of toleration. If you choose to be different you do not have to justify yourself or prove that what you are doing is “good.”

In short, you are innocent until proven guilty. If it is alleged that what you are doing harms another, then the onus is on others to (a) show the harm and (b) establish that the remedy is not worse. None of us is required to endorse or to approve of what you do. You are entitled to “toleration” not “approval.” Moreover, others are free to criticize what you do and try to persuade you to do otherwise—but others are not free to coerce you (J.S. Mill). This is a non-utopian view espoused by those who understood that they lived in the world “after the Fall.”

Despite all the criticism leveled against this conception that a society can function with a commitment to procedural norms, this cultural entity has produced to date the most powerful, most productive, and freest culture the world has ever seen, and it has done so for 400 years.

Where are the fault lines in this culture? There are two: democracy and the neglect of public life.

From antiquity to the present, every profound thinker understood the dangers of majority rule. That is precisely why the Founders created a “Republic” that protected the rights of individuals through a Constitution. In order to “keep” the Republic, we have relied on educational institutions to convey this culture, many being run by religious foundations. What has undermined this reliance is a combination of teachers’ unions and a professional class of educators. I shall have more to say about this later, but at present the educational system from top to bottom is now run by second rate ideological left-leaning women and minorities who delude themselves into thinking they have some sort of expertise when all they have is a permission slip from the “establishment.”

Modern freedom (Constant) allows us to pursue our private dreams and agendas, to focus on minding our own business. It also discourages us from minding the public business. We have allowed public life to be articulated and controlled by “professional” politicians and celebrity journalists.

The greatest threat to the U.S comes from the latter reigning experts, the new theorists of utopia. Utopian views, understood as creating a heaven on earth, are perennial (e.g., the Tower of Babel). Eric Voegelin saw modernity as a reflection of “gnosticism,” the perennial Christian heresy of believing that paradise can be achieved on earth. To use Voegelin’s expression, it is the “immanentization of the eschaton.” Historically, it is found not only in the medieval period, but in the later movements of humanism, the Enlightenment, progressivism, liberalism, positivism, and Marxism. It seeks to reverse Augustine’s de-divinization of the state by creating a civil theology, in which the transcendent is repeatedly lost sight of in history. Voegelin maintained that gnosticism is internally incoherent both because it represses the truth of the soul and its ineffectiveness in practice leads to an omnipotent state in which gnostics cannibalize themselves. He instanced Puritanism as a case study. At the same time, he saw America and Britain as a bulwark against gnosticism precisely because they had maintained the Mediterranean inheritance (Greek philosophy, Judaism, and Christianity). It is the explicit combination of philosophy and religion, not philosophy alone, that may be our salvation.

Contemporary utopianism is rooted in the Enlightenment Project. The EP rightly saw the great success of modern science in creating a technology for making the physical world our servant and not our master. However, the EP, as expressed primarily in the writings of the 18th-century French philosophes, went a step further in believing that there could be a social science, based on the “scientific method,” that would lead to a social technology for solving all of our social problems. The dream of such a social technology in which public policy is logically deduced from social theory is the common property of liberals, socialists, and Marxists.

As many have argued (Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, Hayek, Oakeshott, Gray, Capaldi, etc.), the very idea of a social science is incoherent. Unfortunately, false hope has a larger market than sober reflection.

The present home of this false utopia is the contemporary university. It originated within the so-called social science departments but has subsequently seduced the humanities, the arts, business schools, professional schools, and even the physical sciences. Higher education has given way to non-stop indoctrination. Critical research, free speech and academic freedom are its latest victims. In this new Orwellian universe, “critical theory” now denominates what cannot be questioned/criticized. The contemporary university, enthroned by government subvention and politicized accreditation agencies, is now the commanding heights of our entire culture. It trains and licenses “political scientists,” lawyers, many clergy, journalists, K-12 teachers, in short, just about everybody. Elections no longer identify the current responsible leadership. Rather, elections now ratify what the experts have already decided and identify those whose education has been deficient and who therefore need to confess their sins and attend a reeducation camp as penance.

Does 2020 mark the death of American culture? Is there some way to claw back?

E. What Is To Be Done?

80 million people voted for President Trump. Given additional family members who are not of voting age or did not vote, we are probably talking about more than 100 million people. How significant is that number? By comparison, the entire population of the UK is 66 million; and the entire population of France is 67 million. What can 100 million people do?

  1. Rather than taking down the new behemoth (the vast education-media-entertainment-Big Pharma complex that controls all aspects of our lives because it has the best tools right now to build/enforce compliance), we just ignore it! We begin by establishing an independent context: social, economic, etc. not a separate political unit. We operate “within” the system but are not “of” the system. We return to Augustine’s notion of the two societies. We can fabricate symbols to show our membership (e.g., I like the flag at half-mast).
  2. Establish an independent currency (like bitcoin) impervious to governmental control. This currency can be exchanged for dollars but it retains its value and does not degenerate into toilet-paper.
  3. Establish a parallel non-politicized economy: our own social media, our own SEC, our own banks, etc. In short, we can duplicate a whole world that does business among its members who subscribe to the same principles – we do not censor or cancel! Imagine the appeal to entrepreneurs. We do not refuse to do business with THEM, but they do not define our business ethics.
  4. Establish a parallel education system – we already have one in home schooling and religious schools. We can create a whole new university system: use (buy) abandoned malls. There are plenty of retired faculty available (like myself who will literally work for free), semi-retired, about to retire, tired of participating in a charade, perhaps unemployed or employed otherwise. We need to break down the artificial barriers between practitioners and theoreticians, and we must surrender the conceit of expertise. The establishment will not recognize our degrees BUT that is irrelevant. Employers among our 100 million will. Our graduates will need to pass an exit exam showing they know the major opposing arguments of contentious public policy disputes. They will have met higher standards.
  5. Establish a parallel medical system (self-insured and nationally portable).
  6. Establish independent sports teams (whole new leagues and franchises), an alternative entertainment industry, etc. – all of it depoliticized.
  7. Establish an independent legal system that is based on mediation.
  8. Most especially, we shall need a huge legal fund to defend these proposals from the inevitable establishment lawsuits.
  9. The reader is invited to extend this list.
    IN EVERY CASE WE OFFER A BETTER PRODUCT AT A LOWER PRICE.
    Of course, I recognize that (1) all of these proposals need further elaboration; and (2) that all of these proposals are subject to corruption and hijacking. But we must start somewhere.

F. The New Politics

It is important not to continue to play the old game. Hence, there is no point in trying to reform the Republican Party. We need a new political party, one that invites former Republicans, as well as perceptive Independents and Democrats to join.

What will be its features?

  1. Political Reform Clubs everywhere – open to all –we might begin by meeting in private homes or on ZOOM and progressing from there.
  2. Within a national network of such clubs, new articulate and responsible leadership (candidates) will emerge on a continuous basis.
  3. We shall run candidates for EVERY office, Dog-catcher, school boards, district attorneys, judges, sheriffs, poll watchers, etc.—the aim is to take control of local communities and work from the bottom up.
  4. TERM LIMITS: we seek Public Service not careerists. Real achievement comes in the real world of careers, jobs, homes, schools, arts, etc. We reject the myth that politics is somehow some arcane practice. Buckley was correct when he suggested that we should prefer to be governed by the first 300 people in the “Boston Telephone Directory” than the faculty of Harvard.
  5. Litmus Test: you understand we were robbed. This is not a retreat, and it is not a surrender or form of escapism. Rather we are digging in our heels, and we are prepared to accept the burden, the responsibility, and the occasional joy of living in the Two Cities.
  6. Many are skeptical about the likely success of a third party. My reply is as follows:

    a. The Republican party was itself once a new party, replacing the “Whigs” perceived as no longer up to the task of dealing with the issue of slavery.
    b. Other third party movements failed because in the background was a shared set of assumptions—think Ross Perot as a better Republican rather than a new wave. There are no longer any shared assumptions.
    c. “Republicans” have rightly earned a bad name, and the party comes with baggage. Without the baggage, non-Republicans might be more receptive.
    d. Most important of all, we need fresh perspectives, new blood, an open invitation to change the political culture, buy-in from people who have abandoned active participation. We do not need a quick fix and then back to monkey-business as usual. “We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. . . Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task [that] challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. F. A. Hayek, The Intellectuals and Socialism.


Nicholas Capaldi is professor emeritus at Loyola University, New Orleans and is the author of two books on David Hume, The Enlightenment Project in Analytic Conversation, biography of John Stuart Mill, Liberty and Equality in Political Economy: From Locke versus Rosseau to the Present, and, most recently, The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law.


The featured image shows, “Hospice à St. Remy,” by Vincent van Gogh, painted in 1889.

Fascism And Its Historiography: Some Reflections

Through the kind courtesy of Damien Serieyx, Director of L’Artilleur-Toucan, we are so very delighted to publish this piece by Stanley G. Payne, which forms the “Introduction” to Paul Gottfried’s Fascisme. Histoire d’un concept, which is the forthcoming French translation of his Fascism: The Career of a Concept.


Well over half a century after the end of the fascist era in 1945, fascism remains in common use as a term, if not as a coherent concept. Never in history has a completely obliterated political phenomenon remained so alive in the imagination of its would-be adversaries. For more than seventy years, journalists and political commentators have searched assiduously to identify the emergence of some form of neofascism; eventually professional historians began to join in this perpetually disappointing endeavor.

The most recent major excitement was generated by the American presidential campaign of 2016 and 2020, when journalists bedeviled academic specialists, including this writer, with the repeated query “Is Donald Trump a fascist?” The results of this persistent search for a new fascism have been uniformly negative. When a new political phenomenon of some importance is identified, it turns out not to be genuinely fascist. If the novel entity does bear some sort of genuine resemblance to historical fascism, it turns out—partly for that reason—to be totally marginalized and doomed to insignificance. A splendid analysis of such exercises as applied to the case of contemporary Italy may be found in the very recent volume, Chi è fascista (2019), by Emilio Gentile, that country’s leading historian of fascism.

From its origins in 1919, fascism has been hard to understand. This is not because of its radicalism and violence, since at that time radical and violent new political phenomena were rampant in Europe, led by the nascent Soviet regime. Fascism, however, was like communism in its violence and authoritarianism, but otherwise unique in its complex combination of features, neither clearly of the left nor the right. It was the only genuinely new kind of political movement to emerge from the wreckage of World War I and had no clear predecessor. It persistently confused observers, but in its analogous German form briefly rose to world-historical prominence, unleashing the most destructive single conflict history had ever seen. Even after it concluded, as an historical phenomenon and as a concept fascism, broadly defined, continued to be difficult to grasp. For two decades after 1945, study of fascism was limited to national histories and monographic work on individual movements.

The true “fascism debate” did not develop until nearly a generation had passed, initiated by Ernst Nolte’s Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche, the first major comparative study, and Eugen Weber’s brief Varieties of Fascism, both of which appeared in 1964. Both agreed that there was such a thing as a “generic fascism” (of which Nolte provided a brief philosophical definition), but also that it was an extremely pluriform phenomenon, with quite different manifestations in various countries. Nolte, particularly, concluded that it had defined an entire era, the “era of fascism,” which ended in 1945; that it had been dependent on historical forces peculiar to that period; and that historic fascism was not likely to reappear in the future. Rather than constituting a recurrent form or concept, such as democracy or socialism, it was characteristic only of one specific historical era.

The fascism debate continued into the 1990s and seemed to wane briefly, until further important work appeared after the turn of the century. The debate concerned specific fascist movements and regimes, as well as the dilemma regarding an adequate “generic” concept. The understanding and interpretation of fascism matured in the process, with increasing agreement that fascism, or its constituent movements, did indeed have a specific ideology; that it occupied its own autonomous political space (not merely as the “agent” of some other force); that it was not necessarily “anti-modern” and that it constituted a revolutionary interclass movement.

In a new anthology that he published in 1998 (International Fascism: Theories, Causes and the New Consensus), Roger Griffin, one of the best of the younger scholars to emerge during this discussion, could confidently present a “new consensus,” though not everyone agreed. In the new century, the debate was renewed by others, with such notable books as Michael Mann’s Fascists (2004), the best work of political sociology in the field, Griffin’s highly original Modernism and Fascism (2007), and Constantin Iordachi’s anthology, Comparative Fascist Studies: New Perspectives (2010). With the assistance of Matthew Feldman, Griffin also published Fascism in five volumes (2004), a massive collection of key texts, studies and interpretations. The case of France has been treated anew in the outstanding set of studies edited by Michel Winock and Serge Berstein, Fascisme français: La controverse (2014).

Paul Gottfried’s new book is the best broadly interpretative study on fascism to have appeared in this century’s second decade. It undertakes a fresh analysis from the critical perspective of someone with a deep background in major aspects of modern political thought, concerned first with the perpetually vexing problem of the definition of the term. It then addresses the concept or understanding of fascism by followers of the fascist movements themselves. The use and abuse of the concept of fascism is the major focus of this study, especially the way that it has been understood and employed by self-proclaimed anti-fascists. In reality, Gottfried finds that amid contemporary political discourse and popular historical reference, most of historical fascism has disappeared from view, so that when fascism is mentioned, the term almost always refers to Nazism, always the most popular “other” in twenty-first-century discourse and entertainment. Islamic Jihadis work diligently to achieve equal status, but have not gained equivalent eminence.

In the broadest sense, of course, “fascist” is simply the most popular term of denunciation, its usage only indicating that whatever is referred to “displeases” the speaker, as Gottfried says. Hence the frequency with which journalists and commentators have applied the term to Donald Trump, though they sometimes admit they do not really know what it might actually mean. At the most common level of leftist discourse, “fascism” often merely implies “failing to keep up with social changes introduced long after the Second World War.” The trivialization is absurd, with the result that the term fascism has become what linguists call an “empty signifier” into which any kind of meaning may be injected.

Gottfried accepts the categorization of “generic fascism” only at a very high level of abstraction, but, more fundamentally, concludes that National Socialism was so different from Italian Fascism and other fascisms in its character, doctrine and historical significance that to include them all in the same taxonomic category involves a good deal of distortion. In this he agrees with Nolte, the pioneer of comparative fascist studies, and, for that matter, with German historians generally. For Nolte, National Socialism was unique both in its prime characteristics and in its radicalism and destructiveness, remaining “borderline” in its relation to generic fascism. German historians generally have tended to view it as relatively unique, and since the early achievements of Nolte have made only somewhat limited contributions to comparative fascist studies.

Nazism was of primary historical importance to Europe and the world, while fascism in general was quite secondary in significance, to the extent that, absent Nazism, there could hardly have been a “fascist era.” Gottfried prefers to employ the term to refer to most of the other movements (that rarely were regimes), though without insisting on any tight definition. He agrees with other scholars for whom fascism was strictly an epochal phenomenon, confined largely to interwar Europe, after which conditions became so drastically altered as to make impossible the development of any subsequent movement with the same characteristics, particularly in Europe. This is not to deny the occasional existence of tiny groups and cults, which have existed and will continue to exist in diverse venues.

Gottfried also concurs that fascism was a revolutionary movement but does not agree with those who judge that this quality carried it beyond the left-right spectrum. The dividing line between left and right nominally rests on the issues of egalitarianism and hierarchy, and the acceptance or rejection of the myth of progress. For Gottfried, the fascist position on these key issues reveals fascism to be a peculiar form of the right, the only sector of the right that was “revolutionary,” and here one might add revolutionary as distinct from merely being radical or extremist. There were numerous expressions of a radical right during the era of fascism, but they all sought either to preserve or revive traditional institutions, and always fell short of the revolutionary characteristics of fascism. This is a reasonably convincing conclusion, though it fails to resolve such issues altogether, since subsequently the left would strongly embrace its own forms of nationalism, elitism, hierarchy, particularity and identitarian politics. Thus, in the broader view, fascism might still be seen as a unique type of revolutionism, beyond both the left and right in their classic forms.

Yet, though fascism has been confused with the conservative or even radical right, its revolutionary thrust was so great that in its final conflagration it not merely destroyed itself but also brought nearly the entire nationalist hard-right wing of Western politics down with it. Gottfried observes accurately that since 1945 the political life of the Western world has tended almost exclusively toward the left. What passes even for “conservatism,” much less the hard right, is simply a conservative or moderate form of liberalism, even of part of social democracy, and all the efforts to revive the right as a significant and separate force have failed, political contests taking place almost exclusively between forms of moderate liberalism and a more “advanced” left.

Though he takes issue with aspects of the quasi-consensus developed in fascist studies, a significant part of Gottfried’s book is devoted to the “career” of the concept since 1945 and the role of the idea of fascism in a post-fascist world. The initial concept was defined for political purposes by the Comintern in 1923, the first non-Italian political organization to raise a categorical banner of “anti-fascism,” subsequently deliberately conflating all manner of other phenomena with fascism as a calculated propaganda device. Only after 1945 would this Comintern practice pass into more general usage in other political sectors. It should be remembered, however, that genuine anti-fascists were much more numerous than fascists, or, for that matter, even those more vaguely fascistophile, even in the heyday of the “fascist era.” It is a mistake to confuse the potency of Nazi Germany with any notion of an extremely widely diffused attraction to fascism that in fact never existed.

It was the political triumph of Hitler in Germany in 1933 that considerably increased the appeal of fascism in other countries, yet the initial enthusiasm did not last in the great majority of European polities; in general, the growth of anti-fascism was considerably greater. On the left it produced a sharp shift in Communist tactics toward the Popular Front, and elsewhere encouraged increasing imitation of the Comintern line that conflated a wide variety of political forces with fascism. In Spain, beginning in the final months of 1933, the left termed everything from the center-right and beyond simply “fascist.” By 1935, both Soviet policy and that of the Comintern had wrapped themselves in the banner of anti-fascism; this was fundamental to the Communist line from that point forward, except for the biennium of 1939 to 1941.

During those two brief years Stalin was an ally of Hitler and, in propaganda theory, exempted National Socialism from the category of fascism. From 1941 to the very end of the Soviet system, anti-fascism, almost as much as Marxism-Leninism, was the propagandistic bedrock of Sovietism. It was always useful in winning support for Sovietism among anti-fascist moderates that otherwise would probably never have been forthcoming. François Furet analyzed this phenomenon with great skill. Moreover, from 1941 to 1945 anti-fascism in the broad sense was the bedrock for the most powerful international military alliance in world history, yet anti-fascism either as a genuine force or as a propagandistic argument has received much less attention in historiography than has fascism. This is the more surprising given the prominence of anti-fascism in political doctrine and propaganda since 1945.

Gottfried’s thirty-page chapter “Fascism as the Unconquered Past” addresses the place of fascism in leftist theory and propaganda. He grounds this not in Comintern propaganda, which was always opportunist, but in the intellectually most serious leftist cluster of the 1930s, the Frankfurt School. These émigré German philosophers, psychologists and social thinkers transformed the concept of fascism from that of a political force or forces in contemporary Europe into a permanent “psychic condition” or temptation of all Western culture. This intellectual sleight of hand enormously magnified the potential or latent state of fascism even beyond the political conflation generated by Comintern propaganda. Ideologues of the Frankfurt School created their “Critical Theory” for the analysis of all Western history, culture, institutions, society and politics. It relied not on Marxist economics but on the adaptation of Freudian psychology, pushing the latter “in a visionary direction that Freud himself would have never recognized” by offering cultural analysis in the guise of social and political criticism. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer then adapted Marxism to their “negative dialectic” “by which existing social and cultural institutions were exposed to critical assault” on a continuing basis.

Fundamental to this critique was the danger of “fascism,” for which they invented a particular typology, creating an arbitrary “F scale” to measure something that they termed “The Authoritarian Personality” (TAP). This purported to assess the extent to which literally anyone might be prone to “fascism,” claiming to identify dangerous proclivities lurking almost everywhere. According to the Frankfurt theorists, these could be overcome only by doing away with advanced capitalism, so long as that could be achieved simultaneously with complete sexual liberation. Their theory contended that fascism was based not merely on capitalism but on sexual repression (a concept that would have astounded Mussolini). As quasi- or pseudo-Freudians, they generally ignored the basic Freudian injunction “that the repression and redirection of primal urges was necessary for human civilization.” It was characteristic of the Frankfurt theorists that the TAP critique was especially aimed not at fascist or post-fascist societies but “at an American society that was believed to be suffering from a democracy deficit.” Immediately after achieving the total destruction of European fascism, American society and culture were held to be generating their own “fascism.” Such notions have been broadly expressed and elaborated in the discourse and politics of the left throughout the Western world during the past half century, directed not merely against American society and culture, but also against those of democratic Western Europe.

Nowhere has radical anti-fascism held sway so fully as in Germany, briefly the homeland of the most radical fascism. The “hermeneutics of suspicion” created by critical theories of anti-fascism has de-legitimized invocation of German patriotism and has dominated cultural and political life in the Federal Republic of Germany, while in the German Democratic Republic anti-fascism came to enjoy an even more predominant place. After the public discrediting of Stalinism in 1956, anti-fascism tended increasingly to take the place of Marxism-Leninism in legitimating the regime’s ideology and practice.

Thus, the existence of fascism was not at all necessary in order to generate the most intense anti-fascism. It could be artificially but dramatically recreated as an ever-present danger that lurked perpetually. Rather than being directed against fascism, anti-fascism was a concept and a propaganda banner that in some ways became more useful and intense in its application the farther that any given society moved away from fascism, an ultimate symbol for the left long after the traditional social classes, classic Marxism or fascism itself had disappeared. In Europe a prime example may be found in Spain, where the left declared itself more “antifranquista” in 2016, after living memory of franquismo had virtually disappeared, than in 1980 or 1985, when franquismo had been a recent reality. Emilio Gentile has examined the same phenomena in Italy.

More broadly, the specious scientism of these theorists provided the background for what ultimately developed into the very broad leftist “pathologizing of dissent” in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Under this rubric, the first really dangerous neofascism was discovered in the United States in the 1950s. From that point, this standard hermeneutics of suspicion has gone on to find neofascists under every bed, even though every single case has turned out to be a false alarm. Stigmatization seems indispensable to political polemics, and no other form is so intrinsically appealing as “fascist.” No other adjective, not even “Stalinist,” has acquired such totally pejorative connotations, while the very vagueness of the term, together with its uniquely sinister phonetic qualities, stimulates protean usage.

Gottfried’s book is thus unique in the way that it addresses both sides of the fascist phenomenon—history and historical meaning on the one hand, and the long history of pejorative polemics on the other. No other book in the recent scholarly literature treats these problems so comprehensively. It elucidates both a major historical problem and a major feature of contemporary debate, and is the most useful book on fascism to have been published during the last decade.


The featured image shows, “The Hands of the Italian People,” by Giacomo Balla, painted in 1925.

Woke Moralism: #DisruptTexts And The Abrogation of Literature

Introduction

In the spring of 1966, before the violence of the Cultural Revolution washed over China, the CCP initiated a campaign against the “Four Olds.” This project aimed to eradicate Chinese culture in order to protect Chinese culture. “Sweep Away All Monsters And Demons,” enjoined the Party’s print organ. What followed was a violent “cancel culture.” As then, so now.

In 2018 the #DisruptTexts group was founded by Lorena German. Much like Black Lives Matters and AltRight, #DistruptTexts marshalled decades of critique into a single legal entity. Why the advocates of these edgy ideas are so intent on handing over their work to the Bar Association system is beyond me, but much as we speak of the AltRight and BLM, when I speak of #DisruptTexts I will be referring to the movement in general and not the fictional entity. So sue me.

This essay argues two points concerning the approach of #DisruptTexts. Insofar as this movement is principally a pedagogical effort, my first points concern the way we in the general public understand literature. The approach of #DisruptTexts is inappropriate because (1) American society is too unstable at present to dismantle narratives as we have too little to work with as is, and (2) their powerful observation of social dynamics, even the conscious inclusion of Critical Race Theory, is being taught to students who do not have the intellectual matrix to responsibly digest these ideas. As we consider #DisruptTexts in the context of the mass education crisis, and while I will address theoretical errors which exist in their approach, we need to realize how our own individual and social sloppiness exacerbates these woke errors. There is plenty of blame to go around, and #DisruptTexts is but one factor of several.

Concerning my second point, #DisruptTexts is problematic (how’s that for a Leftist word!) because of its inability to contribute towards the construction of a social order. There is on the Left too much breaking down, not enough building up. The racial genie has bewitched the partisans of #DisruptTexts and there is no end to the deconstruction road. And not to put too sharp a point on it, for people who are hip to what is called “race,” they should respect the white culture of America as much as the Indian culture of the Subcontinent, or anywhere else.

Orientation & House Rules

From the start I ought to say that #DisruptTexts is not especially alarming to me. It is one of a conga line of educational fads which regularly burn through my vocational field. In fact, as it lacks coordinated state patronage it is a few clicks less pressing than No Child Left Behind or Common Core, recent foci of educational wariness. It is always important to remember the frequency of these sorts of fads before emotionally reacting to them.

As I wrote in my late series on We The People, I assert that there is no day to day racism in America. It is an insult to both the dead generations of Americans who suffered actual racism, as well as those of our day who suffer like discrimination across the world. The tribulations of the Tutsi, the Uighurs, and the Rohingya are a damn sight more serious than the pettyfogging gripes of American academics. #DistruptTexts, Black Lives Matter, et al. represent one of a number of divide and conquer tactics which the American ruling class excels in implementing. Keeping the ethnic groups annoyed with each other distracts from the track-trace-database system Mr. Schwab and his eponyms are building; it distracts from the endless Pentagon wars and the thousand-front looting of the American working class.

What racism there is exists in institutions which are in an adversarial relationship to the population they rule over, and their crimes literally have nothing to do with subject Americans. #DisruptTexts is right in saying there is profound and systemic racism in social institutions, most outstandingly via subsidiary state corporations like their military branches, police departments, and prisons. However, the U.S. Federal and state governments, and the business/legal system of which the state is a product, have officially existed in a state of war against the American people since the 37th Congress (March 1860). Charges of racism in those arenas have nothing whatsoever to do with flesh and blood Americans. Deconstructing all the books in all the canons of the world will not do one thing to affect the guilty entities. I wish these racial critics well as they make the governments and their hirelings confront their racial errors. However, insofar as the American government is foreign to the population it claims rulership over, I as an uninvolved party wish to be left alone by #DisruptTexts.

The Concept

#DisruptTexts aims to reconsider the ways literature is taught and experienced in American schools. Where this immediately draws popular attention, as it eventually will from us, is in the specific choices of books assigned in class. However, their reconsideration only begins by challenging the canon. To focus primarily on their book selections is to miss the deeper point. Most educational critique does this, it gets caught up on the superficial externals with little grasp of the principles at play.

Now when we speak of “the canon” we mean the group of texts more or less taught throughout the country. Its advocates are aware, in ways most men are not, of “literature” being larger study than a simply a litany of stories. #DisruptTexts’ proponents are sensitive to dynamics such as intertextuality, discourse, and identities of all sorts, and their relationship to literature. In this they are to be praised.

The Canon

#DisruptTexts is not altogether without praise. In the interest of graciousness, and towards an honest understanding of their approach, I should want to continue my analysis on this note. For one, #DisruptTexts’ proponents are aware of both “the canon” and what was once called the “Great Conversation.” By the canon they mean those go-to books which form the core of American lit classes country-wide.

From sea to shining sea I’d bet Americans mucking about in their 20s through their 40s are more or less familiar with The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993), S.E. Hinton’s Outsiders (1967), Their Eyes Were Watching God written by Zora Neale Hurston (1937), and Streetcar Named Desire from the pen of Tennessee Williams (1947). This is the canon. It can change, it inevitably does change. Usually this happens during that unicorn of a department shakeup when old timers have been pensioned off and newer energetic teachers haven’t burned out and moved onto other avocations. In other words, the literary canon does change, but it does so only slowly, locally, and insofar as even the spunkiest of teachers can only take so much before other saner work beckons, the canon changes only temporarily before the old go-tos are back.

The Great Conversation

The “Great Conversation” is more abstract than the canon. It is the concept that authors are in a sense in a dialogue with each other over the centuries. That specific label comes from Robert Hutchins’ and Mortimer Adler’s essays of the same name which used to lead off the University of Chicago’s Great Books series. Ah, talk about changed reading habits! Just two or three generations back encyclopedia salesmen were a thing. Encyclopedia men fought with colleagues hawking The Story of Civilization and the Great Books of the Western World. More remarkable still, everyone had work. As a testament to our present contempt of knowledge, as of this article’s composition the entire 54-volume Great Books series is retailing on eBay for about $20 (and that’s $20 in devalued 2021 fiat dollars, mind you).

The Great Conversation is a thrilling concept. Just think, Plato and Bede and Renan and 10,000 other greats were all part of the same work. And mirabile dictu, that work was not a dead thing. No matter how mundane the world might see one, the Great Conversation held the promise of a millenia-long discourse anybody can plug into as soon as they can open the nearest book or pick up the closest pen. To familiarize yourself with the Great Conversation, if Adler doesn’t float your boat you might read Dean Swift’s delightful Battle of the Books tale for a humorous treatment of the same idea.

The Great Conversation is also a powerful concept. I’ll never forget when I came across the idea as a young teacher. It doubtless enriches one’s appreciation of literature as a discipline. It is a simple idea, a powerful one, and a democratic one. Like moveable type, phonetic alphabets, or chord notation, simplifications of existing technologies which greatly increased common access, the popularization of the slim and trim Great Conversation can do much to move the general public toward a consciousness that literature is more than a collection of subjectively good or bad entertainment, more than mental popcorn. Though they do not use the specific term, #DistruptTexts is right to popularize the idea of the Great Conversation.

Narrative

It is to the credit of the Left that as a general rule that they’ve a sharper sense of sociological dynamics than your regular John Q normie or—heaven forbid—your local conservative. During the preliminary stages of the 2020 Biden coup, during that hot summer of racial rent-a-mob riots, I’ll never forget the anchors of one conservative U.S. outfit. Throwing their papers on the desk they begged, “Please, we just want to live regular lives.” Clueless. They were seemingly unaware of the purpose of direct action.

Likewise, five solid years into the Left’s weaponization of gender dysphoria and most of your “black pilled” sorts, people who have “seen through the matrix” and flatter themselves in knowing all the backroom deals and agendas, don’t seem to have grasped that the academic Left has made a simple but adamatine distinction between gender and sex. Much less do they know how to respond to such a thesis. Ah musha, if it were raining soup your conservatives would be out and about with folks. But b’times Leftists lay off Twitter and they do read books. When they do, they learn things and they observe, and this wouldn’t serve any of us badly. One area of observation which undergirds #DistruptTexts is the idea of narrative.

Narratives are stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. They link the amalgam of experiences we as individuals and communities encounter into a manageable story. Without narratives we’re left with a nearly infinite blob of facts with no rhyme or reason to them. As John Gaddis writes in The Landscape of History, narrative makers are like map makers. For a map to be intelligible, just like the discipline of literature, those involved must include some things and they must leave out (most) others. If they didn’t the map would be 20 square miles, and literature would collapse into endless and random stories. Narratives are necessary. They are similar to worldviews, a concept which received widespread dissemination a decade or so ago, but they have more of communal quality to them because they explain who we are as a people.

Narratives are profoundly human. It is man’s fondness for narrative which will forever place the simple but story-filled Bible higher than the eloquent but pedantic Quran in the hearts of men. And in the grand sweep of things the lack of narrative thus will happily banish the tiring politio-religio-techo tracts of the modern West from the minds (to say nothing of the hearts) of later generations. The advocates of #DistruptTexts grasp the power of narrative, and they shudder at the profundity of it. We all must.

Critique, The First

With the duties of graciousness seen to, we turn to our critiques of #DistruptTexts. As we come to grips with the movement we must first appraise the state of the public. In this I do not mean the reading public, for such a thing does not exist. There are men, and they read; sometimes they read books; sometimes many people read many books. However we cannot speak of a reading public (or more magisterially, the reading public) in the manner people of a century ago did. Time moves apace. As it does the literacy of c.1750-1950 will be seen as the peculiarity it was. The public is alliterate at present. It can read but chooses not to. The Great Conversation is less and less a lived experience for Americans.

Because the Great Conversation is a fading memory, because it is a reality less men are participating in, it is taking its effect on society. The decline of religiosity can be pegged to the inability of Western men to envision abstract concepts, this is an ability which is kept in good form by reading. Religiosity in illiterate societies can be explained because, while illiteracy is more common, those skins often enjoy something deracinated Westerners do not, a cultural matrix which encourages the abstractions of faith. It seems that religion can carry on alright with either a strong reading population or a strong lived culture, ideally religion would do best with both, but if neither are available faith is doomed. The absolute thrall which the mainstream media is able to hold the country in, a spell which explains both Coronavirus saga and Mr. Biden’s outrageous yet effortless installation, are nearer examples of what readingless brains will tolerate.

When a movement such as #DisruptText comes along, a movement predicated on the reading habits of a century ago, it encounters men who read menus and cell phones and BuzzFeed. Powerful ideas are proposed to men whose sloth has not prepared them for serious ideas. It is like giving retarded people rocket launchers. Nothing but damage will result.

As a mighty tyranny comes into focus, it is ill advised to spread #DisruptTexts’ critique of literature. Until there is a substantive culture to work with, a substantive reading culture, a culture which will be strong enough to shove back the statists and technocrats, a culture which is powerful enough to keep its boot on the throat of commerce and legalism and the humorless crew now in the ascent, there is no sense in deconstructing anything. We must knit together the wisps of society into serviceable culture once again. The is not the time for #DisruptTexts. Until common agency, identity, and community are built into a bulwark against The Agenda, spreading #DisruptTexts’ ideas are a liability. There will be no books, woke or otherwise, down on Bill Gates’ plantation.

Critique, The Second

Continuing with our look at the people #DisruptTexts means to influence, I assert that their approach is inappropriate given the dynamics of modern pedagogy. As each year goes by the incompetence of our educational system comes more to the fore. By “educational system” I do not mean the bureaucratic structures of education, which is usually the meaning of that term when used. I mean the DNA of industrial learning, the structure of knowledge dissemination, the assumptions and daily rhythm of the classroom.

School is overburdened as is. There are too many demands, too many specializations, too much going on but yet the same amount of hours in the day. Like Madison Avenue’s ideal teenagehood, things like the after school job, the driver’s ed classes, SAT classes, social life, sports, band, modern education finds itself doing too much too often, and none of it well. Six or seven specialities are proposed to be taught, and all the Federal testing, and all the State Of testing, and all the mental health practices, and anti-bullying efforts, and, and, and… Busyness is the predominant fault of modern education.

Into this activity, into this clamor for hours and minutes, #DistruptTexts wishes to introduce an academic sophistication which cannot possibly be digested properly. In this, like with my above point, this is not the fault of the advocates of #DisruptTexts. It is the failure of American society and of our ridiculously overburdened school system. As stated above, there are actual strong points to #DisruptTexts, particularly their ideas of literature being in dialogue and their point about the canon being stale and largely being perpetuated because of laziness. However, at present #DisruptTexts is not realistic given the sorry state of pedagogy.

Let us embrace the seriousness which #DisruptTexts promises to bring to literature education, let us embrace the opportunity to change our pedagogical format to include, if not the specific sociological outlook they propose, at least their more substantive appreciation of letters. However, until this is systematically done—and this will not be done because the masters of this society do not want an erudite population of any political affiliation—#DisruptTexts will produce whining from all sides but little of academic substance.

Critique, The Third

Until now I have kept my analysis of #DisruptTexts confined to the larger milieu they mean to operate in. This is sensible insofar as a good many problems of education have more to do with the sorry intellectual condition we tolerate in our own individual lives, in our “real world” non-school society, than they have to do with plots to manipulate society. Plots there be, but all the Rockefellers and Nixons and NEAs don’t explain why I didn’t read a book last month. Charity begins at home, and so does criticism. But there are problems proper to #DisruptTexts, and to these we turn.

Ethnic Exaggeration

“White” is as clumsy an ethnic designation as “black,” and I pray that people stop using the labels which the merciless rulers of this society propose. There are no “white” people mentioned in Genesis’ Table of Nations, and it’s a great oversight that the same people who tear Darwinism to shreds are the same people who cleave so fondly to Charles’ ethnic designations. But for brevity’s sake #DisruptTexts is plainly anti-white.

There is nothing wrong with being of European stock, and #DisruptTexts’ assertion to the contrary is an error. I want little Arab children to be steeped in Arab culture, I want little African children to be steeped in African culture, and it frankly annoys me to see what is considered American culture holding the allegiance of non-American peoples the world over. However there is nothing wrong with American culture being taught to Americans, and there is nothing wrong in acknowledging that that culture is largely associated with people men call “white.” There are robust ethnic literatures which the American school canon, however musty and dated, already factors in. Indeed, so-called minorities may have a statistically larger place on the canon than their numbers warrant. The constant deconstruction of #DistruptTexts ignores the voice of whites in this country.

It has always been in the favor of reading that the activity puts the user’s life and circumstances in perspective. Broadcast media of various sorts does not have this quality; things are at once too dated and too fast. For example, a film on television invites the viewer to bog down in superficial details from the time of its production, and the tale will doubtless soon be interrupted by a commercial. This does not happen with literature. There are temporal aspects to the expression, of course. Les Miserables cannot be divorced from the 19th Century Republicanism which so inspired Hugo any more than the Bible can be split off from the time and culture of the ancient Hebrew.

The role of history on a specific text’s composition is as delicious a study as any, it’s analogous to historiography’s relationship to history, and it provides one of the great “Easter egg” surprises devoted readers may stumble upon. Nevertheless, literature of any lasting quality, and no small amount which has slipped the mind of the latest generation, transcends time.

#DisruptTexts will sever this multi-generational boon of art. Recent authors, indeed authors who for the most part may still be living on this earth, will crowd out the pens of past generations. Seen in the grand scope of things the dearest concerns of any given generation appear to those removed from that time and place as trifles.

Herein lies more than an irony of #DisruptTexts, but also a hole in its approach. In seeking to include the greatest number of voices (provided they’re “woke” and located on a relatively narrow bandwidth of the political spectrum) #DisruptTexts excludes the voice of the most ignored, maligned, and agentically-deprived group on the planet, the dead. Though they comprise a supermajority of humanity, the dead will receive no representation from the woke ones.

White man, black man, yellow man, Left, Right, and Center, we need to realize that authentic American culture has been sabotaged by this country’s ruling class. The advocates of #DistruptTexts ought to be on guard against their ideas being used to further this policy. Go read some books from the 1880s and ‘90s, listen to music from that time. You will see there was as true as true can be distinct American culture coming into focus at that time.

Evolution may be bunk in the biological order but in the cultural realm one culture certainly can morph into something its very own. That was absolutely happening by the late-19th Century. And just as true as true can be, this new specie was purposefully disassembled into the deracinated consumer which has gobbled up the last century of North American existence. Regardless of its intention, #DisruptTexts will contribute to this trend. Until the larger strata of culture can be improved and matured #DisruptTexts will be a danger.


John Coleman co-hosts Christian History & Ideas, and is the founder of Apocatastasis: An Institute for the Humanities, an alternative college and high school in New Milford, Connecticut. Apocatastasis is a school focused on studying the Western humanities in an integrated fashion, while at the same time adjusting to the changing educational field. Information about the college can be found at their website.


The featured image shows a Chinese communist poster from ca. 1966, which says, “Destroy the Four Olds [old ideas, old customs, old habits, old culture].” The banner reads, “Disruption is justified!”

Italian Fascism: The Drive For Unity And Self-Government

As a fascism junkie I couldn’t resist ordering and reading the last work of the eminent historian Renzo De Felice (1929-1996) on a subject to which he devoted more than thirty years of his life. This preoccupation also led De Felice to produce an eight-volume study centered on the life of Benito Mussolini. In the foreword to Breve Storia del Fascismo (A Short History of Fascism), Falco Quilici, a friend of the late author, notes the extreme care with which De Felice searched all available archives for his massive research project. Moldering piles of scrap paper ( tutte pile di scartoffie) bearing on his subject found anywhere in Italy attracted the author’s attention; and he would personally search through these dusty piles for new data even after publishing his gargantuan work.

This short history of fascism that relates both the movement and its leader to the interwar period summarizes the leading points in De Felice’s eight-volume work. An astonishing fact for those who know little about the struggle between fascists and the Resistance in Italy is the relative paucity of those involved on either side of this confrontation that unfolded in the fall of 1943, between a German-controlled Italian fascist regime and various leftist militant groups. Only about 4 million Italians out of a total Italian population of 44 million played any role in this struggle.

The “myth” of a massive Resistance came along later to generate the useful image of the Italians as an antifascist people. The revenge wrought on collaborators was far more ruthless and indiscriminate than any persecution that Mussolini while in power initiated. Clearly the Salo Republic that il Duce presided over, in name only, which was established in Northern Italy after the Germans rescued Mussolini from internment (and after the King and the fascist Gran Consiglio had removed him from power and imprisoned him on July 25, 1943) behaved quite brutally. But this happened mostly owing to the de facto imposition of a Nazi German regime.

De Felice points to the aspect of overcompensation that characterized Italian fascism. The Italian peninsula was never truly unified in the nineteenth century by the House of Savoy based in Turin. Despite the presence of a national government and the availability of literature and operas that stressed Italian solidarity, deep regional and social divisions remained after the country’s apparent unification. The North and South were culturally and economically divided; and the owners of industry and the latifundia that dotted the Italian countryside stood in opposition to a radicalized working class and impoverished peasants.

Efforts were made to resettle Italian population, particularly from the south, in North African colonies, but in 1896 the Italians lost 18, 000 soldiers to 88,000 Abyssinian warriors in the Battle of Adua, a national humiliation that Mussolini tried to erase by attacking Ethiopia in 1936.

There was also the hope among Italian nationalists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that their country might complete the work of unification by taking the South Tyrol and Istria, on the Adriatic Coast, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That goal drove the Italian government into the First World War against the Central Powers, a disaster that resulted in 531, 000 lost lives and which did nothing to improve the country’s economic condition. We might also note that between 1890 and 1920 Italy lost 4 million of its countrymen to the US. 10 percent of our immigrants then arrived from Italy, and almost all of them came from the Mezzogiorno, the region extending south from Rome into Sicily.

The fascist regime was intended to overcome those problems left from Italy’s faulty unification in 1870. The parliamentary system that it put in place added to political difficulties by creating a spoils system between alternating ruling coalitions. Mussolini’s tirades against “the fetid corpse of liberalism” were aimed at the parliamentary corruption that preceded his advent to power in October 1922. A unified state, or one that claimed to be such, was the fascist response to Italy’s failed experiment in self-government.

According to de Felice, the Fascist Party of Italy remained in “a secondary position” relative to the Italian fascist state and indeed “could be easily sacrificed if the superior needs of the state required it.” Unlike the German National Socialists or the Soviet Communist Party, Italian fascism placed the state above party, race or just about anything else. This “fascistization of the state” presupposed the operation of a Duce, who would mediate social differences. This figure was indispensable to the entire balancing of interests and stood above the Italian monarchy and a subservient party structure.

A “totalitarian state,” or at least one that claimed to be such, would help Italy, or so it was hoped, rise above internal disunity and economic scarcity. This Italian state was seen to exemplify a “national revolution,” and so it claimed to fuse the nation with the political order. Despite the stunning architecture, marches, and iconography that came out of the fascist experiment, its creative answer to Italy’s earlier failed national revolution did not end well.


Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is the Raffensperger Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Guggenheim recipient. He is the author of numerous articles and 15 books, including, Antifascism: Course of a Crusade (forthcoming), Revisions and DissentsFascism: The Career of a ConceptWar and DemocracyLeo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in AmericaEncounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and TeachersConservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards A Secular Theocracy, and After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State. Last year he edited an anthology of essays, The Vanishing Tradition, which treats critically the present American conservative movement.


The featured image shows, “Vittoria Alata” (Winged Victory),” by Mario Sironi, painted in 1935.

The Minimum Wage Law Is Wrong

In the bad old days of outright, in-your-face racism, the bigots favored the minimum wage law as a means of destroying the economic prospects of black people. For example labor unions in the bad old apartheid South Africa explicitly favored such legislation in order to exacerbate the unemployment rate of this demographic. Blacks, in their view, were getting too “uppity” and had to be taken down a notch or two. Or three. They were daring to compete with more skilled white labor; the best way to nip this challenge in the bud was to price them out of the market. Raise the wages of black labor by government fiat so high that employers would no longer look upon them as a bargain.

Nor was our own country exempt from this sort of evil. Former president John F. Kennedy, when he was a senator from Massachusetts, favored the minimum wage law on the ground that cheap African-American labor in the former confederate states was too competitive with more highly-skilled New England workers. He thought, correctly, that the best way to deal with this challenge was, again, to end this through minimum wage legislation. He stated: “Having on the market a rather large source of cheap labor depresses wages outside that group too – the wages of the white worker who has to compete. And when an employer can substitute a colored worker at a lower wage – and there are … these hundreds of thousands looking for decent work – it affects the whole wage structure of an area…”

Give the devil his due, these vicious people were good economists. They faced a challenge: the competition of low-skilled black workers. They knew exactly how to obviate this opposition. Pass laws that seemingly helped them, but they full well knew had the diametric opposite effect.

Nowadays, matters are reversed. The people who now favor this legislation are filled with the milk of human kindness, at least for the most part. But their understanding of economics is abysmal. And this does not only describe Democrats such as AOC or Bernie or Schumer or Pelosi or Biden who are staunch supporters of this malicious legislation. It even includes Republicans such as Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who have just introduced a bill to increase the national minimum wage to $10 an hour over the next four years, in gradual steps. One would have thought that at least members of the GOP would be a bit sophisticated about economics, but in the event this just ain’t so.

The flaws in this enactment can best be explained starting with an analogy from the animal world. The deer is a very weak animal. This species would have long ago gone extinct except for its speed. In similar manner, the skunk and the porcupine would be greatly endangered, but for their saving graces, smell and sharp quills (How do porcupines make love? Carefully).

Now put yourself in the place of a young black kid who can’t find a job. (Before the advent of the minimum wage law in 1938 the unemployment rate of blacks and whites, youngsters and middle-aged folk, was about the same; at present, the rate of joblessness for African American male teens is quadruple that of white males aged 25-55). Young black teens have a poor reputation as workers, at least in the minds of many employers. What is their analogous secret weapon? The ability to temporarily work for a very low wage – or none at all.

Under free enterprise, this young black kid could march up to an employer, look him straight in the eye and say: “I know you don’t think much of me as a potential employee. But you’re wrong. Hiring me will be one of the best commercial decisions you’ve ever made. Just give me a chance. In order to take the risk off your hands, let me tell you what I’m gonna do. I’ll work for you for $5 per hour for a week. Then, if I pass this trail period in your estimation, you can raise my salary. Heck, I’ll do it for $2 per hour, can’t say better than that, can I? No, wait, I’ll go myself even one better: I’ll work for you, real hard, for zero, zip, nada, for free. Then, after a week, when you see what a treasure I am, you can adjust my wage accordingly.”

It is hard to see why this would not be a very successful statement in terms of (eventually) getting on the payroll. However, if this young enterprising person said anything of the sort, he would be breaking the law. He might not be put in prison for doing so, since, probably, an economically illiterate judge would view him as a victim; but, still, he would be in violation of the minimum wage law. In contrast, if the owner of the firm accepted this offer, woe betide him. He would be tossed into the clink, and the key to the prison would be thrown away (This is an exaggeration, but only a slight one).

The point is, the minimum wage law steals from the worker who is discriminated against his one “secret weapon”: the ability to impress the business firm with this type of offer. That’s the Horatio Alger story.

An analysis of basic supply and demand analysis as taught in economics 101 will demonstrate that when you impose a floor under wages, this does not necessarily raise them. Rather supply is now greater than demand, and the difference is a surplus; in the labor market this is called unemployment. No, a floor under wages does not boost them; rather it constitutes a barrier over which the job candidate must jump in order to obtain employment in the first place. If mere legislative fiat could really boost compensation, why stop at $10, or $15? Why not help the needy with a wage, or, oh, $100 per hour, or even $1,000? Then, we could stop all foreign aid, and just tell needy countries to institute, and/or raise their minimum wage levels.

Sophisticated advocates of this pernicious legislation will point to “monopsony” or “oligopsony” (one, or just a few purchasers of labor, in this case). True, according to neoclassical theory, there is in these cases a window in wages, such that they can only be raised so high before unemployment once again rears its ugly head. Even if this were true (it is not, but that is another story) it is simply inapplicable to relatively unskilled workers. If it applies at all, it is to workers with such specialized skills that only one or a very few firms can hire them. We are now talking about specialized engineers, computer nerds, physicists, etc. They earn multiples of the minimum wage levels being contemplated. Those who push brooms or ask if you “want fries with that?” have literally hundreds of thousands of potential employers, not just one or a few.

The minimum wage should not be raised. It should not stay at its present $7.25 level. It should not be lowered. Rather, it should be abolished, and those responsible for its existence be deemed criminals, since they are responsible for the permanent employment of people with productivity levels lower than that established by law. Suppose someone’s productivity is $3 per hour. Anyone hiring him at $7.25 will lose $4.25 hourly. He cannot be profitably employed. Case closed.


Walter Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University, New Orleans.


The featured image shows “Work,” by Ford Madox Brown, painted in 1873.

The Economics Of More Government

Biden’s economic plan will prove disastrous for both the United States and the world economy. Bidenomics will not “build back better” as the slogan says but will have deleterious effects on nearly everyone—unless you happen to live and work inside the Washington, D.C. beltway.

Biden, himself in the midst of a five-decade career in the federal government, has a net worth of over $10 million and owns two multimillion-dollar properties. Not bad for a lowly middle-class civil servant from Delaware who started with nothing. Who says government doesn’t pay, if you know how to tweak the system by getting huge speaker fees and kickbacks? Biden has sucked on the teat of the state his whole life—it is all he knows.

You may recall the “two cows” political satire that grew up after World War II. It goes like this:

  • Under Communism, you have two cows. The government takes them both and then gives you some milk.
  • Under fascism, you have two cows. The government takes them both and then sells you some milk.
  • Under capitalism, you have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
  • Under Bidenism, you have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

America has never been a socialist country. The people, culture, and pioneer spirit just never allowed it. Yes, some groups wanted slightly more government intervention in the economy or a slightly larger welfare system but until Bidenism, the view held that capitalism was, as the saying goes, as American as apple pie.

No longer.

Under Biden’s woke economic plan, written by none other than the always wrong Paul Krugman, there are just four basic rules. These are not figments of my imagination or construction, either—he delivered them verbatim in the New York Times.

Rule 1: Don’t doubt the power of government to help.

For Biden, who put a huge portrait of Franklin Roosevelt in the Oval Office, more government is always better. Biden never saw a problem he thought the government couldn’t fix. Unlike Bill Clinton, who admitted government is often the problem, Biden fervently believes government can end poverty, curtail the carbon economy, pick winners and losers, and provide the best welfare and health insurance. He will attempt to do everything in his power to swell the size and budget of the central government. That is his core economic premise. Biden has zero business experience except for shaking down corrupt foreign powers in his family’s pay-to-play scheme and wouldn’t know a profit from a loss column.

Rule 2: Don’t obsess about debt.

Sure, we have record budget deficits, and the national debt is on the way to $30 trillion. The more the better. Biden is great at spending other people’s money and printing more. His Federal Reserve is now willing to fight climate change and the Democrat wants to raise taxes by $2 trillion on the backs of everyone making more than $200,000—and on all corporations. This will kill the economic recovery. In Bidenomics, debt is good and more debt is better. A $3 trillion climate change bill is next and near-universal healthcare will follow that soon. Biden is so keen on importing immigrants that he doesn’t care what it costs. Be assured the collapse of the dollar is inevitable in Bidenomics.

Rule 3: Don’t worry about inflation.

The economy’s silent killer is rising inflation. Just ask countries that have suffered its plight. No one escapes its trajectory, everyone loses. Biden wants a hot economy. He doesn’t worry for a nanosecond about inflation. His advisors tell him not to care. It doesn’t matter. But watch the figure as it is about to explode. The laws of real economics do not jibe with the rules of Bidenomics. Government employees and teachers’ unions will get continuous cost of living adjustment increases matched to inflation, but the rest of the population can suffer and go to hell.

Rule 4: Don’t count on Republicans to help govern.

While Biden regularly boasts of bipartisanship and unity, he does not act on it. Instead, his obvious plan is to jam every and anything through a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. If that doesn’t work, he will rule by executive order and circumvent the legislative branch of government completely. The urgent need is for dictatorial power and Biden has a short window (until 2022) to execute all that he intends to accomplish.

Biden would be wise to listen to Britain’s famous Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, who once said, “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” But Biden is deaf on economics. He is on a mission to transform the country and redistribute its wealth based on race and class.

Thatcher questioned the false compassion of socialists, and dared to expose statism as the senseless, dehumanizing cult that it is. She rhetorically ripped the velvet glove from the iron fist and spoke of the welfare state as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Those are things state worshipers, like those around Biden, cannot abide. Under Bidenomics there is no sense of limits or prudence and little appreciation for the horrible and murderous history of socialism in its various forms elsewhere around the world. Instead, Joe and his woke authoritarians are hell-bent on bringing socialism to America.

Bidenomics will see accommodative monetary policy, expansive fiscal policies, and radical structural reforms, not based on competitiveness but built around rebuilding a comprehensive—and woke—welfare state. And you will end up working most of your waking hours to pay for it.

Biden seeks to undo 40 years of American economic history and to forego growth for ideology. The result should scare all investors, anyone with a 401k or a pension, and the rest of the world that still has its horses tied to the U.S. economic engine. When interest rates rise—and they will—the entire global economy and especially the emerging markets will suffer and falter. Bidenomics will see the stock market decline sharply in six months, unemployment rise, and will do little besides grow the administrative state.

As F. A. Hayek observed in The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944 as a response to Communism and fascism, socialism is an allure to a society based on equality. He knew that the desire for greater central planning by a leftist intellectual elite would be ruinous for free societies. Increasing the power of the state would put us on “the road to serfdom”—meaning the masses would work to serve those who hold the power of government.

Hayek’s conclusion: “By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way, a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.”

Welcome to Bidenomics.


Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, scholar-diplomat-strategist, is CEO of the thought leadership firm The Roosevelt Group. He is the author of 18 books, including, The Plot to Destroy Trump and appears regularly in the media, as a keynote speaker, and on television around the world.


The featured image shows, “Political Corruption,” a cartoon by Louis Dalrymple, from 1894.

Christianity and Immigration: Christianity Versus The Religion Of Humanity

A sort of shortcut, or short-circuit, has pervaded public opinion for many years, especially the Christian opinion, between the “Christian message” and “welcoming migrants.” As if welcoming migrants summed up the demands and urgency of today’s Christian message. As if “being a Christian today” found its touchstone in the welcome, if not unconditional, at least as broad as possible, of migrants. I would like to question the merits of this perspective.

I will first make a few very quick comments on migration. The dominant opinion, that which governs the rulers, maintains that it is fundamentally, if not exclusively, a moral problem, that the reception of migrants is a categorical imperative, perhaps tempered by the limited possibilities of the “host” countries. According to this view, we know what is good work, or a good deed; and the debate can legitimately only be about the appreciation of the circumstances. Yet this emphatically moral perspective rests on a political assumption that is rarely questioned, namely that migration is the major phenomenon of the times, the most significant phenomenon, and against which all others should be considered. This is the argument behind the Marrakesh Pact.

Moral Evidence Or Political Postulate?

However, migrants constitute a small percentage of the world’s population, which continues to live mainly in constituted states. Whatever the specific needs and wishes of migrants, no substantial reason has yet been given to subordinate them in principle to the needs and wishes of non-migrant populations, who are not necessarily less needy. By urging states to do everything in their power to facilitate migratory movements, we immediately deprive political bodies of this essential part of their legitimacy, which consists in freely determining the conditions of access to their territory and to their citizenship. Even urging them to monitor how their citizens talk about migration arrogates the right to regulate public conversation in every country in the world. Thus, in the name of a moral evidence, which is only an arbitrary political postulate, we weaken the legitimacy and therefore the stability of the constituted states, in particular of those which are most sensitive to this argument, namely, the democratic countries, which now host a large number of migrants, and who are by far the most active when it comes to bringing them assistance.

Our democracies provide a life of peace, freedom and even conviviality, which remains enviable for large populations, whose social condition, education, religion, opinions and lifestyles are extremely varied. This associative capacity, the fruit of great efforts over a long history, is not unlimited. No one knows how far a body politic can accept growing heterogeneity without breaking up. It is not only a question of “preserving” oneself, of defending what is one’s own, however legitimate this concern may be—it is a question of preserving and, if possible, improving the conditions of “the good life,” primarily from a common education.

Primacy Of Citizenship

Migrants themselves are no exception to this primacy of citizenship. They were active citizens of the country they left. They most often retain the rights of citizenship or nationality. They received a more or less complete education there, a human formation; in short, a form of life. It is therefore a very superficial view to look at migration exclusively from a humanitarian perspective, and migrants simply as “alike.” Undoubtedly, migrants are our fellow human beings and we are required, if they are in danger, to come to their aid according to our means. But they are also citizens who have been instilled with social or religious rules, which can sometimes be directly contrary to our principles of justice. The duty to help here and now the migrant who is in danger in no way includes a duty to facilitate his migration, let alone that of making him a fellow citizen. All this depends on very varied considerations and ultimately on a judgment that is not moral but political; or rather an ethical judgment in the old sense of the term, that is to say a prudential judgment in which the common good of the community of citizens is the main, although not exclusive, criterion.

What “Christian Message?”

I come to the second point. What exactly do we mean, or what do we mean seriously, when we speak of the “Christian message?” The answer is all the more difficult because over the course of a long history, the Christian proposal has found very diverse expressions, depending on the evolutions of the Church—of those of the world and of the interactions of the Church and the world. In particular, it appears that the modalities of the Christian proposal are very different depending on whether the Church is in a position of command or of authority, as she was during much of European history; or in a position of marginality or subordination, as she is today. I’ll proceed from there.

We constantly meet with traces, remnants or signs of the once central and commanding position of the Church. But, if we look at things as they are, it appears that the Church is increasingly rejected and lies at the margins of European society, including French society. The ecclesial institution, and Catholics in general, have long become accustomed to this diminished condition; but at the cost of increasing difficulty in carrying out the Christian proposal. How can the breadth and gravity of her appeal to humanity be heard without departing from the modesty to which her present situation obliges her? This proposal is addressed to all men, it concerns the whole of man, and the mission of Christians is to carry this call.

However, if the Church, through her liturgy and her sacraments, continues to fulfill this mission in the direction of her active members, she no longer really knows in what terms to formulate it in the public space. Indeed, the sovereign state has gradually imposed its point of view on all participants in common life, including the Church. From the point of view of the state, the Christian faith is one opinion among others, the freedom of which it guarantees, but which does not deserve any special consideration, as it hastens to let her know as soon as she intervenes in the public space. However, even though the Church today does not demand any special consideration, she cannot renounce her raison d’être. How to address humanity, and first of all the members of the civic body, when an increasingly rigorous interpretation of secularism leads the state to exercise increasingly precarious surveillance over any public expression that can be linked to religion?

It is therefore a great temptation in the Church to seek the ear of the public and to preserve its audience, by linking the proclamation, which is specific to her, to the prevailing opinion today, by confusing the Christian proclamation with this “religion of humanity,” which envelops Europe and the Americas, reducing charity to that “sentiment of similarity,” in which Tocqueville already saw the deepest and most powerful psychic spring of modern democracy. It’s a temptation, because like all temptations, it’s an ease, and it’s a lie. Indeed, the religion of humanity proclaims a human family, virtually united and healed. It invites us to perceive, under the still virulent separations, a humanity in which the similarity of men under their differences would be immediately visible and perceptible. One understands the attraction of a prospect that promises the unification of humanity through the contagion of pleasant feeling. We must also point out the cost. Once rooted, this point of view implies a relaxation of all our ambitions; a renunciation in principle of all our common actions, since there can be no ambition or common action without an effort to distinguish oneself from those who do not share this ambition, or have no part in this common action. A humanity which claims to unite by the contagion of the feeling of the similar, is a humanity which has given up acting, since, as soon as we act, as Rousseau explains, we must “take into account the differences that we find in the continual use we have to make of each other.”

The Religion Of Humanity

In the eyes of the Christian, in particular, the religion of humanity is superficial because it does not understand the depth of what separates men and where their enmity is rooted: how to imagine that men will find the healing of their divisions in that feeling of sympathy which, reduced to itself, has little strength and constancy? Moreover, it is because the human capacity for sympathy is naturally limited that compassion is prolonged, spreads and is distorted in political projects, which introduce new divisions by seeking new enemies. How can we fail to see the political and ideological passion behind the project of a world “without borders,” which presents itself as the necessary conclusion of the awareness of human similarity?

The humanitarian proposal is difficult to refuse because it postulates that it is enough for everyone to be aware of the evidence of human resemblance to enter into justice. The Christian proposal is difficult to accept because it affirms that all human beings are prisoners of an injustice from which they cannot escape by their own strength, and that in order to come out of it they must accept the mediation of Christ both man and God, mediation of which the Church in turn is the mediator. It is indeed a lot of mediation— when the religion of humanity offers the immediate feeling of human likeness; but it opens up an incomparably more instructive and demanding path of improvement, since its end is God himself, of whom every human being is the image.

It would be unfair to underestimate the virtues and the happy effects of humanitarian compassion. In fact, the gestures of charity are in part the same as those of compassion. But in the face of the fabulous powers bestowed on compassion, in the face of precisely this religion of compassion which has established its authority among us, it is important to underline its limits. Christians would lose the sense and intention of their faith if they could no longer distinguish between compassion and charity.

Fascination With The “Migrant”

Thus, after sketching a political perspective on migration, I have just emphasized the specificity of the Christian message. The two approaches, by various paths, aim to deliver us from a vertigo that sweeps away many of us, Christians or not. From a giddiness to a fascination, the fascination of the “migrant,” a figure which sums up humanity because he is the loss of the human as Marx said more or less of the proletarian, a Christ-like figure who tends to substitute for Christ as the object of the intention if not of the faith of Christians. However, the attraction, the bewitchment by the figure of the migrant in one part of public opinion inevitably finds its counterpart in another part of public opinion; in the form of a more or less vehement rejection of migrants, so that the reception or refusal of migrants tends to constitute in our countries the most powerful motive for political and moral divisions. I have tried to suggest that migration does not force us to change the character of our political system, or the meaning and standards of the Christian religion. Yet, if migration does not fundamentally change the political condition of men, it exerts pressure on our countries which, in fact, deeply affects both our political system and, if I may say so, our religious regime. This pressure is both the cause and the effect of the surprisingly rapid progress of this “religion of humanity” which is profoundly transforming the conditions of our common life.

This new political religion has delegitimized our representative republic by imposing the idea that there is something radically unjust in a community of citizens who govern themselves, because in doing so they separate themselves from the rest of men, and at the same time exclude all those who are not part of it. As democratic as it wants to be, our community of citizens is considered radically unfair since the rights it grants to its members are not granted to all the men who ask for or claim them. The only fair rule is that which applies to men in general. It is according to the same logic that the religion of humanity has tended to delegitimize the Christian religion which, a community sharing objects of faith, criteria of judgment and a form of life which are specific to it, separates itself from the rest of humanity. In fact, any community of action or education, in short just about all that humanity has been able to produce, is delegitimized by the religion of humanity which only wants to see similar people, where men have created great different things.

The difficulty, one is tempted to say, the perversity of our situation, is concentrated in the relationship between migration and the religion of humanity. This commands us to open up to migrants, without asking for anything in return—and certainly not to open up to our form of life. Yet are we not “the others” for them? In truth, there is no question here of equality or human resemblance. The meeting to which we are invited is that of a presumed innocent and a presumed culprit; it is ordered by a moral inequality of principle. It is that the religion of mankind was not produced by united mankind, but by old Christendom tired of itself, or in revolt against itself. Humanitarianism is not only a weakening of Christianity. Rather, there is, at the root of the religion of humanity, which has taken possession of Europe, an enmity and resentment, specifically directed against the Christian religion. This state of affairs concerns non-Christians as well as Christians if not in the same way; since, while Christianity seems to be withdrawing from European life, another religion has taken hold of consciences to deprive Europeans of any right to govern themselves and to preserve a form of life of their own. While Europe persists in erasing the last traces of Christendom, nothing can stop it from disappearing into a humanity without form or vocation.


Pierre Manent is a political philosopher at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, and Boston College. His many books are widely translated into English, including, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic, A World beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation State, and Modern Liberty and its Discontents.

This article appears courtesy of La Nef. Translated from the French by N. Dass.


The featured image shows, “De bruiloft te Kana (Marriage at Cana),” by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, painted 1530-1532.

“Well, Who Ya Gonna Believe? Me, Or Your Own Eyes?” Leopold Tyrmand: The “Cabal” and the “Media-Shangri-La”

The following points were the lead into the Daily Mail’s story on January 26 2021 about the findings of Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer:

  • New data from Edelman shows that American trust in media is at all-time low
  • 56% believe that journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead
  • 58% think news organizations are more interested in ideology than facts
  • Only 18% of Republicans trust the media versus 57% of Democrats
  • As a whole, 46% of Americans of all political stripes say they trust the media
  • Media trust is at lows around the world indicating a global phenomenon

In the United States this figure is more or less on par with the percentage of the population that believed that the outcome of the 2020 USA election was the result of foul play. While journalists may be disappointed by this lack of trust, given that from the moment of Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016, they shifted from opposing his candidature to all-out war with him and those who did not represent their interests or view of the world, one can only ask: why would they be surprised?

If the journalists were to be believed, then Trump had not only colluded with Russia to win the White House in 2016, he and his followers were white supremacists. His racism was such that he banned Muslim immigrants for merely being Muslim immigrants, and was happy to put Latino migrant children in cages because they were Latino migrant children. Who could not see that he was a monster? Then there was his sheer incompetence—his handling of COVID directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Who could not see that he was a complete idiot? Surely, it was utterly immoral to let the fate of the world hang upon his deranged and deplorable supporters having the numbers on election day.

And so it was, as an intrepid reporter for Time magazine on February 4th, informed the world, in a sentence that would be endlessly repeated by conservative bloggers and Youtubers who were not allowed to say that the 2020 election had been rigged: “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”

As the author of the piece, Molly Ball, spun it, thanks to their tireless efforts in making it easier to vote, democracy was saved from a tyrant. Other journalists had been routinely comparing the tyrannical Trump to Hitler, so she did not need to repeat that historical analogy; though the historian Timothy Snyder, who knows a thing or two about the holocaust, had said early on in the Trump presidency that the comparisons with Hitler might be a little overblown—Mussolini was closer to the mark.

To the Trump haters who appeal, when it suits them, to “the science,” who “fact check” every joke or exaggeration that Trump has ever made, and who see the need for a Reality Czar to deprogram the members of the Trump cult, the minor fact that Trump had not imprisoned any journalists, or any other of his political opponents for that matter, was of no consequence. As for the dribbling deranged deplorables—likened by the actor Sean Penn and FBI Director James Comey to members of Al Qaeda—who, on election night, thought that their votes might just have been discounted or put in the Biden pile along with the votes of convicted felons, illegal aliens, people of no fixed address, the dead, and the never having existed, Big Tech joined the forces of older media in censoring and denouncing them.

The whole idea that this “cabal” was a “cabal” rigging the vote was a conspiracy theory spread by QAnon. Given that the sibylline utterances of Q were bat-crap crazy and that nothing Q had ever predicted actually occurred, the identity of Q came down to one possibility—Q was someone who was dedicated to making Trump and all of his supporters look like idiots. That left the following possibilities about who came up with Q: either someone having a laugh at the expense of the small band of deplorables with unlimited gullibility, or a Democrat, or a never-Trump shill.

It may well be that the reason so few journalists had so little interest in genuinely investigating why half the United States did not think like they were supposed to think was sheer laziness—for finding them would mean going and talking to people beyond the bars, clubs and restaurants frequented by journalists from New York, Washington, Portland, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. It would have required journalists going to very unpleasant places and hanging out with a bunch of weirdos and white supremacists—yuk!

Given the way the word “racists” was thrown around so frequently as the answer to the question, who actually voted for Trump, it is only reasonable to think that if laziness were in the mix it was ideologically induced laziness. The same question arises about Q. Is it because of laziness that none of those intrepid reporters, who turned up to all those press conferences to give Trump a good piece of their mind, were interested in finding out who Q was? Or, was Q an ideological gift that just kept on giving, something that only completely came to the fore after the election, when anyone who called for an election audit was said to be just repeating that crazy election conspiracy theory invented by Q?

In a world where an ideological trope—racism, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia et al.—explains all the great social and political problems of the day, and hence is ever ready at hand to tie a story together, it all made sense that if people were crazy enough to support Trump they must be crazy enough to believe in Q; and hence if they are crazy enough to support anything Q says then they are crazy, though even if they have never heard of Q, they are still stooges of Q, who is a stooge of Trump, who was Putin’s stooge. And if you don’t believe that, you believe in conspiracy theories. It is a serious question: how much recreational drug use contributes to this way of thinking amongst our educated elite?

Or, to put it another way: why would the media-entertainment, sport and big tech moguls, celebrities, academics, global financiers, wall-street brokers, captains of industry, trade-union officials, journalists, and other societal and economic “leaders”—in sum, the “cabal”—who ranged from those who openly called for Trump’s assassination, to those who just wanted him beaten up, to the moderates who just wanted him impeached and banned for life from social media access or ever holding political office—tolerate Trump’s deranged supporters having their vote counted?

But lest anyone think that any of the “cabal” were thinking along such logical lines, Molly Ball (our intrepid reporter) set the record straight: “They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.” Yes indeed, democracy was fortified by a raft of changes to voter eligibility, the process of voting, as well as the security protocols surrounding voting. Most significant was the easing of conditions of mail-in votes, with a number of states changing early voting and voter deadlines rules, and “simplifying” or scrapping altogether requirements for authenticating voter ID and ballot signatures. All of which just happened to make it much easier for a third party to tamper with a ballot. In some states the security around voting was less than is needed to buy a beer in the USA. “Fortifying” the election would also explain the videos of the unsealed boxes of ballots being found or delivered at all those weird times, and the multiple tabulation of ballots performed in the wee small hours when scrutineers had been sent home. To such non-evidence, journalists, in unison, repeated the immortal line of that great metaphysical rationalist Chico Marx: “Well, who ya gonna believe? Me, or your own eyes?”

Let us, though, imagine for a moment that the above survey results came from the 1950s: in light of the very different values that most people in the USA shared then, would the journalists of today think such widespread mistrust in the media had been a bad thing? For the values that most journalists and other urban professional groups supported back then were pretty much the values Trump and his supporters defended in 2016, viz.,

  • that citizenship was not the right of someone who entered the United States by illegal means;
  • that the national partnerships, especially between labor and capital, and the national interest had to take priority over global partnerships and global capital and the economic well-being of other nations;
  • that the key to the nation’s welfare was an environment in which access to employment was a major priority;
  • and that citizens of the United States could and should peacefully resolve their problems rather than treat other Americans on other aspects of their being, such as, race, gender, or sexual preference.

That is, it is hard to argue that the progressive journalists of the 1950s, who generally thought that most other journalists were mere mouth pieces of America’s ruling class interests, that is, the journalists who went along with the Soviet depiction of the United States as a cauldron of racial and working-class oppression and hatred, would have been anything other than heartened to see that the population did not accept the ideological propaganda of their bourgeois colleagues.

Leaving ideology aside for a moment, one might reasonably argue then—as now—that there is something else that one might consider in more normal times, if one were seriously interested in whether people should believe what journalists tell them. And that is the question of the competence of journalists to investigate a story thoroughly. I hardly think it would be a bad thing for the majority of the population to suspect that journalists are not particularly trustworthy, because, said people recognize that journalists like most people take short cuts, and soft options, and generally are neither overly bright, nor overly industrious.

I think most of us find that if we want a good tradesman, a good doctor, a good dentist, a good lawyer, it is better to ask around than take pot-luck—because we regularly come across people in professions and trades who are not very good at what they do. Why would journalists be an exception? I doubt that most people have ever thought that journalists are naturally wiser, smarter, more industrious or less prone to error and prejudice than other people. When it comes to political reporting, it is also obvious that most political journalists think like their colleagues and people who have had a similar education to them. And they nearly all think they are entitled to set the agenda for how the world should be.

As for their education, journalists are just as likely to have been taught by people who are also not overly bright or thoughtful. By bright and thoughtful I mean someone who is not only naturally gifted, but someone who is really hungry to know stuff, someone with a wide range of interests and curiosity, someone who looks at issues from vastly different and contradictory viewpoints, someone who is not only open-minded, but who is willing to be, and who admits to being, wrong. Such a person is far better placed to identify connections and associations that others fail to notice because they are not prisoners of their own vanity, nor of a consensus, whether that consensus be disciplinary or ideological in nature.

In the fifty or so years of my life spent as a university student and university teacher, I encountered plenty of naturally gifted minds, but I met very few bright or genuinely thoughtful people who taught Humanities. Most that I met read little outside of their area of “expertise,” were far stronger in conviction than in curiosity, had not significantly changed their minds on the issues that they taught and studied since their graduate days, were prone to vanity, loved to “critique,” but hated to be criticized, and generally enjoyed being with people who thought just like them.

For most of them being a good teacher amounted to them being enthusiastic in encouraging their students to think just like them. It can hardly be expected that those who prepared to be journalists by going to college would end up being particularly bright—their chances of even getting a degree requiring that their ideas generally conform to the narratives of their teachers, just as their chances of getting a job also required a conformity of values and social and political outlook with their fellow journalists and editors.

In so far as the class (covering a range of occupations) that crafts, instructs and monitors narratives which have social and political efficacy are almost universally subject to the same norms and processes of socialization, it is not surprising that those who have gone to college and received their information from the media, believe what they read or hear and watch when it is prepared by people who think just like they do—all of which conforms to the ideas and associations that they identify with, routinely discuss, and have reaffirmed in almost every social setting.

This is no less the case in my circle of friends, most of whom have been fairly well educated, have firm political convictions (which I do not remotely share) about how to make the world a just and fair place. Most of them, like other well-educated Western peoples, receive their information from such seemingly “reliable” and professionally run outlets, such as, the New York Times, the Guardian, or (here in Australia) the Australian ABC.

I realize that I have been very fortunate in that my political teachers have been people like Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Tacitus, Augustine, Hobbes and such like (who mean nothing to most of my friends), rather than Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, or the writers at BuzzFeed or Mother Jones and their Australian equivalents. But even when I am with fellow academics who are reasonably well read, when it comes to politics, many of them sound much more like Maddow and Lemon than Thucydides, et al. And I rarely meet anyone who is remotely interested in thinking what would a Thucydides have made of this event—anyway he was just another white guy.

Like most of my friends, most academics I know do not think that there has been anything wrong with the behavior of the media, or Big Tech, or universities, or schools, or publishers, or human resource officers, or celebrities, or sports administrators, or high ranking figures from intelligence agencies and the military, who have routinely denounced, “de-platformed,” silenced, sacked, harangued critics of ideas that have become part of the contemporary consensus of the class that instructs and informs the rest of us about ideas and values.

My suspicion, though, is that more than half the population—that is the people who expressed their mistrust of journalists—think that our social and political elite are rotten, and not just victims of natural human failings, such as, laziness, incompetence and arrogance. They think this because they see that there is no area of their life that the state and corporate world has not conspired (I use the word deliberately) to politicize and make subject to some authority or other that can destroy one’s reputation and livelihood. That is to say, more than half the adult population of the United States believes they are now living in an increasingly totalitarian society—and the rest of the West is not far behind. Sure, they know the difference between the USA and a country that harvests the organs of their criminals, but many would also point to the harvesting of body parts of the unborn to say, make COVID vaccines, as something equally horrifying and unimaginable a couple of generations ago.

What is not as clear is the exact moment at which all the main institutions of the nation were controlled by an elite that chose to sacrifice freedom of thought and freedom of expression for a program, which they represent as justice. What, though, can be said with certainty is that the moment was the outcome of the victory of ideas that had some, albeit very minor, support in the United States amongst intellectuals even prior to the Russian Revolution, but by the time of the 1960s had swept up a great part of the student body at its most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

By the time Alan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind in 1987, the radical ideas of the 1960s about human emancipation, how power is constituted and how it can be transformed to achieve greater emancipation had not only changed the university curricula within the Humanities, but the entire mindscape of a generation who now typically thought in terms of identity and diversity (understood as group identity which being a fundamental characteristic to be considered when employing or judging people). Bloom had identified what had become known around the same time as political correctness within the universities. What was less obvious then was the extent to which other institutions had succumbed to the same set of bad ideas.

As someone who observed the Trump presidency from very distant shores, the one thing that I thought his presidency had achieved was not only the exposure of the complete corruption of the media, and its willingness not only to lie, but to suppress the truth (the Hunter Biden lap-top was simply one egregious example of the media’s conspiracy of silence to get their man up), but to take the media head on. It may have not been as exceptional as we might wish to think, for media owners, and editors, prior to Obama taking office, to kill an investigation that might uncover a scandal that harmed their own political interests and investments. But when Obama became the commander-in-chief, as Jack Cashill has detailed in his Unmasking Obama, it became routine for what he (picking up on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) calls the “firemen” to protect the president from unwanted facts by “defaming opposition journalists, mocking their work, exposing their past sins, trivializing their information, and twisting their facts, among others.”

And while the media repeatedly said Obama’s presidency was scandal free, the fact was that just as he had firemen to burn the news, he was, as Cashill writes: “Like England’s Henry II, who reportedly said of Thomas Becket, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest,’ Obama seems to have led by way of suggestion. His henchmen and women did the dirty work. They sent Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to prison for making a video. They watched in silence as Lt. Col. Terry Lakin was dispatched in shackles to Leavenworth. They had James O’Keefe and David Daleiden arrested for undercover reporting. They cyber harassed reporter Sharyl Attkisson. They used search warrants on reporter James Rosen and several Associated Press reporters. They punished whistleblowers. They helped frame George Zimmerman and Officer Darren Wilson. They used the IRS to crush the Tea Party. They turned a blind eye to the New Black Panther goons. They conspired to clear Hillary Clinton of criminal charges. They discouraged all serious investigation into the death of Seth Rich. And even before the election, they breached Obama’s passport file and probably doctored it.” And they could do all this because the media was cravenly abetting in its silence and “fact-checking” to ensure the dreamer-in-chief was presented as the great unifier; and when Trump won the election, the same firemen and enablers had to breathlessly report on fires that more often than not were of their own manufacturing. And they thought that the public would not notice—and, to be fair, their public didn’t.

Some thirty years ago I realized that journalists were not that bright, tended to be ideological, and rather lazy – which is to say I saw them as much like the academics I knew (don’t get me wrong I am fairly lazy and pretty slow—I just hate ideology). But I had not equated the New York Times with Pravda. That was my mistake (being slow, I am also not that bright).

I only wish that as I was starting what would become my academic life, I had read and had had the wherewithal to really absorb an essay published in 1976 in the American Scholar, by a Polish émigré, Leopold Tyrmand, entitled, “The Media Shangri-La,” which exposes how corrupt and pernicious to US democracy the media was even in the mid-1970s. To my shame and regret, I had not even heard of Tyrmand till my friend, Zbigniew Janowski, who regularly shakes me out of my tendency to sloth, suggested I should read it and reflect upon.

Before discussing the essay in a little more detail, I should mention that two brilliant and important books by Tyrmand. One is as perceptive a book on life within communism as has ever been written—The Rosa Luxemburg Contraceptives Cooperative: A Primer on Communist Civilization. The other, Notebooks of a Dilettante, is a fascinating and brilliant series of observational vignettes on American life. One observation from Notebooks is particularly pertinent:

“Even among trained Kremlinologists in this country, there persists a common belief that the upper class in communist society is made up of party members, government officials, high-ranking military people, and industrial managers. Nothing could be further from the truth; these people are the rulers; those overburdened with work, gross, coarse, very limited, “half-or-quarter intelligent (as we call them), undemanding where a better life is concerned. They live modestly, work fourteen hours a day and are early victims of heart disease. The real upper class are those who serve them—the cynical intellectual, writers, artists, journalists who sell a preparedness for every lie in return for money and lack of responsibility… They get in exchange material prosperity, extensive travel to the West paid by the state, intensive sexual dolce vita, made possible by their exceptional social position.”

Communism and its mutation of progressivism was the invention of what Tyrmand calls the real “upper class”—those who live off the making and monitoring of narratives which the rest of us should live by. I don’t think the “rulers” in the West today have quite the grim life that Tyrmand ascribes here to the communist “rulers” he describes, but his depiction of the group he identifies as the “upper class” is very accurate—it is the class of people who talk, write, play, and want to be renumerated for telling others what and how to think and what and how to behave in the world.

  • They are generally not interested in the hard sweat and compromise of policy and diplomacy;
  • they are largely averse to risk;
  • they do not wish to spend their time doing anything as boring as orchestrating and overseeing the productive deployment of material resources;
  • they like reading, writing and gas-bagging, especially with people who think just like them;
  • they are happy to morally condemn capitalism whilst designing (albeit without any detail) a new society in which capital would not exist; yet their interests align with those who do know how to attract massive amounts of capital and generate great wealth.

These are Nietzsche’s higher men and women, who (unlike Nietzsche) have discovered that if they purport to make the world equal, they will ever be served by clients who depend upon them—hence they are post-Marxists, and being post-Marxist means that they divide the world into oppressor and oppressed, and they receive the resources they need to live how they wish by instructing us all how not to oppress each other.

This conveniently fits the interests of that class of entrepreneurs and investors who want a compliant work force to produce what they think will be most profitable. This is the class of people who ensured that Trump and his goons did not destroy democracy. Of course, one only has to look at how the same people not only spoke about Ronald Regan, the Bushes, and a man who became a real sweetheart to them, John McCain, to realize how vicious they become if anyone stands in the way of their plans and interests.

Trump should have been the easiest of targets, and should have folded long before the 2016 election: he was a philanderer and cad; he was crude; he was vain; he was loose on detail; he was thin-skinned and petty, given to vengefulness over the most minor of slights, and seemingly incapable of circumspection. He constantly brought people into the administration who betrayed him and his program, and he frequently lost or turned against people who either loudly supported him, or were even brought onto the team with great fan-fare. This, though in large part, has to do with the class nature of the swamp problem that Trump had been elected to deal with.

Ann Coulter, who had supported him with such enthusiasm but was furious about his treatment of Jeff Sessions, called him out for being lazy, though—as someone who understands a thing or two about laziness—I doubt if sloth would really be brought up against Trump on Judgment Day. I think a more impartial observer might just note how many fronts Trump had to fight on because he could not find a supportive administration. In any case, for all Trump’s human flaws—he was no media pushover. At every opportunity, he called out journalists for being liars. And his supporters loved him for it. And as that happened the journalists and Democrats became ever more hysterical—they quite literally preferred to watch cities burn in “mostly peaceful protests” than have Donald Trump restore law and order.

The thing about any real democracy is that no one really gets what they want. When, though, people are unprepared to sacrifice what they want on behalf of a good that has been reached through contestation by accounting for differences in interests, then democracy itself is simply an impediment to an interest. Naturally, an elite of educated people think their interest is irreproachable. Hence, nothing is more evident to our elite than the “fact” that they are the incarnation of the good, the true, and the beautiful; and their mission in life is to guide the rest of us in ways in which we can all benefit from their goodness, truth and beauty.

Along with universities and schools, the media are our great saviours. And, as it so happens, they have managed to almost all line up as members, or outspoken supporters of a political party, which provides the program, policy platform, and plenty of jobs, and government funding for those who share its interests. Which is why Trump supporters have been saying for four years, the media is now simply the mouthpiece of the Democratic party—and, again, no wonder more than half the country does not trust the Media.

Workers in the Media claim to represent the public interest—when I first wrote this sentence, I had used the term the “national interest,” but it is incorrect to think that journalists care about the “national interest” when they are no longer in favour of national borders and hence of national sovereignty. The idea that there is a public interest which can be discovered and represented by anyone other than an elected representative, or, failing that, someone appointed by elected representatives, is very dubious indeed.

Though, one of the most dubious ideas that has, with the acceptance of the narratives and norms of identity politics, been presented as self-evident is that a person who shares a particular feature with others—gender or sexual identity, skin colour, etc.—is ipso facto a representative of others with that same characteristic. Thus, a presidential victory for a woman, say Hilary Clinton, would have been a victory for all women. Apart from this line of thinking being very self-serving—you should vote for me, Hilary, because I am a woman and am able to express policies that are beneficial to all women, etc.—it is obviously so silly that it was only believed by those women who shared the same values and wanted the same political things as Hilary Clinton did—as was obviously the case when Sarah Palin was mercilessly mocked by women and men who did not share her politics, and never hesitated to think for a moment that her gender made her a representative of women’s interests.

Conversely, we know that even the people who insist upon representation based upon identity are quick to jettison the primacy of identity when someone who is a black, woman, Muslim, gay—whatever—departs from the normative script about how a black, woman, etc. should behave. It is, then, understandable why a US citizen would say that the policies or pronouncements of the president do not represent what they think or feel, or their interest. But journalists are no more representative of the public interests, than butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers. Indeed, the one thing that is glaringly obvious is that their life-experiences have nothing in common with a large section of the public.

The larger media organizations also appoint the people with the best educational pedigree, which is to say, and to repeat my earlier point, that they appoint people who think like the people who trained them in how and what to think about social and political issues. And although academics generally claim they encourage independence of thought—they rarely do. From the perspective of an academic, whose bread-and-butter commitment and economic renumeration are built around identity, someone who argues against the idea that women or blacks or LGBT or Muslims or whoever, experience the world as an oppressed group is simply not thinking.

Given that much more than half the population do not think like “identitarian” academics, bureaucrats, or activists indicates that at least half the population are not thinking—which is why, amongst other things, incorporating critical race theory into the training programs within public institutions and private corporations, having policies on pronouns, ensuring that hetero-sexuality and cis-gender-ism are de-legitimized within the school system are so important for making the rest of society get with the program. Thus, too, any journalists who do not go along with the various ethical proscriptions against values, which are now “obviously” conservative, white-supremacist, sexist, etc. must not be employed, and if presently employed, they have to be fired. Journalists, though, are only part of the “cabal”—to use Molly Ball’s phrase again—students, and indeed anyone with a moral conscience, is required to report on anyone who might say or think such things.

But the progressive sense of morality is as haphazard as it is bizarre as it is self-serving. Our journalists feel it their duty to scout out and destroy any non-black (they do not like—double standards are rife, of course) who somewhere, sometime used a word, irrespective of context, which is endlessly spouted in rap or street talk, while having no interest in the role that our Hollywood moguls, the super-rich, celebrities, rock stars, and well-heeled urban professionals play in supporting an illegal product, the production of which is predicated not only upon the murder of tens of thousands of people, including women and children, but the corrosion and corruption of states.

The journalists, who joined the celebrities who made such a moral to-do about open borders, rarely (if ever) connected the refugee problem with the recreational drug issue and the class of people who it involves—to be sure, not only, but primarily, its audience. The moral line, though, whilst haphazard in terms of content, is consistently self-serving—the greatest moral enemies, who must be hunted down and destroyed, are those who speak out against the progressive spin and program.

This too is why Big Tech had to get in line with universities and other corporations, who have an ethical brand/image to protect and ensure that none say things that are hurtful and harmful, whether it be racist, sexist, Islamophobic, etc. Journalists play their role by identifying anyone who is caught saying or doing something racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. Thus, the never-ending daily stories outing “Karens,” racists, homophobes, etc. It does not matter whether the culprit is famous or not—they will soon be infamous, and have their life pulled through the media, so that they will in all likelihood lose their job.

Though, given that celebrities and sports stars belong to the good, true, and the beautiful, the program benefits drastically by discovering that sometime, somewhere, some high-profile figure did something, or said something contrary to the speech required of the program. Of course, people being what they are, some get more chances than others. Biden and Bill Clinton were held to very different standards on the matter of sexual harassment than various other characters who lost their reputation and livelihoods for deeds far less nefarious than these two presidents were accused of doing.

In a previous age, accusations alone were not generally seen by journalists as adequate for destroying someone’s reputation and livelihood (though the press has always been willing to use this in exceptional circumstances, now it is commonplace).

So while the media has always had its nefarious tendencies, those tendencies were more easily mitigated by its more limited reach. That reach and media scale, though, have expanded over the decades to fill in the gaps left by a world where in the larger cities people’s daily lives are increasingly confined to smaller areas of “thick” social connections. Thus, the disparate levels of trust in the media are connected to the kinds of daily social interactions people have in larger urban centres in comparison with those of people in regional and rural areas. The urban centres are full of people who think they are very intelligent because of what they read, watch, and repeat to others who share the same sources of information and make the same associations—”How could you distrust The New York Times?” they think, shaking their heads in disbelief, when they watch some redneck say things they have long since branded as racist, dumb, or part of a conspiracy theory?

But those who don’t spend their free time watching movies, tv, or reading the newspapers because they think they are garbage, having little to do with reality draw upon a very different set of life experiences. Their experiences make them think: “How can those people push their heads so far up their own behinds they do not see the obvious craziness of what they are saying?” And, as much as it is a surprise to the city slickers, they don’t much care for people who don’t know them, calling them racists and rednecks and imbeciles.

They also don’t roll over and lie down and grovel when a wealthy group of people who have gone to the best schools, earn very good money, and are mostly white, berate them for being white privileged, even though most of them are struggling to meet their mortgage, car payments, kids’ school tuition, etc. They could not choose their colour and most of them have done their best with the far more limited choices at their disposal than the smarties who have gone to Yale or Stanford and speak of them as human trash. They put in to their communities, they are generally good mannered and friendly to strangers, and do not bear people ill-will without cause.

Of course, they know they have their share of bad eggs; but they generally know right from wrong, and don’t dream up smart phrases so that they can no longer tell one from the other. Calling killing a baby “planning one’s parenthood” takes real sophistication and does far more danger to one’s sense of reality than merely taking the sting out of one’s conscience—as is evident when the serious moral dilemma of sacrificing a child to save a mother’s life is put on the same moral plane as the argument that a growing creature in the womb is nothing more than a finger nail. But that is where our “learning” has taken us.

The deplorables might not have gone to these palaces of learning, but they know a con when they see it—they know the people who mock and belittle them can no more have gone to the best schools and been oppressed than 2 plus 2 can make 0. So they also are perfectly able to recognise that when someone says that any member of an oppressed group should be believed, he doesn’t really mean it. They know that the people who say this are habitual liars, who have so lost their moral compass that they do not know they are habitual liars. Hence they do not even notice how haphazard they are in applying their moral standards—if you have the right politics and if you have the right friends your past manslaughter (for the young Ted Kennedy), past black-face (Trudeau) won’t count any more than your sexual harassment.

As night follows day, moral violations become increasingly stupid—cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions join the kind of offences that Lenin, Stalin and their henchmen had to dream up to clear away the old elite to make way for the new. To know what is expected, thus, becomes impossible to consistently maintain. Likewise, the equivalent to the once good old Bolshevik has been discovered to be an enemy of human kind—they may think biology matters, they may have thought it was funny to display their lack of rhythm or inability to do black street talk, they may have dropped a wrong word in a joke. They will all be denounced—or if too important, the media will ensure that their past crime will disappear—all who are found out will publicly repent, hoping they can maintain their career and fame and/or status—and if they do get a second chance they will be at the front of the queue at the next public denunciation. Some will be cast into oblivion and their past deeds will go the way of Eric Coomer’s anti-Trump Facebook posts.

Again we can all see this; but one group has enabled this and thinks it is the way to making a better world; while those who have not lost their minds wonder what planet someone is living on who thinks that good grammar or wearing a sombrero to a fancy dress party is racist. And again, the fact that journalists as well as the rest of the cabal cheer along with this, only shows people who have real connections, relationships, commitments and concerns that they are completely devoid of any understanding of real suffering and real humanity. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” might have simplified the matter; but when kids were taught it and chanted it in schoolyards around the country they were reminding themselves and each other that they were resilient and need not wilt when someone said something mean about them.

There is, though, no wisdom in believing that people are so fragile that they will be shaken to their very core and might never recover from a mean or stupid slur. Contrary to what the average journalist and college teacher now seems to believe, people do not need an endless set of protocols, laws, and punishments to stop everyone saying mean or stupid things. People are generally very capable of telling people who are rude to shut up. But an elite who live off instructing people in how to behave need to amplify the pain and sorrow along with the scale of meanness so that it includes entire groups. They target groups by promising to deliver them from the pain of humiliation, and they offer careers to a small number who they can get into the club; but most of what they deliver are words, dependency, family break-down, and impoverishment at an economic and spiritual level.

What I have just described is familiar to everyone—the program is articulated and pushed by all manner of people in all manner of professions and though it is paid for, and backed up by punishment, its success come from the fact that the class which aims for total control of information, normative narratives and associations is every bit as socially powerful as the clergy were within Christendom (the blogger Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug, speaks of its core ideational commitment being akin to the Cathedral). Just as the Church was both the expression of the faith of its members, and a vast employment agency, the political success of the new clerics of the new faith has been in not only creating ever more employment opportunities within the public and private sector to expand their faith, but increasingly ensuring that people who do not embrace the faith become unemployable, and denounced (indeed it is telling just how often the word “denounced” is used today).

There is no real division over the facts about some people losing their careers for saying or doing certain things. But people are deeply divided over whether this control and suppression of speech is a good or just thing. Likewise, people are deeply divided over the key tenets of social justice, including the idea that a specific aspect or personal feature constitutes an identity. That idea, in turn, has becomes central to the demand about how to think about people who share the same features. But if one thinks this is a really bad idea, then none of the attempts to distribute opportunities and resources, based upon that essential feature (that essence), amount to anything other than bad outcomes.

Likewise, no matter how much one bullies or denounces them, many people simply cannot accept that the way to solve certain social problems has been best laid out by critical race theorists, queer theorists, post-colonialists, et al. Likewise, many people simply do not accept, in spite of being told repeatedly that they are stupid or evil if they don’t see all women, or blacks, or LGBT, etc. as more or less all the same because they are women, etc. One does not have to be a poor white to think Oprah is full of it when she identifies herself with the most oppressed people in America because of her race. One does not have to be white to think that not all whites are racists. One does not have to be a man to think not all men are rapists.

Likewise, one does not have to be gay to think gay people should not be persecuted. And people may disagree with the rights of a gay couple to be parents without wanting to harm gay people—whether rightly or wrongly they can provide reasons for why any child might be better prepared for life by having a mother and a father. On this, and everything else besides, people see things in very different ways; and lots of people do not like being told how and what to think. But for those who not only like being told what and how to think, but who like telling other people how and what to think, these people are the problem. And they should go and get a good education, and if they cannot get into a college, they should watch the tv shows and movies which tell them how to behave, and watch, listen to or read the right (I mean left) media.

All of this which is clear now to anyone who does not like the program, nor much care for screaming youth burning down buildings in the name of racial justice, nor journalists telling them that the looting and arson they have been watching is mainly peaceful, or telling them that Antifa members smashing windows in the Capitol as they marched with MAGA supporters were not Antifa people, was obvious to Tyrmand back in 1976. He wrote then that the media in the USA had not only “appropriated, and mastered all the potentialities and subtleties of contradiction,” but had “monopolized” them so that “nobody will be able to effectively contradict the media.”

By the 1960s, he observed, the media, had already “transcended the traditional areas of influence—politics, for one. Larger targets were sought, perhaps the American soul or the totality of American life, so that either of these could be encompassed and shaped according to commandments that were never made clear, but no doubt existed.” To this the only qualification I would add, is that politics had been redefined in the 1960s to coincide with the personal.

The divide taking place in the United States was between those who were controlling narratives, and the ordinary people who smelled something very fishy going on in the stories they were reading and hearing. Given that there may be readers who cannot access this essay, I quote at some length:

“In the democratic ethos, we try not to hate but rather to despise, scoff, disbelieve; bigots hate, but normal people are disgusted by something or can’t stand it. In totalitarian countries, normal people hate in ways that denizens in democracies are unable to comprehend. It is a dark hatred rooted in the necessity to live at the unmerciful mercy of those who hold an unassailable monopoly on governing, informing, and, speaking out. Sometime during the sixties, a similar revulsion sneaked into the feelings of many Americans. The suspicion that “that you can’t beat them whatever you do,” which seemed to have been forgotten since the pre-labour union subjugation to the company store, made its reappearance as the people took a stand against the gemmating power of the media. Vietnam, student unrest, the Black Panthers. Permissive mores, and Watergate—coupled with the absence of any serious and sustained expression of opposing views—triggered in many people something stronger than disgust. The official beatitudes of the freedom of the press were trumpeted as articles of faith and key to Americanism. And the more these were preached as our common good, the more obvious it became that not everyone can bask in them; that among all of us who are free to express ourselves, some are freer than others, and to such a degree their freedom becomes out enslavement. Against this accusation, the editor barons would understandably reply that nay limitation they imposed must be looked upon as. a technicality, such as not enough space to present contrasting views, whereas any demand for checks and balances from them would signify an eventual collapse of liberty. It became clear that if truth is the victim of censorship in the totalitarian state, in America it falls prey to the manipulations that breed bitterness, a sense of bondage, and finally, hatred. Of course, the hatred can’t be ascribed to too many—only those who care about accuracy and equity and are tormented by it.”

I think it fair to say that since Tyrmand wrote this essay, the hatred expanded along with the sense of self-righteousness of journalists, which had, in turn, grown along with the self-righteousness and certitudes about the obstacles to emancipation and justice within the universities. Then came the Internet and cable TV. Millions turned away from the traditional media to find a platform. Trump was not only far savvier than any other politician about how to use social media, but he also gauged who was using it and why.

Trump-haters and Democrats seem to have never understood the extent to which people turned to Trump simply so that they could think independently, simply because they were sick of friends, family and everyone else in their circle telling them X, when they themselves were curious enough to get onto the Internet and discover if what was being said about X was truth or lie. People discovered there were lots of lies—lots of fake news. Or as Tyrmand said back in 1976: “All in all, the idea of information has been reduced to the attitudes of modern liberalism.”

Thus, when the gay New Yorker and former liberal Democrat, Brandon Straka, put up his story on Youtube about how he was ostracized and bullied by his liberal friends when he could no longer reconcile what he saw and heard with his own eyes and ears with some of the claims being made about Donald Trump, his video went viral. Hundreds of people quickly followed and made similar videos telling their stories—some were gay, some were trans, some (quite a lot in fact) had voted for Obama or been strong supporters of Bernie Sanders in 2016 (some had even worked on his campaign). To be more precise, they all told the same story: as soon as they reported back to their friends and family that they had discovered on the Internet something which indicated that what they were all accepting as a fact was not a fact, they were bullied and ostracized, attacked on Facebook, or Twitter. They just needed a platform to connect with people who had been ostracized and bullied in the same way; they wanted to be reassured that they were not mad.

BuzzFeed quickly informed its readers, in all seriousness, that the videos of the Walkaway movement, as it became known as, were created by Russian bots. And as much as BuzzFeed, CNN et al. wished to brand as fake-news, the narratives, information and even experience which they wished to discredit, it was the extent of their own collusion in the Russia election interference narrative and such eagerness to find Russian bots as BuzzFeed had found that was pivotal in people refusing to read or watch fake-news, and dive deeper (the term “deep dive” became commonplace, along with such terms as, “go down the rabbit-hole,” “red -pilled”) into the seemingly endless investigations people were conducting from basements where they would interview people and find audiences from all over the globe.

What was becoming apparent, is that the Media had followed the universities in losing any authority with well over half the country. And again, anyone whose livelihood and prestige were based upon the status of where they had received their education or where they were working was directly affected by this rebuke. Naturally they would get angry and bite back. They were losing clients.

The theme of client loss was astutely and repeatedly and very vocally picked up by black youtubers like Candace Owens, Kevin from Kevin’s Corner, Karen Kennedy, Jericho Green, Anthony Logan, Diamond and Silk, the Conservative Twins and many more—their common message is that the Democrats are the plantation party, that they make permanent clients of blacks, and that the way to a better life for black Americans is not to be found by black men not taking responsibility for their families, turning to crime, becoming a crack addict or selling drugs in the neighborhood. Nor is it to be found in welfare money or other freebies and white leg-ups, like easier entrance conditions for college, which all cement one into a clientelist position. They know that the reason why anyone—except the lucky few, whose inherited fortune may cost them their soul—gets ahead is by behaving well, putting in an effort, going to school and working.

Generally, they don’t like white college kids urging on rioters to loot stores owned by blacks as well as whites. They don’t like poor blacks being the means by which some white or even black college kid gets credit in their social justice class. They don’t like seeing black neighborhoods destroyed, and creating the conditions of gentrification for people from elsewhere to later capitalize on by swooping up cheap property. And they also do not like what they see as the genocidal culling of the black population by abortion becoming a key plank in the Democrats’ social policy.

Thus, their refrain is: white liberals deploy the narrative of systemic racism and white privilege to beef up their own privilege, and they are prepared to sacrifice everything about America that has made it a wealthy and relatively free nation to achieve their ends. They do not think that the expanse of blacks into the middle class is insignificant or bad—what astonishes them is how ignorant so many white ostensibly educated people are who have no idea of the demographics of the blacks in the middle class or even below the poverty line.

In sum—they smell a rat—they call it (as anyone knows who listen to these pods) the “DemocRat.” No wonder they are called Uncle Toms—if too many blacks thought like this, the game would be up. In fact, the game would be up if too many people of any color, ethnicity, shape, or sexual proclivity just happened to think more along the common sense lines of Mum or Pop who work in a café, or a gas station, or run the corner store, than along the zig-zags and spaghetti-rationales coming out of the educated places which cost you a hundred grand or so to learn what to think.

Again back in 1976, Tyrmand asked the simple question: “Why should a tidy old lady who does not believe in welfare, and feels that democracy ought to defend itself against dictatorship, be called ‘pig’ by a mob of untidy wild-eyed detractors with hackles up?” The same mob, though now far more poorly dressed, were out in full force over last summer burning stores and looting in the name of George Floyd.

One image around that time, I found particularly arresting: it was of a young, white woman, possibly late teens or early twenties, yelling at MAGA supporters who were trying to protect their neighborhood from being burned to the ground, screaming, “I hope they rape your children and kill you.” It was the kind of derangement that the most of the media did not bother reporting, because there was nothing strange or wrong about it: she was fighting for the same things as “the cabal”, unlike that schoolboy with the MAGA hat who was hateful to a native American (the ethnic identity was very important) dancing around playing a loud drum and staring him down: the hateful act consisted of—looking back at him!

BLM’s call for defunding the police and opening up the prisons as the race riots (mainly led by white college kids, or the feral off-the grid dropouts who think the way to freedom is to burn the lot down, while waiting for blacks from the underclass to up the ante and be the visible face of the looting) was but a repeat of the refrain from the 1960s and 1970s. Their social vision was the legacy of 1960s and 1970s anti-establishment radicals who are now establishment educators, such as Angela Davies; she supplied the weapons that killed three people in the attempt to free her lover George Jackson from prison, and she is now a Professor at the University of California; Weatherman founder Bill Ayres—he was a partner with Obama in the 1990s in the education foundation he had initiated, the Chicago Anneberg Challenge, and it was from Ayres’ house that Obama launched his first senatorial run; and, one last example, Eric Mann, also a Weatherman leader, who had been imprisoned for conspiring to commit murder, and is now a full time activist and speaker whose star “pupils” include Obama’s green energy “czar,” Van Jones and BLM founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza. The list goes on and on.

Again Tyrmand’s observation about how the journalists of the 1960s had sided with the criminal class, and prison rioters, by blaming social conditions for their existence is perfectly apt for today’s journalists: “They would never mention that the prison rebellion by now an American folklore staple, is an offshoot of latitude and permissiveness…Over the last quarter-century, the liberals and their press have had their way with crime in America, but neither expanded welfare nor the most lenient judicial and penitentiary procedure have brought anything but the wildest proliferation of violence.”

The following passage by Tyrmand encapsulates what he calls “the deviousness of the factoid” of the contemporary journalist when it comes to the matter of race in a story:

“Time once reported how a black man in Detroit, in a fit of rage, killed his factory foreman and two other men. The story was peculiar in tone: the magazine did not condone the killing, but its social conscience extended to a comprehensive discussion of why this would occur in a racist sweatshop. Shortly thereafter I met on Broadway a Time editor I knew. When I conveyed my doubts to him, he replied: ‘The most amusing thing is that one of the victims was black too.'”

In sum, Tyrmand realized that the liberal position in the 1960s was already being shaped by radical journalists, writers and hip philanderers who lionized terrorists, prisoners, and murders, including those of your more garden variety thug, such as, Jack Abbott, as well as ones with a more far reaching-social program, like Huey Newton. Since then, though, that view of the world has now become the norm among the elite. Thus it was that Trump voters were only showing their ignorance when they took Antifa’s existence and destructiveness seriously. Antifa, as Joe Biden astutely noted, was not an organisation but an idea—which is, by the way, straight from Antifa’s own program.

Though the powers that be at CNN, NBC and Australia’s ABC unwittingly confirmed, when they paid for camera footage from an Antifa activist’s “live shooting” of “the insurrection” of January 6, that Antifa has human members and not just ideational ones. Indeed, had they been interested in finding out how Antifa is paid, or who is in it, and which journalists go along with it, they might have bothered to interview conservative youtuber and business man, Joe Oltmann who had done the kind of thing one used to associate with journalists: he went undercover to get a story about which journalists had connections with Antifa.

In that meeting he stumbled onto an even bigger story that the media would only ever refer to as a conspiracy story, if ever it was even mentioned: the director of product strategy and security of Dominion voting system—yes, the system used in over twenty-four states in the 2020 election—had been merrily posting on Facebook Antifa’s program, along with his vitriolic hate toward Trump and his supporters. They have since been disappeared. Oltmann says that he heard that director—Eric Coomer—say at that meeting there was no way Trump could win—he had, reported Oltmann, made “effing sure of that.”

It is possible that Oltmann may not be telling the truth, though having watched hours and hours of him on Youtube, he strikes me as far more believable than most journalists and politicians, who want to tell us what we must think not only about the election of 2020, but pretty well everything from the weather to geopolitics, and how to solve problems of race and poverty (which amounts to, believe what we say and vote Democrat).

But of all his many masterful insights, the one point that Tyrmand makes which speaks so much to our time is the way in which Media has set itself up as the Ministry of Truth. I could not agree more with Tyrmand’s observation that governments “in democracies are disposable.” This indeed is the very reason why democracies as such are more important than the government within them. Policies can be right or wrong, they can serve this or that interest, and they can be changed—which is not to say that changing them will always be easy.

But when the press supports a government or some set of policies which are no longer beholden to democratic processes, then this an altogether bigger problem.

There are many policies which have long since become unhinged from any democratic input, but the one that had most impact in so far as it led to Trump’s election and the compete upheaval within the Republican Party was, of course, immigration. (There have, though, been plenty of Republicans who have no idea of what has occurred and think they can continue to remain in power by being the diet version of the Democrats).

The battle over illegal immigration is really a battle over the power of demographics. Just as it is commonplace for states to engage in ethnic or religious population shifts, to dilute the political power that flows from a particular group’s demographics; an elite that has lost its base must dilute the power of the old one by recruiting a new base. This is as much an occurrence in Western Europe as in the USA. And just as multiculturalism was an elite consensus policy rather than a party plank in an election platform, the widespread tacit acceptance of illegal aliens within the country and the workforce was never subjected to electoral decision—and this was as true for the Republicans as for the Democrats.

After Trump’s election, though, the tactic was vehemently defended by the elite and the media by calling those who wanted national sovereignty, racists. Thus, too, the substitution of the word “migrant,” a word whose meaning contains the tacit ring of legality, for what had long been the descriptive term for people who refused to comply with legal entry requirements to the country—”illegal alien”—was orchestrated by the media and Democratic Party. It was a typical elite tactic—and it is seen as such by the base, who are not so stupid that they cannot see that their displacement is a major piece in the elite’s program. This is also why it was the most important reason for people who wanted to retain what little socio-economic power they still have and who have suffered from the destruction of their communities, the rising crime caused by a great influx of people with nothing to lose or little to fear from the police and legal system (which tacitly and often overtly condones their presence) to ditch the old Republican-style elite politics for Trump.

The media has always been mendacious and duplicitous and journalists lazy, and pretty sure that they know best—but the monumental lies the media has engaged in the past four years were simply more rabid because Trump’s base was fighting back. But as Tyrmand observes, the monumental lie was part of the media’s arsenal fifty years ago:

“As of now simplisms are secondary; monumental fallacies get erected; The managing editor of Time says coquettishly in an interview: ‘We could never quite figure out whether we were part of the Establishment, and if so, how to deal with ourselves.’ An absolutism firmly in the saddle begins to mince and simper, The Democratic Big Brother longs for love and camaraderie.”

I would just add that none any more is in doubt whether the media represent the Establishment. And as the Establishment, it knows that its job must be to ensure that certain truths never see the light of day. Yet fortunately for those who think that being brain-washed is having a moral conscience, is it a lie if the person ensuring that a truth does not see the light of day simply makes sure that no one actually investigates it because it is beneath them? (The sneer, the snoot, the guffaw and the eyeroll are the ever-ready-to-hand responses to anyone who thinks that they can quote any old conspiracy theory that has not been sanctioned as newsworthy by real journalists). Such was the key response of the media to the Biden family’s interests in Ukraine and China.

There was no shortage of evidence about Burisma, or Hunter Biden’s qualifications, or the family connections with China, or Joe Biden’s role in the show. It just wasn’t to be found in CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. and none of the journalists who worked in such places were interested in following up on the kind of information that Peter Schweizer or the Duran were regularly digging up—it was far more important to find out if someone else might have used the “n” word somewhere sometime.

Reading Tyrmand, whilst watching the moral and intellectual collapse of Western institutions, is a bracing affair. It reminds one how long the collapse has been going on. I very much doubt that even five or six years ago almost half the country would have thought that a coup could have taken place via election fraud. In spite of the media and Big Tech and academicians insisting that this is crazy talk, half the population believes it, and the question of which “evidence” is to be believed has been shut down, along with the de-platforming of ever more people from social media companies. The fact that the New York Times could publish an op-ed piece calling for the government to appoint a Reality Czar to eliminate “disinformation,” or that journalists say without blushing for shame at their own stupidity that millions of people need to be “deprogrammed” illustrates why the moral and intellectual collapse in the US is from the head down.

The biggest problem of all, though, is not solved by knowing how dumb and dangerous the ideas that are now the bread-and-butter beliefs of the elite in Western democracies generally and not just the US. The biggest problem is that all elites are bred over generations, and that the bad ideas that have been accumulating for more than two generations are now so instantiated in the universities, media, the schools, business, in legislation and political parties, and have become central to the way so many people speak and think, it is hard to envisage how they can be undone without it playing out to the bitter end.

Unfortunately, the bitter end also involves the geopolitical advantage that is created for enemies of the Western world who are the real beneficiaries of Western liberal democracies tearing themselves apart. Our species pays heavily for its sins—we think we are building a tower to heaven, but we fail to see all the pieces of what we are making, and by the time people can all see that what we have been making and are now using is a giant scaffold, it is too late: the propaganda merchants, the informants, judges, prison guards, executioners, et al. are already stakeholders in a system that they service and which pays their wages.

It is a great tragedy that our university teachers and journalists, and the elite, as such, think that their simplistic principles and programmatic solutions will solve the “problem” of oppression and thereby fortify the bonds of communal solidarity—and they really think they can achieve this globally. They are so arrogant and ignorant, they seriously think that Africans, Indians, Chinese, Central Asians, and Muslims—almost everyone outside the USA except Western Europeans, and other “satellite allies” such as Australia—love them and what they are doing. Communal bonds, though, are not the expression of abstract systems of ideas, but ultimately of human hearts; and human hearts, being susceptible to pride, sloth and the other deadly sins, are far easier to corrupt than to nurture and nourish through love, charity and forgiveness.

Were our ideas-brokers more attuned to the fragility, endless mutations, tragic colliding contingencies, and shreds and shards of decency and conviviality, and were they less sure of their own intelligence, far more skeptical of their ability, and more willing to reign in their ambition, they might just be a little better in understanding how vastly complex the forces of evil are, and how little any of us know, and how rarely our plans turn out the way we think they will.

Gaetano Mosca’s magnificent book Ruling Class makes the compelling case that all societies have a ruling class. The problem with our ruling class is that while they relentlessly screamed and shouted that a real estate mogul and reality TV star, who at least knew what half the country was thinking, was unfit to rule, the last four years have proven that they are the ones who have shown to that same half of the country at least how unfit they are to rule.

Their unfitness is all too evident in that the best candidate of their preferred party was someone:

  • who had pulled out of an earlier run because of plagiarism;
  • someone who had sung the praises of Democratic senator and one time KKK member Robert E. Bird (if the Democrats were consistent in accepting that we all make mistakes, this might not be seen as so egregious);
  • whose own Vice-President pick had implied was a racist during the Democratic run-offs – actually Fact Checkers provided the appropriate nuance for all the idiots who could not gather the sophistication of her criticism, which did not actually amount to racism: “Contrary to claims in viral internet posts, Sen. Kamala Harris did not call former Vice President Joe Biden a ‘racist’ or a ‘rapist.’ Rather, she has been critical of Biden’s position on busing to integrate schools and comments he made about segregationist senators, and she has said that she believed women who accused Biden of making them feel uncomfortable.” She did not call him out, though, for the sheer stupidity of statements about racial groups he seemed to endlessly conjure up to no specific end;
  • whose creepy hair sniffing and age inappropriate wink-wink banter with children could easily have made him tabloid mince meat;
  • whose claim to believe all women did not amount to a woman who accused him of sexual assault.

And that is before one even starts on the family corruption. The media have tried their best to cover up the China, and Ukraine money trails – but for anyone interested they might also want to look into “S.Res.322—A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on the trial, sentencing and imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev” and wonder why he was doing the biding of Russian oligarchs charged with tax avoidance. Normally one would not need to point out that Putin being an autocrat does not make these two plutocrats “good guys,” but with the successful rebooting of the Cold War it would seem that any opponent of Putin is on the side of the angels, irrespective of how much blood money is on their hands.

And, finally, there is the whole question of his mental state. Although the media made much of the question of Trump’s mental health, some half of the country could see that one guy could speak seemingly endlessly off the cuff to large crowds which had a party atmosphere, whereas the other conducted a campaign from the basement, and when he did go somewhere, one wondered where was everyone. And when he did something, the problem for his minders was not so much that he might babble something not coherent enough to do the grammatical damage that a sentence of Trump’s might do, but that he just might end up saying something grammatically correct, such as: “We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.” I am sure that many people did not know which was more hilarious—him saying that or that Fact Checkers had to say that, yes, he did say that, but the context indicated that that was not his intention and that he had misspoken.

All of this amounts to the fact that if the election were merely fortified and if Joe Biden was seen as the savior not only of the nation but the global order, then the USA and the world were in deeper trouble than anyone had heretofore imagined. Nevertheless, the media band played on and saw to it that we could all get behind “our Joe,” as if he knew exactly what he was doing – surely, the media line went, he had proved himself by his more than fifty years of public service by doing… apart from making himself rich, and bragging about his biff ability, none of them—or the rest of us—seemed to really know. The way the media spun it and even people way down here in Australia bought it, it was a choice between Trump and preserving everything good about everybody’s way of life on the planet: back to Paris, closing down coal mines, stopping fracking, boys being girls competing in school sports with girls and using their bathrooms, critical race theory shoveled down the throats of public servants, China back in the saddle as the chief beneficiary of US trade mishaps and geopolitical stuff-ups, getting those employed minorities back into their client position and the whole caboodle of what had been all going so swell until that Hitlerite orange turd stuffed it all up by wanting to get all Americans to work, get a better trade deal with China, apply the kind of immigration policies that are pretty well standard in every Western country, provide cheaper pharmaceuticals, avoid foreign military interventions, provide better support for the widows of veterans, and generally better pay for the armed forces, and greater support for the police, and defend traditions, such as, standing for the national anthem, and having the temerity to want to protect statues and the names of military bases of people who fought on the side of the confederacy.

And finally when “our Joe” won there was only one more hurdle: inauguration day. I heard a podcast from the American Mind where the discussants were saying how the spookiness of the image would be long remembered. Certainly the inauguration was unforgettable – an almost deserted Capitol, fenced in by razor wire and guarded by over twenty thousand (vetted) national guards protecting a masked inauguration from the great fear of another insurrection of those deranged Trump supporters, who all called for law and order, when the Democrats carefully explained why it was just and righteous that people express their rage against racism, why it was constitutionally wrong to use the national guard to stop looting and burning, why the party should defund the police, and provide more community education left-wing blah blah blah. And yet again at least half the country simply could not believe this was America; those who wanted this outcome saw only good things. Fox journalist Chris Wallace gushed it was “the best inaugural address I ever heard” – it was “part sermon, part prep talk.” The religious character of the whole show was a pretty common theme among the journalists—who gave the impression that they were as knowledgeable about authentic religious experience as Joe Biden seems to be about his own Church’s take on abortion.

So, while almost all the journalists were deliriously celebrating their victory, and while victors were soaking up and sniffing up the spoils that lay before them through their fashionable masks, relieved that all could now proceed according to the right way history should go, with them doing the driving, millions of people who would never have made it through the razor wire and guardsman, not because they were itching for a violent insurrection, but because they belonged to the other side—the outside—saw a greedy, self-serving, deluded bunch of grifters, bag men/women and non-binaries, liars, sycophants, and know-alls, prepared to do and say any and everything to get their way.

More charitably, and in some ways more importantly, they saw an elite who had lost touch with their support base. In part that is something of a consequence of the kind of elite a modern democracy produces: it produces an elite whose members do not especially think of themselves as an elite – they can have enormous wealth and influence, can go to the best of colleges, and yet because of a specific feature they may have – it all comes back to the same basic list: who they like to have sex with, or their skin colour, or religious heritage, etc.—can represent themselves as victims of more powerful forces. Indeed, it is almost a prerequisite of being an acceptable member of the elite to have some feature of one’s self which is on the “disadvantaged” list.

Being blind to oneself is the first step on the road to a completely fantastical view of reality. And that is what separates the elite as much as anything from the support base whose life-world is built upon day-to-day practicalities like putting food on the table for one’s family. Of course, everyone has to have food, but the elites are elites largely by virtue of assuring that the food will be there for them first.

Just as societies all require elites (contrary to the nonsense that the elite itself endlessly writes about the “common,” the “democracy to come,” or, “fortifying democracy”), the issue is whether the elite actually provides a service to its base. When it doesn’t, it may hold onto power for a substantial period of time, but to do so requires permanently surrounding itself with the equivalent of razor wire and the national guard, and doubling down by persecuting those who see them for what they are. When though the opposition is at least half the country that is quite a difficult trick to pull off. Communist countries managed it for two or so generations.

What also makes it difficult are the surrounding geopolitical forces which gravitate to the weakened state like vultures to carrion. These invariably unsettle the best laid plans of a group determined to control its internal opposition so that it either has to make diabolical pacts with, and/or errors of judgments about, its enemies. In either case it seals its fate. The USA had been a masterful practitioner of taking advantage of its enemies’ internal turmoil; but now its elite have ensured the continuation of that turmoil. One only has to note how the Muslim Brotherhood, whose end-game is a universal caliphate, had been rebranded as “moderates” under Obama’s watch.

Generally the success of the present elite has gone hand-in-hand with a complete overhaul and politicization of the military, intelligence and local policing agencies. The brazenly partisan justification given by officials and former officials from the FBI and CIA for the surveillance of Trump and members of his team in the presidential run showed anyone who believed in the old USA that non-elected officials believed they were the true representatives of the will of the people; and as such the people should comply with their will. Meanwhile the media had done everything it could to support its “deep state,” regularly feting officials and getting them to write op ed pieces or give interviews justifying why they were the real protectors of democracy and hence were largely operating against the president’s interests and orders. As bad as the press were back in the 1960s, journalists could at least see that non-elected state officials should be beholden to the electors and constitution.

The account I have given of what the media have enabled is dire. But it would be remiss not to note that half the population or so recognize that this America and its elite are rapidly destroying the great achievements of old America—independent mindedness, initiative and inventiveness, and the formation of solidarity across racial (an achievement to be sure that required a civil war), class, and religious lines, an America, that is, where people from so many hells-on-earth would do anything to share its blessings and fruits. They do not, as the elite insist, wish to denigrate or humiliate or confine to servitude black or any other people, who live by the law and contribute their energy to making a nation which used to be the beacon on the hill.

The success of the elite in capturing all the major institutions of the nation is serious. Though, perhaps not hopeless. Institutions naturally deteriorate over time, and either they are rejuvenated or die. Within the media, when AM radio was all but dead, Rush Limbaugh discovered an opportunity, and created a power-house that gave voice to millions who thought they had none. Youtube has also provided all manner of opportunities that provided an alternative to the lazy hacks, liars, and “firemen.” Though its success has bred reaction, which in turn has opened up new platforms. There can be no doubt that monopoly interests will use the present state to shore up not only its own economic power, but its social and political power.

It is not the job of authors or a member of the “intelligentsia” to tell people how to act; but it is evident that the university was the first site of almost complete cultural capture, and that those who believe in the old America will continue to lose their children to the elite that is doing all to destroy their liberty, if they wish their children to study in its elite (and even most of its non-elite) universities. Given the role of universities in being an indispensable site for the social reproduction of the professional classes, it is unlikely they can just be avoided. And those that have been lost have been lost. I see little chance for those who want a restoration without a sizable increase in the number of new universities which are as resolutely determined to provide a curriculum that will cultivate a generation that has not been ideologically brainwashed, and taught that their sexuality, or identity is the most fundamental aspect of their being.

Such a new university must cultivate the qualities of humility, appreciation of our limited knowledge, our tragic, error-prone, our “sinful” nature, whilst also engendering devotion to the tried and trusted institutions and forms of communal life which need rejuvenation—the family, and our places of worship. It must teach people how not to think in large (and quick-fix and ultimately vacuous) abstractions and formulae, but how to be attentive to the kind of practical details which need to be viewed with an open-minded understanding of the various possible outcomes and trajectories of any innovation or policy, legislative intervention. It must foster a spirit of genuine dialogue – though not with the dead and lost souls and ideologues who can only be attracted to a better place by it simply being so much better that they themselves renounce “the devil.”

This, though, also requires employers not employing people who think “woke” and have been corrupted by their “woke institutions.” The political success of the left has come through its culling of its opposition for employment opportunities – that is a smart move, and if the non-progressives do not do this, the progressives will continue their strategy of capture and destroy. On the other hand, what the left has done is lie and cheat; and their monuments are their ruins.

I think unless there is a willingness to build new universities, new schools, new tech platforms etc. That is, if there is not a willingness for people to build anew, this cultural revolution will not simply peter out, at least not until there are many dead. All the builders are taking a giant risk and of course, there are many doing this right now.

The risk might even lead to the break-up of the USA, which would be terrible, though less terrible than having it ruled by people who are ensuring mass destruction. Such a change will take at least a generation, probably two—which is how long it took to make an elite who have taken control and draped the Capitol in razor wire, as they protect themselves from figments of their own imagination with politically vetted troops.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.


The featured image shows, “The Yellow Press,” an illustration by Louis M. Glackens, October 12, 1910.

A Few Words About Julien Freund

He was born a hundred years ago, in January of 1921, in Henridorff, in the region of Phalsbourg, on the borders of Moselle Lorraine and Alsace. Four years ago, a tribute was organized for him and chaired by the philosopher and historian of ideas, Chantal Delsol, who is his former student, and who just recently mentioned her teacher on KTO, saying that she was “the pupil of Julien Freund,” thus, evoking a “medieval filiation” with her teacher, while stressing that he was Aristotelian.

Julien Freund.

Sociologist, philosopher, “political thinker,” Julien Freund’s originality is obvious. Jean-Philippe Vincent, economist, ever mindful of ideas, who recently published a book on conservatism, underscores this originality. He presents Freund as “one of the few political thinkers that France saw with the birth of the 20th century, along with Jacques Maritain, Bertrand de Jouvenel and Raymond Aron.” And he adds: “Of them all, however, he is the least known, even though his work has recently met with renewed interest…” Witness the book about him by Pierre-André Taguieff, and the reissue of Freund masterful book, The Essence of the Political, originally published in Paris, in 1965.

Taguieff describes Freund as the great “non-conformist,” and calls him a “dissatisfied liberal-conservative.” This is a rather fitting tribute to a man whose trajectory includes not only being the thesis supervisor of Chantal Delsol and Michel Maffesoli, but the one who introduced France to Max Weber (1864-1920) and Carl Schmitt (1888-1983). Freund was born on January 9, 1921 in Henridorff, in that part of the Moselle very close to Alsace, which is the homeland of the Alsatian dialect. His family came from a modest background. Emile, his father, a locomotive driver, was a socialist sympathizer. Marie Anne Mathis, his mother, was a peasant. He was the eldest of six children. His secondary education was in Metz and Sarrebourg. At the age of fifteen, he began the Première Superieur at Fustel de Coulanges high school in Strasbourg. His father died in 1938. He had to stop studying to take up a post as a teacher in Hommarting, a locality west of Henridorff, formerly under the abbeys of Marmoutier and Wissembourg.

Then, war broke out. Following an attack carried out by school children, Freund was held hostage by the German army in his hometown. On November 11, he was detained in Sarrebourg. The next night, he escaped. Together with a train-full of deportees, he was able to get to Clermont-Ferrand and join the displaced University of Strasbourg. While completing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, he became an activist in the Liberation movement of Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie. Arrested in June 1942 at Clermont-Ferrand, then in September at Lyon, he was, along with Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950), one of the defendants in the Combat trial. While incarcerated, he managed to escape from the fortress of Sisteron on June 8, 1944, joined a communist maquis and shared the struggle of the FTP in the Basses-Alpes and Drôme. He then discovered that the leader of the maquis was settling his personal accounts with a young woman who was his mistress, accusing her of “working for the Gestapo.” The leader had the woman shot by his men, after a sham trial.

Freund was the only one defending the unfortunate woman. Rough schooling at twenty-three…

Back home, he devoted himself to politics, briefly enlisting in Moselle, under the banner of the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance (UDSR). In June 1946, he resigned. He was preparing for his agrégation in philosophy, which he received in 1949, and was appointed high school teacher in Metz. He profusely read Aristotle (Politics, Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics). “I was twenty-eight. It was a real eye-opener. I had broken out of representational idealism, and metaphysics mattered again.” By way of Aristotle, he understood what dialectics was, holding that man is a political animal. He read Machiavelli, Hobbes and Bodin. He discovered Carl Schmitt, through one of his books found in the street. In April 1959, he met Schmitt in Colmar and asked him substantive questions. His interest in this German thinker, who had published in the Catholic review, Hochland, in the 1920s, before joining the Hitler regime in 1933 from which he was dismissed in 1936, earned Freund derogatory criticism.

To overcome the disappointment born of his political commitments, Freund embarked on the preparation of a thesis which would become the source of his masterly book, L’essence du politique (The Essence of the Political). The first hundred pages of his project shocked the pacifism of Jean Hyppolite (1907-1968), a specialist in the works of Hegel and Marx, to the point that the latter indicated to Freund that he must find another thesis supervisor. Hyppolite, whose student Freund was in Strasbourg, was hugely complicit in academic Marxization, and who could not bear to read: “There is no politics except where there is an enemy.” This was one of the teachings of Carl Schmitt that Freund retained. The same evening, Freund wrote to Raymond Aron (1905-1983) to ask him to make up for the defection of Hyppolite.

Freund defended his thesis on June 19, 1965 at the Sorbonne. The title was. Essence et signification de la politique (The Essence and Meaning of Politics). His thesis supervisor was Raymond Aron who had enthusiastically accepted. Raymond Polin, Pierre Grappin, Paul Ricoeur and Jean Hyppolite also sat on the jury. Aron took the floor: “I would like to greet Mr. Freund, who will support this thesis which I find brilliant, but I would also like to underline the fact that he is a resistance member. That a resistance fighter could have done such a thesis is extraordinary. This is why I am asking you to stand in support of him.”

As for politics, Freund provided a definition that he would use again in L’essence du politique. In line with Aristotle, he maintained that his goal was not to build the kingdom of good feelings, but to work for the “common good” of political unity and to ensure its internal harmony and external security. He affirmed that “politics is an art” rather than a profession; it has little to do with “management,” as a young Minister of Finance, elected to the Presidency of the Republic in May 1974, would have wanted. It comes under “the art of decision.” Politics involves, at the domestic level, the relationship between the private and the public. And, by its nature, it deals with “the dialectic between friend and foe” which governs foreign policy.

Freund supported the autonomy of politics, both economically and culturally. The categories of politics are, in the first place, the relation of command and obedience: it is the presupposition or condition of order that all politics aims to establish or guarantee. A point that he develops in particular in Utopie et violence (Utopia and Violence), where he asserts that “the primary purpose of politics is to regulate the exercise of violence… to compress it within limits which can only be transgressed in exceptional circumstances.” Tough on the excesses of utopianism, Freund asserts that politics cannot be irenism, because it consists in “knowing how to envisage the worst in order to prevent it from happening.”

We must not forget his regionalist profession of faith, which says that “the region is a territorial counter-power, whereas we always imagine counter-powers to be located in the center, in Paris. The region as a counter-power is a condition of civil liberty. In France we talk about decentralization. Unfortunately, that is still done by the center. Regionalization is another logic. Freedom is no longer simply the expression of a grant, but that of a freedom of people who live in a certain territory, in a certain tradition, Champagne, Breton, Alsatian or Provençal. These people must have institutions—under the conditions of the constitution—where they can express themselves differently.”

Then followed a very active university life in Strasbourg. In 1965, he was elected professor of sociology at the University of Strasbourg, where he was the main founder and Director of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Then, he founded the Institut de polémologie de Strasbourg, in collaboration with Gaston Bothoul (1896-1980 ). After that, in 1967, came Centre de recherches et d’études en sciences sociales (the Center for Research and Studies in Social Sciences. Next, in 1972, he launched the Revue des sciences sociales de la France de l’Est (Journal of Social Sciences in Eastern France), followed by Centre de recherche en sociologie régionale (the Center for Research in Regional Sociology) in 1973. Freund taught at the Collège d’Europe in Bruges (from 1973 to 1975), then across the Atlantic at the University of Montreal (1975). All this time, he published a number of articles and books, which followed his magnum opus (L’essence du politique). He was deeply interested in Georges Sorel (1847-1923), the demystifier of “collective happiness,” in Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923), and Georg Simmel (1858-1918) who died in Strasbourg.

To devote himself to his books, Freund refused a post at an American university on the East Coast, where Raymond Aron was chair. At the end of the 1970s, he took early retirement and settled in Villé, a charming town which was once a Habsburg seigniory, and where he now rests. His wife, Marie France Kuder was born there. He had met her in Gergovie during the years of resistance. She was the daughter of the great Alsatian painter, René Kuder (1882-1962), who lived in Villé. To those who were surprised at his refusal to come and settle in Paris, he mischievously replied: “Kant lived in Königsberg and not in Berlin.” He liked to go to the nearby forest to meditate. A Catholic, Freund reconnected with the faith of his ancestors after years of relapse which followed adolescence; he liked to meditate in silence. Quest for the vertical dimension: “Transcendence is that through which we come to God.” Concern for transcendence was a strong constant in his life, and very rarely emphasized.

A great reader of the Russian Lev Chestov (1866-1938) and supporter of his negative theology, which he liked for its “insolence and impertinence,” and as well an admirer of his book, Athens and Jerusalem, Freund cursed the claims of scientism to erase metaphysics and religious faith. In his secret garden there was a figure of Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179), who was loved by Emperor Barbarossa (1122-1190). Sensitive to art, Freund, the joyful pessimist loved Shakespeare (1616-1654), the evocator of the furies of the world.

A dedicated European, he was close to Robert Schuman (1886-1963) in the aftermath of the war. The fate of Europe was close to his heart. He was sorry for its refusal of power. His summary of Europe in La Décadence (Decadence) makes him the first historian on the subject of Europe. “Civilizations are mortal.” He does not just quote Paul Valéry, he questions history, analyzes the facts. He reminds the indifferent: “Europe was the first world civilization. And there haven’t been another since, and there cannot be any more, unless we find men two thousand or three thousand years from now. It was Europe that discovered all the lands of the wide world. It was not the Chinese who discovered Europe. It was Europe that discovered China. It was not the Americans or the Indians who discovered America and the Indies. And suddenly this Europe, which was present everywhere in the world, withdrew to its borders, in the space of fifteen to twenty years.”

He thought that “Europe will be made militarily, or not be made. It’s a matter of life and death. Anyone who is not ready to defend Europe militarily, I will go not go along with him, even if he also makes fine speeches.” He noted that a suicidal Europe does not care about its demographics, which is “an indifference bordering on carelessness.” Sharing the concerns of Pierre Chaunu (1923-2009), he emphasized that “The drop in birth rates is one of the signs of renouncing life, either to selfishly enjoy the present, or out of fear of the future. In this case, it is the expression of the refusal to defend the values of the civilization to which one belongs.” He also said: “Europe is not yet on the brink. There are therefore sufficient opportunities and potentials to affect a recovery, provided they are exploited in accordance with the traditional European spirit, educated by criticism. Indeed, the incomparable capacity for invention and creation which has always characterized European civilization is based on a critical spirit, ignored by other civilizations, and which is at ease both in analysis and in synthesis, and, thus, broken to overcome contradictions. The day the Europeans make the mistake of abdicating this critical ingenuity, they will also lose its political corollary, namely, the benefit of their freedoms. Then decadence will be truly consummated.”

The evil that is eating away at Europe? For Freund, it resided “in irrational credulity in a possible going beyond faith.” He argued: “All known civilizations, large or small, rudimentary or developed, have drawn their strength and duration from religion, whether animist, polytheist or monotheist. A civilization decays when the faith or beliefs that animate it die out.”(11)

On September 10, 1993 in Colmar, Freund died prematurely, in his seventy-second year. For his funeral mass, he wished that the Dies irae be sung. At the time of his retirement, he vowed “to be able to contribute effectively to the renewal of metaphysical thought” On the eve of his death, he wondered about the consequences that the “shock wave” would have of the upheavals in Eastern Europe. He worried about the disorder of minds, the loss of meaning, the confusion born of impolitics, the ravages of scientism and economism. His Essence de l’Economique (Essence of the Economic), a book of precious reflections on a subject that remains very topical, reinforced by the thunderous discourse of the followers of “happy globalization” who criminalize identity ties, seeing the future only under the auspices of the leveling out of differences. Freund cursed “the illusions of progress;” and, once again, reminds us that Europe, which is disappearing, discovered the world.

Those who had the privilege of meeting him, safeguard the memory of a righteous man, generous with his time, anxious to share his convictions. A man of clear language, poles apart from the jugglers who now encumber the political field.


The article comes courtesy of L’Ami hebdo (L’Ami du peuple hebdo), the oldest journal in Alsace, France. Charles Haegen is a pseudonym, perhaps that of a monk who lives in the region of Strasbourg. (Translated from the French by N. Dass).


The featured image shows, “Aveugle au baton” (“Blind Man with Stick”), drawing by René Kuder, dated 1922.

England’s Intrigues Before World War I

In a less ideological cultural world, Helmut Roewer’s investigation of the crucial role of the English government at the outbreak of World War I would be taken for granted. What Roewer diligently uncovered should not astonish any expert. The trick is that the author reveals to us what the anti-German intelligentsia has hidden or pushed aside for decades.

It has long been clear that Fritz Fischer and his followers could only prove the thesis of the belligerent German Second Reich, which triggered a Europe-devouring war for world domination, only by disregarding numerous sources. When the quirks attached to the Fischer thesis became apparent, anti-German historians like Hans-Ulrich Wehler and my dissertation supervisor, Hajo Holborn, tried again and again to patch up the fabric of the usual narrative. At least for me the measure was too high when I encountered an assessment of this kind by the German-American historian Fritz Stern forty years ago, who was serious when he said: Even if the Fischer thesis is not uniformly consistent, decency demands that we accept his botch-up out of moral considerations, in order not to let German nationalism out of the bottle.

How The Sole Guilt Thesis Began To Falter

In the meantime, numerous younger historians around the world have dispelled the sole guilt thesis. The burden of guilt was thus shifted to the Tsarist Empire and France, without dropping the position as a whole, that the Central Powers were most to blame for the outbreak of war. Every now and then the Serbian government is brought up and its connections with the assassination attempt on Franz Ferdinand and his wife are properly noted. It is also permissible to address the mobilization of the Russian armed forces along the German-Galician border on August 1, 1914. That was a pathogen that brought about the German declaration of war against Russia and the attack on Russia’s ally, France.

It is also permissible to point out that the French and Russian governments discussed war measures against Germany and Austria-Hungary in June 1914. On June 22, 1914, French President Raymond Poincaré assured the Russian Foreign Minister that if the Russians took up the fight first, they would enter into disputes against the Central Powers. The Australian historian Christopher Clark also added that neither the Central Powers nor the Entente allies could have imagined the extent of the devastating war. At most, the armed forces expected a “short, limited war” at the beginning.

In addition to this post-Fischer pattern, the Austrians allowed the outbreak of war through the enormous demands placed on Serbia. And the German government went catastrophically astray when it issued the Austrians a “blank check” to proceed against the hostile Serbs. The Central Powers are far from being absolved of all guilt.

Why England Has Received So Little Attention Thus Far

Helmut Roewer (here in the BN interview) now looks at the English way into the First World War in On the Way to World Domination. The contribution of the government of Sir Edward Gray, the British Foreign Minister, to the start of the war is under-emphasized for two reasons. The English are typically portrayed as partial outsiders in relation to the approaching storm. While they were allied with France and Russia against the Germans, the impression still exists that England was forced to make war on Germany because the neutrality it guaranteed for Belgium had been violated by the German armies. Until now, England’s concern has been recognized that a defeated France would have given Germany preponderance of power in Europe. Despite its initial wavering, England threw itself into the breach to ward off the aftermath of a devastating German victory. In addition, “liberal democratic” England enjoys a higher political value than the German Second Reich, which for the leading intelligentsia was already considered an authoritarian regime at that time.

England Wanted To Isolate Germany Since 1905

Historians, such as, Harry Elmer Barnes and Christopher Clark, who emphasize the shared responsibility of the armed forces on both sides for the outbreak of war, are somewhat sparing of the English government. They consider the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Gray, to be a minor player in the events that took place in August 1914. But because the Germans got the ball rolling, illegally overran Belgium and threatened France, did the English feel pressured to plunge into the fray. Roewer, on the other hand, focuses on the precarious foreign policy of the Gray government of 1905, which was aimed at isolating the Germans from the other European powers. Enemy encirclement was known to be successful and England benefited economically and politically from it.

To confirm his thesis, Roewer expands his field of vision retrospectively, from the run-up to the war to the long road leading to the outbreak of war. From this point of view he tries to measure the extent of the responsibility of Gray and his government confidants. It would be misleading, according to Roewer, to examine the war crisis that intensified in the summer of 1914 without a background that included the British government. Since the creation of his coalition government, the key figures in Gray’s cabinet had been trying to forge an anti-German front with the French and Russians. Influential press barons and the warring party in the cabinet discussed the “war in sight” behind the scenes, without the knowledge of the less contentious cabinet ministers, who were left in the dark.

Did England Plan World War I Together With The USA?

Immediately after the first act of war, Gray made the decision to weigh his country into the fray. He admitted this in his memoirs published after the war. On the other hand, Roewer’s attempt to assign the American government and the banking industry in the USA a steering role in the anti-German intrigues of Gray, Churchill and the like, is less convincing. The American elites of the time were determined to ensure an English victory. But that in no way justifies that something like divided war planning was going on.

Despite the participation of the American upper class in the English cause, it cannot be inferred thereby that the two countries forged a war plot with each other before the shooting started. If one wants to paraphrase the foreign policy of the Wilson government from 1914 until the declaration of war against Germany, then one can say that it was capable of doing everything possible to ensure that the British gained the upper hand over the Germans—but without entering the war directly. That was definitely not true neutrality. However, as Justus Doenecke abundantly demonstrates in his balanced treatment of Woodrow Wilson’s neutrality policy, the American president, who was admittedly pro-British, wanted to maintain a middle course between the war—inducing WASP Republicans and the anti-war elements in the Democratic Party.

Either Way, The US Was The Big Winner Of The First World War

Wilson never contained the wave of pro-British or anti-German sentiments of his colleagues; but he was willing to favor the British side without sending American forces to Europe. The German re-use of submarine weapons in 1917 to relieve the British hunger blockade allowed the American interventionists to force Congress to join the war. Without glossing over these machinations, it is fitting to make a distinction between American participation in British preparation for war and pro-British partisanship.

There is no question that the United States had many alternatives during the First World War that would have allowed it to maintain its position of power without using armed forces against the Central Powers. The American government was able to mediate peace, a prospect that the British, more than the Germans and Austrians, let slip away. Even a negotiated victory in favor of the Central Powers would hardly have brought the USA to its knees. They would have stood out brilliantly as the world power of the future, regardless of which side in Europe had better weathered the atrocities.

English War Propaganda Extremely Effective

How the ruling class was attuned, however, had to be taken into account. The committed Morgan banking house extended piles of bonds to the British, while the American ammunition manufacturers supplied arms to the Allies as often as possible. But that was hardly a coincidence. Those involved acted in this way because they were inclined to the anti-German or pro-British side. One has to come to this conclusion without treating the Central Powers as the more morally blameworthy side.

It was just as relevant that the English were more proficient with their war propaganda than the Germans. Common language, sensible use of the transatlantic telegraph wire, and the ability to effectively address the sensitivities of American elites and to shape them appropriately were inexhaustible advantages for the English advertisers. This in no way means to justify the American government’s course of war. The aim is to explain why the American involvement in the war happened. And there is no need to point out a conspiracy to understand this urge to intervene in war.

It was different with the English. A bustling cabinet cabal managed to enflame feelings on the continent. Roewer’s treatment of the history of American development up to the American entry in World War I therefore lags qualitatively behind his presentation of the English cabinet’s schemes. In the latter case, he limits his investigation to the actual warmongers without, as Fritz Fischer did with the Germans, degrading an entire nation. With the English, Roewer differentiates between the guilty and the rest who had been duped and lied to. With the Americans, on the other hand, he is not so careful with the innocent.


Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is the Raffensperger Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Guggenheim recipient. He is the author of numerous articles and 15 books, including, Antifascism: Course of a Crusade (forthcoming), Revisions and DissentsFascism: The Career of a ConceptWar and DemocracyLeo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in AmericaEncounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and TeachersConservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards A Secular Theocracy, and After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State. Last year he edited an anthology of essays, The Vanishing Tradition, which treats critically the present American conservative movement.


The featured image shows, “General Officers of World War I,” by John Singer Sargent, painted in 1922.