The Pillory and the Changing Times

We are deep in the throes of cognitive warfare. All means are good, even atavisms such as the pillory stocks are experiencing a renaissance. After all, people who endanger the mental peace of our small republic by thinking for themselves or even conducting research must be made known to the public. This is apparently considered democratic these days—in a country where—thank God!—every murderer enjoys the right not to be unabashedly paraded before the public.

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) has also afforded itself such a noble pillory stock. And lo and behold, we do know the first head put in it—it’s Patrik Baab. He can be seen in an illustrious group; he is presented as one of 44 “biased observers.” The accusation: “Baab claims that he was in the occupied territories to do research as a journalist.” So he only claims that? So Baab is being accused of lying?

The List of Enemies

Other heads are also listed, especially many of those from the AfD who have been denounced. The most prominent protagonists on this list are: Sergey Filbert, Gunnar Linnemann, Alina Lipp, Andreas Maurer, Thomas Röper and Alexander von Bismarck. What they all have in common is that they do not agree with the German government’s view of helping Ukraine to victory by any means necessary and thus suspending diplomacy.

They are therefore lined up here as “enemies” because they think differently, politically, and take a different geopolitical perspective. In Patrik Baab’s case, his journalistic reputation is also being denied and his research trip for his book, On Both Sides of the Front, is being classified as a pretext for reporting in a Russia-friendly manner—the court ruling by the Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein, which classified Kiel University’s withdrawal from the contractually agreed teaching assignment as null and void, explicitly expresses the freedom of the press component of Baab’s trip.

In addition to the violation of the right to one’s own image and possible copyright infringements, we are dealing with a much more serious accusation here: The EPDE has posted a list of enemies on the internet at its website. Since 2021, there has been criminal law protection against such listings. § Section 126a of the German Criminal Code (StGB), Dangerous dissemination of personal data, explains:

Anyone who publicly, in a meeting or by disseminating content (Section 11 (3)) disseminates personal data of another person in a manner that is suitable and, according to the circumstances, intended to put that person or a person close to them at risk of

  • a crime against them or
  • other unlawful act directed against them against sexual self-determination, physical integrity, personal freedom or against property of significant value

is punishable by a custodial sentence not exceeding two years or a monetary penalty.

The case of Walter Lübcke was the impetus for the punishment of such lists. The district president of Kassel was on such an enemy list.

EPDE—Non-Profit and Democratic?

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is based in Berlin. It is made up of various European election observation platforms. It was founded in Warsaw in 2012. The “EPDE encourages, trains and supports experts and citizens who are committed to transparent and equal electoral rights”—the current chairwoman is Stefanie Schiffer. The EPDE defines itself as a non-profit organization.

Supporters of the EPDE are: The Federal Foreign Office, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission, The Greens / EFA, Transparency International Armenia, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Marion Dönhoff Foundation, the Open Russia Foundation and the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation.

The list of supporters gives a deep insight into the political positioning of the EPDE. However, this poses a problem: Political activity and non-profit status do not go hand in hand. In 2020, the Federal Fiscal Court revoked the non-profit status of attac, an organization critical of capitalism, and thus removed the associated tax privileges – attac had initiated many campaigns for possible reforms, but the declared aim of attac’s statutes was “political educational work”. The Federal Fiscal Court ruled that the campaigns exceeded the declared objective – therefore it could no longer be assumed that attac was a non-profit organization.

We will leave open at this point whether this judicial decision was politically motivated or not—however, the EU Commission recommends that the German government should not offset charitable and political activities against each other. Of course, it is reluctant to do so, as this practice simply opens up too many possibilities. According to this legal situation, however, it looks as if the EPDE has long since left the realm of non-profit status with this list of enemies.

When asked about the EPDE’s non-profit status and the fact that it presents “fake observers,” Stefanie Schiffer wrote: “Politically motivated election observation distorts the public perception of the quality of electoral processes and thus undermines the work of professional and independent election observation missions such as those of the OSCE/ODIHR or the members of the EPDE, which adhere to international quality standards. It is in the public interest to receive information about systematic attempts to imitate election observation and whitewash fraudulent elections.”

Turning Point and Rupture of Civilization

In 2018, the EPDE protested against being classified as an “undesirable organization” in Russia. You may think what you like about the law on so-called “undesirable organizations” introduced in Russia in 2015, but there could be good reasons why an organization that is supported by a ministry in another country is not welcome there. Even before the war in Ukraine, the EPDE was considered a political instrument of the West in Russia. Without having to take the Russian perspective, there seems to be no question that the EPDE is politically involved.

Chairwoman Stefanie Schiffer rarely speaks out in public. In August 2021, she wrote an article for Die Welt, together with Slavic studies professor Gerhard Simon entitled, “Warum Berlin der Ukraine helfen muss” (“Why Berlin must help Ukraine”). Six months before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, she encouraged German foreign policy to ignite this powder keg in Eastern Europe and anchor Ukraine in the West. In the article, she is just presented as the “founder of the German-Ukrainian platform Kyiv Talks.” Nevertheless, this indicates where the EPDE is positioned.

With the best will in the world, however, the presentation of a list of enemies cannot be reconciled with the self-declared aim of promoting “democratic electoral processes throughout Europe.” Yes, according to general democratic ideas—and in accordance with Section 126a of the German Criminal Code (StGB)—this is actually an attack on democratic practice. This is because people with divergent political ideas are being paraded and in some cases criminalized. This practice can put them at a disadvantage in social life—and yes, let’s tell it like it is: they made into targets, without explicitly saying so.

The pillory was used in the Middle Ages and later, during the fascist break with civilization; dissenters were paraded in a very similar way. When an organization that puts democracy on its agenda takes this up, it has lost its compass—if it ever had one. We are encountering the turning point everywhere these days. And it consists of more than just billions in injections for armaments—it is a concept of refeudalization and de-democratization on many levels. The EPDE should be an “undesirable organization” for anyone who still wants to take democratic standards seriously.


Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Overton Magazin.


The State of the West Today

An interesting online conference recently discussed a range of pressing topics, including fascism, LGBT rights, rigged elections, and anti-Russian propaganda. The conference was attended by:

  • Oleg Ivanov the leader of the Estonia political movement “Koos;”
  • Andres Raid, a journalist and public figure from Estonia;
  • Leena Hietanen, a journalist and public figure from Finland;
  • Baptiste Quetier, a blogger and French teacher from France.

The host of the conference was Marcus Godwyn of the Our Days News channel.

In the conference, Oleg Ivanov, spoke about the world’s tolerance for fascism and compared fascism in Germany with the fascist oppression of Russians in the Baltics. He noted that if this attitude continues, it will be legalized.

Marcus Godwyn, expressed similar sentiments and saw no objective reason for the Baltic states to blame Russia. He also criticized Europe’s policy, which he believes is leading to a third world war with Russia.

Andres Raid spoke about the low tolerance for people who do not support LGBT rights in Europe and how this is becoming a police matter in some countries. He also expressed concerns about rigged elections and media bias, stating that he did not believe in the results of Estonia’s electronic voting system.

Leena Hietanen, argued that the attitude towards Russians in the Baltics is similar to what is happening in Ukraine and criticized the West’s anti-Russian campaign, which she believes is very costly for ordinary people. She also expressed her opposition to war with Russia, noting that Finns should know that they would always lose.

Finally, Baptiste Quetier, a blogger and French teacher from France, discussed the build-up of discontent within French society and the acceptance of pedophilia as normal behavior, and the anti-Russian propaganda of official political France. He also noted that more and more people no longer believe mass media and feel that something is wrong with the system.

The goal of Our Days News channel is to arrange conferences featuring participants from all corners of Europe. These gatherings aim to examine European matters from diverse regional viewpoints and to provide a comprehensive and impartial outlook of the continent.


Slavisha Batko Milacic is an historian and analyst from Montenegro.


Propaganda Fairytale of the “Mainstream Left,” or When Fans of Capitalism Converge with Marx

Whether arms deliveries, “human trafficking” for the labor market, or authoritarian paternalism, government and media like to market this as “left-wing reason.” Der Spiegel even uses Karl Marx to propagate “green capitalism.” In truth, the rulers are deliberately deceiving us.


They once fought against domination and exploitation, for workers’ and women’s rights. Many felt their chains and joined them. The left was once the thorn in the side of the owners of capital and their ruling lobbyists. The history of industrial capitalism is paved with strikes and revolts that were bloodily put down. The enemy was visible.

Today, in the age of digitized monopoly capitalism, it is different. With psychologically ever more sophisticated propaganda, the rulers have successfully ensnared, manipulated and appropriated their adversaries. Even more—they disguise themselves as their former opponents. They boast of leftist ideas, such as anti-racism, cosmopolitanism, health and environmental protection, while their actions to the contrary reveal their hidden hypocrisy, time and again.

Der Spiegel, the obvious flagship for the dissemination of the fairytale of a supposedly “left-wing mainstream,” now even uses Karl Marx and his Das Kapital to propagate the vision of “green capitalism,” presumably conceived in some thinktank of the super-rich. The headline is emblazoned above the paywall as a lure for left-liberals “by instinct” and an indignation-trigger for right-libertarians: “Greener and fairer—Was Marx right after all?” Sounds as if the author of Das Kapital had once thought about reforms for capitalism. That’s sheer nonsense, of course.

Abuse of Leftist Masterminds for the Purposes of Domination

First, Marx’s Das Kapital is an early scholarly work on the workings of capitalism. The author analyzed the system with an eye to conditions in the 19th century. His findings certainly shed light on understanding its visible development to today. For example, Marx described the systemic concentration of capital, i.e., accumulation, and explained why this inevitably leads to the formation of monopolies. Such do visibly dominate the world economy and politics today.

In many other philosophical works—in contrast to Das Kapital—Marx sharply criticized capitalism. He opposed the exploitation of wage-earners by the owners of large means of production. Of course, Marx did not want to reform capitalism, as Der Spiegel would like us to believe. He certainly did not call for giving capitalist governments and states more power. His view of things was different: the state in a class society is the instrument of power of the rulers.

In truth, Der Spiegel propagates exactly what Marx, and later Lenin, had warned against: the total fusion of monopoly capital and politics as a consequence of accumulation—colored “green,” enforced in an authoritarian manner. For some, the vision of “less profit” certainly sounds tempting.

But taken to its logical conclusion, “less profit” by no means entails a renunciation of the rule of the few over the many. For most of the history of class societies, power has not depended on profits at all. The basis for rule has always been, at least as Karl Marx saw it, private ownership of the means of production. And of course, neither the government nor Der Spiegel want to shake that.

Fairytale Lesson about Capitalism

Der Spiegel also suggests that super-rich technocrats from Silicon Valley have stolen their ideas of regulating “nanny-states,” supposedly in favor of the environment, from left-wing masterminds. Put simply, that these are somehow leftist ideas. This is, of course, a misdirection.

But such a lie, put into the world in a roundabout way, brings a decisive advantage to the rulers: the people stop thinking about their fundamental situation in capitalism when they assume that “the leftists” are behind the agenda, which only promises more servitude than already exists. There is even a fairytale circulating—even in some academic minds—that the technocrats’ idea of “green capitalism” is socialist in nature.

Those who believe this tend to cry foul to one part of the oppressors, while giving the green light to the other part of them, and while even considering themselves critical of domination. Behind this is the fairytale of evil capitalists (technocrats) and good capitalists (everyone else). One could call it a clever ideological strategy of the rulers to steer protests into the void from the outset.

Demagogy for Critics of the System and “Leftists by Instinct”

The beliefs propagated directly and indirectly by Der Spiegel, in fact, serve all around the interests of the ruling front of monopoly capital and its politics. As a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this front lures the “leftists by instinct” as comrades-in-arms and steers the remaining resistance into politically confused nirvana. The demagogy behind this can be summarized in a few points.

First, the idea of “green capitalism” has as little to do with socialism as it does with Karl Marx or even any leftist idea. It is merely the fantasy of a continuation of capitalist rule on a state-monopolistic level, adapted to technologically developed productive forces.

Second, it suggests that classical industrial capitalism was at some point of great benefit to the wage-earning masses. This may have been true for the bulk of German workers for a few decades after World War II. But the price paid by billions of wage earners in the periphery was consistently high. The good capitalism in the idea of an idyllic vegetable market never existed.

Third, the lie of the alleged “left mainstream” drives many critics of the system into the hands of those who do not stand for an end to their oppression, but preach a return to classical industrial capitalism. This is already no longer possible because of the developed technology. Above all, however, such fantasies prevent thinking about an actual end to the exploitation of people and nature.

Fourthly, such demagogy catches on with many “leftists by instinct” who either have not read Marx or have not understood him. Presumably, some are flattered by the idea that leftist ideas have conquered (capitalist) politics and that they themselves can finally get involved. Ultimately, those who are seduced make themselves recipients of orders from the powerful.

Monopoly Capitalism with Nanny State

But let’s conclude with some outpourings in Der Spiegel article. Right under the headline it states:

“Classic capitalism no longer works. But driven by ever new world crises and a looming climate collapse, concrete reform ideas are emerging: less growth, more government targets.”

That “classical capitalism” as a competitive and pecking order produces economic crises, wars and environmental catastrophes without end is of course recognizable. Moreover, the “no more” is superfluous, because poverty, hunger and social misery have always been present, even tending to increase. But the supposedly “left-liberal” magazine then takes a remarkable turn:

Instead of reflecting on economic property relations as the fundamental cause of the problems, it preaches reformism under a strong state. The latter, of course, is supposed to remain the instrument of power of the ruling class to manage the wage slavery of the many under the premise of “less growth.”

But to be serious about Marx: Growth is based on the market competition of individual capitalists. If monopolies have been formed by this very competition, according to which the strongest wins, competition disappears, of course. The rule without competition does not need any more growth to stay in power. Authoritarian surveillance policy is sufficient for that.

Throughout the article, Der Spiegel skillfully pairs a charming critique of capitalism (which certainly contains many truths) with the fantasies of the super-rich world leaders. It sounds something like this:

“But now he [Ray Dalio, hedge fund founder) says phrases like this about capitalism: ‘If good things are overdone, they threaten to destroy themselves. They must evolve or die.’ Wealth and prosperity are now only distributed one-sidedly, he says, and those who are poor remain poor, with hardly a trace of equality of opportunity. Dalio demands an end to this. Capitalism urgently and fundamentally needs to be reformed. Otherwise, it will perish, and deservedly so.”

Instead of blaming the rulers themselves, the authors put the blame for the serious distortions on a “capitalism” that has somehow gotten out of hand, i.e., on something unassailable. Of course, they do not question the rule itself: A little reform is needed to mitigate the worst effects. And so it goes on:

“Criticism of capitalism is first of all nothing new. But in the dawning year four of the pandemic and year two of the Ukraine war, it is gaining noticeably in force. Too many things no longer work: globalization is crumbling and with it the German model of prosperity. The world is entrenching itself in hostile blocs. Inflation is causing rich and poor to drift further apart. Almost all climate targets have been missed. And politicians can no longer keep up with patching up all the ever-new cracks in the system.”

Apart from the fact that Lenin already knew that in monopoly capitalism, which has matured into imperialism, alliances of states naturally “entrench themselves behind hostile blocs” and wage wars for market domination: What do the authors want to imply by stating that politics is no longer able to “patch up all the ever-new cracks in the system?” This sounds like a call for all-round surveillance of citizens by the state.

That authoritarian forms of government and capitalism—in whatever form—are not contradictory is impressively demonstrated by recent history. The authors, of course, do not use the word “authoritarian.” Instead, they talk about a “new economic order,” even though, according to them, capitalism should remain:

“Calls for a new economic order are now growing louder from all corners, strikingly often from unsuspected ones. The Financial Times, international mouthpiece of the financial markets, proclaimed that it was time for neoliberalism to step down from the world stage.”

So now only neoliberalism is to step down, i.e., merely the market-radical superstructure for a “lean state,” which above all ensures free rein for large corporations. But to call this a “new economic order” is nonsense. To substantiate this with two extreme examples: Capitalism, after all, also worked in Chile under Pinochet and in Germany under Hitler—without any neoliberalism at all, but with cruel oppression of the people.

But the authors get carried away with fine words. A gentler, sustainable capitalism is needed. But who is to develop it? The billionaires in Silicon Valley? And what does this “gentler and more sustainable” mean for the people? Are they to become the disposal mass of tech-corporate-governed governments in the future, sweet-soundingly referred to as the “controlling state?” Obviously:

“Ideas for a fairer, greener—yet still free-market—order now abound. Proposals for such a gentler capitalism come from a wide variety of ideological camps, but common lines can be discerned: less market, more controlling state, and less growth by hook or by crook.”

Propaganda with Both Sides Taken for a Ride

Now, a “softer capitalism” is neither a leftist idea, nor would it end the exploitation of the majority by the few. Especially since it is not at all clear for whom the fantasy world of the powerful is supposed to be “gentler”—presumably mainly for the monopoly lords and their well-paid managers.

To dust off Marx and his Das Kapital for this venture is rather mendacious. But probably some left-feeling (and right-acting) bureaucrat functionaries cheered the agitators (or propagandists). And probably quite a few railed against the alleged “left mainstream” that never existed. Both fell for the targeted, ideological propaganda of the really powerful and their supporters.


Susan Bonath writes from Germany, where she studies painting and ceramics. This article appears courtesy of RT Germany.

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!”

Freedom Of Speech?

There has been a lot of news recently about free speech on university campuses.  Typically, one group of students invites a high-profile speaker to give a talk and another group of students agitates until the speaker is shut down.

But it’s not just high-profile speakers who are getting shut down on university campuses. Students are being silenced, too. But not all students, just those who don’t conform to the accepted ideologies that now dominate university campuses. My story is just one example.

One group silencing the opposing group is not coming to an agreement, it’s dictatorship

I’m an undergraduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. I’m also a member of the campus LifeLink Club. We are a pro-life club with no religious affiliation. We don’t use graphic pictures or loud, angry language; we practice calm, respectful dialogue.

I am a naturally peaceful and easy-going person; my friends and family can attest to that. If the pro-life club was the type of club that was aggressive and forceful, I would not be a member, much less the president.

In October of last year we planned a teach-in to motivate discussion. We got approval from our students’ union to use a grassy, outdoor area known as the quad. In early morning, we set up 10,000 small pink and blue flags with each representing 10 abortions that take place in Canada each year.

When classes began, we caught some people’s attention. I was encouraged throughout the morning by the genuine interest and respect of my fellow students.

But beginning in the afternoon the mood turned. Employees from my university’s Diversity and Equity Office, an official administrative body whose mandate is the fair treatment of all students on campus, placed a sign on the walkway leading to our display. It read: “Warning: Anti-Choice display ahead.”

we were censored because our ideas…contradict the new dogma of my university

I was dumbfounded. Why was a warning needed? We were peaceful and polite. And why had this “non-partisan” office of my university referred to my group as “anti-choice” when the term that neutrally describes us, and how we describe ourselves, is pro-life?

The DEO hangs posters across my campus insisting that students use “proper terms” when addressing the groups it explicitly supports, but went out of its way to apply a negatively torqued label to ours.

I had left during the morning to go to class and that sign was what I saw when I returned. I knew immediately that it had not been written by someone in our group, and if those who disagreed with us were putting up signs, the afternoon was not going to be as peaceful as the morning. I wasn’t very far off.

Displays like our flags are now prohibited

The sign from the DEO seemed to have the effect of enabling other students whose desire was not respectful dialogue to come out and harass us.

Some came and began to pull out our flags, yelling profanities and insults. Others spit on our club banner and the flags

I knew that there would be those at my campus who would disagree with our views, but I never anticipated such a degrading response to pink and blue flags.

Though intimidated, I and other LifeLink members stayed calm – as we’ve been trained – and tried to get our opponents to talk to us, but with little success. Special Constable Services were called.

One of the male students damaging our display, quoted in our campus paper, excused his behaviour saying, “The officers are here (telling me) you have to respect their rights and I’m like … I don’t because frankly, this is harmful.”

In the hours and days following the attack on our display, I heard that notion a lot. I heard that my group – despite being the ones subjected to verbal abuse, intimidation, vandalism, and spit – were the purveyors of harm and, as such, it was legitimate for our freedom of expression to be quashed.

Everywhere I went on social media, there was someone posting about how our display was harmful and downright terrible. There were multiple people who wrote that our group should never have been given club status and that we should get off campus.

There were those who were supportive as well, but it is hard to see the silver lining when so much hate is being directed at you because you stood up for what you believe in.

That day, to mediate the “harm” of our actions Laurier’s Centre for Women and Trans People added to their hours of operation but, on Facebook, cautioned attendees “you may have to walk past the protest to get in. Please stay safe…” Alternatively, they said, “If anyone needs a place to hang out with social justice values, the DEO is open.”

Students are being silenced

About a month later the president of the Students’ Union joined the chorus condemning LifeLink. He issued a public letter to the campus saying we were wrong because, “the adversarial tone of the event evoked a confrontation which eliminated the possibility of respectful dialogue and created an unsafe environment for all students.” Furthermore, he promised to work with the Diversity and Equity Office and other university organizations “to ensure this does not happen again.”

True to his word, within a couple of weeks the Students’ Union changed the rules on acceptable practices by campus clubs. Displays like our flags are now prohibited. Instead of trying to make successful discussion happen in the future, the university went in the complete opposite direction and further restricted what our club can do.

To be clear, LifeLink members did not have an “adversarial tone”; we made no one feel “unsafe” — records of the event show that is the case. In fact, when the university’s special constables arrived to monitor the event, they raised no objections to our conduct, issued no warnings, offered no interference, and, in fact, commended members of our group for their restraint in the face of harassment and intimidation.

Again, these were university’s officials. They observed our behaviour and only commented negatively on those for our harassers. And yet our tone was adversarial? We were the ones making people feel unsafe?

The argument of when life begins is far from being closed. I know many Canadians hold the same views as our club, as seen by the annual March for Life on Parliament Hill in Ottawa each May.

Most people shy away from the topic because it’s controversial, but this should not mean we stop talking about it altogether. One group silencing the opposing group is not coming to an agreement, it’s dictatorship. The last time I checked, Canada is a democracy and each citizen has a right to his/her opinion and a right to express that opinion, even if it opposes that of the majority.

Plainly, we were censored because our ideas and conduct, though respectful and lawful, contradict the new dogma of my university. I came to Wilfrid Laurier University to get an education and I sure got one. I’ve learned disagreement now equals harm.

More specifically, I’ve learned that certain campus factions with a strong ideological agenda are manipulating language and the concept of victimhood to silence opponents … and no one, least not the Students’ Union that theoretically claims to represent us all, is trying to stop them.

 

[Photo shows flags at the Quad, Wilfrid Laurier University]