Between Chaos And Decline: Rebirth

Towards Political Optimism

It is common, when one is a young man entering a career, especially in literary or artistic studies, to be charmed by despair and to have a taste for ruins. The image of the poètes maudits is cultivated. We let ourselves be seduced by the disillusioned dandyism. We succumb to the temptation of the black flag inclined on the skull of pessimism. The beauty of ruins attracts. The vestiges are a curious dizziness. We go for the last of the Mohicans; We live as Dance Prince Salina in The Leopard. We cherish chaos, and we love despair. “Siamo tutti sull’olorlo della disperazione,” says the writer Jep Gambardella in la Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) by Paolo Sorrentino. The darkness becomes a luxury and cynicism a refinement on a terrace in Rome.

The attraction to such giddiness is the residue of a tired and insipid romanticism. The ruins of Heidelberg Castle astonish with their melancholy; The gloom of stones nips at the most sensitive rope of the heart. The pianist Waltraut Laurence plays Chopin nocturnes. It is a postcard décor for the student of Sumerian, who is also a fencer, dressed in Canali, making love in the moonlight. The beauty of decadence has sumptuousness, it is true. Despair is made for poetry and not for politics. Léo Ferré and his ridiculous, surrealist verses please the babes at the Sorbonne; Baudelaire, alive in the heart of a high school student, mixes death with grace, darkness with sad and cold beauty supreme. A desperate guy who does not commit suicide is, on the other hand, an impostor. Cesare Pavese, he went to the very end, and those who did not join him, while they sing hymns with Subutex and odes with Prozac, can only be small versions of depression. But then again, none of this ever makes it into politics.

Too often, the nationalists, taken in the broad sense, from conservatives to monarchists, from sovereigntists to traditional Catholics, have integrated defeat and decadence into their software. Through sheer compliancy, they value failure. They affect to lose in order to say that they were right; prefer to give up in order to say they are victims and being persecuted, feeding controversy rather than taking responsibility. The logic of annuity and cynicism of some is buttressed by the pessimistic romanticism of others. Those who denounce the decadence of postmodernity, often have nothing to propose and are engaged in the terrible parody of a fight. We play the reactionaries. Cioran had already understood everything: “The doctrine of the Fall makes a powerful appeal to reactionaries of whatever stripe; the most hardened and the most lucid among them know, moreover, what recourse it offers for the glamour of revolutionary optimism. Is it not the invariability of human nature to devote oneself without remedy for collapse and corruption?”

The romantic sighs, modern man sneers. The first loves what falls, the other that which brings about the fall. The one loves Vezelay, the other sees a spectacle in the fire of the Notre-Dame. The sneer, in postmodernity, is the devil that laughs, that no one condemns. We worship those who complain, sulk, and grumble. But we are harmless – our side likes a less festive, less brilliant decadence – that’s all. We go, like vanities, in the pursuit of deconstruction. We are the scrubs on duty. We play refractory Gauls, right-wing Mélenchonians. But how many really want a victory? The question deserves to be asked from the Menhir to certain cadres of major political parties. “You, jihadis, we will win because we are the most dead,” said Philippe Muray. The West is now producing magnificent losers wearing Bermuda shorts.

It is a vague idea of decadence peculiar to Spengler that a philosopher like Michel Onfray has spread outside his borders. He deserves credit for having supported the yellow vests and denounced Maastrichtian Europe. But this habit of never making the horrific qualitative leap; this almost complacent way of justifying decadence and decline as a fatal fact is unbearable. Is the horizon on fire? After me the flood! Are the suburbs on fire? Let’s stay stylish! Notre-Dame lies in ruin? Let’s drink good wine! This too easy posture is of the petty bourgeoisie. When we are looking at the storm on the mainland, it is fine to prophecy with detachment. But when you are in the eye of the storm, living in, what Christophe Guilluy calls, “peripheral France,” when you are masked and employed, and when you suffer the consequences of a happy globalization, supported by bad, liberal and Europeanist policies, social dumping and the appalling conditions of an alienating wage-earner as well as the consequences of uncontrolled demography, massive immigration and the problem of assimilation – the great disestablishment and the great replacement – in short, accepting to be scattered like a puzzle in the pleasure of bon vivant epicureanism – is total nonsense.

At the historical and anthropological level, let us not be fooled either. Civilizations are born, grow and disappear. In his sermon on the fall of Rome, Saint Augustine explains very well, in the aftermath of the sack of the Eternal City in 410, that the world is made up of this kind of movement – appearance and disappearance. The Phoenicians have disappeared. Sparta the great is a field of pebbles. The Venice of the Doges no longer exists. Even though it is a given of history, admitting the end, crossing your arms, taking a nap in the time of battle, letting go, is a sign of defeat. Because she imagined herself decadent in a kind of enlightened catastrophism, Rome guarded against decadence; the moment she felt herself falter, she straightened up – and that at many points in her history.

The decadence of the elites was a factor in the French Revolution. As Chateaubriand aptly put it, the nobility, by the yardstick of 1789, had reached the “age of vanities.” The aristocracy of the second half of the eighteenth century ended up largely autistic, admittedly refined, but it only played its role in a subdued manner. The Castaners and the Schiappas were already there, just in more powder, in frock coats and taffeta dresses. The urban bourgeoisie, organized, born out of entrepreneurship, investing power with the urgent idea of borrowing and reforming, had triumphed. The revolution was the replacement of a dominant class by another dominant class, formed, united, structured. Necker’s heir was Giscard. One was finance minister, the other a financier who became king of France. We are still there.

The Fall fascinates. Falling certainly pleases, but getting up less so. We must fight. To stave off decline, we need to come up with a Renaissance vision of our nation: putting life, spirit and muscle back where it’s needed. Atheists will speak of rebirth, the brothers in the faith of resurrection, one in the other, whether we believe in Heaven or we do not believe in it, the idea remains the same: to get out of this long winter.

Christians speak of the virtue of hope; Antonio Gramsci is “pessimistic in intelligence, optimist in will.” And Charles Maurras added, “All despair in politics is absolute nonsense. In war, the partisans of defeat are shot. To be pessimistic is to give up. The first idea of organizational empiricism, as Maurras thought, is a positive dynamic “to take advantage of the joys of the past with a view to the future that every well-born mind wishes for its country.” Whether you are a Catholic or an atheist, from Action Française or close to Alain de Benoist, you have to survive the nihilism that plagues both the left and the right. The question for Christians is simple: Christ resurrected; He put death to death. If, in fact, in Augustine, the decline of a civilization is part of a divine plan, Christianity should not be denied the light that emerges from darkness, the truth of lies. The Church, the one that did not reform, has kept a sense of tradition.

No doubt, on the other side, we saw Nietzsche as a nihilist. Julien Rochedy has explained the opposite, in his current book, Nietzsche l’actuel (Nietzsche Today). Who announces the death of God? A fool, looking for a man in a square, with his lantern, at noon. With the death of God comes the fall of values and disaster; man must come to the death of God and build a new system of values. Nietzsche saw it all: money replacing God; Cohn Bendit and his clique, constituting their own morality, hideous to ordinary people; the freeloaders in Lacoste; generalized barbarism and the vegan cotton swabs, their green hair puffed up with resentment. Civilization produced men who were held back only by themselves; the barbarism was of men who let off steam. Nowadays, civilization has become poisonous, vaccinated, masked, confined, in this time of Covid.

One would say of the nationalist that he is nostalgic; that he sees, soured and bitter, France in the rear-view mirror of centuries. He is backward-looking. Make no mistake: it is in the perpetuation of a heritage that he establishes his hope. To defend is to think that the thing being defended is fixed, soon to be mortal. Defense pushes towards sanctuarization; it enacts, by the very word itself, the proper end of what it thinks it is defending. A patriot, whether he is a believer or not, is not on the ramparts; he takes possession of his kingdom. Our role is not to hold onto Minas Tirith, while waiting to take catapult fire; but, on the contrary, to mount horses like the Rohirim against Sauron’s armies.

To exemplify requires vitality and horizon. When we exemplify, we perpetuate, we incarnate, we fully dress the traditions. These traditions are no more because they are already inhabited, dressed. There is no point in stirring the remains of the ashes; it is necessary to perpetuate the sacred fire. An exemplary Catholic, participates in masses, in services, does his Lent. It is up to the French to exemplify their history, to serve their language, to sing their own songs and to live. Mohammedans are in Ramadan; God bless them! Let’s do our penances. Those who criticize a possible invasion, deplore a country which is no longer Christian and which is no longer theirs, are the first to pig out on Good Friday, to make absolutely no effort, not even to want to get out of the baptism in which they were once plunged. They behave like being violently anti-clerical for no reason, and subscribe to all progressivism. They are the first to say that the Church is rich, too rich, but never criticize a financier who has just taken office at the Elysee Palace. In the first case, it is unacceptable to have finely embroidered silk chasubles from Gammarelli; on the other, the personal enrichment of a powdered petty investor does not bother anyone. However, let us remember this sentence from André Suarès: “Whether he likes it or not, the Frenchman has the Gospel in his blood. It is only through involvement that tradition, and therefore the Church, can remain. Open the churches, sing the Te Deum, read Raban’s Veni Creator Spiritus, put manly abbots in office. They will come back!

Optimism in politics also stems from faith in youth. It is often judged torn between crass consumerism, the accelerated cretinization of social networks, its exalted leftism, or its way of conceiving nations as hotels. Yet Attali’s speech has aged terribly because reality has proved him wrong. Leftism, which has become an exacting orthodoxy, irritates even those who like to barbecue to block off college because vegans have put their twigs in there.

At the back, outside the parties, there are many of us. The youth are more and more won over to our ideas. Whether on the side of YouTubers, intellectuals and journalists, nationalists work a lot, produce a lot, innovate, militate, debate in the public square. Let’s pay tribute to the forces at the back. A whole young generation is doing the popularization work necessary to understand sovereignist and nationalist ideas, and seeks to give the love of France to young people: Simon Bavastro in Nice; Valek in Montpellier; Papacito in Toulouse; Greg Toussaint, Baptiste Marchais also in the center of France. We also have our media. We cannot go through all the Web TVs, magazines, newspapers which, (and La Nef is one of them), promote our ideas. Let us just mention TV Libertés, Sud Radio, Elements, France soir, Présents, Eurolibertés, Boulevard Voltaire, Radio Courtoisie, RT France and many others. A multitude of intellectuals occupy the area of sovereignist or conservative ideas. Let us just mention economists like Jacques Sapir, Olivier Delamarche, Pierre Jovanovic; historians like Professor Bernard Lugan or Thierry Lentz and Emmanuel de Waresquiel; jurists and legal professionals, such as, Pierre Yves Rougeyron, Damien Viguier, Regis de Castelnau or Gregor Puppinck; but also philosophers and sociologists, such, as Olivier Rey, Alain Bessonnet, Pierre Magnard and Matthieu Bock-Côté. Together, they are the prized who have never stopped laboring away; some of them use social media to disseminate their ideas. We must also mention Charles Gave of the l’Institut des libertés, Cercle Richelieu, Cercle Prudhon, Cercle Aristote, Action Française, the Apollon Institute of Jean Messiha, for example. At the back, we have the intelligence, the youth, the information and the means to oppose deconstruction, and to build on solid foundations a thought, an identity, a national work. When such real people protest about a burnt church, the dissolution of Génération identitaire, they do not disguise themselves; they do not fool around; they do not put on a spectacle, unlike what the leftists do. We see solid men and elegant women. But all that is missing among the political establishment.

So, what is to be done? Что делать? Hot question! First of all, be who we are – shamelessly. Then do as the Captain of the Hussars Lugan: go where the cannon-ball strikes. Then, exemplify our traditions, reinvest in our history, pass on and seek to inherit. Let us regain our respect and our self-esteem. They have gouged out the eyes and tore off the hands of real people. Now they mask real people, confine them, jab them. In both cases, they never cease to insult, with appalling class contempt; these “eaters of fries,” these people who “smoke cigarettes and run on diesel.” They adulate the people, as long as they don’t see their dirty faces, as Jules Renard used to say.

We will have to return to the collective. We are far too divided to be able to rule. All that will come after we stop fighting among ourselves, putting up obstacles for each other, and tearing each other apart. The great evil of nationalists is to consider that the other is not simply that but that he is a traitor. The anti-racists peck at each other; they will devour each other; the revolution eats its children. We will see the Seine carrying the corpses of enemies. Let the Corbaques feast. And then let us feast on their downfall!

If we don’t want to be a piece of the puzzle of a big parody, we have to build something now – on every level. We will not engage in any real politics if we do not first win back our sovereignty by defiance, and take back our independence from Brussels, Germany, and technocracy. We must also break with technocracy, and with the worn-out urgency of having to make liberal reforms, as if the key to politics were only through reform, reducing spending, paying a parasitic debt. Historical stuttering, at least its threat, is the last bulwark, the last mental bunker, which remains for those in power. United, allied, determined, we will be able to achieve the rebirth of our country. At the very end, will come this dilemma: revolution or election? Political vanguard or faith in democracy? But then, again, before we get to this point, let’s get up, sing together, rebuild, and then go for it. Then, the laurel will bloom again!

Nicolas Kinosky is at the Centres des Analyses des Rhétoriques Religieuses de l’Antiquité. This articles appears through the very kind courtesy La Nef. Translation from the French by N. Dass.

The featured image shows, “Château Gaillard, Les Andelys, France,” by Herbert Edwin Pelham Hughes-Stanton; painted in 1907.

Marxism, Revisionism, Liberalism: A Conversation With Piotr Nowak

We are so very delighted to presented this interesting and wide-ranging conversation with Piotr Nowak, who is Professor of Philosophy at the Bialystok University in Poland. He translated works of such writers as Hannah Arendt, W. H. Auden, Leo Strauss, Alexander Kojève, Allan Bloom, Boris Pasternak, Vasyli Rozanov, Andrei Bely, Pavel Florensky, Jacob Taubes, Semyon Frank. He is the deputy editor‐in‐chief of the philosophical quarterly Kronos (in Polish), and the annual Kronos. Philosophical Journal (in English). He is also a member of the Board of the Count August Cieszkowski Foundation. He is the author of the following monographs: Ontology of Success: An Essay on the Philosophy of Alexandre Kojève (Gdańsk 2006), The Prince’s Signature: Reflections on Strength and Weakness (Warsaw 2013), The Ancients and Shakespeare on Time: Some Remarks on the War of Generations (Amsterdam–New York 2014; in English), Troglodyte Breeding: Comments on Higher Education and the Mental Culture of Contemporary Man (Warsaw 2014), I Die Therefore I Am (Warsaw 2016), The Box with Pandora Within (Warsaw 2016). His most recent book is Violence and Words. Political Philosophy of Hannah Arendt (Warsaw 2018), for which he was awarded the 2019 Daedalus’ Wings Literary Prize founded by the National Library of Poland. He is also the host of two TV programs and a visiting professor at Warsaw University.

In this discussion with Zbigniew Janowski, Professor Nowak provides us with a profound analysis of modernity and the kind of society that we are sleepwalking into, where we have become prisoners of democracy.

Zbigniew Janowski (ZJ): I would like to focus our conversation on the topic of “revisionism.” We know this term from the history of socialism or Communism. Marxist revisionism was an important stage in the life of socialist philosophers, socialism itself, and Communism’s slow demise. It started after the so-called “October Thaw,” in 1956, and continued throughout the 1960s. It was an attempt to “revise” Marxist socialism after Stalin’s death in such a way as to make it look “human.” That is how the famous expression “Socialism with a human face” came about.

It is 2021, Communism is gone. However, over the last 20 or so years, Liberalism has evolved into what is sometimes called “soft-totalitarianism.” To be sure, this is not a system that operates on the basis of broken bones, mass-purges, imprisonment, or the existence of gulags, as socialism did; but, if we leave aside the free-market economy, today’s Liberalism became an ideology which controls as many aspects of human life as Communism, or even more. The first thing is the control of speech and our behavior.

Piotr Nowak (PN): Recently, I have reread the memoirs of Barbara Skarga, entitled, After the Liberation (1944-1956). Skarga, who later became a prominent philosopher in Poland, was an officer in the Home Army during the war. She was captured by the NKVD (Soviet secret police, responsible for purges and murders) when she was 24. She was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in Siberia. She returned to Poland at a time when former Stalinists were trying to assume a “human face.”

Piotr Nowak. Photo Credit: Bartek Syta.

For years I have been reading Gulag literature with my students, among them Skarga’s book, but also Shalamov, Ginzburg, Herling-Grudziński’s A World Apart. Over time, I noticed a decline of interest in reading these books among students. It is exotic for young people today, but not for me. Unlike them, I know well – fortunately not from personal experience – what the totalitarian regime was like, what Siberia was and what a penal colony in Asiatic Russia was. On the other hand, I know from experience what authoritarianism, martial law, and military rule are. So, I quite dread using the term “totalitarianism” – in a reckless way. In the end, it seems reserved, to paraphrase Karl Jaspers, for liminal situations in history, such as Kołyma or Auschwitz.

At the same time, I accept your important disclaimer that “totalitarianism” (here the quotation marks are indispensable) exists in hard and soft versions. In my mind, the difference seems to be quite significant. Today, political opponents are not murdered in Warsaw and Berlin; rather, they are denied recognition. However, from a certain point of view – and you got me here – it is one and the same thing. Please note that Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin, the protagonist of Gogol’s The Overcoat, does not die from the cold, from the lack of a coat, but precisely from being denied recognition.

ZJ: Can you explain when and in what circumstances Revisionism under Communism came into being.

PN: It’s hard to say exactly. It was certainly not immediately after Stalin’s death, in 1953, but some three or four years later. In addition to Soviet Marxism, which appeared immediately after the war, the hitherto unknown in Poland, and even more so in the Soviet Union, Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 were discovered. At the same time, such prominent figures of Marxist thought as Gramsci, Lukacs, and later also Ernst Bloch and Theodor W. Adorno, had “arrived” in Poland too. Suddenly, it turned out that there was plenty to choose from; and the stuff was even an interesting read!

Besides, after the war, ideology was important in shaping social practice. If someone shared leftist values, it was difficult for him to question them. We need to remember that at that time the whole world accepted the Manichaean view of reality. This was the case not just in Europe but even in America. Communism was regarded as an angelic regime, maybe a bit degenerated and fallen, but angelic nonetheless. Such a view was partly because of the fact that it largely defeated fascism – undoubtedly the work of Satan. That is how people reasoned after the war all over the world. And this belief is still cultivated in some places in Italy and, above all, at the French universities.

In Poland, leftist sympathies proved to be strong for yet another reason. It is here that the Germans created the hell of Auschwitz. The very name of this place – apart from the association with the terrible suffering of millions of human beings – reminded us of the collapse of the old, pre-war, “fascist” moral order. In a place such as Auschwitz or Warsaw, 90% of which was razed to the ground, the mere thought of moral behavior, of old values, such as, honor, good birth, responsibility for others became questionable, or even impossible. The most important values on which humanity was founded turned out to be fleeting and completely obsolete. Hence, calls for the restitution of the old status quo appeared impossible to the majority of the population. For this reason, it was necessary to fill in the empty space, replace the old values with the new – victorious – ones. And that is what the communists did.

The hunger for meaning was sated quite quickly by giving people hope for a better tomorrow, without poverty and without fascists. This prospect turned out to be tempting and easy to accept, especially by those who were not victims. The joyful May 1st parade (International Workers’ Day), was celebrated each year. Its goal was to suppress the screams of the tortured victims, the slaughtered soldiers of the anti-communist underground, or the tormented Home Army soldiers. It was supposed to drown out the lamentations of the former landowners, robbed and dispossessed of their family estates by the communists. It was a politics of redirecting people’s attention to the radiant – communist – future.

Back then no one wanted to talk about Manichaeism seen from a different angle, that would make you see the face of the devil not only in Fascism, but also in Communism. The Red Army defeated the German Fascists and brought its own understanding of history. History is written by the victor, and the victor was Communism.

The opposition did not come right away; it was only later, around 1957, along with the Khrushchev Thaw. In the literary realm, there was a break too. In 1955, the poet Adam Ważyk wrote, “A Poem for Adults” which describes the madness of the situation, as in the following last two stanzas:

I went home,
like a man who had gone out to buy medicine,
and returned twenty years later.
My wife asked: Where were you?
The children asked: Where were you?
I was silent, trembling like a mouse.

The trouble with “madness” is that madness isolates and cannot become a collective state of mind. While someone can shout on his own behalf that he is crazy, his shouts can’t be repeated in pluralis majestatis, unless the term is used metaphorically, to the tune of: “The whole nation lost its mind to walk hand in hand with the communists.”

There is a book by Jacek Trznadel about the entanglement of Polish intellectuals in Communism, which stands in stark contrast to Miłosz’s The Captive Mind. According to Miłosz, it was the “Hegelian bite” – the intoxication of the great minds with ideology. Trznadel, on the other hand, argues that the mainsprings of ideological commitment and conformist behavior of intellectuals were fear and greed for influence and money, but also the hatred of the “ancien regime.”

As far as Revisionism is concerned, the most important attempt was undertaken, in 1956, by the young Leszek Kolakowski in Światopogląd i życie codzienne (Worldview and Daily Life, and which was published in German under the title, Der Mensch ohne Alternative. Von der Möglichkeit und Unmöglichkeit Marxist zu sein).

ZJ: One could say that post 1956 Revisionism was an attempt to create what came to be called “Socialism with a human face.” If pre 1956 reality was oppressive and brutal (“Stalinist”), it had nothing to do with Marxism; rather, it had everything to do with the actions and decisions of the corrupt State apparatchiks, who distorted Marx’s message. This was a way of absolving Marx’s philosophy of responsibility for the practice of socialism, which found expression in the famous slogan, “Socialism Yes. Distortions No.” After each upheaval, in each communist country, roughly every decade, we had a new Polit-bureau, composed of the new communists who would dispose of the old bastards who were guilty of abuses and responsible for “distortions.” But Marxism, so the argument went, was innocent.

PN: To all those who are able to spot a “human face” in socialism, I have a suggestion – try to find it! Leszek Kołakowski – probably the most outstanding Marxist revisionist of the second half of the twentieth century – ends his essay, Karl Marx and the Classic Definition of Truth, by paraphrasing Thomas Mann: “In the whole universe, man cannot find a well deep enough to not discover, looking into it, his own face down at the bottom.” The thing is, sometimes that face – a human face – happens to be a vulgar mug. Kołakowski writes about it in another essay, The Marxist Roots of Stalinism (republished in his collection of essays, My Correct Views on Everything), which, in my opinion, should be a mandatory reading at contemporary French and American universities.

We were told many times, and some still seem to believe it, that there was nothing Marxist in Stalinism. However, as Kołakowski argues in his essay, even if Stalinism was one of the many incarnations of Marxism, it was a legitimate one. If so, we must assume that even behind the face of a well-bred graduate of the École Normale Supérieure, we may find the face of a butcher.

ZJ: You have mentioned Kolakowski’s influential collection of essays which appeared in England as Marxism and Beyond and, in America as, Toward a Marxist Humanism. I would also add the issue of TriQuarterly: A Leszek Kołakowski Reader, with several essays written in the same period. These books contain most of his important Revisionist writings, which were quite influential among Western Marxists, especially in the UK and North America. Interesting as they are, as part of Marxist historiography, they did not save Marxism. The history of several decades –1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, which led to the collapse of Communism – was to demonstrate that.
Here is something I would like you to comment on – could one say that Revisionism was a failed attempt to breath new life into a world-view that was bound to breed economic inefficiency, oppressiveness, lack of freedom in the private realm and cultural poverty.

PN: Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say. It was bound to fail. Communism is a poisoned fruit. A fruit beautiful at times, occasionally even tasty and tempting, but fundamentally poisoned.

ZJ: But only a handful of intellectuals quickly realized that. That is, as you put it, the socialist idea was a poisoned fruit. Here two people, who realized relatively early what it was, stand out – Raymond Aron, the author of The Opium of the Intellectuals, and Czesław Milosz, the author of The Captive Mind. Kołakowski was another, but his realization came a decade later (he was also younger than Aron and Miłosz). You referred to his The Marxist Roots of Stalinism. But there is another important but less known piece by him where he seems to argue that absolving the old Marx by pointing to the “humanist” young Marx will not do. (He wrote this in “Althuser’s Marx,” for The Socialist Register, 1971; reprinted in The Two Eyes of Spinoza and Other Essays on Philosophers). Which is another way of saying, Revisionism was a waste of time.

Over the last five years or so, given what I experienced at American universities, I decided to teach a class on totalitarianism. I would regularly assign Orwell’s 1984. A friend of mine told me, forget about Orwell, make them read Miłosz, it is by far the best analysis of Communism. What Miłosz realized with full force was that Communism required faith to operate successfully. He called it a New Faith. As soon as people lost faith in the possibility of building “a just” (socialist) society, Communism started cracking. One could write a history of Communism through the prism of those cracks: 1956, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1981. The final nail in the coffin came in 1981 – the imposition of martial law in Poland. After that, only a few people retained faith, and eight years later, in 1989, Communism was buried in Eastern Europe. Do you agree with Miłosz that Communism required faith? And if, so, why did so many people – some very intelligent ones, like Kolakowski — “converted” into it? At the beginning of our conversation you answered this question to some extent; historical circumstances after WWII certainly helped.

PN: Different things require different commitment, including faith. Communists believe in a better tomorrow; and therefore they believe in progress. The title of the Czech communist Julius Fucik’s book about a country where “tomorrow is already yesterday” conveys this idea quite well. This faith is contagious even today. The blind rush, headlong, ever onwards, always ends up in a nosedive. This attitude is perfectly reflected in Alfred Kubin’s 1902 painting The Man. It shows a human figure rushing downward from who knows where, going ever faster and faster. The problem is that there is no stopping this motion. As the knowledge of it dawns on her, the terror grows. Left-wing thinkers do not take this into account at all. For them, progress means not only technological advancement, but also a moral one; the improvement of humanity. They are convinced that in order to eradicate evil it is enough to correct poorly functioning social institutions and persistently strive to advocate for justice.

Both the Scriptures and Thomas Hobbes hold a different view: there is an evil in man that resists reforms. Man is terrible; he has done so much evil throughout history that there is no redemption for him in this world. We have to struggle with evil in us. Communism is the embodiment of evil, one of its many forms; perhaps it is the most demonic and bloody of evils. It harnesses beautiful words only to vulgarize and destroy them. Values, such as, hope, love, brotherhood and peace – all of them have fallen prey to the communist practice of vulgarizing them. In their hands, words changed meaning. Peace is a state of war, freedom becomes enslavement, and so on. We find it in Orwell!

As far as Miłosz is concerned, a lot has been written about him. Mark Lilla did a good job adapting him in writing his The Reckless Mind, for use at American universities (incidentally, I helped him with the Polish translation of this interesting book). Miłosz, on the other hand, translated Aron’s The Opium of the Intellectuals back in the 1950s. These are not only bibliographical details. They show how ideas circulated then and how they circulate today, and their mutual influence. Certainly, the problems of Communism did not concern only this part of the European continent.
Kołakowski, on the other hand, interests and inspires me not when he reaches “belief” in a better tomorrow, but when he abandons it and becomes a Christian. You say he was intelligent. Certainly not when he wrote that the Catholic Church was responsible for the death camps (Szkice o filozofii katolickiej [Essays on Catholic Philosophy], p. 57). He acquired wisdom and intelligence with age, especially when he recovered from “the beautiful disease of leftism.”

ZJ: Several points in your explanation as to why Communism was such a powerful force can be applied to Liberalism as well. It is also based on the idea of a better future, equality and justice. Contemporary politics revolves almost exclusively around these two notions. They are the axis of contemporary social policies, and it is there, in my opinion, where the problem of coercive nature of Liberalism lies. To be against “social justice” is to be, very much like the communists saw it, “The enemy of the people,” who deserve no place in society. Not to join the “social justice” crusade is tantamount to displaying anti-social behavior, very much like not participating in a May 1st parade, or in various social activities under Communism, which could get you in trouble. Those who dare to do it are castigated, scorned, looked down upon, eliminated, made to look like social pariahs. Elimination is not a physical one, but a social one; being fired from a job, from a university post, being “accused,” etc. Would you agree?

PN: Today’s Liberalism does not have much in common with classical Liberalism. If Locke and Mill’s Liberalism was conceived in such a way that it could support freedom – not only economic, but also academic, spiritual – then the Liberalism we are dealing with today has become hard-headed, moralizing, and schematic. Classical Liberalism fortified people, while the contemporary one wants to tell them how to live; wants to transform and reform them; bring everyone down to the same level; fashion them into one mould, contrived by who knows whom.

ZJ: By whom? By social activists! It is the fastest growing “profession.” They are experts in raising “social consciousness” about “social justice.” They are the producers of slogans calling on expanding equity and dismantling whatever is left of hierarchy (the so-called “power structure,” as we say in America).

PN: You are probably right. Liberals are not interested in the common good, but, as you say, in “social justice.” The res publica, the State, the nation do not exist in their minds. In consequence, they are nothing but a convenient instrument in the hands of the rich, a bargaining chip for people of influence. Such a weak State can’t make decisions or settle disputes. Conformist behavior is rewarded. Ordinary people are intimidated on a massive scale (“next we come for you”), reprimanded or intimidated. Adults are treated like children.

Are the people who influence and shape reality today still liberals? I don’t know for sure. I know that they dominate and willingly refer to liberal philosophy as a kind of legitimization for their ever-bolder actions. They are followers of progress and infinite improvement, which command people to part with everything they have learned at home, which they have acquired through tradition. Old and worn-down values are replaced by new ones.

ZJ: You ask whether they are liberal? I would say, very much so. If you really want to know, observe the actions (or the silence) of those who claim to be so-called classical liberals. They will say to you (in private), “I don’t agree with this or that; I don’t support this or that policy;” they will even be sincerely appalled by some things the radicals do, but have you seen them vote against the liberal radicals, or raise a voice of protest against the dumbest proposals in local politics, or oppose destructive changes in university curricula? You soon see which side they are on. They invariably support the same policies that the radicals do.

In their outer actions they are as radical as the true radicals; in their hearts they are most likely cowards. They use the term classical Liberalism to find absolution, to distance themselves from the wrongs done by their ideological affiliates. The so-called classical Liberalism exists in their imagination, just like true socialism existed in the heads of those who believed that the socialism in the countries of real socialism had nothing to do with Marx’s socialism.

PN: Those who experienced Communism know that the same thing happened half a century ago and earlier among the communists who created Homo Sovieticus, the new Soviet man, in Central and Eastern Europe. In that sense, Martin Heidegger did not err in equating – as he did in his Letter on Humanism – the degenerated, hurtling rudderless Liberalism with Communism. I remember that back in the time of the communist Polish People’s Republic, when I read this text for the first time, I did not understand this kind of association at all. Today I understand it. Both ideologies adhere to two common values: egalitarianism and the complete economization of community life.

Ford, Soros, and Stalin go along with lesser acolytes through the jungle of the 20th and 21st centuries practically side by side, causing untold catastrophes and destruction. Entire villages and cities disappear from the economic map of their countries. In schools and universities, propaganda centers are created, where courses in tolerance, adaptation, sexual harassment, gender identity and the oppressive nature of the modern family are organized. At other training courses – known once as “the reforging of souls” – you can learn how to eat European meringue and what equality is and why it has become the most important value in all areas of social and political life. Thanks to the newest ideological trends, deeply humanistic values, still so close to Mill, recur as their own caricature, a farce. Because this is how past events come back to us: history – said Marx – always returns as a farce.

ZJ: Historical circumstances – economic crises of the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of Fascism, WWII, and other events – made Socialism attractive to many people. Stalin’s death and the year 1956 made Revisionism necessary, at least for Marxists who wanted to save it. It was an attempt to save Socialism’s face; to make it look human! However, contrary to their hopes, Revisionism was not tolerated for long. Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, even insisted that Gomulka, the First Secretary of the Polish Communist Party, organize an international trial of the Revisionists, Kołakowski being the main culprit. In Khrushchev’s mind, or those who advised him, Revisionism was dangerous for the maintenance of power, unity of the Party, but above all, its ideological legitimacy. When Kołakowski was fired from the Party’s ranks and his university post, the official document stated that he “fashioned the minds of the youth with ideology which was contrary to the development of the country.” Whether the communists understood Marx and Kołakowski’s reading of him, is irrelevant; but they suspected that philosophers’ reading of Marx could be dangerous. Insofar as the communist state was based on Marx’s ideas, interpretation of Marx was crucial. It was not just the Communist apparatchiks who were concerned but philosophers such as Jurgen Habermas who supposedly remarked, in the 1970s, that Kołakowski is a disaster for the European Left.

I bring this up to show that reading and interpretation of philosophical texts matters; and it was the reading of Marx which contributed to the demise of Marxist ideology, and people’s loss of faith in the system. Ultimately the system collapsed because the faith in it had been undermined by intellectuals.

As I said, and you seem to agree with me on this point, if Liberalism is becoming, or has become, totalitarian, its eventual demise – if it follows the trajectory of Communism – can be accomplished only if Liberalism finds critics among its own believers, who will come to the inevitable conclusion, as did the Marxist Revisionists, that the system is fundamentally flawed, that “distortions” are not distortions but fundamental features of the ideology. Are there any Liberal Revisionists, not just critics of Liberalism who never claimed to be Liberal? Mark Lilla, whose writings you know, seems to find Liberalism more and more disappointing; but he is far from breaking away from it.

PN: This argument about corrupting the youth is as old as philosophy itself, stretching all the way back to the trial and death of Socrates. We will not come up with anything new here. Politicians will always accuse philosophers of anything and everything, not only corrupting the youth, since they cannot bear the thought of free people, independent from their decisions.

You say that something in Kołakowski’s thought did not sit well with Habermas. That is just fine. There is a problem with German philosophy in general. The thing is that World War II seriously thinned out the Germans; and the Germans killed off the Jews. Meanwhile, for centuries both have provided us with intellectual fuel. War put an end to that. The defeat of the Third Reich has driven all German philosophy to the grave. German philosophy ceased to exist. With one exception – Martin Heidegger, the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. The French took this opportunity to devise a hokum called postmodernism, talking about which here is a waste of time. We will do well not to refer to either the Germans or the postmodernists in a conversation about Marx, revisionism or Liberalism.

Of course, as everywhere, there are brilliant exceptions. In France, they include – to limit this listing to the living – Rémi Brague, Alain Besançon, who was a gauchist in the 1950s, and Pierre Manent, a French Straussian. That latter said in an interview with Benedicte Delorme-Montini something along the lines of, “if you aspire to understand modern politics, you must have a certain understanding of the United States; therefore you must have a little love for them … A minimum of sympathy and recognition for American achievements is a basic prerequisite of understanding politics even a little bit.” I will add from myself that it is good not only to love and understand them, but also visit and be interested in them.

In my mind the US is entwined – as is the case with of millions of Poles who are Americanophiles – with a childish dream of freedom. Growing up under Communism, we dreamed of the States as if it was Arcadia. Liberalism was also an Arcadian myth for me, a positive myth. In order to be able to revise the ideas on which a political system was founded, one must grow organically in it. Nobody can be a substitute for the British or the Americans in this. The “revisionist” impulse must come from them.
Mark Lilla is not entirely convincing in his writings. At first, I was amazed by his book on intellectuals because it was really well-written. Later, as I read his other books and essays he has written for The New York Review of Books, I realized that he was a literarily gifted opportunist who woke up one day and realized – like everyone in his social circle – that there is no God. Eureka! His The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West came from such a discovery. I stopped reading him after that book.

Today, when the history of ideas in the West has receded several decades in relation to, for example, the late works of Martin Heidegger, the humanistic thought of the young Kołakowski has a chance for a renaissance. It fits quite well with the anticlerical antipathies of such authors as Mark Lilla, Stephen Greenblatt, Noah Harari, Christopher Hitchens, Giovanni Vattimo, Richard Dawkins, taken in concert with all the Frenchmen who fell out of Alain Badiou’s back pocket. These thinkers, like pack-donkeys, gradually and painstakingly reach the ideas developed by Kołakowski in the 1950s and 1960s, which he abandoned in his further philosophical work, and which brought such dazzling gems as The Presence of Myth or Metaphysical Horror.

ZJ: What was it about Lilla’s book or books that drew your attention? Did you see him as a Liberal Revisionist?

PN: No, Lilla’s books do not have that potential. I only skimmed through the latest ones. They adulate the liberal system in all its pathological layers, and if they undertake criticism, it is a predictable and authorized one. But the Americans had ingenious “revisionists.” They have forgotten about them. I am preparing an issue of Kronos magazine about Allan Bloom. So, I am re-reading his essays, such as those collected in Giants and Dwarfs. I doubt their “revisionist” power is remembered.

ZJ: Unlike Marxism, Liberalism does not seem to have the venerated “founding fathers,” to whose writings we can go back to. Juxtapose young Marx to late Marx; only to realize that the theory was flawed from the beginning. There is no body of writings like the Federalist Papers in the US, the Constitution, which we need to know how to read in order to get politics right. Perhaps that is why there is little chance that Liberalism will collapse the way socialism did because the theory contained in the writings of the founders turned out to be simply wrong.

PN: You have published two volumes of John Stuart Mill’s minor writings. You do not spare him harsh words. You are right. Something went wrong. We need to investigate what happened and when. But, let’s leave it to the Anglos. Personally, I would start by weakening John Rawls’s position in the American humanities. I suggest we should reread Bloom’s critique of Rawls, which he published in 1975, in American Political Science Review (69 [2]). I know of no more convincing criticism of his philosophy.

ZJ: I would disagree with you saying, let’s leave it to the Anglos, for several reasons. Liberal ideology enveloped not just the US, Canada, the UK. It is doing the same in Continental Europe, including the former socialist countries, and parts of Asia, South America. Liberal language of rights, justice and equality is everywhere the same. Rawls and company are not just an American problem; they are a problem for everyone. It does not matter whether a critique of Rawls comes from America or Scotland or England, so long as someone formulates it. There are others who wrote critically about Rawls: Roger Scruton and John Gray. The latter wrote a good book in the early 1990s called, Liberalisms (plural). It is worth rereading today.

Secondly, for critique of Rawls to be effective, one needs to undermine that which underlies Rawls project, that is egalitarianism. His whole theory of justice is based on the premise of the equality of outcome, and unless we go after equality, show how detrimental it is to man’s private life and social organization, we will always have another Rawls, another theory of justice. What is needed is a serious historical work, which shows how the egalitarian world came about. No one who read Peter Laslett’s The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age (1965) would give credence to Marx and Engels’ philosophy of history. As Laslett shows, in his line-by-line commentary to The Communist Manifesto, it was based on an erroneous interpretation of history. Jonathan Clark is doing similar revisionist work, and everybody who is interested in the subject of Liberalism should read his Revolution and Rebellion and The Language of Liberty.

Be that as it may, here is what I would like to ask: unlike Western Europeans and North Americans who lived through the entire time under the roof of liberal democracy, Eastern Europeans did not; their experience between 1945, the end of WWII, and 1989, the end of Communism, was different. We were inoculated against ideological thinking. Are Poles, for example, better equipped to formulate such arguments and thus can better offer their Western friends a piece of advice?

PN: I do not think so. For this I blame the stupid, naive, childish and probably unrequited love of Poles for the United States. For millions of Poles, Anglo-Liberalism (please do not confuse it with the economic doctrine of Jeffrey Sachs and Leszek Balcerowicz) will always be associated with freedom that was still there in the 1980s.

ZJ: As for my decision to put out Mill’s minor writings, I wanted to find out who is responsible for the social, moral and political chaos today. Not the chaos and demoralization created by socialism, but the chaos in the formerly admired liberal democracies. Mill appeared to me to be the best candidate. As I was preparing my first volume of his writings, I started realizing that he is to Liberalism what Marx is to Socialism. Just like Marx was not the first socialist, nor was Mill the first Liberal. But they both gave full expression to two traditions that existed before them. They codified them and made them into coherent systems.

When you read those minor writings (the second volume is scheduled to appear in the Fall) you no longer see Mill as the serious philosopher (as per, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, or Considerations on Representative Government, but an angry social activist, a propagandist, polemicist, who, like Marx wants to change the world.

What you are struck by is his dislike of the old hierarchical order – the aristocracy, the Anglican Church, religion, the State and, finally, his love of equality. This is what motivated his philosophy of Liberalism. To be sure, he was less radical than Marx and Engels, but his vision of the future of the world is similar: it is a world in which equality reigns supreme. This is what he says on the last two pages of his Utilitarianism, which sounds very much like Marx/Engels’ Communist Manifesto. And equality, like classless society in Marx, is what drives the liberal world today. I consider it to be a dangerous state of mind, which will not stop before it destroys all social institutions. Socialism did it then. Liberalism is doing it now.

PN: You suggested I read Mill, for which I would like to thank you separately. I took his minor writings seriously, and my colleagues in the editorial staff of Kronos magazine found them interesting as well. We decided to translate a considerable portion of them and devote the issue to Mill. I hope that it will contribute to the debate you care so deeply about here, in Poland.

It is true, there is a lot in them about equality – a noble idea in general, which our times have so exaggerated and vulgarized. For example, mentally ill and dysfunctional people are considered not to be different from healthy people. They are “just different.” The result is that we undermine the category of mental health, and thus we can’t cure them. We are not allowed to talk of disease; we use the language of “different sensitivity.” Less and less attention is being paid to crime victims.

At the same time, huge public funds are being committed to the resocialization of criminals, who often see themselves as victims of the social system, unable to take responsibility for what they have done. My daughter wanted to pursue this topic professionally – she graduated from forensic psychology at one of the English universities – but was successfully dissuaded from doing that. There are topics that may not be discussed in today’s academia! And that is utterly unprecedented! Wasn’t that what the right to freedom of expression was about, especially in academic matters? Was it not also postulated by Mill in On Liberty? The same Mill, who called for the liberalization of the law in relation to criminals.

Today the majority has been cornered by the minority. Nay! By numerous minorities who demand the same rights as the majority. Western democracies are on the brink of a civil war.

ZJ: You expressed concerns not just about American universities but also referred to the French ones, the intellectual scene there, and the French romance with Marxism. To be sure, Poles, unlike the French, may not find reading Marxist literature palatable, but in their general outlook, their thinking about the State as a provider of all kinds of goods and services, the power of centralized government, are, in my opinion, not different from that of the French. The Americans too. Whether it is the French egalité or Marx’s classless society, the Poles and other Europeans are true believers in equality. I would even go further: I would say that post-socialist countries may be in a worse situation than the Western European countries because we have had a state-sponsored egalitarian (Marxist) ideology for 45 years. We may have shaken off the Marxist new-speak, but not necessarily the belief in equality which socialism engrained in us. It is what Liberalism is doing now in the countries which by Marxist standards were class societies.
The alternative to equality of any kind and provenance would be a society based on hierarchy, merit, and privilege. All three were the primary object of Mill’s attack. Except for Sir Roger Scruton and Jonathan Clark, I do not know of anyone who would dare to defend it. Say to the Poles that you are a partisan of hierarchy and inequality based on merit, and you are likely to be socially decapitated, just like in the US. I believe you experienced it as well.

PN: I prefer not to talk about personal experiences, which will not teach anyone anything who refuses to understand the problems of the liberal societies we live in. On the other hand, people like us – you and I – understand the danger all too well. All I can say is that we are coming awfully close to communist reality in various fields, where people were destroyed for even being suspected of having views contrary to the existing ideology. Unless we wake up from our progressive dream, totalitarianism will always be with us.

As for your question about the Poles, let me give you an example. Poles have always shed their blood. You know the slogan “For your freedom and ours.” Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the commander of the Polish Army during the 1794 uprising against Russia, was one of the Polish generals who came to America to fight in the war of independence. He designed the defenses of West Point during the revolutionary war, and, later, suggested to Jefferson that Americans establish a military school for officers. There is a monument of Kosciuszko at West Point and on the square in front of the White House. Now he did not go to America because he was a partisan of equality! He just could not bear the thought that there are people who live in bondage. When he was returning to Poland, he left Jefferson his American estate to sell and use all the money from the sale – well over a million dollars in today’s money – to free as many Blacks as possible. I was tempted to find out how many people could be freed for it and it turned out to be about a hundred!

ZJ: Thank you, Professor Nowak, for such an interesting and invigorating conversation.

The featured image shows, “The Fair at Kawaria Zabrzydowska, Poland,” by Wojciech Weiss, painted ca. 1913.

About A Certain Left

In these pandemic times, even more than usual, how can we not be struck by the sheepish conformism of our fellow citizens, and by their lack of thirst for freedom, happily sacrificing it rather than accepting the inevitability of risk related to the use of freedom? The way in which the government has infantilized the French since the first lockdown – without even considering that it could have played the trust card, thus sparing social relations and the economy – and the fairly general acceptance of this humiliating situation – have revealed the stranglehold of power and the media on minds less and less able or willing to emancipate themselves from this double tutelage.

If the health crisis is an exemplary case study of this lack of love for freedom, it is unfortunately far from the only one. Anti-racist laws, laws of historical memory, etc., have long been limiting freedom of expression, while giving ad hoc organizations undue power to exercise vigilant policing of thought, when existing laws were more than adequately sufficient. But the machine went into overdrive with the emergence of gender theory first, then with “decolonial” theses and “cancel culture,” and now with “wokism.”

Against The Most Basic Common Sense

All this nonsense should never have expanded beyond the small groups that conceived it, so much does it clash with the most basic common sense. Nevertheless, it has firmly planted itself through the complicity of the cultural world and the media, all won over to the most progressive ideas. This system, which guarantees political correctness, blocks all debate, eliminates or disqualifies all opposition and thereby hinders freedom of expression.

The strong tendency to want to silence the opponent, especially by demonizing him, is, in France, the prerogative of a certain left. It was again observed quite recently when a minister dared to evoke the presence of “Islamo-leftism” at the university. While that is obvious for all to see, this left did not even seek to respond by way of debate, and instead took offense at such audacity and demanded that the minister apologize or resign.

I am talking about a certain left; but it is clear that it increasingly encompasses the whole of the left, even the environmentalists. Admittedly, there are the Chevènementistes still attached to the nation, or intellectuals who escape these sectarian ways and who still call themselves left-wing like Jacques Julliard, Natacha Polony or Michel Onfray – not to mention Jean-Claude Michéa who does not consider himself to be left but socialist. Alas! However sympathetic they may be, they hardly count for much on the left any longer – and many others, such as Alain Finkielkraut, have ended up leaving the left to think freely.

Hatred of Historic France

The characteristic of this left is its visceral hatred of France taken in the totality of its historical being and especially of its Christian dimension. No doubt it draws its repulsion from the Revolution and its consequences. Marxist internationalism, calling for the union of the proletarians of all countries, has contributed to this rejection of the nation and engraved in stone its schema of thought: history is governed by the struggle of the victims against their oppressors; yesterday the proletarians against the bourgeois, then the “democrats” against the ever-reviving “fascism;” today the “racialized” against the Whites, Muslims against Westerners, women against men, the LGBT against the whole earth. In short, it is always a question of pitting men against each other, the good against the bad, until the supremacy of the “bad guys” is overthrown, including by violence – hence, by the way, the explanation of the moral posture that the left likes, based on victim ideology, a person of color, a Muslim, a woman, a homosexual – being by nature a victim of the white, heterosexual and Christian patriarchal order. No social friendship, not even a simple peace, is possible according to this revamped Marxist logic that stirs up divisions: it is a political philosophy of civil war.

No society can endure in self-hatred as this sectarian and deeply anti-democratic left pushes us to do. This left succeeded in imposing its deleterious and crazy vision because of the cowardice of the “silent majority” which just ends up accepting everything. But far worse is the absence of a concerted opposition, even among the other lefts who all got on the progressive train by abandoning the social and latching on to rights, and which, with a few exceptions, have still not grasped the primacy of the war of ideas and its cultural dimension.

Christophe Geffroy is the founder and publisher of La Nef. Books include, Faut-il se libérer du libéralisme? Rome-Ecône: l’accord impossible? L’islam, un danger pour l’Europe? and Benoît XVI et la paix liturgique. This article appears courtesy of La Nef.

The featured image shows, “The Martyr of Equality. Behold the Progress of our System,” a colored lithograph, dated 1793.

Of Universities And Their Collapse

Briefly, I would like to discuss Allan Bloom’s anticipations, from his excellent essay on the collapse of the university. But first, let me give you an excerpt from it:

Democracy, or the egalitarian regime, must (…) perforce have utility as its primary motive: it is founded on the rule of all, and the vital desires and the fear of death are shared by all – as opposed to the desires for glory and pure knowledge which are rare. This devotion to utility is particularly true of modern democracies, the theory of which was precisely to encourage the self, regarding passions as a sure means to political consensus. Disinterested love of the truth is particularly threatened in democracy… In modern democracies the universities have… attempted to provide a basis for the cultivation of the theoretical life which finds only thin soil elsewhere in the society. The university, to the extent it represented the theoretical life, is more a memory than a reality… One need only look at academic philosophy and the social sciences to see how irrelevant the tradition has become to them. They suppose they have found new methods in the light of which the older teachings appear primitive.

In the 1960s, universities all over the world experienced protests directed against traditional forms of education. The state, accused of authoritarianism and of hindering intellectual freedoms, had completely surrendered the system of higher education. It had, literally, abandoned the University and fled. For some time, the University belonged to no one. Yet, this situation couldn’t last long, because an abandoned object, especially when it presents a significant value, quickly finds a new owner and is taken over. Thus, the University fell into the hands of business and administration, that have provided it with a new purpose: utility.

This hostile take-over of the University by the market was accompanied by a bureaucratization of academic life, its – so to speak – “Americanization;” for the American model assumes that scholars are a bit like children, who don’t know what managing a corporation means, are not aware that teaching is business as good as any other, or even better than others, especially when you consider that everyone has to finish one school or another. In this way, at European universities, where administration used to play a rather marginal role, “America” had been discovered. The University could finally begin to lay down golden eggs. In April 1968, almost 2000 German professors protested against this sort of “Americanization” of the University, as well as against the increasing role of students’ bodies and academicians with lower degrees. With no results. Decisions had been made and the battle for the University was lost. Let’s see, what this change really meant.

The change meant an alteration of a definition of the University, as well as of the institution itself, which aimed at transforming it into a corporation. Anyone, who has difficulty with composing a senseless syllabus, who struggles with filling out an 11th evaluation questionnaire this year, who opposes blackmail by troglodyte students understands this perfectly. An “Americanization” of the contemporary University is about subduing it to the administration and allowing a corporate system to shape academic structures.

Ernst H. Kantorowicz in his brilliant and humorous essay about how pre-Nazi, German universities functioned proved that limiting the University’s freedom, a bureaucratization of even the simplest tasks, such as, grading a student, is just a prelude to totalitarian solutions on a much broader scale. That is why we have to move out from the University, at least for a while, and go beyond the stiff institutional framework. I can do at the University, whatever it expects me to do. I will fill out forms, give reports, apply for grants, write in English and Chinese (No, I won’t write in Chinese!) – but I will go elsewhere to think. I am not offended. I simply accept the rule, according to which I receive my paycheck for different things, than thinking. This is the new deal, which I accept, since it has been forced upon me.

Well, I have been doing this for more than a decade now anyway. With my colleagues I run a foundation, which publishes important, though usually unprofitable books. We organize conferences, give scholarships to young academicians. We move philosophy to the opera-house and into media. We show that thinking is sexy. And you don’t need big money to do that. Big money is necessary in sciences.

The thing is that the humanities, broadly taken, is no science. It is a craft, which allows the building up of national culture. Elements of graph theory, or research on non-linear optics – this is science, and it would be good to combine it somehow with new technologies, because it is here, on the free market, where it can display its efficiency. It is different with culture. It seems too fragile to be able to hold its place in the free market, without the help of the state.

I could suggest here a number of solutions, which would support such aims of the University, for example, freeing the humanities from the obligation of parametrization, which is used to measure progress in natural sciences. Yet, instead, I will formulate a more general postulate: let’s return the University to the state. Let’s make it an element of the system of state institutions responsible for culture and national heritage.

Piotr Nowak is Professor of Philosophy at the Bialystok University in Poland, deputy editor‐in‐chief of the annual Kronos. Philosophical Journal. He is the author most recently of The Ancients and Shakespeare on Time: Some Remarks on the War of Generations. He has published, among others, in Philosophy and Literature. He is also the host of TV shows.

The featured image shows, “Lorenzo Tornabuoni Presented by Grammar to Prudentia and the other Liberal Arts,” by Sandro Botticelli, painted ca. 1483–1486.

We Have Two Memories

In the past, when ancient history was still being taught a little (in 6th grade, the part on great civilizations), our children learned of the worth of Egypt and Babylonia in the history of human adventure. Ancient Greece weighed heavily in these programs. The grand dame. We owe her a lot, not everything, but a lot. Little was known about Indian civilization. Their jumble of gods, it is true, would doubtless have panicked the schoolchildren: the teachers even more. Besides, with the two great ancestral lands alone, there was plenty to do, even before Sumer and the Epic of Gilgamesh were extolled. Above all, whether it is conscious or not matters little, this teaching around these various deities was accompanied by a questioning of the origin of civilizations: how they are born, how they die. With India, we must add: how they endure.

Having emerged and developed at the same time as the old ancestral lands of Mesopotamia and Egypt, this ancient civilization does not belong like them to a bygone past: the Indian adventure continues before our eyes. This durability, it owes to tradition. The literary texts on which all Indian conceptions are based were composed at a very ancient time, and transmitted orally for a surprisingly long period before being written. If alterations occurred, they manifested themselves very slowly; distorting an initial theme with flourishes, but retaining for millennia the trace of the initial theme. Buddhist texts also participate in this strange mania for an endlessly modulated motif, which explains a literature of overwhelming abundance, terribly repetitive and, let’s face it, deadly boring.

Our civilizations marked by writing have forgotten that before writing, we spoke. Philosophers would say in their learned (or curious) language that there is ontological pre-decision of speech over writing. Whether at the level of the individual, or at the level of an emerging society, all civilization has first of all an oral language, which it can fix in writing (or choose not to), grammar and tutti quanti. The birth of writing, we know thanks to Jean Bottero, is trivial, for accounting purposes – we need to calculate, record stocks, write a contract; it’s commercial recording. And then comes poetry, the ardent desire to constitute a romance of the people, the land, the kings. An ardent desire to last, therefore, to transmit. Because we have two memories, as the geneticist Pierre Grasset said. Culture must reprogram itself; hence the importance of this cultural memory, which increasingly depends on the written word.

But the written part of the transmission is analogously, as in the theater, the text. We transmit through practices, uses, doings, and know-how; and then also, in addition, through writing – which matters. Don’t get me wrong. But it is not the main thing.

We had a great orientalist university tradition, and in particular an Indianist tradition, which brought India into our episteme (with a lot of myopias and a few mirages). We also have had an anthropological tradition of Africanists who made known the gesture of the Dogons of Mali and the techniques of orality, of this African palaver which we must be careful not to speak ill of: it is a dimension of the “phatic” language. as much as instrumental.

Why is it so difficult for us to admit that the Gospels could have been spoken and recited? How come it is so difficult for us to admit that the Gospels could have been composed perfectly in Aramaic by Aramaeans, even though they are said to be crude people, except John? Simple people do not speak the language of culture; they do not speak Greek or Latin. How is it that it is impossible for us to come back to the question of these gospels supposedly written in Greek, despite the work of Jean Carmignac, Claude Tresmontant, and more recently, those of Pierre Perrier, Joseph Alichoran and Jean -François Froger? The work of Pierre Perrier in particular has made it possible to unearth this tradition of orality which comes to us from early Christianity. This obviously calls into question some dogmas that come from centuries of Protestant exegesis, from that critical historicism which is nothing but an apostasy shrouded in academic scientificity.

Coming from a Jewish religion, born in an eastern land, where Aramaic had been spoken for centuries, and where Hebrew was undoubtedly still spoken, Christ did not incarnate as a kind of an uneducated Aramaic man, among Aramaeans even more uneducated than he, from whom he chose men precisely for their ignorance, the supposed guarantor of an equally supposed humility, as certain ignorant priests tell us on Sundays in their astonishing homilies.

The language is not there first of all because men want to talk to each other and sign marriage or sales contracts. The language is there because there is speech; that is to say, the ultimate human fact. Language is there for man to enter the world of meaning and knowledge, starting with the knowledge of his own nature.

The Apostles were undoubtedly imperfect men; and their first imperfection was that they did not always fully understand what Rabbi Yeshuah was explaining to them, which from time to time made him nervous or at least insistent: “Do you understand what I am telling you?” Apparently, they did not fully understand these stories of the temple being His body; at least not until the Helper in charge of the rest of the company arrived.

Vedic India has transmitted for millennia texts it held to be sacred, the Vedas. A caste of Brahmins (people specialized in the management of the sacred word), assumed or arrogated to themselves the charge of the transmission of this revealed knowledge, transmitted orally; then fixed in writing, in Sanskrit say the specialists. On this point, we can believe them.

Thus, oral transmission did constitute a sort of monopoly of Indian and African civilizations, while the Christianized European world became incapable for all eternity of any memorization of texts considered important, so important that we too have specialists who are in charge of this sacred deposit and whose transmission comes from the Apostles. Yes, we too have a certain sense of Transmission.

Eastern Christians have the gospel in their hearts, memorized from childhood, through supporting each other with tonic-postural techniques and gestures linked to the bi-lateralization of the human body. The whole Bible is actually written in an oral style, intended to support this effort at memorization, something modern translations fail to capture and even carefully redact. In his time, Marcel Jousse had the intuition of these memorial gestures and had attempted a new anthropology. If it didn’t get the impact it deserved, it’s not just because of an unnecessarily complex formulation of these brilliant hunches. This is because the Himalayas of prejudice against our sacred texts, the legacy of two centuries of largely Protestant historicist exegesis, has continued to wreak havoc.

Eastern Christians knew the Gospel by heart, rooted in their very corporeality, with the language associated with it, the tongue of Christ. The ferocious hatred which persists against this heroic people, the last vestige of the divine Presence incarnate, through the spoken language and the kept traditions, invites us to take seriously the question of the Prince of this world. And their heroism makes the poverty of our lived and internalized Christianity all the more pathetic.

Our Christian children – those few that actually still go to catechism – have catechism books which begin with the great cycle of evolution from the primate cousin to the modern man, with the different stages that show how he gradually came to stand straight. How we were able to print this lamentable diagram on the first page – that should leave us speechless. And furious.

The question of evolution is obviously an intriguing affair. And it is arguably one of the most formidable questions about the chasm between the text of Genesis and the scientific fiction which accounts for our supposed evolution. The respective cemeteries of the history of science and that of philosophy are full of scientific fictions.

Children should be told that when faced with the question of the “historical” origin of man, we do not have and doubtless never will have a clear answer; and that it matters little to know that there is a very old skeleton that the stupid media hastens to proclaim “the first man.” A day will come when an even older skeleton will be found that will be claimed to be the prototype of humanity.

The answer that Genesis gives are the principles of intelligibility of our human nature that does not depend on time, since it comes from a creator God. Or that doesn’t just depend on the weather. Our horizon is not Covid 19, nor biological death that we wave before our eyes with great reinforcements of anxiety-provoking speeches. Our horizon is participation in Eternity – when history and creation will have entered into the fullness of what we call the “times.” Then we will see history as it really is – not an endless march of empires, a frightening succession of wars, of kingships, of dynasties, of destruction, of competing economies, of stories of pandemics, of techniques, great men and forgotten peoples – but like the march of Love, silent and yet royal.

Thomas Aquinas said that time is coextensive with Eternity. That’s a difficult concept. In the past, certain words, certain formulas were given to meditate in the night of intelligence – there, where a new light sparkles – that of the Helper who is waiting that we might enter it, during this dark night of our immortal soul – that we may hear and see what human language cannot teach us when it has become too poor or too arrogant. And that maybe which it wasn’t meant to teach us.

We have two memories, the cultural memory and the memory of Eternity. The one, singled out in one or more languages, in a country or a region, in a genealogy. It is precious and it is fragile. The other. carried by the history of Israel, and extended by 2000 years of Christianity and ecclesial history, in a Revelation that it is up to Christians to transmit, by way of all their living flesh, in all the languages of the world, because He who is its object is the living Word, the source of all living words.

Marion Duvauchel is a historian of religions and holds a PhD in philosophy. She has published widely, and has taught in various places, including France, Morocco, Qatar, and Cambodia.

The featured image shows, “Over Eternal Quiet,” by Isaac Levitan, painted in 1894.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 8

Well, chaps, one or two of these are likely to be over the heads of the common herd, so I am assisting with a few select images. The first joke alludes to a famous Caspar Friedrich painting. Ernest Trobridge designed fantastic houses in unfashionable petit-bourgeois London suburbs like Kingsbury. Hands up who’d prefer to live in one of these rather than an overpraised Le Corbusier villa, baking in summer, freezing in winter, with a roof that constantly leaked?

Talking of over-praise, someone all of you will have heard of (and I bet you wish you hadn’t) is Patti Smith. Excellent LP in Horses, but she should have been confined to her stables these past 40 years. I have a good mind to start a campaign to get her expelled from the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The juxtaposition of Alfred Stevens’s Valour and Cowardice and the endearing Oscar the Grouch (clearly inspired by Diogenes), is too irresistible not to reproduce. I wanted to include this reference in the entry I penned on Stevens for the Grove Dictionary of Art, but the editor said no, probably because many readers of the GDoA wouldn’t know their Sesame Street. But they do have a sense of humour, as attested by volume 19 of the series, “Leather to Macho.” Furthermore, at my insistence they included an entry on Maurice Sendak. Bless! I will squeeze in an extra joke in the hope that Nirmal won’t notice [Ed. he noticed!]. You didn’t know this but Maurice Sendak had aspirations as a songwriter as well as an illustrator. So he sent his idol, Elvis Presley, his new song. Unfortunately Elvis was distinctly unimpressed, and told Colonel Parker: “Return to Sendak!”

How might one best describe an unsuspecting student exposed to the New Art History in c. 1990? A Wanderer in the Sea of Fog.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818.

A great G.F. Watts painting fetched a record price at Sotheby’s yesterday. The Sun’s headline: “500,000 Watts!”

Exhibitions they would never dare put on:
Popular vs Art World Realism: W.P. Frith and Edouard Manet
Bastien-Lepage vs. The Impressionists
Battle of the Styles: Le Corbusier and Ernest Troubridge
Miami Baroque: The Architecture of Maurice Lapidus
Good and bad pottery: Alan Caiger-Smith and Grayson Perry
Prince Charles and the Architecture of Good Manners
Making Britain Great Again: The Margaret Thatcher Era (V&A)
Contrasted Bodies: Alberto Giacometti and Fernando Botero
(or maybe Ample Bodies: Gaston Lachaise and Fernando Botero)
The Male Gaze: Alberto Vargas and Mel Ramos.

Ernest Trobridge, Buck Lane, Kingsbury, London, ca. 1920s.

And major retrospectives of any of the following:
Félicien Rops; Frank Brangwyn (outside Brugge); Frank O. Salisbury; Rowland Hilder; Albert Speer; John Bratby; Rolf Harris; Beryl Cook; Thomas Kinkade; Margaret Keane.

And major exhibitions I hope will never be put on: Bob Dylan; George W. Bush; the watercolours of Prince Charles; Winston Churchill, painter; anything by or about Patti Smith or Derek Jarman.

Great art historical juxtapositions somehow avoided by curators:
William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat; Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram.
Edward Burne-Jones, The Golden Stairs; Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica; Frank O. Salisbury, The Coronation of King George VI (both 1937).
Alfred Stevens, Valour and Cowardice; Sesame Street Workshop, Oscar the Grouch.

What did a French photographic connoisseur say when he was shown a Fox Talbot calotype? “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas Daguerre!”

What is Rodin’s yummiest sculpture? The Burgers of Calais.

Art to charm your vegan friends: The Butcher’s Shop (Annibale Carracci); almost anything by Snyders, Oudry or Damien Hirst; Carcass of Beef (Chaim Soutine); and of course, Figure with Meat (Francis Bacon).

Added Joke (Rather, Five Added Jokes! Ed.)

The singer Shirley Bassey had an intellectual side, little known to her many fans. She was an avid reader of British poetry of the 1930s. Hence her famous hit, “Hey, Big Spender!”

A Hitler witticism: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Röhm was destroyed in a night!”

13th century political gossip: “My friend Lance is a bit of a leftie… Doesn’t believe those vilains are villains and he signed the Magna Carta, don’t you know!”

A famous politically correct Anglo-Saxon: Hereward the Woke.

Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.

The featured image shows, “The Laughing Boy (Jopie van Slouten),” by Robert Henri; painted in 1910.

Laurence Krauss, Or The “Incestuous” Universe

There is something extraordinary about astrophysicists. They have a rare gift of writing about very complicated problems in language intelligible to a general audience. Laurence Krauss, author of the best-selling A Universe from Nothing, is no exception. Just like his colleagues, he has a gift for clarity and gives his readers true pleasure in expanding their scientific horizons. However, what makes Krauss stand out from the crowd of his fellow physicists is his openly anti-religious fervor and rudeness.

Rudeness is, so to speak, his carte de visite, the way Krauss is. It is customary for him to preface his public appearances to religious audiences with, “I am sorry if I will offend someone…,” and, with the joy of a spoiled child who thinks because he is bright he will be excused for being rude, he prepares to spit on his audience for being ignorant, stupid or ridiculous. “I will ridicule nonsense wherever I find it.” And, since religion is, in his view, the biggest “non-sense,” Krauss travels the world to engage in debates with religious people of all stripes to expose religion for being what it is.

Physics is Krauss’ weapon in this crusade against Anti-Rationalism. And he uses it well against Christians and Muslims, who stubbornly wave at him the fairy-tale about creation of the world as it is presented in their Holy Books. Exclamatory phrases, such as “You do not know anything,” “I am sorry but you are ignorant,” “what you said is nonsense,” are in Krauss’ mouth like saliva dripping from an angry bulldog’s jaw. Watching him, one cannot help feel sad seeing his opponents beaten to the ground and humiliated.

Is Krauss really as bright as he believes himself to be, and are his arguments as strong as he thinks? All I can say is that apart from his truly informative exposés about the universe, what Krauss says is non-sense, and what he thinks are arguments are banalities, worn-out PC clichés which are more dangerous than the nonsense he is trying to combat in the name of “rationality” and “humanity’s dignity.”

Here is an example of Krauss’ nonsense. In Australia, where he came upon the invitation of a Muslim organization, he entered the lecture hall for a debate, and when, upon seeing men and women separated, he became truly hysterical and refused to speak before “the order” of mixing the sexes was introduced.

When Krauss’ debater, Hamza Tzortzis, a well-disposed young Muslim scholar, whom Krauss “debated” by humiliating him, asked in desperation: if you do not believe in absolute grounding for moral values, can you tell us “why is incest wrong?” this is what Krauss responded:

“It is not clear to me that it is wrong… The point is, most societies have a taboo on incest and it is an empirical one. Generally, incest produces genetic defects. So, in general, there is a physiological reason and a societal one, why incest is wrong. But, if you ask me the question, and this is an interesting question… it is because societies want to persist. But if you ask me a priori, for example, the question, if a brother and sister love each other and use contraception, is there something absolutely morally wrong about that, and, by the way, they did it once and it did not affect anything else… I do not think there is any absolute condemnation at that. In fact, if they love each other, and they go off and it does not affect anything else… would I recommend it? No. Would I be particularly happy about it? No. But would I would be willing to listen to arguments that are rational, maybe.”

Let me take apart what Professor Krauss said to help him understand consequences of what he said since he does not seem to, and the consequences are not trivial for a moral fabric of a society to ignore them.
The traditional argument, according to which incest as taboo was established in all societies because it causes genetic defects, is highly implausible. First, we have no evidence – written records, legislation, and such — that would tell us that incest had stopped because primitive societies discovered that it led to genetic complications. First, the discovery of such defects would not have been immediately obvious, and, second, would have to be discovered and accounted for by scientific methods which did not exist in pre-homo sapiens. What the traditional argument does is inscribe our Modern scientific world-view onto the constitutions of societies that by no stretch of imagination could think along scientific lines. There is as much evidence for Krauss’ claim as for the existence of Amazons.

Be that as it may, there are many other potential illnesses and defects much more obvious to the eye that could have been forbidden on account of a danger to survival of societies, and yet, they were not interdicted. No society, as far as I know, has forbidden schizophrenics, or epileptics, or lepers, or dwarfs to have children (Nor do we!) despite the fact that they do contribute to the deterioration of the gene pool. Furthermore, neither schizophrenia nor epilepsy nor autism, for instance, is considered taboo while incest is. And the question is, why? Before I answer this question, let me raise a few more points that Krauss’ answer addresses.

Krauss’ second argument that societies want to survive is weak, too. In the grand scheme of things, all species want to survive and incest is not uncommon among animals, but among humans it is a taboo. “Infidelity” to one’s mate in the animal kingdom is normal but among humans it is hardly tolerated by one’s mate and considered morally unacceptable. In short, animal behavior and thus science is hardly a guide to human social and moral life. If Krauss is convinced that survival is behind taboos, he must accept the corollary to his claim that says that since homosexuals cannot have children, incest interdiction would not apply to them.

Third, the literary style of the Biblical Ten Commandments, for instance, would easily lend itself to incest interdiction (Thou shall not commit incest), and yet, incest is not mentioned there. It is a puzzling omission given the fact that adultery, theft, coveting, inconsequential for defects, play a prominent role in the Commandments. We can assume that incest was a taboo which people instinctively understood but which did not require a special interdiction.

Fourth, even if we leave the Judeo-Christian universe with its God which in Krauss’ mind is responsible for much of our morally defective outlook, we do not enter Krauss’ universe but we bump into the same moral dilemma. Let’s take a literary record from a different tradition that tackled incest in an explicit way – the Greek tradition during Classical period. Sophocles’ story of Oedipus tackles the incestuous relationship of son and mother, which, to remind professor Krauss, took place in the absence of any knowledge of what their true relationship was.

The play ends with the mother Jocasta’s self-inflicted death and Oedipus’ blinding himself. Neither he nor she knew that they were related, and yet Sophocles makes them atone for being in such a relationship. Why did Sophocles think Jocasta should kill herself and Oedipus should take out his eyes? There is only one reason: the Greeks thought the Universe is a moral fabric which no individual can violate, even unknowingly. The point is all the more interesting given the fact that the Greek religion did not have a God who is the source of moral values, the way Judaism, Christianity and Islam have.

The instinctive understanding of the play is testified by its timeless popularity. Oedipus Rex is one of the seven tragedies, out of over the one hundred and twenty that Sophocles wrote, that survived the passage of twenty five centuries. Why? The Greek and later audiences understood the play because, unlike Laurence Krauss, they shared the same human moral disposition.

I can easily imagine professor Krauss standing up from his seat in the fifth century Athenian theater screaming in his typical hysterical style: the end of the play is stupid ; don’t you see that what Oedipus and Jocasta did is crazy; they should have stayed married and happily rule their kingdom.

Should we assume that Krauss condones incest? Granted, he was speaking spontaneously and had little time to think about it. When his opponent looked for his last argument like a drowning man looking for a straw, and threw incest in his way, Krauss was taken by surprise. But Krauss’ distinguishes between traditional and a priori arguments. While the first one is not necessarily what he believes, he is clear that he sees nothing absolutely wrong with it. He says that he would not recommend it, but it is like saying that I would not eat this particular dish because I am not fond of it but I do not mind if someone else orders it. True, de gustibus non disputandum but there are certain kinds of food humans do not eat, just like we do not do certain things the Nazis did: lampshades of human skin, for example.

Krauss’ rumbling about “genetics,” “survival” and “love” is a desperate way out of a rationally hopeless situation but is consistent with his other pronouncements on other occasions: “You will make bad policies if your policies are based on [religious] fairy-tales that are untrue. You will put women in bags, you will kill homosexuals or you might not allow them to marry, you will do that on the basis of ideas that are clearly ridiculous.” Accordingly, we should assume that because all or almost all policies informed by religious or theological considerations are dangerous or pernicious for societies, policies based on Krauss’ rational world-view must by definition be good for society.

Let’s see. Krauss’ third argument, about love between members of the same family is a piece of sentimental demagoguery. It says that “love” between members of one’s own family is a reason “to consider” incest as a legitimate form of sexual relationship, provided that we do not procreate. What Krauss says in effect is that as long as we do not lower the quality of our species’ genetic pool, any kind of love, and implicitly any kind of relationship, should be considered as legitimate – and, therefore, implicitly embraced by society (the opposite would be a sign of a lack of openness) and consequently legalized by the state. The only conclusion one can reach is that in Krauss’ “rational” universe anything goes.

Consistent with his suppositions, future societies might embrace sexual and marital relationships based on incest, polygamy, bestiality, or all of them in different configurations, and all based on Krauss’ conviction that individual choice by definition is rational since no form of interdiction is a priori possible. The opposite would be a sign of intolerance and religious bigotry.
What is troubling about Krauss’ nonsense is that the only criterion against incest is genetic defects. And if so, it would be only prudent to protect the species against all forms of genetic aberrations. What it comes down to in practice is empowering the state with supervision regarding sexual reproduction among its members. In short, it would a totalitarian nightmare based on rational calculation of the genetic pool. Kraussian rationality comes awfully close to the Nazi form of rationality, which allowed for sterilization of genetically defective people and the Spartan idea of throwing off the cliff the weaklings.

Because Professor Krauss failed to come up with an argument against incest, one can construct such an argument for him. It says that family relationships are based on piety and hierarchy that require respect. Love among family members is more like agape or philia, which connotes affection, not eros that abrogates hierarchy. Incest interdiction is unlikely to stem from society’s fear for survival, while the destruction of hierarchy between parents, children, siblings, the elderly and the young, is a sure way of destroying society in the name of individual choice and equality which underlie Krauss’ crusade.

Hierarchy, like respect, is not contractual and can neither be renounced nor can be broken at will; it is based on unwritten but implied obligations (or piety, if you will) that we have towards each other as members of family and human community, which transcends animalistic needs. This is what religion is about, and this is what Laurence Krauss fails to understand.
Krauss’ Anti-Nonsense crusade, the implications of which he clearly does not understand, does not augment the realm of rationality in public realm but, contrary to his own belief, increases the amount of nonsense since it grants every individual’s whim the status of the equally rational choices, the supposition which clearly is truly non-nonsensical.

Let me be clear, there are things that Krauss is very good at and should be commended for, and this is bringing the science of the universe to a general audience. Everyone who wants to learn about new theories of how the universe works should read his books. However, what he has to say about religion, social matters and morality is secular bigotry in disguise of a rational argument. His concept of rationality looks to me like a piece of Swiss cheese through which one can drive a truck.

The question is, of course, why is Krauss so vocal and active in his anti-Nonsense crusade and why do religionists debate him? Like many scientists, Krauss truly cares about science and displays a genuine zeal in bringing physics to “the people.” In this he reminds one of his fellow traveler Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and, more recently, his anti-religious manifesto God’s Delusion. Like Dawkins, he truly believes that religion is a problem to the propagation of science among young people keeping them intolerant. In this Krauss is a faithful follower of Voltaire, D’Alambert and Jefferson, who also saw it as their duty to ridicule religion in the name of Reason.

This was over two hundred years ago, and the Enlightenment thinkers can be excused for cherishing the sweet dream of the unlimited power of Reason as a beacon and tool in politics and morality. Over two hundred years later, after numerous and desperate attempts to come up with morality independent of religion, states based on rational ideologies, all we’ve got is Professor Krauss, a man who repeats almost verbatim eighteenth-century banalities believing in his own originality.

Why is Krauss listened to by large audiences? Partly because he is a good entertainer and passionate about his message; partly because he fulfills a social need among skeptical public with arguments that bear the semblance of objectivity. Even though he does not say anything new, they listen to him because he expresses their sentiments in language of “openness.” But there is another explanation. Each generation has public skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, who, armed with a hammer of Rationality, pound religionists in the hope that if they keep pounding them harder the latter will eventually change their minds.

This is not so and is unlikely to bring about the desired effect. Those who know the history of disbelief since the Enlightenment know that it is an embarrassingly uneventful history and it used only two arguments in a few hundred years. Neither of each advanced the debate, or destroyed the opponent. The first argument comes from science (mainly physics of the universe and evolutionary biology). Newer arguments did not advance much, perhaps with the exception of astrophysics which got to the point of claiming that we do not need the Cause (sic. Creator) to “create” the universe; the second argument is one that attacks the persona and the teaching of Jesus, which Dawkins favors. It comes down to Jesus’ story of redemption as being “appalling” to him on moral grounds. In this respect, Dawkins’ attitude reminds one of the long-forgotten Bertrand Russell’s Why I am not a Christian (1927) where he offers a somewhat similar argument against Jesus.

Be that as it may, the list of agnostics and atheists abounds in examples of people like the philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer who also fought “nonsense,” but who underwent clinical death, from which he emerged less certain that this life is all there is, and Anthony Flew, who spent his life fighting religion but in his late years became religion’s good friend.

There is also the question as to why religionists engage in a debate with Krauss and his friends. I have no explanation for why anyone would like to debate someone who spits on them. Nor do I grasp why Krauss wastes his time debating people he clearly despises and who, one needs to say, are too ignorant about science to offer a remotely reasonable argument that could not be used by Krauss to embarrass them. I suspect that Christians and some Muslims living in the Western world are fixated on the idea of dialogue, ecumenism, openness so much that they are willing to sit at the same table with someone who has nothing but contempt for them only in order to prove how “open” they are. The viewer of Krauss’ debates can feel nothing but pity seeing how they are ripped apart by a vicious lion.

Watching Krauss is like watching sadistic Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady tormenting poor Liza Doolittle. However, unlike Krauss’ religious debaters, Liza is willing to learn and knows her limits. “Just you wait, Henry Higgins…” goes a memorable line from the movie. And she gets her revenge by learning how to speak Higgins’ language. I cannot see the religiously minded crowd doing anything as remotely ingenious as she did, that is, learn to speak Krauss’ language and sing: “Just you wait, Professor Krauss.” I suspect that they are too afraid that if they learned science, they would have to abandon their faith in the Book of Genesis and thus would have to declare Krauss as victorious.

But there is also a question for Krauss: is he so naïve to think that he, like Higgins, would ever be able to say, “By George, they’ve got it!” The only explanation I have is that there is a kind of sado-masochistic dialectic that links the professor and the religiously minded debaters.

The latter are also too shy and intimidated by him to get him even when Krauss falls into his own trap, as he did with the incest question. What surprised me the most was that no one — neither the debater nor the audience –found the courage to throw Professor Krauss to the lions or call him the names he calls them. They listened to Krauss’ non-sense displaying restraint and politeness. Perhaps religion taught them to forgive him because he knows not what he says.

Zbigniew Janowski is a frequent contributor to The Postil. His latest book is Homo Americanus.

The featured image shows, “Talking Nonsense,” by Alice Wellinger.

The “News” Media’s War On Donald Trump: A Retrospective

Socrates: Do you mean the so-called ruler or the ruler in the most precise sense [of the word]?
Thrasymachus: I mean the ruler in the very precise sense of the word.
Plato, Republic(341b)

In Book 1 of the Republic Plato portrays an argument between Socrates, sometimes cited as the creator of “moral philosophy,” and the sophist Thrasymachus, about the nature of justice. Sophists are people who, as they were described in Plato’s time, seek “to make the worse appear the better cause,” that is, use deceptive techniques to make the bad and the false appear good and true (or vice versa).

In Book 1 of the Republic, Socrates puts forward a view about the nature of justice that Thrasymachus regards as the typical drivel of philosophers with “their head in the clouds.” Plato describes Thrasymachus as “gathering himself up like a wild beast” and “hurling himself upon [Socrates and his companions] as if he would tear [them] to pieces.” In brief, Thrasymachus is a bully. Socrates even admits to being “frightened” and put into a “flutter” by Thrasymachus’ savage attack, but after regaining possession of himself Socrates gets Thrasymachus to make a seemingly innocuous admission that changes the whole course of the argument, namely, to admit that if one is to have any faith in the conclusion of arguments one must couch the arguments in precise speech. For if one is not scrupulously precise in one’s language then any conclusion reached in the argument cannot be trusted.

By the end of Book 1, Socrates, employing precise speech, has shown that the views Thrasymachus states with so much arrogance and venom are the very opposite of the truth and he is reduced to sulking in the corner. Socrates has, so to speak, employed precise speech as an instrument of genuine reason to tame the “wild [sophistical] beast” and make him gentle and harmless. Since sophists have only proliferated since Plato’s day, and now control most of our government, our “educational” establishment, our “entertainment” industry, the “news” media and even, regrettably, most of our “woke” corporations, Plato’s insights are as relevant today as they were in the 4th century B.C.

One of the areas in which Socrates’ and Plato’s critique of sophistry is relevant to the contemporary political scene is the treatment of Donald Trump by the “news” media, the “educational” establishment and other contemporary “experts.” Trump has been viciously attacked from the moment he came down the escalator in 2016 to announce his candidacy for the presidency. It is difficult to imagine any heinous sin of which he has not been accused. One of the most basic of the accusations against Donald Trump is that he is “a divider.” The other charges are just special cases of this. He “divides” us by virtue of being a racist, a sexist, a bully, a homophobe, a dictator, a traitor, and so on. The “evidence” that he is all of these heinous divisive things is there for all to see in what he says, sometimes in what he “tweets.”

Trump, we have been told by our moral betters, has said that all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. He has bragged about grabbing women by the p—y. He has said that immigration is bad. He has even said that immigrants from Mexico are “animals.” He has demeaned Haitians and Africans by saying they come from “shithole” countries. He has said that the coronavirus is a hoax. He has endangered a plethora of lives by suggesting that people inject themselves with bleach to cure themselves of the virus. He has said that there were good people among the white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally. He lied that there was election fraud in the 2020 election. In early January before the two crucial Georgia senatorial elections had taken place, the Washington Post reported that in a phone call with a Georgia state official he told the Georgia official that they “would be a national hero” if they fabricated votes for him in the 2020 Georgia presidential election. Many national “news” media outlets, including the New York Times and CNN claimed they had independently verified this story.

One could add many more charges made daily against Trump by the “Democrats” and their media collaborators but these should suffice for the present. Admittedly, anyone who said such things would deserve to be criticized. In fact, however, should facts still be relevant, Trump has said none of these things. In some cases, he said the precise opposite of what has been attributed to him. In this essay, following Socrates’ method, should this still be permissible, I analyze Trump’s precise words in these and several other accusations and show that each of these is a fabrication, specifically, that the “Democrats” and their media colluders regularly embellish what Trump said with a bit of creative writing, so to speak, in order to pin an irresponsible “divisive” view on him.

Although it should not be necessary to do so, the inability in our age, given what has been done to our “educational” system over the last several decades, to make simple distinctions requires me to emphasize that the argument of this essay does not imply agreement with Trump’s actual statements or the way he said them. I myself would not have said the things Trump has said and certainly would not have said them in the way he said them. The present article is not about Trump. It is not an attempt to defend what he actually said. That would be a separate very different kind of article. This article is about the “news” media and their “Democrat” collaborators. It is concerned only with the specific question whether Trump actually said the things the “news” media and the “Democrats” regularly attribute to him.

I. Trump’s Alleged Unacceptable Claims

1. All Mexicans Are Rapists And Drug Traffickers

Consider one of the first of the Trump statements that set the Democrat Party and the “news” media into a frenzy, his statement, upon first coming down the escalator in 2016 to announce his candidacy for the presidency, that all Mexicans are rapists and drug traffickers. This accusation has been repeated over and over and over again by “Democrats” and members of the “news” media for over 4 years. Consider a small sample!

On April 6, 2018 Byron Wolf of CNN said that “Trump basically called Mexicans ‘rapists’ again” and adds that “Trump continues to generalize such allegations against a large group of people.” On Aug. 31, 2016 Tessa Stuart of Rolling Stone published an article titled “Donald ‘Mexicans are Rapists’ Trump Goes to Mexico.” On June17, 2017, Amber Phillips of the Washington Post published an article titled “They’re Rapists: President Trump’s Campaign Speech Two Years Later, Annotated,” in which the accusation is repeated.

On April 6, 2018, Michelle Mark of Business Insider published an article titled “Trump just referred to one of his most infamous campaign comments: calling Mexican’s rapists.” On June 25, 2015, Greg Allen, in an article titled “Univision Cuts Ties with Trump After Comments about Immigrants,” quotes a rather confused Sean Spicer as saying that that Trump’s “broad brush” on Mexican Americans is “not helpful to the cause.”

In fact, Trump did not “basically call Mexicans ‘rapists’ again,” he did not “generalize such allegations” about all Mexicans, he did not “disparage Mexican immigrants,” he did not paint “Mexican-Americans with a broad brush,” and so on. However, in order to see this one must not allow one’s personal prejudices, emotions or political affiliations from distorting one’s understanding of some relatively simple sentences. Rather, one must take Socrates’ advice when dealing with the sophists of his day and examine Trump’s precise words:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.

Trump explicitly says that not all Mexicans are rapists and drug traffickers, for he concludes by saying that some of them are “good people.” In fact, some of his critics, after a lot of hard thought with which they are evidently not accustomed, eventually admitted this. Even so, one might accuse Trump here of tokenism, that is, of only admitting that a few Mexicans here and there are good people. However, that is not the main reason why Trump did not accuse all Mexicans of being criminals. For, Trump makes no claim whatsoever about “all” Mexicans (This is the point where “Democrats” and the “news” media may need to look up what the word “all” means). Trump’s statement only refers to that subset of people that Mexico is “sending.”

Further, since Trump explicitly contrasts this subset of Mexicans that Mexico is “sending,” with Mexico’s “best,” the one’s Mexico is not sending, one must infer that Trump does not ascribe these vile qualities to Mexico’s “best.” That is, put directly, Trump’s remark implies that not all Mexicans are rapists and drug traffickers. The “Democrats” and the “news” media have in this case ascribed to Trump the exact opposite of what he actually said.

It is worth noting that even Politifact, a left-leaning “fact-checker” with Democrat party connections, has, on August 8, 2016, pointed that Trump never said what Hillary’s vice-presidential choice, Tim Kaine and many others, have accused him of saying:

Kaine has embellished the controversy by saying Trump has said “all Mexicans are rapists.” The Democrat doesn’t come close to proving his claim; all of the Trump quotes Kaine’s campaign sent us pertain to unauthorized [emphasis added] immigrants crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

Despite the fact that even Politifact admits that Trump never made that stronger statement about “all” Mexicans, the charge is repeated ad nauseam by Democrats and media personalities and it often even goes unchallenged on Fox “News.” Further, although more accurate than some outlets, Politifact still did not get it completely right. Trump did not say that it is only the “unauthorized immigrants” that are rapists and drug traffickers. He said that the immigrants that Mexico is sending are rapists and drug traffickers. Trump made no statement whatsoever about some ordinary person who crosses the border illegally on their own. Trump’s statement clearly refers only to organized efforts to “send” people illegally into the United States from Mexico. Does the word “coyote,” that is, a human trafficker, ring a bell for the “news” media?

It is, finally, worth referencing a conversation between CNN “star reporter” Jake Tapper with Trump reported by Theodor Schleifer in a June 5, 2016 article titled “Trump defends criticism of judge with Mexican heritage.” Schleifer reports how Tapper’s accuses Trump of racism. The precise wording of the conversation is reported by Schleifer as follows:

Trump: “He’s proud of his heritage. I respect him for that,” Trump said, dismissing charges that his allegation was racist. “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
Tapper: “If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?”

It is, apparently, necessary to go very slow here for CNN’s “star reporter” and the rest of the “news” media that has an unhealthy obsession to find racism in everything Trump. In the case at hand, Jake, a little too eager to do his bit for the cause, has apparently forgotten that “Mexican” is not a racial classification. The point is not difficult. The people from Mexico are Mexicans regardless of their race, and there are people of many different “races” in Mexico. There are “white” Mexicans, “black” Mexicans, “brown” Mexicans and so on.

The current Wikipedia article titled “Demographics of Mexico,” providing multiple references for documentation, lists the demographics of Mexico as follows: 47% of Mexicans are called “Castizo” or “mostly European or white European descendants. 27% are “Mestizo” with a mixture of European and indigenous populations. 21% are indigenous native Americans. The article also lists 18% of the natural hair color in Mexico as blonde and 2% as red.

One well known example is Canelo Álvarez, perhaps Mexico’s most famous boxer at the present time, who has reddish hair and looks like he hails from Dublin. The current Wikipedia article on Canelo explains that many people in Mexico associate their red-haired citizens with the Irish soldiers who fought in the St. Patrick’s Battalion in the Mexican-American War. This is all apparently news to Tapper, who, as I understand it, studied history “modified by visual studies” as an undergraduate (perhaps, from the look of it, a bit more of visual studies than history).

2. Trump Called Mexicans “Animals”

On May 17th 2018 Miriam Valverde, in an article titled “In context: Donald Trump’s comments about immigrants, ‘animals’” quoted Diane Feinstein’s (D-California) condemnation of Trump for calling Mexicans “animals.”

Immigrants are not ‘animals.’ The president’s statement was deeply offensive and racist. Immigrants are our family and friends, and they make significant contributions to our country,” tweeted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California.

Of course, this accusation was repeated over and over again in the “news” media. The only problem is that Donald Trump did not make a racist remark about immigrants. Fortunately, Miriam provides Trump’s exact words again, not the words conjured by Diane Feinstein and adopted uncritically by a friendly “journalist.”

Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff, after thanking Donald Trump for his support, has the following exchange with Trump:

Mims: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 gang member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.
Trump: You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.

Trump is here explicitly referring to the immediately preceding statement made by Sheriff Mims about MS-13 gang members. He was not talking about all immigrants. He was talking about the gang that is regularly accused of torture, beheadings, child prostitution and terrorism, that is, as AG Bill Barr, in a July 15, 2020 press conference said, a gang in which “being the most savage, bloodthirsty person you can be and building up a reputation as a killer” is admired. Needless to say, comrade Feinstein and many other demagogues who momentarily forgot their occasional opposition to torture (when this is politically useful) saw this as an excellent opportunity to embellish Trump’s remarks to suit the Democrat Party-media narrative that Trump a racist.

3. Trump Is “Anti-Immigrant”

It has also become an article of faith among Trump’s critics on the left that Trump is “anti-immigrant.” In fact, Trump has never stated a general “anti-immigrant” position. His main focus has always been to stop illegal immigration. The following is typical of Trump’s statements on the matter:

This sustained influx of illegal aliens has profound consequences on every aspect of our national life — overwhelming our schools, overcrowding our hospitals, draining our welfare system, and causing untold amounts of crime. It must end NOW!

Usually, children acquire the ability to distinguish between snakes and poisonous snakes by the third or fourth grade, which is fortunate because this is an essential survival skill. However, for some reason, the “Democrat” Party and much of the “news” media seem unable to distinguish between immigrants and illegal immigrants. Trump has always opposed the latter, not the former. It is true that at points during his presidency Trump has attempted to reduce legal immigration as well, but the key word there is “reduce.” Trump has never called to end legal immigration.

Even when Trump moved to reduce legal immigration, he never moved to stop it altogether and claimed only to want to attract more talented immigrants (e.g., on May 16, 2019 the Wall Street Journal reported on Trump’s proposal for “a ‘common sense’ plan that ‘builds upon our nation’s rich history of immigration.”). In fact, it would be possible to have a reasonable discussion of Trump’s immigration policies if one could find serious people in the “Democrat”-media complex willing to do so.

Unfortunately, they have done what they usually do, namely, call Trump names and accuse him of being anti-immigrant by conveniently losing the ability to make the sort of mundane distinctions that should be mastered by a competent 3rd or 4th grader.

4. Trump “Derided Immigrants From Haiti And Africa”

In Jan. 12, 2018, the Democrat party and the media were sent into a frenzy when someone leaked a private conversation in which Trump allegedly referred to various countries populated largely by blacks and Latinos as “shithole” countries. One cannot recall ever seeing the Democrat Party and the “news” media so excited. Call this Trump’s Alleged Shithole Statement or TASS. One must say “allegedly” because Trump and others have denied that this is a correct description of what took place in that meeting and there is no direct evidence of what precisely he said, e.g., no tape recording. This did not of course prevent the Democrat-media complex from attributing the unqualified statement to Trump.

However, for the sake of argument let us assume that Trump did assert TASS and examine whether the interpretations put on it by Trump’s detractors are justified. Most of his accusers do not provide any precise interpretation of TASS but simply assume it is a racist statement, that being the easiest option since it requires no thought or mastery of the English language. The Atlantic claims that in TASS Trump “placed whites over Asians, and both over Latinos and blacks from “shithole” countries.”

In a report on Jan. 12, 2018 CNN announcers Eli Watkins and Abby Phillip state that in the remark Trump is “deriding immigrants from Haiti and Africa.” On January 12, 2018, Anderson Cooper, after, as usual, reminding viewers how great he is, how very much he cares, slammed Trump, sometimes choking back tears, for what he “has said… about Haitians.” Similar remarks were repeated endlessly by “Democrats” and in their agents in the “news” media. In fact, however, TASS is not even about Asian, black and Latino people. It is about certain of the countries in which they, along with “white” people, live. The specific type of inference used by Cooper and others to generate their talking points can be found in critical reasoning and logic texts in the chapter titled fallacies, or, more precisely, in the sub-section in that chapter that deals with “the fallacy of division” (e.g., in Copi and Cohen’s Introduction to Logic, 12th edition, Chapter 5, section 5.6, A5).

The fallacy of division is the fallacy in which one fallaciously infers that what is true of the whole is also true of the parts of that whole. For example, it would obviously be a fallacy of division to infer from the claim that an F-22 fighter is expensive that one of its parts, such as a rivet, is expensive – and this is precisely the kind of fallacy that proved so useful to so many in the Democrat party and the “news” media to convict Trump of racism (again). And, although this might come as “news” to the “news” media, one says very different kinds of things about countries and the people who live in them. A country C has a “gross national product” but John who lives in C does not have a “gross national product.” A country C has a certain population but Maria who lives in C does not have a certain population.

Trump’s TASS is about certain countries as wholes, not their citizen parts. It is, therefore, fallacious to infer from the claim that country C is a “shithole” country that the individual people who live in C are “shithole” people. TASS does not even imply that there is anything wrong with the people in C. A freshman critical reasoning text should be sufficient to settle the matter if the “news” media can find one.

Further, the claim that country C is a “shithole” country is not a racial statement. It is most naturally taken as a statement about that country’s standard of living, its gross national product, the quality of its educational system and medical system and so on. Thus, the claim that a country is a “shithole” country might actually be used in an argument that the people in C, being lovely people, deserve better. This more charitable interpretation did not, however, fit the Democrat-“news” media narrative and, accordingly, never made its way to their conscious minds.

Since Cooper’s award-worthy performance is representative of the rest, it is instructive to discuss it in some detail. I again leave aside the claim that the claim that Trump asserted TASS is alleged, not proven – something Cooper conveniently forgot to mention. The point here is that it appears that Cooper, with all his wealth (listed at Celebrity Net Worth as 200 million dollars), is unable, on the required occasions, to distinguish between a collective and its parts – that is, unable to recognize that from the claim that a whole state is a “shithole” one cannot legitimately infer that the parts of that state, its people, are “shithole” people. Presumably even Cooper, if he can choke back his virtue-signalling tears, is capable of realizing that if one calls the Soviet Union a “shithole” country, one is not calling its people “shithole” people or disparaging them in any way. Comrade Cooper can distinguish between a government and its people, right?

Something does not cease to be a fallacy just because Cooper and the “news” media needsto use it in order to run their mandated narrative du jour. For Cooper himself criticized the country of Haiti, not its people, when he referred to what the people of Haiti have “suffered” from their government and added: “For days and weeks without help from their government or police, the people of Haiti dug through the rubble with their bare and bloodied to save complete strangers.” That is, Cooper, his reasoning faculties apparently blinded by his lucrative emotional theatre, does not realize that he agrees with Trump’s alleged TASS. The country of Haiti, the collective whole, failed its people. That is what Trump’s TASS is saying. Cooper and Trump are in agreement, although Cooper’s need to virtue signal prevents him from seeing this.

The Atlantic article goes on to speculate what meaning TASS has to Trump supporters. Let me repeat this in order to make sure the point is clear. The Atlantic did not go out and ask Trump supporters what TASS means to them. That would require leaving their air-conditioned rooms and their pumpkin spiced latte – which is not in the cards. The Atlantic simply speculates what TASS means to Trump supporters,

Perhaps… the leaked conversation would resonate with [Trump’s] base. … Perhaps racist Americans see the browning of America as the shitholing of America. Perhaps, as former Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric L. Richmond responded, they hear “Make America Great Again” as “Make America White Again.”

The keyword, of course, is “Perhaps.” Such words also have a name in critical reasoning and logic texts. It is called a “weasel word.” When Bob’s used car dealer tells him that this car gets “up to” 36 miles per gallon, he is weaseling Bob because the statement does not mean that the car gets 36 miles per gallon. It is consistent with the car dealer’s statement that in ordinary driving it only gets 18 miles to the gallon. Weasel words are popular with used car dealers, politicians and “journalists” because almost anything can be said to be “perhaps” true. Perhaps America’s enemies are laughing at the damage the “news” media is doing to the United States right now. Perhaps “journalists” use “perhaps” so much because they don’t actually know anything. Perhaps unscrupulous people engage in racial demagoguery involving “weasel words” to advance their own career while they hurt innocent people and damage the nation.

In summary, the Democrat-media frenzy about Trump’s “shithole” remark is a complete fabrication that employs textbook reasoning fallacies to stir emotions for a political agenda. This is not serious journalism. It is a freshman critical reasoning homework assignment – one that the Democrat-media complex failed – but there is nothing new in that.

5. Trump Admitted To Grabbing Women By Their Private Parts

Another charge leveled against Trump prior to the 2016 election and repeated endlessly by the “Democrats” and the “news” media ever since is that Trump admitted to Billy Bush in the infamous Access Hollywood tape that he “grabs them [women] by the p—y” and gets away with it. In fact, Trump said no such thing. Once again, one must examine Trump’s precise words, should this be permissible. But before we do that, it is necessary to recall the context of Trump’s remark. First, Access Hollywood is, putting it mildly, not 60 Minutes, and Billy Bush is, putting it mildly, not Mike Wallace.

Setting the bar even lower, he is not even Chris Wallace. Second, in that conversation Billy Bush could be heard egging Trump on, trying to get him to make outlandish statements about his relations with women. Bush succeeded, but the whole tone of the conversation is unserious. Trump’s defense that this is locker room talk” is, therefore, in this context, somewhat plausible. However, to turn to the most important matter, Trump, even being egged on by Bush, did not say that he “grabs [women] by the p—y.” On the outside chance that today’s sophists cannot prevent us from following Socrates’ ancient call for precision, here are Trump’s precise words in that discussion:

I just start kissing [beautiful women]. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.

Trump does here admit that he just starts kissing beautiful women without permission. That sort of behavior is not acceptable. However, that is not the present issue. The present question is: did Trump admit to grabbing women by the p—y in this conversation? The answer is that he did not. Trump goes on to say that “stars” can grab women by the p—y, indeed, that “stars” can “do anything” to women, but he does not say that he personally does these things. The reply will be that everyone knows what Trump means. But, in fact, it could be argued that Trump draws a line here between what he admits to doing, automatically kissing beautiful women when he sees them, and grabbing them by the p—y. He explicitly admits to the former, not the latter.

It is worth noting, as an aside, that Bill Maher, apparently suffering from another temporary self-congratulatory bout of moral outrage, (mistakenly) criticized Trump for admitting to grabbing women by the p—y, but Jill Jameson, the former porn star, has, as reported in the Jan. 24, 2017 article titled “Ex-porn star Jameson claims Bill Maher a ‘p—y grabber’,” stated that she has seen Maher at the Playboy Mansion do precisely what Maher has wrongly said that Trump admitted to doing. Jameson’s accusation has not been proven, but it reminds one that one actually needs evidence to support such a serious charge, not just the usual media and Maher word-play.

6. Trump Called The Coronavirus A Hoax

On Feb. 28, 2020 Thomas Franck of CNBC published an article titled “Trump says the coronavirus is the Democrats’ ‘new hoax’.” This claim was repeated over and over again by many “Democrats” and people in the “news” media. Trump must certainly be ghoulish to call the coronavirus a hoax at a time when many thousands were already dead in the United States and several hundred thousand more were certain to die from it in the coming years.

In fact, what Trump actually said in a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina is that “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. This is their new hoax.” That is, Trump was not calling the coronavirus itself a hoax. He was calling the Democrat’s politicization of it a hoax. This is a neat trick. The Democrats politicize the coronavirus. Trump calls the politicization as a hoax. Then the Democrats and the “news” media, in a continuation of the original hoax, do a dishonest switch and claim that Trump called the virus itself a hoax. Fortunately, Hope Yen, in a Sept. 18, 2020 Associated Press “fact check” concluded that Biden distorted Trump’s words on the virus hoax.

7. Trump Told People To Inject “Bleach” To Kill The Coronavirus

On July 9, 2020, in a speech, Joe Biden, who used this claim to help him become the “president” of the United States, states that Donald Trump said that “maybe if you drank bleach” you can cure the coronavirus. Others have said that Trump also suggested introducing dangerous ultraviolet light inside the body to kill the virus. “Journalists” and “Democrats” with no appreciable scientific background were horrified. These claims were picked up, embellished to make them sound even more stupid and repeated by “Democrats” and the “news” media ad nauseum. Matt Perez, eager to do his bit for the cause, published an article in Forbes on April 23, 2020, titled “Trump suggests Injecting Coronavirus Patients with Light or Disinfectants, Alarming Experts.”

In the article, Perez quotes Dr. Vin Gupta, an NBC “news” commentator, also eager to do his bit for the cause, who said that “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and its dangerous” and cautioned that this is what people do “when they want to kill themselves.” Trump is, apparently, so stupid that he is going to kill us all before it is all over. On April 24, 2020, Kate Kell and Raphael Satter published an article in Reuters titled “Trump’s COVID-19 disinfectant ideas horrify health experts.” In this article Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association, also eager to do her part for the cause, is quoted as saying: “It is unfortunate that I have to comment on this, but people should under no circumstances ingest or inject bleach or disinfectant.”

On the same day, Kirsten Brown and Justin Sink published an article titled “Trump’s Idea to Disinfect Lungs Leaves Medical Experts Aghast.” On April 25, 2020, in an article titled, “Trump recklessly suggests injecting disinfectant to kill coronavirus. Why he’s wrong,” Jackson Ryan, a “science editor” at CNET (short for “Computer Network”), also eager to do his bit for the cause and show how much he cares, states authoritatively that “Disinfectants, like bleach and isopropyl alcohol, are toxic and should not be consumed, ingested or injected to fight COVID-19.” Overseas media, equally appalled, and wishing to do their bit for the cause as well, chimed in to show how much they care. On April 24, 2020, Poppy Noor of The Guardian published an article titled “Please don’t inject bleach; Trump’s wild coronavirus claims prompt disbelief.”

In fact, Poppy is right about one thing. The flurry of “news” articles about Trump’s alleged statement should “prompt disbelief” but not about Trump. It should prompt disbelief in the ability of the “news” media to read in the English language at the 7th grade level. For, in fact, should this still be relevant, Trump never said that people should drink or inject bleach or disinfectants into the body to cure the coronavirus. On July 11, 2020, even Politifact published an article titled “No, Trump didn’t tell Americans infected with the coronavirus to drink bleach.” Further, Politifact provides Trump’s precise words, which will make Socrates, but not Biden, Dr. Gupta, Patrice Harris (President of the American Medical Association), Poppy Noor, and Thrysamachus happy. Here are Trump’s exact words, spoken while talking to a group of doctors about possible treatments for the coronavirus:

And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? …[It would] be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.

With a modicum of effort, our “news” media, Dr. Gupta, the president of the American Medical Association and Poppy Noor can verify that the sentence in which Trump mentions injecting a disinfectant has a question mark at the end. Even American “journalists” should be competent to recognize that this means that Trump was asking a question, not instructing anybody to do anything. That is, Trump’s real sin was to ask a question to a gathering of doctors which, one would have thought, is precisely what a president should do when speaking to a group of doctors about a pandemic. This is why Politifact rates Joe Biden’s claim, and by implication the rest of these unhinged claims, as “mostly false.”

This story does have an addition dimension that actually presupposes a certain amount of scientific literacy. For, despite the Democrat and “news” media glee at how stupid Trump is to suggest injecting disinfectant or shining ultraviolet light into people’s bodies to cure diseases, there is a long scientific tradition of investigating precisely these possibilities. It is not possible to do justice to this topic here so only the most basic points can be made.

Hypochlorous acid, commonly known as Eusol, is used as a disinfectant to clean surfaces. For example, Eusol, that is, sodium hypochlorite equivalent to 0.05% – 0.1% is listed at as a disinfectant to treat floors furniture and mops but also, undiluted, on wounds. Despite the fact that one would not be advised to put sodium hypochlorite on one’s salad when one runs out of oil and vinegar, The Journal of Hygiene published a paper in 1943 by D. G. ff. Edward and O. M. Lidwell titled “Studies on Air-Born Virus Infections: III: The Killing of Aerial Suspensions of Influenza Virus by Hypochlorous Acid.”

The paper gives a result of a study that found that the influenza virus in the nasal passages is susceptible to mists of Eusol. Similar studies have continued to the present day. In 2011 Myeong Sang Yu, Hyung Wook Park, Hyun Ja Kwon, and Yong Ju Jang published a paper in the American Journal of Rhinol Allergy titled “The effect of a low concentration of hypochlorous acid on rhinovirus infection of nasal epithelial cells” that argues that introduction of hypochlorous acid (Eusol) into the nasal cavities does have some effectiveness in neutralizing rhinovirus present there.

The “news” media also expressed considerable glee at Trump’s stupidity in suggesting that ultraviolet light might be used to kill the coronavirus inside the human body. However, in an April 23, 2019 news conference, Chaunie Brusia announced that a research team led by Mark Pimentel, MD at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital is performing research on a UV light therapy, called “Healight,” that delivers intermittent ultraviolet (UV) light through an endotracheal catheter to treat coronavirus and other respiratory infections. Dr. Pimentel stated that “Our team has shown that administering a specific spectrum of UV-A light can eradicate viruses in infected human cells (including coronavirus) and bacteria in the area while preserving healthy cells.”

In addition to Eusol, methylene blue is a substance sometimes used as a disinfectant outside the body but also in photodynamic therapy (PDT) inside the body. The general idea is that there are certain substances that are normally dangerous to the body but which one can introduce into the body in such low concentrations that they are not dangerous because they can be rendered effective by light at the point in the body where the desired effect is needed, e.g., the site of a cancer or infection.

In fact, there are a plethora of articles on these subjects to those willing and able to search for them, which does not, apparently, include the “Democrat Party” or the American “news” media. Further, since Thailand was not working for the Biden “campaign” at the time, Thailand Medical News published an article on April 16, 2020, over 6 months before the US “election,” titled “Breaking News! President Trump Could Be Right After All. Photodynamic Theory and the Disinfectant Hypochlorous Acid Are Interesting Research Prospects to Treat Covid-19.” That is, it is not just that disinfectants and light are being introduced into the body in PDT o treat some diseases or other, but even coronavirus specifically is mentioned as an area of promising research.

On the assumption that scientific research is still permitted in the United States by a “news” media that is no longer in election mode, some American “journalists” might profit from tracking down some of the scientific papers listed on the Thailand site. There is a plethora of additional scientific papers on this topic, some of which specifically involving the use of the disinfectant methylene blue in PDT, are, given below.

The disinfectant Methylene blue is also used in PDT. See the IARC Monograph on the evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risks to Humans No. 108 titled “Some Drugs and Herbal Products” at The International Agency for Research on Cancer at Lyon France in 2016. A 2005 paper by João Paulo Tardivo, Auro Del Giglio, Carla Santos de Oliveira, Dino Santesso Gabrielli, Helena Couto Jungqueira, Dayane Batista Tada, Divinomar Severino, Rozane de Fátima Turchuello and Mauricio Baptista titled “Methylene Blue in photodynamic therapy: From basic mechanisms to clinical applications” discusses the in vitro (in the test tube) and in vivo (in the living body) applications related to PDT.

The authors conclude that methylene blue has the potential in PDT to treat a variety of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions, including basal cell carcinoma, Karposi’s sarcoma, melanoma and virus and fungal infections with low toxicity and no side effects. What this means, in layperson’s terms, is that although methylene blue is toxic, it can be safely introduced into the human body in low concentrations to cure some serious diseases because the medical efficacy of those low concentrations is increased by UV light introduced at that site within the body.

Similarly, in a 2019 paper in Scientific Reports titled “Photodynamic effect of Zirconium phosphate biocompatible nano-bilayers containing methylene blue on cancer and normal cells” Reza Hosseinzadeh and Khatereh Khorsandi describe the effective use of methylene blue in PDT of human breast cancer cells. The argument of this paper is more complicated than the one discussed in the previous paragraph because it begins with the recognition that the use of methylene blue, especially in PDT, has been limited due to its rapid enzymatic reduction within biological systems (that is, enzymes within the body break it down too fast to be useful).

As a consequence, the paper argues that nano-platelet zirconium was used as a “drug delivery vehicle” for methylene blue to enhance its photodynamic therapy efficiency in human breast cancer cells. The results suggested that not only does Zirconium Phosphate-methylene blue nanoparticles decrease the “dark” toxicity (i.e., in the absence of light) of methylene blue but that zirconium phosphate-methylene blue nano-hybrids significantly enhance the photodynamic efficiency against human breast cancer cells.

This study is cited here because it provides a concrete instance of the way in which scientists are always trying to find ways safely to introduce otherwise toxic substances (e.g., disinfectants) into the human body, sometimes in common with light or ultraviolet light to enhance their potency at the required area in the body, in order to render them effective to treat diseases.

The introduction of the “disinfectant” into the human body need not merely be to put it in a syringe and squirted into the bloodstream – as the Democrat-media alliance imagined Trump to be suggesting in their joint campaign slogans. More sophisticated applications are possible in which the “disinfectant” is synthesized into a “hybrid” molecule that decreases its toxicity and makes it possible to introduce it safely into the human body to treat diseases.

8. Trump Has Never Condemned “White Supremacists”

During his “campaign” for the presidency, Joe Biden, who currently finds himself in the White House, referring to Trump’s remarks at Charlottesville that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the protests against removing various historical statues from public places, stated that Donald Trump has “yet once to condemn white supremacy, the neo-Nazis.” Indeed, Biden has claimed that it was Trump’s remarks at Charlottesville that convinced him that he had to run for the presidency. Similar claims were repeated endlessly by the “news” media.

However, in a Feb. 11, 2020 article titled “Trump Has Condemned White Supremacists,” Robert Farley points out that “contrary to Biden’s claim, the president twice specifically condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and he has repeated that condemnation since.” Farley provides a complete transcript with a timeline of Trump’s precise words on these issues. On the day of the Charlottesville incident Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.” Farley also reports that Trump stated that he and Democrat Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had met earlier that day and we “agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection — really — and I say this so strongly — true affection for each other.” That is, the aim of Trump’s message that day, worked out jointly with Democrat Governor McAuliffe, was to provide a unifying statement. Trump explicitly condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence … on many sides.” Trump’s unacceptable statement, for which he absolutely cannot be forgiven, was that he alluded to the fact that “hatred, bigotry and violence” come from both sides und das ist streng verboten by the “Democrats”-“news” media complex because it is one of their ground rules for any discussion that their side of the aisle must be protected from any criticism whatsoever.

Farley further reports that two days later, on Aug. 14, 2017, Trump issued a statement that “referred to KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Farley quotes Trump’s exact words:

[A]s I have said many times before: No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God. We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans. Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

That is, Trump’s real sin on Aug. 14th is not that he did not explicitly condemn the KKK and White Supremacy. He explicitly did just that. In an attempt to be unifying, he called on us to love each other no matter what the color of our skin, followed by an explicit condemnation a day later of the KKK and white supremacy. His egregious sin was that he did not do this fast enough to meet the joint Democrat and “news” media’s political timetable. Accordingly, Farely concludes that “Joe Biden’s claim that President Donald Trump has ‘yet once to condemn white supremacy, the neo-Nazis,’” is just wrong.

Finally, since Joe Biden claim that it was Trump’s divisive remarks about white supremacy that led him to run for the presidency, and since Trump explicitly did condemn white supremacy and attempted to be unifying, it follows that Joe Biden’s rationale for running for the presidency, the office he now holds, is based on a fraud.

9. Trump Pressured Georgia Officials To Create Votes For Him In The 2020 Election

On Jan 3, 2021 the Washington Post published an article titled “‘I just want to find 11,780 votes.’ In an extraordinary hour-long call Trump pressures Georgia election official to recalculate the vote in his favor.” The article claims that Trump told the election official to “find the votes.” On Jan 9 2021 the Washington Post published another article titled “Trump Pressured Georgia Election Investigator in Separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.”

This case is especially important because these media reports were cited in the second impeachment of Donald Trump to support the claim that he illegally attempted to pressure Georgia election officials to overturn the Georgia vote. Note as an aside that, difficult as it is to believe, media reports were used as evidence in an attempt to impeach the president.. As of March 18, 2021, Wikipedia, which generally attempts to promote the impression that it is an encyclopedia (as opposed to a political tool for the Left), reports the event this way: “The [second] article of impeachment addressed Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results (including his false claims of election fraud and his efforts to pressure election officials in Georgia).” This was also important because reports of Trump’s alleged Georgia election interference might have influenced the voters in Georgia in the election of the two Georgia senators that took place several weeks later. As it turned out, the two Democrats that had not been expected to win their elections did, so to speak, “win” them.

The problem is that the Washington Post articles were completely false. In mid-March 2021, the Georgia election official released the actual audio recording of the conversation. In their retraction the Washington Post wrote the following:

Trump did not tell the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ or say she would be ‘a national hero’ if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find ‘dishonesty’ there. He also told her that she had ‘the most important job in the country right now’… The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.

Imagine that! Trump is opposed to dishonesty! Clearly that is an impeachable offence. The Washington Post did not make a simple mistake here. They did not say that Trump called someone a fool when he really called them a jerk. They did not misread a number or a word. The Washington Post, during an election season crucial to the country, apparently unable to find a competent 7th grader to properly transcribe the simple wording in Trump’s actual conversation with the Georgia Secretary of State, made up the accusations, later used in the second Trump impeachment trial, out of whole cloth. What Trump actually said was nothing like what the Post reported. The “journalists” at Pravda could do no better.

10. Trump Lied That There Was Election Fraud In 2020

Immediately after Trump claimed that there had been fraud in the 2020 election, he was accused of lying, spreading false information, and even sedition. Although none of the “news” media ever told this to Stacy Abrams, who still thinks that she is the legitimate governor of Georgia, it is now, apparently, seditious, or, to be more precise, seditious for members of one party only, to question the results of an election. It is fine when members of the other party do so. In the following days, weeks and months after the 2020 presidential election, one “news” story after another informed the public that there was no election fraud whatsoever and repeated the claim that Trump is lying and spreading false information.

On Jan 15, 2021, Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune instructed Trump that he “must apologize for his lie that the election was stolen.” On Jan 20, 2021 Libby Cathey of ABC News, in an article titled “Trump’s Legacy of Lies: How Trump weaponized mistruths during his presidency” called Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen “the big lie” that “ended in the capital siege.” Unfortunately, Libby did not supply any evidence for her causal assertion about the capital siege. Needing an “expert,” Libby enthusiastically quotes Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale, author of Profile of Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul (which claims, basically, that Trump’s mental illness gives insight into America’s spiritual illness), who claims that Trump’s “pattern of lying seems to consist of beginning with a conscious lie intended to deceive others – or to cover up who he really is – but as more people believe him and the adulations of the crowds gratify him in irresistible ways, he comes to believe it himself.… His grandiose sense of himself, on the other hand, does not allow for any possibility that he is wrong.”

For good measure, Bandy, possessed, apparently, by a novel theory of psychiatric disease and a grandiose vision of causation not found in any scientific textbooks, adds that Trump’s “psychosis” had spread to his followers like Allen Dershowitz. Dershowitz contacted the American Psychiatric Association to ask if Bandy’s behavior contradicts their rules that a psychiatrist should not diagnose someone that they had not personally examined. For the record, comrade Bandy was informed by Yale that if her behavior did not change, she would be terminated and she was in fact terminated on May 17, 2020. One could go on, but that should be enough documentation for present purposes.

Despite the grandiose confidence of Trump’s critics, possessed, apparently, with such vivid visions that they cannot conceive any possibility that they may be wrong, it is noteworthy that Trump just won a major legal victory in Michigan where an elected 1st District Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Murray declared that the Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, broke the state election laws by changing the rules that had been set by the state legislature, for legal ballots, ballot signatures and the like. Judge Murray put it this way:

Nowhere in this States election law has the legislature indicated that signatures are to be presumed valid, nor did the Legislature require that signatures are to be accepted so long as there are any redeeming qualities in the application or return envelope as compared with the signature on file. Policy determinations like the one at issue – which places the thumb on the scale in favor of a signature’s validity – should be made pursuant to properly promulgated rules under the APA or by the legislature.

The effect of Secretary of State Benson’s illegal changes was to relax the conditions of legal ballots, set by the legislature, in order to make many more ballots acceptable than would have been acceptable under the existing laws. As a result of these illegal changes to the rules, about 3.1 million additional ballots that would have been illegal under the existing laws were accepted in the 2020 Michigan presidential elections.

Since Trump only “lost” the state by about 150,000 votes it is easily possible that he would have won Michigan, thereby placing him within striking distance of the needed 270 electoral votes. If similar shenanigans were discovered in another major state like Pennsylvania, and if this could have been corrected before the election, Trump would be the president now. As Matt Margolis, in his March 21, 2021, in his article titled “Trump Vindicated as Judge Rules Michigan Secretary of State Violated Election Laws,” puts it:

Michigan was not the only state where Democrat state officials unilaterally changed election laws, so this ruling certainly raises legitimate doubts whether Biden truly won the election without invalid votes.

Naturally, the “news” media, eager to do its part for the cause, not the cause of “journalism” but the cause of the Harris-Biden campaign, led the charge to declare the 2020 vote to be certified quickly before precisely this sort of fraud could be discovered and corrected. As the Michigan judicial decision shows, however, once again, Trump was right and the hasty “news” media was wrong. Trump did not “lie” or spread false information about election fraud in the 2020 election. Rather, Trump was censored by partisans from exercising his first amendment rights to tell the truth, as he saw it, about the election, a right that used to be guaranteed in the United States that we all grew up in – but no more.

In fact, although this verdict by the Michigan judge is important, one does not actually need it in order to know that the “news” media was behaving in an inappropriate partisan way in this case. The enormous haste in the “news” media’s insistence that Trump had lied about election fraud gives them away. For, in fact, there is no possible way that the “news” media could know at that early date, days and weeks after the 2020 election, that there had been no election fraud.

The “news” media has apparently never heard of these things called “investigations.” Nor had they managed to remember that, unlike reading Democrat party talking points, which only takes a few minutes on the nightly news, investigations take time, sometimes months or years. One actually needs to check the facts, difficult as that is to believe. The “news” media, instead of just reporting the “news,” collaborated with the Democrat Party and the Harris-Biden campaign to solidify a certain fraudulent election result (illustrated by the result in Michigan). That is, the “news” media played an important role in subverting the Democratic process in the 2020 election but, because of the censorship operation by much of the “news” media, “Big Tech” and “social media,” one is not allowed to talk about the fraud. Das darf man nicht sagen!

II. Trump’s Alleged Support For The 2003 Iraq War

Many supporters of the “Democrat” party and the “news” media have repeatedly claimed that Trump asserted another falsehood when he claimed that he never supported the 2003 Iraq war. This case is slightly different from those discussed in the preceding section because Trump never said any of those things but there is actually a tenuous thread of support for their claims in this case. Most “Democrats” and members of the “news” media admit that Trump began to speak against the war after it started, but many of them refuse to give up the claim that he expressed support for the war in his 2002 interview with Howard Stern. However, this case is, at best, not clear cut. It is useful discuss this case because it displays another strand of the “Democrat” and “news” media strategies of misrepresentation.

In a 2/18/2016 Eliza Collins published an article in Politico titled “Trump supported invading Iraq in 2002: The GOP candidate says he opposed the 2003 invasion, but a year prior he told Howard Stern he supported going in.” The first sentence of the article is “Donald Trump often touts that he was against the war in Iraq, but in 2002 he expressed support for an invasion.”

In fact, Eliza is wrong that Trump “supported going in” in his talk with Howard Stern. First, it is important to remember the context. This is not a conversation with Morley Safer on 60 minutes. It is a conversation with “shock jock” Howard Stern on the radio Howard Stern Show, the most common subject matter of which, give Stern’s own obsessions, is women’s underwear. Second, this was a phone conversation between Trump and Stern. It was not a face to face sit down in which one can gage the intentions of the questioner (e.g., how serious is Stern in asking this question?). Third, the question was sprung on Trump, which does not permit a considered response. In this context, the best Trump could possibly do was to give a hasty response. Finally, and this is the most important point, Trump did not say that he “supports going in.” Fortunately, Eliza, who, apparently, does not understand the sentences in her own article, provides the precise wording of the exchange:

“Are you for invading Iraq?” Stern asked.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Trump responded. “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Saying “I guess so,” in this context is not a statement of support. It is, most obviously, a guess, and one of the most common dictionary meanings of “guess” is speculation. If John asks Jill if she loves him and Jill says “I guess so,” that is not the answer Jack wants. It does not mean that Jill, so to speak, supports “going in.” Jill’s response in that case is not an affirmative answer.

It is an attempt to stake a position in the safe indecisive middle. It is, perhaps, an attempt to postpone the final verdict on the issue until later. If one wished to give a fair appraisal of the cognitive meaning of Trump’s response it would be something like this: “I suppose, given what I know about it now, that it might be the right thing to do, but we’ll see.” Unfortunately, the media has never been interested in giving a fair appraisal of the meaning of Trump’s statement in the context of a phone-in discussion on the patently unserious Howard Stern Show.

By contrast, Joe Biden did unambiguously support going to war with Iraq in 2003. He voted to authorize the war it in the US Senate. Despite that, he several times denied having ever supported the Iraq war. In a Sept. 10, 2019 article titled “Biden’s Record on Iraq War,” Robert Farley states: “Twice in the last five weeks, Joe Biden has claimed that despite voting to authorize military force against Iraq in 2002, he opposed the Iraq war from “the moment” it began. That’s not accurate, and Biden now says he misspoke.”

The contrast between Biden’s explicit support for the authorization to go to war and Trump’s momentary “guess” what he would do is stark. Biden voted for the authorization to go to war in Iraq in 2003 on the floor of the United States Senate and later denied that he had ever supported the war. Biden’s support for the war in a vote in the Senate is as unambiguous as one can get.

By contrast, Trump’s “guess” what he would do in response to an unexpected question in a phone conversation on an unserious radio show is not unambiguous support for invading Iraq. Once again, the Democrats and “news” media seem totally incapable of fairly evaluating context and nuance when it comes to Trump. Instead, the method is to get a word or a sentence that can be taken out of context and embellished so that it can be repeated endlessly by partisans as a weapon against the despised conservative. That is not fair and it is not journalism. More important, it is a disservice to the American people.

III. The “News” Media’s Admitted Abandonment Of Objectivity And Fairness

The fact that the “news” media consistently misrepresents Donald Trump should not be a surprise. This is not an opinion. Many in the media have admitted it themselves. They have explained why they are doing this and many of them have even bragged that they are not going to be objective or fair.

On June 26, 2017 Mitchell Stephens, a professor of “journalism” at NYU, published an article on Politico titled “Goodbye Nonpartisan Journalism and Good Riddance: Disinterested Journalism is Overrated.” Stephens begins the article by claiming that Donald Trump’s “candidacy and presidency are already remaking American journalism … including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the network evening newscasts and CNN,” although what Stephens really means is that American journalism is remaking itself to join the Democrats in their war on Trump. That is, the decline of “objective journalism” is not something Trump did to American “journalism” but something American “journalism” did to itself, namely, break its traditional ethical commitment to neutrality. Stephens’ representation of the media as a passive victim here is what criminals typically do to escape responsibility for their crimes. “I didn’t mean to stab her 36 times. The Zoloft made me do it.” In this case, Stephens’ representation of the media as a passive victim here is an attempt to blame the media’s abandonment of objectivity on Trump. “Trump made us do it!” Stephens needs, like an adult, to learn to accept responsibility for his behaviour.

In the course of giving a self-serving history lesson to the effect that American “journalism” has always been partisan, Stephens explains that it has simply become time for American “journalism” to return to its partisan roots:

Is this the end of all that is good and decent in American journalism? Nah. I say good for them. An abandonment of the pretense to “objectivity”—in many ways a return to American journalism’s roots—is long overdue. Journalism in the United States was born partisan and remained, for much of its history, loud, boisterous and combative.

Stephens is, of course, wrong that American journalism has always been loud, boisterous and combative. The way “journalists” behave depends on who is in power. For example, it was not loud, boisterous and combative when White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny “became a mini-celebrity (or rather a national laughing stock)” when he asked Obama in the first days of his presidency what “enchanted” him most about being the president. Of course, even the Times, embarrassed by this unprecedented embarrassing level of groveling, which is saying something, buried Zeleny’s remark.

By contrast, on the first day of his presidency Zeke Miller of Time Magazine incorrectly reported that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval office and had to issue a retraction soon thereafter. The message, of course, a crucial part of the narrative being constructed by the “Democrat” party and their colluders in the “news” media, is that Trump is a racist. Time later stated that this was a “good faith error” because “the bust had been obscured from view.” Apparently, it is too much to ask a “journalist” covering the first days of a new presidency to walk a few steps and crank his or her neck 45 degrees to check whether the bust is still there. It’s a tough job, especially for shills.

Stephens celebrates the fact that our “most respected mainstream journalism organizations,” by which he means the one’s that dependably skew to his leftist side of the aisle, have abandoned the former practice of not calling politicians “liars:”

Our most respected mainstream journalism organizations are beginning to recognize the failings of nonpartisanship—its tepidness, its blind spots, its omissions, its evasions. It was news when the patriarch of American journalism, the New York Times, finally used the word “lie,” in a headline on atop its front page on September 17, 2016, to describe a Trump assertion (albeit one he claimed no longer to hold: “birtherism”). Other legacy journalism organizations began more regularly calling out Trump’s “falsehoods,” if not actually accusing him of lying. About a week later, the Los Angeles Times declared, also on page one: “Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has.”

After “the patriarch of American journalism” (an odd sexist description of a “newspaper” whose nickname is “the Old Grey Lady”) abandoned tradition and began accusing Trump of lying, many other “journalists,” feeling that they had been given permission to do the same, followed suit. This is, of course, the same “patriarch of American “journalism” that had to delete a tweet claiming that Brett Kavanaugh thrust his penis in a girl’s face in a drinking party more than 30 years ago at Yale after being reminded, perhaps by a 3rd grader, that one actually needs evidence if one is going to publish this sort of smear about people.

On Aug. 8, 2016 Jim Rutenberg, eager to do his bit for the cause, in an article for the same “patriarch of American journalism,” titled “Trump is testing the norms of American journalism,” asked the trenchant question that, apparently, “everyone is grappling with,” namely, “Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?” Many other “journalists” were soon to follow suit and abandon their traditional standards in order to do their bit for the cause.

With normal standards in the rear-view mirror, “journalists” began discovering Trump “lies” everywhere. It was remarkable, almost like a miracle, how many “lies” they found. Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Rachel Maddow, etc., regularly found Trump “lies” to entertain their remaining “news” base (the one that pays their inflated salaries). It was not long, with objectivity banished, before the “news” media “discovered,” so to speak, that Trump had “lied” much more than any other American president.

The Huffington Post, with a straight face, claimed in January 2021 that by Nov. 5, 2020 Trump had made 29,508 false or misleading statements of which 16,421 were lies. In order to understand this, however, one must remember that “lied” does not mean what it meant in the bad old days when a lie was defined in terms of objective truth. One must now understand that “lied” means “whatever admittedly non-objective left leaning ‘journalists’ say is a lie,” which, in many cases, turns out to be the truth (like Trump’s true claims about the illegality in the Michigan election). That is, most of Trump’s alleged “lies” were cooked up in America’s “news” rooms by the newly created species of non-objective “journalists.”

Further, it was not true that “everyone” was grappling with comrade Rutenberg’s question. Tucker Carlson was not “grappling” with it. Sean Hannity was not “grappling” with it. Glen Greenwald was not “grappling” with it. Lara Logan was not “grappling” with it. That is, in keeping with our Orwellian age, by “everyone” Prof. Stephens does not mean “everyone.” He means “everyone” is his “woke” bubble, the members of his tribe. Of course, the whole premise of Stephens’ argument is false, for there is nothing that says that a fair journalism must be tepid, have blind spots, or evade or omit things.

More recently, Lest Holt, of NBC “News,” while accepting the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, stated that it has “become clearer that fairness is overrated” and added that “The idea that we [in the “news” media] should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.” Lester, one recalls, is the “journalist” who, while “moderating” a presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, intervened to contradict Trump and back Hillary’s claim that the “Stop and Frisk” policy in New York was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of New York. It is also worthy of note that the Washington Post, which cannot, apparently, read in the English language anymore, gave “kudos” to Lester for his “fact checking” to help their preferred candidate, Hillary, in the debate. But even the left-leaning Politifact admits that Trump was right:

The judge made it very clear that she was not finding stop-and-frisk as a general practice unconstitutional,” said David Rudovsky, a leading civil rights attorney and senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Holt’s claim [that] “stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York” … makes it seem as if the judge decided that all stops and frisks were unconstitutional in New York, when really her ruling said New York had to “stop and frisk” differently. New York cops still stop and frisk today.

In fact, Holt was simply following the Candy Crowley “school” of presidential debate “moderation” pioneered at CNN in the presidential debate between Obama and Romney in 2012. Crowly, like Holt, eager to do her part for the cause, intervened in the debate to state that Obama was right and Romney wrong about the language Obama had used to describe the terrorist attack on the Benghazi compound. A few days later Crowley had to admit that “Romney was right in the main.” Of course, millions of people saw her support for Obama in the presidential elections broadcast to the entire nation, but only a few thousand saw the “correction” a few days later, which means that the strategy to help Obama, despite the later correction, was successful. For the record, Comrade Crowly permanently left the field of journalism two years later.

Further, the fact that Crowley’s taking sides in the debate was clearly against the town hall rules did not stop some “journalists” from arguing that she was right to do so. Yes of course! The cause comes first! One only needs to wait until some debate moderator breaks the rules to intervene in a 2024 presidential debate to help Donald Trump or Ron De Santis against the Democrat to see how much these “journalists” believe any of what they are saying, if they really believe anything at all anymore. For, in fact, authenticity, that pesky old phenomenon the existentialists tried to remind us about in world that had become totally false, is no longer a part of the equation.

The fact that Lester Holt of all people, who intervened in a presidential debate with false information to hurt the conservative du jour, is shamelessly praised by the former “news” paper, the Washington Post, for doing so, and later, comically, received a major journalistic excellence award, illustrates that in today’s Orwellian world promoting untruths to hurt conservatives can be a major career booster.

Despite the lucrative new career-enhancing enthusiasm in the “journalistic” profession for discovering Trump “lies,” there were, in fact, a few journalists left who managed to retain some of that old-fashioned but now much despised “fairness” and “objectivity” – and keep their integrity to boot. Sharyl Attkisson, in a talk at Hillsdale College on Feb. 25, 2021, titled “Slanted Journalism and the 2020 Election” (currently on under the same title) explains the common-sense reason why real journalists have traditionally been reluctant to accuse someone of lying, namely, that lying is not simply saying something that is false. It is intentionally asserting something false and intentions, being subjective, are intrinsically very hard to verify. Thus, it is easy to decide if someone has said something that is false but much harder to determine if they intentionally did so, that is, if they have lied.

Of course, the inability to verify subjective matters is no problem once one abandons objectivity and fairness, as the “news” media did during the 4 years of the Trump presidency in order to protect the American people, the “basket of deplorables,” from being able to decide for themselves who they wished to vote for in the 2020 election.

Attkisson goes on the list a number of additional “mistakes” by our self-admitted non-objective admittedly non-fair thought police. It would take far too long to list all of Sharyl’s examples here, but one particularly amusing case is the report by Newsweek’s Jessica Kwong on 11/28, 2019 titled “How is Donald Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing and More.” As Sharyl puts it, the story implies that “Trump is once again goofing off unlike his heroic predecessor Barak Obama who used to only do selfless things.”

Predictably, however, for the non-objective “news” media, Kwong’s story was false. Trump had actually left the United States the night before to fly to Afghanistan where he served dinner to US troops. When Trump turned up in Afghanistan, and it became impossible, even for Newsweek, to maintain the false storyline any longer, Kwong claimed she had made an “honest mistake.” Kwong reported on Twitter that she was deleting her previous tweet because “It was written before knowing about the President’s surprise trip to Afghanistan” – yes of course, just like the article claiming that Trump removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval office was written before the “journalist” found out he had not removed the bust.

It had not, apparently, occurred to Kwong before writing her original story to wonder whether the president might be making a surprise trip to visit the troops because, as Attkisson notes, “all recent presidents have done this at one time or another.” Who would have thunk it! The answer is: Anybody with common sense and basic decency but not, apparently, Jessica or her editor at Newsweek. Attkisson adds that in the Trump era “reporters,” like Kwong, commonly report stories unattributed to a source as if they had personally confirmed the story when they had not! In other words, Kwong reported the original story as if she had an internal White House source to lend it credibility when she did not.

However, Newsweek did not, Attkisson notes, correct the report. On 11/28, 2019 Jessica Kwong republished the story, which Newsweek described as an “update,” with the new title: “How did Trump spend Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing – and surprising US Troops in Afghanistan.” Kwong forgot to mention that Trump had also surprised Newsweek. Unfortunately, the new story is not an “update.” The fact that the original story was false, Attkisson notes, merited a correction and an apology but none was given. Attkisson adds that as of the date of her Hillsdale speech, Newsweek still had the false information that Trump golfed on Thanksgiving on the Newsweek page. It may be worth mentioning that in 2010 Newsweek, which had once been a fine news magazine, known for its objectivity, sold for one dollar.

The “news” media, Attkisson remarks, never seems to learn its lessons. Remarkably, NBC “news” had made virtually the identical mistake one year earlier! 8 hours before the end of Christmas day in 2018, NBC published a headline “blaring” that “Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmas time.” The article took multiple jabs at Trump to prove that he could not live up to the standards of his predecessors – that being a crucial part of the script the newly non-objective non-fair “news” media, eager to do its bit for the cause, was putting together.

In fact, however, Trump had left the White House late on Dec. 25th 2018 to visit the troops in Iraq. When the mistake was revealed, Attkisson notes that NBC, “like Newsweek, was unable to admit its mistake.” Instead of issuing a simple apology and stating that it had published a story “without bothering to verify it,” NBC published a lengthy editor’s note “parsing the definition of what constitutes a Christmas visit” and claimed that “the original article was technically correct.

As Attkisson puts it, “[It] depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” She goes on to give many more embarrassing instances of media’s inability to tell the truth or to admit that it has made a mistake even when it has been caught red-handed. This is, of course, the same media that has made a major effort to promote the impression that it is deeply concerned about Trump’s alleged “lies,” most of which it concocted itself.

None of this should be any surprise. This endless list of “honest mistakes” that always seem to skew in one direction (against conservatives), followed by various comical excuses by “journalists” whose bias and/or incompetence have been exposed, is what one gets when the “news” media announces that they are no longer going to be “objective” or “fair” because they, or, perhaps to be more precise, their paymasters, have decided that someone like Trump is too dangerous (to their establishment power) to cover objectively or fairly.

IV. The “News” Media’s Censorship Operation Against Trump

The program to censor Trump and his supporters by Facebook, Twitter, and other parts of the “news” media is an essential part of the “news” media’s current Orwellian operation. Twitter’s admission, after the election, that it was a “mistake” to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story before the election, is pathetic. It was as obvious before the election as it is now that the American people have the right to make up their own minds about such issues despite the grandiose self-conceptions of social media’s child billonaires. Since the constant “news” media misrepresentation of the facts is so easy to expose as soon as one applies Socrates’ insistence on precise speech, its dishonest operation can only be maintained if the people who attempt to expose the fraud are prevented from doing so (that is, if they are censored).

The “news” media’s censorship operation only makes sense if one believes, with these craven elites, that the American people are too stupid to think for themselves. Freedom of thought cannot be permitted by a “news” media that considers itself so superior to the “basket of deplorables” (half of the American people) that they need, for their own good, to be manipulated by their intellectual and moral betters on the coasts and in Silicon Valley.

This kind of censorship operation is practiced by all dictatorships. The dictator pumps out false or misleading information to maintain their own power and then censors anyone who points out that it is false or misleading on the grounds that their critics are giving false or misleading information. The attempted “justification” of the anti-American censoring behaviour by Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other media is literally comical. For it is easy enough to determine who is lying (or spreading false information) and who is not. One need only determine who needs to censor and who does not, that is, who is afraid of a free discussion and who is not. If one does not have the truth, one has nothing and, as usual, the censors, by their fear of a freedom of speech admit thereby that they know they cannot win a free and fair debate.

It should be noted that the present article only focuses on the media misrepresentations of Trump’s tweets and statements. It does not even begin to cover the whole other category in which various members of the “news” media fabricated stories, not based on anything Trump himself said, designed to destroy the Trump presidency and his chances for re-election in 2020. For example, the present article does not cover the media fabrication, in June of 2020, before the election, reported as fact at the time, that Russia was paying Taliban militants bounties to kill US troops. The “news” media and the “Democrats” had not been this happy since they were running their “shithole” hoax. Biden even used this story in his election “campaign” to keep alive the main idea of the first Russia hoax that Trump is somehow under Russia’s thumb. The new version is: Trump cannot even stand up to Putin to protect our troops! In April of 2021, however, after the election, Biden had to admit that the intelligence agencies did not have much confidence in those reports about bounties on US troops. That is precisely what Trump said at the time and he was pilloried by the “news” media and the “Democrats” for it. It would require another whole article to analyze this entirely different category of “news” media malfeasance against Trump.

The crime is not only against Donald Trump and conservatives. The crime is against the American people, the much despised “basket of deplorables” in “flyover country” for whom the coastal elites and the “news” media have nothing but contempt. The “journalists” at Pravda would be jealous that it was so easy to pull this off in America.

V. The “News” Media As The True Dividers Of The Nation

Michael Smerconish of CNN, referring to the massive polarization in the country, in a Jan. 13, 2021 Twitter remark, asks “How the hell did we get here?” Of course, many in the “news” media blame a large part of this polarization on Donald Trump. One of the media’s main criticism of Trump is that not just that he is lying but that he is the “dividing the country” by doing so. His various outrageous statements about Mexicans, women, “shithole countries,” injecting bleach to cure the virus, etc., polarize the nation.

It is entirely fair to criticize Trump. He is coarse. He, apparently, has no filter. If he thinks something, he says it. However, a precise examination of Trump’s statements reveals that once again the media has got things exactly backwards. If, as demonstrated in the previous 3 sections, Trump did not make these divisive statements but, rather, they were fabricated by the media and put into his mouth and broadcast to the nation and around the world, then it is the media that has divided the nation! It is the media that has turned Americans against one another. It is the media that has created ill will in Haiti and Africa against the United States by promoting the worst possible interpretation of Trump’s TASS. It is the “news” media and their comrades in the “Democrat” Party that has poisoned the nation internally and damaged the reputation of the nation abroad. Further, despite the discredited Democrat-media accusations for years that Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, it was the “news” media itself, including the censors in “social media,” with their constant, demonstrably false hit pieces about Trump that have interfered in US elections far more than Russia ever did.

The American people have noticed. Smerconish might want to take note of the fact that according to a Jan. 18, 2020, Hill-Harris X poll, an overwhelming majority of voters say the news media is making the United States more politically divided. The survey of 1,001 registered voters found that 75 percent believe that the way news media reports the news increases the political divide, compared to only 7 percent who believe it diminishes the divide. The ratio there is almost 11 to 1 against the media.

Further, both Democrats and Republicans, by strong majorities, believe that the media is dividing the country. 84 % of Republican voters, 74 % of Democratic voters and 69 % of independents believe the news media has contributed an increase in political polarization throughout the nation. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that “journalists” are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know to be false.” The public also see which way the media bias trends. A December Edelman Trust Barometer U.S. Election Poll found that 57 percent of Biden voters trust the “news” media while only 18 percent of the Trump voters trust the media to tell the truth. This is not a close call. It is not as if 59 % of Biden voters that trust the “new” media while only 53% of Trump voters do. The real ratio is almost 3 to 1. Biden voters trust the media much more because it helps Biden.

One does not, apparently, need a Master’s degree in Mathematical Logic to notice that the US “news” media is unwilling or incapable of doing its job properly. This should not be a surprise. See James O’Keefe’s surreptitious tape at CNN exposing Jeff Zucker’s instructions to his “journalists” about what stories to cover and how to cover them, for example, his instructions to his “journalists” not to cover the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before the 2020 election. In another surreptitious undercover video Charlie Chester, a technical director at CNN, admitted that CNN was “creating stories” to get Trump out of office. Chester also stated that “I am a hundred percent going to say this and I a hundred percent believe it that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have gotten voted out.” In one video Chester admitted that CNN targeted anti-Trump voters by focusing on climate change because “fear sells”. This is not “news”. It is theatre, choreographed tears and hysteria and all, not “news”, or, to be more precise, democrat party propaganda in the form of theatre. Naturally, Twitter, given their high standards for censoring conservatives, permanently suspended James O’Keefe’s Twitter account for exposing their comrades at CNN.

Apparently, the American people do not deserve to know the facts that the elites do not deem suitable for them. See also O’Keefe’s discussion with Ben Shapiro, currently on titled “James O’Keefe’s Takeaways from Listening to CNN’s Editorial Meetings for 2 Months.” Finally, see James O’Keefe’s undercover video titled “BUSTED: James O’Keefe Confronts CNN Director About His Claims That the Network Used ‘Propaganda.’”

In this last video, Charlie Chester, CNN Technical Director, brags, among other things, that CNN uses “propaganda” and even “created a story [about Trump’s mental capacity] that we knew nothing about” to get Trump out of office. If Smerconish really wants to know how America became so divided, he can begin by watching James O’Keefe’s undercover videos of his own network’s dishonest divisive behaviour followed by viewing some of Sharyl Attkisson’s videos about the behaviour of the “news” media. If the “news” media and “social media” censors really care about suppressing lies and misinformation they would need to start censoring themselves.

A glance at the series of comical theatrical performances on CNN “news” programs, including Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources, on any given day enables any fair-minded person easily to make up their own mind about how quickly CNN’s “journalists” kneeled to Zucker’s instructions how to cover or not cover stories. While the “news” media regularly fabricate unacceptable statements to attribute to those with whom they disagree, or, perhaps, to be more precise, with whom they are told by their paymasters to disagree, the country is the loser.

VI. “The Enemy Of The American People”

The “Democrat Party and the “news” media were horrified when in 2017 Trump called the “news” media “the opposition party” and the “enemy of the American people:”

The president has referred to the media as the “opposition party” to his administration, and he has blamed news organizations for stymieing his agenda. But the language that Mr. Trump deployed on Friday is more typically used by leaders to refer to hostile foreign governments or subversive organizations. It also echoed the language of autocrats who seek to minimize dissent.
“Oh boy,” Carl Bernstein, the journalist who helped to uncover the Watergate scandal, said on Friday, after a reporter read him Mr. Trump’s tweet.
“Donald Trump is demonstrating an authoritarian attitude and inclination that shows no understanding of the role of the free press,” he [Bernstein] added.

That is, when Trump fights back against a “news” media that, as documented in the previous sections of this article, consistently misrepresents what he says, unable even to get simple sentences right, and sides with the party that opposes him, he is called an “authoritarian” and compared with “hostile foreign government” and “subversive organizations.” Of course, in our Orwellian world, to understand this one must understand that “authoritarian” no longer means authoritarian. “Authoritarian” now means fights back against Democrat-media tyranny. Indeed, in a lecture at Lehigh University, comrade Bernstein claimed that Trump’s criticism of “fake news” “drips with Stalinist imagery.”

Bernstein should know all about Stalinist imagery because, speaking of subversives and hostile foreign governments, comrade Bernstein grew up in a home with communist parents who supported both Stalin and the Democrat party. In fact, Carl was 9 years old in 1953 when his parents’ friends, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed for transmitting nuclear weapon secrets to the Soviet Union. As comrade Bernstein knows well, the first thing dictators and subversives do is to call the people who oppose them “dictators” and “subversives.” Bernstein can be grateful that the Washington Post now helps him do this.

Leaving comrade Bernstein behind, and returning to the real world, the actual problem with Trump is that if he is “subverting” anything it is the establishment “news” media’s own demonstrated record of incompetence and malfeasance. Although the American “news” media can carelessly and malevolently “dish it out,” that is ruin everyone from the humble decent man, in fact, a hero, Richard Jewell, who was just trying to do his policing job and save lives, which he did, to the Covington children, they cannot take it when anyone fights back. What terrified them about them about Trump was that he was not the least bit afraid of them and could not be controlled. Unlike most of the “Republican” establishment, who generally drop to their knees faster than Fang Fang, Trump was unmoved by their attempts to bully and intimidate him.

In fact, Donald Trump was not the first person in recent times to accuse the US “news” media of being an enemy of the American people. That honour belongs to Jimmy Carter Democrat Pat Caddell in response to the “media’s” flagrantly biased coverage of the 2012 race between Mitt Romney and the media’s darling Barak Obama. As Caddell, defending the old- fashioned view that the “news” media should neutrally report the news, as opposed to picking a side and supporting one of the two major parties, puts it:

[W]e face a fundamental danger here. It is this: I talked about the defense of the First Amendment. The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power. When they desert those ramparts and go to serve—to decide that they will now become an active participants—when they decide that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people. And it is a threat to the very future of this country if that—we allow this stuff to go on, and we cross—we’ve crossed a whole new and frightening slide on the slippery slope these last two weeks.

The media bias certainly did not begin with Donald Trump. It has been going on for some time, indeed decades. It just got much worse under Trump, probably because they knew they could not control him. The fight against such sophistry must be carried out, at the intellectual level, in the same way it was carried out by Socrates 2500 years ago, by employing precise speech to expose their techniques of deception.

A “news” media that cannot seem to get anything right, a “news” media that cannot even tell the truth about the Martin Luther King bust in the Oval Office even when they were in the room; a “news” media that sometimes cannot even transcribe a simple sentence about grabbing a woman’s p…y without distorting it with their political bias; a “news” media that cannot even make the sophomore year distinction between the Supreme Court saying that a certain policy is unconstitutional and their saying that it is constitutional but that one must not apply it in unfair ways; a “news” media that cannot even recognize that Trump only asked a question of doctors and did not tell anyone to inject anything, let alone “bleach,” to cure the coronavirus, is unworthy of trust.

The fact that Trump never even used the word “bleach” seems to be beyond them, as are all the scientific articles on photodynamic therapy. A “news” media that censors people who disagree with them politically, especially conservatives, a “news” media that, offering up laughable excuses for its constant errors in one direction, refuses even to cover stories, like the Hunter Biden scandal before the 2020 election, that might hurt their chosen political candidates, a “news” media that, days after the 2020 “election,” when they cannot possibly know the truth, announces, comically, there is no evidence whatsoever of Democrat cheating in the election, a “news media that even admits that it is no longer “objective” or “fair,” a “news” media that displays contempt for half of the country, and so on, is a “news” media that no longer deserves the trust of the American people, trust which it has in large measure already lost. It is a “news” media that comrade Bernstein’s communist parents would love to have. It is a “news” media that comrade Bernstein himself does have.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Federal Judge Laurence Silberman found himself compelled to point out that the overwhelming level of bias in the “news” media has reached the levels that it is a threat to democracy:

The New York Times and The Washington Post are “virtually Democratic Party broadsheets,” while the news section of the Wall Street Journal “leans in the same direction,” U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman said. He said the major television outlets and Silicon Valley giants were similarly biased.
“One-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy,” Silberman wrote. He exempted from his criticism of “Democratic ideological control” Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page [but not the Wall Street Journal “news” division]. Silberman ended his treatise with a warning that democracy could be thwarted by liberal control of the media. “The first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news.”

John McCain stated that “suppressing free speech is how dictators get started.” The irony is that in contemporary America there was no need for the dictators to “seize” the news media. A compliant American “news” media, corrupted by money and celebrity, eager to further increase their inflated salaries and get their virtue-signaling faces on camera, were already all in. The crime is not only against Donald Trump and conservatives. The crime is against the American people, the despised “basket of deplorables” in “flyover country,” the actual moral core of the country, genuine heroes in the real world like Richard Jewell and Nick Sandman – as opposed to the spoiled bubble dwelling virtue-signaling Lilliputian coastal elites and their equally unimpressive lightly educated “news” media collaborators who are all “heroes only of words.”

Richard McDonough is the author of two books, numerous articles, encyclopedia and dictionary entries, and book reviews. He has taught previously at Bates College, the National University of Singapore, the University of Tulsa, the University Putra Malaysia, the Overseas Family College, the PSB Academy, the University of Maryland, the Arium Academy, and James Cook University. In addition to philosophy, he has taught psychology, physics, humanities and writing courses.

The featured image shows, “The fin de siècle newspaper proprietor,” by Frederick Burr Opper; political cartoon published March 7, 1894.

Human Variation And Human Flourishing: A Conversation With Bo Winegard

This month, we are so very pleased to present this interview with Bo Winegard, an evolutionary psychologist and former professor. He was fired from his tenure-track post at Marietta College because of what he researches and what he writes about human biological differences and physical and psychological traits. He is now an independent scholar. He is in conversation with Grégoire Canlorbe, who is well-known to the readers of The Postil.

Grégoire Canlorbe (GC): The “coalitional value theory,” which you helped formulate, asserts that humans evolved unique mental mechanisms for assessing each other’s marginal value to a coalition. Could you tell us more about those mechanisms—and how they intervene in artistic, scientific production?

Bo Winegard (BW): The basic idea is that we evolved some kind of mental system—I’m not sure exactly how this is instantiated in the brain/mind—to assess each other’s value to coalitions. For example, suppose that we form a soccer team. Pretty quickly we would understand who is better (more valuable) at soccer, and who is worse (less valuable). Ceteris paribus, we defer to those who have more coalitional value (e.g., if Messi were on your team, then you would defer to him); and we often assert ourselves over those who have less value.

Bo Winegard

My colleagues and I hypothesized that these mechanisms might partially explain the creation and display of certain cultural artifacts, such as paintings, poems, history books, scientific articles. The idea is that cultural displays signal underlying traits (e.g., intelligence, ambition, education) that generally contribute to a coalition, that make it (the coalition) more formidable and successful. In politics, for example, being able to persuade other people is valuable; it helps a coalition to achieve its goals. Therefore, politicians might signal their value by delivering eloquent speeches. And those in the coalition might respond to such speeches with awe and admiration.

The grand idea, which is not entirely novel, I should say, is that human coalitions are cooperative status-exchange systems. Leaders and other revered coalitional members have high coalitional value; they make the coalition better. And in exchange for their service, members defer to them, giving them priority access to coveted resources, such as food, material wealth, and mates. In this way, the coalition benefits (by having the person high in coalition value) and the high-status person also benefits (by getting priority access to evolutionary relevant resources).

GC: A whole field of investigation lies in sex differences as regards cognition and the relationship to knowledge. What did your long-standing collaboration with Cory Clark allow you to learn in that area?

BW: Ha! I’m not sure I understand the question. I think you are asking what did I learn about sex differences by collaborating for so long with Cory Clark? If so, I will just say a few things. First, Cory is atypical for females, so I would not generalize from my experience with her. And second, I do think that men on average are more tolerant of direct confrontation. My brother and I often get into vehement debates while working on projects, for example. I spare Cory from that because that’s not how our relationship works.

GC: It is sometimes doubted that intellectual manhood (i.e., the ability to think for oneself and to be intellectually innovative and dissident) is substantially correlated with IQ. What is your take on that issue?

BW: I’m not aware of research on this topic. (And it would be arduous to operationalize “think for oneself.” Even creativity is incredibly difficult to operationalize, and I’m not sure I trust much of the research on it.) I do think originality and innovation require a certain minimum level of cognitive ability. However, once one is above that level, I doubt there’s much correlation. I know many brilliant people who are intellectual cowards. In fact, I would contend that American universities are filled with craven professors who are afraid even to voice their true beliefs on a wide variety of taboo topics. I suspect that intellectual cowardice and cognitive ability are completely orthogonal.

GC: It is easily noticed that the greatest military strategists in human history have been, if not bisexual (like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar), at least misogynist (like Napoléon Bonaparte). Is there a coalitional value theory of that phenomenon?

BW: I’m not sure that I completely understand the question. But I think that some misogyny is likely a result of coalitional value mechanisms. For men’s coalitions, women, on average, simply aren’t as valuable as other men. Consider, for example, a sports’ team. Clearly men are better, on average, than women at sports. Thus men often deride other men who are bad at sports as being effeminate (e.g., “throwing like a girl,” “crying like my sister,” et cetera).

GC: You challenged the idea of a “panhuman nature.” Could you remind us of your argument? Do you also contest, more specifically, the idea of a certain psychological, physical structure invariant across those human populations that are racially European?

BW: The idea behind a panhuman nature is this: Most human-specific traits evolved before the end of the Pleistocene; and, more specifically, most probably evolved before humans expanded across the globe to face novel selection pressures. Therefore, most human psychological traits are shared across populations. There is thus a panhuman nature. I think the concept is useful in some ways but mistaken in others. Think about a different example that is clearer: Dogs. It is the case that one can generalize about a canine nature. Dogs of different breeds share many tendencies. On the other hand, it is wrong or misleading in my view to say there is a pancanine nature in a strong way because dog breeds also vary in behavior proclivities in important and fascinating ways. A Yorkshire Terrier is quite different behaviorally from a Whippet, for example. If you purchased one expecting the behavior of the other, then you might be surprised!

Human groups are not so different from each other as dogs are, obviously. But they are different. And for similar reasons: selection. Of course, dogs were artificially selected and humans were more or less naturally (sexually and socially) selected. And the intensity of selection dogs faced was probably much higher. But humans lived in different environmental conditions from each other for many thousands of years. They faced different selection pressures (probably primarily related to climate). This is phenotypically obvious. People whose immediate ancestors evolved in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, look different from those whose immediate ancestors evolved in Northern Europe. The most obvious difference is skin color, which is related to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation in such a way that darker skin is associated with more intense radiation. In my view, psychological traits are no different from other physical and anthropometric traits.

Thus groups have slightly different psychological traits from each other. Unfortunately, in the United States at least, this is a very controversial topic—probably more taboo than any other in the social sciences. If groups are different from each other, then some groups might score higher on average on certain socially desired traits such as intelligence and compliance and self-control. And this offends the sensitivities of many progressives, who appear to believe in what I have called “cosmic egalitarianism,” or the notion that all human groups are equal on all socially desired traits.

I think this belief, this cosmic egalitarianism, is no more plausible than Greek mythology or leprechauns at the end of a rainbow. It’s almost impossible to imagine, that is, that human populations are the same on all psychological traits. Now, they aren’t terribly different. So we can make generalization about human nature that apply, I think, to all human populations. But we have to consider group differences, if we want to understand basic social phenomena, such as income and crime disparities between populations, et cetera. Again, it is hard if not impossible to talk about these things honestly in the United States because of the dominance of progressives in the media and academia. But I don’t think it helps anybody to concoct a fantastical fiction about group sameness and to use it to then promulgate the myth that systemic racism is the cause of all group disparities.

As for the second part of your question—again, that depends upon what one means by “invariant psychological structure.” Do I think that European populations differ slightly in traits and propensities? Yes. I think that is quite likely. Do I think that they have fundamentally different psychological structures? No. In a paper, my colleagues and I once compared this to guitars, and I think that’s a good comparison. So guitars are pretty similar to each other. They share a certain structure, if you will. But, there are also subtle differences among them that lead to different tones and tendencies. A Fender sounds slightly different from a Gibson. And an acoustic guitar sounds different from an electric guitar. I think the same holds for human populations, even within Europe.

GC: You covered some of the bias present in politically liberal scientists. What are those? Do you also identify some political bias in hereditarian research about intelligence?

BW: Cosmic egalitarianism. And what we have called “equalitarianism.” Equalitarianism is really a set of biases about group differences. Primarily, liberal scientists repelled by the idea that groups might differ in socially desirable traits in ways that appear to favor white people. At this point, I have no confidence in social science in the United States because of how pervasive this bias is. It’s simply impossible to write about or study topics that are related to race honestly. This is especially true of hereditarianism, because the IQ gap “favors” whites in that whites have a roughly 15-point advantage on average in IQ inside the United States. (The gap appears to be globally consistent, although the exact number depends upon the country, and our data are much more copious inside the United States.) At his point, hereditarianism, or the view that a not insubstantial proportion of the gap is caused by differences in genes, has been removed from mainstream discourse and the academy like a heresy. The orthodoxy simply will not tolerate it, will not debate it, and will not even interact with those who promote it. It has been defeated not by evidence, but by moral bullying—and it is a victim not of falsification but of suppression.

GC: You established yourself as a defender both of “scientism” and of “conservatism.” Yet a common criticism against the view that science (i.e., imaginative hypothesizing corroborated through quantitative, not-trivial empirical predictions) should be solicited to solve all the problems of society is that the limitations of the human mind render science unable to do as well as our cultural traditions, which have been molded—and successfully tested—over several generations of intergroup competition. How do you conciliate science and tradition?

BW: Great question! It’s certainly true that many conservatisms have railed against so-called scientism. But I think that is a mistake. Of course, what follows depends upon one’s definition of scientism. There is certainly a pseudoscientific pretense of knowledge that one should condemn. And there is also a “we trust science” attitude promoted often by progressives in the United States which is mendacious because, of course, they do not trust science that contradicts their sacred values. What I believe is that scientific thinking—skepticism, experimentation, reliance on evidence, et cetera—is the greatest force for generating accurate knowledge in the history of the world. And since I think conservatism is an accurate political philosophy, I think that the insights of science will generally align with the insights of conservative thought. Of course, science will contradict certain particular hypotheses. Maybe, say, the claim that homosexuality is a “chose,” which used to be popular among American conservatives, at least. That is no longer tenable. But the basic idea behind conservatism, namely, that tradition is a good guide to a well-ordered, hierarchal, and cohesive society, is something that will be supported by science. In fact, I’m writing a book on this right now!

Some critics of scientism have argued that it is wrong because science can’t determine values. This is correct, I think, in an academic sense. We could find out, for example, that social policy X would increase human flourishing significantly, and some nihilist could say, “I don’t care. I don’t like human flourishing.” Sure. And science will never show that we should care about human flourishing. But most humans share the intuition that human flourishing is important and should be promoted. Once we have that shared intuition, then we can use science to assess policies. Of course, we should always be humble and recognize that we are incredibly ignorant about many things. That is an important conservative argument.

GC: Some attempts have been made to solve moral issues on the basis of biology and evolutionary psychology. Thus abortion and contraception are deemed permissible on the grounds that birth control—a mere cultural acquisition among humans, but an instinctual predisposition among a large variety of other vertebrate species—comes to implement the “natural law” that is allegedly the demographic adaptation of any population to its environment.

As for homosexuality it is claimed that its recurrence as a genetic trait proves that homosexuals, despite being disadvantaged as concerns their reproductive success, are provided with a number of competitive advantages by reason of which homosexuality should be socially welcomed rather than sanctioned. Likewise premarital sex is justified as fulfilling an alleged hidden function of the sexual intercourse among humans, namely, the function of ensuring—especially throughout pregnancy—the emotional attachment of the male to his female partner and their future progeny. Do you subscribe to such inferences?

BW: On these issues, I do not think evolution (or biology) is informative about what our moral values should be. In general, I think we should promote human flourishing (broadly defined). I don’t think that finding an evolutionary reason for something justifies or condemns it. I’ll give you two examples. It is possible that rape is an adaptive strategy. Not all rape. But the general behavioral predisposition. I certainly don’t think that makes rape morally acceptable. On the other hand, love is an adaptation, and I think love is often (though not always) morally laudable. What is important is the trait or behavior’s relation to social cohesion and human flourishing, not its evolutionary or genetic logic.

GC: You proposed an evolutionary approach to “tribalism in human nature.” How would you sum up your insights? How do you account for the ability of human individuals (to a varying degree) to identify to groups extending beyond the level of ethnical, biological bonds—from multiracial nations and multiethnic religions to humanity taken as a whole?

BW: To be clear, there was nothing particularly unique in that approach! But the basic idea is this: Humans evolved in the context of competing coalitions and therefore evolved traits and proclivities that facilitate tribalism. They create tribes, favor members of their own tribe, and see other tribes as potential competitors. The first and most primitive tribe is the family, for straightforward reasons of kin selection. But humans collaborate with non-kin as well.

My best guess is that ethnic affinity is a byproduct of a kin-recognition system. Humans recognize kin via certain cues. One such cue might be maternal perinatal association. Another is probably phenotypic similarity to the self or to other close kin. Experiments have found, for example, that people trust putative others in photographs that have been manipulated to look like the self more than others in non-manipulated photographs. Individuals in the same ethnic group on average look more similar to each other than individuals from different ethnic groups. Others have argued that ethnic affinity is a byproduct of tribal recognition system. I suppose it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this question. What does matter is that humans do evince ethnic affinity. But they can of course transcend such affinities, creating large tribes called “nations” that are multi-ethnic.

They do this mostly by inculcating norms of inclusion and tolerance and creating shared symbols (flag, national anthem). But it is worth noting that even within nations, ethnic groups often compete with each other. Ethnic diversity, in other words, often creates tension; and it appears to decrease social trust. This does not mean it is necessarily bad (or good). It’s simply a statement of empirical fact. So, it is true that humans can create large tribes that include many strangers and members of diverse ethnic groups; but those tribes are often inflicted by at least low-level tribal competition and tension.

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a thing or two?

BW: The thing that I think is most important is to promote free, judicious debate about all scientifically interesting topics, at least in academia. And we are losing that audacious spirit of the pursuit of truth, replacing it with a timid spirit of obsequiousness. But the truth should not be feared. And our pursuit of it should be non-negotiable in the sciences. I’m not suggesting that we should say every thought or idea that pops in our head because we think it is true. But I am saying that we should explore every reasonable theory about the empirical world. And today that is simple not happening.

The featured image shows “Battle of San Romano,” by Paolo Uccello, painted ca. 1436-1440.

Cultural Evolution And Cliodynamics

Peter Turchin leads a recent academic movement to quantify and mathematize human history. That is, instead of analyzing history thematically, or engaging in broad analysis of happenings and trends, he aims to use processed data to prove hypothesized truths about our collective past. Turchin calls this new science cliodynamics (after the Muse of history), and I thought this effort was largely successful in his Ages of Discord, in which the focus was cycles of stability and instability. I think the effort much less successful in Ultrasociety, which tries to explain all of human history as inevitable cultural evolution towards cooperation; but still, it’s an interesting, if bumpy, ride.

Turchin begins by telling us, accurately enough, that humans are unique in their ability to cooperate at scale. When Turchin says “cooperate,” he means individuals choosing to act in concert with others in pursuit of at least a modestly complex common goal, such as hunting. He says that cooperating only in small groups with known others is the norm among all primates, and that was once also the limit of all human cooperation. Turchin’s bad habit of blurring inconvenient facts shows up early here, however—he ignores that cooperation among non-human primates is actually sharply different than that among primitive humans, so the smooth evolutionary line he is trying to draw from our most distant ancestors to us is not accurate. For example, Turchin does not say, but it is true, that non-human primates cannot even cooperate in small mechanical tasks, such as two chimpanzees carrying a log (they lack “shared intentionality”), and the very earliest humans apparently could.

Anyway, for humans, Turchin contrasts limited cooperation among hunter-gatherers with what is true in the twenty-first century, where some societies are now extreme cooperators, meaning they coordinate voluntarily across millions of people and many years to produce costly public goods (those to which equal access for everyone is the default; air is a public good, for example). Turchin’s aim, therefore, seeing where we began and where we are now, is to explain how this happened “through the new science of Cultural Evolution,” which is a subset of his larger field of cliodynamics.

Turchin never offers a pithy definition of cultural evolution, but he means that cultures evolve through natural selection, that is, competition that drives one society to extinction and enhances the survivor. In an initial sleight of hand, in one glancing reference, Turchin dismisses as the cause of increased cooperation recent biological evolutionary changes such as those proposed by Gregory Clark and Nicholas Wade. Considering that possibility would detract from his thesis of cultural evolution, but he is too honest to reject the reality of biological changes entirely, so he ignores them instead. He traces back the modern version of cultural evolution to E. O. Wilson in the 1970s, and views his own contribution as adding data and mathematical synthesis, which gives “us the tools to analyze societies as coherent, integrated wholes,” strengthening what otherwise might be perceived as mere anecdotes.

In these introductory sections, Turchin previews the rest of the book by informing us that the driver of cultural evolution, more than anything else, is war, which paradoxically, after much tears and blood, creates “large, peaceful, and wealthy ultrasocieties.” (“Eusociality” is the instinctive large-scale behavior of honeybees and certain ants; “ultrasociality” is, we are told, the term for similar cooperative behavior by choice, only found in humans—thus the title of the book.) In short, therefore, this book is an explanation of why war is necessary for peace. I think Turchin is probably right in that, but I think he’s wrong that humans qua humans have reached some unique level of beneficial cooperation in the modern world, and in fact it’s pretty obvious we’ve either passed over into diminishing returns from cooperation, or discovered the hard-coded limits of cooperation. But more on that later.

To prove his claims, Turchin offers selected history from the past ten thousand years. He points out the extreme violence that characterizes all tribal hunter-gatherers (which all humans were ten thousand years ago, with some variations in societal complexity), from American Indians to pre-pharaonic Egyptians. No cooperation existed between tribes, rather a state of war. Turchin wants to offer an explanation of what changed and what made the cooperation of today possible. This is another way of asking how human societies became more complex than tribes, a question that has exercised very many great minds. The short answer given by Turchin’s version of cultural evolution is that the need to not be wiped out led, in zigzag pattern, sometimes up, sometimes down, to greater cooperation and societal size. This is basically Francis Fukuyama’s idea, and not new with him either, but Turchin puts an original gloss on it.

He sets the stage by complaining that cooperation has been declining in America, no doubt trying to offer a compelling hook to the casual reader. He does identify correctly that America is now a far lower cooperation society than it was in 1955. But he does himself no favors with his tendentious and wholly inaccurate capsule history of the last sixty years, in which he ascribes this problem to one cause—the ideology of Ayn Rand, filtered through and popularized by Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, and politicized by Ronald Reagan, who channeled Gordon Gekko (occasionally spelled by Turchin “Gecko,” not lending confidence to the reader). This led to Enron, which was Very Bad. The ludicrous silliness of this trite and superficial analysis cannot be overstated—it completely ignores the several real drivers of this decline, and grossly overstates the influence, and unitary philosophy, of dead European refugees.

Economically the global free market, in what is now in retrospect obviously a mistake, was indeed allowed to overwhelm America. But that’s among the minor reasons that social trust and cooperation has disappeared; the rot of the elites and the dominance of leftist narratives are far more important, as I have discussed more than once elsewhere. Ayn Rand and Mises have no relevance to anything in 2021 America.

From here, though, Turchin improves (even if there’s lots of bouncing around, and a distinct odor of cherry-picking, easy to do with archaic history). He discusses when it is rational to cooperate, most of all to produce public goods, and when it is rational to free-ride. (Answer: always the latter, absent some larger framework that changes incentives; contra Richard Dawkins, there is no biologically-evolved altruism toward strangers, and the “selfish gene” is a myth.) Team sports teach us about cooperation (although reader confidence drops again when Turchin refers to the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team as “famous” and its wins resulting in the campus “celebrat[ing] for days on end”—the former is not true, and I doubt the latter). For a team, maximizing individual performance (and therefore benefit to that player) will almost always lead to not maximizing team performance. According to Turchin, data across multiple sports shows that teams which have higher inequality of performance among team members perform worse, on average, than teams with less inequality of performance. Egalitarian cooperation, that is, on average maximizes returns to the group.

Then Turchin turns back to “the study of how and why the frequencies of cultural traits change with time.” He talks about social trust (which he seems to treat as a subset of social cooperation, though I’d invert that), citing Edward Banfield’s The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, which studied a mid-twentieth-century Italian village with very low trust (although Turchin is wrong that Banfield identified this as a trait passed down over the generations; he actually said the opposite). “Evolution,” Turchin hastens to add, doesn’t mean progress; it just means some change in an otherwise stable cultural system.

From these small-scale societal anecdotes Turchin generalizes a theory of “Multilevel Selection.” He offers some basic (but confusing) math, the “Price equation” (a way to measure the generational effects of covariability), to show that given intense competition between groups, more variation within groups leads to worse outcomes, but more variation across groups leads to better outcomes—for the winning group, that is. “Variation” here includes degrees of cooperation; thus, if a group has more free riders than another group has cooperators, the second group will, on average, out-compete the first (because, as for basketball teams, egalitarian cooperation is better). It will grow more crops, it will get bigger, it will win more battles—as long as the cooperators don’t lose out to free-riders within their own group. To avoid this, they must suppress internal competition, and not allow free-riding within the group.

Having set the evolutionary scene through a mathematical lens, Turchin purports to apply it directly to human history. In this telling, projectile weapons were more important to human evolution, biological and cultural, than fire; they allowed felling large animals and eating the marrow, moving from scavenging corpses to making corpses (and helping to increase brain capacity). Humans were still hunter-gatherers, and fitting with Turchin’s theory, hunter-gatherer societies appear to have been universally (and are today) notably egalitarian, with a “reverse dominance hierarchy” where the group strongly discourages attempted domination by any one person.

Why, though, when other primates have normal dominance hierarchies? Turchin says it was because projectile weapons allow those who set themselves up to be alpha males to be easily killed by the others—unlike among other primates, whose lack of such weapons invariably means an alpha male-headed hierarchy. This meant that evolution selected men (who of course still led, as they have led every group in human history, with zero exceptions) not so much for strength, but for social intelligence, the ability, among others, to build coalitions through cooperation. And in this process, when groups competed with each other, in war, those with more cooperators tended to win out, because of Multilevel Selection.

Cultural evolution isn’t inevitably the result of intense inter-group competition, however. Turchin details the constant warfare of the New Guinea highlands, which continued into the modern era. No cultural evolution resulted at all; some war is just counter-productive, leading to endless death with zero change. For the most part, such wars are either wars within societies or inconclusive wars, as both of which Turchin counts New Guinea wars. He also goes on a pages-long digression, an attack on Victor Davis Hanson’s claim that the “Western way of war” is a “decisive clash with close-range weapons.” Turchin says this is a “delusion,” and all that matters, or has ever mattered, in warfare is long-range weapons, in the West and elsewhere.

But, paradoxically, egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies evolved, zig-zagging, not to larger egalitarian societies, but to the most extremely non-egalitarian societies in human history. Turchin uses the example of Hawaii, where a version of god-kingship evolved, in which lower caste people were often killed for looking incorrectly at the king, or sacrificed in religious rituals. Most or all archaic societies developed in a similar strongly inegalitarian direction, including the earliest human civilizations in Mesopotamia. Turchin ascribes this to the development of agriculture—not at the inception of agriculture, though. He claims that small-scale agriculture, with societies still egalitarian yet capable of cooperation, prevailed for thousands of years before larger archaic states came into being. He ascribes this stasis to people resisting inegalitarianism; his perspective is basically that of James C. Scott (whom he does not cite), that the agriculturalist is much worse off than the hunter-gatherer.

Still, societies gradually moved toward being more agricultural and less egalitarian, even against the interests of most individuals in the society. Why did societies so develop? War—bigger societies win against smaller ones, and a bigger society only works if you culturally evolve to cooperate, to produce crops, among other things. Societies that don’t cooperate get exterminated, using the Price equation. And you can have top-down cooperation; Turchin is not using “egalitarian” as a synonym for “cooperative,” although he frequently blurs the difference in a confusing way.

Turchin offers an unconvincing explanation for why it took thousands of years for this cultural evolution to happen, alleging that anyone trying to grab power was assassinated until “new cultural methods for legitimating” the power of chiefs evolved. He uses the example of the Germanic tribes and Arminius, who was assassinated despite his success against the Romans, and concludes “there must have been thousands of upstarts in human history who failed to make the leap to a permanent kingship.” Then he ascribes success to “avoiding arrogance and cultivating modesty [and] demonstrat[ing] to the people that the hierarchical social order is preferable to the alternative.” Turchin rejects alternative explanations of the masses voluntarily giving up egalitarianism, such as the need for irrigation, economic benefit, or the masses being hoodwinked.

Still, in these early years of the new agricultural mega-societies, those men at the top who were successful in war somehow managed to achieve the right aura to become god-kings, the top of the heap. These god-kings behaved in terrible ways, unrestrained by any moral code, including as a rule “massive human sacrifice.” Cultural evolution nonetheless proceeded; competition among these new larger societies led some to survive and some not; “by eliminating poorly coordinated, uncooperative, and dysfunctional states, [this process] create[d] more cooperative, more peaceful, and more affluent ones.”

So in a sense the societies of god-kings “worked.” But their reign of personal terror was ultimately tempered by the spiritual awakening of the Axial Age—not ended, but refocused onto the well-being of the people. The Axial Age, a term coined by Karl Jaspers, began roughly at the same time as the Greek archaic age (800 B.C.) and lasted for six hundred years, or so. Jaspers’s, and Turchin’s, theory is that a great spiritual awakening took place all over Eurasia during this time, everything from Confucianism to Zoroastrianism, commonly in connection with a clearer separation between the gods and men, and in particular introducing the idea of gods who monitored and cared about human behavior (thereby increasing trust as a result of fear of displeasing the gods). Turchin refers to this as a “universal egalitarian ethic” and says that the god-kings changed their ways as a result. That claim is pretty dubious, given the massive differences among the cited religions (or philosophies), and Turchin ignores inconvenient examples not fitting this claim, such as the Greeks and Romans during the Axial Age.

At the same time, horses, iron, and archery allowed the expansion of horse warriors on the Eurasian steppes; these threatened the existing agricultural empires, wherever they were on the egalitarian scale, which responded with further cultural evolution towards cooperation to meet the new threat. Those societies that failed to adapt in this way, such as the Assyrians, disappeared. States therefore continued to increase in size—and the new Axial religions assisted by gluing multi-ethnic empires, such as the Achaemenid and Mauryan, together, allowing “imagined communities” to arise.

We then skip nearly directly to the modern era, with a lengthy pause to attack Steven Pinker. Turchin rejects Pinker’s theories in The Better Angels of Our Nature; he agrees that violence is down; he just denies Pinker’s claim of a smooth decline over the ages, and rejects Pinker’s claimed drivers, in favor of, no surprise, increased cooperation, and a direct correlation and causation between increased cooperation and decreased violence. Pinker has, apparently, attacked cultural evolution (he instead, like Dawkins, points to the desire to help kin and reciprocal altruism as the origin of cooperation), so Turchin is here repaying the favor; the result is fairly boring inside baseball. (And again, Turchin does not inspire confidence when he refers to the eighth to twelfth centuries A.D. in Europe as “a period of retreat of reason also known as the ‘Dark Age.’ ” One wonders if his history knowledge is anything but surface deep; there is little evidence it is.)

Now we have arrived in the twenty-first century. Turchin uses as his exemplar of modern human ultra-cooperation, the claimed pinnacle of human achievement, the International Space Station. In a sense this is true (even if it’s mostly a United States achievement); the ISS is shiny and fancy, and nobody could make and operate such a machine a hundred years ago. But the ISS also shows that cooperation is not a good in itself; what it produces matters. And the ISS is a dead end, a waste of space, a sink of corruption, and an anchor weighing down human achievement. You never hear about the ISS, because there is nothing worth talking about. Not to mention that government by committee, which is the nature of the ISS, never accomplishes anything except dissipating resources. The ISS is basically a bigger, and not especially better, Skylab—which fell to earth in 1979. It has cost around $200 billion (mostly funded by the United States), with nothing to show for the money. Turchin says “What needs to be destroyed [through cultural evolution] are those cultural traits that make societies less successful—less cooperative, less internally peaceful, and less wealthy.” But what if cooperation, past a certain point, leads not to success, but to stupidity, waste, and retrogression? That’s certainly what it’s led to in the case of the ISS.

Turchin’s other examples of modernity’s cooperative achievements fare no better as proof of progress. CERN (the particle accelerator) is nice, I suppose, and I like scientific research, but it’s been going on for many decades without pushing the human race forward in any meaningful way. And the United Nations?! Please. I could write ten pages on that, but really, does any sensible person think the UN does anything of value? No, it’s a combination of cover for thug regimes, and a poisoned spear used by the global elite to forcibly infect countries with globohomo. In both cases, it’s not some impressive example of cooperation; it’s an engine of corruption and backward movement.

Thus, modern humans simply don’t cooperate for worthwhile purposes on the unprecedented scale that Turchin says. Most large-scale cooperation produces merely diminishing returns and bureaucratic sclerosis; look around. Does the now more than one trillion dollars spent on the Department of Education make you feel good about our ultrasociety’s accomplishments? In fact, history shows societies only effectively cooperate on the scale of the nation-state (or smaller)—and almost always only where there is a starkly homogenous culture; Turchin ignores that the Price equation implies that more than a small amount of diversity, along any variable tied to societal cohesion, is likely fatal for a society.

Moreover, the only cooperators with a lengthy track record of any cooperative ultra-achievement are Western countries. Many non-Western countries have cooperated to a reasonable degree for centuries, and what have they ever added to humanity? Nothing of any importance. There also exists no worthwhile global-scale cooperation, whatever Turchin optimistically claims, and none appears on the horizon. The Wuhan Plague turned out to be not very important as a plague, though very important for other reasons, but certainly global cooperation wasn’t the response, even among Western countries.

Turchin, a prolific and ambitious author, didn’t write this book as an isolated project. As he discusses, ten years ago he started a “global history databank,” named Seshat (after the Egyptian god of scribes), to collect and code historical data. The goal is to mathematically analyze the data collected to prove (or disprove) theories tied to cliodynamics. This sounds good, but it’s not clear to me such a project makes sense.

In Ages of Discord, Turchin tied certain quantifiable indicators, such as elite overproduction, to societal changes, and predicted the 2020s would be a decade of chaos. That he seems to have been right makes that effort seem prescient. But the far broader application of mathematics Turchin tries here doesn’t convince the reader of anything that wasn’t already obvious, and my expectation is that Seshat has the same impact. I could easily be wrong, though, and whatever my reservations about this book, it makes one think about both our history and our future, which is certainly something beneficial.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The featured image shows, “Ice landscape,” by Hendrick Avercamp, painted ca. 1610.