Category Archives: History

MLK, Russell Kirk, And The Ignominy of Modern Conservatism

Boyd Cathey, Christianity, Colonialism, Communism, Conservatism, Democrats, Education, Egalitarianism, History, Intellectualism, Race, Republicans

Outrage is too mild a term to describe the inane barbarity visited by the Russell Kirk Center on the memory of its namesake, Dr. Kirk, founder of American conservatism. It is built on lies and blatant falsehood

By Boyd Cathey

For the past forty years (officially since 1986) the third Monday in January has been celebrated as a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day. Federal and state offices and many businesses either close or go on limited schedules. We are awash with public observances, parades, prayer breakfasts, stepped-up school projects for our unwary and intellectually-abused children, and gobs and gobs of over-the-top television “specials” and movies, all geared to tell us—to shout it in our faces, if we don’t pay strict attention—that King was some sort of superhuman, semi-divine civil-rights leader who brought the promise of equality to millions of Americans, a kind of modern St. John the Baptist ushering in the Millennium. And that he stands just below Jesus Christ in the pantheon of revered and adored historical personages…and in some ways, perhaps above Jesus Christ in the minds of many of his present-day devotees and epigones.

It seems to do no good to issue a demurrer to this veritable religious “cult of Dr. King.” There are, indeed, numerous “Christian” churches that now “celebrate” this day just as if it were a major feast in the Christian calendar. In short, Martin Luther King has received de facto canonization religiously and in the public mind as no other person in American history.

And the King cult has taken hold in the “conservative movement” with an especial tsunami-like effect.

The latest outrage of this revolutionary “cleansing” of traditional conservatism has been what has been inflicted on Russell Kirk, the “Sage of Mecosta,” the generally acknowledged founder of the American conservative movement back in the early 1950s. And it comes at the behest and invitation of the very institution bearing his name, The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, which plans to host a joint conference with the Acton Center, on Monday, January 16, with black activist John Woods, Jr., doing the honours. Under the looming visage of Abe Lincoln, Woods’ Web site, Braver Angels, defines his own organization as dedicated “to depolarization…bridging the partisan divide….” (A photo of a gaggle of brainless, lovey-dovey, googly-eyed Clinton and Trump supporters decorate the site.)

Here is part of the blurb from the Kirk Center:

Without King and Kirk, modern American Social Justice liberalism and modern American conservatism as we know them would not exist. And yet, for all of their differences, our modern politics suffer because contemporary liberalism and conservatism often lack the grounding in virtues, communitarian values and faith in an ordered universe to which both Kingian Nonviolence and Kirkian Conservatism held fast. Is it possible that by reacquainting ourselves with these lost traditions we could summon the better angels of left and right and restore a politics of virtue for the modern age?

Outrage is too mild a term to use to describe this inane barbarity. It is built on lies and blatant falsehood.

At one time figures such as Kirk were considered too unwieldly, too untouchable to be incorporated into the swirling vortex of crazed conservative political correctness. Very simply, although the standard encomia were regularly paid to his earlier accomplishments and role, his essential (negative) views on King, his opposition to the civil rights movement (and legislation), his staunch arguments against egalitarianism, his opposition to the frenzied anti-colonialism of the 1950s and 1960s (cf., his adventure novel, A Creature of the Twilight, set in late colonialist Africa), and his virulent disgust directed at George H. W. Bush (which led him to become chairman of Pat Buchanan’s campaign in Michigan in 1992, just as I chaired the North Carolina Buchanan effort) are significant mileposts which Kirk biographer, Bradley Birzer, must acknowledge (see generally, Birzer, Russell Kirk: American Conservative;  University of Kentucky Press, 2015).

From 1967, when I was a college freshman, until shortly before his death in 1994, I corresponded frequently with Russell. As chairman of the Pfeiffer University Visiting Lecture Program—that would never happen today!—I brought him to my school. And, then, after a year as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow at the University of Virginia (where I finished my MA in 1971), Kirk asked me to come to Mecosta to serve as his assistant for 1971-1972. There I was privileged to learn from the Master. Not only did I delve deeply into roots of traditional Anglo-American conservatism (I assisted RK on Eliot and His Age and The Roots of American Order), but one responsibility I had was to edit Kirk’s little educational quarterly, The University Bookman. There he demonstrated his willingness, among other difficult topics, to debate cognitive disparities between the races (publishing reviews of politically-incorrect volumes).

And then, I recall sitting in his library with him as the results of the Michigan Democratic presidential primary filtered in, in the spring of 1972. Although television sets and radios were not permitted in the old house, “Piety Hill,” up the street, I had a radio, and at Russell’s urging I brought it down from my room (the second floor of the library building). Kirk delighted in George Wallace’s upset victory, although I don’t think he wished his wife Annette to find out!

Such examples of his thinking and actions are now all swept under the carpet, carefully ignored, or simply rewritten, and the “Sage of Mecosta” emerges with new raiment, diminished and stuffed in a Procrustean bed, fully “trans-ed” and purified of his earlier inequities and sins of racism and against “human rights.”

Let us recall a little history, and this I essentially repeat from my earlier essays on this subject to which I refer the reader.

Mention the fact that King may have plagiarized as much as 40 % of his Boston University Ph.D. dissertation [cf. Theodore Pappas, Plagiarism and the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Other Prominent Americans, 1998, and Martin Luther King Jr Plagiarism Story, 1994, if they are have not been scrubbed from circulation], or that he worked closely with known Communists throughout his life, or that he advocated American defeat in Vietnam while praising Ho Chi Minh, or that he implicitly countenanced violence and Marxism, especially later in his life [cf., Congressional Record, 129, no. 130 (October 3, 1983): S13452-S13461]—mention any of these accusations confirmed begrudgingly by his establishment biographers David Garrow and Taylor Branch, or mention his even-by-current-standards violent “rough sex” escapades (which apparently involved even under-agers) [cf., Cooper Sterling, January 13, 2018, VDare] and you immediately get labeled a “racist” and condemned by not just the zealous King flame-keepers on the Left, but by such “racially acceptable” conservatives like Rich Lowry and Dinesh D’Souza who supposedly are on the Right.

Indeed, in some ways Establishment “conservatives” such as Lowry (National Review), D’Souza, Glenn Beck, the talking heads on Fox and the furious scribblers at nearly all major “conservative” journals, and many others, not only eagerly buy into this narrative, they now have converted King into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of “conservatism inc.”—a “plaster saint” iconized as literally no one else in our history. Thus, this latest attempt to “scrub” clean Russell Kirk so that he, too, can join the new holy pantheon…finally, it simply had to happen.

Celebrating King becomes a means for the modern “conservative” movement to demonstrate its “civil rights” and “egalitarian” bona fides. When the Neoconservatives made their pilgrimage from the Trotskyite Left into the ranks of conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s, they brought with them a fervent belief in a globalist New World Order egalitarianism that characterized their Trotskyite ideology, and the determination to redefine and re-orient the traditional American Rightwing, and to re-write, as well, American history.

Thus, the purges of the old conservative movement in the 1980s and 1990s—there was no room for Southern conservatives like Mel Bradford, no room for traditionalist Catholics like Frederick Wilhelmsen or Brent Bozell Sr., no room for paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard, no room for Old Right anti-egalitarians like Paul Gottfried, and no room for “America Firsters” like Pat Buchanan…. These figures did not believe in King’s (and Lincoln’s) “promise of equality,” and thus were no doubt scarred by latent or real racism.

King Day becomes, then, for the modern Conservative Movement an opportunity for it to beat its chest, brag about its commitment to civil rights and “the American dream, the unrealized idea of equality” (that is, to distort and re-write the history of the American Founding), and to protect its left flank against the ever increasing charges that it could be, just might be, maybe is —“racist.”

The heavily-documented literature detailing the real Martin Luther King is abundant and remains uncontroverted. During the debates over establishing a national “King Day” in the mid-1980s, Senators Jesse Helms and John East (both North Carolinians) led the opposition, supplying the Congress and the nation, and anyone with eyes to read, full accounts of the “King legacy,” from his close association and collaboration with the Communist Party USA to his advocacy of violence and support for the Communists in Vietnam, to implicit support for Marxist revolution domestically. Ironically, it was Robert Woodson, a noted black Republican, who highlighted in a lecture given to honor the “conservative virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King” at the Heritage Foundation on November 5, 1993, the difficulties in getting black advocates of the older generation to respect King’s role as a Civil Rights leader. According to Woodson, as quoted in an excellent essay by Paul Gottfried,

…when Dr. King tried to bring the Civil Rights movement together with the [Marxist] peace movement, it was Carl Rowan who characterized King as a Communist, not Ronald Reagan. I remember being on the dais of the NAACP banquet in Darby, Pennsylvania when Roy Wilkins soundly castigated King for this position. [Paul Gottfried, “The Cult of St. Martin Luther King – A Loyalty Test for Careerist Conservatives?” January 16, 2012].

But not only that, behind the scenes there were voluminous secretly-made FBI recordings and accounts of King’s violent sexual escapades, often times with more than two or three others involved in such “rough sex” trysts; and of his near total hypocrisy when discussing civil rights and other prominent civil rights leaders. It is, to put it mildly, a sorry record, scandalous even by today’s standards…Indeed, King makes Harvey Weinstein look like a meek choirboy in comparison.

But you won’t hear any of that mentioned by the falling-all-over-itself media mavens at “Conservatism Inc.” or on Fox. In fact, such comments will get you exiled to the far reaches of the Gobi Desert and labeled a “racist,” quicker that my cocker spaniel gobbles down his kibble.

Almost all the material is now available and accessible online, including material from the Congressional Record. And I have listed it in previous forays into this topic. Much of what we really have come to know is thanks to the excellent work and dedicated research of the late Dr. Sam Francis, who served on the staff of Senator East. Francis’s work is critical, and originally was written to preface the publication of voluminous testimony and documentation placed in the Congressional Record by Senator Helms.

Francis’s essay and the Helms’ dossier were eventually published in book form (I have a published copy, but I’m unsure if you can still find it on Amazon). A few years back Dr. Francis’s introduction [“The King Holiday and Its Meaning,” February 26, 2015] and the lengthy Congressional Record material, which he prepared for Helms [“Remarks of Senator Jesse Helms. Congressional Quarterly,” February 26, 2005] were put online. For a very complete understanding of King’s association and cooperation with American Communists and his endorsement of Vietnamese Communism, as well as his putative endorsement of Marxism here in the United States while condemning the free enterprise system, these two items are essential reading.

But, say the scribblers at the “establishment conservative media,” wasn’t King really a conservative at heart, an old-fashioned black Baptist who believed in the tenets of traditional Christianity? Shouldn’t we simply overlook these all-too-human failings? And, like John Woods, Jr., shouldn’t we search diligently for those points of “consensus” and “shared communitarian values”?

The answer is a resounding NO.

I can think of no better summation of the real meaning of King Day and its bare-knuckled ideological use to deconstruct, dissolve and obliterate American traditions and heritage than to cite, again, Sam Francis:

“[T]he true meaning of the holiday is that it serves to legitimize the radical social and political agenda that King himself favored and to delegitimize traditional American social and cultural institutions—not simply those that supported racial segregation but also those that support a free market economy, an anti-communist foreign policy, and a constitutional system that restrains the power of the state rather than one that centralizes and expands power for the reconstruction of society and the redistribution of wealth. In this sense, the campaign to enact the legal public holiday in honor of Martin Luther King was a small first step on the long march to revolution, a charter by which that revolution is justified as the true and ultimate meaning of the American identity. In this sense, and also in King’s own sense, as he defined it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the Declaration of Independence becomes a “promissory note” by which the state is authorized to pursue social and economic egalitarianism as its mission, and all institutions and values that fail to reflect the dominance of equality—racial, cultural, national, economic, political, and social—must be overcome and discarded.

“By placing King—and therefore his own radical ideology of social transformation and reconstruction—into the central pantheon of American history, the King holiday provides a green light by which the revolutionary process of transformation and reconstruction can charge full speed ahead. Moreover, by placing King at the center of the American national pantheon, the holiday also serves to undermine any argument against the revolutionary political agenda that it has come to symbolize. Having promoted or accepted the symbol of the new dogma as a defining—perhaps the defining—icon of the American political order, those who oppose the revolutionary agenda the symbol represents have little ground to resist that agenda.” 

I will not be celebrating this day; rather, it is for me a mournful reminder of what has happened and is happening to this country…and what has happened to the once-fearless and vibrant “conservative movement” and now to the revered Dr. Russell Kirk.

==========================================

~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music. Dive into Dr. Cathey’s Barely A Blog archive and latest Hard Truth interview.

England’s Augustan Age: On Satirists Alexander Pope And Jonathan Swift

Britain, Christianity, History, Juvenal Early's Archive, Literature, Pseudo-intellectualism, Pseudoscience, The West

The counterculture of England’s Augustan Age was one of the most remarkable in history. It should be a model for the Dissident Right of today

By Juvenal Early

Think of a nominally Christian country in which a beleaguered majority is everywhere beset by the corruption of its leaders and the criminality of rebarbative minorities. Corruption reigns in high places, barbarism and crime reign in the street, and the culture is pervaded by mediocrities, who are celebrated as rebel geniuses, when they’re really just dullards, courtiers, and the usual Establishment lackeys. Can you guess?

That’s right. England in the Augustan Age, 300 years ago.

This was a time after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the Catholic James II was usurped by his daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William of Orange. When the Duke of Marlborough proved that it was possible for a General to become richer than a King. This is also the age when the English Language evolved into what we know today.

But although people in the Augustan age were certainly better-read than the savage illiterates of our own times, still, as always, the lowest common denominator prevailed. And so, people eschewed their rich legacy of Dryden and Chaucer and Shakespeare, in favor of the smut purveyed by the odious bookseller Edmund Curll or the profuse dullness (Dulness) on offer from the hacks who infested Grub Street.

In 1721, Robert Walpole became England’s first prime minister, a year after the “South Sea Bubble,” the Wall Street Crash of its day. Scam and corruption were everywhere prevalent. Walpole was a man of his time, enriching his courtiers and punishing his enemies. He stayed in power for 20 years, during which time highwaymen, thieves, and thief-takers—like the infamous Jonathan Wild—held sway, and the average person was under siege.

But a culture always generates a counterculture, and the counterculture of the Augustan Age was one of the most remarkable in history. It should be a model for the Dissident Right of today. The key figures of that counterculture are two of the immortals of literature: Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. I’ve been hearing about Swift and Pope all my life but hadn’t known that they lived at the same time and were friends—although Swift was an Anglican clergyman and Pope a Catholic (not a big door-opener in post-Tudor England).

Swift and Pope joined with Dr John Arbuthnot and playwright John Gay to form the Scriblerus Club. Arbuthnot, a little too fond of eating, created the great English persona John Bull, the honest citizen who’s a tad slow on the uptake. Gay wrote what may be the first musical, “The Beggar’s Opera” (1728), a rollicking send-up of Walpole’s corrupt England. “The Beggar’s Opera” would be modernized by the German communist Bertolt Brecht into “The Three-penny Opera,” Gay’s protagonist Captain MacHeath transformed into Mack the Knife.

The Scriblerians inspired one another. More than anyone since the great Juvenal, they elevated satire to high art. Their targets were numerous, and they tended to consign them to the charnel house of Dulness (sic). The enemy list included Classics scholar Robert Bentley, depraved bookseller Edmund Curll, laughable Poet Laureate Colley Cibber, and critic Lewis Theobald. Above all, there was Walpole, as criminal-friendly as a Soros DA, who would’ve strung up the Scriblerians, if possible. As it was, he saw to Swift’s Irish exile and banned theatre in London after Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera” proved such a smashing success. Poor Gay died long before his sequel Polly was staged (in the age of Johnson!).

The best work of the Scriblerians still resonates three centuries later, especially in the case of Swift and Pope. They’ll be discussed for as long as great literature still matters.

Born into a Catholic Family, the same year Papist James II was ousted in favor of William and Mary, Pope’s (1688-1744) prospects were never bright. Fortunately, his family had money and could take shelter from the worst of the anti-Catholic persecution in lovely Windsor Forest. Many career paths were never an option for Pope. Plus, he was born with tuberculosis of the spine. Handicapped in body (he never grew above 4’6”), handicapped by religion (Swift tried to bribe him into the Church of England), denied all but the most rudimentary education, Pope could not have been expected to amount to much. Yet, he made more off the printed word than any writer since Shakespeare.

Inclined toward the Ancients, Pope imitated Horace and wrote first-rate translations of Homer. Classics scholars swear by his Iliad. He edited new editions of Shakespeare that were an invaluable link in the English theatre.

A poet, Pope wrote his brilliant satires in verse, mostly iambic pentameter. What does poetry have to do with satire? Oscar Wilde, anyone? Going back to Dryden, verse was a preferred vehicle for satire. Even Jonathan Swift used it occasionally. In Post-Revolutionary America, nothing stung like a good poem, and newspapers used it often. Take Jefferson’s friend Philip Freneau, editor of the National Gazette. Here he is in early 1800, jabbing fellow countrymen for going overboard in mourning the recently deceased George Washington:

He was no god, ye flattering knaves,
He own’d no world, he ruled no waves;
But—and exalt it, if you can,
He was the upright, Honest Man.

 Pope’s eloquent venom was meted out to many agents of dullness, for instance:

Walpole and the courtier John Hervey (Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot):

Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And, as the prompter (Walpole) breathes, the puppet (Hervey) squeaks.
Or at the ear of Eve (Queen Caroline), familiar toad,
Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies,
His wit all seesaw, between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss [referring to Hervey’s bisexuality].

George Bubb Dodington, a Walpole ally, very susceptible to toadying hacks:

But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
To Bufo (toad) left the whole Castalian (spring of the Muses) state.
Proud as Apollo, on his forked hill,
Sate full-blown Bufo, puffed by every quill,…

 Sometimes there was tribute, here to his friend John Gay:

Or simple pride for flattery makes demands,
May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!
Blessed be the great! For those they take away,
And those they left me; for they left me Gay;
Left me to see neglected genius bloom,
Neglected die, and tell it on his tomb….

Pope reserved special scorn for bookseller Edmund Curll; Lewis Theobald, a critic who attacked Pope’s edition of Shakespeare at length; and actor-cum-Poet Laureate Colley Cibber. The latter two would find themselves skewered in Pope’s Magnum Opus, The Dunciad, as respective kings of the Dunces.

The scurrilous Curll, a literary thief and plagiarizer, published purloined texts, hack-writer pulp, bios of newly dead celebrities, and even some smut. An opportunist, he’d got the best of Pope early on, but Pope turned the tables later, manipulating Curll into publishing his letters, i.e., presenting Pope’s side of his own story.

Of Curll and his ilk (Grub Street hacks), Pope writes in the Dunciad:

Hence miscellanies spring, the weekly boast,
Of Curll’s chaste press, and Lintot’s rubric post:
Hence hymning Tyburn’s elegiac lines,
Hence Journals Medleys, Merc’ries, Magazines;
Sepulchral lies, our holy walls to grace
And New Year odes, and all the Grub Street race.
In clouded majesty here Dulness shone;
Four guardian virtues round support her throne…

Cibber and Theobald had offended Pope in other ways, including the dullness of their work. Cibber, a comic actor, was elevated to Poet Laureate in 1730, though he was without poetic accomplishment. The critic Theobald nitpicked Pope’s Shakespearian Editions at great length, advertising himself as England’s supreme Bard expert. Both men were deemed suitable candidates for king of the dunces:

I sing. Say you, her instruments the great!
Called to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;
You by whose care, in vain decried and cursed,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first.

After his death, Pope’s reputation only grew. He was esteemed by Dr Johnson in the 18th Century; Byron, Lamb, Arnold, and Ruskin in the 19th; and W.H. Auden and Edith Sitwell in the 20th. Only The Bible and Shakespeare have been quoted more. His tormentors outlived him; his reputation buried theirs. They exist only in the footnotes of many Pope biographies.

And what of Swift (1667-1745)? Born in Dublin to a carpetbagging English family, forced by circumstance and Walpole to spend most of his life in Dublin, he felt cheated out his English birthright. An Anglican, he didn’t particularly care for the Catholic Irish. Yet, he excelled in Dublin as a clergyman, and rose to become Dean of St Patrick’s, a post he held from 1713 until his death. An Englishman by temperament, he’s as much a part of the Irish canon as James Joyce and W.B. Yeats. When the English pushed Ireland around a little too much, Swift rose to its defense, and was inspired to write his sublimely satiric “Modest Proposal.”

From 1689 until 1699, Swift worked as the secretary to the writer/diplomat Sir William Temple, in Moor’s Park, Surrey. Temple, whose work hasn’t aged well, was nonetheless a first-rate prose stylist, as Samuel Johnson said of him, “the first writer who gave cadence to English prose.”

During this period, Temple became embroiled in the literary Battle of the Ancients and Moderns. Temple took the Ancient position in opposition to proponents of modern books, like Richard Bentley. Swift, always loyal to Temple, produced his first great satire in Temple’s defense, The Tale of the Tub. There would also be the long essay, The Battle of the Books. Swift’s reputation as a writer was established.

Why did he write? Entertainment be damned. He told Pope he wanted to vex the world, not divert it. Swift’s oeuvre is vast and rich, from The Tale of the Tub to The Bickerstaff Letters, The Drapier Letters, and many essays and poems. But, of course, with Swift, it always comes down to Gulliver’s Travels (1726).

Gulliver’s Travels, is Swift’s masterpiece, the acme of satire in the English letters. It is Swift’s disquisition on Walpole’s England and the rottenness of Human Nature. Americans know Gulliver’s Travel as a bowdlerized children’s book, an entertaining little Disney cartoon, and most people think it begins and ends with the Lilliputians. In fact, it’s a darkly humourous parody of Robinson Crusoe (Swift didn’t care for the Whig hack Daniel Defoe)—filled with puns, bodily functions, and scatology—that’s an exhaustive survey of what’s wrong with the world.  It’s also prescient and speaks to our present condition as much as anything written 300 years—heck, 3 days—ago. Far from being a children’s book, most people can’t appreciate Gulliver’s Travels until they’re over 30.

Ship’s doctor, Lemuel Gulliver, takes four journeys. First to Lilliput, where the tininess of its citizens is meant to represent the smallness of mind and vision Swift observed in Great Britain. There’s a Walpole stand-in Lilliput, the rope-dancing Treasurer Flimnap. Gulliver, soon in trouble for urinating on a fire in the queen’s chamber (thereby saving her!), will eventually need to escape Lilliput and find his way home.

On his second voyage, Gulliver reaches Brobdingnag, inhabited by a race of giants, as large in proportion to Gulliver as he was to the Lilliputians. The Brobdingnagians are large of mind, large in generosity, peaceful, and open-minded. When Gulliver—let’s be clear; Gulliver is not Swift, not yet—proudly tells the Brobdingnag king about England, the king is aghast. He sees through Gulliver’s arguments and rationalizations. Through the king, Swift sends up his native land, including the national bank and national debt; the warmongering of its leaders; the war profiteers, like Winston Churchill’s revered ancestor the Duke of Marlborough:

He asked me, who were our Creditors? and, where we found Money to pay them.  He wondered to hear me talk of such chargeable and extensive Wars; that, certainly we must be a quarrelsome People, or live among very bad Neighbors; and that our Generals must needs be richer than our Kings.

On learning about England’s legal system and its legislators, the king tells Gulliver:

You have made a most admirable Panegyric upon your Country. You have proved that Ignorance, Idleness, and Vice are the proper Ingredients for qualifying a Legislator. That Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose Interest and Abilities lie in perverting, confounding and eluding them.

The Brobdingnag King might almost be a paleolibertarian—200 years before the birth of Murray Rothbard. He sums up England as follows:

I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth.

The Brobdingnagians also provide Gulliver with the opportunity to see human bodily decay at close-range, man through a microscope. As enormous as the Brobdingnagians are, Gulliver can easily see the imperfections of human flesh, the pores, the moles, the blemishes. The sight of a human mouth eating is a horror beyond words. Illusions are shattered.

On his third trip, Gulliver journeys to the floating island of Laputa, ruled by people who anticipate 21st Century elites who mandate electric cars and pandemic lockdowns, who demonize their opponents as anti-science. Laputa reveres science too. At their grand Academy of Lagado, the so-called Projectors rule the roost. They are eerie precursors to the rabble who run America’s woke universities. With funding available for the most esoteric of projects, the Projectors seek to extract sunbeams from cucumbers or reconstitute food from piles of human excrement. Wiser by now, Gulliver observes that

The only Inconvenience is, that none of these Projects are yet brought to Perfection; and in the meantime, the whole Country lies miserably in waste, the Houses in Ruins, and the People without Food or Cloaths.

Gulliver’s final voyage takes him to the land of the Houyhnhms (say “HUE-nums), horse-like creatures of pure reason. When he arrives, Gulliver is greeted by a revolting horde of human offal, known as the Yahoos (in case you wondered where that term came from). Gulliver runs away from them, in fear for his life, but recognizes in the Yahoos his own English race.

When discovered by the Houyhnhms, they at first take Gulliver for a Yahoo, but he convinces them otherwise. He takes up residence with their leader, and soon feels comfortable among such rational beings whose worldview is so sympathetic to his own. The king’s conversation enlightens Gulliver. Gulliver has found his perfect home.

But the Houyhnhms are unnerved by his presence, so much does he resemble a Yahoo. So, reluctantly, Gulliver leaves and makes his way back to England, where he is now appalled by human contact, even with his family. They’re all Yahoos to him, and for a long time he avoids interaction. He eventually comes to a sort of détente with his fellow human beings, and lives out his days, spending as much time with horses as possible.

What can we say in conclusion about Pope and Swift? To state the obvious, human nature is immutable and projects devoted to perfecting humans are destined to fail. Also, satire is a very effective weapon. Truth, matched with wit, is a powerful combination.

If you’re a Christian, it’s okay to be a misanthrope like Swift. Let’s be honest, all this love thy neighbor/love your enemy stuff gets carried out way too far. Tough love is much better. If you love your neighbor to the point that you’re tolerating open borders, foreign wars, and drag queen story hour, you’ve got a problem.

In conclusion, we need to emulate men like Pope and Swift. They were the coolest guys in town in their own time, and their work has lived on until ours. If you match truth and wit with intelligence and real learning, you just might leave a legacy that people will be talking about 100 years from now.

********************************************************************************
“Juvenal Early” is a contributor to Barely A Blog. His 2020 piece, “The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem,” created quite a buzz.

* Screen picture credit here

UPDATED (9/23/022): The Genius Of Erik Larson

Art, English, Environmentalism & Animal Rights, History, Literature, Science

Thanks are owed to the good friend who introduced me to the genius of author Erik Larson.

I’m finishing up Thunderstruck, so am learning more about Marconi than my old man, a PhD RF (wireless) engineer, knows. I do appreciate now the magic and mystique of the rather rarefied field of wireless. In fact, I’m quite captivated by it.

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History is riveting—it taught me about the Galveston Hurricane, the most lethal natural disaster in US history, instantiating the arrogance of US climate scientists even in 1900. The state’s scientists dissed and cancelled (as in banned) the Cubans–who understood the science of hurricanes well before us–sacrificing about ten thousand souls.

I learned so much about the intrigue—and role of the British Empire, the Admiralty, in particular—in leading Lusitania, a luxury British passenger ship, right to the German, U-Boat assassins. The book is Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.

And who knew Chicago had such uniquely problematic soil? Larson does! Just as he conveys a solid grip of wireless technology in Thunderstruck, or the science of hurricanes in Issac’s Storm, Larson goes into the geology of the city and the great architecture and architects of fin de siècle America, all in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. (George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. wanted to best Gustave Eiffel, so he gave us the American version of  the Eiffel Tower, the Ferris wheel, which, during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, carried up to … 2000 people. All new and wondrous to me.)

There are always parallel murder plots, where you learn about the mass murderer du jour or wife killer on the cross-Atlantic lam. These are made all the more suspenseful if you DO NOT GOOGLE them.

Larson weaves gorgeously written, multi-layered, primary-source based yarns about epic historic events. And he never visits the Internet for his research, but, rather, works in libraries and wherever rare artifacts and documents are stowed.

On LinkedIn, a variety of people keep propagating on my page with fluffy effusions about their writing careers. Having sampled a paragraph or two of these people’s “prose”—and then promptly unfollowed the particular umbrella association that represents them (us “writers”) and advances the careers of these scribblers—I would advise these producers of piss-poor prose, first to quit assaulting the eye. But if they wish to improve, study Larson: structure of plot and sentences, syntax, how he starts a sentence; his use of adjectives, how he builds tension.

Still, there should be a guild that pays most “budding” writers not to write.

UPDATED (9/23/022): One of our readers is a descendant of brave survivors of the 1900s Galveston Hurricane. What tough, admirable people American were. Many still are: MAGA.

National Review ‘Conservatism’: As Ugly As The Promulgators

America, Boyd Cathey, Conservatism, Federalism, History, Race, Racism, The South, The West

Can there be unity with those who wish our extinction and replacement, or with those who urge us to surrender our beliefs?

By Boyd Cathey

Now, after what may have been a racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo (May 14) by a deranged young man, new insistent calls go out for the government to fight “white nationalism” and “right wing domestic terrorism.” Attorney General Merrick Garland has already signaled more than once that this is the nation’s major challenge—not the illegal drugs epidemic, not the rampant criminality tearing our cities apart, not the huge spike in gang violence, not the literally millions of illegals coming across our borders; no, not any of these, but homegrown “extremism” coming from disaffected, white segments of the American population.

In addition to new surveillance and potential censorship measures, such as the Disinformation Governance Board, and additional government intrusion into the lives of American citizens, also come the now-accustomed demands from various anguished personalities, political and otherwise, with pained expressions on their faces, pleading for national unity. “Can’t we all get along,” they mumble, echoing words uttered decades ago by Rodney King. (Remember him from the violence in the streets of Los Angeles?).

But such desired “unity” is always one-sided, meaning that we must discard our beliefs, our principles, and accept the latest agenda item, the latest conquest advanced by the post-Marxist Left. Far too many so-called “conservatives” in positions of leadership in America have embraced this elastic strategy, of first opposing something (e.g. same sex marriage), then almost abruptly reversing course, even showcasing their about-face, while defending it as completely consistent with “conservative principles.”

Then, whether from pundits at Fox News or from the Rich Lowry and Kevin Williamson types at National Review, we are instructed to follow suit, to unite around a refashioned definition of conservatism which always seems to tag along just a few steps behind the worst outrages of the radical Left.

The great Southern author, Robert Lewis Dabney, writing a decade after the end of the War Between the States (1875), expressed presciently this tendency of dominant, post-war Northern conservatism:

“This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.”

Thus, a Robert E. Lee and a “Stonewall” Jackson were only a few years ago honored not just by conservatives but nationally, but now lightweight Neoconservative historians like Allen Guelzo dictate for us positions scarcely distinguishable from views current on the extreme Left. And Fox News personalities like Bret Baier and Brian Kilmeade do their damnedest in unserious, ghostwritten potboilers to publicize the greatness and sublime conservative vision of figures such as Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Douglass, and Abe Lincoln.

We are told that we must discard what once we believed were fundamental principles, that we must unite around the evolving definition of conservatism.

But what are those beliefs around which we should unify? If what was once posited as fundamental truth can simply be discarded, tossed on the ash heap, or ignored, where does that leave us in the immense culture war that we have been losing now for more than half a century?

The strategy of the present-day “conservative movement” almost exactly parallels the observation made by Dabney nearly 150 years ago. It has failed abysmally, and, in fact, its most significant achievement is to lead well-meaning citizens away from genuine and effective opposition to the rot which threatens to engulf us.

On the contrary, my mentor the late Dr. Russell Kirk, who in many ways was the father of an older conservatism (back in the 1950s), stated what should and must be our essential credo: We hold a series of immutable beliefs as fundamental, and those principles and that vision are necessary for a just society. Those beliefs and principles come to us as a precious legacy from our ancestors and from our Western Christian traditions.

And as a necessary corollary: there can be no real agreement, no real unity with those who openly and forcefully reject that foundation and those essential principles as poisoned by racism, sexism, homophobia, and “white privilege,” not to mention hints of “fascism” and other not-so-pleasant “isms.”

Let’s consider some history.

The old American republic was formed through a kind of understood compromise between the colonies; the Authors of our constitutional system fully comprehended that there were diverse elements and interests that must be balanced to make the new nation at all workable. But in 1787 there was essential agreement on fundamentals that a seemingly miraculous result was possible. Yet, those far-sighted men also feared what might happen should that which they created be perverted or turned from its original propositions.

The central Federal government was counter-balanced and limited by newly and fiercely independent states which jealously guarded a large portion of their own sovereignty. Voting was universally restricted to those considered most qualified to exercise the franchise. Universal suffrage was considered by the near totality of the Fathers of our Constitution to be a sure means of destroying the young republic: absolute democracy and across-the-board egalitarian views were considered fatal for the future of the country. Such views were sidelined to the periphery, without practical voice in the running of the commonwealth.

Above all the American republic was, in all but name, a “Christian” republic. Certainly, the basic documents of our founding did not formally state as much. There was no formal national “religious establishment,” as existed in almost all European countries. Yet, despite that lack of national confessionality, the new nation, while demanding freedom for religious expression, professed de facto the Christian faith as a kind of understood basis of the new nation. As is often pointed out, almost immediately after adopting the Bill of Rights in 1791 (authored, ironically, by slaveholder James Madison), including the “freedom of religion” First Amendment, Congress provided for paid Christian chaplains in the new Northwest Territories. Even more confirming is the fact that nearly every one of the original thirteen colonies/new states had a “religious establishment” or religious test of some sort on the state level, and those establishments were left completely untouched by the First Amendment, which was understood to mean only the formal establishment of a national supported state church.

Above all, there existed amongst the new Americans the ability to converse and communicate with each other, using the same language, and employing the same symbols and imagery that had brought them together originally as a country. Appeals to traditional English law and the historic “rights of Englishmen,” the belief in a God of the Old and New Testaments whose prescriptions found in Holy Writ informed both the laws of the state and the understanding of justice and virtue, and an implicit, if not explicit, agreement that there were certain limits of thought and action beyond which one could not go without endangering the republican experiment, formed a kind of accepted public orthodoxy.

That modus vivendi—that ability to get along and agree on most essentials—continued, sometimes fitfully, until 1861. The bloody War Between the States that erupted that year might have been avoided if the warnings of the Authors of the Constitution had been heeded, if the Federal executive in 1861 had understood the original intentions of 1787 and the precarious structural balance that the Philadelphia Convention had erected. But that was not the case, and four years of brutal war followed, with over half a million dead and thousands more maimed, and, most tragically, that essential “via media” between an increasingly powerful central government and the rights of the states and of communities, and eventually, of persons, distorted and perverted.

The resulting trajectory towards centralization, the growth of a powerful Federal government, has continued nearly unabated for 150 years. With it and with the gradual destruction of not just the rights of the states, but also of communities and persons, came the institutionalization of a large and mostly unseen permanent bureaucracy, a managerial and political class, that took upon itself the role of actually ruling and running the nation. James Burnham and the late Samuel Francis have written profoundly on this creation of a managerial state within the state.  Indeed, in more recent days we have come to label this establishment the “Deep State.”

Concurrent with this transformation governmentally and politically, our society and our culture have equally been transformed. It is certainly arguable that the defeat of the Confederate states in 1865, that is, the removal of what was essentially a conservative and countervailing element in American polity, enabled the nearly inevitable advance of a more “liberal” vision of the nation. At base, it was above all the acceptance by post-war Americans of nearly all persuasions of the Idea of Progress, the vision that “things”—events, developments in thought and in the sciences and in culture, as well in governing—were inevitably moving towards a bright new future. It was not so much to the past we would now look, but to the “new” which always lay ahead of us.  And that future was based squarely on the idea of an “enlightenment” that always seemed to move to the political and cultural Left.

While loudly professing and pushing for more “openness” and more “freedom,” liberation from the “straight jacket” of traditional religion and religious taboos, and propounding equality in practically every field of public and private endeavor, ironically, the underlying effect and result of this “progress” has brought with it, in reality, a severe curtailment of not just many of our personal liberties, but of the guaranteed rights once considered sacrosanct under our old Constitution.

This long term, concerted movement, and eventual triumph of nineteenth and twentieth century progressivism, politically, culturally, and in our churches, not only placed into doubt those essential and agreed-upon foundations that permitted the country to exist in some form of “unity,” but also enabled the growth of ideologies and belief systems that, at base, rejected those very foundations, the fragile creed, of that origination.

In one of the amazing turnarounds in history, the fall of Soviet Communism in 1991—hollowed out and decaying after years of boasting that it would “bury” the West—witnessed almost concurrently the exponential growth and flourishing of an even more insidious and seductive version of post-Marxism in the old Christian West, in Europe and the United States. A century of the ravages and termite-like devastation by liberalism and progressivist ideology had debilitated the foundations—and the required will—to resist the attractions of a cultural Marxism that eventually pervaded our culture, our education, our entertainment industry, and our religious thought. Older and gravely weakened inherited standards and once-revered benchmarks of right and wrong, of justice, of rights and duties, were replaced by what the Germans call a “gestalt,” or a kind of settled overarching Marxist view of society and culture which had no room for opposing views. Dr. Paul Gottfried has written extensively on this phenomenon.

That dogmatic vision now pervades our colleges and public education; it almost totally dominates Hollywood; it controls the Democratic Party and huge swathes of the Republican Party; it speaks with ecclesiastical authority through the heresiarchs who govern most of our churches; and, most critically, it provides a linguistic template—an approved language—that must be accepted and employed, lest the offender be charged with “hate speech” or “hate thought.” Its goals—the imposition of a phony democracy not just in the United States but across the face of the globe—the legislation of an across-the-board equality which is reminiscent of the kind of “equality” the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm “legislated”—the perpetuation of a largely unseen, unanswerable, unstoppable managerial and political class, secure in its power and omnipotence—the proclamation of the United States (and Europe) as an “open nation with no physical borders”—have been and are being realized.

It is this overlay, this suffocating ideological blanket, with its dogmas of multicultural political correctness, its anathematization of perceived “racism,” “sexism,” homophobia,” “white supremacy,” and other characterized forms of “bigotry” as unforgivable sins, that now has assumed near total dominance in our society. The older forms of liberalism were incapable of offering effective opposition, for cultural Marxism utilized liberalism’s arguments to essentially undo it, and eventually, absorb it.

Yet, there are still millions of Americans—and Europeans—who have been left behind, not yet swept up in that supposedly ineluctable movement to the Left. They are variously labeled the “deplorables,” or perhaps if they do not share completely the reigning presumptions of the Mainstream Media and academia, they are “bigots” or “yahoos,” uninformed “rednecks,” and, increasingly, maybe “white nationalists,” or worse. The prevailing utter condescension and contempt for them by the established Deep State would make the most severe witch-burner of the 17th century envious.

So I ask: we are asked to unify around what? Unite with whom? On what basis and on what set of fundamental principles? Can there be unity with those who wish our extinction and replacement, or with those who urge us to surrender our beliefs?

Frankly, such unity is neither possible nor desirable…unless millions have a “road to Damascus” conversion, or some major conflagration occurs to radically change hearts and minds.

==========================================

~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music. Dive into Dr. Cathey’s Barely A Blog archive and latest Hard Truth interview.