When I began composing brief answers to some reader comments on my “The Guns of Nihilism” post, I decided to elaborate just to cover some ground I could not cover in the original post, and also to clear up some issues in my own mind.
One commentator asked:
“What I don’t understand about these nihilist pacifist leftists is: Don’t they understand that by undermining America they are putting their own lives in danger? Also, if they weaken America’s military strength they open up the possibility that America will fall. But this would destroy their power and all leftists lust for power. What it is so hard for me to understand is the phenomenon of power lusting leftist/fascists who are nevertheless suicidal….”
What is hard for any rational, life-loving person to understand is the death premise of such nihilists. But, it’s that very premise which you must grasp and take seriously. Then you won’t be so puzzled by their words and actions. If America fell, nothing would please them more, even if that fall entailed their own deaths. That is why they are nihilists, worshippers of nothing, champions of nothing, advocates of non-existence. Rand dramatized it perfectly in the character of James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, and Galt explicated the phenomenon in his speech.
It’s obvious in Obama’s words and actions, and also in the rhetoric and actions of environmentalists. Environmentalism has moved from being a pseudo-science to being a virulent anti-science religion, attracting all sorts of people searching for a mystical sanction that will allow them to coexist alongside but with apologies to plants, animals and rocks. Nihilists are secular Buddhists, hankering for a means to exist and not exist at the same time, but preferring their own non-existence if they can take the lovers of life they depend on with them into it. (The actual Buddhists at least keep to themselves.) If they can’t kill or have the lovers of life killed by some means, then they want to make their lives as painful and joyless and burdensome as possible.
Thus Taggart’s confession that he wants to hear Galt scream as Galt is being tortured on the “Ferris Persuader.” Thus the whole “green” movement, which philosophically clueless automakers and “renewable energy” technocrats and all sorts of bizarre, rudderless people are submitting to. Thus the militancy of political, economic, and cultural egalitarians. From top to bottom and across the board, the nihilists’ motivating premise is death, or pain, or destruction, or all three. Concede any of their arguments at your own peril — and concession to their arguments is what our policymakers have made, guaranteeing the economic decline of this country, not to mention its inability to defend itself from global predators.
For example, environmentalists object strenuously to the Navy’s use of sonar in the oceans, because it allegedly “disorients” whales. They place no value on this country being able to defend itself, which they would benefit from, and ostensibly some mystical value on the uninterrupted freedom of whales, from which they derive no conceivable or measurable benefit. This is altruism, or the application of that code to the relationship between man and nature. Since environmentalists treat man and nature as coequals, or nature as intrinsically superior to man, if nature is in any way imperiled, man is expected to do “the right thing” (à la Kant), and erase himself from existence. Altruism and nihilism are natural partners.
The Dadaists and the avant garde of abstract art and atonal composers in the early 20th century posed as “artists” and professed a passion for art. But their primary motivation was to destroy art which they couldn’t begin to match and which their “souls“ nevertheless would not permit them to emulate; their “passion“ was actually a hatred of it. They were as value-impoverished as Obama is. They had no values to preserve or betray. The art historian who tells you that a urinal with a Barbie doll sitting in it is just as great a work of art and an instance of a profound esthetic appreciation or statement on the meaning of life as Michelangelo’s David or Daniel French’s The Minute Man, is a nihilist seeking to sabotage your mind, your values, and art as such. (I include French’s statue here because it is a special symbol of what Obama and his nihilist cohorts wish to obliterate in Americans’ minds, the necessity and willingness of men to fight for freedom.)
The critic who tells you that someone like Willie Nelson or Ice-Cube or John Cage is just as great an artist and composer as Rachmaninoff and that there is no difference in spirit or talent between them, is such a nihilist. And for years whole schools of nihilists were busy in the literary and academic realms as constructionists, deconstructionists, and post-deconstructionists, actively destroying the value of great literature in the minds of college students. That carnage, wrought over decades of that kind of “education,” is responsible for the arid, colorless, and windless landscape of modern literature.
Toohey’s speech to Peter Keating near the end of The Fountainhead about his means and ends to power is but an introduction to that part of Galt’s speech which deals with the means and ends of the nihilists, of the murderers of man’s spirit.
As for the Department of Defense’s brass-shredding program, regardless of the caliber of ammo, it is just the start. The anti-gun advocates and legislators won’t stop there, as the commentator pointed out about the move to ban lead in private-sector ammunition. It’s their way of weaseling around the accusation that they are against Americans protecting themselves, just as their ilk in another venue duck the charge of censorship by rationalizing the establishment of “speech codes” or “fairness doctrines” that won’t hurt anyone’s “feelings” or “self-esteem” or to assure anyone of his “right” to speak on someone else’s time, dime or property.
Finally, some further remarks are in order on the Department of Homeland Security’s Assessment, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” I have read the entire document, and it is noteworthy that while it focuses on “rightwing paranoia” as a potential catalyst for violence, it is itself written from a state of left-wing paranoia. It dwells almost exclusively on the alleged nemesis of a supposedly rival ideology, on any group purportedly governed by “rightwing” thinking, from white supremacists to returning “disgruntled” veterans to antigovernment militias, and just about anyone or any group that questions the wisdom, rightness, and efficacy of government interventionist and extra-Constitutional policies. That Assessment is one of the crudest instances of political “package-dealing” I have ever read.
As I read this document, I could not help but suspect that it is an expression of the left’s worst nightmares. Remember that the DHS was created with Republican President George W. Bush’s encouragement and blessing, and is the child of the “right” intended to detect and combat Islamic terrorism. Predictably, an agency vested with extra-legal powers such as those possessed by the DHS must sooner or later regard itself as the end-all and be-all of national policy, see itself as a permanent adjunct to any political party that assumed the reins of power, and turn against the population it was intended to safeguard. The April 7th Assessment assumes the possibility of a general “rightwing” uprising against the federal government, or at least general civil disobedience in revolt against a federal government encroaching upon and obviating freedom, to which the government would have no answer and only two options open to it: to “back off” or to impose martial law, including censorship.
The DHS, in cooperation with the FBI, monitored the Tea Parties of April 15th and presumably recorded the faces and identities of thousands of Americans who took part in the “antigovernment” events. Doubtless all that information has gone into the DHS database.
The Assessment is also noteworthy in regards to its omissions. If the DHS is concerned about the potential for violence and “rightwing” terrorism, there is not a single mention in the memo of the terrorism the agency was originally created to detect and combat, Islamic jihad. But it does cite instances of “rightwing” violence, such as the “shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 4 April 2009.”
“The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled ‘one world government.’”
Of course, the DHS can argue that Islamic jihadists are hardly “rightwing extremists,” and so were not the subject of the memo, but it cannot deny that Islamic “extremists” also subscribe to conspiracy theories, train for urban warfare on private compounds in this country, are anti-Semitic in principle, seek to convert this country to Islam and replace the Constitution with Sharia law, and dream of a “one world government,” as well, in the form of a global caliphate. Why discriminate between them and Aryan race skinheads or white supremacist militias? I found it interesting that while the Assessment memo cited the Pittsburgh killings, it did not cite the recent killings of the four Oakland, California police officers by a Muslim, nor any of the numerous attacks on non-Muslims by Muslims in this country since 9/11.
One can only suppose that the DHS considers some “extremist” violence, even if it has not occurred, more equal than other “extremist” violence, even though that violence is a matter of record. And the “extremism” of the current administration, which is hard left-wing cloaked in populist rhetoric, receives a free pass from the DHS.
“Rightwing extremism,” according to the DHS mindset (and that of the Obama administration and of left-wingers everywhere), is synonymous with fascism. But fascism, which is government control of nominally private businesses, industries and property, is simply the “right wing” of the left. The only element that distinguishes the two political and ideological phenomena is the role of religion. They are otherwise one and the same.
Had he been elected, there is no reason to believe that Senator John McCain, based on his political record, would have acted any differently from Obama over the subprime mortgage crisis, except that we would have heard more about God and patriotism as he was busy proposing bailouts, firing company executives, and holding CEOs accountable to the government. McCain and Obama are in the same fascist/socialist camp. McCain would have moved only a little more slowly in the direction of fascism. Obama and his fellow felons are in a hurry to establish a fascist/socialist state before any credible opposition to it can rally its forces and point out to Americans the false spectrum of “left-wing vs. right-wing.”
We can only hope that we can persuade Americans of the deception of that yardstick, and show that the only political alternative beyond it is laissez-faire capitalism and freedom.