We can envy the men
who lived in the 19th century, and even those who thrived in the
first half of the 20th. The future lay before them, promising
unimaginable wonders in science, technology, medicine, and industry, in man’s
mastery of the world. There were, of course, wars and political scandals, and a
few economic twists and bends that inconvenienced everyone. But, overall,
despite the occasional impediments and transitory anxieties, the future lay
unobstructed before men and that was a mood taken for granted.
months before Custer and his 7th Cavalry rode to their end at Little
Big Horn, Alexander Graham Bell was granted Patent No. 174,465 for his working
telephone. By 1883, Britain’s Gilbert and Sullivan were “corresponding”
by telephone over what to do about the kinks in The Mikado.
of telephony led ultimately to the Internet. Western civilization in this
period had the hallmarks of a confident extrovert, a “reaching out”
phenomenon that led to the moon-landings and the robotic exploration of Mars
and other planets, not to mention unparalleled advances in medicine,
agriculture, and leisure time.
the latter half of the 20th century, the sobering residue of the
Depression and World War II was tenuously offset by the prosperity-induced
complacency of the 1950’s. In books, newscasts, and movies, nay-sayers and
doomsters virtually cornered the market in heralding man’s malaise and predicting
his ultimate demise. The optimism began to change into a cloying trepidation,
an indistinct but very tangible uneasiness, marked by a loss of faith in what
the future would bring and a tendency to wallow in guilt-ridden introversion.
While science and technology seemed to bound forward at breathtaking speeds,
unaffected by the change in mood, something was left behind to wither and
gesture limply at the future.
be out of focus, and to grow fuzzier by the year, inebriated on some kind of alcohol
that allowed people to see pink elephants and candy-striped zebras and
shimmering Cities on the Hill surrounded by palm and date trees. But the pink
elephants were wreaking havoc in china shops, the candy-striped zebras turned
out to be anti-American academicians and intellectuals and vociferous but venal
politicians, and the shimmering Cities on the Hill were being characterized as
dehumanizing dystopias. Too many Americans developed a kind of cultural
claustrophobia for which there was no apparent cure.
progressed from the 20th to the 21st, the world seemed to
be imploding, bursting in on itself, with institutions, political and moral
norms and even science collapsing in on what seemed to be a vacuum.
better dramatized than in the opening pages of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, when Eddie Willers is shocked to learn that the
seemingly imperishable oak tree he had once revered was indeed perishable.
presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his
greatest symbol of strength.
oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked
into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty
shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside – just a
thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The
living power had gone, and the shape it left had not been able to stand without
civilization, like the heart of Eddie Willers’ oak tree, has been rotted out
for decades. We are just learning the extent and scale of that rot. We no longer
feel comfortable in our own country, and civilization seems to be the object of
numerous lightning strikes: the growth of collectivism and its various
applications of statism; a tolerance for various kinds of mysticism, from a
vengeful environmentalism to a belligerent Islam; the denigration of
individualism and the enthronement of the mob, the group, and the tribe; group
warfare for the spoils of statism, for the wealth looted from bewildered and
of the rot? Basically, it is the disparagement and abandonment of reason and
the substitution of its numerous antipodes: multiculturalism,
“diversity,” egalitarianism, militant subjectivism, organized envy,
moral and economic relativism, irrationalism as a protected choice; systems of
whim-worshipping non-absolutism. And an ingrained, inculcated anathema for
reason, reality, individual rights, and capitalism, an anathema taught in our
schools and flaunted in our culture from our theaters to Capitol Hill.
to make is to ascribe the incremental collapse of civilization to some
all-powerful, ineluctable, omnipotent conspiratorial force of evil. Evil is not
“satanic.” It is essentially a parasite. It feeds on weakness. Evil
possesses the cunning of a moocher. Like jackals, vultures, and hyenas, it
trails the greater predator, and moves in on the prey after it has been
waylaid. It has no plan but to consume the scraps left by a greater predator.
predator is anti-reason. Islam, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, the Muslim
Brotherhood – all the usual and numerous suspects we take for granted today,
all the villains we rail against but whose origins we remain ignorant of but
remain astounded by their callous indifference to reason – are merely the
parasitical consumers of the living and the dead.
grasp that the evil that has been enveloping them in stages for decades, and
which promises to suffocate them, is not the product of some mystical power
that cannot be opposed – when they grasp that their lives depend not on faith
or random happenstance or on “good intentions” – but on a fealty to
reason and the sanctity of their lives as volitional beings imbued with the
capacity for reason, then they will be able to combat the evil. Then, and only
then, will they recognize that evil can triumph only by default. It is
otherwise powerless to enslave or destroy.
issues on which I have recently commented in response to various articles that
have appeared, or which came to my attention and address the evil but which
struggle to grasp the nature of the evil.
of a Massachusetts school decided that to honor its honor students would
infringe upon or harm the “self-esteem” of students who had not made
the honors roll. So he cancelled the school’s honors night. This is scoreless
kids’ soccer games gone mad, and is an instance of how corrupting the notion of
egalitarianism can be.
Massachusetts principal has been criticized for canceling his school’s Honors
Night, saying it could be ‘devastating’ to the students who worked hard, but
fell short of the grades.
reports that David Fabrizio, principal of Ipswich Middle School, notified
parents last week of his plan to eliminate the event.
Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families,
can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult
class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point
average,” Fabrizio penned in his first letter to parents, the station
also said he decided to make the change because academic success can be
influenced by the amount of support a student receives at home and not all
students receive the same level of emotional and academic support at home.
The second instance
concerns the common moral premises shared by statist Democrats, in particular
President Barack Obama, and the morally rudderless Republican Party.
2013 on Thursday, [Rick] Santorum
believes the nation’s leaders currently lack the ability to persuade Americans
to aim for greatness.
of technology, yet people feel like they’re suffering now,” Santorum said. “I
make the argument that’s because leaders and culture are leading people to
think there’s nothing to suffer for and that there’s no great aim. We have to
inspire people so they’re willing to make the sacrifices.”
point out that advancing a platform that allows individuals to succeed on their
own should not mean abandoning those in need….
“If we just say we need less government and it’s everyone for himself, we won’t
win elections,” Santorum said. “We have to do what our founders did, which is
not just to take care of ourselves, but take care of our fellow Americans.”
isn’t this what Obama has been trying to drill into our heads, too? Sacrifice,
sacrifice, sacrifice? To “those in need”? But this has been the
leitmotif of the Republican Party, ever since, say, the presidential race of
1912, which the Republicans handed the election to the statist Democrats and
Woodrow Wilson because they said, “Me, too!” And I shudder to imagine
how Santorum perceives the Founders, who in his mind must have been a pack of
blithering, self-sacrificing altruists.
Founders strive to create between 1775 and 1787? A “democracy” or a
constitutional republic? To hear it on the lips and in the words of virtually
every columnist, politician and teacher today, it was a “democracy.”
For example, one of the most prolific and perceptive conservative columnists
today is Daniel Greenfield, who also regularly falls into the trap of
advocating “democracy.” Arguing eloquently and effectively in his
March 16th column, “Democracy
Is Not The Answer,” that a policy of “exporting” democracy to
countries that have little or no history or notion of limited government and
individual rights, and in fact are prima
facie culturally hostile to such ideas, a policy that has backfired on
America more than once, he concludes:
export democracy is a Cold War relic and the assumption that exporting
democracy also exports our values is clearly wrong. It isn’t democracy that
makes free people; it’s individual responsibility. Democracy with individual
responsibility makes for a free nation. Democracy without individual
responsibility is only another name for tyranny.
the answer, anywhere, because anywhere it has been tried, it has lead to
tyranny. The etymological root meaning of the term is “mob rule,” as
suggested by the Oxford English
Dictionary (“popular government – people having rule, sway, or
authority”). “Democracy” implies that no checks are made on the
power or authority of the people or their elected officers or representatives. “Democracy”
relieves both individuals and their elected representatives of individual
responsibility and political responsibility. Our Founders, conscientious and well-read
students of ancient and modern political history, understood the dangers
inherent in democracy and labored to
create a constitutional republic,
that is, one which enumerated the powers of government and protected individual
rights from populist or mob nullification. That is what our Bill of Rights –
now under attack by the left and the Obama administration and defended
haphazardly and ineffectually by conservatives – was all about.
“Democracy” and “republic” are not synonyms, although the
latter term has been largely appropriated by dictatorships (the various
same column, stresses that a nation’s citizens must be amenable to totalitarian
rule before a totalitarian can take over. He points out that most prominently
the Russians and Germans in the last century “democratically” elected
themselves dictators, and so have the Argentines, Indians, Venezuelans,
Chinese, and other populations (with much help from blatant thuggery). The
ancient Greeks and Romans consistently elected themselves tyrants (democracy in
action). Most recently, Muslims elected themselves the Brotherhood, an
organization which basically wishes to make its election to power the last in
Egypt. Muslims who voted against the Brotherhood ironically wanted also to
continue subscribing to Islam, but a more “benign” kind that wouldn’t
enforce Sharia to the extent that the Brotherhood proposed. Well, the Egyptians
have learned the hard way that you can’t have your Islam and eat it, too.
person would vote for his own subjugation? Here is a hint, provided by Abigail
Esman in her article, “Staggering
Number of Women Converting to Islam” of March 12th.
thing the Dutch girl did once she’d converted to Islam was change her name – to
Soumaya, she says, because “she was the first martyr. She was prepared to die
Aphrodite, is one of a wave of tens of thousands of Westerners who convert to
Islam every year, more than 75 percent of whom, astonishingly, are women.
Equally surprising is the fact that most of these women gravitate to
conservative Islamic groups – the more misogynistic and oppressive ones –
insisting all the while that they feel “liberated” and “free.”
fact is not explained to these women and young girls is what has many feminists
concerned, not only about Muslim women in general, but particularly, about converts,
who are, as it were, handed Islam in small, attractive bites, sweetened
artificially and served up on flowered plates.
these young women display little self-confidence or ability to define their own
values and behavior – qualities that make them easily influenced by others, and
susceptible especially to those who offer up a lifestyle option that relinquishes them from responsibility for their actions,
that gives them a code of behavior and the ease of attributing what they do or
wear or eat to God and not to self. [Italics
of women who voluntarily erase their own identities as individuals and trade
them for being selfless ciphers of Islam can easily be applied to anyone who
trades the responsibility for his own life and actions for being a ward and
dependent of the state, indistinguishable from all other wards and dependents. These
are the same individuals who display little self-confidence or the ability to
define their own values and behavior; Islam, or Obama, for example, can relieve
them of any kind of moral compass but the one that points to what others say and
do, especially if that “other” is a man who hands them a Utopia in
“small, attractive bites, sweetened artificially and served up on flowered
plates,” as Obama has served up his socialist agenda to countless men
whose only ambition is to be lead and rewarded for following.
to surrender their own selves and independence in the name of any collectivist
“other-ism” necessarily will call for the sacrifice of others if that
would mean “spreading the wealth” around, “a little” or
converts to Islam nor the converts to Obamaism grasp is that both systems are
nihilist in means and ends. While they may derive some sadistic satisfaction
from seeing their moral betters impoverished or extinguished, they will learn
sooner or later that their own numberless masses can also be deemed expendable
by their leader and the state.
we are witnessing today and will witness for some time to come can be checked
only if men rediscover the role and necessity of reason that underlies our
country and Western civilization and perpetuates them if they choose to. The only
alternative is to perish from the falling debris, whether that consists of the
First and Second Amendments or the smashed dreams and shattered hopes and the
plundered wealth of the victims.
by Ayn Rand. 1957. New York: Dutton/Penguin 35th Anniversary
Edition, 1992. p. 5