UR is not a politics blog and I have no intention of making it one.
Not that I have anything against political bloggers. I read them all the time. Many of the blogs on the sidebar1 are primarily political. It’s just that everyone I’ve ever met who had any serious interest in or engagement with politics has turned out to have some kind of major emotional disturbance or another. While I’m sure no one would consider ascribing any such description to me, I’d hate to think I was involved in exacerbating it in my readers—two or three of whom still return, like crazed swallows, each week to this soiled and desecrated nest.
However, I read this statement, by one Matthew Yglesias—apparently this is some guy who likes to review essays without having read them; perhaps he has a background in academia or journalism—and it pissed me off:
Mass market comedy, as seen in Hollywood films, strikes me as a pretty good partner for post-Goldwater conservatism. Comedy, to be funny, usually requires the skewering of the powerful in some sense. But the mass culture marketing demands that your product not actually do much to challenge prevailing ideas in the world. It’s a bit of a paradoxical situation, but it nicely mirrors the efforts of a political ideology designed to further entrench the privileges of the country’s wealthy elite and its white Christian majority and somehow do so in the name of anti-elitism.
The legend that Yglesias repeats here might be called the Central Fiction of the Democrats. It is their Dolchstoss, their Donation of Constantine, their succession of Edward the Confessor. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to reality. However, once you believe it, you are ready to slurp down more juicy lies by the hundreds.
Actually, the CFD should probably be called the CFPD, because there is no Democratic Party in the United States and there hasn’t been one for at least 75 years. In my opinion, history will probably prefer to refer to our present governing party as the Pseudo-Democrats. The last actual Democrat in presidential office in the United States was probably Grover Cleveland, although a minority of historians may prefer to designate James Buchanan or even Monroe. It’s also worth noting that some Democratic qualities were demonstrated by the Republicans of the “return to normalcy” period, namely Harding and Coolidge.
I refer to the Democrats as our “governing party” because of the simple fact that most people who work in government are Democrats.
This is especially true when you consider all the unofficial arms of the government, that is, the extended civil service, all those who consider themselves to occupy a position of social or otherwise public responsibility. The most prestigious tentacles of the extended civil service are the press and the educational system, and it is arguable that, at least strictly in terms of internal security, these are the most powerful organs of the Polygon.
It is a commonly-held misconception that elected politicians hold any significant power in the current Western system of government. At best they represent figureheads around which power coalesces, and you can follow the power by following the name, as if it were a small and dusty bobber attached to a large and energetic fish. I think it’s pretty clear that, in most if not actually all cases, there is an actual person who corresponds to the name, and this person has an actual brain and an actual personality and is not infected or otherwise controlled by any kind of evil alien parasite lifeform. From what I can gather, elected politicians are mostly very nice and thoughtful people, much more pleasant than most of us believe.
It is a mistake to believe, however, that any of them has any particular power. They are mostly intellectual captives of their various handlers, who are smarter than them and who specialize, like computer programmers, in making themselves permanently indispensable to their employers. Any statesman of the 19th century would have sneered at these pathetic puppets and their coteries of blowdried, backbiting, half-educated clowns.
However, there are about as many “Republican” politicians as “Democratic” ones. And at least the Republicans actually are Republicans, that is, Puritan fanatics attracted by the gigantic barbecue of Henry Clay’s American System and its latest heir, the New Deal. They are just not quite as bad as the Democrats, except for on a few issues, where they make up for it by being much worse.
This is how the Polygon does its thing. It is balanced in an evil-genius sort of way. No one could possibly have invented such a heinous conspiracy—it’s just what happened. It is an adaptive system, an evolutionary triumph of deception. Think of it as a little slug thing in your ear, like in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” And remember that as you attempt to extract it, the slug will emit an extremely loud screaming noise. There is no way to avoid this.
In any case, back to Yglesias. Who presumably thinks he is some kind of enlightened, independent, and moderate thinker, surveying the pinnacle of history from a comfortable hammock which appears, for some reason, to be positioned on its top. In fact, he is a tool of the security forces. And so is anyone employed as a public intellectual.
(Note that I am not an opponent of the security forces! In fact, as a quick look at my archive will demonstrate, gentlemen, I am among the most pro-security writers around, well past Tory and flirting boldly with the possibility of declaring myself a Cavalier. However, the color of UR is and always will be orange—the one revolution which ever was glorious. Any connection to Blogger’s default template is purely coincidental.)
In the 21st century, any writer whose work appears anywhere but his own blog is a shill. Or at least, he should be assumed to be compromised unless proven otherwise. The Internet has all the tools you need to write and be read without being beholden to anyone. If anyone rejects this independence, you have to wonder why.
In the kingdom of the slug, people do not go around telling each other that they have—or even may have—a slug in their heads. Therefore, if writers have the option of complete freedom, they have no option but to accept it. The assumption must be that every intellectual institution which exists under the Polygon, which is legitimate in its eyes, is part of it.
For example, it makes about as much sense to get your climatology from Exxon as to get your political science from the State. In fact, probably more, because Exxon can probably find a way to make money going either way, whereas the State always wants you to cherish it more.
Of course, there is no actual slug in anyone’s head. But there are a variety of ways the Polygon manages public opinion in order to achieve the same general result. Most of these techniques were described quite eloquently by Walter Lippmann in 1922, and I have no reason to bore you with their repetition. Certainly, if you have the universities, the schools and the press, you can pull off just about anything.
In any case: back to the Pseudo-Democrats and their shrieking monkey-lizard, Yglesias.
The Democrats turned into the Pseudo-Democrats when they were taken over by fanatical Republicans in a series of assaults by maniacal, birdbrained religious politicians, who realized that if they shifted their allegiance to this moribund party of a failed, defeated military force, they could take it over and create a new party which was actually even more zealous than the aging, mellowing Republicans—whose corrupt and bloody-handed rule, legitimized by terrorist mullahs like Henry Beecher, John Brown and Julia Ward Howe, had made such a sick mockery of the genteel Constitution their Federalist grandfathers designed.
A series of internal party coups were led by William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt. Bryan’s captured the party but not Washington. Wilson’s captured Washington but eventually was forced into a partial retreat. FDR’s captured the US government, thanks largely to a deceptive presidential campaign in which he ran as an actual Democrat, has never given it up, and never intends to give it up.
Historians have christened this fanatical coup with a pleasant name. They call it the Progressive Movement. This may be a good indication of how much you can trust 20th-century historians, who have tended to be, rather unsurprisingly, progressives.
Richard Gamble’s recent book, The War For Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, The Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation, is an excellent guide to these sincere and goodhearted architects of evil, who helped the US Federal Government into its present habit of letting good motivations, in the form of increasingly ambitious and unrealistic attempts to erect political institutions based on unscalable and intrinsically unstable blueprints, drag it into murderous and counterproductive wars. Rothbard’s essay “Power and the Intellectuals: World War I As Fulfillment” is a shorter treatment of pretty much the same material.
The general MO of the Progressive movement in attaining power was to cause problems, then appoint themselves to fix them. There is no better example than the Great Depression, which a few economists are starting to admit was the result of the bubble created by Progressive cheap-money policies under the early Federal Reserve.
The only reason we don’t think of the Progressives’ descendants, the Pseudo-Democrats, as a Christian party, is that the Pseudo-Democrats don’t want us to. In fact, their theocratic ideology, progressive idealism, is the leading modern descendant of the most powerful American Christian tradition, the “mainline” Protestants, who infested New England in the early 1600 and for some damned reason have never left.
These bastards are the Roundheads, the Puritans, whatever you want to call them, and after their defeat of the last Cavaliers (to be clear, the Slave Power was no picnic either), they have reigned unchallenged in North America. And no less outside it—indeed, more. The beliefs held at Harvard, not those at West Point and certainly not at VMI, are the complacent belches of today’s global transnational governing class.
If they feel some occasional Biblical pang, they sometimes call themselves “Unitarians.” But they have long since discarded the encumbrance of the supernatural, and these days their opinions are simply the truth—“science” or “reason,” usually. I am particularly fond of the phrase “reality-based community,” which is so stupid it’s almost ironic.
How repugnant can such smugness get? This is our ruling class. This is our governing party. These are the beliefs of celebrities, kings, professors, novelists, poets, painters, and musicians. All the best people lick the Democrats’ prodigious and lordly asses, bowing and scraping to their ridiculous banalities—whether the planetwide spoils system they call “environmentalism,” or the combination of saccharine pity with rule-by-corrupt-thug that is “postcolonialism.” I’m sorry, but I simply refuse to believe that it is in any way difficult for anyone with a brain to tell which beliefs are, in the world of 2007, at least in all our cozy nests of real status and real power, fashionable—and which aren’t.
The Central Fiction of the Democrats is that none of this is true. Actually, we are still living in the British Empire, under the rule of Queen-Empress Victoria, but of course a hundred years later. Prancing lords and ladies, cardinals and their catamites, sneer at us as they slide past in their Porsches, crushing the poor under their great alloy wheels. In some obscure way the British ruling class has managed to merge with the Nazis, perhaps through one of the Mitford girls, and they have been joined by the Jews, who have actually become Nazis themselves and are also engaging in their usual criminal behavior of running global financial corporations and making terrible, terrible films that appeal to the lower-classes. And so on and so forth.
One can become infinitely lost in the infinitely weird details of this bizarre mirage, which is embraced deeply and lovingly, with absolute and uncritical credulity, by basically the same people who believed in Prohibition a hundred years ago, or Transubstantiation five. (Or was that Consubstantiation? Maybe it was Consubstantiation.)
So. What Yglesias is trying to tell us in his little snarky microthought is that he speaks for the Resistance. Specifically, for the BDH faction, a plucky bunch of underdogs who struggle to defend their last few planets against the overwhelming star destroyers of the OV Empire.
This is, as I’ve said, a single gigantic lie. In fact, Yglesias makes a hissing noise when he breathes. He finds your lack of faith disturbing. When he gets angry, little lightning bolts shoot out of his hands, and his clone armies are hatching as we speak.
Of course, I could be an evil plotter as well. Perhaps I, too, have my clone armies. So why not take a while to make up your mind? Don’t stop reading Yglesias, but read UR too. Soon I will send out orange scarfs for to wear when we make revolution.