Autumn Fundraiser 2013, Day 1
Ah, the lovely fragrance of traditions — apple pie and Chevrolet fumes, right? At least that was our American 20th century version, complete with the flag unfurling in the smoky air of burned hot dogs. Hand me a Norman Rockwell painting someone… we can discuss the everyday objects he illustrated that have since disappeared, taking with them some of the artifacts of our “culture”, things we thought were permanent. But hey, we were Americans. Naïve. A young country full of optimism.
We’re older now, and thanks to our “leaders”, far less optimistic.
These posts for our fundraising are difficult to start sometimes. Life keeps interfering, and besides, it’s difficult to ask for money.
However, our agreement with our readers, made back in 2008 — that in exchange for your robust support we would keep the blog free of advertisements — has worked well. Along with our savings (a project sadly interrupted by unemployment) and the Baron’s freelance computer jobs, it is your generosity which keeps us going. Each quarter I am amazed that your gifts work out to be what we need at the time. (For the longer term we’re trying to set aside some from each quarter to get the roof over the Baron’s office repaired. The carpenter gave us a heads-up on that and I want to stay ahead of the snow or rain.)
Sometimes I flirt with the idea of doing an Amazon ad somewhere at the bottom of the page. But that’s simply because I’m over there to do my incidental shopping, like vitamins and the drops for the Baron’s eye. I think of Amazon as the WalMart for those of us who don’t get out much. Recently I noticed our friend, Fausta, has a button on her blog that links to her Wish List; that might be fun. At the moment, our List serves as a place to stash reminders for things I need or want. I looked at the list the other day and when I saw the book on salt, put there in a moment of curiosity, I thought to myself, “Oh my word. I’m turning into Fjordman!”. I mean really, a book on salt? Does that not tell you Fjordman is in the room??
The Baron is going along with my request for the theme for our 2013 Autumn Quarterly Fundraiser. To be sure, the subject of “culture and traditions” is a bit wooly at best. Since he hasn’t any recipes to share, he’s not sure where I’m steering this or whether he’ll have anything cogent to add. He’s right to be doubtful about this; I share the same uncertainty, since I’m hacking a path through unthought knowns and asking that you help shed some light here, too.
The idea for this for this one is both to use traditions as our theme and to share ideas about what makes a shared culture evolved gradually from a variety of sources. In other words, we need your input. No doubt we share many of the same mental constructs built over time. Just by thinking about the things the Baron and I talk about between the two of us, or the ideas and experiences our readers share in their emails and comments, it’s obvious we’re living in a cultural storm. Our once-firm foundation is shaken. It’s enlightening to read other bloggers and websites to see the level of confusion and anger we’re all experiencing.
It’s obvious we’re in flux: just look at the increasing erosion of our formerly broad acceptance of what constitutes agreed-upon public symbols. Mrs. Obama’s possible sneer, “it’s just a flag” at the 9/11 ceremony disheartened many. If the First Lady finds the American flag detestable, where do we go from there? If the President slams shut the door of the White House against the public, are we now a homeless people? [His spite backfired; he thought Americans would blame Congress, but they know how his mind works now. Thus he may be forced to open the doors of The People’s House soon. Crow is a hard dish to get down. Be sure to look at that image at the top of the link.]
Sometimes it seems as thought we’re being fitted for straitjackets which will permit the lobotomies in which “Consensus” will be inserted and Common Sense removed. Even as we fight back against these Tailored Truths regarding, oh, maybe…
global warming“climate change”
- safe pollution levels
- the national “danger” guns represent
- the received wisdom regarding “renewable” products and energy
- what constitutes acceptable public moral behavior
- what constitutes “gender”
- the mortal sin of “white racism”, neither forgivable nor redeemable
- illegal immigrant “amnesty”
…and so on. The list is huge; I’m hoping readers will add to it. I haven’t even touched on the spectrum of religious faith — from atheism through agnosticism and onward across the hundreds of denominations we Americans create and renew endlessly. To call it “diversity” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Notice the scare quotes. It’s difficult to write a sentence about our current culture without resorting to a kind of shorthand; we use these symbolic pointers to signal to others that we don’t really buy the gospel according to the Marxists-in-charge. And the Marxists do the same thing, marking up words like “liberty” or “Constitutional Rights” or those “gun freaks” and “bitter clingers”. Tedious, innit?
One sure sign of the extent to which the cultural consensus is being set upon and fragmented is the growing reluctance people on the Right experience about voicing opinions: the penalties for even mild dissent within our ranks can be stiff, never mind what the collectivists have to say. I’m talking about dissension inside the tent.
Closer to home (our Gates of Vienna home), the fierce cordon sanitaire set up around Diana West continues to be instructive. We ought to be used to it by now, but the invocation of silence is even more disturbing than the invective used against her. The Center for Security Policy is giving Diana West an award in New York City this week. What do you want to bet that many of those who would have been there in normal times will suddenly find themselves otherwise engaged on the date of the award? This is one of the ways you can discern how money or power can be leveraged to diminish anyone who dares to break with the Consensus. Obviously, there is more than one Consensus — really, do you see the similarities to the way Americans divide and dissent into ever smaller “houses of faith”? Remember the old joke about the Jew on a desert island who built two synagogues so he’d have one he wouldn’t be caught dead in? It’s become like that.
If nothing else, this sad episode has demonstrated that Marxist behavior has thoroughly infiltrated the Right. Arm-twisting and air-brushing are now as unbridled among Conservatives as they are among the Left. Of course it was always that way, but was it this pervasive?
Fear is rampant; integrity is in short supply. If so-called conservatives feel free to make demands on others regarding exclusive “allegiance-or-else-the-outer-darkness”, then any purported honor on our “side” is gone. Whenever you see someone disappeared, delinked or otherwise thrown under the bus or pushed down the memory hole because they deviated from the pushers’ Doctrine, then you know you’re in the presence of a totalitarian. Totalitarians on the Right have always existed, we just didn’t want to admit they infested our ranks.
When such things happen, there are a number of predictable responses. Some folks stand around to watch whoever it is swinging from that crane. Others turn inward, toward their families and networks of friendships. But even those are becoming problematic: many politically divided families will be gathering on Thanksgiving with a strong rule: NO political discussions during the meal please. Others have since broken their lances over one another’s head and refuse to convene anymore.
Even friendships go by the board. A personal anecdote: some women friends of long-standing gathered to visit with a mutual friend who was dying. She had chosen to die at home, so we were taking turns keeping watch. In the living room, the occasional bursts of desultory conversation sometimes turned to politics and, yes, it was the usual socialist/collectivist bromides, with Greek chorus agreement of invective against Them. These were well-intentioned women, and all but the woman dying and I were well-paid government employees. Our worlds had intersected when we were younger so we’d gathered again as death summoned us.
Unfortunately, someone noticed I wasn’t joining in these conversations and one questioned me directly about my thoughts on what was being discussed. Replying that I didn’t usually discuss my political views or my sexual preferences, I went on to say that the contrary conclusions I’d come to had begun with reading economic philosophy in an attempt to understand some of the problems I saw. How’s that for generalizing? Quickly, eyes glazed over: Economics? Philosophy? — these were my friends but I could see the gears grind. And then I said the unmentionable: that I was praying for our mutual friend. When the veneer really began to crack, I lightened up by adding that whether one believed or not, prayer certainly gave us something to do while we waited. Nervous laughter…
Isn’t it alarming that politics has become the vying of different state religions, with the
high priests politicians arrayed against one another? Now it’s political philosophy that causes fierce rants against heretics, with baby killers and gun nuts on separate ramparts, easily identified by he slogans on their t-shirts. On other walls other warriors contend — the collectivists vs. (sneer) Tea Party “populists”.
In this poisonous atmosphere, which extends into cyberspace (maybe even especially here, since so much fury and vitriol has the advantage of being anonymously fired off), some of us have been repeatedly forced to choose: either convert to the same Thought Doctrine as one’s opponent (former ally, even), or they will retaliate by using some kind of leverage to silence the errant. Thus you have a growth industry in revenge: boycotts, public shaming, bullying — whatever works to bring opponents to heel. In the case of my dying friend and those who were waiting with her, I was the odd woman out. However, because we had a shared history of former good times, and because our friend was dying, somehow it stayed civil; stiff and strained but civil. You won’t be surprised when I say I don’t hear from them much anymore. Politics has so frayed the social fabric that there’s not enough material left to sew into any meaningful pattern.
You all know our opinion of television and the poisoned air it has created in modern culture. This phenomenon is partly due to the now-accepted 24/7 pressure of and by commercial television to generate “news”, to excite and distress us at the same time. Mass media must continually push its Henny-Penny-the-sky-is-falling alarm or… guess what? We won’t bother watching. Its continued existence depends on selling stories — and the state forms of communication are still selling something: the opinion of the state. This pervasive, intrusive medium of communication bears a large part of the responsibility for the degradation of the culture. However, all forms of media only serve to hasten a process that has been going on… for how long, do you think?
For the sake of this week’s discussion of traditions and culture — or Tradition and Culture — let’s begin…somewhere. How about the publication of The Communist Manifesto and Engels’ “Communist Confession of Faith”? That was a crucial node point — in Europe at any rate. It would be a long while before America began to feel the collectivist urge.
However, if we look at parallel times — the mid-19th century — for Americans the emphasis was internal. Until the great sea change of intellectuals washing up on our shores in the 1930s — those refugees from the mortal fields of Europe — we Americans were content to do, mostly leaving the more effete pursuits of “book learning” to the old folk in the Old World.
The beginnings of American modernity lay not with the union of workers or with collectivization. Instead we created the first truly modern and horrific war. Our four years of feeding the mechanized mass killing machine (which also began the obvious erosion of our Constitution by President Lincoln) annihilated the cream of our male population: at least 700,000 lost their lives, and the shadows of that holocaust, largely unrecognized but still in effect in the north, remain with us today. [As a point of comparison, if the war were fought with today’s population, the death toll would be more than six million.] Some fifty years on, our massive train of mechanized death was to converge on the same track with Marxism, and millions would die even more anonymously throughout the course of the 20th century — what we grew up thinking of as “modern times”. Only they’re not modern anymore.
But how many of us now even remember that our first holiday of the summer, Memorial Day, grew out of the Civil War? In some states, it was first known as Decoration Day, a time set aside to visit our soldiers’ graves, to clean and refurbish them after the winter passed.
It is hard to leave the comfortable place we grew up, replete with Memorial Days and Fourths of July and long summer vacations, but that place is fading fast. For many it is gone; for others it never was. The 20th century, that brief hegemony of the United States, is irretrievably past, and the things and people we honored and cherished are passing into oblivion too. Time does that to each generation, but for us it is particularly difficult because we lack our previous optimism, the one that nourished us all our lives, the one that said the future would be an improvement on the present.
The knowledge that it will not be drives our despondency and/or panic. While the low-info folks watch TV, we wonder about the future being put in place for our children, and we simultaneously loathe the crony capitalism that is crashing around us and feel helpless to stop the steamroller of socialist collectivism. The wish to build a fence ’round what remains, to guard the periphery, to protect our children — all these desires and fears fuel our days. We are torn between conflicting ideas: to build a fortress based on what we know, or to be like Samson and bring down the temple on us all.
The vast majority of America’s population could be called The Bridge (more inclusive than the bulge of boomers that followed World War II since it includes those born before the War as well as those born thirty or forty years following). They are us — people who used to ‘dial’ phones, who remember the first clunky desktop computers and keyboards, but also can recall life before the mendacity of our institutions was exposed.
But what lies ahead? No one can tell us, though many are willing to point to coming events that portend great change. Here are just a few, gathered up from an email sent to a subscriber the other day:
- Are you worried about the increasing world population? Don’t. Somewhere around 2050, when we’re gone but our descendants will be here, a dramatic decline in world population will occur. Or begin to occur. The Chinese know this, which is one reason they’ve eased off their draconian one-child-per-family law. What can the developed world expect? No one knows. The only template we have is from a very different time: the Middle Ages, when the globe lost possibly a third of its population. No one knows for sure.
- The fact that our country is divided into strange federations and what that portends for the future (see the map at the top);
- Within those federations, the City vs. the Country Divide (as also in ancient Rome). How will our leaders address the tensions and the flow of supplies from one, each to the other. For sure, those federations who establish a robust peace between city and country cousins will flourish;
- The fact that “globalization” ain’t gonna happen. It was a 20th century myth;
- the necessity to harden our skies against rogue EMPs and disruptive sun flares. The former would be catastrophic; sadly they are more probable than a solar flare. Given the level of hostility shown by both North Korea and Iran, the U.S. is a likely target, and the consequences would be dire. Fixing this problem is neither difficult nor expensive. Because of the puzzling inertia of NERC it will need to be a state-by-state initiative. As Maine has shown, it can be done.
Finally, I want to leave you with some thoughts regarding that map I linked at the beginning of this post. It was the premises of the essay which went with the map that decided me on discussing my concerns about our future, and later on, sharing some of our mutual traditions. The map itself is ingenious and, I think, accurate. His conclusions are predictably those of a collectivist, so there we part company. That doesn’t mean I don’t value his map; it just means I won’t be getting the book. Not even if it were free.
This author of this book, quoted at length in The Washington Post review, says:
The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history… Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.
Where I disagree with him is his tired old meme about the violent south. He conveniently overlooks the killing streets of the urban areas in the north to make his claim about Southern honor violence. And what does he think those many, many deaths in Chicago’s streets are about? Right. Honor.
His is the opinion of an outsider, a progressive collectivist who probably doesn’t own a gun. Just a guess…
The reviewer of the book says:
The clashes between the 11 nations play out in every way, from politics to social values. Woodard notes that states with the highest rates of violent deaths are in the Deep South, Tidewater and Greater Appalachia, regions that value independence and self-sufficiency. States with lower rates of violent deaths are in Yankeedom, New Netherland and the Midlands, where government intervention is viewed with less skepticism.
States in the Deep South are much more likely to have stand-your-ground laws than states in the northern “nations.” And more than 95 percent of executions in the United States since 1976 happened in the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater and the Far West. States in Yankeedom and New Netherland have executed a collective total of just one person.
I’ll bet any Southerner would point to the thousands of ugly deaths in Dr. Gosnell’s “clinic” in Philadelphia as a counter to his tired contention. Oh wait. The death of viable babies in abortion clinics don’t count as murders in Yankeedom…
Goes to show it all depends on what the definition of “is” is. Ask the Clintons.
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