Skip to comments.The Origins of Political Correctness
Posted on 05/22/2009 10:06:31 AM PDT by stfassisi
Where does all this stuff that youve heard about this morning the victim feminism, the gay rights movement, the invented statistics, the rewritten history, the lies, the demands, all the rest of it where does it come from? For the first time in our history, Americans have to be fearful of what they say, of what they write, and of what they think. They have to be afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic.
We have seen other countries, particularly in this century, where this has been the case. And we have always regarded them with a mixture of pity, and to be truthful, some amusement, because it has struck us as so strange that people would allow a situation to develop where they would be afraid of what words they used. But we now have this situation in this country. We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Were does it come from? What is it?
We call it "Political Correctness." The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, its deadly serious. It is the great disease of our century, the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.
If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.
First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted "victims" groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble. Within the small legal system of the college, they face formal charges some star-chamber proceeding and punishment. That is a little look into the future that Political Correctness intends for the nation as a whole.
Indeed, all ideologies are totalitarian because the essence of an ideology (I would note that conservatism correctly understood is not an ideology) is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women. Since reality contradicts that, reality must be forbidden. It must become forbidden to acknowledge the reality of our history. People must be forced to live a lie, and since people are naturally reluctant to live a lie, they naturally use their ears and eyes to look out and say, "Wait a minute. This isnt true. I can see it isnt true," the power of the state must be put behind the demand to live a lie. That is why ideology invariably creates a totalitarian state.
Second, the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing.
Third, just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be "victims," and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.
Fourth, both economic and cultural Marxism rely on expropriation. When the classical Marxists, the communists, took over a country like Russia, they expropriated the bourgeoisie, they took away their property. Similarly, when the cultural Marxists take over a university campus, they expropriate through things like quotas for admissions. When a white student with superior qualifications is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isnt as well qualified, the white student is expropriated. And indeed, affirmative action, in our whole society today, is a system of expropriation. White owned companies dont get a contract because the contract is reserved for a company owned by, say, Hispanics or women. So expropriation is a principle tool for both forms of Marxism.
And finally, both have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, its Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, its deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired. So we find, for example, that all of Shakespeare is about the suppression of women, or the Bible is really about race and gender. All of these texts simply become grist for the mill, which proves that "all history is about which groups have power over which other groups." So the parallels are very evident between the classical Marxism that were familiar with in the old Soviet Union and the cultural Marxism that we see today as Political Correctness.
But the parallels are not accidents. The parallels did not come from nothing. The fact of the matter is that Political Correctness has a history, a history that is much longer than many people are aware of outside a small group of academics who have studied this. And the history goes back, as I said, to World War I, as do so many of the pathologies that are today bringing our society, and indeed our culture, down.
Marxist theory said that when the general European war came (as it did come in Europe in 1914), the working class throughout Europe would rise up and overthrow their governments the bourgeois governments because the workers had more in common with each other across the national boundaries than they had in common with the bourgeoisie and the ruling class in their own country. Well, 1914 came and it didnt happen. Throughout Europe, workers rallied to their flag and happily marched off to fight each other. The Kaiser shook hands with the leaders of the Marxist Social Democratic Party in Germany and said there are no parties now, there are only Germans. And this happened in every country in Europe. So something was wrong.
Marxists knew by definition it couldnt be the theory. In 1917, they finally got a Marxist coup in Russia and it looked like the theory was working, but it stalled again. It didnt spread and when attempts were made to spread immediately after the war, with the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, with the Bela Kun government in Hungary, with the Munich Soviet, the workers didnt support them.
So the Marxists had a problem. And two Marxist theorists went to work on it: Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary. Gramsci said the workers will never see their true class interests, as defined by Marxism, until they are freed from Western culture, and particularly from the Christian religion that they are blinded by culture and religion to their true class interests. Lukacs, who was considered the most brilliant Marxist theorist since Marx himself, said in 1919, "Who will save us from Western Civilization?" He also theorized that the great obstacle to the creation of a Marxist paradise was the culture: Western civilization itself.
Lukacs gets a chance to put his ideas into practice, because when the home grown Bolshevik Bela Kun government is established in Hungary in 1919, he becomes deputy commissar for culture, and the first thing he did was introduce sex education into the Hungarian schools. This ensured that the workers would not support the Bela Kun government, because the Hungarian people looked at this aghast, workers as well as everyone else. But he had already made the connection that today many of us are still surprised by, that we would consider the "latest thing."
In 1923 in Germany, a think-tank is established that takes on the role of translating Marxism from economic into cultural terms, that creates Political Correctness as we know it today, and essentially it has created the basis for it by the end of the 1930s. This comes about because the very wealthy young son of a millionaire German trader by the name of Felix Weil has become a Marxist and has lots of money to spend. He is disturbed by the divisions among the Marxists, so he sponsors something called the First Marxist Work Week, where he brings Lukacs and many of the key German thinkers together for a week, working on the differences of Marxism.
And he says, "What we need is a think-tank." Washington is full of think tanks and we think of them as very modern. In fact they go back quite a ways. He endows an institute, associated with Frankfurt University, established in 1923, that was originally supposed to be known as the Institute for Marxism. But the people behind it decided at the beginning that it was not to their advantage to be openly identified as Marxist. The last thing Political Correctness wants is for people to figure out its a form of Marxism. So instead they decide to name it the Institute for Social Research.
Weil is very clear about his goals. In 1971, he wrote to Martin Jay the author of a principle book on the Frankfurt School, as the Institute for Social Research soon becomes known informally, and he said, "I wanted the institute to become known, perhaps famous, due to its contributions to Marxism." Well, he was successful. The first director of the Institute, Carl Grunberg, an Austrian economist, concluded his opening address, according to Martin Jay, "by clearly stating his personal allegiance to Marxism as a scientific methodology." Marxism, he said, would be the ruling principle at the Institute, and that never changed.
The initial work at the Institute was rather conventional, but in 1930 it acquired a new director named Max Horkheimer, and Horkheimers views were very different. He was very much a Marxist renegade. The people who create and form the Frankfurt School are renegade Marxists. Theyre still very much Marxist in their thinking, but theyre effectively run out of the party. Moscow looks at what they are doing and says, "Hey, this isnt us, and were not going to bless this."
Horkheimers initial heresy is that he is very interested in Freud, and the key to making the translation of Marxism from economic into cultural terms is essentially that he combined it with Freudism. Again, Martin Jay writes, "If it can be said that in the early years of its history, the Institute concerned itself primarily with an analysis of bourgeois societys socio-economic sub-structure," and I point out that Jay is very sympathetic to the Frankfurt School, Im not reading from a critic here "in the years after 1930 its primary interests lay in its cultural superstructure. Indeed the traditional Marxist formula regarding the relationship between the two was brought into question by Critical Theory."
The stuff weve been hearing about this morning the radical feminism, the womens studies departments, the gay studies departments, the black studies departments all these things are branches of Critical Theory. What the Frankfurt School essentially does is draw on both Marx and Freud in the 1930s to create this theory called Critical Theory. The term is ingenious because youre tempted to ask, "What is the theory?" The theory is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it cant be done, that we cant imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as were living under repression the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression we cant even imagine it. What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down. And, of course, when we hear from the feminists that the whole of society is just out to get women and so on, that kind of criticism is a derivative of Critical Theory. It is all coming from the 1930s, not the 1960s.
Other key members who join up around this time are Theodore Adorno, and, most importantly, Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. Fromm and Marcuse introduce an element which is central to Political Correctness, and thats the sexual element. And particularly Marcuse, who in his own writings calls for a society of "polymorphous perversity," that is his definition of the future of the world that they want to create. Marcuse in particular by the 1930s is writing some very extreme stuff on the need for sexual liberation, but this runs through the whole Institute. So do most of the themes we see in Political Correctness, again in the early 30s. In Fromms view, masculinity and femininity were not reflections of essential sexual differences, as the Romantics had thought. They were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined." Sex is a construct; sexual differences are a construct.
Another example is the emphasis we now see on environmentalism. "Materialism as far back as Hobbes had led to a manipulative dominating attitude toward nature." That was Horkhemier writing in 1933 in Materialismus und Moral. "The theme of mans domination of nature," according to Jay, " was to become a central concern of the Frankfurt School in subsequent years." "Horkheimers antagonism to the fetishization of labor, (heres were theyre obviously departing from Marxist orthodoxy) expressed another dimension of his materialism, the demand for human, sensual happiness." In one of his most trenchant essays, Egoism and the Movement for Emancipation, written in 1936, Horkeimer "discussed the hostility to personal gratification inherent in bourgeois culture." And he specifically referred to the Marquis de Sade, favorably, for his "protest against asceticism in the name of a higher morality."
How does all of this stuff flood in here? How does it flood into our universities, and indeed into our lives today? The members of the Frankfurt School are Marxist, they are also, to a man, Jewish. In 1933 the Nazis came to power in Germany, and not surprisingly they shut down the Institute for Social Research. And its members fled. They fled to New York City, and the Institute was reestablished there in 1933 with help from Columbia University. And the members of the Institute, gradually through the 1930s, though many of them remained writing in German, shift their focus from Critical Theory about German society, destructive criticism about every aspect of that society, to Critical Theory directed toward American society. There is another very important transition when the war comes. Some of them go to work for the government, including Herbert Marcuse, who became a key figure in the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA), and some, including Horkheimer and Adorno, move to Hollywood.
These origins of Political Correctness would probably not mean too much to us today except for two subsequent events. The first was the student rebellion in the mid-1960s, which was driven largely by resistance to the draft and the Vietnam War. But the student rebels needed theory of some sort. They couldnt just get out there and say, "Hell no we wont go," they had to have some theoretical explanation behind it. Very few of them were interested in wading through Das Kapital. Classical, economic Marxism is not light, and most of the radicals of the 60s were not deep. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for our country today, and not just in the university, Herbert Marcuse remained in America when the Frankfurt School relocated back to Frankfurt after the war. And whereas Mr. Adorno in Germany is appalled by the student rebellion when it breaks out there when the student rebels come into Adornos classroom, he calls the police and has them arrested Herbert Marcuse, who remained here, saw the 60s student rebellion as the great chance. He saw the opportunity to take the work of the Frankfurt School and make it the theory of the New Left in the United States.
One of Marcuses books was the key book. It virtually became the bible of the SDS and the student rebels of the 60s. That book was Eros and Civilization. Marcuse argues that under a capitalistic order (he downplays the Marxism very strongly here, it is subtitled, A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud, but the framework is Marxist), repression is the essence of that order and that gives us the person Freud describes the person with all the hang-ups, the neuroses, because his sexual instincts are repressed. We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of "polymorphous perversity," in which you can "do you own thing." And by the way, in that world there will no longer be work, only play. What a wonderful message for the radicals of the mid-60s! Theyre students, theyre baby-boomers, and theyve grown up never having to worry about anything except eventually having to get a job. And here is a guy writing in a way they can easily follow. He doesnt require them to read a lot of heavy Marxism and tells them everything they want to hear which is essentially, "Do your own thing," "If it feels good do it," and "You never have to go to work." By the way, Marcuse is also the man who creates the phrase, "Make love, not war." Coming back to the situation people face on campus, Marcuse defines "liberating tolerance" as intolerance for anything coming from the Right and tolerance for anything coming from the Left. Marcuse joined the Frankfurt School, in 1932 (if I remember right). So, all of this goes back to the 1930s.
In conclusion, America today is in the throws of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In "hate crimes" we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it. The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. Its exactly what we have seen happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now its coming here. And we dont recognize it because we call it Political Correctness and laugh it off. My message today is that its not funny, its here, its growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture.
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Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment
You can move any person into any institution and they all seem to fit.
This should be required reading for every conservative.
This is good stuff and correctly identifies the tumor from which our current liberalist cancer metastasized. Gramsci’s lies and the Frankfurters need to be eradicated and their disciples purged from our power structure.
"We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of "polymorphous perversity," in which you can "do you own thing."
And then move the Laurel and Hardy show from Columbia to Notre Dame and the cultural rollover has center stage in the heart of Middle America.
Yes, I saw a lot of this first-hand, and I’m familiar with the various forms of postmodernist “theory.”
This is, unfortunately, correct.
What, you might ask, were these guys doing in the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA? Well, just keep in mind that FDR was running the show back then, with his Communist sympathies and friends, and Hitler was invariably defined as a “rightest” or a “conservative,” although that was clearly untrue. When I was a child I believed it myself, and only came to understand what “National Socialism” meant much later.
Either they were too stupid and hired native German-speakers indiscriminately or the ideological distance between the fellow travelers in FDR’s administration and the Frankfurtians was not that far. Now it’s almost impossible to pass through a university without coming into contact with Frankfurt Critical theory and Cultural Marxists. And the current president is a product of Columbia University, Alinksy theory, and George Soros.
By the way, Critical Theory also masquerades under names like Deconstructionism, Revisionism, and Post-Modernism. Whenever you see inane rejection of a perfectly valid status quo, look for a marxist behind it. The marxist’s response to “If it works, don’t fix it” is “Nothing works.”
If I could say a word . . . This piece (and so many like them) floats on a sort of Star Wars fascination with the powers of the Dark Side.
Or maybe this is better way of saying it: why always this fascination for the prostitute, the skilled scrutiny that yields the finest prose when wishing her dead, and not much at all to say about the wife.
One of these days writers will realize that what’s Gramscian is talk about them, even if it comes in the form criticism.
Conservatives give the enemy press.
It is important to know history of ideas. Especially since in this case much of it was deliberately concealed, for example, when “marxist” was deliberately purged from the vocabulary.
Does it become feeding ground for scary conspiracy theories? You bet.
It’s important, but the East Germans said the same thing.
Said the same thing about what?
"This piece (and so many like them) floats on a sort of Star Wars fascination with the powers of the Dark Side."
Maybe more like a Dr. Evil and Mini Me fascination to be technical about it. While it is possible to exaggerate the influence of Cultural Marxism in either πάθος or Entgegenständlichung, probably not by very much. It has an affinity with the Fabian Socialism and Deweyite trends which were already present in American mass education. Most liberals in the media would be too stupid to be able to tell the difference. They think of it just as progressive. The marketing and repackaging of it as "postmodern" was interesting. It might be worth debating the presentation of Freudianism and Frankfurt School social theory by Deweyite methods in the American system since not much philosophy is taught in the classical sense.
It is important to know history of ideas.
Another example. Right now, medieval studies is overrun with scholars learning about the history of deviant sexuality, stressing that it is important to know the history of ideas.
I have said it for years: Political Correctness WILL destory this nation.
I defer to Mr. Lincoln:
“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction were our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
We will die by suicide. The bullet will be PC.
What gives freedom? Destruction of an enemy? Hmm. After binding or converting the prostitute, learn to know and adore the wife.
It was a joke for God's sake.
That’s what my kid says. “It was a joke.”
Look, your joke spawns the talking points. It’s Gramscian. Wake up.
Have you been in a university recently where they push this on students?
Some like to blame the boomers and the sixties for all the ills that wormed their way into US society since that time. But this article correctly points out that the Marxist/communist/socialist, or whatever sickness had its origins between the world wars, and that the 'leaders' during the sixties, years older that the boomers, were already in place and ready to take advantage of the opportunities presented by those turbulent years.
And the protesters and hippies were never the brave young moralists they've claimed to be, but were a gang of self-absorbed, spoiled and petty kids whose behavior in those years led to all sorts of disasters both in the US and for the people of Southeast Asia. They were the willing tools and dupes of those leftist extremists who'd been waiting for the right opportunity to cause harm to the US, and to advance their leftist causes.
I know, I know, when Donna Shala was born.
“ that they are blinded by culture and religion to their true class interests. “
That’s exactly what Russ Feingold believes!
We’re sooooo lucky. /s
He was born in Ethiopia of Italian parents who stayed after the war. At the time he was the only one I knew of in our agency who was born in Africa. Unfortunately he was argued down by those who had darker skin. He claimed Afro, then African American til he retired and the rest of us supported him.
My next early PC experience was in sexual harassment "training."
P.C. reminds me a lot of Maos little red book’’ we used to hear about in the 60’s. Will we ever learn.
I think cornelis’ point is that, even in so vocally condemning Gramsci et al, we are giving them visibility, which works in their favor. We need to have these conversations to be sure, but perhaps more circumspectly. And we need to battle these pernicious ideas without naming them or (paradoxically) promoting them.
I see. Well, knowing history of ideas is important, and therefore will be used as justification for things that are not particularly important in themselves.
The link between stodgy buttoned-up marxism of the Stalin-Brezhnev eras, and neopagan hypersexualized multi-cult of today’s left, for example, is not obvious. I liked especially the first part of the article which explained the structural similarity of the two.
In fact, I would throw another consideration into that pot. The left would often point out that they are not marxist because they like pluralistic democracy. But what they do not say, is that the underlying principle is the same: majority rule. In the Soviet Union they never said that cultural pluralism was bad, and as regards political pluralism they would say that the USSR did not need competitive elections because the Communist party already reflected the will of the majority.
His writings on things like socialism and americanism apply to what we see today
From Pope Leo XIII on Socialism...
QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS
“This kind of error, which falsely usurps to itself the name of reason, as it lures and whets the natural appetite that is in man of excelling, and gives loose rein to unlawful desires of every kind, has easily penetrated not only the minds of a great multitude of men but to a wide extent civil society, also. Hence, by a new species of impiety, unheard of even among the heathen nations, states have been constituted without any count at all of God or of the order established by him; it has been given out that public authority neither derives its principles, nor its majesty, nor its power of governing from God, but rather from the multitude, which, thinking itself absolved from all divine sanction, bows only to such laws as it shall have made at its own will. The supernatural truths of faith having been assailed and cast out as though hostile to reason, the very Author and Redeemer of the human race has been slowly and little by little banished from the universities, the lyceums and gymnasia-in a word, from every public institution. In fine, the rewards and punishments of a future and eternal life having been handed over to oblivion, the ardent desire of happiness has been limited to the bounds of the present. Such doctrines as these having been scattered far and wide, so great a license of thought and action having sprung up on all sides, it is no matter for surprise that men of the lowest class, weary of their wretched home or workshop, are eager to attack the homes and fortunes of the rich; it is no matter for surprise that already there exists no sense of security either in public or private life, and that the human race should have advanced to the very verge of final dissolution.”
From Pope Leo on Americanism....
TESTEM BENEVOLENTIAE NOSTRAE
“”From the foregoing it is manifest, beloved son, that we are not able to give approval to those views which, in their collective sense, are called by some “Americanism.” But if by this name are to be understood certain endowments of mind which belong to the American people, just as other characteristics belong to various other nations, and if, moreover, by it is designated your political condition and the laws and customs by which you are governed, there is no reason to take exception to the name. But if this is to be so understood that the doctrines which have been adverted to above are not only indicated, but exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being most injurious to themselves and to their country. For it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the Church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world.””
The idea that men could self-organize into a just society either through democratic means (liberalism) or by favoring the most numerous social class (marxism), is a foolish project either way.
Pluralism means not caring about sin as long as it does not effect you.
The whole idea leads to abundant sin that does effect the world they live in.
Dr John Rao is one of my favorites on this topic.
Here is an excerpt of something from him..
Americans like to speak of their nation as a “young” one, and contrast it favorably with the decadent countries of the Old World. But the American nation is as much a product as a European land of all of the ancient battles and modern naturalist developments that we have been discussing since the beginning of this week. America's Founding Fathers worked in an environment deeply affected by the loss of Christian Faith and its transformation into a secularist tool. The system that they created also very much reflects the concerns of the final, Enlightenment stage of modern naturalism: including all of its doubts regarding both speculative and empirical Reason, and, hence, all of its temptations to rebuild order on foundations that one “makes believe” are objectively true.
The Founding Fathers and their successors built their “make believe” objective order first and foremost upon America's British heritage. This was quite a schizophrenic legacy by the late eighteenth century. It certainly included Christianity, chiefly in the form of Anglicanism and Puritan Protestantism. But it also involved the Enlightenment, primarily in the manner that former Anglicans and Puritans who had lost their Faith presented it. These converts to the naturalist camp often used the Christian-inspired language with which they were familiar to promote their new, anti-Christian goals. Whether they intended this or not, such speech soothed those who remained believers and blinded them as to where, exactly, their familiar-sounding doctrines might actually lead in the future.
Even the Founders were aware that there was a troublesome reality that their novus ordo saeclorum was obliged immediately to confront. This was the presence in the United States of a kaleidoscope of different ethnic groups and religious convictions. That presence grew still more complex and troublesome with the mass migrations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The fullness of the make believe order of the American Pluralist system emerged out of attempts to harmonize the reality of a multicultural society with the basic conservatism of the Anglican via media, the radicalism of Puritanism, and the naturalism of an Enlightenment of both Anglican and Puritan flavor. Its theory and “mystique” were firmly in place by the late 1890’s. What they claimed was that America had discovered the formula for providing a peaceful, ordered community out of a society guaranteeing freedom to all of God (or Nature's) divided children. America thus offered mankind throughout the globe its “last and best hope” for a liberty, tranquility, and happiness greater than any ever known in human history.
Unfortunately, “diving into” the Americanist Pluralist mystique helps merely to bring to fruition another version of vulgar, materialist, and uniform disorder, whipped into some semblance of make believe unity through the will of the strongest. It aids in the perfection of that type of bland, organized willfulness predicted by nineteenth century Catholic thinkers, but in a more successful and seductive way than they could ever have imagined. Those who are interested in a deeper, more detailed discussion of Americanist Pluralism and its (temporarily) successful employment of Original Sin as the central building block of individual and social life should consult my Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States, Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves, Founding Fathers and Church Fathers, To Promote Dialogue, Fight American Pluralism, and many other articles, all to be found on the For the Whole Christ website (jcrao.freeshell.org). All I propose to do in the present brief talk is to outline the main lines of the perversion and the confusion that this system perpetrates.
Let it suffice to say for now that the “freedom” and the “order” that one obtains through it are a purely naturalist freedom and order based upon the peculiar and often contradictory Christian and Enlightenment factors forming American culture. Its naturalism is bewildering to the believer because, as noted above, so many Americans used-—and still use-—Christian language to describe, praise and promote a set of anti-Christian purposes. It is baffling also because it has to cater to both radical and conservative naturalist tastes at one and the same time.
Hence, the American is told that he has the radical freedom that a secularized Puritans might wish him to have, a freedom that “sounds Christian” because it can easily be related to its fundamental Protestant roots. But in order to practice this freedom in a way that does not disturb the order preferred by Enlightenment conservatives, he learns that liberty actually has to be utilized in a way that avoids “divisiveness”; in a fashion that “integrates” its practitioner into an order composed of endless varieties of “non-divisive, integrating individualists”.
Americans learn that the “freedom” of communities, such as the Catholic Church, is subject to the influence of Puritan and secularized Puritan ideas regarding liberty. Freedom, under these circumstances, means only the freedom given for individual members of a religious society to rip their communal authority to shreds. All attempts to hold onto communal authority could be nothing other than assaults on freedom detested by the anti-institutional God of Protestantism and the anti-institutional Nature of the liberty-loving Enlightenment. Freedom for religious communities-—for all communities, as far as more radical thinkers are concerned-—amounts to nothing other than the freedom to be impotent and to self-destruct. James Madison, the chief author of the American Constitution, quite openly rejoices in this truth, arguing for the need to “multiply factions” within existing, strong communities so as to paralyze their ability to mobilize their followers and actually shape the American political and social order.
Individuals and communities are ultimately given a two-fold teaching regarding the relationship of freedom and order. On the one hand, they are pressed to divide serious free thought from serious free action. On the other, they are encouraged to build whatever unity can exist upon a positive materialist use of their freedom. In the final analysis, the freedom granted to men and communities under the Americanist Pluralist “mystique” is merely the freedom to be materialists in a myriad of fashions. To take but one example, freedom for a Chinese must never be understood as allowing him to harmonize the American system with Confucianist principles. It does mean, however, that he can open as many restaurants as he might see fit, thereby contributing to the rich diversity of American life.
But this cheap form of freedom offers no more substantial block to sinful misuse than reliance on “common sense” prevents adherence to unnatural errors. It has within it an innate tendency to degenerate, and, with that degeneration, to ensure construction of an “order” based upon the dictates of the strongest practitioners of materialist freedom; libertines and criminals. Such criminals maintain their alliance with the Americanist Pluralist ideologue and the Word Merchant in order to justify and ennoble their oppression of the weak. All, together, guarantee that the system gradually “spirals downward”, ending in that boring, corrupted sameness identified by Louis Veuillot as a chief characteristic of the “Empire of the World”.
None of these essential problems of the American Pluralist mystique can even begin to be discussed. That mystique prohibits all criticism of its theory and its practice. If, for example, a person wishes to employ all of the various tools western man has developed over the course of the ages for discussing the validity of its definition of the meaning of individual and social life, all of these tools, one by one, including theology, philosophy, history, psychology and sociology, will be dismissed as both impractical and intrinsically dangerous. A desire to use them will be said to illustrate nothing other than a lack of “obvious common sense” on the part of the foolish, impractical, “loser” critic. Do such tools help one to make money or keep the peace? On the contrary, all they do is bring up disruptive fantasies encouraging divisiveness and disturbing profits.
If, on the other hand, one seeks to demonstrate the long-term practical dangers of the Americanist Pluralist mystique, and especially its degeneration into a reign of “might makes right” disguised as the victory of freedom, its totally unquestionable “godliness” will be called up to smother the dialogue. The critic will be accused of lacking Faith in its divine nature and mandate...as revealed, let us remember, through the all too arbitrary Will of the Founding Fathers. Here he is condemned for his cynical rejection of the “last and best hope” for individual freedom and social peace, and his consequent lack of charity for suffering humanity.
Should the critic then return to theory, and identify the Americanist Pluralist Faith as a voluntarist, irrational fideism masquerading a purely materialist conception of life, he will be brutally brought back down to the practical level once again. Now, with complete disregard for the change in tactic, he will be assaulted for his childish naiveté; his hopeless idealism in the midst of a jungle universe guided by the War of All Against All. Surely only a “loser” envious of the success of his betters would think that life was susceptible to guidance by his utopian spiritual babble!
But what if our critic persists in his position and emphasizes the fact that he has been the subject of an irrational attack, accused simultaneously of being both a faithless cynic and impractically (but enviously) naïve? Why, then, he will become the kind of “public nuisance” promoting unpleasant, logical consequences of first principles that David Hume deplored and Ralph Waldo Emerson considered to be the infallible sign of a “petty mind”. The Word Merchants will be called onto center stage to find as many “appropriate words” as possible to brutalize this Enemy of the People. Truth will not matter in their campaign against him. He will be dismissed as an obvious lunatic. Moreover, since Americanist Pluralism fought the good fight against the Fascists, he will also be denounced as a Nazi; an anti-Semite; a defender of genocide. Terrorism being the system's current manifestation of evil, the critic will also be painted as a probable Al Quaeda, “Islamo-Fascist” supporter. Why this deranged, extremist Loser is the kind of man who most likely wishes that Estonia were still within the Soviet Bloc as well!
Few have the stamina to reach this final stage of unsuccessful dialogue. The schizophrenia brought on by Americanist Pluralist refusal to allow serious thought to be transmitted into action will have deconstructed most potential critics’ spirit from the very outset. Others will have been daunted by the number of tools that have to be marshaled to uncover the system's fraud and its bewildering modus operandi. Should a hardy few possess the will to fight the good fight still longer, they, too, shall eventually be forced to abandon the struggle due to the materialist environment created by the system in question. That environment demands work and ever more work in order merely to survive. Even the strongest opponent, over time, will be simply too exhausted to indulge the luxury of criticizing the system in the few hours of repose left to him by it each day. Hence, mankind's “last, best hope” retains its undeserved image, its victims never learn of its poisons, and it can continue to wreak its all too predictable havoc again and again and again, in country after hapless country.
Equivocal use of Christian language on behalf of a happy vision of order and freedom, accompanied by the appeal of potential success in the New World seduced many Roman Catholic immigrants into the camp of Americanist Pluralism in the years between 1890 and the present. Accepting its precepts seemed to be a “no lose” proposition. The appearance of openness, prosperity, and tranquility similarly entranced the exhausted and demoralized Europeans of the 1940’s, with those resisting the Americanist Pluralist embrace easily anathematized as unregenerate Fascist remnants.
Good resource. We should post more from this man.
That’s exactly what happens, IronJack. Thanks.
I have in the past and sadly free republic has pulled some of the threads.
Dr Rao is the director of the Roman Forum and the Dietrich Von Hildebrand Institute.
This also seems to ruffle the feathers of Acton Institute members who think america is the best and only place for the church to thrive for some ridiculous reason as if the church had to wait for america in order to have a forum to bring the faith to the world. That whole idea spits in the face of the Martyrs and the Saints through the ages
And yet, conservatism without God becomes just that: another ideology. And therefore, merely another version of liberalism.
To take but one example, freedom for a Chinese must never be understood as allowing him to harmonize the American system with Confucianist principles.
Well, duh. The American system is for all Americans, and thus may not be "harmonized with" any one faction (i.e. made to serve as a source of special benefit to that faction and an oppressive power against all others).
ah ... memory does serve me right when I recall a pseudo biographer in his early days reminiscing of how he so much enjoyed his days at Columbia chatting up the deconstructed feminists and 3rd worlders while seeing the rich people’s dogs come to walk and not scoop their poop in his MorningSide Heights neighborhood. Sure does bring back memories doesn’t it? Those were the days/s
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