I have this ten year old boy in my life now. He lived the first eight years of his life halfway around the world from me. I initially guessed that that meant he would be different than typical me-first, screen-addicted American kids. I was wrong. The reach of western television, movies—who am I kidding?—the reach of YouTube, Facebook, Roblox, Fortnite (not to mention the requisite child neglect for these things to have any lasting influence) on planet Earth is near complete, I am unhappy to report.
When I grew up I loved television and movies. I wouldn’t be me without Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Rocky Balboa, and, of course, Maverick. But somehow, I knew the boundaries, however breakable, of these forms of entertainment. I knew I could never be MJ, and I knew that I had a decent shot of being Maverick.
My ten year old stepson—though deprived of essentially all screen-time for almost a year—still unflinchingly retorts, “I want to play Roblox,” in answer to my, “But what do you want to do?” character development-intending inquiries.
Despite his having no television time (or box, even), I often find that old habits die hard and am motivated at dinner to pull up a clip or song on my phone to help him assimilate—or just because I want to hear it. In a more and more infrequent, but always endearing, display of innocence (and unthinking) the boy confessed after such a video last night (food court flash mob of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus ), “Sometimes I feel like I’m in the video.” Before I had recovered from the brutality of the unexpected admission, he added, “And it’s very hard to remember that I’m not.”
I can’t be more clear than to plainly declare that it is my fervent goal to use the rest of my time with the boy to show him that real life is better than the make-believe world on the screen.
Why? Why is this my goal?
Is it because real life is, point of fact, better than the make-believe world on the screen? No, I don’t think I could say that that is what drives me. Make believe world, the fantasy, is obviously better than real life. Obviously. Definitionally, the fantasy is better.
So why do I hope to show him that real life is better, especially considering that I just said that I believe the fantasy is better?
That’s the interesting question. To help answer it, and to make a bigger point to my conservative and frustrated readers, we need to change gears.
My guided reading through the Great Books of the Western World has landed me in Marx’s Communist Manifesto. I have lots to comment. (For example, though not the point of today’s post, I do have to say here that I had always suspected, but never could confirm until just today, that the proletariat were virgins. Good to know.)
My response to this Manifesto is forever and intimately tied to my quest regarding my step-son. And I believe my response should be every conservative’s response, too. But I never hear them admit the real problem. So it would be foolish to see them respond the same as I do.
To be clear, I am saying here that every republican (not the members of the similarly named political party in our beloved America, but those of us who see no merit to democracy as a form of government), every republican, every anti-communist, every anti-Marxist—but here I repeat myself—to date has misunderstood the problem Marx gave to the world. Their answer to Marx is always the same. Even the great republicans, like Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas, have missed the mark when they think “evidence” will help our cause.
“Evidence” is the cause of Communism—not its defeat. This is similar to how “evidence” is the cause of Fantasy. If life really was all that it’s cracked up to be, we’d have no reason to “escape” through entertainments and diversions—through fantasy. Savvy?
To repeat, “evidence” is the cause of Communism—not its defeat. This is similar to how “evidence” is the cause of Fantasy. If life really was all that it’s cracked up to be, we’d have no reason to “escape” through entertainments and diversions.
And this drops us back to my quest with my stepson, and its seeming paradox. If I believe fantasy is better than real life, then how can I want him to see that real life is better than fantasy?
Couched in political language, if I believe that communism is better than this mess of a political system we’ve inherited, then how can I want you to rebuke it in favor of this mess?
Back to my stepson.
What, dear reader, do I want? What, precisely, do I want for my stepson?
I can’t see this answer for you. You may never see the answer. But I do believe that if you can see what I want, and what drives me, then you can help rebuke the Marxists.
Again, I can’t see this answer for you. You may never see the answer.
This post may now feel like a waste of your time.
But this inability is the definition of the problem anti-Marxists face. I hope I didn’t patronize you along the way.
Lord! Oh, Lord!
Help me to remember that four hundred thousand people died from COVID. As it stands, I’m only reminded of the four hundred thousand COVID deaths every six hours. I’m begging you to remind me more frequently.
Specifically, I want to have alerts about the four hundred thousand COVID deaths sent to my phone every three minutes. And as the minutes go on, naturally, I don’t want you to unthinkingly keep the number at four hundred thousand, but increase the total in real-time.
Lord, I’m on my hands and knees for this request to show you that I understand that in antiquity, maybe as early as the Iron Age even, people thought this posture increased their chances at being heard.
Okay, Lord. Biden is talking again. Got to go. Love you. Bye.
Maybe it’s just that I enrolled in some logic courses in college, but, to begin, I want to say that I am more and more surprised how many particular expressions of logical fallacies are put in play in formal American political debate. Then again, logic is just one part of rhetoric.
However, the main reason for this post is to say the following. There are at least two separate ideas in play at the moment. The first is whether President Trump used some sort of indirect, latent, or *wink wink* vocabulary and phraseology known by supporters and which somehow commanded them to “storm the capitol.” This post is not about this idea, however interesting it may be.
The second idea in play during today’s debate is that the United States of America can be irreversibly conquered in a time period of less than seven days, whether the next seven or some other grouping. This is what I want to write about.
The USA cannot be conquered, irreversibly or not, in seven days. If you disagree with me, then this doesn’t mean that the USA can be conquered in seven days. Instead, it means that you do not believe in the concept of National Sovereignty. By this time window talk I mean to quantify that you already don’t believe in America. This is fine! Just admit it.
There are other options than National Sovereignty. Believe as you please.
But I’m here to say that the USA is not going down in seven days—not if Trump wanted it to happen, not if you feared that it could happen. Give me a break. That’s as clear as I can be to explain why I don’t care about anything he or you say or do this next week.
Should the president be impeached? If I understand political process, it cannot be completed much earlier than seven days from now. So the question is not whether the president should be impeached. The question is whether the effort is merely symbolic. If not, then as my question’s time window decreases to six days, five days, four days, etc. as time goes on, my question’s clarity increases.
Finally, if it is symbolic, then what is the benefit of the symbolism?
Arnold: “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States.”
Me: It was Kristallnacht? More like Lunch Recess at the Elementary School. Hype.
She opens: “How do we deal with all that has happened?”
Me: This is hype. Nothing earth-shattering has happened.
She says: “This was an attack on democracy itself.”
Me: I can see that you mean to call attention to how the timing was about the certification ceremony, but everyone knows it’s ceremonial. So no, it wasn’t an attack on democracy itself. It was an attack on a superficial ceremony. In the end, I don’t change my life because criminals engage in criminal activity. More hype.
She, demonstrating her own certifiable-ness, says: “This was a sin against history.”
Me: Hype. Your readership doesn’t even believe in sin. That’s only for Mexican immigrants, African immigrants, and conservatives—in other words, those who are generally thought to be dreamers.
Her: “On the rioters: Find them, drag them out of their basements, and bring them to justice.”
Me: I think that’s a Freudian slip. “Drag them out of their basements?” The only president-elect whose been in his basement all year is Biden. Oops. I meant, the only person. Person.
Her: “Throw the book at them.”
Me: You’re old.
Her: “Now to the devil and his apprentices.”
Me: The trouble with this implication is the sheer volume of voters who chose the devil. It’s not just a data point. Real people like the devil. The solution can’t disregard this fact. Your does, so your suggestion cannot be right.
Her: “As for the chief instigator, the president of the United States, he should be removed from office by the 25th Amendment or impeachment, whichever is faster. This, with only a week and a half to go, would be a most extraordinary action, but this has been an extraordinary time. Mike Pence is a normal American political figure; he will not have to mount a new government; he appears to be sane; he will in this brief, strange interlude do fine.”
Me: It’s not an extraordinary time. It’s Friday. Hype.
Her: “Removing him would go some distance to restoring our reputation, reinforcing our standards, and clarifying constitutional boundaries for future presidents who might need it.”
Me: The Left, who just won, and then won again, does not like our reputation, has double standards, and hates the constitution. His removal was enacted by people who don’t like our reputation, have double standards, and hate the constitution.
Her: “True conservatives tend to have a particular understanding of the fragility of things. They understand that every human institution is, in its way, built on sand. It’s all so frail. They see how thin the veil is between civilization and chaos, and understand that we have to go through every day, each in our way, trying to make the veil thicker.”
Me: My true-conservative fingers say, without hype, “Umm, okay. I see the difference and we’re definitely in the chaos. The rioters attacked a symbolic ceremony. Rebuking them with a symbolic 10 day early public flogging would only feed the delusion that our civilization’s adding flour. (Thickening agent.)
Her: “I have resisted Nazi comparisons for five years, for the most part easily. But that is like what is happening here, the same kind of spirit, as the president departs, as he angrily channel-surfs in his bunker.”
Me: You resisted for five years? And then when all that is broken is some glass, now you cave? History will never compare Trump to Hitler. In the beginning, it appeared—compared to traditional presidents—that Trump had some quirks that could start down the wrong path. But after five years any of us have seen enough to espouse informed pronouncements. Here’s mine. He was nothing—nothing—like Hitler. He was like Trump.
Closing thought: Peggy, dear, you’re wrong because of your premise. No one will be reading history in the future—no one of consequence at least. Your character, not Trump, took the hit with this one. You can’t cover your ass with one op-ed piece—not because the piece wasn’t clearly breaking ties, but because the piece was only written for a future audience who will never exist.
Now we wait to see who’s right. If they remove Trump, your finger is on the pulse. And I have a newfound respect for your influence. If they don’t, my finger is on the pulse. Good luck.
Let’s pretend for a moment that my claim, “It’s all hype,” is not your claim. Let’s now go further into this fiction and make it more fantastical too. Let’s have you be curious and bold and ask, “But, Pete, it seems pretty crazy out there. Why do you insist that it’s all hype?”
My answer, “Because of one key phrase that all the hucksters are using: recent memory.”
It’s bizarre actually. There’s some lingering spirit of truth in the profession, some agreed upon need to quantify the false claims, and yet they will not use a definite quantity.
“In all human history…” would be fine.
“Since 1963…” is perfect.
“As far back as I can remember…” is weak, but ultimately has a definite date.
“In my lifetime…” same.
No, sir. None of these are in play.
Because it’s all hype.
Gibbons—who one practicing (not professional—I stand corrected) historian friend of mine has labeled the “ubermensch from the era of the enlightenment through the industrial revolution”—in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote, “History, which undertakes to record the transactions of the past, for the instruction of future ages…”
The infamous battle which essentially was the first of the Revolutionary War was A. A battle, B. A losing battle, and C. A fight between two opponents.
Take a moment and imagine the Battle of Bunker Hill. Read up on it if it’s been a while. (I only did recently because it is a scene in GA Henty’s, “True to the Old Flag” adventure novel that I just was lent.)
Is war coming? How can that question ever not be answered in the affirmative? Of course war is coming. Unless we’re in war. Then peace is on the way. But after peace, war is coming. (And now you know I’ve read and understand Tolstoy.)
Are the criminals who are rioting today manifesting the Bunker Hill equivalent? Nope.
Next question: are you humble enough to be instructed by history, that is, to admit the difference between the events? I hope so.
Moreover, if you pro-trumpers really want the war, you too can be instructed by history. Merely to evidence that I’m no hopey-dopey-changey-mangy democrat (and not because I want the war—I got bills, remember!), here’s what I see as easy course corrections, based entirely on a long-since passed over boys adventure novel. A. Setup at night. B. Take high-ish ground at night. C. Build battlements at night. D. Have character. E. Have been concretely grieved by the colonizing government.
I don’t normally advocate reading “history” books. But since my best friend has told me to avoid writing about the field because I’m out of my element (though daily proving that a few used books are more than enough to encourage me to have a wild opinion—no PhD program necessary), I thought I’d step into the fray.
Can reading history save us from war? Nope.
But I believe the ability to imagine historical events will help us win the coming war.
Today, then, imagine the Battle of Bunker Hill.
I’m stupid. You’re stupid.
Don’t believe the hype or feed the hype. The election means nothing.
I love reading. I love opinions. I couldn’t stop perusing the pundits even if I wanted to. But I am certain that the conservatives are only embarrassing themselves. If I read the word tyranny one more time, or dictator, I think I’m going to throw up. The problem we, the conservatives, face is not hard to understand.
The problem—THE PROBLEM—is that smack dab in between me and my political wishes sits the fact that I don’t want to fight a war. Nobody, no one, has yet been able to provoke me to war. I (one flag waving, freedom loving, song singing American conservative) think war in America is likely. I definitely know it’s possible. But I don’t want to do it. I wanted to do it when I was young, and I did do it. So I can speak truthfully and announce the fairly obvious, though often unsaid, observation with certitude that I don’t fight in a war now because I don’t want to. Nevertheless, I believe that war is the only political voice that the left will hear. My private inclination changes nothing.
One reason that I don’t want war is that I’m not yet able to imagine what war will look like. Will the stores still be open? And what will determine which kinds? Restaurants? What about gas stations? Why will the power company employees still show up to work but not the waitstaff? How soon will I regret the decision? These and more nag at me.
But I feel closer to the picture now than I ever have been in the past. (And I’ve even seen first world vs. Old Testament world combat.) It’s like I can begin to make out some early broad strokes. There are blurry scenes in which masked mobs will firebomb residences of their enemies, in the middle of the night. Are those lights iPhone screens? Hard to imagine people holding a camera and weapon, but maybe. It’s like I know I’m in an art gallery, but I can’t see any paintings yet. So I keep walking.
Anyhow, I’m not there yet. This is no call for war. But this is a call for them to stop. I’m talking about the conservative press, the replacement media, heck, even some articles on the Babylon Bee. Stop pretending that there is an argument to be won. Stop. It’s been two uninteresting decades of reading your veiled, dire, and dark words, forecasting a veiled, dire, and dark— but avoidable—future, written as if you really believe that your words just might save us, as if you really believe that there is a peaceful restoration of rule of law and, as importantly, use of reason.
The reason I know I’m right is, as you know, after all these years I finally read John Locke. I’m telling you that man didn’t just make sense, he didn’t just use reason, he incited war.
What have you all incited? An echo chamber? Getting 70 million people to warn each other of the dangers of tyranny in the 21st century is not exactly a formidable accomplishment. The reason I write is not to be repeated, but because no one else is telling you the truth. You’re words are not powerful. They’re not. So stop. Or do better.
How to stop? Admit when your words are empty.
Action. That’s the only path towards the goal. Admit it. Who’s gonna do it? Which one of you is going to infuse their words with power? Who’s going to incite the war? Limbaugh? Prager? Shapiro? Fast rising Candace? Na. I don’t see any guts. Plenty of ambition, brainpower, recall, and in touch lexical choices, but no guts. Address the problem.
If you’re not doing that, then you’re wasting your time. Worse—you’re lying. Because the conservative aims are bought with blood. To suggest otherwise is simply lying. There’s no way around it.
If you’re not going to make me feel, if you’re not going to make me war, then stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.
I’ve moved on to, Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver, by Jonathan Swift (known more popularly as, “Gulliver’s Travels”), but before I forget, I wanted to record my concluding thought on the infamous Locke.
It is well known that white people (nothing to do with skin color) generally—and just past playfully—ridicule black preachers (nothing to do with skin color) for their energy. “No need to get so excited. Just say what you’ve got to say and let us go home,” we comment.
I was, accordingly, surprised to hear the following critique by my black mentor after we heard a particularly rousing sermon one day, at our black church. My mentor was a retired former Navy-man who had also worked in prisons. To temper my jubilant, childlike-wonder-filled praise, he replied, “I don’t like when preachers incite. And,” he continued, “now this may just be me, but it felt like he was inciting. I used to see this kind of thing in the prisons. It’s okay to be loud and full of passion—we are talking about the Lord, mind you—but sometimes some folk cross into inciting. Remember, Pete: not everyone that’s preaching is called.”
Returning to political philosophy, my concluding thought is this. I used to think the reason we weren’t assigned John Locke anymore was because he was irrelevant, being old and clearly having rued the day. But now, after reading his essay, in full, I see our predicament differently. The reason we don’t assign each other John Locke anymore is because he is dangerous. His writing and his ideas are so powerful that you will find yourself incited to make war upon our government. Promote an essay suggesting that, anytime government prevents its citizens from bettering their lives, war is the divinely approved method to change the situation? Heavens, no! We can’t have people reading this!
I, for my part, was driving down I-35, halfway to Cabelas’ guns and ammo department (already depleted), before I remembered that I have a family and that things in my climate controlled dwelling aren’t actually that bad—even without TV.
In short, before reading Locke—and subsequently fighting the war that makes America great again—read your Bible. Best to put first things first.