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.
As an officer in the United States Air Force I defended more than an idea. I defended more than a way of life. I defended more than a nation. I defended individual people. And I believe that my experience qualifies me as an expert on defense–at least of individual people. The following is one particular defense tip for daily use.
The national politicians are going to use whatever words they believe will help gain and retain their power. But you and I are not national politicians, so our game is different. Our goal is not obtaining power, it is encouraging people to think for themselves. Our goal is encouraging people to become individuals.
Last night, I heard what I’m beginning to hear more and more as the election nears.
“I agree that Russia and Venezuela are bad socialism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the good socialism–like Sweden and Norway.”
Now, on the national level, President Trump has declared, “America will never become Socialist,” while his opponents respond, “Yes, I am, in fact, socialist. It is the best way.”
(Again, you and I are not national politicians or pundits. Stay in reality.)
At this point, I could have (and shamefully began to, until I quickly retreated) discussed socialism with this individual. That never works. Never. Instead, I volunteered, “The government should not be able to take my money. It is my money. Not theirs.”
As any good socialist would respond, he said, “They’re not going to take your money. They’re going to take the rich people’s money.”
I must have gotten a look that said, “What if I become rich?” because the man, while not instantaneously converting to truth, seemed to realize the immorality of his suggestion (that someone besides me gets to have my money) and we paused the discussion.
To recap: Unsuccessful defenses of the individual include, “Have you read what socialism is?” “We are not Sweden.” “Socialism is always evil.” “There is no such thing as ‘good’ socialism.”
Successful defenses of the individual include, “The government should not be able to take my money.” And, “Gas tax and tolls (the answer to his additional clarifying query, “How do we pay for roads?”).”