The Tyranny of Idealism
Of all the Alinsky rules, the most relevant one is, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” But he simply codified and made pragmatic the most destructive of the left’s rules which is, “Make the enemy live up to his ideals.” Even if those ideals are often the invention of the left.
Ideals are by definition impossible to live up to. Human societies aren’t ideal, they’re real. Ideals are absolutes and an unfliching attempt to live up to them destroys individuals and societies. More subtly, the failure to live up to them justifies hatred and self-hatred toward nations and peoples.
People naturally want to think the best of their creeds and cultures, their societies and their states. This is both the best weapon and the best breeding ground of the left. There is nothing that creates leftists and draws them like the accusation that a nation is failing to live up to its ideals.
Absolutes are a goad, but they are not an answer. A nation is not an ideal. It is a structure that allows people to live. A nation pursuing an ideal is a prison. It is the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. It is North Korea. Or it’s Europe swamping its cities with Muslims or Israel pursuing a “purity of arms” that its enemies do not abide by. The pursuit of such ideals is a death wish. It’s a totalitarian suicide.
Religions embody ideals. Nations do not. A religion is built around a deity that can forgive its worshipers for their flaws. The wheel of sin turns toward redemption. Failure in religion is itself a learning experience that allows for self-improvement. Unless warped, it does not lead to a state of self-hatred, self-destruction and death.
But the state has no God. It is a bureaucratic idol composed of activist politicians and their clerks. It cannot redeem itself. Only damn itself. When it pursues an ideal, it borrows the narrative of religion without any divine understanding. Fanatics stand at the helm who are corrupt and goaded to extremes by their own failures, made incapable of forgiveness by their own human weaknesses.
The ideal state is a cult. At its head is the cult of personality. It ends with Jim Jones dispensing the Kool Aid. Or Rabin shaking Arafat’s hand. Or Merkel opening the borders. Or Obama rattling through another teleprompter speech filled with borrowed inspirations and empty hopes.
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In Rare Interview, Matt Drudge Issues Major Challenge to Obama and Hillary: ‘I Dare You!’
Matt Drudge issued a dare to President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Tuesday, during a rare radio interview with Alex Jones.
Drudge was responding to Jones asserting that a civil war may ensue if politicians attempt to confiscate guns.
“Well, because they are all armed themselves. Where they all have that security around them themselves. They don’t have to worry about [security],” said Drudge, who refused to be on camera.
“I challenge Hillary, take away your Secret Service. Take it away now! Take away your Secret Service! Dismiss them. Have no security around you. Have no guns around you, Hillary. I dare you! I dare you,” the Internet-news mogul said. “Obama, same thing. Drop your guns Obama. Take your Secret Service away, Obama. Take it all away. Leave the White House unguarded, Obama. Let everyone know there are no guns on the White House grounds Obama!”
More with the full video of this interview found HERE.
BRAINWASHING, MIND CONTROL, AND AMERICAN PARANOIA
During the Korean War, almost 5,000 American POWs signed confessions or petitions calling for an end to the war, while high-ranking USAF officers in captivity denounced alleged U.S. war crimes against Korea and China. Standard interrogation techniques like isolation, physical deprivation, and, of course, torture were used to elicit these performances of coercive propaganda, but to Americans watching their “boys” do and say such things, something far more sinister had to be at play. What if the Communists had developed a secret program for mind-control and human enslavement?
The idea of “brain-washing” can be credited to Edward Hunter, a CIA-funded writer and editor, who in 1950 started writing articles and books on the subject. His thesis was that Red China and the Soviet Union could control the minds of their respective citizenry—which explained how susceptible Americans captured on foreign soil would be.
Timothy Melley, who details how the lurid notion of brainwashing took hold of the American imagination, gives a sample of Hunter’s prose: Brainwashing mixed the inscrutable Orient with the robotic Soviet to produce something “like witchcraft, with its incantations, trances, poisons, and potions, with a strange flair of science about it all, like a devil dancer in a tuxedo carrying his magic brew in a test tube.”
Melley calls brainwashing a “powerful and long-lived cultural fantasy,” born of the anxieties and paranoia aroused by the Cold War. Such conspiratorial thinking eventually disassociated from communism and entered mainstream American culture. For instance, critiques of advertising, like Vance Packard’s classic The Hidden Persuaders (1957), argued that corporations attempted to brainwash consumers; Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique (1963) said that Cold War femininity was a result of brainwashing.
Perhaps the most fervid manifestation of the brainwashing obsession was the 1962 movieManchurian Candidate, which was all at once a satire of anti-communism, the worst-case scenario of the anti-communist imagination, and a Freudian nightmare of “momism” (another bizarre 1950s notion, in which overbearing mothers were emasculating their sons and, by extension, the nation).
Melley shows how the “nightmare antithesis of the liberal self: the brainwashed subject” was in fact a construction of liberal democracy itself. The irony is compounded by the fact that the U.S. government was also working on mind-control experiments to bridge a supposed “brainwashing gap” between us and them.
“The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish.” – Evelyn Waugh
The Gravest Threat to Colleges Comes From Within
We are experiencing one of the greatest threats to the university as we know it. It is not about enrollments, revenues, regulation, rankings, or leadership. It is about the ability to engage in unfettered debate at American colleges. It is about the assurance of intellectual freedom, about what can and cannot be discussed.
Colleges face criticism from students and others uncomfortable with the points of view expressed in the classroom and by individual faculty members. Provocative art, revealing films, graphic literary portrayals, and controversial speech are understandably uncomfortable for those who find such work contrary to their beliefs. Yet it is this type of work — controversial at times — that has enlightened the world.
Throughout history, colleges have been sites for the creation of knowledge and its dissemination to new generations. The creative spirit of the scholars in higher education, along with the protection afforded by academic freedom, has ensured innovation. Basic research that appears to have little practical application has helped cure disease, led to breakthroughs in science, and fostered understanding of the world. Presentation of counterculture perspectives, art, and literature has contributed to the next generation of leaders’ understanding of social and political movements. Disclosures of business and government practices have increased transparency and improved quality of products and services.
Many of the things we take for granted were once controversial, even heretical. Political dissent in the 1950s, which created a climate of fear for professors, serves as a not-too-distant example. Yet a key tenet of college has been the freedom to pursue novel questions. In the mid-12th century, the University of Bologna originated the concept of academic freedom such that scholars could pursue inquiry without risk of persecution. With 900 years of tradition, academic freedom is something to cherish and protect.
Our newest and greatest threat, however, comes not from external pressures, but from inside the university itself. Around the country, students have been rebelling against certain assignments, topics, or speakers. Some students object to material presented and readings assigned, asserting that assignments are upsetting, triggering anxieties or violating personal beliefs. After all, some argue, they are paying for the experience and should have a say in what they are exposed to and taught.
Colleges have taken pride in building more-diverse communities as a way for students to learn from one another in a safe space. Yet rather than being a place where divergent points of view are discussed and debated, the campus is increasingly becoming a site of tension and acrimony, resulting in a restricted exchange of perspectives. With nuanced public discourse on the wane and increased volume and vitriolic exchanges in the public space writ large, students increasingly come to college with little appreciation for civilized, engaged, and thoughtfully probing discourse.
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