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  • Kenneth Currie

    “Uglier” implies the country is ugly to begin with, and I don’t buy that. We have problems; many, many problems, but we are NOT an ugly country.

    • Tom

      The country might not be naturally ugly (not more than any other, anyway), but it’s going through a bit of a rough patch right now. (We can argue about how long that rough patch has been going later.)

  • WigWag

    To understand the state of the United States in 2017 go here for what is undoubtedly the best essay you will read this year.

    https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/new-class-war/

    • Anthony

      Thanks, WigWag.

      • WigWag

        You’re welcome, Anthony.

        • Beauceron

          Thanks…I have added this to my list. It’s title reminds me of another recent article that’s also in the queue, Angelo Codevilla’s “The Cold Civil War.”

          http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-cold-civil-war/

          • WigWag

            Happy Memorial Day.

            In the same issue of the new publication, “American Affairs,” where Michael Lind’s astounding essay is to be found, is a book review by Codevilla of “How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest,” by historian Walter A. McDougall. See,

            https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/uncivil-religion/

            The Codevilla review is worth a look. It convinced me to order the book on my Kindle.

    • Dan Kearns

      That is indeed a brilliant essay! And likely to be the best of the year! Great find, thank you!

      • WigWag

        Glad you liked it, Dan. I recommend subscribing to the new journal. It’s only $20 and they have a good stable of writers.

    • johngbarker

      Thanks WigWag, I will read it today.

      • WigWag

        I hope you had a good holiday weekend and that you enjoy the article.

    • D4x

      Yes, but, I await the essay that offers a solution to Michael Lind’s too-casual consideration of the paradigm that emerged from the Great Inflation of 1973-76 in the USA, wherein double-digit earnings increases became the core driver of “investment”, and the shareholder became the sole stakeholder worthy of attention:

      “…A new developmentalist strategy for traded-sector industries, by means of a mix of incentives and compulsion, should discourage corporations from seeking to boost profits by labor arbitrage, tax arbitrage, and financial machinations like
      stock buy-backs and corporate inversions. …”

      https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/05/new-class-war/

      Maybe it is just me, still haunted by what a nation of MBAs and lawyers have wrought, 1978-2008, enabling the BSDs*. Maybe longer – I stopped paying attention to Wall St paradigms once Tim Geithner, as president of the NY Fed let Lehman Bros
      take down the system.

      [BSD = An expression made famous by Michael Lewis in “Liar’s Poker”, 1989. or Brian Burrough: “Barbarians at the Gate”, 1990]

      • WigWag

        I think Lind’s point, at least in part, is that the BSDs are not the entire problem or even the most important part of the problem. The functionaries who run the administrative state are a major culprit in what ails our country.

        This is what airheads like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders get wrong. It’s not the billionaires and millionaires who are ruining America, or, at the very least, they’re not ruining our country all by themselves. It’s the analysts at the CIA, the lawyers in the Department of Education and the bureaucrats at HHS who are just as complicit in weakening our country. It’s also the nerds sitting in cubicles writing code in Mountainview and Cupertino.

        None of them are BSDs and many of them don’t even have a D.

        • D4x

          Lind’s focus seems to be about finding a new paradigm for reviving manufacturing employment, his “new developmentalism”. Does not Wall Street populate their neighborhood of the administrative state?

          Warren and Sanders are stuck in Lind’s neo-liberalism: “…the masses would be bribed into acquiescence …”

          What I find a bit curious about TeamTrump is that his Barbarians are inside the gate. Whether they are committed to redefining stakeholders beyond the shareholders is to be determined. Lind’s example of Apple is instructive – why should shareholders be the only stakeholders who determine the profitability target?

          The commitment to unwinding over-regulation is a start.

      • Wayne Lusvardi

        BSD – Big Swinging ______ (body part). A front office player on the sell side of a hedge fund. An executive who is personally responsible for bringing revenue in. (Urban Dictionary).

        • D4x

          I chose to not post that, and still meant the Michael Lewis version, which was a reflection of the overheated bidding wars over RJR Nabisco, not the tame post-2008 hedge fund version 🙂

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            Where I disagree with Lind is redistribution is insufficient to fund our problems. we need growth and an accompanying cultural/religious renewal (not Charles Murray’s guaranteed income approach). Protestantism needs to uncouple its legitimatization of Neo-Liberalism Paradigm and embrace the Developmentalism paradigm — something its professional class won’t do, however.

          • D4x

            Agree with you. Higher growth is key, and an easier challenge than a cultural/religious renewal. Might come back later to read your other comments here.

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      Wig
      Michael Lind’s piece: The New Class War (American Affairs Journal, May 2017)

      Contra Lind, redistribution, however, is insufficient to fund our problems. we need growth. Enter Trump.

  • Makaden

    Walter, I do not believe it’s the economics of the country that are the major driving force of the polarization. I believe it is the struggle for institutions, particularly socializing institutions: education, human service departments in government at all levels, and media (not just journalistic media). It’s a struggle for culture, particularly the norms that serve as pillars for the myriad of institutions that sustain this country. And much of it is fed by ethnic conflict exacerbated by multiculturalistic policies, all the way into the private and public sector workplaces.

    • Dan Kearns

      Wonderful comment that expresses so much!

    • MarkE

      Thank you! Sounds true and comprehensive.Some of this is a little abstract. I would love to hear you flesh this out with some examples.

      • Makaden

        Sure. I read it out loud and my wife’s eyes glazed over–and she has a Master’s degree in the same field as me, so sorry about that!

        Mead’s argument was to focus on changes in social structures, primarily (global) economics and the failure of the blue model, and external enemies (traditional foreign policy). They aren’t terrible readings of the situation, but, as I argue, they don’t even hit the primary problem.

        When we talk about globalization, at least popularly, we think of economic globalization: NAFTA, the loss of jobs to China, the inter-connectedness of immigration to economic problems at home, etc. But there is an entirely different form of globalization ignored in this reading: cultural globalization.

        By cultural globalization, it would be best to simply have you read the pretty accessible first three paragraphs under the “Synopsis” section of the following link: http://sociology.emory.edu/faculty/globalization/theories03.html

        That’s the basic overview. They key features to hone in on are this: instead of just operating WITHIN a given identity, individuals and groups now have to REFLEXIVLY and continuously state, delineate, justify, and promote our own identities. They are no longer given, because everyone else’s identity impinges on our own or our group’s. Another key feature is the concept of globality, which is the idea of the world being a “single place.” If you were alive at the time of Sputnik and saw the pictures of the earth as a large, blue ball, your conception of the world changed, in that it got much, much smaller. Instead of “frontiers” where there were unknowns, and those unknowns stayed at a distance, the reality of our era is that the spaces across our globe are known, and because of media, ease of travel/migration, etc, “others” are no longer at a distance, but constantly in our everyday existence.

        As the linked synopsis suggests, that creates cultural conflict. So when a Christian Fundamentalist in Florida decides to burn a Qu’ran and do it on social media, it is picked up in the Muslim world and riots–lots of them–ensue. [The fact that this actually occurred probably later helped Susan Rice with the initial plausibility of her specious argument about why the embassy in Benghazi was attacked.] And Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan, can make the plight of Palestinians, on the Mediterranean, a primary justification for 9/11 (since “Jews rule America,” you know).

        What generally gets left out of the equation–because the leftist academy is ATROCIOUS at writing themselves into social history in a non-hagiographic way–is that one of the major cultural identities of our time is global cosmopolitanism. It’s the ethic of the mega-city: post-modernist, anti-nationalistic, sexually libertine, and deeply hostile to whomever is more powerful than them in terms of social and moral norms. In our current reality, that is Western civilization/classic liberalism/modernism/science/free markets/etc, but because of identity politics, you need individual targets: so white, male, hetero, cis, whatever, function as the devil (literally white devils) in this religious system. These categories are given at birth, so you don’t have a chance to really renounce them even if you wanted to–a quite precarious situation for those like myself. Islam has no power, according to cosmopolitans, despite, for instance, the fact that Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world–BY FAR. Islam is only and always victimized, and without agency, so global cosmos take up agency for them.

        Progressives, I feel, aren’t really focused on capital-P progress. This dawned on me as I reflected on the Left’s unholy alliance with Islam, and not only the deep reluctance to criticize Islam, but to attack others who do so, and to actually DON THE HIJAB, such as these feminists:

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b3467d641247c86d421516d988af2499153d552d811552748c2b5df8725c585.jpg

        That says it all right there. Those are self-identified Swedish Feminists, and here is the article discussing the event: http://legalinsurrection.com/2017/02/swedish-leftist-feminist-politicians-wear-hijabs-and-chadors-during-iran-meetings/

        At the core of “progressive” ideology is deconstruction–deeply ironic as that may be. It’s been taught since the 1960’s (chime in, Wayne Lusvardi, if you wish), and is, at best, a primary sower of chaos, and at worst, when it seizes enough momentum, a replay of the worst of Leftist ideological movements in the 20th century (Stalinism, the Cultural Revolution, etc.) in which many die and Orwellianism reigns. The ethic of what I am calling global cosmopolitanism is, historically speaking, actually overlapping significantly with the ethic of the late phase of powerful civilizations, as Camille Paglia notes. (Do see her brief video on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8BRdwgPChQ).

        I’ve been reading cultural globalization theorists since 2006. And their predictions about the intensification of these conflicts have been dead on, especially Roland Robertson, our own Peter Berger, and Peter Beyer. Ideological struggles are different from structural changes, and you have to face them with different strategies (defense in the first instance, and primarily coping in the second instance). That was my basic argument. Hope that helps to clarify.

        • Wayne Lusvardi

          Re: “Chime in, Wayne Lusvardi, if you wish”

          Prof. Makaden you write so eloquently I don’t know how to add to what you have written. But coincidentally, I have had this same topic going on as an internal conversation in my mind as of late. Like Berger, I am not a pure culturalist or a pure economist (although I am a consulting valuation expert in complex properties such as public utilities, water rights, easements, etc. as well as having a masters in sociology). However, I think your diagnosis is correct that the current American struggle is over culture and religion (which also means the institutions that house those cultures and religions).

          The sociologist Emile Durkheim wrote about this in his book “The Division of Labor”. He perceived two classes of labor, one traditional (based on “mechanical solidarity”) and the other modern (based on “organic solidarity”). So the issue is not purely economic and Marxist as in a conflict between Labor and Capital (or the Working Class vs. the Financier-Knowledge Class in Trumpian terms) but between those classes that embody the two cultures or cohesions of labor.

          Unfortunately, Durkheim used the term “mechanical solidarity” to express the social solidarity of traditional societies but the image of “mechanical” is associated with modernity. And the term “organic solidarity” also is a misnomer to describe the social cohesion of modern technological societies.

          But Durkheim wrote about the origin of suicide as emanating from “anomie” (normlessless, meaninglessness, social alienation). And indeed we are hearing of increasing suicide rates among the Working Class. Homicide has a similar etiology (cop killings now as a cultural norm). As I have written previously, I believe this is because of a deconstruction of the Theodicy of the Work Ethic that has come with the rise of Globalism. “Man doesn’t live by bread alone” is how the Jewish prophets and Christian writers, as well as Berger, put it. If there was some magical social policy that restored manufacturing jobs in the Midwestern U.S. overnight, I am skeptical this would provide the social glue to resolve this cultural conflict without some accompanying religious shift.

          Where I perhaps diverge from Berger is that he puts such an emphasis on (ordinary) religious experience and not the institutions needed to house them (although he often does advocate the need for new institutions for modern religion and for mediating institutions for social policy). One of the most underrated books I ever read was by Berger’s pal Anton Zijderveld, “The Institutional Imperative”, where he describes how “thin institutions” are replacing “thick” ones. Zijderveld tries to find a middle road between traditional conservatism and postmodernism. But the problem is there are no institutions to house such a middle ground. Zijderveld described this like “coffee without a cup” or “soup without a bowl’; or “happiness but with homelessness” (culture but without “culture”).

        • Wayne Lusvardi

          Another divergence I have from Berger is his definition of secularization as pluralism. There is another layer to secularism that sociologist Christian Smith in his book The Secular Revolution addresses. To Smith, secularization is not so much modernization/pluralism as much as it is a “revolution” or cultural coup with (1) “a fundamental concern with power and authority, (2) an identifiable network of insurgents intentionally and successfully struggling to displace an established power, large against its will, and (3) the triumphant regime fundamentally transformed in many areas of cultural and institutional structures that govern public life”. The ideological social locus of this revolution is in academia as the new high church of secularism. The economic locus is in government funding and co-opting of mediating institutions. The “new man” or new ideal identity of this revolutionary movement are those who have by virtue of their victimhood identity paramount legal entitlements to perquisites, sinecures and social status provided by government or by employers through affirmative action. Those attracted to this revolutionary movement are those typically alienated, or self alienated by virtue of economic incentives, from the Protestant ethos. Modernization produces pluralism but it also produces culturally anomic voids and alienation from strong socializing institutions (e.g., military, police, sports, charm schools, etc.). Typically, many of those involved in the movement come from weak socializing families (this cuts across social classes but has more of an affinity with the rich and the poor). Professionals are drawn into the movement because they have had to divorce their families, their church, their communities to “marry their profession” by attending professional schools that demand re-socialization akin to Communist re-education camps. Their high social status is ascribed more than achieved. Their revolution is non-violent such as with Fabian socialism. Their religion is apocalyptic “Progressivism” that history is on their side. The election of a Capitalist such as Trump is thus a rupture to their entire secular-religious bubble or social canopy that they are the vanguards of history. It is the epitome of sociological naivete to view secularization as only pluralism and not also as revolution. Their movement is not so much to destroy their opponents but to marginalize them as they grab power and authority. It is the cultural “deep state”. And it may be fomenting a civil war at some point out of desperation (see David Armitage, “Civil War: A History in Ideas” (2017).

          • Makaden

            Wayne, forgive my late reply. It’s good to have someone who wants to talk about these things.

            I might correct that Berger doesn’t define secularization as pluralism, but rather as pluralization. The isms, as ideologies, can be compared together–secularism as pluralism–if one wanted to do that (very fruitful) analysis. But the “izations” would refer to non-ideological social processes. And Berger, with Zijderveld, cite pluralization as the major cause of the anomie present in globalizing processes in their early chapters of “In Praise of Doubt.”

            I was listening to Dave Rubin’s interview of Jordan Peterson from a few days ago. I didn’t realize just how Durkheimian Peterson is. It dawned on me that we might consider the anomie produced by secularism’s insistence on the death of transcendence may have actually bred systemic anomie wherever it spreads. Is it possible to conceive of the madness sweeping the thick fringe of the left in our day as a (in hindsight) totally predictable outcome of the anomie produced by secularism, in combination with the decline an dissolution of the structures that have traditionally housed meaning? Then Trump’s election can be seen to have affected the “center” of the left, rupturing the canopy as you suggest?

            Lastly, did you read Berger’s very old title “Movement and Revolution?” It’s very insightful as to his base convictions. I recommend it.

            And I’m with you. It’s about power. The postmodernists said so explicitly. Do watch that Peterson interview with Rubin. I think you will very much enjoy it. Lot’s of Peterson’s evolutionary psychology discussed in there.

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            Matt-
            Thanks for the nuancing of pluralization and pluralism.

            It is sort of uncanny isn’t it that we run into people who, without ever reading Marx or Durkheim, propound the same thoughts as if they had read them? The conservative Jewish talk radio host Dennis Prager often chimes Durkheim for example. The frequent commenter on this website FriendlyGoat converses in Marxist concepts without ever reading him. Someone ought to write a sociological theory text from a biographical perspective the way Peter and Brigitte Berger once did with their introductory textbook “Sociology: A Biographical Approach”.

            I have read and consulted Berger’s “Movement and Revolution” many times I will go back and re-read it. As I suggested in one of my responses to you, secularISM can also be seen as a revolution not merely a process of modernization. And it is interesting to note that historically the Roman civil war that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar is called a “revolution” by historians (see Ronald Syme, “The Roman Revolution” and Richard Alston’s “Rome’s Revolution”). We are witnessing the puncturing of the weltanschuung or secular canopy of revolutionary secularism after the Trump election (as my friend Gary Novak has described on this website). Progressives may want to kill transcendent meaning systems but they need their own replacement secular canopy. But humans can’t be human without transcendence.

            It is about power because with power to control government comes the very victim identity, sinecures and social status that personifies Progressives. “Draining the swamp” also cognitively drains the very liquid identities of secularists.

            Max Weber was a social evolutionist of sort but eschewed psychological determinism.

            Thanks for the invitation to respond.

            P.S. You went to Fuller and I lived in Pasadena apparently at the same time. The small world of globalization.

          • Makaden

            It is uncanny. And I want to reflect more deeply on your suggestion about Trump and the bursting of secular sacred canopy. On the surface, it explains a lot. I’d like to throw some darts at it in my head to see if it holds up.

            It’s a good dissertation, by the way. You should read it. 🙂 (h/t academia.edu)

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            I have already downloaded your dissertation and skim read it. I always start from the bibliography and read from back to front. I’m impressed.

            Here is my blog buddy Gary Novak, from whom I borrowed the notion of a secular canopy (my terms), and his comment on Berger’ article Religion, Class and the Evangelical Vote:

            NOVAK:
            “On the question of the thwarting of historical inevitability, I spoke of Trump’s “apparent refutation of historical inevitability” and his “interruption” of historical inevitability. The Left believes that Trump is only interrupting Progress, not changing the course of history– which, as inevitable, cannot be changed. As I put it, the Left believes not that Trump represents an actual thwarting of history but that his apparent refutation of historical inevitability is “impossible.” Trump must have rigged the election (recount!), or the Electoral College distorted the General Will of the people, or things have to get worse before they can get better, or . . .? The Left’s understanding of Progress is not falsifiable.

            Unlike the Left, the losers don’t understand that they can’t possibly win, but during the interruption of History, the Left fears that Trump will encourage the deplorables to commit more “hate crimes,” to engage in more bullying, and generally create an unimaginably bad situation. The Left believes it is imperative to delegitimize Trump, to protest against his win (“Not my President!”), to double down on efforts to “educate” those in “false consciousness,” etc. The Left feels a moral obligation to explain that this shocking election is NOT REAL.
            But it is really shocking. What would Christians think if archaeologists found compelling evidence that Reimarus was right: Jesus didn’t rise from the dead; his body was stolen from the tomb, and his disciples perpetrated a scam. That’s how the Left feels today. Its religion is threatened. We shouldn’t expect a gracious response”.

            I will email Novak and alert him that I am quoting him.

          • Makaden

            There is much elegance to this reading of the situation, a reading that deserves a full-length treatment. An observation that I would add here is that maybe we are really dealing with an intensification of millennial fervor under the direct attack on a secular postmillennialism (as understood and interpreted by adherents, as always). There are two authors that help immensely when the situation is framed like this. First is Richard Landes’ “Heaven on Earth,” a magisterial work surveying both religious and non-religious millennialisms, with special emphasis on Islamic triumphalism. The second is more a practical and theoretical work, largely under the radar: Eviatar Zerubavel’s “Time Maps,” which lays out models of social history and their conceptions of time, so that understanding chrono-ruptures (my term) becomes an essential companion to understanding millennialism more generally.

            It’s a great book waiting to happen.

            You know, Audre Lorde has a saying popular among (especially black) feminists: “The master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.” How did we get the “leftist” house today? [Hard] Social constructionism has to be counted among the most powerful of those tools. Always focused on the Right, always focused on Christianity, always focused on “patriarchy,” almost never, magically, on the Left. I don’t think Lorde was right. I think those tools, particularly social constructionism, can be deployed with devastating effect against the left, to serve the “unmasking” function that Berger so loved to say was essential to sociology.

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            I ordered both books on your recommendation and after scanning Amazon synopses.

            Since we are trading baseball cards so to speak (Mickey Mantle for Willie Mays), your study of Millennialism might lead you to be interested in Michael Vlahos’ “Fighting Identity: Sacred War and World Change” (I didn’t see it in the bibliography of your thesis) and “Terror’s Mask: Insurgency Within Islam”. Vlahos would likely agree with Berger that Islam is not the main impetus for “Islamic Terror”. But infiltrated Islamic Terrorism has a zeitgeist of millennialism and apocalypticism that is quasi-religious that appeals to the masses nevertheless. It also appeals to American secular Leftists with their global warming prophecies of doom and absolute certainty that history is on their side. Given this elective affinity, look for the plausibility of some sort of merger of the two in the future (stare at your photo of the feminists wearing hijabs)

            The Left are not only deconstructionists but also insidious re-constructionists in that they want to infiltrate and co-opt the symbols and meaning systems of the existing culture but use them to gain absolute power (e.g., witness Berger’s descriptions of Bishop Catharine Jefferts Schori and the takeover of the Episcopal Church by the Knowledge Class).

            As observed by Novak, those who lost to Trump are not going to accept any legitimacy for his rule and are going to fight to the end (I won’t tell you about some of the near violent encounters I have had unprovoked by me recently with Leftists looking to mug someone). And the Right is going to fight back.

            We are already engaged in a war of words and symbolic interaction (symbolic beheading of the president), but the Left is trying to provoke this into violent conflict by cop killings, whack a whitey, and group assaults. According to John Bachelor, you can tell when you are engaged in a civil war when there are two contested claims of legitimacy (Caesar versus Pompey). This website is the very home of the movement within the intelligentsia class to delegitimate Trump they just haven’t legitimated violent means to do so (yet)!

            Leftist polemicist Charles Lipson has written a provocative article “Why America’s Political Crisis is So Profound”. He analogizes the conflict to an encounter when a customer gives a bill to a store clerk to pay for merchandise where the customer sincerely believes they gave the clerk a $20 bill and with equal sincerity the clerk believes it was a 10 spot. This sophistic analogy is bogus but perhaps compelling that the problem is the store and the clark. But if the customer has plotted to defraud the store (petit larceny) and has already called the cops to get on their side (think special prosecutor), then it sets the stage for deconstruction of reality of the legitimacy of law and order. In the end the determination of who was right will come down to a realization of who has the most to lose. The storeowner has much more to lose from an unhappy customer creating a scene in his store (or on the Internet). But when Trump faces such legal extortions he fights back no matter the false image it may create. The Republicans backed off removing Bill Clinton from office after impeachment because they had more to lose. Likewise, the Democrats will have more to lose in their bogus, empty challenge to Trump’s legitimacy; but who knows if there is mission creep resulting in civil war? Maybe the Left wants war so they can demand pay offs in return for peace? Urban riots coming but not in Silicon Valley. But the Right is going to fight back.

  • Anthony

    A reflective and enjoyable Memorial Day, WRM.

  • Beauceron

    “Memorial Day is not just a day to remember the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend us. It’s a time to honor their sacrifice by rededicating ourselves to the job of making this country worthy of these sacrifices—by cultivating the virtues of tolerance, engagement, respect and liberty that have made America great in the past—and will keep her great if we will honor and practice them now.”

    I find that I sometimes struggle with the idea that, viewed from the heights of contemporary 21st Century America, those people, from the revolutionary war on down, died for naught. We revolted against King George for what? To see a Deep State grow that is not answerable to the people? We fought the Civil War for what? To have campuses across the country re-institute segregated housing and events where whites are banned– all in the name of some fabricated, increasingly absurd white-privileged micoraggressions? We fought against Hitler for what? To see the US become a third world country without borders? We fought wars in the middle east for what? To have millions of muslims bring their problems to the shores of the west? What did those long line of people fight and die for? The country I see forming around me now? I very much doubt it.

    I don’t want to believe that it was all just wasted effort– it’s a horrible thought, I know– but I can’t shake that dark thought either.

    People keep telling us to relax and be sweet and accepting about the changes wrought by our elites– everything will be just great in the end, don’t worry, they tell us. There’s no difference between the tens of millions of latinos we’ve imported and the Irish we imported, that the millions of muslims we’ve brought in are no different than the Puritan pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock. Sure things are divisive now, but it will all work out, it always has before, right? It’s becoming more and more difficult to believe that. At best it sounds less like genuine optimism and more like pollyannaish, rose-tinted thinking. At worst it seems like an effort to buy more time so that the changes and problems, already probably irreversible, become totally irreversible. With that in mind, it occurs to me that the average American (well, there is no average anymore, is there?) has been far too complacent and far too accepting of those changes– even if it is too late to do anything about them. When I see Meade arguing for optimism, a little voice in the back of my head tells me that what he’s really saying is go back to sleep. That complacency, and the apathy, the fear, the cowardice, the silence that drives it, is what has led us to this moment in the first place.

    I don’t know what to do about it. It saddens me. It depresses me. It angers me.

    Increasingly, I find don’t want to keep grappling with the Left. It’s exhausting. And talk about wasted efforts. I don’t know that I’d cast them as “evil” as Meade says– counterfactual and ahistorical to be sure– mad, perhaps. They have a very, very different vision of society and the future than I– and those views are increasingly simply incompatible. I am happy for those on the Left to pursue their vision of society– I wish them luck. Truly. But I think it’s asking me to commit suicide. I just don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to destroy them, as they clearly wish for my own destruction. I do want a divorce though.

    I am of fighting age, but if I am baldly honest I can imagine no circumstance where I would feel compelled to fight for this country as currently constituted. What would I be fighting for? The right to be branded an irredeemable racist because of the color of my skin by BLM activists? The right to be branded a rapist by third-wave feminists? The right to ban me from campus for a day– or a month, or forever– because I’m a white male, the right to create a parallel society where Sharia law reigns, the right to be a stranger in a familiar land? No thank you. It doesn’t mean anything to be American. America has become a cultural and societal no-thing, with no cohesion and no agreed upon mythology. It’s empty. It’s a wasteland. And I don’t see a scenario where it doesn’t just implode from the weight of the lies that it takes to keep it stuck together under this system.

    So, happy Memorial Day.

    • Makaden

      I rec’d this comment solely for this paragraph:

      “Increasingly, I find don’t want to keep grappling with the Left. It’s exhausting. And talk about wasted efforts. I don’t know that I’d cast them as “evil” as Meade says– counterfactual and ahistorical to be sure– mad, perhaps. They have a very, very different vision of society and the future than I– and those views are increasingly simply incompatible. I am happy for those on the Left to pursue their vision of society– I wish them luck. Truly. But I think it’s asking me to commit suicide. I just don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to destroy them, as they clearly wish for my own destruction. I do want a divorce though.”

    • Dan Kearns

      Very powerful post, with much for me to chew on. I hadn’t been able to articulate it in my mind so well as you just did. But the same kind of feeling has been weighing.

    • tellourstory

      Your post reminded me of reading about WWII veterans who basically said that if they had known how their country was going to turn out after the war, they never would have bothered fighting for it. This is from the UK back in 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1229643/This-isnt-Britain-fought-say-unknown-warriors-WWII.html

      I try to remain optimistic about the future, but I also share your deep sense of disquiet. Right now, I’m reading Douglas Murray’s “The Strange Death of Europe,” and it hits on a lot of the points you’ve listed above. The gist that I’ve been getting in the first couple chapters is that the politicians didn’t actually mean for this mass immigration that’s gone on in Europe for decades to be permanent. Once they realized they were wrong and that not only were these people not going home, but that they were also bringing their families in, the tune changed. The recent migration problem has only exacerbated a long standing issue for which the elite classes have absolutely no plan or answer. The, “Everything will be fine,” mantra started to be repeated from the early 2000s and anyone who tried to point out that things were certainly not fine was told to shut up–sometimes violently.

      Honestly though, the thing that has stuck out the most so far was his observation that when you invite the entire world to live inside your country, you have to try to create a culture that fits all of them into it somehow. With so many different cultures in one place, the only way one can do that is by defining the nation by a set of vague ideals that can apply to any person at any time. Thus, the former rule of law and culture is necessarily diluted and thrown away to make room for newer, broader ideals such as diversity and inclusion. The result is an empty culture that is ill-defined and inspires no one. Quite like the one we’ve got now.

      Whether the brave men who fought for America–or any Western country for that matter–died for nothing will become clear within the next few decades.

      • Beauceron

        “Honestly though, the thing that has stuck out the most so far was his observation that when you invite the entire world to live inside your country, you have to try to create a culture that fits all of them into it somehow. With so many different cultures in one place, the only way one can do that is by defining the nation by a set of vague ideals that can apply to any person at any time.”
        I really like Murray, and I have read some reviews of his book, although not the book itself yet.

        The thing is if THAT was what I saw them at least attempting to do, I would be far less troubled. The Left is very much not looking to an ideology of “We are all the same and we are all just human beings,” despite their occassional insistence that they are pushing for unity or insisting that the right is divisive. That is not what I see here in the US. What I see are forms of a sort of “People Of Color” supremacy and a sort of perpetual racial debt for white people based on past sins or a system of current “microaggressions” that get increasingly ridiculous as the years pass.

        • tellourstory

          I agree and Murray also delves into that very mentality in the first chapter and in subsequent ones. He notes that this mass immigration from former colonies is often referred to as “the empire strikes back.” Anyone who argues with the large numbers of new arrivals is made to know that the country “deserves this” because of what it did in the past. The clear revenge aspect of this makes Murray uneasy about the future, as it should anyone else.

          There’s also an entire chapter devoted to the guilt complex and how only Western countries seem to define themselves on their low points instead of their high points. Thus, diversity from other superior cultures is always a benefit to the host culture of a Western country because they are the worst of the worst by default. Diversity is then transformed into nothing more than a type of punishment for past wrongdoings. Which begs the question as to why countries like Turkey, whose crimes are well known, shouldn’t be made to pay for their transgressions by becoming more diverse. If diversity and perpetual guilt are the cures for all the ills plaguing humanity, then why aren’t these cures being distributed evenly in other countries have done terrible things?

          In my humble opinion, the West needs to take a page out of Japan’s play book. Japan has made it clear in recent years that they will not continue to apologize for what happened during WWII, especially since they’ve come to the conclusion they’ll never be forgiven anyway. To be clear, some of the remaining tension is in fact the fault of the Japanese government, but refusing to allow someone to hit you over the head with something that happened years and years ago is a far healthier choice than perpetual guilt and abnegation of your entire culture.

    • D4x

      Mr. Mead is not George Meade, the Union general who won Gettysburg. Helps me to read about America’s Civil War, especially once it became clear that the economic system of the Confederacy had to be burnt down and totally rebuilt. Since we have a different enemy today, consider this: “The American press is a shame and a reproach to a civilized people. When a man is too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal, he becomes an editor and manufactures public opinion.”
      ― William T. Sherman https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/177344.William_T_Sherman

      Depression is anger turned inward. Might want to take up boxing for therapeutic exercise.

  • Andrew Allison

    “It’s worth remembering that our problems aren’t really caused by our domestic political opponents.” I beg to differ. There is a concerted effort by the left to depose a duly elected President. This is in no way comparable to the actions of a couple of nuts — consider the context of the overall level of violence in the US (http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/02/daily-chart-3)

  • Old Gunny

    Meade is correct. “Memorial Day is not just a day to remember the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend us.” Memorial Day is THE day to remember the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend us. Next year go to a cemetery, plant a flag, and listen to Taps. Then go home and don’t touch your keyboard. There are times when y’all make my ass tired.

  • Joey Junger

    “We have a long history of finding peaceful and creative compromise solutions to even the most difficult problems.”

    We also have a long history of finding violent and creative solutions to our most difficult problems. The Civil War was one of them. A historian (I think Shelby Foote) used to like pointing out that before the Civil War people tended to say, “The United States are…” and afterwards it became, “The United States is…” I think it’s safe to say we’re back to being an “are” rather than an “is.”

    I see more parallels with Europe in the run-up to the First World War, though. America is now truly balkanized into several regions that have less in common with each other than even, say, Austria and Germany pre-Anschluss (California and Alabama are about as culturally similar as Croatia and Britain). Every time there is some attack on a politician (like the Gabby Giffords incident or this Bernie supporter shooting), I keep thinking about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and I wonder if what just seems like an ugly incident to us might appear in future history books as the opening salvo in another nightmarish conflict that kills tens of millions.

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