Sunday, July 14, 2019

No Escape

     If you aren’t familiar with the works of the late Jean-Francois Revel, repent of your sins and become so. Revel was among the best thinkers to arise in France in the years after World War II, yet he remains largely unappreciated – indeed, practically unknown – among his own people, to say nothing of the rest of the First World. Those of his works that have been translated into English and remain non-extortionately available include How Democracies Perish, The Flight From Truth, and Anti-Americanism, all of which have valued places in my library.

     One of his books, The Totalitarian Temptation, was until recently unavailable in English. In it, Revel discourses at length on the tendency among “progressives” to champion policies that are totalitarian in nature: i.e., policies that force their vision of “the good” on all of us, willy-nilly. Their combination of intellectual arrogance with an assumption of moral superiority leads them to infer that it is legitimate, even morally obligatory, for them to coerce the rest of us. After all, if the rest of us are so stupid, or so venal, that we won’t embrace “the good” freely, what else can they do?

     The attitude should be familiar to anyone who follows American politics in the present day. It manifests in virtually every statement any “progressive” politician or “thinker” makes – and certainly in every legislative proposition a “progressive” advances. They never show the slightest hesitation or uncertainty about it.

     Given the characteristic American attitude of defiance toward would-be dictators, how such persons can command anyone’s respect is a mystery. Yet they have, and they do – and on issue after issue, including completely fabricated ones, they presume to dictate how it must be – it’s a matter of RIGHTS!

     No one is more creative than a “progressive” at inventing “rights” that Almighty God would blanch at. But as rights is the Ace of Trumps in all political discourse, that’s their immediate claim about everything they demand, from free abortions to a law protecting the zyzzyva.

     (What’s that? They haven’t demanded a law protecting the zyzzyva? Probably because they can’t spell it. Anyway, we shouldn’t give them any ideas.)

     Today, Rod Dreher quotes Catholic Czech thinker Vaclav Benda:

     There are times when Christians do not realize that the idea of the forced establishment of paradise on earth and the emancipation of man with regard to any kind of higher authority comes from the same crucible as the idea of the improvement of sinners (or elimination of their occurrence) with the help of draconian laws, the idea of Christian dictatorship (totalitarianism): rebellion against the Creator stands at the root of all this, the same longing arbitrarily to correct imperfections in His work of creation....

     Totalitarianism devotes all its strength, all its technical know-how, towards a single goal: the unimpeded exercise of absolute power. It is capable of the most bizarre tactical somersaults imaginable, but it can never, under any circumstances, admit that anything is more important, more sacrosanct, than “the leading role of the party.”...

     One has either to submit oneself unconditionally to the violent and totalitarian power which sees a threat in every shadow and every free breath, or to confront it and to pit real strength against it (even if this is “mere” moral strength, for even that has shown many times in the history of Christian civilization how effective it can be). What is without any sense at all is to try to persuade the power that we mean well, and that we intend to limit its monopoly (its very essence!) only in its very own interest.

     Absolutely! The totalitarian is unappeasable; he cannot be bought off with a compromise. Moreover, he’s never really “finished.” There’s always just a little more “improving” he can do; wait while he searches for it. Note that totalitarians in power never voluntarily relinquish it. They depart from their palaces feet first, always. I made note of this in Shadow of a Sword:

     The moral dimension of arranging the assassination of a popular politician didn’t trouble Wriston at all. Living in the public eye had always entailed increased risk. Historically, whenever some troublemaker had roused the rabble to a greater pitch than the Establishment of that time and place could tolerate, it had disposed of him with no compunction and extreme prejudice. There were parts of the world where that was still the inevitable price of rising to power—places where a dismissal from high office was always administered with high-velocity lead. Power seekers in such lands arrived in their palaces with their death warrants already signed and sealed; they merely awaited delivery.

     If there is any Christian moral imperative that arises from politics, it’s to resist totalitarianism with all our might. God did not give us wills of our own just so we could be subjugated to the will of another...even “just a little.”

     David Thompson, in his pithy way, adds a grace note:

     Put another way, “State education is generally sub-optimal and often shockingly bad. Let’s make sure that’s all there is available.”

     That is the true core of the Left’s totalitarian-socialist agenda: there shall be no escape. It’s not about anyone’s “needs.” (Sure as hell it’s not about anyone’s “rights.”) It’s about the Left’s determination to eliminate every last vestige of individual choice in favor of a fabricated Utopia imposed top-down by “our betters:” a scheme guaranteed to produce widespread misery and a privileged caste of commissars.

     Yet there are people who condemn Donald Trump, the first president in many years to openly condemn socialism – to proclaim that “socialism is slavery” and that “America will never be socialist!” — for daring to say so. With the Left slavering for total control of every occupation, every choice, and every word or thought, supposedly conservative commentators have condemned Trump for daring to speak his mind openly and fearlessly, and for putting America first.

     “Collegiality” be damned. Trump in 2020.


Sam L. said...

"Progressive" is a word that always makes me think of cancer, which killed my wife. Progressives are a cancer in the body politic.


Have read some Revel... not enough, apparently.

They really DO believe themselves to be better, more enlightened, more noble, educated, etc. That's what makes them so dangerous.