Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vision Or Visions?

"To see you must have vision." -- Gregory Benford, Timescape

The inauguration is behind us. As some other wag has already said, the good news is that the historic, transformative, and wholly obnoxious presidency of Barack Hussein Obama is now more than half over. The bad news is that that's all of the good news.

Four years of Obamunism have brought disaster after disaster upon these United States. Yet most Americans who oppose this president's policies and the outlook that informs them have not yet made a fundamental decision: about what they believe Obama's true allegiances to be. The inability to settle on a conclusion makes it difficult to see his various moves as strokes toward a definite end state.

To be fair, there are several possibilities, all of which find some support in Obama's actions to date:

  • Massive redistribution in the name of "social justice;"
  • An enduring European-style welfare state;
  • An oligarchic American social-fascist state;
  • A totalitarian system like the old Soviet Union;
  • A simple personal dictatorship.

Depending on your political proclivities, Gentle Reader, you might see one or two of those destinations as innocent of motive. (No, I don't, but then everybody already knows what an unreconstructable old dinosaur I am.) That's an important cleavage all by itself, for it couples to the mindset of the man: what he really believes about fundamental political concepts such as freedom and individual rights, and whom he might deem his adversaries...or his enemies.

Time was, we spoke of enemies in the political sense as persons who hold ideologies or policy convictions to be defeated legislatively or electorally. But we should know from history that there's another possible interpretation.

Mongol General: We have won again. That is good! But what is best in life?
Mongol Warrior: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcon on your wrist, wind in your hair!
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!
Mongol General: That is good.

[John Milius, screenplay for Conan the Barbarian]

I've used that quote more times than I can remember: never as a statement of personal conviction, but as a summation of a particular personality type. My own conviction is more in line with that of Robert A. Heinlein's Lazarus Long character:

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate—and quickly. [from Time Enough For Love]

...qualified by C. S. Lewis's trenchant description of the Exception:

Then he remembers -- as one remembers an island of consciousness precded and followed by long anaesthesia -- going forward to meet the Un-man for what seemed the thousandth time and knowing clearly that he could not fight any more. He remembers seeing the Enemy for a moment looking not like Weston but like a mandrill, and realising almost at once that this was delirium. He wavered. Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him—a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood. What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself, to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation. It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for. As a boy with an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or a boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object. [from Perelandra]

But this is only prefatory to the key question: Whom or what does Barack Hussein Obama hate, if anyone or anything?

He's treated the Constitution of the United States like a palimpsest upon which to write his own preferences. He's treated his political opponents like objects deserving of contempt. He's treated individuals' rights as obstacles to be surmounted rather than as moral absolutes to be protected regardless of his preferences. Indeed, if there's anyone or anything Obama unqualifiedly respects, I can't put a name to him or it.

What sort of vision of his place in the universe does all that imply? And what would that vision suggest about Obama's ultimate intentions toward his political adversaries?

When an admirer asked the newly inaugurated Abraham Lincoln whether he planned to destroy his enemies, Lincoln replied "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends." Despite all he endured as president during the Civil War, he seems to have maintained that attitude to the very last.

Just how much of Lincoln, to whom he so loves to parallel himself, is there in Barack Hussein Obama?

Other commentators have spilled gallons of ink on the implications of Obama's upbringing and associations: his parents' Marxism; his childhood intimacy with noted Communist Frank Marshall Davis; his adult involvements with various socialist organizations and with terrorists Bill Ayres and Bernardine Dohrn; and his willingness to put persons of openly Marxist convictions in high federal offices. These things are indeed suggestive of a pre-formed, well annealed Marxist ideology. But a man can hold an ideology that puts him sharply at odds with others without hating those others, or the premises or principles they hold. He can maintain a belief in its practical superiority untainted by an assumption of moral elevation.

However, the trend in left-of-center politics is exactly the opposite: its allegiants overwhelmingly prefer to believe that their politics is a moral vision, and that those who dissent from their view are fatally morally deficient: evil. Refer to the C.S. Lewis citation in the previous section for the attitude towards their adversaries that naturally engenders.

Barack Hussein Obama's rhetoric and his chosen tactics suggest that he is of that ilk. His is not a pragmatic vision, but a moral crusade fueled by righteous (lefteous? wrongteous?) wrath. He's not intelligent enough to be aware of his attitude's necessary implications...even though he advances toward their most extreme possible consequences with every step he takes.

I am persuaded that this is a man who hates his adversaries -- who would command the Army to fire on American citizens, if resistance to his regime were to become macroscopic and overt. He and his cat's-paws unleash all the furies at their command upon anyone who dares to criticize him. One cannot oppose Obama without being relegated to the legions of the damned.

Cathleen Falsani: Do you believe in sin?
Obama: Yes.
Falsani: What is sin?
Obama: Being out of alignment with my values.

[Interview in the Chicago Sun-Times, March, 2004]

To sum up: Obama's policy directions, overt and covert, are not separable visions of incremental improvements in the United States. They flow from a unitary vision of the American Constitutional system as irremediably immoral, and of his own moral posture as unchallengeably correct. He extends those precepts to the opponents of his vision: these are at best beneath contempt, and possibly innately evil. They deserve no consideration. Their immolation in the fires of his wrath would at worst constitute collateral damage of persons dubiously salvageable by extensive mandatory re-education.

I was right. You really can't listen to me. You are so sure of your sight. Your villains and heroes are all so terribly clear to you, and I am obviously one of the villains. God save you from your vision, Mr. Burns.

[From Herb Gardner's play A Thousand Clowns.]

And may God save us from the vision of Barack Hussein Obama.

1 comment:

KG said...

"The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for."
I experienced exactly that just once in my long lifetime, and "joy" is precisely the word.
In Barack Hussein Obama I sense a person who will produce such a feeling in a lot of people and should he unleash the dogs of totalitarianism, he will reap a terrible harvest.
It may almost destroy America in the short or medium term but a good argument could be made that in the long term arrogant over-reach on his part could well be her salvation.