Monday, October 21, 2013


Disillusioned saviors search the sky,
Wanting to just to show someone the way,
Asking all the people passing by,
"Doesn't anybody want the way?"

[Jackson Browne, "Colors of the Sun"]

If only more of our self-nominated "saviors" could be disillusioned -- and that we could disillusion ourselves about them!

Yes, yes, there's a point to this. Hang in there.

The self-nominated or secular savior is a phenomenon of mass-media society. He could not arise without the promotion possible through channels of image distribution that span continents. Thus, when we see flickerings of such figures in pre-mass-media history, unless they press for political hegemony by the use of force, they tend to be only locally or regionally significant, and for only a short time. Only when radio and television enabled the erection of widespread networks for disseminating news, opinion, and propaganda did the secular savior become a persistent and nationally important force.

In the usual case, the secular savior is a promoter of an ideology: a compact system of mutually-supporting ideas, or ideons, that purport to address a large problem space. Within that problem space, various problems are supposedly solved -- i.e., their unsatisfactory aspects are remediated and give way to near-to-ideal conditions -- by matching them against the ideology's most relevant ideons. In the most extreme case, the promoter claims that the problem space addressed by the ideology is universal: that is, he proposes the ideology as a complete solution to all the problems of human life, eliminating any need to look outside the ideology for the solution to any significant human problem.

(Please pardon my use of information-theory jargon; I'm doing the best I can with a slippery set of abstractions. Besides, it's early Monday morning.)

The larger the specified problem space, the more likely the media are to give the savior broad and lurid exposure -- and the more likely the savior's claims are specious, self-serving, or worse.

The secular savior typically promotes himself above his ideology. At any rate, the most notorious such personalities have always eclipsed the actual ideas they espoused. What often escapes notice in such cases is the savior's desire to elevate himself, both above material concerns and moral constraints.

Decent persons are generally willing to concede that a man has a perfect right to enjoy the fruits of his ingenuity, even if said ingenuity was put to fleecing the gullible. Indeed, we sometimes make cultural icons out of men whose major talent is "shearing the sheep" in so charming, disarming a fashion that the sheep repeatedly bleat for more. ("Makes a fine Christmas gift!") However, a decent man will not allow a savior the use of violent, coercive, or fraudulent means -- and many a savior has aspired to all of that.

Watch out for the man ever eager to shove his face before a camera. It hardly matters what ideas he's promoting; his desire to force himself on you, even through the media, is enough to classify him as untrustworthy. Give him any appreciable amount of attention and pretty soon he'll be reaching into your pocket. It's reason enough to avoid aggressive street preachers, including the ones in three-piece suits with no detectable body odor.

Contemporary politics is infested with saviors. These are the worst of all.

The politician-savior is actively reaching for the tools of the State: force, fraud, and intimidation. He's already convinced of one of two propositions:

  • "It's for the greater good;"
  • "I can get away with it."

The history of politician-saviors in power should have convinced anyone tall enough to reach the levers on a voting machine that all such persons are untrustworthy and their schemes fraudulent. That, of course, is why the Left, which has bombarded us with one politician-savior after another for more than a century, is anxious to take total control of education in these United States. The "deactivation of history" (Clarence Carson) is their best protection against an awakening of the citizenry. Unfortunately, they've achieved an appalling degree of success.

Americans' native skepticism about politics and politicians wasn't enough to protect us from Franklin D. Roosevelt or Barack Hussein Obama. Both men promoted themselves above their ideologies; indeed, FDR had to hide his ideology behind a diametrically opposed Democratic Party platform to get elected in the first place. (Ask your teenage son whether his American History course made any mention of that.) In both cases, Americans responded to glamor and charisma without taking appropriate notice of what lay beneath the veneer.

Woe be unto the nation that permits such a man to lay his hands upon the levers of power, for it will know miseries untold.

Woe is unto us right now.

The ultimate manifestation of the politician-savior's megalomaniacal narcissism is mass murder, nominally in the name of the "greater good." We've seen it more than once these past few decades. One good thing about the mass media is that there's no averting the horror of such an atrocity, though Walter Duranty put his best efforts to concealing it and Noam Chomsky tried hard to minimize it.

What we all too frequently lack is a glimpse into the mind of such a savior. They don't often come right out and assert a privilege of genocide. Far more often, they ramble on about "the greater good," or "the needs of the revolution." Some will openly counterattack the questioner's morals and character.

In his extraordinary thriller Corpse In Armor, Martin McPhillips provides us exactly that glimpse:

    "Your certainty is impressive," Ryan said. "It allows you to justify your faith in mass murder."
    "It's not murder," she said, "when the violence is justified by the revolution. The bourgeois regime being attacked is criminal and inhuman and all who are obedient to it are complicit in its interminable violence. In acts of revolutionary violence against the enemy anyone complicit with the enemy who is killed is guilty of the crime of the enemy. It is not murder."
    "So riding a subway train to work," Ryan said, "is a criminal act punishable by death?"
    "When seen in its true historical context, it certainly is," she said confidently.
    "Everyone on the subway is equally guilty," Ryan suggested.
    "No, not if you go person by person, a maid or janitor is not carrying the same level of guilt as a stockbroker or corporate executive, but revolutionary violence sweeps with an inclusive broom. The statement it makes is bold and absolute and is a warning to all...."
    "And what do you believe in, soldier boy? Gawd?"
    "In the individual and his liberty," Ryan said, rising to the bait."
    "Oh dear, an American. You people are so charming, so quaint," she said, "always the perpetual football players running onto the field to the roar of the crowd and the bouncing breasts of the cheerleaders."
    "You're an American, aren't you, Ms. Garvin?" he asked.
    "Ah, no," she said. "I stopped thinking of myself as that, as an American when I was a teenager. That's what we call 'the normal maturation process' these days, soldier boy. Sorry you missed it."
    "So you're not an American," Ryan said. "What are you?"
    "I'm a citizen of the world," she said.
    "That's a big concept," Ryan said.
    "It's basic," she said. "You must have missed it while you were attending your ROTC meetings."
    "I guess I did," Ryan said. "That would explain why I'm still just an American with a silly belief in freedom."
    Garvin laughed.
    "Freedom? You think this America is free? You've got ninety percent of the people glued to their couches gazing like zombies into their televisions and eating non-stop. And then they jump off their couches for five minutes of history when a couple of tall buildings are knocked down in New York. That's the America I see. That's the America the revolution sees. This freedom thing you believe in, soldier boy, is a fairy tale, just like Gawd. History is unfolding right before your eyes and you're running in the opposite direction after the fairies of freedom and the goblins of terrorism. You should run in the direction of revolutionary violence, all of you should, get out in front of it, get off this America thing, because it is dead, a thing of the past. America no longer exists. You just haven't realized it. None of you have...."
    "What you people refuse to understand," Garvin said, jumping into the silence that had fallen over the room, "is that this freedom of yours is no more than pitiful self-indulgence at the expense of others. What the revolution does is take the anger and frustration of those who hunger for justice in the world and shape that into purposeful violence. You try to deny that by calling it 'senseless violence' and "mass murder,' but I'm looking at your faces now and I can see those old defenses and the lies that support them draining out of you. You all look like children who have just been told that there is no Santa Claus, and you had really known that all along. You just needed an adult to make it official for you. Well, here I am, kids, giving it to you straight, what you already knew."

McPhillips also provides a glimpse of the only permanent cure:

    The door to the building opened and the General came in. He was by himself and he looked as if he had been watching the whole thing. I noticed that he was carrying a nine millimeter in his hand, hanging at his side, and I thought he was going to threaten Garvin with it, possibly because he'd found a problem with her statements about Beers and Spencer.
    His mouth was tight, and he shot only a quick glance Ryan's way, not looking at the rest of us. He walked straight to Garvin and she looked up at him.
    "You," she said, with shock in her eyes.
    "Yes, me," the General said. "Let me shape some purposeful violence for you."
    He raised his nine millimeter about three feet from Garvin's head and pulled the trigger. The bullet entered above her left eye and exploded out the back of her head.

To sum up: secular saviors -- mortal men who promote themselves and their ideologies as the solution to the world's problems or the cure for your ills -- are inherently untrustworthy and dangerous. Nearly all of them seek power over you and prestige and riches for themselves at your expense. Exceptions among them are few and minor. So if you have a hankering for a savior, you're best advised to wait for the real thing.


Anonymous said...


Great post. Oh I forgot, you are one of the bloggers I am not supposed to read or pay attention to.

Just got Corpse in Armor, just because of the short excerpt you posted.

How many times would history have been different had there been a "General" with a 9mm and the fortitude to use it?

Stewart said...

I've heard it said that whenever a Senator looks in the mirror, he sees a President looking back. I've recently decided that the corollary is that whenever a "scientist" looks in the mirror, he sees a Savior looking back.

It seems that when someone gets a PhD, they secretly envision themselves as the lone Cassandra-like scientist-hero from a 1950's doomsday B-movie, ignored by the Establishment until it is almost too late, whereupon the hapless leaders realize the scientist-hero was right all along, and beg him to save the Earth right in the nick of time.

I'm sure it's just another manifestation of the religious impulse, twisted and stunted by a materialist worldview. I think it's also a pathetic attempt to finally show up all those jocks from junior high who gave them atomic wedgies. Whatever the cause, it seems to be almost universal amongst academics.

Tom Kratman said...

If I haven't reccomended it before, Fran, look up Lee Harris' Civilization and its Enemies. He's a highly conservative gay dude (conservative? My impression is he could give a shit abotu gay marriage, but is deeply concerned about the increasing failure of straight marriage) from the Atlanta Area. He talks about this Garvin sort of person at length and with vast insight.