This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper. – The Hollow Men, T. S. Eliot
So here we sit, in the burgeoning decade of the 21st century. With the collapse of the Evil Empire, thanks to Ronald Reagan, America is well into its second decade as the undisputed heavyweight superpower of the world. We are the military, economic, technological and cultural center of our own universe.
Things are great and getting better than ever as we speak. We’re healthier than ever, rich beyond our wildest dreams of avarice, content (for the most part) with our lot in life, and hardly distracted by a global war for national survival, which, if we did sit up and take notice, would probably bore us to tears before the first commercial break. Where’s the remote, honey?
But at the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly uneasy with all the largesse we have accumulated. We’re a little bit disturbed by unsettling trends at home and abroad.
Campaign Finance Reform has set the precedent for the further erosion of our First Amendment rights. But, not to worry; the president only signed the bill to discredit the Democrats’ baseless charges that he serves the interests of international business. Besides which, the Supreme Court will strike down CFR due to its clearly unconstitutional content. Oh? It didn’t? Well, Dubya has an “R” after his name, so I’m sure everything will be all right.
Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has reintroduced her latest and greatest version of the Assault Weapons Ban a few weeks ago. I must admit, it didn’t take long for the Democrats to start acting like Democrats again. Less than a month by my reckoning. But then, this only targets card-carrying members of the vast right-wing conspiracy, so why should the overwhelming preponderance of Americans be concerned? Who needs those evil black rifles with detachable high-cap magazines and pistol grips? No way do we need them to go deer hunting. Besides which, Kimberly Guilfoyle has the latest dirt on Anna Nicole tonight on Fox News, and she is really hot! (Kimberly, not Anna Nicole. At least not anymore.) So why should we be bothered with the trivialities of hard news when there’s real, honest-to-god tabloid journalism to sink our teeth into? Give me a retired lingerie model with a terminal case of blinding lip gloss syndrome masquerading as a real journalist and I’m one happy camper. By God, I need to Tivo Fox News 24/7. Hard news and soft porn in one fell swoop. What’s not to like?
One of the NAFTA provisions – you remember, the be-all, end-all, international trade agreement that was going to stem the influence of offshore economic competition and raise all boats – has mandated the opening of a super port at Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, whose imported Chinese goods will be offloaded and transported to the U.S. through the soon-to-be built NAFTA Superhighway. And then there are the Mexican trucks which can now roam American highways with impunity. With the stroke of a pen, the Teamsters and Longshoreman’s unions can be broken, and a new state-of-the-art uber-interstate – built, no doubt by cheap, illegal immigrant labor – can rush these latest trinkets to market before we can say North American Union. You gotta love this one! Ayn Rand must be smiling in her frigid little corner in the ninth circle of hell as we speak.
Then there’s the oft-ignored, much-overlooked Supreme Court case of Kelo vs. New London, CT. Never heard of it, you say? Why am I not surprised? So what if your local city government wants to turn your private property into a Wal-Mart Supercenter? I’m sure they’ll offer you pennies on the dollar for what it’s worth. And that’s probably more than you deserve anyway. We’re conservatives, after all. Wal-Mart is good. We love Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is beautiful, baby! POWER TO WAL-MART!! (O.K. I’m calming down now. I just get carried away when I see little yellow smiley faces advertising everyday low prices.) And as far as private property rights go . . . well, in grand conservative tradition, as long as I got mine, who cares if you got yours. Nothing to see here. Move along.
And who can forget the ever-eternal, crowd-pleasing favorite – the ubiquitous illegal immigration issue? It’s such a comfort to realize we have literally millions of illegal immigrants (excuse me, undocumented migrants) in this country, all grimly determined to do the jobs Americans refuse to do: Mowing the lawns Americans refuse to mow, building the buildings Americans refuse to build, and causing the hit-and-run accidents Americans refuse to cause. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut that produces the goods Americans refuse to produce, or the Indian engineers who develop the technological innovations Americans refuse to develop. What a deal, eh? They do all our dirty work, and if they get sick, somebody else has to pay for it. Without them, America would cease to exist.
But . . . unless you’re a real estate agent, or a government worker, there might be some cause for concern. And so a kind of post-modern angst is starting to take shape among Americans between episodes of 24. People, some people at least, are starting to get nervous. A certain element of the populace is starting to realize that the good times may not last forever. And if they come to an abrupt end, they may never come back. Some are even losing sleep over the notion that perhaps our new Indo-Chinese/Latino/Islamic masters may not be as respectful of our constitutional rights as we are accustomed to.
And so, an interesting phenomenon is taking root. It’s taking shape mostly on the Internet, particularly in the blogosphere, and related political websites:
The concept of armed insurrection.
I must say, it may not have teeth, but it is sexy. The notion of individual, armed American patriots, taking to the streets as part of a grass-roots rebellion against a globalist government with no concern for the well-bring of its citizens, brings a tear to the eye and a spring to the step. American citizens leading a rag-tag guerilla force against an armed, industrial, high-tech army conjures up scenes from Red Dawn.
The problem is, it’s a fraud and a lie, and will never happen.
As Americans, we pride ourselves as being individualistic, iconoclastic, and independent. We see ourselves as leaders, innovative and bold, living the good life in a land committed to the principle that each and every individual American citizen has the God-given right to rise as far as talent and ambition will take them.
That’s certainly the ideal. And, as with most ideals, there is more than a grain of truth in it. But the sad fact of the matter is that most of us go along to get along. We follow leaders. We do not initiate leadership. And for a people who saw the radical concept of “All men are created equal” take root and bear much fruit, we are perhaps some of the least revolutionary people on this planet. We need only look to our history to find confirmation of this.
The Shot Heard Round The World
There is no doubt that the concept that “All men are created equal” was a radical departure from conventional socio-political thought in the 18th century. It was a natural consequence of Enlightenment thinking whose philosophy was taking root in Europe and America at the time. Scientific, social and political developments of that time which either improved the quality of life generally, or pointed to the value of individual human beings in particular, were ultimately going to take expression. And they did on the North American continent in the form of the American Revolution.
The problem is, while the concept was revolutionary – that the government served the citizenry, not the other way around – support for the cause by which these principles were put into effect was not. What began with a handful Massachusetts militia at Concord Bridge and the shot heard round the world later developed into the Continental Army. However, grass roots support, both for the army and the cause it represented, was mixed at best.
George Washington took command of a collection of rag-tag colonial militias in Boston in the summer of 1775. By the end of the year, he faced a mass exodus of “soldiers” whose enlistments had expired and promptly proceeded to go home. To be sure, a good many remained, and the army was infused with fresh volunteers in the early part of 1776. But the revolving door at the time, which the army’s leadership could do nothing to mitigate, suggests something less than unilateral support for the cause.
Certainly there were committed true believers. Nathaniel Greene, Henry Knox, and those who orchestrated the transport of heavy cannon through freezing weather from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Dorchester Heights in Boston, suggest the value of passionate patriots, and offer dramatic examples of what they were capable of under the harsh conditions of the time.
But, the city of Boston contained patriotic and loyalist elements side by side. When the British evacuated the harbor, they took a great many loyalist residents with them.
New York City was a loyalist stronghold. When Admiral Lord Howe, along with Generals Henry Clinton, Lord Cornwallis and the British army landed on Long Island and Staten Island in the spring of 1776, they were welcomed with open arms by the local citizenry. When the Continental Army abandoned the city and retreated into New Jersey, New York sat out the war as a loyalist stronghold, and none of the remaining citizens there considered themselves any the less for it.
The victories at Trenton, Saratoga, Cowpens and ultimately the forced march through the Carolina woods resulting in the decisive blow at Yorktown to force an end to the conflict, were the mark of a committed, skilled fighting force. And such a force could not have endured the long winter at Valley Forge, the hardships of a long war, and the setbacks that occurred between the early days of the Declaration of Independence, and that long road to victory that followed without a level of support from the civilian population. There was grass roots support. There had to be. It was sufficient. But it was not unilateral.
An interesting side note: The American Revolution bore little resemblance to its French cousin a few years later. America saw nothing of the massive societal upheaval that occurred in France. There was no Reign of Terror. An American Robespierre never appeared. There was no guillotine. No Committee of Public Safety ever emerged. In France, such titles as “Madam,” Mademoiselle,” and Monsieur,” were abolished in favor of the title of “Citizen” – bearing a strange similarity to the ominously similar designation of “Comrade” which would emerge a century and a quarter later in Russia. This did not happen in America.
In France, an entire social order was swept away, the likes of which would not be seen again in Europe until the First World War. America experienced what amounted to a continuation of life as it was, only without the constraints of a mother country three thousand miles removed from the nation. The U.S. Constitution owed its roots to English common law. And while there were frequent incidents of persecution of loyalists following the war of independence, such incidents were not an instrument of national policy. Many loyalists set sail for England. Most people simply embraced the new order and went back to work.
This is not to denigrate the significance of the American Revolution. Quite the contrary. It was a significant, dramatic sea change in how human beings viewed themselves. But the process by which this came to pass was hardly indicative of a populist insurrection. It was top heavy, developed and led by the leadership of the time, many of whom were highly influenced by contemporary Enlightenment thinkers. It had enough popular support to succeed. But only just.
A House Divided
If there was ever an exception that proved the rule, it was the Civil War, particularly in the example of the Confederate Army. The soldiers of the Confederacy stand out in many ways, not the least of which was theirs was truly a lost cause that came oh so close to success. There are historians who argue that the entire weight and fury of industrialized warfare the North had at its disposal was never fully brought to bear against the South. And if there had been a lot more Southern victories, the massive hammer blow of Northern military power would have been fully unleashed.
The debate rages. As it turned out, a much smaller fighting force battled a much larger one to a standstill for four years, and only succumbed when the wherewithal to wage war, not to mention the Southern infrastructure to support it, was destroyed. Soldiers of the Confederacy knew disease, famine, death and defeat the likes of which few Americans could conceive, and fewer still have experienced. But they maintained their cohesion as a viable fighting force until they literally ran out of the resources to continue.
Most Confederate soldiers were not slave owners. Ownership of twenty slaves and/or $300 earned an instant deferment. Hence the phrase “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” So the Confederate soldier had little stake in defending “The Peculiar Institution” as it was called. What he did have was a tremendous sense of community. As poorly-educated as many of them were, they understood the concept of a country of their own, and knew full well its inherent value.
What other explanation can be offered for the willingness of Pickett’s brigade to charge the entrenched Union positions on the third day at Gettysburg? These men were combat veterans, many of them having served at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg a few months before. They understood the consequences of a frontal assault on fortified, well-defended positions.
Yet they attacked. And they failed. They were cut down by the thousands. Why? For Virginia. For Tennessee. For Georgia. For their country. Robert E. Lee himself declined command of the Union armies in 1861 responding to Lincoln that he simply could not draw his sword against his country (Virginia). Such was their devotion to their homes, their country, their way of life.
As the war dragged on, Atlanta was captured and burned. The Georgia countryside was devastated by Sherman’s march to the sea. South Carolina was ravaged when Sherman turned north from Savannah. And Lee lost men and materiel he could not replace at the battle sites of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. By the end of the summer of 1864, the trench line at Petersburg more closely resembled the western front of the First World War than the rolling plains of Manassas four years earlier (with ominous implications for future conflicts).
The South was starving. The army was in rags. And yet they fought on. It was, in my never-to-be-humble-opinion, the only instance in the history of this nation that a small, beaten down force could very well have engaged in a prolonged guerilla war.
Indeed, Jefferson Davis was calling for it as the spring of 1865 approached. Jay Winik’s book, April 1865 gives an excellent, concise account of the forces at work in the Confederacy at the time. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse and Joseph E. Johnson, being run to ground by Sherman in the North Carolina countryside would not support an insurgency, although Johnston was waffling at the time. And so the war ended.
Could the south have won a 19th century version of asymmetric warfare? It’s a tantalizing question. Certainly, the political and social landscape would have been much different as a result, which begs a more significant question. What would winning have meant? Historians can debate this question as they like. The point of this commentary is that if there ever was a group of armed men capable of sustaining an ongoing guerilla conflict, it was the veterans of the defeated Confederate army. How successful they would have been, and what variety of social change they would have affected, remains to be seen.
But ultimately, it didn’t happen. For all the dedication, courage, élan and leadership the South brought to the battlefield, the Southern armies were defeated and the Confederacy destroyed. And the implications of that salient fact were to have huge consequences as the country moved into the 20th century.
Buddy Can You Spare A Dime
Franklin Roosevelt took office as President of the United States in March 1933 following what is considered by many as the rock bottom year of the Great Depression. During the Hoover administration, the stock market crashed, the Smoot-Hawley tariffs knocked over European economies like a row of tenpins, spreading the economic misery abroad, there were some 10 to 12 million Americans then considered to be permanently displaced, and as FDR took the oath of office, banks were failing by the thousands.
Roosevelt lamented in his private papers that if he didn’t do something, and do it with dispatch, he feared a communist uprising would overthrow the democratic form of government in favor of the Soviet system.
He need not have worried. With the exception of the Bonus Marchers in the summer of 1932, there was precious little in the way of overt discontent. President Herbert Hoover dealt with disaffected WWI veterans that summer by turning the hoses on the tent city at Anacostia Flats. And if Army Chief of Staff Douglas Macarthur had had his way, he would have turned the machine guns on them. The tent city was demolished and the Bonus Army dispersed. There was no public outcry
The New Deal did little to mitigate the circumstances, although it had a tangible psychological effect on the electorate. Finally, somebody was doing something, or so it appeared. It did not matter that Herbert Hoover was much more involved in active attempts to spur economic activity during his tenure in office. Neither did it matter that FDR’s radical redefinition of government’s role in American society had precious little effect on the totality of the economic collapse. FDR was the great communicator of his time. And Hoover was no FDR.
Still, there was no grass roots revolt. Americans endured their misery with a combination of quiet dignity and stony silence. Those who suffered through those years did so with a tangible sense of resignation. A sense of despair permeated the landscape.
The War Between the States ended with a committed fighting force which, although thoroughly defeated in a conventional war, was willing and able by all accounts to continue the fight as a guerilla force for years to come. For all the devastation to the infrastructure, there was arguably more than enough support from the civilian population to sustain such a revolt, whatever the outcome. The southern military leadership would not endorse such a conflict and so the war ended.
So what happened between the end of the Civil War and the Great Depression?
Well, for one thing, farms produced a surplus, and did so in a significant way. That oft-overlooked fact of history takes on a significance that cannot be overestimated. Without it, no large urban areas would have developed; neither would the factories that marked the Industrial Revolution in late 19th century America.
The effect this had on the American way of life was no less dramatic than its transformation of American commerce. Men who had previously worked the land – often with their wives and children by their sides – now migrated to the cities to take their place on the assembly line. Where previously they worked at home, they now labored in an environment at once harsh and isolated. And it quickly became abundantly clear that repetitive menial tasks performed on an assembly line where the workers were as disposable as the spare parts they were assembling only served to generate a sense of alienation and despair.
The Homestead strike against the Carnegie steel mills of western Pennsylvania did little to dispel this condition. Neither did the Pullman strike against the railroad a few years later. Labor leaders were quick to recognize the handwriting on the wall. As committed a labor advocate as Samuel Gompers was among the first to cut a deal with industrialists. And Eugene V. Debs, the Marxist activist whose vision of a socialist utopia emerging out of the oppression of the industrial workplace never materialized, went to his grave with a fundamentally flawed perception of the American character.
By the 1930s, this blueprint for the American landscape was firmly entrenched. Americans were well conditioned to selling their souls for a dry room, a full belly and a few dollars. If there was a revolutionary spirit which endured through and beyond the Civil War, it was long gone by the 1930s. If the concept that one man could make a difference endured through the mid-19th century, the factories of the Industrial Revolution put an end to it, and with it, any revolutionary spirit which may have lingered to that point.
For all the efforts of the New Deal, the Depression ended when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. And while Americans were unwilling to rebel against their own government during the 1930s, they were more than willing to take up arms against a global threat to their country in the 1940s. And we can thank God they knew the difference between the two.
The Whole World Is Watching
Can any group of Americans match the baby boomers for sheer narcissism and self-absorption? We’d be hard pressed to find one. And I speak with authority, considering I’m a card-carrying member of the faithful in good standing.
At no time in American history has a group been raised up during a period of such largesse, comfort, stability and wealth as the baby boom generation. As time passes, we are beginning to see how this condition – so long taken as an article of faith among boomers – was more the exception than the rule. If privation, struggle and want are ultimately going to be the lot of the boom generation, they will endure it in their old-age in ways they never did during their youth.
Raised in the golden sunlight of prosperity, imbued with a gilt-edged purview that they were entitled not only to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but wealth, comfort and self-actualization, the inevitable collision between the boomers and their WWII fathers came in the 1960s, the catalyst, Vietnam.
What began with the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California and a general protest against the stifling of free expression on the Berkeley campus, quickly morphed into more specific protests at the University of Wisconsin against corporate involvement in the Vietnam War. From there, it was a short leap to outright rebellion against the war itself.
Vietnam was the flashpoint for the 60s student radicals in much the same way as slavery was to the abolitionists one hundred years before. Enraged student radicals rebelled against everything from free speech to the draft to women’s rights. And all the while, they gave no thought to the harsh reality of life simply because their insular upbringing (for the most part) gave them no appreciation for its difficulty.
Over and above their opposition to the war – which North Vietnamese officials have since cited as giving clear aid and comfort to their cause – their intent was to re-engineer the cultural landscape. All this came into sharp focus during the hinge year of 1968 in which the country experienced more history than it could absorb. For all the sound and fury, the results signified little more than a hiccup in the American experience.
Let’s look at a thumbnail sketch of some of the events of that year:
- The Tet offensive, while a military disaster for the NVA and Viet Cong, totally discredited Lyndon Johnson’s “light at the end of the tunnel” mindset.
- Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in April of that year, further intensifying an already strained racial landscape.
- Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles two months later, increasing the alienation of the already enraged radical anti-war student movement.
- Radical campus activists turned the streets of Chicago into nothing less than a war zone during the Democratic convention in August.
But for all the convulsions, Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy, the poster child for the anti-war activists in the wake of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, was ultimately defeated in his quest for the Democratic nomination. Hubert Humphrey – Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president and the one Democratic candidate most closely identified with LBJ’s war policies – secured the nomination. And in the end, Richard Nixon was elected president in a close fall election.
So for all the disruptions at the hands of the war protestors, very little changed in the way of national policy. Nixon began a gradual withdrawal from Vietnam, not because of the passion of the war protestors, but because in a post-Tet environment, any mandate of support for the war in grass roots America was gone. The silent majority of that time had spoken, and the word was “Get out. We’re fed up with this.” But for all the upheavals, there was no armed revolution in the streets.
During the next four years, Nixon mandated the 18-year-old vote. During the lead-up to the 1972 elections, many on the radical left anticipated a sea change in voter demographics. Here was the seminal moment when the youth vote would sweep the old guard from power and usher in the brave new world of liberal egalitarianism. Except young voters emulated their older cousins. They avoided the polls by the thousands and those who did show up, vote overwhelmingly for Richard Nixon.
But in a larger sense, the boomer radicals were more successful than they could appreciate as 1968 drew to a close. The postwar generation tore down much of what their WWII fathers had built. The home, the workplace, the family and the church all underwent significant transformations. Of course, they offered nothing in the way of better ideas with which to replace these institutions, but then, narcissism does have its limitations, short-sightedness chief among them.
Divorce rates skyrocketed as baby boomers moved into adulthood. Where the concept of divorce was infrequent and largely unthinkable but one generation removed, it now became commonplace and a widely accepted practice as the former student activists sought to throw off the shackles of marriage in pursuit of their self-actualization.
The unwritten contract between employers and workers that what was good for one was good for the other shattered in the brave new world of the postmodern world. Business owners soon came to offer nothing to their workforce but an ever-diminishing paycheck, and workers developed a sense of entitlement and currently have no sense of obligation for a job well done.
One of the strongest pillars upon which American culture was built – the Christian faith – has been attacked, eroded, watered down and secularized to the point that the Bible means anything anyone thinks it means, if it is taught at all. Once traditional denominations have embraced gay marriage, gay and lesbian priests, radical political activism and liberation theology as a means to further erode the American identity.
Richard Nixon abolished the draft at the stroke of a pen. It was a political masterstroke at the time. By doing so, Nixon immediately took the teeth out of radical anti-war activists, suggesting that the idealism of student protestors was rooted more in the practicality of saving their own skin rather than some ethical crusade to seize the moral high ground and usher in ideological world peace.
The long-term consequences are just now being felt. Every American president since that time has never failed to see the value in Nixon’s action. With an all-volunteer fighting force, there will be no grass-roots opposition to any regional conflicts that arise in the future. And so it has been. What protests that occur on university campuses pale in comparison to the explosion of the 60s. Why? Because college students no longer live under the cloud of compulsory military service, and as such, they don’t care.
But, the nation is working on its second generation of American men who have never seen the inside of a military base. They have never served their country. They have no sense of what that means, or that their way of life is something precious, valuable, worthy of being defended, and bought and paid for by the blood of those who preceded them. Freedom isn’t free. And every generation up to and including the men and women of WWII knew this hard fact of life, not to mention its deadly consequences. Sadly, the current generation – particularly the men – has little comprehension, much less appreciation for this simple fact.
As a consequence we see nothing of a country united and galvanized to defend itself against global Islamic terror. A handful of citizens – volunteers all to be sure – are engaged and committed to the country’s defense. But this is a far cry from the citizen soldier en masse, and more significantly, that every individual American citizen will be called upon to serve their country in some way when it is threatened.
Start The Revolution Without Me
So, with apologies to Bud Yorkin, Lawrence J. Cohen and Fred Freeman, forgive me if I just don’t buy it. Start the revolution without me. The idea of American civilians taking to the streets in open revolution is something I don’t expect to see. Such an insurgency would require organization, commitment, courage and above all leadership. And I just don’t see it. At least not enough of it. It would require outrage on an unprecedented scale that would ignite a flashpoint. And I don’t see that either.
Perhaps Thomas Paine said it best in his essay The American Crisis. We all know the famous few lines that resonate down through the centuries – “These are the times that try men’s souls. . .” etc., etc. But it was the next few sentiments that I believe are appropriate for this commentary:
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine, The American Crisis
Strange indeed. And yet we’ve come to an age where Americans indeed do not rate freedom highly. At best, we take it for granted. At worst, we don’t give it any consideration at all. Keep our bellies full, a roof over our heads, and a steady diet of distractions, and we’ll cut a deal with anyone.
Americans have precious little idea of what an insurgency would mean. Veterans of Vietnam perhaps have as good an insight into its costs, albeit from the other side of the rifle sights. It means fear, hunger, heat, cold, privation, failure and above all, death and suffering in numbers that often defy comprehension. And above all, it would take total, complete, absolute commitment and the certainty that the cause is not only just, but worth sacrificing everything for. And America just doesn’t have that capacity anymore.
Our leadership is a reflection of who we are. In this, the second term of our second baby boomer president, the policies of George W. Bush reflect the values of the electorate that put him in office.
We have a global war for survival that the vast majority of citizens pay little heed to. Why? Because it costs them nothing beyond a few extra dollars at the gas pump.
Our southern border, or lack thereof, makes a mockery of the war on terror. And the invasion of the country continues unabated because people don’t care. Indeed, Americans are just thrilled to have their toilets cleaned and their lawns mowed on the cheap, and if the workers who do the dirty work get sick, somebody else has to pay for it.
If America makes nothing of value, well so what? Our gadgets are cheaper than ever, and who needs those dirty manufacturing jobs when the Chinese do it so much cheaper? We can be about the more meaningful pursuits of selling real estate, insurance, or if we’re truly blessed, trying out for American Idol.
Having trouble with your PC? No problem. Dell’s crack hardware support team from Bangalore, India will be happy to assist you. And if the military needs any smart weapons, I’m sure the Chinese will be happy to provide them with an uninterrupted supply.
During my college days, a very wise history professor told me not to put too much faith in historical analogies. He took exception to the idea that history repeats itself. Well, history may not, but human nature does. Never underestimate the power of sloth, greed and complacency. There’s a reason why they are listed among the seven deadly sins. And that theme resonates throughout the history of humanity. Generations of committed patriots can take centuries to build a monument to human freedom, for all its flaws. It can take but a few short years for it all to be swept away.
To bring this latest exercise in verbosity to a conclusion, I am reminded of a scene from Red Dawn. I know. That film has got to be something of a pop culture icon for conservatives of all stripes. But for all the bad acting, and sometimes hokie dialogue, there are a number of scenes that stand out, one in particular:
The American insurgent leader is faced with having to execute a Soviet invader taken prisoner, not to mention one of his own who sold the group out. (Note to the weak of stomach: an insurgency has no room for the taking of prisoners, nor the capacity for mercy to traitors. But I digress.) He is challenged by his own brother who offers the classic liberal observation as his brother prepares to execute the condemned:
“What makes us different from them?” This conveniently ignores the hard fact of life that all causes are not created equal and all killing is not on the same moral plane.
His brother is contorted with anguish, because, believe it or not, executing unarmed prisoners is not something for the weak-hearted, not to mention that it erodes the humanity of the executioner as well. For all the misery of the task ahead, he offers a simple and passionate reply:
“Because We Live Here!!”
And that is perhaps the final lament that would doom a real-world revolution to defeat. Americans don’t care about America. Our homes mean nothing to us. At least, not to the point that we are willing to sacrifice our creature comforts to preserve who we are. Or were.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. . .
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
– The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats
Upon first glance of The Second Coming – in its entirety, not merely this excerpt – one gets the impression Yeats may have seen too much combat in the trenches of the western front during the First World War. Or maybe, just maybe, Yeats was more farsighted than anyone dared imagine. Perhaps he had the ability to see the inevitable collapse of civilizations however vibrant and enlightened, because men are weak, and vigilance is a quality that cannot be sustained.
One thing is certain: The beast he wrote of is awake. That beast is hungry. And that beast is going to be fed.
God help us all.