Archives for category: symbology

wiseman

A timeline of me changing my attitude on iconoclasm:

  1. When Russians pulled down Lenin statues, at the end of the Soviet era, I cheered.
  2. When folks in Seattle’s Fremont District put up a Lenin statue, I snickered.
  3. When American forces, during the Conquest of Iraq, hit some major sites of ancient Mesopotamian civilization I was deeply irked.
  4. When ISIS began dismantling, destroying and selling off ancient statues from Assyria as “idols,” I was aghast that any modern would wish to treat as objects for either current reverence or irreverence millennia-old statuary.
  5. When SJWs turned against the statuary of the Civil War dead, I was somewhat disturbed that anyone would treat centuries-old and even decades-old memorials as objects for current reverence or irreverance — other than a reverance for history.

My attitude about recent iconoclasm is not unlike my attitude regarding speech: just as the proper response to speech one does not like is more speech, the proper response to statuary one doesn’t like is not iconoclasm but more statuary. It is easy to destroy, not so easy to put up new monuments — they cost money, at the very least. Destroying statuary amounts to destroying history. And destruction, even the destruction of ugly history, seems more like childishness than maturity. Adults should be able to look at a statue and not get sucked into its implied ideology.

And, surely, the postmoderns are right: any given artifact possesses more than one meaning. We Hyperboreans are authorized to pick and choose the meanings we prefer, surely.

I prefer knowledge to ignorance, truth over myth, and seeing even the most vile of monuments as examples of history.

Yes, I am one of those people fascinated by ancient monuments. I have been since very young. You know: the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, Göbekli Tepe, all that.  My interest has engendered quite a bit of reverence for these monuments’ historicity, not allegiance to their original functionality. I am quite certain I would not support the bulk of the policies of the ancient monument-builders were someone foolish enough to attempt to revive those policies.

I made peace with Lenin being in Seattle. Still . . . perhaps I should fear the statue’s influence on Seattle politics. Could it have given succor to socialism on the current Seattle City Council?

Which brings up an important point: republican governments should probably forgo the making of monuments. They are inherently propagandistic, and though celebrating the heroes of the republic seems a fine thing, it is worth doing this privately, with private funds on private land. If republics have any legitimacy, it is in defending individual rights. Adding propagandistic and eulogizing monuments to the mix of political duties is part of the ancien régime where much effort had to be made to pretend that leaders were gods, or,  at the very least, God’s servants upon the Midgard.

All this notwithstanding, were it up to me, a motto emblazoned upon every legislative house with the words Mundus vult decipi would be more apt than any other maxim, like E pluribus unum or Novus ordo seclorum.

But in politics, truth is not what you lead with.

twv

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‪All my life the majority of smart, educated people have talked up the Left in such a way as to indicate that leftism is “cool.” I still hear it today.

Color me incredulous.img_5132

But I will admit that, long ago‬, this “Left Is Cool” mantra made a modicum of sense.

How?

The Right was moralistic and censorious, in the days of my childhood; the Left, less so, especially when engaging in the left’s sophomoric relativism — though leftists were, I do recall, prone to shouting and marching in “protests,” which they thought were cool but were, instead, cool’s opposite, hot. Right-wingers, on the other hand, paraded their offense-taking regarding sex, drugs, blasphemy and evolution while expressing outrage in moralistic high dudgeon, and always with an undercurrent of an itch to use government as censor, abrogating free speech rights as well as the freedom of the press.

Uncool, man; there is nothing “cool” about moralism and the suppression of free speech.

Today, this has been completely reversed. The Left is now utterly dominated by shrill, moralistic would-be censors, and the traditional leftist protest — all the shouting — has turned into mob-action shout-down brigades. Free speech as a political commitment has utterly evaporated left of center, with Yes But-ing everywhere:

We’re for free speech, yes . . . but hate speech isn’t free speech, and free speech isn’t freedom from the consequences of speech!

Not being complete morons, leftists elide the threat implicit in their idea of “legitimate” consequences (“you speak and we will get you fired, or worse”) and never acknowledge the sheer contemptuous hatred on their part when going off on each habitual iteration of a “hate speech” rap.

img_1711Why did the Left descend into moralism while the Right ascend to free speech advocacy?

Two words: cultural power.

Long ago the Left captured the commanding heights of the culture. And that, my friends, is power. And power, every schoolboy knows, corrupts.

Those who try to consolidate their power become censorious and moralistic. It is as natural as were their demands for freedom when they were out of power.

Similarly, the Right has been expelled from the key cultural positions. Out of power, right-wingers naturally swing to freedom.

It is the first law of political liberty: Out of power, people say they want freedom; in power, they try to secure more power, often in the cause of “security,” sometimes in the name of “justice” or “equality,” occasionally even taking “liberty” in vain . . . for those with power over others, liberty must run against the grain.

Now we see how “radicals” become “conservatives,” and conservatives radicalize. It depends on their relevant contexts, their situations. And the context that matters most? Power — propinquity to power; quantity of power; scope of power. The more you have, the less liberty means to you.

img_1174And why is that?

Because liberty is a sort of equilibrium of force. It is the condition where, by rule of law or custom, force is not initiated against others, each being free from initiated force. And coercive force is the most obvious form of power. When you lack it, the argument for liberty seems clear: let us share power equally. But when you possess it, giving it up to allow others to share? Well, that seems counter-intuitive at best.

We live in an interesting moment, because right now the Left is at apogee and is thus filled with the confidence that dominance provides.

Not radical any longer, leftists instead aim to conserve power (even if by overkill, pushing the envelope of their instinctive socialism). Thus they are now the conservatives. Further, their dominance being so well established, they have become hubristic. Add to this the recent multi-pronged attacks upon them, and no wonder they have become hysterical.

Pride goeth before a fall. Expect a legitimation cascade — an authority collapse —  soon. Or else tyranny. Or first the one, then the other.

twv

Hillary and Donald both represent villainy as seen by their respective opposing sides.

Indeed, they seem called up out of Central Casting.

Central Casting has been taken over by Grim Ironists, Inc.
img_0938
Donald Trump is the corrupting, womanizing, vulgar Evil Capitalist as imagined by the Left for decades, if not centuries. He is Simon Legree for the Age of Celebrity. From his gropings to his breaches of contract, he fulfills every common man’s fear of the rich man. And he is rich enough that even your average richman Democrat can think of him as “too rich.” This is the Devil as imagined by insecure urbanites.

Too rich is right!

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is the corrupt insider worried about by normal citizens (folks with normal jobs and families). She personifies the use of a common trust (working for government) as a means for self-advancement at others’ expense. Scandal after scandal shows a dark strain of avarice combined with an elitism that secures the cultural cachet to cover up all enormities. And as if to conform to every stereotype, not only does she demonstrate a recklessness with the rules (the emails), her scandals include both those of outright corruption (cattle futures as quid-pro-quo bribes) and sexual misconduct (covering up for her powerful husband’s many flashings, gropings, and even accusations of rape). She has it all. She is the rural/suburbanite’s Devil incarnate, the abuser of the public trust par excellence.

Yes, it’s all here, folks!

It’s as if the Anointed One, Hillary Clinton, taken up as the Center Left/cultural progressive avatar heedless of likely backlash — the de rigueur advocate for dim class interests under cover of scarcely believable “common good” rhetoric — was designed for no better purpose than to thumb the nose and raise the middle finger to Center Right/cultural traditional values. Her selection was inevitably provocative in a way even Obama’s (a “community organizer” with a long history of far left connections) was not, for she does not represent to her enemies anything earnest or sincere, not even plausibly so.

And so, if one side conjures up as their Messiah their opposition’s Devil, then why should that other side not call up the opposing Devil? And that’s precisely how it turned out. It is as if the night mind of traditional America saw the writing on the wall (Mene, mene, tekel, parsin) and not seeing Darius riding in to unseat the Corrupt, drew from the depths a Nemesis to mirror the enemy.

You fight fire with fire; you fight missiles with missiles: you fight the Devil with the Devil’s Own Shadow Fiend.

Or so goes the night mind of modern politics, a rich vein of paranoia, hatred, and suspicion transformed into a travesty of idealism. Here, the shadows of two ways of life are mounted upon high horses under the gonfalons of Hope and Justice and The American Way, propped up by shit shovels.

Nothing could be clearer. Has not some literary critic already drawn out the archetypes here? The theme is clear: it is all borne of values upturned. The roots are raised as leaf and branch, and the green has been stuffed into the manure. Calling Hieronymous: we need the right kind of realism here.

This is the Election from Hell, where bipartisan democracy has finally abandoned all sense and both sides praise Evil and battle Evil and mire themselves further in Evil, ensuring only Evil. Both sides having cut themselves so far off, in their imaginations and empathy, from their opponents, the two now can only see the worst, and, seeing only the worst, prop up as the Good what the other side sees as Evil, calling it a Day.

Name the Day. Go ahead, name it. I dare you.

The next question, as Theodore Sturgeon of Sturgeon’s Law liked to say . . . What is the next question?

It is not whether Democracy or The Republic can survive. It is: should either? Or both? Or none?

twv