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Quest for Revolutionary Community

In recent weeks, we have been accosted by scenes of mayhem in our great cities. Statues toppled, businesses looted and destroyed, public property seized and occupied. What do the looters and rioters want? The answer, in short, is community. Bear with me while I sort this out. 

Bill Smith’s excellent essay “Understanding Antifa” offers an account of the origin of thought and action of our present revolutionaries in the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau, reflecting the spirit of Irving Babbitt’s critique of Rousseau and Rousseauian politics. Smith’s analysis is impeccable, focusing on how these present-day revolutionaries have imbibed the revolutionary ethos of the French Jacobins and does much to explain the violence that we are seeing today. I want to offer a similar analysis but drawing instead from the twentieth century sociologist and prophet of community Robert Nisbet to understand that what we are seeing in a wholesale rejection of the laws, history, and culture of our particular political society is not a rejection of community per se, but a destructive form of man’s eternal search for community. 

Nisbet is most famous for his thesis in The Quest for Community (1953) that the motivations of human beings are largely communal and that the structure of modern political and economic order makes meaningful community difficult for many people, driving them to pursue unhealthy forms of community in totalitarian states or withdrawing into alienation and anomie. Why is the drive for community so strong in the individual? For Nisbet, it is because human beings are essentially social beings. The fear of being alone is the primary driver of human thought and action. Since the fall of the kinship group as essentially the sole organizational model for human community, human beings have sought community in other ways. 

Nisbet defines the revolutionary community as “fundamentally political in character: concerned with the calculated overthrow of some existing political order, using as much force and terror as are deemed necessary to effect radical changes in men’s moral, economic, social, and intellectual lives.”

Twenty years after publishing Quest, Nisbet published The Social Philosophers: Community & Conflict in Western Thought (1973), an unjustly neglected book. The Social Philosophers, like much of Nisbet’s work, pursued the same theme as Quest, but he organized the volume around various conceptions of community. His argument is that Western social philosophy is largely the quest for community in forms of politics, religion, and war. The great works of Western philosophy have been written in times of perceived social breakdown, of widespread alienation, and each is an attempt to overcome social breakdown with a vision of the true community. Plato’s Republic was written during the decline of the polis providing a “lasting portrait of the political community” that has influenced every major work of politics since. Augustine’s City of God was written after the sack of Rome and the crisis of empire. Lasting community could not be found in the city of man, so, Augustine concludes, true community is the religious community found in the City of God. Likewise, in times of  external threat, many found communal refuge in the warband whose chieftain not only provided a robust source of authority for individual warriors, but also liberation from the authority of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the traditional families. This is true of the Caesars, rising at the end of two centuries of external and civil wars that had undermined the filial foundations of the old republic and it has been true many other times in history. 

Politics, religion, and war, these three forms of community have vied for personal allegiance for thousands of years. Today, each one is associated with established institutions, the military, the political order, and the plethora of religious institutions that permeate our society. Many people seek community in one of these forms. But, for some, community is to be found in challenges to these institutions, which takes two forms: withdrawal from the dominant political, religious, and military institutions (i.e. seeking monastic and related forms of community) and revolution, an overturning of traditional institutions. When ascendant, this latter form of community takes on properties of war, politics, and religion with the goal of total transformation of society and a complete rejection of the institutions associated with these older forms of community.

Nisbet defines the revolutionary community as “fundamentally political in character: concerned with the calculated overthrow of some existing political order, using as much force and terror as are deemed necessary to effect radical changes in men’s moral, economic, social, and intellectual lives.” The political state has only been the potential source of total social control and social reconstruction since the eighteenth century, the very type of reconstruction sought by revolutions. This makes political power especially important to partisans of the revolutionary community. But the revolutionary community is more than political, it is religious and military as well. Political transformation is the end goal of revolutionary community, but the overwhelming zeal of the revolutionaries is thoroughly religious and their tactics and ethos often military. We see this in demands of public repentance and prayer as well as the sartorial preference for jackboots and military fatigues.  

Violence isn’t just necessary, it is good—as long as it serves the ends of the revolution. All oppressions, all acts of indecency, are righteous, all are acts of virtue if they are done on behalf of the revolution.

Nisbet provides seven elements of the revolutionary community. Each can be seen in actions of our current revolutionaries that otherwise seem curious and even contradictory. The first element is myth, “some form of goodness lying in human nature or in society, requiring only the liberative action of revolutionary violence to become manifest and dominant. This myth of human goodness is so absolute and so essential to human nature that any institution that seems to weigh upon human beings must be exterminated.” The police, religion, local government, local businesses, neighborhood associations, all of these have provided examples of oppression to the revolutionary mind. The good they may incidentally produce, such as police patrols making for safer streets in minority neighborhoods, is irrelevant. They are intrinsically corrupt and therefore they must be destroyed. Reform is inadequate.

Second is the necessity of violence. Revolutionary movements all “declare violence and force, even all-out war and terror.” Lenin was critical of other European socialists who did not embrace all violence that advanced the workers’ revolution. In our own situation, consider the destruction of small businesses by rioters and looters, which disproportionately hurts those who do not wield political power or have responsibility for powerful social institutions. Our current revolutionaries are in lockstep with their forebears. Nisbet writes, “[T]rue social change requires revolution; revolution is unthinkable without violence, hence violence is necessary.” 

The third element is the holiness of sin. Violence isn’t just necessary, it is good—as long as it serves the ends of the revolution. All oppressions, all acts of indecency, are righteous, all are acts of virtue if they are done on behalf of the revolution. “Acts such as murder, kidnapping, treason, torture, mutilation, vandalism, and arson” are not sinful, they “take on the quality of nothing short of holy when committed in the name of revolution.” 

The holiness of sin in the name of revolution explains the curious phenomenon of how black police officers have been treated by white protesters and the relative lack of concern over the deaths of black police officers and civilians in the wake of widespread violence. Normally, white youths shouting at black men (required by their professional situation to be silent) would be the very substance of despicable racism and racial privilege, but in the name of revolution, this behavior is apparently right and good. The deaths of many innocents over the last month are but the necessary cracking of eggs in making the revolutionary omelet. 

Which brings us to the fourth element of the revolutionary community, terror. As a strategy of control, terror has been utilized for millennia. Consider the mass execution following the sack of a recalcitrant city by nearly every conqueror in history or the Roman practice of crucifixion. They are done to set an example, to instill terror in those who would challenge the authority of those in power. Such a strategy works for the maintenance of political power and, since 1789, terror has been a key element in every successful revolution. The mass murder under Stalin and Mao was essential to their success in achieving and maintaining control. 

Nisbet uses the rather chilling metaphor of hot steel applied to a gangrenous wound to illustrate the element of terror. For revolutionaries, terror acts as a cauterizing agent upon the supposed infections of the unjust society that is being overthrown, as a sort of protective quality against the injustices of that society. Terror in the forms of public humiliation, threats, and death can be effective means of change, of immunizing the future society from present evils. 

Terror is central to the current crisis. Samuel Gregg among commentators has mused about the relationship between the French Revolution and today’s upheaval. In Seattle, the link was made explicit, with a call to violence against all who opposed the demands of the revolutionaries. One speaker shouted, “Does anybody here know what happened to the people who did not get on board with the French Revolution?”

“CHOPPED,” the crowd responded.

“That is the message we need to send,” the speaker said. 

Even for those who see the violent deaths during riots as lamentable, they have the benefit of instilling terror in the opponents of the revolution. Similarly, the public humiliation of public figures is likewise a form of terror. No person, as a community-seeking being, wishes to be the target of scorn, on his knees, begging pardon from his fellows for his existence. 

The fifth element is totalism. The claims of the revolutionaries are total over its members and over the society it seeks to revolutionize. Like religion, the revolutionary community demands that its members be utterly devoted to the goals of the revolution. Nisbet writes, “No other allegiance, whether to family, nation, or religion, is recognized as warranting the slightest withholding of loyalties to the revolutionary dogma by those sworn to its support. Indeed members of the revolutionary community prove themselves through their willingness to cast off, to renounce publicly, or even to betray relatives, friends, and fellow citizens.” 

Totalism is evident in the curious destruction of Union monuments. Whatever one might think of the destruction of Confederate monuments, at least it makes sense. Victory by the confederacy in the Civil War would have preserved slavery in that part of the world. But the removal (or attempted removal) of memorials to Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and even the Massachusetts 54th? How does that fit in? The revolutionary community demands the total reconstruction of society. That Lincoln and Grant and the Massachusetts 54th were on the right side of the Civil War and the issue of slavery is irrelevant. The crucial point is that they defended a society that needs to be uprooted altogether. The fact that their actions ended a great evil is immaterial. The revolutionary community requires the total reconstruction of society and that means the destruction of all monuments associated with that society. 

Sixth, every revolution is instigated and led by an elite, a vanguard of the revolutionaries. When revolutions come, they do not come through popular uprisings. Nisbet writes, “The heart of every revolution, successful or unsuccessful, lies in small minorities—elites, as they are known in modern social theory—composed of dedicated, often professionally trained individuals, conscious of themselves as communities, and working with technical knowledge as well as moral zeal toward the overthrow of a political order by whatever means are necessary.” The revolutionary community, as Nisbet describes it, begins with persons who see themselves as a community of revolutionaries. Marx was explicit on this point and as with the Jacobins in France, the Communist Party in Russia and China, and Antifa today, there is in the revolutionary community the understanding of the necessity of an elite who plan and drive the revolution. This too follows on the religious community. Just as religions have prophets, as well as sects devoted to particular prophets, so the revolutionary community has an elite, a class of prophets who create and cultivate disciples who carry out their will.

This is not to ignore social and economic conditions of inequality or oppression that cause there to be at least some popular support for the revolutionaries. The severe economic downturn during a world-wide pandemic has put millions out of work, some of whom are desperate and some of whom are bored. Well-publicized bad behavior by police officers (exhibit A: the strangling of George Floyd) give revolutionaries some popular support. Their claims of the prevailing injustice in society have before them a prominent and undeniable example. But this would come to naught without the work of “trained Marxists.” 

Seventh, centralization. Revolutionary communities are not debate societies. The revolutionary community prior to victory is often highly disciplined with a central command structure and no room to brook dissent. Like religious communities, they demand firm adherence to the dogmas of the revolution; and like the military community, they demand strict obedience to the instructions of the revolutionary elite. The result is that those societies that are brought into being through revolution are highly centralized. This was true of post-revolution France as well as of the Communist dictatorships of the twentieth century. 

This element seems much less applicable in our current circumstances due to what we seem to know about that flat organizational structure of antifa “affinity groups.” But what Nisbet is getting at is the rigidity of the revolutionary sect and the centralization of each of those groups. How many members of the antifa groups are allowed to disagree with the use of violence or the calls for the total destruction of capitalist society? Beliefs and order within these groups seems to be centralized in a military manner and religious in intensity of belief and obedience. Their beliefs are consistent and systematic and their actions are organized and coordinated.

The rioters and looters may actually be right on one thing: our social institutions have failed them, but not in the way they think. Our political, religious, and military institutions have failed, for one reason or another, to adequately integrate these persons into meaningful community so they have turned to revolution in word and deed in their quest for community. 

Reader Discussion

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on July 06, 2020 at 07:13:56 am

I have not read the two Nisbet books discussed and appreciate the summary of his thinking on the structure and tactics of revolution, but the author flopped with his last paragraph. Nobody has "failed" the misery-making, miserable cretins who contaminated our streets in June.

And if they are searching for "community" (as the essay argues Nisbet would argue but which I would dispute,) they are looking in all the wrong places. Truly, it is also a stretch to believe Nisbet that the 20th century's totalitarian terrorists were looking for "community" in revolution. Frances 18th century revolutionists, as well as the French revolutionists of the 19th century, were under sway of the 18th century philosophes and those revolutionists were French, so of course we must believe them when they said they were driven by liberte, egalite, fraternite. (France continues to celebrate the mythology while denying the reality of its revolutions, self-delusion being a national trait.) But surely not Lenin and Mao.

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paladin
on July 06, 2020 at 11:02:21 am

"Our political, religious, and military institutions have failed, for one reason or another, to adequately integrate these persons into meaningful community so they have turned to revolution in word and deed in their quest for community. "
Nonsense. One could take from this explanation a belief that our institutions TRIED HARD but, regrettably, failed to "integrate" these miscreants into our community.
Rather, it is those very institutions, or at least the select elite members of the majority of those institutions that CHOSE in a rather determined and purposive manner TO alienate their young charges and ultimately serve as the pawns of a revolutionary vanguard. How, otherwise, does one transform adolescents and young adults (such as that term has come to mean today) historically more interested in a more basic, simple "community", i.e., dating and mating into a an ideologue with the fervor of a newly converted religious zealot.
First, teach the young to hate and despise their own culture.
Second, teach them to despise themselves as "privileged" beneficiaries of that corrupt culture.
Next, provide them a path, a strategy, false yet alluring enough to convince them both of its rightness and its eventual success.
Lastly, LEAD THESE YOUNG SELF LOATHING DUPES wherever one chooses - and that includes the use of violence as a tactic / stratagem.

Yesterday, an eight-year old black girl was killed by gunfire in Atlanta. Have we observed any expressions of remorse? Any moderation of rhetoric / demands, etc?
Where is the outcry from our media, complicit as they are in our current troubles?
No, our institutions DID NOT "FAIL" - they have been in most instances the instigators of these travails.
First they came for.......
When will it be the media's turn - as it surely was in past revolutions and surely will be again?

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gabe
on July 06, 2020 at 13:55:35 pm

Indeed... Whether intentionally or not, our culture of social media and electronic immersion is ultimately alienating, dehumanizing. It is incapable of "integrating", except as the Borg "assimilates". On this planet, perhaps the closest thing to the Borg would be the Chinese surveillance state, and perhaps that is what our tech elites hope to integrate into. Thank God we are still able to resist that assimilation, and thank God that some of us still hold values beyond the materialism which our elites would drown us in.

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cmcc_aus
on July 06, 2020 at 14:03:57 pm

Put me down as a "no" as well. The thesis argued by Professor Sheahan, and reportedly derived from Robert Nisbet, is not up to its ambitions. A pluripotential concept of "community" does not provide satisfactory explanations, either past or present, for social and political disorder. The attempts to make it so are strained and unconvincing.

Refuting each of the several debatable points that are presented as axiomatic in Professor Sheahan's essay (which is well-organized and well-written) would make this comment unduly and discourteously long. In the interests of brevity, I contest two points in particular. The first is that "revolutionaries" are motivated, not by the concept of community, but by the concept of a better community than that which they perceive. This assumption is not justified. Revolutions supposedly motivated by the same consideration that had initially succeeded did not produce a more perfect sense of community; they produced tyranny, atrocity, dystopia and misery. To claim that these all-too predictable results of revolution are the undesirable by-products of otherwise the revolutionary quest for "community," in order to maintain the central argument, is preposterous. The basic premise, that man is a social being is also selective and incomplete. Man is both a social and an antisocial being. The desire for a more satisfying form of community co-exists with a desire to destroy community, with the motive being not the concept of community but the impulse toward destruction. Professor Sheahan starts, in my opinion at the wrong end, trying to reason backward from a hypothetical end to the present ambiguous disorder, and tries to convince us that if we just understood that riots are energetic petitions for better community, it would all make sense. But it does not. The idea that improvement in the current experience of community motivates revolutionary chaos is half-baked. There is, for example no justification given for why the destruction and atrocity of "revolutionary" violence is etiologically different than the violence visited upon innumerable cities and polities by the Mongols, or Ottomans, or Nazis. It is rather that the impulse to violence and senseless destruction precedes airy concepts of Utopian communities rather than results from them.

Secondly, the destruction of Abolitionist statues is not explained by a generic "reject everything" strategy. Rioters seem to retain an inexplicable fondness for some things, such as the cameras on their cell-phones, and the social media platforms on which they share their experience. They seem to tacitly, at least, appreciate hospitals, and spray paint bottled water and especially progressive politicians who are certain that protesters' destruction is reasonable and will not therefore become unreasonable, by say resulting in the deaths of innocent 8 year-olds, or the depredations that occurred in Seattle's downtown area. A simpler explanation is that rioters, or "revolutionaries," or Les Miserables cos-players, or whatever, don't really have a specific goal. Destroying things in the midst of affluence and prosperity has a psychological, reptilian motive. The experience of it is an end in itself. They think they can have their romantic fantasies of the destruction of civilization, and all of the benefits and comforts that civilization provides. They are content to leave it to those such as Mr, Nisbet to provide intellectual justification for their actions.

There may, of course, be persons motivated as Professor Sheahan suggests, by some gaseous and romantic notion of community. I would not be surprised, however if you could count the number of such persons on your fingers. Like most things in life, the explanation for such phenomena as Professor Sheahan discusses are paradoxically both simpler and more complex than described. They are simpler because they are part of Nature, and more complex because humans mistakenly think that they understand them.

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z9z99
on July 06, 2020 at 16:33:55 pm

From playwright Peter Weiss' play on Marat, the Marquis de Sade, the French Revolution, human nature and mental illness:
“What's the point of a revolution without general
copulation copulation copulation... ”

Does that describe revolutionary community? Charlie Manson actually led a small revolutionary community set on copulation, psychedelic drugs and race war. Our penal institutions "failed" in not jailing him for life at age 10; our baby-killing institutions in not aborting him (post-natally) at age 9. Perhaps some true believers in his revolutionary community were on the streets last month.
BTW: they got Fr. Serra who fought for the human dignity of Native Americans; did the miserable purveyors of misery also upend Mother Theresa? She was Christian, and many of the faithful on both sides of the pulpit during the Confederacy invoked Christ in support of slavery.

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paladin
on July 06, 2020 at 18:05:25 pm

The subtlety of your point is noted, but I would respectfully suggest that it is not needed. Copulation is at least something that can be identified with specificity, and apart from some rather rare deviations, understood by most people to mean pretty much the same thing. This is in contrast to such abstract and amorphous things such as "community," "justice," or most egregiously, "change." We are told we need to have a "conversation" about race, and oppression and privilege, but are expected to do so using only vague, slippery words. Let's call them malleologisms; words the meaning of which can be changed to suit the interests of the more aggressive participant in the "conversation." When we are advised that black lives matter, we would like to have at least some confidence that we are dealing with a general principle and not something situational. When we note that it takes on the form of a proper noun by capitalization, we should be allowed to observe that it is used as a term of art, not to mean literally that black lives matter, but that "Black Lives Matter In the Proper Context." Likewise, the burden of proving that the phrase "all lives matter" is objectionable remains on those who call it such, and it is not unreasonable to treat those claims with skepticism.

Even John Lennon, in Imagine said "We'd all love to see the plan," meaning that we'd like some specifics about what the end result of all this change is supposed to be. "Justice?" Well, can we get some clarification as to what that means? The end of "systemic racism?" Okay, I can buy that, if someone would be a bit clearer about which system or systems that are is the source of the mischief. Is it the system in which the speed of light in a vacuum is constant, regardless of the motion of the observer? Is that oppressive, or is perhaps rare humility that concedes that violent revolution may yield unsatisfactory changes to the nature of the Universe? Is it the system that relies on mitochondria, and the fact that Earth's atmosphere is 21% oxygen to generate mammalian energy that is the problem? No? Well how about the system that allows a person to access running water from inside his own home, and that does not contain his neighbors fecal material? Does that need to be changed in the name of justice? Or is it the system that allows communication in real time with nearly anyone on the planet that needs to be reformed? How about the system that allows anyone, regardless of, well anything, as long as they are persons, to be evaluated in an emergency room, or be transported by helicopter to specialized care from literally anywhere in the United States? Is it the system that develops treatment for HIV, and hepatitis C and childhood leukemia that needs to be destroyed and rebuilt? Why or why not? Personally think I am entitled to know which systems or subsystems are racist, and in which ways, before being expected to acquiesce in their destruction. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect specificity. There doesn't seem to be any problem talking about "social justice," or "environmental justice," or "racial justice," to parse out any number of concepts in need of our attention, so it should be pretty easy to find appropriate adjectives to identify those systems in need of reform. If we are going to distinguish "systemic"racism from the other kinds, it seems a small thing to ask which systems we are talking about.

There are no doubt episodes of racism, and episodes that may be racism, and those that are incorrectly identified as racism but aren't. I don't think it is hateful or impolite to note that there are reasons for this besides the racist nature of a poorly defined, abstract "system." A reasonable person cannot be expected to have sympathy for demands for justice, without knowing what the plaintiff means by that word. A reasonable person is allowed to note that the same activist will be dismissive of "fragility," while also claiming "micro-aggressions" are grave offenses. Either the term "fragility" or "micro-aggression" needs some clarification.

The present "revolution" is an orgy of vagueness and abiguity, held aloft by gassy and substanceless rhetoric, and propelled by irrational and ill-disciplined passions.

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z9z99
on July 06, 2020 at 18:24:51 pm

Z is correct. there is, to certain types, something *edifying* about destruction. And even if, as Sheehan avers, there is some nascent urge for community to be discovered within the ranks of these miscreant poseurs, the need for the edifying cleansing of violence, fire and destruction is, perhaps, the far more dominant urge.

Also, it strikes me that Sheehan while obliquely critiquing Rousseau, commits the same error as that Frenchman of old, i.e., assuming that which needs to be proven - that man is not just a social animal as he asserts but contained within SHEEHANS assertion in this instance, is that same old Rousseauian falsity that man is essentially good, kind, humane and unselfish.
Regrettably, History, or as Z argues NATURE belies that claim.
These little shits care naught for community other than that which they perceive as providing self aggrandizement / justification to themselves.
Note also how the morons in CHAZ / CHOP sent out lists for various essentials to the outside world - not unlike a parasite upon the back of a whale.

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gabe
on July 06, 2020 at 18:09:05 pm

Okay, boyos (and girlos) here is some evidence supporting our own (meaning LLB commenters today) modest analyses. It is from today's edition of Powerline and features memos from Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Tricky Dick:

https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/07/deja-vu-all-over-again-4.php

For those not inclined to follow the link, I will excerpt some comments:
"“To a degree that no one could have anticipated even three or four years ago [mind you, this was 1968], the educated elite of the American middle class have come to detest their society, and their detestation is rapidly diffusing to youth in general. The effects of this profound movement of opinion will be with us for generations. . .

“What we are facing is the onset of nihilism in the United States…. The three most important points are that nihilists are almost entirely drawn from the educated, even upper classes. They are extremely idealistic, seeing themselves as agents of the purest charity. They are violent in the most extreme ways. . . Nihilist movements typically have led to political regimes of the most oppressive and reactionary qualities. . ."

"“In the best universities the best men are increasingly appalled by the authoritarian tendencies of the left. The inadequacies of traditional liberalism are equally unmistakable, while, not least important, the credulity, even the vulgarity of the supposed intellectual and social elite of the country has led increasing numbers of man and women of no especial political persuasion to realize that something is wrong somewhere."

Sadly, currently, the "best men" are now FOR nihilism.
Bloody bleepin' disaster!

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gabe
on July 06, 2020 at 19:49:35 pm

Good rhetoric from a man who always talked a good game but never walked the walk when he was in the Senate. Stuck with the Dem's almost always as they advanced through the institutions. I also recall Senator Moynihan predicting that in the Middle East Bill Clinton's diplomacy with Arafat would "bring peace in our time." Senator Moynihan went downhill fast in his political principles after he left the Nixon White House. During his Senate career he consistently lacked the courage of his intellect and of the principles he professed to support. After he retired, Hillary ran for his seat and Moynihan waffled as to whether he would endorse her. Of course he did support her (as I knew he would,) and his support of Hillary in her very close first race for the Senate swung the election. When I was working for environmental clients on the Hill I dealt with a cretin who was Senator Moynihan's chief of staff, fella by the name of Kenneth O'Donnell, later and now of MSNBC fame.
You can judge a man by his friends and staffers.
I blame the likes of Moynihan and the Bushes for helping create the mess we're in by mostly doing what they were smart enough to know was wrong for the country.

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paladin
on July 06, 2020 at 20:10:30 pm

Paladin:

Great take and interesting anecdotal evidence of the shallowness and duplicity of those who would presume to be "leader(s)" of this once great polity.

I share both your assessment and dislike of Mr Moynihan.
He, in many respects and owing to the power of his substantial intellect typifies that which we, the American People continue to (s)elect to our Legislative and Executive institutions.
Liars - who, as you say, know better.
Fakers - who pose as protectors of the realm but possess nothing more than a lust for both power and fame and strive for media acclaim for initially their "brilliance" and later (re: SCOTUS) their "maturation."
As for the Bushes, they are in many ways worse than the Clintons as Billy Boy made no real pretense of either his ambitions, his fickleness and fecklessness masquerading as Country Boy good natured humor (not unlike Sen Sam Ervin for those of us old enough to remember). We all KNEW what Billy boy was up to - not so the third rate intellect of George W. It is apparent to all now just how duplicitous W was. The elder Bush may have been smart enough to know what was wrong - but did so anyway.

And we continue to WANT to believe these types.
Is this a lack of courage? a lack of knowledge / history?
Or have we all, at long last either accepted the "promised beneficience" awaiting us upon the fulfillment of theses coundrels promises OR just simply given the F up?
I no longer know and am experiencing another bout of unquietude.
Oh well, a nice bottle of Pepperbridge Merlot (2015) awaits.
Take care
gabe

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gabe
on July 07, 2020 at 10:04:58 am

This string of comments on "revolutionary community" is so very productive that I hate to let it die. I will add just one more comment as to what the recent protests mean to college educated white participants, the "useful idiots" of Black Lives Matter. I agree President Trump's statement at Mount Rushmore that many protesters do not really know what they're protesting, but others know exactly what they're doing.

To that end, I was searching the web for news stories of BLM protests in the small community where I went to college and found this quotation of a protester who is both a college-educated Caucasian and a university official: “It’s not about black lives mattering to me, black lives matter and I get the statement but it’s about the normalcy of me being valued and not being — I don’t need your approval, the fact that you want to love me and support me and understand my pain, that’s about us coming together as a community,” Murphy said. “Where I can keep my most authentic voice and share my most authentic voice without worrying about, without thinking about my need for your approval, knowing that you are my brother, knowing that you are my sister and you don’t look like me but it also being OK with my homogeneous group us coming together and talking about our pain and our heterogeneous family right there supporting us, that’s dope.”

Perhaps the absence of meaning has never been more clearly stated.

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paladin
on July 07, 2020 at 17:05:05 pm

As codicil to my comment on "gratitude," I should explain, briefly, that "homily" should be added as a new category of discourse so as to de-secularize the discussion of values, law, science, philosophy, economics and politics and expand the discussion's scope beyond the reach of secular reason alone, faith in secular reason alone having proven to be a major historical error and the source of disintegrating pluralism and soul-crushing materialism rather than a progressive, unifying cure-all.

Intelligent, dare I say it, enlightened religious understandings abound which offer profound insights into human life and meaning and which have not been overturned but rendered imperative by modernity's hyper-individualism and postmodernity's moral skepticism and political subjectivism.

These religious understandings have simply been banished from polite intellectual discussion and institutional debate in so far as such things continue to exist. Homily, an essay/sermon form of rhetoric and as an easy-to-understand articulation of theology, is well-suited to help in the de-secularization task.

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paladin

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