October 26, 2007

"The Thing Must Go Its Course..."

As feeble and inadequate as they are, I offer my apologies once again for my absence here. My health continues to be completely rotten, and other factors have weighed heavily on my mind and spirit. To explain my general frame of mind, I offer here part of a message I sent to a dear friend, a friend of fiercely independent and brilliantly perceptive intellect, who writes with a depth of both passion and compassion that is extraordinarily rare, and precious beyond measure. I've omitted certain parts of the message, since they might identify this person and because they're none of your business. I've added a few links to some relevant essays here; they obviously were not in the email:
As long as you are determined to tell the truth -- and I regret to inform you, that will be as long as you live -- the other truth I mentioned in that (still) latest essay is operative: almost no one wants to hear it. This is especially true of the liberal-progressive "mainstream." They are wedded to their idiotic belief in the stupid, childish vision of America, an America that is still noble if flawed, still capable of being fully redeemed -- if only the "right" people were in power, which is to say, if the "right" Democrats were in power. They refuse to surrender this belief, since it is tied to the primitive, militantly anti-intellectual, determinedly ignorant tribalism that has subsumed their entire sense of personal identity.

I realize now that, if there is any hope for "saving" this country (and there isn't, but you know that), it lies with "ordinary" Americans, that is, those people who are basically decent and, by and large, completely uninvolved in politics. But since they are so uninvolved in that sense (they do have lives to lead and families to support, after all), they do not begin to appreciate the great danger we're in, and they will do nothing to avert it. But I've concluded that those who are politically involved to a great extent -- including almost all bloggers, of right and left -- are among the very worst. In logic and in fact, they must be among the most corrupt intellectually. They've placed their bets on a system that they refuse to acknowledge is rotten at its core and at the foundation. To give that up would be to die psychologically as far as they're concerned. So they must exert more and more effort to defend the indefensible, they must erect ever larger and higher walls to ward off unwelcome knowledge, and they become progressively stupider. (Ah, finally a valid use for the term "progressively"!) By the way, you and I are very different from these political bloggers in a crucial respect. As we've discussed, we read, think and write about politics only because we feel we *must*, that in a certain vital sense we have no choice about it. We would much prefer to be engaged in writing of a very different kind. But these people actually *like* it. Think about the kind of person that is, deep in his soul, who actually *likes* the kind of politics we see today.

You see all this very clearly in the behavior of the progressive bloggers with regard to the D.C. Democrats -- and you see it in the almost complete lack of response to my last essay. NO ONE will help to try to stop an attack on Iran (six or seven people who've written to me excepted, and no one with a way to reach the kind of fundraising audience required). In addition to being corrupt, they are the worst and most obvious kind of liar: they do not care about any of the things they *say* they care about -- avoiding more war, personal liberty, etc. -- with one exception: they most certainly *do* care about electing more Democrats. More and better ones, of course. They are despicable. And the truth is the one thing they absolutely refuse to consider, about the Democrats, about the United States, and about any other subject of importance.

I'm very sorry I didn't respond sooner, and that I've been out of touch. In addition to feeling like shit, I've been deeply depressed by the realization that there truly is no hope for any kind of "popular resistance" to our course, however unlikely of success such resistance would be. I still find it close to impossible to fully comprehend that people won't even *try*. But as a beloved friend (now deceased) once said to me about a different but similar issue: If you did understand it, Arthur, you'd be *like* them. Be glad, she said, that you don't fully understand it. I will never understand how someone can be alive, and not even *try*.

I'm also consumed by guilt: people gave very generously, and I haven't written a damned thing this month. I don't know what to say to them. Well, I'll try to get back to writing in the next few days, and slowly make amends for my prolonged absence.

I'm sorry I don't have better news or words of encouragement on any front. But that is where I am and, I fear, where we all are now.
To these remarks, I add two brief excerpts from Martin Mayer's, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945. Longer excerpts and more discussion of these issues will be found in my essay, "Thus the World Was Lost."
"You know," he went on, "when men who understand what is happening--the motion, that is, of history, not the reports of single events or developments--when such men do not object or protest, men who do not understand cannot be expected to. How many men would you say understand--in this sense--in America? And when, as the motion of history accelerates and those who don't understand are crazed by fear, as our people were, and made into a great 'patriotic' mob, will they understand then, when they did not before?

"We learned here--I say this freely--to give up trying to make them understand after, oh, the end of 1938, after the night of the synagogue burning and the things that followed it. Even before the war began, men who were teachers, men whose faith in teaching was their whole faith, gave up, seeing that there was no comprehension, no capacity left for comprehension, and the thing must go its course, taking first its victims, then its architects, and then the rest of us to destruction...."
"Americans have never known anything like this experience--in its entirety, all the way to the end. That is the point."

"You must explain," I said.

"Of course I must explain. First of all, there is the problem of the lesser evil. Taking the [German fidelity] oath was not so evil as being unable to help my friends later on would have been. But the evil of the oath was certain and immediate, and the helping of my friends was in the future and therefore uncertain. I had to commit a positive evil, there and then, in the hope of a possible good later on. The good outweighed the evil; but the good was only a hope, the evil was a fact."
No, the United States will not collapse into a dictatorship exactly like that of Nazi Germany. Each society that has passed the point of no return collapses in its own way, depending on the specifics of tradition, culture, and particular political institutions. And, for example, fascism was not identical in Germany and Italy, or Spain, or a number of other countries.

Almost all of you have made accommodation with evil. You deny that it is evil, but overwhelming evidence of that fact surrounds you on all sides. The evidence cannot be avoided, although you spend most of your days and almost all your energy trying to do precisely that.

The majority of you who might read this deserve to go to hell. You won't even try to stop what is coming, even though certain courses of action still remain open to you. Unfortunately, you will take many other people with you, people who do not deserve the fate you have done so much to earn. And so, "the thing must go its course," in time taking all of us to destruction. That ultimate result may come quickly or slowly, over a period of decades if we are lucky. Of one thing you may be certain: an attack on Iran will significantly hasten the destruction in numerous ways, both abroad and at home.

And most of you won't even try to stop it. My contempt for all such people is impossible of measurement, and incapable of proper expression.

Still, I will continue writing, and writing about politics and certain crucial cultural and psychological issues. It's what I do now. It strikes me as futile, and almost absurdly comic. And I will begin my long-promised series on contemporary political tribalism in the next several days, because those issues must be explained in an attempt to clarify many other subjects. It truly is absurd, though. I have only several hundred reliable, daily readers and, no matter what I do, I will never have more. I never did, even when I regularly posted several times a day. I'm too "negative," too "extreme." I'm a "troublemaker." I hope that last is true; if it is, it fills me with tremendous pride. It's not that I set out to cause trouble -- but events, and most of you, left me no choice.

So, writing is what I do. Back soon.