The Revolution Is Upon Us

Hard-left progressives are telling anybody who will listen that the 2020 riots and pandemic have handed them the opportunity they’ve always needed to transform America. What they want is a revolution “in the minds of the people,” not unlike the one John Adams said led to 1776, though to attain opposite ends.

The question is, will Americans from the right and center listen, grasp that progressives mean what they say, and realize that the country might change into something unrecognizable?

The warnings (or threats) are everywhere and difficult to miss. They come neatly folded into a very instructive conversation held in August by four charter members of the hard left—Alicia Garza, founder of Black Lives Matter; Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of the New York Times’ 1619 Project; Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino; and historian Martha Jones. The conversation was held to mark the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which told the states they could not prevent women from voting.

The exchange was eerily instructive. One almost gets the sense of what it must have been to eavesdrop on the Founders at 1776 or the Framers at 1787, as they envisioned a new order replacing a passing one. Except in reverse, of course—all the gains in human freedom achieved through the Declaration and the Constitution would unravel if the four discussants got their way.

Just as colonists based their worldview on the ideas of thinkers that had preceded them, such as the Englishmen William Blackstone and John Locke and the Frenchman Montesquieu, today’s woke progressives take their ideological marching orders from European thinkers of decades ago, such as the Italian Antonio Gramsci and the German-American Herbert Marcuse.

This means that, just as the writings of James Wilson and Thomas Jefferson are made clearer by having a grounding in their Enlightenment philosophical forebears, to understand the language of today’s left it is important to grasp how 20th century Critical Theorists viewed the world.

The Gramscian Dream

It is clear, too, that leftists see 2020 and the immediately preceding decade as providing the same environment-changing events as the 1760s did for the colonists.

To John Adams, the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and especially the Writs of Assistance, had caused in the minds of the colonists a shift in the way they viewed the provenance of their rights during the crucial 15 years prior to Lexington. At the end of that period, they no longer viewed their rights as those of Englishmen, but coming from nature, an Enlightenment idea. “What do we mean by the Revolution? The War? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an Effect and Consequence of it. The Revolution was in the Minds of the People, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775,” wrote Adams to Jefferson years later, in 1815.

Today, leftists believe the nine-minute martyrdom of George Floyd in May, and the astute use of its video recording by BLM, combined with the way the pandemic has asymmetrically affected different demographic groups, provide them with the spark to burn down the old America. This is not the Civil Rights idea of letting black Americans access the American Dream. The goal now is to replace the Enlightenment view, upon which that Dream was based, that the individual can observe pre-political rights such as the right to free speech or property in nature, with a Gramscian one which spurns individual agency and emphasizes collective action. The pandemic and the riots are their version of the Writs of Assistance.

One way to get there, they tell us openly, is by convincing people who have immigrated from other lands that the very conditions that attracted them here in the first place are harmful and have victimized them, and that we must replace these conditions with different ways to redistribute wealth.

They are clearly also betting that the COVID-19 pandemic will alter forever the way we conduct business in America, and say that they can use the moment to introduce that redistributive new order.

But by far the most important goal of their project is to use the twin 2020 tragedies to alter the very storyline of America, to delegitimize what has been the general culture of the country since the founding and the framing. Once that is done, they can effect systemic change.

Let No Crisis Go to Waste

The left’s already existing dominance of the culture-making institutions will make its effort to determine which beliefs and ideas are spread through society a relatively easy task—much easier than it would be for conservatives to mount a counter-attack, even if they were to realize what is afoot. So far, the right and the center have allowed the hard left almost monopoly control over the media, entertainment, and the academy, a reality that has become even more acute since George Floyd’s death.

The crucial work of indoctrinating the initially reluctant base is carried out first by organizers. Kumar provides us with a window into how that work is done.

“The challenge with the work that I do at Voto Latino is that I can’t get people agitated because often times they don’t know the great harm that has happened under the structures that we have been raised by,” she said. “But once they start understanding it and recognizing it, they act and react, and fight and run for office.”

Taken together with another comment by Kumar that Latinos are “a community that is for the most part a first generation community, that does not understand the ropes,” we can see that she sees Voto Latino’s mission as instilling into immigrants grievances about the country that took them in.

Kumar added that “the latest example” of how the Latino vote could be activated was “the tragic death of George Floyd. At Voto Latino, we knew that … Black Lives Matter is in allyship with the African American community and the Latino community. We immediately switched all of our digital program to connect voting and protest, and we were able to register over 97,000 people in less than 17 days, because people found that in the Latino community that that was an issue for them.”

COVID-19 has helped, too. Black Americans have suffered in disproportionately high numbers, and to the activists, this unequal outcome, as any other, can only be the result of systemic racism. “It’s taken … a pandemic that’s lasted less than 90 days, for us to expose the institutional racism that we talk about,” said Kumar.

While Kumar’s way off about the percentage of the foreign-born (it’s about a third, according to Pew), she clearly understands her role as a member of the Revolutionary Vanguard. To appreciate Kumar’s work, we must understand the intellectual influences that laid the groundwork.

From Immigrants to Vassals?

The idea that an ideological elite must inculcate feelings of victimhood and resentment into the masses—for otherwise they will not rebel and overthrow the system—has been around for at least a century. In 1916, the Italian communist leader Antonio Gramsci wrote that a revolutionary consciousness would not be formed “under the brutal goad of physiological necessity, but as a result of intelligent reflection, at first by just a few people and later by a whole class, on why certain conditions exist and how best to convert the facts of vassalage into triggers of rebellion and social reconstruction.”

It is thus to trigger rebellion that immigrants must discover that they struggle under conditions of vassalage in their new country; otherwise they will go on busily building their lives. “Every revolution has been preceded by an intense labor of criticism, by the diffusion of culture and the spread of ideas amongst masses of men who are at first resistant, and think only of solving their own immediate economic and political problems for themselves, who have no ties of solidarity with others in the same condition,” Gramsci wrote.

His main idea was the Theory of Cultural Hegemony. The Vanguard had to destroy society’s entire “Hegemonic Narrative” and replace it with a “Counter-Narrative.”

Herbert Marcuse, a German-born hero of the New Left in America in the 1960s, built on Gramsci’s work. He, too, despaired that the worker, this time in his new home, was too contented: “The people find themselves in their commodities: they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment.”

Without the indoctrination that revolutionary vanguard groups like Voto Latino carry out, the participation of the working class in the political process would not only be insufficient, but even be counterproductive. “Where these [working] classes have become a prop of the established way of life, their ascent to control would prolong this way in a different setting,” wrote Marcuse.

Or, as Angela Davis, a student of Marcuse at Brandeis in the 1960s (and today, tellingly, an important mentor to Alicia Garza), told a packed auditorium at UVA in 2018, “Diversity without changing the structure, without calling for structural formation, simply brings those who were previously excluded into a process that continues to be as racist, as misogynist as it was before.”

That is why individuals cannot be allowed to attempt to solve what problems they have, but must be herded into an aggrieved collective that then has an incentive to overthrow the system. The individual is the centerpiece of the Lockian Enlightenment; the aggrieved collective category takes center stage under Critical Theory.

“All liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude,” wrote Marcuse. At Voto Latino’s website, 12 liberal top-line issues ranging from “Police Brutality” to “Reproductive Justice,” portray America as a land of iniquity, and everywhere there are tabs to help the now-woke reader register to vote.

Smashing “White Supremacy”

But what kind of liberation? To Marcuse it was Marxist central planning. Garza and her cohorts agree. Throughout the mid-August discussion with Kumar and the others, Garza returns repeatedly to the idea that the pandemic will make it easier to rewrite America’s entire organizational model and find a different way to distribute resources.

The use of “white supremacy” is, thus, a very successful example of the left’s use of strategic ambiguity in the pursuit of a rather large and ambitious goal. The target is a free-market system that rewards hard work, ability and other virtuous traits.

“Frankly, what we are able to do in this moment, that maybe weren’t as well positioned to do four months ago, is use the opportunity of crisis to actually usher in a new way of being with each other,” she said. This new way would enable “the ability to distribute resources in such a way where nobody gets left behind … distribute resources in such a way where everybody has and nobody is left out.”

This holistic transformation of society must first undo “white supremacy,” and how the “narratives of white supremacy” have “been so successful in using the language of effort, ability and agency, right, to keep people from supporting the black people’s struggle for liberation.”

“I think we are all clear that the kind of change that we need right now, is the kind of change that rejects the ways in which our lives were organized and tries to put into place a new way of organizing ourselves,” Garza added. This change must drive “back underground and frankly into oblivion white nationalism and white supremacy.”

But what do Garza and all the other members of the ultra-progressive left mean by the ubiquitous term “white supremacy”?

It is hard to come up with a single instance where Garza gives an actual definition of what she means by it. This is odd, given that she spends a great deal of time talking about how to combat white supremacy, make it extinct and replace with it with a counter-narrative.

Such opacity must be on purpose. Usage of the term provides insulation from analysis and criticism. Who could oppose anyone fighting “white supremacy?”

Upon further reflection, in fact, it becomes apparent that “white supremacy” has become the term of art that the American left uses to depict American culture. It is not the vile racial superiority preached by the rancid minds at the KKK or the American Nazi Party, but something that is in fact its opposite: how the modern world is ordered.

When Garza, Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Patrice Cullors, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hannah-Jones and the other charter members of the ultra-left speak of overthrowing “white supremacy” what they really mean is replacing America’s economic and cultural system with one that redistributes wealth, no longer has the individual at its center and recognizes only government-granted positive rights, not pre-political natural rights. The use of “white supremacy” is, thus, a very successful example of the left’s use of strategic ambiguity in the pursuit of a rather large and ambitious goal. The target is a free-market system that rewards hard work, ability and other virtuous traits.

Consider, for example, what Garza told a room-full of Maine progressives during a visit to the Pine Tree State last year: “Change requires changing ourselves so that we can change what’s happening around us. When we talk about fighting white nationalism, fighting white supremacy, we’re not talking about fighting white people. We’re talking about changing how we’ve organized this country, so that we actually can achieve the justice that we are fighting for. I believe we all have work to do to keep dismantling the organizing principle of this society, which creates inequities for everyone.” (Italics my own.)

This is also clear from an interview Garza gave Mother Jones three years ago, where she said, “Things like renaming holidays and removing statues are really a part of a culture-change strategy that I think is important. But it can’t stop there. We can change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, but if we’re not doing the work to make sure that indigenous nations have sovereignty in this country, or self-determination, or that they have a quality of life that mirrors that which we afford to rich white professionals, then it is merely symbolic. Whether it’s toppling monuments or closing the education gap or closing the school-to-prison pipeline, we need to uproot white supremacy everywhere that it lives.”

That talk of “white supremacy” aims not at David Duke or Richard Spencer, but at William Blackstone and John Locke, can be seen more clearly in the writings of DiAngelo and Coates, who have come closest to defining it.

Unmaking America

Discussing “how sociologists and those involved in the social justice movement” view the term, DiAngelo says in her best-seller “White Fragility” that “white supremacy in this context does not refer to individual white people and their individual intentions or actions but to an overarching political, economic, and social system of domination.”

DiAngelo goes on to say that, “while hate groups that openly proclaim white superiority do exist and this term refers to them also” such a “reductive definition obscures the reality of the larger system at work and prevents us from addressing this system.”

“White supremacy is something much more pervasive and subtle than the actions of explicit white nationalists. White supremacy describes the culture we live in,” writes DiAngelo. “White supremacy has shaped a system of global European domination.” She quotes Charles W. Mills as saying that white supremacy is nothing less than “the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today.”

For Coates, “white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it.”

It is the West’s entire political system that Garza means by “white supremacy;” that is what she wants to drive into oblivion. She urges white liberals first and foremost to abandon the system. “We need you defecting from white supremacy and changing the narrative of white supremacy,” she told a gathering in 2017.

An important question then arises: How close are they to success?

Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project, which rewrites American history to place slavery at the center of the country’s storyline, is a major on-going project of the New York Times Magazine. Named after the year when Africans were first brought as slaves to the colonies, it misleadingly pretends that this date, not 1776, is the true founding of America. This clear attempt at replacing America’s narrative with a counter-narrative is also a curriculum—one already being taught in 4,500 classrooms across the country and adopted by five education districts.

And the long march of the counter-narrative is not limited to these 4,500 classrooms. Sit in any meeting of the local board of education across America and you are likely to hear long diatribes about “equity,” “systemic racism,” “implicit bias,” “culturally responsive teaching,” and other touchstones of the new left. This is being taught to our children from a very young age.

But it isn’t just impressionably young minds in K-12 and above who are imbibing the counter-narrative. Robin DiAngelo spoke on a conference call in early June with 184 Members of the House of Representatives, for what party leaders called a “Democratic Caucus family discussion on race.”

According to the New York Times, since George Floyd’s death, DiAngelo’s inbox has been “flooded with urgent emails: requests to deliver (virtually because of the pandemic) workshops and keynotes at Amazon, Nike, Under Armour, Goldman Sachs. The entreaties went on: Facebook, CVS, American Express, Netflix.”

Shifting the Narrative

Everywhere we look, in fact, it seems that what our four conferees said is coming to fruition: the tenor of the national debate—the thinking of the country, and perhaps its narrative going forward—has shifted. There seems to be a growing acceptance that there is systemic, structural, and institutional racism, and the country’s very system, along with all is structures and institutions, need to be smashed and replaced.

Changing society does not require convincing everybody of the need to do so. A famous experiment conducted in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications demonstrated that the tipping point for a determined and organized minority to change a society’s consensus on norms is 25 percent. “We anticipate that social media spaces of this kind will be an increasingly important setting for extending the findings of our study to understand the role of committed minorities in shifting social conventions,” said the writers.

Whether American society has passed that tipping point yet—some have put it at 10 percent of the population—is unclear. But given Black Lives Matter’s success at using the Floyd tragedy to organize protests and riots nationwide, we know that they are coordinating well.

Not every boy and man who fought at Lexington and Concord, or for the next six years that the war lasted, had heard of Blackstone, Locke, Montesquieu, and the other philosophers who had contributed to the thinking that birthed the country for which they were fighting. While it is a safe bet that Garza, Hannah-Jones and Kumar have heard of Gramsci and Marcuse, surely not many woke Americans have. But they are, nonetheless, foot-soldiers in the cultural war to replace the narrative of ’76 with a new one.

Only by waking up in time might conservatives hope to prevent the deep institutional, structural and systemic overhaul the left lusts after. They will need a strategy that goes beyond economics and the law, the areas where conservatives have always focused their attention, and embraces culture. It is there where the battle now goes. Regaining the commanding heights of the culture should be their number-one goal.

Reader Discussion

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on September 04, 2020 at 09:38:04 am

I am left with the questions - so what, now what? I tried reading Burke's Reflections this summer, and found myself asking those questions. I am a history teacher, and I see the train wreck coming. I know I can speak up, but probably lose my job and maybe my pension. There is an increasing number of people who feel the same. The question is how do we organize a response, at what level and what means? How much does it mean taking to the streets,in an organized, but not violent manner. Many want to speak up, but don't feel empowered to do so. How do regain the political sphere, and how do we use that to pass legislation, but also transit the political cultural systems and ideas needed to maintain them? Do we fight to regain the cultural institutions, or abandon them and start new ones? Some we can't abandon churches, but how do we regain them? Others, such as schools and colleges, can be started anew. So, now what? We can't tell people just want is wrong with the message of the left, buy what is right with our system, structure and ideals.

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Image of Peter
on September 04, 2020 at 21:41:29 pm


With respect, I would suggest the following approach to your various questions regarding "What now?"

1. Start with what you know. Understand your motivation in thinking that a response to "the Revolution " is necessary. You should expect to encounter the accusation that you oppose the current turmoil because it threatens your "privileged" status at the expense of others. Do you think this true? If not, do you have a response to this accusation, and are you willing to express it?

2. Decide what it is worth to you. How bad does the prospect of progressive change have to be before it overcomes your concerns regarding employment and pension? Are you willing to trade off the education of your pupils, or the safety of your work environment for job security, if you think progressive policies threaten them?

3. Avoid caricaturing the other side. Understand that there are valid issues intermingled with a good deal of nutty "Revolutionary" twaddle. I would suggest perhaps that you start here:

James Baldwin, I think on the Dick Cavett show, made the following observation: When Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death," people cheered, both here and in Europe. But if a black man picks up a gun and says the same thing, he is considered threatening.

This seems like a good argument. Do you think this idea has merit? And whether the answer is yes or no, how should it be addressed?

4. Know which progressive arguments do not make sense, and be prepared to meet them. Much of the progressive polemic uses words that are vague, ambiguous, loaded, and demagogic. Which terms are you willing to concede and which are willing to contest? Do you have an objection to the assumption that "systemic racism" is an indisputable fact? Are you willing to tell someone who uses it to silence you that they do not understand the meaning of the term and force them to defend their use of it? How about "whiteness?" "Equity?" Are you willing to argue that appeals to equity are based on a fallacy? Can you defend the accomplishments of the Enlightenment and Western Civilization against capricious slanders based on "race?" Are you willing to gainsay the idea that "silence is violence?" or that your approach to "anti-racism" is superior to Robin DiAngelo's?

5. Understand that politeness and manners are used against you. Are you willing to point out obvious paradoxes in progressive arguments, such as that people who demand that you act or speak a certain way are giving you power over their emotions that you exercise according to your choice? Are you willing to respond to ridiculous allegations, such as that the validity of an opinion depends on the racial traits of the person expressing it, with a simple "I disagree?" Are you willing to argue against the idea that disagreeing with someone "harms" them?

6. Understand the structure of the progressive cause. It really does not have an endpoint. The idea is to make impossible demands for abstract and illusory things, and see how much "privileged" people are willing to concede to avoid being called racist, "fragile," or to be attacked on social media. Understand that the greatest asset that progressives have on their side is not the justness or reasonableness of their cause, but the fear of quasi-elites of being confronted with loud and emotional, often hysterical smears.

7. Understand that being "empowered" does not mean not risking consequences. If someone can say something but doesn't because it seems to entail risk, the issue is one of will rather than power.

So I would respectfully suggest that the first question is not how do we organize street protests, but whether you have thought about what you are willing to do in your own staff room to resist a dehumanized and cynical ideology. The outcome, as in most worthwhile fights, depends on courage and good conscience.

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Image of z9z99
on September 04, 2020 at 10:21:00 am

In one sense there's not much more to be said. Gonzalez has his finger on the pulse of things, on the nub and crux of the matter so finely, and illuminates it all so well, certainly so within the space of a 7,500 or so word essay, that there is little more to be said other than thank you for such a well attuned and perspicuous illumination of what does in fact need to be seen. Need to be seen for what it is, for what is at the heart of all the dissimulation, disinformation, gaslighting, Kafkatrapping, agitprop, useful fools and tools and all the rest of the flim-flams, hustles and shell games. This piece reveals, and simply so for genuine revelation needs no dark arts, needs no artifice of any kind.

So, thank you.

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Image of Michael Bond
Michael Bond
on September 04, 2020 at 10:27:49 am

Since the Great Depression the USA has been attacked four times by the armed forces of revolutionary socialism. The attacking enemy remained the same, revolutionary socialism, only its mutated form varied: Germany's national socialism (which America defeated,) communism as embodied by Soviet Russia (which America defeated,) and, now, America's current wars against armed ideological mutations of revolutionary socialism, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP,) America's armed foreign enemy, and the Revolutionary Democrat Party (RDP), America's armed enemy within.

The RDP's socialist mutation is armed with weapons none of its armed socialist predecessors possessed, weapons more deadly than a powerful military empowered by a nuclear arsenal. The RDP controls America's extra-constitutional administrative state, its anti-American major media, the country's largest economic and high-tech institutions now hostile to America and colluding with the CCP, its un-American K-16 educational system, its dangerous scientific-university-government complex (what President Eisenhower had called the “free university,... the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery..." through control of which "public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”) And the RDP exerts near-total control of large cities (historically the fountainhead of revolution) and America's cultural institutions. It lacks absolute power for want only of the presidency and four Senators.

As to America's 2d existential war against armed socialism, President Reagan said, “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win; they lose.”
That is Trump's strategy for defeating the two great remaining armed socialist enemies of American civilization, the CCP and the RDP.

Victory is within the CCP's and the RDP's grasp. "We have heard the chimes at midnight." At this late hour only an enemy of American civilization would seek to oppose President Trump.

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Image of paladin
on September 04, 2020 at 11:52:40 am

What the powers centers have done with this shut down is to cut off their nose to spite their face. The education centers, both higher and lower are weak. Local and State government are hurting for revenue. The weapon which must be wielded is the law and money. That is contingent upon taking back both House and Senate and retaining the Presidency. First would be to exile as much of the administrative state from out of DC as possible ASAP. Send this to the Heartland, to small cities. Public unions should be outlawed. Attack the Tech monopolies through Anti-trust lawsuits, and cut off their H-1B slave visas. Trained Americans from the heartland can replace them through an Affirmative Action plan for Americans from that region. We need to reset the terms of what is under-represented. All federal aid to higher education should be ended. Scientific and Medical research should be limited to institutes set up for that purpose. All endowments over $100 million should be taxed and if necessary, seized for their participation in slavery ( ha ha). That would target the Ivies and many of the large private universities. Ask yourself who got us in the mess we’re in ? Most importantly, a pro-American curriculum should be developed for K-12 education, with eligibility for any federal monies contingent on its implementation. Any person receiving any form of government aid should be required to attend the kind of course that we require for citizenship. We must be aggressive in the same way that the post WWII government in Germany was in ridding itself of an odious ideology. That is just the minimum, but it should be a 100 day program that will make the enemies heads spin. All done in one term.

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Image of Joan
on September 04, 2020 at 13:35:25 pm

Ah, a fighter, God bless such a fighter as Joan, "The Maid of Orleans," or Macaulay's Horatius. "How well Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old."

"This story shall the good man teach his son...
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters)..."

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Image of paladin
on September 04, 2020 at 15:09:39 pm

I also endorse Joan's fighting spirit and reply, plus John Braeman's focus on reforming the educational system.

But we must also readjust our own outlook with regard to the people we find there. That wonderful woman who is your child's teacher and so interested in his/her success and advancement is still a good person in most regards, but also a supporting agent of the communistic public sector teacher's union, and will go on strike, and publicly and vociferously protest, in a heartbeat if/when she perceives her interests are threatened by parental or taxpayer action. And the administrators and principals and candidates for school board that claim extended expertise via their education related credentials will resist mightily any encroachment on "their" domain, namely the indoctrination of your children (outside of your own efforts at moral or religious training).

The same goes for those in "academia" (who could never make their way in a real academy of disinterested scholars) who have poisoned your college grad with fatuous, and maybe even seditious or treasonous, nonsense; plus perhaps have burdened you and your offspring with debt obligations that restrict their ability to truly enter adulthood and adopt the views of contributing citizens.

We will have to harden our hearts and toughen our love to realign all of the players in this Shakespearean tragedy. Some will never make the transition and thus must be removed "for the good of all".

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Image of R2L
on September 05, 2020 at 17:11:18 pm

“They are clearly also betting that the COVID-19 pandemic will alter forever the way we conduct business in America, and say that they can use the moment to introduce that redistributive new order.”

This would be the first time that a virus that targets the elderly and the weak, while for the most part, leaving the healthy’s immune system intact, was used to usher in socialism, while providing for the continuation of the destruction of some beloved sons and daughters, residing in their mother’s womb, and other persons perceived to be a burden and not a Blessing, through their promoted of both abortion and euthanasia, under the guise of “saving lives”, while the real heroes, those who believe in the Sanctity of all human life, first responders, doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, worked to the point of exhaustion, to actually save human lives.

Let us continue to Pray for the Sanctity of all human life, and that those who believe that human persons are a burden rather than a Blessing, the atheist materialist over population alarmist globalist, will be converted.


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Image of Nancy
on September 04, 2020 at 11:34:09 am

The only thing I could add is to point out the short-sided role of America's corporate elite. And Peter in his comment
raises the crucial question of what individuals who defend American values can do. I see the most important battleground the American educational system. Refuse publicly to contribute to colleges, protest administrator behavior in alumni magazines and local newspapers, organize to elect sound people to local school boards, join in funding legal challenges
to local schools that adopt the 1619 Project. In short, it will take individuals getting off their butts and making themselves heard.

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Image of John Braeman
John Braeman
on September 04, 2020 at 15:56:53 pm

"A famous experiment conducted in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications demonstrated that the tipping point for a determined and organized minority to change a society’s consensus on norms is 25 percent." There are also other articles describing how the ideology of Islam can take over a society as the fraction of Muslims increases from 1, 2, 5, 12, 20, 50, to 80% in a given population. Truth be told, I do not want to believe we are anywhere near these totalitarian oriented fascists (even with their true believer foot soldiers) making up 25% of our society yet, and that their impact would remain very small if the truth was told to the bulk of our citizens and residents. We grant these demons the same free speech rights that we demand for ourselves, based on their membership in humanity, and then this minority acts as if they are not a minority. But we in the majority must remind ourselves and this minority that a minority does not prevail in our democratic republic until they persuade the voters to their cause. We must ensure such "persuasion" is honest and truthful. The real diehards already want to shout their beliefs to the rafters; maybe we need to trick their more crafty compatriots to do the same, so everyone can see how demented they really are. Our current civilization is the best that has ever existed anywhere at any time, even if far from perfect in many regards. That message needs to be contrasted with their real alternative rather than their unicorn version.

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Image of R2L
on September 04, 2020 at 20:43:06 pm

I am skeptical of the notion that a small minority is involved. The Democrat Party is the majority party, and one must assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that its recent policies and behavior are supported by its devotees. I know lots of Democrats, some of whom, unfortunately, are relatives and friends, none of whom disavows any of the abominations going on in the Democrat Party now or during the past 12 years. Indeed, their support of the party is now more enthusiastic than I have seen it since 2008 when Obama was elected. I think the Democrat Party has become the enemy of America and that it has support bordering on if not exceeding a majority.

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Image of paladin
on September 05, 2020 at 21:13:08 pm

I am a black sheep in a family of staunch, Trump-hating Dems. Likewise, no one has condemned the anarchy, nor the march toward Socialism/Marxism. Their silence condones everything, including the Left’s childish behavior that passes for leadership. They are so intolerant of my political stance that I have needed to purge family from my social platforms.

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Image of KJM
on September 04, 2020 at 18:41:33 pm

I have read many articles across a range of conservative websites that echo Mike’s warnings. There is a concerted effort to fundamentally change the American political and legal landscape to something completely alien to liberal democratic norms. And there is no denying the level of success achieved in almost every aspect of the public space. But other than sending up the warning flare, what I rarely see are ideas and actions to counteract the gains of those that want to jam collectivist thinking into the American tradition. Conservatives and moderates can’t win the battle if they don’t enter the fight. So here are some suggestions. First, an intellectual counter-narrative must be developed to the toxic ideas initially developed by academic Marxists and critical theorists and successfully deployed by lightweights like Garza, DiAngelo, Kendi, Cullors, Coates, and Hannah-Jones, among others. Noting the existence of bad ideas is not enough. The fallacies and internal incoherence of these concepts needs to be revealed under the bright light of analysis. Who is positioned to do that work? Not the universities and the colleges – they brought us this plague in the first place. Not the Republican party – with few exceptions, they are notably missing in action. I suggest the independent conservative think tanks and publications should be the ones to relight the flame of liberty. They have the intellectual resources to illuminate the deficiencies of critical theory, antiracism, and all the other ridiculously bad ideas marching under the Marxist umbrella. What they don’t seem to have are the networks to propagate the counter-narrative. If Black Lives Matter can start with a tweet of a facebook post, I have to believe that highly funded think tanks and publications could figure out a way to combine forces to propagate a coherent counterpunch. And they need to figure out how to interactively network with existing organizations, as well as foster new organizations, across the country. Again, why is there is a BLM LA, BLM Philadelphia, BLM Atlanta, and so on but not a Heritage Phoenix, Claremont Institute Denver, Goldwater Institute Memphis, Law and Liberty University Wherever, and so on? Like some patriot said, hang together or hang alone. I went a little long winded on my first suggestion so my next suggestions will be brief. Second, people need to research their candidates in local, state, and federal elections. You get the government you elect. Simple. Third, citizens need to demand an end to the state monopoly on public education. Public education powers the unions that drives state politics that facilitates the teaching of grievance advocacy rather than sound fundamentals. I am frankly not optimistic that reform could be successful in the face of the determined opposition by the teachers’ unions. Instead, end run them with private schools, charter schools, and home schooling. And finally, people need to start up grassroots organizations to advocate for traditional liberal norms. The internet doesn’t have to be for the big boys only; $100 can set up a website for a year with global reach that doesn’t require the permission of Zuckerberg or Bezos!

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Kurt Neumann
on September 05, 2020 at 11:59:49 am

Regarding counter-narratives, might I suggest we start with a fact that undermines almost the entirety of the progressive enterprise:

Every genocidal atrocity has been the result of identity politics.

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Image of z9z99
on September 14, 2020 at 18:10:30 pm

Mr. Gonzalez nearly elides the actual target is whites, not white supremacy, or Locke, or The Enlightenment. The Left’s actual politics that matter target Whites. That’s sound enough- ideas are a dime a billion with the Internet, and color coding works best. No? How many white farmers or working class whites are being organized by the Left?
I’m actually not racist, I’m willing to be colorblind, but not blind to our intended genocide. They don’t want to overthrow white supremacy - they want to get rid of their racial enemy. No amount of consciousness raising on the Right or quoting The Federalist Papers changes someone’s skin. In the end People are very simple, and color coding works. Every Communist genocide had a racial undertone. We just are too polite to mention it.

How well it works in practice we’ll see. Probably as well as it worked in Germany.

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Image of vxxc
on September 05, 2020 at 14:00:35 pm

I am a retired A.P. U.S. History teacher and a member of our state bar association. In April I walked in a BLM march because I believed Mr. Floyd was denied his rights under the 14th Amendment. Mr. Floyd's death was a secondary issue after nine blocks. The crowd chanted, "Revolution, revolution." The small group of organizers order the marchers to kneel. It was shocking to see a thousand people kneel without question. I was near the front and did not kneel. Behind me were blocks of people on their knees. It was unbelievable to me. After a couple minutes, I thought it prudent to head home. A few weeks later the homily at Mass was about our white fragility. The Deacon confessed to the congregation that he was guilty of racism and exercising his authority over his students at the Jesuit high school where he is employed. . These two episodes motivated me to dust off Rousseau, Marx, Hegel, and Lenin. There is no surprise as to what is happening today. The script was written long ago. So I will carefully vet candidates before voting, give financially to candidates who I believe have courage, and respond coherently to people who are interested in learning the background behind this chaos. As a final note, I regret the complicity of some Republicans. I think it was very easy for President Obama to collectivize medicine because President Bush federalized education. The damage to pedagogy and academic disciplines caused by a one size fits all approach has been damaging to a generation of students. Although it was a long time ago, I thought President Ford lacked courage in confronting communism by his refusal to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Thank you for the opportunity to express an opinion.

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Image of Jim
on September 05, 2020 at 19:00:42 pm

Your comment comes from a good place, the mind and heart.
I especially appreciate that you "regret the complicity of some Republicans." The Republican Party post- Reagan, until the rise of Trump, served as the Democrats' "useful idiots" in incompetence, dishonesty and duplicity. It is no coincidence that GHW Bush refused to bring Reaganauts into his administration while adulating the moral fraud, Ted Kennedy, that John McCain was the Democrat Party's favorite Republican, and that after leaving office W Bush befriended the Clintons and the Obamas, refused to endorse Trump, announced that he voted for Hillary and will very likely vote for Biden. There has been little moral and political difference between the two parties since Reagan, until Trump.

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Image of paladin
on September 13, 2020 at 01:44:58 am

The Bush political family is deeply evil, and has been for a century. They were never conservatives, or any type of rightists.

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Leon Q. Haller
on September 06, 2020 at 12:11:10 pm

As this was linked over at Powerline it may be somewhat redundant to link it here, but Michael Anton's measured concern about a potential coup attempt places all this in a timely, up-to-the-minute context. Some of what he references may in fact be nothing but "coup porn" but I doubt it should be so readily dismissed. The naivete of some, including some who are otherwise highly knowledgeable and who might occupy positions of authority, is imo rather astonishing.

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Michael Bond
on September 07, 2020 at 14:06:25 pm

And Anton's companion piece at American Mind adds more fuel to this: https://americanmind.org/essays/a-tyranny-perpetual-and-universal/ .
My initial attitudes of "it can't happen here, not really" and "things are not going to get THAT bad" were caught short with his discussion that having the wrong political outlook and/or lack of fervor might lead to an inability to get or maintain a credit card, using cash in a cashless high surveillance society, receiving my pension payment from a defense contractor, getting credit, etc. These ideas certainly set my blood pressure rising to Lexington-Concord levels.

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Image of R2L
on September 07, 2020 at 16:14:32 pm

That's a remarkably probative piece by Anton throughout, in each and every particular, which is saying a great deal. His naming of neoliberalism as managerial leftist-libertarianism is as astute and concise a summary of it all as can be imagined - but the detailing of it all, brilliant illumination by Anton.

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Michael Bond
on September 06, 2020 at 20:51:09 pm

Given that this is a long weekend, and the volume of essays seems to have decreased here in the late summer, I hope that the site moderators and the original essayist will excuse a few idle thoughts on the continuity of revolutionary thought.

One notes that the photo header of the original essay consists of four women. This is itself unremarkable, as the occasion of their appearance marked the anniversary of women being given the right to vote. However, one may also be reminded of the thoughts of Sergey Nechayev, who wrote in his The Revolutionary Catechism in 1869:

The sixth category is especially important: women. They can be divided into three main groups. First, those frivolous, thoughtless, and vapid women, whom we shall use as we use the third and fourth category of men. Second, women who are ardent, capable, and devoted, but whom do not belong to us because they have not yet achieved a passionless and austere revolutionary understanding; these must be used like the men of the fifth category. Finally, there are the women who are completely on our side – i.e., those who are wholly dedicated and who have accepted our program in its entirety. We should regard these women as the most valuable or our treasures; without their help, we would never succeed.

For reference, Nechayev had this to say about the "third and fourth category of men" respectively:

These must be exploited in every possible way; they must be implicated and embroiled in our affairs, their dirty secrets must be ferreted out, and they must be transformed into slaves....

The revolutionary must pretend to collaborate with them, blindly following them, while at the same time, prying out their secrets until they are completely in his power.

He is more tolerant of the fifth category, saying:

They must be constantly driven on to make compromising declarations: as a result, the majority of them will be destroyed, while a minority will become genuine revolutionaries.

And what of "genuine revolutionaries?"

The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property, and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution....

He despises and hates the existing social morality in all its manifestations....

He is not a revolutionary if he has any sympathy for this world. He should not hesitate to destroy any position, any place, or any man in this world. He must hate everyone and everything in it with an equal hatred.

The usual caveats apply. The presentation of four women alongside Nechayev's discussion of women and revolution may simply be an example of apophenia, seeing a pattern that is not there. Certainly Nechayev could quite reasonably be dismissed as a nut, and his thoughts on women and revolution dismissed accordingly. Even so, one may reasonably wonder why he singles out women and their role in a revolution, the supposed goal of which is the elimination of the idea that women have discrete roles. He certainly did a poor job of anticipating LGBQTetc. This is interesting because it affords significance to what a person is, what category she belongs to, wholly apart from the ideas, leadership, or revolutionary fervor that they may contribute. It is possible that Nechayev was reflecting, or possibly trying to exploit the gender roles of his times, but one also notes that his discussion of "categories" also reflects classifications of people according to their personality traits and social status. It not only categorizes them, it ranks them into hierarchies. This is notable because the core concept of "critical theory" is that of oppression, which is an unavoidable consequence of treating people based upon how they are categorized and how those categories are ranked. "Third category lives matter!" or something.

The tendency to categorize and rank, even as a revolutionary activity, is perhaps the easiest way to understand why initially successful revolutions and "liberation movements" either collapse, devolve into tyranny, or both. Nechayev thus contradicted himself and he seemed to realize it. He was probably smart enough to know that it is impossible to defend the principles of a revolution against a Napoleon, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, etc. so he did not try, stating:

the Society therefore refuses to impose any new organization from above. Any future organization will doubtless work its way through the movement and life of the people; but this is a matter for future generations to decide. Our task is terrible, total, universal, and merciless destruction.

He seemed to be saying "hey, I just get paid to tear down the state; what you all do afterward is your business." I suspect that a great many Antifa rioters appreciate this sentiment. Robespierre, Danton and Trotsky might also have been able to provide a few thoughts. This is also a corollary to a thought I expressed in the "Hopelessness in the New History" thread: the political narratives and myths being used by progressives have no defined end-point. Their only current concern is action for the sake of action, and destruction for the sake of destruction.

Anyway, just a few informal thoughts. Have a safe weekend.

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Image of z9z99
on September 07, 2020 at 13:39:27 pm

I attribute the successful rise of the LGBTQ "community" to:
1) increased understanding of genetics and the probability that such orientations had at least a partial genetic component, so not totally a "life style" choice or an inherently immoral behavior (with the science details yet to be fully demonstrated).
2) the decline in the agricultural and pastoral element of society that needed large families to succeed and accumulate wealth, so resistance to non-child bearing/ rearing situations or relationships also declined.
3) increased awareness that persons in those categories were in fact being denied certain civil/ legal rights solely due to their identity.
4) the growing realization that same sex "love" could in fact be a reality (as shown for example by Tom Hanks in the movie Philadelphia).
The fact that members in those groups had to be very "in your face" to achieve their improved "rights" position is a feature of our political and social structure. That some are pushing beyond what might be legitimately endorsed is unfortunate and may end up working against them (same for the racial and reparations side of things).

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Image of R2L
on September 08, 2020 at 09:21:56 am

The receptivity of the colleges to Gramscian infiltration was foretold in George Orwell's 1984, where The Party encourages a kind of 'Collective Solipsism' that destroys individuality. The key to resisting the neo-Marxist revolution now infesting the United States is to take back the schools, then the colleges, and as well the entertainment and media industries. That means teaching the young about the Natural Law principles that informed the Founders, and emphasizing above all the Dignity of the Individual. I just finished a post that describes how applicable 1984 is to our current situation, if any are interested: "Back to 1984":

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L. E. Joiner
on September 08, 2020 at 10:20:57 am

This article reflects so much of the bizarre funhouse "dialogue" between left and right in this country -- which is to say, it's not a dialogue at all, because each side is merely caricaturing the thought of the other side, picking up fragments of phrases which they don't understand and throwing them against a wall mostly made of projection and fantasy.

As I read this my thought was -- why is Gonzalez even bringing up Gramsci? As the author admits, none of the women referenced or quoted Gramsci at all -- and it's also obvious their vague references to "redistributing resources" are not grounded in any very specific model from Gramsci's era (I was thinking this as the author of this article then amusingly pointed out that none of them were anything other than vague about what that phrase was supposed to mean).

Let's just rewind here, for a moment. First of all, the Gonzalez's whole concept of what Gramsci was saying is nonsense. It's impossible to quickly explain why what he's saying makes little sense, but I would frame it in this way: Gramsci was mostly criticizing conventional Marxism of that era which tended to believe that there is some sort of materialist inevitability to the downfall of capitalism and moreover a materialist inevitability to the rise of communism, and that this transition would have to go through some sort of centralized dictatorship phase involving coercion before later transitioning to a stateless society. Gramsci thought that whole narrative was absurd, simplistic, and dumb, basically -- he felt that any real progress would have to come first by recognizing the importance of culture, and realizing that any stable society would have to be based largely on persuasion rather than coercion. In fact, in the end, just prior to the end of his life, he came to be critical of the Soviet Union precisely for the reasons that he felt they valorized the state and were utilizing coercive tactics in a way that was not in his view ultimately effective.

But anyway, that's all a sidetrack because what these women are talking about has nothing to do with Gramsci and honestly it's just bizarre that Gonzalez brings him up at all. The fact is most Americans who call themselves progressive subscribe to some form of social democracy, in almost every case, a la Denmark, as they often say, not some sort of Stalinist nightmare or a wholesale overturning of the Western project. Garza for instance is a Bernie Sanders supporter, which is to say, she supports social democracy in the European sense. This is by far the most prominent form of progressive economic politics in the United States, and really doesn't have much to do with any of these old leftists, whether it be Gramsci or anyone else. Although as I say, Gramsci in reality wasn't saying what this author thinks he was saying, either, but what he was saying even in that historical context really from a totally unrelated context to modern American progressive thought.

I should make clear again, just to be sure I'm also not grossly misinterpreted -- the story of the left from Marx on has been littered with a lot of awful mistakes -- including by Marx himself, quite obviously. Many of the criticisms from the right (Hayek and others) are quite correct, in my view, and I also think, like Gramsci, that Marx's historical materialism was also deeply flawed and ultimately just incorrect.

The problem I think on the right is that the right has been forever traumatized by the USSR -- as though every single intellectual or activist who calls themselves "progressive" wants to recreate the Soviet Union. It's actually kind of ironic that Gonzalez brings up Gramsci because he was one of the first intellectuals to criticize the entire underpinning of the Soviet project, though he didn't likely realize how horribly it would end up going wrong, since he died due to Mussolini before seeing any of that play out in full -- but he was critical of the early stages of it as I mentioned. Gramsci was arguing in favor of a different way of moving forward.

The Bernie Sanders / American progressive economics is essentially indistinguishable from European social democracy, full stop. That's not only explicitly what they advocate but what most Americans on even the "far left" believe in and support. Any old school Marxism based any sort of dictatorship has no serious place within American progressivism today. But Gramsci himself was opposed to this as well -- in fact his opposition to coercive forms of social organization is the centerpiece of his entire philosophical enterprise -- though again, the idea that these women were somehow directly influenced by any version of Gramsci is pretty much laughable -- much less this bizarre caricature of Gramsci.

But in any case, to the extent the actual rather than fantasy version of Gramsci has any influence on American progressivism it is mostly as a counterpoint to those old school centralized state/coercive intellectuals who called themselves Marxist, but whose thought has largely been eclipsed and discredited. Gramsci felt that those sorts of ideas were themselves a superstition and would be ineffective -- had he lived to see what the Soviets became, he would have been quite horrified, as what they became is diametrically opposed to everything Gramsci was trying to advocate.

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Mitsu H.
on September 08, 2020 at 14:17:29 pm

HaHa Mitsu H!

We don't advocate that the bad, old, failed Marxism that wanted to tear everything down, rewrite all the laws and put in gulags those newly-defined as unlawful. No, we're not like that at all. We modern leftists are but peaceably protesting progressives, Denmarkian really ( makes me want to sing "Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen") in our outlook and thoroughly modern in our means and ends.
Nothing to worry about there.

It's an educated fool who studies much, learns nothing and considers others as naive as he is!

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Image of paladin
on September 09, 2020 at 14:51:04 pm

Or shorter Paladin, as expressed by a commenter at another conservative web site: Reality Is Not Optional (RINO).
Can we perhaps appropriate the BLM acronym for Blastocyst Lives Matter ... or maybe Ban Lying Marxists ?

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Image of R2L
on September 12, 2020 at 18:03:39 pm

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on October 21, 2020 at 10:01:21 am

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