LBJ is back in favor

How the left hated Lyndon Baines Johnson back when I was in college!  “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?”  A version of MacbethMacbird, I believe was the title–accused him of killing Kennedy among other vile deeds.   He was hated because he waged the Vietnam War.  And yet  LBJ was the most liberal president in the post-war era, having passed more social programs than just about anyone since FDR, including the Civil Rights Bill, the various measures that constituted the  War on Poverty, and the ambitious government initiatives designed to create the Great Society.

But now LBJ is back in fashion among Democrats and others on the left, nostalgic for the way he could pass social programs. [Read more...]

The new left’s doctrine of “repressive tolerance”

It has long been observed that advocates of tolerance can be quite  intolerant when it comes to those who do not share their beliefs.  But I stumbled upon these quotations from Herbert Marcuse, hailed as “the Father of the New Left,” who was the author of “Repressive Tolerance” (1965).  He teaches that the establishment of a “liberating tolerance” will require the repression of certain people and points of view. [Read more...]

Banning Dante

One of the greatest works of literature ever written, Dante’s Divine Comedy, is attracting the attention of censors:

The classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president. . . .

It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.

“The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment – his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.

Homosexuals are damned by the work as being “against nature” and condemned to an eternal rain of fire in Hell.

“We do not advocate censorship or the burning of books, but we would like it acknowledged, clearly and unambiguously, that in the Divine Comedy there is racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic content. Art cannot be above criticism,” Miss Sereni said.

Schoolchildren and university students who studied the work lacked “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and were being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism, the group said.

It called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.

via Dante’s Divine Comedy ‘offensive and should be banned’ – Telegraph.

Dante has already disappeared from a number of college courses for these very reasons.  It’s odd that conservatives are often accused of censorship–for objecting to pornography and the like–but the ones who want to censor actual ideas and great works of literature are more often from the Left.  (See Gherush 92′s website.)  And, as Milton pointed out, the book that is most censored of them all–even today–is the Bible.

HT:  Shane Ayer

When leftists want civilians to be like the military

Civilian society is not supposed to be like the military, though making it that way is the leftist’s dream.  So says George Will:

Obama, an unfettered executive wielding a swollen state, began and ended his [State of the Union] address by celebrating the armed forces. They are not “consumed with personal ambition,” they “work together” and “focus on the mission at hand” and do not “obsess over their differences.” Americans should emulate troops “marching into battle,” who “rise or fall as one unit.”

Well. The armed services’ ethos, although noble, is not a template for civilian society, unless the aspiration is to extinguish politics. People marching in serried ranks, fused into a solid mass by the heat of martial ardor, proceeding in lock step, shoulder to shoulder, obedient to orders from a commanding officer — this is a recurring dream of progressives eager to dispense with tiresome persuasion and untidy dissension in a free, tumultuous society.

Progressive presidents use martial language as a way of encouraging Americans to confuse civilian politics with military exertions, thereby circumventing an impediment to progressive aspirations — the Constitution and the patience it demands. As a young professor, Woodrow Wilson had lamented that America’s political parties “are like armies without officers.” The most theoretically inclined of progressive politicians, Wilson was the first president to criticize America’s founding. This he did thoroughly, rejecting the Madisonian system of checks and balances — the separation of powers, a crucial component of limited government — because it makes a government that cannot be wielded efficiently by a strong executive. . . .

In his first inaugural address, FDR demanded “broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.” He said Americans must “move as a trained and loyal army” with “a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.” The next day, addressing the American Legion, Roosevelt said it was “a mistake to assume that the virtues of war differ essentially from the virtues of peace.” In such a time, dissent is disloyalty.

via Obama follows the progressive president’s model of martial language – The Washington Post.

Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals

Back when Barack Obama was first running for president, I was among those worried about his community organizing ties to the Marxist activist Saul Alinsky.  I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat, though this quotation from Alinsky does sort of describe what I’m hearing from many Democrats:  “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists.”

The Washington Post‘s Melinda Henneberger has written a column expressing disappointment that President Obama has not been following Alinsky’s notorious “Rules for Radicals.”  See  Saul Alinsky would be so disappointed: Obama breaks ‘Rules for Radicals’ – She the People: – The Washington Post.

But today conservatives are vying for the title of “radical.”  Newt Gingrich claims he is the most radical conservative running for president.  Ron Paul is being lauded for his “radical” proposals.

Consider Alinsky’s thirteen “Rules for Radicals“:

#1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. 

#2. Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat…. [and] the collapse of communication.

#3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

#4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.  You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

#5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

#6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

 #7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.  Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time.

#8. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

#9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

#10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

#11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.
#12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

#13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’. . .any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’. . .One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.

Where do you see these tactics at work?  Are conservatives as well as leftists using them?  Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?

The Occupy ideology

I went into Washington yesterday and stumbled upon the Occupy D.C. folks.  They were in a little green space on Pennsylvania Avenue, which they have filled up with tents.  I was surprised to see how few of them there were.  Estimates have been a couple of hundred–which in itself is an unusually tiny demonstration by D.C. standards–but even that number seems high, based on the little tent village that I saw.  Also, they don’t really look like 99% of America!  I didn’t notice any working class folks–no truck drivers, factory workers, or farmers–despite the unions coming out in their favor.  (That’s always what’s frustrating to the American left:  the proletariat just never comes out for their causes!)  It was pretty much the usual cast of counter-culture radicals whom I remember so well from my college days back in the early 1970s.

The media has been fawning all over these folks, and Democrats–including the president–have declared their support.  That might come back to bite them, according to Michael Gerson, who describes the ideology at work in the seemingly unfocused protests:

But there is some ideological coherence within OWS. Its collectivist people’s councils seem to have two main inspirations: socialism (often Marxist socialism) and anarchism. The two are sometimes in tension. They share, however, a belief that the capitalist system is a form of “institutionalized violence,” and that normal, democratic political methods, dominated by monied interests, are inadequate. Direct action is necessary to provoke the crisis that ignites the struggle that achieves the revolution.

And we are beginning to see what direct action means. Occupy DC protesters recently assaulted a conservative gathering, then took over a public intersection to prevent the passage of luxury cars. Blocking the path of one driver and his 2-year-old son, an activist shouted, “Sorry, but you have no power right now.” That is the opposite of participatory democracy — the use of power to intimidate a fellow citizen on a public street. It is the method of British soccer thugs.

In Oakland, protesters have been playing at the Paris Commune — constructing barricades, setting fires, throwing concrete blocks and explosives, declaring a general strike to stop the “flow of capital” at the port. Here, OWS seems to be taking its cues from both “Rules for Radicals” and “A Clockwork Orange.”

Defenders of OWS dismiss this as the work of a few bad apples. But the transgressors would call themselves the vanguard. And they express, not betray, a significant ideological strain within the movement. Since the 1960s, some on the political left have sought liberal reform through the democratic process and nonviolent protest. Others have sought to hasten the crisis and collapse of fundamentally illegitimate social and economic systems. Both groups can be found within OWS, but the latter is ascendant.

OWS has, in fact, provoked a crisis of credibility for many American institutions. News coverage of the movement has been both disproportionate and fawning. The two encampments of Occupy DC, for example, have a couple of hundred inhabitants. If they moved to a nearby convention hotel, the group would probably be smaller than a meeting of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. During the Tea Party’s rise to national attention, the press scoured the country for any hint of rhetorical incitement to violence. OWS protesters smash windows, assault police officers and wear Guy Fawkes masks — a historical figure known for attempting to bomb the British Parliament.

City governments have also begun to look hapless for their accommodation of squalor, robberies, sexual attacks, drug use, vagrancy and vigilantism.

And what must Democratic leaders — who rushed to identify with a protean political force — now be thinking? OWS is not a seminar on income inequality — not the Center for American Progress on a camping trip. It is a leftist movement with a militant wing.

Will Americans, looking for jobs, turn in hope to the vandalization of small businesses and the promise of a general strike? Will citizens, disappointed by a dysfunctional government, be impressed by the endless arguments of anarchist collectives? Will people, disgusted by partisanship and rhetorical rock-throwing, be attracted to actual rock throwing?

This seems to be the desperate political calculation of the Democratic Party. Good luck with that.

via As radicalism creeps in, credibility retreats from OWS – The Washington Post.

OK, they have TWO encampments in D.C., so that explains how they might have 200 protesters, despite the mere handful that I saw.   Gerson’s point is a good one:  Radicals, whether Marxists or Anarchists, WANT the collapse of our economic system, which is understood as the prerequisite for the revolution.


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