Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
John Stuart Mill
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
All generalizations are false, including this one.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
Otto Von Bismarck
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.
A witty saying proves nothing.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
All I know is I'm not a Marxist.
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
The Nature of True Republicanism
(First in a series)
Most people who are aware of the recent change in the Republican Party--ie, its takeover by radicals--believe that that radicalism is a late 20th century anomaly, a recent departure from the moderate center-right party of Eisenhower and and Bob Michel that they believe has always represented the GOP's core values. Historically, the truth is a bit different.
In point of fact, the GOP agenda is exactly what it was in the days of the Robber Barons 130 years ago. Whenever the Republicans have been in control, they have encouraged the rape of resources (the Republicans who controlled Maine in the 19th century allowed logging interests to clearcut the entire state, for example) and the unfettering of business to the point where corruption, fraud, and even murder were condoned to a degree we would find hard to believe even now. It's moderate Republicanism that is the anomaly, a response to a profound public backlash after one of the most corrupt administrations in American history--Harding's--had been laid bare for the cesspool it was.
The rise of moderate Republicanism began after Teapot Dome when a reaction set in against the revelations of a naked corporate rapacity so arrogant, so unbridled, that it thought nothing of reaching into the White House itself and buying a President. What I will call the standard GOP agenda had to be brought under control and modified to blunt the animosity Teapot Dome had ignited among ordinary voters or the GOP wasn't going to survive the backlash.
The election of FDR in '32 was a repudiation of Republican policies (which were widely seen as the prime cause of the Stock Market crash and the Depression which followed) that was to herald a sea-change in American politics. By the beginning of the Second World War, the GOP had lost not just the White House but the Congress as well, at least in part because they had fought Roosevelt's Lend-Lease program, which aimed to help Britain defend itself from Hitler, by offering a platform of Isolationism and warm words for the German leader which were not remembered fondly when he declared war on us. At that point, moderation was solidified as the only acceptable strategy--GOP isolationists and extremists were being thrown out of office after office. The election of Eisenhower--a moderate centrist--which regained them the Presidency served to confirm the strategy, but they never really forgot their roots. They compromised only because they had no choice. It was that or die.
To be personal for a moment, I grew up in conservative New Hampshire and well remember the burning hatred that surfaced among them whenever Roosevelt's name was mentioned--and that was 20 years after his death. Nor was the hatred confined to the generation which had lived under him; fathers passed their hatred of the New Deal and its creator to their sons like an heirloom. As the South has never forgotten or forgiven the Civil War, conservatives had clearly not forgotten or forgiven the man they blamed for "socializing" the US and destroying their party in the process. Even then they dreamed of reversing everything Roosevelt stood for: "socialized medecine", Social Security, Welfare (called "Relief" in the Depression), unemployment insurance, all of it. I was lectured over and over again about how these things were "anti-American", Communist-inspired "perversions" (a word the John Birch Society was particularly partial to using about Roosevelt personally as well as his policies) of "their" Constitution, despicable "invasions of privacy" (which turned out to mean, when you questioned them, govt "interference" with business) that would destroy the fabric of America and the American promise.
Their hatred rarely seemed to have any bounds. They fantasized about military rebellion against what they interpreted as a "Communist takeover" of their govt by "Soviet-backed" liberals, seeing any move to weaken the Second Amendment as an obvious attempt at disarming them and preventing their ability to raise armies of opposition. They talked about seceding from the Union--not necessarily peacefully--if they didn't get what they wanted. A common statement you might hear from any of them was, "We should have killed that son-of-a-bitch (FDR) when we had the chance." And they meant it.
At first I dismissed them, as did everyone else, as a fringe group of whackos. But as I got to know more of them, I discovered that they were supported--quietly but steadily--by people who sounded, in public at least, like moderate centrists who would be appalled at the excesses of those very same Birchers. The dichotomy between the public and private statements of "moderate" Republicans at that time was extreme, a gulf so vast it couldn't be explained except by hypocrisy and political expediency. For a while (I was young) I became convinced that every moderate Republican was really a closet Bircher plotting in secret to overthrow the "Liberal/Communist Conspiracy".
Of course that wasn't true. Some moderate Republicans were legitimate moderates, not radicals; as time went on and the extremists were no closer to their goals, perhaps most of them were legitimate. But the strain of GOP radical idealism I noted then remained just under the surface all during the 60's and was given new life by the twin towers of Viet Nam and massive social change. By Nixon's second term, plans were already afoot in the radical wing to win back the govt, and their goals had not changed one whit in the intervening 30 years: to reverse Roosevelt's Communist Programs and Johnson's Great Society extension of them, and to once again make corporations safe from democracy and democratic "interference".
David Neiwert of Orcinus wrote last fall that he was seeing a moderate GOP that had "morphed" into a radical, intemperate beast.
I've become much more concerned about conservatism, largely because it has itself morphed from a style of thought, like liberalism, into a decidedly ideological movement. One never hears of a "liberal movement," while the "conservative movement" proudly announces its presence at every turn. Conservatism has become highly dogmatic and rigid in its thinking, allowing hardly anything in the way of dissent -- indeed, it is nowadays practically Stalinist itself, especially in the way it punishes anyone who strays from the official "conservative" line.
But in fact the GOP is simply returning to the core philosophy and goals it had to abandon for practical reasons of survival, jettisoning a "moderation" it never really embraced except as a tactic. The evidence for this can be shown by the periodic outbreaks of Republican attempts to come out of the closet: 1948, when they were beaten back by Truman's relentless exposure of their greed and arrogance; the early 1950's when Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon tried to destroy the Democratic party--and liberals of any kind--by "proving" that they were Communists; and 1964 when they chose Barry Goldwater as their standard-bearer and for the first time since WWII declared their intentions in the wide open spaces of a national campaign. What Niewert rightly decried is not an abberation but the re-emergence of the GOP's long-stifled Prime Agenda.
Radical right-wing extremists have not "hijacked" the party, they've just come out of hiding and re-assumed their rightful place: in the open, as representatives and advocates of the true Republicanism that has been underground for 100 years. Like locusts, they may not have been visible but they were there all the time, waiting for the right moment to emerge.
"Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik
PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.