Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



A bacchanal of cranks

A bacchanal of cranks

The pictures of the protesters at the Republican convention reminded me of what febrile nut cases gravitate toward the Left, and that reminded me, inevitably, of George Orwell's thoughts on Leftist cranks.

UPDATE: It's great having someone else do your research for you. James Taranto and Byron York, Logomachon's crack field reporters, have some more reports on the Leftist obsessives.

Going straight to the source, Are We Out of Touch with Common Humanity?, from a vegan Web site, is delightful not just because it consists largely of a more extensive quotations than usual of Orwell's famous opinion of the cranks who gravitate toward Socialism:
In addition to this there is the horrible--the really disquieting--prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.
The article also is amusing for its failure to address the issue framed in the title and its own fatuous conclusion that things are better now.

Things are really not much different, although the "fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac" perspective is more mainstream now. Even more devastating was Orwell’s characterization of the mainstream Leftist, which immediately precedes the section quoted:
The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years' time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting. [You can read it all here.]
Orwell's typology of the Left is still true, though the cranks are more gaudy and more blatant in displaying the quirks and crochets that rule them. The protesters in NYC have put on display--in a way precluded by the lingering Edwardian sensibilities of inter-War England--the vivid world of stale archetypes that all the Left inhabit, where in the narcissistic way of unhappy children, great forces are all focused on them. The protesters at the RNC with their violence, costumes, nakedness, and body paint are distinctive only in their need to be open about their alienation from the adult world.

No less alienated, the front men for the Left--the politicians and journalists--succeed because they are able to discuss this worldview in coded phrases that sound sort of like rational, fact-based discourse, and of course one needed but to scratch a DNC delegate to disclose another alien in the mufti of prim little men and women in white-collar jobs.

The pre-convention protest activities are characterized by violence and portent; what they lack is meaning, in the sense of words, gestures, and symbols that point to things as they really are. As is usual with such things, the protests around the RNC are styled a "counter convention", as though the RNC would cause a Great Disturbance in the political plane unless it is neutralized or counter-balanced (the metaphors get a little confused). In contrast, while the Republicans had a response team at the DNC, it would never occur to conservatives that the DNC had to be expunged from the universe, let alone that it could be.

From that observation, it is a small step to realizing that the protests are really in the way of being a pagan religious festival. As Aristotle said, the (proper) end of politics is wise government. Politics is the process of selecting and influencing governors who will rule wisely; in a democracy this includes the general populace. Politics is also, in a famous phrase, the art of the possible.

The counter convention has zero chance of influencing either the RNC or the general populace; as politics it is a nullity. Hence, its purpose must be personal or spiritual. On the Left, these spheres are pretty well intertwined; for the cranky Left, there is no conflict between exhibitionism and prayer. (What did Jesus say about retiring to your room to pray rather than making a self-congratulatory spectacle of yourself?) Hence the signs; the anti-globalization acrobats; the frenzied parading of some symbols and attacks on other symbols (Starbucks and McDonalds); the paeans to a different, better world. They use the media and venues of political discourse, but they are not addressed to anyone. The protesters are engaged in a spiritual fight, pitting their own spiritual energy against the forces and structures of wickedness, on a landscape the non-believer cannot see and does not recognize when it is described to him.

Do not look for intelligibility. What makes the demonstrations significant to the protesters is how they demonstrate the purity of their source, namely the protesters souls. The banners and slogans are not meant to engage us in a dialogue. They are self-expression, a baring of the soul in a plea to the Heavens to rescue their world from its slide into the abyss of Republican evil.



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