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.



Socialism Is Un-American

During the Cold War, defenders of Communism and Socialism were never more scornful than in dismissing the idea that Communism was un-American.  The end of the Age of Socialism has revealed conclusively its destructive, impoverishing effects.  But the contrast with the Free World is deeper and more sublime than the substantial material effects. 

A reflection on the American Declaration of Independence demonstrates that Communism and all forms of Socialism are indeed radically un-American, far more so than opponents of Soviet aggression usually suggested.

In The Noblest Triumph, Tom Bethell observes that all radical reform movements from the High Middle Ages right through to the 18th and 19th centuries—whether Marxist or utopian socialists—based their projects on abolishing not property alone, but marriage and religion as well.  Both defenders of Western civilization and the reformers recognized these three institutions as the foundations of society, which was why the reformers wanted to tear them down.  Not coincidentally, these three institutions are the social expressions of human nature, some of whose distinct but complementary rights are enumerated in the Declaration: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Socialist Hostility to Family
Human life has never existed in the solitary form proposed ad argumendum by Hobbes.  Men are social creatures, and the Western tradition that gives primacy to the individual recognizes society as a valid form of being.  But it is within the nuclear family that we are given life and brought up to be independent, participating members of the human family.  In the family we learn coöperation and respect for authority, especially the authority of the past in the persons of our parents and grandparents  In the family, we gain affection for places and customs of our origins.  In the love and respect of our relatives, we learn to respect ourselves, and in conflicts with our siblings and parents, we also learn to think of ourselves as individuals.  In the Western tradition, it is a duty of society to support the family, as the tree’s leaves nourish its roots.

America's ongoing experiment in abolishing childhood and parenthood is showing how essential the family is to truly human life and happiness.  But for reformers, the family is the enemy, precisely because it produces individuals, rather than tokens in the state’s or corporation’s master plan.

In the last century, the Left’s mutual affinity with environmentalism—the watermelon effect:  green on the outside, red on the inside—shows the Left is literally anti-life.  Abortion and population control (lovely abstraction for getting rid of human beings) are obvious.  But environmentalists’ earth-friendly prescriptions are at best superstitions and often kill people in the millions.
Property the Bulwark of Liberty
The family is necessary for human life, but it is not sufficient.  A rule of law that secures property is a foundation of liberty.  This can hardly be doubted (especially by any reader of Mr. Bethell's exposition).  

The Bill of Rights, revered by liberals as a document of almost mystical content, is in fact mostly taken up with protecting the right to be secure in our property.   In whole or in part, nine of the first ten Amendments attempt to make us secure against predations by the state.  The third, fourth, and fifth amendments protect property directly from expropriation or invasion, and the second guarantees our right to self-defense.   For the Framers, defense included resisting encroachments by the central government.  Amendments six through ten protect property indirectly.

Around the world, from Hernando de Soto’s Peru to the Arab East to post-Soviet Russia, there are states where property is insecure and subject to confiscation at the whim of robber, despot, or oligarch.  They demonstrate that, outside a well ordered society, life tends to be poor and often nasty, brutish, and short.  Even Leftists inadvertently confirm this, for when they speak of oppressed and downtrodden people, they are speaking of people whom the law does not make secure in their property.
No Happiness without Purpose
Finally, the pursuit of happiness is a matter of religion.  Since Aristotle, philosophers have located human happiness in the attainment of proper human ends and the fulfillment of the requirements of human nature.  Christian Fathers and mystics have placed this fulfillment in union with God, speaking of a “God-shaped hole in the human heart”. 

But one need not be a Christian, or even a theist, to see that in a purely material universe, a man is a result of random physical happenstance in an uncaring universe.  He can have no purpose, no proper end.  The right to pursue happiness—or any right, for that matter—makes sense only if there is a dimension in which humans have proper rather than random or instrumental ends.  In other words, a spiritual dimension.  

As much as they would like to, reformers cannot change human nature.  Every man feels the need for a purpose to his life.  Hence, collective schemes attempt to finesse the matter by finding purpose in collective ends, and hence their hostility toward religion and anything that exalts the individual. 
Religion is the institution through which we deal communally with the spiritual dimension of our nature and reflect it in our daily existence.  Religion elucidates, codifies, and promotes the virtues of prudence, restraint, frugality, investment, honesty, and industry.  Material prosperity depends upon these virtues, but at the same time religion teaches us to hold property and security in some disdain, an attitude as necessary for the risk-taking entrepreneur as for the saint.  From the mediæval monks, to the Puritans (the monks’ colonial avatars), to the modern business man (the monks’ modern avatars), these virtues have been the basis of success. 

This is not to justify religion as a useful fiction that produces material benefits.   Religion is justified on its own terms, as the worship we owe to the Creator.  But the parts of a moral order should reinforce one another.  Adam Smith presumed that religion would guide and restrain his rational economic actors.  The American Framers understood that a nation deficient in virtue as nurtured by religion could not long maintain its liberty.  Michael Novak made the connection between life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when he addressed the overly collectivist strain in Roman Catholic social thought.  Novak pointed out that “Capitalism”—a Marxist term—is not an ideology as Marxists suppose, but a phenomenon.   It appears whenever men have the secure rights:
  • to establish families
  • to own property and pass it on to their heirs
  • to form free associations (e.g., corporations and labor unions)
These are basic principles of the Catholic Church’s social teaching, he said, and Catholic suspicions of the free market were misplaced.

Reformers who eliminate religion blot out recognition of what makes humans able to live free and self-sufficient lives rather than as slaves to their own passions, to other men, to sweeping, inhuman ideologies, or to selfish genes.  That skeptic, Tom Jefferson, with all his distrust of organized religion, wrought better than he knew in adopting the formulation that governments are instituted to protect "the pursuit of happiness" instead of repeating John Locke's phrase, for the "preservation of property".

Thus Socialism is antithetical to the basic tenets of the America polity.  It is no slur but a bald statement of fact that socialists are un-American.

Republicans under the bed

It is just a cöincidence that I am reading Harry Stein’s I can’t believe I’m sitting next to a Republican just a few weeks after the leftist MSM press tried to sell America the meme that the Tucson shootings are part of the liberal narrative of inevitable right-wing violence . . . and failed miserably. (See here, here, here, and here.) Liberals showed all their neighbors what they really think of those who are not co-religionists. Stein’s book is about the same experience on a personal, retail scale, as conservatives find that long time friends instantly demote you to ravening troglodyte status when you are insufficiently enthusiastic about saving the environment.

One of my favorite experiences along these lines was before the 2010 elections. The Philadelphia Main Line suburbs run along the border between red-state Delaware county and blue-state Montgomery county. At the gym, a liberal friend who lives there was asked if there were many Republicans in her neighborhood--enough to be awkward. She started her reply several times, obviously embarrassed by what she had to admit, but finally allowed that, yes, mostly likely there were some Republicans, but she was pretty sure they were moderates. I left it at that, but later this esprit-d'escalier rant occurred to me: “Tracy, are there more than two or three cross-burnings a month in your neighborhood? If not, you’re dealing with moderate Republicans.”

Should Bush's chickens come home to roost or to crow?

On a Rocochet podcast about the uprising in Egypt, a listener asked whether the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen perhaps validate Bush’s view of the aspirations of the people in the Middle East. The answer is not necessarily Yes or No. Chris Matthews, of Hardball, who thinks the Panama Canal is in Egypt, says they show that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was unnecessary. Yes, and all that mess and fuss at Normandy was unnecessary, because, look!, eventually Berlin fell anyway.

There is a temptation to think that people protesting tyrannical governments are a democracy movement, of the sort that a popular post-Saddam regime in Iraq was supposed to model for the rest of the tyrannical, stinking, fly-specked dung heaps that make up Arab Islam. However, what the protesters are demanding are jobs and food. It may be that we are seeing the results of another Bush policy: mandatory gasohol. Diverting US corn from exports to domestic motor fuel has sent food prices soaring around the world, with resultant malnutrition, starvation, and lethal riots for two years.

Obama CAN'T Be a Socialist

"If somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."&mdash Barack Obama, January 2008

"Electricity plus Soviets equals Socialism."&mdash Vladimir Lenin

Conservatives shouldn't buy into liberals' ideas on "racism"

Allen West is a retired Army lieutenant-colonel running for Congress in Florida. He is also a black Republican. He recently blogged about Harry Reid’s supposedly racist comments about Barack Obama’s electability.

West is a justly indignant about white liberal racism and desire to keep blacks on the liberal plantation, but he is wrong to describe Reid’s comments as “disgusting, despicable, and unacceptable”. He is probably wrong when he says “They are representative of how intellectual elite liberals do indeed speak of black Americans in their closed private spaces.” For that, you have to go to Bill Clinton’s jibe that 10 years ago he [Barack Obama] would have been fetching coffee for big shot white Democrats.

The problem is not that there is a double standard on racism for Democrats and Republicans. It is that liberals set the standard for racism, and that standard is racist and idiotic. Harry Reid’s comments were not racist. They were an obvious and accurate political observation that in no way asserted anything negative about American blacks. If they reflected or imputed any racism, it was that of American liberals. After all, Reid’s analysis couldn’t have applied to Republicans, who were not going to vote in the Democratic primaries, and they couldn’t have applied to conservatives, who would not vote for Frosty the Snowman if he had Obama’s presentation, principles, and policies.

The only racism under consideration was that of American liberals.

Biden impugns Liberal-Fascists' patriotism

From the NYT:
Biden Says U.S. Will Appeal Blackwater Case Dismissal
The vice president said the U.S. would appeal the dismissal of charges against five contractors involved in a 2007 shooting.

All of a sudden the absolute necessity of repristinating the judicial system after any technical smudge by setting the accused scot-free isn’t so absolute. This is another instance of the Liberals’ consistent failure to side with America. They are terrified of American “Christian right-wing militias”, but utterly solicitous of foreign Muslim right-wing militias.

Death spiral for Socialist "health-care reform"

Investors' Business Daily analyzes why the Washington Post has warned "that congressional Democrats, in trying to save their increasingly unpopular health reform bill, are sneakily making it more like European-style socialized medicine" and in the process are making it less and less palatable to the less Progressive factions of Congress and the public (Gallup finds 70% opposed).

The reasons for the "death watch": a report from the chief actuary of the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that says health "reform" will mean the opposite of its advertised promises.

...because "individuals with health problems or who anticipate a greater risk of functional limitation would be more likely to participate than those in better-than-average health," premiums would rise and rise, causing an "insurance death spiral" and making the program "unsustainable."

But isn't it all worth it to insure the uninsured? Actually, after Congress and the president get through wrecking the finest health care system in the world, there would remain "an estimated 24 million" Americans still without health insurance 10 years from now.

Think of it: We're increasing health care costs in America, cutting services and "jeopardizing access" for Medicare patients as we accelerate Medicare's insolvency, setting up a new government long-term care entitlement that's doomed from the start — and after all that we still end up with 24 million uninsured!

24 million uninsured. They were the reason we needed to have Obama's know-it-alls take over the health-care sector in the first place.

These Progressives are so smart! Just the way they want to destroy the world's economy for zero effect on "Global Warming".

What I fear is that the Fascists will sweeten the deal enough to buy the votes of the Lite-Fascists, and we’ll get something of the absurd architecture of mandates, restrictions, price controls, service limitations, and criminalization that the Progressives have concocted.

Martha Coakley the witch hunter

Ann Coulter has a good column this week (Martha Coakley: Too Immoral For Teddy Kennedy's Seat) on the Dem nominee for Ted Kennedy's blessedly empty seat.

Coakley was not the establishment candidate.  She did not try to run as the new Ted Kennedy.  However, after she won the primary, “John Kerry” sent out a fund-raising e-mail lauding her and blathering about breaking the glass ceiling for that particular Senate seat.  [Hear her roar!!]

This is well up to JFKy’s standard of nonsense and hypocrisy. Teddy had squatted on it since before feminism got any steam up.  If Jacques had any honor, he would have stepped aside for a woman long ago.


Thanksgiving double dactyl

At Thanksgiving dinner there was a brief discussion of odd verse forms, including the Clerihew and double dactyl. I could give examples of the Clerihew but not of a double dactyl.

I was out walking later that night and the name “Martin Van Buren” popped into my head, and I soon had the following verse. The historical details are all from memory, so I haven’t bothered to verify them:

Martin Van Buren,
President Jackson’s own
Éminence gris,
Led his campaigning to
Vict'ries, then followed in
The White House, D.C.



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Socialism Is Un-American

Republicans under the bed

Should Bush's chickens come home to roost or to crow?

Obama CAN'T Be a Socialist

Conservatives shouldn't buy into liberals' ideas o...

Biden impugns Liberal-Fascists' patriotism

Death spiral for Socialist "health-care reform"

Martha Coakley the witch hunter

Thanksgiving double dactyl

The Vile Legacy of Ted Kennedy


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