The Prince of Darkness Learns A New Trick

Even the Devil sometimes needs to up his game.

Most people believe that the universe contains forces for good and forces for evil which are in permanent opposition to each other.  The Chinese describe the Yin and the Yang which have fought each other since the dawn of creation.

Moviegoers speak of "The Force," in which good operates in opposition to the "Dark Side."  Some speak of "karma," which can be a force either for good or for ill.  Christians speak of Lucifer a.k.a. Satan as the long-term enemy of whatever God wants to do, who not only tries to thwart the will of God, he also tries to give Jews and Christians everywhere as hard a time as he can manage.

One of the fundamental transcendental questions of all time is wondering which will win out in the end: good, or the dark side?  In the short term, our partisan politics tends to ascribe evil motivations and practices to the opposition regardless of what they do, thereby giving us two sets of good / evil forces perpetually contending with each other.  This mindset ensures that, in somebody's opinion at least, evil will always triumph over good.

The Education of the Dark Side

For all that we tend to think of evil forces as more or less impersonal, it seems that dark forces learn from experience.  We've discussed Saul Alinsky's 1971 book Rules for Radicals which teaches how to overthrow an existing power structure through clever organizational tactics and strategic protests.  A key to his thinking is shown in his opening dedication:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer.

As a child of a more religious age, Mr. Alinsky assumed that all of his readers would know that Lucifer got himself cast out of heaven by rebelling against God but ended up gaining his own kingdom here on earth.  Whether or not Mr. Alinsky himself believed in the literal existence of Old Scratch, he certainly expected his readership to believe or at least to be familiar with the concept.

Mr. Alinsky might be shocked to find that he was more right than he knew.  From what we can tell of either history or mythology, it appears that the Dark Force by whatever name it's called has noticed Mr. Alinsky's dedication, read the book, and is starting to apply it in a visibly effective way.

A Kinder, Gentler Evil

There has been no shortage of ostentations examples of evil in the past.  We've written about the Spanish Inquisition:

In 1213, Pope Gregory IX published a decree detailing severe punishment for heretics and created the Inquisition to enforce his decree.  A "heretic" was anyone who disagreed with the dogma of the Catholic church.

The property of anyone convicted of heresy was subject to confiscation, which opened the system to systematic, self-financing abuse.  The greed behind the Spanish Inquisition was revealed when King Philip took Pope Gregory's decree a bit beyond what the Pope seems to have had in mind by maximizing revenue without concerning himself overmuch with theological details or with verifying actual heresy before grabbing the goods.

The Inquisition operated much like our modern system of civil forfeiture in that the authorities could seize someone's property on arbitrary grounds. Although civil forfeiture was targeted initially at drug dealers, police departments throughout the fruited plain gleefully use civil forfeiture to glom onto citizens' money without concerning themselves with whether an actual crime has been committed.  The major difference is that our modern authorities don't have to go to the bother of torturing their victims to death before seizing their assets.

Despite the similar motivational underpinnings, there's a monumental difference between the two: the kindler, gentler tone of civil forfeiture compared to the Inquisition.

Yes, both fundraising techniques ignore due process and both operate against marginalized individuals who don't have enough political connections to fight back. The Inquisition was so profitable to the monarchy that it lasted for several centuries. Civil forfeiture hasn't been operating for nearly as long, but it's so profitable for the powers that be that it, too, may go on for a long time.

But as unjust as civil forfeiture is and even though a few potential victims have been shot, far fewer of its victims have been gruesomely murdered than those of the Inquisition.  No matter how galling it may be to have your own property "legally" stolen by a glinty-eyed local or federal cop, any sane person would a thousand times over prefer that to an encounter with Torquemada, his thumbscrews, and the rack.

Did the Spanish Inquisition work?  In a word - no.  Even the most devout Catholic was aghast at the murderous violence and at the massacres of the Counter-Reformation which were happening at the same time.  Regardless of the theological or political reasoning, ordinary people brought up in anything like Western culture recoil from a bloodbath, and mass murder permanently discredits those who commit it.  It took the Catholic Church several centuries to regain the moral high ground; no Pope nowadays would think for a moment of trying the same tactics again.

Scientific Evil

Religion is by no means the only offender: a great deal of evil has been done in the name of conducting society in a "scientific" or "progressive" manner.  Like our ruling elites today, the people who began the French Revolution claimed to have a much better and more scientific view of how society should be organized than ordinary citizens.  They stopped at nothing in forcing everyone to follow their enlightened science-based ideas.  This ultimately led to the Reign of Terror because it's so very hard to persuade people to give up longstanding ideas, customs, and ways of doing things.

Elites always find that simply killing anyone who disagrees is far more expedient than trying to persuade them through evidence and  argument - or, at least it seems to be at first.  After all, how else can you arrive at the perfect society that only you and your "woke" peers can understand?  The only way to populate society strictly with woke individuals is to kill all the non-woke.

Yet even there, Madame Guillotine was a much better way to die than by being hanged, drawn, and quartered as was common practice only a few decades prior - to say nothing of being incinerated in an auto da fe.  Power-mad evil still led to the deaths of innocents, but they were cleaner deaths and thus marginally less objectionable, at least in terms of optics.

Nevertheless, the Reign of Terror was eventually overthrown by Napoleon, who was - well, hardly a saint, but by no means a mass murderer, particularly not of his own people.  The ordinary people of France reacted against the deadly excesses of their Revolution and eventually wound up living under a kinder, gentler dictator who they honor as a hero to this day.

Similarly, various lefty publications have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  The New York Times offered "Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!"

As we reach the bicentennial of Marx's birth, what lessons might we draw from his dangerous and delirious philosophical legacy? What precisely is Marx's lasting contribution?

... educated liberal opinion is today more or less unanimous in its agreement that Marx's basic thesis - that capitalism is driven by a deeply divisive class struggle in which the ruling-class minority appropriates the surplus labor of the working-class majority as profit - is correct. [emphasis added]

Marx himself observed that achieving his "class struggle", which required the abolition of private property, would of necessity also require violence.  His ideas took on religious overtones.  As The Economist put it:

His ideas were as much religious as scientific - you might even call them religion repackaged for a secular age. He was a latter-day prophet describing the march of God on Earth. The fall from grace is embodied in capitalism; man is redeemed as the proletariat rises up against its exploiters and creates a communist utopia.

Despite the excellent press Marxism received - and, as we see, is still receiving - the unfortunate people who had to suffer under it were no more receptive to the march of "Scientific Marxism" (later re-branded as "Marxist - Leninist Thought") than to the "scientific" theories behind the French revolution.  Stalin's and Mao's efforts to convert their subjects to proper "classless" thinking with no notion of private property resulted in tens of millions of deaths.

They achieved equality, but everyone except for the ruling elites shared equally in extreme poverty just as they do under the "Bolivarian revolution" in Venezuela.

Cultural Marxism

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the total failure of "economic Marxism" was revealed for all to see.  Intellectuals who were too steeped in Marxism to give it up changed their emphasis from "economic Marxism" to "cultural Marxism."  Instead of trying to abolish the capitalist economic system based on private property, cultural Marxists seek to tear down the Judeo-Christian social conventions which Western society has followed for thousands of years.

According to the Times:

Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the "eternal truths" of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress[emphasis added]

As barbaric and evil as Soviet-style Communism was, this new incarnation is actually worse in principle even though it looks better on paper.

In economic Marxism, struggle was defined only by social class and wealth.  It's not particularly difficult to transform oneself from being a plutocrat to being a member of the oppressed masses; writing a simple check, if sufficiently large, will go a long way to doing the job.

In cultural Marxism, alas, the means of escape is far less readily available.  The struggle is between oppressors, who are always heterosexual white males, and an unlimited number of oppressed groups.  The choice of Bruce Jenner to surgically change gender or of Rachel Dolezal to change her race, is monumentally awkward and, at least in the latter case, as likely to lead to ridicule as to success.  Most people are stuck on whichever side they were born, no matter what.

What's worse, the leadership must always seek new victim groups to try to put more pressure on the "establishment."  Cultural Marxists are trying to tap the resentments of the "LGBTQIA-plus" movement as the latest victim group: lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, "queer" persons, "intersexuals," "asexuals," "trans women of color," "our flora and fauna," "intersectional feminism," and on and on in a never-ending parade of increasingly lunatic gobbledygook that has long since passed the point of self-parody.  Yet nobody laughs when they get cast into prison for misgendering some unfortunate delusional soul with a weak grasp of both genetics and biological reality.

Even so, the predations of cultural Marxism do not rise to the levels of actual physical barbarism exemplified by Stalin's gulag.  Instead of hauling people off to death camps as Stalin and Mao did, cultural Marxists merely have taken over colleges and urge students to riot against ideas that are insufficiently "woke."  Their sympathizers at Google, Facebook, and Twitter have tweaked their algorithms to make it impossible for conservatives to spread non-woke ideas.  The non-woke are liable to be fired at any time and cast out of polite society or even into prison, but again, are not subject to actual torture or death for the most part.

What's more, it's a lot harder to argue against the "liberation" and "actualization" arguments of cultural Marxists than their earlier economic arguments.  Cultural Marxists ask, "Why is it wrong for two men who love each other to marry?  What harm does that do?"

Explaining the historical fact that societies such as Sparta which were based on putting all children in state-controlled dormitories instead of relying on traditional family structure always collapsed is a less compelling argument than recent economic history.  As it is, there are still some who believe in economic Marxism despite toilet paper becoming a luxury good in Venezuela vs. the immense economic growth enjoyed in China once they allowed capitalist principles to replace economic Marxism.

Our favorite graph: Capitalism's numbers speak for themselves!

The last 75 years of economic history has shown that current Democrats' promises of "free lunch" simply don't work.  "Free lunch" ideas are accepted only by people who're ignorant of economic history or haven't read about current events in Venezuela.  Some say that the only Communists left are found in tenured professorships on Western university campuses whose budgets are covered largely by taxpayer funds instead of by voluntary customers choosing to spend their own money for something they consider to be worth the price.

Economic Marxism has become harder and harder to sell, but there is an endless supply of groups of people who feel themselves to be victimized by society at large.  On that basis, and by using a lot less obvious violence and barbaric evil, cultural Marxists have become confident of being able to overthrow our society despite the death toll and utter failure of economic Marxism.

Those who ignore the lessons of history...

It's clear that the dark forces have learned.  Instead of putting intellectual enemies to a fate worse than death followed by actual death, they're satisfied to attack them on social media and merely deny them the liberty to communicate or earn a living.

The Atlantic recently fired a conservative writer whom they'd hired specifically to increase diversity in their product.  In the same town, the editorial director at the New York Times had to quell a rebellion by other columnists and readers who resented the Times publishing conservative voices who veer away from liberal orthodoxy:

But Posert [a Times reader who canceled his subscription] said he doesn't understand giving a platform to a columnist he sees as intentionally casting doubt on climate science. "It's just too important," Posert said.

"The dominant mode of liberal disagreement in many cases is to express contempt," he [the climate heretic] said. "That's a real problem, really for liberals."

In an earlier day, champions of orthodoxy at the Times who found themselves unable to answer the logic of his objections would have simply burned the climate heretic at the stake or stoned him in Times Square.  Anarchists at Berkeley would have liked to do that to Milo Yiannopoulos, but were prevented from doing so by equally leftist but marginally saner souls.

Opponents of debate still can't stand anyone who questions their orthodoxies, however, so they try to deny them platforms for their ideas as liberal colleges, the Times, Google, Facebook, and Twitter all do.

Yet it's a hopeless cause, because, as Victor Hugo observed, "Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come" - whether you like it or not, indeed, particularly when you don't.

Longstanding persecution of Jews and Christians across the millennia has been utterly unable to stamp out their ideas.  Instead of burning heretics, modern-day inquisitions enforce orthodoxy by censoring or bankrupting unbelievers through outlawing their traditional practices - surely an easier penalty to tolerate or evade?

But Christians tended to cling to their faith even when threatened with death.  They clearly believed that it was better to burn for a few minutes in Nero's garden than to burn in hell for all eternity.  Persecution unto death didn't stop the growth of Christianity nor did the Nazi Holocaust eliminate Judaism.  Instead of threatening lives, the Dark Force now goes after believer's wallets instead.

Lawfare against Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor concerning their beliefs about what forms of contraception to offer has failed, at least for now.  It isn't yet clear whether the government can threaten a Christian baker with economic ruin in order to force him to decorate a cake with a message the violates his consdience or force pro-life "crisis pregnancy" centers to advertise free abortions.

So - will the smiling face with a Hitler mustache of liberal fascism prove to be more effective against conservative and religious views than were Stalin's death camps and Nero's human torches?  Thus far, the new approach seems to be working surprisingly well, with far less organized opposition and fewer determined, principled refuseniks.

With the help of the insidious insights of Saul Alinsky and his acolytes, the Horned One is implementing an improved strategy in his eternal war against truth, justice, and the American way.  Will this kinder, gentler version of the dark side achieve victory where the traditional use of extra-legal deadly force never did?  Stay tuned....

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

"...Longstanding persecution of Jews and Christians across the millennia has been utterly able to stamp out their ideas...."

Shouldn't that be "unable" ....

May 13, 2018 9:12 PM
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