A century ago, my opinions would have been boringly conventional. Today, they would probably qualify me for committal, definitely qualify me for dismissal, and in a few years will probably also qualify me for incarceration.That is the fate of the Cassandras of this world.
The Age of EnvyWhat can I say now but stunning, frightening insight?
January 15, 2009 by Cassandra Goldman
Any thinking person, viewing the destruction both material and spiritual wrought by liberal policies, is forced to ask, “Why? Why are they doing this?”
In the case of the useful idiots, the answer is simply that they are responding to what they perceive as the most power pressures in their society. The very people who screech “Nazi” at anyone who disagrees with them and in the same breath condemns Sarah Palin for killing animals and for not killing babies would in Germany in the 1930’s have used the word “Jew” the same way they now use Nazi, and in the sixteenth century would have attributed society’s ills to those dreadful Lutherans. If we were the dominant force in society today, they would be denouncing single mothers and environmentalism with the same abandon with which they currently denounce racism and sexism.
But there is more to it than useful idiots. Michael Moore, for example, has to know that he is lying; he has put a huge amount of effort into telling his lies. There is no question that he is in possession of the facts he strives so hard to obscure. Why does he lie, knowing that he is lying?
A common explanation is insanity. Hitler was insane, Saddam was insane, etc. Certainly their degree of evil, far beyond the sins of any ordinary person, is so difficult for most people to comprehend that insanity seems like the only explanation. People today do not believe in evil, but it nonetheless exists.
Thomas Sowell describes the vision of the anointed in his book of that title, but while it goes a long way towards explaining how the liberal mind works, there remains the question of how their neurosis began, of how they are able to cling so fiercely to their delusions no matter how much objective evidence piles up before their eyes.
It is often tempting to ascribe the entire mess to a deliberate conspiracy. Indeed, a portion of it is, i.e. the Frankfurt School. Some of my fellow reactionaries believe that all of it is, but I am unable to convince myself that the New World Order is being masterminded from a smoke-filled room somewhere. Really, the almost perfect coordination of evil from multiple wellsprings can be just as well explained by the fact that evil is congruent. If one rejects the underlying principles of good, principles of evil must necessarily fill the void.
It is baffling. At least some of the leaders have to have some understanding of what they are creating. Can they truly look at the poverty, loneliness, violence, ugliness, ill health, and general unhappiness they are spreading and continue to do so? Patently they can. But how?
Ayn Rand grasped part of the answer when she coined the term “the Age of Envy”. She added that “envy” was merely the closest word in the English language to what she meant: hatred of the good for being the good – good by any standard.
A more complete grasp of this principle is to be found in a forgotten work, The Revolt Against Civilization by Lothrop Stoddard. The reason this brilliant work is forgotten is that the author’s eugenicist theories have proscribed him, and yet, his insights are frighteningly applicable to today’s dilemma:
And this answer is that, in the last analysis, civilization always depends upon the qualities of the people who are the bearers of it. All these vast accumulations of instruments and ideas, massed and welded into marvelous structures rising harmoniously in glittering majesty, rest upon living foundations — upon the men and women who create and sustain them. So long as those men and women are able to support it, the structure rises, broad-based and serene; but let the living foundations prove unequal to the task, and the mightiest civilization sags, cracks, and at last crashes down into chaotic ruin.
Civilization thus depends absolutely upon the quality of its human supporters.
This fact is that, while hereditary qualities are implanted in the individual with no action on his part, social acquirements are taken over only at the cost of distinct effort. How great this effort may become is easily seen by the long years of strenuous mental labor required in modern youth to assimilate the knowledge already gained by adults. That old saying, “There is no royal road to learning,” illustrates the hard fact that each successive generation must tread the same thorny path if the acquirements of the past are to be retained. Of course, it is obvious that the more acquirements increase, the longer and steeper the path must be. And this raises the query: May there not come a point where the youthful traveller will be unable to scale the height — where the effort required will be beyond his powers?
Well, this is precisely what has happened numberless times in the past. It is happening to multitudes of individuals about us every day.
Now, among our human categories we have observed that progress is primarily due to the superiors. It is they who found and further civilizations. As for the intermediate mass, it accepts the achievements of its creative pioneers. Its attitude is receptive. This receptivity is due to the fact that most of the intermediate grades are near enough to the superiors to understand and assimilate what the superiors have initiated.
But what about the inferiors? Hitherto we have not analyzed their attitude. We have seen that they are incapable of either creating of furthering civilization, and are thus a negative hindrance to progress. But the inferiors are not mere negative factors in civilized life; they are also positive — in an inverse, destructive sense. The inferior elements are, instinctively or consciously, the enemies of civilization. And they are its enemies, not by chance, but because they are more or less uncivilizable.
The word inferior has, however, been so often employed as a synonym for degenerate that it tends to produce confusion of thought, and to avoid this I have coined a term which seems to describe collectively all those kinds of persons whom I have just discussed. This term is The Under-Man – the man who measures under the standards of capacity and adaptability imposed by the social order in which he lives. And this term I shall henceforth employ.
Now how does the Under-Man look at civilization? This civilization offers him few benefits and fewer hopes. It usually affords him little beyond a meagre subsistence. And, sooner or later, he instinctively senses that he is a failure; that civilization’s prizes are not for him. But this civilization, which withholds benefits, does not hesitate to impose burdens. We have previously stated that civilization’s heaviest burdens are borne by the superior. Absolutely, this is true; relatively the Under-Man’s intrinsically lighter burdens feel heavier because of his innate incapacity. The very discipline of the social order oppresses the Under-Man; it thwarts and chastises him at every turn. To wild natures society is a torment, while the congenital caveman, placed in civilization, is always in trouble and usually in jail.
Such is the Under-Man’s unhappy lot. Now, what is his attitude toward that civilization from which he has so little to hope? What but instinctive opposition and discontent? These feelings, of course, vary all the way from dull, unreasoning dislike to flaming hatred and rebellion. But, in the last analysis, they are directed not merely against imperfections in the social order, but against the social order itself. This is a point which is rarely mentioned, and still more rarely understood. Yet it is the meat of the whole matter. We must realize clearly that the basic attitude of the Under-Man is an instinctive and natural revolt against civilization. The reform of abuses may diminish the intensity of social discontent.
Lastly, there is the “misguided superior.” He is a strange phenomenon! Placed by nature in the van of civilization, he goes over to its enemies. This seems inexplicable. Yet it can be explained. As the Under-Man revolts because civilization is so far ahead of him, so the misguided superior revolts because it is so far behind. Exasperated by its slow progress, shocked at its faults, and erroneously ascribing to mankind in general his own lofty impulses, the misguided superior dreams short cuts to the millennium and joins the forces of social revolt, not realizing that their ends are profoundly different even though their methods may be somewhat the same. The misguided superior is probably the most pathetic figure in human history. Flattered by designing scoundrels, used to sanctify sinister schemes, and pushed forward as a figurehead during the early stages of revolutionary agitation, the triumph of the revolution brings him to a tragic end. Horrified at sight of barbarism’s unmasked face, he tries to stay its destructive course. In vain! The Under-Man turns upon his former champion with a snarl and tramples him into the mud.
So what is to become of those who are ready and willing to be civilized, to take up the challenge of our ancestors? The answer is to be found in our ever-rising rates of suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction.
Unfortunately, this does not point to an obvious solution or any cause for general optimism. But without an understanding of the peril, we have no hope whatever of fighting it.