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  • The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America

    Posted by David Foster on October 21st, 2012 (All posts by )

    I am continually amazed by the level of fear, contempt, and anger that many educated/urban/upper-middle-class people demonstrate toward Christians and rural people (especially southerners.) This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments. I’m not a Christian myself, or really a religious person at all, but I’d think that one would be a lot more worried about people who want to cut your head off, blow you up, or at a bare minimum shut down your freedom of speech than about people who want to talk to you about Jesus (or Nascar!)

    It seems that there are quite a few people who vote Democratic, even when their domestic and foreign-policy views are not closely aligned with those of the Democratic Party, because they view the Republican Party and its candidates as being dominated by Christians and “rednecks.”

    What is the origin of this anti-Christian anti-”redneck” feeling? Some have suggested that it’s a matter of oikophobia…the aversion to the familiar, or “”the repudiation of inheritance and home,” as philosopher Roger Scruton uses the term. I think this is doubtless true in some cases: the kid who grew up in a rural Christian home and wants to make a clean break with his family heritage, or the individual who grew up in an oppressively-conformist Bible Belt community. But I think such cases represent a relatively small part of the category of people I’m talking about here. A fervently anti-Christian, anti-Southern individual who grew up in New York or Boston or San Francisco is unlikely to be motivated by oikophobia–indeed, far from being excessively familiar, Christians and Southern people are likely as exotic to him as the most remote tribes of New Guinea.

    Equally exotic, but much safer to sneer at…and here, I think, we have the explanation for much though not all of the anti-Christian anti-Southern bigotry: It is a safe outlet for the unfortunately-common human tendency to look down on members of an out group. Safer socially than bigotry against Black people or gays or those New Guinea tribesmen; much less likely to earn you the disapproval of authority figures in school or work or of your neighbors. Safer physically than saying anything negative about Muslims, as you’re much less likely to face violent retaliation.


    Some other factors which I think motivate some people toward the anti-Christian anti-Southern mindset…One is the fear that Christians, especially Southern Christians, are anti-science, and that Republican electoral victories will reduce Federal support for science or even lead to restrictions on scientific research. And indeed, some conservatives/Republicans have been known to make some pretty strange statements, such as Representative Paul Broun’s recent assertion that “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” But in realistic terms, there is far more threat to U.S. science from “animal rights” terrorists–the vast majority of whom are politically on the Left–than from anti-evolutionists. Also, there are certainly significant pressures on allowable and non-allowable topics for university research emanating from the “politically correct” Left. And numerous followers of “progressivism” are believers in various forms of mysticism, such as magical crystals and a conscious Gaia, which are at least as inconsistent with pure scientific materialism as are the Biblical miracles. At the level of practical technology, the irrational hostility toward nuclear power, genetically-modified crops, etc comes almost entirely from the Left.

    Another factor is sex. Many seem to fear that conservatives/Republicans are anti-sex “Puritans,” and will force women into metaphorical (or maybe not so metaphorical!) chastity belts. Democratic Party operatives have done their best to conflate opposition to forcing institutions to pay for birth control with opposition to birth control itself. In reality, of course, no serious Republican national-level politician is remotely proposing the banning of birth control, or for that matter the banning of homosexuality. And, speaking of “Puritanism,” we should also note that the anti-male hostility emanating from certain radical feminists, who are almost entirely creatures of the Left, has done much to poison the relationship between the sexes, especially on college campuses.

    Yet another factor involved in fear/hostility toward Christians is historical: it is indeed true that Christianity has often been used as an excuse for religious persecutions. Mary Antin, a Jewish immigrant who came to the U.S. from Russia in the early 1900s, wrote that pogroms in her home country had sometimes been led by priests carrying crucifixes, and it took her several years to get past an instinctual aversive reaction when passing by a Christian church. (She later became acquainted with several American priests and came to respect them for the work they were doing among the poor.) And, of course, the Holocaust was perpetrated largely by people who represented themselves as Protestants or Catholics. But in today’s world, hostility toward Israel…which more than occasionally shades off into outright anti-Semitism…is mainly generated by the “progressive” Left. Surely one is far more likely to encounter anti-Semitism among the members of the church that Barack Obama attended for 20 years than among the members of your typical Southern Baptist church or Catholic parish.

    It’s important to understand history, but it’s also very dangerous to identify one’s friends and enemies based entirely on historical considerations while ignoring current realities. I read somewhere of a remote town in Russia where, at the time of the German invasion in 1941, the local Jews looked forward to the coming of the German troops. The town had been occupied during the earlier war, and the German officers of that time–only 20 years earlier–had been considerably less thuggish and anti-Semitic than the homegrown Czarist local officials. The town’s Jews, largely cut off from news of the outside world, did not realize that “German soldier” meant something different in 1941 than it had in 1914. Analogously, “Democratic politician” means something very different in 2012 than it did in 1960.

    The primary factor behind anti-Christian/anti-”redneck” feelings is, almost certainly, the fact that these groups offer a convenient target for in-group solidarity and feelings of superiority at the expense of the “other.” To the extent that people not motivated by this factor are considering a vote for Barack Obama and/or other “progressive” Democratic candidates based on concerns about Christians and “rednecks,” they are prioritizing fears which are largely imaginary over dangers which are all too real.

    The anti-Christian, anti-”redneck” phobias have been key contributors to the spread of the “progressive” ideology that threatens virtually all aspects of American life, from freedom of speech to national security to economic well-being.

     

    31 Responses to “The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      My oldest son, a 47 year old lawyer, is contemptuous of Orange County as some sort of redneck paradise. He voted for Obama and expresses a leftist agenda that he pretends is libertarian. He married a nice women who has a PhD and teaches psychology at a Catholic college in Berkley; They had a Catholic wedding and have a number of friends who are nuns, reflexively leftist, of course.

      We were all gathered at a USC football game a few years ago having a picnic before the game. His wife is a big Cal fan although she did not go to the Berkley campus. Some USC kids walked by us carrying a sign that said USC freshmen had higher SAT scores than Cal freshmen. Of course, it was before the SC-Cal game. My son’s wife became incensed at the idea and followed the kids with the sign to demand what their evidence was.

      The whole thing was funny but illustrative of the mind set.

      Of course, they live in the Bay Area. They now have a daughter and we are all hoping motherhood tempers her angry leftist thinking. They are both very nice people if you stay away from politics.

      My son has a good friend who is quite conservative, also a lawyer. At their wedding reception, at the Berkley Club, he and I were outside smoking cigars when an older lady with a crew cut came out and angrily informed us that smoking within 25 feet of the club was not allowed. I asked her for a tape measure and she flounced back into the club. Never heard from her again.

      Keeping your sense of humor helps.

      The science thing is far worse on the left. Global warming and all.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I gav up posting at Open Salon for that very reason – that conservative/libertarians were being so frequently framed as “the other” in the most disparaging and viciously ignorant terms. I just came to the point where I had no energy or inclination to argue any more with the most malignant of them (although some independent conservo/libertarian spirits have bravely carried on the fight ), since the management of OS ALWAYS selected the most leftoid OS members for editorial picks and for the front page. Continuing there felt like shoveling s**t against the tide, and I just had better things to do.

      I did, now and again, try pointing out that setting up “the other” as the favored go-to punching bag would not end well. I am well on the way to considering much of the intellectual, media and professional political class as (as Subotai Bahadur calls them) Those Who No Longer Are Our Countrymen. Sometimes I do wish that elements of the right and left coasts would just withdraw from the Union and go join Canada, or something. They are no longer our countrymen, and among them I count some near and otherwise dear relatives. This is horrifically sad, that it has come to this. Now I see how the Civil War came about.

    3. Gringo Says:

      Michael Kennedy
      My oldest son, a 47 year old lawyer, is contemptuous of Orange County as some sort of redneck paradise.
      I would be interested in finding out his opinion of Orange County CongresspersonLoretta Sanchez (D, CA-47), who two years ago delivered a racist rant against Vietnamese on Univision in fractured Spanish.[Examples of her fractured Spanish:"Vietnamentes" instead of "Vietnamitas" and "nostra comunidad" instead of "nuestra comunidad."] A Redneck Democrat and Hispanic to boot- whooda thunkit?

      As I was the offspring of a North/South marriage, at an early age I had good impressions of both areas, impressions which became more mixed as I matured. Before I graduated from high school I realized that people whom I esteemed would not necessarily agree with me on politics or religion. We would agree to disagree, and go on to other topics. I have split my life in nearly equal fractions between North and South.

      Right after the 1976 election, a fellow classmate at a northern university informed me and several other classmates that she didn’t vote for Jimmy Carter because she didn’t trust someone from the South.

      Several years later I told a TX relative by marriage that the South had no monopoly on racism- as that had been my experience growing up in the North. She said she appreciated hearing me say that. She taught at an integrated school, and was fond of all her students.

      While I have never been a churchgoer, church people scare me a lot less than the Politically Correct. At least the church people have some humility. Moreover, when the church people knock on your door and you reply that you are not interested, church people do not follow the advice of the POTUS and get in my face. They quietly walk away.

    4. tyouth Says:

      Michael, I wonder what your son and his wife’s opinion is, and what’s to blame, for the deterioration of the Golden State. Maybe there isn’t a problem (acknowledged)?

    5. Gringo Says:

      Try this for the Loretta Sanchez link.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrOirjcWe-I

      Loretta Sanchez

    6. PenGun Says:

      Again trying for brevity. Why we, an old hippie in my case, have problems with the South and Christianity?

      Well I can still remember Gov Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama blocking the colored kids to preserve his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

      Today the Pope declared a bunch of saints. The poor guy declared the Patron Saint of Alter Boys will forever, well a long time anyway, be the butt of Catholic jokes about abuse. I could not help myself.

      Any area is a mix of people but both Christianity and the South in America have gained a certain notoriety, some of it well deserved.

    7. veryretired Says:

      In the instances I’ve encountered this condescending attitude towards those of us in flyover country, I have observed some interlocking delusions:

      First is the conviction that whatever the more superior being knows is the only important knowledge worth having, and that all the lesser beings are stunted by not possessing such insights.

      This is the gnostic fallacy writ large, but in a secular arena instead of a religious one. (Although, many secular beliefs possess all the faith elements of a religious doctrine, only without god—marxism is the best and most well-known example, with deep ecology a close second.)

      I often think of one of my uncles when I run into this attitude. He was a terrific mechanic, and ran a small garage business for many years. He kept the used cars I always bought running long past their normal shelf life.

      Whatever his political or social opinions, if something with an engine didn’t run right, he was a good guy to know. I’ve known and been friends with several men and women like that, and, if things fall apart from one cause or the other, it’s those folks I will go to, not some oh-so-superior intellectual who couldn’t change a light bulb without help.

      Secondly, there is the larger conceit that being superior in one area, i.e., some intellectual field, means an overall superiority in all other areas that really matter.

      This is the foundation of the pervasive belief among progressives that they possess a moral sense above and beyond that of lesser mortals, and that their opinions, whether specifically informed or not, are always correct.

      Thirdly, and very importantly, is the rock-solid conviction that good intentions lead invariably to good results, and that any problems or failure are the result of some obstructing, non-progressive element.

      There is always a scapegoat that can be made to fit the bill. History is full of them, and the current bad guys are the mean rich guys and evil bankers. The fact that this is an old and very worn stereotype is lost on the new intelligentsia, who are surprisingly uninformed when compared to their over-inflated opinion of themselves.

      There are certainly many other factors that could be cited, but I have run on more than enough, and, as always, I appreciate the courtesy of this site in allowing an old man to compose his essays in an atmosphere of rational discussion.

    8. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      PenGun Says:
      October 21st, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Well I can still remember Gov Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama blocking the colored kids to preserve his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

      Let me see. Governor Wallace. Democrat, I believe you will find. Lester Maddox? The same. Strom Thurmond? Democrat AND leader of the KKK. In fact, when the Klan ran roughshod over the South, they were pretty much the action arm of the local Democrats.

      In fact, if you look at the founders and leaders of the Confederacy; you will find that they were all members of the Democratic Party.

      If you look at the long term rule in the worst cities of the north; where de facto segregation is still the rule and black unemployment, schools, and social structures are the worst, all are and have been for generations governed by Democrats.

      Yet the default position of those who claim to oppose racism and Christianity is to rally to support the very politicians who stood in that door, who divide the country on the basis of race, and who would replace all things spiritual with things bureaucratic.

      Note for the record, that I am not of the Judeo-Christian faith in any of its varieties. I studied Catholicism in my youth, but did not convert. It turns out that I found that I am not a person who has that much faith.

      But I do not fear those of Western religious faith, for they have a common ethical basis for their conduct and belief in the innate value of the individual. Those of Leftist Faith have as their ultimate catechism the cell, the camp, and the bullet in the back of the head.

      Subotai Bahadur

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Gringo, my son grew up in Orange County so his disdain is learned behavior. We all joke about the “Orange Curtain” but I was shocked at a reminder a few years ago. My middle daughter, also a lefty, moved to Santa Monica and I finally got tired of her and her husband’s parking tickets so I took my name off her car. They both drive cars I have given them. Her auto insurance with the Santa Monica address more than doubled. I had no idea how nice the Orange Curtain was.

      I pride myself on being able to use tools and fix things. I have a couple of doctorates but consider my skills at mechanical work to be important and have great respect for people with those skills, especially if they exceed mine. I have spent many hours watching skilled workmen to learn as much as I can. I also have great respect for farming. The intellectuals with no skills would starve in the state of nature they so glorify.

    10. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I really don’t think that the phenomenon requires a lot of explanation. The Democrat Party of the 21st century is run by Marxist Socialists*. They believe that religion is the opiate of the masses and that materialist atheism is the truth about the nature of existence.

      Clearly religious people who believe things not written by Marx are stupid, and to the extent that they continue to propagate their religion they are evil counter revolutionaries.

      They also think that people who do not accept their leadership are both stupid and evil.

      These are the reasons why they purged southerns from their party, and why they persecute Roman Catholics. The only real question in my mind is how long they are going to be able to keep African-Americans on their plantation.

      * Not redundant. There is such a thing as Christian communism. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnster_Rebellion.

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Michael, I realize that Orange County has long had a certain rep. After all, John Schmitz, once the American Independent Party’s candidate for President, was a Congressman from Orange County. I found it interesting how Loretta Sanchez’s racist tirade didn’t fit the stereotype of Orange County: this was not Wanda White Bread of the John Birch Society going on a racist tirade, but a Hispanic.

      PenGun
      the University of Alabama blocking the colored kids to preserve his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”. Apparently you have not bothered in the ensuing half century to learn anything more about George Wallace. From Wikipedia:

      In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness.[note 3] In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.”[4]
      ……Wallace’s final term as governor (1983–1987) saw a record number of black appointments to state positions.[52] In his fourth term, Wallace became the first governor to appoint two black members in the same cabinet, a number that has been equaled but never surpassed.

      One may debate why George Wallace made this change, but the point is that he made this change.

      Are you really so ignorant that you were unaware of George Wallace’s change of heart, or are you simply being a troll?

      Another indication that racial relations have improved in the South can be found in by New Great Migration, which has featured blacks moving back to the South. This has reversed in part the Great Migration out of the South earlier in the 20th century.

      The South scored net gains of black migrants from all three of the other regions of the U.S. during the late 1990s, reversing a 35-year trend. Of the 10 states that suffered the greatest net loss of blacks between 1965 and 1970, five ranked among the top 10 states for attracting blacks between 1995 and 2000.

      Southern metropolitan areas, particularly Atlanta, led the way in attracting black migrants in the late 1990s. In contrast, the major metropolitan areas of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco experienced the greatest out-migration of blacks during the same period.

      Among migrants from the Northeast, Midwest, and West regions, blacks were more likely than whites to select destinations in the South. Atlanta and Washington, D.C. were the top destinations for black migrants from all three regions; white migrants moved to a broader set of areas including Miami, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

      College-educated individuals lead the new migration into the South. The “brain gain” states of Georgia, Texas, and Maryland attracted the most black college graduates from 1995 to 2000, while New York suffered the largest net loss

      If college educated blacks are moving to the South, the South must not be as bad as you imagine. Try learning something before you post.

    12. Gringo Says:

      PenGun’s quote should be:

      Well I can still remember Gov Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama blocking the colored kids to preserve his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

      Preview, preview.

    13. David Foster Says:

      RS…”(Today’s Democrats) believe that religion is the opiate of the masses and that materialist atheism is the truth about the nature of existence”

      But there are strains of mysticism among “progressives” which are not at all compatible with strict materialist atheism. The obsession with race/ethnicity is also something you wouldn’t expect to find in a consistent Marxist. (Yes, I know Marx himself was an anti-Semite, but there is no theoretical fit of racism/anti-Semitism in Marxism in the way there was in Fascism, especially the Nazi variant thereof.

      Today’s “progressivism” is certainly heavily influenced by Marxism, but there are other strands in it as well.

    14. veryretired Says:

      Oh, yes, the north was so superior in racial matters. I can still remember my mother talking about how she was at a nice restaurant in a major northern city and a black couple finished their meal and left. The busboys smashed their dishes as they put them in the bus tray. It was done very loudly and pointedly so the other patrons would know those dishes would never appear at their table.

      The progressive myth of friendship with racial and other minorities has been one of the most pervasive and disastrous delusions of the modern age.

      In any place and time where minorities turned to the progressive camp for solidarity, they have been sold down the river, and their environment, by any measure, has deterriorated to a critical level.

      The very populations of color that the current regime claims to love and support have suffered more during these last 4 years of statist madness than they ever did under the evil rule of non-progressive R’s or D’s during the last few decades.

      And that especially includes the calamitous welfare policies that have utterly destroyed the minority family structure under the tender loving care of the “great society”, just a Daniel Moynihan predicted back in the early days of these programs.

      As I have said in other contexts, if the KKK or some other race hating group had been given the opportunity to devise policies to damage the lives of people of color in this country, they could’nt have done much worse.

    15. ErisGuy Says:

      People cannot live without hierarchy. They require both formal (sumptuary laws, affirmative action, jim crow, et.al.) and informal hierarchies. They will invent differences if they cannot find them.

      “What is the origin of this anti-Christian anti-”redneck” feeling?”

      * Satan
      * the Civil War
      * hatred of “The Other”
      * a need to exhibit and justify one’s superiority
      * a need to ignore and deflect attention from one’s own defects

      It’s not as if the sentiment wasn’t returned by the Southern planters, though they were beaten down, the emotion remains. Their own self-esteem requires it continue. And it can continue for centuries (e.g. prejudice against the Irish in England).

      Northerners have a similar of westerners. I know some people who rant about western libertarian, farmers and cattle ranchers, and about the raw hatred of Texans… I have entered no state in the Union where once someone in a group learns I was born in Texas doesn’t compare me to the murderers of James Byrd, ask when slavery will be abolished in Texas, or remind me that Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. (When I was in NYC, I reminded no one there about the Jews killed by anti-Semites in that city; perhaps I should have.)

      “no theoretical fit of racism/anti-Semitism in Marxism ”

      The content of ideas is their implementation in this world; it is where the experiment is run. Marxism cannot live without an other to exterminate: kulaks, Ukrainians, Capitalist Roaders, Bad Elements, people who wear glasses. There need not be fit between Marxism and racism or anti-Semitism, because Marxism, like racism, is irrational, violent, unrestrained hatred.

      “George Wallace” et. al.

      He’s why I can’t bring myself to vote for Democrat candidate unless the Republican, La Raza, or Libertarian candidates are each worse. The sick hatred of Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s hasn’t changed; only the object of their sick hatreds have changed. Once racist, now communist (etc.).

    16. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Anonymous, John Schmitz was a pretty interesting guy. His well known comment about “Lesbian spear chuckers” survives in California political lore. He was a sort of a family crazy uncle in GOP circles and became infamous when the story of his “second family” came out. He had two children with a former student (He was a junior college professor) and this was disclosed when the mother took a male infant to an emergency room because the child had a strand of hair wrapped tightly around its penis. This is known to occur when the mother’s longer hair gets wrapped around the penis and is not a sign of abuse. Unfortunately, the ER doctor she encountered was a fool and charged her with child abuse. The story brought to light the name of the father, Schmitz.

      This resulted in the end of his political career, divorce and the end of his wife’s career as a speaker of some sort. The weirdness continued to the next generation with his daughter, Mary Kay Latourneau who went to prison for a sexual relationship with one of her eighth grade students. She had two children fathered by the 13 year old and, after her release from prison, married him. Her first husband and her children from that marriage moved to Alaska, I believe.

      There is something to Heredity.

    17. Percy Dovetonsils Says:

      “The weirdness continued to the next generation with his daughter, Mary Kay Latourneau…”

      Holy Moses, I never knew that.

      You just can’t make this stuff up. The vast majority of fiction pales against reality.

    18. Vlad Konings Says:

      “This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments.”

      You touch on this, but let’s say it plainly: Islamists don’t pose a present threat to the Left’s political power, but conservative Christians do.

    19. Brent Says:

      Read David Hackett Fischer’s Seeds of Albion. This is the ethnic hatred of the Puritan and Quaker tribes for the Cavalier and Border Country tribes.

      The English Civil War goes on and on, although the ideological range of the factions keeps narrowing (and shifting leftwards).

    20. PenGun Says:

      “Are you really so ignorant that you were unaware of George Wallace’s change of heart, or are you simply being a troll?”

      Although I can occasionally do under/on bridge work it’s really because I am not an American and much of the minutia there escapes me.

      The general question seemed to me to be about perception of these characteristics. I gave a very small part of what I have seen as those impressions.

    21. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “The obsession with race/ethnicity is also something you wouldn’t expect to find in a consistent Marxist.”

      I don’t know why you would not expect to find racism and nationalism amongst Marxists. They have no principled objection to it.

      Use of race and nation by Marxists is a marketing technique. The one thing, they supported, that really had an impact on American life was the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They did not create the movement, that came from committed Christians, and they did not cause it to succeed, that happened because the Christians who form the bulk of the American populace responded to the call from the Christian civil rights movement. But, they did back it. After that, every wedge issue they could find was transmuted into a claim of civil rights.

      It also fit with the Soviet policy of supporting “wars of national liberation” a/k/a wars of communist enslavement.

      “Yes, I know Marx himself was an anti-Semite, but there is no theoretical fit of racism/anti-Semitism in Marxism in the way there was in Fascism, especially the Nazi variant thereof.”

      Fascism and Nazism are not things different from Marxism. All of them are variants of socialism.

      Mussolini was a disciple of Georges Sorel, a French Marxists theoretician who emphasized violence and will. Mussolini’s apothogem :

      “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State)

      is as good a definition of socialism as you can find.

      Nazism is of course National Socialism.

      As for anti-Semitism,it is an integral part of socialism, including Marxism.

      A political wag once said that anti-semitism is the socialism of fools. He was wrong. Anti-semitism is not the socialism of fools, it is socialism. Antisemitism is not an accident of socialism, it is part of its essence.

      Socialism asserts the primacy of the social collective over the individual. It sees the socialist state as the only legitimate connection among individuals, who can have no existence outside of the socialist state. see Mussolini above.

      Judaism insists on the connections among Jews and between them and God. Socialism rejects the validity of intra-ethnic connections and the idea of God. Socialism will accept individual Jews, but only if they renounce Judaism.

      Most importantly, socialism does not have a theory of human dignity or human equality. In socialist theory men are all atoms in the state. Without the state, they are nothing. The only rights they have are those which the state gives them.

      In the 19th, and the first decades of the 20th, centuries, the theory of eugenics, which held that racial disparities in capability and characteristics derived from biology, was popular among socialists, including American progressives. The theory only became anathema because of opposition to Germany.

      The contrast with classical liberal political theories is stark. In liberal theory, man precedes the state, and invents the state to serve him. As the Founders put it: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, … That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, …”

      In the liberal idea, the state is a human institution with limited powers and limited claims on its citizens. They exist in relation to their creator, to their families, and to other associations. Of course there are conflicts between these relationships, but that is life. The Constitution rightly sets a limited definition of the crime of treason.

      The idea of human equality and human dignity does not derive from liberal political ideas. It is an axiom of liberal thought and it is a religious premise that has no empirical support.

      “Today’s “progressivism” is certainly heavily influenced by Marxism, but there are other strands in it as well.”

      Marxism, socialism, fascism, progressivism, Trotskyism, post-modernism, etc., etc., & etc. are all different labels for the same crummy vodka.

      Their factional disputes are like the theological differences among Christians. When you step back and consider them from a distance, they are all really pretty much the same. They are all kufirs.

    22. David Foster Says:

      “Fascism and Nazism are not things different from Marxism. All of them are variants of socialism”

      This argument is often made by conservatives/libertarians. I think that while there are obviously strong commonalities among these political movements, there are also differences, and these are very important from a political dialogue and marketing standpoint. I intend to write a whole post on this one of these days, but don’t have the time at the moment. For now, a couple of points:

      Remember, Naziism succeeded in Germany because it was able to play to the economic fear and class resentment among the unemployed and those fearing to be unemployed, while avoiding the anti-nationalist sentiment that had steered many of these people away from the German Socialist parties (hence, NATIONAL socialism.) At the same time, while asserting strong government control over the economy, Naziism steered away from outright nationalization, allowing business owners to maintain a kind of “ownership” and limited managerial authority, as long as they played the role they were told to play. Also, Naziism, at the same time it claimed ability to improve the economy, tended to deemphasize economic values as opposed to warrior values.

      Regarding the psychological commonalities and differences, here’s Aldous Huxley”

      “In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet–the scientific poet–of a new mythology. Both are justified in their pretensions; for each applies to human situations the procedures which have proved effective in the laboratory and the ivory tower. They simplify, they abstract, they eliminate all that, for their purposes, is irrelevant and ignore whatever they choose to regard an inessential; they impose a style, they compel the facts to verify a favorite hypothesis, they consign to the waste paper basket all that, to their mind, falls short of perfection…the dream of Order begets tyranny, the dream of Beauty, monsters and violence.”

    23. Ginny Says:

      In terms of geography and culture, I think the north/south distinction is less useful after 1865. The West was just opening after the war and fly-over country was populated by veterans from both sides, often settling together in the same small mid-western towns. They retained some of that old enmity, perhaps, but it was a new world with new people – as Emerson observed. The west was different, defined itself later, and was an escape valve for both southerners and northerners.

      The only African-American that lived in our village had been a slave in my mother’s father’s family and decided to come west. He became a major home builder as the nineteenth century moved along.

      Emigration from southern Europe, from middle Europe was just beginning and had a large influence on culture after 1870 – more strongly influencing culture in the areas being settled, as the first always have.

      I suspect a study of the percentage of Italians, Germans, Slavs, and Jews in 1865 would be incredibly different than that same percentage in 1910. We valued Americanization in those years and it took place – but that doesn’t mean that the cultures of these groups didn’t also influence the way they “Americanized.” My impression other northern European groups were also coming in those years (the Swedes and Danes retained their hyphenated identity in the villages they’d settled when I was growing up in the 50′s).

      But under it all, isn’t it the contrast between the culture of life – self-reliance, resilience, productivity, even joy – and the culture of death – nihilism, statism, retreat, dissipation?

    24. Jim Miller Says:

      This is a serious discussion, but I can’t help interjecting this famous quip: When Congressman Schmitz was asked why he joined the Birch Society, he replied: “To appeal to the middle of the road vote in Orange County.”

      (Orange County was different then.

      Okay, now back to the serious discussion.

      Here’s a data point that has always interested me: One of the strongest states for the KKK was Indiana.

      Decades ago, American blacks liked to say that in the South they could could get as close as they wanted, and in the North they could get as high as they wanted. Each area discriminated, but in different ways.

      So, PenGun, where are you from? (Not that anyone here would use that to criticize you, in the slightest way.)

    25. Robert Schwartz Says:

      David: I couldn’t agree with you less.

      The closest analogy I can give you, and I think it is a very good one is the Protestant reformation. At that time time Catholics condemned the Protestants as heretics and the Protestants condemned the Catholics as pagans. They fought several bloody wars that culminated with the 30 Years War. A large percentage of the population of central Europe died in those conflicts.

      But now, almost 400 years later, it is hard for a non-christian, and even for many Christians to tell the difference between the two sides. Indeed to many students of history the national differences and political conflicts look far more important that the theological struggles.

      So it is with Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Post-Modernism, Socialism, Maoism, etc, etc, etc. Yes there are theological differences. But they are far less important than the commonalities. And, there is not much difference between the 2012 democrat party and any of the above listed ideologies. And, that is what is important.

    26. David Foster Says:

      “Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Post-Modernism, Socialism, Maoism, etc”

      The variations among these ideologies affect who is attracted to them and why, and hence what are the best tactics for minimizing conversions in the wrong direction and minimizing conversions in the right direction.

      In terms of your Reformation analogy: given that there is great commonality among flavors of CHristianity, there are also factors that tend to draw individuals to one or the other. Catholicism, for example, has generally been more tolerant of elements of older (“pagan”) religions than has Protestantism. If you were a leader of a non-Christian nation who wanted to *avoid* having your people convert to Christianity in any form, it would be a good thing to understand these differences.

      Segmentation of competitors, like segmentation of markets, is important.

    27. Gringo Says:

      Gringo[Anon]“Are you really so ignorant that you were unaware of George Wallace’s change of heart, or are you simply being a troll?”

      PenGun
      Although I can occasionally do under/on bridge work it’s really because I am not an American and much of the minutia there escapes me.
      Your not being a US citizen didn’t stop you from commenting in the first place. You don’t get style points for making sneering, ignorant remarks just because you are not a US citizen- especially when your remarks suggest you haven’t bothered to learn anything in 50 years.

      Because I used to work in Latin America, I have an interest in Latin American politics. On occasion when I have commented on Latin America on various blogs, I have been mistaken for a citizen of the Latin American country being discussed- because I have taken the trouble to learn about that country before I comment. [When I was working in Latin America, I did not express opinions on local politics, because I realized that the locals knew a lot more than I. Locals did on occasion bring up politics to me, but that was their choice. ]

      Your case is not uncommon: foreigners whose actual knowledge of the US is a lot less than they believe it to be. In reading blogs about Latin America and other places, I have encountered a fair amount of such people, who gratuitously make a point about the US to show how much they know when they don’t know their coccyx from their ulna – so to speak. I am reminded of an old joke about Argentines. How do you get rich? Buy an Argentine for what he is worth, and sell him for what he thinks he is worth. I could get rich buying foreigners for what they know about the US, and selling the foreigners for what they believe they know about the US.

      One point in your favor: by reading this blog, you are exposing yourself to points of view about the US that one is not likely to hear outside the US- or inside the US, for that matter.
      Naipaul’s book A Turn in the South is worth a read.

    28. Mike K Says:

      At the same time, while asserting strong government control over the economy, Naziism steered away from outright nationalization, allowing business owners to maintain a kind of “ownership” and limited managerial authority, as long as they played the role they were told to play. Also, Naziism, at the same time it claimed ability to improve the economy, tended to deemphasize economic values as opposed to warrior values.

      Aside from the loaded term “Nazi” this economic philosophy resembles Obama’s plans for the country. Of course, the racial theories of the Nazis are turned upside down in the Obama/Holder world. Am I the only one who has noticed the pattern of Obama staffing of the federal government or the number of appointees being converted to civil service ? Maybe I’m just the only one mentioning it.

    29. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “given that there is great commonality among flavors of CHristianity, there are also factors that tend to draw individuals to one or the other.”

      This is an American protestant misunderstanding of what religions are and how religious and political change happens. Here in the US in the 21st Century, religions exist in a social equilibrium and individuals can decide which one to join. But, this is an anomalous situation, and what I just described is not a correct description of a complex reality.

      Religions are kits of rituals and themes that bind communities. In historic Europe, religious changes occurred because communities were doing things like fissioning, combining, asserting independence from others, etc.

      In the 16th Century, Scotland, for instance saw the lowlands communities become Presbyterian. The conversion was an expression of the unity of those communities, and their distance from their rulers. The highlands remained Catholic because the people were ethnically and linguistically separate from the lowlands and because they had a more hierarchical and stable relationship with their lairds.

      The same Calvinist ideas that were expressed as the Reformed Kirk in Scotland, known in the US as Presbyterians, were also used in England, and produced first the Church of England. That formation was not stable after the death of Elizabeth I, and the ascension of the Stuarts brought on a struggle between the “puritans” and the Stuarts as to who and how the church was to be run.

      Despite the proximity of Scotland, the common monarchy, and the English language, Englishmen did not join the Reform Kirk nor did they appropriate its rules and rituals wholesale. Dissenters organized their own churches and defined themselves in relation to the CoE.

      The story with ideologies is much the same, because they function in much the same way as religions. There is no social equilibrium in ideologies. The “progressivism” or “liberalism” of the Democrat party is a social system as well as an intellectual system. This is why it is so important to so many of them to avoid socializing with conservatives. They want to live in that social world sharing their narrative as a defense against social isolation.

      As an ideology it is very much of a piece with European socialist party ideologies. It originated in the Wallaceite wing of the Democrat party, and many of its creators had connections with the CPUSA (which is very impolite to mention). This explains their pro-Russian foreign policy orientation. In the 1940s, the hierarchy of the Democrat party removed Wallace from the Vice Presidency when there was a serious danger that the VP elected in 1944 would become President.

      In 1972 they took over the Party, and the nominations of John Kerry, who was a traitor during the Vietnam War, and Barack Obama, whose communist affiliations are well documented, have sealed their control over the party. This is why they were so anxious to betray the Vietnamese people in the 1970s and why they support the Castro Brothers and the Palestinians. Remember how they ran Joe Lieberman out of the Party in favor of a grand nephew of Corliss Lamont, the Chairman of National Council of American-Soviet Friendship starting from early 1940s.

      The Democrat party will never be open about its ideological underpinnings. They know that not even their most pathetic clients would put up with them for long if they came out and said that they were socialists, and pro-/Soviet, and damn proud of it.

      The important point hers is that this is social system, not an intellectual system. If it were an intellectual system, it would have collapsed long ago. But, until social system can no longer meet the need of their members to be connected. And why it is more important to defund PBS than to win any debates.

    30. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      “I’d think that one would be a lot more worried about people who want to cut your head off, blow you up…”

      The group that feels it should be culturally dominant in America hates its main competitor here. All those events in other parts of the world are unimportant, only targets on the video screen that is played out in DC. They don’t see themselves as in danger from our enemies – they are in danger of losing influence to Christianists here. That is more important to them.

      As they tend not to be in the military and are not in international business, they are likely correct that they are not much in direct danger from our enemies. That will come later.

      Sgt. Mom – they are World Citizens, which means “a coalition of European and North American liberals.” Thus they are able to define patriotism differently.

    31. David Foster Says:

      Lou Gerstner, who was IBM CEO from 1993-2002, noted in his memoirs that when he joined the company, most people seemed a lot more concerned with beating *internal* competitors than with beating other companies. Certainly, the tendency to focus more on adjacent competitors exists to a greater or lesser degree in all organizations, and surely Gerstner had seen similar things in his earlier jobs at American Express and Nabisco. But the problem was evidently enough worse at IBM for him to be strongly impressed, and not in a good way, by it.