President Biden’s Inaugural Address placed considerable emphasis on the need for national unity. This of course means universal obedience and submission to the doctrines and dictates of the Biden administration. Unity cannot be willed. It either exists in fact or is simulated out of fear. We may be able to create propitious conditions for unity by renouncing vilification of those with whom we disagree, but President Biden’s declaration of war on the bogey of “white supremacy” suggests that this is not on the menu. Continue reading
“Each period of history has some topic of predominant interest, which indicates the prevailing spirit of the age. Certain words . . . appear in every page of contemporary annals, and then go out of use altogether . . .”
“Constitutions,” The North American Review (1821)
“The influence of false philosophy . . . is a malaria to the general intellect, a brooding fog over the whole mind of the age . . . diffusing everywhere a pestilential, stupefying power.”
Review of The Friend, by S. T. Coleridge, in The North American Review (1835)
I remember my eighth-grade history teacher telling the class that one of the many blessings of living in these United States is that citizens could not be harassed by retroactive laws. The quiet fervor with which I recited the Pledge of Allegiance the next morning was perceptibly amplified. I already had a guilty conscience, and the thought that today’s acts might merit punishment under tomorrow’s law was more than I could bear. Continue reading
Few Orthosphere readers have accused me of being overly optimistic, but I think I can relieve the anxiety of some on the Right who fear that, with the Democrats in full control of the federal government, the Left will be emboldened and significantly accelerate their crackdowns. My fellow reactionaries only have to remember what they already believe and have often said. All real power is held by some combination of the mass media, large corporations, the “permanent government” (civil service), and elite universities. Leadership in these institutions definitely has not changed hands. They can be emboldened only to the extent that they were previously restrained.
I hear that they are stepping up the expulsion of conservatives from social media. I’ve been hearing that for a long time, and I suppose it’s always true, but these media are only appropriate for short messages, which can only repeat common opinion. We reject the entire established worldview, and this cannot be fit into a tweet. A Conservative are now being expelled might actually be better off, since without Twitter and Facebook records it will be much more work for strangers to put together the case to have him or her punished in more serious ways.
It will certainly be a shame if we lose longer-form internet publications like this one. I also hear that the Left now has a more powerful justification for censorship in the need to crush “insurrection”, but this excuse seems to be of narrower potential application than the others the Left already has in its arsenal. For example, it would be much easier to make the case that the Orthosphere should be shut down and its writers lose our jobs because we are committing hate speech, creating a hostile environment, perpetuating “whiteness”, than trying to make an argument that we are plotting to overthrow the government.
I do have a strong bias toward assuming things will remain the same. It often serves me well but sometimes fails spectacularly. Still this is my guess. Things will keep getting worse for dissidents at about the same rate they have been for the past year, which unfortunately is pretty fast.
I would like to point out, in a manner that does not originate with me, that being very against and even very mad at some entity that you have decided does not exist is perverse. In fact, to carry on an agonistic attitude to God, it is necessary for Him to show up in order to be insulted and rejected. Attacking empty air is the behavior of a madman. If God does not present Himself, but instead retreats in the manner of Russians before Napoleon and the Germans, then the militant atheist is in the equally odd position of actively pursuing his hated one across the icy steppes, braving starvation and chill weather to catch a glimpse of his beloved, um, I mean, enemy. In the Fall semester, I had one student ask me what percentage of the course was going to mention God so he could decide whether to continue with the class or not, in a manner that suggested that he had a God allergy, and thus needed “accommodating,” another who wanted me to simply remove religious references from an ethics course – so much for Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Berdyaev, critiques of attempts to create naturalistic foundations for ethics, and most of the other articles – and two more, in another class, started posting rude and derogatory comments about the readings and, by extension, me in “discussion” submissions – one even claiming that bringing up God in an article defending the notion that life is worth living was “shameful.” My rather satisfying response to the students turned trolls was to ban one of them, since he had been warned, from further comments and for me to apologize on their behalf to the rest of the class for exposing them to such gross behavior. Continue reading
Fastidious readers may wish to forego the enlightenment of this post, since the road to wisdom here passes through a district that was not on the map in your Sunday school. I this morning read the unfamiliar word felching, and ever eager to expand my vocabulary immediately hit upon this: Continue reading
For those unfamiliar with comedian-genius J. P. Sears — you should familiarize yourself with his work before YouTube liquidates his public presence. Download his videos (this is what I am doing). Spread the word about him. Appreciate him.
I always look forward to reading new posts by Francis Berger, and advise you to imitate my habit of eager expectation. I must, however, register qualified dissent from his latest. In this post Berger enthuses over another post by a blogger named Kevin McCall, titled “Christianity is Inexhaustible,” in which McCall asserts: Continue reading
The James Martin Center has published Part II of my article, Leaving the Blight of Higher Education. Part I dedicated itself to a discussion of how the liberal regime that controls the institutions of higher education in our former republic has, through massive and continuous indoctrination, transformed the student body from a cohort of young people that was at least willing to learn into a mob-minded mass whose primary function is to monitor and denounce any infraction of the racialist totalitarian regime of political correctness on campus. I gave an account of the havoc that the anti-morality of denunciation works on any attempt to impart a genuine higher education. Once the slogans take over, thinking stops. I wrote how this conversion of the student-body into a quasi-police force increasingly disgusted my wife and me and led, in part, to our decision to retire from teaching – a task to which we had dedicated our lives. Part II, “Farewell, Faculty,” turns its attention to the instructor-side of the equation. My wife and I taught at what I call Upstate Consolation University for twenty years. The faculty committees that hired us in our respective departments (Foreign Languages in her case and English in mine) were firmly liberal in their political convictions but not politicized in the totalitarian way of the contemporary Left. This, too, would undergo a transformation. As older faculty members retired and newly graduated holders of the doctorate – most of them from state universities – replaced them, the character of the department changed. The intellectual level dropped, lower and lower, until the difference, in this regard, between the teachers and the students became minimal. The character of the two groups also merged. And at this point the urge to police, to betray, and to punish made any exercise of curiosity about the human condition or openness to knowledge impossible. An adolescent narcissism made itself universal in students and faculty alike as the behavior of undergraduates became the behavior of the faculty.
I draw an excerpt from Part II, which I preface here with a back-reference to a passage in Part I that acknowledged, with an allusion to the American philosopher George Santayana, the wide general knowledge of the “Old Guard” of professors, so as to contrast them with the “New Guard.” –
As the Old Guard went into retirement a cohort of new assistant professors filled up the department’s allotted tenure-track lines. The new phase of aggressive Affirmative-Action recruitment insured that this replacement-generation of instructors, overwhelmingly female, differed starkly in character from its precursor-generation. The new hires came to the institution from the politically radicalized graduate programs of the state universities. Whereas the Old Guard corresponded to a literary-generalist or dilettante model – terms that I use in a wholly positive way – the arrivistes brought with them only their narrow specialisms, as encrusted in their conformist political dogmas. Mention Santayana to the Old Guard and chances were good that any given one of them would be familiar with the drift, at least, of the philosopher’s work. Mentioning Santayana to an arriviste produces a blank stare.
Richard Weaver’s notion of “Presentism” makes itself relevant to the discussion. By “Presentism” Weaver intends a mental restriction that has steadily eroded the modern, liberal view of reality. This mental restriction, as he puts it in his Visions of Order (1964), manifests itself primarily in a “decay of memory.” Weaver writes, “Wherever we look in the ‘progressive’ world we find encouragements not to remember.” Today it is not an “encouragement,” but rather a demand not to remember, as the profligate monument-defacement and statue-toppling of the times so savagely demonstrate. The anti-historical dementia has fully infiltrated graduate studies and through them has colonized the literary branches of higher education. The unending pageant of neologisms and slogans that now makes up “literary studies” illustrates this anti-developmental development.
Rémi Brague’s Kingdom of Man: Genesis and Failure of the Modern Project (2018) offers a lineage of, and a judgment on, “progress,” which, central to modernity, conceives itself as, precisely, a project. This word project figures importantly in Brague’s exposition. Brague (born 1947) distinguishes on the one hand between a task, a term or family of terms that he traces back to antiquity, and, on the other, a project, a term or family of terms that emerges with the so-called Enlightenment, beginning in the Seventeenth Century. (Brague translates from Greek, Latin, and various medieval and modern languages into French, and his translator, Paul Seaton, from Brague’s French into English, but readers may take for granted a thoroughness of lexical rigor across languages.) Having drawn Adam from the soil and Eve from Adam’s rib, God tasks the newly mated couple, and through them the whole of humanity, with dominion over nature, or stewardship, as some versions put it. Presumably although perhaps awkwardly one might refuse a task. A degree of voluntarism attaches itself to the concept. At the same time, the subject of the task undertakes it out of a sense of reciprocity or mutuality and in the trust that fulfilling the commission will sustain an ongoing relationship that benefits both parties – the tasker and the taskee – in the long run. A task is in the order of things. A project, by contrast, arises from a sense of urgency or panic. The discovery of a lack provokes a sudden resolution that the lack be made good as swiftly as possible. A project addresses a perceived deficiency by invoking a mandate for immediate action. Brague calls attention to the etymological basis of the word: Pro- (“forward”) and jacere (“to throw”), in Latin. Something ballistic and aggressive adheres to a project, which resembles a military campaign. Brague indeed invokes Napoleon’s campaigns, ultimately vain but hugely destructive, as instances of the generic project.