Conspiracy theories, gnosticism, and the crisis of our civilization
our participants refers to the “conspiratorial ‘insights’”
of certain parties. This is exactly right. People who say things such as that the “capture” (in scare quotes) of Hussein was really not a capture but some kind of trick believe that they are seeing the real nature of things that the rest of us are too blind to see.
That’s why beliefs like this are so immune to reason. They are not simple mistakes that a person might make, and that might be corrected by further evidence. They are revelatory (though actually blinding) insights into the hidden truth of the world. In another recent post I called this kind of experience a false epiphany.
By the way, much of anti-Semitism—namely the kind of anti-Semitism that sees the Jews as the secret cause of all the ills in the world—rests on such a false revelation. But of course it’s not limited to anti-Semitism.
The revelation of such hidden “knowledge” is called gnosticism. As Eric Voegelin said, gnosticism is motivated by a profound discontent with and alienation from the world. In the original, ancient form of gnosticism, the gnostic finds the world too painful, too much of a mess, to believe it was created by God. The world is actually a vast trick or conspiracy, created not by God, but by the demiurge, a secondary deity.
Much of “conspiratorial” thinking follows the same basic pattern as the ancient gnosticism. The person is profoundly dissatisfied with the world. He cannot accept the fact of man’s fallen state or the imperfections of society. So he starts to imagine that the fallen state of man or the bad state of society is due to some vast conspiratorial force that is controlling everything from behind the scenes—the Jews, the neoconservatives, the Masons. If only we can identify and expose this force, we will become free of it and the world will be restored to its right order.
One of the strangest things about these gnostic conspiratorial beliefs is that they deny even the most evidently true things and assert, with bland certainty, the most palpably impossible things. These theories range in scale from the local to the world-historical. Thus there are people who believe that the real killer of Nicole Brown Simpson was Detective Mark Furman. There are people who believe that the Rothschilds helped Hitler come to power because they knew that that would lead to a war between Communist Russia and Nazi Germany which would lead to the Communists’ conquering Europe. (In other words, the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe, resulting from Hitler’s invasion of Communist Russia and Communist Russia’s counterattack, was “really” the result of an superhumanly complex plan worked out in advance by the Jews.) And there are people who believe that the capture of Saddam Hussein was really an orchestrated fraud. In the gnostics’ version of reality, the U.S. authorities knew where Hussein was all along. Thus the months-long effort to untangle the network of Hussein’s relatives and clansmen in Tikrit, leading to the arrest of the person who revealed his whereabouts, and the search by a battallion of men who finally found him hiding in a hole next to a shack by the side of the Tigris, was all a vast stage show put on by that demiurge from west Texas, George W. Bush.
Gnosticism, said Voegelin, is a permanent temptation to the human psyche, but is especially deep-seated within Christian society because of the difficult-to-bear distance between God and fallen man that Christianity teaches. Moreover, gnosticism flourishes in times of profound uncertainty. Given our present civilizational crisis, and the fact that our leaders are, in some fundamental ways, betraying our civilization (not conspiratorially, but completely openly), we can only expect that gnostic thinking with its rejection of rationality will keep growing more and more prevalent for the foreseeable future.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 26, 2003 12:36 PM | Send
A truly excellent post.
Perhaps one of the drivers of rising gnosticism isn’t just the loss of faith, but also the loss of the meaning of the word faith. Ask a modern what “faith” means and he will reply that it means accepting something as fact without any evidence beyond the asserted claim. It is in this sense that I think many posters at VFR have “faith” in George Bush - we take what he says as truthfully representative of what he honestly believes and intends. We trust that his words are honestly spoken.
Faith is much more than a simple stipulation of truth or honesty, though. Faith is a reciprocal trust and loyalty. Faith is not just believing what someone tells you; it is believing what someone tells you because of that person’s credibility, and it further entails entrusting your life and giving your personal loyalty to that person. The ultimate object of faith is always a person, not a proposition; and I doubt many at VFR have this sort of faith in Bush. We trust that his words are for the most part honestly spoken; and that is a civilizational disaster despite a few true - and worthy of acknowledgment - resultant goods.
I suppose the point is that I agree with the prognostication of a continued rise in gnosticism; and I think it is driven not just by an objective loss of faith, but also in part by the loss of an understanding of what faith is at all, irrespective of its object.
Another aspect of gnosticism worthy of note is that it is the doctrine of salvation by knowledge, rather than by faith or by works. The gnostic with his special or secret knowledge is exempt from normal rules of conduct, and in the anti-nomian school, shows his elite character by displaying his contempt for accepted rules. This curious mental orientation from ancient times has its obvious parallels among today’s so-called liberals.
What does gnosticism have to do with the fact Bush is shredding the Constitution to bits?. Talk about a switch and bait!
This is not conspiracy theories. Lets keep all of that out. While this board has criticized open immigration, I noticed the article I posted about Bush essentially erasing borders was ignored. This board has moved from questioning Bush to more and more acceptance. Why is that? I have noticed this trend lately. Before the Neo-Conservativism was admitted…whats happened here?
Ron Paul even questioned the actions of this bill:
b]Congressman Paul then elaborates his many objections, which you will find interesting, if not terrifying reading. Notice that Ron Paul officially identifies “H.R. 2417” as the[u] “Patriot Act II”.[/u] [/b]Therefore, there is no doubt whatsoever that President Bush signed the “Patriot Act II” bill into law on December 13, 2003. Now, listen to the more important provisions of this terrible new law:
[b]1. Radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering activities - Police abuses of the past will return several fold
2. Reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance — One more barrier to abuse removed!
3. Authorize secret arrests - The dictatorial “knock in the middle of the night” is drawing closer
4. Create a DNA database based on unchecked, unverified executive ‘suspicion’. One more Stalin tactic (I did a thread based on this some months back)
5. Create new death penalties - Death penalties + Secret Arrests = Greatest dictatorship in history!
6. Take away American citizenship from persons who belong to disfavored political groups [/b]
Well lets look; First of all this bill does exsist:[/i][/b]
[i]Ok Found back-up information to when it was signed into law—-[/i]
[quote][size-5]IT WAS SIGNED IN ON DEC 13:[/size]
Statement By President Bush
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ —
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ — The following is a transcript of a statement given earlier today by President Bush concerning the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004:”
[b]Today, I have signed into law H.R. 2417, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004.” The Act authorizes funding for United States intelligence activities, including activities in the war against terrorists of global reach.[/b]
Go to this website, they have a link that goes right to the text of this Bill.
Go to this website and look it up by number. You have to do a new search for each time you go. Im not sure the direct link I give will work
LOOK UP “Domestic Security Enhancement Act” if the direct link below does not work.
Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act of 2003 (Introduced in Senate)
Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act of 2003 (Introduced in Senate)
Here is the link again:
Look up by bill # 2417
part of this bill is classified. Have read that on many websites.
Saw this website online listed right on Yahoo, supposely listing more of DSEA
IS AMERICA A POLICE STATE? BY RON PAUL
Victoria’s initial comment that led to this present article and thread did not have to do with Bush’s immigration policies or the Patriot Act, but with Victoria’s scare quotes around the word “capture,” when she referred to the “capture” of Hussein. Those scare quotes are undeniable proof of membership in the tinfoil hat brigade, unless Victoria wants to withdraw them.
Ill withdraw them for now. Lets discuss the Patriot Act II and the attacks on the Constitution. This country has been changed radically and many of these changes are going beyond any needed protection from terrorists.
I can’t get into a discussion of Patriot Act right now. But I will say that the attacks on the first Patriot Act over the last two years have been wildly overwrought. I am not terribly concerned about the Patriot Act. I am concerned about Bush’s immigration policies, about his support for race preferences, about his support for multiculturalism, about his continuing paeans to the “peaceful” religion of Islam, about his support for “anti-racial-profiling” rules, about his signing the McCain Feingold law, about his big government spending measures, and so on and so on.
In any case, the Patriot Act is not the subject of the current article and thread. Also, since Victoria’s withdrawal of the scare quotes is only “for now,” she’s still a member of the tinfoil hat brigade as far as I’m concerned.
I have to admit I am disappointed as just being brushed off as another tin-hatter when more and more Americans are waking up (from both the Left and Right) and realizing something is very wrong.
Does Victoria mean to tell us that more and more Americans (on both the left and the right) are waking up and realizing the fact that Hussein was not really “captured”? Because that’s the only reason I used the “tinfoil hat” characterization on her. I gave her a chance to disown her suggestion that the capture of Hussein was some vast fraud pulled off by the U.S. government (not to disown it “for now,” but to disown it, period), and she declined to do so. Victoria doesn’t seem to realize that someone who would suggest that the capture of Hussein was a fraud by our government is not going to be taken very seriously when she charges the government with other supposed abuses, such as taking away our liberties via the Patriot Act.
Please stop ignoring all my other points while taking the ad hominen route of brushing me off and calling me crazy. A person would have to be totally blocked from all news to not question what is going on.
This will be of interest to you in regards to this subject.
I have noticed that in most mainstream media and more that anyone who questions all the discrepanices is immediately tagged as a tin-hatter or crazy. I am sad to see it here. You know from my previous posts I am anything but a liberal. I am very disappointed to get this treatment here.
There certainly are provisions in the Patriot Act that should give cause for concern to those who appreciate our heritage of Liberty under Law. But is this not exactly what Mr. Auster has predicted?
The Patriot Act was made in the wake of 9/11, which occurred in the wake of massive non-European immigration, in this case of the Mohammedan variety. 9/11 couldn’t have happened in the 60s and before; those hijackers would have stuck out like a sore thumb no matter where they were.
In “The Path to National Suicide” toward the end of Chapter II, sect 3, ‘Unlimited Diversity — A Threat to Liberty,’ Mr. Auster correctly noted the increasing role that government must play in mediating among vastly different cultural types. What we’ve seen recently extends Mr. Auster’s prophecy somewhat, but is still in the same vein.
If I had put ‘captured’ in quotes, it would have been along the lines of “That wasn’t a fight; it was a rout.” ;-)
What Mr. Auster has left out in this discussion is the existence of a personal devil — Satan — who, within God’s permissive will as seen in Job, does play a role in deceiving the nations. Satan opposes God, and imagines that he can be as God. He is the first and archetypical liberal.
Satan does not merely try to encourage men to be overtly evil — though he does that well. His purposes are as well served if he can make men believe that they can be good — without God. The Bible speaks of how he “is transformed into an angel of light,” and his ministers too. We know some of them.
The conspiracy theories we all hear about are largely crackpot overall, but I perceive a kernel or two of truth in some of them. The notion of all these ‘societies,’ secret or otherwise, working in some conscious collusion is impossible. But when we consider that this same lying spirit is underlying all of their efforts, they are in a sense ‘working together’ as dupes whether they realize it or not. We all know of the push toward a one-world government. This is all clearly prophesied in Scripture, as Protestant, Catholic, and other interpretations affirm.
The doctrine of Satan as a liar and the father of lies, who deceives men and nations, is what ties together the grains of truth that exist among the different ‘theories.’
I feel quite certain that, if pushed, many, perhaps even most, contributors to this forum would express real reservations about the various Patriot Acts and domestic security legislation; particularly in view of the administration’s irresponsible complacency regarding Islam and Muslim immigration. But skepticism and hysteria are altogether different things.
To my mind, it is difficult to see how legislation passed by the representatives of We the People (or Us the People, to be grammatically correct), reflecting in some way the deliberate sense of Americans, post-9/11, can be construed as so obviously unconstitutional. Does the Preamble to our Constitution not read “We the People,” do ordain this constitution “in order to … insure domestic tranquility [and] provide for the common defense”? I read that and I say to myself, well, the sky is pretty much the limit regarding legislation oriented toward these goals, so long as that legislation passed through the correct channels, thus embracing the republican nature of our nation.
Someone will object: What about the Bill of Rights?! My reply here is sure to be controversial, but I contend that the Bill of Rights was not written as a sweeping limitation on the powers of Congress. In support of this contention I would cite the fact that the Philadelphia Convention which drew up the Constitution actually took up a proposal for including a Bill of Rights in the original document — and rejected it, unanymously. I would also cite the plain fact that the same generation of men that passed the Bill of Rights also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. I would also cite the prominence of loyalty oaths in early America, a prominence which remained largely in force until the liberals turned against it during the McCarthy era.
In short, it is difficult for me to get “all fired up” about legislation enacted in Congress for the express purpose of protecting the country against another massive terrorist attack. I am more “fired up,” as I suggested above, but the irresponsibility of our representative bodies on this count: their failure to act against the massive national security problem on our southern border, their brassbound complacency toward Christianity’s oldest organized foe, their complacent countenance of subversion, etc, etc.
This is why I am confused Mr. Auster often has expressed concerns about the Patriot Acts but suddenly I am put on the black list for daring to question what the media is telling us on one matter.
There have been way too many lies. Seperating truth from lies today especially given the Iraq war and things pertaining to government has become nearly impossible. This administration by far has been more secretive then any other. Even Congress itself is blocked from important information. I could post articles about that.
For some reason this administration seems to want our populace in a state of sustained fear. All these warnings have to do with that. Cry Wolf too many times and people stop listening, that has already happened.
Bush wishes to erase the borders essentially if you read the news about how he wishes to legalize immigration. Now think about how this would affect Islamic terrorism. Mr. Auster has indeed been correct about the affects of unlimited immigration on our country.
*****If I had put ‘captured’ in quotes, it would have been along the lines of “That wasn’t a fight; it was a rout.” ;-)
I would agree. This came from my own eyes. I looked at the picture Saddam in the beard and thought two things automatically—a) It did not look like him, something was off-I am an artist who has a good visual memory especially for famous people I have seen endless times on the History Channel and in books I own, b) Very long beards cannot be grown in just a year’s time. This was my own decision. In fact I can show an article where one news agency calls the beard fake and the other does not—I had the fortune in reading both articles within the same day.
Here is an example of the discrepancy:
“Saddam’s beard was shaved and his hair trimmed for identification purposes, military officials said.”
““He was wearing a fake beard and laboratory tests have proven his identity beyond any doubt,” said the statement. “
Such contradictions if enough news, can alert people. Mr Auster may be upset by me asking these questions but this is what is behind it and those quotes. Why should I trust George Bush about anything given the timing of the passing of Patriot Act II and this capture? Other things have been timed this way. I expect Bin Laden to almost be paraded down the street the day before elections now.
Joel, this is a spiritual battle. Satan is now deceiving nations and much of this has to do with the formation of a Global Order via the UN. I would suggest Mr. Auster researches what has happened in regards to our immigration law and United Nations charters, he can start from that point and then see how many of these things interconnect as to the deceptions that are now happening in the American government.
I can show something and Ill do it here. Here is UNESCO’s plans for world religions. This is not made up, it is right off their website. It is openly stated:
“A suggestion was made that peace will come when we can accept in our own temple the divine presence celebrated in the temples of other religions.”
“True conversion, it was underlined, is the inner conversion from egoism to universality, to the realization of the divinity of man, and to the program of action of developing good individuals and enlightened citizens. “
Do the Bushs support UNESCO? Well they had us rejoin it…
“Mrs. Bush said UNESCO can play an important role in the quest for world peace by spreading the values of “education, tolerance, respect for all human life, and respect for each other’s differences.” “
Many people brush off those who see Satan’s mounting deceptions as “conspiracy theorists” and “crazy” and “tin-hatter” but all one has to do is look deeper and go to the sites themselves, and read what they say. Biblical knowledge also helps. I know many such as myself who see the mounting one world religion and government are brushed off as ‘crazy” this is nothing new to me. I believe in Biblical prophecy. I know the “peace” now promoted is a false peace—Daniel 8:25
******The conspiracy theories we all hear about are largely crackpot overall, but I perceive a kernel or two of truth in some of them. The notion of all these ‘societies,’ secret or otherwise, working in some conscious collusion is impossible. But when we consider that this same lying spirit is underlying all of their efforts, they are in a sense ‘working together’ as dupes whether they realize it or not. We all know of the push toward a one-world government. This is all clearly prophesied in Scripture, as Protestant, Catholic, and other interpretations affirm.
I believe it is happening now. There is no Illuminati, no Lizards in human skins—a la David Icke, that stuff is nonsense. In fact one thing adding to the deception is that anyone who asks even serious questions is brushed off as crazy. This is why I am disappointed by being faced with it on this board and I am glad you have written your response Joel. But there is a mounting push towards one-world government and I believe Bush’s administration is part of it. I gave him the benefit of the doubt before, but now no longer. Mr. Auster can decide that I am just a crock-pot but all I have to do is read all the conflicting reports, read the UN charters and read the mainstream news to know something is VERY WRONG.
I’ve already explained the essential fallacy that Victoria—along with many many other people today—has fallen into, and in her latest post she gives further evidence of it. The fallacy goes like this: Bush stands for liberal ideas that are anathema to the long-term survival of our civilization; Bush is therefore the Enemy; therefore everything that Bush does and says is suspect. So when Hussein is captured, even that well-covered event is seen as a massive manipulation.
A reasonable person judges each case by its merits, not by an a priori conclusion. A reasonable person makes distinctions between, on one hand, the bad things Bush stands for or the deceptions he has engaged in, and, on the other hand, the good things he stands for and his truthfulnessness and consistency in many cases. But more and more of the world today reasons only from a priori conclusions. They decide that Bush is the enemy; or that America is the “hyperpower”; or that Israel is an “oppressor.” and then they look to fit each event into that pre-conception. They are not looking at reality.
Thus for example, an e-mail that was posted on the web tells how the writer has having a beer at a neighborhood bar/restaurant in NYC’s West Village last weekend, when he saw the following:
“Three mid-50’s liberals were going on about the capture of Saddam; how it was a conspiracy, that the president knew where he was at all times and picked a politically opportune moment to capture him, it was all about the oil, etc….”
Those three middle-aged liberals are probably fairly intelligent and think of themselves as very intelligent; yet they’re not using their minds properly; they are simply fitting every event into a preconception, and calling that process “thinking,” and a person who engages in it “intelligent.” With such people it is not possible to have a rational discussion about the world. To make this determination about people is not, pace Victoria, an ad hominem attack. It is to state the minimum requirements for rational discussion.
You are still thinking in the right/left box and seem to be ignoring many of my points. Is everyone in your book who stands against Bush a liberal? I dont know what truth or consistency you have seen coming from the Bush administration? Perhaps you could fill us in. When we cant even get clear reports from Iraq? When we have endless color warnings? When there are laws passed that are barely mentioned by the mainstream media? As a Christian, alone it would seem you would question why Bush supports UNESCO and its liberal plan for unity of all religions. I noticed you totally ignored that point as well as some other articles I have posted.
I am a supporter of Israel by the way. I see Bush as one of its oppressors. He supports the Road Map-“peace plan” to split in half. Here again you fail to think outside of the left/right box shoving everyone who questions George Bush as being against Israel.
You admit the things you see wrong with Bush on this board but if anyone questions what is going on or that things are going down an unseemly path, automatically they are labeled a liberal. This is one reason this countries freedoms are going down the toilet…the inability for anyone to think outside the Left/Right paradigm that has been forced upon them.
These people question Bush and are anything but liberals or “crazed conspiracy theorists”
Im sure you label them as crazy “right wingers” or something.
Heres a challenge for you. List the merits of Bush. Tell me what has IMPROVED in this country in terms of our economy, freedoms, security, jobs and more.
Tell me what you consider the truth of George Bush…..point out a case of his consistency. All I see when he does speechs is a very blank face and tons of contradictions. I am no liberal but I question things. Try and list 5 things about George Bush that have improved the situation in this country. The only one I can think of is partial-birth abortion. Thats it. Why do you even trust the man when everything is a lie, when its obvious he is sold out to the Globalists, when we seem to be in a perpetual state of war, when we havent even had as much as one car bomb in America since 2001? I dont care about middle-aged liberals, I think they are wrong about everything too.
So please answer these questions. Thanks.
One thing I have noticed after having enough debates onlines. That often people instead of dealing with the ideas presented will attack the person posting those ideas. My “rationality” has been brought into question. I have been instantly labeled “crazy” and shoved to the side. Have any of the ideas especially the one about UNESCO been dealt with? or the question about the conflicting news reports….NO.
The idea is given HOW DARE SHE?
How DARE SHE QUESTION GEORGE BUSH?
I dont see any forth coming answers here but just polemics that actually have ignored every point I have made.
I will love to see your explanation of how George Bush has improved America? All I know is his administration has been one big crisis after another. He is bankrupting our country for constant war. He is splitting Israel in half. He is giving more power to Globalists. He is erasing our borders. But then you can excuse all of this speaking of his nebulous “good” side. Well Id like to see it.
Please read this article and tell me again why you support George Bush as president. we may not agree with all of these protesters but the attack on the first admendment is more then scary.
Victoria writes: “Why do you even trust the man when everything is a lie, when its obvious he is sold out to the Globalists, when we seem to be in a perpetual state of war, when we havent even had as much as one car bomb in America since 2001?”
Victoria helps my argument by continuing to demonstrate exactly the kind of mindset I was describing. Her statement, “Everything is a lie,” perfectly sums it up. This is the kind of attitude that began to be expressed widely in the Sixties, and which more recently has been adopted by many people on the right, a kind of free-floating, universal paranoia about the System. It is an attitude that has much in common with gnosticism which says that the universe is a vast delusion or conspiracy.
For Victoria the implicit choice is between “trusting” Bush, and therefore regarding everything he says as true; or distrusting Bush, and therefore regarding everything he says as a lie. But I said nothing about trusting or distrusting Bush. I spoke about judging people and events and actions and statements by their merits.
I’ve been reading a bit of The Lord of the Rings for the first time, and just came upon this passage from The Two Towers that I like.
Eomer, a leader among the people of Rohan, has come upon the stranger Aragorn, accompanied by Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf, and Aragorn asks Eomer’s help though his instinct and duty is to arrest him. Eomer speaks of all the strange and unprecedented things that have been happening lately in his land, and asks, “How shall a man judge what to do in such times?”
Aragorn answers: “As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear. Nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
How does this apply to our discussion? Everyone _claims_ to speak the truth. Yet some statements are plainly more true or more false than others. So we cannot simply accept at face value everyone’s statement that he is truthful, or, conversely, accept the statement that everything that a particular person or political leader says is a lie. It is a man’s part to discern the truth.
“One thing I have noticed after having enough debates onlines. That often people instead of dealing with the ideas presented will attack the person posting those ideas.”
The disputed idea, as I understand it, is that Bush was deliberately avoiding the capture of Hussein until a politically opportune moment presented itself, that maybe the Hussein who was captured wasn’t the real Hussein, and that the Real Purpose[tm] for capturing Hussein was to provide political air cover for the passage of Patriot Act II.
Victoria might be able to clear the air by unequivocally endorsing the following statement:
“Bush looked for Hussein as hard as he reasonably could and captured him (and made that capture public) at the first possible moment. The Hussein who was captured was the real Hussein, and the idea that he might not be is utterly crackpot. The timing of the capture may have been serendititous for the passage of PAII but there was no deliberate delay in the capture of Hussein in order to time it for the benefit of PAII.”
My own reading of this discussion is that there are no doubt many points on which many here would agree with Victoria. On the other hand, Victoria also maintains at least some outright crackpot ideas, the Hussein scare-quoted “capture” being one specific example. The problem with a crackpot - even one who is right 80% of the time - is that it is impossible to sustain a reasoned discussion. It isn’t that people are ignoring the 80% of what Victoria (or Lew Rockwell, for that matter) is saying that is right. It is that it isn’t productive to spend so much energy separating the diamond from the dunghill (to borrow Thomas Jefferson’s statement about Christian morality).
Let me add that Victoria’s statements (e.g. that the absence of any car bombings in the U.S. since 2001 proves that Bush is a liar about the terrorist threat) reveal her as an anti-war fanatic with whom any rational discussion about the war is impossible (though admittedly she is an unusual anti-war type in that she says she supports Israel). My words are not addressed to her, because I don’t think there’s any chance of her understanding what I’m saying, but to others reading this.
I have not said that everything is a lie in the manner that you are twisting it. I even mentioned Bush’s ban on partial birth abortion. This is definitely false reasoning to distort everything I am saying. I am not a Gnostic and mistrust of the system I supect probably would have been a good thing pre-Hilter and other times in history. For some reason many Americans because of our long period of peace, feel totally immune to the abuses of power throughout history, I see this totally in Auster’s words.
I asked you to give me a list of Bush’s merits. Why were you unable to do so? I started the list with the ban on partial-birth abortion.
****Aragorn answers: “As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear. Nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Yes it is our job to discern. I am discerning. I question turning to Lord of the Rings and Toilkens writings as a guide to life but I would say I am the one following his words of caution far closer.
You continue in your argument that I am nothing but a “crazy liar” in a variety of creative ways. So far you have not addressed one point I have made.
For everything Bush has said that I believe to be a lie, or someone else has said to be a lie, I have checked outside sources and researched rather then accepting everything on face value. What have you done except label anyone who disgrees with you especially about George Bush as “irrational and a crazy liar”?
I would like to see you make the attempt to defend George Bush against any of the claims I have offered. So far you have not even tried to do so choosing to discredit and attack me instead. That is telling enough itself.
Oh, I could point to many cases where I think Bush has engaged in massive contradictions and deceptions. Victoria could look up things I’ve said about Bush and the Grutter decision, or about Bush and the “road map.” But George W. Bush’s total record not the issue here, though Victoria would like to make it so.
Matt’s statement cannot be improved upon, and I adopt it as my own last word in this exchange: “The problem with a crackpot—even one who is right 80% of the time—is that it is impossible to sustain a reasoned discussion. It isn’t that people are ignoring the 80% of what Victoria (or Lew Rockwell, for that matter) is saying that is right. It is that it isn’t productive to spend so much energy separating the [wheat from the chaff].”
*****Let me add that Victoria’s statements (e.g. that the absence of any car bombings in the U.S. since 2001 proves that Bush is a liar about the terrorist threat) reveal her as an anti-war fanatic with whom any rational discussion about the war is impossible (though admittedly she is an unusual anti-war type in that she says she supports Israel).
There are many questioning Bush’s war besides fanatics. Havent you asked yourself some hard questions? Why must everyone here shove anyone who disagrees into the liberal box? There ARE conservatives in the real world who are questioning the actions of George Bush and the wars. I have not protested the Iraq war. I never have been to an anti-war rally.
I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt when I made the decision that our country could be under real threat. But as more and more has come to light, there are unanswered questions. There are things not adding up that the general public is noticing. Conservatives (not NEO-Conservatives) are noticing that long-held American freedoms are being rolled back. I have noticed on here how that very issue has been ignored and claims of me being a “liberal” or an “Anti-war radical” shouted. I am far from a pacifist or “anti-war”. I have posted several articles where the points have been ignored for the focus to be kept on me and my failings rather then dealing with my ideas. I expected better of the people on this board. I think it is too threatening for some to face facts of what is happening to our country. Thats it in a nutshell.
The problem is I think on this board some are unable to think outside of the Left/Right box and this entire thread here is definite evidence.
Mr. Cella wrote: “I would cite the fact that the Philadelphia Convention which drew up the Constitution actually took up a proposal for including a Bill of Rights in the original document — and rejected it, unanimously.”
Quite right — unanimously in terms of the States voting as blocs of course. Even Gen. Washington and Mr. Madison voted against it. Were it not for George Mason’s subsequent lobbying behind the scenes we would have no Bill of Rights at all. It bears pointing out that the people were not impressed by this omission however.
I wouldn’t contend too hard against what Mr. Cella says about the BoR not being “written as a sweeping limitation on the powers of Congress.” Well — yes I would. George Mason certainly did WRITE them with that intent. (He’s the one after all who convinced Gouvernor Morris to insert the words, “herein granted” into Article I.) They may not have been _approved_ by Congress with that in mind, but I think it’s safe to say that the States that ratified them sure did!!!
And that’s the main point. Mr. Cella’s example only illustrates the nature of power. Numerous examples could be cited of men who make statements against power only to act in a contrary manner once they were IN power — F.D.R. standing up for State Sovereignty before undertaking to destroy it in office, Eisenhower lashing out at Federal grants-in-aid before implementing them himself as President, George W. Bush insisting he would never sign McCain-Feingold because of its unconstitutional restrictions on speech, and then … we all know what that ‘trustworthy’ man did. (Yes, note the quotes.) I’ll avoid even mentioning the recent Supreme Court decisions …
Mr. Cella would do as well to say that the Constitution _itself_ is not meant as a limitation on government power forasmuch as the national government has actually obeyed it! We all know the Federal government has exceeded its lawful bounds, but no one here seems to have any idea what to about it, only what NOT to do, (like secession.)
Concerning the Patriot Act, I state only that there is indeed cause for concern. I wouldn’t dispute that under the circumstances it is probably necessary; it’s those circumstances that are the problem — and on this we ALL agree.
It is only due to the Mohammedan presence here that this passed. That is why I tie it into to Mr. Auster’s warning in PNS. When he wrote those words about ‘mediating the conflict’ he may not have foreseen that this would entail stopping one group from committing mass murder and atrocity on people of every race, but he at least anticipated the problem of which the Patriot Act is the logical outgrowth.
Finally, Mr. Cella wrote: “To my mind, it is difficult to see how legislation passed by the representatives of We the People … can be construed as so obviously unconstitutional.”
I’d feel more comfortable about this if said representatives had actually READ the legislation before they voted on it — or were at least given the opportunity!!!
Mr. LeFevre is right. That passage in PNS only touched the surface of the problem of diversity and liberty. It is not just that more state controls are needed to mediate the conflict between diverse groups, though that is certainly the case. It is that, BY THE VERY FACT OF IMPORTING DIVERSE GROUPS IN LARGE NUMBERS, we lose our liberty even to TALK about whether we should be importing those groups. Mass diverse immigration into a democratic country spells the instant practical loss of that nation’s liberty.
It follows that the only way we can gain back our lost liberty is by (1) identifying the problem, (2) refusing to be silenced by this new dispensation, and (3) calling society to return to the old dispensation. An example of that would be the vocal advocacy of reversing the tide of Moslem immigration into this country. By doing that we do two things: We refuse to be subject to the new dispensation with its denial of liberty; and we actively seek to return the society to a condition where the pressure to silence speech (a pressure that comes from the very presence of unassimilably diverse peoples in this country) will no longer exist.
Interesting how the Bill of Rights, as LeFevre imtimates, was thought necessary to protect the States, but in fact, through the Incorporation Doctrine, it has become an instrument for emasculating them.
The self-emasculation of Congress (particularly in the face of the Judicary’s accretions against it), as Mr. LeFevre also intimiates, is a curious and discouraging thing. It seems to operate AGAINST the nature of power, in the sense that Congress has NOT been jealous of its own power vis-a-vis the other branches of government.
As for the Victoria-Auster dispute, one wonders why it is necessary that Mr. Auster propound a Bill of Presidential Achievements in order to justify his belief that the capture of Saddam Hussein was authentic. Victoria continues to harangue us with tales of Bush’s perfidy, but fails to explain why these tales mean PERFORCE, that the Saddam capture was an calculated hoax.
Mr. Cella wrote: “The self-emasculation of Congress … is a curious and discouraging thing. It seems to operate AGAINST the nature of power…”
It’s all about advancing liberalism. The liberals in the Senate fight tooth and nail to block any nominee who might exercise anything like judicial restraint.
If it seems to be against the nature of power, it’s only on the surface. I’ve written elsewhere that I think there’s quid-pro-quo at work among the 3 branches, whereby they’ve essentially abandoned checks and balances in favor or winks and nods as each exceeds its proper constitutional authority. It may not be ‘conspiracy’ in the sense of conscious collusion, but a reflection the natural tendency toward the consolidation of unrestrained, centralized power. All 3 branches are guilty.
Soon, also in apparent contradiction to the nature of power, we may see the entire Federal government emasculating itself in favor of a world bureacratic design, especially if this current massive immigration continues in the decades ahead.
Can’t but agree with Lawrence Auster as regards the ranking of The Patriot Act in the hierarchy of Bush’s sins. Victoria refers to Bovard’s article in The American Conservative of 15 December. In my view Bovard actually shoots himself in the foot by overstating his case.
He writes inter alia: “When Bush stopped by a Boeing plant to talk to workers, Christine Mains and her five-year-old daughter disobeyed orders to move to a small protest area far from the action. Police arrested Mains and took her and her crying daughter away in separate squad cars.”
Her “crying daughter”? What on earth was she doing with a five-year old at a protest meeting anyhow? And they were taken away in SEPARATE SQUAD CARS! Just where to? The Lubyanka Headquarters? What happened afterwards? Were they shot? Had their finger nails torn out? Sent to the Alaska Gulag Re-education Center? At any rate, hardly the Great Terror. My impression with Bovard is that he is more concerned with finding what he is looking for rather than with finding what is there.
As to Bush’s alleged or real prevarications, Victoria et al should perhaps read Keith-Burgess Jackson’s excellent article entitled “Logic Cop asks: “Is Bush a Liar?” at Tech Central Station before they rush to judgment again:
Food for real thought.
Gloom, gloom gloom! It is astonishing to recall that DEMOCRATS in the Senate resisted Civil Rights legislation tooth and nail only 40 years ago.
There will be no judicial restraint from the judiciary branch, no matter who gets confirmed to the Supreme Court. There will only be judicial restraint if Congress takes in its hands the weapons granted to it by the Constitution, and steels itself for task of rebuking these lawless judicial despots.
Such a course of action seems highly unlikely.
I noted a rather shocking concession to World Government by a putative conservative in the essay linked below (be warned: there are some embarrassing typos in my essay — typos which Blogger unaccountably will not allow me to correct.)
I agree with Mr. Copeland about James Bovard. I had thought of Bovard, from the old days of The American Spectator, as a useful, informative critic of the abuses of state power. But when I read an article by him about the Patriot Act, it was clear he had become just another anti-Bush fanatic, throwing around the most irresponsible alarmist statements.
Victoria writes: “There are many questioning Bush’s war besides fanatics…There ARE conservatives in the real world who are questioning the actions of George Bush and the wars.”
I agree with her this far, that there is no one view of the war which traditionalist conservatives must endorse. It’s something reasonable people can disagree about, on good traditionalist principles.
Further to my last; it’s fair to ask, for example, whether Iraq constituted enough of a threat to the US to justify military action (judged not in the light of what we know now, but in the light of the information available when the decision was made)? or whether just-war theory favors or does not favor the actions taken? or whether the money spent on them could have been better spent in other ways to protect America against terror? etc. Unfortunately, some of our friends on the Right have chosen instead to focus on whether the administration is taking its orders from Ariel Sharon, or whether Saddam is really Saddam, or other bizarre or unserious questions.
By the way, as I never hesitate to ask dumb questions, what does the reference to “tinfoil hats” mean and where does it come from? Thanks…
Mr. Cella wrote: “There will only be judicial restraint if Congress takes in its hands the weapons granted to it by the Constitution, and steels itself for task of rebuking these lawless judicial despots.”
Agreed! (Or if a President takes a stand a la Andrew Jackson.) But that’s like saying that the only way to counter the latest assault on free political speech was for the Supreme Court to overturn the offending portion of McCain-Feingold. The Congress won’t rein in the Court; the Court won’t check the Congress’ wild misconstructions of the Commerce Clause, (as one example,) and the President will check neither and neither will check him. Exceptions only make the rule.
I have just read Mr. Cella’s brilliant essay posted at 01:29 PM., and I see I’m preaching to the choir on the rest. That essay is worth a thoughtful read. Biblical prophecy on the move.
“By the way, as I never hesitate to ask dumb questions, what does the reference to “tinfoil hats” mean and where does it come from? Thanks…”
I was baffled too. So I googled “tinfoil hat definition” and got:
tinfoil hat brigade = those UFO-obsessed folks who wear hats made out of tinfoil to protect their brains from Evil Martian Mind Rays
Of course, just because you’re wearing a tinfoil hat doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you …
Like Mr. LeFevre, I share many of Victoria’s concerns about the Partriot Act II. Even so, I think it is highly unlikely that Saddam’s capture was staged for the purpose of passing this legislation. I also have to give the administration the benefit of the doubt as to the necessity of going to war in Iraq. None of the supposed actual reasons (Making the world safe for Israel, Oil money) offered by the anti-war folks on the left or right are able to withstand even minimal scrutiny.
Victoria, if you’ve been following this site you must know that George W. Bush is not exactly worshipped here. Mr. Auster has bluntly stated that he hopes that Bush loses the White House next year. Additionally, there have been sharp criticisms of Bush from Mr. Sutherland, myself, and numerous others here. I personally have serious doubts about Bush’s loyalty to the United States or to its constitution. I would even argue that the Partial Birth Abortion bill was nothing more than a cynical vote-buying scheme on the part of Bush and the Country Club Republicans running things. It has already been nullified in court. Instead of fighting for judicial appointments, something that conceivably prevent this atrocity from taking place, Bush, Frist & Co., pass a bill they know will have no effect. They will doubtless mention the bill to their clueless supporters in the Christian Coalition to gin up support in the coming year while butchers like Dr. Tiller continue their gruesome trade in body parts.
As much as I dislike Bush, I’ve come to believe that the problem this society faces is far deeper than a single man or even a group of powerful men. The wholesale destruction we see before our eyes has come about because there are large numbers of people in this country who either don’t care or who are benefiting in some way from the demolition going on. Unless enough of our fellow countrymen awaken from the stupor they are in, there isn’t much that can be done apart from documenting what is taking place, trying to spread the word, and praying for a great repentance.
Paul’s point about legitimate questions that could be asked about the war is correct. But the war critics largely precluded such legitimate discussion by turning their criticisms into attacks on the sinister power-mad neocons who were out for empire and Israel and the lying Bush who was out for oil and Israel. Since they viewed the entire war as a LIE, done for EVIL and DISHONEST motives, how could they possibly engage in a discussion about the war’s pros and cons? From their point of view, that would be like discussing the pros and cons of Hitler’s invasion of Poland. (Sorry, bad example, since Buchanan and some other members of the Anti-War Party have no particular problem with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, or at least think the world would have been better off if Britain had not declared war over it.)
In any case, you don’t discuss the pros and cons of something you regard as thoroughly evil. You simply oppose it. The anti-war party thus made ridiculous and vicious and ad hominem arguments against the war, and put very little energy into making intelligent arguments against the war. For example, prior to the war, there was very little written about the likelihood that we would find ourselves in an endless terrorist quagmire in Iraq. On the contrary, the anti-war right was sure that we were going to attempt to conquer the whole Middle East. But if they thought that we could go quickly go from conquering Iraq to conquering other countries, they obviously weren’t thinking that we were going to be bogged down in an ongoing insurgency in Iraq, which would preclude an expansion of the war to other countries. Their hysteria about evil imperialist neocons drained all energy from the kinds of useful arguments they might have made.
I confess that I used the expression “tinfoil hat” without having the slightest idea of where it comes from, except that it means people who believe any crazy thing.
I’m going to repost this on my blog with link. Great post Lawrence.
I agree that Paul Cella’s critique of Christopher Caldwell is excellent, and I’m horrified by Caldwell’s casual endorsement of a “post-national” order. This is the first time to my knowledge that a putative conservative (I’ve never been sure of Caldwell’s overall point of view, though he now writes at the Weekly Standard) has explictly advocated a post-national order. But it has been implied for a while. I’ve pointed out before that the only disagreement between the neoconservatives and the liberals regarding globalism is that the liberals want the UN to dominate the New World Order, while the neoconservatives want America to dominate it. That’s why the neocons never criticize the UN’s global governance agenda per se. They only criticize it when it goes against America or Israel.
On another point, I’d like to qualify one thing Mr. Cella said, where he describes patriotism as something “rooted in home and hearth, in actual places and actual people, in particular things rather than tedious abstractions.” While this is true, there is the danger that it may overstate the local and particularistic aspects of patriotism at the expense of the national aspect, which implies things beyond our immediate personal experience. American patriotism has always been patriotism to the nation, and to the constitutional and moral order of the nation. That is something bigger than home and hearth and town and county. Mr. Cella’s definition of patriotism, like Chesterton’s which he quotes, threatens to devalue the larger “Out of Many, One,” aspect of America that has always made America more than just loyalty to the local. It is a loyalty to the whole. Read the section of Washington’s Farewell Address where he talks about the need to love and protect the national union, then (because his language is difficult at first) read it again, and then read it again.
Here again is the link to Mr. Cella’s article:
“As much as I dislike Bush, I’ve come to believe that the problem this society faces is far deeper than a single man or even a group of powerful men. The wholesale destruction we see before our eyes has come about because there are large numbers of people in this country who either don’t care or who are benefiting in some way from the demolition going on. Unless enough of our fellow countrymen awaken from the stupor they are in, there isn’t much that can be done apart from documenting what is taking place, trying to spread the word, and praying for a great repentance.”
I would like to emphasize and perhaps extend Carl’s comment (perhaps this has all been said before in other threads, but it may be worth reemphasizing here). It is more than self-interest that motivates (or de-motivates) the vast majority who support the ongoing liberal demolition of Western civilization. The vast majority believe that liberalism is morally right, is good, and is the summum bonum of the modern political order. The vast majority believe that we are, and that we morally should be, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all human beings are created equal and therefore ought to be politically equal.
It isn’t merely self-interest or apathy from which we must repent. We must repent from our liberalism. We must repent from what most people wholeheartedly and honestly believe to be the only morally correct political orientation.
One reason that we must do that is because in the long run, liberalism and Western civilization are utterly incompatible despite their close (and perhaps inseparable) historical ties. And the long run has arrived. That is why the appropriate prescriptive word is “repent”.
Does everyone grasp the momentousness of what Matt is saying? He’s saying our whole civilization must repent—FROM THE VERY THING THAT IT THINKS IS THE HIGHEST GOOD. Obviously, that can only happen after people have become convinced that what they THOUGHT was the highest good is in fact untrue and destructive. But what disasters must we pass through, how much destruction must we endure, before we accept that what we thought was the ultimate good is in reality bad?
Which suggests that such repentance can only occur with the destruction of the civilization itself.
Mr. Auster writes:
“Which suggests that such repentance can only occur with the destruction of the civilization itself.”
I don’t think so as a necessary matter (although as a practical matter it may be arguable). When I emerge from the confessional I am still the same person. I have not literally died; I have not been destroyed by the sacrament of repentance. Rather I have become more perfect; indeed I have become closer to what I am supposed to be. I perhaps cannot leave behind my fallen nature utterly while still in this world, but I can be aware of it and act on that awareness.
It is true, though, that if the sacrament is performed validly I will emerge from it quite different from how I was when I entered. Repentance does imply change (and many have acknowledged that any genuine conservatism must in our times have a radical element). It does not imply the change of death, though; rather it implies new life where death was otherwise inevitable.
The progressives who claim that (some) change is inevitable are of course right, in a trite sense. The important thing isn’t whether or not there will be change at all. The important thing in the long run is whether that change is oriented towards the transcendent God or toward death.
And again: the long run has arrived.
I don’t think the analogy to personal repentance and confession works. When a person repents of his sins, he knows those sins to be sins. But the thing that America must repent of is the very thing it thinks is the highest political good. So the analogy to America having to repent from its liberalism would be, if Matt had to repent of his belief in Jesus Christ.
He doesn’t know them to be sins in the fullest sense until he has examined his conscience, the first step in the sacrament. Before that examination he may well have convinced himself that an evil is actually a good. A better example would be a homosexual man who had convinced himself that sodomy was an expression of love, and perhaps even the best sort of expression of love. Until such a man begins the process of repentance he will tend to keep himself convinced that the evil he values above all other things is in fact a good, and perhaps even one of the best goods within its sphere.
Americans feel the same way about political equality (liberalism), though I agree that an analogy between an individual person and a nation has its limitations.
This thread has already covered an amazing variety of topics, but I want to respond to a couple more things.
“The Patriot Act was made in the wake of 9/11, which occurred in the wake of massive non-European immigration, in this case of the Mohammedan variety. 9/11 couldn’t have happened in the 60s and before; those hijackers would have stuck out like a sore thumb no matter where they were.”
So true. Just think of Muhammad Atta visiting that idiot woman in the Department of Agriculture and asking her those suspicious questions about crop dusters and then personally threatening her. She had already been trained under the post-1965 dispensation never to judge or criticize the odd or threatening behavior of the Cultural Other, so she didn’t report him. If she had, 9/11 might have been stopped.
Now imagine a Muhammad Atta appearing in a pre-1965 America and behaving like that. How far would he have gotten before being arrested!
Mr. LeFevre raised the point earlier that when we consider, for example, the concerted move toward one-world government, there would seem to be some truth to the conspiracy theories. I reply here:
Should the following article be characterized as an exercise in gnostic conspiracy theorizing? It does raise some question about the propaganda potential of this “war.”
I Lied, I Captured, I’m Right
by Dr. John C. Rao
A Brief Introduction to The Novum, Novum Organum
“Have it Your Way” (Burger King)
[Note by LA: The poster who names himself after Pope Leo XIII posted a 1,600 word article by John Rao. Rao is an interesting thinker (if somewhat unhinged in his Catholic traditionalist-based anti-Americanism), but I do not want entire articles being posted here, as this is a discussion forum, not a place for parking articles. If “Leo XIII” has a link to the Rao article, he could post that instead.]
Certainly Rao belongs to the rabid anti-war right that denies any good faith on the part of the Bush administration in its conduct of the Iraq war and on the part of the majority of American people who have supported that war. For Rao, who never says anything good about America, it’s all a big, vicious lie, a fraudulent policy carried out for nefarious purposes, advanced to by total lies, and swallowed by an American populace incapable of the slightest degree of rational thought.
Thus he speaks of “President Bush and all those who have taken up permanent abode along with him in tents on the Mount Tabor of the Americanist-Pluralist Empire. Their words and actions regularly indicate that the principle of non-contradiction has no hold in this psychedelic realm. Here, what is false is true, what happens today has no connection with the events preceding it, and the blizzard that hits tomorrow emerges much more from Merlin’s wand than from out of the skies. At the imperial piano bars, all thoughts black and white, up and down, in and out, circular and square, are forced into an unnatural harmony. They are united only through unceasing repetition of the refrain America = Democracy = Liberty, sung by seductresses belting out a Sinatra-like ‘What is this thing called freedom?’ to an ever more plastered audience utterly incapable of answering that question for themselves. Whence, the unflinching adoption of propaganda arguments of mind boggling inconsistency regarding the Iraq War, swallowed, credulously, eagerly, slavishly, by much of the American population.”
In his virtually theological anti-Americanism, Rao fails to see what a person possessed of ordinary reason sees, i.e., that Bush had certain rational concerns about Iraq and acted on them, the American people shared those concerns and supported him; that while the democratist rhetoric used by various war advocates has been thoughtless (as I myself have repeatedly argued), there was nevertheless a rational purpose in wanting to set up a self-governing stable government in Iraq so that we could ultimately hand over power to the Iraqis.
But for the literally unhinged Rao, everything Bush says and does is a lie, a front for something else. While I’m not saying this is gnosticism per se, it is an example of the gnostic conspiratorial mentality that takes a person over when his unhappiness wtih the existing order of things reaches such a pitch that he loses an ordinary commonsense grasp of political reality.
Pace Rao, it is not Bush and the American people who are bereft of the ability to think rationally on this issue.