The choice, cont.
, the former Clinton advisor who lives to bring the Clintons down, says
that Hillary is secretive and corrupt, a person who seeks to intimidate political foes, and so on. We all know these things to be true.
I’m reminded of the Louisiana governor’s race in 1991 between David Duke and the deeply corrupt former governor Edwin Edwards, when people eager to defeat Duke at any cost used the slogan: “Vote for the Crook. It’s important.”
I think that applies nicely to the present situation.
Or, how about this? “The crook we know is better than the messiah we don’t know.”
- end of initial entry -
Mark K. writes:
“The crook we know is better than the messiah we don’t know.”
Who knows, it might actually be interesting to see how the messiah fares once he is enthroned. Consider this as a social and historical experiment. We may be privileged to see in the next four years how a messiah comes to his people, how he lifts them up and how he transforms their lives. It is a rare occasion to be able to view such a “coming.”
Peter B. writes:
In the 2002 French presidential election between Mitterand and Le Pen, the slogan “Vote for the crook, not the fascist” was used by the left to considerable effect.
A strategy which publicly acknowledges both candidates’ perceived faults but makes the opposing candidate out to be considerably worse than one’s own is a risk—but it can work.
Mencius Moldbug writes:
I’m with Mark K. all the way.
Obamania is the American left’s greatest gift to the American right since Jesus was a little boy. It’s a manifestation of progressivism’s fundamentally suicidal bent. It is a little scary, but I can’t think of a scenario that is more calculated to help the progressive movement terminate itself, without also terminating the rest of us.
For the American right, helping elect Obama is a little like crashing your car into a telephone pole while arm-wrestling with a carjacker. It sounds bold, but the car is probably going to crash at some point anyway. It might as well crash into something thin and on his side.
When I think about the overall strategy of the conservative movement to date, I’m reminded of a quote from the nuclear physicist and weapons expert Ted Taylor, in John McPhee’s The Curve of Binding Energy. Taylor is trying to describe how an implosion device he designed worked, without being too specific. He says: “When you want to hammer in a nail, what do you do? Put the hammer on the nail and push?”
A lot of strategies practiced by modern conservatism remind me of this quote. But basically, it’s Buckleyism in a nutshell. And electing McCain would really take the cake. So the only reason I could imagine supporting Hillary is if you are either (a) a Buckleyite, or (b) someone who worries that McCain might possibly beat Obama.
The esteemed Mr. Moldbug’s comment is colorful and lively, but unfortunately I have almost no idea what he is saying. Could he perhaps explain himself in plainer language?
Charles G. writes:
“The esteemed Mr. Moldbug’s comment is colorful and lively, but unfortunately I have almost no idea what he is saying. Could he perhaps explain himself in plainer language?”
If you didn’t understand it, why did you post it? Why did you not privately request a clarification?
I did ask him, and he hasn’t written back yet. And also it wasn’t completely senseless. The car crash part made sense, but seemed to be contradicted by other parts. It was the drift as a whole that I couldn’t get.
Also, Mr. Moldbug’s writing is so … Moldbugian, that it’s fun for people to read and try to figure out even if it’s not all clear.
James N. writes:
I have recently become a modestly expert decipherer of Mencius Moldbug, since he often writes what I would write, if I could write and if I didn’t have a job (one would need a lot of time to write those Moldbugian essays, unless one had enough intellectual firepower to carbonize an ox).
I think it is an arch and sophisticated version of “the worse, the better.” He accepts your analysis of McCain entirely. He says that Obama’s Presidency would, in the wreckage that would follow, expose the contradictions of “progressivism” in such a way as to extirpate it finally from our public life.
And he criticizes mainstream conservatives as “Buckleyites” for standing athwart history, shouting “slow down just a little, please, if it isn’t too much trouble” when what is called for instead is the all-night machine gun at RFK stadium.
In his view, supporting Hillary will not “heighten the contradictions” sufficiently to bring about the Gotterdammerung of progressivism.
Mark Jaws writes:
Moldbug’s car crash metaphor was spot on, and as a small time conversationalist I will incorporate it into my repertoire. However, I am with you, Mr. A. Moldbug lost me when he started talking about implosion, and I eagerly await his explanation.
Mark K. writes:
LA: “The esteemed Mr. Moldbug’s comment is colorful and lively, but unfortunately I have almost no idea what he is saying. Could he perhaps explain himself in plainer language?”
Perhaps Mr. Moldbug’s post was in the spirit of the memory of William F. Buckley?
Mark B. writes:
I believe Mr. Moldbug is referring to the belief that revolutionary changes are needed in our political leadership. This requires real destruction of the status quo before rebuilding can proceed. Real destruction is not achieved by laying the hammer on the nail and pushing. There is a high likelihood a combined financial and energy crisis develops in the near future, so if problems are inevitable, it best to acknowledge the reality and act in ways that maximize the chances of survival and to plan for a way to rebuild.
Both the Republicans and Democrats need to be replaced for any advancement of a conservative agenda. The revolutionary changes needed in American government may require a combined one two punch. An Obama win will probably clean out a lot of the Republicans and the subsequent socialist disaster of his administration opens a breech for an organized conservative counter revolution. Gas lines outlined the pathway thirty years ago and gas lines may again form the basis for anti-socialist pushback.
Here’s my contribution to trying to decipher Mr. Moldbug’s comment.
1. “I’m with Mark K. all the way.”
Mark K. said he looks forward to the election of Obama as an educational experience of actually seeing how a messiah operates. And Mr. M. is with that all the way.
2. “Obamania is the American left’s greatest gift to the American right since Jesus was a little boy. It’s a manifestation of progressivism’s fundamentally suicidal bent. It is a little scary, but I can’t think of a scenario that is more calculated to help the progressive movement terminate itself, without also terminating the rest of us.”
One possible meaning is that an Obama candidacy is doomed to go down to defeat, so Obama is a great gift to the right by assuring Republican victory. The more likely meaning is that an Obama presidency would be such a disaster that it would discredit the left forever and so lead to the lasting rise of the right.
3. “For the American right, helping elect Obama is a little like crashing your car into a telephone pole while arm-wrestling with a carjacker. It sounds bold, but the car is probably going to crash at some point anyway. It might as well crash into something thin and on his side.”
Meaning, I think, that electing Obama is a heroic move that while causing damage actually helps the right (or America?) survive, by getting rid of the left. The business about the car being destined to crash at some point anyhow is similar to my point that the Democrats are going to win a presidential election at some ponit, so it might as well be now, since Obama is so leftist he will discredit the left and his election will turn into a win for the right.
4. “When I think about the overall strategy of the conservative movement to date, I’m reminded of a quote from the nuclear physicist and weapons expert Ted Taylor, in John McPhee’s The Curve of Binding Energy. Taylor is trying to describe how an implosion device he designed worked, without being too specific. He says: ‘When you want to hammer in a nail, what do you do? Put the hammer on the nail and push?’”
I didn’t get this at all, but other commenters have interpreted it as calling for radical steps.
5. “A lot of strategies practiced by modern conservatism remind me of this quote. But basically, it’s Buckleyism in a nutshell. And electing McCain would really take the cake.”
I initially had no idea of how pushing the nail in relates to conservatism, or what he means by Buckleyism. But James N. says that Buckleyism here means pushing the nail in rather than hammering it in. I think he’s correct. What it would come down to, then, is that electing Obama is the equivalent of the right aggressively driving the nail in. However, to describe the election of a leftist to the U.S. presidency as an aggressive move by conservatives is such an overwrought notion it falls apart.
6. “So the only reason I could imagine supporting Hillary is if you are either (a) a Buckleyite, or (b) someone who worries that McCain might possibly beat Obama.”
This now makes sense in terms of James N.’s interpretation. As we can see from the above, however, the use of metaphors to explain politics can be useful, as in the car crash analogy, but if overdone it can also create confusion.
M. Jose writes:
I think that the point of the hammer and nail metaphor is that before you can use the hammer to push the nail into the board, you have to move the hammer away from the nail and the board.
That is, in order to push the current U.S. government and society to the right, you have to let it go farther to the left, in order that the disgust at the left will build enough momentum for a counter-reaction. People simply are not angry enough now to “push the nail in.”
Mencius Moldbug writes:
I must apologize to VFR readers for channeling Alan Greenspan! I’m afraid Charles G. was probably right.
By “the car is going to crash,” what I meant is that progressivism is (a) a fundamentally suicidal ideology (as all VFR readers know), and (b) the permanent party of government in the U.S.
Most of progressivism’s power is a consequence of its ability to manage public opinion. It can do this because it controls the educational system—schools, universities, and press. There are no elections for teachers, professors or journalists. They will be the same individuals whether the new president in 2009 is Barack Obama, John McCain, David Duke or Jeremiah Wright. The same is true of progressivism’s other power base, the permanent civil service, which is also untouchable by “politics,” ie, democracy. Civil servants are nominally employees of the President, but that doesn’t mean the White House can actually manage them. Typically the best it can do is frustrate them and make them ineffective, and this produces bad press, which harms the administration.
This is how Washington has worked since the 1930s. It is a machine designed to be immune to electoral politics. (It is also immune to reality, from which it steadily grows more detached.) But it is also designed to work in the presence of political opposition, which it belittles and denigrates at every turn. McCarthy, for example, was the best thing that ever happened to it. It plays off the menace of Pat Buchanan’s “peasants with pitchforks,” Sam Francis’s Middle American Radicals, etc, etc, in exactly the same way Hitler played off the international Jewish lobby. In reality, Hitler was strong and the Jews were weak. But that’s not what you believed if you were a good Nazi.
Young people who fall into the progressive cult are primarily motivated, in other words, by fear and hate. Furthermore, it especially appeals to young and intelligent people, whose instinct is to side with the smart, sophisticated and fashionable people. There is nothing wrong with being smart, sophisticated or fashionable, but since this is the governing class by definition (see Robert Michels’ “Iron Law of Oligarchy”), it is also ground zero for the progressive virus.
The tactics of American conservatism over the last half-century have provided crucial support for this pattern. First and foremost, conservatism has provided an ersatz opposition. It has no real chance of winning, i.e. of actually capturing the permanent institutions which are the real power base of progressivism. As such it serves the function of the tame opposition parties that existed in most of the Communist states, except that it is far more convincing, and hence far more effective.
Second—and this is what I mean by “putting the hammer on the nail and pushing”—conservatives have devoted their efforts to specific policy goals. Abortion is a good example, or gay marriage, or even anticommunist foreign policy. This approach has been, in my humble opinion, a disaster.
Why would anyone put the hammer on the nail and push? Because they don’t understand why the nail doesn’t just slide in. When the Supreme Court overrode state abortion laws in 1973, conservatives saw a blatantly lawless act of judicial legislation which was wildly inconsistent with the most deeply held values of the vast majority of the American people. George McGovern, for heaven’s sake, had just been going around the country denying that he supported abortion on demand. It looked like a slam dunk.
Conservatives saw an obvious victory. All they had to do was lean on the hammer a bit, and the nail would slide in. Because they were right, dammit! At least, they had both the law and public opinion on their side. But what happened? They failed to understand the forces against them, which were perfectly capable of (a) ignoring the law and (b) changing public opinion. Now most Americans believe in abortion on demand. The pro-life movement achieved nothing, served as a tremendous source of motivation for progressives, and sidetracked a whole generation of conservatives. This is what we call in my country a “trap.”
To defeat progressivism, it is necessary to either capture, destroy or replace its institutions. It is generally easier to replace than destroy, and easier to destroy than capture. Even if McCain were not McCain, I don’t see how taking the White House has much to do with any of these objectives.
And an Obama presidency would let the air out of the progressive tire in a way that makes Carter look like Reagan. What Obama means by “change” is “power”—that’s what power is, the power to change things. This is how every progressive leader since FDR has motivated his followers. Unfortunately, however, Washington is so bloated, enormous and sclerotic that it is simply incapable of changing in any meaningful way. The mistake of progressives is that they believe this is the fault of the Republicans. With a hard leftist like Obama in the White House, the truth will become obvious.
Most progressives will not see this, of course. But they will sense it. And it will demoralize them, and render them weak. That way, when the hammer actually hits the nail, it might actually go in.
James P. writes:
Mencius Moldbug writes:
“[A]n Obama presidency would let the air out of the progressive tire in a way that makes Carter look like Reagan. What Obama means by ‘change’ is ‘power’—that’s what power is, the power to change things. This is how every progressive leader since FDR has motivated his followers. Unfortunately, however, Washington is so bloated, enormous and sclerotic that it is simply incapable of changing in any meaningful way. The mistake of progressives is that they believe this is the fault of the Republicans. With a hard leftist like Obama in the White House, the truth will become obvious.”
If Clinton and Carter were not enough to let the air out of the progressive tire, why should an Obama presidency do so? Seems to me that the catastrophic failures of an Obama presidency would be even easier to blame on the Republicans than the failures of Clinton and Carter, because the Left could blame racism. After all, aren’t the Republicans racists? Everyone knows that! The truth that would become obvious to progressives very quickly, from day one of the Obama administration, is that America is a Deeply Racist Society and that this racism must be exposed, uprooted, and overcome with even more intensive Leftist indoctrination in the schools and the press in order to pave the way for the ultimate triumph of the progressive agenda.
David B. writes:
I don’t know if “the worse the better” has ever worked for anybody besides Lenin (WWI led to the Russian Revolution). If Kerry had won in 2004, we would now be looking at a Kerry-McCain race for 2008. The the “worse” of Kerry would not have led to the “better” of a GOP candidate more conservative than the one we actually have. Also, no matter how much worse it may get, a candidate who has our views cannot win the nomination, because the stupid and complacent GOP voters insist on voting for establishment candidates with high name recognition. So “the worse the better” theory fails.
“If Kerry had won in 2004, we would now be looking at a Kerry-McCain race for 2008.”
We can’t know that. If Kerry had been president, everything would have been different. It’s like time travel. If you go back and change one thing in the past, all kinds of other things, that hinged on the first thing, get changed as well, as in Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder.”
Ironically, the Bradbury story, as I now remember, has to do with changing the result of a presidential election. A man pays a time travel safari company which takes people back to the age of dinosaurs to shoot dinosaurs. They only kill dinosaurs that are near death and past the age of breeding, so they won’t change history. They’re also supposed to stay on a walkway to avoid stepping on the ground and killing insects which might change history. But once they’re back in the past and in the midst of the shooting, the client gets upset and confused and jumps off the walkway onto the grass. The safari leader is very angry with him over this. Then they return to the present. The world looks the same, but everything somehow feels ominously different. The air smells different. People’s clothes are subtly different. Then they find out that the presidential election, which just before they had gone back to the past had been won by the good guy over his fascist opponent, has been won by the fascist. Stepping on some insects 100 million years ago subtly changed all subsequent history finally resulting in changing the outcome of a presidential election. The safari leader in despair shoots the client dead.
Mark J. writes:
This election has presented a particularly gruesome choice of evils, and for the first time in my voting life, I had been in a genuinely tormenting quandary. However, the Angel of Electoral Genius presented a vision to me last night in a dream.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 01, 2008 06:59 PM | Send
In my dream I saw John McCain pouring old wine into an old wineskin. The wine smelled of vinegar and its aroma was not pleasing to the Lord. The old wineskin was hung on the butt of the Elephant and was leaking on the American people, gathered around its feet, and attempting to hold back the Gates of Hell. Some of the people, not liking the old wine, were running away from the Elephant. But then I saw people forcing McCain to pour good smelling vintage wine into a new, sturdy, tried and true, genuinely American traditionalist wineskin, which did not leak. Seeing this, the people were happy and those who had fled from the Elephant returned, and all knew that once the McCain wine was gone, they could drink from the new wineskin. And the Lord would be happy and the people would prevail against the Gates of Hell.
This can only mean one thing. John McCain will be 72 years old this August. If elected, he may very well be a one-term president. Thus he must choose as his heir apparent a solid conservative. If he does so, we should vote for him. If not, we should leave the Elephant.