The Coming Political Crisis in the USA Vic Rosenthal Jewish Press, Aug. 11, 2020
I think the USA today is facing a crisis matched only by those that took place at the time of the Civil War and the period of the Great Depression and WWII. Those events led to big changes in the nature of the Republic, and I see that happening again. Radical change is coming. But what form will it take?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the French Revolution. I suppose I was “triggered” by the rhetoric coming from the Left in the US, and especially old friends who seemed to think that if the coming election did not go the way they hoped, they would support (they are in general too old to participate in) a violent change of the government. I made two main points: 1) that revolutions are often bloody beyond belief, and 2) the ones who come out on top are usually not the ones with the most liberal ideas, but those that are the most ruthless and brutal in the use of force.
During the French Revolution, heads rolled like Bocce balls (or the French equivalent thereof). Today the guillotine is the subject of humorous cartoons, but its heyday wasn’t called “The Terror” for nothing. And the Russian Revolution of 1917 ushered in a vicious civil war (and foreign intervention) resulting in 7-10 million casualties, most of whom were civilians. Neither revolution produced a liberal regime: the French got a dictatorship imposed by Napoleon, benevolent as it may have been, and the Russians got one of the most murderous regimes in recent history.
There are also radical changes of the form of government that are usually not called “revolutions,” but which have revolutionary consequences. I’m thinking of the accession of Hitler to power in 1933, and the collapse of the Soviet Union that culminated in 1991. Neither of these events was bloody in comparison to the revolutions of 1789 and 1917, although of course the consequences of Hitler’s rise were disastrous. Again, few such changes usher in liberal regimes. A radical change, whether revolutionary or not, usually has precursors like military defeats; economic crises; weak, corrupt, or incompetent governments; inability to effect an orderly change; or all of the above. They are often associated with foreign interventions, overt or covert.
What else can we say about such changes? One is that the successful claimant of power does not need a majority of the population, but it does need an organized, disciplined faction. And what comes out of the process may be very surprising to its supporters. When the Shah of Iran, cancer-ridden and almost unable to function, was overthrown by a broad coalition including liberals, leftists, and of course Islamists, the leader of the Islamists, Ruhollah Khomeini, “presented himself as a moderate able to bring together all the different factions leading the revolution.” That isn’t how it turned out, to say the least. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
The 2020 US Presidential Election: A Seminal Moment in Western History Dr. Hanan Shai BESA, Aug. 28, 2020
President Donald Trump’s declaration in his Mount Rushmore speech of his intention to defend the traditional values of the United States, and Joe Biden’s declaration (backed by Bernie Sanders) of his intention to bring about a transformation of the United States, indicate that the 2020 elections will not be, as in the past, a democratic contest between two personalities and parties but a fateful contest between cultures: the Hebrew-biblical cultural of freedom from which the Anglo-Saxon democracies derived their values versus the Hellenistic culture of freedom from which the European democracies derived theirs.
There is a fundamental difference between the values of the two ancient cultures that formed the crucible of the modern West. The values of the Hebrew-biblical culture were derived from universal logic, the laws of which constitute an absolute and eternal truth and among which a harmony and coherence exists that is designed to foster a similar harmony (social justice) among human beings. The values of the Hellenistic culture, by contrast, were derived from human logic, which asserts that humanity is the standard that determines good and evil, there is no external standard for the moral judgment of human acts, and certain ideas exist that constitute an absolute truth that only elite individuals can discover and impose, by means of “keepers,” on a society that is “chained in a cave.”
European liberalism’s reliance on human logic led to the growth of the Jacobin, socialist, communist, and Nazi doctrines, which were foisted on the masses by authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Conversely, the forefathers of American democracy (Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Franklin)—some of whom, like John Locke and other British thinkers, read and spoke Hebrew—adopted the values of Hebrew-biblical morality as the basis of the values of the United States.
The fact that in American democracy not only science but also humanism is based on natural law gave rise to a longstanding stability and prosperity, as well as a capability and a principled commitment to volunteer to salvage and rehabilitate the world from the severe calamities wreaked upon it by Europe’s utopian thinkers.
Apparently complacent from its victory over Nazism and communism, at the end of the 20th century American democracy failed to identify the danger of another erroneous theory that developed in Europe: post-structuralism (or progressive liberalism). That theory has penetrated deeply into American culture. Among other things, it claims that the calamities of the 20th century were caused by a proliferation of “truths” that emerged in Europe, and that preventing similar calamities in the future entails denying the existence of a single foundational truth and dismantling rational subjects that constitute a source of stability and authority (such as the family, nationalism and the nation-state, gender, the military, the police, and more) while “critically” examining their historical development. This is because the formation and activity of some of these social frameworks were tied to processes, in some instances very far back in history, that involved force and oppression. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
America Doesn’t Need a New Revolution Ayaan Hirsi Ali WSJ, June 26, 2020
Outrage is the natural response to the brutal killing of George Floyd. Yet outrage and clear, critical thinking seldom go hand in hand. An act of police brutality became the catalyst for a revolutionary mood. Protests spilled over into violence and looting. Stores were destroyed; policemen and civilians injured and killed. The truism “black lives matter” was joined by a senseless slogan: “Defund the police.”
Democratic politicians—and some Republicans—hastened to appease the protesters. The mayors of Los Angeles and New York pledged to cut their cities’ police budgets. The Minneapolis City Council said it intended to disband the police department. The speaker of the House and other congressional Democrats donned scarves made of Ghanaian Kente cloth and kneeled in the Capitol. Sen. Mitt Romney joined a march.
Corporate executives scrambled to identify their brands with the protests. By the middle of June, according to polls, American public opinion had been transformed from skepticism about the Black Lives Matter movement to widespread support. Politicians, journalists and other public figures who had denounced protests against the pandemic lockdown suddenly lost their concern about infection. One Johns Hopkins epidemiologist tweeted on June 2: “In this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus.”
Although I am a black African—an immigrant who came to the U.S. freely—I am keenly aware of the hardships and miseries African-Americans have endured for centuries. Slavery, Reconstruction, segregation: I know the history. I know that there is still racial prejudice in America, and that it manifests itself in the aggressive way some police officers handle African-Americans. I know that by measures of wealth, health and education, African-Americans remain on average closer to the bottom of society than to the top. I know, too, that African-American communities have been disproportionately hurt by both Covid-19 and the economic disruption of lockdowns.
Yet when I hear it said that the U.S. is defined above all by racism, when I see books such as Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” top the bestseller list, when I read of educators and journalists being fired for daring to question the orthodoxies of Black Lives Matter—then I feel obliged to speak up.
“What the media also do not tell you,” I tweeted on June 9, “is that America is the best place on the planet to be black, female, gay, trans or what have you. We have our problems and we need to address those. But our society and our systems are far from racist.”
America looks different if you grew up, as I did, in Africa and the Middle East. There I had firsthand experience of three things. First, bloody internecine wars between Africans—with all the combatants dark-skinned, and no white people present. Second, the anarchy that comes when there is no police, no law and order. Third, the severe racism (as well as sexism) of a society such as Saudi Arabia, where de facto slavery still exists. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Vote for the Czar, It’s Important Ruth R. Wisse WSJ, Aug. 31, 2020
American politics are in such a scramble that we need to think about how we vote, not just for whom. Should our choice be determined by party loyalty, policy, the perceived qualities of the candidates? I turned conservative when I learned to vote for the lesser of evils.
That lesson was unexpected. On my first trip to Poland, in 1978, I was put in touch with a woman who offered to show me around the Jewish ruins. She was an excellent guide, but as we came to the memorial for the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, she said that I could learn about that phase of Jewish history on my own. What she had to tell me, however, I could hear only from her.
In the late 1920s in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), she had been a student of the Jewish literary historian Max Erik, a fervent Communist who one day stole across the sealed border to the Soviet Union so that he could join the great socialist experiment. Radicalized by him, she had joined the Communist Party, which was illegal in Poland. She followed his example and emigrated several years later. But once in Soviet territory, she was arrested as a “Polish spy” and sent to labor camps in the Gulag. In the last of them, she met her former teacher—before his execution in 1937. Erik didn’t want to talk, except to tell her one thing: “It was better under the czars.”
This was no endorsement of czarism. Life under that regime had been grim, for Jews especially. Historians debate whether czarist authorities instigated anti-Jewish pogroms or merely allowed them to rage until their energies were spent. There were expulsions and political suppression. By reneging on his promises to allow democratic reform, Czar Nicholas II, who reigned from 1894 until his abdication in 1917, spurred the coming Communist revolution. Erik was among thousands of idealists who embraced socialism in defiance of czarist and authoritarian rule.
Rather than justify Erik’s youthful idealism, or her own, for having resisted oppression, my guide wanted to ensure that as a student of the Jewish ruins I understood what was truly at stake. There were three parts to the lesson—two that she spelled out for me, and a third that I have since added on my own.
The first was the all-important political distinction between bad and worse. Czarism might have seemed intolerable, but the Communist regime proved crueler than the evils it had come to replace. The Communists had learned from their time in czarist prisons to make conditions harsher, torture more painful and deadlier. When weighing political options, never assume that change is for the better. First ascertain with ultimate caution that you aren’t opening the door for something far worse.
Far worse than czarism was the socialist road to totalitarian hell. That was the second lesson. The Poland under communism I saw in 1978 was freer than the Soviet Union had been under Stalin, but my guide wanted to be sure I appreciated the full lie of the socialist promise. Under the guise of raising the downtrodden, it trod everyone down equally to the lowest level in culture, education, health and prosperity. She hadn’t left Poland with most of the remaining Jews after the anti-Semitic purges of 1968 only because she felt too exhausted to start over in Israel. But even for Jews it had been better under the czars. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
The Rule of the Masses: G. Gavin Collins, Quillette, Sept. 14, 2020 — As cities burn across a divided United States of America, it is worth considering some of the conditions that foment the country’s increasingly radical politics.
The Enemy Within Our Nuclear Weapon Labs: Peter Vincent Pry, American Thinker, Sept. 5, 2020-– President Trump needs to “drain the swamp” at national laboratories responsible for maintaining the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons — starting with Sandia National Laboratory.
The Captive Mind and America’s Resegregation: Andrew A. Michta, WSJ, July 31, 2020 — Czesław Miłosz, a future Nobel Prize-winning poet who had just defected from Poland, began work in 1951 on a book called “The Captive Mind.”