Those Who Forget Even Their Personal History
“A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage married immediately after his wife died. Johnson said it was the triumph of hope over experience”. – Boswell, James, The Life of Samuel Johnson, vol. ii, p. 182.
I have often heard of people who suffered something in childhood, and since then have been determined to dedicate their adulthood to fighting that which they remember. Maybe you are one of those people, maybe I am one of those people. It is only human.
I think it probable that a sizable portion of left-wingers, and especially the core constituency of the Left, have memories of an oppressed childhood, for they claim to be dedicated to the cause of the resistance of the oppressed against all strongmen. The doctrine that Strong is Wrong must be a reaction to bad experiences with those who hold that Might Makes Right.
This is not an idle attempt at armchair psychology; there is a real, very real issue here, the claim of very many left-wingers as to the moral identity of today’s perceived political strongmen with the school bullies of childhood and of today’s perceived political underdogs with the victims of such bullying. Or sometimes the left-wingers acknowledge both sides of the scrap as bullies, needing to be separated by a referee or a “conflict resolution” team before they do harm to innocents in their vicinity.
This memory-sustained analogy seems to work so well—kept the Left up and running for over 40 years. But there is a hole in that memory, for anyone who has ever been a victim of school bullying knows that bullies cannot be kept at bay, much less reformed into good children, by flower power.
School bullies cannot be reasoned with. If a kid, beaten up by one of them, asks them, “Why did you do that?! I didn’t do anything!”, they do not give an answer, they keep on beating him up. Psychologists—real ones—try to discuss the matter with them when they’re finally brought to counseling (when the number of kids they’ve beaten up is too high to be swept under the rug), but they fare only slightly better: slightly better because the interviewed bully does, in the end, give an answer to the question why he bullies, but the answer is, nearly always, “Just because”.
It has always been so. What has changed in the field of education is the practice of Leftist (some would say “humanist”, but even secular humanism has not always been identical with the left-wing underdog-rooting mindset) ideas ever since the 1960’s, that destructive generation. It was a time when all the existing order was out for grabs and put in test tubes. The family was one of the first institutions to suffer (no need for two parents, or if there are two “parents”, no need for them to be of opposite sexes), and education was another. Schoolkids were allowed, later encouraged, to address their teachers using their forenames, and the punitive capabilities of those teachers were phased out one by one: first to go was corporal punishment, then verbal punishments deemed too severe, too “damaging to the child’s innocent soul” were thrown out too, until we arrive at the situation today, in which the modern schoolteacher is allowed to punish students only for self-defense, and a classroom that looks like a war zone is taken as proof that the teacher isn’t doing enough to “stimulate the children’s curiosity” and all that, as if school were a marketplace, the kids customers and the teachers shopkeepers.
The purveyors of permissive education may have been bullied kids themselves, or they may have been bullies corrected by punishment; whatever the case, like the child having grown in hardship and now an adult wishing to give his kids what he never had back then, thereby bringing up spoiled children, the Sixties Radicals have sought to make reparations for their own childhoods, by defanging the bullies of today through compassion, negotiation, conflict resolution and kumbaya. They have, by that, tossed out to every wind the experience, their own experience, that bullies cannot be reasoned with, that the only correction for bullies is through educating them that bullying does not pay.
I wish to preempt the accusation that I am an advocate of relentless, first-resort child-beating. Punishment, even verbal, has never been the first resort except in Spartan societies. But the situation today is that punishment has become a no-option at all. The norm until the 1960’s experimentation was corporal punishment only for those on whom words were known to have no effect. Like school bullies.
There is widespread recognition among today’s young generation (including this writer) that the boundless disorder of the Sixties Radicals has borne bad fruit. Some take this realization to extremes and join in movements that strive to remedy the defect through a police state—fascism, whether race-based (Nazism), economy-based (Communism) or religion-based (Islam). They become bullies themselves. The trick is to reject the permissive society without accepting an oppressive society in its stead—for example, by letting two consenting adults do as they wish in their own privacy, but not sanctioning as the norm of society anything other than the union of one man and one woman.
Up to this point my post has been mainly about personal rationalism. But politics is just personal matters applied to big groups of people, so it is inevitable that the Sixties Radicals’ rationalist folly should seep into it. And we can indeed see that today, before our very eyes.
From recent events: Iran’s Ahmadinejad (shr"y) sticks his tongue at every deadline the UN sets him, and the UN, in turn, just sets a new deadline, and invites him to more talks, negotiations, incentive packages and the like. When the UN is really, really angry, it pulls out all its big guns and whips Iran with a… strongly-worded resolution. This is truly the modern, 1960’s-influenced classroom writ large, politically, globally.
Another recent event: Fox News reporters Steven Centanni and Olaf Wiig are kidnapped in the “Palestinian Authority” (an oxymoron if there ever was one…) and are forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. This raises an interesting question: if the “Palestinians” only have material grievances against the oppressive Israel and USA, why didn’t they just get Centanni and Wiig to denounce that in the video and get things over with? What was the point of converting them to Islam? Following on the footsteps of that forced conversion, Al Queda releases a video “inviting” (as in “offer you can’t refuse”) the USA to convert to Islam. On both videos, the Muslims took care to bring the message of “Western oppression” so sweet to Leftist ears, but all this talk about conversion to Islam, to a religion (opiate of the masses, remember?), seems to spoil the theory a bit.
The bullies of our age are smart ones: the one fork of their tongue speaks in terms of “homeland” and “justice” and “peace”, while the other says, “Convert to Islam or die”. The former is for recruiting those disposed thereunto (like Adam Gadahn himself, the speaker on the Al Queda video, who is an American Christian convert to Islam) or at the very least gathering their support (from useful idiots like Michael Moore), while the latter is the true soul of the bully. The latter is the end, while the former are but pretexts, as were the Mohammad Cartoons, as is US support for Israel, as are the Crusades, and so on. Ultimately they all go back to their master, who, in the 7th century, first “invited” the Emperor of Byzantium to Islam, then attacked.
It is not necessarily the case that the cries of “oppression” and “injustice” on the Muslims’ part are fake; they may well be real, out of the heart, yet, like the cries of the school bully upon being prevented from beating up other kids, are not something that civilized society should shed tears about. They truly speak about “oppression”, which means resistance to Islamic rule over the whole world, and truly strive for “peace”, which means the cessation of all such resistance, just as the bully’s idea of “peace” is all the kids complying to his demands, giving him their lunch money on demand, and so on.
But the West, under its leftoxicated stupor, is just as unwilling to deal with world bullies as its education system is unwilling to deal with school bullies. And just as those who dare to suggest a tougher hand with school bullies are decried as traumatizers of the innocent and robbers of childhood, those who advocate an experience-based, reality-based response to the Islamofascists are shouted down as warmongers and exploiters of the blameless other.
The awakening of today’s youth in the West toward the failures of the theory-based permissive society, when carried over to the confrontation with Islamofascism, will make this one another Greatest Generation, taking us out of the mire of this 1930’s redux.