The Spirit of ’68 – UPDATED

As hard as it is to believe now, Leftists used to be formidable opponents.  When Orwell described the typical Socialist of tremulous old ladies’ imaginations, he was arguing against a stereotype:

The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik….or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.

Old habits die hard, and old beliefs die harder, so it’s no surprise that people back then thought real Socialists were bomb-throwing rioters who were one strike away from seizing the factories.  Radical politics was a contact sport well into the 20th century (The Road to Wigan Pier was published in 1937, when the Russian Revolution was barely 20 years old).  One could be forgiven for thinking, even then, that the “prim little man with a white-collar job” had a few working-class bruisers he could call on if things got tough, because for quite a while, he actually did.

The Left was formidable on the other end of the spectrum, too.  Back then, a college education meant something — hell, back then a high school education was an achievement.  Have you ever actually read Communist literature?  It’s dense, full of arcane jargon and Capital Letters, charts and graphs, facts and figures.  Even that quintessential 20th century chimera, the New Soviet Man, seemed to have the imprimatur of science — we know now that psychoanalysis is bunk, but the Frankfurt School sure made it look like Socialism was the scientifically proven high road to mental health.   When all you’ve got is a sixth grade education, when you can’t even pronounce things like “Oedipus complex,” you’re going to feel yourself at an insurmountable disadvantage going up against some egghead with a PhD.

The commies knew it, too, which is why the first thing they did when they signed you up for the Party was get you enrolled in some classes.  I bet most of you don’t know that this is what “community colleges” were for, back when the movement got started at the turn of the 20th century.  It’s no accident, as the Marxists back then liked to say, that schools designed to level up the skills of working men and grammar school teachers were immediately taken over by fellow travelers.  The New Soviet Man was supposed to be something like a street-brawling longshoreman with a Master’s degree, and that’s what they set out to build, all over the West.  And it worked, too, surprisingly well, such that intellectually gifted, courageous men like Whittaker Chambers could become high-ranking Communist cadres.

We all know what happened after that: The Baby Boom.  David Horowitz is a good example of the change.  A Red Diaper Baby, Horowitz got all the heavy intellectual training the Old Left invested in its intellectuals; Horowitz can still argue Dialectical Materialism with the best of ’em.  But though he was technically born right before the Baby Boom (1939), he got swept up in its emotional atmosphere — the Ramparts crowd was interested in cultural revolution, not critiques of the forces of production.  They were the leading lights of the New Left, and all the New Left really wanted to do was flip tables, break shit, and freak out the squares — overthrow “The Man” first; figure the rest out later.

Which is the same position we — Our Thing, the “alt-right,” whatever the hell we’re calling it this week — find ourselves in today, comrades.

Section break!

The reason the Old Right was defenseless against the Old Left was that the Old Right, having facts, reason, and 5,000 years of intellectual history on its side, had no idea how to argue against the jargon-spewing fuggernauts trying to turn the whole world into a Worker’s Paradise.  Leftism looks like an argument — a coherent set of propositions, backed up by facts and reason.  It sounds like an argument, a formidable one.  But it’s not an argument.  It’s a set of tautologies.

That’s why the Old Right’s counterarguments fail so brutally.  A tautology is true by definition — e.g. “whatever will be, will be.”  We all know this is just a proverb, a nifty little reminder not to stress out too much about things we can neither predict or control.  Nobody who says “whatever will be, will be” considers it a serious prognostication on a future state of affairs, so nobody considers techniques for refuting “arguments” based on it.  Because what could those possibly even be?

Annnnnd that’s where the Left gets you, because ALL Leftist “arguments” are tautologies.  We’ve all had a good laugh at things like “false consciousness,” or statements like “Sarah Palin isn’t a real woman.”  They’re impossible to take seriously — Sarah Palin is, obviously and undeniably, a woman — so we don’t take them seriously, and we assume the people making them don’t either.  But they do, my friends, they do.  If you don’t believe me, dust off your old Logic 101 textbook and tell me how “Sarah Palin isn’t a real woman” differs from “false consciousness.”  They both run exactly like this:

All women (X) are pro-abortion (Y).  Sarah Palin is not pro-abortion; therefore, Sarah Palin is not a woman.  Or, all capitalist societies (X) are miserable (Y).  The United States is not miserable; therefore, the United States isn’t capitalist… but since that statement contradicts the Scriptures, it must be the case that the undeniably-capitalist United States only seems not-miserable… false consciousness, comrade.

I know, I know, my brain hurts too, and once again, that’s how they get you.  It’s almost impossible for a cognitively normal person to “think” this way, and because the falsity is so glaring, so painful, we assume that we must be missing something.  Maybe if we just immerse ourselves in all that jargon — the “modes of production,” “intersectionality,” and whatnot — we’ll find out what we’re missing, so that we can go back and plug the proper terms into the deduction and prove to the Left that they’re being illogical.

It won’t work, comrades, because it can’t.  You can’t argue against a tautology.*  What ends up happening, of course, is that poring over their Scriptures infects you with Social Justice Toxoplasma, exactly as it’s designed to do.  The Buckley, neocon, National Review brand of “conservatism” is really just Leftism with a few tax cuts attached, because they tried to argue with the Left.

What we need to do is to steal the tactics and worldview of the New Left.

Whatever you want to call them now — the New New Left, the CultMarx Cult, the Cathedral, the Poz — the inmates have been in charge of the asylum for generations.  They’re in the same position the Old Right was back when this whole business started — they’ve been in power so long that they take “being in power” as the natural state of affairs.  Not only don’t they have any arguments for their positions, they don’t know that there ever were any, because they don’t see it in terms of “positions” and “arguments.”  This is just the way things are, and anyone who disagrees is some kind of “hater” — mentally ill; not to be taken seriously; to be treated, confined, or shot, as the situation dictates.

Rules for Radicals is a great book; we should carry it around the way the Red Guards carried Quotations from Chairman Mao.  We should read up on Cloward-Piven, and put it into action.  Cloward-Piven is an attempt to overload American social services by signing up as many people as possible, in order to collapse the economy and spark The Revolution.  Thanks to Sen. Warren, aka Little Rounding Error, aka Pico-hontas, we now know that 1/1024th Mesoamerican (not even actual American Indian!) DNA is sufficient to claim all the Affirmative Action perks our Native brothers are entitled to.  Let’s get every single college student in America on full scholarship — adios, higher ed bubble!

Don’t get caught up in heavy theorizing.  Don’t worry about what comes after The Revolution.  Do what the New Left did — at worst, you’ll end up with tenure at an Ivy League law school and have your name tossed around as a potential Democratic presidential candidate.



*Seriously, if you read nothing else in your life, read David Stove’s “Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story,” Parts I and II (available in The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies, and yes, you’ll need to buy it, because you need to read both).  Marxism is Idealism; Idealism rests — totally, completely, entirely — on a false “deduction” from a tautology (from “we can only know things as we can know them” to “we can’t know things as they are in themselves”).  As every single flavor of Leftist nonsense is based on Marxism, this destroys every intellectual pretension the Left has ever had.

UPDATE:  If you’re curious about how one lousy little tautology could generate so much murderous nonsense, I’ve attempted to lay it out on a separate page, here.  I can’t do justice to either Stove’s thought nor his prose, but on the upside, it’s free.

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19 thoughts on “The Spirit of ’68 – UPDATED

  1. Toddy Cat

    “The New Soviet Man was supposed to be something like a street-brawling longshoreman with a Master’s degree”

    There are guys like this now, all over the West – the only problem for the Left is that they are all wearing MAGA hats, or voting for the AfD, or some other “Populist” group. Be careful what you wish for, Lefties!

    1. Severian

      My point exactly — WE are the Left now. Read Orwell’s description of life at the turn of the 20th century. For “pedants, clergymen, and golfers” read “feminists, professors, and soybois,” and you’ve got a perfect description of the Left’s mental atmosphere these days:

      Society was ruled by narrow-minded, profoundly incurious people, predatory business men, dull squires, bishops, politicians who could quote Horace but had never heard of algebra. Science was faintly disreputable and religious belief obligatory. Traditionalism, stupidity, snobbishness, patriotism, superstition and love of war seemed to be all on the same side…There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers, with your future employers exhorting you to ‘get on or get out,’ your parents systematically warping your sexual life, and your dull-witted schoolmasters sniggering over their Latin tags.

      We have everything the turn of century Left had — real educations, discipline, long experience with debate and persuasion, complete familiarity with the enemy’s society — with the added bonus that our doctrine is actually, you know, TRUE.

  2. RW

    “Little Rounding Error” – ha ha ha!

    I also chuckled as soon as I scrolled down to reveal Leia By The Sea.

    Many are the black pill days, but the “sovereign world of humor” is always available. Come for the jokes, stay for the didactics. Thanks, Severian, be of good cheer.

  3. Frip

    I’ve never read it but The Communist Manifesto must be one hell of a book. And Marx one hell of a guy. So many great men of both Left and Right are/were obsessive about the man, the ideas, the book. Severian included. Sev can’t stop writing about him. I recall a column by WFB that declared he was giving up writing about Marx ever again, or responding to anything Marxian at all. It was as if he was vowing to give up a very addictive drug. I should probably at least read the Cliff Notes to the Manifesto, just to try and understand the spell it cast.

    1. Severian

      It’s not the man, or the book, it’s the historical significance. Our way of life is under siege by Marxists, so we write about Marx. On the Left side of the Internet, the name is “Jesus” — they write about Christianity the way we write about Marxism, and as often.

      It’s just history.

      1. Frip

        Cool. I can see that I guess. Just real quick, since you’re so into him. What kind of guy do you think he’d be to hang out with at a bar? Or over 18 rounds of golf. Interesting burly guy…commie but a man’s man, who can give as well as he takes. Or annoying ideologue dick who doesn’t give an inch. Thanks

        1. Severian Post author

          The latter. Marx’s nickname in high school was “Destroy,” because that was every third word out of his mouth. That he didn’t personally get to murder someone who disagreed with him is just an accident of history.

          1. Toddy Cat

            Agreed. Engles might have been an interesting guy to talk to, but Marx comes off as a boring monomaniac. Give me Sorel any day.

    2. ErisGuy

      The Communist Manifesto, readable in an afternoon (unlike Das Kapital), requires a lifetime of theorizing afterwards.

  4. Al from da Nort

    I share your observation about the Old Right being flummoxed by the New Left in the ’60s. Having been there in 1968, the thing that most struck me at the time was, *there was no pushback* to speak of by the elite as a whole.* Part of the reason, of course, was it was their own kids doing a lot of the demonstrating.

    But another reason has to be that the Old Right had apparently lost confidence in their right to rule, aka The Mandate of Heaven. They couldn’t summon good reasons as to why the Progs were wrong, although it was as obvious then as it is now, if you cared to look at it seriously.

    So what underlying school of thought would have bolstered their confidence_? I’ve come to believe that they had been buffaloed by ‘scientism’ . That is, arrogant leftists claimed the mantel of ‘science’ for their baseless assertions about the nature of man and therefore the easy prospects for smart people changing it through talk (psychiatry – now known go be mostly BS), economic arrangements (classic Marxism, now known to bring mass death) or social mores (cultural Marxism, now known to produce mass degeneracy and lunacy). Because they were mainline protestant, ‘cultural christians’ (if they went to church at all) and not, you know, actual Christians they were bereft of the settled confidence to push back against the bluff.

    If one is an actual Christian (of any denomination) he knows very well the fixed and depraved nature of man. It is the theological tenant that has the *most* historical evidence in its favor, after all. And he also knows that smart people, all by themselves, are incapable of changing it. Only the Holy Spirit can do this.
    *They *hated* Pres. Nixon and had him removed via a deep state operation because he did push back and attempt to disrupt their cash flows from the Govt.. There was no going around the elites domination of the national mass media, unlike now.

    1. nightfly

      There’s another reason this stuff got as far as it did in the postwar years, that it never did during the 30s and 40’s – socialism is parasitic.

      Any parasite needs a healthy host in order to itself be healthy. No socialist scheme was going to be worth anything to anyone (even socialists!) during the dustbowl years. Heck, when Social Security debuted in 1936, the initial payments were pittances, and the retirees were scarcely around long enough to collect all that many of them. Then there was war, and with it came shortages and rationing, because we had more important things to worry about than a bunch of crackpots whose ideas were clearly pointless.

      The post-war prosperity, however, fed the worms. For the first time in a long time, the nation was doing well, and as a result, all these little programs suddenly found themselves on solid ground, at least financially. That fooled the host into thinking that the main argument against such things, that we would never be able to afford them, wasn’t really true. And indeed, if you took Woodrow Wilson forward in time to the booming dot-com economy, and told him what the common standard of living was compared to his own presidency – if he could see the sheer volume of government revenue and expenditure – I think he’d have another stroke. Surely a government worth a trillion or two a year could afford to feed every last mouth, especially with that delightful Sanger lady making sure that none of it was wasted on unessential persons!

      Alas, Thatcher was right, and we are now running out of other people’s money. The host is now bloated beyond belief and not nearly healthy enough to feed all these worms, which are far larger than the patient they’re attached to. The last time the federal budget was less than 15% of the GDP was fiscal year 1951; most of the time it’s been 20% or more. Even this century… I mean, people were shrieking that people would starve en masse (women and minorities hardest hit) if we cut the last budget to pay down debt, FY2001, in which Washington DC paid out nearly 1.9 trillion American dollars.

      The latest budget is over double that, in just 17 years. I will grant that GDP is also double what it was, hooray and all, but what would have been the big deal if we had just frozen spending at 2001 levels? If we had decided that the federal budget should be less than 15% of our annual wealth? By my math that’s just a shade over $3T in DC spending – over half again what we spent a generation ago, but this time paying down the debt by about a half trillion rather than adding to it by that amount. In an economy with jobs aplenty for everyone, we couldn’t do that?

      When the smash comes, and the grid is off, the water taps are dry, when there’s no gas or food and we’re sharpening sticks in a fire to hunt the local raccoon population for our only meal of the day, we’ll look back and curse ourselves, but we sure as hell won’t learn.

  5. WOPR

    You had a post about Christians need to look tougher. Did you see the video this week of the Christian talking on campus? I didn’t have the audio up but the guy is yelling at a bunch of college zombies when some little punk in a backpack decides to take a swing at him. Well, Mr. Christian had some big, muscular guy along. He catches the punch in his hand and taunts the punk.

  6. MBlanc46

    There’s not much point debating the Pomos on epistemology or logic. They don’t really take postmodernism very seriously. They might argue for the relativity of *your* facts, but they absolutely believe in *their* facts. It all comes down to what sort of world is desired. We want a society where white men have a keading role. They want a society where PoCs and women run everything. We can either peacefully separate or we’ll have to fight it out to see who gets to have what he (or xir, or whatever it is) wants.

  7. Rod1963

    In regards to implementing Cloward-Privens. It is a splendid idea. The system doesn’t care if whites, blacks or illegals use it. So we may as well use it to our advantage instead of pissing and moaning about the raw deal we’re getting from it.

    If I was just starting out, heck yeah I would check “Native American” box or whatever on college applications and when applying for state and federal jobs. The worst that could happen is that they hire you for a nice fat six figure salary and you can’t be fired once you make it past probation.

  8. Jay Carter

    This is the sad reality. The gap between where the Democrats are now, and where the average American is, is widening.

    1. Rod1963

      The gap was already massive 40 plus years ago. Most people didn’t notice it or weren’t alive back then to see it

      Go watch “All in the Family” and other sitcoms of the 70’s. Even back then Hollywood hated the white working and middle-class and couldn’t conceal it anymore. The Democrats back then were full on gun grabbers(like they are now) and criminal worshipers, they hated the very notion of white people fighting back against the brown skin criminals. In many cities at the time it was illegal to defend yourself.

      Even back then they had a agenda to get rid of us. But they kept it down low as they say.

      Fast forward to today. The Democratic bosses and the billionaires have openly made it clear they want the whites dead and gone. This is the same shit Bill Ayers and his cronies were planning on doing to us before they got busted.

      The Dems hate us so much, even a small public gathering of alt-righters will result in gangs of Anti-Fa bused in to attack them. It doesn’t matter even if it’s the “Proud Boys” who are nothing but mainstream GOPer eating and drinking club.

      It’s already a soft civil war. It’s just a matter of time before it goes hot. Probably after the FBI starts arresting alt-right “thought leaders” with any sort of public profile like Gavin McInnes.

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