The Leftist Fourth of July
Zombietime looks at how the Fourth of July is commemorated in certain parts of San Francisco. Fifty years from today Zombietime's archives are going to be a trove for the archaeology of the Left -- even for those members of the Left (if they still call themselves that) who want to understand what their side really thought. The record will protect against the airbrushing that retrospectively softens the hard edges of ideological activism that presents the Rosenbergs for example, as simply patriotic Americas reacting against the excesses of the McCarthy era. One of the most admirable things about Kim Philby was his pride in treachery. Asked why he joined the KGB, Philby answered, "one does not look twice at an offer of enrolment in an elite force." This is in refreshing contrast to the numberless Western Leftists who thinly pretend to patriotic, or liberal churchmen or champions of human rights when deep down inside is a treacherous, atheistic authoritarian just waiting to bust loose.
It is hard to understand the purpose of the Left wing parades and propaganda festivals that Zombietime covers without understanding the secret need of "activists" to come out of the closet and just be themselves. Those parades and exhibitions do little to convert the unconvinced. But they are effective as liturgy in a certain kind of church and a secret coven inviting those who hear not an intellectual, but an emotional beckoning. As you move from poster to poster in Zombietime's Tussaud gallery of grotesques, it's disturbing to realize that the intended audience finds the "art" presented humorous, inspiring or insightful, when it is frankly derivative, shallow and depressing. The subject matter is hackneyed and never strays far from sexual politics, Hitlerian imagery, the adulation of the penis, both literal and in the form of an AK-47. The AK-47 never the more modern AK-74. And that's important because the art itself is clumsy and its cultural references mostly 30 years old. Like many religions its sacred text has been composed in a receding past never to be renewed.
This particular propaganda exhibition, held as Zombietime describes it, in "a former down-and-out Tenderloin motel that had been converted into a cultural hub and hipster hangout", is like the Left's Portrait of Dorian Gray -- the sump into which corruption flows so that the subject of the portrait can pretend to be forever young and beautiful. Maybe some would regard the exhibition as hateful. But in another way it is just sad. What saved Philby, like Satan, from falling into this embarrasing degradation was his defiant spitefulness; his eagerness to take all that England gave him and throw it in her face. He was the cocky reprobate to the end. That did not save him. But it gave him a certain flair. One which these exhibitions of Leftist vitriol in the Tenderloin will forever lack because deep down, few of the exhibitors really ever had the courage to take the final step of defiance: to renounce their American citizenship, to give up residence in a comfortable West Coast City and accept the privation and danger of becoming a real revolutionary. In that respect, Satan and Jihadis are far better.
What though the field be lost?
All is not lost--the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify his power
Who, from the terror of this arm, so late
Doubted his empire--that were low indeed;
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall; since, by fate, the strength of Gods,
And this empyreal sybstance, cannot fail;
Since, through experience of this great event,
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcilable to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.