Sunday, July 08, 2007

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.


Blogger PeterBoston said...

San Francisco should be a free fire zone.

7/08/2007 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Perhaps another reason they don't renounce American citizenship and take up exile in Venezuala is that if they did, they, quite frankly, wouldn't have anything to talk about.

They would have to live the sordid existence of a prole. And that is quite a step down from being the Vanguard that they think of themselves as.

7/08/2007 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

To be a minion in paradise, to rule in hell, to be a minion in hell...

When the true lefties ended up in the Gulag, they assumed it was some sort of mistake--that if they could just get word to Satan, he'd promote them up a couple of rungs--they might even make it to limbo.

Personally, I'd rather be a minion in Paradise than a minion in hell, since those are my only real choices. But so many people think they will end up ruling in hell, which of course isn't possible. No wonder they are angry.

7/08/2007 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger SC&A said...

Great, great insight.

In fact, what fuels these pipsqueaks has nothing at all to do with political ideology, but rather, they are are of the 'look at me!' crowd.

Take away the audience, take away the attention and you are left with with some very unhappy people, looking for meaning and fulfillment.

What they do not understand is that to find meaning and fulfillment, you have to address the inner moral brokenness- a task they dread, because to do so is to acknowledge many moral and ethical failures on their part.

They would have to admit they were wrong about many things- and that is something broken people cannot do.

For them. the expression 'failure is not an option' has an entirely different meaning.

7/08/2007 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger ForNow said...

There was one radical, Paul Goodman, who embraced the idea of failure. Goodman was some sort of anarchist and was radical in, let us say, many ways. Anyway, somewhere in his novelistic tetralogy The Empire City his characters decide that "It is better to lose than to win" and that "Best of all is a long, slow losing battle."

* * *

Steven Den Beste at the USS Clueless blog pointed out a few years ago that leftist events have a purpose in recruitment and in sustaining involvement. Basically, if you can get people to separate themselves from society by their doing or planning something illegal -- not necessarily criminal, but something illegal -- then it becomes easier to get them to identify with The Movement, for one has gotten them to override a commitment and habit of lawfulness, in favor of another standard. It ramifies, both consciously and unconsciously, throughout their behaviors and perspectives. The emotionalism of the process helps blind them to the kinds of logic taking possession of them through their own newly-set personal precedents. This is the stuff not necessarily of generating a mass movement, but rather of keeping at least a core of activists active and mischievous.

7/08/2007 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I guess the only difference between the Leftist nuts and their Right Wing equivalants such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly among many others is that while the Lefties have to content themselves with a couple hundred bored urbanites in a cheap hotel in the Tenderloin, the Righty freaks get to broadcast their ignorant propaganda over the corporate sponsered airways reaching audiences in the tens of millions.

And what a great rhetorical trick that was comparing the Lefties negativly to Kim Philby. Hey let me take a try at this intellectual right wing parlour game. Hmm,those Leffties are even more pathetic than Charles Manson, at least when he committed mass murder he was proud of it. These Lefties are all obviously mass murderers too except that they try to hide it.

Wow, I think I could be a right wing intelectual too. But it sure is hard work.

7/08/2007 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Panday said...

Looks like poor Kevin got his feathers ruffled because the freaks in San Fran are clowning themselves in public and it's all over the blogosphere- kind of like the embarrassing cousin or uncle who makes a scene by showing up drunk at events and pissing in the punch bowl before getting kicked out. But, hey, he's family.

7/08/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Handsome Hu said...

Hey, Kevin, sorry your political beliefs suck.

Why don't you try to lance your ruffled identity-politic/social-corporate construction by writing some circuitous nonsense?

In the mussulman culture, they call these "fatwas" but you could call yours whatever you want.

7/08/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mitch said...

Kevin, I don't like Rush Limbaugh either, but at least my tax dollars don't support him like they do NPR. Besides direct government transfers, donations to them and to Radio Pacifica, among others, are tax-deductible. You've got a government subsidy for your side; Fox has to sell something people are willing to buy. See the difference? No, I didn't think so.

7/08/2007 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

That which is most noteworthy about the posters is not their ideological content, but their stale and derivative nature. They utterly lack originality or imagination.

Do these folks really think they are avante garde? Reading these posters is like riding an artistic time machine back to the early twentieth century.

7/08/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Saul Alinsky’s “thirteenth rule” of political tactics: “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Alinsky's most prominent acolyte is Hillary Clinton, if her dissertation is any evidence.

7/08/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Kevin, right of center talk radio exists for one reason and one reason only. There's money to be made. Period. There is a large audience that wants to hear a different perspective, one that slants toward American pride, nationalism and our unique place in the world, not one that focuses on America's failings and faults. If there wasn't this audience then the corporate interests would cancel these shows. What galls those of your political leaning is that liberal talk radio has failed, repeatedly. Seems there is no audience for the whining, pissing and moaning of the left on the radio. And if the diminishing audiences for network news and newspapers are any indication, I dare say you may soon be complaining about rightwing TV and newspapers.

7/08/2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Talk radio is the lib's Pandora's Box. They'll go on and on about the Troubles that flew out, but they don't even know that the last Trouble to escape the box was "Hope".

7/08/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger ForNow said...

The failure of lib and leftist talk radio is incomprehensible unless one understands that it competes not against conservative talk radio but rather against the much of the mainstream news media -- television, print, and online -- which, because of its leftward slant, already satisfies the demand of lib and leftist audiences.

But some leftists prefer the "corporatist" explanation. These folks tend to regard the US news media as unbalanced because it doesn't reflect openly marxoid viewpoints. To them, the NYT, CBS news, etc., are on the right, and they want to skew the assumptions of the discussion by chanting that claim over and over.

7/08/2007 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

1. I think it hilarious that they've a fat guy playing the Gitmo prisoner.

2. Fascinates me to no end that the people who most need to protected from Sharia spend their time abusing their protection.

3. Your rant, Kevin, was terribly pedestrian...and fully in keeping with the drivel at the Tenderloin flophouse, so, I guess, you must be proud.

7/08/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Yes, damn that accursed profit motive. Slavery is SO much more fair. And bonus, neither character nor virtue much matter.

7/08/2007 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

San Francisco, ironically, was the home of Eric Hoffer - longshoreman, day laborer and enthralling essayist.

One of his lucid observations came to me as I was reading the above. This was on the nature of heresies.

One of the interesting properties of heresies is that they are almost always the product of a movement in its dynamic early stages.

Hoffer also argued that Marxism is a capitalist heresy.

If it is true that Capitalism is past its first vigor, then this may explain why no socialist has come up with a new idea in decades.

No wonder why the ritual vitriol splashed on that flophouse's walls rehashes past symbols.

7/08/2007 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: capitalism past its prime.

Indeed. It was an industrial-age construct. Today we find capital has resumed its role of lubrication, not enabler or barrier-to-entry. Return on invested capital (after inflation) has never been lower. Ideas and information amount to far more than the billion dollar machine.

Free enterprise by free individuals (in a system of minimal self government that guarantees same) supplants capitalism (that really was insensitive to manner of government if it was left alone)? I suspect so. May also end our age old fear and jealousy of those whose business is making markets and extracting a small fee for same.

People are also more aware how transparency is more important than the appearance of equality-of-wealth. There always have been large gaps between the poorest and wealthiest. Some societies mask this in social or business constructs. e.g. Keritsu princes and princelings with a nominal salary but all the perquisites of kings, including life and death (what CEO today can order a murder without care?). Or a socialized Europe, supposedly more equal than America, but profoundly less so. Including the ability of their leaders of their blended companies to act outside the rules with impunity.

Empirically, and given a belief that all people have roughly the same innate abilities, I've become a believer in "latent wealth" - which is the difference between the poorest and richest countries. Everyone has the same ability, but their means of government by its policies implicitly decides how much of this wealth they deign to share with their citizens, subjects (or victims). The more a government (i.e. those with the power to coerce w/ force) shares its (latent) wealth, the more wealth we see in individuals and their enterprise. Including comparatively different numbers of very wealthy individuals and organizations.

This can be unsettling. In groups that value egality over wealth creation, over achievers are given incentives to do less. Where the result is some leveling, from a marginal tax with small impact, to systems like communism which demand the ultimate sacrifice of 10s of millions, and non-productive (no betterment of society) labor of billions.

I'm also becoming convinced that the synonym for "left" is often "selfish" - only a few of the left are do-ers who are willing, and do sacrifice all. The rest are parasites.

7/08/2007 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

So moral judgements concerning right wing propaganda radio and television are forbidden; only balance sheets are a suitable criteria for judgement? So then the Lefty propaganda display in the Tenderloin discussed in Wretchard's original post should only be condemned if it fails to turn a profit?

The reason there are so few liberal talk shows on the radio is that typically in order to become a liberal one's ability to engage in ration thought is developed enough to nullify the need for surogate thinkers to whom one chants "ditto". Your typical liberal wants the raw data and prefers to constuct reality himself, much as a good cook wants the good raw materials and not some pre-made Salbury steak TV dinner.

On the other hand Right wingers force all external data not through the rational portions of their brains but channel it into their emotional centers. This explains their need for a fat, impotent, drug addict to attempt to raise their emotional outbursts to the level of rational discourse. Since no thinking is needed, all one has to do to participate is chant ditto. Blind agreement and the abandonment of individual rationality is the goal of all propaganda and Rush is the master at it.

So were the Lefties in the Tenderloin chanting ditto to the amateur propaganda posters they were confronted with? I doubt it. My personal opinion is that propaganda poster format is now only good for satire, as used in's Patriotic Poster section.

7/09/2007 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: moral judgment.

Is evident in every vote with a citizen's wallet. To deny the meaning of this act - daily voluntary and un-coerced statements of support and appreciation is also a denial of democracy-in-action. Granted, the left tends to deny the market as a moral operator even though it always has an arguably moral result by their rubric (two happy participants who think they are both better off after the trade than they were before) save if someone with the power to coerce (government) interferes.

Dictatorships (including dictatorships of a majority, and even loving parents) tend to have at least one unhappy participant in any allocation of scarce resources. For those that value the ends more than the means (often on the Left), it's surprising how little individual choice is respected, if not valued.

And unless someone wants to take responsibility for the outcome, I much prefer the random walk of the market to dictat (else as a participant in a democracy, even if on the losing side, I am responsible both morally and as a matter of fact). Which is another reason why less government is more moral than large (in the Christian ethic a measure of enslavement - the denying of free will). e.g. Tell me again why I'm allocating kidneys, deciding who lives and dies?

This is pretty much self correcting. "Eat your carrots" only works as long as a free people believe it doesn't apply to them. Limbaugh and Hannity ride the wave of popular revulsion to these dictats. If/whn forced off the air, these people and their expression will move elsewhere. They seem so much tamer (and fact based) than, say, the Kingfish, H. Long or Fr. Coughlin.

A marketplace of ideas indeed.

7/09/2007 03:52:00 AM  
Blogger OmegaPaladin said...

Nice point Wretchard. I've always despised the armchair revolutionary movement - the sense of hypocrisy is just disgusting.

I do appreciate you actually making an argument as opposed to just a snarky line. However, you can't have it both ways. Your first post claims that the Left is blocked by Corporate Evil. Your second post claims it is because Leftists are super-rational and do not need or want prompting from outside sources. (Why, then, the love of Leftist icons like Chomsky?) These are incompatible. You can't both claim leftist talk radio would succeed but for the Evil Corporations and claim that there is no need for leftist talk radio

Oh, and you believe the left is somehow free of mindless chanters? Have you ever been to a leftist protest? You can here such informed lines as BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED! or GEORGE BUSH GO AWAY, RACIST SEXIST ANTI-GAY!

7/09/2007 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Kevin --

The failure of Liberalism is related to class. Marx did have one key insight after all.

Liberals are: NPR listeners, Volvo drivers, status-conscious, wealthy, upper class people.

Liberals are concerned with: Moral superiority, social standing, opinions of "social superiors" such as the UN, EU, etc, "moral causes" such as Global Warming, rights for terrorists, anti-Israel/Anti-semitism, etc.

The failure of Liberal Talk radio was it had competition from NPR, and tried to appeal who were not and COULD NOT EVER BE LIBERAL: WORKING PEOPLE.

Liberalism is a class activity. For wealth, status-focused yuppies trying to advance their social status as much as possible within their group.

Liberals for example support open borders and amnesty because it hurts working class people who are their class enemies. Not the least that working class people could threaten their social position by upward mobility.

So Liberals hatred for working-class patriotism comes as no surprise. What do you expect from Upper Class Liberals?

I am a working class man from a working class family. Therefore, by definition Liberals have nothing to offer me and remain my political enemies.

As a Liberal you should be proud of your aristo, wealthy background or aspirations to join the new nobility and oppress the working man. But don't expect us working class people to have anything but contempt for our class enemies.

7/09/2007 03:01:00 PM  

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