March 21, 2017

"In reaction to the growing globalization of the Roman Empire, elite corruption, the banality of bread-and-circuses, and the end of the agrarian Italian Republic, the Stoics opted out..."

"... choosing instead a reasoned detachment from contemporary life. Some, like the worldly court philosopher Seneca, seemed hypocritical; others, such as the later emperor Marcus Aurelius, lived a double life of imperial engagement and mental detachment. Classical impassiveness established the foundations for the later monastic Christians, who in more dangerous times increasingly saw the world around them as incompatible with the world to come — and therefore they saw engagement as an impediment to their own Christian belief. More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.... Monastics are tuning out the media.... When everything is politicized, everything is monotonous; nothing is interesting... For millions of Americans, their music, their movies, their sports, and their media are not current fare. Instead, they have mentally moved to mountaintops or inaccessible valleys, where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now...."

Writes Victor Davis Hanson in "Monasteries of the Mind," which I'm reading because because it was recommended in the comments to a post I'd put up earlier today. The commenter, Jeff Kuebler, said:
Standing off, interesting--I clicked here right after reading Victor D Hanson's column on people tuning out.
What I'd written was:
Speaking of very, very ugly,* I feel myself drifting away from politics. In the early years of this blog, I had a subheading under the blog title "Althouse" that read: "Politics and the aversion to politics, law and law school, high and low culture, and the way things look from Madison, Wisconsin." The aversion to politics had kind of been the story of my life, and blogging had me just dabbling in actual political opinion. The opinion has always been tinged with the aversion. I'm standing off at some distance observing how other people are political.
_______________________

* The post began with a quote from Joe Biden imagining the world turning very ugly, very, very ugly.

81 comments:

David Begley said...

The Stoics would not watch CNN.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now...

I disagree. I dwell in the here and now. Not in the pop-culture here and now, but in the real world. I have a job. I have a family. I enjoy the world around me. I pay enough attention to the news to be an informed citizen, but not so much that I'm whip-sawed back and forth by the latest outrage-du-jure.

AprilApple said...

Is it ugly to give 400 million dollars of our taxes to the Iranian Mullahs without the consent of Americans?

Just asking.

traditionalguy said...

This sounds like the Aristocrat's wisdom of fence sitting that take no risks...stop everything. Winners keep their winnings.

The other way is taking a leadership role and fighting for a win. That means volunteering to take risks.

In today's struggles, even the NFL and NBA no longer seem very exciting.

rhhardin said...

The Romans didn't have twitter. Zingers defeat the serious subgenre of frivolity.

meb said...

where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now...

That's pretty much the opposite of a stoic...

Sebastian said...

"In reaction to the growing globalization of the American Empire that invited non-Americans to invade, elite corruption evident in the shenanigans of the Clinton and Obama political crime families, the banality of bread-and-circuses used to promote subversive causes, and the end of the liberal, constitutional Republic overturned by arrogant judges, the would-be Stoics opted out, imagining that they were choosing instead a reasoned detachment from contemporary life, but in fact hastening the utter demise of all they still held dear by granting victory to the progressive culture destroyers."

rhhardin said...

All tuning out means is that they're not watching the MSM news. It's too stupid.

Audience and revenue declines.

rhhardin said...

If you want to live in the future, Islam is for you.

Everything is sacrificed to the next world.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Politics should not be a big deal. Michael Oakeshott believed that we should place no more importance on politics than we do on dancing or making pottery. Politics has no greater purpose, it's just a thing that people do. If we are a bad people politics cannot not make us good, and if we are a good people, politics cannot make us bad. There is no right or wrong politics just as there is no right or wrong color to paint your house. Politics is not taking us anywhere.
I am enjoying "the Trump experience" because he is deflating the egos of all those dickheads who thought that the best and most important man was Government Man!

Angel-Dyne said...

But the monastics of Late Antiquity were not, in the end, dropouts. They kept the flame from going out, and their institutions would in time be a vital source from which a new civilization would be put together out of the remains of the old.

buwaya said...

Marcus Aurelius was my model since youth.
Engagement but with personal detachment was my way indeed.

I have made the mistake of giving my girlfriends the "Meditations" (granted, after one gave me Kahlil Gibran and another "A Room with a View").

Clayton Hennesey said...

The blogger Rod Dreher has a new book out that he says recommends for Christians a posture of withdrawing in order to engage. I'm not exactly sure what he means by that or if it even means anything at all, but several of the guiding real life examples of his "Benedict Option" he gives involve real life monasteries, as does the book's cover. So at least some people are checking out monasteries outside of the mind as well.

tastid212 said...

"the latest outrage-du-jure"

Ignorance, FTW -- a terrific trilingual pun and so apropos!

Paddy O said...

Know thyself

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This article by Hansen, Monasteries of the Mind, and Althouse's post about GW Bush becoming a quite good artist have some congruence.

Hansen says Monastics are tuning out the media.... When everything is politicized, everything is monotonous; nothing is interesting... For millions of Americans, their music, their movies, their sports, and their media are not current fare. Instead, they have mentally moved to mountaintops or inaccessible valleys, where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now....

Whether Bush is retreating from politics and the frantic tempo of modern life is something that I, certainly, can't say. But when you are an artist.....you do retreat from the here and now of daily life and retreat into the act of creating. Painting, making stained glass, throwing pottery, sculpting, weaving ...even gardening(I use those examples because these are arts that I have done and some that I still do)....all are meditative acts. Meditative and acts that use your body as well as mind. Healing and soothing.

The mere act of creating from your mind, to your hands, onto the canvas, into the clay, watching the shuttle rhythmically going back and forth to create fabric that envision being used in multiple ways..takes you away from the frenzy of the here and now...for a while.

This 'may' be what is motivating Bush. Having been in the center of the frenzy for so long, imagine the peace of plying paint to canvas to bring the images in his mind to reality. Nothing exists at that moment other than you and the art.

This retreat from the frenzy is why we love to take some time camping. Retreating from the world and listening to the creeks, the birds, the sounds of the wind.....and....lots of afternoon naps :-D

buwaya said...

If you are young enough to benefit from this, do not engage young women in book tit-for-tat.

They are extremely unlikely to care about what you like. Nor do they really want to know.

buwaya said...

To be clear, I ended up marrying the young woman who gave me "A Room with a View". She still hasnt cracked Marcus Aurelius.

Darrell said...

I could live with tit for tat.

YoungHegelian said...

I'm not exactly sure what he means by that or if it even means anything at all, but several of the guiding real life examples of his "Benedict Option"

I've never understood why Dreher proposed the "Benedict Option". St. Benedict & his krew didn't own 300 million guns. The history of the Christian community under the Roman Empire would have been quite different if they had.

I think that Dreher in NYC & VDH in Mexifornia were expecting, like the rest of us, that the Repubs would take a beating from the top of the ticket down. That didn't happen. In fact, the conservatives (or, perhaps you'd prefer the term "the Republicans") increased their grip on the levers of power all up & down the line, state, local & federal. It's not like conservatives are now being forced to live in caves.

Now, that being said, I don't want to dissuade anyone so inclined to turn away from a life of poverty, chastity, & obedience in God's service. The world still needs all the prayer & sanctification it can get, no matter what party's in the state house. But, let's not play the powerless victim. There's still a lot of kick left in that ol ' mule.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.... Monastics are tuning out the media.... When everything is politicized, everything is monotonous; nothing is interesting... For millions of Americans, their music, their movies, their sports, and their media are not current fare. Instead, they have mentally moved to mountaintops or inaccessible valleys, where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now....""

What a great observation, though I think it applies mainly to the middle-aged and older. It is perfectly possible to do both, though. Live fully in the world and find occasional refuge in the historic or esoteric.

Luke Lea said...

I tuned in to Morning Joe for ten seconds this morning. The first words out of Joe's mouth were "the stupidest thing ever done" followed by Mica's "outrageous" or a word to that effect, at which point I turned it off.

Scott M said...

The appeasement of his crudity by Kaepernick’s multimillionaire bosses and teammates might explain why NFL audiences (and revenues) are down.

That might be part of it, but from what I've observed among my die-hard NFL fan friends, the guys that play in five or six different fantasy leagues at the same time, the frustration isn't with the likes of Kaepernick, but rather with the way the games are presented now. A couple minutes of gameplay, ten minutes of commercials. A couple more minutes of gameplay, ten more minutes of commercials. Yes, I'm exaggerating, but that's what it feels like to these guys.

robother said...

"When everything is politicized, everything is monotonous; nothing is interesting...." I think Ann is (certainly I am) experiencing this lately. The predictability that comes from politicizing the personal is making MSM unwatchable to all but the fanatic.

St. George said...

Hanson's essays on what life is like where he lives in central (?) California are....terrifying. He describes a world where lawlessness is routine and decay and rot are everywhere.

Back in the day the TV networks did occasional hour-long documentaries about topics such as that. It's impossible to even imagine such an undertaking today if for no other reason than Hanson contends much of the horror is caused by illegal aliens.

William said...

Empires collapse when their citizens no longer think their empires are worth defending. The Stoics confidently predicted the passing of the Roman Empire several hundred years before it actually fell. Their arguments were not persuasive to most of the population. According to Gibbons, anyway, it was the Christians who finally convinced the Roman populace that the Roman Empire was unworthy of preservation..........Trump is kind of loutish, but he's pro American and he has a vital energy. Hillary was enervated and listless and sensitive to all the grievances that white men (with the exception of her husband) have caused. I think Trump's decadence is healthier than Hillary's morality...........I'm pretty sure the American Empire will outlast me, but who really knows.. Empires, in recent times, vanish overnight. The Soviet Empire collapsed faster than the Romanov one. The British Empire didn't survive WWII and was a dead man walking after WWI......All the artists and intellectuals tell us that America sucks, but that might be a sign of affirmation. In the 19th century, the artists and intellectuals were resolutely opposed to bourgeoisie civilization and that's when it had its greatest flowering.

robother said...

"When everything is politicized, everything is monotonous; nothing is interesting...."

Yeah, that's pretty much my (and I take it Ann's) take. Ironic that sustained rage, whatever its stimulative effects on the subject, becomes quickly tedious and predictable for the observer.

YoungHegelian said...

It's not the politics that I find enervating. It's the badly done politics & commentary that I find enervating.

So much of what's done is simply re-enforcing a particular market segment in their prejudices over & over again. This happens from the lofty heights of our "finest" newspapers to the febrile ravings of a regional conservative radio shock-jock. I get my analyses in long form from books or in short form from the web, where, with some judicious picking, the quality can be much higher.

Angel-Dyne said...

Young Hegelian: I've never understood why Dreher proposed the "Benedict Option". St. Benedict & his krew didn't own 300 million guns. The history of the Christian community under the Roman Empire would have been quite different if they had.

[...]

Now, that being said, I don't want to dissuade anyone so inclined to turn away from a life of poverty, chastity, & obedience in God's service. The world still needs all the prayer & sanctification it can get, no matter what party's in the state house. But, let's not play the powerless victim. There's still a lot of kick left in that ol ' mule.


It's also not quite accurate to think of the "otherworldly" monastics as being, well, all that otherwordly, considering that they developed from alternative institutions that were the humble holy beneficiaries of wealthy and powerful patrons, into primary nodes of (sometimes immense) power and influence themselves. (See: Cluny)

Benedict may not have started out with the 300 million guns, but one could say they ended up with the cultural equivalent thereof. And hey, since we already have the guns, maybe we can skip through some of the intermediary stages in the development of alternative institutions, eh? (Not to rush into the Cluniac dénouement, mind you.)

Birches said...

I haven't read Dreher's book yet, but I have heard a few interviews with him and I don't think he means a full monastery life. He means that the Church must take a more central role in our everyday lives and homes if we have any hope of raising a new generation of believers. He said the Mormons do a good job of it, so it's not really about going full monk.

I feel like Althouse. I've quit Twitter. I do enjoy this website still, but I find myself dream to the more cultural posts rather than the overtly political ones. If I log on and see 100 comments and Chuck and whoever going back and forth, I won't bother clicking through. It's all such manufactured outrage. What's the point?

Static Ping said...

When it appears that society is going to get you killed one way or the other, withdrawing to enjoy what you can before society actually does kill you does have its charms. It is a lot less stressful to not see it coming. Of course, remaining engaged does open up the possibility of surviving, though at the expense of being stressed out all the time and not enjoying anything.

I am starting to appreciate the ancient solution of killing everyone who is a problem. It certainly gets to the point promptly.

Robert Cook said...

I've long loved this quote from Marcus Aurelius' MEDITATIONS:

“In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his sense a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, his fame doubtful. In short, all that is body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors.”

Yancey Ward said...

It is the sheer monotony of political discourse that causes people to disengage. It is like that channel I had growing up that reran the exact same 20 episodes of Gilligan's Island at 5:00 p.m. for 3 years running.

I can't fathom people who watch MSNBC, CNN, or FoxNews every single night, and thankfully, if you look at their ratings, it appears there really aren't that many of them any longer, and I take great comfort in that.

buwaya said...

"It is the sheer monotony of political discourse that causes people to disengage"

I suspect this is by design. Repeat the same monotonous message and people will turn off all messages. An excellent way to usefully disengage the public - hoping that more of the other side will be repelled than your own.

The campaign works on many levels. These aren't stupid people.

buwaya said...

"Hanson's essays on what life is like where he lives in central (?) California are....terrifying. "

More scary I think is what he says about whats happened to the teaching of the classics (he being a classicist) in California. And based on my own reliable sources, given that I am a good customer of the UC system, he is absolutely correct.

They are graduating great numbers of very clever but very ignorant young people.

Its the rot at the top thats more disturbing.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger buwaya said...
Marcus Aurelius was my model since youth.
Engagement but with personal detachment was my way indeed

Marcus was followed by Commodus.

MarkW said...

Bryan Caplan wrote about the same idea with his 'beautiful bubble':

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/03/my_beautiful_bu.html

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/04/make_your_own_b.html

buwaya said...

"Marcus was followed by Commodus."

Marcus gives the impression of a man who has had to do the same dirty but essential job over and over again, the duty of Sisyphus. With no hope of relief, nor long term prospects for improvement. I'm pretty sure he suspected that there would be, if not Commodus, _A_ Commodus after him, if not worse.

Titus said...

Can't he just go by Vic or Victor Hansen?

Must he be Victor David Hansen.

The name is so pretentious and I abs hate pretentious people.

tits.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Must he be Victor David Hansen."

No.

He must be Victor Davis Hansen.

Paco Wové said...

"If we are a bad people politics cannot not make us good"

Politics cannot make bad people good, but it can give bad people power.

robother said...

"Marcus was followed by Commodus."

While the Stoic was away, his wife did play, presumably with a gladiator. And say what you will about Commodus as ruler, his undefeated record in the arena against man or beast will never be equalled.

Donald Douglas said...

I'm "standing off" more and more in my blogging, and instead blogging more and more about books (and my Amazon associates business, lol).

But I teach political science, so I can never fully "stand off."

Anthony said...

I do feel a bit awkward disagreeing with Hanson, but I think he may have the Stoics wrong? I’ve been reading a fair bit of Marcus Aurelius and also a biography of Seneca the Younger and I don’t get the “withdrawing” from it. Though I’m still a neophyte with Stoicism, it seems to me engaging with the world isn’t the issue but how one does so. Seneca was, indeed ,quite wealthy and actually a very influential part of the governing class (he did try to withdraw later in life but was not allowed to), but his idea was that one may be wealthy if said wealth was obtained morally and is used in the same fashion. Sort of like the Christian philosophy that money isn’t evil, but love of money is.

Two quotes from Seneca that have appealed to me very much lately:

“No one can live happily who looks to himself alone, who turns everything to his own profit; you must live for another if you would live for yourself — 'alteri vivas oportet, si vis tibi vivere.”

“I am not a wise man, and, so please your malice, I never shall be. I therefore do not claim to be equal with the best, but only better than the worst. Enough for me if every day I make some little progress, and can clearly see and denounce my own errors. I am not cured; I never shall be cured. I contrive palliations rather than remedies for my malady; and am content if its attacks become gradually rarer.”

Both from Caldwell, Francis. “The Stoic.” Enhanced Media, 2015-12-21.

Jane the Actuary said...

Tyler Cowen has a new book out (I'm 6th in the hold line at the library) called The Complacent Class, which says, from what I understand, that we in the U.S. have shifted from dynamism to complacency, as measured with metrics such as the percentage of the population that has moved. Presuming that Hanson has got it right (which places BLM and Women's March protesters in the vocal minority) I would suspect that these two trends are interconnected.

My current pet theory is that the complacency that Cowen identifies links up to the rise of the "nones" in the U.S. ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2017/03/complacency-stupid-new-pet-theory-secularism.html) because religion tends to fade in modern complacent societies.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Jane the Actuary, that's an excellent observation. I would add that religious faith requires humility and complacent people are not humble. Witness the large gap between how US high school students raised on the Gospel of Self Esteem, see themselves ("we're number one!") compared with their dismal rankings when it comes to actual math and science scores. If you're great just the way you are, no matter how dumb or fat or nasty or ignorant you are, you have no need for God.

buwaya said...

A good way to look at the current controversies is to imagine that it is some past foreign conflict, such as the recent wars between the Sinhalese and Tamils. In other words, imagine yourself to be a different observer.

One can then observe such matters as logistics and morale and propaganda, ground taken or lost, the strengths of armies. It will become easier to intuit why things are happening and how things will go down.

Imagine you are a Tamil, looking at America. Or perhaps, explain yourself, and the conflict, to this distant Tamil.

Michael said...

James B. Stockdale led me to Epictetus, perhaps the greatest of the 'Stoics. I had for years before been reading Cicero and Seneca in the little red Loeb library editions with latin on the facing pages trying halfheartedly to resurrect my Latin. I am even now in On Duties, the best of Cicero written after Caesar and then the collapse of the Senate and all that Cicero held dear. He was on the run for years going from one country house to another, his own departure from the public life and immersion in philosophy. He didn't make it, of coiurse. As Philip Larkin wrote on death: much that can happen won't but this will.

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, is that what I've been doing.

Fernandinande said...

exiledonmainstreet said...
Jane the Actuary, that's an excellent observation. I would add that religious faith requires humility and complacent people are not humble.


I love it when people brag about their humility.

Witness the large gap between how US high school students raised on the Gospel of Self Esteem, see themselves ("we're number one!") compared with their dismal rankings when it comes to actual math and science scores.

Here are the actual PISA math scores and they're not dismal at all, actually pretty good. The most religious countries are either near the bottom of the list, or not on the list at all.

If you're great just the way you are, no matter how dumb or fat or nasty or ignorant you are, you have no need for God.

There's that humility again.

Che Dolf said...

I feel myself drifting away from politics...I'm standing off at some distance observing how other people are political.

You're bright and you're a good writer, which makes your Givhan-esque take on politics shameful. We're going to get something much worse than Trump because you disengaged mandarins want to pretend you're just watching a tv show.

Writes Victor Davis Hanson in "Monasteries of the Mind," which I'm reading because because it was recommended in the comments...

Do you ever read anything off the beaten path?

Henry said...

Anthony wrote: I’ve been reading a fair bit of Marcus Aurelius and also a biography of Seneca the Younger and I don’t get the “withdrawing” from it

Hansen emphasizes the idea of "mentally withdrawing" but I agree with your point. In my reading, one key distinction between the Epicureans and the Stoics (one of many key distinctions) is that Stoics most definitely did not withdraw from culture, business, and politics.

Henry said...

Two related quotes from Marcus Aurelius:

The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.

What stands in the way becomes the way.

buwaya said...

"Do you ever read anything off the beaten path?"

Try "The Iron Dream", Spinrad

Henry said...

"Do you ever read anything off the beaten path?"

I don't know about Althouse, but I usually read on the couch.

Fernandinande said...

Che Dolf said...
Do you ever read anything off the beaten path?


I went to public schools, so I can't read. Your mom typed this for me.

Paddy O said...

You! A disengaged mandarin!

Freeman Hunt said...

Input out of culture; output into culture.

Browndog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Browndog said...

Oddly, I just shut off the Nighty News...again, as soon is it began. As soon as the hyperventilating lede once again sent me running to a safe space. Silence.

Can't take the politics anymore; not even in sports. Hanson's thoughts are dead on.

rcocean said...

Am I disengaged? Of course not. That's just what the Democrats and the Liberal MSM want. "Oh, its so ugly out there, how icky".
That's what they want everyone - except Trump haters - to feel.

But I've stopped reading a lot a liberal MSM or #Nevertrumper websites like "Redstate" - "Hotair" - "Rightscoop". And I skip over anything written by Goldberg, Frum, Lowery, or Brooks. These assholes call themselves "Conservatives" and tried to elect Hillary. Fuck that noise.

As for pop culture or sports, I selectively disengaged years ago - for all kinds of reasons. Its not just old age, its a lot of things.

Paddy O said...

It might be worth noting that I started reading this blog back in the leadup to the 2004 election. Which is relevant, because in late 2003 I decided to step away from the usual way of life, move to the mountains, where I pursued what I then called a kind of monasticism. It was more informal and as a good Protestant had it's adaptations, but I had done this after wrestling with a lot of early monastic texts and was formed in the midst of it by reading Cassian and the volumes of the Philokalia. It was a radically reshaping, though not at all easy, season of life for me. I wasn't entirely disconnected, though increasingly found more thoughtful dialogue online than in my former network of friends.

Very transforming for me in almost every respect. Except financially, of course. It wasn't very helpful financially. But I was single then and able to make sacrifices for a deeper hope and goal. I resonated with a poem by Patrick Kavanaugh:

"That in the end
I may find
Something not sold for a penny
In the slums of Mind

That I may break
With these hands
The bread of Wisdom that grows
In the other lands.

For this, for this
Do I wear
The rags of hunger and climb
The unending stair."

Che Dolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Che Dolf said...

exiledonmainstreet said... Witness the large gap between how US high school students raised on the Gospel of Self Esteem, see themselves ("we're number one!") compared with their dismal rankings when it comes to actual math and science scores.

Asian and white Americans' PISA scores rank near the top.

harkin said...

While I think that the chances of the United States becoming more and more ugly are growing, I had to find the context to Biden's words and it has nothing to do with Trump being a detached, hands-off president.

I see more ugliness in the American media and academia in one week than I've seen in total from Donald Trump.

wildswan said...

As a Trump supporter in the liberal end of Wisconsin I feel like an abolitionist in the deep South as the Nullification controversy began. The other side is no longer able to be rational. Disagreement provokes absolute rage which implies some terrible fear. What is the fear?

In my opinion the Democrats are imploding which is generating this fear and rage and the primary reason for the implosion is that Trump and the Republicans are seen by all as the sole group interested in the American worker. History, as taught in the public schools now in texts such as Zinn's History of the American People, inculcates the belief that supporting the worker/farmer is the mark of a just and moral person. But during the election 2016 (which really only lasted a year at most, not an eternity) ... but during the election it became plain to all that the Democrats loathe the American worker/farmer both as a worker and in his culture. Above all, the Dems will NOT do anything to help workers keep jobs because jobs - building houses or dams, working in factories or mines or drilling for oil- jobs are mostly bad. And so are farms. And the people who hold jobs are worse when they aren't working - driving cars, barbecuing meat, air conditioning houses, swimming in lakes, hunting, fishing, playing sports, drinking beer - you name it, Democrats hate it all and regard the worker /farmer as moral inferiors. But when an American political party behaves like the Democrats, when it parades moral superiority because it likes Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, not because it helps the workers and the farmers, then the members of that party are, in the American of today, self-condemned because the majority of voters today have absorbed the semi-Marxist indoctrination of the public schools. Which has taught them that if you aren't helping the workers you are screwing them. In their hearts, the Dems know they are doing wrong by their own standards as Americans who held slaves knew they were doing wrong by American standards. And the Dems are as mad as the slaveholders in front of an abolitionist.

Ironic, huh? As the long march through the institutions ends, as Zinn triumphs, the whole enterprise enables Trump and the Republicans.

And hence the blinded rage of the other side and their incredible antics - discrediting the media, discrediting Hollywood, discrediting Big government. While the party of Cincinnatus retires to a farm, a monastery, a red state of mind. Meeting only in catacombs of blogs. The pause that refreshes.

D said...

There was a column by Peggy Noonan called "A Separate Peace" that - back in ye olde day - caused some commentary in blogland. The idea that people, in these times of echo chambers, instant communications, and the latest news from some guy in patagonia, may want to retreat to an inner place. Contemplate what is personally important. Or, perhaps, are resigned to impending chaos, and just plugging away, cause whatcha gonna do? Whatever. Who knows.
Meanwhile, if you want to find the screamers and the rage, well, it's there when you want. Online. In neverending comments from the same damn usual suspects in the lunch room every damn day, for ford's sake. You can check back in any time you like.
Or maybe it is better to go for a walk.

Robert Cook said...

"'Do you ever read anything off the beaten path?'

"Try 'The Iron Dream,' Spinrad"


I've had that in my library for 30-odd years, but I've never read it.

Robert Cook said...

"Witness the large gap between how US high school students raised on the Gospel of Self Esteem, see themselves ('we're number one!') compared with their dismal rankings when it comes to actual math and science scores."

Wal...that's the American Way!!

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Try 'The Iron Dream,' Spinrad"

Just read the Amazon description of this book and realized I'd read it in my teens almost 40 years ago. A bizarre book, I've never been able to recall the title in the intervening years. The wonder of the Internet.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Fuck stoicism. I wanna get rich off this shit. It's not like we're going to have a party in power that cares about anything else, anyway.

The lengths Republicans go to indulge themselves is incredible.

So we're going to price the elderly and the poor out of the insurance market, give well-to-do folks the tax breaks that they clearly need, and hand out a huge sop to the "defense" industries.

There goes America. We tried.

I'm not jumping ship without my share first. Fuck the rest of it.

Bad Lieutenant said...


buwaya said...
A good way to look at the current controversies is to imagine that it is some past foreign conflict, such as the recent wars between the Sinhalese and Tamils. In other words, imagine yourself to be a different observer.

Your Tamil is asking himself, they have all the physical power, why doesn't the right wing just strike?? Kill the left? Even kill a few of them and the rest will grovel and obey. At least it will make them stop messing around.

We are better than that!

Are we? I suppose once we were. But if force is the last Refuge of the incompetent, perhaps that just means that only the incompetent waits till the last to use force. Perhaps a few deaths now would save a great many lives later.

harkin said...

"So we're going to convince every person in the United States, citizen and visitors (both legal and illegal) that they are owed food, shelter, clothing, education, medical coverage, transportation and state of the art communication, information and entertainment, and that they have no obligation to provide these things for themselves.

There goes America, we tried"

FYP

SukieTawdry said...

Birches said If I log on and see 100 comments and Chuck and whoever going back and forth, I won't bother clicking through. It's all such manufactured outrage. What's the point?

Man, you're not kidding (what I wouldn't give for an ignore user option). There is no point. Most of Ann's regulars are capable of informed, spirited debate (and Laslo is worth the price of admission), but there are a few who can make the comments section a hard slog that sometimes is just not worth the effort.

A political activist since college, I basically dropped out in the 80's. Not only did I not engage in politics, I barely paid attention to what was going on in the world (the nation, after all, was in very good hands). It was the most blissful decade of my life (it was Bill and Hillary, the little dears, who pulled me back in). But even though I'm not at all sure what kind of hands the country's in now, I'm considering dropping out again. Temporary retreats don't seem to be enough anymore. Who needs this kind of aggravation.

Yancey Ward said...

Birches,

I sympathize with you. I simply ignore any comment Chuck writes any longer- I already know what his take on anything will be- as soon as I see the name, I skip right to the next comment. Unfortunately, I have had to start skipping the comments of those who don't seem to be able to practice the art of starving trolls to death, which is unfortunate- a lot of them still have something interesting to say in other contexts.

Robert Cook said...

"But even though I'm not at all sure what kind of hands the country's in now...."

Fat little piggy hands.

Robert Cook said...

"But if force is the last Refuge of the incompetent...."

Who ever said that? Force is usually the first choice of the powerful. Maybe the second choice, if it's cheaper to get what they want through bribery and graft, or if they're feeling magnanimous, (see "cheaper to get what they want, etc."), or are faced with someone who is nearly as powerful.

Bob said...

I totally get where Hanson is coming from. I've been working toward that end since the 60's. and I'm not alone. All those that move to the fringes on a couple, few acres and plant the fruit trees and over sized gardens (that's phase 1). Phase 2 is the bees, than phase 3, rescue dogs.

It turns out OK though, phase 4 is golf!

rastajenk said...

I think wildswan's post above was eloquent and spot-on. I've seen several references to Civil War-era Secesh and nullification in commentary recently, and I agree with the notion that the current Resistance is as willing to engage in constitutional crises, no matter who gets hurt, as the slave states were 150 years ago. I started on this thought-path when that converted religious clerk in Kentucky refused to marry samely-sexed couples, and how quickly that became a polarizing flashpoint, both sides grouping like iron filings to a magnet; I thought, holy cowshit, I know there's going to be a clash eventually, but I hope our Ft Sumter is something more important than this trivial, local incident. And I've viewed the antics of the left as the moral equivalent of Secesh since.

Liesl said...

Lewis Wetzel @9:27am-- yes, with the exception of abortion as birth control. God forgive the evil and subsequent desensitization towards our most vulnerable.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Robert Cook said...
"But if force is the last Refuge of the incompetent...."

Who ever said that?


Really, you never heard that one? Asimov, for one, but I'm pretty sure he didn't coin it.