November 26th, 2012

What would FredHjr say?

Many of you probably remember FredHjr very well. But for those of you who weren’t around this blog in his heyday, you should know that he was one of the most brilliant and prolific commenters here. Tragically, he died in June of 2009, and here’s a portion of a tribute I wrote shortly after hearing the terrible news:

Even though none of us actually met Fred in the real world, most of the regulars here knew FredHjr as I knew him—a brilliant mind containing knowledge of unusual depth and breadth, and demonstrating a rare ability to articulate his thoughts with precision, grace, and logic; a staunch patriot and passionate defender of liberty who never pulled his punches; a “changer” who had been a Marxist in his youth and held a vast storehouse of expertise on how the Left thinks and operates; a seeker of truth with an almost inexhaustible interest in the world around him; and a man of strong religious faith and great and abiding love for his family.

As the years have passed since Fred’s death, I’ve often thought of him and wondered what he would have said about the way things have turned out. And the other day, just by chance—when I linked to an old post of mine from April of 2008—I came across a comment of his that reminded me of what a sharp and prescient mind Fred had. Remember, this was written about seven months before the 2008 election:

The problem is that the demographics of the country do not favor the Republicans and McCain. A MAJOR reason why the country has slid to the Left is because the WWII generation is dying in big buckets, being replaced by an under-40 crowd that is strongly liberal-Left and was well indoctrinated rather than educated. Most of those Depression-WWII era citizens were Democrats at one time and after four years of Jimmy “Dhimmi” Carter they had enough, voted Republican thereafter. In fact (not including yours truly, initially) many of the younger Boomers defected over to the Republican Party at the same time (I’m a younger Boomer who stayed Left until about 1986-87).

The long Gramscian march through the institutions has worked. The Older Boomers who were/are still Leftists have pretty much controlled education, media, and law, and have hand-picked their GenXer successors to take their places in those jobs where the Left’s influence can be extended. There no longer is academic freedom, thanks to these people. Our under-40 crowd is the product of Outcome Based Education, “self-esteem,” and the dumbed-down political correctness regime that has created a milieu within which Obama can succeed.

I don’t really know what Fred would have had to say at this point, but I’m pretty sure his observations would have been exceptionally lucid, insightful, and helpful. But it seems to me it’s time to begin our own anti-Gramscian march through those same institutions. Actually, it’s way past time. An ounce of prevention would have been worth a ton of cure.

37 Responses to “What would FredHjr say?”

  1. Steve Says:

    I’d argue that people who lived through the depression and looked favorably on FDR were not much smarter than the younger generation now. FDR’s policies are the reason the US remained in depression through the 1930s. We are now facing bankruptcy because of entitlement spending started by FDR.

    I am with you about the anti-Gramscian march. Federalism is a way to undermine the political class in DC.

  2. Don Carlos Says:

    The Gramscian march through the institutions was already well under way by the time Gramsci formalized the concept. Its beginning was 100 years ago: Three generations ago.

    Conservatives whether neo or paleo simply lack the means and fortitude to do our own Gramsci. We will not follow Alinsky, Marx, Lenin, Adolf or Mao. We are crippled by our adherence to the truth of facts and by our morality. The Left has no such scruples. It now securely holds the high ground and it will never let go. Even if we commit to a 100-year counterattack, we are hamstrung in the doing. A call to arms, “Bring your longbows”, is futile in the face of machine guns, artillery and drones.

    The American Left has taken our measure and it has won.

    I’m not defeatist; I am realistic.

  3. expat Says:

    Steve,
    You are probably right about the greatest generation not being much smarter re: FDR. But those people, like my parents, started work very young and didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and widen their world. Even though they liked SS, my parents would have found the spoiled brats and victims of today disgusting. They actually knew how to do things rather than demonstrate and pontificate.

  4. Don Carlos Says:

    And I think FredHjr would agree with me. That is certsinly the sense of the writing you cite, Neo: It “has worked”.

  5. physicsguy Says:

    Neo, your call for our own march through those institutions is bound to fail in academia. THEY control the hiring committees and deanships. There is no way a conservative will be hired, especially outside the sciences/engineering, unless they somehow hide all their credentials and become the anti-Manchurian candidates. The numbers are totally against us. At my own institution, I count maybe 4 of us out of a faculty of 140. They’ve won.

  6. holmes Says:

    When I retire from the government (in forever), I would love to go teach high school. Not only as an anti-Gramascian, but I think it is a joy to teach young people (especially when you already have a pension and don’t feel trapped into teaching).

  7. thomass Says:

    holmes; they may be ahead of you. Do you know about the education courses you have to take to teach? You can be an expert in an area but not allowed to teach it without them.

  8. vanderleun Says:

    Sadly, physicsguy is correct. It will take other means.

  9. thomass Says:

    Steve Says:
    November 26th, 2012 at 10:47 am
    ” I’d argue that people who lived through the depression and looked favorably on FDR were not much smarter than the younger generation now. FDR’s policies are the reason the US remained in depression through the 1930s. We are now facing bankruptcy because of entitlement spending started by FDR.”

    Yes and no. FDRs ideas were new at the time. So I’d cut people back then some slack. Its not like they’d failed a bunch a times already.

    Also; the systems FDR set up were not as bad as they are today. example: Social Sec was not meant for the middle class. It was expanded long after FDR was dead. Also; he didnt support public employee unions… If social security were just for the very poor; I would not be against it. It also would not be very expensive.

  10. Steve Says:

    physicsguy, the bubble will burst sooner than later eliminating the need to ‘reform’ the current system. The anti-Gramscian march should be focused on facilitating the transformation.

  11. Steve Says:

    thomass, SS was set up with the understanding that everyone contributes and receives benefits (including the middle class). That was the secret to getting the entitlements passed. Means testing makes them welfare reducing support.

  12. physicsguy Says:

    Steve, I don’t see how there is any bubble, nor how it will burst. They have total control. AND, as thomass points out, their reach is even into the K-12 system now. Do a google search for “dispositions” and K-12 teacher certification.
    The “dispositions” criteria assures that only radical left people get K-12 teacher certification. If you don’t believe me check out some past FIRE cases where education students have been kicked out of their programs due to their conservative beliefs.

  13. thomass Says:

    Steve Says:

    “thomass, SS was set up with the understanding that everyone contributes and receives benefits (including the middle class). That was the secret to getting the entitlements passed. Means testing makes them welfare reducing support.”

    That’s not what I was taught. The history section in wikipedia is not that great so I’ll leave it to anyone else who might have the facts on hand to chime in.
    PS
    Also; from what I remember the republicans played a part in screwing social security up.

  14. Charles Says:

    Wow, Neo, so much of what FredHjr said is so spot on after this election.

    The only cure for this type of ignorance is education – and yes, we need to “liberate” educational institutions, the news media, etc. to get people to truly think.

    Talking with so many who voted for Obama since the election I have been astounded by the level of ignorance of Obama supporters.

    Just one example; one neighbor actually thought that the “rich” pay NO taxes. She was also convinced that Romney was going to outlaw abortion. In the 2008 election, she also thought the stories about Palin’s son being her daughter’s child were true. The rumor was that Sarah Palin was claiming her daughter’s son as her own to cover up her daughter’s unwed motherhood. Despite that fact that her daughter is an unwed mother and not hiding it seemed to not play into the rationale behind this rumor (seriously? How can people not think?)

    Or even among celebrities (granted, not the smartest folks to hold up as an example) Whoopi Goldberg tried that “gotcha” question on Ann Romney stating that Mormons were against war. “So, if your religion fobids going to war how can your husband send men off to fight?” Wow, what ignorance!

    How can any Republican win against such ignorance. Obama and the Democrats know this – just throw enough mud and other ignorance and ENOUGH folks will buy it. You don’t need to fool all the people; just fool enough. (Isn’t this what we are witnessing with Benghazi?)

    The only cure for this type of ignorance is education – and we (by we, I mean ALL Americans, not just those on the right) truly need to fix this in order for our country to stay America.

    I wish I had an answer; but, quite frankly, I’m too busy trying to economically survive that I don’t have time to do much else.

  15. George Pal Says:

    The anti-Gramscian march may be too little too late.

    The Leftists were for the most part unopposed. There will be opposition to an anti-Gramscian march. It would be better to start our own schools.

    Leftists adopted a lexicon ideologically redefined to disinvite curiosity – who could be against ‘social justice’? They will continue to control the glossary for some time to come.

    The Left dealt with a community of a kind. An anti-Gramscian march would have to appeal to Hispanics, Somalis, Muslims, Third World IQs, religious and cultural intransigence, all with an ignorance of or hostility to classical liberal values. Add to that a couple of generations of mis-educated natives.

    The Leftists were financed privately – the likes of George Soros – and publicly – taxpayer dollars. One would have to convince the Koch Bros., Adelson, et al to stop wasting their millions on elections and do something concrete with their money. Public money for the anti-Gramscian march? – forget about it – they’re not nearly so dense as we were.

  16. DonS Says:

    Steve Says:

    November 26th, 2012 at 10:47 am
    I’d argue that people who lived through the depression and looked favorably on FDR were not much smarter than the younger generation now.

    I was thinking this, but then noticed that the quote indicated that the older generation learned and shifted right. Which to some extent at least is true.

  17. LarryL@gmail.com Says:

    FredHjr, “…being replaced by an under-40 crowd that is strongly liberal-Left and was well indoctrinated rather than educated.” Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

  18. Mac Says:

    The problem with the hope of a conservative Gramscian march, or any similar attempt, is that the phenomenon conservatives are fighting is much more than a political philosophy. Progressivism is a religion that has replaced Christianity in the most prestigious and influential realms of western culture, to the point where it is itself the source of prestige and influence. Conservatism is not, especially secular Enlightenment-based conservatism (aka classical liberalism), which really shares many roots and assumptions with progressivism. I view a long ascendancy of the new faith as the most likely course of the next century or two. But then I’m a natural pessimist.

  19. gcotharn Says:

    I miss FredHJr’s thinking.

    An interesting thing about the blogosphere: you become intimate with people whom you will never meet. The intimacy is restricted: a slice. You do not experience the whole person. Yet, and still, you do become intimate with aspects of a person … in a way in which most of the person’s friends and loved ones do not. You see that person’s best reasoning, on a variety of topics, in a way in which most of their friends do not. You cannot help but feel a sense of being that person’s friend. From a distance. Re only a slice of the entirety of who that person is. But, still, re that slice: you feel as an intimate friend.

  20. Steve Says:

    DonS, you know what Churchill is supposed to have said: “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head.”

  21. carl in atlanta Says:

    Wish I had “known “FredHJr”, but I didn’t “discover” Neo’s blog until relatively recently. Appears that Fred had sized things up very accurately well before the 2008 election.

    Smart guy.

  22. Michael Brazier Says:

    A major reason why the Left can keep its hold on US colleges is the student loan system, which allows colleges to charge high prices for educating students without any accountability for the results of educating them badly. Glenn Reynolds suggested some time ago a legal change to that system: in any student loan, the college receiving the money from the loan becomes a cosignatory to it, so it must return the money if the student defaults. The result of that reform would be impressive, especially if it were retroactive (though we wouldn’t get away with that.) All the Left-dominated colleges that teach their students nothing but Marxism-laced claptrap would be destroyed by their improvident alumni; meanwhile, the colleges that give their students practical training, or a real education, would face only mild difficulty, because most of their alumni would pay off their loans. And the reform can be sold as a populist cause, for it would be a relief of the most onerous form of debt in the US today.

    The Left’s lock on primary education, however, won’t fail until the public schools collapse entirely, which will happen when municipal and state employee pensions drive the governments paying them into default. I don’t see any way of breaking the legal requirement for an ed-school credential while the teachers’ unions have money to defend it; that’s their rice bowl, and the harm it does isn’t obvious as the student loan system’s harm is.

  23. holmes Says:

    I think my comment disappeared, but I intend to do my part when I retire by becoming a high school teacher, teaching economics, government and history. So, 30 years from now, look me up :)

    And all is not lost. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g2Afer_WAs

    Right now, most states are controlled by conservatives. Why continue to fund Academic institutions in the state (like in Iowa) that actively discriminate? Take away funding unless they have a statement requiring ideological diversity and applying the same hiring/promotion rationale as affirmative action. Throw their own rules back at them. Someone wrote that once.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    holmes: your post is still there.

    Did you see my new post?

  25. holmes Says:

    It’s easy enough to get a teaching certificate- just keep your mouth shut while you’re in school :) My dad did it and taught for awhile. When the school had to lay off some people, he and two other conservatives were the first choices of course.

    and I see my first comment is back. Must have been an issue with my browser.

    The days of conservatives retreating to their lives and just pulling the voting lever are over. Am I optimistic that we can do anything? Absolutely not :) But I intend to be on the right side of the fight.

  26. holmes Says:

    We all end up like FredHjr, by the way. How are you going to spend the rest of your life?

  27. holmes Says:

    And more, while I’m feeling upbeat. As Michael Brazier pointed out in this thread or another, the Left has hitched their wagons to failing institutions! Public education has been crying out for reform for decades- conservatives should lead the charge here. How about the WI effort to curtail public sector Unions? A huge local win with national and far-reaching implications. The higher ed bubble is about to burst- what alternatives are conservatives leading? We don’t need to fight yesterday’s war. We just need to be ahead of the next one. Let them have Harvard. I’ll take Phoenix Online and the army of clearly entrepreneurial people who go there . Let them have the failing public schools, in fact hang them around their necks. I’ll take the successful conservative online small-group based high school. Et cetera.

  28. waltj Says:

    SS was set up with the understanding that everyone contributes and receives benefits (including the middle class). That was the secret to getting the entitlements passed.

    True, as far as it goes, but incomplete. There was another big reason Social Security passed: the actuarial tables of the day. That’s why the retirement age was originally set at 65. It wasn’t just a random number pulled out of the air. At the time, most Americans died within a few years either side of 65. Families were also much larger then than they are now. Therefore, it was thought that the payout to retirees would never exceed the amount new funds coming into the system from taxes on younger workers. FDR and the other early proponents of Social Security failed to account for both the increase in longevity among the elderly and the reduction in family size, leading to far more beneficiaries receiving payouts for a much longer time under a structure that is being funded by fewer workers relative to the number of beneficiaries. It didn’t start out as a Ponzi scheme, but that’s what it’s become.

  29. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    Tell you what, you defeatist layabouts:

    FUCK YOU.

    We’ll do it WITHOUT your help while you sit there whining “it can’t be done”.

    I repeat: FUCK YOU.

    Is it going to be easy?

    NO.

    Is it going to be fun?

    NO.

    But you just sitting there on your dumb FAT ASSES complaining about how hard it will be isn’t going to do ANY GOOD EITHER WAY.

    So do those of us willing to MAKE THE EFFORT a Great Big Favor and open up a giant-ass can of Shut The Fuck Up, and Get the Fuck Out Of The Way.

    You’re no better than the whiny ass libtards who were complaining about what was going on in Iraq — you make it easier for the enemy, and harder for us, you worthless defeatist assholes.

    So just STFU.

    Yeah, YOU. If there’s any question if I’m talking to YOU, then YEAH, I’m talking to YOU.

    >:-/

  30. holmes Says:

    ^Insane but unhelpful.

  31. parker Says:

    IGotBupkis,

    Even the most pessimistic gloomers here are not the enemy. Fly, vinegar, honey. Personally, I’ll give up when I die.

  32. M J R Says:

    IGotBupkis, 9:04 pm –

    It is pointed out in one or two other comment threads dated today, that discouragement or pessimism is ^not^ the same as giving up. The discouraged/pessimistic among us will fight the good fight, for what other option is there?

    By the way, your kind suggestion to attempt the anatomically impossible does no credit to your point of view, nor does it enhance your position. Methinks a dose of temperance is in order; we’re kindred spirits here (the occasional troll notwithstanding).

  33. Gary Rosen Says:

    thomass: “Do you know about the education courses you have to take to teach? You can be an expert in an area but not allowed to teach it without them.”

    Wow, that is *exactly* what happened to my mother and this was in the 1950s! Before she married my father, my mom got a degree in biology and worked as a lab assistant. When I was very young my father got sick and she had to go back to work. She wanted to be a high school biology teacher but instead of taking biology courses to update her knowledge she was forced to take all the education courses. So she became a 5th grade teacher instead which she did for the next 30 years.

  34. Gary Rosen Says:

    “How can people not think?”

    You wouldn’t *believe* how easy it is!

  35. Gary Rosen Says:

    waltj: Excellent quick rundown of SS demographics and why the system is failing now. The other piece is that in the ’80s, Congress passed an increase in the SS tax for this exact reason. The sponsor of this was Sen. Moynihan, a rare lib who had a long-term outlook on spending. According to him the increase was supposed to be kept in reserve for the purpose of paying the Boomers when they reached retirement age. However Congress almost immediately began to use the extra revenue as general revenue and that is a large part of the problem we are now having. It may also be the source of thomass’ remark, “from what I remember the republicans played a part in screwing social security up” because as I recall neither party did much to resist raiding the “nest egg”.

    There was a time when the SS budget was accounted for separately from the rest of the federal budget. If we hadn’t stopped that we might not be in the predicament we are now but unfortunately it is too late to fix it by twirling an accounting wand. We are going to have to make some painful choices.

  36. Occam's Beard Says:

    That’s why the retirement age was originally set at 65. It wasn’t just a random number pulled out of the air.

    Just to clarify, retirement age was originally set to 65 by … Bismarck! He implemented various socialist schemes to co-opt the socialists, retirement pensions being one example. In the 19th century few people made it to 65, which of course was whole idea. Roosevelt and Co. merely adopted Bismarck’s choice.

  37. Occam's Beard Says:

    “Do you know about the education courses you have to take to teach? You can be an expert in an area but not allowed to teach it without them.”

    As a young assistant professor, my instruction on teaching amounted to … being given directions to the lecture theater. Period.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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