June 29th, 2013

History and immunity

America has been so fortunate, and in many ways so outside of history’s darker corridors, that we have forgotten what we should have known, and neglected to teach it to our children. It’s like a population (think Native Americans before the coming of Europeans) that’s not been exposed to certain illnesses and is therefore less able to defend against them.

Too many of us—and especially our younger people—don’t know what to look for and guard against. We’re not sensitive enough to the signs, and our children are especially naive. We have not learned history not just because we don’t teach much of it, but because in recent years we haven’t thought we needed to, and we haven’t lived it in the way that eastern Europeans have, for example.

That “we” isn’t all of us. But it’s quite a large chunk. Meanwhile, the left has taken over a great deal of the teaching of history in this country, and most people who might have objected were either unaware it was happening, ignorant of the importance of the effects, or somehow powerless (or felt powerless) to stop it. So now we have a population that cannot recognize demagoguery when they see it, doesn’t understand how tyranny can take over in subtle steps that aren’t always recognizable, and is unaware of what the Founders had to say on the matter and why they built certain structures into the system to prevent it.

It’s not just the left’s doing; the left merely takes advantage of certain truths about human nature that ensure that people will always be susceptible to its siren song. That’s why education about the past is so important.

I’ve mentioned before (and sometimes I might write a longer post on this) that the thing that gave me pause, and kept me from being a leftist back in the late 60s when I entered college and leftism was so rampant, was a course I took with the seemingly innocuous title of “Russian Intellectual History.” I signed up for it because I liked Russian novels and Russian lit. And yes, we did read a number of novels in the course, as well as other Russian writers mostly of the 19th century (Herzen and Bakunin, for example). That course unexpectedly turned out to be what was probably the most formative one of my life.

It was there I learned—without anyone ever telling me directly—that in the 60s we were reliving those long-past Russian years in an altered, Americanized form. No, my generation was not unique; that was clear. No, we were not inventing something that had never been tried, going down some wonderful path that had never been trod. We were going somewhere that in the past had led to nothing good.

I could see it for myself; all I had to do was read, and think. If we don’t learn history we are indeed condemned to repeat it. And even if we do learn it, we may be condemned to repeat it anyway.

Here’s what David Horowitz (leftist turned conservative) had to say on the matter in his book A Point in Time. He uses the example of Dostoevsky, one of the great Russian authors who was a leftist in his youth and underwent a political change experience:

Despite Dostoevsky’s efforts to warn others, despite the fact that he [became] a national figure regarded as a prophet, the nihilistic idea that had captured his youth and nearly destroyed him became an inspiration for the next generation to lay waste his country and make it a desert:

Even in 1846 Belinsky had initiated me [Dostoevsky] into the whole truth of this coming “reborn world” and into the whole sanctity of the future communist society. All these convictions of the immorality of the very foundations (Christian ones) of contemporary society and of the immorality of religion and the family; of the immorality of the right to private property; of the elimination of nationalities in the name of universal brotherhood of people and of contempt for one’s fatherland as something that only showed universal development and so forth—all these things were influences we were unable to resist and which, in fact, captured our hearts and minds in the name of something very noble.”

Nihilism in the name of something noble. And so it continues to this day, more than a hundred and fifty years later.

68 Responses to “History and immunity”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    In a strange coincidence, although perhaps not so strange, I just posted this at my site:

    “A Decline in Courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. … Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?” — Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address

    In the context of this post the whole address at the link is worth absorbing.

  2. n.n Says:

    Marx was dissembling when he claimed to identify the “opiate of the masses”. While religion can be corrupting and dehumanizing, it cannot be judged apart from its principles. It is, in fact, left-wing ideology, brilliantly described by Marxism, where an elite minority proposes dissociation of risk to appease and satiate the general population. It is through this dissociation that they sponsor corruption. It is promises to fulfill dreams of material, physical, and ego instant (or immediate) gratification which motivates its progress. Left-wing ideology was conceived in principle and practice to service an elite minority.

  3. kit Says:

    We ARE lost on a road that leads to “nothing good.”
    I used to think it could never happen here. Not so long ago, a coward and a liar who belonged to a church that damned America would never have been elected president. He would have been a non issue. Yes, we used to be immune but now we are infected.
    Keep a candle burning in the window for America and lots of Lysol.

  4. Ray Says:

    Leftism is the fallback position for the failure of the tower of babel. When they found out they couldn’t build a tower to heaven, they decided they would create heaven on earth. So far the leftists haven’t succeeded but that’s only because the right people weren’t in charge. Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were obviously not the right people to create utopia. There is a PBS movie on the subject.

  5. Ann Says:

    Academia has perhaps been most heavily influenced by deconstructionists since the days of Derrida and Foucault. And deconstruction doesn’t necessarily have to be of a leftist bent, does it? Or does it? I really don’t know.
    Anyway, it does dovetail nicely with the left. Its idea that there is no authentic authority and that we can take a text and make of it anything we want to — forget what the author may have meant, it’s only the reader’s perception that counts — has done much to shape the way modern culture works.

  6. Ken Says:

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I don’t know much about Russian intellectual history, but I liken our situation to Germany circa 1933. Most people have no idea what’s coming. US history as it’s taught now is all Zinnified and designed to instill contempt for the American idea. What follows from this ignorance of history is the trivialization of the purpose of the constitution. The founders knew their history. They knew that the only way they could contintue to live in relative freedom was to restrict the power of government – thus the constitution. Today, no one is being taught that freedom equals responsbility equals freedom. It would be nice if basic economics were taught, too.

  7. T Says:


    “That [Russian Lit] course unexpectedly turned out to be what was probably the most formative one of my life.” That, in nutshell, is the deep and abiding awe of studying the humanities; a widening of awareness. Look for something and find something else.

    “. . . the 60s we were reliving those long-past Russian years . . . . . No, my generation was not unique . . . .” Likewise the late medieval builders of Troyes Cathedral spent good money to purchase brambles. Brambles? To use as barbed wire to keep the children from climbing on the incomplete construction. The more we learn, the more we realize nihil sub sole novum(nothing new under the sun) when it comes to human behavior.

    This, of course, gives lie to the leftist plaint that utopia can be legislated and engineered; “this time we’ll do it properly.” No we won’t; nihil . . . .


    A decline in courage? I submit that our ruling class are beta-males all. Betas have never been known for courage or leadership. The face-off between Putin and Obama? Alpha male KGB meets beta male community organizer. I know where my money’s going.

    Many have quoted Louis XIV in conjunction with the Obama administration (L’etat c’est moi.). This administration rather resembles more and more the escapist and infantilized court of Louis XVI and, speaking of nihil . . . we all know what comes next.

  8. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I think the one college experience that I had which served to educate me in history, and give me the sense of going into danger that Neo writes of – didn’t happen in a class. I was commuting to Cal State Northridge, and for a couple of semesters, I had a long break between classes. I took it into my head to go to the library and read the microfilm archives of a newspaper – every daily issue from 1935 to 1945. It turned out I had to settle for the Chicago Tribune, because it scrolled from top to bottom, rather than the LA Times, which scrolled from side to side and at speed made me motion-sick. So, I spent a couple of hours every day, reading the newspaper, and seeing how events unfolding looked to people as they happened, day by day … as the Depression bottomed out, and things began to recover, and then WWII began. It was … enlightening, knowing from classes and extensive reading what had gone on, and then to see it day to day – like looking at the Sistine Chapel ceiling through a peep-hole.

    Three or four years ago, I began to write historical fiction, as a way to teach people painlessly what they weren’t learning or were learning in a warped and Zinnified manner. We have to hang on to our history and our particularly American experience – the consequences of not doing so are unthinkable.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Sgt. Mom:

    That’s really quite an extraordinary thing to have done, especially at that age. What patience!

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    No idea what comes next. Hoping the Left surprises me.

  11. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Well, it was something to do to pass the time at first, and then I just got deeply interested. One of the rather creepy things that I noted, was that there was no real secret that the Jews in Occupied Europe were being treated very brutally – but whenever a story seemed to hint at something worse – the letters to the editor and the editorialists all said things like, “Oh, it just couldn’t be true, Germany is a civilized country, and we just won’t be taken in by propaganda scare stories like we were in the last war, it’s all a fabrication by the secret services. et cetera.” It happened over and over again during the war years. And then when the Americans, and British rolled into German and began liberating camps… and finding out that what had been going on was several times more horrible that the most dedicated war propagandist could have ever created in their wildest and most perverted dreams… well, it was a shock. Readers and editorialists were just rocked on their heels – and the evidence was right there; the bodies, the crematories, the camps, the survivors and the tidy stores of German archives documenting it all. I wonder if discovering the extermination camps wasn’t in one way a bigger shock than the atom bomb. It was very hard to believe in the innate goodness of man, after that.

    What made it a little creepy, was just about the time I was to the end of the project, stories were starting to come out about the Khmer Rouge, and the killing fields of Cambodia. And I swear, I saw the same “Oh, it’s just secret intelligence war propaganda, it couldn’t possibly be true!” in the letters to the editor and in the opinion columns. Based on my newspaper project, I assumed that yes, it was true about Khmer Rouge.

    All that, and I got to be a fan of the original Terry and the Pirates comic strip, too!

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    I wonder how many of those letters came from Nazi backed fascists or communist allies.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Sgt. Mom:

    That story is actually quite fascinating, too. What a thing to read about, ex post facto, and then be able to apply what you had read to what was happening at the time you were reading it!

    I wrote a post on the subject of people hearing about but not believing the holocaust as it was happening, here. It very much addresses the points you mention; you should read it if you haven’t already.

    Also, regarding WWI vs. WWII, I seem to remember reading that in WWI there was a lot of false propaganda about the Huns killing Belgian babies, and later the Brits found out it wasn’t true and resented having been manipulated. So they didn’t believe the truth about the Nazis in WWII.

    History is funny like that, isn’t it? And I don’t mean funny ha-ha.

    Maybe you should write a book on this theme.

  14. Ann Says:

    Back to what I said earlier about deconstruction. I think that, aside from the Howard Zinn–type texts, the main problem in education today is that the whole pedagogical approach is based on deconstruction. How in the world are students going to learn the truth of history when they’re told there are no true texts, that there’s only “truth” as each one of us sees it?

  15. momo Says:

    To be fair with the letters to the editor, during 1st WW the level of propaganda was beyond anything we can really believe now-a-days.

    Those Letter writers really had been lied to during the 1st WW and had every right to not “be fooled again”. The shame of it is, they got fooled twice. Once when they were lied to an believed; and again when they were told the truth and didn’t believe.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    The human race is very retarded in a sense. Which is often why racial education was originally promoted to prevent the next generation from falling into despair and committing suicide or using nihilism to kill the Race.

    Didn’t quite work out well in WWI or WWII however.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:


    This is the last will of one pilot concerning his government’s propaganda.

    The highlights.

    My life in the service has not been filled with sweet memories. It is a life of resignation and self denial, certainly not comfortable. As a raison d’etre for service life, I can see only that it gives me a chance to die for my country. If this seems bitter it probably is because I had experienced the sweetness of life before joining the service .
      The other day I received Lieutenant Otsubo’s philosophy on life and death which you so kindly sent. It seems to me that while he appears to have hit on some truth, he was concerned mostly with superficial thoughts on the service. It is of no avail to express it now, but in my 23 years of life I have worked out my own philosophy.
      It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I think of the deceits being played on innocent citizens by some of our wily politicians. But I am willing to take orders from the high command, and even from the politicians, because I believe in the polity of Japan.
      The Japanese way of life is indeed beautiful, and I am proud of it, as I am of Japanese history and mythology which reflect the purity of our ancestors and their belief in the past-whether or not those beliefs are true. That way of life is the product of all the best things which our ancestors have handed down to us. And the living embodiment of all wonderful things out of our past is the Imperial Family which, too, is the crystalization of the splendor and beauty of Japan and its people. It is an honor to be able to give my life in defense of these beautiful and lofty things.

    Basically, so long as a people hold to such rooted beliefs of love and fidelity to something, it is very hard to destroy or conquer them. Deception and propaganda in war cannot do so.

    What WWI did to Europe was destroy their beliefs that their nation, their culture, was ‘right’. Everything else came as a result of that.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    To my dear Father and Mother:

       I was so lucky ever since I was given my life life some twenty years ago that I was brought up ever deprived of anything. Under the love and affection of my loving parents, and younger sister, I was so fortunate to spend such happy days. I say this in face of the fact that at times I had a tendency to act in a spoiled and selfish manner. Throughout, of all of us siblings, I was the one who caused you, Father and Mother, the most worry. It pains my heart that my time will come before I can return, or try to return, any of these favors I received. But in Japan, where loyalty to the Emperor and filial piety are considered one and the same thing, and total royalty to the nation is a fulfillment of filial piety, I am confident of your forgiveness.
       As a member of the flying staff, I spent each and every day with death as the premise. Every letter and each word I wrote consituted my last will and testament. In the sky so high above, death is never a focus of fear. Will in fact die when I hit the target? No, I cannot believe that I am going to die, and, there was even a time when I felt a sudden urge somehow to dive into a target. The fact of the matter is that I am never afraid of death, and, to the contrary, I even welcome it. The reason fo this is my deep belief that, through death, I’ll be able to get together again with my beloved older brother, Tatsu. To be reunited with him in heaven is what I desire the most. I did not have any specific attitude toward life and death. My reasoning was that the cultivation of a specific attitude toward life and death would amount to an attempt to give a meaning and value to death, something that would have to stem from a person’s utter fear of an uncertain death. My belief is that death is a passage leading to reunion with my loved ones in heaven. I am not afraid to die. Death is nothing to be afraid of when you look at it as just a stage in the process of ascending to heaven.
      Succinctly speaking, I have always admired liberalism, mainly because I felt that this politecal philosophy was the only one to follow were Japan really to survive eternally. Perhaps this sort of thinking seems foolish’ but it is only because Japan is currently drowned in totalitariansim. Nevertheless, and this state of affairs notwithstanding, it will be clear to any human being who sees clearly and is willing to reflect on the very nature of his or her humanity that liberalism is the most logical ideology.
      It seems to me that a nation’s probable success in the prosecution of a war would, on the very basis of that nation’s ideology, be clearly evident even before the war was fought. It would in fact be so obvious that eventual victory would clearly be seen to belong to the nation that holds a natural ideology,i.e., an ideology which in its way is constitutive of human nature itself.
      My hope of making Japan like the British Empire of the past has been utterly defeated. At this point, therefore, I gladly give up my life for Japan’s liberty and independence.
      While the rise and fall of one’s nation is indeed a matter of immense importance for any human being, the same shift dwindles to relative insignificance when and if that same human being places it within the context of the universe as a whole. Exactly as the saying has it, “Pride goeth before a fall (or, those who savor victory will soon find themselves in the camp of the defeated), “and, even if America and Great Britain turn out to be victorious against us, they will eventually learn that the day of their own defeat is imminent. It pleases me to think that, even if they are not to be defeated in the near future, they may be turned to dust anyway through an explosion of the globe itself. Not only that, but the people who are getting the most fun out of life now are most certainly doomed to die in the end. The only difference is whether it comes sooner or later.

    One individual even came to these concepts at the very end, as he saw it, of his nation’s independence.

    I wonder how Americans feel when they read those words and contrast it with their own nation’s progress, fall, and rise.

    Americans have their patriots and loyalists as well. Know what is happening to them? Obama has sent them to Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to die a convenient death.

  19. sharpie Says:

    Neo states it well.

    If there has ever been a more reasoned and evidence value conclusion, then Neo is it.

  20. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I remember reading your post about the Koestler essay. The people who had first-hand knowlege of the Holocaust must have been spare with frustration over being disbelieved in 1944. It was too large a horror for the imagination. And Momo is quite right. Those of a generation to remember all the stories about German atrocities in Belgium in WWI (and to make it more ironical still, there had been German atrocities committed there, albeit not nearly as baroque in cruelty as the wartime propaganda had it) were exceedingly skeptical about stories of German atrocites in the second war. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on you.

    As for Ymarsakar’s patriots and loyalists – no, we haven’t all been sent to die a convenient deaths overseas. With the aid of a supine media, Tea Partiers are being slimed and ridiculed as racists, ignorant bumpkins and terrorists.

  21. rickl Says:

    If we don’t learn history we are indeed condemned to repeat it. And even if we do learn it, we may be condemned to repeat it anyway.

    Heh. My current signature at Market Ticker Forum is:

    Those of us who do remember history are condemned to repeat it anyway, because those who don’t are in the majority.

  22. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Over the last twenty years I have been traveling quite a bit. I always look at the different countries I’m visiting and try to understand why they are so economically different than what has developed in the U.S.

    Many times it is the fortunes of geography that determine how a country ends up developing its economy. Poor soil, bad weather, too few natural resources, limited land area, etc., can be the reasons why a nation’s economic growth is stunted. One example is Samoa. Though they are hardworking people and reasonably free, there are no energy resources on their islands. The amount of agricultural resources (coconut products, bananas, papayas, etc.) plus the fish they can catch for export are finite and mostly labor intensive. They are only able to buy as much energy (coal, diesel, gasoline) as they can by exporting any excess production of their agricultural and fisheries output. There is a natural upper limit to what they can do. Thus, their economy is always struggling to stay even.

    New Zealand is a similar situation, except they have more land area, a more diverse climate, and have intensively developed their agriculture over 200 years. They are trying to do some manufacturing, but that requires energy, (they do have some hydro-electric power) much of which has to be imported. Though more prosperous than Samoa, they also have an upper limit on their economic growth.

    Then we have diverse nations like the U.S., Russia, Argentina, and Zimbabwe. All are blessed with abundant natural resources, ample land area, good soils, reasonably good weather, etc.
    Yet there is a great difference between the economic success of the four countries. The differences are caused by what exactly? IMHO the differences are due to:
    1. The strength of private property laws backed by courts.
    2. The level of honesty or lack of corruption in the governments.
    3. The level of government regulation. Less regulation providing more economic freedom.
    4. The level of government commitment to equality of outcomes.

    We are moving in the wrong direction on all these issues. But the egalitarians (Communists, socialists, progressives, utopians, etc. – they come under a variety of names) can never, in spite of all the concrete examples for them to see, let go of their belief that it just hasn’t been done right yet. It is clear that wherever egalitarianism has been tried it has resulted primarily in the equality of misery. Why are so many blind to those facts? Is it because egalitarianism is a faith and the faithful are unable to believe anything else? Or is it because they just haven’t examined all the evidence?

  23. Sgt. Mom Says:

    The last lines in Ymarsakar’s post are a take on a poem which everyone knew, once. Thomas Babington Macauley’s Lays of Ancient Rome – Horatius at the Bridge.

    “Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate: “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late; And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods…”

    The rest is here –


    Schoolchildren used to know stuff like this by heart.

  24. rickl Says:

    Sgt. Mom Says:
    June 29th, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    So, I spent a couple of hours every day, reading the newspaper, and seeing how events unfolding looked to people as they happened, day by day

    That is fascinating.

    Did you know that Bob Dylan, in his book Biograph, described doing the exact same thing when he first arrived in New York City at age 21? Only in his case, it was Civil War newspapers.

  25. Eric Says:

    Ann: “And deconstruction doesn’t necessarily have to be of a leftist bent, does it?”

    We better hope not. If the prevailing historical narrative is now defined and controlled by the Left, then the Right will need to use deconstruction to reclaim the course of human affairs.

    The Right needs activists to compete with the activists of the Left.

  26. rickl Says:

    Oops. Correction: The Bob Dylan book I mentioned was entitled Chronicles: Volume One.

    Biograph was the title of one of his albums.

  27. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar: “Americans have their patriots and loyalists as well. Know what is happening to them? Obama has sent them to Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to die a convenient death.”

    Your view of their mission kills our soldiers and diplomats in another, more insidious way – by trivializing and slurring what they stand for, the America they represent to the world, and the purpose for which they have staked their lives.

    How does your trivialization of their mission make you *any* different from the Leftists, and indeed anti-American propagandists throughout our history, who have disparaged our soldiers’ revolutionary risks as dupes and cannon fodder?

  28. sharpie Says:

    Should be seen as the regular response. Are you different?

    Please explain.

  29. neo-neocon Says:


    Warning on some of your previous comments, for language.

    You are a valued commenter here, but nevertheless I do draw certain lines I would like respected.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    “Your view of their mission kills our soldiers and diplomats in another, more insidious way – by trivializing and slurring what they stand for, the America they represent to the world, and the purpose for which they have staked their lives.”

    Their loyalty is to the United States Constitution. And to their lawful chain of command, which would be Obama.

    Are you thinking Obama is loyal to the US Constitution or that Obama is using up American slaves to protect Americans?

    “who have disparaged our soldiers’ revolutionary risks as dupes and cannon fodder?”

    The Left used the term “dupes” and “cannon fodder” because their plan was to in fact make the US military into their dupes and cannon fodder. They aren’t as successful at it as they were with Jes and blacks, or even some minorities. They had more success with the Navy and Air Force than the Army. The Army more than the US Marines.

    If you question their success and influence in the US military… what evidence do you have that soldiers are making their own decisions as to what their mission should be? That would rather violate their chain of command would it not?

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    It is precisely because the Left thinks the US military is a bunch of slave soldiers, that they are using them as slaves. The logic fits would it not. The Left wasn’t talking about US myrmidons because they wanted to help or free American soldiers or foreigners, after all.

    The Left thinks of the US military as evil… because they were planning on using it for evil. This has nothing to do with what military members themselves want. The military doesn’t get a say in what the political civilians decide is right or wrong. That’s not their purpose. The National Guard couldn’t activate to save victims of Katrina, no matter what they or Bush wanted.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    “How does your trivialization of their mission”

    Perhaps you misunderstand something. I wasn’t talking about the Afghanistan mission, which was Bush’s mission really not Obama’s.

    I was talking about Obama’s mission and goal: kill more Americans, get rid of conservatives and patriots.

    His mission can be basically summed up the same as the words sent to Benghazi. Stand Down. (Let them die)

    American soldiers, can no more disobey that mission of his than they can desert their tours of duty in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

    It is not their duty to get rid of corrupt politicians. That mission was supposed to be the American voters’. If the American voters become slaves…. are American military members then free or are they slaves too? They are told to die, slowly and painfully, and they must obey or be branded as a traitor like Manning was.

  33. rickl Says:

    Ymarsakar & Eric:

    I have long been concerned about the state of the U.S. military.

    It has been populated with strong, intelligent, educated, motivated patriots.

    That sort of military is not useful to the Left.

    My concern is that the sort of people I mentioned above are being attrited, both from wasting their lives in wars our government has no intention of winning, and also from politically-correct policies intended to discourage them from enlisting in the first place.

    I expect to see recruitment and retention rates plummet. Then we will hear calls for reinstatement of the draft.

    Many of the draftees will not be people of the type I mentioned, but sullen, ignorant, unemployed thugs and gangbangers.

    A military like that is useful to the Left. That is the sort of military that can be turned loose on the American people.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    mcChrystal, Petraeus, the war time generals under bush are all gone. More are being gotten rid of as we speak. Replaced by… I have no idea, but it’ll be clear soon.

  35. Michael Says:

    Very poignant analogy! Thank you!
    I have often pondered the ease in which the leftist propaganda has been swallowed, and this gives a rather simple, clarifying answer…they have long corrupted our genuinely noble sentiments, so that, today, honor and integrity are becoming widely seen as weakness.
    The grave danger is that any “immunity” requires exposure to the virus, and saddened to say, the exposure –evidenced in the growth of the acceptance of the entitlement and pc mentality — seems to have overcome any potential for rejection.

  36. Sharon W Says:

    As one of my electives in college I took 20th century Russian history. It was by far the most interesting of any of my college classes. Honestly, if people just watched any of the excellent portrayals of Dr. Zhivago (or better yet, read the book) and understood it, they would be more aware of what are the ramifications of not defending the foundations of our governmental society. I just sent my son (well-read when it comes to history and presently serving overseas as an MSG) my copies of The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers. I keep in mind that history is the only subject God requires of his people.

  37. Beverly Says:

    I’ve read that the Vietnamese refugees in America vote 97% Republican.
    The same for the Russian refugees; the same for the Eastern bloc Soviet slave states.

    BTW, they worship Ronald Reagan. Worship him.

    A Polish friend and I were talking about this very issue last week, and she said sadly that she sees America going down the same path as Europe, losing our freedom, not understanding, thanks to our long Golden Era, that we’re on the point of losing it all.

    In fact she’s not at all sanguine that we can get our liberties back. “You don’t know what it’s like to live under Communism,” she said.

    “How did you manage, living in a totalitarian dictatorship?” I asked. She told me you keep your head down, hoping to avoid the notice of the State, and focus on your art or your work.

    Because there’s nothing you can do to fight the dictatorship.

  38. Shouting Thomas Says:

    Did the same thing in college. Earned a minor in Russian language and literature.

    I don’t find it odd that the same debate rages today that raged in pre-revolutionary Russian. The basic design of humans is the same today. The same desires for fairness and justice drive us.

    And, the devil tempts us in the same old way.

    To be expected. Every generation tries to deny that it inherited Original Sin. Every generation thinks that it arrived on this earth with a blank slate. So, the lessons of the past don’t matter.

  39. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Worthwhile Reading & Viewing Says:

    […] On the failure to learn from history […]

  40. M of Hollywood Says:

    Sgt. Mom: wow. Someone could write a book about you, doing that, and dig down into the history from the point of view of that young girl.

    Oh alas to see us here after all these years, now contemplating going down the drain of our values. But can it be? Is it not true that even now we can take hold of the liberty that cries out from us because that, right there, is the truth of human beings? I heard a conservative the other day–it might have been the great Thomas Sowell– saying that the big mistake is to ignore human nature. Oh good, I thought: I think that too. But, it turned out, by human nature he meant that some people are bad and will take advantage of others. I realized that by human nature I mean that all people want to be free. We are the green slips of nature that peep out even from the cracked concrete of ill advised control.

    Even the leftist notion that they could “do it right” this time, unlike the Soviets, has this kernel, that they want to do it right to release the love of freedom in (some) people’s hearts (maybe not the hearts of you and me, but some). See a little kid learning how to climb something or how to ride a bike and you see what being human is. Then, however, come the teen years and the natural rebellion against the parent in an attempt to forge one’s own, unique identity, and you get into dangerous waters–and at this time in our extravagant country the teen years creep well into the 20s 30s and even 40s. Yet, people age, have children of their own, and reconnect with that primal urge to achieve something, even if it is something as simple as to clean the kitchen, to pay the bills, to nurse a child–even, let’s say, to “work the system”. Moochers off the system probably get a sense of achievement even about that–although there would be a lingering fear that they could be found out. No one wants that. Everyone would rather climb with the strength of their own limbs, find balance and ride free.

    There is nothing so satisfying to the human soul than to be free: to take care of one’s inner and outer needs and nothing does that better than to find peace from one’s own honest labor, doing the best we can. We all know that because we each came from being a helpless child to … achievement.

    This state of affairs in which we find ourselves, for now, is the best we could do. Paying the karmic debt for the pain of slavery–both the pain of the slaves and the complementary guilt of the enslavers–had to be paid, and it is being paid. The founders thought they could ignore it for greater purposes, but there is no greater purpose than to acknowledge the freedom born in each heart. There are so many good people of all colors, shapes, sizes and dispositions–and so many who know the love of freedom, which is life.

    There is nothing we can do but link to each other, soul enriching soul, and keep the faith.

  41. Mac Says:

    I wish I’d had the insight you did, Neo. It would have saved some other people as well as me a lot of grief. You and I were in college about the same time, apparently, but even if I had read Dostoevsky at the time I don’t think it would have stopped me. I plunged whole-heartedly into the counter-culture and came to deeply regret it. But it wasn’t primarily a political thing for me, but rather a misguided religious quest. (I’m writing a memoir.) I eventually figured that out, but for a lot of people on the left the cause still functions as a religion, urecognized as such and therefore all the more powerful.

    Sgt. Mom, your exercise was fascinating and I’m sure extremely instructive. I’d try it right now if I had leisure.

  42. Ymarsakar Says:

    It would be rather pathetic if the Left defeats us and did it using common and historical processes. I expect them to unleash at least something new. More than the 10% we’ve seen them use at least. Something a little bit better, a little bit more innovative and evil.

    Because if America falls to the Left and the Left just re used the methods of copied evil… that would truly be a pathetic tragedy.

  43. Sharon W Says:

    As much as I believe in the importance of history, let’s face it; if man (in general) could learn from the mistakes of others, he would already be perfected. When I look at my own children, I see just how far instructions and warnings can take you. Obviously lots of things factor in, but the same school of hard knocks often manifest. I read a book on King Henry the VIII and I couldn’t believe how much the Obama administration has mirrored the actions of that time. Confiscation of private property (businesses and church), rewriting the proscription of religion in the public square, printing money, foreign wars, the King living beyond his means, cronyism. It was quite a depressing read.

  44. Ira Says:

    1. Another great Neo-Neocon column!
    2. Another great thread of comments.
    3. Sgt. Mom: Wow. Great newspaper project. And self-started, too!

    M of Hollywood Says:
    * * *But, it turned out, by human nature he [Sowell] meant that some people are bad and will take advantage of others. I realized that by human nature I mean that all people want to be free.

    While you are both technically right, Sowell is more correct, and I think your meaning is incomplete. That is, even if we assume that each person wants freedom for himself, many such persons want to subjugate (harshly by threat of murder or “softly” by regulation) other people.

    5. We’ve had two recent SCOTUS cases that show how bad things are going: The Roberts (its a tax its a penalty, she’s my daughter she’s my sister) opinion in the Obamacare case; and SCOTUS’s refusal to recognize that proponents of California’s Prop 8 had standing to defend its constitutionality when the state violated its duty to defend it.

  45. rickl Says:

    Ymarsakar Says:
    June 30th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Something a little bit better, a little bit more innovative and evil.

    Like a weaponized health care system?

    Three letters: IRS.

  46. expat Says:

    M of Hollywood,
    I think a lot of people today lack a framework to understand human nature. Multigenerational and extended family contacts seem more superficial because of family mobilty. Kids are more and more isolated into social and athletic activities that substitute for playing and learning to get along with whoever happened to live in your neighborhood. How many teens have ever been to a funeral and heard the stories from people who knew the deceased through many phases of life?

    I remember sitting with my grandad and asking him to tell me about when he was a little boy. We lived in the same house, so I had lots of time for these conversations. I also had plenty of time to observe my cousins as they grew up. I formed opinions about which aunts were successful mothers. It’s hard to have false notions of human nature when you have so many real-life observations.

  47. david foster Says:

    I remember reading the Koestler essay (“On Disbelieving Atrocities”) that Neo mentioned. Koestler of course also wrote “Darkness at Noon,” about the nightmare of Stalinist Russia…again, the reaction from many was to refuse to believe things could really be that bad.

  48. david foster Says:

    Koestler also wrote a very important book that almost nobody has read: The Age of Longing, which deals with the West’s loss of civilizational self-confidence and is even more important now than when it was published in 1950.

    The main character, Hydie, is a young American woman living in Paris. Formerly a devout Catholic, she has lost her faith. She is unable to feel attraction toward American or European men, but falls very hard for a committed Russian communist.

    My review: Sleeping with the Enemy


  49. Gary Says:

    Of course people should know more history (myself included), but I see this problem in a different light. Just a moderate application of common sense should tell you that the Left’s project is foolish, destructive, pernicious nonsense (OK, common sense plus a little historical knowledge). Unfortunately, something like 40% of the voting public lacks even a little common sense.

    So now we have a population that cannot recognize demagoguery when they see it…

    IMHO anyone with an ounce of common sense who was paying attention should have seen King Barack for the lying, narcissistic, power-hungry demagogue that he is–and should have seen it from a mile away.

  50. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, but…

    Nearly no one I know saw it. And these are highly intelligent people, not just educated but intelligent and insightful about many things. However, most of them are quite ignorant about history, interestingly enough.

  51. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Back before Obama was elected President, I posted the first of many posts here, about how we needed a “new template” to enable us to fathom Obama, what his agenda was, and what he was capable of, had to replace our time-honored expectations of love and deep understanding of America, patriotism, and good faith that we had always just expected in our Presidents, and had to be alert to and be able to believe in the possibility, in the reality of actions that were so at variance with our past history and experience, so outside of the usual behavior of past Presidents that they were, for many, simply “outside of the bounds of possibility, “ and “unthinkable, “ when done by a President who we give enormous power and latitude, routinely and naively expecting relatively ethical and Constitutional behavior.

    In these posts, I also noted that one of the major problems that we had in evaluating Obama –as a young and very fortunate nation—was that we did not have the five hundred, the thousand or two thousand years of history–full of turmoil, violence, villainy on a massive and recurring scale, death and starvation, economic collapse, sieges, invasions, coups, tyrannies, and dictatorships–that would have made the idea of a tyranny developing here to be all too well “within the realm of possibility,” and “thinkable,” equipped us with a whole new panoply of signals of impending tyranny to watch for, and given us a very sensitive set of antennae, attuned to the least bad vibration.

    I also noted how some of the refugees now in our country, who had fled from various Communist dictatorships and tyrannies, were saying that they—with their very sensitive antennae, attuned through very harsh experience to the manifestations and workings of such tyrannies and dictatorships–saw the early signs of such a tyranny developing here in the U.S.

    About that time, I also started to harp on the idea that the playbook of relatively peaceful, propaganda and communications based strategies for subverting, misdirecting, weakening, and taking over Western bourgeois societies developed by pre-WWII Italian Communist Party Member and Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci had, ever since WWII, been very successfully employed by the Left and its followers and “agents of influence,” by an army of people, thorough their decade after decade of patient work, in all spheres of life and society, in a “conspiracy of shared values,” against all the major building blocks of our societies—the family, the church, the school, culture, law, politics, civil institutions, our traditional values, ethical system, expectations, and behaviors—with the great success we see all around us on a daily basis.

    Finally, I note that the Founders believed that a Republic like ours could only succeed if its citizens were a religious, moral people, well-educated and informed, knowledgeable about and zealous in protecting their rights and freedoms, aware of and involved in self-government and the political issues of the day, independent, discerning, proud, hard-working, and industrious, all of which characteristics Gramsci’s plan was aimed at subverting, weakening, and destroying/replacing.

  52. Ymarsakar Says:

    Rickl, not quite.


    The Leftist alliance is allied with the criminal underground. I expect something more shocking. As shocking as that video is said to be for normal citizens. It doesn’t affect me much, as a comparison. All I can think of is that the big tough guy is too weak. He has to use multiple applications and hits on someone else and can’t even get the job done then. Pathetic. The emotions I feel are rather different from what a normal citizen might feel as well.

    The IRS or healthcare methods, didn’t really surprise me or shock me.

    I expect the Left to come up with something that is innovative in my eyes.

  53. Ira Says:

    Gary Says:
    June 30th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    * * *

    IMHO anyone with an ounce of common sense who was paying attention should have seen King Barack for the lying, narcissistic, power-hungry demagogue that he is–and should have seen it from a mile away.

    neo-neocon Says:
    June 30th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, but…

    Nearly no one I know saw it. And these are highly intelligent people, not just educated but intelligent and insightful about many things. However, most of them are quite ignorant about history, interestingly enough.

    A problem for our society is that there are many people who are educated and purportedly intelligent and insightful, including those given pertinent history lessons, who are actually cheered up by the demagoguery of Obama and lefties in political power. Why? Because those demagogues are demagoguing for new society that those people think they want. Our Constitution is, for such people, an obstacle to be overcome if not completely destroyed.

  54. Gary Says:


    Your last comment:

    Nearly no one I know saw it [that Obama would be a demagogue]. And these are highly intelligent people, not just educated but intelligent and insightful about many things. However, most of them are quite ignorant about history, interestingly enough.

    I’ll grant you that one cannot be a complete ignoramus about history. But identifying Obama as a “lying, narcissistic, power-hungry demagogue” just required some clear-eyed observation and common sense, NOT high intelligence–which IMHO has a strong inverse correlation with common sense.

    I know a lot of very intelligent people who have very little common sense. In case you haven’t seen it, the following article may be of interest:

    Clever Sillies – Why the high IQ lack common sense


  55. Ymarsakar Says:

    The more intelligent people are in the North East, the easier they are to con. It’s the dumb idiots that are hard to manipulate, cause they are so sincere and honest and believe in dumb ideas like that.

  56. SteveH Says:

    “”“Nearly no one I know saw it [that Obama would be a demagogue””

    Turns out common sense is rather easily circumvented by fashionable thought memes that employ ridicule toward anyone out of step with them. This is in a nutshell how democrats aligned with media have made so many seemingly intelligent people into virtual ignoramuses.

    Basically it’s people who lack the courage to risk being socially ostracized if they don’t say two plus two equals five.

  57. Gary Says:


    …many people who are educated and purportedly intelligent and insightful, including those given pertinent history lessons, who are actually cheered up by the demagoguery of Obama and lefties in political power.

    I agree. A lot of the intelligent and educated people who helped elect King Barack either didn’t care that he was a demagogue or else were happy to have a lefty demagogue as president.

    In which case it was not so much that they were tricked by Obama or lacked the common sense necessary to identify him as a lying, power-hungry demagogue. Though they did lack the requisite common sense to realize how catastrophic a stridently leftist president would be–which, to give Neo her due, does require some basic knowledge of history (eg what a rotten, stinking mess the USSR/eastern bloc’s “worker’s paradise” was).

  58. Gary Says:


    …democrats aligned with media have made so many seemingly intelligent people into virtual ignoramuses.

    I also agree. Mass pro-Obama propaganda by 98% of the MSM created (and continues to create) an environment in which the wimp’s common sense is overwhelmed by his sheep-like need to follow the herd.

  59. Ymarsakar Says:

    Democrats believe utopia requires some eggs to be broken. One guess who the “eggs” are.

  60. carl in atlanta Says:

    I hope everyone’s read Tom Wolfe’s 1987 essay, “The Great Relearning”?

    A Link to an image of that piece is here (use your zoom function to enlarge the text, as needed):


    If you haven’t read this classic example of writing by a great writer (and I believe it’s on topic here), you should do so. [IMHO]

  61. Don Carlos Says:

    SteveH’s “fashionable thought memes that employ ridicule toward anyone out of step with them” is exemplified by my town’s current pressure for Comprehensive Planning, which the protagonists term “Smart Growth.”

    The collectivists are very skilled in their use of language to seize the high ground. Opponents of Smart Growth would favor what? Yep, we’re Stupid..

  62. Eric Says:

    Many of you focus on why people vote for Obama but are failing to account that a large part – even an equal or greater part – of the Dems political advantage is that they have convinced enough people to vote against the demonized specter of Bush and the strawmanned GOP.

    A vote doesn’t have to be strictly for someone. It can be against something, too.

    Remember, the chief election strategy for Obama in 2008, which was the culmination of the propaganda campaign the Democrats had carefully nurtured throughout the Bush administration and ramped up after their 2004 loss to Bush, was to convince voters to vote *against* the vilified Bush and GOP, not (only) *for* Obama.

    Rehabilitate Bush’s legacy in an Obama v Bush frame and you will remove the lynchpin of the Democrats’ political advantage, castigate the Dems, and flip their positions.

    The people need to be convinced to be for the GOP as well as against the Dems. The Tea Party is the best hope. They should drop their elected office focus and focus on changing the social-political landscape by ranging aggressively beyond their comfort zone in-groups with an activist populist movement. That’s what will give them power to change the GOP and then government. Trying to elect Tea Partiers at step one is a lazy ineffective shortcut. The Tea Party needs to be activists first and politicians as a second-order effect.

    The Constitution is a social contract, not a religious document.

    To educate young Americans, I recommend they learn the Western canon of modern social theorists – Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Smith, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, Durkheim, etc. – as well as the Founding Fathers, in order to understand the formative influences on the founders and the social-political-philosophical theorists who have influenced our course since the founding.

    For reliable open-source subject materials, I suggest the course materials that top universities have placed on-line, including even lecture videos.

    You learn, for example, that Obama is a textbook example of charismatic authority in Max Weber’s typology. And that Marx 1.0 social theory on alienation is spot on, a must read for activists of all stripes, while Marx 2.0 caused generations of pain with his attempt to build a revolutionary application for his theory based on economic reductionism.

  63. Pincky Pinckney Says:

    Another insightful analysis and discussion!

    You remind me that some of the young idealists of the 60’s thought they were oppressed by a monolithic, hypocritical, stifling, greedy culture that enforced a cruel conformity.

    Somehow, they have created and become the masters of a monolithic, hypocritical, stifling, greedy culture and harshly enforce a cruel conformity. (And they’ve managed to profit handsomely as the “more equal” Champions of Compassion.)

    One of our greatest challenges, and greatest opportunities, is to find better ways to recruit one of the natural constituents of Liberty – the young and idealistic.

  64. M J R Says:

    Eric begins (10:30 pm) — “Many of you focus on why people vote for Obama but are failing to account that a large part – even an equal or greater part – of the Dems political advantage is that they have convinced enough people to vote against the demonized specter of Bush and the strawmanned GOP.”

    Dennis Prager devotes considerable energy to the problem of the left’s incessant and often vicious demonization of the right and right-leaning people. Here are a few recent articles:





  65. blert Says:


    Well written…

    Of note: ALL of the worst tyrannies zoned in on the youth — the tyrants were to transform the world to the advantage of the next generation:

    Nazis (Hitler)
    Soviets (Stalin)
    ChiComs (Mao)
    Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot)

    The college crowd needs to be informed that ANY political movement that travels down that road devolves into oppression.

    The other trait: tyrannies are NOT nations of the lawless; far from it. They suffer from laws in every direction. Tyranny is the State unchained.

    The current US Federal Government has devolved into a soft police state. So much so, that criminal gangs have been caught warping the statutes to establish their own police forces — badges and all.

    Drudge reported one locality that established its own police force — which then was perverted into a tax authority, de facto. It was clipping through traffic — in the classic speed trap way — and taking a 60% cut — farming out the dirty work to a private firm. (!)

    Regulations, statutes, laws, case law; they’ve reached cancerous over reach. Even then they can’t trigger enough employment for the legal drones hatched all over the land.

    Stepping back — and up — there is a general failure to recognize that much of today’s government is PURE parasitism. As in nature, the infestation does not help the host.


    While talking up the next generation, Black empowerment, etc. the Wan is causing massive job losses for his devotees.

    Obamacare — as an above the line wage tax — has caused the visible hiring wage to drop 30% ( inflation adjusted ) hereabouts.

    With time, it will entirely blow up the Federal budget. At that inevitable time, Barry will have utterly destroyed his backers. Without currency exports, hundreds of thousands of high dollar parasites will be cut off: Attorneys, professors, bankers and physicians will be at the head of the list.

    I call your attention to the British professors who lost their positions when Whitehall trimmed student finances.

  66. Sergey Says:

    This close analogy of Leftist ideological takeover of USA and the main ideological battle in 19 century Russia was the reason why I came to this site several years ago. The parallels are striking, and possible consequencies are terrible to contemplate. At least, Russia was on periphery of Western civilization, its history, however tragic, could not seriosly undermine world affairs. But USA are of central importance globally, if freedom will cease to exist here, everything will be lost for humankind for centuries, and for Russia too. How it came that Russia was the first European country poisoned by nihilism, long before Nazi takeover of Germany? I was thinking about it for decades, and my conclusion is exactly what Dostoevsky observed. The main factor was decline of Christianity in Russia. Peter the Great eviscerated Russian Ortodox Church, made it a part of state bureaucracy. Despotical regime of Czarist Russia made most of Russian people deeply mistrust and even hate the state, all its agents and institutions, and the Church, subservient to Czars, was seen as a state agent. In the resulting ideological vacuum nihilism advanced almost without any resistance. In Western Europe situation was different, both Catholics and Protestants denominations had much more moral authority and were able to resist nihilism much more effectively. In USA religion was even more free from state interference, so it could be more powerfull than in Europe. But secularization eventually came to USA too, and after it came nihilism.

  67. Al Reasin Says:

    We now have the challenge from the feds of the core curriculum attempt to dilute our education to the specific needs of industry. Part of this is NSA like data mining of information and branding of students’ and their of families. Teachers and parents have little leeway under this assault on local education. States are bribed with money and then the state and federal government mandates are placed on local school boards. If they don’t follow the mandates they lose funds, not the mandates.

  68. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    As I indicated above, virtually every aspect of our Western bourgeois society is and has been under several generations of continuous and sustained attack by the Left. Recently, there have been increasing signs that our military–the one organization in our society that comes out on top in all of the polls which ask people which organization within our society has the most trust and respect—is the focus of increasing attack now, too.

    To a very studious lack of notice and curiosity by their wholly bought MSM, it looks like the Obama administration has, one by one, quietly eased out of command, demoted, forced out, or dismissed for cause (one wonders whether such “causes” were manufactured or made much more serious than they actually were) those generals that it doesn’t like, that it apparently deems too independent and difficult to deal with, and perhaps too “warlike,” and these generals–true to tradition—have gone quietly. See, for instance, the still unexplained shuffle and demotion/promotion of key commanders during and after Benghazi. Meanwhile, Obama had appointed generals much more to his liking to top administration posts.

    Simultaneously, there has been a purge of any terminology or concepts that have to do with our current “main enemy,” Islam–and especially any that link Islam with terrorism–from the training manuals and courses used to train our military, intelligence, and foreign affairs establishments, all intended to make the conception, identification, discussion, and analysis of Muslim terrorism and terrorists and their ideology of Islam much more difficult, and the formulation of strategies against them even harder. Unless you toe this ideological line, my guess is that you will not advance.

    Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is the strange enthusiasm that many Democratic members of Congress—in latter decades no friends of the military– have suddenly conceived for returning to the draft. Inexplicable, it seemed to me, until I placed it in the context of Gramsci’s and the President’s plans for the “fundamental transformation” of the U.S.

    What better way to “fundamentally transform” a currently all volunteer and deeply conservative U.S. military than to purge certain recalcitrant generals, conduct an ideological purge as well, and then fill the ranks with conscriptees who are–the majority of them–the highly propagandized products of two or three generations now of Leftist dominated education, and whose basic knowledge set, attitudes, and orientations are far different from that of today’s volunteers. That would, indeed, be a “fundamental transformation.”

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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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