CULTURE OF TERROR, I
May 2, 2009
[The following lines are from the preface of book, Culture of Terror: the Collapse of America forthcoming in June].
Writing in 1927, Julien Benda termed his era “the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds” marked by preaching “the cult of the strong State.” By intellectuals (he used the French word, clercs) Benda meant journalists and other media, artists, academics and independent scholars and critics who together were responsible for what he termed, “the great betrayal...the divinizing of politics,” a development that grew from Enlightenment plans of ‘perfectibility,’ grew during the increasingly tumultuous 19th -20th centuries, dominated the latter and now defines the 21st century in the West, the era of political correctness and secular inquisition. Benda noted, “they preach that the State should be strong and [though they do not now say so explicitly] “contemptuous of justice.” That is a precise description of the ‘group justice’ and ‘equity’ doled out to those whom the State wishes to empower, planting seeds of bitterness, resentment and despair in everyone else; and, not incidentally, advancing an agenda of “group think” and “group consciousness” that displaces individual integrity, responsibility and understanding of free will. This great betrayal has taken our “progressive” culture, with “the giant” of applied science lurking over everyone’s sense of the possible and turned it to fatalism.
These betrayals have led to “multiculturalism” and the balkanization both of nations, and families, the better to centralize power and to scramble all states into a World “Commonwealth” where power, control and resources are monopolized by an oligarchy; those closer to the labyrinth’s center having greater amounts of all material and social perks and greater immunity from “law.” The dogma of “relativism,” gussied up as “situational ethics” means in effect that the law is the will of those with most power and that reason is an instrument of will and thus of appetites; that the rationales of this new State are thus insane, acts of wanton atrocity, to quote Melville in the epigraph. This deification of the will is a radical subversion of the principles of law, justice and righteousness, as well as charity rooted in Scripture; its supreme arrogance also is a form of mass murder by suicide, a pattern of “social relations” that defines many aspects of the Modern and post Modern world. As a result, Western civilization has regressed to the authoritarianism that distinguishes other parts of the world, and western elites, “sordid buccaneers” to borrow a phrase from Conrad, have gutted its house as if to showcase their Gothic sensibility and piquant taste for ruins. The contrived collapse of the West is indeed “the bankruptcy of Hellenism” in a sense more profound than Benda suggested for the West’s pagan essence has been sloughing off its Scriptural dress as it grew; this is the story of its growth, -- and its decline into a system of world feudalism and spectacles managed ever more precisely to bedazzle the audience and make them forget what is being lost.
We live in a twilight time ruled by baronial oligarchs whose arguments are settled in ways that extend their own power by culling the herds they respectively manage in the name of security. Like a wolf pack their method is terror and only the most deeply rooted of human beings will survive this night to the next era’s dawn. As “the superb blond beast searches for prey and carnage” it consumes itself, regressing to animalism, to “a cult of success and contempt for misfortune” that is pitiless, sterile, and in love with death.
I write this book, Culture of Terror: the Collapse of America prompted by shattering changes forced into the fabric of our lives since the 1960s even as study shows that that watershed decade was only the precipitate of utilitarian-utopian ideologies dating from the Renaissance and accelerated mightily by the Enlightenment and its Romantic sequel. These in turn are rooted in mystical and cultic principles and dreams of great antiquity. While the specific planning and social engineering dates to the mid-nineteenth century when Romanticism was developing through its grim later stage (the ‘Victorian’ age) into Modernism via Utilitarians, Hegelians, Marxists, Positivists, the Round Table group and its world commonwealth successors, the imperial principles and drive for power and expression are rooted in the West, and not simply in the Enlightenment with its drive to ‘perfect’ society and human beings through reason and nature. Like the Renaissance, the Enlightenment was a phase of Greco-Roman resurgence and its mania for self-construction and rule will lead us to consider why “the West” probably should be placed within quotation marks. But it has been the agonies inflicted by public lies and institutional injustice spread throughout culture that sparks the discussion in these essays.
In writing and assembling this work I am haunted by the sense that we already inhabit an era in which ever fewer numbers of people read works requiring thought and encouraging reflection. Many indicators suggest that spoken and written language already has endured a process of reduction such as Orwell described and that, as a result, inhibits thought and compassion. The slogans and clichés that mask hollowness of heart and lusts for power not only conduce to a reign of lawless law, “a new science of degradation” but to an age in which lies become truth and fewer, always fewer people have the depth of knowledge to notice or the depth of heart to care. In the vacuum created in hearts and minds, fear enters, “panic and terror,” offspring of Venus (Aphrodite) and Mars (Aries) and the world is swept by a series of expertly generated panics that lower hopes and increase alienation from the soul and from each other’s souls. “Cruel are the times” when lying becomes a universal principle and we fear to speak truth, partly because the truth may immobilize, it is so terrible.
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“Wisdom comes only through suffering” the Greek tragedians asserted perhaps over-stating a good case. But it is true that those who funded and crafted our major institutions in law, academics, finance, commerce and diplomacy have a cruel contempt for those upon whom they experiment on the way to building their “collectivist world order” which will be depopulated and impoverished the better to bring in “a new world money, a specially contrived money” to be put into place “as the World Order establishes itself.”[ii] As I write, in spring 2009 these words seem masterfully predictive, but only because Wells was one of a large number of influential people looking for a world that would be “scientifically and rationally managed” that is, controlled, for the sake of peace, naturally. And to have their peace they promoted gender war, abortion, corruption of identity, attack on the idea of identity itself, and attacked sovereignty or “uncoordinated enterprise that is the world’s disease,” the “demonic element” in the world;[iii] they worship nature, a nature “unspoiled” by human beings and the development that enables human beings to live, flourish, enjoy growing families and share a stake in the world’s growing riches, something the anarchic masters, their fellow travelers and useful idiots will not allow. Preaching love, promoting their gospel of perfect universal love, they are masters of hate.
Julien Benda, La Trahison des Clercs (1928 William Morrow;
1969 W.W. Norton, R. Aldington translation), 96-145, passim
2. David Bromwich, Politics by Other Means: Higher Education & Group Thinking (Yale Press 1992) on the “authoritarianism” in this process, “a national mood in which we are not trusted to accomplish anything” while the government and administrators ‘suggest’ or mandate how we are to think and act. On the “giant” in the room that gives our feeling of “what is desirable” and possible, see Crane Brinton, a History of Western Morals (1959; Paragon reprint 1990), 278-82 passim. Brinton does not pursue the autocratic depth of “Western hubris” and its link to utopian tyranny as this text seeks to do.
3. ibid. 145; see J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Penguin 1982) below on “the new science of degradation…”
4. Shakespeare, Macbeth 4.2.18-22, Ross trying to warn to Lady Macduff but fearful of that fear may draw wrath upon her less because it is groundless than because it is justified.
[i] Orwell, 1984 chapters 3-5, passim; “all history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed as often as necessary” to suit the control of the State. Life is “a series of victories over your own memory; ‘reality control,’ they called it; Newspeak, doublethink.” “Every year fewer and fewer words and the range of consciousness [and empathy] always a little smaller” till “the past was erased, the erasure was forgotten and the lie becomes truth” (chapter seven).
[ii] H. G. Wells, the New World Order (1940; reprint 2007), 71-2, 132-9; “this great Union is to have a union money… a strategic money, a new world money, a specially contrived money…”
[iii] Kerr (Lord Lothian) in “The Demonic Influence of National Sovereignty” in the Universal Church and the World of Nations. His view was echoed by William Paton as “the central problem of unchecked national sovereignty.” Paton was an ecumenical follower of Curtis and Kerr put it in World Community (London 1938); John Foster Dulles shared actively in promoting “a unified world society living in peace and justice” as did many others like Clarence Streit whose book, Union Now: Federal Union of the Democracies of the North Atlantic (NY Harper, 1939) was criticized by Wells, supra, chapter 7, as being inadequate in its goals. See Martin Erdmann, Building the Kingdom of God on Earth (2005), 76-83
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