On America’s impending revolution

On America’s impending revolution

 

[“The original”; hat-tip to The Wanderer’s Chris Manion, who provides analysis in the comment below – AQ Tom]  
 

When something “revolves”, it comes back to the same place from which it started. A “six-shooter” is a gun. Its cartridge chamber revolves back to where it started. Aristotle’s six-fold classification of political regimes from monarchy to aristocracy to polity to democracy to oligarchy to tyranny is in effect a theory of revolution, of regime changes from good to bad and back again.

Most modern revolutions also have not a little secularized apocalypse in them. They claim to identify evil and its causes. Their “revolution” is to restore or reestablish the perfect life which is being prevented by what the revolutionaries designate as evil. While Aristotle anticipated that regimes would change, the modern political revolutionaries look for a final solution of mankind’s problems, if only their ideology is implemented by destroying its perceived enemies.

We were conceived a nation founded in liberty and justice. We have escaped the tragic, bloody cyclic sequence of societies that have torn themselves asunder in civil wars. Our own civil war, we had assumed, resolved this issue of revolution for good. Today, however, Hanson is not so sure. With the tearing down of everything Southern, the systematic destruction of its monuments, we have turned honorable men like Lee into fascists.

Many no longer accept Lincoln’s efforts to reconcile ourselves in honor and forgiveness. Hannah Arendt once remarked that the only way to stop the thirst for vengeance is through forgiveness. The alternative to civic forgiveness seems to be perpetual victimhood and wrath.

Most people are aware of a coarsening of public discourse and manners. Scatological and sickening sexist taunts are heard most everywhere. On college campuses unwelcome speakers are shouted down. Debate in the witty style of the old Oxford Union seems obsolete.

The last election did not end in a spirit of “the better man won, let us work together for a greater good.” It ended in a bitterness and, among many, a persistent effort to end, as soon as possible, the new presidency even by calling for his assassination, as Hanson notes. These are admittedly “extremists” but they are no longer uncommon and are being heard on every side.

In much of public life, the president is pictured in the worst way possible. He is, surprisingly to many, a clever man and well aware of the stakes. His favorite slogan — “Make America Great Again” — is based on a clear insight that our greatness has been sacrificed and thrown away by the government, the media, and the universities.

These institutions have been almost non-stop efforts to picture something wrong in whatever the president does. Hanson lists them step by step. Many people watch in dismay and vote for the president. This reaction is taken as a sign that most of the country is as “deplorable” as Hillary Clinton indicated during the campaign.

Hanson’s thesis then is that it cannot go on like this. The danger will arise from a left desperate to stop any gradual success of the current presidency. Though he has not been perfect, the many good things that the president has done draw little attention. The more he succeeds, the more likely the revolution.

During the Obama years, America was said to be the cause of the problems of the world. American had to become small again.  In the meantime, America remained a place to which people in crisis situations fled. However small we saw ourselves to be, anyone who could get into the country did so. Historically, America is filled with immigrants who arrived here because of some revolution in their native lands.

The more people who entered the country, the more the country changed. The older immigrants intended to assimilate; the newer ones intend to keep their own culture and reproduce it in America. National politics now becomes a question “identity.” Our political activities revolve around establishing our identity as grounds for receiving rights and benefits. If the goal can be accomplished by voting, fine. If more forceful means are required, this is fine also.

Thomas Jefferson said that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Whether this famous passage is meant as a piece of advice, a mere historical fact, or both, can be let stand. The fact is that there is this unsettling sense of blood in the air. This is what Hanson records and calls our attention to.

Every effort is made to identify the president with right wing extremists. But the problem seems closer to the statist aggrandizement that comes when state government becomes the definer and enforcer of morality and not the servant of what normal citizens believe.

I recently saw a TV clip on China. The Chinese government has sophisticated surveillance tools that keep records of and watch on everything an individual citizen does. Nothing is left uncontrolled or unknown. Freedom means not doing anything to question or challenge this system. It is a world in which, literally, the government conceives its duty to provide for what the citizens need. This is its justification for existence.

What concerns Hansen most about possible revolution in this country is a system that allows citizens to do whatever they want, except what the government does not want them to want. Why this president must be eliminated is the fear that his regime may succeed in making America America again. ‘Tis a thesis that bears much reflection. All revolutions are preceded by ideas telling us what would probably come about. It often does. This is Hanson’s thesis.

The Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., author of “A Line Through the Human Heart: On Sinning & Being Forgiven,” is professor emeritus at Georgetown University. His latest book is “The Universe We Think In,” published by The Catholic University of America Press.

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One comment on “On America’s impending revolution

  1. [The analysis]
    /
    America’s Impending Revolution
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    May 6, 2018
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    By CHRISTOPHER MANION
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    Fr. Jim Schall, SJ, doesn’t excite easily. His writing and teaching abound in thoughtful insights that make being brilliant look easy. So, when he recently published his musings “On America’s impending revolution,” it brought on what Joe Sobran once called “the qualm before the storm.” Fr. Schall wasn’t kidding.
    /
    In the endless outrage, violence, filth, and murderous epithets that typify the left’s opposition to Donald Trump, Fr. Schall sees the destruction of what Aristotle describes as our civic virtues — friendship, comity, and goodwill — without which a community cannot live in peace.
    /
    Since Karl Marx, the left’s ideology has emphasized class struggle as the path to ultimate victory, to be achieved by violence whenever necessary. Trump’s presidency does not constitute a mere pause in the revolution, but the threat of an actual defeat. He must therefore be stopped — even killed. In the left, Fr. Schall observes “a bitterness and, among many, a persistent effort to end, as soon as possible, the new presidency even by calling for his assassination.”
    /
    In this progression of escalating outrage, the president defies the left and seems to be accomplishing more, not less, with each passing day. Fr. Schall channels Victor Hanson, a classicist scholar of revolutions, to calmly conclude that “it cannot go on like this. The danger will arise from a left desperate to stop any gradual success of the current presidency. . . . The more he succeeds, the more likely the revolution.”
    /
    Fr. Schall is one of the most able political theorists of our times. When he’s worried, we should all be worried. And, as if you needed it, let me add that the optimists who insist “the pendulum always swings back” must confront the reality that, eventually, it doesn’t.
    /
    And this time it won’t, because it can’t.
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    Many elite institutions that have been the engine of the American Left have not only run out of gas, they have self-destructed. What were once the major media have been reduced to a vulgar pack of barbarians, each trying to outdo the other in a mutual primal scream. Witness the recent White House Correspondents Dinner, so laced with hatred and scatological tirades that the event might never be held again. What was once journalism has become a back-alley brawl of perpetual delinquents and hacks seething with resentment.
    /
    The longtime dean of a major journalism school tells me he has only contempt for everyone who voted for Trump — and a generation of reporters undoubtedly digested his view as the party line required to succeed.
    /
    “Professional reporting” is dead, and Hollywood is no better. For half a century, it has pushed the envelope not only to embrace the sexual revolution but to put it in a pedestal, worshipping violence and sexual deviance and self-indulgence.
    /
    As its image collapses, stars turn on each other in rage. Women scream at men who apparently took feminists at their word, only to find that not all of them were secretly longing to be violently assaulted. Bill Cosby, “America’s Dad,” is now going to prison for rape, while Harvey Weinstein’s boorish obscenities have brought down his movie empire, and much of Tinseltown with it.
    /
    One needs only mention higher education and the bipartisan government establishment to recognize the specter of rot and corruption. Sen. John McCain, in a book blurb translated into plain English, publicly announces that, now that he’s dying, he can finally tell the truth.
    /
    How nice.
    /
    One after another, America’s time-honored institutions have hollowed out. The radical left can no longer appeal to those secular symbols of stability to justify its rule. Nor can the left turn to damage control as an option: Its traditional avenues to power and influence are beyond repair. Their credibility has been shredded in public view.
    /
    The ruins offer them no solace.
    /
    They can no longer rule by feigned persuasion. All that is left is force, and time is running out. The “collusion with Russia” story is dead, and the Deep State operators desperately trying to lynch the president are themselves being referred for criminal trial.
    /
    As Danton cried as the French Revolution exploded, “Toujours de l’audace!” Always audacity!
    /
    Last summer the audacious left-wing Bernie Sanders volunteer James Hodgkinson came close to massacring dozens of Republican senators and representatives practicing baseball. The fortunate presence of one police detail stopped him.
    /
    The “professional” media scarcely took public notice. They are much more interested in a stripper supposedly connected to Trump years ago. An Internet search reveals that The New York Times has mentioned her ten times as often as it has the wannabe Democrat mass murderer Hodgkinson.
    /
    When will this “impending revolution” break out into the open? Well, Vladimir Lenin’s newspaper was called Iskra, “The Spark.” Today’s left foments revolution, but the event that will spark it cannot be predicted. Who knew on July 14, 1789, that the release from the Bastille of the Marquis de Sade, a lewd, insane sex pervert, would lead to the French Revolution, the terror, and the Vendée? Who knew on July 26, 1953, that Fidel Castro’s failed raid on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba would lead to his takeover six years later?
    /
    Last week, radical leftists all over the world sent hundreds of thousands of violent demonstrators into the streets to destroy property, set fires, and attack police to celebrate May Day.
    /
    It can happen here.
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    While we can’t foresee the spark, we can try to prevent it. This past week, at the Republican team’s first baseball practice, a veritable army of law enforcement at every level surrounded the field. They know that violence is brewing. They can’t be everywhere. Nonetheless, they know.
    /
    And someone else knew too. Before his retirement in 2014, Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George, OMI, speculated, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Many wondered, how can this be?
    /
    We can’t predict the spark, but we can examine the motive. Consider: Our old Catholic friend and scholar Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote that “the atrocities of the French Republicans were committed under the slogan of Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.”
    /
    Rousseau provided the slogans, but de Sade provided the motive. The Paris mob, was quickly caught up in the murderous violence, not because of abstractions but spurred by blood lust soaked with sexual savagery so vile that it escapes mention in most textbooks, even though it lay at the core of the genocide of hundreds of thousands throughout France, especially the Vendée and Bretagne.
    /
    Why must they be annihilated? Because they were Catholic. They represented the wholesale rejection and condemnation of the revolution. Which brings us back to Cardinal George and the driving force of the cultural decay of the last fifty years: the sexual revolution and the pill. Today, abdicating to the Culture of Death, the federal courts recognize only one “right” that has no limits at all: Sex.
    /
    Notice that Cardinal George predicts that his successor’s successor will be martyred not in the dank basement of a prison but in a “public square,” teeming with a mob cheering the execution of someone so vile as to call their unbounded sexual lusts “sinful.”
    /
    Off with his head!
    /
    In The Exorcist, an enraged Satan spews vulgarities at the priest, screaming that his mother offers sexual favors in Hell. Incredibly, the “comic” at the Correspondents Dinner used stunningly similar language in attacking Trump supporters.
    /
    Like Satan, she knows when she’s licked.
    /
    We know what we’re up against. Today ninety percent of the population under forty has been told not to think, but to “feel good about themselves.” And most often that means simply to “feel good,” period. That is all the formal “education” they have. From the snowflakes on campus to the high-and-mighty media screaming profanities and celebrating hate, feelings rule.
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    As Hannah Arendt put it long ago, “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.”
    /
    The mobs cheering the execution of Chicago’s future archbishop will be motivated by the same base lusts that have motivated every leftist revolution: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, superbia vitae (1 John 2:16). Of course, the mob will eventually begin killing its own. When there are no limits, there are no “safe zones” for the snowflakes.
    /
    As Dostoevsky puts it, “If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”

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