CULTURE OF TERROR, III
June 2, 2009
[The following essay is an excerpt from the introduction to my new book, Culture of Terror: the Collapse of America. It is available at Authorhouse.]
In an office at a College at which I once taught a sign hung on the wall: “in the future, whatever is not mandatory will be forbidden.” That the sign was hung by budding coercive utopians added irony to the posted fact that they would help nail down by imposing their intolerance, dogmas and privileges. Under them, humans are free to do as told and refrain from doing what is verboten in a secular replacement theology in which the State is the de facto god: in short, fascism, precisely what those who call themselves “liberals” have been creating.
Please find “liberal” and its cognates in a good dictionary and note the emphasis on generosity of spirit and habit; on books and study of tradition; on freedom. The liberals of our times mostly are derided as “right-wing fanatics,” etc. You know the catechism of the “therapeutic” totalitarians of pc platitudes and postmodern Newspeak…A ‘knowledge industry’ of useless and pernicious “information” binding people to screens and images without which, we are told, we cannot live and whose possession divides the in from the marginal, the ‘smart consumers’ from the dissenters against the ‘information’ age.
For “information” read indoctrination, programming and the atrophy of the ability to think…
In may venues, one can no longer speak about this process, not describe or even identify the enchantments (a postmodern Armida’s bower) that presents evil as good or force, brutality and betrayal as their opposites; that, for example pretends that the wholesale kidnapping imposed by Divorce Courts is “in the best interests of the child.” Machiavelli described such spin and one reason that appearances will trump reality and “lies become truth” as the West develops: image trumps because “generally men judge by the eye rather than by the hand” (deed). And even those who see the imposture and perversion of life, of word, of principle will keep silent or be silenced. “All men see what you seem to be; only a few will know what you are and those few will not dare to oppose the many that have the majesty of the State on their side.” Five centuries ago, Machiavelli, chastened by the experience of Florence and by the behavior of his neighbors in town and country, described and prescribed the political correctness, the coercive “therapeutic Statism” that increasingly typifies the dying West as official truths choke its life and attempts to recover its balance. What he did not grasp is that the West constituted itself by embodying and worshipping metaphors and thus proceeds increasingly into a forest of imagery where truth and falsehood become shadows that become ‘facts’ only when the glaring light of State and media approval illuminates them, as on a marquee for the masses. The marquee is the culturetainment machine that emits truths and dogmas to form the ‘public mind’ with the delusions of virtual reality.
In its ostensible wish to banish “inequality” (which is a drive to draw all power to itself), the therapeutic State, the machine of progressive utopians “commands assent” and thus “provides rationales for expansion of the welfare state.” As Molnar notes, the utopian pledge to ‘wipe the tear from every eye’ of the Nanny State is doomed to fail which makes its pledges every more emphatic, strained and imposed with more pitiless and unctuous intolerance of critical analysis; those always intoning the term “tolerance” are fiercely intolerant. They have made of that fine word a term of art meaning ‘agree with us, or else.’ Already in 1991 a historian wrote that “welfare liberalism is suffering from terminal fatigue” and asked, “is it really necessary to point out, at this late date that public policies based on a therapeutic model of the State have failed miserably over and over again?” It is necessary but increasingly is frowned upon. “The cult of the victim” arranged by demographic groups, and the displacement of insight and introspection by behavior modification via drugs and exercise are the methodological dogmas of our day. Focus on the self and performance anxiety join with newly crafted syndromes as the face of a psychological culture demanding ‘perfection’ and regressing to terror.
In the era of the mass media, and at an accelerating rate since its inception, leisure and politics have become “the organization of human impulses.” Since the campaigns of Dwight Eisenhower and definitively since that of John F Kennedy politics has become a form of entertainment with both of them serving to program and shape a public organized around consumption and increasingly impoverished language and thought. It is notable that the decade that saw the spectacle of “Camelot,” the manipulated depravity of the murders of the John and Robert Kennedy, the rapid elevation into cultic-media status of professional football (“Monday Night Football” now Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons) and the transformation of sports heroes into incipiently wealthy entertainers was the decade of the Vietnam War and “the British invasion” of rock ‘n roll, a regression to the mud complete with middle-brow orgiastic trappings like the ‘interactive’ drama, “Dionysus in ’69,’ like Woodstock and its many kin events of pseudo-community: first the carrot, then the stick. The society that makes “tolerance” an Orwellian dogma applying to some views and groups adopts a policy of “zero-tolerance” for behaviors not expedient to the new rules of its dominant class. The mud of Vietnam took aesthetic, moral, legal and social dimensions in America.
The lust for power of the ostensibly therapeutic State increasingly imposes a workplace model via the mantra of “self-improvement” onto all human activities as a means for the drive of its operators to regulate and control their living machines. Leisure becomes “the opportunity for the worker to be educated…for the tasks that are supposed to lie ahead of mankind.” Personal satisfaction or interests are given lip service and trivialized: breast and muscle enhancements, performance “enhancements” for cars, technology and people, ever more “efficient” use of time betrays the lust for power of those calling the tune and the feckless self-enslavement of those paying the piper (and not just with taxes) and dance, dance, dancing themselves into shape for a cameo on some “American Idol”: to adapt Warhol, fifteen minutes of fame for two-dimensional personae ficta, Britney Spears and her imitators, shadows of shadows... cultural gravity draws everyone toward this pit.
“The air was filled with rock music, with electric guitars and song lyrics, and the boy began to writhe in time to it…swiveling his hips with flirtatious adult movements.” Like Western civilization whose better aspects she embodies, Tamina in her grief wants to forget; grief and loneliness make her yearn for childhood, a decadent, re-lived childhood of adult fantasy: prurient and sadistic eroticism, purposeless games, cruelty and loneliness: “to identify with them she has to give up her privacy…her adult sensuality was vanishing” until “the body takes pleasure in the absence of the soul.” And so the dazzle of the illusion destroys the wounded adult. “Manipulation is domination” and the British invasions were brilliant imperial subversion to fulfill the Round Table’s dream of a restored, globe-spanning Commonwealth on the way to a world State, regression to the primitive, “to the primeval mud” was the goal effected from the Mekong Delta to the stages of Manhattan, to the fields of Woodstock, to culturetainment and its notable and growing presence of English-accented “personalities,” to campuses from Cambridge to Berkeley and everywhere in between where ‘critical theory’ mocks truth, insists that the personal is political and demands all history be rewritten to reflect today’s future-less dogmas. “The cinema and radio dazzle the public with spectacles of luxury and unrestricted living,” the lie that precedes infantilism and enslavement. Since the 1960s, every space has been filled by amplified music from radios, stereo and now television screens and handheld video games. This change has been synchronized with encouragement of all forms of experimentation, with drugs, with sex, with living arrangements organized around sexuality, “different strokes for different folks,” and not least, as wedge-opening coup de grace, “no-fault divorce” first made law under that great “conservative” Governor Ronald Reagan in California. Then, joy of the Malthusians, a “Constitutional right to abortion” discovered in the emanation of the penumbra of an un-specified right to privacy actually anchored by other specific statutes protecting person, children and property, protections now gone. The new privacy meant “a woman and her doctor” not a husband and wife; it was geared to terminating life. All relationships were professionalized with political harlotry, selling lies, the model. Wells would have been pleased. Writing of “population… passing a maximum, he approvingly cited The Twilight of Parenthood by Enid Charles, disciple of Malthus and Sanger.
So it was that “the sadder people were, the more the loudspeakers played... inviting the occupied country to forget the bitterness of history.” America became a country occupied by the social engineers prompted by the British pioneers in the genre that soon developed American, German and Russian experts. As for “the primeval state of music… music without thought,” it has continued to devolve to this day till its lyrics and robotic, sadistic-eroticism hit one in the face, gut and groin. Directed by invisible strings of money and electronics one is pressed to buy, and the young are immersed in the grabbing gut-level appeal of the primitive.
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Thus Africa too has colonized America via pop culture, sports, language and attitudes and the nation’s youth, and many adults too become Eloi, helots, orgiastic celebrants and victims, entranced by the spectacle of sports, sex and utopian, increasingly unreal political “promises” and financial sleight-of-hand. Virtual reality and “reality-TV” increasingly converge: “the grove grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers; the earth was gray with phantoms and the air was peopled with dim forms; phantoms diffused around…shadows of shadows” as people chase the imagery of the distraction machine and the cheap splendor of its imperial pageantry…
Click here for part -----> 1,
[This is an excerpt from the Preface of my forthcoming book, Culture of Terror: the Collapse of America, 2009 at www.Authorhouse.com]
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513), Part I, chapter 17-18
(Dell 1966, Daniel Donno translation), 60-64; see also Machiavelli’s
introduction where he describes the behavior of his rural neighbors,
2, Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites (New Oxford Press 1991; Norton 1995), 201-11 passim
3, Thomas Molnar, The Decline of the Intellectual (World 1961: Transaction 1994), 321
4, Ibid. 256-7
5, Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1978; Harper Perennial Classic revised English translation 1996), Part 6 section 10, page 231; also sections 8-11, 14-16, pages 239-44
6, Molnar, op. cit. 326
7, Wells, the New World Order (1940), chapter 5 (2007 Filiquarian reprint), 43
8, Ibid. 42
9, Kundera, op. cit. Part 6, section 18, 247-8
11, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Triumph of Life” (1822), lines 480-488 passim
© 2009 Eugene Narrett - All Rights Reserved