Apollo and Dionysius Meet Again
In a lame attempt to counter the refreshing grass roots spontaneity of the Tea Party, the leftist AstroTurf machine of head puppeteer George Soros has spewed forth a toxic brew of anarchists, communists, fascists, criminals, and aging hippies. In the former shadow of the World Trade Center, they gather to compete in anti-Semitic poster art and self-serving demands for handouts. These ignorant slobs don't even realize that their odd mixture of leftist philosophy and Sharia-inspired racism is old hat. Nobody did it better than Goering last century or than the Islamists do today.
Does history really repeat itself? Do prophets really exist? Or, are some people just gifted with an ability to see through the forest to identify the important trees? No modern philosopher has been more ridiculed and despised by mainstream intellectuals than Ayn Rand. Indeed, they barely concede that she was a philosopher. They have no problem with Kant, Marx, and Nietzsche. That evil triumvirate has been poisoning young minds for centuries.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Miss Rand gave some inspiring lectures at Ford Hall in Boston in the 1960s. Luckily, they were recorded and can be heard online. My two favorites are The Fascist New Frontier (1961), and Apollo and Dionysius (1969).
In FNF, she compares the platform of Kennedy's new frontier to the Nazi party platform in Germany from the 1920s. In less than an hour she manages to dissect both documents and shows them to be nearly identical. Jonah Goldberg's well-researched book, Liberal Fascism", which makes much the same point, shows that it is a constantly recurring theme in modern politics.
Her lecture Apollo and Dionysius" could have been comparing the Tea Party gatherings to the occupying mobs but for the fact that it preceded those gatherings by half a century. Instead, she compares the enormous well-behaved crowds and orderly traffic jams in or near Cape Kennedy for the Apollo moon landing of Neil Armstrong, to the dirty and undisciplined mob at Woodstock later that summer.
People came to Cape Kennedy to witness an event unique in human history, a symbol of all that humankind can achieve with reason and cooperation. Those who came to Woodstock wanted sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Her incisive analysis of the two crowds exposes the stark difference between men and women as creatures of reason or as blobs of emotion detached from reality. Her words remain powerful and relevant to this day.
Are you not convinced? Imagine polling Tea Partiers and OWSers as to which of those events from the 1960s they would have attended. Not much question, is there?
At tea party rallies there was courtesy and respect. No racism. No anti-Semitism. Reverence for the Constitution. Locals invited strangers to dinner, or even to stay overnight. Not everyone agreed on everything. The result was serious and friendly dialog. There were no drummers at 3AM. There was nobody at 3AM. The site was cleaner at 3AM than it was before the rally.
But in New York, NY, urine flows in Zucotti Park at all hours. Drugs are plentiful. Nearby property is vandalized or stolen. Instead of the righteous indignation of free people, there is the insatiable whining of freeloaders and parasites.
In thousands of tea party events, there was a sense of kinship with all Americans. Rich and poor, black and white, anyone who showed up was welcomed. The unity that comes from common values and ethics is much stronger than that of hogs at a trough.
The inability of the occupiers to string together even a few coherent thoughts renders their entire protest laughable. Oh, so original -- they are "mad as hell." They are "not going to take it anymore." Obviously, "take it" refers to something other than food and shelter from their parents, education and unemployment insurance from the government, or attention from fawning leftist media. Maybe it refers to breathlessly sincere young coeds being raped by their equally sincere male co-demanders.
The personal hygiene of the Wall Street protestors does not necessarily negate their entire cause. One purported gripe in Zucotti is the unfairness of bailing out Wall Street banks, while not providing enough for ordinary citizens. It is their only valid complaint. Traditional conservatives sometimes seem insufficiently disgusted with bailouts and other symptoms of crony capitalism. To their credit, the Tea Party conservatives are not fooled.
The analogy of the tea partiers with the Apollo moon launch spectators seems quite solid. The values of reason and self-responsibility motivated both groups. The analogy of Woodstock to Zucotti Park is a bit unfair to the Woodstock generation. Woodstock represented complete surrender to the childish hedonistic impulses of kids of every generation. Learning to control those impulses is a hallmark of civilization. The organizers of Woodstock may have been incompetent or naïve, but seem not to have had any motive beyond the Dionysian ethic of pleasure today and tomorrow be damned. After all, it was just one weekend, not yet the symbol of a generation it has become. A majority of the attendees may even have been secret Apollans, enjoying one last fling at adolescence before returning to work on Tuesday or Wednesday, or a week later.
That innocent interpretation of Woodstock is not a good description of the astroturf gangs occupying cities around the world. The cynical manipulations of the emotions of children facing an uncertain future are typical leftist modus operandi. They would love to confer a degree of respectability by invoking the spirit of Woodstock. To find the true progenitors of the occupiers' puppet-masters one must listen to The Fascist New Frontier.
This lecture itself is as chilling and as thought-provoking as any I have ever heard. Line by line, goal by goal, the influence of fascist philosophy on liberal politicians is documented. One slim difference remained. New frontiersmen were not motivated by anti-Semitism, nor by murderous racism. But look at the occupiers today. Anti-Jewish signs sprout like weeds in summer. As homage to Woodstock, accommodation is made to the cacophony of the drummers and profit opportunities for acid and dope peddlers. Stealthy organizers try to keep the crowds on message, but the corrosive bile of the wannabe killers of Jews keeps bubbling to the surface. And it goes on and on and on like a computer program caught in an infinite loop.
The irreconcilable difference of values that separates the Tea Party from the Wall Street slackers is best reflected in their demands. "Take less," says the Tea Party stalwart. "Take more and give it to me," whines the occupier. "Israel forever!" prays the Tea Party. "Death to the Jews" scream the freeloaders, happy to find any convenient scapegoat for their own inadequacy.
The mainstream media seem bent on finding commonalities between the fresh clear thinking of the Tea Party and the muddled mob mentality of the Wall Street occupiers and their astroturf clones in Oakland and elsewhere. It is true that they both oppose the crony capitalism of the big bank bailouts. They both resent individuals on Wall Street enriching themselves at taxpayer expense. The difference is that the Wall Street urchins have no principles to fall back on. The Tea Party opposes most government interference in the economy. They don't want politicians choosing winners and losers. The thugs in Zucotti Park and the arsonists in Oakland have no problem with picking winners and losers; they simply disagree with the current choices.
Tea Party patriots and the occupying malcontents can both embrace the comparison to Rand's dichotomy, just as the Apollans and Dionysians of ancient Greece, of Kant and Nietzsche and of the sixties might be flattered by her descriptions. A vast chasm separates those who value freedom and reason from those who live only by emotions, unfettered by morality or reality.
Do the modern Dionysians even realize they are being insulted? The best way to deal with OWS is with scorn and disdain. They can't be completely ignored as their tantrums become ever more violent. But be patient. The longer they wallow in filth, denying ordinary citizens the right to public and private facilities, the more they will help the Tea Party recapture America in 2012 on behalf of our colonial forebears and the vast sea of legal immigrants who have always been drawn to our principles. The ideological divide we face today is not based on national origin, but on common values. We are Americans and we shall prevail.