A Revolution in Sensibility -- and What to Do About It

For many Americans, the enemy is the conservative patrimony of individual agency, traditional marriage, competitive achievement, historical memory, freedom of thought, expression and peaceful assembly, and the morality of public reciprocity. The handshake has been replaced by the clenched fist, a communist salute and emblem adopted by BLM. The virus of collectivism has taken hold among the young, and equality of personal opportunity has yielded to equality of forced outcome.

A BLM riot in Portland (YouTube screen grab)

This is no less than a revolution of sensibility, aggressively promoted by the big digital platforms and the open sewer of social media where the scourge of rampant vigilantism, infantilism run amok and mob justice has infected the entire culture and eroded the principle of legal justice by the politics of indiscriminate revenge for evils real and imagined. Twitter, of course, has now become the major conduit for the neural filth of the nation to disgorge into the mainstream.

The responsible and literate individual is gradually disappearing into a featureless mass. The mob and its movers prevail. The result is an epidemic of iconoclasm (destruction of images and statues), antinomianism (rejection of laws and customs), and the degradation of rational thought. America’s foreign enemies and competitors can scarcely contain themselves as they watch the country implode, a pervasive leftist fifth column doing their work for them.

What we are plainly observing is the resurgence of socialist doctrine and practice characterized by radical egalitarianism, the expansion of welfare dependency, the destruction of the nuclear family, and the gradual emergence of single-party rule, associated with the Democrats. The ideals of liberty, personal responsibility for one’s choices, love of country, property rights, civil order, historical continuity, an enduring moral order, economic prudence, voluntary community and restraint upon government power, were expounded by Russell Kirk in The Politics of Prudence. They constitute the essence of what we once understood as the American experiment in republican governance, but now are denounced as a “right-wing” conspiracy to suppress the poor, the marginalised and a proletariat of assorted victims suffering under the iron rule of a colonial oligarchy. As many observers have commented, the cold war was really won by the Soviets. In the words of Alexander Markovsky from Liberal Bolshevism, “America did not defeat communism, she adopted it.”

What is currently libeled as “far right” or “fascist” is actually responsible conservatism struggling to preserve the philosophy and tradition of “classical liberalism” associated with resonant names like John Milton, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill and Benjamin Disraeli, and today with Richard Weaver, James Burnham, Robert Bork, Russell Kirk and Roger Scruton. But in the fevered minds of an ignorant rabble now dominating the Internet and festering in the Democratic Party, these luminaries are no match for Stalin, Mao, Castro, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un or homegrown Marxists like Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton -- and, of course, Joe Biden.

There can be no doubt that a Biden victory at the polls would be a devastating blow to Middle America -- flyover country, suburbia -- and to the fragmented conservative movement in the U.S. As Stacy Lennox points out in an article for PJ Media, echoing Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, “The radical left has conducted a long and successful march through our educational, cultural, and bureaucratic institutions. Their takeover of the Democrat party will be complete if Joe Biden wins in November.” His intent is obvious to all even though few can make any sense of Biden’s refried beans.

These are some of the changes that must take place if we are to save our way of life.  A few can be accomplished by Executive Order, others require legislation, and success demands a concerted effort to turn around the cultural and social tide, on our own “long march through the institutions.”  With courage and moral determination, they can be accomplished.

·       With the exception of the STEM disciplines, Medical faculties and Business Administration, federal funding of the universities must be suspended. We have more than enough lawyers, social scientists, Middle East specialists, Political Science majors and literary theorists. They are for the most part a futile bunch. The proliferation of “Studies” programs -- Gender Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, Race Studies, Peace Studies, Fat Studies, etc. -- must be left to die a natural death, if only to avoid unleashing a horde of resentful students unprepared for the job market and intent on mischief. Universities must become competitive, lower their tuition rates, reduce the bloat of costly administrations and so-called Diversity Officers, and enshrine the principle of meritocracy both in admission standards and graduation filters, before funding can be reconsidered. Unsustainable student debt will soon begin to shrink to manageable proportions. Why spend a fortune to be unemployable and socially useless? Moreover, campus tribunals adjudicating cases of sexual misconduct must be immediately terminated. This is a matter for the courts, not for a cadre of juridical amateurs, radical feminists and political ideologues who have no training or expertise in the dispensation of legal justice.

·       The identity hyphen should be gradually abolished. The vast majority of “African-Americans,” for example, have never been to Africa and know little about it, any more than “Polish-Americans,” “Irish-Americans,” “Greek-Americans.” “Jewish-Americans,” “Asian-Americans” or any other citizen hybrid may ever have visited the “home country” or have been schooled in its history and ancestral lore. There are only Americans, of whatever race, ethnicity or creed. The politically correct hyphen has no place in an e pluribus unum democratic polity. It should begin to be phased out of common usage.

·       The big digital platforms engaged in predatory actions and massive censorship of viewpoints which do not agree with a prior political orthodoxy must lose their privileged status under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and be treated as publishers or public utilities responsible for their behavior. David Cicilline, chair of a Congressional subcommittee investigating the tech giants, said: “This hearing has made one fact clear to me -- these companies as they exist today have monopoly power. Some need to be broken up; all need to be properly regulated and held accountable. We need to ensure the antitrust laws first written more than a century ago work in the digital age.”

·       Organizations such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, the first clearly fascist, and the second avowedly communist and no friend to the black community -- indeed, it is an insurrectionary movement funded by dissident white organizations -- must not only be designated as domestic terrorists but must absorb the full force of the law, leading to citations, arrests and long prison sentences. They are variously reminiscent of totalitarian entities like the Brownshirts, the Weather Underground, the Red Brigades and Baader Meinhof. Additionally, the funders of these groups must be identified and subject to the punitive might of the law.

·       Though legislation is neither possible nor desirable, the message should go out, if only by repeated example, that the dictatorship of political correctness needs to be resisted. One should use the real names of things in speech and writing regardless of blowback, and never apologize for doing so. It is more important to be correct politically than politically correct. People should be allowed to joke about cultural stereotypes even if some offense is given. Non-partisan comedians, for example, like medieval jesters, have a truth to tell us about society and about ourselves. As Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper points out in his study of Plato and the sophists Abuse of Language-Abuse of Power, “if the word becomes corrupted, human existence itself will not remain unaffected and untainted.” The corruption of communication goes hand in hand with the corruption of relationship to reality. Absolutism, agitptop and mass-media offer us fictions we mistake for truth, at the price of our liberty. When enough people have the courage to speak truly, to call things by their true names, and to wield the satiric rapier, a critical mass may one day be reached and the virus of PC can be turned back. At some point the lying has got to stop before the culture becomes a hollow shell inhabited by a swarm of human bots, that is, before it becomes a humorless and repressive totalitarian regime.

·       Public officials of whatever rank and authority who have engaged in illegal or treasonous actions -- one thinks of Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, Spygate and other malfeasances -- should be brought to justice whatever the consequences. There is no room for timidity, deferral or exemption here. There cannot be two distinct and incompatible systems of justice, one for the common people and one for the wealthy, the powerful and the political elite. No nation can expect to indefinitely survive so gross a miscarriage of the principle of legal fairness and impartiality. When one sees, as Ayn Rand deplored in Atlas Shrugged, men who produce nothing, who deal in favors, and who get rich by graft and pull, and then realizes that “your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you…you may know that our society is doomed.”  Similarly, Hannah Arendt writes in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “The nation-state cannot exist once its principle of equality before the law has broken down.” It’s only a matter of time.

Some will no doubt argue that these initiatives are unrealistic, and they may be right. But as proposals they are at least theoretically conceivable under Trump but would be anathema to any Democratic candidate, whose agenda is to perpetuate dysfunction, lawlessness, corruption, mendacity and indoctrination. The fundamental issue at this historical juncture comes down to the election. Do we want Trump or Biden? As Andrea Widburg comments on American Thinker, “Trump provides a marked contrast to Joe Biden, whose mental acuity visibly deteriorates on a day-by-day basis…I know which one I’d rather have seated across the table from presidents Xi or Putin.” The Xis and Putins of the world may not understand a word Biden is saying, but this is no consolation. They would have their will.

Let’s consider a thought experiment. If we could transpose by analogy and think of this electoral moment as a prelude to a Democrat victory but as occurring during the American Revolutionary War, the revolutionaries would be British public figures like Edmund Burke and to some degree William Pitt while the American colonists would lobby for raising taxes on tea and cheer on the Stamp Act. The upshot would have been Bidenesque and the Democratic Party, had it existed in its current form at the time, would have been England’s political servants -- as the Democrats are today the servants of the United Nations’ globalist agenda, leftist money and their own worst natures.

David Solway is a poet, songwriter and essayist. His latest book is Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House, London, 2020