Saturday, July 3, 2021

Upton Sinclair...

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He was an incredible author, but, at bottom, a boob.

I recently began reading his 1927 Oil! and instantly fell in love.

I have never read anything by him before, but now I have a slate of his more than one hundred books that I'd like to read. 

My first gleaning was that Sinclair died in the mid-1920s, but today I learned that he actually died in 1968 (oh, thw irony). 

Thusly Sinclair went from being a useful idiot to a dangerous book. 

Assuming he had died in the tender years of the Bolshevik Revolution, and that Oil! had been posthumously published, I gave Sinclair's unabashed Socialism a pass. "It was a simpler time; he didn't know any better; he hadn't seen what Solzhenitsyn had seen."


As it happens, he really did have the opportunity to know better, and he could have heeded the prophet Solzhenitsyn. 

But, instead, he preferred to enjoy the benefits of his crony capitalist motherland (America) so that he could be an apologist for his dreamy Soviet heartland, whilst millions of Russians would have instantly traded places with Sinclair.

The upside of trudging through Sinclair's Leninist water-carrying in the midsection of Oil! is that I am now aware of America's audacious, largely unknown, but sadly predictable expeditionary intervention in Siberia near the end of WWI

It is an ugly tale, penned with the ink of American soldiers' blood. It is also a tale of how oligarchic capitalism can be just as ruthless as the communism against which it is allegedly pitted. 

Just because two stray dogs are fighting over the same bone, doesn't mean the older one is more to be trusted. 

Capitalism and communism share one soul, animated by the spirit of secular internationalism. Essence is finality, which is to say that a thing's proper end is a thing's proper nature. As such, capitalism and communism partake of the same nature—namely, that of oligarchic material concentrationism (to coin a term).

Ask a capitalist what values besides the just distribution of money bespeak a healthy social order. 

Now ask a communist the same thing.

You will get the same answers.

This is because neither ideology includes a conception of society that necessarily favors the nuclear family as the fundamental social unit and the well-being thereof as the primary social good.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nothing can defeat a people...

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"When men revolve to cooperate with the grace of God, the marvels of history are worked: the conversion of the Roman Empire; the formation of the Middle Ages; the reconquest of Spain, starting from Covadonga; all events that result from the great resurrections of soul of which all peoples are also capable. These resurrections are invincible, because nothing can defeat a people that is virtuous and truly loves God."
 217 best images about C - Controrivoluzione on Pinterest ...

-- Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 1993), p. 104.

By way of contrast...

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ca. July 15, 2019

In conclusion:

[p. 115]

Monday, July 15, 2019

Conservative cowardice...

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“Through 1789, 1917, and 1945 the ‘substance of inner life,’ as Salazar put it, evaporated, although after each date some, always fewer, old forms still survived, creating the impression that the loss had been tolerable. Thus after each turning point, the domain of what the counter-revolutionaries considered as _essential_ diminished, while increasingly more had to be jettisoned as _inessential_. This was not a philosophical choice, but a political one, enforced by necessity. Counter-revolutionaries know that a civilization decays in proportion as it consents to jettison more and more of its substance, which it then calls a no longer useful ballast, or ‘inessential.’ But from the point of view of Western civilization it is hard to tell which of the two losses is greater, more ‘essential’: the communization of Eastern Europe or the elimination of Latin from curriculum and liturgy.”

-- Thomas Molnar, The Counter-Revolution (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969), p. 158.

An American Caesar...

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“The post-1945 counter-revolutionary generation, while retaining through family piety and comradely loyalty a certain monarchist coloration, was nevertheless ready to accept other channels to the sacred than the person of the king. … Thus emerges a new type of counterrevolutionary ‘hero,’ the embodiment neither of the ideal restored monarch of the nineteenth century, nor of the twentieth-century ‘strong man.’ … 
If a portrait were to be drawn of him, it would show a figure born or educated in a counter-revolutionary milieu, or otherwise understood to have counter-revolutionary convictions. Public opinion classifies him as a counter-revolutionary, and, accordingly, he has partisans and opponents, a definite political profile. This impression becomes the more firm as his style of life and style of thought, things deeper than intellectual judgments, automatically divide people into his friends and his foes, sympathizers or adversaries. Yet, a considerable ambiguity prevails around him since the style and content of his thought are often in disharmony: until power is firmly in his hand, he does not disclose where the real weight is. In the period prepatory to power, this ambiguity grants the counter-revolutionary ‘hero’ a great freedom of action: only in the decisive moment does he show his hand: he accepts the leadership counter-revolutionaries offer him, but his policies will follow the revolutionary pattern, and will, in the last analysis, favor the revolutionary cause. Thus his success follows from his timing, and indeed he dominates the time factor precisely in that neither his natural partisans nor his natural adversaries are able in advance to calculate and evaluate his moves; while they are confused, the ‘hero’ gains time, the most important element for his complicated maneuvers.

The phenomenon is so universal – although rare – that it would be an error to find it on the counter-revolutionary side only. What the communists call ‘Bonapartism’ is its revolutionary version. …

The period since 1789 has known, however, more such phenomena on the counter-revolutionary side. It would not be entirely inappropriate to the phenomenon ‘Caesarism,’ over against the revolutionary phenomenon of ‘Bonapartism.’ Julius Caesar, member of the class of optimates, brilliant aristocrat, sensuous, luxury-loving, even effeminate in his youth, became the leader of the populaires by a political choice, the result of acute views about the situation of Rome. Caesar’s views were … consciously and masterfully chosen, to be sure, as the best means to promote his own career, but also as the Realpolitik of the moment.

The contemporary counter-revolutionary ‘hero’ resembles Caesar in that he too belongs to the ‘optimates,’ and he too decides, after a careful analysis of the situation, that he needs a popular base. This situation has two facets: one, as it appears to the counter-revolutionary hero himself, the other as it appears to the counter-revolutionaries accepting him as their spokesman and leader. Briefly put, the counter-revolutionary hero, although his personal tastes and style are shaped by counter-revolutionary convictions and values, reaches the conclusion that in the post-1945 world power is in the hands of the communications media, acknowledged representatives of the populaires. His policies, over against his deeper preferences, will aim at acceptance by these media so that his natural opponents might be neutralized in the course of carrying out his plans.

- Thomas Molnar, The Counter-Revolution (1969), pp. 154-157.

This passage in particular seems prophetic of Trump.

The interesting lapse in foresight comes near the end of the passages cited, where Molnar says the 'hero' will need to appease the revolutionary media in order to succeed.

Yet, Trump follows the pattern Molnar limns by admitting, by his actions, how important the media are for accessing and influencing public opinion, even if the gatekeepers of those media are themselves hostile. As estranged as he may be towards "the mainstream media," he could not have succeeded, paradoxically, without their hostility. It is in this sense that Trump "relies on" Twitter and combative interview tactics so much: he literally needed the media to give him constant exposure even if it was negative. That being said, Trump's master stroke was recognizing that the media were so deeply "bolshevized" (as Molnar would put it) that he had to make its figureheads into enemies just to get their unwitting broadcast support.

The media of persuasion cry out in pain...

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“The counter-revolutionary restoration has regularly failed, not because of some intrinsic weakness in the counter-revolutionary position and philosophy, but because counter-revolutionaries were largely unable to make full use of modern methods, organization, slogans, political parties, and the press. The process of ‘image making’ was abandoned to the revolutionary media, so that counter-revolutionaries have regularly appeared in unfavorable light, if they were indeed known at all. …

“In the arena of politics, the counter-revolution must usually wait for events to persuade people and voters to rally to its cause; it seems unable to persuade them in periods of calm and normalcy to join, and this to a very large extent because counter-revolutionaries make no serious effort in this direction, but leave the field to the revolutionary media of persuasion. … The reputation of counter-revolutionary spokesmen suffers doubly: first, because in the period before the crisis they draw antagonism from revolutionary media as ‘prophets of doom’ [B]; when the crisis is on, a new label is used, that of impotence to redress things [T]. At any rate, they will be known, before and after, as ‘men of crisis,’ emerging only in exceptional circumstances, filling an interregnum as ‘providential men,’ ‘men on a white horse,’ ‘dictators.’” ...

"The year 1945 represents both a defeat and a victory for the counter-revolution, although, while the defeat seemed to be complete, the victory was, to say the least, ambiguous. Contrary to tendentious insinuations, the counter-revolutionary's defeat is not identical with that of the bourgeoisie, of fascism, of the corporate state, or of Hitler's 'New European order.' One of the points this book seeks to emphasize is that the counter-revolutionary is not a radical rightist, and that only a century and a half's frustrations have led him into despair and panic; his anti-democratic stance is one with his loyalty to the monarchic principle, so that it was natural for him to make the following reasoning: in proportion as democracy and the parties weaken the nation and undermine its spirit, one must search for a monarch or for a temporary substitute, who will abolish the parties, limit the sphere of democracy, and restore national unity. Writers as different as Renan, Bernanos, and Simone Weil were exasperated by the party system, and were calling for an elite to redeem national existence. They are only three, chosen at random, among the deepest consciences of Europe, expressing the same conviction and the same hope.

"If this central counter-revolutionary program had had a chance of incorporation in the political destiny of the Western world, extreme solutions would have had no appeal for the counter-revolutionary. However, it is a further part of this book's thesis that the reason for the counter-revolutionaries' frustration was an early development of revolutionary monopoly over the communications media, hence over intellectual fashion. This had begun before the French Revolution, but after 1917 the equilibrium was definitively broken: the revolutionary monopoly had, henceforth, a hard core, an irreducible point of crystallization in Marxism as an ultimate overwhelming reference for the otherwise vague utopianism of the Left. The struggle between Revolution and counter-revolution became inevitably intensified: To break the revolutionary monopoly that now signalled not only the threat of cultural decline (pointed out by men like E. Faguet, Ortega, Spengler), but the imminent danger of bolshevization, radical measures were seen as indispensable palliatives."

- Thomas Molnar, The Counter-Revolution (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969), pp. 118-120, 144-145.

Also highly recommended is this 2004 review of Molnar's scandalously ignored book.