Most of us need an occasional breather from current events—but our political adversaries do not. To the progressive, reality’s school is always out… so who needs a vacation?
Glenn Beck almost ruined my day last Thursday. Having listened to the first ten minutes of his radio show as I dressed for work, I heard about how the economic countdown to the Weimar Republic (as defined by economist David Buckner) has already reached zero in our tattered remnant of a nation. Somehow, with a boy halfway through his first semester of college and Obamacare clouding up my silver years like a gathering hurricane, I was supposed to deliver three hours of lectures lively enough to compete with Facebook. I pulled it off the way an opposing ballplayer pitches in Fenway Park during the play-offs: I stayed “in the moment”, becoming so absorbed in the matter at hand that all the background chatter failed to reach my ears. (Not that I pried most of my twenty-year-olds loose from Facebook: nothing will do that short of a meteorite impact or free food.)
Baseball, as it happens, is one of my favorite escapes. I don’t particularly care for other sports. Baseball is the one that binds me closest to the days of my youth while also lending itself most to a lifestyle of improvement based on minute analysis (I like to think I do everything that way). I love both the game’s nostalgia and its rationality. Teaching leaves me little time for other diversions. Reading itself, though, which never drifts far from my job description (since I’m a generalist and can usually integrate various times and customs into one of my spiels), is also a great pleasure. Such amusements allow me to forget the hard facts in which Glenn Beck deals —to “escape”, as I wrote above—just long enough, sometimes, to keep from plunging into despair and hanging myself.
I have heard Glenn speak tearfully about his religious faith over the air in a way that our great-grandfathers used to call “enthusiastic”. Maybe that’s how he survives constant immersion in the rotting carcass of our nation and culture. I myself can’t draw upon that strategy. I had my charismatic phase thirty years ago, and I found that it at last only magnified my despair—often to truly frightful proportions. I do not believe that a divine hand is poised over us protectively. I do not believe that any amount of prayer will save us from the consequences of our fellow beings’ lunacy and depravity. Free will is rather like a tornado. It unleashes terrific stresses until atmospheric equilibrium is ultimately reestablished: in the bright sun of the following morning may lie the ruins of entire cities. The spring which we postmodern Westerners have coiled up through our collective will must at some point burst its catch and fly out. God has well informed us of our destructive tendencies, and He has also promised us that true rest, peace, and justice await us in a higher dimension. Therein do I find the solace of faith—and, when your child’s life rather than your own sits in the balance, that solace can seem pretty cold.
So I have my personal means of escapism. I imagine most sane people do: I imagine even Glenn Beck does (for only a religious fanatic or a one-in-a-million saint could smile serenely as the Gestapo descends upon his children). We are fully open to charges of frivolity at these escapist moments, without doubt. Upon therapeutic frivolity depends survival. I can’t function if I allow current events to occupy me around the clock. I have to come up for air.
Lately I have realized (though the evidence of this has stared me in the face throughout my life in academe) that the progressive mind does not thus escape. Ever. It doesn’t breathe. Its every waking thought and motion is preoccupied with “the cause”; and if such a mind dreams, it must surely dream the cause, as well. The cause, after all, is a dream. It is a program that chafes against harsh realities at numerous points: hence life is an unending game of neutralizing facts, removing or circumventing obstacles, spreading disinformation, undermining the natural sequence of things… and, in short, launching all manner of make-believe escapades. No need of escape when the fabric of one’s universe is already strands of puffy white cloud!
And so these people never relent. They never take a day off. They are monomaniacal: they are insane. The rest of us cry out for an occasional rest. Our minds and spirits have to grapple with real concerns that offer real resistance. Occasionally brain and soul must release their hold and go slack, just as a physical muscle gets a better grip upon some highly resistant task after it’s allowed to fall limp for a moment. To us, real expenditures incur real debt. Real resources have real limits. Real commitments bring real obligations. Real mistakes carry real consequences. Real peaks are flanked by real valleys. “High” cannot be defined if there is no complementary “low”. Achievement cannot exist without strain, nor pleasure without pain, nor youth without age.
Draw any issue from the hat, offer it to a progressive, and then try to hold on to the tiger’s tail. Foreign affairs… cultural clash… the Taliban. Religious dogma cannot be branded morally wrong even when it encourages fathers to execute wayward daughters and husbands to cast off complaining wives—not unless we settle for a wrong that applies equally to every religion for having any dogma at all. But (you say) if such acts do no wrong because all moral claims are relative, then violence of the stronger against the weaker—as of an adult against a child—cannot be ruled bad. It may be, they say, in certain cases, such as the use of poison gas. And besides, they say, you must not designate women “the weaker sex” (but why the “must”, if all is relative?). Well, then (you say), wife-beaters have committed no moral foul; and even less should we consider women victims, by the same token, just because the boss has a Playboy calendar on his desk. Your provocative notions, they say, are pure hate speech. For now, you are dismissed with a warning: the next time, you lose your job and report to re-education camp.
So spins the top: so whirls the dervish. From one issue to another to another, in the impulsive, associational fashion of a wild dream, or a spoiled child’s fantasy, or a drug-induced fit… sheer lunacy. Things can become their opposite from one word to the next. This kind of discourse, this manner of agenda, is beyond illogical: it is definitively insane.
In the progressive, we have an adversary who is out of his mind. He insists upon more and ever more freedom—and he sets about securing it through more power of an ever more arbitrary character. He howls down like a possessed prophet upon the well-to-do who step over their society’s poor—and he hatches “charitable” schemes that must dry up in mere years, leaving millions to starve without skill or shift to produce a morsel of food. He passionately defends the right of the planet and all its clawed and feathered species to continue their way unaltered for another eon—and he advocates with equal passion the need to exterminate extraneous fetuses and to impose sterility upon vast urban populations. He makes up grammar anew with every sentence. His laws are an incoherent jumble, the sum total of their penalties and prohibitions amounting to, “Let the leader lead! Let the Chosen One choose the way! Enough protesting! Silence! Obey! Yield, or die!”
It is with such tireless, sleepless lunatics that we must deal. And when we seek our breath of fresh air, they stay behind suffocating on their gaseous, rancid dreams. Whether they wage war upon us by outlawing our very air and taxing our lung activity or by mangling stray facts in the “editing room” to resemble their dream’s colors, their delirium always feeds lack of oxygen with an emptier void. They plunge deeper into darkness with every step: they are irredeemable. Like Milton’s Satan, they have convinced themselves that a sulfurous Hell faintly responsive to their whimsical tinkering smells sweeter than a Heaven not in their control.
We must understand two things about this insanity. One is that it is indeed incurable—it is the most objectively, verifiably progressive aspect of the progressive mind: a cancer that consumes until it kills. It cannot be reasoned with or led to meaningful compromise. It is insanity, and it remains insanity during each of its uncomfortable, temporary brushes with reality.
The other thing, of maximal importance given the former truth, is that the sane man’s occasional and necessary escapes into diversion must not delude him into thinking that his enemy is also resting at that moment, or that he will return from his recreation to find the other less of an enemy. One of the two must die. I mean this in a political, not a literal, sense; but the sane man must grasp that his opponent’s hazy plans stray ceaselessly between the figurative and the literal. Should the lunatic prevail, secular, material death on a massive scale will likely follow.
Then we shall have only the faith of condemned prisoners to embrace—and it is a glorious hope; but I prefer, nevertheless, not to rush to the slaughter as long as children yet need defending.