Babe makes a strong case for the utility of long catnaps as a survival skill on the studio couch this afternoon.
"[Theodore] Dalrymple makes a strong case for the utility of morality as a survival skill," wrote Wretchard of Belmont Club three years back [via Amba, who had linked Wretchard's essay as apposite to her own cogitations on the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI at the time]. His words sound timely echoes in the current debate over what we should make of Barack Obama's ongoing association with former Weather Underground domestic terrorist and current "radical educator with influence," Bill Ayers. More about that in a moment, but first, a few excerpts from Wretchard's "Nightfall":
[Morality] is a craft, which like hunting and gathering, was once passed on to keep people from perishing in the wilderness. Now it is disparaged; the modern welfare state has no need of it . . .
[A]s Dalrymple argues in the City Journal, the human recognition of evil normally allows us to resist so it never has us wholly in its grasp. Looking back on 14 years of service in hospitals and prisons, Dalrymple realized he was witnessing the inexorable incapacitation of human discernment; the deadening of the ability to distinguish between good and evil which is so essential to survival . . .
In nearly every case the one thing the perpetrators and victims of evil were never allowed to do was to judge their own acts. That was absolutely forbidden. The universal course of treatment prescribed by all the organs of the welfare state was to find ways to make them 'feel better about it'.
Dr. Sanity approached the topic from a slightly different angle a year ago in "The dictatorship of the do-gooders and soul murder," a rousing discourse on the "pervasive intellectual trend in the West to continually bash capitalism, private property, business and free trade while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of all of them":
Betsy Newmark links to an article that demonstrates clearly how socialism's "social justice" advocates have taken over our K-12 education system and are determinedly undermining capitalism . . . Make no mistake about it, what those teachers are doing is indoctinating their students' minds into an unquestioning obedience to the collective . . .
Capitalism's incredible production of wealth is the economic side-effect that occurs when political freedom is present. It has been argued, and I agree, that both economic and political freedom are absolute prerequisites for moral behavior.
Children propagandized by dogmatic tyrants like the ones above have had not only their capacity to think for themselves abrogated; they have had their capacity to make moral choices taken from them.
As we sat here blogging this evening, along came a spider (x 16) -- seemingly out of nowhere -- and sat down beside her, paused and then spun away on silken threads. Indoor spiders, house centipedes and tiny moths are stirring. We spotted the first cabbage moth of spring wafting through the garden yesterday and the first bumble bee this morning.
Enter stage left the above-mentioned Bill Ayers, former Weather Underground terrorist and current "Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago." Sol Stern blew the professor's cover in a must-read City Journal article just under two years ago, linked today by The Barrister of Maggie's Farm, who headlines with "A cruel (Gramscian) hoax,":
This Ed School stuff is straight from Gramsci's handbook, and it represents a conspiracy to keep the "masses" poor and stupid -- and angry, hopeless and helpless. In other words, ripe for "rescue" by The State.
"Ayers’s spectacular second act began when he enrolled at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1984 [where] he experienced an epiphany in a course taught by Maxine Greene, a leading light of the 'critical pedagogy' movement," wrote Stern:
As Ayers wrote later, he took fire from Greene’s lectures on how the “oppressive hegemony” of the capitalist social order “reproduces” itself through the traditional practice of public schooling -- critical pedagogy’s fancy way of saying that the evil corporations exercise thought control through the schools . . .
The education professors feel themselves anointed to use the nation’s K-12 classrooms to resist this oppressive system. Thus Maxine Greene urged teachers not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order . . . In other words, they should turn the little ones into young socialists and critical theorists.
"[Bill Ayers] has much more influence than he did in the sixties. He's a rock star in the educational establishment," Sol Stern is telling Sean Hannity, adding that "the entire Democratic establishment years ago decided to legitimize him," making Obama's association with the radical leftist perfectly logical within the local political context. Missing the point as ever, Hannity's brain-dead liberal sidekick Alan Colmes asks his guest whether there's any evidence that students are being brainwashed by anti-American educationists promulgating critical pedagogy. "I don't know what it has to do with Barack Obama anyway," he adds. No, you wouldn't.
But until Ayers' association with Oprah's man -- Barack Obama -- came to light, few outside of academia and the Chicago Democratic machine were paying much attention to this particular Gramscian fellow traveler. Bill O'Reilly on Fox asserted earlier this evening that the professor's only significance to the American political debate is his association with Obama, but like Colmes, he misses the point, as Stern wrote yesterday in "Obama’s Real Bill Ayers Problem":
The more pressing issue is not the damage done by the Weather Underground 40 years ago, but the far greater harm inflicted on the nation’s schoolchildren by the political and educational movement in which Ayers plays a leading role today . . .
Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.
The insidious Gramscian infiltration of our culture marches on:
Gramsci posited that because Christianity had been dominant in the West for over 2000 years, not only was it fused with Western civilization, but it had corrupted the workers' class. The West would have to be de-Christianized, said Gramsci, by means of a "long march through the culture." Additionally, a new proletariat must be created. In his "Prison Notebooks," he suggested that the new proletariat be comprised of many criminals, women, and racial minorities.
The new battleground, reasoned Gramsci, must become the culture, starting with the traditional family and completely engulfing churches, schools, media, entertainment, civic organizations, literature, science, and history. All of these things must be radically transformed and the social and cultural order gradually turned upside-down with the new proletariat placed in power at the top.
Is it too late to save our soul? A former liberal mugged by reality may be the one to lead us out of the desert. As E.J. Dionne wrote upon Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy on April 19, 2005:
Ratzinger is a brilliant, tough-minded intellectual who started out as moderately liberal and -- like so many American neoconservatives -- developed a mistrust of the left because of the student revolt of the 1960s. He once said that "the 1968 revolution" turned into "a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human."
"Relativism means this: Power trumps," wrote Michael Novak in his must-read-and-reread "Culture in Crisis" [again via Amba] just after Ratzinger became Benedict XVI:
In his most formative years, Ratzinger heard Nazi propaganda shouting that there is no truth, no justice, there is only the will of the people (enunciated by its leader). As its necessary precondition, Nazism depended on the debunking of objective truth and objective morality. Truth had to be derided as irrelevant, and naked will had to be exalted . . .
Ratzinger experienced another set of loud shouters in the 1968 student revolution at Tubingen University, this time in the name of Marxist rather than Nazi will. Marxism as much as Nazism (though in a different way) depended on the relativization of all previous notions of ethics and morality and truth — “bourgeois” ideas, these were called. People who were called upon by the party to kill in the party’s name had to develop a relativist’s conscience.
Ratzinger wishes to defend the imperative of seeking the truth in all things, the imperative to follow the evidence. This imperative applies to daily life, to science, and to faith. The great Jewish and Christian name for God is connected to this imperative -- one of the Creator’s names is Truth. Other related names are Light, and Way. Humans are made seekers after truth . . .
The culture of relativism invites its own destruction, both by its own internal incoherence and by its defenselessness against cultures of faith.
Update: Steve at Modulator wants to defend the imperative of seeking the animals in all blogs. Friday Ark #188 now boarding.
Update II: "So obviously, I agree with Dr. Sanity up to a point," writes Amba in a provocative response to the good doctor's thesis that "both economic and political freedom are absolute prerequisites for moral behavior," and "captalism is actually good for the soul":
On the contrary, people need another, prior source of morality in order to handle the freedom of capitalism responsibly, and not go off the deep end of corruption, ruthlessness, and greed. "The pursuit of their own particular happiness" isn't morality -- which is based in concern for others "as thyself" -- it's utilitarianism. Capitalism doesn't restrict choice, and that's good, but it sometimes rewards immoral, amoral, or just plain trashy choices.
We guess it depends upon how you interpret the assertion that morality is "based in concern for others 'as thyself.'" Adam Smith's invisible hand comes to mind. Check out her comments for our full response.
Update III: An asylumful of deep threats to all that is human at Dr. Sanity's Carnival of the Insanities.