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Posts Tagged ‘H.L. Mencken’

Always Good to Quote Mencken – Cafe Hayek

Posted by M. C. on November 28, 2019

H.L. Mencken, writing in 1927, summed up nicely my thoughts along these lines:

Have you ever examined carefully the speeches made by the candidates in a Presidential campaign? If so, you know that they are of bilge and blather all compact. Now and then, true enough, one of the august aspirants to the Washington breeches is goaded or misled into saying something pungent and even apposite, but not often, not deliberately. His daily stint is simply balderdash.”

https://cafehayek.com/2019/11/always-good-to-quote-mencken.html

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Stranger in a Strange Land – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2019

Stories about good people doing good things on a daily basis are boring to those controlling the narrative. The purpose of the propagandists supporting the Deep State is to keep the masses fearful and distracted. Scare tactics and keeping half the country at the throats of the other half is good for business. While the masses are distracted by trivialities, boogeymen (Russians), and impeachment porn, the ruling class absconds with what remains of the national wealth.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/jim-quinn/stranger-in-a-strange-land/

By

The Burning Platform

“Secrecy begets tyranny.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“Thinking doesn’t pay. Just makes you discontented with what you see around you.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

When I read quotes by men like H.L. Mencken and Robert Heinlein, I realize I’m not really a stranger in a strange land, even though I feel that way most of the time. These cynical, critical thinking, libertarian minded gentlemen understood government tended towards corruption and tyranny, the populace tended towards ignorance and distraction, and reality eventually teaches a harsh lesson to fools, knaves and dumbasses.

Sometimes we think the current day worldly circumstances are new and original, when human nature, politicians, and governments never really change. When Mencken and Heinlein were writing and providing social commentary during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, they observed the same fallacies, foolishness, lack of self-responsibility, government malfeasance, and inability of the majority to think critically, that are rampant in society today.

The quotes above, written during the 1950s, are even more pertinent today. As the ongoing Surveillance State attempted coup against president Trump approaches its denouement, the fabric of this country is being torn asunder. It is the secrecy in which the Deep State has operated without oversight which has led to government tyranny. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden exposed the secrets of powerful interests operating within the CIA, NSA, FBI, White House, Congress and military industrial complex, revealing the malevolent disregard for the Constitutional rights of American citizens and wielding of power for power’s sake.

The collection of all electronic communications by Americans by all-powerful, unaccountable Deep State psychopaths is worse than anything conceived by Orwell in 1984. The fact Assange and Snowden are treated as traitors and criminals reveals the Deep State is still in control of our political and legal systems. Even though Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Clinton and Obama used their Deep State power to try and overthrow Trump, he still toes the company line by calling Assange and Snowden criminals. Government tyranny is still going strong.

Heinlein’s point about thinking is well taken. When you look at what is going on in this country and around the world with a critical eye, how could you not be discontented with what you see. We have government run schools inhabited by social justice engineers, teaching our children there are 47 genders, but not basic math or how to read and spell. We have the masses glorying in their ignorance as they worship silicone inflated shallow idols and vote for socialists and communists to provide them with free shit…

The vast majority of Americans choose not to think, not because it would cause them discontent, but because they are incapable of critical thought. Our joke of an educational system has taught generations of Americans how to feel, rather than how to think. Government controlled schools serve the purposes of the Deep State – dumb down the populace through social engineering, rewarding mediocrity, obscuring history, punishing critical thinking, feminizing boys and drugging those who don’t conform.

The dumbing down of the masses makes them pliable and easily manipulated through the mass media propaganda spewed from the boob tube and social media conglomerates. The unholy alliance between big tech, big media and big government keeps the masses uninformed, misinformed and distracted by meaningless minutia. The truth is hidden and obscured at all costs. A huge swath of populace will unquestioningly believe whatever they are told to believe, while millions more are so distracted with their iGadgets, they aren’t even paying attention.

The ruling class doesn’t want people thinking why they have used the military industrial complex in securing Syrian oil fields, supporting Saudi aggression, threatening Iran, attempting a coup in Venezuela, creating havoc in the Ukraine, occupying Afghanistan, and treating Russia and China as imminent threats, when their narrative is we are self-sufficient with regards to oil. The propaganda press peddles half truths about being a net exporter, when we still import 6 million barrels of oil per day…

Heinlein always considered himself a libertarian. In a letter written in 1967 he said, “As for libertarian, I’ve been one all my life, a radical one. You might use the term ‘philosophical anarchist’ or ‘autarchist’ about me, but ‘libertarian’ is easier to define and fits well enough.” The theme of personal freedom resonates throughout his body of work. Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the nature of sexual relationships, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought.

Much like Mencken, Orwell, and Steinbeck, as Heinlein aged, he became more cynical about government and society. He feared our culture and form of government was fatally flawed. Again, he foresaw where we are today – having lost freedoms, liberties, and rights as government laws, regulations and taxes have expanded.

“At the time I wrote Methuselah’s Children I was still politically quite naive and still had hopes that various libertarian notions could be put over by political processes … It [now] seems to me that every time we manage to establish one freedom, they take another one away. Maybe two. And that seems to me characteristic of a society as it gets older, and more crowded, and higher taxes, and more laws.” – Robert Heinlein

Government Power, Corruption and Tyranny

“Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried. Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents – a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect?” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

When I read Heinlein’s view of democracy, the American populace, and politicians from the 1950s, it makes me wonder whether my cynical pessimistic assessment of our country is nothing new. Has the country been wallowing in ignorance, lack of virtue, parasitic politicians and government incompetence for decades and my depression with the current state of affairs is nothing new among libertarian minded people?…

Heinlein’s view of politicians, their corruptibility, and ability to tell half truths which are really lies, is even more evident in today’s world. The candidates are hand picked by the corporate interests. Their salaries while in office are fairly modest, but they leave office as multi-millionaires and are paid handsomely on the Boards of the corporations they were supposed to regulate.

Bernanke and Yellen now make more giving one speech at a Wall Street bank than they made annually as the Federal Reserve Chairman. Every local, state and federal politician is bought off to some extent. They do the bidding of the vested interests who got them elected, not what is best for their constituents. We are lost in a blizzard of lies. A society addicted to falsehoods and bereft of truth will surely degrade and eventually collapse.

“He’s an honest politician–he stays bought.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time-and then shut up.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Liberty, Freedom & Obligations to Society

“I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime.” – Robert Heinlein

Heinlein still believed in the noble decency of the majority of people back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The climactic scene in It’s a Wonderful Life captured the belief that even though there will always be cold hearted evil bankers like Mr. Potter (the Jamie Dimon of his day) feeding off the misery of others, most people are good hearted, kind and giving. Is Heinlein’s view applicable in today’s world? Bad news, bad people and crime produce views, clicks and eyeballs for the corporate media complex…

Based upon Heinlein’s definition of a dying culture, we have already crossed the Rubicon. The level of vitriol spewed on a daily basis on social media, by the propagandist media, by politicians, and by intellectual yet idiots is a clear indication of a culture gasping its dying breath. There are still good people in this country who can be counted on by their neighbors, friends and families. As the current culture dies and is swept away during this Fourth Turning, what kind of culture will follow?

Will decent, libertarian minded, freedom loving people arise to guide the country towards a better future? Or will totalitarian minded evil men crush the hopes and dreams of the good people and reign over an even darker period in our history. Goodness without backbone, wisdom and willingness to fight to the death will be overrun by evil.

“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” – Robert A. Heinlein

“But goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

I still feel like a stranger in a strange land. But, based on my interactions with good people with hard, cold wisdom over the last ten years, I believe there is still hope for our nation. I think there are enough good people with common sense, critical thinking skills, and the courage and fortitude to stand up to the Deep State and defeat the evil permeating the current social order. Conflict against fellow Americans looms. Allying yourself with good people is essential. Maybe I’m being naïve believing good can win over evil, but it’s better than throwing in the towel and accepting our fate.

Reprinted with permission from The Burning Platform.

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The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda – a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good’ citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens.

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Doug Casey: Orwell’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True – Casey Research

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2019

Oddly, it’s only whites, males, and Christians that have to be careful using “hate speech” or non-PC speech today. Members of so-called “historically oppressed” minorities can say whatever they want. Which is pretty rich, since they’re actually majorities in many parts of the US today. And their native cultures allow for about zero freedom of speech – or any other kind of freedom, for that matter.

https://www.caseyresearch.com/articles/doug-casey-orwells-worst-nightmare-is-coming-true/

Justin’s note: Stop saying offensive words.

That’s what the Associated Press (AP), the world’s largest news agency, is telling reporters.

The AP puts out a stylebook every year that includes universal guidelines for stylistic matters like punctuation, capitalization, and even word choice. In a recent version, it encouraged writers to not use words such as “pro-life,” “migrant,” “refugee,” “Islamist,” and “terrorist.”

It’s completely ludicrous… and another example of the “politically correct” culture getting out of hand.

Our founder Doug Casey agrees. And today, he tells us what this disturbing trend really means…


Justin: Doug, what do you think of the AP censoring writers? Are you surprised at all?

Doug: There was once a time when journalists often had intelligence, integrity, and competence. Many did their jobs – reporting the news accurately, openly disclosing their bias (if any). H.L. Mencken was a model of what a journalist should be. He wasn’t just a reporter. He was a literary maven who had immense stores of knowledge and well-thought-out, fact-based opinions on nearly everything. In addition to a myriad of newspaper and magazine articles, he even wrote a definitive book on the English language and the correct way to use it.

Today, reporters have none of these qualifications. Their only qualification appears to be a BA degree in English, or Journalism.

Maybe it’s just that giants walked the earth in the days before Political Correctness. If Mencken was alive today, he would be shocked and appalled at the midgets who pass for reporters and editors today. He’d be rolling in laughter and disgust at how much the profession has been degraded.

It’s like Orwell’s worst nightmare is coming true. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the idea behind “doublethink” is to alter the nature of language. Big Brother wants to reduce the number of words that exist, eliminating those that describe non-PC thoughts and actions. They seem to want to institute Newspeak – complete with thoughtcrime, goodthink, bellyfeel, and prolefeed.

Justin: And why is that such a big deal?

Doug: Words enable thought. So if you corrupt words, you can alter and corrupt people’s thoughts. Words are the parents of thought. And thought is the father to action. There’s a reason the Bible speaks of “the word” with such respect.

If you don’t have a word for something, it makes it hard to think about it. And it’s worse if you have the wrong word. They’re trying to corrupt the language to limit what people think and do.

Justin: Why are they trying to alter how people think?

Doug: They say it’s to help make people “better.” Of course their idea of what’s good, and my idea of what’s good differ radically. The Nazis and Soviets tried to make people “better” by using propaganda – propaganda is actually fake news. They say they’re trying to reduce friction in society, or make the “underprivileged” feel good about themselves. But in fact they’re doing the opposite. They’re quite happy to use the violence of the State to enforce their views on society…

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'Welcome to 'All Sides of the Issues.' Here's our panel of commentators -- a communist, a socialist, a liberal, and a progressive....'

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Reflecting on the Interwar Right – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 28, 2019

The interwar American Right also typically opposed overseas military involvement, which as the poet Robinson Jeffers complains in his poem “Pearl Harbor,” embodied “the hope to impose on the whole world an American peace.”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/03/paul-gottfried/reflecting-on-the-interwar-right/

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An examination of the interwar American Right must begin by defining what the “Right” is. For purposes of this presentation we are referring to critics of mass society who hankered after an older America. We also mean by the same designation opponents of modern democracy, understood as the pursuit of democratic equality, and scorners of the American administrative state that began taking a by now recognizable form at the beginning of the twentieth century. The interwar American Right also typically opposed overseas military involvement, which as the poet Robinson Jeffers complains in his poem “Pearl Harbor,” embodied “the hope to impose on the whole world an American peace.” Jeffers also in the same poem lamented that Americans needed war to forge an otherwise missing collective identity: “America has neither race nor religion nor its own language: nation or nothing.” Therefore it tried to “run up the flag” in as many places as possible; and mobilized “when the war that we carefully for years provoked catches us unprepared, amazed and indignant.”

Please note this rightist opposition to war must be distinguished from the objections of Communist sympathizers or generic leftists to certain wars for ideological reasons. For example, George McGovern, who was a longtime Soviet apologist, protested the Vietnam War, while defending his own role in dropping bombs on helpless civilians in World War Two. For McGovern the “good war” was the one in which the US found itself on the same side as the Soviets and world Communism. Clearly McGovern did not object to American military engagements for rightist reasons.

My own list of interwar American Rightists would include predominantly men of letters, e.g., Wallace Stevens, H.L. Mencken, George Santayana (who was Stevens’s teacher at Harvard and longtime correspondent), Robert Lee Frost, the Southern Agrarians, and pro-fascist literati Ezra Pound and Lovecraft, (if accept these figures as part of a specifically American Right). Although Isabel Patterson and John T. Flynn may have regarded themselves as more libertarian than rightist, both these authors provide characteristically American rightist criticism of the progress of the democratic idea. The same is true of the novelist and founder of the libertarian movement Rose Wilder Lane, whose sympathetic portrayal of an older America in “House on the Prairie” has earned the disapproval of our present ruling class. Many of our rightist authors considered themselves to be literary modernists, e.g., Stevens, Pound and Jeffers. But as has been frequently observed, modernist writers were often political reactionaries, who combined literary innovations with decidedly rightist opinions about politics. Significantly, not only Mencken but also Stevens admired Nietzsche, although in Stevens’s case this admiration was motivated by aesthetic affinity rather than discernible political agreement.

This occasions the inevitable question why so many generation defining writers, particularly poets, in the interwar years took political and cultural positions that were diametrically opposed to those of our current literary and cultural elites. Allow me to provide one obvious answer that would cause me to be dismissed from an academic post if I were still unlucky enough to hold one. Some of the names I’ve been listing belonged to scions of long settled WASP families, e.g., Frost, Stevens, Jeffers, and, at least on one side, Santayana, and these figures cherished memories of an older American society that they considered in crisis.  Jeffers was the son of a Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, who was a well-known classical scholar. By the time he was twelve this future poet and precocious linguist knew German and French as well as English and later followed the example of his minister father by studying classics, in Europe as well as in the US.

Other figures of the literary Right despised egalitarianism, which was a defining attitude of the self-identified Nietzschean Mencken. The Sage of Baltimore typified what the Italian Marxist Domenico Losurdo describes as “aristocratic individualism” and which Losurdo and Mencken identified with the German philosopher Nietzsche. This anti-egalitarian individualism was easily detected in such figures as Mencken, Pound and the Jeffersonian libertarian, Albert J. Nock.

It may be Nock’s “Memoirs of a Superfluous Man” (1943) with its laments against modern leveling tendencies, and Nock’s earlier work “Our Enemy, The State” (1935) which incorporated most persuasively for me this concept of aristocratic individualism. Nock opposed the modern state not principally because he disapproved of its economic policies (although he may not have liked them as well) but because he viewed it as an instrument of destroying valid human distinctions. His revisionist work Myth of a Guilty Nation, which I’m about to reread, has not lost its power since Nock’s attack on World War One Allied propaganda was first published in 1922. Even more than Mencken, whose antiwar fervor in 1914 may have reflected his strongly pro-German bias, Nock opposed American involvement in World War One for the proper moral reasons, namely that the Western world was devouring itself in a totally needless conflagration. Curiously the self-described Burkean Russell Kirk depicts his discovery of Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man on an isolated army base in Utah during World War Two as a spiritual awakening. Robert Nisbet recounts the same experience in the same way in very similar circumstances.

Generational influence:

These interwar rightists of various stripes took advantage of a rich academic-educational as well as literary milieu that was still dominated by a WASP patrician class before its descendants sank into Jed Bushism or even worse. These men and women of letters were still living in a society featuring classes, gender roles, predominantly family owned factories, small town manners, and bourgeois decencies. Even those who like Jeffers, Nock and Mencken viewed themselves as iconoclasts, today may seem, even to our fake conservatives, to be thorough reactionary. The world has changed many times in many ways since these iconoclasts walked the Earth. I still recall attending a seminar of literary scholars as a graduate student in Yale in 1965, ten years after the death of Wallace Stevens, and being informed that although Stevens was a distinguished poet, it was rumored that he was a Republican. Someone else then chimed in that Stevens was supposed to have opposed the New Deal, something that caused consternation among those who were attending. At the times I had reservations about the same political development but kept my views to myself. One could only imagine what the acceptance price for a writer in a comparable academic circle at Yale would be at the present hour. Perhaps the advocacy of state-required transgendered restrooms spaced twenty feet apart from each other or some even more bizarre display of Political Correctness.  I shudder to think.

But arguably the signs of what was to come were already present back in the mid-1960s. What was even then fading was the academic society that still existed when Stevens attended Harvard, Frost Dartmouth, though only for a semester, or Nock the still recognizably traditional Episcopal Barth College. Our elite universities were not likely to produce even in the 1960s Pleiades of right-wing iconoclasts, as they had in the interwar years and even before the First World War.  And not incidentally the form of American conservatism that came out of Yale in the post-war years quickly degenerated into something far less appealing than what it replaced. It became a movement in which members were taught to march in lockstep while advocating far-flung American military entanglements. The step had already been taken that led from the interwar Right to what today is conservatism, inc. Somehow the interwar tradition looks better and better with the passage of time.

 

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