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Posts Tagged ‘H.L. Mencken’

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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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/

By

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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