Lazy Sunday XCI: Questions, Part V

It’s another weekend full of questions here at The Portly Politico, as we continue our review of posts that pose a question in their titles.  Each of this Sunday’s posts were written during the heady, violent days of Summer 2020, when the nation was aflame with lawlessness and disorder.  Naturally, they reflect the fears and anxieties of those days, when it seemed like everything was coming apart at the seams:

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Civil War?” (post on SubscribeStar) – Perhaps one of my most powerful essays (if it’s not too much to give myself such accolades), “Civil War?” spells out the irreconcilable differences at the heart of the United States today.  I wrote it at a time when local governments in progressive urban centers refused to put a stop to the looting and rioting, and instead tacitly encouraged the destruction.  That mental and physical divide between progressives and conservatives is so profound and deep, I expressed pessimism of any kind of peaceful resolution—though I continue to pray I am wrong.
  • Law and Order?” – Just as urban progressive mayors failed to address the violence in their cities, so President Trump—who I love as a president—dropped the ball on quelling riots and the ridiculous CHAZ/CHOP experiment.  As I wrote at the time, it seemed that his strategy was wise—give the Left rope with which to hang themselves, allowing CHAZ to fizzle out under the weight of its own insane contradictions—but also undermined the legitimacy and authority of the government, and Trump’s own calls for “law and order.”  Here was a moment where President Trump could have acted decisively with a legitimate display of power, and give proof to his claims to want law and order.  That only comes with the firm smack of power.
  • What is Civilization?” – As progressive mobs continued to burn cities, Milo Yiannopoulos argued “that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products.”  Milo was engaged in a discussion with Steven Franssen and Vincent James, who countered that Americans who fled the cities were not abandoning their civilization, but something that had become alien and foreign.  I tend to favor the latter argument, but the post is worth reading as my summary of the discussion between such intriguing thinkers.

That’s all for this weekend.  Here’s hoping everyone is doing well and staying safe.  Christmas is almost here!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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What is Civilization?

This morning while getting ready for work I listened to a fascinating discussion between Milo Yiannopoulos and “groypers” Steven Franssen and Vincent James.  I don’t know much about Franssen and James, other than that they are fairly prominent figures on the Dissident Right, but the discussion (which is available at Censored.TV to subscribers—I highly recommend forking over the $10 a month for a subscription) covered a broad range of topics, from 9/11 to the future of America and traditionalism.

Out of that far-ranging discussion came a brief debate between Milo and his guests near the end of the exchange.  The gist of it boiled down to the question “what is civilization?”  Milo’s contention—an interesting one—is that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products:  our art, our architecture, our institutions.  These cultural artifacts took the blood, sweat, toil, and ingenuity of the American people to build, so we’re capitulating to the Leftist mobs when we flee our cities instead of fighting for them.

In true Milo fashion, it’s a compellingly contrarian argument:  why surrender what we fought so hard to build?  I am a big advocate of normal, decent folks abandoning the cities in search of a better life in the country (to the point I think we should consider subsidizing families in rural areas), but makes a strong case.  If we want to preserve our heritage, we shouldn’t hand it over to looters.

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The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973

Yesterday morning over at the blog Nebraska Energy Observer, NEO’s in-house guest writer, Audre Meyers, wrote a short, fun piece about prepping, “The Neo made me do it!,” in which she extolled the virtues of preparing ahead of time for disasters, rather then getting caught up in the frenzied mobs of panicked shoppers.  She wrote about some various and sundry items she needed to top off, including the increasingly-precious toilet paper, because “there are some things I simply refuse to do without!”

In reply, commenter “Scoop” referenced a similar toilet paper shortage in 1973 (and provided a handy link to a piece about the scare in a follow-up comment).  There’s even a documentary about it!

With the obligatory hat-tips squared away, let’s dive into this early 1970s TP shortage—one that mirrors our own mania for clean bums.  What is it about toilet paper—and the threat that it will disappear—that drives Americans to hysterics?

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TBT: Why the Hate for Space Force?

An unintended theme of the blog this week has been space, with two posts on our galaxy and our place in it (read “Galaxy Quest” and “Galaxy Quest II“).  One of the first posts I wrote on the blog urged the United States to expand into space.

So I was thrilled, understandably, when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  What a brilliant idea—and one that the ten-year old boy in me celebrated right away.  Diligent readers will know that I voted for Newt Gingrich in the 2012 South Carolina Republican Party, and donated $100 to his campaign after he promised to put a colony on the moonby the end of my second term.”

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Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged

Following yesterday’s post on the galaxy, blogger buddy Bette Cox—who was also my predecessor as Secretary of the Florence County (SC) GOP—shot me an e-mail with links to some of her own writings on astronomy, the galaxy, and faith.  I wanted to share a few of those pieces with you today.

Bette is a prolific writer, and maintains a dizzying array of blogs.  She contacted me with some excellent feedback on my first Nehemiah essay, which prompted a follow-up incorporating her remarks.  She writes beautifully about faith at Esther’s Petition, and about the fulfillment of end-times prophecy at Tapister.

What I did not realize, until yesterday, is that Bette writes extensively about space—one of my favorite topics—at another blog Speaking of Heaven (her main blog, Bette Cox, is also dedicated to space).  Her writings about the intersection of space exploration and faith are particularly thought-provoking.

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Happy Columbus Day!

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that commemorates Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492.  It’s one of the most significant events in human history—as I tell my American History students, “we wouldn’t be here if Columbus hadn’t made his voyages”—yet the social justice, Cultural Marxist revisionist scolds want to do away with the holiday entirely, replacing it instead with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

The thrust of the proposed (or, as is the way with SJWs, demanded) name change is that Columbus was a genocidal, white male meanie who defrauded and murdered peace-loving Native Americans (who had the gall to mislabel Indians!), so instead we should celebrate the contributions of Stone Age cannibals.

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Lazy Sunday XXIX: The New Criterion

Conservatives, especially conservative writers and publishers, tend to get so fixated on policy wonkery and political debates, we sometimes lose sight of culture.  One reason I appreciate blogger buddy photog’s blog, Orion’s Cold Fire, so much is that he makes room for reviews of sci-fi novels, Twilight Zone episodes, and the like.

One publication that makes culture the centerpiece of its mission is The New Criterion, which takes the idea of reviewing the best in art, literature, music, and drama very seriously.  I recently re-subscribed TNC after having a lapsed subscription for a couple of years, and I’m eager to get my first issue in forty-eight weeks.

With that in mind, this week’s Lazy Sunday is dedicated to pieces the writers at The New Criterion inspired:

  • Civilization is Worth It” – This piece discusses an excellent audio version of a piece about Rousseau’s ideas regarding civilization (that is to say, Rousseau argued civilization was the cause of all of our problems, and we were better of dancing around naked in caves).  It’s definitely worth a listen.
  • E.T.A. Hoffman & Romanticism” – This very short post covered a charming little essay about E.T.A. Hoffman, arguably the founder of the Romantic movement in literature, as well as a brief discussion of the consequences, both positive and negative, of the Romantic temperament, and the idea of the brooding, troubled artist.
  • The League of Nations” – Trans- and supranational organizations were all the rage in the twentieth century, and the League of Nations was the first—and the biggest flop—in this do-gooding, globalist trend.  The League of Nations was famously ineffective, which just meant we’d be saddled with an even worse organization, the United Nations, after the League failed to prevent the Second World War.  Now the European Union is creating a tyrannical empire of Belgian bureaucrats in the name of preventing a tyrannical empire of German bureaucrats from trying to conquer Europe again.  Yeesh.
  • The Good Populism” – The counter to the aforementioned tyrannical transnational organizations is good, healthy populism, the kind of middle-class, conservative revolutions that brought us the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Donald Trump (among others).  Super historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson makes the case for the “good populism,” as opposed to Bernie Bro socialistic populism, in this piece, one of the most popular TNC published in 2018.
  • New Criterion on Principles in Politics” – What’s more important—principles or victory?  That’s not exactly the gist of this piece, but it does examine the tricky debate taking place among the Right currently about how to handle deranged Leftists.  What are the limits of principles?  The David French model of always surrendering—but being polite while doing so—is clearly not an effective way to uphold conservative principles.

That’s it for this Sunday.  Enjoy some erudite cultural criticism!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”

To start yesterday’s History of Conservative Thought class, I had students skim through Rudyard Kipling’s 1908 short story “The Mother Hive.”  I stumbled upon the reading in our class text, Russell Kirk’s The Portable Conservative Reader.

It is a grim little fable that warns about the perils of progressivism infiltrating a proud but weakened nation.  In the story, a deadly wax-moth sneaks into a large but bedraggled beehive during a moment of confusion.  She quickly steals away to the cell of the youngest bees, who have yet to take their first flight.  There, she fills their impressionable heads with gentle words and promises of a glorious future, all while covertly laying her eggs.

One young bee, Melissa, who has just returned from her first flight, is suspicious of the beautiful stranger’s soothing words, but the wax-moth plays the victim and insists that she’s only spreading her “principles,” not the eggs of her hungry future children.

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History of Conservative Thought Update: Edmund Burke

A bit of a delayed post today, due to a busier-than-usual Monday, and the attendant exhaustion that came with it. The third meeting of my new History of Conservative Thought class just wrapped up, and while I should be painting right now, I wanted to give a quite update.

Last week, we began diving into the grandfather of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke. Burke prophetically saw the outcome of the French Revolution before it turned sour, writing his legendary Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1789 as the upheaval began. Burke argued that the French Revolution ended the greatness of European civilization, a Europe that governed, in various ways, its respective realms with a light hand, and a sense of “moral imagination.”

To quote Burke reflecting on the Queen of France:

“I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroick enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.”

What a powerful excerpt! The “sophisters, economists, and calculators,” indeed, reign in the West. What Burke was driving at here was that the rationalistic, abstract bureaucrats who would abandon tradition in their quest for a perfect society would sacrifice everything that made their country great, and life worth living.

Burke was also arguing that there is more to obedience to a government or king than the mere threat of power. People are invested in their country and society—and willing to submit to authority—because of organic culture from which it grows. Uprooting the great tree of tradition in favor of abstract foundations merely destroys the tree, and plants its seedlings in shallow ruts of stone. What grows will be anemic and pitiful by comparison.

Volumes could and have been written about Burke, but I’ll leave it here for now. Next week we’re getting into the development of Northern and Southern conservatism, which should make for some pre-Independence Day fun.