This is Part II of “Unfinished Business”, which is a theme that just sort of eases into the minds of men and women as they near the sunset of their lives. I’m 76 and still have a to-do list I want to finish before I cross over.
In Part I I indulged myself by recalling a couple of pieces I’d done years ago, part of a series called “Famous Common People I Have Known”, and noting I’d like to be able to write a few more chapters to make that a fuller description of the exceptional qualities of the common man and woman, first in America, who originally built the United States, and other parts of the world, just to point out the potential out there if they could just come up with the proper formula. Their problem is that their histories and social orders, going back at least two-thousand years, were all created top-down while America was created from the bottom-up.
And it appears we’re the only ones over that same 2000 year period. (If you want to kick around the idea of the Roman Republic having been the first, I’ll just let you sit and spin, as they were not the same, not by a long sight.)
The truth of the matter is that of all the existing representative “democracies” today, in an era when even the most ill-tempered autocratic regime prefers to call itself a “democracy”…a practice begun by Josef Stalin, I believe, to give all his captive component states a just a hint of respectability, once the United Nations was created in 1945…all, ALL, those democracies were created by the upper tier of their societies had created. In short, the elites were telling “the people” what powers they could have, and couldn’t have.
With that one notion in mind, tell me why it is, especially since the Civil War and the sudden rise of new wealthy class from among the manufacturing class (called the Gilded Age) who were not from the original New England blue-bloods who had won the Civil War, and the surviving blue bloods from the southern aristocracies…why was it that they wanted their children to go to Europe to be schooled and to learn the manners of their royals?
This trend began in the 1870s and went on through the 1920s. Actually, it is still going on since we are now being inundated by largely Asian (India and China) technical geniuses, some even into their third generation (I went to college with Indian engineering students) where they had no, zip, zero, nada, formative culture of true democratic institutions. Nor do their hearts go pitter-patter when they see Old Glory, or hear a patriotic song. (I know a couple of exceptions…and remember them in my prayers regularly.) I’ve written several times on this subject, still favoring those poor folks who cross the Rio Grande (without benefit of political sponsors or drug cartels) simply wishing to be “ser Americano”…which for generations was all that they sought. I know several here in Virginia, some now quite successful, and they followed their own track to success. (Clue: it takes three generations, the first once critical, now cut off off by the public education system.)
This piece is intended to serve as a reminder of what happens when we allow the importation of people who serve a different “god” having no connection to the founding principals of our society. Short rule, we’ll hire them, but we won’t let them vote, or even stay a long time, without prostrating themselves on the altar of liberty instead of that ages-old model of top-down supremacy. (see Tech whizzes from China, India and Russia.)
And if you don’t believe me, let me introduce you, as promised, to Herbert von Borch, who was a German journalist in Rome throughout World War II and later a known sociologist and writer, who died at the age of 94 in Munich
He wrote The Un-Finished Society in 1960 in German (before our 1960 election), and it was reprinted in English in 1962 under the same translated title.
The book was introduced with a short 3-page Foreword by Max Lerner, who once again, I would remember and 90% of you would not, and who was a “liberal” only with a different definition of the term I would remember and the majority of you would not. You see, while never a Democrat, I was also a “liberal” of his same general cut until the Democrats turned rabid Left in 1976.
(Recognize this guy? I do.)
For instance, in the 1960 election, Lerner dislikeed Richard Nixon, while, at 15 I simply thought JFK was more handsome. And Max Lerner was big on Civil Rights and that “voting thingy” Dr Martin Luther King had started, as was most of the kids in my school. (We desegregated in 1961.) So, in younger age groups the Cold War played second fiddle to the Race Issue, and JFK’s Catholicism (a different sort of prejudice kids my age disagreed with our parents about) out-ranked our part of America’s dislike for Khrushchev. Analysts all thought Nixon won the debate with JFK on points, but Kennedy just looked so much better than the pasty Nixon.
I didn’t know it at the time but liberalism stood for “looking good” and “sounding good”, and its bottom line was based on the fatally wrong belief that “government could do good if just given the chance”, while today, having been given that chance, we now know that government turns elitist, even royalist, and self-destructive to the nth-degree by its obsessive need for more, and more, and more bureaucracy. Natural Law. But I didn’t learn that myself through on-the-ground experience until my late 40s, after the hard Left had taken over the Democrat Party, taking all the substance out of the liberalism’s message of the 60s, or even the New Deal, when there was at least an effort to do good things for society-at-large
“Kids” like me, by then nearing 30, and having a tour of war under our belts, knew that by the 1980 election, when “the people” got to say “No” nationally after Nixon’s Watergate travesty, followed by Jimmy Carter, so we got Ronald Reagan. And as Baby Boomers, we were America’s largest voting bloc, still more or less allied with our parents beliefs about America.
So, while “liberal” had been run through the blender a couple of times, men like Lerner held fast to the core tenets of their youth, for while he liked JFK and disliked Nixon, he and many other liberals liked Ronald Reagan (and Maggie Thatcher). He even was friends with Elizabeth Taylor…as long as she was married to Eddie Fisher. (The man had a conscience.)
In his short Foreward, Lerner points to both von Borch and Alexis De Tocqueville, “The great privilege of Americans does not simple consist of their being more enlightened than other nations, but in their being able to repair the faults they may commit” which is one the fundamental tools built into the Constitution.
In that vein, Borch gave over an entire chapter, 30 pages, to “Self-Correcting Capitalism” and this from an avowed fascist in the early 30’s. He then did a chapter on intellectualism, stating “Intellectuals are no longer necessarily left-wing as they were in the thirties. (1960 remember). He noted that in the second Eisenhower campaign the GOP set up a committee to steal away “egg-heads” from Adlai Stevenson. And they did quite well to shift many, enough, that the Left could no longer claim an exclusive to the type, especially once William Buckley got hold of it. (The modern Left is still seething that the Right today is “as smart intellectually” considering that we always owned 95% of all the common sense and survival skills in America.
I haven’t read his book closely enough to see whether von Borch measured this claim of intellectualism primacy against economic class, e.g., Harvard versus Swamp State or Moo U Mississippi, but he dedicated an entire chapter to the “deification of society”…which we’re seeing in stark relief today, “if we should be transformed by an industrial society into a research laboratory for industrial purposes”, which certainly appears to be the case, gaining his insights largely from Paul Tillich, the Protestant Christian philosopher, who, having died in 1965, few of you ever heard of. But I did, in college.
And there is discussion of the rise of the Organization Man (1957) as a cultural type, which I’ve mentioned earlier this year.
Von Borch also did an entire chapter “The Self-conscious Eros” about sex mores, that “something must be amiss if this most private of domains invites so much self-criticism”
He finishes his book with “A Reversed Theory of the Leisure Class”, again, remember, in 1960; “…since the Fall of man (at Eden), work has been the content of human existence…Historically, only small groups have been able to escape this fate, and becoming “privileged” have become the “upper classes”. However, in this new era (again 1960, three generations ago) the “alluring and disturbing possibility that society as a whole will become a leisure class.
“While some few who still read Aristotle may see this as a bringing about the Aristotelian sense of the wise use of leisure, others are haunted by the picture of a nation intellectually and morally disintegrating from boredom and stupefied by commercialized entertainment.” Again, 60+ years ago, and we already know where that has taken us.
….and where it will lead, as von Borch would have noted in Germany and Italy in the 30s and 40s…
…Leaving us with a soul that looks like this:
I’ll have to read this book more closely so no, it will not be one of my FREE BOOKS which you’re still free to grab one, while they last, but Herbert von Borch has stabbed a dagger in my heart because I always felt that I was oh so very perceptive since coming to internet writing in 2008, only to find out that some ex-fascist from the 1930s had seen and understood and written about these same issues that are now life-and-death to America.