Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deviltry

GB has some more stuff linking the left to Satan...fine, whatever. The left is about resistance to authority, God is the ultimate authority, Satan is the rebel, fine. Hail to His Satanic Majesty!
"Doubt come from the devil, certainty of truth comes from God."
-- Fritjof Schuon

"œI slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning."
-- Aleister Crowley

The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.
-- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

"I am of the Devil's party and know it."
-- Philip Pullman

"œLest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."
-- Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
-- Satan, in Milton's Paradise Lost
Satan has always been a more attractive character than God, because rebels are cool and God is such an asshole. Aside from suborning genocide, getting all bent out of shape if he's not worshiped sufficiently, and other assorted Biblical atrocities, just look at the people he has speak for him on Earth. Who wouldn't want to be on the opposite side from such people? Perhaps in the old days that would have put you on the side of Satan, these days it just puts you on the side of sanity.

I was looking at Schuon since he's a primary source for GB. He's a theologian with a cult following; a member of a group of "pereniallists" who disdain New Ageists because...well, I can't tell you, they seem about the same to me, but what do I know. Maybe there's some value to his work. But that quote above is a sure recipe for mental disaster. It is almost a parody, a distillation, of the self-reinforcing parasitic brain worm model of religion. No wonder G. Bob et al and I have nothing productive to say to each other. Their entire modus operandi is to reinforce some sense of certainty that they locate in religion, whether it comes from personal experience or elsewhere. They cannot be wrong, by their own rules. Whereas in the world of the intellect, where I like to locate myself, everything is open to question. Conservatives complain that the academy is left-wing; but it seems as if thought itself is left-wing, so it's really not that much a surprise.

I haven't quarrelled with the Gagdadites over their metaphysics or spirituality, just their politics. If they want to hold certain spiritual truths to be as certain as mathematics, well, maybe, I've had thoughts in that direction myself. But apparently even to disagree with their politics is to be in league with the devil.

15 comments:

Michael said...

It is perhaps worth noting that Walter Duranty, whose apologia for Stalin were printed in the New York Times as straight news reportage, was an intimate - in the fullest sense of the term - of the English diabolist, Aleister Crowley, whom you have approvingly quoted. This is independently confirmed both by Duranty's biographer Sally Taylor in her book "Stalin's Apologist," and by Crowley's biographer Richard Kaczynski, in his book "Perdurabo."

The left is "about resistance to authority"? Tell that to the victims of the Ukrainian famine engineered by the Greater Beast who supplanted Crowley in Walter Duranty's affections. Stalin was not a right-winger, nor did he brook any resistance to his authority.

A good description of what Schuon was about can be found in Mark Sedgwick's book "Against the Modern World."

To summarize - the term 'philosophia perennis' was coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) to describe what Joscelyn Godwin has described in his book of the same title as "the pagan dream of the Renaissance" - based on the "prisci theologi," ancient pagan philosophers who were thought to have insights into primordial knowledge that antedated the Bible. For the Renaissance perennialists, the principal authority of this kind was Hermes Trismegistus. By the early 17th century the techniques of textual criticism had been developed to a point that the Greek of the Corpus Hermeticum was determined by Isaac Casaubon to be less ancient than (say) that of Plato, rather than more so. Although some defenders of Hermeticism - particularly the alchemists (e.g., Olaus Borrichius)- persisted into the late 17th century, perennialism had by the beginning of the 18th century become the province of occultism in the modern sense of the term - that is to say, a system of knowledge rejected by the intellectual mainstream.

Although a similar suggestion had been proposed as early as the mid-17th c. by Claudius Salmasius, it was the efforts of late 18th-c. British philologists like Sir William Jones ("Oriental" Jones) that definitively demonstrated the kinship of Sanskrit to the European languages. It is from this period that the concept of an "Indo-Aryan" linguistic family originates. The discovery by Westerners of ancient Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas, which really were more ancient than Plato or even Homer, in connection with the Indo-Aryan linguistic origins of the European tongues, provided a substitute prisca theologia to replace the discredited Hermetica. As Reuben Burrow argued in Jones's "Asiatick Review" in 1799:

"From the aforesaid country [the Paradise of Moses] the Hindoo religion probably spread over the whole earth; there are signs of it in every northern country, and in almost every system of worship. In England it is obvious; Stonehenge is evidently one of the temples of Boodh... The religious ceremonies of the papists seem in many parts to be a mere servile copy of those of the Goseigns and Fakeers; the christian ascetics were very little different from their filthy original the Braggys, &c... That the Druids of Britain were Bramins, is beyond the least shadow of a doubt; but that they were all murdered and their sciences lost, is out of the bounds of probability; it is much more likely that they turned Schoolmasters, Freemasons, and Fortune-tellers, and in this way part of their sciences might easily descend to posterity, as we find they have done."

The connection between this sort of portrayal of Hinduism in place of Hermeticism as the source of primaeval knowledge - what might be called vedanta-perennialism - and the origins of Mme Blavatsky's Theosophical Society ought to be evident.

Schuon was a disciple of a man named René Guénon. Guénon's early career is described in some detail by Sedgwick. At its beginnings Guénon was involved with Theosophy and irregular Freemasonry; he eventually rejected these organizations, without, however, rejecting large parts of their belief systems. He proclaimed himself a convert to Islam and moved to Cairo. Schuon also became a Muslim and claimed to be a sheikh of the Alawiyya sufi order.

Sedgwick's account of Schuon is not flattering, and from my understanding of Guénon, and occasional encounters with his followers, this school of thought is the last thing with which any sensible reactionary should wish to have anything to do. Jacques Maritain sought to have Guénon's writings placed on the Index, and so far as I can see he was on solid ground in so doing. Nonetheless a surprising number of scholars who are commonly accorded serious respect, such as Mircea Eliade and Huston Smith, have fallen within the orbit of Guénonian traditionalism, while others (e.g. Joseph Campbell) were substantially influenced by it.

The squabble between 'perennialists' and New-Agers is best viewed as a kind of family feud, like that between Trotskyites and Stalinists. Their differences are real, although one might find them hard to distinguish at a superficial level. The perennialists are much better versed in their acquaintance with their particular field of 'rejected knowlege' than are the New Agers. A debate between a perennialist and a New-Age type would be as ill matched as one between an old-fashioned Jesuit and some self-ordained blackamoor preacher on the order of Jeremiah Wright. One can recognize the difference in their intellectual firepower even though one sympathizes with neither of their points of view.

mtraven said...

The left is "about resistance to authority"? Tell that to the victims of the Ukrainian famine ... Stalin was not a right-winger, nor did he brook any resistance to his authority. Stalin's rule was terrible, and while it certainly had support from what we think of as the left, it was in no way left-wing. Since you mention Trotsky later on, presumably you are aware that he represented a left-wing opposition to Stalin. Not that he was any kind of angel himself, but to call Stalin left-wing is to drastically misread history.

More generally, the left has had the historic problem that it is very difficult to defeat an entrenched power structure without creating an equally repressive power structure. A leftist 100 years ago had to be as ruthless as Lenin or he would be ineffectual, or more likely dead. I think for the most part the left (in the industrialized world, at least) have decided that ruthlessness is not worth the price, and have thus given up on revolution, prefering more incremental means of social change.

That the Druids of Britain were Bramins, is beyond the least shadow of a doubt...Seriously?

Schuon also became a Muslim and claimed to be a sheikh of the Alawiyya sufi order. Yes, I noted that...which makes the mindless Islamophobia of his followers at OneCosmos somewhat amusing.

...this school of thought is the last thing with which any sensible reactionary should wish to have anything to do.Well, around here that category includes you only. I'm sensible but not reactionary; the people at OneCosmos are reactionaries (although they would deny it) but not very sensible. Why do you say that, though?

The squabble between 'perennialists' and New-Agers is best viewed as a kind of family feud, like that between Trotskyites and Stalinists...One can recognize the difference in their intellectual firepower even though one sympathizes with neither of their points of view.Nice summary, which matches my own cursory impressions.

TGGP said...

Stalin's rule was terrible, and while it certainly had support from what we think of as the left, it was in no way left-wing.What? That is just bonkers.

What is the meaningful difference between Trotsky & Stalin? That the former was more internationalist while the latter thought "socialism in one country" was a better strategy? Trotsky was hardly about "resistance to authority" when he was in charge. That's why I think it is better to think in terms of government vs opposition (in parliamentary terms) rather playing no-true-scotsman with political divisions.

Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you Michael for your exposition of the quakery of the Theosophists. The last time I spent some time on that topic I was explaining the damage they did to Hinduism in mainland India. The damage those Theosophist fools did to Buddhism and Hinduism in Sri Lanka was much more profound however. The last half century of the most horrendous inter-communal violence is a direct result of the corruptions the Theosophists introduced into local Buddhist and Hindu practice on the Island.

And I'll note your solid point on Stalin and the Left. Even in the America, Stalin was the heart trob of the Old Left and an inspiration to the New Left for a better part of a century. Bill Ayers, did indeed plot to force tens of millions of Americans into Gulgas wherein the Weather Underground estimated that 25 million Americans would die.

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Well said regarding Stalin and Trotsky, TGGP

Michael said...

The phrase you quoted from my post to the effect that "the Druids of Great Britain were Bramins..." was a quotation from Reuben Burrow's 1799 article in the "Asiatick Review." He believed this, not I.

The nineteenth-century confluence between perfectly legitimate philological/linguistic scholarship, dubious speculation about racial origins, and occultism, is one of the great watersheds of twentieth-century history. It spawned not only Mme Blavatsky's Theosophical Society and Guénonian traditionalism, but was a major source of Nazism. Considering its importance, there has been relatively little investigation of this historical phenomenon.

If you believe that "to call Stalin left-wing is to drastically misread history," then your point of view is effectively a laevorotary isomer of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's aphorism that "right is right and left is wrong." You can't deny that for a much of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union was the moral model for the predominant faction of the American left - even those who were not card-carrying CPUSA members were substantially fellow-travellers. It is my impression that in the mid-20th century American left, old Norman Thomas was a pretty lonely voice in opposition to this.

And if you don't like Stalin as an example, there's always Fidel Castro, to whom the congressional black caucus just paid a fawning visit, or Hugo Chavez, about whom many Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, have had nice things to say. It would be preposterous to call Castro or Chavez right-wing, and I don't think either of them tolerate opposition to their authority any more gracefully than did Stalin.

mtraven said...

I don't have time for a lengthy reply, but consider this: if the left includes people from Stalin to Nancy Pelosi to Martin Luther King to Abbie Hoffman to Pol Pot, then what is its essence? I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader, and agree with tggp that playing "no true scotsman" is not very interesting. The left that I identify with is the antiauthoritarian left.

Mike O'Malley said...

Michael observed: "The nineteenth-century confluence between perfectly legitimate philological/linguistic scholarship, dubious speculation about racial origins, and occultism, is one of the great watersheds of twentieth-century history. It spawned not only Mme Blavatsky's Theosophical Society and Guénonian traditionalism, but was a major source of Nazism. Considering its importance, there has been relatively little investigation of this historical phenomenon.".

When people stop believing in G-d, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything.
- G. K. Chesterton

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"Organized religion was a primary target of every one of the twentieth century's regimes of terror. But as is evident in Nazi and Communist terrors alike, organized irreligion has proved far more dangerous than organized religion ever was."
- Alicia Mosier - Managing Editor of First Things

Mike O'Malley said...

Martin Luther King was a Republican.

http://www.trustedpartner.com/docs/
library/000143/
Alveda%20King%20article.pdf

Abbie Hoffman was a useful idiot.

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Some thing are alike
and
some things are not alike.
- Big Bird

Mike O'Malley said...

Martin Luther King was a Republican.

http://www.trustedpartner.com/docs/
library/000143/
Alveda%20King%20article.pdf

Abbie Hoffman was a useful idiot.

.

Some things are alike
and
some things are not alike.
- Big Bird

Michael said...

If I had to define essence of the left, I should say it is its detestation of the organic institutions of civil society - tradition (particularly as embodied in the church), family, and property. It is this ideological animus that Stalin and the American left of the mid-20th century, Castro and the congressional black caucus, Chavez and Nancy Pelosi, all share. It is why it is impossible to separate the left completely from authoritarianism.

The paradox of leftism is that it views the traditional institutions of civil society not as supports and comforts, as fortresses of refuge - but as restraints and confinements, as prisons both to body and to spirit. And in order to liberate people from them, it is necessary to destroy them by centrally planned schemes of social engineering, backed by the coercive force of the state! This thinking is common to the left, whether it be represented by Lenin or Obama.

Its origins can be found in the common rejection both by the rationalists of the French enlightenment and the slightly later German romantics, of the idea, central to Judeo-Christian belief, that man is a fallen and flawed creature, limited by nature and incapable of self-redemption. Both rationalists and romantics, in their different ways, believed in the perfectibility of man, and it is from this belief that utopianism - whether it be that of the Bolshevists or Nazis, or that of Abbie Hoffman, springs. There is a great deal of what T.E. Hulme called 'spilt religion' or what Eric Voegelin called 'gnosticism' involved with this.

Leftists of every stripe pave the old path to Hell with their good intentions and mark the result as the superhighway to utopia. Sensible reactionaries know better, and are not taken in by the false signage. We have seen where it ends, all too often.

mtraven said...

King was a democratic socialist, more or less. The thing you linked to is ridiculous -- the Republican party of George Bush does not stand for the same things as the party of Lincoln.

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about "Where do we go from here," that we honestly face the fact that the Movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, "Who owns the oil?" You begin to ask the question, "Who owns the iron ore?" .... I'm not talking about Communism. What I'm saying to you this morning is that Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.

Mike O'Malley said...

Good post Michael

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mtraven said... King was a democratic socialist, more or less. The thing you linked to is ridiculous -- the Republican party of George Bush does not stand for the same things as the party of Lincoln.So say you and the DNC talking points? I didn't expect that historical testamony would withstand the rigors your parochial worldview. But don't flatter yourself. The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is far closer to that of Lincoln than the party of Barack Hussein Obama. Pres. Lincoln would never ever ever bow like a submissive black slave before a reactionary racial supremacist Arabian Muslim monarch!

In fact the Democrat Party leadership of Obama/Reid/Pelosi is more akin to the party of Henry A. Wallace rather than that of Harry S. Truman.

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BTW: don't hyperventilate over this bid of unpleasant truth, but fully two thirds of modern American poverrty is due two Progressive Supreme Court rulings: Griswold v. Connecticut and Wade v. Roe. No one is going to make a dent in poverty in American until fatherlessness is confronted and substantially reduced.

The primary root cause of poverty is modern America is fatherlessness. The primary cause of fatherlessness is the damage inflicted upon America's "sexual economy" by the likes of Griswold v. Connecticut and Wade v. Roe.

Posturing and preening about "(re)structuring the whole of American society" isn't going to do nuaght but damn more and more American children to the underclass. Restoring traditional marraige is the key addressing poverty. If the Left actually cared about the poor and about Black Americans they wouldn't have mocked and dismissed Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Moynihan's findings in the early 1960s:


http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/
history/webid-meynihan.htm

mtraven said...

@Michael: If I had to define essence of the left, I should say it is its detestation of the organic institutions of civil society - tradition (particularly as embodied in the church), family, and property.I'd say this is about 1/8 right, meaning it is mostly wrong.

The left is a child of modernism, which means it is a response to the fact that "the organic institutions of civil society" were collapsing or changing in radical ways since the 17th century or so. The proletariat did not have any organic role in civil society; they did not instigate this breakdown; it was a result of a growing industrial civilization based on a capitalist regime, which required tossing out the "organic" social relations of earlier times. By the time Marx came around, there was no organic civil society left, and the question was what to do with the industrial civilization that replaced it.

It amuses me to quote The Communist Manifesto, which got so much right (Dr. Marx was a good diagnostician but a lousy prescriber):

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left no other nexus between people than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade....The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation.There were certainly those that proposed utopian, from-scratch schemes as solutions to the problems of industrial civilization. These were doomed to failure or worse. I think the era for that has passed. If there's a revolutionary or utopian left around these days it's news to me.

I had my own brush with this tendency when I was briefly a member of a Socialist-Zionist youth movement, affiliated with one of the more left-wing Israeli political parties and kibbutz movements. The kibbutzim were an admirable experiment in non-coercive, non-authoritarian socialism, but their devotion to communal values (such as group rearing of children) has faded with time. Turns out parents like to be with their children; they like their private property; etc. Live and learn.

I am having a little trouble seeing Pelosi or Obama as "detesting" civil society, but then, I'm not insane. King and the civil rights movement were certainly targeting certain organic institutions for destruction, because they were oppressive and evil. But that does not translate to a detestation of civil society in general. The most active part of the present-day left is engaged in building up civil institutions, such as those of George Soros to which you bear an unaccountable animosity.

Mike O'Malley said...

Mtraven wrote, I had my own brush with this tendency when I was briefly a member of a Socialist-Zionist youth movement, affiliated with one of the more left-wing Israeli political parties and kibbutz movements. The kibbutzim were an admirable experiment in non-coercive, non-authoritarian socialism, but their devotion to communal values (such as group rearing of children) has faded with time. Turns out parents like to be with their children; they like their private property; etc. Live and learn.Indeed live-&-learn? Hmmm, I had suspected that there might be something to your responses beyond the dumbing down effects of the US public school system.

My background is working class Irish Catholic Diaspora, however I've got Jewish family with connections that go all the way back to Turkish "Palestine"; and based upon my experience I find that you are in way over your head on a number of things you have been writing about. I think I can help.

The kibbutzim were indeed an admirable experiment in non-coercive, non-authoritarian socialism, and their devotion to communal values (such as group rearing of children) has indeed faded with time. Indeed parents who have been raised in a communal environment do prefer to be with their children. Indeed live and learn. They have! And the children of the socialist communes do indeed like their private property. There are important lessons to be learned here. Socialism is inherently coercive and often oppressive. Moreover the only environments in which voluntary common ownership can be sustained over multiple generations seems to be the family and the monastic religious orders of Buddhism and Christianity.


Mtraven wrote, I am having a little trouble seeing Pelosi or Obama as "detesting" civil societyFish meet water.


Mtraven wrote, King and the civil rights movement were certainly targeting certain organic institutions for destruction, because they were oppressive and evil.Jim Crowe was organic? How so? You might be right; but if so, Jim Crowe comes from the "dark side" of organic, as does dhimmitude... and so much for your faux charge of Islamophobia. Moreover, Jim Crowe, like slavery before it, was and is inconsistent with the higher callings of Christian Civilization and America's founding. Rev. King understood this. Rev. King, like so many Christian clergy over the millennia, was a Christian reformer who exposed oppressive social inconsistency with Christian principles, ethics and values thereby discrediting the oppressor. You would do well to read Dr. Eugene Genovese in this regard.

Michael said...

I do not think the family - what its detractors call the 'patriarchal family,' but which might more simply and appropriately be called the 'normal family' - began to deteriorate in the 17th century or any time so long ago. It survived the industrial revolution, and many wars and depressions. In fact, it was alive and well as recently as my childhood.

Let's recall that when Daniel Patrick Moynihan raised the alarm back in the 1960s about the deterioration of black families, he did so because the rate of bastardy amongst blacks had risen above 30%. Amongst whites, the comparable rate at the time was less than 1/10th that. In just forty years the change is remarkable - not only does ther the bastardy rate exceed 70% amongst blacks, but in 2008 something in excess of 40% of ALL new births in the United States were reportedly illegitimate.

From my high-school years, in a small town in a midwestern state, I cannot remember even one case of an illegitimate pregnancy. Girls who 'got in trouble' simply weren't seen back then. If one did, she was removed by her parents from the local school and community, and sent off to distant relatives or to a home for unwed mothers where she could bear her child in privacy. Such children were invariably given up for adoption. Today, there are schools that have large day-care facilities so that teenage mothers can leave their little bastards with nursemaids while they go off to class.

In the 1950s, amongst people who had any claim to respectability, the stigma attached to divorce or bankruptcy was about as great as anything short of conviction of a felony could be. Today they are commonplace, and no particular censure is applied to them.

It was not capitalism that led to 'tossing out the organic social relations of earlier times,' but an ideologically motivated attack on them that came from the left, utilizing a strategy of moral inversion. Marriage, which (at least in Christian societies) principally functioned as an institutional protection for women and children, was portrayed as oppressive. The natural function of women as helpmeets and mothers was depreciated; to be 'liberated' they had to become like men, pursuing 'fortune's sliddry ba'." Sex was not for procreation, but merely a pleasurable friction of the genitalia; if a baby were to be conceived as the unintended consequence of careless fornication, no problem; the abortionist's curette or suction machine serve to flush the little inconvenience down the sewer, like so much offal.

Marriage is no longer about creating a wholesome snd stable environment for the upbringing of children - it is increasingly about the distribution of such things as insurance and pension benefits, whether administered by the state or by its surrogates. Its devaluation is seen in the push to recognize inherently sterile unions based on buggery as deserving of the same dignity traditionally accorded to procreative ones.

Fifty years of propaganda to such effect have had consequences that three or four centuries of capitalism's supposed cultural contradictions never did. To return to our theme, it is worth noting that Albert Kinsey, the integrity of whose 'research' is now increasingly seen to be dubious, made a pilgrimage to Aleister Crowley's 'Thelema' in Cefalù, Sicily. Like Duranty, there's no doubt about his Ahrimanic inspiration.

As for economic effects, let's consider how the welfare state has undermined the family. Uncle Sugar has replaced the husband and father as principal provider of sustenance for lower-class women and children. This explains the rise in illegitimate births quite handily. And, just as the welfare state has thus weakened the sense of familial obligation at the beginning of life, so it has at its end, as adult children have increasingly abandoned their traditional duty to support infirm parents in old age. Instead they let Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid take it over to the extent they can, while long-term care expenses they do not cover eat up what remains of the old folks' inflation-depleted savings during the 'spend-down' period in an assisted-living facility or nursing home, where they are conveniently warehoused out of sight and out of mind. If by some happenstance the occasional oldster has through a lifetime of enterprise and thrift accumulated a sufficient estate to survive all this, it is punitively taxed. Thus the undermining of the family as an institution begun in matrimony and concluded with patrimony is completed.

The mention of communal raising of children in kibbutzim brings to mind the antiquity of this idea, which Plato proposed in his "Republic." It was an idea he borrowed from the Spartans. Plato was perhaps the prototype of a long line of those, who from the comfortable vantage point of a free society, have made admiring noises about the superiority of totalitarian methods.

And speaking of this tribe - if Pelosi et al. do not detest the institutions of our civil society, why then do they cosy up to dictators like Castro and Chavez?

I can still recall when Janet Reno, who always seemed to me rather like C.S. Lewis's Miss Hardcastle in "That Hideous Strength," caused little Elian Gonzales to be seized at gunpoint, torn from the home of his relatives in Florida, and forcibly repatriated to Castro's island paradise. What did the left-wing editorial writers have to say about this exercise? They cooed dithyrambs about the supposed universal health care and public education in Cuba, intimating that life in the United States was somehow deficient by comparison. Their basis for this conclusion? Why, the Cuban government's published data! This, from people who if a U.S. government official told them the day was light and the night was dark, would demand independent corroboration.