Narratives

I was trying to come up with the whole idea that there needs to be a narrative, some way we see ourselves.

Humans are made only partly of physical being, the other part of us story, a myth that extends beyond us.  We’re none of us stupid – or too stupid – we know where we come from and we’ve seen what happens to the generations before us.

Leaving religion aside for a moment – yes, religion is part of a narrative that encompasses everything around us and extends into the future from us, but it’s not the only narrative – if you look at the normal course of human life, we know we are born, we live, we die, and (in all but very few cases) we’re forgotten.  To a certain extent, unless you’re a king or your name happens to be Shakespeare, we’re all forgotten – even if we’re remembered in some historian’s footnote.  Heck, even most of the kings are not that important.  When is the last time you were fascinated by every small detail in the life of Ethelred the unready?  (Suburbanbanshee, do not answer that one.)

Now why I said leaving religion aside—yes, religion is a narrative that makes sense out of life, and it’s always been there.  It’s still there for those who believe, to the degree they muster their belief – is that there used to be a civic narrative too.  Patriotism.  In the old world, this amounted to the belief that your “race” defined as your nationality was the bestest ever and supposed to recreate the feats of the Romans (Portuguese poems went on about this a lot) or to civilize the world, or whatever.

These narratives weren’t questioned openly, though of course no one but the youngest school children took them literally – no?  Read any books written at the time.  They had as many doubts as we have about the purity and heroism of the past.  They just didn’t obsess on them, and elevate them above the “narrative.”

People might have had doubts aplenty about good queen Bess, but they didn’t tell their children that, when the children were learning the national narrative.  And that meant when the children grew up, somewhere, in the inner recesses of their being, they still took pride in and believed in the greatness of their country and their past.

Then came the twentieth century.  First, the insanity of Germany in WWII was taken as an indictment of all patriotism.  I don’t think this was right to do, just like it’s not right to assume if you prepare for war, you’ll have war.  And second we got deconstructionism and the charming art of laughing or sneering at the past, and thereby – with no accomplishments, no new ideas, nothing to our credit – considering ourselves more important than them.  George Washington?  Pah, he wore dentures, and he was an “ambitious man” and that invalidates everything he did, right?  Thomas Jefferson might or might not have slept with a slave, thereby of course he was an awful man, and everything he did was tainted and should be forgotten.

And so it goes, taking down one by one the giants of the past.

If that fails, if we have nothing concrete to level against them, then we point our finger and say they didn’t conform to our prejudices: they were racist, sexist, homophobic.  As though someone running around their time holding the opinions of our time wouldn’t be killed or locked up.  (And no, don’t tell me our opinions are superior.  No, I don’t agree with them on race or their beliefs about homosexuals – though even in those cases I understand how they formed their opinions in their time – but the entire crazy idea of women being exactly the same as men except where their superior should still get people locked up for insanity.)  And in the rare cases it’s fairly sure that the people were none of those, we can point our finger and accuse them of being rich.  How much could they care about the poor, when they were rich?

What about the people who gave it all, to be ascetics, or missionaries?  Well, clearly they were clinging to an outmoded and intolerant religion, so how good can they be?

 

I sometimes wonder if this is yet another way of salving the wounds of WWI.  Europe looked the carnage they had created in the eye and decided the thing to do was sever all ties with the past and at the same time prove themselves superior.

Like the little kid who found his dad is a secret drinker and runs around saying his REAL father is a prince, we run around telling ourselves stories that make us feel better, but have nothing to do with reality and create nothing new in the world.

And meanwhile the only coordinated narrative is Marxism, which is an evil and a blight onto the world, disdaining humans as they really are, considering all wealth theft, and holding up as its highest ideal the sort of equality that’s only possible when everyone is desperately poor.

How can young people feel inspired to achieve, to invent, to create, when they’re taught the civilization they are born into is evil and that all its ever done is steal from others?  Even though this is patently false, and they should be able to tell by looking around them that no other civilization has tried so hard to achieve prosperity and equal opportunity for all, they’re taught the opposite when they’re very young, and some of it sticks.

So they want to go up to be government bureaucrats; to work at redistributing wealth; to fight the evil “rich” who cause all he problems.

How could we doubt it?  It’s the narrative.

They will become reporters who don’t see the malfeasance of one side, because well, how could they?  These people are against western civilization and therefore on the right side of the internalized narrative.  They become politicians who hate their own homeland and the military who are the means of that land’s defense.  They become teachers who teach the kids to spit on the heads of those who made us what we are because “Racist, sexist, homophobic.”

 

The problem is that this narrative doesn’t conform to the real world any more than the extreme hagiographic narratives of the past did.

 

Look, I’m not advocating lying to the young.  Yes, men and women in the past were human, with foibles and follies, just as we have them.  Great and visionary kings had sexual peccadillos and, worse, sent to the block people they didn’t like.  There might have been cannibalism among early colonists to the new world (out of hunger, mind.)  Yes, the Puritans were rather insane and thought they could live in a proto-communism of sorts. Yes, medieval Christianity had elements of totalitarian political system.

But does Jimmy in first grade need to know only the bad things about the past?  Can’t he be told that so and so financed the discoveries, and that very brave people came across the ocean to settle in an utterly strange land and create what they hoped would be a better way of living, and that Christianity stopped the human sacrifices that were common to the ancients and introduced the idea that man, being made in the image of G-d, is in a way sacred, to all of what used to be barbarous Europe?

Later on in their sneering phase you can let them know about the warts.  And still later on, when they’re coming out of the sneering phase, you can bring them to understand that no work of humanity is perfect.  Yes, these great people had warts, but that didn’t mean they were less great.  No, they were more so, because they were great despite their warts.  And they too – the new generation who surely knows themselves as flawed – can be great, if only…  If only they try to combat their baser nature and look for something great.

Instead, we teach them that there are no heroes, that the narrative of history is one of one man beating the other for a slice of the finite pie.  And then everyone dies.

And we wonder why the kids have no direction?  We wonder why they aren’t getting married and having kids?

The wonder is that the suicide rate isn’t higher.

If you look at it objectively, it is rather childish to pretend that only the dark and dreary view of society is “right” — it is the view of posing teenagers and not adults.  And such an infantile narrative can’t propel a grown up civilization.

The problem with the narrative offered, at all levels, from history to fiction, from science (“humans are a plague upon the world”) to religion (where in most streams churches redistribution is preached instead of charity and using the power of the state to make everything “just”) the whole “progressive” narrative is not only that it’s at variance with real history (any narrative is, to an extent) but that it’s a dark, dreary vision of history that in the end amounts to a condemnation of humanity with all it entails.

We need to give kids – and adults – something to dream on.

That is of course part of the Human Wave project when it comes to stories, but we need Human Wave history, too – history that shows the flaws and the struggle, but which lets the greatness shine through, as something to aspire to.

History that feeds the soul.

The deconstructionist plague has laid waste to everything of value humans do.  It’s time to gather the pieces and rebuild.

 

123 responses to “Narratives

  1. Narratives, as you define them, are teaching tools–a way of simplifying complex concepts for children until such time as they can be replaced by reason. Unfortunately these days, the training in reasoning seldom happens and adults are basing their professional and political behavior on fairy tales rather than facts.

    I don’t believe the problem is that we need new or better narratives, I believe that we need is more grownups who outgrow picture books and learn to think for themselves. Politics, economics, and theology are, I believe, sciences and should be treated as such.

    I don’t buy the argument that the masses should be shielded from the hard work of independent thought by giving them stories to inspire them. I have a very high opinion of human beings, I think that they can and should make their own ethical judgments, based on reason and facts that they determine from their own research.

    • No one said that the masses should be shielded from thought, Misha — what I’m saying is that we still need narratives that inspire. We need to understand that people are not perfect, but sometimes achieve great things.

      • No, you’re not saying that, but I think that is exactly the attitude of a lot of people in the political scene today. The Left is particularly adroit at packaging narratives–the entire AGW “debate”, for example, is essentially Wicker Man economics–those who are unjustly favored must be made to suffer to appease the weather gods.

        The crucial difference between totalitarianism and freedom isn’t in the sort of narratives that each prefers, it’s that the totalitarian system views the narrative as an end in itself, something to replace free thought. Those who favor freedom see narratives as a tool to encourage free thought.

        I think it is important to realize that when writing to inspire.

        • the entire AGW “debate”, for example, is essentially Wicker Man economics–those who are unjustly favored must be made to suffer to appease the weather gods.

          That’s an extremely good way of putting it. That’s why the Leftist polticians don’t even understand Lovelock’s point that the best long-term way of reducing human emissions impact on climates is to convert to nuclear power generation — because such a conversion solves the problems without requiring human suffering.

      • I think it’s narratives all the way down (just like the turtles). We have our national narratives, personal narratives and the daily and hourly stories we knit together into our lives. I think much of my personal narrative was influenced by Heinlein and Nordhoff and Hall, thus my South Pacific adventure when I couldn’t be a Space Cadet. The distrust of Authority in “Red Planet” and “Between Planets” has colored my thinking ever since the 7th or 8th grades – definitely got my mutiny gene kicked into gear.
        We really need inspirational narratives and memes to counter the I-phone and television BS. Some of our young ones need to “Get taken down to Walmart and bought a personality” (Phil Robertson). Their narratives often seem a little thin.

      • The Abolition of Man has its best. The reason needs the aid of the sentiments, which need to be properly trained and ordered to love the good things and hate the bad things, so that our feelings move the right way.

    • Most kids today never get the picturebooks. That’s part of the problem. They have a big gaping hole where “history” and “the story of history” are supposed to be, and so they believe the weird leftist picturebooks they get in college.

      It’s the same way with pretty much every subject, including civics/American government, reading and literature, math, and science. There’s a big whacking lack of any content whatsoever, so people tend to believe whatever random/nefarious crap is shoveled into the info-hole.

      On the bright side, sometimes people get their picturebooks and real history in a back door way. Sports history and hero books tend to include a fair amount of background about the world of the team or the hero. People with craft or mechanical hobbies tend to learn rule of thumb math or bits of materials science and engineering.

  2. It’s time to gather the pieces and rebuild.

    This really ought be the core mantra of the Human Wave movement, in literature, history, culture… Aim for the heart of the whole and build it better.

    Or so thinks my humble, canted brain.

  3. Germany’s patriotism was insane, but Russia’s was just peachy. Yeah. That makes sense.

    Yeah. Thomas Jefferson slept with a slave. He was able to see past the externalities of class and race to love the woman internal. So, because of that, he was a bad man. That makes sense.

    Can it be so simple as fisking the marxist narrative? To illustrate and demonstrate the looking glass worldview?

    • This is why I took to writing historical fiction about seven or so years ago – to reach and teach people about our real history, about the real people involved, not the dismissive PC-numbed stereotypes. We have to know our history, to know that our actual and metaphorical ancestors were decent, striving human beings, doing their best in uncertain and uncomfortable circumstances. Our republic was and may still be a shining city on a hill, a terrific accomplishment, and radical in the very thought that a people could govern themselves.
      I believe that it does something terrible to a people, to be constantly told that their country, their very particular nation is corrupt and racist, that our great national heroes were self-serving crooks, and that everything about ourselves is nothing to be proud of at all. If you consistently and maliciously destroy a child’s sense of pride and self-worth – that is considered child abuse. What about when you do it to a whole people? Isn’t that just as abusive, and isn’t the harm done just as lasting?

    • Can it be so simple as fisking the marxist narrative? To illustrate and demonstrate the looking glass worldview?

      This will work for some, but I think we’ve all met those who are so intellectually lazy and unwilling to consider that the pedestal that their views say they must be sitting on is, in fact, a prison of the mind which is merely padded by emotionally satisfying rhetoric to make it seem less so. They don’t want to consider that man is more complex and both greater and more fallible than they envision, because it would, at some point, force them to look in the mirror and see that the face they show the world is, in fact, merely a mask, and that all their presumptions of superiority are false.

      • One approach to this attitude is to hang them with their own contradictions. For example, when some pundit dismisses 15 million people losing their health insurance as “only 5% of the population” an appropriate response is to immediately switch the topic to “undocumented aliens” or “ID-less voters” and demand they agree that small percentages of the population ought not drive our national policies. As Alinsky advised, make them own their arguments.

        • You misspelled “intestines” funny. As in, hanging the Commissars from…

        • One notes that since the 10% figure Kinsey gave was grotesquely inflated, and valid surveys turn up about 1% — if 5% is minimal, the percentage of homosexuals in this country are only a fifth of it.

          • So it is homophobia to deny a minute fraction of the citizenry the right to marry the person of their choice, no matter how it might disrupt the societal fabric, but trivial to deny the significantly larger portion of the country that wants to keep their @#!$ health insurance?

            We need an emotionally charged phrase for denouncing such rampant bigotry against the fifteen million people who were happy with their private insurance, some kind of phobia … how do you say “privately insured” in Greek?

    • Well, the more important bit is that Jefferson apparently decided that it would be okay not to tell his slaves that they were legally free as soon as they touched France, because that wasn’t anything they’d need to know and they didn’t speak French. (If this is actually true, but I think it was something Adams or one of the other Americans at the embassy in Paris talked about in their letters.) Of course they found out; and luckily for Jefferson they were more interested in going home where their family was, than in emigrating to crazy revolutionary France where heads rolled all the time. But only a “smart guy” could possibly have been that stupid….

      • I have never been a Thomas Jefferson fan. Always found his character to be lacking.

        • And yet I’d prefer him over the current crop.

          • Also, on not freeing his slaves in France. If you read the Black Count… frankly, he might have been concerned FOR THEM.
            Robert A. Heinlein thought well of Thomas Jefferson. That’s enough for me. Both were flawed men. And I wish I were half as good as either.

            • I dislike disagreeing with Heinlein on anything this side of marital boundaries (and for that, well, it depends on what you make work and I don’t especially want to watch you work it) but on Jefferson I have to express the view that the man was a two-faced lily-livered weasel who talked big but betrayed his principles and his comrades.

              I haven’t been reading Revolutionary Era biographies the last few years, but the impression I took of Jefferson from biographies of Hamilton, Adams and Washington (as well as such general period histories as Ellis’ Founding Fathers) was a politician who liked to use cutouts (Madison, Burr, James Callender) to do his dirty work, undercutting political opponents and putative allies alike.

              As Washington’s Secretary of State Jefferson was ultimately a disruptive force in the cabinet, indirectly accusing Treasury’s Hamilton of monarchical ambitions. His support of Callender and Burr helped embed journalistic slander, partisanship and patronage in our politics.

              I don’t buy the Sally Hemmings fable and don’t care about his treatment of slaves (different times, different mores — it is not for me to put on airs over having been born in a “more enlightened” time in which mothers are free to slay their babes unborn and people are encouraged to die “neatly” so that their organs may be harvested for reuse) but as a politician Jefferson was a heck of a good writer. Very imaginative, too, as he demonstrated by discovering the authority to buy the Louisiana Territory in the penumbras of the Constitution.

              I will unhesitatingly grant him credit for kicking the Barbary Pirates arses (well, authorizing said arse-kicking by Stephen Decatur) just as I condemn his extended support for the Revolution in France in general and Citizen Genêt in particular.

              • Jefferson had his good and bad points, more bad than good in my opinion, but that is not an opinion backed by any in depth research. While I think the Louisiana Purchase was a great deal, and overall good for America, as you state its Constitutionality is at best questionable.

  4. It has always been my firm belief that the greatest proponents of the marxist narrative don’t actually believe it at all. What it is, is a fine tool for controlling the masses, justifying terrible restrictions on freedom (just for a bit until we get things sorted out of course), and creating a de facto ruling class of commissars with perks and rewards because after all they are working so hard for the collective that they deserve those few benefits don’t you know.
    The narrative, any narrative, in its extreme is a religion and the faithful will follow along with devotion and complete denial of any reality that disproves their particular dogma. For examples I offer marxism, AGW, and the liberal Democratic party as a few case studies.

    • No, some of them believe in it. Our current president does. And that, as we’ve seen, is worse.

      • William O. B'Livion

        I don’t think he does.

        Note that the *marxist* narrative ends (at some point in the future when outcomes are distributed equally and everyone has a unicorn) with the withering away of the state.

        This is clearly not the goal of the modern left. Their narrative is less coherent than that–it is mostly “we know better than you, so we can tell you what is best for you”.

        It’s going to end like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9A0mzS9pR

        It always does.

    • Sorry to self reply, but to finish my thought…
      Every movement has its own narrative, and the massed members buy off on that narrative religiously. The leaders of such movements may as well, but always look to who benefits. As the saying goes, “Follow the money!” It’s hard for me to believe that folks able to climb to power; Obama, Reid, Pelosi; to name just three actually believe much of the twaddle they spew at the citizens. Can they truly be in that much of a state of denial of reality? If so then Ghod help us. I’d rather think them simply grifters working a bunch of marks, for as history proves, a lot of folks will buy just about anything if pitched by a charismatic speaker.

      • I think you’re right about most of the ones at the top not believing in the narrative of Marxism, but I believe Sarah’s comment above is right, too, that Obama believes it. The reason I think this is because he would not be such a complete failure of a speaker off teleprompter. In other words, if he didn’t believe it, then he would have to be such an accomplished (and SMOOTH) liar, that when he was speaking off the cuff, he would do a much better job, and wouldn’t slip and tell so many accidental truths. He needs to be prepared ahead of time in order to spread the lies that get the ones who are not completely in the tank to go along with him.

      • Grifters are competent.

      • Uncle Lar, I hate to break it to you, but they DO believe it. They have breathe the rarified air of D.C.,so long that they really do. Either that or they have access to some *really* good drugs. =8-0 They no exist in some other universe than ours.

        • I fear that Obama truly believes that if he can convince enough people that a position is true that by shear mass it becomes so. And that of course he can exert his overwhelming force of personality to bend reality to suit. Which might explain why he continues to be shocked, shocked I say, when things do not go his way. Genius, hardly. Had his school records shown a glimmer of talent they would have been trumpeted from the rooftops, not locked away to never see light of day.
          As for Pelosi, Reid, and others of that ilk, grifters they are one and all, and as Eamon says grifters are competent… right up to the point where their house of cards falls in disarray, where the Ponsi scheme cash flow turns negative and fails, but by that time a clever politician has retired or otherwise retreated to a position of safety with their ill gotten gains.

    • For even those that cynically mouth allegiance to Marxism, it provides their only tools of analysis of the world. So their cynicism does not insulate them from astonishment when it fails.

    • “It has always been my firm belief that the greatest proponents of the marxist narrative don’t actually believe it at all.”

      Was it Pratchett who wrote that what the people shouting “power to the people” really mean is “power to the people who shout things like ‘power to the people'”?

      • You have to realize that many of “Teh People” suffer false consciousness and thus do not truly represent themselves because (as the NY Times editorializes in another context) “they don’t know what is best for themselves.” It is only the people with raised consciousnesses who can properly represent “Teh People” because they do know what is best for “Teh people.”

        This logic is brought to you by the same people who adorned their bumpers with stickers declaring “Sarah Palin is not a Woman, she is a Republican.”

  5. Last year, I read Madison’s record of the debates of the Constitutional Convention. And what was striking about it—beyond even the interest of seeing how they worked their way to the governmental forms that seem so inevitable now—was the sheer stature of so many of the men involved. Not just the great figures like Hamilton and Madison and Franklin, but secondary figures like Gouverneur Morris and George Mason that only historical specialists are likely to have heard of.

  6. The narrative has other effects upon our society as well. The whole pollution thing is a hangover from when things were really bad and the Cuyohoga river caught fire. They are still teaching that today and it is why the green peace idiots can still find support

    • Burn on, big river, burn on…

      • BoxOysterBlack

        Burn on, big river burn on.
        The darkness is better than man-crafted dawn,
        So burn on, big river, burn on.

    • Birthday girl

      I keep preaching my “environmental religion.” Which is: global warming is our friend. I ask people, didn’t they teach you 4th grade about the Great Ice Age and the mile-deep glacier that covered most of North America, including the heartlands (especially the heartland where I grew up) … and now we feed the world from crops grown in those very places … so what’s not to love about global warming … but I have no disciples yet …

      • Ask the Brits what they think about the combination of global cooling and socialism. They are in for another horrible winter, with even less electricity than last year (thank you, Greens). There’s a reason the Germans have stopped decommissioning their traditional power plants.

        Re. human-induced global warning (aka AGW). I point out to my students that the temps 7000-4500 years ago (YBP) were hotter and the area drier than it is today (the bison moved out and the people followed). And that we are still looking for the diesel engines, lawnmowers, and other CO2 producing equipment the Paleo-Indians and others were using. It’s so silly that they get the hint.

        • Since they blame cows too, maybe it was the bison. Flatulence. (Although I do think I have seen some ‘explanations’ for why cows are a problem, but the big herds of wild ruminants which once existed were not. Different diets or something. But wouldn’t the answer then be to start feeding cows predominantly hay, rather than getting rid of them?)

          • Yes it is the corn and grain based diet that we feed cows that promotes the CO2 rich flatulence. (probably GMO corn and grain is worse) Beet pulp, which incidentally is used as a supplemental feed fed to dairy cows, produces much lower level of either flatulence or CO2 in said flatulence (can’t remember which). Per animal camels produce much more (I forget how many times more) greenhouse gases than cattle. I’m not sure what they feed camels, beans?

          • Can’t have been the bison – bison are victims, remember? 😉

            I think camels eat anything that the goats can’t reach.

            • Yes, you can talk about getting rid of cows because they are not ‘natural’ and besides we eat them, and we shouldn’t, so if we got rid of them then perhaps more people might become vegans. On the other hand camels and goats might be a bit different deal since they are usually thought of as being property of people in developing countries (well, there are cows there too but anyway). So lets get rid of all the unnatural cows in western countries? (mad cow disease, too).

              Okay, I don’t know if you have had many of those newspaper stories and opinion articles, but there were a few here some years ago, with the idea that we should drastically reduce the numbers of our cows because global, well, it’s not warming anymore so climate change. Nobody addressed any of those other questions. Like, so if it is that big a problem then how about adjusting their diet, how much did wild ruminants produce back when there were a lot more of them, how about third world animals… was irritating.

              • It has been quite a few years since I read those articles, and I happened to be working on a dairy farm at the time, which is why I know we fed a supplement to the cows that were be milked that was based on dried beet pulp.
                Apparently the dangers of bovine flatulence just didn’t register with most people; so the articles faded away.

          • William O. B'Livion

            That’s called “Grass fed” cattle, and it takes more work and/or more land.

            Of course it doesn’t have to be *good* farm land, it can be almost anything that’ll grow grass.

            • Animals here were mostly grass fed – or dried and AIV preserved hay fed, more accurately, most of the year – when I was young. But I haven’t even visited a cowshed during the last couple of decades so I’m not sure if that still holds. You don’t see cows on fields during the summers as often as you saw them back then, so maybe not.

              That AIV method preserved hay, by the way, leaves a noticeable and somewhat unpleasant taste on just milked milk. We got ours from the farm next door until I was in my late teens – was one of my childhood jobs, to walk there with the pail about every second or third day, to get it – and you could tell when they started feeding that stuff to their animals.

              • I’m sorry, what’s AIV?

                • Check Artturi Ilmari Virtanen on Wikipedia. Won the Nobel in chemistry in 1945, the only Finn to ever win, for his method of preserving fresh fodder. The AIV name for that comes from his initials. The end result looks and smells… shall we say interesting, but cows don’t seem to mind. I don’t know it it’s used anywhere but here.

                  • It’s been years since I was around livestock, but we never used anything like that. Air-dried straw and hay, grazing on grass, and a little grain as a supplement. Towards market time, more grain bolstered with malt syrup or the like.

                    • I’m betting winters weren’t quite as harsh where you grew up as they are in Finland. And hay can go bad over a winter even in the Ohio valley, let alone that far north with a much longer winter

                    • If thoroughly cured and then stored in a dry barn it should be good, but you need to keep the moisture away from it. I have seen barns blown up from stacking wet hay in them. I have stacked slightly damp hay in barns before, sprinkling rock salt on each layer, but it is a dangerous practice, and even if you can keep it from heating up you still run the chance of it molding.

                    • Every year or so, someone’s barn will catch on fire because they’ve bailed the hay wet.

                      If they’re lucky, they’ll grab the hay out BEFORE it destroys everything.

              • My mother noticed a distinct taste difference in English butter, based on the differing bovine diet.

                • Yea– there is a taste difference between German butter and our butter. Your mother must have good taste buds and a sensitive smeller … some people don’t taste the difference.

            • My folks raise certified natural grass fed cattle– thing is, cows make very efficient use of a huge portion of our national area that’s useless for anything else… AKA, the national forest. My folks use the forest some, paying a nice chunk, but the forest service is working hard to avoid allowing anyone to lease the grazing rights.

              Want to make cows more grass-fed? Allow the ranchers to give the feds money to put cattle on the land, which incidentally makes it healthier….

              • Sheesh … you say that as if the health of that forest land was any material concern of the Forest Service. It is incidental, at best.

                Next you will be trying to convince me that the mainline Protestant churches are primarily concerned about saving people’s souls and the folks shelling out big bucks for front row seats at the ballet are primarily there to see the dances.

      • Dorothy Grant

        Every winter, a new crop of bumper stickers appear in the heart of Alaska… “Alaskans for Global Warming.” Survive all seven months of winter and you’ll stop asking why…

        • YES!

          Besides, there is good evidence that Finland once (way before the first diesel engine…) resembled southern Sweden and maybe even northern Germany when it comes what used to grow here. Big oak forests and so on. I would not mind getting that kind of climate back.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          There are some of us in Canada who say the same thing, believe me.

      • You can call me a disciple. This has been my quiet thought all through the AGW kerfuffle.

      • I’ve seen the Terminal Moraine in Ohio…

        • There are remnant terminal moraines in . . . Kansas. Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought when I saw them. It’s also a little chilly to walk along the trails or drive the Loess Hills in far western Iowa and realize that you are on enormous dust piles that were blown from near glaciers in Nebraska and South Dakota.

          • and AGW believers won’t believe there’s no warming until the glaciers reach… oh, about the same point.

            (OK, realistically, as soon as glaciers threaten Manhattan they’ll realize there’s no ‘warming’ goin on, but anyway….)

    • The real tragedy of the Cuyahoga River fire is that Cleveland survived.

  7. Reading comments on something like newspaper stories can be so damn tiring sometimes. It seems that about half of the people commenting go by the idea that if something is obviously wrong somewhere (they sometimes throw acid on women’s faces!) all they need to do is to point that our own society isn’t perfect (but some Finnish husbands beat their wives!) and that will mean that we lose all right to condemn that practice. Because we are really every bit as bad. Pots and pans and all that.

    And that finding a fault, any fault, on somebody who got famous because he did things which are generally considered good will mean that they have feet of clay and all their accomplishments are therefore null, when the fault really may be more in the form of a wart or two. And everybody has those.

    And everybody wants to be famous. But if becoming famous by doing something great is difficult, and requires work, and the reward will most likely be tainted by all of those who will then look for your faults with a microscope if necessary (and you can be certain they will find faults, nobody is so perfect they don’t have any – hey, he once hit a classmate!) why bother doing it that way, when it’s so much easier to become famous by doing something utterly stupid, dangerous and maybe evil, or at least depraved – that way you can reap the benefits of being famous (hah…) and nobody can bring you down by pointing out your faults, because you became famous in the first place by flaunting those very faults. Badass! (hah…).

  8. Modern narratives are typically based on identity — look at the reportage of the Duke Lacrosse team or George Zimmerman imbroglios — while the ancient Greeks were inclined to focus on personality flaws, must commonly that of hubris, the mistaken belief that you were Barack Obama.

    The advantage of the latter perspective is that it recognizes a changeable condition. Identity. Our modern hubris is so great that we now presume to transmogrify individuals to bring their physical identity into alignment with their “felt” one.

  9. I see this as intentional and I think it’s even worse than what you’re stating. Discrediting the opposition is a great way to succeed. Think about it. What American Founding Father didn’t do something that the Left would disagree with?

    George Washington: “Firearms are second in importance only to the Constitution. They are the people’s liberty’s teeth.”

    Leftist: “Washington was a racist, slave owning warmonger.”

    Thomas Jefferson: “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people under the pretense of taking care of them they must become happy.”

    Liberal: “Slave rapist!”

    Etc.

    This is not simply about a warped point of view. It is a deliberate attempt at undermining our society by destroying our ideals.

    • As The Alinsky advised, personalize your attacks.

      What you have described is, in direct debate, the rhetorical equivalent of punching your opponent in the mouth. The goal is not to defeat the armies of his arguments, it is to prevent their taking the field.

      It is as much thuggery as the union practice of thumping scabs rather than persuading them of the moral rightness of your position. As Mao taught: power flows from the barrel of a gun.

      • As the founding fathers taught: it flows both ways, it would be wise to know which direction has more pressure before you open the taps.

        • It is part of why the TEA Parties drive them into such paroxysms of hysteria that they’ve over-drawn the race card.

          Imagine a Saturday Night Live skit — if they were not so hopelessly Left-Wing parochial — lampooning the over-reaction to any and everything the TEA partiers say:
          The government needs to spend less!
          Racist!
          The government needs to follow the laws it imposes on the nation!
          Racist!
          The government needs to abide by the Constitution!
          Racist!
          Racist!
          Racist!

  10. Here’s a recent, ongoing actually, real-life example of a narrative taking on a life of it’s own and screwing up it’s host: Actually, the essay is pretty verbose so enter at your own risk. Meme alert!

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/02/the-catastrophic-agw-memeplex-a-cultural-creature/#more-96647

  11. Carl Henderson

    Just remember that Karl Marx was a racist white straight European male, and can therefore be safely ignored by all right-thinking people.

  12. you echo many of the things C S Lewis said in “Men Without Chests”

  13. I wonder if Sabaton could be convinced to write a few HWH speed-metal tunes…. 🙂

  14. I’m late to the party – but I had a discussion with Rogue from the Cruxshadows a few years back at dragon con regarding the song “Eye of the Storm”. Relevant lyrics:

    The pages of our history
    are written by the hand
    with eyes and ears and prejudice
    too far removed- to understand
    and so the heroes of the ages past
    are stripped of honesty- and love
    to make them seem less noble
    and hide what we can become

  15. While on the road over vacation, I was trapped in a hotel room with bad wifi and had to resort to the TV. They had cable, at least, though the least objectionable channel was Cartoon Network and it wasn’t a night for Venture Bros.

    So I’m stuck watching “Family Guy”, which I can tolerate, sometimes.

    Cue the dog ranting about Walt Disney being an “antisemite” and that’s why he won’t go to “Disney on Ice”.

    Now, set aside the 60 years that have passed since whatever he supposedly said or did happened. Set aside that the event he’s boycotting was produced and performed by people who were born after Disney was dead. Set aside the question of whether the accusations against Disney were Soviet agitprop after he blocked their attempt to “unionize” his studio.

    Where the f*&% was this concern just six years ago when we learned that Obama spent a decade attending services at a church that routinely trafficked in antisemitism? If sixty-year-old accusations are enough to warrant boycotts today, how can they support the man who sat in the pews nodding along to rants about the “hook-nosed” and listening to Farrakhan and others vent?

    As Jim McCoy pointed out — the left’s concern for the morality of historic figures is limited only to those they feel the need to destroy.

  16. BoxOysterBlack

    So, for those of us who don’t produce commercial fiction, I’ve got two notions for a game plan:

    – An underground paper. Really get into the whole aesthetic – wear a mask, have a lot of bold line art, write poetry that actually has good form – drive home that the people who call themselves subversives are just saying that to conceal that they’ve become The Man.
    – Stealth education. You know all the fantasy heroes who were deeply influenced by The Tutor Who Got Sent Away? Be that tutor. Offer homework help, or babysitting, or whatever – and then inspire the children to strive beyond what their school expects of them. History, of course, leaves you all sorts of paths. If it’s math, tell them what Rejewski and Turing accomplished with math skills. If it’s science, tell them of Norman Borlaug. If it’s Language Arts, read them part of an idealistic, adventurous story (The Hobbit, The Egypt Game) and then leave the book with them – the surest path to real literacy I know.

    These are just seeds right now, mind. But any help or input is seriously appreciated.

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