An Epistle From Sam Anderson to the Defeatists
[Lifted with permission but under protest from one of Sam’s comments in a private FB group]
Oh, damn it all, Mr.B., we’re STILL a proud people. We just lost the cold war, is all.
We thought to beat the Soviet Union all we had to do was, well, beat the Soviet Union. We didn’t appreciate that we had to beat the ideas that made the Soviet Union suck as bad as it did over the head, repeatedly, every time they came up.
We ought to have played the indoctrination game with the kids, but of course we never would have because the individualists failed to organize. We had other things to do. Meanwhile McCarthy, for all you can argue implementation or means, was probably right. [Heinlein thought so. I know what others of you have said, but I’ll defer to Mr. Heinlein in this. – SAH]
Yeah, we fucked up. Even a proud people can fuck up. Remember that (and if you have kids, make sure they remember it too). But you can’t actually KILL us for the same reason we couldn’t kill the awful ideas of the soviet union. American is someTHING you are, it’s someONE, you are, but it’s not someWHERE you are. Long before occupy, the American people themselves were an occupied nation, ruled by an elite which wanted to cut off us and stick on us whatever made us look more like the home of their heart- Europe. Liberals do not hate the US. They hate *US*. Their fellow European expatriates-but-for-an-accident-of-birth living in DC they like just fine.
And that goes for you too, all of you who would Burn It All Down.
I respect y’all, but you’re indulging in my most despised of all myths, the “from the ashes” mythology- If only the mess gets big enough, then we can purge the demons and start fresh.
But no, more likely if the US ends up a giant mess, then what we end with is a giant mess. A giant, STICKY mess, the kind you or I aren’t likely to see the end of. Maybe the kind that no one who ever met someone who knew us will see the end of. Because to make the kind of mess that myth requires takes a swing so far the opposite direction that the effect is still Hell. In effect we kick Satan and get the Prince of Darkness, or perhaps the devil. Or if it went totally, completely and thoroughly tits up, and shattered like a glass vase, you’d get dozens of tiny, vulnerable Nation-States. Oh… and a vacuum of the magnitude that’d give Dyson engineers wet dreams and probably inspire a little crush in black-hole theorists.
None of which probably matters, because it’s an unlikely scenario, which is probably good on balance. You can’t just break something the size of the US, something around which so many political planets are spinning, and not have the whole solar system go shooting off into the void. Even when things got to rights, just as there was only passing resemblance between Roman civilization and Middle-Ages Europe, it’d never be the same.
I don’t think it’s going to go to those extremes. We shall likely be denied even catharsis. It’s not going to be good, understand, but there’s nothing to be gained in willing it worse.
Besides, here’s the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen:
1) YOU are America. You are the people that carry the torch and the ideas. We weren’t ever about land, and we weren’t about ethnicity, we were only ever about the ideas, and ideas are mobile things. PLEASE stop waiting for America to come around like this is some star-spangled production of “Waiting for Godot”. Don’t think of her like a promised land to be unlocked by the ultimate sacrifice. Stop looking for the spontaneous political process by which she’ll be magically reborn, let alone designing it. She did not leave. She lives, dies, exists, or does not exist, entirely on the weight of your actions.
2) Understand — and take to heart in — that you are the intellectual inheritors of a legacy of men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, for something that so far as they knew would burn out before their lives were over. Go back and read some of the things they said. That famous Ben Franklin quote, “A republic… if you can keep it”, was a pretty good gloss on the attitude.
There were a lot less of them than there are of us- they had reason to fear they could all be killed. This whole “America” thing was always edgy, always the cause celebre of rebels, always a little crazy and always going to be hard. If it peaks as a nation that does great things for the world for a while, damn it, the ideas can peak again if you’ll only keep them alive. If you’ll only KEEP the tradition. And Americans do not let it burn even if it seems hopeless. I know it seems pointless to fight. You know what? Maybe it is. But it’s also part of who we are, and if we lose everything else in this we can’t lose that. You can’t be free if you can’t stare down a well-armed tyrant.
BY THE WAY, and speaking of losing everything, remember a lot of those early Americans lost much of what they put on the line without the help of the fire, even though their little project survived the first buffets of history.
They didn’t just make the bet, as far as their lives were concerned a lot of them lost anyway. They didn’t even know if they’d have a proper country to despair of the prospects for, but oh, no, WE’RE the ones who have it bad. Now consider the mindset of a person in the continental army with next to no G*ddamned training facing down the world’s greatest army and the world’s most evil mercs with no help in sight, no supplies to speak of, and every expectation of coming out of this not just dead but VERY dead… who even so went on fighting. That’s the chain you’re at the proximal side of. And even so, you… you, of all Earth’s people, from this admittedly proud and rare nation… you’re not just admitting defeat but bidding it hastened?
I know this post is long. I’m sorry. I’ve boiled over. I’m sick of this. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but damn it, staying alive is a coherent strategy, even if it doesn’t inspire people to line up behind the banner. And it beats the Hell out of rolling over and dying.
[ And also I’d like to add to Sam’s rant above: DO NOT mistake the government for the country. That’s the mistake the other side makes. Yes, we might lose these elections, or any number of them. Don’t give up. Build under, build around, build over. And teach your children well. Your life, your fortune, your most sacred honor, did you think they were just words? Did you think it would be easy? Did you think this was just a game?– SAH. ]