After the Apocalypse…


… it’s more or less business as usual, except a bit more so. But it’s been more so, year after every year, for a long time. Cops are still beating people up, when they’re not shooting them, and our great Republic is still dropping bombs on people, directly or by proxy, in the Middle East. Guantanamo is still open for business. Bibi Netanyahu is still welcome in Washington. The jails are still full, and harmless people, seeking only to get a job and raise their kids, are still being deported. Dog bites man. It’s the American way of life.

Polite hypocrisy has certainly taken a drubbing, and various poltergeists and pookas are strutting their stuff more boldly than they used to do — or are they just being reported on more than they used to be? This is always a question. We know they were always there. Are there more of them? Are they bolder? My guess is ‘no’ to the first question, and a tepid dubious ‘maybe’ to the second. But it’s a matter of the second or third decimal place. No landslide has occurred.

— No. On second thought, that’s not exactly true. There has been one very spectacular phenomenon: the complete collapse of American liberalism. Liberals have gone visibly, obviously, staringly batshit crazy. I suppose they thought this wasn’t supposed to happen — as if any fool couldn’t have seen it coming for what, the past forty years? But all their fond certainties about progress and so on have turned to ash, and they are thrashing about like landed trout, indulging in tinfoil-hat conspiratism about the evil Russians, embracing the CIA with tears of joy, and proclaiming the corporate media as unsullied springs of Gospel truth.

Perhaps it’s a case of the latent physiognomy becoming patent; but if that’s so, then keeping the pasteboard mask of rationality in place at least called for a certain exercise of the instrumental intellect, as understood by the high-school debate team, and that’s all gone now. The result is that people who were once intelligent, up to a point, or seemed so, have become downright visibly stupid, and hysterical and incoherent with it. I suppose a shrink would call it ‘decompensation’.

I know people — reasonable people, good companions, skilled in their metiers, and as well-schooled as anybody now is — who are encouraging me to call some rat in Congress to keep Steve Bannon off the National Security Council. The National Security Council! God almighty. After Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, inter alios, what virtue does that infamous body have to lose? Does anybody even know when the NSC got its start? Or why?

No doubt Bannon could end up being worse than the monsters who preceded him, though it’s a high bar. There’s an old joke about how it could always be worse, and there’s no limit to human depravity — turds all the way down, to paraphrase Arthur Eddington’s dear old lady. But even so, he’s just continuing the long-obvious trend. There’s progress for you. The torch has been passed.

6 thoughts on “After the Apocalypse…

  1. Welcome back, Father Smith! Liberals would do better to study the interwar period and how collapse of the Liberal Order (esp. in Italy) led to “sleep or reason” giving birth to monsters. But, that’s a high expectation given how accretion has thickened their skulls over time. One is reminded of the fine opening paragraph from an essay by Emmanuel Terray:

    In a series of mid-twentieth century essays the Hungarian historian, István Bibó, attempted to explain the blindness and irresponsibility that had characterized the interwar politics of the Central European states—Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary—and led them to catastrophe. In doing so he proposed a new concept, that of political hysteria. Bibó’s central hypothesis was that when a community fails to find within itself the means or energy to deal with a problem that challenges, if not its existence, then at least its way of being and self-image, it may be tempted to adopt a peculiar defensive ploy. It will substitute a fictional problem, which can be mediated purely through words and symbols, for the real one that it finds insurmountable. In grappling with the former, the community can convince itself that it has successfully confronted the latter. It experiences a sense of relief and thus feels itself able to carry on as before. Anthropologists have explained the magical practices of ‘primitive’ societies along similar lines. Communities which feel themselves defenseless before a nature that they cannot control will people it with invisible powers—gods, djinns, spirits—that are its masters. At a stroke, these communities provide themselves with a means not just to understand the forces of nature but to affect them, by propitiating their gods with sacrifices and incantations.

  2. welcome back mjs. those rooskie subs off the cost of Bridgeport can get you too, no doubt.

    possibly contact, maybe illegal, maybe not, w/some somebody from somewhere in the Russian state (ce qui c’est toi, Vlad) is suspect. no one gives a second thought to extensive communication w/the state of Israel.

    exhuming McCarthy, as REM sang.

  3. The collapse of American liberalism is fully on display on Facebook, morning, noon and night. Viewable any time.

    Everything that is cloying, insufferable, and unbearable about liberals is in full view. The furious typing — and the mistaking of furious typing in one’s status updates for “resistance.” And the #hashtags. And the Daily To Do’s…the crooks we must call…the petitions we must sign…the postcards we must write. Oh Good Lord, those “Things You Must Do Today”! And the implicit and explicit guilt dispensed if you don’t do all of these things at all times.

    One fiery FBer gives out one assignment after another, and even reminds us that “thinking you can relax at home and pretend nothing is going on is ok…is NOT OK!”

    Such relentless, joyless scolds, day in and day out. Some days, I’m thoroughly exhausted before I finish my morning coffee. I’d actually prefer to relax at home, thank you very much!

    But it’s Lent: a good time to give them all up!

Leave a Reply