Before we vote next spring and next November, we need to read and listen to all sides of all issue that will be presented. “Take back the Right, How the Neocons and the Religious Right have betrayed the Conservative Movement,” by Author Philip Gold should be on your “to read” list. While this book is talking mostly about the party of which I am a member, it should be good reading for anyone. I will quote some of the statements Mr. Gold makes (he lists an extensive bibliography) that I think are noteworthy:
Gold quotes Ortega y Gasset in his book the “Revolt of the Masses” who writes “If you want to make use of the advantage of civilization, but are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization-you are done. For me nobility is synonymous with a life of effort, ever set on excelling oneself, in passing beyond what is to what one sets up as a duty and an obligation.”
Gold says author Bruno Snell noted what happened when the ancients began to question their ways. He wrote “men had very decided notions of what was expected of them. But when human behavior became an object of detailed investigation, many practices which had earlier been regarded as highly estimable did not withstand the pressure of the new criticism.... As more of sections of society became aware of their own merit, they are less willing to conform to the ideal of the once-dominant class. It is discovered that the ways of men are diverse.”
Gold quotes Barry Goldwater “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Goldwater spoke of how “America had lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity.”
Gold tells the story of a young psychoanalyst, new to his trade and ardent about it’s possibilities, who sought the master for advice. According to the tale, Dr. Freud listened politely, then answered: “Don’t try to save people. They don’t want to be saved.” Wise counsel. Then and now.
Gold quotes Alexander Haig, upon being asked by somebody why he talked the way he did, is alleged to have replied “Sometimes it’s better to be not understood than to be misunderstood.” He may have been on to something.
Gold quotes Liberal Sharon Krause as saying “Four features of honor as a quality of character are elaborated: its high ambition, the balance of reverence and reflexibility, partiality, and the mix of recognition and resistance. The substantive codes of honor may vary.
To the extent that we obscure our own aristocratic capacities and liberal democracy’s aristocratic elements, we deny ourselves potentially powerful sources of individual agency and withhold crucial support for individual’s liberties. Those with honor above all else refuse to believe they are victims of circumstances.”
Gold continues “Neocons are, I believe a transient political and intellectual phenomenon. They have no power of their own. A few hold high-level positions but none hold a genuinely inner – circle position, and none of the present crop has ever won, or could win, a serious election.”
When JFK’s geniuses where being extolled to then House Speaker Sam Rayburn, the old pol listened politely and said “you may be right and they may be every bit as intelligent as you say. But I’d feel a whole lot better about them if just one of them had run for sheriff once.”
Gold continues Neocons don’t run for sheriff, or anything else. They are Idea Men. They think Geostrategic Big Thoughts. And they are ever more hated within the conservative movement. Some find their arrogance unendurable. Other wonder if their commitment to Israel might not be a bit too ardent, especially since so many of them are Jewish. Most of the Neocons have the same arrogance that led to Vietnam. Whatever we do is good because we do it. And we can do whatever we please.”
Gold continues “The first generation of Neocons brought to conservatism-or could have brought-exactly the kind of humane aristocratic sensibility and demand for responsible excellence that conservatism needed.”
Gold quotes writer Robert Kaplan from his book “The Coming Anarchy”---a condition demanding the sternest of Pagan virtues and no delusions concerning the redemption of others. There will be resources to fight over, especially oil and water. Religion will also be a global casus belli, especially between Islamic minorities and Christian and other majorities and Islamic majorities from Egypt to Indonesia. In truth, all these struggles, and more, interlock. And since 9/11, and certainly since the United States undertook to redeem Iraq, America has groped for a new way of understanding the world encompassing these struggles, and our role in it.”
Gold concludes “we must take back the right to be citizens, effective participants in the public world. This is how we must learn to live, once again. And this is what; above all else, a new conservatism must strive for.”
Anyway, the book is worth reading. Most of the above reflects my own feeling.
However, there are numerous statements by Mr. Gold that I would doubt.
I’ll close with quotes from Cal Thomas in today’s JS: “Many people are drawn to power less to advance certain policies than for ego satisfaction and future job prospects. Bush needs contrarians on his staff and he should meet with “average” people as often as possible.”
What goes on in our highest ranks of government reflect what goes on in our cities and local communities. Does anybody out there believe that the Civic Federation, The Chamber of Commerce Executive Council, the Peoria Park Board, the Zoological Society, the Museum Board, the Peoria Public Library Board, the Civic Center Board to name some of the most prominent, I’ll exclude political parties and some unions, would have average people or ESPECIALLY people with contrarians views on their boards?
Isn’t the way societies are run is by all agreeing with the ones who have the power and the gold or for those who have other peoples gold with charismatic or “gang type” leadership qualities who can lead people into act of violence; those people who ordinarily wouldn’t smash police cars, burn buildings and loot? For these “leaders” once an idea is conceived, there is no turning back no matter how wrong or untimely the conception.
As you read this, millions of people are planning to rob you, kill you, or harm you in endless ways and turn this planet into utter chaos while a too large part of our citizenry sit slumped at their desks, bored by their teachers and their lives, watch endless hours of mindless Sitcoms and endless baseball, football and baseball seasons. Other millions are working hard preparing themselves to succeed for the benefit of mankind, especially in the United States; people both in this country and all across the world. Many of them do have your best interests at heart; many don’t. Those of you involved or not involved, had better hope we have more students and adults’ preparing themselves to be good citizens and leaders in the United States. Much information suggests we are “losing ground” to many other countries.
My advice; get involved in the politics of this community and this country, hopefully as a conservative and a liberal; of course, in the OLD meaning of the two terms. If you have no interest in your community or your countries politics and promote the status quo, don’t complain about the decisions made by our Neocons, our aristocratic, our selfish and our poor or bad leadership. Try not to make public opinions in criticism of the country you profess to love; these opinions when appearing in diverse medias, give our enemies the backbone they lack. Our enemies use our own words and actions to kill those we wish to save. Many of them do plan ways to kill us; Neocons, liberals, conservatives, far left and far right “leaners” and poor or disadvantaged people. Our enemies will make no distinctions. Sorry.
But we hope we can always keep the right to disagree. But we are obligated to do more than just complain. In many countries such as in the Middle East, you do not have that right even to complain; or many other rights.