Rising hopes

Here's a view of San Francisco at sunset, from wharfside at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Air Station.


It's pretty close to the end of my trip West, and the beginning of the trip East. For a variety of reasons, it is difficult to be bicoastal, and being away from one's principal residence for more than a month can lead to problems. So, soon, I'll be hitting the road.

San Francisco is a beautiful city, and while I like to make fun of the politically correct tyrants around here, the crazies on the other side who give them fuel also drive me to fits of despair. (San Francisco, of course, has long been denounced as "Sodom," as it still is.)

[Note: be sure to check out the main page on that last link. And "Viva Aztlan," baby!]

Is it "middle of the road" to be sickened by the fact that an intelligent and cultured, free people are increasingly forced to choose between fundamentalism and Marxism? These two obnoxious "sides" of the culture war share a mutual interest in presenting each other as a "choice" facing the country. The major media and the Democratic Party tend to line up on one side, while shrill ideologues (claiming to be the "Republican base") do all they can to make people think the only "other" choice is their "side." "Liberals" and "conservatives" avail themselves of phony and divisive cultural definitions and cheap ad hominem attacks to bully people into belief systems which are logically tortured, and, I believe, un-American in the truest sense of that misused word.

Ordinary people -- the new libertarian majority -- fear speaking up. Yet a new literary movement is emerging. Reading something like this makes me cry:

Those on one side see individuals as rafts on that river of culture, swept along inexorably downstream, perhaps capable of a weak paddling, displacing our paths a few feet from side to side. I on the other hand, and others like me, see human potential as a powerboat, a nuclear-powered hydrofoil, one capable of cruising side to side at will, as easily able to race against the current as with it. I don’t believe people are rafts adrift in the destiny of their culture. I think all people have propellers, whether they use them or not, and rudders too. And rather than commiserating with people about the rapids that they endure and the battering that is their lot in life, we should be teaching them how to start those engines, take the wheel of their own futures, and steer themselves wherever they damn well please.

This issue of free will has been debated since we’ve had language. It’s not going to be resolved on the pages of this humble weblog. But perhaps we can agree on this:

So which view to adhere to: individual responsibility, or the predominance of culture? I say there are vast sets of evidence to prove that both are correct. So here’s what I believe. I agree with the left on this: I do think we are indeed the products of the doctrines that have been fed us since birth. How else to explain the wild differences in human culture from a single species with no detectable biological propensities for intelligence, cunning, hard work or success? The fact that some cultures are free, fair, open, safe, creative and prosperous, while others are cruel, corrupt, repressive and poor – all while using the same raw human materials – means clearly culture plays a predominant role.

Which is why we must all fight, fight tooth and nail, fight to the death if need be, to defend this freakish idea that we are individuals responsible for our own actions. Because when we do, we have taught ourselves how to break those chains of history and birth, energized our own destiny, and inoculated ourselves culturally against the dictates of culture.

We are the first group of peasants to transcend the idea of peasantry. Here in America, in the words of the often-despicable Huey Long, Every Man a King. We are, as a direct consequence of this philosophy -- the belief that the common man can be trusted to wield great responsibility -- the most successful, creative, powerful, wealthy and free individuals who have ever lived. We are, indeed, in the words of a man who understood more about human freedom and its costs and responsibilities than any of us, “the last, best hope of earth.”

Indeed. And I truly believe that right now bloggers like Whittle are the last hope of the last hope. The staunch ideologues who demand Americans kowtow to their respective "dictates of culture" are frantically painting from a phony spectrum onto a phony canvas, which they attempt to sell as liberal versus conservative, or "the Culture War." Nothing could be more insulting to a free people than the demand that they choose between one reverend's phony rainbow or another reverend's "Party of God." May the sun set on them soon!

I'll probably be out of commission for a few days, but I am glad the sun never sets on the blogosphere.

posted by Eric on 08.22.03 at 10:15 AM


The "Jewish/Homosexual Agenda in the USA". I love that. I love it when these Nazis are at least honest and explicit about what they are. I love Rev. Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates America", and Robert T. Lee of "AMERICA'S CONSTITUTION PRODUCES HOMOSEXUALITY!" Far better than the cowardly, dishonest "hate the sin, love the sinner" crowd who wrap themselves in "The Family", Jesus, the Founding Fathers, and Martin Luther King.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  August 22, 2003 1:10 PM

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