Posted by The Happy Tutor
Liberals in the broadest sense are those who write plain and candid prose on the assumption that those to whom they write, or in whose presence they write, are gentlemen and ladies who share a common commitment to fairness, truth, evidence, good humor, good sense, and courtesy. This style goes back to Horace writing epistles from his Sabine Farm as a pal of Maecenas and Augustus. It was picked up and perfected for English by Dryden in the essays drawing on the conversational style of the English coffee house. You see it in the virile plainness of Ben Jonson, and is reflected in news writing of Addison and Steele, who again wrote as if for good citizen friends around a beer or a coffee. You saw the style again in the heyday of the New Yorker in the Talk of the Town columns of E.B. White. And that style with some footnotes and academic starch, dominated Anglo-American arts and letters in figures like W.K Wimsatt, G.E. Moore and J.L. Austin. You see it defended in Swift for sermon oratory, and you see it in the blog of AKMA, in the same easy going high church style, brought down to daily doings of the parsonage, as if Sterne still wrote, awaiting his birth as his father winds the clock. The liberal writes as an honest man or woman to other members of that club, assumed in some sense to be universal. Now, of course, that plain style can be faked. Nothing is easier. The spy can write like an honest man, as can the Terrorist, or CIA plant. Information presented with a counterfeit of openness, trust and candor can be disinformation, as when provided by marketers, lobbyists, politicians, or as a public service by think tanks. The plain style is the mark of Knave and Dupe alike.
I am struck and appalled that so much candor has crept into blogs. My liberal friends play poker with all their cards turned face up. No wonder they are held in contempt by those who are building the case against them, or others like them, for Treason - though of course the case builder would plainly and candidly deny such an interest, except in those growing number of cases where the writer's animosity and tendency to gloat gets the better of his strategic discourse and fake honest-man-persona.
The prose of poisoned air. I learned it, or refused in those days to learn it, at Yale from Paul de Man who wrote under the Occupation in war torn Europe. With what contempt must he have considered his old school Yale colleagues who wrote with the candor of grown children. In fact I wonder if he might not have held even his acolytes in contempt, knowing that for them the dark style he wrote was never to be accessible, not as a living tradition, but only as jargon, since they had not lived a riven life, as he had, and would never play a double game with their own lives as table stakes. Vitia, AKMA, and so many others who should know better write the virile (c.f., Dick Minim) plain style still, the authentic article in age of counterfeits. They have read all the right post-Enlightenment books, but the message of aporia, or the hermeneutics of suspicion, the darkness of bare life beyond reason and justice, while duly noted and commented upon at length, did not penetrate to the core, where style is the man. They are good men and open men still, untouched by the knowledge that grows from the Tree of Good and Evil. They take for granted, as their patrimony, what is now passing away, the liberal tradition of tolerance, of our respective rights to be wrong. They will murmur a mild reproof, only after long consideration, and hedged round with diffident apologies for their self-assertion. They will set a better example all the way to gallows. (May we all.) Not for them the raised voice; the strong rebuke, rather an awkward silence, or a fair minded account, ending in no conclusion, ranged against those who engage - literally - in torture and the repeal of the laws protecting us from it. What our current leaders learned from Nietzsche, Strauss and de Man was far more than the liberals. The businesslike students learned the language of power to achieve power, within a theory that says that all truth is a lie, so who cares, so long as the fiction sticks, like a Brand, or a Party in Power, or a libel undefended.
Darwinian selection will take its toll on the fair-minded. Candor and capitulation are a fine pair. First one, then the other. So Mandelstam having denounced Stalin in a poem, was rounded up and made to write in prison a poem in praise of the President, or whatever his title was, between periods of torture, leading to the poet's death. Treason is not to be tolerated under conditions of ordered liberty and the march of freedom.
Lies in high places? No big deal. Freedom Pens? No big deal. Special Renditions, no big deal. Patriot Act and secret Tribunals, no big deal. No rights for those alleged - I said alleged - to be Terrorists, no big deal. A database of liberal funders, Patriots all, presented with their pictures on a page with Terrorists by a flunky intellectual close to Bush, a hireling in the pay of Bradley Foundation, no big deal. His disingenuous coded speech, gloating in his cruelty and denying it at the same time - no big deal. His mock surprise at liberal reaction to blood libel presented by innuendo - no big deal. (I will assume this characterization is accurate, unless I hear otherwise from Mr. Horowitz. I want this site to be both accurate and fair in the best traditions of liberalism and its ancillary satirical tradition. Happy to make whatever revisions to my portrait of him that he feels are needed. The last thing I want to do is to get on the wrong side of the next Joseph McCarthy, or wannabe.)
What is a big deal? Not your death. Not mine. The fat sewer rat crossing the drawing room with a human hand in its jaws, not to be noticed. One does not notice such things.
So Darwinian Selection will weed out those unfit to survive under our changed conditions of Terror coming and going. May the candid, among them my liberal friends, survive if only because they are deemed harmless dupes, on the irrefutable evidence of their blogs.
Of course what do I know? Tossed out on my ass from Wealth Bondage for kissing the Wealthy ass I am paid to spank. Trying even now to correct the habits and morals of the Rich pro bono publico. Living in a Dumpster, a Pimp without a Think Tank, surrounded by Whores who write like the Gentleman and Ladies of the Street, drinking their tea from a tomato can, while sitting on a sack of garbage. If we take up a collection perhaps we can make $6.50 to purchase a pint of Thunderbird at the local Store of Convenience.
My Fellow Consumers! Here's to Freedom. May it pass us in our misery untouched. History is not for the squeamish. It will be written in whatever style they choose, preferably candid and complacent, by the victors, and liberals are not in the running. Their era is over. Their style is dead for any honest public purpose. They will follow meekly enough, or rise above, whether on the cross or the gibbet - or fall short, when the moment comes. My fellow Liberals, Welcome to the Dump. Here at least we can write like friends, God's spies, as Lear said to Cordelia. Let us cherish these moments together. Let come what may, a Band of Brothers and Sisters, speaking out candidly whatever the cost. Thank God, no one is listening. Are they?