Utopia doesn’t exist

Israel Wayne takes staccato shots at some of the top utopian myths:

Here are the Top Ten Utopian Myths, in no particular order:

Myth 1. Life would be better if everyone had the same income and/or resources.
Truth: A totally classless society is impossible. All attempts at socialism (forced redistribution of wealth) have resulted eventually in overall collective poverty (and an insanely wealthy oligarchy who steals from the public).

Myth 2. If we could only communicate better, then we would understand each other, and we would all get along.
Truth: If we truly understood what everyone else really believed, we might like each other less!

Myth 3. We can legislate our way to a perfect and peaceful society.
Truth: All law is an imposition of an external standard on someone who doesn’t want to embrace it. The problem is not a lack of legislation, it is that many people desire to do things that are harmful to others, and they always will. In case we haven’t noticed, criminals do not obey the law…  (emphasis added)

Read the rest here.

Our utopian dreams are a reflection of our deep understanding we were meant for a better place than this fallen world.  We have the power to change our own individual behavior.  We don’t have the power, individually or collectively, to create a perfect society.  That hasn’t kept humanity from trying, often at great cost.  We need to live as much like Christ as possible in this life, and rely on His promise of a future where there is no more “mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.”  Ironically, such “living forwardly” provides the best possible solution to our present circumstances, to the extent we embrace it:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”                   — C.S. Lewis

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Substituting factions for faith

A person’s life is meant to have meaning, and for that meaning to derive from a relationship to their Creator.  It’s no surprise, then, that those who reject God are driven to seek meaning anywhere they believe they can find it.  Some turn to self-destructive vices in an ever-more-vain pursuit of moments of perceived happiness.  Other alternatives, though, while not as immediately and physically destructive, ultimately lead to the same futility.  One important current example is in our political climate.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning…

But none of this material progress beckons humans to a way of life beyond mere satisfaction of our wants and needs. And this matters…

[S]ocial-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “g–damn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind… This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity.

This is why they are so hard to reach or to persuade and why nothing that Trump does or could do changes their minds. You cannot argue logically with a religion — which is why you cannot really argue with social-justice activists either. And what’s interesting is how support for Trump is greater among those who do not regularly attend church than among those who do…

And so we’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults… And this is how they threaten liberal democracy. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual, they believe the ends justify the means, they do not allow for doubt or reason, and their religious politics can brook no compromise.

I found these to be interesting thoughts, particularly coming from a writer who seems to believe he can reconcile his Roman Catholic practice with being an openly gay political pundit.  One of my first thoughts is that perhaps the Spirit is getting through to him.  I hope that’s the case.  He is correct about politics replacing theological faith as a source of meaning in our culture.  He is also correct about the effect of that on both Left and Right.  I supported Trump in 2016 because I thought that, even with his personal baggage, he’d do less damage than Her Hillariness.  I still hold a modest hope that he’ll be able to enact long-lasting reforms in some critical areas.  But unlike other Trump supporters I’ve encountered (who’ve made me very uncomfortable at times), I do not see him as America’s secular messiah, and I remain well aware of his flaws.

Sullivan may or may not have grasped the deeper point of his ponderings.  Reading the entirety of the piece, I’m not sure.  He compares the “Great Awokening” of modern times to the “Great Awakening” of old.  Only if we have another “Great Awakening” will our people once again channel their energies toward pursuing Christ.  And it is that pursuit that produces the fruit which previously sustained our society.  May God grant us revival, from “Awoke” to “Awake.”  As we’re painfully finding out, finding our identities in anything other than Him is a very poor substitute indeed.

Some reflections

Most of the government is shut down today, in an homage to the late President George H.W. Bush.  Americans have been encouraged to reflect on his life.  So I will.  But first, a keen observation by another that mirrors my own thoughts:

It is in no way to insult George H. W. Bush — or any other president, for that matter — to ask whether the retooling of their calendars is an appropriate way for the people of a republic to respond to the death of an elected representative. Tomorrow, the press reports, is to be a “day of mourning” — a day on which the stock market will be closed, on which the federal government will shut down, on which the House of Representatives will begin a week-long break, on which various universities will cancel classes, on which the Postal Service will halt deliveries, on which the Supreme Court will adjourn, and on which major American newspapers will postpone events that they had previously planned to hold. Across the U.S., flags will be flown at half-staff for a month.

Why? Irrespective of whether he was a great man or a poor one, George H. W. Bush was a public employee. He was not a king. He was not a pope. He did not found or save or design the republic. To shut down our civil society for a day in order to mark his peaceful passing is to invert the appropriate relationship between the citizen and the state, and to take yet another step toward the fetishization of an executive branch whose role is supposed to be more bureaucratic than spiritual, but that has come of late to resemble Caesar more than to resemble Coolidge.

Well said, Mr. Cooke.  I’d also add that the current practice of naming $1 billion warships after presidents has the same effect.  (Why not return to naming carriers after famous battles/events in U.S. history?  Honor the many who fought – not the ones who gave the orders from a fortress in D.C.)  Presidents do have an impact on the course of history, and their lives are worth remembering and examining.  But in a Republic, they should not be revered.

So what about Mr. Bush?  Politics aside, I submit his greatest legacy and example is in the 73-year marriage he shared with Barbara — the longest marriage of any president.  This marriage survived the death of a child, issues of depression, and the rough and tumble of political life.  Our nation could use many more such examples of love and commitment.

I have mixed feelings about Bush’s presidential legacy.  Clearly he had a successful foreign policy run.  Desert Storm restored a large measure of faith in the U.S. armed forces that had been missing since Vietnam.  Almost 30 years later, though, one could argue America fell inappropriately in love with its high-tech military, to the point of misapplying it to problems that are not intrinsically solvable by force of arms.  Where Bush’s legacy is likely greatest, though, is in his handling of the end of the Cold War.  As the Soviet Union collapsed, and with it the Warsaw Pact empire, it was by no means a foregone conclusion the great transition would be a peaceful one.  The Bush administration navigated a failed coup against Gorbachev, Yeltsin’s populist revolt, and the thorny question of what to do with Germany after the Berlin Wall fell.  It was not an amateur’s hour, and the nation was fortunate to have at the helm what might have been one of the best-prepared presidents for such a time.

Despite such impactful success on the international stage, Bush was unable to translate the political capital from it to impact issues at home.  Exiting the Gulf War with an approval rating of almost 90 percent, within months his inability to articulate “the vision thing” as he put it, cost him support in an America facing economic turmoil and uncertainty in a post-Cold War world.  As the 1992 election cycle began, six words came back to haunt him: “Read my lips.  No new taxes.”  Only 18 months into his presidency, Bush relented on that pledge as part of a deal that was supposed to include spending cuts.  Predictably, the taxes rose.  The cuts never came.  Once again, the Democrats’ Lucy had yanked the ball away from Charlie Brown, and Bush looked foolish for having trusted his political opponents, who gloated over the misstep.  Coupled with his reference to a “new world order” in the wake of the Cold War, the tax issue cost him dearly among fiscal conservatives and those wary of international entanglements.  This opened the door for the challenge by Ross Perot, who pulled enough support away (including, I regret to say, my own vote) that Bill Clinton was elected president.  Comparing the two men’s resumes, it’s laughable to think America would reject Bush in favor of “the man from Hope, Arkansas.”  But as I’ve pointed out on this blog, critical decisions are made more often on emotion than reason, and in this case Clinton connected with people in a way Bush did not.  And so it was that two of the most conniving political creatures America has ever produced — Bubba Bill and Her Hillariness — entered the White House, beginning a three-decade-long spree of influence peddling and assorted other nefarious activities.

It’s worth noting, however, the letter Bubba found in the Oval Office from his predecessor:

Jan 20, 1993
Dear Bill,
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good luck — George

That last line should serve as a model in our electoral system, which has devolved into political total war against those who disagree.  Since that transition in 1993, both Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of wanting to see a president from “the other side” fail, seeking political opportunity regardless the cost to the country.  We need to relearn the ability to stand firmly on principle while still extending an open hand to those of good will and honorable intentions.

We also need to regain the discernment to tell those honorable opponents from charlatans and snake oil salesmen.

Politically, I’m even less of a Bush family fan than I was in 1992, in large part due to what I believe to have been wrongheaded policy by Bush the Younger after 9/11.  Despite all that, I offer my humble condolences to that family on the passing of a man who, regardless any political faults, was clearly a devoted husband and father.  May our nation be blessed to have many more such men.  And may we continue to remember that even when they occupy the highest office in the land, they are still just that: men.

Facts versus feelings

The issue of illegal immigration is an emotionally charged one.  I believe far too many of our leaders enable its continuation due to cynical political calculations: if the American people won’t vote them greater powers, they’ll import a people who will.  But for the average citizenry, those who support the continued entry of hundreds of thousands of migrants each year are largely driven by genuine compassion.  Indeed, it’s hard not to compare the conditions many of these people are leaving to those in the U.S. and not feel a sense of obligation to help.

That is why dispassionate examination of the facts of the matter is absolutely essential.  Simply put, this ongoing, unprecedented wave of migration is demonstrably harmful to the citizenry already living within the United States:

A majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation.

In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it…

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates. Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized. While barriers to welfare use exist for these groups, it has not prevented them from making extensive use of the welfare system, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children,” added the Washington-based [Center for Immigration Studies].

The numbers are huge. The report said that there are 4,684,784 million non-citizen households receiving welfare… Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).

The American people have historically been a generous one, no doubt in large part to the legacy of Christian charity.  The current level of charity, however, is both unsustainable and unfair to the Americans who have paid into various systems like Social Security and are now unlikely to realize their promised benefits because those funds went to others.  The injustice of transferring wealth from citizens to those who have entered the country (legal or illegal) only to become a burden on it should be obvious.  Given the fact the United States is already flirting heavily with insolvency, carrying trillions of dollars in debt and routinely hearing warnings about Social Security and other programs running out of funds for promised benefits, it’s clear the current situation cannot be tolerated.

The soothsayers who want to allow the status quo to continue try to shame concerned Americans by pointing to our history as a ‘nation of immigrants.’  In doing so, they omit certain critical data points:

  • Past waves of immigration, such as the early 1900s, were conducted according to strict legal protocols, requiring processing at such places as Ellis Island.  It was not a free-for-all “rush for the border” as we have today.
  • Previous immigrants had to prove, among other things, that they had the means to be self-supporting.
  • Previous sources of immigration were mainly from Western European nations with at least a tenuous connection with the English social and political context that framed the United States.  Today, not so much.  (Note the dramatic change on this animated map, both in terms of volume and sources of immigration, starting about 1970.)

This is not to say that individual people from other parts of the world are any less human. It acknowledges, however, that culture is an essential facet of any country, and is not easily discarded in favor of a new worldview. In short, we have allowed alien ways of thought to establish themselves among us, with major implications for the future of our Constitutional heritage.

Much, if not most of our current inflow of people is from Latin America.  Is it not prudent, then, to examine the fact Latin America is “the murder capital of the world?”

With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for roughly a third of global murders. It is also the only region where lethal violence has grown steadily since 2000, according to United Nations figures. Nearly one in every four murders around the world takes place in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. 

The linked article goes on to note most of these murders are never solved, a result of the very weak legal systems and lack of accountability that exist in most of the countries south of the Rio Grande.  Gangs like MS-13 represent the effective local authority, and it should be no surprise that as we continue to receive large numbers of people from this area, that the established gangs export their influence north with it.  It’s understandable to want to help people fleeing such lawlessness.  But such an impulse has to be tempered by at least two questions:

  • Given the pervasiveness of violence and lawlessness, are we willing to import the entire populations of countries like El Salvador or Honduras to allow their people to escape it?  For how many nations are we willing to do this?
  • Does it do any good to permit large-scale immigration from this region that results in importing to the U.S. the very social problems so many profess to be fleeing?

The first duty of any legitimate government is the protection of its own citizens, not provision to outsiders.  Yet many of our leaders seem to turn that on its head, viciously attacking and slandering any who then question their priorities.  In turning the U.S. into the world’s charity, we have forgotten a warning given to us in the famous parable by C.S. Lewis:

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

Indeed, the benevolence we think we bestow when we allow people to move to America only to become trapped in ethnic enclaves as wards of the state, is indeed largely imaginary.  Worse, it breeds understandable resentment among citizens who see their job prospects (see: H1B) and sources of public support diverted to newcomers, many of whom already broke our laws just coming here.

Our commendable compassion is being used to subvert us, and it’s well past time that stopped.  It isn’t compassionate to destroy one’s own nation trying to provide dubious help to others.  Universal birthright citizenship and the resulting “anchor babies” need to go, as does the vast majority of immigration of any kind for the foreseeable future.  When the lifeboat is already leaking and listing as the U.S. is, it’s suicidal to keep adding to the passenger list.

A view from the ground

Given that a large portion of the ‘migrant caravan’ crashing against our southern border is from Honduras, it might be useful to hear from someone familiar with conditions in that country:

I am not involved in politics but would like to present to you a new perspective in regards to the current immigration crisis based on our daily life and experiences on the northern coast of Honduras. I speak fluent Spanish and live alongside Hondurans every day in the workplace, in the local community and in the most intimate corners of my own home. Although I will never be able to change the color of my skin or re-write my cultural history, I do know and love the Honduran people and have lived in this culture my entire adult life…

Some are indeed refugees seeking legitimate asylum. But others are simply fleeing generally difficult (but not dire) conditions, or have simply chosen what seems to be the easier route of escape. It is not impossible to forge a humble living in Honduras (over 9 million Hondurans survive in this culture every day), although it is true that much corruption, lack of opportunities and violence abound…

We who are on the frontlines in Honduras have offered high-quality free education and character formation in the Living Waters Ranch school we operate out of our rural homestead to over 100 at-risk Honduran youth in the past five years. More than half have walked out because they admittedly had no interest in studying or preparing for the future. This type of apathetic attitude is common among youth in our area…

Honduras is in desperate need of reform and an effective judicial system as it is overwhelmingly true that injustice and violence reign. But that does not mean that the solution is for Hondurans to flee the country illegally…

If the United States accepts the several thousand immigrants in the caravan, there are still over 9 million Hondurans living in what those who have fled claim to be unbearable circumstances on Honduran soil. What good can be brought about by extending help to a very small percentage who present themselves as refugees unless wide-scale change will be brought about by and for the masses who have stayed behind?

The natural bent of human beings is to travel the path of least resistance.  That’s why upholding standards is important — to incentivize desired outcomes and deter undesirable ones.  Right now our squishy enforcement of immigration law means that for many, trying to jump the fence in Tijuana is far easier than organizing to try to improve conditions at home.  A major problem is that this wave of invaders is bringing with it the very cultural patterns that facilitate those conditions in the country they left, such as a lack of planning for the future, a disregard for law and order and a willingness to step on others to achieve what one has not earned on their own.

None of that is to say that individual Hondurans are somehow subhuman or unworthy of a better life.  (For the record, my wife and I sponsored three children in Honduras for about a dozen years through Compassion International).  The problem here is collective culture.  The roots of Latin American culture are inarguably different from those that resulted in the formation of the United States.  Indeed, the cultural path from which the United States descended is different from just about every other part of the world, save certain portions of Europe (which, tragically, are even farther along in the process of abandoning it).  We are justified in saying to those sneaking in for the benefits that, in the words of a former President, “you didn’t build that.”  They don’t sustain it, either.

Politics, it is said, is downstream from culture.  That’s why the emphasis on multiculturalism in the U.S. over the past half century has been so destructive: it is eroding the foundation upon which our social norms and system of governance rest.  We have been inundated with new arrivals who do not understand why our nation has been so successful, and have little to no desire to learn.  They just want the U.S. to subsidize a lifestyle their own cultures couldn’t produce.  Trouble is, as more such people arrive, it is transforming our own culture in such a way we may not be so successful for much longer.

Being a compassionate nation is praiseworthy.  But there is no compassion in taking away the birthright of one to hand it to another.  Those who profess sympathy for the plight of Hondurans have other options available to them.  The author of the linked piece is far from being the only American to forego the comforts of home to invest their life with another people.  Missionaries have done so for decades — centuries, even.  The difference is that in the past a consciously Christian West was sending them out and sustaining them to bring to others the light of Christ, from Whom all other lasting blessings flow.

Now, however, the “bleeding hearts” follow their own path of least resistance: “it’s easier to help by just letting in anyone who wants to come.”  That attitude is indicative of the same short-sightedness and willingness to step on the rights of others that hobbles many other countries around the world.  It is treating the symptoms, not the problems.  For many, it’s also a cynical move to “elect a new people” more amenable to their political agenda.

Everyone has the right to take personal action to help another.  No one has the right to subsume an entire country in aliens just to feed their self-esteem or lust for power.

The morning after

In an unsurprising (but disappointing all the same) development, Americans have handed control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats for the next two years.  Republicans, however, have tightened their grip on the Senate, picking up seats there.  My initial thoughts:

  • Pelosi, Waters and their crew will use their restored subpoena power to make the administration as miserable as possible until 2021.  Buckle up for the ugliness.  That said, Democrats are probably regretting the precedents Obama’s administration set of ignoring such requests from Congress.  Trump won’t have forgotten that.  What goes around…
  • Retaining control of the Senate means the administration can continue building what may be Trump’s most enduring legacy: resetting the Judiciary by appointing judges who view the Constitution through an ‘originalist’ lens and are less likely to engage in policy direction by judicial fiat.  The impact of these appointments will be felt for decades.
  • There will be no funding for a border wall any time soon, unless Trump tries to coopt Defense Department money through Executive direction.  At the same time, the Senate will be able to prevent Democrats from undoing very much of the last two years (tax cuts, deregulation, etc).
  • There are still strong rumors (especially from the “Q” quarter) that ongoing investigations into prominent Democrats may soon yield indictments and the full declassification of the FISA court shenanigans.  One theory is that Trump held off pulling the trigger on these so as to avoid accusations of politicizing the investigations during an election cycle.  If true, that’s likely a wise move.  It also means the Democrats may soon be more on the defensive than their win of the House would normally indicate.
  • It will be instructive to see what independent counsel Robert Mueller’s next move is.  He, too, is said to have held back during the election season.  With that over, I suspect he’ll be under increasing pressure from both sides to show his hand and “put up or shut up.”

In short, while disappointing, I don’t yet see last night’s results as a full-blown disaster.  As many pundits noted, the President’s party usually loses seats in Congress during his first midterm election.  There is one ominous thing to point out, however.  Overall the Democrats ran a much more openly leftist/globalist agenda this cycle… and they still picked up considerable support.  That a candidate like Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke could challenge Ted Cruz so strongly in Texas is not a good long-term signal.  Nor is having Florida’s gubernatorial and Senate races within a percent of each other.  (Related note: the vast majority of Beto’s funding came from outside Texas, something that in my mind should be prohibited.  Residents of one State have no business trying to buy elections in another one.)  We are a deeply divided nation with two incompatible worldviews vying for dominance through government force.

Demography and the long-term effects of leftist indoctrination in our education system are having the intended effects.  That’s why this Trump period is so important.  So far it has been the only successful push back against the Left’s “long march” of the past three decades.  But unless traditional Americans break the lock the globalists have on the education of the next generation, it’s only a matter of time before an ignorant population rejects the birthright their ancestors worked so hard to achieve.

“When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”  Adolph Hitler, May 1937

A reminder: vote

…and vote against this kind of thuggary (list courtesy of Instapundit):

Joe Manchin: Struggle Not to “Beat the Living Crap Out Of” Republican Opponent

Hillary: ‘You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.’

Former Attorney General Eric Holder: “Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

Politico: After failing to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats wonder if it’s time to be more ruthless.

Democrat Doxxer Threatened To Reveal Senators’ Children’s Health Information.

DC restaurant: We’ve received death threats after Ted Cruz, wife forced out by protesters.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): We Are Less Than 60 Days From Totally ‘Kicking the S–t Out of the Republicans.’

Networks Silent On Attempted Stabbing of GOP Candidate By Anti-Trump Attacker.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Jokes About Threatening Trump Supporters ‘All The Time.’

Bernie Bro James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.

Plus:

Republican Party Office In Wyoming Set on Fire Two Days After It Opens

Florida County’s GOP Office Vandalized by Gunfire

 

Remember: Jobs, not Mobs.