Strakon Lights Up, No. 66

Guards and goofballs


I've mentioned Newt Gingrich's value for the Left several times — not because I'm a Gingrich fan (have mercy!) but purely because I wanted to examine how the Left works. Gingrich has an abrasive style and personality, so he was a convenient bête noire for the Left. In his actual ideology, as revealed through his choices and expressed intentions in public policy — especially those areas of public policy of most interest to Wall Street — Gingrich stood to the right of Clinton but so close that their shoulders touched. That didn't matter, though. Most of the media victims who would be consuming the leftists' "commentary" couldn't really digest ideas as such; they were accustomed to swallowing only cheap slogans, cartoonish caricatures, easy ridicule, splashes of personal spleen, and city-slicker attitude masquerading as thought: designer pabulum, to go with their designer jeans and designer water.

Gingrich's function as bête noire was to render absolutely illegitimate any actual anti-state, antiwar, anti-New World Order dissent, because that dissent could be represented as issuing mostly from the right of Gingrich. If Gingrich was "antediluvian," "Neanderthal," and "reactionary," then dissenters to his right — well, they really should be on the Secret Service watch list, shouldn't they? If not popped directly into state hospitals for the politically insane? Gingrich-as-stormtrooper was particularly useful to the Left during the era of popular unrest — Sagebrush Rebellion, the militia movement, etc. — that came to an abrupt end in 1995 with the convenient bombing in Oklahoma City.


Today I heard about the latest frontier being staked out by the folks I call goofball totalitarians, and while I marveled over it, it occurred to me that the Gingrich dynamic is only half the story. The goofball totalitarians, I should explain, are the people who are so far out — on the anti-freedom, anti-reason, anti-civilization, anti-humanity spectrum — that they haven't yet managed to qualify for cooptation as established Red Guards and junior partners in the ruling class. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — the characters who condemn milk as "liquid meat" — used to have that frontier staked out, but they're inching closer to the ideological mainstream, or rather it's inching closer to them. They're being outfrontiered now by the women who want to prevent men from urinating while standing up.

It's no joke — or if it is, it has fooled not only me but U.S. News & World Report, too, and writer John Leo, as well as the (English) Spectator's Jasper Gerard, whom Leo quotes. According to Gerard, as quoted by Leo, progressive women in Sweden, Germany, and Australia oppose the standing option not so much because it's sometimes messy as "because a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women." ("You can't make this up / More cultural craziness that's stranger than fiction," Outlook column, U.S. News & World Report, August 21)

"One argument is that if women can't do it, then men shouldn't either," Leo writes. "Another is that standing upright while relieving oneself is 'a nasty macho gesture,' suggestive of male violence. A feminist group at Stockholm University is campaigning to ban all urinals from campus, and one Swedish elementary school has already removed them."

Now, those women are going to be coming in for quite a bit of ridicule, not only from political non-leftists but also from nonpolitical Paul Harvey types. I predict they'll even be ridiculed by leftists who like to masquerade as reasonable moderates. And that, ah, yes, that is where they also serve who stand and wait — or, in this case, sit and protest urinals.

The Red Guards to whom the Dark Suits have delegated the day-to-day running of popular media and entertainment set up Gingrich and other unattractive moderate socialists as the restrictive outer fringe of noncriminal opinion on the non-Left. But simultaneously, on their other flank, they use truly far-out leftists, such as the ladies of the Anti-Standing, er, Movement, to make themselves and their clients look reasonable and non-ridiculable. Compared to the anti-standing viragoes, Joe Lieberman looks like an old-style Republican and Al Gore like an old-style Democrat.

If you detect, in the way this works, some tilting of that proverbial playing field, you're right. By defining dissent from the Old Right and from libertarians as beyond the Pale, and helping anti-American socialists masquerade as normal Americans, the Ministry of Truth has pulled the mainstream far toward totalitarianism.


The totalitarian Establishment never quits  pulling the mainstream; it acts like a constant gravitational force. That's because the Guards, egged on by the Suits, are always reaching for new and better power over our lives. Just listen to them: such-and-so invasion of society is "inadequate." Another totalitarian imposition "falls short" or leaves some class of tax-parasites "underserved." Every one of their tyrannical programs and socialist institutions is "underfunded." Always we hear them saying that, in robbing and tyrannizing over the American people, "We're still not doing enough." You'll be able to hear plenty more of that this week during the Democratic Convention, if you didn't get your fill of it during the Republican Convention.

The Red Guards are never satisfied; they never can be satisfied while any remnant of freedom-loving, reasonable, independent, civilized humanity survives. Whether or not they halfheartedly ridicule — for public consumption — their not-yet-coopted goofball cousins out there on the frontiers, they depend on the goofballs to stake out those frontiers and nurture their exotic gardens of totalitarianism. In effect, the goofballs function like a distant agricultural-research station. The Red Guards have merely contracted out their R&D department, for reasons of hygiene and public relations. Goofball frontiers continue and will continue to be converted into heartland territory through which the mainstream can peacefully flow. Just in the past twenty years we've seen it happen with lesbianism, political vegetarianism, smoking prohibition, the obsessions with swamps, jungles, and garbage, and a hundred other phenomena.

For that matter, men — and especially boys — already know they must shut up in the face of their progressive mistresses of instruction. Whether they will eventually be instructed to sit down, too, will depend on whether the senior wing of the ruling class — the Suits — decide it would be profitable. And on whether cultural morale among the ruled has disintegrated sufficiently.

Believe it or not, once it's being boringly mumbled over by "moderate" pols and bureaucrats in half-glasses and power ties, we won't consider the anti-urinal movement so odd. We'll already be looking off toward the new  far frontier, thunderstruck at the latest fantasy the goofballs have come up with. As this is a family-oriented e-column, I'll refrain from speculating too graphically on what that might be. But I do hope some frizzy-haired, goggle-eyed goofball doesn't earn her Red Guard stripes one day by whispering these words into the ear of some ancient, reptilian Dark Suit:

"Soylent Green."


August 15, 2000

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