Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Don't You Eat That Yellow Snow," or, The Unmitigated Audacity of "Hope"

"Well, right about that time people/
A fur-trapper (who was strictly from commercial)/
Had the unmitigated audacity to jump up from behind my igloo/
And he started into whippin' on my favorite baby seal/
With a lead-filled snowshoe."

-Frank Zappa, "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow/Nanook Rubs It"

This was a fun track to revisit, with all the snow we've had this winter. But it also had a valuable message. Kids, listen to Frank. Don't eat that yellow snow. Or the snowjob that is "Unmitigated Audacity of Hope."

Obama’s 2008 campaign had become synonymous with words like “Progress,” “Change" and "Hope." And his his book was called The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. About a year into his presidency, we are getting to see the fruits of that audacity. Two recent commentaries caught my attention at the same time, and a better contrast I couldn't have asked for. First, a New York Times article entitled "Optimism Is Fresh Arrival in California Cul-de-Sac. That optimism, however, is light-years away from the promises of the campaign. Take this:

"The remnants of financial disaster linger. Many neighbors have no credit cards. Repossessed family cars have not been replaced. Vacation destinations remain for most the stuff of advertisements in newspapers from which coupons continue to be clipped.

“But hanging on has been replaced, in part, by holding steady."

The writer gives several examples of people who are struggling, yet optimistic. They're all "tearjerkers," but one particular example sums up the tone of the entire piece, and the brand of hope being peddled by the NYT: “I haven’t found work yet, and I am in constant pain,” he said. “But I’m happy. I’m still here.”

This is what "hope," "change," and "progress" tastes like? What a funny-tasting snowcone that is... It wasn't always like this, of course. Contrast this with the next commentary: Bill Whittle: "They Stole Our Future, But They Cannot Break Our Will."

Whittle's piece examines the connection between hope and technological progress by reminiscing about his childhood trip to the 1964 World's Fair, "the Futurama II." In a stark contrast the NYT article, he marks the arrival of 2010 negatively:

"…Every time a new decade opens, it's a milestone, and a milestone shows us not only how far we've come, but also sometimes how far we've failed to come."

So where is the hope that comes with progress? Where’s our flying cars? Our cities on the moon? Sci-fi stereotypes aside, the point is, aren't we trying not to simply survive, but thrive? Not just materially, but intellectually, conceptually, emotionally? Ok, "spiritually," even. You don't have to be religious to have your spirit broken. And even though there has been great technological progress, without the sense of life to properly appreciate it, well then...where’s the hope that comes with progress? His answer shows the moment our hope was severed from our progress and our dreams:

"The Left is killing it. [They] started attacking those ideals right about the time I walked into that building in 1964, and they have never stopped in the 45 years since then.

What these Marxist university professors have done is far worse that provides the intellectual cover for unparalleled ruin at the hands of massive and unprecedented state spending. That we can recover from. But they have almost succeeded in poisoning the spiritual health of the population, especially the young, which is of course required for you to abandon your personal dreams, and your ambitions, and the belief that you can make them come true, and then you go and get in line at the aid office, where Big Brother will provide you with the housing, and the food, and the health care, and the transportation, all of it getting ever worse; but you won't care about that, because you'll feel that you deserve it."

Whittle is dead-right that what's being foisted upon America is something more insidious. Yes, hope is no longer connected to progress, but to a retrogressive "holding on." The "anti-industrial revolution" has seen to that, (despite the hypocrisy), culminating in Al Gore, "global warming hysteria," and Avatar. Yes, we've had technological progress, but not the mentality to appreciate it. Indicating the shape of things to come, Whittle adds:

"You think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at the comments that accompanied the Futurama piece on YouTube…A smattering of regret for a lost future of opportunity far outweighed by tidal wave of cynicism, self-hatred, bitterness, resentment and anger at things like corporate greed by a population so pampered by the products of those corporations that they cannot see they irony of sipping six dollar coffees as they complain about capitalism on two-thousand dollar Apple laptops."

He is not exaggerating. Whittle's next comments cuts through the sham hope of the first article by referencing Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: "That is certainly what Alinksy and all the others want you to feel; "despair, defeat, resignation, and regret."

The reference to Alinsky is critical to understanding how the audacity of that first commentary. What's ironic is the use of the descriptive "cul-de-sac," which I'm sure the writer knows is code for "dead end." Even more ironic, considering this passage from the Rules for Radicals:

“Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be precedented by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude towards change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution."

But note that Alinsky, a seasoned Machiavellian, had no reason to feel so defeated, lost or futureless:

“A word about my personal philosophy. It is anchored in optimism. It must be, for optimism brings with it hope, a future with a purpose, and therefore, a will to fight for a better world. Without this optimism, there is no reason to carry on.”

See the difference? For "the masses," they are powerless in themselves in a state of freedom, but the Alinsky's and Obama's are hopeful because people will give away their freedom for the promise of security at the drop of a dime. Never mind the fact that capitalism makes co-operation possible on a scale never achieved in a socialist society; freedom is not justified by the "greater good," but by the nature of the of the individual, of the mind. Ultimately, it is not capitalism that is the prevailing system they must make you fear, it is your mind...your mind. In other words, in order to get you to give up your freedom, they have to make you fear it. Fear of self-reliance, independence, and self-determination, in order to get you to surrender to the "greater good" and the guidance of their leadership. Fear that you are powerless, fear that the planet is dying, fear that you and your family will die on the free market. Never mind that this country has never been truly free; the government has always interfered, and when things went wrong, it was always the free-market that took the blame...no, they insist that pure laissez-faire capitalism is the "prevailing system," and now that the government has stepped in with their bailouts and nationalization, hope can finally arrive to the cul-de-sac. "The bailouts are working! The recession is over! Hope is back! Even if you haven't recovered, Just wait a little longer..."

Where have we seen that carrot dangled before?

"To those who might wonder whether the conditions of existence in Soviet Russia have changed in any essential respect since 1925...take a look through the the files of the newspapers. If you do, you will observe the the following pattern: first, you will read glowing reports about the happiness, the prosperity, the industrial development, the progress and the power of the Soviet Union, and that any statements to the contrary are the lies of prejudiced reactionaries; then, about five years later, you will read admissions that things were pretty miserable in the Soviet Union five years ago, just about at bad as the prejudiced reactionaries had claimed, but now the problems are solved and the Soviet Union is a land of happiness, prosperity, industrial development, progress and power; about five years later, you will read that Trotsky (or Zinoviev or Kamenev or Litvinov or the "kulaks" or the foreign imperialists) had caused the miserable state of things about five years ago, but Stalin has purged them all and the Soviet Union has surpassed the decadent West in happiness, prosperity, industrial development, etc., five years later, you will read that Stalin was a monster who had crushed the progress of the Soviet Union, but now it is a land of happiness, prosperity, artistic freedom, educational perfection, and scientific superiority over the whole world. How many such five-year plans will you need before you begin to understand?" –Ayn Rand, prologue to We the Living

If this "five year plan" is what we're in for, then that will be the reality of "hope" in the age of the cul-de-sac. But the Alinsky gambit is out in the open for all to see (for those who choose to see it), as is the sham of the MSM, with people like Chris Matthews openly proclaiming Alinsky their "hero" ("I always try to remind myself of Saul Alinsky when I get confused.") I see through it, and their "unmitigated audacity of hope." And they have no hope of my surrendering to them out of "despair, defeat, resignation, and regret."

Watch out where Alinsky goes, and don't you eat that yellow snow...

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