The Meaning of Original Sin
Few things are more embarrassing than getting caught in a lie. At least for most of us. And yet we are all guilty. We lie not only to others but to ourselves as well. It's at once both an obsession and a joke. How do you know a politician is lying? Watch his lips. If they're moving, he's lying. I did not inhale. I am your friend. No big deal, no problem. Except, of course, when we wake up to a lie that has personally cost us something precious. Then the practice is no longer an innocuous compulsion, but an unforgivable deception. If someone swindles us, our wrath explodes into a spectacular and indignant fury. There's nothing like being truly victimized by a confidence ploy to wake up the sleeping champion of integrity. No Lothario, it's not the sex. It's the rip off, stupid!
On a frozen January night my wife and I hopped a flight out of Missoula Montana, heading down to California. As I settled in, I rummaged around the seat pocket in front of me, and behind the barf bag I found the airline in house magazine. Past the map of the services, the advertisements for overpriced gimmicks and toys, I stumbled on an article by a linguist. Now etymology has always been one of my hobbies. You know, wondering how an Indo-European root word like sat, which means desire in Sanskrit, can become a word like satisfy, as in "I can't get no," or even Satan, as in "The late Great?" So with my curiosity aroused, I flicked on the overhead and buried my self in the article.
The author surmised that human language probably evolved about 50,000 years ago. Maybe, maybe not. But there was one dark and stunning assertion that really sticks for any of us. He also speculated that speech emerged for the sole purpose of deception. In other words, to gain a competitive advantage over our cousins, even our brothers and sisters, we invented language to deceive them. I don't know if that's true or not, and I find myself hard pressed to comment without raw presumption or hypocrisy. I mean who am I to preach? It might be unnerving to the secular humanist. It could even be offensive to the fundamentalist. But then again, there will always be the challenge of the Copernican Dilemma. And the implications to global culture and politics are so profound, it's almost impossible to hyperbolize on this one. So I've taken it on myself to think out loud. If you stay within ear shot, you're going to get an opinion that may well both stun and provoke you.
How many have agonized in conflict over the meaning of the garden story in Genesis? How did it go? Well let's see. There was Adam and Eve, and they were naked. And they weren't supposed to eat the fruit because they would "surely die." Then there was a serpent. The serpent convinced Eve that she wouldn't die if she ate the fruit. So she and Adam ate the fruit, and they were ashamed by their nakedness. Was it a sex thing then? Mmmmm...Some say so, but it's not likely. There's something more to it. Yeah, so go on. Well, then they were kicked out of paradise, and that was presumably a bad thing for them. I mean, all the rest of us are busy trying to figure out how to get back in, by almost any means we can. So, let's see now. What kind of fruit was it? It was the "fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." The knowledge of good and evil...the knowledge of good and evil. Could the serpent have convinced Eve that she and Adam might take it onto themselves to determine what was good and what was evil? Well maybe so. And if so, how did he accomplish it? Well, buddy, he lied.
The Devil Dances with delight,
Upon our graves with mystic insight,
Our hearts are wont to weep and grieve,
For he's taught us each other to deceive. -- ACE
And today the pundits of popular culture tell us that good and evil are not absolute, but open to personal interpretation. The modern liberal believes it, and the classical liberal is adamant about it. We are encouraged to take it onto ourselves to determine what is right, and what is wrong. And on the surface, there's no denying it seems a philosophy that has logical and reasonable potential. Even the fundamental principles of the universe itself seem mathematically relative. There's just one problem. If I take it onto myself to determine what's right for me, how do you actually defend yourself if it isn't right for you? What if I decide it's right for me to deceive you in order to take advantage of you? I mean, it is relative, isn't it? And what if you don't find out until it's too late for you? Of course therein lies the rub.
If information means power, disinformation means absolute power. It may once have taken secret societies, initiation rites, and mystical knowledge of symbolic language to perfect the black art of deception. But not any longer. Much to the chagrin of those who lord it over us, everyone today knows how to cheat. If you want raw power, all you have to do is lie. And the free-for-all feeding frenzy is heating up to a boil.
But it wasn't always that way for us here in the West, especially in America. For a brief period, we flirted with a political system based on the cultural notion of integrity, of an absolute truth. One where potentially abusive power was kept in check by self control on the one hand, and careful separation of political clout on the other. And while it wasn't faultless, a semblance of balance was achieved at least for a time.
After the Constitutional Convention, a woman stepped up to the men and asked them what kind of government they had finally given the American people. "A republic, madam," replied Ben Franklin, "...if you can keep it." In his Inaugural Address, George Washington advised us that "The sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government [were deeply and irrevocably staked] on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." And as it was human, it was by no means perfect. Myopic political philosophers on the left will pound on all day long reminding us of their notion of the inequities of the classical Republican model. You know. Males and landowners only. Free, white, and twenty one. And in fact they have a point. But as a modifiable political basis, it is still probably far more perfect than its modern antithesis, the new paradigm of the authoritarian crypto-collectivist. You doubt that? Well here's an assertion to consider.
There are at least three types of individuals hell bent on the destruction of the American Republican system.
The first suffers only from ignorance. This person means well, but just has either never heard the other side of the story, or is in denial. He's the typical Democrat.
The second suffers from spite and envy. This person has a rough comprehension of the ramifications, but can't resist the malevolent urge to destroy what he cannot control. He's your run of the mill radical.
The third is the most dangerous. For they know both the meaning and ramifications of what they propose. These are the progressive elite. They have no home or loyalty other than their quest for power, their urge to control labor and resources around the globe. In it's latest incarnation, this elite has taken the fruit of a false premise and morphed it into a total lie. They are well along the road of replacing our republic with a regulated totalitarian oligarchy cleverly disguised as a pseudo-egalitarian democracy. Their method is magical deception, or the distraction of the uninformed. It's pure prestidigitation. Watch the busy hand that does so little, but never the one that actually commits the act. They prosper by the division of opponents, and they have a background.
Here's a challenging bit of their history. In 1919 an Italian socialist named Antonio Gramsci began to publish a newspaper in Milan called, L'Ordine Nuovo, or "The New Order. Loosely rendered, he concluded that the average person would never voluntarily reject the faith and culture of the West. He concluded that the best way to implement a collectivist government was to use an intellectual elite to destroy traditional values by attacking fundamental Jewish and Christian beliefs.
Gramsci envisioned a three phased assault.
First he calculated that this elite maneuver to achieve a "cultural hegemony" over the West.
And following Gramsci with precision, his entourage did exactly that. The culture itself became a vehicle to destroy ideals by several means. It presented the young not with heroic, Apollonian or Athenian examples, but with deliberately degenerated anti-heroes—with ‘losers.’ Marriage and family were continuously attacked and subverted. People were demoralized by replacing age old doctrines and moral teachings with ‘modernized’ or diminished cultural ideas. This reduced meaningful standards to irrelevancy. It replaced genuine education with radical permissiveness, with gutted curricula and radically lowered standards. It promoted collectivism in the institutions of higher education. It gained de-facto control of the mass media. Not by Stalinist censorship, but by subtlety promoting placement of like minded thinkers in media positions in order to transform it from a news reporting mechanism to a propaganda organ. The media then manipulated, harassed, and discredited traditional institutions that clung to the notion of self control, and promoted those seeking authoritarian control.
Morality, decency, and traditional virtues became the subject of ridicule. Marriage was portrayed as a plot by males to perpetuate a system of domination over women and children. Radical feminism worked with diligence to undermine the Republican tradition. Any larger anthropological logic in the religious cannons were abandoned as irrelevant and childish nonsense. By emphasizing the improbabilities and inconsistencies of the traditions, by blurring the historic facts with the legends, attention to their higher symbolic meaning was successfully diverted. The secular and religious zealot were encouraged to oppose each other, as they were left to wallow aimlessly defending their position in the cultural chaos.
I'm not making this up. All this is precisely as Gramsci proposed.
Gramsci envisioned that twenty or thirty years of this cultural manipulation would lead to the second phase.
A power struggle emerging between the ‘progressive’ collectivist forces, and those trying to uphold the stabilizing traditions of the West. And along with the collapsing culture, political concerns slide into chaos. Crime explodes, disorder becomes rampant, and financial markets grow unstable. Politicians themselves become corrupt and the public looses faith in their republican system. People are set adrift in a sea of chaos. Traditional institutions are destroyed. In a deliberate deception, liberal demagogues declare war on all opposition. No quarter is without subversives and agents of the ruling elite.
Destabilization finally brings a form of anarchy and internal terrorism. Markets may collapse. Cities are overrun with drug addiction and criminal gangs. Disgruntled individuals, largely unaware of the source of the problem, commit senseless, undirected violent acts against their own government. The organs manipulated by the cultural elite defame all efforts toward traditional common sense, and promote amelioration by federal collectivism. Citizens finally cry out for order and stability.
Finally, totalitarian collectivism is orchestrated in to solve our problems.
It seizes power and sets into place a repressive system Gramsci called ‘normalization.’ People actually clamor for strict centralized government intervention, and willingly sacrifice their liberty, in order to end the social and political chaos. So when the talking heads on the left insist that it is war, they mean just that. When the law becomes hypocrisy, when the bodies begin to pile up, and the public is without shame, we know we are nearing the flash point. When we think on the vastly expanded power of executive order, the frightening potential become obvious.
Gramscian liberalism in the American political duopoly was the substance and end product of the sixties movement, the default zeitgeist of the baby boomers. Those that supported the enemy in the proxy war against Chinese totalitarianism. So what did the darlings of the left give us for our money? Consider the facts.
On June 17, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court forbade Bible reading and prayer in the public schools. One of the nation's most popular magazines later echoed the spirit of this sentiment by running a cover article, entitled "Is God Dead?" It was then followed in the early 1990's by another cover entitled "The Cultural Elite," virtually exhorting the success of the Gramscian thesis. Few knew enough to even take notice. Christian bashing became the norm in popular intellectual circles. New age values became the catch morality.
And since that 1963 ruling, the number of U.S. violent crime offenses exploded upward by 700%. The U.S. now has the highest per-capita rate of felony incarceration of all the industrialized First World nations. Premarital sex among 18 year olds jumped from 30% of the population, to 70%. Tax rates for a family of four skyrocket 500% to consume a fourth of their income. Divorce rates quadrupled. Illegitimate births among the black population soared from about 23% to more than 68%, leaving mothers contained by the state and fatherless children to roam the streets in search of trouble. Illegitimacy as a whole has jumped from 5% to nearly 30% nationwide for a total rise of 600%! On July 17, 1994, the New York Times even quoted liberal Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan saying that overall American illegitimacy could rise to 50% by the year 2000! Cases of sexually transmitted disease rose 150%. Virtually lethal sexually transmitted plagues like AIDS and Hepatitis C swept through the nation, even tainting the blood supply. Teen age illegitimate pregnancies are up by several thousand percent, and teen age suicides have increased by 200%. Even the president himself is accused of sexual harassment, and having orax sex with a 21 year old intern in the Oval Office of the White House. Between 1950 and 1979, serious crime committed by children under 15 increased 11,000%! That's eleven thousand percent! Say it again: ELEVEN THOUSAND PERCENT!
Yeah, I know. Some will argue that it doesn't follow. Did all this come from that single court decision? Obviously not. It was simply the codification of the Gramscian, New Age secular trend. Does this mean that the Judeo-Christian tradition is without fault, or that intelligent people will not find anomalies, contradictions, and implausibility in its historic cannons? Clearly not. Does it mean that we won't find hypocrites among its followers? Again, it doesn't. Well then what does it mean?
It means that if a culture is built around a value system that emphasizes individual accountability as opposed to authoritarian repression, all an enemy has to do is jerk the belief system out from underneath its people to demolish that culture. Destroy the pillars supporting the value system of the West, and have your way with the slaves that remain after the bloodbath. Divide and conquer becomes chaos and conquer.
We don't live in an intellectual or political vacuum. The parameters of prosperity, liberty, and population are clearly limited by our circumstances. We will either be ruled by authority, or by self control. The witch doctor, the tribal chief, the king, the dictator, the warlord, the junta, the elitist oligarchy, the tribunal, even the majority, will rule over us if we can't successfully rule ourselves. Those on both extremes of the secular/spiritual argument often fail to see the logic inherent in the traditional view. The idea of a king of kings prevented any ruling official from rising above the law. It's a perfect cultural ideal that even the king himself must bow before. The myth of virgin birth describes the moment that conscience ignites in a person's own soul. Even the secular philosopher Joseph Campbell acknowledged the value and importance of that idea, even as only a myth. No free republic can exist without some form of these two principles. Why is it that we either tear away at the logic in the myth, or cling to the myth in the logic, neither side able to settle on common ground? Could it be because of the willful actions of a group of cultural spoilers? Could it be that they know exactly how to ruffle our feathers, push our buttons, render our defense against them helpless and ineffective?
For any culture, the law consists of both the statute and the behavioral norm. Without the middle ground of morality, which for us is bound in the mythical marvel of Western Culture, there are only two other alternatives. Either tyranny, or anarchy. The truth is that for all our rant and rave, only the psychopathic among us actually wishes either extreme on ourselves as individuals. But if we open our eyes, we can clearly see significant evidence to support the notion of a clique working incessantly to reduce us to the savage level, to further their own aim of monopolizing ruling authority.
One more place this argument has come to a head is in the infamous values free movement. The result is so bad that even the cofounder, Dr. William Coulson, has totally repudiated the concept. Coulson was one of famed psychologist Carl Rogers' closest colleagues. Coulson, Rogers and Abraham Maslow became pioneers of a theory they called "Humanistic psychology," later to become codified in the ideas of Outcome Based Education, otherwise known as OBE. "This non-theory of evil," notes Coulson, "is one peculiar version of the 'value-free' disease (which is the same as ethical relativism, of Rousseauistic optimism, of amorality, i.e. nothing is wrong or bad enough to fight against)...What kind of educational philosophy is it that is unprepared for ill will? It's a philosophy in which nothing is bad or sick or wrong or evil."
Liberals under the Clinton administration attempted to push this to its extreme in with their "Goals 2000" programs. Frederick Close, director of education for the Ethics Resource Center in Washington, D.C., described the situation pretty well when he said that, "The fundamental tragedy of American education is not that we are [just] turning out ignoramuses but that we are turning out savages." We could sit in denial and argue that this has nothing to do with the Gramscian politics of the democratic left. But then we would be wrong. Here's why.
Radical British Marxist, Anne Showstack Sassoon, raves about Gramsci in her book, Gramsci's Politics. She notes that Gramsci saw the transition to authoritarian socialism accomplished by "a new type of party" that would not govern in the formal sense, but rather by "directing the course of policy toward hegemony." She specifically refers to this form of government as "Liberal Democracy," and argued for a "contemporary Machiavelli," whose role is to build a "collective will" and "acceptance for the process of change." Liberal Democracy—the system presently hailed by many in our culture as the liberating philosophy of our future—is to Sassoon little more than ‘Machiavellian Marxism.’ In The Keys of This Blood, Malachi Martin wrote that, "Gramsci meant that Marxists must change the residually Christian mind...so that it would become not merely a non-Christian mind, but an anti-Christian mind." Our purpose," Gramsci wrote, "is not to change the course of history but to change the nature of man."
"The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State." ...President Harry S. Truman
But human nature is tenacious. We can only guess at what draconian measures will have to be employed to effect our new man. We've forgotten that the National Socialists also tried to create a "New Man." And we're too busy to think much about the Stalinists, the Maoists, and the Khmer Rouge. And of course implicit in engineering our new man is the elevation of the creating elites to a position of dominant power, as more and more clamor to jump on a very profitable bandwagon of selling liberty down the road. Media moguls, lawyers, bureaucrats, and educators have all now got something to loose. The selfish nature of those elites are assumed to be either non-existent, or to be otherwise ignored by collectivist sympathizers in both principal American political parties. Worse—much, much worse—is the fact that by all sensible methods of evaluation, it seems that we're sitting on the very eve of the third phase of the Gramscian plan of destruction. We're certainly right at then end of the second. Dare to look around you, and then turn around and take another look. What will it take? An emergency situation? A terrorist act using a biological agent? How about a contrived constitutional crisis surrounding a corrupt presidency?
The mentality behind this phenomenon reveals the true potential dangers in centralizing power.
Machiavelli's main concern was obsequious ingratiation with the Fourteenth Century Italian monarchy by providing strategies to help the state gain and keep political control over all possible competition and dissention. Max Lerner wrote that the tyrant, Joseph Stalin, was very well schooled in Machiavelli. Solzhenitsyn asserts that he was responsible for 60 million deaths. In the introduction of the Mentor publication of Machiavelli's, The Prince, Christian Gauss tells us that it was Hitler's bedside reading, and that Benito Mussolini selected it for his doctoral thesis. We all know how many they killed. And to one degree or another, all of them considered Gramsci in their methodology.
So the Liberal Democratic vanguards and the extremely influential semi-obscure councils, descended roundtables, and the various commissions, general assemblies, and fraternal organizations surrounding them, ask us to follow the political example of some of the bloodiest, most obscene autocrats of human history. In his book, Democide, professor R. J. Rummel wrote that, "Pol Pot (and his socialist Angka Loeu comrades in the "Killing Fields") defined new concepts of what is good or bad...and in less than four years of governing they exterminated 31% of their men, women and children." In Murder of a Gentle Land, John Barron and Anthony Paul record the UN's response to the Cambodian blood bath: "After the desolation of the cities, the early massacres and in the midst of the first famine, one of the Angka Loeu leaders, Ieng Sary, in his incarnation as foreign minister, flew to a special session of the Untied Nations General Assembly. Upon landing in New York, he boasted, 'We have cleansed the cities,' and when he appeared at the United Nations, the delegates from around the world warmly applauded."
So suck it up, children. In consideration of conquering new kingdoms, here's what Machiavelli himself tells the prince.
"When cities or provinces have been accustomed to live under a prince... they do not know how to live in freedom...and a prince can win them over with greater faculty and establish himself securely. But in republics, there is greater life...they do not and cannot cast aside the memory of their ancient liberty, so that the surest way [to conquer them] is to lay them waste." ...Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
If you don't see that this applies to the Western cultural elite, you haven't been paying attention. There seem to be those who would lay waste to your republic by destroying its culture. If the myth of original sin has any meaning at all, it may be telling us that morality is in fact an absolute, at least in relation to individual human rights. My apology and understanding to those who don't consider it a myth. I'm not even saying you aren't right. I'm only speaking figuratively here, so that everyone from the atheist to the fundamentalist can comprehend the basic logic of this assertion without caving in to petty dissention.
It's really very simple. Truth is not relative if I lie to take advantage of you. From your point of view, that's always an absolute given. No matter who you are, no matter what your faith or view, you're going to keep that gem in your hip pocket, exempt from relative interpretation. Moral relativists are usually the most shocked, and exhort the loudest cry of foul, after suffering the theft of their confidence by intentional deception. C.S. Lewis made that eloquently clear for anyone who cares to listen. But then once burned, twice shy. The reformed relativist is often the greatest champion of liberty by moral principle. If your next door neighbor looses his savings to a shyster selling him a bogus texture coating for his house, you will sympathize but little more. If you loose your savings to the scam, you're likely to be a much more aggressive witness.
"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness." ...George Washington, The Great Quotations, Citadel Press
Original Sin may also be telling us that we are all subject to both lying and denying the consequences. Deception is the initiate's means to power. But power by deception will get you and everyone around you kicked right out of paradise. Your dependable partner, neighbor, spouse or even your children, will become suspicious subjects of the battle of distrust. There won't be much harmony in your life if you can't even trust your blood relatives. Both the Stalinists and the National Socialists used children in the public school system to turn in dissident parents to the authorities. Propaganda, disinformation, attempted coups, assassinations, reprisals and purges of diabolical magnitude plagued all modern examples of collectivist political order. And to anyone paying the least attention, this methodology is on the rise right here in America as we approach the millenium.
So don't look now, but if you are an American, you live in what's left of an advanced and seriously weakened Constitutional Republic. By every measure of reason, there would seem to be those who are abusing your trust to intentionally destroy your republic to their own ends. Even at its worst, with all its faults, it's a paradise compared to the concentration camp culture of the Gramscian, Machiavellian Marxists.
And if you're a follower or apologist for today's political and social multi-culturalism, an adherent of liberal democracy, or believe that our culture can continue without a basis in moral absolutes, which camp do you suppose you belong in? Are you a cynical but clever elitist intoxicated on power? Are you onto the deception but support it out of pathological spite? Or are you simply ignorant of your role in the intentional destruction of your culture, even if you think you stand on the relative right? Of course it's just one more opinion distilled from digested evidence. One more perspective on the notion of truth. You may have your own.
Still, it should haunt you, you know.
Remember their very own creed? "In republics...lay them waste."
If you still value whatever liberty you have, it's probably time you reconsidered any interest in supporting the ideologies of those who would have you and your children ‘wasted’ for their own advantage. The hour is growing late. And if I've been preaching to the choir, you might want to pass this along to the person on your left.
ACE © 1998 Provincial Proverbs