Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. YAF at Brandeis: Dinesh D’Souza

 

This is a report I wrote on the talk that Dinesh D’Souza gave at my school last night, even though you can watch the whole thing here .

In the beginning, the Assistant Dean of Students somewhat awkwardly read a speech about how it is a good thing to have this event on campus, and then she pointed out that if people wanted to be loud, they could go to the convenient protest area behind the actual lecture hall, which got some laughs. (I’m sorry if you were hoping for drama in the piece, but spoilers: There was no trouble, and to be honest I didn’t expect any. D’Souza, who also spoke at Brandeis ten years ago, expressed surprise about this at the end.)

D’Souza opened by remarking that back when he was in college, liberal views were prevalent on campuses, but conservative views were definitely visible, including among professors. Now, it’s harder to talk to people with different views, because different views are seen as a threat. D’Souza expressed doubt that many liberal college students today would be able to answer the question, “What are conservatives trying to conserve?” I would tend to agree.

Next, D’Souza said he would discuss racism and fascism, two things leftists accuse Trump of, and noted that spreading accusations of fascism is new to the Left; it just started about a year ago. In terms of racism, D’Souza gave us the sordid history of the Democrat Party, pointing out that literally all slaveowners were Democrats and it is very logically shaky to blame it all on ‘the south.’ (Here, a tangent on how liberals like to blame things on “America,” “the white man,” etc. instead of on the people who were actually responsible.) Post-bellum, the Democrats invented white supremacy. Segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, racial terrorism, and lynching were all their policies and institutions. Democrat Woodrow Wilson made the Ku Klux Klan cool again by showing Birth of a Nation in the White House in the early twentieth century. The fabled ‘Big Switch’ never happened; only one single Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond, switched parties. Obama and Clinton both eulogized former Klan member Robert Byrd. There is an idea that, after all, you had to be in the Klan in those days if you wanted to further Democrat ideals.

D’Souza pointed out the obvious fact that fascism has always come from the Left. He provided a brief history of fascism, starting with Mussolini. Mussolini grew up Marxist, but Marx turned out be wrong about many things. The working class did not get poorer. The Revolution did not come from England or from Germany, but rather from Russia, and it came in the form of overthrowing the czarist regime — not capitalism. Marx’s idea of socialism has never worked out, and in D’Souza’s opinion, never will. National Socialism to the rescue! People are much more likely to die for a nation than for an economic class, and that’s why Nazism did better than plain old Marxism.

With that history lecture over, D’Souza brought up Herbert Marcuse and his 1960’s statement, “No free speech for fascists!” The spirit of the Antifa. But the truth, according to D’Souza, is that Trump seems to want the opposite of fascism — to unleash capitalism, and detach it from the state.

Now I’ll just give you highlights from the Q & A period.

The less cringey people came first. Somebody asked a question about politicians changing their minds and what that means, and D’Souza said that all politics is a hybrid of principle and opportunism, and that isn’t a bad thing. He gave a spiel about how SSM succeeded because the Left was cleverly fighting a culture war outside of politics, and the Right was not fighting that war, and so by the time the issue entered politics, it was a fait accompli.

A fun moment a little later on was when D’Souza ended up explaining that Trump does not want to deport immigrants. Illegals are not immigrants, and they do not have constitutional rights.

The really cringey guy came up next. I’ll paraphrase: “You think that Democrats are less moral than Republicans but the Democrats say that they care about climate change!” D’Souza expressed an opinion that climate change seems like theism to him: there is not really empirical evidence that we can all see and thus conclude, yes, it exists. The student’s response, which just sort of went on for a while, immediately reminded me of Pascal’s Wager. So that was funny to me because it seemed to prove the point D’Souza had just made. (You all can watch this segment at 1:21:00 in the video I linked at the beginning, if you want to subject yourselves to it.) D’Souza also talked about how he comes from a third world country and they would love to have things that climate change activists think is bad, such as oil, so that they can become a second world country. No one talks about climate change in India. (My libertarian environmentalist friend was interested to hear that conservatives as well as liberals make the argument that environmentalism is for privileged people.)

We finally got around to the female students, and of course they wanted to know about women’s rights. (Reminded me of Brandeis Conservatives meetings; hard to find a woman who really wants to talk politics. I admit that I find it a little embarrassing.) D’Souza said that abortion is not a constitutional right, and even if it was, why should it be subsidized when our other rights, e.g. our second amendment rights, are not? (The student to whom he was saying this shook her head.) He also ended up explaining Roe v Wade and why he thinks it would be a good idea to overturn that decision.

All in all it was an interesting event with a good sized, ideologically diverse turnout, and everyone was courteous. So good for Brandeis, and thank you to Dinesh D’Souza and Young America’s Foundation for the privilege.

There are 58 comments.

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  1. ST Inactive
    ST

    Why was there no riot? Were all of their troops deployed to Berkeley for Operation SILENCE COULTER?

    • #1
    • April 27, 2017, at 12:03 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. I Shot The Serif Member
    I Shot The Serif

    ST (View Comment):
    Why was there no riot? Were all of their troops deployed to Berkeley for Operation SILENCE COULTER?

    Our community lacks size and initiative.

    • #2
    • April 27, 2017, at 12:05 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. Titus Techera Contributor

    Glad to see at least some of these events go on without hysteria. I’ve some remarks!

    1.I shake my head at the habit of American conservatives–going back, I fear, beyond Mr. Goldberg–to say fascism was a lefty thing. Actually, at this point I’m not sure there’s anything bad in the world conservatives will not attribute to the left. Not quite sure how we’re different to them in this respect…

    I think one phrase you use is worth thinking through–the nation is a more serious thing, when it comes to living & dying, than class. But that completely upturns the basis of the argument that fascists were lefty!

    Next, the strange remark that the Nazis or fascists were more successful than the Commies. Is that self-evident? After all, the USSR was formed before the Nazis came to power, even before the Fascists, & survived for generations after their demise. You could say that in Germany & Italy, tyranny came with a right-wing bent as opposed to the left-wing bent in other places. But that fails to dispose of the question even at the level of Europe, never mind the world.

    That’s all by way of saying, I’m disappointed in Mr. D’Souza & I hope we can clarify some of these things at least on Ricochet…

    2.Then there’s the matter of American history. It should go without saying that lefty hysteria that cannot see the greatness & the goodness of the Founders ultimately is a deep, existential ignorance of what it means to be American. No amount of crazy condemnations of the past can sever the connections of the generations…

    As for the rightful condemnations of past injustices, they do not aim to sever those connections, but instead to improve things by delivering on the justice once promised. Like MLK saying the Declaration wrote a check to every American, offering liberty & rights, & the civil rights movement was there to cash that check for blacks. There is historical & political continuity in this change. The fulfillment of a principle. There seems to me to be a connection between the moral authority of MLK & his refusal to turn hysterical or insane…

    But it won’t do to say slavery was Democrat. Slavery was pre-American English. Slavery was the way the Founders–except Hamilton, Adams, Franklin & such men like them–lived in leisure. Slavery was necessary to the Revolutionary war, as it turned out, so that North & South could fight together. Slavery was taken as important enough that the word slave is not written into the Constitution, even when it is clearly meant. The political attempt & the hope, Christian & democrat, to get rid of the monstrosity, failed. Then slavery became a Democrat thing. Then the war cambe.

    Further, slavery isn’t the whole question. Just like it won’t do to simply blame the South, it won’t simply do to blame liberals or Democrats. Slavery wouldn’t have happened or lived so long or had such a long after-life had white Americans not felt superior & alien to American blacks. Whites in the North would never have stood for Northern whites to be taken into slavery; or segregation; or anything like it.

    As for blacks, when the Northern metropolises were shaken by race riots in the Sixties, it became too clear to deny any more that there was no social contract there, either–that blacks & whites were not in fact part of the same social arrangement or regime or anything that could plausibly speak to them all of a common good. You can blame liberalism to some extent for that, but conservatives have a share in mid-century liberalism, too, just like in the Founding.

    Partisan blame is foolish. Really, the history is beyond tragic. Americans might live out centuries more & never rid themselves of their problems with race or of the sins of the past. There’s always a desire in America to think race no longer matters; or on the other hand to blame it as though it’s some fault or mistake, & hope that’s going to be the end of it. But it doesn’t seem to work. How could it, so long as Americans in their hearts are afraid of being called racist? What does that confess, or at least imply!

    • #3
    • April 27, 2017, at 12:46 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Glad to see at least some of these events go on without hysteria. I’ve some remarks!

    1.I shake my head at the habit of American conservatives–going back, I fear, beyond Mr. Goldberg–to say fascism was a lefty thing. Actually, at this point I’m not sure there’s anything bad in the world conservatives will not attribute to the left. Not quite sure how we’re different to them in this respect…

    I think one phrase you use is worth thinking through–the nation is a more serious thing, when it comes to living & dying, than class. But that completely upturns the basis of the argument that fascists were lefty!

    Next, the strange remark that the Nazis or fascists were more successful than the Commies. Is that self-evident? After all, the USSR was formed before the Nazis came to power, even before the Fascists, & survived for generations after their demise. You could say that in Germany & Italy, tyranny came with a right-wing bent as opposed to the left-wing bent in other places. But that fails to dispose of the question even at the level of Europe, never mind the world.

    That’s all by way of saying, I’m disappointed in Mr. D’Souza & I hope we can clarify some of these things at least on Ricochet…

    2.Then there’s the matter of American history. It should go without saying that lefty hysteria that cannot see the greatness & the goodness of the Founders ultimately is a deep, existential ignorance of what it means to be American. No amount of crazy condemnations of the past can sever the connections of the generations…

    As for the rightful condemnations of past injustices, they do not aim to sever those connections, but instead to improve things by delivering on the justice once promised. Like MLK saying the Declaration wrote a check to every American, offering liberty & rights, & the civil rights movement was there to cash that check for blacks. There is historical & political continuity in this change. The fulfillment of a principle. There seems to me to be a connection between the moral authority of MLK & his refusal to turn hysterical or insane…

    But it won’t do to say slavery was Democrat. Slavery was pre-American English. Slavery was the way the Founders–except Hamilton, Adams, Franklin & such men like them–lived in leisure. Slavery was necessary to the Revolutionary war, as it turned out, so that North & South could fight together. Slavery was taken as important enough that the word slave is not written into the Constitution, even when it is clearly meant. The political attempt & the hope, Christian & democrat, to get rid of the monstrosity, failed. Then slavery became a Democrat thing. Then the war cambe.

    Further, slavery isn’t the whole question. Just like it won’t do to simply blame the South, it won’t simply do to blame liberals or Democrats. Slavery wouldn’t have happened or lived so long or had such a long after-life had white Americans not felt superior & alien to American blacks. Whites in the North would never have stood for Northern whites to be taken into slavery; or segregation; or anything like it.

    As for blacks, when the Northern metropolises were shaken by race riots in the Sixties, it became too clear to deny any more that there was no social contract there, either–that blacks & whites were not in fact part of the same social arrangement or regime or anything that could plausibly speak to them all of a common good. You can blame liberalism to some extent for that, but conservatives have a share in mid-century liberalism, too, just like in the Founding.

    Partisan blame is foolish. Really, the history is beyond tragic. Americans might live out centuries more & never rid themselves of their problems with race or of the sins of the past. There’s always a desire in America to think race no longer matters; or on the other hand to blame it as though it’s some fault or mistake, & hope that’s going to be the end of it. But it doesn’t seem to work. How could it, so long as Americans in their hearts are afraid of being called racist? What does that confess, or at least imply!

    Very true and very insightful. Fact is, not everything we don’t like lines up neatly with people and political movements we don’t like. Democrats today are racist if and when they say and do racist things, not because of what they said in 1927–or what Republicans said in 1927. So, yeah, it’s fun to blast back with inconvenient historical facts, as long as we recognize the limits of the joke. I’ve seen esteemed fellow members assert that Hitler was a leftist because of “National Socialism”, despite the facts that he presented himself, beginning to end, as Europe’s outstanding champion of anti-Bolshevism, defender of “family, kitchen and church” Germany, and enemy of moral decay. He was on the Right. That doesn’t make him “one of ours”. Rather than left or right, he falls into a special category: insane murderous dictator, a species that occurs in many nations and ethnic groups.

    • #4
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:31 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I’ve seen esteemed fellow members assert that Hitler was a leftist because of “National Socialism”, despite the facts that he presented himself, beginning to end, as Europe’s outstanding champion of anti-Bolshevism, defender of “family, kitchen and church” Germany, and enemy of moral decay. He was on the Right. That doesn’t make him “one of ours”. Rather than left or right, he falls into a special category: insane murderous dictator, a species that occurs in many nations and ethnic groups.

    That’s the problem with “left” and “right”. They are relative terms and their reference all depends on where you are standing. Every single viable political party in Germany today, even the conservative ones, are on the “left” in American terms.

    • #5
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:37 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. ST Inactive
    ST

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    You could say that in Germany & Italy, tyranny came with a right-wing bent as opposed to the left-wing bent in other places.

    Except I would not say that. Why Nazism and fascism are considered to be right-wing, I have never understood. Maybe it is a little bit like equivalating islamic-supremacism to Christianity by reminding the room, “But Timothy McVeigh!”

    • #6
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:38 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Titus Techera Contributor

    ST (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    You could say that in Germany & Italy, tyranny came with a right-wing bent as opposed to the left-wing bent in other places.

    Except I would not say that. Why Nazism and fascism are considered to be right-wing, I have never understood. Maybe it is a little bit like equivalating islamic-supremacism to Christianity by reminding the room, “But Timothy McVeigh!”

    This is because you do not understand what it means to be right wing. I would say, broadly speaking, this is no American’s business unless he’s ambassador or some kind of CEO for a trans-national corporation. Those people should know about some parts of European politics. Mostly, though, Americans don’t get heart attacks because they’re alien to European politics.

    But if somehow America decided to teach European history in school–I’ve heard crazier ideas…–then it would have to explain a bit about left & right emerging in the Assembly in France during the Revolution. Broadly, nineteenth-century European politics can be understood in those terms: The left is Enlightenment revolution politics–liberalism, socialism, Marxism, &c. The right is the counter-revolution, illiberal politics, anti-Enlightenment.

    Here’s something American kids are taught in the social sciences: Weber’s theory of political legitimacy. There’s traditional legitimacy & then there’s rational legitimacy. Most of American social science is founded on this guy, so it’s worth saying. That’s a crazy way of thinking about politics, but it does give a view of the conflict between rationalistic revolutionaries & throne-&-alter counter-revolutionaries.

    Fascists & Nazis were way more about defining the nation as the purpose of all human life than they were about any rationally-derived universal rights of man, independent of national origin.

    • #7
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. ST Inactive
    ST

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Really, the history is beyond tragic.

    Surely you can’t be talking about American history. America has done more to liberate people everywhere and create free markets than any other country ever. Yet we are derided and scorned more than any other country in the world. Usually by people who can’t wait to get out of their God forsaken hellholes to come to America and take part in the American dream.

    Aren’t people eating grass, tree bark, and even their babies in North Korea? Why doesn’t the world spend more energy on discussing “the history beyond tragic” in the hermit kingdom?

    BTW: Aren’t the NorKs getting shorter? Wassup with that?

    • #8
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:50 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. ST Inactive
    ST

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    This is because you do not understand what it means to be right wing.

    Maybe I don’t. Please define it for me.

    • #9
    • April 27, 2017, at 1:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Titus Techera Contributor

    ST (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Really, the history is beyond tragic.

    Surely you can’t be talking about American history. America has done more to liberate people everywhere and create free markets than any other country ever. Yet we are derided and scorned more than any other country in the world. Usually by people who can’t wait to get out of their God forsaken hellholes to come to America and take part in the American dream.

    Aren’t people eating grass, tree bark, and even their babies in North Korea? Why doesn’t the world spend more energy on discussing “the history beyond tragic” in the hermit kingdom?

    BTW: Aren’t the NorKs getting shorter? Wassup with that?

    ST, you have got to stop with this bellicose stuff. You don’t have to go to God-forsaken hellholes, unless you mean DC, & you don’t have to go further than reading your Lincoln to learn that there is something beyond tragic to American history. Do I need stronger language to get your attention? Next to a million fairly young men killed each other for the crime of being American. This is very serious stuff. No joke about Norks is going to change that.

    This is not to say that America didn’t save civilization a few times, or a few more.

    Both things are true.

    • #10
    • April 27, 2017, at 2:01 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Titus Techera Contributor

    ST (View Comment):

    Sure, here’s the briefest thing you need to know to work your way around left & right:

    Left & right emerging in the Assembly in France during the Revolution. Broadly, nineteenth-century European politics can be understood in those terms: The left is Enlightenment revolution politics–liberalism, socialism, Marxism, &c. The right is the counter-revolution, illiberal politics, anti-Enlightenment.

    The right was throne-&-altar counter-revolutionaries.

    Fascists & Nazis were way more about defining the nation as the purpose of all human life than they were about any rationally-derived universal rights of man, independent of national origin. That makes them right, not left.

    • #11
    • April 27, 2017, at 2:03 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. ST Inactive
    ST

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    ST (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Really, the history is beyond tragic.

    Surely you can’t be talking about American history. America has done more to liberate people everywhere and create free markets than any other country ever. Yet we are derided and scorned more than any other country in the world. Usually by people who can’t wait to get out of their God forsaken hellholes to come to America and take part in the American dream.

    Aren’t people eating grass, tree bark, and even their babies in North Korea? Why doesn’t the world spend more energy on discussing “the history beyond tragic” in the hermit kingdom?

    BTW: Aren’t the NorKs getting shorter? Wassup with that?

    ST, you have got to stop with this bellicose stuff. You don’t have to go to God-forsaken hellholes, unless you mean DC, & you don’t have to go further than reading your Lincoln to learn that there is something beyond tragic to American history. Do I need stronger language to get your attention? Next to a million fairly young men killed each other for the crime of being American. This is very serious stuff. No joke about Norks is going to change that.

    This is not to say that America didn’t save civilization a few times, or a few more.

    Both things are true.

    OK. Maybe I need to re-read my American history but until then, agree to disagree.

    • #12
    • April 27, 2017, at 2:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Titus Techera Contributor

    I can do you one better–I disagree about disagreeing! I tell myself, hey, this is Ricochet–we can pick this up again next year or who knows when. There’s no deadline, we always have the chance to have another conversation.

    So I say the same thing to you–we don’t have to agree to disagree now–we’ve got a chance to disagree again some other time & that’s a chance to agree, as well.

    Meanwhile, take care of yourself & keep the beer tent stories flowing!

    • #13
    • April 27, 2017, at 2:22 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. ST Inactive
    ST

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    ST, you have got to stop with this bellicose stuff.

    Did not realize that I was being a meany.

    Actually, as far as I know, only @zafar (to date) has felt the sting of my lash.

    • #14
    • April 27, 2017, at 2:24 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  15. outlaws6688 Inactive

    @yaf Run at the first sign of trouble.

    • #15
    • April 27, 2017, at 4:14 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Zafar Member

    ST (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    ST, you have got to stop with this bellicose stuff.

    Did not realize that I was being a meany.

    Actually, as far as I know, only @zafar (to date) has felt the sting of my lash.

    I am not into that! I don’t know why everybody assumes….

    • #16
    • April 27, 2017, at 4:41 AM PDT
    • 20 likes
  17. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    ST (View Comment):

    Sure, here’s the briefest thing you need to know to work your way around left & right:

    Left & right emerging in the Assembly in France during the Revolution. Broadly, nineteenth-century European politics can be understood in those terms: The left is Enlightenment revolution politics–liberalism, socialism, Marxism, &c. The right is the counter-revolution, illiberal politics, anti-Enlightenment.

    The right was throne-&-altar counter-revolutionaries.

    Fascists & Nazis were way more about defining the nation as the purpose of all human life than they were about any rationally-derived universal rights of man, independent of national origin. That makes them right, not left.

    Agree in context. But in your history lesson, you have Socialists on the “left,” and that is where they still like to think of themselves today. Progress, liberalism (in the modern sense of the word), enlightenment and so on.

    But I have trouble seeing what “socialism” seems to stand for today as anything other than what you’re calling “defining the nation as the purpose of all human life,” since attaining the goal seems to require State intervention in even the most intimate details of my daily goings on.

    So, doesn’t that place modern “Socialism” squarely on the right? With the Fascists and Nazis?

    • #17
    • April 27, 2017, at 4:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Randy Webster Member

    It says a lot about the state we’re in that the lack of a riot is remarkable.

    • #18
    • April 27, 2017, at 5:36 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  19. Titus Techera Contributor

    I’m not sure there’s really much socialism left; & very little Marxism. We’re moving in a different direction.

    Another confusion created by the strange intellectual mistakes people who call themselves libertarian or conservative often make turns around thinking in terms like ‘collectivist’ or ‘statist.’ The use of state power is inherently ambiguous, except in the sense that it installs or presupposes the legitimacy of the state. All societies are collectives in some sense.

    I’ll try to clarify things somewhat, so far as your questions go.

    1. Socialism, if it means anything, means nationalization of industry as a state policy–say the Labour platform until Mr. Blair or the Melenchon platform in France now. This is tied up with the unions as social organization of the working classes on their way to becoming integral agents of the state. What we’re dealing with no longer has any interest in either unioniation or nationalization.

    The administrative state–I think this is the best way to think about the mode of action & the instruments of action you have in mind–is emphatically a creature of Progress & Enlightenment. It’s all about rationalizing life, will we or nil we!

    But there is no reason to believe that the administrative state works in a national framework. Let there be no nation–this thing, the administrative state, can still work. Further, the administrative state does not justify its power or its decisions by a criterion of consent, much less by some historical criterion of togetherness. & there is plenty of evidence that the tendency of replacing politics–which depends on bodies politic–with administration is all about what in Hegelian terms we could call the World State, homogeneous, bureaucratic, the milieu of the End of History, or meaningful change. That’s one vision of Progress that still moves at least some people–it’s one of the few remaining ways of thinking about Enlightenment left over from the early 19th c.

    2. The connection between the tyrannies of the 20th c. is Progress. Enlightenment taught people to believe that older is worse & newer is better. To the ancient Philistinism that says, nothing new can be good, a new Philistinism answered–only the new can be good. One cannot today read Woodrow Wilson or John Dewey–not usually considered villains–without being frightened… The logic of revolution & History implied that newer is better. By that standard, all the tyrannies of the 20th c. were far newer & better than old-time regimes like the constitutional politics of England or America. Many people, including many in the governing or influential classes, in the UK & the US, also believed that they were obsolete & in need of some revolutionizing. It seems like only imminent danger cures people of some of their delusions…

    • #19
    • April 27, 2017, at 5:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Zafar Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Sure, here’s the briefest thing you need to know to work your way around left & right:

    Left & right emerging in the Assembly in France during the Revolution. Broadly, nineteenth-century European politics can be understood in those terms: The left is Enlightenment revolution politics–liberalism, socialism, Marxism, &c. The right is the counter-revolution, illiberal politics, anti-Enlightenment.

    The right was throne-&-altar counter-revolutionaries.

    Fascists & Nazis were way more about defining the nation as the purpose of all human life than they were about any rationally-derived universal rights of man, independent of national origin. That makes them right, not left.

    This ^

    • #20
    • April 27, 2017, at 5:45 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Reagan once said something like “Forget about left and right, think of it as up and down. Up is freedom, down is tyranny. We’re for freedom.”

    • #21
    • April 27, 2017, at 5:54 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  22. Titus Techera Contributor

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    Reagan once said something like “Forget about left and right, think of it as up and down. Up is freedom, down is tyranny. We’re for freedom.”

    That is a better way to think about things. Americans are a free people & want to stay free. The distinction between freedom & tyranny, therefore, is the most important one to keep in mind. But not even the word tyranny is used anymore–it got replaced by things like dictatorship or authoritarianism for foreign use, & for domestic purposes, any number of partisan terms of endearment. Of course, foreign policy is not without its own partisanship–why terms like colonialism exist…

    So the corruption runs deep. Most people are not interested in political theory–they’re interested in politics, in what goes on in the world around them & what to do about it. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to get the one without the other–political talk in our times is infected with theoretical language.

    Just think about the everyday stuff, not the pundits. Nobody wants to call someone haughty, arrogant, condescending, a snob, a show off, or an

    Editor's Note:

    Automatically redacted for Code of Conduct violation: Obscenities and vulgarities.

    If you are the author, you can edit this and remove the offending word. This is an automatic filter and does not reflect editorial judgment.

    –it’s gotta be virtue signaling, all day & all of the night. Language deteriorates & minds turn into repetitive reflexes… Nobody talked that way two years back; it might disappear soon; but for a while, it made people feel scientifically & morally justified in treating other people badly–or, usually, thinking badly of them. At the same time, it dealt another blow to a common sense language about politics, never mind the terms of art of the political art…

    In practical terms, Americans need to know basics about how America works & who’s an ally or an enemy. The rest is negotiable & things become of interest or lose interest depending on events. Knowing basics about America is not negotiable. Thinking about left & right is useless for American politics. I don’t have anything against people who do it, but it does make it way harder to show people what world they’re living in.

    Here’s another matter. One advantage of winning world wars is, you get to go home. You don’t have to obsess over other countries’ troubles political, intellectual, cultural, or whatever else might distort language.

    People have just become far too sophisticated for their own good & it’s a struggle to get them back to basics.

    • #22
    • April 27, 2017, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Profile Photo Member

    ST (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    You could say that in Germany & Italy, tyranny came with a right-wing bent as opposed to the left-wing bent in other places.

    Except I would not say that. Why Nazism and fascism are considered to be right-wing, I have never understood. Maybe it is a little bit like equivalating islamic-supremacism to Christianity by reminding the room, “But Timothy McVeigh!”

    They’re all marxists. When you define right and left within Marxism you get international socialism on the left and national socialism on the right.

    Liberty isn’t an option.

    • #23
    • April 27, 2017, at 6:22 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Profile Photo Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    It should go without saying…

    You should give that thought more consideration.

    • #24
    • April 27, 2017, at 6:25 AM PDT
    • Like
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Just want to say that I’m so pleased to see a college campus being polite to D’Souza. Kudos to you and your fellow students–even if some of their ideas are misguided! ;-)

    • #25
    • April 27, 2017, at 6:29 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  26. TooShy Coolidge

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Left & right emerging in the Assembly in France during the Revolution. Broadly, nineteenth-century European politics can be understood in those terms: The left is Enlightenment revolution politics–liberalism, socialism, Marxism, &c. The right is the counter-revolution, illiberal politics, anti-Enlightenment.

    The right was throne-&-altar counter-revolutionaries.

    I find your distinction between left and right interesting. But are those distinctions, which were appropriate to describe what was going on in France a couple of hundred years ago, still useful in determining what is happening now?

    It certainly does not seem to describe conservatives and progressives today.

    A few months ago, I wrote my own piece here for Ricochet, outlining what I thought were the main differences between conservatives and progressives on a range of topics. I included the role of government, the nature of justice, means versus ends, reason versus passion, and a number of other areas in which I thought we can see a difference between left and right.

    https://ricochet.com/413820/conservatives-and-progressives/

    • #26
    • April 27, 2017, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. TooShy Coolidge

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Fascists & Nazis were way more about defining the nation as the purpose of all human life than they were about any rationally-derived universal rights of man, independent of national origin. That makes them right, not left.

    You say that the Nazis were about “defining the nation as the purpose of all human life” and against the “universal rights of man”–and then you go on to say that makes them “right, not left”. That seems a very odd conclusion to make. In fact, it seems back to front to me.

    I would think that conservatism has everything to do with the “universal rights of man”. I would also say that conservatism would reject “defining the nation as the purpose of all human life”.

    Why do you think that the universal rights of man are a value of the left, but not of the right?

    • #27
    • April 27, 2017, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  28. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I’ve seen esteemed fellow members assert that Hitler was a leftist because of “National Socialism”, despite the facts that he presented himself, beginning to end, as Europe’s outstanding champion of anti-Bolshevism, defender of “family, kitchen and church” Germany, and enemy of moral decay. He was on the Right.

    By that measure, Nancy Pelosi is on the Right because she feigns to be motivated by Christian compassion. It’s not like Leftists have nothing to say about social mores or they never cite traditions of their own.

    That Hitler was anti-Bolshevism is no more significant than Stalin being anti-fascist. The basic argument of most modern conservatives is that communists and fascists both favor a centralized authority dictating to everyone how to live, whereas the Right supposedly represents limits upon political authority.

    Certainly, this formulation is problematic, @titustechera, because the original American concept of political justice is extraordinary. It is exceptional, and not as the tip of a spear. It is not avant garde, but rather a break with normal human attitudes. So to apply the American version of Left/Right to Europe is a stretch, at least.

    If we begin from the French model of populists vs royalists, we see that both sides favor extensive centralized authority. The difference is only in who rules. Populists/communists claim to represent the people’s will. Royalists/aristocrats claim to represent the people’s best interests. The illusion of public participation is the only difference.

    For fascism of the Right to make sense, one must pose the Left as progressive and the Right as regressive. That is, the Left longs to push forward to new models and values while the Right longs to return to old ways. This view could be applied to populists vs royalists, but in my opinion these are incidental rather than essential features because the point of fascism is control and not ideology.

    • #28
    • April 27, 2017, at 7:46 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  29. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    By the way, I confess to not understanding the common claim of conservatives that nationalism is a modern idea. Prioritizing nationality over local, philosophical, or theological identities is older even than the ancient Romans and Greeks. It’s older than Babylon and Assyria. It’s older than castles and fortifications.

    So to associate fascism with preference for state loyalty makes no sense to me. Both Democrats and Republicans encouraged voters to prioritize the state. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” is the American Left’s favorite presidential quote. Republican patriotism is more oriented toward the military, but we haven’t seen much in the way of limited government from Republicans in my lifetime.

    • #29
    • April 27, 2017, at 8:11 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  30. I Shot The Serif Member
    I Shot The Serif

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Prioritizing nationality over local, philosophical, or theological identities is older even than the ancient Romans and Greeks. It’s older than Babylon and Assyria. It’s older than castles and fortifications.

    This is true. One student at the event basically asked, “Isn’t all this ‘Make America Great Again’ stuff fascist?’ D’Souza told him that nationalism is a characteristic of fascism but by no means exclusive to fascism.

    • #30
    • April 27, 2017, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 9 likes

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