Sunday, November 5, 2017

Camille Paglia Speaks

Camille Paglia restores your faith in intellectual integrity. Coming from the radical left, a supporter of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, Paglia offers her thoughts on the passing political scene. They are clear, incisive and to the point. Why is it that Paglia’s fellow denizens of the left do not contribute as decisively to our politics?

Paglia’s remarks today come to us from the Weekly Standard. This tells us that the WS is open to views that are not mainstream conservative. It also leaves us wondering whether a liberal journal would have published them.

Paglia has a begrudging respect for Donald Trump:

The point here is that Donald Trump won the nomination fair and square against a host of serious, experienced opponents who simply failed to connect with a majority of GOP primary voters. However, there were too many unknowns about Trump, who had never held elective office and whose randy history in the shadowy demimonde of casinos and beauty pageants laid him open to a cascade of feverish accusations and innuendos from the ever-churning gnomes of the cash-propelled Clinton propaganda machine. In actuality, the sexism allegations about Trump were relatively few and minor, compared to the long list of lurid claims about the predatory Bill Clinton.

As for the Democrats, their nomination process was obviously rigged:

My position continues to be that Hillary, with her supercilious, Marie Antoinette-style entitlement, was a disastrously wrong candidate for 2016 and that she secured the nomination only through overt chicanery by the Democratic National Committee, assisted by a corrupt national media who, for over a year, imposed a virtual blackout on potential primary rivals. Bernie Sanders had the populist passion, economic message, government record, and personal warmth to counter Trump. It was Sanders, for example, who addressed the crisis of crippling student debt, an issue that other candidates (including Hillary) then took up. Despite his history of embarrassing gaffes, the affable, plain-spoken Joe Biden, in my view, could also have defeated Trump, but he was blocked from running at literally the last moment by President Barack Obama, for reasons that the major media refused to explore.

As has often been noted on this blog, among other places, Hillary’s many titles were not matched by significant achievement. Paglia says:

Among the electorate, the most fervid Hillary acolytes (especially young and middle-aged women and assorted show biz celebs) seemed obtusely indifferent to her tepid performance as Secretary of State, during which she doggedly piled up air miles while accomplishing virtually nothing except the destabilization of North Africa.

Traditionally, the political parties make a show of unity after an election. The losing party especially accepts defeat graciously and participates in the ceremonial passing of power to the new president. Then, the losing party becomes what we call the loyal opposition, loyal to the nation, loyal to democracy, but opposing those in power. When mainstream Democrats, like Hillary herself, declare themselves to belong to the “Resistance,” a disloyal opposition to a Nazi dictatorship, they have jumped the shark. 

Paglia explains:

Had Hillary won, everyone would have expected disappointed Trump voters to show a modicum of respect for the electoral results as well as for the historic ceremony of the inauguration, during which former combatants momentarily unite to pay homage to the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. But that was not the reaction of a vast cadre of Democrats shocked by Trump's win. In an abject failure of leadership that may be one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the modern Democratic party, Chuck Schumer, who had risen to become the Senate Democratic leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, asserted absolutely no moral authority as the party spun out of control in a nationwide orgy of rage and spite. Nor were there statesmanlike words of caution and restraint from two seasoned politicians whom I have admired for decades and believe should have run for president long ago—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes?

Paglia is hardly alone among Democrats in bemoaning the mindless embrace of identity politics. It is a losing hand and they should fold it.

As opposed to many on the left and the right, Paglia does not see the Trump administration as chaos central, but believes that it is methodically undoing the administrative state oppression of the free market economy:

Trump seems to be methodically trying to fulfill his campaign promises, notably regarding the economy and deregulation—the approaches to which will always be contested in our two-party system. His progress has thus far been in stops and starts, partly because of the passivity, and sometimes petulance, of the mundane GOP leadership.

As for her views of GOP congressional leadership, she is clearly right.

Paglia denounces Democrats for being detached from reality, especially from the reality that a builder like Trump lives for. She especially emphasizes the current Democratic obsessions with compassion, aka, empathy, and notes sagely that these empathetic Democrats have no empathy whatever for Trump voters:

Many highly educated, upper-middle-class Democrats regard themselves as exemplars of "compassion" (which they have elevated into a supreme political principle) and yet they routinely assail Trump voters as ignorant, callous hate-mongers. These elite Democrats occupy an amorphous meta-realm of subjective emotion, theoretical abstractions, and refined language. But Trump is by trade a builder who deals in the tangible, obdurate, objective world of physical materials, geometry, and construction projects, where communication often reverts to the brusque, coarse, high-impact level of pre-modern working-class life, whose daily locus was the barnyard. It's no accident that bourgeois Victorians of the industrial era tried to purge "barnyard language" out of English.

Paglia adds that the media failed completely to cover a recent Trump speech about regulatory relief. The Weekly Standard quotes it at considerable length. She comments:

Of course this rousing speech (with its can-do World War Two spirit) got scant coverage in the mainstream media. Drunk with words, spin, and snark, middle-class journalists can't be bothered to notice the complex physical constructions that make modern civilization possible. The laborers who build and maintain these marvels are recognized only if they can be shoehorned into victim status. But if they dare to think for themselves and vote differently from their liberal overlords, they are branded as rubes and pariahs.

To continue, Paglia denounces liberals for failing to perceive the threat of radical Islam, or even to call it what it is:

The reluctance or inability of Western liberals to candidly confront jihadism has been catastrophically counterproductive insofar as it has inspired an ongoing upsurge in right-wing politics in Europe and the United States. Citizens have an absolute right to demand basic security from their government. The contortions to which so many liberals resort to avoid connecting bombings, massacres, persecutions, and cultural vandalism to Islamic jihadism is remarkable, given their usual animosity to religion, above all Christianity. Some commentators have suggested a link to racial preconceptions: that is, Islam remains beyond criticism because it is largely a religion of non-whites whose two holy cities occupy territory once oppressed by Western imperialism.

Finally, Paglia addresses the issue of transgenderism. She remarks that feminists in Australia and Great Britain, as opposed to their pusillanimous American counterparts, have openly rejected the current folie a plusieurs that has infected the minds of their American counterparts. She notes in particular the work of Australian feminists Germaine Greer and British feminist Sheila Jeffreys.

Paglia explains:

I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.

Yes, indeed.

It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming (a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence) flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender. Biology has been programmatically excluded from women's studies and gender studies programs for almost 50 years now. Thus very few current gender studies professors and theorists, here and abroad, are intellectually or scientifically prepared to teach their subjects.

The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one's birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.

Fancy that... an appeal to cold biological truth.


James said...

I like Paglia, but I must admit that quite a few of my hare brained ideas have been torched by her. My butt carries the scorch marks.

sestamibi said...

As a GOP activist of many years standing, I obviously had no dog in the Bernie vs. Hillary dustup. However, I will observe that the Dems' practice of appointing "superdelegates" suggested that the fix was in for Hillary. I am proud that the GOP has no such provision, and every single delegate to our national convention is chosen through the process. That includes all the party elders, many of whom are selected this way, but at least they don't go automatically.

Had the Dems not had a superdelegate provision, Hillary probably would have won the nomination anyway, but it would have been far closer and possibly not decided on the first ballot. If the Republicans DID have a superdelegate provision we would have had Jeb! as our nominee and he would have lost in a landslide.

Gospace said...

Islam remains beyond criticism because it is largely a religion of non-whites is an oft seen sentiment that is untrue. It is largely the religion of Arabs and Persians- who are Caucasian. Strip them of native dress, place them in a suit and tie and throw them into any major Western city, and they're indistinguishable form any other Western businessman by appearance. And if you search Arab or Persian supermodels to see some of the women who've escaped the burqa, some look a little exotic, but they're white.

Which is why I absolutely detest people who equate a rational dislike of Islam with racism.

Anonymous said...

Camille Paglia is a poser. She's still a bitter clinger to the failed liberal/now leftist ideology. If she was truly smart, she would switch over, but that would be too difficult for her. You give her too much credit, Stuart.

Blahgga the Hutt

Anonymous said...

You're right that the Democrats should fold that silly identity politics hand. The point is, if demographic changes will inevitably propel them to power, there is no NEED to be so spiteful and nasty. In the interim they should just make nice, since victory will be theirs within a decade or two anyway.

Uncle Max said...

What a coincidence! Heh. I just watched her do a sit-down with Jordan Peterson. A lengthy talk and she is quite energetic and robust. A good conversation and she covers all what you mentioned in the article and more. It's a long interview at a little over 1+40 minutes... but fascinating and clarifying. I really enjoyed it.

Ares Olympus said...

I don't know if I'd use the phrase "intellectual integrity" to describe Paglia's style. She self-described as a provocateur, a master of the narrative, hoping if she can talk fast enough, her self-contradictions can be bypassed. There is status and affluence available for pointing out the contradictions and hypocrisy of others. So its useful in times where structures need to be torn down, but there's no guarantee that what arises in the ashes will be an improvement.

The real problem of the elite Democrats, like the Clintons, it would seem is they act too much like Republicans, happily taking Republican ideas like expanding sentencing of criminals and ending Glass-Steagall and expanding the ability of banks and Wallstreet to gamble retirement investments.

And while we can praise that the GOP enabled the rise of Trump by refusing to stop it, we can contrast the opposite happened with Ron Paul in 2008, who tried to lead his own southern common sense populism, and was sabotaged at many levels, including being blocked from speaking the RNC in 2008. McCain tried to capture the heart of the right-populism by taking folksy Sarah Palin, but probably no republican would win the presidency in 2008. Its amazing that McCain is worth so much wrath now on the right, and his naivity of working across the aisle is a feel-good joke of someone who won't be with us much long. All political power is now party only, and if the country sometimes aligns with party interests, that's all you can hope for.

If Paglia was a better provocateur, perhaps she'd just say Americans are not a country of intellectual giants, but a mob that turns on a dime and eats its own, and will believe any lies that makes them feel better about themselves for the moment, while enabling the next round of criminals to fleece them. Of course that's probably going too far, and is a self-fulfilling prophesy, while that's merely what Russia and the rest of the world wants us to believe. If we can just believe that all public servants are equally corrupt, then we'll give up voting all together and let the self-interested billionaires to set all the rules, and we can go the way of Russia.

Surely we should just accept that money has won the day, and justice has only two forms - what money can buy you, and what other people's self-righteous wrath can work for you to cover up your own corruption.

If there's any doubt about the corruption of the Republicans and Trump, you only have to look at how they treat the national debt limit, as a political weapon when the Democrats are in charge, but when they're in charge, its cut taxes and let the deficits explode, and try to goose the easy money economy one more year, while socking away their assets in safe places for when the bubble collapses.

Sam L. said...

How much did the National Debt diminish during the Obama years, Ares?

Ares Olympus said...

Sam L. said... How much did the National Debt diminish during the Obama years, Ares?

I was all-in for the Ron Paul "let everything collapse" experiment and see what survives when the debt merry-go-round is permanently frozen, but of course this is where international competition comes to the rescue. Few nations commit suicide because of their excesses.

But the real disasters are still coming, since the way we've carried the new debt is via low interest rates, and this can't be a permanent solution. Yet the sovereign federal debt is the least of our worries, and I expect we'll add another $20 trillion during the 2018-2024 second great recession even without GOP tax cuts.