To understand what followed, you have to picture what the United States was like in the early 21st century. That’s hard to do, because life in the old U.S. of A. had departed so far from everything normal, everything natural to mankind, that any analogy, any description sounds hyperbolic. But it isn’t.
Real life, as countless generations had lived it, had essentially vanished into a “virtual reality” devoid of all virtue.
Husband and wife and children, home and household and community, field and farm and village, the age-old lines and limits of our lives, had been shattered into a thousand fragments. Reality was what came through an electronic box, not what you saw out your own front door. Not that you looked out your front door, for fear of what might be looking in, carrying a gun. It might be a stranger, or your own kid, or both.
Everything was political. You chose your words politically, your clothes politically, your entertainment politically. If all three were clean and dull, you were on the right. If they were dirty and suggestive, you were on the left. You had to be one or the other, because everything was.
You lived a lie, one or another, because everything was political and politics was all lies. We were told we were free. It was a lie, because the tentacles of government had a sucker on every sucker. We had elections, and they were lies because all the candidates were from the same party, the New Class.
America’s New Class was the French aristocracy of 1789, without the grace. Like that aristocracy, it performed no function beyond living well. Instead of “Let them eat cake,” it said “Let them eat free trade.” Instead of Marie Antoinette, who had charm and innocence, it gave us Hillary Clinton, who had neither. The French aristocracy held balls, ours held elections. Neither changed anything, but the French gave us good music.
The national sport was voyeurism, done electronically. Day and night, the television, Satan’s regurgitation into our souls, paraded the sad lives of other people for our entertainment. No need to peep in the neighbor’s windows – just turn on the box. Lucky the citizen who got to do the parading, as he or she thus became real.
Despite our fears, 1984 never came. We got a Brave New World instead.
We stopped making things, and kept getting poorer, but no one put the two together as cause and effect. The GNP continued to rise, because the government kept the statistics.
The solution, we were told, was more technology. We knew less and less, but computers would transmit our ignorance faster. Schools taught our children how to peck at the blue dot on the machine to get a piece of corn.
Or, the solution was big business. The New Class on Wall Street would drive down in their Mercedes to save us from the New Class in Washington. People would find dignity and security by being reduced to commodities. It was more efficient than slavery. You couldn’t sell an elderly slave, but you could fire one.
The New Class—cultural Marxists all—told us there weren’t any rules, then they set rules. They reached down into society’s gutter, plopped whatever they found there on the civic altar and demanded we bow down and worship it. So long as it was sewage—moral, cultural, behavioral—it was fine and good and worthy of adoration. Those who would not bow were ruled out.
We were, of course, collectively mad. There’s nothing new about that. From Athens under Cleon through the Tulip Bubble to Party Day at Nuremburg, collective madness has been part of the human tale.
The way to such madness is always the same. Create a false reality, through fine speeches, dreams of wealth beyond avarice, ideologies of revenge and redemption, video screens, whatever.
Stoke the fire hot enough that no one can look away from it. Drive the dance faster and faster, so it entrances, mesmerizes, draws all into it. Think and you’ll miss a step and fall. Fall and you’ll get trampled. Beat the tom-toms quicker and louder. Dance the Ghost Dance long enough, hard enough, and the bullets will pass through you without touching you.
Reality always wins. The farther a people has danced away from it, the more they’ve done the danse macabre.
Americans had done quite a dance by the time we found ourselves in the 21st century. The gap between our virtual reality of techno-driven life-as-entertainment cultural freak show and reality itself was the size of the Mariana’s Trench. When America’s virtual reality collapsed, as it would, the implosion would be stupendous, as it was.
My task, as I settled back into the remains of a Maine winter in 2017 as Commandant of the Christian Marine Corps, was not to bring about the collapse. The nature of man would provide that, all by itself.
Rather, I had to think through what to do when it came. What did we want to rescue out of it? Could we rescue anything? How could a general staff of civilized men who understood war—really understood it, from history, not just by virtue of having had rank in some military bureaucracy—make a difference?
One thing I understood from the outset, again thanks to having some acquaintance with history. The answer did not lie in ideology, right or left, old or new. All ideologies failed and always would fail, because by their nature they demand and create a virtual reality. They all require that some aspect of reality, economic or racial or sexual or whatever, be ignored—more than ignored, deliberately not seen. That was a fatal error, always, because whatever part of reality you don’t see is the part that kills you.
A meeting in Waterville showed me the way around that problem, and also what we could fight for—not just against.