The Final Stage of Revolution

Recognizing the Revolutionary Process in History

By Otto Scott

“The final stage in all revolutions is an assault against the Executive. Historically, this has taken various forms.”

During President Reagan’s Administration, the Wall Street Journal editorialized about a confrontation between the Congress and the Executive Branch. The Journal described the confrontation as whether or not the president [Ronald Reagan] had violated the 1947 National Securities Act or the Boland Amendment attached to an appropriations bill in 1983, two years after Reagan took office. The Journal wondered whether the results of the prior presidential election would be overturned in favor of the foreign policy of Clayborn Pell, who was against resistance to Communism. The Journal subsequently asked how we can arrive at a consensus between what it called “the wholly incompatible view of the world and U.S. security by such politicians as Senators Pell, Kerry, Mikulski and Dodd?” Unfortunately, this adds up to more than a struggle between two political parties holding the same basic beliefs. It adds up to another stage in what is, and has been an unfolding revolutionary process.

In France in the 1790s, during the great proto-typical secular revolution of modern times, the assault against the Executive was mounted from inside the Legislature. That final stage began when the Estates General were transformed into a General Assembly—a more radical body. The legislators in the Assembly launched a series of “inquiries”—miniature trials, so to speak—against the Crown, the Nobility, the Clergy and, ultimately, even centrist members of the Assembly itself. These proceedings were noisily supported by claques in the Assembly gallery, by partisans parading in the streets, by demonstrators and rioters, and by a radical press. This revolutionary chorus created the impression that all France was on the rim of a volcano.

As the Left—the Jacobins—expanded their influence within the Assembly, they rewrote the Constitution, obtained its ratification and held elections in which they triumphed. Then their “inquiries” took on a new and sinister significance. The Courts of France, which had assisted the revolution to reduce the powers of the Crown, were reduced to impotence, together with all the other institutions of the ancient regime. By then the guillotine was in operation; Louis XVI and his Queen were sent to their deaths; an entire class was murdered.

Historians and commentators have told us, over and again, that revolutions are the result of long-standing injustice and poverty. They have described revolutions as inevitable, and they argue that in many respects’ revolutions are pathways to progress.

But when revolution appeared in France, that nation was the richest in the world. France had the largest land mass and the greatest number of people in all Europe. Its industries were the largest, it had the greatest number of wealthy and middle-class persons; its language was preferred for diplomacy, art, letters and science; it had more intellectuals than any other nation, more novels, more theater—and more license. Behavior under Louis XVI was unbridled. Paris, Marseilles and other French cities harbored sex clubs, cults, occult fashions, homosexual costume balls, wild theater and newspapers that combined pornography and radical politics. Adultery in the middle and upper classes was the mode and not a whim; the laws against insulting the Crown or blaspheming Christianity were dead letters. Poverty was at the lowest level in French history, though it existed.

How did revolution occur in so rich a society? The government of France rose under the Sun King, Louis XIV, and then fell in terms of stability, because the Sun King drained the Treasury with his wars and his extravagances. His successor listened to John Law, whose paper money experiment ruined thousands of prosperous families. Then more extravagances under Louis XV. Finally, when Louis XVI arrived, France had lost its North American colony and spent its last reserves helping the Americans against Britain. Saddled with an enormous deficit, the French government could no longer pay the interest on its bonds. The banks of Switzerland and Amsterdam closed against Paris. In that extremity, the financial experts told the King that there was only one solution. Raise taxes. That was why the Estates General were summoned (in the name of tax Reform), and where most historians start the date of the French Revolution.

Let’s add some social and intellectual factors. Economics cannot be separated from the body politic or the social context in which commerce and government function. There is nothing abstract about real life. The long reign of Louis XIV succeeded in boring all France, Voltaire launched his satires—his ridicules of the Christian religion, French manners and morals, French history and tradition, i.e., French culture. Voltaire’s success not only inspired an army of imitators; it launched a decades-long fashion. Eventually the fashion spawned Rousseau, who argued that man is good, and society is bad. If anyone did anything wrong, it was the fault of the System.

There would not have been a revolution in France if its intellectuals had not turned against French history, traditions, leaders and institutions. It was that onslaught which portrayed French patriotism as foolish, backward and reactionary.

Solzhenitsyn said, “to destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.”

He was talking about a nation’s memory, its history. The French intellectuals came to accept Voltaire’s description of their history as a record of criminality. As their self-respect waned, French morals loosened. Slander became another term for journalism. The underground press combined pornography and radicalism. It invented scurrilous lies about prominent persons.

Understanding, on any level, is difficult to achieve. Here in the United States, we have a population that combines personal commitment with intellectual detachment, and even disbelief. We have people who work hard, but refuse to think; refuse to add things up. There is a widespread conviction that nothing has a larger meaning.

In the face of a continuing trashing of this nation by its intellectuals, such an attitude is more than myopic. it is intellectually perverse. Every pre-revolutionary symptom of Paris in the 1780s as well as Leningrad in 1910 and Berlin in the 1920’s is among us today. The foreign agents; the mysteriously funded, unsettling publications; the cults and the homosexual clubs; the demonstrations and riots; the disorders; the demagogues; the international intrigues and the helpless bourgeoisie; the bankrupt government and Utopians talking about a new Constitution, while the Left mounts an assault on the Executive from the bastion of the Legislature.

All that separates us from Paris, 1789, and Berlin, 1930, is a financial debacle. Does anyone doubt that it is coming? We have accumulated a huge runaway deficit, and have become the world’s largest debtor nation at a time when nations which are in debt to us are in the process of organizing international defaults.

There is no difference between the revolution building here and elsewhere. The struggle to take control of the nation from inside Congress is no different than the methods applied successfully in France so long ago, in the Russian Duma, and in the German Reichstag. They seem foreign and different only to those who are unacquainted with revolution, and who harbor the quaint illusion that the United States is immune from the processes of unchecked revolution.

There have been, however, revolutions halted by individual action. For the revolutionaries, despite their boasts, do not always win. The revolutionary tide is not “inevitable.” In World War I, the German General Staff set up several efforts to win the war by subverting the governments of Russia, France and Britain. We know that their support of Lenin proved successful—and we know the price that Germany later paid to the Frankenstein it helped into life. But, the German General Staff also funded revolution in Ireland in 1916 (revolutions do cost money), and gave money to Sir Roger Casement and other Irish rebels. The Easter Rebellion, as it was called, failed—but not without loss of life and an exacerbation of ill-will between England and Ireland.

The most ambitious effort at subversion was made by Germany against France. There, German money and propaganda not only created mutinous cadres inside the French Army, but planted traitors inside the French Chamber of Deputies. These posed as ardent lovers of peace, and sought to weaken the French military effort and fighting spirit in every way. They were assisted by pro-German newspapers that promoted defeatism and surrender, and a gaggle of intellectuals of varying degrees of sincerity. General Petain quelled the Army mutiny by stern and secret measures, and Clemenceau, then in his 70s, rose inside the Chamber of Deputies to hurl the charge of treason—and made it stick. These two elderly men, one considered mediocre and the other at the end of his career, saved France from revolution at a moment of deep and terrible crisis.

In Spain, the revolution forced the abdication of the king in 1931. A Republic was declared, and several elections were won by the Left. Finally, the Left gained control of the Spanish Cates, and the government. It then consolidated its revolution by ordering all large family-owned estates broken up. Then, because the revolution was against religion and against freedom of thought or faith, it ordered all religious orders dissolved. But the revolution does not rely only upon decrees; it also uses terror. The Spanish government, under the control of revolutionaries, launched a wave of murders of priests and nuns, and the physical destruction of churches, convents and monasteries. At that, the Spaniards rose in rebellion, defeated the Communists and set off a wave of Leftist denunciations that endures to this day. But the revolution in Spain was rolled back.

The worldwide revolutionary tide continues to flow. It does more than lap at our shores: it has seeped into our Congress, it long ago entered our media, our universities and even our mainline churches. A leftist revolution can, as in France, Russia, Germany and elsewhere, carry us all beyond the point of peaceful return if we remain uncomprehending and passive.

Revolutions cannot be halted by incomprehension. But to know the plans of the enemy is to have a great advantage. To arouse the nation to those plans is not impossible; all America is uneasily aware that something is wrong. What is needed are voices to rally counter-revolutionary resistance. The defense of our tripartite government from congressional efforts to reduce the president to the status of a civil servant (answerable to congressional inquiries that usurp the proper functions of the courts) is a defense against the final stage of revolution.


Article from , originally delivered as “The Shape of Events [Our Revolution]” in 1987 and republished in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction vol. 13 no. 1, by the Chalcedon Foundation in 1991.

This article has been re-edited and condensed from the original by Gospelbbq.

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The DNC’s Resurrection of a Counterfeit Savior

The Liberation of the Demons

By Ludwig von Mises

The history of mankind is the history of ideas. For it is ideas, theories and doctrines that guide human action, determine the ultimate ends men aim at, and the choice of the means employed for the attainment of these ends. The sensational events which stir the emotions and catch the interest of superficial observers are merely the consummation of ideological changes. There are no such things as abrupt sweeping transformations of human affairs. What is called, in rather misleading terms, a “turning point in history” is the coming on the scene of forces which were already for a long time at work behind the scene. New ideologies, which had already long since superseded the old ones, throw off their last veil and even the dullest people become aware of the changes which they did not notice before.

In this sense Lenin’s seizure of power in October 1917 was certainly a turning point. But its meaning was very different from that which the communists attribute to it.

The Soviet victory played only a minor role in the evolution toward socialism. The pro-socialist policies of the industrial countries of Central and Western Europe were of much greater consequence in this regard. Bismarck’s social security scheme was a more momentous pioneering on the way toward socialism than was the expropriation of the backward Russian manufactures. The Prussian National Railways had provided the only instance of a government-operated business which, for some time at least, had avoided manifest financial failure. The British had already before 1914 adopted essential parts of the German social security system. In all industrial countries, the governments were committed to interventionist policies which were bound to result ultimately in socialism. During the war most of them embarked on what was called war socialism. The German Hindenburg Program which, of course, could not be executed completely on account of Germany’s defeat, was no less radical but much better designed than the much-talked-about Russian Five-Year Plans.

For the socialists in the predominantly industrial countries of the West, the Russian methods could not be of any use. For these countries, production of manufactures for export was indispensable. They could not adopt the Russian system of economic autarky. Russia had never exported manufactures in quantities worth mentioning. Under the Soviet system it withdrew almost entirely from the world market of cereals and raw materials. Even fanatical socialists could not help admitting that the West could not learn anything from Russia. It is obvious that the technological achievements in which the Bolshevist gloried were merely clumsy imitations of things accomplished in the West. Lenin defined communism as, “the Soviet power plus electrification.” Now, electrification was certainly not of Russian origin, and the Western nations surpass Russia in the field of electrification no less than in every other branch of industry.

The real significance of the Lenin revolution is to be seen in the fact that it was the bursting forth of the principle of unrestricted violence and oppression. It was the negation of all the political ideals that had for 3,000 years guided the evolution of Western civilization.

State and government are the social apparatus of violent coercion and repression. Such an apparatus, the police power, is indispensable in order to prevent antisocial individuals and bands from destroying social cooperation. Violent prevention and suppression of antisocial activities benefit the whole of society and each of its members. But violence and oppression are none the less evils and corrupt those in charge of their application. It is necessary to restrict the power of those in office lest they become absolute despots. Society cannot exist without an apparatus of violent coercion. But neither can it exist if the office holders are irresponsible tyrants free to inflict harm on those they dislike.

It is the social function of the laws to curb the arbitrariness of the police. The rule of law restricts the arbitrariness of the officers as much as possible. It strictly limits their discretion, and thus assigns to the citizens a sphere in which they are free to act without being frustrated by government interference.

Freedom and liberty always mean freedom from police interference. In nature there are no such things as liberty and freedom. There is only the adamant rigidity of the laws of nature to which man must unconditionally submit if he wants to attain any ends at all. Neither was there liberty in the imaginary paradisaical conditions which, according to the fantastic prattle of many writers, preceded the establishment of societal bonds. Where there is no government, everybody is at the mercy of his stronger neighbor. Liberty can be realized only within an established state ready to prevent a gangster from killing and robbing his weaker fellows. But it is the rule of law alone which hinders the rulers from turning themselves into the worst gangsters.

The laws establish norms of legitimate action. They fix the procedures required for the repeal or alteration of existing laws and for the enactment of new laws. They likewise fix the procedures required for the application of the laws in definite cases, the due process of law. They establish courts and tribunals. Thus, they are intent on avoiding a situation in which the individuals are at the mercy of the rulers.

Mortal men are liable to error, and legislators and judges are mortal men. It may happen again and again that the valid laws or their interpretation by the courts prevent the executive organs from resorting to some measures which could be beneficial. No great harm, however, can result. If the legislators recognize the deficiency of the valid laws, they can alter them. It is certainly a bad thing that a criminal may sometimes evade punishment because there is a loophole left in the law, or because the prosecutor has neglected some formalities. But it is the minor evil when compared with the consequences of unlimited discretionary power on the part of the “benevolent” despot.

It is precisely this point which antisocial individuals fail to see. Such people condemn the formalism of the due process of law. Why should the laws hinder the government from resorting to beneficial measures? Is it not fetishism to make supreme the laws, and not expediency? They advocate the substitution of the welfare state (Wohlfahrtsstaat) for the state governed by the rule of law (Rechtsstaat). In this welfare state, paternal government should be free to accomplish all things it considers beneficial to the commonweal. No “scraps of paper” should restrain an enlightened ruler in his endeavors to promote the general welfare. All opponents must be crushed mercilessly lest they frustrate the beneficial action of the government. No empty formalities must protect them any longer against their well-deserved punishment.

It is customary to call the point of view of the advocates of the welfare state the “social” point of view as distinguished from the “individualistic” and “selfish” point of view of the champions of the rule of law. In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly antisocial and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. They advocate enlightened despotism, but they are convinced that the enlightened despot will in every detail comply with their own opinion concerning the measures to be adopted. They favor planning, but what they have in mind is exclusively their own plan, not those of other people. They want to exterminate all opponents, that is, all those who disagree with them. They are utterly intolerant and are not prepared to allow any discussion. Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends’ unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to “liquidate” them. He scorns the “bourgeois” society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed.

The irreconcilable conflict of these two doctrines, rule of law versus welfare state, was at issue in all the struggles which men fought for liberty. It was a long and hard evolution. Again and again the champions of absolutism triumphed. But finally, the rule of law predominated in the realm of Western civilization. The rule of law, or limited government, as safeguarded by constitutions and bills of rights, is the characteristic mark of this civilization. It was the rule of law that brought about the marvelous achievements of modern capitalism and of its — as consistent Marxians should say — “superstructure,” democracy. It secured for a steadily increasing population unprecedented well-being. The masses in the capitalist countries enjoy today a standard of living far above that of the well-to-do of earlier ages.

All these accomplishments have not restrained the advocates of despotism and planning. However, it would have been preposterous for the champions of totalitarianism to disclose the inextricable dictatorial consequences of their endeavors openly. In the 19th century the ideas of liberty and the rule of law had won such a prestige that it seemed crazy to attack them frankly. Public opinion was firmly convinced that despotism was done for and could never be restored. Was not even the Czar of barbarian Russia forced to abolish serfdom, to establish trial by jury, to grant a limited freedom to the press and to respect the laws?

Thus, the socialists resorted to a trick. They continued to discuss the coming dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the dictatorship of each socialist author’s own ideas, in their esoteric circles. But, to the broad public they spoke in a different way. Socialism, they asserted, will bring true and full liberty and democracy. It will remove all kinds of compulsion and coercion. The state will “wither away.” In the socialist commonwealth of the future there will be neither judges and policemen nor prisons and gallows.

But the Bolshevists took off the mask. They were fully convinced that the day of their final and unshakable victory had dawned. Further dissimulation was neither possible nor required. The gospel of bloodshed could be preached openly. It found an enthusiastic response among all the degenerate literati and parlor intellectuals who for many years already had raved about the writings of Sorel and Nietzsche. The fruits of the “treason of the intellectuals” mellowed to maturity. The youths who had been fed on the ideas of Carlyle and Ruskin were ready to seize the reins.

Lenin was not the first usurper. Many tyrants had preceded him. But his predecessors were in conflict with the ideas held by their most eminent contemporaries. They were opposed by public opinion because their principles of government were at variance with the accepted principles of right and legality. They were scorned and detested as usurpers. But Lenin’s usurpation was seen in a different light. He was the brutal superman for who’s coming the pseudo-philosophers had yearned. He was the counterfeit savior whom history had elected to bring salvation through bloodshed. Was he not the most orthodox adept of Marxian “scientific” socialism? Was he not the man destined to realize the socialist plans for whose execution the weak statesmen of the decaying democracies were too timid? All well-intentioned people asked for socialism; science, through the mouths of the infallible professors, recommended it; the churches preached Christian socialism; the workers longed for the abolition of the wage system. Here was the man to fulfill all these wishes. He was judicious enough to know that you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Half a century ago all civilized people had censured Bismarck when he declared that history’s great problems must be solved by blood and iron. Now, the majority of quasi-civilized men bowed to the dictator who was prepared to shed much more blood than Bismarck ever did.

This was the true meaning of the Lenin revolution. All the traditional ideas of right and legality were overthrown. The rule of unrestrained violence and usurpation was substituted for the rule of law. The “narrow horizon of bourgeois legality,” as Marx had dubbed it, was abandoned. Henceforth no laws could any longer limit the power of the elect. They were free to kill ad libitum. Man’s innate impulses toward violent extermination of all whom he dislikes, repressed by a long and wearisome evolution, burst forth. The demons were unfettered. A new age, the age of the usurpers, dawned. The gangsters were called to action, and they listened to the Voice.

Of course, Lenin did not mean this. He did not want to concede to other people the prerogatives which he claimed for himself. He did not want to assign to other men the privilege of liquidating their adversaries. Him alone had history elected and entrusted with the dictatorial power. He was the only “legitimate” dictator because — an inner voice had told him so. Lenin was not bright enough to anticipate that other people, imbued with other creeds, could be bold enough to pretend that they also were called by an inner voice. Yet, within a few years, too such men, Mussolini and Hitler became quite conspicuous.

It is important to realize that Fascism and Nazism were socialist dictatorships. The communists, both the registered members of the communist parties and the fellow-travelers, stigmatize Fascism and Nazism as the highest and last and most depraved stage of capitalism. This is in perfect agreement with their habit of calling every party which does not unconditionally surrender to the dictates of Moscow — even the German Social Democrats, the classical party of Marxism — hirelings of capitalism.

It is of much greater consequence that the communists have succeeded in changing the semantic connotation of the term Fascism. Fascism, as will be shown later, was a variety of Italian socialism. It was adjusted to the particular conditions of the masses in overpopulated Italy. It was not a product of Mussolini’s mind and will survive the fall of Mussolini. The foreign policies of Fascism and Nazism, from their early beginnings, were rather opposed to one another. The fact that the Nazis and the Fascists closely cooperated after the Ethiopian war, and were allies in the second World War, did not eradicate the differences between these two tenets any more than did the alliance between Russia and the United States eradicate the differences between Sovietism and the American economic system. Fascism and Nazism were both committed to the Soviet principle of dictatorship and violent oppression of dissenters. If one wants to assign Fascism and Nazism to the same class of political systems, one must call this class dictatorial regime and one must not neglect to assign the Soviets to the same class.

In recent years the communists’ semantic innovations have gone even further. They call everybody whom they dislike, every advocate of the free enterprise system, a Fascist. Bolshevism, they say, is the only really democratic system. All noncommunist countries and parties are essentially undemocratic and Fascist.

It is true that sometimes also nonsocialists — the last vestiges of the old aristocracy — toyed with the idea of an aristocratic revolution modeled according to the pattern of Soviet dictatorship. Lenin had opened their eyes. What dupes, they moaned, have we been! We have let ourselves be deluded by the spurious catchwords of the liberal bourgeoisie. We believed that it was not permissible to deviate from the rule of law and to crush mercilessly those challenging our rights. How silly were these Romanovs in granting to their deadly foes the benefits of a fair legal trial! If somebody arouses the suspicion of Lenin, he is done for. Lenin does not hesitate to exterminate, without any trial, not only every suspect, but all his kin and friends too. But the Czars were superstitiously afraid of infringing the rules established by those scraps of paper called laws. When Alexander Ulyanov conspired against the Czar’s life, he alone was executed; his brother Vladimir was spared. Thus, Alexander III himself preserved the life of Ulyanov-Lenin, the man who ruthlessly exterminated his son, his daughter-in-law and their children and with them all the other members of the family he could catch. Was this not the most stupid and suicidal policy?

However, no action could result from the day-dreams of these old Tories. They were a small group of powerless grumblers. They were not backed by any ideological forces and they had no followers.

The idea of such an aristocratic revolution motivated the German Stahlhelm and the French Cagoulards. The Stahlhelm was simply dispelled by order of Hitler. The French Government could easily imprison the Cagoulards before they had any opportunity to do harm.

The nearest approach to an aristocratic dictatorship is Franco’s regime. But Franco was merely a puppet of Mussolini and Hitler, who wanted to secure Spanish aid for the impending war against France or at least Spanish “friendly” neutrality. With his protectors gone, he will either have to adopt Western methods of government or face removal.

Dictatorship and violent oppression of all dissenters are today exclusively socialist institutions. This becomes clear as we take a closer look at Fascism and Nazism.


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Salvation and the Gospel

What Gospel Do You Believe In?

By Mark R. Rushdoony

What gospel do you believe and preach? This sounds like such a simple question, but not all Christians are on the same page regarding the definition of such a basic element of the faith.

Early in the twentieth century, the Fundamentalist movement tried to resist growing Modernism by self-consciously focusing on what it saw as the most essential tenets of the Christian faith, its fundamentals.

An emphasis was placed on the message of saving faith in order to counter the Social Gospel. The Fundamentalists emphasized that the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate in human flesh, lived a sinless life, paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross, and rose again the third day. Those who repent of their sins and believe in His atonement for theirs are saved from damnation. This became known as the simple gospel.

The error of Fundamentalism was that it was itself a retreat, a fall-back position to the essentials as its leaders defined them. It was a truncated message. The simple gospel, while true, does not represent all that the gospel is. It is only a statement of what we mean when we say we are saved by the blood of Christ. It does not address all that Jesus Christ is in the gospel message.


Salvation in Scripture is more than “going to heaven” or “not going to hell.” In a familiar text (Matt. 7:14), Jesus said “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth into life …” Salvation is to an eternal life that begins when we enter the gate. In Acts 2:28, Peter echoed these words by referring to salvation as “the ways of life.” The simple gospel speaks of “the gate” but does not reference “the way.” Evangelical churches tend to be good at describing “the gate” to eternal life but not so good at pointing out “the way” of eternal life.

Why? The modern church tends to use the term salvation as a reference to justification by faith alone. It tells the sinner who professes faith, “You are in the gate; you are justified.” They then stop there, perhaps fearful of mixing works with grace, but nevertheless leaving the way of the new believer quite vague. The correct course is not to confuse faith and works but to demand faithfulness of all who profess faith. Jesus clearly saw the way as an extension of a man’s entrance into the gate by faith.

The simple gospel rightly sees entrance at the gate by faith as an event. The theological equivalent is to say justification is an act. We can say we were saved (past tense) but this is also our present and continuing status (present perfect tense). This status was often referred to when salvation was used in the Old Testament (the Hebrews being “saved from Egypt” or “saved from” enemies).

Salvation also meant the ongoing blessings salvation provided, so we see references to God’s “garments of salvation” and “wells of salvation.” Salvation in the Old Testament often referred to an ongoing protection, and was referred to as a “shield,” “helmet,” or “horn” of salvation. Paul used almost identical “armor” terminology in the New Testament to describe our ongoing life of salvation. Salvation is an ongoing status because eternal salvation begins at the gate but it is manifested in our walk of faith, our faithfulness. The act of justification is always accomplished by regeneration, so we continue as new creatures in Christ, “born again” to an empowered life of faith.

God’s salvation is a big-picture, covenantal salvation that transcends the individual. This is why God could tell Israel and later Judah of the terrible judgments that were coming on them yet still refer to Himself as the God of salvation.

The Gospel

Our word “gospel” means more than just “good news.” It comes from Greek words that have as their root evangel (hence the word evangelize and the noun evangelist). The word had a long history before its Christian use. It originally referred to a messenger who brought good news. Before modern means of communication, a messenger was dispatched to report, “Thus says my master.” Good news was often rewarded. In Greek thinking, good news was attributed to the gods, so the messages were sometimes accompanied by sacrifices. There was, then, a religious connotation to the evangel.

The religious meaning of evangel was amplified by the imperial cult, which was the deification of the Roman emperor. This began with Julius Caesar and was firmly established in the reign of Augustus. Everything about the emperor was good news, an evangel, or gospel. Since the emperor represented a divine blessing or even presence, everything about him had an aura of religious sanctity. His rule was itself a form of grace.

Ulrich Becker, writing in the New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, quoted a decree of Greeks in Asia in 9 B.C. which marked the birthday of Caesar Augustus:

It is a day which we may justly count as equivalent to the beginning of everything—if not in itself and in its own nature, at any rate in the benefits it brings—inasmuch as it has restored the shape of everything that was failing and turning into misfortune, and has given a new look to the Universe at a time when it would gladly have welcomed destruction if Caesar had not been born to be the common blessing of all men … Whereas the Providence (pronoia) which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue  for doing the work of a benefactor among men, and by sending in him, as it were, a savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere … and whereas the birthday of the God [Augustus] was the beginning for the world of the glad tidings [in the Greek the “evangel”] that have come to men through him … Paulus Fabius Maximus, the proconsul of the province … has devised a way of honoring Augustus hitherto unknown to the Greeks, which is, that the reckoning of time for the course of human life should begin with his birth.1

That was the gospel of the imperial cult. Its salvation was by Caesar.

When the word gospel was used in the New Testament, it immediately conveyed a messianic theme and was, in fact, a challenge to Rome’s gospel. In the New Testament it is Jesus Christ who brings in a new order and hope to the world, because He is a King like no other and His Kingdom will know no end.

This claim was not lost on the Romans. Pilate was anxious to ask Jesus if He claimed to be a king (Luke 23:1–3). In Acts 17 a crowd dragged Jason from his home because he was known to be a Christian friendly to Paul and Silas. The charge against the Christians was that they “turned the world upside down” (v. 6). What had the Christians done to warrant such an accusation? The charge was that the Christians “do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, one Jesus” (v. 7). This concerned everyone in Thessalonica (v. 8). Why? Because the claims of the gospel co-opted those of the imperial cult. The gospel of Jesus was being substituted for that of Rome.

Caesar’s gospel was messianic. He would be a blessing to mankind, the consummation of life, the savior who would create a new universal order. It was more than political promises, it was a faith that these things were certain.

Likewise, when Jesus cast out a demon (Matt. 12:28), it represented a faith whose implications He told the people to consider: “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” In fact, Jesus had already been proclaiming “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35).

When Mark wrote, he called his account “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Mark used historical narrative to show what the gospel entails.

The gospel does include the message of personal redemption, but that is only how men enter the Kingdom. The gospel accounts revealed what the Kingdom itself was like. The miracles of Jesus and the disciples represented the new order that Rome’s Caesars could promise but not deliver. The Kingdom of God could turn grief to joy and want to plenty. It could heal sickness, suffering, and pain. The miracles represented the reign of Jesus, the King who had established His Kingdom. The gospel of the Kingdom of God represented the real new order.

To restrict the gospel to an individual’s conversion is to speak of the gate alone. The way of the Kingdom (Acts 2:28) is life lived in the reality that Jesus Christ is King. The gospel is an invitation to both personal redemption, and life as citizens of the Kingdom of our Lord. It is more than a complimentary benefits package. Reducing the gospel is more than a simplification; it represents a truncation of the message into a man-centered emphasis. The gospel is all the good news of who Jesus Christ is and all His Kingdom means in time and eternity.


  1. Becker’s source is given as E. Barker, From Alexander to Constantine: Passages and Documents Illustrating the History of Social and Political Ideas 336 B.C.–A.D. 337, [1956] 1959, 211 f.; cf. W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones, II, No. 458; for other data on background see G. Friedrich, TDNT II 721–5).                                                                                                                                                                                                       Article from
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Emerging New Socialists: Advancing Progressively Backwards

Socialists and Fascists Have Always Been Kissing Cousins

By Bradley J. Birzer

In 1939, the same year the Germans and the Russians mutually consented to rape Poland, T.S. Eliot rather famously (or, I suppose for some, infamously) declared: “If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.” Eliot, of course, could not have been more correct. In 1936, you had three choices: National Socialism, international socialism, or dignity.

In 2018, we find ourselves in similar circumstances, even if they aren’t quite as clear cut as they were in 1936.

Of all the disturbing developments in culture and ideas over the last several years—including violence against legitimate authority, violence against the average citizen, and violence against the very ideas that undergird the West—few have been more disturbing than the reemergence of communism and socialism.

Why is this happening now, as much of Western civilization lingers in its twilight state? Most likely, it has to do with three critical things. First, we scholars have failed to convince the public of just how wicked all forms of communism were and remain. Most historians have focused their research and teaching on how “liberated” every form of eccentricity has become and how—in terms of race and gender—victims remain victims. Almost all historians ignore the most salient fact of the 20th century: that governments murdered more than 200 million innocents, the largest massacre in the history of the world. Terror reigned in the killing fields, the Holocaust camps, and the gulags.

Second, an entire generation has grown up never knowing such things as the Soviet gulags or even the Berlin Wall. Indeed, it’s been more than a full generation since communism existentially threatened sustained violence on a global scale. With America currently at the height of her power (militarily and economically, not spiritually or ethically), we are the bad guys of the world, if for no other reason than we stand—for the most part—above and alone.

Third, the five nations that remain officially communist—Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea and mainland China—seem to be relentlessly backward, mad, or capitalist. No one thinks about the first three countries anymore. North Korea looks like a loony bin. China seems more bent on profit and power more than anything it might profess officially.

Equally disturbing is that most younger defenders of communism buy into the oldest propaganda line of the Left—that real communism has never been tried and fascism is the polar opposite of communism. That the Nazis were actually “National Socialists,” these apologists argue, was merely a cynical ploy on the part of Hitler to gain the support of the working and middle classes of Germany. The term “socialism” meant nothing to Hitler. He was really a supporter of controlled corporate capitalism, not of the beautiful and compelling idea of socialism. Many of these young communism supporters go so far as to argue that those who label the Nazis “National Socialists” are either ignorant or willfully smearing a good word. While these new supporters have yet to proclaim those who call Nazis socialists as racists, they are coming close. A quick look at the social media response to a British conservative’s recent claim that National Socialism was—surprise!—socialist should be proof enough that communism is hardly dead and gone.

The young communists are more than convinced of their intellectual as well as their moral superiority. With dread certainty, they bully anyone who believes differently than they do. In other words, the Left is back and in full force, up to the same deceptions and tricks as it was in the 1920s and after.

That the National Socialists embraced socialism is factually accurate. Though they did not nationalize to the extent the Leninists wanted, they did nationalize very vital industry in Germany, even if by outright intimidation rather than through the law. In his personal diaries, Joseph Goebbels wrote in late 1925: “It would be better for us to end our existence under Bolshevism than to endure slavery under capitalism.” Only a few months later, he continued, “I think it is terrible that we and the Communists are bashing in each other’s heads.” Whatever the state of the rivalry between the two camps, Goebbels claimed, the two forces should ally and conquer. He even reached out to a communist in a personal letter: “We are not really enemies,” he offered.

Hitler admired Stalin, and the two willingly carved up Poland in 1939. One SS division named itself after Florian Geyer, a Marxist hero promoted by Frederick Engels in The Peasant War in Germany. Hitler actively recruited communists into the National Socialist movement, believing they were far more malleable than Christians.

The Italian fascists had even closer ties to the Marxists, with Mussolini having begun his career as a Marxist publicist and writer. A few Italian fascists even held positions in the Comintern. The only serious divide between the Italian fascists (or those who would become fascists) and Italian communists in the 1910s was their support, or not, of Italy’s participation in World War I.

In the West, one of the first to recognize these vital connections was none other than Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian turned Englishman. Nationalism is nothing “but a twin brother of socialism,” he proclaimed in a 1945 speech in Dublin.

In his profound work Reflections on a Ravaged Century, Robert Conquest labeled all forms of totalitarian socialism a type of “mindslaughter.” Fascism and communism share much in common, he argued. First, the two ideologies came from identical origins in 19th-century thought. Second, both celebrated the peasant revolts of the 1500s as foreshadowing 20th-century uprisings. Third, both claimed to speak in the name of “the people” and “the masses.” Fourth, both embraced a variety of social sciences and pseudosciences from the 19th century, though the Marxists did it with more finesse. Fifth, both claimed to be progressing humanity toward some end goal. And, finally, both accepted moral nihilism.

In his fascinating work The Faces of Janus, A. James Gregor convincingly argues that the rival claim for power in 1922 in Italy inaugurated a propaganda war between these two factions that lasted—at least rhetorically—to this day. “The enmities bred by the dispute,” Gregory writes, “ultimately reached such intensity that Marxists of whatever variety and nationality refused to acknowledge the heretical Marxist origins of the first Fascism.” From this point forward, Marxists began to write of fascists as “reactionary,” as “right-wing,” and as part of the last stages of capitalism. The debates among Marxists over fascism raged between 1922 and 1935 until the Communist International finally declared fascism to be the result of the economic downturn of the previous decade, “the sharp accentuation of the general crisis of capitalism.” As such, the communists officially defined fascism as “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capitalism.”

Since 1935, of course, fascism has become such a catch-all term for anything evil that it’s now a hollow thing, full of fury but devoid of substance. In addition to Gregor and Conquest, scholars and writers such as Sheldon Richman and Robert Higgs have done their very best (and their best is extraordinary) to define fascism properly. In general, though, their appeals to intellect and understanding have failed, falling only as pearls among the passionate swine.

Just as T.S. Eliot saw in Hitler and Stalin two sides of the same coin, so too did his close friend and ally, Christopher Dawson. In one of Dawson’s finest pieces, written in the immediate aftermath of the World War II, “The Left-Right Fallacy” (published in The Catholic Mind), Dawson rightly noted that there is no left and no right; there is only man and anti-man. That is, the divide is not horizontal but vertical. “The tactics of totalitarianism,” he wrote, “are to weld every difference of opinion and tradition and every conflict of economic interests into an absolute ideological opposition which disintegrates society into hostile factions bent on destroying one another.” The so-called and false divisions between a left and right, then, are “a perfect god-send to the forces of destruction.” Such a sophomoric notion of left and right becomes a blunt weapon, used to beat any and all opposition, while in actuality separating the human person from the human person, clothing each not in glory but in wretched rags of chaos and deceit. The results, Dawson realized, could only be confusion, disintegration, degradation, violence, inhumanity, hatred, and suspicion, disgracing even “a tribe of cannibals.”

This brings us back to Eliot in the 1930s. Not only did he see Stalin and Hitler as intellectual allies, not enemies, he recognized how reliant communism and fascism were on traditional religion—at least in their very heretical perversions. From T.S. Eliot’s “The Rock”:

But it seems that something has happened that has never happened before:

though we know not just when, or why, or how, or where.

Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no god;

and this has never happened before

That men both deny gods and worship gods, professing first Reason,

And then Money, and Power, and what they call Life, or Race, or Dialectic.

The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do

But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards

In an age which advances progressively backwards?

Sadly, the age that advances progressively backwards has not halted. Indeed, over the last several years, it has advanced backwards rather quickly, suddenly, and, fearfully, without end.


Bradley J. Birzer is The American Conservative’s scholar-at-large. He also holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and is the author, most recently, of Russell Kirk: American Conservative.

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History, the #MeToo Movement and Evangelical Christianity

 #Them Too

By Kay S. Hymowitz

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” We don’t know for sure whether it was Mark Twain who came up with that bon mot, but it has proved useful enough to deserve a creator of that stature. It comes in particularly handy in times like these, when many seemingly unprecedented events turn out to have familiar echoes from the past.

Such is the case with the #MeToo movement. Extraordinary as this post–Harvey Weinstein moment may seem, it’s not the first time that American women have risen up to protest male misbehavior. During the nineteenth century, women were in the vanguard of reform movements dedicated to fighting licentiousness, most of it male, and much of it sexual. If you squint hard enough to blot out the Victorian archaisms, these #MeToo prototypes can yield considerable insight into today’s reckoning.

Sociopolitical movements like #MeToo have taken root in many parts of the world, but no soil has been quite as fertile for them as that of the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville was struck by this peculiarity of American life during his canonical visit in 1831. “Not only do [Americans] have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part,” he wrote, “but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small.” The Frenchman had a theory about the origin of this early form of community organizing: in a democracy, he suggested, where, unlike aristocracies, power was diffuse, individuals had to join together in groups to wield any influence over their social arrangements. Associations—particularly in the Northeast and the Midwest—were a civic by-product of America’s brand of equality, freed from feudal, hierarchical memory.

If the 26-year-old wunderkind noticed the role that women were playing in these democratic associations, he didn’t mention it. Yet women were the majority, as well as the most energized, of converts during the Second Great Awakening, and they brought their enthusiasm to great moral causes of the era, beginning with a battle against prostitution, a fact of collective life in those days. Ladies of the night were ubiquitous in ports where sailors and other male transients congregated; according to historian Stephen Mintz, as many as 10 percent of women in antebellum cities at least occasionally walked the streets. In an economy that had yet to create jobs for textile “mill girls” and telephone operators, the world’s oldest profession was one of the few available to single women without means. It was a more lucrative choice than the even more prevalent domestic service, though it was not unknown for servants themselves to freelance during free hours. During the Great Awakening, evangelical ministers denounced the practice, but it was their female congregants who turned the cause into a Tocquevillian movement: in 1834, they founded the Female Moral Reform Society in New York. Within a few years, the society had 400 chapters, mostly in northeastern and midwestern states.

A march on Washington would have been logistically impossible at a time when no one had heard of frequent-flier miles, and strategically useless when all politics was truly local. Instead, the reformers marched on nearby brothels, where they passed out pamphlets and held prayer sessions. In the past, the working girls had suffered most of the blame for illicit sex, but reformers, some also active in abolition groups, tried to change public sentiment by recasting their “wayward” sisters as “white slaves,” held captive by “destroyers.”

They faced a bigger task than they realized, since their real enemy was more formidable than the brothel: male lust. The reformers proselytized against a double standard of sexual morality—not, as modern feminists have, with the goal of liberating women from sexual constraints, but rather to insist on “abstinence” for men as well as women. They wanted to protect “our daughters, sisters, and female acquaintances from the delusive arts of corrupt and unprincipled men,” as one contemporary pamphlet put it. Some chapters threatened to publish the names of brothel visitors, though they apparently never did. They did petition state legislatures to criminalize seduction and prostitution; for them, incarceration was the proper punishment not just for pimps but also for ordinary johns—or “seducers”—themselves.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the key battleground in the war against “corrupt and unprincipled men” moved from the brothel to the nearby (sometimes as close as upstairs) saloon. The newly opened western lands in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Kentucky helped make grain widely available. The ease of transporting wheat and rye and the relatively simple distillery process created a whiskey craze that lubricated communities across the young nation. Americans became world-renowned drinkers; foreign visitors often wrote in wonderment about their hosts’ indifference to water but exceptional thirst for whiskey. In Last Call, his masterful history of Prohibition, Daniel Okrent cites estimates that annual per-capita alcohol consumption among the drinking-age population (15 and older) ranged from 6.6 to 7.1 gallons by the early decades of the century, three times the typical intake of our own hardly abstemious citizenry.

The pattern became a familiar one in our social history: American know-how leads to technical innovation, leading in turn to cheap pleasure-enhancing products (Internet pornography and opioids, for example), and then to excess. The temperance movement became an essential counter to early American vices and a crucial mechanism for the spread of bourgeois self-control. A citizen moral police force was probably the only way to regulate the habits of people in nineteenth-century towns and urban neighborhoods where government had limited reach and where reliable shared norms had yet to take root. As evangelical and Quaker leaders weighed in against the plague of drunkenness, women once again took up arms.

The women’s temperance movement had its own excesses, some comical to modern ears. The most colorful of the activists was six-foot-tall Carrie Nation, who, Bible in one hand, hatchet in the other, slashed a “filthy” painting of Cleopatra at Her Bath before waving her weapons at the astonished customers in a Wichita hotel bar. (During other raves, Nation’s armamentarium included rocks, hammers, bricks, and iron rods.) In later protests that became known as the Women’s Crusade, more genteel Ohio activists knelt in front of local saloons, praying and singing, sometimes from dusk until sunrise. Some wore white ribbons tied in bows to signify “purity,” the logo for the largest women’s temperance group, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

The temperance era’s Victorian evangelicalism has made it something of an embarrassment for modern feminists and progressives, but it has more in common with #MeToo’s rebellion against male license than these antique details suggest. In a rough-hewn frontier nation struggling toward bourgeois stability, the temperance ladies weren’t being prigs in viewing whiskey obsession as a threat. Women were not immune to demon drink, but drunkenness primarily followed evenings in dark, rowdy, male-only saloons. Drunkenness really did make life miserable for many nineteenth-century women. Every town and urban working-class neighborhood whispered rumors about sodden husbands who beat their children, raped their wives, and impoverished their households.

Moreover, sobriety, like thrift, powered the growth of America’s middle class. Men who whiled away the hours at the saloon were not only unreliable (or worse) husbands; they were unproductive workers, ill-equipped to adapt to the industrial economy. Tocqueville at first condescended to temperance groups’ version of the “spirit of association,” calling it “amusing.” But he had a change of heart, concluding that they had reason to hate firewater: “frightened by the progress that drunkenness was making around them, [they] wanted to provide their patronage to sobriety.”

Evangelical Christianity was the moral framework for understanding and advancing the temperance mission. Meetings began with prayers. Their language—“vice,” “abstinence,” “purity”—may sound archaic to modern ears, but in a culture where the Bible was still The Book, its meaning was clear to everyone. Women were the moral guardians of the home, the “angel in the house.” Later feminists came to despise this idealization of wives and mothers, but it lent temperance activists great moral power. (Not that they were drunk, as it were, on their own virtue; they were only the “less tainted half of the race,” as Frances Willard, long-term president of the WCTU, modestly put it.) Paradoxical as it may seem to a generation at ease with celebrity mixologists and marijuana gummy bears, it wouldn’t be exaggerating to call the temperance movement the most significant organized challenge to male authority since, well, Lysistrata.

Indeed, the temperance movement created a crucial training ground for First Wave feminists. When male-run temperance groups refused to allow female volunteers to speak at meetings, evangelical women created their own organizations, where they spoke, wrote petitions and pamphlets, lectured, and strategized. By 1855, 13 states were already “dry,” and more states were debating the issue. This politicization of alcohol highlighted the absurdity of women’s status. They dominated public discussion of a crucial public issue, yet they were not permitted to vote on how to resolve it. The godmothers of First Wave feminism, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, first met at a temperance meeting in 1851. (Anthony had grown up in a Quaker, teetotaling home.) The two went on to found the New York State Women’s Temperance Society and petition the legislature for a law to limit the sale of liquor. After that august body refused to consider the document because most of the 28,000 signatures were from the second sex, Anthony and Stanton turned their energies toward women’s rights. It’s more than coincidence that the temperance movement’s Pyrrhic victory, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment (instituting Prohibition) and the Nineteenth Amendment (giving women the vote), arrived in the same year—1920, half a century later.

So what should a #MeToo nation make of its rhyming antecedent? First, a human, especially a male, tendency toward libertinism is an old, even universal, social challenge. Every society has had to figure out ways to contain it. Liberal societies have a smaller toolbox that—happily—doesn’t include approaches like purdah or arranged marriages for nine-year-olds, favored by some ancient cultures. For many on the left, one of the hardest lessons of Harvey Weinstein and his ilk is that on its own terms, liberalism is no cure for the problem of unmoored male lust.

Second, contra the feminist belief that dictates of modesty are the noxious product of a woman-hating patriarchy, American women—who, like their sisters worldwide, have more conservative attitudes toward sex than men do—have been eager guardians of sexual morality. America’s penchant for civic organizing gave nineteenth-century women a powerful vehicle for advancing what were genuinely their preferences. That activism continues today in the Women’s March and similar groups: #TimesUp and “Hands Off, Pants On,” a campaign by Chicago hotel workers, for instance. “Run for Something,” which recruits young progressives to run for office, was founded (primarily) by women who presumably will advance antiharassment agendas.

Third, American women are champion organizers. It’s safe to say that, with the demise of Rotary Clubs and other fraternal organizations, women now dominate civic life. Thirty percent of American women join civic organizations regularly; only 20 percent of men do. (This is aside from the large network of professional organizations that women have built up since entering the workforce in large numbers.) For better and worse, social media have increased the reach and volume of these old-style civic groups.

The temperance movement also raises some questions about the viability of #MeToo, despite its Internet microphone. Nineteenth-century women weren’t just wagging their fingers and shouting prayers at wayward neighbors; they were speaking in a common dialect embedded in Protestant morality and an American vision of individual rights. With those sources of wisdom weakened, #MeToo is hamstrung by a central paradox: it is a moral-reform movement without an intelligible morality. The sexual revolution, Second Wave feminism, and a general loosening of manners in the second half of the twentieth century disabled most of the familiar language and customs for regulating sexual relations.

Since the scandals started, commentators have pressed hoary terms like “inappropriate” and “misconduct” into service, but the meaning of these words is elusive in a post-sexual-revolution culture. Words like these imply a shared understanding of propriety and conduct, even though, outside of patently illegal acts like rape, violent assault, and workplace quid pro quo sex, no such understanding survived the social upheavals of the mid- and late twentieth century.

No less than the middle-class temperance crusaders, #MeToo activists are searching for a new etiquette for a vulgar and, in the present case, uncensored culture. Their efforts to ban certain forms of R-rated speech can seem arbitrary and wildly out of step with contemporary tastes. In an incident reminiscent of Carrie Nation, female customers in Philadelphia asked a restaurant to remove Ruth Orkin’s famous photo An American Girl in Italy. The photo has hung above diners’ heads in Italian restaurants since the 1960s, but its depiction of a grimy street full of men gawking at a pretty young woman in a summer dress now reads to some as demeaning to women. (Interestingly, the subject in the 1951 picture has said that she “loved” the male attention.) Women’s groups have demanded that the music-streaming company Spotify take the “misogynistic”—a different era would use terms like “immoral”—songs by Eminem and others off their playlists. Likewise, jokes with any sexual innuendo are now verboten in the office; enter an elevator with colleagues, lightheartedly ask for the floor for “ladies’ lingerie,” and expect your decades-long, award-winning career to hang by a nylon thread.

Another lesson from the nineteenth-century women’s crusades is even more challenging to a modern progressive sensibility: mores vary by class and culture. The temperance women, almost all Anglo-Saxon Protestants and middle class, openly espoused the class biases of their group. They scorned German and Irish immigrants, who had brought with them a love of beer drinking and a genius for brewing; Frances Willard referred to them as “the scum of the Old World.” In a witty riposte to this bigotry, saloon owners pinned posters to the walls of their establishments with a text announcing: “All Nations Welcome but Carrie,” next to a drawing of a hatchet.

No one could credibly accuse #MeToo activists of nativism. On the contrary, their leadership is visibly diverse. They have established legal funds for low-paid female service workers, many of them immigrants. Still, class haunts today’s moral-reform movement, just as it did that of the nineteenth century. Popular terms like “power imbalance,” “structural inequality,” “objectification,” and “intersectionality” convey the privileged status of the activists as much as the framed college diplomas on their desks. Authority for defining what’s inappropriate—a word vague enough to stump an Eagle Scout but powerful enough to ruin careers and families—has fallen to H.R. managers, lawyers, and activists. These are not people who drive pickup trucks or buy their coffee at McDonald’s. They are people who may well be unimpressed by accusations that they are “objectifying” women.

This point is easy to forget amid headline #MeToo stories about “privileged white men,” the well-to-do machers who can make or break women’s careers. But the rougher, déclassé habits of working- and lower-income-class men have also been in reformers’ sights. An early object of young feminist anger was “manspreading,” the tendency of some men to take up more than their share of space by sitting with their legs far apart on crowded subway cars. Manspreading critics viewed the habit as an example of white male entitlement, though, as a veteran subway passenger, I’ve found it to be far more common among men (of all colors) in work boots and sneakers than those wearing wingtips.

Young women intuitively know about this class divide from everyday experience. If they’re walking past a construction site, they gird themselves for the loud whistles from the hard-hats. When they pass a group of guys in suits lounging outside an office building, they know that they will, at most, be subject to a whispered comment. (What might happen at a closed-door meeting with the boss is another matter.)

Deeply entrenched class differences in public behavior, especially men’s behavior around women, have already shaken up American politics. Democrats, especially educated women, were incensed by Donald Trump’s vulgarity and sexual bravado, while Trump’s formerly Democratic working-class voters, more at ease with his construction-site coarseness, remained more blasé. Middle-class anger against the brazenly macho Trump is helping to fuel a new round of political activism among women, once again reminiscent of the temperance era. A record number of women are running for Senate, the House, and for governor, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Social scientists Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol have found that the electoral energy is taking root inside the contemporary counterpart of the parlors of the small-town or urban middle class: the living rooms of college-educated, suburban women.

There’s one other cautionary lesson from the nineteenth century—an especially important one, if, as seems likely, #MeToo culminates in more political power for women: the danger of revolutionary excess. Reformers of all stripes have a stake in amplifying the evil that they are combating and a penchant for promoting maximal solutions. At first, temperance supporters simply urged men to be more moderate in their drinking habits. But by the 1870s, temperance had come to mean full-fledged abstinence, paving the way for what Herbert Hoover called the “noble experiment,” better known to us today as Prohibition.

Americans are not likely to pass a constitutional amendment that would outlaw catcalling. But #MeToo activists are helping to create an impression of pervasive “toxic masculinity” in a “rape culture” implacably hostile to women, even as rape and assault numbers have declined markedly. They are all too frequently blurring the line between punishable abuse and ordinary jerk behavior. “Me Too covers a huge spectrum of behaviors as problematic and as specifically misogynist,” a woman who accused the writer Junot Díaz of a “verbal sexual assault” observed proudly, after he perhaps too heatedly pointed out a serious lapse in the logic of a question she asked him at a conference.

That “huge spectrum” should give any fair-minded person pause. Rhyming history suggests that exaggerations and ill-defined crimes encompassed in that definition can be truly dangerous. They lead to heavy-handed and often counterproductive policies, harsh laws, arbitrary punishments, and innocent lives ruined. They lead to potentially extreme backlash. From temperance to abstinence to prohibition: it happened before, and it happened in large measure because women with genuine moral grievances went too far.


Kay S. Hymowitz is a contributing editor, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men into Boys.

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Rev. Jones: Another Mass-Murdering Darling of Democrats

The Democrats’ Mass-Murdering Darling

When Harvey Milk met Rev. Jimmy Jones.

By Lloyd Billingsley

Since the 1960’s, Democrats in America have developed a strange love affair with mass-murdering socialists-communists. Revolutionaries like Che’ Guevara, Pol Pot, Nelson Mandela, and Rev. Jim Jones are representative of the murderous anti-American despots that make the list of leftist heroes. Mr. Billingsley gives us a brief account of Rev. Jim Jones and his enthusiastic admirers. (P.C. Coker)

“Your conscience Socialism is God. God is Socialism, and I am Principle Socialism and that’s what makes me God.” That was the Rev. Jim Jones, darling of Democrats such as Rosalynn Carter, Walter Mondale, Jerry Brown and others. San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk even praised Jones’ People’s Temple after the November 18, 1978 mass suicide in Guyana.

In the ensuing 40 years a lot of nonsense has been written about Jones and Milk, played by Sean Penn in the 2008 Milk biopic, winner of two Oscars. Fortunately, in Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days that Shook San Francisco, Daniel Flynn blows away some major myths surrounding this pair.

Jones believed “the Bible is the root of all our problems today” and sought to “infiltrate the church” to spread the socialist evangel. He was also a racist who called Medgar Evers a “house nigger” and Duke Ellington an “Uncle Tom.” That proved no obstacle when Jones moved his flock to California. His People’s Temple congregation included some Black Panthers and Jones became the darling of the California Democrats.

Assemblyman Willie Brown, mentor of Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, compared Jones to Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. In a letter to Fidel Castro, Willie Brown called Jones a “close personal friend and highly trusted brother in the struggle for liberation.” New Left icon Tom Hayden hailed Jones’ “high standard of ethics and morality,” and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner named Jones “Humanitarian of the Year.”

Admirers included governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally and congressman Phil Burton. San Francisco mayor George Moscone appointed Jones commissioner of the city’s Housing Authority. For his part, Jones delivered the votes and supported groups such as the murderous Symbionese Liberation Army which, he said, “moved us a little closer to change.”

Jones moved his flock to Guyana and some saw his Jonestown compound as a more egalitarian society, free of racism, homophobia and such. Flynn calls it a “concentration camp” and notes that Jones piped in harangues by Angela Davis. In 1979, Davis won the Lenin Peace Prize, twice ran for vice-president with the Communist Party USA, and is now a high-profile attacker of President Trump. (Vladimir Lenin was another fascist mass-murderer; PC Coker).

As Flynn also shows, the State Department undermined efforts of Americans to rescue their relatives. Envoy Dick McCoy provided the Temple hierarchy with lists of Jonestown inhabitants that relatives wanted to set free. So as the New York Times noted, Jones boasted extensive government connections.

Jones ordered the suicide of more than 900 followers and his goons murdered Congressman Leo Ryan and four others, leaving current Rep. Jackie Speier wounded. After all that, San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk refused to condemn Jonestown outright. “Guyana was a great experiment that didn’t work,” Milk said. “I don’t know, maybe it did.” Like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, the conservative Flynn has been on to this guy from the start.

Born in on Long Island in 1931, a year after Jones, Milk served in the Navy from 1951-55. Contrary to claims that the Navy drummed him out for being homosexual, Milk was honorably discharged. Milk worked as a schoolteacher, stockbroker and camera shop proprietor, and in San Francisco he recast himself as a political leader.

As Flynn notes, “Milk’s taste in men veered toward boys,” including Jack Galen, who was only 16 to Milk’s 33. Even so, Milk was never outed, “as a pederast.”

Milk was attracted to Jim Jones who, Flynn recalls, “used the pulpit to extoll homosexuality.” So Milk became one of Jones’ most eager advocates, writing, “Such greatness I have found at Jim Jones’ People’s Temple.” Jones responded with support for Milk’s campaigns but nothing about Jones emerges in the Milk movie.

Blue-collar Democrat Dan White, a former policeman and firefighter, voted with Milk to support gay issues. Supervisor White has been portrayed as a right-wing anti-gay bigot but as Flynn explains, “this isn’t true.” And it wasn’t true that White killed Milk because he was gay. Flynn cites supervisor Dianne Feinstein, who said “this had nothing to do with anybody’s sexual orientation. It had to do with getting back his position.”

As Flynn laments, “myths prove harder to kill than men.” Those who praised Jim Jones went on to great fame and in 2009 POTUS 44 awarded Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A U.S. Navy ship now bears the name of this pederast.

For Flynn, the lesson of Jonestown is to rely on the brain, not ideology, to think. He ends the story with the Jonestown placard: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That George Santayana reference, and the valuable lessons of Cult City, are worth pondering as the November election approaches.

Leftist Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are now hailing socialism with revivalist fervor. Conservative Republicans find themselves called “evil,” and targets of vicious smears, as in the attack on Brett Kavanaugh, and violence, as in the attack on Steve Scalise. As the Democrats’ demonology surges, someone could get killed.

Some may recall that this happened before, but nobody can remember what they didn’t know in the first place. For all but the willfully blind, Cult City will an asset of lasting value.


Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation, recently updated, and Hollywood Party: Stalinist Adventures in the American Movie IndustryBill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield, is a collection of his journalism.

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Nazi’s, Fascist’s, and FDR

Three New Deals: Why the Nazis and Fascists Loved FDR

By David Gordon

Critics of Roosevelt’s New Deal often liken it to fascism. Roosevelt’s numerous defenders dismiss this charge as reactionary propaganda; but as Wolfgang Schivelbusch makes clear, it is perfectly true. Moreover, it was recognized to be true during the 1930s, by the New Deal’s supporters as well as its opponents.

When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, he received from Congress an extraordinary delegation of powers to cope with the Depression.

The broad-ranging powers granted to Roosevelt by Congress, before that body went into recess, were unprecedented in times of peace. Through this “delegation of powers,” Congress had, in effect, temporarily done away with itself as the legislative branch of government. The only remaining check on the executive was the Supreme Court. In Germany, a similar process allowed Hitler to assume legislative power after the Reichstag burned down in a suspected case of arson on February 28, 1933. (p. 18).

The Nazi press enthusiastically hailed the early New Deal measures: America, like the Reich, had decisively broken with the “uninhibited frenzy of market speculation.” The Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, “stressed ‘Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies,’ praising the president’s style of leadership as being compatible with Hitler’s own dictatorial Führerprinzip” (p. 190).

Nor was Hitler himself lacking in praise for his American counterpart. He “told American ambassador William Dodd that he was ‘in accord with the President in the view that the virtue of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline should dominate the entire people. These moral demands which the President places before every individual citizen of the United States are also the quintessence of the German state philosophy, which finds its expression in the slogan “The Public Weal Transcends the Interest of the Individual”‘” (pp. 19-20). A New Order in both countries had replaced an antiquated emphasis on rights.

Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt’s Looking Forward. He found “reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices”; and, in another review, this time of Henry Wallace’s New Frontiers, Il Duce found the Secretary of Agriculture’s program similar to his own corporativism (pp. 23-24).

Roosevelt never had much use for Hitler, but Mussolini was another matter. “‘I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman'” (p. 31). Rexford Tugwell, a leading adviser to the president, had difficulty containing his enthusiasm for Mussolini’s program to modernize Italy: “It’s the cleanest … most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious” (p. 32, quoting Tugwell).

Why did these contemporaries see an affinity between Roosevelt and the two leading European dictators, while most people today view them as polar opposites? People read history backwards: they project the fierce antagonisms of World War II, when America battled the Axis, to an earlier period. At the time, what impressed many observers, including as we have seen the principal actors themselves, was a new style of leadership common to America, Germany, and Italy.

Once more we must avoid a common misconception. Because of the ruthless crimes of Hitler and his Italian ally, it is mistakenly assumed that the dictators were for the most part hated and feared by the people they ruled. Quite the contrary, they were in those pre-war years the objects of considerable adulation. A leader who embodied the spirit of the people had superseded the old bureaucratic apparatus of government.

While Hitler’s and Roosevelt’s nearly simultaneous ascension to power highlighted fundamental differences … contemporary observers noted that they shared an extraordinary ability to touch the soul of the people. Their speeches were personal, almost intimate. Both in their own way gave their audiences the impression that they were addressing not the crowd, but each listener as an individual. (p. 54)

But does not Schivelbusch’s thesis fall before an obvious objection? No doubt Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini were charismatic leaders; and all of them rejected laissez-faire in favor of the new gospel of a state-managed economy. But Roosevelt preserved civil liberties, while the dictators did not.

Schivelbusch does not deny the manifest differences between Roosevelt and the other leaders; but even if the New Deal was a “soft fascism”, the elements of compulsion were not lacking. The “Blue Eagle” campaign of the National Recovery Administration serves as his principal example. Businessmen who complied with the standards of the NRA received a poster that they could display prominently in their businesses. Though compliance was supposed to be voluntary, the head of the program, General Hugh Johnson, did not shrink from appealing to illegal mass boycotts to ensure the desired results.

“The public,” he [Johnson] added, “simply cannot tolerate non-compliance with their plan.” In a fine example of doublespeak, the argument maintained that cooperation with the president was completely voluntary but that exceptions would not be tolerated because the will of the people was behind FDR. As one historian [Andrew Wolvin] put it, the Blue Eagle campaign was “based on voluntary cooperation, but those who did not comply were to be forced into participation.” (p. 92)

Schivelbusch compares this use of mass psychology to the heavy psychological pressure used in Germany to force contributions to the Winter Relief Fund.

Both the New Deal and European fascism were marked by what Wilhelm Röpke aptly termed the “cult of the colossal.” The Tennessee Valley Authority was far more than a measure to bring electrical power to rural areas. It symbolized the power of government planning and the war on private business:

The TVA was the concrete-and-steel realization of the regulatory authority at the heart of the New Deal. In this sense, the massive dams in the Tennessee Valley were monuments to the New Deal, just as the New Cities in the Pontine Marshes were monuments to Fascism … But beyond that, TVA propaganda was also directed against an internal enemy: the capitalist excesses that had led to the Depression… (pp. 160, 162)

This outstanding study is all the more remarkable in that Schivelbusch displays little acquaintance with economics. Mises and Hayek are absent from his pages, and he grasps the significance of architecture much more than the errors of Keynes. Nevertheless, he has an instinct for the essential. He concludes the book by recalling John T. Flynn’s great book of 1944, As We Go Marching.

Flynn, comparing the New Deal with fascism, foresaw a problem that still faces us today.

But willingly or unwillingly, Flynn argued, the New Deal had put itself into the position of needing a state of permanent crisis or, indeed, permanent war to justify its social interventions. “It is born in crisis, lives on crises, and cannot survive the era of crisis…. Hitler’s story is the same.” … Flynn’s prognosis for the regime of his enemy Roosevelt sounds more apt today than when he made it in 1944 … “We must have enemies,” he wrote in As We Go Marching. “They will become an economic necessity for us.” (pp. 186, 191)


Originally published September 2006.

[This article is a review of: Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939. By Wolfgang Schivelbusch. Metropolitan Books, 2006. 242 pgs.]

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