Author Archives: wayneallensworth

Remembrance of Things Past: Christmas at Home

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By Wayne Allensworth

With our people so scattered and atomized by family dissolution, technology, and the personal isolation that comes with obsessive individualism, it would do us all some good to remember a time when that was not so.   If we are to reclaim anything for our posterity—or to even have one—we should back up and recall that family and the celebrations that marked our lives were at, one time, not a matter of choice, but something more than a duty.  They were occasions for joy.

Christmas at our family home was a very special occasion.  My mother especially loved Christmas, and December would find my carpenter father building Christmas scenes for the front yard from scraps of wood and whatever other materials he had at hand.  I particularly recall a “Christmas train” he built of plywood with coffee cans serving as wheels for the “train,” a jolly Santa as engineer. 

Inside, our house was a myriad of lights and decorations that filled the small home my brothers and I were raised in, one built by my father.  He and my mother lived there for nearly sixty years.

With Christmas approaching, a drive to look at Christmas lights in the surrounding neighborhoods was always on the agenda.   

Christmas eve was a time for a church service, and the children of the Sunday School class would duly perform the perennial nativity play that evening.  We dressed for the occasion in our Christmas best, and I rather enjoyed wearing a coat. Living in Texas, we always hoped for cold weather at Christmas time—it set the mood. 

After the Christmas eve service, the church elders would hand out goody bags to the children. I remember some oranges especially as a treat in winter. The founding families of our congregation were rural and working class.  They had moved to Houston for jobs during the Depression, and my father, raised in the 1930s and 40s, fondly remembered getting such small tokens of Christmas cheer as a tremendous boyhood treat.

Afterwards, my family, including both sets of grandparents, gathered at our home for more Christmas cheer—maybe a drink of wine, maybe something stronger, for the adults, and treats lovingly prepared by my mother for everyone.  We kept the living room dark save for the lights on the tree—and there would be hundreds of them, my mother was meticulous in decorating our Christmas tree—and the presents beneath were the object of much speculation by the children.

Christmas morning, we boys would awaken earlier than usual, already eager to get to the presents under the tree.  My father and mother would decide when the moment had come, and it was off to unwrap them.  My mother took pictures of everything—we have hundreds of photos to remember this all by—and she snapped photos as we opened our presents.  We had home movies of more than one Christmas morning, as well. During my childhood, we would watch them projected onto a screen set up by my father in our living room.

Music was an important part of the celebration. Starting in December, our RCA phonograph filled that little house with Christmas songs, and we memorized every line, singing along with gusto. 

There were Christmas movies, and I read the TV Guide carefully to pinpoint the time of showings of movies like White Christmas, as well as the ever-present TV Christmas specials from stars like Bing Crosby and Andy Williams.

My mother was an Elvis fan (I have one claim to fame—myself and the entire family saw Elvis live at the Houston Astrodome in 1970), and she was especially fond of his Gospel and Christmas recordings.

Here’s one favorite from his The Wonderful World of Christmas album:

No one could get away with not liking Elvis in our house, but my mother never let us forget that Jesus was the reason for the season, and religious songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World rang in the narrow halls and low ceilings of our home.   I’ve always loved this one:

We live in an increasingly dystopian world, one that is also increasingly hostile to the traditional Christmas celebration.  We have it in our power to perform one act of defiance and of love that can push back against the dismal tide.  Celebrate Christmas.

  Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.  

The Con Man

John le Carré RIP

By Wayne Allensworth

David Cornwell, who wrote under the pseudonym John le Carré, has passed away at age 89.  What follows is an article I wrote for the January 2014 issue of Chronicles. I used the opportunity of the publication of his novel A Delicate Truth to review his life and career. He was, at his best, an extraordinary writer and a fascinating personality.  None of the criticisms in this piece should be taken as an attack on him. I did and do admire his literary achievements a great deal.

https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/the-con-man/

The Con Man

By Wayne Allensworth

The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal.”
  John le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

A Delicate Truth

By John le Carré

New York: Viking; 310 pp., $28.95

Fifty years ago, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold completed the most successful transformation of David Cornwell’s shape shifting life.  The son of a war profiteer and con man became the mysterious transmitter of messages from the Other Side, the “secret world” of his novels, John le Carré.  Le Carré has said that his books provided a needed “antidote” to the glamorous world of Ian Fleming.  His burnt-out agent runner, Spy’s Alec Leamas, told readers who the spies of Le Carré’s secret world actually were: “What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs?  They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors…pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.  Do you think they sit like monks…balancing the rights and wrongs?” 

Near the end of Spy, Leamas summed up the precarious morality of the Cold War as great power expediency.  He explained that the spy masters needed murderous, amoral operatives like the novel’s double agent, Mundt, “so the great moronic mass…can sleep soundly,” a sentiment currently extant in hackneyed justifications for U.S. drone attacks (along with the inevitable “collateral damage”) and NSA domestic spying, all done to secure our “freedom.”  In the end, Alec Leamas didn’t believe it himself.  He “came in from the cold,” redeeming himself by his death at the Berlin Wall.  Self-sacrifice, the redemption of a failed romantic, and the rejection of Cold War morality by his doomed protagonists were to be recurring themes in le Carré’s novels, novels that nevertheless revealed his ambivalence about the dirty work of espionage that he thought might sometimes be unavoidable.  This ambivalence provides the tension that drives his narratives, forcing his troubled protagonists (Leamas in Spy; George Smiley in the trilogy Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley’s People; and, in his latest novel, A Delicate Truth, Toby Bell) to make moral choices that redeem and destroy them.

“Treason is very much a matter of habit, Smiley decided.”   Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

David Cornwell’s life has been one of duplicity, duplicity learned at an early age from a master.  David was born in 1931, the son of Richard (Ronnie) Cornwell and his wife, Olive.  His mother abandoned David and his brother, Tony, when David was five years old.  His boyhood was unstable, as he was shuffled from one boarding school to another, in and out of the home of his piously religious grandparents, and in and out of the presence of his father, a con artist and associate of the London underworld’s notorious Kray twins.  Ronnie, accompanied by his entourage of shady hangers on and dubious women, was a man always on the lookout for an easy mark. David observed strict secrecy about his father, by his own account not revealing to his grandparents or school masters the seamier portions of Ronnie’s life of racetracks, con games, jail terms and debts.  Ronnie later became “Rick Pym” in le Carré’s autobiographical novel A Perfect Spy.  When Ronnie died in 1975, David paid for a funeral but did not attend. 

According to le Carré, it was his father who inspired his fascination with secrets.  Le Carré further relates that it was his father who first recruited him as a spy in the world of the educated middle class.  Ronnie Cornwell intended that David and Tony make the leap into that class, rising above their origins.  The two boys were thus “dressed and groomed” and ultimately “launched” at Ronnie Cornwell’s preferred “target,” English middle class society, where “your speech is what you wear” and David, a gifted boy, if unhappy prep school student, picked up the appropriate knowledge, style, and speech.   Le Carré portrayed Ronnie, in his guise as “Rick Pym,” as a man who believed that that his sons’ success would be his crowning achievement as a con artist, justifying his duplicity and his life.  The son knew his father to be a fraud and has said that he thought everyone was.

“We have never lacked in this country for people with larcenous instincts and charming manners.”  John le Carré

David Cornwell found a refuge from his father at the University of Berne, where he studied languages, mastering German.   In 1950, he began his life in the secret world as a member of the British Army’s intelligence corps in Austria, using his language skills and considerable charm in interrogating people who had traversed the Iron Curtain from East to West.  Decades later, le Carré described the process of interrogation, which became a recurring element in his novels, and, indirectly, how it introduced him to the deceptive recruitments of the secret world: “I loved interrogation, I find that really fascinating. I did quite a lot of interrogation and it was always of the long, patient discussion [variety], the befriending and so on.”  Le Carré noted that “most people, if they want to confess something…need help.  They need compassion…a pastoral connection and an intelligent connection, not a bullying one.”

Le Carré may or may not have met a British intelligence officer posing as a diplomat (later rendered as “Jack Brotherhood,” the mentor of Le Carré’s fictional self, “Magnus Pym” in A Perfect Spy) who steered him into intelligence work while he was still a student in Switzerland.  Whatever the truth of the matter, after his stint in army intelligence he returned to England as a student at Oxford, where, as le Carré has described it, he “betrayed” leftist students he had befriended, covertly spying for the British domestic security service, MI5.  In 1960, he transferred to foreign intelligence, MI6, working in Germany under diplomatic cover.  Le Carré later said there was a “delicious voluptuousness” to secrecy, and that the “great secrecy” of his work had brought with it a sense of “great dignity.”

By his own account, le Carré was an anchorless young man who used the institutions (and, if his novels are any indication, his recruiters and mentors) in the secret world as a replacement for his parents. He would nevertheless find his real calling as a writer, publishing his first novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961.  A Murder of Quality followed in 1962, but it was Spy that gave David Cornwell fame, fortune and an alternative life as John le Carré.  He left MI6 in 1964, though the reasons remain vague.  Was it because his cover had been blown by the infamous traitor Kim Philby, portrayed as “Bill Haydon,” the villain of Tinker, Tailor? Was it because he wanted to make a career as a writer and he enjoyed his new found celebrity? Or was it because he was disillusioned with his work in the secret world, something he has alluded to more than once?   

“Secret services [are]…the only real measure of a nation’s political health, the only real expression of its subconscious.”  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

If le Carré actually was disillusioned, as some accounts have it, either by the recruitment of former Nazis by Western intelligence services or perhaps because of his fear that the covert operations of the Cold War were leading to a hot one, it was something that came late in the game to him.  Le Carré has described himself and his colleagues of the period as “patriots” who felt they were doing Britain’s necessary dirty work for the good of Leamas’s “moronic mass.”   His ambivalence toward “our game” became the powerful theme of his best work in the Smiley trilogy as the gentle, unobtrusive, scholarly Smiley relentlessly seeks the destruction of his nemesis, Soviet spymaster “Karla,” the man responsible for placing the “mole” Haydon in le Carré’s fictional secret service “the Circus,” thus rendering much of Smiley’s life’s work pointless.   It was the likeable, humane Smiley le Carré used to great effect in exploring the ambiguities of being “inhuman in defense of humanity…harsh in defense of compassion.”

At the end of Smiley’s People, le Carré’s protagonist has achieved a hollow victory: Smiley has used Karla’s mentally ill daughter to blackmail her father into defecting. Ironically, as le Carré has described the trilogy’s denouement, Smiley has given up part of his humanity even as the ruthless Karla has found part of his in protecting his daughter. In pursuing his ultimate aim, Smiley has become the mirror image of the foe he once described as a “fanatic.”  He is reminded by his ally in Circus intrigues, Peter Guillam, that “you won” as Karla crosses into West Berlin.  An unfulfilled Smiley answers, “Did I?”

“How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America’s anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history.”

John le Carré

The characters in le Carré’s Cold War-era fiction frequently harbored a suspicion that the country they were defending had itself been corrupted, transformed by consumerist capitalism.  Smiley, for instance, loved an England that by the early 1970’s no longer existed.  In Tinker, Tailor, Circus operative Roy Bland, son of a “passionate trade unionist and Party member” explained current reality to a reluctant Smiley: “As a good socialist, I’m going where the money is; as a good capitalist, I’m sticking with the revolution, because if you can’t beat it, spy on it! Don’t look like that, George. It’s the name of the game these days. You scratch my conscience, I’ll drive your Jag, right?”

A retired Smiley made his last appearance in 1991’s The Secret Pilgrim, lecturing Circus personnel and wondering what price was paid for Cold War victory.  In defeating the Soviet threat, the West, in Smiley’s (and le Carré’s) view, had succumbed to internal decay, perhaps hastened by the Cold War morality the Circus subscribed to.  Smiley tells his audience that “if the West chokes on its own materialism,” then it may turn out to have lost the Cold War. 

As a shabby, consumerist, post-imperial, junior partner to America, Britain haunts the Smiley books, while the slick, corporate pitchmen  “cousins,” the Circus operatives’ American counterparts, are presented as the embodiment of all that Smiley—and le Carré—fear will be the real victor in a post-Cold War world.  In making his exit from le Carré’s secret world in Pilgrim, Smiley tells the Circus’s new generation that their minds must be “reconstructed” in a post-Cold War world—and that they must also reconstruct “the over mighty modern State we’ve built for ourselves as a bastion against something that isn’t there anymore.  We’ve given up far too many freedoms in order to be free.” 

Nothing of the sort, of course, happened.  Le Carré expressed disappointment that a more just international order did not emerge following the collapse of the Soviet Union as he steadily veered further leftward.  In exploring the shady transactions and corruption of a practically borderless, globalizing world in books like The Night ManagerOur Game, Single and SingleThe Mission Song and The Constant Gardner, two things became obvious about post-Cold War le Carré: first, that his writing, while as stylistically elegant as ever, lacked the impact and compelling characterizations of his earlier work; and second, by the 2000s, the one-time Cold War liberal had absorbed the entire clichéd mantra of the post-modern left, including its obsessions with white guilt and homosexuals (there would be no more “pansies” and traitorous bisexuals, as Haydon had been portrayed in Tinker, Tailor, in his work). 

Le Carré’s outrage directed at the Bush White House and its Iraq war accomplice, the Blair “new Labour” government, finalized the change in his writing.  Polemics were in; nuance was out. The polemical tone of what mostly supportive critics dubbed the “angry” le Carré gutted his books of the ambiguity and insight of the past.  In his intense revulsion at the actions of Bush and Blair, le Carré had discovered what he thought of as moral clarity, a condition marred by leftist cliché: the Moslems of 2003’s Absolute Friends, 2008’s A Most Wanted Man, and his latest, A Delicate Truth are largely presented as one dimensional, idealized victims of Western exploitation, “Islamophobia,” and clumsy American brutality.  The slick “cousins” of the Smiley era are replaced in Truth by a Democracy Now!/Occupy Wall Street fantasy of Texas yahoos, evangelical power brokers, “far right” Republicans and their British enablers.  Not surprisingly, even though the novel takes place partly during Obama’s first term, no mention is made of the left’s Savior-in-Chief whose “war on terror” polices are hardly distinguishable from his predecessor’s.  

In Truth, we have a familiar le Carré protagonist, Toby Bell, a once idealistic, appropriately leftist diplomat who discovers that a joint British-American anti-terrorist operation (on the American side undertaken by a Blackwater-like mercenary firm) portrayed as a notable success was actually a disaster that resulted in the death of a Moslem woman and her infant child.  Bell intends to expose the cover up, but is persuaded otherwise by his Whitehall mentor.  Three years later, a discharged British commando, disturbed by the cover up and eager to blow the whistle on the disaster, contacts retired diplomat “Kit” Probyn and the wheels are set in motion for Toby to eventually risk his career and his life in telling the truth about “Operation Wildfire.” 

One anonymous reviewer, writing for Publisher’s Weekly, has gone where most main stream critics apparently can’t, describing le Carré’s latest book as veering “dangerously close to farce and caricature, particularly with the comically amoral Americans. His best work has been about the moral ambiguity of spying, while this novel feels as if the issue of who’s bad and who’s good is too neatly sewn up.” Le Carré should have stopped writing long ago, but like an over the hill boxer who can’t stay away from the ring, he keeps coming back to the arena—and likely damaging his long-term reputation each time he does.   If only he had stopped at A Perfect Spy, which summed up the concerns and insights of his best fiction.   Le Carré is coasting now, enjoying his celebrity, safely playing to the crowd, with far less introspection and insight.  The post 9/11 world offers as much fodder for a perceptive writer as the Cold War did, but le Carré has lost his touch along with his ability to ferret out the moral conundrums, contradictions, and real dangers of the “war on terror.”

Le Carré once said that writers are very much like spies, “trading off the people around them…they note things and report them,” depending on “the people they deceive.”   Both spies and writers have to be “entertainers,” charming the people they “recruit.”   In his press and television interviews, le Carré, especially since slipping into his “angry” persona, draws us in, befriends us, impresses us with appropriate moral outrage, and charms us, the lines between self deception, sincere belief, and one constant in le Carré’s life—role playing—once again blurred. He protests too much of his need for privacy, even as he doles out yet another “last” interview, claiming that a writer should “hold his tongue,” while ignoring his own advice.  In le Carré’s secret world the attraction of spying is that you can be someone else.  His novels could be interpreted as a sustained rumination on alienation in the modern, now post-modern, world, one bereft of boundaries, barriers, or fixed identities.  An interviewer once described le Carré’s career as a successful covert operation.  In his prime, David Cornwell was a fine writer.  He is also a conman.

  Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.  

We Must Act Soon to Preserve a Place for Our People

By Wayne Allensworth

In my article “The Old America is Dead and Gone. Where do we go From Here?” published last summer, I noted that “blue” and “red” areas were both moving toward a form of internal secession:

“Blue states and Leftist kritarchs nullify laws they don’t like. Sanctuary cities and even sanctuary states defy immigration laws. Meanwhile, American patriots have answered with Second Amendment sanctuary counties and even states. Americans in inland California talk of seceding from the ‘Left coast.’ The Left has floated secession talk as well: Anarchists have seized and established their own “autonomous zone” in Seattle. West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, invited conservative counties in Virginia to secede and join the Mountain State [West Virginia Republicans encourage conservative Virginia counties to ‘Vexit,’ by Kelly Mena, CNN, Sun February 9, 2020] .

States, counties, and cities that sided with or surrendered to the mob, and the Blob’s intensification of anarcho-tyranny during the recent coronavirus lock down, seem to have sparked a sharp reaction from the American remnant that could provide the bare bones of a Middle American defense movement.

 Someday, ‘blue’ and ‘red’ enclaves, even whole states, might evolve into new polities.”

Following the failure of the Texas-led lawsuit challenging the election outcome to get a hearing in the Supreme Court, Texas GOP Chairman Allen West issued this statement:

Image

In “Revolution and Resistance,” yours truly reached the following conclusion:

“It’s difficult to see how national elections, particularly presidential elections, can go on, as each election cycle provokes a systemic crisis.  A country that is no longer a nation can only be held together by force.  Considering that, and the fact that the Blob will eventually get the one-party state it wants via demographic change, the Middle American resistance will be forced to seek autonomy for our people as an ultimate goal.” 

With a “Biden rush” at the border shaping up, we had better start taking measures now at the state and local level to make sure there will be something left for us to claim.  As VDare’s A. W. Morgan wrote recently, a Biden administration would surely attempt to “carpet bomb” the American remnant with “instant Democrats” from the Third World. 

It’s going to be a long and arduous battle.  I hope we are up for it.

  Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.  

Between Hope and Despair: An Advent Message

By Wayne Allensworth

As we await the resolution of Trump’s efforts to contest the election outcome—and plenty of people now see the lawsuit filed by Texas and supported by a number of other states as the best way to do that—we should remind ourselves that public affairs are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.  And that when matters seem to be out of control, we still have cause for hope. 

This is a note to my family that I wrote recently. I intended it as an Advent message:

Excuse me if I’ve sent this to a couple of you before, I just can’t recall.  It’s a strikingly beautiful hymn (“Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”) with a tune composed in France much later than the origin of the lyric, which was originally a prayer from the Liturgy of St. James in the 4th century.

It’s quite moving and is usually played during Advent.  There are scores of versions of it on YouTube.

We sang it in church recently. It’s a haunting hymn, poignant and evocative, but one that gives us comfort.

As the light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day

That the powers of Hell vanish as the Darkness clears away.

Here’s another version as performed by the Duke University Chapel Choir:

It’s difficult to believe sometimes, so I focus on the Incarnation, on God, through Christ, taking on all the burdens and pain of our human existence.  He has not abandoned us, even if at this very difficult time we drift somewhere between hope and despair. Relish the moments of joy as they come.  Bear the sorrows as they, too, will come. Life couldn’t have any real meaning without either of them.

“Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Love, Pops

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

The show must go on: A review of the year’s political theater

by Ayad Rahim

“A mistake in Washington is when a politician tells the truth”; so goes an old adage. Well, during this inaugural season of COVID, there have been a few slip-ups.

The biggest doozie of them all might have been Joe Biden’s boast, just ten days before the election, that “we have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.” We might yet determine whether this was a slip of the tongue, or a Freudian slip. The same goes for Biden’s mention of “a Harris-Biden administration,” and his running mate’s reference to, “a Harris administration.”

An obvious mistake took place in late September, when the governor of Pennsylvania and a state representative laughed about performing “a little political theater” with the face-mask, “so that it’s on camera. Before the start of a September 29 press conference on Obamacare, Governor Tom Wolf told State Representative Wendy Ullman: “So, Wendy, I’m gonna take, I’m gonna take my mask off when I speak.” She replies, “I will as well — just, I’m waiting, so that we can do a little political theater.”  “Okay, that’s good,” the governor responds, as they both laugh, and Ullman continues, “so that it’s on camera. In other words, they were reviewing their steps before going on stage (it sounds like they’ve done this act before): we walk up to the podium, with the face-mask on, and then, before we start speaking, we take off the face-mask, so that the cameras capture the costume-change, all for the entertainment of the audience at home.

In early September, Los Angeles County’s public health director informed education and health professionals that the schools couldn’t open “until after the election.” In the tape of the September 9 conference-call, Barbara Ferrer says:

We don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving either tier 2 or to reopening K-through-12 schools at least through — at least until after the election…. like when we just look at the timing of everything, it seems to us a more realistic approach to this, would be to think that we’re gonna be where we are now, until we get after — until we, we are done with the election.

The public health director of Los Angeles County may not have been ready for “prime time,” but the governor of New York should have been. In April, though, the governor got carried away a bit, and revealed the intended emotional effect of his performance. At the April 23 press conference, a reporter noted that “there are protesters outside right now, honking their horns, and raising signs, and they’re saying that they don’t have time to wait for all of this testing and they need to get back to work, in order to feed their families. Their savings are running out; they don’t have another week; they’re not getting answers. So, their point is, the cure can’t be worse than the illness itself. What is your response to them?” The governor straightened up in his chair, eyeballed the reporter, and, emphatically enunciating each word, declared: “The illness is death. What is worse than death?!

One who should definitely be ready for prime time is the Speaker of the U.S. House.  Sometimes, however, the mask slips off, the politician has to improvise, and we get to see the real person behind the act.

On October 13, Nancy Pelosi showed some real pique at being challenged, and she told the world how she really sees the public. CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked Pelosi why she wasn’t working on a deal with Republicans to meet the immediate needs of citizens across the country. Shaking her head at Blitzer’s impertinence, Pelosi, dripping with disdain, rebuked him: “What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them, to represent them, at that table.” As Blitzer kept pressing for an answer, Pelosi repeatedly smiled and wagged her head.  Then, with eyes opened wide, she put Blitzer and the two Democratic politicians he quoted in their place, because they didn’t know the issues or about the negotiations.  Blitzer should respect the knowledge of the committee chairmen (she later called them “my chairs”).

Blitzer retorted, “It’s not about me, it’s about millions of Americans who can’t put food on the table, who can’t pay their rent, who are having trouble getting by — in these long food-lines that we’re seeing,” at which Pelosi, shaking her head, cut in: “And we represent them! And we represent them. And we represent them”; and, tapping her chest with her fingers, as if to say, We own them, you damn fool — who are you to speak on their behalf?!, she continued, “And we represent them! We know them! We represent them, and we know them! We know them. We represent them.” Then, to conclude the audience, Pelosi, wagging her head, replied sarcastically, “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.” “I am sensitive to them,” Blitzer replied, “because I see them on the street, begging for food, begging for money.” Pelosi, shaking her head and smiling, shot back, “Have you fed them? We feed them. We feed them!,” as she flipped her hand away from her chest, to show generosity and reassert ownership of, “the people.”

But maybe the most farcical set-piece was a photo-op in Washington, two weeks after the death of George Floyd. For a group picture, two-dozen Democratic leaders in Congress “took a knee,” in a large marble-floored hall — spaced evenly apart from each other, in a checkerboard pattern, a kente-cloth stole wrapped around each politician’s neck (hanging perfectly on the front), with each member wearing a face mask, looking down to the floor, hands resting on the upright knee. They held that pose for eight minutes and 46 seconds. It makes one wonder how many professional photographers, choreographers, and other visual and political designers it took to prepare that tableau vivant.

Ayad Rahim is a bookseller in the Midwest and a former journalist.

Do the Republicans Really Want to Win?

By Wayne Allensworth

The silence, as they say, is deafening—the relative silence of the GOP, that is, which, with some exceptions, has hardly distinguished itself as the Trump administration contests the stolen election.  

The Deplorables want to fight.  They do not want Trump to concede, and they believe that Biden’s “win” was the result of fraud.  It will be an uphill battle, an extremely difficult, but not impossible, fight to win, if the party rallies behind Trump, with all GOP hands on deck in support of the president. It’s a fight worth having, in any case. Do we want the Swamp to get away with the mother of all election steals, without putting up a fight?  

The battle will require fortitude and resolve. Unfortunately, fortitude and resolve have not been hallmarks of the GOP. 

The late Sam Francis is often quoted describing the GOP as the Stupid Party. But it has occurred to lots of us out here in flyover country that the GOP is not as stupid as it appears.  I doubt, for instance, that Dr. Francis really believed that the national party’s favored policies of corporate tax cuts, perpetual war, mass immigration, and shipping American jobs overseas—policies that alienated the heartland—were mostly the result of stupidity, or even of willful ignorance.  Assuming that stupidity and ignorance were the sources of those policies meant assuming that we could correct the situation by instructing the rather dim bulbs of the Grand Old Party about the means of achieving victory as well. 

The chief assumption was that that the GOP really wanted to win.

As far as Dr. Francis’s actual view of the GOP, we should recall that he also dubbed the Republicans a bunch of “beautiful losers,” who were quite prepared to accept a place as a toothless opposition, and who lacked the will or the desire to wield power on behalf of their base when the opportunity arose.

Trump isn’t getting much, if any, help from the national party in the post-election struggle just now.  The usual suspects want Trump to call it a day and have congratulated Biden on his alleged election victory.  It’s up to Republicans at the state level to put up a fight—and the signals coming from the state level have so far been mixed (See here and here; This item, though not related to the election, is encouraging).

Here’s hoping that the Deplorables in the contested states exert strong pressure on their legislators to fight—and that they listen.

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

Utopia in Power: Divisions in the “Coalition of the Fringes”

By Wayne Allensworth

The recent rhubarb in the Democratic Party between “progressives” and “moderates” over a sub-par performance in Congressional elections highlighted one of the major divisions within the “coalition of the fringes,” the division between hard left socialists and managerial neo-liberals.  The post-Americans who want to rule over us apparently can’t get along.

The hard leftists, led by the seemingly ubiquitous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known to one and all as “AOC,” don’t like some of the talk they hear from the neo-liberal/globalist “moderates.”  The neo-liberals blame the hard left’s “defund the police” campaign for the Democrats’ lost seats in the House.  As the managerial wing of the party sees it, the much anticipated “blue wave” they had hoped for broke up on the shoals of utopian radical positions pushed by the hard left.

Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-Va), for instance, bluntly told AOC and her fellow “squad” members that, “No one should say ‘defund the police” ever again.”  AOC and company were having none of that.  Squadette Rashida Tlaib (D-Mi) fired back, telling Politico that dropping such anti-police rhetoric would amount to her and her constituents being “silenced.”  And AOC herself didn’t want to hear anything but tough talk from her party.  She opined that the Dems should “take off our gloves” in dealing with the Republicans.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders promised to introduce a leftist agenda for Biden’s first 100 days in office into the Senate, as leftists mobilized to push their own lists of candidates for cabinet positions.

A clash between “progressives” and “moderates” has been a long time coming.

The globalist/managerial class that the “moderate” Democrats represent has managed to effectively make use of the hard left.  The media wing of the globalist establishment  conjured up a picture of  the deplorables as a nest of Nazi stormtroopers, with the “literally Hitler” Trump cast as Fuehrer, and pushed a fantastic storyline about “black bodies” being exterminated by fascist police officers.  The MSM’s propaganda encouraged the Bolshevik wannabes of AntiFa and the fanatics of BLM to enact their own revolutionary dream by taking to the streets in a violent orgy of destruction, including brazenly attacking Trump supporters.   

The neo-liberals did their part by ritually donning masks—COVID-19 itself has been deemed racist, a weapon in a persistent attack on “people of color”—wrapping themselves in Kente cloths, and taking a knee. 

It was quite a spectacle, something that some observers have had difficulty wrapping their heads around—the Starbucks Moderates united with racial socialists in a reign of terror, all in the service of billionaire oligarchs from the Davos politburo.  

Just what is the actual nature of the relationship between the fiery leftist wizards and that man behind the curtain, who looks a lot like George Soros?

While the hard left’s goals include racial socialism and smashing “white privilege,” the Davos politburo and its managerial neo-liberal supporters have viewed the militant left as an instrument to an end, not as an end in itself.  The Davos crowd has no interest in an anarchic mob garbed in Castro fatigues trying to run the country, much less the globe.  Yet, along with proper media exploitation of the COVID-19 panic, the hard left’s shock troops have helped break down resistance to the globalists’ vision of a “Great Reset” of political and economic management. The globalists want real power in managerial, neo-liberal hands.

For all their differences, however, both are united by utopian ideals, one bureaucratic in execution, the other essentially anarchic and nihilistic.  These apparently strange bedfellows actually share much in common.

Apart from their shared commitment to “blank slate” egalitarianism, both are committed to a program of virtually unlimited mass immigration.   On the one hand, mass immigration, especially non-white immigration, is favored by the far left as a means of destroying the “white patriarchy” once and for all.  On the other, the globalist oligarchs see the erasure of borders and unlimited movement of peoples as a matter of economic expediency.

Recall that Hillary Clinton actually said that in a speech made to bankers in Brazil.

And both have deep ideological roots going back to radical movements of the past.

Your humble servant, for instance, once reviewed David Priestland’s magisterial history of communism, The Red Flag.  From today’s perspective, the most striking thing about the book was Priestland’s description of the struggle within the international communist movement, a struggle that sheds some light on the relationship between the neo-liberal globalists and the hard left of our own time. 

From my review in Chronicles:

“Much of the book is devoted to the struggles within the communist movement between what Priestland calls ‘modernist’/ ‘technocratic’ Marxism and a ‘romantic’ current, revealing a tension between the desire for material abundance (Viewed by the modernist school as achievable only by industrialization, centralization, and bureaucratization) and a utopian vision of society unencumbered by hierarchy and distinctions between individuals, with the ‘vanguard party’ leading the way to perfect equality and, revealing communism’s bohemian intellectual current, self-realization. 

Thus, the tensions between the Stalinists and Maoists, the cult of the Leader of official Communist party propaganda and the t-shirted would-be Che Guevaras’ of 1968.  But the two strains co-existed to one degree or another, even in Stalin’s USSR, where the ‘Man of Steel,’ like Mao and Pol Pot in other periods, portrayed the transformation of society and the USSR’s modernization as chiefly an act of will.  That romantic view, together with the conspiratorial origins of the party in Russia (a model followed across the globe), fueled the hunt for ‘enemies of the people,’ ‘self-criticism’ and re-education efforts in Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution,’ as well as Pol Pot’s anti-industrialization in the killing fields of Cambodia.  Transforming society and human nature required mass terror and social upheaval, whether the goal was modernization or communist anarchy.”

The managerial globalists are thus reminiscent of the technocratic strain in international communism, and its goal of worldwide bureaucratic rule under the auspices of the party.  The globalists would also install a worldwide regime, but one based on international organizations like the WTO and WHO, as well as multi-national corporations.  The Antifa/BLM mob represents the anarchic, romantic current on the left.  Which group is actually the “vanguard” of the global revolution is a matter of one’s perspective, yet their respective goals are very much like the those of, on the one hand, technocratic communism and, on the other, of the romantic, anarchic leftists of the past.

Priestland also detected a utopian messianic impulse among both neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, and connected the historical dots, identifying neo-conservatism as originating on the left.   

That, however, is a story for another time.

The hard left and the neo-liberals are relatives, yet the divide between “moderates” and  “progressives” in the Democratic Party is real, and there is a potential for their further estrangement, especially if the managerial elites’ efforts to steal the presidential election should fail. 

That, and/or an effort by the neo-liberals to rein in the hard left, may precipitate a split that could offer our side more room for maneuver.  We must know our enemy to fully exploit such an opportunity, or even understand when one presents itself.  And knowing that enemy means understanding the seemingly paradoxical relationship between personalities and organizations as variegated as Nancy Pelosi and AOC, the DNC and BLM.

This article appeared earlier on VDare.com.

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

Trumpism without Trump?

By Wayne Allensworth

The redoubtable Ann Coulter’s theme of her latest series of campus tours has been “Trumpism without Trump.”  Miss Coulter told an audience at The University of Texas-Austin, for example, that she was happy Trump had lost a narrow election, as a second Trump term “would have killed us.”  Trumpism—the America First platform Trump ran on in 2016—hasn’t actually been tried, said Miss Coulter, but she believes that we could get Trumpism without the erratic, inarticulate man himself, whose term in office was not only stymied by the Deep State and the MSM’s relentless attacks, but by the people he foolishly chose as advisors. People, after all, are policy.

She mentioned Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis as a 2024 candidate who would fit the bill as a “Trumpism without Trump” leader.

I’ll venture a guess that Coulter’s views are similar to those of a lot of Trump’s critics, including myself, who have seen him as a transitional figure, someone who opened the door for a genuine patriotic movement.  He is not, however, the leader we need to take it from here.  From that point of view, it’s better if Biden wins—so challenging the election results would be counterproductive.

I sympathize, but we need to consider a few problems with that idea. 

First, this was hardly a free and fair election, a point I made earlier. Do we really want the anarcho-tyrants to get away with brazen fraud?  Miss Coulter has also seemed to question the election results and mocked the Dems for their reluctance to concede past elections (here and here).

Second, why should we believe that the next election will be any freer or fairer than this one?  Does anyone believe that the anarcho-tyrants will suddenly get religion, and having walked all over us, decide to play by the rules next time?  Challenging the election results is simply a matter of defending what is right and just.  We can’t walk away from this fight. 

Third, after years of hearing our people described as a mass of demoralized couch potatoes, a real Middle American resistance is beginning to take shape.  Last weekend, the Deplorables were out in large numbers at “Stop the Steal” rallies across the country, and there was a massive turnout for the “Million-MAGA March” in Washington, DC.   Our people are mobilized and want to fight what may be the biggest political theft in history.  They do not want Trump to concede.

It’s a mistake to think that all those who have protested the stolen election are defending Trump as a personality.  As a commentor wrote here, “We are not just or mainly fighting for him. We are fighting for ourselves, our families, friends and what remains of this once great nation against this whole rotten establishment. This is not one we can give up on.”  If we back down now when it really counts, as Conservatism, Inc. has done time and again, we could lose the Deplorables once and for all. 

Fourth, if we can defeat this attempted coup, it might disrupt, even fracture, enemy lines, and undermine their morale, giving our side room for maneuver.  We can build our movement from a position of strength, not attempt to rise from the ashes of defeat. 

We should have no illusions about what is ahead of us.  Win or lose, we are in for a serious fight.  Now is the time to organize and prepare for the struggle to come.  If we walk away from this fight, we may lose more than a political battle.  We may lose a golden opportunity to begin forging a genuine patriotic mass movement. 

That movement, whatever we call it, will be Trumpism without Trump.

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

A Rigged “Political Process” and the Radicalization of Middle America

By Wayne Allensworth

As the deplorable nation went to bed on election night, it appeared that Donald Trump was about to pull it off—the Orange Man seemed to be on his way to a surprise victory.  The slanted polls were wildly wrong once again.  There was no “blue wave” in sight, and Sleepy Joe had barely left his basement during the campaign.

The next morning, we began hearing about a number of apparent “glitches” in the vote count, and, as foreseen in this space, those mail-in ballots began ever so slowly turning up in “batches” that in some cases reportedly favored Biden by 100%.  We were supposed to believe that the lackluster Biden, whose rallies couldn’t fill a phone booth (yes, I’m showing my age), was making an electoral haul that was in some areas reminiscent of those seen in third-world dictatorships and Stalinist “people’s democracies.”

“Flyover country” has every reason to believe this election is being stolen. 

If there was anything the last four years have taught us, it is that the powers-that-be would not let any old fashioned notions about fair play and the integrity of “the political process” stop them from having their way, no matter what the actual election results.  In fact, the managerial  system that I’ve dubbed “the Blob” had effectively stolen the last election by stonewalling the Donald through its minions in the bureaucracy, censoring its opponents, de-platforming them, denying them financial and other services, and conniving with the “beautiful losers” in Trump’s own party to undermine the president.

Trump was also seriously distracted by the bogus “Russia gate” scandal, the most scandalous aspect of which was the security and intelligence agencies mounting a silent coup against a duly elected president of the United States. Yes, his enemies failed in the end to remove Trump, but they were largely successful in crippling his presidency. Trump’s foolish and even naïve personnel appointments, among other things, didn’t help matters, but that’s another question.

It was no surprise, then, that the 2020 presidential election was not by any means a free and fair one, even without the dubious vote count in those disputed swing states.  The media, including Fox when it really counted, were all in against the president, and the de-platforming, censorship, and disinformation (about “white supremacists” being responsible for the BLM/Antifa riots, for example) intensified.  Indeed, the riots themselves constituted a part of the anti-Trump campaign as a means of blackmail and intimidation—vote for Biden-Harris, or else!

What we have been witnessing, gentle reader, is the next stage in what yours truly has called “the end of politics,” the end of the system of civilized political struggle in this once great republic that was based on a broad consensus regarding fair play and political competition.  Those days are gone, and Middle America is waking up to that fact.

What’s more, how can representative democracy function when there are no shared assumptions about the most fundamental issues?  We live in a topsy turvy world in which there is no agreement on who, or what, is “American,” or what “marriage” means, one that has displaced biological sex with “gender identity.”   

Those are not issues that can be settled in a committee hearing, and, indeed, with the demographic ring closing in on us, our enemies have no intention of holding discussions about anything once they have their one-party state.

The mask is, indeed, off.  Yet the true nature of the managerial system has been steadily revealing itself for some time, as each deeper and more sinister level of its collective being was steadily uncovered like a group of Russian nesting dolls, each one hidden beneath another.  

Your humble servant shares the view that we need a political “divorce,” but, as I explained earlier, should such a “divorce” come about, it may take time for it to be finalized.  

Meanwhile, the emerging Middle American resistance may manifest itself in a backlash against the electoral machinations of our managerial elite.  We can no longer trust the system to more-or-less function as advertised.  The radicalization of Middle America may, indeed, be the silver lining in this particularly dark cloud.

We must resist at every opportunity.

There are “Stop the Steal” rallies planned for tomorrow, November 14, in state capitals across the country.  The rallies in the critical swing states where the election is being disputed are especially important.  We still have the “nuclear option” available to us to thwart the Blob’s design, if need be.

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

Trump fires the Secretary of Defense. Why now?

By Wayne Allensworth

The president has fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.  The question is, “Why now?”   

Esper had earlier resisted the Commander-in-Chief when the president brought up the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military to quell the wave of AntiFa/BLM riots that swept over large parts of the country.  Trump wasn’t happy with what he likely saw as Esper’s disloyalty.

Media reports indicated that Esper did not expect to stay on whether Trump or Biden were president, and some sources maintained that he had already written a resignation letter.  At the same time, politico.com reported that “defense establishment figures” were urging Esper to stay on during a “transition of power.”

Esper, however, is out and Christopher Miller, the director of the National Anti-Terrorism Center, will take over as acting secretary.

It could be that Trump was simply lashing out at a disloyal subordinate.

Another possible explanation is that Trump is anticipating more “mostly peaceful protests” and wants Esper out of the way in case he feels the military is needed.

There could, however, be yet another explanation for Trump firing the defense secretary at this time—a scenario in which an anti-Trump Pentagon leadership might consider supporting “president elect” Joe Biden by “escorting” Trump from the White House in a force majeure situation

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

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