Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Write, Left, Right

My thousandth column was published sometime this year, not sure exactly when. At about 800 words each, it hasn’t amounted to a million yet; that’ll take another four years if I keep it up. It all started with letters to the editor when I felt strongly about something. Then I published a few opinion pieces in a Catholic weekly newspaper, then a few in a big daily which was first to pay me. In 1992, I began publishing every week and lately I’m asking myself why I keep doing it. The money is nice, but it’s not a lot. Other ventures pay much better.

It’s probably because I write about whatever I want. Mostly it’s been politics and world affairs, or social issues, or history - whatever is most on my mind any given week. Sometimes it’s a personal issue, but there are some personal issues about which I’d like to write but cannot do so publicly because it might hurt others, or because I haven’t come to enough resolution on them to make any sense in print. Should they resolve themselves, they’ll likely emerge here.

Various editors have suggested that I write more of this kind of column or that kind, but I’ve resisted, and I guess that answers my question. I only write what I feel like writing, and I’m likely to continue as long as I can do that.
Early left-winger days

When I started in the mid-to-late 1980s, I was still pretty liberal. If I’d stayed that way, I would likely have gotten bigger checks because most big dailies are liberal, but I changed. I was moving right while New England was moving left. Readership diminished. I’m still changing, and don’t expect to stop until I stop breathing.
Ira Rubenzahl, one of the Alinskyites I worked with in the 70s today.

An old friend from Massachusetts happened upon my blog last year and was shocked that I’m so conservative now. We both worked a couple of years with Saul Alinsky, red diaper baby “community organizers” in the early ‘70s. He’s still a proud leftist and loyal Democrat. He didn’t ask me why I’d changed, and I didn’t ask him why he hasn’t. Perhaps we’ll discuss it someday.
Alan Solomont, another of the Alinskyites I worked with in the 70s today.

Until fairly recently, I felt ashamed of my left-wing activities in those days, but I realize now they were essential to constructing my world view of today, especially now that my country is being run by the kinds of people I worked with then. It’s not just the president and secretary of state, it’s thousands of bureaucrats, judges, and other functionaries appointed over the years. I understand how they think.
Liberal, anti-nuclear-activist days

To sum up a few of the differences between them and me within an 800-word, op-ed column, generalizations are necessary, so here goes:

They’re nihilists. I’m a theist. They believe the universe happened by itself. And humans? A few chemicals mixed together in a primordial sea and became a cell which reproduced and evolved into us. There’s no meaning, so don’t waste time looking for any. The laws of physics are absolute and nothing else exists. I believe God created it all and He is absolute. Laws of physics are secondary instruments of His spiritual will.

They’re relativists. I’m not. I believe in objective truth, but since I’m as flawed as every other human, I perceive it imperfectly.

They’re utopian. I’m not. There can be no perfect society this side of heaven. My former Alinsky associates think they can manifest utopia with big government. Mine is a tragic view. That is, we can never achieve perfect happiness in this life. The best we can expect is episodes. As government grows, those episodes become fewer and farther between.

They’re atheistic, or, at best, agnostic. I’m Christian. More so, I’m a Catholic Christian. My church is the oldest, continually-functioning institution on earth, but it’s imperfect too because it’s comprised of flawed humans like me.The recent conservative me at CPAC with Erik Erickson of

Both Communism and Nazism have been manifestations of their thinking. That the Catholic Church and capitalism were enemies of both is not coincidental. The 20th century was dominated by the struggle between and among these competing belief systems. Hundreds of millions died and that struggle continues, smoldering, into the 21st. Neither Communism nor Nazism are dead. Both had been in remission, but are re-emerging in parts of the body politic with ubiquitous application if Alinskyite euphemism.

Even when I was a leftist, however, I was pro-life, although today that would be considered oxymoronic. I always knew abortion kills innocent human beings. Abortion epitomizes the leftist, nihilist, atheist, utopian mindset. Protecting it is the primary objective of today’s Democrat Party. Redistribution of wealth and income is second. Big government is their vehicle for both. The November election will be pivotal to the continuing struggle.Writing this column - putting ideas into logical sequences of sentences and paragraphs each week - helps me work all this out. I do it more for myself than for you, my readers.


Texas Transplant said...

You may write for yourself in order to frame your thinking, but you also write for many of us who are struggling with the plethora of information which surrounds us.

It is difficult to winnow the wheat from the chaff.

Anonymous said...

I have gone back and forth so many times I cannot keep track. And that is how it always will be. I am not sure I want to know. Eternity is a long time to deal with a what might be a bad choice.

Samantha said...

You say you write for yourself, yet so much of what you say pretends to know what is in others hearts and minds, making you just another self-righteous and know-it-all blowhard. Thank goodness for our youth that you are no longer an "educator".

Tom McLaughlin said...

And yet you read it. Why?

Mr. Smith said...

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

Hopefully, there will come a time when it is widely understood that people are complex organisms with varying degrees of political persuasions. But these days, the media have become a successful tool in shaping our inner monologues in such a way that many have subscribed to the fallacious, dualistic “liberal vs. conservative” paradigm.

When culture is shaped by a dualistic paradigm, intellectual and critical thought cannot reach its potential. This is because those stuck in a dualistic mindset cannot fathom the multidimensional, and so the intellectuals’ attempts to reach out are automatically put into one of two categories.

This stunted growth can be observed in the irrational behavior of those in the political arena of the United States with their adherence to dualism, evident in the cognitive denial of Obama and W. Bush supporters.

Bill Maher has used the term “working backwards” to describe the process by which one begins with an agenda and makes reality fit in or around it. Rather than beginning with an agenda of truth and a desire to learn the facts, those in denial begin with their supposition, and whether correct or not, make all facts fit into this. Maher is guilty of contradicting himself with his own political assertions, but this doesn’t negate his point.

A rephrasing of Einstein’s quote to describe political America would be “Insanity is voting Democrat and Republican over and over again and expecting different results.”

A single machine with two major cogs that serve the same purpose, we have one major conglomerate of corporations marketing itself as two dominant political parties, and it is succeeding to such a degree that the Obama presidential campaign won an award for its marketing, beating Apple, Coors, and Nike in the process. They would not have won this award nor spent the largest amount of campaign money in history for marketing that did not work.

Call it cognitive denial or willful ignorance, but those most successfully marketed to are the last to recognize it. People need to feel acceptance and go to great lengths to achieve this in life. Teens wanting to fit in will buy into brand consciousness that, for the right price, tells them they are hip, cleverly odd, or independent, and political adults will do the same for imagery and rhetoric that reaffirms their needs or beliefs. Marketing has evolved over time, and people’s acceptance of reality as a marketed entity has evolved right along with it.

Mr. Smith said...


The subjugated mind of those adhering to dualism is in the process of destroying its own inner layers so that no complexity can be seen. It is now a myopic puppet that cannot recognize the brilliance or beauty of what is true and real. It can only see what fits inside the notions predefined by those with less imagination.

It cannot see that there is no right vs. left. Aside from what this interpretation says about the right/left subscribers’ inability to see a clear path in front of them and their inability to look back and reflect on mistakes is the fact that there are options. And there are almost always many more than two. In fact, it is usually not until we see things in multiple dimensions that we gain any perspective. The rights and lefts have become inculcated in and by their own fiction. So it can be said that there is no right vs. left; there is direction.

And direction is something of which we are in desperate need in political America. Everything we love about life is much more important than politics, but there is nothing in our world that has been left untouched by politics. It is for this reason that we need to seek direction. But no real, clear, lasting direction will be shown to us without our first looking inward and being honest with ourselves, informing ourselves, and seeking leadership that does not pander to us but levels with us based on its recognition of our ability to reason. Once we are honest with ourselves, break free from the chains of denial, and discontinue supporting criminal elements in suits whose greed has overtaken our world, we will recognize real leadership and honest vision, which cannot be found in corporate mantras professing fiction as reality.

Anonymous said...

"The subjugated mind of those adhering to dualism is in the process of destroying its own inner layers so that no complexity can be seen. It is now a myopic puppet that cannot recognize the brilliance or beauty of what is true and real. It can only see what fits inside the notions predefined by those with less imagination."


Steve said...

I think you're right on the money, Mr. Smith. Arthur Miller said, "The only thing I'm reasonably sure of is that anybody who's got an ideology has stopped thinking." A person's deep desire to believe, or their fear/reluctance to challenge their own beliefs is catered to by the FOX news and MSNBCs of the media world. People subsist on those channels because they know they'll never have to think, they'll just have to agree. Partisans gravitate to those sources because they want to be lied to. They want to hear from people who to take the position that our party is responsible for everything good that's happened to this country and the other party is responsible for everything bad that's ever happened to this country. The idiot box has become a source of enlightenment for far too many in this country. It's all just opinion, and people are eager to accept it as researched fact.

Anonymous said...

Would your government lie to you?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
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ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Gonzo said...

Is this an attempt at some kind of Stephen Colbert copy cat piece? Because it is damn funny. Good job

Jules H said...

Tom,I started out as a straight-party-ticket Democrat myself. There are many reasons why I woke up and switched to the right, but two individuals had much to do with it: Jimmy Carter (for whom I campaigned in college) and Ronald Reagan. It's interesting that you have so many readers who feel the need to follow what you write despite posting comments that indicate they believe themselves to be vastly superior to you and 99.9% of humanity. I wonder how many of these people also watch the television they claim to despise. That's another thing I quit doing over 20 years ago. I have never missed TV OR being a Democrat! Thanks for the post.