E.T.A. Hoffman & Romanticism

As a Roger Kimball fanboy, I appreciate the cultural commentary at The New Criterion, his publication dedicated to covering high culture.  Kimball proves that you can appreciate, understand, and analyze the best of Western civilization’s cultural output while still supporting Donald Trump.  If these “artistic” types on the Progressive Left were truly tolerant, they’d read The New Criterion.  Yes, Executive Editor James Panero sounds like someone you’d want to give a wedgie, but he’s a bonafide cultural conservative (side note:  check out that link to his lecture on Russell Kirk’s ghost stories).

Regardless, Hannah Niemeier wrote a charming piece about E.T.A. Hoffman, “The man who made Romanticism“; it is well worth the read.  Hoffman is a somewhat forgotten figure whose literary works inspired (and were inspired by) some of the great composers of the classical and Romantic periods.  For example, Hoffman wrote the short story that served as the source for Tchaikovsky’s beloved The Nutcracker.

His life eerily mirrors one of his most famous devotees, Robert Schumann:

Both were reluctant lawyers, right-brained men in a left-brain profession, with personalities subject to extreme moods that bordered on mental illness. Schumann’s music famously spans the creative continuum between mild and wild, and in his compositional method, he was like Hoffmann’s Kreisler: “sometimes mad, sometimes lucid.” He wrote the eight-movement Kreisleriana, a representative work of Romantic-period piano music, in four days in 1838.

Yet both men were aware of the dangers of artistic passion. Schumann was a genius, but an unstable one. He often went into creative depressions in which he could hardly function, let alone make music. Haunted by the idea that creativity and madness came from the same place, he said his greatest fear, which increased along with his musical mastery, was of losing his mind. But it was a fate he couldn’t escape; in 1856, at the age of forty-six, he died of syphilis. In a coincidence that seems to belong in one of his “uncanny stories,” Hoffmann had died at the same age, and of the same disease (though more than three decades earlier).

That moody artistic temperament is distinctly Romantic.  It no-doubt influenced some of the cultural instability of the 1960s counterculture, with its emphasis on the individual as his own god, ironically a slave to his inner emotional turmoil.  But it also served as a powerful counterbalance to the cold, mechanistic progress of the Enlightenment, reminding us that we have deep connections to God, to the land, and to each other.

Like the Romantic period his work inspired, Hoffman was a man of contradictions and tensions; a fascinating, brilliant individual.

Advertisements

Saturday Reading: Communist Infiltration is Real

Thanks to fridrix of Corporate History International for sharing this piece with me a couple of weeks ago.  Check out his excellent blog, then read the piece linked below.  Happy Saturday!

Former British radical Peter Hitchens offers a lengthy, eye-opening account of alleged Communist infiltration into the highest ranks of British academia and government.  In particular, he admonishes readers to forget about socialist Jeremy Corbyn, and instead argues that the real Marxists were New Labour Blairites.  You can read the full piece here:  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6197097/amp/PETER-HITCHENS-reveals-REAL-truth-Communist-infiltration-Britain.html

Hitchens’s account is riveting for several reasons.  For one, it further confirms the fact of Marxist infiltration of the institutions.  That story is best told in Roger Kimball’s The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America, which made my popular Summer Reading List in 2016.  As a reformed social justice radical of the 1960s, Hitchens knows the figures involved—and he names names in this piece.  It’s not as conclusive as the declassified Venona cables, but he demonstrates the likelihood of widespread Cultural Marxist infiltration.

For another, I was struck by how much tougher the old-school, Soviet-style Communists were.  Hitchens writes about the true-believer, 1930s Commies who were fighting in Spain against Franco, and engaging in cloak-and-dagger espionage.  Sure, they were misguided, or even willfully wicked, people, but they were men and women of action.  Contrast that with today’s generation of snowflakes and safe-space seekers, and it seems that modern-day Communists have lost some of their luster.

Finally, Hitchens details that the “Deep State” is not a uniquely American phenomenon.  In the 1990s, British intelligence destroyed most of the documentation detailing who was involved in Marxist organizations in key positions in British society and government.  He suggests this destruction was a willful act of obfuscation, undertaken in part to shield the Blair government from suspicion of Marxist ties.

I could quote many sections of this lengthy piece, but in it’s better to read through it yourself.  Hitchens writes as a journalist, with those mildly annoying one-sentence “paragraphs,” and since it’s The Daily Mail, there are YUGE pictures of 1960s radicals that load-up slower than a porn site on dial-up, but it’s worth scrolling through to get to the meat.

That said, here’s one representative excerpt among many that demonstrates the chilling nature of Communist infiltration:

‘Moscow Gold’ was never a myth. Well into modern times, Soviet Embassy officials would leave bags of used banknotes at Barons Court underground station in London, to be collected by the Communist official Reuben Falber, who stored them in the loft of his bungalow in Golders Green, North London.

At times this rather shameful secret subsidy, direct from a police state, reached £100,000 a year – in an era when that was a lot of money.

Who knows what it was used for? But the Communist Party spent a great deal on its industrial organisation, which fomented trouble in British workplaces and strove to get Communists and their sympathisers installed in important positions in British trade unions.

This enabled Moscow to wield huge, indirect influence over the Labour Party, especially on Foreign and Defence policies.

Labour’s embrace of unilateral nuclear disarmament in the middle of the Cold War, for instance, was greatly helped by the covert Communist machine in the unions.

That machine could be incredibly unscrupulous and hard to fight.

Hardly anyone, alas, now remembers the way the tough ex-Communist Frank Chapple took on, exposed and defeated blatant Communist ballot-rigging in the crucial Electrical Trades Union (ETU) between 1959 and 1961. Much more was at stake than who ran the ETU.

How deeply we were penetrated at that time we shall probably never know, and it is certain that many of those caught up in the pro-Stalin wave of the 1940s quietly peeled away after the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

But 1968 did not kill off Communism.

It began a new movement – Eurocommunism, which renounced Soviet methods but kept the key aims of transforming our society.

It would seem that the European Union, rather than being a bulwark against Marxist influence, was almost deliberately conceived as a way to advance “Eurocommunism,” a means by which to foist Cultural Marxist pabulum on the peoples of a “united” Europe.  That makes Brexit all-the-more crucial.

Happy reading, and Happy Saturday!

America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Scott Rasmussen, writing for Ballotpedia, reports that 62% of American adults say their dream job is owning their own company.  That’s encouraging news, as it suggests that, despite decades of welfare state decadence, Americans still possess our entrepreneurial spirit.

That spirit has been with Americans going back to the colonial period.  Textbooks tend to focus on the Puritan planting of the Plymouth colony, which was certainly important, but the first permanent settlement in colonial British North America was Jamestown.  That settlement, and the entire colony of Virginia, was founded as a commercial enterprise, the efforts of joint-stock company in England.

French aristocrat and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in Democracy in America (1840) over two centuries later (during the height of the Jacksonian Era), noted Americans’ keen interest in commercial matters, and the pulsing energy and enthusiasm of always hustling.  He also noted the positive effect of trade upon liberty:

Trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions. Trade loves moderation, delights in compromise, and is most careful to avoid anger. It is patient, supple, and insinuating, only resorting to extreme measures in cases of absolute necessity. Trade makes men independent of one another and gives them a high idea of their personal importance: it leads them to want to manage their own affairs and teaches them to succeed therein. Hence it makes them inclined to liberty but disinclined to revolution.

Despite enthusiasm about the idea of starting a business, Rasmussen’s findings show that only 5% of Americans are “very likely to start their own business” in 2019, while 11% are somewhat likely.

Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see that the desire to hustle is prominent among Americans.  The economic mojo of the Trump economy no-doubt improves Americans’ optimism (although I should note that many Americans started businesses during the Obama stagcovery, albeit for a different reason—they couldn’t find work).  That optimism likely fuels some desire to get in on the action.

On a personal note, I will say that even I, a high school teacher—teaching being a job uniquely suited to the risk-averse in general—have caught this bug (don’t worry, loyal readers—I’m not going to try to sell you massage oils with untested healing properties).  I’m excited to expand some of my side-hustles in 2019, including writing, performing live music, and teaching private lessons.

Regardless of how those pan out, the thrill of applying effort towards ones passions is exhilarating.  What could be more American?

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico

TBT: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016

Two years ago, during the Second Era of Portliness, I wrote one of my most popular posts ever:  my recommended must-reads for conservatives (and everyone, for that matter).  With school starting back—yesterday!—I decided it was a good time to look back to this classic—nay, timeless—list.  Pick these up as soon as possible, and enjoy some end-of-summer reading.  –TPP

I’m at the beach–at the very desk at which I re-launched this blog after a six-year hiatus–and I figure it’s the perfect occasion to unveil the “Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016.”

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!  These books have shaped my thinking about the many issues I’ve covered over the past two months.  I highly encourage you to check them out.

This picture accurately depicts high school students the night before classes start.
(Image Source:  Original doodle, 23 September 2012)

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my all-time favorites:

1.) Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (1948) – I just wrote about this book in my last post (which I encourage you to read), and I’m including it on this list because it’s pretty much required reading, especially if you’re putting yourself through Conservatism 101.  The edition linked here is right around 100 pages, and while it’s a dense read, it’s not so overwhelming that you can’t finish it, making it perfect for long days at the beach.

Weaver’s writing is prophetic, especially if you’ve studied conservative thought, or even if you’ve just experienced a vague, gnawing sense of dislocation in the modern world.  It’s packed–nearly on every page–with brilliant, quotable gems.  I re-read the introduction to the book every August right before school starts back, because it reminds me why I teach, and helps to align my thinking morally and spiritually.

If you read just one book this summer—or even this year—make it Ideas Have Consequences.

2.) Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope:  Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (2012) – Few books have shaped my thinking about American values—what they are, why they matter, and why they’re worth defending—more thoroughly than this effort from conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager.  Prager, a devout Jew with an Ivy League education and rich love of learning, outlines the so-called “American Trinity”—easily found on any coin—and argues that Americans are losing a three-sided battle against the Left and Islamism due to an inability to articulate why American values matter.

The “American Trinity”—liberty, trust in God, and e pluribus unum—is a brilliant and easy-to-digest device for understanding core American values.  In fact, I owe a huge debt to Prager; Still the Best Hope almost directly inspired two of my earliest come-back posts:  the much-read “American Values, American Nationalism,” and the follow-up “Created by Philosophy.”

Prager splits the book into three major sections:  outlines of the threats of radical Islamism and modern progressive Leftism, then an unpacking of the “American Trinity.”  By far, the largest chunk of the book is the second section, which is one of the most effective eviscerations of Leftist assumptions ever written.  It’s so long because it’s extremely thorough and well-documented.

At around 450 pages, it can be a longer read, but it’s written in a pleasing, engaging style.  Prager isn’t a blow-hard like so many talk-radio show hosts, and his inquisitive, inviting voice comes through on the page.  I also love Prager’s mind and the way he approaches topics; check out his other works here.

3.) Roger Kimball, The Long March:  How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (2001) – If you’ve got some time—and are prepared to be terrified by the excesses of 1960s radicalism and its heroes—you must read this excellent, damning collection of essays.  In fact, everything Kimball writes is required reading (I also recommend The Fortunes of Permanence:  Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia and The Survival of Culture:  Permanent Values in a Virtual Age, both from 2012; the latter is edited by Kimball and includes the works of other writers).

“[E]verything Kimball writes is required reading.”

Long March strips away the romantic facade of 1960s folk heroes and “radical chic” academics, exposing their fraudulent, dangerous theories and their continued influence on American society and institutions.  Kimball isn’t aiming for the easy targets or to satisfy the Sean Hannity crowd; he brings thorough research and intellectual heft to the proceedings.  As an art historian and critic, he offers a perspective that’s often lacking from conservative scholarship, serious or otherwise.

My only real beef with the book is that he takes a very dim view of rock ‘n’ roll.  That being said, his argument against it makes sense, and I can’t help but experience a twinge of introspection now whenever I listen to my beloved classic rock.

Regardless, Kimball is a strong, eloquent writer, and I can almost feel myself getting smarter when I read his works.  I’m currently reading The Rape of the Masters:  How Political Correctness Sabotages Art from 2005, and it’s a linguistic delight.

“If you read just one book this summer–or even this year–make it Ideas Have Consequences.”

Honorable Mention:  Greg Gutfeld, Not Cool:  The Hipster Elite and Their War on You (2015) – if you want a summer read that’s quick, digestible, and absolutely hilarious, pick up Not Cool.  Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’s The Five and former host of the excellent late-late-late-night round-table discussion show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, offers an unusual thesis:  everything awful that’s ever been done—such as adopting wasteful, inefficient, and redistributive government programs—for the past fifty years or so has been because people are afraid to look uncool.

It’s oddly compelling.  When you think about it, no one wants to be left out, and the Left constantly bludgeons society with the idea that if you don’t uncritically accept that the government should solve all of our problems through coercion (“compassion”), then you’re a mean, stingy racist.  If the parade of A-list celebrities at the Democratic National Convention last week (and the smaller cavalcade of B-list celebrities at the Republican National Convention the week before) is any indication, then it’s clear that it’s “cool” to be a progressive, but lethally uncool to be a conservative.  After all, what’s “cool” about saying no to “free” stuff?

Not Cool is a quick read, and Gutfeld’s humor and insight crackle on every page.  Sometimes you won’t know whether you should laugh or cry.

***

So, there’s your summer reading for 2016.  We’ve still got about a month of summertime fun left (although I’ll be heading back to the classroom in just a couple of weeks), so grab some of these books before you head out of town.  You’ll be glad you did.

Razorfist on InfoWars Deplatforming

As I posted this morning, Alex Jones and InfoWars were unceremoniously deplatformed in a coordinated, cross-corporate attack that saw almost every major Silicon Valley player ban the right-wing conspiracy theorist from their respective services.  Already, YouTubers of all stripes are coming out to defend Jones—if not the substance of his content, then his right to be heard.

YouTuber Razorfist released a video last night (below; warning:  foul language) in which he argued that this attack makes Jones a martyr; all too true.  Here is the video (again, video contains foul language and may not be safe/appropriate for work):

Razor also points out that you can continue to follow InfoWars at Bitchute, and predicts that the site is going to grow rapidly with its new user on board:  https://www.bitchute.com/channel/infowars/

Follow your conscious.  You don’t have to support Alex Jones’s content just because he was deplatformed, but all conservatives should be defending his ability to put his message out there.  After all, if it’s just nutty kookery, then submitting it to the light of day will expose its cracks.

Banned! Techno-Elites Deplatform Alex Jones

The explosive news Monday was that tech giants Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple banned Alex Jones and Infowars from their respective platforms.  While Jones is a controversial figure who peddles in rumor, conspiracy, and innuendo, the concerted action from separately-owned and -managed Silicon Valley entities is unsettling.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece for National Review arguing that Silicon Valley giants should be regulated—or even busted up—to prevent monopolistic and anti-competitive practices, drawing parallels to the muckraking reformers of the early twentieth century who brought down Standard Oil.   I’m wary of such solutions-by-government, but Hanson was anticipating a problem that has become all-too familiar:  the massive social and cultural clout the unmoored tech giants wield.

Steven Crowder of online late-night show Louder with Crowder often pokes fun at—and complains loudly about—the various murky “terms and services” and “community guidelines” rules that are ever-shifting in continuously updated apps and platforms.  A slight change in a Facebook algorithm—or a Twitter employee having a bad day—can lead to massive reductions in traffic for a YouTuber or blogger.  Reduced—or eliminated—traffic means less revenue.  YouTubers like Crowder who helped build the platform now find their videos demonetized for the most mysterious of reasons.

Candace Owens was kicked from Twitter because she rewrote recent New York Times hire and anti-white racist Sarah Jeong’s tweets by replacing disparaging uses of “white” with “black” or “Jew.”  Razorfirst posted a video some months ago of him literally just talking about nonsense for five minutes… and it was immediately demonetized.

Now Alex Jones is banned across multiple platforms from multiple platforms—which is absolutely chilling.  Jones is certainly not without controversy, and I wouldn’t take his ramblings to heart without a heaping helping of salt, but just because he’s a kinda nutty conspiracy kook who enjoys ripping his shirt off doesn’t make his situation any less terrible.  If we write off Jones because he was “asking for it” by being kooky, then we’re missing the whole point of free speech.

And, yes, the usual objections are inevitable:  “but, TPP, the First Amendment speech protections only apply to the government!  Companies can set whatever guidelines they want!  You can use some other platform!  He still has his website.”  Yes, yes, yes, and yes—all true.  Nevertheless, the arbitrary power we’ve voluntarily—if unwittingly—yielded to these tech elites is staggering.  And this preponderance of power may be where Hanson has a point.

Is not the function of the government to protect the rights of its citizens from threats and violations, both foreign and domestic?  In this case, arbitrary bans—particularly these coordinated attacks on controversial figures—seem to be a powerful means of preventing an individual and/or entity from delivering his message in the public square.  Like the street corner doomsayer, Alex Jones has a right to be heard, even if he’s sometimes insane (for me, the jury is out on Jones; I enjoy the entertainment value of his commentary, and I think he’s probably right about 80% of the time, but then he veers off into crisis actors, etc.—the danger of a man who is charismatic and convincing).

Today, it’s a relatively buffoonish character like Jones.  Tomorrow—who knows?  Do we really want to find out?  “Hate speech” is a code word for silencing conservatives.  It’s better to publish one racist screed from a lonely nut (not referencing Jones here, to be clear) than to muzzle millions because their innocuous, mainstream conservative viewpoint might been interpreted as a “dog-whistle.”

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it’s often better to give madmen the rope with which to hang themselves.  When we try to silence them, they only gain in credibility (indeed, when I read the news, I immediately went… to Infowars!).

Civilization is Worth It

The New Criterion, which I have touted before on this site, is an excellent, conservative publication dedicated to the arts and culture in all their forms.  I picked up a subscription (since lapsed, sadly) a couple of years ago at a deep discount, and enjoyed its strong, engaging writing immensely.  I don’t know anything about—nor have I ever seen—an opera, but the critics at New Criterion make me want to attend one.

One great resource at New Criterion is their “Media” page, which includes all of their audio articles.  These are articles read aloud by professional readers, and they make for wonderful listening while you’re going about your day, from painting walls to picking through the soggy remnants of your life.

Monday evening, New Criterion posted an audio article written by the publication’s editors.  It’s title:  “Is Civilization Overrated“?  Their conclusion, by way of reductio ad absurdum, is that, no, it isn’t, but I highly recommend you give it a listen; there’s a lot of John-Jacques Rousseau bashing, as the piece explores the destructive philosopher’s impish assertion that we were all better off foraging for berries and getting killed by saber-toothed tigers.

That question, though—is civiliation “overrated” or “worth it”—is an interesting one nonetheless.  I suspect that most everyone would say, “Well, sure,” and not give it much more thought.  But the contra argument is, at least fleetingly, interesting.  It’s also highly instructive of the thought-process of the modern Left.

I occasionally adjunct teach at a local technical college, and some years ago I had the opportunity to teach the first portion of Western Civilization survey course.  That course, naturally, started with a quick overview of prehistoric times and people in the Near East, and what pre-agricultural societies were probably like.  We then looked at the Neolithic Revolution and the rise of settled or semi-nomadic agriculture.

It was at this point that I caught a subtle but distinctive bit of the “civilization-isn’t-worth-it” mindset.  The textbook—which, sadly, I cannot quote from directly because flooding displaced me from my humble, scholarly bungalow—featured a section that went something like this:  with the advent of agriculture and settled societies came social hierarchies (true); that increase inequality (true enough, but the book makes it seem like an inherently negative development), including inequality between genders (that probably existed before agriculture); and settled agriculture began environmental degradation (again, probably true, but it also meant more human lives entering the world).

The whole passage—which I will have to quote at length when I have the book back in my possession—heavily insinuates that civilization was a raw deal; that the whole thing was a sham to bamboozle the weak into following the strong; and that men and women somehow existed in a mythical state of equality that would make the most strident radical feminist cry tears of pure Subaru Outback engine oil.

This mindset, I suspect, pervades a chunk of the modern Left, who un-ironically decry global warming (or is it cooling, or climate change?) while jetting around in gas-guzzling private jets to climate conferences.  There’s a certain naturalistic fallacy at play that is highly seductive, but ultimately facile.

I remember a conversation with my father when I was maybe seventeen, an age full of angsty brooding and doughy fatness.  I basically said, “Dad, I feel like I shouldn’t have to worry about trigonometric functions, and instead should let those motivated to solve them do it while I live in a state of naturalistic ecstasy” (okay, that wasn’t verbatim what I said, but you get the gist of it).  At seventeen, such an idea is seductive, and largely reality—someone else is bringing in the money while you play Civilization II instead of doing your math homework—but you grow out of it.

Except, apparently, for academics, the only folks educated enough to believe in fifty-three different genders and that “democratic” socialism works.  I (thankfully) grew out of my whining, which was really just an elaborate scheme to avoid doing any actual work myself—which might be the motivating factor behind Leftism after all.

Regardless, civilization seems imminently worth it.  Just ask anyone who has ever had a loved one saved through the miraculous technology of modern medicine.  Consider, too, that you’re probably reading this piece while streaming music from your phone, checking the weather, and eating a breakfast you didn’t have to kill with your bare hands after running it down for eight hours.

Are you wearing glasses right now?  At one point, you probably would have been left in the cold to die—your weakness was too costly for the rest of the tribe.  Do you have weird, probably made-up gluten allergies?  Well… maybe you would have been okay in a pre-agricultural age, but they still should have shunned you.

Ultimately, I’d much rather live in a world that produced J.S. Bach than a Stone Age pit full of atonal grunting.  It says something about the state of our civilization that the atonal grunts are back in vogue.

Hyper-dependence on technology is not without its pitfalls, and we should work to improve civilization to work more efficiently and to put humanity first (only after God), but a base reversion to an anarchic, Rousseauian “state of nature” is a fool’s dream.  It would only result in more death and heartache.

So get out there and compose some sonatas.  Civilization is worth it!