There is an old Chinese legend of a golden scroll on which the secret of human happiness was written; and sages and warlords, merchant-princes and emperors sought the scroll with fervor. When found, they saw the secret of the scroll consisted of one ideogram printed over and over, an ideogram they could not read. However, there was a beggar girl who could read the mysterious word.
If you know that word, then you know the secret of human happiness.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for three reasons: first, it drives the Leftists crazy because it is a clearly and openly Christian holiday in the midst of a society they are fervidly attempting to dechristianize; second, it drives Leftists crazy because it is a holiday based on a historical fact, namely, Indian and Pilgrim cooperation, which flips the middle finger at the Leftist preferred narrative about non-civilized White men committing malign genocide on the non-savage Red men; and finally and most of all, it drives the Leftists crazy because the concept of being thankful, of feeling gratitude, of thanks for benefits never to be repaid, is utterly alien to their way of thinking and their way of life.
One benefit that accrues to the Christian, even if all of history, logic, and revelation should turn out to be false, and God a myth no more real than Global Warming, nonetheless, is that we Christian men feel gratitude toward our Creator for the infinite gift of creation. A noble pagan can indeed receive a gift in his stockings at Christmas, and be grateful to the giver, but a Christian can feel grateful for the legs he puts into his stockings each morning, and the world on which he walks.
The Left does not give thanks, not to anyone, human or divine, past or present, not for any reason.
“Youâ€”whoâ€™re depraved enough to believe that you could adjust yourself to a mysticâ€™s dictatorship and could please him by obeying his ordersâ€”there is no way to please him; when you obey, he will reverse his orders; he seeks obedience for the sake of obedience and destruction for the sake of destruction. You who are craven enough to believe that you can make terms with a mystic by giving in to his extortionsâ€”there is no way to buy him off, the bribe he wants is your life, as slowly or as fast as you are willing to give it inâ€”and the monster he seeks to bribe is the hidden blank-out in his mind, which drives him to kill in order not to learn that the death he desires is his own.”
No matter what one thinks of Ayn Rand‘s conclusions on other topics, one ought to stand in awe of her incisive and unparalleled clarity of insight into the mind of the Collectivist. Each time I am tempted to think that the villains in her novels are caricatures or exaggerations, I meet one in real life.
Hers seems an extraordinary statement, to be sure, but regard the logic of it: If a Leftist were ever to feel gratitude, this would mean he felt a satisfaction of his demands. His demands would cease, hence, he would cease to be a Leftist.
The Leftists do not even have gratitude to their own pioneers and forefathers. Instead of erecting shrines, like noble prechristian heathens, to their ancestors, these postmodern postchristian heathens turn on their ancestors and rend them, and dishonor the memory even of their own founders. Like Jupiter casting castrated Saturn into Hell, they maim and condemn their own fathers.
An example comes from my own field, science fiction. If you are unfamiliar with the name Robert Heinlein, he is rightly called the Dean of Science Fiction; his pen is the one that first broke through from the pulps into the slicks, and then into juveniles, and then into the mainstream. Were it not for him, we would still be a Hugo Gernsbeckian ghetto.
Heinlein was also a bold advocate for equality of all races and both sexes, at a time when such ideas were not discussed in polite society. He was the main champion in our little Science Fiction ghetto of all things Progressive and Leftwing, that is, the Leftwing of that time. (They have since reversed their standards, for example, swapping a principled opposition to censorship to a full-throated advocacy of it, or swapping an unprincipled opposition to monogamy to an even more unprincipled advocacy of abstinence combined with libertinism.)
The Left owe Heinlein an immense debt of gratitude. Ergo they are ungrateful.
While working on the novel that was to become Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein warned his agent that the inclusion of an ethnically diverse cast was not only deliberateâ€”it was non-negotiable, and if an editor requested the removal of the Jewish character, Blassingame (the agent) was to take the book elsewhere.
This is from the letter Heinlein wrote to his agent about his wishes:
“I have deliberately selected a boy of Scotch-English pioneer ancestry, a boy whose father is a German immigrant, and a boy who is American Jewish. Having selected this diverse background they are then developed as American boys without reference to their backgrounds. You may run into an editor who does not want one of the young heroes to be Jewish. I will not do business with such a firm. The ancestry of the three boys is a â€śmustâ€ť and the book is offered under those conditions. My interest was aroused in this book by the opportunity to show to kids what I conceive to be Americanism. The use of a diverse group . . . is part of my intent; it must not be changed. . . . I am as disinterested as a referee but I want to get over an object lesson in practical democracy.”
Commenting on this is one Mitch Wagner, freak, writing on the blog maintained by Tor books — one of the largest and most well-respected names in science fiction publishing, as well as being my own publisher. This is not some overlooked corner or outlier opinion.
This is all admirable, but letâ€™s keep in mind whatâ€™s missing from this cast: Asians; disabled people; non-Americans of any kind; lesbians, gays, and the transgendered; Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or representatives of the other major world religions. Heinleinâ€™s book was enormously ethnically diverse in that it included the full variety of American Judeo-Christian boys.
And even the notion that the ethnically diverse boys are â€śdeveloped as American boys without reference to their backgroundsâ€ť is a little creepy.
The freakish Mr. Wagner is not satisfied that Heinlein stormed the breach for them, being the first science fiction writer to put a Jew (Morrie Abrams from Rocket Ship Galileo), a Filipino (Juan Rico, Starship Troopers), a Negro (Rod Walker from Tunnel in the Sky implicitly and Mr. Kiku from The Star Beast explicitly) a Mohammedan (Dr. “Stinky” Mahmoud from Stranger in a Strange Land) or a Maori girl (Podkayne from Podkayne of Mars) in the spotlight as a main character and hero or heroine, but then criticizes Heinlein for not having as a main character â€¦ who? A cross-dressing homosexual castrati Hindu as a main character in a children’s book published in 1947? The Democrat Party still had Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, and in those days the militant arm of the Democrat Party, the KKK, were still lynching blacks.
Do you understand to what the freakish Mr. Wagner is objecting? He is objecting to the melting pot theory that men of different races, locked into endless mutual hatred in the old world, can leave their hatred behind here in the new world. He is objecting to racelessness. Hence, he is a racist.
Heinlein showed backbone and gorm and ran the risk of being blackballed and put out of business by the Left (who, then as now, have major influence amounting to near total control in the New York publication industry) â€” and for this bold stance, unheard-of at the time, the gormless and freakish Mr Wagner criticizes Mr. Heinlein.
As Ayn Rand says, you cannot reason with such creatures, you cannot negotiate with them. Reasoning presupposes a standard of evidence that can be satisfied; negotiation presupposes a state of satisfaction that will silence further demands.
The extortion can be material, as for money, or social, as for status, or psychological, as for a sense of unearned self-esteem, but the defining characteristic of the Left is that these things extorted are not earned.
But a satisfied Leftist, a Leftist with nothing further to extort, is no longer a Leftist for the same reason that a Pirate who never plunders ships is not a Pirate, or a parasite without a host is no longer a parasite. They can never be satisfied.
Why? Do they want to be unhappy, always victims, always weak, always pathetic, whining, unmanned, absurd, pathetic, and gormless?
Despite what it seems, this is not due to a mental disorder. It is a disordered philosophy that rewards them for pretending to have a mental disorder. Giving into the temptation once makes it easier to give in the next time, in a soaring parabolic asymptote of unreality.
Contrast the concept of entitlement and the concept of charity. Entitlement means one man is given another man’s money, hours and days of his life and life’s work, as a matter of right. The second man is, in effect, enslaved to the first for period covered by hours and days of labor lost to him.
The second has no reason to feel gratitude to the first, since the labor and life of the first are the second man’s by right, not by grace.
The second man extorts the first by means of white blackmail, that is, he holds the first man hostage not by means of some vice or crime of the first man, by but his virtue. The first man’s ability, his intelligence, his work, his integrity, his unwillingness to see the deserving poor suffer, all these are like the incriminating photos or gambling debts of a blackmailer, except strangely reversed. It is the blackmailer’s own vices and weakness that are used to blackmail the other.
Now the truly subtle, yet inevitable, corruption of character takes place not the first time such a transfer of life and labor is expropriated, nor the second. It takes place whenever the second man realizes that his need, his inability, his suppurating wounds, his failure, and, in sum, his unmanliness, is what gives him the right to expropriate, and he wishes to exercise that right more fully, and can do it only by becoming ever more bloated in victimhood, ever less in manhood.
Legitimate need is forgotten: invented need, make-believe wounds, become the stock in trade. No Leftist cares about honor killing or female genital mutilation. Indeed, they bend over backward to praise and protect the ‘religion of peace’ from criticism. Marvel Comics reissues one of their banner superheroines as a Muslim girl.
But Leftists wax vocal over so-called micro-aggressions such as a space scientist seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt with bathing beauties pictured on it, blaming female inaptitude at physics on him; or a carefully edited video of men in bad sections of New York wolfwhistling at a model walking by, swishing her hips. The sheer, stark unreality of such naggings are beyond parody.
The difference is that crusading on behalf of real women victims of real atrocities gets you no claim on the life and labor of any other person. To fight real rather than imaginary oppression, you would have to do something real rather than imaginary. There is no one to pay the white blackmail.
The claim of victimhood grants you a right to treat your neighbors like livestock. The right is not bound by any logical or theoretical limit. It is limited by nothing but a pragmatic consideration that the herd, if roused, will turn and rend you.
This has three corruptive side effects: first, the real victims or real charity cases are ignored. Second, the gratitude that accompanies charity vanishes. Gratitude vanishes. Third, whoever is most shrill, most unreasonable, most outrageous and insatiable in his demands get the most goods, once again, limited only by the pragmatic consideration that if the herd is roused they will turn on their tormentors.
Whenever the linebacker is approaching the goalposts, and you are in danger of having your demands met, and therefore your power curtailed, you move the goalposts.
Thanksgiving, charity, gratitude, is mutually exclusive with insatiable demands that all things be given you by right.
This is why the freakish Mr Wagner cannot express thanksgiving for a pioneer like Heinlein, and feminists can shriek about a Hawaiian shirt but not about a burka.
This is why they hate Thanksgiving. They have sold their souls for a mess of pottage, and have lost the ability to give thanks.
In case you were wondering, the one word written again and again on the front and back of the golden scroll of happiness in the Chinese legend is this: GRATITUDE.
And another word for gratitude is thanksgiving.
Don’t miss last week’s column: Talking Past Each Other: Truth and Untruth.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisherâ€™s Weekly as “this fledgling centuryâ€™s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.
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