Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our country skates on thin ice today wherein that thin line separates our economy and security (domestic and foreign) from very serious trouble. As Kevin noted earlier, some believe Republicans are leaderless while Democrats are out of control. Others believe Democrats are leaderless while Republicans are irrelevant. Whichever is the case, an earthquake is coming. Evidence of it is in the popular culture where apocalyptic stories permeate television and books. (Hell, even bomb shelters are on the rise (pardon the metaphor).) One wonders if anyone in Washington is actually paying attention.
At about the same time, Mary Eberstadt pens an Irving Kristol appreciation, in which she praises his and his aciolytes skills at culture-warring:
That was how he could speak with such authority about "their turbulent sexuality, their drug addiction, their desperate efforts to invent new 'lifestyles,' and their popular music, at once Dionysiac and mournful." I remember those words leaping from the page upon reading them years later. In New York in the 1980s, new wave and punk rock were still reigning but on the way out, hip-hop and techno on the way in, and like everyone else I'd spent plenty of time slumming in clubs and other waystations of the popular culture, imbibing nihilism. Yet here was Irving, a 65-year-old bookworm who probably couldn't have found CBGB's if he were dropped off in front of it on a Friday night (and certainly wouldn't have gone in if he had), managing a decade later in just a few words to speak more truth about the scene than any of its itinerant habitu├ęs
Thus Kristol alerted us to the dangers of nightclubs.
As he put it in one 1993 essay that made waves called "My Cold War," what saddened him above all were "the clear signs of rot and decadence germinating within American society--a rot and decadence that was no longer the consequence of liberalism but was the actual agenda of contemporary liberalism. .  .  . It is an ethos that aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism on the one hand, and moral anarchy on the other. It cannot win, but it can make us all losers."
Thus Kristol alerted us to the nightmare of the Clinton years. Also, promiscuous sex and so forth. In other words, the usual Kulturkampf bag of tricks, which aren't selling so well as they once did -- Eberstadt admits that "today, of course, many on the right as well as the left would drive social conservatives from the fold if they could." Well, he got rich off it anyway; R.I.P. and so long, suckers!

It may just be, though, that the millenarianist style is getting a makeover. You don't hear Tea Partiers like the Wizbang crew talking much about how techno and blowjobs are going to kill us all. Their signs and portents are kids singing about Obama and Obama holding a nice smile. They insist that the Common People are as worried about this as they are, as proven by their hunger for "apocalyptic stories" (they can't be talking about Left Behind, can they? Maybe they mean Cougar Town) and bomb shelters as promoted by the Ole Perfesser.

The Get-Ready Man is always with us, but now he has handlers, and they change his wardrobe as times require.

UPDATE: Related: "Is the Left Wing Hoping for Violence?" Or if you prefer, "RELATED: Is the Left-Wing Hoping for Violence?"

UPDATE 2: The Ole Perfesser tells his credulous flock that Iran has plunged us into a new "duck and cover" era. Along with offering the rubes new justification for the shivering panic that is their comfort zone, the Perfesser may believe he is turning The Atomic Cafe to his advantage in a daring culture war raid. This schtick is obviously in its developmental stage, but if he gets any encouragement I expect the Perfesser will next start calling Hillary Clinton Dr. Strangelove, which ought to tickle the many burned-out hippies in the Movement.

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