A.J. DiCintio
Thanksgiving exposes the liberal mind
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By A.J. DiCintio
November 27, 2010

How perceptive and prescient was Allan Bloom's 1987 Closing of the American Mind, a book that pulled back the curtain on liberal "intellects" whose minds are so tightly shut they will admit not one ray of light from sources outside the sphere of liberal orthodoxy?

Consider this:

We live in a time when Tea Party members and others who refuse to accept the Credo of the Liberal Church could assert that 1 + 1 = 2 only to be condemned by liberals, in Dave Barry's clever words, as "ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying road-kill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks."

Which brings us to how this year's Thanksgiving season has exposed the perfectly dark nature of the minds Bloom found frighteningly dangerous.

Luckily, Kate Zernike (NYT) provides all the detail necessary as she reports on the debate that has erupted between historians and "Tea Party" Americans who assert the Pilgrims were "early socialists" until they came to their senses and embraced freedom and capitalism.

Now, as Zernike herself admits, no serious person doubts that collectivism initially defined the Plymouth colony.

After all, Mayflower Pilgrim William Bradford, the author of History of Plymouth Plantation and 35 year Plymouth governor, wrote of the colony's collectivism as the "common course" that prevailed from the time the Pilgrims left England until 1623, when, as Bradford put it, "God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them."

The dispute, therefore, centers on the why of the change, which Richard Pickering, one of Zernike's cherry-picked historians, ascribes not to a failure of collectivism but to the dunderheaded non-sequitur that the disparate group of English farmers "spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming."

Ms. Zernike apparently found that analysis so brilliant she felt compelled to repeat its ridiculous essence in the following paraphrase:

"Bradford did get rid of the common course. . . [but] not because the system wasn't working. The Pilgrims just didn't like it."

The only thing to say about that example of embarrassing superficiality is that other liberals will soon put it to good use, arguing that Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Henry, et al. rebelled not because the monarchial system wasn't working but because they "just didn't like it."

Moreover, we can soon expect liberals to be dinning in our ears that had the Patriots decided to continue to bend a knee to George III and the "divine right" monarchs who followed him, an America bereft of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution would have turned out exactly the same as the one that has continually blossomed for the past 234 years.

The foregoing intellectual darkness stuns us; but the next idea in the piece both stuns and sends us reeling, specifically, when Zernike recounts Pickering's theory about why farm production in Plymouth went up after collectivism went down:

"The real reason agriculture became more profitable over the years, Mr. Pickering said, is that the Pilgrims were getting better at farming crops like corn that had been unknown to them in England."

What of the productive power unleashed by individual responsibility and initiative? Not a word from Pickering.

And then there are the profound realties of human nature revealed when Bradford explains the reasons collectivism failed in Plymouth after a little more than two years. Specifically, Bradford mentions —

. . . The able young men who "did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense"

. . . The strong men who thought it an "injustice [they] had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could"

. . . The "aged and graver men" who thought it "some indignity and disrespect unto them to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes etc., with the meaner and younger sort"

. . . The "wives [who were] . . . commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc.," wives who deemed the service demanded of them "a kind of slavery" and their husbands who could not "well brook it."

According to Zarnike, Pickering considers the protestations mere "grumbling" to be expected from a group of diverse settlers.

This dogged insistence that collectivism was working in the colony explains why William Hogeland, another historian cited in the article, reacts to the controversy not by discussing the universal failures of collectivism but by chiding contemporary citizens who, he believes, exaggerate what occurred in Plymouth to advance "a current agenda."

With that contemptible display of Convenient Memory Loss Syndrome, Hogeland behaves in precise accordance with centralized-power loving liberals who just can't seem to recall details of the nineteenth century American utopian experiments, every collectivist one of which failed miserably.

Nor of the side-stitch-laughable (if they weren't so deadly unfunny) top-down, five year plans Mao implemented to improve the lives of the Chinese people.

But this anti-intellectual nonsense needn't darken our spirits; for Thanksgiving 2010 has blessed us with yet another opportunity to understand that Allan Bloom was not just right about the liberal mind but right to this extent:

If a star a thousand times the mass of our sun would explode a foot from a liberal, it would, almost instantaneously, send the person into oblivion more than atomized.

However, in the few nanoseconds before it shreds those atoms into plasma, we can be certain not a single ray of its infinitely powerful light would penetrate the perfectly dark, dogmatic mind standing before it.

© A.J. DiCintio

 

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.

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