Working in Texas, in the panhandle, there are few bookstores. There are convenience stores aplenty, some fast food joints, a number of BBQ spots along US 287 and oil, of course. Bookstores? Not many, but I did find a rather storied one in Archer City.
Wandering the almost overwhelming inventory sent my mind in many different directions. I love history, political theory, the literary masters, etc. This bookstore has the greatest selection of rare and valuable books I have ever seen, if a bit haphazard in their stock due to the fact that they are all used books.
Anyone who loves books, especially used books, understands that there is a mystical sort of "voice in the wilderness" quality to searching for a book in a used bookstore. It is not so much that you go looking for it, as you wait to be inexorably drawn to it. I was wandering such a bookstore once and there on the shelf, for the most ungodly of reasons, was a geophysical log interpretation manual that I just had to have.
This is how I came upon Pontynen and Miller's "Western Culture at the Crossroads."
The book attempts to explain in a scholarly way the issues many of us have been writing about for years, a thing Mike Vanderboegh said in Lies of Omission, that we are a nation not "divided" so much as diametrically opposed to each other. While nothing, so far, has been revealed in the book that is not already known (it was published in 2011) it attempts to go further back with the explanation for what we are currently witnessing on a large and vivid scale.
The point was made, at least argued, that the Western culture and especially American culture is at a crossroads, the origin of each intersecting road going back to before the Enlightenment. What we see now as a liberal/conservative or a republican/communist conflict is actually a conflict between modernist and postmodernist point of view versus a Judeo-Christian culture.
While I am not sure that I will ultimately buy into the concept that the Judeo-Christian culture seeks beauty, truth and love, I am not finished reading the book and will reserve judgment until then. The authors did do a great job of explaining the opposite side of the coin and one passage sticks out immediately.
(Speaking of the left and by this I mean Republicans, too, because there is no longer and may never have been a true difference between Republicans and Democrats. What Pontynen and Miller describe could be any politician and it is the whole of the body politic in America that subscribes to the modernist-postmodernist point of view.)
The passage is this: "They rationalize power, envy and greed in the name of virtue, or claim it (virtue) is beyond rational discursive evaluation."
Immediately I understood Hillary Clinton a thousand times better than I ever had. I had always thought she was evil, that she knew she was evil, that she reveled in the fact of her evil and when her plans came to fruition delighted in her evil. What I had never considered was that she thought of her evil as a virtue.
What I had not considered is that the left rejects objective truth as a means of rejecting morality and attacking those seeking truth through the Judeo-Christian culture or scripture. That they see the pursuit and ultimate achievement of power instead of truth as worthy of a purpose as the attainment of peace or the fulfillment of understanding.
Yes, I understood this before in a vague sort of way, but the book brought it into sharp focus and helped me to understand that the real battle lines had been drawn long, long ago.
Everyone I have ever talked to on our side of the equation has sought mostly to be left alone to seek beauty, understanding and truth, while everyone I have encountered on the opposite side of the equation has sought power for power's sake. Since I understand that someone might want power to do nefarious things, mostly evil, I chalked it up as evil. I had not considered that they saw the attainment of power as a virtue in the way I see honesty as a virtue.
To them, as the quote makes clear, whatever drives them to the attainment of power, be it greed, envy, lust or sociopathic disassociation, is a de facto virtue. Hollywood suddenly makes a lot more sense when viewed in that context.
I don't know how better to illustrate the real conflict gathering strength in this nation or how better to explain the utter uselessness of continued hope in some peaceful resolution. When the body politic is convinced that their tendencies toward theft, surveillance, oppression, suppression, violence and enslavement of the people are actually virtues to be nurtured because they have brought power to them, what more needs to be said?