- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2007

Real corruption

“There is indeed a culture of corruption, and it extends well beyond any single politician. It swirls around big government. It always has, and it always will. It has become institutionalized in many ways.

“And that culture of corruption celebrates clever word games used by unelected judges to exercise power they don’t have as they rewrite the Constitution; it demeans people of faith who speak out against the culture of corruption and for — dare I say — family values; it undermines and seeks to demoralize Americans in uniform as they fight a horrible enemy on the battlefield; it demonizes entrepreneurs and successful enterprises; it uses race, age, religion, gender and whatever works to Balkanize Americans; and so on.

“This is the real culture of corruption. Let’s call it what it is — modern liberalism. And its impact on our society is far worse than the disorderly conduct misdemeanor to which Larry Craig pled guilty and for which he has now resigned.”

Mark R. Levin, writing on “Culture of Corruption,” on Sunday at NationalReview.com

Rhetorical gas

I have mentioned before Clive James’ book of mini-essays on intellectuals of the last hundred years, Cultural Amnesia. He really does not like Jean-Paul Sartre, who was lionized by so many for so long. James blames Sartre’s prewar period in Berlin, and especially the influence of Heidegger.

“ ’In Sartre’s style of argument, German metaphysics met French sophistry in a kind of European Coal and Steel Community producing nothing but rhetorical gas.’ But wait, he is just warming up. ‘[Sartre] might have known that he was debarred by nature from telling the truth for long about anything that mattered, because telling the truth was something that ordinary men did, and his urge to be extraordinary was, for him, more of a motive force than merely to see the world as it was.’ …

“ ’Working by a sure instinct for bogus language, a non-philosopher like George Orwell could call Sartre’s political writings a heap of beans, but there were few professional thinkers anywhere who found it advisable to dismiss Sartre’s air of intelligence: There was too great a risk of being called unintelligent themselves.’ ”

Richard John Neuhaus, writing on the Public Square blog at First Things

Kulturkampf over

“What the sociologist [Phillip] Rieff (who was not a Christian) is saying is that classical Christian culture was built around a creative renunciation of the sexual urge. It did not crudely suppress it, but only channeled it and regulated it toward culturally useful ends.

“But (to oversimplify) the great Freudian revolution in consciousness overturned this cultural regime and replaced it with a “therapeutic” model in which fulfilling the individual and his desires was highest goal of Western culture. This inevitably disintegrates culture because there are no binding remissions commanded by shared authority.

“As Rieff presciently recognized … the spokesmen for the old Christian cultural order have little credibility; most of their flock have been deconverted by the culture. Forty years after his prophetic book [‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic’], I think Rieff is wrong about one thing … the best of the Christian thinkers are no longer trying to negotiate terms with the therapeutic overculture. That culture war has been lost.”

Rod Dreher, writing on “Purity and Passion” at Beliefnet’s “Crunchy Con” blog.

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