Thursday, March 13, 2008

WWWtW-Watch #5: First We Burn the Books...

Dedicated to the proposition that it can happen here.

…then we come for the readers.

Yes, just as you may have feared, Fire Marshal Maximos, not content with having burned every book he and his troopers found to be effervescent of liberalism, is now out to get the readers of those books:

For, while we may speak somewhat jestingly of consigning certain works to the flames, what we are doing, if we do so reflectively, is expressing the conviction that there either is, or ought to be, a public orthodoxy, and that it is preferable that this orthodoxy be explicit when necessary.

Maximos proposes a public orthodoxy, because:

No society is obliged to extend its protecting shelter, nor the dignity of "right", to its own subversion, and the means thereof.

Oh, really? What about this?:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it…

Well, there you go: there’s the right to subvert it, no? And the Second Amendment to the Constitution—or so I am told by my local patriot-slash-biker-slash-militia man-slash-yahoo--is there to protect one of the means--should Hustler magazine prove inadequate to the task, that is.

Maximos continues to wax eloquent in defense of thought control, by stating that

the singular and salubrious virtue of actually consigning to the flames some pernicious piece of writing is that of honesty: the declaration that there obtains, if fact, an orthodoxy which we mean to uphold. [How do you mean to uphold it?] That act announces that there shall be no confusion, no ambiguity; certain ideas and the practices they sustain are excluded [How do you plan to exclude them?] as inimical to a way of life.

Does this mean that he’s stopped “jesting”?

Was it not to uphold a public orthodoxy that Torquemada did his funky thing during the Spanish Inquisition? And was it not for the sake of a public orthodoxy that John Calvin consigned Michael Servetus to the flames? To bring things closer to our day and age, what were The Great Purge and the Moscow Show Trials of Joseph Stalin meant to perpetuate, if not a public orthodoxy? Ditto, the Cultural Revolution, and the trial of the Gang of Four, perpetrated by those Maoist Red Guards, so very zealous in the cause of a public orthodoxy. In the good ol’ U.S. of A. we had our own pale version of that in the kangaroo court that tried the Chicago Seven for inciting the police force of the Windy City to riot.

A public orthodoxy, you see, is just a gaudy rhetorical vestment, to be pranced around in by a poseur—unless, of course, he has the both the will and the means to enforce it.