the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world













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A rightist myth

Jeane Kirkpatrick may be a perfectly decent and intelligent person, but her career as an ambassador to the United Nations and a conservative thinker has been based on a single, egregiously bad idea. During the Reagan administration, she was the right wing apologist du jour for all of the atrocities committed by the United States and its allies during the cold war. She actually took responsibility for believing that the military, fascist, ultranationalist, dictatorial régimes favored by the west in developing countries as proxies against the Советский Союз and its proxies had a redeeming feature. She rationalized a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships. The former, which were typical strongman states, little empires with little Hitlers, could, she asserted, evolve into democracies, while the latter, Русские puppets with sham command economies, could not. Thus, by implication, we were not merely winning the cold war by installing and propping up brutal, murderous tyrannies; we were doing the countries themselves an enormous favor. We couldn’t give these countries democracies of their own (democracies would not have been at all amenable to our geopolitical strategy, and besides, these peoples just weren’t advanced enough, poor darkies), but we could give them a powerful state that, after slaughtering dissidents and looting the entire wealth of the country for the personal enrichment and aggrandizement of the ruling élite, would, on the solemn assurance of Jeane Kirkpatrick and the world’s greatest nation, eventually evolve into a democracy. All it would take was patience, blood, and every single item of value that could be had. What we are talking about is delayed gratification ― in this case, a form of indentured servitude. Give up freedom for a time, and eventually acquire the freedom to behave as an advanced democracy. Which means, following the Yankee model, that it is not necessary to have any resources. It is much easier to squander the resources of the rest of the world.


The assassination of Jack Kennedy last made news with the release on videotape of the Zapruder film, capturing the moment of the actual shooting. The release was greeted with dismay by the scholarly community, who believe that common folk just aren’t qualified to view such material with the appropriate seriousness and solemnity. The citizens don’t need to see it anyway; the priests in academia and the titans in government have had access to it all these years, and surely they would tell us if it contained anything of interest. It is a delight to have such beneficent intellects looking after us. This is reminiscent of the elitist territorialism applied to the Dead Sea Scrolls. But at least those really are beyond the decipherment of ordinary folk. This is a movie, for heaven’s sake.

The events of Kennedy’s murder, and its handling by the government, are disturbing in a supposedly-open society. There was a cover-up; that is apparent. It included not merely the concealment of facts, but disinformation. In such an atmosphere, speculation fills the vacuum, and it is now virtually impossible to discern fact from fiction. We are left to do logic and plausibility studies.

What emerges, with some confidence, is that there was a conspiracy. Oswald was connected to this conspiracy, but not himself one of the assassins, and framed as the lone sniper. His own murder by Jack Ruby was to ensure his silence. The mafia and exile cubanos were central to the conspiracy before the assassination; but there was also involvement by elements within the US government. These same elements were at the heart of a different conspiracy to conceal the truth, and succeeded by persuading misguided patriots in federal, state, and local government that the confidence of the people in the government and the national idea was more important than candor or even honesty. This was the essence of the national-security argument, the same nonsense that has kept the misdeeds of government officials from the knowledge of the electorate since the beginning.

We are speaking of the dominion, obviously. The dominion is not a global conspiracy, it must be restated. It is simply the theory and practice among some individuals that they have a divine entitlement to order the world as they choose, for their own benefit. It has always relied on the complicity and foolishness of ordinary individuals, who either believe the claim, or support it in hopes of personal gain. The dominion is everywhere, and constantly active. Those who are currently involved in keeping the truth of the Kennedy assassination from the public are perpetuating the control of the dominion, witting or not.

Robin Hood

The enduring popularity of the legend of Robin Hood is a charming mystery. I can only guess that it is entirely connected to the romantic ideal of a bold band of warriors living by their wits in defiance of a tyranny. If it had anything to do with the outlaw nature of the Merry Men, I would expect to see more of this sentiment in the general culture. That culture, both in Robin Hood’s native England and also in the Anglican land most familiar to me, villifies criminals, despises thieves, glorifies and sanctifies law enforcement and the established order, and has no patience for the redistribution of wealth. Come to that, it may romanticize survivalism, but does not pursue it. How then can a forest bandit who robs the rich to feed the poor be so loved and celebrated? Is the scent of hypocrisy undetectable to this outlaw’s mass admirers?

Actually, the Sherwood mythology must be useful to the would-be Saxons who have begun appearing in Yankeeland. They see Robin Hood as a tax protester. They want to withdraw to the woods of Montana and wait for good King Richard the Lionhearted to return and set things right. As with the Robin Hood myth, they are not complaining about the office of the king, merely its occupant. Unlike Robin, they have no sympathy for the poor or oppressed, except insofar as they ridiculously consider themselves oppressed. But it is always pleasurable for boys to pretend to be rebels. The difficult part, intellectually, is casting themselves as rebels, when in fact they are reactionaries. They dislike change so very much that they would undo changes that have already taken place. They are fighting to restore a tyranny that they do not recognize as such because they were raised in its religion. This is how they can hate the federal government and worship the mythic nation that would have no existence but for the same federal government.

For myself, there is the attraction of a survivalist warrior defying tyranny, and the added attraction that his primary service is economic justice, the redistribution of wealth. But my primary interest in the Sherwood Forest legend is as a representation of the polar dichotomy. The Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood on their scale, and John and Richard on theirs, are notable manifestations of the great dualist story which I believe had its origins in the conflict between dominion and stewardship. What are John and Nottingham, if not tyrants? Indeed, John is explicitly a usurper, and thus matches the model even more closely. So our hero and his fellowship are, among other things, resisting the assertion that loyalty is owed to anyone who lays claim to the throne. And this is the dominion’s great hope, that the masses will foolishly believe this assertion, that they will bow to the established order simply because it was established.



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