08 December, 2007

Lefty Activists: Effective as Paper Condoms

We can talk, but money talks [ergo]:

Let’s talk mo’ bucks.

-Sean Carter, popular poet.

The tiresome pansy who just usurped John Howard’s place as prime minister of Australia made two immediate promises: come hell or high water he will offer an official apology to the aborigines and go to the current global warming powwow in Bali. Is this not a quintessential liberal checklist?: 1) Beat chest over collective guilt; 2)Attend international meeting.

Like their Australian cousins, American liberals love impotent collective gestures and endless consultation over ‘crises’, while conservatives (or ‘Americans’, as they used to be called) celebrate and encourage the power of the heroic individual to take matters into his own hands and, by his personal industry and skillful mobilization of social capital, get the money and influence it takes to reshape the world.

Here at Princeton we have a great monument to individual power in the form of Lake Carnegie. My father’s dear friends, the Butler brothers ([18]’86) saw that the young men of Princeton lacked for adequate rowing facilities through which they could exercise the manly, Western vigor that stands in such stark contrast to fatalistic Oriental passivity. Themselves lacking the means to rectify this, they made a personal appeal to the Great Scot. He accepted, and at his sovereign command, like that of Neptune, the mighty Millstone River and stormy Stony Brook were tamed, their joint forces harnessed to create that majestic body of water we all know, love and jog around.

You could hardly ask for a clearer instance of Man fulfilling the divine commission to “fill the earth” (Gn. 1:28). It is such a manifestly beautiful thing that I was shocked to hear that an old classmate, whom I am accustomed to think of as a very sound man despite his Southern provenance and unseemly enthusiasm for the personality, politics and hairdo of the late President Jackson, has recently been peppering his famous monologues at the Thumpwaite Club with hostile remarks directed at the Lake.

This gentleman (whom I will decline to name, out of consideration for touchy Scoffpossum family pride) has apparently gone a little mad. He decries the lake as an instance of ‘plutocracy run amok’ and a sign of indifference to the ‘imperatives of civilization and cultivation’ whatever the hell that might mean. Worse, with demented earnestness, he claims that Carnegie, glutted with the pride that built Babel, had resolved to defy God by creating a second Flood to purge Princeton and environs of all those lazy American aristocrats who had metaphorically ‘sinned’ against the precepts of the Pilgrims…which precepts he believed were given an appropriately modern, scientific incarnation in his own atheistic-humanistic-capitalistic ethic. Because it is both an abomination in fact and tainted in principle by Carnegie’s Promethean intentions (says my friend) the Borough should have it drained and filled in.

The second claim deserves no response, and to the first my response is: ‘Bah! Tommyrot!’ Far from being a sign of ‘plutocracy run amok’, the Great Lake merely gives more support to my own position that only ‘plutocrats’ should be able to vote and legislate. They have the grand new visions for our country, and we would do well to hand the country to them and step out of the way. They already have the power to move men without coercion, so the least we as a society can do is give them the ability to remove tedious legal roadblocks to their goals.

On the off chance that he still has meaningful use of his reason, I offer my anonymous, mad old friend this advice: If you don’t like the Lake, don’t try to direct collective action like some goddamn environmentalist. Put your nose to the plough and your shoulder to the grindstone and make enough money to buy it off the University so you can do what you want with it. I know your beloved Oscar Wilde would be contemptuous of a life spent in search of business success, but my understanding is that Wilde was a sodomite.

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