1 March, 2007

REED: The National Character

Posted by alex in Fred Reed at 3:01 am | Permanent Link

Weighing the National Character

It’s What the Technology Makes It, Methinks

February 26, 2007

One hears much admiration from politicians of the American “national character,” by which seems to be meant the aggregate of prevailing values of the majority of the population. I gather that Americans tend to regard their national character as comprising such things as freedom, independence, individualism, and self-reliance. One thinks of Daniel Boone or Marlboro Man.

In fact we no longer have these qualities and probably never will again. Generally we now embody their opposites. Modern society has become a hive of largely conformist, closely regulated and generally helpless employees who depend on others for nearly everything. The cause is less anything particularly Americans than the technology that governs our lives. The United States just moves faster in the direction in which the civilized world moves.

Character springs from conditions. Consider a farmer in, say, North Carolina in 1850. He was free because there was little government, self-reliant because what he couldn’t do for himself didn’t get done, independent because, apart from a few tools, he made or grew all he needed, and an individualist because, there being little outside authority, he could do as he pleased.

All of that is gone, and will not return. Freedom has given way to an infinite array of laws, rules, regulations, licenses, forms, requirements. Many make sense, may even be desirable in a complex world, don’t necessarily make for a bad life, but they cannot be called freedom. Various governments determine what our children learn, whether we can paint the shutters, who we must sell our houses to, who we can hire, what we can say if we want to keep our jobs, where we can park, and whether and how we can build an outbuilding.

People who live infinitely controlled lives become accustomed to such control. Obedience becomes natural. And so it has.

Although we speak of democracy, in fact we have little influence over the circumstances of our lives. All matters of importance—what values our children are taught, for example–are determined by remote bodies over which we have no power. When jurisdictions are large, the effort needed to change things that powerful lobbies do not want changed is prohibitive. And of course we vote for candidates, not for policies. Once elected, they do as they please.

Individualism has withered under the pressure of the mass media and a distaste for eccentricity. Self-reliance died long ago. We depend on others to repair our cars, grow our food, fix the refrigerator, and write our operating systems. The habit of reliance on others has reached the point that even the right of self-defense has come to be regarded as wrong-minded.

The gain is that these things are usually done better than we could do them ourselves. The loss is that we are utterly dependent on others. As things become more technologically complex, the reliance on specialists grows. Almost anyone could learn to repair a flathead Ford, but today’s Corolla is vulnerable only to a trained technician. Of course it’s a better car.

Most poignantly, we are become a nation of employees, fearful of losing our jobs. Prisoners of the retirement system, afraid of transgressing against the various governing bodies before whom we are helpless, unable to feed ourselves, we are at least comfortable. We are not masters of our lives.

Dense populations and the complexity of machines and institutions lead inevitably to regulation, which leads to acceptance of regulation and therefore of authority, which becomes part of the national character. This we see. In my lifetime the change has been great. In rural Virginia in the Sixties, you could walk down the road with your rifle to shoot beer cans, swim in the creeks without supervision and life guards and “flotation devices” approved by the Coast Guard, and generally be left alone. Now, no. Regimentation has grown like kudzu. We obey. The new generation knows nothing else..

At the moment we see a great increase in regulation in the guise of preventing terrorism. Other pretexts could have been found and, I suspect, would have been: fighting crime or the war on drugs or something. The result might have been a drift rather than a headlong rush toward control. But sooner or later, technology determines politics. The computer, not the Constitution, is primary.

I suspect that the concern about terrorism is just a particular manifestation of a growing obsession with safety. Not too long ago, Americans were a hardy breed—foolhardy at times, but the one comes with the other. Now we see attempts to eliminate all risk everywhere. Cities fill in the deep ends of swimming pools and remove diving boards. We require that bicyclists wear helmets, fear second-hand smoke and the violence that is dodge ball. Warnings abound against going outside without sun block. To anyone who grew up in the Sixties or before, the new fearfulness is incomprehensible.

The explanation I think is the feminization of society, which seems to be inseparable from modernity. The nature of masculinity is to prize freedom over security; of femininity, security over freedom. Add that the American character of today powerfully favors regulation by the group in prefe4rence to individual choice. Note that we do not require that cars be equipped with seat belts and then let individuals decide whether to use them; we enforce their use. The result is compulsory Mommyism, very much a part of today’s America.

Does technological civilization inevitably lead to totalitarianism? Certainly the general fear, in combination with technology, makes a sort of soft Stalinism easy. Just now we move toward national ID cards, smuggled in by linking records of drivers’ licenses. Passports, scanned and linked to data bases, provide a record of our travels. Security cameras proliferate. Some of them read the license plates of all passing cars. Email can be monitored, phones easily and undetectably tapped. Now the government is experimenting with X-ray scanners for airports that provide near-pornographic images of passengers. Whether these will be used for dictatorial ends remains to be seen. Historians may one day note that surveillance, when possible, is inevitable.

What then is the national character today? I think we are first an obedient people. We submit. We are comfortable with authority, and seem to be most comfortable when we are told what to do. We prize security, safety, and predictability. Increasingly we accept being treated like convicts at airports and elsewhere. We want to be taken care of. We can do few things for ourselves. We expect government to decide much that was once regarded as outside of government’s ambit. And we are to the marrow of our bones incapable of rising against the creeping tyranny. So much for Marlboro Man.


  • 5 Responses to “REED: The National Character”

    1. alex Says:

      More, same theme:

      Theater of the Absurd, by the Absurd, for…

      Ionesco as Political Consultant

      February 16, 2007

      Every time I go to the United States (I have just returned from two weeks in Washington), I am astonished by the antic security, by the proliferation of admonitions and alarms and inchoate fear. Now it is illegal to carry toothpaste on airplanes. I find myself wondering: Is this just another spasm of periodic hysteria, like Prohibition, the Sixties, and a Commie Under Every Bed? Or is it calculated political programming?

      Most of it impinges at best lightly upon reality. For example, measures for security at airports are largely useless—if their purpose is to increase security. Think about it. Time and again the public-address system warns that vehicles left unattended in passenger-loading zones “may be ticketed and towed.” Why? By the time anyone notices that the truck is unattended, by definition the driver will be somewhere else. He will certainly be able to walk a hundred yards before the tow-truck arrives—and push the button. Boom. In the case of a suicide bomber (which is what we are worried about, no?) it doesn’t matter anyway. Boom.

      For that matter, at any airport you can drive up, load a hundred pounds of suitcases containing god knows what onto a baggage cart, and go into a crowded waiting area. Boom. You probably couldn’t get them onto an airplane. Why would you need to? Terroristically, killing two hundred people in the airport is as good as dropping an airliner.

      Most of security is just theater. Over and over, the PA system tells you not to leave baggage unattended or it may be destroyed by security personnel. This doubtless serves to make legitimate passengers watch their luggage. Who cares? A suitcase full of bras and socks isn’t perilous. But none of this keeps a terrorist from leaving a baggage cart and walking for two minutes, far enough to be outside the blast radius.

      No, I’m not giving ideas to terrorists. Everything in this column is obvious to anyone with a three-digit IQ.

      It gets sillier. If you ride Metro, Washington’s subway, you will incessantly hear things like, “Passengers! Look up from your papers occasionally. Be alert! Report any suspicious behavior to Metro employees.”

      Yeah, sure. As a security measure, this is worthless. Why? First, a terrorist would be careful not to look suspicious. Second, what is suspicious behavior on an urban subway? You’ve got rastas, Goths, spike-haired young in leathers, semi-derelicts, blacks from the slums, people from India, Guatemala, Morocco, drunks, stoners, people talking to Mars through the transmitters the CIA put in their teeth, and swarthy men speaking languages you can’t identify. What’s suspicious?

      So how do report any of this? You could get off the train at the next stop, go up the escalators, and find the Metro kiosk by the exit gates. You find a bored guy inside waiting for his shift to end.

      “Hey, I saw this suspicious guy on the train!” you say.

      “Yeah? What was he doing?”

      “He had a backpack, and he was looking around a lot like he was nervous, and I think he was sweating.”

      Oh. By now the train you were riding has left. The attendant has two choices. He can call in an emergency, have the train halted at the next stop, tie up the whole system at rush hour, and have police search the train, for a guy who looks like he might be sweating. Now, that’s a career-enhancing move. Or he can brush you off. Real world: Which?

      Have you ever been on an urban subway at rush hour—which of course is when a terrorist would strike? They are madhouses. People are packed so tight they can hardly move. Everybody is thinking, “Come on, come on, get this damned thing moving.” Suppose you are aboard, and you see what appears to be a forgotten briefcase. What do you do?

      The train is now sailing through the tunnel between Rosslyn Station and the Pentagon. Nobody can move an inch. You could scream, “Bomb!” However, the odds are much better than 999 to 1 that it isn’t. Years have passed since 9/11, with no terrorism on Metro. People leave things on trains all the time. Let’s say that you do scream. Chaos results, people very possibly are crushed to death in the panic, and someone pulls the Emergency Stop handle. You have just shut down Metro in rush hour. Further, you are in mid-tunnel. Oh good. The briefcase turns out to contain two sandwiches and a report from Agriculture on locust infestations in Chad. You probably go to jail.

      And of course a terrorist would leave the briefcase on a timer to give himself a few minutes to leave Rosslyn Station and be walking innocently up Wilson Boulevard when the thing went off. Say, five minutes. Real world: What are the chances that anyone will notice the briefcase, take it seriously, and clear the train, in five minutes? Zero.

      It’s theater. If people actually reported strange behavior however defined, or if Metro cleared trains for forgotten briefcases until the bomb squad arrived, trains would never run.

      Are security measures going to keep terrorists out of the US? I just finished reading De Los Maras a Los Zetas, by a Mexican crime reporter. (I don’t think it is available in English.) He talks mostly about the drug trade, but mentions the smuggling of illegal immigrants. In particular he tells of a tunnel going under the border (estimating that at any one time about forty such tunnels are active) through which, he says, about 150 illegals a day passed. All it takes is $2000 or so any you are in the US. There is no border security, boys and girls. Not against anyone serious. There really isn’t.

      Now, yes, we may well see more terrorist attacks on the United States. We certainly ask for them. Or they may be prevented by other means. But dramatic announcements on the subway are going to prevent nothing. Nor are color-coded terror alerts that you hear every five minutes in airports. What does anyone do differently when the level is orange instead of green? Cancel reservations? Wear body armor?

      On examination, most of the measures purportedly taken to stifle Terror don’t. Opening mail without a warrant? It’s pointless once the terrorists know you are doing it, but effective in intimidating honest citizens. The same is true of warrantless wiretaps and searches. Does the gutting of habeas corpus make us safer against terrorists? Or merely suppress dissent by citizens?

      The whole business looks remarkably like malign vaudeville, like mummery intended to accomplish two things. The first is to persuade the foolish that the nation is At War. Actually only the president is at war. The second, and I would like to be wrong about this, is to train the public to obedience. The formula is simple: Keep’em scared and you can do anything. It works. Americans are rapidly becoming accustomed to Soviet-style surveillance, to the state’s power to search and spy without restraint, to being barked at and ordered about by low-level federal employees. People deserve what they tolerate.

    2. jimbo Says:

      “Does technological civilisation inevitably lead to totalitarianism? Certainly the general fear, in combination with technology, makes a sort of soft Stalinism easy…”

      he almost said it: no! ‘technology’ does NOT lead to ‘totalitarianism’…….JEWs lead to ‘totalitarianism’

      a plethora of ‘laws’ (pointless or OTW!), centralisation of guv’mint, TOO MUCH guv’mint, a population explosion of cops, security guards & bureaucrats, a climate of fear, surveillance & intimidation, the abolition of once-accepted rights & freedoms & the threat of vague & insubstantial ‘charges’ like ‘indirectly assisting terrorism’ or ‘possessing some item or thing likely to assist a terrorist act’ &c are all ‘old hat’……the same hoary old yarmulke……Solzyhenitsen saw it decades ago…..it’s the same crew @ work ALL OVER AGAIN with the same genocidal agenda…..it’s just that they’ve changed the labels slightly!…..for ‘counter-revolutionary’ and ‘thought criminal’ substitue ‘terrorist’!

    3. Nordic Jew Smasher Says:

      Why give ol’ homey Fred Reed any space on your site, seeing how he swears up & down that Jews have nothing to do with this societal despoilation?

      He’s just Jared Taylor with cowshit on his jeans. (Speaking of Taylor… Off the top of my head, I can think of four “Jareds”. All of them are Jews. Naaaaahh, can’t be.)

      All in all, there’s no news in Reed’s Jaredmiad.

      Keep on dilettantin’, VNN. You guys are the meanest, two-fisted SOB’s in the Judeo-Starbucks.

    4. Gerald E. Morris Says:

      Typical Reed masonic-kahnservative hand-wringing hypocrite horseshit. Amerikwans NEVER have been anything but the same mob of chickenshit kosher conformist cocksuckers they are now. Think not? Read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America:

      “In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-de-fe‚, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. …

      If America has not as yet had any great writers, the reason is given in these facts; there can be no literary genius without freedom of opinion, and freedom of opinion does not exist in America.” C-15

      Amerikwans always were what they are now, brainless, spineless, gutless and nutless. Appropos of the latter, Reed whines about “feminization” as if this too is some new trend which his terbacky chawin’ WASP kike-sucker ancestors would have had nothing to do with. BULLSHIT!

      Here too, the reality is that masonic Amerikwa ALWAYS has exalted cuntz over men, for the express purpose of promoting materialism, enfeebling opposition to the jew regime and creating by proxy a police auxillary consisting of just over half the populace, the foul sex if you will. For a good read on masonic cuntification of the cuntree, read “Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America” by Mark Karnes. Karnes details how fatherless little masonic-mommie’s-morons grew up in household where the father was absent due to his long struggle to get the jew dollar, how these households produced just the kinds of pervert masons recruit into their ugly little gangs or “lodges” and how this pussification was and remains a fundamental policy of freemasonry to produce the kinds of feebs Amerikwans were and are. Further documentation on this theme comes from Dan Brown, author of that dreadful “Da Vinci Code” about the even more poisonous “Priory of Zion” which modern freemasonry is but a branch of.

      True to his jew paymasters, Reed then obfuscates the truth further by invocation of “Demon Technology.” Jews regularly use some sort of inert, material thing as a red herring and scapegoat for their own very deliberate machinations. Thus the modern amerikwan-worm quivers in terror of guns, tobacco, “Big Oil,” “market forces” etc… to wit, ANYTHING BUT ACTUAL JEWISH POLICIES!

      Really Alex, you shouldn’t waste valuable hard drive space advertising for Freddy Reed. We can read Reed and others of his ilk anywhere. If one needs examples of bad jew-masonic propaganda, maybe Reed will serve, but we can point out his literary vices without actually giving him much space.

    5. Bobby Says:

      Freddy boy has been completely exposed for the idiot and phony he is, cigar, beret and everything else. Do us all a favor Fred, stay in Mexico. We have enough traitors right here in the good old U.S.of A. Have a nice life.