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20 February 2018


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One trouble is that the objects worthy of "admiration" have become too banal, in multiple senses.

In order for something or someone to command universal respect, some universal standard of what is meritorious and worthwhile needs to exist. Do we still have such things? It has become fashionable to drag down potential objects of admiration for reasons of "political correctness" appealing to one side or another: they might be too "woke," "too racist," "too multicultural," "too white," and so forth. Rather unifying symbols, they become divisive tribal totems. And the sad truth is that the reasons that they get taken down for tend to be all too "right" in one sense or another, and these flaws are exposed and disseminated at internet speed today.

It's a vicious cycle. The old saying holds that Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. But no one is above suspcion now--so there cannot be a Caesar's wife, or even old fashioned Caesar (I think it was a given that Caesar himself had to be above suspicion). Modern day Caesars might as well revel in what places him or her in grave suspicion to many, since they cannot be avoided and doing so earns plaudits from many others yet. So Trump does and says Trump things. Liberal activists do and say woke things. Yes, they are divisive and invite hostility--but the center cannot hold anyways and one might as well try and appeal to those whom they can. But, once they take the path towards embracing rather that avoiding that which places them in suspicion, it becomes increasingly harder for those on the opposite side, even those who try to avoid too harsh a judgment, to "bless and save and strengthen" rather than condemn.


Exceptional Richard, heart warming, reassuring that after all, some of us are still with such intellect and a great big heart. God Bless. One last word, I agree with your thoughts in full, and I would have hugged and kissed both mother and daughter at the hospital... Warmest wishes to you and yours.

A Pols

A very nice and relevant essay. Thanks for the enunciation.
Many people in our society seem to have trouble finding a way to place themselves as counting for anything, as having meaning to their lives and relevance in the eyes of their fellows. And so they take solace in the destruction of others. It's the Holden Caulfield syndrome writ large.
Maybe it's time to bring back the "Field of Honor". (Mostly sorta kinda kidding).
In Charlottesville, people such as you describe have taken control of City Council and now City Council meetings are filled with smug pomposity from callow councilors and the the howling of jackals in the audience.


I think the anonymity available via internet has removed all consequence from dialog, particularly social but also the physical. When I was young, tossing out things like "drop dead" and many other colorful epithets resulted in direct, physical consequence. Today, one can insult, provoke, lie and adulterate as much as one wishes - without consequence - via internet or messaging. When this happens, both sides achieve no satisfaction.

Young mothers are taught that the only consequence for bad behavior should be "time out", which most have neither the time nor energy to enforce. The result of this are children that have no boundaries established regarding much of anything. Schools have boundaries, but in the wrong direction. Everything is about being "safe", yet the boundaries have been washed from society along with consequence.

The concatenation of many such things has produced what we have today, and it does not work.

Ironic that in the age of people crying about 'bullying', it has become the defacto standard of behavior among politicians, generals, teachers and much of what passes for society. "War is negotiation by other means' as a meaningful concept is only understood by those who have met with consequence for their speech and actions.

I am 110% behind bringing back consequences. Dueling sounds really good to me - and was considered quite polite and politic not so many generations gone. It would make for a 50% improvement, as in dueling, one side always gets satisfaction.

Eric Newhill

I agree with what you say. "Diversity" is not our strength. Rather, it is a cancer engineered in social science labs, that has brought us to the juncture that Richard bemoans.

No can agree on standards of intellect, behavior and character - or role models - because everyone is coming from different cultural perspective and, worse, all the different cultures have become set against each other. To accept a standard not developed by one's in-group is to accept the "domination" of the out-group. Of course it is accepted that all cultures and groups are equal in what they have to offer the larger society. This is classic Marxist thinking.

So people spout off with abandon and they attack those who disagree. The spouting off is usually in-group mantras and the targets of attacks are, usually, out-group members who have different, conflicting, mantras.

Identity politics combined with a broader range of recognized identities (i.e. diversity) was brought to us, quite deliberately, by our old enemies, the leftists in their war to destroy the country. It is working.

richard sale

I was chained to a tube or I would have.


richard sale

Thank you. Your comment moved me deeply.



Many children grow up alone with a TV or internet game for companionship. Two generations ago, maybe three, people were raised by families. Grandparents who would slap the little monster (child) and bring it into conformity. Now, non conformity is encouraged. Is this the disintegration of Western Civilization where the individual has become so powerful it can destroy the community? Your essay causes much thought. Thanks ann

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

You asked:

"why not let our hearts go out to bless and save and strengthen rather than condemn. Is that so improbable".

The reason, per the Din Behi, is as follows:

We are in the state of Cosmic War and war hardens the soldiers fighting it.

A few, like Owen and Sassoon, out of the loyalty and love for the men they commanded, went back to the war - as did Buddha and Jesus.

Most would wish to escape it.

Jony Kanuck

A fine & needed column!
A quibble though; I don't think democracy is the problem. The problem is fake democracy. When we go to the polls, we get a choice between tweedledee & tweedledumber. If we just look around the anglo countries, where is there a respectable leader running a tight ship? Here in Canada we have a national leader whose claims to fame are that he photos well, he's a good political dogfighter & he's not Stephan Harper (defeated neocon). His administration is purely neoliberal; transferring the wealth (sic) of the middle class to the rich, jonesing for a war with Russia through NATO.
Oh by the way, I ate your lunch!


God Bless You Richard. So very well written. Hey on another note, "Good Breeding"? I am a mutt in the truest sense. Can you expand on your conception of "Good Breeding"? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with the committee of correspondence.

David E. Solomon

No poisoned arrows for you Richard. As usual you have another great piece. Thanks for taking the time to write it and post it.

Also, you are correct about the Good Colonel's website. This is the only blog on the web that I read daily.

Thanks to you both.



Karl Kolchak

Mass equality isn't so much the problem--it's more the infantilization of a society, most of whose members have the emotional IQ of 6-year-olds and are utterly unsuited to handle that equality. Indeed, the problem is rapidly getting worse. America as a nation-state was still in its relative infancy in the 1950s when we began to introduce attention span-destroying screens in the form of television, and in the Internet and idiotphone age the already corrosive effect of the screens on critical thinking is galloping out of control. In a way, the teevee and fast food addicted Trump is the perfect "leader" for our modern idiocracy as he has even managed to pull the liberals, who always considered themselves superior, down to his level.

This won't end well.

Dr. K.

Seems like you have some anger issues.


Ann, I believe that the disintegration of Western Civilisation you query flows from the degeneracy of our civilisation. Not long ago there were commonly accepted moral standards, and perhaps the majority of us were raised to believe in and follow them, at the very least aspirationally, if not always in practice. This flowed from the Christian faith and culture from which our civilisation proceeded.

As I look around me in my country, Ireland, I see the same thing. My children, now mature adults, seem to have difficulty in finding peers who have similar values, and if they express their views on many topical issues, they are mocked and derided by their peers. It is as if as a country we have surrendered to the tide of so called liberal values which deride everything that made our culture, our history, and our unique perspective formed by that historical experience.

Our history since independence is constantly criticised and condemned fanatically. And in fairness, there is much to criticise in that history. However, there is no recognition of the many wonderful and very human traits which our parents and grandparents cleaved to, in very different and difficult times, passed on to us. Little recognition too of the many social achievements for such a poor, underdeveloped country in the early years of our state.

The irony is that the contemporary values are promoted with the same self-righteousness and unforgiving nature as the Catholic Church was sometimes rightly, accused of. I was raised Catholic, tho' I haven't practised since I was about 12 years of age, tending to see the church as like any human institution, with feet of clay and often inappropriate symbolism, ritual and imagery. Nevertheless, I was always attracted to the message of Jesus Christ, and that is the vision I try to be faithful to.

Another irony is that today in Ireland, we have the best "educated", most prosperous generation in Irish history. And yet, something I remarked on as a teenager, the old post-colonial slave mentality that was not uncommon at that time, and which I thought was long largely extinct, is now obviously back in full force. As evidence, the Constitutional referendum we had here three years ago re gay marriage seemed to me to be driven in considerable part by the need to be seen by other countries, particularly the EU and Anglo ones, as modern and liberal. This was clearly the case in the aftermath of the referendum, when people were congratulating our country for being "modern" and up there with the best. Ireland's leading newspaper even expressed great satisfaction that we were the first country in the world to permit gay marriage via a constitutional referendum. And now it seems we are to vote on unlimited abortion up to twelve weeks in early summer. I don't doubt that it will pass, and we can have another self-congratulatory fest about how we are as good as our betters. I expect there is a variety of views on this committee re abortion, and I respect that. In my mind however, when we decide that some lives have less value than the convenience of others, we are indeed on a slippery slope. I don't know what the figures are for the numbers of abortions in Europe and the US over the last fifty years, but I have no doubt it constitutes a very considerable holocaust.

I apologise for the length of this rant, but I think that the degradation of interpersonal exchanges Richard bemoans relates to our discarding of moral values to be replaced by moral relativism. We have created societies where the greatest values are materialism and consumerism. I shop, therefore I am. In the process, we have created generations of narcissists.


I love anarchy.
Surfed at dawn this morning - no referees, no scorecards.
Everybody had a good time - no threats, no violence.
Lots of smiles, lots of brotherly/sisterly love.
Works for me!


Thank you Mr.Sale.
This essay is so true it makes me sad for our society.
Despite the wonderful tool the net is it can't replace the need to be with people and see their faces and know about their lives when talking with them.

The Twisted Genius


That was like a cool drink of spring water after a long road march. Thank you for this. This is why I like spending my time paddling/sailing around the local waterways and puttering around in my workshop (actually just my garage).

I guess all us old timers are convinced things were a lot better when we were younger. Although I had a black lady legal clerk about my age who grew up in South Carolina in my company HQ. She convinced me things weren't better for some people. But things were better where I grew up. My teachers in grammar school were aggressive in instilling a sense of civic mindedness and respect for all others in our little heads. We were half old New England Congregationalists, farmers and professionals. My half were immigrants or children of immigrants, Roman Catholics laboring in the many factories in that part of Connecticut at the time. There was one black kid, David, and one Jewish kid, Elliot, in my class. There were a dozen and a half kids in Mr. Sullivans special class (various forms of learning disabilities). They were eventually mainstreamed as much as possible.

One day in sixth grade, Mrs. O'Brien sent Elliot and Janice out of the class on an errand. Janice probably had a lesser case of Down's Syndrome now that I think about it. Mrs. O'Brien sent the two out for a reason. She lit into us as if she was possessed by the spirit of Cotton Mather. And we all were familiar with Mather from our American Literature class. She noticed several minor slights to Elliot and Janice by members of the class. She would not stand for that and made sure we all understood that we would either behave like proper ladies and gentlemen at all times and to everyone or she would bring us to our knees. I never knew what the slights to Elliot and Janice were, but I doubled down in treating all with compassion and dignity. I thank God for that education. The Jesuits who took over the task of educating me could not do any better.

blue peacock


Thank you!

Yes indeed, intolerance of ideas and speech is part and parcel of the morality that everyone wants to impose on the other. But there is very little sense of honor. That is the societal degradation we see.

I was in Europe recently and the angst is no different than what we feel here. There is a growing belief that the elites who run things are divorced from the reality of the rest and we are facing growing instability as a consequence.

Peter AU

PC nowadays means inflicting drawn out physiological torture on kids if they are naughty. I find that a bit sadistic.
My eldest daughter obtained a bachelor in early childhood, and the younger one just a diploma. Both loved working with young children but neither ended up working in that field as they had no way of controlling some of the little shits they had to deal with. Both at separate times told me the old fashioned way of bringing up or disciplining children when required was better.

Lee A. Arnold

The age of intolerance may not be a new thing. I agree with your earlier posting that the last 100 years in the U.S. was a special period of relative calm agreement in discussions, at least compared to what we hear now. This was because electrical "mass media" was a one-way broadcast, and also it was restricted to a small handful of broadcast networks (due to the high cost of the equipment). They weeded out the nuttiest opinions and made discussions a bit calmer than they are now. And we all grew up during this, so we expect that this is the norm. But maybe it really isn't, and maybe it never was.

Studying Dante's Comedy and its literary criticism, I am surprised to find that the birth of this continuous individual and political viciousness is located by many historians in 13th-century Florence. (The Divine Comedy was an attempt to set things right.)

Anyway, the old broadcast networks of the 20th Century also generated a common storyline of beneficial U.S. influence in the world, which was not entirely accurate -- but, given the dangers in the two World Wars and the Cold War, it was easy enough to believe and to defend.

Now that anyone can speak out at full blast on the internet and social media, all the ancient and medieval poisons are coming back out, in full flower. From this, I have discovered two things simultaneously: 1. Most people think emotionally, not intellectually. They marshall their chosen facts to support their emotional feeling. So it looks like a fact-based discussion, but it's not. 2. Most people choose their emotions so as to be in agreement with their group of friends.

I am trying to figure out what happens next. It could be that emotional fatigue sets in, soon. Remember, this whole internet & social media thing is only 10-15 years old. A mere drop in the bucket of time. So maybe emotional fatigue sets in, because the dials are turned up so high, and people stop listening to anybody but their own friends and own emotions.

The danger is that there are still real factual problems in the world, and they require hard intellectual analysis. The democratic republic solution -- we'll elect a bunch of people, and they will sort it out -- doesn't seem to be working either.


Richard, I have been remiss in expressions of admiration for your continuing contributions to SST.

As the father of an autistic son, I struggled with this very question as I tried to guide him towards a balance in his life. We talked long and hard about retaining a proper sense of self and self-worth and yet being open enough to admire and learn from others. I hope I can get him to read your words and we can again discuss this part of his life.

Many Thanks

English Outsider


I don't at all like the term "Traditionalism". 1, It carries a sense of going backwards & 2, I'm suspicious of what the Continentals are doing with the term - if you are implying that behind their use of the term lurks unregenerate fascism I think you could be right. It disturbs me that on the Continent the channel through which opposition to Globalism and neo-liberalism will run might already have been cut and labelled; and that channel is itself deeply suspect.

Maybe that doesn't matter outside the Continent. Maybe, like the term "Tory" here, the term "traditionalist" will lose its original connotations and simply become a neutral term defined by the precepts of its adherents, rather than a term overshadowed by its initial associations.

Maybe it won't; so we need some new term to describe the intuitions behind the movements stirring here and I believe in the States that have exploded into full public gaze with Trump and Brexit.

It is an intuition that you cannot throw the past away. That that cannot be done because we are our history. It is an intuition that you cannot and should not attempt to reconstitute the past either, because their solutions no longer fit us; but we should build on what we have and build better.

Above all it is an intuition that we should not attempt to squeeze our future into some predefined or already determined future. We have no right to do that to our successors. Instead we should jointly explore that future, based on what we have - what else is there to base it on? - but not limited by what we have. This notion of the future as something we must strive for even when we cannot set out yet what that something is, is in flat contradiction to the "Progressive" notion that the future is something into which we must dutifully march in accordance with the precepts fixed for us by the ideologues.

That notion has killed its victims by the hundreds of millions in recent times. Shoehorning entire peoples into predetermined ideal states of existence might seem a glorious vision to the ideologues, those who would prescribe for the rest of us how it should always be, but the practice of that vision is invariably drenched in blood. If for that reason alone we should reject the "Progressive" straitjacket already prepared for us, but we should also reject it because whatever limits our infinite and unpredictable capacity for building on what we have and building better is wrong.

Find a term for that and I'll thank you. Until we do, "normal" will have to do. Because that's what those intuitions are. Normal. A hefty dose of Little House on the Prairie - because that's where we come from and you're not going to chuck all that away just because they wore funny clothes. A further hefty criticism of that Little House on the Prairie - because they could get away with being babes unborn when it came to practical politics and we can't. An acceptance of what I think our host above is getting across - that there's no one way and ours is not to be imposed any more than any one else's. And a dash of trusting to God, or fate depending on our beliefs, because that's better than trusting to those who would school us in their mantras. Then you might begin to get to the root of what stirred recently in American and English politics.

Meanwhile we'd better have a good look at what Babak is saying in his comment above. As ever he goes straight to the point. We're going to have to fight for it, you know. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

richard sale

Thank you.


richard sale

Thank you, David.


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