The Long March

The Long March

Smoke was still rising from the ruins of the Twin Towers when liberal icon and prolific writer Susan Sontag wrote, “Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack . . . undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?” These words soon appeared in print,1 prompting columnist Andrew Sullivan to create the Sontag Award for outstanding examples of “[g]lib moral equivalence in the war on terror.”2

Sontag and her cronies had been at it a long time, draining the spiritual and moral capital of America. Roger Kimball, New Criterion editor and London Spectator art critic, compared Sontag’s America to Phineas P. Gage, whose brain was damaged in a drilling accident in 1848.3 Miraculously, his “intellectual powers were unimpaired; but . . . his ‘moral center’ had been destroyed. Before the accident, Gage ‘had been an intelligent, socially responsible, hard-working fellow . . . But in the weeks after the tamping rod pierced his brain, he began using profane language, lied to his friends and could not be trusted to honor his commitments.”4

By Kimball’s account, a moral meltdown in the West began in the 1960s. Though student radicals of that day dreamed of immediate revolution, they had to settle for the “long march through the institutions,”5 which Herbert Marcuse characterized as “working against the established institutions while working in them.”6 They would use “insinuation and infiltration rather than confrontation. . .”7 To see that they have succeeded,

[Y]ou need look no further than the curriculum of your local school or college, at what is on offer at the nearest museum or so-called “public” radio station: indeed, you need look no further than your workplace, your church (if you still go to church), or your family to see evidence of the damage wrought by the long march of the counterculture.8

Kimball traced the roots of this “antinomian hedonism” from Rousseau through the Beat Generation to Manhattan literati and the Ivy League. Among those earning special credit were:

1. Allen Ginsberg, whose poem “Howl” glorified drugs, madness, and promiscuous sex.9
2. Jack Kerouac, whose On the Road presented mindless writing as “spontaneous prose.”10
3. William Burroughs (Naked Lunch), who proclaimed, “I’m violently anti-Christian.”11
4. Norman Mailer, whose “macho, adolescent radicalism” promoted “moral nihilism.”12
5. Susan Sontag, who praised the “transcendence” of “the pornographic imagination.”13
6. James Perkins, who as president of Cornell, pandered and capitulated to campus radicals.14
7. Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin, who lent “the appearance of ecclesiastical gravitas to the Movement.”15
8. Psychiatrist Willhelm Reich, who preached unbridled sex as the answer to most every problem.16
9. Paul Goodman, who mocked conventional morality in Growing Up Absurd.17
10. Norman O. Brown, who fought sexual “repression” in Love’s Body.18
11. Herbert Marcuse, who yearned for “the fall of the capitalist superpower.”19
12. Charles Reich, whose The Greening of America was an assault on rationality.20
13. Harvard’s Timothy Leary, who infamously counseled, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”21
14. Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver (Soul on Ice), who called rape an “insurrectionary act.”22

Ancient history? No, required reading and received wisdom in the minds of Western cultural elites. The long march is well under way, and unless the Church is willing to engage in extended cultural combat, the enemy will reign unopposed.

For references thanks to Kairos Journal

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