Peggy Noonan is a pundit I will always read, even (and especially) when I am in total disagreement with her, as I have been quite a few times recently. I’ve mentioned why before, but it is quite worth repeating. It has very much to do with her being a woman—a brilliant one with a quality I’d describe as “a prophetic streak.” (Except, people don’t know what this word “prophecy” means any more; they confuse it with prognosticating. It is instead a kind of wisdom that sees through the surfaces of things, to moral structure.)
Yet in a media world that continues to be dominated by male voices—quite naturally, for it has always been so—she seems able to see things that only a woman can see, and feel; to pick up on overlooked details that complete a masculine understanding. (Read her in the Wall Street Journal!)
That is why it is interesting to me that Noonan has been writing lately about the egotistical madness of politicians; about their blindness to what is at stake in their actions. She is one of several commentators beginning to discern apocalyptic developments in U.S. politics: the division of America not into supporters of two established political parties, with a common patriotism, but rather into two violently angry and mutually antagonistic camps, with little middle ground, and what there is disappearing.
The writer named David P. Goldman, who often signs himself “Spengler,” is another such “prophetic pundit,” and incidentally another New Yorker. He is superficially as different from Noonan as another person can be, yet he writes of parallel things in parallel ways. Where Noonan looks almost exclusively at American politics and society, “Spengler” is a globalist; with an uncanny understanding of both high finance and high diplomatic strategy. (Read him in Asia Times and First Things websites.)
I am mentioning him now less to extend a reading list into which I could keep dropping names than to suggest something important to gentle reader in the very comparison of the two writers. They are not members of a party faction; they have precious little to do with one another (so far as I know); they could come from two entirely different New Yorks. They share in the “prophetic” quality, but, in order to discern it himself, the reader must look through superficial differences in their backgrounds and interests.
Both see catastrophe coming in the present overreaching of the Obama presidency and the attendant triumphalism that this is spreading through the forces of the Left, internationally.
Both would be dismissed unread as “right wing” by people who use that as a term of abuse. But that abuse necessarily excludes every thoughtful writer. Only those with some sense of history, and of the received, traditional order of things (old-fashioned ideas about freedom and morality and God) have any foundation on which to stand and view the revolution now in progress. Yet there are many, many kinds of “right wing,” and one may usefully try to build a composite “counter-revolutionary” view.
The same apocalyptic story is being told from the other side, but in a radically different way. I am personally besieged, as are all other defenders of “Western Civ” of whom I am aware, by people telling us to shut up or actually trying to shut us down. No arguments are offered: only brownshirt sarcasm and smears. (“Racist! Sexist! Homophobe! Islamophobe!”) Yet I have nowhere been able to find a “left wing” writer who can give a coherent account of where the Left is proposing to take us; of what that Utopian destination of perfect “fairness” and “equality” will be. Or rather, how it would ultimately differ, from the complete extinction of the human race, in some post-human “deep ecology.”
Granted, I am a partisan. But I became one through the gradual discovery this was the case: that a political contest glibly tagged “right versus left” has become—is today—truly a war, between what a recent pope characterized as “the culture of life” and “the culture of death.” On every political question I can think of, the Left prescribes, and is successfully imposing, policies that are the opposite of fecund—whether the thing to be sacrificed is merely wealth and savings, or (in the case of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, even “same-sex marriage”) the very means of reproducing our species. Moreover, I find each policy advanced by “fait accompli” in the absence of serious public discussion and with the help of a propaganda (from “global warming” to the arguments for “Obamacare”) that is essentially deceitful. Which is hardly to say that the opponents of “the culture of death” are consistently little angels or that they never use illegitimate tactics and arguments.
But, as we are reminded in this week of Gethsemane, sometimes there is no middle ground.