renoir4The Road to Dystopia

By Susan D. Harris

CLICK HERE to listen to the author read her article

With misty eyes, I will always remember my parents huddled at a garage sale, literally scraping together all the money they had to buy their youngest child a box set of encyclopedias and the classics of western literature.  My mother convincing my father it was worth it, then my father proudly lugging the dusty boxes to the car.  I squealed with delight and they felt fulfilled in their parental roles; though they were secretly perplexed by my enthusiasm. I was precocious in my reading, and was blessed to have parents that scrambled to meet the demands of my developing mind.

Before 10 years of age I had already commandeered my mother’s set of Literature and Life books. I slipped away to ponder Mentresors’ revenge against Fortunato, and Prospero’s deadly masquerade ball.  By the 5th grade, my parents were notified I was reading at a 1st year college level.  At 15 I was reading Shakespeare – not for class assignments, but because I enjoyed it.  I regularly sent for free “sample” copies of everything I could get my hands on… The Economist, Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and National Review. To ensure continuous copies, I started to use a fake name. (Do not try this at home.)  I kept this from my parents until the male alias I’d used to receive free samples received an official letter requiring him to report for registration with Selective Service.  My sins had found me out, and I confessed to my parents, shuddering with fear that I would finally be arrested for wanting to read what I could not afford.

And so I brought with me a quietly humble, yet advanced level of comprehension when I embraced a circle of friends that would introduce me to new authors and new philosophies.  Most importantly was Jean Paul Sartre.  From there I strung along with the crowd like the last person in The Loco-Motion dance train, following them to Franz Kafka, Simone de Beauvoir, Ayn Rand and the philosophy of Hegel.

To me, it was like walking into the ominous ambience of Prospero’s black room with the red windows.  I tried to act enlightened.  How anyone could prefer Being and Nothingness over Democracy in America confounded me.  I listened in silence to passionate discussions of the genius of those authors. Inside I was squirming.  It was, to be frank, the biggest bunch of nonsense I’d ever heard or read.  When I reached college, I met a kindred spirit in Plato and a playful debater in Socrates.  I returned again and again to the Bible of my youth, and a man named Jesus.  Once embarrassed to voice my supposedly unlearned opinion on existentialist authors and the Hegelian dialectic, I eventually concluded that they had done to Western thought what Picasso had done to art:  They’d rejected traditional techniques of perspective, jumbled everything up, and narcissistically expected everyone to proclaim their works revolutionary masterpieces.  And throngs of their followers did just that; heaping praises upon kings that had no clothes.

I continued to collect books.  One discarded library book I picked up on a whim was titled, SDS: The Rise and Development of the Students for a Democratic Society by Kirkpatrick Sale.  I always had a nagging urge to figure out why American culture imploded in the 1960’s, besides the obvious influence of the Vietnam War.  I could never get my head around the SDS or their motivations.  (Little did I know they would provide the backbone of a Progressive movement that would overtake the country.)

There was a missing link and I couldn’t put the chain together – at least not until a contemporary of Sartre’s named Saul Alinsky came into my life.  Ah, now I’d come to what Ibsen called, “the serious part of the frolic.”  Alinsky’s methods and Rules for Radicals took all the darkness of existentialism and turned it into a blueprint for action. (Hillary Clinton’s thesis acknowledged that Alinsky himself accepted the label “existentialist.”)

Eventually I watched an old 1967 episode of Firing Line where William F. Buckley Jr. interviewed Alinsky in a show titled, Mobilizing the Poor.”  To conservative political geeks it was a nearly “orgasmic” (as Limbaugh would say) ideological smack down as Buckley played the master chess player, anticipating his opponent’s strategy and blocking every move. I nearly had a cigarette afterward.

Now things were coming together.  The Progressive worldview, and the Libertarian, Rand-worshipping worldview — are all part of the same existentialist family tree containing Sartre and Alinsky.  Rand’s humanistic objectivism is as cold and Godless as Sartre’s humanistic existentialism.   These pseudo-intellectuals are the reason Christianity has been quietly erased line by line, year after year in the popular psyche.  God was dead to Nietzsche, Sartre and Ayn Rand; and we all know Alinsky dedicated Rules for Radicals to Lucifer. Even Sartre’s famous cousin, Albert Schweitzer, denied the divinity of Christ. They were simply players in a full-court press for a total paradigm shift that has led us to the Mad Max dystopian hellhole upon which we are now teetering.

For the last forty years, parents who raised their children with Christian values increasingly saw them usurped on college campuses with more socially acceptable ideas of karma or Taoism, atheism or paganism — or some eclectic hybrid “spirituality” picked from a smorgasbord of world religions.

Like our religion, our politics has become one large stew assembled from an array of ingredients no one remembers – an amnesia that could be our undoing.  In a desperate attempt to save the country, we find ourselves desperately cherry picking from various ideologies to accomplish whatever our goal is on any given day.  We are becoming a nation of lost souls passionately proclaiming our oxymoronic beliefs at home and abroad.

When all is said and done, the “huddled masses” don’t really know or care where they got their views, or the origins of their trickle-down philosophies.  As for our leaders on Capitol Hill, there are very few who adhere to any solid political philosophy, and even fewer that believe they answer to a higher power.

The original impetus of a Conservative worldview rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic is being replaced by a Libertarianism that lacks Biblical morality; and makes no apologies for doing so.  Worse yet, despite Conservatism’s firm moral foundation and a historically intellectual superiority over competing ideologies; it wasn’t able to stop an ideologically inferior Alinsky trained robot from becoming the leader of the free world.  That is why a complete overhaul of Conservatism is currently underway.  Initiated by groups like the Tea Party, only time will tell if this embattled reconstruction will be successful and quick enough to turn the tide of history.

In the end, my “book learning” has been both a blessing and a curse.

For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

My quest for knowledge led me to an answer that I and millions of Americans already inherently know:  That those unpretentious souls who lived in centuries past, plowing by day and reading the Bible by lantern light — had a deeper and more correct understanding of their role as “community organizers,” their purpose on earth, and the very meaning of life itself — than any Sartre, Rand, Hegel or Alinsky could ever have.

We search the world for truth;
We cull the good, the pure, the beautiful,
From all old flower fields of the soul;
And weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said,
Is in the book our mothers read. ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

Published in: Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook




Previous Post

  • Jose B Sanchez

    The religious right scares me as much as the doctrinaire left because they are made up of”true believers” who have a set of values so true that they may forced on nonbelievers. I subscribe to the view that my values are my own and may not be forced on others. Am I wrong?

  • Bob Herz

    Nice piece on dystopia. Needed that this morning, pulling all the threads together.

  • Gene Myrick ( formerjumper )

    I so identify with your personal story this morning regarding your thirst for knowledge and the fact that you were so far ahead of your peers in your personal quest for learning. It is comforting to gain knowledge of a fellow traveler. I struck out on my own at 16 years old and never looked back. I did it the hard way, though. I became a success in many ways and now I am diving back into the pool I love so dear; reading the masters of the written language. You are a breath of fresh air. You made my day…

  • Bower Yousse

    Just read “The Road To Dystopia.” WOW. Haven’t read anything in years that grabbed me and held me the way this commentary did. Thank you. I’ll share it on Facebook.

  • I read your latest article on Dystopia, then read more articles on your webpage, and have been awed and delighted with your writing. I especially enjoyed “Sweet Betsy from Pike,” for the songs from that genre formed the basis of my childhood, and I sang them to my little girls, and now to their little boys. They all know that Sweet Betsy crossed the wide prairie with her lover Ike, that Susannah came from Alabama, Davy Crockett is king of the wild frontier, and that the Er..I..E was arising.

    I am so happy to have found your page and will become a faithful reader. Would to God there were more like you in the media.

    Alma M. Womack
    Jonesville, LA

    • Susan D. Harris

      Ms. Womack,
      You are an inspiration to me. I shall read your comment again and again – when I am feeling low and uninspired.
      God Bless You,
      Susan D. Harris

  • Merlin Perkins

    Thanks for “The Road to Dystopia” in AT. Thought provoking, to say the least.

  • Brian Talley

    I read with interest your recent American Thinker article, The Road to Dystopia. You’re obviously well-read, yet you conflate libertarianism with Rand’s Objectivism. I am a libertarian and know many others who are, yet none of us eschew religion or embrace Objectivism. There is no reason one cannot understand and embrace the values of non-aggression, wealth production and ownership, and a “moocher-free” state that also compels us to reject traditional Judeo-Christian values.

    The recent surge of popularity in Rand’s books in recent years has less to do with the blind acceptance of Objectivism and more to do with wholesale rejection of the welfare state championed by big, interfering, collectivist government. It is also, in part, the rejection of the Republican party which very clearly stands for nothing in particular.

    Libertarians such as myself do not condone drug use or homosexuality. But we understand rejection of such things must be at the personal, individual level. We must not abdicate personal responsibility for rejecting evil just as so many have abdicated personal responsibility for doing good. The left has worked tirelessly to ensure the government compels “charity” from us all through taxation, but money taken by force is not the same as money given out of love and compassion. Take the love and compassion away, and no healing – of those in need – can take place.

    Attempting to reject evil with a legislator’s pen rather than through an individuals head and heart is similarly doomed to result in failure. People may understand that something is illegal without understanding why it is evil. That’s where we are today, sadly. Those on the right who mean to do well by drafting legislation to compel or prevent behavior themselves behave in ways indistinguishable from those on the left who seek to replace God with government.

    Kind regards,


    • Susan D. Harris

      Mr. Talley,
      First of all, thank you for taking the time to comment and visit.

      I have known Libertarians, and most of them (not all) eschew religion and embrace Objectivism. Many of them even posted their comments under my article on AT, including rejecting the notion that we are a country founded on Judeo-Christian values.

      I also agree that the Republicans seem to stand for nothing these days. It is their own fault – they allowed a vacuum to form when they abandoned their Conservative base as they mistakenly believed that “moving to the center” would bring more people under the “big tent.” (It was a terribly miscalculated move as they tried to counteract the huge onslaught of legal and illegal immigrants being deposited in this country – and immediately registered as Democrats on their way to the nearest Social Services office.)

      The point of my article (not the entire point, but the one that readers seemed to focus on) is that the original Conservatism (that was the base of the Republican platform) should be retaken, reclaimed and reestablished. It doesn’t need to be discarded and replaced with the “new” Libertarianism that was born from Ayn Rands writings. I consider that dangerous, because her writings are not based on Christianity.

      You and I will never agree, because the belief in a Bible that judges men as well as societies and countries, has no middle ground. You either believe it or you don’t. I believe laws based on Biblical teaching should be enforced in a society, or that society will crumble.

      Libertarianism is nothing more than Conservatism minus that nasty distraction of Christianity. I heartily agree with everything Whittaker Chambers wrote in 1957, “Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.” There is no more to be said than that.

      I do hope that Conservatives and Libertarians can stand together to defeat this country’s Progressive march-to-the-sea. I believe we have much in common to fight for, and I will gladly stand by your side to do it. In the long term however, I do not want to see my Conservative compatriots sucked into a Libertarianism that will eventually demand that they abandon what it means to be a Christian in every judicial, legislative and executive facet of our Republic.

      Warmest Regards,
      Susan D. Harris

  • Scott Royer

    In your recent American Thinker piece, you made the statement;

    “The original impetus of a Conservative worldview rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic is being replaced by a Libertarianism that lacks Biblical morality; and makes no apologies for doing so.”

    I have been working on some writings which will define what I would call, “a unified theory of political ideology” but it really boils down to understanding the left and right at their most basic elements – which is most obviously that one acknowledges the authority of God, which the other attempts to usurp.

    It is rare to read such clear writing as yours – thank you.

    If you have any interest in my further thoughts please feel free to write back.

    • Susan D. Harris

      Mr. Royer,
      I find the fact that you are calling your writing “a unified theory” interesting. There is no unified theory, but yet – it is all unified in the sense that it is all an ongoing fight for, or against, God. You are correct.

      An interesting element that is often overlooked is the meat and bones in the comments below an article such as this. They breathtakingly proved my point. I am in the process of boiling those comments down, both from AT and Free Republic. You will find the most vehement commenters are bitter against the Christian God, while others fulfill the point I made about “cherry-picking” their ideology. They believe Libertariansim is compatible with Christianity, which in it’s totality – it is not. The truth is that the greatest precepts we can cull from Libertarianism were in truth already set down by our founding fathers. And later by such great men as William F. Buckley Jr. (and the Conservative movement that grew around him.) The downward spiral of this country began in earnest with the shocking defeat of Barry Goldwater – precipitated only by voters still reeling from a presidential assassination and casting a sympathy vote for LBJ as a result.

      Some of the most passionate arguements against this article were made by atheists who supposedly reject “religion,” but speak with all the oratory of a Saturday night tent revival meeting. In truth – atheism is itself a religion, but they are wont to admit it.

      I am vascillating between political and spiritual topics. It’s hard not to do.

      I believe the core of what you are writing will inevitably lead back to America’s institutions of higher learning. It is there, in the battle for control of our young minds, that you will find the battle for the “most basic elements.”

      In a 1926 edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Frederick Boyd Stevenson, a reporter who interviewed everyone from Mark Twain to FDR wrote:

      “The American Association for the Advancement of Atheism is spreading it’s propaganda all over the United States. It’s General Secretary, Freeman Hopwood, says that Atheistic Societies similar to the Damned Souls group at the University of Rochester will be established in many colleges throughout the country. The Atheistic Secretary says, “Experience has shown us that a goodly percentage of the professors in the average university are atheists.”

      Thank you for visiting my site and I wish you well in your endeavor and look forward to reading it.
      Susan D. Harris

  • Glenn Fairman

    love your site and the audio. Your fan, Glenn Fairman

    • Susan D. Harris

      I am humbled sir. Your writing is an inspiration to all of us.

      To anyone who is not familiar with Mr. Fairman’s eloquent and thought-provoking writing, please visit the archive of his work on American Thinker, visit his Facebook page or read his blogs at