|The following speech was presented at the ICLC/Schiller Institute Conference, Sept. 2, 2001 as part of a panel entitled, "Defeat the Brute Within." The slides and other graphics for this presentation will be online in the near future. The address is also available as an audio/video RealMedia archive.
"It Only Smells Like the Island of Dr. Moreau"
by Stanley Ezrol
The main problem to be solved tonight, or to be worked on tonight, is: Why people aren't having more fun.
In order to do that, I'm going to give you a little bit of a map of enemy terrain, namely the terrain inside your minds, and the minds of the people that you deal with, who are not having the fun that they ought to be having. I want to start, by reminding some of you of something most of you are somewhat familiar with: the "Elmer Gantry" film, and the image of Burt Lancaster, down on all fours, in church, barking like a dog.
Most of you, do not get down on your knees, on all fours in church, and bark like dogs; and most of the people that you meet with, don't do that on a regular basis.
However, there are many people you meet with, maybe even some people here in this room tonight, who think that "Fat Albert" Gore is a more viable candidate for President, than Lyndon LaRouche.
There are many people, who think that George W. Bush's advisersthere are some people, who even think that George W. Bush is smart enough to fix things, before it comes to a calamity, like a world war or a financial meltdown. That's sort of in the class of getting on your knees and barking like a dog.
But, there are a lot of people, who aren't quite that bad, but who think, "Well, his people wouldn't let him do that."
There are a lot of people, who think that a system of strong sovereign nation-states, dedicated to protecting the general welfare of their citizens is "oppressive big government," and "we oughta do somethin' to control it."
A lot of people think that the United States has a concern with foreign enemies, rogue statesChina, Russiaterrorist threats. A lot of people think those enemies are more dangerous than the internal enemy, that I told you we had to deal with tonight.
Now, what I hope we can accomplish this evening, is to give you enough of the sense of smellnot by releasing any odors in the hall, but by generating that smell in your mind's nose, so to speakso that, when you sense these ideas that I've outlined, within yourself, or within the people you talk to, you will think: "Aha! There you are, down on all fours, barking like a dog."
Who the Fugitives Are
What we've got up here (Figure 1) is a group of fellowsactually, at the point that was taken, they were not as old as they lookknown as the Fugitive Poets or the Nashville Agrarians. They are, for the most part, third-generation descendants of the Tennessee Templars, who, along with Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Albert Pike, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, founded the Ku Klux Klan, in 1866. These kidsthey started out on this road as kids, in 1915and their direct intellectual descendants, their collaborators, and their friends, have played a leading role in shaping the environment, which shapes the way that most of you, here, still think, to a large extent; and, that certainly conditions the way that most people in American culture think (Figure 2).
They have provided the intellectual basis and the program, for the upsurge of the influence of fundamentalist religious cults in political life, over the last 70 years. And this includes both the Christian Right, and the upsurge in so-called New Age Aquarian-type cults (Figure 3). They and their immediate students, are the direct intellectual leaders of the so-called Conservative Revolution, associated with the names William F. Buckley, Newt Gingrich, and the other Southern Strategy Republicans.
They and their collaborators (Figure 4) have also provided the ideological basis of the systems analysis-connected one-worldist, pro-ecology, environmentalist, counterculture freak movement, and the allied Southern Strategy Democrats.
They have provided the ideological framework for the bipartisan, foreign, strategic and economic policy, which goes under the headings globalization or Project Democracy, the idea of which, is that all nation-states ought to be subject to some sort of global authority, in terms of their credit policies, economic development policies, military, and technology policies (Figure 5).
They directly created and have led the leading school of literary criticism, which dominates the Modern Language Association, which is the professional association for all university and high school English teachers and literature professors; which sets standards for grammar, as used in our major publications: books, newspapers, magazines and so on. Through their connections with the Hollywood movie industry, and elsewhere, they also have played a very important role in influencing all of the institutions of so-called culture and entertainment, typified by the Hollywood movie industry (Figure 6).
Now, what I hope to show tonight, and some of you have read my article on this in EIR ("Seduced from Victory: How the Lost Corpse Subverts the American Intellectual Tradition," Executive Intelligence Review, August 3, 2001); most of you, hopefully, will. I can't go into a lot of detail. What I do hope to show, is that, for all of these seemingly disparate, and in fact, in some cases seemingly conflicting institutions, political trends and movements, there is one, unifying idea.
To give you a sort of brief smell of what that idea is, I would refer you to H.G. Wells's novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Which is typical of a whole genre of science-fiction and literature, which involves the idea of the half-beast, half-man. The story of The Island of Dr. Moreau, is the story of a fellow named Edward Prendick, who is somewhat like the author, H.G. Wells. He was a student of Charles Darwin's, boss Thomas Henry Huxley, who found himself stranded on a tropical island, with Dr. Moreau and a lot of weird creatures. The weird creatures were animals that Dr. Moreau operated on, in order to try to make them human. And he had some apparent success: They were able to talk. They were able to act as household servants. They were able to prepare food. They were able to speak, relatively simplysort of like a newscaster, or sportscasterat about that level. And, they had a code of ethics that they lived by: things like, Walk on two legs, not four: are we not men? Eat no flesh, nor fish: are we not men? But, ultimately, the experiment did not work, and the bestial, predatory nature of these animals came to the surface. And, in due courseshort course, really; it's a fairly short bookDr. Moreau and his assistant perished at the hands of their experiments. Prendick escaped and returned to England. And, as the novel concludes, Prendick, in England, said that, as he looked at the people around him, he could not help feeling that he was still amongst the beast-people of Dr. Moreau's island; and, that they might, at any point, turn on him, the way that the creatures of the island had. And, then, he looked up to the Heavens, and he said, I take comfort in thinking that, there, that within in us, which is more than animal-like, can somehow, some way, be realized.
Now, this, if you think about itand I haven't given you many details, but it's actually clear from what Wells does with this book, that this is the way he thought about it, toois, the idea, for instance, of fundamentalist religion. Here, we're all beasts. Here, we're all predators. Here, you look out for number-one; you look out for yourself, your familyprivate enterprise, right? You want wealth? Well, let everybody look out for their own, and then, we'll all have wealth, right? And, we love God, of course. We love God, up in Heaven: Don't want Him down in our neighborhood! We hope He won't come visit. But, He's the most important thing to us.
Now, let's go back to 1915, which is the same year that evil twins were born in Hollywood, through one act of birthand that is the release of the first full-length, Hollywood motion picture, D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation"; the sales and distribution of which, provided the initial financial base for developing the Hollywood movie industry; and, also, the circulation of which built the born-again Ku Klux Klan, in the period 1915 and forward. One of the key figures in thatthere were many, but, one I'll mention for this purposewas a fellow named Walter L. Fleming, who was one of the leading insider historians of the Ku Klux Klan. He issued a book on that in 1905. A couple of years after the issuance of "Birth of a Nation," he was named dean of Vanderbilt University. The fellow in the bottom center, there, John Crowe Ransom, was the grand-nephew of James Crowe, who was one of Walter Fleming's chief sources. John Crowe Ransom's mother, Ella, used to tell little Johnny, on her knee, how she loved those good, old days, when she and the other Crowe women, would sit around the family hearth, sewing sheets together, so the men-folk could go to their rallies!
That gives you an idea of the flavor of these kids. But, they began meeting, in 1915, meeting with a Rosicrucian mystic, named Sidney Mttron Hirsch, who's the fellow there, on the upper right, with the beard. And, what he schooled them in, was what William Yandell Elliott (who's the fellow on the upper left, there; we'll hear a touch more about him later), what he called the "epic exemplar" theory of history. Which is, basically, your old standard, oligarchical religion: That you don't know anything, except what some secret, mysterious character may whisper to you. Sidney Hirsch apparently called them "epic exemplars"; you can find other terms"adepts," "ascended masters," "magi," "little green men," as LaRouche calls them.
This is the stuff that the Roman mystery religions, that Rosicrucian Freemasonry, Theosophy, and other mystic cultsall of these thingsare made of. The key is: You don't know nuthin'. But, if you get on the inside, with those of us who do know, well, then, maybe you can make something of yourself.
They became, in the '20s, famous leaders of the Modernist poetry and literary movement. One of the key ways in which they became this, was that William Yandell Elliott was one of about five of these good ol' boys from Nashville, who became a Rhodes Scholar. In the early '20s. While they were publishing Fugitive magazine, he was listed as the editor in absentia. And, he would stay up all night, drinking, with William Butler Yeats, the occultist poet; with Robert Graves, who's known to some of you as the author of the I, Claudius novels, which PBS did a famous television series on, and who also is known for his great work on the Cult of the White Goddess, as the basis of all true religion.
The circles that they became prominent in, were the circles of the Bohemian generation of poets, the precursors of the Beat and the hippie generation. The fellow on the lower left there, Allen Tate, for instance, went to Paris, and used to spend his Thursday afternoons with Gertrude Stein and her wife, Alice B. Toklas, eating hashish. No. I'm sorry: He claims he never ate the chocolate cake. And, he claims that it was only served to the women in the back room, because, despite the fact that these fellows (or, whatever they are) are heroes of the gay rights movement, Gertrude Stein would not let Alice sit in the front room with the men.
The Agrarian/Distributist Alliance
But, they were upset at the treatment given the Southern culture, by the literary elites. And, in the late '20s, they resolved to do something about this.
What they did, in the period, from about 1929-1931, is to release a series of books. The centerpiece of this series is this, I'll Take My Stand, (Figure 7) which is advertised here, as "the Revolt of the Young South against Machine Civilization." It was dedicated to Walter Fleming, the insider historian of the Ku Klux Klan. The publication of this collection was organized by Allen Tate, in between his sessions at Gertrude Stein's in Paris, where he was also working on another one of the books released in this period: his biography of Gen. Stonewall Jackson.
To make it clear, at the outset, what this book was, I'll tell you what was said in its concluding essay. The concluding essay was written by Stark Young, who was the most famous, at that point, of the 12 Agrarian authors. Now, Stark Young was in the middle of the movement of H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and H.G. Wells's two main protégés, Aldous and Julian Huxley, in the United States. Young was on the editorial board of the H.G. Wells organ, known as The New Republic, which still functions, today, as suchhe also was a lifelong homosexual. What he wrote, in his concluding essay, is that: The South saw the rise of a certain kind of aristocratic life-style. It was based on the copious ownership of land and many slaves. And, that is what this book has been written about.
And, I just thought I would say that at the outset, because, as these people went on, and did other things, many people have tried to say that that book didn't say what it said, and didn't mean what it meant.
Now, specifically, what they painted in that book, is this: They started by saying: "All tend to support a Southern way of life, against what may be called the American, or prevailing, way. Agrarian versus industrial."
And, they spelled out, in some detail, what they meant by that. And, what they meant by that, is that, there's a terrible thing that happened to the human race, as epitomized by the development of the United States of America. And that that terrible thing was cognition. And that the way that things really ought to be, is that people just should, sort of, lie there, like turds on the ground; and, just sort of, stay the same, generation, from generation, to generation. And, they, for instance, go back to what they liked about the Roman Republic. What they liked about the Roman Republic, "before the speculators and Corn Laws had driven men from the the soil, to the city slums," was that, "they reeked of the soil, of the plow, and the spade; they had wrestled with virgin soil and forest." Then they trace out that development, through England, declaring that they are Anglophiles, and that they chiefly base themselves on the model of England. And I don't really think this is what happened in England, but, what they say happened in England, is that the English settled their country, figured out how to live in harmony with nature, made a truce with nature, and have lived the same way ever since. Whereas, the American way, makes an unrelentin' war against nature. And, it thrusts you into an infinite series of progress!
You know, the idea that you might discover something, that you might figure out how to make improvements; that you might do that, and then say, "Aha! We can do it even better!" That's the infinite series of progress: They don't let us just lie alone! Why don't they leave us be!
I want to give you a little idea of what this means for cognition. This is from Robert Penn Warren, who ultimately became the most famous and successful of the group. He got two Pulitzer Prizes; had a couple of Hollywood movies made, of his books; became the first Poet Laureate of the United States, in 1986. What I'm going to read you, is a view that he held, which never really changed, although later in life, he promoted himself as an advocate of civil rights, and a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. "The negro was as little equipped to establish himself"he's talking now of the freed slaves, after the Civil War"was as little equipped to establish himself, as he would have been to live again with spear and breechclout in the Sudan or Bantu country. The necessities of life had always found their way to his back or skillet, without the least thought on his part. He did not know how to make a living. Always, in the past, he had been told when to work, and what to do. For what is the negro to be educated? In the past, the Southern negro has always been a creature of the small town and farm. That is where he still chiefly belongs, by temperament and capacity."
Some of you may think that that's a racist statement.
Robert Penn Warren did not think so, to his dying day. A year before this book was published, he published a biography of the abolitionist, John Brown, in which he said, that one of the problems, that led to the Civil War, is that, people in the North, who had never really seen slavery, for what it really was, developed some theory about how it was evil. But, that the slaves, themselves, never bothered their kinky heads about it! Because they had everything taken care of for them. And, to prove that this statement is not racist, I will read you from his friend, Allen Tate. Allen Tate, who was, at that point, called by T.S. Eliot, the greatest poet writing in America, who later on was sent on tours by the CIA and the State Department, to promote American culture abroad, wrote in I'll Take My Stand: "The South could remain simple-minded, because it had no use for the intellectual agility required to define its position. The Southern mind was simple, not top-heavy with learning it had no use of. We are very near an answer to our question: How may the Southerner take hold of his tradition. The answer is: by violence."
A few years later, he wrote that he was a white supremacist; that he didn't like lynching, but that, if you want to stop lynching, don't bother the people doing the lynching. It's very simple: Eliminate the fear of the whites, that their supremacy will be challenged, and lynching will stop.
Also, in this book (Figure 8), in an article by Andrew Nelson Lytle, titled "The Hind Tit," Lytle wrote: "Prophets do not come from cities. They have always come from the wilderness, stinking of goats, and running with lice." (I hope you're beginning to see a certain theme, that's developing here, about what sensations these fellows sort of like.)
The 'Critter Company'
At the same time, this great classic work was issued: Bedford Forrest and his Critter Company, which was a loving homage to the first Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The point of that bookpeople have asked me, "Well, why is it called Critter Company?" Well, it's about a cavalry outfit, and they've got horses, who are critters. But, you look at the book, and what it talks about, is the intelligence and wisdom of the members of the companynamely, the horses. They'd perk their ears up; they'd stiff their noses; they'd sense what was coming next. It also said a few things about the less intelligent members of the company, on the backs of the Critters. And what he promulgated in this book, is a very common myth about the founding of the United States, and one which is rampant to today, in this conservative movement, as well as in other circles. What he said, is that, contrary to what we knowwhich is that the English colonization of the Americas was something that was led by the friends of William Shakespeare, in order to get away from religious warfare in Europe; in order to have a relatively safe base, from which to establish a sovereign nationwhat Andrew Nelson Lytle writes is: That the Forrests, like their friends who came to America, came "to appease their nostalgia for feudalism."
A few years earlier, a fellow named Christopher Hollis, who was part of an English Catholic movement, known as the Distributists, issued a book, titled The American Heresy, in which he said, essentially the same thing in some more detail: That America had been founded to be a feudal, agrarian society, but that a heresy was introduced by Alexander Hamilton, Henry Carey, and Abraham Lincoln, which turned it, instead, into an industrial nation. And, we'll hear more about the Distributists later.
At the same time, a very important book, but one that you don't hear promoted as widely, was issued. It was titled, God Without Thunder, written by John Crowe Ransomthe white-diaper baby, you saw up there a little while earlier. What Ransom did, in [God Without Thunder, is to give a detailed theological and philosophical explanation of the same ideas which were in I'll Take My Stand. What he says, in that book, is that. we have a problem, which is that what he calls the God of the Old Testament, the God of Thunderand, let's say, I don't think he's entirely accurate about his Old Testament interpretation; but we won't get into that, nowbecause he's very clear about what he liked: A God that you are terrified of. A God like Jonathan Edwards' God. The God that is ready to stomp on you, and let your blood splat! all over his garments, because that's the way He shows His majesty; by not caring whether you are good, or evil; not caring whether nations are good or evil. But, He shows His majesty by stomping on the ones he doesn't like, and raising up the ones He does like, just 'cause that's the way He likes it!
That's Jonathan Edwards' God and that is the God that John Crowe Ransom mourns the loss of. Not because John Crowe Ransom was a believer, in that Godor any Godas he makes clear. But, as he says, in the introductory letter, which is addressed to his guru, Sidney Mttron Hirsch, he wishes to explain to the Western world of America, the function of the myths in human civilization. How to use myths, to control people.
In developing his history, of how it is, that we turned away from this Godzilla God, he goes back as far back as Plato. He describes the beginning of the development of Plato's Idea of the Idea, of human cognition, as the "perilous step, man had taken, towards his later civilization, when he introduced agriculture, and ate of flesh. Here lay the origin of the strife, between the animal species, when man began to enforce the fact of his superiority, by militance and aggression."
And, then, what he says is, that what he likes, are the fundamentalists. Why does he like the funamentalists? Because "the fundamentalist does not any longer distinguish myth and fact. But, why should he? If the myth is worth believing in."
And he also throws in a little of Sidney Mttron Hirsch's training here: That what you really get ideas from are "demons," which he says are the same as devilsthat Socrates got his ideas from devils, as did other great thinkers: that it's the demon that you get all of your ideas from.
What John Crowe Ransom complained about is the filioque as being the worst point in the history of the human race. Now, what's the filioque? Like Dr. Franklin, and unlike Elmer Gantry, I'm not dogmatic in matters of religioun. What the filioque is, is the idea that Christ, who is man, shares in the creative capability of God in Heaven: that Man has the capability of understanding and of furthering the understanding of the principles, by which the Universe was created. That's what John Crowe Ransom did not like. That's what I do like, what Lyndon LaRouche likes, what Nicholas of Cusa liked, it's what I believe Pope John Paul II likes about the filioque.
What John Crowe Ransom did was to conclude his book with a programmatic call, in which he asked, what should we do about this? Some people might think that we should all join the Orthodox Churches, since they never accepted the filioque. But, he said, we know what kind of people they have in those churches, I would find that "abhorrent." Well, why not forget Christ altogether, and go back to the Synagogue? "Abhorrent!." What about the Roman Catholic Church? Well, the West has been fighting against Rome. What about the English Catholic, the Anglican or Episcopal Churches? Well, now you're talkin.' I am an Anglophile, but I don't think Americans will buy it. So, the call he ends with, which should sound like something familiar, something resembling something that maybe you've seen, is that, whatever church you are in, turn it back to Fundamentalism; whatever church you are in, turn it away from the soft, half-man, half-god; turn it away from the God that you think can love you, from the God you think you can understand; turn it away from what he describes Christ as: the "Patron of Science," and turn it back to the God of Thunder, the God of Terror.
The Agrarians Turn Fascist
Now, what became of this movement, these ideas which were outlined in I'll Take My Stand, Bedford Forrest and his Critter Company, God Without Thunder, and their other tomes, was what was called the alliance of Agrarian and Distributist groups, which was active in the early part of the thirties up through about 1937. The Distributists, as I mentioned before, are anti-Renaissance, pro-Feudal Catholics. The primary historical sympathy of the Distributists was with the Spanish Hapsburgs, because just as they saw the Renaissance of the Fifteenth Century as being the worst disaster to befall man, because of its promotion of this idea of the capability of the scientific efforts of man, and so on, they saw the historic efforts of Carlos Quinto of Spain, and especially of his son, Phillip II, to destroy the Renaissance as being the most heroic struggle that traditional society had waged against the Renaissance, which they would often describe as "pagan," because of the influence of Plato. Interestingly, Aristotle to these people was divine, but Plato was a Pagan. Neither one of them, of course, were Christians.
This alliance involved the publication of an openly pro-Fascist magazine called the American Review, which praised Hitler and Mussolini, and propagandized against any attempt to militarily restrain the Fascist and Nazi regimes. The key figures in the Distributist movement were Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton. Belloc had written a book titled The Jews, and in the edition of that book published in the period of his alliance with the Agrarians, in 1937, he said that he admired the heroic efforts of the Nazi regime to finally deal with the Jewish question; with his only concern being that their efforts would not provide a "final solution" for all of Europe. Just in fairness to Hilaire Belloc, he did not say that all Jews should be killed. What he did say is that a natural nation is one that is based on one ethnic grouping in one limited area, and that, therefore, no foreign ethnic group could be considered citizens of a nation. And that what the Jews ought to do is to renounce citizenship in any non-Jewish nation that they were in, and then they could live in peace.
Now, without going into further detail, this Alliance of Agrarians and Distributists became somewhat unpopular in the course of the Second World War, but it was revived immediately after the Second World War. It was revived under the patronage of the pro-feudalist, Catholic Buckley familyWilliam F., and all of his brothers and sisters. What we know as the Conservative movement associated with Buckley includes amongst its ideological leaders, the following people who are direct students of the Agrarians: Richard Weaver, Melvin Bradford, Frederick Wilhelmsen, Russel Kirk, Wilmoore Kendall, and then the next generation student Thomas Fleming. These are the people who wrote and directed the Buckleyite publications including Modern Age, the journal of Buckley's Intercollegiate Studies Institute; National Review; Chronicles, which is the journal of the Rockford Institute, and others.
What you see there (Figure 9) is evidence of a now existing typical product of the Agrarian/Distributist Alliance. This is from the web-site of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, which bills itself as America's premiere Catholic College. It was founded with Buckley money, it has a student lounge and billiard hall, named Chester- Belloc, after the pro-Nazi Distributists G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. What you see there is an announcement for a program on liturgical music held last June, featuring Thomas Fleming, who was a founder of the pro-Ku Klux Klan, pro-Confederate, Southern Partisan magazine, a founder of the pro-Ku Klux Klan, pro-Confederate Southern Patriot magazine, who is a board member of the League of the South, who is an open advocate for a new secession of the Confederacy, and who works in alliance with separatist organizations in the Balkans, in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, who are attempting, using terrorist and other means, to destroy Nation States, wherever they can.
The New Crittercism
So, what we've gone over so far, just to recap, is the influence of the Agrarians. One thing that I hope you have sort of detected and picked up is that taking away a certain kind of drawl, taking away certain kinds of references to "nigraws" and some things like that, their views on technology, science, and the environment are no different from Ted Kaczinski the "Unabomber," no different from "Fat Albert" Gore, no different from this entire movement who take any idea that may seem good and proposes that it's the most dangerous idea that's hit us.
Now, what most historians of the Agrarians claim is that this political episode in the thirties was temporary. They gave it up. They abandoned it, and they went on to brilliant "litererah" careers. And here you see a scene (Figure 10) at the Library of Congress where you've got John Crowe Ransom, Cleanth Brooks sitting on the left there, their friend Eudora Welty in the middle. I won't go into detail now, but they dominated the whole Library of Congress literary apparatus. They got prizes, they decided who else got the prizes, and so on. Now, what I want to do briefly is look at what the New Criticism is, which I think you will agree with me, after hearing it, I was absolutely right to call the New Critter-cism. You can see for yourself how different it is from Agrarianism.
First, to give you an idea what they don't like, I'll first read to you from John Crowe Ransom's most famous essay of literary criticism, "Shakespeare at Sonnets," in which he attacked Shakespeare for being a "careless workman," because he violated some of the rules of English sonnet writing which John Crowe Ransom invented 300 years after Shakespeare's death. This is what he had to say about Shakespeare otherwise, taking objection to Shakespeare's reference to the "soul of the wide-dreaming world."
"The World-Soul is a technical concept, I suppose, in the sense that it was of use to Paracelsus and to other theosophists.... It indicates a very fine image for some metaphysical poet who will handle it technically: for Donne or another university poet. It is not fit for amateurs. The question is whether Shakespeare's theological touch here is not amateurish; elsewhere it sometimes is, as in Hamlet's famous soliloquy beginning, 'To be or not to be.' "
Now, what underlay this view of Shakespeare is the following:
"We have elected to know the world through science, ... but science is only the cognitive department of our animal life, and by it we know the world only as a scheme of abstract conveniences. What we cannot know constitutionally as scientists is the world which is made up of whole and indefeasible objects, and this is the world which poetry recovers for us.
"Science gratifies a rational practical impulse and exhibits the minimum of perception. Art gratifies a perceptual impulse and exhibits the minimum of reason."
In case that wasn't clear, I'll read you, briefly, from a letter to his friend, Allen Tate:
"Biologically man is peculiar in that he must record and use his successive experiences; the beasts are not under this necessity; with them the experience is an end in itself, and takes care of itself."
Now, what I'll just ask you to think about is, what he is saying is that the role of poetry, of literature, of all art is to take that impulse toward reason, toward cognition, toward science, and make sure that it gets directed back, toward that part of you that you share with the beasts: The five senses, and you know which is the favorite, and the appetites.
The Global Empire
As I said, these fellows realized that some of their views were getting unpopular in the late 1930's. William Yandell Elliott, who at that point was the head of the Harvard Government Department, who had written a number of books including The New British Empire and The Need for Constitutional Reform, about the need to turn the United States into a government based on a permanent bureaucracy, tied to the nobility as was his beloved Britain, joined with another Agrarian, Herbert Agar, and also with Bertrand Russell's agent in the United States Robert Maynard Hutchins, and with a number of other people whom you would tend to identify as being sort of "leftist," like the novelist, Thomas Mann, in issuing a book in 1940, called The City of Man: A Declaration of World Democracy. This was an appeal for the United States to join the war effort in defense of beloved Britain, but only on very special terms. Namely, that the war be used to destroy all nations and to establish a new government of a particular sort.
Now, I'll read you a little bit from that. They say that the war must guarantee that, "the heresy of nationalism is conquered and the absurd architecture of the present world is finally dismantled." What they want to get away from are nations based on ideas and back to nations "rising from the natural conditions of each one's soil." They want to stop the "blind effect of the immaturity and overgrowth of the machine age."
Under whose authority should this new order be? Godzilla's. In this case, they name this authority the "Holy Ghost." They call the "Holy Ghost" the head of the new "religion of Democracy," and they quote scripture in defense of this view. They say, "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." They want a "New Testament of Americanism" in which all institutions must now be controlledóand they list them: Family, Education, Neighborhood, and Church, all must come under the dictatorial control of their new Holy Ghost, for the crime of "meddling in the anarchy of nations." This they refer to as the "pruning of the tree of freedom," in order to make it more fruitful. And they demand that this government be enforced by one military and police authority for the entire earth.
This is not a science fiction movie. This is something that was pushed by people. After the war, William Yandell Elliott served on Dwight Eisenhower's National Security Council, and he served on a number of commissions which helped reorganize the government, moving toward his kind of permanent bureaucracy, bringing in non-elected, extra-Constitutional bodies like the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, and others. This was something which was an active idea. To the extent that you know something about what is today called, "Project Democracy," and "Globalization," under which flag the United States, Britain, and allies will overthrow elected leaders like Fujimori of Peru, in the name of "Democracy," because he fought the drug trade. We will attempt to overthrow Mahathir of Malaysia because he attempted to defend the currency of his nation. This is an idea which is being put into practice.
Elliott: In His Own Words
Now, in a moment, I'm going to let you listen to what William Yandell Elliott said. What you're going to hear are remarks which he made to the Fugitive's Reunion in 1956, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. At that point, as I said, he was on Dwight Eisenhower's National Security Council. He was working very closely with his prime protégé, Dr. Henry Kissinger. He had co-authored with Kissinger Western Political Heritage, which had become the main Western Civilization text book for training all of Harvard's incoming freshmen. He and Kissinger together had hosted something called the Harvard International Summer Seminars which brought world leaders in, who showed some promise, in order to indoctrinate them. And, the Fugitives were often the people who were invited to be the guest lecturers at these seminars. Kissinger, up through 1963, as the host of these seminars continued to work directly with people like Allen Tate and Andrew Nelson Lytle who were brought in there. Elliott had founded a literary magazine, Confluence, to be edited by his protégé, Kissinger. Allen Tate, the Agrarian, served on the editorial board with him. Earlier, in remarks that I'm not going to play for you, Elliott said that he had often brought gatherings of Fugitives up to Harvard to do poetry programs.
Now, let's have the first segment of the tape:
"What Johnny Ransom did in this group, and I may be forgiven for speaking of it as one who certainly from the earliest time profited by his immediate friendship, as well as his teaching. It was to set a model of gentility and courtesy, of detachment, fairness, of absolute urbanity under all conditions, that made the exchanges that we had moderated by the most unprofessional moderator that ever successfully schooled a group of poets, and he's gone on schooling poets ever since, and schooling many another young man in the real aesthetics of the world, not those that are taught simply in books, but the feeling for beauty and language and for clarity and precision, and for all the other things that poets have come to cherish, largely because of Johnny's own example, the understatement, the lack of sentimentality, and yet the true and moving sentiment that has characterized his poems can best be judged if you listen to them, or if you read them. There's no use talking about them in other terms. Johnny today is a national and an international figure. He's been honored in many, many ways, but I suppose no honor has ever meant more to him than coming back here tonight, and I felt that in the words that he said so simply and rightly at the dinner this evening, given in his honor as much as any other person, or more, in the Fugitive group. We would all accord him that right."
That, of course, was Bill Elliott, and Johnny Crowe Ransom. This is John Crowe Ransom of God Without Thunder, John Crowe Ransom of "cognition is the biggest enemy in the history of the human race," about whom he's talking. Now let's hear the next segment:
"I can't forbear to mention the name of Sidney Hirsch, a mystic, philosopher, a rather unusual and well schooled man, whom we just forcibly captured and kidnapped today, in spite of all of his objections, and brought back to be a member of the group once more, and told him that we would not stand for any nonsense, that here he was, and whether he was on or off campus, he was a part of us, and so he is, and so he was, because he was one of the great philosophical forces, and surely one of the contributing forces to the Fugitive Group. This, I think we all cheerfully acknowledge, and we had what was a very much better session for his presence this afternoon. If Mohammed wouldn't come to the mountain, we just moved the mountain to come to the several Mohammeds who were glad to welcome him. And it was a very happy occasion for all of us to have him back."
Now that, of course is Sidney Hirsch, whom I've told you about. At the point when, as William Yandell Elliott said, he and others went to Sidney Hirsch's home and brought him backI've seen a published article on this, and interviewed some other people who were in Nashville at the timeSidney Hirsch lived alone. He had a club chair, an over-stuffed chair that he liked to sit on while he talked to guests. There was a human pelvis hanging from the ceiling above the chair, which he would stroke as he talked to them. There was a life-sized nude portrait of himself behind the chair, and his home was filled with various artifacts of oriental, mystical significance. Remember: just as William Yandell Elliott called Sidney Hirsch one of the most powerful intellectual influences on his life, Henry Kissinger said of William Yandell Elliott, that he owed more to him, "both intellectually and humanly," than any man he had known.
Let's hear the next segment.
"I could say things about Penn Warren and for that matter about Allen Tate, among the more sophisticated of our group. Allen has always been sophisticated. To a very great degree, he educated us all by introducing us to such unknown phenomenon as T. S. Eliot, and the "Wasteland" and the several by-paths of Malome, and to many other things that were quite unknown to the simple Tennesseans that we were then. It's true that many of us had been exposed in varying degrees during the War. We began before the War you know, as a group, but we went on after the War and published this little magazine. But, I think we owe, in a remarkable degree, to the precise, tight reasoning of Allen Tate, to the discipline of his own mind, and to the extraordinary sophistication of his knowledge of things, the kind of things that the Fugitives stand for. And today, Allen Tate too, as well as Johnny Ransom, is a national figure, respected for his contributions. He does go on writing poetry, I'm happy to say. One of the nicest things I've found in this thing is that some of the Fugitives do produce still."
Now that, of course, is Allen Tate, who, you will recall, is not top-heavy with learning he has no use of, so we have to ask what it was.
Let's listen to the next segment.
"And I see one of them sitting before me whom I hate to reveal and strip of his covert activity. Under the guise of a banker, he still writes very beautiful sonnets, Alec Stevenson. He had, perhaps, the most lyrical and genuine gift of any member of the group unless it be Don Davidson, whose ear for music was the equal of any member of the group's, and whose natural and beautiful poetry, found in an expression like 'Lee in the Mountain's,' Don Davidson's, 'Lee in the Mountains, 1865-1870,' one of the really great pieces, from my point of view that the Fugitives produced. So, these people, Don has been drawn into public affairs, in his own way, as I have in my own way. [laughter] I don't know how ardently he's still an Agrarian, but he's certainly still a conservative (intense laughter). And he has contributed very greatly to the feeling of the tradition of the 'Tall Men, the Tennesseans,' though he's a Georgian, and we love him."
Now, that's Donald Davidson, on the lower right (Figure 1). You might have noticed some laughter, and this will give you a lesson why it's sometimes important, particularly when listening to men in public affairs speak, to know what they're not saying, as the people laughing did, but many of you here did not. Donald Davidson, at that time, was a leader of the Tennessee White Citizens' Commissions. In other words, he was still a leader of the Ku Klux Klan fighting to maintain segregation. Interestingly, Donald Davidson's life's work, really, his most important written output was not poetry, it was not fiction. He wrote an awful novel about the Grand Ole Opry which was finally published about 30 years after he died. His most important literary output was a two-volume history of the Tennessee River, not of Tennessee, of the River, which was part of the campaign against the Tennessee Valley Authority, and which was part of the movement, which some of you may be familiar with, in the Northwest and elsewhere, to undam rivers in order to make them safe for the fishes and to stop man's relentless war against nature. So, there, you've got a great environmentalist, Ku Klux Klan hero. Now, let's hear the next one.
"I could, I suppose, single out Andrew Lytle too, another distant cousin of mineI just come to him next because he's sitting next to himóas a man who's gone on, after he ceased being a poet, though he still writes on the sly, as we all do, you know, some of the most brilliant novels the country has produced. I think this would be a judgment accorded him by one of the acknowledged great novelists of the country, Robert Penn Warren, who also writes today, and publishes, I'm happy to say, some of the most distinguished poetry that the country produces. Now, Penn Warren tells me that he's ceasing to be a professor at Yale and is going to be a professional man of letters. Now, he says this is a very natural choice, but having been a professor so long, I can tell you, I don't know how he faces shivering in the cold, cold world as a writer, unless it be the fact that he can sell the royalties on his books for some hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I suppose that he still continues to do that. You've all seen them, and I need add nothing about the quality and the remarkable perception of human nature that Penn Warren has done. To me, he's a Kentucky boy, deeply imbued with the tradition of the blue grass region, with a knowledge of the violence and the tragedy of human nature and a very deep understanding of many elements of its history."
Now, Andrew Nelson Lytle is not in the picture. This great novelist, of course, is Andrew Nelson Lytle of the "stinking like goats and running with lice." He's the Andrew Nelson Lytle of Bedford Forrest's Critter Company. He also, to give you an idea how this thing works, was the host, at his farm in Monteagle, Tennessee, of the founding meeting of a traditionalist Anglican association known as the Society for the Book of Common Prayer, which seeks to restore the beautiful, old liturgy of the Church. Cleanth Brooks, the Agrarian, was also present there, as was the homosexual poet, W. H. Auden. He also, in 1979, was one of the founders of the Southern Partisan, and remained an editorial advisor until his death in 1995. After his death, as a tribute to him, the Southern Partisan, which has been patronized, as you know, by our leading "Southern Strategy" Republicans like John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, and others, said that "Critter Company" was littachah on a par with Homer.
The Trilateral Commission
Just to wrap this up, William Yandell Elliott, I've said, was a prime mentor of Henry Kissinger. Another one of his proteges was Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the leading guru of Democratic Party foreign policy, the fellow that discovered Jimmy Carter, brought him into the Trilateral Commission, and made him President of the United States. Both Kissinger and Brzezinski are now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies together, which has been one of the major think-tanks in developing military and other foreign strategic policy for the so-called post-Cold War era. CSIS is the think tank that in the early Eighties brought together Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Brent Scowcroft and others of that ilk, to formulate what they called the "horses and rabbits strategy" (the strategy that says that the advanced nations are the horses, above the battle, and we have allies as well as enemies, who are the rabbits, who fight and die for us on the ground).
Before concluding, I want to remind you of a famous address made in furtherance of this strategy by Henry Kissinger, May 10, 1982 to the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Hopefully, you will recognize in this, his intellectual debt to the Fugitives and the Agrarians. What he said is:
"Many American leaders condemned Churchill as needlessly obsessed with power politics, too rigidly anti-Soviet, too colonialist, ... and too little interested in building the fundamentally new international order towards which American idealism has always tended.... The dispute was resolved according to American preferences.... in my view, to the detriment of postwar security.
"Fortunately, Britain had a decisive influence over America's rapid awakening to maturity in the years following. ...
"In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department."
So, there you have it. You may have to review some of the material, you may have to think about it, but what you've got, dominating the political thinking of both of our parties, of our educational, cultural, and entertainment institutions, and many of our religious institutionsparticularly many of our religious institutions that tend to be prominent in politicsis the idea that your mind, your ability to use your mind, in the way that we've been discusssing throughout this week-end, your cognitive capabilities, are an evil to be expirpated. And that you really would be much happier down on all fours like a dachsund, dragging your nose, sniffing for turds. If you think about it, I would imagine you would recognize that many of you, and many of the people that you know, psychologically, are in that state a lot of the time: keep your head down, keep out of trouble.
What I would propose is that you keep your head up, and keep in trouble. The air is a lot fresher, and you can see a lot further. So have fun.
Are we not human?