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The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase

 
Anonymous Coward
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02/15/2007 09:39 PM
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The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase
The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase

by Shawna Fleming

One of the advantages of having been a shy and somewhat geeky child--especially at a time when 10-year-olds did NOT carry dayplanners and have every waking moment crammed with planned activities from soccer camp to "play dates"--is that I actually spent unstructured time alone, thinking.

Among the mysteries I pondered was the question of "how grown-ups think."

For I assumed they did: they were older and wiser, and understood things like the stock market, mortgages, and the Electoral College. They had seen immeasurably more of the world than I, and wasn't it true that the more you see, the more you know?

Yet therein lay the rub. It became clear that two grown-ups could view the same phenomena, yet draw completely opposite conclusions about it. The maxim "seeing is believing" seemed, in fact, to be only theoretically, rather than functionally, true.

This was my earliest experience with communism and the Cold War.

I knew, early on, that many of the adults in my world (my parents and pastor excepted) did not think communism was all that bad, something I found bewildering. I knew that millions--tens of millions--had died under communist regimes. I knew about the prison camps; I knew they were filled with men and women whose only crimes were to worship God, criticize the government, listen to foreign radio broadcasts, practice a kind of stealth free enterprise to avoid starvation when inclement weather and central planning screw-ups led to food shortages, and sometimes, just to be the "enemy" du jour: a kulak, an Uzbek, any educated Cambodian, or (the enemy for all seasons) a Jew. I knew, further, that many of these officially-designated "criminals" were tortured and killed with a brutality and malice that frequently beggared description. I mean, really: how much more did these people have to do to convince the average Westerner that communism was evil?

This led me to wonder: were some people just mentally "short-sighted," as I was physically so, with everything outside their day-to-day experience fading into an undifferentiated blur? Were others simply selective and self-justifying viewers, like the mother of the neighborhood bully, who could see only a brilliant, yet misunderstood victim of his peers' "insensitivity," while the rest of us saw a spoiled, ill-tempered lout?

It took me years to realize that another factor was at play as well. I began to see that conceptual error (i.e., being taught a faulty view of the world) can lead to perceptual ones; namely, one "sees" phenomena through a particularly-colored lens; or to use another metaphor, any information stream entering your mind tends to flow into the same conceptual rut. If you are predisposed to believe that communism is a noble ideal gone tragically wrong in the hands of sociopaths like Stalin and Mao, then gulags, arms treaty violations, and video clips of tanks rolling over students in Tienamen Square will do next to nothing to change your mind about it. Perception, in such a case, has no power to alter conception.

Case in point: during the Vietnam war years, I was the only kid I knew who thought U.S. involvement in Vietnam was neither misbegotten nor outright evil, but rather, necessary. It seemed of a piece with our roles in both world wars and in Korea:

1. An initial unwillingness to become entangled in conflicts far from our shores.

2. The recognition that appeasing or simply ignoring the predations of tyrants would eventually bring the fight closer to home, making engagement inevitable.

3. The reluctant decision to commit ourselves to push back the encroachments of tyranny at enormous cost in "blood, sweat, and tears."

The idea that the U.S. was ravaging the Vietnamese countryside like Genghis Khan in a cowboy hat, all for the sheer savage joy of "imperialist" conquest, was laughable, as was the notion that our exit from the Indochinese stage would open the way for "self-determination" by the Vietnamese people: since when had Russia and China, the twin 500-lb. gorillas behind Ho Chi Minh's "national liberation movement," ever allowed one of their client states to choose any system other than communism?

Equally mystifying was the all-pervasive sneer by academia and the media at the idea of "the domino theory," an attitude adopted by most of my teachers (and all of my peers). Wait a minute, I thought: all sorts of countries from Eastern Europe to the Caribbean have been dropping like flies to communism for the past 30 years; that's more back-up than the evolutionary theory will ever have, and everyone expects me to believe in that! Just what is it about flesh-and-blood, documented history that these people do not seem to understand?

Lacking both the experience and perspective of age, I did not yet grasp the power of ideology to selectively "edit" history into a politically-correct propaganda film, to regard human nature as infinitely pliable and human beings as glorified lab rats in a continuing social experiment, and to deconstruct reality into inert data that can be reframed and reinterpreted at will. I did not, in other words, realize how ruinously the Left had already subverted academia and the media, slowly, poisonously undermining our love of liberty and country so that we began to feel there was something vaguely shameful about defending them.

It was years down the road before I realized that the habit of sight is not a universal birthright, but rather a function of character and education. As C.S. Lewis observed in The Magician's Nephew, " . . . what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are."

Fast forward to January, 2003. I'd left a 20-year career in classroom teaching, in part due to sheer physical exhaustion brought on by overwork and chronic sleep deprivation. But even more crucial to my decision was the conviction that I could no longer continue in a system that not only didn't work as advertised, but actually seemed to make kids more ignorant and intellectually dishonest than they were when they first walked in the schoolhouse door. They could become more indignant about George Washington having been a slave holder (which was practically all they knew about him) or Rosa Parks being told to sit in the back of a bus, than they could about Pol Pot's genocide or Stalin's purges. Hitler's responsibility for six million deaths awakened pity and outrage; yet when I told the same kids that the death toll for Mao's Cultural Revolution was about 10 times higher, I was met with a kind of blank incredulity; they did not dispute what I'd said, but neither did it particularly interest them. Anti-communism was so dissonant with the conception of the world imparted to them by parents, teachers, and the popular media that the facts themselves had no power to persuade.

I took a job at a local tutoring center, and though barely getting by financially, was reasonably content: I'd heeded the demands of conscience, and finally had the time--as I had not since childhood--to think and read and write and think some more.

I bought J.R. Nyquist's Origins of the Fourth World War purely on impulse--then read it straight through, three times in a row, over a period of about two weeks.

That it had "the ring of truth" would be a pallid and inadequate way of expressing the profound effect the book had on me then, and still does today.

For one thing, this was a man who had something I thought I'd lost forever: the habit of sight, honed by years of disciplined study and reflection--and something equally important. In the words of "the young man" (no doubt Nyquist himself) to his professor, who has advised him to "learn how to think": "Thinking is not merely a matter of method, but of character. . . It is a predisposition in favor of clarity. . . the primary requisites of thinking are courage and independence." (pp. 123-124, Origins)

The capacity to see not merely disembodied facts, but the inescapable and often terrifying meaning behind them, requires a willingness to behave as if the truth matters, risking censure, ridicule, and rejection by peers and pundits, friends and family.

Clarity comes at a high price, and he has paid it, again and again.

He could not view the 94% accuracy rate of Russian defector Anatoliy Golitsyn's projections in New Lies for Old and yet discount as paranoid delusion (as most "experts" did) Golitsyn's thesis: i.e. that the Soviet Union had a secret long-term strategy to disarm and defeat the United States through a stage-managed, faux collapse of the Soviet empire.

He could not ignore the uncanny resemblance of the 1991 implosion of Eastern European communism to Lenin's NEP, "a calculated return to capitalism for the purpose of reviving a collapsed socialist economy . . . scripted to gain financial advantages while avoiding an internal explosion from the discontented Russian masses." (Origins, p. 6-7)

He could not pretend, despite the confident predictions of its demise over the past seven decades, that communism has not marched inexorably on, the "Domino Theory" becoming "Domino History" as more and more nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America fell (and are falling still) into its camp. And he could not fail to see that, in classic "meet the new boss--same as the old boss" fashion, the usual suspects (Party leaders, secret police officers and informants) are still occupying the driver's seat in the "former" Eastern Bloc, making sure all records of their pre-"collapse" activities are sealed and all the levers of power still in their blood-stained hands.

In what other "revolution" in history have tyrants and torturers, with only a simple change in nomenclature and public relations spin, avoided being tried for their crimes and been permitted to remain in power?

"Revolution" means an "overturning." Just what, exactly, has been "overturned"?

While observing that "treaties are only as good as the intentions of their signatories," Nyquist devoted an entire chapter to Russia's long history of treaty violations, proving with devastating logic that her sole reason for signing arms control/reduction agreements at all has been to ensure U.S. disarmament, while she continues to obstruct nearly all Western attempts to verify her own compliance--and goes on producing newer and deadlier nuclear and bio/chem weapons.

And just as damning to the Velvet Revolution theory of Soviet-bloc communism's bloodless demise is the record of centuries, not just the past 100 years.

Nyquist saw clearly history's timeless lessons about human nature, the inevitability of war, and the institutions proven to be most effective in preserving Western Civilization itself. His was not the foreshorted, self-interested view of the utopian idealist, the live-for-today hedonist, or the every-man-has-his-price capitalist. His was the long view of the historian, the seasoned analysis of the trained sociologist, and the uncompromising vision of the prophet.

For the Old Testament prophets were not primarily mystics, but watchmen, warning ancient Israel of the utterly logical and foreseeable consequences of its corruption and folly, speaking to the remnant, hidden among the heedless many, who would actually listen and learn. "One might add," Nyquist reflects, "that the prophet also accomplishes his task by speaking posthumously; in other words, after one's own death and after the death of the age, in a voice designed to penetrate the ears of future time. . . the substance of prophecy is not merely that it predicts the future, but that it has special meaning for the future; because a prophet, proved by history, becomes an indisputable source of authoritative wisdom for posterity. And posterity, emerging from the flames of holocaust or captivity, is sometimes improved by a meditation on wrong turns taken, opportunities missed, on truth and consequences. . . He reminds them that
history makes sense, and that there is justice in it . . ." (Origins, p. 180)

And this is why, in the end, I have found the TFP perspective not a message of doom-and-gloom despair, but rather a clear-eyed and bracing call-to-arms, engendering the martial, indomitable hope of the soldier who has got the enemy's number, knows what he has to do to defeat him, and can't wait to get started.

When "history makes sense," you no longer feel like a helpless victim of incomprehensible and overwhelming forces: you are free to see, to join with others who have developed the habit of sight--and then to act.
Anonymous Coward
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02/15/2007 09:45 PM
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Re: The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase
The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase

 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 196132


Here's a gun. Here's your uniform. Now go spill YOUR blood for your jewish friends.

Just don't include MY KIDS in your insane fanstasies.

Because if you do, one day I shall be coming after you, LOCKED AND LOADED!
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 196132
United Kingdom
02/15/2007 10:07 PM
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Re: The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase
Just don't include MY KIDS in your insane fanstasies.


And why do you consider this scenario insane?

What has this got to do with the jews anyway?
D. Bunker ™Moderator
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User ID: 193531
United States
02/15/2007 10:12 PM

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Re: The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase
Just don't include MY KIDS in your insane fanstasies.


And why do you consider this scenario insane?

What has this got to do with the jews anyway?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 196132



1. I doubt the person even read the post
2. I doubt the individual has read any of Nyquist work or has any idea regarding Anatoly Golytsin.
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 653234
United States
06/23/2009 07:24 PM
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Re: The Habit of Sight: How I Came to The Final Phase
What has this got to do with the jews anyway?



1. I doubt the person even read the post
2. I doubt the individual has read any of Nyquist work or has any idea regarding Anatoly Golytsin.
 Quoting: D. Bunker ™


Hey Doc, thanks for clarifying!

Actually I own the book OP mentions. The book is about contemplation of global atomic warfare. "The Jews" are not mentioned as the author is actually an excellent thinker. I enjoyed reading his book.


[link to www.jrnyquist.com]

"My friend Jeff Nyquist's book, the Origins of the Fourth World War, is a brilliant result of long term and very professional geo-political research and analysis. His book is based on real facts and information connected with current international developments. Without any exaggerations, it's possible to compare the results of Jeff's work with an intelligence agency or a serious think tank's research and analysis during many months. His book is very important for the national security of America and needs to be used for the protection of the United States from current and prospective dangers."

Colonel Stanislav Lunev, Russian GRU defector

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