Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And last eat up himself.
 
William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (I, iii,119-124)

Wolf.gif (c) Robert McGovernI am no prophet, at least not in the vulgar sense of the word. I’m not someone who by way of a crystal ball, or tea leaves or bird entrails can foretell the future. So, as of the time of this writing I cannot say whether President Clinton will be driven from office by his indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky or whether he will survive, with the aid of a compliant press, once again. Oracles thrive best on ambiguous statements, so when the great general went to the oracle at Delphi and asked how the battle was going to turn out, he was told "a great army will be defeated" without being told which army. He had to find out the hard way that it was his own.

But if a prophet is someone who can read the handwriting on the wall, which means the broad forces already working out their destiny according to the principles informing them, then the task is less onerous, because it doesn’t take a genius to see the consequences facing this nation over the Clinton crisis. In this respect the question of whether Clinton will survive is the least important issue. More important is whether the country will survive Clinton. Whether President Clinton urged a 24-year-old intern to lie is certainly significant, but it is less significant than whether he is asking the whole country to lie along with him.

The story is probably familiar enough to everyone by now. Linda Tripp, a career civil servant who first started working at the White House during the Bush administration, gradually got pulled into the net of deceit that Clinton had spun around himself trying to maintain his hold on power. Tripp saw a woman come out of Clinton’s office in disarray and later said that the woman had had a sexual encounter with the president, for which statement she was promptly denounced as a liar. She vowed not to be caught in the same trap twice, and started tape recording her conversations, and yet as the investigation in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case crept closer and closer, Tripp realized that she was in the classic bind always faced by underlings in immoral regimes. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t is how the proverb goes. If Tripp lied, as the administration had, and as it was pressuring its employees to do, she could be charged with perjury; however, if she told the truth, she would probably lose her job. It was a no win situation, and it was in many ways a paradigm for the meaning the Clinton Administration had for the entire country: Go along with the lie or be punished.

Tripp & LewinskiAnd so, trying to wriggle her way out of the dilemma, Tripp started to tape her conversations with Monica Lewinsky, the young lady she met when both women got transferred from the White House to the Pentagon. Lewinsky was in many ways the culture’s paradigm of the ideal [young] woman. She had no problem lying; she had no problem engaging perverse sexual activity, as long as it fostered her career, although there was that edge of disgust on the tapes and the residual contempt for the man, old enough to be her father, who would encourage this type of exploitative behavior. Lewinsky was also the paradigmatic feminist because she was willing to trade first sex and then complicity in a scheme to suppress the truth as a stepping stone to some job for which she was unqualified. She didn’t get the job at American Express because she couldn’t pass a rudimentary English test. The feminists, perhaps horrified at the face staring back at them in the mirror, headed for the tall grass, where most of them had been hiding ever since the Paula Jones case started moving through the courts. When one intrepid reporter finally caught up with former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder at her sinecure at Princeton University, the lady who manned the barricades over the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court opined lamely that there were only so many hours in the day, as her explanation for the absence of feminist support for Paula Jones.

The real answer was simpler: if you look as if you live in a trailer park, don’t expect support from the feminists. The facade of sexual solidarity, it turns out, was just that. The pretext that feminists spoke for women really meant that certain women were willing to function as the ladies’ auxiliary for the ruling class and its interests and quite willing in the end to offer up less important woman on the altar of that sacrifice. Shortly after Monica Lewinsky became a political liability, the same crowd that frothed at the mouth during the Clarence Thomas hearing about women’s rights and sexual harassment and those who impugned the motives of Anita Hill were now calling Miss Lewinsky, from behind the veil of anonymity, "a little nutty and a little slutty." As in the case of abortion — and l’affaire Lewinsky coincided uncannily with the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the lesson was all too obvious for those with eyes to see: the lusts of the powerful are more important than the lives of the weak. Monica Lewinsky was just a 24-year-old late term fetus thrown onto the garbage heap of sexual convenience, as the feminist looked the other way once again, because her case did not fit into their agenda.

Monica Lewinsky was just a 24-year-old late term fetus thrown onto the garbage heap of sexual convenience, as the feminists looked the other way once again, because her case did not fit into their agenda.

Since most of the talking class are feminists, it should come as no surprise that the columnists didn’t have muchto say either, even though they needed newspaper columns to make their cluelessness apparent. Columnist Ellen Goodman struggled valiantly with the fact that her favorite politician was engaged in behavior that would be grounds for lynching if perpetrated by someone at the other end of the political spectrum, and came up with the notion that American’s are now more "morally sophisticated" as the explanation, which is to say that they have stopped trying to believe that there should be some congruity between a person’s public and private life. Molly Ivins, another feminist columnist, not particularly inclined to all this ambivalence and agonizing about feminist lack of principle, had a simpler point to make: I, for one," she wrote in her column, "do not think that the president’s sex life has squat to do with his job."

And I, for one, think that Molly Ivins is being completely honest when she says this. If the big question mark when it comes to Bill Clinton is not his intelligence, but his honesty; the exact opposite is the case with Molly Ivins. Between the two of them, between a stultified talking class and the mendacious politicians who exploit them for their own ends, we have a major problem, and the problem which is moral at root, has grown so large it has created a political crisis in the highest office of the land.

Actually, after a while even the normally jocular Molly grows pensive for a moment or two and gives some indication that there might be some common denominator here between fidelity and the duties associated with leading a country. It used to be called integrity, but that was before sexual liberation wiped moral distinctions off the cultural map. "Of course, lying under oath is never a trivial matter," the unflappable Molly concedes in an uncharacteristically pensive moment:

...But the instinct to conceal sexual indiscretions is, at least, entirely human, and it’s not the kind of sin that we ordinarily associate with thunderous legalisms like ‘obstruction of justice.’

Not the kind of sin Molly associates it with anyway. The Thomistic tradition, which is to say, the classical tradition of moral thought in the West, has always claimed that lust, like ideas, has consequences. Lust according to the Angelic Doctor darkens the mind and divides the powers of the will. In the latter instance, Mr. Clinton has been lucky. His presidency has corresponded to a period characterized by unprecedented prosperity, at least for those who own large amounts of stock, and an absence of international crisis. As a result the only crises Clinton has had to face have been crises of his own making, brought on solely by his own sexual compulsions. Hilary, his wife, who has taken over the task of damage control in the White House, announced on a network talk show that her husband was the victim of a "vast right wing conspiracy," and the talking heads did nothing to challenge her.

Well, maybe so, but the only way a right wing conspiracy makes any sense in this context is one in which Jesse Helms or Jerry Falwell implanted a computer chip into the President’s brain which caused him to drop his pants whenever whoever was in charge of the VRWC pushed the button. Clinton’s adversity is clearly of his own making, and he hasn’t coped well even with that. Imagine, for a moment, that he were faced with a real crisis which required a clear mind to understand the situation and a determined will to see a solution through, and you have some sense of the peril in which this country finds itself. As it stands now, it looks as if the president is going to launch an attack on Iraq as a way of diverting the attention of the nation away from his sex life.

This shows definitively that life imitates art, in this case the movie Wag the Dog, but beyond that it shows that a man in the throes of lust is: 1.) never going to understand the situation and 2.) never going to have the fortitude to stay with a plan of action until the job is done. Foreign policy is now a function the president’s sex life because everything the president does is a function of his sex life. Compulsions have a way of taking over. At this point too, we need to make a distinction between sin, which is something everyone does, and depravity, which is the destruction of character which results from habitual sin and the equally habitual rationalization which follows from it. If we were talking about a sin which got repented with a firm purpose of amendment, it is unlikely that a special prosecutor could have proceeded so confidently on the assurance that some corroborating evidence would show up sooner or later. At the very moment that Clinton was denying his sexual harassment of Paula Jones— in the very same deposition, as a matter of fact—he was admitting his affair with Gennifer Flowers, which is to say admitting that he lied to the country six years earlier, and with the help of the press which supported his sexual liberationist agenda, got away with it.

Which indicates that Clinton is not alone here. He could never have gotten to where he is now without riding the ebb tide of sexual liberation. The fact that lust darkens the mind, adumbrated in some abstract way by the Angelic Doctor, becomes obvious in a particularly graphic way now anytime one picks up a newspaper. The best column in this regard was written by Patricia Smith of the Boston Globe, who gives some indication of how the talking class behaves on its off hours. After trivializing Clinton’s sexual exploits, Smith then tells us that

We all have secrets. The media will have a field day if I’m ever nominated for the Supreme Court. There’s the unfortunate “sniff this” episode; the pompon squad tryout fiasco; the fact that I have indeed inhaled—rather deeply—and I wouldn’t be afraid to admit it.

And who hasn’t at some time or another in their sexual history, found themselves sharing sweat and sleeping quarters with a no-no? Who hasn’t slept with the wrong one at the right time, the right one at the wrong time, or the absolutely wrong one at the definitely wrong time? And for heaven’s sake, who hasn’t engaged in a hasty two-minute encounter in a stall elevator in the Sears Tower?

The lesson here is clear. The talking class has adopted sexual liberation as its moral code. What they don’t understand, since this sort of behavior darkens the mind, is that the moral order is not like a supermarket shelf full of discrete items. It is a seamless garment, to appropriate a term from someone else. If you pull on one thread, you unravel the entire fabric.

The lesson here is clear. The talking class has adopted sexual liberation as its moral code.

For now it should be obvious that claiming that we’ve all had sex in stalled elevators has other consequences as well. This sort of behavior cuts the nerve of indignation. People in glass houses don’t throw stones, nor do they write columns calling for the impeachment of presidents who engage in the same kind of immoral behavior. If we think about it a little, we can understand why it is in the interest of the ruling class to promote sexual liberation as a way of consolidating its power. The people who engage in this type of behavior are besotted and stultified and unable to object to any violation of the law, moral or positive, because they themselves are unindicted co-conspirators in the same scheme.

Demos, which is the ancient Greek word for poor white trash, often has trouble thinking, especially when his mind has been darkened by sexual license, so he has recourse to the talking class, which does his thinking for him in terms that make no sense but which mirror the latest opinion polls and tells Demos what he wants to hear or what he needs to hear in order to make him comfortable in his subjugation. Demos, as usual, doesn’t get it when it comes to l’affaire Lewinsky. His understanding of the moral issue, as framed by the talking class, goes as follows: “If Clinton can get away with it, so can I.” Or as expressed in one Doonsebury strip: “Where can I get an intern?”

Demos as usual doesn’t get it, because he doesn’t see that the world is not just made up of people like him, even if the President of the United States does act like poor white trash. The Greeks were smart enough to see that the world was radically bifurcated into two classes; the aristoi, their word for the best, which at the time involved virtue, something related to manliness, vir in the Latin, and strength, and the polloi, the common man, from which we get the term hoi polloi. The aristoi, in keeping with the collapse of standards which followed from implementation of the Enlightenment, are now merely the rich. The English ideology, the rebirth of neoliberalism which the pope decried in Cuba, the ideology of laissez faire: all have decreed that government will be plutorcracy, which is to say, that it will serve the interests of the rich at the expense of the common good. Hoi Polloi are the rest of us. Aristotle could talk about whether men were slaves by nature or by law, but he never in his wildest dreams would imagine a world in which the great majority were not slaves whose lives were there principally to benefit those who were “free” because they owned them. The Clinton Administration, no matter what it calls itself, is based on these principles. The rich can do whatever they want. Their pleasure is more important that the poor man’s life, if he is a fetus, or his job if he is a worker, or his virtue if he is a woman. Money.gif (c) Robert McGovern

A fallen world always reverts to this configuration, and as a result Demos better get one thing straight. Bill Clinton may act like poor white trash but he is not one of them. Bill Clinton is part of the ruling class and one of the illusions they love to create is that they are just like the rest of us, which is not true. They are not like the rest of us because they are rich and/or powerful, and so when they urge Demos to break the moral law in the interest of some specious liberation they are really bringing about his enslavement.

Why? Because the moral law is the only thing that protects the poor. Because Demos is neither rich nor powerful, the only protection he has against the predations of the rich and the powerful is the law, which is to say the moral law and positive based on it. If he liberates himself from the moral law, he creates a society in which desire is the only measure of right and wrong. But a world like this, no matter what Demos thinks, is not democratic, because in the absence of moral order, the desires of the rich will always triumph over the desires of the weak and the poor. As I said before, this is the lesson of Roe v. Wade. The desires of the powerful are more important than the life of the weak. The same applies to the political world at large. A world without morals is a world in which the rich get to do whatever they want. In this the Clinton administration is the poor white trash version of the O. J. Simpson trial.

Demos got it wrong because he failed to understand that a world without morals is a radically two-tiered universe, power and wealth being the main distinction between these two groups. Demos is seduced into supporting sexual liberation with the promise that he can now do whatever he wants. This is followed by a momentary sense of intoxication, which is followed by a period of acting out his fantasies, which is followed by another more sobering thought: If I can do anything I want to them, Demos suddenly realizes, then they can do anything they want to me. It’s that simple. And suddenly we understand why horror is always the natural consequence of sexual liberation.

In towns like South Bend, Indiana this scenario usually plays itself out in the following way. During the midst of l’affaire Lewinsky, a 49-year-old woman shows up at the local bowling alley and guns down a 32-year-old woman and the 51-year-old man accompanying her. The 49-year-old woman, you have probably guessed by now, used to be the 51 year old’s wife. If he can abrogate the moral law by taking up with another woman, then why can’t she follow suit by shooting both of them? Needless to say, if the Clintons hadn’t ended up in the White House, one or the other of them would have probably been gunned down in a trailer park or the parking lot of a bowling alley by now too. But that only brings up a second point.

The general anarchy which sexual liberation brings about is a function of power. In the absence of morals, the rich will get away with murder because their desires are more powerful, and power in this context is the only measure of right and wrong. Either might makes right, or we are all bound by the terms of a moral order which is not of our making. There is no third alternative. If Demos abandons the moral order, he is ipso facto guaranteeing his subjugation because Demos is ipso facto neither rich nor powerful, simply by the fact that he is Demos.

Demos, after watching television all these years thinks that he is in the same class as the people who rule over him. He thinks he has the same prerogatives. The customer is king he is told as a way of convincing him to buy things he does not need. Seeing the gods of Hollywood and Washington acting like the gods which inhabited Olympus long ago, he feels that he too can ignore the moral order with impunity, until his ex-wife shows up in the parking lot of the bowling alley with a gun, like nemesis, to restore the order he spurned.

A world in which Bill Clinton is rewarded for lying, which is precisely the world we live in now, is not a world which will reward Demos for the same kind of behavior, because Demos is, as I said, ipso facto, not part of the ruling class. So once again, Demos gets it wrong. A world in which the ruler is rewarded for lying is a world in which his subjects can be punished for telling the truth. This is the lesson which Linda Tripp had to learn the hard way. She and Monica Lewinsky are expendable, and if we allow the Clintons and the ruling class they represent to continue their transvaluation of all values, we will become expendable too. This is the lesson this country needs to learn, fast and before it is too late. The only protection the poor will ever have on this earth is the moral law, enculturated as the basis for the positive law. The only way a nation can guarantee rights is in light of that moral order, and any nation which subverts that moral order can only propose force, which is the rule of the rich and the powerful as its substitute.

As anyone who has ever seen the Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life could testify, we now live in Pottersville, perhaps because someone committed suicide but more probably because too many people were seduced into thinking the benefits outweighed the drawbacks in a world without morals. Shakespeare must have been a prophet because he saw Pottersville 400 years before it came into existence. In Troilus and Cressida, Agamemnon talks about a world without degree, which is to say, a world without order—moral, political or musical. In this world, the rude son should strike his father dead, because right and wrong have been replaced by force as the sole arbiter of action:

Force should be right, or rather, right and wrong
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And last eat up himself.

Is that clear, Molly? Do we understand now the relationship between politics and morals? In a world run by the English Ideology, as ours is, money is the prime expression of force. The plutocrats want a world without borders, a world without government (or one in which government is the tool of their interests), and a world without morals, because all of these regulations impede the power their wealth can impose on the rest of us. Writing in the New York Post at the height of the scandal, Neal Travis said that New York’s "movers and shakers. . . see the Whitewater prober [Kenneth Starr] as a bumbling outsider who doesn’t understand how the world works." And how does the world work? "It’s all just business, power networking," said another tycoon. In other words, what do right and wrong matter in a case like this as long as the people on Wall Street are making money?

If right and wrong lose their names, force is all that is left, and in a world run by force, the rich will be rewarded for their vices every bit as conscientiously as the poor will be punished for their virtues. The lesson of the Clinton presidency and the O.J. Simpson trial, and Roe v. Wade and the sexual revolution which brought this regime to power in the ‘60s is very simple: the rich and the powerful can get away with murder. Demos goes along because his besotted mind is too darkened to understand that sexual liberation is a form of political control.

adams.jpgIt wasn’t always this way. John Adams, for one, understood that our constitution could not function in the absence of a moral people. The classical paradigm was still fresh in the mind of Adams and the other founding fathers. Democracy always led to tyranny because desires always got out of hand, and then order had to be restored from without. The only alternative to political control is self-control based on the moral law, which all men can discover but no man create or abrogate. The only protection a poor man has on this earth is the moral law, which binds both rich and poor, and allows a culture which is democratic in the best sense of the word. The alternative is the culture of death. A world without morals is a world without protection for the weak, where right and wrong are simply another word for the appetite of the powerful. That, by the way, is the best description of the perilous state this republic (or should I say empire?) has reached at the end of the 20th century.

Bill Clinton didn’t get to the White House on his own initiative, even though he is an ambitious man, and even if he is nowhere near as ambitious as his wife. He got to where he is by riding the ebb tide of moral decadence and representing all of the forces which have fostered this decline in their own interests. The fact that he has risen as far as he has from humble origins to being a Rhodes scholar to the Yale Law School to governor of Arkansas and then a president who can be literally caught with his pants down and still ride high in the opinion polls is at once an indictment of the sexual revolution as well as one of its major sequelae.

Let there be no mistake here: if he gets away with it, the country will have crossed a Rubicon of incalculable proportion.

E. Michael Jones is the editor of Culture Wars and the author of nine books. Monsters from the Id explores the connection between sex and horror and will be published by Spence Publishers, Dallas, Texas, in September 1998.


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