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The soul of ingratitude: Edmund Wilson
By Michael Moriarty
If there ever was an Emperor of Ingratitude born in America, if the legions of spoiled, thankless and malevolent intellectuals ever prayed for an American deity, the Devil obliged their call to him by coming up with you, Edmund Wilson. Not only have you zipped through and still are dancing your cold-blooded skis, in repeated editions of your work, through this faculty's little slalom runs, you have so surpassed their permanent admissions requirements with such flying colors that you are not only Dean but President of the entire American College of Marxists. Congratulations.
Your contempt for the very soil, people and freedom you were born, raised and elevated in is so infernally and permanently broadcast in your tribute to Marx, Lenin and Company, To the Finland Station, that I'm not sure where to begin describing my hangover from reading your Communist hagiography, your homage to mostly French intellectuals possessed by the same bottomless ingratitude as yours.
Your scant regard for Francois-Marie Brouet de Voltaire, the only truly human, wittily compassionate, incisively aware intellect of the period, is the most embarrassing omission in your entire history of French Revolutionary hell. In one phrase, Voltaire summed up the conglomerate soul of his colleagues. He called them "enlightened despots." That school of intellectual tyrants has, thanks to diabolical tributes such as yours, spawned thousands of misanthropic professors, fervent proselytizers of self-pity, revenge and cold-blooded tyranny. Ardent alumni from your university of death race off to climb the ladders of government, and internet their progress to kindred, so-called revolutionaries walking up and down upon the freedoms of now increasingly frail democracies. Every time I hear of William Clinton's next, so-called "Renaissance Weekend," I shudder.
The most telling omission, however, is your utter deconstruction-by-neglect of the most successful, long-lasting and generous uprising of the "People" in the history of mankind, the American Revolution. You erase it from history by not even mentioning it at all, and the miracle was going on at exactly the same time the French Proletariat were declaring graphically that the best solution to any problem in their "best-of-all-possible worlds" was a guillotine.
Now in its third copyright and umpteenth edition, To the Finland Station, as required reading not only in English-speaking history classes but philosophy departments as well, is the seminal inspiration for a psychopathic delusion floating through-out every major college and university in the world. Its rationales for murder and national suicide, nationalism being as great an enemy to these enlightened despots as the bourgeoisie, are breathtaking in their shamelessness.
Osama bin Laden's bloody idea of reality TV serves up the inevitable fruit salad rotting at the heart of your vision of history. Your own religion's mortal enemy, men and women of the middle class, are paying out thousands of dollars a year in college tuition fees to expose their sons and daughters to sermons preaching ingratitude and justifications for virtual patricide. Osama will first destroy his parents' friends and then come home to kill them.
Prof. Louis Menand's forward to the recent 2003 edition, as it dances around the undeniably atrocious, historical record of Leninism, reveals the key to your true feelings, Mr. Wilson: "….in every ideological formation, there is a flip side, a negative image of the dominant belief system, because belief systems depend on what they suppress, exclude and ignore…From one perspective, the outside -- the suppressed and excluded -- defines the inside. And every paradigm contains the seed of its own undoing, the limit-case ( I have no idea what corner of Mr. Menand's mind that "construct" comes from or even exactly what it means but, I assume, it refers generally to the preceding "limited-perfection", an oxymoron the 'post-moderns,' such as the late Jacque Derrida, are most passionately in love with) that, as it is approached, begins to unravel the whole construct."
Mr. Menand suggests that an awareness of this is a fruitful method of doing historical criticism. So if this "J'accuse" of mine has any historical relevance, its central question is how could anyone with a sincere revolutionary fervor write of the 18th Century upheavals in the human race without paying any attention, let alone tribute, to the American Revolution and its extraordinarily enduring documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights created by the heroic Founding Fathers of the United States Revolution?
My central answer to my central question is unequivocally that your revolutionary fervor, Mr. Wilson, carries not one ounce of sincerity in it and, like the men you so admire, is born of a selfishness, ingratitude and homocidal psychology that riddles the earth with millions of executed, starved and worked-to-death human beings in Hitler's death camps (Yes, the Third Reich was indisputably a socialist federation), Stalin's Purge (in an estimate by Canada's National Post newspaper, eighty million Russians died in it) Mao's Great Leap Forward (thirty million Chinese died from starvation) and subsequent and continuous genocides like Pol Pot's Killing Fields, Milosevic's "ethnic-cleansing," and the Janjaweed's purification of Arab tribes in the Sudan, going on now. These are the fruits of Marx and Lenin by which you shall know them, the exclusivity of your historical criticism by which we shall truly know you, Mr. Wilson. Mr. Menand's efforts to explain away your obvious, historical oversights and neglect, only reveal his own, I hope, failing efforts to cling to an intellectual faith that was proven bankrupt not only decades ago, but broadcast in previews two hundred and fifty years ago, during The Terrors of Paris, the disastrous love affairs with The Committee and Napoleon Bonaparte, and finally the outrageous efforts of socialists to distance themselves from the crimes of the socialist Third Reich.
The most famous, successful and, ironically, grateful disciple of yours has been William Jefferson Clinton, the soon to be Secretary General of the United Nations. No one in history, and, God willing, no one ever will, has taken the alchemical formula of Dialectical Materialism into such dizzyingly successful heights. He has really transformed it into a metaphysical strategy I call Trilectical Clintonianism.
The original dialectical composition of forces was the party of the first part, or the Thesisist, the party of the second part, the anti-thesist, and the third party of the Arbiter or Synthesist. Mr. Clinton's I.Q. began to synthesize at such a speed and at such an early stage of his career and with increasingly less inhibition and fewer moral qualms, that his own self-image as Master Synthesizer was brilliantly marketed by his propaganda minister, James Carville, into the Prince of Peace-Keeping. Ergo, we now have Trilectical Clintonianism which is, in short, whenever two or more are gathered around William Jefferson Clinton, the former President always ends up in charge. Christ has been thrown out of the board room entirely.
In a war between power and money, influence and material possessions, power and influence win every time. Clinton knows that and knew that long ago. It's the one ingredient of Christian metaphysics he's kept. Therefore, he changed Dialectical Materialism into Dialectical Powerism and, of course, the power always ends up in the lap of the Synthesist.
The former President's extraordinarily high I.Q., coupled with the revolutionary incestuous-ness and dialectical magic injected into him by your To the Finland Station, Mr. Wilson, has all but left the future of the human race almost entirely in his hands.
It is, I hope, like most bad luck, the last in the classic procession of bad luck three's. We had, among the major revolutionary survivors, Stalin, then Mao and now William Jefferson Clinton. What Great Leaps Forward he has planned for over six billion people is fairly predictable.
His acceleration of Darwin's Natural Selection process by use of stem cell, cloning and fetal tissue research is just a less prejudicial version of Adolph Hitler's dream of the perfect, Aryan human race. The impatience beneath it all is not only the first sign of a diabolical component but the harbinger of methods to deal with those who don't agree with either his tempo or methods of doing things.
Therefore, in the middle of his great scientific Leap Forward, there will be the inevitable purges attending it and, of course, the display of truly Wilsonian, revolutionary power. The armies of Napoleon, Stalin and Mao that still put a twinkle in the eyes of Parisians, Muscovites and the Red Chinese, are assembling under the United Nations and the European Union and have the human race simultaneously quaking in fear and hovering in breathless anticipation. It certainly won't be boring, Mr. Wilson; and if there's anyone we North Americans have to thank for it, it's you.
I reiterate, though, that the insidiousness of your contribution to the thanatos of the "collective unconscious," the suicidal instincts of the human race, can be measured by the depth of your ingratitude to your country, your parents and the Almighty Creator who, for some mysterious reason, wants us to see the anti-Christ, Karl Marx, and his preacher, W.J. Clinton, in full tilt. Therefore you have a small but questionably honored corner of the iceberg history freezes all the cold-blooded tyrants of history in. As I gaze at it in my mind's dye, I see your most unappealing, ugly, unsmiling and frozen face peering out from behind the icy thrones of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and, who knows, perhaps a Secretary General or two.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actor who has appeared in the landmark television series Law and Order, the mini-series Taken, and the recent TV-movie The 4400. In May, Moriarty won a Leo Award (celebrating excellence in British Columbia film) for best supporting actor for his role in the TV-movie Mob Princess.
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