Safety net
Providence, RI
There are in these recent days at least three matters of great importance confronting my beloved land, The Assimilated Provinces of Megalomerica. They are related to one another. Indeed they must be related to one another, because in the APM, nothing is private, nothing is personal, nothing is parochial, nothing is local.
The first is that the Stupid Party seems poised to take over the Senate from the Evil Party. The Senate was named by our fore-parents for the Roman “senatus,” literally a gathering of old men. There are, however, no more old men in the APM. There are, rather, males who take synthetic hormones to power the winch, and who buy sophisticated exercise equipment to sculpt their inguinal muscles. They follow the advice of King Henry to his boon companion, Falstaff: Make less thy belly hence, and more thine abs. There are plenty of old females in the APM, touchy, meddlesome, cranky, and sour; many of these are genotypically female as well. One of them, barring a tornado in Kansas, may well end up being elected Resident, or, as some of her friends hope and her enemies fear, Queen. Some people indulge themselves in the fond dream that the Stupid Party will do a better job running the APM than has the Evil Party; it is like expecting that the merest flicker of a brain will change the dinosaur utterly, and keep it from doing what a dinosaur will do. Nevertheless, I am eager to welcome the news during the Octave of Election, that stupidity will have triumphed over evil. For I am a man of hope.
The second is that the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, With Turbans, threatens to sweep like wildfire over the lands of the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, Without Turbans. It is necessary to distinguish carefully between these two very different faiths. For the devotees of the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, With Turbans, the religion is the civil law. For the devotees of the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, Without Turbans, the civil law is the religion. The devotees of the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, With Turbans, believe that God may do what He pleases, even evil. The devotees of the Religion of Reductive Totalitarianism, Without Turbans, believe that Man may do what He pleases, even evil. The Sansturbanites are amiable, and will tolerate everything that they believe in; the Conturbanites are belligerent, and will not tolerate anything unless they believe in it. The Conturbanites want the world under one government, theirs, while the Sansturbanites want the world under one government, theirs. The worst of the Sansturbanites will suck out the brains of small children a-borning; the worst of the Conturbanites prefer to excise the entire head much later. All sensible people, of course, are pulling for the Sansturbanites to curb the Conturbanites, so that the world will be safe for Reductive Totalitarianism, rather than being subject to Reductive Totalitarianism.
The third is that there is a virus going around. The virus kills people. The Assimilated Provinces of Megalomerica had established, about a decade ago, a Viro-Czar, to protect public health by long-approved measures, such as granting a half a million dollars to find out why chimpanzees throw things. Now the rule of life in the APM is that enough is never enough. So, after having invited the virus into the APM, but only on the condition that it behave itself like a good resident alien and not go around infecting people, the old Viro-Czar has had to be superseded by a Megaloviro-Czar. This new Caesar Caesarum has had plenty of experience in these matters, having spent a whole year passing out cigars to customers coming out of a porn shop, and another year working for the election of his boss, the current Resident. People have grown suspicious of the incompetence of the Resident and the Evil Party, believing that something as vast as the Assimilated Provinces of Megalomerica, they that once shot a man to the moon, should surely be able to stamp out something as teeny as a virus. Why should there be gaps in the Great Safety Net? Why should the pimple on the flea on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea escape the notice of the All-Seeing and All-Powerful Resident, and his friends in the Evil Party?
All these things are related, as I say, because everyone knows that Megalopolitics Solves Everything. If you are out of work, if your nose is stuffed, if your underpants are soiled, if your dog snarls at you, if you are stupid because you have read no good books, if you are evil because you have read no Good Book, if you are ninety years old and can’t get any girls, if you are a girl who thinks she’s a boy, or a peasant who thinks he’s the King of Siam, then you should call your nearest Megalopolitician, and Get Something Done. This is especially true for single females, because, as everyone knows, there are no differences between females and males.
So we are waiting to see what will happen. Will mendacity win out over incompetence? Will the dinosaur lurch to the left or the right?
Will its brain be the size of a chickpea, or a chokecherry? Will we be proletarians or serfs? Will we be free for debauchery? Will we obey a vast bureaucracy with the power to garnish our wages and seize our homes? Or will we submit to the whip? Will our music be atonal grunting, or will it be atonal yodeling? Will a man’s home be his medieval dungeon, or will it be his modern cell?
The moment of decision draws near.
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Anthony Esolen is Distinguished Professor at Thales College and the author or translator of 28 books, on literature, culture, and the Christian faith, among them the three-volume Modern Library translation of The Divine Comedy, and, most recently, In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John (Angelico Press). He and his wife Debra also produce a web magazine, Word and Song, dedicated to a revival of interest in the good, the true, and the beautiful, through traditional hymns, poetry, classic films, popular music from its golden age, and the quirky history of the English language.


  1. Thank you, Oh Anthony, the “All-Seeing” scholar, for opening my nostrils on this Monday morning. Seldom is cologne, eau de Pompous, worn so strongly.
    God is proud of you, undoubtably.

  2. Mr. L-K, a true believer in Megalopolitics, speaks. I can’t take Megalopolitics too seriously anymore; it is mad, quite mad. Take the economic collapse circa 2008. It was largely the result of lending policies that the Evil Party had long before supported, even demanded, at the point of a regulatory gun. The same policies had been encouraged by some members of the Stupid Party, who believed that Ownership of Homes would magically transform the irresponsible into the responsible. Both the Evil Party and the Stupid Party believed in the power of Dollars, or Sheer Material Stuff, and did not consider such things as culture and virtue. When some in the Stupid Party began to sound warnings that the “predatory” loans were going to sink the federally-backed pseudo-private clearinghouses that backed them, some in the Evil Party accused them of Racism, that stopper of all conversation. So the members of the Stupid Party backed down, and the collapse occurred.

    This is a site devoted to the quixotic view that ordinary people in their own locales can deal with most of their affairs by themselves, coming together to secure what they see as the common good, without diktats coming their way from on high. The reason for the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity, which says that those groups that are smallest and nearest to the situation should be entrusted to take care of it first, is not simply that it works well. It does; but more than that, it honors the human being in his true political capacity. There is no reason why bands of bureaucrats, whether of the Stupid Party or the Evil Party, should have any say at all, from thousands of miles away, in how the people of Anytown teach their own children.

    The problem with each party right now is that it attributes its own disease to the other; so people in the Stupid Party believe that people in the Evil Party are stupid, and people in the Evil Party believe that people in the Stupid Party are evil. The truth is that people in both parties, in the upper echelons certainly and also much lower down, are of limited intelligence and unreliable virtue and unruly passions; they are human. They have colluded and they still collude in building the Megalopolitical State, which no human being and no party of human beings can possibly run. Time for a new Magna Carta — for a new home rule.

  3. I nearly blew my coffee out my nose, just now: This article should come with a warning label not to eat or drink while reading it. I gave up voting in national elections a while back, a decision which was equal parts MacIntyre and genetic Scandinavian pessimism. People sometimes criticize me for doing this (and maybe they’re right, to be fair…). Now I’ve got ammo for return fire.

  4. Interesting how any folks who dare take a step back and look at our decaying culture from a position outside the tired left/right binary are considered “pompous.” Makes you wonder why their critics are so tetchy.

  5. Dennis Jamison quotes these passages from George Washington’s Farewell Address in his March 9, 2012, Washington Times article “George Washington’s views on political parties in America”:

    “The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

    “Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    “It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

    I’m sure that most readers of this site are familiar with those words. I found it refreshing to have been reminded of them when I did a little research after reading Professor Esolen’s essay. How far we have strayed from our path.

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