Liberals, Conservatives and the Written Word

May 12, 2002

by Bruce Walker

Big Brother, the mythical leader of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984 found books serious threats. Although people were not made intentionally illiterate, as in Fahrenheit 451, books were rare and most textual documents were routinely destroyed and replaced by new documents. Even more critically, many words were simply abolished and the meaning of words was consciously twisted. Modern liberals view written documents with unchanged meanings and the words in those documents with the same animosity that the Inner Party of Orwell’s classic did.

This fear and loathing appears in strange ways. Why are pornographers like Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt supporting the same political parties and candidates as radical feminists? Because pornographers deal in images rather than words, and feminists deal in emotions rather than words.

Why do conservatives dominate talk radio, the Internet, and the best selling book lists today? Because the values we hold dear do not change, the facts against which we judge events are grounded upon something beyond opinion and desire, and the principles which derive from these values and facts are internally consistent.

Does this mean that conservatives do not make bad value judgments, get facts wrong, or develop boneheaded policies from time to time? No, of course not. Imperfection is something which conservatives understand to be an absolute feature of life. The process of learning requires history, and history requires words.

The spoken word is a magnificent way to communicate with contemporaries within physical or electronic range of our voice, but the spoken word speaks poorly over the ages - we understand the impact of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Churchill’s great radio address in 1940 less by listening to them than by reading about the effect of these spoken words upon those ears which heard them.

Written words, by contrast, speak across centuries. So when we read Psalms or the beautiful beginnings of the Declaration of Independence or the writings of great modern men like Dr. Thomas Sowell or C.S. Lewis or George Orwell, simple text conveys the whole of the message. In these written words is an equality which has also terrified tyrants and monsters.

Ponder the liberating processes in human history. Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible, came out of the emancipating deeds of God in the lives of the Hebrews in Egypt. Even when smashed by Assyrian and Babylonian thug-kings, Torah itself remained indestructible. Through it, Jewish boys learned to read and to study. Even today, among devout Jews, when a son is said to be "studying" it means reading and analyzing these sacred books.

Ancient Greece and Rome both incorporated bits and pieces of what we treasure in politics. Each looked with special reverence to written laws publically displayed. Solon was the great Athenian lawgiver, not because of his wisdom in laws but because of his wisdom in reducing laws to writing, publishing the writing by physical inscription, and making those inscriptions the common property of all citizens.

The printing of large copies of bibles in colloquial languages did much more to liberate the peoples of Europe than any particular military victory or great orator. Through these bibles - the Geneva Bible, the Great Bible, and our beloved King James Bible - men and women learned to see themselves as equal creatures with kings and emperors.

Abraham Lincoln read books, especially the Bible, and from these he grounded himself firmly in those truths and ideas with which he would carry America through a withering storm. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln opens with a harkening back to words written eighty-seven years earlier by Thomas Jefferson. Writings - ever writings - have guided good men to great things.

The written word links us with all the lessons of history and checks the tendency to embellish or lie about events. Books, pamphlets, essays, and polemics live after the death of the author. They grant a dignity and a wisdom to the dead which all who live on the crest of the present too easily forget. Conservatives, who wish to listen to Amos and Adam Smith and who wish to speak to the world a century from now can do so with the written word.

Text has a way of preserving its meaning and message far longer than anything else created by man. Can we truly conceive of what life was like in the time of Shakespeare? Sanitation was almost unknown. Food was monotonous, mealy, and plain (recall that people travel across the globe to get pepper, cinnamon, gloves, and nutmeg). Death was all around. Messages took months to travel distances that take moments today.

Written words are the finest tools for logical thinking and preservation of factual accuracy that man has ever known. Although it is possible to lie with text, it is almost impossible to do so very long with much success. Pretty quickly, even the most subtle liar will get tripped up and pretend to not know what "is" is.

Contrast conservatives (by whatever name we have been called through the ages) with modern liberalism and its ancestors. What do liberals want? Images, pictures, and noise - whatever appeals to emotion over reason. Liberals accept the strange notion that "the camera never lies" but of course it does. Film-making and celebrity are drenched in rogue, camera angles, selective editing, background music, and a dozen other tricks are intended to present a case by means other than words - words, the great equalizer of mankind and the great guardian of integrity.

Liberals also try hard to twist, invent, and even abolish words. We no longer have "firemen" or "policemen" even though the term is very descriptive (the overwhelming majority of firefighters and police officers are men). This infamous "politically correct" lexicon has created a weird lexicon of foolish words and phrases like "morally challenged" and "differently abled" and created zany concepts like "homophobic" and "speciesism."

The left also tries to drown the substance of written words in oceans of drivel. Statutes, regulations, judicial opinions, and other writings produced by the left are intentionally complex and lengthy, as if making documents incomprehensible to ordinary people was evidence of intelligence and industry, rather than stupidity and sloth.

These modern liberals are actually members of an ancient type of oligarches: those who wish to crush the individual mind by depriving it of the tools needed to be free. These oligarches build giant monuments to proclaim the puniness of each of us in comparison to our governors. They created spectacles in the Coliseum, which over time grew more gruesome and more macabre, as a way to hypnotize the people of Rome and to keep them content with "bread and circuses."

In Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, they made wonderfully crafted films and magnificent gatherings, with the specific intention of consuming whole each person wrapped up in the choreographed Party rallies, so that even decent and educated Germans began to weep and scream "Heil Hitler!" Then they began to burn books.

One of the great embarrassments to the Soviet Union was that its art so closely resembled Nazi art and Fascist art, then when the labels fell off the sculpture or poster, it was impossible (without a swastika or hammer and sickle) to tell a strong Aryan couple looking toward the future from a strong Soviet couple looking toward another future.

There is within this very old ideology of what we call "liberalism" - whether it is found in decadent emperors like Caligula, in hate-mongers like Hitler, or in the Big Brother of 1984 - a common emotional component: pathological immaturity. Is this not precisely what we see in liberal Democrats today? They yawn while the leader of America speaks to the world about our war on terrorism. They sneak into the Oval Office and play "doctor" with younger children. They stand at the podium in presidential debates and talk down to us.

These childish adults do not read books; they watch television. They do not "get" talk radio because words are used to communicate information and ideas. They teach our children to "feel" rather than to "think" and dislike standardized tests (or any objective standards) because words cannot truly capture what they are attempting to reach.

They grow old not understanding how the wisdom of age has eluded them. They pant each day for news of the next great menace or newest villain to make their blood boil. All colored lights and loud noises, to drown out the words within them. Television, rock bands, movie glitz, new gadgets, splashy pictures of young girls on magazine covers - anything but words with permanent meaning.

These modern liberals are doomed, as much as anything else, by the horrifying boredom of existence without the blessing of meaningful words. They have chosen to lynch their own souls. Terrified of life; terrified of death; and terrified of truth, they seek to end purpose by smashing words.


Bruce Walker has been a dyed in the wool conservative since, as a sixth grader, he campaigned door to door for Barry Goldwater. Bruce has had almost two hundred published articles have appeared in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Law & Order, Legal Secretary Today, The Single Parent, Enter Stage Right, Citizen's View, The American Partisan, Port of Call, and several other professional and political periodicals.

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For more of Bruce's articles, visit his archives.

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