Abstract Normalities - Poetry by Sarah Kerns

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I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one. In , just two years after its publication, The Fountainhead sold , copies. In , the year Atlas Shrugged was published, it sat on the New York Times bestseller list for twenty-one weeks. She falsely claimed that twelve publishers rejected The Fountainhead before it found a home. She styled herself the victim of a terrible but necessary isolation, claiming that "all achievement and progress has been accomplished, not just by men of ability and certainly not by groups of men, but by a struggle between man and mob.

Each of her two most famous novels gives its estranged hero an opportunity to defend himself in a lengthy speech before the untutored and the unlettered. In each instance, the hero is understood, his genius acclaimed, his alienation resolved. It is between the demigod-creator and all those unproductive elements of society—the intellectuals, bureaucrats, and middlemen—that stand between him and the masses.

Aesthetically, this makes for kitsch; politically, it bends toward fascism. She was born on February 2, three weeks after the failed revolution of Her parents were Jewish. They lived in Saint Petersburg, a city long governed by hatred of the Jews. By , its register of antisemitic restrictions ran to nearly 1, pages, including one statute limiting Jews to no more than 2 percent of the population.

They named her Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum. Her mother said no. She asked for a cup of tea like the one being served to the grown-ups. Again her mother said no. She wondered why she couldn't have what she wanted. Someday, she vowed, she would. In later life, Rand would make much of this experience.

Sarah Kay performs "Ghost Ship" from "No Matter the Wreckage"

There's the focus on a single incident as portent or precipitant of dramatic fate. What child, after all, hasn't bridled at being denied what she wants? Not her opinions or tastes, which were middlebrow and conventional. Rand claimed Victor Hugo as her primary inspiration in matters of fiction; Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac was another touchstone.

She deemed Rachmaninoff superior to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Mann, Rand thought, was the inferior author, as was Solzhenitsyn. True, she tended toward the cartoonish and the grandiose. She told Nathaniel Branden, her much younger lover and disciple of many years, that he should desire her even if she were eighty and in a wheelchair.

Her essays often quote Galt's speeches as if the character were a real person, a philosopher on the order of Plato or Kant. She got a college education thanks to the Russian Revolution, which opened universities to women and Jews and, once the Bolsheviks had seized power, made tuition free. Librarians at the New York Public Library assisted her with the research for The Fountainhead , 15 Still, her narcissism was probably no greater—and certainly no less sustaining—than that of your run-of-the-mill struggling author. No, what truly distinguished Rand was her ability to translate her sense of self into reality, to will her imagined identity into material fact.

Or little James Ramsay, who seems to have acquired more psychic depth in his six years than any of Rand's protagonists, male or female, demonstrate throughout their entire lives? For where else but in the dream factory could Rand have learned how to make dreams—about America, capitalism, and herself? Even before she was in Hollywood, Rand was of Hollywood. In alone, she saw movies. She was discovered by Cecil B.

DeMille, who saw her mooning about his studio looking for work. Intrigued by her intense gaze, he gave her a ride in his car and a job as an extra, which she quickly turned into a screenwriting gig. Within a few years her scripts were attracting attention from major players, prompting one newspaper to run a story with the headline "Russian Girl Finds End of Rainbow in Hollywood. But unlike Fritz Lang, Hanns Eisler, and all the other exiles in paradise, Rand did not escape to Hollywood; she went there willingly, eagerly. Billy Wilder arrived and shrugged his shoulders; Rand came on bended knee.

Ayan Rand was Norma Desmond in reverse: she was small; it was the pictures that got big. When playing the part of the Philosopher, Rand liked to claim Aristotle as her tutor. One alleged Aristotelianism Rand was fond of citing did appear, complete with false attribution, in the autobiography of Albert Jay Nock, an influential libertarian from the New Deal era.

None have been odder than this sacramental alliance, so to speak, of Aristotle with Adam Smith.


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They cannot establish truth. Aristotle had a distinctive approach to morality, quite out of keeping with modern sensibilities; and while Rand had some awareness of its distinctiveness, its substance seems to have been lost on her. Once there, we are inspired and equipped to scale these lower heights, whence we move onto the higher reaches.

That coincidence of thought and feeling, reason and desire, is achieved over a lifetime of virtuous deeds. If Kant is an athlete of the moral life, Aristotle is its virtuoso. Rand, by contrast, is a melodramatist of the moral life. Because he refuses to submit to architectural conventions, Roark winds up splitting rocks in a quarry.

Peter Keating, Roark's doppelganger, betrays everyone, including himself, and is the toast of the town. Ultimately, of course, the distribution of rewards and punishments will reverse: Roark is happy, Keating miserable. But ultimately is always and inevitably a long way off. In her essays, Rand seeks to apply to this imagery a superficial Aristotelian gloss.

She, too, roots her ethics in human nature and refuses to draw a distinction between self-interest and the good, between ethical conduct and desire or need. But Rand's metric of good and evil, virtue and vice, is not happiness or flourishing. It is the stern and stark exigencies of life and death. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist.

Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. It is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil. That would be too pedestrian. For him life is a fact for her it is a question, and that very question is what makes life, on its own, such an object and source of reflection.

What gives life value is the ever-present possibility that it might and one day will end. Rand never speaks of life as a given or ground. It is a conditional, a choice we must make, not once but again and again. Death casts a pall, lending our days an urgency and weight they otherwise would lack. It demands wakefulness, an alertness to the fatefulness of each and every moment. It makes our choices—not just the big ones but the little ones we make every day, every second—matter. Far from being exhausting or enervating, such an existence, at least to Rand and her characters, is enlivening and exciting.

If this idea has any moral resonance, it will be heard not in the writings of Aristotle nor in the superficially similar existentialism of Sartre, but in the drill march of fascism. Whatever is injurious to it and its struggle for existence is evil and must be removed and eliminated. But if we strip the pronoun of its antecedent—and listen for the background hum of Sein oder Nicht- sein, preservation versus elimination—the similarities between the moral syntax of Randianism and of fascism become clear.

Rand, no doubt, would object to the comparison. There is, after all, a difference between the individual and the collective. Rand thought the former an existential fundament, the latter—whether it took the form of a class, race, or nation—a moral monstrosity. And where Goebbels talked of violence and war, Rand spoke of commerce and trade, production and economy. But fascism is hardly hostile to the heroic individual. That individual, moreover, often finds his deepest calling in economic activity. Here is Hitler speaking to a group of industrialists in Dtissel- dorf in You maintain, gentlemen, that the German economy must be constructed on the basis of private property.

Capitalism is the one system that acknowledges and incorporates this dictate of nature. All the worldly goods we possess we owe to the struggle of the select few. It is the members of this exceptional minority who lift the whole of a free society to the level of their own achievements, while rising further and ever further.

The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all their brains. To find Rand in such company should come as no surprise, for she and the Nazis share a patrimony in the vulgar Nietzschean- ism that has stalked the radical right, whether in its libertarian or fascist variants, since the early part of the twentieth century. As both of her biographers show, Nietzsche exerted an early grip on Rand that never really loosened. Know what you want and do it. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it, every minute of the day All will and all control.

Send everything else to hell! The murderer, said Rand, "is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness—resulting from the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling.


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  • He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning or importance of other people. Joseph de Maistre was one of the first. Before there was religion or even morality, there was the sense and sensibility of the master class. The master looked upon his body—its strength and beauty, its demonstrated excellence and reserves of power—and saw and said that it was good.

    The slave never looked upon himself: he was consumed by envy of and resentment toward his master. Too weak to act upon his rage and take revenge, he launched a quiet but lethal revolt of the mind. He called all the master's attributes—power, indifference to suffering, thoughtless cruelty—evil. He spoke of his own attributes—meekness, humility, forbearance—as good. He devised a religion that made selfishness and self-concern a sin, and compassion and concern for others the path to salvation. More than , copies of her novels were sold in alone; as Burns rightly notes, "Rand is a more active presence in American culture now than she was during her lifetime.

    If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? That was Glenn Beck on his March 2, radio show, taking a stand against, well, pretty much every church in the Christian faith: Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist—even his very own Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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    Not an entity, but a relation. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. We possess an entire literature, from Melville to Mamet, devoted to the con man and the hustler, and it's tempting to see Rand as one of the many fakes and frauds who periodically light up the American landscape.

    But that temptation should be resisted. Rand represents something different, more unsettling. The con man is a liar who can ascertain the truth of things, often better than the rest of us.

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    He has to: if he is going to fleece his mark, he has to know who the mark is and who the mark would like to be. Working in that netherworld between fact and fantasy, the con man can gild the lily only if he sees the lily for what it is. But Rand had no desire to gild anything.

    The gilded lily was reality. What was there to add? She even sported a lapel pin to make the point: made of gold and fashioned in the shape of a dollar sign, it was bling of the most literal sort. You claim to stand for freedom, but it is only the freedom of the strong to dominate the weak. If you wish to live up to your principles, you must give way to their demiurge. Allow the dispossessed to assume power, and the ideal will be made real, the metaphor will be made material.

    Rand believed that this meeting of heaven and earth could be arranged by other means. Rather than remake the world in the image of paradise, she looked for paradise in an image of the world. Political transformation wasn't necessary. Transubstantiation was enough. Say a few words, wave your hands and the ideal is real, the metaphor material. An idealist of the most primitive sort, Rand took a century of socialist dichotomies and flattened them. Far from needing explanation, her success explains itself. Rand worked in that quintessential American proving ground—alongside the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Glenn Beck—where garbage achieves gravitas and bullshit gets blessed.

    There she learned that dreams don't come true. They are true. Bruce J. Schulman and Julian E. Zelizer Cambridge, Mass. A sense of exclusion has haunted the movement from the beginning, when emigres fled the French Revolution and Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre took up their cause. Born in the shadow of loss—of property, standing, memory, inheritance, a place in the sun—conservatism remains a gathering of fugitives. Even when assured of his position, the conservative plays the truant. Whether instrumental or sincere, this fusion of pariah and power is one of the sources of his appeal.

    As William F. Conservatives have asked us not to obey them, but to feel sorry for them—or to obey them because we feel sorry for them. Burke saw in her fall an archetype of classical tragedy, the great person laid low by fortune. But in tragedy, the most any hero can hope for is to understand his fate: the wheel of time cannot be reversed; suffering cannot be undone. Conservatives, however, are not content with illumination. Identifying as victims, they become the ultimate moderns, adept competitors in a political marketplace where rights and their divestiture are prized commodities.

    Reformers and radicals must convince the subordinated and disenfranchised that they have rights and power. Conservatives are different. They are aggrieved and entitled—aggrieved because entitled—and already convinced of the righteousness of their cause and the inevitability of its triumph. Whether we are rich or poor or somewhere in between, the conservative is, as Hugo Young said of Maggie Thatcher, one of us. By making privilege democratic and democracy aristocratic. There, ordinary men, and sometimes women, get to play the part of little lords and ladies, supervising their underlings as if they all belong to a feudal estate.

    Making privilege palatable to the masses is a permanent project of conservatism; but each generation must tailor that project to fit the contour of its times. Political movements often have to convince their followers that they can succeed, that their cause is just and their leaders are savvy, but rarely must they prove that theirs is a march of inner lights. Goldwater thought otherwise: to attract new voters and rally the faithful, conservatism had to establish its idealism and integrity, its absolute independence from the beck and call of wealth, from privilege and materialism—from reality itself.

    But conservatism has always been a creedal movement—if for no other reason than to oppose the creeds of the left. Liberals countered that this freedom was illusory: workers lacked the means to contract as they wished; real freedom required material means. Goldwater agreed, only he turned the same argument against the New Deal: high taxes robbed workers of their wages, rendering them less free and less able to be free. Goldwater said the same about liberals. It was an attempt to elevate politics and government, to direct public discussion toward ends more noble and glorious than the management of creature comforts and material well-being.

    Unlike the New Left, however, i n si de o ut Goldwater did not reject the affluent society. In his essay on conservative thought, Karl Mannheim argued that conservatives have never been wild about the idea of freedom. It threatens the submission of subordinate to superior. Instead, they have made freedom the stalking horse of inequality, and inequality the stalking horse of submission. Men are naturally unequal, they argue. Freedom requires that they be allowed to develop their unequal gifts. A free society must be an unequal society, composed of radically distinct, and hierarchically arrayed, particulars.

    A free society would identify such men at the earliest stages of life and give them the resources they needed to rise to preeminence. They are the modern equivalents of feudal estates. Freedom is the protection of those privileges, which are the outward expression of the group's unique inner genius. But who in i were these individuals? Goldwater claimed that they were anyone and everyone, that states' rights had nothing to do with Jim Crow.

    Goldwater lost big in the presidential election. His children and grandchildren went on to win big—by broadening the circle of discontent beyond Southern whites to include husbands and wives, evangelicals and white ethnics, and by continuing to absorb and transmute the idioms of the left. Rather, it made conservatism suppler and more successful.

    The more it adapted, the more reactionary conservatism became. But it wasn't religion that made evangelicals queer; it was religion combined with racism. The Christian right was equally galvanized by the backlash against the women's movement. Antifeminism was a latecomer to the conservative cause. If women could be that effective as political agents, why shouldn't they be in Congress or the White House? Schlafly grasped the irony. If women were to be sent back to the exile of their homes, they would have to view their retreat not as a defeat, but as one more victory in the long battle for women's freedom and power.

    At the same time, she described that relationship in the liberal language of entitlement rights. Evangelicals criticized the culture of narcissism— and then colonized it. James Dobson of the Focus on the Family got his start as a child psychologist at the University of Southern California, competing with Dr. Spock as the author of a bestselling child-rearing text. While the book popularized Christian prophecies of the End of Days, the film was narrated by Orson Welles, the original bad boy of the Popular Front.

    Than living it as a lie. Poles and Italians were appointed to high-profile offices in his administration, and Nixon campaigned vigorously in white ethnic neighborhoods. Throughout the summer and fall, I interviewed Gray and Luttwak as well as other conservatives such as William F. It was a difficult time for the right. Prosperity was a given, war was a distant memory, and learned people still spoke of the end of history.

    There is another reason I have not revised this article.

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    Though I had read Burke, Oakeshott, and Nozick in college and graduate school, researching and writing this article was my first sustained encounter with the worldview of the right. It remains an unfortunate reality of American higher education that social scientists and historians can get through This chapter originally appeared as an article in Lingua Franca February : Or do they? In the last ten years of his life, Diderot hailed the American Revolution and blasted France as the reincarnation of imperial Rome. And when George Bernard Shaw addressed the question of politics and aging, he suggested just the opposite of what Churchill is supposed to have said.

    But after the Berlin Wall collapsed, Gray defected. He used to be one of us. Strangelove and part Dr. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, they have been posing questions about the market they once would never have dared ask. They are today's most poignant exiles, lost in a diaspora of their own making. Conservatives usually style themselves as chastened skeptics holding the line against political enthusiasm. Ever since Edmund Burke, thinkers from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Martin Heidegger have sought a more intense, almost ecstatic mode of experience in the spheres of religion, culture, and even the economy—all of which, they believe, are repositories of the mysterious and the ineffable.

    Indulging in political romanticism, they draw from the stock-in-trade of the counter-Enlightenment, celebrating the intoxicating vitality of struggle while denouncing the bloodless norms of reason and rights. As Isaiah Berlin observed of Joseph de Maistre: His violent preoccupation with blood and death belongs to a world different. The facade of Maistre's system may be classical, but behind it there is something terrifyingly modern, and violently opposed to sweetness and light. For figures like John Gray, the Soviet Union and the welfare state were the ultimate symbols of cold Enlightenment rationalism, and the free market was the embodiment of the romantic counter-Enlightenment.

    And so today, with Communism in ruins and the free market triumphant, the dissident spirit that originally inspired Gray now fires an equally militant apostasy Gray was born in and grew up outside Newcastle, a port city near the North Sea in a coal-mining region only fifty miles from Scotland. In a country where accent is destiny, one still hears faint traces of his northeastern working-class origins, about which he is slightly defensive.

    His father was a carpenter; his entire family voted Labour. Gray arrived at Oxford in , the annus mirabilis for young leftists throughout Europe. After receiving his degree in philosophy, politics, and economics, Gray stayed on at Oxford for graduate school, writing a thesis on John Stuart Mill and John Rawls, both sympathetic to a liberal socialism that Gray initially found attractive. Tepid compromise was the rule of the day; political leaders tried to be all things to all people. Thatcher assumed the leadership of the Conservative Party at just about the time of Gray's conversion to capitalism.

    Her most impressive moment came in , after her first year in power, when her policies seemed to be pushing the economy toward disaster. Instead of retreating, she defiantly faced down her temporizing critics, memorably declaring, "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning. And then she wouldn't do a U-turn, I thought, 'This is for real. In , he began reading the work of Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian-born economist and fierce critic of state planning.

    If Hayek on Liberty was an impassioned ode to the market, Gray was its yearning Byron. Each challenged old orders of knowledge and politics. They were romantic heroes possessed by flashes of almost poetic vision. The market, in short, provided a refuge for self-expression and creativity, a sanctuary for the rapturous counter-Enlightenment. He now denounces it as the scourge of civilization. Like Gray, Norman Barry is a political theorist who has written on Hayek. I am speculating but not wildly.

    He tried a bit of Popper. Tried Hayek. Of course, he later dumped Hayek. Other writers he would try and dump. During the late s, he says, he began to suspect that political thinking on the right had stiffened into stale ideology—not unlike the dull Rawlsianism he fled so long ago. But he now believed that the movement had lost its artistry; supple thought had degenerated into rote incantation. Then it hardened into Trotskyism. And similarly Thatcherism began to harden. It was a habit of thought that I found deeply repugnant. It was the only force that could prevent societies from sliding into total chaos, extreme inequality, and poverty.

    But there is a deeper reason for Gray's turn: by itself, the market could not sustain his affections. Without the Soviet Union and the welfare state as diverting symbols of Enlightenment rationalism, Gray could no longer believe in the market as he once had. But watching Jeffrey Sachs and the International Monetary Fund in Russia, he could not help but see the free market as "a product of artifice, design and political coercion.

    Today, he argues that Thatcher built the free market by crushing trade unions, hollowing out the Conservative Party, and disabling Parliament. Nobody could have read that amount of stuff without believing some of it, anyway. I wonder whether he ever did. Barry loves the market because it operates according to "the iron laws of economics.

    If I introduce rent control, it would take maybe six months to create homelessness. Born in into a wealthy Jewish family in Romania, Luttwak grew up in southern Transylvania, which was briefly occupied by the Nazis in When he was five years old, his family fled an imminent Communist takeover and settled in Palermo. There was a fuel shortage. Milano was shivering. Things were pretty bleak. The parks were a disgrace.

    I found myself. For most of his adult life, Luttwak waged a militant struggle against Communism. Inspired by a strategic military vision that connected the Gallic Wars to the civil wars of Central America, he worked closely with the U. Defense Department as a consultant, advising everyone from junior officers to the top brass. But Luttwak was more than a cold warrior. Luttwak urged the military to look to Hadrian, not Henry Ford, for guidance.

    Luttwak has composed an unholy gastronomic guide to political poison. Those brave enough to look into his kitchen will never eat quite as peacefully again. While in graduate school, Luttwak began to work as a consultant to various branches of the U. When Ronald Reagan ran for president in , Luttwak was at the top of his game. Reagan's closest advisers eagerly welcomed Luttwak to their inner circle.

    Just after Reagan's election, Luttwak attended a dinner party in Bethesda, along with Jeane Kirkpatrick, Fred Ikle, and other luminaries of the Republican defense establishment. Very nice, but only in small quantities. Luttwak may have been an invaluable asset when pushing for more defense spending, but he made enemies with his loud—and ever more sarcastic—criticisms of Pentagon mismanagement. In , he published The Pentagon and the Art of War, where, among other things, he depicted Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger as more of a slick used-car salesman than a genuine statesman.

    Always looking to cut costs, Pentagon officials insisted that weapons, machinery, and research-and-development programs be standardized. Standardized weapons systems were easily overcome; having overwhelmed one, an enemy could overwhelm them all. They preferred gray suits, eschewing "personal eccentricities in dress, speech, manner, and style because any unusual trait may irritate a customer or a banker in the casual encounters common in business. While the Soviet Union still existed, Luttwak was able to channel his contempt for managerial and corporate values into proposals for military reform.

    The master of your fate. Not to walk hunched, afraid that God will punish you if you eat a ham sandwich. It was ideological. It was very fitting for me to be in the United States, to become an American, because the Americans were and are the ideological people. They were perfectly cast to be enlisted in an ideological struggle.

    I don't engage my existence in something that is peripheral. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation. That makes him an economic fascist. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail.

    After all, Reagan and Thatcher summoned conservatives to a political crusade, but the free-mar- ket ideology they unleashed is suspicious of all political faiths. William R Buckley Jr. You hear it once, you master the idea. Unlike Kristol, who fled the left and launched the neoconservative movement, Luttwak and Gray have not formulated coherent alternatives, philosophical or political, to their former creeds.

    People enjoying themselves. I was in Paris in There was a wonderful feeling of possibility. Buckley Jr. What kind of politics would this youthful Buckley embrace? The original Bill Buckley had the benefit of the Soviet Union as an enemy; without its equivalent, his dop- pelganger would confront a more complicated task.

    Buckley runs down a laundry list of left causes—global poverty, death from AIDS. He also loves the television show Refusing to be bound by the law, he fights a two-front war against terrorism and the Constitution. And whenever he bends a rule or breaks a bone, Scalia swoons. Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? You have the right to a jury trial? Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? So the question is really whether we really believe in these absolutes.

    And ought we believe in these absolutes?

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    His Constitution is cold and dead, its prohibitions and injunctions frozen in time. If that produces objectionable results—say, the execution of children and the mentally retarded—too bad. In Hamdi v. It also ruled, however, that such citizens were entitled to due process and could challenge their detention before some kind of tribunal. Scalia was livid. Writing against the plurality—as well as the Bush administration and fellow conservatives on the Court—he insisted that a government at war, even one as unconventional as the war on terror, had two, and only two, ways to hold a citizen: try him in a court of law or have Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

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    Live by the rules of due process, in other words, or suspend them. Take a stand, make a choice. But the Court weaseled out of that choice, making life easier for the government and itself. Where others look to them for stabilizing checks or reassuring supports, Scalia looks for exhilarating impediments and vertiginous barriers. Where others seek security, Scalia seeks sublimity.

    Bauer never makes things easy for himself; indeed, he goes out of his way to make things as hard as possible. He volunteers for a suicide mission when someone else would do and probably do it better ; he turns himself into a junkie as part of an impossibly baroque plan to stop an act of bioterrorism; he puts his wife and daughter at risk, not once but many times, and then beats himself up for doing so.

    He loathes what he does but does it anyway. That is his nobility—some might say masochism—and why he warms Scalia's heart. It means something, of course, that Scalia identifies the path of most resistance in fidelity to an ancient text, while Bauer finds it in betrayal of that text. Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in March , but he was conceived the previous summer in Florence, Italy His father, a doctoral student in romance languages at Columbia, had won a fellowship to travel there with his wife.

    Not anymore. But we were helped by the fact that we were such a large family. We had our own culture The first thing you've got to teach your kids is what my parents used to tell me all the time, "You're not everybody else. We have our own standards and they aren't the standards of the world in all respects, and the sooner you learn that the better. Literally more Catholic than the pope, More is a true believer in the law who refuses to compromise his principles in order to accommodate the wishes of Henry VIII.

    He pays for his integrity with his life. Scalia's rigidity is not opposed to his idealism; it is his idealism. His ultraconservative reading of the Constitution reflects neither cynicism nor conventionalism; orthodoxy and piety are, for him, the essence of dissidence and iconoclasm. Just don't say he's a suit. Scalia's philosophy of Constitutional interpretation—variously called originalism, original meaning, or original public meaning— is often confused with original intention.

    While the first crew of originalists in the s did claim that the Court should interpret the Constitution according to the intentions of the Framers, later originalists like Scalia wisely recast that argument in response to criticisms it received. And whose intentions should count: those of the 55 men who wrote the Constitution, the 1, men who ratified it, or the even greater number of men who voted for the men who ratified it? From Scalia's view, it is not intentions that govern us.

    It is the Constitution, the text as it was written and rewritten through amendment. That is the proper object of interpretation. Look to the public meaning of the words at the time they were adopted, says Scalia. Consider the context of their utterance, how they were received. Words don't mean one thing, Scalia concedes, but neither do they mean anything. In a constitutional democracy it is the job of elected representatives to make the law, the job of judges to interpret it.

    If judges are not bound by how the law, including the Constitution, was understood at the time of its enactment—if they consult their own morals or their own interpretations of the country's morals—they are no longer judges but lawmakers, and often unelected lawmakers at that. By tying the judge to a text that does not change, originalism helps reconcile judicial review with democracy and protects us from judicial despotism. If Scalia's first concern is tyranny from the bench, his second is anarchy on the bench.

    Once we abandon the idea of an unchanging Constitution, he says, we open the gates to any and all modes of interpretation. How are we to understand a Constitution that evolves? By looking at the polls, the philosophy of John Rawls, the teachings of the Catholic Church? If the Constitution is always changing, what constraints can we impose on what counts as an acceptable interpretation? None, Scalia says. For a brief, terrible time—from the Warren Court of the s to the Burger Court of the s—it was a reality. With each law it overturned and right it discovered, the Court seemed to invent a new ground of action.

    It was a constitutional Carnival, where exotic theories of adjudication were paraded with libidinous abandon. Expansive constructions of Constitutional meaning are as old and august as the founding itself. Bork, in fact, freely admits that it is not John Marshall or Joseph Story—the traditional greats of judicial review—to whom he looks for guidance; it is Alexander Bickel, arguably the most self-conscious of the twentieth-century liberal theoreticians, who "taught me more than anyone else about this subject.

    The Court was skeptical of the first two claims. Some customers paid to watch the tournament, others to compete in it. The PGA could not discriminate against either. Scalia was incensed. The PGA sold entertainment, the public paid for it, the golfers provided it; the qualifying rounds were their application for hire. Martin was no more a customer than is an actor who shows up for an open casting call.


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    • Martin would thus wind up in a legal no man's land, without any protection from the law. He saw a threat to the status of athletes everywhere, whose talent and excellence would be smothered by the bosomy embrace of the Court, and also a threat to the idea of competition more generally. It was as if the Homeric rivals of ancient Greece were being plucked from their manly games and forced to walk the aisles of a modern boutique.

      Games hold a special valence for Scalia: they are the space where inequality rules. The watermarks of privilege and privation are no longer visible to the naked eye; they must be identified, again and again, through struggle and contest. Hence the appeal of the game. In sports, unlike law, every day is a new day.

      It then formulated a two-part test for determining whether riding in a cart would change the nature of golf. The dutifulness and care, the seriousness with which the majority took its task, both amused and annoyed Scalia. It has been rendered the solemn duty of the Supreme Court of the United States Scalia is clearly enjoying himself, but his mirth is a little mystifying. The language of the statute, in other words, compels the Court to inquire into and decide What is Golf.

      But Scalia won't have any of it. Refusing to be bound by the text, he prefers to meditate on the futility and fatuity of the Court's inquiry. In seeking to discover the essence of golf, the Court is looking for something that does not exist. It's thus impossible to say whether a rule is essential. No Plato for him; he's with Nietzsche all the way.

      Those who make it past these blank and barren gods are winners; everyone else is a loser. How then to explain the influence of Scalia? When the Court voted in to overturn state laws banning gay sex, Scalia saw the country heading down a slippery slope to masturbation. With the addition of John Roberts to the Court in and Samuel Alito in , however, that has begun to change. For many years, originalism was derided by the left. Liberals on the Court have undergone a similar shift. Not by tact or diplomacy. Sandra Day O'Connor, who sat on the Court from to , was a frequent object of his ridicule and scorn.

      Several other factors explain Scalia's dominance of the Court. Second, there's an elective affinity, even a tight fit, between the originalism of duresse oblige and Scalia's idea of the game. And that is Scalia's vision of what the good life entails: a daily and arduous struggle, where the only surety, if we leave things well enough alone, is that the strong shall win and the weak shall lose.

      Scalia, it turns out, is not nearly the iconoclast he thinks he is. And that is the patience and forbearance, the general decency and good manners, his liberal colleagues show him. But that formulation may have it exactly backward: without his more liberal colleagues indulging and protecting him, Scalia—like Jack Bauer—would have a much more difficult time. The conservatism of duresse oblige depends upon the liberalism of noblesse oblige, not the other way around.

      That is the real meaning of Justice Scalia. They're all individual countries. Reagan declared him "a man of great personal integrity. They tossed the women into the well and filled it with dirt, burying an unlucky few alive. While it is tempting to ascribe the omission to American amnesia, a more likely cause is the deep misconception about the Cold War under which most Americans labor.

      Latin America seldom figures in popular or even academic discussion of the Cold War; and to the extent that it does, it is Cuba, Chile, and Nicaragua rather than Guatemala that earn most of the attention. That coup sent a young Argentinean doctor fleeing to Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro. Five years later, Che Guevara declared that had taught him the impossibility of peaceful, electoral reform.

      In a lightning strike, U. But understanding the Cold War requires more than tallying body counts and itemizing atrocities, ft requires us to locate this most global of contests in the smallest of places, to find beneath the dueling composure of superpower rivalry a bloody conflict over rights and inequality, to see behind a simple morality tale of good triumphing over evil the more ambivalent settlement that was—and is—the end of the Cold War.

      But the defeats are various, their consequences still unfolding. Next is the defeat of a continental social democracy that would have allowed citizens to exercise a greater share of power— and to receive a greater share of its benefits—than historically had been their due. Finally, and most important, is the defeat of that still-elusive dream of men and women freeing themselves, thanks to their own reason and willed effort, from the bonds of tradition and oppression. This had been the dream of the transatlantic Enlightenment, and throughout the Cold War, American leaders argued on its behalf or some version of it in the struggle against Communism.

      The Latin American left brought liberalism and progress to a land awash in feudalism. Using vagrancy laws and the lure of easy credit, the planters amassed vast estates and a workforce of peasants who essentially belonged to them. Two planters in the Alta Verapaz region, cousins from Boston, used their Indian cooks and corn grinders to sire more than a dozen children.

      Though plantations were mini-states— with private jails, stockades, and whipping posts—planters also depended on the army, judges, mayors, and local constables to force workers to submit to their will. Public officials routinely rounded up independent or runaway peasants, shipping them off to plantations or forcing them to build roads.

      One mayor had local vagrants paint his house. There, a decades-long struggle to break the back of the coffee aristocracy culminated in the election of Arbenz, who with the help of a small circle of Communist advisers, instituted the Agrarian Reform of They were creating capitalism. They were scrupulous about property rights and the rule of law. You have to do things right! They also made peasants into citizens. While liberals and conservatives have long claimed that leftist ideologies reduce their adherents to automatons, leftist ideals and movements awakened peasants to their own power, giving them extensive opportunities to speak for themselves and to act on their own behalf.

      Efrain Reyes Maaz, for example, was a Mayan peasant organizer, born in the same year as the Bolshevik Revolution. But reading nourished me and here I am. I could die today and nobody could take that from me. We want holiness, ardent, great and joyous holiness. Indeed, one of the Americans' chief justifications for their interventions during the Cold War was that U.

      White spared those thought to have no rebel influence. Pink identified areas in which the insurgents had limited presence; suspected guerrillas and their supporters were to be killed but the communities left standing. Red gave no quarter: all were to be executed and villages razed. On May 29 of that year, roughly five hundred Mayan peasants assembled in the town center to ask the mayor to hear their complaints against local planters, which were to be presented by a union delegation from the capital.

      On closer inspection, the massacre bears all the marks of the twentieth century. They worked with unions, based in the capital, reflecting the left's attempt to nationalize local grievances. For their part, the soldiers firing on the peasants were more than a local constabulary defending the interests of the planters. In a rerun of the fabled journey into the heart of darkness, U.

      I have literally heard these arguments from our people. The fuel for the fire must come from within Chile. Buckley and Irving Kristol. Over the course of our conversations, however, it became clear that Buckley and Kristol were less interested in these ex-conservatives than they were in the sorry state of the conservative movement and the uncertain fate of the United States as a global empire.

      While they were conservative victories, these developments had nevertheless rendered the United States ill-equipped for the post-Cold War era. Americans now possessed the most powerful empire in history. At the same time, they were possessed by one of the most antipolitical ideologies in history: the free market. For Buck- ley and Kristol, this was too bloodless a notion upon which to found a national order, much less a global empire. It encouraged triviality and small-minded politics, self-interest over the national interest—not the most promising base from which to launch an empire.

      The most powerful nation always had an imperial role. People need that. Over what? Prescriptions for elderly people? Who gives a damn? Future historians will find this very hard to believe. September 11, we were told in the aftermath, shocked the United States out of the complacent peace and prosperity that set in after the Cold War. It forced Americans to look beyond their borders, to understand at last the dangers that confront a world power.

      It reminded us of the goods of civic life and of the value of the state, putting an end to that fantasy of creating a public world out of private acts of self-interested exchange. A country that seemed for a time unwilling to face up to its international responsibilities was now prepared, once again, to bear any burden, pay any price, for freedom. This changed attitude, the argument went, was good for the world.

      It pressed the United States to create a stable and just international order. It was also good for the United States. It forced us to think about something more than peace and prosperity, reminding us that freedom was a fighting faith rather than a cushy perch. But while these factors play a considerable role in determining U. To understand that dimension, we must look to the impact on American conservatives of the end of the Cold War, of the fall of Communism and the ascendancy of the free market as the organizing principle of the domestic and international order.

      For it was conservative dissatisfaction with that order that drove, in part, their effort to create a new one. While neocons are certainly not opposed to capitalism, they do not believe the free market is the highest achievement of civilization. Their vision is more exalted.

      They aspire to the epic grandeur of Rome, the ethos of the pagan warrior—or moral crusader—rather than that of the comfortable bourgeois. Since the end of the Cold War, the imperial vision has received short shrift, eclipsed by the embrace of free markets and free trade. And so they have taken up the call of empire, providing the basso profundo to a swelling chorus. Though they have complete faith in American power, the neocons are uncomfortable using it for the mere extension of capitalism.

      They seek to create an international order that will be a monument for the ages, a world that is about something more than money and markets. Even before the war in Iraq went south, the American empire was coming up against daunting obstacles in the Middle East and Central Asia, suggesting how elusive the reigning idea of the neocon imperialists—that the United States can govern events, that it can make history—truly is. They won't take casualties to defend their interests. Electromyogram of the deltoid muscles showed bilateral polyphasic potentials with low amplitudes suggestive of myopathy.

      Amplitudes of motor action potentials were normal, as were motor nerve conduction velocities. Results of an aerobic exercise test revealed low tolerance to physical effort and a low anaerobic threshold. Blood lactate level was 3. Magnetic resonance images of the brain showed atrophy of the cerebral cortex and cerebellum, and, on T2-weighted slices, bilaterally a hypointense aspect of the globus pallidus, substantia nigra, and red nucleus Figure 1. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain showing, on T2-weighed images, an increased hypointensity at the globus pallidus A , and red nucleus and substantia nigra B bilaterally.

      Slight cerebral cortical atrophy and cerebellar atrophy in a more advanced stage are also seen C and D. At age 33 years, he was examined by one of us R. He was cooperative and answered questions adequately. His face was long and sharp with bilateral ptosis, mild external ophthalmoplegia, and lack of facial expression. He was very thin owing to generalized muscular atrophy. His weight was 36 kg, his height cm, and his head circumference 51 cm.

      Muscle strength was reduced especially in the legs. His gait was severely ataxic. Dysmetria was detected bilaterally. Tendon reflexes and plantar responses were normal. Routine blood study results, including complete blood cell count, transaminase levels, creatinine kinase level, creatinine level, and lipoprotein profile, were normal.

      Serum lactate and pyruvate concentrations measured on several occasions during the course of 1 day were only minimally increased. Maximum lactate concentration was 2. Results of an amino acid profile in serum and urine, the acylcarnitine levels, and very long-chain fatty acids and phytanic acid concentrations were normal.

      Urinary organic acid profile results were normal. A skeletal muscle biopsy was performed. Morphologic examination showed the presence of numerous ragged-red fibers on modified Gomori trichrome staining. Increased staining for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide—tetrazolium reductase stain Figure 2 and succinate dehydrogenase contrasted with the significantly decreased staining for cytochrome c oxidase in the ragged-red fibers.

      Electronmicroscopic examination revealed increased numbers of enlarged mitochondria with abnormal cristae and type I paracrystalline inclusions. Skeletal muscle biopsy specimen from proband showing numerous ragged-red fibers. In skeletal muscle, the activity of complex I was significantly decreased. A screening of all mitochondrial tRNA genes was performed. Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis revealed a novel tRNA mutation: a G-to-A transition at position Figure 3. The mutation was heteroplasmic. It was located in the tRNA gene for leucine and was not found in more than normal control samples.

      Polymerase chain reaction, single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of transfer RNA Leu on skeletal muscle of patient lane 1 and normal control subjects lanes 2 and 3. The formation of double-stranded mitochondrial DNA heteroduplexes and the migration of mutant and wild-type single-stranded mitochondrial DNA illustrates heteroplasmy.

      The mutation creates an NciI restriction site and PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis with NciI was used to quantitate the proportion of mutant mtDNA in the patient and his maternal relatives. The patient had inherited the mutation from his mother. In the patient's sister the mutation was not detectable.

      The patient suffered from neurosensorial hearing loss; progressive external ophthalmoplegia; retinopathy, ataxia, and generalized muscle atrophy; and difficulties swallowing. The finding of progressive external ophthalmoplegia in a patient as part of a multisystemic syndrome suggested an underlying mitochondrial defect. The initial diagnosis based on these clinical findings was Kearns-Sayre syndrome, but neither large-scale mtDNA deletions nor rearrangements were detected by molecular analysis.

      Corneal transparency in our patient was decreased owing to stromal edema and possibly endothelial cell dysfunction. Corneal cells are normally metabolically active. Stromal lactate accumulation, localized acidosis, and increased osmotic solute load can account for corneal edema. To our knowledge, corneal dystrophy has never been reported in patients with mitochondrial defects until now. Cerebellar atrophy was the most obvious magnetic resonance imaging abnormality in the proband, which is not an unusual finding in patients with Kearns-Sayre syndrome and in patients with advanced stages of MELAS.

      In skeletal muscle from the patient, numerous cytochrome c oxidase—negative ragged-red fibers were observed. In the skeletal muscle from the proband, however, mtDNA deletions and mtDNA depletion were excluded by molecular analysis. Cytochrome c oxidase—negative ragged-red fibers can also be found in mtDNA mutations located in the cytochrome c oxidase I, II, or III genes, but spectrophotometrical analysis in the proband showed normal cytochrome c oxidase activity in isolated mitochondria.

      Taking these findings into consideration, the most likely hypothesis was a mutation in a tRNA gene in the proband. Sufficient evidence can be found to substantiate the causative role of this mutation. The base change was heteroplasmic, a common feature of pathogenic mtDNA mutations. Moreover, the mutation was represented in higher proportions in skeletal muscle than in leukocytes. The nucleotide involved is evolutionarily well conserved 25 and has not been observed in more than control samples.

      The mutation was maternally inherited and associated with morphologic and biochemical abnormalities in skeletal muscle. The GA mutation is located adjacent to a cluster of point mutations at nucleotides , , , , and , all positioned in the dihydrouridine loop, or dihydrouridine stem of the tRNA Leu gene.

      We would like to emphasize that it is impossible to predict that the GA mutation always presents with the Kearns-Sayre—like phenotype, since phenotypic variability of this point mutation can not be assessed by this single patient and his asymptomatic mother. Arch Neurol. All Rights Reserved. Save Preferences. Privacy Policy Terms of Use.

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