What We Have, We Hold

The title for this post is a quote often attributed to Leonid Brezhnev or sometimes to Stalin, but like many pithy quotes, its origins are unknown. It was most likely a quick shorthand for the view of the Soviets, during the Brezhnev era, that their sacrifices in the war entitled them to hold the satellite countries of Eastern Europe. The rhetoric of the Soviets, particularly with regards to the third world, could never be squared with the fact that they held a sizable chunk of Europe captive, but they somehow found a way to justify it.

It is also a useful way of understanding the psychology of Progressive groups. They operate a lot like car thieves in the ghetto. A guy boosts a car and immediately buys an air freshener for it, puts some of his clothes in the backseat and always, always litters it with some of his mail. Anyone who has repossessed cars knows this, which is why it is such a great line in this movie. At some level, the thief knows it is not his car, but he makes it his car in the same way a dog marks his territory. It’s his as long as it has his stuff in it.

That’s the mindset of the Progressive. The political ground they acquire, no matter how they acquire it, is theirs. They own it and they intend to keep it. It is not open for debate. It is why Obama, for example, was fond of saying he would not “re-litigate” ObamaCare with the Republicans. As far as he was concerned, he won that ground and he was entitled to keep it. The next debate would have to be over your stuff and how much of it he could take from you and how much you would be allowed to hold, for now.

It is a mistake, I think, to assume it is a conscious strategy they think about before executing. Obama was not sitting around with his advisers coming up with a clever way to close off debate about his health care bill. It’s a natural instinct, resulting from their obsession with the future. Their singular obsession is what they imagine to be the promised land that is just beyond the horizon. Any reconsideration of the past is the same in their mind as turning away from the future and marching backwards.

This impulse is so powerful, it has warped public debate for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. You see here in this New York Times piece by a fanatic at NYU.

At one of the premieres of his landmark Holocaust documentary, “Shoah” (1985), the filmmaker Claude Lanzmann was challenged by a member of the audience, a woman who identified herself as a Holocaust survivor. Lanzmann listened politely as the woman recounted her harrowing personal account of the Holocaust to make the point that the film failed to fully represent the recollections of survivors. When she finished, Lanzmann waited a bit, and then said, “Madame, you are an experience, but not an argument.”

This exchange, conveyed to me by the Russian literature scholar Victor Erlich some years ago, has stayed with me, and it has taken on renewed significance as the struggles on American campuses to negotiate issues of free speech have intensified — most recently in protests at Auburn University against a visit by the white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Lanzmann’s blunt reply favored reasoned analysis over personal memory. In light of his painstaking research into the Holocaust, his comment must have seemed insensitive but necessary at the time. Ironically, “Shoah” eventually helped usher in an era of testimony that elevated stories of trauma to a new level of importance, especially in cultural production and universities.

During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument. Freedom of expression became a flash point in this shift. Then as now, both liberals and conservatives were wary of the privileging of personal experience, with its powerful emotional impact, over reason and argument, which some fear will bring an end to civilization, or at least to freedom of speech.

My view is that we should resist the temptation to rehash these debates. Doing so would overlook the fact that a thorough generational shift has occurred. Widespread caricatures of students as overly sensitive, vulnerable and entitled “snowflakes” fail to acknowledge the philosophical work that was carried out, especially in the 1980s and ’90s, to legitimate experience — especially traumatic experience — which had been dismissed for decades as unreliable, untrustworthy and inaccessible to understanding.

And there it is, the debate is over, as Al Gore would say. There’s no need to rehash those old debates about feelings counting for more than facts. To do so is to fall prey to temptation in the same way a drunkard or drug addict falls off the wagon. No, the pure of heart and mind will resist temptation and honor all the hard work it took to capture that ground for the Progs. “There’s no going back to the dark ages, comrade. What we have, we hold. Now it is time to debate how you will adjust to this new reality.”

This rhetorical slight of hand is so natural and relentless, that it tends to wear down all opposition. Normal people get weary of constantly pushing back against the Progs and then “click” the ratchet snaps forward. It’s how we went so quickly from “Hey maybe we need an accommodation for same sex couples” to “the Founders always wanted homosexual marriage. It is right there in the Constitution.” The Progs lost fight after fight, but once they won one, the debate was over and it has been over ever since.

This is a lesson and a warning for the growing revolt against the gathering Progressive darkness. The game is to always put the other side on defense. Make them defend every inch, while offering them a chance to buy you off, for now. That’s the path to victory, but it will never be easy. Beating back the Progs will make invading Russia in winter look like a walk in the park. The Progs do not yield an inch. They will burn everything before surrendering anything. What they have, they keep.

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62 Comments on "What We Have, We Hold"

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Member

Islam is similarly territorial: that land that was once under Islamic control — dar al-Islam — is theoretically never given up, and if lost, will again be delivered by God, or through conquest, or some such rubbish.

Tim Newman
Guest

Hence the law that a mosque, once built, can never be deconsecrated or destroyed.

Jack Dobson
Guest

Join the discussionI should have read the comments before posting! Yes!

John the River
Member

” hold the ground no retreat” that sounds a lot like Hitler’s orders to his generals on the Eastern front.

To date holding their philosophical positions in the face of increasing middle-class dissatisfaction has cost the progressives quite a few state capitals and congressional representation .

This is the core of Donald Trump’s appeal he attacks the progressives sacred cows . No prisoners, no prisoners.

karl hungus
Guest

that’s the weakness in their “strategy” when it’s all or nothing, eventually you end up with nothing.

Ivar
Guest

Karl, their strategy is not ”all or nothing,” it is compromise, take what they can get and ratchet one more gear tooth to the Left. That idea was the entire point of Z’s essay, as I read it. TruCons are happy if they keep 95% of what they had, and are willing to give up the other 5% to “prove that the democratic process works.” TruCons consider that a victory. The classic example of this process at work was Reagan’s ‘compromise’ on Illegal Alien amnesty.

Member

It’s the Pepperoni strategy, one slice at a time and in a while you’ve got the whole thing.

Ivar
Guest
The Republicrat nonsense doesn’t mean anything. I have watched my state go from Yellowdog Democrat to Pub. The state Pubs follow pretty much the same path that was laid out by Dems decades ago. As far as Trump goes, he is pretty much to the left of, say, Hubert Humphrey. Trump takes no prisoners? Sorry, but what a joke that statement is. The progs (and more important, prog thinking and prog assumptions) control all sides of the Political Establishment. If you doubt that, consider the current Republican budget proposals. The progs always win because people like us leave the battlefield… Read more »
Member

Humphrey would never have nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. There is a lot of daylight between the two. The problem is in the senate. On the budget, McConnell should have invoked the nuclear option for legislation. Planned Parenthood would then soon be out of business and construction would soon be starting on the wall. What do you think Dems would do if the situation was reversed? They know they’re at war but the “institutionalist” Republicans don’t.

ErisGuy
Guest

Stalin’s remedy was embodied in a new slogan. “Not a step back!”

Ron
Guest
I see is that future US politics will metaphorically be played out like Vietnam, only with the roles reversed. The progs will control all the media, the roads, infrastructure, and the major cities during the day. They will be road bound to dogma and their collectivism mindset will inhibit thinking outside the box, particularity as they become too comfortable living so well. The dirt people will control the flyover country and the night, and be as Mao put it, the fish who swim in the ocean of our enemy. Flexible and innovative, never staying put long enough t be pinned… Read more »
Joey Junger
Guest

The asymmetry works in our favor, it’s true. Because the culture (at least outside of the internet memes) is controlled by the left, we learn about them and how they operate all day, in everything from human resources meetings to university lectures. Since we have to stay silent in public, we listen. And since they’re always talking, they never hear. The right consequently knows everything about the left. The left knows really nothing about the right.

Terry Baker
Guest

Joey – great insight, they really don’t know who we are. To realize the truth is to abandon the prejudice.

Joey Junger
Guest
Progs will indeed burn everything before ceding anything. Their brinkmanship over Russia and the Crimea (already underway during the Obama years but amplified by Trump’s win) is the best example of this: like a child who would rather break his toy than risk having to share it with someone they don’t like, I think I can say without hyperbole that progs (and neocons) would be happier with nuclear annihilation than with admitting they were wrong or that they lost. I think some of this refusal to litigate goes back to what you noted about Obama as the SAT president. It’s… Read more »
Rabbi High Comma
Guest
The GOPe has played along with the left’s “heads I win, tails you lose” game because of a desire to maintain respectability – of which the left’s media has been the arbiter. The establishment right played along out of purely selfish individual motivations, as the rachet clicked and clicked, and previously acceptable groups became the new Hitler. The cowards just kept taking additional steps leftward. This is why I see no need to temper my message when dealing with the left. “Hitler had some great ideas. It’s a shame the jewish communists tried to kulak the Germans too, it left… Read more »
A.B. Prosper
Guest

When dealing with progs , do it the Spartan way “Give them nothing, take from them everything.” Than kick them into a bottomless pit

In truth Conservative people always face the disadvantage of actually wanting to conserve things and fear chaos and madness whereas Leftist have no such limits

Maybe we just need to accept and interregnum of scotched earth ourselves , win or die.

Tim Newman
Guest

At some level, the thief knows it is not his car, but he makes it his car in the same way a dog marks his territory. It’s his as long as it has his stuff in it.

A variation on “possession is nine-tenths of the law”.

Tim Newman
Guest
By the way, the same ratchet effect occurs over public spending issues: if one party implements a 1% increase in some area, that can never, ever be reversed without mass protests and howls of outrage. No “progressive” law can ever be reversed either, as it immediately becomes a “right”. When the Tories were laughably planning spending cuts in the UK, it would have taken public spending back to where it was around 2010-11. Yet everyone screamed blue murder that they were going to be throwing the most vulnerable on the streets to die. If people really believe this BS in… Read more »
walt reed
Guest

George Schultz described the Soviet position as ” whats’ ours is ours, whats’ yours is up for grabs.”

Member

He obviously knows my wife.

originalguest
Guest
Care to write something on the “People’s Climate March”? The name alone is cringe worthy! The whole thing is veiled in socialist rhetoric and iconography, without shame or irony. “Global warming a back door to socialism” doesn’t seem so far fetched when they are literally waving red flags at the protest! And they have to double down, saving mother earth is even a better reason to stomp out capitalism than ushering in the workers paradise was, they hate those dirt people now anyway, so it’s a win win, socialism without the proletariat, what a permutation! Fun fact, Mikhail Gorbachev, the… Read more »
Zeroh Tollrants
Guest

Typical lefty bullshit watermelon political displays-green on the outside, deep, deep red on the inside.

karl hungus
Guest

that’s why you have to kill them or expel them.

Dr. Mabuse
Guest
Like the Soviets, they benefit from the air of inevitability they both cultivate and unconsciously assume. Of course the Soviet Union/Progressive Left will keep what it has won. It’s Progress! It’s Science! Those things can’t change any more than the sun can retreat from its course through the day. But all that’s required is to disprove this assumption, and the whole thing starts to totter. For me, it was the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that marked the beginning of the end. Suddenly the Red Army was no longer invincible. Against all the cocksure assertions by Leftist apologists (many of… Read more »
Member
1. “It’s a natural instinct, resulting from their obsession with the future. Their singular obsession is what they imagine to be the promised land that is just beyond the horizon. Any reconsideration of the past is the same in their mind as turning away from the future and marching backwards.” This is manifest destiny in the abstract. To them ideas and politics are like territory to the pioneer. And to hell with the natives. They aren’t the anointed ones like we are. Ignorant swine who need to be put down for the sake of advancing in history. 2. Experience vs… Read more »
Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
I am currently on holiday in the USA, driving from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. I can understand where major cities like Chicago or St. Louis may follow the progressive mentality, however from my observations, the rest of the country is so easily swayed. As I pass through hundreds of little towns off the main highways, it’s clear these people have little if anything in common with the progressives in the big cities. Chicago, IL has nothing in common with Davenport, MO and even in the poorest towns, American flags over car dealerships are the biggest I… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest

Karl;
Right you are. Had you turned North instead of South you’d have seen the same things.

Guest
Guest

Davenport is in Iowa, not Missouri. Otherwise your post is spot-on, Karl.

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest

@ Guest – Thanks for the correction. 🙂

Member

Uh, before you correct Karl, maybe check that there isn’t a Davenport Missouri? … because there is one

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest

@ Uncle_Max – Guest was correct. The Davenport I mentioned is in Iowa. I very much enjoyed the John Deere Pavilion across the Mississippi river in Moline. Amazing to climb up into one of those huge combines. Flood waters have been a challenge as I am taking back roads to avoid the major highways and have had to turn around on several occasions. However Route-66 is very nice!

Karl Hungus
Guest

it’s a class thing. you are viewing the middle-middle to lower-middle classes (remmnants of the working class). in the upper-middle class and above, almost every head is filled with prog nonsense. note i said “almost”.

BillH
Guest

Problem is Karl, college brainwashing has made lefties of the heartland youth, then they move to a big metro for work. The heartland is graying fast.

Dutch
Guest

Karl, glad to see that you are finding some things out for yourself. The media never, ever tell the truth. Hope you continue to enjoy the rest of your travels.

Member

ever look at one of those red-blue election maps. It’s all red over most of the country except the liberal enclave coastal areas. Fly over country, nothing but red.
Thank God for the Electoral college.

Member

I always encourage folks to visit “two-lane American” and see the civilization growing away from the cities. Hope you have a safe trip, Karl.

Member
They are getting closer to stating their real position. I’d be happier if they just came right out and said that their goal is to erase all human intellectual progress since the Enlightenment and memory hole Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, too. The problem, as always is that by the time they do, it is too late. I cannot avoid thinking about piles of corpses whenever I read rubbish like the op-ed by Baer. You could accuse me of a slippery slope argument, but if there is one thing that the 20th Century taught us is that nihilists armed with an… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
In WWI, the Germans/Central Powers *did* invade Russia in the winter and succeed.* How_? By cutting the Russian Empire off from external aid via their alliance with Turkey. Once the Russians had to depend on their own resources, they were unable to ‘persist’. Their elite demanded persistence but the common people ‘voted with their feet’, as Lenin said, and deserted the front en masse. The Russian Civil war ensued which the Bolsheviks sorta won but the Russian elite clearly lost ‘bigly’. How can this lesson be applied today vs. the Prog Empire_? Cut it off from subsidy and make it’s… Read more »
Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest

@ Al from da Nort – I highly recommend the WW1 memorial and museum in Kansas City if you want some very good information on the stupidity of European powers at that time. Why Germany thought antagonizing the Americans into war was pure idiocy. Only to be duplicated a few decades later by our less than brilliant Austrian Chancellor. My full respect to the brave American men and women who served your country to fight a war that was not really yours in the first place.

Member

“You keep what you kill”. It’s the Necromonger way.

Member

You eat what you kill.

The condition of humanity for millennia.

The Anti-Gnostic
Guest

This is the failure of conservatism. It thinks it’s in an ideological fight, not a territorial one. Progs are in it for their peeps–to get them places to live and agencies to run and money to spend; conservatives are in it for their ideals. (“Ask not what conservatism can do for you…”). The operational result is conservatives endlessly chase the Progressive advance, consolidating Progressive gains.

Death to conservatism!

Member

All change isn’t progress, all progress isn’t forward.

Toddy Cat
Guest

My favorite part of that Leftist screed is referring to the hysterical shrieking, career destruction, lying, and actual physical attacks carried out in order to establish the current Victim Culture as “philosophical work”. Also, you will note that the Lefty’s anecdote about “Shoah” makes exactly the opposite point as he is trying to defend. The director was saying that reason and facts trumps personal trauma; The Lefty is maintaining the exact opposite.

TomA
Guest

The only value of a parasite in society is that they occasionally enable decomposition and decay by killing the host. Beyond that, they have nothing to offer but endless need. And their need to preserve their feeding spot on the host is existential, hence the desperation to cling to every vestige of ground gained. They will not yield, because to yield is to die.

Guest
Guest
Prog policies have good feelz, especially for women, but they are unsustainable to finance. It’s no coincidence that the progressive era coincided with the advent of centralized, fractional share banking, credit expansion, and ultimately ushered in the era of fiat currency and an exploding national debt. Productive members of society would rebel if they actually had to pay the costs of progressive policies. Prog policies will collapse when the dollar loses its status as the world’s reserve currency and we can no longer float the costs of progressive policies onto the global credit markets. Japan’s national debt is around 230%… Read more »
Anonymous White Male
Guest
“Productive members of society would rebel if they actually had to pay the costs of progressive policies.” Productive members of society have always had to pay the costs of progressive policies. And they have not rebelled. They have acquiesced because productive members of society already have a structure in place which they can understand. They can continue to work and provide for their families. Destroying this structure and creating a new one introduces chaos into their structure which is truly what they fear. There will come a time when too many productive individuals will be unable to be productive and… Read more »
TomA
Guest

Collapse isn’t just inevitable. It is a necessary precursor to rebirth. The longer we kick the can down the road, the deep the bottom, and more difficult the rebuild.

Guest
Guest

I should have been more precise and stated “full cost” rather than just “cost” of prog policies. My bad. We have the luxury of pushing a portion of these costs into the future, resulting in our $20T in debt. Without that luxury the tax rates necessary to support prog policies would cause a rebellion. Top marginal rates are already over 50% in many Blue states.

Member

How dumb can you be, The Twenty Trillion is the cost of the wars.

Trimegistus
Guest

Queen Victoria.

Jack Dobson
Guest

Progressivism is a religion. Islam doesn’t recognize the new rulers of lands it once held, either. So this no longer is politics. It is war, and needs to be treated as such.

CanuckAmok
Guest
This is good summary of why conservatism has failed consistently since the end of WWII, except for the pleasant hiccup of the 1980’s. Whenever conservatism has enjoyed a momentary victory, as with Reagan’s presidency, or the Congressional takeover in 1994, it’s never sealed the deal. To use a football analogy, conservatism has a decent track record of moving the ball between the 20-yard lines, but it stinks in the Red Zone. That’s because Conservatives mistakenly believe that the great battle with the Progressives was some sort of Great Debate that they routinely won on points, and that once it was… Read more »
GeoRoamer
Member

Gun laws and regulations are a perfect example of this, the Progressives inexorable march to the suppression of personal liberty. Every new proposal for more and more restrictive control of gun rights is couched as some new “common sense” approach. Any possibility of repeal is out of the question.

Doug
Guest

There’s a reason some dead western Christian white guys inisted on the primal right of dirt people to bear arms be included before they signed on to a contract on a piece of old parchment years ago.

bangagong
Guest

If only Paul Ryan et al ( and the POTUS) would read the Zman. Amazing , free political advice…. If I were Bannon I would have all the Zman’s posting transcribed, read and discussed daily…

Anna
Guest

I think the progressives are losing ground. They seem to be desperate, recycling old arguments hoping to impress the new generation.

D S Craft
Guest

And there you have half of the Progressive m/o. First, never demand everything you want all at once. Take only what you think you can get. You know, the easy, common sense measures that *everybody* can, or should, agree on. Second, once you get that, never, EVER take a step back. Never. Consolidate your gains at all costs, then demand a little bit more. Lather, rinse, repeat, until you reach your end game. The NRA understands this which is why they budge not.one.inch. on “common sense” gun control measures.

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