Moses Sands, in his 2004 epistle, “The Prospects for Democracy in Iraq” did a segment about “cleaning up Dodge,” a common reference to the Old West from another era. It basically referred to the process almost no American pays attention to anymore, and that is…
….the taming of something that is totally wild and lawless and making it suitable for civilized society.
Moses was referring to Arab society and its resistance to democratic institutions. He thought it could be tamed from the inside and defined how that could happen. (I agree.)
He also referred to the fact, and it is a fact, that before any place can become civilized in a free society (the rules for despots and authoritarians are different); with commerce and business, police, courts and rule of law, and a peaceful co-existence between neighbors composed of homes, schools and futures, someone…some group of people…must first go in and remove all the threats to the foundations to that civilization ever being laid down, i.e, criminals, thugs, social outcasts and those who generally profit by iron-fisted lawlessness.
This is a first law of freedom, yet we never even consider it anymore, for once it’s done, we think it’s done, and in America it was all thought to have been done over a hundred years ago.
Still, this was a necessary first step in virtually every town in America. The “Cleaning up Dodge” part must occur first. It’s a condition precedent to civilization in a free society. That’s a law.
In the venacular, before you can build a free society you must first go in and kill, if need be, without trial or process, if need be, or otherwise run off to the next town (e.g., Baltimore), all the bad guys, and then lay down a defensive shield around the town that lasts at least a generation to make sure these marauding bands of killers and thieves won’t feel secure enough to come back.
Forget about state and county government. This was done in a town-by-town basis.
If Need be
It’s the “if need be” I want to discuss here, for the bad guys usually dictate the terms of their defeat. Only they decide if they will go peaceably.
But instead of considering the red-sashed Cowboys in Tombstone or the crime gangs of Chicago in the 20s, consider Berlin in 1933-35, or today, in various wards of Chicago, the Bronx, Cleveland or Philadelphia, etc., where lawlessness now wears a badge and where criminality hides under the semi-color of law. These places have returned to what we once ran out of Dodge.
This sort of lawlessness cannot ever be allowed to wear a badge in a free society.
But we have gone long past those days of thinking we would ever have to clean up Dodge in America ever again. The frontier, where those wild places once existed, is over. Frederick Jackson Turner told us this in 1893, not last week. No one ever thought we would have to revisit that sort of process ever again.
But in truth, those demons are still with us, and may have to be revisited. And yes, it’s the Democrat Left’s fault.
A little American history
First, let’s reconsider why and how this Cleaning up Dodge process was done in the first place.
Every town, valley, and territory in America has had to go through some version of this taming-the-wild process, from Deerfield to Astoria, from Mackinaw to Matamoros.
This is why, until the rise of the public school dynasty of misinfomation, among America’s heroes were always the men who tamed those wild frontiers. Even small towns have their lore. My stepfather, whose father was a town sheriff in the 30s told me of the time his dad told him to go home and bring him the Tommy gun, which he dutifully did, the Thompson laid across the handlebars of his bicycle. He was 12 at the time.
The men who cleaned up Chicago in the 30’s used as their models the men who cleaned up Dodge in 1870s, who used as their models men like Bridger and Carson who built trading forts along the Missouri, who used as their models men like George Rogers Clark who campaigned along the Ohio River.
There was a common thread. A handshake. (I think Jamie Gorelick cut it off at the wrists in the ’90s, but maybe you could choose another place and time.)
America had it’s pioneers…all enduring hardship, sickness and early death to stake out a piece of dirt, clear the land, build a house and bring it to bear fruit…so as to pass it on to the three of seven surviving children.
There was less romance in that than most know. Few people had an idea how grim life was in those early settlements.
The same for our explorers and lawmen, the men who first saw and opened the land, and the ones who made it habitable and secure. They suffered great privation, endured great risks, and rarely lived to see 40.
But many we immortalized precisely because they represented the trek of America, to both conquer nature, the wilderness, but also evil, in its rawest form.
I admit, too, there was always a kind a melancholy about this, for it was these men who first made the land livable, then were laughed into irrelevance once the towns had been take over by shopkeepers, preachers and lawyers.
Still that is the track of civilization. It has to be that way. Men of lore are rarely legends in their own lifetimes. That’s just how it is.
Explorers, trappers, pioneers and lawmen, people of extraordinary courage. So, it’s also not by accident that their courage has been removed from the easy reach of our children.
Every aspect of the heroic epochs of our history have been attacked. Every step forward, and generally westward, has been attacked by the Left as a criminal dispossession of others’ lands. And as with most leftist slogans there is always a smattering of truth to it. But it was Congress and corrupt government officials, not sodbusters, who lied and cheated the Indians. (Some things never change.) People are people and they will always be going to go where there is good earth to plow, no matter what.
The Taming of the American Wilderness
In 1967 a scholar named Roderick Nash wrote a book Wilderness and the American Mind, which I read at least three times while in law school, while still part of the environmental movement. Nash’s theory was that the people who came here, and continued to move westward, looked upon wilderness in terms of “higher use,” i.e., uprooting trees and putting the earth under the plow. And to turn those trees into lumber for building. “Higher use” meant to make land more productive.
You’d think it is a good thing, but Nash saw all this as a horrible thing and was lionized for it.
Moreover, he blamed religion, for all the way back to the days of Noah, Yahweh was always going on about about making the land bountiful. Be fruitful and multiply. (Gen 1:22)
Among practical people you can see how this idea could never catch on, the idea that feral land is more desirable than fertile land. But in a world where aesthetics, enjoying pretty things, without any concept as to how the ability to appreciate that beauty came to be, i.e., in a world of empty thinking, where the feral mind outnumbered the fertile, it was Kismet. Roderick Nash, meet public education.
So, it figures then that Nash would be a god among the mindless and godless. His book is considered one of the top 25 most influential books of the 20th century…consisting almost entirely of bilge.
Meantime, Ayn Rand spoke about this very type of youthful mindset in her series of essays, The Return of the Primitive, which she first penned in 1972, an almost opposite view, not of the wilderness, but the feral minds who gobbled up and digested this claptrap.
Now, I’m not really here to tell you more stuff about the Left of that era or the continued success of that wilderness meme today among the even more empty minds of our children lost an even deeper dungeon of our public schools.
At the time Nash struck a chord with me because I loved wilderness. Still do, in fact. With all due respect to veterans of every war, I find a kind of beauty in the jungle highlands of central Vietnam, the sands of Iraq, or the rugged valleys of Afghanistan around the Vale of Bamiyan. (Kipling saw the same things in In’jah, Nessa.) It just isn’t pretty when people are shooting at you or you are steeping lightly for fear of punjii sticks.
What I wanted most in the world was to know what it was like to have been the first to see a valley out west…to have been with Lewis and Clark. I wanted to be alongside Colter when he first saw Yellowstone (Colter’s Hell). Or to be with the artists Bodmer, Catlin or Alfred Jacob Miller…even more than Remington or Charlie Russell, fifty years later, when they followed the fur trappers and painted them. I was most jealous of the fur trappers. (Seeing how swimming is simply staying alive while in the water, I never had similar dreams about Magellan or Captain Cook.)
I’ve since climbed mountains and seen remote valleys all over the world, and I grew more mature about it all, in part because I could square an equation Leftie youth still cannot, namely that every possession they have in this world, down to their skivvies and cell phones, will all have to go if the world is truly returned to the idyllic nature they blather on about. Like TR, I think national parks were a great compromise between the wilderness and civilization.
I still hate billboards and built-up areas in natural places, but with the help of shank’s mare, a pair of good boots, and a pack, I can still see much of the wild world the same way that original corps of discoverers did while Jefferson was still president. But Nash’s kiddie corps never could. Or will. To close the circle of their logic, there would be no means of transportation, no company to make those boots, that backpack or canteen. Logically they just can’t from here to there.
So we know, with these kinds of mindless idiots in tow, the Left must have another plan in place, one in which, in the end doesn’t really include their unrealistic dreams. That’s why I left the movement. I figured that out by the time I was thirty.
I can only guess as to what the Left’s final plan may be, but when I was in the Russias…1991-2008…I was always asked by their Greens, environmental scientists, why Americans environmentalists wanted the type of government that has been the greatest despoiler of nature imaginable. The bad air, the lakes and rivers that run red, the undrinkable public water systems, all were the product of the State, not free enterprise. So “why?” they asked.
Environmentally, whatever they’re talking about isn’t their Plan.
Consider today only what we may have to do about their so’jurs.
First know these armies of automatons will not be around to see the brave new world they are supposed to help usher in. They will be disposed of the same way Lenin disposed of his useful idiots in 1918.
But we will have to confront them, one way or the other.
We prefer to use process, i.e, rendering these children impotent while walking back the fifty years of a leftist takeover of our institutions. But walk it back, we must. And if need be, to clean up Dodge in the process, for we will not necessarily be the masters as to how these things can be reclaimed. That will be their call, not ours, but we have to be prepared for that exigency, and we have to be prepared to do all things necessary, just like those sheriffs back in Dodge to ensure the citizens that these people are gone forever from that jurisdiction.
Just know, in the environmental arena, we are staring down the worst of all possible combinations, True Believers, supreme stupidity married to a zealous pursuit of their own infallibility. These are the Left’s Revolutionary Guard.
We’re never too civilized to clean up Dodge. We can’t afford to be.