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History with Swear Words – Part 37 – The Fucking Crusades
There’s a stupid fucking idea going around that goes...
Neanderthal Lives Matter
I Am Sub-Human I know, I know, you’ve suspected...
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Imagine you are on a soccer team. The opposing...
The Rohingya Deception
According to CNN and most every other Western news...
ISIS Versus Trudeau in Edmonton
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Ben Shapiro at Berkeley 2017
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As an entertainment journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to...
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German General Reinhard Gehlen went into hiding as WWII...
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Please don’t pretend to understand what happened on that...
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Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet, I’m afraid to...
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There are two main sexual strategies in the animal...
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Today on Facebook I read the following statement: “WHITE,...
Tips for a debt-free life for Millennials
Research says that millennials aren’t ready to prepare for...
Canada’s Top Ten List of America’s Stupidity.
#10 Only in America… could politicians talk about the...
Kipling’s ISIS Solution. East is East and West is West.
Mencken was right, “For every complex problem there is...
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Turkey? Orlando? Paris? So what else is new? I...
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Prince was more than just a musician, performer, dancer,...
Debunking the Cannot Eat Money Quote
“When the last tree is cut down, the last...
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Among civilized cultures there is a close relationship between...
RIP Kevin Randleman
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Is Congress Irrelevant? And What the Heck is a Boehner?
God’s truth, I do not know who Boehner and...
Smearing Scalia
Among the many sad signs of our time are...
The Common Nonsense on Terrorism
A few cheering thoughts on terrorism. This column specializes...
The Media Versus The Donald
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University Professor Warns Politically Correct Students
In welcoming a new class, Mike Adams, professor at...
Showdown in San Ramon: A Clash of Civilizations
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Veterans Money Stolen by Bad Design
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She loved it before she hated it.
According to CNN Hillary Clinton pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership...
Dancing with Psychos
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Doing “Something” About Guns…
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Don’t Mess with Dr.Geezer
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Don Bongino on Bernie Sanders
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino ripped into the...
Finland Sucks
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The Trump Paradox
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Bear Faced Panic
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The Racist Clockmaker
So I’m going through airport security and the guy...
Who Gave Us the Weekend & Saved the Children?
Way back in the old days, sometime in between...
Why They Hate Us
A frequent theme nowadays is “Why do they hate...
Why I Love Both Donald & Bernie
Face it, you probably love one and hate the...
Facebook Magic Bullet Powers
For those that think social media has some kind...
HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal....
Making Racism Worse
It never stops, and won’t. Another state of emergency...
How to Deal with Haters
I’ve had four death threats. I’ve had several major...
Mother in Law: USA
The United States has embarked on a headlong rush...
A Communist asks “The Question.”
For many years I have lived in dread of...
Sylvester Stallone’s Dog Days
This is one of the SADDEST stories ever told...
English Pubs and American Indians
The local pub has been a part of English...
Euros, Gyros, Heroes, and Zeros.
The CNN “analysis” of a possible Greek exit from...
How Thomas Sowell Got Lucky
After my 85th birthday last week, I looked back...
Greece For Dummies
Mr. Greece really likes taking care of his family....
Slavery in Canada?
As Canada went to war in 1914, unwanted foreigners...
Get Your Money Out of Mutual Funds Now
BlackRock Inc. is seeking government clearance to set up...
Berkeley Word Game Totalitarianism
The political left has come up with a new...
Just Who are the Real Haters Here?
“I will never be able to hold her again,...
Gay Marriage Freedom?
In the old days, the slaves had to ask...
A Letter From Russian Immigrants to Governor Brown
Honorable Governor Jerry Brown, We are a group of...
You Are What You Say You Are?
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Was Jesus a Socialist?
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Stupid Doctors & How I Cured My Persistent Cough
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How Plumbers Saved the World
Vaccines get all the glory, but most plumbers can...
Aeromobil: The Real Flying Car
Ever since the Jetsons, people have been laughing at...
Bagpipes on the Border
I’m still hopping mad about the US Government’s bagpipe...
Nine Things I’ve Never Asked a Woman
My date leaned over and asked, “What year is...
How to End Police Brutality Forever
I am going to make this as short and...
Left, Right & Elvis on Baltimore
Baltimore burns, that much is sure, but who is...
The War on Fathers
Not long ago, Megyn Kelly of FOX News went...
President Obama Fiddles While Baltimore Burns
During his press conference today, President Obama addressed the...
Feminist Destruction
We have suffered for decades now the squawking of...
Anthem: It Is a Sin to Write This…
It is a sin to write this. It is...
Isaiah’s Job
Isaiah’s Job is from Chapter 13 of Albert J....
Travel Hacking the IRS
Unlike many people, I do not have my taxes...
Cell Phone Cowards
Kids these days are punks and cowards. They can...
One Woman Versus the Tax Man
In a sense, the entire system of taxation is...
Mencken’s Bathtub and Social Security
In 1917, H.L. Mencken wrote an article to commemorate...
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s War on Pizza
A reporter went into Memories Pizza and asked an...
Mahatma Gandhi: Smartass
When Gandhi was studying law at the University College...
Iran Insanity and the War on Peace.
Most of the time, on most subjects, Rebublicans are...
The Craigslist Vasectomy
I got a vasectomy. I met a girl soon...
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and...
How a Poor Boy Became the Richest Man in the World
Andrew Carnegie rose from humble beginnings as a factory...
Who Shot Down MH17? Reuters Lies…
A witness, whom Reuters reported saying he saw a...
The Wal-Mart Story
Why do they Hate Customers? One-hundred percent of the...
In Praise of Stupidity
The simple man heads straight for his goal like...
Stock Market Crashes, Then and Now…
The endless low interest, QE, and bond purchasing programs...
Animal Rights and Wrongs
A “right” is something that cannot, or at least,...
Diversity is a Disaster.
Diversity is a disaster. Why people cannot see this...
Fighting Terror by Punishing You
Economist Martin Armstrong warns that the twin attacks in...
Dead Horse Solution
A boy named Chuck bought a horse from a...
Ancient Chinese Secret – The Wisdom of Lao-Tzu
Lao-tzu founded Taoism when he wrote the Tao Te...
A Short Guide to Kindness, Compassion, and Politics
A Cheapskate Christmas Carol
Ladies and gentlemen, take two minutes to read this...
The Truth About Population
With seven billion people already on our planet, some...
Why Johnny Can’t Rede
After today, you’ll never have to read about education...
Black and Green
Eric Garner’s death was a senseless act of State...
How to Get Rich in Congress
Isn’t it strange how often middle class people get...
The Rolling Stone Rape Fiasco
The fiasco of “Rolling Stone” magazine’s apology for an...
Are Typhoons Getting Worse?
No one likes typhoons, with the possible exception of...
The True Story of Pearl Harbor
The day after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt stood...
No Man is an Island (Except This Guy)
My father wasn’t a king, he was a taxi...
History is for the Winners, Baby!
“History will be kind to me, for I intend...
10 Things Coffee Does to Your Brain
Legend has it that coffee was discovered 1500 years...
Ten Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime
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The Amazing Amazon
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Dumb Climate Deal is Dumberer
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returned from China...
The Tiny Dot
In this entertaining video, Larken Rose explains the amazing...
News and Other Lies
These days, most people get their news from a...
Are “We” the Government?
Most people consider ‘government’ to be an institution of...
The World’s Strangest Political Quiz
Forget about the Conservative, Liberal pigeonhole stereotypes. Opinions vary...
18 Year-Old-Girl Wins State Election
Saira Blair, an 18-year-old freshman at West Virginia University,...
Election Rejection
Republicans won large majorities in both the House and...
The Senator in Heaven
While walking down the street one day a corrupt...
Countries Versus The Big Idea: Part 2
At the start of the First World War, the...
United Breaks Guitars
A musician named Dave Carroll recently had difficulty with...
Money Won’t Fix Africa, Freedom Will
Here’s how my Aug. 11, 2003, column began: “Anyone...
Glorifying Hitler or Flinging Mud?
Enough is enough. At Salon.com I encounter an article...
Definition of a Liberal
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of...
Countries Versus The Big Idea, Part 1
I like countries. Not because I like imaginary lines...
Canada is Shocked
Canadians were shocked in recent weeks as two Canadian...
Hillary Clinton and the Dept. of Making Shit Up
Hillary Clinton told an audience in Massachusetts, “Don’t let...
The Race to the Bottom
The other day I saw one of those guys...
To Tell the Truth
I’m pushing Mr. X down to Radiology in his...
Gene Simmons Said What?
Gene Simmons has a lot to say when he...
Ms. Yellen’s Imaginary Halo
Arguably the most powerful woman in the world, Federal...
Ebola Payola?
In what appears to be a staged “news” event,...
The “Trickle Down” Straw Man
Among the suggestions being made for getting the American...
The Flawed Definition of Nerd
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The 20 Stupidest Things Politicians Ever Said
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Why Do Men Hate Shopping?
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Day One Report: US Open 9-Ball Championship
Day One of the world’s premier pool championship is...
Real Life Policing Ain’t What You Think…
I sometimes wish that people knew more about cops,...
Ebola: Panic and Common Sense
The United States will begin “thermal screenings” of passengers...
IMF Wants to Reduce Risk by Encouraging Risk
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) finally realized what should...
Top 10 Deadliest Jobs
One might reasonably expect to find “hero” jobs such...
Anybody Seen America?
Mail arrives, telling me that by going to Mexico...
Apple vs. The FBI
Apple and Google recently announced that they are encrypting...
Eat More. Eat Smart.
A common misconception about weight loss is “eat less,...
Checking My White Male Privilege
Several decades ago, I was born. Purely by chance,...
Would You Like Toilet Water With Your Fries?
Would you rather have ice in your soda, or...
How Tyranny Came to America
One of the great goals of education is to...
Confessions of a Transgender.
A Redditt user who identified herself as transgender posted...
Do It Yourself Jihadism
Last week, Australian authorities thwarted a plan by Islamic...
Beating the Libertarian Strawman
If there is one thing that both liberal and...
Are Men Obsolete?
In a recent debate to decide the fate of...
No One Should Make that Trip Alone
The old veteran looked down at the boy and...
Permission Granted
I don’t know what it is with my generation...
A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Prozac Go Down?
What if psychiatric drugs like Prozac and Zoloft were...
Dodd-Frank Law Bait and Switch
If you ever want to know the purpose of...
Alton Nolan and White Privilege
After being fired from his job at a food...
The 13 Million Dollar Question
A little while ago, I was invited to participate...
The Forbidden Car
The Forbidden City in Beijing used to be reserved...
UFOs: The Coyne Helicopter Incident
An Army Reserve helicopter nearly collided with a UFO...
The Bizarre Reason Your Health Insurance Plan was Cancelled
“If you like your plan you can…” oh never...
Never Underestimate a Boy Band
Every time some dumb Japanese politician (all over 65)...
Save the Women and Children… from Women?
LaTesha is a tough girl from Queens, NY, with...
What’s A Living Wage?
While we talk about democracy and equal rights, we...
Scotland has more Sheep than People
I once read that “Scotland has more sheep than...
Who Shot Down MH-17?
Not surprisingly, the Russian Union of Engineers accuse the...
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On the night of July 17, 1957, a UFO...
Lending a Helping Hand, and Lifting a Finger.
Yesterday while waiting for my friend to open the...
MSNBC Host Picks Rand Paul over Hillary
Former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur, says he would bet...
Sean Connery on Scottish Independence
Having been on this journey to independence for more...
What Would Braveheart Do?
By Patrick Buchanan No matter how the vote turns...
Rethinking Sexual Abstinence in the Christian Church
In the face of child molestation scandals, Pope Francis...
A Letter of Separation of Right from Left.
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Winning by Losing: How Sanctions Really (Don’t) Work.
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4 Lousy Reasons the U.K. Doesn’t want to Break Up with Scotland
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Nicola Tesla on Women: Shocking!
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Hooray for the Criminals!
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Good News for Polar Bears
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You’re Doing it Wrong
The “narrative” of Ferguson, Missouri changed somewhat. But, amid...
Think and Grow Rich
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What Cops Really Do
The police are out of control all across the...
Has Hillary Ever Been Right?
By Patrick J. Buchanan Sen. Rand Paul raises an...
Killing People is Not Nice.
I believe in equality. That is not to say...
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New York Mayor De Blasio wants to ‘solve’ social...
Irwin Schiff wants to know why he is in jail.
86 years old, partly blind, and lacking legal counsel,...
Minimum Rage
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A Message from Elena
This video was released a month before the Malaysian...
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Permission granted
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April 18th, 2015
Isaiah’s Job

image

Isaiah’s Job is from Chapter 13 of Albert J. Nock’s Free Speech and Plain Language.

One evening last autumn, I sat long hours with a European acquaintance while he expounded a political-economic doctrine which seemed sound as a nut and in which I could find no defect.

At the end, he said with great earnestness: “I have a mission to the masses. I feel that I am called to get the ear of the people. I shall devote the rest of my life to spreading my doctrine far and wide among the population.

What do you think?”

An embarrassing question in any case, and doubly so under the circumstances, because my acquaintance is a very learned man, one of the three or four really first-class minds that Europe produced in his generation; and naturally I, as one of the unlearned, was inclined to regard his lightest word with reverence amounting to awe.

Still, I reflected, even the greatest mind cannot possibly know everything, and I was pretty sure he had not had my opportunities for observing the masses of mankind, and that therefore I probably knew them better than he did.

So I mustered courage to say that he had no such mission and would do well to get the idea out of his head at once; he would find that the masses would not care two pins for his doctrine, and still less for himself, since in such circumstances the popular favorite is generally some Barabbas.

I even went so far as to say (he is a Jew) that his idea seemed to show that he was not very well up on his own native literature. He smiled at my jest, and asked what I meant by it; and I referred him to the story of the prophet Isaiah.

It occurred to me then that this story is much worth recalling just now when so many wise men and soothsayers appear to be burdened with a message to the masses.

Dr. Townsend has a message, Father Coughlin has one, Mr. Upton Sinclair, Mr. Lippmann, Mr. Chase and the planned-economy brethren, Mr. Tugwell and the New Dealers, Mr. Smith and Liberty Leaguers — the list is endless.

I cannot remember a time when so many energumens were so variously proclaiming the Word to the multitude and telling them what they must do to be saved. This being so, it occurred to me, as I say, that the story of Isaiah might have something in it to steady and compose the human spirit until this tyranny of windiness is overpast.

I shall paraphrase the story in our common speech, since it has to be pieced out from various sources; and inasmuch as respectable scholars have thought fit to put out a whole new version of the Bible in the American vernacular, I shall take shelter behind them, if need be, against the charge of dealing irreverently with the Sacred Scriptures.

The prophet’s career began at the end of King Uzziah’s reign, say about 740 B.C. This reign was uncommonly long, almost half a century, and apparently prosperous.

It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash.

In the year of Uzziah’s death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters.

Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen.

They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point.

There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on.

“Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything — I do not offer any opinion about that, — the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant.

Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it. This is a very striking and suggestive idea; but before going on to explore it, we need to be quite clear about our terms.

What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant?

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority.

The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses.

The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass man — be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper — gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak minded and weak willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. The mass woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible.

The list of luxury products that she patronized is interesting; it calls to mind the women’s page of a Sunday newspaper in 1928, or the display set forth in one of our professedly “smart” periodicals. In another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.”

It may be fair to discount Isaiah’s vivacity a little for prophetic fervor; after all, since his real job was not to convert the masses but to brace and reassure the Remnant, he probably felt that he might lay it on indiscriminately and as thick as he liked — in fact, that he was expected to do so. But even so, the Judean mass man must have been a most objectionable individual, and the mass woman utterly odious.

If the modern spirit, whatever that may be, is disinclined towards taking the Lord’s word at its face value (as I hear is the case), we may observe that Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority.

Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts. Curiously, too, he applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; “there is but a very small remnant,” he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character — too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses.

But Isaiah was a preacher and Plato a philosopher; and we tend to regard preachers and philosophers rather as passive observers of the drama of life than as active participants. Hence in a matter of this kind their judgment might be suspected of being a little uncompromising, a little acrid, or as the French say, saugrenu.

We may therefore bring forward another witness who was preeminently a man of affairs, and whose judgment cannot lie under this suspicion. Marcus Aurelius was ruler of the greatest of empires, and in that capacity he not only had the Roman mass man under observation, but he had him on his hands 24 hours a day for 18 years.

What he did not know about him was not worth knowing and what he thought of him is abundantly attested on almost every page of the little book of jottings which he scribbled offhand from day to day, and which he meant for no eye but his own ever to see.

This view of the masses is the one that we find prevailing at large among the ancient authorities whose writings have come down to us. In the 18th century, however, certain European philosophers spread the notion that the mass man, in his natural state, is not at all the kind of person that earlier authorities made him out to be, but on the contrary, that he is a worthy object of interest.

His untowardness is the effect of environment, an effect for which “society” is somehow responsible. If only his environment permitted him to live according to his lights, he would undoubtedly show himself to be quite a fellow; and the best way to secure a more favorable environment for him would be to let him arrange it for himself.

The French Revolution acted powerfully as a springboard for this idea, projecting its influence in all directions throughout Europe.

On this side of the ocean a whole new continent stood ready for a large-scale experiment with this theory. It afforded every conceivable resource whereby the masses might develop a civilization made in their own likeness and after their own image.

There was no force of tradition to disturb them in their preponderance, or to check them in a thoroughgoing disparagement of the Remnant. Immense natural wealth, unquestioned predominance, virtual isolation, freedom from external interference and the fear of it, and, finally, a century and a half of time — such are the advantages which the mass man has had in bringing forth a civilization which should set the earlier preachers and philosophers at naught in their belief that nothing substantial can be expected from the masses, but only from the Remnant.

His success is unimpressive. On the evidence so far presented one must say, I think, that the mass man’s conception of what life has to offer, and his choice of what to ask from life, seem now to be pretty well what they were in the times of Isaiah and Plato; and so too seem the catastrophic social conflicts and convulsions in which his views of life and his demands on life involve him.

I do not wish to dwell on this, however, but merely to observe that the monstrously inflated importance of the masses has apparently put all thought of a possible mission to the Remnant out of the modern prophet’s head. This is obviously quite as it should be, provided that the earlier preachers and philosophers were actually wrong, and that all final hope of the human race is actually centered in the masses.

If, on the other hand, it should turn out that the Lord and Isaiah and Plato and Marcus Aurelius were right in their estimate of the relative social value of the masses and the Remnant, the case is somewhat different. Moreover, since with everything in their favor the masses have so far given such an extremely discouraging account of themselves, it would seem that the question at issue between these two bodies of opinion might most profitably be reopened.

But without following up this suggestion, I wish only, as I said, to remark the fact that as things now stand Isaiah’s job seems rather to go begging. Everyone with a message nowadays is, like my venerable European friend, eager to take it to the masses.

His first, last and only thought is of mass acceptance and mass approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses’ attention and interest.

This attitude towards the masses is so exclusive, so devout, that one is reminded of the troglodytic monster described by Plato, and the assiduous crowd at the entrance to its cave, trying obsequiously to placate it and win its favor, trying to interpret its inarticulate noises, trying to find out what it wants, and eagerly offering it all sorts of things that they think might strike its fancy.

The main trouble with all this is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one’s doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo.

If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly.

If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins.

Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.

Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly.

Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen; and knowing also that nothing was to be expected of the masses under any circumstances, he made no specific appeal to them, did not accommodate his message to their measure in any way, and did not care two straws whether they heeded it or not.

As a modern publisher might put it, he was not worrying about circulation or about advertising. Hence, with all such obsessions quite out of the way, he was in a position to do his level best, without fear or favor, and answerable only to his august Boss.

If a prophet were not too particular about making money out of his mission or getting a dubious sort of notoriety out of it, the foregoing considerations would lead one to say that serving the Remnant looks like a good job. An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants.

They ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one’s resources of prophesy. The Remnant, on the other hand, want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied; you have nothing more to worry about. The prophet of the American masses must aim consciously at the lowest common denominator of intellect, taste, and character among 120,000,000 people; and this is a distressing task. The prophet of the Remnant, on the contrary, is in the enviable position of Papa Haydn in the household of Prince Esterhazy.

All Haydn had to do was keep forking out the very best music he knew how to produce, knowing it would be understood and appreciated by those for whom he produced it, and caring not a button what anyone else thought of it — and that makes a good job.

In a sense, nevertheless, as I have said, it is not a rewarding job. If you can touch the fancy of the masses, and have the sagacity to keep always one jump ahead of their vagaries and vacillations, you can get good returns in money from serving the masses, and good returns also in a mouth-to-ear type of notoriety:

Digito monstrari et dicier, Hic est!

We all know innumerable politicians, journalists, dramatists, novelists and the like, who have done extremely well by themselves in these ways. Taking care of the Remnant, on the contrary, holds little promise of any such rewards.

A prophet of the Remnant will not grow purse proud on the financial returns from his work, nor is it likely that he will get any great renown out of it. Isaiah’s case was exceptional to this second rule, and there are others, but not many.

It may be thought, then, that while taking care of the Remnant is no doubt a good job, it is not an especially interesting job because it is as a rule so poorly paid.

I have my doubts about this. There are other compensations to be got out of a job besides money and notoriety, and some of them seem substantial enough to be attractive.

Many jobs which do not pay well are yet profoundly interesting, as, for instance, the job of research student in the sciences is said to be; and the job of looking after the Remnant seems to me, as I have surveyed it for many years from my seat in the grandstand, to be as interesting as any that can be found in the world.

What chiefly makes it so, I think, is that in any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity. You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those — dead sure, as our phrase is — but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at anything else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do.

Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness; and this, I should say, is just the condition calculated most effectively to pique the interest of any prophet who is properly gifted with the imagination, insight and intellectual curiosity necessary to a successful pursuit of his trade.

The fascination and the despair of the historian, as he looks back upon Isaiah’s Jewry, upon Plato’s Athens, or upon Rome of the Antonines, is the hope of discovering and laying bare the “substratum of right thinking and well doing” which he knows must have existed somewhere in those societies because no kind of collective life can possibly go on without it.

He finds tantalizing intimations of it here and there in many places, as in the Greek Anthology, in the scrapbook of Aulus Gellius, in the poems of Ausonius, and in the brief and touching tribute, Bene merenti, bestowed upon the unknown occupants of Roman tombs.

But these are vague and fragmentary; they lead him nowhere in his search for some kind of measure on this substratum, but merely testify to what he already knew a priori — that the substratum did somewhere exist. Where it was, how substantial it was, what its power of self-assertion and resistance was — of all this they tell him nothing.

Similarly, when the historian of 2,000 years hence, or 200 years, looks over the available testimony to the quality of our civilization and tries to get any kind of clear, competent evidence concerning the substratum of right thinking and well doing which he knows must have been here, he will have a devil of a time finding it.

When he has assembled all he can and has made even a minimum allowance for speciousness, vagueness, and confusion of motive, he will sadly acknowledge that his net result is simply nothing.

A Remnant were here, building a substratum like coral insects; so much he knows, but he will find nothing to put him on the track of who and where and how many they were and what their work was like.

Concerning all this, too, the prophet of the present knows precisely as much and as little as the historian of the future; and that, I repeat, is what makes his job seem to me so profoundly interesting.

One of the most suggestive episodes recounted in the Bible is that of a prophet’s attempt — the only attempt of the kind on the record, I believe — to count up the Remnant.

Elijah had fled from persecution into the desert, where the Lord presently overhauled him and asked what he was doing so far away from his job.

He said that he was running away, not because he was a coward, but because all the Remnant had been killed off except himself. He had got away only by the skin of his teeth, and, he being now all the Remnant there was, if he were killed the True Faith would go flat.

The Lord replied that he need not worry about that, for even without him the True Faith could probably manage to squeeze along somehow if it had to.

“And as for your figures on the Remnant,” He said, “I don’t mind telling you that there are 7,000 of them back there in Israel whom it seems you have not heard of, but you may take My word for it that there they are.”

At that time, probably the population of Israel could not run to much more than a million or so; and a Remnant of 7,000 out of a million is a highly encouraging percentage for any prophet. With 7,000 of the boys on his side, there was no great reason for Elijah to feel lonesome; and incidentally, that would be something for the modern prophet of the Remnant to think of when he has a touch of the blues.

But the main point is that if Elijah the Prophet could not make a closer guess on the number of the Remnant than he made when he missed it by 7,000, anyone else who tackled the problem would only waste his time.

The other certainty which the prophet of the Remnant may always have is that the Remnant will find him. He may rely on that with absolute assurance. They will find him without his doing anything about it; in fact, if he tries to do anything about it, he is pretty sure to put them off.

He does not need to advertise for them nor resort to any schemes of publicity to get their attention. If he is a preacher or a public speaker, for example, he may be quite indifferent to going on show at receptions, getting his picture printed in the newspapers, or furnishing autobiographical material for publication on the side of “human interest.”

If a writer, he need not make a point of attending any pink teas, autographing books at wholesale, nor entering into any specious freemasonry with reviewers. All this and much more of the same order lies in the regular and necessary routine laid down for the prophet of the masses; it is, and must be, part of the great general technique of getting the mass man’s ear — or as our vigorous and excellent publicist, Mr. H.L. Mencken, puts it, the technique of boob bumping.

The prophet of the Remnant is not bound to this technique. He may be quite sure that the Remnant will make their own way to him without any adventitious aids; and not only so, but if they find him employing any such aids, as I said, it is ten to one that they will smell a rat in them and will sheer off.

The certainty that the Remnant will find him, however, leaves the prophet as much in the dark as ever, as helpless as ever in the matter of putting any estimate of any kind upon the Remnant; for, as appears in the case of Elijah, he remains ignorant of who they are that have found him or where they are or how many.

They did not write in and tell him about it, after the manner of those who admire the vedettes of Hollywood, nor yet do they seek him out and attach themselves to his person.

They are not that kind.

They take his message much as drivers take the directions on a roadside signboard — that is, with very little thought about the signboard, beyond being gratefully glad that it happened to be there, but with every thought about the directions.

This impersonal attitude of the Remnant wonderfully enhances the interest of the imaginative prophet’s job. Once in a while, just about often enough to keep his intellectual curiosity in good working order, he will quite accidentally come upon some distinct reflection of his own message in an unsuspected quarter.

This enables him to entertain himself in his leisure moments with agreeable speculations about the course his message may have taken in reaching that particular quarter, and about what came of it after it got there. Most interesting of all are those instances, if one could only run them down (but one may always speculate about them), where the recipient himself no longer knows where nor when nor from whom he got the message — or even where, as sometimes happens, he has forgotten that he got it anywhere and imagines that it is all a self-sprung idea of his own.

Such instances as these are probably not infrequent, for, without presuming to enroll ourselves among the Remnant, we can all no doubt remember having found ourselves suddenly under the influence of an idea, the source of which we cannot possibly identify. “It came to us afterward,” as we say; that is, we are aware of it only after it has shot up fullgrown in our minds, leaving us quite ignorant of how and when and by what agency it was planted there and left to germinate.

It seems highly probable that the prophet’s message often takes some such course with the Remnant.

If, for example, you are a writer or a speaker or a preacher, you put forth an idea which lodges in the Unbewußtsein of a casual member of the Remnant and sticks fast there.

For some time it is inert; then it begins to fret and fester until presently it invades the man’s conscious mind and, as one might say, corrupts it. Meanwhile, he has quite forgotten how he came by the idea in the first instance, and even perhaps thinks he has invented it; and in those circumstances, the most interesting thing of all is that you never know what the pressure of that idea will make him do.

For these reasons it appears to me that Isaiah’s job is not only good but also extremely interesting; and especially so at the present time when nobody is doing it.

If I were young and had the notion of embarking in the prophetical line, I would certainly take up this branch of the business; and therefore I have no hesitation about recommending it as a career for anyone in that position. It offers an open field, with no competition; our civilization so completely neglects and disallows the Remnant that anyone going in with an eye single to their service might pretty well count on getting all the trade there is

Even assuming that there is some social salvage to be screened out of the masses, even assuming that the testimony of history to their social value is a little too sweeping, that it depresses hopelessness a little too far, one must yet perceive, I think, that the masses have prophets enough and to spare. Even admitting that in the teeth of history that hope of the human race may not be quite exclusively centered in the Remnant, one must perceive that they have social value enough to entitle them to some measure of prophetic encouragement and consolation, and that our civilization allows them none whatever.

Every prophetic voice is addressed to the masses, and to them alone; the voice of the pulpit, the voice of education, the voice of politics, of literature, drama, journalism — all these are directed towards the masses exclusively, and they marshal the masses in the way that they are going.

One might suggest, therefore, that aspiring prophetical talent may well turn to another field. Sat patriae Priamoque datum — whatever obligation of the kind may be due the masses is already monstrously overpaid.

So long as the masses are taking up the tabernacle of Moloch and Chiun, their images, and following the star of their god Buncombe, they will have no lack of prophets to point the way that leadeth to the More Abundant Life; and hence a few of those who feel the prophetic afflatus might do better to apply themselves to serving the Remnant.

It is a good job, an interesting job, much more interesting than serving the masses; and moreover it is the only job in our whole civilization, as far as I know, that offers a virgin field.

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Isaiah’s Job is from Chapter 13 of Albert J. Nock’s Free Speech and Plain Language.

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