KOREA AS IT WAS: From Punchy Company – A Memoir of the Cold War

PUNCHY COMPANY, A Memoir of the Cold War

PUNCHY COMPANY, A Memoir of the Cold War

Simon Winchester observed that Korea is “…a society of almost total ethnic purity…. [which] … can at times be a frightening phenomenon and is one of the reasons for the power and energy of the miraculous economic performance the nation has displayed….  The whole country, on certain topics, thinks perfectly alike; the whole country, when urged in certain directions, can be an unstoppable giant, everyone working in concert, no disagreement, all with the same degree of comprehension and sympathy.”[i]  This, I believe, is the core reason for Korea’s success, not just one of the reasons, but the reason.

In America, by contrast, there is only increasing division.  For example, any discussion of “total ethnic purity” here tends to draw the ire of intellectuals: university professors, politicians, journalists, and other self-styled thinkers-of-great-moment.  When breaching such a topic, one must be prepared for their breathlessly malevolent charges of racism, which will surely follow.  Tolerance and listening are not among their strong points, for while I was away; they were busy dumbing down, without any effective resistance, many an upcoming, eager, young mind. Their vehicles for doing this were primarily two: the American Academy, and the so called mainstream media.  Yet most,”… disheartening was the reaction of many historians to New Left revisionists of the 1960s, when the scholarship of [their] books was wanting.  As Maddox [Robert James] wrote, “Reviewers who had been known to pounce with scarcely disguised glee on some poor wretch who incorrectly transcribed a middle initial or date of birth have shown a most extraordinary reluctance to expose even the most obvious New Left fictions,” including false statements of fact to which tens of thousands of students were subsequently exposed in American colleges and universities.”[ii]

“As the proverb tells us that a single drop from the largest vessel suffices to tell us the nature of the whole contents, so we should regard the subject now under discussion.  When we find one or two false statements in a book and they prove to be deliberate ones, it is evident that not a word written by such an author is any longer certain and reliable.”[iii] This ancient lesson is forsaken in today’s American Academy; else political correctness would never have taken such firm hold. Its misrepresentations, deceits, deceptions, distortions, slanting, falsehoods, and out and out lies, daily presented to countless classrooms in print and speech, are legion.

And so, tragically, while I was learning firsthand how the real world worked, masses of my countrymen were being led astray; increasingly succumbing to the nonsense spewed forth via the media and the American Academy: Diversity is strength, and other such politically-correct gibberish… patently untrue. This dichotomy, living in two different civilizations, made it all the clearer to me.   America was heading down the wrong road, and it hasn’t stopped yet.  Consider, the Oxford English Dictionary defines diverse as, “Different in character or quality; not of the same kind; not alike in nature or qualities.”  It defines diversity as, “The condition or quality of being diverse, different, or varied; difference, unlikeness.”  Korea, by this definition, which is the most accurate available, is not diverse.  Wow!  Then how did they manage to succeed?  According to the American Academy, diversity is strength, but that flies in the face of reality, clearly.

Yet here at home, wrongheaded belief in diversity as strength is widely, and regrettably, gospel.  It is an article of faith, and yes, such New Left fictions, pumped mercilessly into innocent, unwashed, and gullible minds, are the only possible explanation.  Else wise it remains mystifying, for when has diversity led America in any direction whatever?  When has it made America an unstoppable giant?  How can diversity work in concert, one for all, with no disagreement, and corresponding comprehension and sympathy?  What rubbish!  Americans have not worked closely together in any direction since August of 1968, not even after infamous 911, when only the briefest of brief reprieves brought us momentarily together to denounce radical Islam, the mad agent of that attack.  Diversity, in every sense of the word, has taken United out of United States, and that is not a good thing.  It is not progress.  It is not even moral, for uniting―not dividing―to a common purpose won the Second World War.  Diversity and divisiveness tend otherwise, and lead only to a fall.

Thus it is that the guardrails fell; political correctness took root; Americans lost their way, which is most aptly summarized in the following excerpt from Daniel Henninger’s Wall Street Journal editorial, No Guardrails, which first appeared on March 18, 1993:

“We think it is possible to identify the date when the U.S., or more precisely when many people within it, began to tip off the emotional tracks. A lot of people won’t like this date, because it makes their political culture culpable for what has happened. The date is August 1968, when the Democratic National Convention found itself sharing Chicago with the street fighters of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

The real blame here does not lie with the mobs who fought bloody battles with the hysterical Chicago police. The larger responsibility falls on the intellectuals–university professors, politicians and journalistic commentators–who said then that the acts committed by the protesters were justified or explainable. That was the beginning. After Chicago, the justifications never really stopped. America had a new culture, for political action and personal living.

With great rhetorical firepower, books, magazines, opinion columns and editorials defended each succeeding act of defiance–against the war, against university presidents, against corporate practices, against behavior codes, against dress codes, against virtually all agents of established authority.”

So much for diversity, part and parcel of political correctness:  Just do it; go your own way; do your own thing.  Too bad.  It’s better to come together sometimes, but we Americans no longer do that, so I remind you: when I was born, there were 140 million Americans.  By my 65th year that number had more than doubled to 312 million, so very many more, in a very different country, made up of very different people.  I was, of course, an American citizen by birthright; part and parcel of American civilization.  I was fortunate, yes.  No matter.  Things change.  I understand, but change is not always for the better, which is confirmed, too, by another germane observation made by Dr. John Lukacs:

“When in 1969 nearly half a million young Americans streamed to and crowded into a “festival” near Woodstock, New York, slews of disquisitions and articles declared this, breathlessly, as a revolution without precedent, with tremendous unforeseeable social and political consequences.  In reality it resulted in nothing.  What endured after the sixties were the mutations of behaviour, ranging from clothes to habits, of manners as much as morals.  I am not writing this out of nostalgia for the America of the 1940s or 1950s: for the germinating symptoms of these changes had already been there.  Then, latest in the 1960s, the bourgeois and urban chapter in the history of the United States of America came to its very end.

As in so many instances this was (and still is) obscured by the falseness of the words categorizing it―with the result of problems wrongly stated.  The enduring changes involved not “culture” but civilization.  Civilization is a word that appears in English only in 1601, with its definition: “an emergence from barbarism.” The intellectualization of the word culture, mostly of German origin, came much later.  The elevation of its prestige over civilization has caused enormous harm, especially in the history of Germany.  When civilization is strong and widespread enough, “culture” will appear and take care of itself.”[iv]

I agree with Dr. Lukacs, and think, too, that as a nation, we might be devolving to a new Dark Age, of course; it is still too early to tell for sure, but the danger is real.

Such musings come to me ever more frequently with the passage of time, especially concerning America as once I knew her.  Things change, of course, but again, not necessarily for the better.  Why do I say this?  Because I have been paying rapt attention, and note with some trepidation that our country no longer encourages her young men to military service.  This, it has been widely recognized for millennia, tends to weakness:

“…young men began their early training with military service, so that they might grow accustomed to command by obeying, and learn how to lead by following others….” [v]

“In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which it was their interest, as well as duty, to maintain.” [vi]

Today, however, military service is out; self is in, yet in spite of this, at least in the short run, our military remains the best in the world by any measure, yet that will not last because the military spirit of the people has all but evaporated.  Mere cheering, “Rah, Rah, Rah, Sis-boom Bah,” cannot compensate for such a loss.

Yes, younger people today, programmed by political correctness, hold “…in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony….”[vii]  No good can come of this, at least if dire times to come, and they surely will, for “Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world?  It does not matter so much to old people [like me]; they are going soon anyway; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activity and ardour… and wonder what would lie before them if God wearied of mankind?”[viii] That too, ought to give us pause…

But still, I remember a better time, and for this reason, even  now, especially in the mornings when I slowly come to, I hear that old Korean man with his two-wheeled cart, clanging that past-world to life, and what a world it was. – Chapter Four-Here and There, Then and Now, Punchy Company, Copyright 2012, Peter Michael Solstad, Mare Pacificum, Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

[i] Korea, A Walk through the Land of Miracles, Copyright © 1988 by Simon Winchester, Prentice Hall Press, Page 194.

[ii] “…more disheartening was the reaction of many historians to the New Left revisionists of the 1960s, when the scholarship of those books was wanting.  As Maddox [Robert] wrote, “Reviewers who had been known to pounce with scarcely disguised glee on some poor wretch who incorrectly transcribed a middle initial or date of birth have shown a most extraordinary reluctance to expose even the most obvious New Left fictions,” including false statements of fact to which tens of thousands of students were subsequently exposed in American colleges and universities.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 150, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

[iii] — Polybius, The Histories, Volume IV, The Loeb Classical Library (LCL 138), Book XII, Page369, year 2000.

[iv] Last Rites, Copyright ©2009 by John Lukacs, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, Page 58.

[v] — Pliny, Letters, Books VIII-X, Panegyricus, The Loeb Classical Library (LCL 59), Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Page 35, year 2004.

[vi] “In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which it was their interest, as well as duty, to maintain.  But in proportion as the public freedom was lost in extent of conquest, war was gradually improved into an art, and degraded into a trade.” ― The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Volume I, 180 A. D. ― 395 A. D., Page 9, The Modern Library, New York, Random House.

[vii] “They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled, but their languid souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action.” ― The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Volume III, 1185 A. D. ― 1453 A. D., Page 299, The Modern Library, New York, Random House.

[viii] “There is, finally, a splendid and moving proof of Jenkins’s ear, a quotation from Churchill’s last speech in the House of Commons, 1955: .…notable for at least one unforgettable phrase which illuminated the dreadful prospect like a sheet of lightning on a desolate landscape: “Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world?  It does not matter so much to old people; they are going soon anyway; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activity and ardour… and wonder what would lie before them if God wearied of mankind?” Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter 29, Roy Jenkins, Page 282, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

-End-

The Author

The Author


 

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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