The Great Revolution, Part I Introduction, Section A


My subject for this series is the Great Revolution that has obliterated our knowledge of human nature, eliminated the distinctions between man and beast, male and female, adult and child, just and unjust, beautiful and ugly, and re-invented the human race as a hybrid, part invertebrate and part robot.  Since I have written and published a great deal, in books, essays, and reviews, on human nature and the particular duties entailed by our status as friends, family members, parents, citizens, and co-religionists, and am about to launch a new work that takes the argument further, I can scarcely summarize even the leading points of what I have written.  Nonetheless, a few basic principles should be stated.

First, man himself.  From a strictly natural/biological point of view, we are big-brained apes, whose intelligence and aggression have been intertwined with our eating habits.  Although we are not carnivores, we eat a great deal more meat than the chimpanzees with whom we share nearly all of our genes.   Although we are more than beasts, we are not angelic beings, not even potentially, and soar as we might in our imaginations and our spirits, our feet are stuck in the mud shared by chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.  The moment we are seduced into forgetting our condition (as both Aristotle and Sherlock Holmes remind us), we do not rise up above nature but fall below it into the lowest bestiality.

But man is more sociable than apes and forms larger societies in which the relations of kinship and marriage are the bedrock, and the inequalities of age and sex, rank and ability, proximity and distance (both geographically and genetically) are a mainspring of our social development.  In general, it is a natural law that youth defers to age, child to parent, female to male, alien to local resident, poor to rich, weak to strong, and lowborn to highborn.  We are not, of course, social insects, as Marxists and other ideologues would have us, but a pack of predatory apes, forever feuding and jockeying for position. 

Like our ape cousins, we acknowledge certain places and things as ours as opposed to someone else’s, and as humans we go further in establishing and maintaining a home base for us, our families, and our retainers, and we regard it as a duty to defend that base against aggressors, intruders, and anyone who wishes to share our life without our consent.  While we can speak of such a thing as a generic human nature—and it is important that we clarify what this means—we do not exist generically but specifically as male or female, noble or ignoble, European or Asian or African, Christian or Muslim or Jew, and the pretense that we can live as generic persons in a generic world robs us of our dignity and our freedom. 

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Michael Strenk says:

    Any “science” that would substantially equate Cheetah with, say (so as not to fall into the neighborhood of blasphemy), Sophia Loren, is basically useless to attain to any good.

  2. Vince Cornell says:

    It’s interesting that one of the dominant themes in so-called conservative recent mocking of the insane liberal types is to refer to them as NPCs – Non-Playable Characters – a term derived from computer games. In modern video games, there are usually dozens of characters one can interact with that are not other players but generic figures driven by extremely crude AI. The insult is that they are unable to think for themselves and simply respond to the crude programming put in their head by the chief programmers. It even has a visual image of a simple, pointy-nose, gray-faced stick figure type of person.

    So the chief slander of the Conservative against the hysterical (“Orange Man Bad” “COVID fear” “Ukraine Good” “Abortion Essential”. . .) progressive types is actually to call them “generic persons.”

  3. Vince Cornell says:

    For reference, so as you can recognize it when encountering it in the wild, here’s the common NPC image.

  4. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    To parody the old conclusion to the program “The Naked City,” There are 300 million generic persons in America. Joe Biden is just one of them.

    Mr. Strenk is right, of course, but there are two opposing temptations, both fatal: The one he is alluding to I refer to as bestialism, while the opposite was described by Maritain as angelism.

  5. William Shofner says:

    The only hope we have to halt succumbing to our bestial state, as Shakespeare brilliantly stated in Act IV, Scene 2, of his masterful work “King Lear”, is as follows:

    “If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
    Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses,
    It will come,
    Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
    Like monsters of the deep.’

  6. Dom says:

    I want to laugh at the picture of the NPC, but sometimes feel like I could be looking in a mirror. Two years of lock downs and working remotely hasn’t help any. Thank goodness for family responsibilities.

  7. Frank Brownlow says:

    More from Lear, 4.2:
    Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
    Filths savor but themselves.