Coronavirus, Crisis, and ‘Opportunity’

A recent CNN piece that discusses the percentages of black Americans in three locations and the relative population size by infection rate. The article subtly hints at what some, more radical progressive public figures, have been claiming – that there is inequity caused by discrimination therefore the government must provide universal healthcare for all.  This is crisis/problem creation, straight from Saul Alinsky’s Rules.  


A recent CNN article[1] demonstrates the propensity of the left-liberal media to act as sophists[2] executing what one might argue is a direct application of Saul Alinsky’s Rules. Alinsky argued that “revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude”.[3] He also argued that the first task of revolution is to create issues or problems.[4] As the events of coronavirus drag on, we are beginning to see more news articles and discussions of how the ‘crisis’ impact favored progressive issues – this is essentially narrative building.

Yan and Holcombe in their CNN piece discuss Chicago, Louisiana, Michigan, and New Jersey comparing the total racial makeup of each area, and that to the incidence of confirmed COVID-19 infections. For example, the article states that in Chicago 70% of those infected are African-American while that population comprises 32% of the total. Quoting a representative from a group called The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law the group stated it wants to “ensure that communities of color receive equitable treatment during the crisis”.[5] This sort of piece subtly echoes what more radical progressive elements are saying, it is part of a narrative, creating the problem as Alinsky suggested. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated that “inequality is a comorbidity”[6] and that “[w]e need to drop the Medicare eligibility age to [zero] right now”.[7] The CNN article mentioned above lacked context, failed to address other potential underlying causes that might explain the numbers presented and left the reader with one presented solution, ‘the discrepancy must be related to discrimination’. It is part of a greater narrative effort.

This progressive narrative is wrong on several counts. Thomas Sowell points out that the state of healthcare in a nation is rarely an indicator of people’s health.[8] It ignores the fact that we will “always have the poor”. (Mathew 26:11 ESV) It is blind to the fact that every time governments try to eliminate all poverty, they only succeed in lowing wealth overall.  However, the CNN piece and the emerging narrative from the far progressive left is reductionist as it sees one problem, inequity based upon discrimination, and one solution, government-run universal healthcare.

This is, of course, not the only plank of the progressive narrative being pushed. The Post Millennial reports that “Jealous of coronavirus, radical trans activists seek attention from Buzzfeed”.[9] On its face, this is so absurd[10] as to be unbelievable, yet this is part of the debate in the public square.  This is the result of what Alasdair MacIntyre termed the victory of Nietzsche and Weber over Aristotle.[11]

Recognizing the progressive narrative and Alinsky’s tactics is one thing, counteracting them is another matter. Shaffer in Manifesto points out that principles and real revival are required.[12] However, even from what we might consider now an innocent perspective in 1981, he foresaw real change might require something more extreme.[13]

Public policy based upon the Weberism and emotivism that MacIntyre describes as the prevailing worldview[14] is flawed. It is antithetical to the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded. It is ultimately absurd because it does not comport with proven economic principles and does not align with the observations of history. If America is to traverse this crisis and those to follow with any semblance of freedom, right-reasoned government and morality we must act. The sophist, the progressive narrative weavers and the “useful idiots”[15] must be denounced or converted. Old assumptions about the value of enlightenment thinking must be reexamined.[16] The center can no longer hold. Two such opposing worldviews cannot coexist. Only poverty, tyranny, suffering and persecution can follow the complete victory of progressivism.[17]

[1] Yan, M, Holcombe, M., “Coronavirus hitting some African American communities extremely hard”, CNN, 6 April, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/health/us-coronavirus-updates-monday/index.html

[2] See Aristotle's Ethics: Writings from the Complete Works - Revised Edition. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 2014. (EE 1.6 1217 1-6), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Aristotle_s_Ethics/NGmYDwAAQBAJ. via Strauss, Leo, Cropsey, Joseph. History of Political Philosophy. United States: University of Chicago Press, 2012. p. 121. https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Political_Philosophy/E7mScxst9UoC.

[3] Alinsky, Saul D., Rules for Radicals. United States: Random House, 1972. p. xix. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Rules_for_Radicals/4LbvAQAACAAJ.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Yan, M, Holcombe, M., “Coronavirus hitting some African American communities extremely hard”.

[6] See, https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1246091210449719296.

[7] See, https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1246134686092537862.

[8] Sowell, Thomas. Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. United States, Basic Books, 2008. p. 93. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Applied_Economics/gh4JdTv-t9sC.

[9] See, “Jealous of coronavirus, radical trans activists seek attention from Buzzfeed”, https://www.thepostmillennial.com/jealous-of-coronavirus-radical-trans-activists-seek-attention-from-buzzfeed.

[10] Clark, Barry, The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views (January 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523995 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3523995.

[11] MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. p.112. https://www.google.com/books/edition/After_Virtue/00rsK2Y98gQC.

[12] Schaeffer, Francis August. A Christian Manifesto. United Kingdom: Crossway Books, 1981. p. 71. https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Christian_Manifesto/eWHBcQAACAAJ.

[13] Ibid. 130.

[14] Ibid. 121.

[15] 1959, Congressional Record, Section: Appendix, Useful Idiots: Extension of Remarks of Hon. Edward J. Derwinski of Illinois in the House of Representatives on June 30, 1959, (Reprint of editorial from June 23 edition of the Chicago Daily Calumet), Page A5653, Column 2, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (LexisNexis Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection)

[16] See, “Government for the Common Good”, https://calhouninstitute.com/government-for-the-common-good/.

[17] Clark, Barry, From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism (December 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3506918.

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs.

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