The American Heroic Myth

I'm going to spend the next several years writing a dissertation somehow related to the concept of heroism in American literature. The first step in writing a dissertation is research, and the first step in researching is Google. This much is uncontroversial.

When you google "American hero myths," the second result is this amazing wingnut article about why America needs a hero myth to protect us from Marxism. I wouldn't have made much of this -- it's your standard-issue conservative True Believer stuff -- if it hadn't been for the about-the-author tagline at the bottom of the page.

Ron Liebermann is a contractor and manufacturer of mylar balloons in Louisville, Ky.

This article -- which begins by defining "hero" as "a legendary figure, often of divine descent, endowed with great strength or ability," and ends with the a "heroic call to greatness" which is "the path to freedom" --is by guy who makes balloons.

Now, far be it from me to castigate the mighty manufacturer. The balloon, after all, is a powerful metaphor for the ascent of the soul and for the enlargement of the mind. Thoreau's family made lead pencils, and he toiled many a weary day in the pencil factory... making pencils. Which are a great metaphor for writing... and also penises. Thoreau was able, in true Democratic fashion, to extricate himself from such a life of toil by elbow-grease, gumption, and a little cabin on a pond; and he landed himself in literary and political anthologies with his incisive insight about the state of men's souls and his vicious diagnosis of the modern world.

So let's see -- on a properly capitalist metric literary merit, in this case defined by how susceptible the source material is to satire -- how this guy stacks up. (Spoiler: Really super well.)

Somehow this article was written in 2002, 2 years into Dubya's phallic and virile reign. I didn't think the 2002 edition of the official Government Dictionary had already taken this stride, but Ron makes it clear that "the State defines heroism as triumph over adversity, or danger." We know on the other hand, comrades, that heroism is really about evil. But the state can't have that: "To call heroism a triumph over evil makes the state uncomfortable. It knows that an increasing number of Americans are engaged in a heroic battle against domestic tyranny, which is clearly evil. The State thus denies it's evil nature, all the while increasing it's tyranny." It's kinda hard to follow the logic here, so let me streamline it: the government is clearly evil, so it's uncomfortable being called evil. Cartoonish, mustache-twiddling villains are sensitive with the word "villain" the same way fat people are sensitive to the word "fat." It just hits a little too close to home, you know? I do dearly love the first of the typos that rounds out the quote -- The State denies it is evil nature. It's like that part in Army of Darkness where Ash gives shoulder-birth to his doppelganger, Bad Ash, who pokes him in the eyes and kicks him in the balls.

(Oh hai, what's domestic tyranny? Is someone tryin' to stop you from makin' balloons?)

So we've already seen good nature and evil nature, but hold on to your butts, because we're about to see supernature! "Government animosity towards heroism has it's roots in the conflict between Jeffersonian Democracy, and the Marxism we have today." It's very similar to the conflict 1985 Marty McFly had with 2015 Griff Tannen; all Marty (hero) wanted was to bring Jennifer safely back to 1985 and keep his future son from going to jail, but Griff (evil) wanted to hit him with his pneumatic bat and run over him with his gnarly Hoverboard. Similarly, all Jefferson wanted was to protect agrarian farmers from corrupt aristocrats and industrialists, and to provide a codified series of rights for all people regardless of wealth or social standing, but instead he had to travel to 2002 to rescue Jennifer from the evil Marxist government (Griff) and keep his principles (son) from falling into the hands of wicked bureaucrats (jail). The two line up so well it's barely even a metaphor.

Indeed, what really boggles the mind about evil Marxism is how it ever managed to dupe anybody in the first place, since it doesn't even try to hide its evilness (much like fat people before the invention of pinstripes). It might have something to do with the fact that Marxism is whatever the fuck this guy wants it to be. "Everyone knows, of course, that lack of effort does not create equality, it creates poverty." (C.f. the little-cited footnote on page 12 of The Communist Manifesto, "Nobody has to do anything under communism; no, I'm serious, you don't have to work, ever.")

Ron continues, "When a Marxist such as Al Sharpton promises to elevate the poor, he is really promising to deliver equality as an illusion." (Spoiler: in a second Ron will use Horatio Alger's protagonist Ragged Dick, the quintessential arbiter of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, as a central tenet of the American hero myth -- and while I knew Ragged Dick had a special place in American culture, I thought it was more because of our predilection for dry-humping in wool pants. Spoiler 2: Horatio Alger was white. Al Sharpton, not so much.)

But again, Ron: "Children are taught to expect reward without effort, and status without achievement. Military rank is a prime example: Promotion occurs as a result of political correctness. The ability to win battles is no longer a factor." I love this idea -- there's a whole new breed of kids rushing into the military because it's so easy. Seriously, boot camp? A breeze. Long tours overseas without contact with loved ones? A snap. Fear of death? A non-issue. All you have to do is not diddly-shit and you'll be promoted to Rear Admiral just because you're developmentally disabled, or Korean, or four inches shorter than average, or something. Affirmative action, baby! It's a disease! "The Marxist disconnection between effort and reward has resulted in a new pathology: The cult of non-effort." See, entitlement is emphatically not a problem among people whose parents are rich enough to provide for them, and to keep them from having to work for themselves. No, entitlement only rears its ugly head... well... in the military, I guess?

But the military isn't, after all, the best example of this new freeloader ethic now holding truck with the goddamn lazy kids. "To witness non-effort in action, tune to MTV. There, one can view young Anglo's Hanging Out and young blacks Chilling." Truer words, my friend -- truer words! It's some kind of wonderful zoo where you can go to see these fanciful creatures, "Anglo's" and "blacks," in their native habitat of narcotic indolence, a beautiful dance of idleness, "a celebration of sloth within a materialistic utopia." It's actually really beautiful. They don't do anything! MTV is straight out of a Keats poem, a pastoral choked with melody too soothingly beautiful to die yet too achingly beautiful to live.

But Ron, let's get specific, who are these anti-capitalists who want to cripple the free-market with their lazy-bonesed selves? "Kid Rock, Snoop Doggy Dog, and Puff Daddy are the primary arbiters of this worldview." Since it should be obvious that none of these men are proponents of the free market, and none of them have any interest doing stuff -- ie, Marxists -- we can forgive Ron for his indulgence in that time-honored defensive tactic, If I'm Such a Racist How Come I Included a White Guy? Marxists have no colors. Their color is evil.

But let's just take a look at a sample Snoop Doggy Dog [sic] lyric, in which he proclaims himself to be, "Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo, sippin' on gin and juice / Laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind." Sure, it implies a certain degree of relaxation, but it sounds to me like the relaxation that comes with a hard day's work. Surely Snoop is driving home from another day at the mylar balloon factory, indulging himself in a pair of relaxing adult beverages in his automobile -- and after all, who is the government to step on his right to drink Seagram's and smoke a fat sack on the interstate? The time to toil is over, and what is this but ciphering up the day's credits and debits, the gains and losses in his head? Not only is Snoop a model for the free market and for non-interference, he's also a model for fiscal responsibility. This guy's management material!

So it's a good thing for Ron that this "cult takes other forms, as well. Consider the lottery. Everyone is equal in the eyes of Lady Luck, so effort is pointless. The lottery is self-funding Marxist propaganda."

I don't even know what to do with this one, so let's move on. Question: You know what my favorite extreme sport is? Answer: EXTREME SUPERFLUOUS DISPLAYS OF SUPERFICIAL LEARNEDNESS!!!! "St. Augustine wrote extensively on the subject, saying that the conflict between good and evil rages not only in mankind as a whole, but in every individual." When I read this, I nodded sagely. It's true, you know.

But let's not forget those ladies, y'all. In an all-new episode of Unlikely Allies, Freud is enlisted in the defense of that lovable underdog paradox, libertarian paternalism: "Fathers are the primary mythical heroes. Young men internalize the heroic myth, and use it to form an identity. This identity serves as a rudder, which helps each man to steer a course through a dangerous and complex world." Women, it should be noted, do not matter. But don't take my word for it: "The heroic myth is masculine, and chivalrous. It exists exclusively in the minds of men. It is Camelot, King Arthur, and the Damsel in distress. This fact is intolerable to female Marxists who demand, but can never achieve, heroic equality." So... sorry babe. No balloon factories for you. Plus, "Feminism encourages divorce, which separates fathers from sons, breaking the heroic myth continuum." Nothing says "freedom" like an unhappy marriage, eh comrades?!

Meh, I'm done with this.


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