A House Divided

Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Remember that? The civil war was upon us, two dramatically different views of the way to live our lives as Americans – of what rights meant – about what our economy should look like. How the government should behave. Mutually exclusive, one side had to win – the only time in our history that was the case. All the other moments – Vietnam and Civil Rights and Universal Suffrage – were just that, moments. Not existential fights about national survival but instead ways of organizing ourselves and treating each other in a country of laws run by a messy lot like humanity. About living up to our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.


Which, I suppose, is why I’m a little baffled at America these days. The media, the elites, the entitled – joined by the managers in our managerial oligarchy – those who lost a periodic election have embarked upon a strategy of annihilation. It seems that they would embrace national failure, even if it means their own destruction. Their weapon of choice? Poison. Poisoning the well is; “a rhetorical technique and logical fallacy that uses the association of negative emotions to distract a subject from actual evidence in an argument. Poisoning the well is an appeal to hate.”

Sound familiar?

Of course poisoning the well is dangerous – a so called “nuclear option” for public behavior because once the well has been poisoned, it continues to be radioactive for all who would use it – friend and foe alike. Argument, temperament, reason, balance, objectivity, compassion – all these have been jettisoned in an attempt to destroy. 24 hour news cycles all primed and aimed and fired, but at who? Turns out, eventually, at themselves. Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged, “People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.

A lie – because the fact is things are going pretty well these days. The Supreme Court is whole – and with a remarkable, honest and gentle addition; Assad will think twice about using chemicals again; the economy is booming (yes, it has everything to do with confidence and deregulation); jobs are up, jobless claims are down; companies are reinvesting in the United States (it’s about encouragement); the healthcare challenges of a hastily passed and un-debated law are on the way to being addressed; illegal immigration is way down (no, nothing to do with a wall. Yes, everything to do with application of the rule of law). ISIS is being pushed out of Mosul. And the federal government’s thought war against half of its citizens is over. We should all shrug and go grab a beer, right?!

So why the bitterness, the hate? I return to the article “The Urban Archipelago”, the ‘progressive’ manifesto. “We no longer have to concern ourselves with the survival of the family farm, nor do we have to concern ourselves with saving fragile suburban economies from collapse. They’re against us; we’re against them. This is a war.” An appeal to hate, if there ever was one. Lies, because they require no nuance, no understanding – no feeling, only action.

A house divided. Of course, the ‘liars’ don’t see this, because as Rand says, they have “made that person (to whom they lie) their master” and are now wholly invested in those lies, lest they should prove to be just that – and they become powerless. It’s a scary place to be, no wonder they fret so publicly and transparently. They are the slaves of the world.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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12 Responses to A House Divided

  1. jonolan says:

    Our house has been divided past the point of redemption for decades. Now, we’re just closing in on the time when we’ll clean it out and truly and openly purge those who no longer belong in it.

    In that, the Left and those they enable- and pander to are right; this is a war, a war for the future of a America.


    • Wars are terrible. I’ve been in like 5 or 6 so far, they suck. I don’t want that for us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • walt reed says:

        I have noted, many times to friends and strangers, that people that use the word “War” to describe frivolous activities have no knowledge or experience with War. The same is true with the word responsibility.


  2. Eve Stevens says:

    Thank you Joel for a well written article. This is happening at a time when the US is recovering from 8 years of Obama. It is the media doing this. I do not know why they want to poison the well but they are. Luckily many of us refuse to watch the news anymore but many people do. It is from those people that I get statements like “Trump is crazy, nobody knows what he is doing” and “Trump has destroyed the US dollar”. I laugh at those people and tell them to stop watching the news. I do not know what else to do about them. You cannot reason with them. I did send this article to my friends who are being poisoned.


    • It certainly is odd. Because objectively things are going better. And even things that the progressives are always worried about, Trump isn’t actually that strong on (lots of my more conservative friends are frustrated about this). So I can’t figure out what the issue is – except that they expected 8 more years to cement their totalitarian intellectual ideas and that has been interrupted. I read Gramsci sometimes – seems that he is their guide.


  3. Joe C says:

    I would say that “It seems that they would embrace national failure, even if it means their own destruction” is not quite the right statement, because the “So why the bitterness, the hate?” faction don’t see it that way. Almost all the people I know, including friends, relatives, and colleagues, are in that crowd, and trying to understand them has taken on a particular urgency for me. This is not new; for many years I have been the lone (admitted, anyway) conservative, but it is only in the last year or so that I have fully grasped how profound the distance between us is. I have come to understand that positions taken in the current political conflict are only an outward manifestation of much deeper differences going down to the very foundation of how a person understands the nature of reality. I think that what we are seeing is reflective of the deepest splits in the Western conception of truth: Philosophy vs. Sophistry or Revealed Religion vs Gnosticism. The clearest example I can think of right now is the idea the Trump is Putin’s agent. I have had about a half-dozen conversations on this topic, and I always make the same (not original with me) point: if Trump is Putin’s agent, why are all of Trump’s postions vis-a-vis Russia antithetical to that country’s interests as Putin sees them? Trump’s initiative of fracking and drilling that lower the prices of energy commodities, his insistence on NATO partners increasting their defense spending, his reinvolvement in the Mideast, his planned increase in the US’s own defense spending, and his cruise missle assault on Syria are all far worse for Russia than Clinton’s positions would have been, so what is Putin getting for his (alleged) money? This is not a diifficult question–in fact, it’s the most obvious question to ask. If someone has been (allegedly) bribed, is not the first thing for the observer to ask is, “why?” In every instance, I have never met with an answer to contradict this most basic of questions, for the obvious reason that there isn’t one. A person would have to come up with some reason Putin would have for enduring all these reversals that is of greater value than the losses entailed…and what could that possibly be? Yet, the faith that Trump is owned by Putin is unwavering.


    • You are absolutely right, and very perceptive. I write a lot about the “know nothings” – those who literally refuse to know anything. Thats what you’re talking about; our inability to judge right from wrong, good from bad, up from down, positive and negative. It comes from a place of profound distrust of who we are as a nation; they call it “intersectionality” these days and its the principle that the “discrimination” is so deeply rooted that only in rejecting not only outward evidence but also any cultural traits that led to it are we “saved”. Its very Weimar Republic actually – and its scary. https://joelhirst.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/the-rise-of-un-ideas/


  4. Autumn Cote says:

    Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to a6dd more content diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.



  5. pjlazos says:

    Funny that the liars are Ayn Rand acolytes.


  6. Pingback: The Caveman and the Boorish | Joel D. Hirst's Blog

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