Monday, April 13, 2009

Isaiah's Job

Gary North wrote a brief column today that provided a fantastic link to an older essay by one Albert Jay Nock titled "Isaiah's Job." A little googling gave me an older column by Gary North (from 2004) with a similar message called "Disciples, Followers, and Cheerleaders." Both are worth reading, if you are one of those folks straining to find a way of "doing something" about the present state of affairs, which seem to have become the overwhelming subject of this blog. From "Isaiah's Job":
In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life." Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job -- in fact, he had asked for it -- but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so -- if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start -- was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
This is followed by an analysis of the Remnant vs. the masses, the perks and downsides of "embarking in the prophetical line" of work, and an argument that the Remnant could probably use a good prophet right about now. This piece was written in the 1930's, a most excellent parallel to today, although I think that there are quite a few more prophets serving the Remnant today than back then. And, as Gary points out, we now have the Internet! Gary's article is more about the basic structure of a "movement:" founders, disciples, followers, and cheerleaders, and their roles in making things happen:
Founders need disciples to extend their vision. Disciples need to recruit more disciples. They also need followers, who will cheer them on when the going gets tough, or when victory is in sight. There is therefore a role for the person in the stands who knows which team he is cheering for. At key times, his cheering may actually help the team, when combined with unorganized cheering of those in the stands on his side of the field. Movements need committed followers. As far as I can determine, nobody needs cheerleaders. It is nice to win the big game, but boola-boola has nothing to do with the victory. Neither does ziz, boom, bah.
So, what's a "concerned citizen" to do? Is there any hope? Not much in either case, it seems. The masses are implacable and disinterested, hellbent on self-immolation. And, sadly, the immolation of others in the process. They are totally incorrigible. And since they are pretty much unstoppable by us mere mortals, they will have their way. (Now there's a diagnosis that sounds familiar!) I would contrast this with Gary's own diagnosis in his little book on conspiracies. At least he seems to have had some hope left when he wrote that. Like so many of his other writings, "Disciples, Followers, and Cheerleaders" leaves me wondering just where I fit in to the grander scheme of things. Probably a cheerleader. I always was a ditz... But maybe I'll manage to funnel a few wandering Remnants towards better information in the process of making a spectacle of myself. Happy reading!

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