'What Is to be Done?'

Michael Walsh21 Aug, 2023 6 Min Read
You say you want a revolution.

Two years ago, I wrote a series of four columns for the Epoch Times in which I offered answers to the single most oft-asked question I and other conservative writers get: What is to be done? “That’s the question posed in a 1902 pamphlet by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as 'Lenin,' as the young revolutionary began to flesh out his weaponization of Karl Marx’s principles of communism. It wasn’t enough, argued Lenin in typically turgid prose, to expect Russia’s nearly non-existent industrialized working class—the proletariat—to come to international Socialism on its own." Instead, it had to be forced on them via Marxism. 

In other words, enough already with the analysis and the talk: we know things are a mess. So what are you going to do about it? Normally, that's a question I pose to the reader at the end of each piece, as a challenge, but it came back to me again recently in the form of a comment on Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit site. This is how I in part answered: 

I hear this complaint a lot, especially from people who are not in the arena (to use Milton's image: "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat"). The first step is proper analysis of the situation, which includes putting events in their proper context. The past is a great library of useful information and guidance. No great general was unlettered: Alexander studied with Aristotle, Caesar was a sterling writer, Constantine was well-schooled by his mother, Napoleon began as a novelist, U.S. Grant devoured novels and plays, Patton was a voracious reader, etc.

I'm far too old to start "organizing"; that's the job of younger men. As my readers know, I spent the final years of the Cold War, 1985-1989, in East Berlin, Moscow, and elsewhere behind the Iron Curtain. I was at the Wall when it fell, and in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl blew up. I left Moscow two weeks before the coup against Gorbachev.  

The good old days.

Now, as a historian, I have written the bestseller LAST STANDS: Why Men Fight When All is Lost, now out in paperback, and have an even more ambitious sequel coming next year. So if you really want "actionable solutions," dive into history and see how our forebears handled very similar situations. I suspect what you and the others want are something along the lines of the proscriptions of Sulla or the Second Triumvirate. If so, why not say so?

But perhaps you make a mistake by assuming there is a "solution." How's this one: Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. That resulted in a horrific massacre at Béziers in 1209 and still didn't solve the problem of the Cathars. I offer a cultural solution in THE FIERY ANGEL, which followed THE DEVIL'S PLEASURE PALACE, but I sense you're looking for something more like the Left's "direct action" from the 1960s: protests, riots, bloodshed... That fight is now yours, not mine. Good luck.

If there is one area in which the conservative movement, such as it is, is notably deficient it lies in the area of education and intellectual rigor. One of my maxims is that I never take political advice from small children, and yet in the age of the instant hot take from kids still in the mental equivalent of knee pants, it's all around us. The reason so many putative up-and-coming tyros have crashed and burned so publicly recently is that they weren't ready for prime time in the first place, having been rushed into service without proper grounding and, frankly, knowledge and life experience. But conservative donors don't pay for ideas (they give, uselessly, to candidates) and refuse to invest in the kind of training academies that are routine on the Left. Until major donors on the right arise and give to the creation of something like an institutionalized version of the ancient Greek agora, "progressives" will continue to win the war of ideas.

I called the reader's bluff because the hot air of impotent keyboard-warrior anger, temporarily satisfying as it may be, is not enough. As the current internecine warfare in the GOP amply demonstrates, there is a great deal of unfocused rage resulting from the last election -- and even more directed at the daily enormities visited upon us by our political opponents -- now being exacerbated by the Twitter wars between Trump partisans and those who feel the way forward cannot be backward, and that a campaign based on revenge is doomed to failure. 

I've made my position regarding the 2020 election very clear in two pieces for the-Pipeline: "The System IS the Steal," and "The Sting." The Covid hoax-related changes in our electoral system -- all of them bad -- which cost Trump the election were instituted right under his nose and without his objection, and, alas, have recently been institutionalized by an errant Supreme Court in its Moore v. Harper decision, which has destroyed the one legal leg the "stolen election" crew had to stand on.

By a 6-3 vote, the court rejected the “independent state legislature” theory in a case about North Carolina’s congressional map. The once-fringe legal theory broadly argued that state courts have little — or no — authority to question state legislatures on election laws for federal contests. The court’s decision in Moore v. Harper closes the path to what could have been a radical overhaul of America’s election laws.

So it's quite possible that the pessimists on the right are perfectly correct in their insistence that a conservative candidate will never be able to win another national election. But we're not there yet. Nominating a candidate that for whatever reason half the electorate despises and upon whom they've already had their say is not a winning ticket in 2024; a Trump loss will prove nothing except that more people hate him than love him. The damage the more deranged Trump partisans have already done to Ron DeSantis in their hopeless quest to "reinstall" the former president may be terminal, although we won't know until actual voting begins in the primaries next year. 

Worked for Lincoln.

Perhaps one solution, then, is to abandon primaries altogether and return to the days of the smoke-filled rooms, during which the pros and cons of each candidate can be weighed and judged by party elders and officials; after all, the U.S. was never meant to be a plebiscitary democracy, and a system that produced Lincoln and Grant ought not to have been discarded so lightly, especially when it has since given us Romney and McCain. 

Desperate times demand desperate measures. You can find all four of my Epoch Times columns on this subject linked at the bottom of the last in the series, "What Is to Be Done? Preparing the Information Battlespace," which include numerous suggestions for fixes and improvements. Remember: principles, not programs. Let's discuss these ideas in the weeks going forward; please feel free to add your two cents in the comments below. Until this, chew on this:

What does the GOP stand for? The party fought Trump every step of the way, double-crossed him constantly, feebly supported his policy positions, undercut his authority via the media at every opportunity, and otherwise made it clear to the conservative electorate that in the GOP establishment they had an enemy every bit as dangerous as the Democrats.

This is not the place to argue the merits (non-existent, in any case) of the two bogus impeachments. Rather it is to force the GOP to act more like the Leninist/Stalinist Democrats and speak with one voice, in the pursuit of a single objective: winning. In these fraught times, “comity” is luxury only congenital losers can afford, and the sooner the party purges itself the better off both it and the country will be. As Barry Goldwater famously offered: “a choice, not an echo.” Now’s the time to take him up on it.

Or perhaps it's finally time to start thinking beyond party boundaries and consider a unity ticket that dispenses simultaneously with Trump, Mike Pence, Biden, and Kamala Harris: and changes the equation at one stroke:  DeSantis/Bobby Kennedy, Jr., anybody? No revenge, no "identity" tickets, just two men either of whom could be a plausible presidential leader, even if you don't agree with both of them in every particular.

Now, what are you going to do about it?

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, was published by St. Martin's Press in December 2019. He is also the editor of Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, published on Oct. 18, 2022. Follow him on Twitter: @theAmanuensis


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14 comments on “'What Is to be Done?'”

  1. I don't think RFK Jr. is a plausible Presidential leader. But there are others who identify as Democrats that could be...if you look in better places than the Northeast (think Texas and Arizona, for example, and there may be some plausible Dems in the South).

  2. Nothing moves momentum and going back to what works ( America’s Constitutional Republic) like pain. The devastation In Maui caused by marxist overlords is but the leading edge of the moment of Cass’ Nudge giving way to the “ cause a crisis and then drill down on the iron fist solution.” How the so far greatly cowed real Hawaiian people
    respond will be the window of view to gauge “ What time is it?”
    History is replete with the evolution of Man and the governments that he institutes to ensure his tyranny.
    America is the only place that was founded with the kind of mission and governing documents by men who were put in the correct place at precisely the correct time in all
    of history to be the shining example to all that Man was able to rise above his base instincts and to successfully self govern without being subjects to tyranny.
    Our founders stood upon the shoulders of great men throughout the ages to give us a
    republic if we can keep it.
    We know what works but not without constant vigilance and an appreciation for what God bequeathed to us as the guiding light for all of mankind to emulate on their own paths to freedom to pursue liberty.
    It appears to me that we will have to relearn our ability to fight an enemy already inside
    our wire much like our men had to learn “ to assume the position” like our men in
    “the Pacific Theater” had to do on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Pelelou before victory
    could even be contemplated much less any where near assured.
    Time and pain will determine what ever course of action combined with who is the scaffold commander and the fence cutter from the Fed Surrection on Jan 6 and the
    understanding that what happened that day must be fully ventilated and bared for all
    to see with full sunlight with no place for the cockroaches to hide in what is truly the darkest con yet to deceive the cowed and disinterested morons cultivated by the Democrat Party and enjoined by the uniparty Repubs and their shape shifter alliances.
    So how does one communicate without being hauled before Kangaroo Courts by the
    likes of Mathew Graves and his confederate accolites?

  3. @gmmay70
    "Americans in general are far too divided for our system to continue functioning as designed"

    That's the trouble, it ISN'T functioning as designed. Had it stayed in the box it came in, our prospects would be very different right now, but because a distant capital knows no limits whatsoever on its power and will destroy any who seek to impose them, the temptation to use it to bludgeon other Americans will only increase.

  4. Great stuff Mr Walsh. Much reading to do before I give my smart-a$$ snark as usual.
    But I agree, and we all have a role to play, and its past time to get ready...
    Thanks for your long thought-ful creation and direct suggestions in your books.

  5. @Danimal28
    Agreed. Not only is Trump not owned, he is the only person putting something -- perhaps his very life -- at risk in order to seek office. Apart from being the target of a lone assailant, I cannot think of someone who has carried on despite so much to lose.

    Moreover, the phrases "the party" and "the federal government" are now virtually interchangeable at this point. The Democrat party, through a combination of erecting offices hither and yon and filling them with fellow travelers and vote buying via the national treasury, has hollowed out nearly every last shred of legitimacy in Washington and now wears the entire federal apparatus like a skin suit. The prosecution of Trump is their attempt to zip up that suit once and for all.

    Trump did and said many things I'd rather he not; I will not make the perfect the enemy of the adequate. All of your objections to Trump are meaningless and irrelevant. You don't have the luxury of a more ideologically pure or personally likeable candidate. Your options are Trump or an officially one-party state.

  6. One of the long term projects that we need is figuring out how to start our own long march through the institutions. The Federalist Society has been a good example of how to do that, with both an overall national program, but also a lot of local efforts at individual law schools, states and cities. We need to do something like that at education schools so the future teachers will hear a different perspective and have support as some of them start to see the light. Just one of many programs that are far better to spend money on than things like the JEB! campaign for president.

  7. Assumimg the people rejected Trump in 2020. "Nominating a candidate that for whatever reason half the electorate despises .." And then linking The Sting and The System is the Steal seem a hard incongruency. Fix it.
    Then, explain the left's maniacal aim to make Trump ineligible. Since when is so much time, talent, resources and vituperative reserved exclusively for a political cripple? Makes zero sense.

  8. It's difficult to imagine being a disciple of Christ, absorbing the hate, knowing that my likely future was a similar fate. It is hard to imagine being captive in the walled city-state of Athens during a plague and war. Can you imagine yourself being a newly-freed slave during reconstruction - "Here's your freedom. We also have other plans for you".

    Being raised in a conservative (and loving) household, the chaos and hate flowing in the late sixties and early seventies (and as I entered college) I hoped the hell I would know what I was doing.

    Yet every conflict gets resolved sooner or later, one way or another, and life goes on. I only hope that this present mess resolves itself in a positive way for those with proper faith and upbringing. And that in the process we can fix the mess without throwing everyone on the other side in prison - or they, us.

  9. Political parties bore me. I don't watch debates, listen to speeches, pay attention to polling. What will perk up my ears is anyone of any party who will (1) tackle our unsustainable 33 Trillion Dollar National Debt (2) end the war on Oil and Gas and (3) send in the National Guard to sweep clean the streets of our major cities overrun by gangs and anarchists. The question posed here is "What is to be done". As I see it, what needs doing is Balance the Budget, push the Drill Baby Drill agenda and federalize policing (and prosecutions) in the fourteen cities that can't or won't enforce the laws.

  10. I feel your frustration - and share it.
    But there is a solution: a process that would meet your objectives - I published a roadmap for it on the teaparty911 (com) site two years ago - revised it there recently, and put it on substack a couple of weeks ago because that site is frequently censored by google et al. See paul530.substack.com on how to save the American republic.
    So far nobody wants to do it - but it puts Trump/Pence in office; various bad-guys in legal jeopardy;
    avoids having an election the bad guys can steal from Trump a second time; freezes Biden-approved anti-American action ( and possibly WW3) in place; leads a tidal wave of conservative reform in Washington; and, clears the way for sane, traditional, GOP candidates in 2027/8.

    Bottom line: if you are at all sincere, go read it and let's talk.

  11. What am I going to do about it? Run for city council. Again. We flipped our school board red last year...

    "...under his nose." No, states control elections, not a president and the republican parties in six swing states fully abandoned their state election laws by allowing ballots weeks after the law said they were to stop acceptance.
    We all need to face the fact that republicans are not conservatives for the most part.

    Also, Trump is the only candidate that does not, for the most part, belong to the globalist donors. That is why we cling to him. That and his past, proven policies; we remember very clearly how we were actually building our wealth without extra effort - the first time since Ronaldus.


  12. What is to be done? That, good people is as clear as can be and there's not a one of you who is not cognizant of that.

  13. Your heart seems to be in the right place.

    First, what is winning? The GOP is certainly interested in winning, no doubt, but with their preferred candidates running on their preferred preferences, which appear to be lower corporate taxes and making a bunch more promises they don't intend to keep. And they're perfectly content to take their toys (PACs and fundraisers) over to the enemy's playground until you see it their way. So yeah, that's winning...to them.

    What's winning to us? What the hell even is us? Do I want to unify with the Democrats? Why on Earth would I want to unify with a party that espouses systematic destruction of social and institutional norms? RFK, Jr is on the soft side of that, no matter how many times he hits the right notes about COVID responses.

    Value systems between not just parties, but Americans in general are far too divided for our system to continue functioning as designed. If your "unity" ticket won, the same machine - backed by an extraordinary number of American voters would - that tripped to rip America apart during the Trump presidency would ramp back up, but this time to eleven.

    The Left changed the culture enough to get us here. It took them decades to do it. We're not going to reverse that by assigning reading lists.

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