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Essay
November 08, 2012
Just loosen your collar—this will all be over in a moment.

“They live in the northernmost community in Canada,” said the fellow at the hamburger joint. “They’re Inuit, and have been living there for more than 2,000 years. They used to follow the caribou herds from place to place, but the government has settled them down, and now they have a permanent village, with the houses built up high, above the permafrost.”

He then told me that the government had given them a quota for fishing turbot, and if they fell short of the quota, the government would make up for the shortfall by a cash grant. Until recently, they’ve attached themselves to international fishing expeditions, but now they have purchased a ship of their own. That was why they had flown the 4,000 miles from the 15th parallel to our island on the 46th—to take possession of the ship. The cost of the ship was borne by the government. I don’t know whether the $20,000 for four round-trip plane tickets was also borne by the government—that is to say, by other people, with the government middlemen taking their substantial cut—but it wouldn’t surprise me.

“I suppose,” I said, “that living in such a forbidding place, they don’t have the social problems they have in, say, Yellowknife,” the capital of the Northwest Territories, notorious for alcoholism and family breakdown. My reasoning was simple. You can’t survive from one year to the next unless you preserve moral order.

“No, they have the same problems there that they have all over the Territories,” he replied, and he put the blame squarely on Ottawa. “Paternalistic” was the word he used.

The conversation caused me to consider what a place like Yellowknife has in common with, say, Detroit. Yellowknife is a small town on the Great Slave Lake, in the midst of the richest mineral deposits on Earth. It is, for all that, a deeply dysfunctional place. Detroit used to be the jewel of the Great Lakes, the auto capital of the world. It is now a pit of crime. Whole neighborhoods have been abandoned. The current mayor, Dave Bing, has ordered some of them to be plowed under, to turn them back to grasslands, perhaps for pasturing sheep.

It’s not just Detroit, and money alone is not the problem. A good friend of mine used to tell me stories of growing up in Philadelphia after the war. His family was poor, but so was everybody else’s in the neighborhood. The streets were safe. He and his friends would often jump a train on the Main Line, just to hang around one of the outlying towns for a day, and then come back at suppertime, and nobody thought anything of it. People used to wonder how the economist Thomas Sowell could have attained such prestige, having grown up in Harlem; but he would tell them that when he was a boy, Harlem was a pretty good place for children, and the schools were solid. The teachers knew their subjects, and insisted on good behavior. And families were mostly intact.

I don’t suggest that there is only one cause to explain what happened to Detroit, Harlem, Yellowknife, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Seattle, and so on. I do want to suggest a significant cause and, in a short time, a sufficient cause, which I’ll call the Vampire State.

The two things to keep in mind about vampires are that they need blood and that they confer a wraith-like immortality upon their victims. It is an inverted symbiosis. Vampire and victim remain alive forever, but it is a death-in-life, dependent upon the consumption of health.

The Vampire State needs blood. It can never have enough. The deal it cuts with the victim is simple enough. “You are weak,” says the Vampire State. “You are needy. You will soon die. I can help you. I can make you last forever. But you must give me your blood: your initiative, your moral strength, your independence, your manhood and womanhood, your folkways, and your self-government. I have the money—my business with other of my, er, clients. I will give this to you. The gift involves a little transfusion. Kindly loosen your shirt collar, and it will be over in a moment.”

The Vampire State must have victims, whom it “helps” in this way. Its prime directive is to survive as it is, upon the blood of false charity. The Amish govern themselves, and keep the Vampire State at bay. The Vampire State will encourage none of the habits and the virtues that would make the victims of its benevolence more like the Amish.

The Amish do not countenance divorce. Their families are strong and, as much as is possible in this vale of tears and sinners, happy. The Vampire State cannot abide strong families. So it seeks to divide man from woman, and woman from child. It will reward women with blood if they bear children out of wedlock; and if those women should be so foolish as to marry, the transfusion ends. “You had better stay single,” whispers the Vampire. “You need what I give you.”

Vampires have a weird hankering for women. The Vampire is like the eunuch in charge of a great harem of female wraiths. How to build up the harem? The Vampire’s strategy these days is disarmingly simple: promote the independence of women, with great noise and chivalry. Now, most healthy women actually want to marry a good and reliable man, who will provide for them and their children. The Vampire despises such women, and encourages others to despise them too, so that the women themselves will begin to doubt that something may be wrong with them. The Vampire reasons thus. For every woman who goes forth in fierce independence, I will attain two or three who will either never find a completely reliable man, or who will turn to Me for their sustenance. It is a real bargain. And once I have them for a few years, their children will also be mine. Not one step will you take, without my permission or my “support.”

Healthy people seek solutions to problems. The Vampire seeks problems. The Vampire State must, however, appear to be attacking crime, and will therefore multiply crimes to attack. This it will do in two ways. It will criminalize perfectly ordinary things, like spanking a child or drinking soda; and it will permit and encourage pathological things that help to destroy those institutions that provide for genuine life, genuine community, and genuine law. After it has reduced the churches to rubble, the Vampire expresses astonishment and grave concern when rogues rule the streets; which gives the Vampire cause to “intervene,” with canines.

I’ve mentioned the churches. The Vampire State will, at times, tolerate the churches, and even appear to encourage them, so long as they remain subservient. But that tolerance is never stable. For there is a deep enmity between the Vampire State and the churches. The reasons are easy to see. The Vampire does evil, and on some level must know it; but the churches uphold an absolute condemnation of evil. The Vampire feeds on weakness; but the churches attempt to perfect the natural virtues by Christian love. The Vampire is gray and ugly and dead; the churches are founts of living water. Not all of them, mind you; the Vampire State has suborned quite a few. But even those can yet repent of their ways.

The Vampire State, I’ve said, despises ordinary women. It fears ordinary men. An ordinary healthy man might command the respect of his fellows. He might preach a godly self-reliance which is a form of charity for his neighbors. He might wean some people off the dead blood. He might even try to hammer a stake through the Vampire’s heart. The Vampire can’t have that. For the Vampire is an effeminate old cad. His métier is not honest confrontation and clear debate, but subterfuge and seduction.

So the last thing the Vampire State wants is a lot of strong men around. These days, the Vampire State has conceived the idea of promoting sexual deviance among men. A troop of Boy Scouts is dangerous—to the Vampire; silver bullets and all that. So the Vampire holds parades for men who depend completely upon the Vampire to enforce social approval for their pathologies.

The Vampire State likes blood. More than one million unborn children in the United States every year shed their blood to keep the Vampire State alive. The Vampire knows well: if human life is sacred, then the sexual union of man and woman, which brings life, must also be sacred. If that union is sacred, then marriage is sacred. If the sanctity of marriage is upheld, then it is possible—just possible—that healthy and independent communities will be born. In such communities, the Vampire is not welcome. No, the Vampire will shed a little tear or two, and then consume the blood. Eventually the Vampire will get around to manufacturing his human victims—when his dependent vampires are sufficiently drained of genuine humanity and life to oppose him.

What does the all-competent, all-meddling, all-controlling modern state do? Simple to answer. What would the Vampire do?
 
About the Author
Anthony Esolen 

Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College. His most recent book is Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Press). He also translated Dante's Divine Comedy for Modern Library Classics.
 

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