Note to Gingrich: “The Seventies called . . . “
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 1/27/12
“The spaceship has landed,” – Steve Jobs, 2011
Note to Gingrich: To paraphrase from the movie “Joe Dirt”: The Seventies called, they want their space program back. Gingrich is the disco paragon; a conservative reaction to the Sixties in double-poly leisure suit, white patent leather belt and shoes and all the baggage trailing from the very end of a century of total war. Like David Bowie’s Major Tom, Newt is stuck in Seventies space/time. His comment RE the moon base egging us on to get there before the Chinese, might be looked at in view of the singular American conservative genius barely mentioned in the Republican debates, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who saw the moon project as a stunt. It wasn't then, but it is now. China flies blindly to the moon with no purpose but competition with America, but it is a competition we do not share in.
We as Anglo-Americans are unable to see and feel the competition with China that we felt with Russia. Asia is foreign and difficult to penetrate. Lao Tzu has no equivalence in Angloamerica. A legitimate swami like the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga is soon scorned back to India by MSM and Gingrich’s Seventies space/time mentality. Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy on the other hand somehow fit, and often guide us to our deepest places and belong to us. With China it is merely economic, with Russia it is existential. With Russia we share our primordial European prehistory and cultural prehistory which swings back a thousand years and beyond. To their credit, the creators of the Project for a New American Century, Kagan and company, understood this.
The are good reasons to go to space but a moon colony is not one. The Kennedy space program had its beginning in the German rocket program in WW II and in post war imagination still fired on military systems and in the economic competition between American Keynesians and Russian Marxists. For more than a hundred years Anglo-American imagination preceded us in space with Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, mavens of the pop culture in the rising populism of mass democracy. The pop culture space imagination ended in the mid 1990s with the rise of a new earth-based myth cycle seen in “Lost” “Survivor” and “Avatar.” The rest of us have returned to earth, but Gingrich, like David Bowie's Major Tom, remains lost in space.
Gingrich thinks the imagination of luminaries such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and J.J. Abrams trickles down from some government official offering direction. In fact, and this can be found in endless interviews with space scientists and engineers later in life, it goes the other way around.
If Gingrich wants to see the future he might open to page 22 of The Atlantic this month. There is a picture of a long procession of bearded patriarchs in a row leaving a snowy Russian Orthodox Church which doubled in the space age as a gulag. There may be relevant symbolism to that. Say whatever else you might about the Russians but they have moved on from the age in which Gingrich is stuck. They have returned to the earth and like Raskolnikov, found their way again to God. And they may have gotten their ahead of us.