Morally Compromised

26 April 2010

Lt. Gen. Stroup
West Point ’62

Diane Rehm was interviewing the author of The Slap this morning when
he introduced the concept “morally compromised” into the narrative and
all the bells and whistles in my value system went off. I left the
Army for 3 reasons: one, I discovered I was morally compromised; two,
it became apparent to me that what would happen between me and Gen.
Hartzog was in my future if I stayed in; and 3, God arose in my
consciousness and proposed I leave and follow Him, that The One had
other plans for me. From the moment I heard MacArthur’s final tolling
of “the Corps and the Corps and the Corps” I had been on a vision
quest to follow him, but it was to be the prologue, the
apprenticeship, and not beyond. And then I was a journeyman in search
of a trade until I met Frank Burns and became acquainted with Kurt
Lewin and now I am a master of trade, the civilian version of Frank.

Morally compromised is a very useful concept. What does it mean?
Well, Fascism represents a system of thought that depends upon moral
convenience, at the very least, to exist as an operational reality. In
the final analysis, Fascism (as I use the word) is idolatry, the
belief in a false god. Or Error. Or a fairly tale. By “moral”, I take
Jung’s meaning for “geist”, that is, mind/spirit and Napoleon’s
application in the axiom that the Moral is to the Material as 4 is to
One. It is not “moral” in the sort of Sunday school version of good
and evil. It’s functional rather than ontological or theological.

What I am saying about Ayn Rand’s impact on West Point in 1974 is
that she introduced her system of moral convenience into the
cloistered culture of the corps of cadets and it became morally
compromised as a direct result. After a 2 year incubation period, 159
identifiable casualties of this contagion, relative to the existing
honor code, was the result. An important fact to consider is that
Rand essentially introduced the structures of what was beginning to
emerge as the dominant paradigm of the Boomer Generation, the laissez-
faire, gold-based, Free Market principles of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s
conservatism, also called Supply Side Economics, Reaganomics and
VooDoo Economics (with apologies to VooDoo), as an alternative to the
Kant-Hegelian orientation of US Army Doctrine. 159 guys liked the idea
and in the civilian arena, their behavior was becoming the norm as the
Self-Esteem became the organizing principle of the conservative

My larger point is that Harvard became morally compromised by the
Students for a Democratic Society in 1968 and now, the entire American
educational system has essentially adopted Ayn Rand’s Ethics of Self
Esteem as the norm and a result is what happened on Wall Street with
the sub-prime mess and the occupation of Iraq, among other things. I
will say that both sides of the Boomer political coin, the McGovern-
Kerry wing of the Democrat party and the Gingrich-Cheney wing of the
GOP, are morally compromised.

We all are, I guess, in the final analysis, but it is neither a
permanent nor fatal condition and that the processes engaged in the
Points of Light Program are exactly what Socrates et al developed to
inquire into the moral qualities of citizenship and personal
enterprise. As I would have made clear to Gen. Hartzog, I am not
interested in fixing the Army: it doesn’t need my help, it has never
needed my help and it defines the curve I propose to introduce with
The Points of Light Program. The Army has the secret to success in
terms of economic transformation and the Points of Light Program is
designed to make that secret conventional wisdom before 2013.

And I want the West Point Class of 1962 and the WAMU Community Council
to lead the way. Which is what I will propose to Michael Kimsey, when
we sit down.

And that’s the truth.