Control of Belief – Tyranny’s Endgame

Once upon a time, it was quite rare to see Leftism naked; laid bare for all to see. Soviets once cloaked themselves in moral supremacy and the imperative to spread the workers’ paradise to the world. Democrats explained that poverty must be eliminated, healthcare given freely to all, and bigotry of all forms erased from the Earth. Leftism prided itself upon its perceived moral beauty. Always they progressed to the utopia, the heaven on Earth viewed as their due, since the divine was quite silly and could not possibly exist.

Leftists could not bring themselves to admit their real end goal, not publicly, and perhaps not even consciously. For some, defense of Socialism was so deep, so ardent and passionate, that one could scarcely disbelieve their sincerity. Yet even the most sincere may lie to himself.

Recently, the mask has slipped. Curled around the edges, it falls away. Beauty, fairness, diversity, and morality… these fade away, revealing the ugliness beneath. We’ve seen it often enough in their resistance to Donald Trump. On social media, we have seen the hatred, the disgust, the dismissive disdain in which they hold us. Censors run amok, removing us from any platform where they have sufficient control. We are disinvited, our accounts are banned or deleted, our employers harassed, and our names tarnished.

Today, however, the mask slips a little further. The title lays it out, though we must fisk this mess too: You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to.

Let the weight of this statement sink in. For the unspoken, but obvious, corollary is that since you do not have a right to belief, you can be compelled by force to exchange your belief for that of another. And who is to do the forcing? That’s the eternal question. Certainly the author does not imply that any Rightist will have a say in this.

Do we have the right to believe whatever we want to believe? This supposed right is often claimed as the last resort of the wilfully ignorant, the person who is cornered by evidence and mounting opinion: ‘I believe climate change is a hoax whatever anyone else says, and I have a right to believe it!’ But is there such a right?

Yes. There is. You may believe in the good and the silly, the smart and the stupid. You may believe in the true and the false. Belief is a choice, and if you do not have choice of belief, you do not have freedom. You must instead believe whatever those in power say you should believe, at the point of a gun, whether true or false.

Beliefs are factive: to believe is to take to be true. It would be absurd, as the analytic philosopher G E Moore observed in the 1940s, to say: ‘It is raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining.’ Beliefs aspire to truth – but they do not entail it. Beliefs can be false, unwarranted by evidence or reasoned consideration. They can also be morally repugnant. Among likely candidates: beliefs that are sexist, racist or homophobic; the belief that proper upbringing of a child requires ‘breaking the will’ and severe corporal punishment; the belief that the elderly should routinely be euthanised; the belief that ‘ethnic cleansing’ is a political solution, and so on. If we find these morally wrong, we condemn not only the potential acts that spring from such beliefs, but the content of the belief itself, the act of believing it, and thus the believer.

Who is the “we” in this? Anyway, yes, a man may condemn a belief, and condemn even the believer. This does not mean the believer cannot be permitted his belief. Only when belief becomes action must we consider doing something about it. And then, we limit this to a violation of natural rights. You don’t have the right to murder me. You may wish to murder me all day. You may even believe it to be right, which most of us would find ‘repugnant.’ But until you attempt to act on this belief, that is a matter between you and God.

This is a core difference between Leftism and Rightism. Leftism believes thought must be regulated, controlled. It believes that man may be perfected by the State, by the combined ‘wisdom’ of the mob, concentrated in the hands of the very powerful. It’s profoundly sickening. And though, as I have said, every man may be permitted his belief, if there is any belief I would wish to see destroyed, it is that one. A common aphorism is that more men have been killed in the name of God than any other reason. That is a fallacy. Such that God has been used as a ‘reason’ for murder, it is most often only an excuse, a flimsy rationale for something else the murderer really wants.

And most often, that desire is for power. The power to shape belief is among the greatest.

 In any complex society, one has to rely on the testimony of reliable sources, expert judgment and the best available evidence.

Who is to do the judging? The experts? The author naturally believes that his beliefs are correct, and thus he is permitted to impose them on others. Remember that Tom Nichols often makes similar claims, that because an expert is judged by his peers to be an expert, and the hoi polloi are by nature dumber and/or less experienced than said expert, they must accept the expert’s word without making a fuss or challenging him. We are not permitted to question the expert’s honesty, or competency, or his pronouncements because he is judged better than us. Stay in your place.

In exploring the varieties of religious experience, James would remind us that the ‘right to believe’ can establish a climate of religious tolerance. Those religions that define themselves by required beliefs (creeds) have engaged in repression, torture and countless wars against non-believers that can cease only with recognition of a mutual ‘right to believe’. Yet, even in this context, extremely intolerant beliefs cannot be tolerated. Rights have limits and carry responsibilities.

Tolerance of intolerance cannot be permitted? Well then, this entire article is, in effect, a form of intolerance toward beliefs deemed unfit by the author and his peers. In effect, it is naked intolerance. Should we then be forced to tolerate it? This is all circular reasoning and mental masturbation. The essence of human experience can, in my belief, be distilled down to a measure of quid pro quo. If you are willing to tolerate me, and respect my rights, I am likewise willing to do the same with you. On the other hand, if you insist that I have no right to my belief and should be forced to give it up, why should I concede your rights to your own?

Unfortunately, many people today seem to take great licence with the right to believe, flouting their responsibility. The wilful ignorance and false knowledge that are commonly defended by the assertion ‘I have a right to my belief’ do not meet James’s requirements. Consider those who believe that the lunar landings or the Sandy Hook school shooting were unreal, government-created dramas; that Barack Obama is Muslim; that the Earth is flat; or that climate change is a hoax. In such cases, the right to believe is proclaimed as a negative right; that is, its intent is to foreclose dialogue, to deflect all challenges; to enjoin others from interfering with one’s belief-commitment. The mind is closed, not open for learning. They might be ‘true believers’, but they are not believers in the truth.

Note some of the comparisons the author makes here. He places “Obama is Muslim” in the same category as denying the lunar landings took place. He places climate change skepticism in the same category as flat Earthers. That is a rhetorical sleight of hand. False equivalency. Furthermore, the point of deriding climate change ‘deniers’ is to deflect challenge, the very practice the author claims to loathe. He does not enjoy having his beliefs challenged, and he projects this dislike upon his ideological opponents.

Believing, like willing, seems fundamental to autonomy, the ultimate ground of one’s freedom. But, as Clifford also remarked: ‘No one man’s belief is in any case a private matter which concerns himself alone.’ Beliefs shape attitudes and motives, guide choices and actions. Believing and knowing are formed within an epistemic community, which also bears their effects. There is an ethic of believing, of acquiring, sustaining, and relinquishing beliefs – and that ethic both generates and limits our right to believe. If some beliefs are false, or morally repugnant, or irresponsible, some beliefs are also dangerous. And to those, we have no right.

Ah, who decides truth of belief? An aggressive Atheist might say that I have no right to believe in God. A radical Muslim might say I have no right but to believe in Allah. Both might find the alternatives morally repugnant. Who is granted authority to determine which beliefs I might have a right to? The quote about no man’s belief being a private matter is also revealing. This is the rationale behind Orwellian surveillance schemes. The government must determine what your beliefs are, and then must punish you if they are deemed incorrect. Or, rather, deemed in opposition to whatever those in power desire.

And those beliefs are the ones that are most dangerous… to people like the author, anyway.

The mask has slipped a little more today. The salivating drive toward complete tyranny lies naked beneath.

Better to be Feared…

Francis hits one out of the ballpark today, expanding on an earlier Kurt Schlichter column. The money quote:

Prior administrations have foolishly attempted to purchase North Korean cooperation with carrots: thousands of tons of free oil, a light-water nuclear reactor, and so on. What those administrations failed to realize was that once the oil, the reactor, etc. had been delivered, their power to maintain the agreement lapsed. But a credible threat of invasion and regime decapitation has enduring influence over the mind of the satrap of a lesser power…even one with some notional nuclear capability.

Foolishly, liberals have long sought to purchase not merely cooperation, but approval also. There is a subtle difference. Satraps of lesser powers, as Francis describes them, may be made to avoid troubling us through judicious application of leverage. Stop waving around your nukes, or we’ll kill you all. However, this does not purchase likability. The enemy will resent you and hate you (not that I particularly care – he’s the enemy, after all).

Leftists often lament that America is not well-liked by various powers and peoples around the Earth. We are supposed to care about how much the French approve of us, or the Pakistanis, or even some random country in the middle of nowhere. The approval of the Muslim world is of endless importance to Leftists. And so, when dealing with tyrannical regimes, the Left requires a solution that theoretically will both work, and make the other side like us more. Bribery of the sort Francis and Kurt describe is the oft-used tactic. After all, who doesn’t like being given heaps of free shit?

Naturally, the tactic fails to achieve a long term balance of power. Foreign aid money must continue to flow to purchase cooperation and approval. Disapproval becomes leverage the other country may use against us. “Sorry, America, our people just don’t like you much anymore. Perhaps if you gave us more, they might approve of you once more.” The market price for political approval grows, the incentive to crap on America likewise grows. Few get heaping piles of money and free reactors by being our friend, after all.

Incentives are such that it is more profitable to disapprove of America. Indeed, America-hating is so profitable now that Americans themselves are agitating for a slice of that action. Yell from the rooftops that America is the worst nation since Nazi Germany, and you’re likely to get a cushy gig as a political adviser, a journalist, or as a tenured professor. On the other hand, wave an American flag, and you’re the worst bigot since Leonardo Dicaprio’s character in Django Unchained.

The obsession with approval runs deep in Leftist circles. Tolerance of homosexuality, for instance, was a good and decent thing to ask for. After all, it is not us who are inclined to exterminate gays by throwing them off of buildings (see the people Leftists want to suck up to for examples of that behavior). Yet tolerance was insufficient for the Left. They required approval also, a wholly different affair. To tolerate you means that I must merely leave you alone to do as you will so far as you likewise leave me alone. Quid pro quo still applies. Smoke the sausage if you want, but do not cause trouble for me because I do not share your proclivities, nor have any particular wish to be involved in them. Yet the “bake the cake” and “cater the pizza” examples show us that tolerance was not their game. Approve of it, they demand. Participate in it or you are a bigot and we will ruin you.

Approval is everything to them, because approval is the high; the aphrodisiac of politics. One is made to feel popular, loved, and worshiped by such. Feelings like those reinforce a notion of superiority, the idea that one is better than everyone else. In reality, it merely makes the narcissistic wimp vulnerable to sucker tactics. Power flows the other way. The person expressing disapproval controls the entire situation, and once the great big pile of free shit is accepted, the disapproval begins anew. Bake the cake, they will say. Next it might be “gays should get an oppression discount on the cake.”

It is no different from the Oppression Olympics in our domestic politics. The offended person possesses all the power. Thus we get more offended people, not less. Similarly in international politics, we get more posturing assholes demanding free shit from America, not less.

Trump, at the very least, has restored some level of balance to this. He is willing to brandish the Stick, long covered in cobwebs and dust. And what’s more, his enemies know well his willingness to use it. They will grumble, they will not approve of us. But what does that matter? Toleration is all that is required. That Kim II ding-dong whatever doesn’t love us certainly doesn’t bother me. That China is probably irritated with Trump’s trade negotiation tactics is irrelevant. I don’t even care if NATO members like us. I’m not losing any sleep over any of this.

Remember your Machiavelli:

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Pseudo-Dialectical Debates

In a debate elsewhere, a Lefty was explaining to me how we need Universal Basic Income, because automation will come along, take all of our jobs (or at least enough of them), and we will need this so people can survive. Or, perhaps, another Leftist explained… we can delay or stop additional automation so the burger flippers agitating for $15/hour can keep their jobs. Maybe we could even add some government make-work for them.

People have been spouting variations of this nonsense since the Industrial Revolution began. It was bullshit then. It’s still bullshit. Automation changes the jobs; pushes the horizon. Old jobs fall away – few are still farmers, for instance. New jobs become needed. Who needed programmers before the computer? So it will be until post-scarcity, if such a thing is even possible.

Automation hasn’t reduced overall employment yet – certainly not in any meaningful way. There is no reason to believe the next round of automation is magically going to be different and suddenly tomorrow we have post-scarcity. But some folks may have to learn to do something else.

But let’s drop the pretense, shall we? Something I noticed in the debate over this matter is that my opponents weren’t really debating the facts, or the concepts, even. The real dispute was, and always has been, universalism. Leftists want guarantees. Everybody should have X standard of living – regardless of what they do or the decisions they make, or the direction the economy or culture takes. So to a Leftist, even the possible risk (however large or small it may be) that automation could reduce employment levels significantly means taking radical steps to guarantee equal standard of living.

It’s essentially dreaming of Communism (as opposed to State Capitalism/Socialism); the magical stateless, post-scarcity utopia that somehow guarantees standard of living via redistribution without an ounce of force. Leftists think it’s coming; that it is inevitable; that Marx’s historical dialectic inevitably must lead to it.

I say no. I used to say that Marx was a fool, but I’ve learned better. Marx was a visionary. He convinced slaves that they were really employees; free agents, as it were. And furthermore he convinced these slaves that they could actually overthrow their masters and be free of their slavery. This, of course, installed Marxist leaders as the new masters. The slaves stayed slaves, as slaves usually do. Brilliantly Machiavellian, really.

We could be living in space, or living in mudhuts, and still be having the same debate with Leftists. This is about feelings; about moral imperatives. This is partially hidden by pseudo-dialectical conversation.

Imagine a rich man meets a poor man on the street. Neither knows the other in any way or has any involvement in the other’s life. Does the rich man owe the poor man anything?

Leftist would say yes. Rightist would say no. Rightist says that if there is no connection, there are no obligations owed by either. The rich man may choose to give something, but he’s under no obligation to. The Leftist would say the wealth itself confers obligation to help; the differential between one and the other must be addressed.

This is attempting to make an argument in a social vacuum. Two individuals in that one moment are highly unequal in one metric (wealth). All other facts of life are omitted – treated as if they don’t exist. Work ethic? Motivation? Intelligence? Personal life choices? Any one of a thousand factors that contributed to why one is rich and the other is poor… all ignored.

The rich man may indeed be a dick. Or perhaps not. Insufficient information. The poor man may indeed be a victim of circumstance; bad luck; shitty people. Or he may be a victim of his own shitty choices. Insufficient information.

This is all ignored behind a facade of “I care for poor people!” The virtue signal, the religious credo of the More Caring People. “I’m better than you because I adhere to the religion of equality!”

That’s all it’s ever been. Whether they are right or wrong on individual incidentals is bordering on irrelevant. The point is to establish moral superiority; to feel good about one’s self. This is almost always done by rooting for the underdog in any situation, regardless of all else involved, because it’s just easier rhetorically.

The test is simple. Say these words “I’m really pulling for that poor guy to be more successful!” Feels good, right? Say these words “I’m really pulling for that rich guy to be more successful!” Any guilt there? Bad feelings?

What if I told you the poor guy was a murderer and a drug dealer, and the rich guy was curing cancer?

Virtue signalling is the only point. It’s so bad, some Leftists would defend the murderer. “Oh, he suffered discrimination from racists, so it was understandable that he would kill someone.” And the rich guy curing cancer could be decried as “he’s pretty sexist!” As if, even were the charge of sexism proven true, that somehow undoes curing cancer. This gross oversimplification underlies almost all Leftist thinking – and I am being generous referring to it as thinking at all.

Think my example is a little extreme? Consider the man who landed a spacecraft on a comet getting criticized as a sexist because his shirt offended somebody.

Pseudo-dialectic can mask this behavior. The Leftist will send you links to some rag like The Atlantic, blathering on about how it’s proven that wealth inequality is increasing, or that jobs aren’t there, or that up is down and left is right. The Earth is warming, the Earth is cooling. Guns are evil. Only the government should have guns. As the character Winston pointed out in 1984, you can rationalize just about anything. But this is only pseudo-dialectic. Rhetoric masking itself as logic. Orwell explained this phenomenon well enough:

His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre.

Contradictions don’t matter. Facts don’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except feeling superior; morally, intellectually, physically… by whatever metric a man cares to measure himself, the Leftist wants to feel superior, more powerful. This has led to a bizarre, seeming-contradiction: competitive humility. Competitive charity. I’m a better person than you because I advocate for more redistribution. Look at me, look at how humble I am! That these are effectively oxymorons makes no difference to the Leftist because of the feelings they give him.

And as for automation, the debate that inspired this tirade? I’m glad I don’t have to be a farmer. That’s largely thanks to automation.

But if automation has an Achilles Heel, it is its occasional soul-sucking properties. Automation can have a soul-destroying effect. A consumerist/commodification of everything. Things that were once inspiring are merely $5.99 on a Wal Mart shelf someplace, assembled by the hard-working slaves of some distant third world toilet. Fight Club (both the movie and the book) describes the soul-destroying effect quite well. The endless pursuit of useless consumer goods; the obsession with things that don’t matter, to such extent that people bury themselves in debt for just a little bit more. That is an extreme cultural sickness. But Universal Basic Income doesn’t do a thing to help with that, and probably makes it worse. And Leftists are, among other things, gross materialists anyway. Deep down, they are just envious they don’t have more consumer crap than their neighbors. After all, their mission is to feel superior…

Bureaucracy is Designed to Suck

Nassim Nicholas Taleb summed up in a simple aphorism what most of us instinctively know about bureaucracies:

Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision.

When something goes wrong, the bureaucrats play the blame-shifting game. Musical chairs will begin, and some poor fool will be stuck without a chair. When something goes right, of course, executive management will take credit. Your job as a bureaucrat is to be an implicitly political creature; to make your boss look good and, for yourself, to evade blame.

Bureaucracies become much worse when they are divorced from the profit motive. At least a large corporation must theoretically serve its customers in some positive manner, or they won’t remain in business for long. So while the internal politics of a large corporation are likely to suck like a Hoover, the external face of the company is often still somewhat pleasant for the customer.

With government bureaucracy, even that small consolation is lost. Go to the DMV, or any large government bureau. Long lines, smelly ‘customers’, and agents with extremely unpleasant attitudes abound. The motive is not to serve citizens well, or even to serve them quickly, but rather to meet the bare minimum necessary to avoid blame – and sometimes not even that.

Blame games now extend to the customer. You can offload risk to the average citizen. If you run out of money, it’s not because anybody in the government did anything wrong, it’s because the citizens did not part with enough of their wealth.

Within most bureaucracies, there are a few hard-working, talented people who keep the machine limping along. A committee of two dozen people will decide what that one poor productive person is actually going to do. Naturally, if he does not perfectly satisfy all two dozen, the blame is on him.

This is why I’ve long distrusted top-down approaches to almost anything. Beyond the waste; the useless people drawing down salaries, the incentives are all wrong. Decision makers are insulated from the consequences of their decisions. Productive people are commanded by committee. Political considerations outweigh results. As Taleb would say, none of these people have skin in the game.

We are frequently told that bureaucracies are wiser than us; that they understand better than we do how our lives should be lived. Indeed, we must ask them permission for various activities. We must explain ourselves to them, justify our needs and desires. Yet wisdom is not their trade. Knowledge is not their purpose.

Risk management and blame shifting is why they exist. And Leftists wonder why we are skeptical of their claims of wisdom. I see them as tools; political shields, only. Otherwise they have little use.

I submit that no man is free if he must explain himself to a bureaucrat.

 

Easy Rhetoric is Easy

Surfing around Instagram, you will find a large number of scantily-clad women travelling the world petting cute little animals, talking about “body positivity” and posing provocatively, generally with the juicy bits only barely covered enough to avoid attracting the attention of the censors. Invariably, every cause spouted by these Instagram ladies is boilerplate Leftism. Save the whales, maybe, or fat is beautiful, or white men are vaguely shitty and probably shouldn’t even exist. Also, Christianity is crap, and Atheism is morally superior to the zombie sky wizard.

Now, we roll our eyes at this and go about our business. Why, after all, should we worry excessively about near-porn fusing with idiotic Leftism?

Truthfully, this is a massive problem. Leftism is seen, even by most Rightists, as the default position. It’s the ‘no thinking required’ setting. If you want to spout some kind of philosophical nonsense to make yourself look smart and cultured while your boob is falling out, you do Leftism. It’s easy rhetoric. Hey look, there’s a man with no fish. Saying “somebody should give him a fish, look he’s starving” is the easy rhetorical answer. Defeating this argument is simple with dialectic, but few people care about dialectic. It’s boring. Nerdy. Too many words. Better to just call somebody a bigot and move on.

Defeating Leftism with rhetoric is much more difficult. For not only must you use a convincing argument, that argument must be truthful and honest. The Leftist may use deceit without remorse, because to him the end justifies the means. You may not. Furthermore, Leftism itself is tailored toward sounding good. Rightism is full of unpleasant truths about human nature and the how things work in the real world. People don’t like to hear these things. Only when it comes to money does Rightism have a rhetorical advantage. Even the most ardent Leftist feels the pinch of the tax man.

This means superficial Instagram would-be porn stars are going to spout Leftism. It requires minimal intellectual investment. And in order to please these attention-seekers, hordes of thirsty men will likewise spout Leftism. After all, they want some of that boob that’s falling out. Sure, baby, climate change is a horrible tragedy. Want some dick? This effect is amplified by the constant Leftism spouted both blatantly and subtly by the media and entertainment establishments. Remember V for Vendetta? Or the Handmaid’s Tale? These are the caricatures bandied about by the establishment. You can have semi-nude Instagram girls, or you can have some kind of twisted theocratic dictatorship. Framed that way, who would choose the latter?

Delusional rhetoric is the centerpiece of Leftist thought. These people believe – or at least act like they believe – that we live in the most oppressive, terrible society ever, when it is far closer to the exact opposite. If a more tolerant society has existed, it certainly wasn’t for very long. Usually tolerance at the level we’re at today results in societal collapse – indeed, it may be heading that way now. But either way the point is, the oppression they crave, the oppression they rant about (not the contradiction it first seems) does not exist.

Bend over and let your thong bikini ride between your ass cheeks, snap a picture, and rant about how Trump is a racist… and you are rewarded with thousands of followers, likes, and comments mentioning “goddess.” Which, as a side note, has become something of an irritant to me. As a man, I don’t expect to be referred to as a “god” and, furthermore, would be somewhat pissed that somebody would refer to me that way. I’m not that arrogant. So what’s with this “zOMG you’re such a goddess” crap?

Anyway, I digress. Just notice how much society rewards people who claim oppression. It’s actually a benefit. People compete and jockey for oppression points, because the more you have, the more attention you get. Pop out a boob, and you get even more. Don’t have a boob? No problem. Call yourself trans – you don’t even have to shave the beard – and now you’re a goddess too. Stunning and brave, of course. Just make sure to tell everybody that Barbara Bush was a horrible racist and deserved to die. Then pop out a non-existent boob, and you’ll be flooded with positive comments.

Of course, if you’re trans and anything but a raging Leftist, expect the Blaire White treatment. You’re no longer stunning and brave, you sexist, transphobic transsexual. The contradictions don’t seem to bother them much.

It’s all mass delusion, but it’s a strange sort of self-reinforcing mass delusion. It’s like a brain virus, and once you have it, obtaining a cure is exceedingly difficult – because you have to realize that you are sick in the first place, something Leftism explicitly tries to avoid. Don’t question the narrative heretic… er… I mean racist. If there is any sort of religious dictatorship threatening to micromanage every facet of our lives, it’s coming from the Left, not the Christian Right. Of course, their dictatorship doesn’t make women wear strange red bonnets, but it does make you sign a consent form to have sex, so there’s that. The boob on Instagram is free, though.

All of this is simple rhetoric. And it all stems from something Francis at Liberty’s Torch said some time ago (I’ll have to dig up the link again later). White Christian men are the last group for whom hatred is celebrated. That, in polite company, you may trash and insult without mercy, and expect to receive accolades for it. The people of the in-crowd can take dumps on a God-fearing farmer of Podunkville, pat each other on the back, and go drool over Instagram girls saying they are going to end the objectification of women by wearing see-thru lingerie on the Internet. It’s easy rhetoric. There’s no social cost to it, and plenty of social benefit.

It is the ease of this rhetoric, the reward for it, that really pushes people into Leftism. Oh, sure, there will always be welfare queens and hardcore Marxists who spout this crap, but the regular Joe is responding to a need to be accepted. The middle manager trying to angle for promotion to the upper tier is saying what he thinks people want him to say. And yes, even the flaky Instagram girl is just responding to what will get her the most likes and comments.

It is the ease of this rhetoric that must be defeated more than the rhetoric itself. Even if a Milo or Ben Shapiro gets in a slick comeback; even if Thomas Sowell comes to the party armed with every economic statistic known to man and has them on immediate tap, it won’t be enough. Such victories are short-lived, and the culture at large goes back to ‘if you want upvotes, talk about Islamophobia!’ Rightists are fighting an enormous cultural current, and are doing so admirably. But it is the current itself that must be changed.

The bikini girl on Instagram should be at least as likely to talk about taxation as theft as she is to take rhetorical dumps on Donald Trump. Only then will the rhetorical battle be on level ground.

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