Today, I intend to be very plain with my readers. I tire of beating around the bush. And to be frank, that is what I have been doing for quite some time, though this was not my intention.
You see, I have fallen victim to describing in detail the symptoms, and how they might best be treated, with too little regard for the disease itself. This is a common affliction during the twilight of the West. Left and Right alike know that the West is dying; that it is deeply ill. The Right proposes to treat the symptoms, the Left prescribes euthanasia. For them, death is the only cure to any disease.
My ancestor is reputed to have said, when given the opportunity to inspect the ax that was to behead him, “this is sharp medicine; but it is a sure cure for all diseases.” Perhaps the Left has taken this too literally, or perhaps theirs is a cult that worships death. We can only speculate.
Our first instinct as men, when accused of a crime, is to plead our innocence and to offer our proofs. With an impartial jury, this may work if the proofs are good. If the accuser is malicious, however, and merely intends harm regardless of innocence, the pleas will please him. The proofs will be laughed at. He will feel powerful, presented with your own weakness.
Right now, as I type this, debates are raging across social media, and many of them are loaded with accusations of moral violation. These do not even contain the pretense of an impartial jury, as a legal violation might, but the consequences can be just as dire. Your job, your business, your possessions, your relationships, and reputation are all on the line. Are you, perhaps, a racist? Do you hate the poor? Do you stand on a cliff ready to push granny to her doom?
Plead your innocence and your accuser will laugh. Fail to plead, and your guilt is established. It is a Catch-22, a Kafkatrap. The mind recoils from resultant feelings of guilt and shame. This weapon is the most powerful one in the enemy’s arsenal. We have survived by ignoring it, hiding from it, or dismissing it, depending on one’s inclination. Facing the guilt and shame head-on is a daunting task only a few are truly capable of.
How did it come to this? Why is the weapon so effective?
Deep down, many people in the West feel guilty. We live comfortable lives, we have plentiful wealth. Few in the history of man have possessed such plenty. I cannot speak for everyone, but at least for myself, there are times I look at what I have and think that I do not deserve it. Greater minds than I have done things for civilization that I could only dream of doing, and possessed far less.
Our problems are often laughable. Listen to any conversation where people are complaining about this and that. The complaints are small-minded. Perhaps someone is having trouble with love or sex, another complains that his car has broken down, or perhaps his toilet will not work. Another complains of crushing debt from his state-of-the-art smartphone, sitting in his brand-new vehicle. The Internet is slow today, or the air-conditioning unit has broken down again.
With the exception of love and sex, perpetual problems for the race of man, these are not problems in any historical sense of the word, not even for many of the poorest among us. Such things are small, and deep down most of us know that. Problems we face are preferable to the problems of our ancestors, for whom food was difficult to obtain, work was brutal, and life short and filled with pain.
For a time, the West prided itself in having banished many of the ills of our forebears. Indeed, we even traveled to the moon! Some wished, perhaps, to spread our plenty to the rest of the world. We could export our ways, our culture, and our way of thinking to others, so that they might enjoy the same rich rewards.
That did not last long. Before long, Marxist subversion had wormed its way into media, entertainment, and education. Fabian Socialism was the method of subverting the West, for revolutionary Socialism had already failed. For a time, this was probably a deliberate instrument of the Soviets. We won the Cold War in an economic sense, and probably in a military sense as well, though nuclear weapons assured that this was never put to the final test. In a sociological sense, both sides lost, though for us the loss was worse. If the Soviet Union was the head of the Marxist animal, it was lopped off effectively. Like the Hydra, however, the body did not die, and new heads eventually sprang from the seeming-corpse.
Many theories exist for where the weapon was first forged, and by whom. Saul Alinsky is frequently cited, as is the Frankfurt school. The Gramscian Long March may also have contributed. On this matter, let smarter men than I speculate and theorize. The weapon exists, and its effectiveness cannot be denied.
Concepts of Socialism go at least as far back as Aristophanes, yet the method of civilizational guilt as a means of forcing it upon the citizenry is unique and relatively new. Further, it exists only in the West. Chinese do not worry about colonizing Africa, nor do Mohammedans moralize about the Christians and Jews they have subjugated and enslaved. Conquest is rarely regretted on a moral level by anyone but a Westerner. For most, it is a matter of some pride.
When reading the works of Western ancients, this sort of civilizational self-loathing is conspicuously absent. Guilt, where it exists, tends to be personal, or spun as a vendetta of sorts. It is difficult to imagine the Romans, for instance, worrying overmuch about the opinions of the Gauls. So even in the West, this is new.
Why do Westerners hate themselves so? There is no other explanation that fits. The West, at a meta level, feels that it does not deserve what it has, and now questions whether or not it should even continue to exist at all. Survival, most powerful of all human instincts, has been completely subverted, and now inverted.
This is the disease. Rightists will endlessly prattle on that they are not guilty for slavery, or for various wars, conquests, and other events in world history, because they were not alive, nor would countenance such actions if they were. This treats only the symptoms. The disease continues. Deep down, even many Rightists feel the guilt and the shame, and Leftists continue to exploit them. I know this, for the weapon once worked on me, and I see it continually deployed against my fellows.
Something very deep has rooted itself in the West, a civilization-killing disease of the mind, for which no amount of charity, submission, or moralizing is sufficient to extirpate. At no point may a Westerner regard his moral duty as satisfied. No amount of charity is sufficient, no flood of government programs, nor burden of taxation or public penitence will extinguish the disease. Indeed, these only worsen the symptoms.
If the disease is to be named, I can think of no other more suitable than Civilizational Self-Loathing. Pride in the West’s accomplishments was reduced to guilt for the West’s success. And now the guilt has mutated into self-hate. Ceaselessly, we are bombarded with declarations of how evil we are, how our ancestors did terrible wrongs, and how we are responsible for righting the wrongs, for paying a weregild with the death of our own evil civilization. Anything less is a moral evil, we are told. Give up America. Give up existence. Crawl into a hole and die, and give up everything you own, and even then you are still guilty and hateful.
Such bombardment has continued since I was a child. And I suspect even the strongest among us are worn down at some level by it. Once, when speaking with my friend Sarah Hoyt, she explained that Marxist morality, such that it is, has infected all of us to some degree. Even those who display few or no symptoms are often carriers of the disease.
If there is any hope, it is that like any virus, a vaccination might be possible. I am no stranger to people using guilt as an emotional weapon against me. It has occurred for most of my life in greater or lesser fashion due to many personal experiences I have little desire to discuss. As I look back, I am thankful for this at some level. I do not possess the strength of character that some do, but I was vaccinated somewhat against the disease, and that has helped.
Perhaps the next generation will be better inoculated against the disease. The distinct schadenfreude of Donald Trump’s victory of 2016 demonstrates that a wave of “don’t give a fuck,” as we might put it in vulgar terms, has swept the country.
Is it enough to treat the disease, and not merely the symptoms? I cannot say, but I can hope. One thing we can all do, however, is to stop looking back at our history in shame. For every great tragedy in history, there is wondrous discovery. For each moral failing, there is bright accomplishment. We must appreciate the good, and remember the bad so as not to repeat it, and let neither be used as a weapon against us, to make us hate ourselves, or where we came from. America has no reason to feel shame for her history. For if any have tried earnestly to be a just and moral people, though at times failing as all humans do, it is us. And those doing the criticizing have records far worse. If anyone should feel shame and guilt, it is they.
For America, shame? No. Pride, perhaps. But never shame.
Francis explains for us a common SJW technique, one so ubiquitous over the past few decades, that almost every institution has been terminally infected by it:
When persons of that stripe manage to gain entry into an organization, they immediately start to work at politicizing it in their preferred direction. It doesn’t matter whether politics has any relevance to the purpose of the organization. The infector’s purpose is politics and nothing but politics, regardless of whatever pretense they used to gain access to it. Often their intentions are opposed to the organization’s goals; they actively seek to degrade it, even if that would mean the loss of their positions, salaries, and status.
It is important to understand the scope and purpose of the SJW’s actions. For them, there is no other purpose to life than the battle for control over other human beings. Folks, I know I’ve said this many times in the past, but people really need to take this to heart fully. It’s very hard for a mind not bent toward power to comprehend fully a mind that is bent that way.
They do not care about safety, or the children ™, or equality, or any other excuse. Racism does not matter to them, nor does sexism. Wealth inequality does not matter to them. What matters to them is power, and these things are seen as convenient vehicles for this power. Were SJWs alive in 1930s Germany, they would have blamed all their woes upon the Jews, as they blame straight white Christian men now. It would have been convenient for them.
Were they around in during the Russian revolution, the Romanovs and the filthy capitalists would have been the excuse. Wealth inequality, mistreatment of the peasantry, whatever…
In this you find the most insidious component of SJW subversion: there is a degree of truth to the excuses. Americans know blacks got a raw deal in our history, as did Indians. We all know about segregation. We all know that America – like any nation in history – has sins buried in her history. To the SJW, this is the leverage, the crowbar, use to move us, so that he can gain power over us.
All these things are tools to the cynically-minded, gender-confused sociopath. And they care not for the nature of the tool they wield. Today it is white men. Tomorrow they may return to Jew-hatred – we’ve long seen strains of anti-Semitism among extreme black nationalists. Or perhaps it will be something different, who can say?
The tools morph and change with the culture. Today it is one tool, tomorrow it is another. The tool may be seemingly-innocuous, like a helmet law or a speed limit. Or it can be death camps and gulags. It can be forceful, with extreme physical violence, or it can leverage guilt and weaponized empathy.
The purpose is always power.
I shall repeat: the purpose is always power.
SJWs, like busybody tyrants throughout history, are extremely cynical and calculating about these things. This is how they can claim they are about peace, love, and diversity one moment, and shout “kill whitey” the next. Whatever works in that particular moment, that is what they will use.
This is why so many prominent SJW feminists have been outed as sexual creeps, rapists, cheaters, and otherwise. Feminism is a tool for them – they don’t really believe any of it. It is merely a crowbar to open a door to more power.
If they contribute anything to your organization, be assured that is merely another pry bar, another wedge, to gain power and convert your institution over to their service. They will do just enough to gain entrance and cover. It is only about power. Subversion is their way of avoiding triggering active resistance before they are ready to fully take over. Once they do, their power over the organization is already at critical levels. Infestations must be rooted out quickly, and early… or not at all.
In simple terms: good-natured people are too gullible. We think it is possible that they aren’t what they seem to be. And that indecision, that hesitation, is likewise another tool in the SJW arsenal.
For a casino to make money, it does not need to win every round. That would be counter-productive. It would scare away the gullible losers. Rather, the house merely needs a small advantage that, over time, adds up to complete and total victory. 51/49 odds played out over a long enough time results in the casino making wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.
For SJWs, politics is likewise. Their subversion does not need to avoid triggering resistance in everybody. Some will not be gullible. Some will not fall for it. They merely need a slight advantage, played out over decades. It’s the Fabian approach to tyranny.
If there is any hope for us, it is that awareness of this calculating approach to power is spreading, and that the would-be tyrants began moving too quickly. They thought victory was finally at hand, and all that was left was a mopping up of active resistance. Their impatience may be our salvation.
But regardless of all that, never let go of a central truth: it’s always about power. Always. All else is a lie.
I debated whether or not to post this for some time, now. I’m sure we’re going to take our share of shit for all this, but the story has to be told.
4 years ago, we adopted Bandit, a little lab puppy, from the local Humane Society on Armenia ave (3607 N Armenia Ave, Tampa, FL 33607). He was a hyper dog – never did really grow out of it – and very stubborn with training. But he was also very loving, attentive, and you could tell he WANTED to obey, to please. We loved him a lot.
Unfortunately, as our firstborn Jacob entered his toddler phase, we discovered that Bandit was not good with little kids. Whereas our other dog, Duncan, would generally tolerate toddler foolishness, or at worst grumble a bit and leave the room, Bandit was confrontational. He had a right to whatever he was doing, to his toys, to his space, and the toddler better listen. Understandable, mind you, as toddlers are exhausting to parents too. But it was also unacceptable. We had a number of close calls with snapping.
After a while, it became clear we could not train this behavior out of him. It was ingrained. We began to look for a new home for him. We posted a bunch of stuff on social media, contacted a number of rescues and agencies, and put the word out at the Vet office Jenny works at. After a few months, there were no takers, and we suffered another very close call.
It was time to consider more drastic options. We called a local no-kill shelter – the very Humane Society shelter we adopted him from, in fact. We discussed the situation with them, and Jenny dropped him off at their intake center on Tuesday. She brought with her all of his history and papers (she is meticulous about that sort of thing) and explained that he would make a very good companion for adults, or for older children, but that he was just not tolerant enough of small children. They were understanding and reassuring – he would get a second chance.
That night, we realized that we had forgotten to bring his favorite toy with him, and so the next morning I grabbed his toy and drove down to the shelter on my lunch break from work. I got a very strange runaround when I showed up. First, the front desk told me that they could not give me any info on Bandit and suggested I should call the intake center myself, or go directly to the intake center. So I went down, explained why I was there, and waited. I waited a long time and got a number of strange looks. Something was clearly very wrong. Whatever. I loved this dog, and he should at least be able to keep his favorite toy, right?
Eventually, a woman came and explained that he had been put down shortly after we dropped him off.
Naturally, this was a tremendous shock. We did not bring him to this shelter just to see him killed within the hour. The worker’s excuse was that they did not know his history, where he came from, his temperament, etc… I call bullshit on this. Jenny arrived with a mountain of paperwork, and he came from THEIR shelter originally. Then the worker tried to tell me that he bit someone, something that I found extremely unlikely (naturally, they did not produce the person supposedly bitten). He was a very loving dog, and unless you were doing something you shouldn’t (which, unfortunately, our toddler DID do some of the time – hence the problem), he was a perfectly good dog.
I left profoundly angry and confused. Jenny, naturally, did not take it well.
Jenny left a scathing review on their site, confused that they would just betray our trust and kill him like that – and not even contact us. This was especially confusing to her given that she emailed them after she dropped Bandit off, expressing that if there were ANY problems, we would come back, pick him back up, and take him someplace else, or try something else.
Yesterday, Jenny got a call from their director of operations. They claimed to have had IT problems, and that they did not get her email until today. Furthermore, she provided a THIRD story about what happened, this one at least admitting some fault.
Her version of events was that the intake lady had been lazy about paperwork, and not followed protocol, which is to have the dog acclimate to the new (scary!) environment for a few days before messing with him, and that a worker had attempted to enter his holding area, and that Bandit had lunged at the worker. That part I can almost believe, given that Bandit loved to jump up on people and lick them (that was something we never could quite train him out of). That was not an attack. The director claimed to have video footage, but naturally she did not see fit to share the footage with us. She did, however, at least admit that the rest of the footage showed Bandit as a friendly, happy, sociable dog. The person who put him down did so flippantly and too quickly – again, against protocol – and was supposedly fired, with the intake person demoted and/or removed from duty as well.
Meanwhile, I cannot help but suspect that had I never showed up the next day trying to give him his favorite toy, they never would have told us any of this. And, furthermore, their donations are highly dependent upon their nature as a “no-kill” shelter. They say on their site that they are no kill for “space or resources.” So what I think happened is this. They DO kill for space/resources, but spin it as something else. When they get a dog via intake that they suspect will be difficult to adopt out, an excuse is manufactured, and the dog is quietly put down. Can’t have it be known that they are really a kill shelter – and, worse, they don’t even give the dog a few weeks, like kill shelters usually do. They just cart off the hard-to-adopt ones and quietly kill them.
To be fair, that’s just a theory. And maybe my cynicism has gotten worse with age and I’m totally off base. Whatever the case, we trusted them to help us find a home for Bandit, and they just killed him about as fast as humanly possible instead. I feel violated and wronged. I was lied to multiple times. Three separate stories, and a lot of run around and bullshit excuses.
Instead of finding a new family – one without toddlers – he’s dead, and I’m furious.
I’ve long enjoyed various forms of Christian chant. Gregorian chant is excellent, of course, but Byzantine chant is also fascinating. One of the things I feel Protestant denominations have largely lost is a sense of the mysteries of the faith, of the gravitas of ancient history. There is almost a mournful component – and I use this word for lack of any other I can use to describe this phenomenon. It is a difficult thing to explain. Listen to these two chant videos and see if you can pick up on what I mean:
At times, my Protestant upbringing protests that such things are frippery; meaningless ceremony. But I do not feel they are meaningless when I witness them, even in the local Catholic church my wife and I visit. There is something in both the Catholic and Orthodox branches of the faith, something that at least I feel is lacking in the church of my birth (Seventh Day Adventist).
If only the Pope wasn’t a near-Communist, I suppose. Otherwise my wife and I would probably find a Catholic church of the Byzantine rite and heal the Great Schism in our own household.
This is a thing that has been on my mind for years. We’ve witnessed the Leftist convergence and subversion within God’s own house, the perversion of the church as a vehicle for personal political aggrandizement. To me, this is as bad as the moneychangers peddling their wares in the Temple. Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls this mixing of the profane and the sacred. Whatever you may call it, our faith is the poorer for it.
Protestant churches likewise suffer this, though often in different and less direct ways. My father attended a church that conducted a campaign to modernize the hymns, to add a pop and/or rock element to them to make them popular for millennials. More mixing of the profane and the sacred. That, and the whole thing just came off as cheesy, in my opinion. But it is excessively common in many Protestant churches around the country. The temptation to change things out of a perceived desire to cater to social popularity is ancient and will always be with us. Compare such ‘modernized’ hymns to this chant:
The sacred is mystical, somewhat incomprehensible to us mere mortals, and possessed of gravitas, the very presence of the divine. It is both sorrowful, for the fall of man, and hopeful, for the promise of salvation. It transcends the profane, the political and social fascinations of the moment. To me, it is to touch, however briefly, a much greater universe that is otherwise quite beyond our understanding.
Whatever it means to you, and whatever branch of faith you subscribe to, the separation is important. Leftists often like to criticize Christianity on the basis of the Crusades, and bleat on about the separation of church and state, while attempting to suborn churches from within and make them arms of the state. Consider the contradiction for a moment. And consider where a Crusade, if any is to come, is likely to originate, or what its political ideology would be.
Whipping the modern day moneychangers and driving them from the Temple is an imperative.
In the meantime, I hope good Christian chant appeals to you as much as it appeals to me.
Popularity and the desire to be liked are at the center of our contemporary political disasters. One of the general rules of rhetoric I’ve observed is a tendency for the nicest opinion to be preferred to the not-nice, all other things being equal. If, for instance, I were to say that most poor people in America are poor due to bad choices, and another were to say that most people in America were poor due to no fault of their own, the latter is more palatable. It is nicer. And since it is nicer, it is generally preferred by popular opinion irrespective of whether or not it is actually correct.
Socially, it is easier to lay blame on “the system” or some other non-entity than to lay blame on specific individuals. It’s not your fault, it’s the patriarchy! It’s the racists, the sexists, the privileged, the heteronormative system of oppression. Whatever. The specific ephemeral system is not important. What is important is that it is easier to lay blame there, than on the person, especially if the individual in question is yourself.
For example, it is easier to blame white racism for the problems of the black community than to blame the black community itself, irrespective of which explanation (if either) is true. So when a debate breaks out, those who want to stick white racism with the blame have the home field advantage, so to speak. An opponent will have to win by enough to outweigh the rhetorical preference for nice.
This disease has infested our thinking to such a great degree that pacifism is generally accounted as morally superior to self-defense. It is better to die yourself, than to harm the criminal, because harming the criminal would not be nice.
Whether we consciously know it or not, this thinking is everywhere, and at some level all people are aware of it. Watch almost any political debate and you will notice the person espousing a “not-nice” opinion will invariably be apologetic; after all, he is quite sorry that his opinion isn’t as nice as his opponent’s. He doesn’t want the spectators (the real arbiters of debate) to think he’s a big meanie.
Note also that the debate opponent with the “nicer” opinion will generally be quite ruthless and cruel to the not-nice debater. After all, since his opinion is not nice, it is permissible to treat him like shit in order to change his opinion into the nice. Furthermore, it exposes his not-niceness for the spectators to see, this winning the debate for the nice. This shows us that this form of rhetorical niceness is conditional. Do not harm the criminal who breaks into your house, but feel free to punch Rightists, because their not-niceness proves they are all Nazis.
This ties into Weaponized Empathy; the notion that your own good nature and desire to be seen as righteous can be turned against you with one sad picture, with one sob story. What, you don’t want to push granny off a cliff, right?
There’s a fallacy buried in all this. Good is not necessarily nice. What is moral may not appear nice, and what appears nice may, in fact, be quite evil. Niceness has little – if any – correlation with goodness. It is good to defend your family from a murderer. It is not nice to the murderer, obviously. This is one of the reasons modern pacifism is rooted in moral cowardice disguising itself as moral superiority.
Social Justice elevates niceness above goodness, and tries to claim the moral high ground in any debate as a result. They are taking advantage of a cheap rhetorical trick. Fortunately, there is an easy defense. Invariably, SJWs will get ugly. Their not-niceness will be exposed. If they sling it at you, you are permitted to sling it right back. Quid pro quo may be the most effective means of combating SJWs. Any tactic they use is now on the table for our use, regardless of how nice it is. Intellectual courage demands it, actually. After all, if a nation lobs a nuke at you, you are not only permitted to nuke them in turn, but morally demanded to do so – else others might get it into their heads that they can lob nukes around without consequence.
The world is not nice. Reality doesn’t care. They are hard lessons that SJWs have failed to learn because many of us have restrained ourselves out of politeness. They will continue until we stop them.
It has come to my attention that the comments have been partially broken for some users. It is inconsistent. Not all users have problems. Those that do often have different problems. Tracking down the reason behind this has been troublesome, so I have made some major changes in terms of the plugins, theme, and anti-spam defense used at The Declination. If you’ve had problems before, please attempt to comment on this post. If you get an error, please use the contact form to inform me of the error you are getting.
If this does not work, I will be shifting the comments to Disqus, since this site gets an extreme number of spam attacks on a regular basis. I cannot possibly run it without a workable spam defense.
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.
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.
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…
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.