A local friend of mine posted a link to this National Review article earlier today: Chick-fil-A to End Donations to Christian Charities after LGBT Backlash
The article follows from the headline, but feel free to read it if you wish.
This was always going to happen.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb once wrote about the power of intolerance, and the concept is very applicable here.
Let’s say you’re cooking a meal for a group of friends, and you chose pork. Now, everyone who can eat pork is obviously okay. The Jewish guy might not eat the pork due to his religious beliefs, but he’d probably attend anyway. Maybe he’ll bring something he can eat along with him to cook up or just pick at the non-pork side items. His religion forbids him from eating the pork, but his religion does not concern your eating habits. Invite an extremist Muslim, and he’d want to kill everybody for eating the pork (a moderate one may just refuse to attend).
To be intolerant toward a practice personally (the Jew in the pork example) does not give you any power over the guy cooking the food. But to be intolerant toward it generally (the Muslim in the pork example) gives you veto rights over the meal, unless the host chooses to be fine with not inviting you (and the attendant social consequences).
How does this relate to Chick-Fil-A? I mean, besides the fact that “attendant social consequences” in their case resolves to roundabout 50% of their entire customer base?
Well, Leftists are intolerant generally with regard to patronizing organizations who go against their political orthodoxy. Chick-Fil-A has been losing some amount of money – only they probably have a good idea of how much – due to this intolerance. Furthermore, the price continues to go up. Leftists continue to make a bigger and bigger issue of this. Leftists actually got restaurants blocked in some places over this. At some point, it could easily threaten the company’s existence, and the leadership knows this. They pay X dollars for staying closed on Sunday, and were fine with that. But to donate to the ‘wrong’ charities costs them an increasing and ultimately unknown future price which could eventually drive them out of business.
Rightists may, for a while, be lackluster about Chick-Fil-A after caving, but ultimately they lack the Left’s general intolerance, and their desire to eat good chicken will overturn any Rightist boycott. It’s not enough to overturn Leftist boycotts – at least, not forever.
Thus the Left wins, and the most intolerant wins.
Rightism suffers from a weakness which has long been exploited by the political Left. Ultimately, Rightists generally believe that politics must serve man. Eating well supersedes the political beliefs of an organization in all but the most extreme cases. Leftism reverses the order. Man must serve politics. Each organization’s political stances are hugely important, and perhaps more important than the products and services offered.
Remember GamerGate and Brianna Wu? Brianna was a “game developer” who made an atrocious game called Revolution 60 (although nowhere near as bad as Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest). With poor graphics that looked like the game came from the mid-90s (despite using a modern game engine), and atrociously terrible art, design, and plot, Revolution 60 was a failure in every respect.
Yet while Brianna Wu stood against the supposed racist, sexist bigots of GamerGate, SJWs continued to praise the game. When Brianna Wu made a political misstep, I remember the SJWs turning on her and saying “finally, we don’t have to pretend to like her game anymore.”
Politics above all else. That is the mantra of the intolerant Left, and it guides them to what they must support, and what they must boycott. And until that changes, expect every organization that is challenged by them to eventually cave-in to their demands. Some may last longer than others, and all things considered, Chick-Fil-A lasted a very long time indeed.
But in the end, all will surrender to them, unless Rightists become equally intolerant in turn.
Politics has become exhausting to me of late. It is quite difficult to summon the energy required to care overmuch about it these days. Everywhere I look, it’s the same story. When Leftism has the reins of power, they push through plenty of their agenda. When Rightism has the reins, Leftism manages to stonewall, delay, throw up procedural roadblocks, etc… preventing much, if any, claw back.
David Hines is fond of explaining that Leftists are just better at this game. They hustle more, they organize better, they are more ruthless and practiced in the Machiavellian arts. Frankly, it’s all true. Rightist intellectuals – for what utility the term might have – tend to be antisocial to some degree. It’s probably related to our preferences toward individualism. It is difficult, if not impossible, to muster our full strength the same way Leftists do.
And so the Overton Window slides ever-further leftward, and there’s very little any of us can do to stop it. Sometimes, with Herculean effort, we can slow it down for a time, but that is all.
Leftism has won. It won a long time ago. It won before I was born.
Much of the frustration we see from Leftists directed toward Trump is probably because they thought the final demographic victory had come, and even our ability to slow them down was a thing of the past. All that remained, they thought, was the mop up action. Our final bastions, like the Second Amendment (and the First) would be surrendered.
Trump summoned some hidden reserve of Rightist strength for a final defense. American Rightists, and the President himself, are now under political siege, having decided against surrender. Assault after assault has been made against the walls. Tunnels have been dug underneath them to soften them. Quisling traitors from within the gates have been propositioned and tempted into action. It has been relentless. Yet so far that final siege continues on. For how long is anybody’s guess.
Can a repeat of the 2016 miracle happen again? I don’t know. Can Trump stave off impeachment? Can the hung Congress be held another term? Your guess is as good as mine.
But Leftist victory is still assured in the end, eventually. Why? Because our actions are almost always defensive in nature. This means that whatever territory they gain becomes a permanent gain for them. Until recent years, even defensive action was deemed too hasty. Better to voluntarily surrender things to the Left at a relatively slow, but consistent pace. David Hines is right about that much, at least. If Rightist tactics do not change, if they cannot organize, they will fall, no matter how well-manned the walls are against the enemy.
Give the Leftists credit for their unceasing dedication to their cause. When one avenue of attack fails, they immediately seize upon another, and another, and another. They never stop. They are political terminators and we are the collective John Connors. Of course, Girrrrrrlpower Hollywood made sure to kill him, too, in their latest craptastic sequel.
This won’t continue forever, of course. Leftist regimes eventually move too far to the Left (see: Venezuela) and collapse of their own internal contradictions (see: USSR). But does that do any of our generation any good? Does it even do any good for our kids? It will probably be a struggle for generations. And there is no guarantee we will ever claw back to freedom again, though one hopes.
I’m sorry to be such a pessimist, but I don’t see the United States lasting much longer. And I don’t see Rightists winning back their country, not even through bloodshed, for despite all the talk of the boogaloo, and the many arms we possess, we lost the Culture Wars, badly. In any armed conflict, we will be the bad guys. The moral high ground is theirs. Most Rightists know this at some level, that’s why there has been no boogaloo, no one willing to fire the first shot, or light that powder keg like an Austrian Archduke.
That doesn’t mean I think this is hopeless, mind you. I just don’t see any political way to fix this mess, and I don’t see any violent way to do it either. Which means we probably have to wait out the inevitable Leftist collapse; keep something of our views and way of life intact (and arms buried) for the time when the Leftists grow overconfident, when they begin their inevitable infighting and self-cannibalization, when their economic system falls apart like a house of cards.
Maybe then a boogaloo would work. Or maybe then a boogaloo wouldn’t even be necessary (though perhaps some helicopters would be).
Or maybe we just need to get off this rock and colonize space. Leftist lunacy is ultimately incompatible with the natural world, despite their obsession with environmentalism. Sooner or later reality must intrude on their little fantasies, and only our vast wealth and technological sophistication enables them to be so damned wasteful. Ancient tyrants could only marvel at the amazing levels of wastefulness we have been able to sustain.
Waste of that sort is fatal on the frontier. Even the Puritans had to give up their pseudo-Communist fantasies when presented with life on the frontier. Learn or die, those are the only two options. It may very well be that freedom can ultimately only sustain itself on the frontier, where the punishment for totalitarian, utopian ideas is death.
But that is all speculation. For now, exhausted as I am of all this, I suppose I must go back to the walls and do my part to slow the Leftist advance. Damnit, friends… there’s a shitpot lot of them out there.
Americans have a mixed relationship with celebrities. In some ways, they are our icons, our saints, a replacement for religious worship in a time of increasing secularism. In other ways, they are our devils. Miley Cyrus urinating in the streets, Kardashians videotaping their antics under the sheets.
Celebrities have usually been constructs, their public personas at odds with their private eccentricities and foibles. Marketers and media talking heads craft their images, setting them up as icons against a backdrop of quasi-religious mockery. Beyonce is fawned over by her attendants as some kind of goddess.
But once upon a time, celebrity fame was at least tied to something real. Elvis could sing. Elizabeth Taylor could act. Cindy Crawford was beautiful. Talent and hard work were prerequisites to success. By many accounts, Michael Jackson’s family were slave drivers, pushing him, prodding him. Many celebrities likely have similar stories.
The formula was talent + hard work + luck. You needed that last little bit. Some talent scout in that dive bar you were singing in, perhaps. Or a friend of the family who knew someone in Hollywood. You needed that break. But only those who had the gifts and put in the work could take advantage of that break when it came.
The Kardashians proved that talent wasn’t really needed anymore, and it was questionable how much “hard” work they really did. The Kardashians were among the first to be famous for being famous. They were the chicken and the egg rolled into one sexually-charged, quasi-pornographic package made for mass pop culture consumption.
But even if we cannot resolve the Kardashian paradox easily, there was something there. Some preexisting OJ Simpson-derived fame. Some kind of bizarre facsimile of “work” at maintaining their circular fame. They were somehow anointed by the media and by popular culture, but something was still brought to that table, even if weak and ephemeral.
Greta Thunberg and David Hogg represent a new breed of celebrity, a wholly-fictional creation of marketers and journalists: the anointed activist. In David’s case, we may say that at least he was there when the shooting took place that supposedly drove him to activism.
Greta further lowers the bar.
She merely recites talking points delivered by others of similar political mind. She is a kid at the spelling bee, rattling off her letters. Her winnings? A Nobel prize nomination, for one. A great mural put up to honor her, for another. What has she done? What new thing has she created? Where did she come from?
In popular culture, we may create icons out of wholly fictional cloth. Or we may cancel those who actually did something over a mean high school tweet. Cancel culture allows those same marketers and journalists to cancel the fame of anyone they do not like. Although, at least for the nonce, journalists can likewise be cancelled.
They giveth. They taketh away. If we’re lucky, they get taken away too.
All of this is artificial. The Right and the Left argue over the statements Greta spews over the airwaves. But it’s rather like arguing whether or not you like the cut of the emperor’s clothes.
Who will say that the emperor has no clothes?
Like the Kardashians, when you strip away the pop culture iconography, when you wash away the anointment oils of the media, there is nothing left. The product is the packaging. There is nothing here. The emperor has no clothes.
Zoe Quinn, a “game developer” who created what is, in essence, a barely-formatted word document for all of its “complexity” cheated on her boyfriend with five guys. When her boyfriend later wrote a screed about how bad this was, and what she did, this triggered a chain of events that had Zoe Quinn, fake game developer, being granted an audience at the United Nations.
For what? A domestic dispute in which she was the abuser? Not only is talent or hard work no longer a prerequisite, there appear to be no meritocratic standards at all.
Journalists and marketers reserve for themselves – or at least try to – the ability to manufacture fame, or to cancel it, for any reason whatsoever. It is trivially easy to cancel anybody. Ever said something hasty on the Internet? They will find it. Ever made an insensitive joke? They will find out. If you pass that test – somehow – then surely something can be taken out of context. Scrub a word here, cut off the beginning there, and you have a racist quotation. Unless you’re Mike Pence, have you ever been alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife? You could be a rapist, Mr. Kavanaugh! It doesn’t have to be true. It doesn’t have to be substantiated. It could be some typical childish stupidity from a high school kid. It could be nothing at all.
Whatever. It will become gospel, and it will be terrible, and you will be cancelled from polite society. Even if you retain your great station, half the country (or more) will hate you forever. That might even be true for Greta, save that the halves would be reversed.
But it’s all nothing.
The emperor has no clothes.
But journalists will tell you how beautiful the clothes are. They will paint your murals on the walls, sing your praises at all the townhalls. You will be the mascot, you’ll get your book deals. Until you’re cancelled for some idiot’s bad feels.
It’s all fake, and everybody knows. There’s politics at stake, even if the emperor has no clothes.
Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.
Saint Augustine tells us (along with Gandhi, many years later) to love the sinner, and hate the sin. Conceptually, it’s easy enough to grasp. Practically, it’s not always an easy task. Drive down the freeway during peak traffic hours and tell me how many folks drive you crazy with poor driving antics. Certainly road rage wouldn’t be so prevalent if most folks managed to live by this rule. However, making the attempt to live this way is worthy even if we cannot always live up to it.
Social Justice orthodoxy demands that we hate the sinner for the sin. Paula Deen famously used the word “nigger” after being held up at gun point, and admitted that she may have said it in other contexts at some point or another in her life. This stain is considered permanent in some sense. Once you use the word, you are forever guilty, as if the offense were like committing a felony. Your record cannot ever be expunged. Forgiveness is impossible. You will be hated forever. You are an unperson, erased like a man in a Stalin-era photograph.
A good friend of mine some folks may know as ClarkHat sent me this link: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/08/my-joe-rogan-experience/594802/
Fascinatingly, the author of the piece does not appear to have a problem with Joe Rogan himself, per se. Indeed, his opinion of Joe is high enough that most of the piece is about the author’s attempt to live likewise, and Joe’s ability to relate to the common American man. Rather, he takes issue with the fact that Joe Rogan would dare to talk with sinners, with the unpersoned. The money quote:
Joe likes Jack. He likes Milo Yiannopoulos. He likes Alex Jones. He wants you to know that he doesn’t agree with much of what they say, but he also wants you to know that off camera they’re the nicest guys. If we all have fatal flaws, this is Joe’s: his insistence on seeing value in people even when he shouldn’t, even when they’ve forfeited any right to it, even when the harm outweighs the good. It comes from a generous place, but it amounts to careless cruelty. He just won’t write people off, and then he compounds the sin by throwing them a lifeline at the moment when they least deserve it.
Once a man is unpersoned, the shunning is supposed to continue forever. You must hate the sinner, and if you do not, this itself is a form of sin. It is, in the author’s own words, Joe’s fatal flaw. Talking to the sinner is forbidden. Forgiveness of the sinner is forbidden. It does not matter if the sin was three years ago, or thirty years ago. It does not matter if the sin was a casually insensitive joke, or a Virginia governor donning blackface in a yearbook. Although we might suspect that Governor Northam may have been given some level of a temporary pass for his Democratic party allegiance. Political expediency may delay your final unpersoning, for a time. Then again, it may not. Courts of public opinion are fickle, prone to whimsy, and as cruel as any schoolyard bully. There is a reason the justice system is not put to popular vote, after all.
His invitation to Jones was indefensible, and his defense was even worse. I had assumed going in that Rogan would explain himself at the top, similar to what he’d done after booting the Jack Dorsey interview. But he didn’t. He went the other way. He promised a “fun” interview with Jones, as if it was a joyful, long-awaited reunion rather than offensive for even existing, and he assured his listeners that “you’re gonna love it.”
Even before Jones sat down, Rogan seemed unpierced by the genuine anguish that Jones had caused the parents of murdered first graders. I won’t quote anything Alex Jones said on the podcast, so just picture a walrus with a persecution complex, or a talking pile of gravel. They got the Sandy Hook stuff out of the way first—Jones evaded responsibility, Joe grumbled about the media—and then they got into what Jones was really there to talk about: aliens, suicidal grasshoppers, Chinese robot workers, that kind of thing. My breaking point was at the 21-minute mark, when Jones apologized for “ranting” and Rogan replied, “It’s okay—I want you to rant.”
Alex Jones is presumed by the author to have caused genuine anguish to the parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims. First, it bears mentioning that this claim is extremely dubious. If somebody doesn’t wish to listen to Alex Jones, he doesn’t have to. I’m not exactly in the Alex Jones fan club, and I generally avoid listening to him. Similarly, if Joe’s interview of Alex Jones starts to cause somebody distress for whatever reason, well, you can watch something else.
Similarly, the author notes that “Jones evaded responsibility.” What does this even mean? Alex Jones was not responsible for the shooting. There are many things one might conceivably pin on Alex Jones, to include those scam supplements sold under the InfoWars brand. But Sandy Hook – and the feelings of the victims and their families – isn’t one of them. To the author, however, it does not matter. Alex Jones is a sinner. He should therefore be unpersoned, and anyone who even talks to the unperson is himself guilty of a sin.
Perhaps a sin worthy of unpersoning as well.
I’m glad, though, that the men of America have Joe Rogan to motivate and inspire and educate them in limitless ways, including how to recognize a moron. Whatever gets the job done. It might unsettle some of us that we must rely on his fans to separate the good stuff from the bad, but that’s the hard work of being a responsible adult in the modern era—knowing what you should consume and what you shouldn’t. We all need to decide for ourselves, but trust me on this one: You can skip the mushroom coffee.
In the end, the author comes around – perhaps reluctantly – to the view I took above. For this I give him some credit, for I get the general impression from his writing that this view was difficult for him. He likes Joe at some level, but he is conflicted about his status as a sinner. But he does explain that you are responsible for the content you choose to consume. Joe Rogan’s time to be unpersoned has not yet come, at least in the author’s view. For now, perhaps, the court of public opinion has not ruled against him.
But once the you are deemed have offended the sensibilities of popular culture sufficiently, well, your time will come. There is no appeal, no forgiveness, no coming back from your unpersoning. Once a sinner, always a sinner. Once a sinner, never a real person again. You just become another caricature, a guy in a Hitler mustache, a cartoon villain, upon whom anything may be blamed, up to and including school shootings you had nothing to do with.
Hate the sinner, regardless of the sin: the new mantra of mob justice.
For those of my readers who are not yet in the know, my short story for Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse will appear in Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation. Look for it on sale at Amazon and Baen.com on August 6th.
This is an exciting time for me. It is my first published fictional piece, and for it to be set in the Carreraverse is all the more epic. I really appreciate Tom giving me this opportunity and helping me smooth out the rough edges of my writing. And furthermore, I am grateful for Francis Porretto for reading a very early version and supplying me with some helpful pointers that led to a major plot point.
From this, I think I’ve gained the confidence and practice I needed to make my first attempt at a full-length original novel in the near future, using a story outline I’ve had in my head for years. Look for some snippets of that here on The Declination in the near future!
But on to the Carreraverse and why it interested me. Tom is, of course, an expert in war, although I’m not sure he would describe himself as such. And the fighting makes for highly entertaining reading, but there is something more buried in the pages of these books.
In Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, I was first introduced to the idea of military service as a thing that might be tied to voting rights. This is, of course, not necessarily a new concept historically speaking – military service and citizenship were almost one and the same for Spartans, and the Romans (and others) used the military as a citizenship path for some – but it’s one that doesn’t enter public political discourse all that often.
It goes back to a concept Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses frequently. If you’re going to have responsibility for a thing, you should have skin in the game. If you have a stockbroker who makes money regardless of whether you win or lose in the market, why should you trust his advice? He has no skin in the game. He suffers no consequences for being wrong.
The characters in the Carrera books are strongly tied to their respective worlds. They have skin in the game. The titular character is wed to Balboa through marriage and through fire. The villains are similar, and in fact you can even feel somewhat sorry for one of the major ‘villains’, in that she does have a conscience of sorts, and is merely doing what she can with the hand she was dealt. She has skin in the game, too.
Tom isn’t an armchair general writing about some fanciful space laser blasters. He gives us a world that is very real, very relatable, and filled with believable tactics and strategy. I am not a military man myself. But most of the other men in my family are, as are many of my friends, and while I will likely never have the knowledge of these matters that they possess – for anything I learn is coming out of a book, and lacks a real perspective – I can appreciate the authenticity of it.
Most folks can relate to how flippant things like rank, tactics, supplies, etc… are treated in many science fiction worlds. Not so in the Carreraverse. This is a real world, for all the science fiction behind the scenes regarding Terra Nova’s settlement. The stories are real, the reactions are real.
No fanciful space blasters. But there are lasers. Just of a more real sort.
The philosophy behind the Carreraverse is just as interesting as the fighting, the conflicts, and the characters themselves. Tom has a message woven through these books, though he doesn’t beat the reader over the head with it. Again, it’s done believably. It’s more real.
The Wars of Liberation anthology rewinds the clock and shows us some small slices from when Terra Novan settlements were relatively young, and when the world Tom describes in the main books was first taking shape from the milieu of Old Earth cultures and polities. It is a mix of the high tech and the low tech.
As one line in my short goes, one which was Tom’s idea, it’s “stone knives and bearskins.” But with drones, explosives, and hacking into networks aboard orbiting spacecraft. And a Pringles can, for a bit of inside IT humor.
My story started with a proposition: what would happen to a pair of regular IT folks if they were dropped into the middle of all this? How would they survive? How would they make themselves useful? Or would everything they knew be functionally useless on a new planet about to experience some revolutionary upheaval?
Well, if you’re at all curious, you don’t have long to wait.
I encourage you to snag yourself a copy, and if you haven’t already, give Tom’s Carrera books a read. The first book in the series, A Desert Called Peace, is entirely free. You won’t be disappointed.