Francis posted an interesting screed this morning on having the courage to name one’s enemies. It got me thinking, as his posts often do. Tom Kratman has explained to me on more than one occasion that pacifism is moral cowardice. If you are unwilling to fight for your beliefs, if you are unwilling to confront evil, how can you call yourself good? This was one of the reasons I abandoned the Seventh Day Adventist church to swim the Tiber, as it were. Adventism preaches pacifism, and though there have been those Adventists like Desmond Doss who absolutely could not be described as cowards, the ideology as a whole comes uncomfortably close to it. Even Desmond’s heroism and sacrifice meant that someone else had to do the fighting. In other words, a nation full of nothing but Adventists would be conquered in short order.
In this sense, pacifism requires a sort of freeloading in order to exist. Someone must fight so that you do not have to fight, or else evil walks in the front door, kills you, takes your stuff, and your pacifist ideology goes extinct. History gives us a few examples of what happens when pacifism exists without someone willing to fight on its behalf, including the story of the Moriori.
Francis took issue with David French and the man’s constant bleating about Trump’s supposed disobedience of Christian morality because Trump names his enemies, and fights his enemies in the political arena. Pre-Trump, this trait was relatively rare in the Republican party. Most members were content to play the game as gentlemen, secure their sinecures, and fill the role of polite opposition to the Democrat party. A role, it should be noted, that suited men like David French well enough.
Now for one, I think it’s a mistake to ascribe “Christian values”, especially those derived from an Evangelical line of thinking, to Donald Trump. It’s silly when Trump supporters cast him as a being a gift from God or something. And it’s silly from the other side, when the Frenchies of the world disparage him because, in their mind, he’s not a good enough Christian. But more importantly, the notion that Trump defending himself from a barrage of media and political attacks is somehow immoral is idiotic at best, and cowardly pacifism at worst.
Consider what a regular person would do when accused of a crime. Would he defend himself from the accusations? If he knew himself to be innocent of the charges, and suspected his accusers knew likewise, would he not regard the accusers as his enemies? And if they were his enemies, trying to railroad him for personal gain, is he not permitted to say so? Is the Christian supposed to sit idly by and allow himself to be unjustly tried and sentenced? Why?
If the answer is “because Christ did”, you might want to rethink that. Christ had a higher mission that required sacrifice, to save humankind from its own mistakes. To knowingly sacrifice yourself for the good of others is a great and noble trait. This is not the equivalent of pacifism, however. If Trump did not fight his enemies, and let himself be defeated by them without a fight, what good is he doing? For who or what is he sacrificing himself? For the peace of mind of talking heads on CNN? For the sensibilities of Leftist politicians? For the aid and comfort of his enemies? That’s not Christ-like in the least. It’s stupid, though.
Christ’s exhortation to “Love your enemies,” in the theological lexicon of First Century Judea, simply means to regard them as children of God like yourself. You are not to wish them harm, nor to harm them by any action you can avoid. But if you must fight them for a good reason, you do so.
Love your enemies is not an exhortation to allow yourself to be conquered, enslaved, or murdered by them. It is, rather, to regard them as human, like yourself. When you regard your enemies as less than human, you become like them. You become what you hate. Tom Kratman has explained that your enemy will learn from you. If you do [some horrible thing], he will likewise do it to you, sooner or later. If you must fight, then fight. Sell your cloak and buy a sword. But never forget that your enemies are human, too. They are children of God, also. He may be your enemy, but after you have defeated him, it is well and good to pray for his soul, for his redemption from whatever evil was afflicting him. Consider, also, the possibility that you have been touched by evil too.
Trump has many flaws, far too many for a quick blog post. But his willingness to name his enemies and to fight them on the political stage is not one of them. That is a virtue. And David French’s virtue signalling about his moral superiority is, in fact, a vice. Christ tells us not to trumpet our works before us. Those who do good have their own reward. Virtue signalling is not required. God already knows your heart on these matters, and the opinions of the mob don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
In this respect, at least, it is possible Trump actually is more Christian than David French, at least. Not, in my opinion, that this is saying overmuch, or is even particularly relevant to politics as a whole.
Francis posted a series of links yesterday (give it at least a quick glance – the titles alone will give you the gist) and suggested that they were thematically unified. This theme is apparent to anyone with eyes to see, yet when I’ve challenged Leftists on events like these in the past, they always have a rationale for why what we all see is not true.
When Donald Trump exclaimed that his choice of fast food for the Clemson team was good American food, Paul Krugman replied with a snarky tweet saying that Burger King was owned by a Brazilian company. This received thousands of likes and retweets from Leftists who, presumably, felt that Krugman had just demonstrated how stupid Trump was.
Yet, Burger King is American food. There is nothing more American than the hamburger, especially in fast food form. When you track the ownership, Burger King’s parent company RGI is 51% owned by 3G Capital, an international investment company with two headquarters, one in Brazil, and the other in New York. Krugman thinks this somehow alters the character of the food. So, since this investment company operates partly out of Brazil, does Paul Krugman think Burger King counts as Brazilian food, then? Clearly not. It’s a lie designed to score points.
The rationalization of Krugman’s statement is a way to deny the fundamental truth. Leftists are experts at this tactic. They deny the fundamental characteristics of a thing, and embrace the ephemeral in an effort to bend political realities their way.
Trump was right, Krugman was being a pathetic stooge. A 3 year old could detect the difference.
Getting back to the list Francis provided for us, each is part of a greater whole: a sort of declaration “actually, what you see and hear isn’t true, you should believe what we say instead” espoused by the Left.
The home invader is an “unwanted house visitor.” Give me a break. This redefinition has to stop. It continues because we permit it to continue. “We” being people on the Right, often enough. We assume good motives, because we ourselves possess them, often enough. This is a mistake. The other day, I spoke of an example wherein a Leftist tried to equate the probability of political violence to that of a meteor that causes a mass extinction event.
This isn’t just being slippery with your definitions, it is being brazenly dishonest, or more charitably, incredibly idiotic.
Burger King Hamburgers aren’t American, Krugman claims, because Burger King is, through a couple levels of corporate layering, partly owned by a company that’s half-based out of another country? Lolwut?
You can’t make this stuff up.
Francis’s list encompasses some of the more ridiculous examples of this behavior, but understand this: Leftists are constantly doing this. Many times they are being more obtuse and less obvious about it. Still, it’s going on.
Michael Crichton’s Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect operates similarly. Pick a subject you are expert in (it could be anything), that you know from head-to-toe. Read news articles and watch television broadcasts about this subject. Note how utterly wrong and off-base the media is. Yet, knowing this, many still believe the media when they bloviate about something else.
A similar effect exists for this Leftist propensity of redefining things to suit their argument. And yet, the next time you encounter one, you treat him as if he’s sincere? Bad idea, folks.
I’m thinking maybe we could name this the Ocasio-Cortez Amnesia Effect. Same concept. Different group of dishonest Leftists.
If you debate Leftists, carefully examine their premises. Look at their definitions, what they consider to be the essence of a thing. Odds are, you’re going to find some redefinition going on. Once, a Leftist tried to tell me that the Confederacy was just as bad as the Third Reich, because both tried to genocide an entire race. This was news to me. Don’t sign me up for the Confederate race relations fan club, certainly. Yet they did not genocide blacks. Our intrepid Leftist began a long string of legal rambling, starting with some UN boilerplate, to suggest that genocide and slavery are really the same things.
Like Krugman, he was saying that Burger King is really a Brazilian restaurant.
This concept ties into Artificial Intelligence efforts, which have yet to deal with a very specific problem. Software may be written that is very dynamic, that can learn. You can show the software, for instance, 5,000 pictures of deciduous trees, and eventually it learns (to a reasonable level of accuracy) that which is probably a tree. But then you show it a coniferous tree, and it will not recognize it as also being a tree. Now you must show thousands of additional pictures, and tell it these are all trees. Yet, show a toddler who can barely talk a picture of one tree, and he can usually make the intellectual leap. He grasps quickly the essence of what tree is.
The AI lacks the ability to extrapolate the essence of a thing. It’s a serious challenge in software development. Leftists pretend to lack this ability in order to score points. They want you to show them 5,000 Burger King hamburgers before admitting that this is fundamentally an American food. So I am withdrawing even the charity of suggesting they are stupid. They aren’t. Toddlers can do this, and they can’t? Give me a break. They know full well what they are doing. They are pretending to the stupidity if called out on their lies.
Remember the Ocasio-Cortez Amnesia Effect. Really, I should have called it the Paul Krugman Burger Effect, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? Anyway, she does it too. They all do it.
Some time ago, Tom Kratman explained to me that pacifism is, at its core, a form of moral cowardice. The reasons for this are many and varied, but we can summarize it by considering that, were the pacifist to see a gang banger beating the crap out of an innocent old lady, the pacifist would consider intervening to be an injustice. After all, the pacifist would say, being violent in turn only brings us down to the gang banger’s level. In the mind of a pacifist, both the gang banger and the defender of old ladies are equally evil, for both resort to violence.
Leftism is full of moral paradoxes like this. I have, of late, taken to calling the phenomenon a form of brain lock. Leftism resembles, in part, a form of philosophy sometimes called moralistic therapeutic deism. It fits in neatly with this “I’m spiritual, not religious” nonsense espoused by a number of indecisive morons. I’ve seen this phenomenon called “post-Christian”, or a number of other similar terms. It is assuredly post-modern, for it has no obvious antecedents in our recent history. Whatever we call it, it is the dominant belief system in the Western world, even with many who consider themselves to be Christians.
In essence, it is a dumbing down of Christian morality combined with a form of pseudo-scientific Marxist absolutism. The pacifist will say that all violence is bad, but in his absolute devotion to this overly-simplistic principle, actually prevents himself from doing anything to stop the very violence he theoretically decries.
Good, the MTD adherent will say, is being nice. It is the Golden Rule, or something very much like it. So the adherent will countenance importing many not-nice individuals, in the name of being nice. Consider how Angela Merkel and her enablers like to guilt Germans about the atrocities of their anti-Semitic Nazi past, and use this guilt to import hordes of anti-Semites.
This is the kind of contradiction that infects adherents of this overly-simplistic worldview. Equality is their god, because equality is nice. If you have more, you should give it up until you don’t. Elon Musk shouldn’t shoot cars into space until Flint’s water supply is fixed. It is an inversion of Game Theory. The more your opponent punches up betray, the more you keep the faith. If Muslims blow your buildings up, write sympathetic pieces about the religion of peace, give them tons of money, and yell at folks who are skeptical of the religion.
In the pursuit of absolute justice, they propagate injustice. If a man cures cancer, should he be allowed to keep the millions that would surely flow to him? Or should he have to give it all away because of equality? Surely the unemployed crack addict should have the same standard of living, right?
This form of morality is both absolute and simple, and it does not work at its stated goals. Want more terrorism? Do this. Want more crime? Want more people to be on welfare? Do this. Want more violence, war, and hatred? This, this, and more this. Pacifism leads to more violence, not peace. Welfare leads to more layabouts, not more productive people. If you genuinely dislike violence, you must be prepared to do violence to those who violate the peace. If you value productivity, you must allow poverty to be uncomfortable.
The world does not conform to the MTD view. Being nice doesn’t make people be nice to you in turn. The Golden Rule contains an implicit condition: at some point, the rule should be reciprocated. You don’t apply the rule to a known genocidal maniac. In Game Theory terms, the Golden Rule means that, in the first round of the game, you select keep faith hoping that the other player will see the value in selecting likewise. If he fails to do so, and betrays instead, betray him in the second round since he cannot be trusted. Perhaps the betrayal will convince him that you are not a sucker, and he will learn to keep faith. Or maybe he’ll just keep hitting betray, and you will at least have avoided being a complete gullible moron.
Leftists can’t do this. They recoil from the necessary duty of being not-nice, of employing violence on the violent, of quid pro quo economics. They can’t see past this and encounter a form of brain lock in which they cannot comprehend how being not-nice in this moment could lead to a nicer society down the road. They cannot understand how violence can make the peace.
Or, if they do understand, they are merely too cowardly to carry out their duties as such. Perhaps for some, this is all post-event rationalization for why they did not intervene to save the old lady from the gang banger. “I am too good, too moral to fight,” says the pacifist, “someone else should do it for me.” Whether that someone else is a Rightist they loathe – but secretly need to keep from being turned into a bloody pulp – or a god they don’t really believe in (but hey, they are spiritual, not religious) doesn’t matter.
In fact, the distant not-really-extant god that they crawl to only in dire need is a great example of this. Fuck you, you don’t exist, says the adherent to God. He’ll drop a cross in a jar of piss, call Christians retarded and make fun of their stupid sky wizard. The next day when he loses his job and gets dumped by his gender-confused housemate he’ll expect the universe – or his god-like spirit – to intervene on his behalf and fix all his shit. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll crawl to the government, hat in hand, and expect the money cribbed from the rest of us to put humpty-dumpty back together again.
And if you don’t, you’re not nice, you big meanie. Now obey or I will apply social peer pressure to you!
The insidious side of this belief system is that it only works if the non-believers cave in to it, in sufficient numbers. That is the problem we have here. Go talk to a liberal on social media and try this experiment. Say something morally complex, like the first boat of
refugees invaders to Europe should have been sunk, and that doing so would have actually prevented the loss of life the ensuing mass migration incurred. Or, if that is too spicy for your taste, merely state that illegal immigrants should be deported back to their birth countries.
Immediate brain lock will occur. You are a big meanie. You are evil. You are immoral and inferior to the Leftist, who is, of course, nicer than you! You can extol the virtues of self-defense, and a fair number of them will dispute the morality of even that much. You should run away, you should not stand your ground, for how could you be so mean to the violent criminal?
There is no breaking through the brain lock. The notion that good does not mean nice is foreign to them. They are sheep thinking sheepdogs and wolves are the same, because both have sharp teeth.
Once a Leftist has brain locked, the only possible expression is fury. How dare you question orthodoxy, infidel! This is why moralistic therapeutic deism may be a good description for the phenomenon, because despite often atheistic pretensions and its Marxist genealogy, it acts like a religion. It is merely that the religion is not well developed and is extremely over-simplistic.
Christianity spent many centuries arguing about its tenets. The nature of Christ, the Trinity, things like just war theory and just what was meant by the commandments… these were all theological debates (some of which went much further than that) that occurred in Christianity’s long history. Christianity largely solved the moral dilemmas and contradictions throughout the ages. And it did so through rigorous debate and practical application. It wasn’t always pretty, either, as Leftists often harp on.
Point is, though, it was done. And in so doing, answers to moral problems were arrived at, and a history was forged with guidelines for how to handle certain moral issues. MTD has none of this long history or debate. Its principles are simple and absolute. They lack even the forgiveness mechanism Christianity provides for those (all of us at some point or another) who fail to live up to its tenets. For them, guilt is eternal. Guilt lasts even past death – this is how white Americans can be held responsible for slavery long after all slavers and all slaves are dead. The guilt is never excised. Forgiveness is never granted.
Lacking such mechanisms for exploring the answers to complex moral problems, and lacking even the ability to forgive those who fail, MTD is, in fact, the opposite of nice.
It is an evil belief system in the same way pacifism is a cowardly belief system. And the reason for this is that the system allows and even encourages evil to flourish in the same way pacifism encourages violence. The fact that its adherents are unable or unwilling to see this is tragic. It doesn’t change the outcome one whit.
It is also prone to ever-greater heights of extremism. Vegans are often telling us that eating animals is violence against animals, and in turn, since niceness is the only virtue, we are evil for being omnivores. PETA once went so far as to cheer when a shark bit the leg of a little boy (IIRC, he lost the leg), because the boy and his father had been fishing, so the boy clearly deserved it for practicing violence against the fish.
They saw cheering as virtuous in the same manner as a Leftist celebrating that his country’s culture and history will be flushed down the toilet by waves of migration – much of it illegal and little of it assimilated – that dwarfs most migrations in human history. There is no higher cause, no greater positive sacrifice in the mind of the Leftist than cultural self-destruction.
And yet, having determined that all that is Western, or white, or male, or Christian – whatever – is evil and must be destroyed, they do not make the final rational leap: they are (usually) white themselves. Brought up in the West. At least vaguely post-Christian. Some are even kinda-sorta male. Shouldn’t they kill themselves, too? You know, set an example and all that.
No, of course not, says the coward. That’s for someone else to do. They are the anointed elites, you see.
They ain’t got time to save the old grannies. They are better than all that. It is a much better use of their time to rant about how an old Christmas song is sexist, or something.
At the core of a great many political disputes – and in some cases, outright wars, genocides, etc… – is disagreement about the mutability of human nature. How much of who were is baked in via our genes and instincts, how much is environmental (what we eat, what happens around us, etc…), and how much is directly tied to nurture and conscious teaching (parents, teachers, etc…)?
I’ve long argued that all of the above is the correct answer, albeit in unknown and varied percentages. I am extremely skeptical of anyone who claims he definitively knows the percentages, or knows that one alone is responsible. If you look at extreme political movements, you will note one commonality among most (perhaps all) of them: they pick one of the three types and run with it to the exclusion of the others, to obtain some kind of imagined perfect end state. For instance, the Nazis were racial purists. In effect, they argued that it was all in the genes. They then set about trying to eliminate what they viewed as incorrect genes, inferior races, etc… They didn’t attempt to change the environment of the people they didn’t like, nor did they attempt to teach or reason with the people they didn’t like. Thus they clearly believed that all of importance was contained within racial characteristics. We all know where that madness leads.
Marxists generally believe that mankind is fully, consciously, mutable. In other words, that nurture and conscious teaching overrides all else, and it is possible to teach man to be perfect, in contradiction to his fallen nature. Therefore, Marxists persist in a vision of political perfection, or as we refer to it today, political correctness. A certain perfect end state is imagined, and like the Nazis, they are fully willing to kill those who do not conform to their vision. If anything, they are more determined to do this, because the existence of those who cannot be taught to be Socialists contradicts their assertion that mankind is perfectible, that human nature can be altered according to their whims. This madness, though different in its root causes, leads to more or less the same destination as Nazism: a mountain of murdered people.
That Marxism isn’t treated with the same cultural loathing as Nazism is, in my opinion, one of the greatest tragedies of our age.
The Marxist denies that genes have anything to do with anything, really, and will be extremely offended if you even posit the possibility. I like to use the basketball player example. Height is an advantage in basketball. Certain ethnicities are taller, on average, than others. That’s the way it is. If someone takes this fact off the table, he is left with the sense that discrimination, favoritism, or exploitation would have to explain the difference in representation when, in fact, no discrimination is necessary (though it is possible) to produce the observed disparity.
Nor does the Marxist worry overmuch about environmental (in the sense referenced in the beginning of this post) concerns. He may, on occasion, assert that criminality is due to poverty, for instance. But it is almost always used as a bludgeon to get one of his redistribution schemes going, and that involves teaching everybody about the wonders of Socialism, which is his real goal. If environmental concerns enter the awareness of a Marxist, they are always subservient to his notions that man can be perfected through conscious guidance. Because if, say, more wealth and better nutrition would work to help folks out, he’d have to convert to Capitalism.
It all goes back to an absurd arrogance on the part of people who a) believe that mankind can be made perfect (through any means) and b) think they know just the method to do it. Imagine the narcissism necessary to believe any of that, to think that you know exactly how the souls and attitudes of men are formed; to think that you can control this precisely to achieve your desired result. And most arrogant of all, that you know mankind’s objectively perfect end state. It’s madness to believe any of that.
Mankind is imperfect. Mankind will always be imperfect, short of divine intervention or man becoming something else entirely. We don’t know how men are shaped with any degree of precision. All we have are some identified means that contribute in some fashion, to some unknown degree. We don’t even know if we have identified all of the methods. But these cretins think they have all the answers? Fools! Madmen, all of them.
And that last little bit is circumstantial evidence that mankind is always going to be fucked up. At least until God decides he’s had enough, I suppose.
Today, I wish to discuss something that’s been on my mind off and on for a very long time. Pardon me if I stumble around it, for sometimes it is difficult to put a concept into words. I’ve discussed it on The Declination on more than one occasion, though perhaps clumsily. Nonetheless, I suspect it will be of vital importance in the days to come.
Leftists often compare Rightists to Nazis. It’s beyond cliche, these days. It is tiresome and it hinges on the most flimsy of rationalizations. Yet it begs the question: how do you know if you are becoming a tyrant? How do you know if your ideology has slid into evil?
Surely, even Nazis were once children, cared for and loved by someone. No doubt their parents had hopes for at least some of them. Dreams for them. As Tolkien explained for us in The Lord of the Rings, nothing is evil in the beginning. Not even Sauron himself. So how did they become evil? What led them there?
If you analyze tyrannical ideologies and the sort of mass mob insanity behind them, you will see a common thread: purity. Nazis obsessed over purity of race. Stalinists obsessed over purity of political beliefs. Jihadists obsess over purity of religious belief. But purity is always there. And purity can twist good into evil, or render a lesser evil into a far greater evil.
What is purity? The dictionary tells us that it is “freedom from adulteration or contamination.” For our purposes, we may use the synonym ‘perfection’ with some utility. The point of purity is to identify impurities and eradicate them. The Nazi will eradicate the racially impure, the Communist will eradicate the impure Capitalists, and so on.
The utility of quests for purity to a tyrant should be obvious. For what is more impure than man? A quest for purity is carte blanche for never ending power over others. Progressivism itself admits this even in the content of its own name. Progress toward what? Purity. Progress toward the perfect society, in which poverty, disease, war, and a thousand other such ills have been eradicated.
Never will you hear the Progressive say “this is good enough, we can stop now.” For them, there is always a new impurity to eradicate. The movement is like the terminator of movie fame:
Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Social Justice is like the terminator in other ways, too. It cloaks itself as one of us. It wears the skin of our institutions in an effort to disguise itself. But always, its mission is to eradicate us. We are the impure. We cannot be permitted to exist.
And when a round of impure are disposed of, new impure are found. Today, it is Rightists. Tomorrow, Centrists. The day after that, Trotskyite Leftists. The terminator never stops. Ever-greater demands of purity are made. Like the Third Reich, the gas chambers never stop. The ash falls from the skies, forever. At least until someone puts a stop to it all at gunpoint.
Purity spirals work so well because fault can always be found with man. Every single human being in the history of our species, save one, has done wrong; has sinned. We all deserve death. That is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. It is also true even if you are the most ardent of atheists. Man is imperfect. And so it will ever be.
Yet, is it the SJW’s responsibility to act as the judge, jury, and executioner? Shall the Nazi do it? Shall the Stalinist? The Jihadist? Not only is there no one among us who could ever make demands of purity upon us, these cretins are the worst of the worst, the most evil among us. And it is they who always lead the charge to purity. The nuts are running the nuthouse.
Rationalizations always exist for why we are bad people. Why we should be punished, why we should give up everything, why we shouldn’t even exist. ALWAYS. Here we are, in America, the most prosperous nation to have ever existed in the history of our species. This is a place where starvation is virtually unknown. Where even the poorest among us possess wonders. And yet our debate constantly shifts toward America as an unjust nation that loves reducing its citizens to poverty, as if we were like Somalia or Haiti. Similar arguments are made for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc…
There are some poor people in America (though they do better here than in most places), thus we are impure. And in the minds of the purity-seekers, this means there is no fundamental difference between us and Haiti. Disagree? You want to push granny off a cliff, you Nazi! Ironic, I think, that the Left names us the Nazis when the modern purity-seekers are almost invariably Leftists.
Purity spirals are how evil manifests itself in its most concentrated human form. It is where humans go collectively insane, where they can rationalize the most hateful and destructive things. When the SJW says that you are a racist for X, he is almost always saying you are impure. They even police their own, thusly. They are always on the lookout for manifestations of impurity even among their own. They are political cannibals, as purists necessarily must be.
Had the Third Reich been permitted to continue, it would have invariably turned its genocidal hatred upon its own, sooner or later. Indeed, we saw signs of this even during its short life. Just as the Soviet Communists ate their own, and the Maoists, and the Jihadists killing other Muslims… this is always how it goes.
The terrifying aspect of it is that before purity-seekers consume themselves in an orgy of hatred and death, they bring us down with them. At least, if they are not stopped first.
That’s what our conflict is all about, underneath it all. Purity, and those who use purity as an excuse for tyranny. Far from being the good guys, they are the most evil among us (though we all have at least some evil in us). Far from being those who will usher in an age of peace, love, and tolerance, they are those who will usher in an age of death, war, hatred, and intolerance.
It is always this way with them. When they call you a Nazi, remember that though they have little or no political connection with them, their underlying drive for purity means that, of all modern political ideologies, they (and perhaps the Jihadists) most closely resemble the behavior patterns of Nazis. For all of them are, like the Nazis and Stalinists before them, seekers of power through purity spirals.
Here’s a bit of heresy: ban nothing. Did that raise the hair on your back? Did it strike a chord? Did you find yourself thinking “but Thales, that can’t possibly work!”
One of the more bizarre news items of the day relates to a continuing fetish of American municipal governments for banning plastic straws. Now, a liberal acquaintance of mine assured me that he was not inconvenienced by the use of biodegradable paper and wax straws, and plastic straws do have various environmental consequences. In this, my liberal acquaintance is entirely correct. Yet I still disagree vociferously with these straw bans.
To illustrate why, let us go back to the days of Prohibition. Take a gander at these propaganda posters from the period:
Alcohol had then, and still possesses, a number of terrible consequences for overuse. We have drunk drivers, alcoholics, violent drunks, and to say nothing of the things I see DJing the clubs. Yet Prohibition failed and was repealed. Why?
The usual argument is that banning doesn’t work because people will get what they want regardless. There will be speakeasies and bootleggers, organized crime and street thugs. That’s partially correct. But let’s be frank. None of those things will be a problem for banning plastic straws. Certainly, I don’t see organized crime selling crates of plastic straws out of the backs of sketchy minivans. So what’s the real issue?
Freedom of choice.
If the harm of alcohol was eventually outweighed by freedom of choice, then how can we justify banning plastic straws? Many of the same Leftists arguing for banning straws are, in turn, proponents of the legalization of marijuana. Any substance, device, or creation of mankind will have costs, that is to say negative effects. This applies to every single thing man creates. Automobiles have negative effects. Cubicles have negative effects. Medicines have side effects, or can lead to addictions. Those ugly, tacky garden gnomes have negative effects (the sight of them used to drive my dog into a rage for reasons that are clear only to him).
The trick of the Left is to focus on those negative things in an arbitrary fashion. For the things they like, they speak only of the positives. Weed will save lives, reduce pain, relax people. For things they dislike, they speak only of the negatives. Straws will hurt turtles, and won’t degrade for decades. Animals might ingest them. Ban straws. Legalize weed. Ban guns. Legalize gay marriage. There is no principle here, no overriding guidance they are following, only arbitrary emotions. These are the whims of a mob. If 50% + 1 don’t like something that you like, ban it!
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the mob is not necessarily consistent. 50% + 1 may be found to ban anything and everything, because a person may like ban A, but be against ban B.
Most Leftists are essentially reacting emotionally, not rationally. However, some attempt to rationalize it by amount of harm. They attempt to weigh all of the consequences and all of the benefits, and say that if the balance is more toward harm than good, we should ban it. This presumes that all the consequences and benefits are known (or a sufficient number of them to make a reliable decision). This tries to masquerade as principle.
A common example is when they argue that guns don’t have sufficient benefit to outweigh the harm, but automobiles do. So even though automobiles kill more than guns, we should ban the guns, but keep the automobiles (some other Leftists want to ban both, there’s ban A and ban B for you, again). However, what is accepted as a benefit is not consistent between proponents and opponents of the bans. For instance, a Rightist is likely to include incidents where a thug was discouraged from attack merely by the brandishing of a firearm (such events are common), whereas the Leftist generally only wants to include incidents of a bad guy with a gun, stopped by a good guy with a gun, where the good guy is not employed by the government (far less common).
Furthermore, the Leftist generally tries to include suicides, even though many other alternate (and just as easy) suicide methods exist. Japan has a higher suicide rate than the US, despite a robust gun ban. The Left artificially reduces the perceived benefit, and magnifies the perceived harm by some subtle manipulation with regards to which statistics are accepted, and which are dismissed.
This leads us right back to the lack of principle. What the Left doesn’t like must be banned. They are quite casual with bans, too. They’ll ban guns and plastic straws, both. I heard a tale once of a town in Texas which banned inflatable gorillas. While I’m sure there is an amusing story behind the ban, it illustrates that nothing is beyond the reach of the ban hammer.
This morning, a local community page was full of demands to ban fireworks on behalf of pets, veterans with PTSD, and idiots who hurt themselves doing dumb things with fireworks. The chief proponent of the ban rattled off statistics not unlike what you see in the Prohibition propaganda. 12,000 people annually are hurt by fireworks, she said, and we can’t even count the harm to pets and veterans. They should be replaced with laser light shows, she demanded.
Once you get into debating the pros and cons of a ban, you have already implicitly conceded that bans are justified given a certain harm/benefit ratio. At that point, you are now vulnerable to the manipulation and spin of said data, which is commonplace. It’s an endless rabbit hole, and debates like that spiral into infinity. We’re all caught over the event horizon of a singularity of stupid.
So I’ll repeat the heresy: ban nothing.
An opponent of this statement may attempt to bring extreme circumstances to bear. “Oh, you mean you wouldn’t ban crime? Murder? Theft? Rape?” Each of those things is a violation on the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and property. Those are the consistent principles. So what about extreme drugs like cocaine, heroin, etc… Well, never mind the notion that banning these things has objectively failed anyway, regardless of how much I might loathe them. In my heart, would I like to ban them? Sure. Do I think it’s practical to do so? No. Every attempt has failed utterly. And that circles right back to the original point. Just because I loathe something doesn’t mean it should banned. This is a truth the Left has utterly failed to grasp. To them, dislike is coextensive with “get rid of it, get it out of my sight.” It’s the mantra of tyrants.
In any event, the principle of banning nothing need not necessarily be adhered to 100%. It’s probably impractical, just as my support for limited government does not necessarily imply that I think no government whatsoever can work practically (however much I’d like that). We might say we want to get as close to that principle as is possible and practical. Certainly we do not violate the principle for something as trivial as drinking straws. If you’re going to disobey the rule, you better have a damned clear, concise, and dare I say obvious reason for doing it. And even then, be exceedingly cautious.
Ah, but am I being arbitrary, even with that small concession? Maybe. I’d at least admit that I am, instead of trying to spin the argument otherwise. However, even those things I find incredibly distasteful, I would still not ban. The principle overrules my desires in all but the most extreme of cases – and possibly not even then, if the concerns of practicality can be addressed.
Don’t get caught in circular arguments about the harm and benefits of each thing the Left desires to ban. Instead, respond to the ban demand with some heresy. Tell them you want to ban nothing, and watch their heads explode with anger. For you have just dismissed the core of their entire worldview: that their subjective like or dislike of a thing should be taken seriously and given real weight.