The graphic above was recently posted onto Twitter, billed as a hierarchy for argumentation that would allow us to learn how better to constructively and rationally disagree with each other so as to arrive at a common understanding. Certainly, most all of us can agree that rational disagreement and common understanding are better than sullen or violent disagreement leading to strife at every level from the personal to the international. This is especially the case for our modern Western nations where we see public discourse increasingly riven with a seemingly impassable gulf between two broad ideological groups. Can’t we all just learn to get along?
It’s certainly wonderful to think that “all we need to do is find ways to constructively disagree with each other,” and think that this would solve most, if not all, of our problems. But there’s a tremendous difficulty with applying this to the modern ideological divide between Right and Left, the “reactionary” (true or otherwise) and the progressive. The difficulties lie in that this line of thinking implies that there are two sides which actually want rational discussion and a settling of differences rationally. Yet, there are not.
Many readers have probably observed something odd (but not entirely unexpected) about two recent high profile cases where the Left tried to game the narrative, it blew up in their faces, and there now seems to be the possibility that the bad actors in question might possibly face real consequences for their actions. These are the Jussie Smollett fake hate crime and the Covington kids fake racism hoaxes. In the one, Smollett is now facing felony charges (including, possibly, federal charges). In the other, several of those who libeled the Covington Kids, such as Nathan Phillips and the Washington Post, face hefty lawsuits.
One thing many have probably noticed, as well, is how absolutely freaked out many progressives have been because of this. It seems odd to us that they would be disturbed by people receiving the just reward for their bad behaviour. This is because we on the broad Right naturally tend to assume that if someone does something bad, they’ll eventually have to face the music. That’s the way the Right’s sense of justice assumes it should work.
Yet, anyone who pays attention knows that this is nearly always NOT how it works. How many left-wing hate crime hoaxes have gone unpunished? How many times have lefties gotten to destroy someone’s life or reputation with no repercussions? The Left is allowed to behave horribly with basically no accountability. Why is this?
[Editor’s note: This post is the first entry by the Times’ newest contributor and friend of the blog Halifax Shadow! I’m sure that all of our readers will join me in welcoming him aboard!]
“Why are the cattle on a common so puny and stunted? Why is the common itself so bare-worn, and cropped so differently from the adjoining enclosures?” – William Lloyd Forster, in 1832
I’m sure that most readers are familiar with the “tragedy of the commons.” This concept is a simple one that describes a situation in which a resource that is to be used for profit and is un-owned tends to be overused, potentially to a breaking point. Furthermore, the resource will be under-invested, as any improvements made to it will provide returns for the common good and not for the specific individual(s) making the investment.
As an example of this, we’ve recently heard serious allegations regarding the complicity of Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the Sackler family in aggressively pushing opioid prescriptions – up to and including knowingly encouraging doctors and pharmacies who were moving irregular amounts of the product (likely to addicted people) to move even more. This opioid epidemic – which claimed 130 American lives per day in 2017 – is the greatest drug crisis America has ever seen.
For the past few years, we have been seeing a tremendous increase in a phenomenon which I refer to as “social prosecution.” This has taken place as the Left finds itself in a position of increasing power over the culture and the means of cultural discourse (e.g. social media, flow of information on the internet, etc.). Yet, the Left has not been able to establish more than a relative parity with the nominal Right in the formal political arena. As a result, the Left has had to seek alternative means for punishing its enemies since they don’t have much ability to do so formally yet.
Before I proceed to the main discussion about social prosecution, I’d like to lay a little groundwork first. It’s often said that politics is downstream from culture. In other words, as trends, assumptions, mores, and whatnot within a society’s cultural milieu begin to change, these values will begin to be reflected in the political realm after a bit of lag time. However, an equally salient fact is that culture, in turn, is downstream from power – which is not to be confused with politics.
Power is the ability to shape or change your circumstances in a real way, one that is actually effective. As a result of the Left’s long march through the institutions, they have gained significant (and in some cases total) control over most areas of information control and influence – the academy, entertainment, social media, journalism, and much more. This allows them to alter the direction in which western cultures evolve, which then translates into political change on down the road. That is an exercise of real power, no matter how silly we may be tempted to think Clown World is. But, it’s necessarily a slow process.
Regular readers of this blog have probably observed that I am not a fan of democracy or democratic institutions at all. One of the points that I’ve made elsewhere is that democratic governments often are (and almost invariably end up being) more intrusive, overbearing, expansive, and tyrannical than do aristocratic monarchies and similar traditional forms of government.
Obviously, this seems counterintuitive to those who have been raised in modern democracies and who experienced the full brunt of democratic propagandising from society and the educational establishment. Democracy, as it is portrayed, is all sweetness and light, the last, best hope for mankind, while aristocrats and monarchs are at best weird and idiosyncratic, at worst they are genocidal evils.
So why do I feel comfortable making the arguments that I do, knowing that they will be so alien to the programming received by the vast majority of observers? It’s because history shows that the propaganda is just that – an ideologically motivated pretense that is not borne out by the facts nor by mankind’s long experience attempting to govern himself.
Practically everybody says they want good government. Aside from a few anarcho-[fill in the blank] types, most folks seek for effective government that provides stability and protection for the people. Yet, such a state of affairs is extremely rare in the world today. Why is that? What is it that we lack today that our ancestors had which gave them generally more stable and dependable government?
The answer, of course, is unitary government centered about the authority and legitimacy of monarchic rulers acting for their nations as whole units.
One of the greatest impediments to effective government, in any age, is the division of power into multiple, contradictory, and competing poles of influence. This is typically the result of democratisation, a process which has been accelerating since its inception (in its most recent incarnation) in the Enlightenment of the mid-18th century.
It’s not uncommon these days to hear left-leaning public figures declare that they want to “have an honest discussion about” some current day, hot-button issue. Usually, the topic of interest has to do with guns, race, or sexuality, since these seem to be the most emotionally-charged controversies we face in the Current Year. It’s likely an artifact of democratic mass mobilisation, but the language being used suggests that they’re trying to incite a nationwide dialogue, one in which we all can rationally achieve a mutual consensus, a General Will if you please, that will satisfy everyone and allow us to move on to other things.
Of course, most of us out here in flyover country jolly well know that when a progressive says this, the last thing xe or xhe actually wants is a truly and genuinely honest discussion about the issue. In fact, you can be guaranteed that what they really want is the exact opposite, and that they’re merely looking for an opportunity to bloviate through a series of propagandistic talking points. Having an authentically honest discussion about issues is not at all what progressives desire, which is shown by the fact that they have been assiduously seeking to shut down open discussion on every outlet on which they can get their grubby hands. By bringing up a hot-button issue, progressives are simply signalling to each other the next target for their army of “change agents,” rather than trying to perform the public service of providing for an open and informed citizenry.
Over the past few years, the censorship and control over the flow of information on the internet has been increasing at an accelerating rate. In many parts of the world (e.g. China and the Middle East), governments have stepped in and asserted control over some or all of the information which is made available to their people. In theory, at least, this is not an option for governments in most of Europe and the Anglosphere, due to their professed valuation of free speech. Within the modern first world, the right to freely express yourself, to bring your intellectual goods (such as they may be) to the “marketplace of ideas” is thought to be well-nigh sacrosanct by the man on the street. The United States even formally enshrines it in the Constitution via the First Amendment. The government suppressing the speech of one or a group of people which it finds offensive or unpleasant is simply against the rules!
But of course, if there’s one thing we know about people, it’s that they’re tremendously good at getting around rules they don’t like.
Many of us are familiar with the metaphor of the “cargo cult.” The term itself was coined by the famous physicist Richard Feynman (who, ironically, didn’t actually use the term the way he had described it) in a speech he gave about transparency and integrity in science. Briefly, the phenomenon of the cargo cult was observed in the South Pacific during World War II. Pacific Islanders would observe the Americans building runways and control towers, and soon after airplanes full of supplies would land and disgorge their contents of goodies. The islanders would build their own bamboo mockups – runways, towers, even bamboo headsets for the “controllers” – expecting that planes full of food and medicines would come to them as well. Of course, none ever did.
Ultimately, cargo cults rested on a form of magical thinking, on the failure to understand the fundamental reasons for why a phenomenon was taking place. This led to a miscomprehension about how one could obtained the desired benefits. It’s essentially a crude form of philosophical nominalism, where the form and appearance exist without grasping any of the underlying fundamental reality.
Politics in the United States have become an all-encompassing nightmare from which the average American cannot hope to escape. As American democracy (you know, the “freedom” form of government) expands the reach of the managerial state into every area of modern life, the stakes involved in the political process have mushroomed, with control over the lives of hundreds of millions of people hanging in the balance. It’s little surprise that each election season stretches out over a year, and (as Florida and Georgia recently showed us) doesn’t end once the voting is “officially” over.
It’s reached the point where literally everything is involved in some way with politics. Your choice of restaurant now signals your political inclinations, and thus who will harass you while eating there. Businesses themselves feel compelled to virtue signal, usually in a leftward direction, lest they bring upon themselves threats of boycott, bad publicity, or worse. It has escalated to the point where being the public face of the “wrong” side earns you harassment and menace to your physical health, as Tucker Carlson and several Republican members of Congress have found out. Expressing the “wrong” opinions in the workplace or online can get you reprimanded or fired.