Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Era Of The Otherer

You think what’s already happened in Ferguson Missouri is deplorable? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

But I have a larger point this morning – and don’t bother to tell me I’m “fanning the flames” or some such rot:

    An Ohio school was placed on lockdown Wednesday after a man with a “heavy accent” phoned the school and threatened to murder children with an AK-47 due to the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to local police.
    All schools in Pickerington, Ohio, were placed on lockdown after an unknown man made a threatening call to the Pickerington North High School, Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.
    The man, who claimed to have an AK-47, said he planned to launch an attack on the school and kill students over his apparent anger at the Middle East conflict, Phalen said.
    “The school received a call [at around 11:15 a.m.] from a male with a heavy accent and he indicated that he was going to attack Pickerington North due to attacks on Israel and was going to kill the kids and that he had an AK-47 gun,” Phalen recounted.
    “He identified himself as ‘Mohammed Shehad,’” or something similar to that, and claimed to live in the area, Phalen said, explaining that those who fielded the call were unsure precisely what last name the man provided.

[From this story.]

CHICAGO–As it has year after year, Fox News Channel served as a major sponsor of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association (NLGJA), providing a $10,000 grant for its 2014 annual convention, which recently concluded here (August 21-24). The conservative-leaning network also recruited at the homosexual journalists event.

Fox signed on as a “Feature Sponsor” for the convention–which included several one-sided presentations in favor of homosexual and transgender activist goals, and zero speakers advocating against LGBT goals such as the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” I attended a day and a half of the three-day conference, which was held at the swank Palmer House Hilton hotel in the downtown Loop. As in the past, NLGJA organizers allowed me (a critic, and not a homosexual journalist) to attend, but only after paying a “non-member” registration fee ($330/day).

Other media and corporate sponsors of the event included: CNN; CBS; ESPN; Comcast-NBC; Bloomberg; Gannett; Coca-Cola (the largest sponsor at $25,000); JetBlue airlines; Eli Lilly & Co.; Toyota; Nissan and the homosexual lobby organization Human Rights Campaign.

[From this story.]

    Porthos: You know, it strikes me that we would be better employed wringing Milady's pretty neck than shooting these poor devils of Protestants. I mean, what are we killing them for? Because they sing psalms in French and we sing them in Latin?
    Aramis: Porthos, have you no education? What do you think religious wars are all about?

[George MacDonald Frasier’s script for Richard Lester’s The Four Musketeers]

[I give the feminist otherers one in the eye often enough already. But let’s not forget them, by any means.]

    YANG and YIN: Male and female. Hot and cold. Mass and energy. Smooth and crunchy. Odd and even. Sun and moon. Silence and noise. Space and time. Slave and master. Fast and slow. Large and small. Land and sea. Good and evil. On and off. Black and white. Strong and weak. Regular and filter king. Young and old. Light and shade. Fire and ice. Sickness and health. Hard and soft. Life and death.
    If there is a plot, shouldn't you know about it?

[George Alec Effinger, “All The Last Wars At Once”]


Technologically, this is the Information Era. Politico-economically, it’s the Era of Social Fascism. Sociopolitically, it’s the Era of the Otherer.

That, unlike most of my similar sins, is not a misspelling.

The road to power has always been paved with corpses and mortared with blood. Every power-seeker knows this; Hitler and Stalin were merely more candid about it than most of their ilk. But there’s this problem, you see. It’s not a little one by any means. Every power-seeker faces it. You have to know whom to train your guns on.

The connection between violence and sex comes into play here, too:

    'Haven't you gotten it through your head yet that the whole "pariah" notion is this tyranny's scapegoat mechanism that every tyranny requires?'
    'Yes, but—'
    'Shut up. Take sex away from people. Make it forbidden, evil, limit it to ritualistic breeding. Force it to back up into suppressed sadism. Then hand the people a scapegoat to hate. Let them kill a scapegoat occasionally for cathartic, release. The mechanism is ages old. Tyrants used it centuries before the word "psychology" was ever invented. It works, too.'

[Robert A. Heinlein, If This Goes On]

[It’s not because of religion, despite Heinlein’s focus in his famous novella, but because sex carries intimations of power – of conquest and conqueror – that can be put to use in sociopolitical combat. As Brian Cates notes here, if sex weren’t such a powerful force, there wouldn’t be so many explicitly political groups straining to capture it for their exclusive purposes!]

So the determined power-seeker must create an Us versus Them situation, so that his loyalists can work out with their own tiny brains at whom to aim. But this can be very difficult in a society that, for quite a long time, has promoted ideals of civility and harmony among persons who nevertheless vary widely. For example, explicitly blaming “the Jews” for your troubles, as Hitler did, can’t be made to work here, because it’s perfectly obvious that America’s Jews are agreeable neighbors and integral, valued components of its society. You’ll evoke far more enemies than you will supporters. Worse, your enemies will be far better motivated than your allegiants.

Recent developments in Public Choice economics have cast a better light upon the power-seeker’s dilemma. What he wants is to produce a situation in which his allegiants are far better motivated than persons outside their ranks. Moreover, it’s vital that he contrive to tie his contentions to some widely agreed-upon civic value, even if the binding is easily shown to be specious.

The solution is “obvious,” isn’t it? The power-seeker must “other” his own group: preferably as “oppressed” or “discriminated against.” He must persuade his followers to see themselves as victims, whatever the truth of the matter. He must animate them with the most powerful of all emotions yoked to political conflict: hatred and fear.

With that, the full power of the special-interest dynamic becomes his to wield.


Just now, it’s hard to name an identifiable group active in politics that hasn’t “othered” itself. Even the pro-abortion and environmental loonies have tried it: the former by focusing obsessively on George Tiller and the tiny number of physical assaults on abortion clinics some years ago; the latter by claiming to have been targeted for eradication by “Big Business” (sometimes charmingly renamed “the forces of greed”). There’s a certain logic to it: a successful tactic will inevitably be emulated by persons with an adequately similar agenda. But this has its own consequences.

“Othering” cannot be kept from fracturing the interest groups into ever smaller bits. Within any group focused on gaining political power or privileges, there will be factions that will jockey against one another for dominance. The smaller and less dominant factions will feel a powerful temptation to “other” themselves independently from the rest, just as the NAMBLA types and the transsexuals have separated themselves from the larger homosexual movement.

The terminus of the process is as “obvious” as the process itself. Once everyone is an “other,” no one is. More, the relentless “othering” wears cumulatively on the national psyche. As it devolves ever further, we learn to tune it out, to dismiss the contentions of the “otherers,” and to return our focus to our proper affairs. That’s a disaster in the making for persons whose drive is power, who naturally shift a part of their attention to struggling for internal cohesion and against the fractionation dynamic that threatens their positions.

Unfortunately, the intermediate stage of this evolution can be very unpleasant, even bloody. And it’s upon us today.

More anon.

2 comments:

  1. “He identified himself as ‘Mohammed Shehad,’” or something similar to that."

    “My sense is that due to the way he identified himself it sounds like he was upset at Israel.”

    Or, he simply may be a fan of the movie, "Team America: World Police."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OwFeYlY9GU

    ReplyDelete

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