Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tyranny At The Margins

     Once again, Mark Steyn has encapsulated what’s being done to us:

     If it were just terrorists bombing buildings and public transit, it would be easier; even the feeblest Eurowimp jurisdiction is obliged to act when the street is piled with corpses. But there's an old technique well understood by the smarter bullies. If you want to break a man, don't attack him head on, don't brutalize him; pain and torture can awaken a stubborn resistance in all but the weakest. But just make him slightly uncomfortable, disrupt his life at the margin, and he'll look for the easiest path to re-normalization. There are fellows rampaging through the streets because of some cartoons? Why, surely the most painless solution would be if we all agreed not to publish such cartoons. [From America Alone]

     Steyn was writing about the Islamic tactics being used to degrade and destroy freedom of expression in Europe and elsewhere. But his observation about “disrupting life at the margin” is valuable beyond that orbit. Consider it in application to the defense of freedom of speech, when the speech under attack is coming from a “Nazi:”

     Restricting “hate speech” by “Nazis” is not done because these beliefs have widespread support in the population, but because they have extremely little support. The numbers get inflated (to increase the perceived “risk”) by including “white supremacists” with “white supremacy” having a very flexible and elastic definition to include anyone who argues that behavior is far more important than skin color in determining life’s outcomes in the US. But actual Nazis are so few that they have little support and people are afraid to defend freedom when its restriction is applied to them because “defending freedom” gets described as “supporting Nazis” and almost nobody wants to be seen as supporting Nazis.

     David Burkhead and Mark Steyn are writing about the same thing, though neither of them used the word: gradualism:

     Look at any of the political bonds that have been fastened upon us: labor law, environmental law, firearms control laws, laws that infringe upon property rights, what have you. In nearly every case you'll find that the original collar was gently applied and loosely fastened. It simply didn't stay that way.

     The term most commonly applied to such a slow, steady tightening of the screws is gradualism. Gradualism uses the power of habituation -- the ordinary human tendency to accommodate and adjust to conditions we can't individually alter -- to solidify its gains and prevent retrograde motion. In her landmark book The God Of The Machine, Isabel Paterson referred to it as political power's "ratchet action."

     We have habituated ourselves to all manner of fetters. They were applied with such delicacy, and tightened so slowly and smoothly, that many of us cannot imagine life without them. Yet at any instant in the process, it was still possible to rear up against it. Despite appearances, it remains possible today. We simply haven't done so, nor is it likely that we will.

     The process has been applied to virtually every area of human conduct. I can think of only one exception: the “right” to an abortion. Today, freedom of expression is the central target.


     Just recently, the City of New York actually declared it a hate crime to use the phrase illegal alien. Never mind that that’s the legal term for persons who’ve chosen an illegal way to enter these United States. Say it where others can hear, in any of the five boroughs, and you’ll find yourself in court.

     How can the Big Apple get away with this? Strictly speaking, it can’t. What it can do is intimidate those who are opposed to illegal immigration, and want to see it stopped, out of expressing themselves to others. The authorities can compel us to face the difficulties and expense of defending ourselves against this edict. The ultimate verdict might be foreordained, but they’ll bleed us as heavily as they can on the way.

     This is the most extreme case of “political correctness enforcement” I know of at this time. Mostly, the Left employs extra-legal measures: denunciation, slander, doxxing, assaults on one’s livelihood, and in some cases assaults on one’s loved ones or property. Those measures have often had the desired effect. To be sure, they’re only applied to the speech of “Nazis,” but...wait just a moleskin-gloved minute there, Colonel; how is it “Nazism” to be opposed to illegal immigration?

     The initial stage of the incursion was the introduction and promotion of the concept of “hate speech” as an unprotected form of expression. “Hate speech is not free speech!” they shrieked. They then promoted the wholly fallacious notion that the Constitution explicitly exempts “hate speech” from protection. Owing to the extremely low level of civics education these past fifty years, a number of people swallowed it.

     Notice how many words, phrases, and opinions the Left has denounced as “hate speech” recently? Behold gradualism in all its unholy power.


     The various Democrat candidates for the presidency are all playing the gradualist game. Each of them has promoted a marginal incursion on our rights, and has made it a plank in his platform. Not one of them can be trusted to say everything he has in mind. Note that they avoid direct, unambiguous answers to questions about their intentions and the consequences thereof. While pol-speak has always been forked-tongued, it’s become ever clearer that they who are the least candid about their agendas are those we have the most reason to fear.

     The 2020 election is being spoken of as a “Flight 93” election, just as was that of 2016. The allusion seems appropriate. Should the Left get back into federal power – especially if they get into the White House – lovers of freedom will be fighting a rearguard action thereafter. After all, once the masks are off – and at this point they most certainly are – they cannot be credibly resumed, so why not “swing for the fences” of totalitarian power?

     Do you think the establishmentarians and NeverTrumpers in the GOP understand this? Or will it take a “midnight knock” on their own front doors to drive the seriousness of the matter home to them?

6 comments:

John C. said...

I don't think the establishmentarians and NeverTrumpers in the GOP give a rats ass. I don't think they have since they allowed the "media" and the leftists in Congress to discredit Joe McCarthy and turn the man into a pariah for shining the light of truth on the infiltration of our Deep State with communist operators. Oddly, it's now almost all communists or Mohammadans on the left with few if any actual liberals or traditional Democrats left. And since the radical left nowadays gets to determine labels anybody to the right of Bernie Sanders is a white supremacist and raaaaacist. Oh, and a Nazi even though Nazi's are by definition socialists and therefore leftists. But Nazi's (all 5,000 of them) are in disrepute now since radical communists have decided Nazi's are rightists. John Brennan, former head of the CIA was a communist sympathizer and even voted for communists and still became head of the CIA and even now is heralded on "media" as some kind of "expert". Does anyone believe he would have even been considered for these posts had he voted Nazi instead of communist? Yet the communists murdered about 150 million more people than the Nazi's did. The left is GREAT at gradualism.

Paul Bonneau said...

A couple of founder quotes:

"Indeed nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty: For as violations of the rights of the governed, are commonly...but small at the beginning, they spread over the multitude in such a manner, as to touch individuals but slightly. Thus they are disregarded...They regularly increase the first injuries, till at length the inattentive people are compelled to perceive the heaviness of their burdens. They begin to complain and inquire - but too late. They find their oppressors so strengthened by success, and themselves so entangled in examples of express authority on the part of their rulers, and of tacit recognition on their own part, that they are quite confounded."
-- John Dickenson

"It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much...to forget it."
-- James Madison

I wrote this article a while back: "When to resist. When to submit."
https://ncc-1776.org/tle2010/tle589-20100926-07.html

"The process has been applied to virtually every area of human conduct. I can think of only one exception: the “right” to an abortion."

Actually, the tyrants are being pushed back more than that. Obvious examples are homeschooling, and strangely enough, RKBA. "Constitutional carry" is a lot bigger win, than bumpstocks is a loss. Anyway gun control now routinely faces 90% noncompliance wherever it is tried, and noncompliance will get even more important when the war starts.

Andy Texan said...

Speaking of the never-Trump cur George Will, how to explain his about face after all those decades of earnest commentary? Simply his ox being gored by the President's policies or his life's work being exposed as phony pablum?

Aesop said...

I suspect Will's problem is too much time inside the Beltway, and the inability, at his advanced age, to accept that on Trump, he could possibly have been massively wrong.

It's bad when the outhouse explodes in your face, like with Will.

But no one likes to be reminded of it every day afterwards.
So he'd rather essentially just switch sides, and call it being "fair-minded".

It's the same problem with little people like McCain and Romney.
Easier to double down than to admit to fallibility and have to renounce your own self-elected godhood..

Francis W. Porretto said...

Indeed, Aesop. One of the shortest, yet most difficult of all English-language sentences to master is: "I was wrong."

John C. said...

Ahh, the infamous "I was wrong"! Those of us who are successfully married know all too well how much strength that phrase actually brings to the table. Being able to use it appropriately is what separates the men from the boys.