Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Post-Black-Friday Nosegay

Had enough turkey yet, Gentle Reader? I haven’t. At least, that’s what the C.S.O. says.

(Note to self: For next wife, select one who wasn’t Chief Cook for the entire U.S. Army in some previous life.)

1. “The Business Of Business Is Business!”

Our beloved Instapundit today cites a passage from a recent novel -- something that needs to be said more often, even though it shouldn’t need to be said at all!

    He looked at me curiously. “What was your main objective, Skipper? Improve the ship’s reputation?”
    I shook my head. “You can’t improve reputation by focusing on reputation, Avery. You always earn it by your actions.” I stopped to think for a couple of heartbeats. “I almost didn’t take the berth because of the Agamemnon’s reputation on the docks, but once I was here, my main goal was simple. Make money.”
    He cocked his head to one side. “Isn’t that rather cold, skipper? Make money?”
    “Maybe,” I shrugged. “But it’s why we’re out here. It’s why the ship exists. We’re all out here because we make money. If we didn’t make a living at it, we couldn’t do it.”

Quoth Professor Reynolds: “I wish more people understood that basic point.” At first I responded by nodding, but then I got to thinking: What evidence exists to the effect that many people don’t understand it?

Well, for certain values of many, it’s beyond dispute. But is that fraction of the American populace significant in comparison to the rest?

It’s an interesting question, really. A century ago, when most Americans were either self-employed or worked in small, family-owned businesses, the don’t-understand-it fraction would have been minuscule. Even persons employed for wages by large corporations would have grasped it, simply because of the overarching commercial environment. The matter is more elusive today.

Superficially, an individual’s attitude can often be discerned from his casually offered opinions. Phrases such as “obscene profits” and “corporate greed,” and exhortations toward “living wages” and price controls would seem a dead giveaway. But such a person can usually be led to see how irrational such notions really least, if he’s not of the “won’t-understand-it” tribe.

The won’t-understand-its are a separate and less tractable case. Usually, they have to be beaten across the chops by reality. Sometimes even that won’t suffice. Yet there’s worse: the Left’s leadership cadre, the ones who understand it very well but are determined to efface that understanding from their followers, because to grasp it would fatally undermine their power and prestige.

I had an exchange with such a villain just yesterday. He was the sort of devil who cites Scripture for his purposes: in this particular case, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “four freedoms,” only two of which are logically or ethically defensible. His basic argument was that “freedom from want” is just as valid as any other interpretation of freedom. When it became clear that he would not grapple with political freedom as a category that precludes State action to feed people, I left him to play with himself. Yet his is the sort of pseudo-argument that has animated those who have traditionally been the American Left’s cannon fodder: those who demand the unearned as a “right.”

They can often seem quite numerous when they take their bullhorns and spittle-flecked mugs to the streets, as for example in the current foofaurauw over “living wages” for retail clerks and fast-food workers. But how many of them are there, really?

2. The Left’s Hate Parade.

Liberal Logic 101 presents a highly illustrative piece today:

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to attempt a polite discussion with your typical Liberal you’ll quickly find how full of hatred and venom they are. You can actually gauge how effective you are at defending your point of view, by how quickly they start calling you names. But their most intense hatred they reserve for a few people who they especially loathe.

Please read the rest. Note that the persons enumerated are all happy, successful, and admired by many Americans – essentially any American who’s also happy and successful. In other words, they’re admired by anyone who has grasped that his life and values are his own responsibility to act upon. But he who has taken his life into his own hands is not politically reachable with the Left’s indispensable tools: envy and hatred. If he’s outspoken about his convictions as well, that makes him a target the Left will strive to defame, degrade, and destroy. The more passionate and widely heard he is, the more effort the Left will give to bringing about his downfall.

In this connection, science fiction writer John C. Wright tells an important story:

There is an old Chinese legend of a golden scroll on which the secret of human happiness was written; and sages and warlords, merchant-princes and emperors sought the scroll with fervor. When found, they saw the secret of the scroll consisted of one ideogram printed over and over, an ideogram they could not read. However, there was a beggar girl who could read the mysterious word.

If you know that word, then you know the secret of human happiness.

The word is gratitude. Gratitude for one’s nature as a being of independent consciousness and volition. Gratitude for the ability to conceive of goals and ways to pursue them. Gratitude for the possession of an immortal soul and its equipage of conscience. Gratitude that even when times are darkest, as long as one lives and breathes one can still hope and work for better. Gratitude, in other words, for the gift of human life and freedom.

Gratitude is the Left’s most feared and despised enemy. He who has taken his life into his own hands cannot help but be grateful. He must be silenced at least, destroyed at best.

“The Fascists cannot argue, so they kill.” (Victor Marguerite) The Left has deliberately forsaken argument in favor of force, fraud, and intimidation because its arguments have all been defeated. The sort of street protests and pseudo-ethical shaming the Left employs today can all too easily give way to violence. Should that day come to America -- and by my reading of matters, it’s not far off -- make sure you're locked, loaded, zeroed in and ready to fight.

(Cross-posted at League Of Outlaw Bloggers.)

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