Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Conservative Devolution

     My principal gift is the detection of patterns. I value that attribute in others as well. When it manifests itself, I immediately take note: Watch this guy.

     Mind you, a pattern is an outline. It hints at a structure that might or might not exist. I noted that pair of opposed possibilities in my fiction:

     “A very smart man once said that imagination is more important than knowledge.” Redmond guided the truck out of the parking lot and onto NY 231. “It was an overstatement, and context-free to boot. Still, he had an important point in mind. He wasn’t the first to make it, either. What is an outline, Todd?”
     The conversational swerve jarred Todd into a curious state. His thoughts seemed to drift free of mundane reality. He struggled to discipline them.
     “The boundary around an object?”
     “Have you seen any outlines lately?”
     “Huh? I don’”
     “In the world outside our heads.” Redmond piloted the truck smoothly down Kettle Knoll. “Did you see anything you could point to and say ‘there’s an outline,’ at any time recently?”
     “I don’t think so.”
     “And why is that? Every object has a boundary, so it must have an outline, right?”
     Todd was overwhelmed by the sense that he was being introduced to a higher realm of thought, a sphere of concepts and relations whose existence he hadn’t suspected.
     He’s way beyond me.
     He fought down his distaste at the admission.
     If I’m going to learn anything more from him, I have to accept it.
     “Outlines are imaginary, then?”
     Redmond pulled into the Iversons’ driveway, stopped, and set the parking brake. “Not quite. It depends on whether you’d say an image—a picture of the world you have in your brain—is imaginary. When we look at the world, we see...things. Objects we take to be bounded and separate from one another. Most of us view the world that way, most of the time. We have to. It makes organized thought possible. And it’s what moved a great writer to write that ‘wise men see outlines, and therefore draw them.’”
     “Who was that?”
     “William Blake. A poet of the late Enlightenment.” Redmond’s eyes twinkled. “He wrote something a bit different a few years later, though.”
     Todd waited.
     “‘Mad men see outlines, and therefore draw them.’”

     The perception of a pattern is the initial step in the critical mental process we call inductive reasoning. However, the desire to see and understand the patterns that run through the world can be as deadly as it is necessary. The willingness to leap from perception to conclusion – in particular, the conclusion that “someone” has willed the pattern and is consciously acting to effectuate it – can induce paranoia. Ask John Nash.

     This morning, the mighty Ace of Spades confronts a pattern that just might explain one hell of a lot of the devolution of “conservative thought:”

     Note that half of Republican policy consists of endorsing and enacting the policy goals of the left, simply by recasting them with a (slight) pretense of a conservative basis -- oh we can have universal health-care, as long as they're based on "market-based" solutions, and oh, we can a bit of industrial-policy protectionism in the inner cities, by just calling them "Enterprise Zones" and pretending this is a "free market solution."

     The right is forever making up "conservative" reasons why it must now pursue the left's agenda as its own.

     Ace is offering this as a part-explanation of the seeming Republican dudgeon over the “Trump tape” so recently introduced to the presidential campaign. He continues as follows:

     Little by little, "conservative" men began buying into this. Slowly they began embracing the idea that, because they'd sired a daughter themselves, suddenly any man expressing a sexual interest in a completely unrelated and random woman was, kinda-sorta, by some alchemy not precisely explained, insulting the dignity of his daughter.

     The left succeeded in convincing many men of the right that their machismo and natural instincts to protect those close to them meant that they must, in order to be a man, shriek over the idea of a dude having sexual thoughts about any woman.

     And thus, the birth of the Dad Avenger, an otherwise conservative-leaning dad who'd been seduced into endorsing, in major part, the feminist agenda of speech and thought patrolling.

     The pattern is plain. What remains to be probed and elucidated is the causal mechanism.

     Few things in our discourse have the destructive power – to this point, realized only in part – of the phenomenon we call political correctness. I’ve been around this block before, of course. Yet one of the elements of PC’s power deserves special attention today: its progress from verbal patterns to mental ones.

     Once it becomes forbidden de facto to express a particular thought, defensive processes take over in the minds of those who hold that thought. They begin to self-censor internally, such that when words that would articulate the forbidden thought arise in their heads, an occlusive process arises to squelch them. Here’s an example from a brilliant piece of fiction. I shan’t excerpt it; it deserves to be read in its entirety.

     Not to think the thought that gives rise to the forbidden words protects one against uttering those words.

     Now, the “politically correct” attitudes, whether toward women, Negroes, immigrants, homosexuals, the “homeless,” or any other Leftist mascot-group, are ones that not even the enforcers really hold. Rather, those attitudes are clubs with which they can beat those they dislike and wish to silence. No one likes being bludgeoned, and when the entirety of the media is on the enforcers’ side and perfectly willing to destroy lives for the merest fraction of a ratings point, the inducements to conformity are considerable. Thus:

  • Many who agree with me on racial matters daren’t even think about them;
  • The same goes for the obvious differences between the sexes;
  • It goes triply for homosexuals;
  • Then there’s the “homeless;”

     ...and on it goes from one forbidding to another, enforced externally by the power of the PC enforcers and their media annex to destroy one’s reputation, to interfere in one’s occupation, and to render one a pariah in one’s community...and ever so gradually over time, reinforced internally by a sort of mental mumble that drowns out the thoughts that, if expressed in words, would attract the enforcers’ attention and invoke their wrath. It’s pure self-defense.

     It cannot be defeated by persons determined to remain “safe” from the floggings of the Left. There is no countermeasure that contains no particle of risk. Indeed, there is only one countermeasure – absolute and complete defiance of the proscriptions and the proscribers – and that requires a degree of courage that’s become all but extinct.

     This is a huge subject. I couldn’t do it true justice in less than a hundred thousand words, with endless citations of cognitive research studies and double-blind experiments that haven’t yet been undertaken and couldn’t be completed in less than twenty years. The generational effects would require fifty to seventy-five years to nail down. But I believe the nub of the thing is expressed above.



Dr. Mabuse said...

This past week has confirmed a lot of things I already knew or thought about the conservative establishment. But one thing happened that I didn't expect, and I feel as if I've glimpsed an outline of something that leaves me very uneasy.

The Republicans' treachery in trying to sandbag Trump at this last moment and force him to retreat and surrender was an outrage, but the aftermath is what has me worried. To me, this was the equivalent of the Turkish generals' failed coup of a few weeks ago. Like that coup, it failed, but UNLIKE that coup, the Republicans don't seem even slightly concerned.

That isn't the way things usually go, and I notice when things don't follow the normal pattern. When a coup fails, the instigators normally experience fear. The usual behaviour is to scramble back to safety by disavowing their treason, or to get the hell out of town. The Republicans aren't doing either. They know that WE know what they did, we saw them, they were caught red-handed, and yet they're just blandly staring us down. They're really not afraid, and I want to know why that is. Are they THAT sure that Hillary is going to win? Are they so certain of their own protection that they don't need to hide their naked contempt for their own voters? What are they counting on?

Manu said...

For myself... It wouldn't matter. I'd do as Dan Hollis did, or worse. I've come to the point where I personally don't care anymore. Truisms are true, as Winston said.

It is not for me that I hold back some things. It is for my family, who would share in the punishment. And I don't really know what to do about that.

jls said...

"Not to think the thought that gives rise to the forbidden words protects one against uttering those words."

I offer these thoughts in less that one hundred thousand words, perhaps they are useful.

At the core is one of moral architecture. The left is asserting their belief system and many on the right are backing down in submission. For the right, force is only used to enforce Fairness/cheating with Care left as a personal matter. The modern left looks to reverse this relationship where Care becomes the master morality and force used for its enforcement.

Underlying this left/right split is how the two sides integrate the self-interest / other-interest dichotomy.

Without going into the details, i believe the problem is that those of the right have lost contact with their moral grounding. Where the left has the single focus of Care, the right must balance Care, Fairness and Liberty, Since Care is part of the rights moral base the left can successfully make their appeal but the reverse is not true. The left has defined both fairness and liberty as sub-categories of Care so any appeal is simply 'talking past' each other.

I wonder if this makes sense to anyone? Perhaps more words?

Anonymous said...

"...and that requires a degree of courage that's become all but extinct." Amen.
The fact that we are viewed from the 'earthly on high' as being more interested in who did what to who - at this point going back 30 years or more - than real issues facing the nation; shows the real contempt and distaste they hold for us. The fact that they hold similar distaste and contempt for the Most High - and those who believe - seals their fate, as I see it; both here and in the hereafter.
I am reminded of a quote from Herbert, in "God Emperor of Dune":
"Most civilisation is based on cowardice. It's so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame."
It has been my prayer for some time, that we would all meet somehow before we link arms on the battlefield. I fear that will not be so, time draws short. But, knowing we shall see true brothers fighting those who wish us dead; gives a glimmer of hope in the evil days ahead. God bless us all and keep us safe. - Grandpa

Anonymous said...

" What are they counting on?"
You must know those who oppose you.
They think they are smarter than us deplorables (ever hear the term 'fly over country'?)
They live in a different world. They don't work, they don't wait in lines, they do nothing for themselves. They are truly out of touch. The term bitter clingers sums it up nicely. They cannot believe that we actually believe in God and the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. They and all they know despise these things and think that in our heart of hearts that we really do too. This is why they must label and fear us - we have core beliefs that we will not abandon and that are truly incomprehensible to them.
To riff on Conan the Barbarian, they do not know the answer to the riddle of steel. We do and act accordingly.