Monday, June 19, 2017


     I’ve waited, and waited, and waited. I’ve prayed! “Please, Father. Let this cup pass from me. I’m old and tired, and no one listens to me anyway. Besides, I have novels to write.” Yet it remains for me to quaff. No one else in the Commentariat has asked for as much as a sip. “Let Fran do it,” they say to one another over their Chardonnay and Brie. “Why should we exert ourselves when a Certified Galactic Intellect is available? He’ll get to it sooner or later. Just wait; you’ll see.”

     All right, you ward heelers, you courthouse loafers! You conscienceless exploiters of a defenseless old man and his all too easily flattered ego! Here it comes, straight at you at Mach One. And I promise: you’re not going to like it. Because the villains of this piece include you.

     This essay from Dystopic provides the opening stimulus:

     We don’t occupy the moral high ground. We haven’t occupied it since at least the Reagan years, and probably long before that. Why is that? If you’ve been following my series on Marxism and Morality, you may have an inkling of where I’m going with this.

     Marxism possesses the moral high ground, at this point in time....

     Why do they occupy it? Because we let them have it. We granted them the courage of their convictions. We treated Marxism as a “good theory” that just doesn’t work in practice. We suggested that our enemies (and yes, they are our enemies) were as moral and honest as we were, they were just merely mistaken about the means, that’s all.

     Meanwhile, they call us Nazis, fascists, racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, whatever. They never granted us the same conviction we granted them.

     This deserves to be read carefully. When Dystopic says that “Marxism possesses the moral high ground,” he isn’t saying that the Left has a moral claim to it, merely that it occupies that vantage. The point is debatable, but one aspect of it is not: the Left’s adherents, below the level of its strategists and tacticians, have been taught to believe it.

     Really, how else could the stupid-or-evil postulate — with “evil” steadily gaining ground – have become so entrenched among them?

     This fundamental fact of the current political reality must be accepted and internalized before the Right, to say nothing of America as a whole, can make any progress against the rising tide of violence, intimidation, and disruption of our public affairs.

     All too frequently, I note commentators on the Right making the following astonishing statement, albeit seldom in these words: America isn’t perfect. In this artless phrase lies about 99% of the reason the strategists and tacticians of the Left have:

  • Promulgated vicious, indefensible lies about our people and our country;
  • Succeeded in getting so many followers to act as if those lies were truths.

     Does anyone else ever reflect upon the true meanings of words, or am I the only one? Perfect has a specific meaning. It means finished; no further improvement possible. A perfect thing has reached the zenith of its possibilities determined by its design. Doing better requires scrapping the design and coming up with a new one.

     But an evaluation of perfect requires a standard of judgment: a set of ultimate desiderata, plus metrics by which to gauge the distance between them and the thing being evaluated. Without such a standard, no evaluation is possible. Indeed, no evaluation would make sense.

     In positing that the Left holds the moral high ground, Dystopic has indirectly fingered this phenomenon. The Left has implied a standard for evaluation, and the Right has tacitly accepted it.

     Hold fast to that thought. It’s much nearer the base of the Left’s ideological / polemic edifice than most freedom-oriented writers have gone. If they were aware of it, they gave no sign. Indeed, had they been aware of it they would not have committed the many polemic errors for which they should be held to account.

     I’ve written so many times about the Left’s tactic of proclaiming our “guilt” that the occurrences blur together in my memory. Yet herein lies the all-important weapon that complements its lies about our nation. It’s time to link the method to the madness.

     The Left’s implied standard, once tacitly accepted, allows its mouthpieces to criticize us for not having met it. The next step – so obvious as to embarrass me for having to state it explicitly – is to say: “Why aren’t you trying? If you’re unwilling to try, then you must be happy about your failings. Therefore, you’re evil.

     That’s what happens when you allow your enemy to proclaim a moral standard to which you are expected to adhere.

     Those in the Right who have accepted the Left’s moral standard, whether consciously or otherwise, thereby make themselves vulnerable to the infliction of guilt. How could it be otherwise? He who has a conscience and is made to see that he’s fallen short of the moral standard he’s accepted will naturally feel guilty about it. That’s how the mind of a decent man operates. His guilt, if not swiftly and decisively dispelled, will translate into shame, which will create distance between him and those persons and things that might make him feel better about himself.

     The effect is subtle. He might start speaking of “compromises” with the Left. Or he might prattle about “alternative” methods, aimed at propitiating the Left by addressing its moral desiderata in ways cosmetically more compatible with freedom. Yet history makes it plain that this serves the Left’s true agenda: the politicization of everything, such that “freedom” comes to mean “the right to ask permission.” Underneath it all will be that evil standard: the one to which he’s given assent and pledged his fealty without ever realizing it.

     A grievance is most poignant when it is almost redressed. – Herbert Spencer.

     Matters of conscience being dominant over all others, it behooves the power-seeker to elevate his preferred “issues” to the moral plane. Not many have adequately addressed this aspect of the American dynamic. Don Surber recently took note of it:

     A Democratic Party activist's attempted massacre of Republican congressmen should jolt real, patriotic Americans to demand better behavior from our politicians, our pundits, and our power brokers.

     The way to stop the insanity is to stop acting insane. While I know there are many things to do, the first step is paramount.

     Stop making everything a moral issue.

     While Surber’s diagnosis is accurate and his prescription would be effective, the Left won’t allow the public to take the medicine. The Left’s tacticians are determined to make everything a moral issue, for the reasons I’ve already delineated.

     Moral issues are practically guaranteed to command popular attention. Indeed, they’re so powerful that anything but complete success at attaining the goals they imply allows their drum-beaters to keep them alive indefinitely...and said drum-beaters can always claim that someone, somewhere, isn’t “getting what he deserves.”

     Isn’t that a practical guarantee that politicians of all stripes will seek to frame their chosen issues as moral ones? Doesn’t it explain to satisfaction the Sturm und Drang that pervades political discourse in our time? Leaving aside the obvious amorality of the majority of the drum-beaters, that is. And if it does explain the matter satisfactorily, what does it portend for our immediate future? More pervasive and intensified moralization of every political issue, or less?

     Today, voting is an American superstition. Hardly anyone ever thinks about it. Americans take it for granted that every human being has a natural right to vote. Of course this is not true. No one has a natural right to vote. Everyone is born with inalienable liberty, but nobody is born with an inalienable ballot. – Rose Wilder Lane, The Discovery of Freedom

     For my next trick I’m going to do an incredible thing to you. I’m going to make you feel guilty about having allowed yourself to feel undeservedly guilty. Yea, and all your forebears back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The topic I have in mind goes at least that far back. It’s been one of the Left’s most notable successes.

     The topic is the vote.

     For openers, let’s have a little Bastiat:

     I wish merely to observe here that this controversy over universal suffrage (as well as most other political questions) which agitates, excites, and overthrows nations, would lose nearly all of its importance if the law had always been what it ought to be. In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?

     Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege? If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone's interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?

     [Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850]

     In connection with Bastiat’s train of reasoning, I noted the deleterious effects of an overextended franchise on civic virtue. However, the Left possesses the moral high ground in this – in Dystopic’s sense of possession, not right – for a simple reason: its promotion of “equality” as a moral issue.

     Just now there’s an extremely irritating public-relations campaign going on in New York, concerning the state’s “history of equal rights” as regards the vote. It represents Susan B. Anthony as a champion of “women’s rights” in campaigning for the “right to vote.” Without that “right,” women were supposedly unequal to enfranchised men.

     The notion can be extended, of course. At the beginning of the Republic, the franchise was granted only to white male citizens who owned real estate. That condition continued beyond the Civil War, into that portion of our history during which Americans made the greatest gains of both liberty and prosperity. It was a time in which America was regarded by those in other lands as heaven on Earth – because their relatives and friends who had already immigrated to America told them so.

     Our descent from near-perfect freedom and a sharp decline in our previous, explosive growth in prosperity correlates exactly with the period of the ever expanding franchise:

  • First to be removed was the requirement for the ownership of land.
  • Then came the extension of the franchise to women.
  • Next was the extension of the franchise to non-whites.
  • Most recent was the lowering of the voting age to 18.
  • Today, “universal suffrage” flacksters want the voting age lowered still further – some want it to be 16; others demand that it be lowered to 14 – and the return of the franchise to convicted felons.
  • A few ultimately daring souls, on the representation that “American elections affect the whole world,” want non-citizens to be allowed to vote – including persons who have never even visited these United States.

     At each stage, the Left inveighed the expanded electorate into supporting ever greater incursions upon Americans’ freedom and property rights. All in the name of that ultimately deceitful shibboleth of aspiring tyrants everywhere: “equality.”

     Governments have their own dynamic, and the natural dynamic of governments is to grow. – David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom
     “We are not seeking power. We are seeking the end of power!” – Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed

     My initial assumption, in assessing persons who aspire to public office, is that they desire power above all other things. Now, it’s not uniformly true: There are some officeholders, even today, who don’t hold to the “power uber alles” goal, but sincerely seek to do what they believe is best for the country, or at least for some selected portion of it. However, the dynamic of politics tends to filter them out, such that as the years pass fewer of them will attain or hold the offices they seek.

     In a political order that elevates persons by democratic mechanisms, to be successful the power-seeker must learn how to give the voters what they most desire. If enough voters have been persuaded – again, consciously or otherwise — to have guilty consciences owing to the acceptance of a moral standard they don’t believe they’ve met, they’ll support candidates whom they believe will assuage their guilt. This will be true even among persons who proclaim freedom and prosperity to be their highest issues, because the demands of conscience trump all else.

     Another essential skill for the politician is the knack for acquiring credit while averting discredit. In an order in which each officeholder wielded some authority independent of all others, this would be very difficult, perhaps impossible. However, ours is not such an order. Legislators enact laws collectively; elected executives must delegate the greater part of their authority to underlings; appellate-court judges vote on the “opinions” they issue. To compound matters – and never imagine that elected officials don’t want this to be exactly the way it is – the faceless, unaccountable bureaucracy stands behind it all, providing the elected official with a convenient rhetorical whipping boy when his plans seem to “gang aft agley.”

     The elected official who can do this can make himself look like Solomon returned to life.

     No political order of any sort will last forever. Any such, to be maintained, must be enforced. Enforcement requires enforcers.

     When I speak of a “political order,” I intend to include several things beyond the black-letter law:

  1. Dominant public convictions and attitudes;
  2. The degree of success the political class has had at entrenching itself;
  3. The latitude and indulgence granted to the operators within the nominal political system;
  4. The numbers, scope, flexibility and indulgence granted to those who enforce the will of the regime;
  5. The numbers, dispersion, aggressiveness, and indulgence granted to those who choose to defy the regime.

     For a specific example of current relevance, consider the illegal-alien crisis. Before the election of President Trump, illegal entries to the U.S. approached a million persons per year, while detections, arrests, and deportations of illegal aliens numbered a few hundred or thousand per year. Excepting a few extreme left-wing ideologues, we can all agree that illegal entry to the U.S. is illegal. So what of the considerations enumerated immediately above?

  1. In the main, private citizens regard the illegal-alien tide as “someone else’s problem;”
  2. The political class was (and is) deeply entrenched, almost impossible to uproot and replace;
  3. Persons within the political elite are generally treated as “above the law,” and without any personal responsibility to see to its enforcement;
  4. Border-control personnel were under orders not to enforce various aspects of the immigration laws;
  5. In any event, those personnel were swamped by the number of would-be illegal entrants.

     Clearly, the correlation of forces was heavily in favor of the treatment of the immigration laws as a nullity, de facto. It’s somewhat better now, but the vacillations in Congress and the White House over the proposed border wall aren’t helping and could spell a return to the previous condition.

     Note in particular item 1 above: Ordinary Americans feel the enforcement of the immigration laws is “someone else’s problem.” Without the active assistance of the great mass of Americans, no imaginable number of “official” border-control personnel would be sufficient; the numbers are too heavily in favor of the illegals, and the borders are simply too long. Yet even private Americans who rail against the illegal tide think little of hiring nannies, roofers, masons, and landscapers who entered the U.S. illegally.

     The politicians who’ve thundered about the need to control our borders better are personally indisposed to care much. They, too, regard it as “someone else’s problem.” Few who benefit personally from the illegal tide are held to account for it.

     Hatred has its pleasures. – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

     The balance in the mind of one who contemplates breaking some law is of interest here:

  1. He must believe that he has the resources to violate the law successfully.
  2. He must believe that the odds favor gaining what he seeks from a violation of the law.
  3. He must adjudge the “social impact” from the deed – i.e., the impact on others’ opinions of him –endurable.
  4. The “opportunity costs” must favor breaking the law rather than eschewing that in favor of something else he could do.

     Each condition is necessary; together, all four are sufficient to move a man to lawbreaking. Should the answers suffice and the deed be successfully undertaken, a fifth component arises: the thrill of placing oneself “in rebellion.” This is a reward to the successful lawbreaker to which few ordinary persons give sufficient consideration. To some career criminals, it looms almost as large as the prospect of material gain.

     Consider in this light the “Antifa / Black Bloc” activities of late: violence and intimidation against Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters, intended to prevent us from speaking our minds or hearing others do so. The thugs have no prospect of material profit from their thuggery. Their commitment to any abstract cause is dubious. Their sole personal gain is the thrill of rebellion. A considerable thrill it must be, considering that they continue on even now that some of their targets have begun to fight back effectively.

     Part of the problem might arise from numbers: the thugs arrive in groups and depart in groups, whereas the persons in the crowds they terrorize come and go as individuals. Another part is the flaccidity, to this point, of law enforcement before the phenomenon. (Too few municipalities have outlawed concealing one’s face in public.) Also, not enough of the persons in the target groups arrive prepared for violence, for example by carrying weapons. Finally, the thugs’ predecessors, historically, have always carried the day, with Hitler’s Sturmabteilung being the most dramatic example.

     If only a very few persons were involved on either side, the typical police presence might be adequate to keep the thugs from gaining what they seek. But when the numbers are large – hundreds on each side – unless the target replies with equal or greater force with or without police support, “Antifa / Black Bloc” will get what it seeks. Afterward, the thugs will congratulate themselves and one another on “sticking it to The Man.”

     Paper constitutions raise smiles on the faces of those who have observed their results. -- Herbert Spencer

     Back when it was first said that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom,” it was understood that the “vigilance” – and whatever remedial measures were required – had to come from the people in arms. A written constitution is all very well, but a government determined to slough its Constitutional duties or exceed its Constitutional bounds can only be disciplined by a populace willing to put itself at risk to do so.

     This holds true for the street violence we suffer as well. The police are, in many cases, ordered not to interfere, regardless of all eventualities, in what happens at a Right-inclined event “Antifa / Black Bloc” has decided to terrorize. (Remember the Baltimore riots and the “let them destroy” decree of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake?) In other cases, the police force available is insufficient to do much. Only those who are the nominal targets have any chance of replying effectively.

     We are the enforcers we’ve been looking for...and to date, we haven’t really shown up.

     To sum up – and it’s about BLEEP!ing time, isn’t it? – it’s past time that we in the Right start acting as if we really mean what we claim to believe:

  • No more implicitly accepting the moral standards promulgated by the Left. The sole secular moral standard anyone should accept is the individual’s absolute right to his life, his liberty, and his honestly acquired property.
  • No more silence in the face of evil statements from the Left. They must be immediately and thunderingly denounced, and without any allowance that “they meant well.” They don’t; it’s time to say so at the tops of our voices.
  • No more supporting a local or regional politician just because he sounds “bold” or “compassionate,” or because of the letter after his name. Performance in office must become the sole standard; no exceptions may be made for “our guy.”
  • No more relying on the police for the protection of our rights or other law enforcement. Private individuals must be prepared at all times to defend themselves against violence with violence, and to enforce the law, if necessary by making “citizens’ arrests.”
  • Above all else – indeed, as a prerequisite to all else – Our consciences must be clear:
    1. Don’t advocate policies that would benefit you at others’ expense.
    2. Don’t allow yourself to benefit from a practice you know to be wrong.
    3. If you believe that “something ought to be done,” don’t vote for it; do it yourself.
    4. Don’t provide lip service to a policy you wouldn’t enforce yourself – or upon yourself.

     Nothing less will suffice.

     There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. – Henry David Thoreau


Manu said...

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced this is going to become a shooting war at some point. I feel like we are caught in a quantum singularity of stupid, and if we haven't already crossed the event horizon, it is certainly coming up fast.

The excessive moralizing of everything results in a condition, like you said, where perfection is both expected and impossible. Nobody can be satisfied, short of the complete destruction of the other's ideology. That would seem to make war inevitable, unless this behavior can be stopped.

Bob T. said...

Had detailed discussions on this and related matters with a local Republican precinct chairman a few nights ago. Texas is in the middle of a heated battle to "turn the state blue". Hundreds of thousands of dollars are flowing into the state from well-heeled leftists (including our perennial boogeyman, Soros) to finance activities that we wage slaves are unwilling (due to our indebtedness) to counter effectively. A specific example of how we're being outgunned should suffice. Republican block-walkers are volunteers, mostly willing to give up a few hours on Saturday mornings and maybe weekday evenings before sunset in "safe" neighborhoods. Democrat block-walkers are paid $14/hour for their efforts, which effectively allows them to operate throughout the day and reach their presumptive likely voters who will probably be home during normal working hours.

There's no way we're voting ourselves out of this, and the excessive moralizing of everything is merely the whipped cream and cherry on the sh*t sundae that is the left's strategy for the relentless pursuit of power *over* others (as you put it in another excellent essay). The *only* thing holding back the retribution we all sense is coming is a relatively stable economy (for the nonce, anyway). If the wheels come off that cart before the left can finish tearing us down, the hard-working wage slave will no longer be restrained from taking countermeasures: beware the man who has nothing to lose, because he will fight accordingly. Expect that "the powers that be" will do everything they can to prevent an economic collapse so people like me will effectively be removed from the fight that needs to be happening *now*.