Friday, August 4, 2017

The Respect Gambit Part 2: Dropping Our Guard

     When I wrote this piece, I was primarily concerned with what we might call the mathematics of social metastability. I’ve known for a while that certain deviances must be curbed early, lest their metastatic properties produce social cancers that would threaten the life of the host. However, it’s in the nature of Man that such deviances cannot be utterly eradicated. Their numbers can be held down; that is all. So it’s important for a polity / society / culture to have defenses against their expansion – and of course, against their celebration as something innovative and desirable.

     When I wrote this piece – golly gee, it seems like only yesterday! – I sought to address both the heightened aggressiveness of the practitioners of those deviances and the pressure to treat them publicly as above criticism. The causal connection “should” be “obvious” (he said entirely non-ironically), but a great many Americans have yet to detect it, mainly because only lunatics such as your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus are crazy enough to court public opprobrium by mentioning it.

     You’re welcome to your own opinion about whether deviances such as aggressive homosexuality, militant misandry, transgenderism, Islam in America, and the open practice of what Charles Murray has labeled “thug culture” can be tolerated, long term or short. But unless these things are curbed, they will continue to expand, for the simplest of all reasons: we dropped our guard against them.

     In essence, the promoters and practitioners of those deviances took note of the defenses American society had mounted against them, targeted them, and strove single-mindedly to dismantle them. Once the barriers were down, the deviants could surge forth from their closets to afflict the rest of us without pretense. What I’ve called “the respect gambit” was the lever they contrived to pry open America’s social door.

     If we don’t come immediately to grasp the nature of “the respect gambit” and do something to disarm it, American society is doomed. I know that’s a strong statement for 5:10 AM EDT, but the trends I see developing leave me no choice about it. Accordingly, here I am to describe the mechanism we must oppose and how to go about it.

     However, this excursion into human social order and what makes it coherent will be more extended than most, so first, a little more coffee.

     “Hope has no police, no legislatures, and no man-made laws. Our rule is simplicity itself: ‘An it harm none, do as thou wilt.’” -- Alain Morelon

     The Spooner Federation books are a major component of what I hold to be my life’s true work. They explore, in fictional form, both the possibilities of anarchism among persons raised in it and committed to it, and some of the reasons why it’s no more stable than any form of government. I’ve received broadsides against the themes in those books, both from persons utterly committed to anarchism and from persons angry that I should have broached the possibility.

     There are a number of sociocultural motifs in the Spooner Federation series that can pass unnoted at first reading. One that almost no one has ever mentioned in correspondence with me is the universality of the bourgeois virtues. Everyone in the stories works at something. Yet some are less willing to work than others; consider Elizabeth Peterson in Which Art In Hope. Some become drunk with power and are enraged when they’re defied; consider Charisse Morelon in Freedom’s Scion. Some aspire to a status they can’t earn by their own efforts; consider Victor in Freedom’s Fury. And of course, there are those whose envy of more successful others leads them to some very bad decisions; consider Alex Dunbarton, again in Freedom’s Fury.

     Healthy, sustainable social orders institute barriers against the indulgence of sloth, power lust, greed, and envy. Though some such barriers are secular in nature, the most important one – the one that’s functioned more reliably than all others combined – is the Christian ethos, when coupled to a confident censoriousness toward those who deviate from its strictures.

     The Christian ethos can be most succinctly summed up as the practice of the four cardinal virtues:

  • Prudence,
  • Justice,
  • Temperance,
  • Fortitude.

     No one intelligent enough to read the effusions I post here at Liberty’s Torch will need to have those virtues explicated in detail. Their overriding importance in restraining explosions of sloth, power lust, greed, and envy cannot be overstated. Indeed, without them – and without a mated willingness among people generally to criticize to the point of ostracism those who disdain them – no society can endure. And there is this: they can only be sustained by faith: the conviction that they are good and necessary in themselves, requiring no elaborate “proof.”

     A healthy social order, in which deviances are kept within tolerable bounds, absolutely requires the cardinal virtues and the hostility of those who practice them toward those who don’t. But we’re not nearly done.

     As I wrote here, tolerability is a matter of degree. A deviance that keeps itself to itself while observing the sociocultural norms in public can be tolerated: i.e. it can be permitted to exist in small numbers. However, if it offers its practitioners reinforcements that can exceed their ability to resist, as is the case with many vices, only public disapprobation tantamount to ostracism can keep it curbed. When disapprobation fails to be sufficient, the practice of the vice will expand.

     Some deviances have the power to evoke a fad. The current transgenderism fad is a perfect example. For the first time in my memory, we have persons openly proclaiming that the sex of one’s natal body has nothing to do with one’s “gender.” As there are always curious persons, especially among the young, about how it might feel to be the other sex, this has promoted a huge surge of “exploration” that’s already having deleterious social and commercial consequences. Some of those consequences will fall entirely upon the “explorers,” who will soon (if they haven’t already) discover that most employers are unwilling to condone such disruptive nonsense within their enterprises.

     Note that transgendered individuals have existed for a long time. The keys to attaining social acceptance were discretion and presentation. Discretion, in that the transgendered person would refrain from openly attacking the sociocultural norms; presentation, in that a man who wants to live and be taken as a woman – by far the majority of the transgendered are biological men who want to live as women – would impose upon himself whatever measures might be demanded of him to be generally accepted as such, from various elaborate personal preparations to relocation. Since those measures are indeed quite demanding, very few persons were strongly enough motivated to accept them.

     Clearly, conditions are different today.

     Needless to say, the legal order has a part to play in this. Continuing with the example of transgenderism, among the steps required of a transgender to attain the status he seeks is acquiring the necessary documentation for that new status. Recent developments have made this loom very large...but that was not always the case.

     Time was, personal legal documentation was practically nonexistent. As recently as 1900, even legal birth certificates were unknown in these United States. Parents would note the birth of a child on the black leaves at the end of the family Bible. Births were otherwise recorded by neighborhood churches, if at all. Once again, conditions are different today.

     Think about all the government wastepaper you “need” today:

  • A birth certificate;
  • A Social Security card;
  • If male, a Selective Service registration card;
  • Depending upon locale, proof of legal residence in these United States;
  • For drivers, a driver’s license;
  • For travelers abroad, a passport;
  • For about 1100 different occupations, an occupational license.

     Those are merely the items that come to mind at once. I have no doubt that there are others. To replace all of them, someone who wants to transition must have the cooperation of various levels of government in his efforts – and the willingness of governments to cooperate blasts a large hole in the barriers that once kept transgenderism confined to a tolerable few.

     But of course, in a nation as over-governed as ours, those bits of paper are required if one is to exercise a reasonable degree of personal latitude. Imagine what it would take to board a plane without them.

     Another important element enters the mix with a change in governmental acceptance. By changing its attitude toward the deviance from outlawry (or non-recognition) to legal toleration, the State, which in our time is all too widely regarded as the ultimate arbiter of everything, has placed itself in implicit opposition to the sociocultural norms. That allows the deviant to represent himself as having been oppressed but now being liberated, with the corollary that private citizens’ disapproval should vanish as well.

     Needless to say, this is a complete non sequitur. Many things are and have been legal that others have disapproved to the point of exclusion. Conversely, many things in which private persons see no harm – in moderation, at least – have been outlawed. There is no necessary connection between the legal order and the norms of society. Yet deviants strive to conflate the two at every turn.

     In this regard, the most notable deviance is that of homosexuality. About sixty years ago, homosexual conduct was illegal throughout the United States. With the relaxation of the laws against it, homosexual activists were able to grab hold of the “oppression” banner and transmute it into a drive for general social acceptance. The “Gay Pride” phenomenon was born...and once again, allow me to note the absurdity of pride in something the sufferer claims was inborn. (It gets even more absurd when we note homosexuals’ hostility to the word homosexual, and to the availability of therapies that have succeeded in reversing the sexual orientations of some homosexuals.) Over time, waving the “oppression” banner sufficed to neutralize the social disapproval that had previously kept homosexuality within tolerable limits.

     A deviance on the march will seldom be satisfied with toleration. The practitioners are aware that toleration can be a veneer over continued disapproval. As most deviances are anxious to expand their numbers – population having an emotional connection, if no other, with perceptions of acceptability – demands for respect are next to be heard. Without popular respect, the barriers to the expansion of the deviance will remain too firm for practitioners’ tastes.

     The first and possibly most important venue for mandatory “respect” is the verbal: what you may and must not say. I’ve ranted about this before, but the subject is evergreen. Once again, homosexuality is the best contemporary example. Today it can cost one’s job to express disapproval of homosexuality, much less the opinion that it’s not really inborn at all but rather a conscious choice. That hazard is gradually being extended to several other deviances. Human Resources departments seem eager to comply, with the implication that the increased power to regulate the lives of employees is their real priority.

     However, the delegitimization of verbal disapproval has institutional consequences. Consider in this connection the ongoing campaign against the Catholic Church. Several deviances are enlisted in this effort, most notably homosexuals and the promoters of abortion on demand. They cannot abide a large institution, whose allegiants deem it to possess moral authority, that openly condemns the behavior they cherish. Similarly, corporations whose executives are known to be opposed to various deviances are regularly targeted for economic damage, usually through boycotts, in the attempt to get the “offending” executives expunged.

     This is a large subject; I don’t pretend to have produced anything but the barest outline of the problem in our place and time. It’s a critical factor in the acceleration and intensification of our social chaos, though it’s not the only one. It deserves to be studied in great depth.

     Bear in mind always that there are persons who attach themselves to a “cause” specifically to profit from it. The most visible “spokesmen” for some deviance are likely to be of that sort. Sincerity is not often found in the vicinity of profits to be made by aggravating a conflict. That doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. Indeed, a lack of conviction is often an asset to a demagogue; it allows him to bend with the winds.

     One final thought before I close for today: When a deviance bursts the bonds that have traditionally restrained it to a tolerable level, the prior social dynamic is often reversed. Ordinary persons who desire only to live according to their own convictions will find themselves threatened for nonconformance to the “new standard.” The intrusions can be of several kinds, including legal ones.

     There are always consequences for not having the courage of one’s convictions. Why else would fortitude be a virtue?


furball said...



And, of course I do not pretend or otherwise submit that I understand things as well as you do or SAY things as well as you do.


This one is a perfect example. You say so much and it is so dense that I doubt that half of your fans could paraphrase what you said in 140 words or less.

I am not suggesting that there is a fundamental problem with your thoughts. Nor do I believe the rest of us are too stupid to understand your received wisdom.

But you have voiced important thoughts and I think your voice is a little murky in this one. I want you to be yourself and say your mind, but I honestly think you need to insert simpler paragraphs.

If nothing else, you know you shouldn't have to tell us what a Morelon or another character believes. The story should have told us. By the same token, I get the SENSE from this post of what you mean. .. but it is SO dense that I am not sure.

Please don't belittle me in public. All I'm saying is that you make a good point and raise important issues, but THIS post is SO dense and important that it is hard to follow and because of that, we want to read it and do something, but . . . .

I know. You want to tell us, "read what I say and make up your own mind."

But no. Read what you just posted. You're saying both exposition and conclusion. But you are saying it (admittedly VERY WELL SAID) in a way that covers you rhetorically and politically.

Fran, you're a little like Victor Davis Hanson. You write really well and describe stuff. But the folks who read you want to know what to do next.

I know you don't want to be "that guy" who says, "take up arms," or "assemble at your state capitol."

But this last post of yours goes around and around that idea with such horrendous circumlocutions! Come on.

Don't post this comment. But please think about Paine.

Bob T. said...

I'll take a stab at simplification... If you want more deviancy, tolerate that which becomes public. Subsidizing bad behavior is the moral equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire. Formation of protected classes of people by the State *is* that subsidy regardless of whether one recognizes it as such.

To expand on the above a tiny bit... I don't believe in protected classes of people any more than I support the entirely artificial notion of hate crimes. An act is either criminal or not, independent of the thoughts of the person committing said act. To deem something a hate crime is to claim explicit knowledge of what a person's thoughts were at the time the crime was committed. As far as I know, only our Lord would have such knowledge and be able to apply it infallibly as part of judgement.

Fran touched on the notion of private vs. public deviancy. What two consenting adults do in private is frankly not my concern until they choose to make it my concern, i.e., it becomes public. Doesn't matter whether the private behavior is considered by societal norms to be deviant: it's none of my business until you bring it to my attention by other than accidental discovery.

On the matter of the blood-letting that's coming... There's a huge difference between physically attacking someone for alleged or actual deviancy, and defending one's self from a maniacal advocate for that deviancy who is physically threatening you. If your defensive actions in the case of the latter result in that person's death, while the almighty State might pronounce you guilty of murder, your conscience should be clear.

At the end of the day, we got here by simply wishing to be left alone and exercising self-perfected techniques of conflict avoidance to that purpose. Continuing in this manner will NOT produce a different result. I get that from the last two paragraphs of Fran's posting, but there's the further admonition that you will likely endure negative consequences for holding a negative opinion regarding deviancy to the extent that opinion becomes as public as the deviancy to which you're objecting, particularly where the State has created a protected class of the practitioners.

How to combat deviancy? Here's a bit of unexpectedly good news... In honestly-conducted surveys (whatever *that* might mean) of people concerning religious attitudes and how they correlate with moral behavior, churches (denominational and non-) that refuse to call a sin a sin are losing members in accordance with the principle of not standing for anything being equivalent to standing for nothing. Not to put too fine a point on it, but PEOPLE WANT RULES to live by, and what is "good, moral, and acceptable" is not nearly so fluid as deviants would have you believe. There's an entire sermon in there somewhere for a qualified person to explain why Islam flourishes: the standards are fatally flawed, but rigorously enforced.

Here endeth the lesson :-).