Sunday, October 22, 2017

Contemporary Sociopolitical Dynamics: A Few Thoughts

     The universe seems to have strict and unvarying laws. Note the word seems in that sentence. We humans have a very limited ability to probe those laws, being confined to a single solar system (and for the moment at least, a very small sector thereof) and therefore trapped in the solar wind and gravity well of its star. It’s possible, although most physicists would say “not bloody likely,” that the physical laws we believe we have inferred from the natural behavior we can observe aren’t uniform throughout the cosmos.

     The laws that govern human nature, on the other hand, appear to be inviolable. A favorite of mine (if it makes any sense to be a “fan” of a natural law, as if there were rallies held for it), is this one:

Success Breeds Emulation.

     When people generally see some group advancing its aims by using a particular tactic, that tactic will be emulated by persons outside the group. Emulation will continue until one of two things occurs:

  1. The overuse of the tactic nullifies its efficacy;
  2. An effective counter-tactic emerges.

     In two particular instances, the American sociopolitical milieu is demonstrating this dynamic as we watch. Indeed, those two tactics and the reactions to them constitute the greater portion of sociopolitical interplay at this time.

     The first tactic of note is the hurling of accusations and vilifications: racist, sexist, homophobic, et cetera. I’ve written about this before, as I have a particular interest in one of its battlegrounds.

     These past few years, the tactic of shouting “Racist!” at one’s opponent has lost its edge. The accusations no longer cut as they once did. There are several reasons for this, but in my opinion chief among them is overuse. When the response to some political adversary or disliked proposal is an accusation of racism, as we have seen in innumerable instances, the audience rapidly comes to regard the accusation as a tic, something reflexive but meaningless. It’s unnecessary to take a tic seriously.

     Alongside that, racism as an operating social and political force is observable almost exclusively in blacks’ behavior toward whites. Whites are massively inhibited about discriminating against blacks; nearly all of us will “lean over backwards” to avoid even the appearance of favoring our own race over theirs. That was Barack Hussein Obama’s trump card in his two presidential election campaigns, as the election returns plainly demonstrate. When word gets around that the objective evidence contradicts the accusation, the tactic loses its punch.

     The second tactic of note is the use of violence, mainly threatened rather than actualized, to silence an opponent. The “AntiFa” phenomenon is well known. What’s been less discussed is the barrage of anonymous threats made toward the spokesmen for certain propositions and causes. The most recent, high-profile example of this concerns Dana Loesch, well known as a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. The volume and fury of the threats leveled at her and her family made her feel that she must sell her home and move to a new one. Not everyone in Miss Loesch’s position would feel the same urgency about that; in the usual case, the greater and gorier the threat, the less likely it is to be realized. Yet to act on her fears is understandable in a wife and mother in her position.

     However, the Left’s use of this tactic has caused the Right to develop the unique counter-tactic of embracing it and turning it to our service. While this is ethically unjustifiable, ethical constraints tend to go out the window in the midst of a total social war – i.e., a war in which there are no noncombatants. The survival imperative supersedes all others.

     Once a tactic such as silencing through intimidation has been normalized for both sides, it tends to lose its appeal. This is a difficult development to analyze, yet there are notable examples of it on battlefields. Consider the use of poison gases in World War I: the original “weapon of mass destruction.” After the Allied Powers embraced the tactic, both sides abandoned it. Herman Kahn believed that it was because both sides deemed it a “bad buy:” not effective enough to justify the costs. However, an alternate explanation, which I prefer, would be that the Germans, whose interior zone was the more compact and less mobile of the two, realized that they would suffer far worse from mass poisoning than the Allies. They dropped the tactic in the hope that the Allies would reciprocate – which they did.

     As the national discourse has been heavily influenced by the rise of the abovementioned tactics, I would expect that their decline will be equally significant. However, that’s a prognostication, which bears continued testing by observation. Whatever history might suggest, there’s a lot of “history” ahead of us.

     Of one thing we may be reasonably sure: new, successful tactics introduced to our social and political struggles will be emulated. And of another I have little doubt:

Success Breeds Failure.
     “A penny for your thoughts?” Conway said.
     “Hm? Oh, sorry, Kevin. I was woolgathering there for a moment.” She scowled. “My mentor liked to say that success breeds failure. You tend to repeat your old, successful moves because they worked, while your enemy is developing a new one to clobber you with. I guess he had a point. Got any suggestions?”

     [From Shadow of A Sword]

     Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Reg T said...

Your link to the Lynn coffee shop article appears to indicate you give it credence, that concerned conservatives - or at least people who supported the police - would actually do what the coffee shop owner supposedly accused them of doing.

To me, the story presented sounds very much like the usual projection of the Left's own modus operandi onto the Right. Since when does anyone but the Left actually hire paid thugs (like Soros with BLM and Antifa) to ?

I wouldn't be surprised to discover the "journalist", Yvonne Abraham, made that part up, as a number of such "columnists" have been caught doing in recent years.

"whipped up by a website that specializes in (and makes money from) marshaling drooling goons for mass attacks, mostly on victims who express left-of-center views." "rape threats", etc. Sounds more like Berkeley students, or women on campus who make false claims of having been raped.

And coming from the Boston Globe, I believe it even less.

Had it been written about the Left attacking a conservative shop owner, I would be inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. I have no facts, per se, to offer, but based on what we have seen of the behavior of the Left in recent history, this story definitely does not ring true.