Saturday, July 7, 2018

For And Against

     Ponder, if you will, the following Bernard Kliban cartoon:

     It was possible to laugh at that cartoon when I first saw it. No longer.

     Not much room for “compromise” between those two sides, is there?

     One of the more effective tricks of would-be tyrants is to fire up the mob against some enemy, whether real or imaginary. People who are focused on hating someone or something will endure all manner of oppressions and exactions for the sake of victory. We might call this the “Emmanuel Goldstein tactic,” as a tribute to George Orwell’s “Party” in 1984. All the Twentieth Century tyrants used this technique to great advantage. The would-be tyrants of the American Left use it, too.

     Let it not be thought that only Leftists employ the technique. A focus on the political adversary can be used to deflect attention from betrayals in progress and from the failure to act on supposed high-priority agenda items. It can also be used to excuse concessions to the adversary. Sometimes such concessions are presented in a defensive light: “If we don’t do this, they will propose something even worse.” However, when “your side” currently has the majority, they’re more often couched as “compromises.”

     But why compromise? What’s the rationale?

     Compromise in politics is not the same as compromise in business. Business compromises normally arise from bargaining situations in which “splitting the difference” is the only way to strike a mutually agreeable deal: one in which each side is better off afterward, though not quite so much as it would have been had it received all of what it originally demanded. Compromise in politics has virtually no similarities to that process.

     Compromise in politics arises from the model of governance called authoritarian value allocation. In that model, rights are a nullity, for the State is deemed to be the de jure owner of everything, perhaps even the lives of its subjects. This gives rise to contending interest groups, each of which seeks to induce the State to give it as large a slice of the pie as possible. Individuals without a powerful group to represent them are defenseless against the State’s decisions. Rights as we understand them could take no part in such a process.

     In a polity whose laws are founded on rights, particularly property rights, interest groups’ ambitions are inherently limited. They cannot legitimately take what belongs to others. Granted that this is no longer the case in the U.S. since Kelo v. New London, it’s the way property rights are supposed to work: as defenses against predation by larger and stronger forces. When such predation is precluded ab initio, the possibility of legitimate compromise in politics is small.

     In a rights-based political system there is only one narrow region of possible compromise: subjects where there is legitimate uncertainty concerning the rights of two opposed parties. Rights are a human conception that seems to be well supported by human nature and human history. That doesn’t mean we can rely upon them absolutely as arbiters in every situation. There are important cases of lifeboat ethics that nicely illustrate the difficulties. I discuss some of them in this essay.

     Above and apart from the rightness or wrongness of political compromises, questions of whether to compromise in politics are often motivated by a desire for quiet, a hope that a “compromise” might quell an ongoing ruckus. “Give them something,” the reasoning usually goes, “and they’ll shut up and go away, at least for a while.” But when the ultimate aims of the contending forces are irreconcilable, it doesn’t work like that.

     A vignette related by Christopher Monckton is relevant here. As Monckton told it, a British Tory minister was being harangued by a group of Leftists about some subject under the heading of what Americans would call “public education.” The Tory wondered aloud whether he should offer the Leftists some sort of concession in the name of compromise and the spirit of good faith. Monckton counseled against any such gesture. He told the Tory that the Left regards any such offer as a sign of weakness: an indication that it’s time to move in for the kill. Whether the Tory minister took Monckton’s advice was not recorded.

     That is the most common misapplication of compromise in the realm of politics. It compounds a disregard for the defense of rights with a degree of wishful thinking: faults to which politicians are entirely too prone.

     The above thoughts were stimulated by this piece:

     Like it or not, we are in an existential struggle with the social justice left. They do not want to compromise. They don’t really even want to merely get their way. They want to annihilate opposing opinions. The whole point of calling everyone who disagrees with them Nazis is that punching Nazis is a socially acceptable solution. The only common debate about whether it would be okay to kill Hitler is about whether it would still be okay to travel back in time and kill him as an infant.

     It is therefore no great mystery why the left is becoming more and more comfortable with violence. You do not compromise with Nazis, you eliminate them.

     Author Matthew Cochran is entirely correct. The Left’s goals and its model of its adversaries make impossible a lasting agreement of any sort with them, even if such an agreement were morally acceptable. Indeed, the more candid ones have said that those of us who can’t be “re-educated” must simply be eliminated – executed. Their goal is absolute and unbounded power in perpetuity: a position that absolutely forbids the toleration of even a single dissident.

     They have already sanctioned the use of calumny, harassment, intimidation, vandalism, and personal violence against us. They will not withdraw the use of those tactics as long as they seem to get them closer to what they seek – and therefore, they will take any sort of concession or “compromise” as reinforcement for those tactics.

     Verbum sat sapienti.


xmaddad1 said...

Francis I know that you remember this, but, I fear most of our politicians have forgotten:

A.D. 980-1016

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Drake's Place said...

Great post, Francis. I'd never heard of the lifeboat ethics scenario. Whoa - some pretty tough questions it poses. Hope I never have to be in one.

Pascal said...

So first you prove the Sinister partisans' penchant to label all those who disagree with them on any matter large or small as the ultimate in racists -- Nazis.

Then you show how they have invoked the lesson of WW I "You do not compromise with Nazis, you eliminate them."

All that is lacking is a serious endeavor to prove how frequently they engage in projection -- they charge us with what they are actually planning, doing and are themselves embodying. I know a number of people for whom proof is already unneeded.

Cochran has shown us that the Sinister have sentenced themselves: You do not compromise with Nazis, you eliminate them.

Should the above appear convoluted, think about all the tactics that the Prog movement has employed to gain control of our institutions, which has played the major role in forming the battle fronts, and you realize this is simply the reality they have left us to face even should we not unravel it.

Reminder: it would be supremely unjust should leading Progs escape hardship in the engineered and seemingly unavoidable civil war.

Andy Texan said...

Democratic republics like the one we used to have are no match far the satanic ideology of the Left. Regular order of politics is failing. At some point the non-Left will have to adopt war-time ethics or perish.

Unknown said...

I am deeply ashamed that my instinct to hit back has been so compromised that I'm having to talk myself into it. Feminization, I call it. Tall, strong white males aren't allowed to have opinions any more, or so I told myself.

That time is over. My only worry is that I'll appear vehement, although vehemence has long been called for. Calm and inexorable is the order of the day.