Sunday, December 29, 2019


     First, a few words of warning: When social and political affairs seem to be sliding through the gray zone from “traditionally unsettled” and toward “I fear she’s about to shake herself apart, Captain!”, it pays to watch for portents of certain kinds. A dear departed friend, who was more sensitive than most to such conditions, counseled a policy of restraint by default. As best I recall, this is what he said:

     If you go out on your front step with your musket, and you can see from there that your neighbors have done the same, then it’s time to march. But if you can see that you’re alone in having done so, go back inside and close the door.

     There’s a lot of wisdom in there, yet it overlooks a particular need: in every case of a great change in the affairs of men, regardless of how in the aftermath it seems to have been a spontaneous mass uprising, someone – some specific individual – is first to commit himself. The odds are against it being you, but it just might turn out to be your job.

     That having been said, caution is always advisable. Don’t step up to the plate unless you’ve pondered the potential consequences yet are ready, willing, and able to swing.

     Sarah Hoyt has become concerned about some portents she’s observed:

     Disinformation campaigns – it has become obvious that there are several disinformation campaigns going on. The Steele Dossier might be the most innocent of those because it was aimed at the press and high level political stuff. But look, in a global world, where trolls can be had for very cheap abroad, and where the opinion making is moving off the main stream media and onto blogs and websites, the enemies of the US both internal and external (FYI most of them are a continuum, honestly) WILL use cheap trolls for disinformation but more importantly to shape mood and influence reactions (Facebook ran studies on this since 2015. WHAT do you think it’s being used for?)

     We’re no longer in the land of the copy-pasta trolls we’ve all known since 9/11. These are highly sophisticated and can make softheads of some fairly smart and influential people.

     You can tell it’s a campaign though through several signals:

     The first and most important is that it comes LITERALLY out of nowhere. I.e. it might be a perennial issue, and one the right roughly agrees on, but suddenly it’s EVERYWHERE at once.

     The recent “ahhhhhh porn!” campaign is typical of this. Suddenly, it was everywhere. Friends (okay, okay, acquaintances. Those people are nuts) who are on the chans tell me these are tested there first, and from there appear in fringe blogs that are … uh…. not necessarily what they seem to be. Or at least some of them aren’t.

     And then with amazing suddenness it’s everywhere, including the most respectable sites on the right/libertarian spectrum.

     She’s right. The recent gambits about trying to get pornography banned are exactly that: thrusts by agents provocateur intended to induce statements and acts of unwisdom in the pro-freedom ranks. I commented on it myself:

     Consider for a moment the reinvigorated issue of pornography, which is more easily obtained today than ever before. Recently op-ed articles have appeared claiming that scientific evidence has established that porn is harmful to its consumer, irrespective of his age, sex, or orientation. The proponents have claimed that this constitutes an argument for outlawing porn. Now, that’s not a complete argument for outlawing something; if it were, cigarettes would have been outlawed decades ago. But it does at least suggest that the sober-minded citizen should review the evidence, if only for his own sake and the sake of his dependents.

     However, at the time I had not thought about the thrust in tactical or strategic terms. Sarah did:

     It was a campaign designed to divide the right, specifically; one that’s hard to answer, because honestly who is PRO porn; and one that was designed to weaken the first amendment, which is congruent with the left’s aims. (Give government a chance to regulate porn, and everything from “gun porn” to “religious porn” can be forbidden. In fact, China bans “unrealistic” stories under that heading. Think about it.)

     Also, note, when most of the right from libertarians to conservatives went “wait, what” the entire topic went away, very rapidly.

     But mostly, mostly, the main thing to look at is “What in heck brought this obsession about?” “What brought this up, all of a sudden?”

     Those of us in the pro-freedom Right who pride ourselves on seeing widely rather than narrowly “should” have realized that at the outset. Many didn’t – and in “many” I must include myself.

     Such attempts to shock the enemy into making a mistake are portents of note.

     If you’re unfamiliar with the Nolan Chart, Wikipedia has a pretty fair article on it. David Nolan composed it in 1969: 50 years ago. In its original form it looked like this:

     At the time of its composition and for a while afterward, it was a pretty good pictorialization of the attitudes of the four ideological families indicated in the four quadrants:

  1. Liberals were promoters of personal freedom but hostile to economic freedom;
  2. Conservatives were promoters of economic freedom but hostile to personal freedom;
  3. Authoritarians were hostile to all freedom;
  4. Libertarians were promoters of all freedom.

     (NB: The graph does omit considerations of foreign policy and international dealings, but for near-term purposes we may neglect this.)

     But much time has passed since then. There have been attitudinal changes of significance that I would call “a rotation of the axes:”

  1. Liberals have gradually moved away from the promotion of personal freedom, especially freedom of expression;
  2. Conservatives have gradually moved toward the promotion of personal freedom, including freedom to use, nourish, and drug one’s body as one pleases.

     Mind you, this axis-rotation is hardly a uniform matter. However, among vociferous liberals – mostly they call themselves “progressives” these days – there has been a trend toward censorship in the name of suppressing “hate speech,” and a trend against freedom of assembly that manifests itself whenever Right-leaning groups attempt to hold a gathering for any reason. Similarly, conservatives have found themselves moving toward the unqualified defense of freedom of expression and assembly, while softening their traditional opposition to recreational drug use, sex for hire, and the tolerance of sexual variations. These trends are visible in many venues where such groups speak their minds.

     When one asks “Why,” he encounters a chicken-or-egg problem. It is possible that the changes in liberals’ and conservatives public stances are purely tactical – attempts to secure a greater purchase on popular sentiment. But it is also possible that in each case considered separately from the other, the changes arose from a dawning realization that some of their previous stances could not be maintained without undermining their positions on something they valued more highly.

     This sort of melding of the families – on one side toward complete authoritarianism; on the other toward complete advocacy of freedom – is a portent of importance. It’s the kind of event that augurs the drawing of battle lines just before a real, flying-lead battle.

     I’m not trying to frighten anyone; I’m just doing my usual thing, tracing out important patterns as they become visible to me. But I must admit to being frightened for my own sake, as an old man with a diminishing ability to defend the people and places he loves.

     To me, the portents suggest that the New Year will feature steadily intensifying social, economic, and political combat. Thrusts of all kinds – rhetorical, electoral, legislative, and executive – would become ever more vicious. It could erupt into a low-grade war, in which persons on the Left are literally at cudgels with us in the Right, rather than figuratively as it’s been up to now. We’ve already had enough assaults by “AntiFa” on persons in the Right who assembled to express themselves. Remember, also, that various commentators on the Left defended those assaults as somehow “justified” in opposition to “hate speech” or “fascism.”

     The elections of November 2020 will be pivotal. If either President Trump or his Democrat opponent ekes out a narrow victory, or we have another split between the national popular vote and the Electoral College, it will intensify the likelihood of violence, especially in urban and semi-urban areas. However, if either side wins by an indisputable margin – a landslide or near to one – the probability of an interval of peace will be strengthened. (No, the losers wouldn’t be happy, but the recognition that “their moment” was yet to come would persuade them to pull in their horns for the time being.)

     So depending on how likely you deem each of those possibilities, you might want to start looking for a mountaintop to fortify, as all the easily refurbished abandoned missile silos have been taken. In any case, do try to have a Happy New Year.


mobius said...

Way ahead of you. Stay below the ridgeline.


Anticipating... "situations" I've ordered a new CCW holster. Especially for when I wear my Trump kippa.

Tracy Coyle said...

Regarding the shifts: Back in 2008 I argued that if you [meaning conservatives] were going to support individual liberty, individual rights, then you had to support gay marriage. Of course I was told 'historically, traditionally, biologically....' which were reasons NOT to support such individuality compromised their principle of individual rights.

Whether it was 'giving up a battle lost' or recognition of the conflict, it moved the 'window'. I think a good thing. Of course, even too much of good things can be bad - so the restrictions need to be defined - and they were, by the LEFT! with "that OFFENDS me" being a manifestation of it.

I will be on the ridge...I will leave the porch...I won't be huddled in the basement hoping others fight my fights.

Ed Bonderenka said...

"Conservatives were promoters of economic freedom but hostile to personal freedom;"
hostile to personal freedom?
If you define "hostile to in my face sexual perversion" as "hostile to personal freedom", you've lost me.
The statement neglects our support of the Constitution as envisioned by the Founders.

Also, it's gonna take a nationally respected leader to step up and call out the musket bearers. I'm not stepping out of the door without knowing who's calling me out, for what.

Andy Texan said...

International communism has changed its spots and is now known as global corporate oligopoly. Unfortunately they have a significant head start (at least since 1965). The historic American nation has been swamped by the tidal wave of purposeful alien invasion. The good ship American is foundering and short of drastic authoritarian action will be sunk. We must declare the first American republic at an end. Following appropriate action against an implacable enemy within, a second republic can be founded. Seriously it is us or them at this point.