Saturday, February 15, 2020

If You Need A Pandemic To Worry About...

     ...I think there’s a verifiable one in progress. Here are the symptoms du jour:

     Mind you, the Left’s hatred of the Right has a long lineage. You could argue that it began with Marx and Engels, though it took Lenin and Beria to perform the first instantiations on record. But the most recent outbreaks display the ferocity that characterizes a genuinely dangerous disease.

     To the best of my knowledge, while the Democrats were certainly willing to defame Barry Goldwater in his campaign for the presidency, no one suggested that he or any of his supporters belonged behind bars. No one attacked him or his supporters physically. At that point the hatred was still incubating.

     While the Left fulminated when the GOP renominated Richard Nixon in 1968, it was a phenomenon largely confined to the fringe: the outright socialists and communists, and the “student activists” who sought media attention for themselves. Leftists’ antipathy to Nixon had to wait for the Watergate scandal, at which point it could burst forth in the desired fashion. Their success in compelling him to leave office whetted their taste for further campaigns.

     Ronald Reagan’s campaign for the presidency excited the Left’s derision, but at first leftists and liberals were confident that he would lose: he was too old and too conservative to win a majority. Reagan’s smashing victory really got the ball rolling. President Reagan suffered denunciations America hadn’t seen since the Lincoln Administration – and if you’re not familiar with those, they make illuminating reading.

     Policy denunciations and belittlements were the fodder of the two Bush Administrations. However, the Bushes were personally warm and likeable, especially Bush the Younger a.k.a. Dubya, which made savage personal attacks on them politically unwise. There came a time of retrenchment. The Left needed a new and more assailable devil figure.

     Then came Donald Trump. He was an answer to the Left’s prayers: the exact opposite of its social-fascist hero Barack Hussein Obama. More, he had pledged to undo Obama’s “achievements” root and branch. His “America First” stance is the antidote to the Left’s principal political weapon: identity-group politics. And the more Trump has succeeded for America and Americans, the more the Left has hated and assaulted him, his agenda...and his lieutenants and supporters.

     As Aerich noted in yesterday’s citation from The Phoenix Guards, it can be dangerous to succeed where another has failed.

     The emotions are motivators. Indeed, if we omit the drives of the body for sustenance and safety, they’re the only motivators of importance. Once we understand what has elicited a strong emotion, we have a chance of making some headway to counter its effects – if countering its effects is what we decide is appropriate.

     The Left is currently in a state of great fear. It faces an opponent who has called it out, most recently and explicitly during his recent State of the Union speech. Moreover, he is in the process of demonstrating, even in the face of strong and sustained opposition from the political and media elites, that his positions are correct: the best ones for America and Americans generally.

     Fear’s natural companion is hatred:

     [H]atred is best combined with Fear. Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful—horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember; Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate. And Hatred is also a great anodyne for shame. [C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]

     It thus comes naturally to the Left to hate the man who is showing it up in such brilliant American colors. But of course, this combines naturally with a pre-existing hatred: the Left’s hatred of the sole unbending bastion against its ascension worldwide: the United States of America itself.

     The Left’s hatred has reached a pitch and tempo that demands its expression in action. We’ve seen expressions of that hatred ever more frequently as time has passed. From leftists in the political class we get demands for President Trump’s removal from office, his prosecution for imagined crimes, the confiscation of his wealth and businesses, and so forth. We also get crusades against those of his lieutenants who prove vulnerable, such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. We can expect more such between now and November 3.

     Lower-level supporters of President Trump and the GOP have suffered physical attacks with increasing frequency. You’ve read about them: assaults on citizens wearing MAGA hats, attacks on Republican voter-registration drives, and cases of vandalism against Republican district headquarters. There will be more. Not only are they the only things the Left can do to intimidate Trump supporters and conservatives generally out of participation in the political arena; they also help to assuage Leftists’ hatred of the man and his movement that are making them look like fools.

     It will continue. It will get worse as the year wears on. Whether it will cease after the election is doubtful. We must hope that it won’t deteriorate to open, blood-spilling warfare in the streets.

     And now, a coda:

     Coda n: a more or less independent passage, at the end of a composition, introduced to bring it to a satisfactory close.

     In this piece of yesterday, I counseled the reader not to panic: not to give in to hysteria that would cause him to sever all his ties with the world beyond his door. That is my assessment of Dr. John Campbell’s recommendations: that to subscribe to them fully would involve the severance of economic and interpersonal relations, with an effect on our society so devastating that only a threat on the order of the Black Death could make it seem appropriate.

     Fear can make us do things we would not otherwise do. Sometimes that’s appropriate. As I said yesterday, judicious fear – fear proportional to the dimensions of the threat – can be protective. But at this time, I dispute that the dimensions of the Coronavirus threat are well enough established to justify a contraction of our interactions that would effectively stop both our economy and our society.

     The Chinese are panicking. Perhaps they have a good reason. But the virus has not yet begun to spread to any great extent in North America. The most recent count of American cases I’ve seen is fourteen. Watchfulness and the avoidance of unnecessary risks are appropriate measures. More than that? I don’t think so. Choose according to your own judgment.


Glen Filthie said...

I’m not going to clutch my pearls and bemoan the lack of civility anymore. I’m not going to read any more tripe from Sloppy Williamson or cucks like Jonah Goldberg. If lefty wants to step outside and settle this... I am all for it.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

I’ve debated starting the Steven Brust books for years.

What book would you recommend beginning with, if you would recommend it?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Emmett: Brust has written in a number of contexts, but he's best known at this time for his two fantasy series set on the world of Dragaera. The longer one involves the travels and adventurers of Vladimir Taltos: human, assassin, crime boss, and minor noble in a despised noble house. There are fifteen discrete novels in that series. All of them are at least worth reading. The first of these is Jhereg. I would start there.

Alternately, the second of the Dragaera series centers on the career of Khavren, a Dragaeran who rises in the Imperial Service from his early (for a Dragaeran) youth. There are currently six novels in that series. The first of these is The Phoenix Guards.

Other books by Brust worth mentioning are his early novel To Reign in Hell, his vampire fantasy Agyar, and his "Dragaeran but off to the side" novel Brokedown Palace. They're all quite good.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

Thank you! The quote from the other day really piqued my interest.

S Richard said...

Marx and Engels thought that Lincoln was fighting a war to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx was even a signatory on the congratulatory letter sent to him by the International Workingmans Association after the election of 1864. The rhetoric almost sounds like 1858.

K Carmichael

Linda Fox said...

I'm cautiously on top of the Coronavirus situation. Not panicked, not rabid with fear - just quietly laying in basic supplies - N95 masks, bandages, alcohol, disinfectant, water filtration devices. Not only for myself, but making sure that my immediate family does the same. There is likely to be some disruption to medications in the short term, if China doesn't manage to get it under control.

We also have some immunocompromised relatives - cancer, diabetes, endocrine issues - I'm both concerned about needed medications without disruption, and about exposure to virii.

If they do beat it - this time - I'm expecting most pharmaceutical companies to bring at least PART of their manufacture either back here, or to another country.

If this gets loose in Africa, all hell will break loose. Just not sufficient and widespread sanitation, and way too many desperately poor people in the cities. On the positive side, it may finally bring some sense to the debate about bringing in immigrants who have not adopted Western sanitation standards.

Really, the thing that worries me the most is the fact that the data from China cannot be trusted. The same with any other Leftist-controlled country - their focus is on making those in power look good. It makes it hard to plan a response to any health crisis.