Thursday, May 28, 2020

Because They Can?

     There are a number of observable patterns about power, those who seek it, and those who attain it that the Wuhan Virus “crisis” has thrown into sharp relief. A great many Americans are taking notice of those patterns at long last. No small number or persons are straining to deny them, whether out of the need to wish them away or the recognition that they threaten oneself.

     One of those patterns pertains to the enjoyment of power. As I wrote about five years ago:

     The evil man, once he has some degree of power, will use it to acquire more, for power is a drug that doesn’t sate. However, the enjoyment of power requires that it be used. For, as O’Brien said to Winston in 1984, to enjoy your power, you must be actually coercing your victim at the moment:
     ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’
     Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.
     ‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’

     In this regard, it becomes vital that we understand how political power – power over others – differs from ability and / or the rightful possession of resources:

     Political power – i.e., power over others – is relational in nature. Its wielder requires victims upon whom to exercise his power. If he has no victims, his power is illusory. But by extension, the magnitude of his power can be measured by the number of his victims.

     Combine the above with the emotional structure of him who seeks power above all other things:

  • He sees himself principally – perhaps even exclusively – in relation to others.
  • Therefore, he is perpetually in competition with those others.
  • Defeating them is more important to him than any independent aspect of his accomplishments. Without them to measure himself against, he would feel his life to be meaningless.

     Now, that structure is not exclusive to the power-seeker. Persons in other fields exhibit it as well. They’re well represented in those fields where great achievement is celebrated by some highly publicized prize. But unlike one who seeks fortune and glory for a constructive achievement in the arts, sciences, commerce, or what-have-you, the power-seeker needs victims to reify his “victory.”

     This insight is what led me to the study of politics and government.

     Today we have a number of state governors determined to maintain their “orders” to close down all activity in their states to the point of madness. The term most often applied to these sweeping closures is “lockdown,” a word borrowed from the practices of high-security prisons. They have no Constitutional authority to do these things...yet they do them. There is no fact-based rationale by which to justify even a polite request that their residents remain immobile in their homes. Moreover, when confronted by any degree of resistance, they become enraged.

     Attempts to reason with the Gavin Newsoms, the Andrew Cuomos, the Gretchen Whitmers, and so on have all met with failure. Indeed, it could not have happened any other way, for no matter what “reason” a Newsom, Cuomo, or Whitmer might offer for a “lockdown” order, we are guaranteed that it will not be the real one. The real reason is the miscreant’s enjoyment of the exercise of power: “Because I can.”

     The dead giveaway is the governor’s self-exemption, and his exemption of those in his circle of intimates and favorites, from the rules he has decreed. No sincerely meant rationale about “keeping you safe” could be squared with allowing their loved ones to violate the rules intended to safeguard the rest of us. When caught in such a contradiction, they squirm visibly. If they cannot manage a deflection, they’ll counterattack with an ad hominem or a counter-allegation of evil motives.

     “By their fruits shall ye know them,” said the Redeemer, and indeed it is so. The fruits of these insanely protracted stay-at-home orders are entirely poison. Not the least of their bitter yield is the conditioning of millions of Americans to the notion that a government-declared “emergency” justifies executive dictatorship: abuses of power that would have had the Founding Fathers taking their muskets out of storage.

     Far too many of our countrymen have proved as unthinkingly submissive as sheep.

     There may be no way back after this. I’m not hopeful. In my admittedly minority opinion, violent rebellions against state governments that have acted this way would be fully justified. Yet to this point, the totality of the resistance to such tyranny has been simple defiance of the orders to remain closed.

     Where’s that planetoid, damn it? It’s badly needed and way past due.

1 comment:

JWM said...

Information overload. When this mess first started rolling I spent way too much time reading, reading, and reading every article I could find on line about the virus, the response to the virus, what was being done, could/should be done. I listened to Trumps press conferences every day.
What became apparent is that there was ample information to back up whatever it was you wanted to believe, all of it plausible, and seemingly authored by people with credible expertise.
The net effect isn't much different than having no information at all.

It does reveal one thing: The governor, the county official, the city council have no better access to information than you or I. They don't have a special secret line on the Truth.

This reduces the authority behind their mandates to, "Because I said so, that's why." Power, pure and simple. And it makes sense. Why does anyone pursue elected office? Altruism? A deep desire to serve? Or a deep desire to say, "Because I said so, that's why?"

The mystery to me is the legions of the compliant. The separation of the unmasked from the faceless. I understand a frail senior wearing a mask in the grocery store. But a healthy, athletic thirty year old out on the bike path, or at the beach?
The mask has become a symbol. It separates us into two camps, and the hostility between is becoming palpable. Both sides have their opinions cast in concrete. I plead guilty. I find the masking unbearably creepy. The Faceless look like compliant sheep. I'm sure the Faceless see the unmasked as reckless, stupid, and totally uncaring about other people.
The wedge is being driven deeper and deeper. I wish I could escape the pessimism.