Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Civil War II Journal: To See, You Must Look

     The more you look, the more you see. -- Robert M. Pirsig

     The observation above seems a tautology. Its import rests on connotations that strike some as “obvious” but leave others scratching their heads:

  • To look is an act of volition; it requires the willingness to see.
  • To see is to perceive reality and to accept it as supreme over all preconceptions about it.

     As with so many other things, it does seem perfectly simple once you understand it:

     Almost all knowledge, after all, fell into that category. It was either perfectly simple once you understood it, or else it fell apart into fiction. As a Jesuit—even here, fifty light-years from Rome—Ruiz-Sanchez knew something about knowledge that Lucien le Comte des Bois-d’Averoigne had forgotten, and that Cleaver would never learn: that all knowledge goes through both stages, the annunciation out of noise into fact, and the disintegration back into noise again. The process involved was the making of increasingly finer distinctions. The outcome was an endless series of theoretical catastrophes.
     The residuum was faith.

     [James Blish, A Case of Conscience ]

     The chaos of contemporary sociodynamics arises from a rampant particularism: the assignment of personal allegiances to ever more narrowly defined groups or – in the current argot – “identities.” Today the focus is upon political and racial allegiances.

     It’s an open secret that political affiliation tends to condition attitudes toward lawbreakers and miscreants. For example, as the mainstream media are now firmly aligned with the Left, they routinely downplay horrors committed by the Left and its mascot groups. When we in the Right dare to expose such media malfeasance, Leftists try their damnedest to silence us. Failing that, they strive to shout us down: “Racist!” “Sexist!” “Homophobe!” “Xenophobe!” and so forth.

     The mainstream media also strain to give the Left’s preferred coloration to the statements and actions of politicians in the Right. Who could possibly forget how the media characterized President Trump’s magnificent Mount Rushmore speech? “Divisive” was the mildest of their condemnations. Anyone who listened to the speech or read the transcript would know the condemnations for lies...but persons on the Left would rather swallow the media’s portrayal uncritically, in a state of self-imposed ignorance, than check it against the facts.

     Is it possible that we in the Right are guilty of the same sort of self-imposed blindness in the service of our partisanry? Yes, it is. However, I can’t put my finger on an example of it. That should tell you something as well, especially if you can cite examples of it.

     Allegiance groups are hardening the boundaries that define them, partly in response to the hostility of their opponents, but also to keep their allegiants within them. Fewer and fewer persons are actually willing to look. The consequences for what they see “should” be “obvious.”

All the Protestants...hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics...hate the Protestants,
All the Hindus hate all the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews!

[Tom Lehrer, “National Brotherhood Week”]

     Left versus Right. Black versus White. Urban versus Suburban / Rural. Muslims versus Non-Muslims. Homosexuals versus Heterosexuals. White Collar versus Blue Collar. And Establishmentarians versus Everybody Else.

     I am put in mind of George Alec Effinger’s marvelous, horrifying short story “All The Last Wars At Once.” What will be left when the shooting stops? Will there be a foundation upon which we can reconstruct our traditional E Pluribus Unum? Will there be anything worth saving?

     Unclear. Massively unclear! And mortally frightening to those who love this country and its ideals, and who honor those who have labored, sacrificed, and bled to actualize them. Millions of good-hearted people from coast to coast are screaming for it to stop, to recognize the brotherhood of all men and return to public order. They’ve had enough and they want their country’s previous, admittedly imperfect harmony restored.

     I can’t convince myself that it’s possible. The divisions have been cleaved too deeply. The hatreds have been too greatly inflamed. And some of the groups involved have admitted quite candidly that their aim is to destroy the American sociopolitical order. In favor of what? It varies...but the destruction of the existing order, they maintain, is absolutely required.

     I look with both eyes open, and that is what I see.

     I want to be wrong about this. I want the country of my youth back; yea verily, just as much as I want my youth back. But the more I look, the more evidence I see that the struggle has become total and final: those who cherish America as it was versus those who seek to tear it down. I remain alert for evidence to the contrary. Where is it?

     Where are the Leftists who will restrain their violent ideological brethren?
     Where are the blacks who will discipline their unruly co-racialists?
     Where are the homosexuals who want only to be left in peace?
     Where are the Muslims who will corral the jihadis?

     And where oh where are the academics, entertainers, and assorted glitterati who will rein in their fellows who persistently condemn us in the Right as ignorant, subhuman, aspiring totalitarians?

     To any men of good will who sit silent among the left-inclined, the blacks, the homosexuals, the Muslims, and the rest: Show yourselves! If you retain your decency, step forward. Proclaim the brotherhood of man: that as we are equal in our Creator’s eyes, we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That all lives matter! Rebuke and restrain those of your particular “identity” who would dare to say otherwise. Else I will disbelieve in you. I will have no choice.

     I will continue to look, and I will report what I see.


Mountain Rat said...

We must stop looking back, we must stop with the comforting fantasy of restoring what was. We must look forward with vision to build a better country and a better future. I believe it will require an insane amount of hardship and pain.

Despite being thoroughly discredited communism keeps rising form the ashes. I don't have any answers on how we fix this (well I sorta do, but best keep them to myself) but I know we must look forward and not to the past. "The past is a foreign country, they do things different there."


And leave us not forget all sorts of outside actors eager for the chance to end us should the US dissolve into chaos. It would not surprise me to learn that Russia and/or China had EMP weapons on ships on standby ready to "innocuously sail" should the US collapse. 10 minutes or less, and the US is over forever.

Paul Bonneau said...

"And some of the groups involved have admitted quite candidly that their aim is to destroy the American sociopolitical order."

There is something I like to refer to as "sampling error". The overheated (and probably drug induced) bloviations of certain persons are certainly newsworthy, but somehow I doubt their ability to pull it off, given the mass of armed individuals out there to oppose it.

The reason that some countries turn into shitholes (or never found their way out of that condition) has a lot more to do with the mental habits of the average Jack and Jill, than what "leaders" like to go on about. Our end will have a lot more to do with how average people justify their actions against their neighbors.

"Is it possible that we in the Right are guilty of the same sort of self-imposed blindness in the service of our partisanry? Yes, it is. However, I can’t put my finger on an example of it."

One of the justifications for the adoption of government schooling was "to Christianize the Catholics" (mainly Irish). This was a very conservative notion. To this day conservatives still are great fans of government schooling for the purpose of indoctrination; otherwise they would all abandon those schools in a moment. It's not indoctrination per se that they oppose, but the fact their preferred indoctrination has been dumped in favor of something more "liberal". It matters to conservatives not at all, that government schooling is a form of socialism and welfare.

In the end, we have to survive, and will do what it takes to make that happen - ideally with a society that is decent and can be appreciated. The labels that we see everywhere are mostly distractions.

"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."
-- Robert Heinlein