"And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps." ~ H.L. Mencken
Lions and Tigers and Trumps, Oh My!
Column by Mark Davis.
Exclusive to STR
Auntie Em: Help us out today and find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble!
Dorothy: A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain... [singing] Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Bluebirds fly. Birds fly Over The Rainbow. Why then, oh why can't I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?
The Yellow Brick Road to Progressive Nirvana, where everybody bows to state doctrine promulgating the fantastical desires of central planners backed by violence, is littered with progressive psyches. The progressive beat-down on people who resisted assimilation conducted by the corporate media, politicians and academia over the past eight years has taken a temporary pause with the election of President Donald J. Trump. The arrogant, hypocritical elites peddling visions of rainbows and bluebirds to all self-anointed victims of society are freaking out as Toto pulls the curtain back to expose the media wanna-be wizards who conjured up this culture of fear. The bi-coastal havens for milquetoast intellectuals heretofore thought to be impregnable safe-spaces from which to spew their hatred of American traditions, values and culture have been compromised by the sometimes unpredictable God of Democracy. Good riddance, petty tyrants; seize the day, patriots.
The seemingly endless meltdown exhibited by so many in reaction to the results of the popularity contest used by statists every four years to determine the Supreme Leader of the Free World appears to have gone beyond any sane concept of rationality. The rank hypocrisy, lack of logic and self-righteous arrogance on display makes one question the future of our country, our culture and perhaps even civilization itself. Perhaps, this too is part of the elite “final solution” to break the resistance of the little people under their rule? It’s hard to believe that the elite string-pullers could be so horribly wrong so often while acting so obtuse about it. Regardless of whether it is elite planning or elite incompetence that brought us to this crossroads, the best response to their tyranny is breaking the unwieldy super-sized state that seeks to be the “Policeman of the World” into smaller and smaller political units. Like, down to the family and the individual.
The recent events demonstrating the profound immaturity of those generally referring to themselves as “progressives” have gone from amusing to pitiful to pathetic. I’ve gone from wondering “When will it stop?” to “Will it ever stop?” Regardless, this display of statists eating their own bodes well for an evolving voluntary society supplanting the delegitimized institutions the elite have used for so long to impose a coercive society upon us all. At the very least, the trend over the past 200 or so years of expanding the power of the democratic-corporate-state is finally getting some serious pushback. A collapse of this formerly revered institution appears imminent as forces from within continue to pull it apart.
President Trump will likely continue leading Americans down the Yellow Brick Road to the police state that so many seem to crave for security, but he did throw a big monkey wrench into the gears of the elite vehicle being used to take us there. I have no doubt that President Trump will cut a deal with the establishment power brokers, if he hasn’t already, in order to maintain the power of his office and make it possible for him to govern using said vehicle, at least superficially. If he doesn’t, then the elite will have him “taken care of.” However, a window of opportunity for voluntaryists is wide open right now.
The progressive ideology has been exposed as inherently violent, unsustainable and hypocritical to its core, exhibiting massive internal contradictions which members of this cult simply continue to ignore. Such as equating theft with charity, threats with good will, obedience with endorsement, sympathy with respect, victimhood with dignity, democracy with liberty, slavery with freedom and, ultimately, fantasy with reality. Progressives preach diversity while brutally enforcing conformity. They demand pledges of obedience to the state as a duty when they control it and then call loudly for protest and disobedience when they don’t; speak endlessly of tolerance as they practice the most insidious forms of intolerance. To add insult to injury, the best defense offered for this string of abuses being revealed to the world through their own words and actions is to shoot the messengers pointing out those abuses.
For instance, the reason given that Hillary Clinton lost the recent election isn’t because she is a corrupt liar representing the hated establishment, no, it is because the voters became aware of these monumental failings in her character through channels not supported by the establishment. The rank hypocrisy of progressives was clearly demonstrated by the meme that voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman was wonderful and enlightened, but if you didn’t vote for her, for whatever reason, then you are a misogynist and uneducated. Of course, they got away with the vote for the black guy because he’s a black guy and if you don’t then you’re a racist meme (twice), so they obviously figured it could work again. But it didn’t, and they are really angry about it.
When the result of planned actions don’t match what you expected to happen, internal chaos ensues often leading to intense anger; like when Clinton lost the election that all progressives believed she already had in the bag. This caused their psychological breakdown and they have been scrambling to find a reason for this public failure by lashing out and placing blame on others. This has been the way of petty tyrants for time immemorial. So, how did we get to this point?
A good place to start is with what some call the Culture War. This term is used to describe how traditional shared belief systems (e.g. morals, culture) of common folk are being destroyed and replaced by elite manipulation and force. The moral systems that have united Western Civilization are barely hanging on for dear life. Science has replaced mysticism while experts and politicians have replaced priests, but the age-old debate between opposing factions as to what principle is best to organize society around, either voluntary cooperation or coerced collaboration, is still there. In the end, we are left with the question of how we should act, both individually and collectively.
A sustainable culture requires a consensus of morality based on a set of preconceived prepositions as to what is right and wrong. Western or European culture evolved over thousands of years such that what became known as Natural Rights (based on the value of the individual) evolved as a cohesive preposition; it has constantly been attacked by those who lost this debate who have a morality that perceives the individual as having no distinct value other than as a part of the collective. Basically, a return to barbarism. We need to have a functional set of common morals (culture) for society to rise out of barbarism.
As an aside, the concept of rights has been debated heatedly by many on this website of late. I recognize that rights, including Natural Rights, are a “social construct,” but so what? So is every other concept we use to organize our lives into meaningful endeavors such as good and evil, proper and improper, left and right, up and down, pleasant and unpleasant, language, honesty, truth, and on and on. We need these concepts to help us make sense of the world. Social constructs are a good thing! It helps to recognize them as such if one wishes to be intellectually honest, which I do. However, the scourge of relativism has used this understanding as a criticism to undermine otherwise solid principles that evolved over millennia by people seeking to better their lives and society. Established myths and even fantastical stories are social constructs used to learn and develop morals and principles that help us to prosper (use ‘em or lose ‘em).
Central narratives or common myths bind us together because they provide guidelines of how to act. The power of the Bible, great novels, poems, songs, philosophical treatises, legends and folklore work as cohesive forces in society. Humans need these tools to organize sustainable social networks. Undermining traditional narratives, myths and concepts through purposeful action and replacing them with specific alternative narratives, myths and concepts is the stuff of social revolutions. These tools evolved over thousands of years as wise men have long generally sought enlightenment and truth, but now this organic process has been commandeered by an elite enamored with the scientific method in search of “a more perfect union.” And the rest of us have been relegated to the status of lab rats to be studied by some newly created expert on genetics, sociology, women’s studies, African-American studies, gay, lesbian and transsexual studies, etc. This promotion of chaos to foment a revolution against traditional morals is not a random event.
Achieving peace and harmony in a society requires a general match between personal belief systems (conscience) and collective belief systems (culture); when there is not a good match, society becomes engulfed with strife and conflict. It is constructive to ponder this complex phenomenon a little deeper if we are to overcome these seemingly subtle manipulations.
People are innately territorial and social – home is the known world where we are familiar with the places and people while the world outside of that territory is unexplored, dangerous and something to fear. We instinctively seek to protect our homes and families. When the territory and society called home is no longer a “safe space” because the traditional boundaries have been obliterated by the intelligentsia, media and political power brokers, people resist. Some fight back, especially when they feel like their “backs are against the wall.”
Further, people want to be happy, but these days have less and less idea what makes them happy. The desire to feel good is a universal ideal, driving people to seek happiness by doing things that make them feel good. Humans develop a sense for primary reward responses that satisfy desires and make them happy. These life skills, starting with a sense of self that gives one some idea as to the best paths available to pursue happiness, are sadly lacking these days. More and more children are coddled such that they are becoming profoundly incompetent to perform basic life skills. This babying results in dysfunctional adults who become gripped with fear when faced with simple tasks or simple ideas that they have been “protected” from learning. For instance, if one has never learned to make meaningful value judgements, life becomes unmanageable, leading to fear and loathing of those who are competent and confident in their decision making. When one has no idea of which life path is ideal for them, specifically, unhappiness follows and others provide substitutes. Being told what to do becomes a way of life until they are conditioned such that they want--or even believe they need--others to rule them.
Cooperation is based on people having a similar belief system (culture) so that they can project a reasonable outcome for their combined actions. Culture mitigates fear and chaos by providing a stable environment to make reasonable projections. When nothing is certain, people don’t know how to act. Discipline, regularity and structure are calming forces for natural anxiety impulses when reacting to others. Mental health requires a routine, including when to eat, sleep and work. Natural rhythms and moods will stabilize when life has structure and events become generally predictable.
People need meaning in life to keep going day after day. Culture gives life meaning by providing a way to look at the world beyond oneself – a cultural identity; this social construct helps to regulate emotional responses to events, especially to traumatic events. Culture is routine on a collective scale. Thus, personal and collective regularity tends to stabilize the nervous system and lead to healthy lives and societies.
Small groups of people can work out commitments for individual responsibilities to each other through direct communication as to expectations of possible paths and outcomes of their cooperation. Larger groups require more complex forms of communication such as morals, norms of behavior and traditional methods and responsibilities that make up a culture. Elite contempt for the masses has led them to undermine the existing culture by delegitimizing traditional myths in order to increasingly impose authoritarian rule – reputedly for our own good. This has become easier as populations/collectives have grown too large to be functional; therefore, secession into smaller groups is the only way to resolve these unhealthy conditions.
The ability to make rational value judgements is key to determining the proper actions to take. Value systems are needed to be able to apply knowledge when formulating proper actions (what to do?). Beyond accumulating factual knowledge, one must know how to implement those facts into plans (where do I start?). Of course, one must then act – which requires confidence. Scaling back the size of our social circles from universal to local is a good start. One’s friends and family need to again be more important than trying to “save” the world, mankind, the climate, the oceans, race relations, and every other contrived universal concern meant to make individuals feel small and impotent relative to these “great causes” and thus yearning for guidance from elite experts.
Relativism has no truth, the truth is replaced with what is official, what is legal. This makes it easier to manipulate people as truth becomes a matter of faith, faith in rulers. Feelings become more important than logic, reason, morals and facts. Traditional standards of truth developed over thousands of years are undermined. Today in the era of “political correctness,” truth telling has become a revolutionary act. Distinguishing between good and evil is thus left to rulers. Our rulers have ruled that criminals are the victims of made-up social constructs and thus blameless for their actions, which leaves the real victims of their crimes powerless, if not totally crushed in the process.
People are always in a state of insufficiency that we wish to alleviate. Scarcity is a fact of life and we must learn to deal with it. We strive to better the conditions of our lives, which inherently includes value judgements. We calculate that there is a better set of conditions than what we are now subject to. We bring about these better conditions through our purposeful actions. This process starts with a concept (thinking/abstract) that is transformed through action into reality using a value-laden framework to view the world; what is – how we should act – how we want to be. A seemingly simple formula on the surface. Understanding the impact of time preference (e.g., sacrificing effort today for future benefits) on this formulation affects the outcome profoundly.
The successful adaptations we make to environmental stimuli help us to learn by conceptualizing situations rightly and wrongly. This learning process of going through variations of the different dramatic events that make up life help us to not make the same mistakes again. This is how we learn how to take responsibility for our actions, develop competence and gain confidence. The ability to better orient ourselves in the world (understanding what is good and bad) is crucial to success as we move through life. This is what inspires admiration and contempt, eventually developing the categorization of opportunities and prioritization of actions to take. That is, the ability to make value judgements between opportunities that become available – this is life; not what you wish and hope for, but what is actually there.
Basically, understanding our desires and motivations as well as that of others is how we learn to cooperate for mutual benefit. Linking disparate patterns and phenomena to achieve enlightenment as to possibilities of action is what makes cooperation successful, not the amount of power used by others to impose their will upon us and certainly not abdicating freewill to the dictates of others, whether because of fear or lack of confidence in one’s own abilities to navigate the complexities of life. Luckily we have inherited the remnants of a culture that once instilled these qualities and help guide us in life, but we need to recognize and hopefully stop its decline.
Humans have been given a gift: the ability to determine an optimal value-laden framework that can be used to set and then achieve goals. Natural value-laden systems evolve morals and principles to live by (culture) while authoritarian/progressive value-laden systems are imposed by central planners based on experts/scientific research. Order is where things happen as we planned them to happen and chaos is where things don’t happen as we planned or envisioned them happening. Only confused people lacking competence and confidence see order in slavery. The worst kind of chaos is when you did something wrong, especially when you knew it was wrong when you did it, yet did it anyway. Chaos is thus related closely to the trauma of failure. Well, here we are.
Progressives thought that the destruction of our traditional culture would allow them to remake our society into some kind of worldwide “brotherhood of man” such that we could all go somewhere over the rainbow where there are no troubles, yet this inherently violent anti-human political program masquerading as bluebirds singing songs of unity has resulted in so much strife and conflict that the progressive agenda has obviously failed. These sad souls remain clueless as to what they have done wrong and are lashing out at those who resisted their agenda as racists, misogynists, uneducated, unwashed and generally just deplorable human beings, indeed, sub-human. President Trump has become the symbol of the failure of progressivism.
Progressives sought to replace everything social with everything political (i.e. socialism), so it is politics that gives their lives meaning. Ah, the folly of man. Of course, the state itself is still an abomination and jumping on the Trump Ship of State will lead to the continued deterioration of social cohesion and our culture of independence traditionally based on the primacy of the individual, but he has slowed the Ship before it hit a huuuuge iceberg. I, for one, certainly prefer a peaceful transfer of power from the political back to the social. So, I can thank him for that.
These historical conditions have allowed those who wish to reassert traditional values and morals that make up our culture an opportunity to capitalize on the de-legitimization of the state as a functioning institution. President Trump, if successful in motivating people to work together such that some temporary general improvement in the lives of many occurs, the state will garner accolades as the reason for this success. The state’s minions always take the credit for the success of others and blame others for their failures. It is the nature of the beast.
If President Trump fails, hold on to your hats, the state’s days will be numbered. The reversal of roles on the political stage will continue to undermine the credibility of this archaic institution used to rule us. You can be sure that the establishment media, quasi-intelligentsia, academia and progressive shock troops on the front lines of the Culture War will regroup and do everything they can to make him fail. Although a successful Trump renovation of the state’s reputation among some could instill a renewed faith in the state as a functional institution, it will not last long because the state is based on central planners imposing their will through violence, making it inherently unstable. So this, too, will pass. States are breaking up all over the world and this trend will continue; as they say, “The genie’s out of the bottle.” Liberty will prevail in the end when enough people value it and are willing to fight for it.
P.S.: The reason that conservatives didn’t fall to pieces when Bill Clinton took office following the Reagan/Bush regime and after Obama was elected following eight years of rule by Bush II, is that they have a deeper sense of culture that gives them structure and meaning in life. There were no violent protests by conservatives or public crying and whining about losing a popularity contest used to determine who gets to wear the “Ring of Power.” The reason that so many progressives are having mental breakdowns these days, complete with intense anger and impetuous violence, is the nihilism of their philosophy that does not allow for meaningful value judgments as to morals, culture and social norms. Indeed, they scorn these ideals as boorish, uneducated and ultimately stupid (you know, social constructs). This is why libertarians can typically tolerate conservative statists longer than progressive statists: a common respect for social norms not imposed by the state. Most libertarians find it preferable to deal with shaming and being shunned for a social faux pas than being jailed and/or killed for it (the difference between social correctness and political correctness). Unfortunately, too many conservatives believe that the state is a necessary “evil” institution because it is needed to protect their culture and society, even while this evil is demonstrably being used to destroy their culture and society. But that is a column for another day.