February 16, 2007

On cultural materialism, language, and the progressive gambit

From Linda Kimball at Amercan Thinker, a broad but interesting historical overview of the path Cultural Marxism has cut through the American political scene.  Writes Kimball:

It is said that courage is the first of the virtues because without it fear will paralyze man, thus keeping him from acting upon his moral convictions and speaking truth.  Thus bringing about a general state of paralyzing fear, apathy, and submission—the chains of tyranny—is the purpose behind psychopolitical cultural terrorism, for the communist Left’s revolutionary agenda must, at all costs, be clothed in darkness.

The antidote is courage and the light of truth.  If we are to win this cultural war and reclaim and rebuild America so our children and their children’s children can live in a ‘Shining City on the Hill’ where liberty, families, opportunity, free markets, and decency flourish, we must muster the courage to fearlessly expose the communist Left’s revolutionary agenda to the Light of Truth.  Truth and the courage to speak it will set us free.

There is much truth to this—individuals must stand up both to the tyranny of political correctness and the identity politics that authors and demands it, lest individualism itself is subsumed by the collectivism I’ve gone to great lengths to point out animates many of the so-called “progressive” social movements, and, by way of fear (disguised as tolerance, which today translates to the disinclination to pass judgment on “Others”), has insinuated itself into social policy and law.

And so, while I disagree with Kimball’s implication that the way to avoid the pitfalls of cultural materialism is to embrace a metaphysical worldview (the preference being given to western monotheism)—though that may be one way to combat the deconstruction of truth in favor of consensus identity narratives and a will to power, it certainly isn’t a prerequisite, as it is just as easy to reject the project from within the materialist worldview described by the linguistic turn—I do agree that, as Kimball notes, in the advocacy of political correctness1, it is easy to locate the

strong suggestion [...] that in order for one not to be thought of as racist or fascist, then one must not only be nonjudgmental but must also embrace the ‘new’ moral absolutes: diversity, choice, sensitivity, sexual orientation, and tolerance. Political correctness is a Machiavellian psychological ‘command and control’ device.  Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.

Regular pw readers know by now just exactly how this gambit works:  sub sects within individual identity groups vie for control over the group narrative, which, once it is has been decided upon, becomes an orthodoxy, capable of acting as an arbiter of “authenticity”; from there, the cultural relativism many find in the wake of “contingency” allows only those deemed authentic to level “legitimate” criticism against the group—which is itself a cynical ploy, as those whose criticisms might challenge the kernel assumptions of the group narrative have already been bracketed, and so lack the requisite authenticity necessary to give their criticisms force.

This embrace of authenticity as a determining factor for legitimate criticism—the Orientalist critique of Edward Said stripped of all its academic pretense—then sets the stage for the kind of “tolerance” that is, from the perspective of individualism, Orwellian in its application.  Which is to say, “tolerance” becomes the enforcement of adherence to the cult of authenticity, and those who don’t accept the premise and who criticize identity groups from without are labeled bigots, misogynists, racists, haters, and cultural imperialists.

And it is precisely the fear of being labeled such that gives the new “tolerance” its force—in effect, constraining individualism by turning it into a pathology and a heresy insofar as the individual either sways from his prescribed identity group, or presumes to speak to issues or concerns that “belong” to Others.

I’ve noted on many occasions that I believe the animating principal that allows this maneuvering to work occurs on the linguistic level—particularly, with the decades long movement to decouple meaning from intent.  This attempt to “democratize” meaning—a populist euphemism that blinds us to what is essentially a shift in the agency priviliged in hermeneutic engagements—is what (in my opinion, at least) prepares the ground for the social revolution cultural materialism hopes to bring about from within the structures of western liberalism.  That is, once we accept that meaning is a product of cultural consensus rather than of individual intent, we have accepted the very premise that allows cultural materialism to take root in social policy and then to fossilize itself in law.

Each time we cede ground in the linguistic wars, we surrender a bit more ground to those who wish to subvert individual agency to the consensus of “interpretive communities,” themselves answerable only to their own interests.  Epistemology becomes an exercise in relativism and will to power disguised as critical thinking.  And politically, the individual—the primary locus of agency in a constitutional democracy—is forced by social circumstance either to find power in group identity, or else accept his social and political marginalition.

1Cultural materialists avoid the term “political correctness” at all costs—and in fact, tend to criticize those who use it for engaging in unfair and simplistic labeling.  This, I suspect, has much to do with the way political correctness has been so forcefully deconstructed to reveal its anti-intellectual underpinnings. 

However, too, “political correctness” has become a convenient shorthand (much like “postmodernism”) that is often used, incorrectly, to label anyone with whom conservatives happen to differ—and it should pointed out that to do so is to fall into very practices that give political correctness its force in the first place.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 6:41pm
63 comments | Trackback

Comments (63)

  1. What he said!

    Seems true enough. Given that if you speak out against things such as afirmative action, or minimum wage hike, you are deemed a racist. Regardless of the fact that both things actually hurt the people they are supposed to help.

    Alas I have been ‘bracketed’ sigh.

    Excellent Post Jeff.

  2. All we have to fear is fear itself.

    And clowns.

  3. Anyone know where I can buy the cliff notes for this post?

    “hermeneutic engagements” – Is that where two men who live isolated from society prepare to get married?

  4. Is that little footnote 1 supposed to take me somewhere?

    I do agree that, as Kimball notes, in the advocacy of political correctness1, it is easy to locate the

    What are you referencing there, chief??

  5. Ah, I always knew that condoms were a pinko Commie plot.

  6. ‘Natural family’ called derogatory to ‘gays’

    “This case has the potential to make a horrible judicial edict that suggests that the only thoughts and words allowed in a public workplace are those that support the homosexual agenda,” said Ackerman. “The city of Oakland has interpreted this district court’s ruling to mean that Christianity has no place in our society and should be subject to punishment. I want to believe that our Supreme Court will ultimately decide this case on the values and instructions set forth in motion by the nations Founders.”

  7. A spectre is haunting America—the spectre of Cultural Marxism.

    I knew Jackie Chan and Yao Ming were up to no good.

  8. Link didn’t show….

  9. Do you have any substantive points to make, alphie and amok?  Or are you simply hoping to derail the thread with a strawman argument and a red herring?

    Because if so, I’ll nip the problem in the bud.

  10. The great part Jeff is that since I get emailed the new posts to this thread, alphie’s name is at the top of the message.

    Its comments are easier to discard that way.

  11. Well,

    What Kimball is describing, a competition of ideas, would better be called Cultural Capitalism.

    Also, I seem to remember reading this article a year ago, is it a reprint from somewhere else?

  12. Alphie’s posts really make you think.  They’re like little nuggets of wisdom that jostle the mind out of it’s lazy slumber.

    Thank you, Alphie.

  13. alphie: Go away, you little bitch.

  14. Kimball didn’t give it the label Cultural Marxism.  If you have an issue with that, take it up with the Frankfurt School.

    And no, what Kimball is describing is not a competition of ideas. It is an attempt by one set of ideas to silence competition.

  15. Sorry Jeff, I’ll try to be as “substantive” Mikey and Sharp next time. I was just pointing out that Linda included “safe sex” in “Cultural Marxist” touchstone phrases.

  16. So, we have a multitude of single issue groups competing with each other and within each group is a battle of competing ideas but its really an attempt to silence competition?

  17. “Safe sex” sublimates recreational sex into a public health issue. Whatever your feelings on promiscuous sex might be, Bill, you should have the courage to call it what it is, rather than accede to the tyranny of non-judgmentalism that fails to assign moral weight to individual action, as long as the individual in question is agreeable to wearing a condom.

  18. Yes alphie. That’s precisely what I wrote, and a completely on-target representation of the process I describe.

    You may pick up your prize on the way out.

    amok –

    If you want to bring up the fact that Kimball includes safe sex—or suggests that metaphysics is the prescribed antidote—why not just do so?

    Because then—though you wouldn’t be disagreeing with my post—you would at least be engaging with the material rather than trying to ironize it away.

    As I noted in the post, I don’t agree with Kimball on the insistence of an underlying metaphysics.  But that’s another post entirely.

  19. Jeff, if you’ve written on it before, I’ll go look it up, but if not, what do you think about that multi-generational Gramsci conspiracy theory?

    I’ve seen it described a number of times, but I can’t understand how the Left could be so dedicated in time or space to perform this “long march”.

  20. Each time we cede ground in the linguistic wars, we surrender a bit more ground to those who wish to subvert individual agency to the consensus of “interpretive communities,” themselves answerable only to their own interests.  Epistemology becomes an exercise in relativism and will to power disguised as critical thinking.  And politically, the individual—the primary locus of agency in a constitutional democracy—is forced by social circumstance either to find power in group identity, or else accept his social and political marginalition.

    All of which we wingnuts may readily agree to, Jeff…but who will bell the cat? How can we win a game rigged against us? Consequences only exist for going against the multi-culti thesis.

    It seems to me that alphie may have more of a point than he knew; perhaps, instead of declaring another culture war, we should be making more culture (books, seminars, movies, plays, music videos) and cultural transmission devices (channels, mags, etc.) Then, if we build it, they might come.

    But it’s just a thought, and might not even be pertinent to the thrust of your post. I’m just pewling here.

  21. In this battle for ideas, when someone is trying to make their case against “same sex marriage” what are the most effective ways to present the case without relying on religion (which is a POV increasing rejected and undermined in American culture).

  22. Media and popculture are self-perpetuating, not written afresh with each generation, no matter the glib label Newsweek may apply from time to time. Understanding that, it’s easy to see how the role of the individual can be delineated into triviality.

  23. I fear “tolerance” is whatever the keepers of the Politically Correct scepter say it is.

    “You must not care about what others do, particularly when it has nothing to do with you and yours.” A fair enough definition of tolerance.

    But what about:

    “You must celebrate what other people do.  We must teach your children about it–just in case.”

    Or:

    “Why don’t you do those things, too?  What are you?  Some kind of intolerant weirdo or something?”

    I was reminded of a saying from a year or so ago: “If you didn’t go back to see Brokeback Mountain a 3rd time, everyone knew you were a homophobe.”

  24. those who don’t accept the premise and who criticize identity groups from without are labeled bigots, misogynists, racists, haters, and cultural imperialists.

    Don’t forget anti-semite, anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian.  Been a bit of that going around lately.

  25. The totalitarian instinct runs deep and dark in our species and can emerge at any point along the spectrum of fear societies, heavy and lite.

  26. Just say no to totalitarianism.

  27. jdm writes:

    Jeff, if you’ve written on it before, I’ll go look it up, but if not, what do you think about that multi-generational Gramsci conspiracy theory?

    I’ve seen it described a number of times, but I can’t understand how the Left could be so dedicated in time or space to perform this “long march”.

    The simple answer is, there doesn’t need to be a central clearing house for cultural marxism or a Masonic-like conspiracy to account for the long march.  Just an agreed upon set of underlying assumptions that set things in motion.

    As I noted in the post, something so simple as a paradigm shift in hermeutic understanding can, once it becomes an accepted truth, engender the very kind of radial effects throughout the culture that we’ve seen.

    Which, while it gives the appearance of a grand conspiracy, is really no more than the natural progression of the insinuation of the kernel assumptions of the philosophy into social consciousness.

    Moops –

    You can actually be those things, you know.  A tip off is when others not tied to the identity group in question are calling you those things, as well.

    Not dispositive, naturally, but, certain circumstantially damning.

    Besides.  It’s amusing watching an adherent of identity politics like Marcotte felled by a set of philosophical assumptions she at least tacitly supports.

  28. Great post Jeff

    Alphie, can we all agree that, no matter what the contents are, of ANY post here, you agree to disagree?

    Chew on that for awhile, I am interested in your response

  29. Alphie said:

    So, we have a multitude of single issue groups competing with each other and within each group is a battle of competing ideas but its really an attempt to silence competition?

    It attepmts to silence competition from ideas outside of those selective issue groups. Marxist ideas, feminist ideas, gay and lesbian ideas are all allowed a place at the table. Capitalist ideas, egalitarian ideas, and straight ideas are not, and in some extreme cases are even called “oppressive” by those who would (and do) oppress those last 3 sets of ideas.

  30. Double-thinking ‘fence-sitters’, otherwise known as moderates, centrists, and RINOs bear the imprint of these psychological ‘obedience’ techniques.

    I agree almost completely with the article linked, except for this part.  A small quibble perhaps, but groupthink based on a shoddy moral foundation can come from any ideological orientation.

    Nice work Jeff.

  31. In this battle for ideas, when someone is trying to make their case against “same sex marriage” what are the most effective ways to present the case without relying on religion (which is a POV increasing rejected and undermined in American culture).

    I’d suggest arguing from a legal perspective since religion is “a POV” increasingly rejected by the left.

  32. I wrote :

    sub sects within individual identity groups vie for control over the group narrative, which, once it is has been decided upon, becomes an orthodoxy, capable of acting as an arbiter of “authenticity”

    Which aphie “paraphrased” as: </blockquote>So, we have a multitude of single issue groups competing with each other and within each group is a battle of competing ideas but its really an attempt to silence competition?</blockquote>No need to engage someone looking to get a response out of a calculated misreading.

    Ignore him.

  33. A tip off is when others not tied to the identity group in question are calling you those things, as well.

    Not dispositive, naturally, but, certain circumstantially damning.

    I don’t think that’s true.  For example, white leftists make ill-founded accusations of racism against conservatives all the time.

  34. I was actually talking about Kimball’s statement:

    Because the New Left lacked cohesion it fell apart as a political movement.  However, its revolutionaries reorganized themselves into a multitude of single issue groups.

    Which identity groups have now settled on a single, authentic orthodoxy, Jeff?

    African Americans, feminists, gays?

    The monolithic anti-war crowd, maybe?

  35. ISTM that a significant feature (I guess – certainly not a bug) of the cultural hegemony thing is really to convince people that your revolution, whatever it is, if successful, will bring about a better world. Get people invested in that idea, get them to teach it to their children as indeed most children are taught their parents’ religion, and the passing on of dogma and goals happens naturally.

    I remember an episode of Family Ties. (This doesn’t bode well, does it?) The dad was trying to regain his social-justice street cred for some reason I can’t recall, and he came down to breakfast one day, saw an English muffin pop out of the toaster, and started yelling about “I thought this family agreed that we were not going to have anything English in the house until the British get out of Northern Ireland!” And the older daughter says, “We were just trying to have breakfast, Dad; we didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” Ironical line or not, it was clear that the kids (except Michael J. Fox, of course) generally agreed with the parents’ goals; they might quibble over methods, but they embraced the cause.

    As they used to say about Catholic schools, give them your children for a few years and they’ll have them for life.

    I think there’s more hope than that, though. It just doesn’t stand to reason that, for instance, in a world in which the last two Secretaries of State have been (OK, inauthentically) black, I (or my children) should shut our eyes and repeat, “There’s no place like the pre-Civil Rights Act ‘60s! There’s no place like the pre-Civil Rights Act ‘60s!” until we again perceive segregated lunch counters and tacit approval for “separate but equal” facilities. It just makes no sense. Reality, it appears to me, is a defense.

  36. I never said it was deterministic, Moops.  Anyone can make bad faith accusations.  The question here is whether or not a particular set of philosophical assumptions actually promote and legitimize such behavior as a reflex move.

    And, as I said, it is also possible that those making the accusations from outside the group are correct in their assessment.

    And that was the premise:  that those outside the group pointing out, in good faith, actual failings of the group’s worlview, are dismissed because of who they are, not because of what they say.

    Whereas (taking your example) I would hope that white leftists making false accusations of racism would be dismissed by conservatives because what they say is ill-founded, not because they happen to be white or lean politically left.

    As I noted in the other thread, I’m going to nap for a while.  Don’t take it personally if I don’t respond anymore until later this evening.

  37. ISTM that a significant feature (I guess – certainly not a bug) of the cultural hegemony thing is really to convince people that your revolution, whatever it is, if successful, will bring about a better world.

    Think of “environmentalists.” NPR just ran a lengthy piece yesterday on how CFL lightbulbs contain groundwater-polluting mercury that kids are especially susceptible to. Point being, the revolution is never successful – the inducement of a perpetual state of dissatisfaction is the oxygen of identity politics. The goals of identity politics are aimed more at attenuating a crudely-defined cultural hegemon (oil companies, Christians, Wal-Mart) than at any particular realization of “social justice.”

  38. Dude . . . I think he’s asleep. Go get the bong out!

  39. I never said it was deterministic, Moops.  Anyone can make bad faith accusations.  The question here is whether or not a particular set of philosophical assumptions actually promote and legitimize such behavior as a reflex move.

    Nor did I claim you did.  But you claimed that the identity of the accuser vis a vis the identity group was probative, while I don’t think it is.  My point was that the reflexive cry of “bigot” (and identity politicas) has long since outgrown its whatever original home it may have had on the Left.

    And that was the premise:  that those outside the group pointing out, in good faith, actual failings of the group’s worlview, are dismissed because of who they are, not because of what they say.

    I am discussing another point I thought you were making: that the identity group comes to be defined by ideology, and those who fail to adhere to it are no longer allowed to claim the privilege of authenticity.  Thus, they are dismissed precisely because of what they say (e.g. black conservatives are dismissed not because they are black, but because they are conservative) rather than who they are.

  40. Each time we cede ground in the linguistic wars, we surrender a bit more ground to those who wish to subvert individual agency to the consensus of “interpretive communities,” themselves answerable only to their own interests.

    I heard another one last night.  To my mind even more insidious than some of the hot button issues.  It was during a TV commercial for some sort of relief program to ease famine in Africa.  The keyword used was justice, the voice over saying how this aid program was ‘an effort to bring justice to those starving in Africa.’

    This strikes me as insidious because it is a perversion of the word, wrapped up in all of the good intentions of the otherwise ideologically pure motive of feeding the hungry.  Who could possibly criticize a call to feed the starving people?  Starving brown people no less?  Who would dare chance criticizing the ill usage of the term in this instance?  No one who doesn’t enjoy a good tar & feathering.

    All the while we surrender another otherwise well defined word to a semantic perversion.  Consider that one definition of justice is equity or fairness, and that use the term often implies the application of state sanctioned force to bring about such outcomes.  It’s not a great stretch to forsee where this might head, when one day it is not merely the choice of charitable giving to feed the hungry, but instead it is the fortunate being forcibly brought down to that status of the less fortunate, all in the service of some perverse notion of what constitutes ‘justice.’

  41. Just say no to totalitarianism.

    Posted by happyfeet | permalink

    on 02/16 at 02:14 PM

    Just say no thank you. Sheesh. Kids today.

    It never hurts to be polite. Especially when dealing with totalitarian thugs.

    Trust me on this one.

  42. Alphie, can we all agree that, no matter what the contents are, of ANY post here, you agree to disagree?

    TODD,

    I don’t comment on that many of the posts here.

    My primary interest is in posts that relate to propaganda and its uses (a favorite subject of mine).

    I’m not sure I would say I always “disagree” with them, more, I’m questioning the effectiveness of them as propaganda.

    In Kimball’s case, her message is too wordy.

    Good propaganda has a simple message.

    The groups she’s against have this simple message:

    Everyone is equal.

    Hard to come up with an simple, effective counter-message to that without sounding like a Fascist.

    I appreciate the effort, though.

  43. There are a bunch of authentic totalitarians working hard to make this debate superfluous.

  44. Everyone is equal.

    Hard to come up with an simple, effective counter-message to that without sounding like a Fascist.

    How about;

    Everyone is created equal, but after that it’s a crap shoot.

    Too fascist for you?

  45. But you claimed that the identity of the accuser vis a vis the identity group was probative, while I don’t think it is.  My point was that the reflexive cry of “bigot” (and identity politicas) has long since outgrown its whatever original home it may have had on the Left.

    Well, I would say it has certainly expanded its parameters, but that the move itself is still leftist in origin, and tied to a progressive social worldview.  But yes, others have learned to play the game as well, to the detriment of true liberalism.

    Which is why I have on many occasions excoriated “conservatives” who (mostly social cons) who use the “if you can’t beat them, join them” rationale of identity politics.  And it is why people like Donohue annoy me—and why I went after the White House, Bill Kristol, and some other conservatives over a) the Bill Bennett “scandal” and b) the “Crescent” Memorial scandal (both times on liguistic grounds).

    I am discussing another point I thought you were making: that the identity group comes to be defined by ideology, and those who fail to adhere to it are no longer allowed to claim the privilege of authenticity.  Thus, they are dismissed precisely because of what they say (e.g. black conservatives are dismissed not because they are black, but because they are conservative) rather than who they are.

    Yes, that is one of my assertions.  The anti-feminist designation comes to mind, as does “eco-whore.”

    alphie –

    This:

    The groups she’s against have this simple message:

    Everyone is equal.

    is one of the most moronic things you’ve ever written.  What they say, instead, is that we must treat every identity group as in control of their own narrative, and in control of their own self-definition.  It is equality of (ideological) outcome by (social) fiat.

    And it is anti-intellectual right to the core.

  46. This was a friggin hard post to read, although I used to read stuff like this, once upon a time in a galaxy far far away.  Some comments.

    ~ I assume you mean authenticity in the sense of “no white man can write black history”, and so on.  The concept here is that identity determines experience (because to racists, your identity determines how you will be treated), knowledge is not valid without experience, a white dude can read all the books, man, but, he cannot be a thugniggaintellectual, know what I’m sayin’.

    The reductio of this of course is, how can you judge me, you aren’t me, but I doubt if that will hold up in court.

    ~ Authenticity so described sets up an identity politics scenario so that, even if two Arabs (say) have nothing in common, they can both be wheedled by some Arab macher, on the thesis that as hypostatical ARABS they need Jesse Jackson (or whoever) to represent them, etc. etc.

    ~ Identity politics tends to fracture everyone into interest groups, so that, on Ethnic Pride day, there will be Jews, and Italians, and Irish, and Chinese, and Pacific Islanders passing out ethnic food and shit but people like ME, who are typical Heinz 57 Americans, just get to go out on the sidewalk and have a smoke.  Been there, done that.  MOREOVER, nothing will be accomplished by reacting by creating an NAAWP, WLO, or whatnot for “the rest” which more often is bracketed as “white guys” except that hardly any of us think of ourselves as group members.

    ~ The strength of identity politics—like Nationalism in Europe 100 years ago—is that it easily creates an interest group that can jockey for power, which however usually benefits the top cadre only. People have a peculiarity with regards to self-anointed/appointed sufferers.  If you whine enough, people will give in.  It is hard to see the long term ill effects of giving a tissue and $5 to someone who is crying.

    ~ The weakness of identity politics is that it usually has little capital behind it, and therefore real economic strength.  Make no mistake, the handouts happen because, aw, fuckit, who cares, easier to pay a bribe than come off looking like an asshole.

    ~ Since there’s little money behind it, it is easy to see that identity politics is a chimera, a rhetorical sleight of hand, that we don’t need to buy into.  But we do.  Because it makes us feel good.  A poster of a sobbing child, asking why his father and his father’s boyfriend can’t be wed—how can anyone say no?  (I have to stop now, for a minute, hold on.  OK, I’m better now.)

    ~ Ab abstract undercurrent of identity politics ranges into issues of epistemology (non-group knowledge is not valid, alternatively, non-group knowledge may effectively be keeping the group down, etc.), ethics (values are keyed to specific group interests, there is no “everyone”), justice (same as ethics), politics (same as ethics and justice), language (because all communication uses language, and it follows from the previous constructions that non-group language MAY be supporting the non-group) and even logic (well, that’s a little harder to demonstrate.) A lot of this is done in colleges, and has been since the ‘70’s. 

    ~ ON THE OTHER HAND, you cannot really counter the above by merely asserting a univeralist set of values ex nihilo.  I do think you can do that on the basis of conservatism, which speaks for tradition, and thankfully, we have a rich tradition, esp in the Anglo-American line, of hard headed empiricism, pragmatic ethics, and ASSUMPTIONS that are well argued by people like Mill concering individual dignity, value, and freedom.  I think that’s the best antidote. A respectful treatment of religion, esp religions that emphasize personal autonomy and responsibility (Christianity leads the pack here, but there are several others), WITHOUT A SPECIFIC RELIGIOUS ENDORSEMENT, is also helpful.

    Well, anyway, that’s my start.

  47. And a-bot?

    alphie—

    This:

    The groups she’s against have this simple message:

    Everyone is equal.

    is one of the most moronic things you’ve ever written.  What they say, instead, is that we must treat every identity group as in control of their own narrative, and in control of their own self-definition.  It is equality of (ideological) outcome by (social) fiat.

    And it is anti-intellectual right to the core.

    To put it into simple words for you, you are what you are, not what you tell people or yourself.  There is an objective reality and it is outside of what you think and what you say.

    You are what you are, fantasy, groupthink, and all else aside.  Try some good old introspection and honesty.  I know, it’s hard.  It took me years to see who I really was, and it isn’t very pleasant.  But try it, it is worth the pain.  Then come back to us.

  48. Downhearted, downhearted, you have no complaint

    You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t

    So suck it up mister and suck it up good

    Stop countin’ on bad luck and knockin’ on wood.

    Signed, Dear Abbey

    – John Prine

  49. There is no Liberation under Equalization.

    Equality of Outcome is Collectivist Control.

    Give Me Liberty or Give me Death.

    Simple. Direct. True.

  50. Good propaganda …

    Everyone is equal.

    Good counter-propaganda needs a countering emotional appeal.

    “Do you want to be rich?”

    Good counter-propaganda needs an illuminating counter example.

    “Even Republicans?”

    Good counter-propaganda needs the truth.

    “Not you!

  51. I that’s pretty much what I said, Steve—except I will quibble with you on your last bit, just as I quibbled with Kimball on the Christianity bit:  I believe you CAN, in a vacuum, assert universalist values ex nihilo (I mean, at one point, that particular assertion had to be made for the first time) because I believe that you can arrive at the structural faults of identity politics by way of breaking down its logic.

    And there is always going to be that first person who points out how he’s getting the shaft, or that Mr X doesn’t speak for him.

  52. Jeff: thanks for the response that I am not entirely lost on these issues. 

    I threw in the Christianity bit as an afterthought, but I only mean it in the sense that the root of individualism in our culture gets strong support from that.

    The reason I am skeptical of an ex nihilo statement of values is the same reason I am skeptical of Sam Harris’ militant atheism.  First, because there really is nothing new under the sun, but second, and more important, to the extent that you can ground your values in a venerable tradition the better off you are.  I look forward to more posts along this line.

  53. Oh, there are tons of them.  Search the archives for “intentionalism” or “hermeneutics” or “identity politics.”

    Lots of stuff will pop up.  Of all the things I write, I think these posts get progressives most apoplectic, and are the reason for their not-so-well-guarded hatred of me.

  54. Pingback: Provocateurism, 6

  55. Pingback: Provocateurism, 6

  56. Pingback: This way lies fascism: an OUTLAW’s lament (cont.)

  57. Pingback: “Potential Justice’s Appeal May Be Too Bipartisan”

  58. Terrific as usual. As long as they keep hating you, you know you’re on the right track. Every time they squeal, it’s because you’ve hit a nerve.

  59. Pingback: The University. The Presidency. Whence judgement? « The Javelineer

  60. Pingback: “Aloha, Segregation: The Akaka bill would create a race-based state in Hawaii“

  61. Pingback: a few final words on the intentionalism / textualism divide (UPDATED)

  62. Pingback: MisplacedNews » The Democracy Initiative: a Coup in Plain Sight

Leave a Reply