Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reasonable People

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people. - George Bernard Shaw
There's some truth to that, but it is not a truism. Einstein was perhaps the most reasonable person on the planet, and he changed the universe - or at least our perception of it. Stalin was one of the most unreasonable people in the world, and while he attempted to "adapt the world to himself," what resulted certainly wasn't "progress" in any sense of the term - even the Marxist one. Especially the Marxist one.
Reasonable People Can Differ? Not with me they can't.
That's the title of a December, 2000 Slate piece by Michael Kinsley about the 2000 election debacle. It is, perhaps, the first publicly exhibited symptom of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Charles Krauthammer's 2003 Townhall piece describes "BDS" as a psychological condition. (As an aside, I find much of what Mr. Krauthammer writes to be pretty astute, but - as reasonable people - we differ on the subject of gun control.) Since that time, amateur and professional pshrinks alike have expounded on "BDS" with increasingly outré examples to illustrate.

Dr. Patricia Santy, author of the blog Dr. Sanity writes on the topic, for instance:
The psychology of some of the Bush Haters is pretty cut and dried. They hate Bush because he stands between them and the implementation of their collectivist "utopian" vision. I have no time to waste on them, except to note that their intentions are deliberately and decidedly malevolent toward this country. They want it to fail at anything and everything it does and they openly cheer for the barbarians at the gate.

They are indistinguishable from the barbarians we are actively fighting, with the only difference being that they have different ideas about which group of thugs will be in charge of the "utopia". They prefer themselves--a more secularly-oriented set of thugs--to rule.
And this is undoubtedly accurate - for some. But she continues:
But what about the average person on the street who has, or has come to have a visceral hatred of President Bush? Perhaps they simply didn't vote for him in 2000, believing the media propaganda or caricature of his intellect and capabilities; or perhaps they simply didn't like him because he was from the opposition party, or a Texan. or any other number of normal reasons.

It seems to me that the Democrats and the Left have used their continuous propaganda well, but there is a also a strong personal psychological factor involved in being able to convince normally sane people that the source of all evil in the world is George W. Bush.
And that, dear readers, is the subject of this essay.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm reading Eric Hoffer's 1951 treatise, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. I hadn't heard of it prior to my writing an essay on just that topic, True Believers, where a commenter pointed it out to me. (In fact, I'd never even heard of Eric Hoffer, but he's a thoroughly fascinating man. If you're unfamiliar with him, I advise you to peruse The Eric Hoffer Resource page.) Hoffer was a renaissance philosopher - he was self-educated, lived simply, worked at manual labor jobs, read, thought, and wrote. And he saw things very clearly.

The True Believer, being written in the immediate post-WWII years, was primarily about the mass movements of Italian and German Fascism and the rise of Communism, but Hoffer did not limit his observations. He reflected on mass movements throughout history, including the Zionist movement in pre-revolutionary Russia, the French Revolution, the Protestant Reformation, and others. He makes a point, in fact, that,
When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with any particular doctrine or program.
Which explains in a sentence the current enthusiastic crossover between the eco-movement, the gay-rights movement, the anti-war movement, the socialist movement, et al. But what is it that makes people "ripe for a mass movement"? That's the primary topic of the book, and something I've been struggling with for quite a while, because I see a major conflict coming and I don't know that my side can mobilize to face it, much less succeed. In October of 2003, just a few months after starting this blog, I wrote Not with a Bang, but a Whimper?, that began:
Everybody bitches about how bad things are, politically. (Well, everybody but Bill Whittle.) And the bitching is pretty much evenly divided on both the left and the right. But I've noticed something I find disturbing. It appears to me that the Right is resigning. Giving up. Leaving the field.
And I gave a couple of examples from the blogosphere. This was one of my earlier posts on the cockroach resilience of the Left. I've since written several posts on what I see as a coming conflict, though I've been (until now) unable to determine what the two sides will be. In fact, at one point I convinced myself that there wouldn't be a second Civil War because, as I put it then:
The divide now is philosophical, too, but not as easily demarcated. It isn't slavery vs. abolition, it's "Left" vs. "Right." It's Libertarian vs. Conservative. Green vs. Democrat. Socialists vs. Capitalists. Anarchists vs. Government. Christians vs. Humanists. Jihadists vs. Infidels. Atheists vs. Christianity. Gun-grabbers vs. Gun-nuts. The perpetually disinterested vs. everyone else.

Grab any six random people off the street - chances are they'll have strongly held (and largely unsupported) opinions on a variety of topics, and those opinions will stray all over the philosophical boundaries of the merely Left and Right. It's not a binary division, it's an n-dimensional space of varying density.
I've also recently begun reading David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, and this piece from the introduction struck me:
We Americans are a bundle of paradoxes. We are mixed in our origins, and yet we are one people. Nearly all of us support our Republican system, but we argue passionately (sometimes violently) among ourselves about its meaning. Most of us subscribe to what Gunnar Myrdal called the American Creed, but that idea is a paradox in political theory. As Myrdal observed in 1942, America is "conservative in fundamental principles . . . but the principles conserved are liberal, and some, indeed, are radical."

We live in an open society which is organized on the principle of voluntary action, but the determinants of that system are exceptionally constraining. Our society is dynamic, changing profoundly in every period of American history; but it is also remarkably stable.
Well, it has been remarkably stable, excepting that first Civil War, but I no longer believe that "nearly all of us support our Republican system," and I believe the percentage is falling. Please note that Albion's Seed was published in 1989. Much has changed since then.

Another psychology blogger, Robert Godwin, posted this at One Cosmos:
At this point in time, I am more inclined to think of leftism as an intellectual pathology rather than a psychological one (although there is clearly considerable overlap). What I mean is that it is impossible to maintain a priori that a conservative person is healthier or more emotionally mature than a liberal. There are plenty of liberals who believe crazy things but are wonderful people, and plenty of conservatives who have the right ideas but are rotten people. However, this may be begging the question, for it is still puzzling why people hold beliefs that are demonstrably untrue or at the very least unwise.

One of the problems is with our elites. We are wrong to think that the difficulty lies in the uneducated and unsophisticated masses--as if inadequate education, in and of itself, is the problem. As a matter of fact, no one is more prone to illusions than the intellectual. It has been said that philosophy is simply personal error on a grandiose scale. Complicating matters is the fact that intellectuals are hardly immune to a deep emotional investment in their ideas, no less than the religious individual. The word "belief" is etymologically linked to the word "beloved," and it is easy to see how certain ideas, no matter how dysfunctional--for example, some of the undeniably appealing ideas underpinning contemporary liberalism--are beloved by those who believe them. Thus, many liberal ideas are believed not because they are true, but because they are beautiful. Then, the intellectual simply marshals their intelligence in service of legitimizing the beliefs that they already hold. It has long been understood by psychoanalysts that for most people, reason is the slave of the passions.

(F)or the person who is not under the hypnotic psycho-spiritual spell of contemporary liberalism, it is strikingly devoid of actual religious wisdom or real ideas. As such, it is driven by vague, spiritually infused ideals and feelings, such as "sticking up for the little guy," or "war is not the answer." On the other hand, conservatism is not so much based on ideas, but on simply observing what works, and then generalizing from there. It is actually refreshingly free of dogma, and full of dynamic tension. For example, at the heart of conservatism is an ongoing, unresolvable dialectic between freedom and virtue. In other words, there is a bedrock belief in the idea that free markets are the best way to allocate scarce resources and to create wealth and prosperity for all, but a frank acknowledgment that, without a virtuous populace, the system may produce a self-centered, materialistic citizenry living in a sort of degenerate, "pitiable comfort." Thus, there is an ongoing, unresolvable tension between the libertarian and traditional wings of the movement.

There is no such dynamic tension in liberalism. Rather, it is a top-down dogma that is not dictated by what works, but by how liberals would like reality to be. This is why liberalism must be enforced with the mechanism of political correctness, in order to preempt or punish those who deviate from liberal dogma, and see what they are not supposed to see.
In another post, he stated:
People typically think that the right represents the party of sanctimonious and judgmental morality, but this is hardly the case. In fact, this is an exact reversal of the situation. Morality in and of itself is neither moral nor immoral. Sometimes--perhaps more often than not--a moral system can actually be a source of great evil. One of the things that sets human beings apart from animals is that we cannot avoid making moral distinctions. There seems to be a built in need to distinguish between right and wrong. This impulse is just as strong and ubiquitous as the sex drive, and, just like the sex drive, can become distorted and perverted. With the left, we are generally not dealing with immoral people, but with quite serious moral perversion. And I say this in all seriousness and with all due respect.

For example, yesterday on LGF, Charles linked to a photo gallery of the anti-death penalty demonstrators outside San Quentin Prison Monday night. Here are examples of some of the signs that were carried by protesters: "Tookie Has Done More For Kids Than Arnold." "Arnold is a Nazi. Terminate Him Now." "America is Still Murdering Blacks. Slavery: 1492-Present." "Tookie = Greater Integrity. Worth 100 Times as Much to Our World as All of the Neocons, Hypochristians & Fascist Pigs of Profit."

So clearly, there is an extraordinary amount of moral passion behind these sentiments. And yet, it is an insane and deranged moral passion. The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftism in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection. The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation--a complete materialistic skepticism combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.
"A boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind." The kind of ideal that attracts and inspires the True Believer. For a moment, let's discuss who these people are. Hoffer writes:
The superior individual, whether in politics, literature, science, commerce, or industry, plays a large role in shaping a nation, but so do individuals at the other extreme -- the failures, misfits, outcasts, criminals, and all those who have lost their footing, or never had one, in the ranks of respectable humanity. The game of history is usually played by the best and worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.

The reason that the inferior elements of a nation can exert a marked influence on its course is that they are wholly without reverence toward the present. They see their lives and the present as spoiled beyond remedy and they are ready to waste and wreck both: hence their recklessness and their will to chaos and anarchy. They also crave to dissolve their spoiled, meaningless selves in some soul-stirring spectacular communal undertaking -- hence their proclivity for united action. Thus they are among the early recruits of revolutions, mass migrations, and of religious, racial and chauvinist movements, and they imprint their mark upon these upheavals and movements which shape a nation's character and history.

The discarded and rejected are often the raw materials of a nation's future. The stone the builders reject becomes the cornerstone of a new world. A nation without dregs and malcontents is orderly, decent, peaceful and pleasant, but perhaps without the seeds of things to come. It was not the irony of history that the undesired in the countries of Europe should have crossed an ocean to build a new world on this continent. Only they could do it.
Or, as George Bernard Shaw put it, "Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves." As a bit of further evidence of how "the inferior elements of a nation can exert a marked influence on its course," let me reiterate on the concept of cultural "trickle up," and how the extremes in society "play the game of history" over the heads of the middle. Theodore Dalrymple has spent most of his life working among the "other extreme" of British culture while living among the elite. His book Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass is specifically on this topic. James Lileks wrote perhaps the most accurate and succinct review of the book:
"Life at the Bottom," an account of the British underclass by Theodore Dalrymple. "Bracing" does not describe it, anymore than "Brisk" describes the sensation of a bucket of lemon juice poured on a sucking chest wound. The book concerns the ideas that animate, if you can use that word, the sullen masses of the impotent and indifferent, where they come from (two guesses) and how uncouthness becomes chic, and trickles up.
Examples range from multiple out-of-wedlock births by different (absent) fathers, to ubiquitous tattooing and piercings, all encouraged as "authentic behaviors" by the liberal intelligentsia, who are just as wholly without reverence towards the present.

Hoffer writes:
A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises, but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.


It is obvious, therefore, that, in order to succeed, a mass movement must develop at the earliest moment a compact corporate organization and a capacity to absorb and integrate all comers. It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated. Where new creeds vie with each other for the allegiance of the populace, the one which comes with the most perfected collective framework wins.

--

The milieu most favorable for the rise and propagation of mass movements is one in which a once compact corporate structure is, for one reason or another, in a state of disintegration.

--

The general rule seems to be that as one pattern of corporate cohesion weakens, conditions become ripe for the rise of a mass movement and the eventual establishment of a new and more vigorous form of compact unity.

--

Another and final illustration of the thesis that effective collective bodies are immune to the appeal of mass movements, but that a crumbling collective pattern is the most favorable milieu for their rise is found in the relation between the collective body we know as an army and mass movements. There is hardly an instance of an intact army giving rise to a religious, revolutionary or nationalist movement. On the other hand, a disintegrating army -- whether by the orderly process of demoblilization or by desertion due to demoralization -- is fertile ground for a proselytizing movement. The man just out of the army is an ideal potential convert, and we find him among the early adherents of all contemporary mass movements. He feels alone and lost in the free-for-all of civilian life. The responsibilities and uncertanties of an autonomous existence weigh and prey upon him. He longs for certitude, camaraderie, freedom from individual responsibility, and a vision of something altogether different from the competitive free society around him -- and he finds all of this in the brotherhood and the revivalist atmosphere of a rising movement.
And, most interestingly, Hoffer discusses the love-hate relationship rising mass movements have with the military:
It is well at this point, before leaving the subject of self-sacrifice, to have a look at the similarities and differences between mass movements and armies.

The similarities are many: both mass movements and armies are collective bodies; both strip the individual of his separateness and distinctness; both demand self-sacrifice, unquestioning obedience and singlehearted allegiance; both make extensive use of make-belief to promote daring and united action; and both can serve as a refuge for the frustrated who cannot endure an automomous existence. A military body like the Foreign Legion attracts many of the types who usually rush to join a new movement. It is also true that the recruiting officer, the Communist agitator and the missionary often fish simultaneously in the cesspools of skid row.

But the differences are fundamental: an army does not come to fulfill a need for a new way of life; it is not a road to salvation. It can be used as a stick in the hand of a coercer to impose a new way of life and force it down unwilling throats. But the army is mainly an instrument devised for the preservation or expansion of an established order -- old or new. It is a temporary instrument that can be assembled and taken apart at will. The mass movement, on the other hand, seems an instrument of eternity, and those who join it do so for life. The ex-soldier is a veteran, even a hero; the ex-true believer is a renegade. The army is an instrument for bolstering, protecting and expanding the present. The mass movement comes to destroy the present. Its preoccupation is with the future, and it derives its vigor and drive from this preoccupation.

--

Being an instrument of the present, an army deals mainly with the possible. Its leaders do not rely on miracles. Even when animated by fervent faith, they are open to compromise. They reckon with the possibility of defeat and know how to surrender. On the other hand, the leader of a mass movement has an overwhelming contempt for the present -- for all its stubborn facts and perplexities, even those of geography and the weather. He relies on miracles. His hatred of the present (his nihilism) comes to the fore when the situation becomes desperate. He destroys his country and his people rather than surrender.
Thus the psychological projection of the Left impugning its opponents as "drinking the Kool-Aid" of the Right - invoking the image of Jim Jones.
The spirit of self-sacrifice within an army is fostered by devotion to duty, make-believe, esprit de corps, drill, faith in a leader, sportsmanship, the spirit of adventure and the desire for glory. These factors, unlike those employed by a mass movement, do not spring from a deprecation of the present and a revulsion of an unwanted self. They can unfold therefore in a sober atmosphere.
See the recent Wall Street Journal piece by ex-journalist and new Marine 2nd Lieutenant Matt Pottinger for an example of devotion to duty unfolding in a sober atmosphere. Just an aside, the modern military no longer "fishes in the cesspool of skid row" for recruits - which is one reason the Left is having a harder and harder time finding examples like Jimmy Massey and Pablo Paredes to promote their cause. The rising mass-movement sees in the military a vast repository of raw recruit material - that has been co-opted by the hated enemy. The soldiers, the "cannon fodder," are merely confused! The officers are the true enemy - thus the exhortations to the soldiers to "frag" their officers and join the mass movement.

What we have in America today is the result of about a hundred years of Leftist influence in American culture, best exhibited by the rise of "Transnational Progressivism" (read the whole thing) - an ideology that essentially places the blame for all iniquity around the world at the feet of a single enemy, the United States; and one group in the United States, heterosexual conservative white males. That's rather narrow. For some it's just "white people." For others it's anyone who is "conservative." (Especially if they, themselves, are white males.) For groups outside the U.S., (and some inside it) it's more broadly "Americans." However defined, this group is symbolized in effigy at the present time by one individual - George W. Bush. But that won't last forever.

Remember Hoffer's words: "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated." It doesn't matter if the idea is illogical, ridiculous, or outright insane. It matters if you can mobilize the disaffected to the cause.

What we are seeing today is the coalescing of a new mass movement. There are many disaffected out there who are members of various fringe groups and organizations - the ones Dr. Santy defines as those who "hate Bush because he stands between them and the implementation of their collectivist "utopian" vision." But the efforts of the Leftist intelligentsia and the "underclass" have splintered our culture. We are no longer "one people." We are no longer one culture made up of many smaller, meshing cultures. We are "Red America" and "Blue America." There is sand in the gears, and corporate cohesion is being lost. As a result there is a slowly rising tide of the disaffected, frightened of the future and looking for someone to blame and someone to promise them utopia.

Hoffer again:
Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and future, frees him of jealosies and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass. (Heinrich) Heine suggests that what Christian love cannot do is effected by a common hatred.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: "No.... We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one." F.A. Voigt tells of a Japanese mission that arrived in Berlin in 1932 to study the National Socialist movement. Voigt asked a member of the mission what he thought of the movement. He replied: "It is magnificent. I wish we could have something like it in Japan, only we can't, because we haven't got any Jews."
Meet the new Jews, and George W. Bush as Satan incarnate.

As an example, let me quote Forrest Church from his Sept. 2002 New Republic essay, "The American Creed":
In many quarters of the world today America is resented--even hated--for its perceived embrace of godless and value-free materialism and the felt imposition of this moral "decadence" on world society. The first American armed conflict of the twenty-first century is being cast by its aggressor in religious terms as a jihad against the infidel, with America blasphemed as "the great Satan." Osama bin Laden proclaimed that those who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were martyrs, servants of Allah dying for a holy cause--a view not restricted to terrorists alone. America is caricatured in much of the Muslim world as a godless society wedded to materialism and wanton in the exercise of its power around the globe.
On the other hand, inside the U.S. it isn't "godless and value-free materialism" that is hated, it is the concept of a rising theocracy and value-free materialism (at least they're consistent on one point.) Read Jane Smiley's most recent Huffington Post piece where George W. is at once responsible for every evil out there. And she's serious. Or just read Robert Godwin's dissection of it, if you can't stomach it unfiltered.

As of yet this mass movement is also splintered, but as Hoffer noted, when people are ripe for a mass movement, any mass movement will do. And the mass movement that is best equipped to absorb them, wins them.

I noted recently that I received a solicitation from "Rev. Billy Bob Gisher" to exchange links to his website Less People, Less Idiots. In an interesting coincidence I came across a comment by Eric S. Raymond at his blog Armed and Dangerous today concerning the kidnapping of four members of a group called Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq who are now threatened with beheading by the very people they went there to "protect."
I like it when villains or dangerous idiots are killed by their own folly. That seems just to me. More importantly, it's how other people learn not to be that way. It's evolution in action; it improves the meme pool, or the gene pool, or both.

This is actually one of my gut reasons for favoring drug legalization, though I'd never thought it through quite so far before. I don't think we have enough selective pressures against idiocy any more; I'd like idiots to have more chances to kill themselves, ideally before they get old enough to vote or reproduce. Not because I relish their deaths, but because I want to live in a future with fewer idiots in it.

By the way, I'm using "idiot" in its original sense here. To the ancient Greeks, an "idiot" was a person too closed in on himself to be a net plus to his neighbors and his society. Distinctions between mental impairments, communicative defects like deaf-muteness, or insanity were not clear and not considered important; the important question was whether the 'idiotes' (private person) was capable of discharging the responsibilities of a citizen in the agora.)
Somehow I don't think that Eric's position is the same as "Rev. Gisher" on the topic. Read the comment thread. Very interesting.

The Rev. Gisher is on a quest, to wit, from the link entitled "Do you want to see changes for the better?":
Do you believe that lobbyists, who write most of the bills that are passed to become our laws, control the American government? Do you believe that it does not matter which party is in office, that other than small shifts in agendas, both sides of the aisle have to cater to the people that fund their reelections? Do you really believe it was absolutely necessary that we sent our young men to Iraq to die? Do you believe that questioning what our government does is not unpatriotic? Do you believe that in less than a hundred years, humans will be in serious trouble, because of the effects of overpopulation, and toxic chemical concentrations, as well as possible wars that break out from a desperate grab for diminished resources? Do you believe that the trouble may be brought upon us faster, because of possible major shifts in climate? Do you believe that the "Crossfire" mentality of arguing a point to death, rather than working towards common ground might be great entertainment, but is putting nails in humanity’s coffin? Do you care about what kind of world we are leaving our children and our grandchildren? Do you want to see changes; do you want things to improve?

--

So what can you do to try and turn all of this around? How do you perform this trick without bringing more violence and death to mankind, through yet another armed revolution?

You have something in your possession that you are looking at right this moment that is called a computer. The device sitting right in front of you allows you to reach out and contact anyone in the world who has access to a computer, and the Internet.

You can help humans to move away from the paralysis caused by, greed, apathy, and polarization that infects our current system of government. You can do this by reaching out to someone who has just a slightly different view of the world from your own, and finding areas that you can agree upon. If the other party reaches out to someone else who differs slightly from them, and this process of reaching out continues, eventually it is possible for everyone that has access to a computer to be linked into a system where everyone is attempting to find common ground and moving forward to try and resolve some of our problems.
I won't reproduce the whole post, please read it yourself. What the Rev. is trying to do is reach out to the "reasonable people," to form a network of those who do not necessarily agree on everything, but who are willing to A) agree on some things, and B) agree to at least discuss their differences on other topics. I've got, for example, a problem with some of the items on his laundry-list of grievances, and I'm not sure that he's one of those David Hackett Fischer refers to as being supportive of our Republican system.

It's a noble idea, though. It's an idea made practical by the revolution that is the internet - communication so cheap that all it costs you is your time. (I've been working on this essay for the last four hours, and I haven't edited it yet. And yes, I edit. Voltaire once wrote "I'm writing you a long letter because I don't have time to write a short one." Hoffer once wrote "There is not an idea that cannot be expressed in 200 words or less." With that thought, he established the "Eric Hoffer-Lili Fabilli Essay Award" at the University of California, Berkeley, for the best essay on a topic in 500 words or less. I'd never win it.) At any rate, if the idea appeals to you, go to this link and read more.

I'm not convinced that the Rev's idea will work. The mass movement is growing, and it's not made up of "reasonable people." Perhaps his idea would serve to keep "reasonable people" from becoming disaffected fodder for the mass movement, perhaps not. Perhaps not enough. In another idea, Kim and Connie du Toit are trying to establish a Nation of Volunteers organization, which is much the same idea, but narrower, with a bit more activism involved. And money.

Again, Kim and Connie are trying to reach out to "reasonable people" - mostly conservatives. I applaud the concept - and again wonder how much success it might have in the face of a growing mass movement.

I said at the opening of this piece that I was unable to determine what the two sides will be in the coming conflict. It will be the "True Believers" of the new mass movement against the "reasonable people." And it won't be pretty. Stopping a mass movement can be done - bloodily - by an army. Or from within, by washtubs filled with poisoned Kool-Aid after a Congressional investigation. Hoffer writes:
The problem of stopping a mass movement is often a matter of substituting one movement for another. A social revolution can be stopped by promoting a religious or nationalist movement. Thus in countries where Catholicism has recaptured its mass movement spirit, it counteracts the spread of communism.
The example he was probably thinking of there was post WWII Greece.

In the comments to that piece at Armed and Dangerous, Eric Raymond says:
One of the reasons I support the present war is that killing 50K of the jihadis now may keep them from mounting the city-killing attack that will really enrage the U.S.. Because if that happens, millions on millions of Arabs will die and my country will be transformed by its rage into something I won’t like.
That is an example of how one mass movement can be stopped. As Hoffer says:
This method of stopping one movement by substituting another for it is not always without danger, and it does not come cheap.
No indeed.

But there is a mass movement gathering, and it must be stopped. And reasonable people may not be enough to do it.

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