Saturday, August 22, 2015

Progressives Bellyfeel Ingsoc

I used to not hesitate in saying that, except on the subject of socialism, postmodern progressives were "otherwise intelligent". I'm beginning to re-assess that opinion.

I got this from someone who reposted it from someone who says "I love this". All I can say, Bud, is if you love this you need to think about it some more.

Copyright as attributed. Reproduced in its entirety
under Title 17 Fair Use for the purpose of political commentary

This poster has the full flavor of postmodern progressivism. I'll explore that in detail below, and see where that takes me.


NOTE
Although I'll use the word "progressives" for brevity, let me make clear that I'm not talking about the progressives of the early 20th century: Teddy Roosevelt and the like, or anyone who is wishing to hang on to that label to describe those same policies. I'm talking about the more recent movement that is moving the political Left beyond not just classical liberalism (which it long ago left behind to be re-branded as libertarianism), but also beyond that of modern liberalism. I'm talking about those who are operating outside of the boundaries of both the Constitution and intellectual reason. Whereas our Founding Fathers built a nation according to an architecture of pure Reason, postmodern progressives practice the politics of pure Emotion.
Charles Murray wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal that pretty much sums up how I'm using the term here. Please read it if you are still confused as to my usage and why I am distinguishing this group from liberals. If you need more detail you might try this article in American Thinker.  Otherwise, you should be able to work it out from context. If it makes things easier for you, just mentally replace "progressive" with "Ingsoc" knowing that if I had my way that's what we'd just call these folks and be done with it.

The very first thing I was struck with about this poster was the obvious Orwellian feel of it, It has been 66 years since George Orwell published 1984. In that time it has been disseminated, taught, and dissected in every school in the country. Most voters have never known a world without its example and warning. And yet, the astonishing fact is that there are people who still do not heed the warning, who do not learn the lesson; and who fall for the principles of Ingsoc (English Socialism)


Having read 1984, do you really believe that a society such as described could come about if it had been thrust upon the populace? No, such a society comes about by drips and drabs, incrementally as a result of tiny wrongs that add up. And contrary to the expectations of many, it is not something that happens behind your back, without the approval of the people. It is the people themselves who demand such a society and are complicit in bringing it about, having been convinced to do so with promises of security and an ease bestowed upon them by an all-caring, all-compassionate, all-powerful State.

Postmodern progressivism is Ingsoc in every respect. I do have friends who take exception to that and make weak protest that it is different because it is not thrust upon them, but it remains Ingsoc.


It starts with the language. 

Orwell was absolutely correct in his description of Newspeak, the tightly controlled language of Oceania that gave us the word "thoughtcrime" and 

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

And now this:

"SILENCE IS VIOLENCE"

Even without the blatant oxymoron, the politics of this poster are clear from the inversion of the language that is pervasive in every thing said by a progressive.  A progressive's "love for humanity" is dominated by hate poorly masked by post facto rationalizations.

"I don't hate white people." But they do. Progressives hate white people so badly that they label conservative Black people as "white". White progressives hate themselves so much that it is now an accepted thing to pretend to be Black. #BlackLivesMatter, yes... but so do they all; yet those who point that out and who demand justice across the board are shouted down as ignorant fools who "miss the point" that Blacks are "not yet included" in "All lives". Their argument is patent bullshit. "All lives" means ALL lives, and their choice to ignore all lives except one group does absolutely nothing to further inclusiveness. It serves only to perpetuate divisions between that group and all others.

"I don't hate cops." But they do. They focus on the fact of police presence without addressing the cause, other than to blatantly and erroneously state that it must be racism. In fact, there's a greater police presence in Black neighborhoods and a greater incidence of interaction with the police there because there is a greater incidence of Black-on-Black crime, including murder. If #BlackLivesMatter to you, then this is the obvious place to start, not here.

"I don't hate soldiers." But they do. Most progressives have never seen "the horrors of war" in any form. What they allude to when they speak of the the politically and economically vulnerable is the budgeting of Federal dollars for defense rather than social programs. This is beyond a rational discussion of whether the military should be scaled back or where and how they should be deployed. Our soldiers should not be imposing our will on sovereign nations; but they should be defending our borders and trade routes. It is, after all, their only job. 

"I don't hate rich people." But they do. Progressivism is a culture of envy. Its purveyors would keep you ignorant of the fact that economics is not a zero-sum game where every dollar earned is aggressively ripped from the hands of some poor innocent. They perpetrate this myth even as their leaders generate fiat money without hesitation. They ignore the fact that all boats are rising to focus only on the rate at which some boats rise compared to others. They are ignorant of the realities of a fiat economy; of the differences between money and capital; of the causes and dangers of an inflationary economy. They would keep you ignorant of the fact that you, too can succeed except for the lies that have you demand rather than earn your way.  For instance:
  • You are told the lie that you have a right to a free education, as if it were a natural right. In fact, you have both the right and the responsibility to educate yourself. As Isaac Asimov famously observed, self-education is the only kind of education there is. No one can "educate" you. No one can "give" you an education. You can be given tools and information, but you and you alone must exercise your brain and become educated. Failure to understand this basic fact has resulted in the United States spending more on education and achieving less with each dollar than any industrialized country. If you want to know why foreign students do better, it's because they each recognize their personal stake in their own education. No education is free. It is paid for, at the barest minimum, with your own intellectual labor. It is the lack of that intellectual effort that leads American "students" to believe whatever they're taught without critical analysis, and which has turned Liberalism into Ingsoc.
  • You are told the lie that you have a right to free healthcare, as if it were a natural right. In fact, you have both the right and the responsibility to take care of yourself. It is your body: to demand that someone else care for it gratis is to declare them a slave to your needs. Many people give freely of their healing talents. It is an outrageous insult to demand it of them. Progressives have vilified Rand Paul for comparing a right to services with slavery, but if you watch the whole thing for context, you'll see plainly that he's talking about conscripting someone to do your bidding. And those same progressives who poo-poo this statement are more than happy to do exactly that, and they have done so [pdf]. And if you don't give them what they demand, they will gleefully ruin you.
These are aspects of the more general and more outrageous lie that privileges are rights. In point of fact, natural rights are only those that do not infringe upon someone else's liberty. Self-defense is is a natural right only invoked when your right to life is endangered. Privacy, self-ownership, and property are natural rights, in that no one has rightful claim to your labor unless willingly given or exchanged. Speech is a natural right because, unfettered, it is the natural expression of thought, and no person may rightly curtail your thought. Nevertheless, that is what Progressive thoughtcrimes do. Of course, progressives do not call them "thoughtcrimes"... rather they use the Newspeak term "hate crimes" to mean precisely the same thing. A hate crime is not a crime that can be differentiated in any way other than its motivation. If you assault someone, it is assault. If in the course of that assault you use a racial slur then it is now a "hate crime" and the penalties escalate. The fact of the assault is completely unchanged... the escalation exists solely to punish the thought.

Language controls thought. And the progressives seek to control the language through hyper-sensitive identity politics and nonsensical oxymorons, just like Ingsoc.


Dissolution of the family

One of the more blatant manipulations of the language involves the redefinition of the family, and the calls for complacency labeled as "the new normal". Stepping away from that graphic for a moment, 1984's Ingsoc discourages interpersonal relationships except as sanctioned by the State. The easiest way to do that is to control the public's perceptions of what is a healthy relationship.

Let's see how transparently this is done in just one aspect of popular culture. I could choose any of a number of television shows, but will pick something with a younger  and more malleable audience.

DC Comics re-vamped their entire 52-title lineup, applying to this overarching revamp the label "DC You". That doesn't apply just to the comics. It's a pointed message that this is to reflect the new you. Now DC has never exactly had an drought of gay characters, and the New 52 succeeded by the DC You brings them to the forefront. Characters like Midnighter, Constantine, Batwoman, and Alan Scott (Earth 2's Green Lantern), and Bunker have their sexuality spotlighted. Relationships between heterosexual couples like Superman and Lois Lane, Aquaman and Mera, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, were thrown under the bus. Given a plausible mix of healthy and problematic relationships of every type, this would be unremarkable. But DC's bias is so thoroughly consistent across all titles that it is now laughably predictable.


The Two-Minute Hate

Today a friend pointed out to me the parallel between the "Cecil the Lion" controversy and what Orwell describes in 1984 as the "Two Minutes Hate". The observation is dead-on. 


The Left picks a person to vilify. And then they do it, vehemently, with all the threats of violence and destruction they can. They don't even need to know the target's name. "That dentist who shot Cecil the Lion" works pretty easily. If you ask for details of his crime you get nothing. Never mind that there are legitimate questions surrounding the events. Never mind that Zimbabwe routinely issued hunting permits for endangered species. Never mind that in paying $50,000 to a professional guide Dr. Palmer expected the proper permits to be filed. Never mind that the lion was not shot on a reserve, but on private land. Never mind that the lion had a mane and it is plausible that his tracking collar wasn't visible. Never mind that the guide himself stated,  "Palmer is a totally innocent party to this whole thing, and he has conducted and bought a hunt from me that was legitimate."

Rational thoughts of fairness and due process do not even cross the minds of the haters. It is "shocking" to them that you'd even suggest such things. The people need their Two Minutes Hate. And they will have it, on Twitter and other social media; and by taking spray cans to write slurs on the doctor's homes, and by ruining his livelihood and depriving his patients of care and his employees of income. They will have their hate. And if you point out that their mindless hate is hate... why, they can hate you, too. It's what they do best.

But they don't do it merely for hate's sake. No. It's for distraction. Hatred and outrage is merely a political tool. How many of you can remember what Cecil the Lion distracted you from before I tell you in the next paragraph?

...

It was the release of multiple videos that demonstrated Planned Parenthood's questionable practices in harvesting human fetal tissue for alleged sale. Perhaps it's the progressives' vaunted "love for Humanity" that causes them to use trumped up umbrage at a lion's accidental death to distract you from their fervent support of the deliberate deaths of thousands of human embryos.  

And if you point out that those human embryos are overwhelmingly taken from Black parents by an organization that was founded by a white supremacist bent on eugenics, then you will find just how driven by politics their outrage is. All this can be overlooked. It is just fine for a darling of the progressives to be genocidal. It's is just fine for a darling of the progressives to be racist. It is just fine for the progressives to perpetuate an unjust system in which the oppressed suffer, and there will be not one voice lifted in protest unless they are told to do so. And as expected, there they are, remaining silent. Obviously they are "maladjusted to injustice".

The only thing that Orwell got wrong about the Two Minutes Hate is that he imagined the same villain over and over again, whereas in our densely populated society, there is no practical limit to the number of people who can be vilified and ruined. But invariably they are someone of "privilege", as proven in inimitable progressive fashion by having lives so easily and completely destroyed by those who are "oppressed".

But what the author of "Silence is Violence" neglects to mention is that the progressives want it both ways: speech is violence, too. But only your speech.


Big Brother demands your love.

In the progressive world of our currently-closeted Ingsoc, the seeds are well-germinated for one of Orwell's central themes, that of love of the State. With grounding in identity politics and "hate crimes" it is not enough that you tolerate or co-exist with people whose opinions differ from yours. No, in the name of "love" you must vilify them so that they are shamed (and if not shamed, cowered) into supporting the progressive view.

It is not merely "hate crimes" that are the target of progressive ire, but "hate speech". First, what exactly is the difference between the two...? To the progressive mind there is none, but they are often thwarted by that pesky Constitution. It remains that they would like to criminalize "hate speech", interpreting the Constitution in whatever convoluted fashion that allows them to implement this pre-determined goal. The preferred method is to take restrictions that are intended to be applied to the Federal government alone and inappropriately apply them to the citizenry, Thus, words that were intended to guarantee certain rights are used to rob the People of those very same rights.

Remember: speech (and its fixed form, writing) is the expression of thought. It was once commonplace to teach that sentences and paragraphs are units of thought. To criminalize certain speech is very literally to criminalize certain thoughts.

But what is "hate speech"? It is a very deliberately vague definition, which in one formulation is this: "Any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics" (ref).

It is vague because it is almost entirely subjective, and it is heavily weighted against free speech. Any speech, gesture, or conduct... which may incite. In practice, any group can invoke charge of "hate speech" if they merely choose to take offence at anything whatsoever you might happen to say, reading into it convoluted levels of nuance never intended. And then they take it upon themselves to "educate" you as to what you really meant when you said that innocuous thing in passing. This is no joke, and no exaggeration... quite literally anything you say or do can be twisted in this way. Thus, you are guilty of "microaggressions" for merely being polite. And though your motivations may be purely innocent, there is always someone who will assign motivations to you. As there is a natural human tendency to desire not to offend, then the inevitable result is that people constantly, fearfully censor even casual conversations lest they bring down social or legal repercussions.

The Museum of Tolerance defines "tolerance" as "A fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions and practices differ from one’s own." To progressives, those differences are a problem. It is never enough to merely be tolerant. You must wholeheartedly embrace the progressive's opinions and practices, or you are defective. Thus, undesirable opinions are punishable, and the refusal to take part in certain practices is as well. Your own practices are of no consequence whatsoever, unless you are progressive. Rather than embracing a philosophy of "live and let live", progressives push the doctrine of "live as we do or be ruined." That is their definition of tolerance.


"We've always been at war with __________."

I said above that progressivism is Ingsoc in every respect; yet there remains one area of the book 1984 that I haven't spoken of: constant military action, which are used to both justify the assaults on their liberties that they suffer at home and to distract them from other abuses.

The United States has not formally declared war on another country since World War II. That sounds incredible, but it's true. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada, the Libyan Campaigns, the Gulf War, the "War on Terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan... all were done without any declaration of war, and they've been carried on in much the same way despite the rhetoric of the political party in office.

The United Nations by agreement have effectively outlawed declarations of war, except for self defense. Thus, it has politically important to not appear to be the aggressor, even if you're the aggressor. Instead, military action is taken under Congressional "authorizations for use of military force".

Of course, this has some ramifications, one of which is that we have slid into a de facto constant state of war. Certain actions which should only be allowable in wartime, such as calling up the Guard and Reserves for active duty, happen routinely. The War is continuous... but The Enemy is not.

In the time it takes you to say "we've always been at war with Eurasia" we can change enemies. For example:
  • In 1953 The US backed the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh and re-instate its monarch, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (our friend). This temporarily stabilized the region until the Shah's excesses led to a popular revolt.
  • In the 1970s the US took a more active role in Middle East politics, brokering an historic accord between Egypt (our friend) and Israel (our friend)
  • In 1979, the Iranian revolution saw the detention of 52 American hostages in the US Embassy in Teheran by Islamic students who were protesting the reign of the Shah (our friend). The Shah was deposed and replaced with the Ayatollah Khomenei (our enemy)
  • So when Saddam Hussein (our friend) invaded Iran (our enemy), he did so with American backing. But as our policy was to maintain balance, we also armed the enemy of our friend, Iran, who was our enemy, having overthrown the Shah. 
  • Since we could not do this overtly, and needed the money to fight Noriega (our enemy) in Nicaragua, we sold Iran arms under the table. We then fought against Saddam (our enemy) in the first Gulf War when he invaded Kuwait (our friend).
  • Meanwhile, the US backed Afghani insurgents against an invasion by the Soviets (our enemy). Reagan praised these rebels (our friends) as the equivalent of our Founding Fathers. Some of these same rebels became became Al-Qaeda (our enemies), who flew planes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon building. This they did with the backing of other former Afghani rebels (our friends) who became the Taliban (our enemy) who had taken power in that country.
  • We fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan (our enemies), but took that war to Iraq (our enemy), which we saw as a training ground for Al-Qaeda terrorists, and using the opportunity to finish off Saddam Hussein (our enemy)
  • Multi-party elections saw the implementation of democracy in Iraq (our friend) except for the Sunnis, who refused to vote. 
  • Meanwhile... a fellow named Muammar al-Gaddafi (which can be spelled however you like) rose to prominence in Libya by overthrowing King Idris in 1969. Gaddafi declared the state a socialist republic and proceeded to rule as dictator. He gained international attention by funding "revolutionary militants" (who we would today call "terrorists"), including those who blew up Pan Am flight 103 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland. The bombastic Gaddafi stepped too far when he ordered the bombing of a disco in West Berlin (our friend). The US responded by bombing Libya (our enemy) at Tripoli and Benghazi. 
  • In later years Gaddafi repudiated terrorism and embraced Pan-Africanism, rejecting Arab nationalism and encouraging privatization (our friend). Nevertheless when the Arab Spring erupted in Tunisia, this series of revolutions originally sparked by economics was quickly turned to the favor of Islamic ideologues, and spread to neighboring countries, one of which was  Egypt (our friend), with the overthrow of Hasni Mubarak (our friend) by the Muslim Brotherhood (our friend enemy  fuck it) being hailed by the US media who condemned it. The replacement government of Egypt  was then itself replaced by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (our acquaintance).
  • As part of this Arab Spring, Gaddafi (our frenemy) was deposed in large part by the Al-Qaeda-organized Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (our enemy) which maintains a stronghold in Libya (it's complicated) today in an effort to establish an Islamic State (our enemy).
  • This same Arab Spring destabilized Syria, allowing new organizations to rise, including one which was formed from US-backed Al-Qaeda operatives (our enemies) and Sunni Syrian rebels (our friends) and which now calls itself the ISIS, ISIL, or Daesch (our enemies) and which has taken advantage of the destabilization of Iraq (remember the Sunnis who wouldn't vote?) to establish their own "Islamic State" (our enemies), expanding from Syria into large tracts of Iraq using weapons we provided to do so.
The list of our friends has included Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS; whereas the list of our enemies has included Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Note the difference.

Since the Eisenhower administration, we have applied more and more interference to a region that has become more and more destabilized the more we interfere. We back insurgents against our enemies and as soon as they gain power they become our enemies themselves, time and again. We have switched friendships and enmities so many times I don't think our leadership is quite sure who is who anymore, and we do it with seamless aplomb. Yet the fact remains: We've always been at war with Eastasia.

And what is demanded of us in the wake of constant conflicts? We are asked to surrender our privacy, allow our travel to be restricted by the State for reasons that they need not disclose, and suffer other abuses in the name of "Homeland Security". In a far more abstract endless "War on Drugs" we allow the State to simply steal from us without proof or due process, on the basis of mere unfounded allegation, and we euphemistically call this institutionalized robbery "civil forfeiture". We suffer escalating indignities and in the name of "security" are made fearful of speech, travel, and private commerce.

Note that none of this is unique to progressives... however, progressives do nothing to prevent it either. If anything, the reckless destabilization of the Middle East and the abuses at home have not only been continued, but escalated under Obama, with constant wars, interventions, deployments, surveillance, and forfeitures. And as we enter the Lame Duck season we should stop kidding ourselves and just say it:

Postmodern progressivism is Ingsoc in every respect.


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