Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

The Atlantic and Billy Jo Bubba

Posted by DNW on 2014/04/08


[Update: This is a posting which was done primarily as an exercise last night, and which was posted prematurely, almost in real-time or on the fly. I have now made a number of “live” changes which make the references more explicit and precise, and less presumptive and garbled. It should aid in a comparatively better understanding of what I was trying to say: in the unlikely event anyone actually read it all the way through it when it first went up …]

While commenting the other day on our post regarding AOL’s Gay Social Affirmation Hell, commenter AOTC was inspired to provide a link to “The Atlantic” online’s site, wherein an economist by the name of Noah Smith was busying himself in part, with a chirpy celebration of what he the imagines to be the permanent triumph of the so-called “progressive” side of the culture wars.

“The Culture War is over, and the liberals have won. With the legalization and broad acceptance of gay marriage, the last great bastion of government-supported traditionalism in Western society has been swept away. Elsewhere, the armies of traditionalism are collapsing on almost every front. America is becoming less religious with stunning speed. Interracial marriage, once banned, is now the norm. Marijuana is slowly being legalized for recreational use. Women are close to achieving economic equality with men, and female breadwinners are becoming the norm. Casual sex is almost universally tolerated as a permissible recreational activity.”

Now, I’m not even going to bother unpacking the logical confusions and conflations found in that rather typical piece of progressive rhetoric. It is after all rhetoric not reasoning. It’s rhetoric directed at what the polymorphous perverse community envision as the proper temperature and humidity for their planned social hothouse; and not at all what might be more coolly deduced from an objective reality; a reality the objectivity of which they are not only skeptical, but which they – or their philosophical high priests – often go on to assert as ultimately unintelligible and intrinsically pointless, anyway.

So instead, I’ll simply note the next move Noah Smith makes, which is to advise his own side that when it comes to politics, managerial prudence dictates behavioral restraint in unconditional victory. And, that in this case, it is good policy to avoid despoiling the lives and property of those bitter clingers who still retain outmoded attachments to concepts like the supernatural, teleologically premissed morals, binary gender, and quite probably, to the notion of the self itself.

Thus he announces,

“Any time you win a great victory after years or decades of bitter struggle, there is the temptation to pillage the lands of the conquered enemy. This is always a mistake.”

Yeah. They have the freedom and the strength, to actually pillage? Well, I suppose Noah Smith, along with Pajama Boy, and the rest of the kind can be forgiven for imagining that no one would even think of resisting progressive overreach in a way which they might find surprising. After all, the “Taxed Enough Already” movement protests almost caused them a psychic breakdown as it was.

Imagine then what a traditionalist’s pledge of social disengagement, taken in order to allow the progressive kind to live or die in a ditch of their own digging, to reap without underwriting or support what they have themselves sown, might do to the progressives’ mental equilibria.

Anyway, even the mooting of such questions indirectly and in a response to that precious little victory dance, appears, and I repeat here “appears”, to be out of progressive community bounds.

For I tried to do just that: that is to to say to offer up my suggestion that they in effect adopt some critical distance of their own.

However, upon following AOTC’s link to the site, and attempting to leave a WordPress comment there using this Truth Before Dishonor WordPress blogging ID, I ran into some initial difficulty. [Perhaps it was of my own making. I do not know.]

Therefore, I next tried registering to leave a comment using an alternate AOL screen name. That did not work out as I wished, either. So, I finally registered using a Google g-mail address through Disquis, employing an address name which is precisely the same name as my alternate AOL e-mail account. And, ultimately then, after some little while, I was able to post a comment under “North Charlton”. Same, same, AOL and Google. Whoopee.

Which brings us to the following observation. Left-liberals, so-called progressives, seem to be an extraordinarily sensitive lot when it comes to facing the redounding implications of their own worldview; even when so confronted temperately and in relatively sophisticated (or so one would imagine) forums.

We here have witnessed that progressive tendency to bridle in the past on a more local level: on Dana’s old Common Sense Political Thought blog. Repeat the implications of what they, the progressives, have said about reality or mankind back to them, and as specifically applying to them, and they go off the emotional rails. On Common Sense Political Thought however, they could only call for censoring, not effect it.

“Progressives” obviously talk freely of their triumphing over “the enemy”, but they apparently cannot abide “the enemy” granting them in return their assertion of enemy status, and noting that he is in fact prepared to accept that he is their enemy, and as such, an enemy in the very same existential way and sense which they originally intended.

Thus they casually speak of a supposedly justifiable impulse they have to despoil this traditionalist enemy’s life and substance; but in this case while generously refraining from doing so (only so a more efficient and pacific implementation of their vision of human re-engineering might be realized) in the name of the “nation”.

And then, they seem taken aback, or even alarmed, when their peculiar notions regarding the significance of nation or community are scoffed at.

In any event, tempted by AOTC’s pointing toward a potential challenge, I persisted and finally posted a comment.

As a result, one reader graciously remarked that she wished there were more like it.

Another, “Billy Jo Bubba”, asked me to clarify what I had meant by a certain phrase I had used concerning conservatives’ sometimes politically debilitating “moral inhibitions”. I responded to Billy Jo. I checked to see if my response to him posted up successfully, and it did. So I saved the page.

Then, my reply to Billy Jo disappeared.

Billy Jo nonetheless responded to my now missing reply: observing that he had in fact seen it, but that in the meanwhile something had happened to it and it was now gone.

Acknowledging Billy Jo again, I said I would re-post the exact reply to which he was referring for the sake of thread clarity. I did. I checked back. It took. It remained for a while.

Then, it disappeared too.

So, I left a 3rd and textually different response to Billy Jo. This one, stating that my two previous replies to his direct request for terminological clarification had mysteriously vanished, but I knew not why.

I then checked and noted that that reply had also initially posted up successfully; just as did the previous two. There it, however, unlike the preceding two, remained. And there it remains some days later.

What are we to infer from this? Well, as you can see from my remarks above, I have my suspicions based on this and past experiences with progressives. Though, I am not absolutely positive about it in this case. Just, let’s say, reasonably skeptical, that it was a pure coincidence.

I did however as I said, think to save the pages immediately after I successfully placed my original remarks.

I’ll now place the subject chain of exchanges below. I’ve read and reread them, and cannot for the life of me figure out what it was that I said which might cause a progressive, or his proxies, to interrupt a victory lap just to take it down. It was after all no more than a demurrer which was offered up based on the progressive’s own worldview.

But, provisionally, it does seem to be the case that my remarks were repeatedly taken down. I would of course be glad to learn that it was otherwise and that some defect in my browser or use of it caused the problem.

In any event, the last comment in the series is the one that repeatedly “vanished”.

Regarding then, Noah Smith and his Atlantic vaunt …

North Charlton • 2 days ago

Generous of you to forgo the indulgence of revenge.

Though, I am not sure what form of political revenge a progressive could indulge in which would leave the Democrat Party’s own client class of dependants untouched; or which would alternately fail to awaken conservatives to the fact that it has been their own moral inhibitions which have allowed the progressives to flourish as they have in the first place.

Eventually, conservatives may even get wise, and recognize that they’ve been fighting not only the left, but their own moral baggage and scrupulosity: assuming fundamentally like cases when no such fundamental likenesses obtained.

Politically progressive activists, and philosophers like Rorty for example, have long ceased pretending that their ethical claims and social shaping aims and stratagems could in any way be coherently said to follow from their nominalist metaphysical premisses. So, they decided to focus instead on what “we wish to become” rather than what we once were said, or thought, to essentially be.

However, even in a progressive moral universe, one with no notion of actually occurring natural kinds, it’s difficult to initially avoid arguing as if there were real kinds with real natures implying real rights; and maybe rhetorically unwise – even if dishonest – to try and do so.

So, issues have to be gradually re-framed conceptually in terms of emotions and expanding circles of concern for those emotion-things that now stand in place of what we once thought of as humans with intrinsic and shared natures, and objectively deducible ethical boundaries and obligations and entitlements.

It will henceforth become about what we wish to be … whatever it is “we” are made up of, or defined as, by whom or whatever. The progressive reasoning gets a little vague at that point.

Well, the problem of course is that, that “we” word, along with all its allied concepts and terms, is also clearly problematical.

And therefore when it comes to the spectacle of rhetorical flag waving, it is mightily amusing indeed to read someone from the left making concern noises about “the nation”, when the entire concept has become so ridiculously attenuated as to carry little or no emotional weight anyway; not to mention very little if anything in the way of any objectively ascertainable meaning.

Nation is no longer about “ethnicity”, and it’s certainly not about shared values and objectively deduced ideals. Nor obviously, is it about held in common goals and tastes, much less interests. Nor much of anything else as far as I can see.

It – the appeal to nation – is then more or less just the brandishing of a nowadays vaguely fascistical sounding but quickly obsolescing term, held over from the days when American post Civil War political consolidationists figured it carried a bigger emotional wallop, and therefore allowed more constitutional transgressions, than did the term “the republic”.

I guess modern progressives still figure the same.

But they figure wrong.

The question then is why anyone who is not polymorphous perverse themselves, should care to waste their time validating anyone who is, or why it would be in their interest to shore up a system that does …

After all, tolerating absurdity is one thing when it costs you nothing; or, very little apart from annoyance.

But marching in the linked-arm parade of the absurdists, as if you are morally obligated to give a damn about, or even participate in their fate, or can be intimidated to do so without the threat or use of violence, is quite another.

No, it’s probably not over. In fact, things may have just begun to get interesting.

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Ellie K > North Charlton • 2 days ago

Why are you among the tiny minority of people who articulate their opinions online? I wish I could upvote you 50 times. You are correct, in every regard. This crummy post , by crummy Noah, makes me cringe in revulsion and fear. It is oppressive and intolerant of diversity of religion (having belief, of any sort, isn’t allowed now), sexual and reproductive preference (no place for being a woman and wanting to marry a man of the same race and religion, wearing a wedding ring, then having a baby or maybe even two, and being faithful to each other all the days of one’s life) etc. There is no national cohesion, thanks to so-called modern progressives. The newly redesigned Dept of the Interior reflects this. There are no white men. There are no Asian people. There are elderly white women, no young ones with children. There are big murals of crowds of Native Americans and black people and Hispanic people, but no pictures of little families or young people going fishing or hunting. Whose land is it? Not yours and mine. It belongs to modern progressives, apparently.

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Billy Jo Bubba > North Charlton • 14 hours ago

Could you clarify what you mean by ‘moral inhibitions’ of conservatives?

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North Charlton > Billy Jo Bubba • 2 minutes ago

“Could you clarify what you mean by ‘moral inhibitions’ of conservatives?”

You can think of it operating in various ways, and on various levels.

My reference to Rorty’s nominalism as informing his theory – if you want to call it a theory – of ethical behavior, and the “objects” of his attention on the one hand, in contrast to what is generally some form of realism embraced by conservatives (I am speaking very generally here) on the other hand, should give you a picture of two populations having fundamentally different views about reality, and about what a human “really is”, and is entitled by that status to; if to anything.

Let’s put this in extreme terms. A Roman Catholic child, for example, is taught based on a supernaturally directed belief and a mediated and modified Aristotelian realist metaphysics, that he has a soul destined for eternity, and that what he does in relation to or to other human beings has an objective rightness or wrongness to it in the here and now, and a cosmic and eternal significance that continues beyond the present life, afterwards.

On the other hand, whatever inhibitions the progressive left may have in doing unto others, that is not one of the considerations that informs their consciences.

No Marxist Leninist has any absolute compunction about breaking eggs in order to make his social omelet; human beings are not seen as ends in themselves but social elements entitled, or not, to certain “sensual” (in the Marxist sense) satisfactions.

It is generally acknowledged by progressive writers ( and I don’t think that I need to start listing names, do I?) that politics is useful for shaping and molding society, and as a result the reproducing population, as the progressive wishes it to be.

The progressive has fewer compunctions about shaping the people through the agency of the state. Which is not to say anything particularly remarkable, but just something that needs to be borne in mind; i.e., the moral inhibitions of the parties, conservatives and libertarians on the one hand, and left-progressives on the other, are not symmetrical.

The conservative inhibition I refer to here then, is one that comes from their worldview and teleological moral lens; which sees intrinsic value in (or projects it onto) beings who themselves argue that any such framework is an illusion, and any such value a result of that illusion, or worse, a supernaturally oriented superstition.

My personal opinion is that perhaps conservatives, and most certainly libertarians, should make the following intellectual move: they should hypothetically grant the persons, or the organisms if you will, of the left the dignity of taking them seriously when they say that life has no inherent purpose, that values are radically subjective or relative, that natural kinds do not exist, or that the ends justify the means, and so forth.

And then once having granted that – at least and specifically as regards the progressive person making the claim – the person who is not a progressive, should take a careful look at the person who says he is a progressive, through the progressive’s own metaphysical lens.

And then he the non-progressive should be straight with himself, no matter how brutal the view seems, as to just what he sees when focusing on the progressives through that reducing lens of their own creation; and what ethical implications might follow or inferences be validly drawn.

If after having performed that reductio, one cannot still then see the asymmetry I refer to, then … well …

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