Sunday, April 28, 2013

Real Diversity and Fake Compromise

With the failure of the gun legislation, some people seem kind of surprised that the "plurality" of Americans who want the new regulations aren't getting what they want. Obama appeared visibly angry, and at the end of that linked article, you'll notice that the Post blames the messaging and nothing more fundamental. To them, this has been a public relations failure, not a failure of principle that the democratic system, for once, actually worked to stop. Obama's administration-
tried like hell to emphasize that the proposals in the bill were ones that drew support across party lines. But, their failure to make that case effectively speaks to the entrenched views much of the country holds on guns. The conclusion? Most people simply weren’t really listening to the argument President Obama was trying to make.
Nice adverb use at the end... but anyway, this makes me want to talk about compromise, because that quote helps display a subtle but effective tactic of the press used to endorse someone's actions implicitly without showing too much journalistic bias. Obama is painted as the one compromising and engaging in bipartisan behavior. Whether or not it was a good idea to emotionally launch legislation in response to violence that the legislation couldn't have possibly prevented clearly has no bearing on the situation, because he's going about getting what he wants like a gentleman.

Compromise can be fun. Let's say, for example, that I'm a very enthusiastic surgeon general and I decide that I want everyone in the United States to eat salad twice a day, so I find a way push a bill into Congress to that effect. Sound crazy? Slow down, hoss; I can come up with plenty of data, reams of statistics, to show that salad twice a day would be a boon to national health. This new legislation shows that I have America's best interests in mind. Never mind what it does to the concepts of personal responsibility that make up a large chunk of the individualist foundation of all Western philosophical thought; I'm being the rational one here. I know your constituency won't like it, Mr. Congressman, but don't worry! I'm prepared to compromise, and only force people to eat salad once per day! See? Aren't I being nice about this? You can say you did everything in your power to hold back the salad Armageddon, and things certainly could have gone worse.

This prizing of compromise is like many other ethical ideas: it's just a tactic to make one's presentation look better, by making the presenter more sympathetic. He's trying to be nice, decent, caring, interested in your point of view, listening to your point of view, flattering the opposition with attention while making sure not to kick up any defensive reaction by just coming out and saying what he wants. Did I actually want people eating salad twice a day, or did I actually want once a day, and I just start with a highball offer, meaning to get talked down like I'm selling a Chevy on craigslist? That should flatter their ego, and really make 'em look like assholes if they say no!

Remember, if they refuse, then they hold "entrenched views".

This is basically maneuvering like a passive-aggressive girlfriend. It's disrespectful, not so much because it's a power game, but because it's a dishonest power game where the raw public opinion, no matter how temporary, becomes a weapon. And it says fuckall about whether or not the idea on the table has value.

Why value compromise so highly? Because it's their way. We know these people, and listening to them talk is like listening to an engine misfire. In their desire for a borderless, egalitarian home untrammeled by structure, they have developed their own worldview.

And boy, it's a stupid worldview. There is something truly, intractably screwed up about the way that notions of freedom, justice, values, power, morality, judgment, exchange, and other such terms mix in the liberal mind to form their culture, and their perspective on culture. Compromise is their solution to conflicts of interest between equal people that are sharing the same space, a necessity for a borderless, centralized world. For this equality, all must be equally vulnerable, with no sharp objects for the children. Think about the old Judeo-Christian preference for the weak over the strong, that facet of Western thought Nietzsche referred to as slave morality. Tolerate everything, and never place your own values above those of others; never empower yourself, or even consider empowering yourself, as there is always a cost to others. Anything else is selfishness or racism. The liberal attitude towards guns and their attitudes towards compromise show this in spades.

This sounds like a description of a set of cultural values, a set which is intolerant of other systems of thought. Liberals are aware of this, and soften their own intolerance by talking about, among other things, compromise, at least when politically expedient. But despite this, I'm not convinced that liberals understand the concept of cultural identity at all. Holding shared values encourages trust, but gun legislation very strongly shows a lack of trust. And if you are a part of a culture which holds a set of values but does not impose its values on others, and thereby encourages trust among your own, then it is perfectly natural to acknowledge that 'your people' are different from other people, and to hope for a space or some outward expression within which those values can be understood as shared. That's what walls, borders, property, and identifying aspects of appearance and mannerisms can do for you. They are exclusionary, and rightly so; endless compromise begets endless destruction of ideals, and sensible people understand this. But today's liberal wants no borders and absolute inclusion; basically, the solution to perfectly normal human conflicts of interest is to strip identity and loyalties down to nothing but meaningless preferences. And hence, we get multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism is so bad for trust that the most high-profile sociologist in the country suppressed his own research for six years after doing a massive study on it, and all the attempts to put a happy face on those results fail miserably. The assertion that, over decades, communities forge new ties and go on like nothing happened under multicultural circumstances is un-tested, un-testable, and historically dubious: people forge new ties because war, poverty, and other emergencies force people to cooperate in order to survive, resolving conflicting values by necessity and creating new hierarchies. It's the kind of thing that struggle, military and economic, brings about. Meanwhile, liberals are also promoting a welfare state to delay this forced interdependency as long as possible. This set of policies is, quite simply, an anti-cultural agenda masquerading as morality. They are not so much creating a new, systemically workable culture so much as eliminating the possibility that any dominant culture can develop.

The democratic games are, of course, power games themselves, which liberals believe to be legitimate because the government creating the laws is elected. But does getting a 51% majority in the electoral college directly translate into legitimacy? Because it sounds like a majoritarian ideal, one played to because it's easy to sell stupid people on the need to fight against the hierarchy which "oppresses" them. For liberals, this is morally right, not a cultural belief. Thus, for liberals, law goes beyond culture because it is moral, and their morality is universal. But that undermines that poorly thought-out idea they love as much as most Americans, freedom. So how do they square this circle of crap? They don't. They rely on the intuitions of the average voter, greased by simple-minded mass communications, who's sense of justice today is based on whatever they can convince themselves they deserve. That goes bad when they try to convince people that they don't deserve the right to carry a gun because you might go bat-shit insane. They might be less surprised by this if they actually understood how Utopian and ridiculous their own motivations were.

Try as they might, they cannot pretend to liberation, trust, and equality simultaneously. We have a name for those who trust everyone with no regard for their values and character. That name is stupid. A society has to choose who's worthy of trust and who isn't. When you can accept that trust relies on the prerogative of a group to disqualify and discard those who don't meet agreed-upon cultural standards, then you've gotten to the point where you can think like an adult and see humanity honestly. Then you can accept boundaries, and the genuine diversity the walls allow. Without the walls, we have no hope for blending peace and an allowance for individual and cultural beliefs.

I don't have a problem with them trying to get gun legislation passed - I've come to expect stupidity - but I do have a problem with the attempt to go through the federal government to get past local and state government, just like I have a problem with the push from the UN to regulate the arms trade. The centralization, even though it looks so inevitable, needs to stop.

PS: Since writing this, a friend posted up a blog by Kontra - who is a leftist but also loves his guns - which reinforces many of my points and takes many of them further. Clearly, I am not usually on this man's side, but one thing about well-educated liberals is that when they don't like something, they really blast it without mercy and strike the right notes as often as not. Kontra's irritation with using children in anti-gun propaganda is a particularly good example of the kind of messaging manipulation I've come to heavily despise. I wish I could sit down with this guy over a beer and discuss the rest of his worldview with him. 

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