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Saturday, July 16, 2011

No Red Lines for the Left

Every society has its red lines. Areas that are off limits. Behaviors that are unacceptable. Lines that should not be crossed. And the left has progressively dismantled the red lines that constrain it, while seizing control of the infrastructure that marks out a society's red lines. By controlling that cultural infrastructure, the left can insure that all of a society's remaining standards are double standards.

The inability to hold the left accountable for its actions is traceable back to this lack of standards. How does one call for accountability when there is no objective standard to measure the wrongness of an action against? Without it, every argument turns into a war of values. And even the mildest issues usher in another culture war.

The left constantly sets red lines for the right, but any attempt to set red lines for it leads to cries of McCarthyism. The party that fifteen years earlier had rounded up people into detention camps for the crime of being Japanese, got on its high horse because a few Hollywood Communists were being held accountable for participating in a conspiracy to overthrow the United States. The same people who had approved of the crackdown on the Bund and Trotskyists during WW2 turned into die hard defenders of freedom, when it was the Hollywood Comrades turn during the Cold War.

So it still goes today. Dissent is patriotic, except when they're the ones being dissented against. Then it's shut up and do what you're told. Corporate welfare is wrong, except when they're signing and cashing the checks. Running up a deficit to improve the economy is voodoo economics, except when they're the witch doctors. Illegal wars become legal when they wage them. And an imperial presidency is just fine when theirs is the head that wears the golden crown.

Obama is not just post-American, he is post-Standards. Like Bill Clinton, few if any rules actually apply to him. There is no point in listing all the standards he hasn't met. It's enough to look for one that he has actually met, and come up empty. He can't be judged by his performance, by his patriotism or even by his attendance. About the only standard we're allowed to judge him on is historicity. A position that admits the lack of any other standards to measure him by, but race.

This isn't racism. If it were the same standard would also cover Justice Clarence Thomas. But it doesn't. Because it isn't a standard, it's a bias. Standards may be irrational and wrong, but they are consistent. The only standard that the left accepts is its own rightness. In all circumstances and contexts, it is always right. And the right is always wrong.

Red lines require consensus. And the left's war on values and tradition has fractured the old consensus. Instead they present a manufactured consensus using their cultural leverage to create the illusion that their values are now the national values. But their consensus is only a mirage, because their values are standards-free. If their consensus came with actual standards, then the public could use it to determine right and wrong. But instead the media is needed to constantly update the public on what they are supposed to be thinking now. How they're supposed to feel about the war, political dissent or a mandate compelling them to purchase health insurance.

Like Orwell's Newspeak, the "consensus" is always changing. And a Doublethink process is needed to believe that contradictory views become reconciled on the instructions of the party. That war is bad, unless we are the ones fighting it. That giving billions of dollars to corporations is bad unless we're the ones doing it. That nuclear power is bad until we're the ones supporting it.

The modern liberal like the Ingsoc party member must always keep in mind that the relative merits of an issue don't matter. Only the party's position on it does. This requires either great cynicism or servility , and since Americans are poorly fitted for either, much of the New York Times editorial page is dedicated to reconciling these contradictions through entirely new ways of thinking. This constant need for perspective shifts, for finding new ways to see old ideas in order to take away their context and with that act reconcile the contradictions, betrays the lack of standards. Look down and there isn't a boat, but a sea of shifting waves. To continue being a liberal, you must believe that you can walk on water.

The lack of standards means that no behavior is properly off limits. Fantasizing about assassinating a president from a rival party is acceptable. Sexually degrading a female presidential or vice presidential candidate is part of the fun. Conducting a war in defiance of congressional authority is fine. Using executive orders to bypass congress, is the new democracy. There are no red lines. Nothing that is natively wrong. Only things that the manufactured consensus says is wrong. And that consensus is always changing.

How does such a society go on functioning? In many of the important ways, it doesn't. The consensus is what binds a society together, beyond tribalism, below law and above anarchy. When the consensus breaks down, arguments become more violent and politics becomes more ruthless. Mob rule begins to emerge, picking on the weak. Decency becomes outmoded. Rudeness becomes the norm. Everyone is afraid to say the wrong thing and relishes the chance to freely hurl abuse. No one knows what right and wrong are anymore, and so they either do nothing or do everything.

The political culture turns into a naked power grab as the realization seeps in that there are no more rules. That the winners can make their own rules and justify their actions with a barrage of propaganda. But politics always carries doses of that. What changes is that the people operate the same way. Faith in good government dies. Everyone looks for a patron, for political connections to get them what they want. Law and order ceases to exist except as the punch line to a joke. Theft is ubiquitous and the authorities take their cut. Every problem can be solved with a bribe. And the wrong word is more dangerous than a bullet.

It's easy enough to visit places that look like this today. They fill some 85 percent of the globe. But the civilized world is quickly getting there. The only barrier we had against it was a culture with standards, not merely set in law, as the world is full of laws, but in tradition and a public morality based on decency. Law is no defense against barbarism. Not simply because in a barbaric culture, the barbarians make the law, but because barbarians don't uphold law as a consistent standard. Only as an interest.

Consistency requires reason and skeptical self-examination. These are the compass of the mind and the society that prevent it from getting lost. Without that compass, it is easy to wander around in circles based on subjective impressions of the scenery. If a direction looks like it might be the right way, you go that way. If an action feels right, then you do it.

In a recent Michael J. Totten article he tries to understand how the Muslims he encounters in Israel can have "have two contradictory yet sincere thoughts". The answer is that consistency of ideas through examination and awareness is an attribute of advanced civilizations. Backward societies don't lack sophistication. They can develop extremely complex languages, scripts, rituals and techniques. What they lack are standards. Whether it is the scientific standard that tests for errors in one's own reasoning or just being able to measure the inconsistency in your own words.

Liberals present themselves as the self-examiners of Western society, the reformers who look deeply into its laws and moral contradictions, and offer a new way to bring our actions into line with our ideals. But then how do they explain their consistent and pervasive blindness to their own faults? Their adherence to rigid ideologies and their willingness to destroy one another over minor differences in doctrine. Their leader worship and shunning of dissent. Their constant historical revisionism which glosses over their own mistakes. The refusal to admit they are wrong even when disaster is all around them.

These are not the attributes of rational people. This is not the behavior of self-examiners. It is plainly cultic. A search for power symbols and an absolutist state. The left's refusal to accept red lines with clear standards is a symptom of the reactionary nature of their power setup. Like the Muslims that Totten encounters, they are consumed by contradiction. But unlike them, they are still part of a society where the awareness of such contradictions must be actively suppressed. That however is changing.

As the left destroys the remaining standards, they are destroying the only thing that keeps us from being savages with cell phones. A moral code which we answer to, rather than a code that answers to us. Laws are only as good as the culture that makes them. And law is no substitute for social practices that prevent the conflicts which invite the intervention of law.

A society where everyone steals will have a great many prisons and police, but it will still be a society where everyone steals, because there is no reason not to except fear of consequences. Societies such as this will always be inherently totalitarian. They will only function at gunpoint, and replace one tyrant with another. Because the tyrant and his secret police are the only thing standing between them and anarchy.

Think of Russia after the fall of Communism or Egypt after the overthrow of Mubarak. And then think of America if another generation of this goes on. We may still have elections and flags and fireworks on the fourth, but we will be savages. And we will be unable to see that and unable to change. A society without social standards that derive from from people, rather than being imposed on them, is savage. It has laws, but no justice. Books and newspapers but no truth. Religion, but no right and wrong. Craftsmanship and ingenuity but no science. Power, but no purpose. Life, but no hope.

The left is leading us toward barbarism by way of a cultural war that they have been waging against us in the name of reform. What they promised is equality through order. But now all that remains is the order. Order in the name of a moral code that derives from themselves. Order in the name of world peace. Order in the name of the planet. But all order is in the name of power.

When they turned away from all standards but their own shifting interests, they broke with the larger society and with any rational code. They have declared war against every code and standard, while replacing them with themselves as the arbitrators. The absolute judges of right and wrong. This is tyranny. Cultural tyranny swiftly leads to political tyranny and we have both of those today in the form of a political priesthood of organizers, activists and leaders who are determined to control every aspect of our lives. Without any accountability of their own.

What is at stake is not only our freedom, but our civilization and our reason. What is at stake is not only whether we will be free, but whether our children will even understand what freedom is. When there are no red lines for the powerful anymore, then there is no freedom for anyone else.

19 comments:

Michael Gersh said...

A devastating column, Daniel. We are embarked on a voyage into territory that has been explored before, but not by us. We have always thought that We the People and our nation are better than those which came before. But perhaps not. Obama and his minions are willing to pursue their dreams of absolute power over "the great unwashed" with no regard for a possible negative outcome. They believe that they can spend with no limit, that politics can overcome all objective barriers. I have predicted, do predict, that there will be no deficit agreement, that Obama believes that this is all about politics, that winning the political argument will mean victory. Their victory will be hollow.

I now crave a default. Let them close the national parks, default on whatever they do not like, and try to blame the republicans. I have faith in the American people. The democrats believe We the People to be idiots. I hold them, and us, to a higher standard. If I am wrong, then let the devil take the hindmost, but I am confident that this nation will clearly see the revolution Obama represents runs counter to what most Americans want.

Either way, this is a denouement that is required at this historic time.

TBS said...

IT can be summed up:

I/me/us/we good and great and amazing.

You BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDD!!!!!
Always always always BAAAAAAAAAAADD!! Where's my stick!

TBS said...

Michael, as I see it (we have a similar problem in Australia) I think you're missing the point.

They do not care whethre their victory is hollow or not. These are shallow liars. Their only measure is whether they win, not whether anyone respects them.
Do you really think they crave your good opinion??

The DEmocrats may well believe the American people to be idiots, and with good reason - THEY ELECTED OBAMA.
Sensible, moral, conservative people ELECTED OBAMA. In other words, they fell for the con.
And they're paying big time for it.

That was all the Obama crowd needed. Now they've dug their nest in the flesh of America and it will need a concerted effort to dig them out. That's what happens when you elect a Messiah instead of a President.

James Burke said...

Americans are decent people but VERY FOOLISH to have fell for this con artist, Obama. Once elected, totally ignored ALL that he promised, ie, posting bills on the white house website for 5 days and to be nonpartisan. As usual, libs pass "unpopular" bills on friday afternoon, when the "the sea of idiots" are in traffic and too exhausted to notice.

And yes, lefties are a curse on the west and putting all of us at risk, especially the wealthy ones who support the libs and hide money offshore.

Lib collective thought has ruined Canada. We will never pay off our debts and are getting into more debt, especially at the personal level.

What do we now before its too late?

Kill them? Demand that conservatives deem that modern liberalism ( ie, socialism ) be outlawed? Im sure that the US Constitution has an article saying that a party cannot deem that another party be banned.

So do we flee to the Caribbean and hide?

Mr ED said...

The all to human desire for power over others is familiar ground to anyone over the age of 5, but Modern Libs try and tart up their own insatiable hunger for power with endless misidrections, mostly using whatever "victim" groups they can dredge up as human shields in their war to assume total control over society and everyone in it. Modern Liberalism, along with its other incarnations Socialism/Communism are (potentially) the new Caesars path to power. Watching the Obamesiahs arrogant, petulant facial expressions remind me for all the world of the facist thugs back in the 1930's.


The now institutionalized human scum (Libfilth, Mediafilth, et al) who pariticpate in this campaign are in fact enemies of humanity itself and need to be seen as such. Treating the enemies of humanity as anything other than enemies of humanity is neither civilized nor enlightened. Community organizers like the Obamesiah never attempt to actually HELP the "victims" they supposedly represent, but only wish to use them as their personal riled-up mob which they (the Libfilth) can use as societal muscle for their protection racket, enriching themselves and their allies while attempting to takeover and remake the society into a collection of dependent, aggrieved "victims". Its an old formula, but it works.

Anonymous said...

Just another blockbuster posting from The Sultan. Thanks as always.

I think that one of the core issues here is the erosion of commitment to our common Judeo-christian culture, and that comes from the erosion of basic adherence to these religions. That has been the source of the common culture whose disappearance is so devastatingly well described in this article. Without these compasses, we are indeed a society with no red lines. One of our founders stated that the Constitution is suited only for the regulation of a moral people. That is another way of phrasing the same truism...without morality (which is an offshoot of religious conviction) there is no successful means of maintaining a civil society. These are HUGE issues. THANKS again.

Edward Cline said...

Re one of the illustrations: "Looters will be shot." Does it refer to our looting politicians? The ones looting our wealth and our rights? Food for thought. But under the scenario Daniel paints here, in which Americans are “managed” to preserve the “status quo” while civilized society collapses all around them, courtesy of a government of men and not of laws, men defending their property with guns from mobs of looters with stones and baseball bats are likely to be prosecuted and sent to reeducation camps to “get their minds straight.” Remember that Briton who was jailed for harming a burglar? Or the other Briton who was punished for privately burning a Koran? The irony is that neither criminals nor Muslims are interested in preserving the “status quo.” They’re only interested in seeing society “evolve” to the point that they can have anything they wish at any time without consequence. And as allies in that campaign, they have Obama, Pelosi, and the whole left-liberal political establishment and its sanctioning intelligentsia. Reality, however, will not be cheated. It is the worst avenger on the face of the earth.

Malcolm said...

Excellent article.

Did you by chance read Andrew Bostom's article regarding Michael Totten?

http://www.andrewbostom.org/blog/2011/07/15/totten-eyeless-in-zabibah-stan-egypt/

He’s baaack—this time from a trip to Egypt, where itinerant reporter Michael Totten, in his own inimitably vacuous assessment, was “hanging with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

"Totten is the classic uninformed roving Middle East reporter who consistently (and tediously) displays his profound historical and doctrinal ignorance of Islam as a badge of honor, or more aptly hubris. Consider this rather pathetic howler from an exchange (during a recent interview by the Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson) before Totten’s trip to Egypt, demonstrating his utter ignorance of basic, contemporary Egyptian history."

cruft said...

Will go back to finish this column in a moment. Twice have come across the confusion, so prevalent, between "morals & ethics". Ethics are concerned with the society of men, the group, while Morals are in the rhlem of God and man. This seems clear and I hate "babel".

Keli Ata said...

Wonderful article and comments as well.

I doubt liberals even understand what the "pursuit of happiness" really means. Their version of happiness is indeed without ethics, standards, or civility.

Happiness for them, misery for everyone else.

Mark Matis said...

I would once again note that there is ONE specific team of enablers for the Evil. EVERY ONE OF THEM has taken an oath to "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution..." before pinning on their badge and strapping on their gun. Just how much of this do you think would exist if even HALF of them would bother to honor that oath?

Lemon said...

I think it is really that 2 nations live in one place.
They look alike, but they do not sound alike or think alike.
Just like Esau and Jacob were twins, but diametrically opposed to one another. Good vs Evil.
You see this line being drawn in Europe, USA, Australia etc.

jlevyellow said...

Sultan wrote, "What is at stake is not only our freedom, but our civilization and our reason."

Reason is indeed at stake. Mr. Knish, you have written so frequently about Jews and Israel, but you did not mention them in this wonderful piece. What we mean, in essence, when we say "Judeo-Christian ethic" is two things after everything else is said and done.

1) Hillel's aphorism: Don't do to somebody else what you do not want done to you. And....

2) A value more associated with the practice of Judaism than any other religions: The first thing a truly pious Jew asks when confronted with a new situation is, "Am I allowed to do this, eat that, or engage in a particular form of discourse" Future behavior is always conditioned upon historical precedent.

This second point explains in part why liberal Jews flee from orthodox practice. It is hard to be a Jew even if no one is persecuting you.

This restrictive attitude may also be at the core of Leftist opposition to Israel and Jews qua Jews, since as you sagaciously noted about Leftists in so many ways, "If I do not need standards for myself except those I choose, I am not going to let you live by standards that suggest that standards are better than no standards at all." Just the idea that the Israeli army can teach its members about "purity of arms" in battle implies that the Jews are better than the Muslims who lob missiles at anyone in Israel they can catch napping. Death is just death, after all. Well either death is important or it's not, depending upon your standards.

Anonymous said...

In the UK we are going through the same thing, for quite some years now, actually.

Look at the Millie Dowler case at the moment and fone hacking....... And this from Melanie Phillips' blog (she isn't in the spectator any more, only thing I went on there for):

http://www.melaniephillips.com/is-this-how-a-labour-mp-should-behave

I haven't blogged for ages, tho, couldn't resist the other day, it was about the ill informed throwing their weight about to get the 'Palestinians' yet another country: I'd just been reading a 1973 National Geographic and there was no mention of Palestinians, just arabs and Jews, funny that, considering they claim to have been around since the year dot, don't you think? kate b

cornholio said...

@Kate B., I used to read in my grandmother's old late 1960's National Geographics about Jews and Arabs living side by side and cooperating. Even back then the National Geographic turned a blind eye to islamonazi terrorism -- which was called by a different name, but was the same ugly, violent, bloody, intolerant bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. If hell is a place with no reason, it's pretty obvious who is really writing the liberal playbook.

Anonymous said...

Cornholio, I didn't realise the venom went that far back. kate b

cornholio said...

@Kate B, back in the 1960's cross border raids were being launched by islamonazis into Israel in which they would kill Israelis indiscriminately. I believe back then they were called feyadeen raids.

Before 1967, Syria was indiscriminately firing artillery shells at Kibbutzim (is this right)
in N. Israel from the Golan Heights.

Islamonazi terrorism is nothing new, after all MuhamMAD himself terrorized the Jews of Medina/Yathrib and Khybar -- a fact which muslo-nazis still rant and rave about to this day.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

yes and even earlier

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