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Saturday, April 21, 2012

All the Morals of a Bulldozer

To be genuinely outraged about something, you need to actually believe in something. Without principles, outrage is just tactical anger, or bullying in plainer language. Principles, values and codes are universal. That is if you are angry about a dog being mistreated by riding on top of a car, then you should at least be equally angry at dogs being eaten.

If a man shooting another man after a confrontation and not being charged for it angers you, then it should anger you regardless of the color of his skin. For that matter if racism or sexism offends you, then it should offend you regardless of whether it is directed at a woman or a black man who is a liberal or a conservative.

It's child play to notice that the game doesn't work this way anymore. That the media engages in displays of tactical anger, serious-face inquiries into issues that they are concerned about only when they benefit their side, manufactured outrage that is not based on any deeply held beliefs, but only on the need to score some points.

If Republicans seem slower on the uptake, it's because their ranks tend to be stocked with old fashioned types who even in their more liberal incarnations still try to maintain consistent values. The mindset that that they confront is alien to all but a few of their opposition political operatives. It is a mindset devoid of any values, operating on a Pavlovian reflex that reacts to talking points without framing them in any larger context.

Media moral bullying follows this course, raising issues that they pretend are vital principles, but stop being so the moment they no longer benefit them. The iron clad value of a moment ago is discarded into the trash a second later. The serious faces relax, the twitter accounts go dead and all the attention is refocused on some truly important issue, like the next iPhone.

It's not entirely cynical, though it mostly is. The people behaving this way have lost the ability to recognize enduring abstract principles that have an existence beyond their emotions of the moment. They don't live by rules, rather rules live by them, if they are angry, then their anger is a moral issue, if they are not angry, it isn't. Emotions are the only moral barometer that people who cannot see beyond the self have.

That makes them natural bullies, their shows of outrage lifting their anger up to self-righteousness. Their tactical anger is part pretense, part real, and even they don't really know the difference anymore. They have been taught that their momentary moral tantrums make them good people, they have not however been taught to be good people. They believe that they are right because they are angry and that they are angry because they are right. It's an attitude you can see in traffic arguments, in divorce court and on the evening news.

Like well trained Oceanians, it depends on audiences in colorful Keffiyah scarves and ironic t-shirts who rise eagerly for the daily Two-Minute Hates, shouting against racism, patriarchy, carbon, oil, corporate personhood and logos, gun rights, animal testing, heteronormative bathrooms and any of the endless list of things to be outraged by, without the ability to apply their denunciations to a moral code.

Oceanian propaganda was deliberately inconsistent so that none of its citizens developed a consistent code that might allow them to judge the system even by its own rules. Left-wing talking points tend to be like that, consistently inconsistent, willfully senseless, cultivating an instinct for mob rage, for hours of political analysis, but no steady rules of conduct that would apply to the analyzers.

The only consistent principle that we are good and they are bad. If you understand that Republicans are racists, that a cabal of corporations, zionists and christian fanatics are plotting to take over the country, and that they hate anyone who is different from them, then you have all the context that you need to understand the liberal message. Without that it's gibberish. With it, it's simplistic but comprehensible propaganda.

Boiled down to its essence, the liberal message is that we are good people, because they are bad people. The new Democrats sticker which reads, "Not a Republican" aptly sums up this void. It follows that good people cannot be bad and that bad people cannot be good, and once you accept this message, no further ethics or morals are needed. The very goodness of your side is all the moral code you need.

Identity politics substitutes for a moral code, not so much racial politics as racial tolerance politics which holds that liberals are more ethical, because they are more tolerant, better people because they care. The only crime they are ever guilty of is caring too much. Even the Communists and the terrorists were just too outraged by all the capitalism, racism and zionism, and had no choice but to start shooting and starving people.

It's possible to spend years immersed in this swill without realizing that none of it is moral or ethical, that it's "They are bad, we are good"  blaring from every radio and television set. Morality and ethics is about principles that apply across the board. When your only principle is that your group is good and your enemies are bad, then not only are you devoid of morals and ethics, but you are incapable of recognizing immoral and unethical behavior except with a gut instinct that your ideology has trained you to discard.

Cognitive dissonance sets in over everything from Communist gulags to Occupy Wall Street rapes, if things aren't supposed to happen, then they never did. When the ideological good confronts the real world bad, either ideology dies or morality dies. Historically it's more often been the latter than the former. Just ask one of the good Nazis or good Communists who had decent home lives, loved their children and pets, and kept on believing in everything except right and wrong.

When you take a bulldozer to traditional values, what takes its place is bulldozer ideology, the expedient virtue of bulldozing things and the virtue of whatever rises in their place. Once you believe in the bulldozer, then you must also believe in whatever mess follows in its wake, otherwise you are forced to take a long hard look at the virtue of the bulldozer. And once that happens, you are one step away from becoming a reactionary clinging to traditional values.

What has grown in the wake of the bulldozer is bulldozer ethics, situational ethics that justify the virtue of bulldozing things as a vital moral principle, disguising their appeal in calls to fairness, justice, decency, tolerance and a thousand other virtues that they never practice across the board.

Bulldozer values call forth explosive faux moral tantrums at anything that stands in front of the bulldozer. These tantrums can be seen on the late night news, on the front page of the New York Times, which long ago stopped relegating its moral tantrums and special pleading to the editorial page, on liberal blogs and a thousand other places. They don't however represent moral or ethics, only the virtue of the bulldozer-- the virtue of power.

The country must know about Romney's dog riding on top of the car. Why? Because it shows that Romney is a bad person. They must not know about Obama eating dogs, because it might make him 'wrongly' seem like a bad person. The only consistent value here is that of the bulldozer. Obama is driving the bulldozer, and so he must be protected, just the same way that the media protected Clinton in his own private war on women and their right to say no to being groped or propositioned, because back then he was driving the bulldozer. When Clinton briefly got in the way of Obama's bulldozer, then the media bulldozed him.

There is genuine anger over Romney's dog on their side, not because they care about dogs, though they often do, in the same detached way that they care about the Third World, but because they already believe that he is a bad person. Any anecdote that makes him a bad person feeds their anger. It isn't an outrage based on principles, but on their burning hate for anyone who stands in front of the bulldozer. They already know that all such people are bad, any story that reinforces this feeds into an existing anger, much the same way that people who hate Jews, Christians, the Chinese, women or dog owners feed off selective incidents that fit their narrative. And they mistake their shoddy bigotry for moral outrage.

When your only moral value is that of the bulldozer and its destructive rampage, then you have all the moral values of your chosen instrument. The moral tantrums are destructive, rather than constructive, they never seem to fulfill their stated mission of healing America and making it a better place (unless you consider provoking multiple racist attacks over the Zimmerman case to be that) but like driving a bulldozer into someone's house, they make them feel good.

And that is what it's really all about. The ego. The moral power of the self. The destruction of the old by people who are convinced that they are the new order. That they are the young, even when they are old. That the destruction they leave in their wake is really construction. And that anyone who thwarts their destructive impulses is the enemy and that destroying him is an absolute good.

These are the morals of the bulldozer and the values of liberal America.

14 comments:

Andrew Boniface said...

Mr Greenfield,

Anyone with a moral conscience still intact will find your post heartwrenchingly true.

Anyone without it or has his long extinct will be grossly offended.

Will be interesting to know what response your article will generate.

Thank you for your unflagging courage.

Lemon said...

No anger over Obama eating dogs though.
I wonder if he lusts after poor Bo?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Well you gotta wonder what he eats abroad. Hard to get doggie burgers here, but maybe this is why he likes to travel so much.

American Genie said...

Now that the Zimmerman case is being resolved in the court moveon.org is once again driving the bulldozer for Obama in North Carolina where they are passing around a petition to have a white male arrested in an already settled case of an accidental shooting of a young black girl.

The bulldozer is being increasingly driven by those who wish to destroy any gains which have been made over the years in the pursuit of racial harmony.

Great post, Danie, as always.

Keliata said...

I thought you had lost it regarding Obama eating dog meat until I Googled it.

Dan Collins said...

We're not amoral! We're not!

We're . . . ethically labile!

dwight said...

Jobotinsky redux. Wow.

Keep punching.

but pygmies said...

People LOVE to feel righteous indignation, especially when they cannot feel gratitude. It is an emotion of the spoiled brat. The children of the left have been given the world, and we have squandered it. Like the American myth of having "purchased" Manhattan for $24 worth of beads, we have taken out patrimony of reason, Lockian-Jeffersonian principles and traded them for i-Pads, mere baubles.

Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Daniel. This is yet another of your laser light illuminations of one of our culture's terminal pathologies. And it is indeed likely terminal. A necessary but insufficient condition for resolution of factions' differences is an honest dialogue on the merits of the issues. As you say so eloquently, political elites, academia, media and law - the neo - Four Horsemen - have contrived a compulsive, self-reinforcing narrative to dismiss even any attempt to articulate first principles. Your metaphor - a bulldozer; mine, in the alternative, a Gatling gun.

In any case, I fear that we have arrived at the precipice to which the bulldozer has pushed us. Before our eyes, breathtakingly quickly, we are approaching a new Dark Age of tyranny, oppression, privation and death. Those of us undistracted by bread and circuses cannot help but see it before us.

The only remaining question for me is how long it will take for out progeny to rediscover the virtues so hard won over the past 500 years or so. Only one word can describe the speed at which these virtues have been so maliciously discarded: evil.

Jules, UK said...

Once again: Wow!

Andy Texas said...

I agree with everything in the article but it occurred to me that this group ethic of "we are good people and you are bad" is not new. It's been a human trait since the dawn of time. All that has changed is the definition of the group in question. As an example, 400 years ago the power group in Western Europe was the Catholic league with non-Catholics were ruthlessly warred upon.

fsy said...


Only one word can describe the speed at which these virtues have been so maliciously discarded: evil.


And all that evil stems from one source: Darwin.

The (demonstrably false)idea that life is the product of undirected natural forces, and that man is one of many animals is the basis of all the relativism and barbarity of the modern secularized world which is bringing us towards a Dark Age worse than any ever experienced. If we want to fight the evil, this is the root against which we must direct our efforts.

Vermont Guy said...

You've just described half of Zimmerman's jury.

Linda Cohn said...

Speaking of the lovely bias of the NY Times, Florida Family Association (FFA)is running an email campaign to their advertisers to stop advertising at the NYT. I urge all Sultan Knish fans to go to FFA's website and sign their petitions.

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