Tuesday, July 04, 2017
Coffee Shop Suicide
The very definition of stupidity in our time can be seen in the statement, "I can see both sides" when one side is trying to enslave you, kill you, or destroy your civilization.
One of my favorite lines in Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming" is one that accurately describes our own time, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." There can be no doubt that the worst are indeed, "full of passionate intensity" -- that's what the bad guys do (my simplistic moniker is deliberate). What's troubling to me is the historically less consistent attribute among "the best." A reasonable and respectable person with conviction is an honorable thing in my eyes. It shouldn't be difficult either to discern what is worthy of conviction. Yet, in our time, right/wrong, good/bad, decent and morally decrepit are all muddled uncertainties to the point of absurdity. To be sure, there are always things worthy of debate and not everyone who comes to different conclusions is lacking in insight or character. But, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" is the statement of a fool, particularly when a terrorist's aim is not freedom but to impose its opposite. A wanton murderer or budding totalitarian is not just someone with another "point of view." A person wanting their family to be safe while carrying on their simple life is not simply a viewpoint open to critical analysis.
There are plenty of issues in this world that beg for philosophical inquiry and debate. But there are also issues that demand immediate resolution and less theoretical speculation -- problems sometimes just need to be solved and genuine dangers need to be eliminated. No doubt one could spend considerable time and energy pondering the grievances of terrorists and political fanatics but, in the end, the threat they pose to random victims hardly warrants sympathy and understanding, let alone the time they need to achieve their goals.
Even in mundane political life, where threats to one's well-being are perhaps less apparent, the polarity of nonsense continues. It appears that the current conflict between left and right is one of idealism with attempts to impose experiments born of philosophical speculation vs. simple attempts to deal with real issues in the most pragmatic and effective way possible.
In virtually every issue of our time, the key debate is between simple common sense and the theoretical and idealistic. The theoretical and idealistic made WWII inevitable and, in our own time, they have begun their destructive means once again. And, for what? So coffee shop poets, "artists," and assorted dreamers can claim virtue?
After decades of cultural Marxism and Post-modernist templates guiding university curriculums, the trickle down into the mundane world of education, journalism, and virtually all cultural expressions have muddled serious inquiry and action into no more than armchair discussions. While radical Islamists regularly conjure new and more pervasive methods of horror and enslavement, the chattering classes -- many who virtually run our society -- ramble on about the relative merit of contending philosophies, always top-heavy in self-chastisement. Yes, Isis wants to behead random "non-believers" but, "by the way, did you know that America had slavery?"
It's all well and good for contending sides to present their cases to each other. It's certainly reasonable that people disagree with one another. Conversations can certainly become heated over mundane matters but, is it really part of normal discourse for some in a free society to debate the cause of enemies who seek our destruction? Would anyone seriously debate the merits of a murderer's motives when he's entering your home to kill you? Or, in the same circumstance, pondering one's own sins to explain why pure evil "may have a point."
The weak-willed, suicidal impulse of so many polemics today is the natural result of a culture and system of education that has taught from primary school on that western civilization is corrupt to the core and in possession of a culture that is not worth defending or preserving. Shakespeare and Beethoven are now mere "white males" -- definitely a mark against one. Free speech a mere bourgeois creation of slaveholders from two hundred years ago.
David Ignatius recently wrote an article for the Washington Post where world issues are presented as a simple problem of some countries (and by extension, some people) just being too "selfish" - a favorite critique of leftism everywhere throughout time. For Ignatius, the overarching value system of Americans (who disagree with him) is just another "me first" attribute that conflicts with his love for an imaginary "global system." The article ties this old leftist complaint about human nature to Donald Trump -- of course -- and specifically, to the frightening concept of affording priority to our own country's interests. The concept of acknowledging our own country and its citizens "first" is certainly not a new concept or even a misguided one. It's an expression of that common sense I wrote of earlier. What's the alternative? "Other countries first?" "Dictatorships and enemies first?" Practical analysis calls this approach...stupid. The implication in leftland is not that there is an "either/or" to the equation but self-effacement results in everyone selflessly working together in peaceful bliss -- again, ...stupid.
The left's appraisal of America First is the same one they hold for any expression of self-interest. The assumption being that if one first considers self, family, and friends it must mean you wish to treat all others with cruelty and oppression. It is beyond the Jacobin mindset to consider a real world where people and nations act in self-interest while peacefully interacting and compromising with one another. In their eyes, one side is the flawed, mean, fascist consideration of one's own interest, on the other side the noble authoritarian philosopher king who wishes to see a world of self-sacrifice...to them and their "ideals" (their self-interest).
While some of today's intellectual masochism results from sincere self-loathing, much of it exhibits the standard arrogance of many intellectuals throughout history -- a genuine belief that the views they hold are superior to what they see as a simplistic desire to merely preserve one's civilization.
A conservative wants practical results; security, economic vitality, and individual freedom from the state and its schemes. A conservative is an adult with practical goals.
A "progressive" is a child, demanding that the world produce the magic toy they want anytime they scream loud enough or are able to bully someone else out of.
Social Justice Warriors, grievance whiners, and garden variety leftists are doing no one any favors. The world would be a better place if they confined their fanciful illusions to the coffee shop...where no one gets hurt.
The religion angle in this video might be a bit cheesy but I think this guy and his values run rings around any coffee shop lit major who seeks to "understand" the terrorist/"freedom fighters."