This week just before the holiday seems like a fine time for another edition of Short Takes – ideas that I believe need to be expressed, but wouldn’t be quite long enough to have a column of their own. In the spirit of the season, let’s dig right in:
1. The more time goes by, the more I become convinced that American politics cannot be truly understood without a good working knowledge of professional wrestling. What’s that, you say? Professional wrestling is complete fakery? It’s a histrionic bit of badly-staged play-acting featuring terrible performers? That it’s full of one-dimensional “face” and “heel” characters that are completely phony and entirely predictable? That they mostly just pander to crowds to get cheap “pop” or “heat” and engage in pointless, playground-level smack talk devoid of any intellectually stimulating content? That only the most unsophisticated of rubes could fail to look past the “kayfabe” illusion they’re being shown, and to see that the what is presented to them as “real” actually bears no resemblance whatsoever to the reality going on behind the scenes? That it’s all a fixed game – designed to distract fools from the fact that they’re being suckered by cheap theatrics?
2. Here is the essential difference between libertarianism and liberalism: Libertarians define freedom as being left alone to do as they please, and in return agreeing to take the consequences of their decisions upon themselves. Liberals define freedom as being left alone to do as they please, and being granted the ability to pass off the consequences of their decisions onto other people. Thus, while libertarianism may be unworkable in a real world that must deal with human nature as it actually exists, it is at least a philosophy of adults. Liberalism is no more than the philosophical and political arm of the desire for eternal adolescence.
3. Related: The older I get, the less I feel any desire to shield fools – and especially arrogant fools – from the entirely predictable consequences of their own obviously poor decisions.
4. Remember this, Christian, as you defend yourself against the sophistry of unbelievers and the wicked: Christian forgiveness is neither universal nor free from conditions. Specifically, there is no requirement to forgive the unrepentant. In fact, extending forgiveness to the unrepentant is, in itself, a form of sin and rebellion against God. Remember that Christian forgiveness is a two-step process. First comes repentance – then, only then, comes forgiveness. Don’t ever lose sight of this, and don’t ever allow yourself to get talked out of it.
5. I am not myself an Objectivist or Randian, for reasons I’m sure I’ll go into greater detail about at some point, but here’s some free, heartfelt advice to them. Objectivism needs its own version of the Communist Manifesto. Allow me to explain: The production of the Communist Manifesto was a stroke of genius by Marx. Though Marx had produced thick, dense, complex tomes describing his ideas, he also produced the Manifesto as a companion to them, which was primarily meant for consumption by the masses that he hoped to reach. It was short, direct, concise, worded in a way that anyone with a basic education could understand, easily translatable into other languages, freely distributable, and both easy and cheap to mass produce copies of. The works of Ayn Rand are none of those things, to say the least. Yes, I understand that part of Objectivism is a certain elitism that revels in the fact that Rand’s works are difficult and inaccessible to many. That’s great if you want your ideas to stay limited to a relatively small group of people. If you ever want them to gain popularity with a wider selection of the population, you’re going to need an Objectivist Manifesto.
6. The tech writer John C. Dvorak is right: the “Wild West” glory days of the internet are over, probably forever. By this, I’m not just referring to the Snowden/NSA affair or other nefarious actions of government. The internet, once raucous, has settled down into what is effectively a set of monopolies or near-monopolies – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and eBay being the most prominent examples. The last two are particularly telling. I cannot speak for you, gentle reader, but as for myself I can say that basically all of my online purchases of physical goods in the last five years or so have been from Amazon or eBay. Part of that is for convenience, part to limit the number of places that my credit card information is on file… all good and practical reasons, but all leading towards a corporatized, cartelized, monopolistic internet that is all too cozy with big government.
7. Speaking of the internet – much has always been made of the internet’s supposed resistance to censorship, with the saying about it being that “the net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”. From a certain point of view, this is true: it is indeed very hard to stop information that has made it onto the internet from propagating. But that ignores the fact that censorship of the internet is rather simple if it’s done the “old-fashioned way”; i.e. by, once an undesired idea has appeared on the internet, tracking down who said it and punishing them personally. This can be done by outright arrest and imprisonment, by civil lawsuit, or by blacklisting and attacks on one’s ability to earn a livelihood (which is the preferred method in the United States). This not only shuts down the speaker, but the chilling effects of it ensure that few will take the risk of speaking out. In this way, the internet – a medium in which tracking and surveillance, and therefore finding out who said what, is relatively easy – is just as vulnerable to censorship than old forms of mass media were.
So if you’re going to speak out online, be wary, be careful, and be brave.
8. More interesting to me than the outcome of the recent “government shutdown” farce in Washington were the effects of the changed media landscape on how things proceeded. It is, in fact, a near-perfect microcosm of how the new media landscape had affected politics – a basically-identical situation happened in 1995, just as the internet was becoming mainstream but before it had seriously changed much of anything. The difference seems to have been this: That in 1995, with control of the media centralized in leftist hands, the “shutdown” was an utter victory for the leftist in power and a crushing defeat for the public perception and popular ratings of his opposition. This time, the effect of the “shutdown” was, not that it handed victory to the opposition, but that it seems to have badly damaged the perception and ratings of both sides. An interesting outcome – especially to those of us who see any erosion of the legitimacy and credibility of the current system as a good thing.
9. The American left has completely abandoned whatever genuine desire it may have had to protect American workers in favor of obsessions with race hustling, “freedoms” based in (often deviant) sexuality, and currying the favor of the ever-expanding welfare class. There is no major party in America that any longer truly represents the American worker, nor is there any realistic prospect of one arising anytime soon. That the middle class is being steadily eroded into nonexistence is not unrelated.
10. Another election apparently passed, and I did not vote in it. You should’t vote, either. Richard said withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy…
11. Do I hate homosexuals? My response is that I didn’t used to – not before they, as a group, declared open war on the traditions, morals, and religious teachings that I hold to and believe in passionately. My natural reaction to homosexuals is to pity them, but to think that they should be quietly left alone if they go quietly about their business. But what if they don’t do that? What if they try to upend society and destroy beliefs that I hold dear as a part of their obsessive quest for the validation of society at large, even if they must use coercive force to get it? Why should I not resent those who have chosen to make themselves my enemy?
12. Related: Leftists rely on sophistry, so understanding the language that they use is key. Now that they have gained power, it is obvious that what they actually meant when they used to say “You can’t legislate morality” was, essentially: “You – conservatives, traditionalists, Christians – YOU can’t legislate morality. WE, on the other hand…”
As always, I can be found on Twitter at @antidemblog – the more people follow me there, the more I’ll post.