Who’s in denial about our current cultural and political state of collapse?
Most everybody. Millions of ordinary people who think bad times are always temporary are in denial. Oligarchs and plutocrats who believe we ordinary people are eternally tractable and malleable are in denial. Intellectuals who believe increasing quantities of fashionable nonsense are in denial. Politicians and their handlers who believe they can rule by fiat without consequences are in denial. Fools who imagine “the science” is a religion and that dissent from any statement by a
high priest government-approved scientist is heresy are in denial.
I’ve been in denial about the true depth of our circumstances and about how truly evil (and insane) our new totalitarians are. I venture to say every one of us is in denial about something pertinent to freedom’s future. Even the best of us have blind spots, no matter how much we pride ourselves on having clear heads and open eyes.
Anyone who doesn’t see that we’re in deep, deep trouble must be very carefully NOT looking. Yet even the most clear-headed can’t see the future.
And by “future” I don’t mean a year or 10 years or a century from now (though that, too). I mean what might happen tomorrow. Or what’s happening today that we just haven’t found out about yet.
The two most striking things about our ongoing catastrophe are a) the speed with which we’re supposed to adopt various imposed “new normals” and b) that those doing the imposing act as if their latest nouvelle folie or violation of freedom is simply another day at the office.
For example: We learned just a little over a week ago that the Biden administration plans to send COVID vaccine missionaries from door-to-door (but it’s okay because they’re “community volunteers”). Weird enough.
But when Commentariat member Granny dropped the news on my last post that the Bidonistas are also engaged in trying to prevent our own friends and relatives from sending us private, legal text messages, my first thought was, “Somebody’s been peeking at those crazy conspiracy sites again.”
Of course, her claim about that most intimate form of censorship turned out to be absolutely true. (“Today COVID; tomorrow, your political memes.”) It was yet another case of being insufficiently paranoid. Or as friend and sometime co-blogger Silver reminds, “It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.”
And they are, they are.
Tampering with our private communications is the sort of STASI-wish-list item that would once have generated a huge outcry — in virtually every corner of the media, in Congress, among political activists of all stripes, among the intelligentsia, everywhere. This would have been worse than Watergate, grounds for impeachment, an act quickly forbidden by the legislature or the Supreme Court.
And what do we hear instead? Crickets. Only a few die-hard civil libertarians even give a damn.
But who can blame those who yawn and go on with life? Yesterday no doubt brought some equally shocking, horrifying, or scandalous news. Tomorrow will bring more word of the ridiculous, the invasive, the totalitarian, the impossible. Some days we might get hit with two or three or four such outrages. Which one do you adopt as your cause when by tomorrow morning five more equally outrage-worthy acts will have fallen to your attention?
This is not apathy. This is not even the famous “outrage fatigue.” This is a sign of fatal decline. People know either that they can’t do a damn thing against the onrushing absurdities and evils or that they’ll try to accomplish something and be trapped forever in a game of Whack-A-Mole.
It’s chilling, as well, when you remember Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
I’ll update Voltaire for our times: “Those who believe absurdities and force silence upon doubters, ensure atrocities.”
Good people are famously slow to perceive real evil. Famously slow to react radically (in the original meaning of striking at the root of a problem) once they realize conventional solutions no longer avail them. Once pushed to the wall good people can be famously more dangerous than their would-be masters acknowledge. Still, we’re slow — often tragically slow. We act only after the thing we love is already lost or crumbling.
That’s particularly true when we understand that virtually everything we read or hear is a lie, a distortion, a manipulation, or a sheer display of moonbattery. We realize we’ve been disenfranchised. Self-appointed (or dubiously elected) political and cultural leaders can get away with any damn thing they please. And they’re all rushing to do their dirty deeds as fast as they can, before we can catch on to what they’re doing, let alone react. So far, this tactic seems to be working in their favor.
But then, sometimes rapid shifts toward evil or insanity work to the advantage of We the Deplorables, as well.
Last episode, I drew from T.H. Breen’s book, American Insurgents, American Patriots, with emphasis on how the 1774 Intolerable Acts mobilized American colonists.
But the Intolerable Acts (plus other happenings between the colonies and their British overlords that year) didn’t just mobilize the colonists. Though the Intolerable Acts mobilized them in spades, as we shall see, the rapid imposition of injustice also focused them.
The colonists had been abused by and evading the wishes of “their own” government for a long time. They’d become a nation of rebels, smugglers, tax evaders, and more.
British outrages — usually having to be imported across the Atlantic before taking effect — didn’t arrive in mailboxes multiple times daily, as ours do. But British edicts and British enforcement still gave the colonists a lot of issues to deal with. Not Whack-A-Mole, but still plenty to occupy increasingly frustrated, angry minds. The Declaration of Independence lists a host of abuses.
The Intolerable Acts boiled all those issues down into one terrifying but elegantly simple one: free Americans vs. British overlords.
Breen details two fronts in the sudden war-in-the-making that followed passage of the Intolerable Acts. One, mentioned last time, involved mostly respectable farmers and tradesmen bringing such sheer force of numbers against isolated and terrified “Mandamus Counselors” (officials appointed by the Crown to replace local government in New England) that the chosen counselors rushed to surrender their new offices.
The other radicalizing front involved … you won’t guess unless you already know … charity.
The British thought they’d starve Boston into submission by closing its port until the upstart townspeople paid for all that tea they’d drenched in their harbor. Wrong. From the beginning, Bostonians were worried, but surprisingly cheerful and attitudinal about their plight. Quickly, prominent Bostonians set up a Committee of Donations and created new ways to employ the unemployed. Individuals and communities across the colonies contributed hugely — flocks of sheep, shiploads of grain, money, barrels of rum, you name it, to pay the re-employed workers.
In so doing, the donors spoke with each other about their shared values. They agreed explicitly and en masse that Boston was suffering for everyone’s liberty, not just being paid back for the misdeeds of a few Tea Partiers. Thus the colonies became united and radicalized before the colonials ever fired a shot.
While all this quiet mobilization was going on, and just as the common people of the colonies had pushed their “leaders” into meeting in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress that September, a rumor spread that the British had bombarded Boston, possibly even leveled the town. The rumor was baseless. But as it spread, individuals and small groups of men from around the colonies strapped on their weaponry. They took the provisions prepared by their tearful but resolute wives, mothers, and daughters. Spontaneously, without planning, mostly without commanders, without logistics, and without orders, they headed out to relieve or avenge Boston.
The most carefully researched and responsible estimates place their numbers between 30,000 and 50,000. Out of a population of only a bit over two million.
These would-be defenders of Boston never fired a shot. But (note well, usurpers of free speech), the “fake news” and “misinformation” about Boston’s fate played a major role in setting Americans on the path to freedom.
The Intolerable Acts proved that the British government neither understood nor cared one whit about America’s interests, but only about its own power. The process of working together to feed and support besieged Boston showed Americans that their shared interests outweighed their many differences. The spontaneous mobilization of tens of thousands of militiamen, without any formal call to arms, could not be ignored.
The more conservative “leaders” of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia were originally inclined to negotiate with the British. When they realized how ready the common people were to fight and die for each other and for liberty, the leaders themselves became radicalized. They were then willing to provoke and defy the king and his government — and they did.
The Intolerable Acts and their aftermath revealed that Americans didn’t need negotiations or compromises with the British. It became a waste of effort to try to smooth out every small and large difference — especially with a powerful foreign party that looked down its regal nose at the colonial Deplorables.
What was needed was a break-up.
All this came about because clueless, arrogant British overlords moved too far, too fast.
Hm. Is all this sounding a bit familiar? Is history not repeating, but ringingly rhyming?
Well, our cultural and political elite are certainly moving too far, too fast (and foolishly, as well). We can’t effectively fight every new outrage or idiocy they perpetrate.
But we do face the question: When does this become intolerable?
Could dramatic, hopeful change come to us, here and now through the ceaseless overreach of those who wish to rule us? Could it happen tomorrow or next week or next month? Is it brewing this very day, in some action that will shock but not surprise us when it’s finally revealed? Would we rise to such an occasion if one presented itself?
I don’t know. But there are signs, some surprisingly hopeful. Although millions still cower, afraid to speak, too passive or too uncertain how to act, other ordinary and extraordinary people are outing themselves as friends of freedom — or at least friends of sound common sense and defiance.
A gentle Hindu writes a breakup letter to society
Parents, roused by the threat to their children, rise up against school boards across the land or take up homeschooling in record numbers.
A musician leaves a successful band to freely speak his mind and writes his hope that a quiet revolution is under way.
A post warns about the persistent hammer of history about the million “hammer taps” that broke down the Soviet Union and are now striking at the the American body politic.
If this poll can even remotely be believed, the U.S. has at least two regions quivering at the brink of secession.
People in even the most respectable places are beginning to refer to our (so-far cold) second civil war. Unlike the first, this one would genuinely be a civil war — though the real battle wouldn’t be for control of government, but culture. (Well, aren’t they usually that, anyhow?)
You’ve probably seen the viral Twitter thread by MartyrMade (Darryl Cooper). It summed up the entire case for anger over not only the 2020 elections, but our long, slow disenfranchisement as citizens and as human beings. Although he says he’s showing the thinking of Boomer Trump supporters, plenty of others say his thread speaks for them, too.
The elite have “eaten out our substance” for decades and workers are beginning to demand their own back.
Sure, these are small signs. Definitely people are still fighting separate battles. Unity, we have very little. But there’s a push running through these efforts to tell people they’re not alone, that civilized dissent, individualism, or traditional beliefs aren’t thoughtcrimes. That our values aren’t “extremism” or “white supremacy” or “domestic terrorism.” That yes, free speech is a core value of freedom, and we have a right and even a duty to call nonsense nonsense and to shout that our intellectual and political emperors are naked when, in fact, they are not only butt-naked but freakishly unattractive specimens of humankind when stripped of their elite trappings.
None of this dawning courage and common sense yet rises to the level of “shooting the bastards.” I don’t know if it ever will or ever should. But I’m rising out of my previous denial.
How much clearer does it have to get that our very own cluelessly arrogant elite have no good intentions toward us? The (acting) president of the U.S. has already threatened us with nuclear retaliation if we dare fight tyranny with mere small arms. How many government officials or public intellectuals have openly declared their wishes to see We the Deplorables dead, either through race war or through starvation if we don’t comply with their will? We have already seen they’re not only willing to rip apart our most basic rights, but to do so as if their worst violations are simply business as usual, the ordinary and expected actions of government.
Yep, that’s some serious “rhyming” going on there.
No, I still don’t want to see a shooting war. But I no longer believe we’re not on the brink of one.
And another thing I’m pretty sure of. Even though there are a lot of ways that we’re not like the American colonists and our dilemmas are different and harder than theirs, in one crucial way we are and will be like them.
Whether shooting war or opportunity for peaceable, Soviet-style downfall, when the day comes to shake off all delusions, to stop being in denial about the nature of our opponents, and to act on our clear-eyed understanding of the nature of totalitarian reality, we’ll do it.
We’ll do it faster, more accurately, and more definitively than the elite and the oligarchs ever will.
They are too invested in looking down upon us and in viewing themselves with preening satisfaction. They will realize we’re a force to be reckoned only when it’s too late — for them.