The other day I witnessed a conversation I could never have imagined. Picture two successful professionals, thoroughly decent people, respected (perhaps even revered) in their fields. Intelligent, moderate individuals, but outside what was once the political mainstream. They relax over glasses of wine, discussing a certain prominent “public health expert.”
They discuss whether prison is too good for said expert, or whether dragging him behind a mule cart, drawing, castrating, quartering, and placing his head on a pike in a public square is more appropriate.
And no, they hadn’t had that much wine.
Both were embarrassed by their own words. Horrified, even. Both rushed to say they’d never condone such, let alone participate. But then they added: if their worst views of said expert are true, if their most dire predictions about his deeds prove accurate, then he’s more villainous than Dr. Mengele. Far more deadly, far more callous toward his fellow human beings.
And what kind of justice can you mete out to a person so vile? What kind of justice can exist in a society fallen so far as to nod placidly and follow men like that? How do you ensure not only his fall from power, but metaphorically “salt the earth” from which such power sprang to ensure such creatures never rise again? You have no personal power. You can’t reach into the high, dark reaches of the Deep State and claw out the evil. But someone, somewhere must. And no one, anywhere, is.
Those were the thoughts these fully functional people were driven to. In a world where the powerful never face any consequences for their actions, and instead grow wealthy and fat and more honored and more arrogant and cruel every day, the fantasies of the powerless grow … desperate.
I hate this. Absolutely hate that we have come to this.
In the past, when others have advocated violence, I’ve taken the position that although mass defensive violence may be necessary, its results would be hellish. I’ve pointed to the gloriously non-violent teardown of the Berlin Wall, to the magical Singing Revolution in Estonia, to the entire non-violent collapse of the Soviet superpower.
I still hope in that direction. My hopes just get thinner every day.
In the present climate of unhinged hatred — hatred from ordinary people to ordinary people — can we ever go sane and tolerate each other again? And where do we go from right here?
The hatred is different between the “sides.”
The woke left has hated ordinary dissenters with homicidal fury for a long time. Question the safety of an experimental inoculation? You deserve to die. Protest what your children are being taught in school? The full might of the federal government should come down on you, you terrorist. Differ from even the smallest aspect of whatever narrative is “true” at the moment? You’re racist, transphobic, homophobic, privileged, etc. and you deserve social, if not actual oblivion. V*te for Trump? You’re subhuman, you’re scum floating in the gene pool, you’re vermin deserving to be forced forever from civic life, if not outright exterminated. Fail to comply with any part of the elite agenda? Then surely when the world’s population is reduced to its proper and subservient numbers, you will not deserve to be one of the survivors.
Left-to-right/libertarian hatred is generalized and applies to anonymous millions.
Until very recently — and by recently I mean in the last few weeks — I haven’t seen that generalized loathing directed from right/libertarian to left. Then my last post drew a comment (which I trashed) from a seemingly rational person who said that we would never have freedom unless we eliminate at least 51% of the world’s population, and better, 70%. That is eliminate the people with the “wrong” views.
Yeah, great understanding of both freedom and history, guy. Not to mention human decency.
I almost approved the comment and followed it with, “Oh, so you’re an acolyte of Bill Gates, are you?” But I decided, even with a snarky response, such monstrousness would never get a hearing here.
What I’ve mostly seen from “our side”* is not hatred, but puzzlement and resentment: “Why the hell do they hate us when we’re perfectly decent people just living our lives and having different opinions?”
Also until recently — and by recently I mean the last few months — I didn’t see much specific advocacy of violence coming from freedomistas and allies. I saw (and no doubt you saw, or said), “We’d better prepare to fight back.” I heard, “What’s wrong with us that we’re not already violently resisting?” I’ve heard, “Lamposts and rope.” I’ve heard, “Our forefathers would be ashamed at our failure to act for liberty.”
But even the loudest mouths calling for violence were obviously looking at political leaders, not their next-door neighbors who happened to have different viewpoints. And for all their talk about wanting violence NOW, they were content to go on being Keyboard Kommandos while waiting for someone else to make specific plans and take specific action — action that when it came would usually be against far-off officials.
That’s changed. Very recently, from what I’ve seen.
But even now, the right/libertarian cries for violence against the left mostly aren’t generalized. We don’t want our neighbors dead or exiled for disagreeing with us (even when they disagree in the most disagreeable ways).
The calls are for specific retaliation against specific acts. I’m hearing — are you also hearing? — things like this:
A school injects children with mRNA without their parents’ consent? Shoot everyone involved.
Thugs arrive to take you to a camp for the unvaxxed? Shoot to preserve liberty against totalitarianism.
Adults conspire to give your pre-pubescent daughter life-altering hormone blockers without your knowledge? If they can’t be caught, stopped, and fired before they do harm, then stop them by any means necessary.
The local D.A. repeatedly releases violent criminals who terrorize your city? Well, you have a right to defend yourself against those responsible — and that’s not just the newly empowered crooks, but those who empower them.
Your business or your entire local economy is destroyed by “smash & grabs” and you know that every one of the street-level crooks will be protected by the office-level crooks? Well … you have to take things into your own hands.
Local “leaders” restrict your freedoms of speech, religion, movement, and trash your ability to provide for your family while they themselves party like it’s 2019? Don’t just try to throw them out of office; they’ll simply be replaced with more of their ilk and your sufferings will continue. Thoughts and talk of guillotines fill the air. Ça Ira, aristos.
Anyhow, I’m hearing a lot like that. Yes, at this point these are still almost entirely the desperate fantasies of desperately powerless people. People who thought they were citizens but now belatedly understand they’re mere serfs. People who are not and do not wish to be terrorists (i.e. villains who kill the helpless to send messages to the powerful). They — we — are only people who’ve lost a lot already and stare into futures in which everything that matters has been ripped away.
But when you’re talking about taking revenge — or acting in self-defense — against a bureaucrat who lives just up the hill from you or even your child’s school nurse, you’re talking a whole new level of seriousness.
The people grumbling that such actions are needed are in a different league than the Keyboard Kommandos who call for some vague war they’re not willing to plan, lead, or perhaps even participate in. However, the people very personally hating very personal people who harm them or their children are still not — yet — acting forcefully on their words.
And darned few of them want to act forcefully on those words.
They’re still hoping, just as I hope, that the worst can be averted by some sort of return to common sense. Or respect for rights. Or functional electoral processes. Or functional legal, medical, and educational systems. If only, if only …
Meanwhile, we’re stuck with this hatred. And on our side at least, it’s growing. (Hard to imagine it growing on the left; wishing death to your neighbors for their opinions is already about as deep as hatred gets.)
And barring an invasion from outer space or some trumped-up “emergency” that temporarily unites us all against a common agreed-upon other, we’re stuck here. We’re stuck with this. But we’re also stuck in inertia.
Once we come unstuck will we be unstuck like an earthquake fault? That is, in the worst possible way?
Seems so, doesn’t it? More about that in Part II, which should be along in a few days. Meanwhile, as always, I look to the individual and collective wisdom of the Commentariat for fresh ideas and insights.
* My personal “side” is and has long been libertarian of the free-market anarchist wing. I am not on the “right,” and don’t believe most of my regular readers are, either. But it’s a simple fact that, with the left having gone both insane and totalitarian, libertarians and the “right” have been thrown together as a more-or-less united-ish opposition wing. If we eventually topple the mad, authoritarian left, we’ll be at each other’s throats again (hopefully only metaphorically). But for now …