This kind of vicious, self-righteous hit piece is exactly why right-wing populists will keep winning victories. https://t.co/uNznfgZ2dT
— Russell Blackford (@Metamagician) January 24, 2017
— Ed West (@edwest) January 31, 2017
You’ve heard me say it before, and no doubt I will have to say it many more times: there’s no neutral ground in a holy war.
Lord knows that humans need no special incentive to indulge in tribalism. Protecting the in-group and attacking the out-group is one of the most deeply-engrained instincts in the species of chimpanzee that made good. As numerous experiments have shown, even the most trivial and nonsensical distinctions can turn formerly peaceable people into bloodthirsty enemies.
It’s easy enough to shrug off these latest exercises in public shaming and forced political awareness on the assumption that of course pop music superstars and Fortune 500 companies will attract this kind of unhinged, obsessive attention. But rest assured that the only thing preventing these righteous crusaders from reintroducing a modern version of impressment for the culture wars is the problem of logistics, not the lack of desire. They would gladly conscript nobodies like you or I as well if they could.
Again, it’s incredibly easy for any human to reduce a complex issue to a Manichean battle between the saved and the damned. But this particular type of totalitarian impulse, to completely obliterate the idea that anything could be allowed to escape the gravitational pull of partisan politics, is especially appealing to left-wingers. It is axiomatic for conservative philosophy that there will always be a certain amount of imperfection and injustice in the world, and a sane response to this fact entails that people have to allow some sort of cultural or personal space to forget about crusading. At five o’clock, the whistle blows, and we set the bare-knuckle political brawling aside until the next day, like Sam and Ralph. There are more important things to concern ourselves with, better sources of solace like family and art to occupy ourselves with, and the fight will never be conclusively won anyway.
But to the progressive equivalent of theocracy, the idea of a “secular” space, free from political considerations, is heretical. Unsupervised free spaces like that are a breeding ground for subversive, reactionary ideas. For a political philosophy that accepts no inherent limits on mankind’s ability to perfect itself, the very existence of imperfection and injustice is an affront to its deepest identity. The grinding years of imperfect life cannot be forgiven. If something inherent in the world makes it incapable of being custom-fit to the Procrustean beds of reformers and revolutionaries, and provides no satisfying outlet for their utopian energies, they will eventually tire of vainly flinging themselves against the bars of their cage and start releasing their frustration on others unfortunate enough to be within reach. This is what we see here — in a world which, to them, seems to have gone completely insane, in opposition to all their wishes, they are reduced to lashing out against people guilty of standing by too innocently. In their desire to perfect the world through politics, they would destroy the oases of individual privacy and freedom that make this imperfect world bearable at all.