The Problem with Retroactivity and Institutions that Fall into Corruption

 

Disclaimer:

First, this is a post about feelings and emotions in people. It is not a post about logic and reason. I know many people want to argue logic and reason, but this is about emotional reactions. I will not respond to any comments that boil down to “That’s not logical.” I know that and acknowledge it upfront. That is not what this post is about.

Second, I am going to use examples that you may disagree with. I am not going to argue about them, nor am I going to post links to prove my point. Either you agree with my take or you don’t. That is fine. But, I am not going to defend how I feel about any of these examples. They have proved their corruption to me beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Now on with the post:

I have noticed within myself something I have named “Retroactivity.” Retroactivity is my tendency to view the entire history of an organization or institution based on today’s level of corruption. What I mean by that is no matter what the institution might have done in the past, how it acts today colors all of that. To use an example from today, let’s look at the FBI. The FBI is corrupt to the core. It is now the thugs for the Biden administration, and they were thugs for Obama. There are no redeeming qualities about the FBI today. They cannot stop any real crime, they lie to courts and plan to steal money. I have no faith in any FBI agent at all. Because of that, I feel the FBI has never been any good, and it has never been worthwhile. Any good it might have done has been washed about by its sins now. Any agent who served has no honor to them; that honor is stripped away by the actions of the FBI now. It is, and always has been, a corrupt organization populated by evil men and women out to bully and hurt others.

To take another example, let’s look at unions. Some people say that unions once had a place. I disagree. Unions are a clear evil that protects some jobs at the expense of others. They destroy companies and are responsible for places like Detroit. As such, they have never been worthwhile. They are evil and always have been.

Now, while I am on a roll, the Catholic Church was a haven for gay men to prey on teens. We know it to be true. The Church did nothing for a generation and worked to cover it up. Frankly, I don’t think it has even come close to doing enough to take care of those damaged, nor to punish the wicked. Instead, it acted like any other organization, corrupt, vile, and bane. I always sort of supported it, but when that happened, I saw that the Catholic Church is no different than any other institution. It lost any right or claim to be a force for good.

Now, I understand these are feelings not thoughts. Not reason. I can come up with good things done by all three. However, I cannot ignore the response I have. These institutions are permanently damaged, as is any other one that falls into corruption. The good they may have done in the past is tainted forever. Any good they might do now is washed away by the pouring corruption of today.

I don’t think these feelings are unique to me. I think other people share them. In my bones, I feel the lost respect for institutions will never be restored. I can use the Catholic Church again as an example. Protestants, disgusted by the corruption of the Catholic Church left in protest. They are never coming back. Those other Churches are not merging with the Catholic Church. The Reformation was because of the massive corruption of the Catholic Church, corruption it still will not fully own.

The people that corrupt institutions destroy them forever. I think too many people feel as I feel. Oh, we might fight it, but the feelings are real. For me, I will have to work on my own feelings and thoughts. But each time something new comes out, it is a setback. Retroactivity is real for me, and I tire of fighting it.

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  1. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Same way I feel about the Boy Scouts. Massive sexual abuse settlements. Scouting was a heaven for gay men. (Sarcasm). Sarcasm is a feeling after all.

    Tens of thousands of men that were sexually abused by Boy Scout leaders were one step closer to collecting a $2.7 billion settlement after a holdout committee of victims approved the organization’s restructuring plan ahead of a Wednesday night deadline.

    A US bankruptcy judge was now set to approve a deal that allows the Boy Scouts of America to escape bankruptcy while providing some 82,000 victims with the largest sex-abuse settlement in history. A hearing was scheduled for Feb. 22.

    You should register as a Democrat. They specialize in collective guilt.

    • #1
  2. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    We need to bring the FBI back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover.

    • #2
  3. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    I believe you are right about the human propensity to apply judgement retroactively.

    The FBI has always been corrupt ( see Hoover, J. Edgar) and has become more corrupt through the years.

    I find myself more often agreeing with the hard leftists who are wrong about many of their solutions but spot-on concerning certain  problems. 

    Listening to Jimmy Dore a lot and he says some things that make me cringe, but other things – most of his content- is more insightful and reasonable to me. The other commentaries lack sufficient cynicism. 
    There are certain factions of the left that revere freedom of speech, who loathe authoritarianism, and have always seen the corruption inherent in some of our most revered institutions. The Catholic Church failed miserably. They did not adequately address the problems. At all. So why should it be recognized as some great institution? Also, it’s not as though we can go back 500 years when the Catholic Church was free of corruption, right? LOL

    The Vietnam war? I was against it as a 17 year-old,  then for it as a fan of freedom capitalism and America, and now in retrospect, I find it absolutely abominable. 

    Ditto Iraq and Afghanistan for similar reasons. I was for it,  then saw the results, the political fallout ( the inability to win and the political corruption) and I was shortsighted. 

    Watching Ukraine unfold was like watching an oversized truck barrel towards an undersized overpass.

    I trust one Democrat and two Republicans: Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul and Donald Trump.

    Don’t worry, Doug Watt. The Boy Scouts are going to become an arm of the Democratic Party in short order. Eagle Scout-hood will soon be granted to anyone taking hormone therapy, or you can attend three drag- queen events for the badge, obviating the need for Bryan to become a Democrat.

     

    • #3
  4. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Every time I think about the point of this post, I (perhaps irrationally) think of embittered wives of philandering and controlling husbands who look back on their marriages and see that “he was always this way”, except now in hindsight it should have been obvious.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bryan G. Stephens: I have noticed within myself something I have named “Retroactivity”. Retroactivity is my tendency to view the entire history of an organization or institution based on today’s level of corruption. What I mean by that is no matter what the institution might have done in the past, how it acts today colors all of that.

    C.S. Lewis wrote about that, describing it not as a psychological phenomenon but as the reality.  I wish I could remember where, but it has been too long since I read his stuff. 

    • #5
  6. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Institutions have always attracted the corrupt . However, this is probably the first time in US history that half the population either supports that corruption (yay team) or nods and winks at that corruption , again (yay team) . This has accelerated the corruption to the fullest. 

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Every time I think about the point of this post, I (perhaps irrationally) think of embittered wives of philandering and controlling husbands who look back on their marriages and see that “he was always this way”, except now in hindsight it should have been obvious.

    A great way to put it. 

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: I have noticed within myself something I have named “Retroactivity”. Retroactivity is my tendency to view the entire history of an organization or institution based on today’s level of corruption. What I mean by that is no matter what the institution might have done in the past, how it acts today colors all of that.

    C.S. Lewis wrote about that, describing it not as a psychological phenomenon but as the reality. I wish I could remember where, but it has been too long since I read his stuff.

    In testing, it’s recency bias.  That is a psycho-statistical bias, not some sort of micro-aggression.

    And anyway, I’m down with it.  You never know which organization is going through a poorly-staffed bad patch, and which is just stoking it fires on the way to blitzkrieg us all.  Fire away, Bryan!

    • #8
  9. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    The people that corrupt institutions destroy them forever. I think too many people feel as I feel. Oh, we might fight it, but the feelings are real. For me, I will have to work on my own feelings and thoughts. But each time something new comes out, it is a setback. Retroactivity is real for me, and I tire of fighting it. 

    So there’s nothing left to remember well, then? Biden corruption means I have to hold George Washington in contempt?

    I get why it seems seductive to give up on everything; it clarifies and absolves. But this way leads to the 1619 Project; it means America – or Western Civ, for that matter – means nothing, and never ever did. If that’s the case, then what are we lamenting? The loss of illusion? Are we, here, right now at this moment in history, so gifted with insight and clairvoyance that we see clean to the rot in the timbers hauled up to build the first place where men could talk and discuss their common fate?

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    I get why it seems seductive to give up on everything; it clarifies and absolves.

    Less so than hanging on.  ‘memmberrr?

    • #10
  11. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I think this is engendered by the ignorance of the things that are forcing centralization and  the ignorance of Deirdre McCloskey’s research about bourgeoisie values. I’m open to something preempting that view, or part of it, but I don’t think I’m going to be persuaded. You have to do certain things to develop human capital for a functional society and centralization is a patently bad idea in most countries. Corruption and lawlessness ensue if you don’t take care of those issues. 

    Another way to say it is, I believe in the church of Dennis Prager and Mises.org.  

     Iwalton is really articulate about this but I don’t think most people get it. 

    • #11
  12. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    We believed in those organizations because of trust and didn’t feel the need to verify. So in hindsight we don’t have much to go on. And much of what we do have to go on is received myth from Hollywood and network television. 

    So maybe they were always that corrupt but were more careful. Or perhaps they just weren’t as effective at corruption. 

    That said, it is in the nature of corruption to grow and spread, in an individual or anything made of individuals. 

    It is a tenet of the left that the good old days were terrible and that only now is everything just about right except for…well ‘us’, I suppose. 

    I don’t like to consider that things were never ‘better’ and that we really are the bitter clingers they describe. 

    In the end, it’s not knowable. 

    Might be a sermon in that somewhere. 

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    The people that corrupt institutions destroy them forever. I think too many people feel as I feel. Oh, we might fight it, but the feelings are real. For me, I will have to work on my own feelings and thoughts. But each time something new comes out, it is a setback. Retroactivity is real for me, and I tire of fighting it.

    So there’s nothing left to remember well, then? Biden corruption means I have to hold George Washington in contempt?

    Moreso the office of the Presidency. And not “have to” but having the urge in that direction. 

    I get why it seems seductive to give up on everything; it clarifies and absolves. But this way leads to the 1619 Project; it means America – or Western Civ, for that matter – means nothing, and never ever did. If that’s the case, then what are we lamenting? The loss of illusion? Are we, here, right now at this moment in history, so gifted with insight and clairvoyance that we see clean to the rot in the timbers hauled up to build the first place where men could talk and discuss their common fate?

    This sounds like,  for you, having the wrong feelings, even if one fights them, is the sin. I have been open and honest here, and showed some feelings that I know are not rational. Indeed, I put that up front.  I think these sorts of feelings pose a real problem for others. I was up front with having them myself. 

    Your response with a bunch of questions sure looks like an oblique way to say because I have expressed these feelings, not actions, I am no better than a leftist. In my experience, telling someone their feelings are wrong does not usually effect a change. 

    This misses my bigger point, that this sort of retroactivity  can be devastating for institutions and that it is horrible. 

    For myself, I will keep fighting the effect, as I know it is irrational. I reserve the right to get tired of it, as institution after institution falls into corruption.  

     

    • #13
  14. Ole Summers Member
    Ole Summers
    @OleSummers

    I go back to Flicker’s comment about a cheating spouse. To rebuild trust in just about anything, you have to go back to the ground level and build back up. It cant be done with a wave of a hand or nod of the head. And it is always harder the second time because there is so much to prove. Most cant do it. 

    That feeling is natural and most human. Feeling and reason can go together. In fact, together they accomplish so much more than either can by themselves. It is a passion for some reasonable objective (or whatever) that makes it exceptional. 

    In most things, I believe in fixing from the ground up. Back to the basic, fundamental parts or it normally doesnt work. The same is true for institutions. 

    • #14
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Ole Summers (View Comment):

    I go back to Flicker’s comment about a cheating spouse. To rebuild trust in just about anything, you have to go back to the ground level and build back up. It cant be done with a wave of a hand or nod of the head. And it is always harder the second time because there is so much to prove. Most cant do it.

    That feeling is natural and most human. Feeling and reason can go together. In fact, together they accomplish so much more than either can by themselves. It is a passion for some reasonable objective (or whatever) that makes it exceptional.

    In most things, I believe in fixing from the ground up. Back to the basic, fundamental parts or it normally doesnt work. The same is true for institutions.

    I agree with this. Not all people want to do the work. It is hard to find any institutions that do.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    So there’s nothing left to remember well, then? Biden corruption means I have to hold George Washington in contempt?

    You don’t have to do anything, but Biden’s corruption does lend a little more impetus to our looking for early signs of the rot all the way back to George Washington. For example, it might lead us to think more about the time when Washington abused his office to try to get one of his wife’s runaway slaves back (after his wife nagged him about it, most likely). 

    It doesn’t mean you have to hold Washington in contempt, though.  He was the most incorruptible president we had. 

    • #16
  17. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this. 

    • #17
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Wrong thread

    • #18
  19. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    • #19
  20. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet. 

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    • #20
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I’ve said this before, but I think three people that sort of broadly join everybody’s conservatism and libertarianism is, Deirdre McCloskey,  David Mamet, and recently I heard some stuff about Isaiah Berlin talking about positive liberty and negative liberty. The last one I got from the third hour of the August 5 Mark Levin show. There are all kinds of short YouTube’s about Isaiah Berlin.

    McCloskey identifies as an Austrian, which is the model I prefer, but that is not what she’s known for, now. Listen to her interviews about eight years ago on bourgeoisie values. Having said that, I’m pretty sure she has a good sense to be for bombing the Eccles building.

    • #21
  22. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet.

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    I like Mamet and Rogan I’ll look it up, but I meant what thread here?

    • #22
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet.

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    I like Mamet and Rogan I’ll look it up, but I meant what thread here?

    OK. 

    We are exchanging rhetoric as I intended for this.

    The part where I said “wrong thread” was with something that should have gone on to the flagship podcast thread. 

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet.

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    How do I find this video?

    • #24
  25. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Flicker (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet.

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    How do I find this video?

    I’m pretty sure it’s the number one podcast on the planet. 

    If you need video, it has to be available. 

    They literally pay Rogan millions of dollars for working three hours a week.

    • #25
  26. Dunstaple Coolidge
    Dunstaple
    @Dunstaple

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: I have noticed within myself something I have named “Retroactivity”. Retroactivity is my tendency to view the entire history of an organization or institution based on today’s level of corruption. What I mean by that is no matter what the institution might have done in the past, how it acts today colors all of that.

    C.S. Lewis wrote about that, describing it not as a psychological phenomenon but as the reality. I wish I could remember where, but it has been too long since I read his stuff.

    The Great Divorce, I think.

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Possibly, listening to the David Mamet interview on Joe Rogan would reinforce this.

    What thread? Sounds interesting…

    Joe Rogan interviewed him for three hours on his podcast which is not associated with ricochet.

    I have a hard time putting it into words, why that was so good. He has a really good life experience and education to analyze this type of thing. Creative type that has made a ton of money, but he’s not a flake in any way. Literary sensibilities help, I think.

    How do I find this video?

    I’m pretty sure it’s the number one podcast on the planet.

    If you need video, it has to be available.

    They literally pay Rogan millions of dollars for working three hours a week.

    Thanks.  Yeah, it’s the video I’m looking for.  But now I know the date.

    • #27
  28. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Dunstaple (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: I have noticed within myself something I have named “Retroactivity”. Retroactivity is my tendency to view the entire history of an organization or institution based on today’s level of corruption. What I mean by that is no matter what the institution might have done in the past, how it acts today colors all of that.

    C.S. Lewis wrote about that, describing it not as a psychological phenomenon but as the reality. I wish I could remember where, but it has been too long since I read his stuff.

    The Great Divorce, I think.

    Very possible. That one would be worth re-reading again one of these days.  (Yes, I meant to be redundant, and also to repeat myself.) 

    • #28
  29. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Franco (View Comment):

    I believe you are right about the human propensity to apply judgement retroactively.

    The FBI has always been corrupt ( see Hoover, J. Edgar) and has become more corrupt through the years.

    I find myself more often agreeing with the hard leftists who are wrong about many of their solutions but spot-on concerning certain problems.

    Listening to Jimmy Dore a lot and he says some things that make me cringe, but other things – most of his content- is more insightful and reasonable to me. The other commentaries lack sufficient cynicism.
    There are certain factions of the left that revere freedom of speech, who loathe authoritarianism, and have always seen the corruption inherent in some of our most revered institutions. The Catholic Church failed miserably. They did not adequately address the problems. At all. So why should it be recognized as some great institution? Also, it’s not as though we can go back 500 years when the Catholic Church was free of corruption, right? LOL

    The Vietnam war? I was against it as a 17 year-old, then for it as a fan of freedom capitalism and America, and now in retrospect, I find it absolutely abominable.

    Ditto Iraq and Afghanistan for similar reasons. I was for it, then saw the results, the political fallout ( the inability to win and the political corruption) and I was shortsighted.

    Watching Ukraine unfold was like watching an oversized truck barrel towards an undersized overpass.

    I trust one Democrat and two Republicans: Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul and Donald Trump.

    Don’t worry, Doug Watt. The Boy Scouts are going to become an arm of the Democratic Party in short order. Eagle Scout-hood will soon be granted to anyone taking hormone therapy, or you can attend three drag- queen events for the badge, obviating the need for Bryan to become a Democrat.

     

    Got my Eagle over 50 years ago. I like the way I earned it then. 

    • #29
  30. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    This sounds like,  for you, having the wrong feelings, even if one fights them, is the sin. I have been open and honest here, and showed some feelings that I know are not rational. Indeed, I put that up front.  I think these sorts of feelings pose a real problem for others. I was up front with having them myself. 

    Your response with a bunch of questions sure looks like an oblique way to say because I have expressed these feelings, not actions, I am no better than a leftist.

    No, not at all. It is possible to arrive at the same conclusions about America as a leftist from different perspectives. The end result, though, is the same: this country sux. Always has. 

    This misses my bigger point, that this sort of retroactivity  can be devastating for institutions and that it is horrible. 

    Agreed! So let’s not do it! I understand the post was about emotions, and you said you fight against these feelings. As do we all, to one degree or another. Ricochet is a good place for confessing to it among friends, and getting bucked-up to continue believing.

    • #30
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