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There Is Only One ‘Ideology’ To Be Resisted: Authoritarianism
Mrs Rodin and I recently watched a documentary on Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale amongst other novels. She is a fascinating character. Toward the end, both of us were put off by her focus on her fear of conservative authoritarianism. Not because she feared conservative authoritarianism, but because she seemed to be blind to progressive authoritarianism.
As Mrs Rodin noted: When you examined her work and her statements she had statements about not seeing yourself (as a woman) to be a victim; she adapted to her role as a mother — restricting her writing to when she wasn’t caring for the children — without expecting her author husband to pick up the slack; and she took on a caretaker responsibility, apparently without complaint, when her husband developed dementia. In other words, she defined herself as an individual and did not make doctrinaire decisions in how she lived her life.
In fairness, the documentary was made during the Trump Administration, so I wondered whether Covid and events in Canada under Justin Trudeau, or what’s going on with WEF, has given her any concern about progressive authoritarianism. Sadly, it doesn’t appear so. She is firmly in support of climate alarmism, and while she certainly supports the women’s protests in Iran and author freedom as well, she doesn’t seem to appreciate that “Gilead” — Atwood’s fictional dystopia — can be arrived at through multiple routes.
Atwood is a Canadian. And it is startling to see such a proponent of “liberty” not involving herself in marches opposing Trudeau’s “Gilead” — the arrest of the preacher during the pandemic, the Emergencies Act shutting down of credit and banking to wrong thinkers, the banning of protest, the continuing health emergency rules. She was happy to do so in America during the Trump administration.
The reason why Atwood and many people who see themselves as progressives are blind to progressive authoritarianism is the same reason why people who see themselves as conservatives are blind to conservative authoritarianism: we focus too much on the path and not the destination. The authoritarian impulse exists and it is agnostic about the pathway. Who among us has not at one or another time secretly (or not so secretly) wished that we could extend our personal control and order things to our (righteous) preferences? If we can see that in ourselves, we know it exists in others.
And it is this impulse that can be exploited through ideology in service to someone else’s more powerful drive for authoritarian control. And that is what we must fight, whether it is “our” team or “their” team. We can disagree mightily about this or that policy, so long as we can agree that we will not succumb to authoritarianism in support of our policy preferences.
But it appears that only the “losing” side at any given time is ever sensitive to authoritarianism; the “winning” side seems to revel in how they are getting their way without giving any thought to how authoritarianism will eventually grind them down. If we are to save ourselves, it is not through forcing our will on anyone; it is through acceptance of suboptimal outcomes (from our perspective) that maximize individual liberty.
When your neighbor paints their house an outrageous color, rejoice in their freedom to do so, or look for new neighbors. Don’t turn the country into a massive homeowner’s association thinking that the rules will always reflect your tastes. For any homeowner’s association left unchecked will surely, at some point, become a gulag.Published in General
The thing that always puts me off about dystopias like that created by Atwood is the apparently assumption – at least by their readers/fans/supporters if not the authors themselves – that it would be any different if 90%-whatever of men became sterile.
I saw A Boy and His Dog. It must have been torture fertilizing all those women constantly. One after the other. Endlessly.
As the movie explained, it’s all in the execution.
I am not sure if you are putting forth the hypothesis that the end of prayer in public schools made America Godless.
But it is an interesting hypothesis nonetheless. The idea that whether America remained a Christian nation or became a Godless nation hinged only on whether children attending public schools heard a prayer each school day is an interesting one.
Is religious belief that contingient? Given that in the 1950s an overwhelming majority of Americans were self-described Christians and church attendance was high, it would seem that children had exposure to the Christian message outside of public school.
Did the ban of prayer in public school really have such a destabilizing impact on the religious faith of Americans, causing America to become Godless?
Why did the impact of all of those sermons given and hymns sung in church fall flat in terms of their persuasive impact compared to the ban on prayer in public schoool?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
You don’t mention what the children in public education were taught to believe in following the cessation of prayer in school and you fail to point out this is when parents disappeared from much of their children lives with the emergence of the feminists and outside the family childcare. Lots of changes beyond removing prayer.
It has been chipped away little by little. Chip away enough at the foundation and the statue will fall over. You can’t argue things have gotten better since Christianity has decreased.
We do have some here who are expert at one-sided conversation. There is much more wrong in the conduct of our public education than issues related to religion and school prayer. What is hurting our society is what has been put into the education process more than what has been removed. Look at some of the performance statistics in cities like Chicago and Baltimore and it will be evident that the basics are missing.
Well, some people do argue that things have gotten better since Christianity has decreased. Obviously, I would not expect Christians to think this.
Details here is what would be really interesting. Can we have a list?
EDIT: I want you @heavywater to know that I have a long possible list of things I think could be on such a list but everything I can think of yields bad results.
I bet all of it has to do with sexual practices.
Maybe some drugs and gambling in the mix.
I would imagine that a Buddhist might feel more comfortable in an America where Christianity has declined. Same for a Hindu or a Jain or a Sikh.
Yes. They weren’t going to have him do it “personally.” When Don Johnson’s character thought that’s what they meant, they just grinned evilly and maybe laughed.
Yes, because those authoritarian Christians won’t let them commit suttee. /painful 🙄
I see this discussion ( in terms of identifying authoritarianism as the chief evil) to be missing the ideal of a “virtuous” people as set forth by Franklin, Washington and other founders as the necessity for our form of self-government.
Philosophy is in the end to be required so as to find what virtues and form WE should have. Freedom can only exist within a purposeful structure. The anti- authoritarianism I see the discussion adopting, appears to lead to license to everything and then through majority rule to the chaos of evil. If you cannot resist evil, or even identify it, one and we are lost.
I am thinking particularly of @Rodin and @Western Chauvinist
But besides psychological cause and effects, when you deny or exclude God categorically, you get all kinds of spiritual dysfunction and corruption in its His place.
So you resort to imagining. Imagine there’s no heaven, eh? It seems to me that Hindus or Jains or Sikhs have always wanted to come to the US. Did they only start wanting to immigrate once God was removed from the public square and teaching?
I think a distinction has to be made between types of evils. Some evils will be tolerated while others will not be tolerated.
Earlier in this thread I mentioned that even though I see alcohol consumption as causing harm in our society, I explained why I would not support a ban on the consumption, sale and production of alcohol.
I would rather let each adult decide for himself or herself how to manage their alcohol consumption, if they choose to drink at all. I personally abstain, for a multitute of reasons including the fact that I don’t like the taste and the increased cancer risk associated with even moderate alcohol consumption.
But I take a “to each his own” attitude on alcohol. Similarly on homosexuality. I don’t desire homosexual sex. But some do. To each his own.
When it comes to murder, rape and robbery, I support criminal punishment for those acts.
@ontos, It is true that I do not expressly address that. In part it is because I think if you suppress your authoritarian impulse you achieve a kind of default virtue. You cannot be alert to your inner authoritarian without considering the potential for your acts affecting others. You fall into a form of ordered liberty when you show this kind of respect for others — the golden rule.
If that were the case, they wouldn’t have come here before the advent of the godless, soulless America.
Not necessarily. If a Buddhist is living in Thailand in 1955, he could decide to come to America not because America is Christian, but because America is more prosperous than Thailand is or perhaps for a multitude of other reasons.
In any case, many people have come to the United States after America became godless, many of them are non-Christian, but many are Christian too.
Lot’s of “ifs.” If people come to a Christian country to be more prosperous, it is hardly fitting of them to want to change the country to be more like them. Sounds to me like immigration needs to be more limited and selective.
Let’s take Roya Hakakian, a Jew from Iran who came to America after the Iranian Theocratic revolution.
She might have come to America, not because she perceived it as Christian (although she might have perceived it that way), but because she perceived it as a country where someone of her religious views (secular and culturally Jewish) are given space to live.
I support increased immigration for people with high skills and who have many years of work ahead of them (ages 18 to 40).
I support immigrants who assimilate into our culture, not those who want us to assimilate into theirs. One doesn’t have to change religions to assimilate. If being exposed to our religion will be harmful or hurtful to them, they should choose somewhere else.
Or stay where they are, and be content with the lack of success that may be a natural result of their religion.
This could lead to a discussion of assimilation vs integration, which has been discussed before on Ricochet, but probably not enough. The way some people use the word “assimilate” they seem to be demanding a religious assimilation to some degree. It’s complicated, because here in the U.S. not everybody follows the one, true religion.
It isn’t that I expect another religion to follow mine.it is that I expect them to be tolerant of the religion of those who welcomed them into the country. Rude guests can leave.
That gets pretty close to my view, though it’s more the culture, values, and principles of government that I expect them not to undermine. It’s not a bad idea to learn what we can from the newcomers’ cultures, but I draw the line at letting them undermine or sabotage ours.
Changed my is to isn’t in my first sentence. Fat fingers and skinny keyboard must have hit delete instead of space bar.