Good vs. Evil

 

The Kavanaugh hearings were quite the spectacle. On one hand, you have the fire-breathing Democrats. Women will die! I am Spartacus! Wide-eyed, screaming protesters! Every day brings new spectacular displays of heroic passion! And on the other hand, you have, well, a very boring middle aged guy named Brett for Pete’s sake. I look at him, and it’s hard to imagine getting so exercised that I would engage in such histrionics in public over, well, over him. I mean, just look at the guy. His record is solid but boring. Now, since so much of leftism is so unpopular, Democrats are forced to legislate through the courts rather than through the legislature, so I can understand why they are disappointed that a non-leftist has been nominated to the Supreme Court. But this seems like an epic battle of the centuries, not routine confirmation of a Presidential appointment. It seems odd.

Politics, of course, has long been practiced along these lines. It’s us vs. them. Certain catastrophe lies just around the corner. Unless, of course, you vote for me. So the concept is not new. But, my goodness. Obama seemed to elevate progressive melodrama to new heights. And Trump does little to calm the passions of those who disagree with him, so the fire has continued to grow. And with objective evidence of the benefits of leftism, um, lacking, it is understandable that leftists emphasize emotions over rational decision making. There are many things at play here. But again. My goodness. In five years, Antifa will be the moderates in the Democrat party, telling the radicals in their party that they need to let the system work, and they should go back to class.

I remember sitting on my couch watching my two-year-old daughter scream and cry until she could hardly breathe while lying on her stomach beating her hands and feet on the floor, over which dress she was going to wear to church. I understood that she was disappointed, but it was a remarkable display of pure rage which seemed out of place. Watching the Kavanaugh hearings brings back memories – how do you reason with an enraged two-year-old girl? Should you even try? I never tried, so I wouldn’t know (“You either choose to put on that dress, now, or you choose option B. And you won’t like option B. I don’t care which one you choose.” In my loving but menacing fatherly tone…). But discussion seems impossible and pointless. And frankly, I have better things to do.

But debates in the Senate are more important that arguing over church attire, despite how Democrats behave in those august halls.

How did things deteriorate to this point? There are many factors, I think.

First, is the overwhelming, spectacular success of our schools. The purpose of our schools is to teach that American values are bad, collectivism is good, and ideas to the contrary are heresy that are not welcome in the public sphere.

Students are no longer willing to engage with those who disagree with them. If the faculty was telling students to shout down speakers they disagree with, and not let them talk, that would be horrifying. The faculty does not need to encourage this behavior. The students are doing it on their own. That is much more horrifying.

It has not been easy or cheap. It has taken decades of concerted effort by the left to build our current school system, but it is finally reaping rewards for them, and continues to improve.

Modern entertainment has played a role, as well. I was in high school in the ’80s, when cable TV and video games came out. I don’t think that anyone at the time fully appreciated the impact those media would have on our society. The messaging of the programming was important, of course, but so was the ease with which you could get information. Why spend six weeks traveling to the Arctic when you could just watch Nanook of the North on cable? Why spend all day reading whatever you could find at the library about the latest lawsuit at Dupont, when you can just sit in your pajamas and watch a 60-minute segment about it? And now, even that is too much time and effort – we have Twitter.

When you are feeding a newborn, you don’t introduce bottle feeding until they’re accustomed to breast feeding. Milk just falls out of a bottle – it takes no effort. Breastfeeding, meanwhile, takes some effort on the baby’s part, so once she gets used to a bottle, she often will shun breastfeeding. Why would a student today spend years studying Aristotle, Burke, Tocqueville, Bastiat (of course!), and other great thinkers? She can gain a very satisfying understanding of the world through Jon Stewart and Twitter. There was recently a brilliant, insufficiently loved post on Ricochet about the danger of easy knowledge. This is vital to Democrats.

One thing I love about Shakespeare is that every person you’ve ever met is in a Shakespeare play somewhere. He wrote about real people facing real problems in the real world. He wrote about people with great strengths and terrible flaws. Just like you and me. They were people that anyone would recognize, struggling with decisions that anyone would recognize. Shakespeare would have loved Donald Trump.

As a father of teenagers, I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of superhero movies. What strikes me about those movies is that it is extremely rare to encounter a character that resembles an actual person. Even the non-superhero characters in these movies are, at best, shadowy reflections of human nature, visible only in black and white. I think that’s why these movies are so boring, despite the remarkable graphics and spectacular action. William Shakespeare would fall asleep 20 minutes in, despite the never-ending explosions. At least I do.

Marx’s view of the world, proletariat vs. the bourgeois, was an appropriately simplistic story to tell when trying to fan the flames of hatred and incite revolution. The left has changed the terms a bit, but to them, everything is good vs. evil.

So when students threaten the safety of a speaker they think that they’re likely to disagree with, rather than listening to her and engaging in debate, that’s ok, because they’re courageously standing up against evil. When Cory Booker gets a little carried away, that’s ok. When Antifa thugs beat up some socialist kid because he has an American flag, that’s ok.

What is not ok when fighting evil? Is there any such thing as an over-reaction? If the other side is evil, no tactic, no matter how despicable, is out of bounds.

But what if people are more complex than that?

This is the central problem with leftism (collectivism). It just doesn’t fit with human nature. We are more complex than Superman or Lex Luthor. All of us are. Even Cory Booker. How do you coordinate the passions of such complicated and varying types of people? You don’t, except in war (Which is why, to the left, everything is a war. The war on poverty, the war on climate change, and so on.).

The genius of our Founding Fathers was to attempt to govern as little as possible. To a leftist (collectivist), that is obviously unacceptable.

Being, as it is, infested with people, the world is a very complicated place. And without an open mind, anything we don’t agree with is simply labeled as “evil,” and ignored or destroyed. And willful ignorance leads, as it always does, to hatred and violence. There is no other way.

The left’s tendency to distill any discussion into a battle between good and evil makes debate impossible. It makes the search for common ground impossible. It even makes free markets impossible (boycotts are common now). Discussion, negotiation, and free markets are mankind’s only hope to avoid perpetual violence and war. When we stop arguing, we start fighting. There is no other way.

The intentional closing of minds to opposing thought cannot coexist with peace on earth. If everyone is either good or evil, then war must ensue. There is no other way.

A couple months ago I saw a picture on a website of an enraged Antifa thug beating someone on the ground. The thug’s T-shirt read, “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.” I wish I would have saved the picture. But I’m glad I didn’t.

This is horrifying.

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  1. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    The politicians seeking to run for president in 2020 believe the hard-core base controls the primaries, and that the hard-core base are the angry types who bring the crazy and want a presidential nominee who thinks like them. That’s why even as over-the-top as Harris and Booker were in pandering to those groups in attacking Kavanugh, they still weren’t the furthest out in the boondocks past left field — that honor went to the maniacs on Twitter who didn’t even know who Zina Bash was, but just knew she was making white supremacist symbols for the TV cameras.

    Kavanaugh at least had a 12-year record as a judge for them to get apoplectic about — Bash was simply sitting behind him at the hearing and they managed in the span of about 15 minutes to get apoplectic about her and only backed down (slightly) when they had to do that or come up with a reason why the daughter of a Mexican mom and Jewish dad whose own parents were Holocaust survivors would be part of some neo-Nazi cabal. The angry left lives to find something new to get angry about every day, and the only way they’re going to calm down is to keep losing elections (as the angry left did by 1992, when three straight presidential election losses gave them just enough self control to allow Democrats to nominate Bill Clinton to project a more moderate image for the party).

    • #1
  2. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    And to think that according to John Yoo’s assessment in his interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge that Kavanaugh may be close to the Kennedy style on social issues.

    • #2
  3. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Bash was simply sitting behind him at the hearing and they managed in the span of about 15 minutes to get apoplectic about her and only backed down (slightly) when they had to do that or come up with a reason why the daughter of a Mexican mom and Jewish dad whose own parents were Holocaust survivors would be part of some neo-Nazi cabal.

    Hopefully, she returned and did this as reported.  Hopefully, it’s not a photoshop.

    • #3
  4. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Dr. Bastiat, you are completely correct to insult our educational system. However, I respectfully feel that you ignore a more important question. Why did we, allow this to happen? 

    My cousin came back from college with a Masters in social work. She thought that female genital mutilation was OK as long as the the women consented. She was knowledgable about the maladies that FGM have. But from college she thought that she judge an evil practice.

    • #4
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Dr. Bastiat, you are completely correct to insult our educational system. However, I respectfully feel that you ignore a more important question. Why did we, allow this to happen? 

    That is a good question.  I wish I had an answer for you.

    • #5
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Dr. Bastiat: Why would a student today spend years studying Aristotle, Burke, Tocqueville, Bastiat (of course!) and other great thinkers? She can gain a very satisfying understanding of the world through Jon Stewart and Twitter.

    This is so true. It’s a tragedy. I’ve known some really good teachers who had wonderful knowledge to share with their students, but the system as a whole has completely corroded the students’ will to learn. And the smartphone addiction in high school students has destroyed their attention span. 

    This is not going to end well. 

    • #6
  7. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    In Arthur Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon,’ a Communist explains the necessity for absolutism in propaganda directed at the masses:

    What was presented as right must shine like gold, what was presented as wrong must be as black as pitch; political statements had to be coloured like ginger-bread figures at a fair.

     
    • #7
  8. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    JoelB (View Comment):

    And to think that according to John Yoo’s assessment in his interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge that Kavanaugh may be close to the Kennedy style on social issues.

    Indeed, I am very uncertain of just how much Kavanaugh rejects legislating through the bench. But, not being a legal scholar, I will accept the general opinion that he is at least leaning conservative.

    • #8
  9. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    My cousin came back from college with a Masters in social work. She thought that female genital mutilation was OK as long as the the women consented

    I think many ‘Progressives’ would go further than this…they would say it was OK as long as “it was their culture”, without even raising the question of consent.

    And I think that in many cases, this worldview precedes college.  Years ago, I sat in on part of a philosophy class at a well-known university.  The instructor, who was really good, was developing a critique of Cultural Relativism, attempting to demonstrate the contradictions and atrocities to which it must inevitably lead.

    And most of the students were almost disoriented by this viewpoint; they had never even considered the possibility that there could be any guide to ethics than cultural expectations.

    • #9
  10. Bunwick Chiffswiddle Member
    Bunwick Chiffswiddle
    @Kephalithos

    Dr. Bastiat: A couple months ago I saw a picture on a website of an enraged Antifa thug beating someone on the ground. The thug’s T-shirt read, “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.”

    Fair enough, Mr. Antifa. But let me remind you, a parachute riddled with holes doesn’t work very well. Or, as Chesterton said:

    The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

    • #10
  11. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    There is a lot in this article and it’s all very good. 

    • #11
  12. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars, wrote of a certain kind of individual, the meaning of whose life comes to center around political activism.

    He says that during the Stresemann, chancellorship, things were looking up:  the economy got better, the political environment stabilized:

    The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.

    But…a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:

    A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.

    and

    To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

    I think that in America today we have a considerable number of people who get “the raw material for their deeper emotions” delivered by the public sphere, and the vast majority of these people are on the Left.

    Haffner’s book reviewed & excerpted here.

     

    • #12
  13. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    There are some at Rico who recoil at seeing the word “evil” used  as an adjective for the democrat party. To me it fits perfectly. And the proof of it is being made much clearer by their worsening behavior each day. When the core of your beliefs rest on Margaret Sanger, embrace the suck.

    • #13
  14. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Dr. Bastiat, you are completely correct to insult our educational system.

    Just to be clear, I did not insult our educational system.  I said it was a spectacular success.  It is meeting its goals.  If you view it as unsuccessful, you must have other goals.

    As do I.  

    But to the left, our educational system is doing exactly what they designed it to do.

    • #14
  15. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    I Walton (View Comment):
    There is a lot in this article and it’s all very good.

     

    Thanks @iwalton – I really appreciate your kind words!

    • #15
  16. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Columbo (View Comment):

    There are some at Rico who recoil at seeing the word “evil” used as an adjective for the democrat party. To me it fits perfectly. And the proof of it is being made much clearer by their worsening behavior each day. When the core of your beliefs rest on Margaret Sanger, embrace the suck.

    Let me emphasize that I did not use the word “evil” to describe the Democrat party.  My point was that Democrats break even mundane discussions on policy down into a war between good and evil, and I find this approach to political debate to be unhelpful at best, and a real threat to western civilization at worst.

    Your point is well taken @columbo, and you could argue that abortion and those who promote it are evil.  But that’s a separate argument. 

    • #16
  17. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    There are some at Rico who recoil at seeing the word “evil” used as an adjective for the democrat party. To me it fits perfectly. And the proof of it is being made much clearer by their worsening behavior each day. When the core of your beliefs rest on Margaret Sanger, embrace the suck.

    Let me emphasize that I did not use the word “evil” to describe the Democrat party. My point was that Democrats break even mundane discussions on policy down into a war between good and evil, and I find this approach to political debate to be unhelpful at best, and a real threat to western civilization at worst.

    Your point is well taken @columbo, and you could argue that abortion and those who promote it are evil. But that’s a separate argument.

    Democrats BOO God at Convention

     

    • #17
  18. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    JoelB (View Comment):

    And to think that according to John Yoo’s assessment in his interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge that Kavanaugh may be close to the Kennedy style on social issues.

    John Kennedy, if practicing politics today, would be to the right of every Republican I can think of right now.

    • #18
  19. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Dr. Bastiat: First, is the overwhelming, spectacular success of our schools. The purpose of our schools is to teach that American values are bad, collectivism is good, and ideas to the contrary are heresy that are not welcome in the public sphere.

    For an example of the success,

      Aryssa Damron – Yale University September 12, 2018

    Queer freshmen greatly outnumber conservatives at the university, according to a survey

    A Yale Daily News survey of freshmen students at that university found that more students of the class of 2022 identify on the LGBTQ spectrum than as conservative, and that queer freshmen even outnumber other sizable demographics in the class, such as Protestants and Catholics.

    The paper’s survey, the results of which are composed of 864 respondents, or just over one-half of the freshman class, found that only nine percent of respondents identified as “somewhat conservative,” with one percent identifying as “very conservative.” LGBTQ respondents, on the other hand, greatly outnumberd conservatives in total: According to the survey, “nearly 5 percent [of respondents] identify as gay and just over 9 percent as bisexual or transsexual. Three percent opted not to answer, and the remaining 8 percent identified as asexual, ace spectrum or questioning their sexual orientation.”

     

    • #19
  20. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    @ontheleftcoast, I really hope that the Christians and heterosexuals are just in the closet.

    Those are incredible statistics.  Well, at least, I wish they were incredible…

    • #20
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