I don’t normally put up posts that get partisan, but this one comes d*mn close, because it has to.
I’ve been watching the scandals unfolding in this administration with slack-jawed shock. I keep feeling like Jill (?) in Stranger in A Strange Land (despite the quotes I’m sure I’m paraphrasing. Stranger is not one of my favorites and not in heavy re-read rotation. It must be… ten years since I read it) “there are things you don’t do. You don’t do them. You don’t have to tell children not to eat their little friends.”
It’s not even the scandals but the “tip of the iceberg” feel to them, because, well, people who don’t know it’s not okay to spy on journalists – JOURNALISTS – might also be missing other basic social graces. People who think it’s okay to invent an “it’s all about a video” and talk about putting a filmmaker in jail (and yes, I know it’s technically for “parole violation” but that was not why Hillary promised to put him in jail FOR THE MOVIE) might not have the best grasp of the first amendment. (Throw them out, lawyers all!) People who think it’s okay to strong arm medical companies for squeeze to promote a government scam (let’s call a thing used to dig in the Earth a thing used to dig in the Earth, shall we?) that will destroy them (and all medical advances) probably are uncertain on the boundaries of government according to the constitution. People who think it’s fine and dandy to bug the cloak room in the house of representatives might have other moral flaws. People who think it’s okay to use the IRS against their political opponents might be using the levers of power in wrong ways in other areas too. (And btw, I’d be a lot more inclined to believe they knew nothing, if the anti-terrorism guidelines hadn’t been redesigned to TARGET the same groups the IRS targeted.)
And that’s not getting to the instructions given to our anti-terrorist groups rendering them unable to find and stop the very people likely to commit terrorism. Stopping a crime before it happens is always difficult for the official authorities, anyway. They’re best at punishing. But removing the identifiers of those most likely to do it from the list of things to watch for borders on clinical insanity.
And yet the press as a whole isn’t baying for blood. There are outbreaks here and there, but most of them aren’t even reporting ANY of this.
Part of it of course is the Progressive code of honor, which could be written (on a stamp) as “We watch out for our peeps” – this is philosophically tied to the idea that a Marxist society is inevitable and such hoary chestnuts which MUST at all costs be kicked to the ash heap of history – and also, of course with the fact that for the last thirty years “progressivism” has been a club identifier for “high class” and that a lot of people (in leftist controlled professions like mine) got (sometimes undeserved) wealth and respect based on their adherence to both parroting the “truths” of Marxism, and to this deranged form of Omerta.
But it’s more than that, and it goes deeper.
It goes all the way to the monkey brain, where loyalty to a bad hominid band leader, and being able to stay with the band increased your survival (and particularly your kids’ survival) chances over going off into the wilds on your own, in search of a better band. (All of us immigrants are immediately weird.)
During a particular dark time in my life (yes, pre-Dan. Also, I was a teenager and brain damaged in the peculiar way teens are.) Rod Stewart’s “A Reason To Believe” became my favorite song. Particularly the lines:
If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe
And last night, while catching up on the news, after a day spent in workshop classes and – in the one and two hour intervals between, when I got to come home – because our freezer died, cooking the world, (okay, only that part of the world that constituted 1/3 of our frozen food. It was defrosted but not warm, so it got cooked. The stuff that was defrosted and room temperature got thrown out. The stuff that was frozen solid got transferred to the loaner freezer. Our freezer is waiting on a part that should arrive sometime next week.) that song started going through my head for the first time in years.
Suddenly, it occurred to me the backbrain had it. It’s not just progressive Omerta. It’s not just progressive faith they’ll win in the end. It’s actually not progressivism at all. It’s human. (But is it art?)
People want to believe figures of authority are right. Constitutional monarchies give the people a figure head to believe in, while they can jump on and kick the actual government five ways from Monday. We don’t have that. (And no, I don’t want that. Yes, I was a monarchist before after I was an anarchist, but that was Portugal and in Portugal you can’t wring the idea some people are better than others by virtue of their birth out of the culture. It’s something I don’t want to install itself in minds here.) The president was SORTA supposed to be like that. But it was long ago (and besides, the wench is as dead as the Portuguese monarchist I once was.)
But still, we want to believe people in power, people at the head of any field, any company, any institution can be trusted. It’s the monkey brain. Of course in the US it’s very important for our ideas of ourselves to think that government respects the constitution even though that train left the track visibly and madly mid-20th century, and since then it’s been driving in the weeds, to the point this administration tells us the Constitution is “old” and “outdated” and “Only protects negative liberties” and are trying to replace it WITHOUT a new constitutional convention. (Which since we’re a nation created by that paper, damn skippy would be needed.)
There is a tendency even in America to believe the successful did “something right.”
For the most successful (I’m not sure he’s the most powerful any longer, and no I don’t mean the scandals, I mean by his own hand. Foreign leaders have taken the measure of the man, even if the press hasn’t) man in the world, the ultimate check is the press. The ONLY check is the press.
Only there the Progressive Omerta comes in.
If there were no other reason to (usually) vote Republican, the fact that the press crawls up THEIR butts like ants on a lump of sugar would be enough. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. People who ignore the constitution and lie with a straight face and whom the press doesn’t check are, ultimately, in absolute power. Even if they were angels before (and, children, in this case, Chicago politics) they won’t be after.
I have the advantage of hating most authority and only submitting to a limited amount of it when absolutely needed (but I resent it.) This means, yes, that I DID look crosseyed at George Bush – though usually not for the reasons the progressives did. (Younger son, when enjoined to write a letter to the president in fourth grade (with strong suggestions it should be about stopping the war) wrote about tariffs and general impediment to international commerce because that was what frosted his cookies (no, I hadn’t put him up to it, though I’m sure that’s what the teacher thought. This is my kid whom I’d always thought wasn’t political. He doesn’t talk much, and when he does it’s usually about ancient Greek history; Space flight; something a classmate did. But I started discovering when he was around 10 he reads a lot of the same blogs I do, he has a thing for economics and he might in fact be my male clone.) Sometimes he made me mad as fire, and the only reason I ever defended him was the “crazy charges” and BDS. If they’d been going after him for ineffective and intrusive anti-terrorism measures, I’d have been on the street with all the old hippies on oxygen.
But here is where the right – my type of right. Yes, there’s another – and the left are different. People like me start from the principles and pick the person least likely to HURT them. (We unfortunately never expect them to support them.) The left, at least since the fall of the USSR and the revelation that stuff just don’t work, are looking for the perfect individual to carry the flag on and MAGICALLY make this stuff work. They are by nature communitarian and because their system (in reality if not in theory) always depends on strong leaders, they want to believe their leaders are special.
It’s really hard to doubt the person on whose existence you’ve reposed all the hopes of a better society AND your social standing, too. They have to be perfect or magical, else everything you believe in is a sham.
Everything they believe in is a sham. And if they don’t wake up right quick, what my grandmother said about bad situations “The one who comes after will make me seem good” applies. (“Miss me, yet?”)
If I gave you time to change my mind I’d find a way just to leave the past behind Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried Still I look to find a reason to believe.
And that’s how we’ve come to this labyrinthine knot of tied-together snafus that only CAN’T be a conspiracy theory because a) it’s proven fact and b) conspiracy theories, even those about Loch Ness, are less insane.
Yes, I think that the tech will eventually and of itself limit the power of government over the individual. What we’re fighting about is how rough the transition will be and how long it will take.
For it to be as short as possible (I’m afraid there isn’t a “painless” option) and for the future to be as good as possible we must give up on wanting to believe that just because someone is powerful he is somehow anointed with goodness.
We must not look for a reason to believe.
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For those unfamiliar with According To Hoyt, I’m a working novelist who started this blog at her agent’s instigation, as a “platform” — this was in the days when I was trying to hide my politics so as to make it in the traditional publishing world. But it’s impossible to write everyday and not reveal yourself a little, and then more. This seeped into my novels which resulted in the space opera series whose covers you find linked on the side of the blog. Darkship Thieves won the 2011 award from the Libertarian Futurist Society and the second book, Darkship Renegades is a finalist for the award this year. I’m very pleased since it’s the only award I ever aspired to receiving. That said, this is a working writer’s blog and a considerable investment in time and effort, which detracts somewhat from my fiction writing. If you enjoy my work here, consider donating, subscribing or even if you enjoy science fiction, buying one of the books on the side bar. (I also write mystery, historical mystery and fantasy, but having forced the houses to disgorge the copyrights I’m going to bring them back later.)