Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Off and on, I have used the term "dictator fantasy" to refer to a type of context-dropping I see time and time again on the left and the right:
[P]eople who dream of imposing their will on others through force [are] short-sighted at best. Why? Because one moment's thought would indicate that, aside from the inherent difficulties (i.e., opposition from others) to such a goal, there is the inconvenient fact that one is quite likely himself to go under the yoke of an alleged ally or someone one has had to dupe along the way.Related to this fantasy is the notion that ethical ideas held, untested against and untied to reality as floating abstractions, will somehow lead to paradise on earth. A tale from the sixties that popped into my head recently illustrates this point quite well.
We [commune-dwellers] were supposed to be heroes, you know, and a hero is not supposed to get jealous because somebody is f-- your old lady, or upset because somebody has left the sink a greasepit. The day-to-day, quotidian stresses and tensions -- exacerbated by having 20 people in a one family house. That wore thin.The very ideals of our narrator -- and 0f the current administration -- have already been been tried and found wanting, at least in terms of leading to an enjoyable and fulfilling life. But a moment's thought could have told you that: If you're supposed to subordinate your self to the collective, the question is not whether you will lose a major value like your partner or your ability to sleep at night, but when. (Or, perhaps, how often.)
And this leads us to another lesson.
If you look at all the political agendas of the 1960s, they basically failed. We didn't end capitalism, we didn't end imperialism, we didn't end racism. Yeah, the war ended. But if you look at the cultural agendas, they all worked. There's no place in the United States you can go today where you can't find organic food, alternative medical practices, alternative spiritual practices, women's issues and groups, environmental issues and groups. All those things got injected into the culture on a very deep level. My feeling is, and my hope is, that those things will eventually change the politics. The politics, obviously, are influenced by huge historical forces and a lot of base human impulses. [bold added]This passage immediately followed the last! Our hippie has lived through his ideals being put into practice and even been honest enough to admit that they have failed very unpleasantly, and yet he still supports them, and hopes they will continue to shape the world.
Why on earth would he ever wish for that?
He is impervious to evidence because he has decided that he will never call altruism into question. The best he ever did was choose hypocrisy occasionally in order to keep on living while paying lip-service to an ethics that would kill him if carried out consistently.
The idea that collectivist restraints are good, and yet also meant for the hoi polloi has exactly this as its basis. This is why so many nominees and officials in Obama's idealistic kleptocracy are tax cheats.
This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 5:00 A.M. on May 20, 2009.