The Slowly Rising Tide.
Well, my essay Reasonable People has drawn a lot of eyeballs and a lot of comments, even a few response essays. I’d like to touch upon a couple of the responses, on at least one point.
Posse Incitatus writes:
The Posse agrees that the anti-war left has long left rationality behind and that mass movements need no real reason (in the logical sense) for being, merely a cause.
However we do not share his belief that the leftover left, pathetic anti-war movement and waning gun control lobby are either growing or of much long-term consequence.
Kim du Toit agrees:
Where I disagree with Kevin is that there’s a “slowly rising tide” of Lefty malcontents.
Frankly, I think that the “mass movement” in America is probably a more-or-less fixed number, and has been since, oh, the late 1970s. Yes, new recruits arrive each year, principally among young people—but an equally-large number depart their ranks too, as people graduate, get jobs, start families and just plain grow up.
What we are seeing is not a movement in growth, but a movement whose voice is becoming ever more shrill and more desperate.
As I said in a comment at Posse Incitatus, I hope they’re right. I really do. However, I don’t think humanity has changed all that much in the last two milennia, and I think Eric Hoffer’s observations on the nature of mass movements are frighteningly accurate. What a successful mass movement does is motivate people to action. The spread of Bush Derangement Syndrome among otherwise nominally sane people is greatly disturbing to me.
Right now the only thing holding it all together, as far as I can see, is economic prosperity. If the jihadis manage to strike at something that creates a real economic depression, I fully expect the rise of that mass movement.
What I think both Kim and Posse Incitatus lack is much exposure to the “reality-based community.” That’s why they blow off Dr. Santy’s observation:
But what about the average person on the street who has, or has come to have a visceral hatred of President Bush? Perhaps they simply didn’t vote for him in 2000, believing the media propaganda or caricature of his intellect and capabilities; or perhaps they simply didn’t like him because he was from the opposition party, or a Texan. or any other number of normal reasons.
It seems to me that the Democrats and the Left have used their continuous propaganda well, but there is a also a strong personal psychological factor involved in being able to convince normally sane people that the source of all evil in the world is George W. Bush.
Normally sane people.
They’re out there, and I think in growing numbers. How much of it is due to the “continuous propaganda” of the Left and how much is other factors, I don’t know, but I see them. I interact with them on a fairly regular basis.
Henry Louis Mencken pointed out in the 1930’s,
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
The Left and the Right have been doing this for decades. They’re doing it now. But now some of the hobgoblins aren’t imaginary. Still, most are. Others are more nebulous. Let’s run a short list:
Global warming (a.k.a. “Climate change”)
Overfishing of the oceans
Other diminished resources
Voter fraud and stolen elections
“Jobless” economic recovery
Weapons of mass destruction
Rising fascism in government
Erosion of individual rights
Avian flu / AIDS / other epidemics
I could go on. For quite a while.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with this blog pointing out the failures (deliberate or not) of our public education system. There’s a set of links on the left there to people who concentrate on the education system and its deficiencies. We’ve had literally decades of indoctrination rather than education for a large portion of the population. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the tools necessary to think rationally, but are quite capable of feeling both fear and dependency. Things are not as they have been.
Election 2004 gave the presidency to GWB by a thumping majority.
I’m not sure he and I saw the same election. Bush won by a margin of just over 3,000,000 votes out of over 122,000,000 votes cast, or less than 2.5%. The by-county election map wasn’t bright red, but a vast sea of purple. Ohio won the presidency for Bush, so of course “the Republicans stole Ohio” with rigged Diebold voting machines. This is, of course, “proven” by the recent resignation of Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell.
There are a LOT of people out there whose emotions range from the raving paranoid to the merely uncertain. (Reason need not apply.) They’ve been told for decades that disaster lays just around the corner, that it’s all Man’s fault, and that something must be done to avert it. And now, for the last five years they’ve been told that George W. Bush and the Conservatives are not only not doing anything to help the situation, but are actively pursuing disaster in order to make their rich friends richer and the poor, poorer by nearly every talking-head and media outlet out there.
And more are, I am convinced, beginning to believe.
Right now the Left lacks two things necessary to galvanize that mass movement: an effective demagogue, and a real, tangible crisis. Eric Raymond said that he feared a “city-killing attack” that would transform America into something he didn’t like, and I agree with him. But I also think that something slightly less than a city-killing attack, something that, for example, crashed the world’s economy, would serve as the catalyst for that mass movement – transforming America into something else that neither he nor I would like.
Kim pointed to Albert Jay Nock’s essay Isaiah’s Job by way of encouragement. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. It’s only six pages long. I would like to remind Kim that, while the Remnant never goes away, “the masses” are always lead by a minority. It is which minority that concerns me. Posse Incitatus asks: “What kind of fortress can one build with marshmellows?” His contention is that the “mass movement” I fear is made up of the spineless.
But not all of them are spineless. And the question I asked him in response was this:
What happens when you give cowards the power of life-and-death, backed up by the State?
History tells us. After the slaughter is over, they claim they were “only following orders.”