Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The purge

Dear Hannah,

This has been an ominous month for the right-wing.  Until now we had lived with the vestiges of "free speech" and believed, erroneously, that the internet would allow truth to be spread.  The truth about said truth is that people were in charge of the internet; and that this chaos of ideas gave birth to new powers of censorship; and that as men were capable of giving us speech they were also capable of making us mute.  We had escaped the hounds of the New York Times only to run into the nets of Mark Zuckerberg.  Before we were worried we could only hear "all the news that's fit to print."  Now we wonder whether our neighbors can see what we post.

They clamped down on us in the war against "fake news."  The Russians tried to meddle in our elections and were caught.  Moscow had tried, with questionable success, to tell us things that were not true; and the Democrats in charge of the internet, believing that these untruths were responsible for giving us a Republican President, decided to make war on whatever they deemed to be false.  Thus they scrubbed Youtube, overnight, of prominent Republican vloggers. Amazon deleted God-knows-how-many reviews of right-wing authors.  Google only found you what it wanted you to find; Facebook unpublished accounts and restricted the audiences of their right-wingers; and Reddit and Youtube, following the massacre at Parkland, deleted all videos pertaining to gun maintenance.  We are in the midst of a purge, and the most troubling thing about all of it is that few of us know that it's happening.

What Americans have missed is that the Russians are smart.  They meddled in our elections and got caught far too easily; and this widespread effort of theirs, with a hand (we forget) in nearly every movement of wackos, an attempt to influence both Black Lives Matter and the fringes of the Alt Right, has been interpreted by Americans as an influence of elections -- not what it really is, which is a concerted attack on the public faith.  Now neither side believes the other, many think our President is a fluke, congressional hearings are taking up the public attention, and the American elites, who are mostly on the left-wing, are getting rid of all information that pertains to the maintenance of our borders, to the protection of the second amendment, to the reform of our immigration system, to the defense of our police forces, to the criticism of Islam, and to the maintenance of gender roles.  In short the Russians have won, not by getting any particular president, but by ruining our ability to stop ruining ourselves.

The question is how we got to this point.  I believe there are several explanations, the first of these being that conservatives are always on the losing end of things.  Not in the sense that free markets and freedom of speech and an armed citizenry are a proven concoction for failure (these things are better known as classical liberalism), but in the sense that the side of conservation, in a universe where change is the only constant, is eventually a losing game.  You fall in love with something and try to hang on to it, and the end result is that you find you can't really hang on to anything.  It's romantic but it's foolish, and the best thing any "conservative" can do in any circumstance is his best to slow things down.

Which bring us to the second problem.  The conservative, by nature, isn't generally a cutting edge man.  His satisfaction with the way things are leads him to leave things the way they are; and this general contentment with his surroundings leads him to not dream of how things could be.  In other words he likes to paint within the lines.  The Founding Fathers on the other hand were inventors and renaissance men because they were dreamers and classical liberalism was a young dream.  Today classical liberalism, or what's left of it, is no longer a dream but a memory.  The young dream today belongs primarily to leftists, who believe in a new order of things and a new way of doing them.  These dreamers invented and organized the internet, and now, because they organized the internet, they decide what we say on it; and if they don't decide what we say on it they decide who can hear it.

To prove this extremely simplistic theory you need only ask yourself how many respectable conservative men, in your lifetime, have ever made any piece of art worth looking at, or listening to, or reading.  Nearly all of it has been done by scoundrels and radicals; people who didn't quite fit in the lines and because of this asked us to draw new ones.  Conservatives, on the other hand, didn't write Game of Thrones or make a hit musical about Hamilton, and they didn't invent Facebook or Youtube or Google or Amazon or Paypal.  They gave us such duds as God's Not Dead and The National Review.  The Founding Fathers were inventors because they were changing the existing order of things -- you might even go so far as to label them leftists.  Today the existing order of things is the framework left by the Founding Fathers.  We're left with all the stodgy men because all the fun and weird and really imaginative ones are out trying to remake the world in their image -- a shit image, but theirs nonetheless.  The hallmark of a creator is dissatisfaction.  The future belongs to our scoundrels.

But a memory is still a dream.  And at the moment we became sure classical liberalism was the past we became capable of believing it was our future*.  Then came Milo Yiannopolous and The Great Meme War.  The right-wing found its sense of humor and its fashion.  Banned from comedy clubs and Hollywood and colleges and the music scene, these so-called-conservatives who had little left to conserve found themselves on the cutting edge of the media.  We began to win because we were on the attack: the leftists had become recognized as The Establishment; political correctness held sway over almost every institution; Social Justice Warriors began to be despised; uncomfortable truths were trumpeted to our friends and our family; new news outlets and new prophets found their voices and the people huddled around their Iphones to listen.  Democrats dominated everything but the internet and because of this they thought they owned the Presidency.  But the internet, almost entirely by itself, won, and "the Russians" led to a clampdown on the internet.

There have been moments like this before and there will be moments like this again.  The Gutenberg press wasn't without its terrors to power and the subsequent repressions; and beyond this America itself is a product of a similar revolution.  The truth is that America is almost the product of an accident.  Our spiritual forefathers, the English, were on an island, and so they depended most heavily on a navy.  Capital throughout Europe grew, a nation in Europe raised a standing army, so the other nations had to raise standing armies to defend themselves against this standing army (see: Macaulay's History of England).  One by one this revolution in warfare became a revolution in statehood.  The public was no match for the new police force.  Power was centralized in the executive branches.  Liberties were snuffed out overnight.  Absolutism became the reigning fashion of the day, and Kings like Louis XIV proved they could rule the people absolutely.

But in England everything was different.  They watched as one by one the somewhat free peoples of Europe succumbed to standing armies; and, noting the danger, they seized on some brilliant solutions.  Separations between executive and legislative powers were strengthened.  The power to fund the army, if not to direct it, went to Parliament.  King Charles, attempting to raise a standing army by raising funds illegally, was beheaded by the republicans; and a series of checks and balances and rights and procedures, created in the aftermath, were passed on to a group of people who became known as The Americans.  England remained free, and because England remained free the world experienced The Enlightenment.

As such all technological revolutions require social evolutions.  Every new power requires new laws and new regulations.  The question we have before us today is not whether free speech lives on or dies.  It is whether democracy lives on or dies.  It's whether Republicans, who at this historic moment control the house and senate and the presidency, are willing to craft laws to protect the American public from our elites, who own everything else.  We are at the point, like our ancestors were yesterday with the Gutenberg press and the standing army, where the way we deal with a new power either saves us or destroys us.  I believe the internet can save us.  But only if we're willing to develop safeguards to protect us from the owners of the internet.

Your father,
-J

PS:  I've come under some fire for calling the founding fathers leftists; and as a result, after a few drinks on a Sunday afternoon I'd like to double down.  Yesterday's Tories are long dead and gone.  Yesterday's Whigs are all today's Tories.  The founding fathers may not have believed in socialism or feminism or social justice or nanny states; but they did believe in getting rid of an aristocracy, and getting rid of mercantilism, and getting rid of monarchy.  As such they were egalitarians and many of them were republicans and many more of them were capitalists.  The idea that this wasn't shocking to the "conservatives" of their day is idiotic.  The Americans weren't only a shock, but they were the first to implement many of these beliefs to the extent that they did; and because they did it they were a scandal to nearly all of their grandmothers, which is why they made swivel chairs and ran lightning through kites.  Any man who calls them "conservatives" is making an ass of himself.  The founding fathers were some of them conservative and many more scoundrels and dreamers.  They all collided and we ended up with an experiment in government -- which has lasted until now and will continue to last until the next generation of scoundrels and dreamers dreams us right into a death camp.

1 comment:

  1. "Conservatives, on the other hand, didn't write Game of Thrones or make a hit musical about Hamilton, and they didn't invent Facebook or Youtube or Google or Amazon or Paypal."

    Actually, Peter Thiel was one of the creators of Paypal. He's a conservative-libertarian.

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