Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I Say "Politics is Division"

I keep saying this: Politics is division, and government is force. And really, it's true.

If you are mad about something, you form a political movement, and that political movement is almost bound to be based on the idea that society is holding you down. We need health care, education, climate research, but the eevil insurance companies, dead white males, oil companies are holding back the future. So we must join together against these enemies, and create a government program to defeat the enemies and force society to spend more money on us: for our health care, our education, our planet.

Isn't that the way it always works?

Last weekend, I read a piece by John Hawkins, who's always writing articles like "five reasons why liberalism stinks." But this time he has a list that knocks it out of the ballpark -- because it makes my point.
Liberalism is an ideology of tribalism and hatred. It works incessantly to undermine anything that truly brings America together -- like Christianity, the culture and love of country -- so it can try to rebind people together as liberal drones. Relatively minor differences of opinion between liberals and those who disagree with them are habitually elevated to encourage hatred.

For example, there’s no logical, rational reason that…
  • If you oppose illegal immigration, you must hate Hispanics.
  • If you oppose Affirmative Action, you must hate blacks.
  • If you oppose free birth control, you must hate women.
  • If you’re concerned about radical Islam, you must hate all Muslims.
  • If you oppose gay marriage, you must hate gays.
Yet, liberalism promotes those lies incessantly to keep people at each other’s throats. 
 The point is that if you want to raise a political issue then you must get people all riled up about it. Otherwise nobody will pay attention, and nothing will change.

Now, my point is that politics and government is the way that humans protect themselves against predators. Period. Everything else is mission creep and leads to injustice.

So if you want to assemble people into a political group it stands to reason that you must convince them that they are under threat.

Thus racism, sexism, classism, homophobia. Workers! The bosses are out to get you!  Women! The Republicans are running a "war on women!" Blacks! The white "system" is out to get your "gentle giants!" And so on.

Liberals understand that this is an outrage, because they are really sensitive when someone tries to do the division thing on them. Liberals really object when someone accuses them of being "unpatriotic."

Our liberal friends from time to time like to accuse the government of whipping up nationalistic fervor and turning the minds of young men when they recruit them for the armed forces.

So national leaders rile up the citizens when they want to fight a foreign war, and they accuse their opponents of being "unpatriotic." That's just the same as liberals calling their opponents "haters." It's about riling up your supporters into a tribal frenzy so you can win the next war or election.

But I'd go a little further, if you don't mind too much.

I think that all politics, all government, involves recruiting people into a political army, riling them up with rage and martial spirit, and then marching them off to war.

But, as liberals so cogently argued after World War I, what's the point of it all, especially for the front-line soldier that gets chewed up and spat out by the military or political machine? The fact is that the individual soldier is cannon fodder for the politicians and the generals. If he dies, most probably from hunger and sickness, too bad. The movement or the nation must prevail!

Which is to say that in all wars the individual foot-soldier gets screwed, whether we are talking about the trenches in WWI, the strikes against capital, the various social justice wars that liberals are for ever ginning up on behalf of women, minorities, gays, working stiffs.

That is why conservatives want to dial back the politics and limit government. We don't think that Americans should be at perpetual war with each other. We believe that the more government you have the more conflict you have, and the closer you will get to real civil war.

That, of course, is the argument that Rene Girard makes in Violence and the Sacred. It is all too easy for arguments and feuds within society to dial up to all-out violence. And once it starts, how do you stop it? (Read the book to find out.)

Liberals just know that they are on the side of the angels, and that the "activism" they practice is all in the cause of peace and justice.

But politics is division. The whole point of "activism" may be to mobilize a group of activists to fight for peace and justice. But the historians tell us that once you have started a war you find yourself riding the whirlwind. The war never ends up where you thought it would. In 1914 the German and Austrian emperors had no idea that four years later they would be out of a job and their empires broken up.

So it is with all the tawdry liberal "wars" on racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia. There is no telling where it will all end up.

All we know is that it will all end up really different from what the liberal activists confidently predicted.

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