Friday, June 3, 2016

"Make it like it was"

In the last week I have proposed the idea that the significant characteristic of the bourgeoisie, or the People of the Responsible Self, is that we are not that interested in power.

Craig Greenman, responding to my post "Yes, What is a Conservative?" takes issue with my definition.
My guess is that there are a number of conservatives, just like there are a number of folks of every strong political persuasion (including liberals and whatnot), who are interested in power. It would be difficult to convince me or any other Left-leaning person that some members of the Bush administration weren't interested in power -- or that many of the powerful folks who support them aren't interested in power.
Of course. When you are using power, you call it "helping people." When people are using power against you, you call it "injustice."

More generally, I would say that conservatives are like other people. They appeal to government when they are feeling threatened, and they are right to do so because that is what government is for: protecting its people against threats foreign and domestic. The classic line is the appeal a woman made to Ed Koch when he was running for mayor of New York City, reported by the Huffington Post.
Ed Koch, the late mayor of New York, once recalled, while campaigning on the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, an elderly woman who approached him and implored that he “make it like it was.”
Yep, we all want that. But there's a problem.

Right now, I understand, France is in the middle of a wave of strikes because the government is trying to undo various social-welfare benefits, like the 35 hour week, in order to make France more competitive and revive its faltering economy. This neatly illustrates the problem with government putting its thumb on the economic scales:  it can't ever take them off without the threat of riots in the streets, especially where the French are concerned.

It's an interesting question. According to Deirdre McCloskey the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years, in which per-capita income went from $3 per day to $100 per day, occurred because of the bourgeois rhetoric to allow innovation, "trade-tested betterment," rather than throttle it in its cradle because it threatened the status quo and the established interests. Notice the chilling truth here. If you want betterment then the price of that betterment is that the government stands by without intervening while established interests, probably its supporters, decline and die off.

But what about the transgendered? That is the question that Craig Greenman proposes. Suppose you feel different. Suppose you apply for job after job and can't get hired? What do you do?
So s/he will seek help from somebody who *has* made it in society, somebody who is better placed in it: a politician or activist on the Left.

This helping person will often be a straight Left politician or a party that consists primarily of them.  And those politicians will use the power they have, that has been loaned to them by the voters -- voters like me -- to help him/her.  They might even propose a law that says discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace is wrong.
Actually, this scenario is false on several levels. First of all, someone who is different does not know what do do about it or even imagine that there is any possibility of "doing" unless someone "raises their consciousness." So the helpless victim does not seek help, the "politician or activist on the Left" seeks them out and offers to help. That was the whole point of the Frankfurt School back in the 1920s. Its leaders recognized that the "helping the working class" had problems because in defiance of Marxist economics the workers were getting richer. What could believing Marxists do? The Frankfurt Schoolers solved the problem by extending the Marxist paradigm to other victim classes and began to raise their consciousness, just as they had with the working class.

Secondly, we are not talking about "helping." We are talking about the clunking fist of government force, something about which liberals are very sensitive when George W. Bush is president. The question is: Should the government use force to mainstream the transgendered?

Thirdly, liberals are not "propos[ing] a law" to help the transgendered. They are using top-down administrative ukase and boycott and intimidation tactics to force their views on America and you will be made to care. Politics is violence; it is not "helping;" it is not "peaceful protest." Liberals are not proposing and negotiating laws in Congress. They are using their cultural and political power as the ruling class to do a cram down. They are doing that because they know they don't have a chance of doing it the right way, with consultation and compromise and legislation.

There is, of course, a long-term cost to this sort of hegemonic culture, as I write here and here. It leads to a society where nobody trusts anyone.

And this brings us around to the place we started, an article by Rachel Lu about conservatives in academia. Was is possible for conservatives to get a job in academia? Answer: not never, but "hardly ever." As the song goes.

But should we do anything about it? Should universities be forced to appoint Vice-Provosts of Viewpoint Diversity? Should Hollywood be forced to hire conservative creatives as well as award Oscars to African Americans? Should the fashion industry diversify its workforce to include married Bible-believing Christians and their cranky ideas on female adornment? Should the news media diversify away from liberalism and create an inclusive newsroom culture where conservatives feel safe?

I don't think so.

If you are a conservative in America you know that you need to keep your head down, at work and at competitive social events. That's just the way it is, because of the hegemonic liberal culture, those nice people out there "helping" us deal with marginalization and racism, sexism, and homophobia. Would we like to teach liberals a lesson? Of course. But then we think to ourselves: No, that would be wrong.

Because you can have a wonderful life in America, even if you don't own the culture and possess the power to name and shame this week's Emmanuel Goldstein, even if you wake up one morning and find that liberals have decided that you are Emmanuel Goldstein this week.

The world is full of problems and injustice. But the question is always: is the only way to solve this problem to apply the sweet use of force?

Usually, the answer is no.

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