Friday, August 17, 2012

The Wages of Hate

When you are the ruling class, you get a special benefit.  You get to call the other guys nasty names, and there is not much they can do about it.

The Brits used to say, well, but we brought the rule of law to India.  Quite so, old chap.  But the Brits also conquered India and used its wealth to help fight the Napoleonic Wars.  They were such outrageous looters that Edmund Burke spent ten years trying to impeach and convict the Governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings.

The British Empire is history.  Now we have new ruling classes, and they get to put their narrative gloss on their rise to power.  For liberals, history is a progression: from helping the workers to helping African Americans to helping women to helping gays.

One of the ways you acquire the power to do all that is by demonizing the opposition.  We are the good guys that care for workers, blacks, women, gays, you say, and they are the bad guys, defending sweat-shops, Jim Crow, the patriarchy, and hate.

So, in the last couple of decades, liberals have liberally used the rhetorical device of "hate" to demonize their opponents.  If you disagree with liberals you are "divisive" and a "hater."  If you voice your disagreement, you are committing "hate speech."  And woe betide anyone that makes a liberal feel "uncomfortable."

The truth is that all politics is a contest of divisiveness.  The whole point of an election is to divide the electorate in two, with 51 percent or more on your side.  The whole point of a political movement is to mobilize people on the side of the angels, to march them to a better tomorrow.  Needless to say, anyone that resists our march to a better tomorrow is the enemy: misguided at best, evil incarnate at worst.

Our liberal friends have had the better of the name-calling business for most of the last century.  You can tell this by the moments when they were on the defensive: the Red hunting after the Bolshevik Revolution and the Sacco-Vanzetti trial; the McCarthy era; the accusations of un-patriotism during Vietnam; Bush's Patriot Act.  Whenever the liberals have been on the political defensive they have reacted as though the world was coming to an end, they have furiously objected to their marginalization, and made an event of it.

But if you are an ordinary American, you had better be careful what you say not just occasionally but all the time, especially in college and on the job.  You could easily be accused of racism or sexism, and you could lose your job or get expelled from school.

Here is how to define political power: it's the ability to define what other people are allowed to say.  Most of the time, in our time, it is liberals that get to do that.

But, of course, every ruling class eventually provokes a head of rebellion.  That goes with the nature of political power, which is to use government force to distribute money and privileges to your supporters.  People get fed up with the lies and the self-dealing and the injustice that goes with government power.  And so one day the ruling class wakes up and finds that is unpopular.

Could that be happening in 2012?  Who knows?  But one thing about the Internet and blogs and youTube.  It makes it possible for the opposition to spread the word under the radar and make fun of the ruling class.  An example is President Obama's "You didn't build that" comment.  The comment has gone viral and seems to have insulted every small businessman in the land.

Liberals have had a good run defining themselves as the good guys, defining near riots as peaceful protests, and intimidation as peaceful picketing.  And they have succeeded in defining every dissent from their orthodoxy as dangerous breaches of the peace.  Imagine if, e.g., Tea Party activists had occupied the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2011.

But eventually the rules of the game change, and the confident ruling class finds that its power is challenged.  Robespierre, the diligent price-controller, finds himself in the tumbril cart on the way to the guillotine to shouts of "Dirty Maximum!"

A new ruling class comes to power.  Among other things, they get to define the word "hate."

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