(Minor addendum: reread this, and want to be clear – in a state worthy of the name, citizens don’t get to use the sword except in self-defence. St. Louis’ comment is made as a king, not as a subject/citizen. We are to appeal to the proper secular authorities in cases – apart from self-defence/defence of others – where violence may be called for. This essay is not a call for violence. Just FYI.)
“Reason with them, or run them through with the sword.”
This phrase is attributed to St. Louis of France, as his response to the question “How does one deal with heretics (or barbarians, depending on source)?” Whether you sagely nod or recoil in horror says a lot about your world view, here meaning your grip on reality. For a polite rephrasing of the underlying challenge here would be: argue if you can, because, once the arguing stops, all that is left is violence.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the same people who attempt to end all arguments – about what constitutes marriage, human life, proper individual rights, or even if people are DESTROYING THE PLANET – simultaneously seek, and often succeed, in commandeering the state’s power to use violence to further their cause. This attempt to use state violence, which is expressed in the state’s unique legal power to restrict your rights, seize your stuff and even take your life, is merely the next obvious and inevitable step after excusing all other violence in support of the cause. If shouting down or forbidding free speech, fining businesses into bankruptcy, creating new taxes on your opponents, dragging your opponents into court merely to bankrupt them with court costs, rioting, looting and murder don’t bring about the righteous enlightenment of the masses, then the state should lock them away, take all their stuff, ‘educate’ their children without their consent, and so on.
It should be obvious upon a moment’s reflection that the modern age is almost completely uninterested in rational discussion. The exceptions are, with unfortunately decreasing regularity, science and, because of the very real possibility that the Real World will have the last word, business and other routine human activities, such as building a house or a computer. Outside those things where reality holds a clear and more or less immediate veto, modern people will not use their minds if they can possible help it.
This aversion to reason is not, as one might presume, a result purely of fallen human nature. No, while the mind is found in an unfortunately weakened state in all of us, millennia of experience has proven that, with proper exercise, the mind can become, if not completely healed, at least robust enough for many valuable uses. We even, to a greater or lesser extent, are born curious, eager for exactly the exercises that would make our minds stronger. As with all natural traits, a healthy environment – in this case, life among knowledgeable, wise and curious adults – is all that is needed for natural development of reason as a way to satisfy valid curiosity.
No, in the modern world, the fruits of the darkening of the intellect are carefully cultivated through 12 or more years of schooling, during which being ‘nice’ (however defined) and regurgitating the ‘correct’ answers to the allowed questions is the ticket to gold stars in this life, and a good job in the next. That next life is increasing a government-funded job, since all that training tends to produce ‘product’ incapable of anything better. Or welfare of a more direct sort – what matters is that we have learned not to trouble our little heads with mattera our betters will be deciding for us in any event.
We are expected and trained to join a Tribe of Nodding Agreement. The only recognized and punishable sin is failure to recognize the authority of the Tribe. What the Tribe wants is the power, all power, needed to enforce its will against all, people within or outside the Tribe, who dare disagree. This is what the current cultural battle is all about, whether it takes the form of getting a judge to overturn the ‘incorrect’ votes of the people, shouting down or banning from campus any speaker who says anything against the Tribe, rioting against those who point out the errors in the Tribe’s claims, creating ‘safe spaces’ where the unreasonable can be safe from argument, driving those who fail to comply out of business, and, finally, getting political power to enact as law their positions, so that the battle can be waged through the police powers of the state itself.(1)
It is some comfort to know that, insofar as the Tribe wins, its members will commence to eat each other. Once the battle against The (Straw) Man is won, then the various people inside the Tribe start to notice that their interests are actually often mutually exclusive, sharing only that the reviled enemy disapproves of them. Thus feminists start to notice that gay men are very often the worst misogynists and don’t often hide it all that well; blacks start to see that they are dragged into sexual politics with only a tenuous and dubious relationship to their goals, and, ultimately, the Marxists trying to drive this train recognize that not all, maybe not even most, of the passengers are all that wedded to Marxism.
Of course, Marxists have a well established scruples-free practice of simply purging the useful idiots once they are no longer useful. This includes both those who were never really Marxists to begin with – although, given the thinking-free environment carefully fostered, they can probably be cowed into line as often as not – but most especially, those whose flavor of or take on Marxism differs from those who hold power at the moment. The only real difference seems to be that Kulaks in their millions are dispatched with relative dispassion, while Trotsky gets soundly denounced before getting an ice pick in the head.
But for the sane, it has come to this: no more hiding, no more reasoning at least until our efforts are reciprocated (it takes two to argue, after all). Instead, we must disagree, out loud, to their faces, and never give an inch. We can do it now, when all we face is spittle and fists, or wait to do it when the Tribe has legally empowered firing squads.
It is not going to get any better on its own. There will not be a better time than now. While the collapse of the Tribe is inevitable (lies cannot stand forever) there’s no guarantee it will be a collapse into, say, the chaos of Trump rather than a 1,000 years of tyranny.
Sorry to get so dark. St. Louis of France – Pray for us!
- William Briggs points out the error in thinking we can argue our way out of this here.