John Corson's Blog

WRITING & RANTING
for February 11, 2021

WHAT WE'VE BECOME:
INTIMIDATED AND CANCELLED

I am sitting in my church office now. It is 11:30 am and I don't have anything else to do here. So, I guess I will pop off some steam before I leave  to see one of my members who has had some down time with surgeries and minor procedures over the last three weeks.

I never go  through a single day without something to moan over. Today, other than the rainy monsoon weather we have been having and will have for the next week, I think  I want to kvetch about how society today values loyalty more than expertise. In other words, why are well qualified people not given any consideration when it comes to employment, advancement, college admissions and the like; instead meeting a quota of racial diversity, gender diversity, international diversity, special interest diversity and loyalty are considered the primary basis for those things.

Hannah Arendt, who could speak to the evils of totalitarianism through her experience when Adolf Hitler took power in her native Germany. She was exiled to France in 1933, escaping what would have been a catastrophe for her and her Jewish family. In 1940, with the German invasion of France, she was interned in an internment camp, but escaped a few months later and was lucky enough to find asylum in New York. She had first hand knowledge as well as communication from Germany of the effects of the Nazi regime and was later able to compare Nazi totalitarianism with that of the Communists when they took over East Germany after World War II.

Arendt received degrees from the Universities of Berlin, Marburg, Freiburg and Heidelberg in Philosophy and Political Science, and upon settling in the United States she landed teaching positions with Notre Dame, University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University and Northwestern University. She wrote nearly twenty books, many of which centered on political ideologies with her magnum opus being The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951). Other works included The Human Condition (1958), On Revolution (1963) and Crisis of the Republic (1972) - all of which are considered authoritative in the field of Communism, Socialism, Nazism and Fascism.

I mention Arendt because I have been reading some of her works lately as it would appear that we are headed for totalitarianism here in the United States. Maybe it's a soft  totalitarianism, but totalitarianism enough. Arendt pointed out in The Origins of Totalitarianism that in every circumstance throughout history, when a soft totalitarianism evolves or is put into place, it ALWAYS WITHOUT EXCEPTION gives way to hard totalitarianism.  No matter the force of totalitarianism, Arendt says that it "in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intellect and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty." All politicians prize loyalty, but few would regard it as the most important quality in government, and even fewer would admit it. But President Donald Trump is a rule-breaker and he once said, "I value loyalty above everything else - more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy." Trump's exaltation of personal loyalty over expertise is discreditable and corrupting. But how can anyone on the Left complain? Loyalty to the group or the tribe is AT THE CORE of leftist identity politics. Loyalty to an ideology over expertise is not less disturbing that loyalty to a personality. This is at the root of "cancel culture," in which transgressors, however minor the infractions, find themselves cast into outer darkness.

Beyond cancel culture, which is reactive and emotive, institutions are embedding within their systems ideological tests to weed out dissenters. At universities with the University of California system teachers who want to apply for tenure-track positions have to affirm their commitment to "equity, diversity, and inclusion" - and to have demonstrated it, even if it has nothing to do with their field. Similar politically correct loyalty oaths are required at leading public and private schools.

De facto loyalty tests to diversity ideology are common in corporate America. As the investor of JavaScript, Brendan Eich was one of the most important early figures of the internet. but in 2014, he was forced out of leadership at Mozilla, the company HE founded, after employees objected to a small  donation he made to the 2008 campaign to stop gay marriage in California.

A doctor friend of mine told me that he never posts anything remotely controversial on social media, because he knows that the human resources department at his hospital monitors employee accounts for evidence of disloyalty to the progressive "diversity and inclusion" creed.

This same doctor disclosed that social justice ideology is forcing physicians like him to ignore their medical training and judgment when it comes to transgender health. He said it is not permissible within his institution to advise gender-dysphoric patients against treatments they desire, even when a physicians believes it is not in that particular patient's health interest!

In our populist era, politicians and talk-radio hosts can rile up a crowd by denouncing elites. Nevertheless, in most societies, intellectual and cultural elites determine its long-term direction. The key actor in history is not individual genius but rather the network and the new institutions that are created out of those networks. Though a revolutionary idea might emerge from the masses it does not gain traction until it is embraced and propagated by elites working through their well-developed networks and powerful institutions.

After reading Arendt, I now know why this is critically important to keep an eye on intellectual discourse. Those who do not will leave the gates unguarded. Arendt quotes one Polish dissident and émigré who said "It was only toward the middle of the [twentieth] century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy.

Arendt warns that the twentieth-century totalitarian experience shows how a determined and skillful minority can come to rule over an indifferent and disengaged majority. In out time, most people regard the politically correct insanity of campus radicals as not worthy of attention. They mock them as "snowflakes" and "social justice warriors."  I know I have done that.

But now, I think this is a serious mistake. In radicalizing the broader class of elites, social justice warriors (SJWs) are playing a similar historic role to the Bolsheviks of prerevolutionary Russia. SJW ranks are full of middle-class, secular, educated young people wracked by guilt and anxiety over their own "privilege," alienated from their own traditions, and desperate to identify with something, or someone, to give them a sense of wholeness and purpose. For them, the ideology of social justice - as defined not by church teaching but by critical theorists in the academy - functions as a pseudo religion. Far from being confined to campuses and dry intellectual journals, SJW ideals are transforming elite institutions and networks of power and influence.

The social justice cultists of our day are pale imitations of Vladimir Lenin and his fiery disciples. Aside from the ruthless Antifa faction, they restrict their violence to words and bullying within bourgeois institutional contexts. They prefer to push around college administrators, professors, and white=collar professionals. Unlike the Bolsheviks, who were hardened revolutionaries, SJWs get their way not by shedding blood but my shedding tears. They emote not with guns but with feelings.

There are clear parallels. Like the early Bolsheviks, SJWs are radically alienated from society. They too believe that justice depends on group identity, and that achieving justice means taking power away from the exploiters and handing it to the exploited. Call it "redistribution" of power.

Social justice cultists, like the Bolsheviks, are intellectuals whose gospel is spread by intellectual agitation. It is a gospel that depends on awakening and inspiring hatred in the hears of those it wishes to induce into revolutionary consciousness. This is why it matters immensely that they have established their base within universities, where they can indoctrinate in spiteful ideology those who will be going out to work in society's institutions.

As Russia's Marxist revolutionaries did, our own SJWs believe that science is on their side, even when their claims are unscientific. For example, transgender activists insist that their radical beliefs are scientifically sound; scientists and physicians who disagree are driven out of their institutions and intimidated into silence. Just ask one so intimidated by transgender activists if a man can give birth or have menstrual periods. Don't be surprised if they look around for listening ears and say: "Yes, men can and do!"

Social justice cultists are utopians who believe that the ideal of Progress requires smashing all the old forms for the sake of liberating humanity. Unlike their Bolshevik predecessors, they don't want to seize the means of economic production but rather the means of CULTURAL production. They believe that after humanity is freed from the chains that bind us - whiteness, patriarchy, marriage, the gender binary, and so on - we will experience a radically new and improved form of life.

Finally, unlike the Bolsheviks, who wanted to destroy and replace the institutions of Russian society, our social justice warriors adopt a later Marxist strategy for bringing about social change. That is, "marching through the institutions" of society, conquering them, and using them to transform the world. For example, when the LGBT cause was adopted by corporate America as part of its branding strategy, its ultimate victory was assured.

This is why I call the SJW a "Gramsci Communist" or more simply "A Cultural Marxist." They believe, and are proving quite capably, that you can create more misery for the non-compliant by intimidating and "cancelling" them, than by shooting them. They get to see your misery and dance with triumphant glee. Dancing over your grace is less fun.

Social justice warriors and the theorists of their cause are not "normal" people who live by common sense. In fact, common sense alludes them. Fanatical belief in Progress is a driving force behind their febrile utopianism. The ideology of progress (Progressivism) explains their confident zealotry. It explains why they refuse to debate, to deal with facts, to reject primary sources and to rewrite historical accounts. It also explains why so many ordinary people who aren't especially enraged by politics find it hard to say no to SJW demands.

You can't reason with social justice warriors. They are the minions of the elite Left. They have no understanding of facts and they certainly do not believe in absolute truth. To them, truth changes day to day, like we change our socks and underwear. Their truth cannot be nailed down. Every try to nail Jell-O to a wall? It can't be done. Neither can reasoning with the LEFT. You get better results arguing with a tree.

Now I have blown off steam and this time in a more nuanced and well thought out way. I saw the need to do it this way since I am a Conservative. And as I have said on so many occasions: "Conservatives Think - the Left Feels."

Blog for February 10 Blog for February 12

Blogging

Blogs are about the blogger. It's as if he or she merely toots their own horns about the things they do, say and love.

My life is boring. I read, I watch Glenn Beck and Mark Levin. I listen to Andrew Wilkow. I engage in some conversation with those who are willing to listen (they being masochistic and enjoy killing themselves with my banter).

I plan on just laying out the things that bother me and the things I love. Nothing in-between. I hope you find whatever I put here amusing.