Let us look at where we are and where we are going shall we?
We all sense that the craziness ramps up each week. It is frightening, frustrating and entertaining all at once.
Recently I re-read The Fourth Turning and the sentence in that book that I had forgotten was how, forecasting into the future, Strauss and Howe predicted that our era would be dominated by old Boomers increasing the moral ante until there could be no retreat and no compromise. Viewed in that light the craziness makes perfect sense. Trump, Clinton, Sanders – we could go on and on – upping the moral ante is exactly what they do. The cultural formula has become a competition to assert moral supremacy with the implication that this moral supremacy that one has asserted entitles one to possess power over others due to their moral degeneracy.
Examples of this are endless. Just this last week Trump said something not just outrageous but factually incorrect. The Trump supporters defended his statement like Zhukov defended Stalingrad – we must no win no matter what the casualties. A moral crusade of such magnitude that our very existence is dependent on victory. Of course the next day Trump owned his mistake and said that he said the opposite of what he intended to say – hence the position the Trump supporters were so adamant about defending was not Trump’s position at all but the exact opposite of the position that Trump held.
When ever the Trump supporters take it to ten, the people that hate Trump insist on taking it to eleven and indeed they have. Not only are they proclaiming that Trump is committing treason – for doing exactly what Obama and Bush and Clinton and all Presidents all the way back to Washington also did – but that all of the people that voted for Trump are also traitors. Some are even posting memes calling for guillotines for Trump supporters.
Irrational does not even begin to describe it – but the goal is to assert you are more moral than the other fellow and being irrational about that is not a deterrent. People certainly do not suffer a penalty within their own group for being irrational. Typically irrationality is rewarded with social approval within the group. In fact, in this competition to assert superior morality embracing complete fiction is key to increasing your status and the more outrageous the fiction that you are willing to embrace and propagate the greater your social status.
We are at a point where people cannot say,”I am sorry, I was wrong” because that is, in the twisted competition, considered to be ceding moral ground and hence power. As James Kunstler said, “Sometime societies just collectively go insane.”
Let us look at another example – the concept of ‘White Privilege.’ I would be willing to wager that not one in a hundred of the people who make the argument for ‘White Privilege’ even understand what the concept actually is or why it exist or where it came from. Most people seem to assume it is the equivalent of racism when it is not, in fact it has nothing to do with racism if you care to use any standard definition of racism. That does not deter people from proclaiming ‘white privilege’ when ever the need to assert moral supremacy comes over them.
The concept of ‘white privilege’ come from Marxism, specifically a branch of Marxism called Critical Theory that is intended to deconstruct society. Notice the goal is to deconstruct society not to discover truth or anything like that. Critical Theory has the goal of deconstructing society because it wishes to reconstruct society on a Marxist model. The concept of ‘White Privilege’ is one in which Europeans make the rules. These rules referred to are cultural, legal, commercial, etc. Critical Theory is curiously weak on explaining why this came about and is wholly focused on the need to destroy it.
Let us talk about why that came about, shall we? Europeans were the first to figure out certain things. Things such as protection of private property and functional legal systems for doing so, banking systems and how to effectively store wealth not just over years but over generations, political systems for distinct sovereign entities to co-operate with each other, and how to organize on a large scale for long periods of time. Perhaps most importantly the Europeans figured out how to keep these organizations and activities functional when there were changes in leadership. In other words, they figured out how to expand beyond the personal fiefdom that had generally dominated the world.
Europeans didn’t figure this all out over a weekend with a twelve-pack; it took several thousand years and it was not a linear path. These systems that Europeans figured out allowed them to dominate the world. European domination of the world only receded as other societies adopted these same ideas. The reason for that is that these ideas are generally more efficient and effective than other concepts. These ideas scale.There are lessons in that.
There is no little humor in realizing that every time someone posts ‘white privilege’ on Facebook that they are merely echoing the failed ideas of a 19th century German who was not particularly fond of people of color and never worked a day in his life. That Marx, by the standard set out via Critical Theory, was himself the epitome of White Privilege is rather hilarious.
It is prime example of the need to assert moral supremacy eclipsing all truth, reason and rationality.
Equally as absurd is that, when Progressives proclaim some faux moral supremacy, so many people react by taking the position 180 degrees opposite of the Progressives and typically often as ridiculous. Remember the goal in upping the moral ante is not to be principled or seek truth it is to assert moral supremacy.
If Strauss and Howe are correct, and they certainly have been so far, we have another eight or ten years of this and we have not yet reached the crisis climax.
How will we know when we have reached the crisis climax? When a preponderance of people look around and say, “Oh crap, what were we thinking? This was a bad idea.”
Buckle up, we are not at peak absurdity yet.