The Hypocritical Civility of Power

Why is the left hypocritically pushing so hard for “civility” in our political discourse? Why did they try to use the Tuscon shootings to suppress the passionate expression of non-leftists?

I think the answer is simple: Passionate, sometimes even inflammatory, expression is the tool of the revolutionary not the establishment and today, leftists are the establishment.

Those firmly established within the halls of power speak with calm gravitas because they have no need to stir people into action. Indeed, they wish the opposite, they want the people to slip into apathy so that those in power can govern as they wish. They do not have to motivate supporters with the hope of future benefits. Using the power of the state, they can provide their supporters with immediate real benefits.

Those outside the halls of power need to stir people into action. They need people to rise out apathy and work hard for a change in power. Those outside the halls of power cannot immediately reward their supporters. They can only offer the hope of future benefits. They offer hope by using passionate rhetoric to paint an emotive vision of a better world. Passionate expression is the primary tool for those seeking to upset the establishment.

Forty years ago, the left were the outsiders seeking to impose a collectivist vision on America. Back then, the left supported all free speech no matter how extreme. They succeeded all too well and the leftist leaders of today were the vitriolic outsiders of the ’70s. Now that they are the establishment, they want everything cool and calm. They want the people passive.

Right now, the Tea Party represents the uprising of the long-marginalized American middle class against the leftist establishment. The Tea Party uses the most impassioned expression today because they are the political outsiders. The Tea Party has to phrase its political discourse in intense and passionate terms because they must motivate the people to rise from apathy and take action.

Don’t fall for the left’s hypocritical and opportunistic sudden discovery for the need for civil discourse. We live today in a looking-glass world in which those who call themselves “progressives” fight for the past and established policies while those who call themselves “conservatives” fight for the future and innovation.

If you are fighting for the future, be unashamedly passionate.

14 thoughts on “The Hypocritical Civility of Power”

  1. “Passionate, sometimes even inflammatory, expression is the tool of the revolutionary not the establishment and today, leftists are the establishment.”

    None-the-less, the left uses a lot of passionate, inflammatory expression.

  2. Michael
    The Tea party cares not only for this country, but also for the individual liberties of all whereas, the Democrats and the Left loves control, and power and the subjugation of the the individual’s ability to think for themselves. Why do you think they are the masters of projection and doublespeak?

  3. I think that you’ve nicely illustrated the core of the problem. The way I frame the dynamic is that the party in power does and the party out of power speaks. If the Left wants more civil dialog then they should stop doing things which incite the people who are speaking. Action and reaction are intimately linked here.

  4. Ask yourself what Saul Alinsky, or any serious community organizer, would say to demands for “civility.”. A guy named Shel Trapp, from Chicago, wrote a book about organizing and protesting. It is devoted throughout to making people stop being civil, stop being deferential to power, and making demands and acting in defiance of expectations of “civility.”. A very bracing book.

  5. Michael K…

    Certainly, many leftists are either government employees or members of what I call the “extended government” (lobbyists, many types of lawyers, executives of pseudo-governmental-pseudo-private organizations such as Fannie and Freddie, etc) and their support for leftist positions is, consciously or unconsciously, economically motivated. But I think there are also millions of people who do not fall into these categories and who get much of the EMOTIONAL satisfaction in their lives from the theater of leftist politics. I’m reminded of some things Sebastian Haffner said in his memoir about life in Germany between the wars. When, shortly after WWI, the political situation (temporarily) calmed down, he observed that:

    “Many of us sought new interests: stamp-collecting, for example, piano-playing, or the theatre. Only a few remained true to politics, and it struck me for the first time that, strangely enough, those were the more stupid, coarse and unpleasant among my schoolfellows.”

    …and, later, after the great inflation had come and finally been suppressed via currency reforms:

    “The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.”

    But…a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:

    “A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.”


    “To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.”

  6. Passionate, sometimes even inflammatory, expression is the tool of the revolutionary not the establishment and today, leftists are the establishment.

    So why is the left intensely more inflammatory than the right? Is it because they won’t accept the notion that they’re the establishment until they have 100% control over all institutions?

  7. Shel Trapp, The Dynamics of Organizing.

    Very much worth reading.

    Anyway, these demands for civility are simply Alinsky’s Rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

    Don’t fall for it.

    Respond by recalling Alinsky’s Rule 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”

    Sarah Palin’s speech to the GOP convention ridiculed Obama. It worked precisely as Alinsky would have predicted. They are still reacting to it.

  8. Grown ups don’t send out e-mails praying for a Governor’s death. The right – at least today – has a sense of humor and a sense of irony that comes from self-knowledge. I hope that can be put in use. Parodies of the “ironic” rally were funny – but they also revealed the vacuous nature of such cries for “civility.” And how close the spittle-types on the left are to nihilism.

  9. Historically, Thomas Paine was an important figure in getting the Revolution moving. “Common Sense” and other writings of his were clearly inflammatory, angry, and revolutionary.

    Yet, come time for writing a constitution and organizing an effective government, he was not invited.

    “To everything there is a season….” and now is the time for action, once again.

    The establishment’s call for “civility” is indeed another way to say “Shut up.”

  10. Alan K. Henderson,

    So why is the left intensely more inflammatory than the right? Is it because they won’t accept the notion that they’re the establishment until they have 100% control over all institutions?

    I left’s currents call for civility right is clearly a ploy to suppress speech critical of leftists currently in power. They also have this mythology of themselves that they always represent the revolutionary outsider.

    However, I think the main reason is that leftists are simply utterly unself-aware of their routine viciousness. Their narcissistic belief in their own moral and intellectual rectitude is so extreme that they actually believe they are always the calm voice of reason.

    For example, back in 2008 I stumbled across a Huffpo post describing a “protest” outside Joe Lieberman’s private home. The post was written by an organizer of the protest so the post describes her own perceptions of the event. First, the protestors show up unannounced outside the house holding signs that displaying “We Know Where You Live” accompanied by chants of the same. There are few more explicit than “we know where you live.” That was aggressive and disturbing but the real the weird part came when the author of the post described how the leaders of the protest then went to front door of the house to present a freaking homemade cake to the Lieberman’s assistant who answered the door. The author reacted with surprise and outrage at the refusal of the cake and argued that the refusal just showed what a bad person Lieberman was. The comments to the post likewise mostly said that Lieberman was wrong to refuse the cake.

    So, the basic scenario was, “We know where you live, here have a piece of cake. What? You don’t want the cake. You jerk! We were just trying to be nice! This just prove it’s a good thing we know where you live!””

    Just imagine how unself-aware those leftists must be that you make a pre-planned (by the signs) threat and then be offended when the object of the threat refuses to a gift of conceivably poisoned food! Not even the mob would demand that.

    Those leftist were completely unable to cognitively connect their threat with the refusal of the cake by the target of the threat. They could only see themselves through their own rose colored glasses through which their actions are always good. In fact, much of “extreme” expression that so disturbs them is nothing more some non-leftists pointing out that the leftists are not as moral and intelligent as they think they are.

  11. I’m a grandfather of 16 and I for one have been part of that silent majority most of my life. For the rest of my life I choose to NOT to be quite. Does that mean that will not be civil , of course not . But I, at times, choose to be as loud as my 6’7″ frame will allow . I choose to push the left back at every chance I get to give my grandkids the same chances of freedom that I have received. Thanks you for this site for us to get our points across.

  12. “Sarah Palin’s speech to the GOP convention ridiculed Obama. It worked precisely as Alinsky would have predicted. They are still reacting to it.”

    I think this is absolutely the main reason Palin is hated so much. She was the first major political figure to drop any race-based deference to Obama, saying in so many words, “Oh, c’mon, look at this popinjay!”

    The reaction to that speech in the audience, at least from my perspective, was kind of a shocked hilarity: the whole “oh, no, she didn’t!”

    The Left hasn’t forgiven her since.

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