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  • Important Reading

    Posted by David Foster on March 23rd, 2019 (All posts by )

    Sarah Hoyt:  The Totalitarian Train in Rolling Down the Tracks

    If I could communicate just one thing, across the increasing divide of language and thought to the left it would be this: that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you’re running someone down is not righteousness.  It’s just the feeling apes get when they run off another ape.

    If you’re part of a band and all of you were piling on an outsider — or an insider who was just declared an outsider and run off — you’ll also feel very connected to your band, and a feeling of being loved and belonging.  It’s not real. It’s the result of a “reward” rush of endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine that flood your body after stress and a perceived “victory.”  Oxytocin, particularly, promotes a feeling of bonding with those around you.

    Just remember, as you’re high fiving each other and believing that something that feels so good has to be good and morally “just” you could be the victim tomorrow.  Because the feelings don’t last, and that rush of “righteousness and victory” is addictive. Those who are your comrades today will be looking for someone to kick in the face tomorrow. And it really could be you.

    I’m reminded again of a passage in Goethe’s Faust. After finding that she is pregnant–which meant big trouble for a single woman in that time and place–Gretchen is talking with her awful friend Lieschen, who (still unaware of Gretchen’s situation) is licking her chops about the prospect of humiliating another girl (Barbara) who has also become pregnant outside of marriage. Here’s Gretchen, reflecting on her own past complicity in such viciousness:

    How readily I used to blame
    Some poor young soul that came to shame!
    Never found sharp enough words like pins
    To stick into other people’s sins
    Black as it seemed, I tarred it to boot
    And never black enough to suit
    Would cross myself, exclaim and preen–
    Now I myself am bared to sin!
    Yet all of it that drove me here
    God! ws so innocent, was so dear!

    Doesn’t this describe a lot of today’s SJW behavior and other political behavior?  “Never found sharp enough words like pins To stick in other people’s sins…Would cross myself, exclaim, and preen”

    Lots of exclaiming and preening going on these days..quite likely, even, in certain churches, some crossing of themselves by activists as part of the denunciation of the “others.”   The extent of the pleasure gained by many from group cruelty toward approved targets is pretty clear and is a major factor in today’s social and political toxicity.

     

    13 Responses to “Important Reading”

    1. Kirk Says:

      I don’t think that the social changes we’re seeing, which make me think of a bunch of teen-age girls in middle- and high-school, are unrelated to the increase in estrogen-mimics in the environment. Hormones are powerful influences on behavior, and the more society starts to look like an all-girl high school, the more I see a connection with all the crap we’re pumping into the environment. Is it any real surprise that sperm counts and testosterone are dropping across the developed world, or that more and more Western women are seeking “real men” from outside the West who aren’t suffering from this environmental degradation…?

      We started pumping tetraethyl lead into the environment back in the 1930s, and it took until the 1970s and 1980s until we recognized what the hell we were doing. I venture to predict that in the future, if there is one, we’re going to be looking back at the use of estrogen-mimic chemical compounds in the same way. Also, with the pumping of birth-control hormones into the environment; like as not, we’re eventually going to ban those, too, and mandate the capture of excreted therapeutic hormones and antibiotics before they get out into the general environment.

      Our descendants, if we have any, are going to think we’re utter, blithering idiots, the same way we look at the Romans for using all that lead in their plumbing and cooking…

    2. Doug Jones Says:

      The two-minutes hate is so cathartic and releases so many tensions. Little wonder that many become addicted to it.

    3. Ginny Says:

      Perceptive & depressing. Unfortunately, as the partisan divides have strengthened, this is not completely foreign to some of the feelings I have within a group that shares my more right-wing beliefs. I do think the content of the left’s retreat from reality makes it more necessary to minds spinning as fast as they can because what they feel is not supported by the facts of biology, climatology, economics. If these support you, it is easier to be alone.

    4. David Foster Says:

      Kirk…but there have been many historical examples of Other-bashing in the name of group solidarity…the witch trials, the medieval (and later) pogroms, the extreme anti-Semitism of the late Weimar era and the Nazi regime…and, as far as we know, none of these would have been influenced by hormones in the environment. (I *have* heard of some forms of mass insanity caused by toxins of some sort)

      It seems quite possible that the hormones in the environment today are having a behavioral impact…but it seems unlikely that this is the primary factor in what’s being discussed here.

    5. David Foster Says:

      Of course, this is what “progressives” often claim about Trump supporters…that they are mainly about attacking those that is different in some way…immigrants, gays, etc…because they are frustrated with their own lives and can’t deal with the pace of change. Some have even claimed to see a parallel between Trump rallies and the Nuremberg rallies.

    6. Mike K Says:

      I consider the Trump rallies to be more in the line of the old joke about Libertarians.

      They want power so they can leave you alone.

      I don’t see any signs of Trump followers beginning obsessed with power. They want to be left alone.

    7. Kirk Says:

      @David Foster,

      Actually, I think there is. The current zeitgeist is ‘effing nuts in a way I can’t find an exact historical parallel to, and what I think is making the difference stems from this hormonal onslaught.

      We’ve had periods of sexual confusion and degeneracy, before–But, usually confined to those classes that could afford such fecklessness. Today? Oh, holy ‘effing crap, are we seeing it spread out across the population. Look at a lot of the young “men”, and contemplate why they’re acting like the emotionally overwrought young women I remember having to put up with as I grew up. The supposed males are acting like the women, effeminate, emotional, and entirely useless in most traditional male roles. And, where you had a few of these confused creatures, you now have legions.

      I don’t think the rise in the estrogen-mimic chemicals in the environment is merely an accidental correlation. I look around at the society I’m in the middle of, and it’s like the teenage girls of my youth have taken over. Spend some time out there with the effeminate males of today’s younger age cohorts, and you’ll arrive at some disturbing conclusions when you compare their behavior to the historical standard.

    8. Brian Says:

      It seems extremely likely that dumping estrogen hormones into the environment over the last 50 years must be correlated to the sperm count decreases, etc.

      But another issue, and I don’t think there’s a causation, just a contemporaneous factor, is that starting in the 1990s the amount of time kids spent outside in physical play dropped precipitously. Recess was reduced and even eliminated, home computers became ubiquitous and kept kids inside, and hysterical and irrational fears led to parents refusing to let their kids out of their site.

      The youngest adults today have never not been watched, and don’t want to not be watched and protected. Or to be the watchers and protectors, i.e., to be American Red Guards.

    9. David Foster Says:

      I’ve previously cited the memoirs of Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars. He noted that when the economy and the society stabilized (during the Stresemann chancellorship)…

      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.

      …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.

      I think we have a lot of people in America today who are getting, maybe not the ENTIRE content of their lives delivered by their political involvement…but a very high % of it.

    10. Christopher B Says:

      David – I think your observation intersects with the recent claim by AOC and a Millennial writing for Time that their generation has never experienced prosperity, when the opposite is more likely true. I see a similar attitude in my own son who it seems to have expected a standard of living far above what his income can generate.

    11. James the lesser Says:

      Adding to what Christopher wrote: about 30 years ago I saw a terrifying bumper-sticker. “Prosperity is my birthright”

    12. Grurray Says:

      The historical parallel with the hormonal disfunction in our society could be eunuchs. Obviously not on the scale we’re seeing today, but they did sometimes have a role in court and palace intrigue. Their positions close to women especially allowed them to be partners in plots involving royal spouses and regents.

    13. David Foster Says:

      This is very long, haven’t read it yet, but looks relevant: Postmodern Religion and the Faith of Social Justice