Status and Schoolyard 101

I’ve been meaning to revisit what I call Schoolyard 101–the principle that sometimes you do have to fight fire with fire–for a while now. Recent discussions and articles I’ve read brought this point to mind and launch this train of thought in my mind.

The discussion that provided this impetus was the idea that much of the polarization, intransigence, and complete screaming illogic we see when people cling to certain insane and contradictory positions is the result of seeking status.

It’s a simple concept, but it makes sense. You see, some people only hold certain opinions because they believe people they perceive as high-status will approve of them.

If you can’t see how this is a problem, I can’t help you.

For those obsessed with playing the status game, having the “correct” opinion provides the intellectual shorthand for actually thinking about said position.

Facts, debates, and civility are useless against folks like this (or you or me, if we also fall into this trap). What to do if you’re attacked by one of them?

Schoolyard 101: You must retaliate in kind.

Continue reading “Status and Schoolyard 101”

No Nice Things

Boycotts and coffee and anger oh my!

For starters, let me say that (1) I fully support boycotts, because people can do whatever the hell they want, (2) it’s nigh impossible to make “voting with your dollar” have any impact if there aren’t enough dollars involved, and (3) your pious market-worshipping friend who can’t stop pleasuring him- or herself to Kirk’s ten principles can cram their bowtie up their rear end as they whine about “stooping to their tactics.”

Don’t you get it? Croaking “muh principles!” as your side–whatever your side may be–continuously loses while you righteously complain is worse than useless.

People who hate you and everything you stand for tend not to respond to self-satisfied virtue, no matter how forcefully asserted. In fact, your principles make them dig in even further. People respond best to pain. And I’m a civilized society, economic pain is far more preferable to physical pain.

This is why we “can’t have nice things,” as the cliche goes. This is also why I am a full proponent of retaliating in kind. Every single side in this sick, sad country will not learn until we’re all poorer, more unhappy, and less-willing to share what we think.

Yes, this means things will get worse before they get better. Boo hoo. The world is not a perfect place. Deal with it.

Continue reading “No Nice Things”

Bright Lines

In the law, there’s a concept called a bright line rule. These are those mythical legal answers where there is a definite write and wrong answer: If X happens, than legally Y must be the consequence.

I say “mythical,” because the law, as we know, tries to codify all of the wonderful occurrences that could happen in this thing we call life.

Don’t laugh, but legal language struggles mightily to be as precise as humanly possible, attempting to cover all of the bases and possible contingencies so as to avoid confusion, not create it.

Okay, seriously, you can stop laughing now.

But think about it: Killing another person is bad. That’s a bright line, sure. But in order to determine if the punishment fits the crime, we need to know:

  1. Was this a premeditated killing?
  2. If so, what was the mental state of the accused?
  3. Was it an accidental killing?
  4. If so, was it a crime of passion or negligence?
  5. If it was a crime of passion, what was the situation leading to the killing? (e.g., Self-defense? Finding one’s child or spouse being sexually assaulted?)
  6. If it was a crime of negligence, what were the facts of the situation? Were all parties contributing to the negligence, or just one?

And so on. There’s a balancing test here to determine the severity of the punishment.

The bright line has already been violated. Now we’re looking at the degree of the violation in light of all available evidence. It’s . . . a messy process.

Mind you, this is with an “easy” case like killing another human being. You can see why bright lines in the law are relatively elusive, though not for lack of trying. What laws attempt to do is provide enough flexibility to account for rare or unforeseen situations.

So what does this have to do with life in general?

Because in life, bright line rules seem to be the way to go . . . and with a similar level of flexibility allowing one to balance the factors in the appropriate situations.

This sounds messy, doesn’t it? But life is messy. Things might go according to plan 90 percent of the time, but there’s always that 10 percent where things go crazy.

Being the most rigid, holier than thou guy around might make you feel good, but the building will still be burning down around you. Continue reading “Bright Lines”

The Dangers of Staying “Above It All”

Is there an “artistic temperament”? Do people of only certain political stripes go into the arts more than others?

Both Brian Niemeier and Rawle Nyanzi have discussed these recently, with Brian focusing more on the traditional Right’s refusal to fight as the Left fights, with Rawle concerned more with why conservatives don’t go into the arts despite lamenting that they have no influence in the arts.

Rawle believes that the temperament is informed by politics:

Art is not immediately useful; it neither grows your food nor supplies your energy. Except for a handful of megastars, art is low-paid. Most artists rely on either a job or on other people to support them in their endeavors; “don’t quit your day job” is a cliche for a reason, as is “starving artist.” It requires the mind to break with conventional modes of thinking and spend much time speculating on bizarre possibilities. Art requires one to focus on emotion.

This is as far from the conservative mindset as one can get.

Brian, for his part, is quite harsh in his assessment of conservatives’ unwillingness to fight:

. . .conservatives are cowards. They talk a good game about standing on principle, but the inescapable conclusion is that they don’t really believe what they’re saying. People who truly believe in and are informed by principles act on them.

I’m inclined to agree with Brian, but this refers especially to a certain type of conservative. The kind that’s probably a midwit at best but wants everybody to think they’re smart, so they parrot what the culture at large tells them is the right thing to think–a culture that is against everything they purport to stand for, mind–while offering some nominal opposition.

This is yet another reason why the “conservative/liberal” dichotomy is inaccurate and outdated, and the real distinction is globalist/nationalist. Great men and women of the past who’d be considered on the Right today fully understood the importance of emotion and rhetoric. Modern “conservatism” feels artificial and soulless in a lot of respects.

But let’s stick with the terms that we have.

Does this all mean that conservatives are at, as Rawle puts it, a psychological disadvantage when it comes to the arts?

I say no. Continue reading “The Dangers of Staying “Above It All””