Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Imagine a World without Empowering Delusional Twits

Some years ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article describing the hotbed of anarchist empowerment that is my former stomping grounds of Eugene, Oregon. One of the flyers they reproduced had a drawing of Winnie the Pooh by a bucolic pond playing with a butterfly with a title something like, "Imagine a World without Corporate Greed" or some such. The idea being that once we embrace anarchy as a collectivist expression of our individual capabilities we will live in a wonderland like Christopher Robin. Probably the Journal chose the absolutely most delusional anarchist flyer they could find to drive the point home; but let's be honest, they had a lot to choose from. There is a lot of idiotic thinking on the left that in the September 12th world we live in needs to be corrected.

Michael Totten is writing that the Left needs to get hammered by history for a while to knock off some of the useless detritus and pound the worthwhile remainder into some kind of shape. I agree with the principle, but think he is utterly wrong on the method, since he thinks this will happen during a Kerry presidency. Michael has been to the Sahara this year, so he knows what a desert is. In most major religions, you go to the desert to atone for your sins of excess and come back with the strength to make things right.* The desert scours your soul and makes you stronger.

Washington, D.C. is a swamp, not a desert. Being in control of the largest aggregate of money in the world, the U.S. government's budget, is no way to atone for your sins of excess. With all those billions flying around, it's pretty near impossible to recognize a sin of excess if it is hitting you in the face really hard. With all the grant money and government contracts to direct, and all those new friends telling you how wonderful you are, your soul is never going to get scoured.

The central failure of Michael's theory is that there is no incentive for a winning team to change. The only way to get desert tough, desert pure, is to go to the desert and that NEVER happens willingly. Nobody gives up their position on the Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy to go clarify their reality and come back with a stronger philosophical ideal. They stay at their jobs, pay off their houses, hire their friends, direct grants to their alma maters, and change in the direction of securing their position.

Michael wants his friends to change to a rational and aware position on the basis of logical thought and awareness of the real dangers of the world we face. This month at a party at Michael's house, one of his friends tried to explain to me that it was logical and reasonable to believe that the forged documents used by CBS were somehow an administration plant intended to damage the Kerry campaign through a series of articulations too bizarre to repeat here. Michael, your friends need to go to the desert to change, and they will not do so on their own like you did. That moment has left us. There is no way that you believe that Kerry is strong enough lead anybody out of the desert, and the only way he is going to lead anybody into the desert is if he loses badly in three weeks and his supporters are driven there.

The way the idiots with the Pooh flyer start imagining a world that actually exists and stop being useless twits is to be confronted with reality. Giving those people executive positions at Disneyland is not a good way to start.

*Communism is a major world religion that does not have this tradition. In Communist tradition, you get taken out back and shot or they chase you to Mexico City and bash in your head with an ice axe. The absolute lack of significant doctrinal progress in Communism is not quite as hard to explain as some would have you think.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link, Michael. I still think you are too attached to your friends or good manners to appreciate that the Left is going into the desert if they win this election or not. I honestly think that the Left has some chance of recovering relevance sooner if they lose this fight than if they win. A lot of that is because Bush is such a liberal Republican that to have any ground to stand on that isn't within reach of Bush's appeal, you have to go out to the very fringe.

The only traction the Pro-Choice folks are able to get is by fear-mongering about his potential judicial appointments. If they had something concrete to nail Bush on, they certainly would use it. The simple fact is that directly attacking the middle doesn't sell tickets, and that is the position Bush is occupying. The Left needs a candidate who occupies the middle better than Bush, and right now all they come up with is a candidate to tries to be everywhere.
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