Feb 212010

I’m feeling bitchy today regarding the following subjects. Feel free to have a go at me in the comments if you like, as this will soothe and satisfy the argument-demon that’s taken up residence in my psyche.

Today’s Pet Peeves

1. People who ‘don’t get’ the left wing.*

Seriously, not getting something and not agreeing with something are not the same thing. Occasionally a left-wing proposition I’ve not yet been exposed to knocks me upside the head and my disbelief splutters out – but even a few minutes’ careful thought makes me ‘get’ it.

And even when individual propositions may be confusing, one should always keep in mind the fall-back position, that to be left-wing is easy. The left wing is the fashionable, the powerful, the self-styled intellectual faction of our modern West. It self-represents as the pinnacle of both reason (‘we are right’) and emotion (‘we are good’). It self-represents as the melding of the ideal and the utilitarian, working on the best possible principles to achieve the best possible outcomes. Not to be left-wing is to choose deliberately an uphill battle against a force which claims a monopoly on both morality and praxis. Not to be left-wing is what most people ‘don’t get’, as I’ve been told on a number of occasions.

Nothing the left wing does need be supported by any universally-accepted logic for, like America, because it claims to be good, even its seemingly illogical behaviour must also be good, because nothing that comes from good can be evil or wrong. (This is, it should be noted, a complete inversion of the once widely-accepted proverb ‘By their fruits you shall know them.’ Instead, we shall now know them by their roots, and if the roots are sufficiently good, the quality of the fruits is incidental and not really worth investigating.)

To expound a left-wing proposition is to align oneself with the prevailing majority conceptions of both power and right. There are many left-wing propositions that have value, of course, and one must recognise those if one believes in either truth or justice. But even left-wing propositions that appear to have no intrinsic or objective value whatsoever can be ‘got’ when advocated by some individual, for the reasons mentioned above.

In short, one should begin by investigating the logic, for this is only fair; if no logic is to be found, the fact that being left-wing is easy and makes you look good should be the motivation ascribed to those doing the proposing. Adopting left-wing attitudes is an adaptive behaviour, because nobody who wants to get anywhere gets anywhere these days if they fail (or worse, refuse) to adapt in this way. Is simples.

2. People who announce their departure and reappearance in internet forums.

‘Hey, guys, things in RL are getting really hectic. Don’t expect to see me for a while.’

‘Hey, guys, I’ve sorted out RL and I’m ready to jump back in. What’d I miss? Oh, and a shout-out to X, Y, and Z – thanks for thinking of me while I was gone!’

Why do people do this? Common courtesy, I suppose, the way you might excuse yourself from the dinner table to visit the toilets. However, much of the time this behaviour strikes me as some kind of self-imposed exile/martyrdom, of the view that to absent oneself totally is preferable to reducing one’s participation to a few remarks here and there when the time for it can be spared. Or, maybe, it belongs to the school of thought that says one must slice the trivial out of one’s life in order to focus on the nontrivial. Which seems rather bizarre to me, because to focus with such intensity on the nontrivial would appear to invite more stress than taking the occasional break to waste time on the series of tubes.

3. People who ‘don’t get’ the right wing.*

Frequently, I hear right-wing beliefs or attitudes ascribed to one or more of the following personal flaws:

(a) being ill-informed or uninformed
(b) stupidity
(c) suggestibility
(d) callousness

If I’m going to pay the left the courtesy of listening to its propositions and trying to understand their underlying premises, I think I (being, after all, frequently labelled ‘right-wing’) may with some justice expect the same courtesy. I am perfectly willing to admit to being uninformed (but rarely ill-informed), but I am not particularly stupid or suggestible or callous.

As I have mentioned in other posts, quite often the apparent paradox of the intelligent, decent, sensible right-winger makes people’s heads asplode. Enough already; stop looking for the source of our ‘delusion’ in our parents’ politics or corporate sponsors. At least allow us the initial assumption that we came to our beliefs through reasoned analysis. While this may not always prove true, at least it’s a respectful place to start.

4. Blogs without search functions.

Argh. ‘Nuff said.

5. People who dislike immigrants on grounds of ‘preserving culture.’

The intense dislike some individuals exhibit regarding unchecked immigration into their space is not particularly difficult to understand when expressed in economic terms. Increases in the supply of labour drive down wages, whether these newcomers are skilled or low-skilled or unskilled, and of course if one happens to live in a generous welfare state, an influx of people who receive the state’s bounty but do not greatly contribute to the coffers will chap the hide of the long-suffering taxpayer.

But leaving aside the economic implications of immigration, there is also a strand of anti-immigrant feeling that revolves around preserving the indigenous culture from the influence of, if not exactly ‘weirdos’, then people whose culture is demonstrably or perhaps worryingly different.

But culture is neither static nor necessarily good. Without wishing to be relativist, I think I can safely assert that the culture of a particular people or place is neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but simply is, as a result of various events and trends that have taken place over time amongst that people or in that place. It seems a futile desire to wish to ‘preserve’ that which is always changing (even in the absence of weirdo immigrants), largely as a result of the evolving values and desires of the so-called indigenous people.

For example, let us consider Britain. If one listens to ‘reactionaries’ like Peter Hitchens, British culture has become less stoic, more saccarchine; less entrepreneurial, more dependent; less law-abiding, more criminal, since the death of dear Churchill. Is this the result of immigrants? Or the result of changing attitudes amongst the British themselves? Did the influence of immigrants cause the British to exhibit massive and public grief when Princess Diana died? (Hitchens identifies this as a particularly undignified episode.) Has the influence of immigrants created the dependency on the state exhibited by so many?

Frankly, I do not think so. British culture has its failings as well as its virtues. To wish to preserve its virtues is laudable; but to defend its failings because they are *native* failings is ridiculous. And really, I was under the impression that ethnic nationalism had gone out of style in the West. Just because one doesn’t advocate murdering the weirdos doesn’t mean one is free from the taint of ethnic nationalism. The difference between disapproving of foreign influence and violently eradicating foreign influence is really just one of degree.

6. Republicans/Conservatives.

The function of the Republican party in the United States and the Conservative Party in Britain is to disguise the fact that the country is ruled by what is essentially a one-party statist blob. Superficially, R/Cs may differ from Democrats/Labour on such issues as abortion, gay marriage, the role of family, etc – but the keen observer will notice that regarding all of these superficial issues, the solution on both sides is statist intervention of one form or another. Abortion – legal or illegal? Gay marriage – legal or illegal? Whatever the outcome, it will always be determined by some fiat legislation or judicial decree. Rarely does either side say, ‘Hey, these things are not for the government to decide.’

This political ‘dichotomy’ appears particularly schizophrenic to those of us who are neither centrists nor moderates, but occupy the ‘fringes’ (read: consistent factions) of the left and right. This is how we get complaints that, e.g., New Labour are in fact Thatcherite, and New Tories are in fact New Labour.** Actually both groups are ridiculously inconsistent in their ideologies, but at least Democrats/Labour do not pretend to be in favour of a limited state. Republicans/Conservatives do, but their actions when in charge rarely bear this out.

Furthermore, Republicans and Conservatives, by their insistence that they are materially and ideologically different from the Democrats/Labour, facilitate the claim of the left that right-wing hegemony carries on apace and the demon capitalism continues to oppress the working man. Whenever Republicans or Conservatives win elections, the cry from the left goes up: ‘See! There is still much work to be done in eliminating this wealthy-elitist scourge from society!’ They imagine themselves to be heirs of their 1960s forbears, struggling against an Establishment that is ranged against them in every possible sphere with powerful weapons.

In fact, they are the Establishment, and every protestation by Republicans/Conservatives that they offer a real alternative allows the left to pretend that they are still fighting The Man.

Which leads me to my next peeve…

7. Baby-boomers.***

There appears to be some justice in the common belief that the baby-boomers, having got into power since the 1960s, reordered society to suit themselves and pulled the ladder up behind them. Baby-boomers rule the Western world: they are the politicians, the bureaucrats, the professors, the journalists, the managers and CEOs, the head teachers, etc. All of the levers of actual power are in their hands. They direct policy and opinion and continue to shape the world according to their views. In their minds this is right and just, both because they possess ‘experience,’ and because they represent a considerable voting block in our much-revered system of democracy. They possess both seniority and numbers, which as we know are the accepted, legitimate reasons for allowing people to have what they want.

In an honest world, this would not be much of a criticism. But we live in a curiously dishonest world, wherein baby-boomers hold all of the power and then complain that the youth are disaffected and disengaged, unlike themselves when they were ‘the youth.’ In fact, most of the policies advocated by the baby-boomers in power seem deliberately designed to keep ‘the youth’ dependent on them, which is a perfect recipe for further disaffection and disengagement.

Let us consider recent proposals in Britain dealing with ‘the youth.’

(a) Compulsory education or training to age 18. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run) education system until legal adulthood.

(b) Sending more of the population to university. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run and operated) education system until well into adulthood.

(c) Government-provided work and training for graduates who can’t find jobs. This keeps ‘the youth’ (who are now into their twenties) dependent on the state (run by baby-boomers) for sustenance and the acquisition of skills.

(d) Parent training courses. This sends the message to ‘the youth’ who have dared to reproduce that despite their biological fitness for the job, they are mentally and emotionally unfit to raise offspring without guidance from the state (i.e. baby-boomers, those proven experts in child-rearing).

All of these policies could not make more perfectly clear the belief of baby boomers that ‘the youth’ of today are unfit to make decisions for themselves, support themselves, or support other humans; and yet still the baby boomers complain that ‘the youth’ don’t take responsibility for themselves and agitate for their own benefit. But why should they? They’ve been told they’re not competent to do this, and even the few who truly desire power (those who have somehow evaded the systematic demoralisation perpetrated on them) are content to wait, having accepted the baby-boomer creed that power comes automatically from seniority and numbers. Those people will simply wait until the baby boomers are all dead; the rest of us will continue to be disaffected (if not always disengaged) by the fact that the generation now holding power obviously think we are too stupid and childish to govern ourselves.

The cry of the baby boomers: ‘You can’t do anything without us! But why aren’t you trying anyway?’ Maybe it’s because, however stupid and childish we may be, we have at least learnt the futility of bashing our heads against brick walls.

*To my left-wing friends and acquaintances: Obviously I consider you exceptions to these unfriendly stereotypes, as I know you possess genuinely-held beliefs about the betterment of mankind and none of you have ever implied that I was stupid, ill-informed, suggestible, etc. for disagreeing with your desired methods of achieving this laudable aim.

**Consider the following symbolic logic: New Labour = Thatcherites (i.e. Old Tories); New Tories = New Labour; ergo New Tories = Thatcherites (i.e. Old Tories) and it becomes perfectly clear why the ‘fringes’ are screaming ZOMG THEY ARE ALL THE SAME!

***To my baby-boomer friends, acquaintances, and parents: Obviously I consider you exceptions to this unfriendly stereotype, as none of you are in positions of actual power and you all seem to be as frustrated with your generational compatriots as I am.

  27 Responses to “Contentious rants”

  1. “2. People who announce their departure and reappearance in internet forums…Why do people do this?”

    I’d rather they did that than just let their blog ‘go dark’. You always wonder if something awful has happened…

    • That’s certainly true, but I was thinking more in terms of discussion forums than blogs. I guess the same point holds, though.

  2. Great post as usual. You’ve struck a nerve with me re: baby boomers. Sometime I think there’s no hope until the lot of them die out. The most self-absorbed and selfish generation that ever drew breath.

    • For obvious reasons I’m in no hurry for all of them to die out, but it would be nice if they’d stop strangling us and then demanding to know why we’re not breathing.

  3. Re your point 5 about culture vs immigrants:
    Just in this century, resentment at “incomers” has changed radically, from (perhaps suppressed) racism to anti-Islamic feeling. This is unsurprising and entirely due to NuLab’s underhand agenda of “multiculturalism”, the effect of which is now obviously (due to a lack of joined-up thinking, planning & cultural integration) ghetto-isation. Britain’s strength has always been its resilience and willingness to adapt to and absorb different cultures, incorporating many aspects into the mainstream for mutual benefit. Many positive benefits emerged from the ashes of the Empire.
    But these last ten years have seen a major change in the way people from Eastern Europe and Asia have settled here through the biggest social experiment ever, incompetently managed by the fools in Westminster. It’s no longer about nimby-ish “preserving culture”, but a fight to slow down Islamification. I’ve no problem with people’s religion: whichever brand of nonsense they choose is OK, but this is a CULTURAL battle. Geert Wilders, on trial for the right to free speech in the Netherlands, is fighting a battle many have not yet realised is both necessary and extremely important. And the lack of reporting about this seminal trial by the UK MSM is a disgrace.

    • Well, here’s how I see the thing, which is quite similar to what you say. Britain has laws, which of course are a product of culture, but nevertheless laws. People of other cultures who come here may do as they see fit provided they obey the laws. Should they wish to change the laws, they must vote and lobby etc. as this is how democracy functions. If their voting & lobbying is successful and the laws are changed accordingly, hey, that’s how democracy works.

      What New Labour’s ‘social experiment’ has actually been is allowing people of other cultures to use this cultural difference as a justification for not obeying the laws – and New Labour have themselves used it as an excuse for not enforcing the laws. So the problem is not foreigners per se, but a government that explicitly rejects the dictum ‘all are equal under the law’. Which, of course, makes a mockery of the rule of law and the judicial system. I’m sure New Labour positively encourage people to blame this on immigrants – because otherwise people would blame New Labour.

  4. Perceptive as ever, Bella. So true about the Baby Boomers – especially the ’68ers.

    You seem to be at your best when pissy- ;o)

  5. 1-6. Sound good sense, nothing contentious here. I’m thinking of just repositioning my political stance as “see Bella Gerens, omnia opera.”

    7. “Generations” by William Strauss makes a similar argument. Basically each generation rebels against the cultural and ideological values of its parents, and distorts those of its successors through the power of incumbancy. An interesting take on the sins of the fathers.

    America: orderly and obedient Greatest Generation > politically committed but selfish Boomers > apathetic/infantilised Gen-X > ???
    Britain: stoic pragmatism of the 30s-40s > angry young men of the 50s-60s > philistinism and materialism of the 70s-80s > frivolous sensation society of the 90s onward

    • I’m sort of familiar with Strauss; he makes good points, from what I can tell. As to the generations, I include everybody who reached adulthood in the late 60s – early 70s in the ‘baby boomer’ label, whether in Britain or the US. It is these people who currently wield the power (both actual and electoral) in both places. Not sure where people of my own age fit in. The fact that we don’t have a label to ourselves is in itself suggestive of the lack of agency we possess as individuals and as a faction within society.

  6. Shit, Bella! That’s some pure A-grade 200-proof Moldbuggery you’re shooting up there.

    Re: 4. Google is your friend. Just add “site:address.of.blog.com” to the end of your search

  7. “In an honest world, this would not be much of a criticism. But we live in a curiously dishonest world, wherein baby-boomers hold all of the power and then complain that the youth are disaffected and disengaged, unlike themselves when they were ‘the youth.’ In fact, most of the policies advocated by the baby-boomers in power seem deliberately designed to keep ‘the youth’ dependent on them, which is a perfect recipe for further disaffection and disengagement.”


    That’s all. :-)

  8. Good post as ever.
    Interesting isn’t it that the moves to keep more “youth” in “education” for longer, also keeps them off the unemployed numbers, and at the same time,some of the same people advovate votes at 16

  9. As I was born in 1960 I guess I am just about part of the baby boomer generation and while I agree with most of your criticisms of todays society I do not feel you can really lay the blame on baby boomers.

    The blame lies fairly and squarely with the political classes and their acolytes, of all ages. There is a certain type of personality that seeks its gratification (for money, power, status) through the control and direction of other people. These morally bankrupt people belong to all generations and strata of society. Unfortunately in the UK we have allowed them to control the metacontext for the last 12-15 years and their perverted views and ideology have been allowed to form mainstream opinion and values.

    I hope that those who support libertarian ideals have now started the long but worthy process of creating a new metacontext. What seemed to me some 14 years ago to be a tiny pocket of people who turned me on, via the internet, to libertarian thought are growing in numbers and influence daily.

    Bella you may surprised at how many of us in our fifth decade, or older, will be over-joyed to witness the development of this small but momentous renaissance in political thought.

    • Yes, you’re quite right. Since many of these political classes and their associated professions happen to be baby-boomers, that’s where I directed my ire. I think my argument about what they’re doing to the youth is still valid. But yes, the generation as a whole is not to blame.

  10. To be blunt, the governance of the Baby Boomers in the US has amounted to little more than generational highway robbery. It’s difficult not to be offended by any suggestion of responsibility offered by a group of people whose entitlements will bankrupt the government when they finally start to come due. The reality of this has been known for quite some time, but has been consistently been thought of as “too difficult to deal with” by politicians with only a few exceptions.

    My fear is that when the real costs of this begin to be to obvious to be ignored the level of anger among the younger portion of the electorate will make the Tea Party movement look like a ladies church luncheon.

    Deeply angry democracies need only a small push to swing in very unpleasant directions.

    Great work as always! :)

    • Yes, and yet still these bastards persist. My father was telling me about a radio broadcast he overheard wherein some senator was saying we should do away with the filibuster. My first thought was, let him try it, and see if he likes the ill winds that’ll blow then. And yes, the costs of the youth funding twenty years of leisure for every baby boomer will be huge. Funny how people seem to be ignoring that or denying it altogether.

  11. Bella: Re baby boomers, Right On! Far Out! Seriously, though, as boomers–and we (my spouse and I) cannot exclude ourselves from some of your criticism of the arrogant, selfish and self-indulgent generation–we can take some credit for encouraging our offspring to think independently and critically, the result of which is evident in both and quite satisfying, if sometimes disconcerting. But so be it, and hurrah.

    • Well yes. You are not political youth-suffocators (naturally!) and your offspring have become tendentious shit-stirrers of the most libertarian sort. But you are pretty well unique in those respects. 😉

  12. 8. People who stand still on escalators.

    The escalator was not invented to haul your ass up and down. It’s there to make the stair-climbing process faster and more efficient. Please get out of the damn way!

    Just thought I’d throw in my two cents.

    • I usually stand still on the way up. But then, I’m dealing with long Tube escalators, not the tiny technology-as-art kind you have to deal with at Student Stores all day. I reckon you should start shoving people.

  13. Um. EXCUSE ME. Not all us baby-boomers are as you folks are describing! That’s no worse than the left making any thing vaguely offensive, illegal, with the exception of insulting and assaulting those who disagree with them.

  14. No worse … no better. Duh. Baby boomer AND illiterate :-)

  15. […] on Morality and Praxis March 11, 2010, 7:24 pm Filed under: Uncategorized The lovely Bella Gerens complains that Leftism is easy, because the Left claims a monopoly on both morality and praxis […]

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