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May 07, 2006

On the Exquisite Decadence of Self-Loathing

Ray Midge:

This, it seems to me, is the issue of our age. Does there come an implosion point when a sufficient percentage of a given society instinctively "know" their society is the most evil society ever was or could possibly be - that every freedom afforded its citizenry is, at best, a perverted, ironic hollow in its structural evil.

I wonder if this is just the way it has to be. Just some sort of grand human cycle where, when material want has been relieved, and man has been given pretty much everything they want, the society that granted such must be speared and gored because it has still somehow fallen short of perfection. That a great society necessarily births children who, wallowing in its luxuries, turn against it out of .... boredom, a means of signaling their elite status, the pleasure of self-hate and "special knowledge."

I just can't see things getting better on this front. If we don't destroy ourselves from within, we'll have rotted out the support timbers for when something outside throws its weight on us - then busy ourselves with convincing others and ourselves we had it coming. The highest decadence. What a luxury.

Actually, of course, this isn't a case of self-loathing so much as loathing of the civilization to which one belongs; liberals and lefties are quite fond of themselves. It's the America government, our national history, Western values, and their fellow countrymen they despise.

I think I've said this a couple of times before, but I'll say it again:

One of the most foolish forms of moral vanity is the determination to rival God Himself in viewing events from a truly "objective" perspective, that is, a vantage point from which the subject -- oneself -- is not given any special consideration.

We all like to imagine ourselves objective-- to a degree. We like to think we can view a situation without privileging or prioritizing our own wants and needs over the wants and needs of others -- to a degree. But only an imbecile imagines he can actually manage a perfect stance of objectivity.

And only someone suffused with moral vanity imagines he should aspire to such a vaunted perspective.

I've had this argument with a dozen leftists and hard liberals. They insist, among other things, that Americans should not be afforded by other Americans any special regard as concerns matters of life and death; they will insist, for example, that the collateral deaths of foreigners on a battlefield are just as important, if not more important, than deaths of American soldiers, and that the rules of engagement should be much more strict to avoid causing any foreign civilians harm, even if it results, as it must, in an increased death toll among American soldiers.

They do not see this as a question of American lives versus foreign lives. They only view it "objectively" as a question of soldiers versus civilians, with no weighting of soldiers' lives due to the fact they are their fellow American citizens.

Imagining they can and should remove natural human irrational and subjective sympathies from the equation -- i.e., first duty to self and family, second duty to friends, third duty to community, fourth duty to nation, fifth and final duty to all others -- they fetishize their own "enlightment" by refusing to prioritize the safety of their countrymen over non-countrymen.

The amateur webzine Slate had a good piece about an extreme form of this psychotic condition. Remember back during the "Summer of Shark" attacks, before 9/11, when all we thought we had to worry about was a spike in shark attacks (which really wasn't a spike at all; it was just a spike in news coverage) and Gary Conditt?

Some people actually chose to become, as Slate dubbed them, "shark apolgists." In a territorial dispute between sharks, which wanted to eat people, and human swimmers, who wanted to not be eaten, some biologists and environmentalists actually argued in favor of the sharks' "right" to chow down on 11-year-old boys. After all-- it's their territory. They have to eat too, right?

It was a sickening example of the Moral Vanity of Objectivity being taken to the next level -- not only are Americans not to be favored over non-Americans, but now human beings (and children, too!) are not even to be favored over non-human, non-sentinent aquatic predators.

Hey-- let's just take the fact that we're human, and have, of course, an "irrational bias" in favor of humanity, out of the equation. Viewed in "objective" terms, in which we don't favor humans just because we're humans -- viewing things as if we were space aliens, in other words, and space aliens who further don't favor the sentient over non-sentient -- there is no special objective reason to favor human children over sharks, right?

Liberals and leftists are forever patting themselves on the back for removing their natural affinities from the moral equation -- or at least pretending to -- and they praise themselves so highly for this habit that they scarcely realize what they are urging is not a "higher morality," but a moral obscenity.

If you are so far gone that you cannot privilege human beings over a goddamned shark, for crying out loud-- congratulations. You have, in moral terms, more or less removed yourself from the human race. Almost every other human being would favor you over an unthinking shark; but you do not return the favor, even out of respect for an implied compact (you favor me over the sharks, so, in return, I will favor you, even if I don't really agree with the principle behind that "humanocentric" favoritism).

And yes: If you cannot privilege your fellow Americans over non-Americans in your moral calculus -- even knowing you receive the benefit of that favoritism from the vast majority of your fellow Americans, who would of course save an American's life over a foreigner's, if they had to choose, and all other considerations being equal -- then you've effectively removed yourself from true citizenship and community with your fellow Americans.

You may be a "Citizen of the World" or a "Global Citizen," but not all dual citizenships are permitted, and sometimes you have to turn in one passport to gain another. You can be a Citizen of the World if you want, but stop calling yourself an American, and stop objecting when others question your patriotism. You reject patriotism by proud self-declaration.

Except, of course, when others note you've declared that. Then you get all self-righteous.

At some point, we just don't have the luxury of decadent philosophical inquiries as to who the real monsters are, us or them. When someone's trying to kill you, you don't have the luxury of exploring whether or not your would-be killer feels justified in his efforts at murder, or has legitimate grievances against the US or Israel, or whether there are "root causes" which mitigate his evil. You either defend yourself or die.

A lot of people in this country just don't seem to understand that. They are unwilling to simply say, "We are at war; it is time to defend ourselves." And by rejecting that simple, unnuanced, "jingoistic" notion, they instead choose death.

And not just their own deaths, of course; they choose death for their fellow Americans, to the extent they can put their desires into practice.

And while these peacocks strut about to show off the pretty feathers of their "enlightened morality," men of real morals and genuine courage are, of course, dying in order to protect them. Better men die so that they can wallow and luxuriate in their presumed righteousness and then scorn those who make their decadance, and very continued existence, possible.

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posted by Ace at 04:42 PM

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