The American domestic conflicts of the current age are unique in human history in that they are entirely caused by social reformers. In prior ages, reformers sprung up when there was a need for actual reform. Social conditions demanded changes so that the people could attain a higher degree of peace and prosperity. Today, peace and prosperity are the default, so reformers sow discord and mayhem, like firemen who set fires, so they have something to do.
It is tempting to assume this is by design, but as Goethe put it, “misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.” While there are certainly cases where the people in charge swing the wrecking ball just for fun, more often it is due to incompetence, an incompetence that is the inevitable outgrowth of a universalist worldview.
One defect of the universalist mind is the inability to appreciate the complexity of life. This is something most people understand intuitively. What works for you in your life is probably not going to work for everyone. The proletarian cliche of “different strokes for different folks” did not spring from nothing. It is a readily observable phenomenon and why restaurants have menus and cars come in different colors.
The great minds that rule over us just assume that everyone wants what they want, hates what they hate and loves what they love. There’s no room in their imagination for valid and legitimate alternatives to their ethics or even their aesthetics. Instead, when our betters hear the phrase “different strokes for different folks” they assume it means varying the application of the whip in order to achieve conformity.
This is the color of every great blunder made by the American ruling class over the last half century. They cannot imagine that anyone, at least anyone worth considering, would have different priorities, values, or passions. In foreign policy it means blundering into foreign lands handing out ballots at gun point. Domestically it means toppling over traditional institutions in favor of technocratic solutions that appeal to no one but their designers.
Another aspect of this is the inability to grasp the concept of scale. An old gag in statistics is that quantity has a quality of its own. Many things simply do not scale up or down very well. An obvious example is the New England town meeting system of governance. In a small town, getting the citizens together to hash out problems works very well. Try that in New York City and you end up with a riot. Try that in New Orleans and you have a hip-hop video.
The universalists cannot grasp that what works for them in their small groups of privilege and plenty cannot scale up to society as a hole. Caroline Swipple in Greenwich thinks it is great that Whole Foods does not sell sugary breakfast cereals. She thinks that should be the case everywhere so she demands government ban the sale of Fruit Loops. It is baked into the universalist worldview that their personal choices are universally good so they just assume they will work for everyone.
From the outside, it simply looks like the people in charge, the so-called social justice warriors, are just ignorant busy bodies obsessed with pushing people around. In some cases it appears to be spite that motivates them. Making smokers huddle in alleyways behind the pubs looks like the sort of thing one does to someone they hate. But that is not what is driving it. It is a blinkered view of life that cannot incorporate the great complexity and variety of human action.
This narrow view of life is the root of another defect and that is the lack of self-awareness. Stable, sensible people have some regard for their limitations. They know that some problems are not fixable. The best you can do is work around them. The people in charge, truly believe that all problems are solvable, including death itself. Not just that, but they are certain they are the ones to solve them.
The constant blundering in the Middle East is the most obvious example. Since the Bronze Age, the people living in and around Mesopotamia have been at war with one another. This is the nature of tribal people who have outlandishly high rates of inbreeding. Cousin marriage is near universal in some parts of the world, the most clannish parts of the world. Cousin marriage fosters clannishness, corruption and clan warfare.
Violent, tribal societies composed of low-IQ individuals is not the raw material for a liberal democracy. Despite these well known facts on the ground and 5,000 years of history, American leaders have been blundering around the Middle East for over 25 years. Bush gets most of the blame, but Obama has proven to be just as incompetent, despite actually being a Muslim of sorts. Obama, like Bush, just assumes he’ll solve thousands of years of problems in a few years.
When you roll it all up, America is a country with an abundance of peace and prosperity, but an overabundance of blinkered blunderers obsessed with conquering the human condition. Almost all of what ails us as a people is inflicted upon us by people who simply refuse to leave well enough alone. There is no version of the social contract that obligates or even permits the civil authorities to sow discord among the people. Yet, that is exactly where we find ourselves.
Thus, ends Part III