Bertrand Russel said, “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” It is a pithy aphorism that has now been amplified by modernity into a description of liberal democracy. In every Western country, the stupid drown out everyone else in the court of public opinion, but do so with a breath-taking degree of self-righteous sanctimony. The hallmark of the modern man is to have an opinion on everything, almost all of them wrong.
It is not that the stupid have been made supreme, although it certainly seems that way when you encounter public opinion. It’s that everything has been politicized to the point where every issue, no matter how small, becomes a moral signifier. Where you stand on the issue says something about you and your position in society. If you don’t have an opinion on an issue, it is assumed you are ignorant or possibly in league with dark forces, those who hold the “horrifically” wrong opinion.
For most of human history, few people had opinions on anything. After all, most people had no say in most things, so why bother having an opinion? The farmer working the land had a very limited range of things in which his preferences mattered. The shop keeper in the village or city operated under the rules established by whoever it was that ruled the village or city. Since no one cared what he thought about those rules, there was no need for him to have an opinion on those rules.
In private rule, whether it is a monarchy, dictatorship or oligarchy, opinions on public affairs are limited, as very little is actually public. The king decides and the people abide. Opinion only matters in private affairs, where people have control over their lives. What really matters to people is how comfortable and successful they fit into their social role. Custom, tradition and habit are what matter most, as complying with those is what brings personal and social happiness through the reduction of conflict.
In public rule, like a democracy or even communism, the range of topics up for debate expands well beyond the personal, but the moral significance of them paradoxically becomes highly personal. The theory in democracy is that the people come together, debate the topics at hand and fifty percent plus one decides public policy. In most forms of communism, the general will is expressed through the organs of the party, which has a monopoly of power. Thus, policy is always in line with the general will.
In reality, the public comes to embrace some new moral truth around the issue at hand as almost all issues facing a society are mundane and straightforward. The first truth of democracy is that most issues don’t require debate. The issue is whether or not the people will voluntarily go along with what must be done or they must be compelled. Democratic debate quickly devolves into claims about morality. The new moral truth is determined and everyone is then judged on where they stand regarding this truth.
For example, for ten thousand years marriage was understood to be primarily about creating new people. The male and female are joined and the product of that union is their children. Then all of a sudden, for no obvious reason, the great and good asked the public to redefine marriage to mean two people sharing a bed and rent. They slowly whipped people into believing one side was righteous, while the other was evil, until they got a critical minority to accept the new morality.
In liberal democracy, this this new system for evolving moral truth is extended by casting the new morality backward in time. It is not just a new moral truth, but a newly discovered universal and timeless moral truth. People are then judged by how far outside of this moral truth they were before it was discovered. It is why anyone associated with racism must be erased from the history books, as it suggests this new moral truth about race was not always a moral truth.
The result of this is an expansion of public debate to all aspects of life. No issue, no matter how trivial, is off limits. Even the most private topics must be exposed to public debate, as to do so suggests some things are outside morality. This was true in communist societies, where even your thoughts were open to examination. We are seeing this evolve in liberal democracy where modern day spectral evidence is used to determine if you hold opinions outside the accepted morality.
People naturally respond to their environmental. To be caught outside the newly discovered timeless morality is to live as a pariah. A way to avoid this is to loudly express the proper opinion about all subjects at all times. Those seeking to live in the elevated areas of modern life, the media, entertainment, government, corporations, must always be seen as inside the moral domain. Social media has become the platform on which they display their piety.
Of course, people look up for their social cues, so this endless bellowing about the accepted morality has trickled down to every nook and cranny of society. The suburban mom now feels compelled to ululate about racism on here neighborhood Facebook page, even though her neighborhood is totally white. Millions of YouTube actors repeat familiar chants like “there is no biological basis for race” despite the fact they have not the slightest idea what the phrase is supposed to mean.
We are living in a deluge of opinion, almost all of which is uninformed. Rather than living within a society structured by tradition, custom and habit, people now live in a world structured by mass opinion, shaped by a small group of gangsters at the top, who use the institutions of society to shape opinion. Everywhere the intelligent turn, they are confronted by the stupid and cocksure, screaming the latest opinions on the timeless morality that was invented last week.
It is really quite remarkable how irrational liberal democracy has become in just the last generation. The reason the world feels like it is going mad is that the volume of the stupid and insane has been turned to eleven. The reason for that is the inevitable logic of liberal democracy. If fifty percent plus one determines the truth, whether it is the price of fruit or the level of taxation, it stands to reason that all truth must be exposed to the fifty percent plus one and judged accordingly.
This means today’s truth can easily become tomorrow’s heresy. All it takes in many cases is a few votes to change at the very top. In the case of homosexual marriage, it took just one vote. All of a sudden, two men playing house is a timeless conservative principle of the constitution order. In such a fickle perfidious existence, the self-righteous and stupid must be prepared to loudly proclaim their fidelity to the new truth, as soon as the new truth is on the horizon.
The communist solved the problem of public government by deceitfully privatizing it in the name of the people. The party became the arbiter of truth and eventually settled into a fixed set of rules. While those rules were often at odds with the reality of the human condition, they at least had the benefit of being predictable. Liberal democracy does not appear to have such a mechanism. It is a constant revolution against established truth, so any effort to stabilize it is viewed as a threat.
There seems to be two paths forward for the current liberal democratic order. One path forward is it shakes itself into exhaustion, like a mental patient having a violent break from reality. The necessary mechanisms for a functioning society begin to break down under the assault of the stupid and self-righteous. The collapse of urban police departments is an ominous sign that this is the path we are one now. Imposition of order is being anathematized as irredeemably immoral.
The other path is something like a slow decent into madness. These spasms of lunacy will be followed by periods of relative calm. Just as the sober minded are putting things back in order, another spasm strikes to knock down that which has been repaired and knock down some new items. The result is spasmodic periods of decline until the sober minded are no longer willing or able to serve their role. At this point society tips into an accelerated decline and eventually collapse.
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