Note: The weekly post is up at Taki. This week it is about the school system in Lagos and how it relates to right-wing politics. I had some additional thoughts on the subject, which are posted behind the green door on the form of song.
In the West, the state tends to reserve its harshest punishments for those who break the law on purpose, with malice of forethought. The murderer that carefully stalked and killed a guy who insulted him at the bar gets a longer sentence than the guy who flew off the handle and killed a guy in a bar fight. The underlying assumption is that the former will kill again, because he chose to kill, while the latter is unlikely to kill, because he did so only under unique conditions.
This seems obvious at first blush, but there is a counter argument. The guy who flew off the handle and killed another man is not a rational person. He killed for no reason, while the other guy thought about his crime. Would you rather be in a room full of people who can fly off the handle at any time and kill you or in a room full of men who kill under specific conditions? In other words, committing a crime on purpose may not always be worse than committing a crime through negligence or impulse.
This is why so much of a criminal trial is about the motivations and the circumstances of the crime versus the plain facts. The verdict and the punishment are about public morality, not the facts of the crime. The guy who thought about his crime before committing it may have had good reasons to commit the crime. While we do not want people taking the law into their own hands, we can understand it in the cases where the crime comports with the moral code of society.
This sort of moral puzzle turns up in our politics. Last week the House passed an election “reform” bill. The point of the bill is to nationalize the chaos and fraud we saw in many states during the last election. The game of “pallets of ballots” showing up in the middle of the night will become a 50-state phenomenon. The Democrats think that because they have anathematized any discussion of election fraud, they can now institutionalize it at the national level.
The motivation for this is the salient question. Some argue that it is so they can win every election. This will give the Democrats and presumably the institutional Left absolute power. Others argue that the Left already has absolute power over the institutions, so the better explanation is ideology. They truly believe they are in a twilight struggle against the enemies of democracy. These reforms are part of the battle against the dark forces that allegedly subverted the 2016 election.
For most right-leaning people, the first answer is more pleasant, so it is the default option, even though the latter answer is more logical. Right-leaning people have been conditioned to think about politics in practical terms, even though left-wing people view politics in partisan terms. Conservatives just cannot let go of the belief that people operate from material self-interest. This mode of thought also leaves open the possibility that the Left is correct or at least partially correct.
This conundrum gets to the heart of the problem with the political system. It has always been a trick played on the majority. By convincing the majority of white people that the Left is always acting from cynical self-interest, the implication is that there is a deal to be struck. If the facts are made clear, then the Democrats will be reasonable either to avoid being seen as acting from cynical self-interest or because they see their interests lay in a bargain. Deal making is the highest virtue of the Right.
This gets back to the moral question at the start, Conservatives have concluded that logical evil is better than illogical evil. Part of their reason to exist is to sell the claim that the Democrats and the Left are rational actors, rather than partisans. They can promise to cut a deal with the rational actor, no matter how cynical the motives. There is no deal to be had with the partisan. The only deal to be made with a partisan is one that he sees as advancing his partisan interests.
Just like the motivation question regarding murder, the morality of the choices is not always clear when you look at the whole picture. The default position in politics is that the Left knows it is acting in bad faith. This self-awareness can be used to cut a deal, but why would anyone want to cut a deal with them? At least with the partisan, there is some chance they can be tricked into thinking a deal advances their interests or maybe their interests actually have a positive outcome.
If you go back to the beginnings of conservatism, it started with the premise that the other side was irredeemably wicked. If you watch Reagan’s speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964, Reagan sounded like he was talking about pure evil when he describes the politics of the Left. It is partisanship from the Right, in which he reduces politics to good guys and bad guys. More important, he excoriates his audience to be the good guys and be a partisan. That is the point of the speech.
This is the great challenge in fashioning an alternative to conservatism. The starting point must be that the Left, however defined, is unreasonable. There can be no bargain with them, because bargains are between reasonable parties. The point of right-wing politics is not defending the established order from left-wing attacks. The point of right-wing politics is to dispense with the moral distinction made by conservatives and focus on removing left-wing politics from society.
It is tempting to dismiss the recent past, particular that of the conservative movement, but there is a lesson to their failure. Whether by choice or by subversion, they moved from the original partisan position to a bourgeois rationalist position. Dissident politics must return to the original position of the Right, armed with the knowledge that anything undermining that binary view of the Left is as evil as the Left itself. The solution to conservative obsequiousness is right-wing radicalism.
A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.
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