Thane Eichenerauer, bless his every living breath, put me in mind of this exhortation from April 20, 2012, about the morality of mobs:
As a matter of disclosure, I have not read An Army of Davids. The thesis is completely obvious from the title, and my expectation is that, to justify a $25 purchase price, what is at best a thousand-word essay is inflated by a factor of 100 with repetitive interviews from the echo-chamber. Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong about this, but life is too short for weblog posts masquerading as books.
But as we saw yesterday, the putative Army of Davids is actually a pathetic mob of self-panicking Eric Cartmans, dumb-ass bullies telling each other the same one dumb-ass joke, over and over again — just like they do at The Daily Kos and Little Green Footballs, which as Karl Marx reminds us is “no accident.”
That’s sad. This is sadder: Yesterday was Patriot’s Day — Lexington/Concord, Waco, Oklahoma City, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising — the perfect day to talk about the evil of government and how to rid our lives of that evil. So what did Libertarian and Conservative “thought leaders” do instead? They shot spitballs — paper bullets of the brain — at Obama all day.
That’s a waste of their lives, but it’s also a waste of your intellectual capital. The day was lost, and the better points that could have been made were lost. But so much more than that was lost, as we’ll see. I scolded these fools yesterday, and I’m going to explore their errors in fuller detail today. But the important lesson for you, going forward, is to learn how not to squander your own time and character on vile nonsense.
Yesterday, I said this:
1. Saul Alinsky was evil, as are Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, etc. There is no benefit to a self-loving mind in emulating these vile, rhetorically invalid tactics. Breitbart was wrong: Tu quoque is not okay.
2. No matter how much you revile or ridicule your opponent, this will not make you a better person. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is me from Man Alive!:
The paths to error are infinite, but two landmarks I have learned to rely on, in listening to people trying to justify their evil actions, are the logical fallacies Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make A Right. Tu Quoque is Latin. It means, “You do it, too.” When you catch your teenager swiping a beer, the pre-fabricated rationale will surely be, “Well, you drink, why can’t I?!?” And you were probably very young when you first heard some little proto-brute justifying his vengeance by bellowing, “Well, he hit me first!” – ergo, two wrongs make a right. You should probably be on your guard against any statement that starts with a “well” and ends with an exclamation point. That particular verbal construction seems to fit very comfortably in the mouths of liars and thugs. But when you hear those two logical fallacies being deployed in tandem, what you are hearing, almost certainly, is a cunningly-crafted rationalization of an abominable injustice.
I said this yesterday, too:
Mobbing up is always self-destructive — for every member of the mob.
The means, mode and method of mobbing up are covered in huge depth in the book, so I’m not going to repeat those ideas here. It suffices to say that people only run in mobs when they know in advance that their behavior is morally reprehensible. As above, they will justify — rationalize — that bad behavior by deploying Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make A Right, but referencing Chapter 7, no one pre-fabricates rationales for virtue. Virtue can speak for itself, and true intellectual courage insists on standing fearlessly alone — like the real David.
Take a moment to ruminate, if you would. How would you rather see yourself: As a giggling, guffawing, grandstanding stooge of Eric Cartman, or as a man or woman standing all alone, on the authority of your own mind, for true human justice? Which is a better expression of self-adoration? Which is an expression of self-loathing? Which will leave you better able to defend your mind tomorrow — when the mob turns on you?
Which brings me to the final note from yesterday’s post:
Everything you do that does not advance your objectives retards them: 1 > 0 > –1.
That is what this weblog is all about.
The “logic” of mobbing up like this is absurd. Some people are susceptible to social pressure, but this is not a necessary consequence. I can show you how to withstand any quantity of empty scorn. How? By measuring it for conceptual content. Zero always equals zero, and even if a million zeros are wasting their own lives, they need not have any impact at all on yours. If you learn how to manage this kind of thing — and, alas, I do have some experience at that — you can turn the mob to you own advantage.
I got piled on a little yesterday at FreeRepublic.com, and this is part of a comment I wrote in response:
You are advancing your own interests in no way by piling on me. To the contrary, your behavior is self-destructive, and it hurts me not at all. That’s something for nothing, and every trade you make where you give up your values and get nothing in exchange is a waste of your one, unique, irreplaceable life. That just seems silly to me.
So the first premise behind this “thinking” is false: You cannot cause or change other people’s purposive behavior, no matter how hard you sneer.
The second premise is that taking someone down a peg — in this case President Obama — will be a good thing. But what are the means deployed? The Appeal to Ridicule — a logical fallacy — irrelevancy by massive redundancy. Everyone who already hates Obama snickered. Everyone who loves him scowled. And zero minds were changed, since persuasion can only be effected by valid, rational arguments.
The counter-claim would be that the voters are stupid, anyway, so the only way to move them is with stupidities. This is the way your “thought leaders” really “think,” and they will say so right out loud if you listen to what they actually say, instead of trying to emote in sympathetic synchronicity with their puerile public posturing. If we stipulate the claim, three things fall out:
1. There is nothing that is demonstrably better about the Conservative or Libertarian position. Politics is all just Evil versus Evil.
2. There is no point in making valid arguments about virtue and vice in any case.
3. There is some human value to be found in campaigning to be King of All Idiots.
Those propositions are all stupidly false, of course. And yet those must be the actual beliefs of the “thought leaders.” They would not behave as they do, making the arguments they make, if they had any intellectual confidence in the validity of their positions.
The third premise is a restatement of the fallacies Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make A Right: Collectivists are so good at ridiculing Conservatives and Libertarians, our only hope of victory is to get down into the mud with them.
Now we go to the book:
But when you find yourself among philosophical bullies and their mindless minions, you need to be on your guard. If you are not vigilant, they will try to impose their moral standards on you, and you will find yourself striving – in vain – to defend your arguments, beliefs or behavior according to their putative standard of value. It does not matter that they can neither intellectually defend nor successfully live down to their perverse ethical doctrine. All that will matter to them is inducing you to damn your self on their terms – to apologize to them and to the universe for being a self and for daring to live up to your self. They crave this as a bogus “evidence” of the moral righteousness of their creed, an evidence they would not seek, and would not need to seek, if their dogma were actually true.
The general process – evil people seeking “evidence” of the “truth” of moral philosophies they already know are false – is much too common. The ganging-up on the playground – and in the forum and in the tap-room and in the office and on the internet – is a form of the same madness, social “proof” of claims no one doubts are factually false and morally reprehensible. True intellectual confidence is fearless. If you need for someone to tell you that you are in the right, it’s because you already know you are in the wrong.
Who didn’t see this coming?
What’s funnier is that I told the Libertarians, at least, to catch up with the times.
That’s all one. It doesn’t matter. The world is mine now, if only because no one else is even trying to do the right things.
I don’t care about them. I care about you. Yesterday is gone, and there is only one positive value to be harvested from the past: To learn from your mistakes so you can do better going forward. If you lost time to making and listening to dumb-ass jokes, too bad for you. I want to know what you plan to do that is good for you instead. Splendor is the reward you earn from pursuing your own values. Squalor is all you will reap, in the end, when you get swept up in some dumb-ass “thought leader’s” stupid, ineffectual, time-wasting, character-destroying games.
Can we revisit the questions I asked before?
How would you rather see yourself: As a giggling, guffawing, grandstanding stooge of Eric Cartman, or as a man or woman standing all alone, on the authority of your own mind, for true human justice? Which is a better expression of self-adoration? Which is an expression of self-loathing? Which will leave you better able to defend your mind tomorrow — when the mob turns on you?
Here is one final thought. Yesterday’s pandemic jackassery did not make the quest for human sovereignty easier, it made it harder. The collectivists will be newly energized — and newly empowered to regurgitate the Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make A Right fallacies. Tit-for-tat always escalates — and no one is making valid arguments against tyranny. Now think about the “thought leaders” you believed you could trust and depend on. Are they defending your interests, or are they selling you out for a few dumb-ass giggles?
Here’s my take: An employee who can be fired is one you’ll never miss. An employee who should be fired is one who makes your work harder, not easier. You do the math.