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a successful society must see to itself
keep calm and take back what is ours: self-reliance is the only true social fabric
despite what leviathan may tell you, it does not fall to government to establish and maintain social norms.
the state is neither competent nor capable of doing so.
and you would not want it to even if it were.
a society must see to itself and establish the morals, mores, and behavior that it will accept.
that is what makes it a society.
civilization is not a thing to be directed from the top down but the sum of the bottom’s up relationships and order that emerge from its inhabitants in their exercise of agency and association.
it and its people must be self-governing and each must expect the same from each and all.
that’s the price and the payoff of full participation in the social contract.
anything else is barbarism and that includes “reliance upon government to do this for me.” such dependency is the hallmark of the child. adults solve their own problems and set up their own systems. adults step up to repair that which is broken.
“the government should fix this” is just a lazy way of admiring the problem but failing to be a part of the solution. it’s an admission that it’s “someone else’s problem to fix.”
“i care, but not enough to do anything myself” is not a terribly compelling mantra.
“i profess to care, but will wail against and vilify those who try to generate some semblance of societal order here because i want all the nice stuff without any conflict” is likely far worse and hypocritical to boot. it’s a childish inability to recognize trade offs or accept responsibility.
and yet we’re seeing this every day in 100 places and the result is debasement and degeneration.
we do not deter.
we strive not for justice but for flimsy justification for malfunction and indolent passivity.
we wring our hands and rend our garments, but no one steps forward to act.
and so that which should not stand is standing tall and that which should rise remains seated in trepidation because the state has increasingly set the rules in opposition to the individual initiative and reasonable license needed for any society to actually police itself into something that any sane human wants to inhabit.
government has become the enemy of order.
the state and its “intellectuals” are playing in opposition to us, removing agency and fostering unaccountability.
society has been cowed into the acceptance of dissolution as though no other path is available or moral. (or, increasingly, legal)
act out and get the carrot. try to stop it, get the stick.
madness and menace run free.
and no one says a word, united in feeling alone.
because that’s what not having a society feels like.
so here we are.
and so it keeps getting worse.
it keeps getting worse because no one does anything.
it keeps getting worse because those who try to set matters aright get attacked by the very state and its preening, virtue signal-happy intelligencia that have been mistaken for “our protectors” but have increasingly become a pretorian guard for malefactors and the enemy of agency and the bottoms up positive law and praxis that constitute actual, inhabitable civilization
they seek to remake in some ill-conceived image that which was never theirs.
they disavow the inhabited human story and seek to put in its place something inhuman, something unevolved, something wrong.
they mire in legalism that which should be moral.
and this drive reaches for everything.
the fact that the word “total” provides the base for “totalitarianism” is not a coincidence. and this has happened before.
such philosophies seek to bend everything around their own peculiar gravity.
they do this by normalizing the abnormal.
think about all the things that are “normal” now.
organized gangs raiding stores in urban downtowns to smash and steal while police and security guards and patrons do noting.
crazy people exposing themselves, shouting at people, haranguing passengers on public transport, and peeing on busses before they pass out in it. this has become the set dressing of cities.
vast open air conglomerations of zombified junkies and mentally ill people of varying degrees of violence and menace living in vast encampments on public sidewalks and public lands. urban horror camping has become the new american passtime.
needles, feces, aggression, madness. people passed out in the doorways of stores while citizens and police stroll by and pretend not to see it. car break ins mar urban landscapes as common as pigeons. do you need me to go on?
and no one does anything. it’s barely even comment-worthy any more.
just stop for a moment and realize how far from normal that is.
inch by inch and step by step, we have lost our way. no one straw seemed so great as to demand opposition, but the whole of the hay wain has become a crushing weight.
and we are collapsing beneath it.
now stop for a moment and ask: where will this be in 5 years?
let’s not go there
normalizing this is not normal.
no one who asks you to normalize it is normal.
and it’s clear that government cannot or will not fix this.
they seem determined to make it worse and therefore the torpor of waiting for them to come and do a job that is in actuality ours must be shaken off.
the notion that this is their role and not ours must be overcome.
until it is, nothing can change.
consider this video:
there’s a lot going on here. apparently, the setup is that the angry guy got on the train and started berating passengers and demanding aggressively and with much shouting and some shoving that they “make way” for him and his kids. (yeah, this charmer had kids with him)
a woman tells him to chill. his kids repeat it. he rounds upon her, gets in her face, and dares her to say it again. perhaps her doing so was ill advised, but it was brave. she alone on this train car seemed willing to stand up for some sort of basic sanity and civility and she alone was willing to put herself on the line. and in the end, it was just words and not even rude ones.
then he hits her. right in the side of the head. and it turns out the girl can take a punch. she’s still standing tough and he’s still raging around accusing everything and everyone of racism and not minding their business.
this guy would berate a parking meter.
so what now? what’s supposed to happen?
because in most societies in most of history that guy would be about to get a serious butt kicking from the men in the room. everyone always wants to make this about racism or privilege or some kind of claim about socialization but this is not about race or rage or some other trumped up excuse or angle. that’s a sideshow.
this is about the basic idea that you do NOT get to just go around tearing into and punching people (especially women) like that and that we do not want to live in a society where people do this. it does not and should not matter who you are. is that really such a complex idea?
“i do not care who you are or what aggrievement you profess, you don’t get to punch peaceful people in the head on the train. that’s not acceptable behavior.”
does this seem like some sort of civilizational “stretch goal?”
because to me it seems like the sort of basic civility that a sound society should rise as a reflex to defend.
but does anyone move a muscle? nope. does anyone stand with her? nope. not one person. not the person filming. not anyone.
reflex response: negative.
and i think that’s a problem.
i am not in favor of aggressive violence against peaceful people. this is what we all should strive to avoid. it’s why we want civilization. but this guy is clearly not a peaceful person.
and most of us do not want to live in a society riven by violence and threats of violence.
and so we come to some hard questions:
can anyone not capable or willing to be violent truly be called “peaceful”?
or are they just cowed?
and is cowed any way to live?
can any society unable or unwilling to protect itself or to stand by those who would protect it have any reasonable expectation of peace?
or is it just easy prey for the vicious or unstable who will be encouraged by its lassitude?
the law will do nothing here. even were he arrested, he’d be out in minutes with zero bail and be right back at whatever this is he’s doing. that seems to be the new-new thing. worse, it will probably come down hard on anyone who tries to stand against this sort of predation.
we’re not going to get any peace from that quarter.
and so perhaps we must consider how we may help ourselves.
and so here perhaps lies foremost question:
could this have been avoided peacefully by the people involved without forcing them to accept having to live in fear on the subway?
perhaps it could.
what would have happened had 3 other people on the train stood up shoulder to shoulder with the brave young woman and said “she’s right, sir. please just calm down.”?
might that simple show of unity in support of civility have stopped the escalation? it might well have. it’s a lot scarier to act out against the many than the one. maybe it fails, but at least it’s a chance.
but we have become a society where no one wants it to be their problem.
they sit in shameful silence, look down, and hope it passes them by or stand filming the whole fracas so they can post it online and say “jeez, can you believe how messed up this is?”
and as a result it becomes everyone’s problem.
and as a result we become a problematic society.
so what now?
“Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”
it seems to me that we have 2 choices:
get used to living like this
do something about it
and i, for one, hate choice number 1.
the simple fact is that a society that cannot or will not defend itself is defenseless. it therefore not only allows but invites attack.
in most historical (and many contemporaneous) human societies, no one would have attacked a woman in public like this because they knew what would happen to them. if you know that the people around you will not stand for this, you don’t do it.
people act this way now because they know that the people around them will do nothing.
there is no price for acting badly so it runs riot.
and so we come upon a hard truth:
there can be no peace through weakness, apathy, and dependence.
and so a society that has lost its taste for violence will soon be fed far more of it than anyone can swallow.
and its cowards will die 1000 deaths alone and wishing things were different.
i wish there were some gentler fact here and would be happy to hear one put forward.
but just what would that be?
we’re seeing this sort of invasive imposition of threat, taking, and terrorizing theatrics everywhere right now.
everyone just pretends this is not awful, that it’s not harassing and disgusting and violent and that somehow brazen mass robbery of stores posted on the internet is fine.
but it’s not fine, is it?
they keep stretching “normal” to fit this because they are afraid to act and each new capitulation makes the next one easier.
it’s a society of children waiting for dad to come settle this.
but daddy’s not coming. possibly, he’s playing against us.
it did not used to be like this.
it does not have to be like this now.
and in time honored fashion, if we want it to change, we’re going to need to change this ourselves.
it starts with us
society is not yelling for authority to come settle squabbles. society is setting them to rights internally. that’s community and shared culture. we have been set at odds with one another in a fashion that is tearing our social fabric and we, not someone else, not the state, are the ones who must repair the fissure.
it is our society.
it is our duty.
THAT is what we need to normalize, not this dystopian derangement of “mostly peaceful burnings of downtown” and subways used as madhouses and decriminalized daylight robbery and beatings.
sure, it sounds rough, but consider the alternative.
how’s that working out?
consider the possibility that the fact that it sounds rough is why this is happening in the first place as appeasement invites aggression.
you can have a society where it’s OK for the men on the train to step in and stop a guy who hits a stranger like this or you can have a society where guys like señor charming above get to hit women on the subway with impunity. and will. and you can live in fear and silent, simmering, hangdog shame.
you can stand by the brave ones and help, or you can leave them to fend alone. and perhaps they will stop bothering.
sure, that woman took a punch in the head, but of everyone on that train, she’s the only one that can go to bed that night not feeling like a coward.
is that worth something?
it seems like it should be.
i’m not sure there’s really any middle ground and utopian appeals to “just government harder” seem to be failing and carry with them all manner of problem and risk.
and that leaves it to us.
this is not an invitation to some sort of rampant unaccountable vigilantism. obviously, one can take such things too far and some have done so for reasons good and reasons bad in the past, but like most “goldilocks zone” issues one can also fail to take these things far enough and it certainly seems like that’s exactly what we are currently doing.
the state cannot set such rules with sufficient nuance and knowledge of every emerging happenstance to handle our lives and interactions and in any event you really, truly do not want to live beneath a leviathan that has this sort of power.
a successful society must see to itself.
that’s our job and a certain amount of license must be granted and responsibility accepted in order for us to do so.
sure, freedom and emergent order can be a little messy but it’s not like what we’re doing now is working or mess-less.
there is no perfect. there are trade-offs toward human flourishing.
i mean, seriously, did someone have a better idea?
like rights, you get to keep the society you’ll fight for and only that society you’ll fight for.
the opposite of helpless is helping one another..
no one of us can change the world, but each one of us can change that little bit of the world around us.
where will you draw the line and stand up?