trading rights for safety
failure to rotate shapes is how you get cornered
“the ends justify the means.”
i’m not sure there is a more blood soaked epigram in all of human history.
“we did bad stuff to get good outcomes.”
it’s the rock upon which logic and golden rules founder and against which fearful people clamor to smash themselves and their rights to flinders in pursuit of “a little safety.”
it defends the outrages of demagogues and the depredations of dictators.
it’s WHY states and statists conjure endless cavalcades of hobgoblins to terrorize the demos.
and not all of them are imaginary.
“we don’t care if it’s mussolini so long as the streets are safe and the trains run on time!”
this seems a far fetched sort of submission right after the outlandish object lesson of covid policy and its wanton abuse of emergency powers, but humans never really learn anything and seem eternally ready to step once more upon the selfsame rake that oh so recently hit them in the face, especially if “well, this time, it’s our rake.”
you get a charismatic leader with “big plans” and everything else goes out the window because the easiest way to get people to give their liberty away is in a situation where they like the outcome of doing so and where the first use of the newfound powers is against someone they dislike.
and this is why the gushing over bukele makes me nervous.
look how quickly “rounding up the undesirables without trial or process” becomes popular again.
i see this and mostly what i see is:
or maybe this:
and yet watch how people shrill to join in and wish that “we could have this here.”
(from the comments on the cheong story above)
and then remember how, no so very long ago, it was almost you being taken off to camps.
and the powerful people who advocated this and will certainly do so again.
that nauseous feeling you’re getting in your stomach?
yeah, that’s the shape rotating.
we may dislike bukele’s enemies.
they may be criminals and predators.
we may like safety and law and order.
we may even agree that our own criminal system has become a pastiche of a clownshow designed to terrify the innocent and liberate the awful.
but is the answer really “arbitrary powers of arrest and indefinite detention?” because that’s a pretty scary road, amigos.
and it’s one we may well be being pushed down.
this always seems most poignant in extreme situations.
“well, the problem was just SO large that we had to do SOMETHING.”
seems reasonable enough.
but consider what this means for those who want power:
it means the road to get there is LARGE PROBLEMS that panic people and make them unsafe and unsettled.
and the funny thing about “ends justify the means” sorts of “problem solvers” is they feel just the same about ways of putting themselves up upon authoritarian perches.
so guess what they produce?
bukele did not make the problems in el salvador, but consider the possibility that the power hungry would happily do so if it paved their path to rule.
consider the possibility that the desire to make US cities so much more dangerous could be seen as a means to make their inhabitants so fearful and desperate for change and safety that they would surrender rights and accept a strongman/dictator to get it.
defund the police, let rioters roam, squatters squat, and vandals vandalize.
it seems like madness.
but what if there is method to it?
what if the whole end goal of refusing to prosecute crimes, legalizing stealing, protecting those who act badly, and prosecuting any who try to stop them is to get people to say "constitution constishmushion, i just want the streets to be safe!" and welcome demagogues and tyrants to power?
this has happened before.
it can happen again.
it's an old and time honored playbook:
frightened, threatened people give up rights to buy safety but their new "protectors" have a funny way of using the same rights violations again to attack political enemies and entrench themselves.
and then they turn on those who elevated them.
be careful what you lionize.
the power to abrogate rights "because emergency" can be used upon you just as easily as it can be used upon anyone else.
and those who crave such power are generally not good people.
and they do not keep their promises.
idi amin was once popular too.
he brought education and safety.
then he brought the other things.
it’s always the same game.
and if you want more power, well, you just need a bigger emergency.
so you break things to create it.
this is being played all over.
global government for climate and for pandemics.
if they can just make it awful enough, doing the unthinkable will become popular.
hitler and mussolini were elected generally and by wide margins. so was FDR. people WANTED them. they begged to trade rights for safety.
and they did.
and inevitably, the exchange rate was awful and nobody got either.
and an awful lot of them sounded an awful lot like this.
“the ends justify the means.”
so look, obviously, bukele is a polarizing example because that which he has opposed was really odious and dangerous and societally damaging.
no one wants to be “pro-murderous drug cartel.”
but remember when they said the same about “the unvaxxed’?
the people braying for “justice” thought they were right and on the side of angels too.
what if they had gotten their way?
“let’s get good people to do bad things just for a little while” is not a playbook with a history of success.
it’s the train tracks to tyranny, contrived to trap you in false trade offs that give the game away.
break the construct, not the republic.