The will to power, exemplified
Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times today, offers a refreshingly honest view of "slutgate", moral equivalency, and double standards. It is, in fact, a bold statement of what we’ve always imagined the Progressive view is, though they have, in the past, been ever so careful not to admit it. It is, frankly, nice to see such honesty. As Mr. Fish explains:
Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.
There you have it. Conservatives are evil, progressives are good. It follows, therefore, that because progressives are good, then what they do in combating conservatives is right. Conservatives, being evil, deserve no respect and no attempts at courteous disagreement. They deserve nothing more than to be driven from the public sphere by any necessary means. Progressives are good, and if they commit what would otherwise be questionable acts, it is only the depravity of their political opponents that drives them to it.
Make no mistake: If the Stanley Fishes of this country could imprison you for holding contrary political beliefs, they’d do it in a second. After all, you are "on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy". This is, of course, justification for a tyranny of the very worst sort. As C.S. Lewis pointed out:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Progressivism, for all its puffing about equality and justice, is nothing more than totalitarianism cloaked in modern, politically-correct pieties.
It’s nice to see a progressive honestly admit it.
The thing is, it is not possible to have a sustainable, self-governing polity when a substantial portion of the electorate denies the fundamental morality or legitimacy of their opponents. The ultimate outcome of such a belief in a society has historically been an inevitable slide to civil unrest, resulting in either totalitarian repression, civil war, or dissolution into competing states.
I am increasingly beginning to wonder which of those three outcomes is most likely in our case.