The Motive Urge of the Leftward Ratchet: No Pain, No Gain

Virtue signalling – in sharp contrast to virtuous behavior – is free. You get what you pay for. A sacrifice that costs you little gains you little. So the virtue signalers have to keep at it. They cannot ever rest.

18 thoughts on “The Motive Urge of the Leftward Ratchet: No Pain, No Gain

  1. Pingback: The Motive Urge of the Leftward Ratchet: No Pain, No Gain | Reaction Times

    • I wouldn’t say so either, except that I already know that many who claim to be on the right are actually on the left. They might not *know* they are on the left, but they are on the left nevertheless. I personally have lots of first hand experiences with the phenomenon, so I’m not just talking out my hind parts.

      • The earth is tilted on its axis 23 1/2 degrees *towards the plane of its orbit* around the central body in the solar system. We can all agree on that because of our shared frame of reference. All of us, that is, who are not flat earthers. There are always and invariably the flat earthers out there no matter what. They are kind of a pain and all that, but they always exist in any case. We tend to ignore them as much as possible because of course their pet theory is nonsensical.

  2. Aristotle I believe had the axiom that ‘To acquire a virtuous quality one must do virtuous things’. Since these folks are not doing virtuous things, they must perpetually remind people that they are virtuous. I think I can see a path to Tyranny here: They are not virtuous, but demand to be treated as if they are, and disagreeing is ‘offensive’ because you violate their self image.

  3. Virtue-signaling, a variety of self-righteousness, is a performance. As a performance, virtue-signaling requires, absolutely requires, an audience. The virtue-signaler less concerns herself with the party whom she conveniently shames than she concerns herself with being a center-of-attention for others who observe her in shaming the more-or-less arbitrarily selected target of her ire and who heartily approve, or admire, her self-righteousness. The observers share the accuser’s attitude of self-righteousness. It is the case, however, that those who observe and approve the virtue-signaler’s self-righteousness also envy her moral salience, which they wish to imitate, or better yet to outdo, so that each one of them might be, herself, if only transiently, the center of moral approval. Notice that in this scheme, the targets of shame have the status of a throw-away. The virtue-signaler, as the Marxists like to say, commodifies the shaming-target by making of him a mere prop in a display. That is to say, in order, from the perspective of her observers, to appear as fully human, i.e. as perfectly righteous, the virtue-signaler necessarily dehumanizes her target. It is a public sacrifice — in the sense of a lynching, not of the askesis of an ego. The virtue-signaler’s ascent to moral prominence requires therefore the obliteration of humanity in the target. Because the observers of the performance react to it mimetically, virtue-signaling has a contagious quality: It spreads itself like a disease.

    • Brilliant, Tom, thanks; a book’s worth in a single paragraph.

      And, aye, indeed, yes: to scape a goat, you need first a goat. The empty costless signal of virtue cannot begin until someone is found lower than the self-righteous scaper of goats. A Low Man, as Zippy called him must be discovered and named, so that the shaming can begin, and then the ostracism, and then the banishment.

    • Here is a link to a “story” that perfectly illustrates what you are describing, Dr. Bertonneau.:

      I happen to know a little bit about this case, and the persons it affected. The original virtue signaler/scapegoater in this particular case was the police officer. The case was subsequently, and more or less summarily, thrown out of court by the (level-headed) judge assigned to the case (thank God for level-headed judges!), because it was based on complete and utter bunk all around. Nothing in the “story” is as the officer makes it seem, in other words. Unfortunately it didn’t get thrown out soon enough, or before the “story” got picked up by the national news media and all the virtue signaling warts on Facebook and in the various comboxes dehumanized the family and promoted the original scapegoater to sainthood.

      Of course that latter was his goal when he alerted the media to begin with. His performance in the interview is classic virtue signaling, complete with “genuine concern” for the flea bitten, ant bitten, mud-covered mute little tyke.

    • One of the things I constantly (almost obsessively) reiterate with my kids who have their own families now is that they must always be aware of the world we all live in, and conduct themselves accordingly. That is to say, evil lurks *everywhere* and all around us. It often (very often, indeed) comes in the form of ‘Wolves in sheep’s clothing.’


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