The silly thing about these signs is of course that no sensible person could disagree with any of the sentiments they espouse, taken prima facie. Who would seriously suggest that black lives don’t matter, or a fortiori that love is not love?
Kindness is, of course, not everything *really.* But no one takes those who post such signs to mean seriously that it is. They rather take them to mean that kindness is basic to human relations, which of course is trivially true.
But then, everyone knows that these signs signal acquiescence to the Party Line of the day. Everyone knows, e.g., that “Love is Love” means that homosexuality is *not materially different* from heterosexuality; and that “Black Lives Matter” means that black lives matter more than other sorts of lives, at least for the foreseeable future. Everyone knows, in other words, that these signs mean, “don’t scapegoat me, I’m not odd, I cleave to the Party Line.”
Paradoxically, the first sign above can be taken, in practical terms, to mean: “Loot me,” and the second can be taken likewise to mean, “Tax me.”
Of course, once everyone has signaled political correctness by posting one or more of these placards, their value as indices of political correctness will vanish. At that point, some other, additional sign will be needed; then another, and then, another. To be effective, signs of political obedience will have to involve greater and greater sacrifices. That curve terminates at your willing sacrifice of your own children.
It’s the same with inflation of currency, grades, university degrees, and all manner of other things that function as signs. The more there are of any of them, the less valuable they are. This is especially so for signs that indicate conformity, such as the placards above. The problem is inherent in the logic of the signal they are intended to send. Amplifying the signal says, “I am way more conformist than the run of the mill.” It says, i.e., “I am abnormally normal.” In a culture ruled by a cult that scapes goats, standing out from the crowd in any way is dangerous. If one signals conformity too strongly, or too weakly, or in any other way that seems odd or off, one gives the suspicious appearance of testifying falsely. Being noticeably unusual can lead to being selected as the scapegoat of the two minute hate; to doxing, cancelation, ostracism, banishment.
This is why the Overton Window must move always inexorably Left, albeit gradually; why Zippy’s Hegelian Mambo tends ever leftward. It is also why Leftism is autophagous in the long run, as unsustainable.
When I see these kinds of signs I know a retarded bigot resides within who has had a lobotomy.
That is a whole lot of believing. The first sign is just garbage. I don’t understand how anyone can buy into it. Probably why I am not a propagandaist. The second one gives me pause – just how much stuff am I signing up for? On the face of it, they all look entirely reasonable, but in today’s political climate I would be leary of agreeing to any of them because I am afraid of what the true believers will try and tack onto them. ‘If you support women’s right, you must support wombat rights, they have the same root.’
Pingback: Green Grocer Placards, circa 2020 | Reaction Times
I would say these slogans are gnostic, since they have an exoteric and esoteric meaning. As you say, the exoteric meaning is trivially true, and therefore unobjectionable. The esoteric meaning known to initiates is, on the other hand, highly objectionable. Thus we know the people who post these signs are wolves in sheep’s clothing. As you know, the gnostics projected their practice of exoteric and esoteric meanings on to other people, and therefore read things like the Christian gospels as a coded message. We see the same projection when Leftists call a slogan like “Keep America Great” a fascist “dog-whistle.” No disrespect intended, but most people who like the slogan KAG are not smart enough to understand an exoteric and esoteric meaning. This is another aspect of the projection you were recently trying to explain to a.morphous.
I would however add the further point that most of the people who are smart enough to understand an esoteric and an exoteric meaning are not smart enough to understand how to clean out a P trap or replace a switch, or any of a thousand other things that most of those who urge us unironically to Keep America Great know how to do. Which sort of knowledge is more likely to ground a man in understanding of the way the world actually works? The question answers itself.
It just so happens that I’m sitting at home, shivering, waiting for the furnace repairman to come. I took one look at the manual and saw that it was far too esoteric to me. And misinterpretation of this text could burn my house down!
Don’t feel too bad. I once struggled to get a hot water heater going, and finally had to give up and call a specialist. He came and flipped a switch I had overlooked. That was all it took. Never in life had I felt like such an idiot. I apologized for my stupidity. He said one of the best things another man has ever said to me: “Don’t beat yourself up. No one can know everything.” At that, I stopped recriminating myself. It was a huge relief.
Think of it this way: you still *have* the manual, can *find it,* thought that *perhaps you should look at it,* and then *reached an informed conclusion.* That puts you way ahead of the competition in the manliness department. I have the impression that most people pay no attention whatever to any manual. I have several times had tradesmen who just installed this or that appliance execute a perfect double take when I asked them for the manual. And I know for a fact that about, oh, 5% of my success in finance is due to the fact that I am the sort of nerd who reads the manual for Excel, for HP financial calculators, and so forth.
Manuals are terrific – provided they are written by native Anglophones. Otherwise, they are palmary exemplars of the brakes the Almighty intended to put on our hubris when at Babel he confused our tongues.
A generalization: if you don’t know how to put x into practice, you don’t understand x, and your notions about x are almost certain to be woefully – perhaps fatally – mistaken.
A MAGA hat and the signs have very similar functions, but there’s nothing esoteric about either. They express some platitude that nobody could disagree with, but also are tribal markers, signs that the displayer is part of a group and if you don’t like it, you are not One of Us. The define a group and repel outsiders.
Everybody basically knows this, so disputing over the literal meaning of the statements is either disingenuous or just dumb.
I find it interesting that you think the only reason to display such symbols is out of fear or “acquiescence to the party line”. That obviously can happen in some cases, but why is it so out of the question that people display such things out of sincere belief, or to signal their desire for affiliation with people who share those sincere beliefs? Is it so hard for you to imagine people actually believing these extremely mild sentiments and wanting to promote them?
I don’t think people who wear MAGA hats are doing it out of acquiescence, they are doing it to show their affiliation with a particular group, and to piss off other groups. And I suppose a sincere belief in the merits and abilities of Donald Trump, though I confess that is something beyond my imagination.
[ My new rule: comment only when I can say something non-partisan. Please note the above is almost entirely symmetrical with respect to the culture-war divide. ]
These are all good points, a.morphous, and I value them. They ought all to be borne ever in mind. We must all, always, remember that enforcement of group protocols is what any culture must do if it is to last for more than a few hours. Every culture, every group does it, and must. That sort of thing is not in itself anywise problematic. And every group must define itself in distinction to those outside it. There is no problem with that, in itself. You won’t find any orthosphereans who deprecate patriotism.
The problems arise when the group norms thus enforced are or intend evil.
I feel quite sure that those who now post such signs as the latter above do so out of sincerity, and not out of some desire to avoid penalty. There is after all no such penalty out there at present to be feared, that they might suffer. To post such a sign these days requires less intestinal fortitude than would be needed to post a sign professing belief in apple pie or motherhood.
Motherhood is these days after all deeply problematic, and anyone who advocates it is probably a Nazi; apple pie, somewhat less so, yet still almost as suspicious as mounting an American flag or wearing a cross would be.
About such signs as the former above, I am less sure. It seems to me that many of the businesses who post such signs on their premises or their websites are hoping thereby to avert the wrath of the mob. They do of course really believe black lives matter – as who doesn’t? – but, that belief being in itself so anodyne, what would be the point of posting a placard in evidence thereof, were there no danger in failing to do so?
I mean, come on: saying black lives matter is like saying the sky is blue. Only idiots would suggest to the contrary. There are to be sure hateful, racist signs here and there saying that it is OK to be white. People who post those seditious placards – probably all those horrible white people who believe that their sort ought to be allowed to live – well, they obviously ought to be destroyed, right?
Are there any signs posted, anywhere at all, saying that it is not OK to be black?
No. Of course there are not. But there is this, never anywhere criticized by the authorities:
There is no chance that such a sentiment publicly expressed might result in any penalty, of any sort. So such sentiments are within the pale. They are, precisely, *not impolite.* That is to say that they are polite. And that is to say that they are the sort of way that it is proper to behave. You can run the inferences from that point for yourself. Only a fool could err in so doing.
This was of course one of my main points in the post: the literal meaning of the sentiments is not the point of the placards, just as “Workers of the World, Unite” was not the actual point of the placard Havel saw his local green grocer posting in his shop window. You got that, right? Maybe not.
My understanding of these slogans is similar to a.morphous’s. They all annoy me because they are dishonest rhetoric, highlighting a proposition that is not the disputed point (either because it is uncontroversial or because it is too vague to be meaningfully argued) but acting like it is. Democracy seems to incentivize this sort of dishonesty, so that all parties end up adopting it. This might not be so bad if politics hadn’t become so ubiquitous.
Slogans do little to add value to political discourse. Didn’t someone here write an article that involved Winston Smith’s wife and how her head was full of meaningless slogans? They are purely tribal identifiers.
Which, likewise, is why Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, gave us aspirational prayers, which are brief and memorable. It serves the same purpose: Tribal affiliation, self-programming, and belief reinforcement.
I’ve been rambling for some time in my space about cultivating a Peasant Faith. The dichotomy I draw is between Peasants and Theologians, and any sufficiently large organization will have both. Peasants don’t need to understand politics, but they do want to know who their countrymen are and whether strangers hail from a friendly country or not. Slogans function to reinforce this dynamic among the “peasantry”. And they form the new aspiration prayers for the modern church of the world.
For the theologians, a different mechanism. Theologians can understand the political dynamics, the lofty tomes, and the philosophical theories underpinning everything. The Church controls for the presence of Theologians by having a Magisterium, which represents a corpus of orthodox thought, which makes identifying heretical theologians very easy. Modern society doesn’t have a magisterium, but our constitution and corpus of laws comes very close. The left has a thorough dominion over academia–the seminaries of secular theologians; as such their thought fills the gaps in the ramshackle american magisterium. That allows them also to identify modern political heretics who diverge from the actual magisterium and their interpretation of it.
The phenomenon of Trump highlighted their inability to permanently control the magisterium, and emboldened formerly heretical “theologians”. This also explains the sudden and swift appearance of slogans among the peasantry, because it makes it hard on the Theologian class when the mob is after them.
I think slogans add a great deal to any discourse. They are condensation symbols. John 3:16 is all Christianity condensed to sentence, and “John 3:16” is a slogan that condenses that sentence. There are certainly many false and fatuous slogans, but a good slogan takes us to the very heart of things without any fuss and bother.
I agree they are useful but they don’t provide any new information. Someone who says John 3:16 isn’t making a new observations. Lovers of Monty Python can quote entire scenes from their work, gasping with laughter, but that doesn’t make them comedians. Likewise being able to quote slogans doesn’t make one a keen political observer, only a sponge for slogans. It is useful in that tribal sense, identifying interlocutors as friend or foe, but for all their words they aren’t saying anything.
New information is usually interesting only in the trivial sense of novel. If I know a man’s true motto, I know most of what I need to know about that man. He can go on to provide new information, such as his shoe size or birthday, but this new information is always trivial. I believe books are governed by the same law of diminishing returns. When you have read the introduction, you know at least eighty percent of what there is to know about that book. Whole philosophies can be reduced to aphorisms and proverbs.
That is true but not what I am talking about (the error is mine for sloppy rhetoric). If I am trying to tell you about my profession, accounting, I could quote an aphorism about the profession (“Debits on the left, Credits on the right”). I have told you plenty about myself as a man, which is of course useful, but I have not told you anything about accounting (unless you already know something about accounting–but that knowledge you brought yourself and did not get from me).
Communication means that I have to convey meaning and you must receive the same meaning. Slogans perform that signaling function, but do not convey any useful information about the topic under consideration. When I am talking to people, I am naturally receiving information about the people I am talking to, but I am also talking about some subject. This is what I mean when I say slogans are not providing any new information. When a speaker, in speaking, tells you more about themselves than the subject they are speaking about, that is I believe what we would call “empty speech”. They are talking just to talk. You wrote an article some time ago referring to this i think as “babbling”.
I think slogans are terribly honest. That’s one reason I don’t display them myself. I seldom see something and think, I need to put that in my yard, or on my bumper or tee shirt. But when I do, I suspect that, if I did display the slogan, I would reveal something I’d rather keep secret.
I don’t deny that the right has slogans that serve as shibboleths and tag their turf. In fact, the turf tagging is more overt among the pugnacious right-wingers. Right-wing sign: “This is Trump Country.” Left-wing sign: “This house is . . .” And there is no question that right-wingers do way more saber-rattling with their “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Come and Get It,” and frequent allusions to the size of their gun cabinet. But there are interesting differences in the rhetoric that map onto differences in typical personality types on the L & R. We notice that here at the Orthosphere because we do not have typical right-wing personalities. I would say the that many right-wing slogans are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” In other words, sheer bluster. Left-wing slogans, on the other hand, have a unique iron-fist-in-the-velvet-glove quality. Right wingers are not nearly so fierce as they would like you to believe they are (and as they believe themselves to be). Left-wingers are not nearly so nice.
“No human is illegal”. Really?
They don’t even believe their lies. The beginning of wisdom is cognitive dissonance. The slogans on this list are enough to deafen all but the brain dead. They are all lies when uttered by a leftist.
At the end of the day, these mendacious memes are part and parcel to the egalitarian menace meant, ultimately, to filter out those who literally reject these “shit test” slogans.
All “black lives” DO NOT really “matter” (to any particular individual).
Women’s rights ARE NOT “human rights” (because the girls are left out in the cold).
Some humans are “illegal” (especially racists).
Science is NOT REAL (it’s fake and ghey as the kids will say).
Love is NOT “love” (as JMSmith has articulated).
And of course, kindness is literally not everything (coarseness is something the radical truly embraces).
In other words, these slogans serve the practical effect of “correctly” identifying legitimate scapegoats as the constant wave of radicals violently and stealthily force these “shit tests” into public sphere.
Speaking of signs, have any of you had to include “your pronouns” on your email signatures. I’m about to either do that or lose my job, and I find that I am absolutely enraged. If I had any financial backup, if my husband were well, if I was anywhere close to being within retirement target range.
My spiritual director says that these liberation types are oppressing me, that I am the oppressed, not them, and that secretaries shouldn’t have to be the ones to risk their necks. Well, then where are the professors? Where is someone to lead us? It would be better if there were some billionaires on our side, but here aren’t. So could the professors take a lead? Or is it going to take some other Norma Rae on this — workers shouldn’t have to surrender their native language in order to make a living. Something like that.
I’m sorry but I’m so angry I just don’t know…. My husband says that “my preferred pronouns” just happen to be the pronouns that any sane person would use of me anyway, so if my employer is throwing their (anti) righteous fit about it, why not? But I say that if I do this, then I’m joining in with the madness. And if I weren’t 100 percent more conservative than they think I am, then I’d still be a TERF and proud of it. Someone’s going to have to fight back somehow someway.
Bless you, Nell. Patience, my dear. It is important to pick your battles. This does not seem to me to be a hill worth dying on. If they insist that you identify yourself, just tell them you are Mrs. Perkins, period full stop – however that can be parsed into their online form. That should bring them up short. Insist that you be addressed as Mrs. Perkins. If they challenge you on that, then it would seem that you might have grounds for a massive employment discrimination lawsuit.
Or, just for chuckles, you could insist that you be addressed as She Who Must Be Obeyed. Or Chuckles the Clown. Or Zagreb the Infinite. You get the gist here.
Humor goes a long way. “But he’s naked!”
The trick is to use the Enemy’s own stratagems against him, whenever possible. So, for example, if you are forced to identify your ethnicity, specify that you are English. Or whatever you are (I extrapolated from Perkins). That ruins the accounting of the Enemy; it introduces noise to the machine of the Father of Noise; it messes up his database.
I like to identify my ethnicity as Swedish. Or N/A.
Whatever happens, don’t let the stratagems of the Enemy drive your emotions. If that happens, he has won. Laugh at him. He hates that.
If by the manner of your compliance you make it obvious that the order to which you comply is just absurd, why then you’ve executed a perfect rhetorical evisceration. So doing, you’ll have done the best that you could reasonably do, under the circumstances.
Thank you. They aren’t totally humorless, but like any bully, humor at their expense, which is what this would be, would be immediately flagged as racist, and cisgender privilege, transphobic misogyny. It wasn’t that long ago that I was required to give my advice (exercise in asking the lower orders and then ignoring it) on advancing the Movement for Black Lives. I humbly suggested recruiting white people by exploring how often white people are suffering the same fates black people are, which prompted my boss to angrily snap that I was coming too damn close to saying all lives matter. I think that kind of sums up what she’s like. Anyway, thank you, but overnight I realized that I have to go with my husband’s plan. Either that or help him with his cane into our new life in the ditches.
You could resist humorously, but your enemies are humorless and would count this against you. It would be hard to pull off, but you could say that you have always felt that your individuality was diminished by pronouns, so you’d like to take this opportunity to exempt yourself from them. Your email signature would then read: Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Perkins’ (or Mrs. Perkins’s). But I have a feeling your husband is giving you the best advice. You are not kissing the ring of Satan if you list the pronouns you were assigned at birth.
Just so. To tell the plain truth – even on his own HR form – just is to repudiate Satan.
Pingback: Love is Not Love – The Orthosphere