The Deplorable Word

“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the other harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart.” 

President Joseph Biden, Inaugural Address (January 21, 2021)

Not every man has the audacity to denounce invidious rhetoric in a sentence where he also deploys that rhetoric.  “Racism,” “nativism” and “fear” are demonizing terms, as are “harsh,” “ugly” and “torn.”  The purpose of these terms is to exclude a rival from the forum of public debate with slander and defamation. It is to declare that these are questions on which reasonable men cannot disagree.

Jefferson wrote his deplorable line to affirm that an Englishmen did not forfeit the rights of an Englishmen because he happened to reside in Virginia rather than Nottinghamshire.  There was, to be sure, a cloud of Masonic perfume around the Declaration of Independence, but the “men” whose equality Jefferson declared were propertied Englishmen who just happened to reside outside of England.  A transatlantic Englishman of property was, he declared, equal to a cisatlantic Englishman of property.  Because the British Empire violated this principle, and cumbered transatlantic Englishmen of property with legal disabilities, it was not treasonous for those transatlantic Englishmen of property to declare their independence from the British Empire.

The Declaration of Independence was not, in other words, a declaration of war on every form of inequality, and it was only afterwards retconned into the democratic manifesto that our President vaguely imagines it to be.

It is worthwhile to ask why it was so easily retconned.  Some of the answer is that cloud of Masonic perfume.  We must remember that the Declaration was not written to inform King George that his American colonies were breaking away.  It was written to assure the King of France and British Whigs that the War for Independence was not a revolution.  Jefferson splashed on the Masonic perfume, perhaps a little too lavishly, to allay the fears of European powers that American Independence would set a dangerous precedent and inspire other revolutions.

Although it did, as the King of France very shortly discovered.

The problem was the deplorable word equality.  Readers of the Magician’s Nephew will recall “the Deplorable Word.”  This was a single word that, if spoken, would destroy everything but the speaker of that word.  This word was discovered and spoken by Queen Jadis, in the course of a war over the throne, with the promised result that all but Queen Jadis was destroyed.  Here is how she described it to the children Diggory and Polly.

“It had long been known to the great Kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it.  But the ancient Kings were weak and soft-hearted, and bound themselves and all who should come after them with great oaths never to seek after knowledge of that word.  But I learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it.  I did not use it until she forced me to use it.”

Equality is a deplorable word that, when spoken with proper ceremonies to make it an “ideal,” destroys all living things including the one who spoke it.  Equality is the universal social solvent that cannot be put back into the bottle, so the argument that transatlantic English gentlemen of property were created equal to cisatlantic English gentlemen of property became, in time, the argument that transsexual American teenagers with athletic ambitions were created equal to cissexual American teenagers with athletic ambitions.  It’s the American ideal, and only dastardly demons from Hell will say otherwise.

We all must confess to having spoken the deplorable word—to having used just a drop of the universal solvent to break down some social barrier that offended our pride or thwarted our ambition.  To pile metaphor on metaphor, we have all been party crashers who soon thereafter objected to having our party crashed.  But once you “break down a barrier” it stays broken down, and there is absolutely no limit to the numbers who can follow you through that breach.

If American history is, as President Biden believes, the progressive actualization of the ideal of equality, then America is a communist country.  That is our telos because equality is the deplorable word that destroys everything.  It does not act so rapidly as the deplorable word used by Queen Jadis, but it comes to the same thing in the end.

“And on the earth, in every direction, as far as the eye could reach, there spread a vast city in which there was no living thing to be seen.  And all of the temples, towers, palaces, pyramids, and bridges cast long, disastrous-looking shadows in the light of that withered sun.  Once a great river had flowed through the city, but the water had long since vanished, and it was now only a wide dich of grey dust.”

31 thoughts on “The Deplorable Word

  1. Way too overblown, a hypocrite is a hypocrite, a racist is a racist, and a liar is a lisr. Xiden wasn’t elected and 25,000 troops, drones, and razor wire doesn’t make him an honestly elected president.

  2. Hi, JMSmith: Firstly, I totally that “equality” is destructive and a universal solvent. But, I’m wondering about “all men are created equal.” Over the years I have pondered this statement since it seems so obviously not true. My conclusion has been that it was a rejection of the monarchy, the notion of inherited titles, and literal aristocracies. No baby shall be of high rank, a king, prince, or duke, the instant he exits the womb. There are still social classes, of course, and the Founding Fathers didn’t abolish those. It is still a thing that us immigrants must renounce our claim to inherited titles or even bestowed titles like “Sir.”

  3. I think it was a rejection of a titled aristocracy, but also, and perhaps more urgently, a rejection of their provincial, colonial status. It rankled the colonial elite that they were excluded from government. “No taxation without representation” was the slogan, but the lack of representation was the real beef. But they quickly learned that it is hard to maintain a property requirement for the franchise, since all possible quantities of property are arbitrary.

  4. Pingback: The Deplorable Word | Reaction Times

  5. The purpose of these terms is __exclude__ a rival from the forum of public debate with slander and defamation.

    Yes, that’s correct. Well — not the slander and defamation part, calling a racist racist is not slander. But you are correct that it is intended to exclude certain views from respectable public debate.

    This makes you feel “demonized”; here is Joe Biden saying the country has room for everybody, except you. We are bound together under an ideal, equality, that you hate and deny. That sounds tough, but the status of intolerant thought under a regime of tolerance is a well known problem with its own Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance . Liberalism has to figure out what to do with people like you.

    It’s the American ideal, and only dastardly demons from Hell will say otherwise.

    It (equality) is indeed the American ideal of today, whether or not it was intended by Thomas Jefferson. That’s why I find you folks so fascinating, you are proudly un-American. You probably don’t think of yourself that way, but you are an enemy of actual American values as they stand today.

    It’s not that dissimilar from your more low-brow counterparts of Jan 6 who took part in desecrating the institutions of government and threatened violence to its elected officials, while chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”. They love something they call America, it’s just not the same thing that the rest of us are loyal to.

    The two versions of America are pretty evenly divided electorally, so it’s not like one version of America is right and the other wrong. Rather, the meaning is up for grabs and that is why there is a battle going on.

    • The Left-Liberal bogies are really just like what used to be called red-baiting. Just as there were genuine communists, there are people who hate and seek to harm other races. But the numbers in either case were/are small. A big difference is that communists had power, a plan, and a nuclear ally. I’ve been amusing myself these past few days imagining some disillusioned Republican selling you his tricorn hat and knee britches, and then you walking around in full colonial patriot costume, passing out pocket constitutions. Everyone does it, but it is funny to see how much our respect for offices and institutions depends on who is in and out of office.

    • “so it’s not like one version () is right and the other wrong. Rather, the meaning is up for grabs and that is why there is a battle going on.”
      Amazing.

      • Exactly. There would not be a battle in the first place if it were really true that neither version was either right or wrong; for, in that case, there would be nothing worth fighting for, nor cause of any spirited dispute. The cultural crisis would in that case be just like the dispute between the advocates of Coke and those of Pepsi, and no one would think twice about it, other than to chuckle to each other.

        We of the reaction are as it were the party of Dr. Pepper. Or no: whisky, dark and deep, and cutting. I think I’ll go pour one …

      • I meant “right” in the sense of “a correct description of what America is in its essence”, not morally right or wrong. The point was that neither of these narratives is inherently correct, because a country like America is a complex thing which resists simple description, and its essence, if that means anything, is under construction.

        Political contests are one element of that process of construction. Trump’s election bent the American narrative in one directions; his defeat will bend it in another. Obviously people care deeply about this, but their values and stories are incompatible and thus there must be a fight to see which prevails.

        That’s putting it as neutrally as possible, for the benefit of politeness. If I said what I really feel, it would be more like this: there is a large faction in this country under the grip of a truly odious ideology that is incompatible with civilization, truth, and morality. They are a minority, but due to flaws in the constitution they have outsized political power. Defeating them is essential for human life and civilization to continue.

        Is that spirited enough for you?

      • Do you draw any inference from the fact that we allow you to say that we are “under the grip of a truly odious ideology that is incompatible with civilization, truth, and morality,” while your side, at least, is all about getting people banned, fired, deplatformed, retroactively impeached, torn down, etc.? I personally draw the inference that we are spineless chumps and beautiful losers, but I’d be interested in your opinion. You recently suggested in a comment that you come round here to examine us like bugs under a microscope. And yet we do not ban you. Who exactly is civilized, moral and interested in the truth? I know there are plenty of troglodytes on our side of the divide, but we are not wanting in intelligent and decent human beings.

      • If I said what I really feel, it would be more like this: there is a large faction in this country under the grip of a truly odious ideology that is incompatible with civilization, truth, and morality. They are a minority, but due to flaws in the constitution they have outsized political power. Defeating them is essential for human life and civilization to continue.

        In fairness, that’s what the Right thinks about Leftist ideology, too: that Communism is anti-human, delusional utopian chiliasm, which – as disagreeing with reality – is bound when carried into practice to destroy or degrade everything human that is good.

        The question then becomes, which of the two movies is a closer approximation to reality? Looking at historical results of attempts to implement Leftist ideas in actual political orders along such metrics as economic prosperity, military might, death toll, and civility – as proxied by such things as rule of law, independence of science, openness of discourse, rate of high technological innovation, and so forth – the results of socialist experiments would seem on the whole to favor the finding that the perspective of the Right toward the Left is more correct than that of the Left toward the Right.

      • Kristor–the verdict of history is that Leftism is just spreading necrosis in the body politic. It is a euphemism for decadence. “The preponderance of the mandarins never signified any good, any more than does the advent of democracy, or arbitration instead of war, equal rights for women, the religion of pity, and all the other symptoms of declining life.” Frederich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals (1887)

      • I appreciate that you (mostly) let me post here uncensored. For my part, I try to not be deliberately offensive (because what would be the point) but that last comment of Kristor’s triggered me for some reason.

        I will also say that I’m not that comfortable with deplatforming tactics whether employed by the left or the right. I’m more from the old-school liberal free speech school, exemplified by the ACLU’s defense of the right of Nazis to march in Skokie. This was back in 1978 and times have changed; I’m not quite the free-speech absolutist I used to be. But I still come here to try to engage with you guys rather than trying to get you kicked off the internet, so give me some credit.

        we are not wanting in intelligent and decent human beings.

        Well that is the interesting question; how do intelligent and decent human beings become enmeshed with stupid and indecent ideologies? And how do you un-mesh them?

      • Well that is the interesting question; how do intelligent and decent human beings become enmeshed with stupid and indecent ideologies? And how do you un-mesh them?

        Men are all sinners; that’s why we grow enamored of falsehoods, all of us (Leftists included): sin makes us stupid. And, it’s both easier and more immediately rewarding than virtue; so more tempting. Finally, there are infinitely many more false than true statements; so, falsehood is cheap, and truth relatively expensive. Especially when admission of a truth logically entails the falsification of an entire model of the world, built up over years at great cost.

        But Leftists are atheists, mostly, so they don’t believe in sin or evil – not in any principled, consistent manner, anyway. Taking theism, objective morality, and a conviction of the endemic corruption of human moral nature as ordinary – as, over all of history, they certainly are – that makes Leftists extraordinarily susceptible to the manifold stupidities of sin. Their wits are to that extent disabled. They are then able to entertain seriously such obviously absurd notions as that of central planning, or of price controls, or of the progressive income tax – or, nowadays, as the notions that blacks are all by nature (in which nature there is NB no such thing as race) of their race more virtuous and less blameworthy than the race of whites (of which, there being no such thing as race, there are no such things), that sex is a matter of will, that women are the same as men, and so forth.

        All those notions (and many others), quite obviously and ridiculously counterfactual – and, indeed, mutually contradictory or self-refuting – are honestly believed by millions of otherwise decent, intelligent Leftists and Liberals. They *honestly believe* that if you cut the penis off a man and shoot him up with estrogen, why then, hey presto, he will then be a woman, and it would be “wrong” to treat him otherwise than as such (the scare quotes were needful because “wrong” is on Leftist principle – although not in Leftist practice – a vacuous category (a category that is *not even “wrong”*)). This would all be a funny joke, if it wasn’t so sick – and if it was not now this very moment being institutionalized by our Establishment oppressors as the explicit, formal policy of the United States toward us, its serfs.

        How do you disentangle an insane mind from her delusions? Mostly, you don’t. The mind in question hits bottom in total disaster, and has then no alternative but to seek some alternative. Nothing else seems to work. Because why? Because to the crazed mind, her insanity seems normal, right, apt, true, fit to things as they really are. If it were otherwise, *she’d already be engaged in radical reformation of her basic understandings.*

        Radical philosophical reformation of that sort is what happens with a man when he takes the red pill about this or that aspect of the Leftist Establishment Narrative: the whole thing begins to collapse, like a Potemkin village in a stiff breeze.

        Red pills are generally delivered in the form of some injury by reality – a mugging, say. They are delivered by hitting bottom in some way, or being by it hit.

        But the insane man has not yet hit bottom hard enough to prompt deliberation. He thinks that the people who think him nuts are insane. If he didn’t, why then he’d be sane – or on the road to sanity, anyway.

        The cure for liberal madness of a whole society, then, is just the disaster of Leftist ideas carried into actual policy, with the usual results of poverty, genocide, war, and oppression.

        A.morphous, I didn’t mean to trigger you, at all. What was it in particular that bugged you?

      • A.morphous, I didn’t mean to trigger you, at all. What was it in particular that bugged you?

        Sorry I shouldn’t have used the word “triggered”, which has come to mean “offended”. I wasn’t terribly offended, but your mention of “spirited dispute” moved me to engage in some.

        Leftists extraordinarily susceptible to the manifold stupidities of sin. Their wits are to that extent disabled. They are then able to entertain seriously such obviously absurd notions…

        I recall awhile back I made a collection of things you had said that were obvious falsehoods:
        – The fatality risk from Covid is lass than that from auto accidents (in fact at the time it was 20 times higher)
        – The right does not have a tendency towards political violence (since then we’ve seen a very violent Trumpist mob invade the capital, resulting in several deaths and only through sheer luck not murdering elected officials)
        – Donald Trump makes a suitable President of the United States (nothing else needs to be said)

        To me these are obviously absurd and anybody who asserts them is delusional at best. You feel the same way about progressive income taxes. Given the vast differences in what we take to be obvious, I don’t see much hope of a constructive discussion. Neither of us is capable of affecting the other’s opinions. There’s no way to reconcile them and, as you say, we have to leave it to the processes of history to decide whose worldview prevails.

      • Kristor’s statements are not so obviously false as you say. The Covid Death:Automobile Death ratio is easily adjusted in his favor if correctly measured by years lost to Covid deaths rather than individuals lost to Covid deaths. My rough calculation based on life expectancy at time of death by either cause is 341,000 years to Covid and 1,900,000 years to automobile wrecks. I’m assuming that the average automobile fatality is 49, the median age of drivers. Years lost to Covid are easily calculated with age cohort data and actuarial statistics. I don’t say that your headcount method is wrong, only that the year-count method is at least equally right.

        Politics tends towards violence because politics is war by other means. The Left tends to be more violent because it is younger and because it attracts impulsive and undisciplined individuals, but we have our share of bad boys and loons. I hope you blushed when you wrote “resulting in several deaths.” My understanding is that “several” means four, two by natural causes, and one “brutally murdered by a cop.”

        We live in a glorious democracy, so any man or woman of sufficient age who suits the voters is a suitable President. We get the Presidents we deserve, so every clown and crook who has occupied the office has suited America perfectly. This is like saying your reflection in the mirror does not suit you.

      • To be fair to a.morphous, it would have been better if I had written something like, “for *most people* the risk of death by covid is less than the risk of death by traffic accident.” People who are still young enough to drive – most people – are obviously far likelier to die by traffic accident than those who are too old to drive, and their risk of death from covid – of those in that age cohort who actually get it – is a few basis points. Meanwhile, those too old to drive, and so at essentially zero risk of death in traffic, are the most vulnerable to covid. But the latter group would also soon have been carried off by *something or other* in any case. It is not so easy to show that their age cohort has fared that much worse with respect to mortality in 2020 than in some alternate universe wherein there had been no covid (no way to check that universe (then there’s the problem of which alternate universe to check; some of them would have featured a bacterial plague that killed only and all people over age 70; others would have discovered and implemented a cure for all cancers, blood and circulatory diseases, and dementiae)). I have read in several places that the overall death rate for the US in 2020 was actually a bit *lower* than usual, presumably because the lockdowns seem indeed to have pretty much completely forestalled the regular seasonal flu that would in normal years have killed many of those who last year were killed by covid. I haven’t had even a sniffle since last March.

        My general point was that covid seems to have been exaggerated as a mortality risk for almost everyone we usually see out and about during the day, driving, working, shopping, taking care of kids, and so forth: generating economic goods, i.e. It has been used to justify preventing their doing all those things, thus shutting down their lives, destroying small businesses of every sort, crushing tax revenues, on and on.

        Someday we may learn the truth of all this. We have not learned it yet.

        As for whether the Left or the Right is more prone to violence: O please. Consider the following list, radically abbreviated for the sake of simplicity: Mao; Stalin; Pol Pot; Robespierre. Their death toll adds up to about 50 million. You’ll throw Hitler back at me, but he was a leftist of the nationalist sort, rather than of the Politically Correct Internationale.

        Is the latter day American Right more prone to violence than the latter day American Left? To be sure, there are loons and madmen on the Right, as there are in every slice of the population. But the predominant lawfulness and orderliness of the American Right is obvious. Was it the American Right that burned, vandalized and looted American cities all summer long?

        This only makes sense: the Right wants to *keep* America, her civilization, and her laws. The Right wants to play by Marquess of Queensbury rules, and maintain decorum. The Left wants to destroy all those things. Destruction is essentially violent, ergo etc. So, the Left plays smash mouth politics of personal destruction, riots, burns – and, when it comes to power unconstrained, murders genocidally.

      • “Given the vast differences in what we take to be obvious, I don’t see much hope of a constructive discussion. Neither of us is capable of affecting the other’s opinions.”

        This is at the least the second time you say this on this blog. Yet you come for more. One wonders about your reasons. Or maybe this is the breadth of your generosity?

  6. I also make a distinction between equality of action and equality of condition. Thus it makes sense that the state administer the law equally: to prosecute the murderer of a millionaire as vigorously as the murderer of a street urchin.

    The “equal protection of the law” is essentially an equality of action, or it should be thought of as that. The penalty for killing a black man should be the same as the penalty for killing a white man, ceteris paribus. It is not a writ to assure equal outcomes, unless equal conditions preexist, which is almost never the case.

    The left wants to impose equality of condition, and in doing so it usually undermines the equality of action.

    • I think history shows that line will not hold. Equality under law becomes equalization by law. Equality of civil and political rights becomes equalization of economic rights. If my conditions raise the probability I will break the law, equality under law eventually seems to demand equalization of those conditions.

      • Equality under the law is also itself a liberal bogeyman, never capable of proper implementation without a host of unprincipled exceptions, which is precisely why this is an unstable point to defend.

        And why would we want equality under the law, anyway? I certainly don’t want equality under the law, and neither does Scripture nor Tradition teach us that such is good and right. After all, to whom much is given, from him much is expected.

        Rather, justice for all necessitates inequality. It necessitates that the law take into account the position of the man to be judged in order to attain right judgment.

  7. Institutional Fragmented Christiandom(s) God (Good) is Dead, without which decay continues, every act permitted except Good – every amorality – a matter of Nietzschean Taste. Minor Attracted Persons (MAP) will be the next excremental hell on earth increment to be added to angel fire dung fuel. Equality? Mere meaning of word intellectual strife among the remnant of the Good. The decadent are driven by Revenge against the Good. The Revengeful are Tarantula Preachers of Equality.

    “XXIX. The Tarantulas.

    Lo, this is the tarantula’s den! Would’st thou see the tarantula itself? Here hangeth its web: touch this, so that it may tremble.

    There cometh the tarantula willingly: Welcome, tarantula! Black on thy back is thy triangle and symbol; and I know also what is in thy soul.

    Revenge is in thy soul: wherever thou bitest, there ariseth black scab; with revenge, thy poison maketh the soul giddy!

    Thus do I speak unto you in parable, ye who make the soul giddy, ye preachers of EQUALITY! Tarantulas are ye unto me, and secretly revengeful ones!

    But I will soon bring your hiding-places to the light: therefore do I laugh in your face my laughter of the height.

    Therefore do I tear at your web, that your rage may lure you out of your den of lies, and that your revenge may leap forth from behind your word “justice.”

    Because, FOR MAN TO BE REDEEMED FROM REVENGE–that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.”

    https://nietzsche.thefreelibrary.com/Thus-Spake-Zarathustra/31-1

  8. The trouble is that the meaning of ‘equality’ is a black box whose contents are merely expedient. It did once (at least in some circles) have an actual meaning, a policy target (albeit mistaken, and contaminated with evil motives even from early days when it was sometimes net-good in the short-term).
    I was a socialist in my youth, and I revered and studied GB Shaw – a founder of the massively successful Fabian Society. He discussed the exact nature of the equality that should be imposed; the pros and cons of different definitions, possible means of doing so (e.g. in his Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism (etc) of 1928..). There were deep problems (as seen at the time by Chesterton and Belloc, for example), but I have no doubt it was an honest and explicit socio-economic policy.
    Other earlier definitions I read were from William Morris and Oscar Wilde – who were both honest, albeit romantic, idealists of socialism. Even as late as the Fabian Anthony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism of 1956, there was detailed discussion of the exact ration of salaries that was being aimed at.
    Economic equality was then the idea, and it was assumed that other forms of inequality/ difference needed to be left-alone. The transformation came through the fifties into the middle sixties, when the current post-Marxist New Leftism took over the Left – with feminism, antiracism, sexual revolution etc.
    So equality went from a potentially honest, coherent but wrong economic policy; to an intrinsically lying, incoherent, continually-mutation excuse for permanent social revolution. Nowadays equality talk is simply a black-box-excuse for rotating destruction of the most feared or resented people and institutions. It is purely manipulative and dishonest. It has no deeper meaning or coherence.
    Indeed equality can be, and often is, dispensed with – to be replaced by some equally vacuous word/ concept like Justice, or Social Justice, Equity, Rights, Fairness, Peace…
    We really are at a very advanced stage of incoherence and destruction. The leadership class are not many steps away from ‘explaining’ themselves with snarls, grunts and howls.

    • The old socialism objected that a child of the upper class was born “with a silver spoon in his mouth.” The “silver spoon” consisted of money and connections. The idea was to equalize opportunity by having the state issue “plastic spoons” to everyone. In some places the old “silver spoons” were confiscated. What quickly became apparent was that Mother nature also put “spoons” in the mouths of her children, and the quality of these “spoons” varied widely. It took a little time, but the old resentment against class privilege eventually changed into resentment against natural privilege, and the new socialism was born. It really could not be prevented in a secular societybecause to be born with a ready wit or a pretty face was just as much an “accident of birth” as to be born to parents with titles and a large fortune. A Christian society could plausibly argue that there are no “accidents of birth,” and that talents are gifts from God, but in our secular society talent is just a “silver spoon.”

      • Yes, I think that was how it happened, although maybe it was not inevitable. In the sense that the early socialists were often extreme meritocrats – for example they were nearly all keen on eugenics.

        But it turned out that – as a matter of fact – most of the actual inequality seems to be caused by innate capacities; such as intelligence. I think it was the fact that intelligence could explain so much of inequality (which was known from the middle 20th century – for example the study I summarise here https://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2008/09/pioneering-studies-of-iq.html – which made socialists realise by the early 60s that there Already Was ‘equality of opportunity’, pretty much.

        So IF the left wanted to remain a political force they needed to do 2 things – 1. deny the validity of IQ and other innate differences between classes (sex, races etc); and aim at equality of outcome. It was not a coincidence that the very first politically correct witch hunts were against IQ researchers – e.g. Jensen in the US and Eysenck in the UK.

        The alternative was political obsolescence for the left. I don’t think many of them had to think very hard about which to choose…

    • You really should turn this comment into a blog post, Bruce. It’s a great dose of history and enlightenment about how we got here, plus it ends with a laugh.

  9. A social equality communistic distribution process was tested in first NT church (if one believes perhaps that the account is not a purposely constructed message from the politically powerful – give or else, but is instead about selfless altruism). Compulsory Love Toward That Which We Fear – Altruism under state imposed threat of violence.
    Act 4:32-35 “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
    We know in hindsight this one example did not blossom into the One Universal Church global conversion with economic/spiritual equity for all. Nor has the historical record of non-church governments attempting to impose equality of outcome and distribution through use of violent force.
    In the worst examples the smart producers are either killed or escape. Those non-producing consumers left behind may starve to death or wait in long lines for basic necessities disrupted by the broken supply chain.
    I would have nothing against socialist, communist, capitalist, fascist, hybrid new-forms of proposed governments (I don’t care what it’s called – no one will agree on definitions anyway – just more intellectual strife), If these ideas had historical merit of non-violent cooperation and gratitude. History rather indicates state imposed altruism under threat of violence is the will to power ignition for civil war.

  10. A.morphous’ grasp of the practical principles of moral reasoning, civil discourse and reasonable disagreement reminds of an Escher stairwell, an analogy which suits his moniker quite aptly.

    There is a world of difference between being offended, and taking it.

    René Girard wrote in his last work, “Battling to the End,” of how the aggressor in war is almost always under the belief that he his defending himself, truth, honour etc., even when his is the first strike. Sometimes its because he lacks a sufficient amount of the Christian “infection” to see that, upon reflection, he is perhaps acting hastily, uncharitably toward his foe, is mistaken as to the dispute, or has miscalculated his opponent. But oftentimes too, this posture of righteousness is the expression of pride, the Queen of Vices, and has wholly incivil aims and means to its ends. In a duel, there is no reconciliation; it escalates to extremes, as each side reciprocates the other’s posture of righteous indignation and demands for that illusory satisfaction, it is mutually assured destruction.

    Humility is the most abundant of all resources, the richest in yield, yet the rarest to be mined, because it requires each man to be the first, to lower himself down toward the earth. Only there may be found man’s equality with his fellow man; “debout, l’homme est un loup pour l’homme.”

    A man’s moral worth is not the same as our ethical concern for him. Though the latter increases or decreases by degree, depending on circumstances of kin, politics, proximity, contract, crime or charity – and is the basis for stating that no man is the equal of another (in station or circumstance) – the former remains pristine, for it is the gift of dignity bestowed on all men qua Man (or better, Person). To be sure, a man must choose between a price and a dignity, and very often chooses his price, but insofar as he has dignity because he is just such a person, he is worthy of equal respect and consideration. This does not mean that one must respect his beliefs, but that, qua man (assuming he is neither a child nor mad), we respect that he has beliefs that are his own, that he has come to hold or cherish in the same way that we have our own. We don’t have to be friends, but we might have to be fellow citizens, and as citizens, we do not have any legitimate right to coerce, defame or incite, to bring others to agreement.

    Tough luck, gotta sit down together and talk it out, like Socrates said.

    Without this principle of mutual respect for persons, we would otherwise all meet in the belly of the Coliseum, to be torn apart by lions, gladiators, or each other, to the clamouring and jeering of the crowds. Without respect for different, sometimes shockingly different views, we would face the same fate of Socrates.

    I am not an American, but it is apt to quote one James Madison here, as a cautionary reminder of the vulnerability of that single individual, as compared to him in the company of other men:

    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

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