Rebellion against rebellion

The idea of rebellion is simple: the jerks in power are forcing the rest of us away from the good life, so we’re going to band together, outnumber them, and take over.

Rebellion puts the rebels in an unassailable position: we’re the good guys, doing this for you! The bad guys have rules, but we accept everyone and everything — except bad taboos like pedophilia, and anything that threatens the rebellion, of course.

The problem with rebellion is that all rebellions have this pseudo-anarchy in common, and eventually it leads to two things: (a) an inert population and (b) more powerful bureaucracies and business catering to their fears and thus, acting against those who are competent.

From unlikely places:

But when her throat was cleared at last, Ms. Palin had something considerably more substantive to say.

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.

Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin’s having said them.

“This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk,” she said of the crony variety. She added: “It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest — to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners — the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70 percent of the jobs in America.” – NYT

The dichotomy here is this: entrenched interests which do not want competition, versus those that might reward people for superior performance — in other words, those which endorse elitism, or the notion that some people/things are more competent/better than others.

This is a revolution against the rebellion, but it’s written in terms the rebellion can understand. However, it reverses the primary principle of the rebellion, which is that we are all equal. It does it indirectly by saying that competitive forces which rise are good, but anti-competitive forces are bad.

In other words, that which makes everyone equal and thus allows large bureaucracies and corporations to accumulate wealth through the slovenly inattention of others, is just as potent a force of decline as the lock-step conformity of the late Soviet Union.

The solution to this is to banish egalitarianism — which ultimately empowers these monolithic incompetents — and replace it with Social Darwinism, or competition to be better than others, a form of “elitism”:

The word has been taboo for too long in our namby-pamby society where all children are led to believe they have won the egg and spoon race, even when they have come last, because no child is meant to be ‘left behind’.

David Cameron has finally burst this stupid bubble of lies. ‘It’s clear what works,’ says the PM in a groundbreaking speech. ‘Discipline works. Rigour works. Freedom for schools works. Having high expectations works.’

Let’s be clear about why we need elitism. If we don’t drag our children out of the lefty la-la land of everyone being equal even if they come last, and into the real world of competition, they really will get left behind. Kids in the Far East aren’t being told it doesn’t matter if they lose the school sack race. They’re being exhorted to win, strive, learn and improve themselves and in a global economy they will take the prize. – Daily Mail

On both sides of the pond, the victors of WWII are reversing their two centuries of flirtation with rebellion — derived from the 1789 French Revolution — and turning toward conservatism. Why? Because liberalism creates conformity, stagnation, decline and systemic failure of our society.

9 Comments

  1. crow says:

    In what passes for my “local community”, the highest aspiration seems to appear to be “nicer” than anyone else. This is achieved by pointing out to others that they have supported fewer charities, have appeared less harmless, and are being more judgemental than the one pointing these things out.
    The ironic pinnacle of this “niceness”, however, is to ruthlessly attempt to destroy anyone who has not appeared to be “nice enough”.
    Pretty nice, eh.
    Meanwhile, all these “nice” people are unable to perform any work, or get anything done, and survive by drawing benefits, hanging out at the food bank, filling local papers with ranting Letters To The Editor, trying to destroy the marriages of others, in case there is (or may be) any “abuse” taking place, and selling each other laughable arts, crafts and poetry.
    Any free time that is left, after being Activists, holding Candlelight Vigils and being generally egotistical, is devoted to the consumption of beer and drugs.
    This, I think, is the local version of “The Revolution”.
    It’s enough to make you weep.

    1. Ryan says:

      yeah sounds like upper middle class baby boomers to me, i they use a term in michigan (or at least i’ve heard it only there) called “bo-bo” or something like that. it basically defines in a short almost old saxon sentence , the filth that has colluded around the ideas of 60s, all those “beatniks” and etc. i was raised by the most liberal generation of all time so, yes crow i have seen the “revolution” in action since i was in daipers and had to hang out with little black kids

      1. steph says:

        po-mo bo-bo

        post modern bohemian bourgeois

    2. In what passes for my “local community”, the highest aspiration seems to appear to be “nicer” than anyone else. This is achieved by pointing out to others that they have supported fewer charities, have appeared less harmless, and are being more judgemental than the one pointing these things out.
      The ironic pinnacle of this “niceness”, however, is to ruthlessly attempt to destroy anyone who has not appeared to be “nice enough”.

      They seem to have the raging social ego, e.g. “I will prove I’m better than you — I donate to charities and stuff, man.”

      It always cowers in shame when confronted with someone who daily, quietly, humbly and resolutely improves that over which they have actual control.

      It reminds me of this old dude I used to know who picked up trash in the park. He had to be in his 80s. He always said he was doing it just because it was what he could do that he knew would do good.

  2. Nicholas Marville says:

    Good quotations Brett, as always you’re on point.

  3. deadite says:

    Rebellions may be useful when there is actually something worth rebelling against.

    In the case of the 1960s, it was just a bunch of lazy fucks who didn’t ever want to work and just wanted to be free, man.

    Brett, your writing continues to make me ponder in the best way.

    1. Rebellions may be useful when there is actually something worth rebelling against.

      You naturally think in constructive terms, and as such, a rebellion you engineer would have a positive goal instead of an anti-goal/negative goal.

      That kind of rebellion has a chance of making change, not just chaos.

      For me, after many years of stumbling around on the revolutionary narrative, the idea of gradual improvement has become important. Taking what is, and improving it like a sculptor shaping clay, until someday after many incremental changes it resembles what is desired.

      From an engineering standpoint, this has the benefit of creating no single points of failure. E.g. if I stage a rebellion, I roll the dice once with all my money on the table; with incremental change, I roll the dice many times but with only negligible (if such a thing exists) amounts of money.

      It’s an idea I’m still trying to get used to. Thank you for the kind words.

  4. V10 says:

    The problem of course is how to openly embrace and encourage elitism that arises from merit and demonstrable skill, without inadvertently legitimizing elitism that arises from graft, cronyism, inheritance, meaningless credentials, influence peddling, gaming the system…

    1. crow says:

      Embracing elitism is accomplished by embracing it.
      The term “Elitism”, like any other term, means whatever it means to whomever hears it. Defining what is meant by it, lies at the heart of PC.

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