Just and the Justifier

A Christian Distinctive

Archive for the tag “tyranny”

NSA and the Circling of the Wagons

In these weeks following the Snowden revelations, we are witnessing a coming together, a circling of wagons by the current American elites, both political operatives and pundits, regardless of political persuasion. This abrupt ad hoc unity contrasts with the all-too-familiar and perennial internecine schism that has predominated for decades. This unity, granting unmitigated justification for invasion of privacy and violation of Constitutional precepts, and which denounces and disparages Snowden for daring to confront this established consensus, defies an increasing and virulent opposition as the governed are temporarily stirred from their long somnolence with worthless baubles and silly trivialities.

Thus, Californian Democrat Dianne Feinstein sings sweet duet with House Speaker Republican John Boehner about Snowden’s treason, while Harry Reid (D-NV), John McCain (R-AR) and John Bolton amongst others, act as the choreographing Pips backup. But this must be expected since both Bush and Obama Administrations are now caught culpable with hand in cookie jar. And it bemuses to watch liberal Democrat discomfiture as leading Republican leaders become chief pom-pom cheerleaders for the Obama administration’s continuance and expansion of Bush policy. It is the political outliers (i.e. Udall (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-PA)) or repositioning opportunists (i.e. Eric Cantor (R-VA)), who are on record as outraged to varying degrees.

However, it is the supposed watchdog of mainstream media whose reactions pose a greater fascination. The immediate tenor of initial op-eds reacted to Snowden’s lack of education credentials. Having listened to this evidently thoughtful, intelligent and articulate Snowden, I thought that such cheap ad hominem will only prove counterproductive to the cause of this established political class. For, what does it say about an agency apparatus that hires such “losers”?1 What does it say about the critics, whose intellectual competence and integrity cannot stand up to this “dropout”? What does it say about a nation’s elite who, at least to this point, seems to have been outwitted by this better chess player? The ancient writers were wiser. They praised their adversaries. In vanquishing them, there was much honour to be acquired.

In the following days, the media would expose and flaunt the credentials of his ‘pole-dancing‘ girlfriend. This paparazzi pursuit, symptomatic of modern journalism debasement, serves the prurience of public decadence. It is also, without doubt, a propagandist feint to discredit Snowden through his associations to the religious and moralist segment of society. But this transparent ploy to manipulate moralist opinion loses its impact with overuse over time and jaded familiarity with these practices.

Indeed, the prospect of some shy and reserved bespeckled IT geek, landing such a voluptuous and vivacious babe who likes to philosophize and play chess bare-chested into the night, is just too James Bond! (Whether is true…) Indeed, this 29 year old must symbolize hope to every unemployed and underemployed young male, wasting away in their mama’s basement over porn and games.

One can sense that the elites are starting to regain their footing; beginning to realize the personal stakes that Snowden now threatens. And thus both factions were rustled out of their genuine and faux mutual animosities to paint a unified narrative against this whistleblower. He becomes a “deceitful and dishonest man”2 because he violated oaths in a nation with a 45% divorce rate; with academic cheating by the college student elite in excess of 75%; with Wall Street bankers and real estate charlatans circumventing the letter and spirit of regulations and almost bringing the whole economic and financial edifice down without paying due judicial recompense; with military/intelligence and administrative department heads engaged in bold-faced, unabashed perjury to Congress and the media.

How dare this “grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison”3, subject national security and individual American lives, to that of a higher “call of his precious conscience”? 4 And in what must constitute one of the most disconnected and bizarre ad hominem critiques, an aging curmudgeon suggested that Snowden will be known as a “cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood”; claiming that “no one lied about the various programs disclosed last week”.5 In that both National Director of Intelligence, James Clapper (congressional hearing) and Director of the NSA, Keith Alexander (American Enterprise Institute press conference) denied holding data on U.S. citizens; now known to be thoroughly untrue, it might be time to put this has-been out to pasture.

Repeating the elitist snobbery of the credentialed obtuse, Snowden is “the slacker who came in from the cold…possessing all the qualifications to become a grocery bagger” 6; irrational vitriol, which can only backfire by undermining the credibility of the judgment of these credentialed elite in the military and intelligence apparatus.

On the other hand, another pundit, David Brooks of the New York Times, will not deny the obvious (“obviously terrifically bright”7), despite Snowden’s lack of credentials. Brooks prefers to dabble in psychobabble by suggesting that Snowden represents “the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments”7. The problem with this psychological profile from afar is that Brooks is prejudicially projecting a perhaps valid general sociological observation upon a particular individual for whom it does not readily fit.

The prophet, whether spiritual or secular and social, is driven into lonely social isolation by his/her scrupulous, perhaps ‘pathological’ commitment to truth telling and social conscience. But the greater mass of humanity easily and quickly compromises on truth and cannot long bear the prophet except in ornate sarcophaguses, long after the applicability of his declamations and predictions.

In David Brooks’ parallel universe, betraying an oath to the secret perpetuation of dangerous lies is the equivalent of betraying honesty and integrity. In the logic of David Brooks’ parallel universe, exposing the global Star Chamber betrays open government because it will only make the Star Chamber even more Star Chamberish. In the sophistry of David Brooks’ parallel universe, an insistence upon the plain rendering of the meaning of the Constitution is a betrayal of the Constitution.

And on and on it goes, with most of the political and pundit elite piling on, with rehearsed shibboleths, pompous opprobrium and specious argument and evidence. And many a blogging outlier exhibit incredulity and resentful disgust with these supposed watchdogs of government malfeasance and power-lust.

However, it ought not to surprise that the current elites so adamantly and seemingly unreasonably defend the status quo. One ought not to deny that there are legitimate concerns raised by the elites and their courtiers. If there were not, their message would not have had sufficient resonance to have hitherto so well deceived the general public. And thus, one’s own cause and ability to persuade the persuadable will be undermined if one does not acknowledge and address those concerns.

Nevertheless, there is another dynamic involved in this circling of the wagons by the elite members of both sociopolitical factions. It is less a matter of principle than that of vested and venal self-interest; that of concern for continued social prominence in the upper echelons and regard by general society. And because many of the members of both sociopolitical factions are on record with having supported the travesty that is this modern surveillance state and ‘architecture of oppression’, their only credible line of defense for existential social survival is to defend the indefensible.

“The poor you will always have with you.”8 In this, Christ intimated as did other apostles, that the rich also, however a given society defines that, will likewise persist. All revolutions, even if they purport a new beginning where “ev’ry man will be a king”9 merely supply a changing of the guard, an overthrow of the ranking members of society with that of another. And there is real and present danger and legitimate fear by current elites that their social prominence is at stake.

Radical revolutions, which do not necessarily lead to bloodshed, abound in history. In America, the First Great Awakening of the 1740s largely involved a changing of the sectarian guard from those denominations associated with the first and second threads of the Reformation, the established church sects (i.e. Congregational, Anglican, Presbyterian) to the third wing (Baptists, Methodists, Quakers etc), which later became the core of Evangelicalism. The fullness of that religious revolution in America was completed by the Second Great Awakening, (for good or for ill).

Jacksonian democracy (1830s) has been similarly deemed as a toppling of the gentrified generations of the Revolutionary elite for a more vulgar set of democratic ruffians. One could observe in the Russia of the 1990s, an old Communist guard, whose claim to legitimacy discredited, persisted out of resentment to loss of position to the new Russian oligarchs.

The present American situation is more reminiscent of the later stages of Roman Republic. The aristocratic patrician families were quite willing to tear down and destroy their opposite numbers in factionalism through the organs of society (i.e. scandal mongering, judicial prosecutions, proscriptions and exile). And there was a definitive ideological difference between the values of the old austere conservative Republican Guard and the Hellenized aesthetes. However, when the Social (class) and Servile (slave) Wars erupted or dictators overstayed their welcome, there were temporary ceasefires in the internecine schisms between factions and a unified circling of their aristocratic wagons.

There are very few politically astute and slippery historical characters of the likes of Ambassador Talleyrand, who could survive extreme and abrupt shifts of political opinion, from the Ancien Regime, through Robespierres Terror, Napoleon’s autocracy and again to the French Restoration of Monarchial rule. (On the one hand, one must admire such finesse, even as one detests the lack of conviction that such finesse requires.) Most human beings lack that chameleonic capacity; much more than they lack the ability to compromise their convictions.

It is amusing to watch Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wi), the useful idiot who introduced the Patriot Act, attempt to backtrack against his legislative initiative; suggesting that interpretation of that law has been so contorted to abuse its original intentions. This criticism would have, of course, been more credible before the scandal exploded in his face. If the surveillance state regime suffers a major (if temporary) reversal, Sensenbrenner will likely go down with that raft. A change of mind at this point of time is not likely to hold much credibility. That reality cannot be lost on others who have previously been sycophant toads of this architecture of oppression. Defense of the current realm will stiffen.

Except for those amongst the current elites, who positioned themselves to avoid manifesting great commitment to the Patriot Act and other policies of Bush’s and Obama’s apparatus of sociopolitical tyranny; if the current bipartisan regime goes down, virtually every supporter and benefactor of that current regime loses their current social prominence. Therefore, we witness collusion between the elites of these hitherto ‘mortal’ sociopolitical factions against a general political uprising, led by a yet undetermined new set of elites.

For those who desire change, whether or not they be part of the vanguard that takes over, it is wise to remember that one is confronting not only principle, but vested and venial self-interests. The latter may be more powerful a motive for continued resistance by those ruling elites.

It is not a given that this revolt will succeed. The elites, unified mostly by mutual self-interest, face a disparate ragtag of opposition groups; many who normally detest each other more than the elites. A temporary marriage of convenience will be inherently weak and subject to internal contradictions and divide and con tactics from the existing Establishment. The elites could seduce one ‘extreme’ faction to lose their principles with a larger voice at the table; just as members of the Democrat Party suddenly slackened their similar concerns about civil rights when they came into power.

The ends of the political continuum would need to construct a political framework, which would allow both sides to live amicably after the ‘overthrow’. Otherwise, the society would be governed by even more schismatic factionalism than exists presently. And the civil conflagration, which I have anticipated for a quarter century, will come that much closer.

Most probable, however, and something that the despairing cynicism that Snowden shares with this writer and others; this current generation lacks the ideological framework, moral fortitude (and perhaps moral framework) and civic courage to confront this unified front of vested interests that support what will invariably become a global totalitarian tyranny.

Operation Wall Street lacked a substantive and coherent idea and ideal upon which the subterranean rumblings of the underclass could rally around. In that ideological desolation, revolts are one night stands. The folk hero of the day soon becomes universally declaimed by all as soon as the Establishment has found the right key to turn a fickle public. From Hosanna to Crucifixion within a week!

 

 

NOTES

  1. Farhad Manjoo, “If the NSA Trusted Edward Snowden With Our Data, Why Should We Trust the NSA?” Slate, June 9, 2013, accessed  http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/06/09/edward_snowden_why_did_the_nsa_whistleblower_have_access_to_prism_and_other.html on June 15, 2013.
  2. John Bachman, “Interview with John Bolton (from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.”, Newsmax TV, June 11, 2013. Accessed http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/bolton-snowden-nsa-leaks/2013/06/11/id/509318?promo_code=11102-1&utm_source=11102Real_Clear_Politics&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1#ixzz2WIIjoEGf on June 15, 2013.
  3. Jeffrey Toobin, “Edward Snowden Is No Hero”, The New Yorker, June 10, 2013, Accessed http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/06/edward-snowden-nsa-leaker-is-no-hero.html on June 15, 2013.
  4. Matt Miller, “Edward Snowden’s grandiosity”, The Washington Post, June 11, 2013, Accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/matt-miller-edward-snowdens-grandiosity/2013/06/11/b87876e6-d292-11e2-8cbe-1bcbee06f8f8_story.html on June 15, 2013.
  5. Richard Cohen, “The NSA is doing what Google does”, The Washington Post, June 10, 2013, Accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-nsa-is-doing-what-google-does/2013/06/10/fe969612-d1f7-11e2-8cbe-1bcbee06f8f8_story.html on June 15, 2013.
  6. Roger Simon, “The slacker who came in from the cold”, Politico, June 13, 2013, Accessed http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/the-slacker-who-came-in-from-the-cold-92534.html#ixzz2WJGqqyCM on June 15, 2013.
  7. David Brooks, “The Solitary Leaker”, The New York Times, June 10, 2013, Accessed http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/opinion/brooks-the-solitary-leaker.html?_r=0 on June 15, 2013.
  8. Matthew 26:11
  9. William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude- Michel Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer, “One More Day”, Script: Les Miserables, 2012.

 

 

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Welcome to the USSA (Footnote 1)

From my earliest youth, I held excessive zeal for liberty. And thus, the Revolutionary Land of the Free to our south and the political principles by which such liberty was constructed, had always attracted me. I detested the faint residue of conservative Loyalist and Monarchist sentiment still persisting in the mid-1960s. It represented a mildly psychic oppression. During the 1967 Centennial Year, I sang with Bobby Gimby for the Queen as part of a ragtag children’s choir at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke. I recall thinking, at 9 years old, how much of a hypocrite I was, considering that I detested the pompous falsity and pretentious decorum of the Monarchy and Imperial British sentiment.

Canadian history was a bore. While national America was fashioned out of ideas in salons, national Canada was forged out of self-interests at a business meeting. This nation has failed to contribute any unique and useful political idea or perspective to world civilization. Thus, while I was never taken in by any civic religion to speak of in this hotel room, we call Canada; I must confess that the American civic religion held powerful sway (and blighted clarity of thought) until George W. Bush completely eviscerated any remaining delusions.

But the America of my dream had really suffered its death knell with the assassination of Lincoln and the rise of the first Gilded Age. It had hitherto been a nation, largely dedicated to the commonweal by consent; in which the common man deferred to no one, to the chagrin of European aristocratic observers. I am under no illusion that it was paradise on earth or that it was bereft of its own set of travesty and atrocity. However, it retained soul and vitality, amassing an inheritance of social capital that would take over a century to completely deplete. Ronald Reagan’s ‘City on a Hill’ represented that last gasp of nostalgia for an America that was.

Because what happens in the U.S. has such huge repercussions in the rest of the West, I recall opinionating in the mid-2000s that I would have impeached Bush Jr. for deception concerning entry into the Iraq War (2003). Even as sort-of-conservative-minded orthodox Evangelical, I recall arguing against a whole family of neo-Cons, social and small-c conservatives in the Christmas period of 2004/5 about the folly of that war. I asserted that the U.S. was entering into an Islamic version of Yugoslavia; ostensibly imposing liberal democracy upon people with an underlying ideology which is irreconcilable and existentially threatened by Western thought and institutions. The Americans would retreat with tails between their legs, leaving a fragile Iraqi government, presiding over a bloodily divided nation, waiting for the next Saddam Hussein to restore a coercive unity. Meanwhile, America would have lost complete moral authority; only able to keep Pax Americana by raw force alone; thereby requiring higher exactions of its own blood and treasure than when it is perceived the imperial power is governing, to some extent, for the benefit of all. That prediction is almost fully complete.

Nevertheless, as the lesser of two evils, I would still have voted for Bush in 2004.  There is something terribly wrong with this picture!

In the aftermath of his term, I concluded that George W. Bush had been the worst president since James Buchanan (1857-1861). And I expected that Obama would be worst still; back-to-back political calamities. But Obama has exceeded expectations on that count. For, if George Walker Bush was a buffoon; Barack Hussein Obama is a barbarian. Rather than James Buchanan, one must go back to the foreign English parliament serving King George III for comparison with Obama.

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The prudence of the Founding Fathers and the generations immediately preceding and following, noted threats on both sides of any narrow path or orbit. And thus they sought to maintain civil and social peace by balancing government against itself and balancing government against the medley of private interests, ideologies and factions within society.

Since then, one political party has since Woodrow Wilson completely repudiated the prudence of the Founding Fathers; believing in the goodness of humanity whose fault is occasionally intellectual incompetence. Thus, a large and encroaching state is pursued. And the arrogance of that faction is constantly imposed upon all others. The other political party has sought to return to the letter of the original Constitution, not realizing that it was merely a Montesquieun political device to balance the apparent social forces of their times. But concentration of private wealth/power becomes itself a tyrannical threat in a minimalist government. Thus, the changing dynamics of the 19th and 20th Century requires constant amending to reflect those altering realities.

But we dwell in an era of the simple-minded; who react to one threat in pendular and singular extremes; without concern for balance. Unmitigated security is pursued against the haphazard threats of largely private enemies; ignoring the insecurity against the person and nation, posed by unmitigated power of the state and state bureaucracies.

But large nations and civilizations do not fall, merely because of the loss of one battle or the collapse of tall buildings. The Roman city state with its Latin allies survived in cohesion, after ten years of Hannibal’s ravaging the Italian peninsula, while a much larger Empire had so rotted within, that barbarians with much smaller populations and resources finally swarmed it in the 5th Century.

Islamic terrorists might constitute a chaotic threat to individual safety. But they are not, in themselves, a threat to the survival of the nation. Indeed, they pose a much smaller threat to individual safety than the 15,000 murders each year or fatalities due to vehicular accidents. Get a grip people! The overreaching and increasing tyrannical power of the bureaucratic state, given much impetus in these last dozen years, is a far greater threat to individual safety and security and ultimately to the survival and welfare of the American nation.

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With wholesale recording of virtually every electronic transaction (voice, email, credit card, web, chat) in a society whose livelihood and lifestyle requires considerable interaction with a virtual world; one wonders what remaining unreasonable search and seizure provisions of the Constitution are left, which U.S. Administrations could violate.

Really! Modest encroachments to privacy, Mr. President! Such a suggestion can only be a product of a consummate comedian or truly defective mind. If this was a Third Amendment infraction (quartering of soldiers in private homes), a modest encroachment in Obama’s mind would be the right for soldiers to sleep naked in the same bed as the daughters of the household; as long as it didn’t involve penetration.

Dragnets of metadata can easily provide sufficient red flags for further fishing; especially in the disingenuity of interpretations of what constitutes threat. and surely, if it easy enough to shop around for a sympathetic and/or compliant judge to obtain a blanket general warrant, how hard should it be to get judicial approval to open the package of any flagged individual item.

We witness these public officials and their courtiers, dismissing the potential dangers against civil rights infractions, totalitarianism and tyranny as alarmist; just as they did in my youth in my country. I recall the mantra. “Surely, one has nothing to worry about if one hasn’t done anything wrong.” The problem with such drivel is that it presumes upon the virtue of the public guardians.

Vice is inherent and universal in humanity. The passing of a civil service exam, or hair-brained psychological profile tests or acceptance into public service does not transform that same private individual, prone to self-interest and vice, into paragons of virtue and wisdom. Indeed, as unscrupulous opportunists survey the sociopolitical landscape, they will be times when ‘public service’ serves as the best means for feathering their own nest; through the organs of government than apart from it; as the shrewd operators of the late Roman Empire can attest

It is ironic that the NSA and PRISM revelations followed so soon on the heels of the chilling surveillance and harassment of journalists; or the preferential EPA and IRS treatment of one sociopolitical faction over the other; or the egregious leakage of records of donators to the National Organization for Marriage by IRS officials in California during the Proposition 8 referendum, so that opponents could threaten the livelihoods of employer and employees who disagreed with them. This is the stuff that begets civil war!

So it is not merely about the potential of providing “All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama”2. Violations of constitutional protections are already presently exploited. The current administration might consider those who visit web sites about the Constitution, marriage or the history of English civil rights more of a threat to national security or the welfare of society and state. But perhaps a future administration, which represents the opposite sociopolitical faction, might deem those who frequent the porn and polyamory pages or donators to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, to be more of a menace. Americans should be more concerned presently with the organs of the state apparatus being exploited as civic weapons in culture wars than with a theoretical tyranny.

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Last year (February 14, 2012), Canada had a similar concern crop up with the aborted attempt to pass the so-called “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” (Bill C-30).

The bill would have granted authorities new powers to monitor and track the digital activities of Canadians in real-time, required service providers to log information about their customers and turn it over if requested, and made back door entrances mandatory allowing remote access of individuals’ electronic information, each without needing a warrant. Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show that the government desired to use the expanded powers in cases not involving criminality.3

Although, the legislation spoke nothing about pedophiles, the Harper government felt is useful to alarm their conservative base with this misdirection. We could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers”. However, I was part of that base; as is arch-conservative Lorne Gunter.

Politicians or police will talk themselves into the wisdom of using the same technology to find tax cheats, divorced parents falling behind on child support or even human-rights violators […] What if you’re a member of a faith that believes homosexuality is a sin and you send out emails arguing against gay marriage or gay adoption and you use language that is a little too strong? Or maybe you’re having your basement renovated and you boast to a friend that you’re avoiding the HST by paying cash — should that send off an alarm at the Canada Revenue Agency?4

In my youth, Conservatives were complicit conspirators with Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s War Measures Act of 1970; a legislative mallet to swat a relative fly. It made martyrs of those political prisoners imprisoned for many months without warrant or charge. It discredited the ideals of individual civil rights in Quebec, hitherto promoted by the federal authorities. And it led to the first separatist PQ government in 1976.

Bill C-30 was withdrawn after much opposition by all factions in this country. And thus, how strange and ironic that the so-called “Land of the Free” has now become the more oppressive; and my native country, which I felt had proved too dismissive of civil liberty, has a little more sensibility and backbone than I remember in my youth. It is not that Canada hasn’t also increasingly lost the important liberties to an all-encroaching state. It is just that the military-industrial complex of our southern neighbour has deteriorated all that much faster.

◊          ◊          ◊          ◊          ◊          ◊          ◊

The secular delusion that America is a city on a hill, beaming an example to the world, is exposed to have now become a fraud. The present folly that exists there points more toward a trajectory of the black hole of Calcutta; of extreme vitriolic polarization with the collapse of the ideological middle; of extreme economic disparity (with ensuing social, legal and political injustices) with the collapse of the middle class; of loss of economic opportunity, even economic growth as consequence; of an astonishingly incompetent and foolish fiscal and monetary policy which can only lead to another financial asset meltdown, albeit with no further ability to ameliorate; even to a currency crisis. Bush and Obama have indeed provided the infrastructure for future tyranny and destruction of a free civic polity. And real and substantive causes already exist, which give reason for such a totalitarian autocracy to emerge.

I have read many comments on U.S. message boards, which perceive that to correct this devolution toward the totalitarian, tyrannical surveillance state; it will require civil insurrection and bloodshed. Unlike their ancestors however, I don’t think there exists in America, the moral fiber and civic courage to seriously challenge the oligarchic sociopolitical priesthood of both Republican and Democratic parties and their benefactors. The muted opposition to the TSA depredations of physical modesty proved that case. And it would require a rational and coherent political philosophy, which attracted both mutually suspicious wings of the sociopolitical continuum. And most citizens…er subjects will, after being momentarily irritated from their stupor of silly trivialities and confronted by truth, will return to their porn, gaming and social media after voicing their half-hearted and perfunctory outrage.

And thus I lament for the loss of liberty; not only in the Land of the Free; but also for every other jurisdiction in the world. The arrogant hyenas of tyrannical busybodies will have defeated the Lioness. Everything from then on will just be a mopping operation.

Even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.5

And it cannot be lost on all those outside of American jurisdiction that Americans are only concerned about their own liberties, while the rest should be subject to their surveillance. Whenever, a dissident foreign critic was becoming too unwieldy to American interests, these officials could find a way to discredit or harass him/her by fair means or foul. I doubt that this xenophobic imperialist nation has even considered the blowback from that corollary consequence.

 

 NOTES

 

1.      With special thanks to a commentator with pseudonym akpat for the title, from article Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, Washington Post, June 6, 2013, Accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html on June 9, 2013.

2.       Conor Friedersdorf, “All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama”, The Atlantic Monthly, June 7, 2013. Accessed http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/all-the-infrastructure-a-tyrant-would-need-courtesy-of-bush-and-obama/276635/ on June 9, 2013.

3.       Wikipedia, Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, Accessed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protecting_Children_from_Internet_Predators_Act on June 9, 2013.

4.       Lorne Gunter, “Want to read my email, Vic Toews? Get a warrant”, The National Post, February 17, 2013, Accessed http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/17/lorne-gunter-want-to-read-my-email-get-a-warrant/ on June 9, 2013.

5.       Glenn Greenwald, “Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations” (transcript of interview)”, The Guardian, June 9, 2013, accessed http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance on June 9, 2013.

Protagorean Arrogance

I often make reference to a stock phrase protagorean arrogance to describe feminist perspectives. The purpose is less to insult than to explain. The notion emanates from observation and excruciating personal experience; whereby one’s interlocutor is so locked up in their subjective mantras that no amount of valid reasoning or evidence can genuinely dislodge them from their pre-existing opinions, even one iota. However, the danger from such persons lurks in their tyrannical impulses, “sincerely exercised for the good of its victims” and “who torment us for our own good, [who] will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”.1 New York Mayor and plutocrat “Big Gulp” Bloomberg comes to mind. They are the enemies of liberty of conscience, the progenitors of ideological and social tyranny, and the begetters of civil wars, from family relationships up to civil societies. For, it is not in differences of opinion that most civic conflagration arises; but when one or all factions seek to impose their worldview and ethic/ethos upon all others.

Protagorean derives from the Greek sophist Protagoras of Abdera (490 – 420 B.C.), who is made famous by his utterance “Man is the measure of all things”.  This radical relativistic notion, that objective reality and the Good is determined by our epistemological ability to ascertain it, was seen in its time as leading to moral/legal chaos and societal disintegration. The astute will also surmise that the ultimate sociopolitical end result of such thought will be civil governance by arbitrary coercion of pure power instead of through consent. The autocracies of Alexander’s and the Roman Empire are artifacts one and two for the prosecutor for such conclusions.

It should not be thought that feminists are the only culprits of this disposition.

In this narcissistic, subjectivist age, the adage has morphed into I am the measure of all things. In a discourse of a generation back, the interlocutor who disagreed with you might declare a Kierkegaardian sentiment that what is true for you is not [necessarily] true for me. Nowadays, that same disagreeing interlocutor will tend to subscribe to the view that since what you say isn’t convincing to them; it is not true for you neither. Consequently, instead of acknowledging liberty of conscience differences of opinion, these interlocutors must coerce others to their way of conduct or thought.

Same-sex proponents operate in this way. It is not sufficient that they live their relationships and call them and others to call it whatever they please. Behind the movement is this intention to isolate and marginalize their ideological and sociopolitical adversaries and coerce these others to publicly concur with their politically correct cant through threat of subtle legal and socioeconomic reprisals.

However, the more insidious kind of protagorean arrogance is that which emanates without deliberate intent to deceive. Same-sex advocates probably know that they are pushing the envelope against liberty of conscience to the extent that they can get away with, until they meet rock hard resistance and push back. The evil of protagorean arrogance is that in the unwitting unknowing, these Lilliputian zealots lack any boundaries in violating the rights of others. They will not likely stand down.

I bear witness of this tyrannical impulse. A fifty-something grandmother constantly questions and countermands her daughter’s instructions and discipline of the daughter’s daughter in the presence of the latter. It would often take the opprobrium and intervention of the wider family to arrest this busybody from publicly undercutting the authority of the daughter. However, when that opprobrium and intervention was less present, the grandmother would resort to her old tricks. The matriarch’s self-righteous certainty trumps the rightful authority of others to govern their own lives and those of their wards.

Having been herself a mother at one time, one would have thought that the grandmother would have innate appreciation of a parent’s desire and right to steward their own child. And there are times, when the situation is of such severe nature and clearly pre-defined to warrant intervention. If however, every minutiae of difference of opinion becomes a federal issue, it indicates that the protagorean arrogance borders on both the lawless and the tyrannical.

This psychosocial phenomenon is highlighted to explain an astonishing lack of psychological insight by modern women; feminists in particular. Some have convinced themselves that the differences between the sexes are mere social constructs (Second Wave Feminists). Men really ought to be thinking like women. And if males don’t; from the protagorean vantage point of such women, it must derive from an ethical deficiency rather than a gender-based proclivity to approach existence from a different vantage point. Alternatively, there are the Third Wave Gender Nationalists, who acknowledge that differences in gender proclivities exist, but that the attributes of their side are superior to that of the other.

Thus, like Hitler’s Youth, they must indoctrinate and ideologically emasculate boys to the superiority of feminine traits even before they become men. They deem themselves alone as being competent enough to define and arbitrate the nature of masculinity; which often amounts to little more than servicing women’s every need and fetish, just like in their romantic novels. Such will deign to denigrate the masculinity in masculinity. As evidenced in the Slut Walks, such believe that they should be free to trample on the sensitivities of others and to encumbrance all others. Others must rearrange their lives so to accommodate these sluts alone. For, they alone are right. The cosmos is neither geocentric nor heliocentric. Nay. The cosmos orbits around their itsy bitsy opinions and interests.

And the lack of psychological insight is blinding them from perceiving the encroaching and overwhelming social counter-reaction by new generations of young males. While the obtuse Hanna Rosin is declaring a triumphalist feminine victory in “The End of Men”; I see a different dynamic, bubbling up from the ground up and terrifying to the status of women in the generations to come.

The pertinent point is the obliviousness in these women’s lack of psychological insight; the arrogance in this unreasoning stupidity. It doesn’t seem to occur to such persons that the real Truth is somewhere out there, to which they themselves are not likely to have ownership, to which they like all others must strive. Or that their gender counterparts might be a necessary counterbalance to the excesses of their gender proclivities; as would be the case of female proclivities mitigating male excesses.

©Copyright John Hutchinson

NOTES

1C.S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, The Twentieth Century: An Australian Quarterly Review, 3(3), 1949, p 5-12.

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