Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More” [Item #2]

Cultural literacy pop quiz: who’s the quote from?

This Comment of the Day by Benjamin, a relatively recent recruit to the discussions here, typifies the thoughtfulness and seriousness that distinguishes the commentariat at Ethics Alarms. Ann Althouse, a blogger (whose work  Facebook doesn’t block) with a much larger readership whose topics often mirror mine, just announced that she is considering changing “the commenting experience”:

I’ll regard the comments submitted to moderation as private messages to me, and I’ll only publish comments I think readers would generally enjoy reading — comments that are interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the post.

I consider most of the comments here interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the posts. The kind of comment that Benjamin registered is rare on Althouse, or any blog, really, though not rare here. (The exceptions would be PopeHat, whose progenitor has, at least for now, apparently abandoned for greener pastures, and the original Volokh Conspiracy, before it moved to the Washington Post, and then Reason). Why is that? One reason is the subject matter; another is that commenters who can’t express themselves, issue uninformed opinions or who just aren’t too bright don’t do well on Ethics Alarms. Another reason is that, as I have probably complained about too much, the mass exodus here of the Trump Deranged and knee-jerk progressives has eliminated most of the “You’re an idiot!” “No, you’re an idiot!” exchanges that pollute most blogs, as well as comment sections everywhere.

Here is Benjamin’s Comment of the Day on Item #2 in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More:

My efforts at suppressing the sin of schadenfreude are becoming futile. The things festering behind fiercely-reinforced masks are starting to spill putrid materials out of the eye and nose holes nearly everywhere and all at once. I believe I’m addicted to two “drugs”: watching good men hoisting the black flag and destroying evil with relish in the name of a good end, e.g. Liam Neeson’s Taken is dangerous for me to watch – I start getting ideas – so I’ve placed an embargo for myself on such plotlines; and watching evil destroy itself. I don’t think I’ll need to embargo the latter, though. There’s nothing more instructive of the fact that difficult-but-correct choices ought to always be chosen over immediately convenient wrong ones than watching the effects of a century or so of those wrong choices.

Pope Leo XIII had a vision in 1884 in which God gave Satan 100 years to attempt to destroy Christendom without resistance. The beginning of that time is debated, but many settle on 1917 – Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun, 33 years to the day hence from the vision, and two days prior to the commencement of the Russian Revolution (among many other “”coincidental”” things). I have my own probably errant thoughts about this. Imagine if God and the Devil were playing chess, and God, so certain of his ultimate victory, permitted the Devil to make 100 moves in succession. Suppose that the Devil’s position was so terrible at the end of those moves that God can actually claim that giving him only a few more would cement God’s victory without Him having to act any further. The Devil may actually be begging God to move. One might think that I’m giving the fallout of an American election too much cosmic significance. But one would miss the point that a universal, cosmic law of laws is incontrovertible, and the fallout on display here and everywhere else in concert are symptomatic of a now-more-than-ever undeniable meta-reality.

I used to resent being born in this nihilist wasteland, but I might be the only one with a twisted-enough sense of humor to laugh myself to tears as it burns itself to the ground and tells me at the point of a gun that I’m not permitted to do anything to stop it. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

I know my moral theological/philosophical approach isn’t quite your style, but the ethical perspective hardly differs. How much are you enjoying this? Was the grueling second act worth the still-impending-but-inevitable third-act vindication? I know things will get much worse pragmatically in the near future, but you have to be getting some consolation from the moral victory falling unexpectedly into your lap while groggy, eating breakfast, and not even paying attention (your momentary state may have differed from mine, of course) because the nature of your enemies – the collection of qualities they embrace in defining themselves as your enemies per se – is such that they can’t keep it in their pants long enough to maintain the façade, right? It has to look to you like decades were spent setting up dominoes, and the people who set them are watching in horror as they fall down to spell “Be ethical, or waste a few decades setting up dominoes to spell it out against your will!” I’ll never get tired of making these analogies. The End.

 

12 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More” [Item #2]

  1. “As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

    Kipling

  2. By this the slayer’s knife doth stab himself,
    The unjust judge has lost his own defender,
    The false tongue dooms its lie, the creeping thief
    And spoiler rob to render.
    Such is the Law.
    -James Allen

  3. Thanks, Jack. Now that I’m officially accepted, my head will expand sevenfold, and I’ll become totally unbearable – not a dark lord, but bright and terrible as the dawn.

    Then again, with this resultant groundswell of actual reactionary poetics, maybe I’ll be shackled down with a need for honesty and careful forethought. The Natural Law spilleth over up there! My Joyceian stream of consciousness may not be enough anymore.

  4. Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home; Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick… Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart, but fools never even get to say hello.

  5. From Socialists and Fascists Have Always Been Kissing Cousins by Bradley Birzer (https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/socialists-and-fascists-have-always-been-kissing-cousins)

    Just as T.S. Eliot saw in Hitler and Stalin two sides of the same coin, so too did his close friend and ally, Christopher Dawson. In one of Dawson’s finest pieces, written in the immediate aftermath of the World War II, “The Left-Right Fallacy” (published in The Catholic Mind), Dawson rightly noted that there is no left and no right; there is only man and anti-man. That is, the divide is not horizontal but vertical. “The tactics of totalitarianism,” he wrote, “are to weld every difference of opinion and tradition and every conflict of economic interests into an absolute ideological opposition which disintegrates society into hostile factions bent on destroying one another.” The so-called and false divisions between a left and right, then, are “a perfect god-send to the forces of destruction.” Such a sophomoric notion of left and right becomes a blunt weapon, used to beat any and all opposition, while in actuality separating the human person from the human person, clothing each not in glory but in wretched rags of chaos and deceit. The results, Dawson realized, could only be confusion, disintegration, degradation, violence, inhumanity, hatred, and suspicion, disgracing even “a tribe of cannibals.”

    Your comment in relation to the SPLC demonstrates Birzer’s point about how absolute ideological opposition (especially these days from “woke” victim profiteers) only leads to inhumanity and destruction. When an organization can’t even practice what it preaches within it’s own ranks, especially from its own leaders, claiming to fight evil while wading in waters of that same evil, it becomes a challenge to not let one’s head explode (nod to Jack). The bigger challenge comes from examining our own evil. Am I displaying cunning craftiness by taking ethical shortcuts in the name of a righteous cause? Do I minister grace or walk in the vanity of my own mind by coming up with unethical rationalizations? Where do I make a line between embracing the human while foregoing the anti-human?

    This is why studying ethics is imperative in order to not only discern others actions and words, but our own. This is also why, practicing Christians are called to not render evil for evil. Yet this challenge is so great, I suppose this is why we call itpracticing.

  6. “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats. ” -H. L. Mencken

  7. Your comment in relation to the SPLC demonstrates Birzer’s point about how absolute ideological opposition (especially these days from “woke” victim profiteers) only leads to inhumanity and destruction. When an organization can’t even practice what it preaches within it’s own ranks, especially from its own leaders, claiming to fight evil while wading in waters of that same evil, it becomes a challenge to not let one’s head explode (nod to Jack). The bigger challenge comes from examining our own evil. Am I displaying cunning craftiness by taking ethical shortcuts in the name of a righteous cause? Do I minister grace or walk in the vanity of my own mind by coming up with unethical rationalizations? Where do I make a line between embracing the human while foregoing the anti-human?

    It seems to me that the SPLC could best be understood as a militant legal branch of the Ultra-liberal System that now has social and cultural power. My view is that it is harder to see and identify this System, and the thinking it sponsors, encourages and demands, than one might think. One has to sort of ‘detox’ from it; to be exposed to other, alternate modes of thinking and seeing, in order to have a platform to examine and critique it. In general though the public at large, and definitely government officials, corporate officials, state-linked academics and ideologues, support the activities of the SPLC and those other militant organizations that attack what they define as The Far Right. (I am aware that they also list some radical Left-leaning groups from time to time, but their focus is really on rightist extremism, as they label it. And everyone mostly accepts this term).

    When an organization can’t even practice what it preaches within it’s own ranks, especially from its own leaders, claiming to fight evil while wading in waters of that same evil, it becomes a challenge to not let one’s head explode (nod to Jack).

    It is interesting to consider The Catholic Church in the light of this poignant phrase! And what is going on therein? A total conflict of values. People who are in profound disagreement about what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. But there is a Popular Will, is there not? And to what is the popular will inclined? Not toward the strictness and top-down installation of moral and ethical precepts, but the total relaxation of them. And this fits into a general social current which is defined and channeled by business interests, cultural managers, entertainment figures, academians who string together the rhetorics of convicion to explain and support . . . the precise motion of The Present.

    In a sense it does not matter if those who started it or run it are either good or bad people, what matters is the work that they do: that this work be done. The purpose is to crush opposition. But it is a specific opposition and one that does pose a threat. It works to isolate them by reframing what they say in the most prejudiced terms. To hinder their development by establishing their ideas as ‘bad wicked evil’ (that means to link them with either ‘Hitler’ or ‘Stalin’ and either can work as it depends on the environment). To embroil them in law-suits. To drain their resources. It is an aspect and a branch of the important work of Cultural Engineering.

    Now, today, in the Times — in many different places actually — a counter-argument and a counter-thrust begins. See The March of White Supremacy by Jamelle Bouie or an article in the Independent called How to Defeat the Cretinous ‘Great Replacement’ Theory at the Heart of the Christchurch Mosque Attack. It is, I think one must see it and say it, ideological war. The Present System will do anything in its power to defeat any significant and meaningful challenges to it.

    righteous cause

    the vanity of my own mind

    unethical rationalizations

    embracing the human

    the anti-human

    our own evil

    What would be a righteous cause in our confused and ideologically chaotic present? Is it a ‘righteous cause’ (with one example) to be concerned for (what they see as) ‘white replacement’? Can one be concerned for the ethnic make-up of one’s community, one’s nation?

    What does ‘the vanity of the mind’ refer to? I ask a question about it and do not in any sense dismiss it as a very good question. First, one has to have a ‘mind’ to be able to suffer from ‘vanity’. But I think it is fair to say that many people — maybe most — are not active, creative thinkers, but think through tropes that are given to them. That is, by those who ideologically frame the views and, through their framing, control the conversation.

    OK, so the guy that goes into the mosque and assassinates 50 people likely depended on rationalizations. Got it. But there is a larger fact, a larger reality, and a larger truth: the purposeful engineering of the ethnic make-up of European and former British colonies by the same ‘elites’ that I refer to when I refer to The Liberal System (further qualified by noticing that it begins to take on the forms and techniques of Maoist Progressivism of Maoist Progressive Totalitarianism. OK, so what about the system of rationalizations — massive, overpowering, pervasive, unrelenting — that are used to uphold, quite precisely and quite rigidly, the essential predicates, features, direction and ends that such Liberalist Totalitarianism supports?

    What does it mean to say, in this particular Present, ’embrace the human’? Wait! The people that have issues with the Status Quo — the mill of Liberal Totalitarianism with its powerful tools and convincing modes — are attempting to define the human! Perhaps more in accord with what TS Eliot would define (which could only be The Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching). But the dignity of persons depends on the integrity of their community, and when that integrity is deliberately undermined by systemic infusion of new peoples? I mean for Heaven’s Sake there is a genuine conversation that can be had about these eventualities that is not ‘fascist’! I mean you can go right down the line: family, community, participation, rights and responsibilities, option of the poor and vulnerable, dignity for the worker, social solidarity, and protection of the environment in all senses. And they tell me that our present System is really interested in these things?!? Come now!

    The questions have to be asked — defined, made pointed, insisted on, not run away from — and they are asked (IMO) within a scenario of strange ideologically confused, liberalist, elitist totalitarianism.

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