Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

Timothy Egan’s spectacularly dishonest op-ed for the Times, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred,” was one more conservative- and Trump-bashing exercise disguised as a history lesson, albeit for Americans who know little about history and foolishly assume that they can trust pundits like Egan to enlighten them. Of course, all such exercises in time-traveling appeals to authority are inherently dishonest. 18th century minds, even those as sharp and creative as the Founders possessed, would go into shock at most of what they saw today if somehow provided the opportunity, and would take a while to understand why things have evolved as they have.

Frequent commenter JutGory sat down and treated Ethics Alarms readers with an analysis of developments the Founders would have had trouble with without indulging in the sort of cherry-picking and distortion Egan did to pander to the Times’ progressive readership. The result of what Jut called his “retro-prognostications” is a genuinely educational post, and a distinguished Comment of the Day.

Here it is:

If we are doing retro-prognostications, I bet I could do better:

Disclaimer: the Founders would probably be a bit mystified at the technological advances in general.

They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

They would probably be surprised at how much power the Supreme Court (the weakest branch) wields. Of course it only wields that much power because the other branches have gotten more powerful. To wit:

They would be surprised by the 16th Amendment (income tax), as it is a direct tax of the individual by the Federal Government, but okay (“Yay, Amendment process).

Of course, money is power, so, with more tax money comes more power.

They would be completely baffled by the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators). That opens the Senate up to national influences, instead of influence from a small group of state legislators. That was kind of the whole point of the Senate: to represent the States, not its citizens.

But, you can’t pass a farm subsidy bill if Senators answer to their legislatures.

Can’t get universal healthcare if Senators stand in the way.

But, you change the Senate selection process, you get popular candidates, supported by national appeal and no specific understanding of the needs of the State (Hello, Al Franken!)

The power grab of the Commerce Clause would puzzle them.

The Federal Criminal Code, as punitive as it is, would not meet with their approval.

While they would not like standing armies, but would be aghast at the Left’s disaffection with the Defense Department; it was one of the things included in the Constitution. Congress gets to make war.

Same with immigration; Congress has the power to pass immigration laws. It can do pretty much anything. But, Leftists think ICE is illegal and there should be no immigration laws.

The Electoral Eollege  issue is just one of many other issues that could be raised regarding progressives’ fundamental misunderstanding (or deliberate disregard) of the design of the Federal system. They look at representation in the Senate as fundamentally unfair, as Montana has one Senator for approximately 250,000 residents, while California has one Senator for its 27,500,000 residents. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that EACH state has TWO Senators. The electoral college reflects and imbalance in electoral votes by giving state electors in the same number as they have representation in both houses of Congress. This was by design and a popular election of the President would be deemed abhorrent by the Founders, as it would completely ignore the federalist structure of the government.

Yet to progressives, it seems self-evident that the President should be elected by the popular vote of the people. However, considering the federalist structure of the government, one could argue with equal force that the President should be elected by the majority vote of the states. Thus, while Clinton received approximately 3,000,000 more votes in the election, Trump won 10 more states than Clinton did; given the federalist structure of the government, those two measurements are of equal validity and are equally invalid. However, it would appear that the left would find the selection of the President according to the number of states won  incomprehensible. As the electoral college represents a balance between the people and the states, the Founders would likely see the effort to eliminate the electoral college to be completely contrary to the intended structure of the government.

It’s practically Bizarro-World: leftists don’t like it when the government does the things it was designed for, and insists that it do things it was never intended to handle.

If we want to talk about what the Founders would abhor, that discussion would be dominated by items from the progressive agenda.

 

 

29 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

    • I cannot understand why they are bent on rejecting influence of smaller groups when they claim to speak for all minorities. The big cities and big states do not have the same needs as everywhere else, and ignoring that is at their peril. Every majority was once a minority, and the wheel of fortune just keeps turning.

      • Well, because it’s not _their_ minority. If Hilary had won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, you can bet all these same groups would be singing the praises of the Electoral College and applauding the wisdom of the Founding Fathers for creating it.

        Cynical to be sure, but I think it’s also true.

        What’s also true — if we were going just by popular vote, Trump (and of course Clinton) would have run a different campaign designed to win that way instead of with the Electoral College. I don’t think that would be better, but there’s no guarantee Clinton would have won under those circumstances.

  1. They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

    Thinking about this part in your interesting essay, I wonder what they would think and conclude about that war itself, about the intention of certain states to separate, and what resulted from the North’s refusal to allow the secession and, then, what occurred as power was centralized into the Nation. It is quite possible it seems to me that they would oppose what happened nearly absolutely.

    • Whether the Union was perpetual or voluntary was always kind of an open question, the the Articles of Confederation do cast it as a “perpetual union.”

      However, they also knew that slavery was a divisive issue. I think it is a fair characterization of the Founders that they kicked that can down the road. They prohibited any legislation banning the importation of slaves for 20 years and, consistent with principles of full faith and credit, free states had to treat fugitive slaves as fugitive slaves, returning them to their home state.

      It was the apparent violation of this Article (Article IV, Section 2) that some states cited in their secession declarations. In that sense, they were treating the Constitution as a sort of peace treaty, and, in a very real sense, that is what it was. In a contractual sense, if there is a breach of a material term of an agreement, the agreement can be dissolved, or the aggrieved party can be excused from further performance. Both the Civil War and the earlier Nullification Crisis were premised on a presumed breach of a material term of the Constitution. However, in the case of the Nullification Crisis, the issue was tariffs. (Of course, had the Nullification Crisis led to Civil War, the progressives would be harping on the fact that the war was fought over “taxes,” instead of “slavery.”)

      They knew these were tough issues and that is why I said they would be half-surprised that it took a war to end slavery. They did what they could to minimize the likelihood of war.

      As for your broader point about whether they would have opposed the centralization of power, there was a split there too. Pretty much everyone agreed that the Articles of Confederation were weak and there had to be a stronger central government. The Constitution, however, did more than revise the Article; it framed a complete governing body, with Executive and Judicial authority. The federalists and anti-federalists were opposed on this. The federalists favored this stronger central authority, while the anti-federalists opposed the stronger central government and (rightly) expected mission-creep.

      So, to respond to your issue, the federalists would likely be pleased with the outcome of the Civil War, while the anti-federalists would feel unhappily vindicated.

      -Jut

      • Thanks for that.

        They knew these were tough issues and that is why I said they would be half-surprised that it took a war to end slavery. They did what they could to minimize the likelihood of war.

        My quibble would be with the assertion that the war was ‘to end slavery’. I know that this is how it is generally put, as if that were the reason.

        I’ve not been able to find any documents, I suppose that they do not exist (which put my idea into some doubt) but if one looks at the secession through a modern lens I cannot see how the North could have allowed the seceded states to have control over the entrance to the Mississippi River. So, the real reason to fight the war was not to end slavery but to decimate a rival power that simply could not be tolerated.

        I listened to most of this presentation on slavery by Stephan Malyneux. Perhaps you will find it interesting. (It is a general presentation about slavery in general).

        • The war ended slavery, but it was not to end slavery.

          Dred Scot was supposed to put an end to the issue of fugitive slaves. The Supreme Court thought it was avoiding war.

          With Lincoln’s Election, the South made a few mistakes.

          Some preemptively seceded, even before Lincoln was inaugurated. This could be analogous to talk of impeaching Trump before he was even sworn in. It was a rash decision.

          Then, they attacked a federal military installation. With that, the South upped its own ante. Secession was a political move that might have led to a political resolution. This, however, was a military action, which invited a military response. Lincoln could hardly not respond in kind.

          And for my Southern friends who introduced me to the phrase, War of Northern Aggression, the attack on Fort Sumter are what my lawyer friends would call “bad facts.” The South started it.

          To your other point regarding the Mississippi, Walter Williams suggested another explanation. Tariffs were the primary source of federal revenue. A large percentage of that revenue came from the industries in the South. Lincoln could not afford to lose that revenue.

          There is something to this. Lincoln enacted an income tax to help pay for the war. They may have enacted other taxes then.

          So, slavery? Yes, the South fought to protect slavery; the North did not fight to end slavery; the North fought for money (and, sure, to preserve the Union).

          -Jut

          • It seems obvious, to me anyway, that your perspective is a uniquely northern one. You present to me the general perspective which has become ‘the standard narrative’ and the National narrative. My perspective is more sympathetic to the South, obviously. But not because The Lost Cause can have any meaning for me personally, but rather because I see the Northern War of Aggression as the beginning of what is now destroying the Republic (that is, the Nation). In that action were sewn the seeds that now come to fruition as les fleurs du mal.

            The war ended slavery, but it was not to end slavery.

            The war seemed to end slavery, and it did create laws against slavery, but it also created very negative circumstances for the freed slaves and for the South. The war was a huge setback. A horrifying blow to the organic body of the Republic. A wound that cannot heal.

            The general intention, therefore, could be said to have been ‘destruction of the South’ and not the ‘preservation of the Union’: weakening it so much that it could not function as a rival. If this is so, these facts alone could explain the purposes of the war. Preservation of the Union is a patriotic lie, but a comforting one to those so inclined!

            Lincoln could hardly not respond in kind

            Our own ‘self gets wound up in the narratives that we absorb.

            I read editorials from newspapers from that time and just after that painted a very different picture (my brother in law has a substantial American Civil War section of books and these 2 volumes are a collection of all the Civil War editorials that appeared in northern and southern newspapers).

            In the one editorial I am thinking of, they praised Lincoln et al for shrewdly luring the South to ‘fire a shot’ (which killed a horse as the only casualty) and with that attack gave the North the pretext it required to launch the war that it wanted. The writers of the editorial seemed very aware about ‘what was really happening’ and were not fooled by the ‘story’.

            The editorial went on glowingly about this shrewdness. A very strategic choice it was.

            These facts change things. They provide a different view. More realistic. The ‘Attack on Ft Sumter!’ (a Federal fort as you say) is used as a justification for the North’s successive actions. But it was (in fact) set up. That is how these games are played. I suggest that this pattern has been repeated by the US Federal government (and it is a universal ploy of statecraft of course, very Machiavellian) in many following instances. Note especially the Spanish American war and the beginnings of America’s adventures in the Caribbean, the underpinning of its shift from Republic to neo-imperialism. I pay attention to what power does, not the reasons it says it does, is my approach.

            And for my Southern friends who introduced me to the phrase, War of Northern Aggression, the attack on Fort Sumter are what my lawyer friends would call “bad facts.” The South started it.

            No, not really. It is more complex than a simple, reassuring narrative. This is the narrative that you want to weave, and so you weave it. You show that people employ narratives to shield their selves from the ‘real reasons’. Discovery of the real reasons and clear, cold looking at them, is difficult. But it can be done. It does not help to solve human problems though. And the clarifications of history it offers are more troubling than the simplistic narratives that we are given and which to we wed ourselves. But for thinking people — Aner, Gune, Sophersyne! — the harder road is ultimately more rewarding. (And in our strange and dangerous present we have to disentangle ourselves from *structures of lies* — or not, I guess).

            To your other point regarding the Mississippi, Walter Williams suggested another explanation. Tariffs were the primary source of federal revenue. A large percentage of that revenue came from the industries in the South. Lincoln could not afford to lose that revenue.

            And yet it was lost.

            No doubt that those were a significant issue. I am assuming, perhaps wrongly, that there were people in the North with a more realpolitik sense of things, and that they recognized that a nation divided into two would simply not be a sane idea.

            Best to destroy Carthage and salt the fields.

            Unfortunately, salt spreads . . .

            • Alizia has many of the facts in this thread correct. The North WAS manipulating the South, and for decades before actual hostilities, using their greater political power to craft laws to do so.

              For instance, the South, when faced by a buyer’s price fixing cartel of Northern textile mills, sought to sell their cotton to other markets, England in particular. The North blocked, subverted, and generally bullied those efforts to FORCE the South to sell domestically at at much lower price (even including shipping costs!)

              This rankled. Added to many other mutual provocations, it led to the insanity of the election of 1860, where both sides were believing their own propaganda (and the worst of their country men) and inflamed passions led to unfortunate choices. People were not in their right minds.

              Like today, the power elites worked to manipulate the masses for their own enrichment and power. If, as we are told, this was all about freeing slaves, why did many northern states not free theirs immediately? New Jersey waited until a Constitutional Amendment before freeing their slaves. Others were also slow in doing so. Why did the north begin passing state and local laws forbidding blacks from moving into their jurisdictions?

              Slavery was a component in the Civil War (yes, I had family members who called it ‘The War of Northern Aggression’), but the real picture was much more complex.

              • One thing that is interesting — it might be of interest for all concerned — is the issue of ‘parallels’ that are drawn between then and now. For example when Jut says: “Some preemptively seceded, even before Lincoln was inaugurated. This could be analogous to talk of impeaching Trump before he was even sworn in. It was a rash decision.”

                The question of analogies is very interesting. But to what point can they be fairly pursued? They are tempting, that is certain. For example, I came to believe, to speculate (which is a form of interpretation, and interpretation always has a subjective element) that “the Northern War of Aggression [was] the beginning of what is now destroying the Republic (that is, the Nation). In that action were sewn the seeds that now come to fruition as les fleurs du mal.”

                I will admit that this is a radical stance. It turns against a set of interpretations of American history that are at the core of American patriotism and American self-definition. Unfortunately, if one pulls at one of the main structural threads in the cloth of American ideology, the established narrative begins to unravel.

                But this is an important point, and one of the main points I often try to bring out: we live in a time of competing narratives, competing definitions of what America is and who, indeed, America is for. At one extreme end there are people now who desire to establish the narrative of America as a Universal idea or force. They not only seem to say but they do say that ‘America belongs to the world’.

                But at another extreme there are those who hold to the idea that America was established ‘for ourselves and our posterity’ [“. . . and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”].

                There is a great deal of ideology at work in both of these positions. Universal Idealism vs a more Concrete Idealism. Universal idealism is more abstract and, I think it fair to say, more sentimental. Yet concrete idealism is more honest, more pragmatic, even self-ish and self-oriented.

                But *pushing on the analogies* is a fun undertaking! Trump was elected under the banner (which has historical precedent) of America First! That is a dangerous and even a radical assertion in the Postwar atmosphere! By ‘Postwar’ I mean of course a hyper-liberal even radically liberal social and cultural situation: post Sixties certainly. It is ‘logical’ given he predicates of a huge swath of America’s population that they would be alarmed by what this meant and what it might mean.

                So, their ‘resistance’ is not really ‘irrational reaction’, but is internally consistent. The same is true as well for the rising tide of socialism (or pseudo-socialism as the case may be). Was it not President Roosevelt who steered the country in that direction? Was not one of the results of America’s engagement in WW2 the socialization of the country? Were not all the present ‘tenets of American ideology and self-definition’ established during this period? And is this not a ‘construct’ as I often say? And to that notion of ‘construct I would add ‘Cathedral’:

                Curtis Yarvin’s [aka Mencius Moldbug] idea of “the Cathedral” is a recurring theme; it is a “distributed conspiracy”, one that treats feminism, democracy, and other “progressive” causes, and the general world view of educated Westerners, as the current world’s version of an established church:

                “And the left is the party of the educational organs, at whose head is the press and universities. This is our 20th-century version of the established church. Here at UR, we sometimes call it the Cathedral — although it is essential to note that, unlike an ordinary organization, it has no central administrator. No, this will not make it easier to deal with.”

                The Cathedral is a very interesting idea. It is not hard to grasp what it refers to and what it means. You enter a Cathedral and stare at all its monuments and artifacts. You absorb their meaning and their meaning has been monumentalized. You have no alternative but to take it as a ‘metaphysical whole’.

                So, the issue is Who will control the Cathedral of America? This is not a minor nor an academic point!

                • America first, the governing principle, is distinct from the America First movement. Stating that a governments’ prime duty is to its own nation’s welfare and that of its citizens is government ethics 101, and all Trump was doing was asserting that despite the One Worlders propaganda, that hasn’t changed. And it hasn’t.

                  • America first, the governing principle, is distinct from the America First movement. Stating that a governments’ prime duty is to its own nation’s welfare and that of its citizens is government ethics 101, and all Trump was doing was asserting that despite the One Worlders propaganda, that hasn’t changed. And it hasn’t.

                    It is true that the ‘governing principle’ is distinct from the specific historical movement America First.

                    It is untrue that any particular government can really be said to have had a plan of ‘America first’ because of corruption, undermining of economic position by corporate sell-out, and any number of different factors. Therefore, the question is really: What does America First mean? And who defines it. And which America?

                    If there were really ‘duty to the nation’s welfare and its citizens’, then the US government, intellectuals, academics and others would not have reengineered America to be something different than what it had been. Or, they (the citizens) would have had some voice in deciding their own fate (and this turns back on the question of Which America? when one speaks of ‘American interest’.

                    America has — let us face it, or in any case let me state it boldly — been sold-out. Many people see this, and talk about it. It is a common article of perception. So, how is ‘America first’ or America First to be seen in relation to that? And what does ‘reclaiming America’ mean?

                    Neither is there any guarantee or certainty that Donald Trump is actually a positive agent in either making America first a priority. His bluster makes that seem so. But some say that he is just as much involved in levels of underhanded activity as many others.

                    Finally, since the slogan America First was used, it has ‘echoes’ to the former meanings, and those meanings have to do with nationalist sentiment, the question of ‘which America’ is to be highlighted (demographic issues) and all of this in the context of what seem to be powerful elite forces, profoundly un-American or supra-American that are molding America as against the will of its people, and here I would say ‘original demographic’.

                    So there is a great deal of complexity which your quotes paragraph does not — does not wish to — take into consideration.

                    Thus my rôle which I humbly fulfill . . .

                • Thank you for your reply, Alizia. America has fallen in her greatest aspirations, it is true. All we can do is work from where we are, practically, with the tools we have at hand. Your attempt to hand us tools that do not help in that struggle in… noted. America bad, we get it. (Name a better country, please?)

                  If nothing else, I get a free lunch today as you responded with more than 500 words, so I got that going for me. I am thinking Thai…

                  • The reason you misunderstand me is because you have no capacity to deal in critical terms. I have come to see that there are personalities that are constructed in such a way that they take any criticism as an attack on the very self. That is why I refer to the marriage between ideology and self. Maybe you are beginning to understand what I mean? But if not, I am patient!

                    If you really do think that America has ‘fallen from her greatest aspirations’ I would imagine that you’d have something to say about that. In any case, there is surely an important conversation there to be had. I think that having the in-depth conversation, with you, is very hard.

                    I have referred recently to ‘The Dispossessed Majority’ and at least one person who writes here has read it (and approved of it as a critical source). But I get the sense that his level of critique, and his criticism, would cause you to collapse — the stress would be too great!

                    No new tools are being proposed, in fact. Just a realistic and historically grounded way of interpreting — seeing — what is going on.

                    • The reason you misunderstand me is because you have no capacity to deal in critical terms…. having the in-depth conversation, with you, is very hard… But I get the sense that his level of critique, and his criticism, would cause you to collapse — the stress would be too great!

                      BITE ME, you arrogant smug self satisfied pseudo-intellectual hack. Your logic is crap, your assumptions about the US and other contributors here is worse, and your delivery makes me want to drag myself across broken glass, naked, rather than read your drivel.*

                      You will undoubtedly make yourself out as a martyr (as you always do) out of this response, but you deserve every pixel of it. Instead of accepting even mild agreement for your postings in any form, you must turn and bite the hand that feeds you: a true ‘Scorpion and the Frog’ fable come to life.

                      Now I have to fall back to the old tried and true: Do NOT reply to my posts with this sort of America bashing half baked anti semitic, false superior spew. Time to dust off the old boilerplate response:

                      “Alizia has proven herself a smug self-righteous anti-American know-it-all. She is the only holder of Truth, and anyone who disagrees will be subjected to name calling and belittling, which (being a Golden Rule violation) is unethical. As such I will not dignify her responses any further.”

                      *Boy, am I channeling Zoltar or what?

                    • You will undoubtedly make yourself out as a martyr (as you always do) out of this response, but you deserve every pixel of it. Instead of accepting even mild agreement for your postings in any form, you must turn and bite the hand that feeds you: a true ‘Scorpion and the Frog’ fable come to life.

                      Not a martyr really, more like ‘a sacrificial victim’. I offer myself to the general abuse of a particular forum because I resolve only to be concerned about the ideas, not the egos of the ones discussing here. Doing this, people then project their ire and bad animus on me. I don’t like it but I resolved to make the best of it.

                      Ah, I can help you here. We have to put to the side our personal relationship to the problems, and even to the Nation, and engage in a real and a profound critique. It is very crucial that we do this. It is a serious juncture in history.

                      What is more important than getting wrapped up in emotionalism and ego-crises is working to get to the truth: to be able to see and describe things accurately.

                      What that entails is taking a stand against the Self (the ego) that gets wedded to its preferred stories.

                      I resolved to accept a kind of pariah role. It was given to me for being a dissident and for contradicting the standard and accepted opinions. I get much more out of my pariah-status than in establishing ego-satisfying forum friendships and team-ups or, worse by far, sacrificing the sharpness of my opinions in order to preserve harmony.

                      I am here to fight. But I mean you nor anyone else any offense. This is all great fun. I hope that you calm down and then make an effort to defend your position. Everything I say I can back up.

                      . . . America bashing half baked anti semitic . . .

                      If you describe me as an anti-Semite you are flatly wrong. I am a Semite first off, and one who accepted Christianity. And at the same time I know more about Jews and Jewish culture and certainly about anti-Semitism than most. But what I am is anti-Zionist, and I am definitely opposed to the kind of power and influence Israel has over American politics. I am aware of the rising current of Jewish criticism (which does have a border-area where it merges into traditional anti-Semitism) aware without a doubt much more aware than you — and I can speak about it with even a certain authority. These are the things that I study because I have a certain amount — actually a lot — of free time to do so.

                      All my ideas on the topic have relevancy because they are reasoned and philosophical. I can discuss these things in clear, somewhat removed, rational terms. I have noticed that most that I am aware of, here on this blog (since this is the environment we are both in) can’t. They have no critical tools and no skill to converse delicate and also forbidden (PC patrolled) topics. Please, dig out anything that I have ever said that could be fairly said to be anti-Semitic or Jew hating. You won’t be able to because I don’t think in those terms.

                      Again, when you allow your emotionalism to get the better of you, you then make all sorts of errors in your perception. But if you understand what I am doing and why you might — God willing — modify your insulting opinions. (But I am uuuussssseeeeedddddd to it!)

                    • Alizia has proven herself a smug self-righteous anti-American know-it-all. She is the only holder of Truth, and anyone who disagrees will be subjected to name calling and belittling, which (being a Golden Rule violation) is unethical. As such I will not dignify her responses any further.

                  • The other thing I forgot to say, which is also important, is that you are just one of a long line of people who have opted for the ‘insult route’ when the conversation does not go your way. You indulge in a freak-out, scream insults, which is really really poor behavior on any group forum. Doing this, and when numbers of people do this, it sets up a sort of atmosphere around the one that you condemn. Somewhat like how Steve of NJ abused valkygrrl. Or the way that ‘the group’ feels just fine at venting against those they identify as ‘leftists’. It is a way to poison the environment, not to keep it opening up and expanding.

                    You do a disservice to the blog.

                    It is embarrassing to witness and it has the effect of prejudicing others. It sets up those unhealthy group-dynamics that always seem to develop on smallish forums. But I think that this is your intention. Would you feel better on a blog where all the commentators were of the same opinion?

                    Carrying on as you have — with rather grotesque insults — people like Steve Witherspoon feel it appropriate to mimic your approach, as if it is okay. The whole thing is really ‘unethical’ I have to say. You should keep your opinions (of that sort) to yourself. Or temper them and then stick to debating the ideas.

                    You have committed the error here and the misdeed. But you project it out of your own self onto me. I see this. You should also start to see it.

  2. *Boy, am I channeling Zoltar or what?

    [I hacked out this little essay, I hope you like it!] 🙂

    In the utter strangeness of this Present we are the field where large, telling and significant conflicts are played out. I think this must be taken as a given. I will try to explain. The topic of Jut’s essay is what the Founders would have supported or condemned, but the larger context for those who meditate on the meaning of the present is a profound social and existential conflict that is right on the verge of developing into some sort of civil conflict. The Founders would likely be incapable of dealing within the terms of the present. In all this, I suggest that the irrational and the emotive be given special attention. I think it fair to take the NYTs as a prime example, a study in fact, of how profound ressentiment is playing out. Every article drips with psychological gunk, every article contaminates. It’s sexual, political, social, inter-relational, literate, sportsman, and even cuisine-related! There is needed a Master Psychologist, a social therapist, to get to the bottom of it. Is there a cure? (Not if ressentiment is incurable).

    The hard part, for you Slick, and for everyone who shares the field in which all of this is playing out (the domain of the self) is when one is forced to confront one’s complicity. So, yes, when you *channel Zoltar* what you mean is when you slip into a state in which you are consumed by ressentiment. In that state, and given over to it, the other really does seem to be thoroughly evil and, as a result, condemnable. One takes up a position in relation to what one condemns and sees them . . . as little more than a cockroach.

    Here is a working definition:

    Ressentiment (French pronunciation: ​[rɛsɑ̃timɑ̃]) is the French translation of the English word resentment (from Latin intensive prefix re-, and sentir “to feel”). In philosophy and psychology it is a concept that was of particular interest to the existentialist philosophers. According to the existentialists, ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority complex and perhaps even jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. This value system is then used as a means of justifying one’s own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defense mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

    The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

    You are aware, of course, as I am aware, that writing this will only increase the level of contempt that I invoke? Now why is that? The answer is simple: we resent those who turn the lens of examination around, and in this sense we have ressentiment for those who show us our failings, or bring criticisms out into the open, or expose the dynamics of complicity.

    I was asked — essentially — by this Blog itself to plunge into ethical questions and considerations. Instead of merely focusing on ‘surface’ it seemed to me that it was, that it is, necessary to get to the bottom of things, or to the heart of things. But what is the heart? (le coeur a ses raisons . . .) There is nothing simple about this. It is political, moral, existential, value-based, social, ethnic, cultural: all these things that are coming to a head in our present, and the only way that I can see to approach them is to bring it all out into the open. So, this is the price that I pay personally: to be repaid with contempt and ressentiment.

    You know that I have zero faith in so-called American Conservatism. It is a sham. So, this is one of my starting points as well as a starting point for an emerging New Right. This is how I began on this blog: offering to explain that New Right and declaring ‘we are here to stay’. *We* assert that *you* are not solutions to the problem, if that problem is defined (not easy) but are rather deeply enmeshed in the creation of the problems. That is as can easily be seen a position that is seen as ‘intolerable’. Must it be seen in that way? I am unsure. But it sure seems to be like that. To state this in this way is, for you but not for me, to become your enemy. Saying what I say, sticking to it, holding to my position, defining my ideas, explaining myself: this arouses bottomless ressentiment. But that ressentiment is really in the same family of animosity as the sort of hatred and contempt the Progressive Left deals in: profoundly psychological, blaming, guilt-slinging.

    Here I think anyone can recognize the relevancy of this issue and problem. That is, we can easily see that the Left is possessed by its ressentiment. It is always easier to see the failings in the other, or to project onto them:

    I. Ressentiment is an incurable, persistent feeling of hating and despising which occurs in certain individuals and groups. It takes its root in equally incurable impotencies or weaknesses that those subjects constantly suffer from.These impotencies generate either individual or collective, but always negative, emotive attitudes.They can permeate a whole culture, era, and an entire moral system. The feeling of ressentiment leads to false moral judgments made on other people who are devoid of this feeling. Such judgments are not infrequently accompanied by rash, at times fanatical claims of truth generated by the impotency this feeling comes from.

    There are various kinds of impotencies from which, strangely enough, the very strength of ressentiment feelings well up. They can be psychic, mental, social, or physical impotencies, disadvantages, weaknesses or deficiencies of various kinds. The individuals and groups concerned suffer from a blockage to communicate with others. They tend to come on slow and, if at all, they can hardly vent what keeps on plaguing them.

    I suggest that when we exteriorize this, that analysis of our present, and our selves in that present, becomes more clear.

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