I had a long list of topics I wanted to write about today, but I have been rendered mostly unproductive due to some malady or another. Luckily, and not for the first time, readers have come through with content at least as valuable as anything I could have generated. I already have backlog from the last two Open Forums, and some delayed Comment of the Day as well. I am very grateful.
This Comment of the Day is another from the frequently history-minded (and often pessimistic) Steve-O-in-NJ, and his subject is the bad ideas, an evergreen topic, focusing on the tweet above, which is more representative of the current drift of progressive thought (it one is generous enough to call it that). Only one previous post had the “bad ideas” tag: this one, on “fertility equality.” I bet there are a hundred more that should have it, like anything about making Kamala Harris Vice-President.
The U.S. and the world have hosted some pretty bad ideas over time.
The tulip bulb bubble, the ancient astronauts theory (remember “Chariots of the Gods?”), phrenology, New Coke, the XFL, and Boston selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees were some of the more benign ones. John Maxwell’s execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and the National Guard opening fire at Kent State were some of the ones that were not so harmless. The Reign of Terror, where the Committee on Public Safety sent who knows how many to the guillotine for any reason or no reason, Pol Pot’s Year Zero, in which towns, money, religion, and private property were abolished and execution by clubbing to death by a pick or a hoe, also for any reason or no reason,, Petrograd Order No. 1 (mostly now forgotten) which de facto stripped military officers of disciplinary authority, causing the Russian military to collapse like a deflated balloon in the face of renewed German offensives, and Hitler’s crackpot racial theories were examples of instant disasters.
A modern society, indeed any society, must have some form of order, some means of maintaining order, and some level of trust and good faith in those who perform that task in order to function. In the Middle Ages, religion kept people in their place and from demanding fairness, which had the effect of maintaining order, although it was an order that served mainly to keep the lowly low and the lofty lofty. In the 19th century the governments of Europe eventually had to use force to maintain order while allowing enough reforms to keep the people satisfied, since no one wanted a repeat of 1848. The times when things have become completely lawless have been almost always utter catastrophies. The Nika revolt in Constantinople was about as close to complete destruction as a Western society ever got. The Jacquerie almost turned France into a wasteland. Then we can talk about the modern revolts in Portugal, Ireland, et al. All of them had two things in common: life sucked for ordinary people during these lawless times, and eventually when they were put down there was huge loss of life, property, and personal and societal freedoms.
We’ve been talking about these issues here, or at least I have been with anyone who will listen, for over a year. What we have now is a bad idea that’s quickly approaching the level of those really disastrous ones listed above. Those behind it can cloak it in whatever rhetoric they want. However, it boils down to those given power, with the understanding that with it comes duties and obligations to those who gave it to them, abandoning their duties and obligations to most of those who gave it to them or using that power against them. Businesses can’t function if anyone can steal from them with impunity. Landlords can’t function if there is no mechanism for tenants to be made to meet their obligations to them. The police can’t function if there are too few of them, if they are underequipped, and the prosecutors are more interested in jailing them than lawbreakers.
All of this means ordinary people can’t function. If ordinary people can’t function, then society can’t function. If society can’t function, then eventually you will get a collapse.