Friday Flotsam: Political Mobs and Some Other Stuff

1. Is it just me, or do most motivational speeches sound exactly the same? “I had something I wanted to do, and I worked hard every single day, and I’m committed, and I have my teammates’ backs,” etc. It is as if they are all made to pattern, formed by the same teacher or following the same script. I suppose many of the same traits go into success in different fields, but it does get rather boring after a while.

On that note, with the number of self-help books, talks, programs, and so on in our world, you have to wonder why there’s still a market for them. Not to mention, of course, that the existence of such a vast market itself testifies that we don’t really know what we’re doing.

2. Big news this week, of course, is we have a new national crisis in the form of the Supreme Court possibly voting to toss Roe v. Wade and stop calling infanticide an unalienable right (which would send it back for each individual state to vote on). It remains to be seen, as of this writing, whether it sees the matter through, but already it’s enough to have some of the usual people pretending that the court overturning a previous ruling is somehow unusual and unconscionable.

3. Personally, I think this leak was an effort to weaponize the mob against the move (which, peak at news commentary…yeah, I’m not the only one). This is a classic political tactic: get the people fired up to the point where those in charge start to fear for their lives and / or careers, and you can intimidate them into doing whatever you want. There’s a pretty famous example of this involving a Roman governor in an obscure Middle Eastern province, if you want to look it up, but the tactic has been used throughout history. It’s a particular favorite of populist political types – democrats, republicans, and so on – since it has the added and softer threat of career loss (and so getting the result without driving to desperation), and it allows them to continue to preen themselves on being the delegates of the people. The French Revolution, for instance, was largely driven by weaponizing the famously touchy Parisian mobs by one group or another, and so were a lot of the social movements in the 1960s, among many others

It’s a good tactic if you’re not overburdened with principles, especially if your opponent is. But not too serious or committed principles; you don’t want him staring you down. Just enough to make him squeamish about starting a fight, but not enough for him to lock you in the tennis court until you realize just how few chamber pots you have available. A well-meaning, kind-hearted man who genuinely wants to do the right thing but lacks resolution is the best casting choice for a monstrous, inhuman tyrant in these cases, because he’ll start out trying to enforce the law, but back down before any of the revolutionaries actually get hurt. But I digress.

This seems to be exactly what they’re doing: “here’s a leak of what the Court might rule; mob, do your stuff to convince these spineless worms to stay in line.”

(Of course, if your opponents try it, then that’s utterly unacceptable and an attack upon our system of government. Remember, Progressives only have one standard, and that is that their agenda advances. Hence the name).

4. By the way, from what I understand, this is also how ‘studies’ programs became part of university life: angry protestors took over an administration building and refused to leave until their demands were met, including the demand of cheating their fellow students with absurdly useless degrees to make themselves feel important. Once again because the school administrators didn’t want to risk appearing as heavy-handed reactionary racists by calling the police and having the protestors escorted off campus.

5. Speaking of the French Revolution, something that really stands out to me in reading about it was how extremely sudden it was. Absolutely no one at the start of the Estates General had any idea of overthrowing the Monarchy and re-building France from the ground up. It opened with a solemn procession and High Mass, and the expectations was that they’d deal with some key reforms (e.g. the Nobility were ready to start paying taxes) and that was it. Within a year the Monarchy was effectively overthrown, within two the monasteries were dissolved and Cluny burned to the ground, and within four the king and queen were murdered and the most prosperous and well-educated nation in Europe was butchering people in the streets.

Revolutions and other massive historical shifts can happen almost before you’re aware of them. A kingdom goes on more or less at it has done for centuries, then it collapses into something totally different seemingly overnight.

Something to keep in mind.

6. Excellent piece by the marvelous Caroline Furlong here on Hank Pym and the frustration occasioned by lack of focus. Highly recommended, especially for any content creators trying to carve out a body of work and turn their passions in livelihoods.

7. A St. Thomas Aquinas anecdote I learned for the first time this week:

St. Thomas was famously gullible in day-to-day affairs. One night some of his brothers at the monastery decided to pull a prank on him. They all rushed to the window and cried “Brother Thomas, look! There’s a witch flying over the moon!”

St. Thomas immediately rushed to the window to see, whereupon they all started laughing at him.

“Did you really believe that?” one asked him jocularly.

“Well,” said St. Thomas. “I would much have preferred to believe that there was a witch flying over the moon than that my religious brothers would lie to me.”

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