Rage as a political philosophy

A lot of progressives uphold the following positions:

  • Doing business only with people whose views you approve is evil.
  • Refusing to do business with people who want to do business only with people whose views they approve is good.
  • Refusing to do business with people because of the state they live in is good.
  • Pushing out employees whom you disagree with is good, and it contributes to diversity in the workplace.
  • People accused of crimes should have the full benefit of the doubt.
  • People accused of rape on thin evidence should be presumed guilty.
  • Racial insults are among the most disgusting things people can do,
  • Calling a black person a “clown in blackface” is merely “not carefully considered.”

There’s no way to find any consistency in these claims, but if you look at the beneficiaries, there’s no problem detecting the pattern. People will pull out wildly inconsistent principles as long as they produce the immediate outcome they want. When the outcome is inconvenient — for instance, if someone sues a business for refusing to bake a cake with an anti-gay message — they just pretend it isn’t happening.

This would make a kind of sense if progressives had absolute control. Then they could decree any actions they wanted and not care whether they followed any coherent principle or not. But in practice, conservatives are often able to pass laws, not necessarily with any more consistency, which progressives don’t like. What objection can the progressives raise? That those laws benefit the wrong people? Then there’s no issue of right vs. wrong, just “us” winning vs. “them” winning.

Once you’ve decided to base your principles on which side you’re backing, all that’s left is a struggle for power. The moral high ground belongs to whoever can express the greatest rage. Debate is impossible; offering debate concedes that you aren’t enraged enough to talk to your opponents. A striking example was the boycott campaign by some gays against gay-friendly Fire Island Pines Establishments for engaging in dialogue with Ted Cruz.

Another example is the following tweet by someone I don’t know, saying, “my vote is that none of the GOP candidates are allowed to run and the election can just be between Hillary and Bernie.” You can call it an isolated nutcase, but it got five retweets and four favorites. When you can get points for sufficient rage, even advocacy of replacing free elections with one-party rule becomes acceptable.
Tweet calling for no GOP candidates to be allowed to run

When people adopt rage as their standard, they have no business talking about justice, with or without adjectives, and no reason to expect any if they win. Take Judge Lisa Gorcya, who sent a nine-year-old to jail, comparing him to Charles Manson’s followers, for refusing to talk with his abusive father. If being angry constitutes justification, her decision was totally sound.

Look at some history to see what happens to countries where rage, not reason, is the driving force behind change. It isn’t pretty. Don’t think you’ll win by out-snarling your opponents.

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One Response to “Rage as a political philosophy”

  1. Eyal Mozes Says:

    I completely agree.

    If I have one caveat, it is that you are being too generous to progressives in attributing to them:

    •Doing business only with people whose views you approve is evil.
    •Refusing to do business with people who want to do business only with people whose views they approve is good.

    The reasons progressives have attacked Hobby Lobby, for example, was not because they wanted to do business only with people whose views they approve; they regularly do business with non-Christians, and employ many non-Christians. The outrage against them was for their desire not to actively assist in providing certain forms of contraception of which they disapprove.

    Similarly, Memory Pizza have regularly done business with non-Christians, and have also regularly served same-sex couples. Again, the reason for the attacks on them was not a desire by the owners of Memory Pizza to do business only with people whose views they approve; it was for their desire not to actively assist in same-sex weddings of which they disapprove. The same is true for all the photographers, bakers and florists who’ve been attacked for their refusal to participate in same-sex weddings; in all the cases I’m aware of, these businesses have regularly done business with people whose views they disapprove.

    Over the years progressives have declared boycotts against many businesses for the owner expressing views of which they disapprove; the boycott against Chick-fil-A for Dan Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage, and the 2009 boycott of Whole Foods in reaction to John Mackey’s criticisms of Obamacare, are two examples that immediately come to mind. Has anyone other than progressives ever tried to do business only with people whose views they approve? I can’t think offhand of any such cases; this seems a distinctly progressive practice.

    So a more accurate description of the progressive view is:

    •Doing business only with people whose views I approve is good.
    •Using ideas other than mine to exercise any choice in when to do business is evil.


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