Green Room

Zombie Revolution

posted at 8:12 pm on November 11, 2009 by

I generally take holy days — sorry, holidays — as an opportunity for posts of a more philosophical nature, and today is no exception.

Walter Williams, one of my favorite authors (though I haven’t read his recent books), has a column in which he notes the contempt that Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) holds for the United States Constitution, insofar as it might limit her power to rule over the rest of us:

At Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Oct. 29th press conference, a CNS News reporter asked, “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” Speaker Pelosi responded, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” The reporter said, “Yes, yes, I am.” Not responding further, Pelosi shook her head and took a question from another reporter. Later on, Pelosi’s press spokesman Nadeam Elshami told CNSNews.com about its question regarding constitutional authority mandating that individual Americans buy health insurance. “You can put this on the record. That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

He notes that it’s not just Democrats but Republicans and Independents in Congress who by and large dismiss constitutional limitations on their power as unserious questions. I made a similar point in a recent e-mail I sent to our e-steamed co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver; in response to a question he asked — how in the world a military base like Fort Hood became a “gun-free zone,” in which American soldiers were as helpless as high-school children against a lone man with a pair of gats — I responded with a description but not an explanation:

There is something terribly wrong when a country of free men and women doesn’t even trust its own soldiers to carry firearms. As I said in that 37-part phone message I left you, we’re going through a period of retrenchment of government a la 1912 or 1932; it began sometime in the term of George H.W. Bush, continued through Clinton and Bush-43, and is now hitting it’s apex — I hope! — in Barack H. Obama and Obamunism.

But as you can see, I begged Brad’s question: Why do we periodically go through such “periods of retrenchment of government?” Why is it, as Williams says in his column, that “mankind’s standard fare throughout his history, and in most places today, is arbitrary control and abuse by government?”

I hearken back to my second novel, Warriorwards (Baen Books, 1990), when I first began groping for an explanation. What I came to realize is this: Being a slave is tremendously attractive to most people in the world at most times of history.

The primary advantage of being a slave is complete absolution from any responsibility for one’s own life; the slavemaster makes all decisions — and he alone can be held accountable for one’s life, health, and well-being. As absurd as it sounds stated so baldly, most people would rather die than take responsibility for living.

Think how many opportunities “we” — the universal we; I don’t mean every reader of this blogpost or its author) — how many opportunities “we” seize to divest ourselves of responsibility for thinking for ourselves:

  • Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them.
  • Some rigidly follow an injudiciously chosen creed, doctrine, or ideology wherever it leads.
  • A great many learn what they believe from their parents — either slavish devotion to their familial beliefs, or childish rebellion against.
  • Others succumb to peer pressure, doing and believing whatever their friends do and believe.
  • Many blindly obey the law without ever thinking, “What if the law is wrong?” They are the “good Germans.”
  • Millions emulate celebrities.
  • Tens of millions accept the worldview given us by CBS, Fox News, TV Land, or Lifetime.
  • An unknown but very large number mold their lives to resemble the fictional escapades of movie heroes, sitcom stars, rap lyrics, or videogame characters.
  • And many abdicate even the pitiful responsibilty of playing Follow the Leader by living drunken, drugged, dissolute lives — “out on a leave of absence from any resemblance to reality,” as John Hiatt put it in “the Tiki Bar Is Open.”

These “lifestyle choices” all have one thing in common: They remove responsibility for making decisions. Adherents needn’t ask what to do; somebody else will tell them. The only duty imposed upon the great majority of hypnotized souls is to sit quietly in the dark and wait for instructions.

This is as true in free nations as much as in obvious totalitarian tyrannies; the only difference is whether the State allows the handful of dissenters, who always exist, to practice their abominations openly; or whether they must practice their self-abuse — thinking for themselves — as a solitary vice.

Of course, a nation doesn’t need a majority of its citizens accepting responsibility for their own lives in order to create a government tolerant of liberty… else no nation would ever be free. A vocal and powerful minority is generally all that is required.

But even that much is hard to maintain! In how many countries of the world is a powerful minority voice raised against tribalism, theocracy, plutocracy, socialism, racism (for real, I mean, rejecting all racial preference), and every other “ism” which human beings use to dodge the horror of thinking for ourselves? I’ll bet you couldn’t find more than five such countries today — and some would argue that the true number is zero. I’m not sure I can refute them.

I personally hated childhood: I hated being told what to do — not just because I sometimes didn’t get to do stupid things, but even when the prohibition was rational; I just didn’t like other people doing my thinking for me. But this may well have been influenced by my less-than-secure childhood.

I don’t know how I would have turned out had my father been a benevolent despot, a man I could respect. I might have ended up as servile as Nancy Pelosi’s constituents.

The reality for me was that the Grand Bargain, in which we trade liberty for security, was no bargain; it was so obviously not a bargain in my childhood that I never developed the knee-jerk acceptance of Authority that is the natural state of Man.

I have never looked into the question, but I wonder what percent of those who actually fight for liberty against their own leaders grew up in similarly unpleasant circumstances. I have great respect for those who fight for their country on behalf of their leaders; but it takes a powerful ideology of liberty — not to mention huevos gigantescos — to do as our forebears did in the Revolutionary War: Take up arms against one’s own country when it has become a thing of loathsome tyranny.

Look, I have nothing against Tea-Partiers; they’re nice, and they might even help Republicans against Democrats (and help fiscal conservatives against socialist Republicans). But let’s face facts: The main reason so many people attend Tea Parties is to socialize, the same reason most Marxists, churchgoers, and Freemasons attend their own gatherings. Folks like to hang out with the like-minded, chatter and gossip, sing group-affirming songs, and in general have a holiday (and I don’t mean holy day this time) with their friends.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin did not fight for the first (and only) revolution for liberty in order to picnic and hook up with girls.

So the real answer to Brad’s question is a sad answer: Left unchecked, government grows and metastasizes like a cancer because that’s what “we the people” want it to do. (Not every individual, but a sizable majority of them.) For most folks, slavery is a very attractive prospect; the real outrage comes only when they trade away their liberty for the promise of security — and the promise is broken.

I think that is why support for President Barack H. Obama has collapsed so thoroughly. Rhetoric aside, had he actually delivered on his promise to infantalize Americans and then suckle and comfort them like babies, I don’t think he would be in as much political hot water. It was only when it became clear that he had no intention of protecting us from the vicissitudes of life that opposition swelled in a tidal wave of anger and political action.

As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote (in his Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759), “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I believe this to be true, but it’s an ineffective way of educating the great majority of people. It’s a moral argument, and folks tend to tune those out (they hear so many, each contradicting the other). If they were the type to analyze moral arguments and logically pick one, they wouldn’t need this advice in the first place!

I’ve come to believe that for most, morality flows from habit; and habit is driven by necessity. You get more traction arguing from necessity, practicality, the argument from empiricism, than telling people what they should do or what they deserve to get.

The best argument for liberty, then, is not to try to persuade people that liberty is better, finer, more advanced, or more godly than slavery — but to convince them that slavery doesn’t work. So long as people think they really can trade a great deal of essential liberty for a little temporary safety, most will seize the opportunity and thank the tyrant heartily.

The task for those of us who reject the Grand Bargain even in principle is to make all the zombies realize that such a deal always, always, always falls apart in practice. The ghouls who offer it never intend to fulfill their side of the bargain; their only goal is to lull us into a false sense of security, so they can loot us of everything we think we own.

If you see an ad offering a cherry 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera for $5,000, don’t bother answering it; you know going in it’s a fraud, because nobody would offer so much car for so little money.

Just so, when the One says to give him complete control over your health care, and he guarantees you’ll get all the medical treatment you want for less than you’re paying now — or he says that we’ll have more and cheaper energy if we pass his cripple and tax bill — or he says workers will have more freedom to choose the union they want (or no union at all) if we take away the secret ballot… well, he’s offering you a Carrera for five grand.

Once a person accepts the argument from empiricism, he will be forced to begin thinking for himself, because he can’t trust others to have his own interests at heart. He rightly recognizes that each throne or power has its own interests at heart. Such thinking will grow into a habit; then and only then will habit give rise to a moral imperative.

Thank reason that the president’s governing policy of Obamunism is so ham-fisted and clumsy that even the lowliest zombie is starting to wake from his thanatotic sleep. Let’s hope he doesn’t roll over and hit the snooze button once more.

Cross-posted to Big Lizards

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Think how many opportunities “we” — the universal we; I don’t mean every reader of this blogpost or its author) — how many opportunities “we” seize to divest ourselves of responsibility for thinking for ourselves:
Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them.

Wow, offensive much?

Good thing I don’t give a crap about your view of my particular belief system or how I live my life. But just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean you should dismiss all people who have religious beliefs as trying to “abdicate” responsibility for their life choices.

mjk on November 11, 2009 at 9:36 PM

The best argument for liberty, then, is not to try to persuade people that liberty is better, finer, more advanced, or more godly than slavery — but to convince them that slavery doesn’t work. So long as people think they really can trade a great deal of essential liberty for a little temporary safety, most will seize the opportunity and thank the tyrant heartily.

That’s the money quote right there. Excellent. And as for the slavery to a belief system—I think he has the Nidal Hasans of the world in mind.

Sekhmet on November 11, 2009 at 10:47 PM

I wish some journalist would ask Peggy Joseph, a voter in Sarasota, Florida who Michelle Malkin called “Peggy the Moocher” (link) how she feels now. Peggy…

exulted earlier this week at a Barack Obama rally that this was “the most memorable time of my life.” Why? As she told a Florida reporter on a YouTube video now viewed by hundreds of thousands: “Because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know. If I help [Obama], he’s gonna help me.”

Did he, Peggy? How do you feel about that now? Can you tell us anything you’ve learned from your experience?

David Blue on November 12, 2009 at 1:33 AM

Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible…(snip)…to think for them.

Yeah, I gotta call BS on this.

Just because you give your life to God, to do as He wants, doesn’t make you a slave to Him. Far from it: It is, in fact, liberation from the slavery of sin.

Is the son a slave to his father? Is the husband a slave to his wife?

I am describing a natural relationship, not a master/slave relationship.

BlameAmericaLast on November 12, 2009 at 1:48 AM

Yeah, I gotta call BS on this.

Just because you give your life to God, to do as He wants, doesn’t make you a slave to Him. Far from it: It is, in fact, liberation from the slavery of sin.

Is the son a slave to his father? Is the husband a slave to his wife?

I am describing a natural relationship, not a master/slave relationship.

BlameAmericaLast on November 12, 2009 at 1:48 AM

I think what Dafydd is trying to say is those who blindly and totally give themselves up to an authority posing as God (i.e. a preacher) or those who can only live by one code at the exclusion of all others. I’ll be the first to say that anyone who truly lived by what the bible says is a man living a life worth living. On the same hand, there are those who blindly follow their preachers off cliffs of moral hazard.

Like Sekhmet said, the Nidal Hassans of the world come to mind.

That said, excellent post Dafydd. I’ve got two new co-workers who are blind liberals. They have no idea what liberalism is, what conservatism is, and quite frankly what anything is. I’ve decided never to argue with them. If they cannot listen to reason, then I’ll not try reasoning with them.

If slavery does come, I’ll simply ask them ‘is this what you wanted?’ It is what they voted for.

Chaz706 on November 12, 2009 at 8:00 AM

I think what Dafydd is trying to say is those who blindly and totally give themselves up to an authority posing as God (i.e. a preacher) or those who can only live by one code at the exclusion of all others.

I think he’s an outstanding writer and said precisely what he meant. Why sugarcoat it? When someone isn’t a believer, they naturally enough think believers are idiots. I don’t know any Christians living such an unexamined caricature of a life, but doubtless some are out there and maybe that’s who Daffyd’s been in contact with. Likewise for the Tea Partiers. He asserts that the main reason people show up is for a social event. That’s not been my experience at all, and there’s absolutely no empirical evidence that it’s true. But it’s pointless to quibble about the details. I’m quite sure nothing I write would convince him he’s wrong.

Daffyd, I do think you’re absolutely right about the way going forward:

The task for those of us who reject the Grand Bargain even in principle is to make all the zombies realize that such a deal always, always, always falls apart in practice. The ghouls who offer it never intend to fulfill their side of the bargain; their only goal is to lull us into a false sense of security, so they can loot us of everything we think we own.

Folks do understand the appeal of rational self-interest when they’re reminded of it because they know what’s in their own hearts: Me first! George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin fought the first (and only) revolution for liberty because they knew freedom was in their best interest. And at this point, especially in CA and NY, I think the Democrats are making that argument for us.

Laura on November 12, 2009 at 10:20 AM

There is an interesting set of comments in the Talmud that translates as

A person who is commanded and does is greater than a person who does without being commanded

The reason given is that in spite of all, there is a center in every human being that resents being told what to do and increases the tendency to oppose it. Everybody has the two contradictory impulses within him, the relative proportions differ in each one.

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch wrote a comment on the story of the Tower of Babel. He analyzed the exact wording (in the original Hebrew) an spoke of the difference between “language” and “tongue”. He pointed out that many words from different languages, that translate as the same word when brought into one’s own language have totally different connotations. Examples include “right” and “wrong”, “charity”, “justice” and “folk” or “populace”. The examples that he gave explain, for example, the “good German” example that you pointed out and also helps explain the ability of the founding fathers to conceive of the liberties that they fought for.

Once the seeds of the different concepts took root, even though the people originally “used the same words” the dissolution of the Babel society was inevitable. The story of the Tower of Babel shows that G-d caused these differences to reach their natural end by a miracle to have the entire development occur at once rather than over a period of centuries.

sabbahillel on November 12, 2009 at 11:16 AM

An interesting theory but one I cannot say I agree with. That man seemingly prefers tyranny is impossible to argue with. He has spent the vast majority of his existence under oppressive governments. But the reason is much different in my opinion.

People only have a limited amount of energy and they prefer to use it just taking care of their own lives. Working, raising their kids, etc. It takes something major to make them turn from their own lives and lead a revolution. Those who were in the revolutionary war had to leave their families behind, stop building their own lives and focus on something that was extremely dangerous.

So many revolutions go badly after they’ve overthrown the government because people want to return to their own lives as soon as possible, leaving the establishing of a new government up to those who want to make government their lives.

If people were looking for someone else to tell them what to do capitalism wouldn’t work since people would have no idea what to do day to day. In reality it works so well because everyone knows what they want and (when no one stands in their way) they don’t need anyone to tell them the best way to get it.

Kronos on November 12, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Laura:

I think he’s an outstanding writer and said precisely what he meant. Why sugarcoat it?

You’re right.

Dafydd ab Hugh, I thought your post was about a politics, and your message was “argue based on results”. I think that’s a good idea. I also thought the rest of your post was terrible: pointlessly insulting to vast swathes of people, ignorant on the varieties of religious experience, and highly likely to distract from your main point.

So I tried to get the conversation back on topic, since you had more or less trolled yourself (creating an inflammatory distraction from your main point).

But Laura is right: you’re an excellent writer and surely meant to say what you said.

I disagree, and I think you displayed ignorance, offensiveness and arrogance in what you said.

I recommend you read The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.

David Blue on November 12, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Folks:

Good heavens, an amazing number of people accuse me of being an excellent writer, charge me with saying what I meant — and then fail to read my actual words!

To repeat, this is the bullet item that produced so much angst:

Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them.

Did I write all? A huge majority? A narrow majority? Most? Many? Or even quite a few? I wrote — and meant — some… some people do just that.

If you deny my contention — that some people slavishly follow what they believe to be the word of God, thereby causing great distress to themselves and many people around them — then I suggest it is you who are afraid of the truth. Come now, you know very well that some people do it!

Since all the outrage centers on the admission that such people exist even within the Christian and Jewish religious traditions — nobody here rejects the idea that Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and Wiccans can be like that — I’ll confine my examples to those “voluntary slaves” who profess belief in the Bible or Tanakh:

* Think of all those who sat in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church in Chicago and applauded when he called upon God to damn America.

* Think of Raymond Jessop and others who follow the teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

* How about the “congregation” (whatever you call the followers) of the “God hates [gays]” guy (he uses the obvious pejorative in place of the last word).

* I was also thinking of some of the extreme ultraorthodox Jews, who would refuse to rescue a drowning child if the kid had the bad luck to fall into the water on the Sabbath (can’t do any work then, and swimming constitutes work!)

* Stepping a little further afield, but still within the Judeo-Christian tradition, consider Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple, which ended its days (and those of its members) in Guyana, drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid.

* And how many Christian-based millenarian cults have sprung up, even just since 1900?

I must presume, taking you at your word, that you do not believe that any of these people or groups existed.

Again, I never said that described the religious experience of all “people of the Book,” but only some of them; so if you reject this statement, then you are claiming that not a single person who thought of himself as Christian or Jew ever acted like this.

If you are honestly willing to stand by that counter-claim — that not one self-described Christian or Jew has ever let (his conception of) the Bible do all his thinking for him — then please arise and be counted! Laura is right that merely saying such a thing isn’t enough to persuade me that the speaker is right; but at least I’ll admire your consistency…

Dafydd

Dafydd ab Hugh on November 12, 2009 at 9:49 PM

I am an atheist and make no bones about it. I attend Tea Parties and am working for a Conservative Mormon for the 2010 elections. I do not go to these parties for the social aspect, though I have met many fine people. I go there to give my support to reclaim the Founders’ intention that we the people be free individuals.

I do not bow my head during the inevitable prayers offered, nor do I raise a fuss. I am there voluntarily. I only seek common cause in limited government, lower taxes, strong defense, and self reliance. I am not alone in my reason for being there.

To those who want to impose their system of beliefs on all, you will fail. Seek what all but the liberals have in common, a least common denominator, which is a fiscal and libertarian discipline as envisioned by the Founders.

Think of when Pat Robertson tried to run for President. He drew 5% in the primaries. No one was buying his nutjob, I personally speak to God daily routine, except for his daily audience.
I/we seek change but not to another system of control, where prayers in school are mandatory or where wearing a cross is necessary to be with the ‘in’ crowd.

Separate the fiscal conservative essentials from the social engineering, and the conservative movement can beat the crap out of the libs in 2010/2012 — our last chance to reclaim our country — or try and ram crap down my throat no more tasty than the shlt sandwich Nancy P is offering.

GnuBreed on November 13, 2009 at 12:55 AM

Dafydd, I tend to choose the simplest possible explanation for things and when you wrote, “Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them” I read it thusly:

Some people give their lives to God, [comma, pause, prepare for the next thing]

That would certainly include professing born again Christians who use that exact terminology all the freakin time. It’s extremely common Christian-speak, commonly heard in the context of one’s testimony, as in “After I lost my husband back in 1989 when I was pregnant, I gave my life to God.” If you don’t run with that crowd (as I do, because I’m one of them) then perhaps that didn’t mean to you what it meant to me. Fundamentalists of all stripes use that phrasing; I’ve certainly heard it from Muslims. Having believed that I understood what group(s) you were describing, I moved on to

allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them.

and perceived that your meaning was particularly devout people as described above allow some external object to think for them.

I think that’s a fair reading. If you meant it less literally, then, great. But I did actually read what you wrote. I promise. I also did write in my response “but doubtless some are out there” and speculated you knew some of those people, so my response wasn’t based at all on outrage about the admission that such people exist.

As a matter of simple logic, I do take issue with your complaint that “some people slavishly follow what they believe to be the word of God” because all I can think of there is, Duh.

IF – and this is the Big IF – one accepts the supernatural and truly believes in a sovereign, eternal, all-powerful God; not just lip service or superficial/cultural religion but truly does believe and then DOES NOT slavishly follow God’s commands, that person would be an idiot. Because he’s GOD. It would be completely irrational not to do so, IF one held that belief.

Struggling with a sinful nature which makes disobedience all too easy, and struggling to rightfully interpret what those commands actually are, is the (painful, rewarding) Christian struggle. But at the base of it “giving your life to God” precisely, specifically means attempting to slavishly follow his will (using our brains and talents to discern his will and obey it.) The bible uses that slave terminology all the time – Paul’s writing in various parts of the new testament. If God isn’t the be-all, end-all most important thing in your life, then you don’t really believe in an eternal, all-powerful sovereign God. Having said that – and you could probably write it in half as many words – the intent of those people (including me!) is precisely the same as the whack jobs you listed in your 9:49. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is interpretation. I’m not talking about outcome here, just motive, but I think it speaks to your point “that some people slavishly follow what they believe to be the word of God.”

Laura on November 13, 2009 at 1:03 AM

GnuBreed on November 13, 2009 at 12:55 AM

I feel your pain, believe it or not. I’ve been to the New Orleans and Baton Rouge tea parties and they did not pray while I was there, but if they had it would have annoyed me mightily. As a practical matter, I don’t want someone else’s faith rammed down my throat, and if mine can be permitted to hold sway now, someone else’s might later.

Laura on November 13, 2009 at 1:12 AM

So long as people think they really can trade a great deal of essential liberty for a little temporary safety, most will seize the opportunity and thank the tyrant heartily.

Nailhead. A cynical friend of mine once remarked “What good is free speech if I can’t afford a newspaper subscription to my own city? What the hell does the 2nd amendmant matter when I can’t afford a gun?”

A little safety guaranteed and delivered will ‘buy’ a lot of freedoms. Want an easy example? Look no further than the little man who turned a broken, bitter German nation into a military powerhouse that made the world tremble.

Dark-Star on November 13, 2009 at 12:23 PM