Sunday, November 01, 2009


Checking the archives for my Best of August 2006 post, I encountered my Vice of Tolerance post on the same day I had read Weisshaupt's fascinating post over at Town Hall How To Argue With A Statist. His section on Non-Judgementalism makes an observation I had not thought of before. While conservatives have long noted the judgementalism of progressives, despite their protestations, Weisshaupt makes the underlying dynamic clearer. Progressives see themselves as nondiscriminatory because they add no personal discriminations to the group norms. The relinquish the decision for what to deplore to the group. Weisshaupt makes it as strong as to claim that they defer that right to the state, but I think that goes too far. Liberals accede to their group norms, their tribal norms, of who can be judged - those are not universal in America.

In this way, Statists find “freedom” from personal and moral responsibility for their own actions, and transfer the responsibility for decisions and/or the consequences that arise from them to the entity of the “State”, which hereafter assumes the (moral) responsibility for everyone decisions and achieving a “fair” result for the community. To a Statist, the only real sin is not adhering to the “state sanctioned” morality. For instance, when the Statist announces that everyone “deserves respect” they are in fact announcing that no one is entitled to form or express an opinion not sanctioned by the community. University Speech Codes, Sexual Harassment Codes, Hate Crime Legislation and “political correctness” are all attempts to make “being offensive” a crime and thus punish those who deviate from the automatic reactions desired. Dissent is variously characterized by the Statist as “racist”, “sexist”, “hateful”, “greedy”, “mean” etc. These are all ad-hominem attacks to diminish and dismiss the speaker in an attempt to avoid confronting the opinion.

It fits my many rants on liberalism as a social, rather than intellectual phenomenon. Acceding to the group norm of what opinions one should have about various groups is a way of social signaling membership, or at least desired membership, in the group.

There are other intriguing concepts in Weisshaupt's essay.


Gringo said...

It fits my many rants on liberalism as a social, rather than intellectual phenomenon.

Nearly a half century ago, that liberal and later Bushophobe Tom Lehrer nailed it with The Folk Song Army.Takes one to know one, or at least the later generation. Ironically, when it came out it was one of his few songs I didn't like, perhaps because I didn't like being a target of his humor.

Weisshaupt said...

Hey There, glad to see you found what I wrote useful - I get so little genuine feedback though, so I would like to understand better how you view the "State" vs. Tribal or Group norms? To me the "State" is just a formalized tribal authority. Perhaps my essay would be better worded if I said a "group authority" assumes the responsibility of deciding what the group will deplore? Or am I still missing your point?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you for asking. I will oblige as best I can. In my sidebar, under "Extended Comments," there is a link to Cultural Tribes, a series of two dozen or so essays. Some are brief, others much longer.

The general theme is that America is made up of several major cultural tribes. The Arts and Humanities Tribe, which I grew up in, is the most liberal and seeks to impose its values on the rest of the society. The list of institutions which they dominate - education and journalism, for example - is likely familiar to you from other reading.

Other tribes would be Science & Technology, Business, Military, Government & Union, and Diversity. As you can see, there is overlap and multiple memberships - nearly everyone in America belonged at least half-heartedly to the God & Country Tribe for much of our history. But most of us tend to have a primary loyalty.

I agree that the state is a formal expression of the culture or tribe as a whole. I just break us down into competing tribes, our own little Balkans based on culture instead of ethnicity. In your framing, I would say that one tribe has already deferred its moral decisions to its leaders, and seeks to paint the rest of us as immoral when we do not follow suit. Pew Research has a different but related breakdown:

Weisshaupt said...

Hey Thanks.. looks like a lot of content there. I will take a look

I had my own thoughts on tribes a while ago..

But now I am not so sure about what I wrote.

America is a confederation of tribes- and always has been. An attempt to regulate balkanization. (Federalist #10 and "factions")

However it does seem many people WANT to be balkanized - the Term America may provide too big of a tent to allow individuals to feel belonging and satify the personal need to be a special member of a special group - To be one of the elite - but not the lone elite..

I have often thought of organizaed sports as ritutalized tribal warefare by proxy, and out political system as the same thing. We are not only balkanized, the balkinization depends upon context and the arena of combat..

Can't say I understand it all yet. It will be great to read your thoughts.

Weisshaupt said...

Okay, read a bit. Cool stuff.
I guess I am pretty much a solid "God and Country" (God not so much) Triber in your nomenclature.

However "God and Country" seems to be a convolution of individual concepts? The God tribes of the first Colonies formed a Confederation (to include other "god" tribes such as Deists and Agnotisics, Atheists, and other religions via the 1st Amendment) ?

Is a Confederation of Tribes a tribe itself? Or is it a fundamentally different concept, or the same concept with some caveats?

You acknowledge that the "God and Country" tribe is a Big Tent tribe - but is not the Big tent provided by the "Country" or confederation part?

It seems to me Tribal COnfederations are Fundamentally different in concept than a simple tribal affiliation. A Confederation isn't just Dual Memebership, where you belong to two tribes, but a heirarchical arangment where the needs of the confederation take precedence?

That the difficulty in our society with the A&H and other tribes is their "halfhearted" participation in the Confederation, often placing their tribe above the Confederation rather than beneath it? (Some God tribes obviously do this as well. )

A tribe has its own "goverment ment" but a confederation is a Formalized Government or "State" in my framing? So a "State" is a formal institution for governing multiple tribal sects?