Saturday, October 31, 2020

De Toqueville On Cancel Culture

 Rather prophetic.

Princes had, so to speak, materialized violence; the democratic republics of today have made violence as entirely intellectual as the human will that it wants to constrain. Under the absolute government of one man, despotism, to reach the soul, crudely struck the body; and the soul, escaping from these blows, rose gloriously above it; but in democratic republics, tyranny does not proceed in this way; it leaves the body alone and goes right to the soul. The master no longer says: You will think like me or die; he says: You are free not to think as I do; your life, your goods, everything remains with you; but from this day on you are a stranger among us. You will keep your privileges as a citizen, but they will become useless to you. If you aspire to be the choice of your fellow citizens, they will not choose you, and if you ask only for their esteem, they will still pretend to refuse it to you. You will remain among men, but you will lose your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellows, they will flee from you like an impure being. And those who believe in your innocence, even they will [419] abandon you, for people would flee from them in turn. Go in peace; I spare your life, but I leave you a life worse than death. (Democracy In America Volume 2, Part 2, Chapter 7, “Of the Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effects,)


JMSmith said...

Thanks, I needed that. I am personally undergoing redoubled ostracism at the moment, and it helps to understand what one must endure. But I would warn anyone tempted to risk ostracism, it doesn't help all that much. As a psychologist, you certainly understand the mechanisms of social rejection better than I do, but I can testify that even a rugged ego will be wounded, very likely crippled, by its blows. In my case, I feel no inclination to agree with those who ostracize me about the ideological matters that cause them to ostracize me, but I feel myself slowly beginning to agree with their opinion that I am a bad and worthless man. Ostracism stimulates defiance on one level, but at the same time stimulates a morbid surrender at another. I recently listened to Hawthorn's Scarlet Letter with a whole new sympathy and admiration for Hester Prynne.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have wondered about the day-to-day experiences of all the academics who come by here, as what I read in the (mostly conservative) press makes it sound horrifying. I understand some of it, as being a social worker at a psychiatric hospital means a virtually uninterrupted interaction with liberals, some very angrily liberal. But it's not as bad for me, even though it is my career, because what I think about things does not come up in everyday conversation that often. Many of the younger staff don't know I am conservative, which they reveal by the terrible things they say about conservatives. With you it is different, as your ideas are right out there a lot. My brother, who taught theater at a few colleges and is very liberal, found he could not be liberal enough at Smith and was not asked back.

I can't treat at a distance and am a poor therapist anyway, but I will say that when those more psychic pains begin to overcome, our usual response is to try to do better at some internal effort. I will not let myself be bothered...I will pray more...I will remember that... and all such recitations. I don't think those work. Change your external circumstances in some way. A different church, some new friends, a different hobby. We cannot change our own internals by effort, we can only decide to put ourselves in places that might change us.

JMSmith said...

Thanks for the advice. I've tried to do something of the sort by withdrawing from the conflict, but I must do more to cultivate positive social alternatives. Academia is a bad place for a conservative, not only because he will be ostracized by the leftist majority, but also because the ostracism will condemn his mind, which is of course central to his identity. No one likes to be despised for alleged stupidity, but an academic is especially tender on that point. The natural reaction is to seek vindication (or perhaps forgiveness) in debate, but my experience is that that will never happen. And it is probably just as well that it doesn't. It's one thing to argue to prove a point, and quite another thing to argue to prove a point in order to prove that you are not mad, bad or an ignoramus. I notice absurd flashes of pride even in my defensive internal dialog, and must constantly remind myself that I possess the usual human portion of madness, badness and ignorance. But conservatives in liberal professions should form support groups to keep each other sane.