The late R. Carter Pittman wrote and spoke about the eternal conflict between Liberty & Equality, making the essential point that free men were never equal and that equal men were never free. At this Web Site, we have often commented on compulsion driven aspects of Egalitarianism, the neurotic or compulsive origins of Leftist thought and agitation. Other common subjects have touched upon the complexities of perspective and context.
As with the old Hindu fable of the six blind men and the elephant, our purpose is, and has been, to help a new generation of Conservative spokesmen recognize inherent flaws in contemporary Leftist argument; to see, in each individual situation, the most effective refutation. Here, we propose something of an overview, seeking to better illustrate certain recurring aspects, which can certainly stand fuller development.
We refer to Mr. Pittman's point as being "essential." Surely, with regard to any defense of the Liberty won for Americans in the Revolution, it is essential to understand fallacies in the pursuit of egalitarian values, as they pertain to collective intervention intended to equalize achievement or status, whether of individuals or definable groups. Once his point is grasped, the question naturally arises, why it seems to elude so many in public life? The answer, of course, is in another eternal conflict, that between reason and compulsion. In understanding that conflict, lies the key to pulling the West back from the brink of self-destruction.
Our novel Return Of The Gods takes its theme and title from the 1919 Kipling poem, "The Gods Of The Copybook Headings"--linked below. The poem contains the line, "being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place," to contrast reality with the fallacy based wishful thinking that has characterized modern "reform" movements. Over the eight years, that this web site has operated, we have addressed many issues, to explore typical fallacies in contemporary approaches to Government and the dynamics of human thought and interaction. We have treated some issues several times, from different perspectives--as it were from different aspects of that metaphorical elephant of the Hindu fable. Here, we are going to offer a slightly different over-view of the dichotomy between reason, which starts by trying to understand what is true and genuine--to build on that reality--and the compulsion driven politics of our time. We will identify a subject, briefly describe how a reasonable man or woman might analyze relevant situations; then summarize the compulsions that have come into play, when the "cloud and wind-borne" have addressed the same phenomena, to completely distort any debate over direction.
Wealth and poverty have always been relative. A poor family, with the benefits of modern refrigeration and television, have luxuries which the wealthiest in ages past might have envied. Differences in human condition do not represent a moral crisis. Attempts to help the less successful may represent kindness; they are not dictated by basic fairness nor justice. Reasoned analysis must seek to understand why one individual succeeds and another fails. Reason dictates consideration of different levels and types of intelligence; how each relates to the needs of a particular social order, as well as the degree to which each is present in any particular individual. A reasoned approach should also involve similar analysis with respect to physical aptitudes. Without clear and credible evidence of a specific wrong, an assumption that there is an injustice involved in the greater success of one individual or group than another, is a rush to judgment, which can never be justified in reason.
A reasoned approach to uplifting any individual or group starts with analysis of the talents or aptitudes of those whom one would assist. It would never begin with a program to antagonize other individuals or groups; nor to divert an instinct for self-betterment, into a self-defeating pursuit of blame, envy and resentment. Reason teaches personal--individual--responsibility and accountability, as essential to human progress. Paying people for existing has, throughout history, brought out the very worst in those so subsidized.
The basic, which underlies the initial agitation for almost every type of egalitarian pursuit, appears to be a neurotic need to deny innate human differences. While this particular compulsion is present in virtually every Leftist agenda, it may reflect several identifiable neurotic impulses. A passion for uniformity within communities, tribes and nations, certainly predates the age of modern Socialist Egalitarianism. In identifying the trait in all major Leftist movements of the 20th Century (Fabian, Communist, Nazi, Social Democrat & American "Liberal") in an essay on "A Compulsion For Uniformity" (below), we also recognized the same compulsion in the revocation of the Edict Of Nantes in XVIIth Century France. As we do not claim that Louis XIV was an egalitarian socialist, it is obvious that the trait may exist independently of any contemporary compulsion for equality.
However, it appears obvious that the compulsion for uniformity is at least a major facet to a compulsion for equality. Yet the shift in focus, from a pursuit for uniformity of thought, to a pursuit of uniformity of condition--and an illusion of equality of ability or character--must reflect other neurotic needs. One of these may involve a form of "projection"; not the usual, where a subject attributes his own emotions, traits or deficiencies to another, but rather one where one compensates for doubts as to self-worth, by embracing a cultish dogma that denies meaningful differences among humans in general.
Note, one in compulsive denial may have a high level of intelligence, as measured by IQ or the like, yet have a low level of confidence in other aspects of his personality. By seeking to elevate the general perception of innate ability or intelligence in human failures, while blaming society for their failure, he can attack the very concept of a valid judgment of human worth--by which he feels threatened. At the same time, he can claim an altruistic endeavor! Evidence of a compulsive origin in such egalitarian attitudes may be found in the frenetic way that many activists, with apparently high IQs, pursue Socialist causes, even though their own experience in interacting with people of differing levels and types of intelligence, should certainly have exposed them to convincing evidence of the very reality they seek to deny.
A secondary type of compulsion comes into play among those intimidated by the fervor of compulsive Egalitarians. The most common form of this compulsion was illustrated by the fawning courtiers in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" (below). Tragically, this phenomenon is more likely to be encountered among the better educated, who, as those courtiers, are terrified lest they be considered stupid by questioning what is perceived as the prevailing wisdom. A kindred fear driven compulsion, which will be more evident in discussing sexual, racial or religious differences, is that driven by the aggressive mislabeling of dissent. In dealing with disparity in wealth or condition, labels applied to the Conservative dissenter are apt to be at least a tad less virulent than those employed over sexual and racial differences.
There may also be a form of compulsion, where one who really is not altruistic, but feels an emotional need to be perceived as altruistic, expounds egalitarian cant to demonstrate his or her "altruism." The total lack of bother, by such persons, to seek to understand how egalitarian programs actually affect supposed beneficiaries, is a clue to the neurotic, as opposed to reasoned, motivation.
Over sixty years ago, Dr. Clairette P. Armstrong conducted a study of high school drop-outs from the New York Public Schools, and clearly identified a pattern among both White and Negro delinquents, who had substantially below average IQs, but better than average mechanical skills. These children had tended to react with "shame and grief" to being unable to compete in standard academic subjects, and had become truants and delinquents, ending up wards of the Court, when a system better oriented to recognizing human differences might have offered them productive lives, filling societal needs for those with the skills they actually had. That pursuits of egalitarian shibboleths, two generations later, continue to wreck the lives and embitter the psyches of millions of children, particularly among minorities, in an ongoing sacrifice to the lie of human equality--despite endlessly recurring evidence of the Armstrong identified phenomena in every major American City--surely demonstrates the power of the compulsions involved.
Dressing up the process with fantasy or fear driven claims that the Federal Government can direct that "No Child" be "Left Behind," which can only result in more layers of bureaucracy being added on top of already barely functional local school systems, unable to respond to the very individual needs of individual children, is about as counter-productive as one can imagine.
America has been an economic marvel, because it has been able to coast on a dynamic infra-structure, which grew out of an era when its States offered one of the least restrictive climates for economic decision making on earth. When we have deviated from that, as in the New Deal response to the Great Depression, or in the continued drift to the Left, up through Carter, we have developed major problems. With Reagan, America at least turned again in the right direction--although some intended reforms were aborted because of entrenched interests that had grown powerful with increased dependence upon Government. However, even a limited change in direction, yet major change in focus, allowed the vast capital resources created during the first three hundred years of European settlement, to assert themselves more productively than they had in the previous half-century.
While those who seek "catchy" labels, to imply new concepts where the principles are ancient and enduring, may suggest that central innovation was involved; the precipitant for growth was the same as it has always been: A removal of impediments, whether in the form of excessive regulation, excessive taxation or social instability.
In the political sphere, a major compulsion, with a significant effect on economic cycles, is not the egalitarian one, however; rather a perceived need or advantage in being seen as "doing something" to promote recovery, cure unemployment or curb inflation, as the case may be. We do not suggest that every demagogue, who seizes the moment to promise wonders via Government in an economic crisis is compulsion driven. There are also the cold and calculating, only too happy to exploit the needs of others in that panic, to be "seen as doing something!"
Correspondingly, a heightened sense of personal responsibility among youth, who grow up seeing themselves as both their families' and their people's first line of defense, feeds the better impulses of their nature; thus avoiding anti-social tendencies in ways that words alone can never match.
Reason also directs that punishment for actions that threaten the public safety be perceived as swift, certain and adequate. One need not go so far as the Saudis, who lop off the right hands of first offenders, to recognize that the expectation of serious punishment is essential to restrain those individuals, who lack either the self-discipline or moral compass to restrain themselves from preying on their neighbors. Indeed, considering the abysmal lives that most of those, unable to discipline or restrain themselves internally, live; it is clearly kinder to such individuals, that Society treat even first offenders more severely than has become the contemporary expectation. The sooner one learns the true wages of criminality, the better. If by not being coddled, a young thief or thug can straighten out his path, he is far better off than otherwise. And stricter immediate consequences do not rule out later rehabilitation, when appropriate.
A compulsion peculiar to the quest for public safety, can be seen in calls to disarm the public; to ban private possession of firearms, for example, as though the mere existence of a means for self-protection, is responsible for criminal violence! Those suffering from such fear driven compulsion, appear unable to differentiate between the hands that hold firearms, whether predator or protector; nor to comprehend the obvious fact that one bent upon crime will never respect a ban--nor the ease with which such person might find alternative means to deliver deadly force, whenever seen as useful.
[The concept of eugenics--basically what intelligent people have applied throughout history, by selecting mates for desirable innate characteristics rather than considerations of the moment--has been viciously smeared by Egalitarians claiming it to be a form of genocide. The technique has been to cite atrocities committed by German Socialists under Hitler (Nazis), which were inspired by hate, not reason. Yet disparaging rational efforts to improve lines of descent as "Nazi" barbarism, is like disparaging construction of modern super-highways by reference to fine road building that facilitated Nazi barbarism.]
Reason focuses on the importance to human happiness in the fulfillment of sex roles; on the unique qualities of each sex, and on the functional ability of normal women to bear and nurture another generation. Reason does not suggest that there is a fundamental conflict between the sexes; that we are competing interest groups. There have always been problems in adjusting to our different natures; but, in reality, we complement each other! We need one another to be or feel complete; even as we need one another to have a future. From puberty on, most normal men and women see finding a suitable person of the opposite sex to be their closest companion in life, more important than any other pursuit. For thousands of years--among the rational--the idea of a fundamental conflict has been a source for humor, not a cause for dedication.
Similar compulsions may be seen among groups that choose to flaunt sexual deviancy; seeking not understanding for a problem that afflicts some individuals, but demanding that Society, as a whole, rethink the whole concept of what is normal--even to the extent of embracing the fantasy of homosexual "marriage." Anyone neither driven by a compulsion to prove that they are "normal," nor cowed by a compulsion to appear politically correct, will recognize that marriage is a solemnization of human mating--a protection and sanctification of the procreational process. The concept of homosexual marriage is an oxymoron. And if the purpose is to encourage greater toleration for people who have problems with their sexuality; it should be obvious to anyone not driven by compulsion, that demanding the world accept an oxymoron as reality, is the worst possible way to promote that toleration.
The basic challenge to evidence of significant physical and psychological differences, effecting the whole range of human aptitudes, came in finding exceptions to clear patterns, and mitigating circumstances to suggest possible intervening causation. In addition to this inherently flawed argument by exception and in mitigation--there being a total absence of evidence for a claimed equality--Egalitarians attacked the motives of investigators, and adopted the tactic of mislabeling all who questioned the pursuit of a new egalitarian orthodoxy.
Reason must reject an argument based solely on exception, mitigation and vilification. Reason understands that if racial inheritance can clearly effect the susceptibility or resistance to disease or medical disability, it is not rational to believe that it does not effect other genetically based traits. Reason comprehends that the motives of those who investigate to understand apparent differences among human types, are less likely to be flawed than those who scream insults in denial. Reason also recognizes that the solution to any problem begins in understanding as much as possible of the nature of the factors involved.
No one would suggest that an architect who designed every home exactly the same, was a great or even adequate architect. No one would hire a horse trainer, who was not able to distinguish among the innate qualities of individual horses, or denied the importance of breeding and lines of descent. No reasonable person would seek a Medical Facility, which dogmatically refused to look at genetic factors and lines of descent in medical diagnostics and treatment. The compulsion to pretend equality is very strong indeed, here; and it is reinforced by compulsive fear, engendered by vicious invective hurled at all who dissent from prevailing dogma.
Reason does not confine itself to the abstract & theoretic, but looks at the actual history of human settlements; recognizes the varied motives that drove early European settlers to America, and considers concepts that flowed from the experiences and purposes of those settlers. In that context, it is abundantly clear what the First Article of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, intended on the subject of religion. A more detailed discussion may be found in Chapter 3, of the Conservative Debate Handbook (below); but, basically, it guarantees that Congress may not restrict religious freedom in any way, specifically prohibiting any action respecting an established religion: It can neither establish a Church, nor interfere with one established in a State or local community. The Courts, in seeking to enforce an imagined, never granted, right for malcontents to suppress, have invoked concepts that have no basis in reasoned analysis.
The compulsion for uniformity, which fueled the Spanish Inquisition & the later expulsion of the Huguenots from France, were less fanatically negative, in suppressing the religious freedom of minorities, than the contemporary demands of those who would stifle expressions of Faith by established religious communities across America, in the very name of religious freedom. Old bigotry sought to force all to honor God in the same way. The compulsion of the Left in America, which uses any excuse to seek a Court order to suppress a public religious observance, or force the removal of a Faith based symbol, regardless of origin, is the absolute antithesis of all religious freedom.
Whether the compulsions involved are driven primarily by fear of controversy between Faiths or a simple fear or hatred of the very concept of Faith; that they are, in fact, compulsions against Faith, not reasoned approaches to maintaining anyone's right of conscience, is confirmed by a total lack of proportion; as well as by the fact that the same organizations that push for such suppression and removal, were strong supporters for "Civil Rights" enactments, which made it illegal for employers or landlords to take Faith into account, even in employment or rental decisions governing private property. What we witness may be simply another facet of the compulsion driven pursuit of an undifferentiated humanity.
As pointed out, previously, this was tantamount to proposing surrender of values, for which other generations had been willing to die, by subterfuge. It was contemptible; but it dove-tailed very nicely with the egalitarian social anthropology & sociology, touched upon above. Thus, we had a blending of the fear of modern warfare with all the compulsions that compel a pretense of human equality--or human interchangeability--into a more specialized vehicle to impede rational analysis of what actually works or does not work--what is constructive or destructive--in interaction among nations.
There is another type of compulsion, reflected in virtually every major social issue and ideological confrontation of our times. James A. Reed captured its essence in his 1925 essay on "The Pestilence Of Fanaticism," linked below:
The present-day reformer supplants the ancient and foolish doctrine, "Everything that is, is right," with the still more foolish doctrine, "Everything that is, is wrong." In a world which an intelligent and patriotic ancestry lovingly handed over to us in a reasonably well-ordered condition, he runs amok. Our inherited liberties, guaranteed by a Constitution and code of laws, together forming a homogeneous system, are recklessly attacked until the whole structure is seriously imperiled.
The modern reformer insists upon substituting statutory commands for ethical precepts and official surveillance for the restraints of morality. He undertakes to force the acceptance of his peculiar doctrines by penalty of fine and imprisonment. The old and true concept of freedom embraced the right of the citizen to choose his own religion, think his own thoughts, indulge his own habits and live his own life without interference by the state, save that he should not trespass upon the rights of others. For this condition of personal freedom and responsibility, the reformer proposes to substitute legal regulations which, like a web of steel, shall encompass the citizen from birth to death. Man will live and die the slave of the majority which enacts the laws.
Although written more than eighty years ago, Reed's comments are yet more relevant, today, than in the era in which he made them. An additional compulsion involved, here, may be another facet of that perceived need to be seen as "doing something." It may be to serve a previously identified compulsion; or it may simply be to meet an individual's need to appear innovative; not to recognize the "Emperor's New Clothes," but to design them, in pursuit of a craved recognition. What it does not involve is reasoned analysis.
Have we misrepresented the thought processes involved in the ideological dichotomies of the modern age? Or is the picture offered--that of an endless succession of collisions between rational man and compulsion driven folly--a true analysis of what we have to deal with? If we have overstated, we have harmed no one in asking you to consider our points. If we have correctly identified the contemporary reality, and intelligent men and women remain docile and continue to accept this situation as beyond correction; civilization, as reasoning humans have experienced it, is going to die. It is being systematically dismantled by those who are unable to understand that it ever had or depended upon a logical structure--or who are so hate-driven, they simply do not care.