Thursday, January 07, 2021

I Was Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

I thought we could ride the tiger to victory--or at least something more like a draw--over the progressive left.
   But I was wrong--way wrong. Wrong wrong.
  Trump's electoral loss isn't what shows that I was wrong in the relevant sense--one's strategy might always fail in that sense. What I was wrong about was Trump. He just kept being so much righter and saner and better than the left made him out to be that actually became optimistic about him. I still think his accomplishments are borderline-amazing. I still think that losing was always the thing most likely to bring out his worst, and that, had he won, there's a good chance he'd have stayed on the good trajectory. But I absolutely underestimated the danger posted by Trump's epistemic vices. Which is stupid on my part, because they're the kinds of vices I think about the most.
   He is by no means the monster of progressive fever dreams. But--I've said this before and still incline to think it--he can't deal with opposition like an adult. And losing is a kind of ultimate opposition. He cannot accept that he lost. His ego simply can't bear it. I actually don't even think he's really lying about winning--I think he actually believes it. And now he's proclaimed it repeatedly, officially, in public, with utter certainty. He will never change his mind about it nor admit otherwise. Or so it seems to me. This kind of infallibilism is extremely dangerous. Without the electoral loss, it may never have been activated. He may have continued to be the President who was 100x better than people like me ever expected him to be--and the greatest force for battling back against the cultural derangement unfolding out of the contemporary left. Not that it's the sort of thing you should ever want to take a chance on with a President. These aren't weaknesses/vices that you want to play around with. They're dynamite. They're not quite the root of all epistemic evil...but they sure can look like it sometimes. 
   I know better than to play around with that--but I sure f*cked it up.
   TBH, though, I'm not sure exactly how bad what happened yesterday is. I've got a lot going on IRL, and wasn't paying close attention to what was happening. I considered the election a done deal, but argued for a post-certification investigation--which still seems like a good idea to me. I also think a Cruzian 10-day pre-certification investigation would be perfectly fine, if legal. (But: seemingly not legal.) But that was never really going to happen. I knew there was a rally scheduled for yesterday, which struck me as a terrible idea--but it was on the periphery of my consciousness. I vaguely knew Trump was going to speak, but I had vaguely imagined something like Reagan sending televised comments to the anti-abortion crowd. Now that was stupid. That's next-level not-paying-attention. I knew there was some controversy about the National Guard, but, like many others, I thought that rioting was not a real possibility with that bunch. Antifa picking off stragglers, yes. Rioting, no. 
   One could use the "mostly peaceful" defense--if one were as dishonest as the other side. But peaceful is the expected state. You don't get any credit because most of your protest/s is/are peaceful. 
   Incidentally: in an important sense, the MAGA riot was very similar to the BLM riots: in each case the rioting was/is an understandable reaction to a false belief promoted by the kinds of people who promote such beliefs on the respective sides. In the case of BLM, the false belief is that white cops are indiscriminately murdering black men; in the case of the MAGAs, the (very probably) false belief is that the election was stolen. On the left, such beliefs are propagated...well...everywhere: the MSM, universities, big tech / the every institution controlled by the left, which is all of them. On the right, it's more like samizdat--the rag-tag collection of low-rent interweb sites. 
   Anyway: I'm not really positive that the MAGA riot was more outrageous than the BLM riots. It was smaller, less violent, and more like an aberration. As shocking as it is to see such a thing happen to the Capitol, I'm not sure it's genuinely worse than what happened in the other riots--in which mobs laid violent siege to state and federal buildings for months, innocent people were assaulted and killed, neighborhoods torched, livelihoods ruined. Innumerable people were prisoners in their own homes. Roving mobs demanded obeisance, terrifying people into mouthing their lunatic slogans--compelled speech if there ever was any. They beat down old people, they destroyed cars, they demanded (merely as an elaborate and bizarre kind of threat) that people surrender their houses. I don't aim to minimize what happened at the Capitol--I mean to say that it may well show us that the BLM/Antifa riots were worse even than we've recognized. The attack on the Capitol was much, much worse symbolically (which matters). On the other side we have: mass terrorism against civilians. Attacking the State directly is at least picking on someone more your own size. It's more visible--but I'm pretty sure that the direct, civilian targets of BLM rioting were more traumatized and harmed by that than by what happened yesterday. And don't forget: the BLM riots also targeted state and federal government. But comparative judgements only matter so much. I've go no interest in excusing the Capitol riot--though I do doubt that it was an order of magnitude worse than the BLM riots.
   Finally, the righties are making a good point, I think, in this: without the massive, on-going leftist riots of the summer, rioting would not have been near-normalized, and it would have been much less-likely to have happened yesterday. I suspect that's right--but, again, am unsure how much it matters. Certainly the progressive establishment defended and even valorized the BLM/Antifa riots, and universally condemned the Capitol riot. At some point, that inconsistency needs to be addressed.
   As for the woman who was killed: it was a tragedy. Period. Here comes the 'but': I view it rather like I view the case of people resisting arrest: you put yourself in a dangerous position. Even reasonable cops might kill you; they don't exactly know what you're up to. In some cases that's going to go badly for you. But at least some of the responsibility is yours. From what I could see, it didn't seem to be a good decision to shoot her---but she was trying to enter/storm the Senate by climbing through a broken door-window. The protestors generally didn't seem to understand the gravity of what they were doing. Many of them didn't look too bright. Many of them were clowning around. Many had simply been let in. Many had been joking around with cops. I suspect a mismatch between the way she saw things and the way the Capitol police / USSS / whomever saw things.
   Oh and, by way of comparison, FWIW: progressive protestors stormed the Supreme Court, broke into offices, shrieked and wept and pounded on the doors during the (farcical) Kavanaugh hearings... Not exactly the same...but there was no panic over it. OTOH, there were 300 arrests at that event, I'm told, and few or none yesterday.
   Finally: the last straw for me wasn't that a possibly-rogue group of protestors rioted into the Capitol building, even. Many of the interactions between protestors and police were downright friendly, many people were even staying between the velvet ropes...the scenes I've seen were surreal... But what tore it was Trump's response. As I've already written, I often find his expressions of affection for ordinary people downright touching. The part of his message that told people to be peaceful and go home was good--though more than obligatory--it should never have been necessary. But what really tore it was his inability, even under those conditions, to just tell people to be peaceful and go home. Half the message was more delusional raving about his "great and beautiful landslide" or WTF ever he was saying. 
   It's that one moment, to my mind, that finally and unequivocally makes fools of all of us who thought Trump could be managed well enough to accomplish our political goals. 
   I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
   Really finally: comment sections of generally pro-Trump conservative blogs have been getting more and more worrisome. Instapundit comments have fallen off the edge of the Earth. There is almost complete unanimity that we know the election was stolen--and only somewhat less agreement that this is the last stand of the republic. It's downright creepy how often that first message is expressed: the election was was was stolen... It might as well be conclusively proven so far as they're concerned. I've been one of the few people bucking the orthodoxy there, and I've been told repeatedly that the fraud happened right before our eyes--that we all saw it. That to deny that we saw it is to be a liar. The degree of groundless certainty there even exceeds the groundless certainty that the left exhibited about Russiagate. It approaches some women are male levels of delusionality. I hope it's just the kind of lashing out / venting that one might expect after just having lost absolutely everything politically, including your pride. There'll almost have to be at least somewhat of a return to the center. Well...actually...the left is now so adept at, dedicated to and passionate about humiliating the right that it's possible the right might not recover from this anytime soon. Humiliation is a powerful and dangerous thing. It's largely what's got us where we are, and the left is addicted to it. They've basically won the culture war, and are at the enslave-your-families-shit-on-your-alters-and-salt-the-earth phase of mopping things up. This is going to turn the right into a powder keg. (Interestingly, at the same time they seem to be trying to turn black America into a powder keg by lying to them about police violence...) Anyway: I don't know what to predict about this. I expect Biden to talk a big reconciliation game while pushing forward with policies conservatives take to be tantamount to cultural genocide: mass illegal immigration, progressive racialism / anti-white racism, the institutionalization of transgender ideology, anti-Americanism, and anti-liberalism, and so on. The (in my opinion fairly reasonable) view about this on the right is that, eventually--e.g. when the First and Second Amendments are in genuine danger--violent resistance will become their only option. I wish I could say that I didn't see their point.
   But the point of all of this is, really, that I was wrong about Trump. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The rest of the above is incidental.


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