A Martin Luther Moment

Folks tire of my Weimar ‘n’ Whig analogies, so let me try another way to explain my read on what’s happening now.  Call it a Martin Luther Moment.

[Please be advised that I’m not discussing The One True Faith here.  I have no opinion on who is, or isn’t, going to hell.  I’m pointing out some parallels to some stuff that happened.  Capisce?].

Luther’s ideas got traction for a lot of reasons.  They were politically useful — google up the Peace of Augsburg and work back.  They were a finger in the eye of the establishment — Henry VIII doubled his income with the Annates Bill; imagine how much better off peasants and burghers would be if ecclesiastical duties were cancelled.  They might even have been right — no small thing in a religious age.

But the most interesting part, for our purposes, is this: They kicked the mystical mumbo-jumbo out from under the Official Ideology.

95% of Europe’s population had never read the Bible before Luther.  They couldn’t.  It was in Latin, which nobody outside the elite spoke, and proposing that it should be translated into one’s own language got you burned at the stake.  Luther’s key doctrine was Sola Scriptura, and it required you to read the Bible (he helpfully provided a translation into German).  So lots of people did. They discovered that a whole bunch of stuff they were told was in there, wasn’t, and a bunch more stuff they were told wasn’t in there, was.

Official Ideologies depend on unquestioned assertions — canons of the Church; conventional wisdom; stuff “everybody knows.”  One guy questioning the unquestioned assumptions is a heretic.  One hundred guys questioning the unquestioned assumptions is a movement, and a thousand is a revolution.

The Powers That Be, caught flat-footed, bungle the job of suppression.  They lack the tools — unquestioned dominance of the public sphere has so eroded their ability to think critically that they’re left repeating the old mantras, just louder and shriller.  Luther was a mouth-frothing maniac, and calmer heads crushed him in debate.  Alas for the PTB, the cooler heads’ time was long past.  What Luther himself called a debate between monks had, thanks to the printing press, spread at lightning speed to every corner of Europe.  What followed was a charming time historians call the Period of the Wars of Religion, where maniacs far more maniacal than Luther turned the Official Ideology completely on its head.  Fun stuff, if you like forced polygamy, torture, and cannibalism.

Apply these examples to our own times.  It starts small, with the lunatic fringe, in an arena nobody cares about.  Then it grows, and mutates, spreads like wildfire over new, uncontrollable technology.  The PTB know that Donald Trump is leading in the polls.  Everyone who follows politics, and a lot of people who don’t, know what “cuckservative” means.  But nobody in the PTB knows why.  All they can do is repeat the same old mantras, louder and faster and shriller.

Until, of course, they get a mouth-frothing maniac of their own….

12 thoughts on “A Martin Luther Moment

  1. In this comment you wrote:

    The shit-stirrers are not movement-builders.

    Shit-stirrers like Vox Day, Heartiste, et al enjoy throwing firecrackers into crowded rooms, just for the giggles. The movement-builders are far more cold-eyed and cynical.

    Well, they’ve gotten some attention with their scornful term, “cuckservative,” and done some shit-stirring. Their frustration and anger are understandable given that Obama–with assistance from Pelosi, Reid, the Dems generally, the lefty MSM and a mass infestation of SJWs almost everywhere–is systematically dismantling what remains of our once-great nation, and makes no secret about his anti-white bias. The fact that the GOP and various other “conservatives” have been so feckless and impotent (when not actively complicit) at halting the destruction makes them natural targets for the anger.

    But so far I haven’t seen anything constructive from these people. A swarm of them attacked RS McCain in the comments of two posts that I’ve seen.* The first was a massive barrage of really nasty poo-flinging. The second was more tame because lots of comments got deleted and the commenters were banned. Here’s a little exchange that didn’t get nuked, featuring shit-stirrers SS1 and SS2 versus some other commenter (I can only imagine what was deleted):

    SS1:
    You’re an abusive faggot who speaks in vitriolic generalizations.
    Get gassed hebe!

    Other commenter:
    Go die in a fire, idiot white nationalist.

    SS2:
    SS1 [is] correct. You should jump in an oven. Now. Go

    SS2:
    Yes. Polite conversation IS the foremost consideration, when one’s Race is being systematically genocided, eh wot?
    ———

    Eventually McCain cornered two or three shit-stirrers and asked them to “be specific” and explain exactly what they would do to “save the republic.” Of course, they had nuthin. Not even semi-intelligible generalizations.

    Commenter RS (who I assume is McCain) summed up as follows:

    The problem is not that people disagree regarding things like immigration and culture. The problem is, the alt-right people insist upon turning the discussion toward antisemitic, white supremacist fantasies. Whether these people know it or not, they are making it difficult to discuss the issues intelligently, because no one wishes to be seen as guilty by association with those loons.

    You said it was going to get ugly and it already has (I know, we ain’t seen nothin yet). I can appreciate why these people are so angry, and we have some common enemies. But I don’t see how one would work with these “shit-stirrers.”
    —-

    * Really? Attack McCain as a wimpy, pansy non-conservative? They’re just flailing and don’t care who they hit.

    • They can’t be worked with. They can’t be bargained with, or reasoned with, and they absolutely will not stop until it all blows up. They’re the ones who allow the PTB to keep on keeping on, because it’s not a _real_ problem – just a bunch of internet freaks.

      But when a movement builder gets ahold of it….

      Consider Pat Buchanan. Nobody can definitively pin “anti Semite” on him, though “everybody knows” he is. Imagine a younger, meaner version, willing to let the shit stirrers fight in the street for him while remaining above it all… there’s your fuhrer. It’s all but inevitable now.

  2. A swarm of them attacked RS McCain in the comments of two posts that I’ve seen.*

    Attack McCain as a wimpy, pansy non-conservative? They’re just flailing and don’t care who they hit.

    Yeah, I mean he was actually one of the ones that reported favorably on gamer-gate. Picking him as part of this? Wha???

    Whether these people know it or not, they are making it difficult to discuss the issues intelligently, because no one wishes to be seen as guilty by association with those loons.

    The only problem is that the left in general doesn’t want to discuss things intelligently and associates the right with the loons no matter what.

    I was going to call that a logical paradox trap, is it more accurate to call it a kafka trap? The public debate is entering a no-win scenario set up, and I don’t think anybody knows what to do when that happens…

    • The public debate is entering a no-win scenario set up, and I don’t think anybody knows what to do when that happens…

      Nailed it in one. There are three groups out there right now: the Left, the Right, and the People.

      The Left has no idea what it wants. You could do a thousand man-in-the-streets interviews with self-proclaimed liberals and never come back with a coherent answer. Obamacare? They got it. Iran deal? Check. Gay marriage? Super-check with a rainbow flag. Ummm…. higher taxes? Always nice, I suppose, but not really at the top of the agenda. Even the hardcore Kos Kidz are having a hard time playing dress-up as the Heroic Outsider speaking Truth to Power these days. It’s why Bernie Sanders is doing so well — he’s the only one of them with a platform. It’s straight out of 1934, but whatever; it’s something. Hillary! loses a point in the polls every time she opens her mouth, and Joe Biden just mumble mumble something pancakes.

      The Right knows what it wants, alright. The problem is, it’s the same as what the left wants. “Vote for me, the fake Democrat, when you could just as easily have the real thing” didn’t work in 1996, it didn’t work in 2008, and it’s not working now.

      The People … oh dear God almighty, the People know what they want. They want NO AMNESTY. They want to CLOSE THE FUCKING BORDERS. They want the army home from endless neo-imperial wars that only benefit Lockheed-Martin. Most of all, they want an end to the left’s insanity — I honestly think Hillary could get herself elected if she simply said “vote for me, and I’ll put the brakes on all this. I’ll just tighten the ratchet.” The People want to STOP THE GODDAMN MADNESS.

      But who’s going to talk about that? The Left? The Right? They’re the same thing. The Left likes the goddamn madness because they’re still convinced, despite all evidence, that they haven’t been in charge of the culture since at least 1968. They still think they’re sticking it to The Man, by which they mean Daddy, even though they themselves have grandkids now. The Right likes the goddamn madness because they think they can make a buck off it.

      Politics won’t solve this. I’ve been beating this drum for a long time now, but it bears repeating — one of these days, the guy who shoots up a mosque isn’t going to be an atheist Rachel Maddow fan. That disgusting psychopath is gonna be a fuckin’ hero to a large segment of our countrymen.

      And then what happens?

      Meanwhile, vote Jeb — he’s just like Hillary, but his Spanish is more bueno.

      • The Right knows what it wants, alright. The problem is, it’s the same as what the left wants. “Vote for me, the fake Democrat, when you could just as easily have the real thing” didn’t work in 1996, it didn’t work in 2008, and it’s not working now.

        Well… while that might be true of many, I think you’re wrong there. I think the Right is just… beaten.

        As Rod Dreher once pointed out in an essay (that I now can’t find), the Right can never get around to actually shrinking government, the most they can ever do is slow its growth. Why? Because it’s been set up now such that it can’t BE fought.

        Consider the following mental exercises: You’re elected to office by a million (or more!) voters, and you were elected with a clear message: reduce government! Ok then, what do you cut? Program A? Do that and you have a hundred angry people hound you into changing your min. Do any of the million that voted you show any support? What about Department Z? This time two hundred people (100 employees and the citizens they service) show up and demand you keep it around. Do any of the million help you out?

        Another one: Let’s imagine the budget can be reduced to simple money. There’s a budget for $100. The spending is currently at $1,000. So what do you cut? Well the problem is that every program, department, etc cost exactly 1 penny of the budget. Which means cutting just 1 or 2 things won’t get you within budget. Which means that people can show up and demand, “why? why cut this it is only a penny?” Which is true of all of them, the problem is that there’s 100,000 programs and departments at a penny each.

        Combine with things like gay marriage the recent planned parenthood “non-stories” I think the message has become pretty clear to the Right: “Vote for us. Or don’t. It won’t make any difference. Nothing we do will matter.”

        They’re not the same, they’re broken.

        • Well… while that might be true of many, I think you’re wrong there. I think the Right is just… beaten.

          I have to disagree with you here. The Right could easily shrink government if it wanted to — that is, if “shrinking government” were its #1 priority. But it’s not. Its #1 priority is “remaining in office.”

          A guy elected with the mandate of shrinking government could slash the budget like Sweeney frickin’ Todd; his reelection speech would be “I did exactly what you told me to. Live with it.” It’s not like that guy is committing financial suicide — we both know that nobody actually leaves office; the “loser” of an election goes on to be a lobbyist.

          And who knows? It may turn out that “doing what the voters tell you to do” is a winning electoral strategy after all. That seems to be the idea behind representative government… you know, back when that was a thing. But we’ll never find out, because voters only count for “winning” “elections.” The actual governing part is done by lobbyists and bureaucrats, who answer only to other lobbyists and bureaucrats.

          I agree that the Right seems broken, and I think the above is why. Hell, it’s true on the left — what are Hillary’s and Biden’s campaign pitches, other than “it’s my turn”? And that’s why Bernie Sanders is ahead in some polls, and damn close in all the others — he actually has an agenda. Anyone who wants to believe that elections are more than a game of musical chairs where nobody’s ever sent home has to find a guy who has ideas. In Bernie’s case, they’re retarded ideas with a seven-decade track record of failure, but whatever — ignorance of history is liberalism’s flux capacitor.

          Again, I’m going to point to Trump. A commenter at Ace of Spades made a great point the other day: Trump is rabidly pro-abortion, effectively pro-amnesty, and a shameless crony capitalist. The GOP leadership should love him; the base should hate him. But of course it’s the other way around, because he’s the only one with a stake in the whole mess. A vote for Trump is, if nothing else, a big hearty “fuck you!” to the whole musical chairs sham.

          That’s why he’s leading, and that’s why I’m really starting to think he is — may God have mercy on us — the next president of the US.

          • I have to disagree with you here. The Right could easily shrink government if it wanted to — that is, if “shrinking government” were its #1 priority. But it’s not. Its #1 priority is “remaining in office.”

            A guy elected with the mandate of shrinking government could slash the budget like Sweeney frickin’ Todd; his reelection speech would be “I did exactly what you told me to. Live with it.” It’s not like that guy is committing financial suicide — we both know that nobody actually leaves office; the “loser” of an election goes on to be a lobbyist.

            And who knows? It may turn out that “doing what the voters tell you to do” is a winning electoral strategy after all. That seems to be the idea behind representative government… you know, back when that was a thing. But we’ll never find out, because voters only count for “winning” “elections.”

            I guess the saga of Scott Walker will determine which of us is right, and which of us is wrong. 😉 (or how much we’re right and how much we’re wrong) Sarah Palin may also fall somewhere in this dataset (wasn’t she hounded so much she ended up leaving office because she couldn’t accomplish anything?) but I’m running off hazy memory.

            Especially because, IMO (in my observations), this:
            “The actual governing part is done by lobbyists and bureaucrats, who answer only to other lobbyists and bureaucrats.”
            is what conflicts with this:
            “It may turn out that “doing what the voters tell you to do” is a winning electoral strategy after all.”

      • Excuse me, it wasn’t Dreher, it was a Ross Douthat’s essay I had in mind (no wonder I couldn’t find it).

        But to many conservatives, the right has never come remotely close to getting what it actually wants, whether in the Reagan era or the Gingrich years or now the age of the Tea Party — because what it wants is an actually smaller government, as opposed to one that just grows somewhat more slowly than liberals and the left would like. And this goal only ends up getting labeled as “extreme” in our debates, conservatives lament, because the right has never succeeded in dislodging certain basic assumptions about government established by F.D.R. and L.B.J. — under which a slower rate of spending growth is a “draconian cut,” an era of “small government” is one which in which the state grows immensely in absolute terms but holds steady as a share of G.D.P., and a rich society can never get rich enough to need less welfare spending per capita than it did when it was considerably poorer.

    • Yeah, I mean he was actually one of the ones that reported favorably on gamer-gate. Picking him as part of this? Wha???

      I only read McCain sometimes, but everything I’ve seen shows him to be bold and very intelligent in combating destructive PC nonsense, especially feminism. I’m not surprised that he came out against the SJW jerks in the gamer-gate brawl.

      He’s done really excellent work (especially his Sex Trouble series/book) and has the guts to put himself out there saying lots of very un-PC stuff. McCain has done plenty to earn my respect, and certainly does not deserve to be branded as impotent and feckless. That’s just absurd.

  3. Nate (5:12pm):

    Well the problem is that every program, department, etc cost exactly 1 penny of the budget. Which means cutting just 1 or 2 things won’t get you within budget. Which means that people can show up and demand, “why? why cut this it is only a penny?”

    This is what some economists call the problem of “concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.” For example, government subsidies for agriculture are concentrated on maybe 1% – 2% of the population, but the cost is diffused across all taxpayers. If you try to cut these subsidies, big agri-business (Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, etc), their lobbyists and some farmers will scream bloody murder and stop the cut because it’s very important to them. But the average taxpayer doesn’t really care because that particular budget cut will only save him $1.17 on his tax bill.

    Nate (5:29pm):

    [what conservatives want] is an actually smaller government, as opposed to one that just grows somewhat more slowly than liberals and the left would like. And this goal only ends up getting labeled as “extreme” in our debates…

    Several years ago, some economist[s] (maybe from the libertarian Cato Institute) came up with a plan to counter the problem of concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. The key is to make the cuts large enough for taxpayers to really care about the resulting savings in their taxes.* After assembling a large list of cuts to the most useless parts of the budget, the question then becomes: Do you want this big pile of government crap, or do you want a 35% cut in your tax bill?

    Now you’ve got a real fight. Of course the bureaucrats and people who benefit from the pointless expenditures will scream like stuck pigs. But you’ll also have millions of taxpayers fighting against them.

    I believe this is one of the most promising approaches for real reductions in the size of bloated government, but I’m not optimistic about its prospects for success. The beneficiaries of wasteful government spending are often well-organized (the bureaucrats running such programs almost certainly are) and have the entire left behind them along with 90% of the MSM. This 3-headed monster (esp the MSM) would generate a propaganda campaign like nothing you’ve ever seen, portraying the cuts as worse than the Black Plague.

    This mass propaganda would likely convince a large fraction of the low-information blob, resulting in a large majority against the cuts, probably 60% (or more) against. After all, nobody wants a Black Plague.
    —–

    * IMHO, the federal government has gotten so huge and obscenely wasteful, you could probably trim 35% off of their budget without truly affecting anyone–other than the government employees laid off and the lefties who go bonkers over a reduction in the rate of increase in spending, much less an actual cut.

    • Sorry to be way late to this party – but it occurs to me that one way to sell that hypothetical cut is to cast it in terms of the immediate past – plenty of taxpayers still remember when the government cost what it cost five years ago, ten years ago. Well, why can’t we do that now? What more bang for the buck are we getting for $3.8 trillion that we weren’t getting at $2.8 trillion? What could possibly be costing us all an extra one thousand billion bucks?

      How many major lottery wins have there been in American history? If you lumped them together, would it actually cover that trillion bucks? And that’s just for this year. What about next?

      I think that makes the number more manageable to the minds of the actual citizen. There’s maybe 120 million households in the US – we’re talking over $8300 bucks per household. What could your family do with $8300?

      And while we’re having that epic throwdown, on the side start to quietly sunset programs, not replace retiring fed workers, and trim benefits. The diffuse cost equation can work in the other direction, too – $10 per week per person in gubmint bennies starts to add up when you consider how many are getting them.

      The next step would be to shove these mandates down to the state level or below – if you want that lavish program, California, be our guest. Put up a ballot question. Pass a law. Citizens will have proportionately more power the more local the issue becomes. I might be able to change 1000 people’s minds in my home county, but it’s useless compared to everyone in Boston, New York City, Austin, Portland, and San Francisco hitting the “cheap moral satisfaction” lever.

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