On the insufficiency and dangers of activism

A contribution from Joel Dietz:

” I find that generally people internally evaluate the “goodness” of any particular project on the basis of some internal checklist, which has a number of values (“clean,” “sustainable,” “inspiring,” “decentralized,” “meaningful,” “reflecting value” etc.) associated with it, and then decide that something is good or bad depending how closely it matches with their own value set.

Generally people have certain areas in which they are more willing to engage without extensive due diligence (i.e. going out and eating at a restaurant, without asking about how the animals and plants were raised and treated, pumping petrol into their car), and areas where they are much more inclined to force value alignment (notably, discussions on religion, sex, and politics).

Some people make higher demands than others in this regard, and even serve as gate keepers within particular communities which aspire to high values. I call these people “activists.”

Part of the reason I call them activists, is that a strong set of values that is non amenable to change can be as much of a hinderance as a strength. For example, some of the most personally inspiring activist types I know live moneyless. They ensure, for themselves and others, a certain type of “free spirit.” But their insistence on not using money is an obstacle to other types of growth.

My own preferred growth model, which I think of as Burkean, is incremental positive change. I know that often times people prefer more radical and violent change, and that there is a constant cry in men’s hearts for some manner of “revolution.” My own quietest spirit wishes that the revolution would happen in the turning inward of men, the greater attention to the great works of the human spirit, rather than mass revolutions.

If it is true that I despise the current power structure of the world, this makes me no more inclined to rebel against it. I see a series of rebellions, such as we see spilling out through the middle east, producing a banquet of slaughter, not a cornucopia of good fruit. I also see the sword as a tool for the defense of good things, not as something which leads to the construction of the good.

I gladly would protect my own with lethal force, slaughtering even my brother if he ventured over the line of the sacred circle. The law forever reigns, even over kings; my instincts in this regard are entirely Roman. But I have little need or desire to spread order by violence. Building is enough work in and of itself. My ideal is still the old one of the city on the hill, a fortified beacon and bulwark.

Activism, such as I have here somewhat maligned, can clearly force sub-optimal outcomes, because the value set exists independent of the opportunity, and the possibilities of any particular time. For example, I am glad that slavery no longer exists, but there were a great number of periods in time where it would have been foolish to attempt to abolish it. One must know the possibilities of the time.

So, if what you look for is a revolutionary, a great standard of fire and blood, you have not found it with me. You find only an old Roman, ready to take up a sword to defend a citadel. My passion is to build, protect and serve, not to light new fires.

And, as noted, I have generally been disappointed by these discussions. Deep culture remains a topic fit into some sort of abstract intellectual superstructure, rather than one lived and breathed. My own personal needs and inquiries are not met, or addressed, and I feel gradually forced into what I can only describe as a lose-lose situation. I am supposed to express allegiance to an idea what is not even articulated.

There is an immensely interesting aspect to the psychology of these revolutionary appeals. The primary is that, largely due to their influence by Marxist rhetoric, they are completely unable to establish any sort of positive good. One can only establish the negative aspect of some power relation, and the need to remove it. Without an idea or theory of the good, they are only able to get excited about removing the “bad,” and here it should be no surprise that it is often mis-identified.

I suspect that X__’s inability to put his own legal ideas into words stems from this same psychological shortcoming. He has a glorious idea of the enemy, but no deep understanding of the good. The Nietzschean story arc places the power in the hands of the underdog, who gloriously seizes the reigns from the previous lords.

This is how the world of finance achieved such prominence. But this is not how it will fall. Look at your troops. They are mangy and without discipline. Fear is in their eyes. Could they hold a line? Would you throw hand made molotov cocktails at the Pentagon?”buy zithromax

2 Comments On the insufficiency and dangers of activism

  1. AvatarMatthew Slater

    Joel I watched ‘The Mission’ the other day, in which two activist priests defend their mission in South America from encroaching Portugese slavers. Once the politics had failed, Robert de Niro put up a fight, while Jeremy Irons refused to shed blood even of the invaders. Once De Nero’s lines were broken, Jeremy Irons led the women and children out of the chapel to be slaughtered.
    But at least he kept his conscience clear!
    Your Burkean approach of incremental change approach assumes that the world is a stable place and each person’s actions help to steer history in an act of co-creation. But what if there is a tsunami coming in the opposite direction? The super elite is collapsing the economy, grabbing power, money & land at an unprecedented rate. They spy on, kill, discredit, their enemies and their competitors. They are installing a mind control grid which is making dissent impossible. It feels like history is reaching a climax.
    I realise that there is a time for everything under the sun. But what if that time is NOW? Hindsight is not a luxury we can afford!

  2. AvatarJoel Dietz (@fractastical)

    I’ve cried during that scene during that film several times. In that particular case, the good guys lost either way. One took some casualties from the other side. The other carried his cross and hopefully sparked some conscience from the other side.

    That’s to say, I’m more interested in winning than making a statement.

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