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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Barbarism and Tolerance

Richard Fernandez describes a couple of events in far reaches of the world (Tunisia and the Philippines) and concludes that barbarism is at least partly made possible by tolerance.

Possibly that is because moderation itself — with its emphasis on tolerance and rational cogitation — is vulnerable to violence in ways that the raw human instinct is not.  The moderate Tunisians are far too well mannered to act against extremists. Like tolerant people the world over, they withhold judgment until the last. Their moment of presentiment never happens; rational thought is retrospective to start with and the decision point may come not at all.

The basic man still has some advantages over the supreme intellectual in the immediate face of danger. What saved [some people] was not their education or refinement. It was the memory of living in dangerous places and the instincts formed thereby. ... education as much as anything else, prepared many Jews to voluntarily walk into the gates of Auschwitz. They could not conceive of something as awful, as barbarous as that death camp, even as they passed it portals. Only the men who had seen others at their worst could perceive the danger and ready themselves to resist what rational man could not apprehend.
He explains in more detail (In the comments):
It is fundamentally a good thing to be tolerant and civilized. But in order for civilization to work, barbarism must be constantly kept at bay. In the state of nature tolerance is repaid with death. Hence, it is the duty of the King’s Justice to keep totalitarian influences in check in order to preserve the luxury of civility. You need a fund of safety in order to afford to be decent. Run out of safety and you run out of civility.
Tolerance spent wastefully may eventually so empower extremists that it will destroy the tolerance itself in the long run. So while tolerance is good it must shelter beneath a roof through which the rain must never pour.
Barbarism was defeated so thoroughly 70 years ago that most of the Western World think it is just a boogeyman story; something that never existed except in the stories of old people to scare children today. They feel so secure they can’t comprehend the dangers of letting the plague get a foothold again. It is unfortunate they cannot conceive of the Design Margin running out.
In Michigan today, barbarism reared its ugly head.  In addition to a union thug punching out conservative comedian Steven Crowder at a protest, the crowd pulled down a tent and began walking across without knowing whether or not people were left inside the tent.  If there had been people inside, they would've been killed.

We're seeing more violent protests like this one in the west and in the United States.  Violent mobs that don't meet violent resistance and/or rapid retribution and punishment for their violence are likely to embolden others who have a penchant and/or use for violence, possibly causing violence, intimidation, and terrorism to snowball.  Like the moderate Tunisians, conservatives in the west may also be too well mannered to resist effectively.  The curse of interesting times may be rapidly approaching.

33 comments:

erp said...

Bret, this is only the beginning. We are entering a new dark age much worse than the first.

Hey Skipper said...

From Taranto's The Best of the Web:

Here's how the Detroit Free Press covered the union thuggery we discussed yesterday:

"There were some scuffles between police and protesters, leading police to use pepper spray. A tent erected by right-to-work proponents also got torn down. Three people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and are expected to be arraigned today. But, overall, considering the size of the crowd, police and organizers described the day as peaceful."

The Washington Examiner reports that union thugs also destroyed a hot dog cart owned by Clint Tarver and "and called Tarver an 'Uncle Tom,' among other racist epithets, for serving right-to-work proponents."

Remember when police had to use pepper spray against Tea Party members who had started "scuffles," Tea Partiers tore down a tent erected by Nancy Pelosi fans, Tea Partiers assaulted a black man and shouted racial epithets at him--and the media uncritically relayed a description of the events as "peaceful"?

Neither do we.

Harry Eagar said...

Crowder admits he was the initial assailant. I await, without much hope, a rewriting of this post.

It remains historical fact that employer violence exceeds worker violence in labor disputes by a factor of at least a thousand to one.

Harry Eagar said...

Crowder admits he was the initial assailant. I await, without much hope, a rewriting of this post.

It remains historical fact that employer violence exceeds worker violence in labor disputes by a factor of at least a thousand to one.

Bret said...

Do you have a link?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"not everything is on the web"

Hey Skipper said...

... exceeds ...

Present tense. Really?

Bret said...

Perhaps this is the sort of thing Harry was referring to: "The way he describes it, he and “some men” reacted after union protesters started ransacking a tent sponsored by the pro-”right-to-work” group Americans for Prosperity. “We didn’t get violent with them,” said Crowder. “But we did try to push them off the tent. That is true. We tried to push them off the tent.”"

I don't see how that significantly affects this post. Also, these comments are part of this post, so Harry, your objection is noted.

Also, Crowder did file a complaint and there is an investigation underway, so I'm sure we'll get an update from the MSM if it turns out the Crowder did more than try to protect the tent from being ransacked.

Bret said...

More about those oh-so-gentle employees Harry refers to:

"A speaker at a union protest against right-to-work legislation said if Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill he would get "no rest" and that protesters would be at his "daughter's soccer game."

"The Rev. Charles Williams II made the comments Tuesday to loud cheers before a group of thousands of union workers. [...]

"Gov. Snyder later that day signed a bill into law making Michigan a right-to-work state. One of his daughters is a 16-year-old high school student.

"Just know one thing, Rick Snyder: You sign that bill, you won't get no rest," Williams said. "We'll meet you on Geddes Road. We'll be at your daughter's soccer game. We'll visit you at your church. We'll be at your office.

"Because Michigan workers will not take it laying down — by any means necessary!" he said.
"

I wonder what "by any means necessary" means? Targeting his children for one, apparently. Does this count in the 1000 to 1 ratio Harry mentioned above?

Harry Eagar said...

How messy. Much easier to call the governor and tell him to have the militia shoot a sufficient number of your opponents to calm them down.

That's never been a union option, though. Only employers got to do that.

It's true that since the New Deal, governors have not been compliant, but I've never seen any evidence that employers wouldn't revert to type as soon as political conditions allow it.

A post about the looting of the Hostess pension fund by management would be nice about here.

erp said...

Write it then, but don't forget links..

Annoying Old Guy said...

Why not the looting of Illinois state employee pensions by the state government?

Bret said...

Yup. The shepherds and the wolves kinda look the same, don't they.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Much easier to call the governor and tell him to have the militia shoot..."

Um, that would be government on employee violence, not employer on employee violence.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

And clearly the solution to that is a more powerful government. Or maybe some regulations like "governors are not allowed to have workers shot". Surely the governor would enforce that, right? Because we trust him with so many other worker related regulations.

Harry Eagar said...

that would be government on employee violence

Well, no. We have historical examples before us, and the ones making the call were, as I indicated before, always employers.

We could imagine a different history, but we do have to live with the effects of the history we did have.

Bret said...

Harry,

Was the Governor involved as you earlier stated, or was he not?

erp said...

Harry, sadly you are right we have to deal with history as it is, not as the fantasies of the left would have it.

Harry Eagar said...

Not just one governor was involvedl. Many.

It used to be that state governments were a subsidiary of local bosses. When the bigger federal government undertook to supervise, the number of shootings ordered by governors on behalf of bosses dropped to zero and has stayed there for three generations.

As good an example of the benefits of big and bigger government as you could wish.

erp, do you think the thousands of workers and their familiesshot by state militia in our history are a fantasy of the left? Ever heard of Ludlow?

erp said...

What leads you to believe that reporting of events decades ago was any more accurate than reporting of more recent events. Ever heard of the Durants?

Bret said...

I see.

Small government bad, big government good.

Harry Eagar said...

Small oligarchic government bad/big democratic government good.

I suppose you will say it is just liberal platitudes, but I have read a lot of English constitutional history and some continental legal history, and for the past 150 years at least, the univeral opinion of historians has been that the transfer of power from baronial/ecclesiastical courts to royal courts resulted in less corruption (because corruption was near total in the local courts where judge, jury and benficiary of the decision were always the same person); greater efficiency etc etc.

Even some people who used to be thought of as liberal but are now deemed to be conservatives, like Lecky, were of this opinion.

Harry Eagar said...

Query for all you small gummint, market-oriented folks.

How does a small gummint, antiregulatory, free market system protect anybody from the LIBOR fraud?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-19/ubs-libor-fine-soars-as-traders-bribed-brokers-to-fix-libor-rate.html

erp said...

Skipper, this is such an easy one, let the little old lady take it.

In a small government, free market system there is no global banking collosus where gazillions of our dollars are gathered in one place so they may be conveniently confiscated by despots and their toadies.

Thank you, but no applause please.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I'd go with "the same way Big Government did".

I would add to erp's comment that the fraud wasn't to benefit the LIBOR participants but to make Big Governments happy.

Or that small governments tend to be less heavily in debt and their debt far less of a concern than Big Governments so the fraud matter less.

Harry Eagar said...

Where do you get the fantastical idea that the fraud was not to benefit the banks?

And, if you knew any economic history, specifically banking history, you'd know you have it exactly backward about small countries, banks and debts.

Heck, it doesn't even have to be history. There have been numerous stories in the financial press in the past 4 weeks demonstrating how and why you are incorrect.

erp said...

There you go again assuming the media are telling the truth.

Bret said...

aog wrote: "...the fraud wasn't to benefit the LIBOR participants but to make Big Governments happy."

Why do you think that?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

Because the rates were adjusted down, not up. That means end consumers (such as ones who held mortgages) paid less interest than an honest rate would have been. This was done to keep the debt crisis from embarrassing governments. For instance here is a view from ZeroHedge on the subject but I have seen the same basic data elsewhere.

Harry Eagar said...

An odd argument for a capitalist to make, I think. The actual effect was to expose investors (the job creators we are expected to coddle above all other goods)to fraudulently concealed risk.

erp said...

Ask GM investors how that coddling worked for them.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

Heh. Ask how that coddling worked for non-union pensioners involved with GM. Somehow that kind of looting is fine with Mr. Eagar.

Eagar;

I fail to see why it's odd. I didn't say I agreed with it but I do think it was more in the way of crony capitalism than free markets.

erp said...

All those folks voted for even more socialism, so they can't complain about getting shafted.