Walmart Jesus gets a touchdown

January 11, 2016 § 21 Comments

Jerry Seinfeld once wryly observed that in the context of constant team-swapping among individual players and city-swapping among teams, what we are really rooting for when we cheer for our favorite football team is the clothing worn by the players.

A similar superficiality is at work when right and left liberals cheer for their favorite teams and players in the bread-and-circuses of modern politics.  In modern politics we can’t talk about anything that is actually important in its own right, on its own terms.  In order to have political quiddity at all one must first doff his cap to the king and then light a pinch of incense to Caesar, to the incoherent and immortal doctrine of liberalism which rules over us. To the extent anything important can penetrate the discussion at all it must first be framed in liberal terms. The good, the true, and the beautiful are fine as long as they are packaged, shelved and inventoried for modern man to choose or not choose as he sees fit.

Because liberalism is incoherent the playoffs, I mean elections, and the political circus more generally, become all about lists of preferences: aggregations of long lists of policies, tied together by nothing more than their appeal to different market segments.

That is how most of you, dear readers, will get pulled into the dreary spectacle, become convinced to doff your own caps and, however reluctantly, light your pinches of incense.  I am sure the ruling class has got something in the big basket of preferences which is targeted to appeal to you.

§ 21 Responses to Walmart Jesus gets a touchdown

  • Aethelfrith says:

    I’m trying to frame the unrest in Europe within the context of your recent series of posts. I don’t think I can. But I will try to anyway.

    I (and maybe only I) have been disturbed at how some of the alt-Right are not-so-secretly champing at the bit to kill swathes of invaders in order to “protect” “Christianity.” Others are champing at the bit to “punish” their leaders for their offenses, REAL and imagined also in order to “protect” “Christianity.”

    I find that there’s a grave artificiality in an attempt to bring Europe/America/Christianity/whatever back to its roots, not in the sense that it is the right thing to do nor because of ingrained loyalty, but in the sense that it happens to be a preference in a smorgasbord of preferences.

    I don’t know. I’ll see what you have to say .

  • King Richard says:

    If I may interject: most of the “alt-Right” crowd are truly Classical Liberals and are caught up in the same lack of leadership and will as the rest of Western Liberals.

  • Zippy says:

    Aethelfrith:
    There is certainly something to what you say. In the ‘doffing his hat’ thread the commenter AntiDem defended monarchy as simultaneously immoral and as justified by its products: that is, on nakedly consequentialist grounds, all while claiming to be a very traditional Catholic. Efforts by commenters to get him to see the self contradiction were in vain. The naked consequentialism apparently is his shtick, at least as manifested in a recent Free Northerner thread pointed out by another commenter: the basic problem with democracy is that it doesn’t produce the products that “we” want.

    Much of the alt-right / neoreaction has been the same. The “exit versus voice” business was not about the good, true, and beautiful trumping preferences, and ultimately developing virtue so that the g/t/b is what is in fact preferred: it was about preserving preferences in the face of the previous iteration of liberalism’s failure to produce high quality options.

    Etc, etc.

  • Zippy says:

    KR:

    If I may interject: most of the “alt-Right” crowd are truly Classical Liberals and are caught up in the same lack of leadership and will as the rest of Western Liberals.

    Exactly. The main critique of “liberalism” is that it has failed to produce the products they want, not that it is immoral and insane. They are not ultimately looking to repent: they are looking to make technical modifications to the machine so that it works the way they want it to work and produces the products they want it to produce.

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    I may be repeating myself, but early in my investigation of alt-right/neo-reaction/etc. I ran into an NRx discussion of how sacred honor had been critical to previous generations and their culture. The focus of the discussion was not, however, about how identify and follow sacred honor, it was a discussion of how to replicate the benefits of sacred honor by use of Game Theory.
    I mean, who believes in sacred honor?

  • King Richard says:

    I did repeat myself – my apologies.

  • Zippy says:

    KR:

    The focus of the discussion was not, however, about how identify and follow sacred honor, it was a discussion of how to replicate the benefits of sacred honor by use of Game Theory.

    Right, it is all naked consequentialism. I am sure that future generations of men are going to line up to die, not for the sake of sacred honor, but for the sake of keeping both Coke and Pepsi on the shelves for narcissistic hipsters.

    I had the pleasure of re-reading Mirari Vos recently:

    18. And it is for this reason that the early Christians, lest they should be stained by such great infamy deserved well of the emperors and of the safety of the state even while persecution raged. This they proved splendidly by their fidelity in performing perfectly and promptly whatever they were commanded which was not opposed to their religion, and even more by their constancy and the shedding of their blood in battle. “Christian soldiers,” says St. Augustine, “served an infidel emperor. When the issue of Christ was raised, they acknowledged no one but the One who is in heaven. They distinguished the eternal Lord from the temporal lord, but were also subject to the temporal lord for the sake of the eternal Lord.”[28] St. Mauritius, the unconquered martyr and leader of the Theban legion had this in mind when, as St. Eucharius reports, he answered the emperor in these words: “We are your soldiers, Emperor, but also servants of God, and this we confess freely . . . and now this final necessity of life has not driven us into rebellion: I see, we are armed and we do not resist, because we wish rather to die than to be killed.”[29] Indeed the faith of the early Christians shines more brightly, if with Tertullian we consider that since the Christians were not lacking in numbers and in troops, they could have acted as foreign enemies. “We are but of yesterday,” he says, “yet we have filled all your cities, islands, fortresses, municipalities, assembly places, the camps themselves, the tribes, the divisions, the palace, the senate, the forum….For what war should we not have been fit and ready even if unequal in forces — we who are so glad to be cut to pieces — were it not, of course, that in our doctrine we would have been permitted more to be killed rather than to kill?…If so great a multitude of people should have deserted to some remote spot on earth, it would surely have covered your domination with shame because of the loss of so many citizens, and it would even have punished you by this very desertion. Without a doubt you would have been terrified at your solitude…. You would have sought whom you might rule; more enemies than citizens would have remained for you. Now however you have fewer enemies because of the multitude of Christians.”[30]

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    Are you saying that St. Maurice, the Patron Saint of the Swiss Guard, Soldiers, and Knights, doffed his hat to a king?!

  • CJ says:

    Are you saying that St. Maurice, the Patron Saint of the Swiss Guard, Soldiers, and Knights, doffed his hat to a king?!

    Well, he wasn’t a Virginian.

  • vetdoctor says:

    There’s an awful lot in that quote that is counter cultural.

  • P.B. says:

    I’d like to share a bit of liberal incoherence. In my class on civil liberties (I’m in law school), the students were asked to comment on this quotation from Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

    “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under the compulsion of the state”

    One does not even need to consider the bit about abortion to recognize the statement to be utterly incoherent. A highschooler in a logic class should be able to point out why this statement makes no sense. Yet a classroom full of college educated adults were discussing the proposition as though it were somehow reasonable. They might as well have been commenting on a four sided triangle.

  • P.B. says:

    In regards to one of Aethelfrith’s concerns, I think that a lot of the genocidy talk in the alt right is nothing more than frustrated people blowing off steam on the internet.

  • GJ says:

    PB:

    Maybe with regards to the ethnic genocide talk, but the talk about punishing the leadership and their supporters (eg. tar and feathering, guillotine, hanging on a lamppost) is such a Liberal trope that it should be taken seriously.

  • Zippy says:

    Agreed GJ. Plus one generation’s thoughtless bravado tends to become the next generation’s axiomatic principles. And there is the matter of duffers and fanatics. How seriously people take their own bravado is not a uniformly weak tea: it is as diverse as humanity itself.

  • […] Zippy’s right. I did get dragged into voting last year because of gun control, even though I know I shouldn’t have. […]

  • As an FYI, you should all read that duffers/fanatics post that Zippy linked to if you haven’t. It’s outstanding.

  • […] though may be that taking these words seriously is to misinterpret them. When Jerry Seinfeld equates cheering for a football team with cheering for the team clothing, what he says is humorous […]

  • […] on his arm every time we see him? His defining political position, his unprincipled exception designed for mass appeal, is just that he will keep America from getting dissolved by the dilutive power of mass […]

  • […] I will just gently suggest that if the siren song of Donald Trump, of all people, is capable of luring some ‘principled’ non-voters out […]

  • […] and beyond that should “permit” individuals to evaluate for themselves which options they think are […]

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