Again, “left” and “right” are outdated, but quickly get to the point – friends and enemies.
The American right has a huge blind spot, and that is the near-religious support of certain elements of the state, specifically the military and enforcement wings of the state, even when these elements are acting against their interests. I pointed this out in “Republican Bugmen” – that the republican bugman is still obsessed with state solutions to personal problems, just with a different focus – and it ruffled a few feathers.
The defense of these parts of the state is a natural reaction, due to two things: lack of religion, and the friend/enemy distinction.
Lack of religion produces some obvious replacements that elements of the state and the political class can fill – a need for a priestly caste as well as the need to serve a greater purpose. Republicans believed in Trump. Likewise, they believe in the constitution and believe in the good that is the US military and believe in the police.
I said earlier this week on Twitter that once you start seeing things through a religious lens, it is hard to stop, and this applies as much to the behavior of the “right” as the “left.”
The constitution is a piece of paper, not a divine document, yet people refer to it as if it is a piece of the bible – it’s truth is unquestioned. In reality, it means whatever five unelected dark wizards say it means, and it, being a mere piece of paper, made by man, has been unable to stop the slow erosion of all of our rights.
Trump and Qanon following the “election” are, almost too obviously, functions of religious fervor. People believed in Trump, though more the idea of Trump built-up in online discussions rather than the real man. He was a Caesar-like figure to many, and the cognitive dissonance following his failure to “cross the Rubicon” was near psychic crisis level for some.
So again, they have a pseudo-religious and, honestly, totalitarian view of the state – a view that all good outcomes and indeed the good itself are derived from the state and state actors (like Trump).
The other part of the blind spot has to do with the friend/enemy distinction. It’s natural to want to “back the blue” and “support our troops,” when those people are perceived as your friends. The left whines about law enforcement and wants to defund the police, protests wars (when a Republican is in office) and cries about the “military-industrial complex,” not because they are anarchists (they are totalitarian), but because they perceive those parts of the state as being occupied by their enemies.
Likewise their enemies receive that signal and respond by defending those parts of the state, since they are occupied by friends. This isn’t even inappropriate political behavior. At the end of the day, it all comes down to friends and enemies, but it does produce a huge blind spot.
The “right” has trouble putting this aside and looking at what those elements of the state actually do, and asking the question: are they really our friends? (as a side note, I have actual real-life friends in the military and law enforcement – the answer to the question, like many things, is dependant upon orders of organization)
2020-2021 should have dispelled many of these illusions, but it’s hard to let go of encoded sensibilities that have taken on a religious significance for many.
Republicans were “backing the blue” at the same time the police were enforcing lockdowns and closing churches. The military wasn’t used to protect your rights – instead it was used to enforce the theft of an election, and before that, elements of the military were already directly disobeying the duly elected commander-in-chief and spying on the people in masse.
The military and law enforcement are conditional goods, which is to say, they are good based on what they produce. The right generally fails to make this distinction, instead referring to the ideal state of these institutions rather than what they actually do right now.
Enforcement of law is part of a well-ordered society, but only when both the law is ordered to the good and the enforcers are answerable to the people. A military is useful for defense and conquest of new territories, but when it is not ordered to these purposes the institution can become (as we have seen) a way for some elements in society to plunder our own treasure and waste the lifeblood of our people in pointless, unending conflict.
It’s hard to make a case that soldiers are out protecting my freedoms abroad when my freedoms have been destroyed domestically. I have no freedom of speech because of tech hegemony, which can prevent me from exercising my rights in a meaningful way as well as simply ending my career, I have no freedom of religion because the governor on a whim can close all churches due to a flu, I don’t have a right to bear arms… I DON’T EVEN HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE – at least, to vote and actually have that vote have any affect on the state.
The army should be defending me against the state, but they aren’t. This is part of why conservatives wanted Trump to be Caesar – they desperately wanted some sort of force to defend them against the encroaching state and thought control of big tech.
The bright side of the enforcement issue is localism. I’ve said in the past the real distinction now is between the corporate and local – the large and small orders of organization. Law enforcement right now is mostly local. My locality refused to follow orders and close business and churches, at least after a reasonable amount of time for an emergency. In essence, they refused to enforce laws that were not ordered to the good, and they knew they were answerable to the people that they lived beside and who employed them.
That is something very, very encouraging. Yes, we do have friends in law enforcement, but not at the corporate level. A the corporate level you have organizations like the FBI and ATF, who executed things like Ruby Ridge and the Waco massacre. Notice who BLM focuses on? It’s not the big boys, it’s the local cops – because they know where their enemies are.
If you lived in a locality where the police enforced lockdowns, now is the time to really ask the question – who are my friends?
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