November 09, 2004

The Wand'ring Moon

by Demosophist

You know, I was mentally and emotionally prepared to lose this election, because in spite of the fact that I don't like Kerry very much I don't actually believe he's the incarnation of evil. Most of the people in the pro-war camp discussed this quite a bit, and although not everyone went along most of us did. Jeff Jarvis, at BuzzMachine, is probably a crossover figure, who happened to have voted for Kerry. There were even a few in the pro-war camp who did so as well. There really is a stigma that attaches to sore losers and that works against them in subsequent elections, and at the extreme threatens the peaceful transition of power at the heart of democracy. Indulging outrageous conspiracy theories is part of being a sore loser, that seductively leads to worse. There's a name for it: Political Paranoia. (I highly recommend this scholarly book, though the persons who probably most need to read it, never will.)

I'm not sure what one does about it, but this article from the NYT and a similar one in the Guardian a short time ago, cross the line. They both obliquely suggest correcting the "error" of the voters by assassination. Political paranoia, it seems, has moved into the mainstream, probably through vectors like Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall and Daily Kos. I don't recall anyone in the mainstream media in 1969 speculating that it might be a good idea to shoot LBJ, though there was probably a lot of alternative press that did so. This present phenomenon is new in the way it coaxes, cajoles, and commands the sentiments and hopes of otherwise well-meaning people the way the moon commands the tides. And though it obviously signals an internal threat (that doesn't seem to alarm the "powers that be" very much) that's not the half of it. Crossing this line is also probably a signal that a threat from outside has actually achieved, for the first time, the distinction of at least having the potential to actually inflict a mortal wound on western civilization. And the mere fact that such a thing is conceivable brings out the morbid potential that lives in the shadowy hearts and minds of the super-empowered home-neighborhood fringe. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think we ever saw anything like this in the 1960s.

Now I've expressed the possibility, to a few friends, that some veterans might have been sufficiently angry at John Kerry that they'd have contemplated assassination, but I didn't think the mainstream conservative media would solicit such a thing. And if it had I think it would be appropriate to use the word "sedition." Perhaps what we're seeing is simply the growing pains of a culture that is transforming from Liberalism 2.x to Liberalism 3.x, compelled to mature by the next generation of Totalitarianism. But something is happening, and I don't think we've seen its like before.

To behold the wand'ring moon,

Riding near her highest noon,

Like one that had been led astray

Through heaven's wide pathless way

- John Milton Il Prensroso

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and Anticipatory Retaliation)

By Demosophist at 10:34 AM | Comments |