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"The Social People"

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Eric at Classical Values writes:

. . . I will never forget as long as I live seeing an elderly Chinese man interviewed on a local San Francisco "man in the street" television program. He was asked his opinion about a controversial left-wing proposal to do some damn thing I've long forgotten, and he flatly refused to say what he thought. This didn't satisfy the questioner, who kept pressing him, and finally asked him outright why he was so reluctant to speak.

"Because I might get in trouble with people!" the man said.

This only led to further questioning, and at that point the reporter really wanted to know why he'd be in trouble, and with what people.

Finally, the old man allowed a slight twinkle in his eyes, and said,

"You know.... The social people!"

I do know. It's the social people. They are everywhere, and you really don't want to get in trouble with them. Not if you want to avoid being hassled at your job, go about unmolested, not get targeted or audited by bureaucrats, or scolded at the local church groups, PTA meetings, or (for the wealthier and snobbier) even humiliation at smug cocktail parties and country clubs.

The social people take note of deviations, and even silence at the wrong time. You can get on their shit list by saying that there are still glaciers in Alaska after returning from a trip there and seeing them.

The social people want endless government reaching everywhere. Anything that is good for government (meaning anything that generates the need for more government bureaucracy) is considered good -- regardless of whether it solves the underlying problems. In fact, if it aggravates the problem, so much the better, as aggravating the problems leads to cycles of government-grown, government-aggravated growth!

(IMO, a major push behind the immigration bill comes from bureaucrats and social workers who find the illegal status of the 12 million extremely inconvenient, but would consider their legalization through a complex process to be extremely convenient! Laws are often passed simply because bureaucrats hate to be inconvenienced or because they want more jobs. But both? What a win-win!)

 . . .

That's because the social people package their views as a form of morality, and fewer and fewer people are willing to run the risk of being publicly labeled as immoral. It is now immoral to disagree with the overwhelming scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming alarmism. A woman publicly scolded me for it not long ago, and while I brushed her off, many in my position would not have, as she is a rich local philanthropist, much accustomed to giving orders and making sure that the wrong people don't get invitations to social events, and just because I don't care about being snubbed socially does not mean that others don't.

The idea that disagreement on such issues is seen as immoral fascinates me on another level, because I think it might shed light on a polarizing aspect of the Culture War. Once it becomes immoral to disagree with the social people, then the only people who will dare to disagree are people who don't mind being considered immoral. I know I'm generalizing here, but I think these divide themselves into two primary groups:

  • libertarians (and atheists) who are resistant to political arguments dressed up as morality; and
  • religious people who have their own view of morality as coming from God.
  • Unfortunately, many ordinary people are willing to have their morality manufactured and directed for them. There is not enough cynicism, and this allows the "vast group of intellectuals whose standards are declining" to wield the vast social power they do not deserve. While I still don't know precisely what to call this vast group, my biggest concern is that people who are given undeserved and unearned power are more likely to abuse it than people who at least had the decency to run for office. In a country built on the premise that no one has the right to rule, those who believe they have the right to rule are the last who should be given power.

    The Social People.  Coming to a bedroom, garage, living room, kitchen, school, park, business, television, radio, bar, restaurant, sports venue, highway, sidewalk, Wal-Mart, factory, park, front yard, or back yard near you.  And they're right, and you're wrong.  Deal with it.