Collapse or Correction

Arthur Harrison suggests that the rise of Trump means that “the collapse” is already happening.

Those of you who are sitting around waiting for the collapse don’t get it – it’s happening NOW.

It may even be ending.

Did you think a collapse would mean that the Internet went down and all the banks stopped running? Were you expecting a Hollywood movie?

Maybe you live in a safe white neighbourhood — maybe the looting hasn’t come to your street.

But there has been looting.

When Rome fell a lot of people didn’t notice — but it fell all the same.

The absolute crisis of confidence in the Occidental elites *is* the collapse.

People like Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump simply are the new elites #NRx was hoping to influence when it theorised the collapse in 2013.

Seriously, what did you think would happen?

Were all the buildings going to spontaneously combust?

You guys wouldn’t know a collapse if it bit you on the ass.

What do we mean when we talk about collapse?  There are actually a couple of different things. One is the decline in certain capabilities of our civilisation.  There’s general agreement that that has been going on for a while, so that isn’t what @AvengingRedHand is talking about. (You can point to the downfall of the old European order with the First World War, or suggest that there was a peak in scientific and technical achievement in the 1970s).

The notion of collapse that Harrison is emphasising is the opportunity for a change in the system of power of the US (and, by extension, US satellites).

So, do the breakdown of order produced by “Black Lives Matter”, and the rejection of elite assumptions exemplified by Donald Trump’s campaign, constitute the end of the status quo, and an opportunity for a restoration or reset?

I don’t think so. It isn’t quite business as usual, but if anything it represents a correction to some recent excesses of the mainstream left. The left through the twentieth century was always a balance between practical power-seeking politicians and enthusiastic puritan youths, and for the last decade the idealists have been gaining the upper hand. This always produces a backlash, but that backlash produces a discrediting of the openly ideological left and a recovery of the realistic strategy-minded left. It also produces narrow but significant victories for the right. What it does not produce is the end of the system.

I think it is reasonable to compare the current situation with the end of the 1970s.  The sixties had produced an excess of idealistic leftism, which had run out of control. The mainstream right had followed the zeitgeist to the extent of accepting a steady growth of welfare, increasing state control of industry, and a foreign policy conciliatory to the Soviet Union and international communism.

The backlash brought a former Democrat with celebrity status and a populist tone to the presidency. Some of the leftist excesses were rolled back temporarily—welfarism, alliance with international leftism—and some others were permanently ended—nationalised industry. But the system didn’t change. The left reorganised, became more sensible, and a decade on began to both recover its losses and make new advances in other areas.

It seems quite possible that 2016 could see a similar backlash and correction to the recent excesses of leftism. It is possible that in some areas—for instance on the immigration issue—there could be a change in policy and attitude that lasts for decades. But that would simply be a shift from the current unsustainable leftist spiral to a more sustainable leftist spiral.

What is more interesting is what the result will be if there is no correction.

Diversity and Tolerance

The fact that the “benefits of diversity” have acquired a theological status in the religion of our enemies should not blind us to the fact that there are, potentially, genuine benefits, as well as costs, of diversity. Some of the arguments are valid.

Those with exceptional contributions to make in society are often exceptional in other ways. They may be self-aggrandising, or alternatively abnormally introverted and unsociable. Their unusual abilities might be related to unusual tastes, those who break through barriers of what is considered achievable may also break barriers of what is considered acceptable. All that whether we are talking about aliens to the culture, from outside, or eccentrics produced by the culture who might as well be aliens.

The social attitude that is conducive to obtaining the benefits of diversity, while not
abandoning the idea of cultural standards, is called Tolerance.

Tolerance is never an absolute. It is not an abdication of judgement, it is a balancing of judgement. Tolerance avoids conflict, gains the benefits of diversity, but risks undermining norms.

If the norms of a society are under threat, tolerance is likely to decline, and necessarily so. If a society is strong and healthy, it can become more tolerant.

Also, those who actually do make oustanding contributions can be rewarded with tolerance of their eccentricities, without those same eccentricities developing into virulent subcultures of their own.

Our society has become much more accepting of diversity, particularly over the last few decades. But that is not a result of increasing tolerance; rather, society has become much less tolerant of any kind of dissent from its norms. Instead of being tolerant of deviance from norms, many norms have been abandoned entirely, and in place of the virtue of tolerance we have the law of equality, identified with justice.

The idea of equality does not have the flexibility and balance that the old idea of tolerance had. If one class of behaviour is equal to another, then there is nothing to
tolerate. In the short run, this looked to be equivalent to a surge of tolerance, but while one can tolerate anything, to a greater or lesser degree, one cannot treat everything as equal. Some norms are found to be essential, and breaking those norms cannot be permitted. Since the language of tolerance has been lost, replaced by the language of equality, the remaining norms get enforced with a pitiless severity. One action will be celebrated as the exercise of equal rights, while another almost identical will be condemned as a crime; there can be no middle ground. Showing people smoking on television is encouraging unhealthy behaviour and must be banned, but showing fat people eating is encouraging unhealthy behaviour, and must be held up as an ideal.

In practical terms, the concept of equality for aliens and deviants has to go. But it should not be replaced with hatred or censoriousness, but with a limited, conditional, and flexible tolerance.

For fun: a Google Ngram of inequality vs intolerance. The same pattern is not seen for equality vs tolerance, but I feel that using the negative words implies that the concepts are the standards: if people are talking more about equality, that doesn’t necessarily mean that equality has a higher status, but if people are talking more about inequality, that implies that equality is seen more as the normal or correct thing.

For more fun: Milo on why being tolerated is better than being equal.