Friday, December 10, 2010

Now is The Winter of Our Discontent*

This is a winter of severe disruption around the world, as the old order edges further down the slippery slope, and chaos beckons.  Europe is burning, and I wonder how long until it hits our shores.

(from the Daily Mail, 12/10)

Today's college students in the UK grew up hearing stories from their parents about attending college for free, but that ended under John Major's administration in  the 1990s - when these students were children or before they were born.  These riots are supposedly the result of increasing college costs from 3000 to 9000 pounds (roughly $14,000) maximum.  It's also possible that the increase is justification for riots the left has been looking for an excuse to hold.

There is no doubt that there are groups trying to cause chaos and governmental collapse.  One of the hackers defending Wikileaks, for example, goes by the name of "Cold Blood" and says,
"We will fire at anything that tries to censor WikiLeaks." Really? Adding that the group wanted to be a, quote, "force for chaotic good."
"Chaotic Good"??  There is only one force at large in this world who thinks chaos is good.  I don't know what the kids call him these days, but he's known for throwing Jews into gas chambers, sowing killing fields in Cambodia, China and Siberia, shooting abortionists, and pretty much any instance you can name of coming to "steal, kill and destroy".  Does it not look like we are re-living this haunting work?

The Gods of the Copy Book Headings - Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! 



* confidential to any dweebs who studied Shakespeare or Literary Criticism in general: yeah, I understand that's not what the famous quote is really saying.  It was saying the bad winter was over, not starting: "Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this son of York".  

4 comments:

Xenocles said...

In all fairness to Cold Blood, and without agreeing at all with his cause, this is likely what he had in mind.

Graybeard said...

To be honest, I don't think that makes the statement much better. That D&D link says "...they may do bad things (even though they will not enjoy doing these things) to people who are, in their opinion, bad people, if it benefits the greater good." Isn't that a form of psychosis? It's certainly the mainstay of evil tyrants of all stripes.

I don't think I'd particularly welcome it if someone told me something along the lines of, "I'm going to have to kill you. I'm not going to enjoy it and it's not going to be much fun, but you're standing in the way of what I view to be the greater good - my socialist paradise". I don't care if they're enjoying it when they have the gun to my head. The outcome is the same.

And this is without specifically commenting on guys who think D&D is real life!

Xenocles said...

I read it more as allegiance to the good over the law or societal norms (where they conflict). Reverse the hypothetical situation to have you defending your rights against an encroaching government agent. Doesn't that mindset describe the three percenters (and all revolutionaries)? They just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a chaotic persona (as evidence, he's serving an 11-year prison term) who stood up to the established evil order. Chaos and order are really quite amoral. The most orderly place in the world is a concentration camp.

I also don't agree with the idea that you can do bad things in pursuit of the good. I tend to believe that motive shapes the morality of many acts. Motive makes the difference between murder and self-defense - the act of violence is itself neutral. a German assassinating Nazis during WWII would have been acting as a chaotic good - unquestionably doing the right thing but in direct violation of the laws of his society.

I view (and the article agrees) tyrants as belonging to the lawful evil category - they exploit the law to achieve their own evil ends.
And of course D&D isn't real life, but bits of it could be considered art imitating life, I think. (I've never played.) Neither is this meant to equate all actions as long as they think they're doing the right thing - certainly there is a measure of objective morality. The point was just to caution against dismissing unlawful acts as inherently evil - the two tend to overlap in varying degrees but are very discrete concepts.

Graybeard said...

Excellent points. I absolutely didn't consider those examples.

Perhaps I'm listening to too many "out there" sources, but my view of the whole Wikileaks thing is not positive toward Assange. (This could be another longish blog post.) In a nutshell, I am extremely skeptical that their motives are good. That, in turn, probably makes me see people attacking the world in their defense as not working from good motives as well. The tactic of leaking classified documents that make an opponent look bad, after all, is straight from Alinsky ("4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. 5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.")

I have not tried to wade through the leaked documents; I just don't have the time. I've only come across the occasional reference to an item that is not at its core anti-US, though, and it could simply be accident that they let out something that isn't anti-US. And while I have my issues with many things the Fed.gov does, I do not believe we are only good 5% of the time.