A Happy Vicar I Might Have Been
A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;
But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.
And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.
All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.
But girl’s bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.
It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.
I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;
And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn’t born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?
(George Orwell ,1935)
Megan McArdle is very sharp and eminently reasonable. I’ve been reading her since the “Jane Galt” days of a dozen years ago. The second half of her piece yesterday on the Scotus “Obamacare” decision is a call for sweet reasonableness:
But I’ll pause to point out a cultural and political implication of this ruling and the drama leading up to it. Some supporters of the law declared that they were going to take their ball and go home if the Supreme Court didn’t agree with their interpretation of the statute. These people wasted their time: With a 6-3 ruling, the call was not so close that the posturing pushed it over. But these people did have one effect. They eroded something in civic life that we can’t afford to lose. By pretending that the Supreme Court and the rule of law were at risk in this ruling, they strained the already frayed fabric of civil society. Obviously, there are places and times when a nation’s political institutions are so corrupt and compromised that a patriotic citizen is duty bound to try to destroy them rather than let them continue to operate as they are. But that place is not the America of 2015, and the time is not “when I am afraid that the court will disagree with me about one clause of a program I think is really important.” Your country needs a functioning Supreme Court, and the civic support that legitimizes it, more than it needs any government program, including Obamacare. This is something that liberals will become well aware of tomorrow or Monday, when the court is expected to rule in favor of a broad constitutional right to marriage, including for same-sex couples. I’m a libertarian, so as you’d expect, I find that agreeable. On the other hand, as a matter of constitutional theory, I expect the ruling to be a weak outgrowth of the absurd “emanations and penumbras” seeping out of all the sexual liberty cases of the 1960s, for which I can find little actual basis in either the text or intent of the constitution. In other words, I think it will probably be a bad ruling for a good cause, which is why conservatives who sincerely believe this to be a bad cause will have a right to be mad. What they should not do is to go into the sort of shameful tantrum we’ve seen from liberals on the subject of King, where they declare that a ruling against them would be a naked abuse of partisan political power by which the court has thoroughly invalidated any claim it ever had to political legitimacy. The losing side will always be displeased, but let’s keep some perspective: Bush v. Gore should not cost the court its standing. Neither should Citizens United. A case like King v. Burwell should certainly not. We are politically fragile right now, and yet neither side is going away. As we discovered in 1861, at the national scale, there’s no such thing as a tidy no-fault divorce. That’s why the more divided we get, the more vitally important it is to have common institutions that both sides agree to abide with, however much it may chafe at certain moments. Yet instead of recognizing that, we are increasingly trying to destroy those institutions whenever it seems to offer temporary political advantage. However much you dislike the behavior of Congress, or the Supreme Court, or the president, you would like it even less if they really did lose political legitimacy. Because it wouldn’t just be you who threw off the shackles of custom and civic restraint and disregarded rulings you disliked. Those villains on the other side would do the same. I’m perfectly satisfied with the ruling the court got, and how they arrived at it. The court is doing fine. But the last six months have certainly cast doubt on the political legitimacy of our public debate.
And now today comes the “bad ruling for a good cause” and yes, it was entirely expected by me and most people on both sides of the issue. But that doesn’t keep one’s stomach from turning as the catamites and fags and paedophiles scream in our faces their triumph and how just wait, they will find us h8aters and hound us out of our professions and civil life. Justice Kennedy’s bullshit about how “free speech” isn’t affected by the blessing by the government of sodomy will soon be seen for what it’s worth–“a warm bucket of spit.” You’re “free” to say anything you like, as long as the government doesn’t put you in jail for it. Losing everything else is just “private” responses in our “free, democratic” society. McArdle is a smart woman, and I’m sure she didn’t raise the spectre of “1861” lightly. I can only hope that the gloves do come off, and sooner rather than later. One of the things I learned from John Keegan’s Civil War volume was just how many Americans on both sides were spoiling to go to actual, bloody destructive war and finally settle the question that had festered like a pus-filled wound for decades in the country. With each new blow to sanity, sense and “the will of the people” through the vote that’s overturned by the courts, along with each “unconstitutional” Executive Order that goes unchallenged and each Act of Congress that that’s popular only with the billionaires, we move a step closer to some kind of settling of the question: How much will people take? I’m sorry, but there is no “political legitimacy of our public debate” anymore, Miss McArdle. There is only “who/whom” and some proportion of us won’t just stand still and take it in the anus. When all the traffic is one way, and the best “conservatism” can offer is to stand athwart history and yell “Stop” the time for debate has long passed. I finally, truly dropped out of “politics” after the 2012 elections, though I’d been reading Moldbug for several years prior. Being the old war horse I was, it was hard not to answer to sound of the bugles, and I’ll guiltily admit I was anticipating some schadenfreude in November 2012 about the deposing of the Half-Blood Prince. The joke was, of course, on me. Anyway, to bring this rather disjointed screed to a close, I’m done, finished, spent, outta here. Exitus. I sincerely hope all the married homos enjoy their homosex more now that it’s within “marriage.” I hope Megan McArdle enjoys a little more “civil discourse” before she steps over a constantly shifting line and gets fired. I hope President Hillary gives the country the leadership it deserves, good and hard. I hope I pass of natural causes before Scotus finds a “right to die” and some doctor drips poison into my veins to end my suffering as I feebly claw at the needle. I don’t hope to persuade anyone of anything, anymore. There are some private forums now where the like-minded of us can plan and work to save what’s worth saving. The rest of the world is free to enjoy the wages of its actions.