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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gutenberg's Dilemma and Conservative Choice

I have been musing over what I call Gutenberg's Dilemma:  how changes in the medium of communication lead to conflict.
And I do mean "conflict". I almost wrote something a bit more innocuous, like "differences of opinion", but I do mean "conflict. People always have differences of opinion. What is most interesting is when these differences lead to conflict. The times when the differences of opinion are still simmering under the thin lamina of social tolerance with rare bubbles of ebullition coming to the surface are those halcyon times we think about the need for a "conversation" of topics relating to those "differences" of opinion.

But the times of conflict get us focused, although sometimes in a goofy way.
I have in mind Thomas Müntzer and the Peasant's War just a few years after Gutenberg, and Andrew Anglin, modern day publisher of The Stormer, which seeks to re-incarnate Julius Streicher's Der Stürmer.

I read two articles this morning:

The Atlantic

The Making of an American Nazi
How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist—and how might he be stopped?


The Forward
Raising Kids Orthodox And ‘Woke’ In Face Of Pressure To Back Trump
Blima Marcus   November 13, 2017

A good deal of discussion about the New Nazism has to do with First Amendments issues. By making the "conversation" one about constitutional law, we render it (1) boring and tedious, and (2) fairly sure of being ineffective, or (3) being counter-productive; i.e., perhaps we issue a law forbidding "free speech" or some such other nonsense.
(We are quite capable of it. I think Florida's politicians are itching to do something like it!)

I deal with the human moral dimension as having two components, good and evil.

Since these duals form the moral dimension, it is not reasonable that we would expect "evil" to disappear or go away, sort of like on a Devil's Holiday.
As some very spiritual and brainy types have said, we shall always have evil with us.

Not for one moment do I believe Mr. Trump holds any of the racist and Nazi beliefs. However, there is no denying that the complex events leading up to and eventuating in his election allowed the New Nazis breathing space.
This freedom allowed them to jump from the TAZ of the Internet into everyday reality of Act and Fact.

It was Gutenberg's Dilemma of the communication ability of the Internet that gave the Nazis a place to grow and find each other in the dark. The Internet allowed the virus of hate to spread widely, much more so than TV, radio, or newspapers could have in the old days.

Then because of a seeming correlation between conservatives and right-wingers and extreme right-wingers - renamed "alt-right" (which I assume follows the usages of previous neologisms like "alt-net" -  the pot of Nazism boiled over, and what previously had been experienced as the "rare bubbles of ebullition" became Charlottesville.

At no time should this be allowed. The increase in communications' efficiency grew vast groups and the effect of this socialization of like-minded radicals led to the mutation from dwelling on Thought-Memes to engaging in Action.
(Perhaps there is a "critical mass" of group size at which things burst forth?)
In essence, the Nazis were freed from their blood-ivory tower.

Again, evil will not be expunged totally. But the Acts of evil can be held back by law and social order.
What we see now is small events that are dress rehearsals for new Kristallnächte.
Speech cannot be constrained, but actions must be.
The moral education of our society must not ignore nor deceive the needs of what is required for a good and moral life.

We "intellectualize" our fears away. We intellectualize evil and make it worthwhile or merely innocuous.
As a case in point, we turn the recrudescence of Nazism into a constitutional debate about First Amendment rights. That is fine, but the matter does not lay in the purview of the lawyers alone, for it is critical to us all.
Mr. Trump "intellectualized" Charlottesville, and that was a mistake. He used the tired old professory-type speech of "two sides to every issue" or the Arthur Murray approach that "it takes two to tango", but his error was being reasonable about the unreasonably evil.
But now we are all intellectualizing New Nazism, and wonder at a conversation between them and Antifa.

A great deal of pro-weapon legislation is not some sort of H. L. Mencken-described anti-intellectualism and boobism; it is an intellectualization of the place of violence in society. How else can you explain the nonsense that if everyone had a gun, we would be much safer?
That canard starved until fed by Las Vegas [sorry: Texas  , not Las Vegas, was where a bystander with gun shot the terrorist] when finally a by-stander did shot a shooter effectively.
It is an cloud-cuckoo-land type of nonsense argument that I do not agree with, but it is fiendishly intellectualized, and supported by reasonable men with logical arguments and even game theory descriptions on bumper stickers that gun ownership is a zero-sum game for outlaws !!!!
The most egregious example of Intellectualization As A Means To Dispel Fear And Evil in the recent times - certainly the Southern Baptist Church's "intellectualization" of the rights of slave owners was quite in-your-face in the 19th century - is the financial crisis of 2008.

Risk gives rise to fear, we all of us perceive to greater or lesser degree. The "intellectualization" and "mathematicization" of Risk and its enthronement in Economics at the time lead to an incredibly false sense of confidence that Risk (Fear) had been reasonably and logically contained within the structures and strictures of the Financial Community.

But then it fell apart. Believe me, there was a lot of Fear,wasn't there.

Evil does not go away. It may be hidden. Each and every one of us has the potential for evil. That is why good training and education is so important.
note on leading photo
It seems to have a different first name for Mr. Anglin.
But I was impressed by its ambiguity. I mean, when I first saw it, I thought the guy in black was soliciting contributions for Mr. Anglin; I thought he was alerting any passing Nazis that Mr. Anglin gladly would accept their hopefully-soon-to-be-tainted-money !

I guess it served a different function.

Greg Anglin is Andrew's father. There some palaver in the story about it, but I'm tired of the whole thing.

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