Governments will do anything—absolutely anything,
no matter how violent or morally repulsive it
happens to be—to prevent anybody from getting
out from under their authoritarian thumb.
This Little Light of Mine
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
The time has come to speak of many things, none of them as romantic as wax seals and kings, let alone dodos, but all of them things that must be talked about. And I don’t mean just on this blog, or just by me.
People who have read this blog know I often refer to having “come out.” While this is the appropriate term, it has nothing to do with sexual inclination. At least, I don’t think we’ve reached the kind of societal bizarro-unanimity about orientation where it is needed to come out as straight. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think so, and part of it is the reason that we must speak of things.
My coming out was of a political nature. My gay libertarian friends (with perhaps one exception) assure me it was much harder to come out as libertarian or anti-Marxist than to come out as gay. It was more likely to materially damage their social life and professional prospects.
And I came out of the political closet in more than full knowledge of this.
Having grown up when and where I did, in a country riven by political divisions, and having had a vital grade held hostage but having been told I could have it if only I would join the Communist Party (and refused, knowing full well what that meant for my prospects in the sciences, yes) I didn’t suffer from the happy-go-lucky notion that my leftist friends would simply smile and say “Oh, you’re libertarian. That’s interesting. It’s at odds with what I think libertarians are. Would you explain to me why you have these ideas?”
For one, I’d lurked enough in leftist circles in both Europe ad the US to realize it was not just a set of political beliefs but a deeply held identity. I had to. The experiences above had schooled me early that the left was zealously guarding the avenues of approach to certain professions.
In Portugal, the only way I could make money from writing was journalism, and it took me about ten seconds of interning in a newspaper to realize that I could refuse to join a party (the excuse being I didn’t like to be tied down/do meetings.) It was weird, but “acceptable.” Or I could join a bizarre, laughable party (when pushed, I told people I was a monarchist.) BUT if they viewed me as in serious opposition to leftist ideas and leftist solutions, they would make sure I never worked anywhere where I might have access to mass communication or even the minds of the young (which was my fall back position. Teaching.)
This dominance of what was until recently a fairly narrow channel of access to the public minds—and those on the right who say we ceded it can f*ck right off. No. The left is very good at running purity tests above competence tests. Part of the reason their skinsuited institutions tend to collapse, yes, but also a road to total domination.— has twisted the left into something very odd.
Not only has their absence of conscience-checkers: i.e. journalists who’ll track them down with the same ruthlessness they track down republicans (anyone want to imagine what would happen to a Republican president who had it on with a woman under his authority while in the oval office? Because I bet you money it wouldn’t be “it’s just sex.”); partly because of the reporting and uniformity of voices everywhere from education to news reporting to the arts, to entertainment, the left became convinced that its opinions, its view of the world, its beliefs were “What everyone who is smart and good believes.”
People were educated in this. I was. Essays with Marxist points of view were rewarded, for instance, and those that didn’t have them were derided. The “right” conclusion to take from history was the Marxist one, etc. Every educated person believed this way.
Humans are social animals. We want to identify with those who are seen as smart and/or good. We want to climb the hierarchy.
It is permissible to say socialism has flaws, but not that the whole system is a pile of manure. You can be a concerned socialist trying to fix (minor) glitches in the “best” system, but not to say it’s just an oligarchy and the oligoy are not the best in this case, and it stinks to high heavens.
If you say something like that you’re for individual liberty, they turn this around by saying you want the strong ruling the weak, because everyone knows without pervasive government interference/control, it ends up in feudalism. Because that’s the way humans are. (The fact that they don’t see that humans in government are also just humans is… amazing. Like government rinses away all your bad instincts, instead of power corrupting.) (They base this, btw, on things like the very corrupt and incapable of reproducibility Zimbardo experiments.)
Anyway, because the concentration of mass media and communication in leftist hands, their point of view became not just one point of view, but the only point of view. And because people with different points of view were invisible, they became demonized.
This is very human, very tribal. It’s “those people there, over the hill, they’re real bastards and not at all like us.”
Only the hill was a mountain of self-censorship and character assassination.
And you knew—if you were in the slightest way aware of social currents—that it would hit you if you ever stepped outside the “tribe.” You still do.
When I started reading dissenting points of view from what “everybody knows” I felt dirty. I would have a physical reaction where I started shaking and sometimes felt nauseous. I actually believed the demonization of certain people as racist/sexist/homophobic, and wouldn’t read them for fear of contagion.
Except, you see, I’m broken. I have a mental defect which got me in more trouble as a young kid than I care to mention: I run towards that which scares me.
It doesn’t mean I embrace it. (Mostly when I ran towards, say, the sound of boys being violent I ended up fighting them. OTOH when we first lived in a big city in the US, which scared me because of the image of big cities in the US projected in Europe, I ended up loving it.) It means I have to go see what it is, so it will stop scaring me.
So I kept reading things that they told me were evilbad. Yes, Sowell was one of the first, starting with his newspaper columns. And very persuasive, because, you know, economics are and I’d observed some of the bad effects of the stuff he said was bad in Portugal, first hand. At some point someone gave me Hayek. Someone and I’ll never know who, because my entire circle at the time was very liberal and I was NOT a public figure, sent me a subscription to Reason, back when it was Virginia Postrel’s thing. Weirdly, reading fiction by those evilbad racist, sexist, homophobes was the last barrier to come down. The conclusion? Well, I do in fact think some of those people nurture beliefs as authoritarian as Marxism, if different. But the vast majority of them writing evilbad fiction, are really just writing fiction. And some of them are incredibly skilled and shine a mirror on things I’d never questioned, and make me think (which is not the purpose of fiction, but it’s one of its values.)
At first it felt like going insane. And I knew better than to mention my increasingly unorthodox opinions in gatherings of writers.
One of the things the left utterly believes is that the right is not as creative. It’s one of those things in which having the megaphone and preventing anyone else from being heard (certainly from being heard without consequences) fails them. See the reasoning is this:
If you’re right wing (which for the left is defined as anyone outside of the narrow band from Lenin to Stalin) you support the status quo. You are a good boy/girl who has never questioned anything he/she was taught, and therefore you are not a creative person/someone who takes risks.
I’m not even sure that was ever true, as the status quo can be questioned from well outside the authoritarian left. BUT even if it were ever true, it’s not so in the most recent 50 years (my lifetime.)
In that time, as detailed above, the heights of culture have been commandeered by the left. “Everybody knows” is leftist. Leftism is a positional good, to which all the rich flock, so they can think of themselves as good and smart too. The education is overwhelmingly leftist and more so the further you advance. The good boys and girls or as I used to say in Portugal “the children of good families” are all hard core left (partly because of guilt because their model of the world tells them that they or their ancestors did something wrong to become rich, and partly because that’s the way to keep/stay in power.)
This means if you dissent, they’ll suddenly “realize” you’re not just evil bad, but stupid and not creative. Because to think otherwise would require them to question their whole system.
Also, and more importantly, advancement in the arts can be had for the price of spouting “impeccable” leftist opinions, whatever those are at the moment (like most top down systems, they change at the whim of those on top). Life on the easiest setting, you could call it. This doesn’t mean all leftist authors are horrible (or artists, or film makers) but that if you are a mediocre creator, you can get very far and advance in the hierarchy by being more lefty than thou.
This means enough non-entities have made the upper echelons that they feel threatened by EVEN LEFTISTS with a particle of creativity. Which explains Hollywood. And possibly the mess that most publishing is (though frankly, there’s many other things in there.)
This in turn means that they must hold onto the idea that they are teh most creative! ever! by virtue of their politics, and that giving the other side a voice is crazy talk, because that tribe over there is not creative at all! They’re just saving the public from our drek! Really! (The number of times I heard that in meetings and mailing lists where no one knew what I was is not even funny.)
Which in their minds justifies everything they do keep us out. Starting with character assassination and threats.
The problem with this cycle is what I said above: the fate of skinsuited institutions. When you hire and promote for ANY OTHER REASON THAN COMPETENCE (and that includes the old “because you’re of good families” not just Marxism) you corrode the very foundations of what makes institutions/industries work. You create a venal, non-functioning system which destroys itself.
And we can’t afford that. We just can’t. Not without a few billion deaths.
In many ways civilization, as in, that which has allowed humans an unprecedented level of wealth and security on this planet like nothing our ancestors even could dream of, is threatened.
It is threatened not just because Marxism is uniquely dysfunctional and out of touch with reality, but because it’s become not only the only voice allowed, but THE pathway to power and recognition.
Whenever an opinion or in this case a system of opinions becomes dominant enough to present a non-meritocratic path to power, society will die. This was true of the Catholic Church when Europe was a de-facto theocracy. It’s true of the Muslim countries, stagnant for 700 years. And it’s true of socialist dominance in Europe.
I don’t remember the Heinlein quote, so I’ll paraphrase: I’ve never yet heard an opinion or an idea so dangerous that it must be suppressed.
I’ve heard revolting ideas, sure. One of them being that everything we do is predestined, or that humans are fungible, and should think like their various groups. Another being that you need to be controlled for your own good. Or that your skin color dictates what and who you are.
All of those are revolting and vaguely insane (i.e. at variance with reality.) Or sometimes not “vaguely” but “out there” insane.
That doesn’t mean they should be forbidden or that expressing them should be suppressed or demonized. Sometimes what the crazy person proffers as a solution is not just wrong, but nauseatingly wrong. BUT what they’re SEEING has validity. They just misdiagnose the problem.
Which means more discussion is needed, not less. More study of history is needed, not less. More introspection is needed, not less.
Some of my opinions (a lot of them, if you consider I started as an European which means a species of socialist) have undergone marked changes. Some of them in recent years.
I’ve come to the conclusion, for instance, that open borders and free movement of people on a global scale, with no national checks, is insane, PARTICULARLY for a country of laws. Because culture has real heft and is not quickly changed (in the individual it’s painful to change. In the group it takes generations) opening your borders to all comers means dissolution. Turns out most humans don’t really believe in laws, or at least not in laws that apply to them.
And on drug legalization? Still for, for philosophical reasons, but I think in the long run, in a socialist/welfare system which denies opportunities to young people legalization is just a way of distributing Soma. It’s a way of keeping the population anesthetized so they don’t rebel. (Who knew? Turns out opium is the opium of the people.) Meaning I think we need to legalize drugs to stop oppression and stop oppression to legalize drugs. You could say I’m evolving on the subject. (Which mostly means I get shouty if prodded. Because it’s not done baking.) Again, I still think legalization is needed to defang government. I also acknowledge given our current society not only isn’t it a magical panacea, but it has serious problems.
I changed my mind on open borders not by refusing to talk to people, but by reading a ton of history and having a ton of arguments with both history and friends.
Is my opinion now better? Well, it’s more congruent with reality. Meaning it explains a lot of things better.
Part of the reason we’re in this trouble, is that the left has managed to push anyone who has doubts about their credal system into the closet. And that coming out of the closet gets you labeled as a lot of things you SURELY aren’t (Well, some people are. The problem there, though, is that we now tend to assume they aren’t, because this is used so much. Ask me how I found that out) like racist, sexist, homophobic and whatever the latest denunciation is, up to saying libertarians want rule by the strongest. (Which indeed DOES correlate really well with wanting the governments—the most powerful bodies of rule in our world—made small and powerless, retaining only enough power to administer equality before the law. It makes perfect sense, if you turn it around and shake it like a snow globe. Or wear your pants on your head and sing to Cthulhu. Or something.)
And it’s not just being called things, and suddenly assumed to be stupid (and the smarter you are, the more they tell everyone how stupid you are. See mediocrities and feeling threatened.)
The left knows its house of non-meritocratic cards, its system of privilege and despotism, cannot withstand challenges.
So they will try to erase you. Particularly if you’re a creator. They will try to vilify you so much that people are afraid to crack open one of your books, even if it has bloody nothing to do with politics (see the reviews of my shifter series complaining about my politics.) They’re afraid to look at your drawings. They’re scared of watching your movies. They’re afraid some invisible contagion will reach out and make you a leper like them, that other tribe, those evil weirdos.
The left will also, as we’ve seen in recent years, attempt to make you unemployable, and threaten your family and loved ones. Even if your job isn’t in one of their “fields.” Even if you’re just a Catholic school student, in fact.
I get all this as reason for not coming out of the closet. I even get it as reason for singing in the chorus of lefty eructations and never questioning it.
I once wanted to tell stories and have them read SO MUCH that I came close to selling my soul for it.
But in the end, you can’t tell stories if you’re lying to everyone, including largely yourself. Not the stories you should tell. Instead, you tell maimed/hampered things, like birds with their wings cut off.
And civilization can’t save itself if it’s lying to itself about the causes of problems, its own past, and… well, everything, really, in order to stay congruent with “the one true philosophy.”
Whatever that philosophy is.
Recently family and friends have told me to stop slaying dragons and go back to writing fiction, because the dragon slaying is killing me. It’s making me bleed out, in non-physical ways.
And sure, as a friend whose opinion I respect told me “Your blog is not going to markedly change the course of the country or the world.”
He’s not wrong. I can’t do this alone. I also appreciate his idea that I can do more through fiction. He’s also not wrong. Except it takes time. And I’m not sure we have time. We are skating on the rim of hell. It’s going to take a miracle, as is.
No, I can’t do it alone.
Yes, all I EVER wanted to do was write my stories. And I want—need—to do more of that.
Yes, I DO realize all of you out there have really important reasons why you stay quiet. THE most important reasons. Jobs, family, children, vocations. Food on the table and roof over your heads. The thing that is more important than life itself for you. Whatever that is.
I’m not making fun of it. I GET those reasons. I even get, trust me, the desire to do something and be recognized for something SO MUCH that you can’t let even deep conviction get in its way.
All I’m saying is that it’s later than you think. Judging from the insanity stalking abroad, with a scythe in its hand (and a hammer in the other) and pants on its skeletal head, it’s probably later than I think.
This little light of yours, you’ve got to let it shine. Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Oh, yeah, they can hit you, and make your life hell. (Although, after a while, honestly, the whisper campaigns against you are so ridiculous that you have to laugh. They bear no relation to reality.)
BUT there is life, here, on the other side of blacklisting yourself.
Right now, perhaps for a brief period, there are ways to get around their control. Indie is one, of course. But there are others, for other professions.
Doesn’t mean it won’t hurt you like living hell or curtail your prospects. I wouldn’t lie to you. It will.
Perhaps there are things worth the sacrifice, the civilization we leave our grand kids being one of them.
Consider, consider very hard whether its time to walk out of the closet, carrying your light, and bringing it into the world. Consider if the price is worth it.
Lest darkness fall.
Be not afraid.
Reprinted from According to Hoyt for July 25, 2019
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