I’ve Never Met an Individual

Python individuals

Conservatives and Libertarians continue to volunteer evidence for my assertion that their empty posing and incoherent ideologies are standing athwart attempts to stop the Left’s destruction of the West.

Exhibit A: Conservative reader Nate Winchester’s comments on the relative effectiveness of appeals to reason and emotion.

There’s two catches. The first, is that if people are only swayed by rhetoric, then at best you don’t have anyone on your side, you just have temporary allies – at least until the opposite side figures out better rhetoric than yours and gets them back, etc etc. It’s like trying to recruit an army of leaves. Dialectic may be harder, but those you convert will be far more loyal and fiercer warriors.

Second, while pop stuff is fine and all, one shouldn’t forget that it’s junk food and lasts like junk food. (i.e. can you name any of the top hit songs from 5-10 years ago?) Artists of both stripes should not scorn each other because they do need each other. You need the gateway art, and the richer, meatier art to sustain the fandom.

My response:

“The first, is that if people are only swayed by rhetoric, then at best you don’t have anyone on your side, you just have temporary allies – at least until the opposite side figures out better rhetoric than yours and gets them back, etc etc.”

Dude, I know for a fact you’ve been paying attention, so it’s baffling that you apparently don’t understand that the situation you just described is EXACTLY the state we’re in and, moreover, the absolute state of human nature.

“Dialectic may be harder, but those you convert will be far more loyal and fiercer warriors.”

It’s not a matter of dialectic being harder. It’s the fact, which should be obvious to anyone without his head firmly jammed up his posterior, that 90% of people cannot understand it.

I spent a significant amount of time and tens of thousands of dollars being trained by Dominican theologians who were sure we could win back the culture through dialectic. How’s that working out?

Meanwhile, “This Is Me” has reached 30 million people, and Frozen has influenced 1.4 billion. 

To reiterate: Just because you think dialectic should trump rhetoric doesn’t mean it does. For crying out loud, you’re on a fiction author’s blog. If you think fiction primarily appeals to the intellect, you’re beyond hopeless.

Author JD Cowan’s response:

Nate, the majority of the people have been taught to feel with their heart and not think with their head. It’s in all their entertainment and has been baked into their thought process. They do not think–they feel. I know because I live among them and was just like that once.

You will never get through them by logic. It has to be emotion. It has to be pop.
If you want to win you have to stop downplaying the importance of emotion. The reason they’re winning is because they understand that to get around the head you go for the heart.

Nate answers:

Did not mean to take so long to reply.

Then someone pretty much wrote what much of my reply would be:http://thedeclination.com/easy-rhetoric-is-easy/

For crying out loud, you’re on a fiction author’s blog. If you think fiction primarily appeals to the intellect, you’re beyond hopeless. -Brian Niemeier

If you think that, you need to reread The Abolition of Man. The rest of a reply is folded together with a reply to JD below.

You will never get through them by logic. It has to be emotion. It has to be pop. -JD Cowan

I agree with that. But you’re still caught in a problem, as eventually there is going to be a conflict between truth and feelings. Then what? If you abandon Truth, then you’re no longer on this side. If you abandon feelings, then you’ve forfeited the match.

If you want to win you have to stop downplaying the importance of emotion. The reason they’re winning is because they understand that to get around the head you go for the heart. -JD Cowan

I actually don’t want to downplay emotion. I want Brian to stop downplaying intellect. We need to have a two front attack. Emotion to take the beachhead, intellect to secure the position. I actually want both divisions of the conservative army to stop sniping at each other and actually work together.

Hasn’t anyone else noticed that the Left uses this all the time? Open with an appeal to emotion, then they follow up with some nice sounding “facts” (properly cooked) to cement the idea. How do you think they even get away with sayings like “reality has a liberal bias”???

I answer:

“Did not mean to take so long to reply.”

No problem.

“If you think that, you need to reread The Abolition of Man.”

No, I don’t. I think that because I am a professional, award-winning, best selling fiction author. I know my business, and my business is to engage my readers’ emotions.

“I actually don’t want to downplay emotion. I want Brian to stop downplaying intellect.”

Says the guy who constantly posts Star Wars memes.

“We need to have a two front attack. Emotion to take the beachhead, intellect to secure the position.”

Yes. But again, logic will never secure more than 10% of the position. You keep ignoring that most people can ONLY be convinced by appeals to their emotions. Your’re effectively saying, “To convince all these Chinamen, we need to establish a beachhead by speaking Chinese. Then we’ll switch to German to secure the position.”

“I actually want both divisions of the conservative army to stop sniping at each other and actually work together.”

Then go tell it to the conservative army. How many times do I have to explain that I am not a Conservative, I have not been a Conservative for at least a decade, and except for a few points on which our objectives align, I am opposed to Conservatism?

“Open with an appeal to emotion, then they follow up with some nice sounding ‘facts’ (properly cooked) to cement the idea.”

1) That’s not what the Left does. They open with quasi-dialectical rationalizations for their emotions, e.g. “We just want those poor oppressed gay couples to receive equal treatment under the law,” which is still mainly an emotional appeal. Then, once they’ve pushed the Overton Window far enough, they drop their rational facade (“Bake the cake, bigot!”)

That’s what you conservatives never figured out. The Left is not interested in reasoned dialogue. They never bother explaining themselves to you because they understand there’s no need. They gave pseudo-dialectical feints when their position was relatively weaker, but their sole driving force has always been blind will to power. They are all offense, and they succeed by putting their opponents on defense. 

Do not try to convince them. Do not try to fix them. Use every legal means at your command to defeat them, especially rhetoric.

“How do you think they even get away with sayings like ‘reality has a liberal bias’???”

If you don’t recognize that “Reality has a liberal bias” is pure rhetoric with zero factual content, it just means you’re rhetorically illiterate. Which explains a lot.

Look, man. When Lefty spouts a “fact” like that–which your scare quotes correctly identify as BS–he’s not attempting a logical argument. The words’ definitions are of no concern to him. Do you still not get that these guys never mean what they say?

For a Lefty, blurting out “Reality has a liberal bias” signals his membership in the Leftist Death Cult to other cultists. It’s a credal statement.

Why do they get away with it? Because Conservatives let them.

While my Conservative readers grapple with the efficacy of rhetoric, the more Libertarian-minded take issue with my critique of individualism.

Let’s hand the proceedings over to author Misha Burnett.

You define both libertarianism and individualism as entirely different things from how I’ve always used those words. So I would have to agree that what you are describing is not workable. 

My political philosophy is based on the sovereignty of the individual, because I don’t see where else it can come from. If one person alone doesn’t have the right to self-governance, then 100 people combined don’t have that right, either, or a thousand or a million. 

That doesn’t mean that people can’t choose to work together. The United States did not cease to be an independent nation when it chose to join with the Allies in World War Two. Nations can enter into trade agreements without ceasing to be sovereign. 

I have control over my own actions and responsibility for them. Nothing you or anyone else can do can change that. If you put a gun to my head, I still have the choice to obey or not, and my actions are still my responsibility. 

What you are calling individualism is what I would call sociopathy. When I choose to cooperate with another individual for our mutual benefit, I don’t stop being myself.

My reply:

“If one person alone doesn’t have the right to self-governance, then 100 people combined don’t have that right, either, or a thousand or a million.”

In the sense of “regulating one’s actions”, self-government isn’t just a right, it’s an obligation.

If by “self-government” you mean “absolute autonomy”, it not only isn’t a right, it does not and cannot exist.

To be human is to live in a society. The preferences and needs of others always place checks on one’s pursuit of one’s own personal preferences. In practice, attempts to square that circle always lead to tyranny. See: the civil rights movement leading to “Bake the cake, bigot!”

Scaling up from the individual to 100, 1000, and a million people only compounds the problem.

The people are not the source of legitimate authority. The social contract was always a fairy tale devised by Enlightenment philosophers telling each other stories about what they imagined man was like in his natural state. Subsequent archaeological and anthropological findings have long since disproved Hobbes, to name just one.

Authentic political authority doesn’t come from the grassroots up. It comes from God down.

Misha’s answer to my reply:

Well, again, whatever you are calling “individualism” is nothing that I’ve ever encountered before, so I can’t say what it might be compatible with. 

“The preferences and needs of others always place checks on one’s pursuit of one’s own personal preferences.” On what basis do you decide which person’s preference takes precedence over another’s? Is it just a matter of numbers? 

I’ve never met “society”. Everyone I’ve ever met has been an individual. 100 men working together can have the physical authority to impose their collective will on one man, but I don’t believe that gives them the moral authority to do so. 

One can be in agreement with one’s fellows and still be wrong.

My response to Misha’s answer:

“…whatever you are calling “individualism” is nothing that I’ve ever encountered before…”

Then you’ve never known what individualism is. I’m just cutting through all the Libertarian obfuscations and looking at the actual word. In English, the suffix -ism appended to a word denotes an ideology that proposes the root term as an absolute. Thus, “Individualism” means “upholding the individual as absolute”.

“On what basis do you decide which person’s preference takes precedence over another’s?”

Exactly my point. That question only poses a paradoxical dilemma to Classical Liberals and their Libertarian cousins. If you accept that freedom, like individuality, is not an absolute, the answer is to prioritize those preferences which are most ordered toward the good.

‘I’ve never met ‘society’.”

Boilerplate Libertarian rhetoric grade: B-

“Everyone I’ve ever met has been an individual.”

CCC 1879-1880: The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.

A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an “heir” and receives certain “talents” that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop. He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good.

The artist is revealed in his art. For stories of heroes fighting to uphold principles from a higher source, read my thrilling Soul Cycle.

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

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