swing vote

Once, someone asked me if the state I lived in was a “swing state”, then said that people who live in those states are lucky, because only their votes count.  The sentiment seems to be common, but as usual my instincts are different.  In a non-swing state, most people get the outcome (or, at least, the electoral votes of their state) that they want.  In a swing state, nearly half the votes are overridden.

Similarly, I can’t understand all the hostility toward retiring Justice Kennedy, all this talk about him being the nation’s real ruler just because his vote is not as predictable as the others’.  I can understand being angry at the man for what one regards as his bad rulings, but one should be angrier at the justices who consistently and predictably give bad rulings.

the herd of independent minds

Steve Lagerfeld writes

Much of what social critics decry as rampant individualism in contemporary America is really rampant crowd behavior. It is herds of people busily declaring that they are not part of the herd.

The contrarian’s great temptation is moral vanity, and what a sweet one it is. I am contrarian by birth and temperament and not a joiner, but when the Satanic Temple made its pariah pitch I knew exactly what they were talking about. For some of us, there is nothing like the joy of being a pariah. There is no better place to be than on the wrong side, scorned, hated, and despised by people about whom you have exactly the same feelings. I’m right and they’re wrong. Their scorn is an intoxicating indicator of my own rightness and moral superiority. The sensation is physical, like what I imagine people get from extreme sports. But it’s a pleasure I strive mightily to deny myself. Over the years, I’ve learned that its costs are high, and that I’m not as smart as I think I am. Even when I’m right, my impulses can lead to bad things. I’ve gone from thinking of my instinctive desire to be a minority of one as a distinguishing trait to thinking of it as something more like Asperger’s syndrome—a disability that can in rare circumstances be an advantage.

One of the virtues of traveling a relatively solo path is that you pay the price directly for what you do. Crowds are shielded from the hard lessons of the contrarian way. They combine the frisson of being an outlaw with the comforts of belonging. The more contrarian they are, the more belonging they offer—and the more belonging they offer, the more conformity they demand. Psychologists Matthew Hornsey and Jolanda Jetten write that “there is a perverse tendency for groups that define themselves most aggressively against the mainstream to be characterized by the highest levels of intragroup conformity.”3 That doesn’t leave a lot of room for introspection.

More non-conformism

Jonathan Ree writes

Back in the 1970s, Raymond Geuss was a young colleague of Richard Rorty in the mighty philosophy department at Princeton. In some ways they were very different: Rorty was a middle-class New Yorker with a talent for reckless generalization, whereas Geuss was a fastidious scholar-poet from working-class Pennsylvania. But they shared a commitment to left-wing politics, and both of them dissented from the mainstream view of philosophy as a unified discipline advancing majestically towards absolute knowledge. For a while, Rorty and Geuss could bond as the bad boys of Princeton.

Out of his twelve philosophers, Geuss seems closest to Lucretius, who despised religion…In the wake of Lucretius, Hobbes, Hegel and Niet­zsche, philosophy seems to be essentially a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by moralistic sentimentality.

Good thing these Leftists have escaped from the bewitchment of moralistic sentimentality.


I am saddened to hear that the Laura Ingalls Winder award is being renamed.  My wife and I read Little House in the Big Woods to our girls a while ago, and it is a wonderful book.  I didn’t like Little House on the Prairie as much and actually wondered if the author’s memories had been influenced in a PC direction.  If so, it wasn’t enough to save her.  Even so, that the vote was unanimous and in one account followed by a standing ovation is just gratuitously insulting.  I guess we should be grateful they didn’t rename it the Harper Lee award.  Ominously, the librarians promise that this is only a first step, and that they’re looking for other white authors to purge.


You know what cultural power is?  Suppose a cabal of Catholics took over the Miss America board of directors and announced they were abolishing the swimsuit competition because it is immodest.  And suppose everyone just accepted this, with no grumbling about theocracy or the Taliban.

Of course, every bit of this scenario is unimaginable.  But feminists can do this sort of thing with the snap of a finger, and their decisions are irrevocable.  At most, some people will make fun of them, but even that is becoming dangerous.

2 Responses

  1. If you look at it from the outside it appears social changes are just what happens; it’s the rationalizations that differ, such as feminism or theocracy.

  2. I wonder if the Social Justice Warriors are doing us a favor. Before, the great books were like vegetables: adults knew it was good for the kids, but the kids react predictably to being forced to eat their vegetables. Have you ever read the SJW replacement literature? It’s stillborn garbo. Now a student who dares to nose around the stacks will discover not bland vegetables, but forbidden fruit.

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