Monday, 19 August 2013

Clarification: it is not about good versus evil people - it is about which side you are on


There is a very common misconception which amounts to a straw man argument - and it goes along the lines that 'just because' a person does something bad, something evil - 'that does not make X an evil person'.

Or, 'I know somebody who does/ has done [that Christianly-prohibited thing], but I also know that X is a good person'.

All of this is true. But so what?


People who use these arguments apparently suppose that all this kind of stuff on the mismatch of objectively wicked acts and 'good people' means that evil things are not really evil, or that evil things don't really matter after all and the only thing that matters is whether or not you are a good/nice/kind/ friendly person...


The absurdity of this argument is concealed when it is being used to analyze some previously sinful act which is currently being normalized, such as easy-terms divorce, promiscuous sex, immodest dress or tattooing; but its absurdity comes out when the same argument is applied to things like armed robbery, rape and murder - it is also true (but so what?) that not all burglars are 'evil people' and an armed robber might indeed be 'a good person' - but that doesn't make rape and murder okay, does it?


We are all of us mixtures of good and evil; so if we are strict, there is no such thing as a good person or an evil person.

(However, there are indeed people whom I trust and mix with, and others I try hard very hard to avoid - so in that sense I do divide the world in twain. That is simply to be competent at living.)

The point is: which side are you on?


We are engaged (like it or not) in war - in the culture war - in a war between those against Christianity and in defence of Christianity.

Numerically, and in terms of power, it is a very one-sided war -  but that means that it is especially important for the weaker side to be able to differentiate allies from foes - since if the weaker side un-intentially makes alliance with its foes, then defeat will be (is being) swift.


There are observable ideological and physical markers which can be decoded to reveal which side you are on.

The value of these markers is in revealing which side you are on in the culture wars.

And these markers provide more valid information on 'which side' than does self-identification.


Self-identification as 'A Christian' is not merely compatible with being on the enemy's side in the culture war - it is statistically-normal for self-identified Christians to be fighting against Christianity: these fifth columnists are among the most dangerous of enemies.

Indeed probably the most dangerous of the fifth columnists are those who sincerely but deludedly suppose themselves to be on the side of the angels (people like nearly all Bishops of the Church of England, for instance; or pro-Marxist monks, nuns and friars).


So how can the enemies of the culture wars be identified?

It is actually very easy - using Litmus Tests (as I like to call them).

The enemy by and large proudly advertise themselves using differentiating markers such as their manner of dress; self-mutilation; self-presentation; by Leftism; by favouring the sexual revolution; by inversion of traditional morality, promotion of ugliness or marring of beauty; by calculated and deniable dishonesty; by bureaucratic language and behaviour... and so on and on - the staples of this blog.

These markers - these self-markers proclaim that such people are (at least to that extent) on the enemy side in the culture war; which is why markers are so very important.


(So, if a person is on the Christian side, yet defends some significantly Christian-subversive aspect of the sexual revolution - then that is a self-identification which represents a potentially exploitable weakness in their commitment; a potential, perhaps even likely, factor which could lead to them turning coat and joining the enemy. In the culture war, such persons need careful watching - and the defense might well be more effective without them!)


We need to learn how to read and interpret these markers of which side you are on in the culture war.

The good news is that this is easy!

The bad news is that the result of reading the markers is to experience an horrific recognition of the vast numbers, wide distribution, and tremendous power of the enemy.   



Anti-Democracy Activist said...

1) As comic book fans have pointed out in discussions of Batman, "good" and "nice" are not the same things. In our Pathos-driven, democratized, mass-media society, these are (intentionally) conflated, so that the worst of sins is to be a big meanie. Thus the obsession with "racism" and "hate", and the general leftist obsession with intention over results. We can never allow ourselves to be so soft as to conflate goodness with niceness ourselves.

2) Good will never win through democracy. The masses - especially the televised masses - too easily confuse goodness with niceness, or even worse, with pleasure. They either do not know the difference between or they willfully mistake the Kingdom of Heaven for Cockaigne. So they vote for Cockaigne - and as long as 51% of them do so, no one can stop them. This will not get better. As Plato noted twenty-five centuries ago, the forces of democracy pull ever towards more degeneracy and more bankruptcy. He also told us how that invariably ends.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ADA - Good versus nice - indeed.

A recent example I used before is Snape in Harry Potter who is on the side of good, but is not-nice.

As for the nice people on the side of evil - there are many millions of examples - that is normal. For example the many nice women who work for the public sector bureaucracies and NGOs and charities that are on the front-line in the destructive war on good and coercive imposition of evil.

But I wanted to clarify that in an ultimate sense there are no 'good people' but only the good side.

Karl said...

When a felon's not engaged in his employment or maturing his felonious little plans, his capacity for innocent enjoyment is just as great as any honest man's. When constabulary duty's to be done, a policeman's lot is not a happy one!

Luqman said...

Can this be diluted into; there are only good and evil acts?

Bruce Charlton said...

@L - "Can this be diluted into; there are only good and evil acts?"

I don't think so, because the goodness or evil of each 'act' depends on the context.

I think it is easier to think in terms of sides - Acts on the side of God, and what God wants - versus acts against God, and against what God values.

The Continental Op said...

E.Michael Jones's "Degenerate Moderns" describes the moderns as the kind of people who find that a standard of goodness (such as from God) clashes with their behavior. What to do? Reaffirm the standard and submit to it, and admit and deal with their own failures? A man on our side would do that. Or change/subvert the standard to conform to their behaviors? A man on the evil side would do that.

Such people say, "good is evil, and evil is good."

That is evil, and woe to them.

The Continental Op said...

As a confession, I have been tempted to try to accommodate other rightists who are not Christians, in some kind of "alliance" to promote our interests and fight the regime.

I am rescued from this temptation not by my strength of will or by great wisdom, but by the rude, obnoxious, and often vicious behavior of many of these people. (There are certainly some generous souls who try to stay in the middle, for the sake of the cause.) I have a visceral reaction to them, a gag reflex, such that I just want to avoid them.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CoOp - "(There are certainly some generous souls who try to stay in the middle, for the sake of the cause.) I have a visceral reaction to them, a gag reflex, such that I just want to avoid them."

Same here. In some ways I'd like to be one of those generous souls, but that would be someone else - with a different calling altogether.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

Luqman: "Can this be diluted into; there are only good and evil acts?"

We spend a lot of time in life waiting for opportunities, or semi-passively absorbing information with an (often unconscious) preference for that which would help us do some sorts of things but not others. Hunting is mostly watchful waiting.

All the time, we have a side, or number of sides, depending on the context. This is the framework that leads to what we are waiting for and what we (perhaps unconsciously) intend to do about it, from where we stand and for whom (or against whom) we intend to act.

tgj said...

The advancing philosophy of life is that belief and intention creates reality. Magical thinking by children who are refusing to grow up.

Google's motto is "Don't be evil." Invented by Google employees. Essentially meaningless. There is only one person who is really good. The rest of us are all more or less evil.

Nike's motto, "Just do it," is an ad agency's slight reworking of the last words of a murderer, executed by firing squad at his own request. But he still has to face the good one, as we all do.

The culture war is vanishing smoke, like the world. What matters is whether an individual chooses to follow God or not. God is on everyone's side, but he will judge everyone according to the things that they individually do, no matter which side they think they are on.

Be evil. Just don't do it. But you will, so repent.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

tgj said... "The culture war is vanishing smoke, like the world. What matters is whether an individual chooses to follow God or not. God is on everyone's side, but he will judge everyone according to the things that they individually do, no matter which side they think they are on."

Not according to common sense or the Bible. God has his holy people, and he fights like a wild ox for his people. Others are not his holy people, and may be smitten with unnatural violence, as in the plagues inflicted on Egypt, where there is no suggestion of individual fault. If you're an Amalekite, God's holy law decrees your slaughter, whether you are man or maid, child or infant.

It's about which side you're on. It always was.

Luqman said...

I believe what is stated in this article to basically be the most important question put to our free will. In a deterministic world, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly where our will alters the course of events or where it is just one event in an inevitable sequence, brought about by circumstance / the will of the Lord.

This question of sides, a question of where your internal compass points to, is the most potent manifestation of free will, in my opinion. It decides the course of your life from the most mundane matters to the most important decisions. This choice, at least, is unambiguously ours, and everyone gets to make it.