The only way to learn just how much abuse an item will accept is to test it to destruction. Such a test should start gradually, with mild abuse, and escalate by small increments through higher and higher levels of abuse until the thing being tested is a pile of rubble. Any other approach would not yield accurate information about exactly how much battering the thing can absorb without losing form or function.
Built into this procedure is a reality that must not be overlooked: at the conclusion of the test, there will be a pile of useless shards in place of the tested item. It will have only scrap value, if even that. Daimler-Benz’s testers are aware ab initio that when they ram a new Mercedes into a solid wall at highway speed, it won’t be a saleable product afterward. It’s the price of that kind of knowledge.
Societies sometimes undergo destruction tests as well. The willingness of a normally tolerant people to tolerate deviance can only be gauged through a destruction test. Weimar Germany fell in part because its deviates and libertines didn’t know where to stop. The normal German majority saw the Nazis as a path back to pre-World War I norms, although they got something quite different in the sequel.
I’m beginning to think American society is undergoing a test of that sort.
Let’s start with the most obvious symptom: the acceleration of tacitly state-sanctioned violence. The “BLM / AntiFa” riots of the past two years have made it plain that the supposed forces of order in America’s cities will not – and perhaps cannot – act to quell the disorder, pursue the rioters, and bring them to justice. I’ve been expecting the return of Nineteenth Century vigilance committees. Indeed, I’m somewhat surprised that we haven’t seen any yet. They’re the usual public response to inanition and inaction by law enforcement.
The reverse of that anarcho-tyrannical coin, of course, is the use of “law enforcement” to tyrannize the peaceable and law-abiding. We’ve seen this escalating as well:
- The prosecution of Kyle Rittenhouse;
- The maltreatment of the January 6 protestors;
- The pillorying of Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and most recently Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller;
- Merrick Garland’s tasking of the FBI to suppress parental dissent against “critical race theory;”
- The semi-covert use of supposedly private organizations to suppress communications through fora such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Together these and other events have us on an express train to civil war. That war might be “traditional,” conducted with guns, bombs, and flying lead; or it might be Gandhiesque, using only nonviolent resistance to the State to gain its ends. Whichever way it goes, that will be the consequence of further intensification of the above trends. What follows won’t look like the society we’ve known these two centuries past.
Consider now the intensifying, entirely unConstitutional exertions of federal and state power over law-abiding citizens in the name of the “pandemic.” Many recognized rights have been infringed or abridged in the name of “public health.” The Center for Disease Control has postured as a lawmaking body. Several governors, and the “president” himself, have attempted to exert powers that contradict the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.
Americans have wondered how long they must endure such tyrannies in the name of suppressing a disease that’s not even as dangerous as common influenza. Many of us have decided to ignore the ukases and behave as if nothing had changed since 2018…and in the main we’re getting away with it. But if carried too far, the diminution of respect for “legitimate authority” will have consequences well beyond merely flipping off our self-nominated autocrats.
Finally for today, we have the personal-deviance movement. There are many elements to this:
- Drug use;
- Sexual variations;
- Body modification;
- Gender-identity stuff;
- Unusual living situations;
…and other deviations from former American norms. To some extent such variations must be tolerated – but not to disruptive extremes. Consider only as an example what would become of organized employment were employees to claim the “right” to psychedelic-drug use or sexual indulgence on the job. Could such an “office” hold together for any imaginable interval? I doubt it.
But the destruction point might be closer than that. If allowed to become compulsory, the “pronoun craze” could trigger a devastating reaction. I included a passage in Love in the Time of Cinema about exactly such an incident:
“What was the cause?” I murmured.
“You’ll laugh,” she said. “We didn’t do a lot of laughing that evening, though.”
“The country was deep in the grip of the ‘diversity and inclusion’ fad. It started before you were born, and was pretty much a bad memory by the time you were old enough to notice. Noisy minorities were at their noisiest—and since a history of oppression was the legal and social coin of the realm, every one of them claimed to be ‘oppressed.’ The one getting the most attention at the time was ‘trans.’”
I wasn’t sure I’d heard her correctly. “A transportation company?”
She chuckled. “No, biological men who wanted to be women, or to be treated as women. A very few biological women who wanted to be men, or treated as men. They called themselves ‘transwomen’ or ‘transmen.’”
I barked a laugh. I couldn’t help it. I caught hold of it quickly, and forced myself back to seriousness.
She smirked. “You can laugh because you have no idea how bad it was. But there was nothing funny about it. Even though there were only a few thousand of them all together, they were unbelievably successful at bending governments and institutions to their whim. They won privileges that very few people can imagine today.
“Tim’s employer’s Human Resources department was run by a gaggle of vicious women—real ones, not ‘trans’—who’d already succeeded in enacting weird ‘sexual harassment’ rules and rules about how to treat persons of differing sexual orientations. You could get fired for daring to defy the company line…so naturally the company’s vicious women and vindictive homosexuals used the rules like a club to subjugate or flat get rid of anyone they pleased.
“Well, these insane HR harpies needed new worlds to conquer, so they decided to make ‘trans tolerance’ their next campaign. But they didn’t mean ‘show tolerance for the deluded.’ They meant to make differing with a delusional person—calling a ‘trans’ person by his birth name, or referring to him as ‘he’ when he claimed to be a ‘she’—a hangin’ offense.
“They rewrote the personnel policies for the company for the umpteenth time. Corporate management gave in without a fight. The new policies included mandatory ‘sensitivity training’ seminars for the entire company. Until Tim was herded into one, he had no idea what was coming.
“He sat through about twenty minutes of their harangue before he couldn’t take any more of it. He felt someone had to take a stand against the lunacy. And Tim being…well, Tim, he wasn’t going to wait for someone else to do it. So he stood up.
“He told them their nonsense had gone far enough. He said the ‘trans’ types are obviously detached from reality. That they need therapy to help them accept themselves as they are, not reinforcement for their delusions. That we should treat the mentally ill with compassion but that it’s wrong to cooperate in their lunacy. And he said he wouldn’t bow to any rule, from HR or anyone else, that compelled him to think or speak or act otherwise. And he walked out.
“His supervisor fired him immediately after the seminar. He didn’t have anything against Tim. In fact, he agreed with him. He just didn’t want to tangle with HR.”
Such an incident actually cost the career of someone I know. Indeed, the only fictional aspects of the above are the names. If such events became commonplace, the consequences could be dire. The same is true for “diversity” laws and regulations that have the potential to force employers to ignore ability and work ethic in favor of skin color, sexual orientation, or handicaps.
People will tolerate a great deal before they snap, but they will snap. Especially if they’re being told that they must tolerate personal abuse or oppression, the abuse of their loved ones, or the destruction of something they love. And if Americans should snap, the reverberations will circle the globe. As Larry Correia and others have observed, we’ve got two and only two settings: Vote and Shoot everybody. Governments, law enforcers, bureaucrats, and activists should beware. Day by day we move ever closer to throwing that switch.