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Ratchetting Up the Emo

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First, let’s start with Robert’s comment that the Ratchetts of this world are just the hippies’ enforcers.

The Ratchetts are never anybody’s enforcers but their own.  Their interest is in personal, immediate and individual power.  They’ll use the language of hippies if that will get them where they want to go, or the language of Hitler if that will.   They really don’t care about anything but their ability to control everything and everybody around them, with “control” defined as something much deepr than a simple ability to order people about.  They don’t want you to do what they tell you to do.   They want you to believe, to the very core of yourself, that what they tell you to do is the only morally acceptable option, and that you are bad to the core because you resist them.

The hippies have a problem with the Ratchetts because the hippies have such a thoroughly a randically social constructionist view of the world that they have little or no defenses against the Ratchetts.

Even when hippie instincts rebel against Ratchett methods–and they often do–there’s no way most hippies can promote those instincts against any methods at all.   Add to this the fact that Ratchetts are always good at speaking the language of their enablers, and lots of hippies will decide that their qualms are illegitimate, a vestiage of those parts of themselves that remain unenlightened, and you’ve got a prescription for some very bad stuff.

But it’s not only the hippies who react this way to the Ratchetts. Almost everybody does, and Ratchetts arise in every political and social movement, and in absolutely all medical ones.  Ratchetts absolutely love medical movements, because they provide the perfect platform for Ratchett grabs for power–“it’s for your own good” gets to become “the SCIENCE says that X is bad for you, so no rational person could make that choice, so if you’re making that choice, you’re not rational, and if you’re not rational, you can’t really make a choice.”

This is the language of high school anti-drug and alcohol programs far more than of college speech codes, and Ratchett methods will always work best in areas where they can point to something objective (the  SCIENCE says) to back up their bids for power.   In political movements, Ratchetts thrive by turning political questions into  moral ones, unless they really hit the jackpot and find that they can medicalize what is really a non-medical social issue.  \

For that, you have to look at things like the calls in some circles to require home visits of social workers in the first two weeks of every newborn’s life–just to make sure there isn’t any child abuse or neglect going on in the home.  Or, better yet, the people who try to declare that raising a child in a religion is “child abuse” and should be prohibited.

As for the champions of Napoleon in England–we’ve really got to keep intellectual history straighter than this.   They were the “children of Rousseau” in some respects, yes, but they were mostly the children of Goethe. 

The Romantic backlash against the Enlightenment had some hippie-egalitarian elements, such as a reverence for nature and emotion over science and reason, but what it mostly had was a commitment to the Idea of the Genius, the man so much greater, nobler, and finer than the ordinary men around him that he broke every rule and embodied the very spirit of the age.

This is not The Social Contract talking.  This is The Sorrows of Young Werther.  If Hegel represented the apotheosis of history, Goethe proposed the secular Christ, and it was as the secular Christ that the Romantic revered Napoleon (until he lost, therefore proving that he wasn’t really the secular Christ at all), and all the other figures they revered over the years.  Thre were several dozen over the years, and most of them–like Beethoven–were neither military nor poltical.

All this does bring up an interesting question, though–whether or not modern cults of adoration of people like Castro and Che (and even  Stalin, once) are offshoots of this same Romantic quest for the second coming.  That explanation would make a lot more sense than most of the ones I’ve heard. 

But none of this really gets me where I need it to go, which is to some explanation as to why this specific cluster of attitudes–the ones I outlined a couple of posts ago–should go along with the fact of picking up on one real moral necessity or another before and in a greater percentage than those of people with other clusters.

Somebody–Cathy?–suggested that this might be just that these people are “bellwethers,” but I don’t see any “just” about it.  I think that exactly what they are is bellwethers. I’d just like to know why.

But in the meantime I’m reading my first book by Yvor Winters, and maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Written by janeh

July 14th, 2009 at 7:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Ratchetting Up the Emo'

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  1. Most “psychics” are right on their predictions one time in five or ten. I’d say if you hold ten political or social propositions, it’s not too surprising that one or two of them are later adopted by a wider society. The trick is to shovel dirt over all the failures VERY quickly. (Care to measure the “bellwethers'” progress on communitarianism and vegetarianism?)

    To clarify, though: I meant the Ratchetts IN THE UNIVERSITY are enforcers for the children of Rousseau. They’re most but not all of those who look out for the interests of the organization, not the purpose of the organization–the endowment, the fancy buildings and the power over the students, not the education or well-being of the students in this example. And of course they want individual power. In that context, they’re Ayn Rand’s “second-handers” to the life.

    But Goethe is secondary. The core bad idea is that you can remake people and society any way you want, and it’s THE fundamental idea of the philosophes. Notice when the kids get called on the body count of their favorite thugs, the answer is always the same–that these tens of thousands or tens of millions of slaughtered innocents are mere broken eggs for the glorious omlette to come.

    There is, of course, a word for believing you and a few close friends can better understand how people should be than they do themselves: that you know better than parents how to raise children, and that you can sit in your study and design an improved–indeed a perfect–society, worth whatever it costs to achieve. It’s a Greek word, but even I know it.


    14 Jul 09 at 4:35 pm

  2. We’ve had the rather dubious pleasure of the company of a certain Al Gore out here in Oz for the past week, doing what he does best, ie telling lies for fun and profit.

    He and his disciples are the very models of a modern Nurse Ratchett.


    15 Jul 09 at 10:05 am

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