On History and Being Doomed to Repeat It

Avatar

Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

Related Post Roulette

36 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Heh…well said. Something reasonably on point:
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/call-out-karen-but-dont-forget-about-kevin-they-chose-trump-twice/ar-BB1b3KMe?ocid=msedgntp

    Best comment I read on this article was ” I’ve seen where that road goes and it ends in Rwanda.” And he’s 100% correct. If people say it often enough, maybe folks will wake up.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      A smaller percentage of white men voted for Trump in 2020 than voted for him in 2016 but, sure, keep telling us how the whole thing is white men’s fault.

      “I’ve seen where that road goes and it ends in Rwanda.”

      An interesting comment to pick out, considering that Trump’s percentage of the black vote was higher in 2020 than in 2016.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Perhaps you missed the point. “Yes, white people as a whole need to do better.”, i.e. vote Democrat, get on board with “our side”.

        “Are we not capable of holding two groups accountable at the same time, while also being clear about which is the primary offender?” Offender…..as in criminal. So being a white guy is bad enough, but voting for Trump is a crime. That’s a few steps closer to, to use a phrase from Hotel Rwanda “They are cockroaches. They are murderers…. We will squash this infestation.” The author is totally cool with “consequences for those who voted for Trump”. How long until there is an open call for Trump voters to be exterminated?Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        We take exit polls way too seriously, even in normal years. We don’t even have a tally of vote totals yet, and we’re claiming we know the voting patterns by racial breakdown? And how are the exit polls done this year, anyway – they’re either missing everyone who sent in ballots, or they’re trusting people to self-identify as voters on surveys. And again, again, again: they’re surveys. How many mistakes have people made this year trusting surveys, polls, and projections. I want to see the survey data, the actual questions, compare the methodologies, before I accept that Trump went from 3% to 4% of the black female vote, or whatever.Report

  2. Avatar gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve studied history most of my adult life, and I’m still not at all confident about what lessons I can draw from it. I’ve heard of Santayana’s aphorism, but I haven’t figured out what it means. Maybe it would help if I read it in the context of wherever he said it. I’ve come around to thinking that maybe the best lesson we can take from studying history is humility. But like Socrates’ know-nothing’ism, it’s deceptively easy to claim one has the humility and yet slide back into assertions of True Knowledge.

    I think I agree with what you’re saying. Or to put it another way, I agree with what I think you might be saying. At any rate, I do agree with this:

    it is possible for something evil to come in the guise of something you trust, like, admire, even love. It is possible for a voice you think you recognize to be saying something terrible.

    I do think, though, that while that way of looking at it is not a universal, it does cut both ways, or all ways. It’s quite possible the notions of freedom and self-protection for which you advocate may also be saying something terrible.

    To expand, I’ll gently quibble with one point. That’s where you say that small-government conservatives don’t have a fascist bone in their bodies. I dissent because I think most of us, maybe all of us, have at least some tendency toward fascism.

    I realize that the audience for your OP, which I take to be the commentariat here at Ordinary Times,* leans, like me, largely liberal or left, and they/we need to hear the message you’re giving. I also realize that on your own blog, you often raise difficult issues that you believe people on your side of the aisle need to take account.

    So given all that, I offer a qualified affirmation of what I think you’re arguing.

    *I have no informed knowledge of the actual readership of OT, so I’m restricting myself to those, like me, who comment and make their views known.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      To clarify, Kristen: you and I see many things differently, and we are on opposing sides in the current, short term Big Controversy Of The Day. That said, there is a lot of room for agreement, and I really don’t intend to disparage the perspective you bring to these discussions.Report

    • Avatar KenB in reply to gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      Maybe it would help if I read it in the context of wherever he said it.

      I actually came across a mention of this not too long ago. Apparently the original context isn’t much like how we use the phrase these days — it’s more about the progression & growth of individuals and societies, not an admonition about reading the history books.

      Oh, here’s the snippet that contains the phrase.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to KenB
        Ignored
        says:

        Before I clicked the link, I thought of a common learning process predicated on experience. Seeing the quote, he refers to it pretty directly.

        Humans learn well by doing. Trial and error, cause and effect, experimentation… these all require learning from history, the past, what has been done.

        Watch a toddler with the box toy where they try to jam the square peg through the round hole. Over and over. Maybe they eventually find the square hole. But odds are at some point they try the round one again. Unless or until they can retain the knowledge gained by experience, they will repeat the process of discovering that knowledge… and may not always actually find it.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to KenB
        Ignored
        says:

        Apparently the original context isn’t much like how we use the phrase these days

        That’s probably true of almost every well-known aphorism. Thanks for sending the link!Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    The link from the past to the present people need to draw is that the abuses of power we strive to avoid are not the cruel whims of the power mad who have been placed above us by greater powers. They are the people we choose, wielding the powers we grant.

    When I get on my Free Speech Absolutist Soapbox, it isn’t because I see some government agent abusing somebody’s free speech, it’s because I see a cohort, or a demographic, or perhaps a generation who have so devalued free speech that I fear when they ascend to political power, they will dismantle free speech and give power to those who would punish it. And as the body politic, that is, of course, their right & ultimate power, but I would try to convince them to learn the value of free speech for all, even when it sucks for some.Report

    • Avatar Phiilip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      When I get on my Free Speech Absolutist Soapbox, it isn’t because I see some government agent abusing somebody’s free speech, it’s because I see a cohort, or a demographic, or perhaps a generation who have so devalued free speech that I fear when they ascend to political power, they will dismantle free speech and give power to those who would punish it.

      I don’t see anyone devaluing free speech. I see a lot of people not engaging in the VERY ONLINE battle over free speech. I see a lot of people saying what they want and sitting back expecting not to be held accountable for the content of their speech. But no one is devaluing it. Not even Facebook.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Phiilip H
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s the rub, how do you define “being held accountable”?

        1) Having others engage you with more speech that pushes back on what you said?
        2) Having others encourage a degree of social opprobrium because what you said showed your ass?
        3) Having others contact the platform you are using and demand they ban you from the platform?
        4) Having others dox you and post your personal information online with encouragements to attack you more directly?
        5) Having others contact your employer/school/church/orgs you volunteer with/etc. and demand they cut ties with you or take other punitive action?
        6) Having others demand the government take action against you?

        Personally, 1 & 2 are fine.

        3 is legal, but problematic because it is attempting to leverage authority to try and silence others. Yes, it’s a private authority, so on the whole, it’s fine. But it’s also exposing the desire to silence others by having authority take action on your behalf. Once a person is comfortable with this, I worry that rationalizing everything else down the list becomes easy. It tells me that you just want to silence another and your commitment to free speech is non-existent.

        So I reserve 3 for people who are either truly being horrible (attacking others*, instead of arguments; engaging in blatant falsehoods; encouraging bad behavior*; etc.).

        *Doing or encouraging others to do items 4+ is bad behavior. Even SJWs can be complete shite-lords.

        A note about 5) & 6) There is a difference in demanding an org take action, and simply making said org aware of something a person said publicly. If I am a hard core communist and I make inflammatory public statements against global corporations, but I work for one of those global corporations, it’s fair game to politely make my employer aware of my public statements. Maybe they take action against me, maybe not. Similarly with notifying government. Public statements I make that may allude to a crime I have committed are fair game. But demanding they take action against a person for holding a position you simply disagree with, or else, is trying to leverage authority to silence an opponent, even if the org/gov ignores you.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      I tend to remember stuff like Citizens United. (In practice, I mean.)Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve pretty much abandoned “we shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.

    I’ve evolved to “can you describe what went wrong last time you tried something vaguely adjacent to this?”Report

  5. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    People who do great evil , at least to us, see themselves as the good guys. Dictators and authoritarian govs always come in with great words about what they will do. (insert your favorite right or left wing ideas here). That’s one reason dictators often have significant support in the population. In fact any good idea or concept can be twisted or worked in way to lead to bad or evil results.

    As a liberal type (insert scary music here) i’ve long grown tired of the word fascism. It’s, like many words/phrases thrown around now, almost meaningless. We would be better off throwing around fewer accusations and insults and suggestions of great evil among the people we disagree with. If you dont’ like people yelling fascism then accusing others of being crypto evil something in the guise of tolerance etc isn’t actually much different.Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    This essay is a good example of how we live in different realities.

    Kristin is giving an alarmed account of rising fascism and oppression, which in her eyes is obvious and self evident.

    So obvious and self evident that there is no need to even offer examples.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      All you have to do is pay attention and have an open mind.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        The problem is a lot of what some people see as rising fascism others see as accountability.

        Take free speech – You may have the inherent legal right to yell fire in the movie theatre, but you are not therefore freed from the consequences of the stampede. Similarly when you keyboard warrior a call to arms over some slight grievance (like wearing a mask or staying home so more Americans don’t die) you aren’t free form the social consequences of that warrior-ness. We have way more free speech now then we ever did – we also have way ore social consequences then we ever did for the content of that speech. I see that as a benefit to society – Kristen sees it as creeping fascism.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          Well for some contents of speech. When you threaten a person’s life from behind your shield of internet anonymity (which is sadly behavior that comes from both the left- and right-wing keyboard warriors) and frighten them out of their home you usually get off Scott free. Likewise, to jab my own cohort, when one starts a twitter riot over a museum or art display one usually suffers no negative consequences. Likewise, if you get someone fired for an innocuous hand gesture or launch a twitter pogrom over a young adult novelist or a prom dress you probably not only don’t suffer negative consequences- you get enhanced stature.

          I mean, granted, if twitter had existed in the 80’s or 70’s the internet mobs would have probably been destroying gays, trans people, associated businesses, artists and the like. Likewise Kristin says not a word about the loooooong history of the name calling and vitriol that the right wingers have hurled at the left (Marxist, Communist and Socialist are easily as overused as Facist, if not more). But I don’t really feel at ease just because this new weapon is being used ostensibly on the behalf of those people. Kids rebel and the worm turns but I don’t think social media will vanish. Hopefully if this shit triggers a social revanchist reaction business and society will have hopefully evolved enough to ignore social media by then. But wouldn’t it be great if we could try and temper the overreach and give the future generations something else to rebel against instead of some kind of woke orthodoxy?Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          I assumed she was talking about the riots in the streets. So I guess it does count as a weakness in this article that she didn’t spell out what she meant. Otherwise, I thought the article was very good.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          “The problem is a lot of what some people see as rising fascism others see as accountability.”

          Always true.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          See my comment to you elsewhere.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    This essay is also a good example of the phenomenon I pointed to a while back about how the contemporary conservative movement is entirely concerned with identity politics and culture grievance, rather than any actual issues of governance.

    Consider this: For the past 4 years, conservatives have held the Presidency and executive branch, the Senate, a majority of the Supreme court and appellate courts, and a majority of state governments.

    And yet, this essay is written from the standpoint of a besieged minority, one that fears for its safety and freedoms.

    How is this possible? How can a group control the majority of government and still be terrified of oppression?

    Because (IMO) what they want and what they fear has nothing to do with government at all.

    What conservatives have spent years complaining about, even on these very pages, is that they have lost the culture war, and are terrified of being marginalized and made social outcasts.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Perhaps because we’re living in fear of being doxxed, are being deplatformed (we’re all in Twitter and Facebook jail), and are afraid of being attacked on the street or at home by mobs of violent leftists, while Democrat politicians loudly say we’ll have to give up our cars, give up our health insurance, pay vastly more for energy, give our jobs to Guatemalans, and be forced to atone for our group sins as white oppressors.

      I’m sure in the earlier era we’re discussing, you’d be carping that it’s crazy for Jewish bankers to express fear when they control everything in Germany, money, society, and culture, with their grubby little hands.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    “ Thus we see comparisons of small-government conservatives who haven’t a fascist bone in their bodies, to Nazis, by those who (like Nazis) never met a government program they didn’t like.”

    How dare you call people Nazis?! Well, ya know, except my ideological opponents who are just oh-so-Nazi-ish!Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Comment in mod? Why? No links.Report

  10. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    Great post Kirstin.

    One of the most in-depth history books on the rise of the German party in the 1930’s made a point that it’s three fundamental pillars were faith, hope, and charity. It presented profoundly moving arguments about life and how people should come together to help each other. But deeply embedded in those pitches was the idea that some people were evil and selfish, and whose presence prevented the attainment of true socialist goals that everyone should support.

    There were capitalists and bankers who sought to take advantage of Germany’s weakened state. There were groups who’d stabbed it in the back. There were, in our phrasing, lots of mouth-breathing troglodytes who’d been exploiting the weak and the needed for generations. There were people who’d gamed the system, and socialists who’d made big promises and failed to deliver because the were either weak, corrupt, incompetent, or all three things. That pitch was similar to what you hear from Bernie and AOC about why Obama, with control of both houses, didn’t deliver free-college and free universal healthcare, as they were undermined by Democrats who were in bed with the evil insurance industry, etc.

    Once they took power, they focused on providing universal health insurance, generous and efficient welfare, and objective, verified news – by undermining any competition in those areas. Opposition or neutral newspapers were deplatformed and shutdown. Competing charities, such as Catholic charities, were either forced to become arms of the state, turning over all their donations to the state for redistribution, or simply destroyed. Businesses were forced to either cooperate with the state, or they were taken over by the state, because the state was run by true believers who knew what was best for all of society, and who were grounded in Faith, Hope, and Charity.

    The whole attitude was “We’re the good guys. Anybody who doesn’t agree with everything we stand for is evil, and should be silenced, shut down, re-awakened, or kicked out.” They didn’t leave any breathing room for anyone to voice doubts about the group’s rightness, discarded long-established legal safeguards as obsolete and rigged for the elites, and got all the big companies on board with the program. It was morally-driven group-think, writ large and given absolute power.

    Much of what the party did that won’t form a repeatable pattern was due to the peculiarities of their particular peeves and obsessions, weird excuses they made up for why this or that country must be conquered and occupied, or why this or that social policy must be suddenly enforced. Those actions are much like seeing what a Twitter outrage mob is focused on this week, as opposed to last week, because group-think flits around like a flock of starlings as the group tries to gauge what’s trending, and it’s usually whatever the media tells them is trending.

    The main thing they were good at producing was self-justifications for all the crazy things they were doing, and those usually boiled down to “We must fight the evil people by any means necessary! Everything is at stake!”

    It has happened before, it will happen again, and it is happening now.Report

  11. Avatar Brent F
    Ignored
    says:

    This line of argument didn’t impress me any more when Jonah Goldberg wrote a book on it.

    Online Americans like to hyperventilate about their political opposition being totalitarians. I guess this raises the stakes for you when you’re actually dealing with a battle between warmed over Blairism and Berlusconi 2.0Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *