04 January 2009

A note on social control

I wrote this for my livejournal in late October, about something which I read on the LRC blog.

From here

"That’s why it is so imperative that we take action, and take it now. The college is revamping the gen ed program. Maybe it’s time to require a class in diversity. Or maybe we start branding perpetrators with a scarlet letter, like in that Nathaniel Hawthorne book. Except instead of an A for 'adulterer,' as is the case in the novel, we use a B for 'bigot;' or an I for 'intolerant;' or maybe an S, for 'small-minded-prick-that-will-be-left-behind-the-times.'"

It's interesting how adaptable sheep-pen morality is. When more traditional forms no longer cut it, the filthy s--- who sleeps around can be, quite conveniently, replaced with another outgroup for the Respectable members of society (in this case, private liberal-arts college kids) to witchhunt (in this case, nasty Bigoted people.)

The role of "tolerance" in a corporate liberal culture is, essentially, to simultaneously change and limit the number of acceptable behaviors in a given society - "diverse" activities become generally acceptable, and anything done by "diverse" people is included under a broad rubric of being at least potentially defensible, if not fully; simultaneously, genuine forms of dissent, such as refusal to pay taxes or fulfill other government mandated obligations, or any thorough-going objection to the commonly prevailing way of life becomes totally unacceptable. People who choose, for instance, to home school their kids, to break contact with society at large, or to do any number of other things, which, under less "tolerant:" systems, would have been mere personal eccentricities, now become (or rather, are now recognized to be) vital threats which could, potentially, strike at the heart of the ruling order.

"Tolerance," then, is a means by which tyranny, or at least social control, is focused - behaviors irrelevant to the State and its attendant institutions (such as alternate sexual expression, moderate drug use, other odd cultural choices) are ignored so that greater resources can be concentrated on those who pose a greater threat (peace activists, secessionists, drop-outs, "gun nuts", people who "think different.)

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