Rebel Yid on Twitter Rebel Yid on Facebook
Print This Post Print This Post

Political Inactivism

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson is probably one of the most excerpted writers on Rebel Yid.  I was fortunate to meet him lat year at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. He has a creative and unconventional way of viewing the great debates. He gets beyond the left and right platitudes.

The entire link merits your viewing.

From Kevin at National Review, Engineering Better Voters:

It isn’t that voters are not profoundly ignorant, it’s just that making them less ignorant isn’t really going to help much on Election Day, because political preferences are not, in the main, a function of knowledge.

Progressives are a funny bunch in that they do sincerely believe that government should be empowered, almost without limitation, to do the will of the People, who are sovereign, but they imagine that the People speak with one voice, or at least that they should speak with one voice. When the People get froggy and refuse to fall in line behind, say, the Affordable Care Act, which the best experts drew up on behalf of the People, who (so the story goes) gave Barack Obama a mandate to reform health care, then something must be wrong. And we all know what that is: Too much debate and too much political discourse including too many voices, some of which — those of Charles and David Koch, for instance — must be silenced in order for the People to be heard as one voice, the way it was intended. (No, we are not allowed to ask: Intended by Whom?) So we arrive at the strange situation in which the Left desires maximal formal participation in democratic processes but heavy restriction of everything ancillary to those processes, most especially political speech.

The cynic might here observe that what’s really going on may be something entirely different, that progressives want more participation by voters because they assume that those new voters will agree with them, and less participation in political discourse because they believe that those new voices are less likely to support them, while conservatives want fewer voters because they believe the ones remaining will be more conservative, while they do not worry about all the new forms of political persuasion because those have been mainly conservative. And it probably is the case that many among our political professionals are exactly that calculating.

What is actually needed is a set of conditions under which fewer questions are decided by democratic politics, which is, even in its highly refined American form, a pretty blunt instrument. Some questions are inherently political, but most are not. We needed a positive act of the federal government to rally the country in making war on the Nazis, but invading Normandy is a different thing from invading the kindergarten toilets in Grover, N.C. I’m with Henry David Thoreau: “I heartily accept the motto,—‘That government is best which governs least;’ and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”

Which is to say, there’s a time for political activism, but we could do with a bit of political inactivism, too.

Read more at:

Print This Post Print This Post

A Totalitarian Impulse

Why has the left become so intolerant of dissent? The quality and the rationality of any position can be discerned by its tolerance for dissent. In a world of absolute truth there is no safe space, in a world of relative truth there is no room for dissent.- HO

from the Wall Street Journal, Progressivism’s Macroagressions by Michael Warren

Perhaps the fundamental difference between yesterday’s liberals and today’s postmodern progressives is each side’s conception of truth. Liberals believe truth is external and can be determined through reason. A good liberal uses his reason to achieve justice and equality for all. But postmodern progressives are moral relativists. For them, truth is internal, discerned by and specific to particular individuals. Today a good progressive defends the individual’s internal truth—particularly if the person is an “oppressed minority”—against all foes, including reason. Small wonder that the postmodern left has turned on its own.

The competition between individualized truths—“an unending conflict between identity tribes trying to capture the state for their own narrow group interests”—is what Mr. Holmes believes makes postmodern progressivism a cousin of radical libertarianism. But while radical libertarianism tends toward anarchy, postmodern leftism has a totalitarian impulse. The goal of a postmodern progressive isn’t universal truth, which supposedly doesn’t exist, but power, which is presented in the guise of equality and social justice. The left’s quest for power isn’t of the goose-stepping, arsenal-building kind employed by 20th-century dictators, Mr. Holmes takes great pains to insist. But, he allows, progressive liberals are “willing to dip into the totalitarians’ illiberal tool box.”

Print This Post Print This Post

Conclusions and Decisions


We have observed how one can use irrefutable facts to reach the precisely wrong conclusion.  It happens when we assume away real personal biases, emotionally attach to models and narratives, or are blinded by a delusional sense of moral superiority.

But can the opposite be true? Can one use fuzzy ideas, even if filled with rational and emotional bias, to reach correct conclusions or solutions that work remarkably well?

I suppose the answer is yes. The difference is the distinction between rational and rationalization.  Often the first case is an action of rationalization where the irrefutable facts are selected to reach the obvious conclusion which is sometimes wrong.  This is most obvious when we encounter an overwhelming consensus in a problem with a large number of complex variables. Rational can be the opposite of rationalization.

In our obsession with numerical data to support policy decisions, we ignore or obscure fuzzy ideas which are yielding superior results. It may pay to follow a successful solution we do not understand than to insist on a data driven prescription that we delude ourselves to accept as an irrefutable outcome.

Philosophies sometimes form to explain how and why the successful ideas worked after the fact.

In my experience bad decisions have common starting points.  The first is an arbitrary deadline.  In the modern age, business moves at an incredible speed and delays can be deadly.  But not every decision is a life or death decision and this drive to make every decision existential derives from a delusional sense of urgency, often to serve a leader’s fragile ego. In politics ruling parties fear the ever shifting winds of election cycles that will close the window of opportunity to pass important regulations and laws.  It is worth noting how many small problems seem to solve themselves if given the time.

Easily reversible decisions should be made relatively quickly, but irreversible decisions should be well thought out, and can be served from diverse input, or from the single perspective of a true visionary leader.  But such rare perspective usually comes from a period of experience and study that does not necessarily correlate with age.  There is a distinct difference between 10 years of experience and one year of experience repeated ten times.

Fear and greed can incite speed and recklessness.

Another enabler of bad decisions is moral supremacy.  When we think we are on a moral mission we find it easy to dismiss dissenting voices.  Worse, when we demonize an opposition, especially in the light of a recent failure, we often fail to learn the lessons of their failure and stand to repeat them. It is much easier to discredit and criticize as incompetent or evil than to recognize and understand the thought process and views that led to the moment.

Moral supremacy may lead to immoral outcomes. To quote C.S. Lewis,

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

There is evil in the world, and it usually persists until a greater force overwhelms it.  But we excessively demonize others among us that share many of the same values.  Russel Jacoby in Bloodlust, noted this as the narcissism of minor differences.  Examples are the Protestant /Catholic conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Sunni/ Shiite conflicts in the Middle East and the partisan conflicts in this country.

We may be unable to lose the human frailties that affect our conclusions and decisions.  We can only try to overcome them with the virtues we also possess, starting with humility.


Print This Post Print This Post

Rejecting Collective Identity


From The Sultan Knish, The Traditionalist Rebel

The traditionalist rebel is slow to anger. Unlike the social justice warrior and the crybully, he does not derive his sense of self from manufactured conflicts only meant to reinforce a collective identity, but from his own values. His anger is patient, but also more decisive. It is not the fanatical hysteria of the neurotic leftist who, like the Mohammedan suicide bomber sees paradise in the destruction of perceived enemies, but is a cold, hard determination to be free of them.

It is not the leftist Utopian who wants freedom, but the traditionalist rebel who sees his right to speak, to worship, to marry and raise children, to protect his family and his home, and to go through his life without being accountable to anyone but G-d and his conscience every minute of the day, instead of the ears, eyes and tentacles of government, under attack who truly fights for freedom.


Fantastic Post.

Print This Post Print This Post

The Measured and Unmeasured


this is an excerpt from a reader’s comment on the article above:

The Valley’s failure to fulfill its promise seems to be due precisely to this: it lacks, shuns even, any appreciation for that which cannot be measured or valued in quantitative terms. All the qualitative longings of the human soul to reach above and beyond to something spiritual; all that the poets and the mystics have mused about; anything other than status, power, money, image, dominance, and elegant technique; all that belongs to what psychologists like to call the affective domain; all the finer things of human life that distinguish us from both ape and computer; all those ideals like romance, compassion, love, kindness, graciousness, beauty, human rights, and the simple affectations of the smell of a rose or nostalgia for the past; all this and much more the Valley has left unattended in its single-minded obsession with and ruthless pursuit of the refinement of technique. For in the Valley, higher technology automatically means more progress. Every human challenge is to be viewed as some kind of technical brainteaser that can ultimately find a technological solution—and it better make somebody filthy rich, and make it snappy, too!


“everything that can be measured is not worth measuring and everything that is worth measuring can not be measured.”