I’ve made no secret elsewhere – but so far not on this blog – of what I take to be the driver of both our moral dispositions and our political arrangements. It is, as Thomas Hobbes argued, the wherewithal to improve each other’s condition and the wherewithal to worsen it. So by ‘justice’, on our view, is meant nothing more than the current equilibrium between whatever cooperative dividends we can offer each other, and whatever injuries we can credibly threaten to inflict.
When, as either individuals or collectives, we haven’t come to blows for some time, we tend to forget that the latter is always there, simmering in the background. But if this be doubted, ask what ultimately backs up the bobby’s demand that you “Move along now!” And, on pain of insurrection, what ultimately backs up the demand that he withdraw that demand. Insurgency is almost never necessary because the threat of it renders it unnecessary.
Now then, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a growing religious movement afoot here in the West. Call it what you will, cancel culture, wokeism … John McWhorter is calling it the Elect. Not unlike Christianity or Marxism or Nazism at their inceptions, the Elect is powerless in the face of its victims’ refusal to give it uptake. But, not unlike its predecessors, it’s very rapidly putting guns on its hip.
People carrying guns eventually face other people carrying guns. We’d prefer not to see it come to that. One way to see it doesn’t is to put the Elect on notice. And one way to do that – not to put too fine a point on it – is to just shoot a couple of the fuckers!
Why? Because there’s an important asymmetry to be exploited here. Occasionally someone knowingly puts her life on the line for the right to speak her mind. But no one ever knowingly puts her life on the line to prevent someone else from speaking her mind. So here’s what I predict:
In the current culture war, the time is rapidly approaching when someone who’s been cancelled is going to ‘cancel’ the canceler. Call it, if you will, preemptive insurgency. And then the next would-be canceler, notwithstanding his heartfelt commitment to his orthodoxy, will probably let discretion prove the better part of valour. That’s how things ultimately correct themselves when people, too arrogant for their own good, don’t anticipate that that’s how things ultimately correct themselves.