Civility: Missing the Point
because the real world is out of sight
Why can’t we all get along? That’s the old refrain, and there’s usually an implication that it’s the other guys that are to blame when they break the code of civility.
That is essentially what Julian Adorney and Angel Eduardo are arguing in “Civility Isn’t Weakness; It’s How We Win.” They cite a study, Hidden Tribes, that reckons 67 percent of Americans belong to an “Exhausted Majority,” that just want us all to get along. Who is the Exhausted Majority — abbreviated to “EM”? Right here:
Progressive Activists — 8%
EM: Traditional Liberals — 11%
EM: Passive Liberals — 15%
EM: Politically Disengaged — 26%
EM: Moderates — 15%
Traditional Conservatives — 19%
Devoted Conservatives — 6%
Yes, Well. That makes things look a bit different. That shows that about 67% of people are more or less content with the welfare state, and the bennies and the EVs they get out of it, so what’s the fuss?
Then there are Progressive Activists, the guys and gals and non-binaries making all the fuss about systemic racism and DEI and climate change. Then there are the Traditional and Devoted Conservatives who are fit to be tied.
Yet, right now, what is happening in America is that the 8%, the Progressive Activists, are remaking America — and a lot of the western world — in their own image and you are an extremist and a conspiracy theorist if you disagree.
And why is that? It is because the Progressive Activists occupy the Commanding Heights of the culture and politics and they get to decide who is a racist, who is QAnon-adjacent, who is an “armed insurrectionist,” who is “far right” and basically beyond the pale, and who gets to speak in public forums at our universities.
And the answer to that is “civility?”
Actually, things may not be as bad as they seem. That’s my judgement after reading a bit about the world below the Commanding Heights of culture and politics.
If we look at 1800, the Commanding Heights were all worked up about keeping France in check and stopping the madness of Jacobinism with a jolly old world war. But meanwhile under the radar, the world was changing with the ramp-up of the Industrial Revolution. It was complete chaos, with technology, social, occupational, and class changes knocking everyone around. Lots of people, like Dickens, represented the whole thing as a scandalous failure of culture and ruling class indifference. But I think it is better to think of the whole process as beyond anyone’s ability to understand and control, let alone ameliorate. And maybe it was a good thing to have the ruling class’s attention diverted by Napoleon’s war. Otherwise who knows what nonsense they would have implemented.
If we look at 1900, the Commanding Heights were all worked up about the Rise of Germany, and the working class and the little kiddies’ education. The obvious solution was to send a whole generation of young men off to die in the trenches of Flanders. But meanwhile, under the radar, was the automobile revolution, the electricity revolution, the airplane revolution, the broadcasting revolution. Maybe it was a good thing that the Great and the Good were all obsessed by the Kaiser’s mustache.
If we look at the present, after 2000, we have the Great and the Good all obsessed with climate change, about which we can probably do nothing, and systemic racism, which is pure pandering to the vote bank of the Commanding Heights. Meanwhile, I expect, the world in changing in all kinds of ways, about which we know little at this point. And it is probably just as well that the Great and the Good are all flying their private jets up to Davos every year to refine their Grand Plan to Save the World. And helps us all, because it diverts their attention from learning about what is really going on in the world, and thus prevents them from stopping it before it’s too late.