The Game-Changer That Could Make the Left-Right Fights Meaningless
The past week has been quite busy for political news. Between Gay Marriage and the Confederate Flag, the left and right in the U.S. have been at each other’s throats non-stop. But as I’ve said before, it seems to me that these fights are really based on a kind of tribalism that is becoming less and less accurate each day. Lately, we’ve seen “liberals” like Bill Maher crusading against the growing authoritarian thought control that the collectivist left is pushing. And the collectivist-left media have been slamming Maher right back by saying he’s intolerant, an islamophobe and other crimes against the pseudo-activist Sacred Cows. They want to say he’s not a real liberal.
Meanwhile on the right you have “conservatives” who have welcomed Caitlyn Jenner (who has said she’s a Republican), while others are saying that she’s some kind of symptom of a coming apocalypse (of values, or in the case of some of the more excitable religious types on the right, a literal one). You had Ted Cruz talking about how the Gay Marriage ruling was the ‘worst 24 hours‘ in the nation’s history; while Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated the ruling and accused the politicians who were against it of having no balls.
Meanwhile, more and more young people are failing to fit into the old definitions of who qualifies as right or left, Republican or Democrat. It used to be so easy: it used to be, you could almost tell everything about what someone was for or against if you knew what party they voted for. Now, not so much.
The fact is, I’ve got a lot more in common with Bill Maher than I do with Rick Santorum. And Maher has a lot more in common with, say, Rand Paul than he does with the pro-censorship liberals on his own side who want to ban speakers, books or movies like Gone With the Wind>. It’s just that people are still thinking of themselves as fitting these old models of left or right, even though they have less and less in common with a lot of the other people who say they’re on the same side.
If they didn’t, though, if they realized that those tribes just don’t make sense anymore, they could divide themselves into the only real split that matters: the “No one gets to tell me what to do” side versus the “We should get to tell everyone else what to do” side. Han Solo, or the Stormtroopers.
And the interesting thing that happens if you look at controversies from that point of view is that a whole bunch of the things we’re fighting about get turned on their head. They just don’t make any sense anymore, at least not the way they’re being fought.
Let’s look at the Confederate Flag, for example. Here’s what happened: a sick racist piece of crap went and killed a number of black people in a church for obviously racist reasons. Pretty much everyone agrees on that much. But then after that, we had some people calling for the Confederate flag (which racist-piece-of-crap guy loved) to be taken down from the South Carolina government building. Most people who say they’re liberal supported that, but on the right some did and some didn’t. Then some people went nuts calling for the Confederate flag to be banned EVERYWHERE: from Amazon, from the Apple store, from Civil War computer and strategy games, from the covers of books, from the Dukes of Hazzard, everywhere. Pretty much everyone on the right is against that, but on the left some are for it and some aren’t.
So it’s kind of a mess. But if you look at it from the point of view of the Han Solo/Stormtroopers split, it becomes pretty simple. The Stormtroopers want to be in control of society, they want to get to tell other people what to do. So, whether they admit it or not, they want “Big Government”. The liberal Stormtroopers will just admit it. The conservative Stormtroopers will say they’re not but any time they’re in power they’ll prove they really are. The Han Solos don’t believe anyone should get to infringe on the freedom of the individual. Or to put it simpler: they honestly don’t like Big Government; whether that government is the literal government, or is some group trying to make everyone else do what they say by social pressure.
So in the case of the Confederate Flag: the Left-Stormtroopers, who want to control people, want to use Government to ban the Confederate flag everywhere. The Right-Stormtroopers, who want to control people, want to use Government to keep the Confederate flag in government spaces, because it sends the message they want to send.
But the Han Solos (left or right) don’t want Government forcing the Confederate Flag on individuals AND they don’t want censors telling individuals that they can’t have the Confederate flag. So they’re for taking the flag down from the government buildings, but totally against banning the flag anywhere else.
So all of this is about Government. Government shouldn’t be in the business of telling us we have to honor the Confederate flag (a flag that a lot of individuals have a big problem with, for reasons that are totally understandable). Government also shouldn’t be in the business of telling us we’re not allowed to have the Confederate flag, if we want it. The Han Solos don’t think anyone should get to tell you what to do.
Now look at Gay Marriage. This one’s a bit trickier, because mostly, we’re only being offered the choice between the two Stormtrooper views so far. One side says Government should forbid gay marriage. The other side says the Government should enforce gay marriage.
Both sides are making the same basic assumption: that Government should be in the business of marriage.
But there’s a whole other conversation, a whole other choice, that we’ve mostly not even looked at here: the Han Solo view in all this is Why should Government have anything to do with Marriage at all?
You might say, “But wait a sec, Urbanski: marriage has been a part of society since forever blah blah Bushmen blah blah Aztecs“. Sure, right. But for most of Western history, Government had nothing to do with marriage. Marriage used to be a contract between two individuals (and their families). Basically, it still is. It wasn’t even officially a Christian sacrament until the 16th century! Once religion got its claws on marriage, though, it was only a matter of time until the State did too, not just in the sense of recognizing the marriage contract but in the sense of being in charge of giving people permission to marry.
Why should it be that way, though? Why should a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians, most of whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them, get to decide who should or shouldn’t be married? There wouldn’t be a real “gay marriage controversy” if the Government had nothing to do with marriage: individuals would be free to marry whoever they wanted (within the normal limits of who is defined as capable of entering into a contract). That means that gay couples would be free to marry, and churches would be free to decide who they marry in their church, and no one would be allowed to tell anyone else who they must marry or who they can’t marry. Getting married would be between the people involved, and no one else. You wouldn’t have to approve or disapprove of what other people do with their lives or their love. The government wouldn’t give you special stuff for being married, straight or gay, so it wouldn’t be anyone’s business.
As it is, as an individualist, I’m one of those conservatives that obviously supports gay marriage. I’m glad that people now have that right everywhere in the U.S., but I reject the idea that it was any branch of government’s business to give or deny that right in the first place.
Now, I don’t think we’re going to get there overnight, but I think sooner or later, that conversation about being free from needing government permission for any of this sort of stuff is going to happen. Every year, you have more and more “Han Solos” out there who are getting sick of the Stormtroopers on both sides. They’re asking, more and more often, why we should have to listen to either side telling us how to live. And more and more, people are getting it that a lot of their tribe aren’t really on their side at all. Partly because this kind of libertarian thinking is becoming more popular among young people from both sides of the old political divide, but also because the fact is that the Left-Stormtroopers and the Right-Stormtroopers are hopelessly against each other. Nothing and no one will ever be able to bring them together. But sooner or later, some really smart and really charismatic politician, the next ‘great uniter’, will figure out that you CAN bring together all the people from the old-left and old-right that are more interested in their own rights and freedoms than in getting to tell other people what they can or can’t do.
And when that happens, the whole game will change.
Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.
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