When the only true thing either side in an argument ever says is “They are lying,” why take sides?

The public voices of the neo-Marxist Left insist there is no such thing as a conservative intellectual, merely proving that they have neither any idea what either of those words mean, nor the innate inquisitiveness to find out. In other words, by adopting the view that conservatives are by definition anti-intellectual (and hence conservatism merely a euphemism for “oppression of the masses” or “white supremacy,” you see), they identify themselves as ignorant in the deepest sense, as defined by Socrates: lacking not only knowledge itself, but even the awareness that they lack it.

Meanwhile, the leading ranters of the neo-populist Right insist that anyone who calls into question the ultimate good of what they call “capitalism,” or the ultimate necessity of a new, quasi-religious McCarthyism, must be resisted with vitriolic fearmongering and stockpiles of ammunition. Egalitarianism run off the rails is not to be treated as a logical error, and combatted with rational opposition and more effective rhetoric, but rather legislated out of existence, and its duped adherents, rather than being pitied and pleaded with, are to be ridiculed and branded with epithets and catchwords revealing extremes of self-protective ignorance and intolerance.

In sum, the public square has been swarmed, and is now utterly dominated, by the loudest and least rational fringes of the ancient and legitimate political alternatives: freedom vs. equality, aristocracy vs. democracy, individual vs. community, self-determination vs. civil order, private good vs. public duty. Having occupied the space from which they were once largely and properly excluded, having filled that space with the incessant violent noise of their simple-minded invective and carelessly stoked hatred of “the other side,” and having looted all the shops of the mature citizens and revered ancestors whom they have forced out of the agora with their vulgarity, these sub-primitive tribalists have effectively driven thought, decency, and restraint out of the practical political arena altogether. In the process, of course, simply by virtue of becoming the only voices audible, they have gradually infused their boldly asserted irrationality and myopic fear into millions of their semi-innocent victims in the general citizenry, effectively ending any hope of a desperately-needed renewal by drowning out all the alternative voices, past and present, that might have inspired it.

Together, these two factions, with their respective hyperbolic condemnations of “the other side,” are willingly and intentionally snapping the last fibers of civil society and social cohesion, killing the open-minded discourse, good faith, and basic mutual respect necessary to the survival of any sort of functioning community, all in the name of achieving various short-term material goals — internet clicks, corporate profit, political donations, election victories, rule of the universe — at the expense of any concern for the common good, let alone the ultimate good. 

“A pox on both their houses,” you say? But it’s too late for that. They have already infected all of our houses with their viruses, while they, on the other hand, are fully vaccinated with a corporate-manufactured concoction of amoralism, power lust, greed, universal compulsory schooling, and the now-irreversible downward arc of history’s wheel, which provides them highly effective protection against anything we could wish on them. Stated more simply, the mob rules, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps they will finally wipe each other out. Perhaps they will wipe us all out in the process. In any case, it is clear that today the only option left, for those unwilling to continue playing the manifestly futile old “lesser of two evils” game unto death, is conscientious objection, abstention, and the private life of cultivating virtue and self-knowledge, in oneself and any others within one’s immediate reach. That is all one may do now. But in the end, it may also be the best one can ever do.

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