Guilt is the shadow side of virtue. A politician who speaks about the virtues of a nation panders to his audience, and leads them with a golden halter rope to follow his policies. If he says that America is a great nation because it is a nation of immigrants, or a diverse nation or a nation where men can marry each other-- his audience will internalize that lesson and repeat it back. If a foreigner accuses his country of being a bad place, he will reply that this accusation is false because it is actually a great nation where diverse gay immigrants can marry each other.
People are susceptible to building identities out of the compliments that they are given. Tell a man that he is a generous host and he is more likely to invite you, or someone else, over for dinner. That is how philanthropists are made, with dinners, awards and other social rewards for giving money. That is also how philanthropic nations are made. Americans keep giving money to the world and expect that one day an international rubber chicken dinner of some sort will be held in our honor.
Virtue imposes no obligation, except that of living up to that virtue. Guilt, however, imposes the endless obligation of escaping the burden of guilt. As politicians spoke less of virtue and more of guilt, America changed from a nation of shining cities to a nation of slaveowners forever striving to recapture its virtue in the face of the numberless crimes of its past.
The United States of Guilt is no longer benevolent for benevolence's sake. It is benevolent because it has something to prove. When it voted for the historical moment of Barack Hussein Obama, it was trying to escape another history. It was creating new history in order to leave the old history behind.
Did America owe a debt of any sort to the bastard son of a Kenyan diplomat who had as much to do with 19th Century slavery or even 20th Century segregation as he did with the Napoleonic wars? No it didn't. Guilt, however, isn't rational, it's neurotic. It is a coat of fear that someone else puts on you and that you will do anything to take off. It's a voice in your head that says you are a bad person and, even when you don't fully believe that voice, you know that other people do, and you want it to go away.
Above all else, guilt is power. It is a debt that, once accepted from outside, has no natural end. It is a bridle, a bit and finally a cage. It makes slavery so much easier by eliminating resistance from those who no longer believe that they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no room for these things, especially happiness, while wearing the hairshirt of a thousand historic crimes.
Exploiting guilt is much more effective than exploiting virtue. Participating in your own virtue is optional; participating in your own guilt isn't. To be guilty is to be automatically complicit in crimes that have been assigned to your name. It is the essence of being considered "Part of the problem" rather than "Part of the solution." The only hope of redemption lies in bending your back to the whip of the solution or wielding the whip against those who are still reluctant about becoming part of the solution.
The house of guilt is built on taboos. Acts and thoughts which should automatically inspire guilt. If they do not inspire guilt in you, then they will inspire guilt in your neighbors, and, if your neighbors catch you not feeling properly guilty about something in the way that they do, they will deem you a bad person. And that will make them feel virtuous.
The dirty little secret of guilt is that it brings forth such feelings of virtue. Liberals need racism, not only because it is another crisis that vests them with the right to rule as protectors of the oppressed, but also because it reaffirms their virtue.
They need racists the way that they need people who don't recycle, who don't agonize over America's foreign policy, who unironically wear American flags on their t-shirts, who think that violence solves things, who believe that taxes should be lower, who are so privileged that they aren't aware of their privilege, who don't care about the planet or about any of the other things that they we have all been duly designated to care about this decade. It makes them feel good about their own virtues.
The manipulators of guilt strive to create a United States of Guilt, a permanent state of guilt run for their own benefit that works by imposing so much guilt that the guilt-ridden population never notices how their guilt is being spun into gold. Their goal is not to assuage the conditions that bring guilt forth, but to exacerbate them. The worse the conditions become, the greater their power grows. As with all sociopaths, those who exploit guilt for a living are the guiltiest and yet feel the least guilt.
In the United States of Guilt, the social crisis has replaced the Constitution and legislatures, courts and executives casually rewrite that old yellowed document for the sake of the social crisis. The crisis, whether it is the heat death of the planet, racism, obesity or health care must be perpetuated endlessly because it has become the source of political legitimacy and national illegitimacy.
The political legitimacy of the presidents of guilt derives from that national illegitimacy, the heaps of books, articles, documentaries, wall graffiti, pamphlets, sociological texts, scatological poems, speeches and cave paintings that thoroughly and completely prove the past and present day criminality of the nation and the complicity of its people in that criminality.
This Constitution of Guilt, with its hundreds of thousands of pages, its multimedia apparatus and its glorious flag of guilt waving bleakly everywhere, is the true source of political legitimacy for the elite. It has displaced democracy and law with social crisis after social crisis whose very existence shames us all and makes all other forms of government, other than the emergency response to the crisis, irrelevant.
To protest anything that the crisis managers of the United States of Guilt do is to display racism, criminal selfishness, disdain for the planet, a lack of concern for the future heart problems of six year olds drinking soda; along with a legion of other crimes, all of which add up to being a bad member of society. A guiltless sociopath.
The social consensus determines who is and isn't a good person. It says that good people feel a sense of responsibility toward others. Guilt is the emotion of failing to live up to those expectations and responsibilities. When it is universally cultivated, then everyone feels guilty for not living up to their social duties and guilt for not feeling more guilty about it; except those high-achievers totting back organic fair trade groceries in reusable Amnesty International bags on the way to prepare lunches for homeless gay illegal aliens while wearing buttons condemning the occupation of Afghanistan and Gaza, nuclear power, West Virginia, hunting wolves, drilling for oil, driving cars and not being more engaged with the problems of the world.
People will only do so much in the name of virtue, but they will do far more if they are hag-ridden in the name of guilt. People tire of being virtuous, but they are never allowed to tire of being guilty.
And yet virtue is the gateway to guilt. If you allow politicians to spend enough time singing your praises, eventually they will force you to live up to them.
If they praise America as a generous nation, that means they expect to take your money. If they praise it as a tolerant nation, that means you are expected not to put up a fight against any imposition. If it is praised as being willing to meet all challenges, that is a blank check. If it is praised for its willingness to come to terms with the past, that means the guilt is about to be piled on with a wheelbarrow.
Be wary of praise, for it often implies obligation. The easiest way to trap a population in guilt is to praise them to the skies, swell their heads with their own greatness, and then pull out the rug from under them by blasting them for their shortcomings. Make a people think that they are possessed of extraordinary virtues, and it is a matter of child's play to entrap them by showing them that it is not so. As virtue easily becomes guilt, so the dictatorship of virtue becomes a United States of Guilt.
Thank you for writing this. The beauty of this essay is that many of us can recognize, stitched together and made whole, the fragmentary thoughts that have been rattling around in our heads and hearts.ReplyDelete
Good stuff, but it isn't just a feeling of self-guilt as such that dictates our way of life (though it does play a big part in modern Western thinking) but a desire to find the guilty among our own peoples while excusing the obvious and naked guilt of other 'cultures.'ReplyDelete
Those barbaric people who want to end our way of life are marked by a complete lack of guilt either for past atrocities or current horrors, so it is fair to assume that they will feel no guilt after having toiled to bring the whole house of cards tumbling down (but then they come from a squalid background so more squalor is probably no reason to feel guilty).
These non-guilt-thinkers however cannot believe we are so virulent in finding our own people guilty of anything, from thinking or talking freely to the way we want to protect our own kind. We do so much of their job for the hordes already I suppose no one, not even the rabble, should be surprised.
While we go on feeling guilty about not being guilty enough, thankfully we have leaders and experts who can still jab a very accusing finger at our own people.
On a related note, on this 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, I think we can see that the North lost the war.ReplyDelete
Blacks are again enslaved just as before by Democrats. Everywhere blacks go, anywhere blacks go in this great country of ours, Democrats have ensured they will be judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.
It is true that there are Americans who can be and are manipulated with unearned guilt. And it is true that the progressives and their allies hate America not for her faults, but for her virtues. In fact, that is the depth of their depravity, that they hate the good BECAUSE it is good, and they are put to shame before it.ReplyDelete
But that is not the whole story, nor is it the final word. There are still places in which the Spirit of America still dwells because it lives in the lives and work of the people who nurture good and sustain virtue. I see it in the daily lives of ranchers and truckers, teachers and engineers. And today I heard America's voice in the midst of the raging fires, where men and women put their lives on the line with fierce pride in their own power to bend it to their will.
That is the Spirit of America. And I will never stop recounting her virtues for the edification of my children and grandchildren out of fear of some weak and sorry progressive notion of guilt. And there are many like me, who refuse to live our lives in thrall to unearned guilt.
So be strong, Daniel, and may we all be strengthened. For all is not yet lost, and will not be so long as there are those of us who will give our utmost to take pride in our work and lives, and in the values of this great country that we love and would gladly give our lives to save.
Great article. Wrong headed guilt is overwhelming the nation.ReplyDelete
You missed an important component of the problem--the supernatural part.ReplyDelete
Guilt is something natural, that arises from conscience, when a man does something he knows he ought not to do, something that is against natural law and God's law.
Because modern Americans, especially those on the Left, are so thoroughly depraved morally, they are continuously afflicted with guilt.
The Left does not impose its own guilt. It merely proposes to sublimate the natural guilt felt by the depraved into outlets where expiation comes cheap and easy. As cheap and easy as casting a vote, or sticking on a bumper sticker, or wearing a t-shirt. They are offering their own alternative to the sacrificial Lamb, because they hate the sacrificial Lamb.
Those of us who try to live a life of virtue cannot possibly be affected by such nonsense.
It's an America where veterans are considered terrorists by the country they fought to defend, and you can't speak your mind without being labeled as a bigot if you disagree with the progressive stance that keeps racism alive with programs that never work and never will. Treason and bleeding us dry is the new program they follow.ReplyDelete
Guilt and pathological altruism... the arrogant elitist cynics of the State know how to easily manipulate the useful idiots who unquestioningly buy into it.ReplyDelete
The following recent paper may be of interest in this regard...
Concepts and Implications of Altruism Bias and Pathological Altruism, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I guess that makes me a sociopath, because I don't feel any of this guilt at all. It is the sign of weak minds that they are so easily duped into being a Progressive. As scandal after scandal surfaces with this administration and the rank in file Progs continue circling the wagons, it is starting to appear as if these people have Stockholm Syndrome. They are protecting their own oppressors.ReplyDelete
Wow! Never thought of it that way.ReplyDelete
You are correct.
Guess my problem has been that I have been uncritical and never felt much guilt.
except those high-achievers totting back organic fair trade groceries in reusable Amnesty International bags ...
after cashing their trust-fund checks, of course.
Bartering with any virtuos American is my virtue. Guilt may yet destroy us, great article to ponder.ReplyDelete