Inflating the Price of Civil Liberties

The strategy of the left is to inflate the cost of civil liberties beyond affordability.

I like memes. As the reader may have noticed, most Saturday mornings I post a large collection of memes on this site. I guess I enjoy them as much as anyone else.

But there's a meme genre that I find frustrating and particularly tone deaf. The memes I dislike are the ones that make fun of the logical inconsistency of some left wing policy or principle du jour. The supply of these memes is never ending - produced, I suppose, by the ACME conservative meme factory operating out of its secret lair.  These memes unintentionally reveal the extent to which many on the right seem blind to what the left is actually doing.

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but the left is not playing the right's little debating game, keeping score on the basis of logical consistency and purity of principle.  It might make right-leaning people feel a frisson of superiority to mock the buffoonish policy prescriptions of the left. But that is entirely missing the point.  The left has no abiding policy other than the continuous accumulation of power. They serve no higher principle than themselves.

There's an old story about Josef Stalin which illustrates, I think, the current mindset of the left. I have no idea whether it's a true story or merely apocryphal. Supposedly, one of Stalin's assistants informed him that some policy or action he was anticipating was likely to receive the condemnation of the pope.  "Oh really?", Stalin replied. "How many armies has the pope?" This story perfectly illustrates the mindset of someone who is playing the power game. The opinions of others only matter to the extent they help or hinder one's own acquisition of power. Words and policies are mere tools in service to the accumulation of power.

Whether something is intrinsically good or true has nothing to do with it.

Outside the world of memes, nothing illustrates popular conservative myopia in regard to the left's strategy more than the on-going battle over first amendment civil rights. I'm thinking specifically about rights of conscience as a leading example. The circumstances surrounding Jack Phillips, the baker from Colorado, stand out in my mind. Also the de facto persecution of the Little Sisters of the Poor in regards to the funding of birth control. The right produces a continuous stream of commentary, books, and political cartoons about all of these issues. We celebrate our little victories; we keep our little accounting tabulations.

And we utterly miss the point.

The legal harassment of Jack Phillips et al has little to do with whether the left ultimately loses a narrow ruling at the U.S. supreme court. I suspect the left may not really even care all that much about losing narrow rulings at court. The left can win the game they're playing merely by forcing first amendment civil libertarians to incur the costs of going to court. This is especially true when headline after headline drives home the point to the broader community that the cost to a small business owner of standing for his principles is financially and socially crushing.  

What the left is doing is playing a game of inflation. They are inflating the price of exercising our civil liberties to the point of making them unaffordable to regular people. They are working to make first amendment rights too socially and financially expensive to act upon. The left knows, even if many conservatives do not, that technically having rights doesn't matter if one can't afford, as a practical matter, to exercise them.

For every Jack Phillips willing to stand upon his rights, how many other bakers, with moral commitments similar to Jack's, just quietly forego standing for their rights because of the social and financial price they see Jack paying?

If the price of civil liberties can be raised high enough, no one will be able to afford them. That's the game the left is playing right now. That's what "cancel culture" is all about. The right needs to look up from its legalistic bookkeeping and realize that, while they are celebrating their superior logical consistency, the left is making the exercise of our civil liberties unaffordable.

Instead of spending our time laughing at the latest logical inconsistency of the left, we would be better off finding ways to undermine their inflationary strategy. By the time we manage to get the courts to address the latest outrage, assuming we even can get them to address it, the left has already achieved its goals.

I don't really want to see any more memes about the superior logic of the right.

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