October 11, 2003
Eiland's Theory Of Compensatory Misery
I created a bit of a stir at Tacitus with a post viciously bashing PETA for its epic insensitivity on yet another occasion (much to my chagrin, the most notable fact about the thread was that I managed to cause posters who are otherwise quasi-mortal enemies to be in complete agreement that, yes, PETA is a bunch of squirrel-brained losers). The whole thing reminded me of one of my pet theories, which I will post here for comments (as before, if someone formulated this first, please tell me and I will make sure they get credit):
EILAND'S THEORY OF COMPENSATORY MISERY
"As human society gradually solves the problems of basic survival and reduces the amount of other miseries rooted in the reality of the human condition, the fringe elements of that society feel an increasingly strong compulsion to become obsessively angry about ever more trivial causes to recapture the sense that life is a painful struggle."
Seriously, folks--can you imagine PETA being a big hit during the Great Depression? Do you remember hearing from the people who think that male infant circumcision is an atrocity since 9/11? Neither do I. I'm convinced that some people just can't handle the idea that our world is gradually removing human misery from it, so they manufacture causes to bitch about and create some brand-spanking new misery to compensate for it. If one extrapolates to just how weird the causes will have to be two hundred years in the future, it's enough to give one the shivers--the descendants of PETA will be holding funerals for dust mites crushed when people roll over in their sleep, and will be demanding that human beings submit to being put in stasis during slumber so as to spare the little critters.
Of course, there's a worse scenario--they may do what the real malcontents do these days and blow innocent people up to satisfy their need to create misery where it did not exist before.
Maybe a few dust mite funerals wouldn't be so bad after all.
Posted by M. Scott Eiland at October 11, 2003 02:07 PM
Yes, yes, yes!
I've often thought the same thing, and never could have put it so clearly and succinctly.
Thank you for the blindingly obvious summary of the conservative movement.
Hey, maybe you can weave your Laws and Theories into some Star Trek fan fiction!
Sure, Mithras--because PETA and the Zero Human Population Movement are well-known refuges for the Pat Robertson crowd.
If you'll notice, the theory refers to "the fringe elements of society," which could be left, right, or just plain f****** nuts. Something I've found amusing is that I've run into lefties who will defend any number of atrocities attributable to communists, but when one gently points out to them that PETA's members tend to be rather far left of center, you get a "Hey! Those loons have nothing to do with *me*"
Hey, shouldn't you be off collecting tinfoil to build the HQ for the launch of the Recall-Recall against Ah-nuld?
any number of atrocities attributable to communists
Really? Do you really run across many Pol Pot and Stalin fans? I suspect you're bullshitting.
you get a "Hey! Those loons have nothing to do with *me*"
Maybe that's because PETA is nuts - and I know, I've litigated on their behalf. Having said that, they are far less influential than any of the numerous conservatives groups out there. So why all the fire at PETA? An easy, convenient target, I guess.
As for Arnold, let's see where those "dirty trick" LAT stories lead us, shall we? His poll numbers might not be looking so hot in a little while. Remember, it only cost $1.80 per signature for the original recall petition. You think there are any rich, pissed-off liberals in California willing to get another recall onto the March primary ballot?
"Really? Do you really run across many Pol Pot and Stalin fans? I suspect you're bullshitting."
Not many (thank God), but a few--one guy in particular who was quite eloquent in blaming the kulaks for Stalin starving them to death in the 1930's comes readily to mind (though as it happened we never discussed PETA)--Walter Duranty would have been proud of him. Try hanging out in Usenet political groups--or better yet, don't. Much better class of people to be found in blogs, regardless of political viewpoint.
Actually Mithras, International ANSWER, the key organizing group behind the anti-war movement, was formed and staffed by a group that is essentially a Stalin fan club. The Workers World Party formed ANSWER on 9/12/01, to "oppose U.S. Action" in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. Sure, no U.S. action had been planned, but whatever the U.S. wanted to do, by gum, ANSWER would oppose it. If dissent is indeed patriotic, as you lefty knuckleheads insist, than I can scarcely imagine a more patriotic cause for U.S. citizens than opposing U.S. action, no matter what the action might be. Why, it practically guarantees you will be "patriotic" if you are an ANSWER true believer.
Not only did the WWP manage to catalyze an insta-anti-war movement using ANSWER, but the WWP also managed to keep most people who participated - folks Stalin referred to as "useful idiots" - in the dark about the origins of the "movement".
The WWP in fact split from the Socialist Workers Party following the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The split was due to the Socialist Worker's Party's insufficiently adamant support for Stalin in the face of Western criticism. The good Americans in the WWP believed that he's our Stalin, right or wrong; love him or leave him. And yes, cheering on Stalin as he slaughtered Hungarians was in direct opposition to the U.S. government position - so by the leftist definition, it was a highly patriotic act to cheer on the Soviet slaughter of the pro-democracy forces in Hungary.
So yes, we run across Stalinists, or at least their stooges, conscious supporters and heirs, all the time.
Well, okay, ANSWER. Can I please be excused from having to be associated with them, too? Do I need a doctor's note? I mean, I represent protest groups. I was just glad ANSWER never asked me for help because I didn't want to be involved with them. They got a lot of press, but the anti-war protests were not all about them. Here in Philly and in Pittsburgh, at least, lots of groups came together to sponsor the protests. (Not that it damn bit of good, but it is their constitutional right.) To accuse all of these people of being "stooges" of the Stalinists is pure crap. They were against the war for all the variety of reasons that many non-extremists were against the war, and they would have marched with or without ANSWER. Unless you now think the Quakers are Communists?
If dissent is indeed patriotic...
Jeez, Al, you sound like you're ready to run a re-education camp yourself. I can see the First Amendment is in safe hands around here.
Mithras, what do you find so objectionable about ANSWER? I mean, you've been repeating all their talking points on several posts here already.
Scott, I know where your point hits a raw nerve with some people. As Western civilization continues to reduce the misery and improve the lot of its own citizens, those who were outraged about the now-mitigated problem(s) have two choices. They can either
a) direct their anger at those societies that have not made similar progress, or
b) find another injustice that Western civilization is guilty of.
What action these groups and individuals take depends on what their real agenda is. If one is truly motivated by a given injustice, then one logically directs one's energy toward righting that injustice. If one is motivated by hatred of a society, then just about any injustice will do.
Let's take one United Nations agency as a case in point:
The United Nations Committee on Rights of the Child has just told Canada that it needs to prevent parents from spanking their children (UPI via the Washington Times). Are we to believe that this esteemed body has addressed all of the more serious child-related atrocities worldwide? I'm not an expert, but my guess would be no.
As an aside, yes, ANSWER (and the new "antiwar" group CodePink) are front groups for hard-core Marxists. It isn't too hard to figure this out by following the links on their Websites.
Sasha - like representing the KKK and neo-Nazis (which I have done, too), it's just uncomfortable representing Stalinists, but that's not a reason to not represent them. (Nazis and Stalinists have First Amendment rights, too.) It was that the ANSWER people sabotagued negotiations for mass protests by making stupid demands, and as a result, it made it much harder for other people to get their message out.