The Question...

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by Eric Peters: RWD,
FWD, AWD or 4WD?



The question
isn’t whether you’re a liberal or conservative.

Who can say
what either of those labels means anymore? Like “Christian,” a liberal
(or a conservative) can be anything he wants to be and still claim
the label.

The question,
I think, is whether you’re an authoritarian.

It is a question
that neatly cleaves one group of people from another. There’s no
hedging, no getting around the central thing — which is: Do you
— or don’t you — support using force to compel other people to do
what you want them to do? If you do, then you are an authoritarian.
It does not matter whether your desire to control others is based
on “liberal” goals or “conservative” ones.

To your victims,
the defining thing is force.

Modern “conservative”
authoritarianism most typically expresses itself in literal blood
lust. They are eager to go to war, as the first resort. (Our
turgid ex-Decider’s fight fer freedom in Iraq being the obvious
recent example.) They are remarkably untroubled by the indiscriminate
death and destruction that result, taking the attitude that one
must break eggs to make an omelette.

“Liberal” authoritarians
on the other hand, like to believe they are helping people
— by forcing them to do X or Y (or making X pay so that Y may have).
The typical liberal authoritarian is (unlike the “conservative authoritarian)
personally mild-mannered and gentle-seeming. He, personally,
would never resort to violence. But he is enthusiastic to see the
government use force to achieve aims he deems worthy. (A recent
example is heaf cayuh reform. The liberal authoritarian delights
in seeing the government force people to buy a product he
thinks they should have — even though they may disagree with
him- and hugs the very strange idea that heaf cayuh — that
is, medical supplies and the time/talent of doctors, etc. — is a
right to which everyone is entitled.)

The common
denominator is — force. We demand that you do This or That and if
you do not comply, we shall literally assault you.

It is never
put quite that plainly, but it is the bottom line.

Refuse to be
drafted to kill and maim strangers in another country who have done
you no harm (or fund the system that does it in your name) and the
“conservative” authoritarian will insist that you be imprisoned.
Fail to “purchase” the heaf cayuh insurance that the “liberal”
authoritarian demands you “purchase” and he will be pleased to first
fine you and, should you decline to pay the fine, eventually, seize
your assets or (failing that) seize you.

The “conservative”
authoritarian assuages any misgivings his stunted humanity might
still cling to by telling himself that Security, or The National
Interest (or even worse, “protecting our freedoms”) justifies the
open-ended, never-to-be-questioned sacrificial offerings to the
arms merchants and war profiteers.

The “liberal”
authoritarian tells himself that he is working for equality
— or toward a just society.

Neither takes
the time to ask himself: Would I put my next-door neighbor in
prison (or threaten him with violence) if he declined to do as I
wish and asked that I leave him in peace?

Because probably
90 percent of the population has never even thought to ask themselves
this crucible of a question, we find ourselves living in what amounts
to a (somewhat) controlled orgy of reciprocal looting and assault
lacquered over with euphemisms about “democracy.”

It pulls one
way or the other, but in the end, the result is always the same.

“Liberal” authoritarians
win a legislative victory one year — and millions are forced to
buy the product of a private, for-profit business (heaf cayuh
insurance). “Conservative” authoritarians seize control and, suddenly,
we are literally assaulted by government agents before being allowed
to get on a commercial airplane.

From the Macro
at the federal level to the Micro at the local/county level, this
is the nature of the process — and the system.

The question
that is never asked is: Do I have any right to impose my will on
my neighbor, who is doing me no harm? For to ask that simple but
penetrating question — and to come to grips with the moral implications
of the answer — would cause the “conservative” and “liberal” authoritarian
alike to suddenly see the blood each have on their hands.

So, the question
is never asked.

It is not unlike
the attitude of the ordinary German villagers in the towns near
the Camps. Look away; don’t ask what’s going on.

No — it’s worse
than that.

The German
villagers were caught up in events beyond their control. Self-preservation
strongly encouraged silence — even complicity. To raise one’s voice
meant risking finding oneself on the other side of the barbed wire.
But to their credit as human beings, they were not egging on the
guards and urging them to round up more victims.

And this is
precisely what both the “liberal” and “conservative” American
Authoritarian do. And they do it lustily, basking in the
Rightness of their cause.

You can sometimes
literally see the delicious malice in their eyes. (Watch The Chimp’s
press conferences and interviews — or those of his likely successor,
The Alaskan Autocrat — to remind yourself).

Lenin — one
of the Philosopher Kings of authoritarianism — defined politics
as “who does what to whom.”

It is a definition
that both “liberals” and “conservatives” agree on….

10, 2010

Eric Peters
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and
Road Hogs (2011). Visit his

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