All human institutions have a way of growing into perversions of their original purpose that block its attainment. Those who run the institutions are allowed to acquire interests that conflict with the professed purpose of the institution they serve. -- F. C. S. Schiller
When people land a job they had once only dreamt of, and then get raises and bonuses on top of that, you can be reasonably certain that sooner or later two things will happen. First, they will come to understand that they deserve all that they get; second, they will begin to realize that it is only honorable to bargain for whatever can be got. Once entitlement has become a veritable disease occurring across the gamut of offices -- professionals, top corporate brass and elective posts -- we get endemic corruption, the general topic of this, the second of three in the series about Republicans and what they do for and with their concept of honor.
Silence from the sinkhole
If entitlement attaches to naturally occurring or accruing dignity, Republicans are flat out of luck with the exception of those who can point to business creation and development, for which decency requires a deep reservoir of thanks and the respect that goes with such indebtedness. No Republican has ever been satisfied by this, however, and many refuse to believe that any liberal is capable of such regard. Never mind. Republicans believe they are entitled to rather a lot. Out of respect for their opinions we accordingly offer some examination of their Dickensonian expectations (you will note the irony).
Some of their suspect entitlements hang in there unnoticed until opened zippers betray accidents or emergencies -- or criminal activity. Richard Francis Burton may or may not have been bisexual, but he was unquestionably interested in sexuality, and in particular, homosexuality; specifically, homosexuality where least expected or understood -- throughout the Sotadic Zone, that swath of honor-based cultures where homosexuality had always been, and has since been, off limits. Talk about being brave or stupid. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, he was in addition probably Muslim, not just playacting to gain access to the knowledge he would later write about. Worse, his explorations into homosexuality were explicitly titled 'pederasty' (here is the link to the unexpurgated 14,000 word essay originally appearing in the tenth volume of The Arabian Nights) which might for some recall the saw of a mind's concentration walking to one's hanging, for such was the influence of a word denoting that part of the gay lifestyle most assured of fetching the death penalty.
To hear it from sanctimonious Republicans, liberals are supposed to be the lushes of the world. While I am not claiming that Republicans are pederasts, fun though that might be, I am interested in pointing out how homosexuality could be rife precisely where it was also viciously persecuted.
The highest status groups in honor-based societies tend, with remarkably few exceptions, to become laws unto themselves. "More often than not," wrote Simon Tisdall in the Guardian, "instinctively undemocratic, oligarchic and corrupt national elites find that an appearance of democracy, with parliamentary trappings and a pretense of pluralism, is much more attractive, and manageable, than the real thing." Nothing more perfectly describes the two most advanced cults of dignity in nominal democracies: the apparatchiks of the American Republican Party and Putin's Russia. Against the latter the European Parliament is calling for travel bans and asset freezes.
Why not welcome these good Europeans to investigate our own brand of Putinism? I for one am all for it. Look: polls indicate that some 50 percent of Russians would prefer that Putin retain the presidency for life. The conservative movement in this country, but for slightly different circumstances, would be similarly inclined. In the "freest country in the world' I am now able to say with a straight face that when Republicans rule (as also Democrats who govern like Republicans) some or another equivalent of Siberia is no longer an assumed absurdity. America is many things, but because of Republicans, 'the freest' is no longer one of them. Of course the 'Patriot' laws are not intended to hurt law-abiding folk, but I for one cannot trust such powers in the hands of those whose mission is a conservative agenda with a vengeance.
Shame is the great honor-based cleanser, and a thoroughgoing visitation from European authorities would be more than merely refreshing; it would shock a goodly number of the Republican underclass into rethinking their mind-numbing cupidity. We fought a revolutionary war to rid ourselves of the very aristocratic pretensions now firmly entrenched throughout corporate America and Wall Street. We waged a long Cold War with the U.S.S.R. only to discover that our own home-bred honor-based thugs are willing to foist the same dirty flag over the most recent of history's three storied democratic experiments. Speaking of which, we should revisit the first of them.
Plato was the spokesperson for ancient conservatism. A card-holding member of the Athenian aristocracy, he looked favorably on pederasty as a symbolic representation of normative superior-inferior relationships in nature's and society's order, including that of student and teacher (the ostensible rationale). For our heuristic pleasure: when the Sophists used pederasty to force their presence in competition with the aristocracy, Plato suddenly disavowed pederasty entirely. The honor-based and the patriarchal do not approve inferiors dissing their superiority, most especially by aping its own symbols. 'My way or the highway' is only partially what he was saying; 'The highway is one lane, one direction' better states the matter. This also better parallels Republican fanaticism. They want to have and retain for themselves what they also prefer be denied to others, whence they take umbrage at government giveaways that actually or symbolically dilute their felt entitlement.
All of our elected officials are in on the act, of course, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Because we have perfected all the worst attributes of the electioneering process inspired by Rome, a serious candidate pretty much requires a goodly dose of bipolar traits, the same that, with even a little excess expression, lay aback those feelings of uber-entitlement, just as they sponsor the drive, grit and determination to see through an amazingly ridiculous gauntlet. We should never be surprised if the result is a cynical cesspool of self-praising, self-serving dilettantes. The only discernible difference between the political parties is that Republicans are outraged at efforts to curb abuse and nonsense, whereas Democrats are sad at having to work harder to obtain and retain the perks. Republicans will call all such efforts a liberal conspiracy, since facts never matter to Republicans until they decide otherwise. Nothing unfair can be their fault, and everything unfair is necessarily the fault of liberals. It's the honorable thing to claim, for to them their honor is a birthright, their unique birthright.
According to John Stuart Mill, something else has always been a birthright of conservatives, namely, "most stupid people are conservatives." My personal impression of Mill's meaning comes from another of his expressions: A man who has nothing " which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Intellectually, Republicans have essentially nothing more than their ideology, which, in their willingness to fight for, brings out every manner of stupidity, in every metaphorical category ever invented or invoked of lower nature. It's all just part of Republican honor. And the very liberals who, being by and large those 'better people', the same who are attacked as the cause of all that is bad, are the only ones who will wage Voltaire's fight to ensure that Republicans retain the right to be stupid. No liberal ever ordered under pain of law that any American have an abortion, make love to gays, or educate kids in the midst of mean and dirty heathens. But the Republicans are pleased to try passing laws against all others merely to sleep better at night. And this sounds like democracy? How? It truly takes a breathtaking kind of entitlement to carry on in this fashion. Only spoiled children and dictatorial adults can shamelessly ape such behavior.
The implicit arrogance of the 'live by my own laws' Weltanschauung is occasionally caught sneaking a midnight dip. Republicans, while so outwardly proud of tradition and religion, are notoriously oblivious of anybody else's sacrality. If the more unscrupulous of the honor-based can mine the land, they will have no scruples dispatching, literally or figuratively, the natives (the latest land grab from the Sioux). Absent cameras, a nice evening might find Republicans of superior morals skinny dipping in someone else's sacred lake without so much as a wink or a nod (lately the Sea of Galilee). Republicans are, by countless kinds of evidence, outrageously self-centered and shameless. The vast majority never deserved to hold any office, let alone powerful ones. One day liberals will learn, doubtless the hard way, that the shameless self-centered behavior of honor-based cliques ultimately brings down everyone else in their orbit.
These self-same moral arbiters tarnish themselves as well as others. Chasing skirts and male pudenda is fine when under the rules or auspices of an open and just society. Republicans are above that, however, feeling entitled to make their own laws even as they use law to deter others from precisely the same conduct. The hypocrisy is, like the felt entitlement, breathtaking. Though these behaviors appear limited in scope, the believability test for a political party holding itself sacrosanct is the tacit approval of the rank and file. The Republican underclass makes war on gays but yet wants the assurance that they, too, can share in the radical independence demonstrated by their elders who make their own laws. It is the psychology aback the honor of thieves.