QotD: Choking on Smug Edition

Today at lunch, I was chatting with a colleague of mine who is rather to the left. Unsurprisingly, we disagree about quite a few things, but we continue to engage intellectually, because we like each other and we make each other laugh. We were discussing the coming changes in US currency design, and we agreed that there’s a fair amount of silliness involved in the whole business, and that the cosmetic changes of paper money are at best cosmetic changes in the situation of presumably marginalized groups. Harriet Tubman’s unquestionable courage is a given, and it’s nice that she’s being recognized, but my colleague and I were both pretty sure that putting her on the $20 bill isn’t going to usher in the Millennium. The US Mint ain’t the Freedom Riders.

I said, “Even if I weren’t a libertoid, I couldn’t be a prog/liberal, because I think all the virtue signaling is repellent.” What I didn’t go on to say is that a side that is wrapped up in signalling its own virtue requires a suitable number of the designated vicious to stigmatize. Orthodoxy is defined in part by the heresy it rejects. Self-congratulation requires scorn for the outsider as well.

This is part of what the Spawn recognized a while back when she was appalled by a prog political video that indulged in a bit of hickbashing. It’s also what Emmett Rensin of Vox(!) observes in a longish essay today. Rensin and I doubtless differ about a lot of political points — that’s fine, and I would expect no less. But to his credit, he’s willing to acknowledge a significant vice — smugness — on his side of the aisle, and that brings us to our QotD:

If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it’s, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.

Abandoned and without any party willing to champion their interests, people cling to candidates who, at the very least, are willing to represent their moral convictions. The smug style resents them for it, and they resent the smug in turn.

There are numerous points in the essay I think are wrongheaded. However, I strongly recommend you read the entire piece. There’s some interesting stuff there.

A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to Ace.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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