Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wasted Ideology: Silence is Golden

In the 21st century, only one mode of address constitutes political strength: silence.

Talking about talking (or, if you prefer, discussing the discourse, taking on the media) is inherently conservative. You condone torture the minute you argue about what it is called. (And yes, that absolutely means this post is conservative.) By failing to discuss historical events, but rather addressing the discussion about them, the left has colluded with Fukuyama's premise. Rather than put events in historical context (even events as purely historical as 9/11 or Katrina) the impulse from the left has been punch-drunk argument about public discourse. Goebbels was a fool when he said "tell a lie big enough...", because that requires much too much effort. All you need to do is question the truth loud enough and long enough, especially when your enemies are naval gazing neurotic cowards.

Think of the silent treatment, used to torment children for generations. When applying the silent treatment, you do not shut up completely, but rather stop speaking to one person: the punished, the treated. Failing to respond is a show of strength, not apathy but power. Apathy means allowing the enemy to say whatever they want and receding from the public space. Power means silently rolling over their objections.

If we've learned one thing in the last 30 years its that arguing is useless. If we've learned one thing in the last 30 days, it's that true strength comes from abstaining from dialogue. Though the people in Tahrir and Tunisia were sonically loud, their statement was bodily, silent. "We will not leave until you go". That was all. Over and over Mubarak tried to address them, to appease them, to speak to them. They did not respond, except perhaps with boos. They said nothing until he had left, other than "we will not leave". And "we will not leave" was not said by leaders, or press releases, or fliers, or manifestos, or speeches. It was said by action alone. They did not leave, until he could not stand the silent treatment any more.

And in Wisconsin, when the vote to destroy public unions came around, did the Democratic congressmen argue their point rationally, hoping to sway Republicans? No, they fled to another state, thus not even having the silent presence to allow abstaining votes to allow a quorum. They disappeared completely, went as silent as possible, and suddenly the right was powerless. They couldn't shout them down, couldn't force them into agreement by public shaming, and Republicans were left with their shriveled white dicks in their manicured hands.

When discussion is loudest and most heavily valued, true power means never saying anything at all. One silent action is infinitely more valuable than a thousand blog posts. Be a tree.

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