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The Tyranny of 'Just'

The Tyranny of 'Just'
Photo by Ryan Brooklyn / Unsplash
Written listening to Creed

I don’t like talking about mass casualty events. The rush to use the biography of the murderer as political fuel is gross. However, to make a point, I’m going to break my rule.

I can’t remember which specific event started this conversation. It might have been Portland. Nonetheless, I came across a post from a progressive woman making an argument you will be familiar with. She wrote “This shooting proves that the ‘good guy with a gun’ is pure fantasy. You wouldn’t be a hero. Stop lying to yourself, you’re just a normal guy.”

Before I jump into a deeper and more interesting analysis, I should address the factual claim. According to my research, armed civilians are equally as successful as law enforcement in ending mass shootings. For a specific example, see what happened to Elisjsha Dicken.

Back to my main point. I find this statement to be reprehensible. The message in this post is that the desire to act as a hero is foolish and unrealistic. As the author says, “You’re just a normal guy.” The implication is that normal people are cowardly and that it's unrealistic to expect more.

The word just does a lot of heavy lifting for progressive social entropy. You find this phrase littered through progressive spaces online and in print. Reddit reminds you that you’re just a brain piloting a bone mech covered in meat. Neil DeGrasse-Tyson reminds you that you’re just a spec of matter in the infinite nothingness of an uncaring universe. Love is just a chemical reaction in your brain

The idea of just is fascinating to me. This phrase is often used to categorize something with a mystical or cultural significance. The argument seems to be that if I can place X within the same category as Y it is qualitatively the same. Categorizing de-mystifies the subject and brings it back to the mundane. Just is a linguistic solvent.

As an example let’s examine the phrase ‘ The Mona Lisa is just a painting.’ This is true. But the argument contained in that sentence is not. What is meant is; “ The Mona Lisa is just a painting. There is nothing special or notable about the category of paintings. Therefore there is nothing special about the Mona Lisa.”

In The Pilgrim’s Regress, C.S Lewis uses the basic form of Bunyan’s masterwork as an analogy for his conversion. The vignettes in the story represent philosophical changes in his life. In modern terms, Lewis is explaining how he became based and redpilled.

The passage that’s relevant to this discussion, is one where John, the hero of the novel and stands in for the author, is captured by a giant. The Spirit of the Age, as the monster is known, has a terrible power; anything he looks upon becomes transparent. John is disgusted when he sees through his skin and observes his organs at work. According to Lewis, the giant is Freud. Freud’s gaze revealed a truth about human nature. But it was a squalid and incomplete truth. In The Pilgrim’s Regress, the giant tries to demoralize John by taunting him. The Spirit of the Age wants John to think that he is merely a collection of biological components. Similarly, Freud taught that man is nothing more than his libido. Each offers a small truth but misses a larger one.

This tactic is common and insidious, where a correct statement is used to deface a broader narrativized truth. It is especially common in the discussion of heroism.

Liberals are unable to write their heroes. This is nowhere more apparent than in Marvel movies. In these movies, and in others that try to ape the signature writing style, there is a recurring gag. A character will be set up in a traditionally dramatic way. Tension is built towards a dramatic point. At the last minute, the hero shatters the tension and cracks a joke. The first time this was an amusing subversion of expectation, but it is repeated far too often. This reveals something about the mind of modern man. The Liberal is uncomfortable with the heroic. They can use the tropes as a joke but nothing more.

This comes from thinking tainted by  ‘just’. Look at how the progressives handle figures from our history. In every, they draw attention to their basest and most venial flaws. Alexander was an alcoholic. Napoleon was a megalomaniac. Lee was a racist. In some cases, these might be true statements, but they are deliberately used as weapons to destroy and degrade the legacy of great men. Just like The Giant, these modern narratives use small truths to classify and demystify heroes.

To paraphrase Carlyle, hero worship is the basis of civilization. This was such a widely accepted truth, that hero worship was engrained into education until the recent past. The men who built our civilization were aware of this fact. It was expected of a young man to read about heroes and model himself after them. Napoleon consciously sought to imitate Alexander. The American Founders attempted to live like Cicero, Scipio, and Cincinnatus. Many American towns and cities were named after these men. Our previous elite class imitated the great men of Western civilization and in turn, joined their ranks.

An attack on this process is an attack on civilization. Instead of promoting heroes as examples, they are denigrated and demystified. These figures are under constant attack in the media and the press. It is no accident that as these figures have been subverted, their virtues have also been subverted.

Yukio Mishima brings up a similar point in Sun and Steel. “ The cynicism that regards all hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority. Invariably, it is the man who believes himself physically lacking in heroic attributes who speaks mockingly of the hero… I have yet to hear hero worship mocked by a man endowed with what might justly be called heroic physical attributes.” In this quote, the author outlines how this cynicism is rooted in personal inferiority. For the cynic is nothing more than a small-minded coward. He is weak and cannot imagine strength.

We see the results of this cynicism every day. Good men, like Daniel Penny or Kyle Rittenhouse, are punished for taking action. When a crisis does arise, as it did in Uvalde, armed offices are too afraid to make a move.

This is the worst part about the phrase 'just’. In many cases, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the subversion first started, there was enough residual virtue left to keep society functioning. But after 3 generations of demystifying, there is none left. Culture has forsaken the hero and with it heroism.

My exhortation is this: stop listening to cowards. They correctly described themselves, but you can rise to the example of your forefathers. Generations of men have strove their entire lives to copy their heroes, you can too. Heroic action is not out of reach. You are more than just a normal guy. You are an heir to a long tradition of brave and capable men. Act like it.

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