The destroyers

Prompted by John Derbyshire, who’s on target, as usual.

A parable.

Consider a group of people who’ve decided to build a house. They all agree, in principle, that a house should be built — but disagree vehemently about its structure, layout, materials, construction plan, etc. Some of them think it should be a skyscraper while others insist on a McMansion. Wood and bricks are in competition with concrete, glass and steel. High-rise crane operators can barely see the bulldozers busying below. Add to this the occasional outbursts of violence; after all, the people involved are motivated by sincere, deeply held ideolgies. Question: will they succeed in building any functional house?

Now consider a second group of people who all agree that a certain house should be destroyed. Though they agree on the ends, they vehemently disagree on the means. Some insist on a manual hammer-and-axe affair, while others fashion the wrecking ball, and others still will hear of nothing but dynamite. Passions run high, and the wrecking ballers have no compunction about crushing the occasional errant hammer wielder. The dynamiters, in turn, are perfectly happy to sacrifice the heretical wrecking ballers for The Cause. Question: with all the infighting and discord, will this group eventually accomplish their goal of destroying the house?

This is a parable about the Right and the Left. Some would argue (Auster) that there is no coherent Right at all — only a coherent Left. The point of the parable is that there need not be a coherent Left in order for the censorious, in-fighting bunch to produce coherent, persistent effects. You need not reach an agreement about whether all men need to be castrated or simply subjugated in order to effectively Smash The Patriarchy. Should Asians count as a minority or not? That’s a tough one, but they can sure all agree about heterosexual white men.

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