The news that the Supreme Court may have overturned Roe v Wade or clawed back some of its provisions is driving a substantial number of Americans towards the edges of sanity. The fact that this was leaked from the private offices of America’s highest court demonstrates that some well-placed few have already driven past the realm of civility. As often as I say we live in a dark age of mad populism, the news of the leak is quite disturbing. The Red people and the Blue people are itching for vengeance.
One of the areas in which my Stoic perspective does not endear me to many is on the matter of the sexual revolution. I suppose at some point in the future I will delve deeper, but one of my thought experiments rooted in certainty of human fallibility always raises a particularly thorny question. What are the long-term effects of fertile women using drugs to suppress that thing their body co-evolved to do, which is get pregnant via sexual reproduction? This is the core philosophical question of harm. The more social question which is equally thorny is what are the long-term effects of collapsing the difference between male and female attitudes towards sex? I happen to be on the skeptic side of both of these questions and I think the consequences are monumental. I am already convinced that Americans are already knee-deep in the semiotic swamp of gender fluidity and think they can casually swim in and out of the muck. Yeah right. Here’s the third curveball. American women, by and large, do not know how to bear children outside of big expensive hospitals. My parents were born at home, as the Matrix’ Tank says “Any holes? Nope. Me and my brother Dozer, we are one hundred percent pure, oldfashioned, home-grown human. Born free. Right here in the real world. Genuine child of Zion.”
As a sidebar, it is interesting that the Wachowski brothers for all their real-life gender bending did not choose to bend genders in their films. In the Matrix, the ‘residual self-image’ of all the characters were idealized in the same sex as their test-tube biology might determine.
Abortion is not murder. Nevertheless, most people interpret the existence of Roe as assuring means and opportunity. Abortion is premeditated and everyone assumes the motives are largely economic. It’s a rather sad commentary on our economy to consider that we cannot accommodate as many babies as our instincts would naturally have us produce. I grew up in a family of seven. Even in the 70s, five kids was considered a bit much, but right next door were eight kids. The Brady Bunch was not totally out of the question and only children were thought strange and spoiled. I have three myself and I am quite familiar with how that settles me economically vis a vis my Mercedes driving peers with two. Go ahead and Zillow surf 4 bedroom houses in Southern California, I dare you. The economic consequences of large families are significant, and so are the social consequences. The way I see it, the former on the downside are outweighed by the latter on the upside. That doesn’t change the means-testing of ‘fit parents’. I think folks who have known issues are volunteering themselves out of the equation, sad as that may be.
My last response to the question income inequality and ‘equity’ is as follows:
Think about your brother or your sister. You were raised in the same city, in the same community, in the same house. You had the same parents. You ate food out of the same cabinets. You went to the same church, schools. If you were like me, you literally wore the same clothes. Played the same games, used the same toilet, watched the same TV.
But are you equal? No. How can you possibly expect equality across a society if you cannot even do it in one house?
The complexity of a large household is not the world in microcosm, but it generates ample opportunities for cooperation in love. No the world does not work like that, nor is a family democratic, but a successful large family home life is a crucible of skills no other environment reproduces, and I say especially if there are neighbors and animals involved as well. However there’s a limit one can socially gainsay by dint of excellent home training that isn’t surpassed by a university transcript and FICO score.
As such we legally have the ability to abort all that family jazz.
Abortion is not murder. It is one of the harshest forms of self-preservation possible. I don’t think that I could ever be convinced that the woman who aborts her child is any less distressed than the soldier who kills another on the battlefield. The soldier is better prepared and has more allies. So why do we not have a well understood term for the specific PTSD of abortion? Have you ever watched a sympathetic film about a woman who is devastated over a miscarriage? I’ve seen a film in which a woman wearing gold bracelets punches Nazis, and it was considered very role modelish. I reiterate that we are living in dark times and our notions of equality are overloaded, twisted and basically irrational. No one is immune from the social impact of such madness.
I fundamentally believe that adult human beings have an inherent right to make life or death decisions. I also fundamentally believe some are apt at this level of decision-making and that others might never be. I expect the majority of us are not up to the task and we needn’t be. Yet we all might face scenarios of self-preservation that call for desperate measures. I’ve got guns. Do you have guns? I practice with mine. Do you? I know how the professionals do it, but I am not indemnified like they are. I know that if my life is threatened and I managed to bust a cap in my assailant’s dome, I’m put in the crosshairs of a legal barrage. Economically speaking, my liberty to kill is severely constrained. It’s certainly legally inconsequential to terminate a pregnancy as compared to defending your own life with lethal force. Even for the professionals. Abortion is about defending your life with lethal force. We defenders have our respective state authorized facilitators and all of the attendant policies and procedures. The defense of life with lethal force is a fundamental and inherent right. Self-preservation. However, your state may constrain that liberty in a number of different ways.
The dynamics of the endless bleating of those for and against:
Supporting the Troops
They all seem to forget they are arguing the same fundamental principle of that fundamental right of self-preservation. Can we stipulate that humans kill? It is inevitable that we will. Meat isn’t murder, nor is bread. Neither the beef nor the wheat survives the process. They die so that human beings might live. Besides, you can always grow another field of wheat. You can always lead a bull to a cow and eventually calves will come. Why weep over a renewable resource? That’s how we save the planet, right? Flatly stated, human beings are a renewable resource. In a modern society with a meritocratic standard that doesn’t discriminate by race, ethnicity, gender, sex, national origin, creed or religion - human beings tend to be seen as a renewable and a fungible resource. Well, certainly the 85% of us peasants. It is because of human fungibility that we have human rights and can live under a set of laws that have no regard for persons. This is how it should be. However, your state may constrain that liberty in a number of different ways.
A great number of ways that I am living including my apolitical stoicism and the conditions that generated both my Martial Education and my Peasant Theory hinge on decisions I made in 2008 pursuant to the collapse of significant parts of the economy. I asked myself if it was possible for all of our democratic institutions to collapse and if so what would we fall back to. If this is the beginning of the end of the Judiciary, or at least a few pillars of it, then further adjustments need to be made.
The relegation of Roe will necessitate our falling back to a dependence on how our individual states constrain our liberty in their different ways. At least, this is the most optimistic scenario that I can conceive. Living in California with my guns, I know the difference between how I might presume to defend my life here vs 230 miles east in Arizona. I know that the territory is meaningful. It would be an inconvenient matter for me to travel that far for self-preservation. It would certainly be more practical for me to do that than to type until my fingers go bloody in an attempt to influence the Supreme Court or even my State Legislature. My feet are under my control, so that when I vote with my feet, I self-evidently move. When I vote with the ballot provided to me by the parties, anything can happen.
The madness that is likely to ensue in the wake of this treachery in the Capitol is likely to generate petabytes of commentary, easily accommodated by our massive cloud infrastructure behind the interwebz. But those of us in the peasantry will have to accept, like in the wake of 9/11, that we are not as protected as we thought. The deceptions of the well-placed agent can wreck our trust and wobble our institutions. We are all vulnerable when we are not self-reliant.
A Stoic view of sexual intercourse needn’t be detailed here. Rape is rape, everything else is under our control, but not all of us are equally up to the discipline. What indeed is the sex drive? One must certainly consider all of the trillions spent convincing us that we are superheroes. We are living in that semiotic swamp and volunteer our money and our minds to become Red or Blue or some Disneyfied marvel or some supra-meta-human capable of transmogrifying our sexual instincts if not our genetics. Why should we be surprised that we make the fantastic decisions we do? Alas, some decisions are made for us. It’s part of our bargain as citizens to punt responsibility to our respective state and federal institutions, wobbly as they may be. If it’s truly your body and your choice, then you shouldn’t be too concerned. Except, yeah, the authorities. Care to run free and afoul?
I don’t expect that we Americans love and respect each other quite enough to forestall rioting and a bombing or two. Abortion clinics have seen this level of ruckus before. Every day I compare today’s peace to the violence of 1968 America and I sleep soundly, but the clock is turning back more swiftly. It’s odd to consider the short term gains of sexually profligate ease in cooperation with the proper hormonal adjustments vs the long term gains of more babies that will create new fresh majorities in a democracy vs just doing in your 50s what you did in your 20s. But it’s not really sex itself that wants to spark off a new civil war, it’s control of other people’s self-determination and thoughts about sex. We’ve all been living in a controlled box that chafes, and we want to break out or to “be the control you wish to see in the world”. We think that what works for us, we should legislate for those who pretend to be like us, you know for the sake of our social credit scores - our calculated altruisms. Yet once again, the faith has been broken and the ground has shifted. First it was on race, now it’s on sex. The status quo has been cracked by radical action. We’ve been minding other people’s business as if it were our duty and now we’ve gone and broke things. Again.
After sexual and racial identity there’s not much else to fight about in a postmodern populist society, and so people will screw up their courage and hit the streets. It’s not until people are physically hungry that a real civil war will gain legs, so I’m thinking not this year. But COVID and St George combined to make our murder rate jump to over 21,000. So what’s next?
What’s next is a deeper consideration for what you need to do to maintain your self-determination and your self-preservation. Maybe you think the foundations of your self-actualization pyramid are solid, but think twice, peasant. The rulers will soon be soliciting you to join their revolutionary reactionary storms. You can expect their solicitations will be nothing short of genius. If it’s truly your body and your choice, I think you’ll resist them minding your business. That’s what a Stoic would do.