Guest Post: The Beer Whisperer The power of false virtue

There’s an old saying. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. Many people, especially in this day and age, with the popularity of geographic mobility – a euphemism for no borders, incorrectly assign this saying as being about patriotism, as though such a thing is inherently immoral, indeed even racist, because people from other places are often representative of different races.

However, a cursory glance at history shows that such behaviour is common across time, while patriotism is a somewhat recent phenomenon – tribalism writ large. Much has been said about corruption in medieval churches, the Spanish inquisition, its abuse of power by individuals to punish rivals, and so on. Indeed today’s pope commands much influence over the world’s 1 billion Catholics, whose utterances make headlines around the world. However, such influence was immeasurably greater when the church was not merely the common religion, but the centre of life and politics itself. Even in today’s shadow of the church’s former glory, the Catholic church (and others) were able to get away with widespread child molestation for decades. Just imagine what the church could do, and did, at the height of its power, or at least by those in positions of immense power.

Today, few people question the self-serving nature of politicians, but if you were to judge politicians only on what they say, you would judge them to be grand, virtuous people of unnatural wisdom and insight. Clearly, the rhetoric does not match the results. Interestingly, when kings held the real power and even nobles only held advisory positions with no actual decision making, virtue was not typically stated, but needs pleaded to the ultimate arbiter. Actual claims of virtue were stated mostly only by royalty, who coincidentally held “divine right”, asserted by none other than themselves, with perhaps the  begrudging consent of the church.

In 2017, CEOs with exorbitant salaries extol their virtue through progressive values enacted by underlings. Politicians have long been accused of uttering empty platitudes, however this appears to have spread to the general populace, in the form of virtue signalling. It could be argued that virtue signalling is highlighted by genuine belief, but this is noticeably distinguished from politicians who are seen as perpetuators of fraud in terms of lack of genuine sincerity.

Even NGOs are now accused of being fronts for political activism, despite their long record of charity and altruism. There are even claims of NGOs being set up for the express purpose of activism, for reasons known only to their creators. The recent proliferation of NGOs adds weight to this assertion. Billionaires routinely give vast fortunes to charities, while conspicuously retaining control. Of course, this is perfectly understandable, given the money involved, however, it enables benefactors to direct money into whatever cause or purpose they choose. Virtue is assumed, but not guaranteed.

What we see across time is a common thread, of which patriotism occurs but once, while those who benefit from claiming virtue in power appear repeatedly across all instances.

As demonstrated, the common denominator is not patriotism, but virtue.

And that virtue is false.

It is often said that to determine intent, simply determine who benefits. Let us, for the sake of argument, ignore the classic go-to bad guy, but choose someone less generic, yet more representative of the false virtue narrative.

Maximilien Robespierre was a french lawyer and politician who was a key figure of the French Revolution. He was characterised by eloquent speeches in the French Constituent Assembly while overseeing the Reign of Terror. While he did not publicly endorse it overtly, he happened to benefit from it, as it strengthened his power.  Enemies could certainly be cowed by angry mobs that could act with impunity. Furthermore, he asserted that, perhaps conveniently, court decisions must be determined within 24 hours, with no third way beyond guilty, punishable by death, and assertion of innocence, which was to apply to all of the accused, time allowing or not, and justice be damned. While it was possibly an aberration of virtue with unintended consequences, any principle of human rights precludes such indifference, lest it encourage such barbarity, yet there was no apparent attempt to address it. Indeed, Robespierre lamented the barbarity as a mere unfortunate outcome of the glorious revolution. Sound familiar?

Hitler was obviously more confronting to western sensibilities, however in the context of German culture and recent historical empirical German expansion, portrayed as the alien virtue of racial purity, it is not the outlier one supposes. Furthermore, racial purity was an extremist extrapolation of Darwinian theory, inadvertently extending  a mere observation into a radical extremist movement resulting in the death of almost untold millions of people. In that context, Hitler was portraying a virtue apparent to Germans of only a particular time, wholly alien to modern day Germans and everyone else.

Vladmir Lenin espoused the glorious workers republic of the Soviet Union before having his associates shot dead as enemies of the revolution, despite strengthening his position in the process. Stalin upped the ante by sacrificing vastly more people than Hitler ever did, and his perceived virtue lasted long after his death despite vast evidence to the contrary, ably assisted by the same state apparatus he conveniently set up.  Don’t you just hate it when misery benefits you personally?

Despite obvious differences, there is a clear progression from the nationalist domination of Robespierre to the internationalist domination of Hitler to the globalist domination attempted by the Soviet Union following the totalitarian inroads of Lenin and Stalin. From that point, the cold war existed as characterised by a series of skirmishes that involved the fate of mere nations. And from left field appears the  medieval scourge of islamic fundamentalist militarism, which was arguably the original globalist ideology.

And yet none of these represent a racial or religious commonality. The only commonality is the claimed virtue of the oppressors. Why is it that old men aren’t suicide bombers? Just young people. Coincidence? Hardly. The Imam gets impressionable youngsters to make the ultimate sacrifice for nothing more than the promise of eternity, with zero guarantees beyond their own mortality. The priest gets to espouse the virtue of faith, without committing his own. The politician gets to espouse the virtue of nationalism, without the bothersome effort of leading one’s countrymen into battle. The actor gets to espouse the virtue of environmental sacrifice of others, while travelling across the globe in pursuit of environmental accolades in his private jet, or espouse disarmament while having his luxury estates surrounded by guards with semi-automatic weapons 24/7. The list goes on. And on.

The history of mankind is littered with the claims of the virtuous, and the sacrifice of the believers. Because it’s not about actual virtue, but the mere claim of it, with the influence over the masses that your sacrifice is supposedly theirs.

But it is not.

It is nothing more than false virtue, such that you sacrifice all you have for nothing more than the enrichment of those that would exploit you. The exploiters are few. But the exploitees are many. Which one are you?

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21 Responses to Guest Post: The Beer Whisperer The power of false virtue

  1. Rev. Archibald

    The best virtue is to have the self-restraint to leave other’s alone as much as possible.
    Not much glory or loot in that though.
    ..

    Hitler was obviously more confronting to western sensibilities,

    ..
    Not sure.
    The French Revolution filled the ruling class of Europe with horror and revulsion.

  2. Ron Van Wegen

    I have been reading your site for a while not agreeing with everything you write then this…

    “Even in today’s shadow of the church’s former glory, the Catholic church (and others) were able to get away with widespread child molestation for decades. Just imagine what the church could do, and did, at the height of its power, or at least by those in positions of immense power.”

    And that’s it for me. And if you don’t see why then you have a real problem. For a start (and just a start) you might like to Google “Shakeshaft” and the “public education system” for a taste of what I mean. Your bigotry (and this article is not an isolated case) is obnoxious.

    Thank you and goodbye.

  3. Baldrick

    Good post Beery.

    Virtue Signalling and Identity Politics have become the new weapons of the Left, but the good thing is, it’s easily exposed with facts.

  4. dopey

    Empirical German expansion. You mean Imperial?

  5. Rats!! Imperial, of course. Self-editing is a blind spot.

  6. iain russell

    Not only the French Rev but previously the execution of Chas I and the invitation to King Billy to rule the UK was a little unnerving for the non-Protestant world of Europe.

  7. Oh come on

    I think it was Deng Xiao Ping who was once asked to evaluate the degree of influence he thought the French Revolution had on the subsequent history of the world. His response was something along the lines of it’s too soon to say. That struck me as a very astute and sophisticated historical perspective, albeit a somewhat unnerving one, considering the man’s position.

    On the other hand, it’s very possible he didn’t really understand the question.

  8. Razor

    Not sure of your intent. Have I got it right that you say patriotism is simply a tool used on the plebs by those in a position to do so. I assure you that when I joined the airforce many years ago no one was plebing me. I did it on my own patriotism at the age of 16. Are you saying that Trump is using the patriotic meme?

  9. The best virtue is to have the self-restraint to leave other’s alone as much as possible.

    Self-restraint was the hallmark of Western civilization until relatively recently. Its demise is reflected in our present circumstances.

  10. dweezy2176

    I luv the exploitation bit when, as an OAP, dealing with any level of Gummint I need a quick quip .. “I bled for this country, what have you done?” tends to not only spring to mind quite easily but puts a stutter in the condescension waffling!

  11. Razor
    #2301544, posted on February 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm
    Not sure of your intent. Have I got it right that you say patriotism is simply a tool used on the plebs by those in a position to do so. I assure you that when I joined the airforce many years ago no one was plebing me. I did it on my own patriotism at the age of 16. Are you saying that Trump is using the patriotic meme?

    Trump certainly is, to some extent, but I’m not denying virtue in any of these things. I’m simply saying that it’s used to further the interests of politicians and their equivalents.

    Simply put, “I wanna rule the world” isn’t much of a selling point.

  12. calli

    And that’s it for me. And if you don’t see why then you have a real problem. For a start (and just a start) you might like to Google “Shakeshaft” and the “public education system” for a taste of what I mean. Your bigotry (and this article is not an isolated case) is obnoxious.

    Why is it bigotry to cite abuses in the Church in a post on false virtue? Organised religion has always claimed (or at least aspired to) virtue, even whilst some members were anything but. The public school system does not claim moral virtue, just utility. Beery’s point is well made – if abuses occurred during the waning temporal power of the Church, imagine what it was like when it had absolute power.

    He then goes on to other examples of “virtuous” tyranny.

    If it worries you that the Church is singled out, it shouldn’t. If the Church fails to obey the command to be holy then God will use whatever means he wishes to clean it out.

    Please don’t feel that if you disagree your comments aren’t welcome here. There are fewer biggoty bigots here than you think.

  13. Mark M

    I’m old enough to be able to remember what I was taught in school about religious history.
    Does the Vatican have walls?
    “Yes, the Vatican does have walls, and some are quite large.
    The fortifications were built a very long time ago,” Martin said.
    “This Pope didn’t build them — and he certainly didn’t build them to keep out poor migrants.
    The walls were built in the 800s to protect the pope from barbarian invasions, Beck said.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/18/world/vatican-walls/
    Who invaded Rome in the 800s?
    “Charles Martel halted the Islamic advance into Europe at the battle of Poitiers in 732.
    However at the beginning of the 8th century the Visigoth realm was destroyed by a Muslim invasion.
    In 711 an army of Berbers from North Africa, led by Arabs crossed to Spain and they utterly defeated the Visigoths at the Barbate River on 19 July 711.”
    http://www.localhistories.org/barbarians.html
    Bolt, today: Pope muddles Islam with warming
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/pope-muddles-islam-with-warming/news-story/dcbad4da44d941db87e22bfb29226d0d
    History is taught for a reason.

  14. Peter Greagg

    @ OCO, I think you will find Deng was asked about the uprising in the late 1960s in Paris.
    Just sayin…..

  15. Mark M

    The Battle of Tours (often called the Battle of Poitiers, but not to be confused with the Battle of Poitiers, 1356)
    http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/tours.html
    “Had Martel fallen at Tours the long term implications for European Christianity may have been devastating. His victory there, and in the following campaigns, may have literally saved Europe and Christianity as we know it, from conquest while the Caliphate was unified and able to mount such a conquest.
    Had the Franks fallen, no other power existed stopping Muslim conquest of Italy and the effective end of what would become the modern Catholic Church.”

  16. dopey

    Pretty sure that quote was fron Chou En Lai.

  17. Leo G

    “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

    This is an old quote of Samuel Johnson, not an old saying, and one now repeated completely out of context. The “scoundrel” was William Pitt the elder, whose populism Johnson despised.
    Johnson felt that an Englishman’s patriotism was owed to the King through their representatives in the Commons. He criticised Pitt, who had little support in the Commons, but massive populist support from the English people generally.

  18. Jannie

    the Catholic church (and others) were able to get away with widespread child molestation for decades.

    That’s a bit over he top, what virtues are you signalling?

    Over 50 years ago I spent 8 years in a Catholic boarding school, where the brothers and priests exercised total discipline and power over us. I never saw any sexual abuse.

    At a recent school reunion the members of my class were discussing the “revelations” in the press of widespread abuse by the clergy. There were about twenty of us, and not one ever experienced any abuse, or was aware of any boy being abused. All of us are a bit mystified by this myth.

    We agreed that for all their faults they taught us not to put up with anything like that from anybody. No person could ever do that and get away with it. We would have fought like tigers against it, alone or for any other boy, and screamed the bloody roof down if we were overpowered.

    Some of those brothers were total arseholes. Some were decent men. One or two were saints who worked in the shit and puke of the sick and the poor, as was their duty. But we got a pretty good education, better than any of my kids got at government and secular private schools.

    I am sure there were cases of abuse, but not at my school. You should not generalise like that, because you dishonour some good men, and show yourself to be prejudiced.

  19. Ron, this was not a criticism of the church per se, but of those who abuse such power, as but one example. Indeed, knee-jerk defences of such institutions serve only to entrench such behaviour.

    The purpose of the article is to help people see how virtue is used as cover for nefarious purposes by individuals. At least Calli got it 🙂

  20. Rabz

    So, we live in a world of hypocritical, sanctimonious virtue signallers, who’ve very unfortunately been given power over the masses and who invariably do more harm than good.

    Got it.

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