On contempt

Submitted by Larry on 25 March 2016 - 9:06pm

A few weeks ago, I went on an uncharacteristic Twitter rant. At the suggestion of a follower or two I've turned it into a blog post for posterity. The following is a direct repeat of that Twitter stream, very lightly edited and paragraphed.

The underlying theme of the 2016 election cycle is contempt.

The GOP establishment is contemptuous of the American people, and has been for decades. The Republican base is contemptuous of the establishment lying to their face for decades. Trump is contemptuous of everybody.

The public at large is contemptuous of the corrupt political process where lobbyists write laws, and we vote for who gets to be bribed.

The Right is contemptuous of the Left. The Left is contemptuous of the Right. The media is contemptuous of itself, given how cowardly they've acted for decades. And the public is, too, for the same reason. The Democratic base is contemptuous of a party that pays lip service to populism but is just as bought as the GOP. Hence the popularity of Sanders and Lessig.

And so we, as humans, respond to contempt with contempt. That is the cycle in which we are locked. Someone is contemptuous of us, so we'll return the favor and be contemptuous of someone else, too. Because stubborn contempt shows "strength" and "manliness" and "toughness". Because dialog means admitting hate may not be justified.

And if your response to this contemptible failure of our county is to be contemptuous of it, you only make matters worse. You fall into the same trap of hating and othering. Whether it's black people, immigrants, millionaires, or Trump supporters, contempt kills. It kills our ability to build. It kills our ability to rebuild this broken, failed democracy. We have spent 40 years building a culture of contempt. Yes, it started in the GOP but it's metastasized to the whole political spectrum.

If you want to "stop Trump", we need to move past contempt. Contempt is what got us to this sick state of affairs. It will not get us out.

To all, but especially my fellow Left-ists, let go of the contempt. Every time you show contempt for white/cis/male/Christian Trump supporters, you make more of them. Because that's how contempt works. If you cannot engage with those you dislike and disagree with, without showing contempt, you are the problem. Left or Right.

If you want to fix America, fix the culture of contempt. Starting with the person in the mirror.

Given recent events, it seemed appropriate to repeat. My fear is that those who most need to hear it are those who least want to listen.


The contempt is an unavoidable result of not allowing individual sovereignty. Collectivists (including the leftist variety) believe it is fair to force others to not defect from shared societal obligations. But there is an Iron Law of Political Economics[1] which declares that collectivism is a power vacuum, i.e. winner take all who ever can lie best.

So how can you expect collectivism to turn out any other way? It is not that I am against the idealism of leftists, but nature is not idealism. The Lion isn't wrong to callously eat its prey. Yet the moma Lion takes care of her cubs.

The problem here is an inability to understand reality. The universe is not a total order.

Btw Larry, I really liked this following blog post of yours:


And I'll probably be commenting on it at the following forum post shortly (as another edit):


Larry you seem like a very insightful programmer. Politics is a waste of time. Let it go. I am age 51. The USA will break up into regions. The peak in the USA was reached the day Edward Snowden made his final moves in April 2013. Nature runs in cycles. There is nothing you nor I can do to change that.

Please be fair and post my comment to your blog. Don't cause me to waste my effort by censoring me.

[1] Essay from Eric S. Raymond, the progenitor of the term "open source" and the famous Cathedral and the Baazar on open source.

Collectivism is a power vacuum and the argument is always about who gets to steal for and from whom.

Bernie: "Socialism can be repaired as long as I can be in charge of the stealing to insure it is fair".
Trump: "Stealing can be optimized if I am Dicktator-in-chief"
Clinton: "You'll tolerate my theft (for myself and my cronies) because as a Democrat I'll steal some for you too (and not remind you I funded it all by expanding an egregious future debt on your children's back)"

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