Today, I’m going to compare and contrast the two sides in the big battle of our times. I call them Convivials and Politicals. Much of what I say today, I’ve already said in earlier essays. What is new, though, is how I choose to organize it. Think, if you will, of a large, milling mass of people, which re-arranges itself before your eyes into two opposing armies.
The word “convivial” means living together, and in particular living together well. Convivials, or convivial people, conduct themselves in a convivial way. Convivial conduct is treating others peacefully, tolerantly, honestly and civilly, and respecting their rights – as long, of course, as they do the same for you. It is the habitual behaviour of those who are, generally speaking, good people to have around you. It can be summed up as: “Don’t be an asshole.”
The word “politicals,” on the other hand, is one I haven’t used before. I’ve often referred to some of them loosely as “the political class.” But I also include as “politicals” those that hang on to the coat-tails of the political class. Politicals are those that promote, support or take profit from damaging, unjust or rights-violating policies of political governments. They include those that seek to impose ideological, religious or lifestyle agendas on others; to unjustly enrich themselves or their cronies; or to use government power to get away with acts that, objectively, are crimes.
Many people today, it’s fair to say, are not fully on one side or the other. Yet most have a bias. Those towards the convivial side are basically good people, who have not yet recognized the magnitude or the seriousness of what the politicals are doing to them. Those towards the other side, while they may have only some, or only a few, of the characteristics of politicals which I list below, nevertheless support the politicals, if only through voting for them.
So, what are the characteristics of convivial people?
If there is one thing above all else that typifies convivial people, it is that they use what Franz Oppenheimer called the economic means. I have paraphrased this as “honest work and fair exchange.” Convivial people strive, as far as they are able, to provide goods and services, for which others are voluntarily willing to pay.
As to their aspirations, convivials usually follow a rule such as: “desire for others what you desire for yourself.” Wanting to live in peace, they desire peace for all. Wanting success, prosperity and happiness, and being willing to earn them, they desire success, prosperity and happiness for all those who earn them. Wanting freedom, they desire maximum freedom for all, consistent with respecting the rights of other convivial people. Being honest themselves, convivials put a high value on honesty. Many also value progress and innovation.
Convivials have, for the most part, the mind-set of the people to whom, in an earlier essay, I gave the name “Uppers.” They take a bottom-up approach to the world. Knowing that they are individuals, and thus different from everyone else, they seek to be tolerant of those who differ from them; for example, in race or culture. They will also tolerate people of differing religious views; as long, of course, as they show similar tolerance in return.
Whenever they can, convivial people take an attitude of live and let live. In particular, they will never seek to force any political ideology, religious dogma, economic injustice, or unreasonable lifestyle restriction on anyone against their wills. Nor will they give support or encouragement to anyone that seeks to force any such imposition on anyone.
Convivials respect truth. When making judgements, particularly those which impact other people, they like to seek out the truth of the matter. They value objective evidence, and seek to avoid being influenced by rhetorical tricks. They value means of seeking truths, such as good science. And they try their hardest to avoid lying to or misleading others.
In ethics, convivials tend to think of right and wrong as being objective, even if it may be hard to work out what is right or wrong in particular cases. They are naturally peaceful, unless attacked. They think of everyone as morally equal; no-one should have moral privileges over others. Recognizing that rights come from our nature as human beings, they respect and uphold the natural human rights and freedoms of others, provided of course that those others reciprocate. And they have respect and concern for all their fellow convivial human beings.
Convivials strive always to be honest, to behave with integrity, and to act in good faith. Whenever possible, they will try to keep the promises they have made. They also take responsibility for the effects of their voluntary actions on others. If they unjustly harm others, they know they are obliged to compensate their victims. Moreover, convivials take responsibility for guiding their own lives. And they strive to be as independent as they can be.
They will also desire justice for everyone; and justice must be according to the conduct of each individual. Thus those, who don’t do harm to others, deserve not to be harmed. And those that do unjust harms to others cannot complain if they themselves are correspondingly harmed in return.
As to government, convivials want it to be for the benefit of the governed. And that means, for the benefit of everyone among the governed, real criminals excepted. They will want government to be honest, impartial, and objective, and to follow the rule of law. They will want it to deliver objective justice to everyone, as far as that is possible. And they will be against war and warlike actions, except in self-defence, or at need in defence of others who are under attack.
In economics, convivials favour honest business and industry. They want low taxes and unfettered access to the market for all. They want property rights to be upheld. They want individuals and voluntary groups to be in control of their own means of production. They want investment decisions to be made privately, by individuals and by voluntary groups. And they favour economic growth, leading to better lives for all those who are willing to earn. And most of all, for those who are poor through no fault of their own.
Unconvivial, disconvivial, criminal, political
As I made clear in an earlier essay, even the most convivial people, on occasions, act in ways that are not convivial. As long as these unconvivial acts do not go too far, they can be dealt with by mutual tolerance; “live and let live,” if you will. Beyond this, if an act causes significant and unjust harm to someone, an obligation to compensate kicks in. However, if an unconvivial act is gross, malicious, irresponsible beyond the bounds of reason or persistently repeated, stronger action may be required against the perpetrator. Such acts I call disconvivial.
In today’s legal systems, the equivalent of disconvivial is “criminal.” Many acts considered criminal by governments – such as murder, aggressive violence, theft and fraud – are, indeed, disconvivial acts. These are real crimes, as opposed to merely disobeying “laws” made to enforce some political agenda. And many of those, that commit real crimes, show psychopathic tendencies. Such as: lying, deceit, recklessness, untrustworthiness, lack of empathy, lack of remorse.
But today’s political system also allows state or government actors, those that agitate for or support bad policies, and their cronies that profit from them, to get away with disconvivial acts. Things, that if done by ordinary people would be considered crimes, are seen as OK when done by the state, or by those to whom it grants privileges. Spying on people, hyping a non-problem with intent to procure political action, re-distributing wealth, or big business lobbying government for favours, for example. I call these acts political acts. Those that commit political acts often show arrogance and extreme dishonesty, in addition to the other psychopathic traits of common criminals. And they seek to use the immunity of the state to evade accountability. So, they are acting in bad faith.
Politicals, as I said earlier, are those that promote, support or take profit from damaging, unjust or rights-violating policies of political governments. One trait common to many of them, is that they use Franz Oppenheimer’s political means. That is, legalized robbery; often including feeding at the taxpayer trough. On the other hand, many that are not directly paid by government are nonetheless politicals. Examples are crony corporate bosses (“political capitalists,” as I now call them) and their henchpersons; lobbyists; and agenda pushers in academe and in the media.
Unlike convivials, who all share a basic core of peacefulness, tolerance, honesty and civility, politicals fall into a number of sub-types, which may overlap. There are Bullies. There are Killjoys. There are Bossies, officious and overbearing, wanting to order people around. There are Power-grabbers, always looking to get themselves more of the trappings of power. There are Greedies, seeking power to make themselves and their friends rich. There are Guilt-trippers, that take delight in trying to make people feel guilty for just about anything. There are Snoopers. There are Meddlers, that love to interfere, to regulate, to restrict. There are Enviers; haters of success, and of people who earn it. There are Wasters, that favour huge projects that consume enormous amounts of other people’s resources; while taking their own cut, of course. There are Thieves. There are Dirty-tricksters. There are Troublemakers and Obstructers, that love to put obstacles in others’ way, to make people’s lives more difficult than they need be. There are Stop-the-Worlders, that hate human flourishing and progress; they form the backbone of the green movement. There are Agenda-pushers and Peddlers of lies, scares and “fake news.” And there are Rationalizers or Bullshitters, that do what their name says.
It might seem, at first sight, that all government employees are politicals, if only because they are paid out of taxation. And surely, those government employees that use their work time to promote, support or enforce policies that damage or violate the rights of innocent people, are politicals. But there do exist people who provide a valuable service, yet under current conditions have no other possible employer than government. Honest, non-politicized judges, magistrates and court officials fall into this category. As do honest police, and soldiers whose acts are of an entirely defensive or retaliatory nature.
There are also those, who work in professions which have been largely taken over by the state, such as teachers. With all such people, the question to ask must be: Do they strive to deliver full value to those who have been made to pay for them? If so, they’re OK.
What of politicians? In theory someone, who has gone into politics purely with the intention of making life better for all the people they represent, might be a convivial rather than a political. But in practice, such individuals are rare. Today’s systems of politics and political parties are so corrupting, that even those who enter politics with the highest motives usually end up becoming corrupted. So, the great majority of today’s politicians are politicals.
As to mind-set, most politicals seem to think like those I’ve called “Downers.” Their world-view is top-down. They are collectivists, seeing something they call “society” as more important than the individual. So, they are often intolerant of people who are different from them. They often show dislike or even hatred for those whose political views differ from their own. And instead of “live and let live,” they seek to force their agendas on others.
Politicals seem to have little or no respect for objective truth. Some, even, think that there are no facts. Much of the time, they disdain facts in favour of peddling their narratives and propaganda. And they will mislead, bullshit, insult or threaten those who refuse to accept their narratives.
They also seem to have little or no ethical sense. They think that right and wrong are subjective, or relative to a culture. Many of them see nothing wrong in using aggressive violence or war. Instead of accepting moral equality, they follow George Orwell’s “some animals are more equal than others.” And they, of course, are the ones that are more equal. If they accept any idea of human rights at all, they think these rights are not natural, but are granted by governments, and can be taken away. And far from showing empathy or concern for others, they like to control, exploit and bully people.
Politicals are, almost without exception, dishonest. They frequently lie, deceive, mislead, obfuscate, or seek to suppress the truth. They create problems that are not real, or hype them to make them seem bigger than they really are. They are often hypocrites, exhorting others to behave in one way, while themselves behaving in quite another. They break their promises without shame. They take risks with others’ money, and even with people’s lives. They are often glib and arrogant, seek to evade responsibility, and show no remorse. And many of them seem to have a constant need to virtue signal. All this, they do in bad faith.
For many politicals, politics is about imposing their agendas and ideologies on others. Such as: conservatism (social or religious), socialism, communism, fascism, political correctness, environmentalism or global government. So, they want the state Leviathan to grow ever larger and larger. They want it to pick winners and losers; as long, of course, as they themselves are always winners. They seem to think that, just because some bunch of politicians get together and make a “law,” that makes that “law” right. And they seek to silence, and to punish, anyone who gainsays their narratives. They show no concern at all for the innocent people, to whom their policies cause inconvenience, damage, suffering, or loss of opportunity. Meanwhile, they like to extol the virtues of “democracy,” but they only accept the verdict of “the people” when their side wins.
Politicals have little or no concept of individual, objective justice. Instead, many promote some nebulous “social justice.” In essence, they aim to steal from productive people, take a big cut for themselves, and re-distribute the rest to their cronies and to those whose support they seek.
As to the economy, most of today’s politicals hate honest business and industry. They hate small businesses and productive individuals. They hate private ownership of the means of production, commonly called “capitalism.” Yet, they make exceptions for their big corporate and banking cronies. They are against the free market, and pooh-pooh economic growth. They don’t want anyone to be rich or even well off, except themselves and their friends. And many of them support the deep green agenda, that actively seeks to destroy the industrial civilization which has been such a great benefit to us over the last two centuries and more.
Convivials versus politicals
Here’s the battle scene. On one side, there are the politicals. They do look a bit like an army. They have many officers and “leaders,” that want to set themselves above the others; though they also like to squabble with each other. Many of them are in uniform; whether pin-stripe suits, or police uniforms, or the kind of dress typically worn by middle-aged women in government. There is a perceptible sameness about many of them. They all like, and profit from, the current political system. And they don’t want to give up their privileges.
On the other side are the convivials. They don’t look like an army at all. While they do include some capable of leadership, they have no visible generals or colonels. Each of them is an individual. They are of all races, religions, cultures, social classes, shapes and sizes. Their dress ranges from suits, through casual, to industrial wear like boiler suits. At present, they are less numerous than the politicals. But their numbers are increasing, as more and more people come, oh so slowly, to understand how badly the politicals have been, and are, treating them.
The politicals are aware that the people on the other side are unhappy, and are starting to get angry. But they think of those people as “marks” – prospective victims – or even “deplorables.” And they want to crush them. On the other hand, the people in the convivial “army” merely want to get on with their lives in their own way. More and more, they are losing respect for politics, and for anyone that uses it for their own ends. So, they want the politicals off their backs.
Humans versus Neanderthals
It looks like a mismatch, doesn’t it? The politicals have everything going for them: power, money, organization, media, and many approving supporters. The convivials have no power, little or no money, no or little organization, few supporters as yet, and only a very small media presence, virtually all of it on the Internet.
And yet, and yet… the politicals seem worried. Recall Frank Furedi’s words, that I quoted in an earlier essay: “… most leaders find it difficult to believe in anything other than a scary future.” Recall the politicals’ constant harping on about “sustainability.” Could it be, that they know that the current political system – their system – is unsustainable? Recall the desires of deep green activists to curb, and eventually to destroy, our industrial civilization. Could it be that they, the politicals, could not survive in a free-market civilization without politics? Recall their screams of “there are too many humans on the planet!” Could it be, that their top-down political system inevitably fails when the number of people involved becomes large? After all, a plausible theory says the Neanderthals died out because they couldn’t live in larger groups as effectively as homo sapiens could. Recall, also, the politicals’ hue and cry about “species extinction.” Could it be that – like Neanderthals and homo sapiens – politicals and convivials have diverged into two species? Could it be their species, the political species, that is in danger of extinction? Could it be that homo sapiens convivalis is about to supersede homo sapiens politicus, just as homo sapiens once superseded homo neanderthalensis?
I spoke, earlier, of an “army” of convivial people, who are already aware of what the politicals have done to them. Their numbers are increasing; but, at the moment, slowly. The strategy for convivial people is, therefore, plain as a pikestaff. Get the message out there. Help people to see the politicals for what they are – criminals and worse. Help them to see that today’s politicals are not fit to be accepted into any society of convivial human beings. And that those among them, that have set out their stall to destroy human industrial civilization, are traitors to our civilization, and deserve to be kicked out of our civilization and denied all its benefits. Help more and more people to identify the individuals that are politicals, and to dump them.
Can some of the politicals, perhaps, save themselves – just as, if the genome evidence is to be believed, a few of the Neanderthals did? Surely. All they have to do is reform themselves, start to behave and continue to behave as convivial people, and fully compensate all those they wronged. But until they have done all that, no human being has any obligation to treat them as anything more than criminal vermin. The motto, I think, must be: “No forgiveness without compensation.”
I will end with words of John Locke, who said, of the human being under the law of Nature: “He and all the rest of mankind are one community, make up one society distinct from all other creatures. And were it not for the corruption and viciousness of degenerate men, there would be no need of any other, no necessity that men should separate from this great and natural community, and associate into lesser combinations.”
Does Locke not tell us where we should be heading? Today’s politicals are corrupt, vicious, degenerate men – and women. Let’s get rid of them and their politics. Let’s get rid of arbitrary borders, political agendas, bad laws, wars, injustices and re-distributory taxes. Then, and only then, can we return to our nature, and build a world-wide Civilization of convivial human beings.