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Treason



*

You’ve doubtless noticed a tendency towards contrived language on the contemporary left, here are three examples:


  • Confederates are referred to as “traitors”—as in “the Republicans refuse to rename this county, even though it was named for a Confederate traitor”;

  • “Red Scare in reverse”—so the left goes on and on about “the Russian threat”, “Russian infiltration”, and “Trump’s links to Putin’s Russia”;

  • During Brexit, Remain posters that featured Churchill, complete with the slogan, “Brits don’t quit”.


When I hear people speak this way I can picture a metal sheet, perhaps made from aluminium, twist inside my head until it rips. That’s what it feels like to me. The language is twisted in the literal sense.


So far as I can tell, though I tend to the view “nothing new under the sun”, for the left to use language in this way is novel. The left didn’t attempt this linguistic tactic 30 or 40 years ago (and it is a recognisable tactic that you yourself know but we’ll see if you can guess from where before I get to it).


It feels wrong because it appeals to the concept “treason”. When I was a teenager, I went to an anti-war protest against the war in Iraq—it was outside Downing Street and someone had a megaphone and they asked for slogans to shout, so I said, “Tony Blair, traitor!”. They started to chant that, but, within minutes, a woman, who was actually a leader in CND, the major co-sponsor for the rally, ran down the line and said, “Who’s chanting that?! Who’s chanting that?!”.


The reason why she didn’t want that chanted is because the left doesn’t recognise the concept “treason”. This is because the left itself is, even when attenuated, treason—it suggests there is no in-group, everyone in the world is the same; and if that is true who is there to betray?


The whole idea extends right down into social issues—so the left doesn’t believe in marriage, because it means a man owns a woman; and so there can’t be betrayal in marriage either—“free love”, right? Just like they used to say in the 1900s—everyone belongs to each other and it’s “no big deal”.

So “treason” is a rightist concept—its counterpart is loyalty; and it’s no surprise a woman was angered by my slogan—women don’t understand loyalty. If you want to get down to it, what was the motto of the SS? “Loyalty is my honour”. Sums it up, really—honour is not a concept leftists value either (it’s too metaphysical, too religious—and also, at base, too masculine; it’s the idea a man who can’t keep his word is repulsive—whereas nobody expects a woman to keep her word, that’s her prerogative).


So the reason it sounds wrong when the left starts to talk about “treason” is that it cuts against what the left is. The reason the left is so fissiparous, why there are twelve Trotskyist splinter cells, is that people who set out to be disloyal to the in-group are also disloyal to each other—hence the notorious tendency found in revolutions for the revolution to “eat its own”.


**


So it makes sense for a Confederate officer to talk about “honour” and “treason”—it makes no sense for a contemporary progressive to talk about “honour” and “treason”. The situation is complicated in America because the country was founded upon successful treason. And, as the saying goes, “When treason prospers none dare call it treason.”

The tension was revealed in a recent encounter between President Biden and King Charles where someone said that it would be “awkward” for Biden—this was met by the response, “Biden is the most powerful man in the world, commands the world’s most powerful armed forces, and Charles is not as powerful etc etc. So it’s not awkward at all.”

But that wasn’t the point—it’s the whole context, the “awkwardness” derives from the fact that America originates from the British Crown, that the office of President is an imitation and perversion of the office of the English king, and that Charles has moral authority in the end (the power of tradition and continuity that Biden lacks, i.e. he’s “the real thing”, the real king). The whole dynamic is “Colonial Governor reports back to Whitehall”, no matter what the formal relation is.


I don’t think the Confederates were traitors, at least not so far as context goes. I don’t refer to the legal sense here but rather to the conceptual sense—which is what matters really, because lawyers can come up with any justification they want in the end. So America was founded on the principle: “If the governed judge that the system under which they live operates without their consent (i.e. has become a tyranny) they may leave it (exit).” And that idea comes from Locke, was formalised by him—government is a contract between people and governors.


Within that framework, to want to leave the Union is in line with the principles upon which the United States was founded and so cannot be “treason” to America, it is to stay true to the principles of the American Revolution (your loyalty as an American is, remember, to the Constitution and not to an individual)—of course, there can be no objective test as to whether or not your desire to “break the contract” is justified; and, in practice, the only test is if you win or not. The Founding Fathers won, so could claim it was a justified breaking of the contract with a tyrant—the Confederates lost and so it could not be so.

Ultimately, the contractual view calls into question the concept “treason” tout court—you swear loyalty to your king but, in this view, your loyalty only extends so far as you judge he has not become a tyrant (neglected the consent of the governed). As a Cavalier might say, “Sah! That is a damned loose notion of loyalty—like some wench in a Soho stew.” He’d have a point—really, once you get into the “contractual” view loyalty doesn’t come into it.

Indeed, the Constitution narrowed the definition of treason as it had been established in the English common law since the 1300s—so that it no longer included “imagining or compassing the death of Our Lord the King”. The narrow definition found within the Constitution reflects the fact that the Founding Fathers had a guilty conscience—and so had to redefine treason in its narrowest sense so that their actions could not be construed as such. America is a country where the idea of treason is minimised or disappears—hence it sounds ridiculous when the American left uses the term.


***

So the contractual view is too theoretical. It creates too many hypothetical circumstances where “consent” has been overridden. Basically, if I say to you, “I’m as loyal to you as far as I judge you haven’t overridden my consent,” you begin to suspect that that amounts to no loyalty at all. The word loyalty itself is, as it happens, etymologically derived from “high quality, honesty, and legitimacy”—it comes as a package.


You have heard of “high treason” and have perhaps wondered about “low treason”—well, low treason was when a servant killed his master; just as high treason was when you killed the king. So you see that it was all related right down society—it came as a whole. Betray king, betray master, betray husband.

The right often calls for “apprenticeships” to be brought back but it’s futile, in a democracy you’re not allowed to indenture a young person to a master (to be compelled to be loyal to him—it makes no sense to say “the young brigand committed low treason against his master” since “high treason” barely exists either, isn’t even a capital offence anymore, when it was once the capital offence).


So it’s no surprise that we live an age where there are constant outcries around “consent”—often stimulated by feminism but, in fact, general. The American Revolution was about consent—the Founding Fathers felt “raped” by George III (and if you want to get into it, perhaps the Saxons remembered literal Norman rape—hence the Lockean Saxon uprising against the Norman aristocracy, as was the English Civil War).

It was the South, basically Cavalier in nature and organisation, that adhered to the old values around “treason”, “honour”, and “loyalty”—it was always an anomaly within the Union because its values were really the values the revolution was made against; hence it had to be extirpated. From the Union perspective, aristocratic ideas like “honour”, “loyalty”, and “treason” don’t come into it—their values were more about “consent” and a fanatical religious devotion to universal equality.


“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

That said, there was enough of the residual “honour” view left, on both sides, when the Civil War concluded for it to be agreed that there would be “peace with honour”—which is why you have counties named after Confederate war heroes; and that would have not caused bitterness, not in the Union Army at least, because it was recognised that “the war was over, peace had been concluded, and whatever was done we recognise the valour on both sides”.


This view, “worthy opponents”, is itself aristocratic. What has happened is that the Civil War marked the end of the 1st Republic—and we are now on the 3rd Republic, a mass democratic empire driven by fanatical beliefs. For the ordinary American leftist, indoctrinated into spiteful and vulgar Tarantino films, rooted in revenge, the South is “total evil” that must be razed from history. The whole residual aristocratic view found in Union officers which would have said “General Lee was a magnificent soldier and a gentleman” has vanished—it’s an apolitical view, “He did his duty no matter his personal views about slavery”.


This is because democracies are mob-driven, fanatical, and filled with spite. The idea that there could be a “gentleman’s respect” between two sides, that a war wouldn’t be totally driven by political beliefs—as with the wars of the 20th century—has become incomprehensible to the population. The whole worldview that supported that approach has vanished, vanished in the era of total war.


To pick another example: in the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington, commander of the British armies, went down to examine a French bridge on his own—the French sentries shot at him but their officer stopped them, chastised them, and then apologised to Wellington. You see, it was “unsporting” to shoot at the enemy if he was on his own—whereas if there had been three men with him it would have been fair game.


If you look at the current war in the Ukraine—any war in the 20th century—the attitude taken by the French officer seems absurdly quaint (you’re meant to just machine-gun the “cockroach” on sight—women, children, whatever it’s all “the vile enemy”); and, of course, it’s that very attitude—the fanaticism—that lies behind the desire to pull down the monuments to “the traitors”.

****


So “treason” is a crime in an aristocratic system, so it makes no sense for the left to dub its enemies “traitors”. When it is said it always sounds hollow—it’s an attempt to gas-light the right, to use their own language against them. Yet the complaint about the South wasn’t their “treason”—the complaint was their failure to treat men as equals (which is at odds with loyalty, if loyalty means to find high-quality men who are more distinguished than others).


Why is “treason” used in such a convoluted way? In one respect, I think it’s due to the left’s power in the West today—it’s the regnant view, so it feels it can pick up on the language of authority. If you disagree with proxy war on Russia, you’re a “traitor”—yet it never really fits. If you look at the language used by the Soviets, “betrayal of the revolution” was used but more common were epithets like “anti-people element” or “reactionary wrecker”—the left is more at home when it calls someone a “racist” or a “sexist” than it is calling them a “traitor”.

There is no “Putinism”—if somebody supports Putin in the West today it’s because they admire him as a man and for his practical actions, not because, as with a Communist circa 1948, they believe in the “Soviet idea” (and would believe regardless of who is in power). It was the fanaticism found in Communism that was dangerous, just like the woke today—it was a fanaticism that would cause people to, um, betray their countries (there is no “Putinism” to betray America for).


Leftists and de facto leftists—by which I mean people who don’t live in reality, carry on as if nothing has changed in Russia—pretend that “it’s still the Cold War” even though the sides have swapped (i.e. in relative terms, Russia is now to the right of America).


The hope is to gull the duller conservative voters into the some half-remembered Red Dawn Reaganite enthusiasm for war on Russia; but anyone with half an eye open can see that in relative terms it’s the Americans who have deviated from reality, just as the Soviets had deviated up to the 1980s. So we have this inverted copy of the “Red Scare” that is not quite sincere—for the people who speak about it are internationalists like the Soviets, and are not actuated by a fear of “traitors”.


This brings us to the second factor: the left’s tendency to copy and invert—that is, to be evil (to copy and invert is also a feminine characteristic). The Western left is very feminised, very decadent—it’s not “the iron man Stalin”—so it does work in the style of a teenager who says, “You go out with dad to a restaurant on Friday night so I can go out to a Slasher concert, it’s the same thing—this is so unfair.”


That’s where you recognise it from, it’s a teenager’s contrived attempt to twist round one particular anodyne action through superficial comparison and try to argue “therefore, what I want to do, being identical to what you do, is normal and so you must let me do it”. And it works about as well as any such attempts do with parents (not at all)—the Slasher concert is not a dinner at a restaurant, Putin’s Russia is not the Soviet Union.

What’s more telling is that adults actually deploy the same argument style today—then again, we’re an adolescent society; we’re not infants, we’re adolescents (adolescents are both narcissistic and think they are more clever than they are—which sums up both the Western left and the West in general).

Again, you just don’t see this childishness on the left if you look back 30 or 40 years ago—at least not at the top levels. It reflects a general degeneration in all Western politics—the fact people just can’t argue properly and resort to crude emotional manipulation (and that includes the right, though it’s not as severe).


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1 Comment


rpius
Jul 16, 2023

"if I say to you, “I’m as loyal to you as far as I judge you haven’t overridden my consent,” you begin to suspect that that amounts to no loyalty at all." While perhaps such an attitude is too mercenary, I think it does contain an important truth. Be it William of Orange or the Kenmu Restoration of the Japanese Emperor, there is no such thing as total loyalty. William of Orange professed loyalty to the Spanish throne while leading rebellion against it, the samurai who restored Emperor Go-Daigo to temporal power overthrew him when he started talking about abolishing their class. Obviously, true loyalty should mean sallying out for King George or Napoleon, even if the timing is inconvenient, eve…

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