On pushing back

I beseech you, gentle reader: abjure the bait of praise and the dread of blame. I can see no other path to recovery from constant retreat in the Culture War. For there is an even better option than the “Benedict” one, currently in fashion among the Catholic genteel. It is to stop sulking, and win the War.

Dysopia (no relation to “dystopia”) will be our Greek word for the day. It is from Aristotle via Plutarch; a term held to be untranslatable into our modern tongues. By the dictionaries it is defined as “the embarrassment that compels us to grant an unjustified request.” The closest we come in English is “compliancy.” They get no closer in German or French. Philemon Holland, in his lively and learned Tudor translation of Plutarch’s essay on this topic (number 96 in the Lamprias catalogue; volume VII in your Loeb Moralia) called it the “unseemlie and naughtie bashfulnesse,” the “foolish and rusticall shamefastnes”; Erasmus in his hammerblow Latin, vitiosa verecundia.

In the traditional opthalmic jargon the Greek word survived with its ancient etymology. It is a defect of vision, triggered by the sight of unpleasant things. The sufferer cannot see what he doesn’t want to see; he gets a pain in his head when he looks. Alas, we have ceased to appreciate that psychological causes spawn physical effects; that a mere eye-roll may induce the dysopic to dissolve. Pills will not cure what requires a goodly will.

So mark it down in your commonplace books, my dears: dysopia. Pour a shot of rum, and swear off it entirely.

Compliant, complaisant, acquiescent. Docile, submissive, ingratiating. Servile, tractable, obsequious. Ever deferential, glad to be of use. This is what my fellow Canadians have become, though we were not in the past, according to my elders (now mostly dead). When unreasonable demands were made upon them, their inclination was to stiffly resist. Ours is to be chumps, patsies, dupes, treacle saps. In our vanity we think that we are “nice” people, and celebrate our own gormlessness.

And that is why what we too mildly call “political correctness” has advanced so far, through barrier after barrier, erected by our ancestors against perversion. It begins with a small minority of fanatics, bent upon turning our world upside down. It continues not by conversion but by dysopia. We look upon those making the demands, and can no longer see what they are, owing to the pain in our heads. We think we can buy peace with concessions. But the devils are encouraged by our every retreat.

“Stand your ground” is the useful American expression. Be not embarrassed into compliance by importunity. Let not the shameful “shame” you. Wear their smearing froth and spittle with some pride. Succumb no more to that unseemlie and naughtie bashfulnesse. Push back hard.