November 22, 2014

June 13, 2013


You win or you die

If I could get “Our Allies” in both the political and Episcopal worlds to get *one political principle* it would be this one.  The continued naive cluelessness from conservatives in our country and in various smaller organizations [like TEC] being eaten alive by revisionist parasite ideas continues to astound me. Most of us simply do not have discernment, and we continue to act “as if” something is not true that is true. That thing is well-described in this political theory article I’ve linked to over at RedState and from which the below is excerpted. Time after time after time, Our Allies act as if our opponents are one way, when in fact they are the other way entirely. You can’t act or think or write or discern effectively when you’ve completely and totally misunderstood the nature of your opponent or his future actions and responses. It’s fine to be beaten. It’s fine to be bloodied. It’s fine to lose. It’s fine to be triumphed over by winning opponents and completely humiliated. It’s even fine [or less awful, anyway] to give up and say “we lose, we will go to our caves now.” But for God’s sake, please don’t be a stupid idiot about the nature of your opponent while you are being beaten to a pulp. If you are going to “get killed” in today’s America, please don’t die saying “but I don’t understand why he’s being so mean to me—I thought the game was a different one than the one I am presently enduring.” You can even say “I surrender and abase myself before you as the victor” but please do not say “what? I thought you were a tolerant and loving person. Why are you hitting and kicking me? I thought we all agreed to play by the rules of a civilized society.”

This article’s explanation of this principle is so important that I won’t be posting a single thing beyond it today.

Those who can accept the horror of the Red Wedding might appreciate the point it makes about the dangers of blind idealism in a brutal world where cosmic justice is not swiftly meted out to villains.  (There are a lot of absolute S.O.B.s still waiting for a comeuppance, several thousand pages into the “Game of Thrones” novels, plus one S.O.B. who seems to be in the process of growing a conscience, and might therefore be best equipped to conquer the world.)  Robb’s downfall involved putting personal satisfaction ahead of his clear duty.  He wanted to seize the throne in a desperate rebellion, but he thought he could bypass some unpleasant realities of the office he assumed.

In a Disney movie, it would all have worked out fine.  The story would have been filled with sympathetic characters who shared the modern audience’s disdain for the instruments of feudal authority, including arranged marriages.  These characters would have been the clear heroes of the story, and they would have prevailed.  Love and tolerance would have conquered all.

Not to overstretch the themes Martin expounds in his books, but there is something for the student of modern politics to glean from the way one character sums up the overall conflict: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”  We don’t literally die when we lose power struggles in the more civilized modern West, and our families are not slaughtered beside us.  Our political culture admires idealism, or at least claims to, and just about every politician presents himself or herself as a deeply principled idealist.

But still… the game has high stakes, and the quest for power has rules – unfair rules, administered differently for the two major American political parties, and every third party that seeks a place on the national stage.  Good intentions do not suspend these rules.  Kind and decent people get chewed up and spit out by the system.  Look at what happened to all those energetic outsider candidates who ran in the 2012 presidential election.  It’s just not enough to be an enthusiastic outsider with some bright ideas.  It is necessary to run a tight race, attend to the ground game, and avoid self-destructive mistakes.

In other words, the requirements of power must still be obeyed.  Those who believe their good intentions or persuasive charisma can change the game tend to suffer for their hubris, even when they are decent people with fine ideas.  It’s even worse when they convince themselves there are some depths their opponents would never sink to, some rules they would never, ever break – the way Robb Stark never dreamed his host would violate the rules of hospitality at a noble wedding.  There’s nothing sadder than the sight of a bewildered candidate standing on the sidelines, waiting for the election “referees” to throw a penalty flag that never comes.


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8 comments

Dear Sarah;

I thought the wonderful folks at Stand Firm might rejoice with me that the Judge
in the TEC lawsuit against St. Paul’s Church in Visalia, CA tossed the TEC Motion For
Summary Judgement.

That means we (the orthodox in Visalia, CA ) live to fight another day.  Not that I
am happy about lawsuits, mind you, but when they come after you they DO come
to slay you…I agree that we win or we die, and so we remain alive!

Blessings to YOU!!

Archdeacon Francie

[1] Posted by Deacon Francie on 6-13-2013 at 05:24 PM · [top]

Awesome news, Deacon Francie!!!

[2] Posted by Sarah on 6-13-2013 at 05:49 PM · [top]

It is indeed awesome news, and it shows that TEC cannot expect to have things their way.  I’m sure there will be more news when it becomes available, but it may take a whle.  In the meantime, congratulations to everyone at St Paul’s!

[3] Posted by cennydd13 on 6-13-2013 at 09:19 PM · [top]

Sarah,

If this theory were an absolute, would not Judge Houck have remanded the Diocese of South Carolina case to federal court? Judge Houck was rumored to be personally sympathetic to TEC and some people had expressed misgivings that he would support those with whom he identified politically, regardless of the law. Instead he “played by the rules.”

[4] Posted by Jeremy Bonner on 6-14-2013 at 02:32 AM · [top]

Hi Jeremy—I’ve always distinguished between revisionists [or liberals] and revisionist activists.

The world is filled with people with whom I don’t agree!

But the nature of *the opponents*—that is, the activists—is entirely different from your average ordinary everyday revisionist.  Anybody familiar with TEC, for instance, knows the difference between the two groups.

And in regards to the revisionist activist—they’re not honorable, honest, civilized, or whatever other positive adjective you want to use and that conservatives continually imagine and under which they operate. 

Take—just as one example—the theory that some of the TEC bishops operated under who were in the “reconciliation process” of TEC—until they realized what it was *really* all about.

Heh.

Heh heh.

You win or you die.

[5] Posted by Sarah on 6-14-2013 at 06:21 AM · [top]

“The continued naive cluelessness from conservatives in our country and in various smaller organizations [like TEC] being eaten alive by revisionist parasite ideas continues to astound me. Most of us simply do not have discernment, and we continue to act “as if” something is not true that is true…. Time after time after time, Our Allies act as if our opponents are one way, when in fact they are the other way entirely. You can’t act or think or write or discern effectively when you’ve completely and totally misunderstood the nature of your opponent or his future actions and responses.”

Sarah,

Thanks so much. I think you’ve nailed it.

With recent developments regarding Boy Scouts, I’ve been trying to come up with the right words to express my rejection of not only the homosexual activist agenda (normalizing the perverse; blessing the sin; which is - or ought to be - perfectly obvious to anyone), but primarily my disgust with the national leadership of the BSA (and its dishonest/deceitful “listening exercise”). And I am especially struck by the number of conservative religious writers that I have read (oh so thoughtful, oh so careful, oh so compassionate, oh so reasonable sounding all) who see this first concession on membership standards as reasonable and acceptable and who think we should “take the national leadership at its word” that the situation will go this far, but no further.


“But my concern is not with open and direct opponents [like Mr. Huxley]; but with all whom I might have once looked to defend the country of the Christian altars. They ought surely to know that the foe now on the frontiers offers no terms of compromise; but threatens a complete destruction. And they have sold the pass.”

Chesterton - The Surrender Upon Sex

[6] Posted by robertf on 6-14-2013 at 07:50 AM · [top]

I’ve noticed another problem among conservatives who take the ‘Win or Die’ maxim to heart.  There can be a naive conclusion to the effect, “Well, if I’m not dead, and I’m doing something, then I must be winning.”  Consequently, a thoughtful consideration of the path to winning, tends to get neglected. 

For example - suppose a young person aspires to be the Christian writer to change Hollywood.  That’s a big task - but is it so big that the daily discipline of keeping a journal, could be neglected?

And I’ve hurt myself in my own life in this regard.  After playing freshman football at a public school, I transferred to a private school my sophomore year.  I didn’t play JV in 10th grade.  In 11th grade, I looked around and saw that some of the JV players had graduated to the varsity squad.  I too wanted to be on the varsity squad, so I entered that squad.  My coaches were confused at my decision not to spend a year on JV, but tolerated me.  I had the priveledge of working out on hot August afternoons, and a couple of hours each day after school .. and my coaches made the JV/Varsity distinction for me, every game.  I got to play, what?  In a half dozen or so plays during my junior and senior years? 

But hey, I got to play on the Varsity Squad.  I played varsity .. I just didn’t play football all that much.  wink

That was me in high-school.  In adulthood, I’ve “graduated” from such approaches to achievement.  But I see other grown-ups doing the same thing, all the time. 

I’m a fan of the phase-gate approach.  There’s room for the benefits of both creativity and discipline. 

Perhaps the maxim should be, “Achieve, or Die.”  “Win” means you get to spike the football.  “Achieve” means you can’t spike the ball, but you have to continue doing everything else.

[7] Posted by J Eppinga on 6-14-2013 at 10:01 AM · [top]

You are absolutely right, and it applies in business, in law, in the Church, in all of life. When I was in the oil business, I used to be criticized by some folks, who usually lost the battles, that I was ruthless. But I usually won, and I won fairly, but I took advantage of all the rules, and I didn’t give away anything. We have to do that in the Church, and for sure in politics. And we have to call the RINOs what they are, and quit letting them call the shots for us!
desert padre

[8] Posted by desertpadre on 6-14-2013 at 11:50 AM · [top]

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