David French and the Train that Already Left the Station

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So David French has written on the Kyle Rittenhouse situation here. His central concern is that he wants Christians to do a better job respecting the social compact we have here in America, and is concerned that those Christians who have rallied to the support of Kyle Rittenhouse are failing in this important duty. In addition, he also believes that we are violating our social compact if we support Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who brandished guns in front of their home, or John MacArthur in his failure to have his congregation mask up and/or socially distance.

This discussion is a crucial one for conservatives to work through (what is it exactly that we are conserving again?), and so I thank David French for a splendid kick off to what promises to be a robust game. We do have a disagreement, but the difference is not with our shared (conservative) assumptions about the importance of the social compact. The difference would come in what we believe has already happened to it. The difference would come in that David French thinks there is still time to catch the train, and I believe that the train has already left the station. We agree in thinking that it would certainly be nice to be on the train.

The Situation As It Is

The problem is that a social compact can be broken by one side or the other, and quite possibly by both. And if that social compact can be broken from either side, it is also a live possibility that this has already happened. Has it?

Perhaps it is the case that Kyle Rittenhouse was breaking the social compact. Or perhaps his actions were a natural response to the fact that the rioters were breaking the social compact. Remember that the Wisconsin governor was the one who refused federal assistance in quelling the riots. Perhaps the governor was breaking the social compact by allowing the rioters to burn down all those businesses. What are the responsibilities of decent citizens when they are standing in the smoking ruins of a social compact? Perhaps rioters can burn down more than businesses. Perhaps they can burn down the moral legitimacy of those who lay claim to political authority. Perhaps social compacts are flammable.

And John MacArthur? Let us grant the possibility that he was breaking the social compact. But maybe California blew up the compact when it insisted on masking mandates for churches, but allowed for all those virus-free BLM protests. When pot shops and abortion clinics were declared “essential,” and churches not, is it conceivable that this had some kind of impact on the social compact? When the Supreme Court said okay to casinos but not to churches, is it a possibility that they threw the compact into the compacter? And does Pelosi’s hair salon visit have anything to do with the legitimacy of the social compact?

Here in Moscow, where the citizens are still toiling under a tedious and most unnecessary masking mandate, our mayor, the source of our troubles, feels free to dispense with the masking requirement himself, as it suits him. And this brings us a whole new meaning for BLM — Bill Lambert Matters.

There is a real debate to be had between Christians about how much authority the civil magistrates have when they sincerely believe we are in a state of emergency. Now even under those conditions I want them subject to pre-published standards, and not to be issuing diktats on the basis of the latest hot rumor. But be that as it may, there is at least a debate to be had when the authorities actually believe there is a crisis. But we all agree, do we not, that authorities who are clamping down on the populace, when they themselves believe there is no crisis, is nothing other than an abuse of authority. And when authority is abused in this way, over an extended period of time, it does something to the social compact.

So perhaps MacArthur is not breaking any social compact when he simply takes the mandate with the same level of seriousness as our governing officials do. So MacArthur doesn’t believe there is a pandemic? So what? Neither does Gov. Newsom.

Zooming Out

We are not just talking about abuse of authority. We are talking about abuse of authority for naked political and partisan advantage.

For the protection of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, government is instituted. Government is not instituted so that we may have an entity to grant us these rights — for we already have them from God — but rather government is instituted in order to protect these rights.

Now what has happened over the course of the last six months or so? Who exactly has violated the social compact? The people or our ruling elites?

Let us consider the question in a couple of broad strokes. Starting in March, we have had a massive series of totally unnecessary lock downs that have resulted in the destruction of over a hundred thousand small businesses. That was done, not by the virus, but by our governments. In other words, a set of local emergencies were transformed into a global catastrophe by governmental action. And by “action,” I am referring to overweening ineptitude.

Now this was done, it can be plausibly argued, for the sake of partisan political advantage. Donald Trump was not going to be allowed to go into the November election with an economy that was blowing down the road. That would have resulted in an undesirable outcome, to wit, the reelection of Donald Trump. So, in order to accomplish their political designs, your small business, and a hundred thousand others like it, were soaked in lighter fluid and set off.

The businesses that were torched later by rioters were just a handy metaphor for what the government had already done, and on a much grander scale. And pagan rulers have done this kind of thing for centuries. When Nero burned down Rome, it was for the sake of a grand scheme he had for the rebuild. And this is the point in the argument where, when people don’t want to face the obvious facts, they try to dismiss such observations with a dismissive laugh. They call me a “right winger.” I prefer to think of myself as someone with eyes in my head. I may not be able to see everything, but I can see an attempted Cultural Revolution.

You think our modern “betters” aren’t trying to foist their vision for the world on us? They are not taking advantage of this fraudemic to further their agenda? I would invite you, in cordial tones, to get a load of this missive, brought to you by the United Nations. Just the other day they said this.

So we had a massive violation of the social compact by our leaders in their response to the virus. There were some local emergencies, but they blew it out of all proportion. They violated the social compact by treating the coronavirus as a much bigger thing than it actually was, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. They made it as big as they said it was.

But wait. We’re not done. So then we were confronted by a series of true emergencies — riots that destroyed significant parts of a number of American cities — Minneapolis, Portland, New York, and somewhere else near you. These riots were aided, abetted, encouraged, and/or not restrained by civil government, and also for the sake of partisan political advantage.

When David French talked about the Declaration of Independence, this was an acknowledgment of precisely the reality of this sort of thing. Because of a “long train of usurpations” on the part of the crown, the colonists declared themselves to be free of any further obligations to the crown. The problem is that George III wasn’t nearly as bad as the people running things now.

Now when you look at governmental actions, you always have to budget for, and allow for, simple incompetence. And simple incompetence, or exasperating delays, are not a violation of the social compact. But when you look at the inflamed political climate we are in, and you look at the irrational hatred of Trump, and you look at how much damage to their own economies our civil leaders were willing to impose, for the sake of getting at Trump, and how much of their own cities they were willing for out-of-control rioters to burn down, also for the sake of “owning” Trump, it is hard to escape the conclusion that if anybody was violating the social compact in all this, it wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse.

Like David French, I am not adjudicating all the details of what happened to Kyle that night. But from what we know so far, to have him sitting in jail charged with murder, and to have the people who burned the city down still running around loose, is a situation with a name. It is called violation of the social compact.

And you can’t carry water for it without getting a lot more of the same. As the meme says, at some point civil war stuff starts to happen.