[ExI] hero worship

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 14:37:30 UTC 2020

There are a few things to unpack here. First though not necessarily most important is I mentioned 'national heroes,' which are not needed, IMO, so much in general as to inspire people to feel in nationalistic ways. And those ways are often quite bad, if history is any guide. National heroes often arise and are supported by national elites to check internal and external threats to their dominance. Of course, they then take on a life of their own.

That brings me to the second point. I do recognize most people either need or think they need a hero. And the national hero tends to plug into that need (or supposed need). That's why it's effective at all; why its stuck around.

I'm not sure I see whitewashed heroes as reasonable -- save in the praxeological sense that they serve a purpose like any human action. (In that sense, the person doing a rain dance is rational: she believes it really will rain and that's why she's doing said dance. But, as we know, rain dances don't cause rain, FWIW.)

Regarding how people take these national heroes, there are two problems. One is that if anyone points to the facts or has a more balanced perspective on said hero, then there's often a strong negative reaction to that person. This is what is seen here, no? This can be a serious problem when the national hero has some truly reprehensible traits that others see, but not the hero worshiper or admirer. And it's not like the admirer is saying, 'Yeah, my hero has some bad aspects, but I only like the good stuff. I'm not going to emulate the bad.' Instead, there's almost always an attempt to diss the person criticizing the hero (which you've seen here, no?) or to minimize the faults.

The faults can be seen as extremely serious too. Holding slaves while extolling the equality and liberty of all people is not like a minor infraction. It certainly wasn't one for the slaves so held.

Two is that some folks do think it all is good. I've seen alt-right types defend slavery based on race because the Founders did it. That's thankfully rare, but it does happen.

This goes to the Lost Cause folks. Surely some of them are just ignorant and actually buy that the Antebellum South wasn't so bad and the big issue was self-determination or free trade or just State's Rights. But the folks who initially promoted the Lost Cause argument -- the UDC and its ilk -- were White Supremacists. They promoted this rather than out and out White Supremacy likely because they knew the soft sell would work better. If that were their intent, it worked well because many take the Lost Cause argument seriously and it's the go to argument on the Right in the US.

I'm (somewhat) aware of similar things in Japan and other nations. This isn't something the US has a monopoly on. No doubt, it's probably easier for one to look at a foreign nation and see the problems with excusing war criminals and tyrants when they're not co-nationals. (Actually, though, I've seen folks on the Right defend foreign national heroes provided they were good nationalists too. I've even seen paleo-conservatives defend Ivan the Terrible, to pick just one example.)

Finally, I'd also agree that it doesn't come from a bad place -- the want of heroes -- but let's not say it can't thus have bad results. Worshipping the Founders, for instance, is often used to simply support whatever policy one wants to promote. With Jefferson, for instance, I've seen liberals and conservatives both use him to support their views. Sometimes this is fairly bad because the thing being promoted is not clear thinking about policies, but simply looking to see if some great man endorsed it. That's actually not the approach to policy I want to reinforce or keep entrenched.

And, yes, I know it's a long and hard road to try to work against that. But it's kind of like emancipation or enlightenment in general: it might take a long time and be hard to achieve, but it's worth it, IMO. (Don't get me wrong. I don't think of myself as some heroic figure here struggling against the darkness. I'm just saying my piece here. I'm hardly at the barricades or in the trenches.)



On Thursday, July 9, 2020, 08:19:40 PM PDT, SR Ballard via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote: 

 I actually do support hero worship. I understand the impetus, and at a certain level, the need, for hero worship. 

Humans engage in hero worship because it creates for them a perfect role model to look up to, someone with only good qualities, whom they strive to emulate.

Humans naturally and subconsciously model behavior. If someone only has poor behavior modeled for them and they choose to consciously model after their own “white-washed”, idealized hero-figure, I see that as reasonable. 

I doubt that the majority of people who engage in hero worship are seeking to emulate the real life negative traits of their hero — they’re trying to emulate their perfect fantasy figure. And usually, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

The vast majority of people I have met who were Robert E Lee fanboys didn’t think of him as a slave owner or as defending slavery. They’re the type who doesn’t see the Civil War as about slavery. 

They view the “Lost Cause” as a people claiming their sovereignty, but as the US claimed theirs from England. As defending the right to self-determinantion. As defending and protecting the culture and atmosphere of the South. 

One can find a similar and surprising trend in Japan. You can find memorials to those who died defending the old government, and those who died establishing the new government within a stone’s throw of each other. There are many who are honored not for fighting “against” progress, but rather for putting honor and loyalty above their own lives. 

Hero worship of “bad” people doesn’t usually come from a bad place, I think. 

SR Ballard

On Jul 9, 2020, at 7:50 PM, Dan TheBookMan via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> On Jul 9, 2020, at 8:32 AM, SR Ballard via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Some of you are just small people:  mean, petty, picky.  You know who you are. — bill w
> That’s me. 

In my view, it's better to be seen as 'mean, petty, picky' (by one person here) than to overlook the serious flaws of leaders and national heroes.


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