President Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned America that what we now call “owning” — (from leetspeak, “pwning”) — would cost us our liberty and bring us despotism.
Washington wrote: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. … It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”
A prophecy of January 6th ...
Last March, Derek Robertson at Politico explored at length “How ‘Owning the Libs’ Became the GOP’s Core Belief.” He writes, “But in a post-Trump America, to ‘own the libs’ is less an identifiable act or set of policy goals than an ethos, a way of life, even a civic religion.”
Donald Trump did not establish this religion. He is merely its high priest.
As Evan Osnos last month wrote in The New Yorker of talk-radio rising star Dan Bongino, “He announced a new sense of vocation: ‘My entire life right now is about owning the libs.’”
Denunciation of what is now called “pwning” goes way back. Alcuin of York, around 800 A.D., warned Charlemagne “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness."
Churchill expressed a genially skeptical yet more charitable view. He stated on November 11, 1947, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
H.L. Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore, probably came closer to the truth when he wrote in A Few Pages of Notes, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
Washington clearly was indicting what we call “pwning,” then known as “faction.” Now both the Republicans and the Democrats, each dogmatically sure of its own righteousness, defame their opponents as evil.
The reigning partisans reflexively oppose everything that emerges from the other party, rejecting even policies which they previously had embraced. George Washington must be spinning in his grave.
Both parties are guilty. Megan McArdle writes in The Washington Post, “Democrats have gotten out of the habit of thinking of the Republican Party as a normal opposition. … A left that understood it could lose, outright, would still care about election integrity. But it would also try to stem recent losses by shifting focus away from the divisive issues that excite young progressives, and toward bread-and-butter policies that are broadly popular.”
Snowflakes among both totalitarian-leaning reactionaries like Sen. Josh Hawley and totalitarian-leaning progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren whine about the purported anti-social and politically degrading effects of social media. They miss the point.
Big Social, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, offers (at most) a mild, G-rated, version of pwning. The real problem is the NC-17 berserker — “those who were said to have fought in a trance-like fury” — version. It emerges from World of Warcraft and its progeny.
Per Inverse, “massively popular games like League of Legends and Fortnite made online gaming into a mainstream hundred-billion-dollar industry, dragging those gamer terms into the spotlight, and there’s no word that better embodies how geeky jargon has made it into the mainstream better than ‘Pwned.’ The gamer slang is a misspelling of ‘owned’ that has come to mean a person being totally and completely dominated by an opponent in any situation.”
Reportedly, great fun when played in cyberspace!
Back here in the political metaverse? Not so much.
Small-l-liberal-small-r-republicanism by its nature is no spectator sport. Nor is it a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” into which it has degenerated.
True republicanism does not send its elected representatives to act as gladiators in a life-or-death tournament. Suetonius’s ethos, “Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you,” is profoundly un-American.
Virulent talk show hosts play the role of little Caesars in the Coliseum. With a turned thumb, the verso pollice, they vicariously dictate whether the gladiator lives or dies.
Good for ratings.
Destructive of liberty.
The republican political order demands that the citizens consistently engage, civically and civilly, with, rather than merely elect and orphan, their officials. The Constitution assumes that our ultimate role will be that of the wind beneath the wings of our leaders.
George Washington warned us that succumbing to faction, pwning, destroys liberty. Great for would-be despots. Antithetical to making America great again.
Fellow citizens? Abandon trance-like fury.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $94T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.