Taboos

The Scandinavian nationalist, Fróði Midjord, is fond of saying that the way to break a taboo is to break the taboo. The logic is that taboos only work as a crowd control device when the crowd agrees with the taboo. If people stop abiding by a taboo, then it loses its power to enforce behavior. We see this with the social norms that have fallen away since the 1960’s. Things like adultery and divorce were normalized, in part, by people ignoring the taboos against them.

Of course, a good way to have your life destroyed is to go around breaking taboos, especially the ones that matter to the people in charge. Start talking race realism at your office and you not only get fired, you become unemployable. Break the taboo against fighting back against left-wing street thugs and you could end up in prison. Breaking taboos works only when a critical mass of people decides to break the taboo and a larger set of people are ready to join them.

That’s the other problem with taboo breaking. Without popular or institutional support, the taboo breaker ends up enforcing the taboo. He gets hauled out in front of the crowd and is properly punished. The crowd sees it and the point is made. If you don’t want to end up like the guy being made into an example, don’t break the taboo. Rosa Parks would not be known to us without the support of the ruling class. Her taboo breaking was welcomed by the people in charge.

Obviously, taboos are an essential part of every human society. They are the unwritten rules that habituate people to the historic norms of society. Usually, they have some basis in reality. A prohibition against going to the dark part of the forest is probably because it poses a real danger. A taboo against infidelity is rooted in the understanding that stable families make for a stable society. Shaming the adulterer is a way to discourage the behavior that disrupts stable family life.

Taboos also require a moral authority. We’re pretty sure belief, as in spiritual belief, co-evolved with language. There’s a pretty good chance that religion co-evolved with human settlement. As human groups began to settle down and invest in their territory, rather than just guard it, religion evolved to provide both the rules to govern human relations and to provide an authority for those rules. If the gods think you should not steal from your neighbor, you should listen to them.

When a taboo is rooted in religion or even tradition, it becomes self-enforcing. Humans are social animals, which means we want to be thought well of by others, so we look to show our conformity to group norms. One way to do that is public piety. The person known for fidelity to the faith or the traditions of the group is always going to be thought well of by his peers. Enforcing taboos is a good way to demonstrate your piety, thus you are someone that can be trusted by others.

This is the fundamental flaw in the current taboos. There’s no religious basis for anti-racism, for example. Even if there was, the people screaming about racism are flamboyantly opposed to religion. There’s nothing in our history or traditions that can be the moral authority for something like anti-racism. Republican virtue demands equality before the law and support for the basics of citizenship, but it does not require you to live next door to a black guy. In fact, it opposes such a requirement.

Most of the current taboos are deliberately conceived to contradict religion and tradition, which are dismissed as white privilege. The normal impulse to be around those with whom you have something in common has been anathematized in order to damage the normal functioning of society. Sending men dressed as women into the schools, while demanding everyone celebrate it, is nothing more than an outlandish rebuke of religion and tradition. Its only purpose is spite.

The same can be said for the whole catalog of modern taboos. There is no moral authority for them. There’s no logical basis for them either. A society that thinks sexualizing children is acceptable cannot rationally claim it is immoral to oppose the normalizing of men in dresses. The only authority for the current taboos is the force wielded by the taboo makers. They have control of the institutions and use that power to enforce these taboos on society.

Force is always the costliest form of rule. When the law is the habit of mind and obedience is the natural instinct, the ruling class does not have to spend very much to maintain order and their place at the top of that order. On the other hand, when their rule is at odds with habit and the people must be forced to obey, the cost of maintaining order eventually exceeds their capacity to impose it. Our ruling class is exhausting itself maintaining this collection of absurd moral codes.

It is why deliberate taboo breaking is probably the wrong course. Giving the people in charge easy targets and useful examples lowers the cost of enforcement. Mockery and avoidance do the opposite. It’s hard to drop the hammer on someone who is mocking your silly taboos. It’s expensive to root out the bad thinker minding his own business in the cubicle farm. The guerrilla in a modern moral war must live in the shadows, turning up to mock the enemy, but always avoiding direct confrontation.