The Coolest Thing: Sacrifice

by Morgan Freeberg | August 25, 2008 2:40 am

Jonathan Brink was pretty impressed, last week, with something Sen. Obama had to say about sacrifice[1].

If we pretend like everything is free and there’s no sacrifice involved, then we are betraying the tradition of America. I think about my grandparents generation, coming out of a depression, fighting world war 2. They’ve confronted some challenges we can’t even imagine. If they were willing to make sacrifices on our behalf, we should be able to make some sacrifices on behalf of the next generation.

And I agree with every single word of what Obama said. That’s what makes Obama’s remarks truly despicable.

You see, in my eyes this is just another example of liberals using words loaded with deep meaning, in such a way that they look like they’re saying something that’s the opposite of what they’re really saying. Notice how I put my response together: I agree with every single word. With the text as written, I have no quarrel; I’d even agree with it. Enthusiastically.

Trouble is, you have to inspect Obama’s behavior to figure out what he really means by this. And with our most popular leftist policies, lately, I can’t help but notice: Just when we’re about to get a payoff for our sacrifices, a payoff that will help the people we intend to be helped when we’re making our sacrifices — that’s exactly the point at which our left-wing politicians lose interest.

I was a little bit more wordy on this point when I replied[2] to Mr. Brink:

The question that comes up with that word “sacrifice” is a divisive one, and is seldom explored: Is sacrifice the point?

It seems people like Barack Obama never directly address this, and from that, it seems like they cannot afford to. T[o]o many rhetorical questions have the potential to expose the platitude as the empty promise it is.

You mention abortion. Would that not be a virtuous sacrifice, if the Supreme Court were to overturn it? Sacrifice the convenience to people who want to exercise this “choice”…for the sake of the future generation being allowed to live, and have opportunities. That might be the best example possible. But Obama says it’s above his pay grade. How about affirmative action with quotas in hiring and college admissions? Sacrifice grudges and personal crusades for tit-for-tat nonsense…to finally realize this equality everyone says they’ve been wanting for decades, and really make racism a thing of the past, at least, institutionalized racism.

How about sacrificing the global warming campaign? Sacrifice millions of dollars to be made by Al Gore and other holders of stock in fraudulent carbon-exchange mercantiles…so that the future generations can realize their opportunities in full, and the message can be sent to other countries that they need to stop being jealous of America’s prosperity. Or…sacrifice that guy who raped and killed little kids, to make sure he can’t ever do it again. We used to call it executions, we could just call them sacrifices.

I could go on like this all day.

The point is — it seems with people like Barry O, whenever there’s a real payoff to the sacrifice that would be meaningful, and precious to the people who would be in a position to benefit from it, inevitably, that is the point where they stop believing in it. And that leads me to my conclusion: The sacrifice is the point. They don’t want an exchange of lesser-for-greater. They just want pain.

Last month, I droned on about this for quite some time[3], exploring how this fit into the treatise about the virtues of sacrifice, as discussed by John Galt in that dreadful speech of his.

I think liberals like Carl are confused on the concept of sacrifice. There are two definitions to it: There is the outcome-based sacrifice, in which the “sacrifice” itself is just a negligible and unpleasant side effect in the process of upholding what truly matters. The narrower definition, in which the pain is the point, is what John Galt was talking about in that monstrously long speech of his:

Sacrifice is the surrender of value — of a higher value to a lower one, or of the good to the evil.

The code is impossible to practice because it would lead to death, and thus moral perfection is impossible to man.

The Doctrine of Sacrifice cannot provide man with an interest in being good.

Since man is in fact an indivisible unity of matter and consciousness, the sacrifice of “merely” material values necessarily means the sacrifice of spiritual ones.

The self is the mind, and the most selfish act is the exercise of one’s independent judgment. In attacking selfishness, the Doctrine of Sacrifice seeks to make you surrender your mind.

The Doctrine of Sacrifice commands that you act for the good of others but provides no standard of the good. And it requires only that you intend to benefit others, not that you succeed.

The Doctrine of Sacrifice makes you the servant and others your masters -and adds insult to injury by saying you should find happiness through sacrifice.

Somewhere in there Galt made a mention of the mother who went without eating so that her infant could eat; that would not be a sacrifice, according to Galt who was using the pain-based definition of “sacrifice.” That mother would be upholding an ideal important to her system of values, simply paying a price necessary to acquire it. Sacrifice, Galt said, would have been giving up her child for the sake of something not important to her…That is what is meant by surrender “of a higher value to a lower one.” It entails a net loss, because the pain is the point of the exercise.
This is why [liberal] ideas are unfit for implementation in the real world. Out here, if you have a job to do, and you get it done but it didn’t cause you pain, that’s a success. If it was such a painful experience that it injured you, it’s still a failure if you didn’t meet the stated objectives. Reality says it’s all about getting the job done, not what you give up to do it. Our liberals don’t agree. They think, if you’re suitably diminished that you can’t do anything else, and your intentions were noble, then that’s all that matters. Whether the job got done, is just a side bunny-trail to them.

And a couple of weeks later I had applied[4] this to — as an example — the “climate change” issue.

It’s supposed to be all about cause and effect, but nobody ever puts it that way. As in, “if we make these sacrifices the temperature will go up 0.6 degrees over the next fifty years instead of 8.5 degrees and here is why 0.6 degrees will be manageable…”

In fact, nobody comes out and says we’re going to LIVE if we make these sacrifices. They say “we can do this” all the time. It’s the “this”; nobody says what exactly that is.

[Tom] Brokaw speaks for perhaps hundreds of well-known luminaries in his prattle. He doesn’t think “anyone doubts that we have to make some profound changes in this country,” and yet he has to throw out his meaningless bromides about self-sacrifice four times. Why repeat it four times if everyone already understands this is the case?

Getting back to Obama’s verbiage: It is powerful. His voting record has very little potential to win converts to his side, especially from the conservative bloc — this is where he makes up for it. Our country is filled with folks who nurture and labor to reinforce traditional values, and we are sick to death of the overly-materialistic, narcissistic, borderline-hedonistic culture that threatens to consume all of us. Obama mixes his honeyed words with bile, and it sounds like when he talks about “sacrifice” he’s talking about caring for each other instead of for ourselves.

He never actually comes out and says that, though; it isn’t what he means. When he talks about “sacrifice” he’s talking about that narrower, pain-based definition. The one that has to do with getting rid of ourselves, and the things upon which we place priority. About working ourselves into a state of non-existence. He doesn’t really want us to do what people of our grandparents’ generation did. That would be: identifying evil; saying to oneself “dammit there’s gotta be something I can do about this!”; marching down to the recruiter’s office; shipping out to Iraq, and killing as many evil people as possible, until our country won the war. That is what our grandfathers did. And Obama will have none of it.

No, he means what Tom Brokaw meant about climate change. FORGET the goal. Just coming together as part of a crowd, forgetting about your hopes and dreams as an individual. Report to your post and await your orders; leave it to your village elders to define what is important to you.

It is these two definitions of sacrifice that are critical to the method by which Obama seeks to confuse. There is sacrifice for an ideal, in which a commodity representing a lesser value is given up in exchange for a commodity representing a greater value. I throw out a disc in my back to pry a car off my girlfriend or my son, so they can live. I take a bullet for someone.

And then there is sacrifice of the ideals. The sacrifice not only of body, but of mind as well. The sacrifice that brings a human being, as a guardian of objectives and principles, to an inglorious end. That, it has been shown, is what Obama really has in mind when he talks about sacrificing “on behalf of the next generation.”

This is proven, easily. Let’s put a proposal on the table that all spending in the federal government be brought down, across the board, to 1985 levels. Just find a way to get along with that. Sacrifice! For the children. After all, we don’t want the next generation to inherit a government chock full of debt they’ll have to pay. If you take Obama’s comments at face value, he’d be all in favor of that wouldn’t he? Surely, he’d have to be?

But no; that inference is far too logical. He means the opposite. When he talks about sacrifice, he’s talking about increasing taxes.

Too many among us throw around that word “sacrifice” — not as the exchange of a lower value for a higher one, but rather, as the forceful expulsion of individuality. What the rest of us need to keep in mind, is that for them, this isn’t a sacrifice at all. Individuality carries with it some heady personal responsibilities, and a lot of us aren’t in any hurry to take them on. The conundrum they face is that in order to expurgate individuality from their own lives, they have to do the same for everyone else.

And with Obama now the presumptive nominee, that’s become one of the most central issues to the election this year…sadly enough. Obama’s hope is that most of the voters will never figure this out, and he has reason to maintain high hopes.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes[5].

  1. sacrifice:
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  3. droned on about this for quite some time:
  4. applied:
  5. House of Eratosthenes:

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