An extreme quote with which to begin a blog post? Perhaps. It is, however, where my mind was taken when I saw this:
About a year ago, Will Wilkinson had a post about a similar video that celebrated an “I only sleep with Democrats” theme. Wilkinson’s objections centered around the way that the video “simultaneously reduces politics to fashion and elevates fashion to morality” and the disagreeable notion that female sexuality was some prize that ought to be doled out to those males who tow the right line. As one commenter put it:
The point is that 1) it views politics as a matter of tribal affiliation, 2) that women’s bodies and sexuality are viewed as a resource at the disposal of the tribe, to be used as a prize to keep the coalition together. These are fundamentally illiberal, anti-feminist ideas.
This is part of my objection, but it is really just the beginning. It is “fundamentally illiberal” to ask individuals to put their own personal choices and preferences at the disposal of the group, but much of what falls under contemporary Progressive thought is illiberal- and I mean liberal in the classical Enlightenment sense. The nature of liberty is such that people are free to dispose of it as they will. If people wish to subsume their own identities into some larger social project, then so be it. We all do it to some extent.
So why did I have such an extreme reaction to this Rock the Vote video? Why did it immediately get visions of some totalitarian, boot-smashing future running through my head? It mostly has to do with this phrase, “politics is personal”, a reworking of the feminist credo, “the personal is political.”
Let’s take a look at that whole quote that I excerpted in the title. It’s from 1984 and it begins like this:
We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now.There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy.
When you begin to inject politics into sexual relationships, you are quite literally emmeshing politics into the ties that bind people together. If totalitarianism comes to us, it will most likely not come in the form of an invading army or even through a violent revolution. It will come from an ever-creeping ideology of “personal politics.” It will come as people begin more and more to replace their own personal tastes, wants, desires with those of the group. Political power will become replaced by aesthetic power, the ability to dictate what is acceptable and what is not. What happens then? The answer comes in another quote from 1984:
Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.
Again, is this extreme? Yes, but that is the point. The idea that you should only sleep with someone who agrees with you about health care or about which way to vote is an extreme idea. It is unfortunate that so many people do not see this.