Democratic Underground  

Crossing the Line
June 10, 2004
By Violet Lake

This is the line: |

It is a metaphor for the point of division, and boundary between opposing forces - in this case the psychological forces that challenge all of us. The resulting dichotomy manifests itself in practically every decision we make, and can be described in many ways:

Human | Animal
Civilization | Savagery
Diplomacy | Violence
Honesty | Deceit
Justice | Greed
Morality | Crime
Logic | Superstition
Love | Hatred

And of course:

Good | Evil

The effect of the dichotomy on the individual is expressed in his or her attitude toward human nature:

Optimism | Pessimism
Locke | Hobbes

In practice, each attitude promotes the version of reality that matches its expectations. Which one do you favor?

Most conservatives admit to a preference for pessimism. Of course, a pessimistic attitude toward human nature doesn't automatically transform a person into a hate-filled, superstitious, greedy, deceitful, criminal, violent, evil, and savage animal. But it does obscure the line - which invites the destruction of meaning.

Some pessimist-conservatives argue that it's human nature to be a hate-filled, savage animal. They also argue that the only way to survive in a world of hate-filled, savage animals is to behave like a hate-filled, savage animal. In effect, they're arguing that in order to defend and promote the values on the left-hand column, it is necessary to betray them.

It goes without saying that on rare occasions, civilized people are indeed forced to "cross the line" and resort to savagery. But an ideology that requires that the line be crossed on a daily basis is merely a set of excuses for indulging in the values on the right-hand column.

In a civilized society, such an ideology can't survive without subterfuge; if the ideology becomes influential enough, the subterfuge can obliterate the boundaries and destroy the meanings that civilization depends on.

Without boundaries, and without meaning, the marvelous human mind is reduced to the dysfunctional output of a sophisticated animal brain. And there is no animal more dangerous - to itself and to others - than a dysfunctional human being.

Sanity | Psychosis
Liberalism | Neoconservatism

As a function, neoconservatism promotes the psychosis that is poisoning American society. Neoconservatives have already crossed the line. Their challenge is to force the rest of us to cross; it's the only way they can prove that it's human nature to be a hate-filled, savage animal. Once that premise becomes gospel - anything goes.

The only way to defeat neoconservatism is to compel it to expose its malevolent nature. That can only be done by tenaciously adhering to the values on the left-hand column. It must be made clear that there is a world of difference between civilization and savagery. The only way to win is by establishing an unassailable example. My optimism toward human nature leads me to believe that if the options are presented honestly, most people will have no problem making the right choice.

Right | Wrong
Progress | Regress
Freedom | Servitude

Violet Lake is an artist and software designer, living somewhere in Pennsylvania. Her e-mail address is

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage