Give a Man a Mirror…
I created a controversial poll in an online group of what is often said to be Germany’s top 1% of academics. The poll was designed to show the maximum of violence, if any, they would want the government to employ against peaceful people who don’t wish to get the covid vaccine. This is a specific application of Logan Chipkin’s thought experiment asking how much violence one is willing to employ against peaceful dissenters. The majority (137 out of 217, that’s 63%) spoke in favor of violence, sometimes extreme violence such as murder or forcible injections. Only 37% spoke out against it, instead favoring voluntary vaccines. I was one of these 37%. (If you think you don’t support violence, I can almost guarantee you that you’re wrong.)
While disgusting, these results were not that surprising: most people love violence and deny that society is possible without it, despite all their explicit talk of peace and love. If you doubt that, try arguing for freedom from taxes, say, or try arguing that children shouldn’t be forced to go to school, and you’ll have an avalanche of hatred wash over you in no time. People are generally more pessimistic than they should be. Many don’t even realize that persuasion is a peaceful alternative to violence. Academics in particular should be expected to favor violence out of collectivist/altruistic motivations because they thrived in the violent environment that is school. I suspect participants in the poll would have been even more open about their support for violence if the poll had been anonymous. And they didn’t find the results surprising themselves: they nodded their heads so vigorously in agreement with each other one had to worry they might come off.
But here’s what did surprise me: the participants were mad at me for shining a light on their lust for violence against dissenters. One of them tried to have my post taken down. Most tried to intimidate me into agreement, lied about me, or insulted me. Out of 161 comments, most were full of vitriol. Nobody lamented how awful it was that the results favored violence.
Give a man a mirror, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’ll blame you.