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Ed Driscoll

Kafkatrapping

September 3rd, 2013 - 12:48 pm

“Kafkatrapping” isn’t a term that he coined, but I imagine this post from William A. Jacobson at his Legal Insurrection blog will help put it into wide circulation, particularly in regards to “white-liberal white-baiting link-baiting gone wild,” Prof. Jacobson’s description of the recent trend of Websites such as Slate and Salon to take their racialism to absurdest new heights:

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap….

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

Steven Den Beste once wrote that George Orwell’s 1984 has gone from being a postwar warning to his fellow socialists that their ideas could eventually lead to a dangerously totalitarian future, to simply being a how-to guide for the left to make that future a reality. Why wouldn’t Kafka’s earlier warnings about the rapacious nature of the leviathan state also be remarkably appealing to the left?

Why is why, as Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon noted a while back on Twitter, the goal for those who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid is to be this guy:

fight_liberal_fascism_be_this_guy_9-3-13

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It'd be nice if you credited the person who invented the term "kafkatrapping" and linked to the original essay.

That was me, and the essay is at http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122
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