What do Canadian soccer scores, the Gaza Flotilla Incident, Marxism, and the origins of Christianity have in common? Simple: They all rely on the notion that winning is bad. The triumph of the downtrodden.
We now see the culmination of a grand historical arc playing out right before our eyes. And just as at most epochal turning points, the people experiencing it have little or no idea that it’s even happening.
I want to say just a few words about the Gaza Flotilla, but to arrive there I must first take a roundabout digression. Let’s start our journey in Canada.
The more you score, the closer you come to defeat
A kids’ soccer league in Ottawa recently instituted a new rule: If your team outscores your opponents by more than five goals, then you lose. That’s right — the high-scoring team loses the game:
Win a soccer game by more than five points and you lose, Ottawa league says
In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.
The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.
Kevin Cappon said he first heard about the rule on May 20 — right after he had scored his team’s last allowable goal. His team then tossed the ball around for fear of losing the game.
As insane as this new rule might seem to the naive, it’s neither surprising nor unexpected: Similar anti-competition guidelines which punish winners have seeped into our culture over the last several decades. This Ottawa soccer rule is just the consummation of a larger trend. Many public school districts in the US now discourage or prohibit intra-class competition, not just in games but scholastically as well. Why? Because competition inevitably leads to winners and losers, which leads to athletic or intellectual hierarchies, which leads to social hierarchies, which leads to social inequality. And that‘s the biggest no-no of all.
But the prohibition against competition is often a prelude to a more Orwellian inversion of reality. Many kids’ sporting leagues have something called The Mercy Rule, in which the officials stop keeping score after a certain point if two teams are so mismatched that the game would otherwise become a farce. From there, however, it is a small step to the “Ottawa Rule” whereby you are allowed to score as much as you want, but if you outscore your opponent by too much, you’ll be declared the loser. (One imagines that inept-but-clever Canadian soccer teams will henceforth attempt to win games by “accidentally” scoring own-goals and kicking the ball backwards into their own nets as often as possible; eventually the league could devolve into a frenzy of “suicide soccer” as teams try to rack up as many points for the opponents as they can, seeking to “win” by losing by more than five goals.)
A similar thing happened to me in my elementary school days. One spring, our hip teacher announced that he would soon hand out the award for “Best Student” in the class. Much speculation ensued among the kids as to who it might be; the general consensus was that three students, based on our speed in finishing quizzes ahead of everyone else, were the obvious candidates: Karen, Ronald, or me. But when the big day arrived, the teacher announced, to everyone’s shock, that the Best Student prize was going not to any of us three but instead to Wayne. Wayne?!?!?!? Everyone turned to look at him in amazement. Wayne was, by any valid measure, far and away the worst student in the class. He still had not yet learned how to read. He couldn’t do basic arithmetic. He sat in the back of the room and harassed other students, and didn’t even bother to complete most assignments. In the modern era, he definitely would have been placed in a “special education” class for learning-disabled students, but our public school district back then had eliminated all “tracking” as discriminatory, so students of all calibers were lumped together. Our teacher explained that he was giving the award to Wayne because Wayne needed it more than anyone else, in order to boost his low self-esteem, which was the cause of his misbehavior. (Of course, having his psyche dissected in front of the class humiliated him even more, completely undoing any psychological benefit the award may have given him.) But here’s the kicker: our teacher then announced that Karen, Ronald and me had to sit in the corner and not participate every time there was a quiz for the rest of the year, as punishment for “embarrassing the other students” by finishing too fast and getting perfect scores.
My school district was ahead of the curve when it came to progressive ideals, and what happened to me back then is a natural progression from the non-competition guidelines now becoming commonplace across the country — just as Mercy Rules in sports can eventually lead to “the high-scoring team loses” Ottawa-style decrees.
Christianity, Marxism, and the Triumph of the Downtrodden
Championing the underdog is nothing new. There is a long history leading to what happened in Ottawa and my school.
While these days we tend to think of Christianity and Marxism as polar opposite ideologies in direct contradiction to each other, they both can be seen as formal expressions of the same notion: That the downtrodden, society’s losers, are actually the winners; and that the rich and powerful are the losers.
Jesus said, in Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” He also, in Matthew 19:21, said “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
The inescapable conclusion one draws from these statements by Jesus is that people who are wealthy and successful will in the long run be the greatest losers of all, because they cannot enter heaven when they die. You may be on top now, Jesus is saying, but eventually only society’s losers (the destitute) will get the ultimate reward — eternity in heaven.
From Christianity’s founding and for the next three centuries it was indeed the religion of the underdog; not only were Christians persecuted and oppressed, but their very oppression was seen by early Christians as evidence of their moral rectitude. Suffering was a way of cleansing the soul; the worse off your station in life was, the closer you were to God. Early Christianity was a religion of the lower classes, not of the elite or aristocracy, and as such was almost a form of spiritual proto-Marxism. The worse off you were in social terms, the better off on the spiritual plane. By losing in this this life, you win in the next.
(Of course, all of that changed starting in the 4th century with Constantine, the Council of Nicea and Theodosius, when Christianity transformed into a state-sponsored religion and a powerful political force — but that’s for a different essay.)
1500 years later, Karl Marx came along and invented an anti-religion which nonetheless derived from the same principle: that poor people were the actual possessors of power. The difference between Marxism and Christianity is that under Jesus’ teachings the underdogs’ reward was in the afterlife, whereas Marx envisioned a here-and-now revolution for the oppressed to seize power and become the winners on Earth.
Both Christianity and Marxism appeal to people’s sense of empathy and compassion, something which had been somewhat lacking in other religions and economic systems. But history has shown us that once the oppressed become winners and take power — whether it be the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages or the Russian serfs after the 1917 Revolution — they in turn inevitably become the oppressors themselves. From this we can derive a new axiom: The new boss is always the same as the old boss.
(Of course, I fully realize that Christians will be just as horrified to have their faith compared to Marxism as Marxists will be horrified to have their ideology compared to Christianity, but the key point of similarity, at least to me, is undeniable. Of course there are innumerable differences as well, and both philosophies have changed over the centuries, yet still at their origins they both claimed to champion the underdog.)
Using our empathy as a tool against us
To this day, both Christianity and Marxism are hugely influential worldviews, and aside from those people who overtly identify with one camp or the other, most everyone else ascribes to some kind of political ideology which is at a minimum informed by either Christianity or Marxism. That is to say, Christian values suffuse conservatism, and Marxist values suffuse liberalism — even if you yourself don’t think of yourself as a Christian or a Marxist. Yet since both ideologies share one common feature — sympathy for the underdog — and since most people fall somewhere in the conservative/liberal dichotomy, then everyone in the Western world, regardless of what side you might be on, harbors some secret sympathy for the oppressed and disdain for the victorious.
It is this salient fact that the propaganda maestros of the Gaza Flotilla are banking on. The whole goal of sailing ships toward Gaza is not to “break the blockade,” but rather to seek out and initiate a conflict with the Israeli military. And here’s the key: not merely to enter into a conflict with the Israelis, but specifically to lose a conflict with the Israelis. Because only by losing can the activists and militants claim the victimhood mantle and declare a moral victory. So, just as in a Canadian soccer game, by losing they win.
Arab Culture and the Strong Horse
The West’s affection for the underdog is now widespread throughout the world — except in the Middle East, where Arab culture still reveres the powerful and the victorious. In 2001, Osama bin Laden famously remarked, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” This seemingly innocuous homily summarizes the difference between traditional Arab values and Western values: Not only do bin Laden and his ilk revere the dominant party in any relationship, he assumes that everyone else does likewise. It is for this specific reason that Al Qaeda (and Al Qaeda’s millions of admirers) thought that the 9/11 attacks were a good idea: If we can inflict a defeat on the enemy, Al Qaeda reasoned, then we will gain the world’s sympathy, because we we will have taken the role of the Strong Horse.
Needless to say, bin Laden got it completely reversed: Every time terrorists strike, their cause loses credibility in the West’s eyes, because by killing innocents they have become the aggressor and the oppressor. Most terror groups and Islamic extremist groups still operate under bin Laden’s “Strong Horse” misapprehension.
Luckily for the Islamic extremists, some Western leftists more clever than they have stepped in to rescue the otherwise-discredited Islamist cause. Far-left groups like the Free Palestine Movement and the International Solidarity Movement, along with their innumerable media enablers and Marxist Euro diplomats, have patiently explained to the Islamists that scoring violent victories is counterproductive; the real way to achieve political success in the Western world is to be the victim of a violent defeat. That way, you earn the world’s sympathy, and the powers-that-be give you what you want. It worked for Gandhi in India; it worked for the 1950s Civil Rights movement in the US; it can work for you. Lose your way to victory. Problem is, every power in the Western world already knows this, and they thereby resist appearing as bullies — so the only way to become a victim is to goad your unwilling opponent into defeating you. If you can sufficiently hide the goading from public view, then the response will seem like an aggression, and you win if you lose.
I imagine it must have taken quite a bit of philosophical reconfiguring for the extremists to grasp this ridiculous and counter-intuitive Western way of thinking, but they decided to give it a try. Lo and behold — it worked! At least it worked if you are an MSM collaborator in the ruse. In reality, most of the Islamists still don’t quite grasp the whole concept, so (for example) one can still see the militants on the Gaza flotilla chanting slogans about killing Jews and hoping for success or martyrdom. Uh, fellas, we’re supposed to be posing as the victims here — cool it, will ya?
What we’re now seeing is the tug-of-war internecine struggle between the power-seeking Islamic militants who still live by ancient Arabian codes, and their Marx-inspired Western partners trying to rein them in and use the victimhood/sympathy technique instead. Back and forth, back and forth, as the rest of the world watches in disgust: Violent terrorist acts and declarations of supremacy are interspersed with poorly acted passion plays of victimhood. Do the Islamists really expect us to permanently grant them the role of victim when half the time they’re the victimizers?
Personally, I’m tired of the game, specifically because I know it’s a game. Their real goal is victory and dominance by any means, and I’m not fooled when they use our own cultural norms to deceive us.
Rather than posting a variety of short videos documenting the incitements and failed attempts at victimhood-posturing by the Gaza flotilla militants, I strongly encourage readers to view this clip by Shraga Simmons of MediaGoliath which not only incorporates much of the video evidence into one handy package, but also crisply explains the win-by-losing victimhood strategy explained in this essay: