Due to the recent circumstances with the Orlando/Marteen shooting and all the usual idiots coming out of the woodwork as mentioned in Honey Badger Radio 59. I figure now would be the best time for this particular subject of virtue versus virtue signaling. For one by the time this article has released it will have been enough time after the tragedy for the dust to have settled and the wounds to have started to heal. For everything else this is a conversation I feel needs to be had and the sober time right after a tragedy seems to be the best times for subjects like these. So with that in mind let me hammer this in.
To begin we need to define what virtue actually is. A virtue is, in its simplest form, a positive human trait just like a vice is a negative human trait. This is why those two aspects are pitted against each other constantly. Now I’m sure you are wondering why I mentioned vice in relation to virtue signaling, it isn’t simply for a sense of perspective. Virtue signaling in its own way is a vice. This will probably cause a little confusion but bear with me please. In what has been shown on Twitter and various other social media platforms for the past two decades that such outlets have been widely accessible that everyone wants to be a good person. As such we have all been guilty of virtue signaling at one time or another. I hypothesize that this is because of an innate narcissism within the human condition, we all want to be the best out of our group. In many ways its part of our natural human urge for competition.
So when does this become a problem? When are we being virtuous and when are we virtue signaling? As such I’m going to give examples we probably all seen through this Orlando incident. We usually have those people on our feeds who jumped in on “Oh Islam this” or “NRA that” before the bodies even took rigor. These people are virtue signaling for their preferred narrative. By now I’m sure we as MRAs recognize this cleanly. But something I saw from a small handful of was those who damned this virtue signaling with this: “How dare you? 50 people just died! Let their families and community grieve! This isn’t the time for your politics!” I believe this is the response from a truly virtuous person. Someone more concerned with doing the right thing.
Since I’ve come this far I’m betting you are asking: “Alex, this series has always been about video games so why the flying fuck are you talking about fucking virtues?” I’m glad you asked, o colorful one, not just because its important but because I can link it to a classic game series and break the narrative that a non-educational game can’t teach you something. The game in question is Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. How does this game relate? Well in the fourth game of the series the ruler of the land of Britannia (an obvious play on Great Britain), Lord British, codifies a set of eight specific virtues he wishes his kingdom to abide by after the defeat of the enemy from the first trilogy of games. In the game in question after the player character known as the Avatar of Virtues who is in essence gender-neutral the same way as Commander Sheppard is gender neutral masters all eight.
What ends up happening after the previous game but before the beginning of this game is the government of the realm is turned into a monarchal republic, much like the United Kingdom and Canada both. So already we are showing parallels between this fictional world and the real one. Each of the 8 townships of this realm would send an elected representative to go and represent the wishes of the people on a council parliament while Lord British carries veto power much like the American presidency. There is no third branch of supreme judiciary however so that’s where we get our first issue. No third branch to complete the checks and balances. Why am I touching upon this? So we can have a basis of understanding for what happens next. The enigmatic and noble Lord British goes missing for reasons unknown and a proxy reagent is put into power in his stead. This regent Lord Blackthorn who had imprisoned the monarch to obtain this power gave license to three Shadowlords who are named after real life arch demons.
This leads to the 8 virtues that the laws of the land were based upon in the first place. They were codified into a more draconian version than the original virtues given. This is where we get to the meat of this article, the new set of laws are as follows:
|Honesty||Thou shalt not lie, or thou shalt lose thy tongue.|
|Compassion||Thou shalt help those in need, or thou shalt suffer the same need.|
|Valor||Thou shalt fight to the death if challenged, or thou shalt be banished as a coward.|
|Justice||Thou shalt confess to thy crime and suffer its just punishment, or thou shalt be put to death.|
|Sacrifice||Thou shalt donate half of thy income to charity, or thou shalt have no income.|
|Honor||If thou dost lose thine own honor, thou shalt take thine own life.|
|Spirituality||Thou shalt enforce the laws of virtue, or thou shalt die as a heretic.|
|Humility||Thou shalt humble thyself to thy superiors, or thou shalt suffer their wrath.|
As you can tell these are all good concepts taken beyond reason, now how does this relate to virtue-signaling? Think of the most common virtue taught by social justice warriors: Tolerance. If that were a virtue in this extremist system it would be as such, Tolerance: Thou shalt tolerate thy lessers, or thou shalt not be tolerated. Sounds very much like how they signal for this virtue does it not? That is how we get to the evils of virtue-signaling, it always leads to extremism, and as such the exact opposite of each virtue via the horseshoe effect. By forcing people to be brutally honest you remove their will to speak, by forcing their compassion you give them less desire to interact with others, so on and so forth.
I won’t go on in how this manifests in the actual game because I believe everyone should give this older series a shot, it is easily found as free abandonware across the net. There would be no Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect without this series to show them how it’s done. But I will state that we are seeing such effects in real time here with cries to ban guns, shun innocents, and call out the least related people in our society as the cause of the problems. We are seeing this with Orlando, we’ve seen it with Cologne, and we’ll probably see it again with the next tragedy and the next one until we start telling it like it is. This is by far social media’s greatest weakness as everyone seems to desire to gain points in popularity by showing how ‘virtuous’ they are and therefore showing ‘great virtues’ by telling everyone how they think they should live. This is draconian, authoritarian and overall not a trait to use in relation to a liberal, secular democratic republic. You will see this in Ultima V as the land of Britannia is shown to change from land of acceptance and prosperity to a realm of fear and decline. This atmosphere is exactly what terrorists want, which is why we can’t allow it to take hold any longer.
So what do I suggest if you see people virtue-signaling and fear-mongering online? Stay calm, collect yourself and your facts, then present them politely and pleasantly. Once you’ve done that explain to them the facts we’ve seen about virtue signaling here. Show them that by giving into such things that terror wins. Maybe then they’ll come more to reason than to brash emotion. They’ll become truly virtuous, as virtue will naturally come to be within yourself. As always I suggest doing your own research and comment below to help flesh out this idea. My sources are as follows:
-Original Instruction Booklet for Ultima V: http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-ultima-v_10735.html
As always, please remember to Game Freely.
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 124: Nice Try Kotaku! This Won’t Work Though! - July 8, 2019
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 123: We Shouldn’t Go Straight to Mars! How Anime Got Space Right! - July 1, 2019
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 122: You’re Reviewing What Now? The Dissenter Web Browser! - June 10, 2019