We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Did the boy who cried “Wolf” believe in wolves?

Obviously he did on his last day, as the wolves killed him. But earlier, when he enjoyed making the villagers run at his command, did the boy who cried wolf believe in wolves? Did he tell himself that every flash of a squirrel’s tail could be a wolf? Did he think all real wolves had been frightened off long ago? Was he just living in the moment, in the intoxication of his power, not thinking of the morrow at all? Or was he too sure that people would always come running when he cried “Wolf” – so they’d still come if there ever really were wolves.

My left-wing friends – those who discuss politics with me – are (obviously 🙂 ) willing to discuss politics with someone like me. They belong to that (dwindling?) band on the left who don’t think the right answer to every question is to call it ‘hate speech’. So they cannot answer easily this question:

do the people who believe in ‘hate speech’ believe in the hatred they say fills that speech? Do the boys and girls who cry ‘hate speech” really believe that anyone’s hatred but their own will ever cause more than willfully-indulged hurt feelings?

How would we know?

– We know what the ‘hate speech’ enforcers say in public (no right-winger can live in a bubble today – which is great for our cognitive diversity), but that just tells me that the boy who cries wolf is crying “Wolf”.

– We can talk to any left-wing friends who haven’t (yet) been cast out for knowing us. But all I know from mine is typified by the one who told me that, since the election of Trump, her west-coast liberal friends were ‘hysterical’ – true, I do not doubt, but more a description than an explanation.

Does anyone know more?

[ADDED LATER: a Quillette article on The Boy Who Inflated the Concept of ‘Wolf’ provides a related take.]

15 comments to Did the boy who cried “Wolf” believe in wolves?

  • George Atkisson

    I think what we’re seeing is an ever desperate effort to maintain the Progressive Narrative that gives leftists their frisson of intellectual and moral superiority to all the lesser troglodytes out there. The virtue signaling and frantic denunciation of everything is meant to reassure themselves and their peers that Everything Will Be OK and utopia is still just around the corner. Thus the insanity of their reaction to Trump, Brexit, the collapse of Venezuela, the actual consequences of massive immigration, global warming, etc. Reality is cruel and refuses to follow the desired script, so science, logic, mathematics and experience must be denounced as racist tools of the Patriarchy so that they can be ignored by The Narrative.

  • Mr Ed

    Of course maths is racist, why else would we owe zero to the Hindu civilisation? We have appropriated nothing.

  • We have appropriated nothing. (Mr Ed, May 1, 2018 at 3:46 pm)

    When everything is racism then nothing is racism.

    (Or, as the boy who cried wolf would put it, “When everything is racism then nothing is racism too”.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed: Well said. (Meaning, Well played. Couldn’t resist the rhyme.) 😀

    . . .

    Niall: Appreciate your point, and it’s very good polemicism. Well done. 🙂

    But. You take for granted that the boy was deliberately deceitful, when that is far from clear. Within the bounds of the story, the boy may well have been quite legitimately frightened on the earlier occasions, rightly or wrongly.

    Indeed, that has always been what I’ve taken to be the main point of the story. And in the real world, that is why many people who see possible disaster ahead are reluctant to get the wind up too much about it. And indeed, sometimes they wait too long.

    Parents, by the way, have to walk this tightrope between overprotectiveness and failing to caution all the time.

    I do believe that Mr. Hank Rearden, yet again predicting disaster to the Usual Suspects there congregated, was roundly taken to task because all of his previous predictions of disaster had come to nought, so that this latest warning was clearly yet more groundless fearmongering. And Rearden replies, “Because I saved you, you damn fools!”

    In the ’30s, Sir Winston faced somewhat the same problem….

    There are, I imagine, several among those who warn about about AGW who (however stupidly) really are sincerely convinced that they are right to worry about it, and to caution the rest of us.


    I had to say all that, to keep straight with myself in defending the innocent. But your piece is well written and effective, and certainly skewers successfully those who are your real targets and guilty as charged. And the ridiculousness of their claims.

    (Also, obviously I’m only speaking to the setup of your posting, the introduction, specifically to the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf and of his possible motivations. I just think you leave out a very important one of those). The rest, good points.

  • Julie near Chicago (May 1, 2018 at 7:19 pm), you’re right that I left out the idea that the boy was in such a state of ignorance about wolves that he was not only actually afraid but legitimately afraid given his minimal state of knowledge. Although the ancient fable insists on the boy’s deliberate deceit, I wrote

    Did he tell himself that every flash of a squirrel’s tail could be a wolf?

    because I wanted to allow for an absence of conscious deceit. (In the analogy, if SJWs tell themselves that “innately inferior” and “victims of racism” are the only two explanations possible whenever a minority group is not at parity in some arena, and disputing the second is therefore asserting the first, then they may diagnose much ‘racism’ from the wilfully intellectually-lazy falseness of their premises, without needing to be consciously dishonest in their specific measurements.)

    There is a youthful age below which believing what you’re told, and not knowing what you’re not told, is not culpable. Some of the young at universities are less guilty than their older indoctrinators. However even an 18-year-old like David Hogg is quite old enough to know by now that he is covering for Sheriff Israel quite as much as he is attacking the NRA – and so he is choosing not to know that. (He is also old enough to know that the jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner he just attended were not very funny.)

  • bobby b

    We think they’re dumb. They think we’re evil.

    How far would you go to combat evil? Would you exaggerate? Would you lie? Would you fight to call the speech of evil people “hate speech” even when it is seemingly reasonable?

    I doubt there is a truly rational explanation for the apparently mindless assertion that all non-progressive speech is “hate speech” beyond the feeling that fighting against the forces of evil requires a suspension of honorable impulses.

    To them, their ends justify their means. They do not need internal justification beyond this.

  • Mr Ecks

    “They think we’re evil.
    To them, their ends justify their means. They do not need internal justification beyond this.”

    Which is why we should be all over the pack of cunts like a very nasty rash.

    Hate speech needs to be abolished but first we need — say— a decade when Marxist bullshit rhetoric is treated as hate speech and lots of red scum get the heavy hand smacking down on their empty skulls.

  • Pyrthroes

    We refer readers to Sheldon Kopp’s work, “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him” (1982). This is billed as a “psychotherapeutic pilgrimage,” but grunting porkers’ Hate Speech vehicle calling for Gulag extermination of anyone uttering Churchill’s “little tiny mouse of thought” is apropos.

    My mousey little friends, it is not for you to safely threaten any syllable a private citizen may utter, in any terms, for any reason. If you do, we will meet you on the road, and grease-spot be thy name from that time forth.

  • Paul Marks

    “Do they really believe it?” – do the left (the so called “liberals”) really believe in the Frankfurt School of Marxism and French Post Modernism stuff? Some of which Niall gives us examples of.

    I do not know if they really believe it or not – I suspect that a lot of them do NOT really believe it and just use it as a way of getting POWER.

    But, whether they really believe it or not, they are prepared to hurt (indeed even to kill) us using these doctrines as a reason or an excuse. So we must defend ourselves against them – and reject their doctrines root-and-branch.

    The practice of people in leading positions in my own political party (the Conservative Party) of going along with “Political Correct” doctrines as long as they do not go “too far” is a mistake – a terrible mistake. This “Equality Agenda” or “Social Justice Agenda” has very clear collectivist aims, and is designed to further those collectivist aims – and trying to fudge it all will not work.

  • It was almost 30 years ago that the ‘loi Gayssot” was enacted criminalizing holocaust denial.

    Obviously holocaust deniers are the worst sort of scum, but that law and others like it paved the way for the current ‘hate speech’ disaster.

    BTW Gayssot was a communist.

  • harleycowboy

    Are pizza chains owned by non-Italians culture appropriation? Is associating pizza with Italians stereotyping?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, I wasn’t aware that the story was one of AEsop’s Fables, or else the knowledge had escaped leaving yet another hole in the cranial Swiss cheese.

    On Looking It Up, that particular is now filled in with the real skinny. I apologize, and thank you.

    I will state that I really did have no idea that the story includes the fact that the boy was known to be a liar on the Wolf issue. I had always understood that it meant that one who predicts Disaster! and gets everyone all het up over and over, with no apparent occurrence of disaster, will at some point be tuned out by the populace, with everyone up the infamous creek on the occasion when the Disaster finally happens.

    This being the case even when the boy is telling the actual, factual truth: The wolf really was there, and he really did see it, but on all the previous occasions the wolf had other things on its mind and bypassed the buffet meadow. Then, one day, it didn’t….

    And so it is, too often, in real life.

    So the lesson I took from the tale was that one should be careful not to give the impression of being hysterically paranoid about something, lest in the event one’s warning be discounted and disaster ensue. My raising of the point that the boy might have been totally honest in his reports came from that understanding, as well as from the general principle of giving the benefit of the doubt if it seems there are possible grounds for doubt. But I should have made it clearer that in my (mis)understanding, the boy might have been factually correct in his previous warnings.

    So, thank you again, this time for correcting my misunderstanding of AEsop’s point. 🙂


    The fact remains that the psychology of people who keep hearing of coming disasters, is often just as described, despite the factual truth, misinterpretation of the observation or downright ignorance, or deceptive untruth — lying — of the claim. And that, to me, is even more important than that a known lie, repeated over and over, loses its power to move them; because this case covers only one of the three possible explanations of the boy’s behavior.

  • 13times

    Getting inside people’s heads is is tricky business.

    Cast of Actors:
    True believers.
    Opportunists – cynical /economic.
    Conformists – social and otherwise
    Followers of – charismatics /orators/demagogues /events

  • bobby b suggests one possible answer. 13times suggests there might be different answers for different subsets of the left. My older post on the gullibility of cynicism suggests there could be two answers at once, or in different phases of a lefty’s lifecycle. But to the OP question, “Does anyone know more?”, it seems the main answer is, “Not much and/or not for sure”.

    There is a second stage: crying wolf, then demanding to know why people think a wolf is nearby.

    There is also a third stage: crying wolf, then saying it’s racist to use the word ‘wolf’ about an actual wolf (see examples here and here).